purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
Way way back in 1981 the BBC ran a "Five Faces of Doctor Who" season in which they showed one story from each of the first four Doctors (ending with a repeat of Logopolis and Tom Baker regenerating into Peter Davison), except for the third Doctor who got two stories. It's difficult to say how incredibly exciting this was to a young Doctor Who fan at the time. The two stories picked for the third Doctor were The Three Doctors and Carnival of Monsters. I assume they wanted to show both the anniversary multi-doctor story as part of the "five faces" theme but also a more typical story. I never really understood the inclusion of Carnival of Monsters which did not (insofar as one could judge from Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks' The Making of Doctor Who) seem to be a particularly significant Pertwee story, even if one assumes they were restricting themselves to four parters.

I was a little surprised by Tame Layman's enthusiasm for this however. He also had memories of seeing it at some point (possibly also as part of the Five Faces season) and recalled it as being a particularly good Pertwee story. The Teenager was summoned so that she could experience it as well.

I don't know. The story is generally pretty pacey, so it doesn't suffer from the longueurs of some early Doctor Who but I'd say that almost everything happening outside the miniscope on Inter Minor is done in a rather broad and heavy-handed fashion. The CSO, while not the worst Doctor Who has ever committed, is among the dodgier the show has inflicted upon the audience and it seems more obvious than usual that the budget wasn't really stretching to many sets.

The parts of the story set on the SS Bernice are among the best ,in part I would say because both the actors and the producers of sets and costumes were far more comfortable with portraying the 1920s than fantastical machines or aliens. The reveal that actually the first parts of the story are taking place inside some kind of peep show is clever and handled well. Still I'd argue that one good idea doesn't make a solid story.

It's fun but I don't really get the enthusiasm. Still, Tame Layman and Teenager enjoyed it so who am I to judge?
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
A more random than normal Doctor Who picture perhaps, in that the only reason for the choice is that it caught my eye on the bookshelf.



purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
[personal profile] nanila recently did a series of throwback thursday post of herself in unlikely metal contraptions from the 1970s. I can't quite compete but here is a picture of me with my grandmother in a 1970s pushchair.





Though I'm sure my parents put me into all sorts of unlikely high chairs and bouncers, just as [personal profile] nanila's parents did to her.
purplecat: (books)
Reading: Still catching up on fanfic. Currently reading stuff downloaded on Christmas Day - so that will be the Yuletide fics that caught my eye based on fandom and summary - I've not yet got to anything that appeared in a rec post.

Listening: No more Zombies! Run! This is a mixed blessing. I've more time for listening to podcasts, but I'd say the the Verity Podcast remains the only one I'm actively enthusiastic about.

Watching: B. bought a complete Futurama boxset and I bought an The Avengers, Season 4 boxset. G v. enthusiastic about Futurama but B. is away so I'm making her watch The Avengers.
purplecat: (lego robots)
One of the odder things that happened to me at the tail end of last year was the below appearance in the EPSRC's Pioneer Magazine. It was bizarre chiefly because the first I knew about it was when a colleague showed me the article. The text is cut-n-paste from a piece the University Corporate Communications department wrote about me at the time of the first NASA Space Apps challenge (so approx. 5 years ago) and the pictures were lifted from my website. Still, not complaining...



purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I've been following the Moogly Crochet Blog for a while and found myself increasingly taken with the fortnightly squares that were being posted as part of their "crochet-a-long" so, once I had finished B's vast crochet thing, I set about making the 2016 sqaures (this was in August, there was a lot of frantic catch-up crocheting). In theory I was using leftover bits of wool, but I ran out of these about halfway through and had to buy more - this became increasingly stressful since the original supply of wool I had acquired on the cheap because it wasn't being produced any more.

Anyway, the final result is this blanket:





I have already started on the first of the 2017 squares and have bought all the wool except for one colour I am as yet undecided about.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
The Web Planet (as well as being a first Doctor story) was my first venture into the world of fanzines. I was thirteen. I had a typewriter, I think inherited from my grandfather in some way, and I used that, a liberal application of tracing paper and a certain amount of recycling of other Doctor who material via a version of cut-n-paste that involved actual scissors and actual glue, to create a master copy which my mother would then photocopy at work for me and I distributed at school.



This is the cover of the first issue. You can tell by the 1 in the top corner which is doing its best to be sparkly despite the limitations of pen, ink and photocopiers.


