"I've been on a calendar, but never on time." -- Marilyn Monroe

Time I recently admitted to my parents that I really didn't understand how pre-decimalisation money worked. Even though I explained that having been born in 1974 and having never used a shilling (except for when they were pretending to be five pences right into the eighties) I would never need to know how it worked, but it was still explained to me in no uncertain terms. Having 240 pence to the pound just seems wrong to me. Paradoxically, I'm quite happy with tennis scoring and the Gregorian calender which are equally nonsensical in their own ways.

Kuro5hin user circletimessquare on the other hand wonders what a decimal calender would look like:
"And the world is also on the same calendar, mostly, motivated by synchronization of business work. But unlike the metric system, the Gregorian Calendar is a hodge podge of historical and whimsical adjustments. Days of the week don't correlate with months, or years, and I still need to look up how many days there are in a given month now and then. You need to be an autistic savant to tell what day of the week a given month and year falls on. That's nonsense. The year can be divided in a lot simpler way than the anachronistic monstrosity that is the bastardized Roman Calendar."
And then somehow realises that there isn't really a decimal way of doing things. Although it's mostly because he keeps the 365 day year. Make it a thousand and then see what happens...

"The first Underground station ever opened was Baker Street in 1906. What was the point of that? Where would you go?" -- Paul Merton

Travel Only in the Britain could two c0mpletely different tube stations(1, 2) have exactly the same name because of their location. Only in modern Britain too would anyone want to change that.

"It's too bad she can't live, but then who does?" -- Graff, 'Blade Runner'

Film Despite my cashflow problems -- the more things change, the more they stay the same ad infinitum, I couldn't not pre-order the Blade Runner: The Final Cut five disc dvd boxset from Play.com for the staggeringly reasonable price of £17.99. As it is probably with many people, it's a film I've grown up with, from, in my early teens, seeing a heavily cut midnight showing on ITV one birthday night, right through to a couple of Christmases ago when I finally saw it projected in the 'director's cut' version at the Chester Odeon from a cruddy old print so bad that the usher came out an apologized beforehand. It might have been blurry and covered in dirt and hairs but it had bags of atmosphere.

The box set is about as comprehensive as they come. It includes the original version with the voice over and offcuts from The Shining stuck on the end, plus an international version with four minutes of violence editing back in, then the so-called 'director's cut' put together by a fan then approved by Ridley Scott (the one with the unicorn and no voiceover) and the legendary 'work print' which was shown at a 70mm film festival in New York and led to the re-evaluation of the work which has some different scenes and dialogue and then the new, new version which extra pick-ups to cover up continuity errors, new SFX. And all of the deleted scenes. The list of extras is here although the promised Channel 4 Mark Kermode documentary seems to be missing which is a shame.

In Wired magazine, Ridley Scott talks about putting the dvd together. He's in bullish mood:
"I read an article recently saying that one of the reasons the film has found an ongoing audience is that it was incomplete. That's absolute horseshit. The film was very specifically designed and is totally complete. In those days, there was more discussion than was welcome, as far as I'm concerned. [Screenwriter] Hampton Fancher, [producer] Michael Deeley, and I talked and talked and talked — every day for eight months. But at the end of the day, there's a lot of me in this script. That's what happens, because that's the kind of director I am. The single hardest thing is getting the bloody thing on paper. Once you've got it on paper, the doing is relatively straightforward."
It's interesting to note this isn't a 'special edition' in the style of his Gladiator -- he hasn't just dropped in all of the deleted scenes for the hell of it -- he's left out anything which would hurt the piece. Just so long as it ends on a foil unicorn and the closing of some lift doors, I'll be happy.

"I played with Willie Nelson, and now I'm just waiting for Detox" -- Monk, 'Monk'

Music Our Playground also wrote about their BBC Proms experience this year. Something in this post really chimed with me:
"On the side, I am finding myself contracting what can be called Proms Syndrome. Due to regular world class concert attendance lately, I have found work especially dull. I think my nerves were stimulated by such colourful music as Shostakovich, Buckner, Beethoven and Mahler, everything else just pales in comparison. At least this week, I can still go to the nightly Proms to get my daily dosage, what about afterwards? I should admit myself to a clinic of classical music detox programme?"
That's exactly what it's been like for me -- not so much work but everything. All of the things I used to do just seem less -- well less. The other night I finished reading a book about The Proms from the 1970s (not bad, too many lists) listening to Beethoven's Symphonies conducted by Simon Rattle and it was like taking caffeine having been off the stuff for a few weeks.

