Not Christmas Links #27

‘Cancelled’ Artists - What Next?
"How does the market treat works by artists with histories of abuse?"

"The Swedish actor best known for his collaborations with Lars von Trier – as well as Marvel movies, Pirates of the Caribbean and Mamma Mia! – answers your questions about Lars von Trier, porn and pickled herrings."

"Harrison Ford, Sean Connery and Steven Spielberg's 1989 adventure has such a curious ending."

"The "first steps" of a £70m scheme to bring a "sleeping giant of a building back to life" as one of the UK's biggest film and TV complexes have been laid out by Liverpool City Council."

Not Christmas Links #26

The 2021 holiday movie guide: 100+ new films to get you in the spirit:
"Every year, more outlets offer holiday movies (and by that I mean overwhelmingly Christmas movies, but occasionally not). And the places that offer them seem to offer more. It has become a kudzu situation. How are we getting VH1 holiday movies now? How did Food Network get involved?"

"It's six months since the final Debenhams stores shut their doors for the last time, leaving many high streets with large, empty units."

"My new Facebook account had the most generic interests possible, and still it brought me to a place no one should ever have to go." [via]

"Last week ViacomCBS surprised the world by announcing they had bought back the international rights for Star Trek: Discovery from Netflix, with the launch of season four outside North America moved to Paramount+ internationally in early 2022. But today they announced they are moving that release date up to this Friday."

"I didn’t want Caroline Nokes to be alone in calling out something I knew hadn't only happened to her."

Not Christmas Links #25

BBC Three’s return to TV screens confirmed with new Terms of Trade agreed with Pact:
"The new broadcast channel will launch in early February 2022 and will be available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat."

"Cinema Treasures is your guide to over 56,000 movie theaters from around the world. more."

"Squeaky clean, uncool and old before her years, the US singer blazed a trail for young women creating their own material. Having dealt with stalkers, addiction and illness, she’s back."

"Walk into any decent bookshop today in search of Shakespeare’s plays and you’re sure to find at least one. And even if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the bookshelves, there is always the internet, where a great variety of different complete works and editions are also available – almost all of them free of charge."

Not Christmas Links #24

The Abominable Snowmen to be Animated:
"The BBC has announced that an animated version of the 1967 (Doctor Who) story The Abominable Snowmen will be released next year."

"With rumors circulating that Jodie Whittaker may depart the lead role at the end of her third season, it seems right to reflect upon her time in the TARDIS."

"The famous diarist’s dedicated building, left to his Cambridge alma mater, could not be altered. So architect Níall McLaughlin created a magical solution."

"Richard Latto, BBC reporter, rummages through the archives of one of the most successful Saturday night shows of all time and speaks to its producer and co-creator."

"On Wednesday, a Twitter user trolled Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in a way that may not have been immediately clear to all observers."

Not Christmas Links #23

Toby Hadoke's Time Travels: Far Too Much Information (Bonus Minisode) - Class of ‘63:
"To celebrate a year of podcasting Toby Hadoke's Time Travels - not to mention 58 years of Doctor Who - here is one of the best bits of the Patreon exclusive podcast (Far) Too Much Information. This minisode is a re-recording - with loads of updates including new clips and interviews - of Toby's quest to find out everything about the Coal Hill Kids (the schoolchildren extras in the first episode), first released as part of the An Unearthly Child deep dive in (Far) Too Much Information."

"She secretly wrote the first of her time-travelling novels while her husband slept. Now she’s published the ninth in the smash hit series. She talks explosive sex scenes – and where George RR Martin went wrong."

"From a huge array of brand new shows and specials, to festive editions of your favourites, there is something for everyone on the BBC this Christmas."

"Doctor Who fan Adam wants a den where he can celebrate his favourite TV show and pursue his passion for drama. His den story takes him on an incredible voyage of discovery that includes a surprise chat with someone very special."

"A SIX-FOOT tall cyber-dragon is looking for a new home, after the Doctor Who superfan who created it said he hopes it can go somewhere where it can be appreciated by more people."

Not Christmas Links #22

Kunsthaus Zurich: Looted art claims pose questions for Swiss museum:
"When Switzerland's largest art museum, the Kunsthaus in Zurich, last month opened the golden doors of a vast new extension designed by star architect David Chipperfield, it declared it was the most important home of French and impressionist paintings outside Paris."

"Whether you’re a student or work from home or an office, Chrome has some great extensions that help with organization, productivity, learning, and entertainment. You’ve probably discovered quite a few of these handy extensions and plugins on your computer. So, how can you get these extensions on your Android device as well? Is it even possible?"

"Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish built a cult following with their DIY Channel 4 show – but the pressure got to them. They reminisce over Britpop, getting cancelled and patching up their friendship."

"Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever officially began its production hiatus for the remainder of 2021 today as it allows star Letitia Wright additional time to recuperate from an on-set injury earlier this year."

"From its surprising price tag and oddball features to whispers of its role in a Dallas conspiracy, the Kennedy “death car” remains a public fascination."

Village of the Angels.

TV  There's a genre of Doctor Who story which can best be described as "It's all gone fucking mental!" (best said in your strongest Torchwood accent) in which the rules of characterisation, narrative and structure become irrelevant.  True to form, Who ran headlong into this in only its third story with The Edge of Destruction and there were other examples as the classic series went on, The Mind Robber or whatever the sodding hell is going on in episodes five to eight of The Trial of a Time Lord.  But it really found form in the spin-off media, especially in the Wilderness Years when writers wanting to stretch themselves or the franchise would present their story in the style of a history text book, the biography of a journalist or it turned out all the regular actors were actually playing giant insect aliens.

Every now and then the revival has a go and not for the first time the Chibnall era runs headlong into the surrealist thickets just to see if it can make it out the other side.  Sadly, with Once, Upon Time, it found itself trapped, its jumper caught on the thorns, unable to stand up because its feet are wrapped around about a hundred vines (I speak from experience).  There was a decent idea in there but as is often the case with this writer, his attention was so distracted by all of the expositional stuff he wanted to include that it just felt like having established a beginning and ending he wasn't quite sure how to execute the middle.  So we had some pretty good bits of character work that he couldn't seem to fit elsewhere thrown together with the framing device of the Doctor floating around against a green screen talking to herself.

Village of the Angels reversed the polarity of that neutron flow (hah!) with an a thunderous episode filled with eyewatering images, solid old-school characterisation, edge of the seat scares and one hell of a cliffhanger.  If Flux is anything, it's the Torchwood's Children of Earth of this era, the astonishingly good rejoinder to a previous middling couple of years.  As I've said about the rest of this series, almost everything which was wrong with Jodie's first couple of season has been fixed, from a Doctor with agency and a need, to Yaz remembers she was once a police officer to a rich cast of supporting characters and a propulsive storytelling that's willing to take a few risks (even if last week that led to Alejandro Jodorowsky having a cheese dream after nodding off in front of DW Griffith's Intolerance).

The extent to whether in this episode it's as a result of Maxine Alderton or Chibbers we may never know, although you might suspect that anything in the village is hers and everything else is his.  Although with his name in front of hers in the credits, perhaps his was more than a light polish.  My guess is this was the only "guest" script nearing completion for the version of this series envisioned pre-COVID or even as a hold over from last year with the various Flux elements incorporated and Claire brought forward to appear in the opening and later instalments for extra continuity.  Either way, when RTD is working on his next full series, he'd be silly not to engage the talents of Alderton in some capacity.

So The Division isn't some black ops operation working with the Time Lord's CIA as implied last season, but a intergalactic organisation along the lines of the Shadow Proclamation but with a much greater reach and the Doctor worked for them in some time before her increasingly shakily described first incarnation.  Perhaps due to the Flux, she's being recalled, her new Weeping Angels form merely a type of stasis so they can transport her to who knows were.  Whatever any of that means, it's a stonking cliffhanger which can't be resolved as easily as some with her friends trapped in another time period and as the trailer for next week's episode indicates for quite a while.

It's nearly a decade since the Weeping Angels had an episode title to themselves and all of the mythology established back then is utilised although its notable that it expects its audience to remember Amy's trauma in The Time of Angels and the result of her and Rory being zapped backward in The Angels Take Manhattan.  With every episode available on the iPlayer seemingly in-perpetuity, there's assumption the audience will already know this stuff.  That's some swagger.  But, look, new stuff.  The Doctor being able to communicate with an angel trapped within the mind of a human, have an actual conversation with them and without immediate loss of life.  Give me a few months and I might have an answer as to how this ties in with the final episode of Class.

Leaving aside the continuing ludicrousness of the TARDIS team not taking it in turns to blink (a flaw pointed out by Steven Moffat himself in one of the episode commentaries), the notion of these creatures moving even in the darkness created by an eye movement is extremely troubling, especially when its deployed on someone who isn't aware of their power and doesn't know what to expect.  Director Jamie Magnus Stone (bit of normative determination in the hiring there) wrings everything he can out of the darkness, making the most of the potential lighting possibilities of digital shooting by upping the blacks within the tunnels and around the village so that the angels are shrouded in complete darkness until they're not.

There was some chatter at the start of the season that in a casting reveal to end them all, Annabel Scholey's Claire would turn out to be Jodie's replacement such was the confidence of her performance and likeability within her opening few scenes.  Once again we're presented with a character who we'd be comfortable spending a whole spin-off series with, a 2020s woman trapped in the 60s a time of huge cultural change perhaps investigating scientific mysteries sometimes caused by aliens aided by Kevin McNally's aging scientist scarred by war.  She's cheeky, clever but also compassionate and I hope she makes it out of this alive enough to appear in several dozen boxsets for Big Finish.

If last week's episode suggested we'd reached the upper limits of John Bishop's acting parameters, he was on much firmer ground here, Dan swapping barbs with Yaz as she continued her WWTDD journey, even snapping at him when she'd heard quite enough of his expositing.  Judging by the bits of interviews and set reports in the parish circular and elsewhere, it sounds as though Dan's not going to be appearing further than the Flux, either because he makes the kinds of sacrifices the Doctor's mates often do these days or he decides he'd rather return to his Liverpool home, or at least the plot of land where it used to be.

But it's the images which we'll be taking away with us.  The Virgin New Adventures were supposed to offer stories, "Too Broad and Deep for the Small Screen" which was probably true in the early 90s.  Now we have the Doctor negotiating for her memories on a pebbled jetty of the mind, her companions standing on the edge of a village floating in the cosmos and pensioners turning into stone then dust at the hands of living statues.  There's a version of this which could have been shot using 80s or even 70s production techniques but there's clearly an attempt here to produce something which would work on Disney+ and even if the process shots containing Azure's head didn't quite come off (late additions?), we're Doctor Who fans.  We have our megabyte-sized suspension of disbelief implanted at birth.

The only side characters tonight were the end credits shattering star-crossed lovers, with Thaddea Graham’s Bel (a descendant of the inventor of the telephone) (sorry) adding to the list of strong, adventurous women in this series in what amounted to a Short Trip, pitching up on a planet, sniffing out a fraud and saving at least single life.  At one point I wondered if it's Bel who'll be revealed to be the next Doctor, but as far as we know RTD has had nothing to do with this era and it seems more likely he'd want to work from a clean plate (not to mention Jodie's said she doesn't know who her successor is going to be).  Plus it would be a disservice to suggest the Doctor is the only person in the universe capable of this kind of deductive reasoning and extreme bravery when we know that's not true.

Next week looks just as exciting with the return of Kate Stewart in her first television appearance in six years.  Big Finish'll be having a sale on UNIT stories next week then.  Has UNIT been resurrected?  Will Osgood be back too?  How is she talking to the Grand Serpent and what's the TARDIS doing there?  Freelancers are already turning out whole articles for websites on this subject as we speak but only those with access to preview streamers will know the answers before next week.  In the meantime, let's all bask once again the special glow which comes a better than half decent episode being broadcast, hoping against hope that when Lizo tweets the viewing figures in the morning a few people watched it during broadcast as nature intended.

Not Christmas Links #21

Harry Potter 20th anniversary: The UK film locations:
"It's 20 years since the boy wizard Harry Potter hit the big screen."

"Ahead of his epic series Get Back, the director reveals the secrets of 60 hours of intimate, unseen footage of the Fab Four – and why it turns everything we know about their final days upside down."

"Twenty years after the "Smashed" episode, we look back at the cultural legacy Buffy and Spike's unbelievable night together."

"I will now livetweet the Bib - just kidding ... 81 hours and 7 minutes left to go ... Abimalech is watching Isaac bang his wife who he said was his sister. This book is nasty."

"Take your cup home, then hand it back in at any participating Starbucks café."