swordznsorcery: (xenon)
( Dec. 31st, 2015 20:12)
2014. Guess what?! Yep, still drawing a blank. British politicians being horrible, although admittedly that doesn't narrow it down much. Fabulous summer, if you like hot weather (I do). I spent most of it renovating my mother's garden, digging flowerbeds and unearthing very old dead things, back from when round here was still a sea. I rather wish it still was. Not that I'm entirely advocating life in the Jurassic, as I'm pretty sure the music was rubbish, and internet speeds seriously sucked; but on the plus side I'd be living in an ocean paradise. Also, no electricity bill. Although there's probably a good reason for that.

Yes, I am blatantly avoiding the topic of 2014. It was a pretty good year for television. How To Get Away With Murder started. The first season was very watchable, and so far the second season has been pretty much unmissable. I think it's away until February, dagnabbit. Wretched mis-season hiatuses! (Hiati? No, that sounds more like a country). I only started watching because of Baby Ian Chesterton, but it's so much more than that. He's great, incidentally. Deserves to go far.

Also starting this year was Constantine, which I loved, and Forever, which I adored. Neither made it to a second season, and I am still in mourning. Television is a cruel mistress. Or something.

Good year musically. I discovered a new band, although I can't remember how off hand. Probably mucking about on YouTube. Very good debut album, but it remains to be seen if they'll be worth following further. Queen dug an old song out of the archives, which was nice; and the E Street Band continued to galavant about the globe, and wilfully distract me with YouTubery (Kitty's Back! Stayin' Alive! Hurrah)!

A bad year for fandom, though. Alexandra Bastedo, who played Sharron in The Champions, died this year. Those three were always so close, and as the extras on the DVD release showed, they'd remained so, which somehow made it all the sadder (and turned out she'd opened an animal sanctuary after she quit acting, so she was clearly Nice People). James Garner died too. Not so unexpected, that one, but he was Old Hollywood, and we're running out of them. And of course Mike Smith. And there's nothing else I can say about that.

... )
*collapses in a heap* If I ever decide to embark on something as long and involved as this again, somebody please hit me. Still, I made it! Not doing 2015, because this is 2015, even if it won't still be tomorrow. I can hardly say "Rememeber when...?" when we're still here. So instead I shall just say Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (three hundred exclamation marks), and leave you with two songs from a pair of bands who came back unexpectedly in 2015.

... )
Have a good 2016!
I am re-reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, because the TV series has gone away and left me, and I miss it. It's nice to revisit the book, as it's been quite some time since I last read it, and I had forgotten bits. Also it's fun seeing which bits made the TV series and which didn't, and which bits the TV series made up. Slightly disappointed that one of my favourite bits of the series wasn't actually in the book - Strange's introduction to Wellington, which I loved. It's that "I'm Strange." ; "Indeed..." which was so perfect; although admittedly that was 99% down to Ronan Vibert's line delivery, and Ronan Vibert definitely isn't in the book. Or at least, he isn't in my copy, which is a terrible shame - though probably not if you're Ronan Vibert. (I readily concede that it's unlikely you are).

Elsewhere, I am still Department S-ing. It's nice to know that, though years pass and casts move on, and new series come to take the place of the old, some things always remain. Such as the fact that, in any Monty Berman production one cares to name, getting into a white Jaguar Mk II means a one way trip over a cliff. Seriously, for your own protection folks, never accept a ride in a white Jaguar Mk II. It will fly over a cliff. Even if there isn't a cliff. Trust me on this. Even more impressively, it will always be the same cliff, wherever in the world you happen to be. I suspect a conspiracy.

Department S is proving very entertaining, anyway. I'm not watching it in order, which is generally for the best with these things. The problem with Network is that they diligently arrange shows on DVD into their original production order, which is very sweet and helpful, but fails to take into account that there was a good reason for the production order - such as prop and location availability - which means that you tend to get a rash of episodes with very similar plots, all in a row. It also means, quite infamously amongst fans of The Champions, that the episode "The Interrogation" is on Disc 2, which doesn't make an ounce of sense, as it clearly takes place far later on, and I'm waffling about the correct order of episodes in a little-remembered telefantasy show, aren't I. Shut up, that's a perfectly normal pursuit.

