Tagged: BBC America

Martha Thomases: Don’t Try To Dig What We All Say

In my daily perusing of the Internets, I came across this post. A short post, it says (with one little snip):

“Dear Old People (and this includes me), the kids today are not hip to your cultural references. This is not a failure of education. Things change. The end.”

It’s not about comics or the movies or television. If anything it’s about Baby Boomers and how insufferable we can be. The popular art that moved us must move you, or you’re ignorant.

This is not a new attitude. My mother, for example, loved E. Nesbitt and J. D. Salinger, so she thought I should read them. My high school English teacher thought that Fitzgerald and Hemingway were the greatest writers of the 20th Century, and skewed their curricula accordingly.

None of this was as insufferable as my generation has been.

In Hollywood, my generation has minded the television shows of our youth into (for the most part) wretched movies. Car 54, Where Are You?, which was an entertaining glimpse of the 1950s Bronx, was made into a terrible movie that abused my beloved David Johansen. See also: McHale’s Navy (here and here), I Spy (here and here), and more. Exception: The Addams Family was genius, and so was equally transgressive movie.

We also made smug jokes. Do you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings? These days, if someone tells that joke, that person must explain what Wings was.

In comics, the insidious influence of the Boomers is even worse. Every attempt to reboot a character for a modern audience is eventually derailed by continuity geeks who insist that everything fall in line with the way it was when they were kids. Sometimes, I’m like this myself. I liked the Supergirl who hid her robot in a tree. I liked super pets. I think they made the world a better place.

You know what else made the world a better place? Me, being young and cute and hopeful.

We need to get over ourselves. The Flash doesn’t have to be Barry Allen (that re-reboot robbed my adult son of the Flash he grew up with). Superman doesn’t have to be in love with Lois Lane, nor Peter Parker with either Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy. Those stories exist, and we can read them whenever we like.

In the meantime, there’s lots of terrific new entertainment that us old farts could learn from. Off the top of my head, there’s Sherlock, a brilliant new way to look at a classic character. There’s Copper on BBC America, a blueprint for the way the GOP wants to rebuild American society. There’s Cosmopolis, a movie that analyzes modern life from the interior of a stretch limo. And, love him or hate him, Mark Millar is taking major risks as he creates his media empire.

Now, excuse me. I have to go and watch Nashville again.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman, Rob Liefeld, Scoot Snyder, and Burning Down The House


Doctor Who Premieres On NYC Stage

Last Saturday was a busy day if you were a Doctor Who fan in New York City.  The first episode of the new series, Asylum of the Daleks, had its US premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater, the largest single-screen theater in the city they could lay their hands on.  After a minor frenzy to obtain tickets, fans were treated to an hour-long thrill ride as The Doctor and his friends Amy and Rory fought against more Daleks than you could shake an eye-stalk at.  But the activity began earlier in the day, as the folks at BBC America made stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, as well as co-producer Caroline Skinner available for interviews to the appreciative hordes of the working press.

Matt Smith  (The Doctor) is currently shooting the Christmas special (“Which you have to shoot in August, because what could be more silly” explained Caro Skinner) and arranged a break in his schedule so he could fly to New York specifically to attend the premiere.  “I want to film every single episode in New York, I want to get that out there right now.  I absolutely love this place.  Any way you point a camera, there’s something wonderful and beautiful to look at. The Light here sort of falls between the grids of the buildings so wonderfully. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d like to come live here one day. And it’s great to do a sort of periody piece here – the locations afford you so much.”

In the aforementioned special, “[The Doctor] meets his new chum…or someone he thinks is his new chum”, played by newcomer to the series, Jenna-Louise Coleman.  When asked about how The Doctor acts when he hasn’t got a companion, Matt admits he’s “really interested by the time he spends on his own. I think he gets more dangerous when he’s on his own.  I think he needs that sort of human moral compass, that human sensibility.  He needs that, he doesn’t have the same grasp of it.    It’s interesting to think about the character becoming more reclusive, and on his own. Just this old man, wandering around the universe, trying to put things right…killing loads of innocent people along the way. when you look at it, there’s a lot of clerics that die in certain episodes.”

