A decidedly odd end to this strange remake. From Death Ray #19. Read more about the show here.

TWO AND A HALF STARS

The US version on Life on Mars, cancelled, takes a rather literal turn. SPOILER ALERT! We really blow the whole thing here. Meanwhile, back in 1982 DI Drake has a new set of problems to tackle.

Either the finale of the US Life on Mars is a stunningly daring piece of television, or it’s bollocks. Jury’s out. If you plan to watch it, turn away now, because there is a gargantuan spoiler on its way…

…now. Okay, so the final episode has Sam under pressure. His younger self has been kidnapped by his criminal dad Vic. Meanwhile, the mysterious phone voice that has been bugging him throughout the series gives Sam three tasks to complete if he wants to go home. Vic is confronted and shot dead as he’s about to kill Sam, after revealing that he knows Sam is his son. Annie ‘No Nuts’ is promoted to detective, she and Sam kiss. Sam tells the phone voice to get stuffed, because he likes 1973. This transpires to be the final task, and Sam is returned home… to 2035! He’s been on board a spaceship to Mars all along. What?!

We’ll be honest here and say we did not see that coming.

Sam’s been in a VR dream for the trip to Mars. He chose to be a cop in 2008, but the ship was rocked by a meteor storm, so Windy (who is actually the ship’s computer) had to tinker with his adventure, er, by sending him to 1973. The space probe that Sam kept seeing is a ship-board minibot. The ‘gene hunt’ is that for Martian ‘genetic DNA ‘ (um, is there another kind?). Annie is in command of the mission, and Keitel turns out to be Major Tom(!), Sam’s dad.

No doubt the writers will one day come clean as to whether or not they planned this from the beginning. For now, in favour of this being the intended denouement is the regular appearance of the space probe, Ray calling Sam ‘spaceman’ consistently throughout and young Sam being fascinated by space. On the other hand, if the references to hospitals and inference of angels are red herrings, they are members of a suspiciously coherent shoal. The cast make the most unlikely band of astronauts ever, while NASA would never put a warring father and son on board a long-term mission together (Sam’s time in the ’70s is sold to us as a big metaphor for filial/ paternal conflict). It makes very little sense, especially with all the scenes where Sam is not present (who’s experiencing them, eh?). The tasks are weak. There’s a flashforward to 2010, out of place alongside the ultimate denouement, and lots of silly justifications for the slang used throughout. Most egregious is the feeble “I was supposed to be in 2008″ explanation for why Sam’s so au fait with the period, and that nearly breaks the concept. Wry Bowie quotes are shoehorned in quick succession to foreshadow the ending, only for Elton John to sing us out. As you’d expect, most of the plot points from earlier episodes are left guttering, like, well, candles in the wind.

It’s a brittle resolution, but to say they had to wrap it up all of a sudden, it does the job. A decidedly odd end to a mostly inferior remake.


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In case you think I’m slacking, here’s my third Initiate for my crusader squad. Squad 3, in fact. They all have the numeral on them somewhere, courtesy of transfers. The chainsword sadly looks a bit like a plank of wood, the result of painting over some unsuccessful freehand.


Stoodley Pike from across the valley in Blackshaw Head, my home village.

Stoodley Pike. Taken from across the valley by Great Rock in Blackshaw Head, my home village a few days ago. The hill is the pike, not the monument. A common mistake. The hill is 400 metres, the monument 37 metres.

Today, I went to the top of the moor and stood in the face of the gale.

The tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo paid a visit to the Pennines, and I went purposefully up the mountain to swim in the rain and the wind.

There was no one else there. Only sheep chewing grass unconcernedly, and cows huddled in the lee of walls. Leaves that flew like birds, birds that were blown like leaves.

This is why I love Yorkshire. Every inch of Britain has felt the touch of man. There are no pristine landscapes here. The wildest seeming – often these are the heaviest handled. Made by our ancestors unintentionally, and tended to maintain that form today. They are unintentional gardens, wilderness in error.

Although no one can call the landscapes of high Yorkshire natural, they are at least honestly wild. Mankind’s hand sits but lightly on the moors, and on days like today it appears to withdraw entirely.

Some find it bleak. I was born in this part of the world. I can see the grimness of it, the endless dun hill tops and grey crags, but I enjoy that very bleakness. For its sense of defiance, if nothing else. Defiance of the worst the Atlantic can throw at it, defiance of the people who sought to change it. Even as the forests make a stealthy return to the valleys, the high moor remains more or less as it has been for millennia.

To be home is to belong. I was smart enough to realise early what I wanted in life was right under my feet, wise enough in a callow way to know I had to go away to find it. I was away too long, perhaps. I am glad I am back now.

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Rainbow over Hebden Bridge, taken today below Erringden moor.

This has been a poor week. My wife suffers in her career. Everyone is stressed. My son has slipped a little at school, most certainly because of the move.

This morning that did not matter.

Yorkshire is called God’s own country. To go outdoors here for a while… Every walk is a minor exercise in mountaineering. To ascend quickly, if breathlessly, then look down from great height. There is a sense of Olympian detachment to the view. No wonder Yorkshiremen are so opinionated.

I say to my wife as often as needed that there is always a way out. Sometimes I find it hard to believe what I say.

But not on days like this, not on days when the world is hand-tinted by the season. When rain falls over the valley in visible fusillade, dark as bombs, and the sun is mysterious behind the veil of it. When golden grass whips in the storm, ferns are of pale bronze, oak leaves are copper, birch are of brass. Today the world was a treasure box. Trite, I know, but invigorating to experience, and I feel like recording it.

I became a writer to be free. I value my freedom. I am not naive enough – or perhaps not optimistic enough – to think revolution can free us all. I have known several revolutionaries. They are usually confounded, and often angry. Instead I have worked quietly to free myself. With the promise I would help others when I could, but a selfish aim nonetheless.

Freedom is a rare commodity in this age. Fate turns against us all, ruthless cogs of circumstance and culture that brook no dissent. My stock of freedom is precious, and dwindling.

But on the moors, alone with the storm, there is a freedom that is always there.

There is always a way out.

Another Black Templar

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Gaming
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Initiate number 2. These are taking me about four hours each to paint, so don’t expect to see them on a tabletop any time soon.


Mars Attacks, Uruk-hai and Black Templars.

Mars Attacks (Benny did those, not bad for a six year-old), Uruk-hai and Black Templars. And a random dice I found in a bag pocket, dropped on the floor and then kept painfully treading on. I should just put it in the tin with the others. Lazy.


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Oooh! Pretty trees. I took this in Calderholme Park in Hebden Bridge while I was out walking the dog this morning. Predictably, Magnus was after some other dog’s ball and I had to deploy a biscuit to lure him off. He’s a menace with other people’s balls, he really is. Ahem.