strange_complex: (Sherlock Holmes trifles)
I'm just watching anything with Christopher Lee in it now. What can I say? He has a nice face - and by that I don't just mean that I think he's good-looking (which, of course, I do), but also that because I have been watching his films since childhood, he is also simply very comforting and reassuring to have around on the screen. This is exactly what I need right now to de-stress in between all the conference prep stuff, so I have alerts set up in DigiGuide to tell me when he is on TV and my Sky box primed to record it all. Then, whenever I need an evening on the sofa staring at something mildly diverting, there he is - just waiting for me.

This was shown about a week ago on a channel called 'True Movies 2' - surely a misnomer, because this story at least did not in any way purport to be 'true'. It belongs to a TV mini-series called Sherlock Holmes: the Golden Years, for which the crack is that Holmes and Watson are a little advanced in years, but also now so famous that they are constantly mingling with the celebrities and royalty of the Edwardian era. Hence Lee was able to play Sherlock opposite Patrick Macnee as Watson, both at the age of 69, and there are lots of cameo roles for figures such as Edward VI, Theodore Roosevelt and Lillie Langtry. The mini-series consists of two 200-minute instalments in total - this one, and a predecessor called Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady, which I saw some years ago. I wasn't in the habit of writing up all the films I saw on LJ at that point, so there is no past review to link to, but I do remember that I didn't think it was very good. Unsurprisingly, the same applies here.

Both were made by a Euro-pudding-style consortium of British, Belgian, Luxembourgeois and Italian production companies (including - and I am not making this up - Silvio Berlusconi Communications), and filmed on location - in this case, mainly in Zimbabwe. A lot of money has clearly been spent on extras, costumes and expensive vehicles like steam-trains and paddle-launches, but alas the dialogue is lacklustre to the point of banality, the characters are so under-developed that it's impossible to understand their motivations, and the plot is just not Holmesian. Oh, there is some convoluted business about a fake diamond, a real diamond, various murders and a treasure map, but it has none of the precision of a proper Sherlock Holmes story - above all because of the under-development of the characters. For all that we have learnt about them by the end of the movie, any one of them could have turned out to have done what they did or been who they were, so that the eventual 'solution' seems utterly arbitrary.

That said, it isn't a complete waste of time, partly because the location scenery is nice and quite well-photographed (though at a level of definition which makes it all look slightly blurry on a modern TV), but mainly, of course, because Christopher Lee is in it. Even as Holmes, he doesn't exactly get scintillating dialogue, but he plays what he has with a sort of gentle, slightly-put-upon charm that makes his scenes worth watching. And the script does manage to serve up a couple of quite fun moments for him, like when he sits on the nose of a steam locomotive chatting to Theodore Roosevelt while it rattles through the Zimbabwean landscape, or when he has to shoot a pouncing lion on safari at more-or-less point-blank range because another member of the party has deliberately manufactured the attack in an attempt to kill him. Plus he has a nice old-married-couple vibe going on with Patrick Macnee's Watson, who annoys him by snoring in their shared hotel suite and whom Lee's Holmes at one point complains is "worse than a wife". I wouldn't quite go so far as to call it slashy, but there is a touch of the domesticated old Queens about them.

Overall verdict - just about worth it for Lee completists, and possibly for Holmes completists I suppose, but otherwise don't bother.

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strange_complex: (Sherlock Aha!)
I didn't write anything about this episode when it aired, as I was too close up against an article deadline to have any spare energy for blogging. But I did watch it at the time, and also rewatched it after I'd submitted the article, and enjoyed it very much. And besides, I've written about every other episode of Sherlock which has aired so far - so I may as well keep up that record by noting down a few things I particularly enjoyed about it.

Sherlock has always had incredibly strong design / mise-en-scène, but two examples of that particularly impressed me in this episode. Firstly, the rain cascading down the window-pane behind John when we see him in therapy at the very beginning, looking for all the world like a waterfall. It seemed to me almost like a declaration right from the very start that yes, that's what this story is all about, but it is going to be handled allegorically.

