Archive for the ‘Doctor Who’ Category

Last week I asked “Was that the most expensive piece of fanwank ever?” and correctly pointed out “Yes, but it’ll only hold that record for seven days” beacause on the fanwank scale adding Micky, Jackie, K-9, a second Doctor, two flashback montages and the TARDIS towing(!) planet Earth) adds quite a few points and on the cost scale an extra twenty minutes of explosions and CGI adds quite a few pounds.

RTD is a very evil man. In many ways parts of this could be seen as sticking two fingers up at Rose shippers, at the McGann TV movie and at Lawrence Miles. Work it out for yourself which bit is which. But as all three more or less deserve two fingers, that’s okay.

In a lot of ways this was a distillation of the RTD years, which means that it was a second hand distillation of the New Adventures novels. Really BIG space opera scope, ambiguous Doctor, high emotion and companions getting shafted all over the place.

It was just too busy to get a grip on – there were several very good ideas that needed an episode each to properly explore. I honestly don’t know whether I liked it or not.

Was that the most expensive piece of fanwank ever?

Went to see 10,000 BC this afternoon. Oh boy, history, biology, geography, astronomy – they all get a hammering in this film. I can’t be bothered to even start listing everything that was goofy here.

It was one of the most by-the-numbers renditions of (the easy to understand bits of) Joseph Campbell’s monomyth that I’d seen in a while. I smiled at the bemusement when hunter-gatherers first came across the evidence of agriculture, but of course in Campbell’s scheme there has to be a ‘boon’ to take back home at the end (sorry, that was a spoiler). There were also bits lifted from the Bible, Stargate, Conan and 300, just in case the mention of Campbell misled you into thinking there were highbrow sources being used.

The action and CGI were very good, the actors managed to keep straight face. It’s not a bad movie in the sense that it’s exciting and visual, but it’s certainly one to watch with the brain switched off.

Oh, by the way, the Doctor Who and Star Trek trailers look amazing on the big screen.

Tooth and Claw By Chris PeersI’ve just updated the Dinosaurs in Miniature pages with the latest releases and re-releases.

Wargames Illustrated have finished re-releasing the DZ Miniatures prehistoric mammals. They’re also selling a set of rules called Tooth and Claw to tie in with this range. Written by Chris “every other set of rules out there” Peers who has pedigree on this area with Saurian Safari. My copy is in the post, so with luck I’ll be able to post a review soon.

There are also new rules out from Magister Militum called DinoMight and MM continue to expand their range of 10mm figures, now including some non-dinosaurs.

Finally on the pre-historic front Reaper have released a “Jungle Girl with Sabre Tooth Tiger” which is okay-ish except for the huge mold line in the photo and the fact that it’s an idea that’s been done several times before. Very nice cat though.

Meanwhile… It was only a matter of time… Pre-painted, collectible (i.e. random sealed boxes) miniatures for Doctor Who (via Forbidden Planet). They’re by Character Options which is a good sign (they make the very nice DW action figures) and the price is the same as for the Star Wars minis. On the downside (apart from the collectible nature) is the scale, 35mm, and the lack of anything from the classic series. Will I be buying them? They’re Doctor Who miniatures!

I was tagged by Jack on the grounds that I’ve “not done a meme for a while”.

Total Number of Books Owned

According to my LibrayThing profile, 858. I know I have at least one more to add to that list and I’d also need to subtract the 27 tagged as !borrowed or !sold. So 832. Minimum, as there may be more hiding somewhere that I haven’t added yet.

Last Book Bought

A couple of out of print role playing games from eBay. Last ‘real’ book would appear to be Clarissa Oakes by Patrick O’Brian which I found in a bookshop in Amsterdam and made Lettice buy because I’d only just bought something else there and the shop assistant was a bit on the scary side.

Last Book Read

I finished re-reading Human Nature this morning. I’ve been wanting to refresh my memory since the TV version came out. The book is bloodier and does a better job of creating the historical context. However it does have a number of elements that are really superfluous and which the TV version correctly ignored.

Five books that mean a lot to me

In reverse chronological order in my life:

  1. Life by Richard Fortey

    I bought this whilst on holiday in Tennessee visiting and so it reminds me of a great time as well as being a great book. Fortey takes a look at the history of life on Earth from the moment if started to the dawn of human history. Richard Dawkins did the same trip backwards in The Ancestor’s Tale but for me Fortey’s book is more engaging.

