Thursday, 19 June 2008


The Graham Norton Show
3x10 (19/6/08 edition)

2x09 Cautionary Tales

1x02 Gatherings
1x03 Art

4x09 The Sting
4x10 Diana [season finale]
Spooks manages the impressive feat of constructing a suitably epic season finale set almost entirely on the Grid, the show's main standing set. There's also a suitably dramatic cliffhanger, something I'd forgotten Spooks did after the almost-wholly-resolved third season finale. It's all still a tad far-fetched, but that's par for the course now, as Spooks has turned from "realistic(ish) spy show" to a more typical action spy show, that would err enough on the side of realism were it not for the seasons that preceded it.


Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming
Chapters 15 - 18
An action-packed few chapters, as Bond is retrieved from the desert by Gorner and is once again treated to a handy description of a new despicable plan. Ooh, that dastardly foreigner! While Bond is stuck on Gorner's stolen British passenger plane, headed for Russia's main nuclear factory, Leiter teams up with Darius to stop the destruction. But there's a traitor in their midst... Unsurprisingly, there's some success in stopping Gorner's plans, but to get home Bond and Scarlett must journey into the heart of the Soviet Union, the country Bond's spent most of his adult life fighting! These are an exciting set of chapters, with a climactic feel -- though, with Gorner still alive and Bond in the heart of Russia, it's far from over. And there's still that mystery of how truthful Scarlett and/or Poppy are... (I'll post fuller notes on these chapters in my review of the book.)

Doctor Who - Decide Your Destiny: Lost Luggage by Colin Brake
See here for my thoughts on this book.

Winter Story by Jill Barklem

"Doctor Who - Decide Your Destiny: Lost Luggage" by Colin Brake

Colin Brake, king of the weak Decide Your Destiny book, returns for one final stab at the heart of gamebooks... sorry, I mean, one final stab at writing one. Lost Luggage is the first book of the series' final batch of releases (to date), and the ninth in the series. The last set of books added historical adventures to the mix, and now this one adds a companion-free Doctor... well, apart from you, obviously. "When the TARDIS goes missing in a busy spaceport, the Doctor and you must race against time and across space to find it, before the Doctor's incredible spaceship is lost forever..." Ooh, Terminal 5-a-like.

It will come as no surprise that all the problems evident in Brake's previous three books are present here too. From the very first entry you're -- here comes my well-worn complaint! -- making choices to direct the story, rather than to direct your character. Perhaps if these were Decide the Story books I'd accept this, but they're Decide Your Destiny, which rather implies you're meant to be directing your character's actions, as far as I'm concerned. That's certainly how these sort of books normally work, anyway, and there's a reason for that: it's more fun. Still, there's little point going over it all again -- it comes up in pretty much every review of this series -- so what of the plot?

Well, there are a couple of branches available. As usual, some make not a blind bit of difference -- at one point the Doctor can either pay for tickets or hitchhike, with either option leaving you on the same set of pages -- while others give you wildly differing plots -- one choice either gave me an engine fire or looting pirates... the second option sounded much more exciting. Something else I've berated before is the lack of consistency of plot when things like this happen, though I suppose it's to be expected when you're choosing a story rather than your actions (it's less forgivable when it occurs in the latter, in my opinion). It's not necessarily a bad story, but the scope of it seems a bit broad for such a short book: trying to squeeze arriving at a spaceport, meeting someone (a choice of two, of course, as this is part of the formula in a Brake book (not mentioned before because I have plenty else to whine about!)), losing the TARDIS, getting transport, a spaceship accident, two different reasons for this (at least), ensuing incidents, and finding the TARDIS -- along with the all the options required to make these things happen -- seems a bit much for 102 sections, as many of the incidents are quite brief. Still, there are space pirates -- that's always cool.

I'm sure regular readers can guess my conclusion. Brake's style of choices sap much of the fun out of playing this kind of book, and when you pair it with an over-ambitious plot (passable, but not as fun as some), you're once again looking at an entry at the lower end of the spectrum.

Bond from the Beginning #2: From Russia With Love

The fact that From Russia, With Love was one of John F. Kennedy's favourite novels inspired the Bond producers to make it their second film.

From Russia With Love is probably the most atypical Bond movie, because it functions equally well as a realistic Cold War spy thriller, breaking with the series' already-exhibited fantastical bent. This is also one of the reasons it's so good however, though it does mean some may view it as a low-key aside from the series' overall development. It's also a faithful adaptation of the novel, something actually rather rare amongst these films.

It may not be what you expect from a Bond film, but it's one of the absolute best in the series.