Month: October 2014

06 “Spirit of the Goat” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


Right, Gotham. I’ve been singing your praises already today, so you better not let me down at this hurdle!

I only realised the other day that there are going to be 22 episodes of this first season of Gotham. That’s the old-style season length given to American shows as-was, and whilst I’m sure someone will correct me, you don’t see that many of these any more.

You could can argue over whether this is a mark of confidence, arrogance, or cynicism (may not get a second series, so will wring all the money out of it whilst they can). What it does do is change the dynamics of the series-arc. Whereas with American Horror Story or Defiance, this would be about the halfway point, with Gotham we’ve barely gotten started.

So, err, no pressure guys.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers)

Heresy of the Week – A Man of Steel TV prequel might not be a bad idea


Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

“In the wake of Gotham‘s burgeoning success in bringing a pre-Batman world to TV screens, it seems that certain people linked to DC are considering a prequel series to Man of Steel, set on Krypton. And contrary to what the naysayers might thing; it really could work.”

Read on…

Interzone #254 (Sep/Oct 2014) – A Review

interzone 254

Does TTA Press head honcho Andy Cox read my blog, I wonder? In the case of the reviews of Interzone and Black Static, I’d have to say yes; more than once he has shared them on Facebook and Twitter. So it was pretty clear that he’d read them — at least enough to make sure that I wasn’t slandering his name.

But now I wonder if he might not have been listening a little more carefully; this is because issue #254 contains, for the first time, a pair of columns.

This is a feature which Black Static has boasted for a long while, and which regular readers (Hello to both of you! -Ed) will know that I have long said Interzone needed. And whilst Jonathan McCalmont isn’t a name immediately familiar to me, Nina Allen is exactly the sort of person this job demands.

Read on…

10 “In the Forest of the Night” (Doctor Who series 8) [SPOILERS]

doctor who peter capaldi

 The titles of episodes have, this season, been a bit terrible, if I’m honest. They’ve oscillated from the obvious (“Kill the Moon”) to the misleading (“Robot of Sherlock”). I rather liked “Deep Breath” as a title for the series premiere, but since then they have failed to wow.

This week’s episode is entitled “In the Forest of the Night”, which is a line — for those who don’t know — from the William Blake poem “The Tyger”. I quite like using strains of poetry for titles, but past experiences with this series of Doctor Who have left me a little concerned this might be another of those ‘up the garden path’ bits.

The quality of Calapdi’s first season at the TARDIS console has improved markedly over the last few weeks, and he is rapidly achieving what I knew he could and desperately wanted him to. The dark, grumpy, Troughton-esque performances he gives has been lightened with a touch of razor wit, and a dash of Doctor-y niavety.

But this episode puts him with Clara and Danny’s pupils again, which I didn’t particularly enjoy the last time, in “The Caretaker”. So will this round improve the formula any?

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Is Southend at risk from Ebola epidemic? In a word, no

london southend airport

Ebola is big news at the moment, and there are a lot of people worried about the potential of the disease to jump from West Africa to this country. So far I see little evidence of it doing so — there is a world of difference between the standards of public health in West Africa, and the proud pinnacle of our NHS.

However, not even Southend is immune to the fear. Some, as I say, is legitimate. Much should be assuaged with facts, figures and reason.

Ebola even featured at the full council meeting of Southend Borough Council last week, in a question asked by Conservative frontbencher Cllr Lesley Salter. As I would imagine most residents do not watch the full council meetings (No, just nutters like you -Ed), I will produce the exchange between Cllr Salter, and Labour group leader Cllr Ian Gilbert, below.

Cllr Salter began by asking:

In the light of the global escalation of the Ebola crisis, and with an international airport on our doorstep, would the portfolio holder responsible for public health let us know what training the airport staff have been given, and whether checks are being, or going to be, made on passengers arriving there.

Cllr Gilbert’s response followed:

Staff from Southend airport recently participated in a multi-agency Essex-wide training event on Ebola. Prior to this, the airport team had put on public display the public health information provided to central government, on awareness of the Ebola virus, its symptoms, and the appropriate action to take should you feel that you may have been exposed. The airport had also briefed its staff, and liased with its airport partners in respect of aircraft cleaning protocols and has subsequently reviewed its actions in line with central government advice, and other airport operators’ actions.

Enhanced screening for Ebola has already commenced at Heathrow and Gatwick, where most affected flights from the region arrive. Screening for Ebola is also due to commence at the Eurostar terminal. The decision to further extend screening to other UK ports is a UK matter. The government are continuing looking at what further action is needed, based on latest medical advice.

