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OMFG CATCH 22!

Posted February 12 into Telly by John Birmingham

I had no idea this was even in development, let alone as a six part TV series. Directed by George Clooney!

Also I have no idea where it'll run locally, but wherever that is, I'll be there. I fucking LOVED this book when I read it, and six or seven hours of peak TV feels just about right to deliver it to the screen.

10 Responses to ‘OMFG CATCH 22!’

she_jedi mutters...

Posted February 12
OMG YES!!!

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PaulC would have you know...

Posted February 12
On Stan, apparently. 18 May.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted February 12
Hell yes, I've added that to my watchlist in Stan.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted February 12
I'm leaning back in bed with a cigarette pre-emptively.

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jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 13
This does look pretty good.

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted February 13
I love this book every time I read it. It probably gets a run through every 3-4 years, like with The Stand. And of course the complete oeuvre of OLAM (Our Lord and Master- JB)...So a movie or tv adaptation scares me, TBH.

Besides, for my money, the ultimate adaptation of Catch 22 was MASH.

But...

Will I try it? Dammit, yes, I will.

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted February 13
I recall trying to read the book circa late high school....and I just couldn't get into it. In fact I disliked it immensely. Some many years down the track I may like it better - I best hie myself to the local library methinks.

I'd try the tv version (having never seen the older movie adaptation either) but for not having Stan on the home telly. Might resort to piracy though.

Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted February 14
Give it another go. I tried at the same age as you and ground to a halt, but had another tilt some years later, roared through it and loved every page.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted February 13
Right up there with MASH the TV series for how the Army actually operates. The only thing in the same realm is Kelly's Heroes.

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13
EFFING WICKED..

Murph...McHales NAVY!!!!

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The writers’ room

Posted February 5 into Telly by John Birmingham

I've always had an outsider's curiousity about writers rooms. They've become the standard way of beating out stories for TV, and particular rooms—The Simpsons, SNL—have become legendary beyond the industry. But most writers are solitary creatures, preferring to sit in the dark and pick at their wounds. So how does that play out?
I got to work in something like a writers room yesterday, and will be back there most of today. I can't give up the deets but the process was fascinating. It was similar in a way to what I do in the week or two before starting a new novel. Interrogating characters, pushing storylines out to their logical or more often illogical conclusions, looking for plotholes, asking why this story at this time. But it was half a dozen people in the room, not just me wandering around talking to myself (and the dog, if I can convince to her to stay with a tasty bone.)
It was mentally exhausting, but only because I was being forced to press a week or two's thinking into one day. By the end of that, we'd filled a whole wall with notes on characters, story arcs, themes, antagonists, sub plots and more.
This is TV of course, so as with movies the chances of this story ever being told aren't great; not compared with a book I decide to write. With books its relatively simple because its just me. If there's a trade publisher they dont really get involved until after the first draft is done. If the title is gonna go indie, there's a budget for cover design and editing, but that's the only outside complication. With television and movies, budgets are just one complicating factor. A huge complication, to be sure, but not the only one.
Anyway, interesting day. I'm looking forward to going back today.

12 Responses to ‘The writers’ room’

HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted February 5
Interesting; just how much rough and tumble is there, would these rooms be able to survive the likes of me or are they full of fragile entities?

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HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted February 5
mmm, crystalline souls would have been better.

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 5
They have better mouthfeel when you devour them.

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted February 5
Writers room as a concept are intriguing and baffling. I can't imagine how you can corral a roomful of creatives together without it turning into a Lord of the Flies type apocalypse, considering the natural state of a writer is to sit alone in the dark picking at their wounds. And then produce something functional and coherent without the deadline whooshing past. Sorcery.

Nocturnalist ducks in to say...

Posted February 5
You might be surprised. I mean, I was. I'm in the early stages of one collaborative project with a bunch of other writers and designers, and the late stages of another with one other collaborator, and they've both been amazing. It's not quite the bullpen JB is talking about since we're not all in the same room and doing more of it virtually, but it seems like there are parallels.

It's certainly a very different experience to working alone, but when everything clicks and someone picks up on an idea you weren't sure about, or a minor side-note on the setting, or what you thought of as a throwaway line, and runs with it in a direction you hadn't imagined, and then you see something in that and bat it back across the table with a new spin, and someone else sees a whole new level to the thing growing out of that that then the rest of you build on in turn... It can be really exhilarating.

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted February 5
Laughed when I read " FUNCTIONAL" and in a WRITERS THREAD no less......

