Must-see TV
June 29, 2005 2:53 PM   Subscribe

"Global Frequency" is out. Many of you have likely heard of Warren Ellis, a prolific blogger and decent sci-fi comic writer. Turns out that WB turned his comic into a TV series, then shelved it before airing. Well, some dedicated souls got the pilot out for all of us. It's available now via Bit Torrent and is well worth watching.
posted by mystyk (36 comments total)
On a side note, be sure to check out his edison hate future image series too.
posted by mystyk at 2:56 PM on June 29, 2005

The Torrent ain't working for me.
posted by dobbs at 3:01 PM on June 29, 2005

I've noticed that site gets a bit loaded at times. If the page won't load, just try again after a minute.

If it's a problem when you click the download button, it's because they use a download script that redirects the DL to the .torrent file.
posted by mystyk at 3:05 PM on June 29, 2005

Do not, however write to Warren about the series or the effort to get it on the air. In fact, limit your attempts to contact our fearless leader.

We have knives, we follow orders, and he has no mercy in his black black soul.

In Warren We Trust.
posted by BeerGrin at 3:06 PM on June 29, 2005

I would like to see tranmetropolitan animated in some fashion...i like what global frequency stuff i've read though.

Sadly I do not have my own computer right now, so the torrent and most media are beyond my reach for now...
posted by schyler523 at 3:10 PM on June 29, 2005

BeerGrin wins.
posted by daq at 3:11 PM on June 29, 2005

I'm holding out on the winner tag until I see a MeFite's picture sporting the W tattoo.
posted by mystyk at 3:13 PM on June 29, 2005

So, just to be clear, this is a front page post that advocates copyright infringement and recommends methods for achieving it, yes?
posted by Galvatron at 3:18 PM on June 29, 2005

mystyk writes "I'm holding out on the winner tag until I see a MeFite's picture sporting the W tattoo."

I have no tattoos, just filthy filthy brain blood and head bones.

I love my headbones.
posted by BeerGrin at 3:26 PM on June 29, 2005

and take away the stabby stabby thoughts.
posted by hototogisu at 3:33 PM on June 29, 2005

Actually the more interesting angle here is the fact that a junked show may just get produced because it has become popular from its illegal distribution.
Yet another example of how free distribution potentially helps to successfully launch digital entertainment. Lessons for the powers that be.
posted by peacay at 3:46 PM on June 29, 2005

I would like to see tranmetropolitan animated in some fashion...

Noodlesoup Productions (the folks behind the awesome Venture Bros. cartoon) did a animated flash pilot a while back.
posted by handshake at 4:07 PM on June 29, 2005

It’s beautiful that the torrent also includes a .cbz file with the original comic.
Is this the convergence everybody was predicting last century?
Be careful, everybody, I think Galvatron is wearing a wire.
posted by signal at 4:10 PM on June 29, 2005

Four years ago, when Warren came barnstorming across America and did a signing at Golden Apple Comics, my friend Burke and I went and paid homage: we gave him a bottle of whiskey (Maker's Mark, I think). I was so stoked when he unwrapped the offering and laughed, "Oh, good boy!"

Either WB's marketing department is behind this whole thing (and, therefore, fucking brilliant) or they're a bunch of thumbless jack-offs who don't know a good thing when they see it. Show me your thumbs, teevee execs! SHOW ME YOUR FUCKING THUMBS!
posted by RakDaddy at 4:24 PM on June 29, 2005

It's a very good piece of one-hour TV, but it's a pre-edit version. That is, were that episode ever to have aired, about ten minutes would have had to have been cut, and I don't know how good it would have been with those cuts.

The acting and writing were sharp, and Michelle Forbes is the hotness.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:28 PM on June 29, 2005

This pilot kicked-ass. I wrote a review of it over here. No spoilers, just a public flogging of WB's cowardice.

I've been slumming in Wil Weaton interviews recently and his brand of wisdom applies here:
I absolutely hate that what passes for Sci-Fi in movies much of the last ten years is really just the action movie formula with laser guns and rockets instead of machine guns and motorcycles.
I believe that there are two vital things missing from the film industry today: the first thing is a willingness at the studio level to take risks. As Hollywood's consolidated, and studios have been bought up by multinationals who don't make movies as their primary product (Seagrams, Sony, etc) the industry has become very risk-averse, and if you're not willing to take risks, how can you be truly creative? That's why we see the same old dogshit repackaged year after year. The head of a studio can stand up and say, "We made you X dollars with Mega Crap Blockbuster last year, and this year, we'll be giving you Mega Crap Blockbuster II: Electric Boogaloo! Lindsey Lohan is attached, so we'll make 2.5X dollars!"

