Saturday, 31 December 2016

"Get ready, kiddos. It's 2016: Year of the Monkey"

The year the apocalypse was due to begin in 12 Monkeys has been a trying one for many. 2016 was the year of the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump, the entirely undemocratic accession  of Theresa May and as many people have pointed out celebrity deaths seem anecdotally to have been at an all time high.

So it seems strange to say that 2016 has been a pretty good year for me. We bought a house, I've had some work published in two books, my work situation has changed in a way that allows for more writing, and in a move that benefits us all, none of my predictions came true.

These are a few of my favourite things from 2016:

The X-Men films get a much-needed kick up the arse. Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccharin and TJ Miller are wonderful. You haven't seen a superhero movie like it.

10 Cloverfield Lane
John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. are excellent in this tense thriller semi-sequel. This is a phenomenal examination of claustrophobia and paranoia that expertly takes a tour around the genres.

Captain America: Civil War
Once you get past the notion that the Avengers disassemble over a contract dispute, this is a great team-up movie and the welcome appearance by Ant-Man and Spider-Man make this movie sing.

Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie
Louis attempts to peek behind the veil of this bizarre religion and despite not getting an interview with anyone in Scientology still manages to expose the temperament, the entitlement and the sheer bonkers nature of the cult of Hollywood.

Star Trek Beyond
The thirteenth Star Trek film is fantastic. John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and Sofia Boutella are all wonderful in film that manages to pay tribute to fifty years of Star Trek whilst forging ahead.

War And Peace
A brilliant adaptation of Tolstoy's epic. Beautifully shot, wonderfully adapted. This is how you make television. Why this famously long novel was six episodes, but Dickensian was permitted to limp on for twenty shows what a bizarre TV landscape we have.

The X-Files
Mulder and Scully return for an excellent tenth season, which ends on a cliffhanger which demands an eleventh. I demand an eleventh. I demand it now.

12 Monkeys
The second season of the series based on the Terry Gilliam's 1995 film time travel builds on the story of the first and exudes confidence as it rewrites it.

It's a relief to have the world's greatest secret agent back on our screens.

Better Call Saul
Jimmy McGill's life before Breaking Bad is expertly explored in a way that always leaves you wanting more. Prequels are never normally this good.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's semi-autobiographical one-woman play become a six part sitcom with ease. Scathing and witty, this is Miranda with balls.

Red Dwarf XI
The cast slip effortlessly back into their roles as the boys from the Dwarf return for six more episodes that see them tangle with a society that outlawed technology and undercover speakeasy scientists, a ship upon which morality is punished, a time travelling organ thief, a 3D printed Rimmer monster, a mid-life Krysis, a mid-life crisis and that rarest of creatures: a female cat.

Planet Earth II
Phenomenal wildlife photography that kept the nation glued to its screens week after week.

This Is Us
Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan are wonderful in this brilliant series about people who share the same birthday. The storytelling is inventive, the dialogue sparkles and within seconds you know these people, despite this a few seconds later these people surprise you. A rare commodity in TV at the moment.

Patrick Ness' Doctor Who spinoff set at Coal Hill School successfully bridges the age gap between The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood. The first five episodes In particular are excellent. Greg Austin, Katherine Kelly, Jordan Renzo and Aaron Neill are wonderful, but it is Vivian Oparah that gives the standout performance and needs far more to do.

Doctor Who: The Return Of Doctor Mysterio
With only one Doctor Who episode on television all year, it had better be a good one and thankfully The Return Of Doctor Mysterio didn't disappoint. Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Justin Chatwin and Charity Wakefield are all fantastic as Doctor Who takes on the Superhero genre and the results are wonderful. It was a long overdue return to fun. Doctor Who hasn't been fun for about six years, it's been clever, witty, dramatic but it hasn't been fun.

Inside No. 9
Once again Pemberton and Shearsmith have outdone themselves, The Demon Of Christmas is a fantastic fourth wall rattling replication of seventies television which exposes the depths of their obsession, and if you laugh, yours as well.

Cunk On Christmas
Just brilliant. Hopefully this will be on every Christmas.

Ultrasound: Real Britannia
The band's third album boasts another shift in tone, but once again they pull it off.

Doctor Who: Demon's Quest
The sequel to Hornet's Nest is a wonderful meandering journey through time taking in some brilliant historical highlights and doing it with aplomb. Tom Baker, Susan Jameson are fantastic.

2000AD & Judge Dredd Megazine
Far too many highlights to list, but the thirty-ninth year of the galaxy's greatest comic is another belter and sees the prog reach its 2000th edition.

