Enraptured (Mania.com)

By:Matt Kamen
Date: Monday, September 18, 2006

I go away for a week and come back to find dissent in the air, or the airwaves to be precise. UK channel Rapture is one of the few to show anime in a mostly unedited format, along with 'cult' movies and video games coverage. Rapture currently inhabits channel 193 on Sky's EPG (Electronic Program Guide). For those of you who don't know what this means, it's basically the on screen guide to channels and programs airing on a television service, usually digital TV in one form or another.

Unfortunately, Rapture seem to be in danger of being chased off the EPG due to Sky the UK's only major satellite service, which in turn supplies most of the cable companies charging "excessively high fees" for supplying them with their channel number. If this happened, Rapture could continue broadcasting but would no longer appear automatically when channel surfing, in effect becoming a hidden channel that viewers would need to manually configure their set top boxes to receive.

As a result, Rapture issued this press release on Friday outlining their grievances with Sky's rates and their submission of a formal complaint to Ofcom, the monitoring body for television in the UK. What's particularly interesting about this is that if their complaint is upheld by Ofcom and Sky are forced to back down on their rates, it could open the proverbial floodgates for other niche channels to take up residence on the EPG due to lower costs. Admittedly, we'd probably get a dozen more quiz channels for every decent network but this could conceivably allow more room (read: money) to experiment with specialist genres.

On the flip side, should Sky maintain their current rates, Rapture also broadcasts direct from their website. While unorthodox for older viewers, the youth market that Rapture is aimed at is already used to consuming most of their entertainment via a computer screen, so it's not inconceivable that the network could make a good job of becoming one of the first dedicated internet TV stations, bypassing Sky's fees altogether. Interesting times lay ahead, it seems/

There be dragons, and most likely many other mythological beasts.

This coming weekend sees the Britannia Hotel in Nottingham playing host to the 2006 Fantasycon. The long running two-day event is organised by the British Fantasy Society and will offer a chance to meet authors, attend a variety of talks and panels, scriptwriting sessions, late night storytellings, film shows and more.

For any budding writers out there, appointments can be made for one-to-one chats with editors. However, I've been warned this is a very popular feature and at this late juncture there may no longer be appointment slots available. Worth a shot though, to get your 1000-page dragonic epic seen by an editor or agent.

Fantasycon 2006 will also act as the venue for the presentation of the British Fantasy Awards. Guests include Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Raymond Feist, Juliet McKenna and Ramsey Campbell. Last minute tickets should still be available but act fast if you do want to attend.

Expo Expands again

The organizers of the London Expo have added a couple more guests to their line up, making next month's show one of their biggest yet. Special effects maestro Tom Savini and actors Wallace Langham and Rudolph Martin from CSI and Navy NCIS, respectively, are booked to appear, subject to work commitments.

One particularly noteworthy point about the London Expo is that it's structured to be multiple mini-shows in one, with the horror themed Chillerfest, the Anime Village, Comics Village, Games Village, Robot Zone and Manga Alley all attracting their own group of attendees and providing a very well rounded event easily one of the best genre/collector/fan shows in the country.

New DVD Picks for 18/09/06

New Captain Scarlet Complete Seasons One & Two

Years ago, when I first saw reruns of the original Captain Scarlet series, I thought 'Supermarionation' was somehow connected to an Italian plumber. Ah, the joys of youth. Nevertheless, the series made an impression on me and so I was pleased to see the new CGI series last year. This week sees an eight disc boxed set containing all the episodes to date of the indestructible Spectrum agent's new adventures. With intelligent storytelling that doesn't speak down to its audience and startlingly good CGI for a TV budget, Captain Scarlet is a series well worth checking out.

Twilight Zone Season Four

The fourth season of the classic anthology series hits UK shelves this week. Originally a mid-season replacement (or so I believe), the episodes on this collection are twice the length of those from the first three seasons but half as many. While some suffer from having their run time padded there are still some quality episodes here, making this worth the while of Twilight Zone completists.

Burn Up Excess Complete Collection

A bit of anime cheesecake for you here, replete with some of the time-honoured traditions of the medium large breasted girls with guns. OK, so the series will never be regarded as high art but, vague objectification of women aside, it is a fun futuristic cop show that can easily be picked up and watched a couple of episodes at a time. Oh, and it has a 'Jiggle Counter'. I feel so sexist now...

That's it for this week. Thoughts? Comments? Hatemail? Contact me at mattkamen@gmail.com