the trees
Originally uploaded by Maddie Digital.

This the very mist I've just been writing about. Amazing photograph.

Links for 2007-02-03 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

    Joss leaves Wonder Woman and announced it on Whedonesque...
  • filmlog: The Stepford Wives (2004)
    Glorious car crash of a film that is at most irritating and at worse downright offensive, suffering from unclear storytelling, muddy tone and annoying performances. Feminism created to make men feel good about themselves.
  • Directionful

    Life Aside from a side order of flem my cold is beginning to clear. My eyes are wide open and my brain is working, although both could have more to do with drinking coffee for the first time in days mixed with the the 25 milligrams of caffeine also contained in the very excellent Lemsip tablets I've also been taking. Can anyone explain how those little oblong pellets of what looks and feels like plastic can possibly digest in my stomach there? I've also been eating fresh fruit which I know will please someone in my readership. Bananas and plums. Apples still look like too much of an effort with all the crunching involvled.

    A mist has descended on Liverpool and particularly it seems the park. As I strolled across the parade field towards Lark Lane to buy the Saturday newspapers, for a few metres the rest of the landscape disappeared into a wall of fog, and as I listened to The News Quiz on my Walkman, drowning out the sound of the city I genuinely felt like I could have been anywhere, slightly worried that I might walk into a tree. Then the other side of the field drifted into sight as did all the fauna and I was pleased to notice that I hadn't gone too far off course. I might not know were I'm going in life, but at least I have an good sense of direction so there's a chance I'll still get there.

    Forgotten Films

    Magic Town (1947)

    Or I can't believe it's not Frank Capra. A big city pollster (played with sharp integrity by James Stewart) realises that the population of a particular small town perfectly reflects the opinions of a whole country and after relocating there secretly sets about trying to test and take advantage of this magical statistical anomaly -- until his colleagues in the industry get wind of it and the balances begin to change destroying the qualities that made this town magic.

    Scripted by Capra's usual collaborator Robert Riskin but directed by William A. Wellman, Stewart is as good here as he's ever been and there is a real screwball quality to his character's relationship with local school teacher and newspaper owner played by Jane Wyman. Wellman noted later that he thought Capra should have directed, and the film has been criticized for its sometimes static production -- but as you can see from the accompanying screen shot, there is some beautifully symbolic imagery and it's well worth picking up on dvd.

    Like many of Riskin's films this has a lot to say about how metropolitanism can overrun and destroy the character of small town life; it's startling in this age when large supermarkets and shopping malls are squeezing out independent retailers to see a similar threat being welcomed by the local government within this story, modernization fulfilling their dreams for the future. Essentially, they're welcoming Pottersville which means that ultimately this has a much darker edge than even It's A Wonderful Life.

    Links for 2007-02-02 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

  • icLiverpool: Why park roads will be a hole lot better!
    About as local as a news story can be -- the potholes outside our building are finally going to be filled in properly.
  • Wikipedia: Wittertainment
    “Wittertainment at its most wittertaining”
  • Empire: Penelope Cruz In Woody Allen's Next
    While we all (aright I) wait for some kind of uk release for 'Scoop', Penelope has signed for Woody's next film but one. And it's a comedy drama. Set in Barcelona. Any chance of a really serious film in the Interiors mould some time soon?
    Jordana Brewster signs to play Mrs. Smith in the tv version of the film 'Mr & Mrs Smith' which on the basis of her turn in DEBS is excellent casting.
  • Antarctic conservation blog: Shackleton’s hut, before and after
    The famous site has been reconfigured slightly. Excellent photographs, especially of his signature on one of the boxes.
  • filmlog: Jaws (1975)
    To quote Pauline Kael: "the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made... [with] more zest than an early Woody Allen picture, a lot more electricity, [and] it's funny in a Woody Allen sort of way." Certainly is -- Dreyfuss is a riot.
  • Britannica Blog: What 2001 Got Right—and Wrong
    "Talking and reasoning computers. Commercial airline flights to the moon and beyond. Newspapers that bring readers only reports they want to have."
  • WikiDumper.org: Human Cheese
    "Human cheese is cheese produced from the breast milk of female humans. It has been proposed as a Vegan alternative to cheeses produced by other mammals, such as goats and cows." Ugh. Ewe.
    Adam appears on 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' after all. Previous blog entry about getting bumped mentioned on the show.
  • Belle de Jour: 01/01/2007 - 01/31/2007
    Belle goes to a 'Half Man Half Biscuit'. They once released an album inspired by working somewhere I used to work. Oh yes.
  • Forgotten Films

