Sunday, September 10, 2006


Rather bizarrely, Wikipedia has the brief article on Jeremy Hoad up for deletion on the grounds that having co-written Blue Angel is not notable (because Wikipedia is of course filled only with people like Kofi Anan) .

If anyone's a member of could they go along to the page and vote to 'Keep' (click 'Edit Page' and then, if they agree if it's an obvious Keeper, enter *'''Keep''' and a reason at the bottom of the page)?

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Prison Broke

This post will contain spoilers for the first three episodes of the new
series of Prison Break, so if you've not seen them but intend to do so,
best skip it and go read Simon's views on Farscape, or Tim's on the new
series DVDs
or Phil's stripped down version of his new First Doctor orgy
story or Stewart's...well, you get the idea.

For those of you who remain, I give you a big whine (it couldn't really be
called a review) about Prison Break season 2, or Prison Break: Manhunt as
it's reputed to be called (only not in the titles).

Which highlights the first problem I have with the new show. The first
season worked because the escape plan read almost exactly like the
brilliant Infocom adventure game based on Douglas Adams' HHG2TG, in that it
involved very convoluted and disconnected actions which if done in exactly
correct order proved to work in a satisfyingly logical way (i.e in the
opposite to Lost which, as I've mentioned before, resembles a very early
adventure game where any and all events are basically arbitrary and death
and escape might as well be decided at the beginning by a quickly written
random number generator).

This was only possible because the prison setting provided a backdrop of
unchanging characters and locations which meant that when things went wrong,
Michael's back up plan could be worked out by the viewer (if they can't go
through the pipe bcause a janitor had the hole sealed up, then the only
other way into the clinic is via the locked door - now how can they get
through that door?).

Some of it was fairly implausible, granted, but it's a TV show so allowances
can be made so long as we don't head into 24 style massive coincidence
territory (in the same way that no-one in Rose's family smokes or swears in
the latest series of Dr Who).

The prison setting also added a moral leavening - Michael and Linc are
goodies, as is C-Note (as the obligatory flashback episode demonstrated)
and, largely, Sucre. T-Bag is about as evil as you can imagine, Abruzzi is
an amoral gangster and the other two (whose names escape me for the moment)
are, respectively, a creepy and insane wild card and a complete prat. Away
from the escape team, there are good guys and bad guys on either side, with
Pope and Bellick representing the two sides of the penal officer coin and a
group of (largely faceless) supporting criminals and officers in between.

Now they're out though, the've lost all that and we do seem to be heading in
the direction of 24 and its enjoyable if ridiculous co-incidences and
insane flashes of character inspiration.

In brief, following Michael Schofield's brilliant breakout along with his
Death Row brother and assorted malcontents the lads have split up and are
all heading seperately to Utah, where $5 million dollars have been hidden
by a now dead con. On their trail is FBI guy William Fischner, a man with
a mind to match Schofield's, and Brad Bellick, previously a prison guard at
Fox river, but now an unofficial bounty hunter following his dismissal for
corruption in the wake of the escape.

It's a decent setup, but sadly the writers have got a bit carried away and,
in order to keep the tension ramped up sufficiently high, have already had
to resort to the level of foolishness so beloved of 24. At the end of the
last season, T-Bag had his hand chopped off with an axe in a dirty shed by
Abruzzi. Not only did he not collapse with shock or bleed to death (or be
re-captured for that matter) he evaded everyone looking for him and
immediately found a handy vet to stitch the hand back on again without
anasthetic. O...K. He then overpowered the vet before he could make his
escape, tied him to a table and injected with some kind of lethal concoction.
O.....K. Finally, he put some blond streaks in his hair using some handy
peroxide (easily the world's least effective disguise), stole the vet's
clothes and his car and headed to Utah. O.............K.

Meanwhile, Haywire (the creepy one, I knew it'd come back to me) appears to
have disappeared on a bicycle and hasn't been seen since (Abruzzi has also
temporarily gone to earth), whilst Tweener (it's all flooding back now) is
pretending to be a student and has snagged a car share to the Mormon state
(which was originally going to be called Deseret, fact fans) - this in spite
of making no attempt to disguise himself even though his face is on every
paper, TV station and wall in the country. Well, whatever.

Let's see, who else? C-Note is at the end of episode 3 sitting outside his own
house but luckily no-one at the FBI is bothering to watch it, even though he
of all the escapees was most likely to head home.

