Friday, April 30, 2010

How many captions?: that debate picture of the hopping and hopeful politicians

Hard to know who looks sillier: the politicians or the audience for thinking these 'Prime-ministerial candidates debates' have any real meaning.

For the millionth time people, we do NOT have a US presidential election system. We do not vote for parties as such but rather for the election of the local representative of a particular party. To be perfectly honest the LDs could come a close second to the winning party in terms of the popular vote but this won't translate into a proportional allocation of seats because that isn't how the UK General Election system currently works. Unfair? Quite probably, but all parties would have to agree to some significantly impacting changes to the electoral system to see a real change in the political dynamics created by the 'First past the post' system. Vested interests etc will make such a change very difficult to implement.

Is it about making a protest then? Is that what this current election is about, given that Labour have alienated many of their core voters over their recent years in office? Should we be voting for what we believe in rather than 'least worst' options or pragmatic selection based on how the votes will actually count? (and what we could end up with representing us at a local level)

I don't know. All I know is that I don't feel able in all truth to allow my vote to even indirectly elect a Conservative MP for our area. Councils are another matter because councillors work on a much more direct local representation basis (although our current Labour MP is very good at engaging with the local community in terms of informing constituents and dealing with their queries, large and small, national and local issues).


This picture is still ripe for captioning as Norm so rightly notes.

Belated notice: MS awareness week 26 April-2 May

Thanks to Swiss Toni for the reminder, and apologies that I am late in acknowledging that it is MS awareness week at the moment.

Become aware, find out more, be engaged with the debates and representation of MS.

Everyone deserves "The Right to a Full Life".

Monday, April 26, 2010

Doctor Who review: on why 'The Time of Angels' needs to be watched again in the dark...

Scary wasn't it?

On one level I was grateful for the light outside the hotel window streaming in (HLW and I were getting a night away for silly conversations even if we got no further than a classy 4-star hotel in Nottingham city centre). But this should so have been airing in the autumn / winter... Curtains drawn, heating on, darkness outside...

Oh well. Balmy spring it is.

Won't stop me pulling this story out come the autumn when I can snuggle under the flicker of artificial light and the darkness of external streets peeping through the closed curtains.

So, anyway. River Song is back: with her 'meeting the Doctors out of sequence'; with her lack of foreknowledge about what Ten, and thus Eleven, know about her future ("spoilers")[1]; with her great bloody dress and shoes; with her 'prison' history; with her brilliant fending of Amy's questions on behalf of us[2]: it is indeed far more complicated than the simple answer.


Things I loved:

  • the 'sweetie' boxed message crossing 12,000 years
  • the explanation of the infamous 'voorp, vroop' noise that the TARDIS makes as it wheezily lands (and Eleven's impression!)
  • the Church as military
  • the realisation about the two-headed residents had single-headed statues... uh-oh...
  • what an image of an angel can become... [someone has been watching 'Ringu'!]
  • Amy's post-Angel encounter hallucinations: freaky FREAKY!
  • Scared/sacred Bob
  • River Song's Christian Louboutin shoes (ably spotted by HLW within split seconds. And I thought I was the one who liked shoes...)

As usual:
Telegraph - Gavin Fuller
Behind the Sofa: Stuart Ian Burns
Behind the Sofa: Frank Collins
Behind the Sofa -> Two Minute Time Lord Podcast: Neil Perryman

[1] Stuart Ian Burns nails this:

When he [the Doctor] re-greets River we see the implications in his eyes, it’s as though Tenth is still in there somewhere looking out and remembering her fate and knowing that for all the history of his future she has literally in her hand, he sees her final end each time he looks at her but mustn’t offer any spoilers.
Just a beautiful description.

[2] Again, SIB nails it when he describes Moffat "effectively turn[ing] Pond into a sort of walking Gallifrey Base, voicing our ideas of who River Song is..."

Friday, April 23, 2010

On reading books (inspired by Norm)

Norm has an interesting post about his own personal approach to book reading, taking as his leaping off point the comments of a couple of writers on their own approaches to writing/rewriting.