"I love your assistant. I have the same one in beige." -- Fabia, 'Ugly Betty'

People The Tao of Beige: "When people ask you what you are doing for Christmas, say “I’m going home to Sweden to see my family. My cousin Lars must be so big now!” This works particularly well if you are a very deep beige."

"The last time you saw her she looked a lot thinner. Now your parents told you she moved to Peru..." -- Pheobe, 'Friends'

Geography Sarsparilla offers something short of 615 Things You Didn't Know About Peru: "Did you know that Peru has more indigenous languages than any other country in the world except Afghanistan? Sixty seven? Take that, Wales."

"No, but really Stephen, what is it like, being famous? Go on." -- Stephen Fry

People I'm sure you've read this already, but just in case. It's Stephen Fry on fame: "Oh, very well then. I can only tell you what being famous as Stephen Fry is ‘like’, of course. I suppose there must be some elements to the experience that I have in common with other famous people, but in the end being famous as Stephen Fry is not the same as being famous as Carl Sagan or David Furnish or Vernon Kaye."

"I'm not too worried about it, really. I wouldn't worry about it. Don't worry about it. I'm not worried at all." -- Evan, 'Superbad'

Film I'm yet to see Superbad, but the reviews have been decidedly mixed and none moreso than in the graffiti I saw on this poster outside of our local Odeon cinema tonight as I passed by tonight after work.

The makeshift speech bubble above the first from left said:

'I'm gay'

Above the second:

'This film is shit.'

Above the third (the person with the blue marker having probably run out of inspiration):


Straight and to the point, I think you'll agree. I'll let you know what this street reviewer has to say about future film releases. Or next time the poster is swapped around.

"a Vermeer that was not a Vermeer" -- Holland Cottier, 'New York Times'

Art Something I've been enjoying whilst I've (slowly) beening appreciating music is understanding how European orchestral music has developed, that thing that everyone calls 'classical music' isn't just some amorphous mess of ideas some of which work, but a slow development of style from romantic music through baroque and onward. That's what appreciation is about -- learning about the context of were this music came from helps you to understand and therefore enjoy it better.

Funnily enough, I'm not sure the same is the case with punk and its offshoots. There can't be many people who'll look at The Sex Pistols and Green Day and think they're from the same period. They can see how one developed into the other and eventually became Blink 182, Wheatus then Busted, McFly and good god The Jonas Brothers with Sham 69 and The Foo Fighters probably somewhere in there too.

My point is... what was my point? My point is, if you're not careful the origins of classical art forms can become shrouded, their historical niches obscured and they simply lose their impact to the viewer/listener. Applying this to painting, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are holding one of those major exhibitions “The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Painting" and askewing the usual patterns are displaying the works in the context of who the donor was and when they where acquired by the gallery:
"In this arrangement the history of Dutch “Golden Age” art begins in the American Gilded Age of the late 19th century, when the Met first opened its doors. The exhibition’s stars are not Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals, but J. P. Morgan, Collis P. Huntington, William K. Vanderbilt and Louisine and H. O. Havemeyer."
In other words it says as much about the acquisition policy of the gallery than the art itself; it's the municipal equivalent of Rob Fleming, the protagonist 0f Nick Hornby's High Fidelity putting his record collection in chronological order and more importantly to truly appreciate the effort, you need to have been there; this is an exhibition by and for curators.

More importantly by throwing away the chronology, you're ditching the context that makes sense of the painting; as the reviewer Holland Cottier notes at the close of the piece: "Instead I wanted information about what they depicted, about the paint they were made of and about the hands that brushed the paint on. I wanted to know what the artists — Rembrandt, say — might have been thinking. And I wanted to know what 17th-century viewers saw when they looked at these pictures, what these pictures said in their time." Part of my thinks that actually seeing these paintings in what to the eye should seem relatively random allowing them to sit in their own right and like my regional gallery visits being able to see the unheralded gems. But then, there's only so many times you can randomly listen to music from your hard disk before you just have to cue up REM's Automatic For The People and listen from Drive right through to Find The River [via].

