Monday, June 30, 2008

Lordy me: I am SO shallow but the hair just makes me go *thud*

Oh my: I really shouldn't be so shallow but really, good hair just makes me go weak.

I know, I know: this is not lost on me when the man I truly love has had all his hair pulled out from the stress of living with me, but even so [scroll for photo].

It shames me to admit it but I am shallow to the core. Maybe if I keep looking at the pictures I will overcome my response?


Nope. Seems that doesn't work.

The thought of Primeval coming back for a third series with this hair style....

Gah... I'm already hyperventilating.

Hat tip for the link at the Dougie fan site, and yes, I do love his acting talents, but my word... *thud*

[Isn't there some net phrasing for fanning oneself?

I said fanning, as in trying to cool down... listen more closely people!]

Weekend Review: Lowdham and Lichfield

If it's the end of June, it must be Lowdham Book festival: our third visit following our first in 2006 and then last year (2007). It's been going much longer than that but hey we were late arrivals.

There was less water than last year (the cricket field no longer resembled a lake) and there were no sandbags in the streets. But nicely we did get a second encounter with the lovely Creme de la Crime crew including the delightful Maureen Carter. Maureen was understandably excited that her fifth Bev Morriss novel - due out August - had some preview copies out for sale. So I was well happy to fill out my shelves by picking up books 3 and 4 - Baby Love and Hard Time respectively - (to add to last year's Working Girls [book 1] and Dead Old [book 2]), and obviously to get Bad Press [book 5] a little earlier than the shops. I was also pretty chuffed to get a follow-up to Roz Southey's Broken Harmony (Chords and Discords), another mystery fiction with a healthy dollop of historical musical knowledge thrown in. With a couple of books selected at a bargain price, I walked off with 6 books. Way-hey! That's my non-existent summer weeks off sorted then -- darn, I will have to start reading at lunchtime again!

Anyway, Maureen was especially lovely - we even had a little hug after our chat - and it all felt great. I even felt good about my splurge (I only bought one second hand book - a copy of Le Guin's Earthsea Quartet as I had been trying to get a single volume copy for some time) as Cloud managed to turn up with 10 books.

Yes, that is 17 between us.

We are addicted to books. And no, we apparently can't handle it...

After Lowdham we drove through Southwell, past the glorious Minster and the Museum of the British Horological Society (Cloud jested - in honour of Tim Vine - that we didn't have time to stop there), and on to Newark for a wander around the streets of Newark and the castle and a visit to our nearest [aka not very bloody near at all] Waitrose. Then it was back home for Doctor Who --- on which note, see previous post. La-la, head in the sand, I'm not listening, I'm denying every and all speculation, I will be reading your reviews of that ep after watching the finale and then I will give you my considered opinion.

So don't come chucking your thoughts this way yet: come back after lunch next Sunday by when I should have watched the finale at least once.

So to Sunday: and Lichfield Jazz and Blues festival. It was a lot busier than last year, but just as much fun. Good music, great company and - apart from a couple of showers that sent me scurrying indoors - the chance to sit outside and scoff food listening to good music.

As they say, nice.

Out of bounds, off-limits, going "la-la-la" with my fingers in my ears

Or 'eyes' as I nearly typed then.

Hmm. Let us recap on things. I know I am slightly hysterical about Doctor Who. Heck, this isn't exactly a news flash to anyone reading here (and if it is, dudes, HELLO!)

How do you remain 'unaware', 'unspoilered' in this over-expressive age of interweb communication?! Is it possible? Desirable? Reasonable?

Thing is that I had - somehow, don't ask - managed to even avoid seeing any more trailers of this past weekend ep. (Putting it in context, I was actually almost cross with myself for having caught and then watched the MID-season trailer, so you may guess I was wanting to try and not look at or read about the finale trailers that started up after "Turn Left").

So far, so good.

