Monday, August 25, 2008

Jared Reviews the Forest of the Dead!

Assuming that's actually the title. I can't remember, I hated the episode.

Sigh, time for me to bite the bullet and review this shit. Yeah, I could easily skip it but damnit somebody cursed me with some sort of Episcopalian work ethic somewhere along the line that forces me to always try and finish stuff even if it takes me over a year to do it. So here we go...

Sadly I have to watch the episode again because... nothing of it sticks in my mind it's just horrible...

Okay, that was about two seconds now I have something to bitch about again. Why is the library even in this story? What does any of it mean? Presumably the library is a metaphor for something, as it serves no function to the plot as it could so easily have been set in, say, a dead city or a cave system or ANYWHERE. Let us assume that it's a metaphor for imagination and the duality thereof between the mind and imagination, as Cal imagines the library, yet at the same time in a Life on Mars-style trick the consciousnesses of the departed are on the library computer. As with Sam Tyler at the point where he commits suicide, whether they are alive or dead becomes more complicated than the ruminations of Schroedinger and enters a grey area of debate. So... why is this completely irrelevant?

For this metaphor to work the library needs to be the cradle of imagination, the lifeblood of a child's mind, even more for that, a symbiotic aspect that fuels it with knowledge and wonder in place of blood. Yet the characters within are either scared of libraries, view them as property, or sneer at them as nothing but boring repositories where some tacky pop fiction can mercifully be found (This view, shockingly, given by the Doctor himself. Wash your mouth out, motherfucker!) Furthermore, the script is really about television.

Why? Fucked if I know. That's exactly the point - what is going on here? The script is trying so hard to break the fourth wall and impart an elusive something to me that it hurts. Cal watches the Doctor, and hence the library, through the television throughout the story. Obviously a metatextual wink as the television is where the Doctor lives, of course. The other suggestion possible is that the television has superceded the library as the place for a child's imagination - that's also true. But does the contrast of trashy television that Cal flicks off in order to try and hunt the Doctor through the airwaves symbolize a ... drowning of imagination in mediocrity? Or is her desperation to find him a parallel to the experience of many a Who fan in the 80s, presumably Moffatt himself included, of trying to figure out where in the schedule they could get their dimunitive Scotsman fix? Or is it ANOTHER metaphor for the wilderness years wherein fans could not find the Doctor anywhere? Again, I don't know. Textually there seems no clear message...

Much of the episode is in turn taken up by Cal's reactions to the Doctor and Donna's trials and tribulations as seen on her telly - fourth wall shattering at its most intrusive, recursive and downright boring. Within here there is one particularly odd example, during one of the many oh-so-blatantly-screaming-out "River Song is the Doctor's wife motherfucker!!!" moments that fandom keep telling me are 100% 'ambiguous', which evokes a response from Cal to throw down the remote and scream angrily at the TV. Again... I know there is a point to be made and that the writer is throwing it in my face with zero subtlety. But also zero coherence.

So... is Moffat uncharacteristically voicing the views of Davison and JNT that kids don't want to see the Doctor doing 'kissy' stuff? Is he mocking this view? Is Cal not symbolic of the show's official target audience but of the actual audience, or, as Moffat sees them, the 'nerds' on OG, who point out that there's no oppurtunity for Reinette and the Doctor to have sex in The Girl and the Fireplace unless it's a menage-a-trois with The King? (Yeah, that was me) Again... if he is doing ANY of this what's there to prove.

This is all compounded by the nadir of the story, if not for the character of Donna and/or the series itself - Donna's 'prison' in the computer's core. I admit I don't really watch much television because of our limited setup (ABC and SBS only) so I have no idea what exactly this is a parody of. I can just tell that it's a parody of something, possibly mid-day soaps like the hilarious bad Passions (if you can watch an entire episode you get a prize!) or of the cheapo-looking evening soaps ala Neighbours and Eastenders. Of course if either is likely to be the target it would be the latter as EE is the show that killed DW. But then...again... my question is what does it mean?

There's a lot of subtext in this story, I know because it keeps shoving it in my face but WHAT DOES ANY OF IT MEAN?!?!? Does it connect to ANYTHING? I mean, let's assume that Donna's a prisoner in EE and therefore the hospital (and therefore Doctor Moon) represents DW's 'enemy'. Does it then thematically make sense for Doctor Moon and the hospital to [sort of] save the lives of all those faceless losers at the end? But if it does not represent EE... is there any point for it even being in the episode? It's like a massive gumbo of themes and plot points, all just sloshing about in a bowl, with nothing connected to anything else.

The end result is that the whole thing feels like a last-minute script written by somebody who's falling back on something that doesn't belong in it at all - the mindset one doubtlessly gets from working in TV for about two decades. For a story ostensily about a library (insofar as it can be said to be about ANYTHING at all) this is very, very bad.

As stated in last week- er, the last review I did - this story is full of Moffat's absolute worst characterisation, which is a shame considering that we're meant to fall in love with *shudder* River Song in the space of knowing her for about ten minutes (Hint: get a decent actress next time you try this) so is sort of the most ambitious story in terms of characterisation made. You could say that it's best to try and fail rather than not to try at all, but I know what's best to see on TV.

I have not seen either Press Gang or Coupling (No, it's not some sort of mental condition) but it is interesting to note that people who have seen them (namely Lawrence Miles and Ewen Campion-Clarke, who I'm sure don't want to be mentioned in the same sentence but it was kind of necessary there) comment, with regards to one of both series, that in Series 4 women suddenly become needlessly cruel bitches. That is quite a conincidence for that to happen in that number of series with two completely different shows. Or, should I say, three completely different shows.

For, yes, DW is indeed in its fourth series at the moment. That said, none of the females can fairly be described as 'needlessly cruel bitches', but ALL can be referred to as 'terribly characterised'. Donna, instead of being the anti-companion that over stories have so-proudly worn on their sleeves is now not only the cookie-cutter companion we're so used to (and in some case sick of) but is also utterly sidelined despite her traditionally dominating presence. She is also given a completely out-of-character fantasy-land where she marries the first guy she meets,(Well, second guy. She may think that black guys are cursed after Lance) an action I consider so odd I wonder if Moffat is cunningly using 'marriage' as a euphemism for 'sex' in a few of his scripts.

