"I'm on the bloody moon!"

Elsewhere In case you're interested, my slight overexcited review of the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, Smith & Jones is posted here. It's a bit formulaic - having written a few of these already, I've definitely dropped into a pattern -- but I'll hopefully loosen up a bit as the weeks go by. But really all you need to know is that it was a brilliant start to the new series -- it'll be great if it can keep to at least this standard all the way through...

Smith & Jones.

TV Look, I had been searching for a clever way to start this, but I've just visited Outpost Gallifrey, which is always the worst thing to do after watching any new episode and actually read the phrase "Planet of Fire is better". Considering what some of us have watched and written about in the past week, really you look at comment like that and begin to wonder if Russell T Davies is right when he says we onliner are 'moaning minis'. Sure, everyone's entitled to their opinion, but frankly I'd rather watch Smith & Jones a hundred more times than have to sit through something whose only draw was a bikini shot and conversation that boiled down to who'll end up paying a gas bill.

After spending a Saturday last year counting down the hours then being presented with the mess that was New Earth, I approached this with a hell of a lot of trepidation. Sure, the clips looked fabulous and the preview reviews had been warm (with Charlie Brooker's comments in particular going off the chart) but after sitting through Torchwood and one half of The Runaway Bride, I'd seriously wondered if the creative yen had gone out of the team, if they'd been over stretched and their sensibilities had escaped them - that The Sarah Jane Adventures had as Sickboy says in Trainspotting been 'a mere blip on an otherwise downward spiral'. Would I once again be sitting here spewing out paragraphs about what went wrong?

In a word.


At one point I was giggling and clapping like a two year old.

At another I simply said: "She's so good!"


Smith & Jones was a fabulous start to the series, a wonderfully paced, funny, exciting ride that managed to rekindle my faith in the tv end of the franchise.

Well, yes, alright it was another base under siege and well, ok, the story, alien police looking for a suspect, wasn't the most original but Russell has the sensibility to understand that in situations like this you don't need and shouldn't have anything too complex in order to hang the important stuff like the introduction of the new companion and the re-introduction of the Doctor. What you need is a concept that has enough room for some humour and tragedy and some heroism in the end and that's exactly what you got here. Besides, for a change the base was brought to the alien, not the other way around and the suspect was the least likely and for once the Doctor wasn't pinned with whatever the bizarre crime might be.

Within that, the Judoon did their job admirably. Another example of the marching army so beloved of the new series, and if their single-mindedness was somewhat like the version of the Vogons from the appalling Hitchhiker's film, at least their central purpose wasn't the destruction of humanity. It's amazing to see what Neill Gorton's crew are achieving on a tv budget although they never looked like anything more than rubber mask - but Doctor Who wouldn't be the same without those, would it. I'll leave the 'aren't they just Sontarans in the shape of a Rhino' conversation for another time.

But this did look like a feature film and had a scale not seen in the average episode; once again there is an issue about how The Mill's work translates on DV but the moon vistas and the crater next to the Thames were spectacular; I just hope the costs have been spread a bit more carefully through the series this time and we won't have to endure another Fear Her. I suppose my only question would be what a hospital like that was doing being built so close to the House of Commons.

Of course the big question was always going to be what the new companion would be like - how would she measure up to the last companion introduced to the Doctor's story? Well, Martha is less cause than Lucie and although she's perhaps as questioning it's in a far more curious way - Lucie was all about trying to inform her own predicament in order to get home whereas Martha's simply trying to increase her knowledge of the universe. Martha has that innate sense of wonder which you'd find in the likes of Charley Pollard - see the moment when she's standing on the moon and absolutely understands the magnitude of that and how amazingly privileged she is despite her potential impending mortality. Unlike Rose she seems more likely to try and think a situation through rather than just go straight in and hope that it'll work itself out in the end.

None of which would work if Freema wasn't such a promising actress. Many voiced reservations after her appearance in Army of Ghosts, but I always said that supporting roles such as that are not meant to be scene stealers - she was there to do a job and it could never be a showcase for what she can really do. I'm so pleased to I can say I was proved right. It's too early to say 'Billie who?' but there's an infectious charisma about the actress which plays off against Tennant well; and the camera loves her - she's got the kind of face that can do the big close ups and you can see the subtleties of what she's doing, layers of thought, beneath the mask. Joss Whedon says that its very rare to find actors who can change their attitude and performance 'on a dime' to envelope a range of different emotions in a scene and she has that. It's going to be too much fun watching her grow into the part over the coming weeks.