Norm writes:
For my own part, nothing on earth would succeed in sending me back to a book I'd written some while ago, to amend, rewrite, add and excise. Of course, Elizabeth is talking about a novel - not the kind of writing I've ever done, I'm sorry to say. But how unsettling it would be to have to think oneself back into a whole set of questions, assumptions, arguments; to correct and improve, but at the same time preserve what's there in its general shape. Too hard. I prefer to move on to something different.
For those who do write 'non-fiction', the situation can be more problematic than perhaps Norm's example suggest. For the academic scholar, especially those doing PhDs and moving into academic publishing, there may be considerable need for and expectation of rewriting. This is not least because a PhD can very rarely be easily turned into a book because they are so often written for such very different audiences.

Although Norm was using the example of Elizabeth Baines revising her earlier published first novel for a new edition (an act that to me suggests a new text completely is being produced, albeit under the same name*), the 'rewriting' (and re-evaluation) process that Norm describes as being "so hard" is - perhaps unwittingly - happening anyway in his work. Certainly it is common in academia to take an article and expand/amend it into a book chapter, or vice versa. Maybe Norm has never done this, but this may make him fairly unique in academic writing.

For authors, especially non-fiction authors are frequently 'rewriting'. But this happens in the sense that authors will frequently write on variations of a series of connected ideas and issues. After all, they usually have gathered some level of expertise on a subject, even if they are veritable polymaths. Thus, taken as a collective whole, one could argue that Norm himself has across his various publications rewritten, refined, corrected and improved, and questioned his assumptions as he comes unfresh to each piece of writing. Because writing is a cumulative experience, one where we never write 'fresh' but from everything we have written and read prior to that seemingly 'new' publication.

Interestingly, these processes of re-writing that Norm so fiercely rejects I think find an echo in his resistance towards narratives that do not clearly and quickly set our their stall.

Possibly this derives from Norm's strong engagement with academic writing, where the sort of clarity required for following an argument is necessary. Perhaps building on his sense of not revisiting the writing process for his own works there is also a sense of completion and certainty in narrative that has transferred into his reading of fiction.

Of course, ultimately there are as many ways of reading and writing, of approaching what we want from a narrative and producing narrative structures, as there are writers and readers.

And possibly that is as it should be.

* the issue of 'new editions' of fiction always puzzles me especially where these texts are changed. I can understand publishing a manuscript/first version of a text. Perhaps what Baines is trying to capture is more of a 'Director's Cut' version, as used so often in movies, where things that got lost in the editorial process are restored. But this further raises questions about whether these changes should ever be restored. And does it remder it the same text as it was, or a different text entirely.

Theatre Reviews: Monday 19 April 2010 - Enron @ Noel Coward Theatre, London / Thursday 22 April 2010 - Arthur and George @ Nottingham Playhouse

Enron @ Noel Coward, London (due to transfer to Broadway April 2010, but continuing with a new cast in London til 14 August 2010)

I've briefly indicated that we enjoyed Enron in my summary of our London visit.

It was certainly a treat to see such a fabulous cast and such an intriguing play. Sam West, Tom Goodman-Hill, Tim Piggott-Smith all lived up to their star billing, but in such a macho play (and the narrative is inevitably all about the macho, even if it is shown up to be disastrously destructive) it was also pleasing to see how Amanda Drew stood her ground.

Of particular note though was how wonderfully the whole thing was put together, from writing to directing to staging. Making a musical - well, it has several musical numbers and plenty of song and dancing! - out of this excessively macho narrative takes a real visionary sense of how to interpret and portray the ludicrous duplicity and optimism of the central figures. Lucy Prebble has done an incredible job of making complex economic jiggery-pokery into a comprehensible tale.

This isn't a production with a sympathetic character as its focal point however; all the central figures involved are pretty loathsome, their actions myopic, manipulative and ultimately careless of human life. The 'raptors' may be given literal form on stage, but the real monsters are the human beings who thought they could control the markets.

Boy, did they ever get proved wrong. And more to the point, how the hell did their example not ring alarm bells earlier for the rest of the financial system?

Arthur and George @ Nottingham Playhouse til 8 May 2010

Photo by Tristram Kenton

In its own way, Arthur and George is equally inventive at taking an existing narrative and bringing it to the stage (in this case, both a real life connection and more specifically Julian Barnes' reimagining of the tale).

