"Regeneration and reincarnation lie at the heart of many Nigerian cultures..."

TV Now that the excitement has dampened down a bit, some more considered opinions are being posted about the return of Doctor Who's The Enemy of the Web of Fear, for example, this rather good column from The Guardian's Bim Adewunmi about her own fandom, developed whilst watching the show in her native Nigeria:
"...if ever there was a culture that would readily embrace the idea of a man from a faraway place and time, parachuting in to poke his nose into the business of mere mortals, it is Nigeria's. The time travel conceit was also an attractive element for Nigerian audiences. I'm Yoruba, and time travel resides in our very names – for example, Yetunde, Yeside and Iyabode are all names given to the first granddaughter born after the death of a grandmother. Regeneration and reincarnation lie at the heart of many Nigerian cultures, so the Doctor's returns in new bodies was not necessarily alien to us, just a little more literal than normal."

WHO 50: 2009:
Planet of the Dead.

TV Sadly, Planet of the Dead’s always considered something of the runt of the small litter of adventures broadcast in the so-called gap year, lacking the psychological weight of The Waters of Mars or the event status of The End of Time but it’s the episode which I’ve probably watched the most.

Partly there’s a technological reason for that. When HD televisions were initially being sold in shops, Planet of the Dead was on the show reel produced by the BBC to simultaneously sell the technology and to publicise the fact that they making and broadcasting programmes in that format.

The Doctor’s desert adventures were the first to be shot in the new format and because of all the “sand” made for a good demonstration of what this new definition was capable of. The clip chosen was the scene when the Doctor’s first investigating, letting the grains of silica slip through his fingers.

It was then subsequently one of the first releases by the BBC in the new blu-ray format  and of course I bought it when I too had a player and watched it and have since watched it again and again with each subsequent blu-ray player purchased. Each time I’ll think I’m only going to watch the sand bit but end up seeing the whole thing.

My original review is here and pretty much explains all the reasons why. It’s such good fun and has in Lady Christina De Souza my favourite of the one off companions that isn’t Sally Sparrow. She’s an excellent reminder that the television show doesn’t have to always need to have “realistic” companions. Sometimes it can be a comic strip.

But it is interesting how much high definition changes Doctor Who. However cinematic nuWho was in its first four seasons, standard definition still often gave it a “video” quality so that it didn’t look that much different to the final McCoy years. More epic in scale, but still slightly flat.

Planet of the Dead doesn’t. Even though it was being shot in roughly the same style, there’s a greater immediacy, it’s more cinematic, especially when the sun flashes through the interior of the bus or rain splashes against the motorway. I remember noticing this even when it was originally broadcast in standard definition.

That’s become more pronounced in the Moffat era. Now, Doctor Who looks like a series of mini-feature films, in the way we all sort of wish the series always had been, when we look at Spearhead from Space or the jungle sequences in Planet of Evil and thinking mistily about how we wish the whole series had been shot that way.

Directorial choices abound, of course, but there’s not one episode since then, even when the script calls for intimacy, which doesn’t scream to be shown on a big screen, even The God Complex, with its corridors and small rooms. There’s a scale and detail that begs for our attention.

Is anything lost? Perhaps. This cinematic format requires the camera to move, for there to be editing and so few scenes last very long or there’s a restless shot selection. If you think about some of the show’s best moments, “Have I that right?” “Some day I shall come back”, the camera is fixed and transfixed by a performance.

Which isn’t to say there haven’t been similar moments, but there seem to be less of them, reflecting modern television in general probably, especially in this genre’s television. Cop and law shows tend to still be more restful oddly, presumably because they’re more about looking and thinking rather than running.

But perhaps that’s what I also appreciate about Planet of the Dead. Like all the episodes that year it was still in the transition period, between old and new visual paradigms. Scenes do go on for quite some time, the camera does stay in position for more than one shot and the cosiness is still in evidence (“Chops in gravy”).

Now we’re nearing another potential paradigm shift as the 50th anniversary episode has been shot in 3D. How will that change its look? Will it look that much different? In a couple of weeks we’ll know. But it’s good to know that the show remains a key innovator and experimenter.

The Enemy of the Web.

TV There, as you read, as I type, people downloading Doctor Who's The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear from iTunes. Both of these stories, bar an episode of the latter, now exist in the world.

Off The Telly has a report from the press conference, lucky sods.  That must have been quite some happening.