And then Miss Evangelista. Hoo-boy. The character does suggest some issues behind the first wall, with a very frank formula offered "Beauty = stupidity", which seems to be the recipe for a horribly stereotyped character to begin with, but when taken to the extent that the character suddenly becomes an eloquent genius when her face is torn apart by a computer malfunction and... I dunno. One of the few bits in the story that I consider creepy - but doubtlessly not for the reasons intended.

A quick note about the Doctor, you know the guy who's apparently the heroic god of all space and time but basically spends the entire story unable to work any pieces of technology, is slow-witted to the extreme and a delusional paranoid wreck who is unable to wrap his head around the concept that its possible for him to meet somebody who has already met him (YOU FUCKING TOOL!!!) instead assuming that River Song is "AN ALIEN SPY!!" (okay, that's my quote). He sucks in this story, he really does. And I feel the need to mention it because the factions of fandom telling me that River Song isn't necessarily the Doctor's wife (Guh?) offer me the alternative explanation:

The Doctor only gives River Song his name so that he can trust her when he first meets her and the screwdriver so that he can fix his own at the end.

On the surface that may seem fine, unless you're like me and think that the show should have an all Onthiological plotline prohibition now that Moffat has completely destroyed them through insane over-use, but scratch beyond the surface and this is surely one of the most disturbing things the Doctor has ever done? I mean, instead of just sending a screwdriver back in his time-safe with a post-it-note saying "Hey, buddy, this will help in the Library" he decides to hunt down and systematically seduce a young archaeologist, cons her into an empty, loveless marriage just so that she can show up when he needs an extra hand? Jesus Christ the disturbing mindsets fandom must have to find this acceptable! Was McCoy ever that much of an arsehole???

Anyway, we have a story with no themes, a cast with no character, a general sense of malaise and self-absorption. How's the best way for this to climax?

"You're in the biggest library in the Universe. Look me up"

This is the big iconic moment of the show, especially so to myself as one of the bits conspicuous for NOT being complete crap. But I'm torn - Ewen says that it's a great moment. Larry says cop-out. (Oops, done it again there..)

Ultimately, they're really both right - it's a great moment.. that's used as a cop-out.

If the Doctor was facing a highly intelligent enemy with extra-sensory powers and the moment did not occur at the episode's climax it could be very cool. Or, I guess it could if you actually like 45 solid minutes of 'shipping and no Donna action it could work as is. But then who am I complain about a dodgy climax - this is entirely appropriate ending for a story as far up it's own arse as this one and does finally make some vague use of the library setting - a factor that critically sets it apart.

That said... I am once again distracted by small details such as pica-scopic dust-mites being able to read a collection of works on the Doctor in the space of ten seconds when they're barely able to construct a sentence with far simpler technology.

As usual though I feel the need to clarify that Larry does take his criticism too far and leaves me wondering just how the fuck he sees the world when he suggests that the incident 'clearly indicates' that Moffat is planning an 'even more God-like' 11 the Doctor.

Show your working, please.

Ultimately it's nowhere near as bad as insisting that when Tosh is thrown in a 'Guantanamo Bay' cell that this is presented as a comedy moment. I wouldn't mind him being so massively off his face were this not actually Exhibits A - J for his case against Chiball being a shit writer, and apparently his sole reason for hating the series.

But... seriously... what made him think that was meant to be funny? I mean, come on! Does he take unusual amounts of pleasure in seeing Asians locked up and assumes that this is a universal disposition?

He is of course correct in pointing out that UNIT being concerned about homeland security makes absolutely no sense if you remove it from the narrative universe, but blaming Chibnall is foolish when we see that exact same slant in the parent show of 'Big Russell'.

What's that? I've just spent four paragraphs not even deigning to mention the episode that I'm technically reviewing? Oh, I apologise for my unprofessionalism! Let's have a look at the far more informative words of wisdom that Eye of Horus have to offer...


Wow. Do you guys work for CNN in your day job?

Of course, I should probably fess up in that I'm living a white lie in that I haven't entirely watched the episode. I half-watched it at that convention, you know, and saw that everybody survived in the computer world and that River Song sacrificed herself in some way and that the Doctor flew through a wormhole with his sonic screwdriver... but I think the fact that at no stage did I feel compelled to watch this properly is enough of an indictment against the episode, when you consider what a fucking unbelievable uber-nerd I am.


(The 2's because the direction was pretty good)


Incisive Response: Who would call their daughter...


Moron Response: River Song was his wife? I must have missed something. How did everyone reach this conclusion? I'm not saying she's not, but why are people convinces she was?

Person who deserves the swift embrace of death response: I dunno if this has been posted before, but my wife pointed out that RIVER SONG is an anagram of...


This sent my head into all manner of guff about the Master's ring and Rose's return and what have you.

Probably all a coincidence or a nice piece of misdirection.

Thoughts? Comments?

(What. The. Fuck. 'Rose v Ring'?? What the fuck?!? Is that a level on fucking Street Fighter or something???? I mean... what?!? Hey, you know my name - 'Jared Hansen'? Did you know that that's an anagram of "A raj hen's den"? Yes - THAT MEANS I AM ACTUALLY CHRISTOPHER SKASE!!!)

DontTeaseMeRoseTyler Response: Riversong is a lesbian?

I think this is why the doctor was so sad at the end of the episode, even after he saved her. Think about it. He will see her in the future again, so why was he so full of despair? I think it's obvious he has a one sided love for her in the future and she doesn't tell him until right at the end and they can only remain friends. The Doctor tells her his name only to have it thrown back in his face with rejection. I don't know why they went with an angle like this, possibly to highlight that even though he can take women to the ends of the universe, not everyone will fall for him instantly. People have their own issues as well. I thought they were only going to fill Torchwood with homosexual propaganda, but it seems like the trends are sweeping across to the mother brand.

Everyone else's Response to that:

Paraphrased Lawrence Miles Response: As we all know, the phrase 'behind the sofa' was NEVER used until the eighties... what's that? You watched Whose Doctor Who just the other day and Melvyn Bragg uses the phrase? OH, WELL DONE COLUMBO!

