I'm also recording an interview on Monday with Radio 4's The Film Programme, ostensibly to talk about Pudsey The Dog The Movie, but I'll be sure to get some Found Footage pluggage in there. I'll let you know when it's being broadcast. There should also be an interview up on Polygon very soon. Again, I'll let you know.
And cheers for your own feedback. It means a lot. I've worked on this for over a year now, one way or another, and it's nice to know that it hasn't just disappeared into a void. I'm also pleased that people are properly getting into the ongoing mystery now, and trying to decipher the deeper story elements. That's going to ramp up a bit in the coming weeks. If you want a sense of where it's heading, make sure you watch the trailer for the finale. And share the heck out of it.
Meanwhile, on Digi... next week I should have a review of the Super NES Classic for you. And now? Tickets (letters), please!
If you would like to appear here, or you've something you'd like me to give some attention to in our occasional Plug Zone, please send your filthy emails early to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I spotted this tile on my Mother-in law's kitchen wall and thought of you. Also, I noticed it says "For all pens" on the label, which made me smile, because (as I'm sure you know) a female swan is called a pen.
Come to think of it, that's probably why they chose the name "Swan Ink" in the first place. All this talk of pens made me think of a joke:
Man with sword: "What is mightier than my sword?"
Nude man: "My pen is"
Loving your work,
I have two kids, aged five and three. Among the things I try to teach them is respect for animals and that, even the annoying or creepy ones (except moths, of course - we kill those carpet-eating bastards on sight).
So when confronted with a spider, I now have to pretend to be all unconcerned and remove it from the house with the old glass & card trick, rather than going with my instincts which is to kill it with a shoe. Actually, we usually just leave spiders alone nowadays, because they eat the bastard moths.
But, y'know, instead of dealing with a fly by unleashing a canister of neurotoxin on them, if the kids are about I'll open a window and try to waft them towards it with a magazine, saying stuff like "There you go, Mr. Fly! You got lost in our house, did you? Let me help you find the way out". Respect for living things, innit? Stewardship of the planet, and that.
Anyway, there was a fly on the kitchen wall this morning, just sat there. I hadn't had my morning coffee, and without thinking, splatted it against the wall with my hand. Opening the window seemed like too much effort. My kids, aghast, said "You're supposed to help it to find a way out of the house!".
Searching for a suitable justification for my tiny act of murder, I replied "I did help it find a way out - via Brannigan's Vortex".
I got some odd looks.
Anyway, hope you liked the letter, yeah? You can print it if you liked it. Or not. It doesn't really matter. Okay, bye. Yeah. Bye.
To my regret, I usually try to help moths out of the window, but always brush off their magic dust accidentally, and then they can't fly anymore, and I end up mercy killing them, and feel bad every time.
But... flies. I hate flies so much. The thing about flies is that flies are disgusting because they hang around on poo, and if you're not constantly moving around they'll land on your face and spread their poo germs onto you. Flies can all rot in Hell as far as I'm concerned. Or the Vortex. One or the other.
Another week, another Found Footage triumph.
Just one thing.
Did you, even just for one second, ever consider making it a bit more, well, commercial? The liberal elites that make up the Digi audience will love it but will it play to those for whom great comedy is Mrs Browns Boys or The Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late, Late Breakfast Show?
PS. Iain Lee with a beard is well fit.
While you were out, that water dispense unit kept knocking on the door. Let that sink in.
I missed that Nintendo are set to release a Zelda mobile game sometime late this year/early next year. Surely this can only be a good thing? I enjoyed Super Mario Run - which is getting a new set of levels on the 29th - and wasted a couple of hours on Fire Emblem, which I was surprised to hear has been far and away Nintendo’s biggest mobile success.
I really hate it when you have to start buying gems/crystals/Sedgewicks to make tangible progress in a game, but I suppose that’s what the mobile format is all about. A lot of casual sexism, too. One of the female characters in my latest time-sink (HAWK: Freedom Squadron) shows her arse to the player every time she’s on screen. What’s that all about? (I think I know what it’s all about.)
Anyway. Any good mobile game recommendations while I wait for Zelda to come out? Anyone?
1. The more that I think about it, the more I feel that The Last of Us is the best game ever made. Let's forget the fact, for now, that applying objective terms to a subjective medium is fatuous, but while many games have made a big impact on me, often for years afterwards, there's something about TLoU that stays with me as no others have.
Some criticise it for being all story, which is clearly unfair but it excels in ways that games generally do not. The gameplay is enjoyable, tense and brutal in a manner befitting the, admittedly contrived, situation the characters find themselves in.
