Army of Ghosts.

TV Crumbs.

It's the late eighties, it's six forty-five on a Wednesday night and I've just seen a Borg ship smash through the Federation's defences at Wolf 359. Only the USS Enterprise stands in the way of the certain destruction of mankind and the newly commissioned Captain Riker is looking worried. Then the view screen changes and a familiar face appears:

'I am Locutus of Borg…'

I remember that being one of the best cliffhangers I've ever seen in anything ever. Tonight's Doctor Who topped it.

Really. I'm serious.

When the Doctor told us it wasn't an invasion, it was a victory and then the Daleks were dropped in as well, the teenager in me screamed so hard my head near blew off. Daleks. And. Cybermen! Like in the same programme! Waaaah! This was fan fiction being produced for seven o'clock on a Saturday night.

Given time to think about it, was it was good as Bad Wolf last year? Not sure - that had emotional resonance -- that was about the Doctor saving himself as much as Rose and Eccleston's performance was too big for the small screen. This was about the visceral moment, the reveal - it crucially lacked that secondary emotional resonance behind the usual chaos, except for the undercurrent that you know what might happen to you know who.

Much as I loved the teaser and the sense of doom it created across the story, for some reason it felt slightly tacked on, with photography that set it apart from the rest of the episode and a something else that was lacking in the opening few scenes. Almost as though the episode was near completion and the producers felt it needed an extra something. The real teaser could have ended the ghost appeared in the kitchen. But I'm production speculating. What I will say is that it was great to see some actual alien worlds for change and even I would rather have seen forty-five minutes of the Doctor and Rose exploring that magma planet than suburbia. Again.

The ensuing ten or so minutes felt a bit listless to me and designed to piss off the sections of the fan base who hate the kind of the thing they hate. Let's look at the elements - Ghostwatch, Eastenders skit and Derek Akorah, along with the Ghostbusters reference (and you just know they failed to get the rights to Ray Parker Jr) and the heartfelt chinwag in which Jackie told Rose that she's change. Although I was happy with the later, really about the only good things you can say about the Barbara Windsor moment eas that it made Dimensions In Time non-canonical once and for all and her celebrity friend Dale Winton wasn't propping up the bar with her. A delight I'm sure for 'Enders fans but gaaah for the rest of us.

Some random thoughts on Torchwood. I can't wait to see how they rationalise the fact that London Torchwood is evil and Cardiff Torchwood is good. Perhaps next episode the Doctor teaches them the error of their ways. The certain death of Freema Agyeman's character puts paid to the rumours of her being a companion (hah - The Sun -- nyer). I still think they're going to start afresh in the Christmas special (and hire Laura Fraser but I digress). Tracey-Ann Oberman pitched her performance perfectly and it would be shame if she left us next episode - Yvonne Hartman came across as crosshatched product of the DNA of Liz Shaw and the Delgado Master (wouldn't it be a turn up if she was the latter? Although she hasn't asked anyone to obey her yet, give it time). I couldn't make out if that was a viper from Battlestar Galactica in the main hanger behind the TARDIS and Sutekh's tomb or an X-Wing. Also, who's Alonso?

I do think there will be many deaths next episode and by the end the series will have said goodbye to the Tyler clan. It feels like the end of their arc especially if the inevitable happens which is a shame because we'll see the last of Camille Coduri. Will Rose actually die? It's not unknown in drama for a character to be narrating from the grave and it doesn't seem likely that she'd be speaking of her mother who was given the name at the start of the episode. My theory is that she's talking about Rose Tyler euphemistically. Given that conversation with her mother about her changing, and not being Rose Tyler any more, my feeling is that what that actually means in the death of the happy go lucky Rose Tyler she used to be - rather like the change Ace went through in the Virgin New Adventures which continue to have a strong influence on the series.

[Although wouldn't it be cool if she regenerated - a side effect of absorbing all that power at the end of last series, so that there's a new actress playing Rose? Well alright maybe not.]

Alfred Hitcock once tried to boil down his success and he said that he was just really good at creating tension and shocks. So if some people are presented at a restaurant table and show a bomb ticking away underneath before it explodes it creates tension. If you simply blow the thing up without a reveal then it's a shock. The brilliance of the episode is that it managed both -- showing the Cybermen early on undercut the apparent fun and games with information that the audience would certainly be aware of pre-episode what with the trailers and what not. Then the reveal of the Daleks and their exterminate was the shock. Had we guess that the ghosts would be the former? Probably. But the sheer number of them and their appearance in suburbia taking humanity hostage cranked things up somewhat. Had we thought that the latter might be in that sphere? Possibly. But the bringing together of the two was viscerally realised. I'll say it again. Fantastic.

