Why the UK coverage of this election is like this Armando Ianucci sketch

In less than a fortnight we’ll find out who will be the next Prime Minister of the UK but if you watch this election through the prism of the mainly London-based media you’d think it’s a straight fight between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. To an extent it is as only those two can become Prime Minister but seeing people talk of Corbyn as the great hope for ending tuition fees or stop the bedroom tax is frankly a tad irrelevant here in Scotland as these don’t apply. Fees were scrapped a decade ago and the Scottish Government mitigates the bedroom tax.

Many of the things Labour want in the UK is already being done or are being worked towards. True there’s more to be done, and the stuff that’s still reserved to Westminster (which is still most things) will still hurt if the Tories get back in, but in Scotland (and indeed, in all the devolved nations) we’re still at the mercy of Westminster.

As much as I wish Corbyn well in England, I don’t feel he, or his party, will work for me or for Scotland as his support for leaving the EU isn’t what Scotland, or indeed Northern Ireland, voted for. So for most of this campaign as I view it on social media is a bit like this sketch from the wonderfully but underrated Armando Ianucci Shows from 2001…

The past joys of Cup Final Day

Today is cup final day in Scotland and England. These days it’s just a moderately sized game at the end of the season, but in times past when live football was as scarce as a Conservative politicians morals, cup final day was a day when as a boy you’d be glued to the television from early Saturday morning watching the build up. In the 80’s that meant David Coleman on the BBC…

Viewers in Scotland had their own programming which meant the parochial cheapness of BBC Scotland and STV, but live television gave us great moments like this fantastic Jock Wallace interview on STV.

Or Alex Ferguson having a pop at his Aberdeen team after winning the cup final in 1983.

How about Dickie Davies on ITV and his smooth lounge bar ethic?

Now, sadly, the game is another notch in TV companies schedules. Kick-off times are all over the place, fans are secondary to corporate fans and finals are dominated by the massive clubs like Chelsea or Celtic. Basically clubs used to finals and winning things. Shocks are a thing of rarity, but there’s the hope still at every single season that your team may well be standing there on the pitch at Hampden or Wembley holding the trophy.

So good luck to whatever team you support but I do miss the days when today was a day to savour rather than an afterthought.

Don’t Look Back In Anger

It’s been a crap week. My weekend has changed due to the horrors of Manchester meaning security checks at airports means there’s little or no chance of people flying on time or even flying. On top of that Glasgow City Council are being the biggest pricks on the planet and there’s ginger people walking the streets of Glasgow in 30 degree heat frying like a sausage.

But this wee video of the memorial for the dead of the Manchester bombing should empower anyone watching it, unless you’re a cynical far right arsehole doing exactly what the likes of ISIS want us to do which is to hate each other. Still, well done to Manchester. You’re setting a glorious example to us all.

A few brief words about the Manchester bombing

On Monday evening something horrendous happened to dozens of innocent people. The killer has been named and frankly, I’m not going to give him the air of publicity and will hope he rots in whatever hell his faith has for him. In this respect Charlie Brooker’s advice on spree shooters plays out the same here.

Neither am I going to give much time to the hate-filled supporters of ”final solutions” on either side as frankly, the only thing that separates a Hopkins from the people who radicalised the Manchester bomber is that one has a column in a national newspaper to radicalise people and the other uses other means. I’m also not going to say anything about the arseholes talking of ”false flags” or conspiracies where none exist in order to try to bend this to their own politics.

I will however say the reaction from the UK government is disturbing. Raising risk levels is fine, but placing troops on the streets to protect the people who failed to protect us in the first place. I’m scared of politicians and the wrong people, be they Islamic terrorists or Daily Mail columnists taking advantage of this to entrench themselves and draw to them followers who will perpetuate this. Raising the threat level seems fair, but Operation Temperer (the name for what’s going on as we speak) isn’t without precedent but we’ve seen how Labour under Tony Blair whittled away civil liberties and frankly, Theresa May has a poor record in that respect. One way to let terrorism win is let our governments use their attacks to take away, restrict or curtail our freedoms.

