Friday, May 28, 2010

Doctor Who - Oh Those CHUDs...


One day it's fine and then it's black
So if you want me off your back
If I go, there will be trouble...
And if I stay, it will be double!

If you say that you are mine
I'll be here till the End of Time
So you gotta let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

The Straight Agenda... it was a joke at first, but I begin to wonder. I mean, not only do we have the stripperific Amy Pond in every episode, there's also a distinct slant to making sure there's a fanciable female in every episode (Prisoner Zero, Liz 10, River Song, Calvari - but not one in Victory of the Daleks. Maybe that's why it fits so badly in this series?) But now that's THREE alien monster armies we've met that just so happen to involve lots of fit teenage girls playing Weeping Angels, vampires and now Silurians! (Don't worry, those reptillian busts are actually venom sacks, which is why female Silurians are the kickass soldiers and the puny males are the gormless strategists.) Is Moffat really as randy a little Scot as we joke, or is it just the contrast after the last few decades of DW being, essentially, controlled by the Gays? RTD, JNT, Gary Russell... has this mindset become so fused with the core of Doctor Who we only notice it by its absence? Certainly, Mad Larry's "Gayest Ever Things In Doctor Who" were thoroughly baffling to me. Apparently Ice Warriors, UNIT and the Master are all screaming benders - but does Terra Alpha, Duke Guiliano and Tegan and Nyssa get a mention?

Oh well, just me waffling.

Chris Chibnall returns to the fold with eagerness one can't help but compare to his "Torchwood? Never heard of it!" attitude of the last year. His brief is to create a quintissential Pertwee story, but the irony is that RTD's been doing that rather a lot of late what with Masters, UNIT, earthbound supporting casts, social commentary and celebrity cameos. Thus Chris is left with a bunch of stereotypical situations Pertwee encountered, robbed of context and falling into the sort of trap many a fan audio has fallen into (yeah, Season 27, I'm yelling at YOU!).

So we have the Doctor, his miniskirted companion and a rather useless but well-intentioned young bruiser arrive in the near-future in a rural Welsh village (The Green Death), which has been cut off from the outside world by an invisible force-wall (The Daemons). What's more, supernatural events are taking place involving the dead that have a mundane-albeit-left-field explanation involving history changing (Day of the Daleks). This is because of the Silurians (just guess) reacting badly to a mining rig drilling into the core of the Earth (Inferno). Desperate and traumatized humans take aliens hostage and visa versa (The Ambassadors of DEATH), and a bunch of likable family folk are hunted in their homes by monsters under the cover of dark (Colony in Space). The idea of peace is raised, mainly so humanity can get its dirty little digits on some alien tech (Claws of Axos) but the Doctor's peace negotiations are stuffed by some stupid humans (The Sea Devils), and finally half of it never happens due to nasty forces from outside time (The Time Monster), but the Doctor's male companion is thoroughly screwed over anyway (Invasion of the Dinosaurs). Plus the whole thing is basically the fault of the Doctor making some rather stupid mistakes (Planet of the Spiders).

Thus, the story is not exactly going to be much more than the sum of its parts. It's not even the epic global warming story everyone prophecized. The Silurians and humans get into conflict again, the Doctor tries to do a deal, is thwarted at the last minute. No doubt new audiences will enjoy it more, rather than us fans who have seen it done elsewhere in books and audios and comic strips, most of which end with Silurians awake and slowly but surely mingling with human civilization. Guess cracks in time must have dealt with the efforts of Sarah, the Brigadier and Liz Shaw then, eh? From the Doctor's unhelpful comments, he's only ever met the reptile people once before. That doesn't even include the Sea Devils!

And the thing is, I've come to the conclusion I don't actually like the Silurians. Not to say they're badly done or anything like that, I just think they - as a race - are overrated arseholes who don't deserve their unique place as "monsters the Doctor feels sorry for". We're told time and time again how honorable and civilized the green bastards are, but I don't recall any evidence to support it in either this story or any other. Check out their first story, where the lizard people strut around shouting "OBEY ME OR I SHALL DESTROY YOU!" at each other, or gloating "I AM THE LEADER NOW!" Not exactly deep or moral, are they? It's not as if that first story was lacking in human characterization: Dr. Lawrence's bitchy "If he spent more time here doing his work than hiding in that cottage writing his book" gives us a whole bitter working relationship in a sentence. We can relate to that. Are we really supposed to emphathize with Morka screaming "I HAVE DESTROYED THEM AND NOW I SHALL DESTROY YOU!" at everyone who looks at him funny.