    The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

    An adaptation of a 1924 short story by Richard Connell, The Most Dangerous Game's claim to fame is that it was filmed on the same jungle sets of the somewhat more famous movie King Kong (1932) and shares many of the same cast members, most obviously Fay Wray who once again plays the wench in distress. Big game hunter Bob (Joel McCrea) washes ashore on a mysterious island and ironically becomes the prey of a Russian noble, General Zaroff (Leslie Banks). Although the opening half in the castle is stagey despite Banks's mesmerizing performance (surely the ancestor of all James Bond and Doctor Who villains), it's the second half when the hunt is on that makes this film a forgotten classic.

    As Bob and Eve disappear into the jungle, the pace increases and but for odd moments when the 'game' stops to build traps, it becomes a largely silent affair, an incredible mood created simply through the lighting effects of cinematographer Henry W. Gerrard, silhouettes lost in bush and fog -- it looks like a Murneau film. It's in these sections that McCrea is at his most heroic and actually, Wray is a far more beguiling here than Kong simply because she doesn't have to scream quite so much. You will shudder when Zaroff releases his hounds or has Bob in his sights. Pure hokum, but really, really fun and available on dvd.

    Links for 2007-02-01 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

  • Cinematical: Katie Holmes Is Out -- Will Rachel McAdams Step In?
    Rachel will possibly be playing Selena Kyle which sound like perfect casting to me. But then casting McAdams in anything is perfect casting isn't it?
  • filmlog: The Musketeer
    Curiously uninvolving film despite some spectacular Asian influenced fight sequences and good humoured performances. At one point, Mena Suvari's character threatens Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher) from 'Eastenders' with a knife!
  • MetaFilter: UK TV idents
    In which I post links to an amazing website that has flash versions of old tv logos and clocks -- for a range of tv channels when they were still animated -- like the gold and blue BBC1 clock or the LWT wave. And they actually tell the time now!
  • Observations on film art and FILM ART
    Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell taught me everything I needed to know about film narrative. Their superb blog is the kind of thing I'm going to want to sit down and read from start to finish. Amazing stuff.
  • The Onyx Project :: A NAVworld™ Experience - a new genre of digital expression
    Speaking of my dissertation this is the kind of thing that would have made a perfect example of the kind of interactive media that messes up the usual narrative conventions. David Strathairn stars. Thanks Keris.
  • Here is a photograph of various people looking at something over our right shoulder.

    TV Further to Graham’s post about the Comic Relief launch yesterday, PopJustice has photographs.


    Life I think the word is pollaxed. Somewhere along the line I caught the cold that everyone is saying is doing the rounds and I spent most of the day in bed (apart from brief moments online here and there and a trip to sign on). I don't get colds much but when I do, all sense goes out the window. I think I'm going to have an early night.

    Links for 2007-01-31 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

    Graham Kibble-White interviews David Icke: "From the cradle to the grave we are told that basically this world is solid, that there's empty space between objects. But even at the cutting edge of conventional science, that is being shown to be bollocks."
  • Forgotten Films

    I'm With Lucy (2002)

    When the world was going crazy for Gael Garcia Bernal after the releases of Amores Perros then The Motorcycle Diaries I'd wondered what all the fuss was suddenly about. I'd already seen his work in Y Tu Mama Tambien and before that, I'm With Lucy and knew he was someone to look out for. In Lucy, the terminally ignored actress Monica Potter plays the eponymous as she sets out on five blind dates with different men throughout a year, the twist being that right from the opening we know that she'll apparently be marrying one of them. Bernal is one of the prospective bows and the other four are John Hannah, Anthony LaPaglia, Henry Thomas and David Boreanaz (tv's Angel). This is the 21 Grams of romantic comedies, as the five dates are shown in parallel, cutting in between and throughout the year at vital moments, and as we get to know Lucy's likes and dislikes we begin to understand which of the men she'll eventually fall for.

