Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jared finally reviews Partners in Crime!

Yes, everyone has already done it. But I finally got a copy (off my brother) and at least I'm in the frontrunners of the Australian camp to review it...

Done 'live' with [rough] time caps. Enjoy.

14: 39 - 14 minutes is a notable figure for this episode. It's the length into the story when I laughed for the first time. Which is incredible because thus far, the episode seems to have been mostly one big setup for some freakish 'super joke' about the Doctor and Donna not meeting each other, but doing the exact same thing. Like most cases of super-sizing it doesn't really work. I like a good running joke, but it isn't a running joke because there are no jokes in between to break it up. It's a joke that swamps everything, making the story secondary to it (because this a comedy story!) but the problem is simple... it isn't really funny. It's a cute idea, but if all you're seeing is this one joke it becomes boring and very predictable - oh, look, the Doctor said something. I wonder if Donna is about to say the exact same thing? Oh, she did it, how riotously funny.

What's interesting is that the joke that made me laugh was so simple. Donna asks her granddad if he's ever seen a Blue Box. His response: "Is that some kind of slang?"

THERE! Something nice and simple, thrown out there, instantly disposable, utterly charming, very believable. That's what a joke's meant to be. Jesus Christ. The only comparable thing was when that black chick said "I want to have sex with you, David Tennant". But I couldn't see how that was really funny, even though it was meant to be, given that that's a simple fact of life for Davo rather than something downright wacky. And I have been stunned by the lack of other jokes... well, I guess there was the whole "I'm too good for him!" from the fat chick but, again, nothing really strong. I was expecting at the least when Super Nanny had freeze-framed the shot from the surveillance cameras to find Donna we would see a shot of the screen and the time lapse had got her with her eyes closed and mouth gurning wildly - it may be low brow but you have to admit it can be funny - or make some snide comments about being able to tell Donna is the spy because of her waistline, etc. But nothing. NOTHING.

How good is Bernard Cribbins, though? What a class act. I'm a teensy bit disappointed from my brief skip-to-the-credits to see that he plays the same character that he did in the Christmas special, though. I thought for a glorious moment that he had played three different roles within the space of a year in DW, including two of them within back-to-back stories, making him the new Peter Purves/Conrad Westmaas.

Ah, Conrad. I love that name, mate. I've been trying to work it into every single blogpost...

Catherine Tait also seems good as Donna, getting to a good start with her character in a more stable frame of mind than the last time we met, so I'm happy. Even if she hasn't done much yet. Which is funny because this is meant to be her story... let's see how things develop.

16:55 - "CORRRRR, fascinating!" The sight of the word "Adipose" causes David Tennant to impersonate his favourite On the Buses character.

Really, just wanted to say that last scene was tremendously good. Heart touching without going "Okay, stand by, we're about to touch your heart" like just about every piece of television does.

I can see where the talk about Catherine Tait's acting comes from... well, I could see it from miles away before I started talking and its simply her professional background first and foremost with her public image running behind that but really what I mean is that I can see where the talk about Catherine Tait's acting from people who weren't Tait-haters at the time of The Runaway Bride is... some stodgy direction. Who the hell decided that she should deliver a monologue straight down the barrel of the camera whilst looking up into the sky? Frigging amateurs. It is such an unnatural pose that the suspension of disbelief is broken before she opens her mouth, and the audience may assume that it is in someway due to her acting.

Her performance as a whole is solid. It's just fairly externalized, which is probably for the best. Donna is a no-nonsense heart-on-the-sleeve sort of character so it's natural for her to be more outwardly expressive when she speaks. This tends to be referred to as 'stage-y' though, because it is the form of acting generally seen in a stageplay, because a performance has to reach the back seats (Not this one exactly, the general form - this is very minor in comparison). This outwardly expressive form is unpopular in television because people think it looks unnatural - see the trashing of the bloke who played Danny in The Satan Pit for example. The thing is, a lot of people actually talk that way and you'll notice it a lot if you just look around but a) TV people are meant to be idealised via unspoken rule and b) You generally never get as close to most people you meet in real life as a TV camera does, so anything ultra-expressive from six inches away does look unnatural.

Tangent ends.

17:18 - Yes, I noticed that the Doctor is alone, thank you.

Big Finish will be pissing themselves in terror now that the Tenth Doctor has been established as both a needy loser who can't go five minutes without a companion AND not liking to talk to himself. They'll NEVER be able to make a range for him!

17:50 - OMG! Doctor and Donna missed each other alone! Oh, please, somebody bring me a corset!

18:27 - What the hell? We're getting a live feed of Donna using the toilet? Well... I'm not complaining.

19:02 - Hmmm. It's quite a lucky coincidence that it takes her four hours to ablute. Though, really, wouldn't it have been easier for the Doctor to break in the night before. He has a sleeping-in-closet fetish now, does he? Hey, and has anyone else at all noticed that Catherine Tait has fairly large breasts?

19:49 - See THAT's what I'm talking about re: small jokes. Getting a call on your mobile in the middle of an attempted stealth raid. You know it's the kind of thing that would happen to you in real life.

Supernanny really isn't impressing me so far. You managed to find out that she was hiding in the toilets. After four hours.Wow. That is totally reason to gloat.

19:58 - "I warn you, I'm not a patient woman"

FOUR HOURS. Have I said that enough?

20:18 - ...the reporter? Awesome! RTD, this is the stuff I like. THIS is clever! He's winning me back gosh darnit...

20:20 - Ooh, a nice shot of Catherine Tait that looks mid-orgasm. There'll be some screencaps of that one.

20:58 - "You've got no right to do this now LET ME GO!" Oh dear. I don't know if there's a single fictional character to ever say those words and live.

23:53 - Lawrence Miles can officially go and fuck himself. I don't know if you've noticed but he's taken one quote from RTD that the test of any young writer is how he would write 'the window box scene' from this episode and see how they do it as an excuse for all of his latest tirades and it looks like it will continue until this season ends. I've been dying to see 'the window box scene' for this very reason, to see why this has instilled such hatred from Lawrence. To firstly address the quote: I guess it's a good point from RTD. A lot of the job is in describing not action action (cars flying off cliffs!) but action (guy sipping nervously from coffee cup, not noticing as the scalding fluid flicks onto his shaking hand). And it would indeed be the perfect test for that.

The scene itself: god-damned masterpiece. This cancels out entirely the dull opening 14 minutes. Man. Perfection. I love dialogue free stuff when it's done well. How brilliant to see a sustained mime conversation between two such brilliant comic performers. I can't explain how much I love this scene... if my player didn't freeze if I tracked too much I'd watch it again. Right now.

The really brilliant thing - YOU UNDERSTAND THE WHOLE SCENE! Just about every word. Forget Voyage of the Damned, this is how Davies got his rep.

25: 54 - That direction again. BREVITY. "Unless she's got a sonic device and that's very unlikely" - ideally when Tennant says that Donna should be in the window box, they go down just as the doors burst open then JUMP CUT: sonic screwdriver on window box controls, keeping a close shot of the controls (and thus, where the box will arrive) as we hear the sound of the wire running back (designed to sound as embarassing as possible) and we eventually see a sheepish Tennant and unimpressed Donna move into view. Let's see how it actually goes...

26: 16 - Hmm, reverse of expectations there. BUT did she really need a sonic screwdriver to do that? I'll wait to see if it's necessary for the plot later on...

30: 40 - "I'm trying to help you, Matron..." All these dark speeches from the Doctor about how he's a right hard bastard and will fuck you up six ways from sunset if you dare step into his patch are, IMHO, a little bit tiresome and feel incongruous in little comic stories like this. I mean, did Tom Baker soliloquise to Graff Vynda K and Meglos about how they wouldn't be able to sit down for a week after attempting to cross him? Not that I can remember... he generally focussed on taking the piss out of a badguy until too many lives were at stake and then... did something cool. I really would welcome a return to that kind of subtle, undermining Doctor at the next regeneration.

31: 08 - "Do you know what happens when you hold two identical sonic devices together?" It still doesn't need to have been a sonic screwdriver, erm, pen. Tennant could have used any weird way of getting out of that, even the old Troughton "pull smoke bomb I've never used before out of my jacket"

Maybe I'm getting a bit weird but the Doctor's the only person shown to have had a sonic screwdriver before. I can accept Jack's sonic blaster, but this is a step too far!

31: 48 - They have a computer core... behind a sliding panel of concrete that only needs the slightest nudge to move... in a janitor's closet.... well, they don't seem to be very smart in other regards so I'll buy it.

32: 06 - "If that man's an alien then he'll have alerted the Shadow Proclamation-" ... is Russ having some trouble with words here? The Shadow Proclamation is implictly established in Rose as a treaty by its use in dialogue, as made further clear by the name - a proclamation is an announcement, after all. So how the Doctor can alert a book containing a treaty and, furthermore, how that book can take decisive action against Supernanny, is a complete and utter mystery to me.

Wouldn't it have made more sense to say "If that man's an alien then he'll have alerted the Judoon"?

35: 59 - ...did some wires get crossed? I'm seeing an unrealistically cute army of midget, square teletubbies being born, and Murray Gold is giving me the standard "EPIC HORROR SHOCK". It... really doesn't feel epic. The terrible acting from the extras does not help, btw.

36: 31 - It is also painfully obvious that they filmed extras looking at nothing and CGI'd them in later. Okay, so that's ALWAYS the case with stuff like this, but having all the extras standing in lines in small, square areas of the shot is not the way to make it more convincing. Who the hell directed this? If only I could have been arsed to check...

36: 40 - "A million people are going to die!" Oh, so that's why I'm meant to care. Thanks for that. I was starting to wonder. Seriously, I was.

38:00 - Fat people live! And that IS a shock ending in an RTD script..

38:55 - Wow, the nursery looks really cool. It's pretty rare for Mill effects to really make me take a second look, too.

39: 49 - But, Doctor Who is really keeping up the old traditions of massively variable affects. Because that CGI shot of Supernanny talking to the Adipose is, by far and away, the single worst CSO shot I have ever seen. Who directed this crap? Come on, own up. One of you had to. Was it YOU, Hawes? I've had my eye on you since TCI...

40: 56 - Okay, not keen on the suggestion that until he met Martha the Doctor was a rabid infaticidal psychopath but I'll let it slide for the moment...