Which leaves us Michael and Linc. Things were looking up in the
believabilty stakes for a while - the boys were recognised by almost the
first person to look at them, Linc got shot in the leg as they made their
escape and although they managed to hide out at Michael's pole-dancing
ex-wife's flat (again, aren't the FBI watching anywhere?) at least the pain
of getting shot wasn't played down in true TV style to a minor inconvenience
- it was played as though it actually hurt a lot.

For a while.

Sadly, after a bit of vodka, a quick bandage and what must be some kind of horse
tranquiliser (lucky the ex-wife had a decent supply of ketamine substitute
in the house) all that was forgotten and Linc was soon jumping about and
crawling into blazing cars without impediment.

Oh yes - the blazing car. Decent enough plan to throw the Feds off their
trail, fake a car crash and all that, but are trained FBI forensic experts
going to be fooled by placing two medium sized plastic bags of blood in the
passenger seats and then setting off what was in truth a pretty minor
explosion? And even though I know it's TV convention to have no-one look up
as escaping men climb a bare hill a hundred yards away from the cops, it
makes it no less annoying. Luckily Bellick had figured out to track the
ex-wife (out of all the people he could have tracked who would seem far more
likely to lead him to Schofield) so at least there'll be something happening
next week.

One good thing - the actress playing the evil Vice-President behind the
framing of Linc refused to appear in the second series (she preusmably read
the scripts) so the annoying Veronica has been shot. If only Obligatory
Troubled US Teen LJ had been killed too, things might have been looking up.

Unfortunately - like the cops at the bottom of the hill up which our heroes are
climbing - it really isn't.


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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Have I told you lately that I'm Busy?

As someone hopefully has noticed, I've been mega-busy lately and as a result haven't posted much on the blog. As I think I've mentioned, I was made redundant at the end of July and - in a Victor Kayam sort of way - took over part of the company. At the same time, in a fit of nepotism gone mad, I was offered a short-term contract in IT which I also took up, thinking that the whole 'made redundant because the copany wasn't making enough money' thing meant that the company I took over...wouldn't make enough money (if you followed that, well done).

But, on the contrary, we're raking in the orders (on for those who fancy putting their faces on a bar of chocolate) which means I basically have two full-time jobs and work from nine in the morning until about two or three the following morning every day. It's quite tiring.

Other than that, life has been pretty quiet :)

I was called up for Jury Service two days after starting my new contract and - in spite of the Clerk of the Court hinting that it was a 'juicy case' - asked, and was allowed, to be excused.

I went to see Hearts play in the UEFA Champions League at Murrayfield against AEK Athens and left with five minutes to go to get back to work - and therefore missed the two late goals which condemned us to a 2-1 defeat (we've now parachuted into the UEFA Cup but due to the 'Lithuanians and Free Transfers Only' signing policy of our clownish owner, Vladimir Romanov, look likely to go out of that competition at the first serious hurdle too).

Our dog, Sandy, ate my copy of Vampire Science which is a shame, because it's a good book even if, as I recently heard it described, it "fellates the TV Movie in a fairly distasteful manner".

I've (very occasionally) been trying to watch West Wing - now on Season 4 and Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn appears to have been sacked from the show or something - certainly he's disappeared from ther titles without warning. The writing remains exceptionally good however - Inauguration is the best double episode of TV I've seen in years - the acting is great (why is it that US TV programmes seem to have an inexhaustible supply of superb actors who you never seem to see in anything else?) and I'm not looking forward to Aaron Sorkin leaving at all.

What else?

Collected Works comes out at the end of the month and is apparently as good as Wildthyme on Top and Life During Wartime (another question - why do Big Finish do better spin-off collections than standard Doctor Who ones?)

About Time 1 is as enjoyable a read as the other sin the series, but it's a little off-putting to read Lawrence Miles of all people witter on about 'pro level fan fiction' when talking about the BBC book series, given that he owes his career pretty much to the same range.

I was supposed to be meeting Paul Magrs and Steve Cole for a drink during the Festival (which might be shameless name-dropping except (a) I've never met either before and didn't this time and (b) Doctor Who fiction is a pretty small world so everybody seems to know everybody else). As it turned out I was stuck working so I couldn't make it, which is a bit of a bummer.

Paul has a new book out though - Never the Bride - which I'll review if Amazon ever get round to sending me my copy.

I think that's about it in what passes for my life at the moment - and I have to go back to work now anyway (on a Saturday - 'the dedication', I hear you all cry!)...

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