This month I polished off the excellent "South Park: The Stick of Truth" (shame about the constant loading screens, though), gave the show's 18th season a quick second spin, and indulged in the superb "6 Days To Air: The Making of South Park" documentary ... there's also been an awful lot of Rob Zombie, plenty of writing, crackin' telly, and the glamorous thrills of the Monaco F1 weekend among the flavours of my May 2015...
Peter Kay's Car Share - a new BBC comedy series, which does one of the trickiest things: making the plain, everyday things (like a commute to and from work) interesting. Not just interesting, but entertaining, and in a manner that efficiently makes you care for the protagonists. Warm and gentle, familiar and surprisingly involving, if only more of the current crop of BBC comedy shows could be like this.
Murder In Successville - you wait for a fresh slice of BBC comedy (that isn't another panel show, or a sitcom that doesn't float your boat) and not one, but two, come along at once. Appearing on BBC Three (in a way that BBC2 used to be utilised), this is a semi-improvised cop show comedy murder mystery detective series that features a new 'rookie cop' each week (a different celebrity guest who is tasked with solving the case). It's like interactive theatre mixed with tough cop cliches of exploitation cinema, and is a pleasing treat to emerge from the ether.
American Horror Story: Season 1 - it's taken me a while, but I finally got around to it. As one show ends (Mad Men), you open up a slot for another. On the down side it's a bit too slick and is more mainstream in its gruesomeness that a seasoned horror fan would care for, but on the up side the characters - and their backstories - are so intriguing that the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Hardcore horror hounds are unlikely to find any of it scary, although there are a few ideas that are sufficiently grim when you think about them a little longer. The contained story (there's a new plot for each season) helps add a sense of narrative drive for the most part, although it does dawdle a bit in the middle. Strong cast, good story, but a little too slick and slightly shallow for it's own good. I'll see how it goes with Season 2 sometime soon.
Caligula (Blu-Ray) - the Arrow release was on sale so I gave it a punt. You hear all kinds of things about this rampaging orgy of the bizarre, and it certainly lives up to its curious reputation for good and bad. It does tend to meander and turn shocks into thumb-twiddling, but even with all of it's outre antics there's an interesting central theme of absolute power corrupting absolutely.
Mad Men: Season 7-B - these last episodes have shown a sense of propulsion that was lacking for the previous season-and-a-half. However, AMC's decision to split the final season in two has been problematic - the first part didn't feel like it really built to anything, and the second part seems in too much of a rush to tie everything together. One straight shot of 14 episodes - and a slightly more balanced story - would have helped matters. The first five seasons were the best, then with season six the show seemed to almost begin to rest on its laurels, and opt too often for gradually-paced episodes where it felt like there wasn't enough actually happening. However, despite the problems with the last two seasons of Mad Men, there was still plenty to enjoy (even if it lost that 'I must see the next one right now' feeling).
The Sister of Ursula (DVD) - the latest release from Shameless Screen Entertainment. Review HERE.
Monaco F1 Grand Prix 2015 - the best race of the season, Monaco is always sure to throw up a few surprises, and this year was no different with Mercedes' bizarre mistake that cost Hamilton the win. I've developed a bit of a fascination with Monaco since I visited it with friends last year on a holiday to the South of France - the place certainly does leave an impression!
Alice Cooper "Welcome 2 My Nightmare", "Raise Your Fist And Yell", "Zipper Catches Skin", "Pretties For You", "Easy Action", "Love It To Death"
Guns n Roses "Chinese Democracy", "Use Your Illusion I & II"
Rob Zombie "Zombie Live", "Educated Horses", "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor", "Hellbilly Deluxe 2", "Hellbilly Deluxe"
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
"Aliens: Earth Hive" by Steve Perry - back in the 90s I wasn't much into reading (it was always something I considered a task that related to school work), but I did have sporadic bursts where I'd find a book that captured my interest. The Aliens tie-in novels "Rogue", "Nightmare Asylum", and "The Female War" were three such books, but being that we didn't have Internet access then (and the books themselves said nothing), I wasn't aware that I hadn't read this first part in the trilogy penned by Perry. A cheap copy found online let me catch up - although they're clearly written for a young adult audience, it was a bit of a toe dip into my early teens, and sated my inner completionist.
"The Walking Dead: Volume 23 - Whispers Into Screams" by Robert Kirkman et al
"We Should Eat Ice Cream Too" - another new short story, this time a sci-fi (albeit subtly so). Read more about it HERE.
"Eyes In Your Window" - a good piece of advice I've heard from a few professional writers is to maintain a good stock of scripts that are ready to go. Someone might read a script, but ask for something else you've got - and so you want to be able to have something to show immediately that's up-to-snuff. As such, while in-between writing projects and editing on the new Ethical Theory DVD, I took the opportunity to give this script another polish. It's been a while since I've visited this particular screenplay, but the last time I did I hacked out 11 pages of extraneous blether - this time I've sliced off another 2 pages, so I've got 5 pages to play with to bolster a few scenes or subplots throughout. "Eyes In Your Window" was the first script I wrote that was specifically with television in-mind. It was a learning curve in itself and it's gone through a lot of fettling. It's also interesting to look back on an earlier writing project and apply newly-learned skills to it - you discover that you've gained a sense that allows you to trim and shape quickly, to identify the best way to structure the scenes (particularly the 'arrive late, leave early' mantra).