Shiny Shelf


That Was The Year That Was – Part Two

By Shiny Shelf on 29 December 2004

I hate this sort of thing. I should probably be disqualified from commenting on comics this year on account of only really reading ‘Astonishing X-Men’. Likewise my lit reading is woefully behind with only ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ being published in 2004. I very nearly threw ‘The Da Vinci Code’ out of a high speed train window in contempt at the leaden prose whereas ‘The Curious Incident…’ generates conversations so I think it is easy to guess which would be my book of the year.

I’m rather better on TV: the BBC produced an adaptation of ‘North and South’ which played fast and loose with the novel and creating a better drama for it. They also made ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ which beats all other reality shows hands down by being both ridiculously glam and not relying on people shouting at each other. BBC4 had lots of good documentaries of which I would single out ‘Not Cricket: The Basil D’Oliveira Conspiracy’ as a timely reminder that sport and politics are always intertwined and ‘Apocalypse Now…and Then’ which ran through the history of doomsday scenarios. (BBC4’s repeat schedule is also a must for anyone interested in pivotal TV of the last fifty years, so getting my vote for ‘channel of the year’). I may be alone in the country in not howling with mirth at ‘Little Britain’.

Cinema has been my biggest love of the year, with ‘Hero’ my favourite film for all that it was due for a 2002 release. If only my local fleapit had got ‘House of Flying Daggers’ this year…Also worth catching were ‘Zoitachi’, ‘Kill Bill’ (is anyone sensing a sword theme here?) and ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ (if only for the realisation of the illustrations). ‘Bridget Jones 2′ entertained me solely by dint of having the trailer for the new Star Wars film on before it.

Music-wise, all hail Franz Ferdinand and the return of bass-led indie rock, blasting out the twee maudlin rubbish of Coldplay and their washed-out acolytes. FF are a great live band, well-captured in the studio. But live band of the year is The Pipettes, a gleeful mix of driving post-punk basslines and Ronettes girl group vocals on songs such as ‘I Love A Boy in Uniform (School Uniform)’, ‘Just a One Night Stand’ and ‘Tie Me To the Kitchen Sink’. The Pipettes will be the band of 2005, if only someone will sign them.

Mags L Halliday

It’s easier to write the round up for 2005 than 2004 – ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and the new ‘Doctor Who’ series are going to bestride a year packed full of great American shows old and new on TV, like ‘Lost’ and ‘Alias’, ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘The West Wing’. In return, we’ve sent them Kim and Aggie, and gone halves on the over-rated, one-note ‘Battlestar Galactica’. It represents a hell of a trade deficit. ‘The Book of Dust’, the revamp of the ‘His Dark Materials’ play and – even compromised – the movie of ‘Northern Lights’ will reconfirm Phillip Pullman’s dominance over the British literary scene. ‘The Hitch-hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy’ movie might work … but it’s damned if it does and it’s damned if it don’t – digital watch jokes aren’t going to work in 2005, and cut and pasting the word ‘cellphone’ instead will just annoy everyone. I love the books, but they read increasingly like period pieces. You’re not going to inspire wonder with the Guide itself, when half the audience are carrying phones and iPods which make it look like telegraphy.

Cinema this year seems to be characterised by movies you forgot all about until the DVD came out – ‘Van Helsing’, ‘Hellboy’, ‘I, Robot’, ‘Spiderman 2′. Movie makers haven’t quite got the hang of CG, yet. It’s significant that the best bits of the all of those movies were the little character moments, or the rare good joke roving into view. I loved ‘Sky Captain’, but I’d been terrified to think it was the best movie of the year. Luckily, ‘The Village’ was fantastic and ‘The Incredibles’ rode in as the year was finishing to significantly raise the average. The undoubted highlight of 2004 on the radio, good even with little competition, was the adaptation of ‘Life, The Universe and Everything’, a mix of nostalgia and thoughtful adaptation. My tip for the top, pop-pickers, is ‘The Archie Bronson Outfit’, a rocky, clever band whose debut album has production values that are raw in a bad way, but who’ll kick bottom at some point soon. And I knew about them before you did, so nyerr.

Lance Parkin


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