Everybody loves a bit of Gotye’s ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ but here’s an alternative that George Lucas might not want to pay attention to. This great spoof uses a blend of both films and music video and speaks for a good ol’ section of the adult population that remember the first time a Star Destroyer appeared chasing a Frontier Runner in 1977.
Ca De Nas (Cristian Cadenas) is a master of arms for the Jedi. One of the foremost trainers of Lightsabre technique in the galaxy, Ca De Nas is based on Coruscant at the time of Order 66. A trainer of Anakin Skywalker in the years prior to the Clone Wars, Ca De Nas tried to impart the wisdom of open hand techniques in battle and introduce mercy, guile and non-fatal attacks. Anakin struggles to fight his teacher for a time, until fury takes hold. Ca De Nas instinctively held back some of the techniques taught to all Padawans at Master Yoda’s request and Obi Wan’s agreement until he had demonstrated greater control of his temper. Ca De Nas’ capacity for guile and adaptability make him a difficult opponent and a respected warrior in the Jedi ranks.
We’ll admit we don’t watch much TV at Beyond the Bunker (we tend to catch this stuff on DVD – which this year would’ve led to reviews of Firefly and Battlestar Galatica) but we’ll try to make sure we keep up next year as best we can. Or review DVDs we’ve seen. Or get rid of it completely. Never-the-less here’s an attempt at the Best series of the year awards 2011 based on the buzz and our own personal choices.
Denied Winner – Game of Thrones (Season 1)
According to popular buzz surrounding HBO’s blood and thunder epic Game of Thrones, featuring LOTR’s Sean Bean, Conan’s Jason Momoa and Tesco’s ad’s Mark Addy in various roles we know nothing about, it’s an absolute corker and the best thing out this year. However, because of delays in releasing the DVD – causing online bloggers all over the web to declare that they’ve been left with no choice but to pirate it to get their fix in spite of wanting to support their favourite TV programme – we haven’t seen it. But we hope to. Oh yeah.
Based on George R.R. Martin’s epic series of novels the series has an enormous following and from what we’ve heard – rightfully so. As seven families fight to control the mythical land of Westeros, political and sexual intrigue is pervasive. In all of this chaos, clear and entertaining characters are struggling to gain increasing amounts of power – through savagery, skullduggery and sexual manipulation. Sounds great.
Winner – Sherlock (Season 1)
In spite of the fact that the decision by the BBC to produce a modern day turn for the world’s most famous detective, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as the titular detective and his now unwilling partner, Watson generated some concern regarding the dumbing down of a British classic, Sherlock proved to be one of the best series released in recent years for a number of reasons.
It proved itself so slick, challenging and interesting that even die hard fans of the original Sherlock were brought on board. Initially, a three episode series, Cumberbatch’s depiction of an ostrasised and maligned genius detective being followed by a beleagured and bemused hobbled war veteran turned journalist through his first set of cases wooed audiences and made Cumberbatch a household name, previously restricted to period costume and theatre performances that while no doubt engaging failed to reach so wide an audience.
Combining assured and intelligent scriptwriting by Dr Who and (in one one case) League of Gentlemen scribes Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss, BBC’s primetime production values and an award baiting turn from relative unknown Andrew Scott as Sherlock’s new found nemesis Moriarty – the game is very much afoot for Series 2.
With Season 2 starting on New Years Day on BBC1, now would be a good time to familiarise yourself with the return of the great detective in this assured, intelligent and gripping series.
Best Current Series – Walking Dead (Season 2)
Frank Darabont’s translation of Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead serialisation has been happily consistent with it’s source material. The bravery of focussing on the assembled survivors allows such a series to be created but the sense of scale that is realised – particularly in the devastation of Atlanta in the opening episode of Season 1 – gave the feel of the piece a much bigger scale than most American series. This was continued in Season 2 from the very first episode, featuring a debilitatingly tense scene involving ‘a herd’ and a plot point unexpectedly introduced from further through the comic book series.
