Friday, 31 March 2006

CARNIVALE - Season 2

I'm finally getting round to watching the second season of HBO's Carnivale. I became aware of this show last year and tore through the first season DVD. I've always been drawn to supernatural good versus evil stories, and Carnivale is a fine example of the genre.

Carnivale follows a travelling carnival across the Dust Bowl of America, focusing on Ben Hawkins, a mysterious 18-year-old fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and Brother Justin, the charismatic, shadowy evangelist who will ultimately cross his path. The series takes place at a time of worldwide unrest, with evil on the rise around the globe and the Great Depression wreaking economic and social havoc across the country...

As you'd expect from HBO (makers of The Sopranos, Sex & The City and Deadwood), the quality of the production is exemplary throughout. The actors are also brilliant, particularly Nick Stahl (Terminator 3), Clancy Brown (Highlander), Clea Duvall (The Grudge) and Michael J. Anderson (the backward-talking dwarf in David Lynch's Twin Peaks).

Of course, Carnivale was cruelly cancelled last year. The slow, deliberate pace of the first season wasn't to everyone's taste, and even though the second season apparently improves on this perceived flaw, it was too late by then. It's ratings, ratings, ratings in the US of A, folks!

Just to rub salt in the wound, I've heard season 2 ends on a cliffhanger that will never be resolved, but that won't stop me enjoying another 12 episodes of a fantastic show. I urge you to buy the first season DVD and catch season 2 on the UK's Sci-Fi Channel (if it's repeated). If you loved Twin Peaks and the similarly ill-fated American Gothic, you won't regret it...

Thursday, 30 March 2006

JAMES CAMERON - "AVATAR" (a.k.a Project 880)

The self-proclaimed King Of The World is about to make his belated return to movies. Cameron is an extraordinary filmmaker with great vision and ambition. His credentials are undeniably impressive: The Terminator (1984), a sci-fi milestone that gave the world Arnold Schwarzenegger; Aliens (1986), a horror classic that earned Sigourney Weaver an Oscar nomination; The Abyss (1989), underrated underwater sci-fi that paved the way for CGI; Terminator 2 (1991), a visually stunning spectacle; True Lies (1994), enjoyable espionage action-fest; and Titanic (1997), the blockbuster behemoth ($1.8 billion, and counting...)

The chances are at least one of your favourite movies is a Cameron movie. For fans of science-fiction he's especially revered -- as Aliens and the Terminator movies are still highly regarded works that still influence pop culture in films, TV and video games.

So the fact Cameron's been absent from the multiplexes for 10 years is a crying shame. Of course, if you're lucky enough to live near an IMAX theatre, you may have caught Cameron's underwater documentaries: Ghosts Of The Abyss (2003) and Aliens Of The Deep (2005). In these movies Cameron has been experimenting with a new 3D camera system (the Fusion Camera). But this isn't some silly Spy Kids 3D-style gimmick where audiences wear glasses and the actors constantly try and poke you in the eye!

This is 3D as it has always been dreamed... and it's coming soon, if Cameron has his way... and based on plenty of on-set accounts, he tends to get his way all the time...

James Cameron is committed to bringing 3-dimensional films to the world. The technology is now there -- in fact, Cameron's Fusion Camera was used to film a U2 concert recently. But, to show the footage, cinemas need to be expensively upgraded. It will mean a massive overhaul for the industry... and such a significant change requires a seminal 3D movie that paying audiences demand to see as it was intended. So, step forward Project 880...

Ah, yes, the fabled "Project 880" -- essentially, whatever the next Cameron movie will be. Well, it now looks likely that the first Cameron film since Titanic will be Avatar -- a sci-fi love story set on a distant planet. The "scriptment" to Avatar (a half-script, half novella) written by Cameron has been circulating the internet for a few years now... but is being hunted down and wiped by Cameron's legal people. All good signs that Avatar is about to be born.

Luckily, I have read Avatar's scriptment. It is mindblowingly epic. If the written word is translated successfully to screen, this will be a massive undertaking for any director -- let alone a director committed to creating this world in 3D! But, if you've read Terminator 2's script, you'll agree that Cameron's imagination doesn't make compromises during the filming process.