Even in Warriors of the Deep, Icthar is a total bastard. True, he's better characterized than most of the humans as a paranoid hypocritical scumbag and the only person in the story to try and kill an unarmed opponent of their own free will. Compare this to the Sea Devils in their stories, who show mercy and respect to everyone they face, open negotiations and are willing to accept the fact man has inherited the Earth (it's only when he attacks them do they fight back, give or take some manipulation from the Master).

I think it's summed up best in the comic strip Twilight of the Gods, which shows the story of one Silurian zoo-keeper at the time the lizard folk decide the world is ending. This Silurian is something of an open-minded fellah, but is still a total wanker. He believes the apes are intelligent and have potential so he... tortures them and makes their lives a misery, but arguably not much more than any Victorian workhouse. With the apocalypse nigh, the Silurian gives all the apes their freedom and is amazed when they suddenly repay his kindness by doing all the tricks he's been trying to teach them. The moment his guard is down, the apes Rodney-King gangbash him to death in a typical darkly ironic ending of these strips.

But the Fourth Doctor, who is narrating events, points out with a slight measure of pride that the apes were much more intelligent than they were assumed to be - they knew they weren't being given their freedom as being left to die, and made damn sure they got some payback. This was the first step of mankind's kicking-and-screaming quest to claim the world the Silurians abandoned. We fucking earned the Earth, unlike those no-fist cry-baby pseudosionosaurs!

Thus, it's hard not to get a bit pissed off at these arrogant lizard bastards who dare call us vermin when we've made more of the Earth than THEY ever have, and lived in the place for billennia more than they have. They're bitter exes, shouting "How DARE you get a new boyfriend after me!!" Yes, a race of Ben Chathams. And so, it's hard to feel very sorry for them, especially Alaya the resident Silurian babe we meet for most of the story. She's a death worshipping psychotic fascist with a martyr complex that despises ideas like cooperation or peace - "civilized", don't you know? She spends the whole story determined to die, simply because she knows her death would ruin any negotiations and plunge Earth into an inter species war, even though she damn well knows the Silurians would lose.

Of course, the humans play right into this trap and kill her. But unlike Walker the George W Bush of Evil, or even Mrs. Dawson the bitter widow, this time it's hard to go "oh, what a Greek tragedy!" when things go wrong. A highly-strung housewife has had her son and husband kidnapped presumed dead and her father slowly dying of poison, and the person responsible is swearing to murder them all in a display of orgiastic violence. Are we really supposed to feel angry or ashamed when she snaps and tasers the scaly bitch? Especially when the so-called superior Earth reptile dies from a jolt that wouldn't render a HUMAN unconscious. True, the Doctor's righteous passion at this massive fuck-up is impressive and justified (he has no actual knowledge of what happened, only the wife ruined everything), but does anyone suddenly go "Awww" looking at the unrepentant suicidal killing machine finally dying? And when, of course, her badass big sister finds the body and lets out a mewing noise of absolute despair; very moving love, but you were about to ethnically cleanse the globe BEFORE It Got Personal. There's no moral event horizon here, she was a psychotic bitch before and I for one cheered at her painful death.

For the first time we actually get some nice Silurians, but they are barely a cameo and (oddly enough) both male. One of which being Stephen "Brain the Size of a Planet" Moore, who manages to single-handedly back up any of the Doctor's claims that Homo Reptillia are a race worthy of not blowing the crap out of at the first opportunity. Thankfully he survives the story, but the Silurians are forced to hibernate for a thousand years during which the human characters have to get a proper reception ready (maybe chatting with all the Eocene colonies UNIT are on first name terms with could help?) But yeah, this all smacks of sequel fodder, with unexplained plot threads about Silurian venom causing mutation, the blue grass, and the fact there's a kind of "Silurian UNIT Family" established. Countless other reviewers have thus automatically trashed this story for being too Star Trek, what with rubber-faced aliens arguing with humans around a table about topics like health and immigration for up to FORTY SECONDS AT A TIME. Yes, it would be bog-of-mill-standard stuff for Bitch Janeway and her band of assholes to deal with on Voyager, but it's not exactly usual for Doctor Who, is it? The closest ever got would be some grumbles between Draconians and humans in Frontier in Space or maybe The Sensorites. For the first time ever, negotiations consist of more than the Doctor giving a feeble "let's all be friends" to aliens who aren't interested, as he did to Daleks, Cybermen AND Homo Reptilia in the classic series. Apparently doing something vaguely similar to Star Trek is a crime, but raping and pillaging the Pertwee era is just good business. Christ, I hate fandom.

