"Today was about as much fun as a sandpaper dildo."

Film I'll let this Twitter thread tell the story:



How disappointing.  Not as disappointing as it must have been for the lady audience member carrying a large box of popcorn and a bottle of apple Tango who muttered as we were leaving, "I booked a day off for this".

There's a strange emptiness which comes from being excited to do a thing, planning your day around it and then the thing not happening. 

I came home and watched the British psychothriller The Ones Below, which is fine even if the ending needed someone with a keen eye to point out that the surprising twist really isn't and edit accordingly.

It's not Picturehouse at FACT's fault and they're now struggling with a screen down and having to reschedule all kinds of screenings in order to acomodate the Deadpool 2 crowd:


Lots of people will be entering the cinema today who may not know about the fault expecting to see one of these films.  Hopefully they'll be understanding and treat the staff well.

Some things to think about.

Life With the prospect of May disappearing without posting anything here, I decided that it was time for me to post something here. Find below a weekend update.

Item! Last Monday was my monthly visit to London, my third to the National Gallery and I've almost completed the Sainsbury Wing, or at least been to all the rooms in the Sainsbury Wing even if the rehang of the paintings renders the whole idea of being a completist meaningless. One major discovery. After many years not at all being that impressed with Titian, after having stood nose to canvas with his work I now absolutely understand why he's considered a genius. Smartly, the NG hangs his paintings largely chronological order so even across the ten or so works on display the visitor is able to see how innovative he was and how in his long life in the 1500s, he somehow managed to encompass techniques used in the Victorian era and the following century but four hundred years earlier. His Portrait of a Young Man, taking into account the fashions, could easily have emerged in the 1880s. An Allegory of Prudence is a solid piece of surrealism. The Death of Actaeon has a landscape which wouldn't look out of place in a Constable sketch.  The Virgin suckling the Infant Christ glances towards Turner and the Impressionists in that the form only really makes sense the farthest away someone is standing.

Item!  After a couple of years eating my London dinners at Pizza Express, I've migrated to Leon, a fast food chain which only really has outlets in the capital apart from a couple in Manchester.  As Grace Dent noted yesterday in her Guardian column, "Yes, they look atrocious. Yes, they are wonderful."  Most of the menu consists of boxes which include a pile of thinly cut cabbage, some brown rice and then a thing, like Mediterranean meatballs or Thai Chicken Curry.  The result is gorgeous and even with my current mouth (see below), full of flavour.  Plus there's an outlet in Euston Station which saves me having to walk around looking for somewhere to eat on my London days.  I can have a more productive walk then have something before I get the train home.

Item!  This is my last London visit for a couple of months.  The £17 single tickets haven't appeared on The Train Line for June and July but with Lime Street Station closing through both of those months, it's probably for the best.  I'll just book for three weeks in August instead if they're available.  I've thought about walking the route of the boat race along the Thames - the only problem is deciding which side of the river to choose.  Any suggestions?

Item!  A health update.  My anxiety disorder continues.  After visiting the GP the other week, we agreed to up my dose of sertraline to a hundred mg, and at the moment I'm upramping at 75mg.  Already I'm feeling the effects.  I'm actually writing this for a start, although I know there'll be a point when my artificial pleasantness will become monotonous.  Meanwhile, we think I've somehow developed oral thrush which necessitates putting a sweet tasting substance which looks like wallpaper paste on my tongue after every meal.  Essentially my tongue isn't tasting food properly if at all, or just some morsels more than others.  Oh and I have an bladder disorder necessitating another daily pill for a month and trying to train myself not to feel like I want to go all the time through "holding on" for want of a better description, try to slowly reduce the number of visits to the WC.  The GP gave me an eight page document about what to do about this.  One in six people suffer from it.  Eyeroll.

Item!  Work necessitating waiting until yesterday evening to watch the Royal Wedding.  My reaction was much as you'd expect.  For all my suspicion of monotheistic religion, the address by Bishop Curry of the US Episcopal Church was a remarkable piece of oratory both for its incongruity within that setting, mentioning subjects and quoting from figures that you might not expect.  This was a celebration of what Meghan Markle is adding to the Royal family, its history and future.  As I've said before, that's why I love the Royals - Cromwell accepted - they've been one of the few constants in British life and a way of tracking the history of not just them but ourselves.  The BBC's coverage was ok, although I miss some of the poetry of recent years with, surprisingly, Richard Bacon, the only voice to really capture the moment with a sense of gravitas as he reflect on the reaction in Meghan's home town.  This guy.  Crikey.

Item!  Finally, after thought about setting up a Patreon but realising that power comes with responsibility, I decided to put together this Amazon wishlist filled with TARGET novelisations which I'm now collecting with a view to reading my way through the lot in order (to give me something to blog about obviously).  If you're kind enough to buy me one, I'll be happy to write a blog post on a subject of your choosing (if that's any kind of inducement!).  Take care.

"I like to remember things like that."

Film Gen of Deek has a really good interview with Thanos/Cable/Dubya/Goonies actor Josh Brolin. It covers failure and how to fight to stay grounded when your life is a wonderland. He's immensely self aware:
"Going back to that beginner's mind again, if there’s more people when you leave your hotel sitting there wanting your autograph, it’s really good to me to know that there are fans out there for sure, and then there are people out there who make money off autographs. I like to remember things like that. That they may not care about you or your performance, they care about how much money they can get for your signature. That’s always a nice reality check."
Brolin is the perfect example of a journeyman character actor who suddenly finds himself in two of the biggest films of the Summer back to back.

Here's why you should buy the 3D version of Infinity War even if you don't like 3D.



Film Find above the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War but showing the comparison between the regular and IMAX presentations. Turns out, A:IW was shot entirely in digital IMAX so the film I saw yesterday was cropped across the top and bottom, which will account for why, just sometimes, the shots were incredibly busy.

IMAX's YouTube channel has a dozen or so videos celebrating the fact and you might also notice that it's not the first to include IMAX scenes. Most of the recent installments have mixed the two aspect ratios so that IMAX visitors have a slightly more epic experience.

What's less known is that those IMAX versions are available for the home on the 3D releases.  Although the standard 2D releases have the regular versions with cropping were necessary, the 3D disc always contains the IMAX version with the shifting between regular and IMAX shots.  Doctor Strange has about three different ratios.

