Neon

I recently submitted a piece of flash fiction to a journal contest. It did not win.

I don’t allow such rejected stories to languish, rather I will seek to resubmit them to another journal or contest.

This story though was part of a theme – the editors know the theme, the readers know the theme, within that context it lives. Or dies.

Without that context though? Could I submit this themed story to another journal ‘as is’?

I have thought about it and I remain unsure.

Hence this blog post.

You may have noted that I have been careful not to share with you the theme, the reason also why I have provided no link to the contest.

I am sharing with you the story here. For a limited time only.  Perhaps!

Does the story work for you without knowledge of a theme?

 

************

 

‘She only comes out at night’.

‘You’ve seen her?’

‘Hell, I’ve seen her, we’ve all seen her, she’s not someone you forget’.

‘So you know her name?’

‘Sure. Her first name at any rate. Neon. Ain’t never heard anyone use her last name.

What do you want to know for anyway, what did you say your name was?’

‘Look, you just need to know that she’s dangerous, very dangerous’.

So he won’t tell me his name. ‘Dangerous. Well I know she likes to hang out in the casino over the road. Perhaps you should ask around there?’

‘I’ll do that. Thanks for your time’.

The bar-owner nodded and turned to a customer. ‘The usual?’

‘The usual’.

As he poured a beer he saw emerge from his office at the other side of the room Neon.

‘Your secret is safe with me’.

‘I see that, thank you’.

‘No problem.’

‘May I ask why?’

‘No real reason He’s from out of town and asking too many questions. And I just didn’t like the look of him’.

The customer fidgeted on his stool. The barman was talking to himself and his faraway eyes seemed to be glimmering.

He was Neon’s now.

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The Jelly Fox – Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy E4 LogoLike Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger recreating The Jungle Book. Or a William Blake inspired party-time.

Noel Fielding's Luxury ComedySo describes the associated web-page for Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy from production company Secret Peter showing on E4, the new comedy from one half of The Mighty Boosh, the eponymous Noel Fielding, but though the other Boosher, Julian Barratt, is absent the spirit of Boosh is still very much at play.

Not just its spirit though but also some of the Boosh actors. Michael Fielding (is he more than a name-sake to Noel I wonder?!) who played Naboo turns up here as Noel’s anteater butler – yes you read that right! And Rich Fulcher who played Bob Fossil turns up as William Jessop celebrating his one hundredth birthday and being visited by the ghost of a flea. This may start to give you a feel for what this Luxury Comedy is about – or not.

We are warned that it contains adult humour – in the UK that means only suitable for those over 18 – if you are 17 and British sorry but then this is not for you! Though this show may well not be for you however old you might be – more of that later. It may just as well have warned us that it contains childish humour and that if you are serious-minded-adult-type to watch at your peril.  For Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy is for the child in all of us, if, that is, your inner child was expelled from Kindergarten…

Incidentally to establish that you are indeed eighteen and beyond, Channel 4 make the serious demand of you that you click in a box on their online player confirming such and you are then cheerily beckoned in, not a bleary burly bludgeoning bouncer in sight. Anyone seventeen and younger will naturally be deterred by this. Okay that’s enough sarcasm.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox cast

The cast awaits you

The Luxury Comedy starts in musical fashion with the entire cast however significant however insignificant welcoming us to them and their show.

This second episode, The Jelly Fox, then cuts to Noel Fielding in black leather jumpsuit and Aladdin Sane style face-paint dancing around to a nineteen sixties rock song (I could have just said ‘the 60′s’ couldn’t I as I doubt most of you are familiar with the rock music of the 1860′s).

The rock music so alluded is from 1960′s psychedelic group Lysergic Casserole who recorded just one album which ‘no-one has ever heard of’ and described by Noel Fielding as ‘the best band ever’ but then explaining that

they disappeared having took so much LSD they got trapped in their own guitar case

And the episode proceeds from there. There is no linear way to refer to this episode as it is beyond transcription if not description. You will either get tuned in to its own particular madness or look upon it aghast and askance before tuning out toward the lesser insanity of the BBC News at 10 or James May’s Things You Need to Know - James May is very likely in fact Noel Fielding’s TV Uncle – I do not know if that is helpful or pretentious of me – or both.

