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Thread: Who?

  1. #51
    Ginger Yellow's Avatar
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    Who?

    We know lots about volcanoes now, and we still build towns near them. Fertile soil and all that. Anyway, it was much, much better than the first one, although there were the inevitable cheesy moments. Still far from convinced about Tate, though.

  2. #52

    Who?

    And, Rogin, Vesuvius itself had been dormant for a long long time before that 1st century eruption. But they certainly knew about the concept of a volcano already. It took me just two minutes to check, and Virgil wrote about an Etna eruption (and he lived 1st century BC). Tsk, BBC researchers...

    It kind of disproportionately annoyed me too, because they used that just for an unconvincing little moment about the inventing of the word volcano.

  3. #53

    Who?

    Why was that unconvincing? Vulcan is the source of the word volcano, surely. Just from other Romans, rather than ones in Pompeii.

    I once heard an estimate of 7 days to evacuate Napoli, if Versuvius goes up again. Current vulcanology might give a few hours warning, max. Knowledge of volcanoes doesn't prevent people living near them.

  4. #54
    Guest

    Who?

    A really good one, I thought. A very cleverly constructed story, developing quickly without any magic RTD leaps and intertwining nicely with real history, in terms of both the eruption and the phenomenon of cities in thrall to local soothsayers. Catherine Tate was fine, although I don't think she should play Donna as a Cockney, because when she gets animated she turns into Lauren. My only cringes were at the stupid coda, and the miscasting of Phil Davis, who just wasn't crazy enough at the start or angry enough at the end.

    Good running gag with Latin phrases, too.

  5. #55

    Who?

    "Unconvincing" because I could see through the cracks of the programme to the writers trying to be "clever" at that point. ("Did you know the word volcano comes from the Roman god Vulcan?" "Ooh, let's put that in, let's put that in." "But Etna?" "Oh who cares, it'll sound good.")

    But, forgetting that, I prefer the episodes that have a bit of pause for thought. That is often best found in two-parters admittedly. These all-action ones feel very rushed, with no real time for character development.

    And a lot of it is just David Tennant running around doing his annoying gurning and tics. (Ok, I like him less and less as the Doctor as it goes on...) It is a worrying thing for my liking of Doctor Who when the best episodes of the last series (by some distance) were one where Tennant hardly appeared except on a DVD recording, and a two-parter where he played a schoolteacher for most of the duration (showing he can actually underplay a little if he tries...)

  6. #56

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    Who?

    Finally, caught this one on BBC3 (we were on Filey prom during the first showing). All a bit breathless, a few rough edges and moments to wince at, and some largely superfluous monsters, but otherwise, exactly the kind of inventive, emotional, thought-provoking drama that shoud be shown on Saturday evenings and at which classic Who stories used to excel. And as a bonus, I hardly noticed Murray Gold's incidental music, which was sweet relief.

  7. #57

    Who?

    Wow, having had a reject Sarah Jane Adventures script, now we get one dusted off from season three of the original series. I kept expecting Peter Purves to wander into shot.

    Still, I rather like Hartnell's third year, so thought that was enjoyable. It's not going to win any end-of-season polls, though.

  8. #58

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    Who?

    Another solid enough effort... engaging, nicely themed, some heavy cliches offset by moments of real inspiration, and the whole thing directed with great aplomb by Graeme Harper, who seems to be finding his feet in the new series. Catherine Tate is improving by the episode but by very slight increments, and I think she's hit the glass ceiling of being Catherne Tate. David Tennant lapsed into a few too many of his 'loud' moments, but otherwise is comfortable, and at times pretty compelling, in the lead role.

    Next up - the typically 'problematic' first two-parter of the series.

  9. #59

    Who?

    I preferred that one - at least it was off Earth for a change. I was beginning to wonder if the Doctor had been confined to Earth (as I'm sure I've read he once was in an early series).

  10. #60
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    Who?

    I know that one wasn't actually set in Cardiff, but I think the Ood were an allegory for the Welsh.

