Monday, 12 April 2010

Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona

Barcelona won in the Santiago Bernabeu for the second successive year to put themselves in pole position for the La Liga title. Goals from Lionel Messi & Pedro in either half secured a 2-0 victory and opened a 3 point lead at the top of the table. Real's best chance came when Rafael van der Vaart was denied by a smart save by Victor Valdes. With just seven games remaining this season Real coach Manuel Pellegrini conceded that the defeat was a 'big blow' but insisted it was too early to say the title was Barcelona's.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Chuck v the Other Guy

Chuck v the Other Guy wrapped up the original season order of Chuck season 3 before NBC ordered an additional 6 episodes. The 6 new episodes will air in 3 weeks time culminating in a two hour finally to end what the show-runners have described as "Season 3.5". As a finale Chuck v the Other Guy was short of the excellence that was Chuck v the Ring but in it's own right it was strong episode in what has been a patchy season. The episode focused on Shaw & finding the Ring operative behind his wife's death.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Friday Five

For this weeks Friday Five I've decided to pick my favourite sitcom characters. This list unsurprisingly includes some of my favourite sitcoms though obvious not all of them as I do like a heck of a lot of them. Compiling this list I was surprised to find that no female characters made the top five or any where near it. But as a lot of sitcoms are male dominated it is perhaps harder to standout. There are a lot of quality characters that have been left out & special mentions go out to Ross Geller, Kryton, Kramer & Frasier. As usual I've turned to YouTube to provide audio visual evidence of what makes a specific character so good.
  1. George Costanza - This list had to include a character from one of the all time great sitcoms, Seinfeld. And they don't come much better or more demented than Costanza. Seinfeld worked so well because each character brought something unique to the show. George Costanza was neurotic, narcissistic & cheap. Yet all these characteristics worked so well to give us so many truly memorable moments in a sitcom full of great ones. He also scores higher for having the most remarkable parents in television history. The selected clip is of George going for a massage displaying his full range of neurosis.
  2. Basil Fawlty - If George Costanza was the king of the demented than Basil Fawlty was as they say in some strange parts of England his granddaddy. Combining everything that Costanza brought with some old school English eccentricity made Basil Fawlty & Fawlty Towers one of the best loved sitcoms ever. That Fawlty Towers is so well remembered despite the fact that only twelve episodes were ever made is proof of the fact that quality always triumphs over quantity. This clip is from the infamous scene with some European visitors who have the misfortune of visiting Torquay's finest establishment.
  3. Barney Stinson - How I Met Your Mothers womanising Barney Stinson played superbly by Neil Patrick Harris has quickly established himself as one of TVs best characters. There's not a lot to Barney's character, he's a womaniser, selfish & extremely shallow. So you'd assume he'd be completely unlikeable. However that's not the case & he often single handedly carries the entire show. Barney is also the source of an interminable number of rules including the Bro Code, the Lemon Law, & the Platinum Rule. And he has as many catchphrases with the likes of 'Suit up!', 'Legendary' & 'True story'. The clip is of Barney going through his legendary 'Playbook' in order to get women.
  4. General Melchett - Blackadder Four was undoubtedly the best of a fantastic series. And one of the reasons it was so good was the superb cast. General Melchett is the eccentric commanding officer of Blackadder's company. Actually eccentric may be too kind a term - he was more stark raving mad, which meant plenty of hilarity whenever he was on screen. The chosen clip has used some strange video technique but it's the best collection of quotes I have been able to find on YouTube.
  5. Dr. Perry Cox - The last ever episode of Scrubs aired this last week & so Dr. Cox is no more. Over the 9 seasons that Scrubs has been on TV it has re-imagined what constitutes a sitcom with drama, tragedy & comedy all equal parts of the show. And central to that altered tone was the role of Dr. Cox. As an angry yet brilliant attending who most definitely cared about his patients, Dr Cox was as much the heart of the show as the title character JD. He is particularly famous for ridiculously long monologues, crazy rants & sarcastic quick wit. This specific clip is a best of compiled mainly from the early seasons of Scrubs.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Chuck v the Final Exam