I think it is the characters more than the story that haunt me so - they are rounded humans, unheroic and flawed. I wasn't sure about the ending to begin with but I found myself not wanting to save Ellie because of the cost of other people's lives - how many games can make you resent doing what is the point of most?
2. Many speculate that so-called E-Sports will become huge spectator events in the future - arguably they have already. I foresee their popularity growing certainly but I question how big they can become when, unlike many real sports, there is generally only one tactic/character/style that wins in each game.
Obviously that is a generalisation but not many people win Street Fighter tournaments with Blanka or T-Hawk. The most popular sports are those where there are many ways to win or to play successfully and due to the nature of computer games, I feel that this will limit E-Sports' potential. Do you have any thoughts on this?
3. Do you have any thoughts on the Chinese Room 'going dark' as they put it. I admire their work a lot, probably more than I actually enjoy it, but I find their situation frustrating. I do understand their desire to do something else ,but their argument, if you will allow me to be reductivist, is essentially that 'we' should pay them to make a totally different sort of game from the ones that we like from them. That is admirable but I'm not sure what they expect from customers.
4. As for what is going on in Found Footage, Xenoxxx Industries take their name from the Greek word meaning strange/foreign and the XXX is added to trick us into believing that they are producers of strange adult material. I take a different view, however. I think that Xenoxxx is actually a heroic organisation set up to save the world from Sir Clive Spectrum and Steven Wozniak.
The image of the masked coroners is of a corrupting alien artifact that turned Woz & Clive into Mediterranean-style perverts who wish to use the emerging computer technology of the time to corrupt the minds of children and adults alike. It seems likely that bad sausages, perhaps from Scotland (calm down, Reverend Campbell) are used as the vector for the mind-controlling substances that turn people into crazed anti-Amiga zealots.
Xenoxxx's main facility was destroyed in a past conflict by the minions of Woz & Clive Sync (sic) leading them to recruit a group of special individuals to lead the fightback. The Tea Prancer's tea helps to halt the spread of infection but the true cure is the Goujons of Goujon John.
His seemingly evil appearance is a cover story to make sure that his cure does not gain the attention of Wozniak and C-Live before he has built up enough fit and healthy Goujonians lest the Games Animal Dave Perry be set upon them with a Mario 64 cartridge. Either that, or maybe it's an elaborate marketing ploy for Sensorium Girlybox's next Xmas single.
2. If you'd asked me some years back, I'd have said that e-sports would never have taken off in the way that it did. Now, though, the most popular videos on YouTube are just of people playing games. I used to hate the challenges on Games Master, but I've come around to the idea. As with most things on YouTube, it's kind of dependent on the personality of the YouTuber - and as such, I think that's the best way for e-sports to get more of a foothold; build the personalities, turn them into wrestler-type figures.
3. I read about The Chinese Room, and it's quite a sad situation - people losing jobs, stability, and the company's bosses are clearly exhausted and frustrated by the development process. I think it's entirely their right to make the sorts of games they're drawn to make. And, of course, development isn't cheap, so it only makes sense that they'd ask for people to hand over monies. Which nobody is obliged to do, of course, and it's what the best crowdfunding is for; you're investing in that person, and trusting in what they make with your money. Please back me on Patreon.
4. Well. Interesting theory. Get thee over to Brannigan's Vortex on Facebook, where there are even more interesting theories, and attempts to unravel the mysteries of Xenoxxx...
Explain the reasoning behind the recent change to your Twitter profile picture. Differentiate between pragmatic and emotional reasons.
There's nothing beyond just trying to entertain. Though... it was weird, really. When I was trying to get Twitter verified the other day - because, apparently, the big playas on Twitter don't take you seriously unless you're in their exclusive club, and it'd be nice if at least one of them tweeted about Found Footage - and played the "drama" out on Twitter itself, a lot of people took it at face value. Do I need to let off a klaxon when I'm being serious, so you all know?
A time of mystery.
When you done your review of old Master System art you reminded me of an old mystery and how it was solved.
It was solved by a hedgehog. A blue one.
The arrival of Sonic heralded the end of an era. It was a time of two schools of thought. The first believing that the correct pronunciation of Sega was See-gah. The leader of this merry group was called Neil. Neil would invite me to eat at his house and play John Maddens Football. Dinner would involve his older brothers repeatedly farting in my face and all over my food.
Gaming would involve me being repeatedly beaten as I complained loudly about not knowing what the rules are and how they wouldn't explain what the buttons did.
