Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bye Then

Think more happy thoughts. It was working earlier: nice and relaxed. How about, let's say for the hell of it, charged particles from the Sun entering the Earth’s magnetic field and colliding with atoms in the upper atmosphere. The “Northern Lights”!

Oh that’s good. That’s working. Aurora Borealis, baby!

Don’t even think about Caitlin Moran’s article in The Times’ arts magazine The Knowledge...

“The people working on it have a passion for it, unlike any other show on Earth.”


I don’t think I’ve every seen anything so utterly... You know, I can’t even think of the precise word for it. Gormless, useless or pathetic doesn’t even come close to just how bad it was.

No wonder the BBC didn’t send out any preview tapes. That was probably the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen. Is that the “best” that British television drama can come up with? We are just so fucked. And God, could the music have been more obtrusive?

Still, it’s over now. For now. No more delusional episodes.

Back to the happy thoughts. How about we have a peek at a quarter moon, visible above the Earth's horizon and airglow.

Sweet. Bittersweet in fact. I don't know which mission this was from but it was recorded with a digital still camera from the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Ad Astra Per Aspera indeed.

Something Wonderful

Here’s a photograph that I first came across in the book Endeavour - views from Earth, which was subtitled Astronauts’ photographs from Space Shuttle Mission STS-47. It’s entitled Sunrise 15 S 159 E.

Endeavour launched on September 12th, 1992 at 10:23 EDT. It circled the Earth for almost eight days at an altitude of 166 nautical miles, travelling a total of 3,271,844 miles. The 50th mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-47’s mission featured the Spacelab-J research module – a joint experiment between NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan – which was used to conduct microgravity investigations in materials and life sciences.

Commanded by Robert L. Gibson and piloted by Curtis L. Brown, Jr, Endeavour’s crew included Mission Specialist Mae Carol Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space, Payload Specialist Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese astronaut to fly onboard a shuttle, along with Payload Commander Mark C. Lee Mission Specialist Nancy Jan Davis, the first married couple to fly together in space.

This next one was taken by Hubble. It’s a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula. This nebula contains a dozen stars that are estimated to be 50 to 100 times the mass of the Sun.

The most unique is the star Eta Carinae, which is at the far left and shown in the final stages of its lifespan. The two billowing lobes of gas and dust presage its upcoming explosion as a titanic supernova. These fireworks in the Carina region are estimated to have started three million years ago. Along with the death of Eta Carinae, the stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation inside this huge could of cold molecular hydrogen are also triggering the second stage of new star formation.

It’s a miserable day today. The sky is grey and overcast and rain is falling in fits and starts. Without doubt a storm is coming this evening. But for the time being, stop to take a moment at the natural beauty of the universe and enjoy.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Waiting In Line

I suppose it might have helped if I had watched Breakfast News this morning before going in to Central London. Then again, the only real inconvenience was the bloody tourists standing around and gawping and generally getting in the way. And they do that anyway.

If I had stayed here it meant having to deal with finding space in the filing cabinets for all the notes and liberally defaced earlier drafts of the script.

The week before last, sorting through that stack of material to check if there were any notes I’d missed, I came across the list of the dozen-plus story ideas we’ve had kicking around. Each obviously had its own brief description. Not all of them had a title yet. An hour after, with the pages pushed to the edge of the desk, a title for one came to me. It was short and sweet. It had a beautiful ambiguity to it that worked just perfectly.

Walking down into the Underground station ticket hall this afternoon, the perfect opening line for one of the other scripts popped in my head. The inconvenience I could have done without. I had to roll it around and around, through the ticket barriers, down the escalators until I was on the platform. Just before a train screamed in from the tunnel, I managed to dig out a pen and hurriedly scribbled it down across the back page of my newspaper.

It was a winner. One line of dialogue that will resonate throughout the entire story. It encapsulates everything the drama is about. Of course there’s no time to work on them because there’s other stuff on my plate, but they’re there, waiting. That’s the thing, they’re always waiting.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pure Torture

I don’t mind the odd bit of torture. I have been watching Doctor Who after all. But seriously... Like the actress popping her top off because it’s “integral to the plot,” the odd torture scene doesn’t go amiss as long as it serves precisely the same function: upping the ante, heightening the hero’s jeopardy, and conclusively proving that the villains are utterly rum coves who deserve everything coming to them.

One kind of torture or another seems to be par for the course for most TV action heroes now. Without it seasons of 24 would probably only last seven-and-three- quarter hours. While poor old Jack has the tar beaten out of him on a daily basis, perhaps one of the best character-defining moments was when President Palmer personally had one of his aides tied to a chair, electrodes attached and his bare feet in a bowl of water.

Then there’s the torture scene from the pilot of Alias, which proved to be so uncomfortable for Channel 4 when the episode was broadcast it ran forty minutes including ad breaks after they had taken the censor scissors to it. Ignoring their apparent nervousness, scenes like these are okay for a hero who will eventually break free and give their tormentors an arse-kicking the won’t forget in a hurry. But what happens when the character on the receiving end is simply designated a victim? And I don’t mean the likes of Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket whose physical and mental beatings turn him into exactly what the US Army wants.

The consensus is about (real life) serial killers is that they’re loners and losers, the kinds of donuts that couldn’t get a girlfriend or a date to the prom. They wanted to be liked and when that didn’t happen their synapses snapped and they took all the bottled up rage out on some poor unfortunates who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I wonder if the current crop of geek film directors, who certainly looked like they were picked on at school and hate women because of it, figured out that channelling their twisted revenge fantasies into movies was a lot better than looking forward to behind-bars beatings and sodomy starters before the inevitable electric chair entrée.

Judging from the buses passing back and forth, Captivity and Hostel II is about to descend on the UK. Whoopee for us! Torture as a small part of the big picture is probably acceptable, though it does have its detractors. When torture is the picture, that’s pretty abhorrent. One of the big problems I have with Tarantino films is the heartless sadistic glee. When the fucking jerk appears in interviews chuckling about the brutality and violence, I just want to set the wolves on him.

Given that Hostel II tanked spectacularly in the US, hopefully the audience has seen more than enough and now realise how grubby it’s making them feel. I suppose we have to wait until the next Saw film to see if the tide has turned. If it has then we can give the directors a McMurphy and stick them in a rubber room out of the way where they can’t do any more harm.