Unfortunately there was no Chuck review for last weeks episode as I was struck down with the flu. I say unfortunately as Chuck v the Tic-Tac was one of the best episodes in the entire series & continued the strong showing from the previous installments. Chuck v the Final Exam focused on Chuck's graduation to fully fledged spy. This final mission would test his ability to function on his own & most of all test his ability to make the ultimate decision - take someone's life. As has been the trend throughout the season the episode was fairly dark, or at least dark for Chuck. The light relief was provided by second storyline featuring John Casey & the Buy More Crew. Overall it was a solid episode but definitely not as good as the last two that have aired, though as they were among the best of the series that's not too shabby. Some other reflections on the episode:

Friday, 19 March 2010

Friday Five

As I have been laid low with the flu this week I haven't been able to keep up to my usual output of postings but I'd have to be extremely poorly not to complete the regular Friday Five feature.

  1. Silly Job Titles - A story from the BBC website on the strange job titles that have become pretty common place these days.
  2. iPad Magazines - The iPad is coming soon & the hope from the newspaper/magazine industry is that it will revolutionise the industry in the same way the iPod has in the music sector. This feature shows some of the content writers have thought of some innovative ways to use the iPad, which is promising for the giant iPhone.
  3. Jose Fawning - John Nicholson with his weekly rant, which this week is about Jose Mourinho & host of other stuff. He's slightly mad but always entertaining (I've just realised that could apply to either one of them).
  4. David Villa - Its an old article but given that Andy Townsend stated last night that Villa 'couldn't guarantee' 25 goals a season for a top club I've included it so people can see what absolute tosh he spouts. What I find amazing is that pundits/experts in this country don't have the slightest knowledge of football outside of this country, though perhaps I'm over estimating their knowledge of football at home.
  5. Fun Travel Game - I'll finish off with a travel game that is fun as well as informative. I got to level 10 with 388,918 points, which is not bad for hillbilly like myself.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lionel Messi: The Roger Federer of football

As Lionel Messi scored another incredible hat-trick over the weekend it was clear that we were witnessing greatness before our very eyes. In a game that had seen Barcelona struggle to break down a well organised Valencia team the Argentine star demonstrated once again that it is impossible to legislate for genius. The first goal in particular was sensational, amazing, stunning or any other superlative you can think of.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Classic Music

As the Friday Five feature from a few weeks ago was so well received (there were so many comments I couldn't keep up with them all) that I've decided to make it a regular posting. If for some unfathomable reason you didn't catch that blog - firstly why didn't you, you can't have anything better to do & secondly there's a link at the top of the page for goodness sake - it included links to some of my current favourite music videos. For this posting I'm going to link to some more music videos but with a little twist, rather than new music its going to be classic music, well at least classic music to me.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Friday Five

For this weeks Friday Five I have decided to look at sports commentary & in particular my five favourite pundits on TV. Now there is no significance to the ranking numbers as I would be hard pressed to pick my favourite from such an accomplished list of individuals. All of them appear on British television in some shape or form. 

What makes a good pundit is probably different for every person. We are after all pundits ourselves with highly intelligent views on any variety of subjects. Perhaps we want experts to articulate similar views to our own. Thus while one person may regard Geoff Boycott as a genius for others he may be nothing more than self opinionated fool (I'd probably lean towards the genius verdict). So its rare to get consensus on who is or isn't a good pundit. I've personally liked my commentators to keep me informed with insights that I may not have noticed (I know talk about the impossible). I also want the commentator/pundit/summariser to offer his own opinions. They might be completely laughable but that still makes it a million times better than listening to cliches.

