Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday surprise

Andy pretty near tore his finger off playing football today. I tell you, that was a grisly injury; blood everywhere, very painful.

When I got home, had a shower, ate me tea, I cast about a bit for something to do. I could have gone out, read a book, picked up the guitar, but was just too restless to concentrate. In the end I settled for the old standby of channel hopping. Of course, digital integration now means that blindly punching the remote gives you almost as much chance of hitting a radio station as a TV channel, and I ended up listening, absolutely riveted, to Radio Three’s presentation of The Pitmen Painters, by Lee Hall (Billy Elliott).



In the 1930’s, a group of miners from Ashington started an adult education group, and after completing a course on evolution decided to tackle art appreciation, not knowing what art appreciation was. After fruitless attempts to explain art and art history with a slide projector, Durham University lecturer Robert Lyons, in exasperation, tells them to try it themselves. In doing so, he forces them to confront their own desires and disappointments by realising the only way they will ever understand art is to become artists.

What Lee Hall then does with this factual material is create a play, both moving and hilarious, that examines notions of artistry, ownership of art, privilege and overcoming the strictures of class expectations.

It’s a very fine play, and if you find yourselves with nothing to do in the next seven days, you can listen to it using the BBC’s iPlayer service.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let's Twist again

The BBC’s Oliver Twist ends tonight. Stripped over the last week, it may well have been a great bit of telly, or not; I really couldn’t say. I’ve read the book four times and seen twice as many adaptations, and just couldn’t be arsed with another one. I mean, Oliver bloomin’ Twist; it’s not exactly Shakespeare, is it?

Friday, December 21, 2007

A deep sigh of relief

Presumably coming at Macworld - Leopard's dumbest feature, refined:

TV: Best of the new

John Rogers says Life is the best new network show of the fall. I like it, but I don’t love it. Not even in my top three.

Currently rocking the Thomson satisfaction scale, in descending order, are:

Chuck – I wasn’t the pilot’s biggest fan, thinking that Reaper was more solid, and had better legs. Sketchy, unsympathetic characters and the obvious built-in obsolescence of the premise really turned me off. But whereas Reaper has given us the same episode every Tuesday, Chuck has developed into my most eagerly anticipated show of the week. Hot women, great action, unresolved sexual tension, and laugh out loud geek humour make this a winner. Plus, I’m a little bit gay for Captain Awesome. Who isn’t?

Pushing Daisies – alright, so it’s sweet enough to topple a diabetic. It’s also constantly inventive, snappy, and balances its heart-warming whimsy with often cruel cynicism and a vein of dark humour as black and bitter as the purest chocolate.

Journeyman – although sadly going no further, this was a great new take on the travelling angel genre, which, like Chuck, overcame a wobbly pilot and became a very rare thing indeed: a mature genre show. No angst ridden super-powered teenagers here, just a man trying to keep his life together while doing the bidding of a faceless, nameless agency. Pulled just as an interesting mythology began to develop. Shame.

As for best new cable show of the yearthat’s a no-brainer, innit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

More DVD news

‘Tis the season to be jolly, indeed.


A year and a half back, I wrote about the obsession and dedication of Craig Robins, the Stephen Moffat fan who petitioned the Beeb to grant him a licence to publish the DVD of Moffat’s lost 90’s sit-com Joking Apart.

The first season release was a true labour of love, and must have done well, because this landed in my inbox this afternoon:

Now what would you really like for Christmas this year? How about Joking Apart Series 2 on DVD? Sadly, Santa can't deliver because it won't be out in time but at least you'll be able to have it as soon as it's released on 17th March 2008.

It will be a two-disc set this time and the extras include commentaries on all episodes featuring Steven Moffat, Robert Bathurst, Fiona Gillies, Tracie Bennett, Paul Raffield, Andre Ptaszynski (producer), Bob Spiers (director) and Stacey Adair (Production Manager); the 1991 Joking Apart pilot episode (one of a series of pilots that were shown under the umbrella title of 'Comic Asides'); a complete set of scripts in pdf format; 'Joking Apart in the Studio' pdf article; plus a colourful companion booklet. Theoretically, we could just about have squeezed everything onto one very full disc but only at the expense of picture quality, so I opted for two discs instead, especially as a lot of work had been put into digitally restoring the episodes. They genuinely look far better now than they did when shown on TV in 1995. And the inclusion of the pilot will be particularly welcomed by all those of you who emailed me, asking for it.

The DVD is available to pre-order now on our new look website. Pre-orders will be despatched during the week preceding official release.


Season One was very,very funny, and with Moffat commentary, and scripts to boot, this is a package that’s really too good to miss.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Burned Vamp show comes to DVD

Those of you, ie everyone, who follow DMc’s blog, might also have been catching Blood Ties, the PI/Vampire show he worked on last year, that has been airing on Lifetime in the States, CityTV in Canada, and Living in the UK. It’s not the greatest show in the world (which, by the way, is back next month), but it is a fun chunk of supernatural action with a hot love triangle and mad goth wardrobe and so, I suppose, mission accomplished.

Lifetime split the season into two chunks, labelling the back half of the produced season one as season two. Who knows why these decisions get made; we can only watch from afar, shrug our shoulders and carry on.

Without Lifetime’s support, it doesn’t look as though Blood Ties will be getting a second (or third, depending on your point of view) season, and its final two episodes have been burnt off online. Streamed, no less. Yuck.

Of these last two eps, Denis says:

The script I wrote (that now won't show on TV in the US, I guess, what a drag) is one of my favorite pieces of writing I've ever done. A really cool story that was well-made and well cast. And Peter's season finale was a thing of beauty too.


Scarred overseas fans can take some solace, however, in the news that Contender Entertainment have announced the Region 2 DVD set of all 22 episodes, due to be released in January. No news on features, but here’s the pic:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Flint, no light

For a year, Latigo Flint has been seen only in nightmares. Vanished from the face of the world, the tales surrounding his disappearance grow taller with each passing day.

Some say he took to his horse and roams the trails of the big country, his mad-eyed and traumatised sweetheart barista at his side. Others, that his mostly reliable sidekick Kid Relish shot him in the eye over a sushi dish, and dragged his bier into brushfire. Poppies grow in their mingled ashes.

By far the most plausible explanation to these ears, is that he returned to the running grounds of the wolves that raised him, and hunts there still, under the moon, a bloody pelt bone-knitted to his torso.

I miss him, but a part of him remains with us, for his blog archives survive. If you’ve never read them, now is as good a time as any.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Want some Moore?

By now, most of you should have seen last night’s Galactica special - Razor. I saw it weeks ago because, of course, I am awesome. I thought it was terrific, answering several lingering questions, and opening up whole new avenues for the show to explore next year (if it ever gets the chance).

As you would expect, the episode comes with podcast on Sci-Fi’s site. Not, scotch and smokes in hand, a Ron Moore commentary - that’s being saved for the extended DVD release, but a four hour recording of the writers’ meeting in which the story was first pitched to the executive producer.

Set some time aside and have a listen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Two? Already?

Damn, I can’t watch this; it’s a nightmare.

Free book!

Still much missed from the pages of Edge, Scrivener fan and Kindle critic Stephen Poole has responded to Amazon’s nutty digi-book service by offering his own book, Trigger Happy: The Inner Life of Video Games as a free PDF on his blog.

In his own write:

Trigger Happy is a book about the aesthetics of videogames — what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics. It was first published in 2000; this is the revised edition with the Afterword written in 2001. It’s offered under a CC license, for a limited time only. I’m not sure how limited that time will be, so grab it while it’s hot.

I read the book about five years ago, and it totally transformed the way I look at video games. It really is as good a piece of games journalism as you’ll find, and you’d be a huge wally not to grab it while you can.

A complete archive of Poole’s Edge columns is also available at his site. Read, read, read.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm back, or am I? Obligatory monthly post

I am so rough this morning, you could strip us both down and use me as a loofah.