We see Lysergic Casserole’s guitar-case-trip as they experience Orson Welles having a romantic dinner with a cheese-cake, and then Welles pulling a skipping rope out of his…well I will let you use your own imagination here!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Lysergic Casserole

Lysergic Casserole – the amount of times I have spelt this wrong over the years

Their music like all the music in the show is provided by Sergio Pizzorno of British rock group Kasabian – I was sceptical when I first heard of this collaboration not thinking Kasabian’s rather masculine swaggering feet-firmly-on-the-ground music would best serve Noel Fielding’s head-in-the-clouds whimsy – Mercury Rev or Polyphonic Spree would have been more fitting I felt – but Pizzorno’s music sits very comfortably with Fielding’s madcap visions.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Diamond Back

Diamond Back

Later Noel Fielding decides to rescue Lysergic Casserole from their Guitar Case bound fate by erecting a ramp made of Ryvita! – it is not just their freedom he has in mind though, he considers that they might make a second album and he could be their manager! But his snouty nosed butler reminds him that the sixties was a half-a-century ago and like Austin Powers their respective mojo’s might not adapt to the transport to the present day…alas they and their Harley’s trajectory is toward the guitar-case of the rock-star they call Diamond Back – Diamond Back having risen from the swamps of Putney, his father a pet-shop junkie and his mother, well she had a hundred eyes. Clear? I hope not.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy has comedy and music, that at least is established. It also has art. Much of the art is provided by Fielding but not all of it. Animation is provided by the show’s director Nigel Coan. Coan is another Boosh connection having provided its animation too.The Luxury Comedy sets are art and there is one scene where Noel Fielding himself is producing art. The most striking and impressing aspect of the program is its look – its visual swagger.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Keep off the Chest

Artist at work – can you see what it is yet?

And as noted in one scene we see Fielding painting on canvas – we can assume this was done in real-time and condensed into TV-time – Rolf Harris used to do this kind of thing, well not quite this kind of thing!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - press-ups

The finished work

If this show is going to work for you you have to take it on its own terms. Concepts like narrative development and dramatic conventions are only going to get in your way. You have to go with its flow, let it get into your blood and nerves, let Noel Fielding get inside your head. If you are not prepared to do that then the Singing Detective and Celebrity Juice are also scheduled alongside it – their own particular brands of madness may be more accommodating of yours. Though these allusions to other channels imply a world before time-shifted TV of  +1 channels and endless repeats, of online players and PVR’s, and as if the most of you would be watching it during its first E4 Broadcast Thursday evening’s at 10 o’clock!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Andy Warhol

With his cleaner

I alluded to the Boosh lineage but not all of them are from that particular ancestral tree. For example Noel Fielding’s cleaner Andy Warhol. Yes that Andy Warhol. Well is there another Andy Warhol?! He is played by Tom Meeten. In this episode he is planning a vacation with Picasso and Keith Haring and has organised a cleaner replacement going by the name of Frida Kahlo! His suitcase was given to him by Jackson Pollack and his rucksack is borrowed from René  Magritte – not at all art for art’s sake this! – Fielding comments about the Magritte rucksack ‘Yeah it’s a nice design but probably gets a bit annoying’!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy René Magritte Rucksack

René Magritte Rucksack

Though this episode is called The Jelly Fox it is only in the second part of the show that mention is made of him! We see Little Chrissie and Spoon Snake and their crew on their way to meet The Jelly Fox. And who or what is the Jelly Fox? Well

he gives you what you need. He lives in a blue-fabric castle with creases in it. He will give you a tablet that dissolves in wine. To wipe away your past…

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Dolly

Dolly and the Warhol-cum-Kahlo Cleaner

We then cut back to Noel Fielding and another new (ir)regular character Dolly. Dolly is played by Doll Wells. Dolly has given him a face-painting of David Bowie. Except that she has painted a Tiger. We then see cleaner Frida Kahlo except that it is Andy Warhol wearing a dress. He wants to wear a dress in public but is uncomfortable in doing so, so passes himself off as Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo! – the usual cowardly recourse of the man in denial of their transvestism! Dolly advises him that he should not be ashamed of this. She then advises that she dresses up as a Fireman and a Baby and calls herself a Firebaby! Noel then wants to know whether she dresses with a fireman top-half and nappy or romper suit and a helmet. She explains the latter, obviously! He considers it a joke, she a serious concept. They then argue over this point. Getting nowhere they decide to consult Hawkeye – the complex technology that resolves the flight of balls in Tennis and Cricket not Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce of M*A*S*H* fame!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Hawkeye

Hawkeye declares

If only all dilemmas could be resolved this way! Hawkeye decides it is a Concept, and that is an end to it!

It is only at the show’s end that we actually encounter the Jelly Fox – the term plot-spoiler has no impact on a show like this but I won’t reveal it all the same.

If you should be watching this on the 4OD online player you may note a ‘More Like This’ option – but other than its previous episode there is almost certainly nothing more like this on E4 or any other TV channel currently….and I am thankful for this.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy happily revels in its own wild imaginings. I am happy to revel along in it too – and I don’t have to take anything to do so. The whole psyche-shifting experience is all perfectly legal!Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox

Dreams – like Vanessa Dakinsky and Natalie Shau

Vanessa Dakinsky - home pageDream II Natalie Shau MadreNot I have a dream. Not play dreams of Genie. Not sweet dreams are made of this with all of us looking for something. Sour dreams then? Getting closer, already way to close. Nightmare. Wake Up.

Seeing the worst in things. Projecting your own internal horror to the world around you.

