Monday, 16 June 2008


8 Out of 10 Cats
6x01 (13/6/08 edition)

Commercial Breakdown With Jimmy Carr
11x01 (15/6/08 edition)
"old fridges can KILL"

Gilmore Girls
4x14 The Incredible Sinking Lorelais
Despite the DVD menus clearly naming this episode as The Incredible Sinking Lorelais, every online guide seems to call it The Incredible Shrinking Lorelais. Who couldn't read something?

James Bond: The True Story
Documentary, shown last month on five, about the real-life people and events that inspired the James Bond novels.

4x07 Syria (aka Where Trouble Lies)
Spooks reasserts its ability to pull off surprising deaths. I knew the character in question was doomed (this season aired three years ago, there's been plenty of time for spoilers), but I presumed it was in the season finale. How cunning.


Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming
Chapter 14
More unwieldy exposition, as Gorner tells Bond the history of his henchman, Chagrin. The explanation for Chagrin's ruthlessness is pleasingly Bond-style (essentially, an operation removed his ability to empathise), though Faulks takes it a step too far by also adding the clichéd "he can't feel pain" to the mix. The chapter also includes what I take to be an amusing dig at Rupert Murdoch, before Bond is hauled off on a suicidal errand -- could it be the death of 007? (With six chapters to go -- and, of course, the money-making potential of future sequels -- I don't think the answer will surprise anyone.)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
Graphic Novel, Section 2 (pages 74-95)
Being a True and Faithful Mappe of Ye Blazing Worlde (page 96)
Shadows in the Steam by Campion Bond (pages 97-103)
The Nautilus, a Cutaway Schematic (pages 104-105)
Prospectus of London, 1901 (pages 106-107)
The Murray Group, Correspondence, 1899-1913 (pages 108-112)
See here for my thoughts on these sections of Black Dossier.


From the Sky by Blackbud
[not 1st listen]

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier" by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill - Running Commentary, Part 4

Today's reading takes me past the halfway point of the latest volume in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series.

Following the first round of documents from the Dossier itself, it's back to the continuing adventures of Mina and Allan. The amount of plot in these sections is pleasing, as I was rather expecting near-pointless little vignettes designed to intersperse the pages of the Dossier; happily, it's almost the other way round, as the Dossier's documents are inserted at the points when the characters are reading them, and so in between there's an actual plot. Mina and Allan head to Kent, to the derelict Greyfriars public school, to investigate the mysterious initials mentioned in handwritten notes that cover the Dossier. Like the documents from the Dossier itself, this sequence is wordy and exposition-packed, in which Moore basically connects up various fictional characters of the '40s and '50s (and earlier) to bring his world together. There are a few twists and surprises in amongst this, but it's occasionally hard to escape the feeling that, like the Dossier, it's as much an academic exercise in world-building as it is a proper story. Perhaps this is why Black Dossier isn't counted as Volume III.

Also in this section, in London the current incarnation of 'M' pairs Bond... er, sorry, Jimmy... up with two other agents to hunt down Mina and Allan. What success will this new almost-League have? I suppose we'll find out in about 25 pages as, following a bout of rumpy-pumpy (Moore reigns himself in and doesn't show the act, instead treating readers to a three-panel silent page showing events elsewhere), it's back to the Dossier...

It doesn't feel like just 25 pages when making one's way through the Dossier's documents; not because they're dull, but they're frequently text-only pages, which unsurprisingly take longer to read than comic pages, however wordy they may get. First is a single-page map of the Blazing World, which both Prospero's and Gulliver's Leagues visited. There's little to note here, beyond hints at how the included 3D glasses might come into play, and a small picture of what looks to be a Police Box...

After this the documents move on to cover Murray's League, beginning with a chapter from Campion Bond's autobiography that describes the formation of it. While most of this was covered in Volume I, one part we never got to see was how Nemo was recruited, and that's what's covered here. It's a shame it hasn't been covered 'on screen', as the descriptions of the locations made me long to see them. (Incidentally, Bond's memoirs are first mentioned in a quote at the start of Volume I, which comes from this very chapter. I have to wonder if Moore has just managed to integrate this, or if he had already planned so far ahead -- that might sound unlikely, but I find it plausible, all things considered.)

The account of Nemo's recruitment are followed by a couple of brief sections: first, a cross-section of the Nautilus, which is like those ones magazines and annuals used to publish of craft from Gerry Anderson series (if anyone remembers those...) I always liked them when I was little, so this is quite nice. Secondly, a Prospectus of London, 1901 shows a selection of buildings and monuments related to the adventures of the Murray Group. Beyond being slight reference to the first two volumes, and showing what happened to some things they left behind (such as a Martian war machine becoming a children's play area), there's little to this brief segment.

As with the Prospectus, the next set of documents continues to explore the actions of some characters after the disbandment of the Murray Group (at the end of Volume II). Dramatically referred to as "Bulletins From Beyond" on the contents page, this collection of postcards is more factually called "The Murray Group, Correspondence, 1899-1913" on its title page. As well as a summary of their activities in this period, it includes eight postcards sent by Mina, Allan and Orlando, many from places mentioned in the Almanac. As I mentioned in a previous commentary, this once again as the advantage of re-presenting things we already know in a different context, with the odd sliver of new information. As the events of Volume III will be set during this period, such frames of reference may prove fruitful.

One thing: having read so much -- yet all of it vague -- about the battle between the League and their French counterparts, Les Hommes Mystérieux, in both the Almanac and various entries in the Dossier (and, no doubt, more to come in the next document, which I'll get to tomorrow), I hope Moore decides to properly tell the story of their encounter at some point -- as Volume IV would be nice.