TV Review: Wonders of the Solar System

Now while I write about TV shows I'm not a fanatical watcher of TV. In actual fact over the years I would characterise my TV watching as irregular more than anything. However one thing I have always been a fan of is BBC documentaries. Always informative, well made & great entertainment, BBC documentaries have developed a worldwide reputation for excellence. So it was with a lot of excitement that I looked forward to the corporations latest offering, Wonders of the Solar System. And I wasn't disappointed with the first episode of the series Empire of the Sun starting it all off on a very positive note.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

White Collar: Out of the Box

White Collar completed its debut season with the airing of Out of the Box. And it was an explosive ending for what has been a terrific new show. The story centered on the music box & its links to Kate. Neal alongside Alex & Mozzie planned to steal the music box from the Italian Consulate. To achieve this Neal gets a little help from Fowler, which triggers Peter's suspicion of the whole operation.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Chuck v the Beard

Chuck v the Beard was perhaps the best episode of the current season. A throwback to previous seasons it was fun filled hour with humour, drama, Buy More shenanigans & Jeffster! I had a perma grin on my face throughout the episode & can't wait for what Schwartz, Fedak et all have in store for next week. Here are some more thoughts on the Chuck v the Beard:

Monday, 8 March 2010

Kicking out the Cheats

Over the weekend I caught a number of football games among which was the Real Zaragoza v Sevilla clash. It was a pretty poor game, which makes you wonder why I didn't turn it off, though it wasn't the standard of football that rally bothered me but the constant cheating. Time and again there was cynical fouling, blatant diving, play acting & haranguing of officials. It made the game a very poor contest with little flow to proceedings & excruciating to watch. Again I don't know why I was watching it though it probably has something to do with being a glutton for punishment - I am married after all! 

Saturday, 6 March 2010

White Collar: Frontman

The penultimate episode of the current season of White Collar sees Peter & Neal involved in a kidnapping case were the prime suspect is an old colleague of Neal's from the criminal fraternity. In the process Neal is placed in a great deal of danger as he becomes central to the survival of the kidnapped girl as well as his own personal well being. 

Friday, 5 March 2010

Friday Five

This weeks Friday Five is back to its traditional format of links to my favourite stories & articles of the week. 

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Chuck v the Fake Name

After a three week break Chuck returned with episode eight of the third season. Chuck v the Fake Name revolved around the story of Chuck having to assume the identity of a hit-man hired by the Ring to assassinate an unknown person. What followed was a thoroughly entertaining episode that was on the whole more fun than angst.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Changes to the Football Calendar

This week sees the return of the beloved international friendly. Club managers use the opportunity to blame their own failings on the disruption caused by International matches, while national managers have to put up with a never ending list of withdrawals. As a result we usually get a disjointed kick about masquerading as a football match, though Liverpool fans may be hard pressed to spot the difference.

Carling Cup Final

Yesterday's Carling Cup Final between Manchester United & Aston Villa was surprisingly a good game. The match had goals, plenty of incidents & drama right to the end. And ignoring the major talking point United were worthy winners. Here are some more thoughts on the match:

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Blog Update

There won't be any new posts over the weekend (I know it's the highlight of your day) as I'm going to be away for a few days. But I promise Underneath the Stars (I've realised I have fallen short of my plan to mention the blog title in every post so this is an attempt to get back on track) will be back with some interesting articles on Monday. One of which is a take on next weeks round of international friendlies & why the football calendar needs a serious overhaul. I won't give anymore away but I'm sure you'll all be eagerly awaiting the next entry on Underneath the Stars (I've just doubled my tally in one blog). And yes I do have serious (bracket) problem, though I'm seeking professional help.

Have a great weekend & in the meantime enjoy some eye candy with the delightful Yvonne Strahovski who plays the beautiful Sarah Walker on NBC's Chuck.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Friday Five

A slight alteration on this weeks favourite links, which as you can see has been re-named Friday Five. As I've mentioned previously I'm a big music fan and as I haven't had the opportunity to do a music related entry so far, this weeks post will link to five favourite music videos.

White Collar: Bottlenecked

Alongside a regular review of Chuck one of the other shows I will be following on this blog is White Collar. White Collar is a new show that first aired on 23rd October 09 on the USA network. Its debut season has gone very well with the show garnering a lot of positive reviews as well as receiving good viewing figures.

