So Visage has kicked off with musical beginnings, but Dr Cranium’s domain is the small screen. Beginnings will be covered, but I’d like to start at the end and lament (or rejoice in) the shows that have recently been cancelled. By the way, Dr Cranium hates spoilers, and so will endeavour not to reveal anything that hasn’t yet been aired in the UK.

The world of American television is cutthroat and often unfair, but let’s start with a decision that Dr Cranium thoroughly approves of. First on the list is Prison Break. Dr Cranium has no problem recognising when a man is more attractive than he is, but Wentworth Miller? Really? Get a haircut. Prison Break started with a bang but, as the saying goes, ended with a whimper. Like a prize horse that has stumbled it gets no second chance; it gets shot and made into glue. Or a delicious dish which Dr Cranium had while on a weekend break in Palermo. Once the first season ended and Prison Break became Prison Broken Out, it was over – Prison Broke. Moving from Fox River to Sona for the third season solved nothing, and everyone switched off; literally. If you miss it, they will be releasing a couple more features soon – one is a movie comprising two episodes from the end that never aired. Yawn. There is also talk of another series, this time focusing on a housewife falsely imprisoned for blah blah YAWN.

And then the cop shows. The Shield, that mighty Kodiak bear of a cop show, ended after 7 years. This was just the right time. Watching the beginning of the Shield was like the beginning of Spooks – they made the audience understand right from the beginning that they weren’t playing by anybody’s rules; not even their own. But there’s only so long you can screw whores, beat up Latinos, and steal from Armenians before you get tired and have to nap. The finale was excellent: watch the superb final credits with an awesome tune playing over them. Also see the second half of this post, which sums it up perfectly (though it does include a spoiler; the video doesn’t).

Then those douchebags cancelled Life. Why? Because they’re douchebags. Life was astoundingly good. Almost every great investigator has a “thing”. Columbo’s was his cigars, Kojak’s was his lollipops, and Charlie Crews had his fresh fruit. Because when you’re a cop in prison for murder, the one thing you can’t get is fresh fruit. And when you’re released you’re going to take some of the mound of cash you got from suing the city for false imprisonment, you’re going to buy a cool car and an even cooler house, then you’re going to fill them with fresh fruit. Awesome. And Damian Lewis is definitely more attractive than Dr Cranium, even if he is a ginger. At least it lasted longer than Jericho. Dr Cranium still gets misty-eyed just thinking about when they cancelled that one.

What with The Wire being over, I guess we’ll just have to watch CSI, or CSI Miami, or CSI NY. Or the new CSI BC (set in fourth century Athens; or maybe British Columbia). The sum of the CSIs that actually exist is about two decades of television. There is literally no storyline they haven’t covered.

More endings in a post coming soon, along with some evidence that all is not lost. Dr Cranium is now going to watch the two final episodes of Battlestar Galactica, which is ending just as it got good again.

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The top 5 Opening Tracks to Debut Albums

1. Rock and Roll Star Oasis

2. I Wanna Be AdoredThe Stone Roses

3. Turn the PageThe Streets

4. Round Here Counting Crows

5. Break on Through (To the Other Side) The Doors

So, it seems like beginnings would be an apposite topic to start with, and few beginnings have such an immediate impact as the Opening Track to a Debut Album (“OTDA”). It has always been an object of fascination to me how bands view the opening track of their debut album; this is after all the first thing that they will ever commit to tape and to posterity, and not only creates the first impression people have of a band but also sets the tone for the whole album, their first (and potentially only) stab at greatness.

There are a number of types of OTDAs, and they will vary between genres. A lot of Rap and/or Hip Hop albums start with skits, which is pretty much going to count them out of the running, irrespective of comedy guest appearances from the likes of McNulty from The Wire (who continues his journey from Eton to Detroit via West Baltimore).

Some are simply brilliant tracks (the likes of I Wanna be Adored by the Stone Roses comes to mind, which shares with Round Here by Counting Crows the courageous distinction of opening a debut album with a sustained period of silence and/or indistinct mechanical noises).

Others, such as Rock and Roll Star from Definitely Maybe by Oasis, are, as well as being great tunes in their own right, perfect distillations of the sound or tone of the rest of the album, doing at the beginning of a debut what A Certain Romance does at the end of the Artic Monkeys’ first outing. Rock and Roll Star is such a swaggering, aggressive, and ultimately, cool introduction to what Oasis are about that it arguably remains the best showcase for Liam Gallagher’s talents.

But you get the impression that Oasis simply hit the ground running and carried on in that vein, whereas some ODTAs set out to be spectacular curtain raisers. It may be a function of the sheer variety of the album, but Turn the Page, from the Streets’ debut album, doesn’t really feel that indicative of the rest of his work, although it is undeniably a massive tune. It’s as if, both lyrically and musically, he’s set out the make the most self-consciously epic track possible, and while some may feel it over-eggs the pudding slightly, those who share my musical sweet tooth (to blend the culinary metaphor slightly) won’t complain.

Which I suppose goes to show that there is more than one way to skin your first cat, but there is, I think, something special about having your first recorded work stand the test of time so well. Here’s hoping…