Here's what seems to be the interview with Philip Morris (one of us!) (by mean one of us Liverpudians!) that was played out at the event:

Here are the trailers. Look at them, Look at them.

Or not.  It's probably more exciting to see these scenes in situ.

Scenes which up until now have been so familiar through telesnaps and audio are now moving around and have people talking in them. It's quite the most exciting thing. For some people, who chunks of personal history have been rewritten.

Doctor Who News has the full story.  We love you Philip Morris.

Yet I'll continue to wait.

For one thing, having, bar the back end of series eight of the new series, watched all of Doctor Who in chronological narrative order, even putting to one side dvds bought that didn't fit yet (The Ice Warriors, Shalka, Zygons), it seems a shame to stop when I'm so close to the end, with The Eleventh Hour next up.

For another, the DVD RELEASES are already up at Amazon. So:

Released! 22nd/25th November 2013 (the press release and Amazon are in dispute on that point)...

Released! February 24, 2014...

I mean, for goodness sake.


Film Will Self's hatchet job of Mark Kermode's new book Hatchet Job. On this point he's quite correct:
"And of course film has already changed a great deal: streaming is not analogous to the videocassette or DVD. Now we have instant access to an unparalleled library of films, books and recordings, we are wallowing about, really, in an atemporal zone of cultural production: none of us have the time – unless, like Kermode, we wish to spend the greater part of our adult life at it – to view all the films, read all the texts, and listen to all the music that we can access, wholly gratis and right away. Under such conditions the role of the critic becomes not to help us to discriminate between "better" and "worse" or "higher" and "lower" monetised cultural forms, but only to tell us if our precious time will be wasted – and for this task the group amateur mind is indeed far more effective than the unitary perception of an individual critic."
I sit here, typing this, because I'm experiencing a state of overload. With as Self says, so much available, where do you begin and it's especially difficult for someone whose Twitter biog says that they're "Intensely interested in everything."  With so many subjects available to be interested in, how do I choose what I am interested in?  Shakespeare, yes.  Film, yes.  Liverpool, yes.  Doctor Who, obviously.  But these are huge topics in and of themselves and at a certain point my brain has just, well ... um ... hmm ...

July, 2011 in October 2013.

Film The BFI Player launched tonight though not without some shenanigans. The apparent landing page still suggests users should return and register at 9pm even though the actual page is here. But that's just me being a cynical sausage. It's very existence is a marvel and there are many, many marvellous things, even for the price of nothing. Of course, I'm too tired now to really watch anything, but as a placeholder, here's a masterclass with Miranda July recorded for the slightly disappointing The Future but worth seeing nonetheless because it's beyond the structure it's entirely unlike any other Q&A of this kind you're likely to see.  As you can see, it's an embed.  The BFI Player allows that too.  The picture quality's sharp too on a decent connection. There's a link here if that's not working.


TV YouTube is awash with legally dubious uploads, but some companies, notably BBC Worldwise who upload whole programmes themselves for promotional purposes.

All3Media is another one.

Find on their YouTube channel whole drama series of varying vintages most of which haven't been released onto the home market or subscription services. Here they are with descriptive quotes from Wikipedia because I'm being lazy:

"The Palace was a British drama television series that aired on ITV in 2008. Produced by Company Pictures for the ITV network, it was created by Tom Grieves and follows a fictional British Royal Family in the aftermath of the death of King James III and the succession of his 24-year-old son, Richard IV, played by Rupert Evans. It also stars Jane Asher and Zoe Telford. The series was filmed on location in Lithuania in 2007 and broadcast from January to March 2008. It was axed after one series due to low viewing figures."

Serious & Organised doesn't have a Wikipedia page. The YouTube page says: "Martin Kemp in his first series role since leaving Eastenders, stars as a detective in the Serious and Organised squad. The National Serious and Organised Crime Unit is charged with dealing with the most dangerous and professional criminals in Great Britain: crime families, Triads, gangland killings, extortion; major drug suppliers."

"P.O.W. was a television series consisting of 6 episodes, broadcast on ITV in 2003. The series starred James D'Arcy and Joe Absolom. The drama series is based on true stories[citation needed], set in Germany in the year 1940 and follows the character of Jim Caddon as he is captured after his plane crashes during a bombing raid over Normandy. In contrast to previous entries in the World War Two prison escape genre such as The Colditz Story, it concentrated on escape attempts by other ranks rather than officers. The series was filmed in Lithuania and first broadcast on television on 10 October 2003. A second series has not been commissioned, though ITV followed it with several other World War Two dramas including Colditz and Island at War. The title "P.O.W." stands for "prisoner of war"." Note: the above playlist needs editing a bit. Have emailed them.

