A Farewell to Cable

Philip HarrisChatter, Television0 Comments

This morning, a friendly Shaw Cable technician picked up our DVRs, so now we’ve officially cut the cable. Or rather we’ve cut one of the dozens of cables that connect us to reality. The decision to drop cable often comes from the realisation that it’s possible to download most content for “free”. That switch to a life of digital thievery is usually accompanied by a whole host of justifications as to why it’s okay. Whatever. That’s not how I work. As someone whose livelihood comes from people paying for entertainment that they could, at least in theory, steal, it would be pretty hypocritical of me to not pay for my own entertainment. But… there’s so much good television available at the moment – True Detective, Game of Thrones, Broadchurch, The Walking Dead, Hannibal, and lighter shows like Supernatural and The Big Bang Theory. But there’s a lot of crap too – sometimes every channel seems to be a stream of reality TV and endless variations on American Idol. When we looked at our viewing habits, there are really only a handful of shows that we really care about.  All of those shows are available for purchase from iTunes as soon as they’re shown on TV. Dropping cable has reduced our Shaw bill by over … Read More

Thoughts on the New Doctor

Philip HarrisChatter, Television0 Comments

My earliest memories of Doctor Who are of jelly babies and a long scarf so, naturally, Tom Baker is “my” Doctor. Fandom wasn’t as big a business back then as it is now but I was definitely a fan. I watched each episode religiously, ran down to the newsagent every Thursday lunchtime to by Doctor Who Weekly, had a TARDIS money box and even joined UNIT. I remained a fan of the show when Tom Baker moved on. I remember Peter Davidson’s celery. I remember Colin Baker trying to strangle Peri. I definitely remember Adric’s sacrifice. But by the time the show reached the Sylvester McCoy years even I knew things were looking bleak for my favourite show. It was a sad day when I heard there would be no more Doctor Who but I always held out hope he’d return (along with Blake’s 7). The Paul McGann TV movie provided a brief flash of hope, soon dashed by its mediocre reception. Still, a nugget of the ten year old who’d run round town searching for Doctor Who magazines remained – buried deep in my brain somewhere. So, when the relaunch of Doctor Who was announced I was cautiously optimistic. And when Christopher Eccleston appeared on screen, chased by plastic mannequins, it … Read More

All Alone in the Night

Philip HarrisMovies, Television0 Comments

News hit recently of a possible Babylon 5 movie reboot. Despite it sometimes feeling like a poor man’s Star Trek, at least as far as fandom goes, My wife and I have been fans of the show since it originally aired in the UK and “It can be a dangerous place” is still part of our shared vocabulary. It’s safe to say we’re up for a reboot, particularly if J. Michael Straczynski is running things. Babylon 5 was the first TV show that I watched that had a true ongoing story. Most shows I paid attention to back then followed the standard sitcom approach where the world at the end of an episode was essentially the same as when that episode started. My science fiction viewing prior to Babylon 5 was generally limited to Star Trek (Original and Next Generation), Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, and you could watch the episodes in pretty much any order. You might wonder why Tasha Yar wasn’t on the Enterprise that week but other than that, you’d be able to follow what was going on. Even a series with an ongoing plot like The Invaders could really be watched out of order with very little problem and the early episodes of The … Read More

In the Flesh Season One

Philip HarrisChatter, Television0 Comments

We recently watched the first season of the BBC zombie TV show, In The Flesh. Set after “The Rising” it’s the story of reanimated teenager, Kieren Walker. Thanks to a drug that allows the undead to lead a largely normal existence, Kieren returns to his home village, Roarton, and his family. But as a sufferer of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) he struggles to deal with traumatic flashbacks from his time as a zombie and the prejudices of the inhabitants of Roarton. This is the latest of several UK TV genre shows we’ve watched (the others being Dead Set and Utopia) and although I enjoyed it, I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was those shows. There’s lots to like about it – pretty strong acting, interesting characters, some good dialogue and an interesting twist or two. But the prejudice elements felt a little bit too heavy handed at times, hearkening right back to the early 20th century racial segregation rather than reflecting the more subtle and insidious prejudice that we generally see today. It also felt a bit unfinished. There is a second series comprising six episodes instead of three and the main threads are tied up in Season One … Read More

