Friday, 7 June 2013

Things and Stuff #5

Things and Stuff is a grab-bag of things that've been on my mind this week. In this edition: Malorie, Thrones, Glorious, blogging, Ninjago

Thing 1 : Malorie Blackman is the new Children's Laureate!
She is such a brilliant writer and this is such a brilliant choice - if you don't know much about her (I suspect everyone who is reading this will know more about her than I do, but still) and you're wondering why it's brilliant, you should read this Guardian interview.

(It was a huge huge honour to have her as the writers' honorary chair for Undiscovered Voices 2012, sh'e's a wonderful person and the very idea that she's actually read the first chapter of Skulk is sort of mind-blowing.)

Thing 2: This week's episode of Game of Thrones
I'm not going to go into it in any great detail. But I was expecting something pretty amazing, and my reaction still went a little something like this:

Peterson isn't, is he? (C) the BBC

Thing 3: Glorious!
The concert on Tuesday night was really, really awesome. I'm still buzzing a little bit. 290 singers make an incredible noise and as usual David brought out the best in all of us. And it's going to be on the radio on Monday!

Thing 4: I didn't get a sensible blog up this Tuesday
I was due to, because it's been a whole two weeks. To be fair, I had work followed by lunch followed by work followed by a concert. But all that really means is I should've thought about that in advance and written one on Monday.

Sorry about that. I've got one I like for this Tuesday! Maybe don't get your hopes up for any kind of measurable insightfulness or relevance to anything, though: it's about obscure characters from The Lord of the Rings. Sorry.

Thing 5: toy-based children's television
Did you know, Lego: Ninjago is actually really entertaining? Incredibly strange - it's set in ancient China but the bad guys in episode one are a skeleton motorbike gang, which is something I'm not convinced we could get away with in any WP book series. But Ninjago is also actually pretty funny, inventive and exciting. I have to admit to also having a major fondness for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and laughing out loud at episodes of Bob the Builder more than once.

I've watched all of these shows on Youtube, of course. What is a te-le-vi-sion? (C) Keith Chapman

It's slightly hard to accept that these stories that are explicitly created to sell toys (so much so that Lego Ninjago isn't actually shown on any UK channels because of laws about advertising to children) does not have to be creatively bankrupt. There's something definitely a bit icky about the concept of the ever-expanding merchandising opportunities that go with these shows. Did you know each Ninjago character has three different costumes? And weapons? And a dragon each? And lots of different vehicles and locations and bits and pieces?

I don't think you could argue that that aspect doesn't matter when you're looking at the TV shows that children watch (and they do watch Ninjago, apparently - they just watch it on youtube). But I am actually really comforted to know that as well as some genius business brains wringing every last penny out of pestered parents... there's actually someone behind the scenes writing engaging plots and funny jokes as well. If they're going to be hooked on advertising dressed up as drama, and let's face it, they are... it might as well be good.

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