Cheeseburger Gothic

Outlander

Posted April 12, 2016 into Telly by John Birmingham

Outlander has changed my opinion about romance writing, the same way George RR Martin changed my opinion about fantasy writing (with a little help from Steve Stirling and Peter V Brett). Diana Gabaldon's time travelling thriller has plenty of action, lots of blood, villains of the darkest heart, a kick-arse female protagonist, and a surprising amount of sex. Surprising to me, anyway. As I said, this TV series has changed my opinion about romance writing. Apparently it's a lot raunchier these days.

The second series is airing in the US, but the first has recently dropped on Netflix here. Were it not for that, and an enthusiastic write-up in Esquire, I probably wouldn't have caught it. And that would have been a shame, because Outlander marks the return to the small screen of Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D Moore. He's also Star Trek's Ronald D Moore, but Galactica is what he is known for these days. On the evidence of the first couple of eps of Outlander, his latest series is better than BSG. There. I said it.

The premise is engaging in and of itself. Clair Beauchamp (pronounced 'Beachum' in the English fashion) is in Scotland to reconnect with her husband after the Second World War. She served as a nurse on the front lines, which will soon become important. He worked behind a desk in military intelligence. They didn't see each other for many years. They visit the Scottish Highlands for a second honeymoon, never really having had a first one. Their careful, slightly awkward attempts to get to know each other again are well handled and strangely compelling – at least for me. I don't normally dig on emotionally driven narrative, but this shit is mesmerising.

Moore, who wrote and directed the first episode takes the time to make us care about Gabaldon's characters. And then he tears them apart, throwing Claire back 200 years via some druidic jiggery pokery. She lands in the middle of a small but violent battle between Redcoats and Jacobin insurgents. Oops.

Her physical and emotional dislocation is totally believable, and all of the time spent building her backstory pays off when she applies the lessons learned surviving massive, industrial scale slaughter in World War II, to the equally challenging threats of a much earlier period in history. I'm only three episodes in, but I'm already hooked. Claire is not my usual sort of female hero. She doesn't even know kung fu. But she does know enough history and medicine to keep herself alive in the implacably hostile way-back-when and Gabaldon's twists and turns of plot are perfectly suited to long form television.

The period detail is rich and dense. You can feel her abject misery at being dropped into the real life squalor of a 17th century castle which she had recently experienced only as a quaint ruin. Every scene is so layered with this detail that it's tempting at times to hit pause simply to enjoy picking apart the set dressing.

The violence, befitting the preindustrial era, is intimate. Brutal, too. There is no squeamishness here. Bones break, flesh rends, blood flows freely. The characters whether central or bit player, are beautifully drawn, the actors having some excellent scripts to sink their teeth into.

If you've put off watching because Gabaldon is sold as a romance writer, get over it. This is the best time travel yarn I've seen in ages.

30 Responses to ‘Outlander’

jason reckons...

Posted April 12, 2016
Perfect timing. I just finished Sense8 (awesome) and was looking for another binge worthy series.

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Sootynewt reckons...

Posted April 12, 2016
Coincidence just started series today up to episode six well worth watching

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dman69 mutters...

Posted April 12, 2016
I'd forgotten how raunchy the books were until we started watching this! Too true about it being a binge series - three episodes is the minimum for one sitting...

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Amanda is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2016
I will be interested to see what you think as the story evolves. It is so much more than romance! The cast, crew and author are really engaging on discussion panels and interviews, and as a fan of the book series, I have loved hearing about the adaptation process etc.

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Surtac would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2016

Sigh. Another one to add to the list.

Btw, I'm on the third season of Justified now and thoroughly enjoying it.

Thinking of freaking out my work colleagues by changing my phone ringtone to the Gangstagrass theme tune.

Totally off-topic, but while I'm here: I came across a software product for Macs today that does ebook typesetting. Have a look at Vellum to see if it meets your needs.


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FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted April 12, 2016
So is this the place where we can finally offload that I have actually read about 3 books in this series? (gimme a break it was a wet beach holiday with nothing else to do. Time travel is scifi/fantasy!). Romance is a rabbit hole best not to go down with its readership - it is varied and passionate.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted April 12, 2016
Dunno about time travel stories that don't involve Deloreans, Police Boxes, Starships or entire FKN aircraft carrier battle groups.

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JBtoo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 12, 2016
The books started off really well; richly depicted historical fiction, based on solid research,with a fantasy twist - what's not to love. I thought the series went on too long and got a bit silly. I'll be interested to see how the TV version goes.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2016
I have a policy against period drama.
Recreations/ dramatisation in crap docos can be a deal breaker.
But it's time travel. So it's sort of SF. But it's Druidy which is close enough to Greybeard to warrant suspicion.
Much thinking this will require.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2016
La Bobette is reading Dragonfly in Amber. This is not an endorsement.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted April 12, 2016
"better than BSG" yeah but if this is series four BSG that's a pretty low bar.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted April 12, 2016
Somebody had to say it. And it had to be you.