Meera Syal's in it too, meaning 3/4s of the cast of Goodness Gracious Me have now been in Doctor Who! Meera's very good as the Doctor's substitute companion Nasreem, a freshingly down-to-earth lady free of any real gimmicks, coming across like a kind of Barbara Wright character. She certainly puts Amy in perspective, and by contrast makes her seem almost unlikeable. I say almost because this story does make clear that her "cool" act, with her couldn't-care-less Buffy witticisms are just an act. She's that sort of person who just can't bring herself to do anything but call Rory "clingy" when he assumes she's dead after being sucked into the Earth, even though she is clearly deeply moved. Assume everything she says is a sarcastic cover for her true feelings and she's a lot easier to like, with Ms. Gillan once more proving she's more than just a beautiful body in a borderline illegally-short skirt - as evidenced when Rory dies.

Yes. He dies.


Making a habit of it, really, even down to the 'stupidly-blunder-in-front-of-alien-death-ray-and-spend-last-few-seconds-gibbering-incoherently', though this story does at least give a rationale for his suicidal bravery. Like Arthur Dent, he assumed he'd be safe because he had a destiny.

Trouble is, there's a bloody crack in the wall that is reset-buttoning the universe into submission, and Rory's destiny is not a glorious decade-long love affair with Amy, but to get mown down by a reimagineered Sea Devil blaster. And then deleted from history like he's been caught with his trousers down by the Inquisitor. Still, there's a decent gap between the last story and this for all the novels and comic strips to fit and give Rory's time aboard the TARDIS as much meaning as Captain Jack's ride with the Tenth Doctor and Rose. Odd how they forgot all about him as well... ah, probably coincidence.

And the story ends on a bleakly cheerful note, as Amy cheerfully heads off for another adventure, completely unaware she ever had a fiance that died horribly. Only the Doctor remembers pointy-nosed Rory, and that's not even the worst of it! He's found out what explodes on Amy's once-was wedding day and shatters the universe.

A certain 1960s metropoliton police box.

Oh, as they say, shit.

But there are two lighthearted comedy eps before the Epic Bigness Finale, so don't let it get anyone down. In retrospect, I can't say that these two episodes are bad. Special effects great, acting pitch perfect, costumes and sets, the plot at worst adequate (it would be nice if that stuff about the graves was a bit clearer, or why Marvin the Paranoid Silurian was narrating the story with stuff he shouldn't know), and even the lack of socio-political subtext doesn't bother me. It's just the whole thing's grim and depressing - like every Silurian story SHOULD be, it seems - and worse doesn't end when the credits kick off. It feels like it's the first story of a season rather than one at the end, giving a real case of arc fatigue, especially the fact the next two stories might as well have been shown at the start of the year. Admitting the reset button's been pressed doesn't make it any more enjoyable, Moff!

Yes, it's not a bad story. But I didn't like it.

Next Time: Vincent and the Doctor
"If we're not careful, the net result of our little trip will be the brutal murder of the greatest artist who ever lived!"
Yup, time for the comedy historical to make everyone forget about all the deep crap that brought back the classic series monsters and wrote out the male companion. On the bright side, at least this time there's a reason for everyone to act like he never actually existed...


Monday, May 24, 2010

Youth of Australia TV Tropes Page

A work in progress... because I am bored and in denial.

Above the Influence: Andrew to Katy, but it turns out to be ex-issues.

Accidental Pervert: Dave's attempts to tell Phoebe he loves her are undermined as he keeps stumbling across her naked. Katy and Lucy later wonder why he's so depressed given he's seen more of Pheobe than her own boyfriend.
Dave later becomes a fan of the comic book The Unintential Adventures of Rob The Peeping Tom...

A Date With Rosie Palms: In Actually, I Asked For Decaff... Nigel tries it in an art gallery, only for all the alarms to (co-incidentally) go off. "How did they know! CURSE YOU, BIG BROTHER!"

A Hero Is Born: in Verkoff: A Terrible Ego.

Alls Well That Ends Well: Shifts according to the rule of funny. Six months of physical and psychological torture from Parker is instantly forgotten, while Nigel's descent of madness isn't tidily sorted out. Summed up in In Whom We Trust where Nigel discovers the whole business is a misunderstanding and they can be the best of friends again... except Andrew refuses and announces he intends to kill him. Sooner or later.

All Women Are Lustful: Well, that's what Nigel likes to think...

Am I Just A Toy To You?: Nigel's girlfriend Heather, definitely.

Anyone Can Die: In Identity Crisis: Time Comes to Death Nigel and Andrew are Killed For Real when an insane Dave has them executed, but the duo annoy Satan so much he expells them back to the land of the living to be free of their humiliation.
In the Youth of Australia Apocalypse Trilogy, the entire cast are all killed - first by ravenous unseen space monsters, the second when God destroys the Earth, and the third when civilization ends.

Art Evolution: All of them, Nigel has evolved the most - originally he looked far more oriental with spectacles, but in later appearances had huge round glasses, longer bangs and a beehive hairdo. Lampshaded in The Zeitgiest of Indecsion, where Nigel's cult worship a stain-glass window of his earliest look.

Assexual: Jadi, but arguably Andrew.

Beach Episode: Subverted, as the gang wear all their usual clothes and when Eve dresses up it's in a leather goth suit.

Bedmate Reveal: Dave and Eve in SlipBack, Eve, Ashley and her friends in A Holiday Is As Good As A Change.

Beginner's Luck: Dave is brilliant at first tries of driving, dating, interviews... usually putting Nigel to shame as he's been bigging himself up beforehand.

Bezerk Button: Dave has one best left unpressed when it comes to mocking or threatening people he cares about. When Nigel mocked Phoebe's sex life in Isolated Incidents, Dave jammed his head in a storm drain and walked off, "absent-mindedly" leaving him to drown. When Magnus actually beat up Phoebe, he assisted Nigel in what he believed would be a murder attempt
Nigel discovers he has one when deprived of chocolate for months on end. He literally gets a bezerk button, complete with thrash metal soundtrack, flying off the handle and trying to kill people until a violent (painful) shock snaps him out of it. Eventually the button stays pressed and Nigel shaves his head, renames himself Injiltiprajura and becomes a vigilante criminal known as the Ninjitsu Nutter... until Andrew and Dave dunk him head-first into a fish-tank full of chocolate milk, restoring him to normal.
Andrew's mood swings mean it's hard to gauge if he has one, but in Too Clever By Far, demonstrates that he is quite capable of killing people in cold blood if his button ever were pressed.

The Big Board: Nigel tries to set one up, but Dave's lack of interest means that instead of a detailed geographic plan there's a picture of two teletubbies having a gunfight. Amazingly, Nigel doesn't notice.

Bindle Stick: Andrew uses a hatstand for one in Hell With Flourescent Lighting.

Bishonen: Nigel's nickname by his siblings.

Blind Leading the Blind: Too many examples to list, but A Holiday Is As Good As A Change demonstrates the entire gang doing it to each other and ending up with Eve waking up in bed with three other girls (after taking advice from Andrew), Nigel dead (after getting Eve to 'help him drown'), Dave comatose (after Nigel's advice on beachwear) and Andrew... having the time of his life.

Bonus Material: The gang regularly appear as reviewers, writers and sometimes stars in An Alternative Guide to Doctor Who - most notably Nigel Verkoff playing Adam Mitchell/Lavros the Second in the Christopher Eccleston era.

Bondage is Bad: Subverted, as Nigel is into it and is impressed Andrew (who isn't) once got tied up with cheese wire and fluffy rabbits. When he was seven.

Brother Sister Incest: Nigel and Bernice. That is all.

But Liquor is Quicker: Nigel tries to get Melanie drunk enough to sleep with him, but this could just be a lie from Andrew. Certainly Nigel seems suspiciously efficient in the flashback from the unreliable narrator.

But You Screw ONE Goat!: Andrew pranks Nigel by putting a sheep in his bed, this innocent situation compromised by Nigel's passionate "I'll phone you, I promise!" to the animal when he finds out.

Call Back: The gang's bitter argument in The Definition of Insanity features most of them, particularly their respective dysfunctional families.

Chivalrous Pervert: Nigel, towards Eve and his sister Bernice. He's utterly disgusting to everyone else, though.
"Typical. Spend ages trying to hang round with a blonde in a bikini and by the time I manage it... she’s become a person! Why couldn’t she still be an object?"

Comforting Comforter: Often subverted, with the sleeper being rudely awoken by the "comforter".

Coming of Age Story: Verkoff: A Terrible Ego. Also the first episode.

Crazy Enough to Work: Nigel and Andrew could give classes in these... but you'd probably need a parachute and a grasp of medieval French to get to them.
Nigel's Mother Christie Gracelands manages to make the Baby Trap hideously complicated by simply pretending she's not actually pregnant for nine months and hoping no one will notice. And they don't, because no thinks anyone would be stupid enough to try that. Steve later uses such insanity to try and blackmail a businessman, by claiming yowies are stalking him.

