Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I should explain. For a few years now I've felt that most people's faces look familiar. When I see a new person, someone I haven't met before, they already look familiar. I theorise that there are two possible explanations for this.
Firstly, perhaps my memory only has room enough for a limited number of faces. So after that number has been reached the older faces are wiped from my face-archive and new, more recent faces are assigned to those individuals instead (this explains why I never think people look the same when I see them after a period of time).
The second possible explanation is that I have discovered a glitch in the universe. That glitch being that there are only a limited number of faces available in creation and I actually have seen them all.
In any case the phrase 'too many faces' is now being hurled back at me on a daily basis as it amuses my colleagues so much.
As real life caught up with me last week I found myself less able to spend time writing. This is the classic excuse of course and I must do better. It was all going pretty well until Thursday and then some workplace politics put me off my stroke.
As a result it's a whole week since my last entry - rubbish. I have not been completely idle however. I'm ready to script my Future Shock and anticipate submitting it within a few weeks. I may crack out a few more over the next couple of months as I've been reminding myself why and how much I love comics this week.
News of a reputable sounding Doctor Who fan fiction ezine has excited me today. An introduction by Paul Cornell and the involvement of Mags L Halliday must be a seal of quality? I've looked at some fan fiction sites on the internet and literally been terrified by what I've seen (I never really thought of K-9 as a sexual presence).
I've a rather fun second Doctor story in need of a home, I wonder if they are looking for material...
A man approached us and asked if we needed help so of course we told him no. We may have to get Emma's Dad to help us. I am thirty-one.
We were going to go for a walk into town then but because it's so sunny there were a lot of faces out. Too many really. We came back home instead.
It's very nearly time for us to watch the two part season finale to 24 series six. Will it all turn out OK? Is Chloe going to contribute anything at all to this series? Is Wayne going to wake up? Will we find out what happened to Logan?
Do I really care when Heroes is so very much better?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
More educational were the poor proofing and spelling errors in a magazine about writing. Billy Piper? Another article uses an extract from a Katie Fforde book but can't quite decide how to spell her surname so alternates between a single and double use of the letter 'f'.
I'll stick to the Writers Handbooks from now on I think.
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In other news Emma and I went to the Comics Expo in Bristol on Sunday; despite the best efforts of biblical weather. It really inspired me to have a go at writing a comic script. With that in mind I've had the germ of an idea for a 2000AD Future Shock, the ideas really come thick and fast when you're writing every day.
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I've discovered a web site called Story War. You can post short fiction or poems on this site and people read and rate them. These ratings are tallied up into a league table of stories. This means you can watch your story get voted up and down the table at the slightest whim of a bored index finger. Sounds horrific doesn't it?
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Also as usual Spearritt and Lee Potts are having fun. Their interplay sparkles and counterbalances the rather dreary turns from the rest of the cast. Ben Miller seems to have mistaken this programme for The Chucklebrothers while Douglas Henshaw does emotionally scarred by speaking softly and looking a bit sad. It's not that he's acting badly but that the Professor seems to be the least developed character in the series. This is a flaw when he's the lead role. James Murray too is back to a one dimensional performance this week after showing some spark of personality in the previous episode.
The emotionally fraught scenes concerning Cutters realisation that his dead wife is not so much dead as living in the prehistoric age (same difference?) slow the story down and show up flaws in the script that excitement and slick editing otherwise mask. For example how does Cutter know where this temporal fault line is? Come to that why does a zoologist know so much about space/time mechanics? How has Helen Cutter survived for eight years in a prehistoric world full of carnivorous beasties with only one change of clothes? Would even the geekiest of geeks really be looking forward to watching Battlefield Earth with directors commentary? Perhaps the writers have confused geeks with Scientologists?
Next week the Home Office interrogate Helen Cutter while she threatens the country with Sabre Toothed monsters. Howsa..? Let's hope there's more tooth and less jaw.