41: 27 - Doctor, please please please please please please don't save the Matron's life. She is one of the most irritating villainess' you've ever encountered. Not quite up there with Excelsior from The Last but very close. Is this the woman who played Cancer in B7 or something? Also, another terrible FX shot as she hangs there in mid-air. I know, there's the thing about pointing out terrible FX in DW being a bit weird, but I say that I'll stop it when they have the balls to do more alien planets. Why not guys? You say the effects won't convince? Well, they don't know and we're on Earth. So come on, then! Give me some Sontar action!

41: 30 - "If I NEVER see you again it'll be tooo soon!" See, this is what I'm talking about. How much irritation can you put into one. Fucking. Line. Kill her, kill her NOW! She's seconds away from saying "I WISH I could say it was a PAINLESSS death..." FFS! I mean, she delivers that as if it's meant to be clever and original. Oh, well done. Only 5.5 billion people have come up with that before you, bitch.

41: 32 - Ooh, Tennant's pissed off with her as well. Good lad. Still sticking to those pesky morals, though...

41: 51 - "Oh, I'm FAR more than that........ I'm nanny!"




42:07 - YES! Ack... searched all over my computer for Smashmouth's Pacific Coast Party to listen to in full and add to the celebratory feel of that one glorious moment of 'Nanny go Plop-Plop' as the scene should be officially known, but sadly I couldn't find it, and can't think of any other similarly up-beat songs... oh, fuck, Steel My Sunshine! Well, moment's gone now. Dang.

42:36 - "And I'm going to report you for... madness!" Yeah, that's a moment of comic relief that didn't quite work. I thought she'd be more prone to say "What the hell was that all about?!" Or ask them. I'm not sure why she should be pissed off at them either. They untied her. She was the one who got herself tied up again. The chair thing is kind of funny, though.

43:03 - Donna has her bags packed in the boot of her car... CLASSIC!

44:16 - Fuck you, emo Doctor. You used to be cool.

44:22 - "I just wanna mate".. you know how some people run their words into each other? Sometimes this has hilarious consequences.

44:26 - Oh, right, Donna heard it too. Well, that takes the wind out of my sails.

Surely the funnier way to do the joke would be for Donna to say "Sounds good to me!" and strip off with ridiculous speed? No? Okay, I admit it I just wanted to see her tits.

Hehe, jokes about the Doctor exploiting people for casual sex in DW. Charles Daniels must be loving it.

44:38 - "Just as well, because I'm not having any of that nonsense! You're just a long streak of... nothing!" Yes! A companion who completely, fully, absolutely no-doubt has-never-been-so-sure-of-anything-in-their-life is NOT in love with the Doctor! And points for the most hostile atmosphere for a Doctor-companion send off.

45:10 - Awww, the Doctor takes her bags in. Isn't that cute? A really lovely establishment of the dynamic.

45:56 - I still don't believe those rumours about Billie Piper coming back. No sir. Okay, they aren't rumours as such because there's photos onset, official press releases, RTD has gone on record saying "I AM NOT JOKING YOU BASTARDS ROSE IS COMING BACK!" but I don't believe any of it. Not a word. And if you try and convince me by Billie Piper appearing, in this episode, I say no. I think Billie Piper just showed up for the role of "woman who Donna tells about bin", what with her being desperate for any work going, and the Director was too pissed off his brain to notice.

Oh, what? She just WALKS OFF? Oi! You lazy tart! What happens when Sylvia's looking for her car keys? Huh? Fuck you, inconsiderate-woman-who-just-happens-to-look-identical to Rose!

Seriously, though, I can't help but wonder what the hell the gigantic companion gang-bang planned for the end of the series hopes to achieve. I mean, everyone agrees that Rose sucked with Tennant in Series 2. Everyone. She's great as a headstrong companion to the Doctor equivalent of Jack Black - the possibly-stoned loser who shouts a lot, bigs himself, but bumbles through life and gets everything wrong - but when she's with a Doctor who gets things done she becomes an insipid pop-culture spewing groupy. Somehow she transforms into Charlotte Pollard.

Wait a minute... Gary Russell became script editor in Series 2. I JUST BLEW MY OWN MIND!!!

Nice that they have Rose's song from Doomsday in the soundtrack right there, though. Let us celebrate the one good thing about that scarring episode.

46:10 - ... she fades away? Huh. Well, I guess that's sort of a reason for not sticking around to see Sylvia. But give somebody else the message! If Sylvia doesn't get her car back SHE WILL TRANSFORM INTO DAVROS!

46:26 "Here it is. The TARDIS. It's bigger on the inside than it-" "Oh, I know all that bit!"

Another punch-the-air good moment, RTD! After the unbelievably long-winded and poorly integrated intro of Martha to the TARDIS at the end of Smith & Jones this is a wonderful breath of fresh air. It couldn't be done better. I mean... I can't be the only one over the moon that he's stopped rewriting the script of Rose. And I say that as somebody who loved Rose. But you can't tell me that it didn't get old after Everything Changes, Invasion of the Bane and Smith & Jones. (Yeah, Bane was done by Gareth Roberts. But it had way too many moments blatantly cribbed off it..)

And then Bernard Cribbins does a crazy dance. I really can't think of a better way to end every story. Will this become a regular feature? Instead of the time vortex the credits scroll up over Cribbo attempting the moon walk whilst shouting gibberish and/or dialogue from his Fawlty Towers appearance? I say yes.

In the trailer

Let's see... David Tennant manages to make 'Ancient Rome' sound like "Hey Gerome!" ... does Maloney have fake teeth there? Or is that just the worst wig ever made? He looks like a pissed off Roger Rabbit. Nice sexism, though... "I can tell you where the winds blowin' right now, mate!" I don't get it. Is that right before she does the "Pull my finger" joke?... HUMAN SACRIFICE! It's been years, it really has... "We're in Pompeii.. and it's volcano day!" Ehh. Could the trailer have made that any more obvious by that point? Really?

JAMES STRONG! That's the bastard. Fire him. From a cannon.

Anyway, to sum up... probably 7/10. Past the dull, single joke of the opening 14 minutes this was quite a lot of fun. The idea behind the aliens was silly, but then it was meant to be, and the majority of the humour worked really well. Along with the fact that there's no year 5 billion story next week, RTD has broken the formula mould the series had in place previously which I definitely stay is a step in the right direction. Given the nature of the story no harm is taken from the weak effects, only from the quite distinctly awful direction and Sarah Lancashire... hang on. Is that her who played the Rachnoss? God, she always hams it up in this show, doesn't she. Oh, sorry I was mid-sentence wasn't I... as "Mrs Foster". I'll set aside my concerns over the season arc, and proclaim that this story looks like a success from here, and I look forward to the rest.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Greel Talk

Here's one of the ideas I've had that's incredibly nerdy, even by my standards. A pisstake of the film clip for R. Kelly's seminal Real Talk, which was noticeable for being massively inept and exclusively released to YouTube, where in his place is taken by a man in the costume worn by 'Weng-Chiang', aka Magnus Greel, in the 1977 classic The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Naturally the title becomes 'Greel talk', the tedious, poorly written argument between Kelly and his partner becomes a phone call from Greel to one of his henchmen with as many cliches as possible, etc.

It will doubtless never be made. But because it is a terribly rainy day, I just wrote the lyrics, although possibly that terms a mite misleading. Ideally they wouldn't really be sung, especially as they don't match the established meter, but rather intoned in much the same hostile and blustery manner as all of the dialogue delivered by Michael Spice. It's quite important that he sounds like Spice for the joke, as he has the single most generic DW villain voice ever.

For reference, the original clip (WARNING: Quite awful):

And here are my lyrics. Enjoy (or not)

(Spoken)Snivelling poltroon... why do you trouble me at this hour? No, that cannot be... contain yourself... SILENCE! You want my instructions?

Odious runt, I will not lower myself to bicker over who's to blame
I call no names - Greel talk!
See, you fool, the only thing that matters at this stage
Is not who lives or who dies, but how many and can I watch
Greel talk
Just because your little friend claims to have seen me in the company of the Daleks
Running war machines, ranting and raving and pontificating thusly, tell me, you slopshod buffoon

(music stops suddenly)

Did he say I was not the only madman?
Did he say there were other madmen?
Were there other madmen there?
So then, you malingering malcontent...

(music comes back)

How the fuck did that pulchritudinous pipsqueak know I was with the Daleks
When our gigantic satellite war-room BE SILENT YOU SHALL NOT INTERRUPT ME!
You have been in my service since the days of yore and you heed any gormless dunce
I cannot fathom why you treat with those blithering block-headed bunglers as is!
They do nothing but accuse me of treason when I am just trying to conquer the world
Magnus crushed this, Greelsy I heard you stole that planet
Greel talk - stay your tiresome prattling!
Did I not order you to kill the Doctor, steal his TARDIS, and bring to me the blueberry muffin yesterday?
Indeed, your visage was merrisome then!
What? Gave who some infernal crystals?
Idiot, I have given no such red crystals!
Are you INSANE?!
I see what your problem is, aside from your mental conditions
Ceaselessly your loose tongue works its demonics, telling your inspid ignorami my motherfucking schemes when
They do not treat with us, they do not fight with us, besides
What they kill I do not eat!
Greel talk

You have achieved contact with my mothership an WHAT?
Malcontent! I have followed their orders to the letter!
Greel talk, and hold your tongue
Spack me? Impudent wretch, I shall spack you!
I care not for you impotent tantrums
I tire of your comapny I shall return to my disused factory and take all of my apparati
You need not worry about me anymore
And the next time your trigger finger itches
Go and shoot some Rutan for Commander Kris
Bah, you are probably ALREADY doing such
You are going to destroy what?
Bitch I wish you WOULD destroy my crystalline tricillicate drive!

And that's where they end prematurely, because the original last three lines are

with your triflin ass, milton, you bogus girl, milton
start your car up and get ready to take me home,
this bitch then lost her motherfucking mind

And... I can't even begin to decipher them. Who's Milton? He hasn't been so much as referenced in passing!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PMG Season 4 Reviewed

Faith Stealer

Okay, okay, when it comes to a season that already had two 'event' stories with three others of the 'normal' variety, one of those event stories so big that it tries to integrate every still-living cast member of the show into one ludicrously long plot, you can understand that the finale won't seem too big. In fact, it will inevitably seem so trifling next to the self-consciously 'big' muck at the start of the season that you might as well make it as trad and trivial as possible to save time. Even though it means that the season unarguably ends with a whimper, I see the logic behind that.

