The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Monthly Archives: January 2010

Diary of a writer: part 1

I thought that as I’ve mentioned that I’m a writer (admittedly, not done anything of any value yet) I may as well give you a detail of a brief few hours of well, actually writing. So without further ado… I present Thursday 28th January.

Project: Alex (very much a vain, bigging myself up script)
Genre: Sitcom
Episode: Pilot (entitled Documentary)

7:30pm – began writing a quick scene, which will serve as an storyline boost. Also introduces Sam, a teacher. Alex and his friend Tony have been making a documentary for a project. However, Alex’s group have upped sticks and gone to London to film some shots, leabing him behind, so Alex decides to rectify this.

7:45pm – Checked Twitter. All good on the tweet front. Also simultaneously juggling MSN, talking to my friend Joe and listening to a tune that he linked me too.

8.00pm – Continued writing, thought it would be funny to have a scene showcasing Tony’s stupidity and showing how stressed Alex is all the time. Also, thought up an idea with those toy cars toddlers have.

8.25pm – The result of this is a scene in a bus station car park. I write it, I giggle a bit, then realise it’s going to be a nightmare from a production stand point.

8.30pm – Me and Joe discuss my ceramic mug that’s shaped like a paper cup on MSN, I don’t write anything of worth for about ten minutes.

8.40pm – Come up with the idea of keeping a diary. Am up to 11 pages and about 7 scenes. The characters are currently on a bus to London and I’m struggling to think of something amusing to write other than an old joke that my friend did on a bus once, not because it wasn’t funny, but because it goes down too much of an Inbetweeners road and it just feels too easy to do.

9.00pm – Taking a break for the night by watching E4. Part inspiration, part addict.

10.00pm – Occours to me that I’ve written 4 pages today and upon reflection, realise the first 3 that I wrote a week ago aren’t that funny and aren’t relevant to the narrative. I could go over bits and make it relevant. But Skins is on and from a narrative standpoint, is absolutely ace (shame the recent series has failed on most other accounts).

11.00pm – Skins gets me thinking about going back to writing Study Leave, the first draft of “Tales” is very nearly finished (after nearly 2 years, I seriously need deadlines) so I may begin on that soon.

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First impressions of Madworld

I’m a bit late with this, especially as the game came out about a year ago, nevertheless…

Madworld is rare thing (depending on your viewpoint) It’s a Wii exclusive mature core game. I picked up a copy about 2 weeks ago for £3 and have been playing through it slowly. First off, let’s discuss the obvious. The art style is very reminiscent (actually a complete rip-off) of Sin City. The only colours you’ll see are black, white and red. Even the character of Jack feels like he’s been ripped directly from the Frank Miller comic. Naturally, it looks gorgeous, but really shows off it’s graphical flaws. All in all, it’s attempts to imitate a comic book work wonders and it’s a joy to look at.

Now the gameplay is fun and stupid, it’s basically beat up enemies using as gory means possible, spiked walls to sign posts. You gain points the more enemies you kill and combo, eventually opening up death related mini games and a boss battle. It’s very enjoyable.

But that’s about it. Once you’ve completed one level, got over the novelty of signposting someone in the face, it loses it’s appeal. The game gets very repetitive, very quickly. It’s brilliant in short doses, but tiresome in longer levels. enemy characters lack variety and just quickly become tiresome. I’m only on the second level and I don’t really have the desire to continue, which is a real shame, because it’s a game that should be brilliant. The commentators are hilarious, the boss battles are fun and the minigames are quite enjoyable.

I can’t believe it’s an unofficial greatest Simpsons episodes countdown

I love The Simpsons, I make no shame in saying that I’ve stuck by the show for many years, partly because it’s one of the few shows that you watch as a kid, but it’s made for adults as well and it never gets dull. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen some of these episodes (I have seasons 4-12 on DVD, which obviously doesn’t help) but I still laugh and I still love it. Brilliantly designed characters, enjoyable plots and above all, very very funny. So, because I love lists. I am going to countdown my ten favourite episodes and explain why they are so great.