Anyway, my point is that Doctor Who has NEVER been scary. EVER. To anybody. SHUT THE FUCK UP DON'T DARE CONTRADICT ME OR I'LL FORCE FEED YOUR BALLS TO NEIL GAIMAN. Yeah, I know he'd enjoy it, I want to get the scrote on-side.

The point is - MOFFAT IS A TOOL! He's trying to make it scary and - hahaha, it's just pathetic. And this is so slow I fell asleep on the sofa and pissed Blink for a third time. And this is WONDERFUL - bet you're feeling sorry that you slagged off The Book of the World now, eh? It's better than this shit and you can't deny it! NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN HUMBLE ME NOW!

Next Week: People on a bus yell at each other.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finally confirmed... TDAs SUCK!

Having a little bit of unexpected spare time at the end of this week's Librarian classes at TAFE I looked around for something to amuse myself in TAFE's library. I wasn't sure what exactly I would find aside from my ye olde friend The Internet considering that the collection policy at Wyong TAFE seems to be "If it's a TV/film tie-in buy it, if it's not it can fuck off. What? That's something that got made into a TV series? That's no good. We need the really tacky looking version with a photo of Sean Bean on the cover. Ideally with some full-colour plates of the filming in the middle of it and behind-the-scenes details at the back."

Seriously, they've got
Sharpe tie-in versions of the original novels
Buffy and Angel novels
The Independence Day novelisation!
The I-Spy novelisation!
Novelisations of things you could swear never came out in the cinema!
A novelisation of Cracker: Best Boys? By GARETH FUCKING ROBERTS?!?

What I didn't realise was that this meant they had nearly all the Doctor Who Ten Doctor Adventure novels, so I was now able to actually read one without paying any money.

Thank God for small mercies, huh?

It's hard to get any facts straight in fandom because both views are vigorously defended by two different, equally illiterate groups who like smashing their keyboards just as much. So, for me, I wasn't entirely sure whether the new books were new versions of The Adventures of Spot scrawled in crayon with 'Spot' occassionally replaced by 'The Doctor', or massively intellectual tomes that outshone the rest of DW with dazzling finesse and timeless prose to the point that Kurt Vonneghut would kill himself in shame upon setting eyes on them. The former is doubtlessly closer to reality.

2.45 I started reading Sick Building by Paul Magrs. By 3.15 I was over a 100 pages in. That's 3.3 pages a minute, people. The prose had nothing, Nothing, beneath the surface, it was like going down a slippery dip. The plot had nothing, for that matter. The Doctor screams "Whoa shit giant space-monster gon' eat this planet!". Luckily only three people happen to live on said planet so evacuating them in the space of two days is going to be easy, even with the TARDIS bafflingly parked half a day's walk away from their house. And - get this - the three people on the planet are a little socially awkward. And they have robots. This is mind-expanding shit.

Okay, it's possible that I just happened to be reading an unutterably lame book, but I think it's still evidence that, whatever happens, the worst thing that you can do in creating a children's book is throwing money at some guy and saying "Write for kids". I had the horrible feeling whilst reading this shit that if I had been ten-twelve years old I would have given up under the constant golden shower of condescension. And it's not as though I hate kid's books. As part of my work experience I was fobbed off onto the children's librarian to give my instructor time off and she showed me a book called The Pigeon Wants a Puppy for, I dunno, 4 year olds or something. And it was GREAT. So this isn't purely about my reading Terry Pratchett novels since before the age of 9.

To everyone who says otherwise, YES, the new Doctor Who books are for kids. Specifically kids who like books for kids. This message also goes out to Lance Parkin, who is in a sort of diplomatic denial over the matter and constantly argues that the PDAs if brought back would NOT be financially feasible. Mate, if I was twelve again, and the choice was between "Martha meets socially awkward youth who falls in love with her cue laughter here" and "Master goes on Sin City style gangland killing spree in London while Doctor's on vacation", I know which I'd fucking choose.*

*Yes, this is a strawman, because I chose the best example of the PDAs. EVEN SO, if the second option was "Patrick Troughton in drag hitting on Ben Jackson while walking sharks kill EVERYONE", I would still go old-skool... not sure what that says about me but there you go.

The Jeff Fenech Code

Okay, this is a weird one. But delving through my old text files again and I find this... hoo-boy. A clip from Jeff Fenech that they played on Get This constantly, asking in vain as to what the meaning trying to be conveyed could possibly be. Came from Today Tonight, naturally. Sadly, I've been unable to find any sort of link to the original .mp3, but I did transcribe it at the start of the text. It's

"Is, is not a crime at all. Like I said, I, I can be with Frank Tenane and tell him to shoot you an if he shoots you and I di'n't mean to tell him, I'm joking, they shoot me, huh? You say he shoot ya?"

"Don't shoot me, Frank."

"Tha's'fo'sure. But I'm just saying, if I told Frank to jump off the harbour, told you not to land in front of the harbour bridge and jump off the harbour bridge and ya jump.... I don't want ya jumpin off tha harbour bridge!"

Now for the FACTS

Time to crack this riddle once and for all. What becomes immediately apparent, is that whatever Fenech is referring to, is not in anyway illegal. Even if it is, as it seems to be, conspiracy to commit murder. Which creates a bit of a dilemma, because murder is quite obviously a crime in our country. This suggests that Fenech is actually referring to an altogether foreign justice system that he is familiar with from years of travel.

Like I said, I, I can be with Frank Tenane and tell him to shoot you an if he shoots you and I di'n't mean to tell him, I'm joking, they shoot me, huh?

This passage reveals that Fenech is just another victim of the notorious 'Frank Tenane' - most likely not his real name. If Fenech is to innocently suggest, in a half-sarcastic manner to this heavily-armed psychopath, get this, he will actually kill them. If Fenech is then to comment at all on in dissatisfaction on, say, the manner of execution applied, or the fact that the execution happened at all, he himself is to be immediately executed. The 'huh' punctuating this information betrays a genuine surprise that the other can be unaware of this status quo, which means that Fenech believes this is quite normal. He is utterly accepting of the rules of Tenane's overlordship, suggesting that there is something of a Stockholm-Syndrome taint to their relationship, given the expansive freedoms given to braindead and retired former heavyweight champions in our modern society.

You say he shoot ya?