But I am so torn. I want to find out more. I want to... hell, I want to just find a way of getting through Saturday evening without being too distracted to enjoy myself. Because it's the hen night of one of the people I love most dearly in the world and I want to be 100% attentive to enjoying it and supporting her - even though she (generally) hates hen nights, and I probably hate them just as much. [We actually agreed that a cuppa tea and cake night in would do both us much nicer!] And even though I know it will be lovely and I want and know I will be there supporting her and hoping that the organisers have been sensitive enough to her personality and likes/dislikes there is part of me that I know will be thinking "oh God, what is happening in Doctor Who?!"

And then there are the factors I WON'T be able to control. Like whether anyone else there will have watched it and comment on it during the evening. SHUT UP!!! LA-LA-LA FINGERS IN MY EARS AND TRYING NOT TO LISTEN!!!!

It is making my head hurt just thinking about how I have to (a) not think about Doctor Who during the evening and (b) how I WILL have to be attentive to not inadvertently hear something I don't want to ahead of piling in at about 11-midnight and rushing for the iPlayer.

Such silly issues are what occupy my mind at the moment!

So forgive any absence this week, or weird blogs about non-DW related issues. I'm diverting myself. Because after Saturday I am craving to find out what comes next. And hoping that the reassurance offered to Em (who was apparently "inconsolable" at the end of Saturday's episode) is born out somehow to some good resolution...

Here's to us all! See you on the other side.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When are YOU going to see Hamlet and/or Love's Labours Lost at the RSC?

Come on you lot: let's get a schedule of when we're all off to see Mr Tennant strut his onstage stuff.

Dates people please. Then we can work out an expectation schedule for squees and reviews and general excitement as the dates arrive!

Last night's jokes

Had a fun night out with Cloud and a friend watching a comedy night with Ivan Brackenbury (hospital radio DJ - aka Tom Binns) doing a practice run for Edinburgh, followed by Tim Vine doing a practice run for his forthcoming DVD filmed set.

My sides hurt a bit from chuckling but it almost made up for missing out on the following possible gig night (which helpfully Cloud emailed me about today before realising it had happened during our comedy night out!). Chances missed eh?! And they sound so good!

These United States & Vandaveer.
These United States
“It is, without being at all overly enthusiastic, one of the best records you will hear this year, and it will make you feel completely human. You’ll feel your fingernails grow. You’ll start to understand what all of your facial muscles do when they’re not smiling or frowning. You’ll taste that blood as it finds all of your many cracks and detours.” DAYTROTTER

"This generation's Nick Drake." -- XM CAFE "Very dark and beautifully grim. It’s like the Decemberists with a Tom-Waits-by-streetlight feel, and just a hint of Andrew Bird in the vocals.” -- YOU AIN'T NO PICASSO

Music that strives to capture the same emotions as a Herzog film, a Bacon painting or a Sarah Kane play. Stark, brutal and thrillingly honest portrayals of the intensities of existence. Fans of Low, Silver Mt.Zion, English folk and Wilderness should enjoy this...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Loosen London's grip on TV - a slight problem withe Guardian's advert

Anyone else seen the Guardian's advert with pact on loosening London's grip on TV? It seems to be campaigning for something. For filming to be more representative of the UK, I think.


Have you seen the advert picture?

It's from a sequence of filming Doctor Who.

Fine. That's done (mostly) in Wales, yeah? So, that's another part of the UK, right? What could be the problem with the campaign?

Let me just say they chose to illustrate New Who filming 'other than in London' with a sequence from 'The Fires of Pompeii'.

A street scene from 'The Fires of Pompeii'.... (check out the Photo Story feature showing on-set filming).

Now technically what the advert asks is "To truly reflect life in the UK, shouldn't more programmes be made elsewhere?" but I think that the 'elsewhere' in this image they selected is a little further afield than they intended.

If you thought last year's squee after the end of 'Utopia' was loud.... A "Turn Left" review of Doctor Who

... Fuck me.

Sorry. That wasn't a request. Just, wow. I mean... what...!!!!???