It is a careful adaptation, using large swathes of detail from the original series – both following Sheriff Rick Grimes, his wife, child, best friend and a host of disparate survivors through a world now overrun by Zombies. But it darts and diverts from the original, allowing any devotees of the books guessing as to what is happening next an excellent and original experience. Developing its own storylines it remains rewarding both when it diverges from and converges on moments from the popular series.
The effects work is fantastic, easily on par – or beyond – work previously seen in various Zombie Movies. The presence of the Zombies is never lost, keeping tension in scenes where otherwise there may be none. This is also fuelled by the camerwork as the stark cinematography is deliberately sparse and simple, constantly making the viewer aware that empty space has the possibility of being occupied but most poignantly emphasising the isolation the central figures have found themselves in.
Effectively a survivors epic it has the added joy of the wandering undead to liven things up should the action become too leaden as it can at times in other long running series. Season 1 was only 6 Episodes long but with season 2 considerably longer it will allow central characters to develop in a way that will make the inevitable loss of them even more effective.
Epic scale narrowed to engaging character plots and the possibility of Zombies at every corner. The promise of this series based on events in the original books is potentially phenomenal and this series has to be seen.
Best Non-geek Series – Fresh Meat (Series 1)
The series follows a group of six students about to embark on the most exciting period of their lives thus far University (yawn, right?)! Away from home for the first time, on the brink of adult life, they are about to discover who they really are. From the moment they ship up as freshers at their shared house, their lives are destined to collide, overlap and run the whole gamut of appalling behaviour and terrible errors of judgement.
Sounds like every coming-of-age college series there is but this one proves itself different. The assembled characters move well out of their archetypal characteristics like students at their first university stand-up gig. Where similar series have relied on stereotypes and presumed reactions to arriving at university this one takes each individual and offers them realistic and familiar situations which they deal with in the way anyone else would. Quite badly.
The expected central figure Kingsley (Inbetweeners Joe Thomas) is sidelined pretty swiftly to share room with all his fellow housemates, in spite of a fantastic central plot involving a burdgeoning mutual attraction to fellow housemate Josie (Kimberley Nixon) which somehow always ends with them discovering the other has slept with someone else – sometimes hilariously audibly through their shared partition wall (while drunkenly arguing with each other at one point). Add to that the socially awkward Howard (Greg McHugh) who is pursued by a borderline psychotic classmate he developed a brief friendship with, straight talking hard-living Vod (the incredible Zawe Ashton) and Oregon (Charlotte Richie), desperate to be cool and terrified of being boring and you have a great mix.
But bizarrely, it’s Jack Whitehall’s character JP that walks away with the crown. A public school boy with an over inflated sense of entitlement, Whitehall manages to instill enough humanity into the prat that you do understand why the rest put up with him.
The jaunty and intelligent script bounds away through numerous scenarios, both realistic enough to be occuring but wild enough to be entertaining and the incredible cast bring it both harmoniously and raucously to life. An excellent series and well worth a look.
Most anticipated DVD – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Seasons 3 and 4
Unseen as yet and as I understand it ongoing at present – Clone Wars Season 4 is the continued influence of Star Wars on kids TV channels. Less engaging than the original 2 Dimensional seasons directed by Genndy Tartakovsky but offer more plot and development to the whole saga. With each season the CGI improves and more worlds are revealed in higher detail. Still 2 seasons behind at present however I (Steve P) have to put this on my guilty pleasures list because it expands the Star Wars Universe and is occasionally noticably created by true die hard fans who jump at the chance to develop part of the SW universe.
Most Cause for Concern – Dr Who (Season 6)
Matt Smith is an excellent Doctor, Karen Gillian is a great sidekick and we know that Steven Moffat is a great writer. However, somehow, indiscernably, the last series of Dr Who has lacked the pathos and light hearted touch that previously won it so many fans. No doubt a deliberate intention by Moffat to darken and broaden the Who, it appears to be beginning to lose it’s grip on plot this season. In spite of an introduction of The Silence, the scale and adventure wasn’t as bedded down in character and engaging emotional situations as it has been in previous seasons.
