Archive for the ‘Tardis-jockey’ Category

Torchwood quality shocker!

August 16th, 2009 by Reinder

For the first two seasons, Torchwood was my favorite bad series: it sucked, but I still enjoyed watching it because Eve Myles and her Welsh accent are super sexyof the ambition on display and the interesting ways in which it failed.

Not this year. The 5-hour miniseries Torchwood: Children of Earth is really good, tense, bleak, well-performed and very compelling to watch. I watched the first episode last night and had to watch the rest of it today. Fantastic stuff, well worth spending five hours on.

And the kicker? Russell T. Davies wrote it. The man never ceases to amaze me. He's capable of both awesome and awful stuff. This time around, he delivered the goods, with great, compassionate characterisation and tight plotting.

Steampunk Dalek

November 6th, 2007 by Reinder

Steampunk Dalek
Concept sketch on DeviantArt by creatoooorrrr Promus-kaa, who has lots of lovely other designs as well, like the Steampunk Cyberman, the somewhat superfluous WW II nazi Dalek and the Art Deco Dalek.

Last of the Time Lords

July 1st, 2007 by Reinder

See The Sound of Drums.

Edit: No, on second thought, don't. I'm watching Confidential now, because I'm such a nerd, and seeing those scenes again, even as the actors and crew are working on them, puts a knot in my stomach from the sheer stupidity of it all. It's an embarrassment. The fact that I was watching the episode on Sunday morning with, if not an actual hangover, enough alcohol residues in my system to take the edge off me a bit, allowed me to let it wash over me just the one time, but the moment the brain gets engaged at all, it rejects what I've just been watching as utter shite. I'd just as soon have another shot at watching the Sixth Doctor storyline Mark of the Rani as look at this again.

Confidential made me realise another thing. People made this. Actual actors and directors and camera crew and set designers and whatever else spent weeks of their lives making this. The actors and director in particular spent a lot of time in tone meetings and read-throughs and rehearsals with the producer and script editor and other powerful people in a position to stop this, and none of them said "Russell, love, this is shit." David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, John Simm, Adjoa Andoh, no matter how good your acting performances were, you are as much to blame for this as Russel T. Davies is. The other day I watched a documentary about Tom Baker's final season, because I'm such a nerd. And I'll tell you this: Tom Baker wouldn't have stood for this. He'd have gone on strike, gone to the pub one lunchtime and not come back until he'd had a completely revised script that didn't suck. And then he'd have done the next filming session completely hammered, just to discourage the writers from ever pulling that shit again. There's something to be said for difficult actors.

But apart from that, surely there was someone on set, maybe a humble key grip or best boy or whatever those people down the credits list do, who could have thought, hey, I get minimum wage for this and there are plenty of other jobs to go around, and gone and dropped the higher-ups a memo to say that, you know, this script is really, really rubbish?

The Sound of Drums

June 24th, 2007 by Reinder

This was good. No it wasn't. Yes it was. No, it was a bit crap.

The above exchange is not what is currently going on on the Outpost: Gallifrey forums or on Behind the Sofa. Any resemblence is a coincidence, honestly. What the above exchange is is what was going through my head while I was watching it, and afterwards.

The reason is, of course, that Russel T. Davies scripts are not exactly linear or ordered; they are, rather, a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, samey-wamey... stuff. Instead of the thousands of Daleks of the Season One ender, we get billyuns of stabby-slicy, zappy-wappy ...ball things. There's the Aliens-in-the-British-Government concept, with the surprise eradication of a group of people who might otherwise have been able to stop the alien. There's gratuitous cameo-age (nothing wrong with that, per sé, but the repetition is getting on my nerve). There's the convenient plot devices - the invisibility device that works until plot demands that it doesn't. Even the blatant channeling of Douglas Adams's spirit is getting old, and I'm the kind of person for whom that stuff just doesn't get old. I am referring of course to the entirety of Gridlock, the BBWWTWS theory which is a clear restatement of Adams's Whole Sort of General Mish-mash theory, and now the use of what clearly amounts to a Somebody Else's Problem field.

What The Sound of Drums left me with was the impression that it was all, well, a big mish-mash. Ideas and characterisation and explosions and music and cameos and sound and fury, signifying nothing. What a mess. And unlike last episode, this one wasn't directed by Graeme Harper, and it showed.

I like John Simm as the Master, but I appear to be the only person in the world who does. I enjoy his manic unpredictability. But even with that in mind, I can't quite get why he wants the destruction of the Earth. I can sort of guess at the ends he's planning to achieve (and indeed Doctor Who Confidential contained a whopper of a spoiler for the final episode), but not how this end requires him to wipe out the world. It could still be explained in the next episode......

