Thursday, 31 May 2007

It has begun!

It's all happening now. One of the main reasons I started this blog (and have completely failed to detail) is the big convention I'm involved in running: Conspiracy II.

Today most of our guests are flying in, necessitating many trips to and from the airport, from as early at 8am to as late as midnight. In between that are many trips to and from the main house to pick up all the stuff we have gathered over the months. And also need to pick up several things (such as, for example, the Conbook!) from around town. And do last minute printing and...

So, yeah, still a fair bit to go, with late nights for all and sundry. Still, it's all on now and it's all going ahead whether we're ready or not.

(I may or may not be blogging during the convention itself. There is a "business centre" there, and we will need to be checking stuff, so we'll see...)

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Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Sims Scripted?

Now, I have only really dabbled in the Sims area (played a bit of SimCity in my time), but I'm pretty sure the whole point is that the games are interactive. The player is god, messes in the lives of the "little people" and then either takes pride or laughs merrily in the resulting situation.

The main word is "interactive": the player controls everything. With the huge "The Sims" game, the player gets to play god with individual people. Again, the point is the player gets to do something.

How enjoyable is watching other people play the game? I am wondering for two reasons. One is that with the point being interaction, does not interacting give any pleasure?

The other reason is that, well, there's a huge chunk of non-interaction coming our way soon. Yep, there's going to be "The Sims" movie.

There have been many games that have made the transition from game to screen, especially the first/third person shooter games. However, these games are different in that the games have an inherent plot that can be transferred.

The Sims? Is there a plot? 'Cos the point is it plays out from whatever players set up. It's chaotic, in the sense of "chaos theory", in which similar starting conditions can lead to drastically different end points. What's the point of a movie? Unless it's going to be a breakthrough in movie-experiences and be controllable by the movie going audience, this could easily be a very boring experience.

(On the other hand, I'm thinking of the main market audience of The Sims are voyeurs, and they'll watch whatever...)

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Tuesday, 29 May 2007

DW: Episode 3.8

Now that's good television. Good Doctor Who...? But good television!

Very well done teaser. I'm certainly interested! Of course, I have read the book, but a long time ago. This is making me want to re-read it, but I'll wait until after the episodes are over (as, as far as I recall, the aliens in the book were a bit pants).

Certainly Paul Cornell has learnt a few things in the mean time, as these aliens really are menacing. And the scarecrows are perfect, showing a key point can be simplicity. In the book, I'm pretty sure the ending to the first half happens near the end, but obviously here needs to be brought forward to make for the cliffhanger.

Not that it's all good. There are a number of points made in Human Nature, and the episode here (quite rightly) focuses on the Doctor. But there is also the war aspect, only really hinted at here. That would be a more powerful message, but it is portrayed far more effectively in the book where there is the time to develop the message. (And because it isn't developed, I'm not really sure what to make of it here.)

But what's up with that kid, eh? Don't remember him from the book, but could very well be. At least there is the "daughter of mine" to offset him, and gets to be nice and creepy (and no-one questions the balloon?!). Hopefully there will be explanations to come.

'Cos I am definitely looking forward to part two. Great one there, Paul Cornell!

Next week: Yeah, that's gonna be real...

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Monday, 28 May 2007

Can We Live By Reason Alone?

Yes, yes we can... (These are parts 1, 2 and 3.)

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Sunday, 27 May 2007

Join us... Join us!

Join us in the world of blogging. You know you want to...

The latest convert is the blog for RTP, RTP being Reverse the Polarity, the other, more adult (ie rudier) Doctor Who fanzine to TSV. The blog is being run by the Editor, one Alexander Ballingall, but it looks like he's cheating and instead posting pieces from RTP itself. Oh, the suffering, the suffering...

Anyways, welcome to the dark side, Alex, and the rest of you should give in as well...

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Saturday, 26 May 2007

SNS: The Surest Poison

Season 2 audio, ep 2: The Surest Poison by Richard Dinnick.

SAPPHIRE: This is Mr. Steel, and you may call me Sapphire.
WEBB: That's a beautiful name.
STEEL: Thank you.

So, let's start with the story. A creature is trying to make the famour watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet make a watch so that people become fascinated with time and then Time takes over. Um... what?... sure... whatever.