We should remember these people died not for terrorists and governments to use as they want. We should remember them for what was lost and the stories coming out of Monday’s atrocity are relentlessly tragic but that isn’t an excuse to militarise policing as frankly all this does is give terrorists an incentive to make the next atrocity bigger to garner a bigger, more disproportionate reaction and we end up repeating the cycle over and over while nothing actually gets solved.

So we’re in a bad time. People aren’t even in the grieving stage yet, and there’s people making political capital from this, but we need to step back, think, help who we can and make things better rather than dig in and make things worse.

What I thought of Twin Peaks episodes 1-4

Twin Peaks has returned to an utter lack of advance knowledge of what happens in it, and this frankly is the best way to approach this new series so massive great honking SPOILER WARNINGS from now on. Also, if you haven’t seen the TV series you’ll be totally lost here. If you’ve not seen Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me then go see that as this draws upon a lot of that film, including even the deleted scenes. Basically go consume everything Twin Peaks before seeing this. Also it may be an idea to watch Lynch’s films too, even Dune as there’s visual references to all of Lynch’s previous works going on here. So, if you’ve done that crack on…

First up anyone who comes to this expecting quirky humour and weird, but still funny, characters will suffer a serious shock as the first two hours especially owe less to what people mainly think Twin Peaks is (quirky, funny, charming, sometimes scary, weird) to David Lynch unleashing his full creative forces. There are moments in the first two episodes especially that are some of the best images Lynch has even put on screen but there’s a lot of times when you the viewer will be made uncomfortable, and this is a good thing.

Far too many programmes end up pandering to keep viewers happy. There’s nothing of what one would expect of a Twin Peaks revival til near the end of the second episode, and the fourth episode features the sort of scenes (Andy and Lucy provide much of the fun quirkiness here) you may expect. Mainly though you’ll be bombarded with confusing, disturbing and sometimes grotesque images that actually helps tell what is a complex story.

The jist of that story is that Good Agent Cooper has been trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years until Laura Palmer appears again to him as promised.

In the world outwith the Black Lodge, our world, the Bad Agent Cooper is doing bad things as this is Cooper’s doppelgänger inhabited by the evil Bob at the end of the TV series.

Evil Cooper involves Kyle MacLachlan wearing a dodgy wig while doing seriously vicious things to people, and here’s another thing (and I hate using the term ‘political correctness’) this is not a programme that restricts itself to current moralities. This is a programme where Evil Cooper is amoral and brutal, where middle aged men leer after younger women and where oddness abounds. It’s designed at times to challenge you and it will because we’re used to a level of sanitisation in our television but that’s not going in here and this is a good thing. We’re not seeing a toned down or restrained Twin Peaks here, we’re seeing something that will delight, astound, shock and scare you as much as the visuals and sound (I recommend watching this on earphones as the sound mix/design is amazing) is stunning.

The opening episodes deal with Good Cooper’s escape from the surreal world of the Black Lodge, Bad Cooper’s murderous plans, the slow introduction back into the community of Twin Peaks, and the FBI being involved which means a welcome return for some old faces. The plot hinges on Lynch’s fascination with duality and multiple personalities as well as the idea that evil can be a real force which in this case in Bad Cooper. I won’t bother explaining the rest of the plot beyond that as frankly, we’re only seeing part of it right now and the main jist is just what I’ve said. I won’t go into the nightmare monsters, or episode three’s brilliantly incomprehensible scenes, or the fact a plot point hinges on the words ”blue rose” which only makes sense if you’ve watched Fire Walk With Me, or the fun little cameos that pop up or even the fact there’s more Cooper doppelgängers than just Good and Bad Cooper.

What is brilliant is the pace in which Lynch and Mark Frost slowly unwind the threads of the plot and the pacing (unlike many programmes today) is at times, glacial but this isn’t something to forward through. This is about building up the creeping sense of unease in these scenes.