But THEN... to start the next season, a season that only actually has four stories in it, with a story with exactly the same scope and relevance.... I don't even know what that is? Chutzpah? Hubris? Frigging insanity? I can't be arsed to actually go on Google and research how long they had to prepare this season, how many months exactly they had to write a good debut story for a, but that time was probably all spent cyber-stalking Ewen Campion-Clarke, copying everything he wrote into a notepad before sticking it into a manilla envelope and sending it to RTD with "RIP THIS SHIT OFF!" written on the side in big letters. Well, that's what Ewen himself tells me, and this season is terribly thought out, so it all checks out. I realise that Gary Russell was concentrating on The Next Life at this point (And we all know how well that turned out, hey?) but some forethought would have been handy here..

This intro may lead one to believe that Faith Stealer is bad. Well, it depends on context - as a story it's good. As a season opener it's DEAR GOD WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?

One of its roles as season opener is to give the audience a taste of what the oncoming year of stories may bring. It only fulfills this role with regards to one facet of the show - C'rizz, as he goes batshit insane. Yes, all of those of you who desperately want to hear "C'rizz, kill me!" and "I'm sorry my love... but this HAS TO BE!!!" again and again and again until your ears begin to bleed - this is the season for you! Oh, sorry, I suppose that was a bit insensitive of me, considering that you're all in Big Finish's imagination.

Anyway, in a plot twist so left field that its nearly worthy of Nev "Peri is a teenaged mother and functional retard" Fountain, the Kro'ka actually does something helpful and points the Doctor and Charley to a place that could do C'rizz the world of good. The sinister laughing after he does so suggests this is yet another completely frigging deranged 'experiment' of his and we are possibly meant to care. I think that's the last we see of him this story which is a very good thing.

Now, the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz arrive in the Multihaven, and the quality of the story from here on is directly proportional to the obviousness with which it has been written for the Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem - very high! The three, being all jolly-good friends again, arrive in The Multihaven, which is basically a stock market trading in religions. A scene that tells you straight up that, unlike any of the last season at all, this story is going to be charming, funny, and understated, is one of the earliest when the three arrive and are interviewed by Assisstant Bordenan about their religion - when they realise that they can't be accepted having no religion, the Doctor and Charley explain that they are The Tourists, who worship the Lord C'rizz and ritually have a pot of tea every morning. Yeah, it loses something in print but there hasn't been anything like this since... well, I guess since the softer moments of Seasons of Fear.

Religion is a topic that DW tends to shy away from, because in spite of the fact that everything about the show makes it clear that there is no God and the Doctor would find any of our Earthly religions a complete joke, there are still people like the DWADs around who freak me out, by being very Christian and Doctor Who fans. And some of these people have, honest to... er, God, complained about Big Finish's atheist bias. Allow me to blaspheme - Jesus Christ! You honestly think that a thousand-year old bloke from another planet with the mastery of time travel, who constantly states that he doesn't believe in magic and that science is the only truth, who has seen an unimaginably vast array of worlds with their own systems of worship, is going to show up in your planet, in your country, by your church, get handed a pamphlet by your sorry arse, read through it, and then say "Well, that sounds about right. When do I start worshipping?" If so, you disgust me.

I have to applaud Graham Duff for having a story about religion with its tongue planted so firmly in cheek that it's impossible for anyone bar George Pell and Shiekh Taj Al-Din Hamed Abdallah Al-Hilali to be offended. (And given the fact that Al-Hilali appeared on The Chaser alongside Anthony Mundine, he gets the benefit of my doubt and I assume he'd be cool with it) There's many inventive and humourous religions at work in the Mutlihaven - the worshippers of Whoops the god of accidents, those who believe that salvation can be found in the Universe's one source of perfection - music, and the Bishop Parash who runs the church of... erm, Calbari? Which is funny because it's just a weed that sells really well, hence 'economic miracle' . I'm writing this like a month after hearing this, you need to realise. But there's some other wacky cults around, you can bet on it.

The font of all villainy in this story is an odious creep named Lan Cadre, who we know is the badguy from the start beyond his mixed camp-and-menacing old guy voice, due to the fact that he's the only character who doesn't have any funny lines. (Well, except C'rizz) He is the grand master of the Church of Lucidity, which worships the crackling ball Hermaculite which, curiously enough, lives in a burnt-out wardrobe bigger on the inside than out.. he also makes crystals fall out of people's skulls. Okey-dokey...

It doesn't take long for Cadre to turn the visiting Bishop Parash into a gibbering loony who acts like a five year-old, and much less time to make C'rizz completely insane. The real problem, however, is that Cadre is, completely predictably, taking over the entire Multihaven!

The Doctor, bizarrely, is still concerned with C'rizz's wellbeing, even after C'rizz attempts to strangle Charley to death. For a second time. Getting to be a bit of a habit, old boy, but strangely enough Charley seems quite unfazed. Anyway, after the Kro'ka's suggestion for helping C'rizz turned out to be not-so-brilliant the Doctor decides that the obvious candidate would be the Bordinan's personal physician.

Who turns out to be a psychopathic mofo named Garfolt who shouts out "I'M GOING TO TORTURE YOU AND HAVE FUN DOING IT!!" the instant he meets C'rizz. I have no idea why Garfolt is in the story, why he has so many torture devices, why he decides to use all of them on C'rizz, or how the hell he got hired as the Bordenan's physician. But I love him. I'm not sure if the C'rizz torture scenes were meant to be side-splittingly entertaining as they ended up or whether it's a side effect of Neil Bett's Tekker-esque performance, but I get the distinct vibe that Duff isn't a fan of the character and decided to incur his wrath in an immature and entirely gratuitous manner. And I like it.

This is the problem with Faith Stealer, though... the plot's a bit of a mess. C'rizz's mental breakdown is ultimately irrelevant to the rest of proceedings save for a reason for him to be shunted around in a rather painful and angsty-subplot. All the talk of the TARDIS is really irrelevent as well. There are a great many scenes that are massively entertaining but don't add anything to proceedings. It's like Duff had a thin plot but felt the need to add padding.

But then there's the curious thing... the story ends in 'blink and you miss it' mode. The explanations for what's going on with the skull-crystals, what Hermaculite is, WHY Cadre is doing any of this shit are over lightning quick. And then the Doctor points out that Cadre doesn't even really exist, causing him to go "Oh shit!" and vanish which is completely baffling I can tell you, and, from memory, the traditional explosion followed by the Doctor appointing a random person he met during the course of the story to become the new ruler of this civilisation. Trad or what? Most bizarrely of all, the idea that the Hermaculite Cabinet could be the TARDIS is barely flagged up at all by the cast. Whuh?

Anyway, Faith Stealer is a mess, but a very funny and entertaining mess which puts it up over the last three releases easily. A nice story to just pop on for a charming little listen. Again, not arc material, but who wants it in this arc?

The Last

So... five stories into the Alternate Universe arc and there has been precisely zero stories that couldn't have been set in the 'regular' Universe. For a moment there I thought Scherzo counted, but then I stopped and thought and realised that even though it utilises the Divergent Universe well as a plot detail, it could actually have been done with the Doctor and Charley being stranded from the TARDIS via some other way in the beginning and landing in the middle of the experiment. So. Bit disappointing that.

The Last, ironically, is the first story that could only be set in the Divergent Universe. Not because the fact that this is a parallel Universe is anyway integral or even particularly important to the plot, but simply because at no other time at all would you get away with this shit.

Despite a fairly healthy running time, it's my estimation that about 50% of the story is actually taken up with nothing but overlong and pompous speeches from a character I dub Queen Bitch for obvious reasons, a stock 'ominous winds' sound effect and the shrieking and twanging of a poorly-tuned sitar that plays on loop, serving as the incidental music for the entire story. This soundtrack serves as, what, the first six minutes of episode one. A gripping start to proceedings.

This is followed by the Kro'ka tediously gloating at the Doctor, something that was quite dull when he first appeared, and I have no idea what he is, or even could be gloating about. He's stopped referring to experiments mercifully, so we're not expected to believe that this has anything to do with anything vaguely important, but he still persists in dumping the Doctor at random locations on Bortrasoye and letting him run amok. To quote Paul McGann himself "Oh, wow - I mean, wow, that's REALLY clever!!!"

Essentially, after the Doctor bags out the Kro'ka enough for the ghost-frog to vanish in a huff, the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz wander around a post-apocalyptic nightmare world complete with inexplicable random earth tremors and relentless acid rain, commenting on the fact that it isn't really very nice. Then a building falls on them. Then they get rescued, except for C'rizz because even people who've never met him and know nothing about him don't like him. He gets to meet this guy who is really obviously a ghost, due to the fact that he talks ultra-creepily, is named after an angel's song and disappears/reappears all the time, but we're seriously not meant to work it out until the end of the next episode. Thank you for that vote of confidence as to your audience's intelligence. And the episode ends when Charley announces she's paraplegic.

If anyone made it this far without being majorly pissed off at this story, this should be the point where they crack, unless they are ridiculously optimistic. Everyone knows India Fisher is in the next two stories. So if you believe that the writers will go to the effort of having Charley in a wheelchair for the remaining two stories before giving her a graceful exit, knock yourself out in "BF-actually-think-before-writing-these" land. For the rest of us, it's all too obvious that a gigantic reset button is going to be smacked on sometime soon. It's just a dreadful countdown to When...

Basically, the rest of this story is a heap of icky and trite moralising about war mixed along with the most half-arsed 'political commentary' that I have EVER heard - failing dismally because the nation is populated entirely by 2D-ciphers. The Minister for War and The Minister of Defense seem to have three bits of dialogue a piece they just word different in every scene. There's a Nurse who does the things nurses do. Requiem does nothing but say ghostly, vaguely ominous nothings in C'rizz's ear. Landskar is quite obviously not what he seems, which we know because in his first scene some guy's all like "Hey, I think he's not what he seems" and he goes for the longest without being killed off. And then there's Queen Bitch, the Queen who is a total Bitch and has nothing vaguely credible to her character, forcing any 'hard-hitting' elements of the portrayal of life in a nightmare nuclear landscape to evaporate entirely - due to the quite simple fact that if any country elects a woman as droolingly-deranged, obviously psychotic, arrogant, deluded, with such boring and meaningless never ending fucking speeches as her they deserve everything they get. Up to and including genocide in the face.

This is amplified when Queen Bitch starts killing people left right and centre in a very obvious and conspicuous manner, and nobody thinks of, say, JUST KILL THE BITCH! There's like a dozen people left aside in the entire world - hmm, should we let this deranged, trigger happy bitch who caused the holocaust in the first place live? A clue - YOU ARE RETARDED! WHO WROTE THIS? GARY HOPKINS? YOU HAVE PROBLEMS! SERIOUS PROBLEMS!!!