[Anyone wondering what Elton from Love & Monsters is doing through all this? Probably hiding behind a paving slab....]

I don't know what else can be said until the story is completed next week. That's going to be a busy episode isn't it - I peaked at the trailer and there's going to be a mess of stuff to cram in. Looking again at that cliffhanger I can't imagine what they'll do next year. Nothing short of the Master or the reconstitution of Gallifrey or another regeneration or a multi-Doctor story (we should start the campaign now) or all four can top this ...

Ghost Lite

Elsewhere The inevitable. And I don't mean England going out on penalties. Again. Funny how they started playing really well when Beckham and Rooney left the field. But then what do I know about football?

Meet The Authors:
Stuart Ian Burns

Age: 31

Location: Liverpool.

Earliest Dr Who memory: I have a very vivid memory of Leela with knife in hand picking her way through a corridor -- but I've never been able to put my finger on which story it's from.

Favourite Doctor Who TV Story of all-time: An Unearthly Child. It's all gone downhill since then.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum: Isn't the Pertwee story The Mutants tedious? Also The Web Planet

Favourite Doctor: I should say Tom, but everyone says Tom, so Paul McGann (Hah!)

Favourite Companion: Charlie Pollard. It's the whole Victorian adventuress thing. But if I absolutely have to pick a tv companion, Polly.

Favourite Doctor Who Novel: Alien Bodies (although I do like The Witch Hunters)

Favourite Doctor Who Audio: Neverland

Favourite Doctor Who Website: Outpost Gallifrey (since to pick this one would be pointless)

Favourite non-Who Website: Bloglines

Favourite Film: You can't ask someone doing a film course that question because whichever peace of celluloid history they pick will be wrong. But hey, what the hell, Three Colours Red

Favourite TV Show: Y'know I've been watching random episodes of Buffy lately and it's amazing how well they stand up even after a few years. But My So-Called Life, Friends, The West Wing, the usual scaboo.

I enjoy listening to: (glances at cd collection) female singer songwriters most of which no one's even heard of, movie soundtracks, world music, classical (particularly Bach and Mozart)

I enjoy reading: Generally film books. Funny that.

Other sci-fi I enjoy: I was a Star Trek fan for years although since Enterprise finished I haven't doubled dipped. Alias, Lost, Firefly, Buffy, Angel (I see a pattern). Why no question about comic books? Not that read many. Only Astonishing X-Men.

Things that irritate me the most: The conversational self-centred and perpetual non-ringers.
Favourite joke: Not a joke really but something I read in a Carl Jung book yesterday. "A mother took a photograph of her small son in the Black Forest. She left the film to be developed in Strasbourg. But, owing to the outbreak of way, she was unable to fetch it and gave it up for lost. In 1916 she bought a film in Frankfort in order to take a photograph of her daughter, who had been born in the meantime. When the film was developed it was found to be doubly exposed: the picture underneath was the photograph she had taken of her son in 1914!" All true.

Guilty Pleasures: Property development tv shows and two year old pop music.

Reasons for Blogging: Here or elsewhere? Here because it seems like the thing to do to celebrate the fact that the series is back on television and I'm grateful even if some elements grate.

Link to my other blog: feeling listless:


Blog! Somehow I've missed that writer Paul Cornell has a blog, and that he's writing an episode of the BBC's new Doctor Who replacement Robin Hood. For the unitiated, Paul's one of the best writers that the Doctor Who franchise ever had the luck to employ writing novels, audios and I'd say whose work had as big an influence on the new series as anyone. Wrote last year's episode Father's Day too.


Photography Not too long ago I was invited to take part in a project, but as usual time put paid to my participation. But the results are online and can be viewed at the National Museums Liverpool website. They're examples of photography by Stewart Bale with modern versions by flickr users. Amazing and illuminating stuff.


Shakespeare So I'm looking at this news story, and I'm thinking, yes Sean Bean as M-A-C-B-E-T-H and guess that the film will look like Braveheart and yawning. Then I notice that Tilda Swinton is playing Lady Macbeth. Why has no one made this film before!?!

So much more than Radio Times in this weeks ...

