purplecat: (General:Books)
Reading: Still Crime and Punishment. I have reached part 2. I'm finding Raskolnikov, the protagonist, somewhat irritating though, unlike Anna Karenina, I assume this is deliberate and much of the book is intended to be a study of poor decision making, its causes and effects.

Listening: I've come late to The Ood Cast, currently in a fore-shortened form as "The Ood One Out". It is a little self-satisfied, but it is interesting to hear a fan podcast where most of the participants are professionals and so mingle skits and songs with episode discussion. I don't think I shall go back and listen to the back catalog, as I have with some other podcasts, but I've been happy enough to listen along to the Oods reactions to the latest season.

Watching: B. is away again and G. and I do not currently have a watching project. So there hasn't been a lot of watching this week.
purplecat: (Lego Robots)
From a display at the Robot Exhibition at the Science Museum.



purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
This was our second venture into Season 7 and another impressive story.

Stretched over 7 episodes, it is another story that is much better than it has any right to be given its length - and I'm writing that so frequently that I'm beginning to wonder if Doctor Who actually works better when trying to fill 3 hours or more than when it is aiming for around 2 1/2 hours or whether it is the simple novelty of having so many episodes to fill that makes writers think more broadly. I mean it still has the basic structure of set-up - solve incidental problems - resolution but the incidental problems seem to work better as discreet chunks that are interesting in their own right.

The episodes which deal with the Silurian's attempts to start a worldwide pandemic are particularly effective, and a sequence I recall vividly from the novelisation. This is several years before Survivors but seems to be tapping into the same zeitgeist. That said, tame layman had a number of uncomplimentary things to say about quarantine procedures and one can't help feeling the whole thing hinges on several people in authority behaving very foolishly at critical moments.

Fulton Mackay's turn as the weasely Dr. Quinn is also impressive. The audience perception of him naturally progresses from the idea that he is one of the more reasonable members of the research centre hierarchy to the realisation that he is essentially ambitiously self-serving and covering this up with an air of geniality.

On the downside the idea that people are overcome by the race memory of Silurians, which is potentially powerful and atmospheric is more or less abandoned after the first couple of episodes. It is used to justify the presence of UNIT but not really pursued thereafter. I recall more being made of it in the novelisation.

Caroline John continues to make Liz an impressive companion. She demonstrates how a scientist-companion can be used as a person to whom work and responsibility can be delegated by the Doctor. I'm increasingly bemused by the idea that the powers-that-be thought she was not a success as a companion since the script doesn't seem to have any trouble with giving her stuff to do while maintaining the Doctor's overall authority.

Doctor Who would be a very different thing if it had continued down the path set out in season 7. I think you would need to be a much better analyst of media trends than I am to predict whether it could have had the longevity it has enjoyed with this more serious and adult-oriented format but, by its own lights, I would say it was a resounding success.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)




It is difficult to explain how incredibly amazing this book was when I first randomly purchased it from The Children's Book Shop on Oxford's Broad Street circa 1980. The truly incredible part about it was that it contained summaries of every Doctor Who story up to Sarah's departure in The Hand of Fear. I spent hours pouring over those summaries which were the only real access one had to information about those episodes though the book recommends to the reader, at the end, the range of Target novelisations of which there were "27 in print and more in preparation".
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
People compare Mark Gatiss who stories to the Pertwee era surprisingly often to my mind. I think he's on record as saying it's his favourite era of the show and it's true his stories tend to have a straight up monster or villain but the Pertwee era is typified, I would say, by the presence of overtly political themes (absent from Gatiss') work and a fairly sparse and functional approach to setting where Gatiss' (possibly because of his interest in Victoriana) tends towards the Gothic. In fact, apart from the fact Gatiss doesn't borrow from Horror tropes, I would have said that the Hinchcliffe era was a better point of comparison.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, no matter what the rest of the Internet might think, I can't really imagine Empress of Mars in the Pertwee era.

More under the cut )

This is, I get the impression, the episode that Gatiss has always wanted to write and I think it shows. It is having a lot of fun, telling a ripping yarn, and manages to feel both like a Doctor Who story and like a Scientific Romance.
purplecat: (dinosaur)
We were supposed to be going to Bristol Comic Con but they cancelled the con. So instead we were let loose on the unsuspecting Bristol countryside.





More pictures under the cut )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Still Crime and Punishment which should be no surprise. However I had anticipated being further in than Chapter 5 by this point.

Listening: Stuff you Missed in History Class on William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman. So far he's invented a lie detector and is investigating women's emotional responses to bondage - suddenly Wonder Woman's lasso takes on a whole new dimension. He appears to have been both a feminist of sorts* and a polygamist. The former of which is, I gather, very evident in the early Wonder Woman comics (particularly his belief that the world would be a better place if run by women) the latter somewhat less so.

