Alan Moore‘s description of the Flash has always stuck with me, capturing both the speed at which the character lived as well as the loneliness that his powers burdened him with.
The current television show approaches those notions very differently and I really enjoy what the writers are doing.
It’s not my typical small screen fare — it’s got men with six-pack abs and women with stick figures — but it has an infectious charm and a lightness of touch that makes me look forward to each episode. I can obviously suspend disbelief with the whole fastest-man-alive, sharing the screen with super-heroes and -villains aplenty, in a world where everyone is under thirty (unless they’re a victim) and the maximum permissible body size for women is 8.
But my suspension goes only so far when:
See all those moments of time when he’s gawping when he could be rescuing? Really? Aren’t you the fastest goddamned man alive?
Saw Man of Steel with The Boy a couple of months back. Besides the decidedly age-based concern about the amount of (inevitable) real estate damage in the final showdown, I couldn’t help thinking about the little people. (I wasn’t alone either.) As buildings were pulped and dust billowed every-which-post-9/11-way, I kept flashing on this film:
By chance, the aiga had watched Chronicle the week before – and during that film’s climactic showdown I was flashing on this:
Yes, Alan Moore‘s Miracleman. I doubt we’ll see any film or television adaptation of this revisionist beast (a protracted rights wrangle is approaching its twentieth anniversary) but Chronicle‘s tale of three friends who gain superpowers and whose good intentions go wrong not just for them but for the puny humans around them, is a nice and engaging substitute.
With the silly season upon us, the incidence of social functions increases astronomically and I find myself looking for new excuses not to go. End-of-year do’s are rife with traps like people you swore you’d run through with any handy pointed instrument the next time you saw them, or small talk that turns to the inevitable question of what one does for a living. The former situation, I can deal with; the latter situation, however, is a challenge:
If I’m keeping a low profile, I tell them my day job which guarantees a very quick change of topic to current affairs or sport.
If I’m feeling full of myself assertive, I’m a screenwriter. Which leads immediately to Have I seen your work? and It must be so exciting!, and then sooner or later, the dread Why do you write?
If I had Mr Molloy‘s foresight, I’d merely refer them to a blog like his. But Indelible Freckles isn’t about disclosure – it’s about being confident and self-deprecating, witty and wise, and compulsively employable. Being the professional that I am, my posts are not written with the aid of alcohol or similar chemical stimulants… and year-end functions are thankfully lubricated with said stimulant/s, and my answers to those dread questions depend on my level of inebriation:
to meet girls – no longer applicable, of course, as I have my own Goddess;
to be rich and famous – a cute and very naive reason that, after seven years of hard graft, borders on humiliatingly embarrassing;
to make a decent living – like, Hello? – as a screenwriter? puh-lease.
The more painful and unflinchingly honest answers are likely come as dawn approaches and the alcoholic buzz has given way to proxy Irish philosophising, or, in the words of Alan Moore, [I] am reduced to a blubbering wreck that just slumps in the armchair and whimpers about it has no talent whatsoever and will never write again.
And as a new day rises, and birdsong envelopes me… and The Dog whines at the door to be let in, and The Chickens squawk and complain to be let out of their coop… I can’t wait. I’m excited. I can see the finished product already —
— the only obstacle between me and a finished film/television/theatre project is me —
Six years I’ve waded faithfully – or is it blindly? – through The Shield‘s rising turpitude, its serpentine storylining brushing unseen against my immersed body, the show’s writing satisfying the need to resolve each ep’s crime-of-the-week while each season’scaperescapade escalating crisis builds towards a season ending that’s as welcome – and inevitable – as dementia. Lately I’ve been flashing on Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman‘s comics runs in the eighties and nineties – each and every ep, I’m led down back-of-my-hand familiar back- and dead-end-alleys, and each time I reach the end, whatever I find is a). not what I expect and b). the most obvious or logical thing in the world.
My TradeMe connections brought me right up to Season 6. The final season (Season 7) is half-way through its run in the States as I type this. And thanks to my leetle frien’, I’m just a few days behind them.
It’s all building towards a James Ellroy ending. And just like in Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet, the following thoughts are uppermost in my mind with this final season:
no good turn goes unpunished;
the rule of unintended consequences applies supreme;
things, no matter the best of intentions, will not – can not – end well.
So often in film and television these days, I recognise the portents and the foreshadowing, and can comfort myself that, even if/when things go bad, I was braced for it. But now, despite six seasons of faithful viewing, and with only seven eps to go, my sleeps in between are fitful with drowning dreams…. I can’t contemplate the show ending. It has to, I know that. I accept it. It’s the how that scares the bejesus out of me.
Jed Mercurio, creator of the excellent, visceral, Bodies, wrote this about adapting novels for the screen. What I found most interesting was –
Cynics argue that drama adaptations for television demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm for original material or, worse, a lack of quality in original scripts. I disagree with both propositions. Commissioners crave original drama, and many (if not most) writers prefer to create their own material, and most (if not all) of them feel more attached to their original script than an adaptation. But marketing original drama isn’t easy. … The audience doesn’t know the story or the characters. That’s hard to explain in a trailer or a billboard poster.
As an audience member, I must confess to a double standard: I want more of the same – but different.
I work hard at trying something completely new though. How else could I have found and sworn by Bodies or The Wire – or even Green Wing or The Insiders Guides to Love and Happiness?
What I admire most about these series is the sheer depth, and complexity of story and character that’s packed into each forty-five minute episode. It didn’t matter if it was a procedural or soap. The writing, directing and acting is so good that the underlying structure is barely noticed.
Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman are my poster boys for giving more of the same… but different. They showed that even the tired superhero, horror and fantasy genres of comicdom – and their audiences – could be treated just as seriously as any other form of ‘real’ literature – with maturity and intelligence.
I returned to comic-reading in the last few years – one could hazard that it was a precursor to my true return to reading. And upon my return I’ve found the pleasures of Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson‘s blistering Transmetropolitan, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon‘s heart- and gut-wrenching Preacher, and David Lapham‘s mindblowing Stray Bullets. These – and more – are just proof-positive that, just as the good doctor purred,