This can be put down to simple confusion on Fenech's part, due to mishearing an earlier question, he is clearly under the impression that the interviewer has told him that Tenane shot him. As heard in the audio, there is much confusion at the point, so clearly Tenane has a reputation for incredible efficiency in his work. Possibly he is also unnerved by the prospect of being interviewed by an undead, walking corpse of a journalist whom has been slayed in the not-too-distant past by his pimp-like murdering retainer. This in turn unravels another layer to the relationship, as although Fenech believes that this guardianship is both normal and benevolent, he yet fears recompense and clearly guilt for those who are mowed down in his path to retired boxer oblivion-land. He can not argue that he is unable to decipher the difference between right and wrong on this evidence.

Don't shoot me, Frank.

Every way that this interruption from the interviewer can be read is disturbing.

a) Frank is in the room at this point, with a loaded gun.

b) Having encountered Frank before, it left such an impact on the interviewer that he regularly hallucinates the man in front of him, holding a gun.

c) Fenech himself is holding a gun at this point, and through his own searingly ethical Walkley-award winning journalism skills the interviewer has deduced a disturbing truth - that Fenech and 'Frank' are the same man!

Let us therefore assume that these are all true.


An Aramaic phrase that roughly translates to "Haha, you are embroiled in my wed, o fly of flies. Your pennance shall be as the burning skies to the earthworm in bed, know what I am speaking of?" only recorded once in all of recorded text, and that in a small graffito found at the outdoor lavatory of Ozymandias. Such casual use of such errata indicates that Jeff Fenech is a man of far greater learning than previously indicated, and one of sinister intent.

But I'm just saying,

Covering his tracks rapidly, instantly regretting that previous comment that reveals so much and attempting to defuse (or appear to defuse) the situation...

if I told Frank to jump off the harbour

Okay, this is where things get complicated. He attempts here to imagine a scenario wherein Frank Tenane would commit suicide via leaping into Sydney Harbour. The very thought, though, appears to send him into a terrifying spiral of instability, and he is quick to present a new hypothetical..

told you not to land in front of the harbour bridge one wherein the interviewer is asked not to land in front of the Sydney harbour bridge. (We shall ignore the fact that the bridge does not really have a 'front' for the timebeing..)

and jump off the harbour bridge

He feels that what he has proposed is insufficient for true intellectual stimulation, and so bids to complicate the matter, by proposing the idea of him landing and jumping at the very same instant - a notion toying with the concepts of Quantum mechanics, a form of Schroedinger cat concerned with duality and the potential for conflicting actions carried at the same instant the more controversial models for the structure of time itself. Pondering the question of whether, if both these actions were to be undertaken at the same instant.. what would happen to the fabric of reality?

and ya jump.... I don't want ya jumpin off tha harbour bridge!

Sadly, at the point of realising his Einstein-esque thought experiment, his own bruised and battered brain buckles and collapses in on itself. Tragically, the inner-workings of Fenech's Leap remains lost to time, leaving nothing but dim assurances that he does not wish to see complete strangers commit suicide senselessly. This can be read as either a triumph or a temporary set-back for the sinister, all-encompassing force of Frank Tenane, depending on whether one considers this mythical personage to be either another personality of Fenech's devising or a corporeal form unto itself. Whichsoever it may be, it cannot be but read as a disturbing tragedy.

I am so fucking high right now.

(NB: Of course I am actually not, being one of the sobrest people in Australia in all regards (er, well, one or two regards I guess) but I needed a punchline and for a change 'Fuck you!' didn't quite seem adequate..)

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Christ I've been busy. Well, not busy at all by most human standards, but then by the standards of one Adwam Kazourkis [as I codenamed him at high-school] who has apparently been kicked out of his room by his parents into a tent in the backyard because he refuses to do any housework I should be dead with a heart attack.

Okay - two young puppies who require supervision when I'm home. Mondays - TAFE all day. Wednesdays - TAFE all day and half the night. Thursdays - working in a library. All day. Friday - TAFE all day. I feel like I've barely got time to type this because I've got about a dozen assignments to print off for tomorrow, at least one to finish and then two to start for next week. And over the weekend I'm going to have to spend a heap of time with the pups. And possibly fixing the chookhouse.

The more I think about it, my ideal lifestyle is living in a completely spartan solitary confinement cell with a nice warm bed, a discman for my DW audios and pen and paper that I can scribble on for a few hours, before telling the guards to forward it to either my blog or a publisher.

I mean, last week I went to a friend's 21st. And THAT was a chore. Not the 21st itself. Nah, that bit's fine - the getting pissed and shouting stupid stuff bit. But the next morning... it's complete rubbish. I should have just walked home. (2 hours? That would have been fine)

WHY is every day after the party the same? Everyone says that they'll be gone by 10 or 11. THAT morning, after they're up. They're sick, but they'll still make it out. They're getting a lift after all. Yet, for some reason, they're unable to remove their arse [figure a] from the seat [figure b]. It took about 2 hours for my mate to get his own room back, and then when we were in there there was about 12 people trying to fit on a couch and all we got to do was watch I am Legend over the space of about 4 fucking hours because there was an interruption every two seconds. One of these involved a fire.

Come 4.30, when I was basically told to piss off by a friend who was meant to be having a good time but was instead getting his patience comprehensively demolished by people being oddly hostile with no provocation, and I was the fourth person to decide to leave. Okay, I decided to leave because I was told to piss off but whatever. Because he'd mention his wares I asked about getting some files off his computer onto my portable harddrive. His response? "I don't have time for that"

My internal censor decided to cut down my response of "Don't have the TIME? You think I have the fucking time to wait for people I don't even know to finish puking their guts up? You think this is my hobby? Standing in the corner of rooms awkwardly while you talk with your parents and other people? You think I actually LIKE Will Smith? Why the FUCK didn't you put on Sweeney Todd? Oh, sorry, I mean putting a cable into a slot on your computer and pressing CTRL+C a few times will take about a hundredth of the time you demanded to take photos on the top of Westfield yesterday, and maybe a thousandth of the time spent staring into empty space in Woolworths! Nice going, jerk. Maybe next time you can find invite the not-quite-legal girls who will demand on awkwardly flirting with me all night and ACTUALLY show me their tits at the end! I might just have an adulterous affair with your girlfriend now, arsehole." I don't even know if I said anything, in fact. (Btw, that's essentially 95% joking)

In short, the entire thing reminded me of why exactly I live as a social hermit whenever I am able and also left me in a debt of time to actually spend on TAFE work and, by extension, this blog, on which I have spent very little time for a while. This, in turn, has left me quite frustrated and bitter over a few things and waiting, seemingly in vain, for things to get a bit better.


