2007 – The year in review (part three)

Apologies for the delay, I have not been feeling too great as of late, but without further ado here is the final part of my media review of 2007. In this post I will look at the music, books, software, television shows and hardware that impressed me the most last year.

Television

British television and especially British comedy continues to decline as reality shows dominate the channels. The only two British shows of any worth last year were the BBC comedies The Armstrong and Miller Show and Steve Coogan vehicle Saxondale. American television continues to impress. My favourite two shows of the year were The Shield, which is ever brilliant as it moves towards its final season, and the wonderful David Duchovny comedy Californication. Last year I finally got round to watching The Sopranos after having almost everyone I know recommend it to me. This is one show that really does live up to all the hype is has receives and whilst the final season was a little surprising in places the conclusion was very clever indeed. Other shows worthy of a mention are:

Dexter (yes, the second season contained a number of plot holes and may not have been as perfect first but it was still good television)
South Park (after numerous seasons this show is still one of the funniest, and most clever, animated sitcom on television)
Weeds (a disappointing third season yet still very funny in places)
Entourage

Music

Not an outstanding year for my kind of music unfortunately but there were still some good albums released. My favourite album of the year was Cassadaga by Bright Eyes followed very closely by the Grinderman???s debut album. LCD Soundsystem???s album Sound of Silver also deserves an honourable mention even though it is not the kind of music I usually listen to.

Books and Magazines

As I mentioned in my previous post 2007 was the year of Italian director Mario Bava. Not only were we lucky enough to have the majority of his films released on DVD but Tim Lucas went one further by surprising the Euro-Cult fan community and finishing his major tome Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark. This monster of a book is without doubt the finest work on a Euro-Cult director. It is beautifully produced and contains 1128 pages of meticulously researched information. Even though it is difficult to read because of its immense weight it is a must own for any fan of cult cinema and well worth the retail price.

I was very happy to see Jeff Rice???s long out of print books The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler finally be republished by Moonstone. I was a little disappointed by the numerous errors and the overall quality of the book but was very happy to see these available again.

On the magazine front the aforementioned Tim Lucas comes out on top with Video Watchdog. Even though the overall quality of the magazine has slightly dipped while Lucas has focused on other projects such as the long awaited Bava book it is still head and shoulders above all other competition. Midnight Media???s Is it Uncut? comes in at a very close second continuing to be the best British magazine on horror cinema.

Software

The best software this year was undoubtedly Slysoft???s AnyDVDHD program which proudly stuck two fingers up at the all the unnecessary DRM that surrounds the Blu-Ray format. Until region hacked Blu-Ray players become available the only way to enjoy region-free Blu-Ray is by building a powerful Blu-Ray media centre with AnyDVDHD running. Whilst on the subject of this great piece of software it conveniently allows me to move on to the worst software of last year ??? Cyberlink???s PowerDVD Ultra. Rushed on to the market in time for Christmas 2006 to satisfy those who had found that the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive would offer HD-DVD playback on high-end computers, PowerDVD Ultra is an over expensive, buggy piece of software. It cost me around ??75 to buy what was in essence a beta piece of software. If it wasn???t for AnyDVDHD I would not have been able to watch HD-DVDs released by Studio Canal. After many frustrating months I purchased a stand-alone HD-DVD player and was finally rid of PowerDVD. I am not sure if these bugs have been resolved, does anyone know?

Hardware

Whilst I have been very impressed with the Toshiba HD-A20 HD-DVD player and, to a greater extent, the Toshiba 42??? HD 42X3030D LCD television I purchased last year, the best piece of hardware I used in 2007 was the Xbox Media Center. This fantastic piece of kit has completely transformed the way I watch television and is a great way to store all your media files. You can find a second-hand Xbox for around ??30 these days, add a 500GB hard drive, an Xecuter modchip and an Xbox HD lead and you have an unrivalled media centre than can do almost everything you ask of it. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

So there we have it, 2007 the year that was. Looking back on my review of 2007 I have already found that I forgot to include Disturbia and American Gangster in the favourite film section and have no doubt neglected to mention other worthy DVD releases. Does any agree or disagree with my choices? I would love to hear your thoughts.

So what am I looking forward to in 2008? I would love to see a number of unreleased gialli appear on DVD. We already have Nothing Underneath (1983), Sister of Ursula (1978) and Red Rings of Fear (1978) announced and rumours of Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) being officially released by Koch Media in Germany but what else could be unleashed on DVD? It would be good to see HD-DVD rise from the dead and bury Blu-Ray and all of its pathetic DRM (we can dream can???t we?) and have some HD releases of gialli.

Expect to see this site move to WordPress in the very near future. I have recently built a WordPress site for the B1G Idea and was very impressed with its ease of use and numerous features. Expect to see, and listen, to my first foray into audio commentary production over the coming weeks as I provide one for the first episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker and expect more fan composites to appear over the year. Here???s to a good 2008!

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