Unfinished pilot script - Tempest/Leagues: Underwater Steampunk Science Fiction

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A while ago I wrote a pilot script for a science fiction series.  Well, more a Steampunk series.  The concept was Firefly crossed with Steampunk set underwater in a society that lives entirely in the oceans of the Earth (the surface rendered uninhabitable by an unknown catastrophe.

It's sort of space travel/privateers/smugglers set underwater in the future.  The working title was Tempest and/or Leagues depending on my mood.

However I never finished the first draft, and I keep hitting a wall whenever I go back to it along the lines of 'Who'd want to watch something like this?' and I have no idea how to push it any further (both in writing and even attempting to get it 'filmed').  So rather than leave it languishing on my hard drive for an eternity I thought I'd publish it here as an 'unfinished tale'.

Shame really because I did actually plot out an entire five season arc for this setting with a mix of one off stories and ongoing metaplot.

It's located here for your perusal.

(Obviously all rights on this one are reserved etc etc, as this is my work - even if it is rough.)

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Doctor Who - "Let's Kill Hitler"

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I'm writing the first paragraph for this prior to watching the episode.  This is because I'm not entirely certain that 'Let's Kill Hitler' is going to be a classic piece that I'll recall fondly for the years to come.  The previous half series of Doctor Who was a wildly inefficient piece that paled compared to the series before it.  There was a great deal of effort expended in making sure that the metaplot hung together, but instead of being subtle and mysterious like the scene from 'Forest of the Dead' it came across as forced and ham-fisted - the very traits that cause me to have an issue with 'Bad Wolf'.  As a consequence I'm not completely certain that the remaining part of the series is going to hold up well.  Mix in the title of this episode, a tired trope if there ever was one, and it doesn't look good.

On the other hand...  Steven Moffat must know that people would fear the title as being old hackneyed ground.  So maybe he has something special planned.

Lets come back after watching the episode.


Sigh.  No.

While the episode did indeed sidestep the tired trope of time travelling to kill Hitler, by virtue of stashing the dictator in a cupboard and then forgetting about him. (Just as well considering his accent that threatened to dismantle the illusion of reality - yes, yes I know the TARDIS translates, but come on).  It really wasn't what it should have been.

I wanted to like the episode, I wanted to enjoy it as much as Dan Owen clearly did (http://danowen.blogspot.com/2011/08/doctor-who-68-lets-kill-hitler.html).  However I find myself leaning more towards Myle's take on the episode (http://cultural-learnings.com/2011/08/27/fall-premiere-doctor-who-lets-kill-hitler/).  Except a bit more brutal in my thoughts and feelings.

Some of the good points first. Most of the good moments, revolve around Rory.  I'm pleased he's evolved beyond the Moffat-Man-Child archtype that most leading men he writes fall under.  In fact I'm sold on (Arthur Darvill) as the reluctant hero, I'd go to see an action film just on the strength that he was in the leading role.  His Nazi sucker punches channeled pure (pre-Nuke) Indiana Jones and his Miniaturisation Ray observation was spot on and hilarious.

Matt Smith also had his fair share of strong moments, the Doctor stopping off to change into top hat and tails, complete with Sonic Cane was a wonderful touch.  However it was impossible to feel any real sense of danger for him, we've already got the Sword of Damocles hanging over us in the spaceman shooting.  Threatening his existence even further doesn't really ramp up the tension, it instead makes me feel frustrated and worn out.

Speaking of which, the show is in vast danger of becoming overwhelmed by this series's mystery.  I, for one, am getting more than a little tired with it.  It's sucking the fun out of the show.  Please, I want more of 'The Doctor's Wife' and less of 'The Doctor's Death'.

Karen Gillan was relegated a little to the sidelines here, yes she got to play a robot simulacrum of herself.  Run around a bit, look in danger and then act in a way that would have murdered several hundred people if they hadn't had an escape button (is it OK for a companion to intend to murder people but fail through no fault of her own?  I'm not sure...)  This is no bad thing, it's nice to have focus on other characters at times, Amy Pond is a cracking character, but so is Rory and The Doctor.

On to the elephant in the room.  Melody, Amy's friend (Ret-conned into the plot a little ham-fistedly, but I'll over look that) - aka Melody Pond, Amy's Daughter - aka after a gut shot regeneration Melody Pond II (Pre-River Song).