To my disappointment the final disc turns out not to consist entirely of humourously inept trailers for upcoming releases, and there actually is a Part Three and Four. FUCK! Let's see... the Doctor calls C'rizz a loony non-stop for seeing ghosts (even though other people see the exact same ghosts), everyone decides to get a rocket ship out of there, and then Queen Bitch kills Charley and C'rizz.

It's after this that the Doctor finally gets some balls, and yells his brain out at Queen Bitch, about how he does not care that she is a Queen, for her Bitch quotient is far greater. He even goes so far as to claim that she is the only person that he's ever met that he has ever truly hated. It seems a big claim to make, but the character is so fucking irritating you find it quite easy to believe. Besides, the Doctor's also quite keen in speaking in absolutes when his temper's going so it's very easy to excuse all round.

The Doctor still doesn't kill her then. Instead a volcano opens up under her feet. Well. That was satisfying said in a sarcasting tone of voice.

Now Landskar pops up out of nowhere as he is wont to do and annoucnes WHY exactly he is not what he seems - he is the spiritual representative of the entire planet and... screw it. He's a god. As in 'deus'. As in a Deus Ex-Machina. He goes on about some shit about how everyone has to die before things can be mended, and Queen Bitch was meant to be the last. The Doctor is sick of this shit and headbutts a 500-megatonne warhead.

When the smoke clears - lo and behold! The city is filled with happy people celebrating a new peace treaty! OH, how joyous! And look, Queen Bitch is even still in charge, except it's magically now a NICE Queen Bitch! Oh, glorious day! This brilliant piece of storytelling moved me to tears and made me wonder as to why more people did not use the brilliant, most satisfying form of resolution.

Jesus Christ did PMG get some duds or what? The poor guy. He could have been doing Sharpe audio dramas instead of this shit... thankfully we're given a quick and easy option to wash our ears out with:


Oh my. It seems all this time it was a woman's touch that this twisted arc needed. Albeit one with a guy's name. Noted EDA author Lloyd Rose takes a long hard look at the borderline retarded setup for the Divergent Universe given in Kromon and, unlike every single other writer in the interim, nods and says "I can work with that". She then looks at the other stories and sees how this has been built on. She sees that it hasn't. And she probably rolls her eyes, mutters "Men!" and gets to work, weaving spun-gold from her laptop like that chick from Rumplestiltskin.

The entire story is about what should have happened a while ago - a full-on duel between the Doctor and the Kro'ka. Why the hell HAS the Doctor been cow-towing to this pissweak Ghost-frog for the past five releases? I have no idea but NOW HE'S SERIOUS! He's hitting the Kro'ka where it hurts... by falling asleep.

No, I'm serious, this is cool: the Kro'ka is left powerless when the Doctor sleeps, so his teleport-y powers become meaningless and he's left begging Charley and C'rizz to wake him up. And, as you can imagine, they take the piss out of Kro'ka for about five minutes straight.

The Kro'ka gets serious and prepares... THE MIND BLAST! I gather it's like a sand blasting but directed at a Mind. But PMG can't help but snigger at it like me and dares the Kro'ka on. The Kro'ka unleashes his powers... and ends up captive in the Doctor's own mind. Where the Doctor takes the piss out of him, roughly interrogates him, and finds out his secrets. Now, to his delight, the Doctor knows the secrets of Interzone travel and pisses off to find the Kro'ka's employers and tell them about the improper materials on show at

When the Doctor gets to the zone, though, he has a new enemy to deal with: HIMSELF! Specifically, the Lieutenant Bush side of his personality (Eeyore) and the Withnail & I side (Tigger!) have split themselves into two different people. Leaving the original intact, gaping at them and saying "What... the... fuck?"

The Doctor doesn't want to be stuck with himself though, and so runs off to the Castle on the horizon where he's sure those pesky Divergents are, leaving Happy Doctor with C'rizz and Grumpy Doctor with Charley for maximum shenanigan power.

The story has rather an obvious fault: it is too good. It sticks out of the arc like a sore thumb, and its quality really throws its progenitors into a depressingly sharpe relief.

Symptomatic of this is the fact that the Doctor knows that the Kro'ka has interfered with the environment that they're exploring because elements of Charley and C'rizz's homelands have appeared, along with relics of their own Universe. This would actually have impact if the preceding stories had actually gone to any effort to make this seem like a different Universe at all, but sadly they didn't. There's also the fact that the Doctor gives the Kro'ka such a fierce smackdown here begs the question of why did he wait so long to do it, and so on and so forth.

Because of these things, Caerdroia can only really be enjoyed if you ignore the stories that have preceded it, but then you have the problem of this being the only story at all that takes the arc seriously and actually RELIES on the established subplots and mythos, so it can't be listened to in isolation. So there's quite a bit of mental acrobatics required to enjoy it proper. But they're worth it.

I may even like Caerdroia more than I did Scherzo, incredible as that claim seems, given its adventurish atmosphere and truly novel concept of a multi-Doctor story with just the one Doctor. And an appropriate comparison given that they work much the same way - Paul McGann, India Fisher, Conrad Westmaas and Stephen Perring are the entire cast. As Perring was a regular in every sense for this season, it makes this story once again a regular-cast only affair, and sound design is used fairly sparingly. Impressive, then, that the canny writing manages to create an epic feel to proceedings, but then again that could be due to the miniscule scope of the other stories in this arc..

When the Three Doctors band together and defeat the Kro'ka's plans, revealing with gleeful nonchalance that he didn't have them fooled for a second, and then go on to find the TARDIS that the Divergents stole all that time ago, and C'rizz does the "It's bigger on the inside!" bit for the first time in seven stories (although Charley acknowledges it for the first time as well, thanks to Nick Briggs' Season 1 atrocity) it's a very uplifting ending. Good enough for you to ride that high to a place where the next story doesn't actually exist and write your own arc finale in your mind. Heehee.... Ice Warriors.

Bafflingly, though, this incredible story was released in a CD cover so vomit-inducingly designed that The Doctor Who Reference Guide page actually has a fan made cover to divert your eyes from the original. Merciful and just.

The Next Life

This is so much worse than Creed of the Kromon. I was beginning to doubt my own slating of this as PMG's absolute worst, but on attempting to listen to this a second time I stand by my decision like a giant piece of balsa wood on a sinking ship. See, Kromon is bad due to simple badness - a combination of utter blandness with a smidgeon of ignorance about the show. The Next Life is offensively bad, because everything in the story is shoved right in your face, and the story comes right after Caerdroia which actually aimed to do something with all the retarded ideas in 'the Divergent universe' and effectively uses that story as toiletpaper by smearing it with all of it's fecal-esque ideas.

On a second listen-through and in context, the sheer horrible laziness of the entire story is so hideously clear - Gary Russell doesn't give a shit about this, he really doesn't. Once you know how everything ends and what's happened so far, thousands upon thousands of continuity errors become obviously. I refuse to believe this story had a second draft - Russell has typed this up Sparacus-style I'm sure. Don't believe me? Well, why does Keep, who is actually an entire village of people, bribe an eight-year old girl with magic tricks to help her find the key to our universe? Obviously a hundred people isn't enough, he needs that extra eight-year old girl! And obviously, if she is unable to find the key that he himself, Paul Darrow, and 100 others are unable to find that is INEXCUSABLE and he has to kill her instantly. And even though he has 100 followers under his complete mind control he needs to frame the Doctor for her murder.

The exposition is the clumsiest I've ever seen, er, heard. Listen to C'Rizz and Charley calmly describe what they're seeing in the TARDIS scanner as they hurtle into certain death. Hear L'da mystifyingly describe every element of C'Rizz's own culture to him, when she has no reason to believe he's ever travelled somewhere other than Bortresoye. Oh, and the continuity errors, did I mention that? The Kromon are from an alien planet now, with spaceships! Hah! That must be why they needed the Doctor to build their first-ever rocket ship and why C'rizz knew them all then. Despite even mentioning that 'Time' is an alien concept to him in the same scene C'rizz specifically mentions that the Kromon attack 20 minutes into his wedding ceremony. GAAAAH!

I have to admit I haven't actually made it past the first episode on this attempted re-listen. Nor do I intend to. Briefly I fooled myself into thinking that the later episodes were better. But no, this is a falsehood. I'm sure they are worse because logically the gibberish contradictions and continuity errors would simply get worse and the amount of Stephen Conicard's 'French accent' in evidence increases exponentially with each episode (Dear God ARE THERE NO FRENCH ACTORS IN ENGLAND?!?)

I really can't logically explain the way this is done, aside from Ewen's theory that with Christopher Eccleston annoucned everyone making this shit stopped caring, which is almost certainly true. I mean... Gary Russell seems to have decided that he's got Daphne Ashbrook, Paul Darrow and Don Warrington for this one (*Breaks down in tears at the criminal waste of glorious talent*) so he doesn't need to actually work on the script. Wow. Fucking awesome logic. Maybe you could have put at least one of them in the first episode. Okay, Warrington appears at the cliffhanger or something, but that's just not good enough.

Probably the best thing I can say to condemn this is this: the first episode is pretty much entirely taken up by C'rizz and Charley having lengthy dream/flashback sequences controlled by the Kro'ka. With the Kro'ka typing everything their memories say into a keyboard (?!), and occassionally getting bored and typing in "Haha, I'm evil". Just to make this more intense and gripping, both Charley and C'rizz realise that this is clearly a load of crap about a minute into their flashback scenes. GAAAH!

The absolute worst thing, among so many bad things, is that The Next Life, if really, really, REALLY good could have actually saved the abysmal arc it caps off - at least to a degree. After all, Caerdroia did so much to turn things around. But listening to this load of crap its all too clear that as much thought has gone into this as the average Ben Chatham story.

No fist. Not even a knuckle.

Much has been made of the sheer terribleness of the Divergent Arc. It's easy to see why. The removal of the TARDIS is irrelevant to almost all the stories, for the simple reason that the Kro'ka serves the exact same purpose, the only difference being that he functions in a much more contrived manner. Because of this their is only really one 'gimmick', and it comes in the form of an incredibly irritating and quite pointless character.

Add to this the fact that the first story set in the Divergent Universe proper, as opposed to a freaky lab secluded somewhere around, is in fact the most trad runaround that BF have ever done and you have some very serious problems.

