strange_complex: (K-9 negative)
The news of Diana Wynne Jones' death less than a month ago was at least expected. The news of Elisabeth Sladen's death today was not. In common with most people, it seems, I had had absolutely no idea that she was even ill, let alone terminally so. Indeed, she always seemed to be all but untouched by the passing of the years. So I'm still having trouble even believing that the news about her death is true.

She was one of Doctor Who's outstanding stars, bringing a perfect combination of warm enthusiasm and very human bravery-in-the-face-of-fear to her role as Sarah Jane Smith. She certainly caught my attention three years ago, when Robot was one of the first episodes I saw at the start of my systematic exploration of Classic Doctor Who. "Frankly awesome" was my verdict on her Sarah Jane that day, and since then I have sought out all of her many appearances in Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures and even K-9 and Company, and written about my enthusiasm for all of them at length. It's really difficult to imagine the Whoniverse now without her.

So thank you, Elisabeth Sladen, for everything which you put into the role over the years. Thank you for making Sarah Jane into such a real and well-rounded character, even when the writers and directors you were working with didn't think that it was important. And thank you for making the most of the opportunities when they did. I don't envy the many, many parents out there who are going to have to explain to their children tomorrow morning why there won't be any more episodes of Sarah Jane Adventures now. But thank you for what we've had, and I hope you knew how much we all appreciated it. :-(

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strange_complex: (Chrestomanci slacking in style)
This is normally the time of year when I look back over the books, films and TV which I have consumed over the past twelve months. Previous posts in this series can be found at the following links: 2009, 2008 and 2007.

Unfortunately this year I am at a bit of a disadvantage in looking back over the books I have read in particular, as I have completely failed to keep on top of reviewing them. I knew I'd got behind, but have just looked at my books read 2010 tag, and it turns out that I have only actually managed to review three books this year, with the most recent written up in February. I am also behind by one film review and two Doctor Who reviews - although in both of those cases that represents a much smaller proportion of the total. I've been actively focusing on clearing the backlog of film reviews during December (I managed six - not bad), and was going to get on to the books and Doctor Who after that, but never quite made it.

Nevertheless, I am going to write up an overview post now anyway, in keeping with my normal practice, even though not everything I'll be looking back over has actually been written up here yet. And I do want to get on top of the unreviewed material, so that is a little goal which I am setting myself for January - try to write up my unwritten book, film and Doctor Who reviews for 2010, while doing my utmost to avoid accruing any more. And maybe also learn to write shorter reviews, so that this doesn't happen again in the future. Although I do believe that I resolve something of the sort around this time every single year, and I never manage it - so I may as well just accept the status quo.

Books )

Films )

Doctor Who )

Other television )

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strange_complex: (K-9 affirmative)
I had low expectations of this, assuming that because the pilot hadn't turned into a proper series, it must have been a bit rubbish. I saw the opening titles once, and they didn't help with that impression - Sarah Jane mainly looks like a zombie in them, and the tune is very silly (though in quite a cool way).

Actually, though, it's really great - a good mystery, a witty, pacey script, lots of Gothic staples, bonus Colin Jeavons and Elisabeth Sladen doing kung-fu! We finally get to meet her Aunt Lavinia, who reminds me enormously of the wonderful Professor Amelia Rumford from The Stones of Blood, and the overall set up of Sarah Jane finding herself in the middle of a community where everyone is clearly collaborating to conceal dark secrets from her rather reminded me of The Wicker Man, too.

Above all, though, it is very much a proto-Sarah Jane Adventures - so much so, that I found the SJA theme-tune going round my head as I watched. The biggest similarity is in Sarah Jane's side-kick, Brendan. He's not actually made by aliens, but he is incredibly geeky, taking extra O-levels, reading avidly and enthusiastically discussing the finer points of computer engineering with K-9. Even his speech patterns were rather like Luke's, and he proves himself to be of true Classic companion calibre by getting captured and almost sacrificed by a Satanic circle.