But what of the Doctor? Much has been written about how Tennant has pulled back his performance and he sort of has but I think it's just that there's a different chemistry in the room and he's working within that. To an extent you can see that he's being quite generous and giving Freema some space to impress - David's the kind of actor who can easily steal any scene he's in and directors usually take advantage of that but if you look at something like the aforementioned moon balcony scene it's Martha who spends most of her time in close up with the Doctor pacing interjecting from the background. But he still goofs off - when he's pushing radiation through his shoe, noticing the shop or - and I'm so glad this is back - name checking historical figures. Anyone else think that the Sonic Screwdriver had bought it finally? Oh no - he's got another one lying around.

I don't think we've seen enough of Martha's family to warm to them yet which is as it should be, they're not the focus. It's certainly a shock to see so many relatives running around but they were introduced brilliantly with the cross cutting phone calls; perhaps it is a shame that there's another unstable relationship at play in this universe, and that final scene with all the foot stamping was a bit broad, but in context this band had to be just mad enough for us to understand why Martha might want to run away with the Doctor despite all of her responsibilities. Perhaps the really interesting decision is that they're aspiring middle class, contrasting with Rose's working class background and is there a hint that the Doctor won't do domestic this time after becoming so attached to his previous companion's family?

What's probably specialty porn in some parts of the galaxy appears in a family show on Earth. You have to love that Anne Reid was playing the big bad and that she spent some of the episode sucking Roy Marsden's blood out with a straw. Not that we got to see her sucking him off, which was odd because we were allowed to see her sucking off the Doctor at the climax.

For a moment I thought we'd be returning to the style of the first series, with the timelord letting someone else save the day, but a nice bit of tag-team heroism was employed allowing the new traveling companions to save each other's lives and everyone else's. Some might question whether this was yet another deus ex machina of an ending, but it was all done with a certain wink in its eye -- the monologuing villain, the Doctor automatically going for his screwdriver and it not being there, the final solution being in the hands of the grumpy alien. I'm sure things will become much more complex later in the series.

The inevitable Martha enters the Tardis scene was just what it needed to be and you can see that Russell's realised that it's the perfect opportunity to define a character. You can see what I mean about all the questions - Rose made statements about what she saw. But I think the big difference was probably that it was largely played from the Doctor's point of view - there have been umpteen versions of this scene in NuWho already and when the timelord mouths the words he and we have heard a hundred times before it acknowledges that repetition. But she is asking question we haven't heard before - about were the crew is and how he's going to fly the thing. Quite what Blinovich would make of the way he proves that he is a time traveler I'm not sure, but drawing the opening and conclusion together in that way was a beautifully executed idea.

So at the end of all these paragraphs about what went right all I can say is that I'm pretty excited about what's to come. Will anything be made of that little throwaway line about the Doctor's brother (and will it actually turn out to be Irving Braxiatel or the Master as hinted at in the expanded Whoniverse?). Will the Mr Saxon thread be better thought out than Bad Wolf and Torchwood? How are they going to fit the curates egg that is the underlying story behind Human Nature into the typical run of the series. Is there something the Doctor hasn't mentioned about the time between The Runaway Bride and Smith & Jones and is Martha everything she appears to be? So many questions.

Next Week: The Doctor meets Shakespeare. Again. But on television. How exciting is that?

Links for 2007-03-30 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

  • Advance notice: Out of this World, The Art of Josh Kirby
    News about the upcoming exhibition of the Terry Pratchet illustrator's work at The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.
  • Creative Screenwriting: Paul Cornell
    Cool interview with the Doctor Who writer. I love what he says about taking criticism, especially from people like editors and publishers. So true. I suppose the fine line is taking advice but not ruining your vision.
  • "This life has been a test..."

    dvd Well there's something I never thought I would ever see. My So-Called Life, officially my favourite series that doesn't feature a timelord, too chatty mother and daughter in a small town or a vampire slayer is finally being released on Region Two UK dvd. I originally bought a region one release of the series in 2002 which I think cost around £80 and analysed it for the blog back then.