Most depressing of all is the fact that the director of Captivity was Roland Joffé. He directed The Killing Fields and The Mission for Chrissakes!! Could this be the punishment for sticking the worst John Lennon song ever over the final scenes of the Cambodian-based drama. Or should it be a lesson to directors about the consequences of making a Demi Moore movie?

Loving It

The Times today published the results of their quest to find the most romantic scene of all time. Voted for by readers of Times Online, the winner was the denouement of An Affair to Remember starring Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant.

While that may be no great surprise, some of the other contenders were. The last scene of Wild at Heart? The scene in Heat where, leaving the airport hotel Neil McCauley makes the decision to abandon Eady? I guess in the end it all comes down to whatever does it for you.

Although I’m still baffled by one reader’s description of the scene that gets his vote:

“When Scarlett Johansson walks back to Bill Murray after they’d already said goodbye, and she whispers something in his ear that we can’t hear. It’s a fleeting moment. But a moment that can change a life. I’m still dying to find out what she said, while at the same time we all know what she said.”

Er, okay. Then again, the voter is a cloggie who could very well be hopped up on monkey glands. Or they were still distracted by that marvellous opening shot.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

279 For 1

Last night I was surprised to discover that the Thought Wad has been blowing for a whole year now. 365 days, 279 posts. I very rarely bother to celebrate my own birthday so I don’t really see why I should make a big deal of this. But what the hell...

It’s been a useful exercise to get away and write something different on the days I’ve been writing all day. Or to write something on the days we’ve been filming or editing or doing whatever else it was.

Will was the first person to leave a proper comment – so thanks for that fella. I guess after going off in a lot of different directions to begin with, in a way he helped me set the tone. That doesn’t mean you should lay any blame at his door.

What you get here has mostly been undiluted me. I tried to avoid any kind of self-censorship – unless of course something seriously crosses the line or it’s just way too much information. I probably have jammed my foot right in my mouth a couple times.

Though probably not as badly as the time I was sitting next to a Disney pod-person producer at an end-of-production meal. She mentioned OJ had to be guilty because it would be too difficult to sustain a conspiracy like that. I laughed and said, “Oh yeah, what about Dealey Plaza?!” At which point the whole restaurant went deathly silent.

Judging from the various comments, it’s been a blessed relief to find like-minded people out there in the digital ether who loathe you-know-what as much as I do. The discussions have been entertaining. Then again there have been other times where I had to step out the way to avoid getting tumbleweed wedged in my arse.

I never bothered looking inside Drawer C. When I followed the process Adrian Mead put forward about The Power of Three and mentioned I was looking for people, the response was generally crickets chirping and a church bell tolling in the distance.

Maybe the readership has changed. Or maybe I should have been more explicit and used a megaphone while strapped to a giant firework. (Thanks once again though to Dolly and Lara who did step up when I asked them independently of the blog. Their responses were very helpful).

Anyway, the next year will be bigger and better because that’s the way things have to be, right? I was talking about the blog itself, but then again, who knows?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Second Down

So that’s the second episode script done. Actually, it’s more like part two of a two-parter, which is why I wanted to get it written. And of course Granada Guy asked to see it, which was more than a good enough reason to do it.

Finishing it off, I was already jotting down additional notes on the next part. Although there’s no point in going ahead and writing that one just yet. And anyway, there are other, far more pressing things to work on.

The thing is, I didn’t want to start them today. After the last couple days I figured I deserved the evening off from writing.

The last five hours have been boring as hell.

No Ear For Music

I dipped in and out of the coverage from Glastonbury over the weekend. Missing most of the headline acts – i.e. bands I vaguely recognised – I’d watch a few minutes of the exuberant and unfamiliar band members bounce around and make a lot of noise then change channels.

Some years back they had a performance of Walkürenritt from Der Ring des Nibelungen early on a Sunday morning, which was entertaining and perplexing for the audience. This year’s novelty act was Burley Chassis belting out showstoppers, which, through good fortune, I managed to avoid. Although I caught a couple songs from The Who’s festival-closing set, by that time of night I’d be crawling out of a tent shouting, “Do you know what time it is? Keep it down, some of us are trying to sleep!”

I don’t do concerts or big live events. It’s not an age thing but an ear thing. One of the many injuries sustained from growing up on a farm left me with dodgy hearing in one ear. Depending on the acoustics of a room and where I am, there are times I can’t hear a damn thing. Pubs are probably the worst place for this, but the upside is I miss out on the late-night ramblings of friends who are in their cups. Also, spending a weekend in the pouring rain with thousands of townies who think it’s a jolly whiz to turn the farmland of Somerset into the Somme is not my idea of a good time.

As concerts go, I can probably count the number of times I’ve been to an event on two hands. Although that would be two hands that had been clutching a live grenade a couple of minutes ago. The first was when I was at The Esteemed School of Art and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band pitched up at Wembley Stadium during their Born in the USA Tour.

I suppose if you’re going to make a start, start big. After that it can only go downhill, which was the case with Lloyd Cole and The Commotions at Hammersmith, and one of the dullest evenings of my life. I can understand people enjoying the shared experience and the “vibe” – certainly the students in my year who had organised the outing got a buzz out of it. I found it akin to sitting in a railway station waiting room for a long-delayed train I didn’t particularly want to get on.

A couple of years later the boss of the design and advertising consultancy who brought his incontinent dog to work charged one of his lackeys with organising an evening out. We went to see Steve Winwood at the Royal Albert Hall. I liked the music but it was on a Friday night after the end of a very busy week. I fell asleep. A few more years after that it was back to Hammersmith. The girlfriend at the time wanted to see Suzanne Vega. We went. I’m sure I’ve heard faulty washing machines that sounded better. It may have been a contributing factor to our eventual break-up.

Between those two there was one concert other event that probably contributed to my fear of large, immobile crowds. 1990. New York. The Earth Day Concert in Central Park. My cousin was either playing a tournament that weekend and out of town or was coaching at the racquets club. Either way, I had the apartment to myself and the park was only a couple of blocks away.

