Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Psycho Killer fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa

There can’t be many people reading who aren’t already aware of Michael C Hall’s terrific turn in Dexter, the series based on Jeff Lindsay’s series of novels.

For those not in the know, however, ITV1 begin broadcasting the first season tonight, in about half an hour.

Hall plays the eponymous Dexter, a blood splatter analyst for Miami PD by day, and serial killer by night. The twist: he only hunts other killers, following a code set down by his foster father, ex-cop Harry Morgan.

The show is darkly, very bleakly, comic; satisfyingly gory; and plays neatly with its viewers’ sympathies by getting us onside with a truly twisted, yet undoubtedly lovable, sociopath.

Go on, give it a stab.

Did the earth move for you?

Apparently there was a chuffing big earthquake this morning - 4.9 on the scale; Britain's biggest in thirty years.

I slept through the whole thing - those who were exposed to my snoring last week will hardly be surprised.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ashes to Ashes pilot script

Those darling little monkeys at The BBC's Writers' Room have done it again. Episode One of Ashes to Ashes is now available to download, print, read, sell on eBay etc.

Don't forget the first episode of Life on Mars is also available, as well as scripts from its Kudos stablemates Spooks and Hustle.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Redurn dicket do doddingham, please

I’m back! Actually, I got back on Saturday night, but what with one thing and another, I’ve only got around to announcing it now. Yeah, how do you like them apples?
 
Anyhow, the week was great. In spite of sunburn, a twisted ankle, falls, food poisoning, a wretched cold and deafness over Paris on the way home, it was brilliant! My skiing has improved a hundred fold. No, a thousand fold. My French, not so much. I’d been quite apprehensive about going again, as I didn’t think I managed very well last year, but now I wouldn’t hesitate to hit the slopes again. Love it, love it, love it.
 
However, the legendary cracked ski-heel of doom prevented me playing football yesterday, which I had been looking forward to all week. Got back in time to watch Eduardo’s foot fall off on Match of the Day, though. Mon dieu! And, most mightily, zut alors!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Away

Lucky bastard that I am, I’m off for another free ski. While I’m away, could someone pop in a tape for Primeval (ITV1, Sat), The Last Enemy (BBC1, Sun), Skins (E4, Mon), Torchwood (BBC2, Wed), and Ashes to Ashes (BBC1, Thur)?

Who says there’s never anything on? Cheers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Funniest/saddest overheard exchange of the day

"I'm sorry, but we only have Dr D-- available for appointments this afternoon."
"He's not a doctor, he's a murderer."

Brrrr.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Out with the old

City of Vice concluded it’s first season on Channel 4 last night. Did it go out with a bang; a rioutous cornucopia of 18th century violence, whoring, disease, swearing and politics? Sadly no. It was the dullest episode of the bunch, an altogether leaden, preachy, cost cutting, on-the-nose docu-drivel affair.

Skins, on the other hand, bounded onto the screen like a breakdancing chiuaua. Take anything, shag anyone Tony got Jason Streeted by a Bristol omnibus last season. Oh, the humanity! Now a stuttering mental wreck who can’t open his own flies or remember where he lives, he stumbles around searching for lost memories while everyone around him dances, and dances and dances.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dott's last tape

The BBC’s writersroom has already had one mention today, from Jane Espenson, no less; but I’m gonna stand up and cheer for ‘em too, ‘cos they’ve gone and got hold of Tony Jordon’s recent script for EastEnders. You know, the one everyone’s going on about – Dot Cotton, a tape recorder, and a thirty minute one-hander.

Loverly.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gaiman Giveaway

In honour of his seventh blogoversary, Harper Collins have agreed to let Neil Gaiman give away one of his books online.

But which will it be?

Ah, that's up to you.

What I want you to do is think -- not about which of the books below is your favourite, but if you were giving one away to a friend who had never read anything of mine, what would it be? Where would you want them to start?

Would it be with “better than Stephen King or your money back” American Gods; the “starts with a songAnansi Boys; the “soon to be a major motion picture” Coraline; the “Phoenix Film Critics’ Society ‘Overlooked Film of the Year’” Stardust; the “should never have been filmed, better as a comic” Neverwhere; or the pot pourris Fragile Things, Smoke and Mirrors or M is for Magic?

The choice is yours.

Inexplicably to this blogger, American Gods has bowled into the lead with a whopping 28% of the vote. Neverwhere’s in hot pursuit at 21%. Both are “typical” Gaiman, but I think if I wanted to introduce a willing subject to Gaiman’s prose, I’d hand them the scary, sentimental YA novel Coraline, an altogether lovely book. And eating everyone else’s dust at 7%. W.T.F?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Screenwriting 2.0

Tip of the hat to Alex for highlighting Scripped, a web-based screenwriting app, along the lines of Google docs, and the 37signals portfolio.

Scripped is, to be fair, pretty bare-boned, but not quite as minimalist as the similarly web-based ScriptBuddy - it at least has an export to PDF function (ScriptBuddy makes you pay for this privilege) and a much more streamlined interface. It also has what looks like a pretty decent draft management system.

