October 30, 2008

Little Dorrit episode two this evening

Nobody does it better: a touch more of Andrew Davies's Dickens adaptation to warm the heart as the evenings get colder: 8.30, BBC HD.

October 28, 2008

Queen Vic in HD

No, not the Eastenders local; there's a Timewatch special on Queen Victoria this evening on BBC HD (9pm): details here. Along with Simon Schama's American Future and Bruce Parry's Amazon programme we're having some class documentaries from Auntie in high def this autumn.

October 27, 2008

New series of Spooks...no HD

There's a new series of one of the Beeb's best thriller series, Spooks, kicking off on BBC1 tonight, but yet again it has been shot in standard definition and won't be on BBC HD. Sure, they filmed Spooks-lite, BBC3's Spooks: Code 9, in HD earlier this year, but still the adult fare is not given the high quality treatment. It's not even a schedule clash; BBC HD is showing the Joanna Lumley Northern Lights documentary at 9pm :o(

October 24, 2008

BBC HD this weekend

Not much of note at all on BBC HD this weekend; all the usual suspects and what feels like even more repeats of music shows that normal...is this really what we foresaw when the channel was given the thumbs up last year?
Oh well, at least we have Little Dorrit to marvel at (8pm Sunday), followed by the more questionable pleasure of In Love With Barbara, a dramatisation of the life and loves of the lady who lived her life in a cloud of foundation, Barbara Cartland.
Incidentally, if you ever see anything in the BBC HD schedules and want to know more about it, I found this useful link that lists everything currently scheduled for the next few weeks.

October 23, 2008

Yours for a single penny...

Fans of the finer things in life will welcome this week's penny HD movie - from tomorrow (24th) for a week Filmflex has There Will Be Blood in exchange for the smallest copper coin of the Realm. Click here to see the trailer for one of 2008's better movies.

October 22, 2008

Freeview HD may appear earlier

According to several sources, the BBC has asked OFCOM for permission to roll out BBC HD on Freeview earlier that the current "by London 2012" timetable. The main focus is London and the South East which could be available as early as next year if OFCOM approves, with other regions similarly taking advantage of some jiggery-pokery with the frequencies. Although existing Freeview equipment won't be capable of handling the HD service, I can't help but feel that Freeview HD will prove to be the tipping point for HD in the UK. Full story here.

October 21, 2008

BBC HD DOG to disappear...almost

In her latest post on the BBC Blog, Danielle Nagler announces that the BBC HD logo is no longer to appear on most drama and films, and will be fainter on other programming. Hurrah! If only others would take similar steps.
I don't know anyone who's a fan of these "DOGs". The worst for this unnecessary onscreen grafitti, especially the intrusive animated nonsense, are the Sky and Virgin Media TV channels (the former's got even worse since it disappeared from cable and is now reaching US excesses). But you have to go a long way to beat the screen-filling logos on the Disney channels which obsure a ridiculous amount of the screen.
Danielle also admits that the scheduling mess over Heroes/Silent Witness didn't please anyone and pledges to do better in future. It's really refreshing to hear such honesty - whilst it's true that you can't please all the people all the time, at least by listening to her audience she's going to please us more than most.
Now, about all those repeats...

October 18, 2008

Freeview picture quality better than Freesat?

Interesting article here from the always-interesting Crave UK site. Ok, so it's not about HD nor Virgin Media, but for those considering Freesat as an option to get ITV HD, some food for thought.

October 17, 2008

The weekend in HD on Virgin Media

BBC HD (just four years until it arrives on Freeview in London folks) has a vast array of repeats for your delectation and delight this weekend. Tucked away in there though are a handful of first showings;
Friday night features the familiar trio of Gardeners' World, Little Britain USA and the dubious pleasure of Jonathan Ross interviewing Ricky Gervais (why don't they just get a room??).
Saturday night is repeats night central, with just Strictly Come Dancing as the new boy on the block. On Sunday there's an interesting Ian Fleming: When Bond Began as a preview to the forthcoming release of Quantum of Solace (just in case you thought the Gemma Arterton pic was misplaced!), followed by Antiques Roadshow. The late night Heroes repeat is still following the BBC2 pace, with episode 3.
New in the HD section of TV Choice on Demand is History Channel's Digging for the Truth (2 Egyptian themed episodes), whilst Big Love episodes are now numbering eight in my region.
Oh, and the HD movie for a penny for the next seven days is the Jack Black Be Kind Rewind.