The second thing missing from movies is even worse: story. We say it all the time: "If it's not on the page, it's not on the stage." When a studio spends 20 million dollars on some currently-hot celebrity and pays the writer 50K . . . well, we get what they paid for.
On the off chance that I haven't, I'd like to once again observe that Tom Cruise is one of the most over-rated, worst actors in history, and Michael Bay should not be allowed near a film set for the rest of his life.
Thus, WB and UPN and FOX and SlyLie pass on 'Global Frequency', yet everybody gets to savor Jenny McCarthy's new sitcom.
posted by vhsiv at 5:26 PM on June 29, 2005

So, just to be clear, this is a front page post that advocates copyright infringement and recommends methods for achieving it, yes?
posted by Galvatron at 3:18 PM PST on June 29 [!]

i know, right? isn't it awesome?

joking aside, the pilot wasn't that good, but it's great that we get to see it at all.
posted by jimmy at 6:21 PM on June 29, 2005

I have a tattoo of the circle design from the first arc of The Authority -- does that count?
posted by aaronetc at 6:27 PM on June 29, 2005

If the WB plans on never airing it and doesn't intend on making it available on DVD, why does it matter if people download it?
posted by drezdn at 6:38 PM on June 29, 2005

Please, there's no need to lecture me about how great copyright infringement is. Lord knows I loves me some infringin'. But I also care enough about this (high profile) website that I'd rather not see Matt getting bogged down with a bunch of cease-and-desists. I think it's obvious that large-scale sharing of this pilot will either benefit Warner Bros. or at least cause them no harm... but TV networks are not always prone to acting rationally, and they may very well litigate.

But this post is still here, so maybe Matt doesn't give a rip.
posted by Galvatron at 6:53 PM on June 29, 2005

Galvatron says nothing about the ethics of copyright infringement. The fact is that there is a copyright infringing link in a(n?) FPP. Since there's nothing I can find on MetaFilter that explicitly forbids that, but it's definitely not encouraged and may in fact be illegal, he's rightly concerned.

On preview: Galvatron can speak for himself.
posted by Monochrome at 7:08 PM on June 29, 2005

I just wanted to add another voice of endorsement to the "Global Frequency" pilot. I downloaded this show from my favorite BT site and watched it over the weekend. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

I suspect the reason WB rejected GF was that it comes off as "too intellectual." First, there's the whole idea of an intelligence network of knowledgeable people connected by advanced cell phones. Next, we have all those scenes with Aleph and Amanda Zero watching a bank of computer monitors. Then we have one of the field agents being a multi-degree'd savant. And finally, there was an Average Joe detective, presumably the audience viewpoint character, who was still smart enough to make some Sherlock Holmes-style deductions on the fly.

GF will turn off people who find thinking difficult (or impossible) and who are scared by bright characters and/or modern technology -- i.e., people who run tv networks.
posted by bshock at 7:28 PM on June 29, 2005

I see your point Galvatron, but since far more egregious things have been left standing, I wouldn't worry too much.

Having read the comic, I don't think it would make a very good network television show. It's only got roughly two repeating characters.

It might make an incredible HBO show.
posted by drezdn at 7:32 PM on June 29, 2005

If it's that big of a threat, Matt or Jess can remove the link from the post. If not, leave it. I'm guessing you've already flagged it, so let them decide.
posted by mystyk at 7:36 PM on June 29, 2005

The screenwriter also has a blog. If you skip past the W-bashing there's several entries detailing his amazed reaction to the Global Frequency phenomenon, starting with this one.
posted by O9scar at 9:56 PM on June 29, 2005

That was suprisingly good.
Phone relay girl speaking 6+ languages was pretty awesome.
posted by juv3nal at 11:26 PM on June 29, 2005

I watched it, thought it was adequate, meaning it might induce me to watch a second episode, but maybe not, depending on whether I was currently involved in watching another series which I enjoyed more.

