Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jared reviews Fires of Pompeii

0:30 - Yes, started the comments a bit earlier this time. Okay, now what's more pathetic: the fact that I noticed a cart in the background saying "Two Amphoras for the Price of One" and thought that was kind of neat, or the fact that I was instantly irked because the plural of 'amphora' is actually 'amphorae'?

0:42 - Oh, yeah, just give us a big close-up of the sign. Cancel out all my feelings of superiority for spotting it. WHERE WAS THE CLOSE UP OF 'BAD WOLF' WRITTEN IN GERMAN ON THAT BOMB CAPTAIN JACK WAS STRADDLING, EH? Didn't feel the need to give us a close up of that, leaving all the fanboys in anguish as they tried to find the reference in that episode for three fucking weeks! *Sigh* Thought production team could do some cool background detail... I'll be looking for more signs, don't you worry about me...

1:22 - "ME-NO-SPEAK-CELTIC!" It's kind of good that now the TARDIS translation unit is part of the canon rather than an element of fan speculation we get this sort of playing around with the ideas inherit in it - something that I think until the new series had been done only by... wait for it, wait for it... Christopher Bulis. Yes, I'm serious. The TARDIS translator was a very important plot point in his wonderfully bizarre Jules Verne-inspired action-adventure Davison story Imperial Moon. Even though they diss him he was a trendsetter in bringing the translator out of the closet. Somebody in the NAs probably mentioned it before him but they're so miserable I can't be arsed to read many of them.

Anyway, back on track I myself wondered that for a while, with regards to using the actual language through the translation circuit. It would be more logical for it to be designed with a sort of bypass so if it sees translation isn't necessary it ingores the comment. And interesting that it only seems to bypass one language at a time, as seemingly seen in the UNIT era with Pertwee given details like meetings with the Chinese ambassador... oh, god, fanon overload, better get back to the episode...

1:27 - "How's he mean Celtic?!" Oh for fuck's sake. Can't we have a joke of reasonable cleverness without it being explained? Say what you like about Nev Fountain, if he explained jokes like this after the fact his releases would be four hours long.

Oh, and incidentally the 'Welsh' joke after the 'Celtic' is a load of toss. At this stage the Cets were probably known better by their Greek name, 'the Celtoids' and were predominantly inhabitants of Germany and France. Noticeably, in fact, Roman writers draw parallels between the Celts and the Britons, but never refer to them as the same people.

1:48 - FIRES OF VULCAN IS NOT CANON!!! Ah, I'm joking. But Tennant does imply that The Romans was his last visit to Ancient Rome. Git.

2:08 - This red cowled chick want to make it any more obvious she's following them. *Sigh* In my day, we'd only have needed ONE shot...

3:16 - James Moran? Who's that? Name is familiar. Feel like I should hate him for some reason. Did he write something terrible once?

3:50 - These women sure get excited about box. I get the feeling my mum will like this episode. Because she loves a pantomime element to her villains. Well, she'll probably love the Supernanny from last week for that matter..

4:46 - "MODERN ART!!!" Nowhere near the heights of, say, "OOYAGONNACAWL?" from Army of Ghosts (which I watched four times in quick succession, partly in confusion over what had been said and partly for confirmation that my eyes and ears were not fucking around with me) for terrible reading of a line, but I think deserving of a mention. He (whoever it is) manages to make those two words sound like a cry-out during a seizure.

6:04 - "Cavorting with Etruscans, Christians and all sorts..." I'd been getting a My Family vibe from this household so far. Now I've got my hopes up for some Love Thy Neighbour-style antics...

6:57 - "I see the most terrible things" "Like what?" "A face... a face of stone". Riiight. Is it a bust of Burn Gorman?

7:25 - Oh. So when she said "A stone face" she meant "Megatron bathing in lava". Now I get it...

Her delivery of "Who are you?" is unbelievably terrible.

7:51 - So it ISN'T volcano day. Man, these bits done especially for the trailer are starting to piss me off...