Anyways, I'm quite taken with Department S. It's not as good as its Championy stablemate, but it's very nicely done, and the characters are engaging. I'm also impressed by how Sullivan's boss manages to be black, at a time when almost every other show on British TV had failed to notice that there are black people in the world, let alone that they might like to act occasionally. Otherwise it follows a very similar template to The Champions. A threesome of crimefighters (except this time they're not an actual threesome), with one being an action man, one the more cerebral type, and one a genius, heavily science-orientated woman. There are differences of course. Stuart Sullivan is far more down-to-earth than Craig Stirling, and doesn't hurl himself into danger with quite so much wild glee; Jason King and Richard Barrett certainly don't dress alike (thank heaven); and Annabelle Hurst is clearly in (requited, if hesitant) love with Sullivan, whereas Sharron Macready was very much one of the guys. Necessarily, one might quietly point out, given that Craig and Richard always seemed more interested in each other. All the same, it's clear that Monty Berman and co liked the basic template. They must have liked the actors, too - Sharron just turned up in an episode of Department S, as a fabulously two-faced blackmailer. In celebration, I decided to give Peter Wyngarde's episode of The Champions a spin. Damn, but that's a good show. Sorry, Department S, but you'll never be half as good a crimebusting squad as Nemesis.

But to get to the point (yes, there was one!), who should turn up in an episode called "The Man In The Elegant Room", but Juliet Harmer, formerly of Adam Adamant Lives!. So, beneath the cut, is Georgie Jones undercover as an art critic. In living colour!

... )
swordznsorcery: (paradox)
( Jun. 20th, 2015 00:24)
A disaster has occurred. I have run out of Remington Steele. Actually technically I haven't, as I'm keeping two episodes back for a rainy day, because *woe*. I need more episodes, damn it! But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A green-and-grey, rain-speckled light, bereft of charming jewel thieves, but a light nonetheless. The other day I wrote a Doctor Who/All Creatures Great And Small crossover thingy for Obscure & British, and it got me thinking that I've never really watched that programme properly. All Creatures..., that is. Obviously I've watched Doctor Who. Watched it, bought it, yelled at it frequently. I'm practically married to it. Anyway. All Creatures Great And Small started in 1978, when I was three. It was my mother's favourite show, so was always on, but other than falling in love with their cars and their wonderful upright telephone, I didn't pay a great deal of attention to it. So the other day I went hunting on YouTube, and found series one. Hurrah! I've been dabbling, and it's surprising how many memories it brings back, despite me thinking that I hadn't really watched it. Siegfried! I hated Siegfried as a child. I'm not sure how much of that is because he was always shouting, and how much was because he's mean to poor Tristan, but I really did take a disliking to the poor man. Actually, it might have been his yellow waistcoat. And proper Helen! Turns out that Lynda Bellingham actually did more episodes as Helen than Carol Drinkwater did, but I still think of her as New Helen, and Drinkwater as the proper one. So clearly I was watching the show after all. The IMDb says that Helen mk i left in 1985, and Helen mk ii started in 1988, so goodness only knows what they did in the interim. Maybe she went upstairs for three years, like the kids do in soaps.

Peter Davison left for a bit, didn't he. I remember that, as I remember being annoyed by it. He was replaced by John McGlynn and a badger. I have nothing against badgers, but they're not sufficient recompense for losing the world's most accident prone vet. With the best will in the world, a badger isn't going to lead James Herriot in a string of semi-drunken misadventures. Well, he might. But it's unlikely. I only plan to watch series one anyway, so such woes are immaterial really. It's a very nice show, but the lovely telephone is pretty much the dramatic highlight of the piece. Basically I need exploding.

