Monday, November 24, 2008

THE SURVIVORS - debut episode

Last night's debut broadcast of the 70's series remake was certainly better than I'd anticipated given that it had Primeval writer, Adrian Hodges, writing the script. I was expecting a cast of freshly scrubbed beautiful 20-somethings, scampering around a 'deserted' filmed-at-5am London, looking catwalk-beautiful as they fight to survive.

Well, what was somewhat reassuring is the mixed ages of the cast. The main character, Abbey Grant, is a mid-30s mum, there's an 11 year old boy, the alpha-male Greg Preston
looks to be lat 30's and requisite bad buy sprung from prison looks about the same. The rest of the cast are generic 20-something lovelies.

At least it's a start; an acknowledgement that there are other people outside the golden teen-to-late-twenties sweet spot, who, you know...actually exist.

I couldn't help feeling the set-up of the virus was somewhat rushed. Given that the rest of the series (and possible future seasons) will be set in the aftermath, a little more time spent exploring the Big Event itself as events unravelled would have been more illuminating.

The big disappointment in my opinion though was the musical score and the title sequence. If any of you remember the title music and sequence to the original series, you'll know exactly what I mean - it was utterly chilling. This one is just, well, ho-hum.

But the dramatic score was, actually cringe-inducing in places, particularly the 'weepy' moments where the viewer is bludgeoned to death with swirling violins loudly announcing 'sad bit; please proceed to the nearest hanky dispensor immediately'. Actually it was worse than just unsubtle - it sounded dated, like the canned scores used by an 70's American daytime hospital soap opera. 'I'm sorry Mrs Pacelli, I'm afraid it's not good news...' (cue swirly-swirly-violins and quivering bottom lip)

All things considered though, given this could have been as ghastly as Primeval, as naff as Dr Who....I think Survivors did comparatively well. Good, even.

Good....that is, until I hold it up against far better scripted shows out there (Dexter, Battlestar Galactica) and realise we Brits are largely rubbish at producing big-concept drama. Give us a Jane Austin novel to play around with and we're fine. Give us something bold and different and we fluff it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It's always a big day for me when I type those two golden words right at the end of a novel. A fantastic feeling, exhaustion and exhileration at the same time.

So, if you've just stumbled onto this blog, not a member of the Scarrow forum, then 'Streamers' won't mean a thing to you. So for you Passing a nutshell:-

Streamers is a time travel series of novels for young adults. The 'streamers' in our title are our heroes; children and teenagers plucked from history a moment before their certain death, and recruited into a secret agency tasked with keeping history 'tidy'.

For, you see, with the invention of time travel, there will be those from the future who'll attempt to alter history for their own ends; neo-nazis who'd want the Germans to win WWII, Royalists who'd like King Charles to have beaten Cromwell...a Catholic church who'd have been more than happy if there'd never been a renaissance.

The first book's done. And it's dark. Very dark. And in places quite scary. If I were to try and sum it up, it's TIME BANDITS meets I AM LEGEND meets TERMINATOR.

It's a fun concept to work with - alternative history lines, 'what ifs', time travel, gadgets and gizmos, the future world, the past. And in between the action, an opportunity for characters from the past to see our present world, and alternatively marvel at our technology or pity our obesity/apathy. Plenty of room for some social commentary there!

So, whilst I've written it for a young adult audience, there's stuff in there that I'm almost certain may have to come out at the editing stage. Pretty grim stuff.
But that's for another day, when I begin the editing process. But right now, in fact, for the rest of today...I shall simply bask in the glow of having typed those two magical words...

'The End'.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Oh my...I watched the entire thing on TV. Which is a testament to how incredible it was since I never normally bother with the Olympics at all. Only a country so disciplined, so well organised as China could have pulled off something so remarkable. It was truly breathtaking.

And a little intimidating too.

I mean, I shudder to think how shambolic and embarressing our London 2012 opening ceremony will be by comparison. I have a nightmare vision of a ceremony that incorporates little more than an SClub 7 track and several dozen hoodies body-popping over our wonderfully expensive and politically acceptable 'urban' street-art logo.

Yup, we're sure to conjure up a pretty lame opening show, and somehow make it cost more than the entire annual budget for the BBC. The cost thing....sigh....that's a whole other discussion. There's a very good reason why the Olympics budget will vastly overrun, which maybe I'll moan about in a few days time. Suffice to say, if our Olympics isn't blown to pieces by radical islamists, it'll most likely be a monumental cock-up.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

DR WHO-writes-this-crap

I sat through the finale with my lad, because it's nice to do things together. But blimey...this was truly appalling.

I really don't know where to begin trying to analyse what was basically a butt-clenchingly, excruciatingly embarrassing SciFi pantomime. Coincidence piled on coincidence....exposition layered upon exposition, convenient gadget/plot device after convenient gadget/plot device, reunion piled upon reunion. Cheesey-weesey cartoon baddies monologuing like mad, naff dialogue from beginning to end. Clearly quite expensive stage set, badly over-lit with gaudy lights, MTV editing for over-sugared low attention-span kiddie-winks. The cornball romantic sub-plot with Rose, and that unfair slight of hand over the doctor's regeneration (specifically added to the story line to generate loads of tabloid press speculation as to whom would be brought in to play the next doctor) tsk tsk. Cheap shot.

Oh, I could go on and on.

