The HDMI might be your trouble - many TV's won't display a 'standard' 640x480 default VGA signal, and you need some kind of such display to get to the point where you're loading an OS with 'resolution settable' drivers... Do you have access to a standard DVI or VGA monitor?
Thanks for the tip. I don't have a VGA cable so I tried using a functioning CRT monitor. Still no joy. Damn.