Upping the sci-fi quota, scripts have become slightly convoluted and less involving as a result. Matt Smith, while entertaining as the lithe and slightly dotty Doctor lacks the strength that the more seasoned Doctors had and while, initially, the scripts played with this they have now put perhaps too much emphasis on a young actor to imbue wonder and concern at every turn every time a ‘tree whispers’. Somehow less surprising than previous series, the science babble has gone up, the lunatic and dastardly alien beings have gone down and the geek wish fulfilment is beginning to become too visible.
I have loved Doctor Who but I am concerned that continuity is beginning to fray and that it needs a rest between seasons before it collapses under it’s own weight of expectation. Still excellent, it is however less excellent than it was, seemingly relying overly on emotional resolutions to tie up convoluted plots and slightly unoriginal concepts.
However, still excellent. Hopefully Moffat et al will see the slight error in their ways and get behind an excellent Season 7. God knows the BBC wants it!!
Padawan Mooba Choobi is under the tutelage of Jedi Master Govija Kaoli. While rumours that the prophecy of the chosen one that would bring balance to the force continue to flow around the Jedi Temples throughout the galaxy, some suspect, mostly those who have never met him, that Mooba Choobi represents an alternative to Anakin Skywalker. It has been observed by both Master Windu and Master Yoda that Mooba Choobi’s innate connection to the force helps him survive in incredibly dangerous circumstances. Although Mooba is unable to harness the force to his own ends it manifests at times of great danger (like a universal survival instinct). Whether Govija Kaoli can survive it is another matter entirely.
On May 4th 2007, the Star Wars Exhibition in London opened at the County Hall in Westminster, overlooking the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. With marble staircases and pillars, wood panelled hallways and shiny floors you could be mistaken for thinking you were walking the halls of Naboo (if you were a fan boy). Assembled at the opening were a group of actors who had associated themselves with Star Wars at Chessington. They were Tom Jordan, Seb Morgan, Alan Mandel Butler, Sydnee Howard and Jack Gavin. Also present was Marcus Sinclair, a man who had overcome considerable resistance from Lucasarts to become the Emperor in the Exhibition. 2 weeks later they took on myself and a number of actors to represent Jedi. Nicknamed on my first day the ‘Landlord Jedi’ by Alistair Reith (another actor), I managed to find a niche as Taaka Dahl (a Red Dwarf gag), Rebel Trooper.
It was made clear by Lucasarts that we couldn’t use existing character names and had to develop our own. While mine never developed beyond Sergeant in the rebel army (occassionally busted up to Jedi Master and in a particularly cool moment, a Tie Fighter Commander called Count Nefar the audiences never really got on board with). In the main hall, a high domed chamber like a grand circular court room the hourly (half hourly) show took place to the excitement of pretty much every kid (and adult). The Jedi School followed a rushed teaching of the way of the force to chosen Padawan (kids) in order to defend them from the newly apparent Sith. The Emperor would appear and threaten the Jedi Master and his Padawan as well as the assembled kids before the great set piece.
The lights would go out leaving only the flickering lightsabres at the centre of the room visible and three mechanical breaths would steadily sound. With the beginning of the Imperial March, the assembled characters, Padawans and visitors were presented with a familiar silhouette in the high vaulted doorway. Darth Vader would descend doiwn the steps with the music, the Jedi Master calling out orders to everyone assembled pointlessly over the noise and chaos. Some kid must have wet themselves with excitement at the sight of the seven foot giant striding slowly down the steps towards the Padawans. It was clear to me whenever I saw it that this was the stuff straight out of the movies. The divide between the two was seamless. We saw US versions with chubby American accented Obi Wan look a likes playing at Star Wars but the combination of the chamber and the lighting rig, the music, the english accents, the quality of the costumes (by Stephen Du Toit – mate to the Bunker), the master cast versions of the lightsabres that swooshed and lit up accurately, the real 7 foot Vader (played by official giant Daniel Vivien) and the atmosphere combined into something more real and engaging than I saw anywhere else. It gave me ideas….
