TV Fuck me, Catherine Tate.

In a wedding dress. With a promise that the Christmas episode will be called The Runaway Bride.

This isn't the show it once was.

It's the perfect set up for a new companion of course - the number of times the Doctor's dropped one off only to find another one hiding in a cupboard ready for the adventure. I suspect much of the special will be about him trying to go on alone but with Ms. Tate tantalizingly close. Perhaps he'll spend his time assuming that she'll be just like Rose before realizing that she's not the companion he's looking for and dropping her back off in the arms of her would-be husband before convincing them that they're made for each other.

Seriously, this isn't the show it once was.

It's been a bumpy year. When I've got the time to sit down for the inevitable marathon, I know that I'm going to find that as the momentum builds, the episodes I didn't love will seem much better than they did the first time round and all of the subliminal plot points leading up to Doomsday will be clearer. But really, if you compare pretty much all the episodes with each other this year, they all look like they could have come from a different programme. As the generic barriers all crash in on one another, does it seem possible that the writer of the languid New Earth would so many weeks later drop in something as ludicrously brilliant as this season ender? As the infrequent Big Finish audios with Paul McGann drop into a disappointingly esoteric tailspin it's comforting to know that the television version can still knock out thrill, chills and excitement, with big explosions and thousands of Daleks and Cybermen battling each other on screen.

But still at the centre of it all was David Tennant. He's been getting a few knocks this series but for my money he was as good as if not better than Eccleston in this episode. Although he still lacks that visceral quality and deep seated anger he managed to pass the Dalek test with flying colours - just watch his face too as he helplessly watched Rose save the world again and risk loosing herself. If we didn't quite see the big moment when some of the personality excesses of the past twelve episodes came home to roost there was still a convincing feeling of loss. So what if in the story ended up basically being Torchwood under siege, with the Doctor saving the world from an office and a few corridors again. That's tradition.

You can see why Tracy-Ann Oberman had been so cagey in interviews about whether she was going to be in the Torchwood series. She had a perfect exit and resurrection, although it is a shame that she wasn't retained - she looked and sounded amazing through to the end. For the first time ever, I think, I loved Murray Gold's score with all the choruses and big dramatic booms. Even the returning themes seemed appropriate. Nick Briggs must have had a ball voicing two alien races at the same time - I'd imagine it was rather like Roy Skelton on Rainbow voicing George and Zippy, but with a finger poised on the ring-modulator for the tonal shifts. Graeme Harper's direction felt slightly less old-school this time around and actually quite close to Euros Lynn with his funny camera angles.

But you know, as usual, despite the fantechnoporn, the most effective moments were between the human characters. As other shows have found out to their cost, robots killing robots is not all that exciting because unless you care about one of the sides it's just computer generated stuff crashing into stuff. This series absolutely understood this yet again, so whilst the war happened on the outside, the inner world of relationships and humanity was all the more touching. I loved that it took some time to resolve the Pete and Jackie story, give them one final moment. And that Mickey got to be the idiot again one last time and start the Dalek prison break leading to the death of a tens of people. Saved the sun at least.

I like that Rose died that way. The killing off a major character in a series is a tricky escapade. Get it wrong and you've got an oil slick of the week glooping all over a security officer. Get it right and you've got a few million Firefly fans actually shouting at a cinema screen. In this case there wasn't a way in hell that Rose was going into that void. She was going to be saved in the nick of time. I hadn't expected it be her Dad, but it seemed right some how, demonstrating that parallel Pete could be just as courageous as his whoniverse counterpart. Still some cruelty - no final hug from the Doctor. I didn't cry but I'm glad that he did - it seemed consistent with this incarnation that he cares that much. Even recalled that moment in Neverland when he told Charlie that he loved her. Except then he could get the words out and you weren't sure if he meant it in a passionate way. Here, you knew differently somehow. If the show has some meta-character arc across i's forty-odd year history, it's about the Doctor learning to feel.