A juxtaposition of images could be banal but incites in us panic of the strange, against the stranger, feeling the worst even if that moving biped with a teapot for a head is the sweetest of creatures if you just took the time to get to know him, her, it, whatever…if you could just get past the tea coming out of their spout you might find that even if they are not someone/thing you would invite home then they are still an interesting conversationalist at the very least.

My own dreams involve flight – literal flight and of fancy too – becoming invisible, physically stronger or faster, even occasionally I choose to be a wittier version of myself – or so I imagine in the fevered moments of my sleeping…usually though my dreams are like a sleeping soap not much different to my day routines – occasionally a character from a TV program might show up in one of its scenes and which will feel quite unremarkable at the time and shows clearly I watch far too much TV. I have even had a few bloggers show up in my dreams of late. Really! It might have been you! And again clearly demonstrating that I am spending too many hours reading the diverse ramblings – sorry, articulate observations – of bloggers.

Vanessa Dakinsky Helium

Helium by Vanessa Dakinsky

But if my dreams do drift from the banal and it seems as if I am to encounter creatures or shapes that will frighten and unnerve me, a sense of foreboding, then frankly I am a spoil-sport, I know then that I am dreaming and I wake up. I do not wait around to get a good look at the menacing creature coming toward me, so as to stare them in their predatory eye or even to run and hide that much the better to experience the impending horror all the better to record it in my waking hours with the end to make art of it.

Is that what Vanessa Dakinsky and Natalie Shau do? In the name of their art suffer their dreams so as to make life of them again upon their expectant canvas? Or do those who have dreams they cannot make sense of go into art or music or fiction-writing or some other flight from reality profession whereas those who have prosaic dreams – or worse swear to you that they never dream – go into accountancy or news-reading or grave-digging. You can’t be cursed with a dark imagination and dig graves for a living, right?! And if there are any grave-diggers perchance reading this I am happy for you to give me the heads up and put me straight.

Both these artists were featured this week on My Modern Met…and some of the words used to describe them are predictable enough if also unavoidable – juxtaposing, surrealist and here I am hundreds of words about nightmares in and I have yet to mention Alfred Hitchcock or Lewis Carroll.

If I had to set up a Dakinsky versus Shau showdown because modern media likes that sort of thing then I would say Dakinsky is the more compelling artist, Shau the more compelling nightmarist.

Natalie Shau

Hunter’s Dream – Shau

And that perhaps both should see a therapist. But then that might cure them of their art. But again I’m only an unlicensed pop-psychologist so don’t pay too much heed to me.

Both are new names to me, perhaps they are to you too. I am not going to spend too many more words on them as their art does speak for itself. What a cliché. And one I always use when posting about paintings or photography too. Then I will say that art is subjective and you don’t need me to make up your mind for you and that I will just post up the artworks and be done. That is probably what that ‘WordPress Writing Helper, Copy a Post as an existing template’ is for.

I will then go on to add ‘But then what is the fun in that?! in regard to myself usually giving you some of my thoughts anyway. I have blogged too many posts! But hey sometimes the best comments aren’t always the most original ones. I’ve not said that before – ends blog-post wiping the easy stain of cliché off his hands feeling a little more content with himself.

Pleasant dreams.

Vanessa Dakinsky oil on canvas self

Vanessa Dakinsky – self-portrait

Natalie Shau - Dream II - My Leda

Natalie Shau – My Leda

The Boosh Tale of Hitcher – and other juicy danglings

Hitcher iPlayerCome with me now on a journey through time and space to the world of The Mighty Boosh

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding is to be appearing on ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show Saturday January 21st. They will no doubt be chatting about his new comedy show starting on E4 Thursday January 26 Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy which in the words of the E4 website is a:

Psychedelic character-based comedy show half filmed and half animated, with music provided by Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno.

Noel Fielding was just one half of The Boosh though, the Vince half, the other half, the Howard half, was played by Julian Barratt and he is absent from this new venture.

This post though is not to pointlessly speculate about this new Luxury Comedy venture rather as per the opening line to journey back in space and time to when the Mighty Boosh was just The Boosh and available only in sound and vivid imagination, its TV dance not yet begun.

Radio was an ideal medium for them as Fielding and Barratt’s combined visual imaginations were too big for TV budgets.

Inevitably as alluded this did not stop them venturing into TV or rather TV come wooing them.

Theirs is a drugged imagination where drugs may not actually be involved. Their British comedy cousins are Eddie Izzard, Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves and they can trace their comedy ancestry through Monty Python and Spike Milligan all the way back to Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.

Their night dreams weave in and out of their waking hours, their shadowy imaginings step into the light.

The Mighty Boosh ImageThe episode subject of this post is Hitcher first broadcast back in November 2001 and rebroadcast this month on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The BBC’s iPlayer does not just reprise recent Telly but Radio too and this is how this episode came to my ears. This is the outlands of radio – about ten people listen to Radio Four at any one time, Radio 4 Extra is for those who consider even Radio 4 just too mainstream.