The list seems to be:

Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: Civil War
Doctor Strange
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Thor: Ragnarok
Black Panther

Of course, you do need to have a 3D blu-ray player and 3D television to see any of this and they're both being phased out.  But you don't have to watch it in 3D.  On my television at least you can turn off the 3D and watch the film without and although you obviously don't get the scale, you can at least see all of the available visual information.

My guess is the 3D release of A:IW will also contain the IMAX version with the full image - unless they decide that's also going to be the 2D version as well if you want to see the whole film, that's the version you're going to have to purchase.

We Need To Talk About Thanos.



Film It's been a while since the last "We Need To Talk About [insert MARVEL related character who has nothing to do with the Lynne Ramsey film] but with the MCU equivalent of The Three Doctors having had the biggest opening weekend of all time and actually visited a cinema myself to see the thing and had some thoughts, here we are: some commentary on Avengers: Infinity War to add to the digital fatberg already clogging up the atlantic's transcommunication cable.

None of the following is original.  But after knocking out that bland review of a Ken Burns documentary yesterday, I'm in the mood to write again which hasn't been the case for the past few weeks.  A whole visit to London and other business have passed and all I've really wanted to do was double bill some films and catch up on a mountain of television.  But if nothing else, the first half of the MCU's two part series finale has made me want to sit in front of a keyboard, so thanks Kevin Feige et al.

The following will of course include many spoilers, so do not under any circumstances read any further if you haven't seen the film - which is essentially unreviewable so this isn't going to be that.  I've already tried watching a couple of the kinds of YouTube reviewers who utilise their dvd collection as the backdrop pointlessly offering a spoiler-free review as though their core audience isn't going to be going to see the film anyway.  Just warn up front then say what you like.  It's OK.

(1)  The film is unreviewable

Reviews of the film for general audiences have been amazingly bobbins in places.  I'm not going to single out any in particular, you've seen them, but the gist is that A:IW doesn't work as a stand alone film because none of the main characters are properly introduced and nothing is explained which means that the emotional beats have no resonance and there aren't any stakes.  Oh and that's half a story which makes it insubstantial.

Let's all say this in unison (!).  It's an installment in probably the biggest film franchise of all time, in which anyone going to the cinema to see it will have enjoyed its antecedents a couple if not a dozen times.  Seeing A:IW as your first MARVEL film is like sitting down for the finale of a television season and hoping that everything which has happened that season will be explained to you.  If this kind of film isn't your sort of thing, this isn't going to change your mind.  It's not supposed to.

It's refreshing to have a film like this which doesn't pander.  Pandering is why we've had to watch Batman's parents killed or the destruction of Krypton over and over again.  If you can't appreciate that the film is ignoring character exposition on purpose rather than through omission, I don't know what you're expecting.  But I also honestly don't understand why someone couldn't enjoy this on some level, unless they're determined not to even before they enter the cinema.

(2)  Structure

The big question beforehand was how the Russo brothers would be able to balance the various elements, all of those characters and contain them within this running time.  Captain America: Civil War demonstrated their nimbleness in achieving that balance whilst simultaneously delivering something which is a valid finale to Cap's trilogy and sewing up some hanging questions from the Iron Man series so I wasn't that concerned.  But how would they achieve the balance between the mix of tones?

The clever solution is to make Thanos an antagonistic protagonist.  Without the necessary close reading (remind me with the blu-ray is released) my guess is that all of the key turning points in the story happen at various stages in Thanos's quest, probably in finding each of the different stones and that in those terms, since Thanos achieves his goal, the film's plot technically resolves itself.  Half the population of the universe disappears, a notion he views as heroic, and he's able to retire just as he wished having made some necessary sacrifices.

The mix of tones works surprisingly well.  I saw one review which suggested that some of heroes act "out of character" because they've been brought in from the work of other creatives but I didn't detect that at all.  James Gunn is particularly listed as an executive producer and apparently he did write all of the Guardian's dialogue.  Due to the familial connection this does function as part of the wider Guardians story more than any of the other characters.

But my understanding is all of the other key creatives were consulted too, probably because they'd have to deal with the fallout in their own films.  The Wakanda scenes are very much within Ryan Cooglar's vision and however much of a downer the climax of Ragnarok is now, this Thor has his DNA in Taika Waititi's effort rather than anything which happened in the earlier films.  The rest of the heroes have already had multiple creatives but the Russos still acknowledge their debt to how Joss Whedon conceived some of the characters, especially Banner.

(3)  Unfortunate Events

Due to his non-appearance in the publicity my assumption was that Hawkeye would buy it in the opening scene.  Little did I expect they'd actually murder one of the franchise's most popular assets despite it being the classic move when you want to show how high the stakes are.  That said, god bless Hiddleston for showing up for all of the publicity as though Loki was going to have a major role in the film rather than a cameo.

My feelings about Gamora are a bit more complex.  Despite the blood splatter, like everyone who's dusted at the climax, I don't believe she'll stay dead.  Damseling and fridging her as a way of utilising some of Quill's toxic masculinity to kibosh the otherwise excellent plan to beat Thanos feels discordant within everything else the franchise has been doing over the years.  Such things have mostly been avoided.  If it happens here, it has to be for a reason.

Plus I can't imagine what Guardians 3 looks like without her - again it isn't typical for anything that happens in an Avengers film, like killing a major character, to have much of an effect on one of the satellite trilogies.  She will be resurrected.  Either because Quill steals the Gauntlet for himself or because reality and time become much more fluid in the sequel.  Like The Key To Time, the Infinity Gauntlet isn't just going to sit on Thanos's mantlepiece.

(4)  Effects on the wider MCU

Although some other franchises have demonstrated that global events would not necessarily have the consequences you might expect within a shared universe (Torchwood's Miracle Day) (eyeroll.gif) it's inconceivable, unless they whole thing is erased from history in the sequel, to envisage half the population of the Earth disappearing not to be reflected in the various other corners of the 'verse in some way, albeit through wry asides.

Agents of SHIELD has already said that they will be referencing Infinity War, but their time travel storyline was no doubt conceived to explain why they wouldn't be involved in the events of the film up front even if the film franchise itself doesn't seem to care either way.  E4's broadcasts are a bit behind but given that the Earth is supposed to be a rocky husk in the future anyway, it'll be interesting to see how the tv show itself manages to justify The Avengers not being involved in that.