Apologies because the title could make you think that I somehow unlocked the greatest secret of the Universe and actually got my TV to show me the wonders of ABC2, but it's actually a case of me forgetting entirely about this golden TV show and only just remembering. I am in the dark as to what will occur at quarter past eleven tomorrow night... save that it will be AWESOME.

It is also worth noting that even the Guide itself decided to completely ignore the ABC2 debut, instead reviewing tomorrow night's 'repeat' as the shows 'debut'. For this, they have shown extreme Fistworthyness.

Unlike the spineless dogs behind today's Letter of the Weak..

All of you should have received an email already from "Hot Potato." Please, please read it and do what it says! It's not trickery or junk mail, it's legit stuff.

If you can't find the e-mail, check your "Junk" box - it may have been filtered and marked as spam.

I also forgot to mention that it would be even GREATER if you could upload a pic for your profile when you sign up, and if possible also use the website/write some articles/comment on something? The more you look like "real people using the website," the more my chances of winning are.

Kasekar Serion

Alright Kasekar, or should I say "Rod", YOU should have received an email today saying that I fully endorse the idea and have also invited some friends from FaceBook. If you happen to be living in a fantasyland because THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Pyramid schemes are the tools of the Nigerian royal family, officially ranked by the United Nations as the WEAKEST human beings on the planet, on average unable to thumb wrestle the smallest breed of guinea pig - AND THAT'S BLOODY SMALL!

I have, however, uploaded a pic. That pic is of your house with a little bit of my own, personal redecoration.


In all seriousness, DTF is such a balm for my soul that I'm hoping it will magically make everything cool again. I'm also hoping that it has a similar effect on a certain spoof-writer of my acquaintance whom I have detected to be in a similar state of disillusionment. Full fist, ABC. Double full fist.

Monday, August 4, 2008

They're alive... THEY'RE ALIVE!!!

If there are any other compulsive ABC-viewers out there, it is entirely possible that you have come to this entry shortly after seeing Andrew Denton interviewing Jose Ramos Horta or, as it can appear if glimpsed briefly, one man making a mockery of the laws of physics by talking to himself 20 years in the future. Dad pointed out that this illusion is shattered near-immediately by the fact that Horta actually has quite a bit more hair, but I reason that in 20 years the cure for male-pattern baldness shall be discovered. Hell, I'm relying on it.

Anyway, the point of this prattlesome jackaknapery, if you have just walked in from this surreal experience, prepare for something EVEN MORE surreal... well, not really but I'm trying to sell it as such... the wonders of poorly-drawn animation.

You may recall my scarcely-visible pixel-art posted along with a declaration of my intent to make an old-skool adventure. Well, this is a continuation of that. In my spare time when I'm in the mood I've been working on animating those lumps of pixels and the results have impressed me if nobody else. I've done quite a few walkcycles now, but shown here in particular are parts of those of Ben Chatham and Duane The Zombie Water, two of the colourful characters to appear in my protogenic master-piece.

Bear in mind, from the way that blogger is acting I get the distinct impression that these aren't actually about to animate at all and thus the entire post will be pointless.... enjoy!

Oh, Christ now I think I've lost them...

Right, now idea at all how this is going to turn out...

EDIT: Oh, for fuck's sake it doesn't work. And Blogger help has nothing but a link to another blog that won't load. Well, isn't THAT helpful? A clue: I kill you all.

Well, take this post as to mean I created some animations and am quite pleased with myself. I'm going to bed and life is too short to waste wrangling with this sort of crap. I mean, hell, it's not as if I just spent about an hour formatting them into shitty .gif format just so that I could post them as an animating file in the first place. All this youngster technology, taking our jobs.. *increasingly incoherent rambling...*

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Kaldor City: A Critical Response Part I

Kaldor City: A Critical Response

Byte I: Occam's Razor


"Paul Darrow >= Chuck Norris"

It seems fairly ironic to me that the opening episode's distinctly pretentious title should be the same as the form of logic that dictates that Kaston Iago is not Avon and that the series, therefore is not really a sequel to B7. This is, of course, because Kaston Iago has a completely different personality and significantly different motivation from Avon, has a different voice, and other biographical differences such as Iago being an expert on robotics (Avon isn't) and having belonged to a guild of assassins.

The Assassin's Guild stuff, more than anything else, destroys the idea that Iago and Avon are one and the same, due to the fact that their attitude to killing is so completely different. When Jenna asks Avon whether he could kill somebody his response is somewhat uncertain. Of course, this is an arguable continuity error because we find out that he killed an unnamed gangster who was supposed to supply him with an exit visa, but the retconning means that Avon is guardedly lying to Jenna. He does, of course, want Jenna on his side but why does he think she will disapprove? Vila acknowledges that they are all travelling with murderers "and they're the nice ones" and Jenna explains that she's dealt with most of them as a smuggler. To make sense of it, it seems logical to assume that Avon considers the murder a dirty little secret of his own.

In Shadow, significantly by a different author, Avon can be read as taking pleasure in a killing when he throws that Federation soldier down a cliff and deadpans "Next please". A moment that seems to have been the deciding factor in the scripting of every single line Iago ever utters throughout the series. Noticeably Paul Darrow doesn't smile when he says it - that tells us that Avon does not enjoy it. It doesn't necessarily tell us that Avon dislikes killing, of course, if anything suggesting that he sees it as a means to an end (which gels with his emotionless dispatchment of three Fed troopers in Harvest of Kairos), a purely functional pursuit. And when he says that line, he's asserting himself as stronger, quicker, and better at killing than anyone the Federation can send at him. They can send the next man. Because it will make no difference to him. That's what Darrow's reading suggests, anyway, and I think that if anybody knows Avon it's him.

Darrow also declared that Iago and Avon are not the same, in his view, which is why he also acts the role entirely differently and takes us back to... Occam's Razor. Checkmate, mofo.

