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: (Doctor Caecilius hands)
So! Film festival, day two. Here is the overall schedule for the day:

Saturday schedule.jpg

And here's what I did:

21. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), dir. Gordon Hessler / interview with Caroline Munro / Ray Harryhausen's Lost Treasures )

Interview with Katy Manning (aka Jo Grant from Doctor Who) )

Met Caroline Munro and got her autograph )

Doctor Who season 22 show-makers' interview )

Afterwards, I joined [ profile] newandrewhickey, [ profile] minnesattva and [ profile] innerbrat for the first 45 minutes or so of The Rocketeer (1991), a sort of larger-than-life SF comedy about a US stunt pilot in the 1940s who finds a jet-pack, with Jennifer Connelly as his under-impressed girlfriend. I could see it was good and would have stayed to watch the whole thing if there weren't competing features on the schedule, but there were: two live commentaries from the Tenth Doctor era, marking the fact that his first full season screened ten years ago now. Ten is much more my thing than Six, so off I slipped...

Live commentary on New Who 2.3 School Reunion )

Live commentary on New Who 2.13 Doomsday )

All this time, Galaxy Quest had been playing in another room, which is a pity, because once the Doctor Who stuff was over and I went to join [ profile] innerbrat, [ profile] minnesattva and [ profile] newandrewhickey in the screening, I realised what bloody good fun it was to watch at an actual con. But then again I have seen it multiple times before, and those live Doctor Who commentaries really were great, so I think I made the right choice.

After the film had finished, we went for food at a seriously good pizza / pasta place just down the road. It was nominally just a take-away / sit-in at fixed tables place, but the quality of the food was way better than you'd normally expect for a place like that, and along with the cute student room I was staying in and the well-appointed Co-op just below it, this was one of a number of things that really made me fall for the area where we were staying. Like, on one level, it was just edge-of-city-centre ring-roadish urban redevelopment, with a lot of medium-rise new-builds, but on another it did actually feel somehow quite modern and dynamic and nice to be in. In fact, hell, let's have a picture of it which fails to do justice to the intensity of the sunset on the Friday evening:

2016-08-26 20.27.12.jpg

22. Blood of the Tribades (2016), dir. Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein )

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strange_complex: (Cyberman from beneath)
Cor, is it really season finale two-parter time already? This season has gone fast! And although there have been two episodes which I found weak (Kill the Moon and In the Forest of the Night), on the whole it has been pretty strong - above all for the key themes and motifs developed and explored from different angles from episode to episode.

This episode certainly felt like a logical culmination to the season as a whole, but it also served up plenty of surprises, as well as some interesting plot ideas and some proper emotional weight )

For all that the fact of Missy collecting dead people had been well established throughout the season, I must say I never quite expected Doctor Who to do a katabasis story )

On Missy herself, woo-hoo to the spoilery goodness )

Smaller points )

Finally, obviously I knew the title of this episode from an early stage in the season, which is partly what has encouraged me to keep running Water-and-Breathing Watch )

OK, that's it - I am caught up, and am now off to bed. Looking forward to the final instalment tomorrow!

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strange_complex: (Janus)
I watched this on Saturday at my parents' house, but then also rewatched the whole two-parter after I'd returned to Leeds, so that I could judge it as a whole and reassess some its earlier parts in the light of later revelations. So this review will go back over The Rebel Flesh to some extent, as well as covering The Almost People. After all, as I said last week, The Rebel Flesh was very hard to judge in and of itself.

That Ending and the build-up to it - in my view, Moffat and Graham between them botch the emotional weight of the scene )

Anyway, obviously that's the main issue everyone has been talking about since the episode aired, but there are a few other things which struck me about either or both episodes.

The Rebel Flesh - acid baths, zeerust and badly parodied idioms )

The Almost People - Doctor Which, Rory and red balloons )

The coming two-parter - Roricus Pondicus and the she who tells )

All to be revealed in a scant 24 hours - woot!

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strange_complex: (Doctor Caecilius hands)
I'd already noticed a lot of self-referentiality in the Sixth Doctor era, but Trial of a Time Lord obviously takes the theme to a whole new level. A year off the air had certainly caused the programme to take a careful look at itself and pull its socks up a bit, and the result is definitely a stronger effort than season 22. Colin Baker is enjoyable throughout and the stories are fairly consistently decent. Having watched all the extras on the DVD though, its clear that with the benefit of hindsight most commentators feel that greater efforts were needed to reinvent the programme at this stage if it was to continue with any real success or credibility - and I can't disagree.

The opening credits are a good index of what's afoot. There's a very self-congratulatory interview on the first DVD with the creator of the Trial-era theme tune, in which he speaks of completely re-inventing it and trying to give it a 'timeless' feel. But the truth is that it is terrible - still beholden to the previous version (which I already disliked), and weighed down with the very dated-ness which he was trying so hard to avoid. Where at its centre there was once a living, pulsing bass-line, now we have some sort of inept flapping sound. Meanwhile the star-field visuals (which I really liked when they were introduced at the beginning of the JNT era) have now been distorted to the extent that they seem more like a spectacle of tasteless bling than a glimpse into the majestic mysteries of the Universe. People in all areas of the programme were obviously trying hard to up the ante, but too often they seem to have been directing their efforts in exactly the wrong direction.

Sixth Doctor: The Mysterious Planet )

Sixth Doctor: Mindwarp )

Sixth Doctor: Terror of the Vervoids )

Sixth Doctor: The Ultimate Foe )

And so that is me for season 23. What I am going to do now is polish matters off neatly by watching the only remaining Sixth Doctor story I haven't seen - Attack of the Cybermen - and then just leave this era of Doctor Who quietly behind...