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she_jedi reckons...

Posted April 12, 2016
I love this show so much, and it's been adapted from the books with much love and faith and attention to detail. The books are monsters, these things are frigging doorstops, so adapting it for TV is a bigger challenge than you think. Gabaldon's idea of a "short story" is any other author's idea of a full length novel.

I've just started season 2, via means best not mentioned, and the first episode was an absolute punch in the gut grip you by the throat job, so it's only going from strength to strength. Those of you who can now binge season 1 in its entirety, without having a 4 month break in the middle of the season like the rest of us did, will be spared a world of teeth gnashing angst at the cliff hanger we were left on. There were memes.

I'm not even going to start with the "if you loved X you'll love Outlander..." comparisons, it's time travel via Stonehenge, there's blood, guts, sex, rebellion, politics, did I mention sex?, and a heap of well handled WTF moments, as Claire's proto-feminist 1945 assumptions smash up against the societal expectations of 1745 and leave her reeling. This is handled beautifully, because her native time is as alien to us in some ways as the time she's thrust into, and it's super compelling.

And if you're still put off by the romance tag, this show (and the book) is surprisingly brutal. Not GoT torture porn brutal, but real world, inescapable, shock you brutal. My best friend and I made a pact to watch a certain episode together because we'd read the books and knew what was coming, and she didn't have the stomach to sit through it alone.

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JPetherick is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2016

My wife was anxiously awaiting the start of Season 2 on Showcase in Canada. It is quite good television drama, regardless of genre, with probably the most realistic depiction of sex and violence available right now. And the characters suffer from that violence for more than a single episode. There is definitely a reason that it is broadcast at 10 pm on Sunday night, well after the kiddies are in bed. And, to be honest, way more male nudity than female ... which may be why my wife likes it so much. The episode that you mention - well, I haven't seen it's like on television for some time.



she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted April 12, 2016
I don't think I've ever seen its like; it's not something that would ever have made it on to a commercial channel. This is the great strength of the cable channels, they have the freedom and often courage to push the envelope way beyond their audience's level of comfort.

The brilliance, if I can call it that, of the direction and staging of that episode is that the events in that episode are so pivotal to the story as a whole, to have shied away or edited what happened in any way would be detracted entirely from the story, and damaged the credibility of the series as a whole. I deeply respect the producers and show runners from not flinching from this one in the slightest, they did an amazing job.

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Miss Maudy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 12, 2016
I've just started watching the series (well, I've just watched Episode six, after which I needed a cold flannel and a lie down, followed by a couple of episodes of Daredevil to recover my equilibrium) after reading all the books. It's so well researched and so well written that I look forward to the next one even though it's going to be yearsandyearsandyears. It's not often the actors in a telly show are exactly how they're imagined, but oh my goodness, they are.

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WarDog mutters...

Posted April 12, 2016
Really? Truly?
Gee JB all that credit you built up with me over the years, down the gurgler in one post. We kept watching this til the last episode of season 1 hoping that it would finally redeem itself. In the end we just wanted those hours back.
And there was nothing wrong with BSG until the final 2 episodes of season 9 when the writers (or whoever replaced the writers they must have shot) went all Deus Ex Machina.

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted April 13, 2016
BSG had nine seasons, who knew?

WarDog has opinions thus...

Posted April 13, 2016
John I thought we had a no cylons policy on this list.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 13, 2016
I'm not a cylon! - though that's just what a deep cover cylon would think.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted April 13, 2016
those are my wife's favourite books. Our conversations go like this,
me: what are you reading?Her:outlander again, I love her diologue, such good stories.Her: what are you reading?me: turtledoveHer: nazis or lizard stories?Me: lizards again, the nazi stories are miserableHer: Just read Dave Hooper again, or something happy you miserable bastard.

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted April 13, 2016
Damn you JB! Damn you to heck. Just when I got my Netflix addiction under control and back under my download limit you come along and do this. Imma get MrsS to hold you personally responsible when our internet gets throttled (again)

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Tourist asserts...

Posted April 13, 2016
I've found Outlander to be the perfect thing to share with Mrs Tourist. It provides the a good balance of swords and muskets to keep me interested, and dashing Scottish boys saying romantic things so that Mrs Tourist can get her fill of romance... and by that I mean alternating between looking wistfully at the TV and back at me in that "why can't you be more like that" way.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted April 13, 2016
Time Travel? All you really need is The Time Tunnel.

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Sandra R swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 14, 2016
I'm so glad you like it, and I'd love your thoughts once you've seen the first series, especially as this show is genuinely shown through the female gaze. Episode 7 is on repeat in this house. As much as it's centred around a central female lead, Tobias Menzies steals every scene he's in, and you're going to loathe him by the end. Thankfully, the first series was a great adaptation of the book, it's so good to see my favourite series come to life. It's one long love letter to Scotland.
The books are huge, dense and extensively researched, whether it be a herbal remedy, Gaelic phrases, 18th century surgical techniques or obscure battle references, but they are very hard to define. Historical romance they definitely are not! I love them all, but books 2 and 3 are especially good. Get into Season 2 as soon as you can.



