25 May 2013
My blogging seems to have slipped a fair bit recently – it’s no longer a certainty I will complete either the Bond or Doctor Who series by their deadlines as RL gets in the way. However, I’m still going and in the meantime, I’ve read a novel that I felt worth reviewing.
That novel is Nev Fountain’s Geek Tragedy, the first of three (so far) novels featuring amateur detective and TV science fiction writer Mervyn Stone.
Where we’re at
Mervyn Stone is an ageing former script editor on a (fictional) 1980s BBC science fiction soap opera called Vixens from the Void, a trashy affair with big shoulder pads and dodgy special effects. With little work since then, he finds himself unable to escape the show he worked on and does conventions for the money. Unfortunately for him, wherever he goes, murder follows.
Stone is attending ConVix 15, a convention being held in a tacky hotel near the M25 motorway, when one of the organisers apparently gases himself to death in one of the show’s original props, a ‘sentient’ car. Teaming up with a Special Constable, he investigates the murders (for there is more than one), while having to deal with crazy fans and crazier women, including Vanity Mycroft, one of the show’s former divas.
· While I’ve never been to a convention myself, the world of them seems convincingly portrayed; I suspect that Fountain has drawn on a good number of RL experiences, including those of Nicola Bryant (who he credits in the book).
· The supporting characters are strongly done – especially some of Stone’s former colleagues.
· There are a lot of great laughs in this book, especially at some of the awkward situations that our hero ends up in. There are also some little nuggets of humour that come out if you know your British works.
· The mystery is genuinely well done and you don’t see the identity of the murderer coming – then again, I am generally rubbish at these things unless it’s an American show and one of the actors is particularly well known.
· The book is aware of the conventions of the genre and plays with them well – the well done prologue (in the style of an episode guide) talking about a death in a fire makes it obvious something is up with that. It also just about gets away with a genre fundamentally hard to justify in a modern setting.
· This isn’t a book for kids – there are some very adult moments in this and on occasion, Fountain overdoes it.
· The story takes a little while to get going.
An enjoyable, but not perfect novel; certainly worth looking at if you’re a Doctor Who or British sci-fi fan.
20 May 2013
I’m not going to do a standard ten-point review for this; I can’t do ten points without being spoilery. So I’ll be brief.
This was a bit of a dragger of an episode; there were moments that could have done with being somewhat shorter. It is also clearer that the show is spending money on effects instead of a large cast; nearly everyone had prior form on the show. However, we had moments of great drama and a superb explanation for Clara.
The revelation of the ‘Name’ and that ending… that’s going to be speculated on for months and talked about for years.
Roll on 23 November.
19 May 2013
The Holy Spirit shows that God continues to work within us even after Jesus' (temporary) departure and that we are to evangelise to all people, no matter what their background.
Happy Birthday Christianity!
14 May 2013
The Doctor, Clara and her two charges travel to the biggest theme park in the cosmos, only to discover that it is not only closed, but contains Cybermen…
· We jumped pretty much straight into this, although the reveal of the title sequence cliffhanger was more than a bit clichéd.
· Matt Smith had a great time playing two roles – truly hamming it up as the Cyber Planner (not that he avoids the ham usually) in a turn that reminded me of performances of Jekyll and Hyde.
· Clara didn’t do the best job this week – getting handed military command and reacting in that manner seemed a bit off.
· Got to say that I liked the reveal of how the chess game was initially operated – look up the Mechanical Turk for the inspiration.
· Warwick Davis did a great job as Porridge and I liked the reveal of his true identity; I’m sure many people in his position would have wanted to be ordinary just for once.
· When is this set? I guess it’s one of the Great and Bountiful Human Empires.
· Superb CGI work in this episode; you could never have had shots like this in the old days.
· The military unit looked more than a bit unmilitary; while they may well have been a punishment platoon, no military would let the Captain have that fringe.
· Really, really effective Cybermen – they came up with a counter strategy for nearly everything that the humans threw at them.
· The final shot of the episode was again something that we’ve seen before many times before.
An enjoyable episode, but nothing stellar. Next week’s finale could be very interesting indeed.
11 May 2013
My thoughts on the renewals, cancellations and new pickups – I’ll do this by network.