Twin Peaks is a welcome return. It gives Lynch a chance to create one huge story and hopefully resolve it in a way that suits him and Frost but it may not suit us which is fine by me. In an age where TV programmes are made to ensure fans are not frightened off, the new Twin Peaks isn’t scared to go onto ground that will scare people off but this is art mixed with horror mixed with so many genres that it can only be described as Lynchian and that’s a glorious thing…

The welcome return of Twin Peaks

Tonight in the US is the very welcome return of David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks. The last Twin Peaks was the horribly underrated, and undervalued Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992, so we’re now 25 years on with the programme returning on Showtime in the US for 18 episodes. That’s 18 hours of television directed by David Lynch.

This is something that’s being amazingly hyped but let’s not forget that from the moment the TV series revealed who killed Laura Palmer, the critical and audience reaction turned increasingly negative, even hostile as the series frankly fell up it’s own are for a chunk of the second year before David Lynch returned for the final episode which is still a unique piece of American television.

A lot of people say that Twin Peaks redefined where Lynch’s career went, and indeed, there’s a lot to that. as after Twin Peaks Lynch focused on the subject of duality in everything he did afterwards. Even The Straight Story has a Twin Peaks feel as it deals with small town lives in a naturalistic, but detached way and here we are now awaiting to see what Lynch does. Lynch hasn’t made a film since Inland Empire, in 2006. That’s eleven years but i can’t remember anything with this sort of anticipation barring maybe the 2005 return of Doctor Who.

So why the change in heart? Why are people who were hostile to Twin Peaks in 1992 onwards suddenly so hyped for when most of the last 25 years Twin Peaks has been at best, a cult.

Barring the fact a new audience discovered the programme through repeats and DVD, Twin Peaks holds a place in history for being the programme that broke the format of American episodic TV, not to mention in pushing the limits of what can be done in TV in America. No Twin Peaks, no X Files, no Millennium, no NCIS, no Hannibal, nothing. Things may well have taken a very different path if Twin Peaks hadn’t happened and I think people who were harsh on it now realise that. They know the last 25 years of television owes much to it and it’s return is a sense of squaring a circle which knowing Lynch will be something that literally happens in this new series.

But let’s not forget how good the series was. There’s a lot to live up to, and the series in my mind has one of the (still) most terrifying scenes I’ve seen on an American TV series with (SPOILERS) Maddy’s murder.

This strain of outright horrific nastiness carried on into Fire Walk With Me, and I hope carries on to this new series. Not because I’m especially vicious (or am I??) but because Twin Peaks worked well when it had these parts which were deeply, deeply disturbing beyond the odd quirkiness that most of the series had. That tone hid the darker side, and this return hopefully scares the living shite out of me.

Most of all though I want it to surprise me. I want it to be familiar and different. I don’t want Lynch to play it safe. I want him to lure me in then pummel me around the head in such a way that I’m scared of turning out the lights. See, far too many revivals sink into a confused mess (see the aforementioned Doctor Who) as it ends up pandering purely to fans who want things spoon-fed to them. I think if anyone is going to avoid that it’ll be David Lynch so I look forward to firing up my Magic Crystal Set tomorrow and viewing the new Twin Peaks

What I thought of The Wicked and the Divine: 455 AD #1

This one-off issue is another break from the regular storyline that takes us from the 21st century back to 455AD when the Vandal army destroyed Rome, except all isn’t as we think and we see Julius Caesar go off to fight the Vandal army by himself.

Julius is in fact Lucifer and is essentially the last God standing.

Annake chides Lucifer for what he’s done, but he’s having none of it.

He also seems to have totally sussed Annake out for the manipulative God-killer she is.

However after declaring himself emperor and wishing Rome to be a better place, things don’t turn out as planned.

As Lucifer turns out to be quite, quite mad.

Things end up turning out as we know them too but this is a story to show just how far Annake will go to end the brief lives of the Gods and what happens when a God tries to live longer than their allotted lifespan. It’s a bleak, gory and depressing vision and one that is expertly written by Gillen and splendidly drawn by Andre Araujo. This is a nice compliment to the ongoing series but without the main series the story is weaker so don’t treat this as something you can dive into on it’s own.