The day had started with an Earth Rising Ceremony in Times Square but that was far too early to go to. After sleeping in I watched the first hour or so of the concert on TV. About to head off and join in, I flicked channels and discovered The Great Escape was being shown on one of the Turner movie channels, so that delayed my departure considerably.

By the time I finally got there the place was heaving. Rather than using The Great Lawn, I think the concert took place on Sheep Meadow. Either way, once in the park any late arrivals immediately found themselves wedged into a great mass of revellers. Back from the stage everyone seemed to be in alternating east-west, west-east facing lines. Outside of the customs and immigration queue at JFK, I hadn’t seen anything like it, although for any Russian visitors may have brought back memories of trips to the bakery on Smolenskij bul’var.

While the B-52s rocked out to Love Shack on stage, after twenty minutes of shuffling forward I discovered I was actually in the queue for the porta-potties. Not needing to go, I went. In total it took the best part of an hour to fight my way through to Central Park West. I visited the Environmental Exposition and Cultural Festival set up on Sixth Avenue, which was like some overpriced hippie arts-fartsy arts and craft fair.

The event had been about Earth awareness and protecting the planet and my one abiding memory of the day came late in the evening. The apartment was on Lexington Avenue, a couple blocks up from the Hunter College stop. Across from the building was a 24-hour market. I could always tell when I’d overtipped a cab driver because they’d immediately pull over to that side of the avenue and grab something to eat.

Late in the evening, in the final hours of Earth Day, the sidewalk and gutter outside the market was covered in a sea of refuse dropped by people on their way to the subway. Good to see that they had learnt something from the event. For me my lesson was, if there’s a concert I’m interested in, I’ll wait for the inevitable CD or DVD. Thank you for the music, but regarding concerts, no thanks.

Anyway, after writing all day today, by tomorrow the script should be done. So if anyone wants to read it and give notes you’re welcome. Dolly has already agreed, which I can only assume means she has been out in the hot sun for too long already.

Because I was concentrating on it so much, I couldn’t be bothered to cook this evening and had my first ever fish finger sandwich. And I completely forgot about the ITV coma girl drama. Was it any good?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I suppose there are a couple of things to be thankful for. Come mid-week, scumbag war criminal Tony Blair leaves office and hopefully fucks right for good. A few days after the final episode of Doctor Who airs and we’re shot of that honking great pile of nonsense. At least for another year.

I mean, come on!! It’s 2007 for fuck’s sake! You don’t resolve a cliffhanger with the kind of ‘in a single bound they were free...’ that even the makers of the wonderful old Republic serials would be embarrassed by. And as for....

Ah, you know what... screw it! Here are some fluffy kittens instead.

The Politics Show

Yesterday evening I got a little bit enthusiastic with the rewrite. Things were going well so I just kept going. By the time the computer was powered down and I crawled into bed, the sky was infused with a healthy blush of pre-dawn blue.

Four hours later I was awake. A couple more hours sack time would have been good, and enough to meet my recent average, but I hadn’t factored in a not-so-neighbourly neighbour eagerly flexing his DIY muscles by cutting a door to fit. Pretty much right outside my bedroom window. Thanks.

Since I was awake, I figured I might as well get up. Although the fact that I only just managed to finish The Times’ Samurai Su Doku within the allotted time limit might suggest that wasn’t the best decision.

Maybe I should have packed it in earlier last night. After reading English Dave’s new post last night perhaps I should have just packed it in for good.

Apparently Holby Blue has been given a second year. More horribly bland when it comes to contemporary cop dramas, in the last two weeks of published BARB ratings, the show had failed to place in the BBC1’s top-thirty programmes.

Beaten even by Springwatch, the numbers show that it’s not a drama the public is that inspired to watch. Still, it looks like the BBC isn’t giving up just yet. Having started out with an initial eight-episode run, next year Holby Blue will run for longer in its second year.

It looks scarily like they’re sticking to the formula used for Holby City, the first Casualty spin-off. First broadcast in early 1999 as a short nine-episode commission, it came back later in the year for a further sixteen. By Autumn of 2000 it had been bumped up to thirty shows and then, after a summer break, was increased to 52 episodes a year.

Is that their game plan for Holby Blue – digging their heels in and keeping it on the air through sheer bloody-mindedness until viewers are forced into liking it? If it does reach the same saturation as its predecessors, what will be the next spin-off following in its wake?

That’s just too frightening to even consider.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

All In The Family

Life has been getting in the way the past couple of days, typically delaying the rewrite. This evening I put everything aside to work on it.

Evaluating the worth of every line of dialogue and description, paring and pruning and making adjustments, taking a break just now I checked to see how far I’d got and discovered I was only near the bottom of page four. Marvellous.

Last night I gave the first episode of Brothers & Sisters a shot. It’s certainly not my thing, and I’m not sure I’m in for the long haul, but the pedigree made it worth a look. With the lower case titles, Ken Olin an executive producer and director, and Olin’s wife, Patricia Wettig, in the cast all it did was make me realise how much I miss thirtysomething.

I remember waiting in the New Orleans Greyhound/Trailways station on Loyola Avenue for a bus to Texas, trying to watch the episode where Michael and Elliot attempt to take over DAA on one of those freaky black plastic chairs with a miniature TV set built into the armrest. Okay, that’s probably way too much information.

The thing with Brothers & Sisters is, if they’re just going to be kvetching around the kitchen table then it’s probably going to be too soapy for my liking. On a basic level, family drama can be great because it’s all about the secrets and the dirty little lies of people who don’t necessarily enjoy each other’s company and are only brought together by biology.

That said, there’s still got to be something more to such a show so it has a new angle. Perhaps the best dysfunctional drama of recent years was spy drama Alias, at least for the first couple of seasons before it lost the plot a little. Olin of course worked on that show, as did Brothers & Sisters co-exec producer Sarah Caplan.

John from Cincinnati has a very fresh angle. Still can’t figure it, but it certainly doesn’t stop my enjoyment of what is turning out to be a very engaging show. The credits are littered with writers and producers from previous Milch-produced shows. With Jim Beaver, Garret Dillahunt and an almost unrecognisable Dayton Callie, shipped in from Deadwood, the show just gets better.

I mean, how can you not enjoy a show where the titular character proudly announces: “I just took a dump a grown man would be proud of”? What I really want to know is: When does Ian McShane come calling?