Shak Attack

I have of late, but wherefore I know not retreated to Shakespeare. I think it's no doubt the post-academic slump, the shift from one state back to 'nother, the determination to hear beautiful language still ahead of such discourses as party speeches, by kings and princes, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. To be honest, I think it be infecting my mode of speech. Same thing happened between original school and college, but I was less worldy wise then and none to familiar with the ways of the world, less sharper than the serpents tooth, without money in my purse.

The upshot of this is that when I look at something like John Sutherland's bit of fun in yesterday's Guardian about the so-called poor passages in Shakespeare's plays I begin to grumble, especially because he's very very wrong (in my humble opinion). He explains initially thusly (sorry, I'll stop it now):
"The proposition that not all Shakespeare is Shakespeare-great was put forward by Frank Kermode in his recent book on the bard's language. Kermode came out and said what most audiences secretly think - a lot of Shakespeare is impossible to understand."

"Following Dromgoole and Hall's allegations, "Crap Shakespeare" will probably be a fashionable parlour game over the next few weeks. What, it will be mischievously asked, are your candidates for the worst ever lines in our nation's best ever plays?"
Which seems perfectly reasonable -- Shakespeare is known to have loved a tipple and it's supposed that it ended up killing him. But did it effect his writing? Sutherland presents a cornucopia of examples but none of them quite ring true for me. So if you'll indulge me, it's time for us to have a conversation (with some help from a few friends).

When, for example, pondering whether to be or not to be, Hamlet fantasises about "taking arms against a sea of troubles", what does Shakespeare expect us to see in our mind's eye? Some mad idiot firing a blunderbuss into the waves from the end of Brighton pier?

Harold Jenkin's Arden Edition of the play suggests that although this line has been objected to, it explains that 'the incongruity of taking arms against a sea is expressive of the idea - the futility of fighting against an uncontainable and overwhelming force'. Sutherland leaves off the point of the line too -- it ends with 'and by opposing end them' -- which in Jenkins words means -- 'not by overcoming them but (paradoxically) by being overcome by them'. Like Milton, Shakespeare's verse is filled with double meaning and irony. It's about the ending of 'troubles' by 'opposing' -- and Hamlet understanding that inevitably the only outcome to his course of action is the destruction of everything he knows and perhaps himself (I'm not convinced he's sure of that at this point in the play especially since this line is from the 'To Be Or Not To Be' speech).

The richest hunting ground for crap lines is the "Scottish play" - a dramatic work which is so terrifying to actors that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid playing in it (think of Peter O'Toole - has his reputation as a classic Shakespearian actor ever recovered from that disastrous 1980 production at the Old Vic?).

Actually that sentence should really read 'has his reputation as an actor ever recovered from appearing in High Spirits with Steve Guttenberg, but I digress. I can't think of any actors who have avoided Macbeth when asked or cast -- it's K2 to Hamlet's Everest. You've done one, you have to do the other.

It's not just the witches - although all that double, double, toil and trouble stuff is pretty blotworthy.

Is it really. So setting up the texture of the play and creating a bit of mystery isn't? Oh Ok.

Apart from Macbeth's soliloquies, the porter's half-pissed prose and Lady Macbeth's mad musings, the play is, to borrow a mixed metaphor, a veritable sea of crap.

Hey, Jimmy, j'ya wannu taek this oussi'?

What actor, for example, can utter, without an inward shudder, King Duncan's opening line: "What bloody man is that?" One can imagine Prince Charles saying it, on glimpsing Nicholas Witchell on the slopes at Klosters. But Duncan, in the play, has just come across a soldier horribly wounded in the civil war that is tearing his country apart. A certain urgency would seem to be in order.

I'm suspecting a double meaning here but really this is about stage craft. This is only the second scene of the play, so after the witches, Shakespeare is setting up the world the characters will inhabit. This was written for the Elizabethan age of theatre, remember, The Globe, a place without sets and precious much in the way of costuming and special make-up effects. When Duncan says the line, he's indicating that the solidier is wounded so that the image is fixed in the imagination of the groundlings -- that's why these plays tend to also work so well on audio -- it's the same technique used in radio to create setting.

It is also the first appearance of a usage or allusion to the word 'blood' which according to Kenneth Muir in the Arden edition of the play is used over a hundred times throughout. If one wanted to pick, its that the solidier then has a whole speech to work through explaining the plot and who this Macbeth character is -- but we're not told how badly he is wounded (could be just a flesh wound) and in any case the fact that he's prepared to risk his life to let his King know the matter gives Duncan a certain authority that increases the enormity of Macbeth's dirty deed later.

If you were a young actor given his big chance with Macduff, and you wanted to catch Michael Billington's notice in the front row, would you really want to leap on stage, claymore in hand, with the line "Turn, hell-hound, turn!"? I have heard audiences yowl with uncontrollable mirth at that ejaculation. Another career-killer.

Sure this is rum stuff but looking at the rest of the scene (Act V, Scene 8) and the context it's part of the swash and buckle that occurs in many of these plays and Errol Flyn movies when the really meaty talk is over and the fighting begins. To pick this line out of the rest of poetry does seem like grasping at straws. It's often forgotten that Shakespeare was just as interested in the bottom line as possible literature and this is part of one of the crowd pleasers.

There is also, at this point in the tragedy, a feebleness in the plotting, which does incline one to the suspicion that the playwright was drinking too deeply of mine host's four-star in the Tabard the night before. You will remember the great plot twist. No man "of woman born" can kill Macbeth. How does he know? The witches (is this for real?) have told him so. Lay on, Macduff.

Well no, it isn't for real. It's fantasy -- was Macbeth mad when he saw the figure of Banqou or was it a ghost -- some productions have it both ways, but given the presences of WITCHES I'm inclind to go with the latter.

And how is the villain confounded? "Know that Macduff," our good guy says, "was from his mother's womb untimely ripped." Collapse of hell-hound. Heads on poles. Happy times for Scotland. But what, the audience will wonder as they file out of the theatre, does "untimely ripped" actually mean? A Caesarian? Premature delivery? Was the Macduff foetus removed at the point of conception and, by the advanced technology of 15th-century alchemy, brought to term in a test tube? Even in medieval Scotland, surely, you are still "born of woman" even if you did pop out, or were pulled out, a month or two early?

Well, actually in Elizabethan times, I'd say that yes the baby could have been taken from the womb and not be called a birth because it wasn't through the natural and at the time largely sacred process. So Macduff was not of woman born according to those values -- and if you really want to stretch the issue it could have been a male who aided the removal of the child and not some medieval midwife -- arguably the man would have been the one holding and being able to use the big knife (see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, no really, do).

There is a quality of "who gives a toss?" in the play which, sadly, bears out Dromgoole's heresy. Homer sometimes nods. And Shakespeare occasionally suffers from dramatist's droop.

Or you're applying modern stage craft and expectations on four hundred year old plays which had very specific staging requirements and when audiences had very different expectations.

See what happens when I start reading and listening to Shakespeare? Aspirations of grandeur.

I'm going back to bed now, my joints are beginning to ache in that 'oh shit I've got a cold' kind of way.

"I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." -- Groucho Marx

Facebook Further to this, I've set up a Facebook group for the blog, since there seems to be one for everything these days. I tried this once before in days of yore at Yahoo! and it became a veritable spam magnet. Hopefully this will work out better.

"That's right, conspiracy buff. I spent $75 million on a fake presidential campaign just to tick Superman off. " -- Lex Luthor

Film The Justice League film still seems like a very bad idea and the worst kind of film studio premature ejaculation. Warners should wait until the Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman franchises have bedded in so that the resulting team up becomes a kind of Ocean's Eleven of superhero films. Instead, they're recasting the icons since neither Routh or Bale seem interested right now and after script details have been released it certainly looks like no one connected with the film has a clue; it's going through the same blanding out process which hurt everything from Fantastic Four to Transformers with The Flash having a crush on Wonder Woman (teen angst!) and whatnot. Ugh.

“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you” -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Journalism AlterNet thoroughly investigates an opinion piece by Fox News's Bill O'Reilly about the YearlyKos conference:
"On Monday night, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly aired a segment full of misleading, inaccurate claims attacking the upcoming YearlyKos blogger convention, its namesake DailyKos, and one of the event's sponsors, JetBlue. In his "report," O'Reilly cherry-picked an extreme minority of reader comments and diaries from the hundreds of thousands on DailyKos, claiming them to be representative of the community website and the greater netroots movement that will be gathering in Chicago on Aug. 2-5, 2007, for the progressive convention. Calling the netroots "the radical left" and DailyKos "hatemongerers" like "the Ku Klux Klan" and "the Nazi Party," O'Reilly compared YearlyKos to "a David Duke convention," calling it "one of the worst examples of hatred America has to offer."
I'm so glad we don't have anything like him in the UK. Oh wait, sorry we do.