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted February 5
HAHAHA! See? Sorcery.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted February 5
I think the trick would be in the person collating the group. Would be a massive advantage being able to put talented people that would work together in the same room. Which might mean not necessarily the best - you get a better result with a group of like minded people vs one massive talent rail roading everyone else into their vision. I definitely work better in groups - i am very slow in my own creative juices or leading a group and work better bouncing off other people in the room and contributing/refining.

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Naut asserts...

Posted February 5
It was 1,000 monkeys with 1,000 typewriters, wasn't it?

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Vovchara reckons...

Posted February 6
Everytime I hear about Screenwriters sitting in a room and gaming the script, I am wondering, how is it possible that we get more often than not some incohirrent crap as a story in a TV-Show or a Movie?

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Leftarc swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 6
Would have had some similarities to home. I assume there would have been one writer snoozing under a desk, farting away.
And ready to claim all the credit when it's done.

Nocturnalist mumbles...

Posted February 6
I don't know if the process here is the same as the Hollywood one but there's an interesting old blog post by John Rogers about how credits on writing teams actually gets handed out and decided on:

http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2007/03/writing-arbitration-letters.html

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The Stand. A ten part TV series

Posted January 31 into Telly by John Birmingham

CBS has green lit the latest adaptation of the King's masterwork. A ten part, one-off series for its streaming service. The golden age of TV can't last, but it's got a few years left to run it seems.

One of the writer/producers, Josh Boone, tells a great story about coming to the work as a young boy.

“I read The Stand under my bed when I was 12, and my Baptist parents burned it in our fireplace upon discovery,” Boone said. “Incensed, I stole my dad’s FedEx account number and mailed King a letter professing my love for his work. Several weeks later, I came home to find a box had arrived from Maine, and inside were several books, each inscribed with a beautiful note from god himself, who encouraged me in my writing and thanked me for being a fan. My parents, genuinely moved by King’s kindness and generosity, lifted the ban on his books that very day.”

6 Responses to ‘The Stand. A ten part TV series’

she_jedi reckons...

Posted January 31
That anecdote gave me ALL THE FEELS! Also, I'm very excited about a new adaption of the Stand, especially in this golden age of TV.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 31
I know rite!?!

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Brother PorkChop puts forth...

Posted January 31
Wonderful book. Awesome news with a little trepidation around doing it right.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 31
The guy in charge sounds like a fan, which will probably work out okay.

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jason is gonna tell you...

Posted February 1
No offence John but The Stand is probably my favourite book in the genre. I cannot wait for this to hit my screen.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted February 1
None taken. Mine too.

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The New Doctor

Posted October 9 into Telly by John Birmingham

I was going to watch the new Dr Who with my son last night but he got a better offer—some teen fangrrl, so it was a genuinely better offer. I ended up watching on my lonesome in the library and on an iPad rather than the TV.

I probably should've dragged my lazy arse down to the big teev. There were some nice shots and set pieces and they probably deserved the whole 55 inches.

Still, I loved it.

Confession time, I haven't really kept up with the rebooted Who. I found Christopher Ecclestone a bit of a git and by the time Tennant and Smith had done their turns, my unwatched stack o' shame was piled way too high. Having watched and enjoyed Jodie Whittaker's debut last night, I'm now thinking I should go back and catch up with the modern series.

The new lady Who was great TV. It paid homage the traditions of heritage and all the legacies of this and that, but Whittaker's Time Lord started afresh, having been stripped of the Tardis and sonic screwdriver and, initially at least, a coherent sense of self. Thankfully the identity confusion didn't go on too long—looking at you, Sylvester McCoy—and as the narrative stakes were raised the new Doctor confirmed that she does indeed make house calls and kick arse.

I didn't find the gender switch difficult, or even momentarily distracting. I dont know how Whittaker does it, but she managed to channel the animal spirits of all the Doctor's who went before her, while filling out a new character whose novelty was a lot less about gender than it was about personality.

I liked the companions. They were solidly grounded in the canon of everymen and -women who've travelled with the Doctor for decades, and it never ceases to impress me how the writers resolve all of the plots' questions and problems without resort to weaponry.

I wont discuss the plot because there is an element of mystery that'd be rooned by spoilers, but it was pretty classic Who.

Bottom line, I enjoyed it greatly.

6 Responses to ‘The New Doctor’

Barnesm mutters...

Posted October 9
Dangerously encroaching on Girl Clumsy terf, she has already had a New Doctor tweet stolen.

