Sugababes.com has updated. Up until a few years ago, the domain still hosted the final incarnation of the classic run of Sugababes with a background video of the chorus to Get Sexy blasting out on a loop. Which then gave way to various dummy pages for hosting companies with Go Daddy the most recent (according the archive.org). Now we find the original One Touch logo with letters spelling twenty sprinkled across, some social media and music links and a newsletter sign up box. The impression seems to be that something is happening related to the 20th anniversary of the album release although that was 27 November 2000 in the UK which we've well missed.   But it wouldn't be the Sugababes if there wasn't some lag between intention and result.  Flatline was released in 2013 and we're still waiting for the follow-up.
‘Sexual predator’: actor Noel Clarke accused of groping, harassment and bullying by 20 women.  Extremely uncomfortable and important reading. It's not for me to comment on anything in the article, the words of the victims speak for themselves.
Discussing Skateboarding with Filmmaker Werner Herzog. Skateboard magazine Jenkem decided to approach the director and ask him about their discipline and he's predictably extremely eloquent on a subject he has little or no connection to. But by the end, you'll want him to make a film on the subject even if it's just a collection of found footage and his voiceover, although that's sort of what we have here.
Third time lucky? Inside the RSC’s much-delayed Winter’s Tale. The Guardian visits the RSC during production on the re-imagining of this production which didn't make it to the stage last year.  There will be changes - not as much human contact for one thing.  We also have a transmission date and time.  It'll be on BBC Four at 7pm on Sunday 25 April, as part of the BBC’s Lights Up season.  The programme page is up.  Later that night, there'll also be a repeat of Scuffles, Swagger and Shakespeare: The Hidden Story of English unseen since its first and only broadcast in November 2019.

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies.

Shakespeare   Not having met anyone with the same fannish zeal about Shakespeare as your blogger does, on a par with Doctor Who, films and whatever new album Taylor Swift has released that week, I've no idea if we share the same interests or what's in vogue.  Is it the production history or a connection with a particular playhouse?  Is it the language of the plays, the sheer level of poetry beaming out of every page?  A particular play which seems to contain all of life's answers for better or worse?  Or is it the textual history, the inquiry into how a play's been transmitted, from the hand of Shakespeare and his collaborators, through the first printshops, to successive editors to the Arden Shakespeare currently to hand.  How much what we're reading or watching is by the man himself or a corruption which has inevitably cropped up across the centuries?

It's all of the above, of course it is, at least for me.  But it's the latter on which I'm particularly laser focused, the impossible search for the complete authorial voice, because there's a huge gap between what's generally known about the canon and how much of it was written by Shakespeare and the actually, that at least a dozen or so of the plays in the canon have been filtered through other hands and yet more anonymous plays for which he may have contributed.  Not to mention how mis-readings of manuscripts by weary "hands" in the print shops have led to some lines losing all sense, compounded by subsequent editors trying to rationalise what was originally meant creating yet more misunderstandings.

You can imagine the excitement (yes, excitement) with which I greeted the news of The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies, a guide to current research related to the plays on the page from the book trade within which they originally found publication, through a history of canonical studies to plays are edited and attributed in the modern age.  After seeing the press release from Arden, I put in a request, expecting perhaps a watermarked pdf but a couple of weeks later a hardback academic edition arrived by courier.  Even after all these years, it's still quite thrilling to have a book which would otherwise be on the shelf of an academic library all to myself, especially considering the price.

For the most part, this is a fully accessible read at least for this amateur with a pretty strong working knowledge of the subject.  As the preface explains, this new series of handbooks is designed to "provide researchers and graduate students with both cutting-edge perspectives on perennial questions and authoritative overviews on the history of research" or other words in this case, the state of play for textual studies in 2021.  It's to be used as a companion to material that appear in standard Shakespeare editions, some of which may be reprints of materials originally prepared twenty years ago, if not decades earlier and demonstrate that the discussion continues, that the publication of a play is a comma, not a full stop.

The book is split into four sections.  The introduction and first part set the scenes on textual studies, what they encompass and how they'll be investigated further as the book progresses.  Part Two offers the protein of this protean effort covering Shakespeare's manuscripts, the status of the earliest printed texts, how they fit within the early modern publishing industry, canonical studies and a history of editing from Rowe onwards.  Computerised processes are covered by part three, from algorithmic attribution studies to internet editions of the plays.  The final section offers a chronological publication history, a glossary of key terms, a full bibliography and list of resources.

As expected the key takeaway is that nothing is settled.  Everything I'd read to this point seemed to imply that Shakespeare's identity as hand D on the manuscript copy of Sir Thomas More held at the British Library was boiler-plated but the opening pages of the essay on manuscripts casts doubt on the methodology which has led to that attribution, suggesting that even if they're Shakespeare's words, there's no proof that it's his handwriting.  This logical, if emotionally dispiriting approach pervades the whole book, which lays bare the fallibility of academics and how even with decades of study behind them, that they're more than likely to bend the evidence around a misty-eyed fantasy of this genius and reflect that in their books.

There are two Shakespeares.  There's the working playwright who did well enough in his career to retire to Stratford and leave some money and property to his family on his death and a legendary being who's developed since,  Starting with the promotional material that preceded the collection of plays the publishers of the First Folio had the rights to, this transmogrification continued through Alexander Pope's edition which relegated to footnotes the sections he thought were unworthy of the writer to the proliferation of collected and individual editions in the twentieth century developed by editors with their own mission to find the platonic ideal of these plays either my conflating them together or publishing different versions as separate entities.

Except such things are impossible.  Everything is guesswork.  In his chapter on early printed texts, John Jowett demonstrates by printing them as a list how the single line from 1 Henry IV, "This matcht with other did, my gratious L." as originally printed in the first quarto in 1598 had by the seventh publication in 1632 become "This match with other like, my Gracious Lord," which is more readable to contemporary eyes but changes the underlying sense of what the line means (noting in the endnotes that Q1 itself is a reprint, Q0 only surviving as a few odd pages).  A modern editor has to somehow rationalise these differences and then make these value judgements a thousand times across the whole play.

But as the book demonstrates, as facsimiles of particular editions become much more widely accessible through digitisation, with online databases set up collecting such vagaries as contemporaneous margin notes, editors are no longer just at the mercy of the surviving printing of a play.  There's a much wider context of materials across the theatre and publishing industry of the time which can illuminate how inconsistencies within the text could be as a result of a barely legible original manuscript being worked from because we have the publications and the handwritten papers upon which they were based.  Editing a play may be guesswork, but the process is more educated than its ever been.

All of which leaves me in the condition of looking at an edition of any play with Shakespeare's name on it and thinking "well, yes, possibly".  My assumption is most schools work from a standard edition and certainly when I was at school we were given copies of the Arden 2 to work from.  But I also owned the Penguin editions of both, little appreciating that the texts in each were either subtly or significantly different.  How do university students writing about the plays from a critical perspective navigate this, especially a play like Hamlet and its three versions.  Do they find themselves having to constantly compare and contrast a given characters motives across all three?

But the fact of me asking those questions is the point and why the book succeeds in its aims, to demonstrate that textual studies is much more than whatever end point an editor proposes their new edition to be.  There's no doubt that this will be of use to students who're interested in delving deeper into the texts they're studying but there's enough here to be of interest to a wider audience so I'd certainly recommend you put in a reservation or request at your library to get your eyes on a copy, assuming Arden don't release it in a cheaper paperback format somewhere along the line.  This is important work, at least in the sphere of literature and deserves the widest audience possible.