    The film missed a theatrical release in the uk and limped onto dvd a good three years after it appeared in the rest of the world. I originally saw it in Paris were it was selling out screens and the only reason I can think of that it didn't find a distributor in the uk is that it's very similar to the earlier Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence which also spun parallel love stories around Monica Potter but failed to find an audience here. Which is a shame, because like Nina Takes A Lover, which is also on this list, it's a bittersweet work that feeds the heart and the mind as its mysteries unfold. Thematically it's about not judging everything at face value - the first impression is not always the best impression - and that if you get to know someone you might discover that they're more or less compatible than you were expecting. Sympathetic.

    Forgotten Films


    Every year, US film critic Roger Ebert plans a film festival, EbertFest, of work that he thinks has been incorrectly ignored (Here is last year's schedule and the directory for the years before). The choices are based on his many years of reviewing films and seeing his recommendations passing his peers and audiences by. The resurrection of these so-called 'lost films' is very much in vogue of late, with a recent article in Empire Magazine and this list compiled by The Guardian's panel of critics.

    Never one to ignore a good bandwagon, I thought I would spend February introducing some forgotten films. Largely the choices will be of a personal nature, which accounts for the preponderance of romantic comedies and and interesting narrative techniques, sometimes in the same film. There isn't much more to add other than if it's on this list it's worth hunting down and that like some have already, you're welcome to contribute. Just email your reviews in a couple of hundred words to feelinglistless@btopenworld.com and I'll publish them here with extra credit. The name of the film and a couple of comments will do if you haven't the time.

    [The cinema pictured is The Futurist on Lime Street one of Liverpool's great lost cinemas. Image from the Liverpool Pictorial website.]


    Museums I'm full of cold today and here is the reason why. A few weeks ago I was sorting through my bookshelves and came across an old book that I'd put to one side to read later and when later came I'd forgotten about reading it anyway. It's Public Art Collections in North-West England: A History and Guide by my old manager Edward Morris in which he's written short histories and reviews of a range of provincial art galleries in the North West. It was intriguing to read about these small museums with what sounded like wonderful little collections. I visited the art gallery in York a couple of weeks ago and there were some interesting works being highlighted that would have been overlooked in a larger, more comprehensive collection.

    Some years ago, the Royal Academy decided to prove that point with a major exhibition of paintings from regional galleries and it was amazing. Unfortunately I was trying to fit it into a much larger day, and didn't have enough time to see everything but I took the point. If this had been a permanent collection it would have been one of the world's great museums. Flicking through Edward's book which is a work of utter joy and since international travel seems still out of reach for now, I've decide to take some trips to a few of these local smaller galleries and report back on what I find. Yesterday it was the turn of the Atkinson Gallery in Southport. And I didn't wear enough warm clothing which is probably why I've now got a sore through and the sniffles. Hold on a minute while I sneeze.

    I've been visiting Southport since I was an under five and somehow I've managed to ignore the existence of this place. It's half way up Lord Street, now opposite the Starbucks, and part of a late Victorian building that also houses the library and an arts centre. The gallery was initiated and built by William Atkinson, a cotton manufacturer who frequently visited Southport with his sick wife looking for the refreshing sea air, eventually moving there and taking up residence there leading to his philanthropic gift. The gallery was opened in 1878 with an initial exhibition of loans from the town's population (which must have been a nightmare to organize) but would eventually develop its own permanent collection, through bequests from those local people, with work mainly representing British paintings and watercolours from the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Sculpture also features -- a Henry Moore and a Jacob Epstein amongst others.

    The gallery doesn't really have a foyer, up the steps and through the front door and you're met by two tall sets of stairs leading to the first floor (although there is sign stating that lottery funding has been applied for to make this area more welcoming). At the top is an old fashioned turnstile with a reception desk in front. Most of the gallery space yesterday was closed in preparation for their next exhibition. As I passed through one of the spaces toward the permanent collection, I heard shouting from the café, a couple arguing, breaking the mostly silence.
    "You never treat me right!" she said.
    "I treat you any way I like!" he said.
    "Get away from, don't touch me!" she said.
    I had to investigate. The café was closed and the couple were in the corner, by a wide door into the art centre next door pushing and shoving each other. They're twentysomethings. He's in a suit, she's wearing a cocktail dress. They stop and begin whispering conspiratorially to one another just as I realise that they're actors rehearsing for a play. No gallantry needed then. They laugh. I laugh. And slip away, back towards the art.