And also long arguments against the trio about how pronouncing the benevolent Japanese gaming companies name 'Say-gah' was an idiotic view that only compounded the fact that I was a 'bad meff'.
You can only imagine the relief and joy that accompanied the short moment after the insertion of the Sonic cartridge and sliding the power on button.
"SAY-GAH". Unmistakable. Irrefutable. Crystal clear proof. The mystery was solved at last. And, most importantly it indicated that I may not be a bad meff after all.
I felt at that age that gloating was not the thing to do. Silence was key. My lack of delight in being right was the ultimate revenge, right?
Well that's the problem. That's the sort of thing a bad meff would do. I had an opportunity to win for once and assumed that staying silent was the best thing. What an idiot.
So I'd just like to say, "HAHA NEIL! WHOSE THE BAD MEFF NOW? EH? WHERE'S YOUR SEEEEGAH MEGADRIVE NOW, SON? EH?
Anyway hope you're having a lovely day.
After watching each episode of Found Footage I increasingly notice seagulls. They are watching me. They are monitoring my every move. Additionally, I no longer live anywhere near the coast. Could these feathered entities be Xenoxxx employees?
Yours truly (concerned),
I'm sending this via my hospital bed after recovering from 'unexpected surgery', this time on my ankle again, which is what they were supposed to have fixed the first time round a few weeks ago. I asked them why and all I can remember them saying was that is was due to 'unexpected complications'.
Why is everything here always unexpected? Apparently they did tell me what was actually wrong but I sort of glazed over because I was more interested in watching the Pied Wagtails darting around on the grass outside. I like Pied Wagtails; you can see them actually accelerate when they start running.
I've had a pretty rotten time of it the past few months and to cap it all off not only did I leave my laptop in my Smoking Brother's car when he dropped me off but he can't pick me up today because his fiance gave birth this morning so I'm going to have to catch buses home - that'll be fun with two crutches and a sports bag that I forgot to attach the over-the-shoulder carrying strap to.
There's no way I'm paying about £40 for a taxi - I once got a taxi from Devon back to home. £450. With hindsight I should have asked him the price before he set off. Still, £450.
On the plus side I am in my own private room. I have no idea why, but I have my own bathroom, can turn the lights on and off and even control the temperature. I set it to SUPER COLD.
The old duffers in here moan like buggery when they walk past my room because of the draught but that's my payback for their use of the call the nurse button continously through the night...Oh, that and their habit of breaking wind so very loudly no matter who is present. They can't ALL be suffering from the same 'condition'.
I really want to go for a pint when I get back but I can't walk into town and there will be no buses after 8pm. Suppose I'll have to get a taxi.
I am unfit but still strong and that is all,
P.S. Look what I can see from my window!
With all this "Found Footage" malarky, my darling children have decreed Mr Biffo to be be my favourite "sheep-potato".
Well, they say "Ewe-Tuber".
But there you go.
Yours in unending gratitude.
MEANWHILE, UNDER THE BRIDGE...
Last week in the letters you disclosed whence you came across Goujon John amongst others. This reminded me of a question I wanted to ask about Found Footage.
That is found footage almost exclusively men? We have Goujon John, Flansy C-Bong, Armstrong Wong, Benji Coleslaw, Starboy 5000, Music Chute guy, Swan paints guy, etc.
All of the songs have a male vocal and are often about men, all of the cartoons feature men. I don't think an independent surreal comedy internet show needs to hit diversity targets or anything. But if you gender swapped all the characters, people would probably think you were doing a Ghostbusters. That is, making everyone a women for the sake of it.
What really brought this into focus was when I visited Fiverr, and see just how many women there are offering the same services as men.
I understand when it's people you know they can't help being men, but there are a lot of outside hires, so this must be a deliberate policy.
I dismissed rampant misogyny as the reason, so what could the reason be?
Do you not feel women are as funny as men? Do you have trouble writing female characters? Do you have trouble asking women to do embarrassing things?
I ruled out the last one, as you have multiple kids I think.
Maybe it is your experience working in film and TV that has taught you to extend an old adage to "Never work with children, animals, or women."
All that said, Sunday's episode of FF featured 3 womens I think it was. The lady in the shoppe, Funtron 8, Dirty Chaps voiceover. So maybe all the women are back loaded into the later episodes.
Anyway I have to get the dog in now.
P.S. I'm not sure seeing behind the curtain of where you found GJ was a good thing.
After finding him on twitter I was disappointed he is isn't tweeting out Found Footage as part of his portfolio.
Bottom line is: a lot of women worked on Found Footage, including my other half who has been part of it every step of the way. There have, in fact, been women in every single episode, and Violet Berlin herself is one of the stars of the finale.
