purplecat: A pile of hardback books (General:Books)
Reading: The Regiment - The Real Story of the SAS as recommended yonks ago by [personal profile] fififolle. I'm not, in general, that much interested by the military but do keep having to write them in stories. I've only just finished the first chapter on the Iranian Embassy siege.

Listening: The Writers' Room have been wrong about a lot of things recently. I've just finished listening to them being wrong about Ian Stuart Black, before that they were very, very wrong about Stephen Gallagher and before that a little bit wrong about Douglas Adams.

Watching: We ran out of Netflix available Killjoys, fortunately the second series of The Expanse turned up to fill the gap.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Every Roman mile along Hadrian's Wall, there was a milecastle. Our walk gradually came to be measured by which milecastles we were between even though no traces of the one's at either end exist and, in some cases, their location is purely speculative. Still we saw quite a few in the middle.

Under the Cut )
purplecat: The Seveth Doctor and Ace (Who:Seven)
The Curse of Fenric is, probably correctly, considered one of the best seventh Doctor stories. However I've always felt vaguely dissatisfied with it. There was much talk at the time about how much of the story ended up on the cutting room floor, so we opted to watch the extended version which restored a great deal of this lost material. I'm not sure that really helped. Its flaws, which are the flaws of many of the stories overseen by Andrew Cartmel, are not really addressed by the additional scenes.

I feel like I'm being churlish because I do like the story and the Cartmel era a lot. Maybe it is just that Curse of Fenric comes in for so much praise that it makes me feel contrary. We have the single most unconvincing seduction scene I have ever seen in visual media. The villain destroys all his henchmen for no readily apparent reason, in fact a number of events take place because the plot requires them to and not because they actually make sense (e.g., Kathleen Dudman being left behind after the evacuation of the base). It's been said that Cartmel was deliberately trying to evoke some of the stuff that was happening in comics at the time and I do wonder if this sensibility explains why so many of the scenes are cut short to a ridiculous extent: the Doctor and Ace show up, they exchange three or four entirely to the point remarks with someone in the scene and then they leave. I think a comic would start such scenes in media res (though I can't really see why the show could not do this). In the first episode, in particular, it's like the two of them just keep popping up places and then dashing off. Ace forms strong emotional attachments (to the Baby, to Sorin) apparently out of the blue. It doesn't help that a lot of the dialogue is... a bit not good (see unconvincing seduction scene). The extended version makes a great deal, in the dialogue, that "undercurrants" is a theme. This doesn't actually help any character sound like a real person actually talking the way real people do.

On the plus side, it has a lot of cool ideas and visuals. The idea of the curse of Fenric descending through the generations in this isolated location is revealed well. In fact, in general, the back story and the way all the various elements tie together is done well (which may be an advantage of the extended version) and actually makes sense. Nicholas Parsons is unexpectedly excellent as Wainwright, making the most of a part written with considerable nuance - and in fact interesting stuff is done in general with the various characters wrestling with their consciences over their behaviour and the behaviour of their "side" in the war. The Timey-wimeyness with the baby, while a bit heavy-handed is an interesting idea. Given the budget, the production both looks and sounds impressive.

I prefer Rememberance of the Daleks, both because it is playing to the fans and because it seems to be having more fun. The Curse of Fenric takes itself more seriously and is trying to do more with its various themes, but while I can admire its ambition and its earnestness, and admire how well it manages to pull everything off, it is still not quite good enough to make me warm to it.
purplecat: The Tardis against the spiralling clock face effect of the Capaldi opening credits. (Doctor Who)
I can finally say of a famously long Doctor Who story that it's no better than it deserves to be given the length. It is a shame because, I've been impressed by the longer Who stories of the late sixties and early seventies and was starting to wonder if it was actually a strength of the show.

"Ooh! I've seen a story with Peter Purves in it where the daleks spend the whole story chasing the Doctor!" Tame Layman said at the start. He was thinking of The Chase which I've not seen, but it did rather highlight the fact that not only are there 12 episodes of this but that it reusing an idea from only a few stories earlier.

The Daleks' Master Plan feels like something very different from The Invasion, The Silurians and The Ambassadors of Death which all have a certain similarity. In fact The Daleks' Masterplan feels more closely aligned to the serialised Flash Gordon series from the 1930s (I think), that I recall showing on BBC2 when I was growing up than it does even to much of the Doctor Who that surrounds it. Most of the episodes feel oddly self-contained as if the writer only had a rough idea of where the story was going and was content simply to move from the cliffhanger at the start of the episode to the cliffhanger at the end, with a certain amount of action involving Daleks pursuing the Tardis in order to regain the Taranium core in the middle. I am certain that I read at some point that the two credited writers, Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner, alternated episodes each challenging the other with a cliffhanger, although wikipedia and later writing about the story suggests more that Nation wrote the first half and Spooner the second. However one can see, from the shape of the thing, how the idea that they alternated could have gained some credence.

The story has a delight in its crazy aliens which has rarely been matched since, possibly because budget and higher costuming standards/good sense have prohibited it. However this idea of a vast galaxy/universe with a myriad of races is also reminiscent of Flash Gordon and the races and cultures of Mongo.

On the whole I would say that Nation's half of the story is the stronger, which is a shame because the character of pseudo-companion Sara Kingdom, introduced halfway through is one of the story's high points. From reading synopses, I had always got the impression that Sara was something of a caricature of the highly-efficient "kick ass" female soldier (which, frankly, given the time would have been a radical departure for Doctor Who as it stands) but in fact we get someone who is much less of an emotionless automaton, who has a sense of humour, and a genuine connection to the Doctor and Steven (while also being an efficient, capable soldier) and so feels dramatically rounded for an "independent woman" character in a 1960s SciFi show. Of course, some of this may be in Jean Marsh's performance and not in the script itself but I would have loved to see more of her, particularly in a set of episodes where I hadn't begun to tire of the format. In contrast, Nicholas Courtney's first appearance in Doctor Who as Sara's brother, Bret Vyon, is oddly forgettable.

