Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Big Cat Live
1x04 (8/10/08 edition)

3x02 The Butterfly Effect

Heroes Unmasked
3x02 New Heroes on the Block

The Sandbaggers
1x01 First Principles
See here for my thoughts on this episode.


Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller & Lynn Varley
Top Cop Pops by Vicki Vale
Book One

Frank Miller is a helluva writer, but his opaque introductions (which that Vicki Vale thing is one of, believe it or not) leave something to be desired in my opinion.

Anyhow, this is the follow up to Miller's truly seminal Dark Knight Returns, probably the best Batman book ever written -- so no pressure following it up 15 years later then! It was largely poorly reviewed on release, and I can see why -- Miller's art is too sparse, coming across as rushed more than intentionally sketchy; the large amount of dead space (often only two or three panels on a page, undetailed splash pages for no reason) smacks of padding, especially as the story feels rather slight; plus, despite the room and apparent simplicity, it can be damn hard to follow at times.

It's not all bad -- the basics of the story are a decent idea, and do follow thematically from DKR plus, Superman gets thoroughly smashed at the end of Book One. That's something I always like to see.


The Dark Knight Screenwriter David Goyer On Batman 3 Rumors: ‘It’s All B.S.’ by Shawn Adler
(from MTV Splash Page)
"“It’s all B.S.,” he said. “ALL of it.”" Sums it up!

Exclusive: Watchmen Video Journal
(from Sci Fi Wire)
"The video, Blue Monday, offers a look behind the scenes at how director Zack Snyder and his team brought the indestructible Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) to life." Includes some previously-unseen clips from the film. I really ought to watch the rest of these video journals...

M. Night Shyamalan Further Ponders Unbreakable Sequel by Rick Marshall
(from MTV Splash Page)
Please please please please please!

Review of The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Jason Sanford
(from Flak Magazine)
"then the public actually read DK2. Reviewers called Miller's minimalist artwork "hastily drawn." Lynn Varley's super-bright digital colors were described as "green, flavored mouthwash." Worse, readers didn't like how Miller mocked the very mythology of superheroes that made his original book so powerful... Which is a shame, because in between the hype and the hate, DK2 makes as revolutionary a take on what troubles the comic books industry as Miller's original novel did... Just as The Dark Knight Returns opened a comic book door to the darker aspects of human life, so does DK2 show how to return fun to comics. It also makes a kind of tangled sense. In a world where Sept. 11 happens and the Justice Department wants postal workers to monitor un-American activity, perhaps the only way a superhero can save the day is to look around, have fun and laugh."

Articles: Dracula 2

Dracula Sequel Headed To Screens? by Helen O'Hara
(from Empire Online)

"The Stoker clan have banded together and authorised Dracula: The Un-Dead to follow Bram Stoker's original novel -- and have also sold the film rights... It is, perhaps, no surprise that the Stoker family are so keen on the plan, given that Bram's great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker has written the book along with Dracula historian [Ian] Holt."

"The story picks up 25 years after the original, as the heroes of the original novel are being stalked by... someone. Holt and Stoker used Bram Stoker's original notes and found characters and plot threads written by him but cut from the original novel. Even the title of this one is Bram's original title, so with a bit of luck it will feel like a real sequel and not just another spin on the myth."

"A screenplay for the book was written by Holt with Alexander Galant, and the plan is for that to shoot next June, just before the book is released in October 2009."

There's information to be found on Wikipedia about cast and crew, but it cites no sources and no other articles mention it, so it would seem to be groundless speculation. That said, there are some odd names in there, so it might be worth tracking down if you're interested.

The Sandbaggers: First Principles

The New York Times once described this late '70s drama as "the best spy series in television history", and on the evidence of this first episode I can see where they're coming from.

Unlike modern-day equivalents such as Spooks, The Sandbaggers concerns itself more with the planning and Whitehall political machinations than with the action on the ground. As such it's slower paced and wordier, but also much more intelligent. Even at the time this would have been unusual -- spy genre pedigree is the likes of James Bond and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., after all -- and episode one does a fantastic job of justifying its style.

When a Norwegian spy plane crashes behind enemy lines, they enlist the help of the British services -- specifically, the elite Sandbaggers division -- to rescue the scientists who were on board. When the British take their time planning the dangerous operation, the Norwegians get nervous and run off to the CIA... who rush in without a decent plan and consequently get themselves captured. This, as lead character and Sandbaggers director Neil Burnside points out to his Norwegian counterpart at the end, is why planning and forethought are even more important than the mission on the ground.

The other advantage Sandbaggers has over modern-day British series in this ilk is its setting. It's the height of the Cold War, when Britain was still just about a big enough world power, with a strong enough secret service, for all this to conceivable. These days, the lengths MI5 go to in Spooks often seems a bit... silly.

It's a shame they don't make programmes like Sandbaggers any more, as its change of pace and genuinely complex plotting would be welcome in the current TV landscape. As it is, at least we can enjoy it on DVD.