I won't give too much away about Avatar, so don't worry about spoilers. It's set in a future where the Earth's ecosystems have polluted to near-destruction. Mankind exists in massively overpopulated cities. It's a nightmare for anyone unlucky enough to be born in this era. However, a glimmer of hope exists on a distant planet called Pandora - a strange alien utopia that contains a rare superconductive metal invaluable to humanity.

Our hero, Josh, learns that his twin brother was involved in a project that visits Pandora using "avatars". These avatars are genetic hybrids of humans and a primitive native race indiginous to the planet. They're expensive to create, so after Josh's brother dies... Josh is the only genetic match to "handle" the avatar. Handling basically involves uploading your consciousness into the body of this alien/human hybrid (avatar) and thus gain its great strength and athletic abilities. This is essentially the only practical way humans can survive the Pandoran environment.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Avatar introduces us to plenty of otherworldy creatures and geographic abnormalities on Pandora, as well as some impressive futuristic technology. The crux of the story is that Josh falls in love with a native alien called Zuleika and eventually sides with the natives when it becomes clear humanity's presence on Pandora will eventually result in ecological collapse. Cue a massive war between the human war-machine and the native population across epic alien vistas.

A stunning scriptment. It should make an equally amazing script. And, in Cameron's hands, the resulting film will be -- believe me -- unlike anything you've ever seen. The fact it will also be in 3D is just... mindblowing!!

After Avatar, Cameron is also hoping to film a movie adaptation of hit anime Battle Angel Alita -- about a cybernetic warrior -- also in 3D. Battle Angel Alita could also form a trilogy for Cameron, something he's never achieved (but is in vogue thanks to Matrix and Lord Of The Rings). Following that will come Dive, another romantic story in 3D -- this time set in the world of freediving (deep sea diving without equipment).

All this is very exciting news for lovers of movies. You know when a decade ends and you can't imagine movies getting much better? Well, something always comes along that changes your perception about what can be achieved. The first truly 3D feature-length movie will be the next step for movies, clearly. The sad thing is... once it happens, all your favourite 2D movies are going to look very flat visually! But I'm sure 3D-upgrades will be the order of the day. The first 7 minutes of Star Wars Episode IV has already been upgraded as a test. Imagine Lord Of The Rings, Matrix, and Jurassic Park in 3-dimensions!!

Oh yes, the King Of The World is about to reclaim his throne. Watch this space...

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

For anyone unaware, this blog is a daily companion to Dan's Movie Digest - my weekly movie news update hosted by Dom Robinson's DVD Fever.

Issue #165 of DMD is now available, with news on Lucy Liu's Charlie Chan, spoof Farce Of The Penguins, Alan Moore's Watchmen, and the latest US and UK box-office charts!


Finally got my copy of Stephen King's latest book - Cell. Like many people I've been a fan of Stephen King for years now, but haven't actually read much of his work! Of his forty-odd published works, I can only remember reading Misery, 'Salem's Lot, Pet Semetary, Night Shift and Desperation!

It's a sad state of affairs, I know...

The reason for my King deficit is quite simple. I've never felt the need to read the books, because of all the movie and TV adaptations! Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (disliked by King) remains one of my favourite movies of all time, The Green Mile was a decent film, The Shawshank Redemption is a classic, I remembering being freaked out by moments in the It mini-series with Tim Curry, caught most of The Stand mini-series on TV, Carrie was very unsettling during its Prom sequence, Misery with James Caan was also very enjoyable, and The Shining mini-series was interesting, yet inferior to Kubrick's reworking...

Adaptations of King's novels come in for criticism from his fans, but the movie/TV examples above are all worthy of praise. I'm sure King's original material is just as brilliant (if not better) but I can't read a book of a movie I've seen -- unless it particularly struck a chord with me. As it is, though, I don't care if I never read The Shining or Carrie. I know what happens in those stories, so they hold no surprises for me.

Conversely, I don't care if I never see the movie versions of 'Salem's Lot or Pet Semetary... because I've read the books. Just one of those things. Perhaps I should read the stories that became bad movies -- The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher, Thinner, etc? Hmmm.

Cell concerns a "pulse" signal sent to every mobile (er, cell) phone on the planet, turning every mobile phone user into a homocidal maniac. The book has already been picked up for movie adaptation by Eli Roth (Hostel), and its plot has a vague similarity to Spiral - the TV spec script I'm working on myself. So reading Cell can also be considered research for me -- to see how King dealt with his "end of the world" scenario...

