On 2020

on 2020 year in review end of year writing blog pandemic twenty twenty mmxx

I’m starting to wonder, right, if I might be allergic to New Year’s Day. This year and the last I’ve spent throwing up, without any particularly obvious cause the day before to point to as a prompt. So, clearly an allergy then, I suppose.

Anyway, 2020. Easy to strike the wrong note with this one – too glib, too superficial, whatever. I’m conscious also that my experience of the year was a fairly insulated one, on the whole; I never caught the virus, the people I know that did catch it didn’t catch it especially seriously, so on, so forth. On the whole: not the best year of my life, certainly not the worst. (That’d be a toss-up between 2018 and 2019, I guess.) Basically, it was a middling one, which is something I am quite lucky to be able to say. Still, let’s set that aside for the moment – I have no particular insights to offer on those aspects of 2020, and anyway, it’s not like those aspects of 2020 are limited to that calendar year. So, you know, maybe next year I’ll have some thoughts on the pandemic. Maybe even with the benefit of hindsight!

Instead! The usual year in review. Looking back on what I wrote this time last year, about 2019, it’s striking to see how much I was on the cusp of winding everything down. Not unsurprising, exactly; like I said, 2019 was a mess, and if at any given point I don’t want to give this all up and retire then it’s likely been a pretty good fortnight. Still, it’s interesting to see it written out like that, because it’s usually a much more ephemeral, indeterminate thing.

The question at the end of that piece: how can I make this all work, what does it mean for this to work? By any reasonable metric, I think 2020 worked. Several of my highest profile interviews ever; I covered two film festivals (for this website, too, rather than another outlet, which confers a degree of legitimacy onto the whole thing); I wrote more, in terms of pure volume, and I was much happier with most of it as a general rule; I started doing some work with a new website, the Radio Times; I was a guest on my first podcast; this wordpress hosted version of my blog is finally starting to take off in terms of traffic. (Also think I had about a thousand more twitter followers by the end of the year compared to the start, which, you know.)

Obviously, there’s caveats and concerns and plenty of individual frustrations on a day-to-day basis – it still doesn’t pay as much as it used to, let alone as much as it should, for one thing – but, on the whole… 2020 worked, for me, in this one particular way that I’d hoped it would. Which is good!

Going into 2021, I think what I want to work out now is how to do this job – writer, critic, grudgingly maybe at a push “journalist” I suppose – in a way that feels consistent with and reflective of my own kind of personal-moral-ethical-political-whatever framework-and-or-outlook, as it were. I don’t mean, like, “Riverdale’s subtle polemic against the prison industrial complex, my latest for Tribune” – though, you know, if they’re interested – but more… More in terms of everything else, I guess: not just the content I’m writing, but the editorial lines it’d sit alongside, the chain of ownership it’s situated in, the voices it jostles up against. (You’ll be able to guess I suspect that I have quite specific ideas in mind, but I don’t quite want to commit them to writing yet.) I also want to try and be more helpful, I think; I’ve been doing this all for ages now, and I figure I know enough that I might be of some use to people who haven’t been doing it for ages. So, I’ll work that out too, somehow.

Anyway, preamble aside, here’s the bit I’m sure you’re all really interested in: a selection of my best/favourite/other pieces of work from across the past year, arranged broadly chronologically rather than due to any particular preference.

And, hey, let’s also include a couple I would’ve done differently, because that’s always pretty interesting too.

  • Segun Akinola was a very nice guy – I’ve nothing but good things to say about him, both on an individual level as someone to talk to, and on a critical level as the composer for a television show. My interview with him, though, was perhaps not my best. I’d planned lots of specific questions about the more granular details of his creative process, but across our conversation it became clear that he approaches his work more instinctively – I don’t think I did a great job of responding to that in the moment, to come up with new questions more well-tailored to what was saying. Still a reasonably solid interview, I think, but I wouldn’t say I was really able to draw out any particular insights from him.
  • The Spitting Image piece is an odd one. Any 2020 roundup I might do would be incomplete without it – that article is the most viewed piece on my website, after all. I’m a little hmm on it though still; in part because I didn’t ever think it was brilliant (I nearly didn’t publish it at all), but also because I was a bit overzealous in sharing it. Hard to resist – I can spend a couple of hours sharing links on different forums across the internet to a couple of hundred views max, but link that piece in the replies to a Spitting Image tweet and suddenly I’ve hit nearly a thousand clicks in an hour – but I suspect a bit undignified at times. (As some people felt the need to say!)
  • Something to learn from it, mind, in that I think a big part of the reason it did so well was that it was the first substantive left-wing critique of the show to publish. Worth thinking about while I try and work out how to do all this going forward, I suspect.