Not many people seem to have speculated on how the arc could be improved. For a starters, I'd say 5 years was ridiculously ambitious, and I'll plump for 3 instead with my estimation. Here we go:

Zagreus: Give the punters what they want - all three Doctors battle against the threat to the Universe. No proving how clever you are. Same result.

Scherzo: Leave well enough alone.

Creed of the Kromon: Here's the big one ... against all their will Charley and the Doctor get separated upon entering the Interzone. Charley is kidnapped by the Kro'ka, so she is stuck with all his gloating, whilst the Doctor lands in his first 'experiment'. He undergoes a sensory bombardment - to see how his temporal sense react to information leaked into the Interzone from Eutermes. To the Doctor's confusion, the lack of time makes events impossible to identify - the events he experiences are those of C'rizz's bombed wedding, thus saving us from tawdry exposition, seen from Guidance, L'da's and the Kromon's viewpoint, although he undergoes the events out of chronological order (naturally).

Charley believes that she has overpowered the Kro'ka mentally and is able to escape, but he has actually tested her mental reserves and is instead releasing her into an experiment to test her survival instincts - this happens at about the same time that the Kro'ka is satisfied that the Doctor will be able to survive prolonged exposure to the timeless environment of Eutermes, reveals himself and gloats before releasing his Doctor into a separate wing of the same 'experiment', telling him that Charley is a prisoner of the Kromon. This is to test the Doctor's 'offensive capabilities', and the Doctor does not disappoint. Both Charley and the Doctor realise that they can't actually understand any of the local language due to the loss of the TARDIS and its translator - Charley is only able to get by once she finds C'rizz and his handy latent telepathy.

Then... stuff happens. The nature of this universe drives the Doctor slightly insane, before he is captured by the Kromon and teams up with L'da. In this version the Kromon are actually vicious, dangerous, and very powerful. Rather than having the dream of travelling to other planets they instead learn of the Doctor and Charley's home and decide to invade their Universe, but their clumsy attempts will tear down the barriers and allow the Divergents to attack!

In the meantime, the Doctor's ruthless streak is meant as a shock to the audience rather than bad writing, L'da takes on a temporary role as a companion so that her eventual death means something and leads the Doctor to believe that C'rizz is a villian, and this is coupled with the Kro'ka gaily messing with Charley's mind: initially he programs he survival instincts to protect her from the shock of the new world by seeing C'rizz as a friendly human, and then destroys this programming suddenly at the worst possible time, leaving her shrieking and in shock at the sight of this horrific monster...

In short, Kro'ka introduced as sadistic and conceited - a scumbag with supposed god-like powers - Kromon an actual threat, and in the end the Doctor is left wondering about what these experiments are about...

The Next Experiment: Either TNHOF made less weird or TWK made more weird.

Season Finale: An expanded version of part one of Caerdroia, with the Doctor put into a morally bankrupt experiment, cracking, and deciding to battle the Kro'ka. He wins and discovers how to travel through the zones.

Season 2: The Doctor, Charley and C'rizz do all the zone-juming stuff, firstly to just escape the Kro'ka, but soon realise that he follows them everywhere. And then try to find out all they can about him to hopefully find a way to defeat him. At the same time, however, they discover that the Kromon are a wide-reaching power in this Universe and by destroying their Bortresoye outpost in Creed the Doctor has become their Public Enemy #1 and, by extension, that of every power-hungry free agent in the Universe. A real B7 vibe. Events get resolved in a story similar to Caerdroia parts 2-4, and the the Doctor discovers Rassilon's presence through actual detective work.

Season 3: ...I dunno, more stuff happens. It couldn't be worse than TNL.

The biggest problem with the Divergent arc in my view, is the fact that it is not in anyway really an arc. Kro'ka is really irrelevant to proceedings bar revealing Rassilon's presence - the rest of the time he serves as an irrelevent framing device, utterly meaningless to everything else in the story, seemingly script-edited in somewhere around the last-minute mark. Yes, Kro'ka is the new Ramsay.

And this irrelevent frog-ghost is the ONLY recurring element in most of the 'arc' stories! That is, save for Caerdroia and The Next Life which are genuine pieces of arc storytelling, but jar so unbelievably horribly with each other that I feel that they should be discounted utterly from that definition. Everything else feels like normal DW (Save TNHOF which doesn't fit in with anything) that has 'Bad Wolf' style buzzwords sprinkled throughout in the form of 'Divergents' and a couple of other things.

Few words can describe the frustration felt at the end of this crap that amazingly, despite non-stop references and serving as the catalyst for the monumentally fucked up events of Zagreus, the Divergents not only never appear, but are said in a throwaway line of dialogue to have been killed off-screen!

There are very few words to describe the ineptitude of what must, for want of a less misleading term, be called 'The Divergent Universe' arc. And most of them have four letters.

The question is now: is what comes next any better?


Monday, April 21, 2008

I can draw stuff!

Yes, behold, I have the ability to arrange pixels of colour in Microsoft Paint in such a way as to create the illusion of imagery.

Just not, you know, anything good.

Well, now I get the distinct impression that the image has somehow turned out wrong, but allow me to explain: I am, once again, working on an adventure game. But I don't want to announce it on the forums designed to deal with this stuff, because then people will expect it to actually get FINISHED. And that's the last thing that I want. So if you'll all humour me by giving me an ego boost and posting some comment to the extent of "Er, yeah, that's really good or something" that will do nicely thank you very much.

If you want to actually see the drawings before commenting on them, it's probably best to save the image, open it in paint (or something) and then zoom in, because they're drawn for a very low resolution.

There's then the obvious questions: "Why the hell is there so much pink?" - that's because for sprites to be loaded into the program that I'm using, you need them to be on a background of a colour not used in the sprite itself so that the engine can make certain regions transparent and layer the sprites appropriately. And the second question, of course, is "Doesn't that fellow second from the left in the bottom row look a bit familiar?", to which my response would be *cough* *splutter* Maybe *cough*

And on the off-chance that anyone out there is interested in how I drew such criminally minute characters, the answer is quite simple: I drew them large, and then shrank them down and adjusted the details. With a few it turned out quite well (woman in pink, middle of the bottom row - looked TERRIBLE in the big version), but others were less successful. As an example, here's the 'big' version of Demented Hobo Criminal, the knife-wielding fellow in a South-Sydney Jimbo Jones cap:

*Sigh* He looks so much better...

Anyway, this has been the most pointless and poorly written entry in this blog thus far. I'll make some use of this space by telling Ewen now that I read his latest spoof today and found it highly amusing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Skip to the End: The Obituaries... OF DEATH!

In lieu of recent events it doesn't seem like I'm the only one getting a bit worn down by Sparacus and it seems nice that things might end soon. But even so, I'm getting impatient. I want to know if this has an ending. And, if so, what it is. There have been a lot of false-stops along the way, remember. So is there any way of hitting a cosmic "fast-forward" button and just skipping to the fucking end already?

In a word: yes.

In a few more words: With the introduction of my new futuristic correspondent Damien P. Quitzlsnortl, yes this is posible and easy.

I asked my time-travelling friend to write a brief summary of how The Ben Chatham affair comes to a close, as if it were a simple school essay. Somewhat put out, he said he thought I'd be more interested in hearing about stuff he DID research, such as the grand Nauru Empire and Kevin Rudd's three-headed children that were given up for adoption to Angelina Joelie. I insisted that all my people of the 21st century wanted to know was the future of the Chathamverse, and then he told me, shockingly, that this isn't actually on any history curricula anywhere on the world. And that in fifteen years everything on Blogspot will be put into some Second Life landfill and be lost to all but the most toothbrush-wielding of amateur archaeologists.

I thought for a moment, and then gave him a new research project: could he find details on the ultimate fates of all Chatham thread contributors, myself concluded, that could possibly form a point of investigation and speculation of our immediate futures. He agreed to it, in return for a pair of The Veronica's panties which are curiously enough used as currency in the future after the collapse of the paperless society. Well, that's Damien's story and he's sticking to it. Luckily I happened to be wearing a pair and all was quickly settled, five seconds later he reappeared with the following information, all terribly jokes contained herein is his work or those of public archive-droids in the not-too-distant future:

The Eighth Shadow: Publically ridiculed and eventually stoned after foolsihly admitting that he was mortally afraid of The Seventh Shadow, due to the fact that Seven had very publically cannibalised the Ninth Shadow some years before. Whilst stoned he fell down a manhole. Apparently his corpse was eaten, but by Geri Ryan.

Cameron J Mason: A programming glitch when his mind was transferred from GrenRay to Even Higher Definition Disc leaves his holographic form poorly anti-aliased and in the incorrect aspect ratio. He was subsequently shot dead by Conrad Westmaas III, apparently as a 'mercy killing'.

Redcard: Found on a trip to England that it was impossible to survive the obligatory dozen fights that break out in any given pub on any given night, in spite of his bastic armour, night-vision goggles and Ninja Survival kit which, ironically, made him a more attractive target to the various Millwall-supporting skinheads.

Bernie T. Fishnotes Esq.: Doesn't die as such, merely achieves a life-long ambition of transforming into a gigantic breast. Subsequently has a long and lustrous pornographic film career, before moving into even more lucrative stand-in work for high profile celebritie's tits in major motion pictures. His ambition to move into Shakespearean theatre remains unfulfilled, however, and he is openly jealous of rival humourist Charles Daniels, who won the part of Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream thanks to a similar condition.

Miles Reid: Died peacefully in his sleep. I know, it's a boring one. There WAS a spider-monkey in it at the time...

Lee Ratbag: He ate something that didn't agree with him. Unfortunately, it turned out to be The Archbishop of Canterbury, whom he had often debated against. The indigestion caused his body to explode, but was hailed as an animal rights triumph by animal workers everywhere, due to the large number of live bats released as a direct result.

Fugitoid, Manmiles and Dr Spoon: Vanished mysteriously off the face of the Earth.

MLock: Tragic autofellation-related accident. It doesn't really explain the bullet-hole in his head, but who am I to argue with a West-Indian coroner? The cast of Mock the Week (listed as his 'next of kin') agree 'he would have wanted it that way'. Before adding 'we certainly did'.

Jared Hansen: Is hit in the balls by a defective cruise missile whilst playing for Australia at Lord's CC, debuting as an opening batsman at the record age of 66. He subsequently becomes a gigantic YouTube hit in death, and a dubious winner in the Darwin Awards, due to the arguably self-inflicted nature of the accident. Coach Timothy Zoehrer stated 'if he had been wearing regulation crotch protection, the hilarity of this tragic event could have been significantly reduced'

Johnstone: Leaps off a building Sam Tyler-style when he discovers that he is entirely impervious to all pain. Is quite disappointed when he doesn't wake up in an episode of Doctor Who, instead arriving in hard-hitting German police drama Inspektor Herring.