Charlie Brooker is very excited about this and quite right too. I suggest you follow the link and see what he has to say on the matter as he phrases it much more clearly than I could. What I will add though is that I will be complaining via the BBC's website every time their new policy irritates me, which is likely to be pretty regularly (about 7.45pm every Saturday evening). On each programme page there is a 'Contact Us' link designed for just this purpose. I urge you to use it as and when appropriate.
I thought it was bad when they just talked over the middle eight...
Friday, May 11, 2007
The premise is that space/time anomalies are appearing randomly across Britain forming portals from our time to the distant past… and we do mean distant. These portals allow anyone or anything to pass back in time to a prehistoric age. The real problem though is when creatures from millennia ago come through to our time and terrorise Asda car parks.
A small team of experts in zoology drift together and find themselves working with the government to identify and contain these anomalies. There is also a subplot regarding Henshaw’s characters wife, missing some eight years, who may be tied into the anomalies in some way.
The only other minus points on these early episodes are the somewhat cartoonish James Lester, as played by Ben Miller; and the slightly off target geek chums of Connor who are just a little too crudely stereotyped to ring true. If Hannah Spearritt is going to make a habit of running around in just her pants a suspicion may arise that she's only there for the Dad's but the powers that be are likely to be willing to take that chance. She's is actually very engaging with her jeans on too.
The best thing about Primeval is that despite clearly being ITV’s answer to Doctor Who it wasn’t scheduled against it. In the 1980’s genre television fans often had to choose between Doctor Who and The A-Team, or Knight Rider or Robin of Sherwood. As Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor) once pointed out in an interview these practices split the same audience straight down the middle. Hopefully the success of shows like Doctor Who, Primeval and Robin Hood can cultivate an audience, and a demand, for quality genre TV drama all year round. Perhaps then Graham Nortons’ National Lottery presents Tropical Strictly Celebrity X Factor can be cancelled before it starts.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
I may chuck a couple of more bits on here later as I'm up to date on 24 (Quick verdict - much better but can it erase the awful memory of the middle third?), and finished The Highest Science last night (Really good fun but bizarre conclusion). Next up? Something More by Paul Cornell, or possibly The English Civil War by Diane Purkiss; depends how I feel. Emma is currently reading the Screenburn collection which basically involves her giggling like a lunatic and reading every other paragraph out to me. Not that I mind as it is debilitatingly funny.
The first film succeeded in laying the foundations for the franchise without dulling it's own effect. It was an exciting, fresh film that for the first time took you web swinging through Manhattan and showed you a spiders eye view of New York. The second built on this by developing the regular characters themes and also retelling the sad tale of Otto Octavius; it achieved these aims with aplomb and resulted in an exciting, breathtaking film that quickly joined the limited ranks of sequels that surpass their predecessors.
Anticipation for Spider-Man 3 has been high indeed, particularly in my household. It is sad to report then that this latest venture was, while not a failure, certainly not a qualified success. The problem is that the film gives itself too much hard work to do; and in this perhaps Raimi and co's enthusiasm has back-fired. It takes as it's subject matter not just Peter's love triangle with MJ and Gwen Stacy, but also the rivalry with Eddie Brock, the creation of Venom and Flint Marko, and the culmination of the ongoing story of Harry Osborn's obsession with destroying Spider-man; who he believes to be responsible for his fathers death. If that reads like a long list it's because it is. Juggling so many strands it's surprising that it manages to *ahem* spin them together effectively largely without showing the authors hand. Indeed it is only in the climactic yet improbable team-up of villains that events seem contrived.
What is less surprising however is that none of the listed plots are explored in the depth they deserve. Gwen Stacy is superfluous and the inclusion of her father, a cruel tease for fanboys, is entirely pointless. Mary Jane, at the centre of events and pivotal to the plot, is given less to do than in preceding films and comes across as selfish and whiney. Whilst these can be traits of the character it does seem unfair on Kirsten Dunst after two strong turns.
The Sandman, here with an added sob story tacked on and then forgotten, is a great character who is used only for visual effect and in the already mentioned unlikely team-up with Venom. Eddie Brock is one dimensional, and his fusion with the symbiote suit will make sense only to those who fill in the blanks with their knowledge of the source text. As for the alien itself it appears to be named only in the end credits and apart from some, staggeringly accurate, guesses from Dr Connors (another continued fanboy tease) nothing more is learned about it. A further irritation is that it is destroyed at the end meaning either an awkward resurrection or no return appearances.