Okay.... for those who have to wait, get you behind the lines.

I'm going to give you space to get away.

Ya gone yet?

Two Words. Don't read them unless you have seen the episode.

Bad Wolf.

Seriously, how much did you lose it then? Watching Tennant's reaction of complete and horrified agony and delight combined, didn't you just dig your fingers into your palms? Didn't you just yelp?

I'm rather fond of Stuart Ian Burns' reviews for Behind the Sofa, not least because even in the moments when others were at the height of their hysterical mocking of the new series (and I mean that as both critical and yet still hilariously funny), SIB stuck with expressing his pure delight with what the series was doing back on our screens for a new generation.

SIB's comments on last night's episode were glorious: prefaced with a recollection from his past of a chance not taken, it was an appropriate structure to introduce a review of this particular episode.
Then I watched …

Doctor Who: Turn Left

… or more specifically the climax, and my brain exploded.

Oh yes, as soon as Donna said those two magic words, I began shouting, ‘Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah! Bad Wolf! Bad Wolf!’ You know that video of those two girls on the couch during the reappearance of the Master last year that turned up on You Tube?* That was me. I shouted so hard, I actually began to get chest pains, and believe that if I hadn’t calmed down in time for the trailer, through which I mostly just tittered, there might have been a puddle of something which rhymes with squee on the floor. I don’t remember being this excited during the old series when I was a child. Not even when Tom turned to Peter or it was revealed that Bertie Bassett was a wrongen after all.

In other words, don’t expect anything much from me on the subject of this episode, no great insights or moments of inspiration. The critical parts of my opinion organ are currently splattered all over the cushions and beginning to smell. At this point if I was asked to review the new Coldplay album, I’d probably give it five stars, write ‘well cool’ underneath and eat another chocolate chip cookie. Excitement makes me want to snack it seems. I’m listening to a Pussycat Dolls cd as I write, for goodness sake.

Helen Lisette was on the phone as the credits rolled off screen, shrieking "FUCKING HELL!!!" Poor Chrissie is stuck away from the TV but I can well imagine her reaction will be pretty similar.

So what of the episode as a whole? Well, MediumRob praised its darkness and I have to say that was something I really liked about it too. Brilliant as well when you think how Rusty's reported tone for the series was that it would be lighter. Heck, you would almost think he deliberately fibs to us about the direction of things just to mess with our heads? What's that you say? Hmmm...

Whether you loved Rose, were ambivalent about her, or felt that by Doomsday it had been time for her to move on, this was her proper return episode. Yet it was actually much more about Donna, and what a showcase for her to recap the more airhead shouty figure of The Runaway Bride as well as eventually move back towards being the figure she turned into when travelling with the Doctor.

There were some beautiful cross-references - ahead of the motherload of all crossovers for the finale - and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. It's a pity that there were a few oddly placed notes in the episode (not sure that it's fair to credit the Doctor with defeating the Master since that was heavily dependant on Martha I seem to recall - SEE UPDATE BELOW), and the labour camps scene was a tad heavy handed even though Cribbins played a blinder in that. The beetle too was a bit 'meh' - the Metebilis spiders were way more freaky. Minor quibbles. There was too much happening and too many wonderful moments of acting to really care -- and the ending was just a brilliant moment. Cloister bell? I shrieked.

I'm keeping a moderate profile over the coming weeks as we move to the finale, not least because I will be OUT ON THE NIGHT OF THE FINALE.


But life goes on. Just maybe not for much longer for heroic Donna.

UPDATE (Monday 23 June): Doh, my bad as I realised at 4am this morning. The reference to the Doctor saving the world from the Master came in the Confidential, not the episode. Which makes sense as obviously there was no trip to Utopia with Martha etc etc....

* In case you have forgotten...

TMINE birthday - 3 years of Medium Rob

Awh, Medium Rob's The Medium is not Enough has been entertaining me - and many others judging even by the thank you list he put together - for quite some time. His site has just celebrated it's 3rd birthday! I'm not sure I can currently recall how I found him (I think it was maybe Anna? Or Marie?) but one thing is for sure, he and the site are great.

Make him one of your daily visits: because he's always witty and frequently one the money with his opinions.

Happy Birthday for next year and for the future!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gig Review: Broken Records and The Twilight Sad (Bodega Social, Nottingham) 18 June 2008

Let us deal with the night overall. Shite day at the office. Had heard Twilight Sad on Marc Riley doing a session and quite liked them. Thought we would take a punt on seeing them live. Got tickets on the door.

First support: man with guitar (that's not his act's name). Pleasant enough but.... yawn, there are a ton of these guys about and there wasn't much to identify him as standing out. Apologies.

Second support: Broken Records from Edinburgh... oh my GOD. I'm coming back to these guys in a moment.

Main act - The Twilight Sad: they're a FatCat band with a wall of sound and noise. Not at all bad.


Dude - Mr Lead Singer: take a recommendation.

Stop watching 'Control' on repeat.

You are NOT Ian Curtis.

You were born AFTER Ian Curtis died for heaven's sake.

Rolling your eyes and feeling/conveying a sense of fear and loathing of being on stage may well be 'true' for you but it comes across as a performance and it sure detracts from the music.

And that's a real shame because you may say you are "just a little band from Glasgow" but you have energy in bundles in the music.

Sort the 'tude, and you could go much further!

ANYWAY: to Broken Records.

Hellfire: these guys were the highlight! I knew we were onto a winner when they came on stage - cello, electric violin, trumpet, accordian, ukelele, and SEVEN of them on the tiny stage. Brilliant.

And they totally lived up to it. Arcade Fire come back to Scotland (from whence many Canadians originated!), Broken Records had truly mastered the art of the crescendo. Pounding, melancholic, churning music. Just glorious!

This gives a flavour, but seeing them on a cramped small stage was just incredible!

Update: And a good dose of Waterboys influence as well - hey, so far it's all good by my accounts!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Postgraduates - what is REALLY the issue?

Following Alderman's rage this morning about grade inflation, this afternoon we get an anonymous academic from a "leading UK university" commenting that international students with limited English are being awarded postgraduate degrees.

Now here's the thing.

In all the coverage of this afternoon's story especially, there has been far more focus on the headline of 'students having insufficient English language skills' than there has been on the reasons why these students are at UK universities in the first place. More detailed reading of the BBC story gets some of this across but you would be hard pushed to pinpoint that the problem lay elsewhere than at the students' doors.
More than 60% of higher degree students are now from outside the UK.

Overseas students have been seen as a lucrative source of revenue - with the Higher Education Policy Institute calculating payments to universities of almost £1.5bn per year in fees plus £2.2bn in living costs.
I'm not denying the quality of education available in this country, nor the desirable aditional reasons why people may come to the UK (I'm pro-immigration). But the thing is that universities have caught themselves on a never-ending hook of needing to recruit and make money.

I'm almost inclined to say this is not the student's fault - they have, in all honesty, come to another country to obtain a qualification. This is surely made in good faith - 'you recruited me, so I must be up to the task'.* Many, but by no means all, are funded by their governments and/or with high expectations from their families for them to achieve. Universities can - and must - justify their recruitment policies by either being far more rigorous in checking language skills in advance or they must be prepared to support students through the consequences: provision of proper language support to get them up to speed once they arrive.

The latter is - just - feasible for undergraduates; for postgraduates, I'm not sure it is or should be. There simply is not time to acquire the level of language skills necessary AND for them to adjust to the acquisition of subject knowledge.

I'd have been happier with something that put the headline on university recruitment - with some limited emphasis with what tutors are expected to do in terms of assessments once the poor students are in through the door. The headlines we actually got instead seemed to see the students coming here as the problem, rather than the universities' own policies and procedures. Because the people at the sharp end - the tutors faced with the students in the class - cannot be pushed into the firing line on this: they're merely following what they are demanded to do. I even have sympathy with those staff who get lumbered with recruitment posts (they often don't stick around for long - you may travel the globe but you never get to see any of it and you have to toe and maintain the party line regardless. It's a soulless task.) What drives them are the targets, the expectations to keep bumping the income stream, to maintain that international profile at all costs. In the end of course, all this will inevitably backfire, especially as 'anonymous' stories like this one come forward. Pity the poor students...

* Oh, that this were even just restricted to the recruitment of international students..

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alice in Sunderland

Cloud has just finished reading the magnificent Brian Talbot's Alice in Sunderland - a real treat of graphic work. It's visually stunning, smart, self-referential, playful, intelligent and full of details from all manner of literary and cultural history.

For a brilliantly original review see this by a Geordie.

Midnight in the air: a Doctor Who review


I really didn't know much about this episode - from what I can gather it was pretty guarded - but what little I had gathered was that it was a scary one (let's overlook I had completely gotten the schedule wrapped around my neck, thinking that this week's was the Doctor-Lite episode when it was actually the Donna-Lite episode and the tone for Midnight was anything BUT Lite...)


It started off slowly - a trip on a space cruiser (aka a boat or plane or bus) - and I really did grit my teeth a little at the characters as they were initially presented, but on reflection that was entirely the point. Because this was all about what happens once the 'action' kicks off.

We've had words as weapons before - not least in The Shakespeare Code - but here was something a little different: language as the manifestation of action, a manifestation of action, a manifestation of horror.

I'm torn about how much of this tale to give away, but suffice to say - as the Confidential made clear - this episode belonged to the sound crew as a feat of magnificent TV. That's not to say that visually (for example) this wasn't darn fine -- I've read some criticism of the planet visuals, but I thought it looked stunning. But to make this episode work it was all about the sound, the words, the delivery of language. And the management of all this on-set, and afterwards with the sound teams.

Which brings me to the actors - Tennant's Doctor does a wonderful job of conveying how easily the Doctor's actions and specifically what he says can get him into as much trouble as it does (often) get him out of it. This is an occasion where not only can he NOT talk himself out of trouble - in so many ways - but where the very act of talking is what reinforces the trouble.

Lesley Sharp also makes a fantastic contribution to the episode as Sky Silvestry: initially a rather distant and disengaged character as compared to the freneticism of the Cane family, she ultimately turns in a performance that is utterly compelling, delivering her lines with wonderfully channelled energy - nervous, frightened, blank, rising in edginess to supreme confidence. And mention should also be made for the stomach churning characterisation that Lindsey Coulson brings to the vile Val Cane: the final line of that character made me gasp in despair because it is so bleak.

Repetition has never been so damn scary.

RTD OBE - it's almost a shame he'll probably undo all the good done in this script in his series finale. I don't feel alone in identifying RTD's stand-alone episodes as amongst his best - is there any possibility that Moffat will bring RTD in to write the occasional episode under his leadership?

It was a lot weekend...

Back from staying with my pal HL for the weekend and I've just enjoyed the 45 minute Dr Who Confidential on the iPlayer.

We had a fabulous weekend of wine and food and conversation and mucho DVD watching.

  • Primeval S2 'making of' documentary "Through the Anomaly" (loved the pool playing btw!)
  • Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords (S3 finale)
  • Casanova - all three episodes (sob!)
  • the ending of 3.10 to Yuma (the Crowe and Bale version)
  • and the final hour or so of LA Confidential (from when Exley tells Vincennes about Rollo Tomasi)
  • Selected poems from Daisy Godwin's Essential Poems to fall in love with (featuring Douglas Henshall)
  • a good proportion of If Only
  • the final third of Lawless Heart (Tim's version of the narrative)
  • American Gangster - which I had missed at the flicks but which I really enjoyed
  • episodes 1-3 of Takin' Over the Asylum
  • Doctor Who - Midnight (on the telly: more on which separately!)
  • selected scenes from Orphans
  • selected scenes and the ending from Gladiator
  • ending on the Doctor Who episodes The Shakespeare Code and Family of Blood
Today I got dropped off at home listening to Pest Control - the Doctor Who audio story with a hilarious and accurate portrayal of Donna's vocal intonations by David Tennant.