Of course, for all their potential networking features, remote storage and platform agnosticism, the downside of all server-side apps is that they can only be used when you’re online: handy in a fi’d up coffee shop, not so useful on public transport. And feature wise, they can never compete with dedicated desktop apps such as Montage (my own preference), Scrivener (superb for organising and drafting documents), and the increasingly capable Celtx (FREE!); and that’s just on the Mac.

Still, I daresay Scripped will find an enthusiastic audience of admirers, and good luck to them. I’m sadly still an old-world paranoid who dreads the thought of his data in another man’s arms, and will remain wedded to my hard-drive apps for as long as they’ll have me.

Friday, February 08, 2008

City of Vice

While we’re on the subject of retro policing, anyone seen City of Vice? Rather immodestly billed by Channel Four as the UK’s very own Deadwood, it is pretty fucking far from being anything of the sort, though it does feature some rather inventive swearing: “fuckster” and “encuntment” being particularly sniggerworthy.

The series documents the attempts of the brothers Fielding (John and Henry – he of Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones fame) to institute London’s first police force, the Bow Street Runners, seventy-five years before Sir Robert Peel eventually founded the Met.

CoV has a magnificent cast, and is obviously meticulously researched, but it has a budget that would barely cover the cost of christmas decorations in an old folks home. My primary school’s nativity play probably has more money spent on it. We’re told London is a throbbing metropolis where the poor live fifty to a room, but when we visit one of these slums, there’s not a soul to be found. Possibly they’ve all scarpered to avoid five-o, or are hiding under dust-sheets like pre-Christian Jewish revolutionaries; nevertheless, there’s a distinctive lack of life on the patently set-bound streets.

Episodes one and two were much enjoyed by the broadsheet critics, but they were some of the clumsiest cock I’ve ever seen. C4 have had an appalling run with new drama lately, from Meadowlands to Ghost Squad by way of Goldplated, so fortunately I was already expecting derisory nonsense, but I couldn’t believe this crap (I paraphrase):


RUNNER
Where can we find this debauched molly?

PERIWIGGED, POWDERED AND PERFUMED POOF
Sodomite Alley

HENRY (V.O)
We had to go to Sodomite Alley

RUNNER
Right, let’s go to Sodomite Alley

Whizzy 3D 18th Century London A-Z effect, zooming onto a street labelled Sodomite Alley

EXT. SODOMITE ALLEY – NIGHT

TITLE: Sodomite Alley

HENRY (V.O)
Eventually,we made our way to Sodomite Alley

RUNNER
Here we are, then. Sodomite Alley.


Sodomites? In alleys? Never before have I heard of such a thing.

Frankly, if it wasn’t for Ian McDiarmid and Iain Glen, I wouldn’t have given this a second look. Their performances are magnetic. When McDiarmid as Henry Fielding returns to the scene of a burglary, only to discover the home that was cleared out yesterday is miraculously restored, and its owner would rather buy everything back from the thieves than suffer the indignity of reporting a crime, Fielding’s frustration that the victim has the nerve to be “sitting on his own fucking furniture!” perfectly communicates the difficulty of getting people to recognise the authority and utility of an organised police force.

But the performances couldn’t overcome the fact that CoV is a show with an identity crisis, which will commit to neither fact or drama. Is it a docu-drama or period procedual? Entertainment or education? Fish or fowl? Arthur or Martha? Episodes one and two were as thrilling as an Open University segment. It was as if someone had spliced together all the scripted segments from a history doc, edited out all the graphs and talking heads and repackaged it as a drama, forgettng that it ought to be exciting. And then, suddenly, episode three was rather good, and episode four, which was a contination of the story, was even better. Out of the filth and pestilence there was drama, and tension, and conflicting agendas and more swearing, and less hand-holding and hectoring, and fewer expository voiceovers, and so I looked upon it, and saw it was good.

But not as good as Terry Pratchett’s Watch novels.

And anyway, there’s only one episode left, so who knows if we’ll get to see what could be a potentially fascinating show develop any further.

Ashes to Ashes

I was expecting to be disappointed. After all, in a dust up between The Sweeney and Dempsey and Makepeace, there’s only going to be one winner, isn’t there?

But Ashes to Ashes was a delightful surprise. Enough similarities to its parent to be familiar, and enough differences to mark it out as its own creature.

I will continue to watch.

And, of course, Keeley Hawes was lovely.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A day at De Montford, part deux

Last year, De Montford Uni inconsiderately hosted their Getting It Written, Getting It Read event while I was skiing. The day was very well received, and so this year, having been good enough to consult my social calendar before announcing anything, they have now confirmed that 2008’s untitled Television Scriptwriting Workshop will take place on the 8th March.

With a focus on writing for soap operas and television dramas, and Jed Mercurio as keynote speaker, this should be right up many peoples’ street.

If anyone’s still reading, and would like to book a place, contact Hayley Durham, whose email address is pghums at dmu dot ac dot uk.