strange_complex: (Doctor Who anniversary)
Still with the muscle aches and general tiredness. I do think it is starting to get better at base level now, but between the approach of term and me wanting to go off a lot at weekends and Do Things, I suspect I am also cancelling out a lot of the gains. So this morning, the first time for three weeks that I haven't had to set an alarm, my eyes gradually opened at around 11:30am. Which is fine, because my whole plan for today was to Do Nothing, but I clearly need a few more of those.

Anyway, by around 13:30 I had eaten some breakfast and read the internet, and was looking for something nothingy to do, when I came across the Eruditorum Press Doctor Who Poll. Perfect! I have now voted, and since I started out by writing up a short-list of stories and ranking them, I have a record of what I chose which I may as well preserve here. Votes in different categories, including brief recaps of the poll rules, under the cuts.

Best televised Doctor Who story - five points )

Nineteen other top televised Doctor Who stories - one point each )

Twenty also-rans - nul points )

Top five non-televised stories )

Five hate votes )

Best People etc. )

Polls close at the end of September, and the results will be on the Eruditorum blog over the course of October, apparently.

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strange_complex: (Eight morning)
An Adventure in Space and Time broadcasts later this evening, and I may well want to write up some Thorts on that, so I'd better make sure I note down my reactions to the anniversary prequel, Night of the Doctor, first.

There's plenty to like in it. Obviously it is GREAT to see Paul McCann's Doctor getting some proper screen time beyond the 1996 movie, and he does his stuff really well. So does Clare Higgins as Ohila. In under seven minutes, the dramatic weight of the Doctor's situation is set out very effectively, so that his decision at the end makes emotional sense. And there are some good lines: "I'm a Doctor... but probably not the one you were expecting" for the meta, "Bring me knitting" for the funnies, and especially "Fat or thin? Young or old? Man or woman?" for reinforcing the suggestion (already made in The Doctor's Wife with respect to the Corsair) that Timelords can opt to change gender.

But somehow I don't seem to have had the "OMG SQUEE!" reaction to it that has dominated fandom. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from a seven-minute short which needs to make sense to people who may never have seen the Eighth Doctor or the Sisters of Karn before, but in some ways the script felt to me a bit work-a-day and pedestrian. Cass in particular felt very generic, and the way she died in order to prompt the Doctor into finally engaging with the reality of the Time War makes her a classic Disposable Woman.

But above all I think my sense of slight disappointment reflects how invested I've become over the years in my long-running assumption that it was Eight who took on the burden of ending the Time War, dying in the process and turning into Nine. I've always liked that image precisely because all we have seen of him (on screen - I do know about his audios) is a rather starry-eyed ingénue Doctor in a frock coat. The idea of Eight the romantic idealist gradually watching the Universe turn to chaos around him, changing himself in response as it does so and finding a steely core of determination and responsibility that made him step up to the mark to bring it all to an end - but at the cost of his life - is really powerful. I get that in a way we do see a much-changed Eight doing the beginnings of that in Night of the Doctor, but it isn't the full narrative trajectory I'd always imagined for him. The truth is I am very fond of the Eighth Doctor, and I wanted him to have that story in the shadowy territory which lurks between his movie and the start of the revived TV series

As for the wider character of the Doctor, I'm also just not that keen on the whole set-up which we got at the end of the last series of him having distanced himself from the actions of the Hurt Doctor (aka the Warrior Doctor). If, as looks so likely now, he basically renounced his normal persona in order to end the Time War, and then denied that it was ever anything to do with him afterwards, that just double-trashes my favoured image of Eight fully owning the decision and taking it, and its consequences, directly on the chin. There is a lot of weight in the idea of the Doctor being faced with two really appalling options, and making a wise choice between them in a way that is consistent with his morality both before and afterwards. Contracting all of that out to a temporary personality instead really feels like a cop-out to me.

Maybe I (and many others) have got the wrong end of the stick, and the story of the Hurt Doctor won't be as I am expecting it to be at all. Maybe part of what we'll see in the anniversary special is Ten and Eleven finally re-absorbing his actions into their personal timelines, and coming to terms with them as their responsibility after all. I hope so. Moffat is certainly good at toying with us and misdirecting our expectations. All I know for now is that the signals we've been given in this prequel aren't really pointing in a direction which I feel as enthusiastic about as I would like to for the 50th Anniversary Special of my favourite TV show of all time. Here's hoping the special itself changes that.

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strange_complex: (Eleven dude)
And so at last we get to the season finale! New Who Season 7 has been pretty patchy all told, but I really enjoyed this closing episode. It was well-paced, well-scripted, exciting and most importantly has given me lots to talk about! I'll work through the bits which most struck me in roughly the order in which they occurred. You can assume I thought anything which I don't discuss explicitly below was generally jolly good.