    My copy came via Amazon.com, but prior to that a smaller company called AnotherUniverse said that it was to be the sole distributor and suckered some fans into paying a deposit for a deluxe version with a raft of extras in the shape of a lunch box which never materialised. John at Sore Eyes was one of the ones who was burnt but managed to get a copy in the end. You can see us chatting about it in the comments here.

    I really, really loved the series. Still do. I wrote this review before I began writing the blog and I think it says it all really.

    Links for 2007-03-29 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

  • blog.myspace.com/marthajonesuk
    Genuine BBC content or fan fiction? We'll probably see as the weeks unfold. I always thought that the BBC missed a trick not hiring a professional writer to update a genuine 500 year diary in for the form of a blog for The Doctor...
  • Behind the Sofa: Jack f**king Harkness
    Another chance to 'enjoy' my review of the final episode of 'Torchwood'. Actually I'm quite happy with a lot of the writing in here, except for the wonking great factual error in the middle. Stephen Moffat isn't writing 'Utopia' ...
  • filmlog: Taxi 3 (2003)
    Disappointing threequal that, despite a joyful pre-credit sequence, misdirects the charm of the first two and makes the fatal mistake of not bringing together its central buddy team together until half way through. Shame.
  • Touchwouldn't. Again.

    TV The level of excitement greeting this new series of Doctor Who seems even greater than when the show first returned just two years ago. Just the scale of hype, the number of interviews, the sheer anticipation (at least from this homo sapian), is almost overwehlming. The latest trailer featuring scenes from across the series is seriously good and looks paricularly dark -- obviously they've selected a vast range of night scenes but there's stuff in here which gave me chills.

    Part of the hype has been of course the range of interviews from cast and crew with Russell T Davies being almost as visible as the stars. A typical example would be this short q&a from Metro although the key difference is that's its rather less sychophantic than usual with the interviewer, Andrew Williams taking him to task over Torchwood and the reaction in particular:
    "Torchwood had a mixed reception...
    What do you mean, a mixed reception?

    Some people hated it.
    You mean among online, moaning old minnies? We got the highest digital figures the BBC ever got so, frankly, we were laughing. We’re working on ways the second series can be improved, none of which has anything to do with online forums.
    Or if you want to read between the lines, Mr Williams hated it too. I'm writing about this here because I've already inadvertantly opened a can of worms in the usual place that write about these things and to mix the metaphore I don't want to fan those flames. But this really is the kind of thing I dislike hearing from Russell. I understand what he's doing -- he's defending the work of his colleagues against what has been a barrage of criticism and the fact that he says that they're working on improvements or the second series indicates a recognition that the first did have its problems.

    Two things worth investigating in this statement. Firstly, that Torchwood got the highest digital figures the BBC ever got. No denying there's some truth in that but glancing through the numbers in SFX magazine's excellent new special about the series reveals that those figures had nearly halved by the end of the series and a million had fled from the BBC Two showings. That isn't healthy for any series, particularly if its supposed to be supported by an active fan base. Arguably scheduling didn't help (10 o'clock on Sunday) but if show has an inherent quality people will just keep returning.

    Russell is perhaps suggesting that a couple of a million people can't be wrong. But how many of those people were watching because they were enjoying the show or because they were trapped in the psychosis I was of willing the thing to get better, ten weeks of denial masquerading as entertainment? In addition it's the same argument that the head of the studio that made Sex Lives of the Potato Men used to explain the quality of that epic in relation to its remarkably high dvd sales. Oh and Norbet has been at number one in the uk box office, a film that no one I've read has anything good say about. Just because lots of people watch something, doesn't make it good.

    The second issue and what particularly ticks me off is the language, which he's often used elsewhere. 'Moaning old minnies'? Actually they would be the core fanbase that were supporting the overall franchise and still talking about this show, even when it was shedding viewers by the bus load. He does clarify that somewhat in the answer to the follow up question, and it could be said that some people who frequent the forums might fit into that category. True, this genre might be scrutinized by its audience far more than sitcom (although soap nowadays tends to run a close second) but the majority of the criticism I've read (and hopefully written) about Torchwood has been pretty constructive and simply holding the show up against the blisteringly high standards set by the mother series.