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AuntyLou would have you know...

Posted April 15, 2016
Well I started watching this a week or so ago. A number of female friends were waxing lyrical about it. So far the most interesting bit has been recognising that the castle in episode 2 is the same one used by the Monty Python crew for Holy Grail. Hubby & I spent a lovely afternoon singing silly songs on the grounds of Doune Castle whilst using (attraction supplied!) coconut halves as nature intended ie percussive instruments. That is about it for me. The girls assure me that I will change my tune around episode 7. I don't do swooning over muscles...so we will see.

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Mike swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 16, 2016
Damn really? I figured this HAD to be terrible, but now I need to watch it.

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CathieT swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 18, 2016
I read the books several millennia ago - and was delighted to hear that the series was on Netflix and even more delighted to see the lady author herself as an executive consultant.
Up to Ep 7 (small binge) and am really enjoying it.

I could say that Sam Heughan is a fabulous James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser - but I don't want to demean this post by bletherin' on all girly like aboot his muscles, so I'll just pull up right here!!

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Sue has opinions thus...

Posted May 16, 2016
I can't believe you didn't even mention Jamie.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted May 16, 2016
Ah, when I wrote this post, I had really progressed far enough through the series to see how important he'd become.

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Welcome Ms Clumsy to the Writer's Room

Posted April 11, 2016 into Telly by John Birmingham

Girlclumsy's Game of Thrones recaps for Fairfax were the gold standard. So, naturally, they got rid of them. Paul Sheehan's gardening leave isn't gonna pay for itself, you know.

However, fans of her work will be able to enjoy them here at the Burger from the end of the month when the show returns to HBO. Or Foxtel. Or your nearest sketchy file sharing website.

She will be sitting up all night writing them, and fanning herself insensible at thoughts that Jon Snow might return as the sexist snow zombie ever.

If you would like to reward her efforts – and she really does write one of the best GoT recaps in the business – you can tip her a few gold doubloons at Patreon.

15 Responses to ‘Welcome Ms Clumsy to the Writer's Room’

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted April 11, 2016
OUTFRAKINGSTANDING

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JBtoo has opinions thus...

Posted April 11, 2016
Awesome! Thanks

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dave is gonna tell you...

Posted April 11, 2016
Good news. Fairfaxedinthehead.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted April 11, 2016
Game of what?

insomniac mutters...

Posted April 13, 2016
testify

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Darryl Adams mumbles...

Posted April 11, 2016
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!

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Surtac has opinions thus...

Posted April 11, 2016
Marvelous!

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Beth McKinlay would have you know...

Posted April 11, 2016
An excellent result for all Beloved Throners

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted April 11, 2016
I had an epic *squeeeee* moment as I signed my life away to patronise the hell out of MsClumsy on Patreon. This is fabulous news

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Rhino mutters...

Posted April 12, 2016
Outfuckingstanding! That was one of my fave things to read - so glad it isn't going away. But, as a grubby munter I have to whine, buuuuut what abouttttt the podcastttttt?
The question now is how to drive her Fairfax only fans over here to indoctrinate, errr welcome them?
A bit ironic that the king of the White Walkers is hosting the Queen of All Things Jon Snow.
Has everyone heard the newest JS resurrection rumors? It ain't Mellisandre that does it.

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girlclumsy is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2016
Thank you all so much, Burgers!I'm chuffed to be here this year - and can't wait for GoT Season Six. My goodness I'm champing at the bit. To answer Rhino's question - Stu and I will still be podcasting! We'll probably do that on Tuesday nights, with the aim of having it out late Wednesdays or Thursday.And yes, JB is right when he says I am all a-flutter about a possible Snow Zombie.

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SZF asserts...

Posted April 12, 2016
Hound: Hmpff. Of <u>course</u> they canned the pop culture writers from Fairfax.Arya: Lots of people canned writers from Fairfax.Hound: Lots of cunts.
Glad to see Raven On lives...err...on.

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pi puts forth...

Posted April 12, 2016
Please accept bitcoin?

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Tourist mutters...

Posted April 13, 2016
I think I actually enjoy her recaps more than I enjoy the show. Its always painful knowing the recaps are out, but having to wait a month or so till I've seen the relevant episode (I'm an itunes peasant) before I can read it.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted April 13, 2016
oh me too, ever since I stopped watching the show Ms Clumsy's recaps have been my favorite source of information on all the happenings.