Noiseless Chatter
As always, Phil Reed provides the best, most in-depth and thought-provoking site on the internet. Also, the only one that claims to have been online for thirty-five years.

Here's to a happy 2017...

Friday, 28 October 2016

Twitter Twatter #34

August 2016

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Outside In: Boldly Goes Essay Titles

ATB Publishing has released a list of the essay titles contained within Outside In: Boldly Goes:

And thus the name of mine is revealed as I'll Never Fall In Love Again

Based on the titles alone, I am very much looking forward to reading The Gorn Identity, Jack The Redshirt, Excess Babbage and 8:36, as well as companion pieces I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock.

Outside In: Boldly Goes is available for preorder here.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Outside In: Boldly Goes Personnel

Outside In: Boldly Goes features contributions from the likes of Robert Greenberger (the Editor of DC Comics’ Star Trek), Rich Handley (Star Trek comics expert and Hasslein Books supremo), David A McIntee (novelist), Larry Nemecek (writer of Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion), Paul Simpson (Editor of Star Trek Magazine), Jonathan Blum (author), Kate Orman (author), Tat Wood (About Time), Shaun Lyon (Outpost Gallifrey) and Robert Smith? (editor extraordinaire).

Not to mention hundred more also-rans like me.

And here they are...

There you have it, folks: I have written about Relics, that episode of The Next Generation in which Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott beams in, drinks something green, feels out of place and helps to save the day. And yet, that's not really what I've written about at all.

Outside In: Boldly Goes is available for preorder here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Outside In: Boldly Goes Uncovered

Here is the cover for the upcoming Outside In: Boldly Goes, which I have contributed an essay to.

There are 116 more perspectives covering every episode of the original series, the animated series, the first six movies and the most recent three.

And there's more...

There are a few extra bits and pieces in there as well. I'll post a full list of contents and contributors shortly.

Outside In: Boldly Goes is available for preorder here.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Spock The Difference

After two volumes about Doctor Who, Robert Smith? has turned his attention to Star Trek.

Outside In: Boldly Go, now with more perspectives.

Mine is one of the extra perspectives. Details to follow...

Outside In: Boldly Goes is available for preorder here.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Star Trek Viewing Order

This might be a contender for the geekiest post on here...

Star Trek is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary today.

A couple of years ago, Sarah and I watched the entirety of Star Trek from beginning to end. I posted about her reactions to it here and here, but what I didn't do was post the order that we watched them all in. More recently, we watched Babylon 5 and I had to search the internet for a viewing order to integrate the TV movies and Crusade. I was reminded that I had written an order to show Star Trek to Sarah and now here it is. Well almost, we actually watched the first Abrams film first to test the water.

This isn't a strict broadcast order list, because that would mean alternating back and forth throughout Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's run in a way that would make it difficult for any series to build momentum. Instead for periods when more than one series was on air at the same time we watched in batches as detailed below to maintain an overview of both shows.

I have blacked out my justifications for what to watch when because often they are full of spoilers. They are after the photos and you can highlight them with your mouse.


Star Trek, Seasons One to Three

The Man Trap to Turnabout Intruder

Don't start with The Cage or Where No Man Has Gone Before, no one in 1966 did. Watch the 79 episodes of the original series in broadcast order, beginning with The Man Trap.


Star Trek: The Animated Series, Seasons One and Two

Beyond The Farthest Star to The Counter-Clock Incident

Next watch all 22 episodes of the vastly underrated cartoon.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture,
Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan,
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

On to the first four Star Trek movies, ideally the Director's Cut of The Motion Picture and the extended cut of The Wrath Of Khan.


Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seasons One & Two

Encounter At Farpoint to Shades Of Gray

Jump to the 24th Century, because we're following release order here.


Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

You could watch this straight after The Voyage Home, but it's quite nice to break up TNG episodes.


Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seasons Three to Five

Evolution to The Game

Now watch the third and fourth seasons of TNG all the way through and then the first six episodes of the fifth.


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

I think watching this ahead of TNG would be quite jarring, both stylistically and also with its references to Worf, Khitomer and the way it complements...


Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seasons Five & Six

Unification, Part 1 to Chain Of Command, Part 2

...Spock's appearance in Unification. Watch all the way through to the Cardassian two-parter ready for DS9.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season One

Emissary to In The Hands Of The Prophets

Watch the whole of Season One. You should visit the space station and meet Bashir before Birthright, Part 1.


Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seasons Six & Seven

Ship In A Bottle to Descent, Part 2

Finish out TNG's Season Six and then the first episode of the final season.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Two

The Homecoming to Blood Oath

Over to DS9 for all the pre-Maquis episodes.


Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Seven

Liaisons to Journey's End

Nineteen more TNG episodes until the story that lays the foundations for...


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Two

The Maquis, Parts 1 and 2

This two-parter has geopolitical ramifications for the remaining episodes of TNG, DS9 and Voyager.


Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Seven

Firstborn to All Good Things...

Now watch the last five episodes of The Next Generation.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Two & Three

The Wire to Defiant

Before returning to DS9 for the remainder of its second season and then watch the first nine episodes of its third.


Star Trek: Generations

Now screen the seventh movie and the first to feature the TNG crew.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Three

Fascination to Distant Voices

Back to DS9 for ten more episodes.


Star Trek: Voyager, Season One

Caretaker to Learning Curve

Watch the entirety of Voyager's first season. Don't watch the episodes held over until season two, yet.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Three

Through The Looking Glass to The Adversary

The rest of DS9's third season from an episode featuring a cameo by Tuvok to the season finale.

Star Trek: Voyager, Season Two

The 37's to Cold Fire

Back to the Delta Quadrant for ten more episodes.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Four

The Way Of The Warrior to Our Man Bashir

Now watch the first ten episodes of the fourth season.


Star Trek: Voyager, Season Two & Three

Maneuvers to Basics, Part 2

The rest of Voyager's second season and the first episode of its third.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Four

Homefront to Body Parts

Fifteen more visits to DS9 takes us to the penultimate episode of the fourth season.


Star Trek: Voyager, Season Three

Flashback to Coda

Fourteen more visits to Voyager before the series reintroduces the Borg.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Four & Five

Broken Link to The Ascent

Season Four's finale and nine episodes of season five.


Star Trek: First Contact

Now it's time for the eighth film.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Five

Rapture to By Inferno’s Light

The new uniform from First Contact makes its debut and the Bashir changeling storyline plays out over these six episodes.


Star Trek: Voyager
, Season Three

Blood Fever to Worst Case Scenario

Ten more Voyagers. From the first appearance of the Borg on the series to the season's penultimate episode.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
, Season Five

Dr Bashir, I Presume to Empok Nor

Time for another nine episodes of DS9.


Star Trek: Voyager
, Seasons Three & Four

Scorpion, Part 1 to Waking Moments

Over to Voyager for the third season finale and the first thirteen episodes of its fourth.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
, Seasons Five & Six

In The Cards to Who Mourns For Morn?

The last two episodes of season five and the first twelve of season six tell the story of the beginning of the Dominion War, the occupation of the station and then get things back to something approaching normal.


Star Trek: Voyager
, Season Four

Message In A Bottle to Hope And Fear

The rest of Voyager's fourth season features the first foray into Hirogen space, the first proper contact with the Alpha Quadrant and the complications of both.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
, Season Six

Far Beyond The Stars to The Sound Of Her Voice

Thirteen more episodes of life during wartime take us up to the sixth season's penultimate episode.


Star Trek: Voyager
, Season Five

Night to Dark Frontier

The first fifteen episodes of season five take us up to the TV movie.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
, Season Six & Seven

Tears Of The Prophets
to Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Sixteen more episodes of DS9 take us from the season six finale to the last episode before 'The Final Chapter' begins.


Star Trek: Voyager
, Seasons Five & Six

The Disease to Equinox, Part 2

Eleven more episodes take us to the sixth season's opener.


Star Trek: Insurrection

Watch the ninth movie now.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
, Season Seven

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
to What We Leave Behind

We return to DS9 for the last time.


Star Trek: Voyager
, Seasons Six & Seven

Survival Instinct
to Endgame

Things get much simpler with only one show on the road. We watch the rest of Voyager's sixth season and then all of the seventh.


& Star Trek: Enterprise, Seasons One to Four

Broken Bow to These Are The Voyages...

And then all of Enterprise and then following the name change, all of Star Trek: Enterprise.


Star Trek

The Cage

Following the prequel series, we go back to the actual beginning. The Menagerie is long enough ago that we can enjoy The Cage entirely on its own merit.


Star Trek: Nemesis,
Star Trek XI,
Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Beyond

And the tenth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth motion pictures bring us right up to date until the release of Star Trek: Discovery, due to begin in 2017...

What do you think? How would you suggest to a newer fan what to watch and when?