Now imagine Mick Hucknall whispering those words to you as you struggle to wake up.

Yep, that's how I feel today.

Last night went something like: work, pub - do not pass "home," drink, drink, other stuff, last orders, lost keys. As luck would have it, my brother was fortunately - or maybe habitually - also in the pub, so after traipsing back to his pad, a couple of spliffs and an hour or so of Halo 3, I slept in my clothes on his sofa.

My brother lives quite a way out of town, and it took me almost an hour to walk to work because he was too hungover to give me a lift.

On my way, I caused a car crash.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Who to hibernate

Doctor Who’s fifth season has been put on hold until 2010, while David Tennant plays Hamlet at the RSC.

Season Four will air next year, and 2009 will see three specials starring Tennant, penned by Russell T Davis.

BBC press release.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

August

August was undoubtedly the suckiest month ever, redeemed ever so slightly by a good friend’s wedding in Brighton. That was great.

Other than that, I broke my foot, spent two weeks at home on my own with no-one to talk to all day, and at the end of it all, was diagnosed with depression and prescribed pills that give me the shits.

And it wasn’t even sunny. Fucker!

Congrats to everyone who completed their Red Planet script. If I could have maintained a train of thought for more than ten minutes I’d have been there with you, brothers and sisters. Excuses, excuses, eh? Best of luck.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Apple and NBC call it a day

In the comments to TV on iTunes, Stephen Gallagher, taking the long view, wrote regarding paid-for television downloads:

The future's pretty much set. It's going to be one click, a deduction from your online credit account that's so small you don't think about it, and a download that's no different to an off-air recording.


I think we'll get there eventually, but not with the fucktards at NBC running the show.

News broke today that NBC were not willing to renew their contract with Apple, allowing the computer company to offer downloads of NBC's TV shows through iTunes, without renegotiating terms. Specifically, they wanted what Apple have so far denied every single one of its partners - the ability to determine pricing. Apple have always stuck to their guns in regards to pricing, even though it has sometimes cost them - as it did earlier this year when Universal Music threw their toys out of the pram and refused to resign.

NBC, perhaps thinking that they could bully Apple (who currently control 80% of the online channel) into letting them have their own way, must have been pretty surprised when a press release was later issued, point blank telling the greedy twat-weasels to go fuck themselves.

Apple® today announced that it will not be selling NBC television shows for the upcoming television season on its online iTunes® Store (www.itunes.com). The move follows NBC’s decision to not renew its agreement with iTunes after Apple declined to pay more than double the wholesale price for each NBC TV episode, which would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99. ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks, are signed up to sell TV shows from their upcoming season on iTunes at $1.99 per episode.


What an embarrasment for NBC. And what an entertaining spat.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The numbers are down

Mostly, anyway:



Check out the spend on originated output - down £200m in five years!

Clicking the image will take you to the television section Ofcom's annual Communications Market Report for 2007; several hundred pages of telecoms porn, and always interesting reading.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

TV on iTunes

Rather a surprise - Apple have finally, with no fanfare at all, begun adding TV shows to the UK’s iTunes store. Nothing from the Beeb, or ITV and C4; rather US content from Disney, ABC and Paramount Comedy.

This means the likes of Lost, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, South Park, Spongebob Squarepants and more - pretty much the same as the initial offerings when the video service was launched Stateside.

Prices are rather steeper than $1.99 however, with single episodes coming in at £1.89 a pop! That’s $3.80. Something about that feels a bit uncomfortable - must be Steve Jobs' knuckled fist up my bum.

Fortunately, season packs are available with hefty discounts. A full season of Lost will set you back £32.99, a tenner less than if one were to buy the individual episodes. Still more than a DVD, but the picture quality’s good and the convenience can’t be argued with.

Here’s to more content soon (what are the chances of simultaneous US\UK releases, do you think?)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Snooze

Well, this is boring. I spent nearly all of today napping on the sofa, more like an octogenarian than a strapping mumble-something. The temazepam must be finally having an effect. Yes, broken foot and insomnia. Although the sleeplessness came first. Exhaustion and lack of concentration may have played a part in the injury. Whatever next, eh? Or heretofore, as the case may be.

I don’t know. I’m confused.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crunch

I will be the first to admit, having never broken a bone before, that when I see footballers howl in agony and take eight weeks off when someone stands on their foot, my first thought tends to be something like: bloody great overpaid sissy prancing fairy-boys.

Well, if Beckham or Rooney were ever upset by this (and I suspect it may have put them slightly off-balance), I apologise. I apologise because I can attest that it flaming well hurts.

I have mentioned from time to time that I play a regular game of five-a-side with some buddies from the pub. We’ve been doing this for a year and a half, and although most of us are now pretty fit, we’re still crappy footballers. This can be rather dangerous.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of bruised shins and bloody noses resulting from wayward feet and high-speed collisions, but never anything that could invalid me out of the next game. Now, however, I can claim rightful brotherhood with the pantheon of footballing heroes by boasting that I have had broken the legendary 5th metatarsal of my right foot.

There I was, end of the first half, right on the edge of the penalty area, only the keeper to beat, ready to shoot, unable to miss when FUCK AH FUCK SHIT GOD DAMN DAMN SHIT AH I’m okay, I’m okay, play on, I’ll just go and run it under the tap for a bit.

Which I did, and then I came back and played the rest of the game, because I’m a testosterone charged, pain loving macho strong man freak, who worried that if he limped off, everyone would think him a bloody great sissy prancing fairy-boy.

Lunatic! Fool! Poltroon! That night I couldn’t sleep I was in so much pain; so first thing Monday morning, I put on three pair of socks, tied my laces really tight and hobbled all the way to the first aid unit at the hospital. Who sent me to my GP. At the other end of town. Who sent me back to the hospital, for an X-Ray. Which finally confirmed, after two hours limping around town, with the cold-sweats and ready to puke, that I had a broken foot and needed to go to the nearest A&E.

Thirteen miles away.

That poor radiologist. I could see she hated giving me the news, the entire weight of the PCT’s inadequacies weighing upon her. I felt sorry for her, but I killed her anyway. I mean, what would you have done?

She lies in peace now, entombed in her lead lined lab. I found myself a lift to Banbury, got myself checked out and cast by some very pretty young girls, and now have nothing to do but splay on the sofa with my foot on a pillow, trawling Facebook for old school friends and fielding calls from panicked and over-harried workmates.

And I can’t wait until I can play again.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

TV at Comic-con

Time to change the name, perhaps?

        •        Lucy Lawless to return to Battlestar Galactica for a three episode arc in S4
        •        Joss Whedon hopes to (finally) make Ripper, with Anthony Stewart Head, as 90 minute BBC film in 2008
        •        Kevin Smith to write and direct an episode of Heroes: Origin
        •        Bryan Fuller talks Pushing Daisies

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A woman is only a woman, but Mad Men is a Smoke

You may have seen this new show from ex-Sopranos man Matthew Weiner mentioned on one or two blogs lately. Michael Sullivan gave us the heads up some time ago, and DMc and Kay have weighed in recently with lavish praise.

Don't look at me to rock the boat. I loved it.



Set within the advertising world of 1960’s New York, Mad Men is a period piece so well done it could almost pass as a contemporary of Sweet Smell of Success and The Apartment. With less than a minute gone of the opening scene I was there - late night bar, whisky, Lucky Strikes; oh, and later, racism and sexism so ingrained that even expressed in the most blatant tones it barely musters a reaction. Difficult material for an actor to pull off.

The pilot drops us into this world just as Don Draper, mid-level executive at Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency, is preparing to face his worst work day ever. With younger rivals lining up to challenge his supremacy, and beginning to feel washed-up, Draper tries not to think about the meeting he has with his biggest client. Government has ruled that cigarette advertising can no longer promote the spurious health benefits of smoking, and Lucky Strike need a new approach to their campaign. Draper, he’s got nothing.

