Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ghostbusters III - Quick ideas

I'm massively excited about the new Ghostbusters film. I think it sounds like a great idea, and one that could be really fun. The new cast members are smart, funny women, and that's exactly what they need to be.

For me, the least exciting thing they could do would be to do a straight remake. I'd rather see a continuation from the original, and see how the Ghosbusters world has changed. So here's my idea for a Ghostbusters III that I'd like to see, establishing a new team and continuing the original. It's a very brief idea, written over my lunchtime, with some ideas from @cethanleahy and @daddymightyzim, who I was shooting ideas with over twitter.

Ghostbusters III - Ghostbusters Inc

In the decades since the original Ghostbusters movie, the original team set up Ghostbusters Inc. It's become a franchise, and a successful one. Our new team is the first branch in a new location (possibly Chicago). It should be remembered that Ghostbusters should be, at least a bit, scary. The team bickers but works together.

The founder came up with the idea of setting up the new franchise. She's intelligent, optimistic, and she's a huge fan and advocate for the originals. When they announced franchising, she's worked and worked to be able to set up for this, and she's set up with one of her college buddies, who is a technical genius. Opening this, and being official ghostbusters is something she's wanted all her life. They've finally made it. They hire a capable freelance former bodyguard hardass, and they're assigned a manager by Ghostbusters Inc to train them and keep them on-brand.

So, that's founder, techie, hardass and manager. Each of these will have their own story.

They get their new equipment. The manager trains them, and is - throughout - uber-professional. Techie is surprised it's so old-fashioned. She starts tweaking it almost immediately, and throughout the movie is constantly making improvements (by the end, they'll have totally new equipment that's similar but much more modern).

Peter Venkman turns up to do some motivation. He's now old, rich and lazy. He's more interested in flirting and telling stories than he is in telling them anything useful. He's rambly and a bit sleazy. They're all a bit icked out. For the first time, Founder has a bit of the gloss of her opinions of the originals tarnished a little.

They get their first call - it's tough, but they get through it. Founder realises they're not playing at this. Hardass enjoys it. Techie's equipment is playing up. She starts improving it.

Ray Stantz turns up to do an early inspection. He's overprotective of the brand and picky as hell. He's critical over everything - although admits he's very impressed with what the techie has been doing. He goes out on a call with them and times them, making everything awkward. Founder gets flustered and upset. Hardass wants to kick his ass. But... they do it. Ray passes them although makes clear it's barely a pass and the licence will be revoked if they screw up too much. He becomes, basically, their adversary for the story from here.

When techie is alone, something starts to happen. Parts of the station equipment start sparking. Monitors flashing on and off. It only happens when she's on her own there. This should be mild at first and slowly get scarier. She thinks she's just being jumpy, though - the readings all indicate everything's normal.

Following a situation where the hardass makes fast decisions to solve a call-out that's going badly, the manager and the hardass continue to clash. Manager's take is that they've got to go by the book to pass. Hardass complains that the job isn't the same every time, and they have to have the flexibility to make decisions in the moment.

As things progress, they realise that the call-outs are getting harder and more frequent. More and more ghosts are turning up. Something is happening.

Meanwhile, techie is working late, and the equipment starts playing up again. Everything is going weird. She starts working on it, trying to fix it. She looks at the screen and they're all saying the same thing.


She doesn't know what it's trying to say, but she's worked out two things.

The system is possessed.

And it's trying to communicate with her.

As a second evaluation, Winston Zeddemore turns up. He's more easy going than Ray was, and talks to the founder - the thing she has to understand about the original guys is that they had it easy and they don't realise that it's not easy for everyone else. He was the first person to be employed as a ghostbuster, and he thought they were assholes. Nice guys, but assholes. Their biggest worry was getting the university funding to do what they wanted. His biggest worry was putting food on the table and they never got that. They're now old rich white guys - not bad guys, but old rich white guys nonetheless. She needs to stop trying to impress them. Concentrate on trying to impress herself. Founder's faith is restored, and she resolves to lose some of the hero worship.

Techie finally realises what the equipment is trying to say. The central containment unit in Ghostbusters Inc HQ is full. It's getting ready to burst. The forces of hell are making a play - they've contacted some of the demons in the containment unit, and they're working together. They're sending out the wrong signals, and harvesting souls. Once the unit bursts, they intend to unleash hell.

She convinces the others, and they go to Ghostbusters Inc HQ. Ray doesn't listen at first, but they convince him when they realise what "Gone" is... it's actually Egon, who has possessed the machine since his death, and is trying to help contain things from within.

Working together, the new team contains the situation - controlling the explosion and then defeating the demons inside the unit. They save the world.

