Monday, 31 March 2014

Build 'Em Up...

....Knock 'em down.

I watched the latest Marvel Studios superhero movie last week - the sequel to 2011's Captain America. If you haven't seen it already, there's some discussion of the film's final act, that you may want to skip to avoid spoilers.

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Still with me? Good, let me explain:

The film ends with the ever reliable superhuman Captain bringing down the agency he works for - S.H.I.E.L.D. - as it has been corrupted, and is attempting to bring down the world order.

That's a brave move, for a series that has used S.H.I.E.L.D. as its back bone for the last 6 years of cinema releases - and for the TV series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too. A brave move, yes, but also one I fully support, because I think in dramatic terms, it's needed.

See, I'm convinced good drama works this way - you set something up, and then tear it apart. From a young age, I've watched shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel, and they do just this.

Case in point: Buffy - Seasons One to Three

Buffy is a high schooler by day, slayer by night. End of the show's third season, however, she's ready to graduate - and the series goes out of high school with a bang. Literally. The place is blown to a million pieces, in a plot that saw Buffy and all her classmates unite in a plot to bring down the town's evil Mayor. Three years of build up go into that third season finale, and when it happens, because you've already invested in the idea of Buffy at high school, and the fake-reality of her world their, you're along for the ride when that world is torn right back down.

In my writing, I try and copy a similar formula. For example, in one of the comics I write, Darkened Avenue, I frequently set something up - so that I can exploit the drama later on, of ripping that setting apart. See, characters get use to a particular life, and it's dramatic when they are forced to shift, and change. Change in drama is good, it brings new possibilities, that may not have been open to the writer (and thus the audience) before.

In Buffy, could we have had the show's fourth season (Buffy, an awkward college student) without having been through the ordeal of losing/leaving high school first? No.

The process has to be done just right, though. If you don't develop your story, its setting, or its characters either correctly or enough, then you have a problem. The audience won't buy into the major shift as well as they should do, and you lose a huge chunk of your excitement. There's no longer an emotional ride for us to go along with; just some changes that happen, that we have to adjust too. In the worst examples of these, we don't like the new realities established, and long for the days of the old again. Usually we say the show has "jumped the shark" or is now just plain bad. It may be a comedy, yes, but Scrub's ninth season is guilty of this: the old hospital is torn down between seasons, half the cast replaced, and new people brought in. As an audience, we aren't 'along for the ride' with these changes - they happen, and we're asked to accept them. When we don't (as I didn't) what comes afterwards is already on a bad footing. A bad example, maybe - but think about any show or film you've seen whereby the major premise of the thing shifts into something else. Did it satisfy you, or leave you a teensy-weensy bit frustrated that the process wasn't done better?

As a writer, I think that's interesting - because it means I have to be at the top of my game, or else my work fails. Yes, change is good - but unless it's masterfully administered, it's worse than allowing an idea to stagnate, and not grow.

I wonder what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has up its sleeve now that Captain America has ripped its premise apart? Better still, I wonder how the internal world of 'AoS' brings this shift in its reality about. I bet it'll be a fun ride. If it convinces...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Journey Away

It ended May 7th 2007.

May 2007: It ends suddenly, and at the time I'm not sure why. Her name isn't important here; but the fact that we're young, and both in love for the first time is. At 'zero point' I scramble about, desperate to fix things. At first, my handiwork looks like it might be paying off - I convince her, even if only a little, that her dumping me might be wrong. But then I take bad advice, and it pushes her away.

June 2007: damage control. I've ruined whatever chances I had of getting back with her, but can't accept that as fact. I'm still trying to contact her, a whole month on , but she isn't interested anymore. I struggle to adjust to life without her in it, and sometimes can't see anyway on - that light at the end of the tunnel. However, go on I do...

July-December 2007: I spend lots of time talking to others about her, trying to figure out why we broke up, and the extent of which I was to blame. My friends get bored of listening, and their advice stops coming from the heart, but a frustration for me to shut the fuck up about a lost girlfriend. I don't, and continue to drone on! My mind is poisoning itself, and I relish it, because I feel guilty and want to hurt myself for it.

2008: I date somebody new, who is different to the girl we're talking about. This new relationship lasts 6 months, before it too ends. Except, when this new one does , it doesn't hurt half as much as the first break-up faced in 2007. That about sums up this new relationship up; it's half as important as what I had before. I'm frustrated by this, and question why I don't love my new girlfriend have as much as the prior. I blame myself for allowing the pain from one relationship to destroy another.

2009: I'm single, and prefer to stay that way. After all, I'm not over my first girlfriend yet. If I get with anybody else... Will my angst for what I lost in 2007 taint what I have in the now?

2010: I leave Manchester for London, and I'd be lying if I said a little part of that decision wasn't down to my still broken heart. Just being around the same places we used to spend together was playing on my conscious and subconscious. There were little, constant reminders of what I'd lost. I had to break free.

2011: A new city, and a new me. I'm ready for a new girlfriend, but I'm too busy at work to get one. I still have feelings for the first girlfriend - although miles away from her, it's easier to forget, easier to heal. I start to check up on her Facebook, and it's great seeing those rare glimpses of her through new profile pictures. I wonder what she's up to, am upset she's up to it without me , but for the first time properly accept that's it's over.

2012: I don't think about her often, but check up every few weeks (or months) on her Facebook. Now I'm doing more out of a frustration that I don't have my own 'somebody' in my life (and she does) rather than me searching her out, specifically. Still, I make contact with her in early December, when I realise she has unblocked me on Facebook for the first time. I ask myself why she would do that, and check Google for potential answers. She doesn't reply, and blocks me again. I tell myself that was her last chance, that she's just being a mean-spirited person right now. Once burnt, twice shy and all.