... but there's too much exposition in this storyline already! Even the accompanying shots of some Timelords in their preposterous headgear couldn't make all the narrated backstory interesting or compelling. For the first time since Series 2, an episode of Doctor Who seemed to just drag on and on. Even the cliffhanger was dull.

All right, so I clearly think it was a bit crap. No it wasn't! John Simm was great, Tennant was great, apart from the final minutes when he was in his prosthetic makeup, and Agyeman and Barrowman played well against one another, as Tennant did against Simm. There was some effective music in there, and while there was plenty to gripe about, there was little that stuck out in a negative sense while I was actually watching it - apart maybe from the cookie-cutter US President with an unconvincing accent.

It's just that... add everything together and it just doesn't work. It's dull, stale stuff. Unlike Blink and Human Nature/Family of Blood which had me on the edge of my seat and occasionally jumping out, this just washed over me.

I don't have high expectations of the series finale now. Let's just get it over with and then I can bury myself in Big Finish audio dramas again.

Utopia (spoiler-ish)

June 17th, 2007 by Reinder

If you're reading this on Livejournal, stop now! I'll try to add spoiler cuts, but I can't guarantee that they'll work

I wouldn't have minded if Derek Jacobi had stayed on. He's an outstanding actor who can do much with very little.

Beyond that, I don't know. The direction in Utopia was strong but the script was very uneven. It started out pretty poor, with the threat of the Futurekind being particularly feeble. The actions of the one Futurekind character who'd managed to get into the Base That Was Under Siege were so obviously there as scaffolding for the plot that I couldn't believe in them at all. But all those things were just background for the goings-on with the Doctor, Martha, Jack and Professor Yana (groan) ... and his fob watch.

The idea of a bad guy living out a whole life as a man dedicated to public service was a good one - a nice parallel with Human Nature/Family of Blood from which it was obviously a continuation. But I think that would have worked better as a Doctor-lite story focusing on that one man. Generally, I don't think the theme wasn't handled nearly as well as it was in Paul Cornell's story.

For an episode with so much other stuff going on, though, the character development and plot arc of Professor Yana worked very well. We got the reminder that Timelords can regenerate early on, and then we got the slow feeding of hints about Yana's nature: that his academic title is an honorific because he has no formal qualifications (what with Universities being long gone, after all); that he craves admiration; that he has been plagued by something that he considers a brain malfunction all his life, causing him to hear the sound of drums in his head; that he lies about his progress to the people he works for, "to give them hope". Yana is trying very hard to be a good man, and mostly succeeding, but all this time his dark side is there.

It was surprising to see the "to be continued" caption at the end. From the timing of the episode, it would seem to be the start of a three-parter, making it the longest single plot in the new series yet. Audacious. But pointless if it isn't the absolute best that the creative team can give, and while Utopia delivered the goods in the end, it wasn't the absolute best.

The structure of the third season as a whole is shaping up well, with the whole thing being a carefully constructed time loop, or big ball of timey-wimey stuff. I like that. I've always been fond of time loop stories. I also liked that story elements from the previous episodes recur - not just the fob watch disguise but also the loss of the TARDIS.

So he is back. I still can't help thinking that Derek Jacobi would have filled the adversary role much better. Though on second thought, John Simms's energetic performance works quite well.

It's fun to note that a number of contradictory rumours all turned out to be true: that Jacobi would play a good guy who is trying to help the last survivors of the human race; that he would play the Master; that John Simms would play the Master. All true, and as we've seen before in Series 1, all working better than the rumours themselves would suggest.

In all, a shaky start to the episode, and too much extraneous business, but ending quite well.


June 10th, 2007 by Reinder


The family of blood (Doctor Who spoilers)

June 3rd, 2007 by Reinder was good. I don't think it quite lived up to the promise of the first half, though. While there was plenty of great characterisation and acting, and superb dialogue, the resolution and all that followed it didn't work for me. The resolution was rushed and seemed like an anticlimax. The dénouement showing the Doctor as avenger was ... defensible in terms of his established character, but when the rest of the characterisation is so spot on, merely defensible just seems weak. And the patriotic button-pushery in the epilogue definitely really did seem out of place and out of character for the Doctor, who doesn't really make a habit of going back to check what becomes of the characters after an adventure. What's next, the Doctor going to Jo Grant's place for a cuppa tea? It sort of worked, as button-pushery always does, but I resented that it did. It added the syrupy aftertaste of altogether too much American TV drama to a series that, usually, is better than that precisely because it doesn't do that sort of thing. Might as well have had the Doctor transformed and redeemed by LUUUURVE, which I'm glad to report he wasn't.

Still, those bad moments were very few - probably adding up to less than the time it took me to type them up. In all, Human Nature and The Family of Blood gave us 85 minutes of outstanding, award-worthy TV drama and five minutes of slightly dodgy stuff at the end. Not bad at all. Best of Series Three so far.

Afterthought: I'd like to read the novel some time. But even apart from the novel, the idea of the Doctor living a human life has been done before, e.g. in the "Winter" section of the Big Finish audio Circular Time, which is the best bit of that collection of short stories.

Human Nature – slight spoilers

May 27th, 2007 by Reinder

Whew! Edge of my seat. Great stuff, nearly perfect with only a few moments of stupid to mar it - all of them to do with Martha Jones, unfortunately. Well, one of them was to do with the writers hitting us over the head with her infatuation for the Doctor, and the other was with her acting out of character. Martha Jones is supposed to be this ultra-competent companion, and in this episode, she's shown to be obsessed with the Doctor's pre-recorded instructions to her. Even after the loss of the watch, I found it difficult to believe she'd panic like she did. Now that I mention it, even that doesn't seem all that bad.

So just for once, my gripes are very minor. Doctor Who can still be good! Wonderful acting from David Tennant as "John Smith" as well. I can't wait for next week's conclusion of this two-parter.


May 20th, 2007 by Reinder

"42" was easily the best looking Doctor Who episode ever, with beatifully designed glowy sets, lots of fire and blinking lights and eldritch glowing eyes, more great-looking, sweating, intense actors, all wonderfully shot by Doctor Who veteran Graeme Harper.

Plotwise, though, it was a bit routine. Just another "base under siege with a time bomb" story, and the fact that the time bomb was a sun doesn't work to disguise that at all. Then again, this was a Chris Chibnall script, so expectations were low, and in fact expectations were exceeded. The story did not embarrass like Chibnall's ham-handed writing on Torchwood. Thankfully, little attempt at characterisation was made and the emphasis was all on keeping up the suspense and on the business of running around, issuing commands, opening doors and trying not to get burned into vapour. On that basis it worked well, even though very little happened that was at all remarkable.

On the whole, better than it could have been, and mostly made memorable by its looks.

The Lazarus experiment (spoilers)

May 6th, 2007 by Reinder

....much better. The story of The Lazarus Experiment was a bit unambitious and consisted largely of chase scenes, but this time the people involved managed to hang some good direction and dialogue on that storyline, and while the resolution was a bit daft, it looked and sounded good enough to work. I liked the nod to the Third Doctor, and the first real appearance of Mr. Saxon's aide.

I am, however, getting a bit fed up with the design of the monsters - and by the way, having the lead bad guy turn into a monster? Yawn. The problem with many of the current crop of monsters is that they're all mandibles and spider legs and glistening skin and exposed internal organs and stingers and pinchers - all the outward signifiers of predatory dangerousness, but somehow they fail to impress. A Dalek, in comparison, really is a superior design. A Dalek doesn't look dangerous. It looks a bit preposterous right until it egg-whisks you to death. Much more effective. These monsters just look like they're overcompensating. And I will probably go to my grave believing that CGI monsters lack the necessary physical presence to be truly menacing.

But apart from that, here was one episode that I could enjoy again. Love Martha's mother. She's much more formidable than Jackie Tyler, just like her daughters are much more formidable than Rose.

Oooh, that trailer looked wonderful. Nice to see a familiar face again. One would almost forget it's going to be scripted by Chris bloody Cribnall....

I can't quite recall in which episode the Master did what Saxon's aide did in this one, poisoning people's minds against the Doctor. I think it was a Sixth Doctor episode, which would explain why I can't quite recall it. I recently watched a whole batch of Sixth and Seventh Doctor episodes and found the overwhelming majority of the Sixth Doctor's body of work to be intolerably bad. So I've in all likelihood repressed the memory. Was it Mark of the Rani?

Finally, I note with a weary heart that the science was bollocks again, though at least this script wasn't as brazen about it as that of Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks. It's a better quality of bollocks, if you will. I've noticed in the fan reviews on Livejournal that people have started spelling it "teh skience", which I take as a sign that they've given up on getting any science within the series that they can take seriously. Something for the producers to pay more attention to in Series 4, I guess.

No Doctor Who next week, but I'll probably find something to review. I'll either watch and review one of the DVDs that I haven't discussed yet, or download something especially to watch and review. Maybe a Dalek episode, or one featuring the Master.