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gazhack

gazhack

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Thank you for all the love towards my "Terror of the Tongs" DVD review.

Reviews written

since 06/03/2011

280

Diary of a Wombat - Jackie French 03/01/2017

This Diary of a Wombat is well worth opening

Diary of a Wombat - Jackie French Written by Jackie French Illustrated by Bruce Whatley 32 pages This is a marvellous picture book, which like the best children’s stories works on several levels. For young children it is a simple tale of a cuddly animal, but older children and adults will pick-up on all the humour, as the wombat unconcernedly causes chaos all around her. A week in the life of a wombat, as she sleeps (a lot), eats, scratches, digs burrows and trains her adopted (rather stupid in her opinion) human pets to bring her carrots. Jackie French is a prolific Australian author of both picture books and novels for young adults. She was the Australian Children’s Laureate 2014-15. I was unsurprised to learn that she has a history with a real wombat that would come to pester her house for food. Her text here is deceptively simple. The unnamed wombat ‘writes’ in single words or simple sentences but every word is perfectly placed. “Morning: Slept. Afternoon: Slept. Evening: Ate grass. Night: Ate grass. Decided grass is boring.” But where the joy really starts is when the text is placed next to Bruce Whatley’s beautiful expressive paintings. Here we see what is actually going on. The wombat may simply observe “Discovered a new scratching post”, but we see it knocking a tin of paint off the ladder. My favourite is possibly “Found the perfect dustbath” whilst the illustration sees a shocked Australian family watching as their barbecue meal is engulfed in a dust cloud. Later on the wombat starts chewing ...

Doctor Who Series 9 Part 2 (DVD) 01/01/2017

Doctor Who Series 9 Part 2 has four great episodes out of six

Doctor Who Series 9 Part 2 (DVD) The Twelth Doctor is in! This vanilla box set collects together the last six episodes of the 2015 series of “Doctor Who”. A series which saw the Doctor mellow somewhat from the haunted, almost spitefully rude personality of Peter Capaldi’s first series, into a more traditional eccentric uncle character. An uncle who was a bit an old rocker, and who fought in the war. The Time War that is. “The Zygon Invasion” / “The Zygon Inversion” is an ambitious action adventure two-parter. It is an old-fashioned UNIT versus the monsters story, mixed with up-to-the-minute political themes about terrorism and radicalisation of a minority. Also it acts as a sequel to the marvellous 50th anniversary story “The Day of the Doctor”. That is quite an ambitious shopping list but by and large Peter Harkness’ script is a successful one. After a UN peace treaty, the shape-changing Zygons have been settled secretly in human society. But now a radical faction is staging terrorist acts and demanding an independent Zygon state. They kidnap the Doctor’s friend Osgood and threaten to start an all-out war. The Doctor, Clara and UNIT leader Kate Stewart are forced to split up and face the enemy on three fronts. The Zygons are splendid aliens, a distorted mix of octopus and foetus who use squishy organic technology and can impersonate anyone. Their return to the programme was long overdue. Their shapeshifting ability becomes the lynchpin of this story, both for the way they have been forced to live as ...

Samsung Gear 2 Neo 14/01/2016

Samsung Gear 2 Neo is more useful than I expected

Samsung Gear 2 Neo When I first heard about smart watches I must admit I was unconvinced they were any more than a novelty. Mobile phones are now so slim and convenient, was there any real advantage in receiving text messages on my wrist too? However, after receiving one for Christmas and so far it is working out surprisingly handy. Basics Samsung Gear Neo SM-R381 is an Android based watch compatible with the majority of Android phones including Samsung, HTC, Lenovo and LG. It features a colour 4cm LCD touch screen that is bright, sharp and easy to read. A plastic resin case and strap and a single button. Normally the screen is dark until it detects you are looking at it. If that fails, a press of the button activates the screen. You can configure he display can be configured with a variety of wallpapers and looks including simulated analogue watch faces. Personally, I have gone for a digital clock with icons for notifications, pedometer and settings underneath, same as shown in the photo. All its phone functions depend on being in Bluetooth range of my phone, a Samsung G4 in case you would like to know. As well as telling the time, the watch can: • Carry out basic functions like stopwatch and alarm • Display incoming texts, emails and calendar appointments • Make and receive phone calls • Pedometer • Heart rate monitor • Play music via Bluetooth • Locate its connected phone • Record sleeping time Other watch applications can be downloaded via its accompanying free phone app. Battery The ...