I also found Department S on YouTube though, which is good. Department S is a sixties espionage show, from the team behind The Champions, which means it features another threesome of two men and a woman investigating crime at Elstree Studios in London all over the world. It's not as good as The Champions, not least because the cast don't have that awesome chemistry that Craig, Richard and Sharron shared, but it's fun enough. It also has an absolutely terrific theme tune. I have seen some of the series before, but most of the episodes are new. New and promisingly explody. Mind you, at current rate of play it'll be three years before I get through all twenty-eight of them.

So yeah. Life has gone from impeccably dressed jewel thieves dodging cops and crooks alike, to mulling over the relative benefits of pig-keeping in Yorkshire, with a side order of dodgy floral print shirts trying to save the world. This has led me to several conclusions.

1. More television ought to have Pierce Brosnan stealing things in it. I think I may have mentioned that before, and time has only served to confirm the theory. Granted it might not entirely work in All Creatures Great And Small, but I'm certainly happy to find out.

2. Christopher Timothy must have hated the BBC. They gave him his own show, and then they cast Robert Hardy and Peter Davison to make with a two-pronged offensive and steal it from under him. He's like a bowl of porridge sat between two slices of chocolate gateau. And chocolate gateau covered in edible glitter at that. Poor sod.

3. Vintages phones rock.

4. So do vintage cars. Running boards!

5. It's a hard life being in a sixties espionage show. Even with all the old telly that I watch, and even with my usual indifference to ridiculous FX and questionable production methods, I was completely baffled by the end of Department S episode two. Sullivan and Annabelle are all wrapped up in cold weather gear, whilst chatting in front of a photograph of some trees. I couldn't figure that out at all, but they were actually having a sleigh ride (of course). Honestly, I thought I was immune to bad back projection, but this was so hilariously bad, I couldn't believe they were trying to get away with it. Given their expressions, I'm not sure that the actors could, either. To add insult to injury, they have really appalling outfits, too.



Become a spy. See the world! Or, at least, see lots of photographs of the world, and stand in front of them nearly convincingly. Good old 1960s. What would we do without them.
http://lost-spook.livejournal.com/465693.html

- OT3 or closer than family bond
- Tremaine Finds Out 'big reveal' about their powers


Fandom: The Champions
Characters: Craig Stirling, Richard Barrett, Sharron Macready, William Tremayne, assorted foes
Gen, c. 6000 words

Cut for length )
I skipped a few days. It got all sociable, so I went undercover.

In your own space, pimp three comms or challenges and explain why you love them. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

I mostly seem to be a member of places where nobody ever posts anything, but then maybe that's a good reason to rec them. First up is [livejournal.com profile] champions_fans. This is a comm for the 60s TV series The Champions, about three secret agents who are given super powers by a mysterious mountain tribe following a plane crash. How they got the powers is less important than what they do with them, as we follow them on their journey of learning to be super-powered, and learning to live with a constant telepathic link with one another. This is particularly problematic for the two guys, who were close friends before the crash, and consequently have a closer bond now. Torture one of them, for example, and the other suffers too. Being the sixties, none of this was explored as much as it might have been, but the result is still a great fun show, and the comm is a nice, friendly place, where nobody takes anything too seriously. It could do with a bit more love, though...

Then there's [livejournal.com profile] smallfandomflsh, a community where there are prompts posted every couple of weeks, and you can use them to inspire a story based on any small fandom. The smaller the better! I haven't written anything for this one yet, but I must get around to it. All my fandoms are dead ones, it seems. Places like this are consequently pleasantly reassuring!

Also [livejournal.com profile] the_chestertons, which I only discovered existed a couple of weeks ago. An entire community about Ian and Barbara! Everybody know who they are, right? Back in 1963, when we first met the Doctor and his TARDIS, he kidnapped a pair of teachers. Ian Chesterton is a science teacher with a sizeable side order of swashbuckle, who throws himself into his new life with remarkable glee, and Barbara is a tough and sensible history teacher, who takes no nonsense from anybody. And they are awesome. Their comm's a little quiet, though... (hint hint)!

