The Stand 2020: Episode 2 – Pocket Savior

“There’s something in you that’s like biting on tinfoil, Larry.”

“Mister, if you’re real, then… I think you’re the Devil.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

The second episode of this new version of The Stand carries on in the template set by the first – a non-linear narrative skipping through the book, to focus on a couple of the major characters. In this case, it’s Jerk With a Heart of Gold singer Larry Underwood, and no-good but slightly pathetic convict Lloyd Henreid. Just as last week, this is one character who ends up on the side of the goodies, and one who ends up on the side of the baddies, and their stories intertwine throughout the episode.

Continue reading “The Stand 2020: Episode 2 – Pocket Savior”

The Stand 2020: Episode 1 – The End

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

Stephen King’s The Stand is one of my favourite books ever. I first read it when I was 12 years old, and was captivated by this epic, 800 page long saga of Ultimate Good fighting Ultimate Evil in a post-apocalypse United States. Later, the Full Uncut version was released, bumping the page count up by about 300 by restoring the material cut in 1978, when the publisher didn’t believe the market would take to a book that long. I loved that version even more.

Continue reading “The Stand 2020: Episode 1 – The End”

Not with a bang but a Winchester

“You guys are my favourite show!” – God

(SPOILER WARNING – DON’T READ UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN SUPERNATURAL RIGHT TO THE END!)

Well, I guess it was time.

Long past time, if I’m honest, for the longest running American genre show of all time to come to an end. Supernatural has been with us now for fifteen years. Cast your mind back to 2005 – a different world to the one we live in now. Nobody imagined a world where a baroque nutjob like Donald Trump was President, or a massive credit crunch that nearly destroyed the world’s financial system, or everyone having a supercomputer smartphone in their pockets, or a pandemic that had most of the world confined to their homes to varying degrees. I mean yeah, George W Bush was President, 9/11 was still fresh in American memories, and much of the world was outraged by the ongoing occupation of several Middle Eastern countries on which the US had imposed its will in the name of freedom. But still, compared to today, it felt like a simpler time.

Continue reading “Not with a bang but a Winchester”

Of pandemics, social media and mental health…

“Marvelous technology is at our disposal and instead of reaching up for new heights, we try to see how far down we can go…how deep into the muck we can immerse ourselves!”
– Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. I’d thought, initially, that the pandemic would enable me to do some sort of ‘Journal of the Plague Years’ a la Daniel Defoe, but that soon faded when I realised that, when you’re locked down, there are no events to write about. Not for me, anyway. No baking banana bread or learning to crochet here. Just the endless, repetitive routine of being stuck in my tiny Barcelona apartment, with my windowless bedroom, trying as best I could to not interfere with my roommate having to work from home in our tiny living room. Continue reading “Of pandemics, social media and mental health…”

Journal of the Plague Year – Life under Lockdown

It’s the third week of living under lockdown here in Barcelona, and things have been changing rapidly. For a start, we’ve had to develop a whole new vocabulary. Previously esoteric medical terms like “herd immunity”, “flattening the peak”, “self-isolation” and “social distancing” are now common currency, as everyone becomes an amateur epidemiologist. Continue reading “Journal of the Plague Year – Life under Lockdown”

Maggie – remembering my mum

So ok – we’ve just had a version, at least, of a funeral for my mum. I couldn’t be there, and neither could many people, but my brother Tim and his wife Karen were there, along with her partner John and his daughter Jo, and mum’s old friend Gareth.

It was webcast, and I was able to read the eulogy I’d written by phone from my apartment here in Barcelona. I’m posting it here, for all those who knew her, all those who wanted to meet her, and all those who loved her, here and all over the world. Continue reading “Maggie – remembering my mum”

Journal of the Plague Year – Part 1

“Isn’t it odd? You talk about millions dying in India and China, and it has no impact at all…”

Survivors episode 1 – The Fourth Horseman, 1975

It started slowly, like it always does. A new report about an outbreak of a new disease, somewhere remote from where I was. Nothing new, nothing unusual – we’d seen it before, with Ebola and SARS and countless others. Distant tragedies that had no real impact other than a bit of humanitarian hand wringing until the outbreaks inevitably flared and burned out. A story I’d seen a dozen times before. Continue reading “Journal of the Plague Year – Part 1”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 9 – Ascension of the Cybermen

“The Cybermen were defeated. The victims of a billion battles, broken. An empire of might and terror, fallen. Their weaknesses exploited, their armies outfought. Every empire has its time, and every empire falls. But that which is dead can live again – in the hands of a believer.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

The Cybermen are made up of parts. Spare parts, human and machine. So it’s apt that almost every latterday story about them has itself been made up of parts of other Cyber stories – and this was no exception. However, that didn’t stop it being a very, very good Doctor Who episode in a season that has been unexpectedly good after last year’s rather lacklustre effort. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 9 – Ascension of the Cybermen”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 8 – The Haunting of Villa Diodati

“How about writing the most gruesome, spine-chilling ghost story of all time?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

It was a dark and stormy night…

How many classic ghost stories begin with that one line? Just maybe, it has its origins in the famous night visited by the Doctor and his companions in this week’s suitably spooky episode – the fevered, intense gathering by Lake Geneva of the early 19th century’s most notorious literary talents. In June 1816, in Villa Diodati, on the shores of the lake, George Gordon (better known as Lord Byron), his current lover Clair Clairmont, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his common law wife Mary Godwin (better known as Mary Shelley) gathered together with their friend Dr John Polidori for a party that would be remembered in the annals of literature for centuries to come. From that party came one of the best known tales of terror in history – Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 8 – The Haunting of Villa Diodati”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 7 – Can You Hear Me?

“You’re wrong about humans. They’re not pathetic. They’re magnificent. They live with their fears, doubts, guilts, they face them down every day, and they prevail! That’s not weakness. It’s strength.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Ostensibly a stab at one of the horror stories Doctor Who has traditionally done so well, Can You Hear Me? was another divisive ep in the way it took on another Big Issue. This time it was mental health, a topic the show has dealt with before (rather more effectively in my opinion) in 2010’s Vincent and the Doctor. The difference here is that rather than showing us a historical figure beset by his personal demons, this time it was the TARDIS crew who were revealed to have fears and anxieties of their own. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 7 – Can You Hear Me?”