Secondly, the fact that in every one of the three high-security locations which Moriarty infiltrated - the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville Prison - we specifically saw cups of tea being splashed or spilt as part of the scenes of panic when people realised what was happening. What a fantastically British way to signal a terrible catastrophe.

Then there was Molly being the one to spot that Sherlock was sad when no-one was looking, and being brave enough to ask him about it, and clearly clever and trustworthy enough to play a major role in helping him to fake his own death at the end. Her scenes in this episode suddenly rounded out her character enormously, and brought out new sides to Sherlock, too, so that their interactions were incredibly affecting and touching. I could go on about this I'm sure, but I think this lady has already nailed it.

As for Sherlock's apparent death, and how he did it, there are a whole bunch of theories collected here. I'm not quite sure what I think, mainly because some crucial issues hang on what the 'rules' of Sherlock actually are. In particular, is this the sort of show in which we're supposed to believe that someone could jump off a tall building and into a garbage truck full of sacks and survive the experience? Perhaps if the sacks were maybe stuffed with something extremely good at absorbing shocks, like the squash ball Sherlock is seen bouncing against a bench in the lab? It's possible, as we have seen Sherlock pull off some pretty super-human physical feats before, particularly in fights - but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work in real life.

Also worth asking - is Moriarty actually dead? His apparent death could certainly be faked to a level that would convince most ordinary people by simply using a fake gun and a bag of fake blood. Sherlock Holmes probably wouldn't be fooled by that - but then again, given his ultimate aim of throwing Moriarty's henchmen off the scent by faking his own death, Sherlock would have no particular incentive to call Moriarty's bluff if he knew Moriarty was faking it. Maybe Sherlock knows perfectly well that Moriarty isn't dead, but goes ahead with his own fake-death plan anyway, because he knows that that is a better way of resolving the immediate situation? Given Moffat's track record on this issue, it seems to me wise to reserve judgement on Moriarty until we know for sure either way.

My only real complaint with this episode was the usual one - that when Sherlock and John are running away from the police in hand-cuffs, Sherlock instructs John to take his hand, and John has to respond with an uncomfortable joke: "People will definitely talk!" So I guess I'm still waiting for the episode of Sherlock in which that tired old trope isn't dragged out for another flogging - which is pretty depressing, six episodes in.

Other than that, though, this felt to me like pretty much the perfect Sherlock episode. I await the next series with pleasure.

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strange_complex: (Sherlock Aha!)
I think the second episode of this season's Sherlock fell for me into the category of 'perfectly decent, but not outstanding' TV. Above all, its characters were not seeking to deceive one another on the same scale as had made last week's episode so thrillingly alive with alternative possibilities for me. Oh, sure, there was misdirection early on to the effect that Frankland was a friendly and reliable fellow while Stapleton was an eeeviiiilll mad scientist, but there was nothing on the scale of battle of wits between Sherlock, Adler, Mycroft and Moriarty from the previous story, and the motivations of the regular characters were never really in doubt.

Partly, of course, that's just the nature of the original Arthur Conan Doyle story, and there's also a fair case for saying that the middle episode of the series needs to rein in the pace a little between the sha-bang of the opening episode and what is clearly going to be an epic confrontation next week. But even with that understood, I felt I could have asked for a little more from it. What The Hound of the Baskervilles can offer is a creepy atmosphere of growing tension, and I felt that was missed, too.

Perhaps I wrecked the suspense for myself by reading the lovely [livejournal.com profile] thanatos_kalos's write-up of the preview screening shown in Cardiff on Tuesday, so that I knew before the story began that the fearful visions which the characters would experience were the result of hallucinogenic drugs. But I certainly felt that with Sherlock in particular, his attack of the terrors came on too quickly and too intensively for us to stand any real chance of believing that he was seriously facing up to a new and unsettling emotional experience. This would have been far more effective for me if we had seen him experience a few smaller moments of self-doubt earlier on (whether brought about by real experiences or by lower doses of the drug), so that we could believe the full-scale attack was an escalation of genuine fear, rather than obviously something anomalous. It could have been a really amazing moment in the ongoing development of his screen character to believe that he was really experiencing the break-down of his treasured logic and self-assuredness - but it didn't happen for me.