Harry Osborn on the other hand is given a chance to shine in this outing. Having discovered his fathers secret lair at the close of Spidey 2 he has familiarised himself with it's contents by the time we rejoin him. His subsequent memory loss after a Spider induced head injury allows James Franco to be freed from the dull brooding frown-fest of his last appearance. The scenes where he is painting and making omelette's with Mary Jane are touching even if you know it can never last. Sure enough the memory of his father has him back to his evil ways before long. His story and his ultimate redemption are well handled though and probably the most satisfying element of the film. Sadly they do reduce the impact of his final moments by playing them out too long.
Tobey Maguire is as sympathetic as ever as trouble laden Peter Parker. He really comes to life though in his bad-Peter stint. The jazz cafe dance sequence and his Travolta-ish strutting are hilarious as Emo-Parker shows his moves under the spell of the black suit. Maguire can convey more emotion with a look, a stance or a smile than many of his contemporaries could with a monologue.
J. Jonah Jameson, The Bugle Staff, Dr Connors, Mr Ditkovitch, Ursula and Bruce Campbell all get beefier appearances than previously while Aunt May seems a little poorly served. Stan Lee's obligatory appearance is perhaps a little more distracting than usual; 'Nuff said.
In summary the film is very enjoyable. Throughout it's mighty running time it holds the interest. They succeed in tying up most of the threads that have run through the preceding films yet the ending is underwhelming as Peter is once again left alone while MJ walks away. With the news that Sony intend at least another three films ringing in our ears there is still plenty of time for Peter and Mary Jane to get married, seperated, cloned and retconned but it would have been nice to see this trilogy end with these actors playing the parts and their characters united. Sony shouldn't assume that Raimi, Maguire, Dunst or their supporting cast and crew will stick around forever.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
How did it come to be that the boy who loved going to the pictures could come to so despise the inconvenience of having to leave the house to see a film. As it stands these days I have to use the cover of daylight for my quick forays to the multiplex... ah multiplexes... to see whatever I'm after. I can't face going in the evening as I'll be surrounded by other people, damn them.
It's not all cinemas mind you. I'm a big fan of Chapter, my local art house cinema/arts centre. There's a lovely little cinema next to New Street station in Birmingham called the Electric where they used to sell home made cakes instead of popcorn. These are places that hark back to those halcyon days of my youth, or better yet; to a time when most films weren't rubbish and most cinema goers weren't idiots with heads full of glossy magazines.
My usual cinema of choice, the Cineworld, has become familiar ground. I know where I am with it's dodgy revolving door that I can't quite shuffle through without feeling like a moron; and the cashiers who seem to be praying for the blessed release of a sudden aneurysm. I don't mind that there's so much glass in the place that you feel like the animated Fox trying to ascend the Glacier Mint in those adverts the cinema loving child I used to be so enjoyed. I don't even mind all that much when I have to wait to enter the theatre in an inadequately sized room with a bunch of the strange, socially retarded weirdos that can't face going to the cinema when it's busy (which is to say people like me).
I thought I hated the Cineworld; but fate had a lesson in store for me.
I have returned from a sortie to the Vue. Where the ticket counter stands idle whilst the refreshment bar offers tickets. Where the volume so loud that my eardrums are playing a military beat before the film even starts.
Then there's the entertainment. When I was a boy you got a cartoon and the feature, maybe a trailer or two. Now you just get a stream of adverts beaten into your head while you sit strapped into a seat by your own money. Dross even worse than the tripe I mute at home in the advert break halfway through Peep Show.
