For Your Listening Pleasure

I just realised that it’s Sunday and I’m two days late in posting. The schedule may be meaningless and self-imposed but it quietens the stabby-stabby thoughts. And to get it out of the way: Christmas was great. Kathi and I spend it alone and reconnecting with each other. It’s been a very valuable time for both of us.

Now to television and the best sci-fi show you’ll never see: Defying Gravity. This show is just plain awesome, not least for being targetted at adults rather than teens, but also for not being a Star Trek clone. This last point is both it’s greatest strength and the reason, I believe, it was cancelled after one season. (Of course, in the US, the cultural Great Satan, they didn’t even play the whole 13 episode season.) The series follow an international group of astronauts as they embark on a six-year “tour of the solar system,” with plenty of flashbacks to their training days into which to explore changes of character. Apparently, the show was pitched to the studio as “Grey’s Anatomy in space.” Yes, the science is wonky but it’s a great ensemble cast drama about relationships and social interaction under pressure.

(As you all know, Star Trek is a pox on science fiction. While the original series was fun the first time, it’s lingering and scabrous after effects repeat themselves over and over, literally, ad nauseum and condemn to death any chance of future pleasure.)

As for audio drama, there’s a few good things on BBC Radio 7 at the moment which I am thoroughly enjoying.

First cab off the rank is Rumpole of the Bailey. I know that many consider this a tired old show, especially after being subjected to endless re-runs of the TV series on ABC TV. In it’s radio incarnation, Maurice Denham makes the character his own rather than basing him on the TV series’ lead actor, Leo McKern. This alone makes the series fascinating.

Next is a wonderful detective series called A Confidential Agent which, to continue with the bad studio pitches, could be described as “Shirley Valentine, PI.” It’s set in Birmingham and follows a 40-something woman who has left the glittering high-life of London to come home to care for her ol’ da and somehow lands herself a job as lead investigator at Ace Confidential Investigations. One of the magical aspects to the series is that she often fantasises herself as the main character in a Chandler-esque private eye novel complex with a slow Chicago jazz soundtrack until something jars her back into the real world of tenament housing, factory closures and loan sharks operating out of the back room of the local pub.

Next on the list is an adaptation of Stanislaw Lem‘s Solaris and another in the endless dramatisations of Ellis PetersCadfael series of novels.