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strange_complex: (TARDIS)
Sixth Doctor: Timelash )

Sixth Doctor: Revelation of the Daleks )

In spite of Revelation..., though, I found at this stage that I was getting pretty tired with the Sixth Doctor era. Season 22 simply isn't very good value for money, and the decision to broadcast it in 45-minute episodes exacerbates its problems, as you find yourself actively squirming with boredom and disappointment on the sofa, just waiting for each episode to be over. So, for a breath of fresh air, I dropped back in on the unfolding adventures of One, Susan, Ian and Barbara.

First Doctor: The Keys of Marinus )

With that, then, I think it's safe to say that my Who gland is much refreshed. I am ready to take on Trial of a Time Lord.

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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: (Adric Ugg boots)
Just bringing myself up to date with my Who reviews here, before I move on to an overall review of the books, films and cult TV I have been gorging myself on for the past twelve months...

Fifth Doctor: The Visitation )

Fifth Doctor: Black Orchid )

Fifth Doctor: Four to Doomsday )

And, as happened previously for the Third Doctor, I have now seen all of the Fifth Doctor stories currently available on DVD. So it's on to Sixie (OMG what am I letting myself in for? ;-p @ [ profile] miss_s_b) forthwith.

In the meantime, here are some common points which struck me about the Fifth Doctor era:
  • It's notably more Earth-focussed than the Fourth Doctor era – enough, in fact, for it to be acknowledged in the script at the beginning of Black Orchid, when the Doctor asks the TARDIS, “What’s the matter old girl? Why this compunction for planet Earth?” As for so many things from this period, knowing this helps make more sense of the similar approach of New Who. It also means more [pseudo-]historicals than in the Baker era, as the production team try to vary the precise character of the Earth setting a little.
  • Cliff-hangers in this period are also notably different from earlier eras. For Pertwee or Baker, they tend to be terrible things being about to happen to companions and / or big reveals of monsters or terrifying alien devices. For Davison, though, they are much more focussed on him: generally close-ups of his face registering horror, resignation, dismay etc.
  • The stories almost always start out well, but all too often a faint sense of ludicrousness begins to overlay the proceedings (usually at around the same time that the main monster is revealed), soon followed by pointlessness.
  • While the DVD extras of the Pertwee and Baker eras are full of people expressing admiration for each other and remembering what a great time they had, these ones largely consist of people politely trying not to be too rude about Jonathan Nathan Turner. I can't blame them.

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strange_complex: (Doctor Caecilius hands)
I'm pretty slow writing these at the moment, but still watching avidly, and writing when I can manage to.

Multiple Doctors: The Five Doctors )

Multiple Doctors: Dimensions in Time )

A digression on Tom Baker )

Third Doctor: The Curse of Peladon )

And that's me done with Three for the time being, since I have now seen all of his stories that are available on DVD. At some point I'll go back in fill in the rest via Other Means - but for the moment, I'm well into the Five era instead. Write-ups of that will appear... eventually...

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strange_complex: (Doctor Caecilius hands)
As far as I can remember, my total experience with Doctor Who novels before this one consists of:
  • One Target novelisation read when a child, I think involving Cybermen overseeing human slaves working in a quarry. I can't remember which Doctor was in it, but if anyone has the slightest idea what I'm on about, do let me know. Unhelpfully, I shall add that the slave-masters may not even have been Cybermen (but I'm pretty sure they weren't Daleks).
  • State of Change, a Virgin Missing Adventure in which the Sixth Doctor and Peri visit ancient Rome and find that all is not as it should be, read in my early 20s when a friend who was both a prominent member of OUWho and a fellow Classicist lent it to me.
With that rather minimal background, I suspect that launching into Lungbarrow was probably the Who novel equivalent of picking up A Brief History of Time after having read the Ladybird book of Space and maybe a GCSE Physics text-book. Certainly, there were a lot of allusions to Who continuity drawn from other novels which were completely lost on me - particularly regarding the companion character, Chris Cwej, and somebody called Roz whom he occasionally referred to. It also doesn't help that the events of the novel move backwards and forwards through time quite a lot without it always being clear that this is happening, while there are long dream-sequences towards the beginning and end of the story in which it becomes rather difficult to keep track of who is seeing and experiencing what, and who is an active participant in the events being described rather than merely a passive observer.

For all that, I'm glad I read it. It seems to be the novel that is referred to most often in fannish debate forums, so at least I know what all the fuss regarding looms is about now. It was also generally an enjoyable read. I liked the portrayal of early Gallifreyan history and the sense of atmosphere about the Lungbarrow house - although I did think that maybe there were slightly too many scenes of people wandering about trapped in its oppressive corridors and wrangling with one another over ancient feuds. I wouldn't say it was great literature, and I noticed a higher proportion of typos and spelling errors (e.g. 'populous' for 'populace') than I would expect in a professionally-produced publication, but it was imaginative and absorbing all the same.

Brief thoughts on the concept of canonicity, with Lungbarrow spoilers )

If you'd like to read Lungbarrow yourself, it is available in full on the BBC's Doctor Who ebooks page. But I can't help but suspect that if you did, you'd have found that out already. ;-)

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 [ 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)
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 [ 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.


Sunday, 29 May 2005 02:22
strange_complex: (Vampira)
Tonight a huge gang of us went out to see Dracula at the Grand Opera House in Belfast.

Theatrical opulence )

The play: modernistic yet true to the book )

Colin Baker fandom )

Colin Baker and Richard Bremmer autographs )

Finally, it was back in three car-loads to my place, to see this evening's Doctor Who and generally hoot loudly with laughter, do Dalek impressions and throw Creme Eggs on the floor (lordy, I do hope my landlords don't read this journal!).


strange_complex: (Default)

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