Anyway! That’s that for this year. No idea what 2021 holds, exactly; more interviews, more reviews, ideally more publications. I’m still trying to be as productive as I used to be, hitting multiple articles a week, which might just be too ambitious these days (in my old age!) – worth a try, though. Be good to try and rack up a few more bylines, maybe do some more podcasts. Hmm.

Tell you what I did work out, though. December 2020 was five years since my first piece was published at Yahoo (and January 2021 is four years since my first piece was published at Metro). In that time, I’ve written – give or take – four hundred professional articles (so, anything not on this website), which is roughly equivalent to an article and a half for a week. That’s pretty neat, I reckon. Pleased with that.

(Oh! There was another question at the end of the 2019 piece, I realise. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out how to make it fun again.” I did, I think. Not consistently so, not quite yet, but there’s been an improvement. Pleased with that, too.)

You can find more of my writing here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. (Though I imagine if you’ve read this post you probably know both of those things already anyway.)

On 2019

on 2019 year in review alex moreland freelance journalist tv

Somewhere along the way, I think, I lost confidence in it all a little.

I did not write a lot in 2019. I checked the numbers – you can do this on WordPress, it’s really cool – and across 2019, I published 42 blog posts, totalling 34, 554 words, which is about half of 2018’s 60, 93 words across 99 blog posts, itself a considerable amount less than those halcyon days of 2017, when I published 240 articles. The numbers aren’t actually all that informative – I mostly post short excerpts of full articles published elsewhere, so I imagine the actual number of words written is much higher – but the trend, I think, says something.

There’s a couple of reasons why, none of which are especially interesting. I don’t have the regular Yahoo column anymore, that’s one. I moved to a different country (well, Wales, and only part time, but shut up, it sort counts), which was, in hindsight, probably a tad more disorienting than I ever really acknowledged at the time. But, in a slightly wider sense, I think I just lost track of why I was actually doing any of this at all.

I mean, it started out as a hobby, more or less. I stumbled into a job – it really only was a lucky coincidence that it started to pay, much as I insist that I’ve worked hard at it since – and efforts to turn it into a career have been elliptical at best. I think, sometimes, that I am quite good at writing; I am less convinced I am especially good at the things that would elevate it from a hobby to a career. Either way, it stopped being a hobby exactly – I am growing incapable of watching film or television without it feeling, at least a little bit, like work – and anyway, the money was never very good at all. Every so often, people on twitter will discuss their rates, the most and least they’ve ever been paid for an article – quite a lot of people’s least was much higher than the most I’d ever been paid.

And, I mean, that’s just the nature of it all, obviously. Journalism as an industry is shrinking: everyone knows print is dying, but look at digital too. BuzzFeed is one of very few actually profitable media outlets, and it laid off how many people this year? How many websites were bought and sold and mismanaged until they didn’t exist anymore? Staff writers are increasingly precarious, let alone freelancers. Everything pivots on how many clicks you can get, how quickly. I’ve freelanced for lots of different websites and publications over the years, but of the three outlets I worked with most, two of them have paid at least partially by the number of clicks I got for articles. (Which, yes, just the nature of it all, late stage capitalism, the Google/Facebook duopoly, I am not actually inclined to criticise either of those websites specifically, but in the general case this obviously is not conducive to healthy journalism. I mean, I wrote deliberately provocative stuff with a view towards getting higher views. Most of the time it didn’t work; one time, I ended up writing one of the most read Metro articles of 2017. That’s fine – well, ‘fine’ – if all you’re writing are relatively trivial hot takes about television, but as that sort of mentality starts to pervade and sweep across journalism more broadly, well, that’s not healthy for anyone.)

