July 06, 2005

Tennant is Tenth

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Many fans out there may not be all that familiar with the work of the new Tenth Doctor, David Tennant (oh, what an appropriate name!) but I have been lucky enough to see him in a number of roles, including the live broadcast ofQuatermass Experiment and Casanova.  I think he’s going to be a fantastic Doctor, as he’s a great actor able to portray a wide variety of characters and moods.

Those people who want to hear what he sounds like in a Doctor Who story can check out the Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays (ordering info at www.doctorwho.co.uk) Colditz, Medicinal Purposes and the Unbound plays Sympathy for the Devil (where he acts alongside Nicholas Courtney, leaving Eccleston as the only actor out of the ten not to have done so in Doctor Who) and Exile.

To misquote the end of Warriors Gate’, will David Tennant be all right? 

He’ll be superb.

(11) Comments

June 28, 2005

Last Calls for Season 27….

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Tonight’s the night the final episode of the 27th Season (or “Series One” as it also called) of Doctor Who is broadcast on the CBC.  Its been a wonderful season and a triumphant return for Doctor Who, in the fashion we all knew could happen if the BBC did things right.

Tell us what you thought about tonight’s episode, the season as a whole, the 9th Doctor, Rose, Captain Jack, Mickey, Jackie or any character from the new series.

Readers who haven’t seen The Parting of the Ways or the whole season should be warned that there will likely be spoilers in the comments posted!

(45) Comments

June 22, 2005

Lallalicious

ward2.jpgI love The Leisure Hive, even though it makes less sense every time I watch it. I like all the close-ups and the out-of-focus elements and the Jean-Michel Jarresque music and how all the characters seem to be in some sort of nonsensical dream.

And the DVD commentary is one of the best. Bidmead and Bickford both say they hated K9, and Lalla says “well you’re a pain, the pair of you.” And she continues to provide a balance for Bidmead’s obsession with science and no jokes. According to her, “tacky onyx” is a kind of bath tap. It’s fun to listen to Bidmead as he tries to figure out what’s going on in the story. “Well you wrote it,” says Lalla.

And for the first time, I can see the string pulling K9 along the beach!

(13) Comments

June 18, 2005

The Trip of a Lifetime

When I was a much younger man, probably no more than a boy (though I wouldn’t see it that way in those days) I catalogued all the Doctor Who I owned. I created a catalogue of all the Doctor Who episodes I ever had on tape (either off-air or purchased). The catalogue was, I think, created initially on a typewriter, but eventually it made it into WordPerfect 4.1 and has continued to evolve over the years as it’s journied from its original file format up the WordPerfect ladder and over to Word. (It also went on to include Target Novels, Reference Books, NAs and Audios but that’s another story)


As you can see, like all geek scribblings, my video collection catalogue is extremely idiosyncratic. I list the title and date. “P” stands for “premiere story” (“F” stands for “finale story”). There’s the author, the companion, the director, the number of episodes (and if it was in movie format) whether it was a purchase or an off-air recording and finally the tape number in my video collection (back when I did such numbering).

I haven’t updated my collection in a couple of years. Editing a fanzine and organized fandom has made me lose interest in some of my more personal geekinesses. But tonight I watched The Parting of the Ways, Christopher Eccleston’s last story as the Doctor and suddenly I felt compelled to update my video collection.


And so I did. Some adjustments for format had to be made—most stories are just listed as ‘45 minute episode’—and some things had to be left ambivalent or unknown (does a DivX .avi file count as an off-air recording? What about a tape number?). And I made my peace with certain controversies by calling it “Season One”. But once that minutae was out of the way, I can’t begin to describe you the thrill I felt as I entered the heading “Ninth Doctor: Christopher Eccleston (2005).

Then I entered “Rose” with the “P” to signify that it was a first story. A flash on the unusual big-eared guy in a leather jacket, talking about feeling the rotation of the earth under his feet. Onward to Platform One, aliens and alienation. Back in time to meet Dickens and the Unquiet Dead. We get to the first two parter (I just give it a single entry but include both episode’s titles) and I smile at the thought of farting aliens and Penelope Wilton acting out Who at its most Holmesian.


By the time I reach Dalek, I’m sensing the next controversies to erupt in some corners of fandom—does Adam count as a companion or not? I decide he is and then think of watching that story with my 12 year-old goddaugher who was more excited after watching that the Dalek fly, exterminate and bare its soul than she was seeing Pirates of the Caribbean, which is saying something.

There’s the Long Game and Simon Pegg oozing new Who villainy. And the Empty Child which gave me the scariest moments I’ve ever had watching Who…and then The Doctor Dances which gave me the most exultant and jubilant moments too. One story entry, two episode titles and a slash marking some of the smartest, funniest, creepiest television this year.

Brief stop-over in Cardiff, or Buffy-land depending on your sensibilties. And then I typed:

BAD WOLF / PARTING OF THE WAYS (2005) (F)

“F” already? Finale story now? It was funny and sardonic and then exciting and then horrifying and then it was sweet, and then bittersweet…

...and then it was over.

Two new pages in my Video Catalogue. The entirety of Christopher Eccleston’s career as Doctor Who. He kept the promise he made in the promo trailers before the series was broadcast. He took us on the trip of a lifetime.