Crazy Prepared: In the first episode, Andrew picks a fight with Jadi on the roof, then ends it, then jumps off the roof onto a trampoline he placed earlier on the off-chance. He also writes a novel in Wingdings so no one can copy it (he can read and speak Wingdings fluently).

Crowning Moment of Awesome: Nigel seduces the entire female population of his class in the girl's toilets in one lunchtime by betting them he can kiss them passionately without touching them. He loses the bet. They don't mind.
Andrew effortlessly saving Nigel from the brain drain machine against impossible odds (he's restrained by sadistic enemies and Nigel is trapped in another room, drugged, tied up and being confronted by Kath and Kim).
Dave, when he finds out what has happened to Jadi, and immediately moves heaven and Earth to save his friend.

Crowning Moment of Heartwarming:
The entire gang (bar Nigel) nearly dying to save Dave.
Andrew, Nigel and Dave all separately writing to Eve.
Andrew comforting Phoebe and getting her and Dave to finally sort out their relationship. While she's having a baby.

Cry for the Devil: When Parker claims his wife has had a stroke, it kills the mob vendetta the gang have accumulated. But he was probably lying.

Cultural Cross-References: Too many to mention. Usually to Doctor Who, but there are other ones in there.

Delayed Explosion: At the end of Too Clever By Far.

Delivery Guy: Dave. Andrew could have done it, and would indeed have been the better choice (even though he was drunk), but Dave needed the closure.

Dude Looks Like A Lady: Dave, much to his shame, could easy pass as Eve if he wore a dress and a blond wig. This leads to the titular Identity Crisis.

Dude, Where's My Reward?: Dave lives in this trope. Despite being the least selfish and most generous of the entire cast, he's lost his best friend, the only girl he loved, is estranged from his family, stuck in a dead-end job, unable to drive and often driven to contemplate suicide.

Every Proper Lady Should Curtsey: often done sarcastically. By Andrew.

Exposition Diagram: At a Centrelink Motivation seminar, Nigel walks out when the diagram showing how the speaker got promoted in the service industry rapidly turned into a crude sketch of a Dalek.

Exposition Party: Subverted in It's Always Fun Until They Catch You, where the party has everyone enjoying themselves and never getting round to the numerous declarations and decisions they were all planning to make.

Face Palm: Oddly enough, Dave is the only person ever to do this.

Fate Worse Than Death: Nigel devises one for Magnus - making him think he will die of a long, lingering radiation poisoning.

Fictional Counterparts: "Happy Flappy Burgers" replaces certain burger chains for some unaccountable reason.

Five Token Band: Only Andrew is a typical Anglo Saxon Australian. Dave is Spanish, Nigel Aboriginal/Japanese, Eve Swedish and Katy Euroasian.

Flanderization: An in-universe example, as Nigel's sexual frustration makes him increasingly one dimensional as noted by the characters.

Floating Advice Reminder: Andrew has a straightforward one in Live By The Rod, Die By The Grunt (Dave reproaching him), while Eve has a far more interesting one in A Holiday Is As Good As A Change.
Eve: What would mother say?
(Mother appears)
Mother: I have never seen that girl before in my life, Your Honor, this is nothing but slander!
Eve: OK. Bad example. What about Nigel?
(Nigel appears)
Nigel: I can’t believe this Eve! Sleeping with someone who isn’t me! You’re going to have a lesbian romp orgy - and then not even video-taping it for posterity!! WHAT KIND OF MAD WOMAN ARE YOU?!
Eve: Andrew?
(Andrew appears)
Andrew: I THREW MY HAT INTO THE RING! I’ve done all the DUMB things! Oh, sorry, wrong number...

Gainaxing: One of the few times Dave is Distracted By The Sexy, when Eve is forced into the Goth gear.

Geographic Flexibility: Depending on mood, sometimes the gang live in a suburban cottage near a railway line, and in others a renovated gymnasium. They are occasionally part of a social pipeline (of unseen nutters like Nick McShane) and in other times complete outsiders. That's teenagers for you.

Group Hug: Dave gets one with his mum, dad and sister in the first episode. YMMV if Andrew, Katy, Eve, Harry and Maurice stopping him falling off a bridge also counts.

Heroic Rematch: Subverted. After their no-score-draw battle with Parker, the gang never so much as bother to mention the conflict when he is replaced with his identical twin brother - since they aren't neighbors any more.

Hidden Depths: Andrew has these, given a dead brother, a dead junkie girlfriend and an abusive childhood. Not that he cares enough to mention it.

The Hood: Chamber wears one. Permanently. Yet his easily-burned Albino Hetero Life partner does not.

