Stuart Heritage doesn’t like The Big Bang Theory. Stuart Heritage absolutely hates that people like The Big BangTheory when he doesn’t and they won’t do what he tells them and not like it, because Stuart Heritage is a wanker and go fuck himself anally with a rusty hacksaw.
I think Stuart Heritage should be cancelled. Imagined what he’d feel like if I went on about it as much as he does.
I’ve met self-entitled four-year-olds who are not as big a baby as Stuart Heritage.
Jesus, they ask people to contribute to support things like this.
The cynic in me says that this was always going to be about getting Sisko back and, given that I’m feeling overtired and unwell at the moment, I’m not in the mood for being manipulated in the fashion laid down by the end of season 6. Nor am I in sympathy with the big reveal that was made over the course of this two-parter, which I knew to be coming but which seemed ultimately to be too cheap an explanation for why Sisko is the Emissary.
Fortunately for all concerned, there were three stories over the course of the introduction to the last season, an A and two B’s, both of substantial proportion, and giving a substantial part to everyone in the cast. This included newcomer Nicole de Boer, replacing Terry Farrell as Dax, Ezri Dax to be specific, in a pretty blatant move to be about as different a Dax as can be.
Three months have gone by and Sisko has gone nowhere. Kira, newly promoted to Colonel and celebrating by adopting a new and hideous hair-style, is still acting Commander of DS9, her latest headache being the Federation’s decision to grant the Romulans a military HQ on DS9, even though they’ve got no right to. Though Senator Cretak at first presents as pretty amenable for a Romulan, enlisting the Colonel to put in for a Romulan med-base on a deserted Bajoran moon, it’s just your pretty standard Romulan treachery since they immediately set-up 7,000 missile launchers about it, provoking a Cuban Missile Crisis knock-off when Kira decides to blockade the place.
Meanwhile, Worf is mourning Jardzia for rather longer than Klingons do, forcing Vic Fontaine to continually sing ‘All the Way’ (oh dear God) and smashing up the holosuite. Chief O’Brien nobly goes three bottles of bloodwine with him to learn that it’s because Jardzia didn’t die fighting, she won’t go to Sto’Vo’Kor. The only way to secure this is to win a glorious victory against overwhelming odds in her name. Bashir, O’Brien and Quark (oh dear God) go with him.
As for Sisko, he’s playing the piano and peeling potatoes (for three months?). Finally, the baseball rolls off the piano and when he stoops to pick it up he has a vision from the Prophets, of uncovering a face in the sand on Tyree, a desert planet. Mission on. By indirect means, Sisko discovers that the face is that of his mother, his real mother, Sarah, not the one he’s always thought of as his mother until now. Sarah was his Dad’s first wife, his real, true love, who ran off inexplicably as soon as Ben was born. She’s dead now.
Having fanatically hidden her existence from her son all this long, Joseph Sisko cracks and gives Ben a locket she left behind. A locket with an inscription in Old Bajoran (my, we’re just piling on the cliches here, aren’t we?). The inscription translates as Orb of the Emissary, a lost Orb, so hey ho and the three generations of Siskos head off to Tyree where it’s obviously buried, though not before a Pah-Wraith worshiping Bajoran cuts Sisko’s stomach open to no lasting effect.
And just as they’re closing the restaurant to head for the spaceport, there’s a knock on the door, and it’s a cute little, fresh-faced Starfleet Ensign, whose cute black hair-style conceals most of her Trill spots: enter Ezri Dax.
Thee new Dax is obviously going to be comic relief to begin with, though there’s a serious explanation for her goofy gabble. Ezri never wanted to be joined, but when the Dax symbiont took a turn for the worse, post-Jardzia, she was the only Trill in town so, fifteen minutes of pep-talk later and everything changes. Ezri’s confused as hell, and looking to her two-lifetimes friend Benjamin to help her get her completely new feet on the ground. Off to Tyree? Bring it on!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Worf’s mission is not going well, though ultimately it’s a winner, and whilst I’m tired and being sarcastic because of it, Worf’s dedication to his lost wife is genuinely moving, despite all of Quark’s efforts to fuck up the tone. And Colonel Kira’s trying to bluff Senator Cretak into backing down, only, Romulans being smart buggers, she knows that and doesn’t intend to.
So Sisko’s party tramps unmercifully across the desert in pursuit of the buried Orb, Sisko’s only idea of where it may be being that he’ll know when he finds it. Or when Ezri throws his baseball away (another twist we couldn’t see coming). Did did dig dig dig, and there it is.