A review of Cell will be posted on DMDB in due course. I'm only a few chapters in, but... so far, so bloody...

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

PRISON BREAK - Channel Five

Channel Five is still the unsightly son of terrestrial TV in the UK, but it has imported some good US drama recently. I've never seen many CSI episodes, but I'm aware it's a phenomeon in its native land, and attracts a lot of viewers for Five (in all its spin-off guises). But, more interesting to me is House with England's own Hugh Laurie and Five's most recent purchase - Prison Break.

Prison Break stars Wentworth Miller as Michael Scofield, a genius structural engineer who gets himself jailed in the same penitentiary as his brother, Lincoln Burrows, who's on Death Row for assassinating the Vice President's brother. Lucky for Lincoln that sibling Michael has tattoo'd the blueprints for the prison all over his body, and is clever enough to plot a daring escape...

I saw the Pilot episode of Prison Break last summer, and wasn't particularly impressed. Directed by Brett Rather (X-Men 3), the premiere episode was certainly slick - despite some temporary visuals on my copy - but beyond its premise... nothing really stuck in my memory. I actually thought the prison seemed quite tame when compared to prisons depicted in movies such as The Shawshank Redemption or HBO's unsung classic Oz.

However, I gave the show another chance on Five, and am glad I did. It's very often quite implausible and silly, but curiously entertaining and addictive. However, while I'm a convert to the show, I still think the show is doomed to failure.

Why? Well, quite simply -- I still have no idea how they can possibly squeeze five years' mileage from the premise! Five years being the standard length of time US networks want shows to last before they have enough episodes so "syndicate" the series nationwide.

Prison Break was dismissed early on in its genesis for this longevity reason. Executives just didn't think the premise could last the distance. The show was therefore reworked as a potential film, to star Bruce Willis (amongst other candidates), but this never came to fruition. Then, thanks to the success of serial dramas like 24 and Lost, Fox rethought their decision...

At time of writing, the success of Prison Break has prompted executives to give the show a full season (it was originally slated for 13 episodes only), with a second season on the way (they begin shooting in June). I've heard that the writers themselves have reluctantly admitted they have no idea how to prolong the show past season 2, which doesn't fill me with confidence...

Given the show's initial 13-episode run, the show has certainly been very exciting and pacy in recent weeks (a mass riot being a standout), but I think the writers have won their full season at the expense of rushing the plot. The "conspiracy" angle to the show (which I'm personally not particularly interested in, strangely...) is also steaming ahead at full speed.

So where does this leave the show? In danger of giving us one great season of TV and four years of padding, that's where. Of course, Prison Break would have definitely made a better movie, or a great mini-series... but the greedy Fox execs are clamouring for a Lost-style juggernaut.

It will be interesting to see where the show goes. Will you still be interested watching Wentworth Miller dig a tunnel four years from now?

Monday, 27 March 2006


The Ricky Gervais penned episode of The Simpsons has just aired in the US, to worryingly indifferent reviews from fans. UK viewers should see the episode soon on Sky One, but its disappointing early word has been so drab.

Many had thought an injection of British wit from The Office comedian would guarantee a brief return to form for the show after years in the doldrums. Yes, while The Simpsons is still held with great affection, wins countless Top 100 comedy/cartoon lists, and will always be one of the most influential comedy series ever, ever made... it's been pretty damn terrible for a good seven years now.

You can always tell within seconds if you're watching a new (unfunny) Simpsons episode. The yellow in the drawings is always much brighter, for one, but the story will undoubtedly be puerile and convoluted (The Simpsons go to Japan, for no realistic reason, etc.)

After so many years in production, the show is definitely reaching its limits. The axe hasn't fallen purely because it's still a very successful series everywhere it's shown, and there are so many repeat showings of the older (funnier) episodes that most viewers don't realize the current quality is very, very low...

It doesn't help that South Park, another long-running cartoon, continues to find innovative and controversial ways to offend (the recent scientology debacle is still ongoing thanks to Isaac Hayes' departure...), the average Family Guy episode can deliver nine times the gags, and even American Dad seems more prescient with its terrorist/governmental themes.

All these shows owe The Simpsons a debt of gratitude, as do a generation of comedians and writers, and while I'm hopeful the Simpsons' movie (yes, it really is happening finally) will be the kick in the arse the TV series needs... I'd rather see it end on a high than limp to a slow, pitiful, death...

It will be interesting to see if Ricky Gervais' episode just didn't translate well with the Americans when it comes to Sky One soon... but in the meantime, check out this wonderful clip from The Conan O'Brien Show with Dan Castallenetta (Homer) and Harry Shearer (Mr Burns) doing all the voices... and "improvising" a very funny scene between Dr Hibbert and Homer!

See it

Sunday, 26 March 2006


Heat Vision & Jack was a 1999 pilot for Fox. It was directed by Ben Stiller, but back in '99 Stiller was still the guy whose claim to fame was directing box-office turkey The Cable Guy, so Fox didn't show much faith with the oddball concept of the show. Little did they know it starred US comedians that would come to dominate Hollywood in the 00's...

HV&J is about Jack Austen (Jack Black), an astronaut with super-intelligence caused by a botched space mission, who goes on the run from NASA and villain Ron Silver (er, Ron Silver), with the help of his talking motorcycle Heat Vision (voiced by Owen Wilson).

It's a pastiche of silly 70's/80's sci-fi adventure shows like Knight Rider and The Six Million Dollar Man, in the same comedic style you'd expect from Black, Stiller and Wilson's involvement.

Fans of UK Channel 4 show Garth Merenghi's Darkplace will know the territory... and, thanks to the internet, the acclaimed Pilot is now available from YouTube
here. You can also check out a fansite here. Enjoy!!

- Is that blood?
- The blood of tomatoes.
LOST - S02-E16 - The Whole Truth


A decent episode from Lost, although there's very rarely an episode that isn't interesting on some level. I'm not a big fan of the Sun and Jin flashbacks, but The Whole Truth managed to blend some of their previous flashbacks into a more cohesive backstory that was quite rewarding.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for some other characters with patchy histories...

Regarding Lost's second season itself, much is being made by US fans about the show's direction. I'm not really sure what all the fuss is about, as the second season has certainly progressed the show by revealing the contents of The Hatch, introduced many new characters, lost a few, and deepened the mystery with the Dharma Institute angle, while still retaining enough secrets to make the mystery worth returning to each week.

I think a lot of negative feedback is actually arising due to the incessant breaks Lost is taking during its run. March was particularly bad, with a two-week hiatus. There is a legitimate reason for these breaks, of course; the network need guaranteed new episodes for the "sweeps" periods in November, February and May, so the producers are forced to take breaks in their weekly schedule to keep sufficiently ahead of the game.

Creating an episode of Lost is a logistical nightmare (flashback continuity, returning guest actors, location filming, etc.), not to mention a headache for the writers who have a weekly deadline to write a script! It's actually amazing the scheduling gaps aren't much longer!

Therefore, I think a lot of the criticism of Lost is due to these breaks. A bad (or, more accurately, uninspiring) episode has time to linger in audiences' memory, whereas if there were new episodes each week the bad would tend to get forgotten about.

Watching US drama on DVD tends to prove this theory. I watched Lost's first season on DVD in about a week and thought it was a thrilling piece of TV that never let up in terms of pace and revelations. However, fans who watched the show in the US (and even the UK to a lesser degree) always point out a "mid-season slump". Of course, this "slump"(that probably lasted a month or so for weekly viewers) was just an afternoon blip from my perspective!

I'm sure the same will happen when Lost's second season arrives on DVD this summer. Those who bravely stayed away from the TV (in the US), or - ahem - the internet downloads, will find it's a worthy and logical continuation of the series...

Saturday, 25 March 2006


For many people, comic-book fans are seen as the oaf from The Simpsons. These days, it's okay to be fans of sci-fi and fantasy series on TV - particularly now Doctor Who dominates the ratings on the Beeb on Saturday nights, Battlestar Galactica astounds with its gritty style, and Lost continues its phenomenal run.

Don't get me wrong, walking around the supermarket in a Tom Baker scarf or an original series Cylon outfit is still frowned upon (and rightly so, imo) but it's still a fact that the general public are more willing to give sci-if/fantasy series a try.