    The permanent collection is at the back of the building, filling a stairwell and a room. In most galleries I've visited, the stairs are where the not so lovely paintings are placed, a preparation for the main event. But here, most of the canvases are really remarkable; items such as William Mouet Loudan's The Yellow Jumper and A Rose by H. Schelsinger both sit halfway up the stairs and require some effort to see under the glass and the lighting and really deserve a better place to be seen. The former is quite a melancholy work in which an older woman seems to be lamenting a life led and the latter shows a girl in the first blooms of her life looking forward. Actually it is fairly striking how the collection seems to be mostly either images of women or local landscapes, reflecting the tastes of the collectors who gave their work.

    Some, such as Joseph Highmore's Portrait of a Lady are fairly generic middle class fare, but there's a memorable image from Laura Knight called A Dressing Room At Drury Lane in which two ballet dancers prepare for a performance, their dresses produced from a ray of unbroken oily brush strokes emanating from their wastes. See also Dorette's Sister by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst which in its time was tinged with scandal since the artist fell for the model's sixteen year old sister. He was married and Dorette was the name he used for her when painting in a failed attempt to hide his lust.

    I bought two postcards but the images on them don't do the original works justice, since both have been conserved since the pictures were taken. In their cleaned up state they make the gallery worth visiting. The first is John Collier's Lilith, an imaginary portrait of the Adam's first wife, who according to the poem Eden Bower by pre-Raphaelite poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti was cast out for seeking equality and later sought revenge on his next intended, Eve. She was a devil woman with evil on her mind and according to the information that accompanies the painting 'as a vampire she resolved to prey on children, pregnant women and mothers in childbirth' and comes across as just the kind person that Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote about in her feminist tract Bitch.

    This scourge of men and some women is pictured totally nude, except for a serpent covering her unmentionables, a tall bell shaped figure with long blonde hair, sensuous and disarmingly realistic. Frankly, it's ages since I've stood before a painting and simply gaped but there I was transfixed like a naughty school boy sneaking a peek through the girl next door's window. The serpent's head is resting on her shoulder and she look down upon it amorously (sorry, forgot to mention - this serpent is her lover and just like the devil in Milton's Paradise Lost she want to adopt it's form so that she can re-enter Eden). It's certainly, as the solitary visitor to the gallery, also the first time I've stood in a room with a painting and actually felt uncomfortable.

    I've wondered about my reaction, whether it's because of the primal setting of the figure, standing in a forest glade, or because she's so well proportioned and it's simply a man thing, the high art equivalent of a men's magazine. To the right is another Collier work, In The Venusberg which features two nudes in a classical setting but that doesn't have the same effect. I think it's because in that picture, which illustrates the moment in legend of Venus and the medieval knight Tannhauser in which he kneels worshiping her, there is a clearer narrative that draws the viewer out of what they're seeing - and although we can't see the knight's face, because his hands are clasped in prayer and the presence of doves it makes the scene too spiritual to be titillating.

    With Lilith, the male viewer becomes part of the narrative, part of the painting. It's suture probably, the psychoanalytical process often used in relation to film in which the person looking becomes involved in the thing they're looking at, in film cases because of editing or narrative drive and on this occasion like that naughty schoolboy, it's as if we're looking at something we're not supposed to see. A private moment between intimates, one of which on this occasion happens to be snake.

    There's also an aspect of the gaze, which film critic Laura Mulvey expounded upon; in most films when a good looking woman is involved there will almost always be a male character and their attitude tells us what to feel about her - think of the look Emilio Estevez gives Ally Sheedy at the end of The Breakfast Club. In Venusberg, because the man is kneeling chaste before the figure, we see Venus from his perspective - if he'd been looking at her lecherously, the theory goes we would too. In Lilith I suspect that because there isn't another man in the picture to tell show us how to interpret her and because that snake is wrapped around her, we're left to construe the image in our own way and inevitably, because all men are dogs, we'll go with our more primitive instincts. I know I did.

