The awards season is gathering pace now, and this year's Annie
been posted for our consideration. Normally, us Brits wouldn't really
get a look-in. Many of the awards categories focus on
animation, and - well - we just don't produce many features
here in blighty.
But this year things are different. Very different.
And it's down to Aardman
Animation and Wallace and Gromit. If you spin down the
list of nominees
you'll soon see that Curse
of the Were-Rabbit has received a whopping 16
nominations, in 10 different categories!
As well as the obvious nominations for "Best Feature",
"Best Direction" etc,
there's the fabulous prospect of Lady Tottington, Victor
and Reverend Hedges, vying for the same trophy, because the
them have all been nominated for "Voice Acting
in an Animated Feature
Production". Then there's the little pleasure of seeing
individual talents like
Claire Billett, Jay Grace and Christopher Sadler being rewarded for
unique contribution to the film, and each receiving noms
Animation". That's the real thrill of the Annie's, an
awards night that
digs deep to thank those so often overlooked.
Next year's Annie Awards ceremony will be held February
4, 2006, and
needless to say, paws will be crossed for one and all.
With all these nominations, a healthy $175m+ at the
box-office, and a shed's
worth of excellent reviews, dare one hope that Wallace
and Gromit might
pick up the Animation Academy Award next year? - Well,
it would certainly
sit very comfortably next to their previous wins...
"Peppa Pig" was awarded Best Pre-school
Animation, and let's face it,
you simply can not fault this piggin'
brilliant series from Astley Baker Davies.
That said, this year's nominees were all topnotch,
and deciding on a winner
must have been something of a lottery.
As for Millimages' and Dave Unwin's adaptation
of "The Little Reindeer", that
was based on the rather lovely book by author/illustrator
and it premiered on CiTV last Christmas. It's
a sweet Christmas fable, for
sure, and a contrast to the in-your-face antics
of "The Cramp Twins", the
wittiness of "The Crystal Eye", and
the atmospheric "Jack Frost". The
Academy obviously has a softspot for the traditional,
awarded it the Best Animation gong.
Of course, Mr Foreman's been in the news here at Toonhound quite
bit of late, with "War Game"s timely
reappraisal. Meanwhile, the success
of "The Little Reindeer" has once again
put paid to The Hound's pre-award
premonitions. And thus, next year, there'll be no preemptive
on this site. Well, maybe just a little. After
all, that's what these awards
are all about!...
last night's other winners was "Butt Ugly" Mike
picked up the award for Best International Series,
for "Jakers! - The Adventures
of Piggley Winks" ahead of "Atomic Betty",
"Black Hole High" and "Miss
Spider's Sunny Patch Friends". And sadly, there
was no writers prize for
This year, the British media has done a superb
job of putting the Great War,
and the sacrifices of a generation back on to
the front pages, and in to our
collective conscience. The BBC series "The Last
Tommy", and Ian Hislop's
"Not Forgotten" (Channel 4) have featured
moving tributes and memorials
to the Fallen.
But more moving than all the series and reports
has been the news that
Scotland's last serving soldier from the era has
away. Alfred Anderson
was 109, and his vivid recollection of life in
the trenches, as featured in
"The Last Tommy" has certainly made
"young" folks like myself stop and
think about our lives, and those even younger
men who found themselves
in the mire and madness of the trenches, all those
Alfred was the very last person alive to have
recalled the Christmas Truce,
that famous Yuletide event in which the two opposing
armies threw aside
their differences and celebrated Christmas Day
together, with cigarettes,
laughter and football.It's an extraordinary
tale, and it has formed the basis
of many subsequent stories, films and even songs
about that remarkable
day. It was also immortalized in Illuminated Films'
haunting production, War Game
which was released on DVD a couple of months ago.
(The Hound had copies
to give away too...)
"War Game" itself was inspired by Michael
Foreman's own fascination
with the War, that moment, and his family's involvement
in the trenches.
Hearing about Alfred's passing, The Hound was
moved to put it on again last
night. And you know, as those young lads laughed and
on the playing fields of England, Alfred was there
with them. He was there
as they answered Kitchener's call, and loaded
themselves into their iron ships,
bursting with patriotism. And as those same
charcoal figures were taken
by the twilight, he was there again, I swear...
Scarlet needs an Angel (05.11.05)
Don't you think it's rough, how the new "Captain
Scarlet" series is
being so badly treated on CiTV?
Series II is currently airing Saturdays as part
of the "Ministry of Mayhem"
lineup, but this spectacular production has once
again been all-but buried
midst the - um - "mayhem" of the show,
with a clumsy ad-break in the
middle of the action, and the unsightly removal of
the credits. Are the
Mysterons manipulating things here? You'd be forgiven for
the channel wanted it to fail...
