Fear Her.

TV After the open warfare that pretty much broke out online after last week's episode (which I loved but won't mention the name of lest it causes anyone to throw chairs about) I almost watched tonight's episode wearing a crash helmet. Even I'm getting a bit tired of the number of episodes this season set on almost contemporary Earth (never mind a storm, there's another two of those coming) so the fact that this one would be set in just a single street in 2012 was a terrifying prospect on its own. Good job it's written by Matthew Graham and directed by Euros Lyn and had chills, spills and a bit with a cat then.

Because people like to compartmentalise these things into eras, this episode had the feel of the opening episode of Survival (without Hale and Pace) or one of those low key domestic short stories that turn up in Big Finish anthologies. The concept of a small child being possessed and essentially trying to take over the world isn't new, but the art school based process and scary wardrobe creature were more than enough to get me to clutch the duvet - even if I couldn't quite understand were the latter came from.

Really it was another demonstration of the fragile intangibility of what makes a great episode of Doctor Who and not. It could have been awful, but somehow the dialogue sizzled, the performances were top notch and the editing was really effective. Good to see Nina Sosanya again, who's marvellous in everything she does and little Abisola Agbaje as Chloe will probably be head of the school by Tuesday as she scares the hell out her classmates with just a whisper and a stare. There was also a return to a slightly less smug Doctor and Rose than we've been seeing of late. Yet again we saw that if you stick Tennant and Piper together, give them some good conversation to chew on and the room to act, the chemistry is hypnotic.

If Murray Gold's score filled the silences a bit too much (his Mickey Mousing was in full effect here) one could at least admire the fact that the episode pretty much got by with the minimum of cg, using drawings and props, which have that extra ingredient of tangibility, to great advantage. To a certain degree, red light flashing through a wardrobe door was far more effective than that brute at the end of The Satan Pit, although it's a shame we didn't see more of the animated line drawings. Seeing the Doctor moving about on paper would have looked great. Where's Cosgrove Hall when you need them?

Like the coronation in The Idiot's Lantern, seeing the Olympics was fun and even had some nostalgia factor for me because they used footage of the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 where I was a volunteer (Press Office, MEN Arena, Netball). Seeing the crowd disappear from the stadium was a shocking moment and Huw Edwards, bless him, sold it really well. The cut to the empty commentary box was quite touching really, although I wonder who Bob is. My other question was why the opening ceremony had been relegated to BBC News 24 - will the ratings for all of the Beeb's digital channels have flattened out that much by then. It's a shame they didn't cook up a special channel that doesn't exist yet like the BBC3 that appeared in The Green Death. BBC Sport 24 anyone?

Some notes on the 'revelations'. Although new Who fans might have fell off their chair on hearing that the Doctor was a father once, how many people simply said 'Of course he is - what about Susan!' and how many other went reaching for their copy of Lance Parkin's AHistory to scribble in that extra bit of data. It seemed like a very deliberate addition though and Rose was given a moment to cogitate which means that it may have some bearing on a future episode.

And those final moments. I actually quite like it when the Doctor can see into the future - much as he seemed to through the tv movie - and it really was an 'ooh' moment even though we have an idea of what's coming thanks to Tennant's performance. Anyone else notice their stance was similar to the end of The Christmas Invasion? Whereas then it felt like a whole universe was open to them, this time it felt like it was closing in. Maybe that's why they've been frequenting contemporary Earth so much lately - the timelord has an idea that something is afoot and he wants to be there to face it rather than stay away. The fact that I care about this stuff, that I'm asking these questions must mean that the show is doing something right that it's still sucking me in.

Don't get around much any more.

Life My back's still achey but the last couple of days have still been work, work, work as I start the first chapter of my dissertation. As usual I'm not happy with what I'm writing which doesn't seem to reflect at all half the reading I've been doing or ideas I've been having and seems to be a mix of not enough theory and too much blah. I can't get my head around the structure either. Luckily on this occasion it doesn't have to be handed in for two months, but on the downside I've still got another eleven thousand words to write after this four. So if I'm not around much, that'll be why.

Say cheese

Food "The small container of spreadable Havarti cheese was like the movie Big Momma?s House 2. I would never spend eight dollars for a tub of Havarti cheese at the grocery store or spend eight dollars to watch Big Momma?s House 2 at a movie theater. Heck, I wouldn?t even spend the two dollars to get the headphones so I could watch it on the flight." -- The Impulsive Buyer reviews Delta Airlines Snack Packs. Film included.


Travel "In the 60s, no one ever spent winters in Kathmandu. Everyone went south to Goa to catch some rays," he says. "The first year, we sat together in a circle on the beach playing guitars. The second year, some new guy brought a cassette deck and rigged it up to a car battery. The third year, another guy came with bigger speakers, then with amplifiers. In the fifth year, a stage was set up and some kid asked me for my back-stage pass. My back-stage pass! What happened to our sacred beach, man? It was time to move on." -- Desmond O'Flattery from Kathmandu talks to Guardian travel

I've still got that itch (and a slight pain in my back). I really want to travel and see these places, but I never thought I'd be looking at Kathmandu and finding that it's gone touristy. Has this ability to travel made the world smaller and a tiny bit less exciting? Not that Kathamndu is on my list. If I'm going to go anywhere, I'm going to New York. Seems adventurous to me...