    Perhaps all of this is just me finally purging the evil before the brilliance ahead. Certainly the first episode of this series can't be as poor as the first of the last New Earth a ramshackle, often offensively unfunny episode which threatened to derail the series had the second Tooth & Claw (the one with the werewolf) not been so brilliant. But that's what I sort of love about the franchise; even in the first series of the old show, for every The Sensorites there was a touch of inspired genius like The Aztecs. It can turn on a dime the way that the average programme can't. Some are just plain average all of the time. Frankly, if any of it is half as good as the Hugo-nominated The Girl in the Fireplace, I'll be happy.

    "We can stay all day." -- Tom Paxton

    Nature My first feeling on entering The Twilight Zone, Chester Zoo's version of the bat house yesterday afternoon was melancholy. The enclosure was opened in 1998 by the late Douglas Adams, a committed supporter of animal conservation and whose book and radio series 'Last Chance To See' included the Roderigues Fruit Bat, one of the species thriving within this haven. I wondered how he'd feel now knowing that even though they're still on the brink, a colony survives and thrives in this area of Cheshire. I took a photograph of the plaque and then stepped towards the entrance.

    There was another information sign nearby explaining that the bats therein would not get tangled in the visitor's hair and they certainly wouldn't bite you, oh and to walk slowly without making any sudden movements. It's then that I twigged that the house was designed so that human and bat would be sharing the same airspace. So my second feeling was one of anxiety, and the third was excitement - this was exactly the kind of experience I'd visited the zoo for.

    During the remains of the day, cages and bars, pits and holes would stop man and animal from interacting too much, for good reasons in the majority of cases. In the jaguar house, a cat had sprung towards the crowd with paws and teeth and growl on full power and with such force that twenty people simultaneously jumped backwards possibly thanking the car firm who'd sponsored the enclosure for hiring the best glass manufactures money can buy. But sometimes you want to be David Attenborough, up close to the natural world, communing with the nature you'd only otherwise see on television.

    You don't walk directly into shed holding the bats. First there's a display area collecting other animals and insects that could be found in their natural habitat. In a small tank close to the floor are Turkish Spiny Mice, a multitude of rodents holding and snuggling into one another. They're so called because the hairs on their back make them difficult for predators to swallow and cause an irritation in their stomach - which is hardly a consolation for the poor mouse digesting inside but their sacrifice protects the rest of the colony.

    In another tank are the less cuddly Madagascan Giant Hissing Cockroaches, which are about the size of your finger and are exactly how you expect big exotic alien-looking entomological specimens to be. They make five different hissing sounds through the breathing holes in their abdomen which can help to frighten off predators but which are also used during territorial disputes between colonies and for courtship rituals. Incoherent noises being used to threaten and woo - not too far away from the average human really.

    Then, walking through the kind of floppy plastic sheeting that used to be hung from the ceiling in a supermarket when the frozen food department was a walk-through freezer, I found a warehouse that has been turned into a manufactured habitat, filled with exotic plants. The space was about the size of a Tesco Metro except it was utterly dark apart from light leaking in from the roof. It was humid too and entirely unnerving. I heard a scream from the other side of the space and defined the silhouette of someone speedily walking for the doorway, whose light was reflected in an artificial pool ringed by a range of plants I'd only ever seen on science fiction sets.

    I couldn't help but look up and already I could see them - the rafters were filled with bats. I stopped. I whooped. 'Oh my god' I said, 'That's so cool.' It's one of those moments when your ability to speak poetically, when all those long words you learnt in school simply fall away and you're left with a feeling of utter amazement, being faced with something you never thought you'd ever see in your lifetime. I mean they're hanging there, wings wrapped around them, a tiny head shifting left and right and up and down just as you'd imagine they would having seen the same thing in a hundred horror films.

