Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rich beyond my wildest dreams

I exaggerate, of course, but amongst the hundred-weight of junk mail to depress my hall carpet this morning came my revised Council Tax bill, adjusted for single occupancy. I am now materially better off by at least a half decent dinner out every month.

And yet, to maintain this legendary lifestyle of profligacy, I condemn myself to a life lived alone.

Category: Meatspace

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Faith in Josh

That cheeky infinite-monkey, Josh Friedman, spoils us this morning with his first post in six weeks, in which he lets us into some of his thought processes on the morning of his cancer surgery. A heartfelt and moving piece of writing, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to cry a little at the end of it.

Click, and read.

Category: Computing and Web

Monday, March 27, 2006

BAFTA nominations announced

And if there is any justice in the world, Bodies will win the best drama series category.

A pox on the Beeb for cancelling it.

Bleak House can't fail to wipe the floor with its contenders, and I hope there'll be some recognition for The Thick of It, which was very, very funny indeed.

The rest of the nominations are here.

Category: Movies and TV

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Shield

The latest season of The Shield took a wee break this week, with a shockingly good, oh-my-god-I-cannot-believe-that-just-happened, ninety-minute episode.

This run has seen the best work the show has ever produced. It seems like everyone involved can feel the end coming and is really firing on all cylinders. The Shield has traded on its moral ambiguity from day one - Vic Mackey is a good friend, caring dad, and decent cop, for the most part. But he also killed a policeman, in cold blood, in the pilot episode. Finally, it seems the time has come for an accounting. This shit is about to get Shakespearean. Hell, it could even get Middletonian.

The strike team - what’s left of them - look likely to face some very harsh judgments throughout the show’s (probable) final run, beginning in January.

Oh, and check out The Shield cast and crew blog for some cool commentary on the making of the show.

Category: Movies and TV

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Between the Lines

I’ve just finished watching the second season collection of Island World’s Between the Lines, and just wanted to recommend it to any of you who might not have caught it the first time around, in 1993, or anytime since.

Detective Superintendent Tony Clark (Neil Pearson), heads a team in the Complaints Investigation Bureau of the Metropolitan Police. In the first series, we witnessed the disintegration of his marriage through serial infidelity, the suicide of his tribunal terrified girlfriend, and the arrest of his boss Chief Superintendent Deakin (the late Tony Doyle) on corruption charges.

As gritty as that sounds, the second series is an even darker, and altogether dirtier affair than its predecessor. The first series, in spite of Clark’s sordid private life, had a strong moral tone, and showed our guys more often than not making the case and "doing the legs" of a score of bent coppers. Series two is a more typical product of late Tory Britain. Every case is wash-out. Political pressure for fast action and quick fixes in corruption cases result in slap-dash work and the bad guys getting away with it every time. Murky operations by Special Branch and the Home Office make it impossible to distinguish corruption from expediency. Tony's bosses take more interest in climbing the greasy pole than prosecuting cases. Institutional sexism and racism cause instances of persecution and whistle-blowing to go unexamined.

In short, this set is far more thematically coherent than series one; the show is no longer about catching crooks, but about how a broken system creates disillusion, defeat and disgust in those struggling to uphold it. By the final episode, all the main players are in places you couldn’t have imagined in the first, every step toward compromise and transgression perfectly choreographed by creator J.C. Wilsher.

It’s a really powerful piece of television; tightly written, meticulously crafted - seemingly trivial character-based subplots take on completely unexpected significance as the season develops - and certainly the high water mark of Pearson’s career to date. I suggest picking it up whenever you can.

Category: Movies and TV

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Writerboy done good

Round of applause for Denis at Dead Things on Sticks, whose six-pack Across the River to Motor City has been picked up by Canadian network CHUM.

From the press release:

Across the River to Motor City is a mystery series spanning two eras, two countries and two unforgettable characters. As an insurance investigator in 1960s Windsor and Detroit, Ben Ford weathered the storms of those tumultuous years. Four decades later, a long-buried tragedy leads his daughter Kathleen to unravel the secrets and lies at the heart of her troubled relationship with her father – secrets Ben will risk everything to keep. The series is being produced by Jonsworth Productions in association with Devine Entertainment and will begin shooting in the fall. (6 x 60’)


I like the sound of this. Hopefully, it won't stop Denis from keeping his blog up to date, as it's been one of my favourite reads since he started it, and he still hasn't finished his spec-writing post-series. One thing's for sure though, he's going to have a mad few months.