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11/22/63. Streaming on Stan

Posted March 16, 2016 into Telly by John Birmingham

There have been two big books in the back nine of Stephen King's writing career. Under the Dome, his allegory for the sorrows of modern American politics, and 11/22/63, a thousand page trip, via the mysteries of time travel, through America's Camelot years. Both have been adapted for television, but 63 is by far the more successful – at least for now. A large part of the problem with Dome was its initial success, which ramped up the pressure to stretch the series well beyond its natural life. By the start of its second season, it was unrecognisable.

The writers and producers of 63 (King himself is an EP, along with JJ Abrams) have done some major re-engineering of the book's narrative structure to fit it into the more demanding confines of an eight part TV show. I've read the book, written about it here I think, and hugely enjoyed the hundreds of pages King 'wasted' meandering through the early 1960s while his narrator, James Franco's time travelling high school English teacher Jake Amberson, prepares to save JFK in Dallas. There's a great deal of pleasure to be had in viewing America's golden era through Jake's somewhat jaundiced eyes. Even when King's characters aren't in mortal danger, you want to know what happens next. Just fitting into the tail end of the Eisenhower era is an adventure itself for a pomo dude like Jake.

That same effect is felt with great force in the TV series, even though the story is much compressed – yes, even across eight episodes, it is compressed – and even though long arcs of the original storyline were jettisoned to make way for the Jake's TV co-conspirator, or anti-conspirator, Bill; the first 'temp' in whom he confides.

The series is now five episodes down on Stan, or Hulu you your watching in the US or via a VPN, and it's probably safe to assume the structural work to refashion the story isn't just a temporary fix. Unlike the written Jake, Franco's everyman hero won't be making multiple trips back and forth to reset the timeline. He'll likely get one shot at saving Kennedy and then return to his own time to deal with the consequences. From here on in the storyline will probably accelerate into a more kinetic, action-driven affair. A pity in a way, because the production values on 63 are high, and spending an hour or so with Jake is not a thousand miles removed from imagining yourself back there with him. The period details are very well done, although it is noticeable that all the cars – except Bill's at first – are shiny and 'new'. Doubtless sourced by the producers from vintage car clubs.

The central conceit of the book, that history pushes back when you try to change it, is well deployed on the small screen. A couple of early incidents of malign serendipity are warning enough to Jake that saving JFK will itself become a killing affair.

So, worth watching? Not just yes, but hell yes. Of course I say that as a slavering fanboy of da King. There are probably many people for whom this series would be infuriatingly slow, discursive, and oblique. But fuck them in the neck. They wouldn't know a good story from a shit and anchovie pizza.

24 Responses to ‘11/22/63. Streaming on Stan’

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted March 16, 2016
I'm still trying to figure out how saving Saint Kennedy actually changes anything.
Avoiding Vietnam? It was Kennedy that founded the U.S. Army Special Forces, and had a hand in pushing forward with Air Mobile Helicopter Forces. He certainly had Vietnam in mind.
Bumping off South Vietnam's leadership in a CIA backed coup? Again, Kennedy.
Advancing Civil Rights? If anything, Kennedy's survival would have sorely degraded the progress of Civil Rights due to the Democratic Party's fear of the same Dixiecrats who gave Truman so much grief.
Then you've got that clown McNamara. If I wanted to change history for the better, I'd make sure that guy had an accident, preferably one that left him six feet under.

Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted March 16, 2016
Just as Republicans don't look at Reagan's policies in putting him up on a pedestal, Democrats don't look too hard at Kennedy.

It's more about how they felt about the person and themselves rather than any real feeling about the impact on the country.

DarrenBloomfield asserts...

Posted March 16, 2016
I agree almost completely Murph, although I'm a little more positive about McNamara than you. But maybe I just swallowed the mea culpa in the excellent "the Fog of War"
But, in the same vein of the great Vulcan axiom "Only Nixon could have gone to China", I suspect only LBJ could bring the Democrats to civil rights.

Lulu would have you know...

Posted March 16, 2016
An alternative discussion could be - what if the Kennedy saved was Bobby, not Jack?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted March 16, 2016
Murph, King asks the same questions.

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted March 17, 2016
John, that tells me I should probably read the book then at some point.

Darren, I agree completely per LBJ and Civil Rights. Of course, in popular culture he gets very little credit for it. It did help to have Kennedy's bloody toga to wave about, so to speak.

Blarkon, true dat.

How does saving Bobby change anything?

I'm asking an honest question because frankly, I don't know much about Bobby other than, well, he got shot too.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted March 17, 2016
Hey, had to delete Lulu's entry because it was full of garbage HTML. But she said:

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted March 17, 2016
Yes?

Lulu puts forth...

Posted March 17, 2016
Oh god, I blame Outlook: I typed it in Outlook & then copy/pasted here.

Murph, as you pointed out, Jack's presidency gives an idea of what was lost by his assassination, and saving him might not have changed much.

Saving Bobby would mean a high chance that he became president in 1968, which means no Nixon for 1968-72 (or possibly ever). Also, from my admittedly limited knowledge, I think Bobby was much more interested in civil rights than Jack had been in 1963: whether just because of differing personalities etc, or whether the 5 years between 1963 & 1968 made the difference.

