Well, this is good news indeed. Capital Entertainment
announced the release of a fantastic Duckula DVD set,
26 first season episodes of Cosgrove Hall's classic
series, spread over
three shiny discs. Special features include samples
of original artwork
and exclusive interviews with the folks up at Chorlton-cum-Hardy....
...Which all sounds great, doesn't it? Well,
it is, apart from the fact that
this is actually an American set, not officially
scheduled for a Region 2
release. Yes that's right, once again our
American friends are getting
inifinitely better DVD service than us Brits
- and for a UK series, to boot.
But before you climb on to your soapbox
to expound and enrage, you might
like to hear that all is not yet lost, because
is actually a Region 0 release,
And that, my friends, means that all three
discs should play rather splendidly
on most regular UK machines, after all!
Of course, Duckula has appeared on disc
before over here. But we've only
had one slaphazard compilation thus far
Vacation), and there's
no word yet on an official UK release for
the series proper. So let's give
top-billing (geddit?) to what is, indeed, a Capital
release. Now, what's the
current exchange rate....?
Roobarb's back! - Well, okay, that's not news
to most of you. The return
of everyone's favourite
wobbling wonder has been touted for what seems like
eons, but for those who still haven't heard, here's
the spiel: "Roobarb" creator
Grange Calveley and A&B TV Ltd have been putting
together all-new stories
for a brand new series. It's taken a while to get here,
but finally "Roobarb and
Custard Too" will begin airing on Five, from Monday 8th
August at 8.45am,
as part of their busy "Milkshake!" slot.
The PR promises more of that
wibbly-wobbly-wondeful "boiling" look (this
time, via modern effects), and
what's more, Richard Briers will be reprising
his role as the voice of our
tittering titular star(s).
So what is the news here? - Well, there's a new star
character to look out for,
that's what. It's a chap known only as "Mole",
who is not only a little furry
burrowing mammal, but also a little furry burrowing
Welsh mammal with a
voice that's said to sound just a little like that
of Richard Burton!
Mole will surely fit very snuggly alongside Roobarb,
Custard the Cat and
those twitterpated birds, who first bubbled on
to our screens just over thirty
years ago. The
original series had a spectacular vibrancy, with Bob Godfrey's
felt tip characters leaping off our teatime screens,
and in to our living rooms,
accompanied by that squiddly theme tune.
To celebrate Roobarb's return, The Hound has joined
director Jason Tammemagi
in his garden shed, to chat about the green guy,
past and present, and you
can check out what
Jason had to say here.
Has lightning been bottled twice? - Well, "Roobarb
and Custard Too" kicks
of with the episode "When there was a Surprise",
in which Roobarb constructs
a new-fangled computer, with spectacular results. Which sounds
like it is
indeed, business as usual in the garden!...
"Harry and his Bucket Full of Dinosaurs"
are on their way to Five. Silver Fox
Films dropped us a line today, to announce the
news, and to give us a
sneaky-peek at the stars. So here's Harry and
his prehistoric pals for you:
As regular visitors here will know from
past news, Harry's a lucky lad who
owns a bucket of toy dinosaurs who come
to life for all sorts of fun and frolics.
The 52 x 10min series is based on the popular
picture books by Ian Whybrow
Wolf) and Adrian Reynolds, and it's actually the very first collaboration
between Silver Fox Films and the fine folks at
Collingwood O'Hare (together
with Canada's CCI Entertainment).
Harry's set to make his UK debut as part of Five's
"Milkshake!" strand on
Saturday 1st October. In addition, we can look
forward to appearances later
this year on Tickle U, the new pre-school
block from Cartoon Network US,
and on Teletoon in Canada, as well as a bucket
full of overseas channels.
'Can't wait to see the finished show!...
++++++++++ STOP PRESS 23rd August +++++++++++++++++
Silver Fox tell me there's been a change of date
- Harry's broadcast slot
on Five has been moved forward to Saturday 10th
September. That means
we'll meet this happy chappy and his prehistoric
pals a month earlier than
was previously fanfared!
++++++++++ STOP PRESS 23rd August +++++++++++++++++
With Europe currently awash with wartime remembrance,
have picked a particularly fitting time to release
War Game on DVD.
"War Game" was adapted from the award-winning
picture book by Michael
Foreman and it retells that famously brief encounter
in the trenches, during
the First World War, in which the British and
Germans partook of a game of
football on Christmas Day. It sounds the stuff
of legend, but it's unequivocally
fact. And what's also unequivocal is that this
film is beautifully directed and
produced, by Dave Unwin and by Iain Harvey's Illuminated
Revelation have given "War Game" a
superior presentation on disc, with extras
that include an interview with the production
team, commentaries, test sequences,
character sheets, and a presentation for the sequel
adaptation "War Boy".
The film itself is presented in glorious 16:9
widescreen and 5.1 Surround,
which makes for a very moving experience indeed.
"War Game" seems to have slipped under
the radar for many, but is unforgettable
for those who have discovered it previously, during
it's Christmas 2003 broadcast,
or on the festival circuit, where it has garnered
many deserved awards. Illuminated's
Iain Harvey previously produced When
the Wind Blows, and "War Game" is built
on a similar foundation. We watch as our young
"heroes" progress from the
golden fields of England, to the shock and awe of the
trenches. This is,
essentially, a childrens' film so the visuals are restrained,
but by the end of
our tale we are left in no doubt of the horror as
we peer through black smoke
and a wall of orange fire, before our friends are led
"over the top", to dissolve
into charcoal outlines, and in to history. "War
Game" also succeeds in
presenting friend and foe with rare depth and
humanity. In this particular
game, time and again, we've learnt that no one ever
++++++++++ STOP PRESS ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The Hound has five fabulous copies of this DVD
to give away, courtesy
of Revelation Films. Check out the War
Game giveaway page for details
of how to enter. But hurry, the deadline for the draw
is August 1st!