  11. #61
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    Who?

    When the head of the armed security had his cap on, it was like looking at Chick D.

  12. #62

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    Who?

    I was watching a short preview of Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky on E4 the other night. It featured an interview with lead actress Sally Hawkins, and I thought what a wonderful Donna she would have made, had the production team had the balls to go for a competent, serious actress rather than miring themselves in the rank juices of celebrity casting.

  13. #63

    Who?

    A pretty good one, I think, by what looks like a promising writer. But the acting is getting steadily worse with each fresh piece of casting, meaning that there may be a limit to how good Dr Who can now be.

    Also, the Ood Song, which was in itself a good idea, was let down horribly by being, I assume, composed by Murray "Schlock" Gold. I think they actually sang "Amen" at one point.

    They should have gone for Country. "Will the circle be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by." Except that's the wrong way round.

  14. #64
    Guest

    Who?

    Solid and unspectacular, I thought, which is better than embarrassing and silly of course. Even though it was relatively simply plotted I still couldn't give you a complete precis of the story.

  15. #65

    Who?

    I thought the Ood episode skirted around sentimentality very dangerously and it also proved that Catherine Tate can take moments of tenderness and transform them into giant mountains of cowpat. She's a human variant of the London Olympics logo - defenders harp on about her qualities, but when it comes down to it, she's a blight on the sensibilities. At times, totally unwatchable. And I echo Wyatt's comment on the music: if you're going to have an Ood Song, or indeed any song which becomes a pivotal point of the plot, it'd better be pretty damn good. And it wasn't. Sometimes, Gold's music manages to hit the spot when the episode becomes like a huge, frantic chase sequence, matching the pace, but it shits on everything else. You can't avoid it.

    A case in point: last night's episode, which was better than last week's. Up pops Freema Agyeman's Martha and there's that fucking horrible theme again which sounds like a Victorian waif, stricken with ague, wandering the misty streets of Dickensian London. Fuck off, Gold.

    Anyway, it was a good gallop of an episode. Lively and funny, building up to a fair hysterical cliff-hanger ending. It was also strange to see (and hear) good old Christopher Ryan as the Sontaran leader. It's silly, but I can't get Mike the Cool Person out of my head, and his voice just made me feel that Vyvian was about to break through the wall and headbutt the shortarse warrior battalion one by one. But still, an example of how well Dr. Who works when the elements all come together nicely. And even Tate was tolerable.

    How good Saturday night entertainment should be.

  16. #66
    Ginger Yellow's Avatar
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    Who?

    Definitely the best so far, but I'm not sure why nobody thought to bash the car window in.

  17. #67

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    Who?

    I have to admit that, while I was watching 'The Sontaran Strategem', I couldn't help but draw the conclusion that if it, rather than 'Aliens of London', had been the new series' first two-parter, we wouldn't have got as far as series four. Looking back, however, there was a certain lightness of touch to enjoy), albeit tainted by genereous helpings of Russell Davies' cloying homespun sentimentality. The exchange between Christopher Ryan's Sontaran general and the pair of UNIT soldiers was particularly adroit. The Sontarans are potentially the most two-dimensional, the most 'Star Trek' of classic Who adversaries and it seemed a sensible decision to give them dialogue that sent up their warlike philosophy, rather than treating it too earnestly.

    One thing I will say, which I wouldn't have countenanced in the last series, is that Freema Agyeman was far and away the best thing in the episode.

  18. #68
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    Who?

    The Sontarans seemed more wannabe Douglas Adams than wannabe Star Trek to me.

  19. #69

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    Who?

    I found it all a little dull.

    Big corporation creates a variation on a good selling product, with the intention of using said product to kill as many people as possible.

    Weren't we here three weeks ago? Haven't we done this theme four or five times since it came back?

    New ideas. Please.

    Still, wasn't as bad as the Ood episode (which did nothing for me, for reasons I can't puit my finger on). But it was written by Helen Raynor, who wrote last year's Dalek two-parter, which went massively downhill in the second part, so I'm not holding out much hope.