2013: I enter my first relationship since 2008, and it means a lot to me. Finally, with this girl I feel like nobody but her matters, and so I'm free and away (at last) from the legacy of 2007.

Now: I'm single again, but that's OK. There's no angst this time, for any ex. I'm free, and happy - ready this time for whatever comes next, and waiting...

Friday, 21 March 2014

Daredevil, Creek... Telly Box Geek

It's been an interesting month away from the blog.

It's been one of those month's where I haven't really done much. I doubt I'll remember much about it in the years to come - but it's been comfortable, and enjoyable in its own little way.

I've been working my way through Daredevil comics. I started with the Brian Michael Bendis run from the early 2000s, and have now reached the Shadowland storyline from 2011. I keep away from superheroes in comics, because they have a habit of getting caught up in sweeping events that are a confused mess unless you buy all 98 issues (or whatever). I like Daredevil because it's pretty much self contained; more of a crime noir than a capes and tights affair. He (and Batman) are probably the only two superheroes I'd care to write for professionally. Ok, Ok, Spidey too.

Then there's been the return of an old favourite - Jonathan Creek! Although... I don't know why they bothered! They've changed the protagonist that much from his origins that now, I feel like what's the point?! The three new mysteries weren't up to much either. The old spark has truly gone away, which is a shame. Still, if they can recapture it again, I'm open to more. (On that note - they only went and brought Only Fools & Horses back!! You know, it wasn't half bad either...)

Gogglebox is back. I think the show, at its best, is genius. It's one of those shows where the premise can put you off from watching, but once you do you're sucked right in, and it never lets go. I find it fascinating, as somebody who loves television, watching average Joes giving their opinions on what they're watching. The best bit? When they comment on what's in the news. It's a fantastic insight into the British people, and how our country thinks. If you haven't seen it already, give it a go!

I have my own programmes to watch in awe... now I'm on Netflix! Yep, I finally switched on. As part of the 'switchover' to the service, I traded in a whole host of DVDs and Blu Rays that Netflix already offers. My room feels half-empty now! I've had many of them for years. Still, onwards and upwards - and digital it is! I'm currently watching Arrested Development, House of Cards, and working my way through a re-watch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's fun!

No script work, mind. I find my energies are lacking most days when I get home from work. A shame, because I've had a potentially good idea. We'll see what comes of it - I can imagine myself filming this one...

More updates soon!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Oops, Ketchup!

Right now I'm merry, and by that I mean super-drunk. I apologise in advance for any unforseen issues with this post; whether that's spelling/grammar mistakes, or things generally making less sense thsn usual. I blame the booze.

Tonight the other managers at work took me out for a night on the town. Well, OK, a night in a West End Weatherspoons, but same difference. I didn't buy a single thing. Instead I enjoyed free drink and food, one after another.

One of our managers - James - uses a service called Tinder; which I never dven knew existed before tonight. Now I do, and I realise it's a disturbing app. Why not just meet girls in the flesh, rather than pester them online, pretending to be an avatar you clearly are not.

Me and James get along really well, and we've always winding one another up - whether it's about his weight, or my shocking choice in women. Tonight was no different; I wound him up about Tinder, and the eomen in his life, and he rated himself better than me at thd pulling game.

All harmless fun, until I took things a little too far. At the end if the night James put his hoodie over his head, and with his face covered he didn't realise I was squirting ketchup onto the top of his head.

Of course he found out, and he launched at me. Not uncalled for, no! Except, in my defence I was (and still am) pretty out of it. In part due to the free drinks he bought me!

Still, I feel more than a little guilty now. Who knows what I'll feel in the morning when I've conpletely sobered up.

Sorry James!!

(It was a little bit funny, mind)

Monday, 24 February 2014

Tweet Tweet

A bit of fun now, after a series of ever-so gloomy posts.

Here's a rundown of my favourite TV shows, films and comics - reviewed in the standard 140-only characters allowed on Twitter.

Mad Men
NY, the 60s: Don Draper does his silent broody thing, Roger descends into naked drug use, Peggy whines. A slow burn, but God it's beautiful.

Doctor Who
All of time & space! Fast, slightly camp, timey wimey adventures - with Daleks, Cybermen... and, ooh, don't blink! Vworp vworp!! My fave! :)

Daredevil (Comic)
Or Matt Murdock's nightmare double life as unlucky lawyer/super-hero. He's blind, but the man without fear! New Yorkers, don't piss him off!

Game of Thrones
Featuring the world's most kick ass dwarf, unexpected shocks and added dragons. Think a sexier LoTR, with Sean Bean (well, for a little bit)

How I Met Your Mother
Or "How to avoid reaching your series finale for 9 whole years". Still, when it advances the story it's great, or rather - legendary!

Family Guy
Funny bit. Random cut away. Bird is the word. Simpsons homage/blatant intellectual theft. Another cut away (filler). Funny bit. End titles.

Scrubs
J.D.'s quest for man-love, interspersed with stoner comedy, and then some genuinely sad bit. Hospitals are nothing like this.

E.R.
Watch in awe: Clooney's charm, Romero's wrath. Greene is the hero, but then Carter sets the tone. Shup up Neela, and who cares about Gates?

The Big Lebowski
Bowling with Jesus. White Russians. Tripping to Kenny Rogers. My hero, John Goodman: Shut the fuck up Donny. Oh, too late... Donny's dead.

Groundhog Day
Bill Murray lives the same day over & over! Bill Murray lives the same day over & over! Bill Murray lives the same day over & over! Etc...

The Walking Dead (Comic)
Gritty 'cos it's black & white. Right? Questionable storylines, often ending in random and unexpected deaths. Still better than the TV show.

Watch this space, I'll add some more over the next few days.