Which, you know, ties into the other thing. There’s a need, I think, for freelancers to start to develop a personal brand, to try and cultivate and grow that profile, because that’s the only way you’re ever gonna get those clicks. After a while it gets a little solipsistic, and you’re making spending a little too long thinking about constructed personalities and online artifice, and probably it’s all nonsense in the end anyway… but still. There’s a performance of Alex Moreland, Writer – because there has to be – and it’s becoming less a question of a creative voice, of a critical voice, but of a branded one, and there is something fundamentally very strange about trying to market your own constructed personality rather than your actual work.

I was reading a job listing recently, to be a political reporter – there’s a thought, how much value do I attach to entertainment and culture writing anymore, if I want to write is this still what I want to write – over at BuzzFeed. Not with a view towards anything in particular, I was just procrastinating. But anyway, for this job, you didn’t need a degree or an NCTJ… you needed to know how to go viral, you needed to have a lot of twitter followers, you needed to be good at TikTok. So I have a TikTok now, anyway. I’m not especially good at it.  Hopefully eventually though.

And, look, I am probably being very silly about all this. If nothing else, I still lost confidence in the actual words as written themselves. This isn’t entirely about all the associated ephemera: there was a lot of good old-fashioned writer’s block too.

Still. Somewhere along the way, this year, it stopped being fun. And that’s a shame, if nothing else.

This is not an announcement of retirement or anything, I will still be writing stuff to an audience of tens, you’ve nothing to worry about there. But I guess what I am saying – for myself more than any of you, dear readers – that this needs much, much deeper thought going forward if I’m going to make it work. For one thing, I probably need to figure out what it actually means for “it” to “work”! And hopefully, maybe, I’ll be able to figure out how to make it fun again… because if I’m not enjoying it then, well, what is the point?

So – brief (!) prelude over – here’s the work I was pleased with this year:

And that’s that! 2019, drawn to a close. Hopefully 2020 will bring… well, I’ll skip the traditional targets, if only because it’s getting increasingly dispiriting to look back on them a year later, still unfulfilled.

Hopefully 2020 will be fun.

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On 2018

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The annual tradition! Fourth time I’ve done one of these year-in-review pieces now, and I don’t think I’d ever have really imagined writing this 2018 piece back in 2015. (Not because I didn’t know the order of the years, but, well, you know.) So it’s neat to think I’ve made a least a little nominal progress.

Right, so, 2018. What did I get up to?

Let’s lead, as I did last go around, with my favourite interviews of the year – I actually did these in January, or thereabouts, so they’re as good a choice as any to start a reflection on 2018.

Even if it weren’t for their particular significance, I’d be very pleased with these interviews – certainly, I think among my work they’re in the top tier, with a genuine level of substantive engagement in the questions, a nice level of introspection about the programme, so on and so forth. These interviews in particular, though, are made all the more notable by the fact that they were the first – and actually still only – interviews I’ve ever done in person! That was slightly terrifying, actually, but a lot of fun in the end, and I’m extremely glad that first in-person interview experience was with a group of people who were so attentive and so committed to talking about their work.

In terms of broader writing, there are maybe fewer pieces I’d highlight than I previously would’ve – not because I didn’t write lots of things I’m terribly proud of (I’m proud of them all in their way, even the rubbish ones), but just because I’m trying to be a little bit more exacting in these things. Higher standards, year on year. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to meet them.

My best three of the year, in any case, I think were all pieces for Yahoo (though I think that’s historically always been the case):

They’re not articles about my favourite shows of the year (though A Very English Scandal did make the list) – no, I just think these are the best pieces of work I’ve actually done, in some cases in terms of the actual literal prose, and in others in terms of actually having a good point to argue. (At some stage during the year, I read some writing advice to the effect of “it’s not enough to have an opinion, you have to have a point” – I don’t know how often I was falling foul of that beforehand, but since reading it it’s something I’m a little more aware of.)

Particularly, I suppose, that’s the case with the A Very English Scandal and Genius: Picasso pieces, where I think I’ve got articulated an interpretation of each that no one else did (or at least an interpretation I didn’t see anyone else offer). A few other articles could make the cut – off the top of my head, some others I was very pleased with include this on The Good Fight, this on House and The Good Doctor.

