Monday, 30 May 2011


Britain's Next Big Thing
Episode 7 (of 7)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Family Guy
9x07 Road to the North Pole [Christmas special]
5x09 Road to Rupert
BBC Three had a night of Family Guy's Road to... episodes last night, which I V+d and watched in the early hours. Sadly, they chose to only show five of the six (skipping Road to Germany), two of which I'd watched quite recently, and then my recording of the last one mucked up -- so their 'night' turns into 'two episodes'. Hey-ho.
The first one is last Christmas' hour-long (in the US) special and is all kinds of sick and twisted. I loved it. New favourite Christmas TV special! Yay!


Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver
Sunday: The Red Danube, Chapters 1-5
Monday: The Rag-and-Bone Man, Chapters 6-18

Here we go, the new Bond novel. Unlike Faulks' effort from a few years ago, this one makes like the films and drags Bond into the present day, all GCHQ and al-Qaeda and iPhones and whatnot.

We'll see how it goes, but it starts well: the first five chapters are effectively the pre-titles, an action sequence in which Bond stops some kind of disaster that has an ancillary connection to the main plot that'll follow. In the process it sets up the new world order -- the 30-something Bond who in 2011 works for an organisation more secret than MI6; his app-laden phone, complete with orders delivered via text message; his ruthless but appropriate mindset -- plus story specifics, like the threat this novel will tackle -- real-world (no hollowed-out volcanoes, of course) but appropriately grand -- and a Bond-equalling henchman character. Good going.

The pace consciously slows after that, taking Bond back to London and indulging in even more world-building. This is a Bond reboot, even more so than Casino Royale, so we briefly learn how this Bond was recruited (three years ago) and where the fictional organisation he works for sits in the make-up of MI5/MI6/etc. Plus Chapter 9 introduces us to the villain, a properly nasty piece of work thanks to his hobby. Bodes well for later. (I mean how evil he is, not the hobby per se.) And in Chapter 18, Bond doesn't sleep with a woman. Very modern. But, even though it would seem anti-Bond, it works, continuing to establish how the character might well be now, rather than dragging a product of the '50s into the '00s.

Remember the review I mentioned the other day, criticising the writing? Most of it's fine. I've certainly read worse. The foul-sounding "steaming curds" as a description for lovely scrambled eggs does stand out, though, as does this nasty use of a made-up verb:

He greeted a smartly dressed Asian woman keyboarding deftly at a large computer

Ouch. Damn American writers.

So, most importantly: does it feel like Bond? Yes and no. While previous continuation (i.e. non-Fleming) novels have slowly shifted Bond into the era they were written (much as the films did), I've never read any of them, so for me the literary Bond has always occurred in the '50s and '60s (or, in the case of Young Bond, even earlier). Unlike Faulks, who emulated Fleming as far as possible, this reads to me like a classic Bond novel crossed with a modern thriller... which I guess is the point.


Matthew Vaughn On X-Men: First Class – On The Writing Credits, On The Bond Influence, On The Difficult Shoot And More by Brendon Connelly
(from Bleeding Cool)
A variety of interesting questions and answers with... well, the title sums it up.