Are you on the Global Frequency?

Yes, I have a list of things to do, but this pre-empts it all.

For I just saw the ‘Global Frequency’ pilot…

Envy is a lot like love; there seems no greater compliment than recognising that feeling in yourself and wanting to act upon it. The people and things that I envy hold a special place in my heart. I want to be like them or act like them or produce things just like them.

‘Global Frequency’ (TV) inspires envy.

I never read the comic series; Warren Ellis became a little displaced in my reading list after he started going on about his crusades in the industry. I like my authors to be mostly invisible; as I learnt more about Douglas Adam’s the man the more tarnished his creation became. So I left Warren to his devices and, now I think regrettably, I never read the GF mini-series.

(I will rectify this shortly.)

Having never read the series, however, probably makes me a perfect candidate for watching a 45 minute pilot. With no real background in the material I could ask all the right questions and expect the answers to be delivered satisfactorily (and be annoyed if they were not).

They were.

Oh, but they were.

‘Global Frequency’ is a series about an independent covert operations team, lead by the mysterious Miranda Zero, whose operatives are well-situated ‘normals’ like ourselves. Normal people are capable of extraordinary things, and the Global Frequency is the link between all these operatives and the transpiring events that everyday citizens are never meant to know about.

It also completely and utterly legitmates the owning of a cellphone for the first time in human history. If I hadn’t had one forced upon me by fate I would be going out to buy one tomorrow (I still might; I need a phone with better gadgets).

Shot in glorious widescreen in what appears to be a sutbly washed-out set of colours, ‘Global Frequency’ is well-directed, well-shot, well-lit and, most importantly, well-written. It moves along at a cracking pace, sets up its exposition in the context of action, defines characters by what they do as well as what they say and really just sets an impressively high standard for pilot shows.

Pity the series will never likely be made, then. As it stands all we have and all we will ever likely get is this one 45-minute block of glorious TV. The victim of a mangerial change, ‘Global Frequency’ was never quite given the chance to live. Even this one episode shouldn’t be with us; leaked from its production company by unknown agents, it lives on the ‘net in a completely illegal form.

Yet, I will say, this is the best hour of American TV in quite some time.

(And this is from the man who thinks that American TV should have given up trying to do better with the advent of ‘Wonderfalls.)

But, like all strong feelings, nothing is above criticism.

I loved ‘Global Frequency’ (TV) and will sing its praises for evermore. However (that had to be coming, didn’t it?) I can foresee problems had it gone to a full series. Miranda Zero is too able and too powerful; I imagine they would have come up with some weakness or personal agenda that would either incapacitate her in some way or make you question her motives. It’s too easy to write good, powerful characters and simply escalate them with every episode (Warren Ellis covered this in ‘The Authourity’ where he eventually had the Authourity kill God because that was the supreme act of escalation). Good character writing requires ups and downs, and this really shouldn’t be a criticism, I am now thinking, because it isn’t clear what would have happened next.

Also, the girl scientist wasn’t really nerdy enough. I know Science Major nerds and they don’t act that way. Not really a script issue but possibly an art direction and casting choice that may have needed some rejigging. Minor stuff, I know, but when faced with a product this good the minor stuff seems to matter all the more.

(Note to self: never look a gift horse in the mouth… And get a few new cliches as well.)

Also, I think it might be wrong of me to be having lusty thoughts about Aleph. She looks about sixteen…


Josh says:

Interestingly, I see that Warren Ellis has gone from saying that he won’t discuss Global Frequency to saying that he *can’t* discuss it. Is this significant?

HORansome says:

It probably means that his contract for ‘Global Frequency’ gave away the screenrights (with certain caveats) and that as the property belongs to the studio he can’t do anything with it (it being the TV version; I think it unlikely that Warren Ellis gave up all media rights to the franchise). Having read a little on creator rights in re American TV this is likely to be a case of hedging his bets; he can probably say a little but what that little is is likely not well defined.