Osskah (Short Trips: Snapshots).

Audio Gary Owen's Snapshot is redolent of the Parliament of Birds sequence in Paul Magrs' The Scarlett Empress. The TARDIS crash lands on a planet and the Doctor falls in with the local sentient bird life. He spends a pleasant evening with their leader, Osskah Lonsgpan, swapping stories and providing some emergency care. It's told from the bird's point of view and his language, the Doctor's behaviour and words translated through Osskah's perception.  The Time Lord only ever referred to as Specific-healer.  It's a short piece, but delightful, packing at least two epic narratives, one for each character although there's one moment from the Doctor which seems surprisingly absent minded and callus, with shades of season 8's more alien Twelfth Doctor in his attitude.  Trivia question: Is this the same Gary Owen whose partner is sometime nuWho script editor and writer Helen Raynor, and co-wrote Baker Boys?
Placement:  The Greenpeace Gap.  The Doctor still feels like he's trying to reconnect with his mission and the slightly out of character moment could be explained if it happened in his previous incarnation.

Describe your most recent kiss.



642 No.

Describe your first kiss.



642 Deep breath. Fifteen years ago this was a mix of personal blog and links. If you have the relevant equipment to carry out a geophysical enquiry, you'll find all kinds of artifacts buried in the early noughties but there are some stories which you won't find interred even there either because the incidents were too fresh, or I had a sense of shame or just simply because I wanted to keep them to myself. Well, I'm 43 years old and even though my anxiety is bubbling away quite a bit tonight, I thought it was time to actually put this into words.  For most of you this probably come across as pretty unremarkable.  But it's still been one of those things which I've never really talked about and couldn't.

My first kiss happened in my early twenties.  Despite many crushes at school and through university and plenty of people I would dearly have loved to kiss, either I didn't have the courage or I valued a friendship more.  You can interpret what else that says about me.  There are a couple of occasions at university when I think it might have potentially happened but either I didn't see the signals (see previous post) or I did see the signals and freaked out.  Being an only child, being generally nerdy and going to an all boys school, my  sexual education amounted to television and films and whatever biology we were taught at school.  I couldn't really even talk to girls through most of my teens even on the off chance that I actually met one of you.  If our all boys school hadn't admitted girls into the sixth form, might not still be able to.

But I'm delaying the inevitable so here it is.  It was one night, possibly a Friday in 1996 or 7 at a friend's university student union on a night out with some of his class mates or his girlfriend's classmates, my memory is vague on this point as it is with so much of what happened.  I was drunk, which wasn't hard back then.  Having also not bought a beer until a year before, a bottle of Budweiser at a Jazz Festival (!), I didn't have a tolerance so could well have only had just a couple of pints.  Somehow, probably because we happened to be sitting next to each other, I was talking to a woman who's face I think was round?  She had short dark hair, possibly, and we were getting on well.  In my drunken memory she was laughing at my jokes and I was laughing at hers.  We were flirting.

We kissed.  I think it was mutual.  She was drunk too.  I also remember her saying something like "that was forward" and giggling.  I remember the taste, she smoked and I could taste that.  It was open mouth too.  Lasted no longer than a few seconds.  But I also remember feeling awkward afterwards, remorseful.  Soon afterwards we moved to the downstairs bar and she didn't sit with me there, she stood around the table from me talking to one of her male friends.  I think I went to the toilet shortly afterwards and by the time I'd returned half the group had gone, including her.  I never saw her again, that I know of.  If I ever knew her name, I don't now.  Twenty years on, I barely remember what she looked like.  For some reason, I think she might have been wearing a hat, like the one Kylie has on the cover of the Never Too Late single.

I'd like to say that my first kiss was with someone I loved, that was passionate and brimming with fulfilled longing, like so many first kisses I've seen in films.  But instead, I've always had this nagging sense of shame, of not being able to remember the details, doubting my own behaviour, who initiated what.  Within a couple of years I stopped drinking alcohol almost completely, not liking the version of me I became when drunk, the needless sarcasm, the tendency to let my mouth run off with itself.  It would be incorrect of me to say that this experience didn't contribute as well.  If I hadn't been drunk there might not have been this kiss, but equally if I hadn't been drunk I would be able to remember a damn thing about it.  I have vivid memories of whole evenings at that time, but this milestone is obscured by dirt, moss and mist.

Having written this do I feel better about it?  No.  It's going to take all my courage to click Blogger's publish button.  I wonder what you'll think of me which is strange because most of you are near total strangers.  Like I said above, this is probably an unremarkable story and I'm making far too much of this, but if you have an ego, you cultivate a version of yourself which you present to the world and are afraid of talking about something which contravenes that image.  I am 43 years old and I do need to put some things to rest and perhaps posting it up here will help.  Let's see how long it stays up before I hyperventilate and decide that this has all been some terrible mistake.  It's happened before ...

Think about your weirdest family member and write on short scene that depicts why he or she is such an oddball.



642

INT. BEDROOM. DAY.

STUART, a slightly boring, non-descript man in his early forties is getting read for work.

He puts his hand in the sock drawer and pulls out two SOCKS from the mess inside. 

One is bright yellow, the other bright blue.

He puts them on each foot.

Without a second thought he then glances around the floor for his shoes.

They're not there. 

STUART leaves the room and commences the hunt.

Write about a time you broke: A promise.



642 "I promise I'll try." Ever since I saw this suggestion on the horizon, or rather page, I've been trying to think of a specific occasion when I've broken a promise, but I've come up naught. This isn't some attempt at implicating myself as a virtuous person, it's just that I don't make promises because if you make promises you have to keep them and you really shouldn't make promises unless you're a hundred and five percent sure that you can keep them.  There'll probably be occasions when I've said I promise, "I promise I'll remember to put bleach down the toilet at bedtime" but even if I then subsequently do forget, I'm not sure it really matters.  Plus I tend to remember.  Also it would be weak sauce for a blog post.

Then I realised that "I promise I'll try" exists and has been deployed far too much by me over the years, entirely to my own detriment.  Despite being an extrovert in some ways, in most other respects across the years I've been socially awkward and entertained a fairly low self esteem.  Partly that was due to being an only child who spent a lot of time playing Chuckie Egg and watching Moonlighting rather than playing out, being bullied a lot at school and overweight most of my life.  Whenever anyone did pay attention to me, or seemed to be a friend, it was always with an imaginary asterisk which suggested that the friendship only existed until someone better came along.  Which they frequently did and I'd find myself being pushed to the side.

Because of that, I'd always wonder exactly what it was that I did which led people to not invite me to that night out or decide not to sit next to me in class.  For years I had a friend who had also had a wider social circle also knew through school and regular quiz nights  and the like who also knew me, and he'd go out with them, even initiate social events, but not invite me.  Then he'd tell me all about what happened the next time we saw each other (the two of us would still go for drinks) and when I subtly indicated I was free and could have gone, he'd suggest that it was "very last minute" or "I didn't think you'd be interested" as though I didn't have the ability to drop everything at the last minute (I did) or a general curiosity about everything.

When this sort of thing happens (and it happened enough with him to become a pattern) it feeds into your social anxiety which leads you into a paradoxical state of wanting to make friends but not wanting potential friends to find you out, discover whatever personality flaw you have which has led people to keep you at arms length (even if, as I've come to realise, the flaw is imaginary) and so let the cycle begin again of finding yourself uninvited to social events, ignored or made to feel less than important.  Although for various reasons, on occasion, I know I've kept people at arms length myself for various reasons but that's just part of the spiraling self-destructive strategy which leads to "I promise I'll try".

