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.

The Tory manifesto was launched today

Theresa May launched the Tory general election manifesto today. Essentially if you’re vulnerable, sick, an immigrant, or not stupidly wealthy then this is the vision of the future the Tories are laying out for you after they’re done at the end of the next parliament.

That’s for plebs like you or I. The likes of Iain Duncan Smith will be dining on the finest wines and meats while your children starve at school.

The Tories are dangerous. This manifesto is dangerous. It needs to be fought. Think about the future when you cast your vote next month.

What I thought of The Flash #22

It all ends and begins here! The DC Rebirth/Watchmen clustefuck hits a new level as the four-part ”The Button” storyline comes to a close with a cover featuring Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash promising the return of everything the New 52 cleaned out, but before we get there there’s a bit of matey banter between The Flash and Reverse-Flash, not to mention some prime product placement.

During all this Barry Allen mentions Hypertime, the Grant Morrison/Mark Waid idea that DC dabbled with in the 90’s to try to explain all the inconsistencies of their superhero universe.

Eventually the Reverse-Flash encounters the mysterious figure behind all of this (It’s Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen which we know anyhow), gets horribly killed and the Flash and Batman end up adrift in time and space heading towards an unknown voice.

That’ll be the Golden Age Flash.

However Barry and Bruce have no idea who Jay is because of that evil Dr. Manhattan chap and his big blue willy.

After Jay vanishes back into the ether, Barry and Bruce wrap things up while leaving things dangling, and talking about dangling, here comes Dr. Manhattan.

Which leads to the issue plugging November’s Doomsday Clock in which Superman and Dr. Manhattan will punch each other and ensure, once and for all, that nobody working at DC from Dan Didio to Geoff Johns actually read and understood Watchmen. As a roll of the creative dice this is a massive blank, but in terms of sales (and I speak now as someone diving back into the world of comics retail) this will sell books. They won’t be very good books but such is the power of Watchmen that it’ll propel DC along for a few years and then the novelty will have worn off.

See, Watchmen will continue to sell. It’s a classic book. Every time I read it I find something new in it. You will never, ever say that with Doomsday Clock. But hey, it’ll sell and in 2020 when this has all died down DC will try to work out what to do next and realise they’ve nothing left in their tank and creatively, they’ve worn out the bottom of the barrel but certain people will have kept their jobs which ultimately is what all this has been about…

DC bring Watchmen into their universe so there can be big fights

DC Comics are releasing a mini-series where Superman (the first superhero as we know it) fights Dr. Manhattan from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen which is an adult orientated story that DC have been trying to exploit in this way for decades and now their dream is nearly complete as this series is being billed as the one that brings Watchmen fully into the DC Universe.

This is all part of the DC Rebirth event that started last year and now looks to close with a full-fledged fight between Superman, who looks like this currently…

And Dr. Manhattan who looks like this…

This is all being masterminded by Geoff Johns, a writer who is more popular, not to mention successful than his talent belies. Of course it’ll annoy people like myself who find the idea of integrating Watchmen into the DC Universe, but it shows the lack of creative thought at DC as make no mistake, this is a last throw of the dice for some people who want to retain their very well paid jobs.

As a piece of creative bankruptcy this is probably one which will pay off. Readers and speculators alike will be drawn to it in some cases in the same way one is drawn to a car crash on the motorway, but it’ll sell, it’ll save people’s jobs and it’ll sully the one piece of Alan Moore’s work for DC that DC’s not managed to shamelessly exploit. Question is though in a year or two when this is all settled what do DC do next if there’s nobody creating new works of the quality of Watchmen? Gimmicks are fine but they’re short term sales tricks and won’t help when people are bored of Superman punching Dr. Manhattan.

The UK welfare state is broken

I recently had to attend an assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in regards my Employment Support Allowance (ESA) which involved a lengthy two hour questioning and then physical examination. Sure, it was with a very decent, kind GP, but not my GP and not anyone who’s spoken to my consultants in Glasgow or back in Bristol however the entire process was designed to relegate people into units where your future ability to provide economic worth to the state is assessed.

Now I want to get back to work and thanks to a mix of improving health and the incompetency of Glasgow City Council that’s probably something that’s going to happen sooner than later. Last week though I saw people who could clearly and obviously barely walk and/or were in such clear pain/discomfort that dragging them through a Kafkaesque procedure only made any conditions they have worse. When you’re ill, seriously ill as opposed to ”oh, I’ve got a bad cold” ill, you’re going to suffer from anxiety.and stress about your own perhaps curtailed or painful existence so the last thing you need is some apathetic DWP employee looking at you as if you’re some sort of stain on their horizon.

The system is broken. Things are going to change in Scotland as the Scottish Government is banning the likes of ATOS and will be attempting to create a more humane system however that’s years away, and for the rest of the UK looking down the barrel of a ruthless Tory government things will only get worse. The system is needlessly cruel because a media reports on people ”scrounging” all the bloody time.

The picture being painted is one of masses of the sick and disabled playing at it to pull in massive riches (as if £146 a fortnight is riches) or defrauding the system but the system is impossible to fathom without having a computer to work out the calculations. And those that do manage to somehow game the system amount to a pitiful 1.8% in 2015. On average the fraud level is around 1% which means the screaming headlines of ”75%” is bullshit, but this constant level of lying has worked. The sick and disabled are seen as ‘faking’ or if you speak to some people you get the line ‘nah, not you, you’re one of the genuine ones” as if there’s massive hordes of people developing debilitating conditions in order to grab money.

I hope the new forthcoming Scottish system helps change things for the better, but it took years to harden things up and it’ll take years to get rid of what are now entrenched opinions. One thing is clear though; vote Tory in June’s general election and things won’t get any better.

Everyone is watching Eurovision

Virtually everyone I know is watching the Eurovision Song Contest. I’m not. Last time I watched it I ended up in hospital which wasn’t the fault of Eurovision itself, well, not solely. I’ve never had a strong love or hate relationship with Eurovision looking at it as something that exists in the same way lettuce and bunions do.

My social media timelines are a mass of horror and joy at horses on ladders and tediously dull Dutch entries (ooo errr missus) so I’ve decided to opt out, watch items I’m selling on Ebay and think of the best Eurovision entry that never was.Have a fun Eurovision everyone…