The first issue contains an editorial, a word search, a shamelessly copied and unattributed Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett comic (bad baby purplecat!), short articles on Monsters (Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and the Master) and UNIT and a Quiz, plus a bonus pullout leaflet listing all the Doctors and companions.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Mostly fanfic at the moment. There is such a slew of challenges and events around Christmas that I get horribly back-logged. I've just finished all the [livejournal.com profile] public_call stories and am about to start on the [livejournal.com profile] primeval_denial secret santas. Then there is a vast pile of yuletide stories to read.

Listening: I finished season 5 of Zombies! Run! on Monday and season 6 won't arrive until April, though I am beginning to think their universe is becoming a little over-complex - they have a lot of maybe cures and possibly immune people around.

Watching: We've been watching some extremely faithful adaptations of the Tintin comics on Netflix. Obviously these retain both the strengths and weaknesses of the originals, but the art remains generally charming (give or take some, in retrospect, unfortunate choices about how to portray certain ethnicities) and the stories, if somewhat meandering, are at least pacey and full of excitement.

The Lost

Jan. 3rd, 2017 03:16 pm
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Class)
It's sufficiently long since I saw The Lost that the details have somewhat blurred in my memory. However, if memory serves, it contains most of the strengths and the flaws of the series as a whole. On the plus side it is not afraid to explicitly move the status quo along by redefining Miss Quill's role and status, clearing away the antagonists from this series and rearranging the relationships of the core cast without allowing them to settle into any kind of cosy friendship. It also manages a good exploration of the episode's theme of loss which ties into the series themes of growing up and afterlives all framed in terms that focus on the characters while making the SF elements central to the action. The sacrificial love interest bucked all expectations by not being a sacrificial love interest, but this does make one wonder even more why he doesn't receive equal billing to the rest of the cast in the opening credits.

Spoilers and so forth )

I don't love this series, but I'll happily watch another season. It has a distinct identity from Doctor Who and the potential, and I think ability, to do different and interesting things with that identity. I hope it receives a second season.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Class)
Oh, of course, one of Class's themes is interpretations of Heaven and Hell across cultures. In some ways I was surprised I hadn't spotted this earlier, both with the set-up of the Cabinet of Souls, and some of the conversation April and Ram had in the realm of the Shadow Kin, but it wasn't until this episode that I really cottoned onto the fact, perhaps because it is a less obvious theme to explore in a drama aimed squarely at teenagers which is otherwise mostly about growing up.

More, including spoilers for both this episode and next, under the cut )

I think it benefits Class as a whole to demonstrate that its stories need not necessarily revolve around the school and the teenagers. Given Katherine Kelly's Quill is one of the best characters in the series it was good to have something that explicitly centred upon her and developed the character. There are a lot of nice moments in The Metaphysical Engine but at the end of the day it felt a little more contrived than many of the other stories.
purplecat: (books)
Reading: End of the World Blues by Jon Courtney Grimwood. I thought I had a handle on this - crime and passion in Japanese with maybe super-powered incidental characters but its just taken a left turn into a castle at the end of time so, who knows what will happen next? Well written but I suspect it may turn out to be a little grim, over all, for my tastes.

Listening: Listened to Welcome to Night Vale's Sandstorm episodes which were, as [personal profile] isis has mentioned, very good. But I think that's me done with Night Vale. They seem like a good place to step off.

Watching: Watched The Imitation Game last night which was an oddly frustrating experience. I know just enough about Turing's time at Bletchley to recognise that while the basic events were present and correct, they were being dramatised almost to the point of falsehood, but didn't have the knowledge to specifically critique what was being presented. However the framing device in which Turing relates the details of his war work to a cop as part of playing an imitation game is both laughably unlikely and makes no sense at all in the context of Turing's actual imitation game - I'm sure on the page it looked like a clever device, but the problem is only works at the most superficial level and the film is trying to be better than that.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
The King's Demons is an odd little story. It's always felt like something of an afterthought to me, though I've never been able to pin down why. I think it may be that, even at only two parts, it feels somewhat padded as if there isn't really enough material to fill even 50 minutes.

One of the most interesting things about what story we have is that this is one where the Doctor never really does succeed in convincing the nominal good guys (in the form of the Fitzwilliam family) that he is on their side. Everyso often he appears to have the situation under control only for them to spiral back into suspicion and belief in the Master's lies.

Speaking of the Master, I knew he was in the story and thought Sir Gilles Estram was fairly recognisable as Anthony Ainley. However, Tame Layman was genuinely surprised by his appearance which, I suppose, just goes to show the power of a fake beard and wig.

It's not a good companion story. Poor old Turlough is side-lined for most of it and locked up in a dungeon, while Tegan just follows the Doctor around while whining about the whole situation. This did not improve Tame Layman's low opinion of her.

