Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Sinkable errors

Readers of this blog will remember that I'm not a huge fan of Amazon's Imdb – the definitive database of screen entertainment, and one of the things about it that annoys me is the "Goofs" section that accompanies most titles.

This is where those sad individuals get to write their reports after they've peered at their screens watching and noting down anything they claim is wrong. "Sod the story – let's find fault and make ourselves feel in control!"

They find continuity errors, revealed crew and/or equipment in the form of shadows and reflections (and sometimes right there in shot!), factual errors and anachronisms. I've spotted a few over the years, but I try not to let them spoil my enjoyment of the drama.

Errors during filming are not the responsibility of the writer, but the facts of the stories are (fantasy and science fiction aside).

Which leads me to explain why this blog entry is late: it's because at UCF we have been sweating over a module specifically about research – about the market, the audience we're aiming for, and the accuracy of the subject matter we are writing about.

Cameron came unstuck with one such example in Titanic where he has Rose talking about Freud's theory on male preoccupation with size, when in reality Freud didn't write about this until 8 years later.

Now, that sort of "goof" is typically spotted by someone who really needs to get out more, but at least here, in Cornwall, we are learning how to avoid writing such errors into our novels and screenplays and keeping such individuals out of the sunlight.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Some stuff comes back

Despite dramas such as Heartbeat, The Royal and The Bill getting wiped off our screens due to some indiscriminate whim of an ITV executive (both of whom have, by this time, gone on their merry ways), the power of the audience is being felt almost as if they were calling "it's behind you!" I am talking about the welcome return of Foyle's War, which began on ITV, Sunday 11th April.

Axed in 2007, the show has been given a new lease of life following the weight of public demand. I remember watching an interview with its creator, Anthony Horowitz, when it first aired and he said that each series would deal with the events of a particular war year – chronologically, of course.

But then ITV's then director of television decided that he wanted to attract an upmarket younger audience Рas if he would know what people want to watch. I mean, let's face it: such arrogance is usually some misguided and desperate attempt to pull in more advertising revenue by attracting... more upmarket viewers? Amongst the younger audience? I'll stop there before I commit the cardinal sin of generalisation and falling into clich̩ country Рa bit like the former ITV director of television did.

In its normal run, as originally outlined, Foyle's War got to 1943... and then, after being dumped, jumped to 1945 for a one-off 2-hour special just to cap it all off and make way for the wealthy youth. I don't think.

I realise that Anthony Horowitz will, at the very least, have storylined the programmes that were never made, and I sympathise with him. The new series takes over after VE-day in 1945, which is better than nothing, and I'm wondering if they'll consider a series that backtracks to those missing years.

Let's hope so.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Yippee for The Book Show

Image property of SkyArts, thank you.
As I've previously mentioned, The Book Show, which is shown on the SkyArts 1 channel, has certainly sold a number of books to this household. And whilst this blog is primarily about screenwriting and associated trivia, naturally I read books for entertainment, escapism and as a source of inspiration, so this programme is a damned useful resource.

Every week 3 authors are interviewed by presenter, Mariella Frostrup, who tirelessly gets them to reveal why and how they put pen to paper (yes, some writers still do that) – or however – and makes the meeting seem so natural it's as if we are listening in on a friendly chat. It is hard to imagine she has the time to read every book, but that's the impression she gives. Ms Frostrup is an excellent presenter.

Other weekly features include an interview with an independent bookshop, a look at the writing environments of some authors, and guest celebrities tell us what books they are reading from their bedside table.

Aimed at readers, believe me when I say that all writers of fiction should watch this programme.

The Book Show is currently broadcast on Thursdays at 7pm on Sky channel 256 and Virgin channel 284. It is repeated, just in case you miss it.

Some people tell me that their existing Sky package doesn't include SkyArts 1, which is a shame because, particularly for writers, this is a must-have channel. Now, it's not for me to flog stuff for something as massive as Sky, but they say you can add the Sky Style and Culture Pack for just an extra £1 per month by going here, so it should be worth looking at this.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Not Creeking

I'm talking about the new episode of Jonathan Creek, "The Judas Tree", that was aired on Easter Sunday. Written by the series' creator, David Renwick, this places our hero, played by Alan Davies, in the same sort of scenario as he tended to find himself when the series first began in 1997. This is a good thing. Let me explain.

Just in case you're not familiar with the series' premise, Creek is a bit of an eccentric who devises magical acts for a professional stage magician and uses his analytical mind and technical skills to solve seemingly-impossible crimes. However, in the 13 years that he's been doing this, he doesn't seem to have got any older, he wears the same duffle coat, he speaks the same way, and his luck with the opposite sex is still as frustrating to me as it must be to him.

His assistants might have changed – but only because he has outgrown them. Good for him. Even the theme music and opening titles are like familiar friends drawing you into the show, which brings me to the point: the show returned in 2009 for a one-off, "The Grinning Man", after 5 years and yet it was as if it had never been off the air, so smooth was the continuity. It was like seeing old friends once more.

However, some other programmes have blatantly disregarded the need for such conventions as familiar theme music and title sequences that helped establish them in the first place, namely Sharpe and Agatha Christie: Poirot.

Yes, Jonathan Creek is an old friend and, so long as he's there and recognisable, there's hope for the world of television.