And already we hit the first of my two problems with this story. Sapphire and Steel is known for its confusing plotlines, but this one sets a new standard. Not only do I have no real idea as to what the hell that creature was on about, I also don't know how that ending resolved anything, and moreover what was the point of all the present day material? It may just be me, but I'm also thinking that from the very beginning of this audio, the creature has already been defeated (and most of the story is about how), so the threat is somewhat lessened. (And, um, where is this disease that strikes down Sapphire as promised by the back cover blurb?)

Which leads to the other problem of most of this audio being padding of the horrendous sort. Episode 3, for example, could easily be missed (and indeed is missing Steel being involved anywhere but in the teaser). Also, a lot of this story involves time travel (which one would think S&S would be right against from the outset, but there's not even a pause before they go time jaunting), but on their first time escapade, what is their great discovery? I'll paraphase the dialogue. Webb askes "What have you discovered?" Steel replies "That we can get back to the present." Well, thank you Richard Dinnick for that fascinating WASTE OF TIME!

Sigh. But at least we have David and Susannah. And Richard Franklin, whom I would have thought that Big Finish would have played up as a special guest star. Does Captain Yates not cut it any more? We are also treated the the French accents of Tom Bevan, Eric Maclennan and Big Finish regular Helen Goldwyn. It's just as well they were speaking English with French accents, or who knows what the listeners would have done. (And before anyone complains that the dialogue is being translated for the listeners, I give you the scene with Webb.)

Still, if we are to say one good thing about it, I do want to thank Richard Franklin for his role, which was quite enjoyable.

The "bonus" (and the quotes are definitely intended) for this audio is a discussion with Nigel Fairs and John Ainsworth about The Lighthouse story, in which we find out that Nigel is incrediably incestious with his ideas.

Ultiamtely, a sub-par story, and one that doesn't speak well to the idea of getting rid of single disc releases.

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Friday, 25 May 2007


No, not South Park (but the image is copywrite them!), but something far superior! Have you got your towel handy, for today is Towel Day! (Not that Douglas Adams died on this day (but 11th May) but that this was as soon a commemoration as fans coudl organise. Ah, the significance of random events. I'm sure DNA would approve.)

On this days, fans carry towels. Have you got yours? (Not that I have mine, hence the image.)

But, while you're battling Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, or waving it as a distress signal, take time to read the The Hitchhiking Skeptic’s Guide to the Galaxy (aka the 61st Skeptics' Circle)!

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Thursday, 24 May 2007

More Madonna Music

In better Madonna news, she is releasing a new song for the Live Earth event.

The song, Hey You, can be downloaded for free from Microsoft, who have said that they'll give 25 cents to the charity for the first million downloads. So... US$250,000 then. Why not $1 per download. Or $25? They can afford it! This sounds impressive, but not really more than a stunt to look good. (Now there's a surprise!)

Still, free new Madonna song. Yay! Not that I could find it on MSN. Had to go here, which then linked to the file here.

Which no longer works, so get it from here.

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Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Now that's a Megamix

It occurs to me that an easy blog would be to simply post a YouTube video each day. Moreover, declare yourself a Judge Of All That's Good and hand out awards to "good" videos (ie. random stuff that tickles your fancy). I'd bet you'd quickly be invited as an "expert" to blog meetings and the like.

Not that this pondering in any excuses me just linking to this video megamix...

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Tuesday, 22 May 2007

DW: Episode 3.7

Someone's been watching Sunshine...

This episode is a lot of a muddle. There is vaguely an actual story, but not much of one, and so there is a lot of running around and/or being very emotional to cover up the lack of plot. One expects better of the Torchwood writer.

A name like 42 invokes certain images, not the least of which would be that the author should be David Agnew. Unfortunately, the superficial resemblence is all we get. What else we get is a count-down real time episode (although I don't think it completely lines up, certainly not at the end), which also ties into the whole "low plot" theme of above of we get to time exactly how much actual plot there is (not that I did, of course, but I doubt we would clock more than ten story-related minutes).

There was also a lot of resemblence to that other space-story, The Impossible Satan Pit Planet. (I'm sure there was a character called Ashton in that too.) It might be the style of the craft that suggests it, but all you need are Ood and you are telling that story in one episode. But without the pub quiz. (About which, the only point I could see, was to drag the Saxon element in.)