October 16, 2008

Little Dorrit in high definition UPDATED

There can be little doubt that one of the BBC's drama highlights of year is Andrew Davies' forthcoming adaptation of Dickens' Little Dorrit. For those who enjoyed Bleak House a few years back and felt somewhat short changed by the Beeb's tired Oliver Twist serial from last winter, this is the real deal, with a cast to die for and the same serial format as its previous award-winning triumph.
And it has been shot in glorious high definition, too.
Radio Times schedules have just been updated and this is now showing on BBC HD at the same time it's being broadcast on BBC1 - hurrah!

October 15, 2008

BBC HD 5.1 and PQ updates

Another fine post over on the BBC Blog about HD services. First off, they've resolved the 5.1 audio problem:
The big issue of 5.1 / 2.0 switching. Thanks to everyone commenting on this blog and elsewhere to give feedback while we were trying switching options. It's now working, but not as well as we would like - for example, we still have more work to do before we can move between stereo and surround programmes without having to put silence between them.
And they've also addressed the sometimes ropey studio HD picture on Jonathan Ross:
We have looked at the whole studio, post-production and transmission chain to see what was causing the problems. There were a couple of processes that made some of the cameras quite noisy: these have now been addressed and last Friday's show (October 3rd) looked a lot better, but we are still trying to find ways to improve the quality across all programmes.
Read the full post from Andy Quested here.

October 14, 2008

When the Levees Broke returns

Back in June the award-winning Spike Lee HBO documentary When the Levees Broke appeared in in HD in the TV Choice on Demand selection for a very, very brief period. (Details of its premature departure here.) Anyway - it's back, albeit just in standard definition for now. Check in "What's New" in TV Choice on Demand

October 13, 2008

Two HD movies for a penny each this week

Virgin's October penny movies deal continues this week, with the ridiculous but enjoyable National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets starring Nicholas Cage and British horror The Cottage both available in high def for £0.01 each. Click the titles to see the trailers.

October 10, 2008

Schama in HD

If you know the difference between a Hockey Mom and a pit bull, you may want to forgo tonight's The American Future: A History, by Simon Schama on BBC2 at 9pm and wait until its premier on BBC HD on Monday evening at 8pm. I'm not sure why it's not being simulcast this evening (I guess Little Britain USA is a bigger draw - a sad indictment of the general public's taste if ever there was one) but better late than never.

Nestling in amongst the repeats on BBC HD

No real surprises with the BBC HD line up this weekend. Friday evening features Little Britain USA at 9.30pm and the luv-it-or-loath-it Friday Night with Jonathan Ross guesting Colin Farrell and Sir Roger Moore. Will Sir Rog's hair colour look convincing in HD? I have my doubts but check for yourself at 10.35.
Saturday night is all repeats with the exception of Strictly Come Dancing at 5.50pm. Like the world's slowest advent calendar, ticking away the Saturday nights to Christmas - it's Round 4
On Sunday there's a repeat of one of the Beeb's best HD series to date: an episode of Galapagos at 6.25pm. Following at 7.15pm is Fiona Bruce with Antiques Roadshow. Those eagerly anticipating the Stephen Fry in America will be disappointed to see it wasn't shot in HD and is only showing on BBC1.
According to the BBC, Sunday's 11.45 episode of Heroes is the second one, "The Butterfly Effect"; it looks like this repeat slot will echo the Wednesday BBC 2 timeline this season. For those who bailed out during the duller moments of season two, I'm pleased to report that the third season has been something of a roller coaster to date and a fine return to form.