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies edited by Lukas Erne is published by Bloomsbury. £117.00 hardback. ISBN: 9781350080645. Review copy supplied.

Inside the world’s first 3D printed house. Linking to this mainly for the images and shape which resemble something from Tatooine which look cool but would only be possible to live in by someone who doesn't own or read too many books, films or want to personalise any element of the structure. There aren't any corners. There's more here about the construction of the building and how the walls can be light, rigid and insulated.
‘Rocky Horror’ played to an empty theater for 54 weeks. Now, audiences return to Portland’s longest-running movie. A projectionist, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, visited the location every week and screened the film so as not to destroy the record, a level of commitment I haven't seen since the Small Cinema in Liverpool screened Groundhog Day non-stop for twenty-four hours.
Filming underway of RSC The Winter’s Tale for BBC debut. Short report from the Stratford-Upon-Avon Herald on filming of the postponed production which sounds like it's now being shot in theatre, albeit in a more intimate atmosphere, for broadcast on BBC Four around Shakespeare's birthday.  Kemi-Bo Jacobs from Doctor Who's Hide plays Hermione.
BBC iPlayer has uploaded a collection of Adam Curtis films almost everything he's produced for broadcast on the BBC since 1992 including the short films he created for the various Wipe series.  Every Day is Like Sunday, his documentary about press baron Cecil King is still available elsewhere on the website, along with all the other odds and sods he curated for his blogIt Felt Like A Kiss, the art piece he did in collaboration with Punchdrunk is there too.  The Wikipedia has a filmography should you want to binge it all in chronological order.
But why on earth is an elephant VETOED?  Detective work from @DoctorSimeon on Twitter explaining how a particularly surreal piece of set design from Doctor Who's Dalek Invasion of Earth exists.  Mother of God.
A Report from the After Times. Laurie Penny has moved to Melbourne to be with her partner and after being released from quarantine walked out into a land in which COVID-19 is all but extinct and found herself overwhelmed.  This is my fear. It's over a year since I even set foot in the city centre and at the moment, even ten minutes away by bus, it feels like a dangerous country with a no-visit warning. What will it be like to walk down Bold Street as I used to? Will I be ok when I return to Forbidden Planet or FACT?  When will I feel that it's OK?
Turner's Modern World, an essay by writer and publisher Jenny Uglow looks at the intersection between the painter's work and his interest in science and how the former was influenced by the latter in both subliminal and obvious ways, clouds in skies resembling Faraday's work on magnetism using iron filings, that sort of thing.  The exhibition has now been extended until 12 September at Tate Britain, which already has a mini-museum within a museum dedicated to his work.
Watergate was a 1994 prestige BBC series about the break-in and fall out and the TV Cream Creamguide highlights that it's having it first ever repeat on BBC Four next Wednesday 14th. Here is the programme page which will hopefully flourish with content after the broadcast. Or at least a nice picture. Incidentally, the research archive for the series is available for consultation at the University of London archive. In person.
How New Voting Procedures Created a BAFTAs Diversity Surge in One Year. After the embarassment of all-white shortlists in 2020, the Baftas took a good long look at themselves and implemented numerous changes in order to increase diversity across the board. One of these included "providing every member with a list of films — a mix from across the board — that they had to watch in order to take part in the first round of voting. And these could all be seen on BAFTA View, its new online screening platform." Such things have been compulsory in the likes of the Booker prize and Cannes and you would think it wouldn't have needed for it to be the case that voting members at the Baftas would have needed to have seen examples of the work created by their industry, but there we go.

The Unity Theatre Liverpool has announced its 2021 programme and as well as offering limited in venue seating they're also streaming their programme online on a pay as much as you can basis.  Full programme here.  

Everybody Still Needs a Place to Think.

 TV  The BBC's new annual plan has been released an oh boy do it make some reading for those of us who enjoy the kind of low stakes, lower overhead documentaries about niche subjects BBC Four produces.  Their approach to documentary is to shift towards the more expensive landmark type series like Civilisations, which presumably cover more of the four quadrants are easier to sell in the US.  The upshot of that is BBC Four is going to properly shift to become the "arts and archive" channel originally proposed in 2011 (which I got really excited about here) but became forgotten in the meantime.  To quote the report:

This approach will necessitate a shift away from commissioning a high volume of lower cost programmes on BBC Four, which are less effective at reaching audiences on the channel and on iPlayer. Instead, BBC Four will become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive. It will also remain the home for performance, such as the BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician. It will continue to showcase arts and music acquisitions and maintain its unique role in partnering with arts institutions (e.g. The Lyric Theatre, Belfast; Opera North; The National Theatre Scotland and The Royal Shakespeare Company ). The proposed changes to BBC Four will build on the channel’s current archive content offer which already comprises 76% of BBC Four’s broadcast hours and 69% of the channel’s broadcast viewing hours.

These are fine words, but there has to be some follow through.  Throwing around lines like "distinctive content from across the BBC's archive" would hopefully include material like the Face to Face interview with Simone Signoret from 1960 and indeed anything made in the previous century that isn't a music programme or sitcom.  

Honestly, I'm mostly fine about all of this.  The BBC's budget has been slashed and it has to justify commissions on the basis of audiences.  If not enough people want to watch an hour long documentary about the gut especially when BBC Radio Four had already covered the same subject four an hour and a quarter without pictures, you can't really argue against that.

Similarly, there's been a *lot* of content duplication in documentaries, much walking and talking across the same ancient monuments by different academics across the years saying roughly the same thing.  If a topic is already adequately covered by an old episode of Chronicle, what's the point in going again if nothing new has been uncovered?

So Britain's Lost Masterpieces doesn't seem long for this world because people prefer Fake or Fortune or something and it doesn't look like we'll get the much needed three part history of black hair presented by Emma Dabiri.  But if the result is a tarted up BBC Two which actually feels like it has a creative direction again and a repeat of Churchill's people, well, fair enough.

That's not just amazng ...

 

Audio That is indeed, FANTASTIC! We live in strange times, but none stranger (ish) than the fact there now exists in the world a Big Finish audio adventure featuring the one living actor who at no point, in any way shape or form, seemed like he would ever play the Doctor again. Having wondered why in the meantime, I've just noticed this 2018 interview which said that his relationship had broken down with Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson during the first recording block but he kept to his word that he agreed not to effect the show's reputation and indeed praised RTD in subsequent interviews. 

It also didn't show in his performance, which was impeccable throughout, just as it is in these few snippets which highlight what are sure to be the more manic elements of the recordings. When previous Doctors have returned for the audios, there has always been the brief moment before pressing play on a trailer or full adventure when you wonder if they'll sound "right" or "like themselves", if they'll be able to pick up where they left off and by golly he does.  This is thrilling stuff, helped immeasurably by the visuals and the return of that Deviant Strain font, typos and all.  It’s Saturday night tea time in 2005 all over again!  Sixteen years.

When will these be set?  Rose was famously written (the episode not the person) in such a way as to suggest that he'd only recently regenerated, but this has since been retconned at Big Finish and Davies himself in The Day of the Doctor novelisation to indicate that he did indeed travel for a bit before turning up at the Powell Estate but literally tried to avoid looking at himself because of all the children he thought he'd killed when destroying Gallifrey (having forgotten he did nothing of the sort).  But The Beast of Bablyon suggests he also had whole adventures during the dematerialisation moment at the end of Rose, so it's 50/50.
‘Promising Young Woman’ skips UK theatrical release to debut on Sky Cinema in April. A small but significant update to my post about where all of this year's Oscar nominations are available to watch. Other than The Man Who Sold His Skin in the International film category, Promising Young Woman was the only feature film not to have a UK release date confirmed.  Now it does. But instead of the theatrical release by all accounts it richly deserves, Universal and Focus Features have decided to simply bung it out on NowTV which during the past few months has become the clearing house for what would have been 2020's mid-range release slate (see also The Glorias, Palm Springs and Antebellum).

The Bosch Project is a selection of ultra high definition images of Hieronymus's paintings that offer the ability to zoom in close enough to see brush stokes and individual cracks in the paintwork.  Bosch's scenes often include minute background elements which would be difficult to see with the naked eye even if you're standing right in front of the actual painting.  It's the work of Rob Erdmann of the Rijksmuseum and he's also given a similar treatment to Rembrandt's Night Watch.

Doctor Who's limited edition boxsets are finally being reissued in a more standard amaray packaging starting with seasons 12 and 19, which will be great news for fans who missed out on the original releases and find themselves unable to justify spending some of the outrageously high prices on eBay (this £1200 is an outlier but not uncommon).  Judging by the artwork, these will include a booklet, although the press release indicates this is a basic 12-page affair with disc breakdowns and "selected artwork".

Black Widow is not dead.

Film At this point I remain convinced that in the post credit sequence of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanov is going to wake up at the bottom of the cliff on Vormir wondering how the fuck she's going to get home. I don't see how any other conclusion to that film could be anything other than a downer, especially if its a hit and they're turning it into a trilogy. 

Fortunately for those of us still under the dark shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and sheltering at home, Disney have announced that it'll be getting a Mulan-style day and date release in July 2021 on Disney+ so that those of us who don't want to return to cinemas (assuming they're open!) can enjoy whilst sat in our own lumpy chair. 

I've long been an advocate of day and date releases, giving us audience members the choice of watching films without having to hike out to a drafty auditorium and deal with people who're treating that space as their lounge. Paying £10 to listen to someone masticate through a box of popcorn before walking just before the credits role is not fun. 

As the pandemic recedes, presumably studios will return to the theatrical model but perhaps with a slightly more relaxed attitude to how it effects the bottom line to release things for home simultaneously. Cinema chains too, who've traditionally owned release windows and such, will be in a slightly weaker position now that they know that to an extent, the studios don't need them as much. 

Back in 2016, Sean "Napster" Parker was pitching "The Screening Room", a DRM heaving special streaming box so consumers could watch films day and date for $50 a pop with revenues flowing back to cinemas, which many of us rolled our eyes at because we already had a pretty decent streaming box already.  Seems like the pandemic has forced studios to realise the same thing.

Immediately, as with Mulan, critics and fans were moaning about Disney+ charging extra for Black Widow as though its some great scheme to steal money out from under people.  I saw one goober indicate that he wouldn't be paying "because it's just a prequel and she's dead already anyway". 

But Disney isn't a charity. They're well within their rights to charge extra for Black Widow and not just throw it up on Disney+ as part of the subscription especially in territories were the cinemas, which would have been its traditional home, are closed.  Including advertising, Disney have sunk at least $300m into this thing and a cut of the subscriptions won't be enough to cover that.

Without the pandemic it would have been in cinemas a year ago and we'd all have it on shiny-disc. They waited a year in the hopes of protecting it as a theatrical experience but that hasn't worked out so they doing the next best thing and charging cinema rates.

Of course, the fairer option would be the Wonder Woman 1984 route of making it available on all the pay-per-stream services outside the Disney+ cordon and give subscribers a discount, but again they don't need to.  The MCU is a big enough brand that people will most certainly come.

Not to mention the old lobster pricing rule. Around a decade ago there was a glut of lobster available to restaurants and very cheap prices. But they kept the prices the same as they were when there was a smaller overhead in order to protect their status as a luxury item. 

I can understand why studios spending hundreds of millions of pounds on films don't want them to become essentially valueless and part of a content farm, as so much of the new material on Netflix has become, mostly uploaded without much hype unless there's some awards potential.

Just to add that I know they are putting some things like Nomadland on the service, but such things have a limited box office spotential by comparison and aren't four quadrant releases and are perfect drivers for the Star section of the service.  Although that is admittedly one film I would have gone to the cinema for.
Ipswich, we have a problem: Space Cadets, the reality show that never left the ground. This wasn't something I watched much at the time. After the seminal 2004 season of Big Brother, I'd given up on reality television, having decided I'd seen the apogee of the form with John Tickle attempting to hack the system from the inside. Plus the premise seemed unintentionally cruel, trying to convince gullible people that they'd gone into space. This Guardian piece shows that even the presenter, Johnny Vaughn had misgivings and actually managed to water down some of the things the producers wanted to do, and made sure the contestants received some compensation for their humiliation.
Talking Stock: Hi-de-Hi’s Opening Titles features some typically specific and totally fascinating research from John Hoare which makes an excellent central point about the gatekeeping of historical footage by some news organisations. Pathe have been quite liberal about uploading their old newsreels online (especially on their YouTube channel), whereas Reuters still consider them to be of commercial use and so haven't been quite as rigorous (although they too have recently made more footage available through the Pathe channel). Incidentally, yes, I'm trying another blog post format, only using the big titles when it's for a much longer piece.

All of the Oscar Nominees in 2021 and where to watch them.

Film  The clue is in the title.  Unlike most years, when the films nominated for Oscars aren't available in the UK for some months afterwards, thanks to the slow apocalypse only Promising Young Woman doesn't yet have a UK release date and the vast majority of everything else is already on the main streaming platforms or will be by the end of April.  So I thought you might like a guide to what's available where.  Anything with an (*) is a short film.


Amazon Prime

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

One Night in Miami

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Sound of Metal (12th April 2021)

Time


Apple+

Greyhound

Wolfwalkers


Disney+

Burrow *

Mulan

Nomadland (30th April 2021)

The One and Only Ivan

Onward

Soul


iPlayer

The Mole Agent


Netflix

Da 5 Bloods

Crip Camp

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Hillbilly Elegy

If Anything Happens I Love You *

The Life Ahead

Love and Monsters (14th April 2021)

A Love Song for Latasha *

Mank

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The Midnight Sky

My Octopus Teacher 

News of the World

Over the Moon

Pieces of a Woman

The Present *

The White Tiger


NowTV

Emma

Promising Young Woman (16th April 2021)

The United States vs Billie Holiday


YouTube

A Concerto Is a Conversation *

Feeling Through *

Collette *


Vimeo Free

Do Not Split *


Rent or Buy Only

Better Days

Judas and the Black Messiah

Pinocchio

Tenet

Minari


Vimeo Rental

The Letter Room *

Yes-People *


Curzon Home Cinema

Quo Vadis, Aida?


Cinema

Another Round (25th June 2021)

The Father (11th June 2021)


Not Currently Available

Genius Loci *

Hunger Ward *

Opera *

The Man Who Sold His Skin

Two Distant Strangers *

White Eye *

Five Things I Liked About The Wandavision finale.

 TV  It's been a while since I've been this excited about seeing an episode of television, but after eight simple weeks of build up, with so many question to be answered about the show, you bet I was sat in front of my television at 8am this morning waiting for the Disney+ upload.  Any-hoo I have some thoughts, so let's fulfil the promise of the title of this blog post.  Spoilers, obviously.

(1)  No Huge Cameo

After weeks of speculation based on some veiled comments in publicity videos, neither Doctor Strange, Mr Fantastic or Magneto wandered in at the last moment to distract us from the big emotional arc of the show.  The appearance of Luke Skywalker at the close of business in The Mandalorian had already been baked into the storyline, whereas a surprise cameo in Wandavision, an even bigger boss than Agatha, perhaps Hayward being revealed to Mephisto in disguise, was not on the agenda here.  He was just some human tool.  Instead, quite rightly, the climax focused on the characters who we'd become attached to over the previous eight episodes, that it truly was Agatha All Along.  

(2)  The Triumph of Intellect and Romance Over Brute Force And Cynicism

Although both Wanda and Vision enjoyed the MCU trope of fighting a mirror enemy who shares their powers, lots of flying in the sky and throwing magic or lasers at one another they both ultimately won their respective competitions by outthinking their opponents, Wanda using the same technique Agatha employed initially to kerb her powers and Vision and White Vision having a meeting of minds which resulted in the latter rekindling his memories of being the former B-4.  The source for the title for this paragraph in case you're wondering.

(3)  Symmetry 

I've already seen criticism which suggests that the show simply becomes another action action fighty fighty thing from its humbler origins, especially from those who liked the earlier funny ones.  But the show actually has a very symmetrical structure, the opening episode filmed completely on a sound stage in front of a studio audience in academy ratio, the finale with all of the tools of big budget filmmaking in a scope setting, a production decision which itself comments on the development of the television as a whole.  

(4)  Evan Peters

Absolutely amazing.  After weeks and weeks of speculation in YouTube videos, on social media, on here, it's revealed the production team have just been fucking with us and that Evan Peters isn't playing the alt.Quicksilver from the FoX-Men but just some random bozo with a euphemistic surname who like everyone else in town has had his identity replaced.  As I've said previously, the MCU is going to want to do its own spin on mutants as and when and acknowledging the existence of the cast from the other franchise would simply draw away from an endeavour which will already be a source of comparisons.  Can you imagine the actor who's going to play Wolverine next?  Damn.

(5)  Consequences

The show acknowledges that although Wanda has somewhat come to terms with the tragedies in her own life and become stronger because of it, she herself has brought pain to others.  Even though Wanda is clearly the protagonist of his series, unlike most of the MCU's heroes, she now finds herself in the ambiguous place of having destroyed even more lives, albeit psychologically.  So although she's allowed to walk away at the end much as she did after Lagos, it's more because she's too powerful to contain at this point having absorbed Agatha's gifts too.  Much like the rest of the MCU  actions have consequences and there are no reset buttons or easy outs.  

I've found a use for motion flow on modern televisions.

TV There's nothing much to this post except to note that a whole new level of verisimilitude can be gained when rewatching the earlier audience-based episodes of Wandavision by ignoring Tom Cruise's advice (and mine usually) and turning on the Motion Flow or Smoothing feature on your modern television and letting it interpolate extra frames making it look like the video tape such shows would originally have been recorded on. Oh and turn down sharpness to zero if you can for added smudginess.

This does of course fall apart when the outside world intrudes and the episodes cross cut between the two formats, not to mention that with so many shows from those earlier periods being remastered for HD anyway due to the way they were shot, your mileage on this may differ anyway.  Perhaps if the show ever reaches a physical format, Disney might make it available on limited edition VHS, with the widescreen scenes panned and scanned or open matt for old times sake.

We Need To Talk About Wanda Maximoff. Spoilers.

Film Sort of. Maybe? The reveal at the end of this week's Wandavision was trending on the Twitter within a few hours and there are already hundreds of blog posts and Youtube videos on the topic. But, goddamit I haven't been this excited since the last big thing which happened in a vertical multimedia conglomerate franchise and sometimes you just have to get your ideas on monitor (no not that one) even if they're tired and unoriginal. You will not see anything interesting here. This might as well be a large space created by some line space html or whatever bloated mess this new editing system on Blogger uses to create gaps in text.  

Spoilers.  Obviously.

As you might expect its about that appearance of Evan Peters as Pietro.  Some of the more mainstream areas of the media are already suggesting that we're seeing the first appearance of the X-Men in the MCU with the implication that they're sticking with the same casting as the Fox films after all and blah blah blah even though it's been pretty well established that when and if the X-Men turn up in the MCU they'll be recast and presumably recharacterised to more tonally fit what that actually means.  Because why would you not?  Why should Kevin Feige and pals be stuck with whoever Matthew Vaughn or Bryan Singer have chosen?

Here's my theory.  Thanks to Disney gobbling up Fox, Disney+ now carries a whole bunch of MARVEL films not set in the MCU including both Fantastic Four and X-Men.  Click on the MARVEL logo and there they are now listed as "Marvel Legacy Movies".  Some casuals might not necessarily know that there's much of a difference between the franchises, but there they are, they exist and in their own way part of MARVEL cinematic history, for better or worse along with whatever Sony and New Line Cinema (now owned by Warners) have made (not to mention the various TV shows).

They could just leave that content out there but again, when the MCU does produce their own version they have to be special in their own way.  One of the problems with both Sony and Fox's approach is in their persistence to recast and reboot, there's been diminishing returns.  In a better structured version of that the X-Men franchise, Days of Future Past would have been the final word, but instead we were given two lesser sequels which couldn't measure up to that masterpiece (especially in its extended form) which only went on to do more damage to the integrity of the franchise.

Instead, with what we've heard about in relation to Spider-Man: Something Something Home and the next Doctor Strange film's title I think Phase Four across media is going to be about establishing these other franchises as part of a multiverse, of making them "count" and Peter Maximoff from the X-Men universe is only going to be the first of numerous cameos and visits to these other worlds which means, much as is the case in the Whoniverse, everything happened.  All of it.  Every adaptation of a MARVEL property from Japanese Spider-Man to The Incredible Hulk.

Yes, yes, Into The Spider-Verse is a great movie and so was the comic it was based on which did pretty much the same thing as I'm proposing and I'm aware of the "why bother?" attitude.  But the philosophy of the MCU is that everything is connected and this whole business feels in keeping with that.  On a business level it's a win-win.  However much Peter is developed in Wandavision, it's a way of pushing viewers towards films they might not previously have thought about catching up on (although I assume the crossover audience between these different franchises has to be pretty big).

Unless all of this is wishful thinking and Aaron Taylor-Johnson hasn't replaced Evan Peters by the end of the next episode, a mistake having been corrected.  Or he simply gets popped away again for being anomalous.  But it doesn't feel like you'd cast Evan Peters and he would agree to do the role if there wasn't some other great narrative afoot.  The pace and presentation of the reveal doesn't stack up.  When a comic book ends with a page size reverse shot of its hero entirely surprised by someone standing on their doorstep, that someone is always of substantive import, not often ignored or side-lined in the following issue.

Something which is also probably irrelevant but I can't stop thinking about is how similarly structured Wandavision and the latterday X-verse films are.  Just as WandaVision's sitcom diegesis is seemingly skipping through the decades from day to day, the X-verse film starting with First Class are each set in a different decade even though its characters barely age.  Despite having been born in the 1950s, Peter Maximoff looks much the same as he does in Days of Future Past as Dark Phoenix, set about twenty years later.  It's handwaved off as something to do with the mutant gene but what if it was as a result of the hex energy seeping into the other reality?

All of which is the paraphernalia of gossamer thin fan theorism but the central point to all of this is that for those of us wondering how the MCU was going to work post Endgame, we can see that we're heading into a series of stories potentially just as ambitious as the first three phases if not more so.  At a certain point this evening, I was so hyped up about this, I began to consider if it might include other Disney properties, if the Doctor Strange film will feature appearances from the Star Wars or live action fairy tale franchises, Stephen doing battle with a Mandalorian or Maleficent.  God, I love this stuff.  More please.

[Updated after episode six]   Gah, now I don't know.  Maybe?  Between Tom Holland saying that neither Toby Maguire or Andrew Garfield are in Spider-Man 3 and the suggestion that Evan Peters is playing a zombie version of the MCU character so his whole casting might actually nothing more than a reference to recasting in sitcoms I'm starting to doubt the whole premise of this blogpost.  

So either something completely wacky is going to happen in the next couple of episodes, or we're heading for something akin to Russell T Davies's time on Doctor Who when we'd all be thinking of some incredibly intricate and complex reason for a thing and it actually turns out to be much, much simpler.

Nevertheless, this doesn't discount the idea that Steve Strange won't turn up at the end of episode eight and on seeing Even Peters and knowing that he's from another reality (with the added bonus of Bandersnatch Cummerbund saying words like "mutant" and "X-Men") realising that something has gone terribly wrong with the multiverse leading into the next Doctor Strange film.

Just an added thought.  The final moments of the introductory film of each MARVEL phases has presented the greater theme of the rest of the phase: Iron Man closed with the start to the formation of the Avengers.  The multiple suits at the close of Iron Man 3 prefigured Ultron's army.  Captain America: Civil War ended with Steve's phone shaped olive branch and they only defeated Thanos when they worked together.

[Updated after the finale]  Huh, huh, huh, huh, she said boner.

Lockdown Links #8



I’ll Tell You a Story…
"Today, we’re going to answer a huge burning question about The Young Ones. No, nothing to do with flash frames, or hidden fifth housemates. This is the really important stuff. Exactly what is the farty neighbour watching on her television in “Cash”, just before she switches over to Andy De La Tour doing a public information film?"

Fatherland: Limited Edition Blu-ray - Notes on an Essay:
From Frank Collins: "Due for release by Indicator on 19 April 2021, this limited edition Blu-Ray of Ken Loach's Fatherland(1986) features my new essay on the film in the booklet that accompanies the first pressing."

Billie Piper: ‘I know about dysfunctional relationships – what it costs to be a woman’:

"After 25 years in the limelight, the actor says she is finally finding her voice as an actor, writer and now director. Does life imitate art?"

Magary: I tested the dumbest PPE of all time - the Rich Guy COVID Helmet:
"The Microclimate Air is the pandemic accessory you do not need."

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7: Aaron Sorkin samples the menu:
"DB here: Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Aaron Sorkin has carved out a unique position in contemporary Hollywood. If we want to understand craft practice from the position of media poetics—that is, the principles governing form, style, and theme in particular historical circumstances—we can usefully look at him as a powerful example."

What Parler Saw During the Attack on the Capitol:
"As supporters of President Donald Trump took part in a violent riot at the Capitol, users of the social media service Parler posted videos of themselves and others joining the fray. ProPublica reviewed thousands of videos uploaded publicly to the service that were archived by a programmer before Parler was taken offline by its web host. Below is a collection of more than 500 videos that ProPublica determined were taken during the events of Jan. 6 and were relevant and newsworthy. Taken together, they provide one of the most comprehensive records of a dark event in American history through the eyes of those who took part."

Non-geographic postcodes:
"Note that a number of non-geographic postcode sectors are also contained within geographic postcode areas."

San Antonio 10-year-old cashes in on GameStop stocks he was gifted 2 years ago:
"When Jaydyn Carr unwrapped his GameStop shares his mom gifted him for Kwanzaa two years ago, neither mother nor son expected he'd eventually be in the middle of a stock surge."

Lessons from A Pandemic Anniversary:
"It's not just what we know, but how we know it."

Dungeons & Dragons Has an Antisemitism Problem:
"The roleplaying game is one of my favorite things in the world, which makes it all the more disappointing to find coded antisemitic themes throughout."

Joe Biden times a hundred.

 Politics  You may have noticed that despite everything which is happening in the world and my clumsy references to it, one name hasn't appeared.  It still won't.  I banned myself from using it and most often used various euphemisms in its place.  The only occasions when it's crept through have been in link posts as part of pull quotes, this book review, quoting one of the Doctor's lines in this Who review and this post a week out from the inauguration in 2017 about what I thought his presidency would look like through the medium of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi.  I wasn't wrong about him, or that Vanessa Carlton looks like mid-70s Sarah Jane Smith in the promo for the Counting Crows version.

But it's a new, dawn, it's a new day and as John Legend sang at the Inauguration Concert last night, I'm feeling good and I have absolutely no problem talking about the new president Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden. Joe Biden.  

Joe's first inclusion on this blog was back in 2008 as part of a link post where I actually wrote the pull test myself (the thought!) and how I couldn't remember his name during a pub quiz.  I have absolutely no memory of that night or who I might have attended a pub quiz with.  Unless it was some Twitter related event.  Huh.  Then his name wasn't mentioned until last August when Taylor endorsed him.  Finally I used his surname a lot in the title to this post when he was declared winner and again pretty much predicted everything which has happened in the past three months including the Twitter ban (although that came sooner than I expected), not that I wasn't saying anything that cleverer people than me hadn't already.

None of which is to say that I'll be talking about US politics a whole lot more than I have, but it will be liberating to have the option when I want to, especially around Christmas time.  Not to mention that because the Annoying Orange made flesh no longer consumes the oxygen of the Western world, more focus will inevitably fall on our own idiocy infestation in the UK and how their mismanagement means the number of COVID deaths in this country will be one quarter the US total by this time next week despite us having one fifth of the population and a much tinier, more controllable island.  Not that I'll be talking about that much either.  There's another name I haven't said on here since 2012.

What keeps you watching Doctor Who?

TV At the turn of the year a friend online asked me this question and bless them I replied with three paragraphs worth. Unfortunately it wasn't an easy answer. Revolution of the Daleks was not good. Apart from the tired main story, however fabulous it was to see Captain Jack back in vision, his participation was not integral and so ultimately wasted. Here's what I wrote:
"Jodie's incredible when she's allowed to be but she's being under-utilised and in general I don't know what Chris Chibnall is trying to do with it in a way which wasn't the case with previous showrunners. I haven't rewatched an episode since The Woman Who Fell To Earth and one of the reasons I stopped writing reviews was because there's barely anything to say about it. It feels like a mid-table football team keeping afloat while remembering the glory days.

"I don't watch Doctor Who all the time in the way that I perhaps used to. I'll return to things when they're rereleased and I'm still a completist in that way but its the major franchises, MARVEL, Star Wars and Star Trek which make me excited in a way that the RTD era and early Moffat eras used to. There's no comparison in dramatic terms between last night's Who and the Agents of SHIELD which turned up on Disney+ yesterday, and that was a timeloop bottle episode.

"But thankfully even if TV Who feels like its motion going, its part of an echo system of content which includes the novels, comics, BDs and especially Big Finish which is doing some incredibly exciting stuff lately now that they have all the toys. Time Lord Victorious has been a triumph. If anything keeps me as a fan, the special thing, it's that and being part of a sort of community that shares a very particular and peculiar frame of reference."
All of which ignores my excitement at the Doctor's new secret origin and the storytelling potential that brings across the franchise, on and off television.  She now has her own era similar to Star Wars' The High Republic or Star Trek's Enterprise, a whole set of adventures set before the time we already know.  What keeps you watching Doctor Who?  How could I not?

Keep Your Distance.

Life The BBC has a short piece about the police issuing fines because of lockdown breaches in the Tower Hamlets area. They're shown approaching and fining a group of four men using gym equipment in a park in Poplars, breaching the rules (more than one person, also there are signs forbidding the use of the climbing frames and whatnot. "We ain't doin' nothin' wrong" one of them plaintively says as he's handed a £100 fine.  I have no problem with any of this, this I have no problem with. 

Except, I live next to a park and it isn't safe more me to go walking there. One of the assumption that the virus can't be transmitted outside, and although the potential is greatly reduced, it's not impossible especially if you're engaging in activity which involves heavy breathing, like running.  The narrow pathway around a large section of the park is usually full of joggers, few of whom are social distancing, none of whom are wearing masks.  On occasion, people even stop to have a chat making the situation more precarious.

But such activity is if not mandated, encouraged.  I don't understand why enforcement is being carried out in some scenarios and not others, why four blokes in a park wrongly using gym equipment is policed, but groups of people jogging together on narrow pathways, inches away from each other and impossible to avoid if you're just out for a walk is given a pass.  But the lack of masks is the worstRunner's World recommends it and 78-year-old Joe Biden is fine with it.  If you're in a place were social distancing is knowingly impossible, why risk it?

The upshot is I've given up my daily walks for now.  Pretty much anywhere I've tried strolling with intent, especially around the park, I end up dodging into the road to distance from people and with my heightened anxiety the process becomes far too stressful to be of much use not to mention dangerous.  On occasion, I've had to stand facing a tree, bush or wall with my hood up to let a person by, like a hedgehog curling up to avoid danger if only to reassure myself.  Perhaps all of this is just paranoia, but a risk still feels like a risk however risky that potential risk might be.

Arden Shakespeare Third Series Complete Works.

Books
The publication of this complete works ends Arden's decades long process of editing the third series of Shakespeare's plays, begun in the 1980s with the first play, Henry V, printed in 1995.  Although there was a similar volume in the meantime which included material from the second series, this is the first to collect the Third's more eclectic approach to presentation in a single volume.  Arden's had four different publishers or imprints since work began.  Work on the fourth series began in 2015, the results of which won't be released for some time yet.

This complete works follows roughly the same structure as the individual volumes.  There's an introduction offering a general overview of the production of the plays which includes a short biography of the writer, the works in performance and print and their legacy.  The language is slightly less academic than usual, perhaps because there's an expectation that a wider audience might purchase a complete works for the shelf and the paperback in particular is a very reasonably priced option in comparison to some.

After the poems, the plays are then presented in alphabetical order from (ironically) All's Well That Ends Well through to The Winter's Tale, unlike the Oxford Complete Works presents them in date order or the RSC edition which mostly follows the First Folio.  The Oxford just has one version of Hamlet and two Lears, but the Arden does the opposite, having previously offered Q1 & F in one volume with Q2 in the other.  It also includes Double Falsehood which even the most recent edition of the Oxford forsakes in favour of a page explaining the existence of Cardenio.

These are the plays as they were originally published, pruned of their footnotes but retaining the editorial presentation choices.  Sir Thomas More has additional labels noting which hands in the original manuscript held at the British Library wrote each section with different fonts utilised if this occurs in the middle of a speech.  The Lear uses san-serif Fs and Qs to denote which passages are singularly present in each version of the play. 

Each play is heralded by a single page introduction, essentially an abstract of whatever the original editor thought was important in the individual publications.  A bibliography at the back of the book lists hundreds of books and websites covering all aspects of Shakespeare scholarship, a whole degree course across six pages.  This is followed by an index of sonnet first lines, the first lines of the songs across the plays and finally a glossary, which means I finally have an explanation for what a "fardal" is.

Despite already owning the majority of the Arden Thirds thanks to review copies and my own wages, this is still an invaluable possession.  Alphabetising the plays makes them much easier to cross reference between texts and the various introductions are a swift reminder of what to look for when encountering the plays, finding a decent middle ground, both scholarly and accessible.  So congratulation to Arden for reaching this milestone and I can't wait to see what the fourth series has to offer.  Arden of Faversham perhaps?

Arden Shakespeare Third Series Complete Works. Edited by Ann Thompson, David Scott Kastan, H. R. Woudhuysen & Richard Proudfoot is published by Bloomsbury. 2020. ISBN: 9781474296366. Review copy supplied.

Babylon 5 Looks Like a Big Pile of Shit.

 

TV Just before Christmas, between lockdowns, I was lucky enough to visit a charity shop or two including the Barnardos on Smithdown Road. Imagine my amazement on finding, all alone on the shelf, the complete Babylon 5 DVD boxed set for just £25. Knowing full well that a new lockdown was imminent, I decided that this was to be my new bingeing project, at least a few months worth. I duly bought and almost broke my back carrying it home, this heavy beast with the equivalent of seven seasons of television inside.

Then, between Christmas and New Year I began watching it. The pilot episode is notoriously patchy, as so often pilot episodes are, although I've been a fan of Tamlyn Tomita, who plays deputy command on the station, since The Joy Luck Club which she made the same year. But there was enough for me, despite her recasting, to want to settle in and see the rest of the series, for which I've always had fond memories since its original Channel 4 broadcast.

Then during episode one, I began to see a problem I'd already had wind of but wasn't quite prepared for - how ugly it actually looks. Like much mid-90s TV, Babylon 5 was originally broadcast in the 4:3 aspect ratio, but like FRIENDS and other WB shows at the time, had its live action sequences shot on film in 16:9 in an attempt to keep them future proof, which definitely worked on FRIENDS, whose HD transfers are gorgeous.

Sadly, to save money, the CGI sequence were created in 4:3 which was fine at the time since the TV audience wouldn't know different, but ran counter to the point of shooting the rest of it on the assumption that future generation might want to have a more cinematic experience. When it came time to release the series on DVD, the studio was keen to release it in widescreen but oh god, the CGI, the CGI.

As this old Engadget post explains, the decision was made to remaster the 16:9 footage and then to zoom and crop the CGI sequences to fit the frame even during live action sequences. Which means whenever there's any CGI on screen, the image noticeably loses what already weak definition it has and the composition becomes distractingly cramped.

The effect is to pull the viewer out of the story every time a computer generated shot occurs, either in the space sequences which are often rendered incoherent or the live action scenes when on occasion there'll be a cut to some mad close-up in the middle of a sequence breaking up the rhythm of the piece. Even worse are the moment when there's a crossfade from a CGI sequence to a fully live action and the latter remains zoomed in.

On a couple of episodes, the CGI sequences haven't even been cropped. They've simply been stretched to fill the 16:9 space even in those transitions making the whole thing almost unwatchable. Quite why they didn't bother on those occasions isn't clear, although its true that they tend to be episodes which less CGI than others so they could simply have decided to use their meagre budget elsewhere.

This decade old page takes a much more detailed look at just how awful these transfers look also pointing out how a decent upscaling result could have been achieved and also that the NTSC and PAL (Region One and Region Two) transfers also differ in numerous subtle ways in terms of framing. The author becomes increasingly both cross and resigned to the horrors across the length of the article.

The upshot of all this is I'm finding it incredibly difficult to watch Babylon 5 in this form.  The first season is reputationally a bit of a slog, but there's plenty in there to enjoy but every time there's a CGI shot I'm pulled out of the story.  Plus the colour timing is incredibly drab even though my TV is collaborated to make Technicolor pop.  

As the Engadget article explains, there are craftspeople willing and able to set about creating commercial HD masters of the series, and that there might even be excellent 4:3 transfers which could be spruced up for release ala Star Trek.  There are some "remastered" SD versions doing the rounds on streaming services, which do look better but apparently have new problems like missing scenes.

It's incredibly frustrating to think that the WB is willing to spaff millions towards a mediocre director to create a bloated version of a superhero film failure in order to placate a group of 4Chan refugees, but can't find the resources to create dynamite restorations of one of the seminal science fiction shows of the 90s.  Doctor Who fans have been incredibly lucky.

Now I'm left wondering if I can carry on watching Babylon 5 in this compromised form.  Perhaps in the past when watching films in the correct aspect ratio was a dream and I frankly didn't even know what the term meant I would have been more forgiving and wouldn't have noticed.  But it's difficult to forget all of that when you've become habitually laser focused on such things.

Perhaps I'll just watch FRIENDS again.

All The Time Lord Victorious Stories And Where To Buy Them.



TV The Time Lord Victorious multi-platform Doctor Who adventure seems incredibly intimidating with its many releases. The notion is that it can either all be consumed or rather like Glastonbury you can pick and choose what you're interested in. But we're Doctor Who fans so we want to do it all and in the correct order.

The commercial website for the show has a timeline but as the TARDIS Datacore entry indicates it doesn't include all of the stories and even used in conjunction with the release schedule requires a bit of leg work in order to work out how to access everything. So I thought I'd do the leg work for you.  Let me know if anything is missing.


THE FRACTURED UNIVERSE

The Last Message (Video Trailer)
See above.

The Last Message (short story)
Accompanies Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious #1 available here.

Daleks! (Animated Series)
Released on YouTube. Here are the links.
01: The Archive of Islos
02: The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy
03: Planet of the Mechanoids
04: The Deadly Ally
05: Day of Reckoning

The Restoration Empire (short story)
In these three issues of Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.

Defender of the Daleks (Comic)
Published by Titan Comics. There are links on their website offering options to buy physical copies.
Issue One
Issue Two
Or you can buy the whole lot as a digital graphic novel for Kindle or Comixology.

Master Thief/Lesser Evils (Audio)
A download from Big Finish.

Echoes of Extinction (Eighth Doctor) (Audio)
A download from Big Finish or Vinyl at Asda depending on the pandemic. Watch this page for details.

Can I Help You? (short story)
On the Brian The Ood t-shirt here. You can read the text here.

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

The Enemy of my Enemy (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

The Waters of Mars (TV)
It's on the BBC iPlayer. If you want to buy a physical copy, it's available on BD as part of the Road To The Dark Times sampler which also includes Planet of the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, The Deadly Assassin, State of Decay, The Curse of Fenric and The Runaway Bride all of which reference of feature species from The Dark Times (they're all on Britbox too). Also on The Complete Specials boxset.

What the TARDIS thought of ‘Time Lord Victorious’ (Short Story)
You can read this here.



THE DARK TIMES

The Dawn of the Kotturuh (Short Story)
On the official commercial website here. Password is "darktimes".

River Song's Guide To The Dark Times (Book)
It's in the Doctor Who Official Annual 2021.

Monstrous Beauty (Comic)
Published in Doctor Who Magazine across three issues. Issues 556 and 558 are both still available from Panini, 557 is at Forbidden Planet:
Doctor Who Magazine 556
Doctor Who Magazine 557
Doctor Who Magazine 558
Pocketmags has digital editions:
Doctor Who Magazine 556
Doctor Who Magazine 557
Doctor Who Magazine 558

The Knight, The Fool and the Dead (Book)
Amazon link.

All Flesh is Grass (Book, Chapters One to Three)
Amazon link.

The Minds of Magnox (Audio)
Amazon link.

Tales of the Dark Times (Comic Creator)
Doctor Who Comic Creator is an art app on the Apple and Amazon app stores and Google Play. Once downloaded the Time Lord Victorious pack is available as an in-app download for £2.99.

Mission to the Known (Short Story)
Accompanies Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious #1 available here. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.

All Flesh is Grass (Book, Chapter Four until end)
Amazon link.

Mutually Assured Destruction (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

Exit Strategy (Short Story)
Accompanies Doctor Who Figurine Collection Time Lord Victorious #2 available here. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.



THE VICTORIOUS DAYS

The Hollow Planet (Game)
This Escape Hunt Print and Play game can be bought from this link. The tie-in website is free to visit here.

Genetics of the Daleks (Audio)
A CD and download from Big Finish.

A Dalek Awakens (Escape Room)
Tickets can be booked here.

The Edge of Time (VR Game)
Purchase options here.

Time Fracture (Immersive Experience)
Opens in Spring 2021. Details here.

UNIT Field Logs
YouTube links:
14681 UNIT Field Log
14682 UNIT Field Log
14683 UNIT Field Log
14684 UNIT Field Log

Canaries (Book)
Read it here and as part of the Wintertime Paradox anthology.

Echoes of Extinction (Tenth Doctor) (Audio)
A download from Big Finish or Vinyl at Asda depending on the pandemic. Watch this page for details.

Secrets of Time Lord Victorious (Short Story)
Available as part of the Doctor Who commercial site's newsletter which doesn't appear to have an online version. The TARDIS Datacore has a synopsis.

Lockdown Links #7



No mask, no shop - UK supermarkets insist on face coverings:
"Tesco, Asda and Waitrose will not let shoppers into their stores if they are not wearing a face covering, the British supermarket groups said on Tuesday, joining rivals Sainsbury’s and Morrisons which made the policy change a day earlier."

Public Radio Stations Rebuke 'N.Y. Times' Over Actions In Correcting 'Caliphate':
"An influential group of more than 20 public radio stations in major cities across the country are condemning the actions of The New York Times and its star host of the hit podcast The Daily, Michael Barbaro, in addressing the collapse of the newspaper's award-winning audio series, Caliphate."

Seven shows for lockdown 2021 that you probably haven't watched yet:
"Check out these top TV shows to try."

D.C.’s Vaccine Jackpots Are Getting Out of Control:
"Pharmacies have quietly been offering leftover COVID-19 shots to random people in the store. You can guess where this goes."

“This is a Nightmare:” Big Bang Comics’ John Hendrick on European Comics Retail, Post-Brexit:
"You may have heard of this whole Brexit thing. The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union has been an eternal process, lasting since the beginning of time and causing an unbelievable amount of stress and debate over that span of time."

Rebekah: the techno DJ fighting sexual abuse in dance music:
"As #MeToo stories start to emerge in the dance scene, UK star Rebekah tells her own as she presses for industry change with her #ForTheMusic campaign."

The art and craft of screen graphics – interview with Daniel Højlund:
"Continuing the ongoing series of interviews on fantasy user interfaces, it’s my pleasure to welcome Daniel Højlund. In this interview he talks about the evolution of motion design in the last ten years, his work process, the balance between ideas and tools, and the pace of working on big sci-fi film productions. In between and around, Daniel dives deeper into his work on “American Assassin”, “The Martian”, “Blade Runner:2049” and the recently released “Pacific Rim: Uprising”."

Writing Godzilla:
"Godzilla was written in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s favourite screenwriting ground. The first draft was started in late October 1996, and was completed in December the 19th of the same year."

Doctor Who The TV Movie Target Paperback:
[From Gary Russell on Twitter: "Look at this glorious cover by Anthony Dry. Beautiful, utterly beautiful. And yes, the text has been *slightly* updated from the original with a couple of moments I was asked to take out in 1996 now put back in, some better geography and a few errors corrected. V proud of this."]

Amazon Unveils A Synopsis For The Lord Of The Rings Series:
"Having spent boatloads of money to secure the rights to, and produce a series based on JRR Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings, Amazon has been at work on the show in New Zealand. And the first official synopsis for the series is online."

Complete Index of Every Film Reviewed in the Theatrical Release Section of Empire Magazine.

Film This is a massive and potentially useless project. At the back end of last year I managed to finally collect a complete run of Empire Magazine. For decades its been the touchstone of my film enthusiasm, along with various websites and Sight and Sound with its focus on the independent and arthouse sectors. Like most magazines, its quality has ebbed and flowed depending on the editor, some with a clearer interest in Hollywood over the whole of cinema (Terri White's current stewardship has been seminal in its inclusiveness), but I've always tried to watch everything receiving three stars and above in the theatrical review section and rarely feel as though they've been misguided.

When the lockdown hit, I took out subscriptions to just three magazines. Doctor Who's parish circular, Sight and Sound and Empire and of the three that was the only one for which I didn't have access to the complete archive. So after saving some pennys here and there, I set about listing was missing and making the relevant orders. In the late 90s, I managed to buy about five years worth of Empires at a car book sale for about a fiver which meant that I wasn't down by that many issues but some of the earlist numbers are not cheap. Nevertheless, I now have the whole of Empire Magazine (ish, see below) sitting underneath the table I'm writing this on, plus a few other places because god knows there's a lot of them.

Then I had an idea that I'd catch up on all of the films they've ever reviewed in the theatrical release section. That necessitated creating a database containing such a list and that kept me busy in odd moments throughout the back end of last year finishing on Christmas Eve. How many could there be? Up to the end of 2020, nine thousand four hundred and sixty four (9464). Which, even taking into account everything which is either not available, wildly expensive due to having had their DVD deleted ten years ago and anything which I've seen and don't wish to see again, that's impossible. Plus, barring reissue, it ignores everything released before the middle of 1989. So I'm going back to the old method of watching anything which looks interesting ...

Which then left me this database and what to do with it and so inevitably I'm posting it on this blog in case its of use to future researchers who want to see the reviews in context rather than just on the Empire website and need a roadmap on where to look. In some cases, what's online comes from a later DVD or BD review, especially films which have been reappraised. But the majority are just as they originally apppeared. Of course the really stupid thing for me to do would be to have linked everything in this list to the relevant reviews, but honestly I have better things to do. Or at least I keep telling myself that. Since the Empire Magazine website itself doesn't have a search function, I've created a dedicated Google should you want to look for anything.

Some caveats. This is a very long list, typed very quickly (so no page numbers or star ratings). Let me know if there's anything outrageous through the usual channels. It's also incomplete. There are two issues missing which I know for a fact I've owned at some point but have re-ordered and so I'll add them in when possible. The years refer to the dates on the magazines so issues released in December of a year which have a January date on them with be labeled with the following year. Also remember, this won't be everything theatrically released in the UK each month, just what Empire deemed necessary for them to review (which explains some glaring omissions).


All Flesh Is Grass (Time Lord Victorious).

Books
Wham bamm, thank you Una McCormack. After the barnstorming final moments of the previous novel, Una picks up the momentum straight away with these three Doctors, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth in a stand off, their ships and incongruous armies ready to blast each other out of the sky. It's Daleks vs vampires with the fate of a genocidal race at the centre.  The future of the universe is in their hands (again), we're reminded more than ever that something has broken within the Tenth Doctor and it's going to take two of his earlier selves to knock some sense into him.

Multi-Doctor stories are always about the differences and Una carefully delineates their perspectives between the still optimistic Eighth Doctor, Ninth nursing his survivor guilt and Tenth believing himself powerful enough to have the power of mortality in his hands. The cover art tells you everything you need to know about him, wearing that itchy Gallifreyan head gear and robes as though he's  become the symbol of some manifest destiny. When Tenth described himself as Time Lord Victorious in The Waters of Mars, this was the fearful character that we assumed he would become. When he tells Wilf later about it all going wrong, he could just as easily be referring to this.

The author captures Eighth perfectly, especially his passive aggressive sarcasm and although Tenth remains the focus, he's given plenty of action as the consequences of his own alliance with the Daleks becomes all too real. Castellan knows what readers who haven't heard the Big Finish audios think since they're all tied together pretty tightly and the book only gives the briefest explanation for how they ended up working together or how he and Brian the Ood assasin know each other. But that's the point of these cross platform franchise promotion. To draw the consumer into enjoying as much of it as possible.

But honestly its just a pleasure to have the Eighth Doctor in novelistic prose again outside of the many short stories which have appeared since The Gallifrey Chronicles. Until recently he's been thought of a classic Doctor but since Time of the Doctor, he's become a kind of bridging incarnation between the two, although Big Finish have brought those barriers down considerably anyway with the Tenth Doctor turning up all over the shop thanks David Tennant keeping himself busy between series of Staged. Hey Big Finish, Michael Sheen is right there.

The book even manages to provide a more nuanced explanation for how the Doctor doesn't remember meeting his other selves between adventures but often refers back to them. They both remember and don't. The memories of these meetings return when they're in each other's company but submerge at other times. My guess is that it also has to be matching incarnations. Ninth still believes Gallifrey was destroyed because he wasn't a part of The Day of the Doctor and that adventure is still in this Tenth's future.

Placement: Well, yes indeed. Firstly, I'd thought I'd missed something at the start of the Mutually Assured Destruction  audio and yes, it turns out All Flesh Is Grass bridges the gap between that and The Enemy of My Enemy, so I'll have to shufty them around. But despite the theme music on the audios, this Eighth Doctor feels earlier that the Time War version. At one point he references not popping back to visit Romana and K9 on Gallifrey often enough which doesn't seem consistent with his Time War inclination. So I'm moving the whole lot to the start of the Time War era for now. But honestly it might as well be just before Shada.