This episode is preambled in just one sentence on the BBC iPlayer page has ‘Howard and Vince takes Tony the Prawn to a zoo for animal offenders’. A description which on one hand does not tell you very much whilst at the same time telling you everything.

The Boosh are difficult to transcribe as their words are better heard than read. With this in mind I will venture vainly forth on just that endeavour.

It starts with Howard and Vince in the midst of their zoo-keeping duties, which translates as Howard’s head buried in a book and being insistently interrupted by Vince – think a child in the car, their constant drip drip to front-seat parents of ‘are we there yet?’ – for example

Howard, you know the black bits in bananas, are they Tarantula’s eggs?!

Howard is reading about ancient Greece – ‘why do you read that old-school rubbish?’ asks Vince! Vince does not have time for reading but has read Charlie Goes Abroad. And Charlie Takes Time Off. ‘Is that part of a Charlie Adventure series?’ Howard asks. ‘Yes’ replies Vince ‘There are hundreds of them – ‘Charlie Buys a Flamingo’, Charlie goes to the shops and realizes he has lost his little purse’ and on! Before Howard wishing an end to Charlie’s adventures suggests ‘Charlie Chokes on His Own Legs’! Howard then explaining that he is only interested in real people like Aeschylus and Pythagoras, people who ‘solved stuff’ – ‘Charlie solved stuff’ counters Vince

Charlie Solved The Riddle. The Riddle of His Own Existence!

One pleasure and relief in listening to this radio broadcast is there is no canned laughter – there is no studio audience laughter either. There is no studio audience. Their budget was just too shoe-string back then. There is laughter though. Between the two of them as they struggle to keep a straight face in response to the increasingly absurd statements each counters the other with. It reminded me of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore except with them there was just one jester Peter Cook with Dudley the corpsing victim, whereas with Vince and Howard both are as much jester as jested.

The Boosh Bob Fossil

Bob Fossil

They are then visited my the manager of Zooniverse and the Zookeeper’s right hand man Bob Fossil who advises them they need to move Tony the Prawn who is a psychological killer to his brother’s zoo – zoo-keeping runs in the family! – the zoo for animal offenders – current inmates include a rapist crab, a mackerel that exposes himself – you do not want to see that from any living creature but especially not a mackerel – a baboon that walks into lifts and presses all the floors, a swan that keys cars…

They need to have Tony the Prawn delivered by four that afternoon. It is in their Jeep on their way that they will first encounter the Hitchhiker, or Hitcher.

Before that pick up though there is an argument about what music to listen to on the radio-tape player – Vince has made a Gary Numan mix-tape but Howard wants to listen to his jazz tape. Not just any old jazz but John Coltrane. He wants Vince to listen out for a particular moment of Sun Ra’s Jet Flight – ‘it’s coming up, ready?’ – except it is always just coming up, never quite getting there. Which is also kind of the point of it too. As Howard muses Jazz cannot be tamed or described ‘Jazz is. Jazz was. Jazz be’!

Full disclosure – I was not familiar with this Sun Ra and John Coltrane collaboration from The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra – rather technology in the form of Shazam told me.

Howard is driving and Vince must keep him awake. ‘Have you ever fallen asleep at the wheel’ Vince asks Howard. ‘No’ says Howard ‘But I have woken up at the wheel’ – Bum bum!

To keep him awake Vince tells Howard stories about how we was brought up in the Jungles of India by Bryan Ferry. He explains how they had to be careful in the jungle when falling a sleep that the monkey’s did not steal their faces. And that he himself one time did fall asleep. And then the story ends abruptly. Howard wants to know what happened next but Vince says that will be for another time. ‘Who are you’ cries Howard ‘dealing out stories in chunks’! Going on to exclaim that ‘You cannot juice me up and then leave me dangling – don’t be a juicy dangler!’ This leads to an argument and Howard asking Vince to leave the car.

The scene temporarily cuts away to Bob Fossil delivering a zookeeper themed stand up comedy routine but which is dying with the crowd – ‘even the hyenas have stopped laughing’ goes one heckle to which he responds

I don’t have any witty verbal comebacks but I do have this herd of Wildebeest over here and a starter pistol. What I call a stampede comeback!

The Boosh - Hitcher by Noel Fielding

The Hitcher

Back to Howard at the wheel and having just picked up the Hitcher. The Hitcher is carrying a box but as Howard tries to strike up conversation with him he remains silent save slow heavy breathing. ‘Let’s listen to the radio’ Howard declares. Cue The Doors Riders on the Storm and Jim Morrison intoning ‘there’s a killer on the road’ then cue Howard quickly switching off said radio and stating there is ‘too much music in the world’!

The Hitcher does eventually speak though – in a vaguely threatening Cockney cadence! – and regales Howard with tales of his working past as a stage performer. This though really does need to be heard – words on a page cannot do this extravagant  monologue justice.

Then Howard’s curiosity about the Hitcher’s box can no longer be contained but on asking about the box he suddenly finds himself in the box!