"Rose and Maloney is a British television crime drama starring Sarah Lancashire and Phil Davis as Rose Linden and Maloney, two investigators working for the fictional Criminal Justice Review Agency. This agency takes on claims of miscarriages of justice, assessing whether there are grounds to reopen old cases.  Rose is brilliant but strong-willed and sometimes reckless. She likes to follow her instincts and play hunches and often comes into conflict with authority. Maloney, although Rose's superior, usually allows himself to be led by his more passionate colleague. Maloney is a by-the-book man and a little grey. He finds working with Rose dangerous but addictively exciting.  A pilot was first broadcast on ITV on 29 September 2002. A series of three stories followed in July 2005."

Guardian The Queen. From YouTube: "For the very first time cameras have been allowed behind the scenes at the royal palaces to see the historic and hidden world of the Grenadier Guards."

Again, from YouTube: "WILLIAM'S WOMEN takes a light-hearted look at the world of royal dating. From the plusses to the pitfalls the programme takes a look at an area that is fraught with complications."

All3Media list also has loads of other channels listed here, but most of them just contain clips or Gordon Ramsey. Or both.

Caught In Another Moment

Music For completion sake, YouTube channel Reload Sessions have uploaded three performances from MKS, a cover version of Lorde's Royals, the really strong No Regrets from the new album and for group historians Caught In A Moment from Three with Siobhan covering Heidi's bits in that slightly triumphant way she has.

Bergman's Island.

Film Working my way through through the mumblecore back catalogue I've become something in awe of Greta Gerwig, which I know is a bit obvious and desperate but she's one of those rare actors whose persona reached the screen fully formed even from her earliest appearances in films where she's playing characters called Greta because there seemed little point in calling them anything else.

She recently appeared at a Q&A with Noah Baumbach at the New Yorker festival where they talked about favourite movies and things and mentioned a visit to Ingmar Bergman's island, the transcript of which sounds like a mumblecore improvisation:
“It’s the island that Bergman lived on, but he also shot six or seven of his movies there,” Baumbach said. “They’ll say, ‘That’s “Persona” Beach over there, and then past that is “Through a Glass Darkly” Beach.’ It was great for all the Bergman reasons, and then the island is just, like—”

“It’s enchanted. Noah kept saying it was the happiest he’d been in years.”

“I was using the word ‘magical,’ and meaning it. I keep trying to re-create it.”

Bergman died in 2007; his house is intact. “It’s not a museum; it’s just there,” Gerwig said. “On the back of his office door, he has a chart where he graded every month of his relationship with Liv Ullmann. For like twenty-five years. Some months got hearts, and some months got devils. And some months are just crossed out.”

“Are we allowed to talk about this?” Baumbach said.

“Yeah, no, we’re fine,” Gerwig said.

"the lost moon of Poosh"

Watching and listening to all of televised Doctor Who in order: The Tenth Doctor.


Music Mashable has a big long article about Spotify which makes many of the same points I have about the service for years, especially how some artists (Thom York) (Aimee Mann) have missed the point. This paragraph is especially important:
"Macias thinks his artists receive a fair deal from the music platform, but that it’s too early to judge the service in the U.S. “It's a tree that will grow into a very sustaining shelter,” he says.

He specifically cites Sweden, which he says has “grown into an entire forest,” as a prime example of the service’s potential impact on artists. The country has an estimated 1.5 million subscribers — 15% of its entire population. As a result, Spotify comprises 70% of the country’s entire pre-recorded music revenues, more than any other individual retailer. Macias says those figures still haven’t peaked as revenue has grown during each of the past five years, including a 14% jump in 2012 and a 12% rise so far in 2013.

“The impact isn't just theoretical or hypothetical — it's real,” he says. “How anyone can make the argument that this isn't a viable business or they don't pay rights holders?”

In a Billboard op-ed, the Thirty Tigers president applied the Swedish market to one of his American artists, singer-songwriter John Fullbright, as an example to project the service’s potential impact. He found a stark difference for the Oklahoma-based artist, who Macias noted had sold a little less than 20,000 records. Fullbright, who currently makes $2,300 from the service, could earn $65,000 if the U.S. had Sweden’s market penetration."
Far from suggesting they're the devil, musicians should be doing all they can to promote the service, encourage subscribers. The larger the user base, the greater the number of streams, the greater the amount of royalties paid. Some do, including the little green logo next to other social media options like Twitter and Facebook. In an ideal world there'd be vouchers for a free Premium month in physical cds or codes included in digital downloads or on concert tickets.