And isn't it also odd, how this thrilling series
was completely overlooked
by this year's BAFTA panel? - The production crew
at Pinewood Studios are
doing some amazing things with the show. And it's
not just the eye-candy
that deserves due credit. The direction and scripting
has been uniformly
excellent - and indeed - it's all getting better
and better as the series
continues. This week's episode, "Duel",
featured a jaw-dropping chase
sequence that took place simultaneously on land and
in the air...
Now take a step back. Or rather, a sidestep. Let's
take a look at the BBC.
Their all-new "Doctor Who" series hit
town over the Summer and blew
the media, and the ratings away. The corporation threw
all their weight
behind the show, and it's gone stratospheric for
them. So why isn't
"Captain Scarlet" being afforded the
same opportunity? - Put it in an
evening slot, for crying out loud... Get the media
excited for this thing...
This groundbreaking series deserves a whole lot
better. And Gerry Anderson
and friends deserve a shelf-load of awards for
their efforts. Here's one to get
the ball rolling. It's for "Most Poorly Treated
Series". Let's hope that,
somewhere, an Angel is listening...
Now here's a little controversy to shake the leaves
off Nutwood's trees.
Rupert's being rebranded by his new rights owners.
You see, as part of their
ongoing desire to see Rupert atop of the licensing
tree once more (April 2003, September
2003, October 2004), Express
Newspapers have sold their controlling
rights to Entertainment Rights, reducing their
stake to just one-third of ownership,
and thus allowing ER to completely retool the
85year old star...
And that's no understatement, because that there
bear above is none
other than their new, re-imagined Rupert, unveiled
for the media yesterday.
ER want to reinvigorate the chap for a modern
audience, and their rather
thorough plans extend through to the tie-in toys
and apparel. Apparently,
they even want to create a new range of "bear
boots", fashioned after
Rupert's trendy high-tops.
So what are we, the public, to make of this very
Well, one can only urge the folks at ER to be
very careful. Generations
have grown up with those Steiff teddy looks, and
fur. Rupert's a timeless star, and as Jackie Lee
will tell you, everyone
sings his name. There were once a million stories to
be told about bear,
and his Nutwood pals. Could we really have told
Rupert has always had an untouchable quality, much
like Beatrix Potter's
nursery animals, or Ratty, Mole and Badger and
their Riverbank. As soon
as you modernise them with trendy clothes and
gadgets and chatter, you're
in danger of draining away their very essence. Indeed,
you might be concerned
that Rupert could be refashioned, not for his
own good, but for the sake of
a select few shareholders, eager to snare a tidy return
on their latest
acquisition, before they scoot off into the financial
ER and Express Newspapers are keen to stress the
heritage of their
star, so let's think positive thoughts. Surely
no one wants to see Nutwood
scarred and deforested? We mustn't forget that
ER have worked wonders
with their new-look Basil
Brush and Postman Pat, so
it's a wee bit premature
to judge them here. In fact, you could argue they've
already achieved their
first goal, because Rupert is certainly making
So here we are on Boxing Day, lounging in front
of the television, over-stuffed
with turkey (or in The Hound's case, goose, which
was an absoloutely joyful
new experience this year...), and surrounded by far
too many shiny new toys
and gifts. But what's happened to the scheduling?
all there seems to be is repeat after repeat
Father Christmas, "The Snowman",
"The Little Reindeer",
"The Last Polar Bears", "Ivor the
Invisible", Little Wolf
, The Bear,
"The Wrong Trousers", "A Close Shave"
- great, great films, to be sure,
but hardly new. Christmas is supposed to be the
season for tv premieres!
Carol: The Movie made its Channel4 debut. Though of course,
this one's been around a wee while, and
it tells a tale so very often told
before, and in so many ways. Jimmy Murakami's
film strips back the
story to its very core, and lets the tale
unfold amidst supremely grim
streets and houses, with little embellishment.
It's certainly very Dickensian,
but its design is perhaps to its downfall. One
expects animated wonders
when the spirits arrive, but there's
nothing particularly wondrous on show.
It's all a bit too familiar. A bit
"What if?", indeed. Still, it's very watchable,
and Scrooge's progression down the slippery
slope to loneliness is
Actually, we had at least one new-ish thing on
Christmas Day, when
ITV presented us with a "Creature Comforts"
special. Instead of the usual
ten minutes, those Aardman animals were
given a full half-hour in which
to waffle and vent over the annual festivities.
Nothing "new" then, but
most welcome nonetheless. Them critters
are always guaranteed to
raise a smile.
No, the nearest we've come to something
new this year, has been
Spellbound Entertainment's most recent offering,
in the form of the
Koala Brothers' very first Christmas
Special. Frank and Buster's
Christmas in the Outback
aired on Christmas Eve, and it was a lovely little film, even
when viewed through the bleary-eyes of its 7:00am
premiere. The brothers
were flown out of the Outback, all the way
to the South Pole to help Penny
penguin, only to need a little help themselves.
The Homestead looked great
with all of its Christmas trimmings. And
Frank and Buster helped beat the
blues of a holiday schedule that's been about
as appetising as a plate
of cold turkey, so far...