Later in the box he encounters Vince – for Vince too had met the same fate at the hands of the Hitcher. Eventually they meet the People of the Box. The People of the Box have been trapped in the box for many centuries. They then inform Howard and Vince that it was written that they would come. And save them. And be their king!

Howard is flattered. He knew there was an important purpose to his life. And being a king for the box people must be it. But it turns out they were addressing themselves to Vince!

Vince though does not want this role. It is the way is not it that those who want to be the leader of the box people are fated not to have that role and those that are so fated do not want it.

And sorry readers but I now myself must be a juicy dangler – always assuming I have your juices up! – and leave this tale here. For it concludes in numerous songs that I could not possibly transcribe or do justice to even if I could. The summary should you decide to seek it out is not entirely satisfactory either.

But if you are under the spell of the Boosh then you will realize that the place of arrival like the place of departure is neither here nor there – the journey is all.

Alphas and Misfits, Heroes and Villains

Misfits LogoAlphas cast photosA superpower is as much a curse as it is a blessing. It sets its heroes apart, it sets its heroes alone.

Alphas is a new US science-fiction drama from the Syfy channel about dysfunctional folks with superpowers currently airing on Channel 5. Misfits is a British offering of a similar theme and is back for its third series on E4.

It used to be easy enough when reviewing this genre as there were only a small clique of superheroes to cast back to – Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman… and a few others. And then there were those who whilst not necessarily what you would call superior there difference was such as to give them an edge over their fellow men and women – The Invisible Man for example.

Heroes

We can be Heroes…

This though was before 2006 and the arrival of NBC’s Heroes. Any super-power that could possibly be conceived of was it seems conceived of by the Heroes’ script-writers.

So with Alphas and Misfits you can play a game among yourselves to see which of the superpowers featured were first prototyped in Heroes. I say superpowers rather than superheroes because with both the Alpha and Misfits characters – if Misfits in particular – a number of these powers belong to those of less than heroic nature let alone super-heroic.

Alphas David Strathairn

The Good Doctor…

The Alphas in Alphas are a motley and disparate group of men and women brought together by Doctor Lee Rosen (played by David Strathairn) working for the US Government’ Department of Defence who is seeking to harness the alphas collective powers to help in the fight of good over evil (this being the comic-book story genre with its black and white morality) – like most such tales the Super Heroes are serving in effect as Super Cops – rounding up villains – and we can suppose some super-villains too, perhaps of Alphas gone bad, Alphas whose powers are being harnessed for criminal enterprises by an Evil Doctor – surely not?!

Super-powers used in the service of your country for the common good – almost a social democratic undercurrent if not socialist! The Misfits on the other hand use their super-powers for their own ends only and are not employed in any of their government’s various departments. And more of them shortly.

The current crew of alphas on the Good Doctor’s team are explained in detail on the Channel 5 program page but briefly there is Bill Harken who has the more traditional superpower of physical strength and stamina but untraditionally unlike Superman’s unlimited supply (Kryptonite not withstanding) has to conjure up this strength himself and cannot sustain it for very long.

Alphas Cameron Hicks and Bill Harken

Don’t mess with Bill

Next up is Cameron Hicks whose superpower is one of heightened balance – seriously I am not making that up! – his aim is flawless.

Next is Rachel Pirzad who has the rather cool power of being able to heighten any one of her five senses at any given time. Though this is clearly a power as much a curse has a blessing – consider a restaurant and with your sense of smell enhanced and the over-whelming aromas of the food from the kitchen and your fellow diner’s tables – consider too the over-whelming aroma of the scent of said fellow chefs and the diners – and we must assume for health and safety there would be a bathroom on site – well let’s not go there!

Then there is Nina Theroux who has the power of suggestion – to hypnotically override your thought – quite a sinister power really. The Heads of the Republican and Democrat Party will be on her trail no doubt along with countless media barons.

Alphas Ryan Cartwright

Ring my bell…

Finally there is Gary Bell who has the power to view and interact with wireless communications out of thin air – this is a very particular superpower but one in this ever connected web-age whose time clearly has come! He is also described as diagnosed with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder – he is challenging for his colleagues to work with and he is challenging for this viewer  to watch. Whether this is to the credit of the actor Ryan Cartwright and the Alphas scriptwriters or to the discredit of my own tolerance towards this condition I am not sure.

A strange brew of super-powers then – and the question then for Dr Rosen and we the viewers is whether it is potent enough to successfully fight crime and keep the US homeland secure.

With the Alphas it is assumed they were born with their powers and their being no standard metric tests, like IQ, for their talents it is only belatedly they have come to wider recognition and in particular the attention of Doctor Rosen. Here the Alphas can realise there are others like them, their poisoned-chalice superpower possession is not one they possess alone.