"I promise I'll try" is what happens when you're invited to social events and although there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't go and there's a possibility that you might enjoy yourself but the whole thing of it, the process seems so huge that you just can't be bothered dealing with it.  You imagine that it'll be like those other occasions when you've attended parties, only really known the host and found yourself sitting at the very end of the table looking into space half listening to in-jokes, sat trying to look interested in a person's cd collection at a house party or wandering around a crowd of people who all seem to know each other without the guts to simply join one of the conversations because you don't want to interrupt or have them think you're strange for doing so.

So you'll be asked, "Would you like to come to this thing, it would be great to see you..." and you'll answer "I promise I'll try" even though you have no intention of going.  Of course in these sentences, "you'll" actually means "I'll".  Sometimes it has been because whatever they're proposing does sound horrendous for whatever reason but most likely it's because of all the images expressed in the previous paragraph and I simply don't want to be stuck in those situations again.  The fact that many of those situations are due to my own low self esteem and that I can't imagine why these people's lives would be enriched by my existence is ignored in this social spiral.  They like me now, they have this image of me now, I don't want to be constantly thinking that I could ruin that.

Of course, what ultimately happens is that people stop asking because of course they would and should.  If someone says no to them, and it is a no even though it has four words in it rather than two letters, and says it enough times, they'll assume that it's because the person isn't interested even though that couldn't be further from the truth.  I just want to be able to say "yes" on my own terms, for the resulting night out or party to be the opposite of the shit show I have playing in my head.  But I'm too afraid of that so "I promise I'll try" escapes from my lips even as I take all the details nonetheless even though the invitee already feels the preliminary senses of a brush off, knowing full well that I'll be sat at home that night watching FRIENDS.  Again.

Write about a time you broke: The law.



642 This post contains some law breaking. The above photograph above wasn't posted with the permission of the copyright holder, I just searched for a picture of movie Dredd on Google Images and grabbed this from an Ars Technica article.  Fair use doesn't come into play because it's not there for the purposes of criticism.  Saying that I wish the helmet wasn't quite so large probably doesn't count.  Perhaps if I recommend that you all go buy the Dredd film which is remarkably cheap right now on Amazon, it might count as a promotional usage, but I'm not sure.

Which is the problem with being online now.  We're all skirting on the edges of criminality, if not falling straight in.  YouTube is awash with material not uploaded by the original copyright holder and we've all watched it at some point.  It's impossible not to without incredible diligence.  Plus, given how protective corporations are of their material, its often assumed that there's a kind of approval that some of this material is out there.  The BBC often embeds third party videos of their own archive material on their own website.  What are we to make of that?

Write about a time you broke: A heart.



642 None that I know of, not really, and not on purpose. But that's the point isn't it? My relationship radar is so appalling I wouldn't have seen the signs to begin with. There's one occasion when I've realised that there might have been something there after the fact, months after I last spoke to the person, and that's probably for the best.  That was around twenty-five years ago.  Since then?  Haven't any idea.  Imagine if someone who reads this blog actually gets back to me and says, "Well ..." Shiver.

Remain in Light (Short Trips: Snapshots).

Prose The main theme of Snapshots is how the Doctor affects the lives of the incidental people he meets, those who witness his heroism. Remain in Light offers the first person recollections of Anton, who's staying at a friend of a friend's beach house and is startled when the Doctor calls him and asks him to retrieve a body bag from the beach containing an unconscious Lucie who he's then tasked with reviving. It's a killer opening which you could well imagine as a teaser in the Moffat era which then leads into neat little story about how some people seem to exist as myths and fairy tales and anecdotes rather than a real human being. One of the silent characters on The Archers, Nile's first wife Maris on Frasier or Tino in My So-Called Life.  Despite the brevity of the pagination, Eddie Robson captures the sense of place, Malibu in the 1980s superbly, aided by musical suggestions throughout as through he's constructing the soundtrack album for a film version.  On a couple of occasions, the lyrics of tracks subtly mirror the on page action without making it thuddingly obvious.    While reading, I asked Alexa to play each track as it was suggested and was amazed to discover a few songs which sound about as plausible as John Smith and the Common Men but are entirely real (and that the talking hockey-puck could understand what I was saying).  This was the first prose adventure for Lucie Miller and she's right there on the page - you can hear Sheridan voice behind every word, especially when the contemporary references come crashing in.  Also full marks for the Sugababes reference, Mr Robson, gold star.
Placement: Before The Young Lions in the slowly developing Short Trips mini-season.

Write about a time you broke: A bone.



642 Medically, I've been pretty lucky. Apart from this anxiety disorder which is dragging on, water infections, root canal and some rubella in my teens and many, many colds, the only occasions when I've needed to visit the hospital have been for a hernia operation and after a bully punched me in the face at school for some stitches.  Despite also having had my hand trapped in the door of a private hire taxi and a skidding motorbike knocking me over (after the rider was involved in a hit and run), none of my bones have broken.

What must it be like?  Shock followed by excruciating pain, I suppose, and in the very worst cases the ability to see something which is supposed to be supporting some vital physical function on the outside of the body.  With my disposition it would probably be the worst thing which has ever happened to me, as these things usually are, even though plenty of other people seem to take it in the their stride, at least after the event, even though some of them find it very difficult to take an actual stride then.  Rest assured if I am unlucky in the future, you'll hear about it.  A lot.

Tweet the story of your life.



642

Bafflement and Devotion (Doctor Who Magazine #289).

Prose It's March 2000, just under half way through the gap between the TV Movie and Rose and what many of us think of as the Eighth Doctor era. It's a year since I began reading Doctor Who Magazine regularly and I'm still generally baffled by anything written about the spin-off media, only really listening to the McGann audios amid catching up on the television stories. So this short piece of meta-fiction from Paul Magrs in which his creation Iris Wildthyme considers her own existence in relation to the Doctor would have passed me by as "interesting even though I don't understand much of it".  Now it's a fascinating glimpse into where the franchise was in that moment, optimistically ploughing forward away from television, servicing its diminishing fanbase but recently given a shot in the arm by the launch of Big Finish.  Meanwhile, DWM's in an unimpeachable phase, mixing articles consolidating the history of the programme, a comic strip at the peak of its powers (this issue has The Grateful Dead, part 3) with experimental pieces like this.  Iris and the Doctor are travelling on her bus shaped TARDIS to destination unknown, revealing through conversation elements of Magrs's own biography and how they relate to Iris as an entity and how she exists as a parody of the Doctor himself, experiencing unseen gender twists on his own adventures.  He's in his befuddled post The Ancestor Cell amnesiac version, slightly surprised to find memories of new adventures entering his mind as though these spin-off stories hadn't always "happened", that his own personal biography is in a constant state of flux within which Iris too has been inserted.  Amongst the new memories is Magrs's own Stones of Venice which shows this was written when everyone assumed the audios (and comics!) "happened" during the Greenpeace gap until that became blatantly absurd.  As always, we're reminded of how much of an influence Iris and Bernice Summerfield must have been on River Song.  Surely there has to be room in some future boxed set for three of them to meet up?
Placement: Because of the metafictional elements, I'm inclined to put this in the miscellany, so I will.

Now tweet the plot of the original Star Wars.



642

Phoenix (Indefinable Magic).

Prose Doctor Who does Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, pondering what might happen if that sort of book was granted sentience and went about trying to rewrite reality to reflect its contents. A perfect Short Trips concept, too small to sustain a novel but visually interesting enough that you would love to see it on screen.   The plotting is fairly simple, a bystander listening to the Doctor exposit on his foe before defeating it, but James Goss provides a few twists on the formula as he reveals the nature of the The Bestiary of Legendary and Magical Creatures and it's uncanny animals.   One of the features of Goss's writing is to misdirect his audience and take full advantage of the media within which he's working and arguably, despite what I said earlier, this story simply wouldn't work on audio or anything else.  Notably, for the purposes of this project, he has one of the adversaries seemingly allude obliquely to the Time War, as it was assumed to have happened when the book was published in 2009. 
Placement: Since it's ambiguous as to whether this is actually him, I've bunged it in "Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Eighth Doctor."

Boil down Hamlet, Shakespeare's longest play, to a tweet (140 characters).



642

Organism 96 (Tales of Terror).

Prose BBC Books's seasonal anthology publications continue with Tales of Terror, stories set in and around my birthday. Having done Christmas and Halloween now, perhaps they'll branch out into other holidays, although Big Finish already covered a few of those back in the day, not that most of us can afford to buy those collector's items now.  Organism 96 is Paul Magrs writing his first full on prose Eighth Doctor story in over a decade and it has everything you might expect from his stories.  A whimsical adversary born of mythology (albeit with a scientific origin), some hard core fan references and lashings of meta-fictional subtext.  The Doctor's enjoying a cruise when the ship takes on a passenger, an old lady, who isn't who she seems to be.  It's just the sort of simple premise which works well with these short trips.  The story's largely told from the point of view of a one off companion, Marie, one of the ship's entertainers, and is the sort of character who'd be played by a famous singer who can act or vis-versa in a television version.  Magrs's version of the Eighth Doctor is perfection.  Magrs was one of the key architects of the character back in the day (through his first novel about him The Scarlet Empress) and although this isn't some great continuity deep dive, this is very much the same man who originally appeared in those old novels.  So rare to find an Eighth Doctor story not set during the Time War now.  Superb. 
Placement:  My guess is pretty early, perhaps in the Greenpeace gap but it could be anywhere.  I've contacted Paul Magrs to see what he says [update: he "liked" the tweet so I'll leave it there].

Write last year's fortune cookie. It got everything right.



642 Everything else is horrible but you'll come out unscathed. Just keep your wits about you.

Write yesterday's fortune cookie. It got everything wrong.



642 You will be clear in focus, strong in argument and unflappably calm.

642 Tiny Things To Write About: Introduction.



About 642 Tiny Things To Write About is a book created by the San Francisco Writer's Grotto and contains six hundred and forty odd prompts for those who are short on inspiration for something to write about.

After spotting the book at the shop in the old John Rylands Library on Deansgate in Manchester, I realised it was just the thing I needed.

This blog has stagnated. I know. You only need to look at how monosyllabic the subject matter's been for the past few weeks to see that. Assuming I've even posted here at all.

Partly it's time. I'm not sat at my own computer half as much as I used to be, preferring to watch films or read or walking.  Lots and lots of walking, mainly to work and back.  Oh and working.  A lot.

Health.  The anxiety ebbs and flows and I'm currently in a bit of an ebb.

But it's also inspiration.  I'm feeling a bit drowned out, with so many other voices with a clearer message or indeed point making me feel a bit irrelevant.

So to try and get my brain cells firing again, I'm going to work my way through all six hundred and forty two prompts and post the results on here.  Daily.  That should be good for at least two year's worth of content.

Let's see how this goes.

Suspenders.

TV Yes, indeed:



Bloody love everything about this, from the multi-coloured highlights across the t-shirt and coat to the boots to the piercings. It feels contemporary and old fashioned and above all alien.  Also, my fear was that the tradition "Edwardian" idea would have been carried over from her male incarnations and Jodie would have been stuck in a ball gown.  Of course the re-design of her new TARDIS is an abomination, but you can't have everything.

Dead Man's Hands (IDW Graphic Novel).

Comics A cursory glance through this volume might suggest that Eighth appears throughout. But the floppy haired gentleman is Oscar Wilde, pitched up in the town of Deadwood in the Old West, as a zombie Wild Bill Hickock is threatening the local townspeople, with Calamity Jane convinced that he's not himself.  It's the mother of all celebrity historicals, with Thomas Eddison also appearing for good measure.  As Eleventh Doctor comics stories go it's an entertaining romp, capturing his and Clara's essences superbly and writer Tony Lee navigates the Doctor's usual opposition to fire arms in a place where everyone carries them more successfully than in tv's A Town Called Mercy.  Wilde at some point ends up borrowing Eighth's clothes, so imagine my disappointment on reading the story properly to discover that the "real thing", although not actually, only appears on two panels during a matrix projection sequences deflecting the blame for the Time War:  "I wasn't the cause of the Time War!" he says, "You can't place that weight on my shoulders.  You don't understand.  You can't understand.  What I had to do ... I did everything in my power ..." Cue sideways glance to the War Doctor (who has nothing to say for himself).  Interestingly, despite the 2013 publication date, Mike Collins depicts him in his TV Movie form.  This was the final run of stories before IDW lost their license to produce the Who comics, so they decided to mark the occasion with cameos from all his previous incarnations, albeit in digital form.
Placement: "Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Eighth Doctor"

Supremacy of the Cybermen: Prologue (Titan Comics)

Comics This is a single page fragment of narrative tucked in at the back of fourth issue of Titan's Fourth Doctor limited series, Gaze of the Medusa. He's back and it's £2.39 - which considering the £7 odd pounds The Lost Magic audiobook cost for his not real appearance across about ten words still isn't the most expensive cameo I've witnessed this week. In what looks like a homage to now apocryphal Bill Potts preview Friend from the Future, Eighth and his comics companion Josie enter a random corridor and a cliffhanger which finds them confronted with Cybermen who seem to want their help. It's an interesting enough moment that you'd want to read what happens next but maddeningly, according to the TARDIS Datacore, Eighth doesn't appear in the ensuing event series, an effort which does however find room for Melanie Bush and Rassilon.  I can see that this is supposed to be just a cute bit of marketing, but if I hadn't been paying attention I might have headed off into the main series on the expectation this would be explained there but been disappointed.  Plus it's just another tease that we might get more Eighth and Josie stories in the future.  Perhaps, for the purposes of this project the most notable element is that the artist Lee Sullivan also drew some of Eighth's earliest comics adventures in Radio Times twenty-years ago, the first story of which also featured the Cybermen and there's something of his approach to drawing them in evidence here.  Placement: Before The Lost Dimension cameo.  I'll stick to the publication order.

The Lost Dimension #8 (Titan Comics).

Comics Titan's Doctor Who output is largely a mystery to me. I see them on the shelf in Forbidden Planet, dozens of stories starring recent and older Doctors and with everything else in which
 my disposable income is otherwise invested tend to leave them there. The covers seem to indicate that they're continuity heavy, with numerous multi-Doctor stories and cameos from the show's recent history which I tend to prefer in small doses.  Much like Big Finish, I've decided to keep to the Eighth Doctor contributions and dip into the rest, so here we are with his cameo at the close of a many issue event which features 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th, their respective comic companions, his biodump daughter Jenny Who and everyone else you might imagine.  Probably much like trying to dip into Game of Thrones in the middle of the third season, there are too many new characters to really get a handle on, but there's some rather lovely artwork and writing of the respective incarnations.  Eighth has little more than an extended cameo, volunteering to defend the collected companions of the various Doctors while they're off saving the universe.  It's the Time War incarnation and his comics companion Josie appears, wondering why the Ninth Doctor knows her name.  Although he provides some vital exposition at an important moment, Eighth's participation largely amounts to him standing around making presentational hand gestures and giving someone I assume to be Kate Stewart a hug.  Hopefully this won't be the final outing for this version of the TARDIS team.  Placement: After the Titan Comics series, I guess.

The Lost Magic (Twelfth Doctor Audio Original).

Audio Being an Eighth Doctor completist does take you to some strange places. The Lost Magic is the third installment of a four part arc across four audiobook cds featuring Twelfth and a couple of teenage companions from the United States co-written by George Mann and the author of this installment Cavin Scott. It's a quasi-historical set on the eve of the Spanish Armada in which the Doctor investigates why the astrologist John Dee knows High Gallifreyan and is "inventing" anachronistic technology years before it should exist.  Given everything, I think you can probably guess what kind of entity it might be.  The area around Plymouth is wracked by time winds and Eighth cameo happens when the Doctor finds himself at the epicenter of a storm which forces him to degenerate backwards through his incarnations.  Here's a transcript of Eighth's entire cameo:  "Another flash and he was young, long hair flowing freely in the wind: "Need to win back control."  Back in the day, there was a (probably) made-up rumour that one of the Christmas specials would feature just such a storyline with Tennant and McGann playing through large portions of the action.  If only.  Clearly this doesn't really count as an Eighth Doctor adventure.  He still has all the Time Lord's experiences and memories through to Twelfth, so although he looks like him and talks like him (I suppose), it's not really him.  But like I said, being an Eighth Doctor completist does take you to some strange places.  The real star of the cd is Dan Starkey, an expert and exciting reader who's rendering of some of the Doctors is extraordinary.  But much like Fraser and Pat, Dan's imitation of Peter is eerie in places, exactly the right area of whichever planet his Scottish accent is from.  If only he'd managed to sneak in a "Don’t forget to click below to subscribe to the Official Doctor Who YouTube channel."
Placement:  New category!  "Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Eighth Doctor".

Flashpoint (Big Finish Audio Short Trips).

Audio These Short Trips and the Companion Chronicles have often wrestled with how to justify their subject being the narrator. Often the companion in question is making an audio recording or relating the tale to a listener, sometimes unseen depending on the casting budget. But on the odd occasion we're simply meant to assume either of those is the case without an in story reason. A diary is being updated or it's a lecture. That's the case with Andrew Smith's Flashpoint. No reason is given for Lucie Miller to be relating this tale which makes it all the more intimate because we feels as though it's being tailored for us. Smith offers what amounts to the companion side of an adventure with Eighth's contribution purposefully a mystery, as Lucie finds herself stranded on an inhospitable planet, protecting a youngster from gangsters who mean to capture him. Quickly events take a turn for The Snows of Terror (The Keys of Marinus episode 4 in decimal currency) but the results are far more exciting and a greater level of decency.  Towards the end there's a risky piece of character business which if it had been included in the original run of stories would certainly have had ongoing consequences.  But what really lifts the material is Sheridan's performance, and it is a performance as every beat sounds like its being spontaneously related by Lucie who turns master storyteller, spinning as much tension as possible out of the tale, her whole arsenal of emotion on display.  Wow.  Placement:  With the other Short Trips in the early seasons.

The Time War 1.

Audio Much like the Clone Wars in Star Wars, the Time War arguably works best as an abstract concept. When the nuWho Doctors list some of the incidentsx, the nightmare child and whatnot, our imaginations are sparked as to what that might mean. But inevitably human curiosity with an appetite for licensed material forces somebody to decide what a Time War might actually look like and somewhat inevitably similar to the Clone Wars, it's like any other war albeit with much larger stakes, the whole of history rather than some nation states and portions of land.

Same elements too.  Battle Tardises for Tanks.  Massive weapons designed to speed up the natural evolution of a corner of space with devastating consequences instead of H-bombs or something even worse.  Morally ambiguous decisions which cause a people to become just a shade different from their enemy with civilians caught in the crossfire.  Narratively the ability to tell war stories within the Doctor Who universe which have consequences and can't simply be forgotten once the TARDIS doors are closed.  The Doctor can't leave this mess behind.  It's his people.  However much he wants to avoid becoming entangled, it's impossible.

Up until the anniversary special, most of us guessed the Eighth Doctor had a pivotal role in ending the Time War, that the destruction of Gallifrey was once again at his hand, having already previous done something similar in the BBC Books.  RTD assumed as much and noted how unfortunate it was that having destroyed his home planet once, having worked to hard to resurrect it, he would be forced to destroy it again.  Lance Parkin's AHistory even speculated that they were the same event from a different point of view and even included the same description of the explosion from The Ancestor Cell in his Tenth Doctor novel The Eyeless.

Now we know that he's more of a conscientious objector, keeping to the fringes of events as much as possible, helping out were he can, trying not to become directly involved, ultimately having to regenerate into a figure with a more flexible moral code in order to justify taking part.  That allows for acres of flexibility, so that as we've seen in the short prose, comics and one off stories, we're able to enjoy the kinds of Doctor Who stories we're generally used to, albeit with the slightly melancholy undercurrent that we're seeing and hearing the Eighth Doctor's final battles.  Although they're unlikely to ever tie-in directly with Night of the Doctor, these are still the last of his days.

Although this boxed set was originally going to stand alone, we now know it's to be one for four in the standard formation, with annual releases, which means this story won't be finished until 2019.  I'll be in my mid-forties by the time this is over.  Big Finish are now pushing hard on these Time War releases with a Master and Gallifrey boxed sets coming soon.  Hopefully they won't all be tied together directly -- there's only so much money in the world.  Given The Doom Coalition ended on a cliffhanger, we have to assume that there'll be some other story set in that era which will run concurrently, although that hasn't been confirmed.  Yet.

Placement:  In the "behind the scenes" material, the producers suggest all of this is happening near the start of the Time War but for various reasons it feels more bedded in and even though they're also clear that it won't be tying in directly with the regeneration episode, I'm bunging it before - unless something in a later story suggests otherwise.  Once this era is really brimming with adventures, hopefully a clearer structure will reveal itself.

The Starship of Theseus

The set opens incredibly strongly with this clever evocation of what the Time War means for the fabric of reality.  McGann's in effervescent mood, with a tiggerish performance we haven't heard from him in nearly a decade, bouncing brilliantly off new companion Emma whose deliberately in the Sam, Izzy or Lucie mould.  But those listening carefully will be unnerved and after numerous shocking twists we're plunged straight into the war.  There's not a single predictable element in Dorney's script, the listener wrong footed throughout.  One for the ages, as good as the Eighth Doctor audios have ever been.

Echoes of War

A welcome addition to the I, Dalek genre of story (see also Dalek, Jubilee, Into The Dalek and Asylum of the Daleks), this asks whether an individual is inherently evil or if its their memories and experiences which cause them to be that way.  Nick Briggs relishes to chance to give his favourite monster some individuality and you genuinely care about its fate by the end.  Matt Fitton's descriptions of time shifts around his protagonists recalls Justin Richards's short story Natural Regression, as well as the imagery from George Pal's film adaptation of The Time Machine (or Besson's Lucy if you'd like a contemporary reference).  Why do I feel like I've said some of these things before?

The Conscript

From Lord High President of Gallifrey to grunt.  It's startling to find this Doctor discarded into a lowly position in contrast to how he's treated in the other boxed sets but Fitton makes full use of the opportunity to show how the Time Lord copes with trying to exist within a rules based hierarchy.  Not very well.  There are plenty of laugh out loud moments as the Doctor is forced to navigate a Full Metal Jacket scenario, recalling military anti-heroes like Hawkeye or Yossarian.  As a whole the boxed set manages to feel like a unified story with four discrete parts more successfully than some installments of either Dark Eyes or Doom Coalition.

One Life

Rather like Moffat's tv work, at just the moment when we might be expecting an epic battle, instead we're given a much smaller, more intimate story.  Not for the first time, Who recycles one of its more emotional television moments in audio form but more ambitiously than might have been possible on screen.  As with his award winning Absent Friends, Dorney transplants the realistic tone of a Radio 4 drama into a science fiction scenario, on this occasion utilising a flashback structure to increase the poignancy.  A really strong conclusion to one of the best Eighth Doctor boxed sets in years and a great continuation of this new epoch for the character.

Producing Women.

Film Film historian Kirsten Thompson reveals how by not including exactly who the producers are when awards shows list the Best Picture category, they're hiding the contribution of women within the filmmaking process:
"Another, perhaps less important reason why producers draw less attention is that because a film often has several producers. It’s more complicated to assign responsibility for who did what. Most people have a general idea of what directors do. They’re on set, they make decisions, and they supervise other artists. A female producer, like a male one, may have been included for many reasons. She might have done most of the work in assembling the main cast or crew members or she might have concentrated on gaining financial support. She might instead be termed a producer as a reward for crucial support at one juncture. We can’t know, and that perhaps makes it difficult for the public to get enthusiastic about producers. Of course, if journalists covered them more in the entertainment press, the public might gain more of a sense of what producers do."
Thompson then offers some important work by listing exactly who the women are that have been nominated in the best picture category at Oscars over the years, noting when history was made even if it wasn't recorded or highlighted at the time. Not until 1982 did a female producer receive an Academy Award nomination, which was Kathleen Kennedy.

Osiris.

Shakespeare The Guardian's obituary for actress Jane Freeman, best known as Ivy the cafe owner in Last of the Summer Wine has this rather wonderful nugget. Her path into television began when she was asked to join the Osiris players, an all woman touring theatre group:
"Travelling in two Rolls-Royces with set, costumes and lights, the company toured schools, church halls and other spaces in England, Scotland and Wales, performing a repertoire that consisted mainly of Shakespeare. Paid 10 shillings a week, plus half a crown to watch other actors at work, each member of the company was involved in the stage management of the two or three performances given on most days; those with licences drove the cars towing the caravans in which the company slept. Two or more of the minor roles could be played as one, and there was doubling: Jane’s Portia in The Merchant of Venice was also Old Gobbo and as much of Lorenzo as remained in a truncated Act Five."
Back in 2004, a play was written about the theatre group which apparently helped inspire Judi Dench into acting. The Independent published a piece about the founder in 1995. The V&A retains their archive of papers.

The World Beyond The Trees (Big Finish Short Trips Audio).

Audio Sometimes an audio book is simply lifted by a performance. Nicola Walker's level of commitment and performance makes this essential in and of itself. Often, even the first person pieces can sound like exactly what they are, someone reading from a script. But now and then, as here, we're gifted a proper character piece, properly played, with a thought process and the sense of something being told by the character, in character, the only way that character could tell it, like a Doctor Who version of a Talking Heads monologue.  Liv Chenka is writing a letter to her late father, about a mini-adventure she's experienced as 1970s London falls prey to weaponised listlessness (ahem).  Unlike some writers, Jonathan Barnes is able to completely orientate the listener in the action without having Liv describe details she wouldn't otherwise mention.  Nothing is here just for pure expositional benefit, everything has emotional intent (if you see what I mean).  The lethargic London is perfectly evoked, the sense of silence, peacefulness, but with a growing sense of dread.  Placement:  The first missing adventure set during the "Dark Eyes era" it should probably take place during Eyes of the Master, but I've put it just before.  Just in case.

A Heart on Both Sides (Big Finish Audio Short Trips)

Audio Another pre-cursor to the upcoming Time War boxed set, Nyssa's involvement is revealed in a Short Trip seemingly set between Terminus and when she arrives in the Fifth Doctor audios I haven't yet had a chance to listen to properly. She's the controller of a medical ship The Trakken, scooting about the galaxy offering help where needed. Pitching up on a neutral planet within spitting distance of Gallifrey she becomes embroiled in some local trouble involving the Time Lords' territorial claim. It's another story designed to show how a usually bureaucratic people became the race featured in The End of Time and later a source of such paranoia in Night of the Doctor.  Eighth's intervention is a welcome twist on River Song's participation with his earlier incarnations and that's all I'm going to say about that.  Rob Nisbet's script and Sarah Sutton's reading capture perfectly Nyssa's mix of magnetic intellect and frequent uncertainty.  But there is some narration-based oddness - although largely written in the first person, there are a couple of scenes from the Doctor's POV containing information his companion couldn't and shouldn't be privy to and on audio, it's not initially clear when we're shift from first to third person.  The highlight:  Nisbet employs an extrapolation I've long assumed about so-called "fixed points in time", that essentially if the Doctor knows about something in history as a fact it can't be changed.  If he's unsure, it's all up for grabs.  In this story, he consciously decides not to research a historical event so that he's then able to go back and participate.  Genius.  Placement:  I'm inclined to put this later in the Time War, so just after the Titan Comics.

"We're trying to defeat the Daleks, not start a jumble sale!"



TV Just as I was finishing off another half hearted review of a Big Finish Short Trip with a view to going to bed, the BBC do their usual and drop some big news late on a Sunday night. Companions! TX details!

Companions!

The rumours were true, Bradley Walsh is a companion, but he's not the only one. Joining his character Graham (and I know at least one person who'll be pleased with that choice) are Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill as Ryan and Yasmin. It's going to be a busy old TARDIS.

Tosin's longest stretch on television so far is as someone called Neil on Hollyoaks, but he was also in Star Wars The Force Awakens as Bastian, who flew with Red Squadron in the final battle so he can be added to the list of actors who have characters listed in the TARDIS Datacore and the Wookiepedia.

Mandip's another Hollyoaks alum who may have been contemporaneous with Tosin.  Outside of that it's mainly regional theatre in bit parts in medical dramas, which I love.   We don't know anything about her which provides a counterweight to Bradley of whom we know quite a lot. She's on Twitter, god help her.

Sharon D Clarke will also appear in a "returning role".  Does that means she's playing a character from the past or a new character who'll return now and then.  Is it the Rani?  Clarke is best known from Holby, but she appeared in a couple of episodes of Paul Abbot and Kay Mellor's Children's Ward for which Russell T Davies was also a script writer. Oh and Song for Europe in 2000 with this thematically suitable song [via]:



They placed second incidentally, losing out to Nicki French.

TX details!

Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again.

Amid all the excitement, we also discover that the episode count has been cut again, from 12 and a special to 10 and a special and that it's not arriving until Autumn 2018 which means that like 2015 season, it'll be at the mercy of Strictly's scheduling again as the dance competition episodes decrease in length over time.

Cue discussions about money and time.  The press release indicates: "Doctor Who is a BBC Studios production for BBC One and a BBC America co-production. BBC Worldwide are the international distributors for Doctor Who."  So the most recent funding model is still in place.

So why do less episodes?  Is it that production costs are so high in relative terms now that in order to keep making the show to a certain standard they've had to cut the number of episodes?  Some of the recent installments have seems a bit interior heavy so it's possible they're trimming the duration in order to improve whats there.

Time: having at least two of these cast members working on the show for the old production period of ten months is a stretch so could it be Jodie and especially Bradley's schedule which has led to this?

Or is it simply that Chibbers wants to turn out ten quality episodes in writing terms rather than forcing through twelve with some ropey ones in the middle as has been the case since the show came back.

Anyway, here's the full press release with the usual quotes about how happy everyone is to be there.

Squee etc.

The Young Lions (Short Trips Rarities)

Audio Another wide release for Big Finish's old subscriber exclusive, or as they're officially called "Short Trips Rarities" and we're back in the middle of the With Lucie years although tonally this could just as easily have featured any of the Doctors, especially Pertwee or Davison. That's not a criticism; with so many of Eighth's stories now tied to ferreting out some new or old bit of continuity, it's nice to have a stand alone story however slight. Soldiers at barracks in Little Morton are far healthier than they should be, especially after having been injured and since this is a Doctor Who story, there can be only one catalyst but it's up to the Doctor and Lucie to uncover which one it is.  Writer Alice Cavendar's later The Curse of the Fugue was marked by how well she captured Lucie's voice and you can see why she received that commission here.  Even with the very male Stephen Critchlow reading in, Sheridan's performance is echoed throughout although her Eighth is also brilliantly rendered, especially in a key moment of TARDIS business.  Placement: Just before The Curse of the Fugue, I suppose.

Men, again.

Film Elizabeth Wurtzel on Weinstein. Blistering:
"Men who do this sort of thing think they are just being friendly. They are just asking the girl out who — so what? — happens to work for them.

Asking again and again and again.

Cornering her.

Pushing her against the wall.

Threatening her — of course not meaning it, because that would be totally wrong.

Over and over again. But, no, not seriously, of course.

We’re all grown-ups.

But asking again and again. And again.

Until it is unbearable and someone has to leave, usually her. No: always her.

She has to go."
Miramax, of course, distributed the Wurtzel disavowed adaptation of Prozac Nation, which I can barely bring myself to watch. Maybe some day.

Although that's not mentioned, Richard Brody has piece about how Weinstein was bad for films too especially his treatment of auteurs.

Molly Ringwald also mentions the treatment a British film which she was appearing in received, in a longer column about her treatment at the hands of various men on set:
"Thankfully, I wasn’t cajoled into a taxi, nor did I have to turn down giving or getting a massage. I was lucky. Or perhaps it was because, at that moment in time, I was the one with more power. “The English Patient,” Weinstein’s first Best Picture winner, was still a few years away. The worst I had to contend with was performing new pages that Harvey had someone else write, which were not in the script; my co-star, Robert Lindsay, and I had signed off to do a film adapted and directed by one person, and then were essentially asked to turn our backs on him and film scenes that were not what we had agreed to. We hadn’t even finished filming, and the movie was already being taken away from the director."

Scene Unseen:
Pizza Pizza - Ein Stück vom Himmel.

Film Mystic Pizza is one my favourite films from the 80s, the kind of diaspora based romantic drama which simply isn't being made or distributed by major studios now unless it has the words big, fat, Greek or wedding in the title. 

But for years I watched the dvd of the film entirely unaware of the secret hidden on the German audio track until I fumbled onto the wrong button on the remote one night and realised that the music underneath was completely different to what I was used to.

The mix of standards and folksy guitar music, has been replaced with a range of fairly anonymous soft rock and a new title track by Hot Chocolate.  Exactly why this is I haven't been able to uncover.  Either the songs couldn't be licensed in Germany or the local distributor decided to turn out their own soundtrack cd which would necessitate messing about the music in the film.

International versions of soundtrack cds aren't unknown.  Spider-Man 2 had numerous local versions and the English language dub of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon even has the theme song rerecorded to match.  Perhaps there are more German Hollywood releases from the 80s which have had this done to.  I'll keep an eye out.

In the mean time, let's look at the differences between the two.  I'll offer this in the form of a rough synopsis of the film, scene by scene, not too much detail.  Plus I'm focusing on the musical changes.  I'll only point out the alternative foley work if it's especially notable.

Opening Titles

English track: opens with what must be some of composer David McHugh score, a flute over guitar in a mediterranean setting the audience up for the cultural diaspora in which the film is set, across family and childhood shots of the three sisters (some more convincing than others).

German track: the soft rock has already begun across the Samuel Goldwyn logo. It's Julian Steinberg's Never Give Your Love Away.  Steinberg has had a few of his tracks uploaded to YouTube, but it's not a uncommon enough name to actually find any biographical details for him.



Frankly I have no idea what this is supposed to achieve. Whoever created this soundtrack has just thrown on some generic rock, and not very well since unlike the English track which ends just in time for the wedding march, this crashes right into it and the ensuing opera singer, who is singing in Italian here with his own voice.

Church ceremony

The opera singer and wedding march are identical. The echo on the German dub, voices and foley work are recreations.

Pizza Parlour

English track: Perry Como's Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes fills the restaurant



German track: What About You by Hot Chocolate which is key enough as a track that it's mentioned on the cover of the German soundtrack album. It doesn't seem to be on YouTube, but it is on Amazon Music (incorrectly listed as "various artists"

Street

English track: While Jojo and Bill hash out their differences on the there's nothing until McHugh's guitar plays in again.

German track: Hot Chocolate can still be heard underneath right up until the end of the scene. Oh and there's a ludicrous amount of traffic which really doesn't match the kind of street they're on.

Pizza Parlour

English track: Saxophone musak

German track: Disco musak which sounds a bit like Human League. Perhaps one of the ungooglable tracks from the album?

Street to docks to babysitting job

English track: Kat's moped pulls away to some orchestral spot music

German track: Haven't a clue. Begins acapella, man singing in a Jamaican accent, something about "smells so good" and "international neighbourhood" Gives way in time for the dialogue. The song begins again while Kat rides off to her babysitting job. Although oddly the folk music and score from the English track appears briefly before being submerged in whatever this song is. The song disappears abruptly when Kat reaches the door. It's a mess.

Bar #1

English track: The English subtitle has a fit of the production notes and tells us its Steve Tyrell's Serious on the jukebox.

German track: Sideway Look's Taming The Blade. Replacing some rock music with even less appropriate rock music which apart from anything else works against the scene which looks to have been edited against the Tyrell track.



Eclectically, Sideway Look is a British indie rock band from Edinburgh, but they seem to have had their greatest following in Germany.  They don't seem to have an English Wikipedia entry but the German counterpart is fulsome.

Bar #2

English track: The subtitles helpfully tell us the next track is Is It Hot in Here by Rene Geyer with its big sax moves.

German track: Melanie's Racing Heart which is another inferior replacement. No one in the Mystic's bar would put this on the jukebox.  Ruby Tuesday or Beautiful People, perhaps but not this.



Plus the scene is edited and punctuates Geyer's lyrics as Daisy draws Charlie into her pool playing.

Restoration house

English track: Spot music, synthesiser piano over Kat falling for her employer.

German track: The same. The original soundtrack emerges for the first time. I'm shook.

Dockside walk

English track: Piano theme

German track: The same. Again. So whoever prepared this did have access to the original audio (I was wondering) but has chosen not to use it.

Daisey's date

English track: Big sax across synthesiser rhythms.

German track: What About You by Hot Chocolate reprises (they're really getting their money's worth) and it's not entirely incongruous, rhythmically the two are quite similar, although because it's been dropped in it clashes into McHugh's score once they're in the restaurant.

Babysitting

No change between the two tracks. Same classical music.

There's then a long stretch without music until Kat's back in work.

Restaurant

English track: Louis Prima's Ain't Got Nobody which is peerless.



German track: Lian Ross's Feel So Good which is just sad and again doesn't fit the scene at all. Sub-S/A/W noodling.



Lian Ross looks to have had a long career across Europe.  Feels so Good was released as a single in 1989.

Daisy's date

English track: Jazz piano.

German track: Something which sounds like Hans Zimmer circa Green Card or some kind of erotic thriller. Which then has to fade out abruptly in time for the bed scene.

Kat and the telescope

English track: String quartet

German track: Spanish guitar which sounds plausibly like it could be on the English track apart from being an utter cliche in relation to this scene.

No music for the ensuing JoJo and Bill falling out scenes then...

Bar

English track: Something rock which doesn't seem to be listed on the soundtrack.

German track: Your Love Is A Punch by Jacqui (which is about the only audible lyric since most of the song happens inside the bar.

Car Scene

English track: Aretha Franklin's Respect. Of course. Notice Annabeth Gish in the scene - entirely in character she's keeping her eye on the road more than singing along.



German track: Aretha Franklin's Respect. Boxed into a corner, the German producers have to include a song from the English track. Not only that they use the voices of the original actors, though full marks for continuing Franklin underneath the ensuing German dub without missing a beat.

JoJo and Bill again

English track: A reprise of the lovely flute themes from earlier in the film.

German track: A reprise of Julian Steinberg's Never Give Your Love Away from the beginning of the film which fades out when JoJo reaches the jetty.

Pizza Parlour

The German audience finally hears a snatch of the guitar piece from the opening credits on the English track, which plays on both.

Kat and her employer

English track: No music.

German track: The cliche Spanish guitar music from the telescope scene.

Pizza Parlour

English track: Accordion musak.

German track: Something sub-Madonna which doesn't seem to be on this list. Plays while Daisy's outside the parlour with Charlie.

Kat and her employer

The same Mozart string quartet across both.

Pizza Parlour

English track: While Kat and Daisy are in a fight, something like Cole Porter in the background.

German track: Jill Colucci's These Are The Times To Remember which will eventually play over the credits. Given the temperature between the sisters, these are definitely not the times to remember. At all.



JoJo babysitting.

German track has Lili Taylor singing. It's beautiful.

Kat's date with her employer.

English track: Nothing until it gives way to some romantic score music in a minor key.

German track: The usual Spanish guitarist who seems to follow them around and considering how this storyline plays out feels really inappropriate.

Then the score music is the same across tracks.

Pizza Parlour.

English track:  Frank Sinatra's I Got You Under My Skin.



German track:  Frank Sinatra's I Got You Under My Skin.  Because you can't replace Frank.

Daisy's dinner with Charlie's family.

Same dinner party musak across both.  Oh look, it's teenaged Matt Damon in his first screen role.



Pizza Parlour.

Some of the big sax from earlier across both tracks.  Until the sodding Spanish guitar appears for a final time on the German track replacing the film's piano theme on the English track.  Which then cuts out with a bit of uncertainty when the review of the restaurant emerges on the television.

Wedding Scene.

The wedding music is identical across both.

Final scene & Credits.

English track:  Soundtrack music giving way to Jill Colucci's These Are The Times To Remember.

German track:  What About You by Hot Chocolate crashes in just as JoJo puts her champagne bottle down completely ruining the mood.  The credits then include a listing of all the songs on the English track few of which the German audience have actually heard if they've been listening to the dubbed version.

Conclusion.

I'm not sure what you can draw from this other than that the filmmakers original intent should always have paramount.  Although it's fair to say that even while watching the German dub with subtitles and the wrong music, I found myself becoming involved in the story.  I'll let you know if I see any others.

The Horn.

Nature This Guardian piece about the appeal of unicorns somehow manages to reach the end without mentioning Blade Runner in how the beast has become central to modern mythologies. That what could be an artificial lifeform, the arguable pinnacle of human scientific and technological achievement could dream of something that exists purely in fantasy and magic is an extremely potent concept:
"“The unicorn has been popular at various points for at least 3,000 years,” says Dr Miles Leeson, director of the Iris Murdoch Research Centre and a lecturer in English literature. “They were considered as real in the ancient world by the Greeks – they appear in books of natural history, not books about the gods. The Old Testament contains possible mentions of unicorns, and from there they have been incorporated into Western art and culture, surfacing at various times, including the Medieval period and the Renaissance. The unicorn also has a role to play in Chinese mythology.”"
I've always thought the unicorn's appeal is that it feels like it could have existed. As the piece reminds us, the narwhal, a creature with just such a horn does exist, albeit in dwindling numbers, so it's not unimaginable that at some point there was a breed of horse with a similar piece of headgear but later became exist. At least it makes better sense than a pegasus. A horse with wings is just silly.

Perfectly Rice.



Food Here's Tasty explaining how to cook perfect rice. In the past year we've stopped using frozen or vacuum packed in favour of dried rice in a steamer and it's been extraordinarily, at least when I haven't over or undercooked it. I'll be trying these instructions next time.

"Beat you, cock!"

TV Having been in bed with manflu for a couple of days, I haven't had a chance to comment on the news that Shada has indeed been animated and will be released on shiny-disc at the beginning of next month.

Here's the press release.

Reaction on social media has been pretty mixed, mostly because for a story which wasn't completed first time around, between the various releases since, including Douglas including a version in the Dirk Gentley novels, it doesn't feel like we're completely missing a new version. That the resources could have been more handily spent animating a few more of the missing episodes.

Which I do have sympathy with, I do.  Like everyone else I have fond memories of the Baker narrated VHS release, put out in dvd not that long ago even if it becomes entirely futile as the stories goes on and the story simply runs out of shot material and its most Tom explaining what happened.  Plus the McGann audio version is superb as is the novel by Gareth Roberts (for the most part).

But for all that, I'm really excited about this project because it's a chance to sit and watch the story in full, with the scripted elements in place read mostly by the original cast and on blu-ray with the original film sequences, all of those lovely shots of Cambridge, in high definition.  Plus they're editing from scratch not simply inserting the new material into the old VHS version.

This will also be the fifth version featuring Lalla Ward.

(1)  The unfinished TV version
(2)  Big Finish
(3)  Audiobook version
(4)  Whatever it was Ian Levine was trying to do
(5)  The new thing

I can't wait to hear what she's done with it this time.

Plus now that Tom Baker's been working on the audios for a while across various companies, he's really found the Fourth Doctor's voice again, so his contribution will have an authenticity it might not a few years ago.  He's so obviously enjoying playing the part again - although it'll be interesting to see how much he's stuck to the script or made his usual suggestions.

Motion Flow is the new Panned and Scanned.

Film Director James Gunn and allies are banding together to start a campaign to ask tv manufactures not to put motion flow on by default. From Gizmodo:
"If you’re not entirely sure what these folks are going on about, motion smoothing is a feature on most modern TVs that intended to correct hi-def screens’ tendency to make objects in motion appear to be blurry. In order to do this, the TV processes one frame, then the next, and makes a guess on what a new frame that goes between them should look like. This can be very helpful if you’re watching a football game, for example, and you’re attempting to keep track of the ball in a wide landscape shot. It gives everything a crisp edge. The feature can also be good for upping video game frame rates, but it’ll get you killed because it introduces extra lag."
After reading this article years ago on how TV ruins movies. I turned the setting on my screen to cinema mode and then turned everything else off. Motion Flow, auto blackness setting, natural colour, noise correction everything. After all that, the picture now tends to look fantastic. 

Films will never look the same as they did in theatres on television, but have to do all we can to help them along.  Although even in theatres, they're not always projected in the way the filmmakers, too dimly perhaps due to the cinema not switching out the 3D projector lense during 2D showings.

All Hands On Deck (Big Finish Audio Short Trips)

Audio One of two Short Trips dealing with how the Eighth Doctor interacted with some of his old companions during the Time War, this examines how it affected his granddaughter.  Set just after To The Death, we discover how Susan rebuilt her life in the wake of all that tragedy and like so many of the former time travellers she's become involved and a valuable asset to the local populace, defending the Earth were needed.  Which is lucky because numerous befuddlements, pitched in the region of the kinds of things which might have menaced the Attic team in The Sarah Jane Adventures are causing a certain amount of worry, some mayhem.  But I think I'll stop the synopsis here because with its slender listening time, its best heard with the surprises intact, especially the unforgettable barnstormer of a conclusion.  Needless to say it's another Eddie Robson story which balances the epic with the personal and Eighth's participation is perfectly judged and entirely in character if you know the history of the character.  Thanks to the post-2005 subliminal references to Susan's fate, a melancholy hangs over this story which Robson takes full advantage of.  Told in the first person, Carole Ann Ford  captures this mature Susan thoughtfully as she poignantly reflects back on her youth and where her loyalties lie and how that informs her choices going forward.  Placement: Pretty early in the Time War for reasons.

Drunk in Charge of an Autonomous Vehicle.

Technology Ars Technica asks, "Should drunk drivers be charged with DUI in fully autonomous cars?"
"Though it may seem obvious that a drunk person should be allowed to be taxied home by a fully autonomous car, the question is less clear if you have to determine just how autonomous an autonomous vehicle needs to be for a drunk person to operate it. The government should want drunk people to engage a high-level autonomous driving system if the alternative is driving themselves home, but if they’ll be penalized for being drunk while they’re “in control” of an autonomous vehicle, uptake of self-driving systems may be slow."
The answer within the article suggests that a felony is only committed when a drunk person manually takes the wheel of the automated car and therefore driving it.  But as someone who doesn't trust technology to break down, because technology always breaks down, I think that it's imperative that law doesn't change on drink driving whether someone is in an autocar or not.

I'd argue that someone who's been drinking still shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the vehicle in case it malfunctions in a dangerous situation and they're forced to take control.  I'd be afraid to let someone without a driving license, like me, to have an automated car or be able to travel in an automated car for this reason.  The idea of driverless taxis also scare the bejesus out of me.

The Clone Wars Continue.

Film Forces of Destiny, the Star Wars series of animated webisodes returns with a couple more stories set during The Clones Wars featuring the original cast. Neither of them really break canon but they're fun nonetheless:





With Rebels ending next year, can Disney please go back and complete The Clone Wars?

Lear Here.

TV The BBC has announced a King Lear for broadcast in 2018 starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson directed by Richard Eyre. Here are some of the other casting highlights:
"Emmy Award nominated Jim Carter (Downton Abbey, Cranford) takes the role of the Earl of Kent, Emmy Award winner Christopher Eccleston (The Leftovers, Thor: The Dark World) as Oswald, and Golden Globe nominee Tobias Menzies (Outlander, The Terror), plays the Duke of Cornwall. Anthony Calf (New Tricks, Riviera) plays the Duke of Albany and Karl Johnson (Wittgenstein, Rome) is set to play Lear’s loyal jester the Fool."
Interesting the BBC's own press release fails to notice this features a Doctor Who but hey ho. So that's Lear and Hamlet next year. Not to sound churlish (perish the thought) because both projects sound extraordinary and a few years ago under you know who the idea of having any classical drama on television was zero, but the variety of productions has dwindled again hasn't it?  Are the Roman plays ala The Hollow Crown still on the books?  No chance of an As You Like It soon?

Love Actually is £39.50, £49.50 or £65.

Film Angie Sammons on the new look Liverpool Confidential website notices that Love Actually will be playing at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool this Christmas (11th December) with a live orchestra, so you can hear the theme from Shakespeare in Love again in the same room which would be an attractive prospect if it was actually Shakespeare in Love. Lord is it expensive:
"With the best tickets in the house going for £65 a pop, you might want to consider taking your own flask of mulled wine and secreting a mince pie or two in your underparts to offset the cost. Or just wheel a trolley around the Aintree Asda any time after October 31 to hear Mariah Carey warble All I Want For Christmas, while reminding yourself never to attempt it's difficult vocal in any public place, especially on gin."
For £65 you could go and see six decent films at FACT. Or buy the whole of FRIENDS on blu-ray. Or a return ticket to practically anywhere in the country and visit the Christmas market.  Ironically, I'll be spending eight hours in London doing exactly that on the same day as the concert.  Shame.

Yes, you'll have also noticed that I'm mentioned in that article because of my enmity for this piteous two hours.  As ever. it's a bit weird seeing my surname used that newsy way which reminds me of school, where everyone was known by their family name.  But it's nice of Sammons to spread the word, try to save as many people as possible.

Ghost Train Station.

Travel For years the railway station at Canfranc on the French-Spanish border was considered a white elephant, a folly, despite its grand architecture and aims. The BBC offers a history of the curiosity and a change in its fortunes:
"It was one of the world's most opulent railway stations, sitting imposingly on the French-Spanish border - but then it fell into disrepair. Now, writes Chris Bockman, the building is showing new signs of life.

When they built the station at Canfranc, it was on a grand scale and with no expense spared. It had to be bold and modern - an architect's dream come true, built in iron and glass, complete with a hospital, restaurant and living quarters for customs officers from both France and Spain.

At the time it was nicknamed the "Titanic of the Mountains"."
I've often wondered what Exchange Station in Liverpool must have been like in its heyday. With Lime Street closing for nearly a month for refurbishment, it's a reminder that it's not always a good idea to have one mainline station in a city and what was lost when Exchange closed. Manchester has two.

Extra Time.

TV Danielle Sepulveres was Juliana Margolis's stand in on The Good Wife for five seasons. She writes for The Atlantic about how a temporary job became full time employment:
"I didn’t expect to do more than that (the hours on that movie set were long and involved a lot of sitting and waiting around), but when another “real” job offer fell through at the last minute, I signed up—in a fit of frustration—for an account on an industry casting site. It was temporary, I told myself. It would be the equivalent of an aspiring actress holding down a waitressing job, except in reverse. Rather then waiting tables in between scrambling off to auditions, I’d be wandering around in the background of 30 Rock episodes. Or playing a haughty party guest mingling at a Gossip Girl socialite shindig. Or dressed up as a Prohibition-era lady of the night and sitting on a gangster’s lap on Boardwalk Empire. (These are all things I ended up doing.)"
I had no idea that getting a SAG card was this involved.

Liverpool Vagabond.

Art Liverpool Biennial have announced the list of artist's for next years festival and in amongst the names is French New Wave director Agnes Varda, which is frankly amazing. They've also revealed the theme, which sounds much stricter than of late which will hopefully mean the festival has the greater focus of earlier years:
"The artistic concept and title for Beautiful world, where are you? derives from a 1788 poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, later 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 suggest a world gripped by deep uncertainty; a world of social, political and environmental turmoil. It can be seen as a lament but also as an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that might be shared in a more equitable way."
What I'd really like to see is less smushing around of the artworks, with all of an artist's work in one place either in their own space or a larger venue. The recent tendency to mix them together across venues has a diluting effect, especially if it isn't that strong to begin with. 

Notably, the list of venues doesn't include the usual derelict space due for demolition or refurbishment.  Although the Cunard Building was used successfully in the past, so maybe Blackburne House is going to fulfill the function of containing the "main" exhibition.