    The first thing I saw when I looked away for the first time was a small red light and a badge with the word 'Hello' scrolling across it in LEDS. I stepped closer and they were both worn by an attendant, someone who is no doubt there to make the bats feel less ill at ease with all this foot traffic walking through disturbing their sleeping and eating and everything else. She finished directing a family around the habitat and then approached and smiled, her badge already offering the expected greeting. I told her how amazing I thought it all was and she had a glint in her eye that indicated that she already knew that.

    I mentioned the scream and she told me it happens quite often. I suggested it's because some people don't like being in proximity to something that they wouldn't otherwise encounter in their usual life and she agreed. I asked her if the bats ever do come in contact - I mentioned the sign and she explained that there are a lot of myths about the animals and they want to dispel them before people enter. Sometimes is works, I supposed.

    She added that there are two types of bats there. The Rodrigues bats which are the larger, more visible species tending to keep to themselves and staying in the rafters. It's the other smaller kind, the Livingstons (or Sebas) which are friendlier diving in and out and the reason for the warning. I asked if they're still endangered. They are - there are only a couple of hundred of the Roderigues left in the world and about three thousand Livingstons (the website reveals that the zoo has fifty-eight of the former and around two hundred of the latter).

    A school party arrived and I thanked her for, well, everything and continued along the path, remembering to walk slowly as instructed, still not able to keep my eyes off the bats. It's then I began to notice small drafts around by ears and hands, coming and going so quickly as to be hardly noticeable. There's a tunnel with lit information signs and its in here that I realised what was causing them - it's the Livingstons swooping in and out, their tiny shapes only vaguely perceptible in light of the perspex, scooting past and only narrowly avoiding me.

    At first I jumped but after that I couldn't stop laughing, edging through the tunnel, the bats flying hither and thither just inches or closer from me. Of course if this had been a horror house film I'd be running away flailing my arms around, but I knew they weren't interested in me and just want to get to their destination so I edged forward just enjoying their simple presence even though I couldn't hardly see them.

    Then oddly, I realise that I had another question for the attendant. I thought about shouting but knowing that would be wrong, I turned on the spot and retraced my steps noticing that the school group has already left - I'd been so enchanted by the experience I probably hadn't heard the fear of the children. The attendant is still there, and I think I made her jump as I approached, which you'd think was impossible considering where she was standing.

    I asked her about the names, Roderigues and Livingston. Who where they? Roderigues is the place they're from, Rodrigues Island in Mauritius. Livingston was the naturalist who discovered them. I thanked her again and wish her well and then walk back, more briskly this time. I'd decided I had the measure of the bats now and smiled as I watched a couple entering the tunnel in front of me knowing already what they were about to get themselves into. Sure enough, he swore. Loudly.

    On the other side of the tunnel I was already very close to the exit. But I didn't want to leave yet. This was the most exciting thing that has happened all day (the jaguar included) and worth the price of the admission on its own. I watched as more people streamed in, some having the same reaction I did as they realise that the bats are just as close to them as pigeons in a town square. I looked down again at the pool and notice the surface skin break now and then. Bat droppings?

    I looked around and saw two Roderigues bats in a rare flight, and in unison they swooped (if that's the word for it) and I realised that I was now standing directly in their flight path. Time seemed to low down and I could see the light in their eyes - what if the sign was a lie? What if they do bite or at the very least get tangled in your hair. My body reacted instinctively as though this is something that happened all the time, my knees bent, I ducked and the bats flash over, briefly filling the space where my head had been.

    I took that as a hint that it was probably time to leave. On the way out, an information board lists many of the different types of bat there are in the world and most are either critically close to or are already extinct. A collection of reasons, all man related, everything from the destruction of natural habitat to climate change. Outside the clear spell that had been promised on the weather that morning had arrived and I squinted in the sunlight.

    I decided that some of my prejudices about zoos had been nullified. They're not perfect - even here, to this layman, some the enclosures seem far too small for the beasts within and all too often I'd notice a deer or whatever that had obviously walked the same route through the dirt for hours, creating a pathway, and the lions in particular looked defeated, simply lying together on a promontory waiting for dusk. But then they could simply have been having a rest after a particularly busy day.

    Throughout Chester Zoo there's a conservation message, what the place is doing to save endangered species and the bat house is a working example of that. But the debate about whether survival in captivity is survival at all is something I'll save for another time. For now, as I remember the instant when I saw those bats for the first time, as far as I'm concerned the old slogan still stands: good zoos are good news.