Actually, while watching Brothers & Sisters I was interrupted by the old dear phoning up to shoot the breeze. She called just before the “Michael Gambon drama” started on Five. Afterwards I wondered what “Michael Gambon drama” she was talking about. Was that how The Daily Telegraph’s TV guide promoted Layer Cake? I wonder how long they stuck with it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Shock Of My Life

Monday evenings a pal of mine usually phones. His opening question is usually the same every time: “Well, what did you think?” You can guess what it’s in relation to. From his opening gambit, you can probably guess the subject matter.

He’s a fan of Doctor Who, although I should point out that he actually doesn’t laud the show unreservedly and can be quite critical of the most god awful episodes – or as they’re more commonly known, the opens that have ‘Written by Russell T Davies’ in the opening credits.

That aside, the Monday calls pretty much ends with him in stitches as he prods to see how much the weekend episodes wind me up. When I stopped watching for a couple of weeks, I think he was quite put out that I failed to provide the requisite entertainment.

This evening I beat him to the punch and yelled down the line, “It was a complete and utter contrivance!” He agreed. But it still didn’t change the fact that he liked the episode, simply because it brought back The Master. He may be the most poxy villain ever, but for the fans there is always a place on the hallowed Doctor Who altar for him.

There was no point trying to convince him otherwise, especially once he asked if I had caught the audio clips of Roger Delgado, who originally played the character. I hadn’t. And I really didn’t care that I hadn’t. Since it was broadcast, he’d watched the last five minutes of the show over and over much the same way that I’d watched the last five minutes of The Sopranos finale. Which means on quality and sheer brilliance, I win!

He was surprised that I knew what the final two episodes of the season were leading up to. I wasn’t something I actively searched for. I had simply been checking the BBC’s Press Office and came across the big deal reveal. Perhaps he was disappointed that I didn’t give a damn what was going to happen. It looks obvious that Captain Twat is going to shoot someone as well. If I’m actually sat watching it in two weeks time, I hope he turns the gun on me.

After briefly talking about Jekyll, the conversation turned to Moffat and the simplicity of last week’s Blink. He was still taken aback that I had enjoyed it. Why do Moffat’s Doctor Who scripts work? Having connections to people on the inside, pal related that Moffat’s the only one that actually stands up to RTD. Moffat, after all, had a career beforehand and will certainly have a career afterwards. He doesn’t need to write overwrought fan fiction.

After the call I watched The Time Of Your Life. I actually watched a ITV drama that didn’t involve an English country detective. A girl waking from a coma after 18 years may have been a contrivance, and the fact that she could climb out of bed and walk without any physiotherapy or other rehabilitation had to be taken with a pinch of salt. But written by Charlie Martin it had some wonderful understated character moments and the conceit beautifully illustrated how little school friends who get back together have in common with each other any more.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Doctor!!! ...No!!!

I gave it my undivided attention for about eight or nine minutes, which I thought was more than fair. But with Captain Twat clinging to the outside of the TARDIS screaming like a big lady-boy, Insect Lady drinking her own milk and the silly savages who went a bit mental with their box of crayons...

It was proof that last week’s Blink, along with the two-parter that preceded it, was simply an aberration rather than an upswing in quality. Shame. The fact that they were based on previously published material that required plot over empty spectacle might have had something to do with it.

I mentioned in a comment last week that it would be great to have a story where people look up into the night sky and watch the light from the last long-dead star finally wink out. How much emotional pull can you get from something like that? What would it be like to stand there, looking up into the heavens and just be greeted by the permanent midnight of infinite blackness?

Obviously not worth giving it a second thought, because although mentioned in passing they went straight on to the typical inanities. Where were all the people going exactly? How long had the spaceship been waiting for the lemon soaked paper napkins so it could make the trip? Wait a tick, I don’t think I really care.

After all, the whole episode was just a contrivance to remind everyone of something the big face of Boo-Boo had said and then reintroduce The Master. Didn’t anyone in a story meeting have the guts to raise their hand and mention that it was a complete crock of shit? Or were they too busy creaming themselves at how brilliant is was to bring back one of the most useless villains ever?

What does the character mean to the new, younger audience? Probably nothing. But to the aging fan boys trapped in their arrested Doctor Who adolescence, they must have gone into a frenzy and bucked with uncontrollable emissions as the character was first revealed, then went into a bright light-show regeneration.

Whereas Sir Derek Jacobi barely got away with his dignity intact, what was up with Simm? What was he doing there? The excuse, I suppose, is that he was doing it for his kiddie. But... all he needed was a black cape, a moustache to twirl, and some railroad tracks to tie the companion to. Actually, that would have been understated compared to the way he kicked off.

In a word: cunty.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Crossing The Line

Late last night, printing up the existing episode two draft in preparation to heavily deface it the next morning, I was reminded that a printed copy already existed. What the heck have the last couple of weeks been like for me to forget that?

It wasn’t in the designated folder, or anywhere near the filing cabinets for that matter, or amongst the piles of papers that continually try their damnedest to bury the desk. Eventually I found it on the small dining table that, in all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never once sat and ate at.

Hidden by recent newspaper clippings that haven’t been filed and old publicity material from the Actress, was the paper folder with the script inside. I’d been carrying it back and forth, working on it during the daily commutes. Over those weeks, with more and more work to bring home each night, the script had to be ditched because there was too much to carry.

The pages already had notes scribbled all over them, as did the accompanying revised plot. Even better, there were over a half dozen pages of lined foolscap filled with new scenes written by hand. And there I was thinking there would be a whole lot more work involved. Now there’s just a lot more.

Before turning in, I finally got around to reading the last chapter of The Big Deal, Thom Taylor’s book about ‘Hollywood’s Million-Dollar Spec Script Market’. It’s a good read, especially in light of Universal Pictures recent acquisition of Nottingham, the new revisionist Robin Hood script by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris.

Announced back in early February that they had won the bidding war and paid Reiff and Voris well into seven figures, two months later Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe were attached with Brian Glazer producing. Less than two weeks back came the news Brian Helgeland, who co-wrote the magnificent LA Confidential, had been brought on board to rewrite the script they had already forked over more than a million bucks for.