    (For what it's worth I thought the Pompeii episode was brilliant, and I'm like Donna most of the time, as long as she's not shouting or blarting)

  20. #70
    Guest

    Who?

    What's the back drop to Rose coming back - seen her twice now - I think. Next weeks looks like the big talking point, will be interested to hear how it all came about...

  21. #71

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    Who?

    I suppose someone has to say something about 'The Poison Sky', and I suppose that someone might as well be me, though frankly I'm too throughly dispirited to come up with much beyond "I know it's science fiction in an alternative universe, but where was the Rattigan Academy supposed to be, exactly? At the top of Primrose Hill?"

    Actually, since he's got his head together and is consequently on good form this week, I'll let Lawrence 'mad Larry McMad from Madshire' Miles explain in his inimitable and eloquent way what went so very wrong.

    Get in there quick, it won't be up for long.

  22. #72
    Guest

    Who?

    I think he's (eventually) made a very good point there about the dearth of surprises in this series. This run isn't bad, it's just . . . inert. I happily watched this week's without throwing anything at the screen but it didn't fire anything in me at any point. And yeah, yet another "oh, er, the Doctor's got a big gizmo that can blow all the baddies up, will that do?" ending.

  23. #73
    Ginger Yellow's Avatar
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    Who?

    Yeah, the surprises point is definitely valid, although I'd quibble with his "cult of the story arc" analysis. He seems to be arguing from an assumption that perfect sci-fi should be like the Simpsons, where each episode stands on its own and has little if any impact on the continuity of the series. Obviously this allows for more "surprises" than series driven by story arcs, but it's far from the only means. He criticises BSG and Buffy, for instance, for resorting to "big twist" story arc surprises, and certainly they play a part. But there are regular surprises in BSG that aren't twist driven but instead come from characters you thought you knew displaying unknown qualities under stress, or from unexpected treatment of a given issue. Buffy, I'll grant, suffered more from the imperatives of the story arc.

    But the problem with New Who isn't the arc - season one did just fine, and two was nearly as good. The problem, as Miles identifies, is that they just can't be bothered and they seem to think the bugs are features.

  24. #74

    Who?

    He seems to be arguing from an assumption that perfect sci-fi should be like the Simpsons, where each episode stands on its own and has little if any impact on the continuity of the series.

    Even the Simpsons lost it after a while.

    I do agree with the 'inert' argument. This new series is still highly watchable, but it does have a loose, slightly flaccid feel to it, as if the surge of energy and undertow of momentum some episodes had isn't there. The production values still hold up and Tennant remains the confidently cocksure centre of it all, which helps a lot. But, could do better...

    On a slightly different tangent, I was watching the Dr. Who Confidential on the making of the Sontaran episodes - Jeez, hasn't Christopher Ryan aged? Time ravages us all, I know, but all memories of the bullish, smarm-machine style of Mike, The Cool Guy, were obliterated by this kindly, quiet old man. Recall his strong, wide-boy patois then listen to this soft, high-pitched voice that evokes a 90-year-old Joe Pasquale.

    Nope, not being cruel, it was just a bit...well, weird.

  25. #75

    Who?

    I videoed this seeing as I was away at the football on Saturday. And echoing exactly what Lawrence Miles says in that piece, I still haven't watched it yet because I can't really be bothered. I know eactly what's going to happen. And Helen Raynore isn't a good enough writer for there to be any fun in amongst all the routine nonsense.

    I do think that Miles is letting personal animosity get in the way of a proper appreciation of Steven Moffat, though. No way should he be considered merely "competent". His grudging praise for The Empty Child and The Girl In The Fireplace are very wide of the mark. Thinking long and hard, the only Doctor Who story that comes close in elegance of plot and joie-de-vivre of execution to Girl In The Fireplace is probably City of Death. And if you're going to start calling late-70s Douglas Adams a benchmark for competence and no more then you have to be made aware you're talking cack.

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