8:01 - "Not this time, Pompeii is a fixed point in history, what happens HAPPENS!" Hmm, a bit of a dodgy explanation. Is it possible that Vulcan is canon and the Doctor is covering for his past self now? Strange he didn't recognise the city, though...

8:37 - "Then he is a stranger to Pompeii" Ooh, more evidence in the Against file on Vulcan. Even if it comes from a batshit insane source.

8:55 - ... why is she reading out the bit about the Blue Box? Going by the reaction it got when it first appeared I assumed they all knew the relevance. Is that one sister just really slow?

10:00 - ..wait, Donna's back with the Doctor? There better be an explanation...

10:56 - "THAT object looks rather like wood to me!" Ah, now that's funny.
Hopefully the Doctor will turn to camera and say "See, because a marble inspector would inspect the quality of marble being sold, rather than check if a man's furniture is comprised entirely of marble" to the audience so all the retards apparently watching this show can keep up. I love the very sitcom-wife response of Whatserface as well...

12:04 - Ah, so Lucius Dextrus is the gigantic mutant rabbit in a toga we saw in the trailer. He also looks a right grumpy bastard.


Somewhere around here: This is an edit after the fact because the duelling soothsayers bit is by far the coolest thing in DW since it has been brought back. I had to quite writing stuff in wordpad while it was happening. Big thumbs up.


18:28 - Whoah, a very near case of uptoga-ing as Teenagius walks up those steps. Gives me flashbacks to when Jamie was on the TARDIS crew.

And on that note, something I wondered about The Dominators - no, not how it was made, it's actually quite a fun story you Invasion-loving piece of filth - those of you with clear memories of obscure stories will remember that the Dulcians all wore togas. And that one of the Dulcians, Cully, who was also the most central to the storyline, worked with Jamie to defeat the villainous Quarks. This entailed lots of hiding in bunkers from the two of them, and I couldn't help but wonder as they climbed up the one ladder out at the end of the scene - do they take it in turns to go first up the ladder or flip a coin?

Anyway, back to 2008...

18:44 - "Don't tell my dad?" "Only if you don't tell mine!" Yeah, whatever that's meant to mean. I guess it's Tennant just being ultra-flippant but he generally makes sense whilst doing it. Ah, well, maybe the volcano-dust is still messing with him..

19:22 - "The few-cha, Doctor, we ah building the few-cha!" did he just start doing a Michael Caine impression? Or do his teeth frequently make speech difficult?

Anyway, hoping the next lines of dialogue go something like this:
"How did you know we were here?"
"Soothsayer"
"Oh. Right..."

19:26 - Oh. So one shot of mutant-rabbit man is scary enough to close the scene? That's a bit disappointing...

19:49 - Whoa. Took me a moment to get that bit. "Take-home Maximus", I mean. Thought it was some sort of reference to male prostitutes. A nice bit of character development for Donna, though.

Wait, or was it 'Take home Exzerma', referring to her skin condition? Hmm. Sometimes I do miss the ultra-clear diction of shows in 70s, you know...

19:53 - Oh, it WAS about sex. I think. Man, this is making me seem like an idiot...

20:15 - This really is quite creepy, all this stuff about seeing nothing averse about the next day in history. Hopefully this is NOT how it could be read - as that somehow the Doctor himself will provide the catalyst for the eruption near the end of the story. Of course if this was the case I'm sure there would have been a complete furore from DW fandom even I couldn't miss so it almost certainly doesn't happen. So... not sure why I brought it up, really.

21:50 - "The seed may flow on the wind in any direction" "Yeah, I knew you were gonna say that!"

YES! The Doctor being flippant towards pretentious gits is one of my absolute aspects of the series. Let's have more, please.

22:39 - Hang on... stone or not, the Doctor rips one of Lucius' arms off. And his guards don't do anything. This is much worse than that bit in Two Doctors people won't fucking shut up about - okay, the extras don't help or run out, but they at least look affronted and gasp when Oscar is stabbed to death. These guys don't look surprised! Valium epidemic in Ancient Rome or what?!