(ObScience: I totally call the script on the lifepod. There is no way Martha and thingy would not be dead.)

I haven't said much about the characters because, well, they get picked off too quickly for one to care about them. And I had trouble telling the two unshaven men apart at the end. As for the Doctor and Martha... how does she run in those heels? I would have gone sprawling through a doorway after about three goes.

Still, say what you like... actually, I just did! Redeeming features? Could have been worse. Not a "generic" episode, but not one that felt original either.

Next week: Ah, yes, that Paul Cornell book.

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Monday, 21 May 2007

You have got to be...

There are some amazing things out there in the world. And then there's other stuff.

A recent xkcd cartoon made no sense to me, but knowing that he taps into popular culture (as far as computer geekdom can be considered 'popular culture') I investigated a little.

I know that cats fascinate people, and that there are far too many webspace dedicated to them, and that... well, this earlier cartoon pretty much sums it up.

And so when I found out about this... I wasn't surprised really (well, a little), but... there is so much about psychology that needs to be understood to even start explaining this.

EDIT: What's up with this new blogger system? It likes unsetting comment allowing.

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Saturday, 19 May 2007

Hitchens on the smack-down!

Check out the full blow-by-blow here, and watch a slapdown here:

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Friday, 18 May 2007

DW Review: Wooden Heart

The last of the current triptych of books: Wooden Heart by Martin Day.

It's not set on Earth! Hoo-ray! It doesn't feature a setting that would be Earth! Hoo-ray! It does come close, but it's quickly evident that this is no normal place. This has been the major stumbling block with previous books: they get away from Earth then have an incrediably Earth-like setting. Not here!

There are obvious parallels with The Girl in the Fireplace, what with the space station seemingly linking to a psuedo-Earth locale, which is a big parallel, but that's about as far as that link goes. I wasn't totally sure what the village was to the space station (and, frankly, it isn't explained anyway), but the changing of settings enables the TARDIS to be away from easy access and affords some moments of tension about "will they get out?" (as much as the two script-safe leads can generate anyway).

The plot ticks over at a decent place, and Martin Day proves to be a more than capable writer. Chapter Eleven seems to go a bit hay-wire, but one quickly settles into it and the meaning becomes clear soon enough. Events are wrapped up well enough, but there are some explanations lacking.

Such as the Dazai. At many times, she's written as a female Doctor, and on one occasion I did mis-read her name for his! There are three other main characters, easily distinguished, with the token child (June) not too annoying. The Doctor and Martha were well written, but could have been substitued for another pairing easily (such as, for example, a certain other Doctor/companion pair favoured by this writer).

Overall, a decent read at the end of which things stop happening more than are finalised, but worth a go.

Order: Eh. Between Lazarus and 42 again, I guess.

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Thursday, 17 May 2007

Lord of the Tintin

For some reason, there are rumours that Peter Jackson will be getting together with Steven Spielburg to make three Tintin movies. Why those two should feel the need to collaborate on such a project is not discussed, but you can be sure it will inspire a lot worse titles that what I came up with.

What's more, Weta will be using all their computer generational power to create these characters to look exactly like real people. Like the Japanese have been doing for a while.

But... why? They'll be filming live actors anyway, then using that information for the life-like computer people. So why not just shoot a live action movie?? Frankly, it'll be cheaper! Hells, even Sky Captain went for real people if nothing else.

I'm sure it'll look impressive, but it'll also be a major entry in the 'look what we can do because we can' smugness campaign...

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Wednesday, 16 May 2007

SNS: The School

Second series, first audio: The School by Simon Guerrier.

SAPPHIRE: Steel is a lame-o!
STEEL: I'm not!

This audio really works best on a first listening. This is best evidenced by what happens to the character Chatura. The first time around, we get alternatively appalled and confused by what happens to her (and it helps draw the listener in when they wonder what is going on). But on the second listen, I'm only left wondering what the point of her is. We now know the truth about her, so what happens to her has far less of an impact, the dramatic tension is completely reduced.

(Obviously this is a problem with a lot of stories, but the truth of the matter is such an underpinning to what is going on that it makes accepting what is going on the second time nearly impossible.)