I also like [community profile] dead_fandoms, but sadly I think that actually is dead.
What is it about travelling in time that leads to a compulsion to wear silly hats? Doug and Tony's willingness to play with the dressing up box never wanes, but you do have to wonder sometimes what leads them to agree to those hats.

... )
Yes, I've been watching television again. Sorry.

Are Friends Electric? )
Episode 1x30: "Autokill"

Paul Eddington, who I think wins the prize this season for appearing unexpectedly, drops a man called George off at Nemesis headquarters. He's not happy, poor old George. In fact he seems quite ill, and wanders lifelessly into Nemesis. People say hello to him, but he walks on past, seemingly focused on one specific end. Finally another man says hello to him, and this time George does respond. He draws a gun and shoots the other man down, apparently for no reason at all. It takes some doing, mind. Six shots in the chest at close range, and his target is still staggering about saying "Oof," so possibly all Nemesis agents are at least mildly super-powered. He goes down eventually though, whereupon George is jumped on by half the employees of Nemesis. It takes all of them to overpower him, for George is clearly a man on a mission. He is very, very determined to make sure that his victim is absolutely dead. Blimey. You really don't want to get on the wrong side of George.

... )
Episode 1x29: "Desert Journey"

A man prepares for a meeting. He's murdered pretty swiftly, and one of his murderers takes his place. There are various Arab-type leaders present, and ohmigosh it's Roger Delgado! Then our murderous imposter leaves a briefcase with a bomb on it on the table, and runs away. He leaves it right next to Roger Delgado, who survives when half of the room is wiped out; but then he's the Master, so that comes as no real surprise. The meeting is in ruins, however. Peace in the region is destabilised. Quickly, call in the Champions!

... )
swordznsorcery: (jack)
( Mar. 14th, 2010 20:27)
Episode 1x28: "The Interrogation"

Craig is lying on a bed somewhere, soaked in sweat and dreaming about the plane crash that led to him getting his super powers. Meanwhile, back at Nemesis HQ, Richard and Sharron demand to know where he is. He's inexplicably late back from an assignment, and Tremayne is being unnecessarily obstructive. Something strange is afoot. Sadly, however, the something strange is annoyingly hard to recap.

... )
Episode 1x27: "The Happening"

Richard is on a foreign assignment in the Australian outback, when he's badly injured and left with amnesia. He's uncovered something important, but he has no idea what it is, who he is, or what he's doing in the middle of nowhere. Craig and Sharron are worried about him, but can't make Tremayne listen. They're busy covering the security for a special atom bomb test, and Tremayne doesn't want to think about anything else right now. Richard, however, may very well be running out of time.

... )
Episode 1x26: "The Final Countdown"

A man in an office is awaiting somebody's arrival. Whoever the somebody is, he's been away for some time; but now that he's coming back, it's clear that there are many things to be done. Things to be found, and people to hunt out. The man is a Nazi, returning from years in a Soviet prison, and anxious to continue where he left off. Oh dear. This can only mean one thing - Craig is going to be wearing his Nazi-hunting yellow pullover again. What joy.

... )
Episode 1x25: "Nutcracker"

A man goes into a tailor's shop, where he asks to buy half a dozen moss green bow ties with a unicorn's head motif. Quite apart from marking him out as a man of extraordinarily little taste, this indicates to the tailor that he is not in fact an ordinary customer, but is instead a secret agent on a special mission to access a top secret facility hidden beneath the dressing room. Well, what else are tailors' shops for? Pressing a secret button hidden on the mirror frame, he descends into an underground corridor, where a series of security tests await him. First, a pattern of lights on a board, where he has to press a series of buttons in sequence; then a piano keyboard, where he has to play a short riff; and finally, eight safe combinations that have to be dialled in the proper order. This all gains him entrance to a vault, where he proceeds to steal a file and try to leave with it. Steel doors trap him in an instant, and gas soon knocks him out. But golly, why should such a respected secret agenty type suddenly try to steal a confidential file? Somebody should probably try to find out.

