Tag Archives: episodes

Rediscovering a Gem

Candice:  I’ve recently rediscovered a TV show that I used to watch, and am enjoying it again.  I watched the whole of the first series of Episodes and really enjoyed in, lost season two as forget to series link it.  But series three has just started and if by luck its found its way on to my Tivo box.

What is Episodes?  Well the premise is too successful English writers who’s show gets picked up by an American network.  They get transplanted to LA and then the fun begins as the complexities of making shows in Hollywood with big money and big egos kicks in.  Matt LeBlanc plays a great caricature of himself as an arrogant, self centred actor who was once a big deal and now is not.

During the first series, every one fell out with each other, everyone slept with each other, and they all had fun playing the Hollywood game.  At the end of series two the writers were so desperate to go home they were glad when their show got cancelled … but then for the start of series three they are pulled back into the fun as it gets recommissioned out of spite (Matt has landed a part on another show which another network).

The show is dry and subtle funny, I can’t believe some times some of the things they get up to,  but it all feels plausible as we have all been told about how bad it is behind the scenes in LA LA land.  The last episode I watched Matt found out his accountant had screwed him, he got very upset and was wingeing to the two writers.  But they found out he’d only lost half his money, and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t survive in $32m!

Its my kind of funny and I look forward to getting the remote off the other half tonight and seeing what they have been up to this week.

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Does it matter if it’s not a new plotline?

Star Trek 9Phil: Needing something to read on the train a few days ago, I picked up a second-hand book for a couple of quid. Star Trek 9 contains adaptions of 6 episodes from the famous sci-fi TV series. Ideal reading for a modest journey and cheaper and easier to manage than a newspaper.

Story 5 is called “The Return of the Archons” and involves the Enterprise crew searching for the remains of a missing spacecraft. Arriving on a planet, they discover the population appear to be preparing for a “festival” that begins shortly after they arrive at the “Red Hour”. This turns out to be a bacchanalian display of anarchy and violence.

It transpires that the world is being controlled by a computer which keeps the population under control to remove all violence. Realising that this means there won’t be any of the population control usually provided by war, it invented the “Festival” as a way of reducing the overall numbers with an overnight period when all forms of control were shut off , every moral law abrogated and every person sees every other as their enemy.

Now, I’m reading this and find myself reminded of a film from last year I read about: The Purge.

To quote the description in Wikipedia, “Crime and unemployment rates are at an all-time low due to the government having instituted an annual 12-hour period called “the Purge” during which all criminal activity (including murder) becomes legal”

Sound familiar?

It is said that at any time of the day or night, somewhere in the world, there is an episode of Star Trek appearing on television. It’s not too far-fetched to suggest that the writer of The Purge saw The Return of the Archons and somewhere part of the plot lodged in the back of his mind. On the other hand, the concept of a special law-free period for population control isn’t a big leap. Similar concepts have been used in the films Death Race 2000 and Rollerball, although in these dystopian futures, the focus was on a “sport”.

Are there any new ideas out there?

Does it matter?

Perhaps people like to see ideas given a new spin. Both Archons and Purge take a similar concept but use it in very different settings. Possibly, the newer film has the advantage that it is possible to set this in a reasonably contemporary setting whereas years ago, you’d needed it to be on an alien planet for the audience to accept it. Like all good sci-fi, both are really talking about human nature but using a slightly fantasy setting to do it.

All this has got me wondering what hidden influences our book has. Ideas lurking in the back of our minds that have subliminally influenced our writing.

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I love Dr Who, but hate the sonic screwdriver

Dr Who?Phil: It’s no secret that Team Nolanparker are Dr Who fans. Over lunch last week I was quizzing Candice about the finer details of her trip around the Dr Who Experience in Cardiff.

Apparently the first part is really good where you take part in an “interactive experience” after which you go through the “more anoraky” display of props and costumes, which sounds more fun to me but then I am the more anoraky half of our team.

Anyway, we are both looking forward to the 50th Anniversary Episode this weekend. There will be no painting or kitchen fitting going on in one Solihull household from ten to eight on Saturday. Sadly, I’ll probably be on the train back from the NEC so I’ll have to record it, but this doesn’t greatly worry me. I have reservations about the thing.

In the good old days of Tom Baker (the best Doctor obviously), stories were long, 4 to 6 episodes, and the plot cerebral. The Doctor plotted and schemed his way out of trouble.

Modern Who fans want everything tied up in 45 minutes with lots of flashing lights, noise, a bit of tonsil hockey with the companion and the thud of a story arc landing. That doesn’t leave much space for plot so the writers have taken to employing a deus ex machina in the form of the sonic screwdriver. From a rarely used prop (Jon Pertwee was the first to have one but you hardly saw it), the thing is now brandished like a Wands up!magic wand. It unlocks doors, boost mobile phone signals, scans bodies and anything else that needs to be done without all the trouble of coming up with a convincing way of doing this. Basically, we get 35 minutes in, out comes the screwdriver and hooray, after a little more running down corridors, we’re all done.

Which brings me to “The Day of the Doctor“. Trailers show David Tennant and Matt Smith brandishing their screwdrivers at an advancing army. All I think when I see this is “it’s bloody Harry Potter”.

The Doctor doesn’t need a magic wand. He needs brains and cunning and ingenuity. He’s a clever man with 900 years of experience to help him get out of trouble. In the good old days, and even some of the modern ones, he thought his way out of a scrape. For the modern era, two of the best episodes are Blink and Dalek and in both the screwdriver stays in the pocket.

Duh cter WhoOf course, the world has changed. Modern viewers (apparently) can’t handle a storyline running across 4 episodes. Everything really must be wrapped up in 45 minutes. Harry Potter was massively popular so turning your main character into a sci-fi wizard works well for an audience educated at Hogwarts. And it’s only a telly programme so I should stop being so grumpy.

I’m sure the 50th anniversary episode will be worth a million X-Factor shows. I’m really looking forward to “An Adventure in Space and Time“, a drama about the creation of the series. Re-runs of old episodes were a much better option for Friday night telly than Children In Need last week too. More to the point, it’s great that we can still produce big-budget drama that doesn’t involve miserable cockneys. Best of all, it appeals to all age groups, something very rare nowadays.

But you’ll have to excuse me if I wish the Dr would learn to use a lock pick. Or even just blow the bloody doors off.

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