MiniTool Power Data Recovery 02/12/2015

MiniTool Power Data Recovery Personal Edition

MiniTool Power Data Recovery I bought this software because I needed to recover some video recordings which I had deleted thinking that they had already been downloaded, when in fact they had not. The software scanned the SD memory card and copied the recovered files to my laptop in under forty minutes, much to my relief. It also restored some deleted files when I searched my hard disk. There is a free download version which can recover up to 1Gb and that might be enough for you if you are trying to recover documents and a few photos. After that, if you want unlimited data retrieval you have to buy a serial number to unlock one of four versions – Personal, Commercial, Enterprise or Technician. If you are a single user, there is no advantage in buying anything other than the Personal edition. If you are wanting protection for a business with multiple workstations, you’ll probably need to look at the comparison table on the MiniTool website. It has a reassuringly simple interface. Five colourful tiles fill most of the screen, covering the main tasks: Undelete - Quickly scan and recover files which have been emptied from the recycle bin. CD and DVD Repair - Recover deleted files from formatted or erased discs. Digital Media Recovery – Recover deleted photos, music, video from memory cards, flash drives and pen drives. Damaged Hard Disk Partition Recovery / Lost Hard Disk Partition Recovery – Deep scan, recover files from damaged, RAW or formatted partitions following a crash, either physical or virus ...

Doctor Who: The Underwater Menace (DVD) 02/11/2015

The Doctor finally faces the Underwater Menace

Doctor Who: The Underwater Menace (DVD) I’ll confess I had slightly mixed feelings receiving this DVD from the BBC Shop. For this is the end, the last remaining unreleased Twentieth century story of Doctor Who and the end of over fifteen years of DVD releases. Of course there’s always the happy possibility of more discoveries of lost episodes in foreign countries, and the current television series will carry on releasing box sets until we’ve started streaming everything in the world. So until then, we can finally re-watch this lost story, the earliest existing one to feature Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. It’s a madcap comic strip adventure featuring Atlantis, a really mad scientist and industrial action from sequined Fish People. Story The TARDIS lands on a nameless beach somewhere on Earth. The Doctor, Ben, Polly and new recruit Jamie explore and are soon captured and taken into the bowels of the Earth. Here they excitingly find the lost city of Atlantis, and less excitingly are offered as sacrifices to the sharks swimming in the temple of Amdo. Their execution is halted in the nick of time by Professor Zaroff, “the greatest scientific genius since Leonardo Da Vinci!” according to the Doctor. Soon Ben and Jamie have become slaves in the mines, Polly is scheduled to be transformed into a Fish Person, and the Doctor discovers that Zaroff has gone utterly mad and is about to undertake his greatest ever experiment – the destruction of the whole world! Review There really isn’t another Doctor Who story quite ...

The Terror of the Tongs (DVD) 23/10/2015

Do not fear The Terror of the Tongs

The Terror of the Tongs (DVD) These days it is rare enough to watch any of the Hammer films on television, aside from the recent batch bought by the Horror Channel. But Hammer’s historical adventures are even scarcer in the schedules. I cannot remember “Terror of the Tongs” ever getting a terrestrial showing. Obviously cultural sensitivities are a part of the reason. This film not only features a majority of the Chinese characters played by British actors in slant eyed make-up, but also sells itself on every Western stereotype about inscrutable, torture-loving Orientals. However for Hammer completests like me, this obscure B movie is finally available on DVD as part of the Hammer Collection. Story It is 1910. Merchant seaman Captain Jackson Sale returns to Hong Kong after a long voyage to be reunited with his daughter Helena. One of his passengers, Mr Ming, is a detective carrying a list of members of the notorious Red Dragon criminal organisation. Ming is killed as soon as he disembarks, but not before he hides his crucial evidence in a book meant for Helena. Chung King, fearsome leader of the Hong Kong Red Dragon chapter, orders his men to raid Captain Sale’s house. Whilst carrying out their search the thugs kill his daughter. Sale swears vengeance and ignoring the ineffectual local police, sets out to expose the Red Dragons and kill his daughter’s murderers. Review For a Hammer film with a title like “Terror of the Tongs”, this is a pretty mild adventure. Most of the violence is kept off-screen. ...