As this is a pilot episode, it has to be someone’s first day on the job, and here’s Peggy, Don’s new secretary. Peggy begins by resisting the lechery of the men who see the office as their playground, but then later listens to the advice of her female co-workers - who see snatching an executive as their ticket to the good life - to cozy up to them.

Just as we think we’re getting to know Don and Peggy, Weiner shows us something of each at the end of the show that makes us reconsider our perceptions. Nothing shocking or gratuitous; no-one gets whacked or anything. We’re just reminded that occasionally, people do unexpected things - sometimes because we think we know them better than we do, or because they think they know themselves better than they do. Presented with Freud’s idea that all human beings harbour a death wish, Salvatore - clearly a closeted homosexual - scoffs “people are living one way and secretly thinking the exact opposite? That’s ridiculous!” Actually, it appears to be the essence of Mad Men.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Into the sunset

Anyone interested in seeing how Tim Minear’s most recent ill-fated project may have continued may like to know that the final two episodes of Drive have been dumped by Fox onto their myspace page.

It’s only available in the USA, but I expect webrips to show up within the hour, a la the excellent Daybreak.

The final two shooting scripts of the season are also available at timminear.net, where you can also read scripts from The Inside, a show I thought would have got a lot better had it continued (and did, as the entire production run of 13 eps ran on ITV4). However, the opening episodes were boring, so it got what it deserved.

Scripts for Wonderfalls can be found here.

Firefly scripts are here.

Oh, and don’t miss Wonderfalls’ Bryan Fuller’s confectionary new delight, Pushing Daisies, coming soon. The pilot’s had all kinds of wonderful buzz, and the script was terrific.

Dexter: Season Two preview

Some of the old men of my tribe led me to a place where I could watch the first two episodes of Dexter’s second season, due to air in September.

I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone - which means, as Season One is currently airing in the UK, that there’s not much I can say at all.

I think it’s pretty safe to report though that Showtime’s serial killer thriller picks up five weeks after the events of season one’s finale, and I’m pleased to say is as dark and twisted as ever. Michael C Hall remains as compelling as he did throughout the first storyline, playing a monster with maybe more humanity than he’d admit to, retaining our sympathy even as he commits (or angsts about being unable to commit) atrocious deeds.

The main serial-killer storyline for the season looks like it’s going to hit very close to home for Debs and Dex, and Dexter’s relationship with Rita is primed to go to very strange places, as he makes a surprising admission to her in episode two.

Frankly, I’m really psyched for the rest of the season. Good times!

Monday, July 09, 2007

A fool and his money

I’m not going to the pub again. I popped down after yesterday’s woeful game of footie for one pint and a spot of post-game analysis/mutual self-recrimination and left some time after closing, thirty quid poorer.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Alternative Pitch Fever

Across the way on Write Here, Write Now, Lucy has been inviting people to post their log-lines and synopses (hence the post below). Now that all the entries are received, she has gathered them all together in one massive post for everyone to mock vote for. Some were quite obviously knocked off the wrist and shouldn’t be taken seriously, others need just a little more work to get there, and one or two are really quite good.

See what you think.

I'd rather go blind

News in from the BBC:

Catherine Tate is set to return to the TARDIS for the complete 13 week run of Series Four of Doctor Who.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Silly things to do

If you haven’t been listening to I’m Sorry I’m Haven’t A Clue, then you’re loco, ese. It is, as they say, made of win.

Luckily, because the BBC feel sorry for those of you who have yet to recognise this self-styled “antidote to panel games” is Great Britain’s crowning contribution to Western Civilization, they’ve given you a chance to catch up using the runner-up in Great Britain’s crowning contribution to Western Civilization poll, the BBC Radio Player.

Cherish Humphry Littleton’s timing for as long as we have him, and be prepared for your jaw to hit the floor when you hear what Samantha’s got planned for dinner tonight.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lucy made me do it

The Life You Make

When cranky spirits torment a boy for defacing their graves, they accidentally doom reality. One delinquent and his granddad’s ghost must help them fix it.

Will may be trouble, but he’s not a bad lad. He loves his nan; but wishes his baby step-brother would go back where he came from.

Unhappy at home, he falls in with a notorious gang of hoodies, and becomes a public menace.

As his nan’s health worsens and his mother neglects him, his acts of petty crime escalate, and he vandalises a cemetery.

An affronted group of spirits decide to teach him a lesson by showing him how the world would be better off with his troublemaking arse out of the picture.

What the spirits haven’t understood is that the universe doesn’t like people disappearing, and because of their actions the barrier that protects the living from mindless ghouls that prowl the borders of reality is failing. Now they need Will to save us all. But why should one miserable teenager care if the world ends tomorrow?


See Lucy’s Blog for explanation.

Bleeding fingers and broken DVD cases

My brother and I have a birthday tradition of buying each other films on DVD we really want to watch, and then viewing them before we wrap and gift them.

This year I bought him Kurosawa’s reimagining of King Lear, Ran (it’s okay, he doesn’t hang out here, I’m not spoiling the surprise). The film was magnificent: a fearfully oppressive retelling, mostly filmed on a wide open plain, in which every shot manages to be horribly claustrophobic. It’s a really unsettling film that does great justice to its source.

BUT, getting to the stage where I was able to watch it involved half an hour of self-mutilating contortions, battling with a DVD case that still had its red tag attached and was therefore locked tightly shut, beyond all human ken to open. Stupid HMV monkey.

Brute strength and a penknife eventually won the day, though I’m not sure I could give even my brother this as a present:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Terrible twos

June-August 2005: new blogs are springing up all over the shop, the scribosphere (coinage courtesy of Craig Mazin, ici, lest we forget) in chaotic, fractal bloom. Within this primordial gunk, a frightening future takes hold.

Ars Memoriae opens its doors on 27th June, 2005, with a eulogy, and just as swiftly closes them again. Later, it will return as The Light, It Hurts, a focussed, lean and single-minded screenwriting blog. Much later. Maybe tomorrow.

For two years I have wittered away, prevaricating, procrastinating, and pettifogging, and done so in sterling company. To all my readers, especially those of you kind enough to leave me comments, buy me drinks and put me up, my thanks, although why did you have to go and encourage me? If you’d ignored me, I’d have gone away and done something more useful.

So, two more years? Anyone else up for that? Let’s keep the party going.

The way we were:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Beside the seaside

Hey-ho, I'm off to Brighton for the weekend. I'll be taking my anti-rash cream because I'm spending the next two and half days rubbing up against bearded hippies at the Co-operatives' Congress. As it's June, and I'm heading down to the coast, I have also packed for hurricanes, gales, earthquakes, eruptions and the Rapture.

See you on Monday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

To steal a title from Ken Levine

If The Sopranos were on a major network:

New blogs

Well, two new ones and a third that’s been around for months, but remained so far under the radar it’s currently ranked 1,578,274th place with Technorati. Which is a shame, because it’s fab. So, in descending order of seniority (which means the newest one goes first, I think. Right?):

What It’s Like - Lisa Klink, writer for Painkiller Jane, Missing, Roswell, ST: Voyager, the upcoming Flash Gordon and bounteous others blogs about notes, typecasting, the room, agents and more, in order to pump yet more high grade advice into these junkie veins. Thanks to Maggie for this fix.

Eventually we’re going to have to stop taking advice and just do something.

Anyone writing a pilot will find lots to ponder in Running WIth My Eyes Closed by Jill Golick, a blog all about, er, pilots, damn it. This is a real “nuts and bolts” blog. Read it if you want to know how todays scripts are being put together. That one came from Denis.

