Saturday, January 06, 2007

Turn up the volume

Bit of a swagger really, this post. The new year begins with news that my new collection of poems, A Book of Lives, has been accepted for publication, and I'm waiting for the contract. It's been a lean time between slim volumes, although I have kept my hand in with magazine one-offs, anthologies and so on. So I'm not finished yet.

Perhaps this will even bestir me to sort out the problems with the damn screenplay, bloody frustrating because it is really just one scene I can't crack. It happens to affect a lot of others, otherwise I'd just try faking it, skidding over it. Sid Field's Screenwriters' Problem Solver points out it's a problem of structure. Very helpful I'm sure, since the (very ambitious) structure of the script is one of its big selling points .... Oh, was I thinking out loud?

Bought the box set of Rome: Season 1 yesterday. It's a whacking great thing, and once you remove the outer sleeve, you find an actual box, made of some composite, probably from paper pulp, but which gives a fair sense of "boxness". I have't seen any of it before, because of the lateness of the hour when it was broadcast, with an 18SNVL rating -- the full set of sex, nudity, violence and language, yay! Now I will try to ration myself to one episode at a time, although there are a lot of 'em, raising the danger of overrunning the second season.

While on this subject, does anyone know when or, indeed, if there will be a second season of Life on Mars? After a favourable mention by Pashmina, I bought the first season at HIV while in London in May. Now I have two copies, because it had slipped my mind that I had already advance-ordered it from Amazon. To my great irritation, the secod copy arrived shortly after my return. So I lent my set out to friends and gave the Amazon box to my daughter. Now they all plead piteously for news of a second go-round.

The series did not make it on to BBC World, due to a schedule gunged up by almost daily episodes of Keeping Up Appearances and other old favourites. Are we really so unsophisticated in the colonies? The only new arrival is Cutting It, which seemed very lame and silly judging from the single episode I watched. However, the new Lynda LaPlante series The Commander is on another channel late at night. Spiffing, especially the formidable Amanda Burton, but past my bedtime. So I am now the owner of a settop box with 80 hrs of recording time, so I can "time-shift" all the stuff I haven't got time to catch -- and then sit looking at the playlist and wondering how I am ever going to watch all of it anyway.

Other interesting TV stuff: Invasion (aliens splash down to breed with our wimmin, an ancient plot updated very well). Curious coincidence, the arriving hurricane bringing the alien hordes is called Miranda, which is what I called the one in my SF screenplay (with The Tempest as its template). So I'll have to hope Ariel doesn't get taken before I can get greenlighted (yeah, right). In Justice: law firm takes on unjust convictions, headed by Kyle McLachlan, whose abundant sweeping black hair is starting to look like a stealth jet. It's very amusing to see him trying to do "emotion". And I've become addicted to House. I missed it first time round, when I was on a "no-TV" diet, but the "Series Channel" is rerunning the first series. I fear Hugh Laurie is destroying his vocal cords with that coffee-grinding bass baritone. Ian McShane is also swimming back on to our screens in that stream of fascinating filth that is D
eadwood. It's a bit disconcerting because I keep on thinking of him as the lovable rascal in Lovejoy.

Why I am watching so much TV is painfully obvious. I can kid myself it may trigger an idea of how to solve my structure problem ...


Blogger Wyndham said...

Deadwood is ace, although I found Invasion very slow and featuring, besides, my least-favourite alien lifeforms - water-based bodystealers. However, me and the missus are currently bingeing on six seasons of what must surely be the best tv series ever: the Sopranos.

5:33 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

Any SF gratefully received around here, since I'm an addict(mostly fiction). There is a great oneliner in Invasion:

Woman pregnant with alien brood has ultrasound. "Looks like you're having a litter," comments doctor.

I must say that the first season of The Sopranos was electrifying because of its bold step across the line. But once that thrill had worn off, I found I could take it or leave it.

Have you seen A Scanner Darkly? Fantastic. The first true PK Dick movie. None of the others captured the haunting blend of the mundane and the extraordinary.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Wyndham said...

Dave, we're going to have to have words again. You've got to watch The Sopranos - after the five series it is simply the most-layered and astonishingly detailed series I've ever watched, and the characters, most of them at least, are incredibly complicated. Nowhere else will you find a minor plot signpost, left hanging for three or four seaons, explode into life.

I'm a big fan of Dick - so to speak - and am looking forward to seeing A Scanner Darkly. I take it you've read The Man In the High Castle. If you haven't, please buy.

And is your SF screenplay Forbidden Planet by any chance?

1:28 AM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

I hear what you're saying and I don't really dispute it, in fact I watched the second season and the odd episode thereafter. But I just couldn't get into it the way I did the first season.

As regards PK Dick, I have read and collected everything including the straight novels, which are based on the same Dick template of character, delusion, reality-twisting etc and thus have curious resonance. Best of these is the semi-autobiographical Confessions of a Crap Artist. In addition I recommend very highly Michael Bishop's artful homage novel, Philip K Dick Is Dead, Alas. Talk about po-mo!

An interesting way to approach PKD is to project his novels on to the nascent kookdom of southern California in the late fifties and early sixties, which is where he drew his characters and material for SF satire. Martian Timeslip, perhaps his most remarkable SF novel (and which really ought to be filmed) is pretty well that milieu transported to the Red Planet.

8:44 PM  
Blogger The Birdwatcher said...

If you get the chance have a look at Torchwoood. It has been on the BBC in the UK over the past three months. Its a spin off from the revitalised Dr Who series. Excellent!

3:00 AM  

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