JVC LT-40C750 01/09/2015

JCV LT-40C750 is a great value television

JVC LT-40C750 JVC is a 40 inch LCD high definition television with Smart TV extras. I’d been wanting to replace my old CRT television in the living room for a while, then an unexpected windfall allowed me to go shopping for HD TV. My stepdaughter recommended this model, having just set up one for her grandparents. It comes packaged with a plastic television stand which can be screwed to the rear with the supplied screws. You will need a Philips screwdriver. Also in the box are a mains lead, a remote controller, batteries for the remote controller, and a manual for the television. Inputs and Outputs At the rear of the unit are three HDMI sockets, one SCART socket, a SVGA input for PC and a RF antennae socket. There is also an Ethernet socket for physically connecting the television to an internet router, as well as built-in WiFi. At the side are two USB sockets for connecting an external memory stick or hard drive. There are phono sockets for connecting the television to a surround sound system. The television comes equipped with a Freeview tuner for digital television. This is equipped with the standard onscreen seven day electronic programme guide. Picture and Sound I’m been very impressed with the sharpness and colours of the picture when watching material from either my Sky+ box or Blu-ray/DVD player, regardless of whether it is actual HD or not. The HD picture is undoubtedly better but essentially this TV makes anything coming through its digital connections look good. I've also ...

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell (Blu-Ray) 31/08/2015

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell is a great advert for BBC drama

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell (Blu-Ray) Starring: Eddie Marsden, Bertie Carvel, Marc Warren & Charlotte Riley Director: Toby Haynes Susannah Clark’s bestselling doorstep of a novel (is there any other size of fantasy fiction since Tolkien came along?) has been given a respectful dramatization by the BBC. Probably because “Game of Thrones” has proved there is a hunger for adult fantasy dressed up in respectable period trappings. The result is a handsome, beautifully played and well written series that rewards fantasy fans but perhaps takes itself a bit too seriously for the casual audience. Story Set in an alternative Nineteenth century Europe where everyone knows that magic exists, but most enlightened people agree that it belongs in the history books. Magic in Regency England is the province of itinerant street conjurers, or academic debating societies. Practical magician Mr Norrell has ambitions to make magic and its practitioners respectable again. After an impressive display at York Minster, he travels to London to offer his services to the government. But in his desperation to impress the prime minister and cure his invalid wife, he makes a deal with The Gentleman, ruler of the farie kingdom of Lost Hope. An agreement that quickly turns sinister. Meanwhile a foppish country squire called Jonathan Strange discovers he has a natural affinity for magic and soon becomes Norrell’s apprentice. Gregarious, flamboyant and reckless, where Norrell is introverted, suspicious and cautious, events and misunderstandings ...

Quatermass (Blu-ray) 08/08/2015

Quatermass gets a stunning high definition restoration

Quatermass (Blu-ray) Starring: John Mills, Simon McCorkindale, Barbara Kellerman & Margaret Tyzack Twenty years after “Quatermass and the Pit” thrilled British television audiences, Nigel Kneale created a brand new science fiction adventure for a very different era. Instead of the cramped studios of Lime Grove and 405 line TV cameras, “Quatermass” was made in colour, on film and made on mostly on location. The result was was an epic piece of science fiction television that divided critics and audiences at the time but has gradually risen in appreciation and is now considered very much a part of the Quatermass saga, as well as a fondly remembered ITV drama. The near future. Seemingly thanks to a worldwide economic crisis, Britain has descended into a state of anarchy. Professor Bernard Quatermass, now an elderly man, his British Rocket Group a distant memory, has come to London to take part in a live television broadcast celebrating a pointless US/USSR space mission. But really he is trying to find his missing granddaughter Hettie. Then to everyone’s shock the spacecraft is inexplicably destroyed. Escaping the furore with a young scientist called Joseph Kapp, Quatermass discovers that masses of young people are being drawn towards ancient sites. Intrigued he and the Kapps go to the nearby stone circle Ringstone Round, only to witness the horrific sight of the whole crowd being wiped out by a huge energy beam from space. With only limited resources and growing danger from fanatical Planet People, ...

