Monday, July 16, 2007

Nothing much to say

Other than the fact that should you ever be looking to host a function in Edinburgh the Bainfield Bowling Club should be avoided at all costs as it is run by a pathetic, foolish, cowardly worm of a man by the name of Peter Ramsey - a man who ran away from a simple question asked of him by an eight year old boy.

I'm rather proud of my son right now.*

* And of my little brother for remaining calm. I often don't agree with the things he says and does, but he's a big lad and it was nice of him not to ruin J's party by ripping Ramsey's head off.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Filling in lunchtime

I've been tagged, which is a thing The Kids do, and thus makes me feel very much more as though I were 15 instead of my actual creaking 37. And it's a boring lunchtime so this will fill ten minutes nicely. Thanks John.

These are the rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write in their own blog about their eight things and include these rules in the post.
4. At the end of your post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

And these are the facts:

1. I can remember a stylised version of a visit to my great gran's nursing home, made when I was around two. The memory involves massive fluted columns and beams of dust filtered sunlight, whereas the reality apparently majored heavily in wallpaper with Grecian pillars on it and one very high, dirty skylight.

2. I think James Bolam's performance in series 4 of When the Boat Comes In is the finest ever seen on UK television.

3. Eating bananas causes blisters to appear in my mouth. So I don't eat them.

4. I consider Elvis doing 'Suspicious Minds' to be the greatest song of all time.

5. I harbour a secret belief that I could write a very funny sketch based radio comedy, but as only Scott seems to find me sufficiently funny, that may well be a pipe dream.

6. I own so many books that I now have to store boxes and boxes full of them in the attics of friends and family.

7. I always cry (in a moist-eyed yet manly way) at the end of It's a Wonderful Life.

8. I sunburned my face so badly at the weekend while going to Loudon Castle with the family that my entire face is now bright red and peeling unattractively.

As for the eight people, well how about these (with the proviso that I won't leave a comment on their blogs pointing this out to them and will quite understand if they don't need a Work Avoidance Meme right now*)?

Tim
Ross
Phil
Simon
Scott
Mark C
Ian
Mark M

* Though given that I know that at least three of them are on Facebook, they obviously are not averse to wasting time on t'internet

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Guest Review: Last of the Time Lords

[Courtesy of Scott, a man who has watched some, but not all, of the new version of Who and who would, I think, not count himself as a particular fan of the old one. He took the picture of the spooky pigeon, hence the clumsy segue towards the end of the review. In true George MacDonald Fraser fashion, I have merely added some links and corrected his atrocious spelling - the sentiments are entirely his own]

"With Mogwai comes much responsibility. Well, not as much responsibility as doing a guest Who review on this hallowed turf. With Mogwai also came Phoebe Cates, of which, more later.

Stuart's blood pressure couldn't take an attempt at writing this, so I have selflessly (and bravely) stepped into the fold. Then again, who knows what his blood pressure will be like after reading my version.

Summary

I believe it is customary to summarise the plot etc to set the scene. Frankly, I can't be arsed. You all watched it and paid more attention than me and have no doubt remembered the details. All I can do is embarrass myself by getting something wrong. I didn't get where I am today...etc

Plot

You could argue that the notion behind in the plot is a good one. Clearly, for the series finale you are after something big. But in many ways the idea was maybe a little too big for the available format. This left the plot badly paced, rushed in places. If you ignore my forthcoming complaints about the focus being in the wrong place i.e. not on the Doctor as hero, it could perhaps have been drawn out into a half-decent story. Instead it was much more of a pop-culture summary of a much bigger idea. As such, it didn't work. There were bits I liked. I liked the drums thing. But probably because I was probably one of the only people watching who owns a Sandy Nelson LP. I liked the fact that the woman shot the Master. But probably because it reminded me of the Guns of Navarone.

Paradox engine, the human race in small balls, some sort of plan to take over the world with, get this, ground launch weapons. Mmmmm... Add in a baddy, dressed in a suit with very little menace and even less gravitas. Isn't the Master not meant to be a Shakespearean version of Emperor Ming? I didn't remember the "Auditioning for the remake of The Likely Lads" bit.

The explanation of what was going on was so quick that I have to admit I missed it. Something about using the Tardis, aaw bollocks, anything you can shoot down with a simple machine gun can by shot down by a review. OK, so we did get some John McLane action, but from that toothy American guy, he can't be the hero. He judges singing competitions.

And anyway, this plot has been done. Earth subjugated completely by an alien force. Resistance growing all over the world. People travelling great distances across a destroyed landscape. Only Mr. Wells did it MUCH better. And his ending made sense.

