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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 mutters...

Posted April 11, 2016
OUTFRAKINGSTANDING

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JBtoo would have you know...

Posted April 11, 2016
Awesome! Thanks

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dave puts forth...

Posted April 11, 2016
Good news. Fairfaxedinthehead.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 11, 2016
Game of what?

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 13, 2016
testify

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Darryl Adams mutters...

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

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Surtac reckons...

Posted April 11, 2016
Marvelous!

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Beth McKinlay ducks in to say...

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

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

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 ducks in to say...

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 ducks in to say...

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 reckons...

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 has opinions thus...

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 mumbles...

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 reckons...

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 asserts...

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 reckons...

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 is gonna tell you...

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

John Birmingham reckons...

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 has opinions thus...

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

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted March 17, 2016
Yes?

Lulu mumbles...

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 has opinions thus...

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 reckons...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 16, 2016

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WarDog ducks in to say...

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 would have you know...

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

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Rob ducks in to say...

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 asserts...

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 is gonna tell you...

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

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Sparty has opinions thus...

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 ducks in to say...

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

GhostSwirv mumbles...

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 asserts...

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 mumbles...

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 would have you know...

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

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BigDogthePirate reckons...

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

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buboe asserts...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 would have you know...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 reckons...

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 reckons...

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 mutters...

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

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Gingernuts is gonna tell you...

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 has opinions thus...

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

Bangar would have you know...

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

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Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

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 would have you know...

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 reckons...

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 mumbles...

Posted February 22, 2016
"Warning. Spoilers."

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

GhostSwirv is gonna tell you...

Posted February 24, 2016



MIRANDA

GhostSwirv reckons...

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 mutters...

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

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Tony asserts...

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 would have you know...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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

beeso mumbles...

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

insomniac mumbles...

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 reckons...

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 mutters...

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 reckons...

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 puts forth...

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 ducks in to say...

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 puts forth...

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 mutters...

Posted December 21, 2015
Which model?

insomniac mumbles...

Posted December 22, 2015
5s

John Birmingham asserts...

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

insomniac ducks in to say...

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

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Barnesm mutters...

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 reckons...

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 mumbles...

Posted November 27, 2015
And she's awesome.

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

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 is gonna tell you...

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

she_jedi has opinions thus...

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 would have you know...

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

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Barnesm mumbles...

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 has opinions thus...

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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"The Expanse". You're gonna need a VPN

Posted November 25, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

The pilot ep of SyFy's big bet on space based... er... sci-fi has dropped pretty much everywhere but here. The producers went with a broadside releasing the opener on pretty much every digital distribution channel worth its pixels. But none of them DownUnder.

Weirdly enough SyFy's local web site invites locals to view the premiere just like they had the same rights and priveleges as anyone. But if you try to play the vid you get put in your place, hard.

Luckily, God gives us VPNs for these trying moments. I dodged around the geoblock yesterday and took in the first installment. Sorry, Murph, I enjoyed it. The Zero G fx in the first scene are top shelf, and the action on Ceres, the space station where a lot of the action in S1 will play out was both, ahem, expansive and claustrophobic. There were some echoes of the greats in there. Some Deep Space Nine. A little BladeRunner. Possibly even a nod to Justified although Detective Miller wears a stupid hat in the books too. It's almost a supporting character.

Thomas Jane's Miller looks suitably sketchy and dangerous. Steven Strait as Holden is a great realisation of the written character, but he's not my realisation of the written character, damn it. I thought the physiological stretching of the Belters was brilliant and unlike some of the critics I wasn't much bothered by the density and complexity of the storyline – possibly because I've read the books.

It did take a while settling into the on screen personas and faces of characters I'd come to know so well on the page, and it was kind of a bummer already knowing who would live and die. But maybe the show runners will diverge a little. Critical reaction has been violently diverse, but I'm gonna go with hopeful anticipation.

If enough people are interested I'm happy to do a recap as new episodes air.

39 Responses to ‘"The Expanse". You're gonna need a VPN’

Barnesm mutters...

Posted November 25, 2015
Without admitting anything about how, I too enjoyed the first episode, and unlike Murphy I really enjoyed the books so there was a lot riding on me it for me.
This, like Amzon's Man in the High Castle, I am happy to hand over cash the minute I can to obtain/see legally.
I don't promise not to use some fairly easy tech to see it prior to that if I am made to wait much longer.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted November 25, 2015
I understand and excuse your needs.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted November 25, 2015
John, you need to start a thread on The Man in the High Castle.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 25, 2015
Yes, but I need to watch it first.

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted November 25, 2015
So strange to see an actor who portrayed Alexander Hamilton in the HBO miniseries John Adams playing a Nazi SS Officer.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 26, 2015

oh Jessica Jones is my best thing to watch at the moment.


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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted November 25, 2015
I'm happy to wait until the first season or two turn up on Blu-Ray - though I have little faith in SyFy being able to monetise something when the majority of their audience believes that it is their spaghetti monster given right to view via BitTorrent.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted November 25, 2015
I was really hoping I could buy a season pass on iTunes.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted November 25, 2015
Guilty, didn't like the first book. In fact, it is the worst case of broken suspense of disbelief I have ever suffered as a fiction writer. For instance, I normally like noir style detectives, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me why I should give a shit about the one in this novel.