But, what of the story itself? It's about (surprise, surprise) a school. Well, we most of us relate to that, we went to school as kids, had out cliques, the mean kids, the nerds, the teachers who worked and the teachers who... actually, that's almost entirely what this audio isn't about. The kids that is. It's about the teachers,and what they get up to, about which we all have a common... lack of common ground. Simon Guerrier decided to give us a play about a something we all share, and then now show any of the kids. Well done, that man.

Still, there's a lot of weirdness going on, that we forgive him a little, as long as its worth it. And it is. The first time around.

David Warner and Susannah Harker turn in brilliant performances as ever. Oh, for them to appear in these roles on the screen! It would be amazing. (And as for their performances in episode, that's bordering on the surreal.) Keith Drinkel and Lisa Daniely turn in strong performances as Mr and Mrs Leslie. Victoria Gould doesn't get to do too much with Chatura. And James Daniel Wilson (aka Paul from the Tomorrow People audios) makes a meal of his role as Max.

We also get a "bonus" with this audio of a discussion with Joseph Lidster about Daisy Chain. Interesting comments there, and capped off with Susannah Harker's musical problems.

So, The School is definitely worth one listen, but doesn't withstand subsequent listenings.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Scanners 7

Now's the time to reveal a big name we completely failed to get for our convention. (And no, not Joss Whedon. We did send off an inquiry but never heard back.) There was someone we were after, who was very close to coming along... until pulling out a few weeks ago.

Star of such movies as Jurassic Park, Event Horizon and Merlin, ladies and gentlemen, we don't give you... Sam Neill!

And not just him, we also fail to give you his wife, who is really big in the make-up industry. And there was also a surprise mystery guest.

But, nope, he's now too busy. Working on a movie called Telepathy, although I have a different name for it. I think it sounds far more amusing to say that a certain actor had to go star in Scanners 7. ;)

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Monday, 14 May 2007

Potential Spooks are Spooked

The TV show Spooks shows the spy business to be a lot of glamour. When it started screening in the UK, applications to MI5 went up. (This is one reason why MI5 was happy to let the show go on.) As the show went on, the main cast left for other roles, normal for TV programs. However, their characters didn't get to sail off easily into the sunset, and were evicted by death, shame or... well, more death, really.

This, as can be easily understood, meant that the glamourous side wasn't so glamourous any more, as these storylines did reflect at least some degree of reality (and certain real-life terrorists attack probably didn't help either). And now MI5 are finding themselves short of female applicants.

They've got a new ad campaign going, but the applicants have to face a lot of tests. A long time ago, I applied to a certain agency, and also faced a lot of tests, but ultimately they didn't want me (I know I didn't interview well, and could do a lot better now). Perhaps I should try for MI5? After all, they only have a 60% "retirement" rate.

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Sunday, 13 May 2007

SNS: Dead Man Walking

The last CD of season one: Dead Man Walking by Nigel Fairs.

STEEL: What exactly do you mean by 'contradictions'?
SAPPHIRE: Unresolved timelines. Events that don't follow on from another in any way.

One problem of a two-parter like this is that we don't really get character scenes any more, just plot scenes. We start off with the author (well, one of them) being killed, then we can SnS coming along to find out what the problem is. Michael Kent is identified as a major part of this audio, and I think we have a few scenes that are supposed to make us understand his character (although the scene where he goes on about his tutor bored more than entertained me), but those scenes are overridden by the need to drop the next bits of the plot in.

But what is the plot? Thirty-six years ago someone was checked into this prison, and now we have that someone checking into the prison again today. For the first time. Eh? The main problem here is that with only two parts, some plot points are compressed, and so we know there is more to it than that, and indeed get ahead of our agents in working out some of the details. This is also apparent with the connection of the child, who's last name is a bleedin' give away! (Which isn't revealed in the liner notes, so you'll have to listen to the audio to find out what it is.)

A lot of this audio is reminiscent of All Fall Down. Not only do we get the return of Silver, a call back to the graphaphone, but alsoSteel gets sidelined for a lot of the story, but Sapphire doesn't manage to take command as well as she did back then. It's more Silver who gets to lead, but then the authors (John Ainsworth started this story, but Nigel Fairs finished it) need someone who can dispense a lot of plot devices with the wave of a hand, which they do a lot of.