David Edgar's adaptation I suspect works better for those less familiar with Barnes' book; the form of a novel - especially this novel - enables a more elliptical telling of the coming together of the characters' narratives. By virtue of needing to create a comprehensible narrative, the play inevitably foregrounds and shows what the novel controls and masks - not least the racial identity of George.

Nevertheless, the play does work its own stage magic to provide a degree of interwoven storylines, with characters located on the rotating stage carrying on their own overlapping dialogue, with furniture moving almost constantly, with characters facing each other, the audience, absent figures. The play also makes a virtue of its small cast by highlighting the understandable degree of paranoia George ends up internalising in his dealings with social racism (actors who have played earlier central characters who treated him so badly reappear towards the end in the guise of the great and good, but echoing earlier dialogue of cruelty and dismissiveness).

The cast are very good with Adrian Lukis offering a great turn as Arthur and Chris Nayak as the myopic George. Additionally, Kirsty Hoiles and Anneika Rose offer excellent supporting roles as Jean Leckie (Arthur's second wife) and George's sister Maud respectively. As a portrait of the casual nature of early 20th century racism, of the problems of innocence and guilt, it is well worth catching - especially if you are less familiar with the source novel.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

London pictures April 2010 Part Two

Neil in Sam Johnson's library

Garden Architecture as seen from SJ's house


Near Ely Place

St Etheldreda's Catholic Church

Ye Old Mitre Pub

Inside the old Prudential building

Rullsenberg in colour

Lincoln's Inn Fields

View across Lincoln's Inn Fields

Cloudy Neil and Rullsenberg

London Pictures April 2010 Part One

All bar the first few shots are from the tail end of the London trip - the first contrail after the volcano gives a clue that most date from Tuesday 20 April onwards!

Weekend on the Southbank

Neil in finery

Lisa at the BFI Southbank. Stripes with stripes.

The first contrail since before we left for London

Neil looks to the sky

Lisa at Somerset House

Down in Somerset House for the Bill Fontana soundscape artwork

Across to the Eye with a London bus in view

Temple Church

Temple Church

Inner Temple - as seen on TV and film

St Dunstan in the West

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

London in the spring: Friday 16th to Tuesday 20th April 2010

Been away. You may have guessed this, but given my erratic blogging, possibly not!

Anyway, we had a spiffy few days in London, marred only by my being rather unwell on Monday 19th (I'm unsure whether to blame the curry or the chill I caught sat in the BFI - the latter being ironic given that our first visit there had proven insufferably hot - a screening of the Lancaster classic 'The Killers').

Pizza Paradiso - of course, topped off with a glass of limoncello each on the house. Well, we were the last in there and they know us well after all these years.

A good walk round the block, picking up the tube back to the hotel and watching late night TV.

Awake at ridiculous o'clock so we hit out for an early breakfast at Bar Brunos. We were so early even after finishing eating that staff were still breaking into Forbidden Planet so we headed round the block back to the tube to head to Marylebone. Visited Alfie's and marvelled at the prices for retro chic before wandering into Marylebone itself and into Daunts. Of course.

Stopped off for a half of much needed cider before getting the tube to Angel / Islington (no chuckling at the back there) and Neil walking me through the delights of Camden Passage where 1930s dresses were dazzling my eyes. Of course, all the ones I really loved (especially in Annie's) were at the higher end of the price range (though I noticed not as high as Alfie's prices were. Hmmm). Interstingly, we noticed when we dropped by Anthropologie - a shop I had nearly bought things from in Santa Monica where dresses were selling at approx $60 - that prices there made the one-off's of Annie's look VERY good value. £188 for a chain produced dress versus £180 for an original 1930s dress. Which do YOU think I would have gone for if I had been actually buying something...?!

On Saturday we also headed to the South Bank where we picked up the tickets for a screening of Butch Cassidy for the Sunday at the BFI.

We had a stop-off for Doctor Who which was... well, fun but on the could-do-better scale. Never mind.

A meal at Ristorante Cappuccetto near Cambridge Circus was a fine end to the day, with us ordering 3 mains between the two of us (well, I don't really count gnocchi with gorgonzola as a main, more of a side dish really) and a salad. I think the staff thought us mad, but we polished off the whole lot with ease.

A nice walk and then back to the hotel for more late TV.