Life On Mars is another good example - although the "time-travel" aspect wasn't utilised to its full potential, but it shows that UK viewers are increasingly bored by the constant diet of doctor/cop/lawyer shows on terrestrial TV. ITV may have failed with The Eleventh Hour, but here's hoping Russell T Davies' Torchwood isn't the cynical Who cash-in it seems to be this summer...

Anyway, getting back on track. Comic-books. Or, the graphic novel. Personally, I'm not a big comic-book fan, exactly. I have never visited a comic-book shop, and my knowledge of the writers and artists involved stretches to Stan Lee and Bob Kane.

But I think it's a medium that is extremely interesting right now. It's no longer just the domain of supeheroes in tights. There are plenty of titles that I'm finding far more exciting than the traditional novel right now. Here are a few you should check out:

Y: The Last Man: a brilliant comic serial by Brian K Vaughn about a smart-ass escapologist called Yorick Brown, the only male survivor of a mysterious plague that kills every male on the planet. A fascinating post-apocalyptic adventure that will undoubtedly be adapted for the screen very soon, if executives have any sense. Gripping, tense, involving, packed with interesting characters and amazing scenarios the simple premise throws up...

Watchmen: Perhaps the greatest graphic novel ever written. Alan Moore's masterpiece. A story so dense and deftly plotted that it has become seemingly impossible to translate into a 2-hour movie. Watchmen is set in a parallel universe where superheroes genuinely exist, yet were outlawed by the government. Most of the heroes have sunk back into society as social misfits, but when one of their own is murdered, a "whodunnit?" mystery with serious repercussions for mankind begins...

Maus: A visionary comic memoir about living in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, but where all the nations are represented as animals.

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Another Alan Moore property cruelly treated at the movies. It became a lazy movie full of confusing action and lame plotting. But, the original material is pulp adventure at its finest. A Victorian-era crime-fighting team of 19th-Century literary characters (Captain Nemo, Alan Quatermain, Mina Harker, The Invisible Man, Dr Jekyll, etc) who battle nefarious villains such as Fu Manchu and even the Martian invaders of H.G Wells' War Of The Worlds. Extraordinary entertainment.

From Hell: Alan Moore's seminal Jack The Ripper story, mistreated again at the cinema in the Johnny Depp vehicle. Reading Moore's book is to dive into a murky Victorian world and be presented with an astounding recreation of the events that unfolded in 1888, but with Moore's own theory on exactly who Jack was. The scratchy ink drawings can be difficult to follow at times, but the sheer storytelling prowess is genius.

Sin City: Robert Rodriguez's movie did justice to the Frank Miller comics, but that doesn't mean there's no point reading Miller's work. Of course, fans of the movie may want to check out Miller's opus anyway, as Sin City 2 will be translating other stories from Basin City in the near-future...

V For Vendetta: For once, a decent movie adaptation of Alan Moore, but the original comic is still light years ahead. Even if you've seen the movie, reading the comic should be an eye-opening experience and interesting to see what the filmmaker's chose to abandon and twist into new shapes...

There are other excellent works out there, too numerous to mention. Fans of Batman Begins will probably like to check out Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns and The Long Halloween, and realize just how much Christopher Nolan's movie owes to the comic-book universe. Also, 300 is a blood-thirsty historical epic coming from Zack Snyder (Dawn Of The Dead remake) in the near-future, based on Frank Miller's original tome.

All of the above are great read - as is anything by Alan Moore, remember...

So there you have it. Comic books! The next frontier for the mainstream to accept -- so get reading!

Friday, 24 March 2006

24 - S05-E14

Wow! This has been a tremendous season from 24!

Last year they managed to keep the momentum up throughout the entire 24-episode run, but at the expensive of plausibility. Seasonal pace was a common concern with 24. Season 1 hit a major wobble when Jack's family were rescued mid-season (as the show was only allocated 13 episodes originally) before hitting on the whole Drazen plot, season 2 exploded a nuke mid-season but took awhile to build its WWIII threat afterwards, while season 3 had the interminable Mexican bartering mid-season before things got back on-track in L.A with the virus.

However, in season 5 this year, events have been more realistic and evenly spread throughout the season. Things build into each other much more fluidly, without the breathless "stop/start" feel of season 4.