Actually a great send off with the driving to Norway and the Bad Wolf Beach. Reminded me somewhat of the BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids with a crusty van driving through a wilderness As The Lord of the Rings film trilogy demonstrated, sometimes you have to take your time over endings to let the viewer say goodbye and extricate themselves from a story or characters that they've invested so much of their time with. I thought the ending of The Age of Steel, seemed slightly forced. This didn't, probably because you knew this was the final walk on the beach. The last time we'd probably see Jackie and Mickey and Pete and Rose. Probably. After just two years it feels like the end of an era and actually the title of last year's finale The Parting of the Ways would have been just as appropriate here.

How many other shows have lost all but their main character and still have the power to go from strength to strength? All the excitement about what the new companion is going to be like. Will they hit it off? What will the Doctor see in her? Still those unanswered questions. Just what does The Face of Boe have to say for himself? What did happen at the battle of Arcadia? If the Daleks managed to grab this bit of timelord technology, what else is bouncing around the universe? Possible escape pods? You mark my words there'll be more than one known timelord in the universe by the end of the next series.

And good lord I've just thought - if there is another Pudsey Cutaway this year, what's that going to look like?


Film The problem with Secuestro Express, is that despite some possible aims to present the underbelly of the Venezualan crime scene, it is far too generic, and tonally misjudged to be entirely convincing. The story of Carla and Martin, a young middle class couple being hijacked by a group of street hood and driven around Caracas by a group of street hoods until their father's pony up the ransom is infected with a Tarantino influence that detracts from the earthy digital video shooting and quick-shot editing. Unfortunately, every kidnap drama cliche is dripped out, from the kind captor to the escape and recapture. Too often in the moments when the criminals should be presenting a necessary menace, the screenplay injects humour, and just as the drama feels as though it should be escalating, the pacing dip, unbalancing any possible jeopardy. Director Jonathan Jakubowicz seems more certain in his presentation of the city, a sprawling mass of people and uncertain industry and in his treatment of actors; a pre-Alias Mia Maestro is especially good as the kidnapee. This is a film that promises far more than it delivers, lacking a depthfulness and thematic punch.


Film Cinematical interviews David Michael Latt of The Asylum, a film company that gets by knocking out knock-offs of upcoming feature films on dvd. So King of the Lost World with Bruce Boxleitner the day before King Kong. But they're not proud. How about a exploitation movie of something that's already an exploitation movie? Ladies and Gentlemen. Snakes on a Train:
"Scott: Oh, and there's so much more. Pre-release mega-buzz has been extra loud for New Line's Snakes on a Plane (Aug. 18th), which gave you guys ample opportunity to bang out, that's right, Snakes on a Train (Aug. 15th). Did you ever consider for going with slugs or spiders or maybe bees on a train? What would your response be if I just said "Dude, what's UP with these movies?"

David: Our film has snakes. On a train. Very different. Train. See?"
The plot:
"Under a powerful Mayan curse, snakes are hatched inside a young woman, slowly devouring her from within. Her only chance for survival is a powerful shaman who lives across the border. With only hours to live, she jumps on a train headed for Los Angeles. Unfortunately for the passengers aboard, they are now trapped, soon to be victims of these flesh-eating vipers."
Very different.


Blog! Funny how I discover that the excellent Amanda Congdon from Rocketboom has a blog on the day(ish) that she leaves Rocketboom. I've been out of this story but it's good to see that she's using the free media to rebutt the claims of her former boss and is not going quietly:
"In fact, it saddens me that you have not had the time and/or willingness to significantly participate creatively in Rocketboom for some months now. We've sent you things during the production process, and what we've received back is criticism after the show has already been produced or after it is too late to make changes. Statements like "I'll continue to check my blackberry but please dont wait on me if it starts to slow you down" and "I will have my phone so I can still chime in but dont feel ever wait on me for any answers if I cant respond in time" really don't cut it."
I haven't watched the show for a while with everything. I hope they keep those previous eps up so that I can catch up. Otherwise this may be last I see ...