... )
swordznsorcery: (methos)
( Mar. 6th, 2010 13:48)
Episode 1x24: "The Gun-Runners"

A group of men in uniform track through a jungle, and soon come across some wooden boxes that appear to have been recently dug out of the ground. Suddenly, from out of the jungle burst more men, who gun down the first bunch before going to investigate the boxes themselves. It's clear that this second group of people know what's inside, and soon enough so do we. Weapons. The second group of men look greatly smug. The first group, not so much.

... )
Episode 1x23: "The Mission"

A minibus filled with rowdy, cheerful singers pulls up at an old house, where its occupants are revealed to be down-and-outs, shipped in to undergo blood tests in exchange for alcohol. One of them, in search of more than his allotted ration, slips through a door marked "Private", and is shot by an armed guard. The last thing he sees before he dies is two heavily-bandaged men standing over him. Something odd is clearly going on. There's a lot of it about lately.

... )
Episode 1x22: "The Body Snatchers"

I think I've just encountered an episode of The Champions that I don't like. This is somewhat disconcerting, and not an experience that I'm anxious to repeat.

... )
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Feb. 25th, 2010 21:42)
Episode 1x21: "The Survivors"

Three young men go scuba diving in a lake in the Austrian Alps, and are elated to discover something that they've clearly been looking for for some time. Returning to their startlingly small tent, however, they are promptly machine-gunned to death - and by Donald Houston of all people. Quite frankly I expect better behaviour from somebody so distinguished; although admittedly he did try to drown baby Harry Hamlin in Ancient Greece, so maybe it's not so great a surprise. Such murderous tendencies aside, you've got to like the guy. After he's finished blasting away at his three victims, he turns to a minion, and cheerfully tells him to make sure that it doesn't look like an accident.

Not much chance of that, Donald. Not unless they fell down some stairs in a spectacularly inventive fashion. :D

... )
swordznsorcery: (face)
( Feb. 23rd, 2010 18:49)
Episode 1x20: "Project Zero"

A panicky scientist with highly excitable hair runs through an apparently deserted village. Chancing upon a post office, he dashes in and asks to use the phone. Before he can do so, however, he's shot dead by that bloke from Are You Being Served?, and his body dumped on a London street. He was a highly regarded scientist, so Nemesis is called in to investigate his death - and as the Champions hear at a meeting with Tremayne, he had also recently vanished. Lots of scientists have recently vanished, so the best plan, obviously, is to vanish another one. The blatantly insane plans that Nemesis comes up with on a regular basis are one of my favourite things about this show, I think. The number of times that "Let's get one of us kidnapped!" turns up as an entirely sensible tactical option can really only be applauded. It's probably only beaten by the amount of times that "Let's try to get one of us killed!" manages to crop up. You have to wonder how the Nemesis agents who aren't superhuman ever survive a mission.

... )
Episode 1x19: "Reply Box No. 666"

In a hotel in the Caribbean, a man tears a strange advertisement out of a newspaper. He seems to be planning to follow it up, but shortly afterwards he is killed by a jealous lover. The newspaper clipping comes into the possession of Nemesis, where Tremayne is convinced that its oddness points to it being some sort of code, perhaps for crooks to use to contact one another. The only way to be sure is if one of the Champions follows it up themselves, to see where the trail leads.

... )
swordznsorcery: (manolito)
( Feb. 19th, 2010 18:47)
Episode 1x18: "Full Circle"

A dark figure clambers into an embassy in the middle of the night, rifling through a safe, and going through the top secret documents contained inside. Moments later, having apparently photographed these documents, he makes a hasty escape. The embassy staff have overheard his break-in, however, and call the police, who promptly apprehend him - very promptly, and on a quiet country lane at that. We're not allowed police officers in the countryside anymore, so this scene rather dates the episode. ;) Having been told of the sensitive documents that were photographed, the police confiscate the camera, only to find that it's empty. There's no sign of the film anywhere, and no indication of anywhere that it could have been left. If the information contained on it is passed on to enemy countries, all diplomatic relations between Britain and whichever fictional country that we're dealing with this time will collapse. Quickly! Send for the Champions!

... )
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