I'm sorry, I really am, but I am tired of Alex Kingston, sick and tired of her performance and her character as a whole.  Once it was interesting and sweet, but her delivery of lines has grated on me to the point that I'm tempted to watch Silence in the Library again just so I can see her die once and for all.  The concept is fun, the character is well written, but at the end of it - it just does nothing but tire me.  If there were more Doctor Who episodes per series I'd probably be pressing the 'Skip' button the moment I see her on screen.  Datura (the lovely wife) agrees with me, she's also sick of River Song.  I'm hoping that this half series wraps things up and we get to move on from her.

The problem from here on in is this, there's not much else to the episode - it was an episode that started out as a cheeky time travelling trope that should really be left alone (but could be fun) and degenerated into little more than a vehicle for River Song and more mysterious hints.  Outside of the Justice department (which made me think of Red Dwarf's Inquisitor) there was little else to the episode - apart from Rory punching Hitler.  That was pretty fun.

So, 'Let's Kill Hitler' was not the episode I hoped it would be, it hasn't moved the series away from the rather awful end of the first half and at this point Doctor Who is in serious danger of drowning in its own mythos.  That's almost ironic, because I've always wanted more ongoing story lines in the show, I just wanted them to be more like Murder One or The Shield (interesting, balanced with other items) not murky and frustrating (like Lost became in the second season).

Where's the show I loved gone?
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"A Bit of Fry and Laurie"

By Rev/Views
I don't like sketch shows, it's a personal preference - I like shows with an ongoing narrative that builds on previous stories or character experiences.  That's one of the things which frustrates me about many sitcoms from the 70s to 90s and it's also what frustrates me about Big Bang Theory (and it's poor butchered older uncle Two and a Half Men) - the philosophy that 'at the end of the episode everything is back to the status quo' is tired, low risk and ultimately doomed to stagnation.

One thing you can't accuse great sketch shows of is stagnation - most sketch shows go one of two routes, they either milk the same jokes over and over (Fast Show, Little Britain) and only achieve any genuine laughs from me when they break that mold.  Or they mix things up with a variety of fresh material (Monty Python's Flying Circus).

So when - to borrow a phrase from Rob Buckley (http://www.the-medium-is-not-enough.com/) - the lovely wife suggested that we watch *finger wiggle* A Bit of Fry and Laurie *close finger wiggle*  I was a bit dubious.  On one hand I adored Jeeves and Wooster, love Hugh Laurie's work in House and consume anything Stephen Fry related whenever possible.  But on the other hand my tastes and genre orientation for television viewing was not favorably disposed towards the situation.

So she started watching by herself, from the second season.

I picked up little bits here and there while doing other stuff about the place.

Soon I found myself sitting down and paying attention rather than doing other things.

And from here I think even the most Watson* of you detectives out there will be able to put the pieces together.

I rather came to enjoy it, a great deal, which was a nice surprise because the show does have a great deal of reoccurring sketches, catchphrases and gags.  However.  However, I did notice that there was a development in some of the sketches, a sort of timeline/narrative that continued from one sketch to the next.   There was also an evolution of the jokes used in the ongoing sketches as well - Control and Tony being something of a favourite around the household, but I also enjoyed

The show echoes 'The Two Ronnies' in its style with elaborate and exquisite word play and bouts of verbal diarrhea that are close to poetry.  But the thing which is most outstanding and unusual about the show is its relative timelessness.  Hugh and Stephen have (sadly) both aged, and the filming quality, sets and guests certainly date the show, but the sketches and the topics that were targeted in them still remain relevant to this day.  On one hand that's an awesome achievement for the show, on the other hand its not really a great commendation for the progress of British society.  We're still struggling with the same problems we had twenty years ago.

Yes, that's right.  'A Bit of Fry and Laurie'.  Still relevant on topical issues.

The fourth series is the longest and weakest of the bunch, the BBC forced Fry and Laurie to bring in regular guest stars and with a few exceptions this dilutes the quality of the show.  Caroline Quentin is one of the few exceptions, but her comedic talents speak for themselves elsewhere and for the most part all they achieve is a few semi-funny jokes and some rather flat air time.

Apart from this fourth series wobble the show is quality, comedy gold.  There are numerous sketches and phrases that hang with you for a long time afterwards and to me, that's the mark of a successful show.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to mix up "A Short Blog post by a Returning Author" for M'guests to drink.  So please Mr Music, will you play?

*Comedy Watson of course, not the clever chap he can be, I mean the one who can't tell the difference between clues and jam.
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Fall Approaches!

By Rev/Views
Just in case you were wondering if I'd done the old classic blog 'I'm back' -> 'Can't think of anything to write' start/stop thing that does happen.  Don't worry (as if you were worrying that is!)  Things got a little messed up with the delay to internet access here and I ended up getting back online a scant week before my wedding.