But - yes - as I've said before, I'm frustrated that I've yet to get more of them in a main, on-camera, speaking role. It wasn't without trying, but I didn't have the resources to cast the show in the way a proper show would be cast, so I would have to ask favours of people, and enquire whether they knew anyone who might fit with the style of Found Footage. It's just the way the cards fell this time.
And as for asking whether I have trouble writing female characters... well, I've worked in TV for close to 20 years, and wrote two long-running series starring Dani Harmer. So... y'know. Don't be stupid.
Well, blimey. Found Footage grows more fiendishly intriguing with every episode, deftly blending the silly and the sinister to smashing effect. D'you know, I haven't looked forward to seeing the next episode of a show so much in absolutely ages.
Fave moments from Whimsy Rodgers, aside from the eponymous soggy flesh-orb, include Goujon John's Olde English Goujon Shoppe (the Goujon Swan is truly a work of art) and the masterfully nasty downward spiral of Do You Remember This? - which is one of the best fusions of horror and humour I've ever encountered.
Things billed as "comedy horror" almost never accomplish the feat of being funny and creepy at the same time; they tend to swing from one extreme to the other, and the switches of tone can be jarring.
Do You Remember This? genuinely had me chuckling and wincing simultaneously, and I think it may be my favourite bit from the entire series to date. Also, the intro song (complete with decreasingly enthusiastic "Yeah" each time round) is just perfect. Top stuff, Mr B!
The numerous clues as to the conspiracy lurking behind everything, meanwhile, have set my brain pinging like a haunted microwave. The straight-up mention of interdimensional travel, in association with the mysterious Brannigan's Vortex, does seem to indicate that we're looking at transmissions from an alternate version of Earth where things have gone badly awry with society in general; then again, perhaps they're from our own future at a point where we need to escape to another reality in order to survive.
Either way, it appears that the act of travelling through the vortex isn't wholly compatible with remaining human-shaped, or even meaningfully alive (if Whimsy Rodgers and the fate of poor Yuri are anything to go by), and Xenoxxx Industries seem intent on conditioning viewers of their broadcasts to accept the idea of being "reconfigured" for the journey, while also trying to make them as paranoid and discomfited – and yet compliant – as possible, so they'll acquiesce to making the trip.
Have we glimpsed the man behind all this? Is the caped weirdo with the moustache and the big mop of curly hair none other than Lord Brannigan-7 himself? It's impossible to know for sure at this point, but he's clearly a significant figure in the sinister goings-on; he looks to be overseeing the Maskies' experiments, and his face appears in the background during the "Obey, Behave" sequence in A Song For Boys Only.
And what of Goujon John? It's surely him we see being tinkered with in the laboratory, but to what end? Did Xenoxxx create him, or did they try to change him in some way? I'm undecided, but whatever the case, I get the distinct impression that things haven't gone according to plan where GJ is concerned.
It seems he's addressing the Xenoxxx bods directly with his ominous line, "You should never have activated me", and he shifts momentarily into some sort of virtual form when he says it, perhaps indicating that he's breaking free of their control. Could Goujon John actually be on the viewers' side? It seems so unlikely, and yet...
Goodness, this has gone on a bit, hasn't it? I shall call a halt at this point before your monitor collapses through the desk due to the sheer weight of letters within this e-missive. Suffice it to say, I'm keenly anticipating episode four!
Anyway, hats off to Chris Jerden-Cooke for his Do You Remember This? theme, and the decreasing enthusiasm in his "yeahs".
Dear Mr Biffo,
Hope this letter finds you well. Really enjoying FF!
Have consoles as we know and love them had their day?
Imagine only being able to watch Star Wars if you had an LG telly. You’d spoil your own pants!
Okay now imagine only owning a PS4 and not being able to play Mario Odyssey on it.
And imagine going into GAME or whatever and seeing hundreds of games, old and new, compilations, all kinds of hardware from all manufacturers that all play nicely together proudly touting their USPs - portability, 4K, retro styling… you name it, sister!
Imagine being able to recommend a game to somebody and them being able to play it without buying old hardware or getting all nefarious on the web’s high seas.
Imagine a game developer being able to invest in one version of their game and being able to take that to one big fat market?
It’s easy if you try!
The business model is stale like left out bread with a fly on it sicking up on it.
Anyhow. Remember now: there's another ep of Mr Biffo's Found Footage going live on Sunday night at 9pm UK time, and I'll be watching it with you. Looking forward to what you make of this one...