Brief Thoughts on True Detective

Philip HarrisTelevision0 Comments

My wife and I finally finished watching True Detective on Tuesday. She was out of town while it was on TV so we were watching it on demand and life is busy enough that it took us quite a while to catch up. I ended up staying off Twitter, Facebook and several of the blogs I read to avoid spoilers. I won’t be posting any here either. I’m not completely sure when or why True Detective caught my eye but I think the when was on the plane to The Bahamas and the why was the star power of McMatthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Or maybe it was instinct. Either way, like most of the Internet, we were impressed – in my opinion it’s some of the best TV I’ve seen for quite some time. It’s hard to pin down why but I tend to enjoy darker movies and I’m comfortable with a slow burn story. Stylistically it pushed all the right buttons for me and the slower pace made a welcome change to most shows. At times, it felt like we’d been glued to an hour of TV where nothing happened. I often find myself enjoying shows with shorter seasons more … Read More

So This is Christmas…

Philip HarrisChatter, Glitch, Movies, Television, The Ghost Smuggler, Video Games0 Comments

I have mixed feelings about Christmas. I’m a big fan of the whole goodwill to all men, peace on Earth thing, not as big a fan of the incessant commercialisation. And the perfume adverts…don’t get me started on those. In fact, don’t get me started on any Christmas ads. I’m lucky in that the office shuts down from Christmas Day to New Years Day. That doesn’t always mean everyone gets that time off because it’s not unusual for us to have a project in the final stages of development which means a few people are in the office fixing bugs, testing, coming up with last minute design changes etc. But at the very least the constant stream of email and meetings eases up for a week. Normally, I just stick to the one week of vacation at Christmas but this year I wanted to get some extra writing done so I took Friday, Monday and Tuesday off which means I’m on the third day of my Christmas break already. As usual I’ve got a whole string of things I’d like to get done. Finish off the first draft of Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet. Write the first draft of a play … Read More

Twelve

Philip HarrisTelevision0 Comments

So, Peter Capaldi has signed on for the life changing experience that is playing The Doctor. Although I recognise Peter’s face, I’m not that familiar with his work and don’t really have any preconceived ideas about what he’ll be like. In any case, I don’t really go in for that popular Internet pastime – critique the casting (there’s no point – we all know Tom Baker is the one true doctor). He does look like he’d fit a sterner, less whimsical, less flaily doctor though so we’ll see. However he plays the role, he certainly seems to be a big fan of the series. Of course, no Doctor Who casting can be complete without its share of controversy. I for one think it would have been very interesting to see someone other than a white male in the role, if only to see what sort of a hornet’s nest that would stir up on the ‘net. Maybe next time. [Twelve by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 7th August 2013]

Forward on Backwards

Philip HarrisMovies, Stories, Television0 Comments

Ethel the Muse was working overtime on Saturday morning and by the time I got up I had a fully formed idea for a new story – Backwards Boy. The first half was written on Saturday but by Sunday morning I hated it so I ended up rewriting a lot of it. It’s pretty short – 986 words – and it’s also difficult to categorise. In a lot of ways it’s not really speculative fiction at all. But it might be, it depends on what happens after the story ends. Unfortunately, that means it will be a tricky story to place but we’ll see how it goes. Of course, it needs to sit in my unfinished folder and age for a couple of weeks before I edit it and start submitting. The addition of Backwards Boy means I have five stories waiting for me to edit them. Can you tell I’m not a fan of editing? My goal is to get all five finished and out into the wild by the end of the year. Other than a couple of hours of writing, the weekend was filled with day job and trips out and television. Specifically we caught up with the … Read More

Long Slow Distance

Philip HarrisRunning, Television0 Comments

Sunday is Long Slow Distance day which also makes it not really do much else day. Yesterday was a 20km run – our longest before the race we’re doing at the end of November – which meant the rest of the day was given over to resting and a handful of random chores. We did watch the third episode of Grimm though and I’m still not sure whether I like it. I’m used to genre TV shows taking a while to get going (Battlestar Galactica being the notable exception) so I’m going to keep watching for a while longer but so far it seems like a fairly average show.  

3362

Philip HarrisStories, Television0 Comments

A good writing day yesterday. I clocked up nine hundred and fifty eight words and completed the first draft of the story currently known as Rainshine. The first draft wound up at 3362 words, a bit longer than I’d originally thought but pretty much an average length for me. I’m pretty happy with this one, now comes the time to put it aside and let it age for a couple of weeks. Hopefully that will give me a bit of distance so that I can come back with a fresh perspective when I come to revise it. Maybe I’ll also have my final title by then. After the I’d finished writing Rainshine, we caught up on the latest episode of Supernatural. [Slight spoiler ahead] I don’t watch a lot of TV – too many other things to do – but Supernatural is one of the few series that’s a must see. We’ve reached Season 7 though and its starting to feel like it might be time to wrap things up. I still enjoy it, although less so since we lost Castiel, but I’d rather it ended on a high rather than degenerate into mediocrity the way The X-Files did. This week we … Read More