TV ... oh ... too much.

As I think happened last year, the cast list for Saturday' s episode is a spoiler fest from top to bottom, so if you don't want to know the score ...

... that said ... third cover for this series and doesn't Billie look lovely? Quite a candid interview too.


Film "his, then, is as it should be: An icon brought from the printed page to the big screen by talented people who respect the character but also feel liberated to try new things. Bryan Singer's Superman Returns is amazing entertainment, a vital, exciting vision of a pop-culture legend that brings respect for the past and re-invention for the future to the screen in equal measure. Superman Returns isn't just great popcorn entertainment; it's great film making, period, with the look, tone and feel of the final production all perfectly honed to create a bold, engaging, 157-minute long daydream of heroism, bravery and love." -- James Rocchi for Cinematical

Well thank Krypto for that. Frankly if this hadn't been good I would have left film studies. Well no, that's overstating things but if Singer hadn't created a masterpiece it would have made the tragedy of X3 even greater. Cinematical has a habit for hyperbole but I'd say they get things right 97% of the time. So we can all watching him sour. I might even start watching Smallville...


Life My dissertation got all on top of me. Even though my back's working again, as usual with any of these things I reached a point were I get so twisted up in theory and the panic of it all that I lose sight of what the thing is about and what I should be writing. So I'm going to take it easier this week just to get my head back into the mood. I've written 5,700 words already for a 4,000 word long chapter most of which is salvagable for other places. It just needed a clear direction and in the cooler weather today I think I found one. I've even mapped out chapter two. Amazing. It's all to do with chaos theory and Carl Jung's theory of synchonicity. I'm doing a film course. Oh yes.

I think the trip to Shrewsbury yesterday helped a bit. I needed to get away and give my eyes something new to look at and my feet something other than carpet to be walking on. Shrewsbury has cobbles. There's something about going to a place you don't really know and just walking about, discovering. I visited some lovely old churches, the castle and the impressive Abbey as well as the museum with its millenia old rowing oats and helmets and armour. The town itself is quiet though, unsettlingly so. Even the engines of the cars seemed to whisper as though they knew something important but thought it best not to mention it. It's the kind of place too that has shops called 'Aroma' that sell things that smell nice like jams and coffees or that have a business plan built around the sale of a single item like rugs or curtains.

If there was one disappointment it was the lunchtime burger. I last visited Shrewsbury as a child on a holiday in Shropshire. My Mum reminded me on Sunday night:
'Ooh remember that day you had constipation and we had to go to Boots to get you some stuff.'
'Yes, I do. And thanks.'
The thing I remember vividly was a lunchtime visit to a pub that sold something called a New Yorker burger which to some pallets might not have been all that impressive but to my young tastebuds was a glimpse through the clouds into heaven, with the bacon, the cheese and the relish the songs of angels (have I stretched that metaphore?). Of course all these years later there was no way the place would still be there. But I did find the pub. It's a chain now, called 'The Hole In The Wall'. I had one of their burgers. It had cheese and bacon and moist patty but it just seemed -- bland. But I still have that taste memory of the past to keep me going though. Hmmm...


Video People Falling Down. All it lacks is the 'You've Been Framed' music and an annoying voiceover by Beadle, Riley or Hill. Do you ever find that show funny? Me either. But these are kind of amusing, I suppose because no one appears to be staging the accidents for money.

Fear Share

More people watching tv last night. I think it was raining…

6.6 million (39.7% share)

Time ......BBC1...............ITV.............BBC2.............CH4...........CH5
19:00 ... 6.2 (39.4%) ... 2.7 (17.2%) ... 1.3 ( 8.5%) ... 1.1 ( 7.2%) ... 0.7 ( 4.3%)
19:15 ... 6.6 (39.5%) ... 3.5 (20.8%) ... 1.4 ( 8.2%) ... 1.1 ( 6.4%) ... 0.4 ( 2.4%)
19:30 ... 7.1 (40.1%) ... 3.9 (22.3%) ... 1.4 ( 7.7%) ... 1.1 ( 6.2%) ... 0.4 ( 2.5%)

Easily pleased

TV Behind The Sofa's gone into meltdown. Again. I decided to throw a positive review of last night's Doctor Who episode Fear Her at it early on to see if I could get something to stick, but it's just sliding off the page. Personally I laughed with the programme enough times to say it was funny and grinned muchly at the end but I think I'm easily pleased of late.