Chicken Man: He was delicious.

Ewen Campion-Clarke: Gigantic brain anuerysm directly after watching Torchwood's 50th Anniversary special, written by Nev Fountain, Mark Gatiss and Gary Russell and starring Conrad Westmaas IV. He did so against the advice of his Doctor, friends, family, TV critics, the Catholic Church, the President of Australia, and his step brother Keanu Reeves. The episode has subsequently been banned and is being used as weaponry in the Sixth Gulf War.

Lord Moon: Lost a duel for true ownership of the Moon to... TIM BISHOP! (Yeah, it's an obscure reference. Want to make something of it?)

Doc Filth: Resurrects the cast of The Goon Show using his patented Lurgy-phonic custard-fuelled Delta wave recursion drive and an open-ended, dual-control transmat beam that he kept in his back shed. Sadly, Neddy Seagoon decided to pull a Sutekh and rewarded Filth with the gift of death, because the only other thing he had on his person was a worthless bus ticket and he would hate to appear cheap.

Leonard Hatred: Passed away angrily in his sleep.

Delgado-Fan: Was finally deigned worthy of the honour of sacrifice to the great lord Delgado in the Ides of March in 2025. Ironically his was the final sacrifice necessary to bring about Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto's resurrection so as DF ascended into the afterlife, Delgado was returned to the realm of the living. As such, they only met each other for a few seconds in passing and Delgado had been drinking very heavily the night before and didn't have much to say. Regardless he described the encounter as "OMFGWTFOMGOMG!"

Chris Hayle: Tragic innuendo overdose.

Wilf: After his unexpected success at working as a DW character in Partners in Crime made the ill-advised decision to accept a job as a character in a Bernard Cornwell novel, only to be unceremoniously killed off on page 17.

Michael Blumenthal: Attempts to delete the entire planet for its innumerable violations of the Code of Conduct and after coming to the conclusion that it will be quite impossible for it to get 'back on topic'. He succeeds only on wiping his house from existence, which means that fans of The Backstreet Boys face the loss of their fan club headquarters OH SNAP YOU JUST GOT SERVED!

Lemon Bloody Cola: Tragic Colchester-related fellatio accident.

nickB: Disappeared in a puff of logic. Then reappeared again seven years later. Then disappeared again. Then came back three days later. Then disappeared again. Then came back 150 years later. Then disappeared. Then came back 30 years before that. And then disappeared. I don't think he's coming back again.... for the moment...

David A. McIntee: One day, the argument over whether The Professionals or The Sweeney is cooler just goes too far...

Nick Barlow: Keeps getting confused for nickB, and disappearing in a puff of awkward social misunderstanding.

Lucy High Wolf: Brought a gun to a lightsabre fight.

Dalek Warhol: Having read this list in advance, makes a mental note to outdo everyone else with regards to the outlandish nature of his demise. And so, on September 3rd, 2084, imbides 350ccs of meth/ice/cocaine/Chris Hayle cocktail through his ears before attempting to jump the Dubai Fuckyouwesterners Entertainment and Torture Complex in a three hundred year old traction engine and a 'jump' made entirely of recycled shoeboxes. Well... actually I made that up - I'm hoping for some onthiological paradox action. As far as I can make out he got stabbed by a three-inch stiletto heel through the heart. Which is understandable given that he'd lent his heart to Charlie Sheen.

Marisa Mycroft: The Big C. Chuck Norris.

Sparacus Himself: Sadly that file hasn't yet been declassified by the CIA. Word is that it involves a snooker cue, three flamingos, HRH Conrad Westmaas Prince of Wales, two litres of sarspirilla, a piece of New Zealand cheese of dubious morality and fellatio. Roll on March 23rd 2168, I say!

Evans-T: Passed away happily in his sleep, some years after defeating Ice-T and TIM BISHOP in a duel to be bestowed with the greatest honourific title on Earth: that of Mr T.

Genesis_Rockz: Tried to hunt a certain misbeggoten Australian writer down for deliberately sabotaging his fanfic series all those decades ago. Dies in London with unmistakable defective cruise missile-related injuries. Police remain baffled.

Zorklord: Erm... actually I'm pretty sure he's still alive. Oh, hello! Yes, I thought so - he's my next door neighbour. Nice fellow. Keeps himself to himself. I'm sure he'll die soon, though - I'll get back to you.

Kinggodzillak: Becomes trapped in one of his own DVD covers for eternity,Sapphire and Steel style. On the bright side, this means that he gets to spend eternity staking Adam Rickitt though the heart with Hugh Laurie.

LunarSea: Died of a sudden and violent smugness deficiency upon being informed that his chosen moniker is in fact quite startlingly unironic, given the fact that the word 'lunacy' is directly derivative of the term 'lunar' in the first place, being used to refer to madness brought upon by the full moon. He is sorely missed by his long-time mistress The Sphinx.

hacketm: Sacrificed himself nobly by letting a bomb off in some spaceship or something. Just because some woofter in a velvet dressing gown was in some trouble. Oddball.

Rich Flair: He thought that he finally had the chance to kill his nemesis, The Youth of Australia, but to his immense frustration found out that he hadn't travelled backwards in time at all and it was just another trap of the Fendahl's! Or something. I dunno, it's confusing.

The Youth of Australia: Turned out to be Kevin Spacey all along. Although some insist that he was actually Pete Postlethwaite. What. Ever.

Although I'm sure Damien takes his work seriously, I couldn't help but notice that he ignored a few long-time Chatham readers on his list, and including some who've only made on or two posts. Quite baffling. Almost as if it was some sort of pisstake article and he'd run out of jokes.

Still, I think we can all agree that the future is in safe hands.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Did you Know: Dickens

I got to thinking about Mark Gatiss the other day, after I suggested a minor tie-in series of PDA's for the 45th anniversary of Doctor Who as good enough an excuse for Justin Richards to get off his arse and actually publish them, instead of lounging around going "Oh, I've got plans! I've got plans coming out of my arse! I just can't tell you about them. Or put them into action. Or anything worthwhile..."

Naturally Lance Parkin smacked me down as a retard as I knew well he would, telling me that there's no such thing as a 'minor' series because novels are more expensive than those IDW comic books. (Though those can undersell and still be continued... in exactly the way the PDAs can't. For some reason. When did the Beeb become so obsessed with profit? Fuck you, aunty, you used to be cool...)

He then went on to say that the idea in essence of a 45th anniversary tie-in could work, but would, in his words, probably take the form of a hardcover novel, featuring the 4th Doctor, Sarah, the Daleks and written by Mark Gatiss. (To be fair he said or Paul Cornell as well) Setting aside the fact that Lance himself would actually be the most likely candidate but blatantly excised himself from mention for fear of appearing as a rabid egomaniac rather than the strange image of Professor of Booksellingology he's built for himself recently, this made me think about how much I dislike the 'mainstream' or received wisdom of fandom. Because, I have to say, I can think of few ideas for a book less appealing than Gatiss writing Tom and Sarah v. Daleks. I mean, come on, don't tell me you wouldn't rather read 5th Doctor and UNIT battling genius sharks?!

So... yeah, that's what got me thinking about Mark Gatiss. A bit of extant and unnecessary detail there, but have a mint and deal with it. When I was thinking about Gatiss I thought about the air of smugness he tends to have, and how sometimes it is misplaced, in particular with a running joke that was halfway amusing the first time it was heard and was apparently adopted by Nev Fountain for one of his war crimes.

I'm talking about Charles Dickens seeing a ghost come out of some dude's mouth and saying "What the Shakespeare?!"

The irony is, "What the Dickens?" is actually a Shakespearean quote in the first place. The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, scii:

FORD: Where had you this pretty weather-cock?
MRS PAGE: I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him off

Apparently it originates from one of the many ye olde and ye weirde names for the devil. So it's a bit of an insult for an invokation of the devil to be connected so strongly with one of the grandest men of English literature. Being, I would think, one of the biggest etymological misconceptions in the world today.

So, this means for the "What the Shakespeare?" joke to really work, it would need to be spoken by Geoffrey Chaucer in a story where the Doctor meets him. But then if you ignore A Knight's Tale Chaucer's life isn't really interesting enough for the Doctor to be arsed meeting him in the first place. (Or meeting him again, because Hartnell got bored and spent a few years in his youth meeting everybody vaguely interesting throughout Earth's entire history simply so he could namedrop them in his future) Then you have the problem for it to really work the futuristic author's name he's invoking also needs to be a double-entendre that suggests the devil. Any Elizabethan playwrights by the name of Scratchman?

So, basically, in The Unquiet Dead Charles Dickens should actually have said "What the Rowling?!". And thank God the joke was never in The Shakespeare Code (Especially since 'Chaucer' is so frigging hard to say...)

Interestingly enough, I knew the phrase was Shakespeare but wasn't sure of the play when I decided to write this. So I google searched the phrase. Amazingly, most sites thought it was a reference to Charles Dickens. Which one set me straight? The Urban Dictionary, one of the many pages entirely banned from TAFE computers that I remember fondly from my school days. Not an entirely imperical source, though, perhaps demonstrated best by their definition of 'lebanese':

People who sit on a milk crate outside Oportos at Brighton screaming derogatory comments at woman who "want them" and stare at males from other ethnicities and say "what????" several times if they have eye contact.

Also people who congregate in their cars(WRX,Corolla,anything but a muscle car) to Stanmore Mc'Donalds but don't go inside because the food is too expensive.

Ah, Urban Dictionary. You simply express the views held by many mainstream Australians that are not heard due to this politically correct nanny state we live in.

(In case you've forgotten already, that was John Howard's stock quote for defending Alan Jones or any of his other AM-band mates. I love his moaning about the politically correct nanny state. Obviously HE'S unable to do anything about that. Poor guy, such an underdog...)

Monday, April 14, 2008

NEWBIE REVIEW #5 - The Deadstone Memorial

Still soldiering on through the old-skool memories of thinking anyone would care about this stuff, and being too polite to say anything was 'shit'. Ah, the young innocent me... where did he go? Why did he vanish off the face of the Earth on Saturday June the 4th 2005 at precisely 6:30 pm GMT? One of the enduring mysteries...

A mystery that won't endure is what I wrote about this thing a couple of years back (Beautiful segue)..