David Warner is, to me, more gruff here than elsewhere as Steel, not wanting to put up with any irrelevance, such as actually talking to people. Susannah Harker seems more whiney as Sapphire here, her best moment really only involving the teeth. David Collings puts in a workman performance, saying the lines, but lacking in any real Silver emotion.

Trevor Littledale as Michael Kent completes some kind of hat-trick having now appeared in all the main Big Finish streams (Doctor Who, Bernice Summerfield, 2000 AD, Tomorrow People and now Sapphire and Steel), but here continues the theme of whiney characters. As does Athur Bostrom as Richard Hanmore. Jo Castleton and Neil Cole get the best guest performances as Marian Anderson and Ian Jackson respectively, but Marian doesn't get a lot of scenes. And I know it's usual practice to get a woman to play the voice of a young boy, but Suzanne Procter doesn't pass muster for a single second.

Bonus-wise, there is incidental music after the main story (why not an interview), but even with that we only get to 60 of the 70 minutes promised on the back cover. But we also get a whole bonus disk of trailers (54 minutes worth), if you like that sort of thing. It's a nice idea, but these sorts of disk should be given out to the public, not those that are already buying the CDs.

Not a great story, overall, a reather weak finish to the first season. We can only hope the second season gets better...

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Saturday, 12 May 2007

Well.... DUH!!!!!!!!!

It's amazing what surveys can tell us.

Like, for example, when money is not a factor... men choose to buy with a preference for the label of the maker, not the price of the product!

What?? Did the Luxury Institute really expect a different answer? Why is this news???

There is something that is more relevant, that more men than women would go for a label brand, and that is an interesting result from the survey, but both the leading paragraph of the story, and the caption under the photo, both go for the "label over price" item as notable.

Next survey result will tell us that given a choice between a piece of chocolate and a lump of plastic, most people(*) would prefer to eat the chocolate!!!!

(*)You just know someone will prefer the plastic...

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Friday, 11 May 2007

DW Review: The Last Dodo

Second book in this set: The Last Dodo by Jacqueline Rayner. You can read the real story of the last dodo courtesy of Richard Dawkins.

This is very similar to Jac's other book, The Stone Rose, in which this is really many small stories stiched together. The main story is about the MOTLO, or Museum of the Last Ones (which should make the acronym MotLO, but never mind). The museum can detect when there is just one of a species left and send agents to pick it up. Even when the species dies out rather quickly (as with the dodo in the preliminary chapter). And appearantly without the aid of time travel, and yet with instantenous teleportation between planets, which I just completely don't get (but then, I know real world science).

There are also more than a few references to past DW stories, including the old series, and even the previous book Made of Steel! And yet, given the ("""surprising""") revelation of Gridlock, somehow Jac has the Doctor register as the last of the Time Lords. Could be a mix-up or point to something very interesting. (I'm more of the 'Jac didn't school' opinion, but that won't stop the theorising!)

The characters weren't at all well developed and only distinguishable as names and half-dimensional personalities. Albert is a curio, I'm not sure what the sudden insertion of the 'Friendly Fireman' was about given the role (albeit minor one in one of the small stories) that he plays. Martha gets a chance to narrate some of the book, and Jac inserts sections and totals from The I-Spyder Book of Earth Creatures to compliment her journey and drive home the moral about species extinction. It's an odd narrative choice, and even odder when the supposed values aren't reflected properly on the list, leading one to wonder about revisions and editorial issues.

It'd be nice to see Jac do a proper full book, but between these and her Benny books, I'm not entirely sure she's capable of it.

Order: Take your pick. Between The Lazarus Experiment and 42, why not?

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Thursday, 10 May 2007

Mark of the 46

Yep, TSV 46 is out, so time to talk about it.

The Rani graces the cover, and why not? Peter gives the video a full review inside, and it's just as relevant now as it was then, what with the recent Mark of the Rani release on DVD. (Peter also provides, with Paul Potiki, a full on comic strip, now online for your reading pleasure!)

Dave provides two fiction pieces, which caused the scanner a bit of fun. There were a few 1 for l in this issue, but his pieces got hit bad.

Be sure to check out the Cartmel interview, which has some very good advice for wannabe authors. Now to just do it...

See what Paul and Alden said about it. (Which is far more interesting than this post!)