The Misfits in Misifts on the other hand were not born with their powers rather they were rudely visited upon them following a freak weather incident – and these powers have not just effected the main characters but other members of the public too. Misfits because the original quintet were all working on probation for various minor crimes and misdemeanors. Misfits has also done a clever trick of having another character as a broker of these weather-born powers allowing those so blessed, so cursed, to trade in one superpower for another superpower when they perhaps get bored with their current one or indeed find it far more of a curse than a blessing.

Misfit Joe

Joe, new Misfit in Town

For the third series, one of the original Misfits, Nathan Young, (played by Robert Sheehy) has left the show for Las Vegas but though what happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas a 7 minute mini-episode of his exploits are available to view for free on iTunes or online on Channel 4 here.

He has a replacement Rudy played by Joseph Gilgun who is as charismatic an actor as Robert Sheehy was. His is a very Freudian power as is Ego can split from his Id! Sometimes he and they are as one, other times his Id cuts loose to live a happy-free-loving, party-time existence. The ego meanwhile left at home to  sadly reflect his past misfortunes!

Again as with Alpha details of the Misfits are available on the E4 program page called Meet the Misfits. Though they have yet to update it with the new Misift.

Misfit Kelly Lauren Socha

Misfit Kelly

And for this series three they all back with new powers. Misfit Kelly Bailey (played by Lauren Socha) previously was able to read people’s thoughts – very much a curse as a blessing – do you want to know what someone might be thinking about you as you are talking to them?! Granted it will have some advantages – you would be a sizzling poker player, well at least until you got barred from every casino in the land, but quite an assault on ones delicate sense of self too I would think. Now she has the power of super-intelligence – she is a rocket-scientist! However though she can design elaborate plans for rocket ships her CV is of course absent the relevant educational and work experience for this particular field and thus none of her prospective employers take her seriously suspecting only that she must have stolen the plans she presents them!  She is then escorted from the room before exclaiming ‘I’m a fucking rocket scientist!’. This being a killing joke. I suspect it won’t be long – I am guessing episode 2! – before this particular power is traded in for something more useable.

The other female character is Alisha (played by Antonia Thomas) who previously had the power of sexual magnetism – very darkly as much a curse as a blessing. In this third series she now has the ability to see the world through another’s eyes – think the Bob Dylan song Positively Fourth Street and the lines “I wish that for just one time,You could stand inside my shoes, And just for that one moment I could be you” – yet another mixed-blessing power - I can think of many people who I might like to inhabit for a day or two but can think of many more who I would not want to occupy for even a second!

Misfits Curtis

Misfit Curtis

Fellow Misfit Curtis Donovan (played by Nathan Stewart-Jarret) has gone from time-bender to gender-bender. In the first series he could turn back time – which he usually did to save the butts of the collective Misfits – in this series he can shape-shift male to female – the tantalizing talent of transient transsexuality!

Final Misfit is Simon Bailey (played by Iwan Rheon) who is the default Misfit leader, even if this is not known to those he is leading – this because there are two of him – a Future version of himself physically and socially stronger than his current awkward self – who has knowledge of the Misfits as yet revealed purpose and destiny. He also had the power of invisibility – tsssk! what a traditional superpower! He being the only one of the Misfits who is content enough with his original powers not to one to  trade them in.

As noted unlike Alphas no agency whether government or private enterprise is aware let alone interested in making use of their collective powers. Neither are these misfits natural friends rather united in their common misfortune whereas otherwise would never be seen in each others company. This common misfortune as said being that they are all on community service. We might at least think with their new found powers that they might use it to break free from petty criminality but again by the end of the first episode of this new series they are re-arrested and back on probation!

It is clear that the first episode of the third series of Misfits is as much to establish the new Misfit Joe. What the rest of the series has in store for them I can but wonder but surely it must involve more than bumping of yet another of their probation officers, but maybe not.

Misfits is quite content for its Misfits to misstep from miserable mishap to miserable mishap. There is no grand goal in mind for these possessors of superpowers. Misfits has a dark humour, imaginative writing and continues to provide a platform for accomplished young British actors in the same way that Skins, Fresh Meat and The Inbetweeners do. I look forward the rest of this series irrespective of whether very much in particular gets resolved.

Alphas Anger Management

Rogue Alpha

The last episode I saw of Alphas was Anger Management which saw its team dealing with a rogue alpha who has the power to incite rage in those people who happen to be in his close proximity due to the huge release of pheromones – an unleashed rage so strong as to cause those afflicted to kill too. It so falls to the Alpha team to track down the culprit to prevent any more carnage and general human misery from occurring. In the process the alphas will get to know and understand each other a bit better and we the audience them.

And there lies the rub. I am not sure that I want to get to know the Alphas better whereas I am more than happy to spend time among the dystopias and dysfunction’s of the Misfits.

For science fiction shows like this to work we need to suspend not just our belief but our reason. Misfits accepts this and accepts that we the audience will do so too. Alphas though cannot accept this and the plots and characterizations sigh and sag as they strive to make us the audience take them seriously.

They should instead be getting on with telling their fantastical tales and letting the characters breathe and develop.