I’m glad, in any case, to have written some articles for Yahoo that I’m genuinely really pleased with, and I think should stand the test of time; my regular contributions there have come to an end, after three great years, and I’m glad to have gone out on something of a high. Well, I say that; in a move I find hilarious in hindsight, I wrote a deeply self-indulgent and mostly awful article about endings, a thinly veiled reference to my own departure. About three weeks later, I returned with the above article about Killing Eve, so it clearly wasn’t that definitive an ending! Still, though, given this is probably going to be the last time in a while I get a chance to talk about Yahoo, I do just want to mention quite how much I benefitted from that position; all this writing stuff has grown into something I never really believed it would, or indeed conceived that it could, and that’s entirely down to Yahoo.

In terms of my own blog, I’ve tried to put a bit more focus on getting some articles on there that I liked. It’s still a work in progress; it’s important to me to try and have ‘exclusive’ content on here, for lack of a better term, so that’s something I’m gonna try and make work again across 2019. (I feel like I’ve said this every year now.) Still, though, there were a couple of good pieces I put onto this blog across 2018 – the most obvious, I think, is when I attempted to engage with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America? and ultimately found it lacking.

Of course, it’d be remiss of me not to link back to Five Years On, the other big reflective piece I did this year. Because 2018 wasn’t just any year, but the fifth year I’ve been doing this nonsense in a row. Still strange to think about that. Not sure I have a lot more to add since the actual anniversary itself; the same thanks still apply – all of them, even to you – and I think they always will. I’m glad I got to five years, anyway. I really hope I make it to ten, in some shape or form.

So, 2018. Let’s try and draw this to a close and properly square it all away. It was… an odd year, broken up into two halves (well, two thirds and another third, I guess) in more ways than one. Again, I’m coming up against my own reluctance to talk much about my actual real life here; most of what defined the year went on around and outside the blog, as you’d expect, but I think spilled into it in a lot of key ways. Ways that’d be obvious from the outside, but not so much the inside. For what it’s worth, though, I think for all the associated nonsense that’s come of certain big choices, I’d probably still make them again.

(Certain big choices, but not all of them. I wouldn’t do that again, good grief.)

Right. That’s about that then. I used to like to set myself some targets for the next year, but I think I’ll opt against that this year.

Better to work it out as I go along.

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On the importance of endings, and why you need to get them right

turning off the tv

An ending needs to offer closure, a resolution to the plot threads, themes and ideas you’ve introduced over the years. If style is simply the mistakes you never stop making, this is the time to embrace those mistakes: remind them why they loved the story, and go out on a high.  If ever there’s a time to be self-indulgent, this is it – refer back to the old favourites and the recent successes, reflect on the first time you got something properly right, but don’t forget the best of your recent episodes. Normally it’s best to ignore the fans, but after all the support they’ve offered to you, it’s worth looking back on all the ones they liked over the years. Throw in a reference or two to the spinoff series your show might have borne – they’re continuing without you, even if they might not be quite the same anymore.

So, here’s a post that has nothing to do with anything really.

Ostensibly, it’s about the endings of television programmes and such, but it is in fact about the conclusion of my weekly Yahoo column, which came to an end after almost three years because of budget cuts. Which is, you know, fair enough, can’t argue with that (and I’m still going to make the occasional freelance contribution anyway, which perhaps undercuts the above more than a little bit).

It was a clever idea, although also very self-indulgent one, and it probably could’ve made for a much better post if I was a better writer than I actually am. At the moment it’s just a bit naff, but arguably maybe a little funny I guess.

Not a bad note to end on though really.

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5 Years On

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So!

Today marks five years since I first started this blog, on the 22nd June 2013. I would’ve done something a little more elaborate to celebrate it, but… well, I kinda forgot. I’m also in the middle of setting up a new website (I was hoping to launch it today, but no luck) so it ended up just falling at the wrong time. I’m not entirely sure what I would’ve done by way of commemoration – I think an ‘interview’ of sorts with Rose might’ve been fun, since I credit her with a lot of the genesis of this whole thing, so maybe look out for that this time next year.

But it’d feel a little remiss to let this occasion go by without remarking on it at all, so I’ve decided to do just that. (I tried to write this straight into tumblr but, true to form, the site ate it. So I’m back to MS Word again.)