My pick of the bunch though, has to be Seriocity. Kay Reindl (Millenium, Dead Zone), who hates Heroes, likes The Veils and mocks her comment section, gives us the lowdown on staffing season, writing pilots, Hollywood hacks, and TV critics who hate TV. She writes about three posts a month. They’re usually quite long. And ranty. So ranty. I like.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fuck, that hurts

Playing football tonight, I felt the familiar friction burn that signals the stretch and tear of a new blister. Post-game, in the changing room, I noticed this one was something special. I have, quite simply, flayed my big toe. An area of toe a little larger than a fifty pence piece no longer has any skin on it at all, and is all raw meat and exposed nerves. It’s really really painful.

UPDATE - news from the "got off lightly" desk: one of the opposing players actually broke his foot yesterday. Does this sound like a friendly five-a-side kickabout to you? Or more like a game of Jugger?

Utopia

Do I even need to say anything? Really? Come on, I know you felt it too.

Fucking masterful.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Human on the inside

Like I've said, I’m not too cut up about Veronica Mars’ demise. Really, I’m over it. Done. What does still tick me off though, nine years later, is that Cupid was cancelled. Damn them, how could they?

Rob Thomas’ Olympian TV Rom-Com starred a hyperactive, phenomenal Jeremy Piven as “Trevor Hale,” a psychiatric patient who claimed to be the Greek God of Love, exiled to Earth until he could match 100 couples. Show!Killer! (to borrow the lingo) Paula Marshall played Dr Claire Allen, his psychiatrist, and relationship councillor.

Trevor believes in animal attraction, and lust at first sight. Claire runs a singles group and advises her sad sack attendees and hangers-on to write compatibility lists and wait for Mr/Miss Right.

Wacky high-jinks ensue. The show skillfully hedged it’s bets on whether Trevor was deity or ding-bat, was a pure joy, not watched, and quickly cancelled. It’s never been released on DVD and most likely never will be. Rob Thomas himself has had to buy pirated copies from E-Bay. Me, I got ‘em for free using Azureus, but each to his own.

Tonight I felt like wallowing for a while, and dug out my ancient copies, digitised from some anonymous viewer’s VHS. Whoever you were, I salute you. The best part of a decade, low resolution, and bad tracking cannot sour Cupid’s blend of quickfire cynical wit and sweet, romantic storylines. That the two leads have a chemistry you could taste 20 feet from your TV (raspberry and pistachio) only makes the experience richer. If you never got the chance to see this, and one day have the opportunity, don’t pass it up. It could be love.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"One thing you can never say...that you haven't been told."

First thought, after that cut to black: T got iced.

Second thought, while taking a slash: way too obvious.

Third thought, watching again: Chase couldn’t have visualised his condemnation of this fucking poisonous family any better, or come up with a sentence more cruel, if he’d had another eight years.

That was one cold finale. Right now, Tony Soprano is simultaneously both dead and alive; because the episode went to black when it did, he always will be.

That goddamn cat.

WWDC

Today is the day and this is the hour. Steve Jobs has just come on stage in San Francisco, and for the next hour and a half will be presenting all the goodies we can expect from 10.5 in October.

Keep up with the Leopard announcements, and much more, here.

A BIT LATER - Guess which new feature this is promoting (from MacRumors' live coverage):

Now Phil [Schiller] puts his mouth on the face of Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) - sticks his tongue out, and the crowd loves it


EVEN LATER - Sadly, the commentary was the best part of the presentation. Later on, even the Safari 3 Beta would suck.

Considered opinion: Lame

La-la-la, I'm not listening

Don't nobody mention The Sopranos 'round me today until after eight tonight. I'm staying away from the web 'till then.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nerd Alert

NetNewsWire and Camino, probably the most used apps on my laptop, both had huge upgrades this week - Camino gets a raft of new features, and NNW a whole new look. Both have been available as previews for several months, but now they're official it's time to take a closer look.

Over the years, I had gotten used to Camino as the browser that offered much and delivered little. The prospect of a browser that truly integrated with the OS was like the offer of a branch to a drowning man in the early days of OSX, when we all had IE5 ties to our ankles. But due to members of its tiny development team continually being snatched away to work on rival products, Camino (nee Chimera) took time to grow. Early releases were fast, but lacking in features, and for a long time it was more a proof of concept than a useful application.

Fits and starts would better describe its progress than leaps and bounds. It was only last year, in the nightly preview builds, that it's abilities began to catch up with its ambitions, and I've been happily using pre-release versions since October.

Today it stands as the best browser on the platform -- if you've been using Safari or Firefox on a Mac, then for your computer's sake, take a look at Camino. Like Safari, it makes use of many of OSX's system wide features, such as the built-in dictionary, Keychain, Address Book and Bonjour, but also includes some of the big ticket items from Firefox, such as session saving and type ahead find. It has the best bookmark management of all the browsers I've tried, and its ad-blocking is second to none. Camino has grown up to be more useful than Safari, and prettier than Firefox, and you should definitely try it out.



Like Safari and Firefox, Camino can also detect RSS feeds, but unlike its rivals, has no way of displaying them. Instead it hands off the detected feed to a nominated desktop reader, such as Vienna, NewsFire or NetNewsWire. That's fine by me, as I find Firefox's live bookmarks and Safari's RSS to be severely limited.

I don't know about you, but I - like, I suspect, most bloggers - have a heck of a lot of feeds that I read most days, and need some way of keeping them tidy. NetNewsWire has been my reader of choice for years. I've tried the shiny others, but every time I've come slinking back to Brent Simmons’ masterpiece, begging forgiveness and wondering what I was thinking.

When version three was released this week, with a huge interface overhaul, I grabbed it. On starting it up, I was immediately worried that something had gone horribly wrong, because contra to reports of it being much faster than the previous version, it slowed my system to a crawl. What I should have realised was that indexing 50,000 news items is hardly a walk in the park for Spotlight. Yep, Spotlight can now search for news items and open them in NNW.

Once finished with the indexing, the bloody thing ran like a greased hare. NetNewsWire 3 is fast. Among it's new features are:

        •        Growl notifications when feeds update
        •        support for Microformats, allowing you to add events to iCal
        •        iPhoto integration that lets you send images from feeds straight to your library
        •        a small one, but new subscriptions can be placed directly into a group
        •        eye candy like "Cover Art," vertical tabs with thumbnails, and a nice full-screen mode.



All in all, an excellent update of an already essential app.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Blue Mars

Finally forced myself to sit down and watch the last two episodes of Veronica Mars - most likely the final episodes of the series. I wish I could say I’d been looking forward to them, but I‘d been disappointed in Season Three as a whole. The two major arcs of the campus rapist and murdered Dean simply didn’t hold my interest, and the writing felt tired; sometimes forced, other times rushed.

Following the lengthy two month hiatus, I hadn’t planned to come back for the final five episodes at all, but for the sake of completion, fired up Weevils Wobble But They Don’t Go Down, and quickly followed it up with The Bitch is Back. They were good. Really good. A Trip to the Dentist good.

But - most likely - they came too late into a struggling season to save the show. Though a fourth season of Veronica Mars as we know it is almost certainly bound not to happen, there is as yet no word on whether that whore Rob Thomas will be able to bring back Veronica, retooled as an FBI cadet. Here’s hoping that Thomas finds some way to continue Veronica’s story, because these most recent episodes have proved beyond doubt that there is still life in Mars.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lordy, not another milestone

This is my 300th post. What a momentous day! Break out the Jura, I feel the need of a wee snifter.

Hello, 212.84.127.101

You’re from Liverpool, your ISP is NDO, and you came here searching for “Jekyll trailer on BBC1.“

And you are our 30,000th visitor.

The suspense is killing me

Current visitor count stands at 29,999. Whoever you are, reading this right now, HIT REFRESH. You won’t win anything. I probably won’t even say thanks.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Canadians

You guys. You complain a lot about the state of your TV industry, and for all I know it may be as big a shambles as you make it out to be. Nevertheless, I can slouch here with my hand more or less where I remember my heart to be and swear to you that we have aired nothing of the calibre of Durham County, Intelligence, or Slings and Arrows in the last twelve months.