Suffice to say this was the most awful example of (high budget) story-telling I've come across in quite some time. And that's saying a lot these days. About the only saving grace, were the plentiful and no doubt expensive CG shots, which were, you know...quite nice, but not anything I haven't seen before.

I know Dr Who is for kids. I know this is 'check-your-brain-in' entertainment, and believe me, I thoroughly enjoy big budget brainless sci-fi entertainment. I loved Aliens, Predator, 5th Element, Starship Troopers, Robocop, Waterworld, Independence Day etc etc. But this...this was so bad, so amateur it went sailing past being so-bad-it's-funny, to being so-bad-I-found-myself-nodding-off.

And yet, because it's DR WHO, because it's the good ol' BEEB, because it's become a British cultural icon it is forgiven everything - it's allowed to be utterly crap. In fact I suppose it's expected.

The only real silver lining to this ridiculous finale is that it marks the end of Russell T. Davies tenure as series exec' producer and lead script editor, and that job will now be passed onto to Steven Moffat (the guys who has written the better episodes eg: 'Blink').

What I shall hope for, when Dr WHO 'reboots' in 2010, is what I hoped for when the Doctor was revived in 2004(?) with Christopher Ecclestone as the timelord - something darker, smarter and basically...well, basically entertaining.


A little coffee-time teaser for you. A game I came up with this morning.

1. A room full of nervous people...and there are three spies in there amongst them.
2. The normal people are worried about having spies in their vicinity and their colour honestly depicts how worried they are.
3. Yellow people believe there is ONE spy in the nine squares surrounding them.
4. Red people believe there are TWO spies in the nine squares surrounding them.
5. But beware...the three spies in the room are well-practiced liars and can be appear as worried or relaxed as they want.

On which squares are the three spies?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


So, has anybody found themselves nervously beginning to stockpile food yet? You know, I can't help but notice how many more canned goods I'm seeing in people's supermarket trolleys these days.

I'll be honest and confess right now that we've started building a 12 week food reserve - which is the MINIMUM reserve recommended by FEMA in the states. (I've yet to locate any useful British Govt' emergency advice on food reserves).

But, sheeeesh....that's a lot of cans.

I did a back-of-envelope calculation of the number of cans of a hi-protein/hi-calorie food type...and chose corned beef (800calories per tin) because
of all the tinned products in the supermarket it seems to have the longest storage window (stamped with 2012 sell-bys).

Anyway,for the three of us we'd need between 600-700 cans approx.

That really is a helluva lot of cans.

I noticed though, browsing the net, that there are purveyors of freeze-dried emergency supplies, and these are cleverly assembled into 1person, 2person, 3person, 4person....etc 1 year 'complete survival solutions' with a storage window of 30 years! Again, the vendors are all US vendors who either refuse to ship abroad, or slap on punitive shipping costs.

Shopping around in good ol' ill-prepared-let's-not-panic-shall-we? Britain...I can find nothing like that so far, other than a few camping stores who'll sell you 2-3 day 'Ranulph Fiennes' branded hiking rations, at £8 a 'pouch'.

Does anyone know of a UK supplier of freeze-dried emergency food supplies? If so....please drop me a line or post here in the comments section.

One does hate to sound all shrill and alarmist...but frankly, I'm inclined to believe the next 30 years aren't going to be particularly pleasant. And what's more, I'd rather buy a year's 'survival solution', and not have to worry about checking it's sell-by until I'm approaching my 70th birthday, than keep browsing through my 600 cans that need to be consumed on an on-going basis and having to ask my wife to come up with increasingly inventive ways to serve up corned beef.

Friday, May 30, 2008


If ever there was a person who deserves an award for courage and for truly understanding what is right, it's this woman - Carol Saldinack.

You can read the article right here, also see a newsclip of her discussing this.

Basically, she overheard her two sons brashly boasting about a man they'd beaten up and left for dead. Realising that if it had been one of her own sons left for dead in a pool of his own blood, she'd want to know who did it, she'd want justice brought to bear. So she called the police and handed them both in; a heartbreaking, but right decision.

I hope when the Queen and the government get round to compiling their list for this year's honours and awards, that Carol is right at the very top of that know, above the TV celebrity honoured for 40 years of light entertainment, or the premier league footballer's medal for gallantry, or the retired MP's knighhood, or the BBC weather girl who's boosted her showbiz profile by campaigning against landmines.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


This evening's most gob-smacking momemt of drop-dead stupidity comes from Michael 'I'm a good Jewish boy' Sophocles. How the **** did he....hang on, let me just calm myself down.

Okay, I'm better.

Ahem...I'll start again. How did he think that a chicken could be made kosher by having it blessed by a Muslim cleric? Well the answer did seem to be, he invented his Jewish heritage to look good on the CV. But honestly, you'd think if you're going to invent that kind of detail, you'd learn the most well known word of yiddish - kosher.


Apart from that moment. I thought the rest of this week's show was pretty lame - no different than watching a bunch of over-sugared toddlers scampering around someone's lounge looking for hidden easter eggs.

I'm not sure the right people went tonight - the two Jennys. They were both, I thought, quite strong candidates. I suspect they were victims of the hidden spectre that haunts this show like a dark shadow - the unseen Producer. I'd guess neither Jenny was a ratings winner...too sensible, too grown up, too boring.