Sunday, 15 June 2008


2x07 In Lieu of Flowers... [season finale]

Red Dwarf
2x06 Parallel Universe [season finale]

2x09 Burning Sensation
"What they just did was illegal, that evidence can never be admitted!"
"But it needs to be otherwise the whole case, and therefore the episode's plot, completely falls apart!"
"I know, let's make up a fictional law that one of our characters can have created while she was the DA a while back!"
"Ooh, great idea! Let's hope no one notices..."

4x06 The Innocent (aka Beyond the Cell)
Ordering to shoot without question? Paying a near-assassin a Government wage for the rest of his life? Seems this is where Spooks pushes credibility. Shame, because it undermines an otherwise fairly thoughtful episode.

Wild China
Part 6 Tides of Change [series finale]


Doctor Who - Decide Your Destiny: Dark Planet by Davey Moore
See here for my thoughts on this book.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
The New Adventures of Fanny Hill by John Cleland (pages 57-72)
The Most Popular Tall-Tale Teller in the Tavern (page 73)
See here for my thoughts on these sections of Black Dossier.

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier" by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill - Running Commentary, Part 3

Moving on to the next two sections of Black Dossier...

First up (ho ho) is The New Adventures of Fanny Hill, a sequel to John Cleland's infamous novel that tells the story of the second League, led by Lemuel Gulliver. Moore seems to have an obsession with erotica/pornography that comes more and more to the fore -- there are elements in the first volume that hint at it, full on sex scenes in the second (as well as much reference to it in the accompanying documents), and between penning volumes of the League he worked on Lost Girls (until recently 'banned' in the UK due to licensing issues with some characters). That said, this segment is cleverly written -- the text is apparently tame, but the accompanying illustrations explicitly depict what's actually meant, and consequently together they make for an amusing read. All of this League's adventures seem to have some basis in sex, however, and having related their stories at least twice over already I wouldn't expect Moore to tell them any more thoroughly in future (though you never know). This is also the first section on different paper stock -- a rougher, early-novel style -- which adds some pleasing variety and, for want of a better expression, reality to the book's style. Perhaps the forthcoming Absolute Edition will make even greater use of such tricks?

Following this is a single-page political cartoon, something to do with King George III and Prime Minister William Pitt wasting money on a band of fictional characters (that being Gulliver's League). It adds a small amount of detail to the reasons for this League's genesis, but little more.

Next time, a return to normal 'sequential art'...

"Doctor Who - Decide Your Destiny: Dark Planet" by Davey Moore

The seventh book in the Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny series, Dark Planet sees the return of Davey Moore, author of the somewhat disappointing Corinthian Project. One of the problems in that book was the obsessive creation of a future world to the detriment of a plot. From the blurb, it sounds like Dark Planet may suffer the same fate. In the future, "Earth is divided. The Upsiders live in luxury while the Downsiders scavenge in the dark world below. Can you help the Doctor and Martha bring the two conflicting sides back together?" Ooh, dystopian.

Luckily, despite my fears, Dark Planet isn't over-created. The 'society split in two' concept of the Up Side and Down Side may be far from original, but it's also quite a universal idea so that hardly matters. Moore doesn't waste time describing the intricacies of how it works, but reveals enough of how it came about and how it's sustained to satiate curiosity. The plot itself is engaging too, with a couple of decent incidents and a fair backstory. In the book's first entry (one of the strongest of the entire series) you're offered a choice between three random buttons, and a quick scan through the results of the two I didn't choose suggests that each provides a vastly different version of events. It would seem there are three notably different adventures to be had from this book -- good value for money -- and, for once, a nice clear way to see how to access each one.

There's a downside to this variety though, which I shall longwindedly explain. The story I followed seemed to present two notably different strands, as at a couple of points you can choose to follow either an Upsider or a Downsider; I chose to go towards the Downsider every time, but still wound up following the Upsider. There were other, even more specific instances where my choice made no difference -- in one, either option led to the same bit of exposition, just given by different characters, and both then led on to the same concluding segment. The book also too often succumbs to the disappointing trick of shuttling you from entry to entry with no choices at all. I would imagine this is the price one pays for squeezing three totally different stories into 101 segments -- there's very little room to have many choices within each. Arguably the illusion of choice, as in the exposition example, is better than shuttling on throughout, but your choices actually making a difference is what should happen.

Moore's previous entry in this range, The Corinthian Project, probably wasn't as bad as my review suggested. Nonetheless, Dark Planet has a better plot, and it's pleasing to see the same author adopt a different style of creating varied adventures -- in his first book it's by offering various routes of exploration around the same location, while in this there's a selection of totally different strands. In spite of the flaws, then, the fact that Dark Planet offers three different adventures -- and that I enjoyed the one I read -- marks it out as one of the series' better efforts.