And another twist that I was very much not in sympathy with, as Sisko suddenly turns back into the half-mad Fifties SF writer, Benny Russell, the creator of ‘Deep Space Nine’. Benny’s in what the times would call the looney bin, his doctor trying to cure him by getting him to stop writing these stories. He’s writing in pencil on the walls (that actually was every single synopsis of very episode so far, written out on the walls of his cell, with Dr Wykoff – Casey (Demar) Biggs – trying to get Benny to whitewash over them.
That this had a perfectly logical explanation, that the Pah-Wraith was trying to get Sisko to rebury and smash the Orb, didn’t occur to me, which shows what a state I’m currently in: it just seemed like an unnecessarily clever-clever throwback to a story I’d been very dubious about to begin with. But Sisko holds out and opens the Orb.
A presence streaks from it, crosses space, roars past DS9 and re-opens the Wormhole, expelling the Pah-Wraith from it. We’re back in business. For Sisko, there’s a vision, a vision of the Prophet that was his mother Sarah, or rather which occupied her to ensure Sisko was born, at what cost to Sarah, Joseph, Benjamin himself. He’s the Emissary because he’s half-Prophet. Oh, really. How cheap.
And the re-opening of the Wormhole inspires Kira to carry out her bluff and win, because the Federation makes the Romulans back down.
So everyone returns to DS9, happily,including the new Dax in Town, whose day will of course come next week, when I hope to feel much more receptive to the next episode, or maybe have that be a bit less – ok, a lot less – clumsy and blatant in some of its ideas. Sorry about this. At long last, we’re on the home straight. I am starting to want the finish line to arrive.
Utterly magnificent. Treme has always been a thing of parts, co-advancing but without links beyond those of the natural interplay. When a creation is deliberately made that way, we look for the sum of the parts to exceed the whole, a phrase that automatically categorises the individual parts as weak, unsatisfying. But this first series has from the first been one where the whole equals the sum of the parts, and each part in itself has been magnificent.
This extended (80 minute) first season finale was a things both of endings and beginnings, but the endings predominated, and Khandi Alexander as LaDonna Batiste-Williams and Melissa Leo as Toni Bernette were superb as women struggling with loss, and having to stay in control. We began with Toni, trying to contain her fear, reporting Crei as missing, and not being allowed to continue in denial long, as his body was lifted from the river. Toni’s innate intensity burned all the stronger, the more so for having to allow daughter Sofia to scream, deny and mourn.
Midway, there was a scene where Crei’s abandoned car was found, in the car park. The Police moved in, but the sympathetic Lt Colson gave Toni time, privacy and permission to take anything personal.
Even before she got into the car, found Crei’s jacket, and his wallet, Toni was close to cracking as each and everyone of us would. Melissa Leo incarnated the pain of loss, the utter confusion that lies beyond it as you struggle to imagine what it even could be like without them, and to find in that wallet Crei’s last message, was beyond bearing, and she ran because there was no other choice betwen that and falling apart.
LaDonna was different. LaDonna had already experienced her loss, her brother’s death in the system. She’s been in control throughout, has had to be. Someone always has to be, to steer the ship onwards, do the things that have to be done whilst everyone else gets the release of grief, helplessness, even hysteria. LaDonna elected herself into that role, the price of which being that you can’t crack up, you can’t just give in to loss and pain. You enable everyone else to do that, but you have to be strong and hold your emotion in.
It’s part of why she won’t authorise the second autopsy on Damo, won’t dig deeper into why he died, who was responsible. LaDonna’s carrying the eight for everyone and at the funeral, we see her struggling, and how hard a fight it is, to keep composed, to be the one around everyone must circle, and not to collapse because you can’t bear it an instant longer.
This led to a confusion in one viewer: mid-ceremony, a mobile phone rings as we focus on LaDonna, a phone out of nowhere that no-one seems to answer. It’s not immediately clear but this ushers in an extended flashback, to the day of Katrina, the hours before Katrina. The division between present and past is deliberately blurred from the outset by having Janette arrive home at her parents, having seen her leave in the present before this begins.
For this flashback is mainly the run-through of everything Toni and LaDonna learned about Damo’s fateful day, but it expands to show everyone else we know, preparing and not-preparing for something that will change everything. These are our cast of characters, before they were affected, and as we see these glimpses of Before Disaster, we get time to recognise them as the people we already know. We are who we are, our natures don’t change that much after experiences like Katrina.