This season of thirteen regular episodes is broken into a short set of five, the final eight coming in 2013, after the Christmas special.  The only “arc” in this five is what matt calls “The fall of the Ponds”.  “We start off exactly where we left him,” Matt explains, “a man who is trying to step back a bit, into the shadows, and be less prominent, less famous, less apparent, less destructive. less of all those things that he started to struggle with. We see him trying to deal with that, as a character, or personality trait, it’s absolutely something he’s trying to deal with.  Perhaps it does make his soul a bit darker, because he’s alone a lot more. As Amy says, it’s unhealthy for him, I think, ultimately, to be alone too long.”

When discussing the new episode, everyone has said the Daleks are “scary again”.  “We’ve got the design of them better,” says Matt.  “We’ve drawn from every Dalek, every one ever on its…well, you can’t say ‘legs’, can you?  On their…space wheels.  And The Asylum, you’ll see tonight, it’s…Dalek-Land. Like a perfect theme park – everything’s made for Daleks, it’s sort of ridiculous.  The doors all go like that (makes a triangle shape with his hands) cause they’re all fat at the bottom. The world is really sort of gruesome and frightening. The design, and the tone, and the way it’s lit, I think we’ve achieved our intention with their nature.”

Karen Gillan (Amy Pond Williams) admitted something fairly major – “I’ve never found the Daleks…all that scary. I’ve loved them, cause they’re so iconic. But in this episode, they’re properly frightening.

I wondered if this “asylum” was more in the sense of a place where you keep mad people, of a place where dangerous people beg to be kept safe.  Matt surmised, “I think it is [the first], but I rather like the idea of Daleks SO mad, they’re asking, ‘don’t let me out’. If they had more of a human consciousness, the latter could apply, but the Daleks don’t have that, it’s just not there.  It’s just alien evil, encased in a tank.  That’s why The Doctor has had this life-long war, that’s why they are his greatest foe, there’s nothing redemptive about them.  They are only evil, and that’s the way he sees them; only evil.”

“This is an interesting episode for the nature of the Daleks”, Matt thinks. “We learn a lot, Steven cleverly reveals.  As I think you have to with any villain that comes back.  They have to have moved on somehow. And I think Steven’s done that here, he’s explored their nature in a very interesting way.”

The recurring theme of meeting historical figures will come round again, in an odd way.  “In episode four, we encounter someone’s feet. He was a king, and he’s chasing us…and I’m not gonna give anything else away.”  When asked what figure he might like to see appear, Matt was introspective.  “Was Tarzan real?  He wasn’t real was he?  I kind of like the idea of The Doctor swinging from the branches, but being really bad at it.”

Gillan had a rather definite opinion about her character, specifically about the possibility of a return after this season’s assuredly dramatic departure.  “I’ve always said that when I go, I want it to be for good.  Because I want that final scene to have that same impact, maybe ten years on.  I want people to be able to revisit it and still have the same emotion.  That’s really important for me, so for that reason, I think I’m going to rule out any returns.”  However, when I quietly complimented her on her ability to lie, she replied, “I learned it from the best!”

This season will start with a five-part webisode prequel, Pond Life, which will be made available on the BBC’s You Tube channel. “That was really interesting,” Karen recalls. “Cause you never get to see the snippets in between their adventures with The Doctor. And that’s what Pond Life is all about.  And the in episode four (The Power of Three) that’s what the whole episode is about – these two people trying to deal with their domestic life, with this time-traveler popping in and out of their lives, whisking them off into these crazy adventures.”

“Steven (Moffat) and I wanted to do a fairly substantial piece about the Ponds and their relationship with The Doctor,” explained Executive producer Caroline Skinner, “kind of in general, and in between series six and seven.  And one of the exciting thing about this series of episodes is you’ve got Amy and Rory as a married couple, and The Doctor popping in and out of their life, and taking them on adventures, and then dropping them off again. And we wanted something to set up that context, and really let people get an emotional sense of their relationship. And to see what The Doctor popping in and out meant from their point of view. You’ve got him coming in like that crazy little child, and throwing everything up in the air.”

