Tag Archives: Television

The Darwin Murders

A short time ago, I was invited by a friend to write a short piece for an upcoming anthology, published online, called The Darwin Murders. Participants were asked to write a 250 word piece in which they could kill of a character of their choosing, provided the poor unfortunate didn’t/doesn’t exist in real life. (No killing Hitler or Stalin, okay?)

I choose the bane of modern-day small screen viewing, the horror that is the television licence inspector. The editors liked my story so much that I was one of two authors who had their pieces put aside for special mention.

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If you want to find out how and why I murdered a television licence inspector, pop over to Amazon and see for yourself. And don’t stop at me, either. Other writers in the anthology harbour secret desires to bump off their nemeses. At the end of the day, we each have our dark sides.

Don’t forget to look behind you – you could be next.

 

The Daily Rant: Raving on ‘Misfits’.

The concept of the television show Misfits is simple. Take a disparate group of dysfunctional young men and women, give them some super powers, and then watch as they come to terms with their new responsibilities and hopefully put away some bad guys. So far, so very X Men and Heroes, right?

Well, kind of right. Throw in some exceptionally foul language, a bucket or two of blood, a heap of sexual shenanigans, as well as the most quotable dialogue this side of The Princess Bride, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for the freshest television series I’ve seen in many a year.

Last Sunday saw the premiere of Misfits‘ third season. Already it had its back against the wall because it had lost its leading star Robert Sheehan (Nathan) and many fans had claimed the show would suffer for his leaving. Enter Joe Gilgun, an accomplished actor in his own right. The show would sink or swim on his performance and character.

I am delighted to report that none of the spark has gone. If anything, I think Gilgun’s addition to the cast can only be a good move. His character, Rudy, is certainly more sympathetic and much more likable than Nathan. His power – the ability to create an identical copy of himself – is intriguing, especially when each copy has a personality of its own, and will lend itself to some interesting stories this season.

My favourite character, though, is Kelly. For me, and I think for most of the viewers last night, she had the best line. Check out the clip below and you’ll witness her deadpan response to an offer of brunch.

Exquisite.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 98. On Series Finales.

Harry Pearce and the spies of MI5: Spooks.

We put down our favourite book, one that has travelled with us for nearly ten years, and we can’t help feeling sad. The writer says there will be no more new stories involving characters we have come to love and care for. It is time to move on. There is of course a closure of sorts; but we know in our hearts that their stories go on. Only no one will write about them anymore.

So it is with our favourite television shows. There will be no more Spooks after last night. I am sad. But life must go on.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 66. On Downton Abbey and Period Dramas.

What better way to learn about history than to check out quality televised period dramas. Last weekend saw the return to our screens of the excellent Downton Abbey, the kind of programming the British seem to do so well.

The first series began with the sinking of the Titanic and ended with the outbreak of World War I. These historic events are seen through the eyes of well-written characters that live and work in the stately manor of Downton Abbey.

As a writer, I find it challenging and refreshing to see history unfold through fictional characters.Who says television doesn’t educate?

 

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 58. On House.

Dr Gregory House is an asshole, an arrogant, self-satisfied pain in the butt – and I can’t get enough of him. Not many shows make me want to sit down and view whole seasons all at once, but there’s something about the anti-hero that resonates with the writer in me.

Hugh Laurie’s award-winning portrayal of House notwithstanding, there’s more to his character and the show as a whole that causes me to think long and hard about it, even well into the early hours of the morning. Ethical issues come to mind and I will write more on this very soon.

 

 

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 51. On History.

History can be as dull as a October day in Leitrim and as dry as the Saharan landscape. But when all else fails, and stuff needs to be learned, add sex to the mixture and, Hell’s Bells, watch the application forms for history degrees arrive in the post or online.

It all started with HBO’s series Rome, if you ask me. A place where togas were optional rather than required attire. Then you had Henry VIII and The Tudors gallivanting their way around medieval England. Now with The Borgias along for the ride, maybe there’ll be an influx of new priests.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 50. On Television Licences.

By law, every household in Ireland must pay €160 for a television licence. This payment goes to RTE, our national television and radio broadcaster. For this money we get Ryan Tubridy and The Late Late Show, interminable reality TV shows, awful attempts at comedy and quite risible drama, with very few exceptions.

In Great Britain, for £145.50, viewers get Doctor Who, The Hour, Merlin, Being Human, Ashes to Ashes and plenty of quality one-off drama like last week’s Page Eight, starring Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and Ralph Fiennes.

We get Pat Shortt, repeats and imports. I’d rather go to jail.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 46. On Septembers.

The ninth month of the year brings with it many treasures. A return to normality, for one: with schools reopening, gridlock once again becomes a feature of early morning traffic. The longest-running television chat show The Late Late Show, hosted by Ryan ‘Ding Dong’ Tubridy, leaps back to our screens on Friday evenings.

There is a chill in the air and the nights draw in slowly but surely. Vampires get to head out earlier and stay out later. But for me, September means one thing: my television licence is up for renewal. Someone has to pay Tubridy’s salary I suppose.

 

Welcome to Allie’s World: Aardvarkian Origins.

I will be returning shortly to the world of Allie the Aardvark. To massive public clamor, as well as a petition signed by such notables as Barack Obama, Salman Rushdie and the bloke who runs the local chipper, Allie fans will wait no longer.

Tomorrow I shall post the Halloween special; but for now, read and enjoy Allie’s first appearance in my life.


WELCOME TO ALLIE’S WORLD.

The top prize of my local pub’s lottery draw sat in my armchair, eating chocolate peanuts through its snout, and flicking through the channels of the TV with my remote. It looked very much at home.

“When’s Judge Judy on?” it wondered.

“You know who Judge Judy is?” I asked, very much amazed that it could talk.