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Wednesday, 9 May 2007

It's Female Time!

I finally got around to watching Dead or Alive last night, which made me flash back so much to Mortal Kombat I could have sworn I saw Lui Kang. In the Behind the Scenes segment, the actresses go on a lot about how they are playing empowering roles, yadda yadda, but it's obvious that this movie is really about seeing barely clothed women kick the crap out of a) men and b) other women.

The director, Corey Yuen, even taps the other DOA video game with the volleyball scene. Now, this movie is already peaking hgih levels of gratuity, but this scene is about seeing bikini-ed womem jump around. Corey manages an amazing feat by failing to shoot the scene to focus on the bikini-ed women in gratious ways, but instead achieves amazing cinematic shots (aided by CG I've no doubt) of... the volleyball! (Not to mention interspersing the scene with lots of kung-fu action with veteran Kane Kosugi.)

But in the end, it's all about seeing Eric Roberts beating up on several different people who are fitter and far more capable, because, you know, it's just believable that way.

I waited until this was cheap on DVD before buying it. It's still overpriced.

(See what blog-fellow Alden says about this movie.)

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Tuesday, 8 May 2007

DW: Episode 3.6

A nice generic monster episode.

Oop, they missed a trick with that trailer. It would have been interesting (and very in keeping) if the Doctor hadn't reappeared, and they seperately got involved in the Lazarus experiment. Would have been a different take on the "companion got dumped" typical routine.

"Greenhorn"? Sounds like an alias to me. Confidential may change that impression, but I won't be surprised if it is eventually revealed to be another RTD front (much like certain theories around Matt Jones' work in Series 2).

Now that's a monster! Neat CGI body, but the face could do with more work. (Look to the Japanese, people! Just check out Final Fantasy for some realistic faces.) And I'm thinking it's just me, but Mark Gatiss looks incrediably like (a young) Peter Davison. (Now that would be stunt casting, casting an older-Doctor in a non-Doctor role.)

Martha proves to herself to be exceedingly competant, able to use the sonic screwdriver to extreme effectiveness. But how do women run in high heels? The sonic screwdriver itselfs proves once again to be the ultimate McGuffin. There is a reason JNT got rid of it, and this entire new series proves that he was right to do so.

This story was really done twice. The first part obviously ends at 30 mins, and then they tack on more running around (a cathedral instead of the laboratories) before finally ending it with Mark Gatiss nude again. Not even inserting lots of Saxon makes that bearable. (Although the family was!)

Coming up: That does look seriously kewl for upcoming episodes...

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Monday, 7 May 2007

Getting One's Coat

I've seen, cropping up recently in posts and such, the ending expression "I'll get my coat."

The fuller version of the expression can be worked out after some easy thought: "Oops, I gather I have committed a social faux pas. Please allow me to excuse myself from your presence. Please don't get up, I'll see myself out, and gather up my own accoutrements on the way."

This would seem to be along the lines of other expressions, such as "With all due respect...", "Don't take this seriously,...", "Just an idea here,..." or even "Just kidding!"

The intent is to say "I've just said/written something that others won't like. I'll deal with myself so people won't attack me back."

And yet, and this is the point, in no case does there appear to be the decision "Since this will be interpreted as an annoyance, I won't post it." Nope, it's post and then excuse, not do not post. (Reminds me of "better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.")

I am not getting my coat, and if you want to respond, please leave your own outware where they are and say what you like.

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Sunday, 6 May 2007

SNS: The Lighthouse

Season 1, audio 4: The Lighthouse, by Nigel Fairs

STEEL: Children. Why's it always children?
SAPPHIRE: They aren't aware of Time, aren't afraid of it. Don't try to fight it.

This story definitely takes more than a single listen to to get, which Nigel Fairs points out himself in the liner notes. This does make one wonder when the needs of artistic license in storytelling should overwhelm the basic needs of having an audience understand the story? However, this isn't the first time Big Finish have done...interesting narrative techniques, and a seond listening is sufficient.

Which means the story is simple? In some ways I would say it has been over-complicated. One problem with different time zones is that it doesn't become entirely easy to tell which zone one is in, especially when I could have done with more differentiation between the voices. But the basic idea is of a man wanting to change his past, change what he has become, a self that was formed in his childhood (which is an aspect Nigel wanted to explore). As such, the story could have been streamlined more, and that basic point could have been brought out more (in many ways, the play could have been done with the old man, the young boy and his father, and still get the theme going).