Companions and assistants )

Trenzalore )

The TARDIS )

Prophecies and their fulfilment )

Clara's decision )

Good Doctor, bad Doctor )

Minor trivia )

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strange_complex: (Eight morning)
I actually watched this months ago - some weekend in the late summer when I was feeling rather ill and it was on one of the cable TV channels, I think. So it is well out of sequence as far as my reviews are concerned. But better late than never.

I saw it when it first came out of course, on the broken sofa in the damp basement kitchen which I shared with [livejournal.com profile] hollyione and three others in Brookfield Road, Bristol. At that time, we were mainly bemused by how little resemblance it bore to anything that we had previously understood as Doctor Who. But this time, watching it retrospectively with a knowledge of New Who, I was struck by the place which it occupies on the cusp between the two.

In many ways, of course, it isn't like either. The emphasis on action heroics, rather than quirky cleverness, puts the movie in a place all of its own by comparison with the rest of the TV canon. But obviously it does owe a great debt to the Classic series, while on the other side many of the things that seemed odd and alien to us watching back in 1996 have actually since been picked up and built on by Russell T. Davies. These are the backward-looking and (with hindsight) forward-looking aspects that I noticed on this viewing )

I'm not going to bother discussing the plot, because there isn't much of one, or the awful cartoonish travesty that is Eric Roberts as the Master. Dearie me! In spite of both, though, I actually found myself really enjoying the film overall.

Seven, Eight and Chang Lee )

Grace )

The half-human issue )

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strange_complex: (Sleeping Hermaphrodite)
I didn't post about this last weekend, because I was too busy attending [livejournal.com profile] swisstone's wedding, and I haven't since because I was more concerned with painting my kitchen and following the election. So I'm way behind the times now, and can't really add much that hasn't already been covered on [livejournal.com profile] doctorwho and elsewhere. (If you don't follow these matters but are mildly interested all the same, I would draw your attention in particular to [livejournal.com profile] cavalorn's theory about time-travel and the Doctor's jacket, which I think is very likely to be correct).

I do like to make sure I post an entry on each episode as they come out, though, so here's just a few notes on my own reaction before I forget all about it.

Overall, it's a great episode )

Changing the Angels )

The effects of the Time Crack )

River Song )

The seduction scene )

So, seems I had more to say than I thought, huh? Looking forward to tonight's episode - vampires plus time travel plus Venice = WIN! And, although the plot clearly won't be the same, I'm also rather glad that one of the small handful of Big Finish audios I have heard happens to be The Stones of Venice. I'll be interested to hear what resonances, if any, there might be between the two - especially since I see that I've noticed the fairytale feel of the Big Finish story in my review of it, and that is clearly a major theme of the current season of Doctor Who as well. One hour to go!

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strange_complex: (Eight morning)
Bit of a random one, this - it's an Eighth Doctor audio which I spotted being broadcast on BBC7 a couple of weeks ago, and made the effort to listen to since it clearly involved a hefty element of Classical receptions.

The story is not actually set in the Classical past. Rather, it is an example of what [livejournal.com profile] swisstone dubs 'appropriation' - that is, a story about a fictional society which has consciously modelled itself on a real past culture.

Spoilery plot summary )

It's a short and fairly simple story, whose basic plot elements are recognisable from multiple other SF stories (Doctor Who and otherwise). Arguably, the Classical aspect isn't doing anything very much more here than it is in Underworld or The Horns of Nimon - that is, lending a veneer of intrigue and sophistication to what would otherwise be a fairly unremarkable story. But I think it would unfair to go quite that far.

For one thing, the use of a Greek setting serves the useful purpose of helping the audience to grasp the relationship between the original colonists and their clones. The plot requires a) that the difference between the original colonists and their clones (or descendants) is clear and b) that we understand that the original colonists have succeeded in establishing control over everyone else on the planet by means of cynical deception. The Greek mythological setting achieves both of these things - casting the original colonists as gods does make their elevated status clear, and offer a plausible explanation for why nobody is questioning or challenging them.

The specific choice of ancient Greek culture to help convey all this makes sense, since it serves dual purpose as a society which did accord great reverence to a multiplicity of gods, but is also associated with great scientific thinking, so that it doesn't seem too weird to find mind-transfer technology incorporated into it. It also adds a valuable extra layer to the relationship between 'Zeus' and 'Hera', the most powerful of the original colonists. They are amusingly snippy with one another, and Zeus has a keen eye for the pretty girls. But for all that, they have been together for centuries, through a succession of cloned bodies. I felt that the Classical veneer really helped to flesh out that idea out by reference to the similar relationship between their mythological namesakes.

So, as an example of Classical receptions it worked for me. Along the way, it constituted my first introduction to Lucie Miller, whom I hadn't met before. She seemed quite good fun - a modern, no-nonsense woman rather along the lines of Donna Noble, who is very ready to question and challenge what other people are doing. Paul McGann seems as good as ever as the Eighth Doctor - and I've used the opportunity to make a new icon in his honour. I look forward to another opportunity to use it once I get my hands on his upcoming story, An Earthly Child - especially having seen The Dalek Invasion of Earth so recently.