22:53 - Ah, the old 'wait until they're moving' tactic of security. Don't see it in the real world much but it's proved very enduring on TV.

Couldn't make out what Lucius screamed as his circuit was knocked over but I'm choosing to believe it was "ARRRGH, MYYYYYY WEEEEEB!"

23:20 - I'm also choosing to believe that that roar was actually "So... you have failed me again, Lucius of Starscream"

23:24 - If anyone can decipher what David says through his jaw in this scene it would be greatly appreciated. I'm getting really sick of missing chunks of dialogue. "Only one set of atoms 'ere" it sort of sounds like...

24:23- Quite nice of the old servant character who has only had one line before this to walk into the firebeast slack-jawed purely to demonstrate to the audience that this thing is dangerous. I thought it may have been one of the many benevolent flaming Megatrons...

24:53 - Donna has been kidnapped by a lesbian coven. FINALLY!

26:06 - ...I'm not sure most women would react the way that Donna does when faced with a sacrifical knife and tied up. On previous occassions she seems to have been meeker when her life has been in mortal danger... now it seems to be the over way round.

27:00 - "The stranger will defile us!"
"Yeah, but I'll only be a minute"
*Canned laughter*

27:24 - "Oh my god! What's happened to you?!" See this would actually be impressive if this hadn't been in the trailers. Spoiler amnesia at work again... well, and I guess if the veil wasn't actually very difficult to see through...

Seriously, though, this is some very good prosthetic work. It seems to have always been the strongpoint of the BBC's work in Doctor Who, in fact.

36:29 - HOLY MOSESFUCK I WAS RIGHT!!! The Doctor erupts the volcano! Awww, man. What a downer.

And how incredible that at the same time the Seventh Doctor is having a straight historical like everyone wants the Tenth to, the Tenth Doctor is going around causing the deaths of twenty thousand people to restore the balance of the timelines and having deal with psychics on every corner. It's like they both met up in a pub the previous night, got absolutely smashed, and started doing that old sitcom setup of "Listen mate, you could NEVER do my job..."

37:28 - "Push this button and it's all over... twenty thousand people.... do I have the right? Do I have the RIGHT? Donna... if somebody pointed out an orphanage to you, and said there were twenty thousand children inside.... and...erm... said that unless you killed them they would kill the orphanage next door with 6 billion orphans... could you then go through the entire orphanage with a chainsaw? And eat what's left?"

"...no, because that somebody is clearly insane"

"...I get the feeling I've lost the knack for these.."

37:43 - Volcanos induce orgasms in psychics, eh? That's one for the Verkoff Files..

43:58 - The Doctor's explanation of the explosion opening a Rift in time...well, it doesn't convince me. Given that he hasn't learnt anything knew since the moment he was baffled by it. It seems like he's guessing. It would have been better to leave the power of the prophets mysterious to a degree, I think. After all, more than a couple of people agree that stories with 'magic' in them become a bit dull when the need is felt to write in an explanation for it all..

45:05 - Now I feel bad about myself. Because I'm sure no incest was meant to be implied with that shot..

45:12 - WHAT? The volcano gets Martha's theme music? That's jumping the gun a bit, surely?

46:10 - Oh, fuck off! I am so sick of longwinded epilogues to these stories. This might actually be a really, really good bit, but COME ON! You keep going on about pace and brevity but it only applies to the first 35 minutes for some reason. Yes, let's just have the end go on as long as possible. Dare leave anything to imagination and BBC Wales will seen Taffy O'Jones to break your legs with a fucking sledgehammer. *Sigh* Now I've predisposed myself to hate this scene already, I guess I'll watch it...

46:51 - Let me guess - household gods now look like Donna and the Doctor?

47:03 - He shoots, he scores! Take that, motherfuckers! You never get one like that over the J. NEVER!