That’s some first rate work, right there. God knows what you guys could do if you got your shit together.

For the unaware, Durham County, the most recent of the above, is a dark and twisted sado-sexual thriller taking place in a godforsaken bleached landscape. The constant and subliminal thrum of a thousand power lines permeates the characters’ lives; keeping them up at night, sending them into hallucinatory reveries, and from there into a frenzy of sexual paranoia and violence. It’s Midsomer Murders gone horribly, horribly wrong, and it’s magnificent.

Luckily, all the talk is already of a second season. This is great news. There is only one episode left of the current run, and it looks as though Season Two can only open with all the characters driven to madness, despair and rage. Just the way I like it. Suffer, little puppets; suffer and burn!

Also to be renewed is Intelligence, the second season of which is due to start in October. Here’s a little bit of Chris Haddock showing us one of his big boards (with credit to Diane):

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In addition...

One thing you might have noticed about yesterday’s listing of new shows (and, Robin, you’ve convinced me. I’ll give 4400 another go) : apart from Meadowlands, which is a Channel Four/Showtime co-production, they are all American. Where’s the homegrown love? English Dave has written a lot lately, and anecdotally, about how fewer and fewer people seem to be seeking out UK telly to watch. Everyone wants House and CSI, no-one’s interested in Casualty and Holby Blue.

Which is understandable, really. My experience matches English Dave’s, in that very few of my peers are interested in British shows. They all use Bittorrent and buy DVD’s, so they’ve got nothing against the format. They just think the UK programmes and the delivery suck.

Ofcom release a communications market report each summer, and one of the salient facts from last year’s was:

There is...evidence of a significant difference in communications usage patterns between young adults and the general population: for example, 16-24 year olds spend on average 21 minutes more time online per week, send 42 more SMS text messages, but spend over seven hours less time watching television. (My emphasis).


From another section:

At the same time, this age group has embraced online communication activities – our research shows that 70% of internet users aged 16-24 have used social networking websites (compared to 41% of the general population), with over half doing so on a weekly basis. They are also much more likely to contribute content: 37% of 18-24 year olds have posted material online (compared to 14% across all age groups), while close to one in five have their own website or blog (section 3.4.17 discusses this in greater detail).

The drop in listening and viewing hours of young adults is probably also partly explained by their higher ownership of most new technologies than the population as a whole. For example, over half own a games console and / or an MP3 player and they also appear to have a higher propensity to consume in an innovative manner; 38% of young adults view TV over their PCs, compared to only 24% of all individuals (Figure 1.29).


There are more frightening figures on this page.

Anyway, I initially wanted to write about a completely different frightening figure and got completely sidetracked, so forgive me for the awkward segue back to the point.



No British shows in my list, but there is one at least I will be watching. Starting June 16 - Jekyll. This is Stephen Moffat’s modern “sequel” to R.L. Stevenson’s classic chiller, starring James Nesbitt (of the ludicrously inconsistent Murphy’s Law), Gina Bellman (from Moffat’s Coupling), Denis Lawson (Bleak House) and Michelle Ryan (soon to be seen leaping across rainy LA/Vancouver rooftops as The Bionic Woman). With Moffat in control I expect nothing less than sheer brilliance - certainly a better showing than January’s Dracula. A preview is viewable here, brief behind the scenes piece here. You’ll need Realplayer for both.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Summer premieres

So the US networks' September-June season is done. In my absence from the blog we’ve witnessed the long goodbye of Veronica Mars, and the 200mph departure of Drive. In a week, The Sopranos’ll go out on a high note at HBO, and you might be wondering just what you’ll be watching next.

Well, there’s a whole slew of shows premiering in the coming weeks: a couple of new kids on the block, some old and dear friends, and a couple of other poor sad specimens I don’t have the heart to break it off with.

As they come, then:

June 10 - John From Cincinnati (HBO)
        the show with more to prove than most. Who wouldn’t rather have a new season of Deadwood, hmmm? But it’s Milch, so you can bet I’ll be right there.

June 11 - Big Love (HBO)
        I really liked what I saw of Big Love’s first season, but for some reason I never actually finished it.

June 11 - Kyle XY (ABC Family)
        there aren't many family dramas whose lead pisses himself, gets inappropriate boners and sleeps in a bath, so when one comes along, it's worth watching.

June 13 - Rescue Me (FX)
        fourth season. Why have I not even watched 1-3 yet? They’re sitting here on DVD, so what exactly is putting me off?

June 17 - Dead Zone (USA)
        I bailed during season four, and didn't go back for five, as they were in fact the same production block, with many of the season five episodes having been shot before a lot of the season four ones, which is not quite the sort of prognostication this show is known for. USA are promising a big shakeup, so I'll check this out, I think.

June 17 - The 4400 (USA)
        Dropped like a hot potato last year (what’s going on, USA?). It was boring. Really. Might look in on the premier if - nah, forget it, we’re through, 4400! Take that long, mopey face somewhere else, girlfriend.

June 17 - Meadowlands (Showtime)
        Co-pro between our own Channel Four, and pretender to HBO’s crown Showtime. I haven't seen any promos for this on C4 yet, but then I can't remember the last time I watched anything on actual telly. Showtime don't let you into their site if you're not in the US, so all my info is from Wikipedia:

Meadowlands is a television drama series which focuses on a family trying to escape its past while confronting an even more uncertain future. The series picks up as Danny (David Morrissey) and Evelyn Brogan (Lucy Cohu) along with their two teenage kids enter a witness protection program and are moved to a bucolic neighborhood, Meadowlands, to begin a new life. Picturesque and crime-free, Meadowlands appears to be a suburban paradise where the Brogan family can begin to start a new life. But they soon realize that it's not so easy to escape the past and their safe haven becomes a world of paranoia and psychological intrigue with surprises around every corner.


I think I saw Broadcast give this a pretty firm nod a couple of weeks ago, as well. Sounds like it’s worth checking out.

UPDATE - Apparently Meadowlands will be known as Cape Wrath over here, and will be showing on Four from July.

All this, and I still need to make time for season two of Rome, The Riches, and Mushishi (dudes, I have been in anime overload lately - any of you ever seen Noein? Hot damn! If Alan Garner were Japanese and read X-Men, this would be the result).

Sunday, June 03, 2007

And so it continues

First trailer for the D2DVD Babylon 5 - The Lost Tales. Here’s hoping it’s more like the original series than much of what came after. I’d like to see this do well.



I sounded rather cool and objective above, didn’t it? I’m actually quite geekily excited! Yay!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Family of Blood

Doubtless Good Dog would disagree, but tonight’s episode of Doctor Who, along with last week’s lead-in, totally justified my license fee.

David Tennant’s turn as 1913 schoolmaster John Smith, his innocence shredded by the realisation of who he really was, and had to become once more:

I'm John Smith! That's all I want to be! John Smith. With his life. And his job... And his love. Why can't I be John Smith? Isn't he a good man? Why can't I stay?


was heartbreaking. And his final scene with equally capable Jessica Hynes turned me into mush.

And let’s not even go anywhere near the horror of his retribution...a lot of the Doctor’s actions in this story really were quite questionable, even if they sprung from an initial desire to be merciful.

Awesome on every level. A fantastic adaptation (the original novel is available to download here, along with Cornell’s notes on turning it into a TV story). A great character study. Brilliant baddies (wasn’t Will Scarlett terrific?). Deserving of a Hugo. Give this show to Paul Cornell when Russell Davis leaves.

At long loooong last

Three years after the release of Season Two on DVD, Sony finally get around around to putting The Shield’s third season onto WH Smiths’ shelves.

