Sunday, 28 July 2013

On Spoilers


Do not read further if you don't like to know about things that you haven't read or watched. Plot twists are spoken of, events are revealed, deaths are divulged.

A year or two ago, just before the first Game of Thrones TV programme came out, I was lambasted on an online forum - that bastion of civility and restraint - for spoiling; that is, giving away as yet unbroadcast - or at least unseen by some people - plot. Bear in mind I hadn't even seen the show yet myself, nor had I read any reviews, sneak peaks or indeed any spoilers. So what could I have said that so upset the pseudonymous forumite so?

"Sean Bean's character dies."

(or words to that effect)

You know what I based that statement on? The fact that Sean Bean was in the show and the show wasn't called Sharpe's Dragons. As we all know, Mr Bean (not that Mr Bean), has a habit of playing characters that peg it before the credits roll. And we love him for it.

"All you've got to do is stand, and fire three rounds a minute. Now, you and I know you can fire three rounds a minute. But can you stand?"
Anyway, even though it was meant as a knowing joke about the pigeon-holing of a certain actor, it didn't go down well with at least one person on the forum, and I was duly upbraided for spoiling the forthcoming Game of Thrones TV series for him. Fair enough, you might say, my words were ill-chosen.

But wait a minute, isn't Game of Thrones the TV series based on A Song of Fire and Ice, the best selling book series? And wasn't the first volume, A Game of Thrones, first published waaaay back in 1996, some 15 - count 'em - 15 years prior to the telly series going out? Wasn't it reasonable to assume that the events of this first book at least might well be fair game by now? Especially on a geektabulous forum like this one (frequented by gamers).

So here's the thing - can you spoil something that's already been out in the public domain for 15 years? What about if something's been out in book form for 15 years and we've (I say we, y'know, geeks) been happily discussing it for ages when all of a sudden a TV adaptation comes around, opening it up to a wider audience? Do we then shut up as the work is now available to a whole new demographic (who presumably have not visited the fantasy section of Waterstones or other leading book sellers for a decade and a half)? Is there not a statute of limitations on spoilers?

Then what if they suddenly announce, I dunno, a TV series based on Iain M Banks' Culture books? Apart from that being an awesome idea, do I have to suddenly refrain from discussing the books, in case somebody who A) wants to watch the series but B) hasn't read the books, is listening?

What about the forthcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, featuring love interest Gwen Stacy? Am I supposed to not say that in the comics Gwen died in 1973? 

The inherent dangers of sudden weblash
Should I pause and consider, before mentioning any work of literature (and yes I bloomin' well am including books and sci-fi, thankyouverymuch) that may be adapted to a visual medium at some point in the future, if anyone present considers themselves to be a member of the set of elements A intersection B (see above)?

Or should I just, like, never talk about anything that might be on TV or film that may have been based on something else? Coz, I'm telling you, if you take comics and sci-fi and TV and films away from me, I'm pretty much a conversational vacuum.

By the way, Vader is Luke's dad, Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze, Bruce Willis' character is a ghost, that's Gwyneth Paltrow's head in the box, and Zakalwe was actually Elethiomel all along. Ha! 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Cycling across the Sahara with the Stereophonics

There are times, just every now and again you understand, when it seems that the majority of posts on one's social network stream are all either overwhelmingly 'gee whiz I'm having a great time' or else 'boo hoo give me a virtual hug'.

The Ocelot, being a sensitive, empathic creature, sometimes finds it hard to keep this accumulated e-motion (see what we did there) - both positive and negative - at arm's length, and must frequently be wrestled quickly away from the keyboard before an insensitive and uncharitable reply erupts forth.

This is in no way the fault of the Facebook posters. It is of course absolutely lovely that they are having a good time and only natural that they would want to share their happy thoughts with all their friends. Likewise, someone who is poorly or down in the dumps would of course want to reach out to their chumly network for support. This is all very human and a major element of the daily Facebook phenomenon.


Some of us are a bit insecure and jealous of you and the great time you're having. Or else we can't afford the great holiday you've been on or the great house you've bought. Or we maybe can't have a baby and are having a really hard time dealing with all the pictures of bouncing bonny sproglings you're posting up every other frigging day so that we can't escape being reminded of our own perceived inadequacy.

In the old days, we could avoid this sort of thing if we really wanted, restricting all such social scorecarding to phone calls from family and sporadic get-togethers with old friends. But social networks can be like plugging in to an endless school reunion that we can never leave, where everyone else is happier, healthier, wealthier and babier than we are. And that can hurt.

Not that we can tell anyone. We can't possibly say that we don't want to see pictures of little Pugsley's first day of big school or hear about an incredible weekend cycling across the Sahara with the Stereophonics for charity (which was nice). Because that would be petty and horrible and small-minded. So instead we scroll down past all that stuff as quickly as possible, being unable even to muster up an insincere Like.

What Facebook needs is an alternative to the Like button, something along the lines of an 'I hate you, you rich/popular/fertile bastitch' button. But such a button does not exist. Nor, the Ocelot would admit in a more rational frame of mind, should it, of course.

Still and all. Sometimes it hurts, y'know? Just sometimes. When it seems like everyone we know is having a better time than us. And ironically, due to the selfish and uncool nature of the pain felt, it would be quite unacceptable to post the expression of hurt up on the one place where it appears to be socially acceptable to express our every innermost hang-up.

What is needed is the virtual equivalent of a soundproofed cell or big empty barn or lonely wood in which to have a quick selfish scream, get it out of our system, and then move on. A sort of Facebook for everyone BUT friends and family.

Therefore we give unto you, for a limited time only, the following cathartic explosion of knee-jerk, totally self-absorbed comments the Ocelot would like to make on many Facebook posts, but really, really can't and indeed shouldn't.

I don't care about your brilliant holiday/party/convention that you just came back from. Why didn't you invite me? I'd have loved to go. Unless it involved a flight or weird food. Or expensive costume.

I don't care about your incredible new house/job/child/bathroom extension. I have none of these things and now feel sad/poor/lonely/insufficiently plumbed.

I don't care that you're incredibly depressed. Sharing your sadness just bums me out. Suffer in silence like me. Apart from this bit obviously.

Maybe we could have one day a month where we're only allowed to post up funny videos of pets dancing, just to give the socially insecure a break.

Fun and yuks will resume in due course.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Theta Sigma

From the BBC publicity release:

“Follow the adventures of young Gallifreyans learning to ‘master’ both their own incredible abilities and subjects like The History Of Everything and Basic Dematerialisation, whilst struggling with the responsibilities of being young and very old at the same time.

Follow the time-hopping adventures of students and friends like nervous Koschei, swottish Ushas, fun-loving Mortimus and of course bad boy Theta Sigma, as well as their teachers like grumpy old Professor Morbius and exchange student ‘Sally’ from the Draconian Empire.

Pilot episode: ‘The Boy Who’

In the vein of Endeavour, Smallville and (Rassilon help us) Rock & Chips, Theta Sigma is a pitch for a dreadfully predictable teatime Dr Who prequel series, set in the Time Lord Academy on Gallifrey. In fact, given that it will joyfully rewrite existing Who mythology, I would go so far as to give it the newly-coined term ‘preboot’.

Basically Harry Potter with TARDISes instead of broomsticks and sonic screwdrivers instead of wands. Or The New Mutants with Shobogans. Or Primeval with marginally less dinosaurs and running around empty streets.

One of the teachers will almost certainly be played by Anthony Stewart Head or Alexander Siddig.