Day 260: The Groot’s On The Other Foot

Guardians, OutlanderStar Trek and Tiger Feet in a very rambling instalment of the 365-day charity challenge.

September 17 main

Do you really love my (Onitsuka) Tiger Feet? Is that my first glam rock reference in Sole Of Sci-Fi? Groot doesn’t seem particularly impressed.

One of the ironies of Guardians Of The Galaxy, surely, is the one Groot toy that everybody would really, really like, would be considered a spoiler if it turned up on the shelves at your local supermarket. If you’ve seen the film you’ll know what I mean; if you haven’t, you’re safe here – I’m not giving away anything here.

On an entirely different note, anyone else remember the Star Trek: Next Generation episode “Tapestry”? Aside from hardcore fans I suspect not, as it’s rarely named as one of the classics. That’s not to say it’s loathed, like, say, “Genesis”. Anyone who’s seen it usually likes it; it just rarely makes anybody’s Top 10 episodes.

It’s not just in my Top 10; it’s in my Top Three. I love “Tapestry”.

stat trek the next generation tapestryIn case you can’t quite recall it, it’s the one that’s vaguely based on “It’s A Wonderful Life” (though it’s not festive) with Q (for some never explained reason) playing the Clarence character, offering Picard the opportunity to change a crucial moment in his past.

I remember watching it the first time it was shown in the UK, instantly impressed by the episode’s wit, emotion and clever structure. Something about its “message” also chimed in with my life view. I clearly recall laying in bed later that night thinking, “I wish I wrote for a magazine in which I could enthuse about episodes like that.”

That, of course, later happened, and I’d like to think that my time on SFX was always motivated mainly by my need to enthuse about the sci-fi I loved rather than bitching about the sci-fi I didn’t. Ironically, I’m probably best remembered for mercilessly taking the piss out of Charmed, Crime Traveller and Syfy’s Flash Gordon, but I always had more pleasure writing about new shows, books and films that impressed me, and I desperately wanted to encourage other people to watch or read – Farscape, David Gemmell’s Rigante series, Dark CityWolf Blood. I like to think that even when I was being negative, I tried to find something positive to say. And when – as with Crime Traveller and Flash Gordon – it was difficult to find anything positive, I slated them in broad strokes, with tongue-in-cheek, rather than continually nit-picking and moaning.

(I’m sure you could find examples to prove that I could bitch with the best of them – any of my Tarsem Singh movie reviews, perhaps – but that was never my main modus operandi.)

Of course, if Star Trek: The Next Generation had started broadcasting 15 years later, the first time I watched “Tapestry” I would have just gone online to rave about it. Because the internet has created a generation of instant critics, all desperate to get their views heard. But strangely, 90% of non-professional online pundits seem to feel the need to moan, gripe, whinge and pick everything to pieces until, surely, the while fun of watching a TV show or reading a book is completely stripped away.

There’s also a widespread assumption of ownership; pundits who judge a show on the basis of, “Would I do things this way if I were running the show?” This is especially the case with that “difficult second season” syndrome. If a new show’s a popular hit, then it usually has a honeymoon period for its first season. But while on hiatus, the new “fans” have nothing to discuss except where season two will go. They come up with their own theories and ideas and plotlines and developments. Then season two arrives, does none of those things, and forums are suddenly full of posts about how everything’s gone Pete Tong – “our ideas were better.” (Admittedly, in some cases – cough * Heroes * cough – the problem is that the show simply cocked up, but with things like Being Human and Lost the criticism seemed way out of proportion).

It sometimes makes being a sci-fi fan a very dispiriting experience, as no matter how much you like something, any internet search will mainly unearth people (in blogs, or forums, or comments section) whinging about that self-same thing. Even if you do find a forum full of like minded people, you’re constantly trolled by people desperate to remind you that 99% of sane people know that this show is utter crap – get a life.


What’s spurred all this? No, not reading reactions to “Robot Of Sherwood”. Not, in fact, anything on the internet at all.

I was watching an episode of a show called Outlander. Ronald D (Galactica) Moore’s new show about a woman from the mid 20th Century transported back in time to Scotland during the Jacobite rebellions. The first few episodes were okay, if a little soppy. Episode four was great. Episode five was even better. And episode six was… phenomenal.

I felt an urge to share my love of it with you. And I was transported back to my rented bedroom back in 1990-whatever, laying in bed, thinking about “Tapestry”.

I suppose that weird old weave and weft of the tapestry of my life.

See you tomorrow.

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• Current total: £1,200 

• Remember this is all for charity, so any pennies or pounds you can spare PLEASE DONATE BY CLICKING HERE.

• Follow me on Twitter to make sure you see what trainers I’m wearing each day.

• If you have any trainers you could donate (either on loan or old pairs you’re getting rid of) which are size 9 (ish – I can do anything  from 8 to 10) contact me at so I can arrange collection.

• Please, please, please leave comments below! I’m after ideas for mini-challenges, future photoshoots and how I can find enough pairs of trainers!


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