The film doesn't turn events global until the end. Before then, barring the skirming in New York, most of the key action happens off world or behind the cloaking device in Wakanda.  The Defenders, Runaways, Cloak and Dagger, Inhumans et al wouldn't necessarily even be aware of the war being fought.  They do now and you can bet that even though I know the film/TV divide makes it impossible, I wish they'd have cameos in the sequel.

(5)  What's going to be in the sequel then?

Hawkeye, Antman and the Wasp and Captain Marvel for starters.  They were all either seen on set (both films were shot together) or mentioned as having been there and it'll be important to have some flesh blood in the sequel.  All of the original core Avengers survive at the close of business: Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Cap and Black Widow.  They're getting the band back together, oh yes.

A percentage of the film no doubt be about the consequences of this, the MCU's contribution to the "rapture" genre.  Despite having the time stone, the characters aren't wiped from chronological existence.  Everyone remembers who they were and that loss.  Perhaps we'll see Tony turn up at Aunt May's door to commiserate.  There will be tears.

What's the goal?  To retrieve the Infinity Glove so they can put right what once went wrong.  In other words, it'll be the inverse of this film with Thanos properly as the antagonist again defending his achievement.  But I'm hoping for something weirder involving multiple realities, featuring cameos that look forward to whatever new characters the MCU's considering.

BUT this would also be an excellent, if unlikely, opportunity to merge the MCU and the X-verse in a similar way to how the recent Secret Wars absorbed the the Ultimates universe into 616.  Who wouldn't want the post-credits sequence to be Deadpool being chased into the Avengers campus by Wolverine or some such.  You have to imagine Jackman would return for that.

April Showers.

About New month, new blog bar. It's ...

Aunt May

The Vietnam War.



TV Despite having joined the human race a year or two before the end of the US involvement in the war in Vietnam, my knowledge of the period and of the conflict has inevitably been through pop culture, music, film and television.  The first time I probably heard some of the key strategic locations was through the authentically non-PC Robin Williams improv that made it into Good Morning Vietnam or more significantly its soundtrack album which I listened to enough that I can still quote my way through the snatches of routines running between Martha and the Vandellas and The Searchers (which is certainly the first time I heard the "slut" word but that's by the by).  Along with the titles you might expect, it's an entirely one-sided, Westernised "education", of madness piled upon madness, of tens of thousands dying to promote ideologies and defend geography.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War doesn't disprove that point but seeks to make it in a much more even handed way, including voices "from the ground up" of witnesses to the conflict from all side, from veterans not just of the US army but the Viet Cong and the North and South Vietnamese forces.  Civilians are here too, from the streets of Hanoi and Saigon, the families of those in combat and anti-war protesters in the US.  Oh and the politicians: as Burns says gleefully in the making of documentary included on the dvd, "We have tapes!" with both Presidents Johnson and Nixon represented by phone calls and infamously by meetings in the Oval Office.  Although there have been criticisms from those more knowledgeable than me that some voices are muted or ignored, others over amplified, this certainly feels like the richest televisual exploration of the war we've seen so far.

Crucially what many of us might assume to be the start of the war, when US troops first set foot on Vietnamese soil doesn't happen until a few hours in.  The series begins methodically with the initial occupation of the country by the French and how their colonial stifling of the country's natural development (even during and after the occupation of their country by the Nazis) led to emergence of the people who would eventually cause the splitting of the country in two and the conquest for re-unification.  From there, the series follows a hard chronological pathway, pausing now and then to magnify the key moments in the conflict (from Hamburger Hill to Hanoi Jane) in both countries while grasping the whole sweep of history, with the voices of witnesses as the connecting tissue, some skirmishes even described from either side of the line both in Vietnam and Washington.

Notably, although some historians were consulted through preview screenings in relation to how facts are portrayed none of them appear on screen.  A BBC version of this documentary would probably have included a couple of Phds as talking heads but the material instead is connected together through Peter Coyote's sober reading of Geoffrey C. Ward's script.  Somehow The Vietnam War manages to have a point of view - that the conflict was a disastrous mess with heroism and horror on all sides -- without significant editorialising in the voice over.  Again that's the difference from the BBC approach; we tend to favour a presenter led format which just sometimes can be a distraction from the narrative being reviewed.

From an outsider perspective, despite the comprehensive aims of the series there do seem to be omissions.  Although there's some talk of how Vietnam's economy became reliant on the US forces for providing resources and entertainment, with the exception of a single medic who became famous for criticising the war while she was on active duty, there's nothing of the voices of those outside the combat zone, who worked in ordinance and the effort of supplying the army and the fringes, those working for the US army but didn't pick up a weapon, the Adrian Cronauers.  Largely ignored too is how pop culture reacted to the war and the effect that had on public opinion before and since.  Often we're told that the public were turning against the war with the suggestion this was purely caused by the nightly news.  The reality is always more complex than that.

But most damagingly, despite the aim to bring voices from all sides to the screen, the bias is still expositionally in favour of those from the US.  American witnesses are given extensive back story, from birthplaces and family details to why they signed up either through volunteering or conscription.  Vietnamese participants on the other hand are barely provided with an historic footprint, no sense of where they came from, what led them to fight.  There are fragments, of a family split across factional lines and having to choose whether to stay in Saigon know a sibling is about to return home as part of the invading army.  But the emotional weight overall is definitely with the programme's country of origin.

The use of archive material is exhilarating but often confusing.  The section about the massacre at Kent State University benefits from footage unseen since it was shot during the protest, the bloodbath and the aftermath and we're absolutely clear of the timeline and what we're watching.  But during Vietnam skirmishes, which mix colour and monochrome footage, we're often unsure if the material we're seeing represents the military action being described or illustrative examples of the kinds of things which happened.  The credits also include a disclaimer indicating that some of the footage may be been restaged after the fact and it's often distracting to hear the description of an event and not knowing if the images are of that same event.

None of which should draw away from what is an impressive achievement.  As with similar exercises, The World at War springs to mind, it's impossible that I can now look at the film and television about the conflict without a new perspective and an appreciation for how authentic or not those filmmakers have been in presenting the conflict.  If nothing else, it demonstrates just how narrow in subject films about Vietnam have been, focusing on the military at the expense of civilians.   Now that we live again in a time when a pointless war in East Asia feels inevitable to promote ideologies and defend geography, this is the kind of document feels very relevant even if those involved are unlikely to ever watch it.