There are obviously other basic plot holes. There aren't two clocks in my house synchronised to the same minute, never mind the same second and if I was going to launch an attack the last thing I would do would be to broadcast a signal of when I was going to start. "OK, June 6th 1944, decided? OK. You put the kettle on, I'll tell Adolf."

And despite the lack of paced build up, there is still a 45 second high speed denouement in the style of original series Star Trek. All powerful being, can't be defeated. But wait, the power of the human soul is greater (cue fire, sparks, wailing of "Nooooooo", cut to credits ). Bleah.

You see how my review got all jumbled up and incoherent there? Yes. Exactly.

Where is the hero?

What is the point of a series finale where you have the eponymous hero and best actor either useless as an old man or as pointless as a caged budgie.* Dr. Who is about the Doctor. He is the hero, the brain, the point. Dale Arden never saved Flash Gordon. I like my heroes to be proper heroes and clever ones too. I don't want them to be vulnerable. I'm vulnerable. What kind of escapism is it that leaves our heroes as helpless as us? Oh no, hang on, if I'm nice to the world and everyone loves me then I'll be saved? Mmmm...

I give you Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. That's what I want. Clever, aloof maybe even a tad grumpy. I loved him you know (we both did). Because he was clever, a mind to aspire to. That is what the Doctor should be like. The world shouldn't save the Doctor, he should save the world but being goddam clever. I apply that to the story with the Doctor as the schoolteacher. I know Stuart loved it. But I thought it was boring for exactly that reason.

This is something that has lacked generally in the series. My vague memories of the Doctor of old was of him solving/fixing/defeating with a degree of guile. At the risk of giving Stuart a fit, the only example I can remember is something to do with Peter Davison, a cricket ball and some dubious non-Newtonian physics. In many cases, the solution (such as it has been) has either been pulling out wires, plugging in wires or, horror of horror, pulling a big off switch marked "Pull this to avert crisis". (I'm deliberately not mentioning throwing an orange at a switch, really, I'm not.)

So, it was good to see that at the end of the excellent Blink, that the Doctor won the day with a little bit of smarts. I would subscribe to the "Let Moffat write it all" camp.

As much as it carries a sugary morale message of love being the greatest weapon, tish and fuss, this isn't Richard Curtis entertains America, this is about matinee heroes, the smart, clever guy wins by his own strength/ingenuity. He isn't saved by everyone, even the crap the useless people. But not, obviously, John Smeaton, who would have defeated the Master with a single kick while simultaneously taking out Daleks (left hand), Cyberman (right hand) and the Wembley crossbar (headbutt).

Frankly, I'd rather see the Doctor get a bit 'Yipee-ka-yay mother-fucker' than be saved by love and good will. Nice sentiment, but save that for Heartbeat. I want my heroes to be heroes. Let's try and experiment in alternative dialogue:

"But being as this is a love, the most powerful emotion in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel loved? Well, do ya, punk?"

CGI

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. There is some nice CGI work but I'd happily do without it in favour of plot/acting etc. It was noticeable that Blink was very good despite that fact that the baddies were NEVER animated. Just shows you, doesn't it? I'm also beginning to wonder if you can now save CGI money by reusing existing stuff. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

A Happy Death

This is where I stray into dangerous territory**. But hey, you don't get this soapbox for long. I would imagine that the greatest percentage of the people that watched the show on Saturday night really liked it. The kids enjoyed it, gripped maybe. Their parents liked it, happy to be able to watch something bearable*** with their children. Therein lies the problem. No one is complaining. So its not going to change. For the true fans I can understand why this is troublesome. Someone stole your soul and reused it for something entirely different. There was no one arbitrating on the decisions on your behalf, there was no "We'll only do it if we can come up with a script good enough" from the original cast****. The fact is that the script maybe is good enough, but only for the news fans, not the old ones. Some are happy, others have had a death. Its a bit like having your football club taken over for a mad foreigner. Something you love gets changed and it becomes hard to love it, even though you desperately want to. I can only imagine what would happen to someone who lost a TV series and a football team in this way.

Next Season

It will be more of the same. If there is more Moffat it will be good, if there is more vulnerable Doctor, rushed plots, CGI driving the plot instead of supporting it then there will be complaints aplenty.
I have only one hope. A plot featuring a spooky pigeon.






I really hope you all think this to be generally incoherent and ill-informed. Otherwise I would appear to have a problem.

But get ready, this is where I tie the whole thing together. Phoebe Cates was almost certainly the model for the Doctor's big "Nobby the house elf" eyes. I loved those eyes when I was 14. And that's all you have to do, take one reference from earlier on and pointlessly hook it up by a very dodgy link at the end. I am the Face of Boe. Goodnight.


* - courtesy Simile Generator 2.1
** - and not just for the Camus reference
*** - i.e. not Dragonball Z
**** - not that this is ever true, its actually "Only if we get paid enough"

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