Friday, August 24, 2007

Random Recommendations

In proper lazy blogger fashion, here's some thoughts on stuff I've enjoyed recently, including stuff I've already posted on a mailing list.

Doctor Who - Black Orchid (1982)

The first episode of Black Orchid is the best single episode of the Davison years. Discuss.

Best start to an episode? Check. Man gets murdered by mysterious figure. Nyssa apparently sleeping in a four poster bed, tossing in her sleep. Wierd Indian looking guy with a plate in his mouth. It's like a 'proper' mystery from the start.

Best joke? Check.
"That was a performance worthy of the Master"
"The Master?!"
"Yes, the other Doctor" (pause) "WG Grace."

Best setting? Check. No monsters for once and in a country house, so properly lit and shot by the BBC. A cricket match, the world's biggest Priest's Hole and a fancy dress ball - what could be better? The Doctor wandering about in his dressing gown, that's what.

Best performances? Check. There's not a bad supporting performance in Black Orchid, and Sarah Sutton turns in her best performance on the show. Janet Fielding is excellent as a flirtatious rathen than complaining Tegan, and Terence Dudley/Matthew Waterhouse manage between them to give Adric a genuine (if shallow) personality in this story (cleverly one which is stolen wholesale from turn of the century Boys Adventure stories - Adric as the Fat Owl of the Remove is something they should have run with instead of killing him off).

Best cliffhanger? Well, no (that would be the firing squad in 'Androzani'), but it's still a decent one, with the viewer unsure if it's Ann or Nyssa under the mask, and therefore uncertain whether she might in fact be killed.

Episode 2 isn't quite as good, but the performances remain solid, George Cranleigh's make-up is excellent (his hand perhaps less so) and the ending is satisfying dramatically and never over-played, for all its obvious literary antecedents.

Other good moments worth mentioning as they pop randomly into my head - Nyssa unknowingly asking for booze and Cranleigh saying 'lemonade for the children' thereby implicitly suggesting that Cranleigh thinks of his fiance Ann as a child; the avuncular policeman failing to be overly rattled by the interior of the TARDIS; and Nyssa and Tegan doing the Charleston long before the Doctor Dances.

It was a Golden Age...

Twin Freaks - Paul Magrs (2007)

Twin Freaks is the new children's novel from Paul Magrs and is well worth taking a look at, either as a quick read for an adult or a slightly longer one for a child.

Like 2002's All the Rage, in Twin Freaks Magrs takes his inspiration from culture so popular as to leave me feeling like Sir Jeremiah Harman confronted by Gazza. Instead of the horror of boy bands, however, this time round Paul plumbs the painful depths of X-Factor.

It's a nice idea - take one beautiful, but talent free, sister and one plain, but vocally exceptional, sister (who's also a dwarf), mix them together and ta da - beautiful and talented Siamese twins.

There's not a great deal more I can say about this book - I said it was a book for 'children' rather than 'young adult' because unlike his most recent non-adult book, Exchange, Twin Freaks is most definitely aimed at the younger audience. As with the earlier Hands Up this is funny, clever and entertaining and makes a point about the problems of growing up in a non-traditional family, without descending into the preachy or forgetting that the book would be nothing without a good story as its backbone. You can't really ask for more and I suspect pre-teen readers will like this a lot (Alex will no doubt tell me when she reads it).

Description of a car journey in Mumbai

This is even lazier since it's just a link - but I think this is the best non-fiction Scott has ever written, full of lovely imagery and strange detail. Skip past the first bit, whcih is a bit dull, and go straight to the section that starts 'Night falls quickly in the tropics'. A beautiful, evocative piece of writing.

Night falls quickly in the tropics


Another link, but today's Achewood perfectly sums up the glory of that comic strip - funny, sad, odd and with an alt tag that adds to the whole.

The Hardest Call


Either via Facebook or on the dedicated website, online Scrabble is the latest craze to hit the little corner of the 'net I generally sit in. Give it a go - even better, if you're rubbish, challenge me to a game and let me boost my fragile ego by beating you!

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Blogger spacedbunny said...

i know nothing about anything you wrote. however, i am hereby posting a comment to prove that i did, in fact, visit your blog today. hello.

8:13 pm  

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