And this is what Misfits does so effortlessly, Alphas so ponderously.

The Fades – the deadly living and the living dead

The Fades - BBC 3 - Title LogoThe Fades is a new supernatural drama currently airing on BBC Three. The Fades is directed by Farren Blackburn – his CV includes Holby City and Footballers Wives neither of which will ready you for this. It does though include Survivors which may better prepare you its dystopian ground.

For all those with an atheistic disposition please now take a deep breath – the BBC Three webpage for the show describes its premise as ’17-year-old geek Paul can see the spirits of the dead. Now a vengeful spirit – or Fade – has broken through to our world and Paul’s friends and family are in the eye of the storm.’ – now breathe out.

Seventeen-year old Paul, played by Iain De Caestecker, has a younger sister Anna, played by Lily Loveless, and they are twins but in many ways not twins – he is wary of her and she is embarrassed of him. Paul you see is socially isolated and awkward she is a socially isolating and at ease – in short he is too school for cool, she is too cool for school.

The Fades - Mac and Paul on bicycles

Mac and Paul

They have a doting loving mother and a long-time absent father. Paul has a close friend Mac, played by Daniel Kaluuya. Paul’s sister has a close friend too, Jay, played by Sophie Wu, – and she is more keen to be with Paul than his sister is keen to be with him – will romance bloom between them?

But that is the side-story – the central story as you might expect are The Fades.

The leap of faith we are meant to make with The Fades is not that Paul can see dead people but that some of the spirits are no longer content with wandering aimlessly this bitter earth in concert with similarly desolate lost souls but are now seeking deathly vengeance on the whole human race.

Such programs are staples of the USA Telly Schedules -  Reaper’s central character Sam not only has his soul devil-owned but said devil is his father. You might think such circumstances would be kept quiet by Sam but a few of his closest friends have been let in on this diabolic secret and further greeted it with a shrug of the shoulders – and we has viewers are meant to do so too. And strangely after a few episodes we do, thinking nothing of the devil’s son working for the local branch of DIY chainstore ‘The Work Bench’ or that he is a nice guy with not horror and revulsion towards his father rather ambivalence and at most irritation at his satanic filial circumstance!

The Fades Paul and Jay

Paul and Jay

Alternatively there is Jennifer Love Hewitt as Melinda Gordon, Antique Store Owner and part-time Ghost Whisperer – she also sees Dead People. And as with Reaper her closest bosom-buddy, husband fireman Jim, is quite untroubled by this.

Or boarding school drama Hex where teachers and pupils alike are as likely to inhabit the ancient halls of its Medenham Estate as the nether worlds of hell.

Let alone the currently favoured and fashionable Vampire genre – where we the viewers are expected a unison shrug of our existential shoulders that quite a greater number of our friends and acquaintances than we might think are centuries not decades old, hell-born and/or hell-bound, blood-lusting carnal creatures.

Because we are meant to accept that there is no need to suspend our disbelief, as this genre is not science fiction rather every-day tales of our supernatural existence.

The Fades Johnny Harris

Lead Fade Hunter

But all of this matters not if the story is well-written, plotted and acted – is The Fades worth sixty minutes a week of our (in)finite time?

The Fades are certainly frightening looking – up there with the Doctor Who Sea Monsters from the 1970′s and The Peg Dolls from this year’s Night Terrors episode – and the nether-world which the victims of The Fades inhabit is also convincingly horrific and desolate. The bleak environments of the human world preferable to the waking nightmare Fades world, being covered in what looks like the dust generated by the collapsing Twin Towers of 9/11 and the horrific realization of what that dust contains.

The Fades perhaps is suggesting a metaphor for an existence where too many of us are content to fade into each other? Fade into the background, moving wallpaper – I half-expected Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You to appear on the soundtrack at intermittent points. And that such spirits can only be defeated by all of us reclaiming and proclaiming loudly our individuality?

But I am not sure that these Fades are meant to be metaphorical. I have watched the opening episode and there are five more episodes in this first series to be aired and for me to establish the real (super)nature and intent of The Fades.

And hoping that while doing so it does not fade into the television schedule twilight.

Suranne Jones – The Doctor’s Wife

Suranne Jones

Suranne Jones

The latest episode of Doctor Who finds him betrothed?

What an episode it is and what a performance by Suranne Jones – such a pity it had to be a terminal one.

The Doctor’s Wife was written by English author Neil Gaiman of Coraline and The Sandman fame among many others. And the script was as mind-bending as the scientific conundrums that littered it. The time-shifting in this latest series would leave even Quentin Tarantino breathless.

Michael Sheen is the voice of The House. (Though not his first such voice – he was the White Rabbit’s voice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland). But what a CV he now has – previously, to sample but a few, Brian Clough, Tony Blair and Kenneth Williams – and now the Voice of the House – can he possibly top this?!

Mona Lisa Revenged

And the Doctor sheds a tear – I won’t plot-spoil if you have not yet seen it – and if not then you should watch for free on the BBC iPlayer in High Definition while you still can.