Three Guinness ad's; a baffling short film that seemed to be about how cool being drunk is but turned out to be for Playstation Three, which is then revisited just before the trailers; two Mitchell and Webb Mac ads (may they burn in hell forever), and incidentally what is the naughty step all about - what you can't password protect content on the PC? Presumably Mac prefers to use the superinformation highway to submit children to snuff films, happy slapping mobile phone videos and dutch pigeon-fisting marathons; coke (Wayne Rooney representing the beautiful game); Carling; a bizarre advert that shows us that driving your car into children at 80mph is bad but at 30mph it's OK. Even better to avoid hitting children in your car altogether surely? That disturbing one with the superhero retrieving the girls purse who turns out to be the sort of lagered up throwback that 'OYOY's at you in the street on Sunday morning at eight o'clock when you're on your way to work and they've not yet made it home; an interminable nokia ad; a reasonably amusing orange ad and one that shows you what a pirate version of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer might have looked like had it been made fifteen years ago by someone whose equipment was antiquated even then.
When we finally get to the film trailers they seem to only last a third as long as the adverts did. Even so I was exhausted enough to leave then. I've just paid for that, I was thinking, surely the advertisers pay for their screentime? Am I being ripped off?
By the time the film starts I'm so mentally and emotionally drained I just want to come home.
Still, at least it was half price Tuesday.
Monday, May 07, 2007
The week ahead is intended to be one of writing. I want to come out of this weekwith a couple of short stories complete and a new script underway. I have to commit to one script because at the moment I'm hopping between too many ideas. It's now six months since my reply from the BBC regarding Riks Records, my sitcom pilot, and I am no closer to submitting the solicited second script.
Little man got big job to do!
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Fairly straight forward story but so well executed. The Doctor gets to be a proper science whizz and fiddle with wires and all that sort of boffin stuff, Gatiss was excellent as a baddie not so far from the Doctor's level of intelligence and I loved their scenes together. This episode makes Mark Gatiss only the third person to have written for and acted in Doctor Who since 1963. I bet he's pleased as punch (whatever that does mean). He must have ben thrilled to be a part of an episode that homages Nigel Kneale as much as this one does with all it's science tapping into ancient horrors. Thelma Barlow was an unexpected boon in this story as I hadn't expected a great deal from her part. Lady Thaw was as much of a monster as Lazarus.
The monster was grotesque and well realised. Scrabbling along corridors and leaping across balconies. Very scary.
Mr Saxon's Evil Little Helper was a nice touch - really building him up aren't they. How long has he been watching the Doctor? Since Canary Wharf? Since the Sycorax invasion? Since the Slitheen? He must be very well prepared to take the Doctor on when he's good and ready. Whoever he is.
Not crazy about Martha's family but they serve their purpose. Considering her Mother seems to have an extra function as Mr Saxon's pawn I'm not thrilled with the acting so far; Adjoa Andoh seems to be a bit more Albert Square than the Powell Estate. Also it seems to me that Reggie off of radio one may as well not be in it so far. Why were they all invited to this experiment anyway?
Martha is briliant and I much prefer her to Rose; and also that her relationship to the Doctor is very different. The Doctor manages to be rude or insulting to her at least once an episode - which I love. He's got a real edge to him now. She keeps making moon eyes at him though so I guess that'll be where it goes.
DT, free of the winking atavism of last weeks closing scenes, is splendid here. Cool and distant to Martha at the beginning; his interaction with Martha, her Mother, and most of all Lazarus is a pitch perfect pleasure. Best of all is the Cathedral conversation between Lazarus and the Doctor. 'You think history's only made with equations?' Lot's of great dialogue throughout the script.
With it's glossy look and fast pacing topped off with multiple climaxes, this story felt more like a good old fashioned SF blockbuster and I think that was the right thing to follow last weeks psuedophilosphical clunking imagery and Star Trek sentimentality. As a result I was already grinning all over my face when the episode ended...
AND THEN... there's the trailer. We're halfway through the series and at the risk of jinxing it I don't see what can go wrong with any of the remaining episodes, Jack, Saxon, Cornell, Moffatt, Chibnall, Derek frickin' Jacobi! If the scarecrows and spaceships and explosions weren't enough for you there's John Simm in a room full of dead or incapacitated people wearing a respirator and tapping the table. The scariest thing I've seen in Who yet.