The show centres on the story of Neal Caffrey, a white collar criminal who ends up working for the FBI. The charasmatic Caffrey played by Matthew Bomer strikes up an unlikely partnership with FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) as they solve white collar crimes in New York city.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Last Man Standing - A Change to the Red Card rule

Yesterday's Champions League tie saw a pivotal moment in first half stoppage time when Salomon Kalou fell in the penalty area following pressure from Walter Samuel. If the referee viewed the incident as a penalty he would also have had to send off Samuel as he was the last man. After looking to his linesman for assistance the referee decide there was sufficient doubt not to award the penalty. This decision drew a lot of criticism from ITV's commentators & studio guests, though the Chelsea coaching staff took the setback particularly well. One of the points made over & over again by the ITV team was that Kalou had nothing to gain by going to the ground. Well that's not true in the slightest. If the referee had deemed Samuel's challenge worthy of a penalty Chelsea would have obviously got another goal scoring opportunity as well as seeing their opponents reduced to ten man for the remainder of the match. That is more than sufficient cause for Kalou to consider going down.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Rooney: The new Messiah

I compiled this just after Manchester United v AC Milan Champions League tie last week but as I was unable to confirm some statistics I didn't publish it.

Wayne Rooney's two goals in Manchester United's 3-2 victory against AC Milan has once again produced the obligatory love in from the nation’s finest journalistic minds. But given that both opportunities were pretty straightforward is the analysis of Rooney's role last night or in fact in the wider context really accurate.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Feature Reading

Apologies for the late posting of this weeks Friday five though I promise it will be earlier next week. As always I welcome any link suggestions in the comments below.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Champions League Preview

After a two month hiatus the Champions League is back. For this year the format has changed slightly with the first leg ties spread out over two weeks rather than being held on the same week. Tuesday's fixtures sees AC Milan v Man Utd & Lyon v Real Madrid. For this round of fixtures I will stick to previewing ties involving English clubs.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Feature Reading

Something that will become a regular feature on Friday's is a link to the top stories, articles or video clips of the week. After a week of painstaking research I'll compile a list of my 5 favourite links. Now I know that this sounds like an arduous task but fortunately for all readers of this blog that's the level of dedication you can expect from me.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Chuck v the Mask

One of the shows I intend to do an episode by episode review is Chuck. Currently well into its third season Chuck is probably my favourite TV show on at the moment. For those of you who are unaware of this show here's a quick synopsis. 

Chuck is a show about how a normal guy (Charles Bartowski or Chuck for short) gets involved in espionage courtesy of an email sent by an old college friend. The email contains government secrets that are 'downloaded' into his brain. The government sends two agents, Sarah & Casey, to protect and work with Chuck. The secrets in Chuck’s head allow him to access information & as of season three skill sets, a la The Matrix.

Super bowl XLIV Match Analysis

Super bowl XLIV was a fitting finale to another great football season. The top two teams in the league produced a high quality match that ended with first time champions in the form of New Orleans Saints.

The first thing to note is that the victory for the Saints was no upset.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Super bowl XLIV Match Report

I had hoped to do a preview for Super bowl XLIV as it's always more fun imagining the possibilities pre game than evaluating a standard win after the event. I never got the time to do so, but fortunately on this occassion the game lived up to potential. A game of high standard & close scoring ensured it was a tension filled right up to the very end.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Australian Open Final analysis

Roger Federer’s straight sets victory over Andy Murray in the Australian Open Men’s Final was superb as it was surprising. Given their head to head record most commentators had predicted a tight battle with all most as many tipping Murray to prevail as Federer. So that raises the question of why the final was as one sided as it proved.

Writing is Fun

I wrote a little bit yesterday about what you can expect to find in this blog but I did not touch on my reasons for starting it. Now you may or may not feel that this is relevant but hopefully it will add to your appreciation of this blog. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Welcome to Underneath the Stars

Underneath the Stars is a new blog full of musings on subjects as diverse as cricket to indie music. It will attempt to balance a serious approach that hopefully offers a thought-provoking take on subjects as well as a lighter look at things. I want this blog to be fun & informative though I can't make any promises on either front. I am hoping this will be an interactive space & would love to receive your thoughts & feedback on anything posted here as well other material that you feel is relevant to this blog.