It is, I think, not understating things at all to say that starting this tumblr has changed my life entirely. For the better, too, which you probably can’t always say about this nonsense website! I joked about it a little in yesterday’s silly Turn Left thing, but this blog and the effect it had has become inextricable from the person I am today. The writing I did on here grew and grew to the point that it’s now my job, and I’m paid actual literal money for it, money that can be exchanged for goods and services like sandwiches and books and Doctor Who action figures, though admittedly fewer of those than I would’ve bought had the money started rolling in a few years earlier. (That might be for the best.) I’ve made genuine, massive life choices because of that, decisions that can be traced back to the choice to start this blog.

Hmm. Possibly I’ve made some mistakes in life, actually.

More than that, though, I reckon I’m probably a better person by virtue of the time spent here. More considerate, more empathetic, more aware of the world around me. Which isn’t to say I was, like, a horrible person before I logged on to tumblr dot com, or that I’m the best person I could be now, but it definitely had an impact. And I’m glad of that impact – better five years on here than five years on 4chan, right?

As I’ve been setting up my new website, I’ve realised quite how much I’ve actually produced over the past five years. There has been, to put it simply, A Lot – and I’m immensely proud of it all, even the stuff that’s kinda shit.

What’s also worth stressing, though, is that to write All That, I’ve relied on and been granted and benefitted from a lot of support from a lot of people. Obviously, I am pretty great in and of myself, and I don’t want to diminish my own talents in any way – because they are, you know, extensive – but all of you are pretty great too.

Hence the most important part of this post, if you’ll allow me a moment of unironic sincerity: thank you, all of you. Thank you to everyone who read anything, or shared anything, or bookmarked something to read and definitely planned to get back to it later even though the time got away from them. Thank you to my real life friends, and thank you to my internet friends. Thank you to people like IPFreely; despite his best wishes to the contrary, I still haven’t died of cancer. Thank you to Verity, who hired me, twice, for which I’m eternally grateful. Thank you to Taiey and cearothyme and everyone I’ve interacted with on tumblr, despite my being absolutely abysmal at replying. (so, um, sorry, too.) Thank you to Rose and Alexis and Ifunanya and Jessica and each of the three Toms, and thank you to Josh and Louise and Stuart, and, of course, thank you Ellie.

And, I suppose, thank you to whoever I forgot when I made the questionable choice to name people specifically.

Anyway, yeah, that’s that. Back to your regularly scheduled nonsense now, with the next update probably being The Stolen Earth on Thursday. And then I figure I should probably tell the three of you reading this about the new site at some point, whenever it ends up being ready.

Right. Here’s to the next five years. Christ, can you imagine me still doing this in 2023? We’d be halfway through “Eleven Years of the Eleventh Doctor”… and I can’t wait.

See you there?

On 2017

2017 year in review

I am cheating slightly.

At the time, I didn’t actually write a proper blog post to draw 2017 to a close, the same way I had in both 2015 and 2016. Various, boring reasons why not, most of which can be attributed to my own deep, deep laziness.

What I did do, though, was… well, send a friend a very lengthy email with what was essentially a very detailed plan for this post. (See what I mean about laziness?) That, in turn, means that I can largely reproduce what would have been my On 2017 roundup, even though I’m writing parts of this almost a full year later.

Fun that, isn’t it?

***

It would be a lie if I said I thought every article was my best; a lie if I said every article was as good as it could be, even under whatever restraints I was under at any given time. I’m proud of them all, though, even the rubbish ones – which I guess is a bit of a “can’t pick your favourite child” kinda thing. I read some advice from a political journalist I like, where she said that if you’re planning to make a living as a journalist then you have to come to terms with the fact that not everything you write is going to be the best thing you can write. It was something I’d already concluded, more or less, but nice to have it articulated anyway.

Anyway. This always requires a bit of a think back; it’s easy to pick my favourite interviews, though, so let’s lead with them:

Why were these my favourites? Chiefly because I think, content-wise, these ones were just the best. Most enjoyable conversations, most interesting end results. Others are good too, for sure; my as yet unpublished one Mark Mangini, the sound designer on Blade Runner 2049, the lost Jim Frohna interview, the Mark Gill interview, etc. Am I forgetting any? My nice Death of Stalin one, with Christopher Willis – actually, generally speaking, the composers have all been very nice and effusive people. Maybe they don’t get interviewed as often so it’s nice to talk about their craft instead of a chore, I don’t know. I’m sure there’s something I’m missing, some nice interviewee who was terribly polite and accommodating or something, but nothing springs to mind. Oh, a quick scroll back makes me think I had Maysaloun in mind, because we struck up a nice rapport. She was lovely. Hope she succeeds.