I think ultimately this feels like a tale that is just not really that interested in the Doctor's companions or in its supporting characters. It is really only interested in delivering a little bit of, I would say fairly heavily interpreted history about King John (while I'm aware that there is considerable historical debate about the extent to which John was incompetent and/or evil, I think it is stretching it to claim he was "enthusiastic" about Magna Carta), and introducing Kamelion the shape-shifting robot. Everything else pretty much just blurs into people running around a castle being confused about things.

This is he least successful of the Davison "historical" two-parters (using the term loosely enough to cover The Awakening as well as Black Orchid). It doesn't have the BBC's normal lavish delight in creating a period setting, and feels underwritten. It's not bad exactly, there's nothing particularly cringe-worthy going on and it keeps moving, but it's mostly very forgettable.

Detained

Dec. 13th, 2016 09:15 pm
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Class)
Class seems to be at its best in tighty focused episodes which are as much about the characters' emotional lives as they are about the science fiction. I would rate Night-visiting and Detained as the two best episodes of the first season and they both share this structure.

Locking all your characters in a room with no outside interaction is a device that can work well in a story. It is tempting to compare this to Edge of Destruction (having watched that recently) where the original Tardis crew find themselves trapped inside the Tardis. One of the clever things, arguably, about Edge of Destruction is that there is no alien threat, though the flipside of that is that the story fails to explain the characters' somewhat histrionic behaviour. Detained on the other hand has a clear external threat which, moreover, makes them feel angry and requires them to speak the truth in order to escape. As a device to scrape away the veneer of friendship in the group and expose the underlying tensions it is somewhat heavy-handed, but effective for all that.

Detained's position in the season is very obvious. Having, up until this point, built fragile alliances among its teenage protagonists, Class now shatters them just in time for the looming series finale. It's a strong episode but possibly a little heavy-handed in its execution.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
A few years ago I got given a set of Doctor Who postcards for my birthday and I've never really been sure what to do with them. However [personal profile] alatefeline suggested I could offer to send one to anyone interested. They are all photos from New Doctor Who and predominantly feature stills or publicity images from Matt Smith's first two seasons. The rest are mainly focused on monsters from NuWho rather than the Ninth or Tenth doctors and their companions. You can see a couple of examples here and here.

Anyway, if you'd like to be sent one leave a comment or send me a message with a number between 1 and 100 and an address where you'd like it to be sent. Comments on LJ and DW will be screened, but I don't think I can do that on Facebook. I'll try to get them sent out in time for the Christmas post.

NB. If the number you ask for has already gone, I'll simply pick the next postcard along in the pack.

NBB. Offer open to friends of friends, family, random hangers-on. Until they are all gone, I'm happy to send to anyone.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
The Keys of Marinus, much like the later Key to Time sequence sets the Doctor and his companions off on a quest to gather a set of objects from different locations. However where the Key to Time sequences manages to drag this out over a whole season, The Keys of Marinus uses a mere six episodes. I think the story (particularly given the slower pacing in general of 1960s TV) benefits greatly from this, though I am slightly surprised that the show's budget managed to stretch to a new set of sets for each week.

There is a lot of really nice stuff in The Keys of Marinus. The story's format means we are shown a planet with diverse locations and communities (something very rare in Doctor Who). The show uses the episodic nature of the story to play with genre as well as location, so we get the fairly traditionally SF-nal Brains of Morphoton, the horror of the Screaming Jungle and a court room drama/murder mystery in the City of Millenius. The Snows of Terror manages to combine the kind of wilderness complete with psychotic madman genre with a tale of mystical knights guarding a mythical treasure in a cave full of traps which is pretty good going for 25 minutes of television produced in 1964. It all benefits from the knowledge that if you aren't much taken with what is happening this week then something completely different will be along next week.

It's not without its weirdness though. "Only Arbitan could brief someone on the location of all the traps," says Darrius in the Screaming Jungle except that Arbitan has conspicuously failed to do any such thing, not even warning his daughter of the deception involving the fake key. Arbitan seems to have access to technology no one else on the planet is even aware exists (most notably the travel dials) and communication between communities appears to be non-existent, even though the general level of technology certainly seems to be high enough to allow radio.

In terms of the development of Doctor Who, it is interesting that the Doctor agrees to go on the quest fairly quietly (albeit grumpily and under duress when Arbitan seals him off from the Tardis). The keys are needed to activate the Conscience of Marinus (a machine that controls free will). This is precisely the sort of thing later Doctors would have railed against at length and it is clear, certainly in the final episode, that the Doctor doesn't think the Conscience is a particularly good thing and he's not at all upset that their quest to reactivate it ultimately fails. But this all happens without the fierce moralising we would later see. One feels mostly that he doesn't approve but thinks this society is, broadly speaking, not his problem so if they are going to blackmail him into reactivating the thing he might as well get on with it. He's more annoyed about being blackmailed, to be honest, than the dubious morality of limiting the free will of an entire planet of people.