Still, it was great to have Russell Tovey on board, especially in the scene where his outside light kept getting set off, reducing him to a ball of sobbing terror. That really did look like a man who had been slowly and systematically pushed beyond the limits of endurance. And Sherlock's relationship with Watson developed a little bit when he described him as a 'friend' for the first time. Plus I liked the way the flashing light on the moor was at first misdirection (Morse code), then a joke (a different kind of dogging), then a plot device to ensure Watson wasn't exposed to the hallucinogens the first time around and finally the prod needed to help Sherlock figure out that 'hound' might be an acronym. That is definitely getting good value out of a single device.

Problematic portrayals were less of an issue than last week - but of course that's partly by dint of keeping women in the role of secondary assistant characters and not having any ethnic minorities (that I could spot) at all. And meanwhile, there, yet again, is that ridiculous running 'joke' about how everyone keeps mis-reading Watson and Sherlock as a gay couple. I liked this in the first ever episode, because any acknowledgement of queer sexuality on mainstream TV is cheering, and found the prospect of a heterosexual and heteronormative Watson being prompted to rethink his own attitudes by finding himself labelled as gay appealing. But that really isn't how it has turned out. Instead it is just the same childish gag about what a trial it is for a straight person to be continuously mislabelled as gay, like a broken record week after week, and it is REALLY annoying me now. Partly because it is offensive, but also because it is taking up screen time which could be used for more nuanced character development, or more intricate plotting, or - well - anything really.

So now I feel like one of those people who makes others wonder why they even watch a show if all they can do is criticise it. To which I can only give the classic reply to that accusation, which is that there is so much about Sherlock which I do like that it makes the flaws doubly annoying - and meanwhile I have written enough about it previously to feel that I can take its strengths as read now, and don't need to repeat them. In case it needs re-stating, though, I do think that Sherlock and Watson as characters are brilliantly drawn, that the plotting of the adventures they share together is (nearly) fantastic, that the scripts are witty and lively and clever, and that the visual design is absolutely outstanding. I bloody love this series, and can't wait until next week's grand finale. But I still think it could be better.

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strange_complex: (Sherlock Aha!)
So Sherlock is back - complete with the problems that surrounded its treatment of minority groups in the first season. Within a couple of hours of the first story airing, Stavvers argued that the treatment of Irene Adler had seen what looked like a genuinely strong and self-directed female character reduced to tropish helplessness when we learnt that Moriarty had been advising her on her criminal activities, saw her security code compromised by her foolish willingness to be influenced by her romantic attraction to Sherlock, and then saw Sherlock rescue her from execution. Jane Clare Jones followed up in the Guardian saying much the same.

While I absolutely agree that problematic portrayals of female characters are, well, problematic, and fully recognise that Moffat is particularly prone to perpetrating them, the problems with this particular character didn't strike me as forcefully as they obviously did some viewers. I think this was because Sherlock as a programme makes so much use of misdirection, and reveals the 'true' solutions to its mysteries only fairly sparingly and sketchily. By comparison with, say, Moffat's recent Doctor Who Christmas special, this leaves an awful lot of room for us as viewers to generate our own alternate readings - indeed, it actively encourages us to do so.

Take, for example, the issue of how Irene Adler really feels about Sherlock. Our understanding of this is reversed multiple times during this story. For a long time, we're encouraged to believe that she is falling in love with him - all those comments about how 'brainy is the new sexy', the flirty texts, the conversation in Battersea Power Station where she suggests to Watson that both of them are strongly attracted to Sherlock in spite of their usual sexuality, the intimate scene between them in his flat. But on Mycroft's flight of the dead and in his office afterwards this apparent scenario is reversed, when she claims that she was playing Sherlock for a fool all along, entrapping him into decoding the Ministry of Defence official's email for her by merely making him believe she was in love with him. And moments later, the switch is flipped once more when Sherlock states that by taking her pulse and observing her dilated pupils in his flat he was able to detect the real truth - that her act had become a reality, and she had genuinely fallen for him after all.