I've expressed my views on K-9 before, so I think we can take the fact that he is awesome as scientifically established. ;-) But he does enhance his own excellence here by engaging in shooty laser action to comic effect, attempting to sing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' and being blessedly free of battery issues throughout the story. It's a pity the message he brought from the Doctor showing that he has remembered Sarah and still cares about her had been forgotten all about by the time School Reunion was written, but I notice that Sarah's practice of driving around in the car with him propped on the back seat and looking between the two front seats is common to both, which is sweet.

All in all, excellent stuff, and quite surprisingly in keeping with K-9's original era for something in which JNT and Eric Saward were so closely involved. Who knows how it would have panned out if more had been made, but then again it hardly matters now, since we have The Sarah Jane Adventures anyway. It's just a pity K-9 has got lost along the way. :-(

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strange_complex: (Doctor Caecilius hands)
Right - now that Life is all up to date and I have some free time, I can continue with my Who reviews. I return here to the sequential viewing of Sarah Jane's stories with the Third Doctor which I started last month.

Third Doctor: The Monster of Peladon )

Third Doctor: Planet of the Spiders )

And with that, I have seen all of Sarah Jane's mainstream Doctor Who stories, including The Five Doctors and Dimensions in Time (though in those cases not within the lifespan of this journal, so I shall be revisiting them in these pages at some point). There's a fair number of audio adventures still out there for me, not to mention her K-9 and Company appearance (now on my Lovefilm wishlist), and a bizarre straight-to-video outing I've only just found out about called Downtime from the mid-'90s. But as regards the central core of stories which feature interaction between her and the Doctor, I am fully up to speed now. With her warmth, her sparkle, her independence and yet also her sense of wide-eyed innocence, she remains definitively my favourite Doctor Who companion by a long chalk - though it's been great to see so many of the same qualities re-appearing in Donna more recently. Three cheers, then, for The Sarah Jane Adventures, and the new series of it which is coming in the autumn.

strange_complex: (Tom Baker)
I've been doing some more painting: this time, the gloss in the back bedroom. It seems to take forever - at least if you don't want to splurge unwanted gloss all over the walls that you have only just finished painting the week before. So I have been working my way through the pick of the last week's worth of Radio 4 comedies, and also the following Who audios:

Radio Play: Regenerations (2001) )

Fourth Doctor: Genesis of the Daleks (1979) )

Fourth Doctor: Exploration Earth: The Time Machine (1976) )

Fourth Doctor: Doctor Who and the Pescatons (1976) )

strange_complex: (Doctor Caecilius hands)
The Tom Baker era may be over for me, but there's a whole world of other Doctors out there still waiting to be discovered. As already stated, I'm starting my post-Baker viewing by catching up on Sarah Jane's adventures with the Third Doctor, because Sarah is the only person in the entire Whoniverse who can cheer me up in the absence of Four. In fact, in so doing, I'm picking up a thread I began in February with The Time Warrior, because even by then I loved her so much that I wanted to see where she had started out.

Third Doctor: Invasion of the Dinosaurs )

Third Doctor: Death to the Daleks )

strange_complex: (Tom Baker)
As promised, now that I've watched every single one of his stories, I want to draw together my thoughts on the Tom Baker era, and why the Fourth Doctor is, and always will be, 'my' Doctor.

Before last January )

So, now that I have seen his full oeuvre, what is it that makes me think he is such a bloody great Doctor? Well, in a way it hardly needs examining, because he is so widely recognised as brilliant in the role, and so many people have analysed why that is extremely effectively. (The Wikipedia article has a decent stab, for a start). But what the hell - I'll have a go anyway, because it's fun to do.

