Now, I have to say, I like the BBC’s Merlin. This year has proven slightly frustrating in some ways (Morgana just suddenly becoming evil and showing no other character, no-one else in Camelot discovering about Merlin, etc) but it’s a likeable enough show with engaging leads and high production values.
So in preparation for the first part of the two part finale The Coming of Arthur (to be followed next week by The Mopping Up of Merlin) I decided to see if I could put together a quick drinking game in its honour.
The rules so far are that you must down a drink for every one of the following:
- A drink for every evil smirk from Morgana
- A drink for every time Arthur is either looking the other way or ends up being unconscious when Merlin magics something
- Two drinks in celebration if Arthur gets his shirt off. You know… Just because
- A drink for every time Arthur and Merlin bicker like a couple who haven’t fucked in days.
- A drink for every time Tom Ellis appears on screen. You know… Just because
- A drink for every time Gwain grins like a loveable Irish rogue
- A drink for every allegedly abandoned place still well lit by candles
- A drink for every time Morgause acts like someone stole her eyeliner and shat in her handbag
- A drink for every time Merlin goes to Gaius for advice and ends up being told they can’t tell Uther or Arthur
I was totally twatted by eight o’clock last night.
It’s that first rule that was the killer: I saw three smirks. THREE! And one was in full view of Gwen. That’s how evil Morgana is now.
Gay-themed drama (and I do mean drama, not porn) can be faintly painful to sit through as a viewer. The painfully obvious lack of budget, the clunky dialogue, the clumsy plot development, the sub-porn acting talent and not having any money to do any ADR seem almost determined to keep the genre in the ghetto.
That said, even then, sometimes they veer into the so-bad-they’re at least entertaining, if not capable of actually attaining the level of good. (Yes, The Lair, I’m looking at you.)
Recently, though, I was trawling through the darkest reaches of the Sky+ channels when I stumbled across two hot guys about to make out. My interest, naturally, was piqued, and I then found myself staying put as the show in question unravelled before me with a script that actually amused for the right reasons, and managed to stay just the right side of insanity to be compelling and not laughable.
This, as you may have guessed, was Sordid Lives: the Series, a more-or-less prequel to a 2000 film (“a black comedy about white trash”), that somehow has found itself on the ailing Film 24 channel in heavy rotation.
And I can’t recommend it highly enough. Olivia Newton-John and Rue McClanahan are the big names in a uniformly great cast and amazingly the whole thing even manages to bear repeated viewing with various subtleties revealing themselves with each visit.
The budget is clearly low (although this is not apparent from the design or the acting, more from some slightly flabby editing early on) but as a whole it really is a genuinely funny and engaging show with real warmth and wit.
There’s arguably a slightly slow start in the first couple of episodes, but the fourth (“Call Waiting”) is probably one of my favourite episodes of television ever – it’s the sort of phone-led story that was Steven Moffat’s stock in trade, pre Doctor Who – and the subsequent episodes fair rattle along from there on in.
Sadly there’s only one series, funding having been pulled after, as it would have been great to see the events of the film brought into and rationalised properly in the series (the continuity of the story in the film doesn’t totally match up).
I genuinely hope they somehow get the chance to do more. It deserves it.
It’d also be nice if the DVDs finally came out on Region 2, because I doubt Film 24 will be with us much longer…
What follows is just some piece of old nonsense young Lee Binding and I wrote a few years back. I came across it the other day and it made me chuckle so I thought I’d share it here.
The interest a few years ago in reviving K-9 for a new audience was sudden and short-lived. Within a few brief months the stories had come and gone, and it was assumed that the project had never got off the ground.
These assumptions, however, are wrong; some time had in fact been spent developing the new series and it may come as a surprise to learn that it was the intention of the producers to go back and fully revive the series K-9 and Company, even going so far as to return Elisabeth “Stepping Stones” Sladen to the role of Sarah-Jane Smith.
Aside from updating K-9, the format was to remain essentially the same; although the content of the series was to be more gritty and adult, it would still be set in the same rural middle England as the original. It was intended that a feature length pilot episode, essentially the same as A Girl’s Best Friend (“the script was up for grabs” – Jeremiah Chechnik, producer), would have been followed by a six-part series for the British home market.
Following extensive access to the producer’s archive – two cardboard boxes containing burnt roaches, scribbled notes and some pornography – we can now present the exclusive episode plan to a series that almost was.
Episode 1: A Nasty Habit.
Gradually getting pissed on cheap chardonnay in a bus shelter, Sarah-Jane is surprised to discover a coach-load of old men in suspicious brown robes and tonsured hair-do’s. Her investigations take her to the set of a medieval drama, but when she overhears the ritual chanting “Equity, Equity” she knows it isn’t water and food colouring in the Abbot’s bedpan.
Meanwhile, who is the mysterious stranger determined to turn K-9 into a novelty barbecue? What is the phenomenon having such an adhesive effect on Brendan’s fitness magazines? And why is Aunt Lavinia so obsessed with fish?
Episode 2: Eau de Humanity.
Whilst helping Aunt Lavinia shop for dungarees and comfortable shoes, Sarah-Jane decides to help her writer friend Terrance Dudley by popping into the library for “The Junior Book of Covens and Sects”.
But whom is that raven-haired librarian taking an unhealthy interest in Aunt Lavinia? Who are those hooded men lurking between “Weather” and “Wombles”? And who is that strange man Brendan discovers lurking around the public convenience? Sarah-Jane smells a rat, and it isn’t Brendan’s new perfume…
Episode 3: A Man’s Best Friend.