Hollywood Driving: Indulged by the entire cast, and balanced out by the number of car crashes they get into. It's a miracle any of them are still alive.

The Illegible: Andrew, apparently, during the HSC. Mind you, he was completely pissed at the time.

Incredibly Lame Pun: In a brief moment of executive speak, Nigel insists on calling people by their initials and to save time refers to the others as "DRAB" (Dave Restal and Andrew Beeblebrox).

Instant Birth Just Add Water: Averted with Gracie, who is in labor so long Steve can return to Canberra, be overthrown by his buttmonkey, be arrested, escape, join a cult and return to Sydney before Nigel is born. Phoebe cuts to the chase, but she WAS overdue with triplets.

The Internet Is For Porn: Dave threatens to delete Nigel's porn favorites, while Dr. Spoon is shown to have a near nervous breakdown when the "Bodacious Blonde Babes" website crashes apparently forever.

The Ladette: Tegan.

The Milstone: Nigel. So, so much. Most notably in The Storm Before The Calm, where he tells Centrelink that Andrew and Dave are unemployed, steals their benefits, forges more benefits form, spends all the money on worthless crap he bullies the others into making use of, blames Andrew for it when the authorities arrive, abandons the others, returns home and demolishes everything that could possibly have saved his arse. In the next episode he then drives Dave to attempt suicide, and on numerous occasions attempts to kill people. But we love him anyway.

My Car Hates Me: Nigel dives into Wynona for a quick getaway.
Nigel: Sayonara, you kraut bitches! Now to get out of here! Good old Wynona will speedily take me to safety!
The car doesn't start.
Nigel: Oh, you fucking piece of shi—-
Nigel is dragged out of the car just as the engine turns over.
Nigel: Oh, now it bloody works! Only after I’ve been caught! How freaking convenient!

Never Accepted In His Hometown: Nigel finds himself in this situation at the school reunion, where he is an outside. Eve, Dave and Andrew are uncomfortable to be around their homes and families.

No Sense of Direction: Subverted. The characters never get lost, even when they end up in the bush away from anything approaching civilization, and can easily navigate. Dave can even walk home from the CBD, in the pouring rain, without even concentrating in The Centre Cannot Hold.

Obfuscating Stupidity: It's hard to tell, but Nigel does it surprisingly often, usually subverting with obsfuscating genius as he can bluff on a variety of topics and subjects he actually has little knowledge about.

Open Heart Dentistry: Dr. Spoon gets irritated when people come to him for medical advice. The fact he's probably the most qualified of the whole cast is entirely irrelevant.

Panicky Expectant Father: Subverted. Steve couldn't give a damn, and neither Dave, Jadi or Ronald McDonald were that fussed - Nigel was more worried (though maybe because Phoebe was crushing his hand at the time).

Perfect Health: Subverted. The gang are often seen with blocked sinuses or coughs or cold that have absolutely nothing to do with the plot.

Perky Goth: Katy, Callisto, Jadi

Pettanko: Nigel's cruel nickname for Katy. Trouble is, it's accurate.

Precision F Strike: Nigel calls Andrew "Mr. Fucking Popularity" after he gets Nigel beaten up, concussed, drugged, and his colon irrigated.
Dave's breakdown is made clear when he brokenly sobs to Nigel to fuck off.

Put On A Bus: Pretty much the entire guest cast, but this is a plot point as the gang often miss them and wonder what they're up to now.
Nigel does this to Andrew, Dave, Eve and Katy in the last episode. Which is a mistake.

Refuge in Vulgarity: Nigel does this to try and get Dave to leave him alone. It works.
"Underage?! They were ALL underage! Candy and Cookie, the blondes, well, I won them in a CARD GAME when they were TEN YEARS OLD! They were mine by right! So what I had them do to each other was..."
"Now, you see, Dave, the curious thing about buggering a five year old girl is that-"

Ring Ring Crunch: Nigel smashes his alarm clocks whenever they wake him up before going back to sleep. This is because he won a box of six hundred surprisingly fragile alarm clocks and is working his way through them.

Screaming Birth: Gracie, mainly to get attention from the father. Nigel is the only one screaming at Phoebe's birth, demonstrating his inhumanly-low pain threshold.

Sick and Wrong: Nigel's described activities fit here, but it's unclear if they're real or he is making it up in a confused attempt to impress people. He briefly described his lust for his own sister in such terms.

Smitten Teen: Nigel (for his sister), Katy (for Andrew) and Dave (for Phoebe). Harry also had a thing for Lucy.