    "A one-line joke, K9 nearly ruined the Tom Baker years."

    TV The new series hype continues with this list by Daniel Martin of The Guardian's Arts Blog of the five best and worst television companions ever, containing justifications that could only be written by a knowledgeable fan. Brilliant stuff, even if I can't agree with everything. [more inside]

    [The "More Inside" was in the comments where I said: "I love that Zoe's in the top five (although she kind of descended into being a screamer towards the end of the tenure) I think he's a bit harsh on Grace -- I think with a few more stories she would have come into her own and there are far worse examples -- Dodo continues to be a blight on the series even after all these years."]

    You will obey me ...

    TV One for Life on Mars and Doctor Who fans.

    Sam Tyler. Have you seen what that's an anagram of?

    So, new theory for the end of Mars.

    See the old 2000 AD story The Dead Man, but in this case Dredd is a renegade timelord usually seen wearing black clothing and a pointy beard.

    It can't be -- can it!?!

    Links for 2007-03-26 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

  • Wikipedia: Joyce Hatto
    In depth investigation into how some of the later cds from the late pianist were actually the work of others, passed off as hers.
  • British Theatre
    Group blogs from creatives in the local industry.
  • the roundtable review: on the french, films and film festivals
    "The Alès Film Festival, has very much kept the spontaneous, democratic enthusiasm that got it started. [...] The poster for example, had to come from a local competition each year, with submissions invited from the townspeople."
  • Behind the Sofa: "I'm a very good judge - of drama."
    Sometimes Sofa threads can be as interesting and opinionated as any discussion online -- this one in particular has many of the hallmarks of a good Metafilter thread, including the appearance of the author that the post originally linked to.
  • Liverpool Art and Culture: Arts Cash For Communities - (But Not ArtInLiverpool)
    Ian's application for funding from the Capital of Culture has been rejected which strikes me as being a bit short sighted. Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney offers the many reasons why in a comment to this post, but really this is very, very annoying.
  • “Ô oui!” Douglas Adams
    Excellent collection of quotes which once again remind me what a loss it was when DNA left us.
  • Andrew Collins: Penultimate
    Andrew talks about giving up his 6Music gig and considers the changes in the ethos of the station. Very thoughtful and candid bit of writing.
  • Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog: What every film critic must know
    I'm getting really tired of the style of film review in which the writer simply writes a synopsis of the thing without recourse to any kind of analysis -- that's why I like Mark Kermode -- his assessment of '300' was perfect.
  • VintageTimes: TV Guide Covers and Listings
    "A collection of Radio Times and TV Times covers past and present."
  • filmlog: Lady of Burlesque (1943)
    Marvelous genre bender that combines a backstage musical with a police film. Barbara Stanwyck is a compulsive screen presence and for once the comedy is actually funny. Overtones of 'Showgirls' and 'Mrs Henderson Presents' too.
  • For the sake of momentum

    Life Just like Aimee Mann her song 'Momentum', I've got my routines. Even though I'm unemployed. Every Sunday when I walk across the park to buy the newspaper I always go to the same newsagent even though it isn't the closest so that I can post a dvd back to LoveFilm.

    During the week, I still wake up at eight o'clock every morning and watch the headlines on BBC Breakfast rolling my eyes throughout each problem with a link, stumble over a sentence or bizarre line reading; I still go shopping every Thursday night, still going down Bold Street through to Church Street buying whichever magazines and comic books have been published that day.

    And I always go to the same chip shop on occasion. Except for tonight, when I discovered they stopped opening on a Monday, so we had to go to the other takeaway further down Lark Lane. In reality there shouldn't be anything between them, chips are chips, soft strips of potato in a hot skin of fat just as fish is still something that once swam now wrapped in a crispy batter - except -- it just isn't the same.

    When you're used them being done a certain way, a simple deviation in the recipe can spoil your tea. These were softer, greasier, and stuck together more easily. At my usual chippy, they're crunchier around the edges and closer to potato wedges - you feel like you're eating something substantial and they complement everything and don't simply absorb the gravy when you pour it on like these do, becoming a potatoy-gravy mass.