If it's Sunday in London, it's Spitalfields, S&M (and a very cheery waiter) and lots of wishing I lived nearer to this treat. Still, I saw my favourite designer Nina (of Enienay) and found some nice goodies for myself and Neil. Sadly my brain was possibly already frying as I completely forgot to use the visit to buy presents for people. Which just confirms the 'if it doesn't beep on my fone reminders, I will forget' syndrome I suffer from. Grr and apologies.

We then head to the South Bank to meet Poly (hello!!!) and have some very nice cheeses and chips before the film. The film of course was great, full of those sparkling one-liners for which Goldman so well-deserved his plaudits.

We regroup ourselves and head back to Brick Lane and have a very nice curry and then a long walk back via the City, Bank of England, Fleet Street and Covent Garden.

Did I say that London has been bright and beautiful for the whole trip? And no contrails either. Good job we weren't flying anywhere. We start the day late and head to Whitechapel for a visit to Freedom Press. Nice to support independent political bookshops. We then head back to town to grab a sandwich at Brunos before taking in a trip to the NPG for their Glastonbury and the Format Photography mini-shows (I rather like their one-room shows). We have a big night ahead, so while Neil visits Hausmanns I rest up reading my Doctor Who mag at the hotel, recuperating for the evening's visit to the theatre.

We have tickets for Enron which is fabulous, even if the characters are all unrepentant shits. There was a surprising number of bankers in the audience (go figure) but the performances and staging were wonderful - even if Neil was left somewhat traumatised by the unexpected sight of Sam West's moobs.

Breakfast at Brunos, moderately early and the staff are in fine form of chatty friendliness. We then go for a walk and wander to lots of new places. We see the first contrails of our stay, visit the sound sculpture of Bill Fontana at Somerset House (brilliantly evocative) and stand in the sun looking across the river. We stroll through the old bit of King's College (masked from the Strand side by its awful 20th century concrete frontage) - and I also note now that they have recently taken over some of Somerset House itself. We then head through to Inner Temple and Temple Church. I feel like I'm walking through Rumpole, Law and Order UK, Judge John Deed territory. We then wander into St Dunstan in the West with the giant clock strikers and then on to Sam Johnson's house (a great place to see!) and a further wander through the back streets towards Ely Place and St Etheldreda's Catholic church. We stop off for a drink at Ye Olde Mitre pub before we find ourselves in Hatton Gardens in jewelry territory and I amazingly find myself drawn to the a gorgeous Art Deco Sapphire and diamond ring. It is of course the most expensive of all the hundreds on display at a rocking £14,800. Cripes. (I can't find the item online of course, but trust me: it was beautiful)

We then set off wandering off through Lincoln's Inn Fields and marvel at the lush greenery and architecture of barrister land. We drop in for a quick visit to the oddity that is Freemason's Hall and finally head back to Pizza Paradiso for a final meal before collecting our bags and heading for the train.

I'll try and add pictures and links soon.

Have the bullets finished flying yet? Looking back on Episode 3 of the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who (Spoilers, obviously)

You kinda knew from a very specific point in the episode that this would be one that would draw out the nay-sayers. That the forums would be full of raging Doctor Who fans grinding their teeth. Their under-10 year old children, mind, would probably be looking forward to their next shopping trip.

Yes, this was Moffat rescinds his statements about merchandising big style.

This was the Doctor and his amazing technicolour Daleks. They come in red and yellow and orange and white and blue and...

Ya see what I mean?

Anyway. Much ink in press and online has already been expended on this, probably missing the point that quite a lot of people seemed to enjoy it. Yes, I'd have liked both the Doctor and Amy to have had more to do; yes, Churchill reminded me of the dog than the PM; yes, the shoe-horning of personal distress amongst the war-room staff was pointless. BUT...

I did like the Doctor getting cross even if it went on too long mind with the attack on the servile Daleks (though "would you like some tea?" was very amusing). I also really like this rip-in-time arc (reset button: fine by me). The technicolour dreamcoat Daleks felt like a roll-the-eyes advert but they do look shiny. And you have to love a stand-off using a Jammy Dodger biscuit.

