Tag Archives: TV

Do TV adaptions kill book sales?

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Phil: As I watched the final episode of Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling, I wondered about the sales of the book it’s based on.

Obviously, JK Rowling (writing as Robery Galbraith) isn’t worried about the royalties, but I’d certainly be interested to see how the sales fare. Surely, most of the joy of any whodunnit is trying to work out who the criminal is, and once you’ve seen it on telly then the secret is blown. OK, you might still enjoy the read but part of your brain is always going to be shouting, “The butler did it!” as the characters bumble arnound trying to solve the crime.

Or does knowledge of the outcome allow you to get on and enjoy the story?

(Note to broadcasters – This isn’t an issue for Kate vs the Dirtboffins, there’s loads more to the book than the whosdoingit aspect, which is why any adaption will be so succesful the other channels will just switch off to save electricity. Please start the bidding war for rights now.)

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Look after your anoraks

AnorakPhil: I’ve been enjoying a bit of catch-up TV recently. I missed out on the BBC show The Detectorists when it first aired, but am nearly at the end of series 1 and looking forward to series 2.

The series revolves around Andy and Lance, two metal detector enthusiasts and their group of friends. What I like most about it is that while the main characters could easily have been figures of fun, they aren’t. In many ways the plots are conventional but built around people’s hobby rather than job. In fact, like most people, their jobs are utterly mundane and merit hardly any attention. Life is lived outside working hours.

Better still, they get to show skill and knowledge, such as Andy knowing exactly how long bones survive in the soil when explaining how a recently discovered skeleton couldn’t be Saxon.

Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times summed it up when he wrote, “Like the ordinary lives it magnifies, Detectorists has the air of seeming to be small and immense at once, to be about hardly anything and almost everything. It is full of space and packed with life.”

Now, you might conclude that I like the show because I’m a bit of an anorak myself. While I have no desire to find bits of metal buried in fields, I do get why this might be interesting to do. There’s nothing wrong with it (OK, archeologists, pipe down) and I’m sure that there is a lot more skill required than waiting for your machine to go ping.

I like the idea that people who it would be easy to turn into the butt of jokes get to be the heroes. Heck, they both have attractive partners and Lance drives a TR7 so living the dream!

Bringing this back to our books, one of my character to look after is Kelvin, our man from IT. He’s a bit of a nerd as befits his role in the firm, but that doesn’t mean he is any sort of joke. Yes, there are a couple of (realistically) embarrassing moments along the way but when you read Kate vs the Navy (out soon!) you’ll find that Kelvin is a bit of a star.

Tracey might say, “Yeah. Kelvin. You know. Bad clothes. Can’t talk to girls. Always there when you need something on your computer fixed.”, but it turns out she was wrong. Very wrong.

 

 

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The 100 – challenging TV

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Candice: I’ve quite got into a TV programme recently.  Its on its third season, as they would say in the States, and I totally missed season one, but I’m currently playing catch up.

What is it about?  Well the premise is 97 years on from a nuclear war, 100 juvenile delinquents are sent back to the Earth from their home in space to find out if it is habitable.  Of course, many things ensue as they find that not everyone was killed and the world has turned into a dog eat dog (or in some cases, human eat human) world.

Into season three and everyone from the ‘Ark’ space station is now on the Earth, but they are locked in battle with the ‘grounders’, those who survived on the ground and are back in more medieval times. We are also now finding out more about how the war actually began.

So far, not that different from other post apocalyptic shows.  However, what I like about this one (apart from the gratuitous shots of Ricky Whittle’s chest, yes the one from HollyOaks!) is that you never know what is going to happen next.

In most of these long running American shows, in each episode the main characters end up in a situation where they might die and then, through a number of twist and turns, they live another day.  With The 100, sometimes they don’t.  I’m not sure how much is writer choice and how much is the way that TV shows are going (I believe Game of Thrones is similar) but it leads to a much more interesting show as you really don’t know if they will survive or not.

I have to say I am hooked, I watched three episodes the other night as I had some time to myself and by the end I’m not sure I can wait for the next one. (especially as I’ve just found out another character dies… I won’t tell you who, but let us just say there will be less abs in the world).

I’m not sure how this would work in a book, as you need to stay engaged with your character from start to end. This works as there are so many main characters that loosing one means you don’t loose interest, you just grab on to another character.

Give it a go, it’s certainly worth a watch.

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Dickensian characters

DickensianPhil: Bit of a catch up post this time. I’ve been meaning to write about the BBC TV series Dickensian for some time but all the book stuff got in the way.

I’m not big on TV series as a rule. Years ago, everyone in the office I worked in was watching “Heroes“. We enjoyed it right up until the end when the plot fell apart and great disappointment ensued. Since then, I’ve never really bothered keeping up with telly stuff.