And now, back to work tomorrow...

Each character's journey:

Founder - Naive optimism through to depressed rejection, finishing on assured confidence.

Hardass - Cynical viewpoint, not trusting others easily, through to trusting and caring about her team.

Manager - Stickler for the rules realising that sometimes they can restrict rather than help.

Techie - Connecting with the original Egon, and realising she needs to equally weigh the tech side and the supernatural side of her job.

What they'll come up with will probably be a lot better. They'll certainly have thought about it for longer than I have - but there's plenty to play around with. And that's just a minimum.

Whatever happens, I can't wait to see what they come up with.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Could Conservatives be learning to love coalitions?

As you will doubtless become aware within mere sentences into this blog post, I'm not generally a political blogger. I'm more at home writing fiction or tweeting a strange mixture of silliness and current affairs.

Part of the reason I don't blog politically often is that I tend not to feel overly informed. I do my best, but I assume that I don't understand it all very much.

Which is why anything that follows this can be assumed to be phrased in the sense of a question. It's something of a 'what if'. I'm very possibly wrong about this, but it's something that's been gnawing away at me recently.

David Cameron's stance on the Green Party taking part in the leadership debates is one that brings up conflicted emotions in me. I want to see the Green Party in the debates, but I don't trust that Cameron's doing it purely on principle.

I've begun to think it's possible that the Conservative Party has embraced coalition politics. Because they have a lot to gain out of it. In fact, they make it possible that it could make it more difficult to get them out. We could be stuck with Cameron for a long time.

What if the lesson the tories learned from the last elections wasn't "we need to do better to win the election", but was actually "we don't need to win the election to be in power"?

What have the Conservatives actually lost out on by being in a coalition? It hasn't felt like the Liberal Democrats have stopped them doing much. It hasn't just felt like a Conservative government, it's felt like a very Conservative government.

Part of it could be that the Conservatives are simply very good at negotiating in a way that makes it look like they're losing out while actually giving them what they want. The Lib Dems have talked about reigning them in, but what if they've been in arguments that started with an inflated point? It's classic negotiation. "Oh, that? It's worth £80... oh okay, say £50". You might feel like you've got a bargain, but a lot of the time, the person selling has still got the money they wanted. And they get to complain about how hard-done by they are.

Basically, the Lib Dems have come out of this with no real achievements - at best, they've managed to ward off even worse conservative excess, but don't have much concrete to point towards either. And they've made themselves basically unelectable while doing it (and also failed to have Nick Clegg fall on his sword, taking the heat away from the rest of the party, which seems like such an obvious move to me, that I can only assume that they think they've done a good job).

Meanwhile, the Conservatives may have suffered some dented pride in the way they took office, but they've still achieved a lot of what they set out to.

We assume that they want to outright win, because of pride as much as anything else. But they've been handed a quiet, well-behaved partner that will take as many bullets as they can put them in front of. Which is oddd behaviour.

Obviously, a lot of these conversations and negotiations have happened behind closed doors. But the fixed term parliament was all about stability, which was the big message at the start of this coalition. The other one was oopportunity - for the first time, the Lib Dems had the opportunity to get some real experience in government and have their politicians front and centre in places. A little bit of ego and a little bit of inexperience. That's not a good negotiating position.

But the conservatives don't need experience. They have plenty of that. So they're already in a dominant position, especially with just the numbers. So we've had an austerity program that's ended up feeling more like social engineering.

Sure, they want to outright win the election for pride reasons, but if they do that, they lose the human shield the other party provides.

Effectively, the conservatives may not have had a wonderful experience, but they've not had a bad one either. If I were them, I don't know that I'd be put off coalition governments.

Sure, a lot of UKIP support is coming from ex-Tories, but a lot are coming from ex-Labour supporters as well. I daresay that's a lot more true with the Green party (although I figure the Greens are doing well at the Lib Dem's expense).

As we enter the realm of five party politics for the first time, it makes it more difficult for any party to gain an overall majority. So maybe that stops being the goal, and the goal becomes just making sure you're in a position to be in the driving seat in a coalition.

If you were going to do that, I reckon you'd be pushing for more parties. Because the vote gets split more, and the gamble is that the split hurts your competitors worse than it hurts you.

And that's just a coalition with parties that aren't anything like them. There's the terrifying possibility that a Conservative/UKIP coalition could be a more appealing option.

The chances are that I'm wrong in this, and the goal is a strong majority. But I do think that, at least, the Conservatives have proven to be able to play coalition politics well enough that it may not be the scary prospect for them that it once was.

If I'm right? Then the conditions needed for the Conservatives to consider their position to be 'a win' have lowered quite a bit. And they still get to do a lot of the things they want.