Seriously, I still think that scene was largely pointless. Okay, it was harmless, but it takes away time from the main story with these 48-minuters (Did they get longer somewhere along the line? I'm so out of the loop I've no idea) Didn't effect this one because it's all very economically told and told well BUT you encourage this sort of crap and everyone will be doing it! NO EPILOGUE SCENES! I'm laying the law down now. In fact, go one better. Episodes end mid-sentence. We can guess the next thing they're going to say most of the times the endings are so predictable. Cut at the beginning of a scene if the scene starts with a companion crying. We can fill in those blanks all too well. Do this even if the episodes are under-running. The gaps can be filled with shots of Bernard Cribbins dancing. I HAVE SPOKEN!




My thoughts: As much as I rag off on the small details, this is one of the absolute best outings of the BBC Wales new Doctor, and one I have filed away in the 'worth rewatching' zone of my memory, which few of these stories are honoured with. The handling of the soothsayers at the head of a good-sized cast and brilliant production values, over what seems more than a superficial script is just... fantastic. And I hate myself for saying that. 9/10. A very, very good start to the season. I didn't even mind the monsters.


In the interests in comparing my mad ramblings to those of the rest of fandom, I present hopefully a regular feature -

WHAT THOSE OTHER LOSERS THOUGHT

Eye of Horus response - ...erm, non-existant. Jesus, when I'm beating you to the punch you know you're slack guys. You're meant to be a professional website! Erm, I think. It's not as if anyone takes you seriously but I'm pretty sure you're meant to be. They've got some photos of Georgina Moffet, though. My commendations to Mr Davison on having such a hot daughter. Yowza.

Planet Zog response - I’m not sure, it seemed to take away some of the mystery of the programme to define these “fixed point” or “flux” situations. Perhaps. Maybe some groundwork is being laid for future episodes’ plotpoints with these concepts? Also, wasn’t there a reference to a Pyramids of Mars-style alternative future that “existed” but was averted? (Or something.) This kind of clashes with the “fixed point” thing. Phew.

IMDBer response - I was really angry when Caecilius and Metalla were saved, Quintus, he escaped and the sister could have as she didn't exist in the books, but Caecilius and Metalla should have died. Even though it made me really sad when they did in the books. I know a couple of my friends got a bit grumpy because he was apparently a marble merchant when actually he was a banker. I think they should have had a line about Caecilius being in the garden, that would have made me laugh.

Paraphrased Lawrence Miles Response - Fuck I hate Catherine Tait. Monsters suck. I should have written this one.

Keith Topping response - Is drama eram praeclarus precipue ergo Spartacus iocus. Quattuor ex quinque.

OGer response - I didn't like the stall holder to start with but by his 3rd line I had grown very fond of him.

Spara's baffling response - My JUICY spoiler has now been Pmed to several posters. If you want it let me know, but be warned - it reveals the season climax!!!

So there you go.


Next week trailer: The Ood apparently perform in a slickly-directed Snoop Dogg film clip... the Doctor and the Donna are making some kind of references to them not being married... Ood like imitating Nazi stormtroopers... a B7 tribute with an old gas factory doubling for a high tech base... black men with guns (possibly more of that Snoop Dogg clip)... Captain Darling has gone bald and is quite upset about it... the Doctor and Donna are locked in a shipping container and not allowed out until they agree to do that Comic Relief bit again... the Doctor gets caught inside a giant skilltester and due to all of the other prizes being shipping containers becomes an instant target for the claw... and the Ood decide the Doctor and Donna need to die after their karaoke duet goes horribly wrong.

Looks like quite an ep.

5 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

WHERE WAS THE CLOSE UP OF 'BAD WOLF' WRITTEN IN GERMAN ON THAT BOMB CAPTAIN JACK WAS STRADDLING, EH?
I won't go into my usual rant on that two-parter, except to note that it was a shambles in production with lots of fuckups like that, and all concerned admit to it. And I didn't bag out the plot once.

The TARDIS translator was a very important plot point in his wonderfully bizarre Jules Verne-inspired action-adventure Davison story Imperial Moon.
I love that book. Especially when Kamelion saves the Doctor who mutters about "mechanical servant" and assumes he's being insulted, rather than it being a plot point.

