Blog Archives

Advert: ‘Tom’ (Google+) – 31 March 2012

It’s almost exactly two years since John Lewis aired their renowned Always A Woman advert for the first time, which followed one fame from infant girl to loving grandmother. After seeing it in that night’s edition of Britain’s Got Talent, I took to this blog to share it with readers. And that I intend to do with another advert – or ‘commercial’, as the marketers of the American company it promotes would say – this one for Google and, specifically, their Google+ social network.

Google have effectively given their own take on that JL Never Knowingly Undersold campaign, using Jaques’s All The World’s A Stage monologue from Shakespeare‘s As You Like It as the ‘soundtrack’ to the 90-second commercial, read by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Personally, I still prefer the beautiful colouring of the 2010 ad even though, unlike this one, it’s technically impossible: the child at the birthday party could not have been wearing clothes from the same era as the elderly lady seen at the end of the video if they were indeed the same person (in this one, there’s two ‘real time’ eras, with Tom’s son, Tom today, and Tom as a grandfather illustrating the ‘seven ages of man’, getting around that problem). But even still, it’s a great clip, and interesting to see Google (a long-pioneering web company) advertising through a much older and less-targetable medium (one that they don’t have any control over) for what is really the first time.

My Thoughts: Top Gear 18×01 – 29 January 2012

(Just so you know, I’m not going to review every Top Gear episode, but I had strong enough opinions of this episode to warrant a My Thoughts blog.)

BACK FOR MORE: Jeremy Clarkson, as ever, began the show.

The first episode of this new, eighteenth series of Top Gear was to be, for many once-loyal fans (myself included), a make-or-break episode. Cock it up, and we’d lose interest and leave it to suffer a plunge in ratings.

The producers (to whom the TG brand is worth millions) and presenters knew this very real threat. Though part of a joke, Jeremy Clarkson made no secret of the controversy that’s followed the disastrous Christmas India special, opening the show in simple terms: “Now, even though this programme has taken a terrible battering in the newspapers in recent weeks, we have made every effort we possibly can to make sure this series is unaffected.”

Indeed, the preview tape looked similar to those of the old series, with beautiful photography, great co-presenter chemistry, and a wide range of upcoming films included. But as the first episode progressed, it became obvious that it was not all ‘same old same old’. In addition to the addition of a plinth in the studio for the Hammerhead-i Eagle Thrust from Series 14, there were far greater changes in programme feel.

In recent series (and most noticeably in that Christmas 2011 episode), the style of the main films has felt hideously patronising, where it seemed we were meant to fall for the blatantly-staged, unfunny ‘accidents’ (many of which, like the crude ‘Eat English Muff‘ and ‘Sh IT For Your Company‘ train stunts, were merely repeats of virtually identical stunts from previous series).

IN THE CAR ON THE TRACK: Hammond follows the camera car.

Read the rest of this entry

The Boys Are Back: New Top Gear Series – 29 January 2012

Tonight, the nation’s three favourite motorheads return to our screens, following an embarrassingly weak (and “offensive”) Christmas special from India. The show – now ten years old and in its eighteenth series – is well-known for its controversy, but from what I’ve seen of the new series, it’s likely to be a little more tame.

WILL HE IS: is the first Star In A Reasonably Priced Car.

Personally, I think the format’s growing tired (as all formats do), but I’m delighted for the BBC that it’s made so much money abroad – which ultimately lowers licence fees, thanks to BBC Worldwide’s return of profits to programming.

THE BOYS ARE BACK: James May and the Hamster in studio rehearsals on Wednesday.

“Hello virtual audience and welcome back for a new series of Top Gear. We kick off in this one with a supercar drive across Italy. At this point, people who think they’re funny say ‘It’s a rotten job, but somebody’s got to do it.’ Well I’d like to say it’s a great job, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do it. Thank you for supporting the programme and making it possible for me. And if it all ends tomorrow, I’ll look back on it and think ‘That was great’ and then go and do something worthwhile like be a teacher.”

— James May, in a web-clip about the upcoming new series of Top Gear, 25 January 2012

Top Gear returns to BBC 2 at 8:00pm tonight (29 January 2012).