The issue for me was that it all felt far too forgettable, or rather unmemorable. I enjoyed but rather like a take-away meal its impact had dissipated by the time it was over. If this was originally a 2-part story, it felt butchered - stretched in parts, rushed in others. But I'd happily watch it again, mostly because I didn't even want to kill the production team after the Manhattan affair. Smith still works as a professorial crotchety doctor, but this was the first time I really missed pretty Mr Tennant.

MediumRob with the great line about 'Collectibles of the Daleks'
Marie - and some interesting comments too (Chris Wild almost exemplifying the stance of the fan who would give up watching the series they love for being 'rubbish')
Frank Collins at Behind the Sofa - complete with bemoaning the big bottomed new Daleks...
... as does Neil Perryman also at BTS
... and Stuart Ian Burns adds his thoughts and excitement from BTS
Rev/Views delights in the episode, proving that as I say, this was no the utter disaster some have attributed it as being

Friday, April 16, 2010

Air pollution: just because you cannot see it...

What was that numpty on the news on about last night?

Some bloke actually declared that he could not see why the planes were grounded because "it's fine down here".

Guess what brainiac? You're not flying at bloody ground level!

Weather news on the Icelandic volcano and its aftermath...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oh to be a sartorialist!

Cloud has just sent me the link to 'The Sartorialist' blog. Oh my WORD! What fabulous outfits!

Apologies for blogging little this week: work is manic and I'm still trying to squeeze in some breaks....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two for Two: initial thoughts on 'The Beast Below'

Space whale vomit covered Doctor and Amy: very entertaining.

Good wasn't it? 'The Beast Below', that difficult 'setting out your stall' second episode of a Who series -- if we accept the RTD model -- had thrills, visual excitement, references back and a gun-toting Queen Liz.

What is not to love?!

Amy is proving duly fiesty (though that is a horribly over-used words for female companions with kick-ass curiosity) and the visuals for the series certainly seem much sharper than they have been of late - brighter, darker, just altogether more of everything [does anyone know if they've changed how they're filming? it really DOES look different...]

I'll expand this post soon (still recuperating from BAAS voice-drop, aka drinking too late and talking too much and ending up sounding like Orsen Welles). I'll try, as per the season opener, to give you some idea of the reaction elsewhere and my thoughts for what is to come. In the meantime, here is a taster of the somewhat more divergent responses to episode two.

Guardian blog

Medium Rob

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Things to note: Elections, BAAS and Friends

Election: god I want to hit things already. Look, the country is NOT broken, NI increases will NOT mean lost jobs, and the LIberal Democrats could promise the moon on a stick - they're STILL NOT going to be in power (at the very best, and it all depends on the vagaries of our voting system, they will have some roll to play to prop up whichever ailing government elected by a minority gets in). Am heartily sick of the slanging matches. I'll be voting Labour, okay. We have a good local MP who is responsive and fair - Nick Palmer - and I would like him back representing us come the day after the election. We're a straight Labour v Conservative seat at the national elections and there are a lot of small parties standing: not good. So I'm not going to faff about 'protest voting'. There are plenty of things I'm not wild about in terms of current policy, but ancestors died for my right to vote and I will use it as I see fit.

BAAS: away in Norwich for the next few days. This means I miss the next episode of Burn Notice on Fiver, the next Red John episode of The Mentalist on Five, AND 'The Beast Below' (aka the next great episode of the Moff-era of Doctor Who). Boo bloody hiss and thank heavens for catch-up TV. However, on the upside I hopefully will enjoy socialising with colleagues and listening to some fancy academic speak for 4 days. Woo!

Friends in need: I owe Helen L for her lovely gift of a new iPod cover, I owe George and Sonia a LONG overdue box of goodies, and I owe my precious friend Chrissie my endless affection for keeping in touch despite things being tough.

I'll get on the case on my return, honest.

Love ya guys.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Random Song Selection - Teach Me, Sweetheart: The Fiery Furnaces

This song has been haunting me for months - hell, for years it has been intermittently on my music radar (I even found mention of it over at George's place from September 2006!)

The Fiery Furnaces: Teach me, sweetheart (from the album Bitter Tea)

Then I rediscovered the track last year, alerted the lovely Chrissie to it, and promptly found it was lodged in my brain on a recurring loop.