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strange_complex: (Cathica spike)
I've entered the Sixth Doctor era. This would appear to mean unusual verbosity, even for me. Sue me: there is Classical receptions and meta-commentary, and I have Stuff to Say about both of them. You have been warned.

Sixth Doctor: The Twin Dilemma )

Sixth Doctor: Vengeance on Varos  )

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strange_complex: (Room with a View kiss)
I finally finished painting the back bedroom just in time for [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23 and Vincent's visit last weekend, and I must say it looks very splendid now. It is the only room in the house that's actually in a colour-scheme I have chosen, although I will gradually be moving more of them in the same direction as time goes on. The previous owners were clearly a lot keener on blues and greens than I am, whereas I think that creams, biscuits and mushrooms are more the way to go for a house like this (a view forged mainly via extensive watching of Poirot and Jeeves and Wooster). So that is what I have done, and I find it much more warm and inviting now.

Anyway, while finishing the job, I notched up one more Eighth Doctor audio. I'd heard the last two episodes of this one previously on Radio 7 and been impressed, so it was nice to come back and fill in the rest.

Eighth Doctor: The Stones of Venice )

strange_complex: (F&L Geek pride)
I am nearing the end of the latest chapter of my (stupid) teaching portfolio, which is Good News. Soon, I shall be on to the final phase of putting the whole thing together and submitting it, and then you will not need to hear me complaining about it any more. Don't let your guard down just yet, though, as I'm sure that final phase will warrant griping of its own.

Anyway, I'd done enough by the end of Friday to head off with a clear conscience and the knowledge that I would not need to think about it again until Monday, and catch the train to charming Hebden Bridge; there to meet [livejournal.com profile] snapesbabe, [livejournal.com profile] matgb, [livejournal.com profile] burlesque_bunny and her fella, and attend a performance of Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf )

Saturday then saw me spending a tiring, but very satisfying, day painting the back bedroom in my house. And I took it as an opportunity for further Whovianism, in the form of some Eight audios. Something like painting, of course, presents the ideal opportunity to listen to stories like that, because the painting itself doesn't make any noise at all (unlike vacuuming, for instance), but it does successfully occupy those parts of your brain and body that might get bored just sitting still listening to a story, while leaving those parts that would definitely get bored just painting to enter entirely into the world of the drama.

Eighth Doctor audio: Storm Warning )

Eighth Doctor audio: Sword of Orion )

strange_complex: (Cathica spike)
OMG, why am I reading an article which contains sentences like this:
"Sahlins' argument is thus for a dialectical relationship between externally generated events and localized actions"
when I could be doing this Who meme taken from [livejournal.com profile] snapesbabe?

Who's game? )

OK, I'm working now...

strange_complex: (TARDIS)
BBC webcast version here; info about the original interrupted production here; Wikipedia page here.

This doesn't fit under my 'books read 2007' tag or my 'films watched 2007' tag, but I'm going to blog it anyway so that I can remember what I thought of it. The CD was a much-appreciated birthday present from [livejournal.com profile] hollyione, and I listened to it on the canal on my mp3 player.

As far as I remember, this is my first experience with a Doctor Who audio CD, though I've seen a couple of web-casts before. It's therefore also my first experience of Paul McGann's Doctor other than the movie, and you know what? I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't hate him in the movie, actually - it was rather things like Eric Roberts' ridiculous Master that grated there. But it wasn't really enough to judge his performance on properly. Here, in the context of an audio drama, he gets a decent, regular Doctor Who script to work with - and he does it very well. He reminded me of a sort of cross between Five and Six, with Five's youthful derring-do and Six's slight smugness. Which doesn't sound entirely complimentary, actually, but I do mean it to be. What I'm trying to say is that he sounded like a proper Doctor, and I think I 'get' the people who are avid fans of his Eight now.

Of course the prime attraction of this particular story for me was the fact that it was written by Douglas Adams. Obviously, anyone who's read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency will recognise the character of Professor Chronotis, and there are a few other characteristically Adamsish elements, like conversations with over-logical ship's computers and someone being presented with a cup of liquid which is 'almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea' from a vending machine.

On the whole, though, someone looking for more in the vein of Hitch-Hikers or Gently will be disappointed - Adams clearly wasn't trying to produce anything particularly innovative here, but merely to earn a living by writing a fit-for-purpose script. The best character, Chronotis, he quite rightly took and reused elsewhere, and indeed did better things with him in the process. As for the rest, it's a fairly standard Who script, with a kidnapped assistant (sorry, Romana - even though you're a Timelord, your sex apparently still condemns you to be feak and weeble), a megalomaniacal villain, some thuggish minions, a psychic battle and some cute shenanigans from K-9.

That said, it's pretty good Who, and I very much enjoyed curling up with it in my berth in the evenings. I'm certainly open to more audio plays, more of the Eighth Doctor, and more of Adams' Who scripts as a result.

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