Doctor Who - Last Christmas (DVD) 26/07/2015

Doctor Who facing his Last Christmas?

Doctor Who - Last Christmas (DVD) Doctor Who’s now traditional Christmas special has been a mixed bag over the years. There have been some marvellous stories, but also a pretty high proportion of lightweight, slightly unsatisfying episodes too. The need to make the story is some way Christmassy has also sometimes felt like a yoke. Having ticked off Christmas in the present day, Victorian times, an alien planet and a space-going Titanic, last year’s special managed to find a new wrinkle by teaming the Doctor up with another icon of Christmas – Santa Claus. But what position would the show take with his existence, given its large children’s audience? Then there was the unhappy ending of Peter Capaldi’s first season to address, with Clara and the Doctor parting with a series of lies to each other in a misguided attempt to be kind. This feature length episode had a lot deal with, and at first glance a concept that could go terribly wrong. How could the Doctor and Santa Claus team-up and both retain their integrity? Clara is awoken on Christmas Eve by sound of voices on the roof. Investigating she is amazed to find two bickering elves, a reindeer pulled sleigh and Father Christmas himself have crashed landed. Matters become even more bizarre when the Doctor materialises and it seems that he and Santa have history together. Pulling her away into the TARDIS, the Doctor takes her to the North Pole, where a group of scientists are under attack by slimy alien creatures called Dream Crabs, parasites which take over ...

The Clifton House Mystery - The Complete Series (DVD) 03/05/2015

The Clifton House Mystery won't give you sleepless nights

The Clifton House Mystery - The Complete Series (DVD) Network continue their quest to release the obscurest shows from British television’s past. I’m fairly knowledgeable about cult TV but I’ll admit I had never heard of The Clifton House Mystery until I received it as a Christmas present. One of a series children’s supernatural dramas produced by HTV in the Seventies and it would seem the most obscure. Is it a lost gem or a forgettable turkey? Conductor Timothy Clare, his wife Sheila and his three children Jenny, Steven and Ben move into a large detached house in Bristol. They briefly meet its previous inhabitants, the elderly Mrs Betterton and her granddaughter Emily, but she seems oddly anxious to leave a house she has lived in most of her life. Emily meanwhile tells Jenny in secret to look out for “the Grey Lady”. Steven is inexplicably drawn to buy an old Victorian soldier’s helmet being sold at the house auction. As the family being to settle in, a series of supernatural events afflict them. Objects fly out of their hands, Steven sees a screaming man’s face in the helmet and Jenny does indeed meet a ghostly elderly woman. After a dinner party for Timothy’s prospective American agent goes frighteningly wrong, the family turn to an amateur ghost hunter Milton Guest for help. Watching “The Clifton House Mystery” today, the first aspect that struck me was the almost complete lack of any emotional sub-plot for the protagonists. If this was being made today, there would definitely be a link between the emotional health of the ...

Doctor Who - Spearhead from Space (Blu-ray) 22/02/2015

Spearhead from Space has never looked so good

Doctor Who - Spearhead from Space (Blu-ray) Doctor Who’s history has been filled with fortuitous accidents. One of its best known is that due to industrial action at BBC Television Centre, producer Derek Sherwin persuaded his superiors to let him make Jon Pertwee’s debut adventure as the Doctor entirely on film. The meant an especially glossy launch for the colour era of the show. Now over forty years later, that decision means that “Spearhead from Space” can be genuinely re-mastered from 16mm film print to high definition digital video. It is the only ‘classic’ Doctor Who story which is worth releasing on blu-ray. Intended as a companion to the last DVD release of the story, it features exclusive documentary extras and a unique re-graded colour scheme. Exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, a newly regenerated Doctor lies unconscious in a forest as strange meteorites land around him. UNIT, led by Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, arrive to investigate and recruit him as their new scientific advisor, along with the brilliant Liz Shaw. Together they face the first invasion of the Nestenes and their lethal plastic foot soldiers, the Autons. The most important question about this new edition is – how good does it look? The answer is – amazing. I’ve sometimes struggled to see that much of a difference between DVD and Blu-ray, particularly with new films, but here the picture quality is startlingly clearer, sharper and smoother than the previous Special Edition release. It’s a cliché to say it looks like it was made yesterday, ...