“We were working at the time with brilliant writer Chris Chibnall (writer of 42 and The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood for Who, and numerous episodes of Torchwood), and he’s just got the most beautiful way for writing for Amy and Rory, and we asked him to put pen to paper, and that’s what we got.”

In this, her first full season producing the show, Caro brings to the table “A huge amount of passion for [the series], I’ve always loved it, and massive enthusiasm and ambition to make this the biggest series ever. And so does Steven.  I sat down on day minus-one, just before I got the job, and he pitched me what he wanted to do with the series. And miraculously, in fifteen minutes, he’d pitched me all 13 stories for each episode, and I was just sat there saying ‘Wow, that’s quite a lot.’  And it was just so exciting to hear, to be honest, and I just wanted to bring my enthusiasm to bear to make all those ideas come to life, in the most ambitious way that we could.”

While chatting, Karen shared a problem she had with the many deaths of Rory Williams:  “Each time, I have to invent a sort of new ‘death reaction.’  What am I going to do now?”  She didn’t have any such problems filming her final scenes.  “It not even acting, it’s just real. And it was honestly, just one of the most powerful feelings, and I just related it to how I genuinely felt.  [that scene] was fairly far along in the shooting, but our very last scene was kind of an insignificant one, just us getting into the TARDIS, going ‘bye!’ But it became significant, cause it was the last time were going into the TARDIS together. So Matt closed the door, and we were in total darkness, and we all had a massive hug in the dark.  And I cried, and milked it for all it was worth. It was amazing.”

Of all the episodes she’s filmed, Karen still considered The Eleventh Hour to be her favorite. “There was a particular magic to that episode. We were introducing the characters and establishing their relationship for the first time, and it was all so exciting.  Actually, my favorite scene doesn’t even involve me at all, it’s the fish/custard scene, with my little cousin (Caitlin Blackwood) and Matt.”

Karen’s met some very wonderful fans, but had a couple stories about a couple that…stuck in her mind. One was a fellow who had actually had his name changed to “River Song”, and dressed as her for the convention, and a second fellow from Australia who had customized his house to a Doctor Who theme – “He had a TARDIS elevator, the gates had the logo – it had to cost some money.”

All three of the guests agreed that filming in New York City was a wonderful experience. “We filmed in Central Park and had hundreds of fans,” Matt recalls, “following us. It was remarkable, like nothing I’d ever witnessed before.”  Karen agreed – ” Just to contain the excitement of being in Central Park was a challenge. We didn’t have any sort of security, we didn’t think anything like [hundreds of fans] was going to happen. But what was really nice is everybody respected the shooting, they were really quiet, and the they said ‘Cut,’ and it was all ‘Sign my TARDIS!'”  Caroline explained, “When we shoot in the UK, we’ll get quite a few people following us around, and the fan base absolutely adore the show.  But in my career, I’ve never known anything…I don’t think anyone had prepared themselves for what shooting in New York would be like. Least of all, our producers here in New York, who had done various movies here, and they’re all saying, ‘Caro, I don’t mean to be funny, but you’ve got twice as many people as Julia Roberts here!’ Just a wonderful experience.  We had maybe twenty, thirty people in central park in the morning, and the crowd just grew, and by the end, we were shooting at a big fountain, and we could hardly hold the people back.  And the sheer love and passion for the show was in the air, and it made the entire experience so special.

Indeed, Caroline called Angels in Manhattan the most challenging episode of this front half of the season.  “Challenging for Steven because he’s written the most beautiful and heartbreaking exit story and there are some scenes in there that just so absolutely emotional.  It’s an enormous thing to change companions, and you absolutely have to get that story right.  And at the same time, we wanted to make the New York setting as resonant as we possibly could, and really make it feel to every detail, that we’d set it over here.  And we did, we came here.  We worked incredibly hard to get to get out and about to every New York landmark that we could, but more so to create that sort of noirish atmosphere that shooting in this city is so famous for.  To make the story feel as beautiful as it possibly could do.