But the worst offense has to be the XO of the Canterbury, Holden.

I've suffered some bad leadership in my time in the military and in the civilian world. I've seen my fair share of full on fucking morons, one of which WAS the Executive Officer for 1-5 Field Artillery during Operation Desert Storm, Major Callahan. Folks talked about fragging his ass all the time and if an opportunity presented itself, someone probably would have done the deed.

Holden, from the start, is clearly a monumental fuck up of the first order. Discharged from the UN Navy for terminal stupidity, we get an inside look where he is having an internal monologue with himself about how he'd tell his CO to fuck off if he was ordered to fire on a civilian ship.

I put up with that. I put up with the fact he was predictably fucking one of his crew mates. I even put up with the very questionable decision to make this guy a main character when, if I were his Captain his ass would be chained to the reactor charged with cleaning the crevices of it with a tooth brush.

But the kicker HAS to be the moment, after the destruction of the Canterbury by what may or may not be the Martian Navy, is when he BREAKS comms silence and starts blathering away on the open air. In my head I'm wondering the following:

1. Why didn't another crew member go up there with a heavy object, bash his fucking head in, and throw him out the airlock. "I'm taking command of what is left of this goat fuck. This guy has clearly, and completely fucking lost it. Any objections?"

2. Why isn't an advanced warship using, at the very minimum, passive jamming to block any comms period?

3. Why would the crew of the Martian ship, particularly the Captain, give two shits about a transmission designed to be an insurance policy.
Aboard the Martian Naval Vessel Ares:

"Did you find that other contact?" the Captain asks.

Weapons, "I have had her on my screen the entire time."
"Destroy it too."
"But, they sent a transmission."
"Which will take light minutes to reach anyone who would even remotely care. I'm sure the Admiralty will come up with a story for it. People die in space all the time. Oh, where is that ECCM officer? Put them on Captain's Mast for incompetence."
"Aye, engaging contact."
Five seconds later. BOOM.
Or, if I really wanted to save this collection of terminal fuckwits for later in my novel, I might have had them evade to the surface of the asteroid, losing themselves in the surface clutter, or pull a Han Solo by boosting directly at the last known position of the Martian Navy based upon their fix of the weapons which had been discharged.
In any case, as I've told John before in more than one rant through Facetime, I can not for the life of me figure out why someone, if not an editor, somewhere, didn't ask all of the same questions I keep asking. Holden is clearly too fucking stupid to live.



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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted November 25, 2015
And on the off chance that perhaps I'm the only one who missed the point I went off just now to read the lowest rated reviews at Amazon.
Apparently I'm not the only one who got off the train a third of the way in. And vomit-zombies? Ah, what the fuck? I'm sick of zombies, walkers, and what have you. If the Martians fired on the Canterbury for that reason then I'd absolutely make sure I killed everyone.

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BrianC reckons...

Posted November 25, 2015
Murph
He was a civie 2nd officer of the dumping ground ship of a second rate ney third rate shipping company. I found his actions to be totally believable indeed infuriatingly so.
But horses for courses I guess

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted November 25, 2015
Brian, as I've said before, I have met no fair shortage of incredibly stupid, incompetent people.

Holden? I can't believe he can tie his own shoelaces. I can't believe anyone, even a bunch of other drooling incompetents, would follow him anywhere. And big surprise, he was fucking someone on the ship and she was about to tell him she was pregnant.

They broke the bullshit detector with that one.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 26, 2015

I also like the epiphany Miller has where he realizes he is a washed up detective links his hero's journey to that of Holden's -both flawed and fallen but both capable of redemption through the hero's journey.


Its the description when Miller realizes that the archetype of the old hand who thinks even though they are bitter and cynical still believes they are respected by their peers but is really dismissed.

"So I pick the guy who maybe used to be good, but then got a divorce. Started hitting the bottle. Guy still thinks he's a hotshot. Acts like it. Only his numbers aren't better than anyone else's. Give him the shit cases. The Shit partner".- Octavia Muss

Sometimes I worry that's me at work.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted November 25, 2015
Murphy I have previously read how you didn't like it, didn't realise you only got a third of the way through Leviathan Wakes. Its interesting what engages different readers in so many different ways and what we find goes beyond each of our willing suspension of disbelief.
One of the parts I found very engaging was consistent and hence believable for me Newtonian Physics displayed in the world. The setting of a solar system only a few centuries ahead where millions now live in the outer solar system. Also I have read one or two zombie tales, and like all good zombie stories, its never about the zombies.

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted November 25, 2015
Frankly, Al Reynolds did it far better, Barnes. Most of this uses the bones of Reynolds' novels to include Chasm City, Pushing Ice, and The Prefect. It reads like a sad fan fiction of Reynolds' work, to be brutally honest.

I don't begrudge writers, even writers I don't like personally (I do not really know the writers behind this pen name) their success.

What I fail to see is why they are even remotely successful in the first place.

Barnesm mutters...

Posted November 25, 2015
Well they certainly aren't the only writers whose significant success is a mystery to many.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted November 26, 2015
Shut up you!

Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted November 26, 2015
Barnesm LOL.Belated thanks to whoever put in a good word for Jessica Jones on netflix a few weeks ago.Can't stop watching it & am finally feeling that something out there is compensating for no 3rd season of the Sarah Connor Chronicles.'you keep pushing people away,'Jess: 'And yet, you're still here.'Love, love, loving it.

Barnesm asserts...

Posted November 26, 2015

Another great line

HOGARTH: You need to control yourself. You are coming off distinctly paranoid.

Jessica: Everyone keeps saying that, it's like a conspiracy.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted November 26, 2015
Yeah, it's an awesome show. I'm gonna write something up next week. The one problem with the Netflix model, though. Everyone is at different stages in the series.

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S.M. Stirling would have you know...

Posted November 26, 2015
I read this in manuscript -- Daniel and Ty were in my writer's group (I'm having thanksgiving dinner with Ty and Walter John Williams).

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 26, 2015
I realize they probably get told this all the time, but their's was/is my favorite book(s) to read last year/this year.

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted November 26, 2015
So . . . I should let this go, I know I should but . . . the Holden character got through an entire writer group without anyone throwing up a red flag?

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted November 26, 2015
ha. Murph are you sure there isn't some kind of small terrier in your ancestry?

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted November 26, 2015

I think some of the attributes about Holden that bug you, like how he breaks comms silence to broadcast about what they found implicating Mars seems to be a defining characteristic of the man and is reflected and commented on by significant characters in the story who have to deal with Holden.

If its any consolation the find it a major flaw in the man as well almost pathological.

So with regard to the writers room, using an old tech vernacular maybe 'its not a bug, its a feature' of the Holden Character.

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted November 26, 2015
Simon, there is a reason the Brits finally gave up on us.
Barnes, I did a google search using the phrase, "Leviathan Wakes, why is Holden such an idiot?"

What I got was a Reddit discussion with the phrase, "Pulling a Holden."

My problem is that it may be a feature but it should have gotten him killed along with anyone else around him. He is simply, in my humble opinion, too fucking stupid to live. Reading wiki summaries on follow on novels were even more horrifying, given that the idiot manages to live through every novel.

If I had been on that ship, I'd have spaced his ass and taken command. I wouldn't follow him out of a burning building.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted November 26, 2015

So what you are saying is that if I see the appearance of a character in the story who seems to be a thinly veiled version of you I should expect the demise of James Holden shortly after.

I'll keep an eye out.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted November 27, 2015
Barnes, I sorely doubt you'll ever see such a character. But if they want to Tuckerize me in order to kill Holden off, they should call me. I'll even write the scene.

S.M. Stirling is gonna tell you...

Posted November 30, 2015
Murph: the reason the Brits gave up was the French Navy.

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted November 30, 2015
Hey, don't puncture my myths, buddy!!! <GRIN>

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted November 26, 2015

I dread to imagine what you would have thought of the Martian Marine Bobbie Draper.



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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted November 26, 2015
Holden is the 'holy fool', the blind and dangerous optimist. Miller is the constant cynic, dangerous in a different way. They authors wanted to set up that idealism/cynicism dialectic so they could poke around the middle ground in an narratively interesting way.

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted November 26, 2015
OOOhh that's even better than redemption through hero's journey idea.

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted November 27, 2015
Oh, so it is Don Quixote.
Still doesn't redeem it for me.

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Blake mutters...

Posted December 23, 2015
I find Holden believable because he reminds me a bit of me. I dont think he is completely stupid, he has some measure of competency. But he's an idealist and idealists are prone to moments of emotion driven stupidity. I once had a stand up arguement with a good portion of my snr management in front of a couple of hundred staff. May not have done my progress very well but the general populace seemed to think i was a bit of a hero and i kept getting pats on the back from random people in the lift because i 'stuck it to the man'I hadnt really set out to be some kind of elevator hero, i was just sticking up for my ideals and didnt give a shit what the fallout was. ( i came pretty close to resigning that day, but instead followed it up with a bit more holden-esque emails)
Its been a while since I'd read it but i recall thinking that he wasn't jammed /killed was because the mysterious party had largely set the whole thing up as a catalyst to escalate tensions between Earth and Mars.
I think the reason these type of works become successful is because most people can ignore shit like that when there is otherwise splosions and intrigue. Look at dan brown.
I personally have little interest in technical detail in books, i must confess i skim read most of the technical guff in the early parts of AoT, although i did wikipedia warship classifications at some point so i could at least contextualise the difference between a frigate and a cruiser.
Each to their own, although a friend of mine when tasked with reviewing a local pulp writers awards told me on one novel she had cast it aside in the first sentence, because the opening similie was crap. I do wonder if she does that, how many Hitchhikers guides get lost because bricks just don't hang in the air. (and hg2tg is basically the pinnacle of written fiction ;-))

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 23, 2015
Blake, I gotta ask. What leads you to a post so far off the front page?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted December 24, 2015
Maybe he's late to the game, like me. I just caught up with this and am loving what SyFy is going. I didn't read the books, but will when this is done.

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