The Deadstone Memorial by Trevor Baxendale

This is a book that smothers you in atmosphere from the get-go, and I have to say I was delighted to discover this. The opening scenes, featuring the shadowy Old Man Crawley are ominous, and then we flash-forward into a night in the McKeown household, where the atmos piles up, erupting in some truly violent and haunting Exorcist-style scenes where the youngest Cal appears to be possessed and bleeds from his eyes, screaming out into the night. Phew! After mother Hazel rings up the hospital she finds a rather peculiar doctor on her doorstep - guess who?

After a while the action cuts forward again - to Bernard Harris, local school teacher, jogging through the forest as he does every morning. But this time he finds a surprise - a young girl and a middle-aged geezer in a leather jacket who do a pretty poor job of interrogating him. And I have to say I didn't cotton on at first, but these two are none other than Fitz and Trix, working on the Doctor's orders.

I was very impressed with this book - introducing the characters into the drama so effectively, with such a gritty feel... but right after this the books big problem reared its head. Padding. You see, in spite of the fact that we have met the Doctor and co. and know what they're doing we're given a pointless flashback sequence of the TARDIS dematerialising on Earth. And this book, sadly, has a lot of similar pointless sequences that spoil the great atmosphere built up.

The book is good because Baxendale - whose other works were apparently more 'epic' in scope - has decided to utilise a small cast and a bundle of settings, just like in the classic series. So for characters we get the McKeowns - Hazel, Jade, and Cal - plus Bernard Harris, Old Man Crawley, and two gypsies. And that's basically it. Likewise, the story takes place in the woods, in town, and snatches in the TARDIS. The problem is that this has to fill 280-something pages - so there's lots of padding. Some of it - like the Doctor jumping up to the roof of the McKeown's house and daring Hazel to touch the stars - works wonderful, and you barely notice it's there. But a lot of it is handled by long sequences of running around that might give you flashbacks to Nightmare of Eden - one critic noted that in that story the Doctor sets out four times to 'separate the ships'. Well in this, you could start a drinking game for every time the Doc decides to a) Look at the memorial, b) Talk to the gypsies, c) Try and find Crawley. At points it really feels like a real runaround.

This is a shame, because the book has a great many moments of brilliance, and all the characters are endearing and well-realised. Its only real flaw is that there simply wasn't enough plot to justify its length which strikes me as a real shame - other BBC books have been only 240-odd pages, why couldn't this one be? All the same, there's plenty to enjoy here (especially Fitz and Trix, who have a great rapport) even if the ending isn't particularly mind-blowing. 7/10


I mentioned that the ending was crap, but didn't say why. It's almost like a deus ex machina to explain away any weird shit - oh, yeah, an alien landed here like 200 years ago. Which made this guy immortal and crazy and shit and that's why he can't die and the kid's dying and what the fuck ever I've filled up 260 pages now no more effort required on my part.

So now, whoa shit the Doctor's got to kill the alien to save the kid but the alien's like invincible and shit man this is amazing stuff I'm typing, so the Doctor goes into psychic mindlock with him or whatever AND HE DISAPPEARS! OMG THE DOCTOR'S DEAD AND SHIT!

No he isn't. We all know he's going to be Christopher Eccleston in a month's time, what the hell are you trying to prove, Bax? The Doctor just vanishes for a week then comes back with no real explanation. Oh, and the alien's dead. BIG FUCKING DEAL.

What was with the memorial? The Doctor goes and looks at that so many times. And it felt like Baxendale was taking the piss because they just kept finding bits that had been covered up by dirt and stuff. WHY DIDN'T YOU EVER LOOK AT IT PROPERLY IN THE FIRST PLACE? It reminded me of that Halloween episode of the Simpsons where Lisa and Kang and Kodos keep blowing dust off the cover of "HOW TO SERVE MAN", revealing more and more ridiculous titles.

I think I was mostly impressed by the way that the story was compartmentalised so well into a limited series of contemporary locales... I think this was before I'd seen any of the new series, so I was easily impressed by stuff like this. In truth, by this stage the NAs and others had probably done this a lot better.

It is actually quite a superficially stylish book, this. But the plot really is utter shit, something that I shied away from in ye olde review. 5/10

Saturday, April 12, 2008

More Torchwoodery

...well, it's quite easy to see why Something Borrowed is seen as the televisual equivalent of Robert Mugabe.

To other stuff first....

What is the deal with PJ Hammond? I really liked the idea behind From Out of the Rain - that a malfunctioning projector channeling surreal rift energy should bring photos to life Red Dwarf style - but then I find out that isn't actually the idea at all. Because, for some reason, Hammond doesn't seem to get the idea behind Torchwood, that it's the Rift and stuff that come out of it that makes all the weird stuff happen in Cardiff that Torchwood need to protect the Welsh from. Hammond just thinks that weird shit happens for no reason and they deal with it... because they're conveniently around when it does.

Okay, the Rift is name-checked... but so what? That's the only hint of an explanation for what's going on. For the rest of it, we're meant to file it all under "The Night Travellers Are Weird". That's the only explanation for why The Ghostmaster and Pearl are able to manipulate the editing machine to put themselves into the film in the first place, how they can magically appear out of nowhere in Cardiff streets, how they can store humans souls in a run-down shed by an abandoned swimming pool etc.

The suggestion seems to be that all of The Night Travellers are supernatural beings and that Pearl and The Ghostmaster are the most powerful... okay, what do they do with the people they steal? What the hell is up with that? Remember, at the start of the episode, they steal a crowd of a dozen or so 1920s people. Why? Where do they go? I don't think they needed their souls then... why do they need souls again? Why isn't any of this explained?!

It's not as if there ISN'T oppurtunity for any of this shit to be explained.. I mean, the middle of the episode is nothing but padding. Plenty of time to provide half an explanation for ANY of this. But for some reason this time is all used for Ghostmaster and Pearl to re-enact all of the Rutger Hauer/Daryl Hannah scenes from Blade Runner. Which does nothing but demonstrate why Paul Darrow was never in the running for the role of Roy Batty.

(Completely irrelevant sidenote - did anyone else think that was Peter Miles in the part? Well, probably not because the people I know who read this see all the cast notes beforehand but COME ON! The resemblence is quite disturbing, and even though it's more of an impersonation the voice even sounded similar. The only reason I didn't feel positive it was him was because he didn't look thirty years older... but then I still figured he could have gotten whatever freakish genes Nicola Bryant has. Screw Davros, this guy is the new Rontane! Yes, that's right, Rontane needs to make a comeback...)

I do kind of like From Out of the Rain, though, for the last ten minutes. You know, where Jack actually thinks of a really clever way of killing the alien menace, and GOES THROUGH WITH IT. And Owen gets bitch-slapped unbelievably. It's a really good bit of action, only spoilt by some rather odd script writing where Ianto suddenly becomes the narrator..

"I've got the flask!"
"If those souls come out, they'll die!"

And probably one or two other ones.

Something else that really distracted me, and probably would have pissed off PJ Hammond, is the fact their budget didn't stretch to enough extras for the film scenes to really work. See, the idea was clearly that there would be quite a lengthy reel of circus stuff, with various performances. We would see:

*two jugglers
*two clowns
*a strongman
*Tatooed man & fellow Night Travellers

It's all their in the dialogue. For the first lot, Jack sees them and waxes nostalgic over their friendship, as they by freakish coincidence happen to be from his circus. But THEN we see the Night Travellers, seemingly in group shot as Jack instantly recognizes them and refers to them in plural. Instead he's reacting to a shot of a singular Tatooed Man. Why exactly the Tatooed Man is so recogniseable is quite a mystery, because you think he'd be one of the less memorable of the group.

Jack then announces that he had nothing to do with the Night Travellers, and nor did any of his friends. Of course, they couldn't find two sets of performers, so ironically the jugglers, clowns and strongman that he specifically said he was mates with and wouldn't have joined the Night Travellers... were in the Night Travellers. And in fact were the core membership. Not that he seems to recognise them or anything...

Anyone else reckon PJ Hammond probably had a scarier group in mind. Like, instead of camp clowns and two dudes in viking helmets juggling, a Voodoo witch-Doctor with some monkeys, one of those long-necked tribespeople breathing fire, a lady with snakes crawling all over her, a contortionist-swordswallower that sort of thing? Something genuinely freaky? *Sigh* If only they had The Sideshow's casting manager...

But now onto Something.... no, I'm going to pass for a moment and talk about A Day in the Death.

I feel kinda sorry for Joe Lidster. (Nearly wrote "Dave Lister" then. Curse you, Campion-Clarke!) He's been really type-cast as "that dude who writes emo stories" and it's kind of a fair cop in light of the fact that he writes emotional and character moments very well. Even though I have mocked him for the somewhat soap-operaish tone of The Reaping it was utterly appropriate for the story and was well-handled.

The thing is, though, Joe Lidster can do quite a bit beyond emo stuff. But he gets commissioned for stuff like A Day in the Death that's one long character piece with a tacked-on piece of plot that essentially serves as a book-end for the story. And one for Owen, of all frigging people. Yeah, he's just died but I'm already over it.

He does a good job regardless of what he has to work with, and I don't know whether to praise his foolhardiness or trash his pig-headed arrogance when he actually tries to tie together the continuity of Seasons 1 & 2, as Owen announces to Tosh that he consciously decided to abandon his womanising ways and become the total loser that he has been this series. Clearly he (or the script editor) doesn't want this to get out of hand, because there is no mention at all of shagging Gwen (Notice how vigorously that has been ignored this season? Suddenly it's her and Jack that are the couple... it's like it was a bad dream the entire team had...)

Quite a large amount of the episode is concerned with what Owen can and cannot do not that he's dead... and to me it feels like they're making the rules up as they go along. I mean, presumably the general idea is that his brain functions perfectly (due to the glove energy) but his blood doesn't pump. This accounts for quite a few of the ideas (no breathing, no body heat (though his brain would produce some heat)) but in other aspects it confuses me. Why can't he eat or drink anything? Digestion is performed using stomach acids, not bloods, and from then on its muscles that do the work and Owen's muscles are fine (for some reason - without oxygen from the bloodstream they'd die and exercise doesn't provide this if you can't breath)

That said, I'm also bothered by the fact that once his brain was working it wouldn't be hard to bring him to life properly. If Martha had worked quickly she could have given him a heart and lung transplant a full blood transfusion - it's been well established that Torchwood have enough medical gear around to try it - and he would have been as god as new. Scientists have already discovered that this is possible on regular dead humans if the blood is evacuated and replaced with a low-temperature saline solution shortly after death and the relevant operations undertaken (Well.. by 'humans' I guess I mean 'dogs'...) and with Owen his body was already perfectly preserved by that damned magic glove.

