What Folks Did When There Was No Internets

As St Peter said to the Corinthians, “This is going to be a long one.”


So I’ve been without internet for a week.

This is as good an excuse as any for not having posted in a little while.  You’d think that the notion of losing touch with the world would be a shocking and, indeed, an irrecoverable loss of sanity.  However there are times where I welcome the enforced break.  E-mail can be checked at work after all, but the time gained allows me to turn my attention elsewhere, such as DVD’s and books.  And for the discovery of the following materials, I should be very grateful for the rain that washed away my broadband.

Captain Allistriste:  Set in Spain during the rule of King Phillip the Fourth, we follow the recounted exploits of “Captain” Diego Allistriste through his young ward and protégé.  The story of a discharged soldier whose sword skills are put to effective use in the cause of his friends, as well as the shadowy echelons of Spanish nobility and the Inquisition.  The Captain is hired to dispatch two travellers from England for a princely sum but finds that his honour comes at a higher price than his employers or even he would suspect.

First in a series of books, the story does an effective job in establishing the character of Diego Allistriste and the period of his life.  As with any tale told via the narrative character, Allistriste remains an enigmatic figure, who can be praised without appearing conceited.  The story itself is one that does not specifically end as the storyteller continually references affairs and characters further into his and Allistriste’s future, so much so that I almost wished I was reading those tales than this “pilot” of a book.  Which isn’t to denigrate the story but it’s clear that this book is designed to do that which a TV pilot does:  Establish the genre, setting and formula of the stories to follow.  At any rate, its certainly one that I’ll pursue as I find myself enthralled with the same childlike excitement as reading Biggles when I was younger.  In fact, now that I consider the comparison, the stories of Allistriste may be better served in some kind of anthology format.

Moving on to TV…

I’ve had this series for a couple of months and anyone online who had watched it was screaming for others to do the same cause… “Damn!”.  So I must have been distracted something terrible to have ignored Jekyll for so long.  Written by Stephen Moffat, author of four of the best Doctor Who episodes in the new series, including Blink, which I consider the best of any Doctor Who episode in the past 10 regenerations, Jekyll plays with the mythos of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, but it is designed to be an expansion, extrapolation or sequel to The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  Set in contemporary times, Doctor Tom Jackman shares his time and body with a dark and sinister character.  While each are aware of the other, the day to day business of Jackman and his counterpart are unknown and so each personality maintains contact only by the recorded messages of a dictaphone and the ramifications of the previous night’s activities.  This anonymity is something Jackman wishes to sustain for as long as possible as he lives in dread of the day that his other discovers that he has wife and two children.

The story lasts only six episodes but it is incredibly well timed and executed that each instalment is one fantastic series of twists and turns that never gets old.  Moffat’s script delivers wonderfully on character, humour and horror and lends credence to the belief that only comedy writers can write the truly terrible things that make viewers shiver with excitement and dread (See also Joss Whedon). 

James Nesbitt is AWESOME in both roles of “Jekyll” and Hyde and I haven’t been as enthralled with the character of Mr Hyde since Alan Moore’s interpretation in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  Though this incarnation of Hyde is far from the hulking monster that he and Kevin O’Neil designed, Nesbitt takes Moffat’s penchant for black humour and mixes a monster out of childlike energy, no small homage to the performances found in the Werewolf of London and the sheer irrational that anyone who relies on logic, even if a little bit, is powerless to counter.  This, by the way, is only the first episode!  Wait until you get into the remaining five.  Jekyll is beating Dexter by a nose as the best TV of 2008 and keeps you guessing to the last second of the last episode.

Of course the internet has been restored so expect the usual commentary on Pokemon and other meanderings.  Also, I’ve discovered that Iron Chef is on YouTube so there might be something about that in the future.

Watched another episode of Torchwood and I’m getting caught up with the remaining episodes.  The one I watched last night was Adam and I would venture to say that its one of the best episodes of the series I’ve seen yet.  Admittedly, with my vociferous denegration of season one makes this a minor feat but full credit where it is due, “Adam”, the fifth instalment of the second season, delivers on plot, antagonists and character in spectacular fashion.  A mysterious figure named Adam, who everyone remembers as being their friend and companion within Torchwood for the last three years arrives at a time when the characters’ memories are going awry.  There are some absolute killer performances from Jack, Yanto, Adam himself and especially Owen.  Adam’s abilities, while not fully explained, invite speculation into realm of Descarte, Dick* and Hawking as the team are confronted by an alien whose existence is reliant on people remembering him.  I wouldn’t have minded a little more explanation or direction into alien that, for all intents and purposes, appears to be made of information and follows Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, but it is made up by Owen who can only remember himself as the button-down passive-aggressive, confidence-lacking scientist who balks at anything less than professional behaviour in the workplace so long as its not his constant pining for Toshiko.  Also Yanto who slips out of his new confident and capable role and into that of a monster deserves every accolade he gets.

I should also mention that while Toshiko’s character, boosted by the confidence of a one year relationship with Adam, is played well she does start to suffer from the crazies.  Which works for the storyline and character but we just came off something similar around episode three.  Still, Toshiko does seem to be getting “Teh Sex” this season and that’s good for her, I guess.

Interesting moment trying to wrestle spell-check into accepting “Teh”.  And there it goes again.

Gwen and Reece seem unable to have a scene where they don’t look like they want to kill each other.  Granted it is bookended by some nice relationship moments and the calibre of acting is raised in both characters, but when those two fight, I keep expecting one of them to throw a punch, which does not, in my view, speak of a healthy relationship.

Martha Jones arrives next episode and I’m looking forward to seeing how she interacts with the Torchwood team and also interested in whether her character changes as drastically as Jack Harkness does between here and Doctor Who.

Given my usual nocturnal habits and work timetables, I sometimes forget how good it feels to get a decent night’s sleep.  Brain feels alive today.  This also may have something to do with the two coffees back to back because I didn’t want to offend my boss’s generosity.

And I’m growing old in less than week as well.


*Phillip K. Dick you ‘orrible little urchins.


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