One of my all time favourites, The Shield has never had a weak season, and although the third is perhaps not the best when viewed on its own, pretty much everything in successive seasons built on elements introduced here (although ultimately, everything comes back to Terry). This is where we first meet Mara, cat strangling Dutchboy, and where the seeds of Lem’s eventual destruction are sown. And of course, who can forget Acevada’s grim sexual assault, the repercussions of which are still playing out in the latest, sixth, season?

The set comes with all the special features of the Region 1 release, which means plenty of great commentaries, but also the acclaimed documentary “Breaking 315,” an eighty minute masterpiece taking us into the heart of the writers’ room as they break each of the six stories featured in this episode, and which also takes us into casting sessions, on set, and into the editing room. Highly educational viewing.

Like the previous Region 2 releases, the episodes are presented in widescreen, which is very strange to go back to after watching recent, downloaded, episodes in 1.33:1. The full-screen ratio is showrunner Shawn Ryan’s preferred, as it was Joss Whedon’s in the case of Buffy, and yet the studio have gone their own way here, as Fox did with the Buffy sets (additionally, both shows aired in widescreen when shown on UK telly). I haven’t seen enough of this set yet to know if the wider picture results in abominations like this, from Buffy’s fourth season episode This Year’s Girl:



Yes, that is the camera operator you can see on the far left, for heavens’ sake. If the frame remains free from such atrocities, I’m happy to watch The Shield (and Buffy, on the whole) in widescreen, although I appreciate Ryan and Whedon’s intentions in framing their shows the way they do, and believe those intentions should be honoured. In this case, I’ll happily take what I’m given for the opportunity to watch this fantastic show again, for the first time in three years.

A great release, a long time coming. And as if to make amends for dragging their feet for so long, Sony will be releasing Season Four on the 2nd July, the UK airing of which was the subject of the eighth post in this blog, way back in July 2005, 284 posts ago.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Great timing

And hot on the heels of James' mega announcement comes this, from shameless red-strapper, The Sun:

HIT show Doctor Who will be EXTERMINATED next year — after the fourth series.

Boss Russell T. Davies has decided to axe the BBC1 sci-fi drama and concentrate on other projects.

He and senior staff have hatched a plot to hand in a group resignation in summer 2008.


This comes mere days after their derided report that Freema Agyeman would get the boot at the end of the current season. As if a show that pulls in eight million viewers every week would disappear because its show-runner is a bit fed-up.

However, Media Guardian have picked this up and run with it, responsibly, with the sharp bits pointing down.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm a creep...

So I’ve been slack, okay? It happens.

Anyway, I’m just popping in for a moment to say holy hell and offer congratulations to all-round bloody good bloke and first of the UK scribeosphereansophonistalists, James Moran, who’s only gone and got himself a job writing Doctor Who.

Brilliant!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

50 Years Ago Today

The classic April Fools':



Many people are often puzzled by the fact that spaghetti is produced at such uniform length, but this is the result of many years of patient endeavour by plant breeders, who succeeded in producing the perfect spaghetti.


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sweet suite

The next best thing to a new settee is an old settee with a new cover. Thanks to my dad’s mad upholstery skills, that’s exactly what I had tonight to enjoy Martha Jones upon.

As it were.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I love TV

In all my long years of watching television, I have been variously wowed, cowed, surprised, taken for a ride, impressed, depressed, strung out, wrung out, ridden hard and put away wet (figuratively speaking) and occasionally humbled.

Hours and hours. Cumulative months of tube-gazing, and I have never reacted to an hour of television the way I was hit by Battlestar Galactica’s finale. Cheesy? Manipulative? Out of left-field? Maybe. Jaw-dropping? Indubitably.

I look at all those folks up in arms, crying about how the show’s jumped the shark, is making it up as it goes along etc, etc, and I think: dudes, what you want, TV’s never gonna give you.

It makes me sad.

And then I go and watch it again and think: fuck, who does that? And I’m happy again.

2008? Fuck! And soon...the finale of Friday Night Lights. The end of Life on Mars. Ah me, at least I still have Bleach.

Bleach? What’s that? you ask. Go and find out for yourself, I say. You’ll thank me for it later.

And of course, all new Sopranos and Shield. Happy happy happy.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Salon and on

Two really good interviews in ad-mad Salon today.

First up is a chat with Ron Moore where he discusses some of the synchronicities between BSG and the real world, the Pegasus TV movie, serialisation, ratings, and looks back on some of the successes and failures of season three.

Next up is this great Q&A with Jonathan Letham, who last week offered the option to his latest novel for free, to the film maker with the best proposal. He says some fascinating things about intellectual property, creators’ rights, and how works of art should really be considered gifts to culture and communal property.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ten years ago today

I have no memory of writing this:

Today is a fine sunshine day. Got up at 9.00 sun a-shine, had croissants and fine coffee for breakfast. Read the paper, everyone in the world is getting on famously and we have all signed an international peace treaty and disarmed all those nasty nuclear weapons. Dissertation is going swimmingly, only 100 words to go. Handing in my graphic novel essay today - glad I got the boys at Vertigo to check through it - I’m sure those original illustrations from “Crusaders” will go down a treat with old Dawson. Looking forward to the party at Piccadilly Hotel tonight - my tux is all pressed and ready. Nice of those chaps at Glenfiddich to send down a crate of their finest. Must dash - have to pack for trip to New York on Saturday. More later. Cheerio. (p.s. isn’t life grand!)


It’s not even my handwriting.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mercurio on adaptations

Jed Mercurio (creator of Bodies) talks about adapting literary properties to the small screen:

Cynics argue that drama adaptations for television demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm for original material or, worse, a lack of quality in original scripts. I disagree with both propositions. Commissioners crave original drama, and many (if not most) writers prefer to create their own material, and most (if not all) of them feel more attached to their original script than an adaptation. But marketing original drama isn't easy. I've created four original series so far, and every single one felt more of a challenge to promote than to write. The audience doesn't know the story or the characters. That's hard to explain in a trailer or a billboard poster.


Tonys Grounds and Marchant, Stephen Moffat, Russell T Davies, Darren Star, Stephen Bocho and Simon Nye chip in.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Every time I think I'm out...

This keyboard feels funny. I think the old QWERTY fellows are in a bit of a huff with me for not using them for some time. Anyway, I’m back because in the comments of my last, decaying post, Good Dog tagged me with a slow meme that’s been doing the rounds for a while. It’s finally got around to my corner of the blogging universe. Here in the blog at the end of the street, we serve hard liquor for men who want to get drunk fast.

Here are five secrets from my shameful past:

• I have stolen from just about every employer I’ve worked for, except my first, who sacked me for gross mismanagement.

• On a cross-channel ferry, I had a man thrown in the brig for trying to swindle the duty-free, then kept his cigarettes.

• I helped get my RE teacher pregnant, by getting her wasted at an aftershow party on the first weed she’d smoked in years. She banged our school technician, and nine months later...

• I got into a bit of a tussle at Glastonbury one year. When I got back I had to play Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma in front of a bunch of primary school kids, with a Victorian nightie, night-cap and a huge bruised and swollen jaw.

• The Met set up surveillance in my front room to scope out a local dealer. I had very little time to give my own pusherman the heads-up before he showed up for his weekly drop. Another time, the Man almost crashed a chopper in my back garden trying to chase some desperate toerag across half of South London.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stink

Go on, have a whiff.

I should have a shower, yes? That was a hell of a game and I’m in a really skanky mess. But it involves movement and I just cannot be arsed. Maybe on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

So much pain

Not from skiing, oh no.

I got back at around 4, tired but well, and then went out to play footie at 7.

Big mistake

I’ve tried deadening the pain with London Pride but no joy.

It’s good to be back. It just hurts.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cheerio

I'm away for a ski.