  2. Ships of the Star Fleet, Volume One

    Very, very geeky. But as well as being one of the best Treknical fandom works ever it’s also the first book I bought online.

  3. Thieves’ World

    I could have listed several works of fantasy or science fiction that I read during my adolesence – The Lord of the Rings, Dune, the Pern novels and The Colour of Magic prime amongst them, but this collection of low fantasy stories set in a seedy city at the arse end of an empire is the one that stuck in my mind the most.

  4. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

    I was the pefect age for this when it was first published. And from this book sprung my interest in RPGs and wargames. It has a lot to answer for.

  5. Read About Me and the Yellow-Eyed Monster

    A childhood treat – a book with me and my family and my friends in it.

Four People You’re Tagging With This Meme


When you see this post, quote from Doctor Who on your blog/journal.

Points at the top of the page, I have a quote from Doctor Who there all the time, but here’s another one:
“My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you, I never answer letters and you don’t like my tie.”

Anyway, The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords — A bulging set of homages to SF/Fantasy – Harry Potter/Wizard of Earthsea; Captain Scarlet; Peter Pan; Flash Gordon; Return of the Jedi.

Harold Saxon, PM seems more based on John Culshaw’s Tony Blair in Dead Ringers than the real thing, and the “Britain, Britain, Britain” opening to one of his speeches was highly reminiscent of Tom Baker’s voice overs for Little Britain.

All of which briefly makes it all seem like some sort of attempt to screw with the minds of the media studies/crossover/slash/post modernism/irony obessessed sectors of fandom. Which actually makes me like it slightly more.

The ninth Doctor said that he didn’t do domestic, but here the Master apparantly does domestic violence, which is terribly petty and human of him. Is this meant to be the point? Without the demi-god socierty of Time Lords the Doctor becomes greater, more God like, whilst the Master becomes less, more mortal? His final choice to die a mortal death rather then be chained like Loki might be a pointer in that direction.

Martha, she’ll be back, but maybe not for much of net year. But even if she leaves now for good, I disagree with the people who think that her character’s been hard done by. Her love for the Doctor, he total faith and trust in him, became the key to defeating the Master (without that trust being manipulated and betrayed) and she decides at the end that “it’s him, not her” and that she is more than good enough, and that somewhere there’s a stubbly paeds doctor who doesn’t yet know what’s going to hit him. It’s not the story arc that a lot of people wanted, but it works and it is a positive thing for Martha.

The Doctor is the loser here. He saves the world but loses his oldest friend/enemy. His companions re-evaluate their place in the lopsided relationship, but he doesn’t. Taking for granted that modern Doctor Who is ‘about’ the relationship between the Doctor and the companion(s) can next year show some sign of growth on the Doctor’s side?

A final observation: In many ways the John Nathan Turner years didn’t happen as far as Russell T Davies is concerned. Most of the references to the Master’s and Doctor’s past came from the Third Doctor era. The depiction of the Time Lords picks up in 60s and 70s aspects and avoids the 80s (not such a bad move). The returning villains (Autons, Daleks, Cybermen (sort of), Macra, The Master) all predate 1975. The way the Daleks and Cybermen are portrayed owes more to their early appearances than their later ones. The Doctor’s lost at least a few decades and probably a few hundred years if he’s ‘only’ 900-odd in the new series. Just how much of his history did the Time War wipe clean away?

I don’t do squee. I’m male and an old-school fan and sensible and self conscious. But….

How bloody amazing was that?

About ten minutes in I was wondering whether this was a sly remake of the DWM comic strip End of the Line and was expecting a similarly downbeat ending.

Then Derek Jacobi started dropping hints and any thoughts about this episode’s supposed plot went straight out of my head. Instead I was on the edge of my seat pointing at the screen, and maybe, just a little, going …


Ahem. Sorry.

Uh oh, I haven’t been doing weekly reviews of Doctor Who episodes this season. Spoilers below.

