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                                                                     Nov/Dec 2005
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Christmas turkey
T'is the season for festive repeats...   More...

 A considerable achievement
 16 Annie nominations for Were-Rabbit...

 BAFTA winners

 Peppa and the Little Reindeer win!...

 No man's land

 War Game and the Great War...

   Scarlet needs an Angel
   Captain Scarlet gets short shrift...

   Rupert rebranded

   New look for an old bear...

     last month's news »         news archive »        interviews »

   A considerable achievement  (06.12.05)

   The awards season is gathering pace now, and this year's Annie nominations
   have just been posted for our consideration. Normally, us Brits wouldn't really
   get a look-in. Many of the awards categories focus on feature-length
   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 Quartermaine, Wallace,
   and Reverend Hedges, vying for the same trophy, because the thesps behind
   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 their own
   unique contribution to the film, and each receiving noms for"Character
   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...

                                                                         More: Annie Awards


   BAFTA winners 

    Well what do you know, "Peppa Pig" and "The Little Reindeer" were the
    big winners at this year's Children's BAFTA ceremony.

    "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.

     Not so little winner - The Little Reindeer! 

    As for Millimages' and Dave Unwin's adaptation of "The Little Reindeer", that
    was based on the rather lovely book by author/illustrator Michael Foreman, 
    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, because they
    awarded it the Best Animation gong.

    Of course, Mr Foreman's been in the news here at Toonhound quite a
    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 favouritsm
    on this site. Well, maybe just a little. After all, that's what these awards
    are all about!...

    Amongst last night's other winners was "Butt Ugly" Mike Young, who
    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
    Jamie Rix...

You'll find the full list of winners on the BAFTA web site.



   No man's land  (22.11.05)

    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.

War Game

    But more moving than all the series and reports has been the news that
    Scotland's last serving soldier from the era has passed 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 years ago.

    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 joshed together,
    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 

    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 thinking that
    the channel wanted it to fail...

     Shooting from the hip - All-new Captain Scarlet

    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...

Captain Scarlet

   Rupert rebranded  (01.11.05)

    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...

        New-look Rupert the Bear (ER/Express Newspapers)

    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 modern styling?
    Well, one can only urge the folks at ER to be very careful. Generations
    have grown up with those Steiff teddy looks, and snow-white-to-slightly-tan
    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 them already?

    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 sunset.

    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 headlines again...
                                                             More: Entertainment Rights


   Christmas turkey  

     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? Terrestrially-speaking,
     all there seems to be is repeat after repeat after repeat.

     War Game, 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!

     Christmas 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
     affectingly told...

     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...
     Oh well. Till next time!    

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'     thehound@toonhound.com

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