If I don't break my legs or get trapped under avalanche, I'll be back in a week.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

No cars

Can I just be the first in the UK to remark how incredibly, naturally quiet it is this morning (alright, maybe not if you live in London. Everywhere else is lovely).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Headphones

I bought some new headphones. The kind you stick right in your ear, like you used to do with Smarties before your mum gave you a good hiding after the third time, fed up of holding your head over a naked flame again until the chocolate ran out.

Anyway, they’re supposed to give unrivaled hi-fidelity stereo sound reproduction straight to the ear-drum, or something. Do they? Do they fuck. I push ‘em in, good and tight, and all I can hear is the crashing sound of oceans of blood pounding away in my head. Everything sounds like it’s being piped up through a barrel of mustard. It’s that bad you’d think The Be Good Tanyas were a bunch of transgendered cab drivers.

I want my money back, only the damn things are now too waxy to return.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Doctor Who and the Holy Grail

I found this via BoingBoing, and it made me laugh. Scenes from Dalek with dialogue from Monty Python and the Holy Grail dubbed over them.

ROSE: They’re all dead because of you!
DALEK: Ah yes, It’z verra nice.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Spy vs Spy

I’m still getting over the rather magnificent season finale of CBC’s Intelligence, another example of why thirteen hours is the optimal length for a television season. Really, I shouldn’t have watched it at all, but there was this geezer in the pub, right, and honest, guv’nor ‘e said it were the real deal. Seriously, I can’t help wondering if all this downloading is going to get me into trouble some day. My ISP is a bit cross, but my ISP isn’t the boss of me*.

After the unbagged fertilizer hit the fan at the end of episode twelve, I went into this finale wondering how in the hell Chris Haddock was going to tie everything up. The answer is - he didn’t! The little tease.

For those not in the know (and that should be very few of you - those in the UK with greater torrenting qualms than me ought to be watching Intelligence on FTN, in which case - uh-oh - SPOILERS), Intelligence is about the alternating fortunes of Mary Spalding (Klea Scott), director of the Vancouver Organised Crimes Unit, and Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracy), a powerful dope dealer who becomes Mary’s star informant. Both have people working against them from without and within their respective camps, and Intelligence is willing to ask a lot from its viewers, who need to keep close tabs on who’s who, and where their allegiances lie at any given moment. Some characters, like Matt Frewer’s long-time intelligence playa and “Nasty Bastard,” Ted Altman, are playing so many angles they end up grossly contorted by their efforts to keep an eye on them all.

To summarise:

Ted’s been gunning for Mary’s job all season, but his efforts to undermine her indirectly revealed a CIA mole within the highest echelon’s of Canada’s intelligence community, possibly one of many. Jimmy’s had to flee Canada following a threat to expose him, and also because things are starting to go waay south between his organisation and the Disciples, a biker gang. He’s run on down to Seattle with his estranged psycho wife and daughter and is using the opportunity to collect some owed cash from his U.S distributor, unaware that he’s just been ripped off to the tune of fifty million by his banker, money that was earmarked for the purchase of a bank in the Bahamas, the purchase of which part of his endgame to be totally legit in five years time. Sadly, he’s walked straight into a sting orchestrated by loose cannon Ted and a D.E.A agent who may or may not be rogue and involved in shady international arms deals, who intends to shoot Jimmy dead. Ted is very uneasy about his last point, but at this stage he’s pissed on his chips and daren’t complain.

After a last, emotional call to his wife and daughter, Jimmy gets ready to make his last stand - with a useless, decommisioned firearm.

Fade to black.

Pretty basic stuff, huh? And you know, when the show started I thought “this is okay, but a little slow.” I went into it expecting it to be hyperkinetic, like Spooks or 24, but it’s way more deliberate than that, more akin to The Wire. Haddock lets plots grow until they threaten to tear apart from internal stress, doing an amazing job of parcelling out only what we need to know as we need to know it, making us feel like evesdroppers while manipulating context like a true spymaster. We can only watch all the little duckies getting into row, Haddock biding his time until he can pull the trigger, as he did at the end of the penultimate episode.

The bullet won’t hit until next season.



*Actually it is, true life fact fans.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

January in review

The first month of 2007 / 2K7 / 2Bond ended with the triumphant expansion of The Light, It Hurts into a triple columned template. Maybe it’ll stay that way, maybe it won’t. Everything flows.

A brief update on January’s other successes as we lead into February:

• I last smoked on New Year’s Eve.
• I’ve moved house.
• A ski-trip has been arranged.
• I’m at the gym three times a week. If anyone’s interested I’m starting to look pretty good naked. I don’t exercise in the nude.
• My TV license has been renewed. The Pug taxed and MOT’d. There are no outstanding bills.
• Got the blog going again. More posts this month than the last three combined, although admittedly, there's been a lot of old bollocks. I'm hoping it will cohere eventually.
• I’ve started a new script. I can’t currently evaluate myself as a writer, as the only fitting adjective is “lazy.” If I finish this year with my four bottles of champagne, I will be proud to call myself “shite.” By the end of 2008 I will be merely bad, and as 2009 rolls on, I may start showing some promise. We’ll see.
• I’ve swapped my glasses for contact lenses. This is something I do occasionally. It’s always a strange experience to be able to feel one’s own face.

All in all, not a bad month. Lots done, though I still feel like I’ve forgotten something. I think that’s symptomatic of a general absent-mindedness, to be honest. I keep putting my trousers on backwards, and have become paranoid about locking myself out. At least I won’t keep losing my glasses any more, but I will forget to take my contacts out at bedtime.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

John Wagner talks about Battle Picture Weekly

A rather neat little follow up to the Hook Jaw solicitation, this. David Bishop interviewed the mighty John Wager in 2003 about his part in the launch of Battle - which incorporated Action in 1977, and debuted Charley's War in 1979. This is the first part of his transcript.



David's history of 2000AD, Thrill Power Overload is due for release next month.

UPDATE: ohhh, part two.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Coming soon...



From Amazon:
From the pages of the million sales-per-month British weekly Action comic from the 70s comes the first collected edition of the man-eating great white shark, Hook Jaw! Eventually banned for its graphic violence after a media outcry, this forerunner of 2000 AD sees blood-n-guts and limbs-a-flying mix with environmental issues.

This collection comprises the two pre- ban storylines: "The Oil Rig" — where Hook Jaw unwittingly becomes an eco-terrorist, as he eats his way through the staff of a greed-obsessed oil magnet; "Paradise Island" — at first glance, an idyllic island for the wealthy but at what cost to the indigenous shark-worshippers?

The stories were written by Pat Mills (2000AD, Charley's War, Slaine, Marshall Law etc etc) and Ken Armstrong (Flesh, Dan Dare and other uncredited stories). The art is largely by the wonderful Ramon Sola (Action, 2000AD, Battle etc) and another unnamed artist. Hook Jaw was an attempt to cash-in on the success of Jaws, however, the horrific nature and young audience of Action weekly led to prohibition campaigns by the Evening Standard, the Sun and the BBC.


I remember reading this round at my nan's when I were a nipper. Nasty, gory stuff. Pat Mills in overdrive!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Life on Mars teaser

Found via Barbelith, a short viral teaser for the new season of our favourite time travelling cop show:



This is part of a campaign by Red Bee Media. More about the campaign here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Make your own Star Wars titles

Whisky Galore!


"It's okay, I guess, but no chest of dubloons."

In my dreams, somewhere on Branscombe beach, a ubiquitously bobble-hatted treasure hunter continues to comb the ground with a metal detector, oblivious to the sea’s most recent bounty of BMWs, wine barrels, laptops and nappies (oh wait, they were there already). Unperturbed by this latest strain of Clondyke fever he calmly ignores the looters and their tractors in his search for historically relevant old kettles. God bless you, noble sir, may these scavenging hyenas soon recall your most humble lesson - it's the search that enlightens, not the score.

Now, did anyone see any grog wash up?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mark Pilgrim vents Dave Sim levels of crazy at full screen text editors

I guess the part I don’t understand is the target audience. Who is so serious about writing that they need a full-screen editor, but so unserious that they don’t have a favorite editor already?