The song has strange properties: it sounds like a fairy-tale (hmm, where have I heard that sentiment over the last few days?!) dominated throughout by visions of the in-laws as more than human. There are loops of sound, electronically twisted, garbled, but their distortion is magical rather than terrifying (or, rather, it is scary but in the way that travelling with the Doctor is scary).

The rhythm of the song changes dramatically several times, moving from jarring to melodic and back again, swirling sounds that you cannot quite musically pinpoint to an instrument.

Anyway, the track's back bugging me again and I know what that means.
Come away
Teach me, sweetheart
Come on past
Brave young batchelors
I'm alone
Teach me, sweetheart

My mother in law was standing by the stove
Hissing like a snake, hissing like a snake
Hissing like a snake
She gave orders to spill my blood
She gave orders
To spill my blood, i thought

I thought, i thought, and i thought some more

Come away
Teach me sweetheart
Come on past
Brave young bachelors
I'm alone
Teach me, sweetheart

My father in law was lying on his bed
Growling like a dog, growling like a dog
Growling like a dog
He gave orders to spill my blood; he gave orders
To spill my blood, i thought

I thought, i thought, and i thought some more

Come away
Teach me sweetheart
Come on past
Brave young bachelors
I'm alone
Teach me, sweetheart

My sister in law was sitting on her stoop
Crawing like a crow, crawing like a crow
Crawing like a crow
She gave orders to spill my blood
She gave orders
To spill my blood, i thought

and i thought some more

My brother in law is leaning on the love-seat
Tapping with his tail, tapping with his tail
Purring like a cat
He gave orders to spill my blood
He gave orders
To spill my blood, i thought

A nice description of me: how have you been described?

I'm nowhere near as good at online communication as I should be and my typing skills in messenger are notoriously flawed - as is my inability to remember emoticons accurately. So it was rather wonderful to be described by an online friend as

"You're lovably (and amusingly) haphazard"

For some reason that has just made my day!

Given that I have been in the past described as 'a woman who knows her own mind' (this wasn't intended as a compliment but I was rather pleased with it!), this isn't the first time I've had a rather quirky description ascribed to me.

(One student memorably identified me by gesturing as if going up three flights of stairs before adding 'stripy legs!')

What's the weirdest description you've ever had of yourself that nevertheless pleased you?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The morning after the night before: the Moff-era started here




I'm deliberately writing this before I start engaging with the online responses. I could be wildly out of synch with everyone else, or merely another voice yelling in the wilderness of bloggery.

I don't care.

From a simple and totally unscientific poll of my three key contacts - Neil, who sat on the sofa beside me; and Helen and Chrissie who exchanged texts with me in the aftermath - I think I can safely say this.

We liked it.

Sure, we won't stop loving Ten (or Tennant for that matter) and there was an inevitable piquancy to feeling his absence at certain moments (because there was still a lot of Ten in there), but... my word, those mighty shoes that Ten left behind... Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and Steven Moffat: bravo. You did it.

I'll tell you how out of the loop I had managed to keep myself: I didn't even click how long the episode was. Sure, I had seen it started 6.20pm. And I saw that Confidential wasn't due to start till 7.25pm on BBC3. But somehow I had only processed this as 'hmm... shame they couldn't start the Confidential straight after'. Doh.

The time flew by. It never felt over-long -- and let's face it, there were occasions when RTD had the longer time slot and couldn't quite make it pay with dividends. (Not always: sometimes he nailed it and made the extra few minutes up to and over the hour slot feel perfect in length)

From this point, there may well be spoilers.

You have been warned.





So: what was there to love? Well, there was Caitlin Blackwood, a child who almost convinced me that SHE should have been the companion over luscious Karen Gillan. (And the behind the scenes shots of her working with the crew and Matt Smith were just glorious). I know it was predictable, but I still felt the agony of knowledge to see Amelia sat in her hat and coat on her suitcase in the dark night and feel her disappointment.

There was a suitably everyday scary thing: the trademark of the Moff (well, they are always at the very least everyday to the period they are set in anyway: gasmask; clock, statues, shadows) -- in this case the crack in the wall.