Well the dust is settled, I'm just back from the honeymoon and I'll be working on getting the wheels rolling again on this blog.  My ultimate aim is three times a week with an update (more if I manage mini-updates).  However, we're not yet into the world of Fall Television, so material will probably be a little weaker in quality and quantity until then.

For the moment I'm going to get on some research and figure out what shows to watch!
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Community: The Sophomore Season

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Sometimes I feel that my watching of television is an endless quest to find replacement shows for old favourites.  I've tried out shows like Boardwalk Empire and Treme to replace The Wire and Southlands to replace The Shield and each time I've only found middling success.  However, Community has filled one hole - the one left be the ending of first Seinfeld and later Arrested Development.

Community's first season was a magical journey of realisation about how superb comedy is still out there being produced.  It was a season that mixed bitter cynical humour with optimism and light hearted comedy.  The second season had one hell of a bar to reach.

Spoilers:  It raised it.  In fact it raised the roof and threw it into the neighbours garden.  Crushing a small shed in the process.

I don't know how the third season is going to manage to top the second one, the season managed to introduce exciting new support characters, continue running jokes, bring new ones in and provide not only a stop motion episode but also a zombie movie, a western, Star Wars and more besides.

Starting with the gang returning to Greendale after the summer break we follow on from the events of the last season.  Senor Chang is no longer a teacher, Jeff and the guys are now studying Anthropology together instead of Spanish and things have both changed and stayed the same.  Jeff's relationship status is 'resolved' and everything kicks up into a higher gear.

There are just so many highlights in this season; "Basic Rocket Science" provides a superb space film homage; the superb "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" features good old Dean Pelton in a story so twisty that you'll stop caring about understanding what's happening and just enjoy the fun and "Paradigms of the Human Memory" puts a fresh spin on the clip show.

But the personal favourites for myself were "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" and the two part season finale which built on the brilliant paintball episode of the previous season ("Modern Warfare") with a first part that homages the Western Genre and a second part that just gives up pretending to homage and rips huge sections of Star Wars off - the best sections I might add.

As before, performances are class throughout - While Chevy Chase is known to be a bit of a handful off screen, his delivery on screen is spectacular and the use of Pierce as a villainous foil to the group works exceptionally well.  Likewise Senor Chang's new role is possibly better than his original one, the mixture of adoration and hate he has for Abed and Company is something to really relish.  But for me, the best part is the increased role Professor Ian Duncan has John Oliver is a class act all the way, and he's just perfect in Community, rating alongside
Professor Eustice Whitman (the brilliant John Michael Higgins) as one of my favourite characters in the show outside of the main cast.

I dared to hope that the second season would surpass the first one, and it did.  Last time I wrote about Community I called it the best sitcom on air right now.  I feel justified in this opinion, it's sheer class.
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Back for another one of those block watching treats!

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Television, TeeVee, TV ah how I've missed you my longtime companion.

Needless to say, at times life gets in the way of ones passions, writing became a real difficulty, then an obligation, then finally a chore.  At this point I knew it was time to take something of a break.

I hope it's done me a little good and I do feel energised sitting here in the mess that will eventually become my new home office.  Unfortunately, at this stage I'm a little out of it and behind the curve where it comes to television shows.  I've been forced in recent months to rely on my collection of DVDs rather than enjoying new shows, as a consequence I find myself in a bit of a bind - I don't have any new material to go over until September and I seem to have missed huge swathes of shows I used to watch.  I've got no idea what Torchwood was like, I've missed two seasons of Parks and Recreation, the latest season of so many shows...  And I'm still waiting to find the drama show with enough teeth and depth to capture my imagination the way my old favourites have done in the past.

Cream cheese and crackers that's starting to sound very negative isn't it?

Well, it's not.  First up, I'm looking forward to playing catch up on my favourite shows.  Secondly I have something of a fresh perspective on life and I'm hoping that it'll breathe a little life into the old blog.

And most importantly of all, I did keep up to date with one show in particular.  Community.  Good Old King of the Mother Fucking Situation Comedies Community.

That's the subject for Wednesday's post - Community's second season.  The highs, the delights, the excitement, the lows (i.e. the season actually finishing).

Until then, the plan is as follows - updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with a possible interruption next week because I'm a) getting married and b) going to Germany for a couple of weeks - but I hope to have some stuff written up in advance to cover that situation).  I'm hoping to source a co-writer for some Friday updates, but that depends on her.

Until Wednesday, keep your eyes open and your televisions tuned.  Or your internet connection streaming content - whichever works best for you.
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