But Nigel has obviously decided to opt for the more complicated idea, and, incidentally, not do a Sapphire and Steel audio. One of the core S&S components is the interaction S&S have with the characters, and in this audio that is circumvented so that Nigel has tell his across-time plot. The closest we get to this aspect is in the last half of the second episode when S&S and incorporated into events. Still, what Nigel then does with Sapphire is a neat idea, and we get to see Steel being a bastard, which is always fun.

With stories like this, you really do have to wonder what the cast thought of the roles. David Warner and Susannah Harker might have been used to the surreality by this time, but how did Neil Salvage feel about being an artist/mass murderer? At least Ian Hallard, Joseph Young and Lucy Beresford got to partake in a fairly straight forward drama about two old school chums and the wife, with lots of juicy secrets to reveal (a storyline that could be used anywhere, and could also have come from anywhere...making this either an S&S story of broad general appeal, or not an S&S story at all). Michael Adams sounds like he enjoyed his part, but if I might suggest, he could use a little more work on the death scene. And how exactly did Stuart Piper play the young boy?

Still, if there is one good thing to be said for this story, it's that it's not based on a bleeding nursery rhyme! When Nigel mentions that they've been accused of "overstepping the mark", perhaps that was because of the lack of a nursery rhyme in Daisy Chain (although it was probably the ending of that audio that they are referring to). It's interesting to consider what are staple S&S components. Atmosphere is obviously one, weird people to interact with is another, and nursery rhymes seem to be a third (which is really more a perceptual issue, as only half the original stories referred to rhymes).

With The Lighthouse, Nigel manages to break away from those stereotypes by having none of them involved. But it looks like they are returning to form in Dead Man Walking.

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Saturday, 5 May 2007

DW Review: Sting of the Zygons

The first of the first round of BBC Books starring the Doctor and Martha: Sting of the Zygons by Stephen Cole.

Stephen Cole has decided to forgo actual plot so that he can have a big run around (and aside from a few pages when the characters do get to rest, they are otherwise on the move) with lots of Zygons killing people. About every other chapter seems to be the Zygons attacking, so if you like Zygons, this is the books for you. (Yes, I am writing 'Zygons' a lot, but there are a lot of them!)

This could easily be a prequel to Terror of the Zygons, although nothing is explicity referenced. Certainly the Doctor remembers having met the Zygons before. There is so reference I could spot to The Bodysnatchers, but then I haven't read that book for a long time.

But, yes, little to no plot. Stephen desperately tries to insert some storyline about the King coming (which is very lately introduced into the book, despite being mentioned in the blurb), but by then people are running around full tilt, so it's just an excuse for more running. Still, Stephen does get some nice moments in there, and the part about the Zygons learning to play cards won't soon be forgotten.

Character-wise, the Doctor and Martha are well written, and Marsha gets to do some doctor- nurse-like duties. The rest of the characters... ye gods, too many! I quickly lost track of who was supposed to be the important poo-bah of where, and really they just became names, not people, to track. The only distinctions are Victor, as he's the first character we meet, Renald, as he's French, and Ian, who seems to start off as an 8-year-old boy and by the end of the book/the next day he's about 18.

There have certainly been a lot worse from this man. This book is a quick and enjoyable read. Not highly recommended, but if you are in the area...

ORDER: After Evolution of the Daleks is all I can currently say.

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Friday, 4 May 2007

Stunt Casting? In Doctor Who??

Thanks to some unknownable technical reason (the Status page doesn't even acknowledge a problem exists), Paradise wasn't accessible last night or this morning. So, with not much else I can do, I start listening to a podcast of The Sci Fi guys, whom interview Elizabeth Sladen.

However, I haven't heard much, because they spend over an hour blathering about other stuff, starting off with Doctor Who. They complain about the current levels of writing, then get onto "news" and talk a certain potential sexy Cyberwoman (who is still 'doable').

One of their complaints was that this was stunt casting (probably), and that why should Doctor Who do this when it never used to?