"Whereto if you'll a willing ear incline, What's mine is yours and what is yours is mine." -- Duke, 'Measure For Measure'

Shakespeare The RSC's new bard themed tube map is a fascinating reminder and introduction to the various characters from throughout the plays and importantly very intelligently put together. From this detail, you can see how various symbols have been used to suggest various plot details, such as 'unisex toilets' right next to Rosalind. My favourite section though is reserved for Isabella and Duke Vincento from Measure for Measure which is on the broken red line denoting 'Lovers under construction', which works both for those of us who think Isabel treats the Duke's offer of marriage with the contempt it deserves at the close of the play and the romantics. It looks more like a dead end to me.

“Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place” -- Samuel Johnson

About Bit of housekeeping. Firstly, I already know what Review 2007 is going to be about so if any early birds are intrigued and think they might want to contribute they should email; I know it's not even October yet but nothing wrong in getting the ball rolling. Since I did all the work last year, this year it's your turn. For a look at what can happen, see Review 2005.

In other news, this is the regular delurking post just in case I do have any new readers I don't know about. More than ever I'm wondering who's reading, especially since, as previously mentioned I've had a fair few unsubscribeds in Bloglines which dented the ego somewhat. Perhaps they were right to, I'm not sure. Anyway, if you have joined 'us' recently (because y'know we're one big family) let us (me!) know.

Also, don't forget that if it doesn't seem like I've posted here for a day or so, it's because I've been noodling somewhere else. To read everything, should you want to, subscribe to the Tumblr's RSS feed, which collects together everything, including the filmlog which is what I've been updating tonight.

Now all I need to do is find something for you to read ...

The quote is in the post.

TV Tonight's More4 repeat of The West Wing was the vintage The U.S. Poet Laureate one aspect of which features Laura Dern giving a heartfelt performance as the titular bard, threatening not to appear at a White House dinner in her honour unless she's allowed to criticise the administration about not signing a landmine treaty it instigated. After some gentle coaxing from Toby, the poet changes her mind and delivers one of the best speeches I've heard in anything about what it is to be creative:
"There was a man in Banja Luka that I met. He took his son and I (pause) to go fishing in the Sava River. And the little boy hooked a piece of garbage and when he tried to take it off the line, it blew him up. Right in front of his father. And, right in front of me. . . . You think that I think that an artist's job is to speak the truth. An artist's job is to captivate you for however long as we've asked for your attention. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky, and I don't get to decide what truth is. . . . I write poetry, Toby. That's how I enter the world."

“I'm famous, but I'm not famous like freaking Brad Pitt or Jennifer Aniston.” -- Britney Spears

Advertising I know this is a month old, but that's just outrageous, and even more so given that a month later it's still being used by Elizabeth Arden. Why haven't monodonation got this sorted? [via]

"I'm right and you're wrong." -- Mark Kermode

TV Film critic Mark Kermode discovers television. Mark has always had a reputation for not watching television and so The Observer asked him to watch the likes of The West Wing and The Sopranos and talk about what he found:
"I cheer myself up with Entourage, which is far more recent and reassuringly rubbish. The premise, as you may know, is that an up-and-coming Hollywood star is surrounded by a coterie of tiresome buddies, liggers and hangers-on, all of whom bask in his reflected glory. The style is flippant, vulgar and solidly unamusing. I don't care about, or believe in, any of these people. Every scene is structured around an ad-break and the entire venture seems aimed at viewers with the attention span of a gnat. It makes the dismal James Woods legal-eagle 'drama' Shark seem positively heavyweight in comparison."
What's perhaps most enthralling about it all is that Kermode has a habit of saying something contrary about a film which in the following weeks becomes gospel. Here, his analysis of these shows is exactly what people where saying about them five or six years ago.

Revenge of the Slitheen (Part One)

TV As a partially religious man I rarely take the lord’s name in vain, but Jesus Christ, children’s television is loud. When the presenters aren’t shouting at you, there’s a retina searing barrage of shapes and colours, cg baubles bouncing around to a soundtrack which in the late nineties would have been described as hard-core and that’s even before the opening episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures begins. My reaction to all this is probably much the same as when adults saw what we were watching in the eighties and looked wistfully backwards to Watch With Mother. Anyway, there’s a job to be done and with all the eye patch references threatening to consume this place, it’s best that for the first time ever I write the title in bold to save confusion:

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Revenge of the Slitheen: Episode One.