You know, when it was first fanfared by ITV, Mr
Bean: The Animated Series
sounded like a rather lazy commission, a
somewhat foolish foray into that
distinctly American realm of live-action adaptation.
We don't make those sorts
of series here in Blighty. We leave it to Hollywood
to make those mistakes
whilst we busy ourselves with a conveyer belt of perfect
But lo and behold, "Mr Bean: The Animated
Series" soon revealed itself to
be hugely stylish, beautifully crafted, and really
rather terrific. The first
thing to strike you is its delicious design. It
has a kind of modern retro feel,
a cross between those UPA classics of the sixties (Mr
Magoo, etc), and the
hi-tech styling of Gendy Tarkofsky (Dexter's Laboratory,
etc). The live-action
character has been meticulously reworked by the
team at Tiger Aspect, Richard
Purdum's and Varga Studios, working closely with
their star so that every pratfall,
every double-take, annoying grunt and guffaw is
pure, unmistakable "Bean".
It's also stuffed with lovely detail, like
all those silly shop names in the
backgrounds, and references on the posters and
hoardings. Oh, and then
there's poor "Teddy", who suffers such
miserable and constant abuse
from our hero...
Which all adds up to a very classy package indeed,
and makes it a delight to
at last be able to highlight the show's forthcoming,
and now hugely anticipated, DVD
release. Volume one of "Mr Bean: The Animated Series"
finally hits stores
next month, on or around August 29th, courtesy of Universal.
The disc features
the first eight episodes, and includes a useful little
"making of" documentary
to boot. If you've dismissed this one in the past,
yourself a favour a buy this
Poor old Mr Bean has had a bumpy ride over the
last couple of years. His
series was initially trumpeted as the UK's
first primetime Saturday toon
commission, before he was inexcusably shifted
to strange gaps in the
schedules on Sunday mornings and Bank Holidays,
before finally being
shoehorned it into the CiTV time-slot, where he
currently plays daily.
One suspects that the show simply fell foul of
preconceptions like mine,
and that it's taken time to find an audience.Well,
shame on us all, because
what we have here is, unequivocally, a modern
The hellishly talented Alan
Gilbey has just dropped us a line to reveal details
of his forthcoming animation school at Bristol
school of Art, Media and Design.
As regulars to these pages will know, Alan was
formerly one half of Peafur
Productions, under whose banner he and David Freedman
brought us Mr. Hell
and Marion the erstwhile Bounty
Hamster. Alan also co-wrote The
First Snow of Winter
and the Foxbusters series,
and he worked on the first series of Rex the Runt. Which
is a roundabout way of saying that this chap knows his toons.
and that, frankly, we might learn a thing or two from
what he has to say!
A three-day writing for animation summer school run by tutor
Alan Gilbey at the Bristol school of Art, Media and
The course will look at the art and craft of writing
for performance in general, and for animation in particular,
focusing on what makes a good concept and a great script,
then looking at the particular demands, joys, frustrations
freedoms offered by the animated film or series.
Alan has won many awards including two BAFTA's, two Royal
Television Society Awards, a Britsh Animation Award
Canadian equivalent of an Emmy. He has co-developed shows
for major studios on both sides of the Atlantic, including
Animations (Rex The Runt) Cosgrove Hall Films (Foxbusters),
The Disney Channel, Universal Pictures and Fox.
Sounds good, eh? - Well, Alan promises folks
a jolly good time for all:
"As I normally run half day workshops, this
will be a great
opportunity for them that turns up to explore
in depth, do lots of writing exercises and realise
out of useful things to say!
We'll be watching lots of films too, both commercial
animation and those ones with broken puppets being
menaced by rusty pairs of scissors.
As in my usual animation workouts I will be doing my
very best to ensure a busy, buzzy atmosphere and not
me talking a lot while people take notes!"
Ah, what modesty. Mr. Gilbey is a hugely-talented
chap, and a great
bloke to boot. The Hound reckons this could be
time very well spent,
not only for newcomers, but also for established
folk wanting to brush
up their writing skills and "talk toons"
with someone who knows....
For crying out loud! - Here we are, just a few
short months after that
horrendous computer failure, and everything is
coming back on line.
The site is ticking along with updates and additions,
my Inbox is
buzzing with questions and contacts and news...
And then my server goes down.
Well, that's not strictly true. It's not "my"
server at all. It belongs to
my hosting company. But I couldn't care less about
the ownership of
said item or system or whatever may be. I only
know that it's the
fing wot keeps this here web site visible to folks
around the world,
and that I pay good money to keep these pages
available to one
and all, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week...
But then the sever goes down, or so I'm informed.
And that left this
site and my email unavailable to a rather large
number of people
earlier this week. On its own, it's not
terribly important. Just a
minor hiccup, or "one of those things".
But the trouble is, it's
not alone. I seem to be encountering numerous
by this server-thingy, and the failings of my
hosting company to
keep it up and running as smoothly as they should.
not fun. It undermines everything I'm trying to
do here. I bust a
gut to get a page created/updated/modified, only
to find I can't
post it online, or it can't be seen by folks who
have asked for
it - or - well, you get the picture.
Now I'm left between a rock and a hard place. I only
paid my annual
hosting fee a couple of months ago. If I switch hosts
now that outlay
will be lost (they don't "do" refunds). Plus
there's the technical debacle
involved, to get the site shifted over to a new host.
I dread to think what
might go wrong there...
I guess I'll just keep my paws crossed for now.
Hopefully, these outages
have come to an end. Hopefully, I won't be hearing
from folks who couldn't
send me feedback, or view the many new index pages
I'm hoping to
add to the site over the coming weeks...