THE VIETNAM WAR is currently airing on PBS America (Freeview 94, Freesat 155, Virgin 276 and Sky 534). A complete boxed set is also available. Review copy supplied.

The 231163 Diaries:
Tony Benn.



Politics Tony Benn was a Member of Parliament (MP) for 47 years between the 1950 and 2001 general elections and a Cabinet minister in the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the 1960s and 1970s. He published nine volumes of his diaries across the years of which Out of the Wilderness was the second.

George Alfred Brown, Baron George-Brown, PC was a British Labour politician who served as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1960 to 1970 and also in several Cabinet posts, including Foreign Secretary during the Labour government of the 1960s. He was a leader of the Labour Party's trade union right wing, and an effective election campaigner [wiki]. 


He had a colourful life, of which Benn captures a small fraction and I decided to include all of the surrounding entries to cover the whole of this mini-scandal.  

Sadly, 55 Days in Peking is probably long enough that Hilary will have missed Doctor Who.  Perhaps he caught up on the repeat the following week.

Friday 22 November

Just as I was leaving home to speak in Acton the phone rang and Hilary answered it and it was one of his friends. When he rang off he said that Kennedy had been shot and I didn't believe it. But we switched on the television and there was a flash saying that he was critically ill in Dallas. I drove to Acton and heard the 7.30 bulletin, just before gong in to the meeting, which announced that Kennedy had died. It was the most stunning blow and at the beginning of the meeting we all stood in silence for a moment in tribute.

I dashed home to watch TV and hear the details. George Brown was drunk when he was interviewed but everyone else who spoke was sensitive and touched and it was a most moving evening.

Saturday 23 November

Kennedy's death blotted out all other news and we watched a film transmitted via Telstar during the night. Melissa and Joshua drew the most wonderful pictures of what they had seen and it helped to get it out of their system.

This afternoon I took Hilary and his friends to a birthday treat to see Fifty-five Days in Peking. Caroline and I went to the Shores this evening. I heard from TV producer Jeremy Isaacs what happened when George Brown was on TV last night. He was so tight that he nearly got in a fight with someone else who had also come to pay tribute to Kennedy and they almost had to be separated. He is a complete disgrace and one day it will all blow up. One almost wishes it was more obvious so that Harold would have the Party backing for removing him.

Sunday 24 November

Worked all afternoon and most of the evening. The papers are still full of Kennedy and today Lee Harvey Oswald, his alleged assassin, was shot while in police custody. The whole thing is so fishy and the shame of the Dallas police is complete.

Thursday 28 November

Looked in at the Party meeting where George Brown made a brief statement apologising for his tribute to Kennedy last week. It was acutely embarrassing and there was no comment, nor even grunts of sympathy from MPs there.

Romola is Directing.

TV Future Doctor Who Romola Garai is making her directing debut on a horror film Deadline reports:
"The Hour and Suffragette actress Romola Garai is to make her feature directorial debut on upcoming horror Outside, I can reveal. Carla Juri (Blade Runner 2049), Alec Secareanu (God’s Own Country) and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) will lead cast in the movie, which is scheduled to go into production this fall. AMP International is handling world sales and will introduce the project to buyers in Cannes. Deals have already closed in German speaking Europe (Ascot Elite), Latin America (Imagem) and The Middle East (Front Row)."
She's also the screenwriter. Wow.

The Day of the Doctor (TARGET Novelisation)

Books Evening. I was admittedly a bit reticent about purchasing any of the TARGET novelisations of nuWho stories despite the presence of original writers for reasons of cost and my ongoing endeavor of narrowing my focus given the limited time I have, both chronologically and in general.  Did I mention the cost?  If it's not the Eighth Doctor or some new shiny disc release, I'll usually wait and see if its heavily discounted by The Book People (as has been the case with most recent publications).  Then someone on Twitter suggested it was like reading a very good Eighth Doctor Adventure novel and then someone else confirmed something else about it and I that Amazon would be sending me a book after I'd supplied them the correct remittance and that after that there'd be a review of it.  So here we are.

Spoilers ahead.

The Day of the Doctor is very much like reading a very good Eighth Doctor novel not least because for fourteen whole pages is actually is an Eighth Doctor novel, an adaptation of minisode The Night of the Doctor in a chapter with the same title.  Finally, if you have a mind to, there's a bookend to the EDAs on the shelf with Gary Russell's novelisation of the TV movie at the other end.  Incredibly the cover designs aren't that different, at least on the front.  The Pertwee logo from the TV movie is present and correct with the book title just below it.  The spines don't match at all, but when has that ever not been the case with Who merchandise?  It doesn't even match the TARGET re-issues from 2013 which is an especially weird oversight.  Or for that matter the other new publications, the various bits of text moving up and down the edge.

What kind of EDA?  For all their reputation for being difficult, around half of the EDAs were pretty trad, not too dissimilar to past Doctor novels or the later nuWho efforts except with Eighth, or the version of Eighth who asserted himself in the novels at the centre, with or without his memories.  The Day of the Doctor isn't one of those.  Instead, Steven Moffat pays homage to the experimental literary excesses elsewhere, The Banquo Legacy, The Blue Angel and especially Interference with its mixture of unreliable narrator, epistolary passages and obfuscation.  Although it often manages to be a novelisation of the television story The Day of the Doctor, covering most of the action and dialogue, it's a much deeper experience with cameos from across the franchise and a lassez-faire attitude to both continuity and canonicity.

The overall effect is breathtaking as, like some of the older TARGETs, the story is reconfigured for other purposes.  But unlike those TARGETs, Moffat knows this doesn't exist in an experiential vacuum.  Unlike those writers in the 70s and 80s, he  knows his readership can just as easily watch a dvd or even more quickly streaming it so doesn't have the responsibility of being for being the only available source for the story so fights to provide something more, with a rare excursion into the Doctor's psyche, offering amongst other things, a peak into how it feels to have memories of the same room from three different perspectives and personalities and levels of experience.  This is the sort of internal monologue which was part and parcel of the EDAs, usually when they were trying to rationalise his nibs's selective amnesia.

But what of his nibs?  Without the need to offer anything like the surprise we all had when Paul popped up in the iPlayer stream, Moffat opens out the material and slackens the pace, taking us inside his TARDIS at the moment he picks up Cass's distress signal, his console room having returned to the gothic mansion interior with a cathedral attached familiar from the TV Movie (which is, I think, what the latter Big Finish stories assume it looks like too).  Cass is given some more backstory, a clearly explanation of why she runs away from the Doctor rather than embrace his heroism and a surname.  But most significantly his final speech is modified with a nod to the EDAs and although I won't reveal what it is, fans of any of his female companions from that period will be disappointed.  Told you there'd be spoilers.

If anything his transition from Doctor to warrior feels even more rushed on the page, although its clear he doesn't have much of a choice.  He'll either die again, having only been revived by Ohila and the sisterhood temporarily or become someone he doesn't necessarily want to be.  It's both a selfish and selfless act and although at first glance it seems unworthy of Eighth, given the events of anything from The Ancestor Cell to Neverland, it isn't completely our of character.  Of all the incarnations, the Eighth Doctor's character is strong and long enough to encompass a range of tones and hews.  He once shot a guy in the head because he couldn't think of another way of beating him, something which Moffat inadvertently seems to comment on here when he's actually making a point about something else.

A "straighter" version of the novelisation might have left The Night of the Doctor out or reduced it to a brief mention in a prologue.  But Moffat makes it an integral part of the novel and the War Doctor's back story.  There's also something about seeing the dialogue on the page which makes it feel in keeping with the Eighth in the EDAs even though on watching he's clearly based in the version in the audios.  Perhaps that's just a demonstration that in fact he really is just one man, that the same person who blew up his home planet also saved reality by plunging himself into another, who was friends with both Charley and Fitz.  If nothing else, this just makes me ache for more Eighth Doctor novels either set in previous publishing periods, the Time War or else a brand new run of stories.  I'm sure we could fit them in somewhere.

Well, after all this, as you can imagine, I have the bug.  I've started collecting the original TARGETs.  Sorting through, I already have forty eight of them, a bunch of others as audio books and the Gary Russell's novelisation of the TV movie, not that it really counts.  Having visited a few charity shops this past week, I've realised that it's going to take some work, which is fine, it'll be nice to have a new challenge.  I could, of course, simply head off into the treacherous climates of Amazon and eBay but blimey some of those are expensive, especially the hardbacks.  So, we'll see.  Either way, it's been a pleasure writing a review longer than a paragraph for a change.  But I felt like there was so much to say.  Even if I've managed to say it three or four times over.

40: Andrew Scott.



Sometimes small moments speak volumes.  Robert Icke's production starring Andrew Scott has numerous innovations, but the most potent, the most emotional is to introduce a romantic back story between Hamlet and Guildenstern.  I've always thought that the mark of a production's quality is the thought which goes into interpreting these old friendships and in this Scandi-noir interpretation, by re-appropriating a few key lines, paying close attention to some interpersonal reactions, a whole history of love and loss is developed between characters whose connection is usually shown as tenuous at best.  Here, it's almost as, if not more potent than  Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia, and it's all in the looks between Scott and Madeline Appiah.

We can see something new is happening when R & G are initially introduced.  Hamlet and Guildenstern are extremely friendly, all smiles and gleeful hugs.  But then he turns to Rosencrantz and gives him the bare minimum of a greeting, grudging at best.  Immediately we know - there's wonder flowing beneath numerous bridges here.  The body language between R & G suggests that they're in a relationship now so and we're seeing Hamlet's disproving jealousy?  But everything is still pretty ambiguous; are we simply seeing the concern of one friend to another's choice of partner or something deeper?  As the play continues, amid all the more familiar relationships, we're forever conscious of how these three characters are regarding each other, how they hold each other, what's happening between them.

It's all about betrayal.  Guildenstern finds herself caught between a current and past relationship and she knows that as soon as she tells Hamlet that they're not in Elsinore of their own volition, that they've been sent for, it'll change their friendship, their relationship forever.  And so it does.  Every interaction after that is powerfully emotional as she finds herself working against her better nature, creating a wedge between someone who was clearly the love of her life.  When she tells him in the aftermath of the Mousetrap, "My lord, you once did love me." (a line transferred from Rosencrantz) and he acidly replies "So I do still ..." we can see that there's no going back and we're now on a path which will ultimately lead to the demise of one side of the relationship.

This production is replete with such fresh yet contextually logical re-interpretations of the text.  Although there are some laughs, for the most part the humour in the production is dialed back.  Polonius's scattershot memory and buffoonery, rather than providing easy laughs for a clown, are suggested instead to be as a result of early onset dementia; in one thrilling moment when addressing Voltemand, he forgets what he's saying and sits for minutes, confusion etched across his face as though he's suddenly aware of how his mind is working against him.  Although Peter Wright does allow his Polonius some levity here and there (especially in dealing with the asides he gives during Fishmonger) we're mainly aware of him forever trying to come to terms with his new weaknesses.

Although it's not unusual for Gertrude to be presented as entirely naive as to her new husband's murder of her previous spouse, this is one of the few times when, in drinking from the cup at the end, we're seeing a mother knowingly sacrifice herself to save her son.  The duel plays out in a kind of theatre montage, to music, applying poignancy to what can seem like the cranking inevitability of tragedy.  It's a mark of Juliet Stevenson's skill that we can see this choice in just a few glances, from the glass to her son and back again.  But it's a production which manages to wring a relatively happy ending for her and everyone else, as they're seen partying in the afterlife with the Queen re-uniting with her dead husband, Claudius's, yes, betrayal having been laid bare.

It's also an occasion when Hamlet Snr is a corporeal being.  Still a "ghost", but the actor David Rintoul is entirely present in his scenes with his son, embracing and holding each other and even Gertrude in the closet scene, even though she can't see or hear him and denies his existence.  Rintoul also portrays the player king and the grave digger and you could interpret this as Hamlet seeing his father in these other beings (or simply appreciate the doubling up of casting).  Having him appear on the security cameras at the opening of the play is an interesting choice though; sure this would mean that there would be a recording of his appearance somewhere?  Unless he's not actually in the space being surveyed but simply imprinting himself on the technology.  Perhaps sometimes it is best to just go with it.

There is one curious scene which tripped up a lot of reviewers, especially Michael Billingham in his Guardian review: "I cannot fathom why Claudius should make his confession of murder not to an unseen divinity but to Hamlet standing in front of him holding a pistol. Why, if the king came clean, wouldn’t his nephew shoot him?"  It is a surprising choice, but my rationalisation, perhaps after having watched a few episodes of Legion, is that what we're seeing is not literal action.  That the supernatural element which has infested the castle has led to Hamlet and Claudius to share a delusion and that the latter isn't aware of the former's presence.  That scene isn't easy to stage, the audience always has to suspend their disbelief to some extent about how much the new King senses his step son's presence.  Icke decides to face it head on, literally.

Even after seeing forty Hamlet's it's still possible to be surprised and yet in a production which apart from the aforementioned tweaks utilises a very full text.  Fortinbras is near complete, his closing army and diplomacy illustrated from filmed news reports (along with shots of the Danish royal family at the funerals which bookend the play).  The second gravedigger's cut but "How all occasions do inform against me" is intact.  This is mainly an interpretation of the Quarto text although it shifts "To Be" earlier to before Fishmonger with Polonius wanding on at the end which means Hamlet won't be aware that he's being watched by anyone within the world of the play so his potentially voicing real thoughts rather than performatively adding a seed of doubt in the minds of those watching.

The actor impressive communicates as though he's saying on the most famous speeches in literature for the first time.  You can see a thought process behind Scott's eyes even as he's also somewhat lecturing the audience.  Every word is clear and although I saw a few people on social media on the night of broadcast questioning his gesticulating, that seemed an entirely natural result of the character wanting to emphasise his words, draw attention to what's important.  Why fold your arms or sit on your hands when you can use your whole body to tell your story?  As some of the contemporary reviews suggested, this is a career defining performance from Scott, who after Moriarty finds himself too often pigeon holed into the crazy villain mode.  He has much greater range than that.

Is his Hamlet mad?  Yes, although I think it's more complicated than that.  I think he does suffer from a mental illness but it's as we'd diagnose and treat it now.  He's feigning madness when it suits him because he's well aware of his other problems in dealing with PTSD as a result of the death of his father.  In other words there are episodes which are a result of his mental illness and what seems like manic episodes which are in fact performances.  But I'd also add that it does become harder to distinguish between them towards the end of the production  Notice how, when he's quizzing the grave digger he seems completely lucid, but then goes off the rails when faced with the Ophelia's corpse yet dials back again just before the duel when he jokes about skills or lack of them in relation to fencing.

If the passion between Hamlet and Guildenstern doesn't manage to overshadow the usual relationship with Ophelia, it's partly due to the easy chemistry between Scott and Jessica Brown Findlay.  Findlay imbues Ophelia with a thick layer of irony to the point that initially we aren't sure if she's complicit in Hamlet's "madness", an impression which is preserved deep into the nunnery scene when its hinted that her complicity may have been one sided.  It's here that we see the power of Findlay as an actress as a single tear drifts through her already sodden mascara as she realises Hamlet knows that she too has betrayed him.  She also doesn't overplay Ophelia's breakdown.  Wheeled on strapped to a chair having been institutionalised, its only in her final moments on stage that she lets her emotions run riot.

That we're able to follow all of these emotional threads is a credit to the television presentation.  When I began this project, it was on the assumption that at no point would it include the prime time transmission of a West End in theatre recording.  But here we are all these years later with BBC Two devoting three and a quarter hours on an Easter Saturday to this Almeda Theatre transfer to the Harold Pinter theatre.  The BBC has experimented with this format, with Sophocles's Antigone from the Barbican turning up in 2015 on BBC Four  and the iPlayer awash with streaming specials (the RSC production of Richard II, the Globe's Dream and a Lear from Manchester Exchange) but I think you have to look back as far as BBC Four's broadcasts of the Globe for a complete Shakespeare broadcast live from or recorded in the theatre.

Until Saturday night, recent Shakespeare has generally meant filmic productions of the plays, The Hollow Crown sequence or Russell T Davies's version of Dream (not to mention the forthcoming Lear with Sir Anthony H) or compilations like Live from the RSC.  But if nothing else, this Hamlet, produced by John Wyver, a veteran of cinema broadcasts, demonstrates that in-theatre captures can be just viable if not essential.  For all the artifice, there's something tangible, thrilling and exciting about seeing those words played in a setting where there's less scope for retakes, in which they're foregrounded and allowed to flow without an actor constantly needing to be aware of how they stand in relation to the camera especially when the production originated in the theatre to begin with.

It's thanks to tv director Rhodri Huw that we're able to absorb the emotional moment I highlighted at the top of this review.  Throughout the presentation, the director offers close-ups of the performers allowing us to notice their micro expressions and so it is that as Hamlet and Guildenstern speak, the rest of the stage almost disappears as the recorder passes between them, the pain etched across her features.  When Hamlet initially replies to Guildenstern's reminder of his previous love for her, "So I do still ..." the camera holds on Scott's face and in the ensuing moments, after cutting to a master featuring all three of them, the prince clasping Guildenstern's hand, a reconciliation seems possible, but then Hamlet decides that her entreaties are just another manipulation and we can see that hope is lost.

The March of Time.

About New month. So here we have ...

April O'Neil


[Editor's note: Yes, I know there have been numerous Aprils over the years from animated to Judith Hoag but Megan Fox is the most recent and actually one of the highlights of the newest reboots. So there.]

Letterboxd in.

Film After experimenting on Twitter for the past six months, I've finally signed up for a Letterboxd account as a way of keeping a viewing diary. The idea of know when I've seen films always sounded preposterous to me, but as I get older, it's an excellent touchstone for remember what happened on various dates, even if for the most part all the days are roughly the same (porridge, sertraline, work, chicken salad, more work, dinner, film, daily dose of Doctor Who, Twitter for a bit, sleep). I can actually tell when various things have happened over the past couple of years because of the streaming dates for certain films on Netflix and it'll be useful to have this stored elsewhere.

True, this site used to offer a similar working memory, back in the emoblogging days (thanks to Caro for introducing me to that term) but now that people I've actually met in real life read this thing, I'm less inclined to be quite as personal as in the early 00s for some reason.  Plus as I get older, I feel like I need to spend more time experiencing things than writing about them, especially since I'm working close to a full week which offers less space to be sat at a keyboard spouting off, apart from admittedly on Twitter although that still feels less permanent and more experimental than here even though they're both online and I can pretty much write what I want here too.  Shrug emoji.

Anyway, my Letterboxd profile is here and here's a direct link to the diary page.  Filling in the gaps is ongoing.  Fortunately, uploading data from Netflix was a breeze.  Keeping a record of everything I watched in 2004 doesn't seem so stupid now although how I wish I'd bothered to keep the dates when I repeated a similar exercise in 2014.  Sadly when Amazon closed Lovefilm, they also deleted my entire watch history from back in the ScreenSelect days which was still on their servers until recently (not that you can tell from a dispatch date exactly when I saw a film) and the streams that remain don't have dates attached.

Other dates require some memory and detective work.  I'll be heading off into the archives of this blog for various things, since more often than not I'll actually mention when I saw a film.  My old MA course booklets have screening dates.  But there's also some logic.  I know when I will have seen some films because I know it was in the week of release and which day that would have been.  Fan4stic was released on the 6th August 2015 and I saw it on the following Monday so that would have been the 10th.  I saw Pulp Fiction on its UK release date so 21st October 2004.  Same Groundhog Day.  Same Philadelphia.  Plus there's all the ticket stubs lying around.

Could this become an obsession?  Possibly.  But it's nice to have a project which taxes the memory, forces me to look into places I haven't been for a while.  You can bet I'll be trying to find the listings for my uni cinema the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds between 1993 and 1996, perhaps published in the local newspaper.  Every now and then I'll think of something else, like seeing The Revenger's Tragedy at FACT the week it opened, or a special premiere screening of Grey Owl at the Odeon (with Dickie Attenborough in attendance).  There's also an RSS feed if you want to watch me recreating my film(watch)ography as it happens.

“It’s okay to say no.”

Life Some time ago, after numerous false starts, I began to only engage in things which interest me rather than something which could interest me. I was becoming overwhelmed (and this was pre-anxiety!) and setting rules, actually choosing interests has helped me to direct myself into particular areas. To an extent this has isolated me somewhat but in a lot of ways, I'm more fulfilled, have wider horizons. It's a paradox. 

It's also something Laura Delarato at NBC is experimenting with:
"So, why am I doing this? I spoke to clinical psychologist Dr. Jon Belford about the possible reasons behind my urge to say yes to things even when they aren't serving me personally. “There are a number of factors that can contribute to difficulty prioritizing one's own needs. It often can be tied to underlying feelings about one's sense of self worth or irrational, unconscious beliefs about the nature of relationships," he says. "Behaviors such as overcommitting to plans or feeling a need to be constantly available may be tied to a distorted, irrational worry about abandonment.”
I can especially relate to routines. Routines are good. Routines are comforting. Except when they're disrupted. Oh.

Who's On TV.

TV Long term readers will remember my spluttering attempts to audit appearance from Doctor Who alum in film and television. Now there's a Twitter bot which is doing it automatically during broadcast, @whosontv. Here are a few examples of its work:



Liverpool Biennial 2018:
Press Launch.



Art Good evening or rather morning since due to the usual embargo this isn't going to be posted until after 10pm tomorrow, after you've heard about Taco Bell. Probably around lunch time, just in case. Keep that in mind as we head into the thicket of tenses. This morning (see what I mean) offered the press launch of this year's Liverpool Biennial in the auspicious location of the Liverpool Playhouse.  These launches usually occasion in one of the forthcoming venues. 2014's was in the Old Blind School, 2012 at the Cunard Building.  I apparently missed out in 2016 - I expect I was working.  Either way, it made a change to be somewhere with proper seating rather than stackables and yes, indeed, the Playhouse is a venue this year.

Getting there wasn't uneventful.  For the past year I've pretty much walked everywhere but can never quite judge what's feasible or how long it'll take.  Sefton Park to the vicinity of the Playhouse is nearly fifty minutes but I was surprised to discover that it wasn't that great an effort.  I'm getting even fitter.  Eating Subway salads (no cheese or sauce) for lunch every day and drinking skimmed milk is probably helping too.  Even so, being on the pavement for that long meant I needed to toilet once I reached town and as most of us probably do, I took advantage of the facilities in the Met Quarter.  Until the fire alarm went off and I found myself trying to finish off with all alarms blaring and someone banging on the door.  It's still standing.  Probably a false alarm.



Somehow managed not to be the first person at the launch.  Met a couple of people I knew, recognised a few faces, but didn't really mingle.  Every now and then my anxiety disorder tips over into being a social anxiety disorder and so I sat and ate the cold croissants we'd been provided and sipped some water, decaff options for tea and coffee not having been provided.  I think I'm going to have to start carrying my own.  My wallet's big enough (literally, it's left a square wear mark on the outside of my jeans).  It just feels so austentatious, as though I'm trying to draw attention to myself.  I'm already the person to has some metal cutlery jangling about in his bag just in case.  But needs must.

Here's the explanation for this year's Biennial title from the press pack.
"The title for Beautiful world, where are you? derives from a 1788 poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819. The years between the composition of Schiller’s poem and Schubert’s song saw great upheaval and profound change in Europe, from the French Revolution to the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. Today, the poem continues to reflect a world gripped by deep uncertainty. It can be seen as a lament but also as an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that can be shared in a more equitable way."
Here's a link to the whole poem although it seems to be a different translation to the one for which the title of Biennial has developed.  Either way, as is often best on this occasion it feels loose enough to encompass whatever mayhem will be spread across the various venues chosen for this year, revealed to us on the massive screen shown above.  The usual suspects plus RIBA North, the Playhouse, Blackburne House and the Victoria Gallery & Museum.

Although it's difficult to tell at this early stage, the most interesting strand seems to the invites to indigenous peoples from across the world, many of whom seem to comment on commerce and possessions and how their belief systems fit into the modern world.  This also feeds into a decision to utilise the National Museum Liverpool collections, at the Walker and World Museum, finding works which fit within the theme and interact with other works due to be on display.



But the undoubted coup of this year's Biennial is the participation of Agnes Varda, only recently in Hollywood attending the Oscars having picked up an honorary fellowship.  Initially, I'd thought this would amount to resurrecting some old pieces, but she's participating fully developing new works especially for FACT and we were treated to an interview piece in which she giddily talked about the Biennial theme and the kinds of work she's going to be bringing.

Which is my take away from the launch.  In the past few Biennial, one of my disappointments has been the lack of new work in some venues, not seeing artists reacting specifically to Liverpool as much as was the case in the oughts.  But there seems to be more site specific work in the offering here and selecting work to fit the venue rather than the venue simply housing some stuff which could just as well be anywhere.  Fingers crossed.