Music I'd only heard snatches of the Lily Allen single Smile before I bought it today (a twisted logic I'll explain in a moment) and you know, I actually agree with the hype (for a change). It's not going to change the course of musical history, but she's got a lovely vocality and although I'm not versed enough in the terminology, it's a good beat and I could probably dance to it in the unlikely event that I get a life some time soon and end up in places were people do that kind of thing. Good God, my life at the moment. You wouldn't believe. Although I know some of you would.

I actually bought the single on the strength of the zeitgeisty b-side entitled Cheryl Tweedy which I heard previewed online and as always seems to be the inevitability in cases such as this appears for my money a better record than the 'a'. The chorus is far catchier, even if actually I don't want to 'look just like Cheryl Tweedy'. It's a shame it didn't get bumped further up the track listing, if only because of the possibility that in its death throws, Ferne Cotton on Top of the Pops would have needed to announce that Lily Allen was in at number three this week with Cheryl Tweedy. That being the end of that sentence. Perhaps Girls Aloud will release an answer called Lily Allen. I'm guessing not. Pity that the c-side Absolutely Nothing isn't very good at all. Always dangerous to title things with titles like that.


Life The visit to the museum should be a hint that I've had a day away from college work today. Except for watching Ron Howard's film Parenthood this morning. Confusingly. It's actually the first time I've been to Liverpool city centre in a while -- it's a mess isn't it. They've carved whole chunks from Church and Lord Street in the name of new paving and whole familiar sections of the area are gone ready for the erection of the Paradise project, including a street I tripped down just a week or so ago. The place is going to have a whole new geography by 2008.


TV That didn't take long. After a while, when it was becoming clear that Doctor Who would never return the the screens, fans began to make sell-thru licensed video drama featuring original cast members sometimes playing the original parts. Now the Star Trek fans are doing it too...
"A feature-length Star Trek film for Internet distribution is going to be shot next month in the village of Port Henry on Lake Champlain.
The production will star actors from four Star Trek television series. It's the brainchild of Ticonderoga resident James Cawley, whose New Voyages series of short Star Trek fan films have exceeded 30 million downloads on the Internet.

"The film will be directed by Tim Russ, who played the Vulcan Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager. It will be shot on high-definition digital video on sets built in a cavernous former garage building in downtown Port Henry.

"Russ will also recreate his role of Tuvok in the production. Joining him from Voyager will be Garrett Wang, who played Ensign Harry Kim. From the original Star Trek will be Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, and Walter Koenig, who was Ensign Chekov."
Of course the difference was that the Who fans actually managed to get people to pay money for theirs. Clever. And then some of them went into the industry and got to make the programme for real. Even cleverer. [via]

Offline posting

Offline I finally managed to blog something offline, in the visitor book at the Street Life: Liverpool in Fashion exhibition at the Conservation Centre in Liverpool. Nothing life changing, just a review of the exhibition. Though it did stretch across two pages. So if you're in the area you can see an amazing little exhibition and find out what I wrote.


Life Today I sat in between bookshelves looking up at books by Kant, Derrida, Foucalt, Jameson and Lyotard and wondered what had happened. But then I realised that I was back at university to be challenged and if I really didn't understand much of The Postmodern Condition then at least I was trying. And there were always many people who have understood it willing to publish book with their thoughts.

I was watching Big Brother tonight and again I wondered what happened. On the principal that it hasn't been all that interesting since John Tickle or Nush failed to win, I've been disengaged from the whole thing (evidenced by the lack of writing on the subject here). But really every now and then I've found myself stuck watching it tonight with all its hypnotic draw -- I have much the same reaction to property shows.

They just all seem slightly, wierd in their own particular ways. How old is Aisleyne and why does she cry so? Is this entertainment now? I've just clicked onto the offical website to put a name to faces and there are so many housemates that have them on a scrolly bar at the top of the page. Oh well Susie to win on the basis that she's from Liverpool and seemed quite sensible.