Eh?

This is an amusing rant with some even more amusing comments, that I’m linking to because of my tip of the hat to Scrivener at the weekend. I love writing in full screen. I was envious of it in Ulysses, glad when it came to Copywrite, and it was the killer feature in MacJournal 3 that persuaded me to pay for the upgrade.

In fact, MacJournal’s implementation is my favourite of the bunch. So sparse, so old school, that big flashing cursor and bright green text just scream “write with us” at me. It’s perfect; I write more when I use it.

Here’s the basic problem: you’re writing a text editor. Stop doing that. It’s 2007. Saying to yourself “I’m gonna build my own text editor” is as silly as saying “I’m gonna build my own build system” or “I’m gonna build my own amusement park.”


Oh, I’ve read that about twenty times today. I can’t stop chuckling when I think about it.

Sending out your ideas

If you want to avoid getting pissed off and start getting results you need to have a strategy for approaching busy professionals.


Great guest post on Robin Kelly's blog from Adrian Mead, about how to get your script read, and what to have ready should anyone actually like it.

Why is Dix gay?

You can find out the answer to this, and so much more, in part two of Will Dixon's e-mail interview with Hart Hanson, Canadian emigre and Bones mastermind.

This is part one. And the crazy-baiting intermission is here.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Screenwriters' festival 2007


I got the email notification of this last night. The 2007 Screenwriters’ Festival will be taking place between the 3-6 July, once more in Cheltenham. The 5th and 6th of July will be Professional Days. Presumably the 3rd and 4th will be newbie days, in which case I hope they’ve listened to feedback. Last year’s New Writers’ Day came in for a lot of stick for being, as I understand it, condescending as fuck.

Anyhow, confirmed speakers so far include: Anthony Horowitz, Chris Smith, Michael Goldenberg, William Nicholson, and media whore/celebrity shrink Raj Persaud, among others.

Tickets go on sale at the end of Feb. A preliminary programme is available.

Return of coma boy


The BBC have updated their Life on Mars pages. No news yet of season two’s premiere date, but not long to wait now...

Scrivener: Outline. Edit. Storyboard. Write.

Another Mac software post.

The market for writing applications on OSX has seen tremendous strides made in recent years - from Ulysses to Copywrite to Jer’s to Celtx to Avenir and Montage, and now Scrivener, writers turned programmers have done remarkable things. They have collaborated, set-up testing programs and been admirably open to user feedback, creating a plethora of environments to help us get work done tidily and quickly.

Scrivener is the most complete, useful, and just plain beautiful app of the lot. So far. And Version 1 has just been released today.

Although not a total screenwriting app, it does include basic screenplay formatting options, and will export as text allowing import into Final Draft or Montage. With a very cool full-screen mode, integrated outliner, corkboard and versioning, it really is an incredibly impressive entry into the market of native Mac writing tools.



With glowing testimonials from Michael Marshall (Spares, Straw Men):
I genuinely think this is the biggest software advance for writers since the word processor.

and Neil Cross (Spooks):
Scrivener is damn near perfect,


you’ve got nothing to lose by downloading the trial version and checking out the tutorial.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Quicksilver for Dummies

Three entries? In one day? Somebody must have slipped me something.

Quicksilver is the first thing I turn to on my Mac when I want to get something done. The sentiment among users that "a Mac doesn't feel like a Mac without it," may be a cliche, but it's so true. I'm constanly trying to invoke cmd-space even at work where it's never going to have an effect.

Whether I want to open an app or file, send an email, find a phone number, browse my music, upload to ftp, search the web or append text to an existing file, I can do it all within Quicksilver. It's so capable that it's more than just an app, it's an entire way of working, a powerful and enabling way of communicating with your computer.

It's awesome.

But it can be mystifying. The first time people look at it, they see an application launcher, and wonder why they would need Quicksilver if they've got Spotlight. Can Spotlight fire off an e-mail without opening Mail? Can Spotlight add text to a file without opening the file? It can take some time and a fair amount of experimentation to find out what Quicksilver is capable of because, alas, the documentation is shocking in its absence. Alcor, as Quicksilver’s developer is known on his forums, admits that over the years of caffine laden late nights he’s probably programmed many cool features into Quicksilver, which have never been documented and never discovered, and which he himself has completely forgotten about.

Over time, several tutorials have emerged espousing the Quicksilver philosophy. Probably the best up to now has been Dan Dickenson’s A Better OSX in Ten Minutes. Graduating from using Quicksilver as a launcher to using it for just about everything requires a conceptual leap that many people just don’t manage, and this article, with its successor, From A Better OS X To Even More are great guides to “getting it.”

So hats off to Howard Melman, who has done the world a huge favour by creating a Quicksilver User Guide, an 89 page PDF which covers just about everything – from selecting items, to choosing an interface, creating triggers, using the clipboard, and (holy of holies) explaining what many of the plug-ins do, and how to use them. A real labour of love and a true boon to the Quicksilver user.

Rob Thomas speaks

Rob Thomas and TWOP have quite the warm relationship. Two years ago he gave them this massive interview, and now he's back, with another monster, all about Veronica Mars' second and third seasons, what worked, what didn't, on the chances for a fourth, when criticism stings, and turning down Friday Night Lights.

Thanks to Maggie for the link. Apologies to Maggie for the shock recontextualisation of William Mayne's fiction.

Guests added to De Montford event

Leicester De Montford University have added three guest to the roster for their Getting it written; Getting it read; Getting ahead day.

They are:

Justin Sbresni, Co-writer, co-producer and co-director of ‘The Worst Week of My Life’ / ‘The Worst Christmas of My Life’ series (BBC) and ‘Barbara’ (ITV)

Micheal Jacob, Creative Head, Mainstream Comedy, BBC

Mervyn Watson, Executive Producer, Drama Series, BBC

The event also has its own page now.

This has come at precisely the wrong time for me. I'll be in Les Gets, where there is currently this much snow. Look at it:


I may be spending my days in the coffee shop with my exercise books, rather than running, out of control, into other groups of poor, unsuspecting skiers. Then again, plenty of time for a blizzard or two!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Not much happening

Anyone ever used one of those washer/dryer combo thingies? Ever get the cunts to dry anything? Fuckers just steam till they mould. I smell like a tramp.

I had my eyes tested today. I must have looked quite confused, because the optometrist was extremely solicitous about my well-being. “Just through the door there, Mr Thomson. Sit down in the big black chair, by the wall. Mind the footplate.” I’m not fucking blind yet, man. I got myself here, didn’t I? I haven’t walked into Dorothy Perkins by mistake, have I? I can see the damn chair. I felt quite smug in the end because my vision’s actually improved, so take that. That. No, that. Where are you, fellow? Who turned out the lights?

Coming out of the gym yesterday, I passed by the pool, where several of my night-time fantasies had inexplicably materialised. There was steam, and bikinis, and everything seemed to be in slow motion. I might have been having a stroke, I haven’t been to the gym in a while. Maybe the place has just improved in my absence. My crickey, I need to get a girlfriend before I get arrested. I’ve got a horn that could take on a rhino.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Trapped in amber

I feel like I’m being left behind; surfing through treacle on a wimpy 56k connection. I can sense time congeal around me, while I wait for pages to load. Is this what the internet used to be like? How do people still put up with it? It’s impossible! My online activities have been seriously curtailed. Thankfully, I have a luxuriously sized collection of unwatched DVDs to get through, and plenty more time to go to the gym. Nevertheless, I’m suffering from withdrawal, and unfamiliar pangs of loneliness. Pathetically, I can’t stand being cut-off from you lot, even though I know you’re not actual people, just a bunch of unreal web-fictions.

Merciless ISP, can you not see I’m suffering? How much longer, oh ye cruel telecom gods? Connect me! Connect! ME!