Reading The Big Deal, obviously these large sums of money being handed over come from the agents instigating bidding wars between the studios, as much as the quality of the scripts themselves. In ever instance the sale isn’t the end of the journey and the book details the numerous rewrites, not always for the right reasons, before – and even after – the cameras start rolling. It also includes a roll call of scripts that were sold for big money that have never made it to the screen.

Which begs the question, how far to go with the writing? Should one simply aim for saleable or push on to readily filmable? Perhaps this is what Granada Guy meant when he said the script was “a collection of pages which exists to direct an episode.” But given that this is very much a collaborative medium, does going for the latter involve a waste of time and some effort? Where do you draw the line?

Should we think of a script as a steak and figure out at what point it’s rare, medium or well done? Or should we find a metaphor that pasty-faced vegetarians can understand?

Visual representations are always handy in this sort of instance. Personally, I always go with these versions of Adam Hughes’ Supergirl illustration to work out at what stage the material has reached:

At least that's the excuse I'm sticking with...

Friday, June 15, 2007

One Done

A very big thanks to Dolly and Lara, who should be back to her fighting weight by now, for taking the time last week to read the script and return with some very insightful comments.

Taking what they said on board, I found the time yesterday to finally put their thoughts into practise and revise the material accordingly. By late evening it was finished. To do anything more to it would just be fiddle-faddle. For the life of me, I can’t think of anything that could be done to make it any better.

Just prior to making a few last-minute cosmetic changes, including one that would save the drama from potentially offending Andrew Collins, I discovered an email from Work Buddy asking if there was a newer version to come because a writer/producer he had met on his trip to Canada was interested in reading the script.

It’s nice to know that it’s done, finally. It probably should have been finished sooner but obviously life kept getting in the way, causing the stops and starts. Even then, these enforced delays ultimately helped inform both the characters and situations so that when we’d come back around to discussing it and I’d go back to working on the script, it was all the better for the time away.

We’d reconvene periodically and talk about where it was heading, question the directions the overall story was taking and going through the characters’ motivations, making notes. In fact, as far as I can recall, once Work Buddy first floated the idea we spent a long time simply talking about it and just jotting down reams of notes. There were also weeks and weeks of research to see how certain ideas could be developed. Really, only then was anything committed to paper in script format.

Because it’s in a serial format, we’d have to know where the drama was heading and how the characters were developing. Which meant to write episode one I needed to know what happened in episode two – which I tend to see as the second half of an unofficial two-parter. At the same time, for episode two I needed to be more aware of episode three’s storyline. Recently, a big chunk of what we had for episode three got folded into two to stop the pace from potentially flagging.

It was only a few days back, when I opened the episode two folder that I was reminded there was a recent four-page document we had put together that revised the plot. Which means that, with 55 of the 70-odd pages written there’s a lot more work involved than I thought. But at least now I have something specific to do for the weekend.

Talking to Work Buddy last night I mentioned my surprise at just how far the idea had evolved from it’s initial concept. The whole project has probably taken longer than we would have liked, but the luxury of time has certainly helped, along with all the different experiences in that intervening time.

Whether it's applicable or not in this instance, whenever I park myself in front of the computer to work on any material, I’m always reminded of the Thoreau quote an LA-based writer friend once imparted:

“How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.”

Actually, I think is this instance the more pertinent Henry David Thoreau quote is:

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Baptism Of Water

As one show ended on HBO, another began. As night fell in New Jersey, the sun rose on Imperial Beach, California in David Milch’s new drama John from Cincinnati.

Ostensibly it’s about the three generations of the Yost family, in-fighting surfing legends and surfing legends in the making. Along with the peripheral supporting characters, most of whom have been out in the California sun for too long baking their brains, they’re the sort of troubled Southern Californian dynasty that Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer would be hired by/investigating, if they had a little more money in the bank.

Into there lives come John Monad, who may well be called John but comes from somewhere a lot further than Cincinnati. There’s something of a young Chance the Gardener about the titular character - which his surname suggests. In fact the show could probably have been named Being Out There. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to take a few more episodes to be able to describe what the show is about, and even that may be very optimistic.

It would certainly have been interesting to be on the other side of the table when Milch pitched the show. Having read co-creator Kem Nunn’s Tapping the Source not long after it was published in the 1980s, I can see where some of it is coming from. Earlier in the year, appearing at the TCA Press Tour in Pasadena to promote John from Cincinnati, Milch explained the show to the assembled hacks thus:

“To my mind reality is a shifting and elusive condition. It redefines itself constantly. And which is to say that, when I was saying that this is a story that takes place on the margins of things, the attempt to identify the coordinates of reality is itself a kind of problematic and conditional effort. It's changing all the time.

“What constitutes -- where are we when we sleep? What is our sense of reality at that moment? It's, you know, science now suggests to us that what has been perceived as matter for a long time is, in fact, energy. That what looks solid, in fact, is constituted in waves, that Einstein's beautiful mathematical equations which depict the nature of reality don't apply at certain levels. And I think that's true as well about what constitutes the natural and the supernatural. You know, it depends on what foxhole you're in.”

After bringing up the psychologist and philosopher William James along with string theory in response to a question about where he drew his inspiration from, Milch ended with:

“What William James speculated was that there are what he called the lawless intrusions. He was fascinated by psychic phenomenon, and what James suggested was that whatever originated the universe, the Big Bang was a chaotic energy, which is now tending toward order. And that for the most part, we can account through certain theorems with all of the phenomena of our experience, but that there are certain abrupt and lawless inexplicable intrusions through essentially what would be described as tears in the fabric of the dimensions we perceive – [hence] John from Cincinnati.”

So there you go.

Maybe a clue is in the song that accompanies another excellent HBO-drama title sequence – an edit of Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ Johnny Appleseed:

If you're after getting the honey - hey
Then you don't go killing all the bees

Or maybe not.

Would I trade it for a fourth season of Deadwood, which Milch accidentally sounded the death knell for once he pitched the new show? Probably, but with Milch behind the wheel, however far beyond the crazy line John from Cincinnati goes it’s still a show I’m happy to float along with.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Means To An Ending

It’s been interesting the past couple days reading the chatter about the final episode of The Sopranos, especially from the people who felt short-changed. Judging from the comments about what some individuals wanted to see, it made me wonder if they had watched any of the previous eighty-five episodes or understood any of them.