· Revenge got renewed, but that show is now starting to twist for the sake of twisting. The EP jumped ship earlier this season and I don’t see this going on for too much longer.
· Body of Proof was a big surprise renewal last year and a hard call this time – but it was cancelled; the age of the forensic show appears to be ending.
· Lucky 7 looks an awful lot like a US remake of the BBC series The Syndicate, but can that concept work for a 22-or-so episode run?
· CSI: With an early renewal (and all its stars back), this show may be old, but I’ve enjoyed it for over a decade – frequently with my dinner. I can see why this is the most-watched show on Earth.
· NCIS continues to be undemanding fun, but if any of the leads chose to leave the show, it’s going to have a hard time adjusting – they’ve been entrenched (mostly) for seven seasons now.
· The Good Wife remains a critical darling, but at some point soon, CBS will decide to call this one a day – the ratings have never been brilliant.
· Jerry Bruckheimer continues to be a big player in TV – he’s got another show of his picked up… which will replace the cancelled CSI:NY, a series that lost steam a while back.
· Arrow’s early renewal was no surprise – it’s a good show with great stunt work; plus Barrowman needs the work.
· The Tomorrow People is one of those shows that could work or fail.
· I chose not to bother with the second season of Touch – nor did many people. Its cancellation was no surprise whatsoever.
· US & Them: Why does the US insist on remaking perfectly good British shows when they could just show the originals for a fraction of the cost? I suspect, though, they’d subtitle some of the
· Abrams gets another pie with Almost Human; that could be a hit or an early cancellation.
· Enlisted is the first US military comedy I’ve heard of for a while; as the US moves out of over a decade of ground war, this might go down a bit better than a few years back.
· Brooklyn Nine-Nine: What is it with the NYPD? They’re turning up everywhere these days.
· Last Resort (cancelled earlier this year) was an interesting concept that was shoddily executed; I only stuck with it with difficulty. At least it got enough warning to put together a fairly good ending.
· Parks & Recreation has started airing in the UK and is rather enjoyable in its own strange way – pleased it got its sixth run.
· I see that we’ll be getting an Ironside remake – never seen the original, though. Before my time.
· As soon as I saw the opening ratings for Defiance, I knew it was going to get an early renewal.
· Leverage has lost something in its fifth and final run – it mucked about with the formula too much.
· Southland has been ended after five seasons too – this was an interesting, if somewhat depressing show, that reminded me somewhat of The Bill. Worth noting that it was picked up by TNT after NBC cancelled it.
· Seven and done for Burn Notice – seven seasons seems to be a common length for a show, possibly due to contractual reasons. At least it will be able to get a proper end.
Thanks to TV By The Numbers (especially the Cancellation Bear) for focussing on what cannot lie.,. the ratings. I’ll be using them again next season.
06 May 2013
The Doctor, Clara and the Vastra gang try to stop an insane factory owner in 1893 Yorkshire.
This one was a fast-paced episode that rattled along with barely time to breathe:
· Great pre-titles sequence; it had the air of a classic pastiche of Victorian times about it.
· Dame Diana Rigg, bringing out a far more Yorkshire accent than most of her roles have had, did a great job throughout, although crediting her as ‘Dame Diana Rigg’ seemed a bit strange.
· The ‘sat nav’ joke was excellent; although the name of the kid was obviously telegraphed.
· Strax, Jenny and Vastra were wonderful, although I’m not sure what ‘limbo vapour’ is…
· Starting a story in media res that way was a novelty for the show and worked well in this case, even it is seriously overused at other times.
· There were some superb supporting characters, especially the pathologist.
· The alien we saw was well realised – kudos to the creators for this.
· Matt Smith had less to do than usual, but was still good; he can certainly rock a bowler.
· Clara seemed a bit more subdued – she wasn’t in much of this and when she was on, her normal sass wasn’t fully present.
· Bringing the two kids along for a ride next week could either be great or a recipe for disaster – the show does not take minors on the TARDIS and I suspect many would not like for the Doctor to have a kid companion.
Another treat from Mark Gatiss, but this is a Battenberg cake of an episode… enjoyable, but too many will make you sick.
03 May 2013
UKIP's record performance is worthy of note, but one should not draw too many conclusions from what is basically a vote of the Tory heartlands - the major cities were not up, including London (I didn't have a vote this time, but I will next year).