The one thing that I cannot forgive this episode for, however... is revealing that Owen talked Lucie Miller out of killing herself. Christ, Lidster, I had enough reasons to hate the guy.

Damnit, I'm out of options. I'm going to have to talk about Something Borrowed...

Does Phil Ford know any women? Because the entire basis of the episode seems to be "women are crazy!" because it relies utterly on Gwen behaving in such an unbelievably rash and illogical way, a way, I hasten to add, I have not known any women to behave in. In fact, his characterisation of Gwen seems to be so bad that it's been deliberately retconned by Chris Chibnall two episodes later.

I mean, how can you not drop your jaw when Gwen goes "Wait a minute, I just realised - if this baby I'm carrying disappears, all my rellos will want to know where it went!"

Even though she and Rhy thought they were alone, Private Dexter appears out of nowhere, screams "HOH-YAH, I-HADDEN-FORTA-DAAAT!" before vanishing again.

Is it wrong of me to think that Eve Myles looked kind of cute with the prosthetic baby-bump? It is? Well, better forget I ever mentioned it then.

Aside from the terrible setup this episode really deserves the title of most brain-dead story yet. And in Torchwood that really is a prize you don't want. Once we have established that there's an evil vampire woman shape-shifter who wants to kill Gwen, there is a logical scene that needs to be shown - Torchwood gang runs into room with guns out, and rather than actually try anything subtle like knocking the shapeshifter out or sneaking up before shooting it from point-blank etcetera, one screams out [utterly needlessly] "THAT'S HER, THAT'S HER!!", allowing her time to get away/take a hostage, and in the process she is shot repeatedly.

I can appreciate that we need to see this scene.

We don't need to see it four or five times, however. Especially when one of those times involves John Barrowman in fucking ridiculous makeup, looking like somebody thrown out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for being too camp.

What really blows my mind is that after the final scene of shooting the shapeshifter from a distance, by which point it looks lik fucking Swiss Cheese, Owen cannily observes that it seems to be resistant to bullets.

Thank you, Ron Mallet. Astonishingly, though, this is meant to be a revelation to the audience, and Jack sounds incredibly proud of his genious when he announces that he has an idea... of getting a bigger gun. Whoa, hold that News Years Honours List, matron!

At this point Gwen and Rhys are running like fuck and Gwen's feeling contractions and Vampire Lady is right behind them... you know, I was just thinking then that this could have been a novel oppurtunity for Gwen to birth the eggs naturally and Vampire Lady to take them happily and everyone to live happily ever after. It's the sort of 90-degree twist in story telling that would be very appreciable after the amount of shit that we've gone through.

But no, Rhys decides that it's time to kill the baby. And he pulls out a gigantic plot contrivance - Owen's Patented Totally Unreliable Exploding Magic Wand! This seriously pissed me off because this particularly contrivance has had its day in Reset. You're not meant to bring it back for exactly the same scene. It also pissed me off with Rhys trying to justify the fact that he's magically able to use it with a hurried "Owen showed me how". Owen. The most stand-offish bastard in Torchwood. Who takes inordinate pride in his skills and abilities. Showed you how to work the magic wand. That took him months to work out how to set a piece of paper alight in a styrofoam cup.

And of course, it works first try!

Then, just to give me a laugh, Rhys grabs a chainsaw out of nowhere and sets out to kill Vampire Lady... and then stops for some reason. I've no idea why. Possibly he's just seen Jack's gigantic gun and needs a stiff drink ala George's enormous trousers in Blackadder III. And as a reward for his hard work he gets Alien Vampire Blood all over his best tux.

Oh, and then Jack drugs everyone at his wedding reception. The End.

This episode is amazingly bad. For my money, the worst of all episodes of Torchwood yet. Yes, even worse than Cyberwoman. The only point of this episode seems to be to get the inevitable marriage episode out of the way, to vainly try and convince the audience that there was some sort of romantic-subplot for Gwen and Jack in Season One (It's not working, you bastards!) and to spoil my fantasies by showing me how badly Nerys Hughes has aged over the past 20 years. Mother. Fucker.

All evidence points to this episode originally being set before Adam in the running (hence why Gwen turns up back to the Hub after a week in Paris in that story)but being forcefully moved into the low-ratings period instead, because it is utter shit.

The most disturbing thing is that Lawrence Miles only seems to find it objectionable for depicting it as alright to abort an alien foetus.

I mean... what am I meant to say to follow that one up?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Discworld II: The Colour of Magic... a pre-emptive strike

Sky, those guys who barely anyone is actually able to watch, are making a follow-up to Hogfather. An adaptation of The Colour of Magic.

This in itself is nearly enough for me to say "Screw it all - THEY'RE COMPLETELY INSANE!" Because for the first episode, they decide to make the 20th 'event' novel in the series, with basically every character cameoing and the main plotline being shunted to the side, as a 'pilot' to the idea of Discworld TV movies. They then decide the second one should be the first novel, which starts with a completely blank slate, features just one character from Hogfather, introduces only two characters who re-occur in the series (Rincewind and Twoflower.. and they've announced they don't want to adapt any of their other ones anyway! Well, technically it has Death and The Patrician... but they're completely different from their later portrayals) and is set over twenty years earlier.


Even so, having thought that Hogfather, while not the masterpiece I was hoping for due to some abysmal bits of casting (The Archchancellor and Nobby. They need to die) was essentially a solid piece of entertainment for Discworld fans once you got past the clumsy opening and was indeed at masterpiece level at the end scenes which were entirely comprised of Ian Richardson giving us loads of Blake's 7-style dialogue. I was happy.

BUT... it wasn't THAT far from being terrible. So I was worrying about the casting to some degree, especially after being reminded of its existence (My brother's downloading it, you see... don't look at me like that, it will NEVER be in Australia) So I did what any nerd would do and checked out the Wikipedia article to the get the dirt on the casting.

Rincewind, of course, is the most iconic character in the Discworld fictional universe. An utterly loveable but completely pathetic and hapless 'wizzard', who doesn't actually have any magical ability at all and couldn't even hold down his job as Assisstant Librarian at Unseen University. It is important that he is represented as young, and charismatic, and utterly impossible to take seriously as a wizard.

Terry Pratchett says the best possible casting would be Nicholas Lyndhurst. Some random person on IMDb says David Tennant. I say Lee Ingleby. Fans of the computer games often freakishly insist on Eric Idle wearing that 'make you look younger' make-up that Patrick Stewart apparently had in the last X-Men film. Somebody else says Rhys Ifans. These are all good suggestions.

And the part goes to... WHAT?!?



Setting aside the fact that Jason David is some 30 years too old for the part, and completely the opposite in every imaginable way as to how Rincewind is meant to be played, I think it is very important to remember that he played a completely different character in the last film! DIDN'T YOU WORTHLESS BASTARDS NOTICE?

I hope the fuckers make Mort now, because Rincewind and Albert actually meet in that story. What you do then, fuckknuckles? Old-fashioned split-screen? You make me sick!

So, anyway, I've got that out of my system. Now to check the rest of the cast. The other main character is Twoflower, the stock Japanese tourist who's heart is in the right spot, so obviously they can't crowbar a big name into that role. Unless they got George Takei and-



This means Interesting Times will never be made into a film!! And that's probably the greatest of all the books! I HOPE YOU DIE!!!

Okay, I have been through IMDb and read a shitload of stuff about Twoflower never specifically being said to be Asian. Or, for that matter, anyone else in his country. The exact words of a heap of fucking tools, are that the Agatean Empire 'loosely resembles China'.


Let's see... there is a massive wall. There are fireworks and cannons for the purposes of launching fireworks. There is a terracotta army. There is a forbidden city. There are cuisines based on raw fish. There is ming blue-on-white artwork. There are tea ceremonies. Then we go to the Japanese stuff - there are tsumo. There is noh theatre. There are samurai. There are paper walls. There are ninjas. There are geisha. There are kimono.

Finally, the continent, due to the staggering amount of gold available... is nicknamed The Aurient.

I really want to know what you have to do to more than 'loosely resemble' Asia.

And anyway... if Twoflower is American then what's the deal with his name? Jesus Christ, man, the whole idea of his name is that it is a loose parody of the stereotypical Oriental poetic names, with everyone in The Agatean Empire being similarly named - Four Yoked Oxen is the one that sticks in my mind.

But anyway, the irritating vassals of fandom who explain any rape to an adapted work away with the utmost callousness have been at work and this is apparenly completely logical casting. Even though the fact that Mr Teatime had a slight but noticeable Brooklyn accent in Hogfather tells us that an American isn't particularly foreign in Ahnk-Morpork, which sort of is the entire reason for the character's frigging entire existence in the context of the story.

I hate all of humanity right now.

What else is there to offend me in this cast list, let's see... ah! You remember Nicholas Tennant, presumably David's loser brother, the bloke who was a full foot too tall, far too good looking and also nowhere near funny or talented enough to play the part of Corporal Nobbs but somehow got cast anyway? No, I have not hunted him down and bathed in his worthless blood yet. He is back, and he's playing the "Head Librarian". I guess that'd be the one that turns into an orangutan shortly after appearing so we won't be afflicted with his presence for long, it would seem HOWEVER - another actor from Hogfather returning in an entirely unrelated role for absolutely no reason. (I think there are more than a couple of actors in the UK...) Why not give us a third one while you're at it?

... Nigel Planer as The Arch-Astronomer.


Of course, that could be a hoax given that it's listed on Wikipedia but not on IMDb.... but then the question of which of the sites is more likely to have a hoax is a very tricky one...

The one good piece of news is the fact that Christopher Lee will be playing death. Slightly curious in that he has played the role twice prior to Hogfather (and was going to reprise it a third time for Reaper Man, some evidence of which exists on YouTube) but got passed over in favour of Ian Richardson for that. Who died very soon afterwards. Now, obviously I'm not saying that Lee hunted him down and murdered him in cold blood with the aid of his SAS training... I'm just saying that we should consider the theory...

Ooh, they've already decided what the next one to film will be! No, not one of the popular ones - Going Postal. The one that's exactly the same as The Truth but with 'post office' replacing 'newspaper' at the relevant points. What I find notable about this is the fact that all of the Sky One shows that serve as adaptations are branded with the author's name in the title, and this in turn leads to a humourous effect therein once referenced by Lawrence Miles... in this case Terry Pratchett's Going Postal. So DUCK!