Social Services Does Not Exist: Subverted. Ben Chatham tries to use them to destroy the gang forever and fails utterly.
"Andrew! I hope you haven’t been defrauding our wonderful government social services – again!"

Spear Carrier: Maurice de Lacy.

Spoiled Sweet: Eve, a most triumphant example.

Standardized Sitcom Housing: Well, bar Andrew living in a homemade wheat silo in the corner...

Stepford Smiler: Parker (Type C), and Andrew (Type A) to a degree (though it's more a "Stepford Feral About To Go For The Neck Grin").

Stout Strength: Subverted. Weedy Nigel is way stronger than Andrew (although he is also chronically lazy).

Straight Man: Dave.

Strip Poker: Nigel and Dave play this (in order to become good at it and then play it with attractive women). Dave wins, since Nigel cracks under the slightest pressure and gives up before he has to lose anything beyond sunglasses.

Strongly Worded Letter: "What I shall do to is... WRITE TO A CURRENT AFFAIR! That’s right, Dave! That’s right! Be amazed at the New... Tough Nigel you see before you! I AIN’T GONNA TAKE NO SHIT FROM NOBODY NO MORE!"

Such a Phony: Lucy is a complete bitch, but acts like no one has noticed.

Suddenly Sexuality: Eve never quite achieves "what happens in Manley STAYS in Manley".

Sue Donym: Nigel calls himself "Sir Nigel Anonymous Esquire" to apply for a job he was sacked from not too long ago.

Suicide as Comedy: Nigel occasionally dallies with this, usually for wangst (he considers slashing his wrists after Andrew ruins a date, or getting a VERY late abortion when he flunks the HSC). Dave too, on bad days.

Surreal Humor: Often around Andrew, when TVs answer back or pouring raw ingredients into the microwave magically turns them into food. The gang also encounter supernatural entities or alien monsters whenever the rule of funny demands.

Sustained Misunderstanding: Numerous.
"Ah... Ah! Here we are... ‘f(x) = 2x – 7’... ‘What would ‘f(5)’ be?’"
"Well it’s a function, isn’t it? Try ‘writes books’."
"The function of an author."
"Yeah. What does the answer say?"
"Wow. Writing books is like, the third-most important job EVER! I never knew that. Did you?"

Swing Low Sweet Harriet: Bernice on her Wedding Day.

Tagalong Kid: Subverted. Dave's sister Callisto often has much better things to than ever join the gang.

Take Our Word For It: Certain films (either hardcore porn or American Beauty) can perform Jekyll and Hyde transformations on people. It is unsurprisingly never seen.

The Talk: In Sex Education, Nigel often told the teacher "I love it when you talk dirty!" much to the embarrasment of the other students.

Tall Dark And Bishoujo: Lucy Gao.

Tandem Parasite: Nigel treats most people this way, particularly Jason.

Team Pet: Subverted. Pussy-Aeter Jjones, Andrew's dog, only appears in two episodes and regularly referred to as somehow becoming President of the Phillipines.

Testosterone Poisoning: Nigel suffers sporadic bouts.

That Came Out Wrong: Too many times to mention, but usually Nigel. Who doesn't care.

They Just Don't Get It: Everyone, sooner or later.
"Why not?"
"Because, you idiot – WE DON’T HAVE WINGS!"
"In a plane, you moron! IN – A – PLANE!"
"We can’t fly a plane!"
"We catch a plane to Canberra!"

This Is No Time To Panic!: "We don’t panic in the face of adversity, Nigel! We face this together!" shouts Dave before panicking in a very violent and destructive manner.
In Frequent Flier Points, Nigel screams, "IF I WANT TO PANIC, BEEBLEBROX, I’LL PANIC!" before diving through a window for no real reason.

THIS! IS! SPARTA: Nigel loses it and screams "MUST! DESTROY! EVIDENCE!" and runs amok with an axe when Centrelink get involved.

This Is Going To Be Huge: Nigel's Dad falls foul of the 80s stock market crash.

Toilet Humor: Dave occasionally suffers this, since his unusual diet leaves him suffering irritable bowel syndrome.
"Err... hello? Whoever’s in there better hurry up, otherwise I’m holding you responsible for the present that’s going to be in the Cornflakes packet!"

Tom, Dick, My Name Is Harry: Nigel often (pretends to?) gets people's names wrong, regularly calling Andrew "Anthony" or "Antione". Andrew, for his part, sometimes forgets his name and assumes it's "Alex" based on statistical probability.

Tomboy: A definite One of the Boys type, Phoebe spent so much time with Jadi and Dave many assumed they were related, given her lack of romantic interest in either of them. Rather subverted when she was the only girl in the school who got pregnant though.