I've no doubt that that is basically where Moffat signs off. This is his intended portrayal of the characters' motivations, and we are then meant to understand that Adler is undone by the weak, feminine sentimentality which drove her (already some six months earlier) to use a pun on Sherlock's name as the PIN code for her phone. That is problematic. But by the time this scenario was presented to me, I found I had got into a state whereby I was automatically reading everything I saw as potentially untrue. Sherlock was telling me assuredly that Adler had been attracted to him. But was even he right about that? Or, indeed, was that what he really thought, as opposed to (say) a bluff intended for Mycroft? And meanwhile, so much else in the episode remains ambiguous or incompletely explained. For example, did Sherlock ever really think that Irene Adler was actually dead the first time? After all, he'd had every opportunity to study her naked body in great detail. Would he really have been fooled by the substitution of a body which merely had the same measurements, when (for example) the shape and size of a woman's nipples, belly-button and indeed other parts are so very distinctive? Or was he complicit in helping her to fake her death that first time, too?

In that frame of mind, and with so much room for manoeuvre, almost everything about the story becomes extremely fluid. To continue with the example I've used above, it isn't hard to flip the switch on the does she / doesn't she fancy him question yet again. I've already suggested above that Sherlock himself may be lying about what Irene's pulse and pupils revealed to him - perhaps as part of a wider collaboration between the two of them of the sort which Roz Kaveney sketches out in the comments on Stavvers' blog. But even if he's not, she could have faked those symptoms. A little bit of ecstasy taken at the right moment would probably do the trick, for example - and she is clearly a woman who knows how to obtain and use illicit drugs effectively.

From that point onwards, you can go on to build all sorts of variant interpretations of the closing scenes. Did Irene, for example, a) make Sherlock believe she was in love with him so that he would finally figure out the code to her phone, as well as b) carefully manipulating him into falling in love with her in spite of himself so that he could then be relied upon to protect her from the consequences of that by helping her to fake her own death a second time? Because that could actually work out quite well for her by creating a clean break if she had begun to feel her embroilments with people like Moriarty had got rather too deep and she wanted a way out of it all - and she would have maintained total control of her own destiny throughout that scenario.

I am not saying that the above is the 'correct' reading of this episode, or even that it's the one I most subscribe to myself. My point is simply that this series fosters variant readings of itself to such as extent that even when the script-writers' intentions are problematic, I find the impact of that on me as a viewer is considerably watered down by the pervading sense that many different readings of what I am seeing are all true at once, and that I can never be 100% sure of any of the characters' aims and motivations. This, of course, is part of what make the show so irresistible, whatever the final verdict on Irene Adler.

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strange_complex: (Sherlock Aha!)
I picked up the new Sherlock DVD set yesterday, and snuggled down in the evening to watch the feature I'd really been looking forward to: the unaired pilot. 'Cos more Sherlock is definitely a Good Thing, and it's all we're going to get for another 18 months, too. *sadface*

The pilot is basically a proto-version of A Study in Pink, but less fully developed and only 55 minutes long - i.e. clearly designed for a one-hour broadcast slot rather than an hour-and-a-half one. Most of the script for the scenes which it includes is the same as in the longer version, although there are some changes towards the end, since the plot is slightly different there too. On the whole, the broadcast version is definitely an improvement on the pilot. It is slicker and more immersive, and the extra material generally helps to build the characters, improves the plot or creates more of a sense of ongoing story arcs by setting up the development of things which would happen later in the series. But there are a couple of plot changes which I found detrimental, too - things which had actually struck me as problematic on first watching the broadcast episode, and which now turn out essentially to have been padding added in to a script which would have been better off without them.

Apparently, I can think of no better way to spend my Sunday afternoon than analysing every single difference between the two in great detail. So the rest of this post goes under cuts, to save you all from length and spoilerage...

The main murder plot )

Mycroft and Moriarty )

The identity of the murderer )

Foot-chases and character development )

Tracing the phone )

The cabbie's means of compulsion )

Acting and direction )

Costumes and sets )

Design finesse )

On the whole, then, I'd say the pilot is definitely worth watching if you can - partly because of the things it handles slightly better than the broadcast version, but mainly just for the insight which it provides into the process of how a television programme is developed and improved. Overall, the broadcast version is better, and I can certainly see why it had to be remade to fit in with the rest of the series. But the pilot is none too shabby, and I'm glad that we now have the chance to watch it.


1. Somehow, I'm perfectly comfortable with the producers' decision to call the main character by his first name, but feel odd extending that same principle to his best friend. Maybe it's just because 'Sherlock' is a really distinctive first name with rich associations, whereas 'John' could mean anybody. But anyway, it means that when I talk about them as a pair, I now end up saying 'Sherlock and Watson'. It's not very neat, but it just seems to be what I have to do when talking about this particular take on the characters.
2. Oh, OK - maybe sometimes I can manage an occasional 'John' after all. I am nothing if not consistently inconsistent...


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strange_complex: (Sherlock Aha!)
I've ended up with oddly mixed feelings about this series now that it is over. Some things about it have been so consistently good - especially the design, the camerawork, and the characterisation of Sherlock himself. I love the way that this Holmes dances the line between being cringe-makingly loathsome and yet also exciting and fascinating and just understatedly nice enough that our sympathies remain with him. And I think Benedict Cumberbatch is doing a brilliant job, not only with the grand gestures but also with the small details which really bring the character to life. The original stories are used beautifully without weighing down the new stories that the series is trying to tell; most of the dialogue and the supporting characters are detailed and rich and witty and intriguing; and most of the plots are neatly structured and satisfyingly resolved. Heck, even the various tie-in websites actually do provide genuine added value, even if the supposed hidden messages on Sherlock's site hardly seem like the work of a master criminal.

And yet... and yet some things which seemed incredibly promising early on have ended up disappointing.

Looking back over my first post about it, I see that I was excited at what presenting Sherlock's face upside down on the first occasion that we meet him was signalling about the series' intentions to invert old tropes. But although I do think that Sherlock and Watson themselves as characters have been very nicely brought forward into the modern world, the rest of what's going on around them unfortunately oozes with unexamined tropes which have most certainly not been inverted at all )

I note also from my first post that, while recognising that the format of the show and its central relationship simply doesn't allow as much room for strong female characters as I'd ideally like, I was also still pretty optimistic about the ones we had met thus far: particularly Sally Donovan, the police sergeant, and Mycroft's mysterious assistant, Anthea. But they have disappointed, too )

I think a lot of the problems here probably stem from the very limited scope of a three-episode run - even if those episodes are each 90 minutes long. It means that many of the characters who seemed so promising early on just haven't had time to be developed properly - and in the squeeze of a limited run, it seems to be the female characters in particular who have suffered. What makes that so especially frustrating is the efforts which the first episode seemed to be making to set up interesting and intriguing characters whom I wanted to learn more about - a promise which was then never delivered on. If they'd just been fairly mediocre in the first place, I wouldn't have minded so much. Entrusting each episode to a different writer obviously hasn't helped much with this: it's noticeable that Lestrade, Mycroft and Sally Donovan vanished entirely from the middle episode, while even the character of Sherlock lost the nasty edge which kept him so interesting in the first and third. On the plus side, I think Watson has undergone a steady and plausible development from the bored, traumatised veteran of the first episode to the active and competent investigator of the third. But Moffat and Gatiss as co-creators really should have taken steps to ensure that this was happening more consistently for the secondary characters as well.

