May 5th, 2006


Bad Twin

If you've been reading this journal for a while, you know I think the very idea of Bad Twin, a mystery novel that's being marketed as written by someone who was on the airplane on Lost, is a terrible one. As a rule, I find books written by characters from TV shows an idiotic marketing ploy. Not because they don't sell -- The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, for example, certainly did -- but because the very idea offends me as a writer ("We'd rather publish this hokey idea cooked up by the marketing department than your novel, Kaufmann!") and as a TV viewer (do we really have to watch the plot of an episode stall out so they can work in some dialogue about the book?).

But since my opinion means nothing, Bad Twin hits bookshelves this week so the suckers hoping to find hidden clues about Lost can snatch it up in hardcover for $21.95 and then lose interest halfway through when they realize there aren't any.

Gary Troup, a name known to fans of the hit TV drama "Lost," has joined a special club that includes the likes of Ellen Rimbauer and Marcie Walsh: "authors" of books by television characters.

Actually, in the show's defense, that's not really true. The name Gary Troup has barely, if ever, been mentioned on the show, nor has the title of the book, though they have briefly shown the cover page of the found manuscript. But still, a grateful hats-off to for putting "authors" in quotes.

In Wednesday night's episode of the ABC hit show about plane crash survivors on a remote island, the con man Sawyer, played by Josh Holloway, is seen reading an advance copy of fellow passenger Gary Troup's "Bad Twin." Sawyer, an odd bookworm, describes it as a whodunit he's anxious to finish.

God, that scene was lame. There's all this big drama, tension, suspense, Jack pulls a gun on Sawyer, for crying out loud, but first we have to hear Sawyer whine about how he can't wait to finish the fucking book? Puh-leeze!

Troup has been missing since the plane went down, but a copy of his book just happened to land a while back in the offices of Hyperion Books, which, like ABC, is owned by the Walt Disney Company. "Bad Twin," billed as Troup's "final novel before disappearing on Oceanic Flight 815," was published this week.

"We got this manuscript from this guy and we couldn't reach him. He apparently got on this plane in Australia and has been lost at sea," says Hyperion president Bob Miller.

Give me a FUCKING. BREAK. Also, Troup's "final novel"? A quick search on Amazon reveals no other titles under that name. Lame!

"Gary Troup" is a true mystery man, his name an anagram for "Purgatory."

Here come the crazy Lost theories!

ABC and Hyperion have had other joint projects. "The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer," a prequel to the 2002 miniseries "Red Rose," recorded the thoughts of a magnate's wife trapped in a spooky Seattle mansion. "Ellen Rimbauer" was a best seller written by novelist Ridley Pearson, a good friend of the character's inventor, Stephen King. Pearson also is rumored to have written "Bad Twin."

Rimbauer sold well mostly, I think, because King's name was attached. But if Pearson is also the secret author of Bad Twin, there's a chance it might at least be a good novel. Not that the Losties will care once they find out it actually has nothing to do with the show.

With "Lost" attracting millions of viewers, Hyperion has big expectations for "Bad Twin," announcing a first printing of 365,000. Wednesday's night show gave the book a strong but unspectaular bump, from 311 to 67 on's best seller list.

Damn, I don't think my own book ever got bumped past four digits on Amazon. Maybe there's something to this crazy scheme after all. I think my next book will be "written" by some previously unseen lab tech from CSI...

"Hello, Bob Miller? Yeah, I found this manuscript at a Las Vegas crime scene. It's all covered in blood and epithelials. But it's good!"

"Doctor Who" -- Now With 50% More Squee

"The Empty Child" is probably the creepiest Doctor Who episode since 1976's "The Brain of Morbius" or 1977's "Image of the Fendahl", when producers Philip Hinchcliffe and Graham Williams tried to inject the show with more of a horror flavor. The little boy in the gas mask -- the empty child of the title -- asking everyone "Are you my mommy?" is downright chilling, and the hospital full of dead bodies all sitting up at once is classic horror. Of course, it wouldn't be Doctor Who without humor too, and Rose introducing the Doctor to Harkness as "Mr. Spock" is wonderful, as is Rose asking the Doctor if he ever gets tired of not having a proper name.

The more I see of the new Doctor Who, the more I think it's superior to the old series in almost every way. It's better acted, better written and more mature in its storylines. Though, to be fair, the old series was always intended to be a children's program -- it was even pitched as an educational program, using time travel to teach children about history -- while the new one seems to be geared toward those same children now grown up.

(The only thing I don't like about the new series is that the TARDIS console room is way too big, a regrettable leftover from the amusing but misguided mid-90s TV movie. I miss the smaller, white console room of the old series. It had a more comfortable feel, and you could more easily understand how the Doctor could call the TARDIS home. The new console room looks like someplace a person would go only if they absolutely had to, a mess of metal support beams, wires and tubes.)