Did they miss the JNT era of the series? He has been accused of many things, but one thing that is undoubtedly true is that he put big names in to get newspaper attention. People may call the show on it ("Hey, that's stunt casting.") but it will make people watch, and that's the point.

These guys call themselves fans. And yet, when they say something like that, I gotta wonder.

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Thursday, 3 May 2007

Dear TSV (#74)

Dear TSV,

Let's get this out of the way up front. There are a lot of reviews. And I mean a LOT of reviews. Over half the issue is reviews, and that's being generous about what's counted.

Still, all said and done, when you read them all... they are interesting! Series 2 gets the heck reviewed out of it, by a squad of eight people. As no two people will ever have the same reaction, this means there are a wide variety of opinions, some I agreed with, others I didn't, but it's nice to see that all the episodes evoke all emotions. (Stats time, mean ratings. Stories: NE 2.38 (lowest), TaC 3.75, SR 3.88, TGitF 4.13, RotC 3.5, TAoS 3.63, TIL 2.81, TIP 4.38 (highest), TSP 3.13, L&M 2.69, FH 2.5, AoG 3.81, D 3.63. Reviewers: SB 3.42, AD 4.15 (higest), CE 2.08 (lowest), AF 3.62, NL 4.12, RM 2.69, PS 3.12, BS 4.)

The other set of reviews is about the CDs and the books. While I have the books (except About Time), the CD reviews are good because then I can target which ones I want to listen to. (Although, to be honest, I'm going to end up listening to all of them anyway.) Although I hadn't heard of that radio play before, oddly nothing mentioned on the NZDWFC board.

Jon Older's interview covers a bit of ground, and most of it over my head (as it were) as I haven't heard of most the shows he worked on, although fortunately the reviewer did. I'm guessing we'll be getting more of these, what with the editor in the country and all. Might I suggest that, even if we can't get more recognisable names, perhaps there could be more focus on the show we know? (The Peter Yeldham interview scores highly on the 'barely relevant' scale.)

The other major piece is David Lawrence's piece on the EDAs. There are lots of points I hadn't considered at the time (but then I don't go too deeply and miss a lot of literary references anyway), and makes me wish I could remember more about them. (Certainly doesn't make me wish to reread them, just that I could remember them.) It'll be highly interesting to finally see the final part of this. He has such a gleam of hope and joy in his eyes about the rest of the range...

This TSV very definitely comes with a 'YMMV' warning. It is, honestly, too review heavy (it is fine that the intention was not to present them all like this, but intention is not execution), and that will try a lot of patiences. The best part, for me, is David's section. Although that great back cover is a close second. Grab a copy and find out for yourself (it really isn't expensive in any way).

Yours sincerely,

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Wednesday, 2 May 2007

So that's who it is!

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Tuesday, 1 May 2007

DW: Episode 3.5

Action packed?

From the trailer (and the Confidential) of last week, this episode was going to be a mad chase aginst blasting Daleks and battling human forces from Hooverville. Which it was. For about five minutes. And then everything fizzled out like a wet firework.

Instead we were subjected to exciting "genetic" sequences, with lots of bubbling beakers and frothing liquids, and being about as believable as Kylie Minogue being cast as a Cyberwoman. This is obviously a show for kids as anyone with a bare minimum understanding of science will know this is up there with the moon being made of green cheese. I don't care how much Time Lord or Dalek science Helen Raynor pulled out her ass, I'm just not buying it. (How, exactly, did the lightning manage to carry Time Lord DNA?)

But that doesn't matter as it's not the point of the episode. Indeed, the point is that the Daleks should be more human. Why? They were never supposed to be human, but metaphors for human evil. Frankly, I think they should have shot Sek a lot earlier. And shot the Doctor too. (Why are they so unable to shoot him? "Emergency temporal shift", bah! Just blast him while you had the chance!) And speaking of Sek, they should have redesigned the mask as he sounded like he was speaking with his nose blocked (which, strangely enough,...).

At least there's the Lazlo/Tullulah story line. It's the only storyline that isn't pushed over the top, and there is the nice surprise ending of neither suspected outcome happening.

So at the end, we have a promised run-around that never happens, a heck of a lot of bad science, and the promise of yet another Dalek story. This progressed an original idea... how?

Next week: Mark Gatiss gets his chance to overact!

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