Grins, grimaces and fight scenes )

Fannish drooling )

Companions )

My top five Fourth Doctor stories )

My bottom five Fourth Doctor stories )

And now? )

strange_complex: (Penny Farthing)
Fourth Doctor: Pyramids of Mars )

Fourth Doctor: The Android Invasion )

Third Doctor: The Time Warrior )

And tell me, Penny, why did you evidently start writing this entry five minutes after Torchwood had started - especially given that it is actually really pretty good nowadays? Well, gentle reader, the answer is that my Sky signal is suffering intermittent interference on any channels with 'BBC' or 'ITV' in their name - particularly BBC2 and ITV1 - to the extent that they are frequently unwatchable. And I don't really have time to do anything about it just now, especially since I suspect that 'doing something about it' will ultimately involve me having to pay money to Sky to fix or replace my dish. So I'm getting by with iPlayer at the moment. But it's pretty bloody annoying, especially when you've been looking forward to a programme all day. :-( ETA: and especially when everyone on your friends list suddenly starts posting about a very exciting spoiler, and you have not seen it yet, and scream, pout, *stamps foot*.

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: (Invader Zim globe)
Fourth Doctor: Planet of Evil )

Third Doctor: The Claws of Axos )

I will watch more Pertwee episodes at some point, but it will be for the sake of understanding the series as a whole, and particularly the build-up to Tom Baker's era and the character of the Master, rather than for his portrayal of the Doctor. In fact, I've already equipped myself with a copy of The Time Warrior - but only so that I can see the origins of Sarah Jane. Other than for that sort of reason, Pertwee is low priority, and the only other Doctor I can think of over whom I'd give him precedence is Six. Given the vast number of stories I still have to watch before that kind of play-off becomes an issue, I don't see him featuring all that much in my Who-watching any time soon.

strange_complex: (TARDIS)
Fourth Doctor: Genesis of the Daleks )

Fourth Doctor: Terror of the Zygons )

Still, OK on the whole, and it has furnished me with the splendid new icon I'm using here. This comes from the end of the last episode, when the Doctor is about to depart, and the moment I saw the shot I knew I had to have it. It captures the essence of both Tom Baker and the Doctor / TARDIS relationship perfectly, and begs the viewer to follow, speaking of promise and adventure. I had to make it out of a YouTube capture, so it could be a little sharper, but I don't care - just looking at that image fills me with joy. It'll now be my 'generic Who' icon, to replace the 'TARDIS in space' image I had before.

Hmm - I was also going to include some non-episode specific observations about Classic Who here, but I'm pretty tired now, and I really need to put in a solid day's work tomorrow. I think I'll have to save those for some other time.

strange_complex: (ITV digital Monkey popcorn)
Continuing with my efforts to explore the Doctor Who archives rather more systematically than I have done to date, I've chalked up another three stories over the last week.

Fourth Doctor: The Ark in Space )

Fourth Doctor: City of Death )

First Doctor: An Unearthly Child )

Classic Who

Monday, 7 January 2008 19:06
strange_complex: (TARDIS)
Doctor Who has always been a part of my life. I suppose I must have started watching it because my Dad did - or, I wonder now that I know Who fans with children, did he start watching it seriously partly because he had a little kid to enjoy it with? Anyway, my memories of it stretch back at least to the age of three (more on this later), and I've kept up an active interest in it ever since.

Semi-fandom )

Put simply (and with a little help from Wikipedia), this is generally the level of difference between me and a serious fan:
Serious fan: It may be a controversial opinion, but I really think The Talons of Weng-Chiang is one of the high points of the Tom Baker era. I just love all the Sherlock Holmes references in it!
Me: [slight pause] Er - is that the one with the giant rat in the sewer?
Over the last year, though, my fandom for New Who has increased to such a pitch (thanks to the overall excellent series 3) that I've decided it's about time I ploughed back into the archives. Time Crash probably played a pretty big role there, actually. If New Who was going to reference Old Who so explicitly, then I decided it was about time I enhanced my appreciation of both by rediscovering the original - and maybe just a little bit of my lost childhood along the way.

Fifth Doctor: Caves of Androzani )

Fifth Doctor: Castrovalva )

Childhood memories )

Fourth Doctor: Robot )

A journey has definitely begun here, and I'm looking forward to pursuing it further. I don't think I'll ever try to be a completist, because I know that would involve sitting through an awful lot of dross. But Operation Classic Who is go! ...at least until New Who begins again in the spring. :-)

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