All the suggestions of what happened after the screen abruptly cut to black, mid-song, reminded me of the first assignment the English Literature tutor set the class I was in, studying for my A-levels. Asking for a 3000-word essay on a WH Auden poem so short it barely existed on the page, it became evident in hindsight that his aim was to see whether we would write solely about the content or add unnecessary suppositions to pad out the essays and reach the expected word count.

Written and directed by David Chase, Made in America was astonishing and audacious and glorious. People may have wanted blood but that’s not what the show was every about. To sate their appetite the episode had included a killing that was so sickening that one of the shocked bystanders was physically sick. But it’s the marvellous, abrupt ending that The Sopranos will be remembered for.

Aside from the viewing public, various industry figures waded in to express their own opinions, including

David Milch:

It was a question of loyalty to viewer expectations, as against loyalty to the internal coherence of the materials. Mr. Chase’s position was loyalty to the internal dynamics of the materials and the characters.

Harlan Ellison:

It is Art in its purest form. David Chase did the impossible, he gifted the loyal viewer of the series a payoff at once deep, thoughtful, chilling, fraught with summation and insight.

Ron Moore:

I'm glad he thumbed his nose at the tyranny of the narrative drive to bring things to a tidy conclusion so we can all clap and walk away without another thought about that mob family in Jersey, satisfied that all's well that ends well.

Moore concludes by saying, “It's poetic. It's exciting. It's perfect. And most of all, I wish I'd thought of it first.” With Battlestar Galactica about to enter its final year, Moore has to come up with a satisfying resolution to his own show. It also has to top the mind-bending final sequence of the third season finale, which would have been an absolutely perfect ending if the drama had finished then and there.

Few ongoing television shows have managed to pull off the perfect ending. Too many times they got too maudlin or tangled up in tying up loose ends to produce a fulfilling final episode. The only one I can think of right now that really stands out, and also polarized audience opinion, was the final scene of St Elsewhere, which intimated the drama had only existed in the mind of an autistic child.

What show ending worked for you?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


My third sit down with the Actress today. From the offset she had wanted to talk about the highs and lows of her life and career. After two meetings mainly discussing the former, the time had come for us to concentrate on the latter.

The agent had altered her schedule and was there with us, which turned out to be a good thing. Arriving ahead of the Actress, we discussed the subjects to touch on. When the Actress turned up, as I brought up various areas to talk about, the agent egged her on to reveal more than she perhaps wanted to this early in the game.

For the most part she was very open about her past. A couple of times I had to switch to much more lighter subjects when it became obvious that, after all these years, some of the topics were still too raw to discuss at length. Although by now she was much more comfortable talking to me about her past, there came a point where the tape recorder had to be switched off.

After feeding the Actress’ dog the remains of the lunch provided for us, we touched on the last of the subjects and ended on a happier note. Heading home earlier than expected, with everything I needed for the time being, I got off the tube the stop before West Hampstead and wandered around the O2 Centre on the Finchley Road.

Having seen it repeatedly on the train into town, I figured it was finally worth a look. It turned out to be utterly pointless. Standing outside the VUE cinema on the top floor of the massive space-wasting atrium, reached by an escalator that looked like it had been lifted from a tawdry theme park, I couldn’t find a film I could be bothered to see and went home.

Checking my email, there was a further note from the friend at Granada, continuing his thoughts on the script, that included:

It's a script that exists to be screened. It's not simply a collection of ideas, characters and scenarios. It is a collection of pages which exists to direct an episode.

That’s a good thing, right?


Absolute genius!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Three For Two

Lewis Hamilton’s maiden victory at yesterday’s event-filled Canadian Grand Prix reminded me of the time, travelling around America, I pitched up in Montreal not knowing it was race weekend.

Trying to find a hotel with any vacancies proved to be interesting. I ended up in a room that lacked a window, but at least there was a soft bed. On the race day itself I made the short trip to Québec City and through a series of misunderstandings found myself on a tour of La Citadelle de Québec, the military installation atop Cap Diamant.

Within minutes of the tour commencing it began to rain, heavily. By the time the young guide asked me if I’d like to shelter under her umbrella we were just about done and I was soaked through.

The cab driver that I managed to flag down wasn’t impressed that water was running off me and onto the back seat of her car. Her frown changed to an eager smile when she discovered I was English. After that, from what I could make out, she spent the rest of the ride trying to set me up with her daughter.

After the two positive responses to the script last week, I was waiting for the comeback from the friend at Granada who has asked to read it. Busy preparing for the sit-down tomorrow, I didn’t bother checking my email until late in the afternoon.

His reply was:

Such a confident piece of writing! The best compliment I could pay is my only question - can I read the second episode?

Which was better than I expected. Already three-quarters or so done, I should be able to find time to get it finished by the end of the week for him.

Taking a break this morning, I was out on the Broadway when a bus drove by plastered with an advertisement for ITV’s Talk to Me that read:

I would do anything for my best friend, including his wife.

Ah, that brought back happy memories!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sleeping With The Dead

In my final message of an email exchange last night, I happened to mention I was soon of to bed with The Times’ obituary pages. The response, read this morning, was that one they certainly hadn’t heard of before.

The last four or five nights have proved difficult trying to get to sleep, especially when the weather has been reasonably balmy. The computer has stayed on longer as I did a re-write on a script and then prepared for the third sit-down next week.

Rather than just an afternoon, the agent has arranged it so that we have the flat to ourselves for the whole day. Referring back to an earlier tape, I came across a point in the conversation where the Actress calls to her agent, “We’re talking about sex!” I'm sure the friend who first introduced us will want to use that as his ring-tone.

Yesterday afternoon the second reader gave me notes of a script she had kindly taken the time to read. Luckily they were as positive as the first reader’s response, earlier in the week. (If you’re feeling left out, I did ask for readers at the end of a post five days back but nobody responded).

As the evening drew on, taking into account both sets of notes, I eventually figured out what adjustments needed to be made to approve the material and started jotting down notes of my own. That was going to be it for the day but somehow the computer stayed on, even when I switched to a scratch pad and started putting together dialogue exchanges for the next script.