Watching: We have discovered Stanger Things. Very reminiscent of E.T. (it opens with a D&D game, is set in the 1980s and much of it is short from a child height viewpoint (a characteristic of E.T. according to B.))

*neither of his partners got suitable credit for their, in some cases considerable, input into his work.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
While I was in Texas an old friend and his wife took me out for the day including a trip around Texas' Capitol





Piccies Under the Cut )
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
Large Image under the Cut )

Answer: No.

From the early days of the hiatus/wilderness years/whatever you want to call them...
purplecat: (arthuriana)
It was the end of my first year at university. I went on holiday in a ramshackle minibus with an assorted bunch of Arthurians. The sun shone. We went south.



Lizard Point, Cornwall
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Reading: Crime and Punishment - I've just finished chapter 2. This could take a while.

Listening: Of late, I've been frustrated by podcasters' apparent inability to check basic facts. There was the episode of Doctor Who:The Writer's Room in which one of the hosts discussed the trial of James II by parliament (comparing it to the trial of the War Lord in The War Games). Then there was the episode of Podcast Detected on the theme of "What we've learned about the UK by playing Zombies! Run!" which, among other things, discussed the extensive network of government run CCTV cameras that monitor our fields and country roads and the lack of swearing among members of our armed forces.

Watching: Almost exclusively Doctor Who of various forms. Need to find something to vary the diet.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
Hmmm... The Lie of the Land was better than The Pyramid at the End of the World. In fact given endings are so much harder than beginnings, I'd say it did a pretty good job of tying up the "Monk Trilogy". Ultimately though, I think it had the same problem that The Pyramid at the End of the World had, namely that the Monks are not really a Science Fictiony baddy at all but more a Fairytale baddy and the meshing of the Fairytale baddy with the pretty straight-up SF presentation doesn't really work.

I call the Monks a "fairytale" baddy mostly because, as I observed of The Pyramid at the End of the World, before they can take over the planet they require an explicit though ill-defined bargain to be struck, but also because here they are ultimately defeated by the magic of love. Both of these are more about symbolism than physical reality. I will note that the resolution in The Lie of the Land has a better explanation than the initial bargain - the idea that they are defeated by a concept that is both about love but also as fictional as their own narrative - and that the whole thing works considerably better than the Tenth Doctor's much-maligned Tinkerbell-Jesus moment at the end of Last of the Time Lords of which it was very reminiscent. However this still feels a lot more like fairytale logic than SF logic. I don't think it helps that the Monk's nature, motivation and powers are all exceptionally hazy. In The Pyramid at the End of the World they can pluck fighter planes from the sky and nuclear submarines from the sea and yet here, once the false memories are removed, they are fairly easily defeated (or at least scared off) by a few soldiers. If the Monk Trilogy had been trying to evoke an atmosphere similar, say, to Sapphire and Steel then this might have worked but its trappings are all modern-day (SF) mystery/thriller (Extremis, The Pyramid at the End of the World) and near future dystopia (The Lie of the Land) and I don't think the story quite earned breaking the mould of those genres with its underlying explanations.

I really like this Tardis crew, and their interactions. Once again, I liked what we saw here of Bill and Nardole working together. I wasn't so keen on the Doctor testing Bill, but the fact that she more or less accepted his explanation of his behaviour as justified sort of brought me round. However, I couldn't quite escape the feeling that the story had just wasted 10-15 minutes on trolling the viewers about when the regeneration was going to happen. I thought the scene with Missy in the vault, and the different ways the Doctor and Bill reacted to her solution were great. I thought Bill hand-cuffing the Doctor up at the end and getting on with what needed to be done was also great, but a lot of this is about the characters and the actors and not really about the story construction.

On a story level, The Lie of the Land works better than Pyramid (though I did wonder why everyone was wearing dark colours all of a sudden), but I think it would ultimately have been stronger if we hadn't had a fake regeneration half-way through, a fake reset at the end (I know it's a Doctor Who handwave that humanity tends to forget invasions but it was treated particularly dismissively here and one of the things I wholeheartedly preferred about RTD's version of Doctor Who was he was absolutely prepared to run with the population of Earth remembering alien invasions) and if someone had put a bit more thought into what the Monks actually are (and why they are called Monks once taken out of the context of the Vatican in Extremis) and how they work.

I want to like series 10 more than I am, because I think they have finally got the characterisation of the Twelfth Doctor right and I think the combination of Bill and Nardole as companions works really well, but so far I've found it hard to get completely behind any of the stories. This trilogy in the middle feels particularly weak. I suspect some of this is simply because it is attempting to be a trilogy. Ultimately, I think having three linked episodes in the middle of a season is an interesting idea, but it hasn't really worked. I'm not sure if that is because of its placement in the season, or just because coordinating three different writers across three different stories introduces a new level of complexity into maintaining a consistent plot logic and presentation of your monster/villain.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
I have to agree with [personal profile] londonkds' assessment of this episode. It was clearly required to get events from point A to point B and it did so competently enough, but the scaffolding is a little too visible (particularly the somewhat bizarre set-up and protocols of the bio-hazard lab).