I really enjoyed the show as well. I will save most of my wry observations for GC's recap but a meme I have seen has the new doctor next to the phrase.

'A bit of adrenaline, a dash of outrage and a hint of panic knitted my brain back together.

I know exactly who I am'.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 9
Where is she recapping?

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted October 9
I can't seem to provide the link here website https://www.nataliebochenski.com/

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted October 12
We have been watching in ebbs and flows over the years. The last doctor we have missed the most of so and seeing i have two girls it might be a good time to jump back in. But i missed the release because i was away on a junket and the eldest (13) has her black belt pre-grading this week. So its going to be sunday before we all get to sit down together to watch it! (We could do it after 8pm sometime before then but the youngest who is 10 has an over active imagination and prone to nightmares and . . . well . . . i'm kinda selfish and like my uninterrupted sleep more than getting my new doctor fix)

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted October 16
I liked Doctor Who when they put in Martha Jones , then I went off it when they replaced her with Donna Nobel, who mugged up every scene at one point saying ' I laff u, doctor ' and I haven't been able to watch any since. I never got into the whole Billie Piper Bad wolf thingo either.

I do like the Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime, that is an utterly fascinating science fiction television series and its beautifully shot. Every scene looks like a million dollars. The lighting and film work makes it look like a feature film of yore, unlike a lot of new TV which look like super clean SLR shot HD video with a heavy emphasis on naturalistic (i.e dull) lighting. I really don't know when every director of photography decided that natural low key lighting realistic lighting was the way to go, but it certainly detracts from the idea of drama, surrealism, and art.

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 16
How is Jon Pertwee going these days? Still up to those Doctor hijinks?

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Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime

Posted September 3 into Telly by John Birmingham

It's always a surprise when the movie is better than the book. Then again, I suppose that's not surprising. You can pack so much more into a book that you can into an hour and a half, maybe two hours on-screen. The relationship between books and longform TV series bears this out. With a lot more time and space across twelve episodes, or even many years, shows like Game of Thrones or even True Blood (at least in its early seasons) don't feel cramped or rushed in the way that cinema adaptations sometimes can.
Most of the movies that came out of Tom Clancy's books work well, however. Perhaps the books were cinematic. Perhaps Clancy was more of a paint by numbers storyteller than most novelists. Whatever. It still feels weird that I've been so impressed with the 'adaptation' of Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime. I put the snarky quotes out there because the series isn't really an adaptation. It's not based on any of Clancy's books. It's more like James Bond of the Daniel Craig era, taking a well-known character and story world and simply applying the template to a new series of adventures.
I'll cut to the chase. It's really fucking good. Brilliant actually. Whether judged on its own merits or as an interpretation of Tom Clancy's original work, this TV series can stand up as one of the real grace notes of the current golden age of television.
It's better than Clancy. There, I said it.
I was a big fan of TCs novels when I was younger. I really admired, and I can still admire, the way he built his story engine. It was a powerful, stripped down piece of narrative engineering, and Clancy let it rip across a couple of books in particular which can be regarded not just as classics of the genre but as seminal works that actually created a genre.
Still, they had their problems. Tom was much better when writing about technology than he was when writing about people. In his later novels he simply couldn't stop himself preaching about politics. And the further he moved from his techno thriller roots into the realm of espionage writing, the worse it got for the reader.
But damn it, I did love those books. So I was more than happy to give this series a look.
Did I mention it was better than Clancy?
Partly I think this is due to the natural development and evolution of the storytelling art, especially on the small screen. As a culture we're just much better at this than we used to be. If this series had been made in the 1980s it would have been truly terrible. I doubt it would've got much better ten years later. But twenty years into the golden age and there are a lot of talented people with a lot of experience telling great stories on small screens working for the Beast of Bezos on this.
So, what's the premise?
Unsurprisingly the bad guys are beardy nutters. Pleasingly they are not just cardboard cutout Jihadi whack jobs. In fact the writers spend more time filling out the back story and explaining the very human motivations of the bin Laden-like character, Mousa Bin Suleiman, than they do on John Krasinski's young Jack Ryan.
Krasinski is great, by the way; arguably the most interesting and fully realised incarnation of this character so far. And he had some big shoes to fill given the names who've tried on the role before. But Ali Suliman as Mousa Bin Suleiman is uterly compelling. The writers and producers give his character real depth and breadth. He's not just some villain of the week.
Another casting win – Wendell Pierce as James Greer.