    The other main highlight is Southport: For A Holiday In Wintertime by Fortunino Matania. The clunky title is explained by the fact that this was painted as part of a series of images for a poster campaign for the resort. A group of high class lords and dames shuffle out of a theatre on Lord Street to awaiting cars and the sea air. It's an extraordinarily atmospheric image, with its warm sepia lighting, the old Hollywood film star glamour of the people and the reflections of the cars and figures in the rain swept road and pavement. What I think makes the imagine transcend its purpose is the figure to the far right, the woman in the long light blue dress, holding together the velvet coat in the middle.

    She looks other from the crowd, dashing as quickly as her heels will allow, like Cinderalla trying to disappear before the rest of the royal crowd discover she's an imposter. I mentioned her to the guard as I was buying the postcard and he said that Matania was reputed to paint an image of his mistress into all of his paintings and he thought was who this woman is - you could almost imagine that one of the women at the front of the painting is supposed to represent his wife, looking down or at something far off as the other love of his life slips away.

    I know this might be beginner's luck but if half the galleries in Edward's book are half as interesting as the Atkinson I'm in with a treat. It's not often that I actually visit a gallery and it's a totally pleasurable experience, but I did love this and I hope they're able to bring more of their permanent collection out soon. If you are in the area it's well worth a visit and certainly made a change from the amusement arcades and bingo.

    Deep breath.

    About Well actually, this is essentially a test post because I've just migrated to nu-Blogger and I want to check that everything is hunky dory.
    Update It's finished -- although it was touch and go for about an hour. It's not perfect, and I take Billy's point about the banner which will have to made longer and thinner so that it looks less muddy. But I do like the new tagging/labeling system and the archives look liberated somehow. Tomorrow I'll tell you about what I did today.

    Links for 2007-01-29 [del.icio.us]

  • Radio Times: Grace Dent's TV OD
    Grace's final column on Celebrity Big Bother: "Thank heavens I can go back to watching Friends again. The one where Phoebe changes her name to Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock makes me feel nothing but fluffy numbness."
  • St. Elsewhere

    TV In a rundown hospital corridor, a young, tired looking junior Doctor steps into view. He's been doing the rounds and as the detail of his work are revealed he slowly realises that that his relief won't be turning in for work and that there will still more hours before he sees his wife. Although this sounds like the opening of some independent film rooted within social realism, it's actually the opening moments of the first episode of St. Elsewhere, the pioneering medical drama with has recently been released on Region One dvd.

    That the opening episode of this first season does not begin with some giant melodramatic moment to introduce all of the characters and the geography of the hospital demonstrates that this is television from another era, but still shockingly innovative and amazing viewing twenty years later. You're watching the birth of a new kind of television (part of a movement which also included Steven Bochco's Hill Street Blues), in which creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey willingly taking risks with story and character.

    As the episode proceeds the rest of the cast is introduced, but again none really have anything that could be described as a fulsome storyline. Instead, Brand and Falsey take a leaf from Robert Altman's play book, and have the characters appearing in and out of shot, the plots building up from random moments within a scene rather than individually. This model continues generally throughout the series, with stories that stretch over many episodes and others that last mere moments or an hour, an approached that would copied and developed in ensuing years and its easy now to see the DNA of e.r. and its peers evolving all those years ago. Some episodes are more 'traditional' than others though -- and as the season continues, there are more two handers allowing the regulars and their relationships to develop.

    One surprise is that the show gives the stories of the patients equal weight to the Doctors and hospital staff; early on in the season, in the Emmy award winning episode 'Cora and Arnie', the relationship of these two homeless people and Cora's life decision -- treatment or looking after Arnie and certain death -- is considered to be as important as the others. Similarly, the plight of a potential widower drags on for whole episodes as the cycle of his grief is shown in all of its tragedy.

    That's possible, because, like Lost and most soap operas, many of these episodes run directly after one another, the whole season probably playing out in a couple of months, unlike most other dramas in which whole weeks have apparently passed. This gives the show an immediacy and watching more than one episode can be quite an intense proposition, particularly since most of humour and themes are quite dark. And most of the episodes have quite a rigid structure stretching over twenty four hours, a clock in the corner signaling lunch time and shift changes, regimenting the viewer to the lives of the doctors.