It has helped that the first two episodes were shown together in the US, the mid-season episodes (11 and 12) were a double-bill, and a 2-hour finale is planned. This has meant the season has simply flown by at breakneck speed - it's episode 14 already?! Of course, in the US, the show starts it run in January and doesn't have unwanted breaks to break the flow - a common curse in US TV that has badly affected Lost's second season.

Anyway, episode 14 itself was one of those "realignment" episodes, where new plots and characters are properly introduced into the mix. As such, the episode wasn't particularly great itself, but did a wonderful job of sending us off into another direction.

Mind you, as with most 24 episodes, it had a beautiful cliffhanger. Those stuck a few weeks behind on Sky One are in for a treat..

Thursday, 23 March 2006

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - S02-E11 & E12: Resurrection Ship (Parts 1 & 2)

The second-half of BSG's second season began on Sky One on Tuesday 21 March, with the two-part episode Resurrection Ship - that concluded the events of Pegasus last week. Fortunately, I realized part 1 began at 8pm, with part 2 at 9pm (just in time), as I thought Sky would be repeating Pegasus at 8pm as a recap. I wonder how many people tuned in at 9pm and realized they'd missed part 1!

Anyway... scheduling issues aside, I'm glad to see BSG firing with all cylinders again. I used to enjoy the original series, but wasn't really old enough to appreciate it for anything other than its special-effects. I was pleased BSG was being remade by Ronald D. Moore (one of the brilliant writers behind Star Trek Deep Space Nine -- still the best Trek, imo), as it's always best to remake films and TV shows that never did justice to their premises.

I caught the original BSG mini-series on DVD after word-of-mouth about season 1 began to build. I think season 1 had finished on Sky by the time I had (ahem) got a copy by "other means", and watched those episodes with relish.

BSG is a great show because it treats audiences with respect. It's more adult in content than most sci-fi shows - almost as if Moore freed himself of the Star Trek morality shackles and breathed new life into a show he could mould into something entirely new. I'm sure there are plenty of BSG "purists" who hate some of the changes (I, myself, didn't initially understand the thinking behind Cylons looking human -- beyond cost-cutting), but they're in the minority now.

Season 2 continued things competently, but it definitely dipped in quality. Interesting that the show really suffered without the presence of Edward James Olmos (Commander Adama) in the lead role as the Galactica's figurehead. Other episodes were still of high quality, but nothing fresh really happened to shake up the mix. It was sort of coasting on the momentum of season 1. Oh, and the revelation that Xena Warrior Princess (er, I mean, Lucy Lawless' character) was a Cylon just struck me as old-hat. It's no longer a shocking revelation when someone turns out to be a "tin can", is it.

But everything worked a treat with Resurrection Ship 1 and 2. I'm not going to spoil anything, but there were moments of excruciating tension and tough decisions that most sci-fi shows would shy away from. Such moral dilemmas are the domain of 24, not a silly space show... surely?

Well, BSG is quite unlike other shows of its ilk. Brave storytelling, believable characters, gutsy plots, simply amazing effects, and - finally - a sense that the latter half of BSG's second season will meet expectations...

Wednesday, 22 March 2006


What is so great about the upcoming movie
Snakes On A Plane? The title, of course!

This is a pure case of a "doing what it says on the tin". The studio only ever called the movie "snakes on a plane" as a silly working title (I'm sure it would have wound up being called Snake Eye or Lethal Cargo otherwise), but thanks to fan outcry and even the support of star Samuel L. Jackson - the title is staying intact. Thank God!

This will undoubtedly be a cheesey and preposterously silly thriller to rival Anaconda (terrorists release snakes aboard a plane!), but there's something refreshing about a movie being theatrically acknowledging its B-movie status and destiny for bargain bins worldwide...

The sleeper hit of the year, perhaps? Hmm, maybe.

It's such a shame other movies don't follow the example set by Snakes On A Plane! Imagine if they did... can you guess the movies listed below? Answers in invisio-text below!

1. The Dinosaurs Escape
2. Apes Rule The Planet
3. The Shark Eats People
4. Alien On The Spaceship
5. A Comet Hits Earth
6. Mars Attacks!

Answers: 1. Jurasic Park. 2. Planet Of The Apes. 3. Jaws. 4. Alien. 5. Deep Impact. 6. Mars Attacks!

Be sure to check out for more reptilian fun!