As for next year, which will of course be 2013, the fiftieth anniversary year for the series.  “All I can say at this point”, said Caroline, guardedly, “Is that next year i going to be the biggest year of Doctor Who, bar none.  I spent a lot of my time in strange underground rooms, with senior people at the BBC, and talking about what we might do. And not just on television; but other things, cause obviously Doctor Who has a lot of live events. So there are many plans afoot, which are all wonderful, and are all absolutely top secret.”

Writing for science fiction is always a challenge, as eventually someone has to ask how much things will cost, and that’s ultimately Caroline’s job.  “We are treated very nicely by the BBC, but it’s always, whatever show you do, however big of small the budget is, you always want more.  The thing we do on Doctor Who, as much as we possibly can do, is to let writers write exactly what they want, and then try not to cut anything,  What you tend to get, in a Doctor Who script, is if it doesn’t, in terms of the production challenges, within it, in terms of location, in terms of special effects, just sheer story-based ambition…if it doesn’t scare you, as well as the monsters, we’re none of us are working hard enough.”

Later that evening, Matt and Karen arrived at the Ziegfeld theater in twin DeLoreans, to the sound of the cheering crowds, and of reality folding in upon itself.  The episode itself was met with delight by the audience, and as the trio were so earnest in their requests to keep it all a secret (especially the BIG where where…ok, sorry), well, who are we to refuse them.  suffice to say we learn about a great deal more about how Daleks think, how they treat their failures, and what they see as beautiful.  The question and answer session was filled with laughs as, among other things, we learned that Matt had to help Karen zip up her dress (“Twice!”), the cast think that Peter Sellers and Bill Nighy would make great Doctors, and in answer to a young girl who asked “Why does Amy always get in trouble?”, Karen simply answered “Well, she’s a risk-taker”.  Matt shared a story about his Mum, who was with him at the premiere (and was received with great cheers). She’s quite the fan of the series herself, and when they were looking for the new Doctor, she sent him a text saying “You should be the new Doctor”, and he had already gotten cast, and couldn’t even tell her.  So if he’s that good at keeping secrets, surely the 1,200 member of the audience can keep schtum for a week.

Asylum of the Daleks premieres September 1st at 9PM EDT on BBC America.  Check you local listing, especially in HD as several major cable and satellite carries have recently added the BBC America HD channel to their lineups.

Doctor Who Series premieres on 9/1 in US and UK; prologue web mini-series starts 8/27

The Eleventh Doctor and Amy PondDoctor Who fans don’t have to hold it anymore. The Great Question has been answered.  No, not the one about Life, The Universe and Everything, or even the one that will be asked on the Fields of Trenzilor at the Fall Of The Eleventh.  The BIG question – “When will Doctor Who premiere?”

And the answer is, September 1st.  And it’s the SAME answer whether you live in America or the UK, with only a slight variance in detail.  In the UK, the premiere episode Asylum of the Daleks will broadcast at 7:20 PM, and in the states at 9 PM, EDT.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNHEEZ_I74U]

The episode has already seen its premiere in the UK via a gala celebration, and will see its US premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on August 25th.  Tickets for the NYC event sold out in under half an hour, the rush of hopeful fans crashing the Movietickets.com website.

Over and above the welcome news of the premiere, the big surprise was that the premiere will be preceded by a five-part webisode mini series.  The story, entitled “Pond Life”, will feature Amy and Rory PondWilliams attempting to live a normal life, outside the TARDIS.  The synopsis of Asylum suggests that said normal life may not be going too smoothly. Series stars Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill discuss the mini-adventure on the BBC Website.

The episodes, written by Chris Chibnall, will be released one day, starting Monday, August 27th on the BBC website.  They’ll also be made available in the UK, via BBC’s interactive “Red Button” service.  Plans are proceeding on how the episodes will be released by BBC America— look for an update soon.

These webisodes are a continuation of the episode prequels from the previous season, each of which featured a brief extra scene from several episodes of the series.  These prequels were included on the later video releases, it’s presumed this mini-series will also appear in this season’s set.