Running down the road in a pink tracksuit and leg warmers, Brendan is surprised by a group of men who force him to take part in rituals hailing from Ancient Greece. Meanwhile, K-9 looks to be in danger as a tall man with ginger hair and a C5 tries tracking him down.
After two pints of vodka, Sarah-Jane, fresh from taking Aunt Lavinia to her annual Bra-burning, realises this “Sir Clive” is an impostor. How will she break his sinister hold over the home computer market? Why is K-9 rubbing himself against the furniture? And why is Sarah-Jane unable to see straight?
Episode 4: Summer Solstice of Love.
A night spent formation-vomiting in the local Student Union catches up with Sarah-Jane who determines to find out just what happened after the bar had closed. Meanwhile Brendan joins an all-male wrestling group and comes under the influence of a charismatic figure known only as “Julian”.
What is the supernatural force that has turned Brendan’s hair so white? Who were those suspicious figures dancing at the union chanting “Advocat, Advocat”? And why did Sarah-Jane wake up wearing nothing but a fur coat and no knickers?
Episode 5: Not on the Begonias!
As Sarah-Jane recovers from her latest breakdown, she discovers it’s summer fair time in the village of Little Chomping. The weather is unseasonably warm and as flowers start to wilt and tempers fray, Sarah-Jane thinks that someone is using witchcraft to increase their chances of cleaning up at the produce competition. Just as she is getting close to the truth, Brendan is kidnapped by ruthless group of cultists who take him to Manchester – for the weekend of the summer fair!
If nothing is going on then why is Lily Gregson so interested in the size of Aunt Lavinia’s courgettes? What is the medication Sarah-Jane’s doctor prescribed really for? And why does Brendan still have that sacrificial stole from the pilot episode?
Episode 6: Murder, She Hoped.
It’s a particularly slack time for witchcraft so Sarah-Jane is splitting her time between perfecting her Angela Lansbury impression and setting fire to her neighbours’ curtains. When Aunt Lavinia calls from her “conference” in Brighton with tales of strange people entering her bedroom and emptying the mini-bar, Brendan encourages her to investigate. A night-time escapade ensues, and Sarah-Jane discovers Brendan wandering the streets in a seriously dishevelled state.
What is the meaning of his mysterious chant “big fish, little fish, cardboard box”? Why does he profess to love everybody? And why is Aunt Lavinia so keen to visit Allied Carpets?
I’m dreaming a lot these days – or, more accurately, recalling them rather more and I’m finding them kind of interesting – not least because I seem to be becoming “Rob Morris: Space Adventurer” in my sleep.
Now, given my status as a massive Who-er it’s probably not a surprise that some elements of the Time Lord’s adventures would creep in and so that’s what I’m putting down my battles with the forces of evil down to.
Well, that and drinking less. I’m sure avoiding nightly coma is probably helping my unconscious work through a few things.
Now, one such episode involved me battling giant mutant bees invading a country hospital. I was vaguely amused by this one, not only because the rather attractive male nurse who helped me managed to destroy them with a scream through various amplifiers (a la Bonnie Langford) but also because it means that like early Who even my dreams weren’t straying much beyond the home counties.
It was terribly exciting though. Would make a great story.
Another recent one involved me trying to foil the evil machinations of my arch enemy, Anne Diamond.
This, I must admit, puzzled me. To this day I have had no other negative thoughts about the lady whatsoever. But there she was, trying to take over the world and looking fabulous in a power suit.
I even complimented her on her appearance and she thanked me profusely – before going on to chase me through a forest in her high heels whilst trying to blast the crap out of me with a laser gun.
All I’ll say is my nocturnal life is much more interesting (and gayer) than my waking one.
I am, by nature, a pretty organised person, generally more anal than the cast of a Treasure Island porn DVD, and I kind of like routines and distrust spontaneity. In fact, generally if anything disrupts or upsets my day’s framework I get mintier than a spearmint condom and go round the place looking for a puppy to kick. That’s the sort of guy I am.
But I recognise this, and I chastise myself for it frequently, generally allowing myself to spiral as a result into a cycle of self-irritation and loathing that is so typical of my particular brand of inexplicable fuck-wittery.
Now my routine of a morning usually consists of rising, wondering if the cat wants feeding yet, realising we don’t have a cat, getting dressed, cleaning teeth, checking emails/Facebook and then reluctantly sloping off for the bus.
Friday I must have done all of this as usual, but since I rose late and hadn’t really woken up my reluctant sloping for the bus took on a more urgent pace when I saw the 133 waiting at the bus stop and decided to go for it, power-mincing my way with extreme haste towards the hated omnibus.
So quite how I ended up on the 159 I really have no idea.
I can only assume I was more tired than I thought. It was only two stops down – I think between Hazell Dean and Boy Krazy – that I heard the words “Marble Arch” announced and found myself wondering why my bus thought it was headed in that direction.
Three stops later it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I was wrong and the bus was right.
A slight blip of irritation tried to attract my attention but I think I was too tired even for that and it drowned, unloved, in a sea of high-camp nonsense. Instead I just thought “meh”, settled down, and decided to enjoy the change of scenery.
Oddly, not only was the central line practically deserted when I joined to correct my course, but having gone so far out of my way I still somehow managed to arrive at work earlier than normal. And I felt oddly invigorated by seeing a different set of buildings glide past for a change.
So there we are. Clearly I’m mellowing in my old age.
This Friday I’m going to see if I can get to work via Porthmadoc. Wish me luck!