The only truly enjoyable television Science Fiction I've watched in the past 15 years is the new Doctor Who series, which I've also had to watch via Bittorrent as no networks have deigned to pick it up here.
posted by Chasuk at 12:39 AM on June 30, 2005

Yeah, that wasn't bad. I mean, it's a bit ridiculous that the GF members who get prominent screen time happen to be a ruggedly handsome man and a hot blonde. I also wonder about the transition from comic to tv show. The beauty of the series was that there were different people each issue. Will tv audiences watch a show with new characters every time? It seems like they are setting this show up to be about Flynn and Finch with the occassional helper, in which case it basically turns into another X-files. Is that really necessary?
posted by papakwanz at 8:22 AM on June 30, 2005

The only truly enjoyable television Science Fiction I've watched in the past 15 years is the new Doctor Who series

Not to put down the Doctor, but have you seen the new Galactica? Good shit, IMO, but the mileage, she varies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:14 AM on June 30, 2005

Finally watched it. It's certainly got potential, but it was pretty shabby writing and acting for mine. There's no way in hell I'd describe that as intellectual entertainment though. There's been a bunch of shows and movies incorporating much more convoluted and involved premises than the pedestrian mechanics described in the show as global frequency.

Some of the camera work was a bit iffy, but not too bad. Maybe a new director?

I'd love to see that pilot trashed and involve another writer to make it more realistic, less 'saving the world' shtick and tone down the blatant elitism and positing of sexual charm. It's totally unconvincing or at least cliché ridden. Speaking of which, that opening scene was straight from Blade Runner -- with the Asian food/counter. Heh.

But I'd watch it if they cleaned it up and had a swag of good writers involved - even if only a little swag.
posted by peacay at 8:08 PM on June 30, 2005

Not my cup of tea but if shows like Buffy and X-Files can have fans I am shocked this thing didn't get picked up. Sure, it was a bit... shakey, but it's a pilot. Still got it's baby fat. I'm sure it'd come together real soon if aired.
posted by dobbs at 7:32 PM on July 1, 2005

solid-one-love, does that mean you Canadians put up with 25 minutes of commercials per hour? Here in the states, 44 to 46 minutes of program is the norm, and 45 minutes for this syndicated show is right in the middle of the ballpark. So, for the US, this show is already cut to time. I thought Canada had less adverts, not more? (And yes, I do edit shows for broadcast, if you were wondering.)
posted by mboszko at 11:08 PM on July 3, 2005

Every hour-long network TV drama I download is in the 40-42 minute range. This show was just over 45 minutes without beginning or end credits. My figure of 10 minutes that would have been cut may have been a little high, but not by much.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:17 PM on July 3, 2005

Every network's a little different, I guess; plus, who knows what's getting cut out when you download a show. Still, the "Final Sales Version" should be to time-- just without commercial breaks or credits. Add another 30s there for the credits, and the titles probably would have been over picture at the top of the show, and likely no separate open with title on the pilot (which a lot of times doesn't come together until the 2nd episode). So, a little long, maybe. Maybe they would've let the pilot air long. I stand by my assessment it's cut to time, but I guess we'll never really know.

What I would like to know is who leaked it-- Doesn't seem likely it'd be someone at Riot, but... who knows. I guess it depends on whether it died in focus groups, or somewhere after, when there'd be screeners out to critics.
posted by mboszko at 11:41 PM on July 3, 2005

plus, who knows what's getting cut out when you download a show

I do -- nothing, from any show in my collection. I don't keep shows that have been cut.

I guess you can hold any opinion that you like. Opening titles typically run 50 seconds (why would you suggest that titles would have been over picture?) and end credits about 30; this still puts GF at more than five minutes longer than the longest FOX or WB hour-long drama in my collection, and as much as eight minutes longer than many.

The GF Pilot was long.

Whay I would like to know is why this is so important for you to be right about (and you're not) that you would feel it necessary to e-mail me about the subject.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:15 AM on July 4, 2005

Follow-up: GF was never screened to critics or focus groups before its leak. WB just rejected it wholesale. Warren Ellis hasn't even seen the show.

There's a lot of conflicting info. John Rogers, the screenwriter, claimed that the WB had released the pilot back to the studio. And then he later said in his blog "First off, any WB lawyers, it wasn't me." These statements don't appear to correlate.

Whatever. It's not like the fanboy wet dream of the show getting picked up elsewhere is ever going to happen.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:23 AM on July 4, 2005

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