In honor of this surprise, Your Humble Reporter has crafted a suggested logo for the mini-series, inspired by a popular Britcom which starred a number of actors who later appeared on Doctor Who:

(Update: yes, 9/1, not 8/1 as we originally had in the headline. We’re dumb.)

DDoS (Dalek Denial of Service) Attack – Doctor Who fans crash BBC America, Movietickets.com websites

The Eleventh Doctor and Amy PondWhen BBC America teased Wednesday that tickets would be made available for  New York City Premiere of this season’s premiere episode of Doctor Who, there was little doubt they would be highly coveted.  But when the link was released shortly after 2PM on Thursday, it was not expected that the rush of fans would crash the channel’s link forwarding service.  A direct link to the sales page at Movetickets.com was hastily released, and the crush of eager purchasers quickly brought that website to its knees as well.

In a mini-repeat of recent bottlenecks for the San Diego Comic-Con, the ticket purchase system slowed to a crawl, and access was severely limited almost immediately after the links were announced.  The site’s customer service number was jammed to bursting for several hours after tickets sold out as people attempted to see if aborted transactions resulted in a sale or not.

Those who could snag a connection and hold onto it for a full purchase session were able to secure ticket to the premiere of Asylum of the Daleks for the princely sum of eleven cents.  The site would not allow them to give the tickets away for free, so the micro-fee (plus the website’s one-dollar service charge) was their way of tipping the hat to Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor, while still granting almost free admission to the fans.

The site sold over 800 tickets in approximately twenty minutes, selling out New York’s Ziegfeld Theater, the largest theater they were able to secure.

BBC America has made it clear they’re very thankful that the event was so zealously accepted by the fans, and apologized that the process didn’t go as smoothly as it could have done.  While there’s been no reports of a second showing, the site will be offering contests throughout the week to win tickets.  Announcements will be made via their popular Twitter and Tumblr feeds.

During the information feeding frenzy of the (still unannounced) broadcast premiere of the show, BBC America has also been undertaking a massive publicity blitz for its first original series, the period police series Copper.  Produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, it tells the tale of one of New York City’s honest policemen in the wild and chaotic year 1864.  Copper premieres this Sunday, August 19th, at 10PM on BBC America.

The Doctor Who premiere will be on August 25th at 6PM at the Ziegfeld Theater.  It is presumed the line has already started.

The Point Radio: BBC Gives A Shiny New COPPER

This week, BBC America premieres their new detective series COPPER and we have star Tom Weston Jones to explain why you won’t want to miss it, plus SyFy unleashes a new reality show that hits a little close to most of us – COLLECTION INTERVENTION. When do our hobbies become unhealthy. Host Elyse Luray explain. And, a sad start to the week with the passing of a true comic book great.

GO HERE to see our EXCLUSIVE video with COPPER’s Tom Weston Jones and while you are at it, subscribe to our new YouTube Channel!

Don’t miss a minute of pop culture news – The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Mindy Newell: Doctor ????

Who’s your favorite Doctor?

I discovered the Time Lord back in the late 1970s (I think), when WNET, the New York PBS station, started running the Tom Baker episodes. Baker’s Doctor, with his floppy-brimmed hat, outback duster, and loonnnng, multi-colored, scarf – did Granny Who knit it for him? – was the itinerant cosmic hobo. Only instead of hopping the rails, he “tripped the light fantastic” across the universe in the TARDIS. Companions Sara Jane Smith (the late Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) were – seen with the advantage of hindsight –sort of “Mulder/Scully” prototypes, with Sara Jane as the believing Mulder and Harry as the skeptic. I can’t say that the British military operations called UNIT – Unified Intelligence Taskforce – was the FBI, although Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart did sort of act like the Assistant Director Walter Skinner, walking the high-wire tightrope between helping the Doctor and answering to his superiors.

Like every other Whovian, I mourned – and was really pissed off – when the BBC stopped producing the series.

And like every other Whovian with Cablevision, I watched the relaunch of Doctor Who on Sci-Fi, with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billy Piper – the call girl of The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl on Showtime – as his companion, Rose Tyler. I really got into Eccleston as the Doctor, and was incredibly disappointed when he chose to leave the role after only one season…until David Tennant took over the controls of the TARDIS and the wielding of the sonic screwdriver. Like Rose, I fell in love with Tennant’s Doctor.