I think I have slightly square eyes now, but hell, it's only once a year we get the chance so it's wild indulgence for us to talk without Neil or anyone else interrupting! 'Course when I get in pretty much the first thing Neil does is josh "by the way, you had a message, and he's sorry he missed you...". Cue rolling eyes and groans. Oh Neil you are SO funny...

Nice to be home again though. Here's to next year!

PS would have watched some of This Year's Love but the bloody DVD player wasn't playing ball...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Online friends

You know what, I don't care what people say about online contacts not being 'real' friends. For sure, you may not see them (often, ever) but then the same could be said of several friends I initially made IRL (in real life).

So to those of you whom I have come to know through the interweb, thank you for your comments, your kindness, the laughter and support provided.

And Poly, this includes you. It's heartwarming sometimes to think of the friendships shown through blogging and other online contacts.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Confession - I have fallen for a totally cheesy tune

Oh Lordy help me. It must be listening to 6Music that did it. I have to blame someone.

I'm completely hooked on the track "Two Doors Down" by Mystery Jets. It's complete 80s pop reworked for 2008 cheese, with added saxophone cheese. It makes no sense (the first line says he's in love with "the girl next door"; the song then proceeds to go on about, as the title says, being in love with the girl "two doors down"). It is silliness of the highest order. And the video just reinforces this ridiculous 80s excess. It is bonkers.

But, there is something artlessly charming about the song's character being rather reticent and nervy about approaching this rather cool, drum playing girl. And the invocation of Television's "Marquee Moon" has to be worth something, right?

I know, trying too hard. It's nonsense but I'm hooked.

Save me!

PS Far too embarrassed to cross-post this to Music is Our Hot, Hot Sex!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Acoustic versions: a lively debate!

Had to point you to Anna's zippy comments box and her link to Fuzzboy's original post.

Go read!

Spoilers, sweetie, spoilers... Forest of the Dead - a Doctor Who review

Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers.

Never was the sentiment of a TV drama serial more aptly highlighted.

So if you're not inclined to find out what was going on in Forest of the Dead - Moffat's glorious conclusion to Silence in the Library - then I suggest you look away now.

Go on. Put down the blue TARDIS book.

Do not open its pages.

Keep your eyes closed.

Don't read the websites. Do not even think of visiting forums.

And stay out of the shadows.

Done that?

Sure you're wanting to find out more?

Well, I'm still going to try and keep it vague. Hey, bless 'em, that's even - to some extent - what they do on the show.

I've just rewatched Forest of the Dead, along with the Cut Down Confidential (on which note, I know there are all the copyright issues and all that, but really the full length versions are so far superior with their excerpts from the classic Who days etc that I really am more and more disappointed each time I see a Cut Down version for what younger viewers are missing on the DVDs. It is just so nice to have the context, the cross references, the additional nuances and history. And by all accounts younger viewers are pursuing the older stories on DVD so is it really just down to the legalities why we have to miss out on the full-length Confidentials on DVD?)


Here's what I thought.

I thought it was lovely. Gorgeous. Visually amazing (completely helped in that by gorgeous Swansea Library btw along with some sterling lighting work: top marks to the lighting crew), with some breathtaking effects and some very nice old skool imagery -- come on, the skeleton zombies in spacesuits were pretty cool in that regard.

I liked the invisible-ness of the 'villain' - the Vashta Nerada, the dust in sunbeams, the shadows [not every shadow, but any shadow]. Did it/they give the Doctor his one day to evacuate the people and then leave them to their 'forest', the books? We'll take that one as unresolved (or as Cloud said 'they fell out the script' -- ouch!)