The Liverpool Biennial's own website has more about the proposed programme here, with all of the artists, locations and other business.

Franchise Wars.



Food Yes, indeed, Liverpool is finally going to have a Taco Bell, which is opening at the bottom of Bold Street. For years the only frame of reference I had for Taco Bell was as a joke in Demolition Man which was deemed so obscure for international audiences that it was poorly ADRed to Pizza Hut in some versions:



The QuoDB offers dozens of other movie references and the general mood seems to be positive. Now I'll finally have a chance to fill in that gap in my knowledge of Americana.

Slow Tourism.

Art  How long do you usually spend visiting art galleries?  The pace with which I'm able to feel like I've confidently seen a collection has reduced as I've aged to the point that it's become impossible for me to see a venue without multiple visits.  If I'm in the right mood I can confidently spend days returning to the same collection and even then I never quite feel like I've given the work justice.  For that project, it took at least two days for me to see the Walker Art Gallery and even then I felt like I rushed around.  The best paintings demand that you spend time over them, teasing out their mimetic qualities over the long term. 

Which is why when in deciding to revisit the National Gallery after what must be a couple of decades, the notion that I might be able to see the place in a couple of days was fanciful at best.  This is one of the most important art collections in the world, every painting of either national or international importance.  There isn't any filler, and although there are leaflets available highlighting the eighty or some most sought after works, from what I've seen so far, that's like selecting some choice phrases from Shakespeare's canon.  Even at some of the my favourite other galleries, the quality just isn't this high.

And so, after talking an hour tottering about the first room of the Sainsbury Wing, I surrendered to the fact that I might well be spending the rest of the year not visiting London once a month, but rather the National Gallery.  If you'd told the younger version of me that his mid-life crisis incarnation would spend two hours just looking at various interpretations of the Madonna and Child and crucifixion, he'd probably wonder if Joey and Pacey would really spend the rest of their lives together finally having told Dawson to go away.  Even fifteen years ago I probably would have found the notion entirely tedious.  Not now.

Judging by the floorplan, I managed to see rooms 51, 58, 59, 60 and 66, although the wing is in flux with room closures, some of which don't seem to have been corrected on the online map.  Perhaps I did only see five rooms, but it feels like more.  One of the reasons I took my time, it took so long, was because I decided to listen to all of the audio explanations were available and nearly every item has a description or explanation read by a voice which sounds almost but not exactly like someone notable.  One of them may be Michael Sheen.  I think another could have been in Doctor Who.  There's apparently about fifty hours of this material.

Other than re-invigorating my interest in the history of art, what specifically did I draw from the visit?  That my new favourite artist is Carlo Crivelli, the Venetian painter from the 1450s.  His subject matter tends to be biblical, as was the mode of the time, but his style feels entirely like that of a high end comic book artist, bold lines with detailed colouring, with exquisitely graphic rather than attempted photo-realistic representations of the people (note he was a contemporary of Leonardo).  This Pridella is typical,   Zoom in and notice the detailing of the landscape, the walls and grass, like a book illustration.  But this all happened on egg tempera.

Meanwhile that what we venerate now as masterpieces of world art amounted to nothing more than expensive furniture, literally in the case of Botticelli's Venus and Mars which was either a headboard or the back board of day chest.  That it survived this long, this intact is a miracle, and probably had a lot to do with the habit in later centuries of hacking furniture apart and selling off the good bits.  Apparently there'll be more Botticelli on display when some of the galleries re-open in April after the refit.  I suspect I won't be leaving the Sainsbury wing any time soon.  On the days I'm in London at least. 

Portraits Of Port Sunlight.

Photography Friend of the blog Pete Carr, introduces photographs from his new exhibition at The Lyceum in Liverpool, peering behind the curtains of the houses in the village near Bebbington:
"Port Sunlight has an interesting mix of architecture. Every street is different. This house basically had a living room and a kitchen downstairs and yet from outside it looked spacious. But despite the awkward design, the owner loved two things: her kitchen and her garden, which her kitchen looks out onto."
[Double Negative]

Indomnitable.

TV Noticed by Matthew Purchase, a listing has turned up on Amazon for a blu-ray boxed set for Season 12 of Doctor Who, which would comprise Robot, The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen.  You can express your interest here and Amazon'll send you an email when it has a price.  The release date is early June.

Initially my reaction was a sigh, after having spent the best part of a decade or two purchasing everything on dvd.  What would be the point in having this standard definition television on blu-ray?  But, friends, look at the product description:
Tom Baker's acclaimed first season as the Fourth Doctor, originally aired in 1975/76. With his best friend Sarah Jane Smith and new companion Harry, the Doctor pits his wits against a giant robot, the insect Wirrn, Cybermen, Sontarans and Daleks!

Twenty episodes, specially restored for Blu-Ray and packed with new and old special features. Build your own archive of classic Doctor Who seasons with this six-disc special ‘limited edition packaging’ boxset.

Existing Extras
Existing bonus material from the original DVD’s

Brand New Bonus Features
Brand new one hour candid interview – ‘Tom Baker in conversation’
Behind The Sofa – classic clips from season 12 viewed by Tom Baker, Philip Hinchcliffe, Louise Jameson, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Sadie Miller.
New making-of documentaries for ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ and ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’
Optional brand new updated special effects for Revenge of the Cybermen
Genesis of the Daleks – omnibus movie version
The Tom Baker Years VHS release on disc for the first time
Production archive material and scripts from the BBC Archives
Some other archive treats to be announced
Whilst the idea that Genesis of the Daleks is being released again is beyond parody, the inclusion of the original omnibus broadcast and release is a useful addition for completists. But seeing The Tom Baker Years VHS (which has been out of circulation for decades) here is incredible news. As this compilation of just his reaction shots indicates, this is Baker gold:

But also there's the point that although you might imagine that there won't be that much of an increase in picture quality from the DVD, as the Shada release indicates, blu-ray provides the opportunity to see this material as close as odds to the original transmission tapes, not just better than when it was originally broadcast but as it coalesced in the BBC editing suite.

That product description seems to suggest that season boxes are now the way of the future and it'll be interesting to see how they deal with the 60s.  A conspiracy theorist might wonder if we're about to see a flood of new episode announcements but the chances are they'll be a mish mash of recons and animations.  Either way, the BBC have found a way to hoover up yet more of my money.