Suranne Jones’ performance as Idris the Doctor’s Wife (or Soul Mate? Same thing – or should be!) was delivered with relish – much verbal gymnastics and memorable lines – though the line about the Fish Fingers is in the same category as a previous episode in this series Knock Knock Who’s There one!

As herself

Not her first foray into the Doctor Who universe though – you may remember her as the Mona Lisa in the Sarah Jane Adventure ‘Mona Lisa’s Revenge’?

More known though for charismatic cops such as DC Laurie Franklin in the BBC’s Five Days and another DC, Rachel Bailey, in the recently commenced ITV series ‘Scott and Bailey’, where Scott is played by Lesley Sharp – which sounds in the spirit of Murder In Suburbia - and I digress!

Here she gets to play the TARDIS – sorry could not avoid that spoiler! – where her multi-dimensional space-time-mind confounds not just we the viewers but the Doctor himself.

As noted such a pity it was to be a terminal appearance – okay I can see I plot-spoiled from the very beginning of this post! – but she arrived and exited with a bang.

But does this mean the Doctor is left without a TARDIS? That is one plot-line at least I won’t spoil for you!

The Curse of the Black Spot – Lily Cole’s Siren Call

Sea Siren

Did you recognize this Sea Siren in the BBC Doctor Who episode The Curse of the Black Spot?

It was Lily Cole and has she ever been made up like this before? She’s a fashion model so perhaps at a Vivienne Westwood show! From Couturier to Costumier she wore it well.

Though – spoiler alert and look away now if you have not yet seen this episode! – it transpires that she is no Sea Siren rather the ships onboard holographic-medic gone awry protecting her crew and captives against injury and disease.

The pirates led by the currently ubiquitous Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Twenty Twelve) as Captain Avery referred to her as Cursed with the Doctor decrying this as how we describe anyone or thing that is beyond our understanding – to scientific enquiry we must look not defeatist superstitions. Stirring stuff for Saturday tea-time viewing.

Lily in her day-job

Lily Cole’s performance was wordless if not soundless – she had to wail and screech but otherwise look spectral and mysterious, which she carried off, her being a model and all!

Not that it should be said that the Doctor Who script-writers did not want to put words in to a model’s mouth.

Doctor Who assistant Amy Pond is played by Karen Gillan who was briefly a model appearing in shows for Allegra Hicks and Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts’ Dainty Doll Make Up range.

And like Lily Cole a red-head too – perhaps she put in a word for her!

Doctor Who – Twelfth Doctor – Femme Fatale?

The 32nd run of Doctor Who began April 23rd with the 771st episode (count them!) The Impossible Astronaut followed by this Day of The Moon episode.  And it was as riveting as most recent series have been with Matt Smith at the helm and Karen Gillan his charismatic companion. This episode was also a fitting and touching memorial to Elisabeth Sladen who died April 19th and who was former Doctor companion Sarah Jane Smith and then latterly star of the spin-off Sarah Jane Adventures.

The Eleventh Doctor

Doctor Who like much of the superhero genre appeals to young and old alike.  For the young there are the special powers and effects, monsters and other villains, costumes and other fantastical elements.  My three nieces love the new Andrew Davies and Julie Gardner rejuvenation of it, Eccleston, Tennant and now Smith, as much as I did when I was their age in the early 1970′s with Pertwee and Baker at the helm.  And for the old there are the angsty existential themes of mortality and immortality, love and hate, peace and war of which to grapple with. Though in truth if we are young at heart we enjoy as much the special effects and monsters as these weightier themes!

Doctor Who is a bleak story and character.  He is timeless yet all his friends exist in time – they all die, he lives on, ultimately alone. Quite a secular tale too – aliens are eminently plausible but heavenly beings are mere poppycock. Matt Smith captures this existential situation very well.

Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor. The Doctor is a space-time traveller. Virginia Woolf’s Orlando did the same upon its Big Bang nearly a century ago in 1928. Orlando went one better than the Doctor though – the Doctor has not yet transformed his male physical anatomy into female form, Orlando did.

The Twelfth Doctor?

I had hoped that the Eleventh Doctor could have made this gender transformation.

Billie Piper would have been a candidate but alas has companion Rose to the Tenth Doctor David Tennant this would be a violation of a televisual scripture if not a temporal rule!

But come on – we Brits belatedly had a female Prime Minister yet still no female Doctor!

For the Twelfth Doctor I am hopeful.  Keeley Hawes would make a fabulous timelord. Sarah Parish I could also see the part as a brooding soul lost in time-space. Michelle Ryan had a super-hero role cut short as The Bionic Woman so perhaps the Doctor role would be a perfect reprieve for her. Though I now recall her as The Lady Christina de Souza in the ‘Planet of the Dead’ episode.  But cast aside the televisual scripture! – actors can be recast anew a thousand times at the hands of the casters and broadcasters!

Time for the Doctor to get in touch with his feminine side.