But LaDonna are Toni are not the only one in this episode, and there are indeed some endings, and maybe-beginnings, among this departure.
Janette is going back to New York, despite all Davis McAlary can do. He demands a day off her, a day in which to persuade her, by giving her N’Awleans in all its irreproducable glory, to stay. It’s a glorious day, and we find ourselves starting to like Davis, which I wouldn’t have bet on nine weeks ago. He goes back to work at the radio station, accepts and follows the rules, to raise money to record a CD of his music, he spends all this time and effort to keep Janette here, not for his own selfish and lustful reasons, but because he genuinely believes in New Orleans as no better place to be, and in Janette as someone who is in place here.
It’s fun, but it’s all in vain. Janette’s booked her ticket before the Day. Jacques delivers her to the airport. Delmond Lambreaux’s there too, returning to New York now that St Joseph’s Day is done and the Indian Tribe under Albert has performed, without incident (more or less), and we see her back at her parents, but this is with Katrina brewing, so has she left or have we been fooled?
We like Davis even more by the end. Annie’s had to move out of her lodgings because the girl whose place it is is coming back. She goes back to Sonny, only to find a naked, tattooed girl in their bed. Sonny has to pull on pants to run after but she just walks away, back to him, not listening, not looking back. They have coffee later, try to sort out their relationship. Annie makes clear to him that she needs to play with whoever she wants, and he must accept it. We’ve already see her just chatting to the character Steve Earle is playing, whilst he’s writing a song. She’s putting herself down, a player not a writer, fearful of trying to sing her own compositions, but spontaneously she provides a couplet, sung sweetly. In the cafe, Sonny admits she is the better musician, and that’s she’s leaving him behind. “I wasn’t,” she says, and the past tense ends the conversation: he gets up and leaves.
Later, we see him composing, until frustration and rage causes him to smash his portable keyboard. He hits a bar, scores and sniffs cocaine, is last seen stumbling around at night, a calamity looking for somewhere to happen.
And Davis comes home after his Day for Janette to find Annie sat on his porch, his Party flyer in her hands. He said to come round anytime, can she crash. What did I do right? Davis wonders rhetorically, and you know I’m wondering about that too. He has a sofa. He can sleep there, she can have the bed. Endings. Beginnings.
All endings are beginnings unless you die. The Indians marched, in all their marginally compromised finery. They marched, in abandoned areas, with few followers, doing their traditional thing with due pride and dignity, into the night. And then three patrol cars, lights flashing, pulled up before them. Trouble was brewing, the threatened trouble, Albert the marked man. But a sergeant appeared, sent the cops home. Respect. Dignity, for once on both sides.
Albert achieved his goal, of marching on St Joseph’s Day. It’s an ending, but only for what was wanted. There is more to do, more to bring home.
The only one for whom this closing episode had no even temporary resolution was Antoine Batiste, spending most of it rehearsing and playing a gig with/for the legendary Alain Toussain, and not even in New Orleans. The music went well, but Antoine developed an itch for poker, and lost most of his $1,000.00 fee to his fellow players.
So Treme ended, for a season, in the only way it could end, without endings, just temporary pauses and not necessarily pauses either. I’ll be starting to watch season 2 next Thursday. That’s seven days of disciplining myself not to check imdb or Wikipedia: has Janette gone or not? Please, no spoilers.
The fact – the idea! – of Accrington Stanley achieving their first ever League promotion, in the fiftieth year since they reformed, would normally be cause for joy and celebration. The only club to ever fold during a league season, to have their results and records expunged, the club that started again from the utmost bottom, in the days before the Pyramid and an organised route to rise again, the club that became a national byword for failure and ignominy thanks to a callous reference in an Eighties Milk commercial, the club that operates on the lowest of budgets in the entire League, will play next season in League One: the third tier.
It’s the epitome of what we oldies still recognise as the romance of football, as heart-warming a triumph as Leicester’s 2016 Premiership title. It’s got to be good. But I have mixed feelings.
Though there’s no connection between Stanley and the Accrington FC who were founder members of the Football League in 1887, this club is effectively on its third life. Accrington FC lasted five years, enough time for the League to add a Second Division, and resign rather than accept relegation to it. Three years later, it folded mid-season.
What had been Stanley Villa, from playing on Stanley Street, adopted the town name. They were brought into the Football league in 1921, as one of twenty clubs from various regional leagues across the North of England, to provide geographic balance after the League created a Third Division by absorbing entire the Southern League First Division. The new Division became Third Division North.