6. Trilogy Of Error
Season: 12


This is an intersting kick start, when you thought that after 12 years that the Simpsons had run out of ideas, you were wrong. This brilliantly constructed constantly dovetailing episode packs in the laughs and it’s hugely interesting to see how it fits together, even if at times it doesn’t make sense (which is made aware of by Mr Teeny at the end).

Chalkboard: Fire is not the cleanser

Guest Stars:
Frankie Muniz – Thelonius
Joe Mantegna – Fat Tony

Best lines –
Marge: My address? 123…Fake Street.
Chief Wiggum: 123 Fake Street, got it!

5. Who Shot Mr Burns (Parts 1 & 2)

Season: 6/7


This episode is one of the most ambitious, striking and best marketed episodes of any show ever. Mr Burns annoys a lot of people in Springfield, from taking their oil, closing Moes down and losing Willie a fine crystal slop bucket, so after he goes insane and blocks out the sun, he is shot by someone. What happens in part 2 is a guessing game for the viewer and the characters, which is brilliantly done with lovely little touches (notice all the clocks are at 3.30) A great mini-who dunnit.

Chalkboard:

Part 1: “This is not a clue… or is it?”
Part 2: “I will not complain about the solution when I hear it.”

Guest Stars:

Tito Puente – Himself

Best Line:
Jasper: Dang fools, drive thru’s not for-a-parkin’

4.  Behind The Laughter
Season: 11


This episode is a parody of Behind The Music and is just genius in execution, from using the narrator of the show and absoultely absurd metaphors, it tells the fictional story of how The Simpsons, a nothern Kentucky family rose to fame after Homer wrote, directed and starred in pilot about his family, it follows the fall-out and the re-union of the dysfunctional family in a documentary form.

Best Line:
Homer: I thought the cop was a prostitute

Chalkboard: I will not obey the voices in my head

Guest stars:
Willie Nelson – Himself
Jim Forbes – Narrator

3. Homerpalooza
Season: 7

Homer becomes worried he’s uncool and that his music sense is stuck in the past, so he buys some tickets for Lollabolooza (a parody of the Hullablooza music festival, or is it the other way round?) where he ends up becoming part of the freakshow. I’ll be honest, I’m biased towards this episode because it features bands that I really like, mainly Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins (the former do the ending theme), but it’s also a very funny episode,  filled with some fun references and a kick ass soundtrack.

Best line:
Homer: Got any words for Jimi Hendrix?
Vet: Yes, pick up your dog.

Guest Stars:
Peter Frampton – Himself
The Smashing Pumpkins – Themselves
Sonic Youth – Themselves
Cyprus Hill – Themselves

2. Homer At The Bat

Season: 3


I know nothing about sport, I care little about sport, which is why it must be a really strong episode to be considered here. Well it is. Homer joins the plants softball team and gets them to the final against Shelbyville Power Plant, however, Mr Burns places a million dollar bet on the team winning, so he replaces them with Major league stars. The episode is hilarious all the way through, with some surprisingly great baseball guest appearences, not to mention the greatest ending song of all time.

Chalkboard: I will not aim for the head

Guest Stars:

Roger Clemens
Wade Boggs
Ken Griffey Jr
Steve Sax
Ozzie Smith
José Canseco
Don Mattingly
Darryl Strawberry
Mike Scioscia
Terry Cashma

1. $pringfield (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)

Season: 5


This is the funniest episode of anything ever. Springfield legalizes gambling and Mr Burns builds a giant casino on the boardwalk, Homer gets a job there and Marge becomes addicted to slot machines. During this time, Bart opens his own Casino and Mr Burns goes crazy and isolated. There’s so much happening and it’s all rushed about, but it works. It works magnificently.

Best Lines:
Homer: That’s not your mother, it’s an evil monster that has taken over her, I call him Gamblor!

Chalkboard: I will not say Springfield, just cut to applause!

Guest Stars:
Gerry Cooney – Himself
Robert Goulet – Himself