[Here I excised a lot of complaints about certain publications and editors I worked with, because, you know, I’m trying to maintain at least a vague air of professionalism.]

Turning to my articles, website by website, not a lot stands out necessarily. My best work for Flickering Myth, I tend to think, are the interviews I conduct, and I’ve already highlighted my favourites of those; my favourite piece of my work for Metro is of course my article on Liar, which I think I will always appreciate for having elicited the response it did, and the knowledge that it did, on some level or another, actually help someone. (Which was particularly meaningful at the time, after a run of weeks where I was questioning the value of a lot of the work I did.)

Which brings us onto Yahoo, where I tried to focus on my best stuff. And generally, vis-a-vis, I’d say my Yahoo output in 2017 was better than that of 2015 and 2016. Which is good. I mean, it’s what you’d hope for, really. I don’t know, I always think my stuff is at least decent, if not necessarily good. Today’s Black Mirror piece was decent, even if the second half probably needed more revisions than I put it through, and my clever hot take isn’t actually that hot when it’s the most obvious reading of the episode. (I liked it a lot, actually, there was a lot that could be said about it. It would’ve helped to get the screeners, to be honest, to have the time to actually go through it, but the spoiler agreement they wanted me to sign would make it literally impossible to write about any of the things that made that episode good.)

So, off the top of my head, what did I like?

I’ve grown less keen on how/why etc style titles, I think; I prefer the ones than stand on their own a little more. Did good piece about Atypical and The Defenders, I reckon, though it’s been enough of a while since I re-read them that they could be utterly abysmal. It’s a shame I’ve not done a proper Doctor Who article all year. Ooh, actually, thinking about it, that Sherlock article about why Mary isn’t dead, the one you liked, that was fairly lit. And my Trump article from January is, I guess, vaguely interesting, if not necessarily incisive.

It would be nice I guess to be able to have a list of my favourite articles that other people wrote, but to be honest I just don’t curate them all that well. Perhaps I will next year.

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On 2016

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I wanted to start with “At least it wasn’t a leap year”, until I realised that 2016 was in fact a leap year – not only did we get an extra day during this ridiculous year, it’s cruel enough to deny me a silly joke.

So, obviously, this has been a pretty horrible year. There’s not a lot of debate there, and I’m hardly inclined to disagree; I also fear that we’re going to be dealing with the repercussions of this year for a long time. Hopefully, we can find the positives in the coming years – and if we can’t find any, we can make them.

On a more selfish note, though, 2016 was actually a pretty great year for me in terms of my blog, my content production, and in fact my writing career – after all, in 2016 I started it. As of this year, I’m a paid professional writer; long may it continue.

I ended 2015 with one job at Yahoo; it was essentially an unpaid voluntary position. Now, however, my bylines encompass Yahoo (now paid), Heart Beings, Flickering Myth, and CultBox. I’m also soon to start a job blogging with the Metro, as a result of the connections I made with Yahoo. Each of these jobs have provided me with new opportunities; I particularly want to highlight Flickering Myth, though, because as part of my work with that website I’ve been able to interview a series of actors, writers and directors about their work. They were fantastic experiences, and I’m really glad to have done them; I’ve learned a lot about different creative processes, but also, to be honest, it’s just a lot of fun.

I’d also like to draw attention to a couple of my favourite pieces across the duration of 2016:

