All of us are in the gutter.

Let’s take a moment to look at Star Trek’s holodeck.

We know that it is capable of creating realistic facsimiles of an environment through the use of force-fields and matter conversion systems, such as are used in the replicator units.

A replicator can make any one of a number of foodstuffs, materialising it from raw matter. This matter must come from somewhere. On a closed system such as a starship, we can posit that it is stored somewhere on the ship, waiting to be dematerialised, then rematerialised in a replicator or on a holodeck.

So a holodeck can recreate practically any scenario. What do you think the crew of a starship are going to be using these 24th century facilities for?

That’s right. The driver of technological advances throughout time.


And not just rude pictures either. The holodeck can use its force-fields and matter conversion systems to allow all sorts of simulated naughtiness to occur. And there’d be no need for prophylactics, because a holopartner could never become pregnant, or infect you with an STD.

So we can also assume that various bits of waste are left in the holodeck after a session. How do you suppose we clean the holodecks?

Well, given that the holodecks use transporter technology, and that we are on a closed system such as a starship, I think that we can safely say that it’s dematerialised for later use as raw matter in a replicator system.

We are all of us, in a very real sense, eating Commander Riker’s jizz.

It’s the Arockalypse

Ah, Eurovision time again.

A little history:

Back in 1954, a consortium of Television Companies in Europe, the European Broadcasting Union, began to share their programmes across a Europe-wide network. At first by landline, later by satellite.

This network was named Eurovision.

As well as sharing plays, documentaries, and sports programmes across the network, the Eurovision Song Contest (as it’s now known) was launched in 1956 to find popular music from all members of the consortium. The contest has run every year since.

The European Broadcasting Union has now grown to 74 members, including Israel and Russia – which is why they’re entitled to enter the Song Contest despite not being in Europe.

Obviously with so many different cultures, the range of entries is quite wide, and it’s always a bit of a mystery who’ll win. Some have accused the Contest of churning out far too many sappy ballads.

There’s some truth to this.

But this year, oh this year, there was a clear winner from the get-go.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the well-deserved winners of Eurovision 2006: the Finnish Hard Rockers Lordi, with Rock Hallelujah.

Monsters who sing. What’s not to love?

Coupling: How it all ends.

Steven Moffat is one of the greatest TV writers in the world.

Coupling is probably the show he’s best known for. It lasted four series in the UK. He’s also written for Doctor Who. As well as being a bit of a fan.

So when someone asked him on the Outpost Gallifrey message board what happened after the last episode, he told them. As I couldn’t link to the post because the registration system is down, I asked Mr Moffat if I could repost it here.

So here you are, Coupling fans.


Originally Posted by IMForeman

My only complaint: I need closure on this. I know it’s unlikely any “ending” will be made, but I just need closure! I need to know if Jane and Oliver work out. I need to know if Sally actually gives Patrick a slightly less rude answer to his proposal. I need to know that Susan was ok after the C-Section, and what kind of neurotic father Steve made. I NEED TO KNOW!!!!

Ok, that’s me venting for today. Move along. Nothing more to see.

Oh, all right.

Sally said yes to Patrick, they got married and are very happy. Especially as Sally beat Susan to the altar, and finally did something first. Patrick is now a completely devoted husband, who lives in total denial that he was anything other an upstanding member of the community. Or possibly he’s actually forgotten. He doesn’t like remembering things because it’s a bit like thinking.

Jane and Oliver never actually did have sex, but they did become very good friends. They often rejoice together that their friendship is uncomplicated by any kind of sexual attraction – but they both get murderously jealous when the other is dating. Jane has a job at Oliver’s science fiction book shop now – and since Oliver has that one moment of Naked Jane burnt on the inside of his eyelids, he now loses the place in one in every three sentences. People who know them well think something’s gotta give – and they’re right. Especially as Jane comes to work in a metal bikini.

Steve and Susan have two children now, and have recently completed work on a sitcom about their early lives together. They’re developing a new television project, but it keeps getting delayed as he insists on writing episodes of some old kids show they recently pulled out of mothballs. She gets very cross about this, and if he says “Yeah but check out the season poll!” one more time, he will not live to write another word.

Jeff is still abroad. He lives a life a complete peace and serenity now, having taken the precaution of not learning a word of the local langauge and therefore protecting himself from the consequences of his own special brand of communication. If any English speakers turn up, he pretends he only speaks Hebrew. He is, at this very moment, staring out to sea, and sighing happily every thirty-eight seconds.

What he doesn’t know, of course, is that even now a beautiful Israeli girl he once met in a bar, is heading towards his apartment, having been directed to the only Hebrew speaker on the island. What he also doesn’t know is that she is being driven by a young ex-pat English woman, who is still grieving the loss of a charming, one-legged Welshman she once met on a train. And he cannot possible suspect that (owing to a laundry mix-up, and a stag party the previous night in the same block) he is wearing heat-dissolving trunks.

As the doorbell rings, it is best that we draw a veil.

Steven Moffat


You might want to check out the posts over at Doris Egan’s LJ. She’s been a writer on (inter alia) Tru Calling, Skin, Smallville, Dark Angel, and (now) House.

On the downside, she only posts about twice a year.
On the upside, it’s all good, including techniques, behind-the-scenes stories, and a picture of the whiteboard laying out the last season of Angel.


An open letter to William Shatner

Dear Bill

Everyone I know adores Has Been. Is there any chance that you could take it on tour? I, and many other people that I know, would gladly pay good money to hear your inimitable vocal stylings live.