Occam's Razor is as I'm sure everybody on the internet knows a smart-arse way of saying "Simple as that", because the idea it presupposes, that the simplest solution to explain an anomaly is almost always the correct one, ultimately seems quite simple to have such an obtuse title. It is a weighty and portentious title to give the story, and seems utterly inappropriate for the ensuing tale is neither easy to take seriously, nor very logical.

Uvanov finds a dead body of a fellow Boardmember and Firstmaster in his office. Then another one shows up. He goes crawling off immediately to Carnell for help... let's pause again here.

How does Carnell survive in Kaldor City? Why Kaldor, of all places? It becomes a plotpoint later on that Carnell realises that Iago is from off-world because he knows what a psychostrategist is (another point against the Avon theory seeing as he never meets Carnell nor even hears of him) and he 'must be the only person on the planet' to do so. An odd claim to make, seeing as his services are apparently open to whoever has the money and his customer base of Firstmasters do a lot of talking and Carnell constantly asserts himself as a psychostrategist. And the obvious conundrum of why anybody who has no idea what a psychostrategist does should be interested in paying them massive sums of money. Added onto this AGAIN is the fact that Carnell screws over his client base, seemingly for his own amusement. In a city where people are murdered with unfeasible regularity for the most insignificant of transgressions, this really is unbelievable. Then there's the matter of somebody who relies on an ordered existence so much picking one of the most chaotic places in the Universe for a business retreat.

Anyway, Carnell deduces that the murders are without an apparent motive, and the logical step is to investigate newcomers into Kaldor. A quick sweep finds the records on Kaston Iago, whom he know as a newcomer because the cold open featured him booking a room and delivering what was apparently a one-liner but only works if you imagine that this television and not radio. Uvanov immediately decides to set his security attack dogs, Rull and Cotton, onto him. So far, so good.

Iago overpowers Rull with minimal effort, because he called the lift to a lower floor and blasted his fellow officer the instant the doors opened. How exactly he achieved this is not explained, and we are left to assume that it was either psychic powers or he eschewed the luxury of his room for sitting in an armchair by the lift with a gun. He beats Rull senseless and gets him to call of the guards, before breaking into Uvanov's quarters. With a gun, naturally. He then demands that Uvanov makes him his bodyguard.

Are you seeing the flaws in the story's logic here? Uvanov accepts - how about now?

Right after Iago has outwitted the crack personal police force-cum-army of the most powerful man on the planet through unclear means, he screws the firstmaster's personal assistant, and discards her just as quickly, moving on to discovering who the murderer is with as many corny one-liners as possible. It's at this point a cynical person like myself may just suspect that Iago isn't really intended as a continuation of the character of Avon at all, but is in fact a Mary Sue created by a frustrated author, living out his warped fantasies of alpha-male paradise through unbridled sadism and hedonism in a world of clueless rich people willing to pay him large sums of money for no return, oblivious to his genius.

This streak continues as Iago makes the most ridiculous list of expenses possible for Uvanov to pay in order to effectively coat his office building in concrete and put springs in the basement. Okay, not really THAT but just about. I think the excess is supposed to be a piece of humour but, like many of Kaldor's forays, it falls flat, due to the schizophrenic nature of delivery. When Kaldor is serious, it is relentlessly serious, throwing swearwords, dead bodies, and generally 'grittiness' as the term is understood by Terrance Dicks at the audience with all too gay abandon. When it is trying to be funny, the jokes are pieces of strange absurdism and bouths of sketch-show behaviour from established characters which feels like breaking the first, second and third walls, let alone the fourth. The upshot of this is that Kaldor is generally funnier when it's trying to do it straight... in the Stevens/Moore episodes at any rate..

Anyway, the story moves on with Uvanov being called to a meeting of The Boardmembers. Get used to this as it happens a few times in the series and we're meant to take it as some sort of portentous occasion each time. From memory there are four speaking members - a guy to pad out the numbers, Uvanov, Devlin (she dies at the end) and ... LANDERCHILD!

Landerchild is the most boring and pointless character in the series, but is also ever-present. I am at a loss as to what the intention was. He stands in direct opposition to Uvanov and Iago at all times because they are what stands between him and Chairholder status which, in this sorry and rather perverse society amounts to Dictator of the Planet. So, his role is logically that of the villain. But.. he is not villainous. He behaves precisely the same way as everybody else does in the planet. If anything he's less of a bastard as Uvanov - consistently being shown as having a smaller staff and less connections - but it's constantly presented as dramatic when Landerchild comes close to getting his end (which only happens once or twice because he really isn't particularly competent)

To add insult, Landerchild doesn't even seem to have a personality. He is a cliched cipher of a standard upper-class snob*, yelling insults at Iago the moment that he realises that he isn't a well-born noble. And that's all that exists to his personality. It's as if the fact that he was played by the brilliant Peter Miles meant that nothing more had to be added to the character, but the result is that Miles glides through on auto-pilot, adding to the sheer, relentlessly dull-nature of all things Landerchild. I think the name is the only thing about him that I actually like.

Anyway, Iago gets full authority to investigate the killer. His method of doing so is going to a party where all the Firstmasters will be gathered, because obviously the next murder will occur in a place where the highest possible number of witnesses will be gathered together. (I'm being disingenuous here - there was probably a threatening letter or something in the story...) And Iago will just have to wait until somebody dies. Not prevent it, obviously, do you realise which series this is? Beforehand, though, he cleverly asks Carnell who will be killed. Carnell suggests two possible people, and going by the voting record, whoever is killed will suggest who the killer is...

And stop here. This is a little odd, is it not? A big chunk of the plot revolves around Carnell struggling to find patterns for the murders. Wouldn't one clue be that they're all Firstmasters, so this could be some sort of working-class uprising against the massively corrupt and massively stupid bastards governing the state? It certainly doesn't stretch my suspension of disbelief. And also the fact that Carnell is basing this all off voting records. There could be so many possible other motives for the killings..

So, yes, back to Iago at the party when somebody dies. A somebody who I don't think ever got any lines, but whomsoever it is it is the candidate that suggests that Devlin is responsible for the murders. Naturally, because this entire story is written with a very unimaginative and supremely stupid end-point in mind there is no consideration to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, our 'heroes' have been monitored during any of the dozens of conversations that they've had about this plan and the murder of Faceless Character #43 is a deliberate red herring to get them to assume that Devlin is the murderer and thus trap them. Although Kaldor plots are convoluted, they are also oddly narrow-minded in their convolutions, frustratingly avoiding something that could be potentially interesting at many, many turns. This could be part of Alan Stevens' goal, as this is afterall meant to be a series about manipulators being manipulated (insofar as it is about anything.. this shall be addressed later..) but I think I am giving him too much credit for lacklustre storytelling by even voicing the possibility.

So, progressing with what's left of the plot... as soon as whoever was killed is killed Rull and Cotton gatecrash Devlin's mansion in an APC and kill her entire security force. While Iago breaks into her house and shoots her in her bed. Now, you may think that this would have some repercussions, but in Kaldor City it does not. In fact, I was extremely confused at the fact that the city doesn't seem to have any police at all, let alone any semblence of law. And then small matters like, for instance, a spate of murders of Firstmasters in the city, which ends with Uvanov's goons killing a Firstmaster in a very public way. They've only got Uvanov and Carnell's word that Devlin is the murderer!

And then for the shock twist ending. She wasn't the murderer. Taa-daa. It was Iago.

There is, I'm sure, dramatic irony in spirit here seeing as Iago was the original suspect who Carnell guessed at, but the problem is that the lack of a personality or presence to Devlin does rather rule out the idea of her being the murderer and the simple fact that there was never reason to doubt that Iago was the killer.

Iago's reasons are explained... he wanted a job. To do this he created the illusion of a conspiracy against Uvanov and the Firstmasters by murdering completely random people and dumping a body or two in Uvanon's headquarters. He and Carnell do not know one another, and Carnell is the only psychostrategist on the planet - so how could Iago know that anybody would pick the pieces? How did he know the pyschostrategist would not find out that he himself was the killer? How, for Heaven's sake, could he know that nobody would be a witness to him commiting any of these half-dozen-odd murders? How did he know that Uvanova would take him on as a ridiculously over-paid bodyguard at the end of it all anyway? The plan is astonishingly ill-thought-out, overcomplicated and risky. Just like all those plans Avon shot down in B7.

Occam's Razor.

As Carnell says in the close of the story "Of course, what you see as the most obvious, may not be the same as I do"**

Couldn't put it better myself.

*When I say 'standard upper-class snob' I by no means imply that he behaves like the standard upper-class snob you would meet in everyday life. Rather the standard upper-class snob as portrayed in poorly-characterised fiction (c.f. Rixton in The Voyage of the Damned), which means that he's really a mentally mal-developed, spiteful, obsessive-compulsive, socially-retarded man who reaches near sociopathic levels in his fascist elitism. This character appears with worrying regularity as a trope. Did Joachim Von Ribbentrop have a lot of kids?

**Or words to that effect. Kinda liking these footnotes.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Don't mention Doctor Who...

..I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.

It's interesting to note* that in the early days of this blog I liked to keep it broad, by referring to an interest in "British sci-fi" in the tagline. I seem to recall it in such a way as to suggest that this place was a forum for the discussion of such. That tagline is no longer there, replaced by a simple pun on 'nerd'** which is far more truthful. Because observant people will note that one this blog I do NOT discuss Captain Scarlet, Quatermass, Survivors, Bugs, Red Dwarf***, UFO, Sapphire & Steel, Judge Dredd, Moonbase 3, Star Cops, Space 1999, Doomwatch, The Tomorrow People, The Tripods, nor even Bounty Hamster.

Casually looking at my post figures I see that I've devoted 1 post to Ashes to Ashes (arguably no more than it deserves..), 2 to Kaldor City (I think one-and-a-half more properly..), 5 to Lord of the Rings (It sort counts...), 5 to Doktor Cube (Hehe), 4 to Blakes 7 and 1 to Sharpe. Yes, I know what you're thinking - I've talked about Sharpe way more than that. And also it isn't anything near a sci-fi when Nigel Kneale isn't writing it.

Have I missed anything? Hmmm... oh, yes! 57 posts about Doctor Who. Yes, that's what this blog is about. I may as well admit it. I'm a bit of a fan. I have a couple of DVDs, it's true. I might, on occassion, endeavour to see an episode months before it airs in this country. I may, by freak chance, spot a continuity error with regards to a story made forty years ago which was last seen warming Michael Grade's fireplace.****

I was reminded of this all again yesterday, when I received The Infinity Doctors, Grave Matter, Corpse Marker and Time's Champion in the mail. Yes, all on the same day. Note, I'm also so infected with fandom that I assume you know that those are all spin-off books.

Ocassionally I like to try and remedy this by posting something entirely unrelated to Doctor Who... like DOKTOR CUBE!

What's that? "Please please please please don't post it, you bastard?" I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!

Lightning flashed across the 32% red marble layered granite blocks,
striking at the darkness and illuminating the TWO armies of TWO clones
racing across the bridges two face the Doktor, and upon TWO's command,
destroy him. However, whilst TWO's army would have the advantage
against the greatly outnumbered Doktor Cube, it being their dimension
with their vision in fully accelerated visionTWO.0, the Doktor was in
possession of his CUBE vision, which allowed him to gain the
upper-lower ground. As the armies raced closer, the Dr said to TWO one
last thing… "Prepare yourself… I imagine ONE day, ONE will find you,
and that day will be your last." And with that the Doktor launched
himself at a 249 degree angle off the red marble layered granite roof
of the temple into a horizontal spin and let loose a barrage of 7.65mm
train-salvage AK ammunition, within effect creating a wall of death
against which the first two hundred and twenty two TWO clones were
mown down, the first casualties of TWO's own personal war. After the
next twenty-four were defeated whilst the Doktor had to replace his
clip, another four-hundred and ninety seven TWO clones were destroyed
by the 420 degrees farre height super-heated shrapnel flying from the
newly AK-created groove, which formed the beginnings of a trench. The
Doktor leapt feet first into the groove, and in mid-air changed back
from his hell raiser armour into his uranium-titanium polymer trench
coat which absorbed the heat and converted it into a shield against
enemy intrusion of the newly brandished TWO-created AK-TWO-FORTY-TWOS
by the front line TWO clones. As momentum from the leap transferred
through the Doktor into the groove itself and was sent flying, he let
loose another barrage of AK-47 ammunition in the general direction he
was travelling along the trench, with a variation of 6.451% to 6.450%
lack of deadly CUBE.0 accuracy. The velocity more than enough to win
over the kickback from the AK, the Doktor continued digging his way
along the trench underneath the TWO army, the clones vaporising upon
his irradiated shield. After hitting the side of the temple the Doktor
flew off the side. Thinking at a speed faster than that of
8455867337268777284887 the Dr fired off 47 rounds off his AK into the
purple shaded horizon, the resulting kickback mixed with the force of
his einsteinium/uranium boots smashing breaking through the side of
the temple roof being enough to push him back against the temple wall.
Another 16 shots allowed the Doktor to manoeuvre his angle to run
along the solid granite temple wall and fight against TWO supported
gravitational forces by running along the temple at a downwards
diagonal angle. The ground not visible below through the mist, even to
the Doktor's CUBE vision, the Doktor fired his AK at a chosen point
approximately 700.27572699739 meters ahead on his current course. By
the time the Doktor had slid down to the point the hole was large
enough to latch onto and swing into. Now safe for the moment, though
as the Doktor knew, NOBODY was ever safe… ESPECIALLY TWO. He only had
to crouch for 3,428 milliseconds before a literal army of TWO's raced
down past the hole in the ancient pyramid, travelling TWO fast to halt
their pursuit. As the Doktor was pondering his next move, another wave
of trans-dimensional destructive energy his him, and once again the
fabric of the reality was shattered then rebuilt into something
completely different… this time a silver lined conference room with a
stretch desk with twenty extremely comfortable looking mal-titanium
nitrate product chairs. Nineteen were empty.. . "Doktor, don't be
alarmed… if that's possible… take a seat. I don't believe we've been
introduced. I'm a bad-ass black mutha." A bad-ass black mutha sat in
the occupied seat "By the way, my name is 8-BALL." As Doktor CUBE sat
down at the opposite end of the table, he noted 8-BALL polishing a
large rifle, on the side of which his CUBE vision picked up "AK-NXT".
All around the table were strewn assorted other weapon designs some of
which were already polished. The Dr also noticed that 8-BALL had
bandaged hands, obviously from jacking cars in Italy and selling them
at prices multiplied to the power of ten in Afghanistan, and
eventually the order of Hashishim was resurrected for one last
assignment, to destroy 8-BALL, after disposing of the Hashishim 8-BALL
cut his hands through using them as short range target practice using
his SAM (surface to air missile) equipped shotguns, one of the other
weapons lying on the table. "So, Doktor…" producing a joint and a
titanium/einsteinium lighter, "you want some of this shit? I've got so
much, but with my hands like this, you know, fires a hazard, and I
only set myself on fire on duty. The Doktor suddenly got suspicious…
"Titanium/einsteinium lighter… where the hell did you get that?"
"What's that nigga? I'm so BAD!" "Don't fuck with me." "OK, I procured
the materials at a place called U.R.GAY.IN.L.A." "Hmmm. Very well. I
know the place." "What? No shit nigga, me too." "As you were saying…"
"Damn straight, yo, this is my secret weapons base with a
transportation reality fragmentation device. I run the joint, no one
else knows about it, no one else needs to. Except maybe you. WE WILL
SEE…" "Yes, yes we will. So where is here?" "We are still in TWO's own
personal hell. I came here when you did, and he tried to recruit me. I
said no, he tried to banish me, I said "Man what the fuck?" and
escaped, and built this place underground, where I have every range of
individualised weapons, explosives and a transportation reality
fragmentation device customised to my own personal standards. Also you
don't get this shit no where else." "So why did you bring me here?"
"Why not?" "So why did you bring ME here?" "To offer you a deal. TWO
pisses me of somethin BAD! I built a full schematic probability
building device, and I know a fair bit about his pad. You go on a few
assignments, do a few jobs for me, and I pay you in
techno-bling, big fuck off shiny ones, I pay you in…" "What?" "Guns…
lots of guns." "We have reached an agreement here." "Sweet mutha! Oh
yeah, and you got full usage of my transport reality fragmentation
service, just say YO, 8-BALL, WASSUP?" "What's my first assignment?"
"Your going to hack in to TWO's computer system and place a Trojan
file, this will allow me to see into their system. You'll have to do
it from one of the pyramids, so they can't trace us here, and I'll
have to transport you a short distance from the temple so they don't
detect your approach too far into their sensor net. Oh, and you'll
have to cover your tracks so they will have some SIRIUS SHIT to attend
to figuring out what we did, yo. I don't have anything small enough to
destroy only one computer terminal, so, uh, just take out the entire
pyramid and surrounding landscape." "What's stopping us from doing
that three times?" "Give me a minute. Anyway, your gear for this
assignment is two AK-modifications, an RPG launcher and a warp core."
"What is the function of the warp core." "Beats me man, but it just
SMOKES, yo, damn nigga, that's CRAZY talkin!" "Excellent." "Your have
two possible drop co-ordinates for transportation, the first is from
the ground. You will have to approach through the bad ass wilderness
yo, and stay down underneath the sensor net till you reach the Mayan
temple's outer security wall. You blow a hole in the wall with
whatever you can piece together en route and destroy EVERYTHING on
your path to the inner wall, after that the schematics are kind of
sketchy at best, I drew them on with a pencil. The second drop zone is
400 ft up in the air." "I'll take the air." "DAMN! Ok, you'll have
radio communication the whole time yo, except inside the pyramid."
"Parachute?" "Non-applicable, dig?" "Excellent, then my plan is
flawless." 8-BALL slid the mods across the table along with a 7x7 inch
stack of explosive tip AK ammunition each containing 6 RPG's for the
launcher. "You ready?" "Ready or not TWO," and with a click of his AK,
"Here I come."

To re-iterate my friend wrote all of these. I do not want to be identified with them, even though I post them to fill out my blog from time to time.

I also need more sleep.

*Or, more specifically, not interesting at all.
**Could be replaced by "Dweeb Crossing 0 miles" or something similar in the near future
***Seriously, have a look!
****Oop, my finger slipped. Sorry about that.