Well quite. In this month’s Doctor Who Magazine, during the 2Entertain interview one of the captions reads ‘The Trial of a Timelord will be a future DVD box set’ which sounds too much like a threat for my liking and the title of this episode is in much the same vein. Episode director Keith Boak not withstanding, the Slitheen were something of a lead weight around the neck of the first run of the new series, a bit too bash and loud and amused with themselves to be effectively scary, with only Annette Badland’s later turn in Boomtown hinting at the darkness inherent in their ability to scoop out the insides of their host and using the skin as a disguise. The potential was for this particular revenge to be of the Montezuma variety.

But as this episode proves it's all a matter of context; like the Autons in Rose, this is a new series being launched with the return of a familiar alien and within the setting of this kids show, with apparently smaller plans (which aren’t yet completely revealed) the big green lumpies work far better particularly as they fart and gurgle their way about, mixing perfectly into the teaching staff who in my day not only imparted knowledge but were veritable One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest of irritating habits, the bizarre turns of phrase, the plastic tubing they’d (disturbingly) give us a smack on the bum with, the bit of saliva permanently hanging out of the corner of their mouths, they all seemed to be aliens frankly and we all wished they’d embarrass themselves by passing gas once in a while too.

Here they frightened because of they way they were shot, director Alice Troughton (any relation?) selecting to shoot them from the floor, a child’s point of view, their imposing mass often filling the screen, a corridor or stairwell, their taunts exactly like those you’d here from a school bully. It helped too that the suits have obviously been augmented, much greener and far less static than in their first appearances, no cutting to non-matching CG required as they bounded about, their mouths far more flexible as they spoke, the offspring at the close of the episode, a wonderful creation. These are the aliens of London as they could have been, a reflection of what the various teams making Doctor Who have learned in the past couple of years.

Like Invasion of the Bane, this story flashed by at a lick but amazingly somehow managed to fit some neat characterization inside as Luke tries to come to terms with being human. As hinted at in that first episode, he’s on a Data-like path of discovery trying to work out the nuts and bolts of what fourteen year old kids are supposed to be like, far brighter than his classmates and inevitably being picked on because of it. There’s more than a chance he could be the break-out character, poster-boy for all the gifted youngsters stuck in the state school system, breezing through quadratic equations when what they really want to try is some quantum physics.

Much of the taunting oddly comes from Clyde, a better fit than Kelsey, far wittier than his predecessor and more complex; he’ll hopefully mellow as the series goes on. Understandably its these characters which were at the forefront of this adventure, but Sarah Jane did get some nice material related to becoming a mother, with Liz Sladen still succeeding in developing the character even within the staccato scene length of the episode. Maria also had less to do but she’s was already well established in the pilot and it is still early days; it’s interesting that she already seems very comfortable with her ‘companion’ role to Miss Smith implying that other adventures have been happening since Christmas.

It is amusing though how structurally the episode somehow managed to fall into the trap of the classic Doctor Who series, with twenty minutes of plot followed by five minutes of running (or sitting) around until the cliffhanger arrived. How despite having their name in the title, said cliffhanger largely revolved around the reveal of the Slitheen something most kids will have been aware of having watched the dvds a hundred times? I suspect it’s all part of some meta-reference, the production team producing new Doctor Who in the style of the old and they’re purposefully dropping in these quirks so that old fans will feel right at home.

This, then is a series largely defining its own path but still looking and sounding far more like a Doctor Who spin-off than Torchwood despite so far having less continuity references, with the exception of the Judoon and Blathereen (which, as Paul notes in the comments to this review, along with the mention of Justicia in Boomtown, makes the spin-off novel The Monsters Inside about as canonical as any of those things have ever been).

Certainly in the second half, as we’ve seen from the rather too long preview (which should be put at the end of the credits surely), some of the discoveries from the Slitheen's original adventure will be made again, and it’ll be up to writer Gareth Roberts to make sure that the climax isn’t simply a rerun of what we saw there but a development. The key is to provide enough magical moments such as the candles popping back on by themselves after the power cut, and to be simpler than its mother series without becoming simplistic.

So far, it’s right on track.