Much better use of Victoria than a certain Werewolf story, too.

Strange he didn't recognise the city, though...
He was rather preoccupied in Fires of Vulcan. He's probably lost a few memories during the Eighth Doctor era.

the duelling soothsayers bit is by far the coolest thing in DW since it has been brought back. I had to quite writing stuff in wordpad while it was happening. Big thumbs up
Me too. And my parents loved it as well. Something about it screams "don't go there!"...

But Tennant does imply that The Romans was his last visit to Ancient Rome. Git.
Ah, BUT, he was talking about Rome the city, rather than first century Italy, and he THINKS they've landed in Rome.

This is much worse than that bit in Two Doctors people won't fucking shut up about
Isn't that in Silver Nemesis, where no one stops drinking tea?

This entailed lots of hiding in bunkers from the two of them, and I couldn't help but wonder as they climbed up the one ladder out at the end of the scene - do they take it in turns to go first up the ladder or flip a coin?
According to the novelization, Jamie took the lead in their relationship.

"Take-home Maximus", I mean. Thought it was some sort of reference to male prostitutes.
It's "TK-Maximus" a pun on "TK-Max". Whatever the hell "TK-Max" is. All the reviews seem to assume we know what it is.

"ARRRGH, MYYYYYY WEEEEEB!"
ROFLMAO.

So when she said "A stone face" she meant "Megatron bathing in lava".
Isn't it odd how everyone (even me) looks at the Pyrovilles and thinks "transformer" when we're supposed to think "centurian"?

If anyone can decipher what David says through his jaw in this scene it would be greatly appreciated. I'm getting really sick of missing chunks of dialogue. "Only one set of atoms 'ere" it sort of sounds like...
As far as I can tell, the Doctor's dialogue is "No sign of them. Nice bit of allonzee. I think we're all right. What's that? No, it's closer. They're footsteps. Footsteps underground. Run!"

Dunno why his voice is so strange in that scene. It's like he bit his tongue or something.

Donna has been kidnapped by a lesbian coven. FINALLY!
Quoted for truth.

It's like they both met up in a pub the previous night, got absolutely smashed, and started doing that old sitcom setup of "Listen mate, you could NEVER do my job..."
Quoted for unadulterated genius.

"Push this button and it's all over... twenty thousand people.... do I have the right? Do I have the RIGHT? Donna... if somebody pointed out an orphanage to you, and said there were twenty thousand children inside.... and...erm... said that unless you killed them they would kill the orphanage next door with 6 billion orphans... could you then go through the entire orphanage with a chainsaw? And eat what's left?"
"...no, because that somebody is clearly insane"
"...I get the feeling I've lost the knack for these.."

Quoted because I'm still laughing.

That's one for the Verkoff Files..
That sounds so wrong, yet so obvious.

The volcano gets Martha's theme music?
Now I get the disturbing image of Murray Gold watching Vesuvius explode and thinking "Hey, that reminds me of Freema..."

Seriously, I still think that scene was largely pointless.
There are two possible explanations for it.

1) This is a Charley-style running arc of paradoxes and this family surviving is a major plot point

2) The episode was underrunning.

2) is likely as the Charles Daniels-style retarded production meant they couldn't film in the city long enough for the final explosion and stuff. So taking those scenes out meant there needed to be something to fill it.

I tell you, it would have been brilliant if the Household Gods turned out to be the Seventh Doctor and Mel...

The Ood apparently perform in a slickly-directed Snoop Dogg film clip...
Wow. You'll love Confidential, as we see Ood breakdancing between takes as "You Sexy Thang" plays in the background. But the chase sequence backed by "I Fought The Law" should have been in the episode proper...

Captain Darling has gone bald and is quite upset about it...
You have no idea.

