I realise I’m not writing much about TV here any more, it’s not that I’ve stopped watching it (although I don’t watch that much), it’s just that I enjoy what I watch normally and that’s that, but the things I really love, those are normally things that teach me a thing or two about writing at the same time. Take tonight’s Spooks episode;
- there’s layers of sub text as one of the character’s dishonesty reflects on the dishonesty that only we the viewer knows about,
- there’s the thing with the story being told from three character’s viewpoints and you can see that simple innocuous scenes like one character ringing another to check whether she’s all right means a lot more and acts a place mark when you later see her side of the story,
- there’s the ‘Britishness’ of it, as one character persuades another character to hand over the weapon they were about to commit mass genocide with, without directly acknowledging what they were doing, even though we knew both characters understood and then the victor treats the other to dinner, Jack Bauer would have killed ten people just to get to that point
- and then there’s the thing that Spooks does best, it has worked right from its earliest episodes to make sure that we the viewers know that no character, no matter how major could die and without any obvious signposting and lead up either, so that when Harry walked out of the door in the sights of the assassins gun, there was real tension, we the viewers had absolutely no idea whether the writers had just decided to bump Harry off there and then, just because the writers’ had done it before, I would love to be able to create that amount of tension in my writing.
(I was going to write about NaNoWriMo but I’ve written enough words in connection with that today and I’m still behind).
After watching the latest Bond recently, which I still maintain was pretty good, it’s made me appreciate the other current Brit spy product Spooks even more. Having worked in another frequently dramatised TV setting I do realise that whereas there is just a team of a few in Spooks doing everything in reality there would be hundreds doing the same job, however I still do like Spooks touch of realism, specially considering the background story of the financial crisis appearing in the current series is spookily accurate considering they must have filmed this months ago. And although I have to admit as a Londoner I’m a sucker for anything filmed in London, I like seeing my TV characters walking down streets I know well but Spooks does I maintain feel a touch more real. I like to imagine there are secret shadowy meetings on the banks of the Thames or moments of high tension as I walk through oblivious (and I’d be thankful for that) a train station or that the Brits, Russians and Americans do spend most of their time bitching at each other! So I’m still loving this series even though you know who has gone.
Warning very big spoilers for Spooks.
Big Spoilers, I did warn you . . .
Argh Adam’s dead! Sob, sob, sob. I did realise that this new series was his last but to kill him off straight away, well not literally straight away, they did give him one last chance to be incredibly noble, saving a group of women and children from a massive car bomb by driving the bomb laden car away and getting out of the car just a little to late.
This series is promising to look just as good as the last and at least Hermione Norris is back as the chilling kick ass Ros, if Ros and James Bond where ever to find themselves on opposing sides I’d know who’d I’d be placing my money on and it isn’t Bond! And how they resolved last season’s ending, oooh, now I was convinced she was dead.
Ooh and the Russians are the baddies this time, well it can’t be the Americans all the time (Any cousins across the pond reading this, how many times is a British character cast as the bad guy in a Hollywood movie?)
Ooh and as for E4′s Dead Set, now I wasn’t sure whether I’d like this, I’m not a Big Brother fan but it’s not really about that, it’s just a really interesting scenario to set a zombie mini series in, in true classic British 28 Days Later style. It’s eviction night but zombies have gate crashed the leaving party, brilliant ‘behind the scenes’ stuff with an obnoxious producer and coffee running lackeys plus some really dense housemates. Davina gets top marks for most ‘stylishly’ shot death. Very good stuff and I don’t normally do horror but there’s something about British horror that gives me just the right level of hide behind the cushion thrills!
You can presumably catch up with Spooks and Dead Set on their respective channels (BBC and E4) websites.
Just how outstandingly good (again) was tonight’s Spooks. I felt like I was watching a film with only the slightly dodgy external airplane graphics giving away it’s TV show status. It was a complete roller coaster, hold your breath, grip tightly onto the edge of the sofa hour which honestly felt like two hours not one. If I can write stuff half as gripping as that I’d be an extremely happy girl and if I ever got my dream job as a writer for Kudos, you’d have to scrape me off the ceiling.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts I am quite behind on my NaNoWriMo project after not doing enough writing last Friday and no writing on Saturday, I have been battling to catch up and despite loosing at one point 800 words thanks to my computer crashing, I’m nearly back on track and I could have done it yesterday as I had quite a lot of free time, as well as my normal two hours of writing that I’ve been doing in the afternoon, I also had most of the evening free (except for watching the divine Spooks which honestly gives lessons in it self, even though it’s ‘only’ a TV show on the art of plotting, with the amount of divinely plotted twists and turns even though it is beginning to look like the Americans are behind everything). However (back to my NaNoWriMo project) I found that the writing that I had done in the afternoon had just exhausted me, physically and emotionally, so when I had more free time in the evening I just couldn’t write anymore. The story I’m working on is not a happy story, my characters are in a trapped, claustrophobic situation where they are essentially powerless because there is nowhere to escape to and I never realised before how writing something that intense can take it out of you, when I finished writing that afternoon I felt literally shaky, my four year was literally bouncing off the walls and I had to escape into the kitchen and load the dishwasher, never has loading the dishwasher been a form of relief before!
So, what did I do in my free time that evening? Well, I’ve been doing Susan Hill’s Creative Writing Course and one of her latest posts has recommended the Paris Review Interviews, vol. 1 and 2.
Now I thought ‘that’s not my usual reading material’ and to be honest the cultural philistine that I am, the sort of person who tends to only read the nice bright pretty stuff at the front of Waterstones, I haven’t heard or only vaguely heard of half of the authors featured and I’ve only read one of them, Graham Greene and that was on Susan Hill’s recommendation to (see here for my opinions) but so far Hill’s recommendations have been spot on, so I went ahead and purchased and started on volume 1 last night. I’ll write a proper post when I’ve read them but so far I am absolutely in love with these books and I never thought I’d say that, the interviews are works of literature in themselves and you get more of an impression of ‘character’ (which we’ve been studying on Hill’s course) than from a lot of other books (I’m currently also reading Zadie Smith’s The Book of Other People, a collection of short stories about character and so far I’m learning a lot more about character (those of the authors) from the Paris Interviews than from The Book of Other People). In respect to my current issues with my NaNoWriMo project, that I’m finding it too emotionally intense, Truman Capote, one of the authors featured in The Paris Interviews had some interesting words which I’m not sure I agree with, he believed that you should ‘exhaust the emotion’ from the story before writing it, that way the writing is more ‘controlled’, to me that sounds cold but maybe there’s something in it. I haven’t read any of his work but plan to (that’s the other great thing about the Paris Interviews, its suggesting so many new authors to try!).
Watched the wonderful Spooks tonight and it’s so good to have it back! I think we’re going to be in for a rollercoaster of a series with the continuing storyline. Considering Spooks past history I was expecting half the cast to bite the bullet, or the grenade or the . . . well you get it (I couldn’t throw a deep fat frier in there to) and that’s one of the things that makes Spooks so exciting, you know the no one, not even the divinely gorgeous Adam, are bullet proof. Definitely up there with 24!