Life I appear to have put my back out. I was up for an hour and half in the night unable to move into a position were I didn't get some stabbing pain and I can barely type now. Mum seems to think it's my body telling me to slow down and take a break. She's right. Mums are always right about everything. I also think I need to do four things.

(1) Get a new mattress
(2) Get a new chair to sit on when I'm typing here
(3) Not carry as many heavy bags
(4) Enjoy having a day off and luxuriate in the final essay mark I got yesterday of 70% and try and get my back to stop hurting.

I'm going to do the fourth one today. But good god this hurts.


RSS "Worse than the BBC is Google News. By it's very nature, Google News is all about change, but by god that screws with your RSS feeds. Out of about 80 items, 68 had changes. Now, Google News aims to track news stories from multiple sources, so it is inevitable that their items should change frequently, but it makes it completely useless in an RSS aggregator, because every time I refresh, the items that I had read become marked as unread again because Google News have either done something as minor as changed the timestamp from "5 hours ago" to "6 hours ago", which is not hugely useful, or added a new source, or substantively changed the copy. This breaks Google News' RSS feed in terms of usability. There's just no way I can continue to have Google News in my RSS reader." -- Suw Charman on annoying RSS repetition.

Loving Monsters

TV Do take a look at the Behind The Sofa reviews of Saturday's Doctor Who and you can actually watch fandom splitting itself right down the middle. Almost in real time. On this week's BBC podcast commentary, Russell T begins by saying gleefully, 'I know the fans who are going to hate this...' Personally I loved it, but wished they'd pushed the concept even further -- but if you think of the audience and timeslot this was really the best we could have hoped for.

it's gonna be a good day just wait and see

Music I've been marinating on Jewel's new album Goodbye Alice In Wonderland for a few weeks. It's a return to the form of This Way, a rock/folk/country fusion with that dreamy voice and extended vowels. The title track is a tour de force, recalling some of the tenderness of her first album Foolish Games before flying off into later day Sheryl Crow territory. Which is one of the few criticisms I have of the piece - much like a lot of music these days everything sort of sounds like something else which makes really difficult to review without referring to something else.

It is a pattern though that each of these singers seems to have an initial burst of freshness before spending much of the rest of their career trying to recapture the light or reinventing themselves. That's why Alanis Morissette, bless her, is forced into a corner with a certain amount of diminishing returns and Nelly Furtado has had to completely change her musical genre to keep up.

As I'm not at all tired of reminding everyone, I was one of the few people who was a fan of the previous album 0304 simply because it appeared to be a definite attempt to produce something new without alienating the fan base. And like the Doctor Who episode Love & Monsters it succeeded in splitting them down the middle. That a song from that album 'Fragile Heart' returns again with a new vocal and in-situ make over is testament to the fact that actually, despite the tight-pants and dance routines Jewel hadn't changed her style that much.

The stand out track here is 'Good Day' which begins in Nellie McKay territory with a near-rap before heading into a chorus which'll raise smile with anyone who's heard Natalie Imbruglia's 'That Day'.

'It's gonna be alright,
no matter what they say,
it's gonna be a good day just wait and see,
it's gonna be ok,
'cause I'm ok with me.'

Unlike that earlier track though, this is hammered out as an anthem, in the kind of voice that convinces you that no matter how awful things might seem right now, in fact it's 'gonna be ok'. The penultimate track 'Words Get In The Way' is equally soothing, in a loud, rocky, surprising way, even if it threatens to tip off into MOR territory. That it doesn't is a testament that Jewel continues to win the ensuing battle between individualism and attracting the record buying public. This girl still has a lot of Spirit.


Commuter Life I've hired a laptop from the university. It's made by the people at Fujitsu-Siemans and it's the first one I've even partially owned. So for the first time ever, I'm writing this from the train home (so the date at the bottom of the post will be later on). Be with you in a minute whilst I show the man my ticket.


I'm back. I'm actually sweating pretty heavily having just run for the train after the bus, which I decided to get for a change up Oxford Road, was stuck in traffic and I had to get out and walk. I'm telling you this scintillating piece of information because my sticky fingers are making it pretty difficult to type and use the mousepadthing. Perhaps even more exciting (at least for me) is that it has a wifi donglewossit built in which means, well you know what it means. I know there won't be any kind of a signal on the train but I keep pressing the little silver button just in case.

The big idea is so that I can write my dissertation whilst I'm working at Liverpool University to save travelling into Manchester just use a computer but still away from all the distractions that tend to hamper things during the day. I'm a bit like Douglas Adams that way - why get on with writing a book when there's tea drinking to be done? Today I finished a rough plan of the opening chapter. Although it's decent road map, I know there will be things I change before the handing in day once I get started on reading about narrative and for my case study.

Absorbing the ratings

I'll keep this brief (again) ...

6.2m - 38.3% share

Highest rated show for day.


Life I went to a car boot sale this morning for the first time in about five years. The following conversation probably sums things up.

Me: How much are the dvds?
Seller: A pound. Except for the V boxsets, they're two for four pounds.

She looks at her son. He nods sagely. I walk away from the stall with Gone With The Wind, 10 and Excalibur.

I spent seventeen pounds altogether on about fifteen dvds, a couple of cds and a biography of Shakespeare. This could get addictive. Again.