(SO not worth the wait)

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trib mumbles...

Posted March 16, 2016
Agreed that 11.22.63 is both kicking storytelling arse and diverging wildly from the source material in ways both excellent and disappointing.
I only read the book over Christmas, and dug it hard.

On a side note, Sarah Gadon as Sadie is luminous. Utterly different from the book Sadie, but so awesome as to make the otherwise often dull Franco look good.

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 16, 2016

Its in my to be watched list on Stan, I want to wait until the wholes series is out and binge watch.

got Stan for Bruce Campbell and iZombie, (both of which I really like)staying for stuff like this.

Schweaty puts forth...

Posted March 16, 2016

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WarDog mumbles...

Posted March 16, 2016

Thanks John. 63 and Insomnia are my 2 King favs. Would love to see someone pull together Insomnia in a similar fashion.

I'm really digging this upsurge in fantastic video driven story telling. Bigger than life books brought to full colour life with all the depth and breadth they had on the page. I hope to see AoT get the same treatment one day.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted March 16, 2016
Ha, we all do, mate.

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted March 16, 2016

I must watch Maximum Overdrive again. That to me is King's magnum opus , whether he likes it or not. Damn I loved that movie when I was 16.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted March 16, 2016
What a remarkable 'force for good' streaming providers have become. When HBO got up their brand of envelope pushing there was a polite round of applause "Finally programming that isn't hamstrung by the punishers & straighteners." (TM JB 2001)
But what Netflix & Hulu & friends have bought is well beyond that. A global audience of people with an appetite for such things makes it a viable business decision. Of course they knock off some of the thinker edges of the original texts, both for 'as broad as possible' appeal & format constraints. But I still think it marvellous. If repeat If the rights holders & production crew are paid appropriately.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted March 16, 2016
Cue Orin in three, two, one... To tell us why it's all doomed.

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Sparty mutters...

Posted March 16, 2016
agree its a good attempt- wish we'd had one "reset" though - to prove that he can meaningfully change the present (kid who gets bludgeoned etc).
The middle part of King is always the best- just being in the company of characters, not wanting it to end or even move along the plot very much.
Lets just hope the "Dead Zone" and Greg Trump Stillson remains on the fiction shelves and not History.
<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml>
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</xml><![endif]-->"shit from anchovie pizza" - nice channelling of the King there...

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Dave W mumbles...

Posted March 17, 2016
Seriously good book. Up there with The Stand. There, I've said it.

GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted March 17, 2016
Did anyone else catch that news the Idris Elba is gonna be The Gunslinger and that his nemesis of the Man in Black is gonna be played by Dirk Pitt, errr I meant that Lincoln Dude Matthew McConaughey?


Murph you so gotta read 11 - 22 - 63 King hasn't sugar-coated anything.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted March 18, 2016
See, this is where I howl.
How can the Gunslinger be adapted? So much of it exists in the mind.
Does King need a gold-plated hovercraft more than a certain other author?

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Slippy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 18, 2016
King acknowledges in his intro to 11.22.63 a debt to Time and Again by Jack Finney. It is a little slow but is also a great read by someone who must have done an amazing amount of research about NY 100 years before he was writing. Recommended.

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Justified

Posted February 17, 2016 into Telly by John Birmingham

Warning. Spoilers.

No. Seriously. Spoilers!

I finally left Harlan County last night, seeing out the season finale of Justified. I’ll be back. The fable which rebooted the TV western is so dense and layered with meaning, so well crafted in plot and character, that it’s worth a second viewing just as much a good novel is worth a second read.

I’d been concerned the storytelling might fall away as the show passed it’s fourth season, the point at which most long form TV drama seems to peak and then fade, but as The New York Times wrote of the last chapter of Marshal Raylan Givens story, “freed of the distractions of laying the groundwork for future events, the producers of “Justified” put together a focused, intricately plotted season that fully demonstrated the show’s hallmarks: the understated sophistication of its writing and direction, and its soulfulness, an authenticity and direct communication of character and place that you rarely feel in television drama.”

I couldn’t say it better myself, so I won’t try.

There were times when Boyd Crowder, as arch a villain any, including Walter White, teetered toward caricature, but you had to let him take that on credit. It would be hard loving a woman like Ava, who was more than his match intellectually, criminally and in her murderous intention to secure herself from fates. She walked on stage in the first season and straight up killed Boyd's brother, not the last man she would put down. And yet Ava always managed to come off as the victim and men died around her because of their chivalry and their stupidity about it.

Not Raylan though. I loved that great moment when he’d captured Ava, yet again, and before she escapes him, yet again, when she ruefully recollects his ability to withstand her charms. Perhaps because they grew up in Harlan? Raylan was not a man who always thought with his head around a pretty lady, so much so that it seemed to surprise himself on those few occasions when he managed it.