    Cleverly this is not a show about a successful hospital. Like the UK's Casualty, this is about a health service in dire straights, under funded and seen as a poor substitute to private care. This is a committed medical team though and they still have the capacity to do the job well -- it's the perception that knocks them down. Again, early in the season, a young girl being treated and having bonded with Morrison is taken out of St. Eligius and placed in the nice big clean new hospital down the road, even though it is Eligius that treated her initial complaint and have largely nursed her back to health.

    Like all of the best ensemble medical series though, the bureaucracy is revealed through the horror of the medicine. When a Legionnaires outbreak occurs in the hospital, there are none of the screams of fear you'd expect, dramatic pauses or melodramatic drumbeats. Instead, the meticulous coping method is described, with the economic effects on the hospital's budget getting as much screen time as the potential medical knock-on effects. The point being made is that the administrators and doctors are both coming at the same job, making people well, from different angles.

    The blurb on the box points to the number of stars that would be made on the series and obviously the other fun is seeing regulars like Denzel Washington or bit player Tim Robbins in small roles within a greater ensemble, and trying to spot their star quality -- I'd say that Washington is as good here as he's ever been, which is a compliment, and Robbins had yet to fulfill his potential. Of course too there's Howie Mandel and dear David Morse, the humanitarian who would later be stuck playing endless psychopaths. In this opening season there are the early rumblings of the double act of the Victor Ehrlich/Mark Craig double act, the latter's loveable tirant being a clear template for e.r.'s Rocket Romano.

    Craig is the source of much of the humour in the show, his boarish arrogance and secret loserism being apparent from the start. It's interesting to note that the show isn't afraid to show him as something of a racist too. In one particularly difficult scene he berates Kochar who has the audacity to but an advert on a notice board asking for help with his English with: "Yeah, well you shoulda saw to that before you came over here you know, I wouldn't go to India to live if I couldn't talk to the natives. Shows a lack of respect." Uncomfortable to watch, but it makes his comeuppance all the sweeter to watch.

    In this opening season, the absurdities that would become more prominent later have yet to develop. There is some surrealism - such as the explanation for why hospital supplies have gone missing and the lady flasher but on the whole the genre busting tendencies, fantasy elements and crossovers that happen later have yet to flourish. Instead this often goes for the heart and for now, this is an entertaining frequently touching and innovative medical drama that's worth rediscovering.

    "I've literally met savages with better manners."

    And now on Behind The Sofa, Stuart Ian Burns delves into the world of this week's BBC7 episode of Doctor Who. Note that this review contains strong language and spoilers right from the start that some readers may find disturbing.

    During last week's review I noted how difficult it is within the Doctor Who franchise now to produce totally original stories. Since you will have hopefully heard tonight's episode before reading the review, I think you'll know what I'm about to say.

    See what I mean !?!

    The opening forty-two or so minutes of Phobos effectively set up an intriguing mystery. On titular moon, a holiday resort has been overrun by extreme sports junkies looking for a good time. Slowly they're being picked off by creature unknown and the local soothsayer is trying to warn people away, whilst holding the grudge that the place isn't what it used to be before the Drennies (and what a cool name for a sub-culture). So far, so Cornwall and surfers. And the Eighth Doctor novel Kursaal for that matter.

    Obviously because people are dying the Doctor blunders in and discovers that it's not really creatures and that there is something else at work. Personally, I thought it would be the indigenous Martians or 'Ice Warriors' to use the non-PC term, trying to drive these holiday makers off their land. But then I thought that Farl would turn out to be an Ice Warrior too. Considering the moon's proximity to Mars, where were the Martians? But I digress …

    Then at about minute forty-two, at about the moment when someone starts to mentioned demons, I literally shouted: "Oh for fuck's sake, it's The Satan Pit." Did writer Eddie Robson watch the last series of television Doctor Who? He must have done because two of the character names here are a reference to Andrew Hayden-Smith from the Cybermen episodes. We know that producer Nick Briggs did too because he was in it. And surely us kids will have as well. Didn't it occur to them that to throw in this kind of a repeat would be at all, hoaky and familiar? My only thought is that the viewer is supposed to be suddenly in the same position of the Doctor - he's seen it all before and so have we - or that there wasn't enough lead time between the broadcast of one show (10 June) and the recording of the next (22 August) to make any changes.