    But the funny thing about these kinds of routines is that sometimes they can be broken. The chips weren't untasty - just different. Sometimes I will go straight to Tesco on a Thursday or sleep past the headlines and have to look at the more lucid interactive red button version. And in the future, for various reasons I won't be going to that same paper shop on a Sunday. Because I won't be completely unemployed. I hope there's a post box nearby.

    From The Earth To The Moon

    TV I think the most horrifying idea on this cover is that Russell is going to offer a complete episode guide for the series - before its even been broadcast. Granted it'll probably in the style of 'Oh yes, episode nine is the most exciting thing we've ever done' and 'Neil Gorton's masks in episode twelve are amazing. Hooray!' but still, aren't there enough spoilers knocking around online without them actually emanated from the production office? And isn't Tenth notable by his seriousness? In the Earth cover (the one were they're confusingly standing on the Moon) he looks positively menacing as though he's saying 'I meant what I said about watching the other side...'

    As this collage at Freema Agyeman.com demonstrates this is the first in a long while that presents the actors in a close up, iconic style. Elsewhere since the new series opened its all been about the monsters -- last year, the Doctor and Rose seemed overwhelmed by the rest of the background and having to link in with the rest of the fold out cover. Actually, looking at that collage its striking how often Jon appeared and how they completely failed to feature Tom during his entire seven year tenure. Chris is notable by his complete absence, a Tardis welcoming his debut. What with the Casanova cover, you'd think that David had been there all along.

    [Broken links in the second paragraphs.]

    Links for 2007-03-25 [del.icio.us] - Rmail

  • Tokyo Girl Down Under: Community services
    "it also runs a service called “Home Library”. The home librarian’s name is Janice, and she will visit you at home, with a selection of books, or talking books, that you might like, to save you making the trip down to the library." Amazing.
  • filmlog: 10 (1979)
    I must be getting older -- I fancied Julie Andrews far more than Bo Derek, right from the beginning. There aren't any films like this any more -- takes its time, tells its story at its own pace, doesn't try to tick too many boxes.
  • Everything Reviewed: Review: The internet
    Actually I think that score is rather high.
  • Cocoons

    Life I've been a member of the Liverpool Freecycling Network for a few months. It's a message board at Yahoo! upon which people can list items that they don't want any more and anyone with an interest can offer to pick it up. For free. About a hundred emails pop through a day and there's a whole vast range of items -- everything from baby clothes to radios to toys to car parts to, even, computers.

    Essentially when you spot something, you email the person and who then emails you back if you've been selected and you agree a time for pick up. Not driving I'm fairly selective of which 'ads' I answer -- usually only those within possible walking distance. I've answered a fair few offers but the people must be inundated, especially if its something of real value, so I've never actually had a return -- until the other night when someone agreed to let me have some paperbacks.

    I emailed back and we duly agreed at time and I was given their address. It was just around the park so I popped out after tea. Let's examine this pattern of behaviour -- I was going to the house of total stranger who is going to give me some books. If I was actually doing anything wrong it would sound like the worst excuse in the world. Anyway, I followed the circumference of the park until I found the address, wondering what would happen when I got there -- what would they be like?

    I rang the bell. The husband of the freecycler answered (she was out visiting relatives) and said he would come to the door. He's upstairs in the flat and I watch him through the glass frontage of the stairwell, sloping down, a tall man -- difficult to judge his age -- mid-40s? He opens the door and I smile but he says nothing and he hands me a large footlocker bag. I thank him, but before I can wish him good night, the doors closed in my face and he's back up the stairs. The cocoon had been opened just enough to pass the merchandise over.

    Isn't that interesting? It's almost as though he didn't want to know where the books were going, just that they were out of the house. I was pretty bemused -- that in the way we live now, someone can commit an act of kindness -- giving something away gratis, but want to be as little aware of the person they're doing it for as possible. But perhaps that's as it should be -- I could quite possibly have been a crazy sick lunatic wanting to make friends with the person I don't know, so the reaction was entirely understandable.

    Reading #1

    The key to Hayward's writing is that is manages to be academic and light and legible at the same time, which is a rare gift. I'm learning many of the things I didn't have to time to during my MA course last year.