Cllr Salter then asked a supplementary question:

In your answer you said that they’ve put on public display the public health information provided. Would the portfolio holder consider providing our residents with basic guidance on what they should do if they feel at risk of exposure and are unwell themselves, or concerned about friends and family? Maybe simple things like handwashing. I was thinking along the lines of letting them know that they should not go directly to the GP or out-of-hours service, or to A&E, but stay at home and phone them for advice first.

To which Cllr Gilbert responded:

I think it’s very important that we actually follow the advice from the government on this. I think that if each council was drawing up its own policy, we may well end up with more confusion and perhaps mistakes being made. But I will take all the points that she raised back and discuss them with our Director of Public Health to see what further can be done.

I, personally, think that Cllr Gilbert is exactly right, and whilst I wouldn’t want to suggest that Cllr Salter shouldn’t have asked the question (Praise where it’s due, she actually seemed to be on her game, whereas her party colleagues looked like a gaggle of shambling corpses, still shell-shocked to be out of power -Ed), her suggested advice is a little on the patronising side, and she ignores one key fact.

This I want to highlight above all else, because even more than statistics on the spread of the disease, even more than the strength of British public health, this should reassure any Southender worried about Ebola. Yes, our town has an international airport, but:

No flights at all land at Southend Airport from the affected parts of West Africa!

Conversations on the doorstep: The reluctant Kipper

After an illness-enforced absence last weekend, this morning saw me back out on the campaign trail, knocking on doors in Milton ward, Southend. Refreshed by the extra hour in bed, and helped by the surprisingly dry and mild weather, I managed to make surprisingly quick work of the streets I had set myself to do.

Mostly this was because people weren’t in — or had better things to do on a Sunday morning than answer the door to a nutter talking politics — but I still managed a few good chats with residents.

One which stands out for me, is the gentleman who told me he would probably vote for UKIP, whilst at the same time that he didn’t much rate UKIP as a party, or Nigel Farage. His support boiled down to a single issue: the European Union.

Read on…

01 “Non Est Asylum” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]


constantine title

Declaring an interest here: I am a big fan of the Hellblazer comics, the source material for this new TV adaptation which is going by the name of Constantine.

The dark themes, and unflinchingly bleak look at a magician from Liverpool (Yay!) are hynotically well-written, with characters that leap of the page. I even like the 2005 Keanu Reeves film, also titled Constantine, which wasn’t much of an adaptation at all.

But this, this I have been looking forward to since it was announced. It promises to stick closer to the source material than did the film, and from the look of Matt Ryan in costume as the eponymous main character, it is off to a good start. The question, though, is how much of the comic they can get away with bringing to the screen.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers)

03 “Edward Mordrake (Part 1)” (American Horror Story: Freak Show) [SPOILERS]

ahs freakshow

How can we be at the Halloween episodes already?

I know that Halloween is next week, and that its always a two-parter, but it certainly underscores the march of time. Halloween is usually the time that American Horror Story does its most overt tilt at the tip of the cultural horror iceberg. There’s a lot that can go wrong here, but I sense that actually Freak Show has the best potential outlet of all the series so far.

Potential is what this series thusfar is thriving on. It’s not delivering on all of it immediately, but to me that has seemed like a sense of timing and rising tension, that an actual misstep. So let’s see what it can do with the first part of its Halloween two-parter, “Edward Mordrake”.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Kipperwatch! Committee system sunk as UKIP don’t turn up

kipperwatch local

In the run up to the elections in May, I warned that UKIP did not make for good representatives. In the European Parliament, their attendance has been nothing short of dreadful. They consistently rank amongst the worst absentees, whilst taking home all the same pay and claiming all the same expenses as those MEPs who do the job.

It does not surprise me therefore, and should not surprise anyone who pays attention to Southend local politics, that at last night’s full council meeting in Southend two fifths of the UKIP group were absent.

What pushes this even further into the realms of absurdity, is that the absence of those kippers meant that a policy that they supported — changing the council from a cabinet system to a committee system — failed.

Read on…

05 “Viper” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


One surprise from Gotham in the first four episodes, has been the number of appearances from Bruce Wayne. The young actor playing the role is good, don’t get me wrong, but I hadn’t been anticipating such a focus on someone who is some ten to twenty years from being Batman. So nobody — surely — can be expecting an appearance by the Caped Crusader.

Unless they go down the flash-forward route… (As in the opposite of flashbacks, not the Robert J Sawyer novel. And let us hope they do not take the former option -Ed).

The point is that, if they have made such an effort to keep referring back to the boy that we certainly haven’t forgotten about, then something is looming which is going to involve him doing more than moping.

I’m just saying.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)