In the run up to Christmas the BBC heavily advertised their new show. The idea was to take a cast of mostly minor characters from Charles Dickens stories, stick them in a small area of London and off we go.

Dickens aficionados were doubtless horrified but I suspect the man himself would have been perfectly happy. He knew how to write popular stuff. Stores were serialised in print with readers eagerly buying each issue as it appeared.

I had an advantage in that apart from “A Christmas Carol”, I don’t know many of the original works at all. I could enjoy the characters unsullied by notions that someone was ruining a well-loved original story.

Even the first gripping storyline, who killed Jacob Marley, didn’t annoy me. In the book, Marley dies in his bed but here he is murdered by the docks. Does it matter? Not a huge amount. This is almost fan fiction. Suspend disbelief and just let the story move on. At least there is the splendid Inspector Bucket, “Of the detective” and the only actor other than Alistair Sim to make a decent job (in my mind) of playing Scrooge.

Actually, you had to like this because the first episode was full of people who all looked a bit the same but once the Whodunit thread clicked then it was easy to concentrate on it while gradually learning about the other characters. Very clever writing drawing you into what could have been a complicated set of plots without the viewer noticing.

Taking characters written by another author and using them in your own story is surely a compliment. I’d be dead chuffed to find Kate & Co. turning up in stories we hadn’t written. This will take a few books and perhaps the first feature film to happen – after all you need to be immersed in the world of KOD first.

On-line reviews of Dickensain have been largely positive. Professional review were less kind but these were usually written by someone desperate to show that they had read the books and could only accept a pure approach. Me, I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend you look out for repeats or DVDs to binge watch.

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The joy of being published

The Dead Dog DayPhil: I’m not quite sure how I ended up following Jackie Kabler on Twitter. Probably something to do with her having appeared on Midlands Today, my local BBC news service and home to much more interesting presenters than the national news. Remind me to tell you the story about how I shared a canteen with Nick Owen years ago…

Anyway, I’m browsing the Twitterspehere and spot a tweet along the lines of “I’ve got a book deal!”.

This is followed over the next few months by lots more Tweets conveying the excitement of the whole process through edits and re-writes.

The Dead Dog Day is set in a TV newsroom with lead character Cora Baxter being a breakfast TV reporter. If anyone wants an object lesson in writing what you know, here it is.

Regular readers of this blog will now expect me to go off on one about people from the telly getting published when the rest of us struggle, but not this time. It might be years spent as a journalist, but Jackie brilliantly manages to express the excitement any of us wannabe authors would feel to see our words in print.

Truth is, none of us really think we are going to be as rich as Rowling with any book deal, although we wouldn’t mind, we just want to share the story that fell out of our heads. It’s not about the money, the dream is a book with our name on it. Maybe an appearance at a literary festival and some mild PR work but basically, to be in a position where lots of people want to know about a world that existed exclusively in our imaginations until someone else decided they loved it as much as we do.

What I love is seeing someone so giddy with pleasure at making it into print. Admittedly, I’d like the someones to be me and Candice, but that’s only a matter of time. For the moment, it’s fun to enjoy the highs (get deal) and lows (got to write the sequels to a deadline) vicariously.

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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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Cashing in on Christmas

Candice: I watched an interesting program last night on Christmas singles.  There is a big thing in the UK about getting a Christmas number one.  Some have been very successful with it over the years and managed to record a Christmas hit which is still being bought and played 30 years plus later.

A few years ago a had the pleasure of meeting Noddy Holder, the man behind “It’s Christmas” in of the most well-known and well sold Christmas records ever ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’.  Noddy had been presented with a star on the Walk of Stars in Birmingham, the West Midlands equivalent to Hollywood Boulevard (though with less hookers).  We coupled his celebration with one of the Christmas events happening in the city, and nearly caused a riot.  Noddy knew exactly what that record had done for him, he called it his ‘retirement fund’.  And he was happy to pose for photos and shout that famous line as many times as we wanted him to.

Watching this show it demonstrated how the Christmas single had actually been a very clever ploy for certain bands and record companies. This is before the days of X Factor where Simon Cowell just uses it to line his pockets.  Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Calvary’ wasn’t written to be a Christmas song but by including that one line about, “…wish I could be home for Christmas”. tipped it into that favoured slot.

The same can be said for films, ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone’, even ‘Die Hard’ have a Christmas connection, meaning they get bought year on year.

Our book finishes at the Christmas party, with a spectacular entrance by the KOD team and spiked punch.  Should this ever make it into a film I can see the pounds rolling in as it gets shown on ITV7 (or some other obscure channel) every year for time immemorial. Not that this was planned at all…

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