    Well, yes, there's the implication at the end that this demon hasn't been destroyed and so might crop up again, making this a prequel of sorts to The Impossible Planet (which might have been a late addition), but its really, really disappointing that for the third time in eight months, the resolution of a broadcast story is the vanquishing of a big transdimensional demon from before time. And these repeated story elements weren't even camouflaged that much what with living in a pit or wormhole, living off the fear of humans, possessing one of the them in order to communicate and the Doctor having to leap into said pit or wormhole to defeat it.

    Which is a shame because with other than that, with a couple of reservations, it was still wildly entertaining. It's great to have actors like Timothy West and Kinda's Nerys Hughes doing such excellent work alongside newer talents such as Dalek's John Shwab (shades of John Barrowman though). The pleasure in this episode was hearing Katarina Olsson finally being given a meatier role, totally unrecognizable as Amy. Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith also continue to surprise with Paul this time invoking even more of the darkness that's been associated with the character in the standard monthly releases since Zagreus (as a side note - hasn't his voice been in demand lately? Seems like every advert for a charity or bank or Airtours or insurance company has his dulcet lightly Liverpudlian tones behind it).

    It was thematically interesting too although there were elements that seemed a bit rushed because of the running time. Neat parallels were drawn between the different sets of tourists, The Doctor and Lucie, Amy and Farl and Drew and Hayd all experiencing the planet in different ways which helped to define each of the characters very vividly - with both Lucie and Farl on the run. The discrimination of Farl and the nature of the Githians also seemed to get some short shrift; their conflict was no doubt motivated by the demons need to propagate fear and hatred but it seemed to come out of the blue and certainly might have been explored in more depth. At least everything ended happily, even for Drew whose self-realisation was really quite touching.

    Thank goodness then, that the conclusion, however inadvertently derivative included some really excellent Doctor moments, including that speech. The timelord version of Rutger Hauer's Blade Runner monologue, it was great to hear The Doctor acknowledge what he has seen, applying his experience verbally against this admittedly feeble threat and demonstrating that it's a really good job that he's on our side. "Don't threaten me. Don't ever threaten me." Scary. And only the Eighth Doctor could turn his own battles and fears into a weapon making him more powerful than a demon. Beats breaking some vases or absorbing energy in my book. I mean he was actually enjoying himself. How baddass is that?

    Next week: Chimes at Midnight redux. Oh yes.


    TV Well there you go -- surprising no one Shilpa won Celebrity Big Brother. Big Mouth is on in the background and it's not really surprising that Jade, Jo and Danielle aren't there -- imagine what that chemistry would have been like. I can't or really don't want to say any more on this other than link to a really useful article posted this morning by Carmen at Blogher: "Celebrity Big Brother teaches us how to deflect accusations of racism in 3 easy steps" [via]

    Links for 2007-01-27 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

  • Bloggers Blog: Celebrity Blog Links
    You would expect a list like this to be longer.
  • The West Wing: What Went Wrong
    This Jump The Shark page includes a really excellent well thought out analysis of why the Welles era didn't work. I'm using a Google cache which highlights when the text begins. Thanks Ian.
  • filmlog: The Butterfly Effect (2004)
    Useful if not entirely original concept spoiled by poor structuring and variable tone. Plus, I'm not sure how the same journal entries could turn up in these disparate timelines if Evan and his friend's attitudes were being changed so completely. The filmmakers decided against the really satisfying ending included in the dvd extras because 'it would ruin the integrity of the film'. How annoying is that? You're making a Hollywood genre film people -- to tack on the arty ending that you have in a desperate attempt to elevate the material to Ingmar Bergman territory is annoying, pisses off your core audience and makes you look like pretentious cretins. Get over yourselves.
  • filmlog: Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)
    Really entertaining and nostalgic film, amazingly directed by Angela Robinson of 'DEBS' fame. It's a shame that some of the stunts have been CGed, but mostly it's good old fashioned Disney thrills and fun.