Pierce is one of my all-time favourite actors. If you know him it is probably as Bunk in The Wire, but he's done some amazing work in both movies and TV. Again, like Krasinski he had a hard act to follow, picking up the James Greer role from James Earl Jones who played the later career spy boss opposite Harrison Ford in the movies. This Greer is aggressive, foulmouthed and very much on the outer at the agency after screwing up badly on assignment in Pakistan. There is a further tweak to his story that I won't give away because it's unexpected enough to count as a pretty big spoiler, but it does testify to the producers having a real pair of cast iron story balls on 'em. You can read this series is something of an extended buddy movie starring Krasinski and Pierce. The actors work so well together that watching the evolution of their characters' relationship is as much fun as following the fast moving plot.
And it does move fast. The producers have really tuned up Tom's story engine, strapped on a couple of nitrous tanks, and lit that fucker up. The plot, which so far seems to be driven entirely by terrorists rather than Clancy's traditional enemies of Russia and China, flies along. The hour-long episodes are dense, but in a good way. There's is a lot happening here. A lot of action, a lot of character development, a lot of SPLOSIONS.
The splodey is excellent. There seems to be at least one kinetic set piece per episode, and lots of lesser opportunities for the writers to break things and hurt people.
I'm about six episodes in so far, about halfway through the season, and I don't see myself rationing the rest of the series to eke it out. I'm enjoying it too much. If you have access to Amazon Prime, you should check it out.

5 Responses to ‘Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime’

thetick puts forth...

Posted September 3
I watched the first three episodes of this yesterday on Prime, which I Wholly Did Not Intend To Do.

It's as you say, fucking great. Krasinski is pretty convincing as the Boston Irish Ryan and the villains of the piece are really, really well drawn.

And now if you'll excuse me, I need to go uh...watch another episode. Or three.

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Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted September 3
Hear, hear!

Excellent product right of the bat. Can stand up the comparison with The Bridge and The Fall. And series 2 is already in production.
PS while you are at it, can you UPS me either Abbie Cornish or
Dina Shihabi. Damn those two are bumped up the shortlist for the upcoming Bond flick.

If you haven't seen this, go, now, quickly, Yalla yalla!

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Oldy ducks in to say...

Posted September 3
I'm five episodes in, and I agree with every word you've written. Absolute love.

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Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5
I am halfway through and got to say it has exceeded my expectations. Not completely sold on Jim from The Office as the eponymous protagonist but hes competent enough that I can roll with it much as I did with the new Han Solo who filled the same shoes under similar circumstances.

Totally agree that the well created villains really make the story. You can understand and even feel some empathy for their circumstances without forgiving their actions.

It is interesting to note that much of the dialogue is not spoken in English. There is heavy reliance on subtitles for the many many scenes in French and Arabic. This is really helping me focus on and appreciate the show because I am forced to pay constant attention to the screen and not be distracted by the devilish black mirror in my pocket. Its not that I particularly need to check my phone for anything and the show is certainly good enough that I'm not bored but perhaps I'm now so indoctrinated (addicted) to checking my phone constantly that its become habitual rather than out of need. I really enjoyed Babylon Berlin (all in German) for similar reasons and Patriot (set largely in Luxembourg).

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted September 5
Groan. My wallet is going to hurt if i sign up to another one. In ten years time there are going to be back alley fights with different gangs wearing head/armbands with Netflix, Prime, Stan, (Disney?) et al on them aren't there? Homemade nunchuks, chains and steel capped boots.

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Sweep the leg!

Posted May 3, 2018 into Telly by John Birmingham

I can't believe I'm thinking of getting a Youtube Red subscription just to watch this series. But I totally am. It looks great. Like, way better than you'd imagine for a reboot of this franchise. And for anything from el Goog.

4 Responses to ‘Sweep the leg!’

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 4, 2018
It looks hilariously awesomeful. I don't know if I'd pay for this many cliches in one package, but I know I'd watch it.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted May 4, 2018
bahaha. This was made on the back of this wasn't it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_Gz_iTuRMM

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted May 7, 2018
We've seen the OG Karate Kid, the remake version AND The Next Karate Kid on the teev these last few weeks....now I'm considering the subscription just to see this! 'Awsomeful' seems appropriate!

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Leftarc mumbles...

Posted May 11, 2018
And sweep it again. Its been renewed for Season 2.

http://www.darkhorizons.com/cobra-kai-renewed-for-season-two/

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