Tuesday, 21 March 2006


One aspect I particularly enjoy about writing is the research. It can be exhausting and stressful devouring pages of text, or searching websites for specific answers to questions, but ultimately I find research is invaluable. It's not only informative for the viewers, but also brings depth and believability to the situation and characters of any story.

No writer is an expert at much beyond their own jobs (this is why nearly all of Stephen King's protagonists are authors!) so if your characters are doctors, scientists, undertakers or deep-sea divers, you're going to need some basic information on how these people operate.

Welcome to the internet. It's quite simply a revolution for writers everywhere. I can't believe writers would have to visit libraries all the time in the past (although libraries are still invaluable for more in-depth knowledge).

For my Pilot script Spiral, I have been doing a lot of research - mainly relating to elements not actually required for the story directly, but the "world" my story takes place in needs to be fully-realized. Spiral takes place after a devastating event that could be described as post-apocalyptic, so immediately you need to start brainstorming the repercussions of such an event.

There are hundreds of films, books and TV shows that have dealt with the end of the world (to varying degrees of success) so it was very helpful to take a look at other "end of the world scenarios" to see what worked, and what didn't.

Of course, there is also a budgetary concern with depicting such a massive event and making it work for TV. So I had to be imaginative with exactly how such a potentially expensive premise could work for UK television. Some books have amazingly inventive and involving premises set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, but most would take a Hollywood-sized budget to bring to life.

I also have some medical aspects to my story, particularly involving first-aid procedures and amnesia. Now, I could wing it and use my limited knowledge of first aid based on a few courses I've attended in the past and remembering dialogue from Casualty and ER... but it's amazing what actual research into things can bring.

God I love Wikipedia. This is a new find for me on the internet, and it has proven to be fantastic value. I used to rely on Google Search to find out things, but you're usually faced with thousands of websites spread across hundreds of websites. I don't have the time to read them all, and it would take days anyway, so Wikipedia is great for getting a more defined encyclopedic overview of whatever topic you search for. However, be warned: Wikipedia, and all things wiki, are written by users... so there's the chance some information is incorrect. But, personally, I've never found anything glaringly wrong or misleading.

Monday, 20 March 2006

SPIRAL - My TV Pilot Script

Hi, welcome to my blog! Glad you found it amongst the gazillions of others on the web!

Hopefully you'll find it interesting and bookmark me... but if not then then sorry for wasting your time! This little journal should atleast provide ME with a creative outlet. ;P

So what's the deal? Well, I'm an aspiring screenwriter living in the UK who has been self-taught for the past 10 years now. I have a few How-To books on the subject (Teach Yourself Screenwriting, Write & Sell The Hot Screenplay, etc), have devoured hundreds of articles on the 'net, and read plenty of screenplays from websites such as
Drew's Script-O-Rama and Simply Scripts.

I've just never had a proper attempt at getting something submitted and read by a professional...

But, I hope to change all that this year with a one-hour drama script entitled Spiral. It's a pilot for a science-fiction TV series (yeah, 'cos the world needs more of those, right?). But there are no robots, spaceships or time-travelling vehicles in sight, trust me. Not that they're a bad thing, but they're not typically the kind of shows the UK has much success with outside of Doctor Who. Anyone remember Invasion Earth?

Anyway, my Pilot script for the show is being rewritten right now. I've been working on it for about a month already, so unfortunately this blog will not recount the trials and tribulations from Day One... but never mind. I'm also unsure about revealing too much about the premise in a blog for fear my obviously wonderful idea will be plagiarised. It's the kind of paranoia that fuels most writers.

So for that reason, perhaps this blog really will end up being impenetrable for all of you to read... but rest assured it will also provide lots of media-related fun anyway (news, information, links to interesting articles, the usual gubbins!).

What can I tell you about Spiral without giving too much away? Hmmm. Well it involves the following: amnesia, the end of the world, nanotechnology, "zombies", survivalism, conspiracy and a "secret society" (of sorts).

In style it's basically Lost-meets-24. By that I don't mean real-time is involved, but it won't be leaping forward in time by days/weeks each episode. Things will unfold one day at a time. Well, that's the plan should a miracle happen and a script reader passes it up the corporate ladder. I'm a realistic person. I know it rarely happens. But, hey, I don't want to have never tried.