The alien Voord are pronounced Vord. This came as a massive shock, I'd always assumed that it was closer to Vood. For a 1960s Doctor Who monster they also look pretty impressive.

I'm not sure I'd describe this story as under-rated, it just seems to be one that isn't discussed very often which is a shame. Susan doesn't get a great deal to do, but all the other regulars get a chance to shine. Everything moves along at a surprisingly quick pace and the sets and costumes look good. Some of the ideas and plots in the individual episodes are genuinely interesting and clever (some less so) but if you wanted to pick an early Doctor Who episode to watch, particularly if you were not looking for a big event episode or something featuring famous monsters, then you could do a lot worse than this.
purplecat: (Christmas)




My first camera had quite a stiff button for taking photos which meant for years about 50% of my shots were blurred. My first attempt at photographing a Christmas tree was clearly no exception.

Linky links

Dec. 6th, 2016 09:09 pm
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
A long time since I posted one of these, some old links...




Do not turn Brexit into Britain's version of Bush v Gore

Interesting comparison noting that attempts to involve the courts in the decision about whether or not parliament must vote on the triggering of Article 50 inevitable force the courts to make a political decision.

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Determine Which Shakespeare Play You Should See First With This Flowchart

Fun infographic/flowchart.

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My Dartmoor Walks: Friday 14th October - Fernworthy Reservoir Uncovered

Lovely photographs of two bridges, three stone circles and misc other stone things revealed by unusually low water levels at Fernworthy Reservoir on Dartmoor.

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The cult of Wetherspoons: why does the pub chain inspire such devotion?

It must be said I generally consider Wetherspoons' to be samey but reliable, so it is interesting to read this discussion highlighting aspects such as the lack of territorial locals and to learn about the carpets!

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Robotics team program new Tate Liverpool art installation - University of Liverpool News - University of Liverpool

Several people I work with were involved with this, including the boss! By some bizarre piece of circular acquaintance I'll also ran a Lego Rover workshop associated with it last weekend, though because the Tate asked the Girl Geeks who asked our Outreach Team and not because I work with the people involved!

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Donald Trump and the rise of white identity in politics

Interesting article that attempts (not entirely successfully) to disentangle the concept of a sense of white identity from racial prejudice (in, for instance, the form of ideas about white supremacy). One is left with the feeling that there is a whole lot more going on here than is touched upon in the article, but its clearly an area that is likely to become more important.

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Dad Spends $1500 On 3-Year-Old’s Halloween Costume; Recreates Scenes From New Wonder Woman Movie | fulltimephotographer

This is actually pretty cool and the finished results look great. While $1500 seems like a lot to spend on a three year-old's halloween costume I don't suppose the resulting Internet coverage has done her Dad's career any harm!

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Fact-checking Clinton and Trump is not enough

Interesting, if only for the analysis of how framing and delivery can influence our perception of the truth of a politician's statements.

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Facebook's problem is more complicated than fake news

Interesting counter to the idea that social media filter bubbles are responsible to the diametric assumptions and worldviews people seen to have.

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The surprising origins of 'post-truth' – and how it was spawned by the liberal left

Interesting article that seeks to (briefly and therefore somewhat superficially) trace the lineage of "post-truth" from the advent of post-modernism, through the dot-com boom and the rise of the spin doctor to our current reality.

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Why Trump is right, and wrong, about killing off the TPP

This article argues that recent "free trade" agreements have in fact not been free trade agreements. I'm not qualified to judge, but would be interested in [livejournal.com profile] philmophlegm's input.

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New study indicates Moon's formation was more energetic than previously thought.

I'm vaguely interested in the puzzle that is why the Moon is the way it is, not for any specific reason just that something that feels like it ought to be well-understood by now, really isn't.

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Deep in the Amazon jungle, Brazil's 'hidden cities' are in crisis

"The “deep” Amazon is now surprisingly urbanised yet its cities are largely invisible in academic and political debates. In the 21st century, it is generally taken for granted that towns and cities are connected by roads. However, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas almost a million people live in dozens of roadless cities of 3,000 to 70,000 residents. These settlements are wholly reliant on rivers."

I just had no idea. The rest of the article is fairly obvious once you grasp that fact, though.

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