Shiny Shelf


Post of Christmas Yet To Come

By Shiny Shelf on 27 December 2010

Next year I’m mostly looking forward to the sixth season of the regenerated ‘Doctor Who’. This isn’t that surprising: I’m a ming-mong; if I’m not looking forward to ‘Doctor Who’, I’m probably dead. But there are several reasons I’m more excited about it than normal. One is that the production team has broken with recent tradition and kept the same cast in place for two seasons running. They also didn’t wrap everything up neatly in the season finale last year, meaning that 2011 should bring the answers to a few lingering questions (What is the silence? Who is this River Song person anyway?).

All of which means that I’m not just anticipating the show in the abstract, I’m wondering how the _story_ will play out: something that’s par for the course in most dramas, but surprisingly alien to ‘Doctor Who’. That, plus the decision to split the series into spring and autumn seasons, makes it unusually difficult to predict what we’re going to get. I’m rather looking forward to finding out.  Jonn Elledge

As a sucker for both ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ my guilty pleasure next year is likely to be ‘Battle: Los Angeles’. There’s every chance it will be dire nonsense, but I’ll give anything with Aaron Eckhart in it a chance. I’ll also give ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ a shot, mainly because some screenwriter has obviously followed the Harry Hill formula to its logical conclusion (“I like cowboys, and I also like aliens. But which is better?”)  ‘Thor’ is probably the blockbuster I’ll most likely make it to a cinema for (though that still makes it fairly unlikely overall) and ‘Paul’ gets a mention, primarily for the brilliant if obvious – joke on which the trailer finishes. Otherwise next year’s cinema schedule is the usual roster of bafflingly pointless remakes (‘Straw Dogs’, ‘The Thing’?) and sequels.

I’m too traumatised by the cancellation of ‘Rubicon’ to look forward to any TV next year, which means my viewing will follow its normal pattern: hear about a new show, get over-excited about it, mainline the first season greedily, get worked up about a sequel, discover it’s been cancelled. At least there’ll be ‘Sherlock’. Steve Lavington

Traditonally the spirit of Christmas Yet To Come should combine anticipation and dread; it’s appropriate then to report one of the things I’m most looking forward to is something that I also fear won’t actually happen – the final series of ‘Agatha Christie’s Poirot’. This series has been running on and off since I was at school and ITV was still good. Star David Suchet and the gradually shiting teams of writers and producers have now worked their way through very nearly all of Christie’s Poirot stories.

After Christmas Day’s splendid (and bleak) adaptation of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ they have one more special in the can (‘The Clocks’) and, depending on how you count it, half a dozen or so stories to adapt. Suchet himself has frequently quoted six as the number remaining, presumably counting the four novels ‘Dead Man’s Folly’ (1968), ‘Elephants Can Remember’ (1972) (both of which pair Poirot with Ariadne Oliver) and ‘The Big Four’ (1927) and ‘Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case’ (1975) both of which, like the as yet untouched play ‘Black Coffee’ (1930) feature Poirot and Captain Hastings. There’s also a book of short stories, ‘The Labours of Hercules’ (1947) which would prove difficult to adapt, except as a series of one hour episode, but which Suchet is presumably including in his count (there’s also another rogue short story ‘The LeMesurier Inheritence’ (1927) but that’s both slight and rubbish).

What I can’t shake is a creeping worry that ITV will fall at the final hurdle; adapting the whole Poirot “canon” has been a gargantuan undertaking but ITV is not one tenth of the institution it was when the series started and ‘Orient Express’ only scraped 4.2 million. These productions are expensive and have been made in blocks of four for a while now, with ITV increasingly reluctant to put up their share of the cash. With six to go are we looking at two blocks of three or a larger block of six? Will ITV scrimp and insist on skipping ‘Black Coffee’ and ‘Labours’, keeping the number down to four? Or will the ratings failure of ‘Orient’ mean that despite all the work done and Suchet’s determination to become the only actor to play Poirot in a version of every story Christie wrote about him, ITV simply decide they can’t be bothered.

That would be ridiculous, but ITV is run by idiots these days, so it can’t be ruled out.  Jim Smith


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