Mavic Chen is another strong point. I kept wondering why he reminded me so much of Tobias Vaughn from The Invasion. There are some obvious similarities: Chen has allied himself with the Daleks, as Vaughn did with the Cybermen and both show awareness of the fragility of their position. However, where Vaughn recognised he was disposable and planned to mitigate the fact, Chen only occasionally shows a glimmering of understanding of quite how precarious his position is. Then I realised that actually they are played by the same actor - demonstrating if nothing else, I suppose, that The Talons of Weng Chiang was not the first time the show chose to indulge in black/yellowface (Chen has a Chinese surname, but his make-up suggests a darker skin).

I also still like the Meddling Monk, but it's undeniable that he isn't as good here as he was in The Time Meddlar. His pettiness has an edge of vindictiveness, not present in the earlier story and his cowardice is too predictable.

We were relieved that three of the episodes of this 12/13 part epic actually exist. They were generally a great deal more watchable than the variety of reconstructions we sourced from Youtube. Of these an animation of the first (zeroth?) Doctor and companion-free episode Mission to the Unknown was the most interesting, and had pretty accomplished animation for a Youtube effort. Although I think it unlikely this will ever be re-appraised as a classic, I do think it a shame that more of it doesn't exist. The episodes that do remain were refreshing and entertaining enough when they did come along that I can imagine the story working quite well in a mindless entertainment sort of a way if there were moving pictures to accompany it. Sadly audio and reconstructions of various kinds only highlight the way much of the story (from the point where the Doctor steals the Taranium core to the point where the daleks recover it) is simply and extended multi-episode chase sequence.
purplecat: A pile of hardback books (General:Books)
Reading: I finally finished Crime and Punishement which was interesting but very monologuey. I've moved on to Unshapely Things by Marc del Franco, which seems quite good but I have a feeling I've exhausted my patience for wizards in garrets brooding about their tragic pasts.

Listening: I just listened to the first of the David Tennant and Catherine Tate Big Finish audios which I enjoyed more than I expected to - although they paired Donna up with another London temp and I actually, on audio, found them quite hard to tell apart.

Watching: A mixture of Wallander, Killjoys, Yuri on Ice and classic Doctor Who. We're doing quite well for choice of viewing options at the moment.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)




I've no pictures from last week so have another from the week before. This is the approach to Housesteads fort from the East. Imagine what that must have been like when both wall and fort walls were more than a couple of feet high!
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)








24 miles. My feet ache terribly however, thanks to the advice of the wonderful [personal profile] fififolle and a small souvenir shop in the Northumberland National Park, they are at least encased in Compseed Plasters. B. was initially deeply sceptical about these, but since one has remained glued to the ball of my foot all day today, he has come around.

No wall to be seen, though there were occasional earthworks, but once we had crossed the M6 and reached Carlisle (which B. keeps referring to as Cardiff), the walk was mostly dominated by the Solway Firth, including the little faux Roman hut at the end of the walk in which you could get the final stamp in your "passport".
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)






18 miles. B's knee started playing up on the downhill and we were worried around Birdoswald that he was going to have to bail - however Ibuprofen and gentler country seemed to, if not sort it out, at least make tomorrow look feasible.

We've had mostly good weather but there was a moment this afternoon with clear blue skies to our left and dark rain clouds to our right where we were having conversations that started "if we're lucky...". We weren't lucky.

24 miles tomorrow, so I can't promise a post since I'm not sure when we will get to Bowness and there will be priorities like acquiring food (which, by the sound of things, could be tricky in Bowness on Solway on a Sunday evening).
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)






11 miles + a 3.5 mile detour to Vindolanda. The feet are much better, though our legs are becoming increasingly stiff. In the above B. can be seen admiring the latrines at Housesteads (particularly impressed by the rainwater sluicing mechanism) and approaching Sycamore Gap star (or so the Internet informs us) of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves though neither of us recalls the film clearly enough to be certain - I'm certainly not certain it starred in the infamous Dover to Nottingham via Hadrian's Wall scene.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)






18 miles. Rained in the morning. We discovered the above stretch of visible Vallum (EDIT: Or possibly the defensive ditch to the north judging by the position of the Military Road in that picture) just as the sun came out - hence B's umbrella. Sunny in the afternoon. Staying at an extremely nice B&B near the Mithraeum at Carrawbrough.

Blisters improved but I still hobble whenever I start walking after a rest.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)








17 miles today, some nice bits but an awful lot of urban cycleway through the suburbs of Newcastle, which is nice enough for a while but becomes a bit dull after six or seven miles. I have also acquired blisters which is a bit of a blow and made particularly annoying by the fact that I've had these boots for years and not had trouble before. I blame my new socks.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)




Staying in a Guest House at Whitley Bay which appears to be mostly under construction (Whitley Bay, not the Guest House). Spanish City (of Dire Straits, Tunnel of Love fame) seems to be mostly gone but it looks like regeneration is in progress. We had a nice locally brewed beer before dinner in an excellent restaurant.

Tomorrow we get the Metro to Wallsend and then the walking starts...

Profile

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
purplecat

September 2017

S M T W T F S
     1 2
3 4 5678 9
10 11 12 131415 16
171819 20212223
24252627282930

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags