The New Whittaker.

TV This is one of those slightly obligatory Doctor Who related posts in which you all will have seen the above trailer/announcement but it feels like I should post it anyway so that it's a fixed point in time when looking back through the blog in the future. Plus, I can start the relevant label/keyword for these posts.  Expect my instareaction tomorrow night depending on how long the tennis match runs on for and whether I have to cook the dinner.

Just so this isn't a complete lost cause, here's some added content.  Earlier, Clayton Hickman solicited responses on how we each found out about each new incarnation of Doctor Who.  Here's my list, correcting a few things I got wrong when I tweeted him back:

1:  Wasn't born yet
2:  Wasn't born yet
3:  Wasn't born yet
4:  Wasn't old enough to be watching yet
5:  The end of Logopolis
6:  The Doctor Who Radio Times 20th Anniversary Special
7:  BBC TV News
8:  The Guardian
9:  BBC News
10:  Watching Casanova or as it turned out a midnight press release which acted more as a confirmation than anything.
11:  That random Doctor Who Confidential
12:  The live show.

Oh and for completion sake:

Shalka:  The Doctor Who Official Website

WAR:  The Name of the Doctor (although set photos indicated her was going to be playing someone)

Who's next?  Tonight the betting patterns which gave away Capaldi have started gather again around Jodie Whittaker which given the Broadchurch connection doesn't feel like utter bullshit and a could be a very good thing indeed if you're ticking boxes.  Long career, range of work, bloody good actor.  We'd be lucky to have her.  We'll see.

A Viewing Order for all of the Claire Temple episodes in the Netflix MARVEL series.

TV Claire Temple, so winningly played by Rosario Dawson is my favourite character in the whole of the MCU, films or television. Appearing across the Netflix series, she's always the one thing I look forward to and indeed in Iron Fist she's about the only reason to continue watching later in what's otherwise a quite boring and confused series.

 With The Defenders finally arriving in a month's time, I don't currently have time to binge repeat everything so I've decided to just watch those episodes featuring Temple, see how much of a coherent story they are on its own.

As an aid, I've created this watch this for the episodes in which she features across the series which about three of you might also find useful too:

Daredevil (Season One).

2. Cut Man
4. In the Blood
5. World on Fire
6. Condemned
11. The Path of the Righteous

Jessica Jones (Season One).

13. AKA Smile

Daredevil (Season Two).

3. New York's Finest
10. The Man in the Box
11. .380

Luke Cage (Season One).

5. Just to Get a Rep
6. Suckas Need Bodyguards
7. Manifest
8. Blowin' Up the Spot
10. Take It Personal
11. Now You're Mine
13. You Know My Steez

Iron Fist (Season One).

5. Under Leaf Pluck Lotus
6. Immortal Emerges from Cave
8. The Blessing of Many Fractures
9.The Mistress of All Agonies
11. Lead Horse Back to Stable
13. Dragon Plays with Fire

Literally Beaming.

Science Every day, I find myself gaping open mouthed as what seemed like something which could only happen in the future not too long ago is suddenly presented to me. Yesterday it was the ability to stream an otherwise obscure eighty year old silent film from China instantaneously through my television.

 Here's my open mouthed gape moment for today.

First object teleported to Earth's orbit:
"Chinese researchers have teleported a photon from the Gobi desert to a satellite orbiting five hundred kilometres above the earth."
The AV Club has a user friendly explanation but if I remember my Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual correctly, the methodology is almost precisely the same as that imagined in the 60s and developed across the years by successive writers albeit on a much more complex scale --  reprogramming particles in one place so that they're resemble a source pattern.  We're still probably hundreds of years away from being able to move a person let alone a more complex object but good god.  Gape.  Open mouthed.

We Need To Talk About Peter Parker.

Film Spider-man: Homecoming is out and it was pleasure to see its gloriousness at the lunch time showing in Screen One at FACT's Picturehouse in Liverpool. Short audience report.  About ten of us, barely a peep out of anyone apart from me laughing like a hyena on the front row. I'm amazed no one went out to complain about the noise I was making.

Few films this year have made me laugh this much, just as few films have had me this enraptured, hanging on to every moment.  Visually and narratively rich, it's simply one of the best comic book films ever made.  But enough of that hyperbole, let's survey some talking points.

There will be spoilers.

Having never really had much love for the Raimi films, enjoying The Amazing Spider-Man more than most, this feels to me like the most "Spiderman" film of the lot, the one which seems to preserve the essence of the comics, gets the character right.  It builds on what we saw in Civil War, the excitable teenager still happy to have these amazing powers, still discovering what he's capable of.

This is the best Spiderman film ever.

Why does it succeed?  By tossing out everything but the essence of the character and his mythology.  If the Raimi films are akin to the ITV Sherlock Holmes adaptations starring Jeremy Brett and the following two films starring Andrew Garfield are  Sherlock, Spiderman: Homecoming is Elementary.  Loads of recognisable elements reconfigured in the service of telling a good story.

Where the previous films were in a rush to introduce the more iconic elements like the Daily Bugle and JJJ, Mary-Jane and Gwen Stacy, Oscorp and the Green Goblin, probably admittedly with a view to not repeating itself Homecoming offers a much revised version of the Vulture, a younger Aunt May and a bunch of school friends who are totally unrecognisable from those who appear in the comic.

We don't really know the extent to which Spidey's mythology has been added to the MCU's rights database, how much the MCU actually has access to and so working creatively around.  Plus the walled garden approach to their various iterations means we're unlike to see Vincent D'ONofrio turn up at some future point as Kingpin who's another of Spidey's great antagonists.  

Was there too much MCU?  No.  Not at all.  If MARVEL finally have the chance to put Spiderman into their universe why wouldn't they take advantage and allow for his existence to be entirely absorbed into the mythology?  It might even be possible that one of the reasons SONY agreed to the deal was on the understanding that a major player like Iron Man would appear in the film to make it distinctive to their previous offerings.

One of the problems with the previous films was that his existence and that of the villains never quite sat well without being part of some larger universe filled with superhumans.  Spiderman by his nature, along with numerous other "street level" heroes, exists to contrast with the gods and their epic intergalactic battles.  Whenever he becomes involved, he is often the audience's way in to the madness.

Homecoming makes that contrast the key story point, of Peter learning that he's not old enough to join the big guys yet, that he should be content to be kid with extraordinary powers, dealing with neighbourhood problems, not to try and skip his development and to an extent training.  In all of the fight scenes he's clumsy.  He's yet to completely develop his skills.

One of the earlier 60s strips had a newly bitten Spiderman turning up at the Baxter Building attempting to become a member of the Fantastic Four.  He failed badly and it wasn't until many years later (barring a few What If? stories) that he had a chance to join that group, when he was older, wiser and ready.  The five film arc is pretty carefully mapped out from.

Homecoming has some huge moments for long terms fans of the MCU and the ongoing narrative.  The Avengers vacating the New York skyline -- who could they have possibly sold the tower to?  Plus Tony and Pepper are back together.  As we've discussed in the past I bloody love Gwyneth Paltrow and seeing her brief return to acting here was a real treat.  When they kissed I sighed.

That chemistry was one of the engines which made the Iron Man films work and seeing them back together is brilliant (however understandable it was that she didn't appear in Civil War given the tone of that film).  This brief scene is the MCU equivalent of the doorstep epilogue between Tim and Daisy at the end of the Spaced DVD documentary.  Hopefully we'll see more of this during Infinity War.

I wouldn't be quiet if that were my job.

Music Find above the digital equivalent of those films which show jaffa cakes or meat pies on a production line. It's a fascinating look how some parts Spotify work, in particular those whose job it is to programme a playlist. The surprise is the immense amount of work and heart which goes into choosing the tracks, important because of the number of subscribers which use the playlist. If the effects she can have on the careers of these artists isn't overstated, she's single handedly fulfilling much of BBC Radio One's remit albeit on a much smaller scale, though it'd be interesting to know how many artist have broken out because she's decided to add them to the list.


UGWE, Reggie. 2016. Inside The Playlist Factory. In. Buzzfeed.

KOUMIS, Athena.  2017.  Fresh Finds.  In.  Spotify.

Romola on Everything.

Theatre The Stage has a huge interview with Romola Garai about her career, the challenges of being a mother in theatre and screen work and various other bits and pieces. On the West End revival of the RSC's Queen Anne:
“For me it is predominantly about a female friendship that is destroyed by politics, which is rare. Although its a historical play and you feel that Helen Edmundson has done a great deal of research for it, something at its heart feels very personal and leapt out at me. I found the portrait of two women locked in a highly dysfunctional relationship very moving. Because it has lasted since childhood, it has become quite warped in some ways. They could reassess their relationship in a positive way, but they don’t. Sarah, particularly, doesn’t have the strength of character to bring that about and so it explodes, and politics is the thing that initiates that.”
The play runs for thirteen weeks from the 30 June. Do we know what the shooting schedule for the next series of Doctor Who is?

Petite Padme.

Film Here's an other tiny reunion for The Clones Wars courtesy of Forces of Destiny.   Featuring Catherine Taber with her uncanny Portman sounding rendition of Padme, it's a fun bit of business.  Just don't read the synopsis first because it literally is a synopsis, the whole story.


Politics Just after the 20th January, I decided that unlike previous US presidencies, I'd be omitting mention of the leader of the free world on here because he's getting so much coverage elsewhere that it's entirely pointless. But there's no denying that his existence has had a profound effect on discourse and that's especially true of social media, so I'm breaking the rule on this occasion to offer my solution.

Twitter is still somewhere I spend a lot of time online, finding, for all its faults, it a much more flexible and understandable place than Facebook. But the election has led to it becoming somewhat monosyllabic and despite the range of voice in my timeline, he's become the main subject of conversation presumably because of the extinction level element of his existence. When a disaster is ongoing, everybody wants to talk about it.

But it's had the effect of destroying some of the random element of Twitter even amongst the three and half thousand people I follow. Admittedly plenty of those are journalists so it's bound to happen to some degree. But day on day for weeks, I was met with a wave of identical stories about whatever new bile he's decided to post to his own Twitter account or think pieces about what stupid or cruel or weird thing he's done in meatworld.

Then I realised that I could wipe it all out in one swoop especially now that Twitter's filtering tools have parity across all the platforms. I visit the filtering section on Tweetdeck and Twitter and added his surname.

Suddenly my timeline went back to resembling how it did two years ago. All the shock and awe and RTs of whatever he's had to say at three in the morning. Having to look at yet another photograph of his face, which is sometimes enough alone to increase my anxiety levels. Now I can go back to watching people talk about other "important" things without having to mentally filter him out to. He's filtered for me.

He's not gone completely. This doesn't knock out mentions of POTUS or the surname with an apostrophe or when an article or tweets talks about "America" really meaning him. I could remove all of that too, but it's still good to have some idea of what's happening. The volume is lower, there's a lot less repetition. If I miss something, if it's "important" it'll be in the news anyway, either online or television or radio.

Making Merrily We Roll Along.

Film Lately due to not having to be at work, I've been watching lots of documentaries from streaming services, mainly about making films, with this and that. Most of these are about disastrous projects, attempting to turning a project which didn't ultimately find fruition into something tangible.

This morning over breakfast, I found The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, the story of Stephen Sondheim's rare Broadway failure, 1981's Merrily We Roll Along, directed by Lonny Prince one of the key cast member who is now a successful stage director in his own right.

Profoundly moving in a number of ways, it takes the key element of the musical, contrasting the positivity of youth with the cynicism of middle age and through archive documentary footage applies it to the members of the original cast showing what happened to them after their dream turned to disaster.

The trailer is at the official website, but I'd suggest you see the film with as little preparation as possible.  Few documentaries I've seen have captured what it must have been like on Broadway in that era and a cautionary tale of how you can't let one event define your entire life (which is something I need to keep reminding myself too).