By then midnight had come and gone. It didn’t help that BBC2 decided to show Paul Thomas Anderson’s magnificent Magnolia. Start a three-hour movie just short of the Witching Hour why don’t you? The DVD is up on the shelf, which means I can watch it any time I want, but maybe because it was in the schedule that I kept it on with the volume down to begin with.

It’s easy to get caught up in the multi-strand narrative. If I had just been waiting for the frogs I could have reached for the shiny disc. But before that there’s the group sing-a-long to Aimee Mann’s Wise Up. And then before that there’s... well, you see my point.

Working well into each evening has left my mind still racing when I eventually retire. Trying to read before lights out hasn’t been as beneficial as expected because I’ve simply got caught up in the books. Instead I’ve experimented taking the newspaper with me, picking items I’d skipped during the day.

Yesterday happened to be the obituary of Lieutenant-General Alain Le Ray, the first man to successfully escape from Oflag IVC – Colditz Castle. That, and the next couple of pages, helped do the trick. Eventually, like Green, Berry and Hill, Delmer Darion, Sydney Barringer and the frogs, I finally dropped... off.

Apparently the weather forecast for the day I see the Actress again is for 25C, light showers.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


A month or more back I may have mentioned that life really was too short to waste watching the new season of Doctor Who. What with the space-rhinos, nupty next-stage Daleks, and skanky CGI monsters, even the unintentional hilarity that ensued wasn’t worth pissing away an hour a week on.

That said I had given it a second chance with the two-part Human Nature and The Family of Blood, adapted by Paul Cornell from his earlier novel. One or two caveats aside, it had certainly shown signs of improvement.

Then tonight came Steven Moffat’s episode, Blink. Now I hadn’t been that impressed by last year’s The Girl in the Fireplace, or the celebrated first season two-parter – The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, especially because the plot hinged on that hoary old science fiction pulp magazine chestnut where aliens fix injured humans without understanding their physiology and fuck it up royally. And it introduced Captain Twat.

Blink, however, was absolutely perfect in idea and execution. Hopefully the final montage will give the little bastards the willys for months to come. For someone who spent the first fifteen years of their professional career writing comedy, and only switched to drama once Doctor Who was brought back to the screen, that’s an astonishing achievement.

It also bodes well for next week’s Jekyll, Moffat’s reinterpretation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Starring James Nesbitt, Gina Bellman and Michelle Ryan - who will soon be kicking Katee Sackhoff's butt in the resurrected The Bionic Woman - Moffat has described the drama as “somewhere between a modern horror story and The Odd Couple.” Which makes it certainly worth a look.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Between A Mister And A Mattress

Typically I missed Current Puns on BBC Radio 4 because, quite frankly, 11.30 in the morning was a particularly useless time for them to broadcast it. Luckily I caught up with it on the Radio 4 website this evening, and for anyone who likes this sort of wordplay – and if you don’t, what’s wrong with you? – I heartily recommend “tuning in”.

For a start it’s presented by Stephen Fry, who gets in a mention that one of his suggestions for definitions in the Uxbridge English Dictionary on Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue was:

Countryside – To kill Piers Morgan

That deserves a round of applause and a hearty “Huzzah!” just in itself. Over thirty minutes, Fry traces the origins of puns and the different varieties. For anyone abroad who simply doesn’t get the English sense of humour, and in particular the appeal of Christmas cracker jokes, everything is explained within.

If you’re wondering about the title of the post, the question posed was:

What’s the definition of a Mistress? Something between a Mister and a mattress.

A Turnip Cures Elvis

Having never been that interested in The Dead Blonde even when she was alive, while Channel 4 ramped up the controversy-tron last night I watched Sneakers on shiny disc – a great little movie that probably would make this list now I come to think of it.

I’ve had a soft spot for caper movies since I first saw the likes of Topkapi and Gambit on television when I was a kiddie, mainly for the intricate plotting and innumerable twists. Maybe it comes down to a perversity in taking delight at a well-formulated plan coming apart and watching the participants improvise their way out.

Apparently caper movies are simply comedic versions of heist movies but there’s more to them than that. I suppose they may roughly follow the same format and archetypes, but it’s the variations that make them interesting, whether it’s the characters involved (which are usually a fine selection of lowlifes and miscreants), the target, or the aftermath.

The best recent examples were last year’s excellent Inside Man and the much improved remakes of Ocean’s Eleven and The Thomas Crown Affair – even if the later differed from the norm by being more of a one-man operation than a group effort. Of course the least said about the remake of The Italian Job the better, if not for anything else because the original is a certified classic.

There’s a film so darn good in concept and execution that writer Troy Kennedy Martin, having bought the initial idea from his brother Ian, transplanted the gold heist back to the Second World War for the equally entertaining Kelly’s Heroes. In fact, as war movies go, once the heist is replaced by a practically suicidal mission it results in the likes of The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare and Robert Aldrich’s marvellously nihilistic The Dirty Dozen.

When it comes to heist movies themselves, obviously there’s Heat, Kubrick’s calculated The Killing, and the absolute granddaddy of the lot, Rififi. David Mamet’s Heist, which immediately nails its colours to the mast in title alone, revels in the visual sleight of hand and misdirection that play a key role in capers. Although they are always categorised as action movies, should Die Hard and Die Hard With a Vengeance get honorary heist/caper membership?

Although there is payment for a job well done in Sneakers, the target of the operation is more a MacGuffin than a haul of filthy lucre, with a high tech involvement. Unlike the Mission: Impossible series of films – and let’s not forget that the original television series was actually inspired by TopkapiSneakers concentrates as much of character as it does plot. And it stars Mary McDonnell.

A Region 1 DVD, the discs includes a commentary and Making Of documentary as bonus material. It’s interesting to see director Phil Alden Robinson, and writers Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker talk about how the idea for Sneakers came about while they were researching WarGames, and how the story developed in the ten years it took them to get the film made. While they discuss the various ins and outs, the trio sit around a table on which are piled the thirty-odd drafts it took to reach what eventually appeared on screen.

Thinking about it, with everyone getting their knickers in a tangle about the broadcast on terrestrial TV, the caper movie I really should have been watching last night to keep in with the spirit of things was Ronin.