Also, while walking home tonight I could not get your rendition of “Just the Way You Are” out of my head, despite the fact that you have never recorded it.

I honestly fear that if you were to actually sing this song, the world would end, as God’s purpose for the Earth would have been fulfilled.

It may be worth it.


Back to the board

Another draft of Persephone put in the metaphorical drawer, and it’s time to start writing my second feature.

Same rules as before: two months to commit a first draft to paper and never mind the quality, feel the width. I’m facing off against William and Christine, who will keep me honest.

I highly recommend having a competition with someone, if you’re having problems getting motivated. Anyone that doesn’t complete their screenplay on time gets mercilessly teased. It’s just like going to a screenwriting class, only it doesn’t cost you any money.

As a change from tentacle-based Horror, I’ve decided to do a UK Heist Movie. Or possibly a Caper, it’s difficult to be sure at this point.

Basic concept down, it’s time to move to the corkboard.

I discovered the joys of the corkboard about three years ago. To those who haven’t experienced its awesome power, give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much easier it makes your life.

You will require:

– A large corkboard (one)
– 3″x5″ index cards (lots)
– A wall to hang the board on (one)
– Drawing pins (lots)

First, hang the corkboard on a wall in an area of your house where you pass by every day. I like to keep it out of my work area, say in the living room. That way it’s always in my periphery, churning away in the subconscious.

Got a scene, or a moment, or a fragment of dialogue? Scribble it down on an index card, and pin it to the board. It doesn’t matter where.

Every time you think of a scene, stick it on the board. The fact that you’re pinning it onto a board soon makes it a sequence. And that suggests other scenes, and other sequences.

The joy of the corkboard is that it’s easy to change. You’ve not committed anything to paper. Just a quick scribble on an index card – the work of a moment to replace. And because it’s easy to change, you’re not precious about it.

There’s no “I can’t lose that, I spent days working on it and it’s my favourite scene.” It can’t be. It’s just a scribble on a piece of card. Ten seconds to write a new one.


So the corkboard allows you to rapidly improve your work by trying things out and discarding them. If a sequence doesn’t work, you just pull the cards out and move them about. Scenes can move from the middle to the front to the end of the story at will, split into two or combine into one. Or be thrown away entirely – on my Enterprise spec I went through three completely different A-stories before I found one that worked.

You want to be moving cards around as much as possible. Try it different ways. You can always move the cards back.

How many cards do you need? Well if you’re working on a TV spec, get a hold of a couple of scripts for the show you’re speccing and count the scenes. Then just duplicate that.

For a film, somewhere between 40-60 scenes is about right. I tend to write short scenes, so I like to have around sixty cards on the board. For Persephone, sixty cards worked out at about a hundred and five pages.

When you’ve got the basics of the story worked out and inspiration is starting to run thin, you can set your left-brain to work.

Scribble a little A/B/C in the corner of each card, depending on whether the scene advances the A-story, B-story, and so on. Is there a chunk where only one story’s moving? Add some thematic tension or irony by introducing a scene from a different story to counterpoint. Add or discard subplots at will.

Get some coloured pencils or crayons, and assign a colour to each character. Now put a little square of colour in the corner of every card that character appears in.

Now you’ve got a visual cue to see what everyone’s doing when. Characters only appearing towards the end of the film. Characters who disappear half way through. If you need to cut away to a different scene, it’s easy to see who hasn’t been around lately.

What you can see, you can fix.

The corkboard makes the structure of your film easy to see.

And that makes it easy to fix.

Speaking Truthiness to Power

It has hardly touched the mainstream media, and troubles not the UK, but apparently there was a bit of a kerfuffle at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

It goes like this:

Every year the President of the United States and the White House Press Corps have a black tie dinner. Speeches are made. The President does a little comedy routine. Someone else does a little comedy routine.


This year, Stephen Colbert was invited to speak. His routine directly attacked the President and the Press. It was scathing. Also one of the most uncomfortable things you’ll ever watch.

They were expecting light-hearted comedy. They got something else entirely.

Torrent here. Bush’s routine starts 40 minutes in, Colbert follows immediately after.

For those of you stuck in the 20th Century, C-Span has the whole thing in RealMedia, or you can access WMP and QT versions here.

I highly recommend you watch.

Whose side are you on?

The bad news is that Sky One have cancelled Hex and Dream Team.

The good news is that the programming budget freed up by this is going to make a new series of The Prisoner.

If you haven’t seen The Prisoner already, go and buy it now. I’ll wait.

Back? Good.

While you’re waiting for the DVDs to arrive I’ll tell you this:

The Prisoner is about a secret agent who retires.
He wakes up in The Village, a place where people who hold secrets are sent.
The Village is run by one side or the other.
The series about a man who will not break or bend. Ever.

It’s one of the all-time cult classic shows. And there’s a reason for that – superb acting, superb writing, superb direction.

Facing up to that legacy? That takes cojones, and big ones.

It’s not taking a show that people remember from their childhood but that died unloved and remaking it, like Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica. You’re talking about remaking one of the shows that’s respected by just about everyone that’s seen it.

The new series has the potential to be unutterably brilliant or unutterably awful. I don’t see that it can fall in the middle.

I wouldn’t want to call it one way or another at this point, but damn, that’s a brave move.

And perhaps more than any other show, this one will live or die by the quality of the writing.

It’ll be interesting to watch.