And the villains. What can be said of Harlan County’s towering villains? They were magnificent, every one of them. The poor, doomed bastards. I think the treacherous Wynn Duffy was my favourite. But the last of Raylan’s nemeses, Boon, was probably the most self aware. Of all the men who tried to put him the ground, Boon seemed best to understand the mythical roles that both had to pay. Didn’t help though, did it?

There was much to love about this criminally underrated show. I started to slow down my binge watching at the end because I didn’t want it to finish. But like all cowboys, Raylan eventually had to ride off into the sunset. It says a lot about the producers' and writers' understanding of their hero that they indulged us with such a generous denouement. That final exchange between Raylan and Boyd, especially knowing that Raylan did not get the life he wanted, that was an almost perfect way to close out a story.

21 Responses to ‘Justified’

beeso asserts...

Posted February 18, 2016
I didn't name one of the twins Raylan for nothing. Probably my second favourite bit of tv of all time.

SZF ducks in to say...

Posted February 18, 2016
Please tell us the other twin is named Bullock...

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BigDogthePirate ducks in to say...

Posted February 18, 2016
Ankle surgery in April & 4 weeks off work. #bringonthebinge #bingeworthy #justified

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buboe puts forth...

Posted February 18, 2016
Mags Bennet and her apple pie.
Hands down my favourite.
Followed closely by her mad son Dickie.

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Surtac reckons...

Posted February 18, 2016

I have just (this last weekend) finished watching the last series of Breaking Bad and am still unwinding from that. But I do have the season 1 dvd of Justified sitting there ready to start (along with s1 of True detectives and Broadchurch s1 as well).


But I'm ashamed to admit I also have all five seasons of The Wire as yet unwatched.

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Spanner swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 18, 2016
Oh man I just posted in the wrong thread. Now I feel dumer this Dewie Crow.

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TL reckons...

Posted February 18, 2016
I watched Justified simply because Timothy Olyphant was so good in Deadwood (if you have not seen that go watch it now). But for me, Walter Goggins (Boyd Crowder) stole the show in Justified.


I think part of the appeal is there's an element of "swamp people schadenfreude" when watching Justified. All those quirky hillbillies are mighty entertaining -- but at the end of the day I think the biggest thrill is that we don't live amongst them...


Great show though...

GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 24, 2016

4 my money ... ($20.00 ahead with Palace Movie Club) Walter Goggins stole the show in the H8TEFUL EIGHT in glorious 70mm.

It was a little hard not to keep thinking 'bout 'Boyd Crowder' when Walter was retorting to Sammy L J's ruminations on the ruckus that befell them in Q's latest bad boys r us.

Which leads me back to Justified - completed my mission to binge Raylan over the school hols - four weeks in to the new term and I surely do miss him.

Tried to get a little satisfaction with a forced binge of True Detective S2 - took me a week to get over the 2.37am end time ... either it was lack of sleep or lack of story, not sure exactly which.

All three seasons of Deadwood is sitting patiently, waiting for the family to give me 36 hours of uninterrupted TV time .. God bless wireless headphones.

Got The Wire in a remastered letterbox blu-ray boxset - up to ep. 8 - looks and sounds awesome ... don't nobody tells me how it ends.

Loved US House of Cards 3 - but really itching to back binge on newly acquired original House of Cards starring Sir Ian Richardson, so much to watch so little time.

Surely somewhere there's a paying job that offers good money for binge ... I mean they pay lifestyle commentators don't they.


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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted February 18, 2016

So may great lines. At times I would hope in real life I'd get a chance to deliver some of them, but for them to work I'd have to be in a situation I'd never want to put my self.


At least I can occasionally use the Walter White "Respect the Chemistry".

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted February 18, 2016
As far as I am concerned, none of this is Justified.

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Gingernuts would have you know...

Posted February 18, 2016
Great TV. So many nuanced characters, and great to see Damon Herriman going full hillbilly as Dewie Crow.
However, it did take me a while to get past my first impression when I saw Timothy Olyphant on screen in this role - I thought "Jeez, Cameron Daddo can act".

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Sudragon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 20, 2016
Anyone been watching Longmire? How do they compare?

Bangar puts forth...

Posted February 22, 2016
Different type of show but well worth watching

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Brother PorkChop puts forth...

Posted February 22, 2016
At a loose end whilst visiting our cousins across the pacific, I went and watched Revenant yesterday. Nice film but the preview for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies described as action, romance and horror clearly took my fancy. Who'd a thunk they could do that. So in between jawing with locals about the Huskers I may treat myself to a little PPnZ. And a couple more burgers and local brews at Leadbellys. I do think the States have changed a bit since my last visit maybe 8 or so years ago.

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Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted February 22, 2016
Ok, so today it was Deadpool. Great flick but I now understand the ratings and warnings. Not nanny state BS in this instance. Especially when my 7 year old daughter used the line "oh yeah, I'm touching myself tonight" in the right context but just so wrong. (Got a pb at little As) And she got that from the trailer that popped up on YouTube.