“Smith and Jones” – Good intro for Martha. Actual plot a bit of a side show but still more substantial than two years ago. Her family no worse than Jackie and Micky (first episode versions, before they got cool) except for the father and his girlfriend, who were just embarassing for all the right reasons and all the wrong reasons. 7/10

“The Shakespeare Code” – Full of fizzing dialogue and sexual tension. A nice take on the old “magic and science co-existed at the start of the universe, but science beat magic” myth that’s been part of Doctor Who for some time. But if the witches used words as their tools of power, why was there a big string of numbers in the speech they added to the play? 9/10

“Gridlock” – Total continuity-fest. Face of Boe. Macra. Gallifrey. Time War. As bad as anything from the 80s. But because it had a decent emotional core and was very well written, all the continuity seemed natural and worked. Except the Macra, who were just deliberately gratuitous. Really good fun. Boe’s message was exactly as everyone predicted. More interesting was Tennant’s comment in Confidential about how Boe is right but the Doctor isn’t wrong. 8/10

“Daleks in Manhatten” – Should have been brilliant. Looked good (up until the final reveal of the hybrid at least), but somehow feels empty afterwards. Some odd bits. The Doctor was a lot less talkative than usual. The Daleks were behaving like their 1960s versions. Yes, we get that the Doctor and the Daleks are now mirrors of each other, but please can we just exterminate some people and get on with it? 6/10

Meanwhile, I’ve watched “The War Machines” and “Vengeance on Varos” recently.

“The War Machines” is a very odd story, it’s the first story set in the present day (with the possible exception of Planet of the” Giants, but that doesn’t count) and the first to feature the British Army. But unlike all the UNIT stories that follow it feels too short rather than too long. The threat of the War Machines is never really made obvious and the climax is rushed. Also, Dodo gets the worst exit of any companion, and the Doctor is called “Doctor Who” on screen for the only time. It also has a superb performance from William Hartnell and provides agood introduction to Ben and Polly.

“Vengeance on Varos” looks incredibly prescient these days. Reality TV has almost caught up with it, all we need to do is move from mental to physical torture and we’re there. But the plot needed some major tightening – scrap the whole mad scientist / turning Peri into a bird sub plot and there would have been room to come up with a less contrived and rushed solution to Sil’s approaching invasion fleet. Doesn’t Owen Teale (he was the lead cannibal in Torchwood’s “Countrycide”) look young? The sixth Doctor demonstrates his callous streak here and poor old Colin Baker only gets a few bits of decent script with most of the good stuff going to Martin Jarvis and Nabil Shaban, both of whom excel.

Let’s talk about the tenth Doctor’s ongong obsession with Rose. Three episodes post-Rose and we get at least one reference and an anguished expression in every one.

Read the rest of this very true thing…

I take it that all the shouting and honking of horns outside means that England did okay in the footie?

Doctor WhoFear Her last night was an interesting companion piece to The Idiot’s Lantern earlier this season. Both set in London, both take place around a major televised event, both feature a single alien, both feature an abusive father, both have one of the TARDIS crew taken out of the action by the alien.

The differences – East London not North London, set in the near future not the recent past, a lonely alien child not a hungry alien monster, the haunting memory of a dead father not a n everyday living father, the Doctor captured not Rose.

Both stories also have low body counts (especially by DW standards), only the unfortunate Mr Peacock and the Wire itself died in The Idiot’s Lantern and no one dies in Fear Her.

The news reader, Huw Edwards, really hammed up those lines about the torch being a beacon of hope and love and so on. I would have preferred a couple of lines of technobabble over that.

Loved the Doctor lighting the Olympic flame. But I suspect that in reality there would be a back up runner around to take over. Anyone fancy tripping the runner up in seven years time to see?

The plot was predictable and the production seemed a little lifeless apart from the two leads – possibly David Tennant’s best performance yet and a good showing from Billie Piper. Nice to see positive Rose in full swing (literally with the pick-axe), but clingy Rose is really annoying. Oh well, nect two weeks should sort that out. 😉

Overall, another good solid 8/10.

I know I haven’t written much about Love and Monsters. I can’t think of much to write that doesn’t turn into a rant. I can’t believe that some people saw it as a negative portrayal of fans – it was incredibly positive for about fans in general, just negative about the sort of bossy, uber-fan represented by Victor Kennedy. I did enjoy it for the most part but Peter Kay’s performance kind of spoilt it for me. 8/10 for sheer novelty value and Marc Warren’s performance, maybe not something we want every week but let’s have another experiment of some sort next year.