Silk and Amphetamine (Casanova Companions)

something for the weekendTo an attentive Divine Comedy fan in the mid-1990s, it would appear that Neil Hannon was releasing EPs under two banners: the Companion and the Indulgence. A record is a Companion when it’s associated with a particular album, and an Indulgence when it’s not. A Promenade Companion is clearly a satellite in the orbit of the album Promenade; meanwhile, Indulgence No. 1 is slightly more mysterious, and seems to exist for its own purposes. All very good. In 1996, however, this nascent classification system experienced some turbulence when someone decided that the three singles from the album Casanova would each be subtitled “A Casanova Companion”, followed by a number. As such, the number of Divine Comedy records with the words “Casanova Companion” in the title is… six.

I know. Bear with me.
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A Multi-Doctor Manifesto

apprehensionMulti-Doctor episodes are the best. Strangely, however, there seems to be some confusion about this. A sizeable contingent of fans hold that those Doctor Who episodes in which incarnations of the Doctor meet one another are “indulgent” and “complicated”; that they should be saved for the occasional round-numbered anniversary, and rationed out like sugary sweets. This idea is poisonous buzzkillery, and its adherents have lost their way: multi-Doctor stories are the lifeblood of the show, and we can never have too many of them.
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And Never the Bride (Casanova)

casanova divine comedyIn 1996, The Divine Comedy entered their imperial phase with Casanova, the album that finally broke Neil Hannon into the mainstream. Together with its immediate precursors, Liberation and Promenade, it forms the final part of a three-album plateau of artistic excellence. (Should we call it the early-to-mid-nineties trilogy? Too vague. The fancy-monepic-title trilogy?) However, when considered with the next two, A Short Album About Love and Fin de Siècle, it instead forms the beginning of a three-album streak marking the band’s greatest chart success. (This is easier to name: the Britpop trilogy.) Casanova is the undeniable triumph at the two trios’ intersection. Hannon’s later work strays into a multitude of styles and genres – from slight and silly to profound and moving, from simple and conservative to wild and experimental – and offers something for everyone, but while plenty of these are defensible as favourites, and make for interesting choices, it’s telling that, when Hannon becomes nostalgic and self-regarding, the time of Casanova is the one he attempts to channel. It is also The Sex One.
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Beyond the Boundaries of Sense (Indulgence No. 2)

indulgence no 2 redIn July 1994, an odd promise was fulfilled as The Divine Comedy released Indulgence No. 2, the sequel – at least in a certain sense – to 1993’s Indulgence No. 1. That shared name is really the only thing connecting the two EPs, whose contents could hardly be more different: where No. 1 consisted of two oddball covers and one remixed instrumental, No. 2 is instead a live record, and consists of versions of three songs from Promenade, the studio album released in between the two Indulgence EPs. But is it any good, and what’s this “Indulgence” business really all about?
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The Martian Farm (Recapture Dover)

lv4-00After two levels in the general “rural England” mould and a third that’s just London, The War of the Worlds gives us its first genuinely unconventional setting. This is the point where the game definitively steps beyond the narrow geographical territory of Wells’s rather perambulatory novel – a stop by the coast before we begin our long road-trip to the north. Perhaps most importantly, it’s just a fun idea: really, how many science-fiction video games are set in Kent?
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A Middle-Aged, Pleasant, Well-Meaning Priest (The Complete Scripts)

father ted the complete scriptsOne year after Father Ted aired its final episode, Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews published a book. As its title suggests, The Complete Scripts collects in a single volume the screenplays for all 25 produced episodes. However, the book’s most intriguing aspect is that these are not actually the shooting scripts, but rather the second-last drafts. As the writers explain in the introduction, they like the idea of script books, but are disappointed when they contain only word-for-word transcriptions of a show’s dialogue. The Complete Scripts, then, is meant as a remedy to this lazy trend: an attempt at a product with innate value and interest of its own, beyond its utility as a straightforward reference. This is not just Father Ted printed, but something slightly askew from it – the version of Father Ted that aired in a slightly different universe, perhaps. If The Craggy Island Parish Magazines was an attempt to continue the show’s creative momentum on the page, The Complete Scripts represents a pause for reflection – the writers turning those same skills to the curatorial.
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A Cheap, Greedy Little Man (The Craggy Island Parish Magazines)

the craggy island parish magazinesThe sitcom format, powered as it is by the very particular way a cast perform and interact both with one other and with their live studio audience, doesn’t translate terribly well to book form. It’s to its credit, then, that The Craggy Island Parish Magazines largely resists the temptation to try to recreate Father Ted. An epistolary book combining prose and visual art, it’s completely unlike the show in structure, instead focusing on capturing its tone, feeling, and voices of its characters and world. Published a few months after the show’s conclusion, it’s the earliest post-finitum entry in what might dubiously be called the Father Ted Expanded Universe. Co-authored by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews in their joint prime, it has quite a head-start.
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