Congratulations, DMc.

Category: Movies and TV

It's Thomson, without a "p"

It goes on all the time; the minute you write your name on a web-site, you're done for. Someone will find you on Google eventually. I've had hits from people looking for "Lee Thomson," and "Chipping Norton," but I always assumed they were looking for the much better known Lee Thomson of Cheshire County Council, or seeking out a hotel room for a dirty Cotswold weekend. It's sort of thrown me for a paranoid loop to find in my stats that "Lee Thompson of Chipping Norton" is being typed into search engines, somewhere out there on the internet.

Apparently, I'm enough of a somebody to someone for them to search for me, but not so well aquainted that they know how to spell my name.

Who could it be? What sort of irreversible impression has this blog formed? Will I ever feel safe again?

Category: Meta

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lay Down Your Burdens

How well that title applies, not only to Battlestar Galactica’s characters, but also its creators, here able to put two season's worth of festering interpersonal issues through a brief period of respite.

There were moments throughout season two where I thought that moving from 13 episodes to 20 had put a real strain on quality control. There were a couple of episodes that were not as strong as they ought to have been, and one that was utter shite.

I think the reason for the lack of focus is that the second half of the season was too heavily loaded with stories. Every single second and third tier character seemed to have their own crises demanding screentime, and the show wasn’t always very efficient at doling it out. There have been too many notes, as it were, and not enough time to play them all - hence the two part Resurrection Ship (which at least saved us from a clip show), important developments taking place off-screen, large time-spans between episodes, cut scenes playing in the previouslies, apparently dropped storylines, and extra long finale.

However, the last three weeks have been BSG at its best, and Friday's audacious final act reminded me exactly why I watch this show. Its creators are fearless. Sometimes they over-extend, but when they hit the mark, it is thrilling.

The direction taken at the end of Lay Down Your Burdens pt 2 was bold, economical, and absolutely necessary to close certain arcs, move characters out of the ruts the show had put them in (and dig them some new ones), and provide new opportunities for season three. It wasn’t an out-of-the-blue, jump the shark moment; the way was paved thoroughly and logically. In a sense it was almost inevitable. I haven’t been so thrilled by a development since Crichton got cloned. Maybe when The Wire opened its second season with a completely different cast, or Angel got the keys to Wolfram and Hart. Whatever, it’s a bravura move.

But it's pushed fans out of their safety zone, and god bless 'em, but they don't like it. Dicks. Any and all shows have a duty to keep bringing in new viewers. Battlestar Galactica has been developing a hell of a rep, and if it's going to have a chance of "breaking out," it has to be able to rest up and refresh, to offer a jumping on point for newbies. Despite all their whining, the "betrayed" fans will be tuning in come October, but hopefully so will viewers of The Sopranos, The Shield and The Wire, wanting to know what the fuss is about. And that’ll be a pretty major triumph for a remake of a tacky seventies sci-fi series.

Category: Movies and TV

Friday, March 10, 2006

Con is on, apparently

Why did no-one tell me the new series of Hustle started tonight?

I’ve missed half of it now. Torrent time tomorrow, I guess.

Category: Movies and TV

Monday, March 06, 2006

If you're frightened of dying you'll see devils tearing you apart. If you've made your peace, then they're angels freeing you from the world.

Utterly bereft at the thought of no new Life on Mars tonight. Luckily I have my second season collection of Between the Lines to keep me occupied, a cop drama that cheerfully endorses wanton immolation of Benson & Hedges.

So what's the long title about? Matthew Graham, one of the co-creators of LoM, answers viewers' questions at the BBC website. Amongst the juicy hints about the show's direction, he lets this drop:

Jacob's Ladder is a really scary film and funnily enough I am drawing inspiration from it for Series 2.


Sounds awesome. Only a year to go.

Category: Movies and TV

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Web-stuff

In case you somehow missed it, Danny has a good interview with Life on Mars co-creator Ashley Pharoah on his site.

Something Old, Nothing New is a great pop-culture blog, covering the gamut, from opera to What’s Opera, Doc?

I found a funny and pointless History of the Internet while exploring World’s site, looking for information about possible DVD releases of The Cops and Buried.

I insist, I absolutely insist, that Buried be released on DVD at the earliest opportunity, do you hear me?

Hello? Hello?

Damn.

Category: Computing and Web