FIRST PAGE OF ISSUE 1 OF LOST JEDI. DESIGNED BY ME IN 2009.
In the Star Wars movies the one point in which there are Padawans and Sith is at the end of Part III: Revenge of the Sith. This is always the most interesting part of the story and at the time the one that Lucasarts had missed. That of the decimation of the Jedi and the New Empires pursuit of those that were left. Perfect conditions for a great story, Jedis as rebels and the early formed Empire doing all it can to hunt them down. In the same period all the actors had developed their own characters, each with characteristics very different to all others. The proud and confident Padawan Man El Perio (played by Alan Mandel Butler) stood beside the stern and irrascible Rial Shif (played by Alistiar Reith). As the Exhibition came to its end it seemed to me that the best way to celebrate my time there was to bring the characters to life in the only way available to me. Over the next few months, artworks were produced of every member of the cast with the addition of side characters and enemies. Each carried its own name and steadily built into a story that may never be told anywhere else.
Its a tale of Jedi on the run and a desperate attempt to circumvent the terrible fate of an entire galaxy by brave souls in difficult stuff. I’m convinced if it ever saw the light of day it’d be enormous but short of a phone call to/from George Lucas this is the only place you’ll be able to see it. The entire story exists and much of it will be realised with the introduction of the characters but the spoilers have been kept to an absolute minimum. All you’ll find here is the character art and their starting points in the tale. If you want to see more, call George Lucas and give him my number.
Welcome to the new Beyond the Bunker Star Wars zone. Every Wednesday there will be something from the enormously expansive Star Wars Universe. Be it from the core films I-III or the classic IV-VI, the expanded universe – Clone Wars, Droids, Ewoks – even the Holiday Special if we can find it. And the funnies too.
Interspersed among the existing material will be my little fanboy creation. The Lost Jedi was a title I developed in a fanboy fever while serving as a Jedi/Rebel Trooper at the Star Wars Exhibition in London. Working with a host of exceptional actors, performers, fight trainers and technicians we performed 8 or more Jedi Schools in the central chamber of County Hall, Westminster, in the heart of London. Still the greatest job I’ve ever done – I spent the day training younglings to fight like a Jedi, die like a Rebel Trooper. In my time there, surrounded by the sights and sounds of Lucas and John Williams it was difficult not to be completely overwhelmed by it all.
In a central chamber lay the shining corvette, spitfiresque frame of a Naboo Fighter. To the side of that Wookee costumes and a speeder like that which was ridden by the Skywalkers on Endor. In a darkened room at the back of the exhibition stood a solitary figure. A 7 foot tall goliath in a glass cage. Darth Vader’s suit loomed in the darkness and captured everyone’s imagination that entered. There was never noise in that room, only an eerie and awed hush as tourists stood and basked in a character that is now utterly synonomous with evil and tragedy. And cool.
Expanding so much further beyond mere cinema, Star Wars is an ideology nowadays. A universe that has influenced popular and scientific culture. Star Wars, perhaps more than any other cultural phenomenon of the late twentieth century has the capacity to move into historical lore and take a place in mythology. At its most challenging and insistent, the material developed by the films (even with the less impressive prequels) the cultural and ideological impact of Star Wars gives us insight into the breeding of myths of Gods and Monsters from ancient times. A modern day Odyssey perhaps, it shows us the way religious texts expand and are embraced, whether originally intended by their creators or not. If anything it shows how once a cultural phenomenon is formed it can be expanded upon and used to generate enormous monies for the creator.
Offering ideologies, an alternative global religion (?!), expansion in gaming, cinema and digital technologies – both in sound and light (and magic), universal themes and characters and having been embraced by effectively billions globally noone should underestimate the width of influence a Dark Lord of the Sith might have.
Jedis unite. For Star Wars has arrived on Beyond the Bunker. Featuring articles, fan films, reviews and the Lost Jedi fan material we are planning to fill the next six months with insight and delight associated with the Star Wars Universe. I’ve got a bad feeling about this….
Next Week: The Lost Jedi. Part One.