  • As ever, I did a lot of Doctor Who reviews, looking particularly at David Tennant’s first series – my first full series of the show as well. It was a lot of fun rewatching those episodes, not just for the nostalgia, but also the validation – this show is fantastic, and I was right to love it then and still love it now. Two reviews in particular I’d like to highlight are those for Love & Monsters and Fear Her; the former because I think it’s an excellent defence of a much maligned episode I’ve always loved, and the latter because it’s the closest I came to addressing Brexit on the blog. Re-reading it now, it’s an interesting look at how I felt on the day of the result, and how I engaged with it through Doctor Who.
  • Another thing I did this year, particularly during the summer months, was write a lot about Arrow. I was trying, vainly, to set myself up as something of a definitive voice within what was becoming a fairly toxic fandom, hoping to set both the tone of the debate but also the prevailing interpretation of the programme. I did, of course, fail in this regard, and eventually burnt myself out to the point that I’ve adopted a “No Arrow” platform. However, I did come out with some of my best writing; Defined by an Absence, a slightly esoteric and stylised piece which was, if nothing else, an interesting experiment, as well as Arrow & The Disturbing Trend of Fridging Female Characters, a rather more weighty piece that tackled something that, I feel, is quite important. Certainly, I’m quite proud to say that the latter piece was my first paid article.
  • Another article I was quite pleased with at the time I wrote it was Why Diversity in Television is Important, which has essentially remained a thesis statement for a lot of my later work. It’s undeniably simplistic, but I think it makes the important points in a reasonably coherent and cogent manner – and with a lot of what came later in 2016, I think it’s important that articles like this are written, both by me and people who are far more talented than I.

Now also seems a good time to outline some plans, hopes, and aspirations going into 2017. I think, while I’ve been expanding my career and my output, it hasn’t quite been as consistently nor as reliably as I’d like; something I’ll need to do going forward is work on my productivity and general discipline. I’m also a little bit concerned that, despite everything I’ve been doing, I’ve been neglecting this website a little – while I did get it the shiny new URL of www.alexmoreland.co.uk, I’ve also largely stopped posting here.

So that’s something I’d like to change during 2017. Obviously, there are going to be a lot of Doctor Who reviews, both for Series 10 and Series 3, but I think it’d be nice to have more on here in general. After all, it’s perhaps worth taking an evaluative look at just what this site means, and what it’s for; I don’t really want to simply replicate the same content I’m producing for other websites. To that end, then, an idea: each week, in a 52 part series, I’m going to write a post detailing… whatever’s on my mind. Perhaps a roundup of my week, or of my current work, or simply the important concerns that keep me up at night, like Amy Pond’s career progression, or the fact that Harry Potter should have been Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher rather than an Auror. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all develops, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Another style of post I’d like to do more are those of a more creative vein, where I take an existing story and try to improve it. I gave it a go with the Star Wars prequels, which I actually highlighted in my 2015 end of year roundup; I’ve also partially drafted a series of them on Arrow Season 4, as well as Suicide Squad. I think it’s be a good for thing for me to do more often, actually; I think I’d benefit from it more, and frankly enjoy it more, than simple reviews. So expect to see more of those across the rest of year.

And now, to the sound of fireworks, I conclude this post. Despite everything, I must confess, I’m always going to remember 2016 fondly; it was, after all, the year in which I proved to myself that I could take writing further than just this blog. The year I realised that dream, and realised that I could make this work. That, in the end, I had the talent and the drive to make sure this would all more or less turn out okay. (And, of course, I’m humble too.)

This is to be my 902nd blog post; recently, Grammarly emailed me to say I’ve written 639017 words since I first downloaded it back in July. It’ll be interesting to see how I compare to that by the end of 2017 – a year which, I expect, may come to define me even moreso than 2016 has.

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On 2015

on 2015 twenty fifteen end of year roundup blog update alex moreland handwriting

So, we are now in 2016! I think by this point everyone in all of the timezones should have reached the new year, yes? It’s all a little arbitrary in any case.

Nonetheless, it is a good marker point for reflection! So I figured I’d pick out some of the posts I was most proud of across this past year, because I love taking any opportunity I can to talk about quite how great I am… More seriously, though, I do think that things have gone quite well this year with the blog, and I’m pleased with how my writing style has developed and etc.

Everything in bold is a link to the referenced piece; thus we’ll begin with…

Doctor Who

  • I think my Series 9 reviews, particularly the latter three (Face the Raven, Heaven Sent, and Hell Bent, and ) were amongst the best reviews I’ve ever written. Typically they’re more analytical and focused, and have a better prose style than earlier things I’ve written.
  • One post I’m particularly proud of was my Masterlist of Doctor Who Cast and Crew who support a female Doctor. I kept getting quite involved in debates on the topic, and in the end I did a fair amount of research on who did and didn’t support the idea, and so we ended up with the list. Almost 80 names, comprising actors, writers, directors and producers attached to new, classic and EU Who! (On a related note: Very pleased with my trailer for a hypothetical season of Doctor Who with Natalie Dormer as the Doctor)
  • There’s also this particularly personal post, entitled Some thoughts on Doctor Who fandom, and what Doctor Who means to me. It is, essentially, a response to the more aggressive and cruel “fans” who exist, and why they are The Worst. It is, obviously, entirely superfluous – everyone knows these people are the worst – but I wanted to write my own take on it.

