The Reads and The Watches and The Listens

I’ve just finished Vol 2 of The Walking Dead, which is one of those things that used to be called a comic back when I was buying a lot of these things, but now that they put them out in nice fat collected editions we get to call them graphic novels. Anyway, I’m liking it lots. Really, you should give it a try if you like your fiction with word balloons. It may be set during a zombie apocalypse, but hard as it might be to believe, it’s not actually about a zombie apocalypse. It’s about people trying to get along together in a distinctly pressurised situation. And like all the best comics, as it goes along it gathers layers of chronology and relationships and backstory that make the whole feel greater than the sum of its parts.

Way back in the early days of this blog I spent a happy couple of posts complaining about Torchwood. By the end of that first series, I’d watched almost all the episodes, and had lost a big chunk of self-respect along the way. I really didn’t like it, for specific and to me glaringly obvious reasons, and yet I kept watching the damn thing in the foolish hope that they could salvage something from the pheromone-soaked wreckage. They never did, really. Apparently some people liked it, but me … not so much.
So now series two is underway, and I dutifully watched the first episode, and lo and behold I think I might actually have quite enjoyed it. They’ve tweaked the tone in a pretty major way, and it works a lot better for me: bit more humour, taking itself fractionally less seriously, a few more one-liners, marginally fewer holes in the plot. Definitely enough to get me to come back next week.
And over on ITV, we’ve got Primeval starting its new series too, and the first episode of that was OK too. It’s a lot clearer – and a lot simpler – about what it’s trying to do than Torchwood is: let’s have some sf-ish fun with CGI monsters and secret organisations. The actors play it pretty straight on the whole, but it’s in the service of straightforward, fun entertainment. A perfectly harmless way of spending an hour or so in front of the telly. It’s kind of cool to have two UK-made sf series on the box both at the same time, and for them both to be watchable (so far).
And finally, since that’s a lot of entertainment to be inserting into your brain through your eyes, here’s something interesting that goes in through the ears: The Reality Check podcast interviews the man behind the Escape Pod fiction podcast. Escape Pod has turned itself into a definite fixture on the sf short story scene, and it’s interesting to hear a bit about where it came from and where it’s going. Well worth checking EP out, if you haven’t already.
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