And I was deeply upset when, after five years, Tennant left. The love story between the Doctor and Rose added new and deep emotional resonance to the series and I didn’t want their tale to end.  So I was stubbornly anti-Matt Smith as the as romanticism and emotional I was not prepared to like Matt Smith as the Doctor’s eleventh reincarnation. I thought his introduction was stupid and boring, not funny, going though young Amy Pond’s refrigerator and kitchen pantry, tasting everything, spitting out everything.

But then….

Bow ties are cool. So are fezzes.

The absolute brilliance – imho – of Smith’s first season as the Time Lord, and the introduction of Amy Pond as, first, a young girl, and then as a grown woman (Karen Gillan), with the addition of Amy’s fiancée-now-husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) won me over by the second episode.

Last night I watched The Science Of Doctor Who, which, like its predecessors The Science Of Star Wars and The Science Of Star Trek, explored how the show has influenced the scientists of today in making the science fiction of the Doctor science reality. Today I trolled BBC America’s Doctor Who web pages, watching sneak previews and reading about catching up on all things Whovian. Including the news that Gillan and Darvill will be exiting the show, and that it may have something to do with the Weeping Angels – to my mind the scariest and creepiest aliens to ever appear on Doctor Who. Yes, much more than the Daleks or the Cybermen.

But I do have one question.

Can someone please, please tell me when Season 7 starts?


WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and Cold Ennui



If you’re waiting for “Doctor Who”, we have Comic Relief

If you’re waiting for “Doctor Who”, we have Comic Relief

Doctor Who (series 5)

Image via Wikipedia

For those of you chomping at the bit for the premiere of the new season of [[[Doctor Who]]] on BBC America in just a few hours, here’s a little preview you may not have seen. This is from this year’s Red Nose Day, which is a fundraiser for England’s Comic Relief. These bits were broadcast on a telethon over there back in March, and as you might expect star Matt Smith as the Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy, and Arthur Darvill as Rory.

I’ve taken these and shown them with movie preview panels at Lunacon and I-CON this year, and have raised about $300 in contributions from the audience. So if you’re going to watch, you should donate as well.

And now, for your dining and dancing pleasure…



Doctor Who Invades New York (Again)

Doctor Who Invades New York (Again)

doctor who logo 2010-

Image via Wikipedia

We understand there are Doctor Who fans reading this site, so we should give you a heads up: the Doctor and his companions are coming to America earlier than you thought.

Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill will be making an in-store appearance this Friday at the Barnes & Noble store at 555 Fifth Avenue, New York, to sign copies of Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series boxed set. You will need a wristband to join the signing line for this event. Wristbands will be distributed starting at 9AM on Friday, April 8 with the purchase of the Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series boxed set. Call the store at 212-697-3048 for more details.

Then on Monday, BBC America will host a free premiere screening event of the first two episodes at the Village East Cinema, 189 2nd Ave at 7 PM. The event will be hosted by Chris Hardwick, with guests Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis. Following a screening of the two-part season premiere (The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon) Chris will lead a discussion and Q&A, which he’ll record for a special Nerdist Podcast.

Last year, Matt, Karen and Steven Moffat went to New York for a publicity tour to promote Series 5. They attended a ‘Meet the Cast’ event at the Apple store in SoHo and did an episode premiere event, and ComicMix contributor Alan Kistler shamelessly flirted with Ms. Gillan at both events.

And of course, if you can’t make it, BBC America will premiere the show on April 23.

The Point Radio: David Tennant On Ending ‘Doctor Who’

The Point Radio: David Tennant On Ending ‘Doctor Who’

In just a few days, BBC America premieres the first part of “End Of Time” which will see the final appearance of David Tennant as DOCTOR WHO. We sit down, not only with David, but also key creators Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner in the first part of our exclusive interview. Plus it’s OUR FIRST ANNIVERSARY and we end the season with a rumor about a SUPERGIRL movie…with Taylor Swift??

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