Review: The Cafe, episodes 1 & 2

Sky One’s new sitcom The Cafe comes from the pens of Ralf Little and Michelle Terry – the former made his name playing dopy younger brother Antony on The Royle Family, and starring in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps; the latter experienced mainly in stage work, including spells with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The pair are mentored by Craig Cash, best known for playing Caroline Aherne’s boyfriend Dave on The Royle Family – which I hadn’t realised he also co-wrote with Aherne – and Early Doors, which he co-wrote and appeared in.

The Royle Family and Early Doors share a downbeat, realist tone. There’s a sense that runs through both shows of understated realism, that everything that’s seen really could happen.
Along with The Office and Smoking Room, these are probably the best Brit sitcoms of  that type in the last decade. (Possibly including Peep Show as well, the doubt being about style rather than quality.)
So, in short, the creators should know what they’re doing with this style of comedy – the phrase ‘from the makers of’ is often used to promote a new programme or film, given that The Cafe aims for the same style as it’s predecessors, here it’s pretty much as accurate as it can be.

Ralf Little and Michelle Terry

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My use of NaNoWriMo

Like many across the world who want to be writers but keep putting it off, I’ve been taking part in NaNoWriMo.
But rather than using the month, as intended, to get an entire novel written, I’ve used the thing for two different purposes – to get a short story written, and to get started with writing a blog.
The blog so far has been a partial success I’d say – got a fair few things down there, starting to get into a rhythm.

The short story, a science fiction story set on a space ship in the distant future (I never said it was anything profound) is something I’ve went back to on and off for a few years.
I’ve had greater problems with this. Mainly around self-consciousness – I tend to feel, when I’m writing, ‘did I do this right? Does this work?’
So I’ll obsess over whether jokes are funny, action sequences are exciting enough, and so on.

The taxation of trade routes to outlaying star systems is in dispute!

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Review: Life’s Too Short episodes 1 & 2

A note – as the show features a lot of actors playing a fictionalised version of themselves, I’ve referred to the characters in inverted commas. So, the actor Warwick Davis plays the character ‘Warwick Davis’, Ricky Gervais plays ‘Ricky Gervais’, Liam Neeson plays ‘Liam Neeson’, and so on.

A bit of background – in the weeks leading up to the show’s beginning, Ricky Gervais has gotten himself involved in a stupid bit of controversy. He’s returned to Twitter, and gotten involved in an incredibly annoying argument over the word ‘mong’. He’s been arguing that the word has lost it’s social stigma (an insulting word for a retarded person), and that it’s now only a word for idiot. He’s been refusing to back down or accept that, with language being an elastic concept that develops and changes over time, it could have a meaning for some people beyond what he understands it to have.
It’s been a very stupid argument that I’ve deliberately avoided hearing too much about. The two options are that Gervais is extremely overconfident of his opinion, or that he’s been deliberately causing a controversy to promote his new show. Pulling a Trump, in other words.
Also, the concept (Warwick Davis plays ‘Warwick Davis’ in a mockumentary about life as a dwarf actor) sounds a little like a spoof to me, closer to the show-within-a-show When the Whistle Blows in Extras. So, I wasn’t optimistic going in.

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Episode Analysis: Friends – The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break/The One The Morning After 3.15/3.16

The aim of this blog is to analyse, take apart, look at technical elements of stories – TV episodes, films, and so on, to look at the story, characters, jokes, look at what, in my opinion, works and doesn’t, and why.

I’m going to begin not by looking at any particular story element, but looking at one episode in particular, from whatever angles I can see.

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Self Doubt & My Writer’s Contract

I started writing a blog with the intent of getting myself writing regularly. The idea was that if I blog regularly, take a look at different stories from an analytical point of view, as well as finally completing a version of a story I’ve referred back to a few times over the past couple of years, giving me the momentum to keep myself writing regularly.

I’ve been looking at an old TV programme, an old sitcom episode, analysing and applying the various bits of story structure I’ve picked up over the years.
I’ve more or less written notes out, but I feel like I’ve got nothing new or interesting to say, and take a long time saying it.
So yeah, my habitual, ingrained self-doubt is still there, nagging away at me.

A snapshot of the inside of my head

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About the Name

You may recognise that my blog name is a paraphrasing of a Samuel Johnson quote – ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, but for money.’

I first came across this quote, probably when I was a teenager, in a ‘Thought for the Day’ section in a local paper. I accepted this as being correct, despite how easily it falls apart under scrutiny.

I’m not completely sure what connotations the word ‘blockhead’ will have held in the 18th century, but I think it’s fairly safe to assume it means foolish, stupid, and so on.

Or an oddly feminine monkey

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My very first blog post

I’m an aspiring writer.

I’ve heard it said that anyone looking to get into writing should stop thinking of themselves as ‘aspiring writer’ and just think of themselves as a ‘writer’, regardless of whether they’re paid. But my stories tend to fall apart halfway through, so unfortunately, I think that word, ‘aspiring’, belongs up there.

I googled the words ‘writer writing’ and this was the fourth image.

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