Some things have felt rushed, too - especially the introduction of Moriarty )

So, yeah. The stories are gripping, the visuals are beautiful, and Sherlock, Watson, Mycroft and Lestrade are all well-enough developed to make me want to come back for more. It's just a pity about the rushed schedule, under-developed characters and poor handling of minority groups. But it has definitely been nice to have something this well put-together showing over the summer when most cult TV series are on hiatus, and I am very happy to hear that they will be making more of it. I have already pre-ordered the box set, and will doubtless be back with my thoughts on the unaired pilot which it includes once it has arrived. Give it a bit longer and a rethink on the unexamined tropes front, and this could just start to present Granada's Jeremy Brett series with some serious competition. But it has some way to go just yet.

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strange_complex: (Sherlock Holmes trifles)
This production from Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss has been well-hyped, which always makes me wary. But it does seem to have got off to a good start this evening. Here are some of the things I particularly liked about it:
  • The fact that the first time we see Sherlock's face, it's viewed upside-down and from within a body-bag. A lovely statement of how the series intends to invert old tropes.
  • The décor of the flat in 221b Baker Street, which managed to capture the feel of - oh, say - the set for the Granada series with Jeremy Brett, while still being plausibly contemporary at the same time.
  • Along similar lines, "It's a three patch problem" - lol!
  • The handling of text messages by just putting the text on the screen as we watch the character reading it. So much more simple and elegant than showing us the actual phone screen! Why haven't I seen anyone doing this before?
  • Similar for Sherlock's thought-processes as he examined the lady in pink lying on the floor. Much better than having him explain every detail to Watson - because although he did do that as well, filling in what he had deduced from his observations as he did so, it gave us as the audience a chance to do a little deducing ourselves before it was all spelt out for us.
  • And indeed all the road signs, road markings and maps overlaying Holmes and Watson's chase after the mysterious taxi-cab. Someone on the design team really know a thing or two about merging text and images.
  • Obviously lots and lots of queer references - not just Holmes and Watson themselves, though that was handled beautifully, but Mrs. Whoeveritwas next door having 'married ones' and 'Harry' Watson turning out to be short for Hariette. Well done!
  • And although the structure of a story centred around the relationship between two men obviously doesn't leave as much room for female characters as I'd really like, we have some promising starts: Mycroft's smartphone-addicted assistant Anthea, and Sergeant Donovan, who is more than ready to viciously deconstruct Sherlock's character.
  • Indeed, the general feeling that Sherlock is dangerous and that getting too deeply involved with him may backfire on Watson. That's an important element of the character, but all too easily eroded if we come to him with the baggage of previous experience, and thus take for granted that he is the good guy and that we can trust him. If we are to understand this Sherlock as someone new, that trust does need to be undermined.
On the minus side, I felt that some of the intended mysteries in the plot weren't as mysterious as they ought to have been. Though they may still spoil it for you if you haven't seen it )

Still, this is nothing that'll matter if the quality of the acting, characterisation, scripting and production we've seen this evening are sustained and (in some cases) developed. I'll definitely be watching next weekend.

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strange_complex: (Penny Gadget)
Possibly my favourite way to spend a weekend morning is to wake up late, mooch on down to the sofa, and eat my breakfast there in my dressing-gown while watching fluff on the telly and browsing LJ on my laptop. That, in fact, is what I'm doing right now. Normally, my watching fare consists of things like old episodes of Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. I don't pay the slightest bit of attention to the plot, but enjoy the sound of the familiar characters burbling in the background, and glance up at the screen every now and then to drool over the costumes and sets. Today, however, Spice World was starting on UKTV Gold just as I was sitting down. And since I have, technically, sat here throughout the whole movie, drinking coffee and reading Doctor Who spoilers, I now have to blog the film!

I actually saw it in the cinema when it first came out. I thought the Spice Girls were fab, in much the same OTT cartoon character way that I always thought KISS were fab, so I made my sister come and see it with me. It had come out that week, and there was one other girl in the cinema with us, sat right at the back. Pretty soon after that, you couldn't see it in theatres any more.