Let's address the important Doctor Who news then.

TV By tomorrow night, all being well, I will have completed the Tenth Doctor era in my quest to #whowatchorbust through everything generally considered official or some other things before the 23rd November. Glancing at this, I've managed to work through all three season plus specials of the main show, two and a half series of the Sarah Jane Adventures and three series of Torchwood in a month, which to be fair now that I see it typed on a screen doesn't seem like that much of an achievement, if achievement is even the right word for sitting and watching some telly in comparison to I don't know, this (to pick something recent), but nevertheless its shorter than the original broadcast period of about four years.  Being a fan of something means that the thing you're a fan of doesn't just exist as an artifact or text in and of itself.  It exists at the tip of an emotional and even intellectual iceberg the mass of which is everything which happened around it.  Life.  Which means rewatching all of that is like time compressing, the fragments all pressing up against one another, albeit in your own head, old friends, old online discussion, reading interviews in Doctor Who Magazine, buying the dvds, all pretty mundane of course, but still enough to create an existential Proustian hurricane.  I'll come back to this at a future point because let's face it you wouldn't imagine me to do otherwise.

In terms of watching them in this order, despite all the Turn Left shenanigans (see the updates at the bottom of the link, it holds up pretty well, especially for the gap year.  Post Journey's End, the Doctor travelling alone not wanting to have attachments means The Next Doctor, Dreamland and Planet of the Dead flow well into one another, then the six radio episodes of Torchwood acting as a neat prelude to Children of Earth, interrupted by Waters of Mars to explain why the Doctor's not available to help them out, he's trying to avoid everything.  Compressing the season and a half of SJA in afterwards is strange because of the shared Earth problem, but not as badly as you might expect considering most of them were broadcast long before the preceding episodes and although The Wedding of Sarah Jane does look initially like it should put before The Waters of Mars somehow because the Doctor seems more in character, his final look in the TARDIS when he doesn't look like he knows if he will see Sarah Jane again, plus the foreshadowing from the Trickster about The Gate in The End of Time means its actually in just the right place, the Doctor's bravado throughout masking the pain of the mistake he made in The Waters of Mars and the expectation of his inevitable downfall, assuming you can attribute any kind of pop psychological profiling to a space time event with a personality and mythologically fictional one at that.

Oh the other thing.  Well, since, as usual, we're all being treated like puppies with our tongues hanging out raising our paws in a begging motion desperate for information, I don't know what to think, as usual.  The People report today was a bit of a mess, a friend of a friend said they'd heard this, which for all its mainstream appearance was Gallifrey Base fodder.  But the Radio Times piece is a bit sketchy too.  Is it two episodes - as the story has been reinterpreted as by some - or episodes from two stories?  Will the whole stories be going up online or just the episodes which have been found and if its the latter isn't that a bit stingy on the people who don't happen to have a copy of Lost In Time to hand to fill in the gaps (and I know that sounds churlish considering but it's worth asking).  It also suggests they've been "digitally remastered for sale" - by whom - the Restoration Team has been denying all knowledge for months in strenuous terms.  The shadowy spokesperson's an interesting figure too - at one point they suggest that it's not true that missing episodes have been found but if that's the case, why the press conference, or are they referring to the whole omnirumour and the 90-106 or whatever?  Either way, even if they have been found, I can't be watching them.  I've the whole of the Matt Smith era to get through first ...


Film Costume, colour and semiotics of Heathers, with particular focus on parallels with the work of David Lynch. Warning, if you haven't seen Heathers (why not?) there are spoilers from the start:
"It is just a coincidence that the first time I saw Michael Lehmann’s Heathers (1988) was within hours of the first time I saw David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), and I immediately made comparisons between the two films which I may have not noticed otherwise. More people are quick to compare Heathers to the work of Tim Burton, because of the associates he had on the film (producer Denise Di Novi and star Winona Ryder, to name but two) and the fact that the candy-coloured suburban setting mirrors that of Edward Scissorhands (1990). But the picket-fenced world of Blue Velvet equally does so, and preceded both films, and only Blue Velvet matches Heathers in its extremity at portraying unusual characters, and capricious changes in editing and tone."
Heathers is currently available to stream at Netflix, incidentally.