Accrington Stanley were a nothing team, achieving nothing but existing. In 1958, they finished in the top half of Third Division North, which meant that, when the two Regional Divisions were merged to create a Third and Fourth, Stanley landed/stayed in the Third Division. But after their second season, they were relegated to the Fourth Division and, in 1962, the Club’s financial difficulties forced it to resign from the League, with a quarter of their fixtures unmet.
In 1966, after four seasons in the Lancashire Combination, including the Club’s only ever promotion, into Division One, they disbanded.
The present club, officially Accrington Stanley 1968, was formed in 1968, at its current ground. They started at the very bottom, (re-)entering the Lancashire Combination in 1970. They progressed to the newly-formed Cheshire League Division 2, the North West Counties League and the Northern Premier League, before winning the Premier Division title and joining the Football Conference.
The club’s current success is usually credited to a massive financial windfall: the club sold a player to Blackpool with a sell-on clause of 25% of any subsequent fee: when he was signed by Blackburn for £2,000,000, Stanley netted a cool half million.
They completed their return to the Football League in 2006 by winning the Conference.
Already, this is a massive vindication for all such clubs who reform. Whatever the circumstances, however remote the possibilities, everybody dreams, no, longs, for the moment when that once important status is attained. And now Stanley have won their first ever League promotion.
It’s everything the story could be. The Club that came back, the minnows who are punching massively above their weight, and a Lancashire team to boot. What’s not to like. Unfortunately, my feelings a re mixed. You see, I’ve been to Accrington Stanley.
All told, I made, I think, four visits during my Droylsden years. On my first visit, I was fed a completely specious line of bullshit by our manager’s father, about forthcoming scientific disaster, arriving within the next eighteen months (this was 1996).
That’s not Stanley’s fault, but the treatment I received on my last visit was.
There’s a strike against the Cub in that their management team, then and now, is the combination of John Coleman and Jimmy Bell, who I first encountered as player/manager/coach at Ashton United. Let’s just say there was more than a mere local rivalry there.
But by the time of that last visit, I was a long-established match reporter for, first, the freesheet Tameside Advertiser and then the paid-press Tameside Reporter. And I occasionally supplied match reports to the Manchester Evening News when their non-League staffer, Tony Glennon, was elsewhere.
As a match reporter, I got a Press Card, entitling me to free access to the ground. The first time I had presented it, away to Barrow, I’d been a bit nervous about it being accepted and having to explain myself, but there and everywhere I was just waved through. Until Accrington.
I wasn’t expecting any trouble. I’d been using my card for about five years by now, without the slightest murmur, and suddenly I was being confronted, with an undertone of anger, at the turnstile. Where had I got this from? Taken aback, I explained my ‘status’, including that I happened to be doing the Evening News that day. This was also denied: I couldn’t be, I wasn’t Tony Glennon.
This was rapidly getting serious. I was being treated as a criminal, trying to scam my way in, and I wasn’t getting my Card back. Instead, I got taken to the Secretary’s Office, where I went through the whole thing again.
Eventually, Barney Quinn off our Committee was called through, and vouched for me on the spot. With very bad grace, I had my Card returned to me, and was allowed to go in, but I also got told that if I wanted a Press Card I should have got one from them. Why, when mine had been good enough for years, everywhere? Because they were Accrington Stanley.
It left a very bad taste. Later that season, the word went round that Stanley had refused the Burscough kitman access to the ground, even though he had all the Burscough team’s kit!
One of the joys of non-League football is how friendly it is. We support our terms but we’re all in this together, and we recognise each other as the enthusiasts we are. Some places are less pleasant than others: the worst I ever went to was Farsley Celtic, in North Leeds, where the whole afternoon had a nasty atmosphere I never encountered elsewhere, though Bradford PA’s crowd could be a bit hostile. But we accepted each other as equals.
Not so Accrington Stanley. They weren’t the only former League club I visited: I’ve already mentioned Barrow, and I also went to Workington Town, and they weren’t up themselves the way Accrington were. We are Accrington Stanley, and the unspoken part was that they didn’t see why they should have to put up with the likes of us.
I haven’t been back in a decade, and it may be that they’re not like that any more, but then again they are now and for the last decade have been where they believe they belong so there’s no grounds for the attitude.
But it prejudiced me against Stanley. So with one hand I can congratulate them, and admire their success, but I can’t celebrate it because my lasting impression of them is as… well, let’s not use the word, but you can choose your own.