Superhero Stuff

  • This particular review of The Flash 2×06, Enter Zoom. I think it’s one of the smarter reviews I’ve written; I tried to use a non-linear structure, to reflect the way the episode itself is structured. Also, incidentally, I had this one published on the Yahoo TV website – writing for that site is something I’m quite pleased about!
  • Also, this review of Supergirl 1×03, Fight or Flight. I’ve really been enjoying Supergirl, and I’m more than a little disappointed that real world obligations have meant I’ve not been able to consistently review it, but I think with this particular review I did a decent job of articulating some of the series’ main strengths at this stage in it’s development. (I’m glad to say it’s improved further still in the five weeks since that review!)

Books & Writing

Movies

  • Both of these are with regards to Star Wars, and indeed with regards to rewriting Star Wars (oh, I’m so arrogant). The first is Rewriting the Prequels; I’d like to think I managed to create a narrative for some potentially better films. And, similarly, some thoughts On the Identity of Kylo Ren; for fear of spoilers, though, no more on that one. (He’s Jar Jar.)

So! That’s that, then. Obviously more I could pick out (I’m really great), but I think for now these are a pretty good selection.

Hopefully, when 2017 rolls around, I’ll have some more posts to highlight. Here’s to a good year!

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Yahoo!

yahoo new logo purple logo blogger network alex moreland

So, this is announcement that is of note: I am now also writing for the Yahoo TV website.

Essentially, it means that every I write for this blog will also go on a bigger website with a larger audience first. It’s more of a cool thing for me than it is a significant impact on any of you, but it should explain somewhat why my posts have been a little late over the past week or so (I’ve needed to sort out a few things with Yahoo first, basically).

You can follow the Yahoo blog here (I needed to make another tumblr to post to their website), and see the posts I’ve already made for them here. But I’m about to post them on my normal blog anyway.

So… yes. Normal service shall now resume.

A few idiosyncratic observations from my Great American Adventure

america boston massachussetts

I have spent this previous week in the American city of Boston! (Not, as I learned, the American state of Boston. Boston is the city, and Massachusetts is the State.) ‘Twas an enjoyable trip, in fact, and I have decided to blog about it, in the classic format of… a list.

  • It’s really, really hot over there. Like, gosh. That was something I struggled with.
  • Huge amounts of flags, aren’t there? I counted approximately 220 while I was over there. Never seen that many Union flags here. Come to think of it, actually, I saw more Union flags over there than I have across several years here. (Union rather Union Jack because it wasn’t flying at sea)
  • Airport security was surprisingly strict. I got a pat down search on my way out of the UK, and that was a bit out of the norm for me – then in America they took fingerprints and mugshots. That was a bit of a shock.
  • The street signs have a red-light hand to say ‘don’t walk’, which i find acceptable – but the sign to walk was a white-light man, rather than a green one like in the UK. This is probably the most inconsequential of all my observations, but I prefer green, to be honest.
  • So many Starbucks’. I was expecting the predominant chain store to be something like McDonald’s (I went there; they did not ask if I wanted it supersized), but no, it was Starbucks, followed by Dunkin Donuts. (Krispy Kreme is still superior)
  • Lots of parks! All these lovely great big open green spaces. If it wasn’t so hot, I might have been more inclined to spend time in those green spaces. Still, it was nice to sit on the benches and look at all the statues. (Why are there so many statues?)
  • I went to MIT, and also to Harvard. Harvard had nicer grounds, but MIT is probably a better tourist attraction, because you can actually go in it and look around the college.
  • There was also, rather wonderfully, free performances of King Lear in Boston Common. They’re doing those until the 9th, so if anyone here is in Boston, give that a look. Make sure you sit near the front though, it’s quite difficult to follow if you’re far away.
  • On books, the covers don’t reach the end of the page. That was weird and irritating.

All in all, though, ‘twas a nice place.

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