Meanwhile, a voice in Atlanta spoke out against his classmates at graduation because they just didn't seem to think too much. Best get back to reading. On Friday.

The Battle of the Co-Stars

TV As I was glancing through this week's Doctor Who Times I noticed that next Wednesday 12 July, there's a battle of the guest stars. If Radio Times really had changed their editorial policy, the listings would probably read something like this ...

9.00 Soundproof
Eve Myles from first season episode, The Unquiet Dead (by Mark Gatiss) and soon starring in Torchwood features in a gripping urban drama also starring Joseph Mawie, Sarah Lynch (from the film Downtime with eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, the title of which is the same as a Reeltime Pictures spin-off adventure starring Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, written by Marc Platt whose Big Finish audio play, Spare Parts was the inspiration for second season episodes Rise of the Cybermen & The Age of Steel, directed by Graeme Harper and written by Tom McRae, creator of the Channel 4 series As If), Brendan Coyle and Neil Stuke. When Chris is thrown from the balcony of a high rise block of flats, suspicion falls on his flatmate Dean, who is profoundly deaf.

9.00 Jane Hall
Noel 'Mickey Smith' Clarke, writer on Torchwood features in this comedy drama about bus drivers. Filmed two years ago. Probably before first season episode Rose (by Russell T Davies who is also Executive Producer of Doctor Who) .

I think there's a name for this...

TV This is something nicely oddball. Russell T Davies interviewed by film director Kevin Smith's new website Quick Stop Entertainment on the occasion of the US series one dvd release. It's a clued up interviewer and there are some odds and sods I didn't know. He's even drawn on when enough is enough and it'll be time to leave. Although there are some images you don't need:

QS: Well, the UK has Tom Baker, and we have William Shatner.
DAVIES: (laughing)! Do you think we’re better off?
QS: You know what, I’d like to see the two of them go head-to-head for an interview program.
DAVIES: I’d like to see the two of them kissing. (laughing)!
QS: You know what? You need to produce When William Shatner met Tom Baker...
DAVIES: Can you imagine? That would be brilliant! (laughing)!
QS: 'One came from the US, one from the UK. They met. They fell in love...'
DAVIES: (laughing) It’s a classic boy meets boy story.
QS: I think you’re sold on this...
DAVIES: (laughing)!

Really what is going on inside your head, Russell? Hooray!

Shared Earth

7.66m (45% share) for everyone
1.4m (67% share) for under 16's audience (which is huge)

TV Oddly I think it might have been affected somewhat by Andy Murray's match on BBC Two because the announcer highlighted it before the episode began. Also people turning their television off in a huff at the end of the football. I'm speculating.

Incidentally here's a plug shaped like a cyberman [via].

Oh Linda.

Film I certainly don't remember the box (although I will now) but I do have vivid memories of the film itself from a showing on ITV, late night some time in the late Eighties. It might have been called Secret Weapons in the US, but over here, it was Sexpionage.


Life And so to what seems like a fortnightly synopsis of the morning car boot sale because I know you're interested. This week's typical conversation.

Me: How much is the Dead Poets Society DVD?
Her: A fiver.

And so to the haul: The Complete BBC Lord of the Rings on cassette. Videos of Hal Hartley's Trust and Simple Men as well as Luc Besson's Atlantis (this is a high quality boot sale, oh yes). And on dvd, White Noise, Road Trip, Birth, Killing Me Softly, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Jesus of Nazareth, What Women Want, Enemy At The Gates, Training Day, Hulk and Point Break.

All for about seventeen pounds. Some of those purchases may not have been made if they hadn't been so very cheap. Particularly Killing Me Softly which apparently one of the worst British films ever made. Even The Guardian hated it and one of the characters works for them.

[Gosh what a boring post. I mean it doesn't even have a good punchline. Put it down to the heat and dissertation writing drain. You just hope that Blogger fails to post it.]