(8) Comments

June 17, 2005

Never Looked Better…

Any moment now, I’ll wake up. Do me a favour, go read this news article and then come back and explain to me how we got here. How did our creaky little sci-fi show become so successful that it’s been commissioned for not one additional series, but two! Oh, and another Christmas Special as well. And now I’m hearing that the combined budget for these two seasons is 30 million! What did we do to deserve this?

Saturday sees (in the UK) the broadcast of the final episode of this new season of Doctor Who, and draws to a close the Christopher Eccleston era. I thought this was going to be a sad time. Certainly I shall miss the series while it’s off the air - it’s quite simply the best version of Doctor Who I’ve ever seen, and by a significant margin is the best thing on TV right now. More than that I will miss Mr Eccleston, criticized by many for the “inappropriate mugging” and goofiness, but in reality the most dynamic, engaging and emotionally involving Doctor we’ve ever had (and I was not an Eccleston fan prior to this).

Instead we have so much to be happy about. We can look forward to the David Tennant era, at least one more season starring Billie Piper, RTD’s continued involvement alongside top notch directors and writers, an increase in the budget and the knowledge that Doctor Who has become BBC1’s flagship Saturday night programme and is not going to dematerialize anytime soon.

Result!

(4) Comments

June 15, 2005

Graeme Harper Returns to Doctor Who; Millions of Fans Die of Pleasure

The official BBC website announced that the first group of directors for next season are James Hawes (whose direction of The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances caused many fanboys to wet themselves seeing their childhood dreams of a version of Doctor Who that was cinematic with tons of night shooting completely fulfilled), Euros Lyn (who impressed everyone with The End of the World and The Unquiet Dead—partially just by demonstrating that he wasn’t Keith Boak, but mostly by exacting such great performances)...

...And four episodes will be directed by Graeme Harper.

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of millions of old time Doctor Who fans dying of anticipatory pleasure.

Harper, of course, directed what many consider to be one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever, The Caves of Androzani and followed that up with Revelation of the Daleks, highly regarded as Colin Baker’s best story. Both are considered to be two of the best-directed Doctor Who stories ever.

So far, the production team have a trifecta of great directors for season two. Rumours that Russell T. Davies and Phil Collinson are consulting the Necronomicon to bring Douglas Camfield back from the dead are as yet unconfirmed.

(4) Comments

June 14, 2005

The Best of Both Worlds

Russell “The Man” Davies wrote a fantastic piece in The Guardian about his work on the new series. A little less geeky and teasing than his DWM Production Notes, Russell talks about how he was cautioned he might lose his love for his favourite show by working on its revival and that such a revival might end up just being a niche thing…and that happily both are not the case now.

It’s a great little article because he talks about how he used the icons of Britain while at the same time employing the tactics of American TV:


On screen, the Doctor was deliberately flying the flag as a very British icon (Routemaster buses, Big Ben, Simon Callow) while off screen, the concept was given a very American kick up the arse. We built in sweeps episodes - event episodes and two-part stories placed strategically throughout the run, designed to boost ratings. The last in the series quickly became the “season finale”. And we did not just learn structure from the States, we stole story. So many good dramas - thank you, Buffy - had expanded the genre. They showed us that if you can laugh and cry in the middle of a story, then the adventure is that much better.

It’s a nifty combination: The ‘sweeps’ episode is the one with a Dalek in it. And Bad Wolf uses that great American TV tactic of building up as much excitement as possible for the season finale in the penultimate episode of the season.

(1) Comments

June 13, 2005

Grade Waters

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It is difficult to think which story is more unlikely - Michael Grade suggesting he may have made a mistake in attempting cancel the show in 1985 or Roger Waters re-joining Pink Floyd for the first time in just over 20 years?

Quite amazingly, both happened today, as it was announced that Pink Floyd (famous Doctor Who fans who have made several references to Doctor Who in music and concerts over the years) re-unites with Roger Waters for the Live 8 Concert in London on June 2nd, while this report from the BBC indicates that Grade admits to learning from his mistake of trying to cancel the series twenty years ago. 

We live in a world of wonders!

(4) Comments

June 12, 2005

another reason I love The Long Game

There are two scripts commonly used in the year 200 000. One of the scripts looks a bit like Chinese (I’ve turned it over, the BBC site got it upside down):

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while the other appears to be an alphabet or syllabary, looking a little like Hebrew.

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Here’s another example.

Now that’s attention to detail! In the old show, I can only remember Time and Rani using a made-up script. Probably the only thing Time and Rani and The Long Game have in common.

(3) Comments

June 09, 2005

Dalek Conquered

Just when you thought the world could get any stranger comes this BBC news report of how an original series Dalek prop was stolen from a tourist attraction at Wookey Hole.

The thieves left a ransom note and a carefully removed plunger arm. (“For the safety of the human race we have disarmed and removed its destructive mechanism.”) Rather like in Dalek the Mark III Travel Machine is being held captive; unlike Dalek the thieves, who have called themselves “The Guardians of the Planet Earth” are awaiting orders from the Doctor.

Perhaps the funniest, if not most pathetic, thing about this is that according to the BBC News Report, “Former Dr Who actor Colin Baker has been in touch with staff at the attraction, and may be asked to send a message to the kidnappers.”

(4) Comments

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