I'm in two minds about whether the overall structure, in which the audience is aware almost from the get-go that events in Turmezistan are a red herring. It is very rare that the viewer is significantly ahead of the Doctor in understanding a situation. On the one hand, it ups the tension as we wait for the Doctor to figure it out but on the other it drains the tension out of the suggestion that world war three might be looming.

I very rarely opt for head-canon when explaining a story, but I'm headcanoning here that whatever the Monks mean by "pure consent" is untranslatable into English. While Bill's motivation for giving consent is clearly different to that of the U.N. Secretary General or the three generals, it is not given out of any kind of pure love for the Monks and is clearly given in the expectation that if the Doctor remains alive he can somehow fix the situation. I actually think the nature of the Monks both here and in The Lie of the Land owes more to the fairytale tropes that Moffat was trying to evoke in his early years as show-runner than more recent monsters. The Monks require you to make a symbolic bargain with them the terms of which are unclear. I may write more on this when I get around to reviewing The Lie of the Land.

I also wasn't entirely convinced by the speed and readiness with which everyone took the Monks' assertion that the end of the world was nigh at face value.

There are some great visuals in this story and some great ideas, but I was left feeling that not quite enough thought had gone into actually linking everything together into a coherent whole. It's construction was workmanlike rather than actually good. I'd say it was the weakest story so far this season.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
It was interesting watching Planet of the Daleks so soon after The Daleks, because the one is so reminiscent of the other. There is the mysterious forest, the first appearance of the Thals since 1963, the somewhat random companion romance that ultimately goes nowhere, the final attack on the Dalek city...

Planet of the Daleks packs more incident into its 6 episodes than The Daleks does into its 7, but I'm not sure it actually benefits from the fact. While The Daleks moves more slowly, its focus on the character interactions of the leads (understandable this early in the show), plus its design strengths makes it feel more special than Planet.

Not that Planet of the Daleks is bad. The Doctor and Jo are charming to watch together. It may not be doing the kind of character development that The Daleks does, but it is still a well-observed excellently portrayed friendship. On the design front, the Spiridon's metallic blue furry blankets have a certain je ne sais quois. The sets throughout are competent and mostly good looking (give or take the eyes of the creatures on the night time plain of stones), but nothing has the flair of the sets in The Daleks. The story, as noted, keeps things moving - so much so that it feels almost like several different stories strung together (Jo surviving in the jungle, Distrust from the Thals, Night on the Plain of Stones, Final assault on the Daleks) but if you aren't concentrating too hard it is pacey and entertaining.

The abortive romance between Latep and Jo is less convincing than that between Ganatus and Barbara. Latep is far more overt about his feelings, but this actually (on such short acquaintance) makes them less believable and it seems entirely unsurprising when Jo politely brushes him off. This is the story before The Green Death so one assumes it was intended to be a kind of foreshadowing, but the execution feels clumsy.

Planet of the Daleks may not be a classic but it's a very solid slice of 1970s Doctor Who with, in particular, great moments for the third Doctor and Jo.

Extremis

Jun. 4th, 2017 09:16 am
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
I really liked Extremis even though I think, as a story, it is a lot less well constructed than either Knock! Knock! or Oxygen.

Is it too late to worry about spoilers? I don't know. )

After two episodes I felt were well-constructed but ultimately a little unambitious, I liked an episode which might have been rather messier but had a lot of interesting ideas baked into it and which executed what is, let's face it, a fairly standard SF trope without falling into some of the pitfalls of that trope.
purplecat: (books)
Reading: Moved on from James Tiptree (though I liked the later stories in the collection more than I liked a lot of the ones in the middle) to a very battered copy of The Steerswoman which I'm enjoying a whole lot more despite the fact that generic fantasy settings (or at least generic with a twist, on the assumption that the picture on the cover is a spoiler for a twist) are not really my thing.

Listening: Slowly listening my way through A History of the World in 100 Objects. It isn't quite what I was expecting (though I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting). I think, as it has moved into recorded history, I was expecting a more linked narrative to emerge, rather than it to maintain it's focus on brief snapshots of time. I'm also not terribly enamoured on the random commentary by contemporary people with, on occasion, only tangential relevance to the object or the history. Overall though, it's a Radio 4 program that definitely benefits from being listened to in order some time after the fact (which, I have discovered, many don't - or at least don't really work from me in that context).

Watching: Almost exclusively watching new and old Doctor Who at the moment. B. and G. are watching Attack on Titan but I find it a little blood-thirsty for my taste so have generally been absenting myself.

Profile

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

July 2017

S M T W T F S
       1
23456 7 8
910 11 121314 15
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags