Twin Peaks, side by side.

TV Last night, after sitting my laptop next to a portable television, I watched the final two episodes of Twin Peaks side by side, just about in synch (ad breaks and buffering led to some hiccups) and was entirely convinced this was the proper way to enjoy the episodes.

 On the simplest level, like Mike Figgis's Timecode which similarly juxtaposed action in separate screens, longueurs in one episode such as lengthy driving sequences or pauses in conversation coincide with important action in the other and the shots and themes really do talk to one another.

But there's much to it than that. Alex Fulton has a length explanation for this theory with plenty of evidence along with how it effects the narrative to create a happy or at least satisfying ending:
"Herein I will suggest my own opinion, based on a unique reading of the material, that the ending is in fact of the happy variety: Cooper wins. Having said that, the way the events are depicted works like a puzzle with its pieces all out of place. Using a little bit of that intuition Agent Cooper so often employs allows the viewer to lock the pieces in place. A rearranging of the events of final two episodes gives the viewer a more satisfyingly optimistic conclusion, albeit one that does not resolve in the traditional way of most television. It requires some work on the part of the audience—not a strange concept in avant-garde art—to properly formulate."Here's are some of the key moments:



And a focus on the ending in particular:



It's remarkable how the final shot of the forest in #18 is the exact length of the closing credits in #19 and the experience ends with Julee Cruise on #17 which just happens to be two minutes longer.

Pop-Up Globe.

Theatre While we wait for Shakespeare's Globe in London to return to its roots, in Australia, a pop up version of iron and steel has opened in Melbourne in Australia and looks brilliant:
"As a gamble, it’s paid off – the Pop-up Globe has completed two seasons in New Zealand, and already sold 40,000 tickets for its first repertory rotations in Melbourne. Three companies with a total personnel of 90 travel with the show, as does its wardrobe of 500 bespoke costumes. The size is warranted for the programme; no less than 14 individual shows are staged every week of its season. It’s a relentless schedule replicated in the physical construction of the theatre itself; the whole Pop-up is assembled over just six weeks, and packed down in less than three."
Touring companies which carried a theatre with them is how drama and comedy flourished in the sixteenth century and it's often suggested how Shakespeare was inspired to become an actor and dramatist, perhaps even joining a company himself in the "missing" years.

Dr. Eighth.

Book A few years ago BBC Radio 4 broadcast about the history of the Mr. Men and how the franchise is being looked after and exploited by Roger Hargreaves's son Adam, especially after it was sold on to UK entertainment group Chorion and how they're only really interested in modernising the product around the fringes, keeping the key elements as much as possible. Now, here's some cross franchise pollination with Who stories written and illustrated in the style of a Mr. Man book, one for each Doctor, including Eighth. As expected Hargreaves has the very 2013 problem of not being able to reference anything about this iteration of the Time Lord due to other licensees having properly defined him apart from about an hour of telly. I'd expected his solution would be to offer a generic version, but actually between the character design with his floppy hair and green skin (surely a reference to his jacket in Night of the Doctor) and what few lines of dialogue he has, the writer offers a pretty good approximation of his dry wit.  Across the thirty-two pages there are two linked stories, about saving the crew of an exploding starship and mediating a conflict between the Sea Devils (old school design) and Silurians (nuWho look) and it's all good fun and even manages to have an illustration of the inside the TV Movie console room evoked by the steampunk supports.  Placement: Frankly there's nothing in here which not as well be canonical considering what's been permissible elsewhere, so due to his costume, I've put it at the start of the Time War.

Girls Unbound.

Music Thanks to my nearly total obsession with the Sugababes reunion and lack thereof, it's impossible not to also be taking a sideways glance at Girls Aloud, the ITV to their BBC, and just exactly what happened there. Now, here's an unsurprisingly frank interview with Nadine in which its reveal exactly what did happen there, and unfortunately it all occured on my patch:
"In an ideal world there would be a commemorative plaque above the entrance of Liverpool’s Echo arena. “Here ended Girls Aloud, the last great girl band” it would say. On 20 March 2013 Nadine Coyle – one fifth of the genre-bending, pop-reshaping rabble – was getting ready for the final night of the band’s reunion tour. “I was in hair and makeup,” she explains in a north London restaurant, “going through my nightly ritual.” Rather than taking delivery of a good-luck bouquet, Coyle received some news via the band’s PR and manager – the other girls wanted to call it quits. Not the more fashionable “hiatus”, which they’d already done in 2009, but a proper split. With the band working to majority rule, there was nothing she could do."
Astonishing behavior from all concerned.

Class Dismissed.

TV Let's mark some time. Doctor Who spin-off Class is officially cancelled which was somewhat expected given show runner Patrick Ness had already announced he's walked away. Here's what current BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh said today at the Broadcasting Press Guild with some invective:
"No, [we're not bringing it back]. There was nothing wrong with it – I thought Patrick did a great job, he explored an amazing world."
No, it was rubbish. After a promising first couple of episodes it plopped straight into the kind of sub-Buffy territory those opening episodes seemed like they were commenting against, with some astonishingly ripe dialogue an uncertain tone and a feeling of watching some random episodes from a much longer series were all the character development was happening elsewhere. Also had the interesting approach for a Doctor Who spin-off of mostly ignoring all the potential mythology available in favour something trite and generic. A glance through my reviews shows someone become increasingly tetchy as the series unfolded.
"In honesty, it just didn't really land for us on BBC Three."
Which judging by the lack of pre-publicity and in series promotion seemed be the case before it was "broadcast" or uploaded. There were hard core Doctor Who fans who didn't even know it existed despite Capaldi turning up in the first episode.  If you thought it was actually any good you would have mainstreamed it on BBC Two, except there isn't a timeslot on the channel any more for this kind of thing with primetime mostly filled with documentaries and Dragon's Den.  So you dumped it on BBC One, again without bothering to publicise it first.  It's almost as though you didn't want people to watch it because you were quite rightly embarrassed.
"Things sometimes don't, and I've got to make decisions about what we're going to do from a drama point of view."
Well, quite.  Thanks to the license fee settlement, gone are the days of even being able to afford Being Human of Spooks: Code 9 or indeed the BBC could afford to pay for BBC Three to go out on a linear channel.  This wouldn't have gone into production without the US money.
"There are always times when you do something and you have to decide that it's not going to come back. Class is just one of those things."
Honestly, we understand. It probably wasn't what you were expecting and it wasn't what we were either. It's just annoying that it ended on a cliffhanger. Perhaps Big Finish'll produce their usual ten boxed sets in other to provide a resolution.  This generation has its own The Tripods.

None of which has stopped me from foolishly buying the bloody thing on blu-ray because I'm a flagellating completist.

TV Creamed.



TV Last week, nostalgia website TV Cream celebrated its 20th anniversary birthday, which I planned to mention here but entirely forgot about in the middle of everything and so here's a belated happy birthday anniversary to them.  My guess is I first stumbled into the website pretty soon after launch when it was still in its black html stage with alphabetical pages of text and downloadable real media recordings of programme theme tunes.

Having lived in a BBC family, it was an ideal way of learning about the kinds of programmes which had been broadcast on the other side as well as the proper USP of reminding of the programmes which I'd completely forgotten or slept through because I was a baby.  Finally I had an explanation for the programme filled with monsters which had haunted me for decades, multi-coloured beasts not of this dimension that cause a fair few nightmare.  It was Animal Kwackers.  See above.  Shocking.

Then there was the newsletter with its stunning length and authority. Just how many hands did work to produce this voluminous text?  During my recent life laundry, in one of the boxes I found a print-out of a Cream Digest from March 2004, the TOP 50 Media Movers and Shakers.  It's twenty-four pages long, in courier new, double sided.  Needless to say it's at the top of the magazine mountain waiting to be reread.  There are people listed who I've never heard of and that has always been one of TV Creams best aspects, making you feel like an insider.

Eventually I was invited to write for their sister publication Off The Telly which is pretty high in my list of things in life which I look back on with amazement and glee (if you see what I mean) and although I've been asked to write for Cream now and then I never seemed to have any decent enough ideas, or at least good enough to suggest, which can be added to the list of life's regrets along with not accepting the Kirsten from France's invitation into her room on my second night at BA (Hons) university, not actually living in Manchester during my MA university because I miscalculated my finances during the application process and not dieting until being forced to by my hernia operation.

To bury the headline somewhat, to celebrate the anniversary birthday, TV Cream have produced an actual television programme, which is quite frankly brilliant and you can watch through this YouTube playlist on YouTube.  It's an offshoot of the kinds of things they've created for their periodic podcast, but in vision with analyses of some frankly bonkers television, interviews and other surprises which I won't reveal because its best to watch with little idea of what to expect.

I'd love to see more of the commentary pieces on forgotten television if they wanted to turn that into a regular YouTube thing.  Please make these clips go viral pronto.  Anyway, Happy Birthday Anniversary TV Cream.  Here's to the next twenty years!

Missing Presumed Drowned.

TV While some of us still have nightmares about the furnaces the BBC employed to cremate old episodes of Doctor Who, if reports are to be believed, spare a thought for those seeking information about shows broadcast on The DuMont Television Network in the US which shut up shop in the 1950s. During his search for old episodes of The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first US network show starring an Asian-American actress, he discovered a pretty horrifying bit of testimony:
"As it turns out, there wasn’t much to hear. The DuMont Television Network made and aired ten episodes in 1951, canceled the show in 1952, then shuttered for good by 1956. According to the 1996 Library of Congress testimony of actor Edie Adams, most of the DuMont series kinescopes — including, presumably, any remaining episodes of The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong — met a watery end following a legal dispute over the network’s archives in the ’70s: “[One of the DuMont lawyers] had three huge semis back up to the loading dock at ABC, filled them all with the stored kinescopes and two-inch videotape, drove them to a waiting barge in New Jersey, took them out on the water, made a right at the Statue of Liberty, and dumped them in Upper New York Bay! Very neat, no problem!”
The rest of piece will ring bells for anyone who's read about the search for old archive shows in the UK [via].

"around £60 I think"

Music This extensive interview with composer David Arnold manages to include a question about his work on the Eighth Doctor theme which has recently returned to the audio releases:
You did the Eighth Doctor’s theme for Big Finnish Productions’ “Doctor Who.” What goes into doing a theme for a character with such a deep musical legacy and such high expectations? What influences did you look to and was there anything about the least famous Doctor character that spoke to you?

Arnold: I did this when Doctor Who was off air and had been for many years. No one really expected it to come back and this was for a limited edition CD run of audio stories of Dr Who. it was a low key, low budget (around £60 I think ) favor I was doing for Mark Gatiss whom I’d known for a while. I loved the show when it was on TV and watched it religiously as a child. My favourite was Patrick Troughton. It was great to be able to go back to how I felt about watching the show. I wasn’t interested in re-inventing really… more revisiting….so I stuck closely to the classic Derbyshire version. It was always Doctor Who so in a way the actor didn’t matter; I was still writing for The Doctor.
One of the reasons I returned to the show was that version of the theme introducing Storm Warning, Eighth's first adventure. It sounded so strange and alien and yet also comfortingly nostalgic and close to the original, which is just what those first audios ended up being.

Cinema Paradiso: An Update.

Film Here's the short review of Cinema Paradiso after a couple of weeks. It's worked well enough so far that I've decided to cancel a few other subscriptions and stump up the extra eight pounds a month to upgrade my subscription to three discs at a time unlimited.

Now for something longer.

The two subscriptions were Spotify and Disney Life. Amazon Music Unlimited caters for all my music streaming needs, with a more flexible and user friendly mobile app and being able to stream through the two Echo Dots we have in the flat now. Since signing up to Disney Life, I think I've only watched about two films. So it seemed reasonable to convert those for more physical discs from CinPa.

Here are the list of positives:

Dispatches and receipts are as timely as latter day Lovefilm. Discs posted by them one day always arrive here the next and similarly those posted back are turned around the next day so I've still been able to churn through four discs a week, if I'm watching one each evening. We'll see how that changes with the increased dispatches.

The My List page is super flexible in terms of priority and you're able to literally put the films in a big long list in the order in which you want to see them. I have mine set up in release order going backwards and have been putting each week's new releases at the top. The algorithm apparently just works down the list from the top until it reaches a title which is currently in stock and allocates it which seems a lot more logical than the seemingly random approach Lovefilm had.

The profile page for each film which sometimes includes a Rotten Tomatoes score. Actor / director filmography pages seem modelled after the IMDb's and includes everybody and everything. Although sometimes it seems a bit inaccurate like suggesting Julia Roberts was in Season Two of Beadle's About which the IMDb contradicts.

The pre-release titles are listed in release date order going backwards which is something Amazon's flavour of Lovefilm couldn't accomplish despite being a feature of proper Lovefilm and Screenselect before it.

Customer service has been excellent so far. I had an initial issue with dispatches and it was sorted out via Twitter DM.

There's an option to buy top up rentals of you want to seriously binge if you have time off. I wonder how many people take them up on this in the Netflix age.

There's a scheme in which if you manage to persuade someone else to sign up you get 1/6 of your subscription off while they're still in the game and actively using the service. If you manage to have six, you get your subscription for free. So if you're thinking of signing up and want to help me out, use this link to begin your sign-up process - which includes a 30 day free trial (which is something I didn't even get).

The catalogue is huge and has items and unlike Lovefilm items don't seem to have been pulled since the service began.

The negatives:

In the New Release section et al, World Cinema and everything else are listed separately. Also there's an odd demarcation between "films to watch" and "movies to watch" which doesn't seem to be very clearly defined in terms of difference. Oh and new releases of back catalogue ("classics") don't have their own section and there's no way to sort them by theatrical release date.

The search is very raw: fine if you're just looking for a single title it falls over if you're looking for a franchise title like Doctor Who which then presents a list of nine hundred odd entries after presenting everything with the words "doctor who" in the title or synopsis and doesn't put those items with it in the title first.

None that I can see other than the price. Back in the day Screenselect charged £14.99 got three discs at a time before reducing the price to £11.99 some way into the Lovefilm ownership. £19.99 seems quite steep although my guess is its because the overheads of posting the discs back have increased a lot since then.

I received two discs in the same envelope today. Lovefilm offered the option of individual dispatch so I've asked if they do too. This will only really be an issue around Christmas time if a bumper envelope is delayed in the post going either way.

August.

Life Over the past month, I've been busy with some things, primarily a life laundry in which, for various reasons, I've had a rethink of all my possessions, deciding what I truly need and what should be sent to the charity shop, recycling and refuse collectors. Over the past couple of years its become apparent that in the fifteen years since my last major clear out, the VHS apocalypse of 2003, I've accumulated again and now the internet exists with its abundant availability there's really no need to hang on to everything, that the want to have things needs to be balanced with the practicalities of psychologically having the space to move about and breath and dance.  So I drew up a set of mental rules (both meanings), ordered some new IKEA furniture and set to work.

Books

One of the problems with books is I tend to like buying them but don't spend a lot of time reading them.  Eventually it came down to streamlining to my main interests (film, Shakespeare, Doctor Who, music I suppose, bit of fiction) and "dumping" the rest.  Plus there's trying to get away from the idea of collections.  For a few years I've been trying to build a complete collection of Doctor Who books across the various series.  Most have sat on the shelf unread.  Now they're sat on the shelf waiting to be read and then they're heading to the nearest charity shop.  The Penguin Shakespeares have just gone.  I decided to just keep the Ardens - they're more comprehensive.

I've interrogated each book with a set of questions.  Have I read you?  If I have, will I ever read you again?  If I won't is there some especially sentimental reason for keeping you.  If there isn't, enjoy the trip to the charity shop.  If I haven't, will I ever?  No?  See you.  Might I?  Welcome to the book mountain, I'll get to you once I've worked through the backlog of magazines, comics and other business.  There's something quite liberating about knowing that the books I own will the those which I truly love or found most useful.  Incidentally, I've also instituted a ban on duplicates.  All but the hardback versions of the Hitchhikers books are no longer in my possession.

Magazines.

This was brutal.  Deciding to keep just Empire, Sight and Sound, Doctor Who Magazine. the Shakespeare's Globe publication and Yahoo! Internet Life (due to its rarity) I've recycled the rest apart from odd issues just because and others which I've set aside for final nostalgic read (mainly some Rolling Stones and Premieres).

Comics.

Mostly gone.  Nothing too spectacular and nothing which I've actually looked at in the past twenty-odd years.  Mainly UK reprints of US material although I've kept the four issues of Spider-Man about his visit to the UK to cameo on the Wide Awake Club because I don't think that's ever been reprinted or likely to.  Otherwise you don't want to know what else has gone.  It would make you cry.  Moving on.

DVDs

Ha.  Well.  As I explained when I briefly surfaced for air a few weeks ago, I've thrown out my ludicrously baroque approach to cataloguing my films and whatnot in chronological order by when they're set, as detailed here.  At a certain point it became a noose and yet I continued onward, amid all the person hours, diligently attempting to find the exact dating for some off-air recording of a BBC Four documentary so it would fit in the sequence, ultimately spending more time amassing and cataloguing this material than actually bloody watching it, my bedroom filled with little boxes covered in dates, which was fun in principle but a nightmare in practice.

The process of getting to fuck it was pretty simple.  At the start of the month, when faced with all of those boxes and knowing I wanted to have less of those boxes, I simply said fuck it and got to work.  The alternative was individually deaccessioning things from the database and yes, fuck that.  I separated the films from everything else and then headed off into the everything else asking similar questions as the books, echoing the methodology.  The film and television documentaries have been retained.  Most of the art stuff.  History if it references Shakespeare or are related to the plays.  Attenborough documentaries.  If they're with/by someone who appeared in the old "talks" series on this blog, they stayed.  Bin bags filled with DVD-Rs ensued.

The films were harder.  I've kept everything, but on the proviso that no dvd retains its original packaging, slipped instead into a plastic wallet.  My four thousand odd film dvds now reside in around thirty-six of the original little boxes (pictured here) on a book case sorted alphabetically (no not the individual discs, the boxes at least).  This has the new benefit of me not having to consult a fucking database if I want to find a particular title, I can just check through the box, which is liberating.  I do still have a database listing them all, but that's mainly so that when I'm out and about I don't end up buying something I don't already own.

In case you're wondering, yes that includes Doctor Who.  A decade or so of Doctor Who dvds with just the disc and the insert retained, now sorted into thirteen or so boxes, one for each incarnation, mixed with Big Finish and AudioGo releases all in plastic wallets now too.  An extraordinary amount of space has been saved just getting rid of packaging which might look amazing on the shelf but is no use to someone who lives in a flat.  Plus it deals with the issue of spines not matching, now that there aren't any.  Take that 2Entertain.  All of this is not unusual behaviour I expect.  Anyway ...

BDs.

They're still in their boxes for now, sorted in alphabetical order on the shelf.  Blu-rays always feel more fragile than DVDs, less likely to play properly even if they have a few scratches.

CDs.

Like the DVDs, mostly retained but reduced to plastic wallets.  I haven't decided how to sort them yet or if I'm going to bother.  The next job will probably to go through them and add the titles to my Amazon music library.

Life Stuff.

Biggest challenge.  I set myself a target of being able to put everything life related into four bankers boxes, one each for education, work, tourism and miscellaneous (which is mainly old scripts and amateur writing).  Books filled with college notes have gone.  Ancient payslips shredded.  Pointlessly retained receipts and flyers for shows I didn't see but picked up at venues recycled.  Was an exhibition especially good and do I have fond memories?  No.  Go.  So huge was this mass of paper, I saw programmes for exhibitions which I don't even remember happening even though I probably spent hours in there.  Did I manage to reach the target?  Just about.  Knick knacks have gone into a battered old brief case because I've always wanted to do that.

Cables.

Seriously people, sort through your cables.  I had a box full, most of which were for technology I'd thrown out or replaced years ago, included a parallel port printer cable from an old dot matrix printer.  No one needs that many HDMI or kettle leads or any other nonsense especially since most of it is available on Amazon for a couple of pounds, or Maplin for three times that amount.

Clothes.

Having already relatively recently had a necessary clear out due to losing a quarter of my body weight, this was really about storage.  After persevering with the chest of drawers which features on my Twitter profile but has never had quite the right dimensions for any of my clothes, I've replaced it with a set of KALLAX shelves from Ikea, accompanied by these DRONA boxes acting as drawers which are huge and perfect and in which everything fits.

Gone.

Gone, gone, gone.  I would say I've lost about a half of my possessions so far (if you factor in all the plastic cases) with another third of the rest going, mainly the books once I've read through them.  I feel liberated having realised that I only ever re-read or rewatch about 5% of anything and that the nature of an object as a way of retaining culture has changed.  Let's see what happens in the next fifteen years.

An Apology.

Life Back in the naughties when blogging was still a thing and phrases like "digitally artisanal" weren't being thrown around be people who're stupid enough to be still doing this as a justification for not simply dropping every thought into a fifty tweet thread on some other platform, there'd be how to guides on how to write the best web-logs. Underneath "choose a decent name" and "write in short sentences" was a warning against explaining why you might not have posted in a while. "Don't apologise for not blogging" they'd say, "just blog."

Which is the rule I've tried to stick to across the years, but I posted five times in August having been wandering around here almost daily up until then and well ... Does anybody even notice?  Does anybody care?  Most blogs that have gone by the wayside across the often do so without much warning.  A lot of the old Brit blogs I used to read end on a fairly typical post without a Dear John letter to its audience explaining why it's breaking up with them.  Things happen and people just stop.  For a while I wondered, if I ever did decide to call time on this, what would I do?  Would I simply stop too, or would I have to say something, offer some kind of explanation?

Fortunately, I don't have to decide yet.  I'm not going anywhere.  As I've said in the past, there's really no point in me not having a blog even if the post frequency oscillates between constipation or full on liquidy diarrhoea.  With a whole new Doctor Who to review with some frequency, the ongoing potential for a Sugababes album in the future when everyone's finished their maternity leave and plenty of Hamlets on the horizon (and to catch up on), something will appear here.  The reasons for having this blog haven't changed, even if this paragraph in particular sounds like I'm trying to convince myself.

Anyway, so yes, I apologise for not blogging much over the past month, I've been busy with some things.

Diana.

History The Guardian asks, Where were you when Diana died?

I was in bed.

For some reason I'd woken up very early that morning, perhaps 5pm. which was entirely unlike me until my routine became waking up at 6:45 every day. After making a cup of tea, I settled in to watch The Hudsucker Proxy which I'd video taped overnight from Channel 4. In between times, with no internet, no social media, I hadn't turned on the television and when I did, it was after popping the video directly back into the machine, bypassing whatever was on Channel 4 at the time.

Once "You know, for kids..." was over, at the end of the credits, Channel 4 announced that Diana had been in an accident.  Which she had at the time of recording, and this was the information I passed on to my parents, the information they woke up to because I woke them up to tell them.  Only after I'd left the room did I realise that this was old news and by the time we turned on the television her death had been confirmed.

"real time"

Film Sometimes the ponies run free. Here's David Bordwell, just as I'd hoped, analysing the narrative structure of Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk:
"A more conventional choice would be to confine the action to a fairly brief stretch of time, say two hours, with the rescue fleet arriving at the climax. There might even have been an effort to handle the action as occurring in “real time,” that is, with the duration of the scenes matching their duration in the story. In any event, Nolan could have crosscut his four men–Farrier in the air, Dawson and others at sea, Bolton and Tommy around the Mole–at the points when their activities are roughly simultaneous. If Nolan wanted to include earlier incidents, such as Tommy’s escape from the Germans or his efforts to board the Red Cross ship, those could have been presented as personalized flashbacks. Instead, all that material appears in chronological scenes, but on three distinct time scales."
As with any film, it'll take several years for the implications of Nolan's decisions to marinate. There are plenty of interesting indie films which have messed with the time scheme in an interesting way -- 11:14 replays the lives of several people involved in a motor incident and shows it from each of their perspectives, but this is a rare occasion when it turns up in a mainstream film (the grey area between art house and blockbuster somewhere Nolan knows all too well).

Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia has a really weird middle hour.  The opening and closing hours cross cut pretty conventionally as you might expect in a hyperlink film, but in that central hour the quiz programme suggests that were chronology watching about half an hour of "real" time but the whole section fills an hour.  Anderson shifts backwards and forwards to show parallel actions one after the other but without repeating material from the quiz programme.  It's subtle enough that you might notice notice until after multiple viewings.

Scottish Hamlet.

TV Good grief, the BBC have announced a classic theatre broadcast for BBC Two. Oh, yes, it's Andrew Scott's recent Hamlet which is very exciting especially since it's being produced by Illuminations:
"Robert Icke, Director (and Almeida Theatre Associate Director) says: “It has been a real joy to work with such a gifted and dedicated company of actors on bringing this most-famous play to audiences in 2017. The production has been on a wonderful journey from the Almeida to the West End, and I am very much looking forward to this next step on BBC Two. To be able to offer our version of Hamlet to as wide and diverse an audience as possible has always been of paramount importance to us, and now we are thrilled to be able to bring it to people across the country.”"
The press release is a bit ambiguous about whether it's a theatre recording or a reshoot for television. I've asked Illuminations via Twitter for a confirmation.

Lovefilm RIP.

Film In case you were wondering this gap between blog posts is because I'm having something of a life laundry, deciding which books I really want to keep and reorganising my dvd collection.

 Sidebar: I'm ditching the chronological approach to classification by the date in which everything is set in favour of alphabetical order so I might have have chance of finding a film without having to consult a bloody database.

 Yes, I did spend a lot of time curating that database and yes, I wish I could tell the younger version of me to watch more of the them rather than many the many minutes it took trying decide whether a particular western was set at the beginning or end of the 1880s. But I'm through the tunnel and out the other side.

This interruption to my sorting schedule, is to mark some time. This morning Amazon sent its loyal Lovefilm by Post users an email advising that the service is to close on the 31st October this year. Happy birthday to me.

As you know, other than for a brief gap last year, I've been receiving discs from some version of this company since 2002, over fifteen years, starting with ScreenSelect then to Lovefilm when they merged and finally on Amazon's website.

Honestly, I knew this would be happening soonish. Streaming has entered primacy, with physical sales of films dropping massively and even blu-rays showing signs of serious discounting.

Which isn't to say I wasn't pretty devastated. The key reason why I returned to the service was because if you're interested in something other than the newest releases or the popular canon the available catalogue on subscription streaming is a joke and I can't really afford to pay for everything separately.

But it turns out there's a further option, the cutely named Cinema Paradiso, whose website has some of the old school charm of ScreenSelect and also seems to have titles that Amazon doesn't even have in their database yet (and now we know why).

So I'll be migrating over there and see what happens.  If it's rubbish, I haven't lost anything.  But for all they say that they're not closing and investing in new titles, I suspect I'm putting off the inevitable.  We'll see.

Now, back the book mountain.  We'll speak again soon.

"I've spoken to erm ... a few ..."

TV This morning Jodie Whittaker gave her first broadcast interview since the news to 6 Music's Shaun Keaveny while publicising her new drama vehicle Trust Me in which she (ironically) plays someone pretending to be a doctor at just the moment when she herself is going to be playing the Doctor.

The entire audio of the interview is here and there a video clip here in which she offers some of the most expressively Doctorish gesticulations since Matt Smith's appearance on his reveal show. In few of her roles, which tend to towards the dower, is she able to tap into this expressively sunny side and let's hope she's allowed to a lot of this for Who.

Brilliantly she knows what's about to happen in the process of mentally preparing herself. She knows that to some extent her life's about to change, that like no other role, everyone is going to have an opinion (sorry!) globally but fortunately she says she's not on any social media so she's shielded from idiots like me.

BBC News has a video interview of her saying much the same things in a more sober voice:



God, she's going to be great.

Along Came Polly.



TV In a break from tradition, the BBC have bothered to release the San Diego Comic Con trailer for the next bit of Doctor Who without us outside the hall having to moan about it first. Oh and my, scenes, scenes.

(1) Bill's back -- so as expected we'll get to see her getting a proper send off from him. Also hugging. Proper hugging. Capaldi's a hugger finally.

(2) Moffat's using his final lap to reshoot scenes from The Tenth Planet pt 4. Including the regeneration because why not.  Expect conspiracy theories that it'll include footage from the actual episode as way of revealing that it's been found.

(3) Who's playing Polly here?



It's difficult to tell from this poorly lit screenshot but it could well be Ellie Spicer, who portrayed the actress playing Polly in An Adventure in Space and Time.  Here she is in another poor screenshot I just took from the screen while watching the blu-ray ten minutes ago:



Could be. Updated: It isn't. Lizo reports its Lily Travers

Different jumper. Judging by this shot from The Tenth Planet:



The one from Adventures is more accurate.  Though like the console room which in the clip looks like the one from Hell Bent, you could argue that instead of needing to accurately portray the production limitations of the time as was required in the docudrama, the Christmas special is portraying a more idealised reality. Updated later: James Smith, a friend of the blog, has clarified that its not the TARDIS console room so there's something more complicated going on like time changing or a new scene.

(4)  I bet Mark Gatiss is playing an ancestor of the Brigadier.

(5)  Anyway it looks like a big old celebration of the Moffat era including his anniversary successes.  It would be astonishing if there weren't more cameos despite what he says about not wanting to have a victory lap.  This is not some ordinary story which happens to have a regeneration at the end.  Like The War Games, Logopolis, Survival and The End of Time, it's the end of an epoch.

"Let's go get you a lanyard."

TV Samira Ahmed writes for The New Statesman on the talismanic nature of lanyards:
"Two 1990s television shows gave us our figureheads: Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files, flashing her FBI ID at every opportunity, and later Allison Janney’s C J Cregg in The West Wing, who embodied the idea of the female who had broken through, thoroughly qualified to run the operation. The lanyard was their symbol of arrival and as much of a challenge to the old order as their brightly coloured pantsuits were."
In the more customer service orientated employment I have, due to wearing my own clothes the lanyard becomes the uniform. Putting it on means I'm working, off I'm on my break or out of the door home.

Doctor Foster.

TV The Guardian recently published a brief but excellent piece from an academic about the implications of Doctor Who companion Bill's foster status:
"The first thing I noticed is that Bill is a working adult in her 20s, but still lives with her foster mother, Moira. Young people in care are often expected to become self-sufficient more quickly than their peers, but Bill’s situation is a nice example of the recent shift in policy that recommends young people have more gradual transitions to adulthood. Although we see Bill move out in episode four, this doesn’t work out, and by the sixth episode she is back living with Moira. I wonder how many viewers are aware that Bill’s experience isn’t the norm? How many would question the apparent ease with which Bill returned to live with her foster mother? In Scotland, less than 3% of young people eligible for support after leaving care remain with their former foster carers."
I suppose one of the disappointments of the series is that this back story element didn't resolve itself with any great unity. Although I suppose that's probably more realistic and akin to classic Who where companions would come and go and very rarely exited in a way which spoke directly about their character.

Ken's Show: Exploring the Unseen. Press launch at Tate Liverpool.

Art Next year, Tate Liverpool celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and this morning held a press launch in one of the handling rooms, with coffee and danish pastries to explain their plans. The room is less glamourous than you might expect, with its heavy duty floor and white walls, the kind of space you might expect to be used to actually display paintings at the Biennial. But the large wooden storage boxes reveal some glamour with foreign destinations written on with in black marker or printed labels.

Ken Simons began working for Tate in 1974 almost straight from school and particularly as a handler in the Liverpool branch since 1998. As a way of commemorating his long service and imminent retirement and providing a retrospective view of the exhibitions which have been at Tate Liverpool since the start, he's been given the opportunity to jointly curate a show containing the work of thirty artists (one for each year), his favourites amongst those he's been tasked with placing in the the gallery spaces across his career.

After an introduction from Francesco Manacorda, the current artistic direction of Tate Liverpool, Ken offered a brief description of some of his favourite exhibitions across the years, notably the Rothko which opened the building and which I have fond memories of from a school trip. He spoke of how exciting it was to be at the launch of a major art gallery, the staff pulling together to present the space to an audience queuing around the block for entry.

You can read in this post from 2013 what Tate Liverpool has meant to me across the years and this sounds like an inspirational way to celebrate its legacy. The press pack contains a list of the works which will be included but I've chosen not to look preferring to be surprised by some old friends.  There's bound to be a Proustian rush to the exhibition and I want to enjoy the surprise.  With so much work to choose from, I can't wait to see what will be there.

Doom Coalition 4.

Audio Now that the Capaldi era is almost done bar the shouting from manbabies about his replacement, it's time for me to catch up of the Eighth Doctor's adventures, some short stories and audios and this latest boxed set. The upturn in quality continues from last time with a really solid, often strong final selection of stories and a final installment which doesn't anticlimax and due to Big Finish's expanded license doesn't need to allude to Gallifrey's future, can simply suggest that they're all doomed.  Once again, across the set, despite what's said in the accompanying documentaries, these two companions for the most part don't feel as integral to the story in a way that Eighth's previous friends have but arguably such things are more recent innovations and we're rarely bothered by such things when watching classic stories.  Plus that's not a criticism of Nicola Walker or Hattie Morahan who're both remarkable.  The making of indicates that these two will return in a future boxed set series which means we're stuck with this format for the foreseeable future.  God, I miss the stand alone stories.  Eighth never quite seems comfortable here.  Any-hoo ...

Ship in a Bottle

A three hander about the TARDIS team facing oblivion and never giving up hope.  It's an episode long version of the scene from The Stolen Earth in which the Tenth Doctor just gives up until Donna nags him into action.  All three have very specific points of view.  Eighth is hopeless, Liv won't give up and Helen has the very human response of sheer panic.  But for all that, it's not as way out or innovative as some other similar regulars only stories like Scherzo, which seems like one of the franchises bravest few hours as time goes on.  Cantankerous Eighth never sits well with me and his treatment of his friends in the early stages feels a bit like an artificial attempt at some conflict similar to that earlier story, but it lacks the bite to make us genuinely concerned about his behavior and the consequences going forward.  Nevertheless, like Absent Friends previously, it's the stand out installment in this set.

Songs of Love

The flip side of the cliffhanger resolution from the Doom Coalition 3 set and what amounts to an extra installment of the River Song Diaries.  The banner headline is Professor Song visiting Gallifrey, something which would have been impossible on screen this way, before the Time War, still recognisably the place initiated by Robert Holmes.  Her reaction is similar to someone who's lived in a different country for years before being brought back to their parents homeland, aware of what to expect, knowledgeable about the landscape through osmosis but still being disorientated.  Alex Kingston is superb in these scenes as plot threads from River's past but the franchise's future become important and she's able to twist the context to suite her own ends.  Once again your correspondent pleads with Big Finish for a Bernice Summerfield cameo in the next River Song series or a special release possibly also starring Iris.

The Side of the Angels

Like the "other" Master in Dark Eyes, the Rufus Hound version of the Meddling Monk is entirely new to me, having skipped over his previous Big Finish appearances.  A juicier role for Rufus Hound than he was given in the television series, he very much seems to be enjoying the ripe dialogue and flamboyant characterisation.  This is notably set before the Graham Garden incarnation possibly in order to lessen the potential fallout from Eighth of having to deal with the Monk's role in the death of Tamsin and especially Lucie, although the TARDIS Datacore pages indicates that there's some far messier history than that.  Otherwise, the episode is stuffed with the epic remodeling of NYC and an ingenious utilisation of the Weeping Angels, whom Eighth is well aware of, perhaps after meeting them in his Fifth incarnation.  I don't think classic and nu elements mixing like this will ever be any less strange.

Stop The Clock

And so yet another Eighth Doctor story resolves itself around a conquest of Gallifrey.  Overall this is fine, it certainly ties up everything which has come before it and has some excellent business for McGann to get his chops into, but there's not a terrific amount here that's different to similar predicaments with a rogue President of Gallifrey taking control, the genocide of the High Council and an overall sense of doom.  The script is amusingly cagey about who the current President is supposed to be, perhaps so that if necessary in the future, it can be one of the various incarnations of Romana or someone else if necessary.  But please, please, please can the next series have nothing to do with the Time Lords or Gallifrey?  I can't imagine the upcoming Time War boxes are going to be direct continuation of this.  That would be silly.

I Know Places.

Music Hermione Hobby of The Guardian on her brush with celebrity as she held hands with Taylor Swift on leaving a restaurant interview:
"Taylor – I suppose we were now on post-selfie first-name terms – must have seen my terror. She asked in a droll and gentle way if I was “ready for a photo shoot” then took my hand firmly and out we strode. Cameras flashed, voices rose and, like the Red Sea parting, the crowd shifted to allow her into the waiting Suburban. And then I was on my own, walking towards the subway feeling dizzy."
The column also explains why Twitter's pretty much the only "forum" I visit now.

We Don't Give A Damn About Our Friends.



Music Tom at Freaky Trigger's Popular section has a brilliant excavation of the "Sugababes" Freak Like Me, from its samples to its cultural significance:
"You can get an idea of where “Freak” sits at angles to the group’s later sound by hearing the bonus version on their Overloaded singles collection – the “Maida Vale session”, performed live. Here the song is thoroughly de-X-ified, the grimy pulse of the Tubeway Army synth line turned into a rock backing track with occasional keyboard stabs. And the band rush the ending, going straight back into the chorus after “good for me”. It highlights something important about the single – how much in tension the Sugababes and the sound are. On their earlier and later records, the group and their vocal interplay are the focus. On “Freak Like Me”, there’s less room for harmonising: the song and the singers are a dam built against the backing’s electronic flood. At the end, it breaks."
The bootleg that led to Freak Like Me is above. In parts it's like the listening to the Amelle version of Red Dress, so close are the vocal choices [via].

That hand, is it male or female?



TV He's winning, it's a short match oh this is unbearable. Go Rodge. Go Rodge. Yes! Now, it's going to be now. Oh speeches. Well fine, I have time to go to the toilet. What this is still on? Right prizes given. It's going to be now. Oh no there's some walking about. Still talking, more talking, more talking. Oh god when will this end? They're filling aren't they? Fill, fill, fill. More talking oh when will this end.

Finally. Here we go. Aha, they're fucking with us. Hoodie. Is that Captain Jack's coat? Oh yes very clever, just tell us. Oh its a bloke. Look at the shoulders, broad shoulders. Yes definitely a bloke. Sigh. It's going to be Kris ... oh that walk isn't very male. Not sure about the legs though. That hand, is it male or female? I can't tell? Oh here we go, hood off, that eye, I recognise that eye, it's, it is her, it bloody is her, yes, yes, yeeeeeeeeasssss. Clap, clap, clap, clap.

Pretty much sums up my reaction. The bookies got it right again. Jodie Whittaker IS the Doctor. Fucking, fucking amazing. Scream. Scream. Scream.

Apart from breaking the gender barrier and all that, here's why Jodie's casting is extraordinary.

We have absolutely no idea what her Doctor is going to be like.

For the most part you can have some idea of a Doctor by the casting. You knew Tennant would offer us chaste Casanova, Matt Smith would be eccentric, Capaldi would be brash.

But Whittaker's an actor of such range that she could play it in all kinds of ways. Although she's often been typecast as wife, girlfriend or sister, almost all of these characters have been different souls. Her IMDb in the ten years since her first screen credit is remarkable eclectic.

Her first interview and all the usual quotes are at the BBC Press Office.  Chris Chibnall decided to cast a woman beforehand and cast the part on those terms.  There's a lovely bit about him approaching her on the Broadchurch set.

And to address the assholes already complaining that the Doctor can't be female, it's going to ruin the programme, the SJWs have won and other bullshit.

Fuck off.  I want nothing more to do with you.

This is going to be amazing.

The New Whittaker.



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

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

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

Oh and for completion sake:

Shalka:  The Doctor Who Official Website

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

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

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



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

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

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

Daredevil (Season One).

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

Jessica Jones (Season One).

13. AKA Smile

Daredevil (Season Two).

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

Luke Cage (Season One).

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

Iron Fist (Season One).

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

Literally Beaming.

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

 Here's my open mouthed gape moment for today.

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

We Need To Talk About Peter Parker.

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

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

There will be spoilers.

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

This is the best Spiderman film ever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Annotations:

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

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

Romola on Everything.

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

Petite Padme.



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

Filtered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Merrily We Roll Along.

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

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

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

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

10.2?

TV Since this is the first week without Doctor Who in three months, here's my response to the meme which has been floating around:

1. Marco Polo
2. The War Games
3. Invasion of the Dinosaurs
4. City of Death
5. Caves of Androzani
6. Terror of the Vervoids
7. Ghost Light
8. Storm Warning (audio)
WAR The Day of the Doctor
9. Dalek
10.1 Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
10.2 Planet of the Dead
11 Touched by an Angel (novel)
12 Heaven Sent

Nothing too controversial ...

"Oh, it’s a joke, ha ha."

Film Actress Zoe Kazan features in a pretty intense interview in The Guardian which covers everything from her eating disorder to her grandfather and the blacklist and her treatment on film sets. This, for example, is horrible:
“No. I mean. Hmmm.” There is a long pause. “Like, I had a producer ask me on set once if I spat or swallowed. At work. He’d say, ‘Oh, it’s a joke, ha ha.’ But he was also paying my cheque and then watching me from the monitor as I made out with another actor – so when he tells me I look good, it feels different. I was in my mid-20s at the time. I was not powerful, I did not feel I could say anything.” There is another long pause. “That has got better as I’ve got older, partially, I think, because I’m better at knowing how to shut that down. But it makes you feel guilty, and bad, as if it’s somehow your fault – that you’re somehow giving that person the signal that it’s OK to treat you that way. And none of that is stuff that Paul has to deal with.”
Paul Dano in case you were wondering. They've been together for ten years. I had no idea even after seeing Ruby Sparks.  My gossip filter is incredibly strong.

Short Snips.



Film Disney/Lucasfilm are producing a series of short animations highlighting female characters from the Star Wars franchise and in amongst Leia, Jyn and Rey they've also blessed us with this three minute piece about Asoka featuring the original voice casting from The Clone Wars.  Matt Lanter's Anakin sounds a bit gruffer than of old, which lends it am element of Peter Davison's Doctor at Big Finish, but for three minutes a series which I have huge affection for returns after it was so cruelly cancelled in mid-production.

Given that there are whole voice recording sessions for episodes of The Clone Wars which didn't break out of the pre-visual stage, why not utilise this animation technique to complete them, a style not unlike the original Tartakovsky series?  Admittedly, there'd be a lot more involved in generating another couple of hours of animation and for all I know it'd be just as intensive as producing them in the original full painterly glory.  But this will always feel like unfinished business, despite the story having been continued in Rebels.

"I'll have a P please, Kevin."

Film On the occasion of the release of the new Spider-Man film, The Shiznit collates an oral history of superhero actors complaining about going to the toilet:
"Tom Holland, star of Spider-Man: Homecoming: "I didn't go to the bathroom for like eleven hours or something because we didn't really figure out how to take the suit off quickly at that point. And that's an expensive suit. You do not want to wet yourself in that suit." Tom Holland, star of Spider-Man: Homecoming: "I didn't go to the bathroom for like eleven hours or something because we didn't really figure out how to take the suit off quickly at that point. And that's an expensive suit. You do not want to wet yourself in that suit."
Genre television and film has rarely been very good at explaining how this works. Even having binged Star Trek for ten months, I hadn't realised there was enough to say on the subject that there's a whole Memory Alpha entry on the subject. Not to mention the bathroom on the bridge of the 1701-D.  Here's the Doctor Who version.

MCU TV.

Film Assuming the world doesn't implode in the meantime and none of this matters, here's something vaguely reassuring. Kevin Feige has confirmed that the MCU will continue after Avengers 4 (or whatever it is).

I know this was to be expected what with the apparent plan through to 2026 and further films in the current individual series, but that there wouldn't be the same element of building to an event.

  But embedded in this quote about Spider-man is an interesting number:
"“We are looking at a five-movie storyline — Civil War, Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, untitled Avengers, Homecoming 2 — or whatever we end up calling it — as an amazing five-story journey for Peter Parker,” Feige says. “In the way that the events of Civil War directly inform the opening of Homecoming and his state of mind as he goes back to high school, so too will the events of the next two Avengers movies as he continues with high school. This original 22-movie arc ends with the untitled Avengers in May of 2019 and then two months later it will be Peter and Spider-Man (on July 5, 2019) that usher us into the aftermath and how things proceed from there.”"
"This original 22-movie arc ends"  For ages when defending the MCU and the amount of continuity between the various films which some people don't seem to like, that it's easier if you look at it as a very expensive, cinematic piece of television, as episodes rather than films, it makes much better sense.

Now Feige points out that the first arc of the MCU is 22 movies long, which is the typical length of a US network television series.

With that in mind we can see how much the MCU does mirror many US network television series which typically have stand alone episodes mixed with those which are designed to progress the series long story arc.

This is Buffy.  And The X-Files.  And Fringe.  Except filmed and "broadcast" over an even lengthier period than most of the life of those shows.

So Avengers 4 is in effect a season finale with Spider-Man 2 as the first episode of a next series which will have its own plot threads and new "big bad" which then won't resolve until I'm in my 50s.  Good god.

"Fare thee well to the BBC Archive's old landing page ..."

History The BBC Archive has a new landing page. The URL is a bit ungainly (bbc.co.uk/archive still resolves to the old yellow pages). But the new approach shows promise, highlighting not just the material which is permanently on the website either at the iPlayer or on the BBC's radio pages but also newly repeated archive programmes which are only available for a limited time.  Now if more of the programmes from the yellow site could be transferred over to the iPlayer, that would be good too.

Barry Norman reviews Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me.



TV Back when people watched television, always on my viewing schedule was The Film Programme with Barry Norman. For over a decade until I was old enough to go the cinema by myself, this was the only access I had to most films, the clips and Barry's brief critiques (and then latterly Kim Newman on Channel 4 Daily's Box Office slot).

Now the he's gone which is a tragedy.  Because between Norman, Newman, Kermode, Cox and Cousins, I received my formative film education, with Barry as my first mentor.  Even when I didn't quite understand everything he was saying, I could tell by the tone of his voice if a film was supposed to be important or special.

I wonder what my young mind would have made of this astonishingly conservative review of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, in which he says some snide things about the television series and David Lynch in general.  Lynch is an important example of the canonical auteurs, but Barry's entirely baffled by the whole thing.  RIP.

Romola on Herself.

People Here's future Time Person Romola Garai in the New Statesman's Q&A slot. A few of her answers are especially Doctorish:
"What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?"

"If you’re about to get angry, ask yourself if there’s any way you could laugh instead. I try. Sometimes I end up just laughing in a crazy angry way. Either that or: “Anything you buy that needs ironing is like paying someone to shackle you to a radiator.”
Since I started staking sertraline for my anxiety disorder, I find anger difficult too. I can get angry, but it feels odd, like it's happening to someone else or how I imagine an sentient machine might experience it, as though this incomprehensible emotion is emanating from somewhere and they don't like it.  Most often it registers as a bland frustration.  I could try laughing in future instead.

The Doctor Falls.



TV First of all, squee. Squee, squee, squee, squee, squee, squee, squee. Squee. Squee. Next of all, an even briefer discussion of canonicity in Doctor Who and the (ho, ho) genesis of the Cybermen. It's true. All of it.  When the Doctor says, "They always get started. They happen everywhere there's people. Mondas, Telos, Earth, Planet 14, Marinus. Like sewage and smartphones and Donald Trump - some things are just inevitable,"  In a single line of dialogue, Steven Moffat simplifies the next edition of Lance and Lars's AHistory (apart from having to explain Trump in the US presidents entry) by making every origin of the Cyberman canonical across all media including the DWM comic strip, by suggesting that every society has the potential for biomechanics which you could infer on Skaro led to a pepperpot shape but on the planets the Doctor lists and countless others a humanoid shape, with or without the capacity to clench their fist and say "Excellent."

Like Asylum of the Dalek, The Doctor Falls allows the costume department to amortise  their stock with the return of the most recent thinner models alongside the more robust Cybus Industries models of Cybermen alongside.  One could theorise from this based on the Doctor's speech that not all of the appearances of these versions were necessarily sourced from Pete's World, but developed independently somehow.  I wonder if any consideration was made to bring in versions from other eras, The Invasion model or whatever was happening in Silver Nemesis.  What makes the Mondasians so chilling is that like the Borg you can still see elements of their human in the costume just as you did throughout the classic era.  The nuWho versions have always been too much like b-movie robots.  We only know their used to be a human inside because we're constantly told.  With the classic era models we can see it.

Much like last week's episode, this episode is pretty unreviewable in the normal way.  Somehow managing to cram all three of the franchise's key tropes, an alien invasion within a base under siege rolled around a pre-destination paradox, plus body horror and a whole lot of regeneration, you could take the view that there's nothing especially new here, that we might as well have read a Michelin iSPY Book of the Documents on Steven Moffat's Hard Disk.  But repetition is a key feature of Doctor Who and as fans we only really complain when we're not entertained, when we feel like there's a point to choosing some of these old favourites other than desperation.  I can think of a host of reasons why I might have taken against the episode in another mood, but was instead enthralled, excited, shocked and boggle eyed throughout.