October 07, 2008

Sunshine on BBC HD tonight

Replacing the entertaining Mutual Friends at 9pm on the schedules tonight is Sunshine. More details here.

October 06, 2008

Tonight on BBC HD

Worth catching this evening is Timewatch: Stonehenge on BBC HD at 8pm. More details and the iPlayer link here.
Series Editor John Farron says "Sometimes we get a chance to make a film that changes the way we view history. Nearly two years ago we set out to look at a theory suggesting Stonehenge may have been a healing centre. It led to the first modern dig at the site, viewed by millions live online. And now - the results of the dig. Do watch. The Stonehenge story may have changed forever."
Should look impressive...as long as they filmed on a nice sparkly day and not over the weekend :o(

October 05, 2008

On Demand update

Filmflex's Penny Movies return this month with PS I Love You yours in HD for a solitary bronze coin of the realm. (From Friday 10th it's National Treasure 2 in high def for a penny, btw.)
New movies this week in Filmflex's HD offering are Awake, Drillbit Taylor and Never Back Down.
HBO's excellent Big Love debuts in the free HD section this week. This was shown on Five a few years back and won't be to everyone's tastes, but if you like Six Feet Under or the odder aspects of Desperate Housewives, this may rock your boat. Hopefully season two, unshown in the UK, will follow.
The final season of The Sopranos is appearing in HD now, and worth tolerating in SD is the debut season of The Best Cop Show On TV EVER - The Wire. All 13 episodes available for nowt to VIP customers.
Finally, someone's emailed me and pointed out that there are 8 adult movies on Virgin now available in HD. Go to "More On Demand", "Adult" and there's a whole HD category there. HD soft porn...hmmm...

October 03, 2008

Weekend highlights and On Demand update

Sorry, but it's the last picture of Gemma guys...Tess of the D'Urbervilles concludes on Sunday. It's been a fine adaptation that's looked great in HD. For those who don't know the book, the final episode won't be a barrel of laughs I can assure you.
Before that, The Tudors wraps up Friday with Anne Boleyn for the chop and Jonathan Ross offers the dubious pleasure of Alan Carr in HD. Urgghh.
Saturday evening is all repeats (including a second showing for this week's Silent Witness) except this week's Strictly Come Dancing, whereas Sunday's 11.55 presentation of Heroes should be the season premiere 'The Second Coming', although radiotimes.com is still listing the second episode 'The Butterfly Effect'.
Meanwhile, those looking to On Demand for their HD kick: Series 6 of The Sopranos has started appearing and should be around for a few weeks. Even better in my book (although not in HD) is HBO's The Wire Season One, now dribbling out episodes in the SD listings.

Sky HD - an alternative view

A few weeks back I published a post from Carol S, who was very happy with her decision to move from Virgin Media to Sky in order to get a full range of HD services. I haven't heard any more from Carol, so I happily assume that she's still in high def nirvana down there in the West Country.
The recent poll run on this blog suggested many (including me) are also considering the same move; 73% of respondents said they were considering Sky HD plus another 11% suggesting they would be making the move before the year ends and 7% who had already jumped. Admittedly, the poll's options were limited for respondents (sorry again!) but it pulled in just under 400 votes, the highest to date for a poll on this blog.
That's pretty damning for Virgin's HD offering. But not everyone who makes the move to Sky HD has as good an experience as Carol as this thread I recently stumbled upon illustrates.
Of course, experiences of both suppliers vary hugely. I know people who would never entertain cable again after some horrific NTL experiences. I also know folk who have had a torrid time with Sky. The reality is that there isn't a perfect TV service out that will suit everyone, and there's a level of compromise whichever supplier you opt for (Sky has the best HD offering, whereas Virgin's On Demand is superior). You pay your money and take your choice depending on your personal experience and priorities. The upheaval and expense of changing probably keeps all but the most disillusioned where they are currently. Me? I'm sticking with Virgin for now, despite the scarcity of Virgin Media HD on offer today...