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Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted February 22, 2016

Started on Justified over the weekend. Only 3 eps in but I'm hooked already.

I'd forgotten how good an actor Goggins could be.

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Lulu mutters...

Posted February 22, 2016
"Warning. Spoilers."

Am I the only one who hears this in River Song's voice?

GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted February 24, 2016



MIRANDA

GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted February 24, 2016


Ooooooooooooooooppps - what a mashup!

I saw the River and Serenity overcame me.

Then I saw the Song and realised I need a Doctor fast!

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AuntyLou would have you know...

Posted February 23, 2016
No Sweetie...not the only one.

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Tony reckons...

Posted February 27, 2016
Followed Justified as each season appeared and could barely wait for the next. Walton Goggins stole each scene he was in but what a great parade of villains. What continually delighted me was the erudition of the characters, how they could be utter hillbillies but express themselves so eloquently. Superb writing. The other contemporary cowboy reboot, Longmire, is also well worth watching. Slower but completely absorbing, fortunately Netflix took it over when the cable company gave it the boot wanting to attract a younger audience. Bloody fools. It was one of their highest rating shows. Robert Taylor is wonderful as the grizzled sheriff, and Lou Diamond Phillips plays his stolid but wise best friend.

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Streaming TV like a novel

Posted December 21, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

I’ve been watching a couple of eps of Justified most nights since school holidays began. Usually on my iPad and either as an alternative to whatever the kids were doing on the big screen, or after we’d all watched something together. (Usually The Flash or Elementary, but recently Thomas has been getting into Life on Mars as well).

I’ll write something separate about Justified, which is a great modernisation of the old western genre, but a couple of times while I’ve been moving through the series I had a nagging feeling that streaming it (on Stan) was less like watching traditional TV and more like reading a novel. I got no further than jotting down a couple of ideas for a blog on the topic, before New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik beat me to the punch with this long, considered essay on that very theme.

Watching a streaming series is even more like reading a book — you receive it as a seamless whole, you set your own schedule — but it’s also like video gaming. Binge-watching is immersive. It’s user-directed. It creates a dynamic that I call “The Suck”: that narcotic, tidal feeling of getting drawn into a show and letting it wash over you for hours.

He has a lot of smart things to say about the different effects of scheduling on how we receive a story, using the example of Breaking Bad to make the point.

When you watch a series weekly, the time you spend not watching — mulling, anticipating, just getting older — is a part of the show. “Breaking Bad,” for instance, is the story of a man’s descent, or rise, from ordinary life to murderous criminality. In narrative time, the story takes about two years. Watched live on AMC, it aired for more than five years. Binged — as many late-joining fans saw it — it took maybe a week or three.

The live viewer saw Walter White’s change distended, in slow-motion; little by little, he broke badder and badder, in a way that emphasized the gradual slope of moral compromise. The binger saw him change in time-lapse, in a way that suggested that the tendency to arrogance and evil was in him all along. Neither perception is wrong. In fact, both themes are thoroughly built into the show. But how you watch, in some way, affects the story you see.

But it was that insight about streaming TV as a ‘novel reading’ experience that really stuck with me. It even mirrors the way I read books, dipping into and out of a couple of titles at the same time. I’m currently also watching Jessica Jones, Breaking Bad and iZombie, but not regularly as Justified.

16 Responses to ‘Streaming TV like a novel’

beeso ducks in to say...

Posted December 21, 2015
We liked Justified enough that one of the twins was named Raylan. The other one was Helo. Bonus points for whoever gets that reference. *we binged a lot of TV during that pregnancy once The Wife was told she had to limit movement.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted December 21, 2015
I'm guessing rebooted Galactica for Helo.

beeso is gonna tell you...

Posted December 21, 2015
Yep. We actually thought, despite the huge disparity in subject, that the characters were remarkably similar in traits.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted December 21, 2015
If Ms insomniac and I were to ever have had children together, I can just imagine what she might say if I tried to name it or them after TV characters. Well known, recently retired All Black number 10s; that's something she would consider.

beeso swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 21, 2015
It was a direct response to the pregnancy (twin, complicated, problematic) and the way they were born that fit what we wanted in a name. Plus we dislike names that are common.

dweeze reckons...

Posted December 21, 2015
Just finished series 2 of Justfied. It's getting pretty darn good and Raylan is an ace character. An ex of mine was adamant tha ther first born would be named after her favourite band - Alice Donut. Well, we split and she only had boys with her new fella, so I guess they are somewhat lucky.

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Lulu has opinions thus...

Posted December 21, 2015
"When you watch a series weekly, the time you spend not watching —
mulling, anticipating, just getting older — is a part of the show."

Yes, x 10. It also affects shared experiences. If we're all watching it at the same pace, same time, then we discuss it with each other during the week between shows.