The underlying story is extremely simple.  House full of kids need protecting from the hoards, a miniature Helms Deep with sandbags instead of elves.  Even this has echoes in other Cybermen stories like Nightmare in Silver (rarely has an episode title reviewed its contents so well).  Samantha Spiro finally appears in Who as the head of the household and even if, in keeping with supporting characters in the rest of the series, her character is pretty barebones, her presence creates some much needed layers even to the point of making me smile when she takes a liking to Nardole.  Turns out Nardole really has only existed to give Matt Lucas something to do because the production team  like him. I'll admit to him being less objectionable here than usual and it is poignant that he's stranded in a BDO waiting for his certain doom once the Cybermen have evolved again.

This impossibly huge colony ship will remain one of Moffat's most evocative ideas, large in scope and fiendish in the jeopardy it generates.  There's a brilliant episode of Star Trek's Voyager, Shattered, in which various aspects of the ship's history exist simultaneously so version of characters from different eras can interact but everything is reset by minute 40 via some spoiler juice.  Not here.  The Doctor et al could theoretically get on the lift up to the TARDIS but due to the time dilation even if they get there the Cybermen could have evolved in such a way as to have beaten them to it and they can't take the chance.  Which means that he also can't use the TARDIS to simply pull the colony ship out of the path of the Black Hole which it presumably would have been capable of considering it pulled the Earth back into orbit in a previous final episode.

Until the final deus ex machina, or rather apud amicam conlectus, Bill's fate is gruesome, just as gruesome as Oswin Oswald's in Asylum, but with the extra horror that she experiences the magnitude of the change for much longer, the distrust and fear of others for someone who otherwise views themselves as kind and benevolent.  Pearl really sells the duel physicality of her status, stiff and artificial in battle, crumpled  and emotional otherwise and there wasn't any other choice that could be made other than to present Bill as human for much of the episode, the on-set camera allowing us access to her thought patterns.  Given that the Doctor had Kroton as his companion for quite some time, not to mention Handles, there was always a chance their travels could have continued.  But having to explain her status every time they landed might have become increasingly limiting.

So she had to go.  In her exit, like her predecessor Bill finds herself in a new state of being and being whisked across the universe (albeit on a less platonic basis) with the Doctor unaware of her fate, in this case, perhaps, assuming she's dead.  Heather's return was a good surprise fully in keeping with Who's approach of bringing back something entirely unlikely which we've probably forgotten about to save the day.  Including the potential for Bill to return to Earth should she want to is a nice touch too.  Up until the Moffat era, tv companions from a contemporaneous to broadcast time period have tended to find themselves back there (Ian, Barbara, Dodo, Polly, Ben, Jo, Sarah Jane, Tegan, Martha and Donna all ended up where they started give or take a year) so it's nice to think once she's finished jaunting about the nebulas she might decide to try and finish university.

Having brought John Simm's Master back we discover much of his villainy happened off screen years before even meeting Bill and he's not really given an awful lot to do other than die amusingly.  But he exists as a counterpoint to Missy, to keep us guessing as to whether she would indeed help the Doctor, in the end, or simply follow the path of most villainy.  And indeed, as expected, he inevitably ends up breaking the promise that's usually fundamental to the Doctor's being.  The Master is always cruel and cowardly, laughing at Bill the cruelty he's wrought on the human and cowardly in once again saying SOD U LOTT when trouble descends.  Notice that we don't actually see him regenerate into her.  As ever Moffat doesn't want to give us any absolutes, wants to leave the door open for future creators.  Plus there probably wasn't the budget to show him fighting to get back into his TARDIS.

One of the big tragedies of the episode is that because of the Master treachery, the Doctor will never know that he was right about Missy.  In the end she passes his test even if in her own way, the Simmcarnation having missed the Doctor's advice about never trusting hugs.  "Because he’s right. Because it’s time to stand with him, it’s where we’ve always been going, and it’s happening now, today. It’s time to stand with the Doctor."  It's a beautiful line, beautifully played.  But is this supposed to resolve the whole vault business? The physical evidence still exists.  We're left to wonder what the employees of St Luke's University back on Earth are making of two member of their faculty, a lecturer and a student, having gone missing at the same time and the presence of a dimensionally transcendental hole in their basement wall.  Perhaps the next showrunner will sort this out.

Chibnall was about the only reason I didn't quite buy that the Doctor would actually regenerate here, because introducing the new Doctor before Capaldi's official end date would have made the handover process especially weird with Moffat presumably writing the new incarnation's first lines or having to share a writing credit on his final episode.  A Time Lord deciding not to regenerate isn't unheard of - Simm's Master used it has his "final" revenge in The Last of the Time Lords - but it is if they want to keep walking around too.  Giving him all the elements of a regeneration scene even if they were hand me downs, from the montage to quotes from both of of his previous incarnations death sequences along with some visual homages did sell the idea that this could be it, increasing the power of his decision to fight back the energy.  "NO!"  Rest assured I was still clutching myself in anticipation.

Then Moffat commits his final coup in mirroring Matt Smith's own final series episode with a surprise early visit from one of the Doctor's previous selves in this case the original (you might say) (Oh God, that's amazing).  The original first meeting the first in a new regenerative cycle.  David Bradley, is one of countless actors to play the first Doctor (depending on your point of view) and like the other original (you might say) Richard Hurndall, Edmund Warwick (60s stand-in), John Guilor (from Planet of the Giants dvd and Day of the Doctor), Geoffrey Bayldon (alt.1st.Doctor at Big Finish) and William Russell (who covers for actual Bill at Big Finish along with Peter Purves), all Bradley can do is offer a semblance of Hartnell although he's somewhat aided by having had to play the actor himself to marvellous effect in 2013 (which is what led to his welcome return here).  Judging by his attire perhaps we're supposed to be in Antarctica in December 1986 just moments before his regenerations but he seems surprisingly well considering the events of The Tenth Planet.

Despite adoring the episode, I do wonder how much of it was comprehensible to newer viewers.  We probably had the same fear during Journey's End, but here the objections are more nuanced.  As has been noticed elsewhere, some viewers are under the impression Bradley is playing Capaldi's replacement and having been through the Morrissey wars of 2009 when otherwise perfectly intelligent people thought he was going to be the next one after Tennant (not helped by the title of the upcoming episode), I can't judge them too harshly.  Even if you know what the first Doctor looked like, unless you're aware of the metatextuality and had seen Adventures in Time and Space, you might not necessarily know who this new person was.  John Hurt was heralded by a loud non-diegetic caption.  The usual social media channels were quick to provide the necessary explanation, but I wonder, yes, I wonder.  Hmm?  Chesterfield?

Which brings is to the end of another year in the life of Doctor Who.  Looking across the Capaldi era in total, there's probably been the usual balance of brilliant, average and rubbish episodes with this series offering the most highlights.  But like the Doctor being a dick arc in season 8 and the futile Me nonsense in season 9, the Monk trilogy was ultimately compromised by poor narrative definition.  Oh and bloody Nardole never quite gelled (to put it lightly).  Yet it also contained some of its best moments.  The first on-screen LGBT+ companion, scripts which confronted society head-on and Peter Capaldi finally being allowed to be the Peter Capaldi on screen that we know in real life.  If nothing else, in this actor, the show's had one of its greatest ambassadors and for that at least we should be extremely grateful.