That's almost beside's the point since what really made this episode work for me was the emotions it portrayed. It was truly emotional in all the right ways. I'm writing this without reading the reviews - hell, I hardly even read last episode's reviews - so I'm not going to bother too much about how other people felt about the emotions. I hope they were as engaged and touched by it as I was, but I suspect some have been feeling too anticipatory of the Return of the Rose to 'feel' the way I did for these characters. If that turns out to be true, that's a shame because I really liked how the close ensemble cast made us care for the crew in the Library, and for CAL and for the Doctor Moon and for Lee McAvoy. Tate as Donna gets some wonderful opportunities to show her acting chops through both episodes - particularly with Miss Evangelista, but also the ebb and flow of Donna's sense that not all is well in her world of marriage and children [and btw I thought the tricksiness of using televisual techniques to show the unrealness of that world was really great, highlighting the arbitrary way in which we accept and fill in the blanks of TV narrative].

And then there was Professor River Song.

Dear god, what a character. What a marvellous portrayal. Alex Kingston hasn't always been well served by all her roles but she usually brings a hefty amount of gumption and verve and sheer sexiness to her work and this was no exception. But more than that she also brought heart.

From the get go -- "hello sweetie"; "Pretty boy" -- her affection for the Doctor was beautifully conveyed. The moment last week when she looks at him with eyes afresh and notes "how young" he looks ("I'm really not" the poor Doctor replies) and then begins to realise that this isn't quite her Doctor, the Doctor she called on, the Doctor she knows... the sorrow Kingston captures in her eyes is heart-breaking.

When I watched it last night (Saturday), you didn't have to be a great mind to anticipate that the sparkiness of how the Doctor and River Song bickered and debated and generally interacted was not unlike the manner of ... well, we all know those relationships where you spar and bounce ideas and spark and tense and get tart and ...

Even so, when River Song gets to that point where she knows she has to say something - to provide a 'spoiler' - in order to convey to the Doctor why she trusts him but also how she has a sonic screwdriver (with 51st century, square gun skills [hiya Captain Jack!] and dampers and everything)...

Last night, I sat and clutched a blanket as a cushion to me and as she leaned towards him I murmured aloud "she knows his name".

When David Tennant is allowed to act, often the quiet moments when a thought crosses his mind, when an emotion rises up, then he really shows what he is capable of.* When River Song asks him after her whisper "Are we good?" and the Doctor finally manages a response, it is a soundless, perfect, choking "yes" with eyes that are dark and still and horrified. It makes me choke just thinking of the scene.

And he does it again, though in a totally different mode, when he is grinning with joy at CAL as he inputs River Song's sonic screwdriver into the hard drive: the best save he could make. Makes me hold my breath to think of that moment.

There's plenty in between of course - there is always something, at least one moment of dazzling wonder per episode, it's just that this time around we get several of these moments for him.

And not just him. Anita, Proper Dave, Other Dave, Mr Lux - all get their chance to shine. Eve Newton as CAL/The Girl is a wide-eyed joy: her delight in watching the Doctor hanging and escaping along the library 'bridge', her hiding behind the cushion and shrieking at the scary bits, her horror when she - at the flick of a button - rids herself of daddy and Doctor Moon are wonderfully conveyed.

Did everything about this episode work flawlessly? Of course not: Murray Gold did get carried away as he too often does (especially when Donna finds her children gone: dude, way with the overdoing an already rather overwrought scene). And as mentioned the 'demise' of the Vashta Nerada was left a little too hanging. What DOES happen to the library? Additionally, Cloud was more than a little heart-broken that Donna did not get to be reunited with stammering Lee McAvoy (it was hard for us to not empathise with the agonising slowness that meant he could not quite call out in time to Donna). But these are small matters to me -- they may not be to you of course, but my heart was already swept away to the future possibilities of life with the Doctor and River Song, with him already aware of what comes next in her life (especially that last time when he turns up and gives her the sonic screwdriver). **Sigh** Gosh darn, they had - will have - one helluva relationship to come won't they? Handcuffs...**

So, overall, a top pair of episodes. I've really enjoyed this series. It isn't hard when it's this good. Tate has more than proved herself worthy in both quiet and louder moments (it's been reassuring that those I really expected dire reviews from have largely been won over and even those who remain unconvinced overall have nevertheless stayed with the programme and enjoyed/complimented her far more than I could have anticipated). It's a grand pity that there is something on Donna's back that doesn't bode well for why River Song gives her the look that pitied even as it admired.