A brilliant, life affirming review. I finished Sontaran story and really enjoyed it. The science of the conclusion is a bit dodgy, but this Helen "DNA Can Do Anything!!" Raynor writing people! Its easier to forgive than some of the bollocks she's tried to pass off in Torchwood. No, I liked it a lot. And the cliffhanger ending makes me yearn for next Monday!

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I love that book.

It's great! I love the way that the WHOLE time you're waiting for a cheesy parallel universe reveal and... it never happens. The Moon really was an up-market hunting safari for centuries, and Victorian England really did make and launch rockets onto it. Wonderful stuff.

Much better use of Victoria than a certain Werewolf story, too.

Yeah, I'd be inclined to agree. Kamelion well served as well.

He was rather preoccupied in Fires of Vulcan. He's probably lost a few memories during the Eighth Doctor era.

Well, good points.

Isn't that in Silver Nemesis, where no one stops drinking tea?

Ah, SN is worse. But people make a fuss about 2Ds as well.

According to the novelization, Jamie took the lead in their relationship.

So HE was the Dominator, eh?

Now I get the disturbing image of Murray Gold watching Vesuvius explode and thinking "Hey, that reminds me of Freema..."

That IS disturbing... another one for the Verkoff files..

1) This is a Charley-style running arc of paradoxes and this family surviving is a major plot point

Ah, now that is an interesting idea. Not that likely but still interesting.

And the cliffhanger ending makes me yearn for next Monday!

..isn't it meant to be part 2 of the story?

Youth of Australia said...

It's great! I love the way that the WHOLE time you're waiting for a cheesy parallel universe reveal and... it never happens. The Moon really was an up-market hunting safari for centuries, and Victorian England really did make and launch rockets onto it. Wonderful stuff.
The only issue I had is Turlough having amnesia about his past. Uh... no.

Yeah, I'd be inclined to agree. Kamelion well served as well.
His scenes are almost comedic. Every time he goes "Right, outside I go!" he has a fit and collapses.

Ah, SN is worse. But people make a fuss about 2Ds as well.
I don't think anyone realized he'd been stabbed, since Oscar simply sits down out of view to most of them.

So HE was the Dominator, eh?
Well, more Cully was the dominATED because he has a nervous breakdown as he realizes he's as pathetic and useless as every other Dulcian and that he's been lying to himself all the time.

That IS disturbing... another one for the Verkoff files..
The files that must never be opened.

Ah, now that is an interesting idea. Not that likely but still interesting.
Yep.

..isn't it meant to be part 2 of the story?
Yeah, but it's back to the Harntell era when we get the first scene from the next story. Or rather like the end of Frontios, which the ep seems to basically rip off.

Cameron Mason said...


This is an edit after the fact because the duelling soothsayers bit is by far the coolest thing in DW since it has been brought back.


Oh yes, that was just brilliant.



18:28 - Whoah, a very near case of uptoga-ing as Teenagius walks up those steps. Gives me flashbacks to when Jamie was on the TARDIS crew.


Given that the number of toga moments were matched by shots of Catherine Tate's cleavage, I'd say that there was a hint of Captain Jack Agenda to this episode (as opposed to Gay Agenda or Straight Agenda)...


45:12 - WHAT? The volcano gets Martha's theme music? That's jumping the gun a bit, surely?


Nah - that's just the start of the Doctor's theme from Series Three - it shares the same opening notes as Martha's theme.


Seriously, I still think that scene was largely pointless.


I think it's another one of those 'shoeing how the Doctor has changed your life' type scenes we've been getting over the course of the RTD.

Brilliant episode, as is the next one...

Cameron

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Given that the number of toga moments were matched by shots of Catherine Tate's cleavage, I'd say that there was a hint of Captain Jack Agenda to this episode (as opposed to Gay Agenda or Straight Agenda)...

Hmm, good point. Finally living up to the Bisexual Ideal that has been set up by Dave Stone yeeears before.

I think it's another one of those 'shoeing how the Doctor has changed your life' type scenes we've been getting over the course of the RTD.

They are getting a wee bit predictable now, though.