“She’s must-see-TV.”

I looked at my watch. “It’s five after midnight. It’s too late for Judge Judy.”

“It’s never too late for Judge Judy. You got any pretzels?”

“No.”

“You can sit down, you know. I don’t bite.”

“You suck.”

“I hope that’s not an insult.”

“I mean, you’re sucking up those peanuts.”

“That’s what we aardvarks do. We suck.”

“But I thought you ate ants?”

“Among other things, yes. Please, sit down. You’re making this aardvark uncomfortable.”

I sat down, not taking my eyes from this strange creature. It put down the sweets and extended its hand, paw, whatever, to me.

“My name is Alistair Reginald Boothroyd lV, but you can call me Allie.”

I shook its..whatever it was. “I’m James, but you can call me Jimbo.I didn’t know aardvarks could talk.”

“We don’t.”

“But I can hear you.”

“That’s because you’re supposed to.”

“Huh?”

“Jimbo, come on. You arrive into work this evening to find that the top prize in your bar’s lottery draw is an aardvark. Stuff like that doesn’t happen every day.”

He was right, it didn’t. Usually the top prize was cash, but ticket sales have been down since the economy went pear-shaped. So we rang up suppliers, asking them to sponsor the draw. Only one came through for us. Hence the aardvark.

The winning numbers were 2, 3, and 5, and there were three “lucky” winners of the top prize. All of them took one look at Allie and passed, taking instead the consolation prize of five free drinks. This left me, as stand-in organiser of the draw (the boss was on holiday), stuck with an aardvark. So I put him into an empty cardboard box and brought him home with me. I considered myself fortunate that I didn’t meet anyone I knew on the way back to my apartment.

“So why is it that only I can hear you?”

“The powers that be have decreed it so.”

“The who?”

“I don’t know. I may have made that part up. You got anything else to eat except chocolate peanuts?”

“I have cheese.”

“I can’t suck cheese.”

I looked in my fridge and found some yogurt. “Will this do?” I asked, showing Allie the carton.

“What flavour?”

I checked. “Blackcurrant.”

“Nice. I like blackcurrant yogurt.” I gave him — it was a “he” now, seeing that we’d been introduced — the yogurt. He tore off the foil cover and sucked up the contents. The sound was like that of a vacuum cleaner, sucking up clotted cream.

“I have to go to bed soon. Are you all right down here?”

“I’m fine,” he replied. “Leave your laptop open, if you wouldn’t mind. I want to check my Facebook.”

“You have a Facebook?”

“Doesn’t everybody?”

“But you’re an —

“–aardvark, I know, I know. So you keep reminding me.”

I started up the stairs to my bedroom. I was dazed.

“You got any good books?” Allie called.

I stopped and looked down. “What do you read?”

“Any King?”

“Just Cell and Lisey’s Story.

“No Dark Tower?”

“Not yet.”

“Man,” Allie replied. “You’ve got to read the Dark Tower series.”

I sighed. “So people keep telling me.”

Ten minutes later, when I was about ready to put his whole episode down as some sort of elaborate hoax, I could hear the sound of jewels exploding, followed by hoots of joy.

“122,500 points. Jimbo, when I’m good, I’m very, very good.”

I pulled my pillow from under my head and buried my face in it. Tomorrow, I thought. I’ll sort this out tomorrow.

The Name of The Rose, and Other Stories.

The Name of The Rose, starring Sean Connery

I was looking through the weekend’s TV listings before heading into work last Saturday, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on any nuggets. My DVR was preprogrammed to record my current favourites: Merlin on the BBC, Downton Abbey on ITV. Usually a movie appears from out of left field, showing at some ungodly hour of the night or morning.

I whooped with joy when I saw that RTE Two had Sean Connery’s movie, The Name of the Rose, showing at ten after midnight Sunday night, Monday morning. It’s been a long time since I’d this little-seen gem: a medieval murder mystery, based on the novel by Umberto Eco.

Connery and Slater as William of Baskerville and Adso of Melk

Now, I’ve tried reading Eco’s philosophical detective novel. I picked it up after first seeing the movie. I put it down after only getting through fifty or so pages of it. Last year I picked up a different copy and I got further. A bookmark nestles at page 102. I’ll finish it some day. I promise.

But it’s a classic Connery movie. To most, he is James Bond. To me, he is 007 and much, much more. An Oscar winner for The Untouchables, Connery brings his distinctive voice to all types of characters, usually without diluting his Scottish accent. He’s played Spanish, Irish, Russian and English – all in Scottish. That’s why we love him.

Anyway, back to The Name of the Rose. I preset my DVR and away to work I went. I mentioned to some customers that it was on later and I was really looking forward to seeing it again.

Needless to say, when I came back home, I found that my DVR failed to pick it up. It was on the TV all right, but it didn’t record. Damn you, UPC! Everything else recorded except the one thing that wasn’t going to be repeated later on in the week. I don’t pay my bill on time for service like this.

Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

I made it my Monday mission to hunt down a copy – but to no avail. HMV didn’t stock it, Tower Records never heard of it, and my local Xtravision proved equally fruitless. There was nothing else to do but go online. Hello Amazon.co.uk! I ordered a copy, along with two other gems from TV times gone by.

The BBC adapted two of John Le Carre’s novels in the late 70s and early 80s: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People, with the late Sir Alec Guinness as spymaster George Smiley. I remember being gripped by their complexity when I was a wee nipper. Unlike Eco, I read both novels after viewing the TV adaptations. Le Carre is a better writer of spy thrillers that Ian Fleming, but that’s my opinion.

So why did I rush out and order a copy of a movie my machine couldn’t record? The answer is, like me, simple. I have no patience. It will be a long time before TNOTR comes on TV again. I want to see it – and I want to see it now.

But I have to wait two weeks.