It's the 'Doctor-lite' ep next week, and then the 3-ep finale I think. Hold your breath folks, there'll be a lot of Rose-fandom squeeing at the top of their lungs.

*It's a thing I love in a lot of acting performances. I'll just pick a few here but I could choose many more. It comes when Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential is asked by Guy Pearce why he became a cop and he half chokes as he replies "I don't remember"; it comes when David Morrissey in Holding On is in the travel agency and suddenly all his morality falls away as he is attracted to the assistant there; it comes frequently for Ken Stott when he catches his breath in the heat of a flash and burn scene of tension as his character's humanity tugs at his heart-strings. And it comes with a frequency that is a good part of the reason why I love for Douglas Henshall and David Tennant.

**People, and you know who you are, what was with the text messages on that matter?! For shame, what DO you think of me?!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Price of Doing Business with Amazon

Gah, I feel bad about how often I do use them (which is not that often since I love browsing which is not something that online shopping lends itself to anyway), but I'm certainly going to try and minimize use till they get shamed for this business (via Clare - here and here).

Look, Amazon, it's a market thing if you're that way inclined. If you don't support and let smaller (and no so smaller) publishers such as Hachette Livre etc get a decent piece of pie, they go out of business. Books do not get published. You (Amazon) lose out as you have a more limited range to sell from. And you are pissing off READERS: people who buy books from you.

How is that sensible?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hamlet at the RSC - sold out? selling out?

Okay, I don't get this. About 4-6 weeks ago a friend phoned up the RSC direct and was told there were NO TICKETS AT ALL LEFT FOR ANY PERFORMANCES for Hamlet at the RSC Stratford.

Now Outpost Gallifrey's news seems to think it is merely 'selling out' (as in not sold out yet).


And Tennant at least, according to his turn on Jonathan Ross this weekend, seems pretty sure about doing the London transfer rather than 'pencilled' as the news piece suggests.

I'm just confused.

And still vividly recalling Susan Hill's whisper that Tennant was doing Hamlet at the RSC a good while ahead of the news filtering out and then being announced. Could she perhaps confirm the certainty of tickets and/or the transfer?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Afterthoughts on 'the Library'

Criminal, I tell you, it's criminal. Missing such a superb piece of drama for this year's New Faces/Opportunity Knocks. WTF? I'm sorry, I just do not get talent shows; never have, never will. Apologies to all who are addicted to them. At least the AI ratings show those who did watch DW appreciated the effort.

And before anyone asks why I may not be around their online place this week, I'm trying to stay as spoiler and prediction free as is possible in this interweb world we live in. I ADORED the Moffat episode; it made me feel everything from fear to sadness, admiration to longing - and yes, there were still a few good laughs in it, as dark as it was (anyone else distracted by noticing the Doctor's sculptured hair? I haven't kept tabs on the shooting order but I'm inclined to bet this was in the same block as Planet of the Ood.).

I want to be as up for seeing part 2 as is feasible. I've even barred friends from speculating with me: I will duck opening DWM until after the episode airs and I will even then avoid reading the preview puffery pieces the mag does for the remaining episodes. In fact it is quite plausible I will buy the mag and hide it in my teenager bedroom until after the end of the season.

Did I say I enjoyed Saturday's episode?

And oh yeah: someone PLEASE tell me they haven't actually demolished the gorgeous Swansea library where this was filmed? It's a library! Let it be a library again! With, you know, BOOKS. I swear that the term 'Resource Centre' brings me out in hives.