Sneakers does it for me in the caper movie stakes. How about you?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Oh Good Grief

The latest chapter in London’s Clusterfuck 2012 was revealed earlier in the week with the unveiling of the London Olympics logo. As if everyone isn’t going to get squeezed enough on the gigantic overspends and incompetence, £400,000 was spunked right up the wall (and left dripping from the ceiling) on this:

Nice, huh? Have a look at it for a couple of seconds, or until you start screaming “My eyes! My eyes!” – whichever comes first. Can you see what it is yet?

I suppose the ziggidy-zaggedy blocks could take on the shape of London seen from way up high in the air, but only if you squint while having mace continually sprayed in your face and have no idea what London looks like from the air. In fact it’s 2-0-1-2. See? (And not the shape made by randomly throwing used tampons at a wall).

Oh, and it comes in a range of colours, none of which make it any better.

Amazingly it was produced by a proper design company, and not by the only kid in a class of children with learning difficulties who actually scribbled something down rather than shove the crayons up their nose. But then it’s a “design” thing, which gives the finger to the client and consumers. I suspect if one of the cock-knockers at The Esteemed School of Art had produced it the tutors would have shook with excitement while they stood in a puddle of their own wee.

The company who trousered the cash is Wolff Olins, who actually have it on their website homepage. While everyone has complained that it is basically a pile of shit, one person who defended the logo was the Brand Strategist Michael Wolff. In today's Evening Standard he declared:

I don’t see why the Olympic logo should look like a corporate one: it’s supposed to be a symbol of vitality. Doing something new is more important than creating a populist symbol.

And obviously more important than creating something that works.

Now, you may be thinking Wolff Olins, Michael Wolff... is there a connection there? And yes, Michael Wolff was co-founder of Wolff Olins, except he left in 1983 and became chairman of Addison before starting up Michael Wolff & Company Inc.

One of his many international clients was the Barcelona Olympic Games Committee, but only after he left his original company. So if the London Organising Committee liked what was done for Spain they cocked up again by getting the right name but the wrong company. As own goals go, the Committee scored a second almost straight away when flashing imagery in the promotional video produced for the launch gave at least ten people epileptic fits.

With five years, one month and twenty days to the launch of Clusterfuck 2012, what further massive foul-ups can these fuckwits get up to? It wouldn't surprise me if it involves somebody fisting a chicken.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Who Do You Think I Am?

During the last year working at the animation studio the doorman at The Ivy started acknowledging my presence each evening as I walked past on my way home from work. Why? I haven’t the faintest idea.

The first time it happened I suppose I was smartly dressed and wearing the long black overcoat I had bought for the winter break in Venice with my then-girlfriend. As the evenings got progressively lighter and I dressed down, he would still nod his head and say hello, or wish me a good evening, as I headed for Leicester Square underground station and I’d cheerily respond.

I mentioned it in passing to the studio producer and it really pissed her off, especially since I’d never eaten at The Ivy in my life and she had. So I’d regularly bring it up in conversation just to grind her gears. Maybe I reminded him of someone higher up the food chain. Or, failing that, he was just being pleasant.

Years before, going out with the girlfriend who would later try to stab me with a big old kitchen knife, we drove up to collect take-out from an Indian restaurant in Whetstone. I went inside while she stayed in the car and was immediately welcomed like a long-lost friend by the owner.

With the food still not ready, he insisted I have a drink on the house. Once ensconced at the bar he asked me if I had enjoyed my holiday. Having not had the opportunity to leave the country for at least a year, I told it had been very pleasant and just what I needed.

Then some months later, with the same girlfriend but at a different restaurant, a young waiter mistook me for Gérard Depardieu. In hindsight I should have played along, blathered some cod Français and seen what we could have got out of it. That was the girlfriend’s immediate thinking because she kicked me hard under the table when my immediate response was to mutter “cheeky fucker!” rather than keep up the pretence.

I’m mentioning all this because last Friday evening I could have been easily mistaken for a total asshat. First, with pretty much nothing in the schedules to watch, I decided it would be worth rewatching an episode or two of The Wire’s second season to fill the time.

Then, slipped my mind that the chap at Granada wanted to see this script of ours, I figured it was worth having a quick skim through before I sent it off. You can probably guess the rest.

With the final episode of season three just finished and the rewrite done, I suppose I could do with a couple of readers on top of the ones I’ve already sorted out. Anyone interested?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Journey's End

One more year and the best science fiction show on television will be over. No, I don’t mean the report in MediaGuardian that Russell T Davies is set to flounce off Doctor Who and take the whole crew with him.

Since that little nugget apparently originated in The Sun, which usually concentrates on tits rather than complete cocks, it probably should be taken with a big pinch of salt – like I care. Though if he did fuck right off the show might actually improve.

Instead the show I’m talking about is Battlestar Galactica and the news today from the Sci Fi Channel confirms that executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick have decided the upcoming fourth season will be the last. After the spectacularly mind-bending third season finale, with four of the final five Cylons revealed and the return of Starbuck, ready to point the way to Earth, it was obvious the show was heading into the final straight.

Winner of a Peabody Award and twice honoured by the American Film Institute as one of the 10 Outstanding Television Programs of the Year, Battlestar Galactica was always about human drama first and genre second. It used science fiction as allegory, commenting on everything from racism, stem-cell research, terrorism and government foreign policy, rather than spunking a good portion of the budget on fancy latex creations.

The real plaudits will come later, and hopefully – finally – Emmy recognition for Mary McDonnell and especially Michael Hogan, on top of the critical acclaim it has already received. I suppose all good things have to come to an end at some point and Moore and Eick’s creation will leave behind the opening three-hour miniseries, 73 episodes, The Resistance web episodes and the two-hour Razor, broadcast later this year, which centres on the Battlestar Pegasus and takes place well before this:

With a lot of shows it’s easy to pick favourite episodes – Star Trek’s The City on the Edge of Forever being an obvious example – but Battlestar Galactica proves more difficult as every episode provides remarkable highlights. That said, I’d go with the quartet that opened the third season, leading up to the escape from New Caprica.

Story and character has always taken precedent over special effects, but in Exodus, Part 2, we were treated to spectacles like this:

Around this time next year, when it’s all over and the characters have reached the end of their long journey, all we can do is echo Lee Adama’s words when he leaves the bridge of the Pegasus for the last time: "Thank you!"