There were funny bits (parents must be dreading requests for custard and fish fingers), there were scary bits (voices coming out wrong - always scary) and there were magical bits (the delayed entry into the new TARDIS with its glowing was possibly just too nicely done to make the first sight pay off enough --- but the new console? Wonderful)

Oh, and there was the inevitable nerdgasm - a little obvious perhaps but still neatly done - of the past monsters and Doctors.

The 'coming soon' trailer was too long, but I'll forgive them that. It's going to be a long year anyway (again, something else that I had been trying to keep myself away from, but which now feels like a proper return to childhood structures).

And Matt Smith? Yeah. He has it. The doughy whey-faced boy came good with that squiffy hair and his buried eyes. it's true, he LOOKS alien and I mean that in a totally good way. He isn't fanciable to me at least - but hey, if he sails your boat, go for it - but what he definitely is is appropriately weird. The boy professor with alien unawareness of what he looks like and how he functions but with a surety of actions that will carry him far across time and space.

Doctor Who. Welcome back.

Review links


Stuart Ian Burns at Behind the Sofa
Frank Collins at Behind the Sofa
Tom Dickinson at Behind the Sofa
Neil Perryman at Behind the Sofa

and, finally, The Daily Mail (spit), only on the ground that they have a lengthier review article mentioning lots of the other reviews. Oh well. The Mail has to have its uses somehow I guess.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

6:20pm BST April 3rd 2010: not counting at all

I tried to make myself NOT do this, but here I am counting down the minutes and pleading with the lovely Neil to cook tea tonight.


Because I really do have an inner geek that isn't that far beneath my surface.

A geek who is ridiculously excited at the prospect of ANOTHER series of Doctor Who.

A geek who has her copy of DWM - a regular fixture in this house for quite some time now - and who can't bear to read anything on the pages about the new series until she has at least seen episode one in an effort to keep herself as unspoilered as is feasible in this modern age.

Neil and I were just talking about our past joint Who experiences: sitting on the bed in our second rented house in Wolverhampton (the first was a hole of supremely damp student exploitation conditions) and positively squeeing with delight at the 1996 TV Movie. Yes, I know, it is also deeply flawed, but we still delighted in it. By the time the 2005 series started, we were utterly primed and were suitably 'NOOOOO!' about the Graham Norton voiceover screwup on first episode 'Rose'. The pair of us sat there grinning like goons throughout the episode, cheesy bits and everything. Eccleston was a quality lead to balance the series' inherent entertainment values.

And then they made Casanova the Tenth Doctor and all hell broke loose.

The Doctor had been many things over the years, but as Caitlin Moran declared, this was the first Time Phwoard. Bless. Poor David wasn't always best served by the material, but there remained much that was glorious about his incarnation.

What I have found so interesting is that as the series hit such heights of popularity - and for its lead actor as well - an astonishing number of people found an impetus to release their inner geek, reacquainting themselves with the 1963-1989 episodes.

Now, as the series reboots/stays the same in a different way (like The Fall - 'always different, yet always the same'), we can move on from the underlying urge to murmur 'holy heck of hotness' and refocus on the series in a different way, perhaps more akin to those pre-Ten days.

For all kinds of reasons - because when it was good, it was very, VERY good; because David Tennant can make even the most ridiculous of stories present at least one beautiful, funny, moving, scary emotional moment; and because, hell, he was already undeniably on the 'oh-oh, another hot Scottish actor' list for me - the Tenth Doctor will have a special place in my heart forever. He displaced Tom Baker as the top Doctor for me though because there was something brilliant and compelling about this incarnation.

And now we have the young alien form of Matt Smith - not feasibly fanciable (not to this mid-40-something anyway), but suitably curious and weird. And with the Moff at the helm, we can't help but be excited. Heck, the transfer to the Moff-years was even enough to tempt Tennant himself to waver in his decision to move on from the 'best job in the world'.

Will series fnarg/1/5/31 be good? Well, I hate to come across as someone who has no critical faculties, but I know I will let it be good. I will enjoy it because I want to - and this time will be able to brush off all those dismissive commentators who declared that current viewers were only watching for the geek loveliness that was David Tennant. Because the series has been there, on and off, throughout my life in one form or another. If not even RTD at his most destructive could drive me away from the programme, then neither will the terrifyingly young new Doctor/companion pairing.

It's gonna be the ride of a lifetime. Geronimo!