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted December 21, 2015
I recall Da King explained producing the Green Mile in serialised format- something like that when Dickens was writing serials for a newspaper there was a near riot on the docks in America (Boston? New York?) when the ship was arriving.
The power of anticipation and a shared experience was something that he was interested in, as well as the challenge of meeting the deadlines.

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Madmaximus asserts...

Posted December 21, 2015
Justified had the best dialogue on TV. Raylan was not hero, or anti-hero like Walter White just a bit of an asshole attempting to do the right thing most of the time. Made him more interesting and very believable.Damon Herriman as Dewey Crow was amazing. Was shocked to see Dewey Crow in an Aussie TV show after watching Justified for a couple years, had no idea he was an Australian. And great to see Walton Goggins getting into the latest Tarantino flick!An underrated classic, just wish I could convince some of my mates to give it a go.

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insomniac reckons...

Posted December 21, 2015
Very OT but having been dragged into the fruit factory universe in more than one way in the last 24 hours, does anybody have recommendations on iPhone cases?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted December 21, 2015
Which model?

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted December 22, 2015
5s

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted December 22, 2015
I used a basic Speck cover on mine for ages. Cheap and protective.

insomniac puts forth...

Posted December 22, 2015
Thanks. I was sort of leaning that way already so will now topple over.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted December 22, 2015

Intriguing piece, no doubt the first of many trying to explain how streaming services change the way stories are interpreted and how they can be used.

If you would care to see how watching Breaking Bad in a single sitting effects the viewers perception might I recommend this.

I don't know if I agree with the authors assertion the "streaming services have yet to create a truly great drama. I am sure we would all have a suggestion.

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boscolamb ducks in to say...

Posted December 22, 2015
So happy to see Justified spotlighted. The chemistry and (and almost poetic) dialogue between Raylan and Boyd makes this incredible to watch. The supporting cast doesn't have a wasted (or miscast) character. You know it's so good when every show ends, and you're left wanting to watch more. I envy those who binge watch it. I so miss this show.

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Ash vs Evil Dead

Posted November 27, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

First of all, it should be The Evil Dead, but that's the only complaint I have about Sam Raimi’s reboot, running on Stan here and Starz in the US. It’s way better than I imagined or hoped, partly because everyone – producers, writers, actors, everyone – has taken the cheesy awfulness of this idea and run hard with it. The balance between scares and larfs is pretty much just right and there were more than a few times while I was watching that I thought, “We really don’t need an adaptation of the Dave novels. They’ve been done.”

The premise is pretty simple. Thirty years after Ash Williams bested the beasts of Hell, he’s living in a trailer park, possessed of just enough remnant mojo to have his way with the less choosy ladies and inspire the admiration of the weak willed and infirm of mind. After getting stoned with one of his conquests he foolishly reads her some ‘poetry’ from the Necronomicon, opening the gates to the UnderRealms or the Hellmouth or, you know, whatever.

Hell is back, and after some initial reluctance to get involved, so is Ash.

A hiatus of twenty or thirty years has allowed for a few quantum leaps in special effects and the show looks really good, without ever abandoning its pulpy origins. The script is witty and although Army of Darkness can legitimately lay claim to being one of the holy texts of the comedy-horror genre, the genre did continue to develop in the years after 1993 and this series really benefits from that. It’s genuinely funny, but still scary enough at times that you might not want to serve it up for the kiddies after dark.

I’m still at the start of the series, with new eps every week, meaning a binge is off the table unless you want to wait for the whole season to drop. But I’ll be happy calling in on Ash and THE evil dead over the summer as deadlining allows.

8 Responses to ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 27, 2015
And she's awesome.

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted November 27, 2015
“We really don’t need an adaptation of the Dave novels. They’ve been done.”

No. No no no no no. Not to cast aspersions on Ash, because I'm very much looking forward to getting into this, but does Ash have dragons? Kickass Russian assassins? Zen surfer Christian SEALs? Didn't think so. We still need movie adaptions of The Dave thank you very much. Get your people onto it :P

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted November 28, 2015
I wholeheartedly agree with you - quite possibly for selfish reasons.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted November 28, 2015
Selfish or not, this is another compelling reason. Ash clearly does not have a Professor P N Boylan in its universe either, proving once and for all that the Dave movies have most definitely not been done already. Shame JB, shame.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted November 28, 2015
Your logic and excellent argument forces my agreement.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted November 27, 2015
Understatement much. Its the reason I signed up for Stan.Which of course meant having to a PS4 because reasons.

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nuff said would have you know...

Posted November 30, 2015
Hail to the King, Baby.

It's more Evil Dead II than 3. Even reused some of the joke's,
It's been picked up for a second season.
Can't help but think hour ep's would have been better. Half a hour of Bruce a week just isn't enough.

Can't wait for you to write some more time travel shenanigan's and have him fighting zombie Hitler.


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