Irony of ironies, today I was going to listen to Simon Logan on BBC Radio Newcastle talk about life without electricity, but I nearly missed it as the power went. Secret Life of the National Grid starts tonight at 9 pm on BBC4. In the end not a bad thing as it gave me time to think of other things.
Spooks came to mind most. In it the forces of the Evil Empire want MI5 to switch over to the new US security computer grid. As the good guys agree to the request from Obamastan, Tariq has a fit and storms off to the loo. What can it be? Was he kept off the grid for being too Muslim? Did the Americans insist on having their own computer genius sort it out? Nothing of the sort. Turns out some super hackers have broken into the mainframe of Thames House and the entire database of Her Majesty's Secret Service. Ruth of all people follows him into the ONLY rooms at MI5 not wired for cameras and sound. Point taken whoever said even spies need to drain the lizard, have a slash , drop one etc... But isn't it also true that the vast majority of drops and exchanges in films are done in a selection of lavatories? I'll not let myself be too bothered by this. It kept the story moving and that's vitally important if they were to get past the first five minutes.
So will Harry Pierce and company thwart the coalition of Russians and Chinese super hackers? Well of course. But this is Spooks. We won't just track them down and take them out, we'll need to go on the brink of giving up our assets, possibly sacrificing battalions of spies to vengeful enemies, we may even have to be nasty to the Americans. The short answer is yes, they get there in the end, but not before I was pulled into a full on fit of nerves that the whole thing would go pear shaped and there would ne nothing left of MI5 but smouldering computers and dead spies everywhere.
Mark Gatiss's First Men in the Moon. A lovely little film with a small cast that tells the story of the first Moon landing long before 1969. It opens at a fair and a small boy waits for his father to return so they can all go home to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Except of course Neil Armstrong isn't the first man on the moon, that man is sat in a tent waiting for the boy to tell his story of greed, hope and human folly. H.G. Well's book comes to life in a League of Gentlemen sort of way with Rory Kinnear and Mark Gatiss playing the two earth men who lift themselves off the Earth using cavorite, a substance that cancels out gravity. The conflicts that arise are classic and well dealt with. While it may not have the massive cast or laser weapons of Star Wars, the far more realistic story tells of the meeting of two species and the natural paranoia and innocence that infuses such meetings. Clearly the Moon men would be easy targets for man if we ever invaded, but are they any more justified in their potential responses? How Cavor and Bedford deal with this in the end is melancholic and illuminating. The first Men in the Moon is an example of how the words are in fact more important than any special effects.
My own personal memories of the actual moon landings is of being sat on the edge of the bed watching telly in my pyjamas with my Mam and apparently taking a sick day or maybe we just skived, I'm not sure. But I know most of my class opted to stay at home to watch. I can still see the 14 inch telly perched on the dresser being our window on history. It was my first ever "Live television event" that impacted me in the same way some people remember the end of the second war or the 1953 coronation. Mark Gatiss has done a good job of linking H.G.Wells and our collective memory of that day in a film that holds your interest for the full 90 minutes. If Mark Gatiss is the flavour of the month at the BBC, it means we'll be seeing a lot more of him and his stories. So far so good.
Paul left several thousand squid in his will and in lieu of flowers, the family is requesting wasabi. . His final prediction was that England would win the right to hold the 2018 World Cup, so fingers crossed!