Doctor Who The Complete Series 8 (DVD) 02/02/2015

Peter Capaldi leads Doctor Who Series Eight

Doctor Who The Complete Series 8 (DVD) Doctor Who came back in 2014 with possibly its most daring season since the first in 2005. Peter Capaldi became the Doctor and ironically being an older, less friendly man with no obvious romantic connection with his companion seemed surprising in a show that had redefined the time lord as a dashing emotional kind of hero, as played by David Tennent and Matt Smith. It was not just the Doctor himself that had altered. The programme itself seemed to have got a bit more serious, a little more driven by conversation, a series where its regulars were not as immediately likeable or sympathetic. However there was still plenty of space for monsters, time paradoxes and some visits from old faces. This box set collects together all twelve episodes from series 8, together with all their behind the scenes iPlayer specials and some original documentaries. Peter Capaldi has made an impressive start as the Doctor, making a lot of interesting choices when it comes to playing scenes and always being fascinating to watch. His Doctor is an odd mixture. He can be brilliant, taking charge, unthinkingly blunt, not afraid to quiet and serious and with a quick wit. Yet he is vulnerable and sometimes surprisingly fallible too. Jenny Coleman however is probably the bigger surprise. Now without the burden of the Impossible Girl storyline and partnered with a Doctor who is much less agreeable or susceptible to her feminine charms, Clara has flowered into a much more interesting personality and not ...

Z-Man Games Pandemic 15/09/2014

Save the world from a tabletop Pandemic

Z-Man Games Pandemic Combating deadly disease outbreaks has been a story ever since modern medicine has developed, but in the 21st century the threat seems to have increased, thanks to international travel and growing populations. So too has the medical thriller genre alongside it, from the bestselling novel “The Hot Zone” to all-star movies like “Contagion”. Now that genre of glamorous experts racing against time, swapping jargon, and traversing the globe is captured in this highly entertaining and award-winning board game for 2 to 4 players. It is a collaborative board game, where the players work as a team rather than compete against each other. Instead, winning or losing depends on solving the puzzle before time runs out. To win, the players must find cures for all four viruses. However, if the pack of action cards runs out or if too many cities become epidemic zones at once they lose. The winning strategy relies on using the unique skills of each team member and planning ahead to exchange information (action cards) so that the cures can be found. The box art and the game is very stylish and attractive, bringing to mind the glossy feel of “E.R.” or other US medical shows. When you initially open the box the game may look intimidating but don’t worry, like most successful board games, the actual mechanics are fairly simple, but the combinations and choices bring an enjoyable challenge. You will find: Board showing a world map with its major cities linked by a network of paths. 7 player ...

Doctor Who - Terror of the Zygons (DVD) 15/08/2014

Crivens! Doctor Who meets the Loch Ness Monster

Doctor Who - Terror of the Zygons (DVD) The final complete story to be released in the Doctor Who DVD range, I have to admit that this is one of my personal favourites. A cracking SF/horror yarn with a very British sensibility and a lively pace, it also brings us one of the series mostly fondly remembered one-shot monsters – the Zygons. Well I say one-shot but last year saw them finally return as the secondary villains in the anniversary story “Day of the Doctors” and it’s a testament to their inspired design that they only needed a minimum of updating. In the North Sea, oil rigs are being mysteriously destroyed. The Brigadier summons the Doctor, Sarah and Harry back to Earth to investigate. To their amazement they soon find evidence that the culprit might be the legendary Loch Ness monster! The Doctor suspects that some other intelligence must be behind the attacks and he’s right. The Zygons, a desperate race of shape-changing aliens, are secretly planning to conquer the world through acts of terrorism. “Terror of the Zygons” is a marvellous example of the Doctor Who formula. It has the classic thread of the Doctor investigating a strange mystery, discovering aliens and then a well laid third act twist that sends the story off in a new direction. It opened Tom Baker’s second season and marked the beginning of the fondly remembered ‘gothic era’, where producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes shamelessly raided Hollywood’s back catalogue for inspiration. However this story doesn’t really have a ...
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