An unfair fate, though, because the film is ace! It's so ludicrous it goes straight through silly and out the other side into sheer genius. It has Roger Moore in it, being mysterious and stroking a white cat! Meatloaf, saying he'll do anything for those girls - but not that! And Bob Hoskins, who appears for about twenty seconds, for the sole purpose of pretending to be Geri Halliwell in disguise as himself! Not to mention a bad model of a Union Jack-emblazoned bus jumping over Tower Bridge, and even Naoko Mori, later of Torchwood fame.

The jokes are terrible, the plot a flimsy excuse for a succession of set-piece scenes, the acting hammy, and the entire concept deeply self-indulgent - but, but, BUT! It's so self-referential about it all, that you just don't mind. The whole movie turns out at the end to be a bad pitch spun by a couple of desperate producers to the Spice Girls' manager (Richard E. Grant at the absolute top of his game), much in the style of today's Orange 'please turn off your mobile phone' trailers. And it ends with the girls themselves breaking the fourth wall, and giggling at the couple snogging at the back of the cinema.

It's a crazy tongue-in-cheek testament to celebrity culture in the late '90s. And I love it.

strange_complex: (Tom Baker)
So we're back to Tom Bakery goodness with UKTV Drama. Well, except that they last stopped at Robots of Death, and have now picked up again with Horror of Fang Rock, meaning that I had to acquire The Talons of Weng Chiang via Other Means. *shrug* UKTV Drama is a very strange channel.

Fourth Doctor: The Talons of Weng Chiang )

And, ladies and gentlemen, if I may indulge for a moment, I treat having seen this story as a moment of graduation. It was a pretty random choice of reference to include in the post which started off this whole Who Odyssey back in January - but, nonetheless, it is at this stage that I get to progress from being vaguely aware that The Talons of Weng Chiang features a giant rat in a sewer to having a meaningful grasp of the plot and some actual opinions about it. I claim my Geek Certificate and Coffee Mug of Rassilon, please.

Fourth Doctor: Horror of Fang Rock )

And now? Well, now, we have a Thing. Which is that I've already seen the next three stories UKTV Drama will be broadcasting, and would have to wait until the end of May to come back in at Underworld. Only to then meet the Key to Time season again two stories later, anyway.

Fact is, though, there's another thing happening here, too, and a very sad thing at that. See, as of now, I have only eleven stories left to see from Tom Baker's time as the Doctor (or twelve if you count the video reconstruction of Shada, which I think I shall). It's my own fault, really, for getting greedy already and skipping ahead of the UKTV schedules. I could have spun things out by watching stories featuring other Doctors in the interim, but no - it had to be Tom. It had to be the piercing blue eyes and the dazzling grins and the bouncing curls and the ginger side-burns and the noble profile and the chocolatey voice and the guh! *swoon*.

So I'm certainly running low on UKTV Drama stories in the immediate present - but also facing the horrible prospect of reaching the end of the Tom Baker era in the not-too-distant future if I don't rein things in pretty soon. I don't want it to end, and I can't begin to imagine the trauma of having to actually sit down and watch Logopolis. But, having thought about it carefully, and considered the alternative possibility of watering down my Tom Baker diet by interspersing his stories with those of other incarnations, I decided - sod that! Fie to delayed gratification, and sensible rationing out of indulgent pleasures! Instead, I am just damn well going to max out on his Doctor, right here, right now, while I'm really into him. Because, frankly, I won't rest until I have, and any other Doctor will merely be Not Tom Baker until and unless I know that I have seen every single one of his stories. Then, and only then, will I be able to find it in me to entertain the possibility of anyone else in the role.

So it's goodbye to UKTV Drama now, because you're just going too slowly for me, I'm afraid. Time to plough wildly headlong through those remaining unwatched stories - and I'll leave bitter repentance of my foolish extravagance for the other side of Logopolis!

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