Tomboy and Girly-Girl: Katy and Eve.

Too Fast To Stop: Dave becomes a speed-junkie after driving Nigel's car for an hour.
"SPEED is the KEY! We'll burn up this road faster than a firework in an oxygen tent! A shot of adrenaline into the arteries of a rotting corpse!"
"At least scale it back under 120?!"
"Never! This iron behemoth is for howling headlong into the wild kinetic equations of forward motion, not crawling along like the mewling hoardes of the motorway! WE RIDE LIKE VALKERYIES IN VALHALLA, BABY!"

Too Much Information: Nigel. Even if he's making it up in the belief it makes him look cool.

Tough Room: Andrew claims that he suffered a violent version of this sweettalking millionaire Samuel Markson, who repeatedly tried to kill him every time Andrew spoke. Katy insists he's exaggerating... slightly.

Tranquil Fury: Numerous examples, usually from Andrew but Dave and Nigel are capable once their bezerk buttons have been hit. Parker lives in a permanent state of this.

Trash Landing: Done to Nigel by Magnus.

Trash of the Titans: Andrew's bungalow.

Trick Dialogue: Dave is rehearsing his speech to Phoebe, unaware she's standing right in front of him. It gets worse...

The Trouble With Tickets: Nigel falls hook, line and sinker in The Parking Ticket Legacy.
Nigel: What is this bollocks? It’s parked outside my house! Not on a double yellow line or anything! I’m not paying this. It’s a some mistake, some jumped up traffic warden...
Andrew: [reads ticket] “This is not some mistake or the work of a jumped up traffic warden. This fine is automatically sent to Debt Collection and believe you me they don’t piss about. If the fine is not paid within 21 working days your driving license will automatically be revoked.”
Nigel: You’re saying I HAVE to pay this? I can’t even appeal?
Andrew: Unless the words “there is no right of appeal” mean something else to you.

Truth Telling Session: A very viscious example in the second episode.
"Guys, guys! Settle, just settle ok? As far as everyone else is concerned you’re both idiotic wasters who will never amount to anything - which is why all your friends have abandoned you."

Twerp Sweating: Subverted in The Definition of Insanity when Nigel is left with Dave's embarassingly-brain-damaged mother for company while waiting for Dave to come out of his sulk.

Ugly Guy Hot Daughter: Callisto Restal, and Phoebe Richards.

Un Entendre: Nigel and Andrew discuss these, including
Andrew: "Nigel Verkoff, your entire life has been one big waste of time and effort".
Nigel: that a euphemism?
Andrew: It is to me.

Un Evil Laugh: Nigel is prone to it on occasion.

Unkempt Beauty: It works for Andrew.

Unlikely Spare: Dave's "unique" technicolour dream coat miraculously recovers from its numerous deaths, starting in Too Clever By Far.

Unpopular Popular Character: Harry "Born to Drum" Hill. Despised on principle by everyone except Andrew and Katy, simply because of a Shaggy Dog Story they all know is untrue. Slightly subverted when Andrew blackmails Lucy over said story.

Unpronouncable Alias: Andrew's original (we think) moniker of "Theodore Klyngirophel" made his later nickname "Maddog" easier for teachers to pronounce if no one else.
When he later embarrassed by being chucked out of an art gallery in Why Don't These Girls Ever Listen To Me?, he introduces himself as "Tindell Manx Harpooner Mootie Hubbub Smutch Garris Boker Grubby Martha Baltimore Prudent Forkit Nik Nak Tibbin Bantam Podger Mousepork Geerson Woolmicks." But we can call him "Glove Smuggler", at least until he changed his mind and claimed to be "Rasputin Hornblower"...

Unreliable Narrator: Andrew, with his "multiple choice" view of reality.

Unsatisfiable Customer: In Insecurities Dave gets one - an absent-minded Charlie's Angels fan who destroys the whole shop trying to recreate a fight scene, only to remember it's a completely different movie and wander off without hiring anything.

Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Nigel, but they all have their moments.

Useful Book: Nigel keeps a miniature library in his bedroom, and most of them are fakes containing either comics, porn mags, DVDs or other stuff he'd rather girls not see and instead makes him look well-read and sophisticated. Occasionally subverted with proper books he really does read.

Verbal Backspace: Generally everyone bar Andrew is good for one of these.
"Yeah! I say, ‘For now, we should go with the flow’!"
"Hear, hear."
"‘Tag along,’ I say!"
"Hear, hear."
"‘Be a sheep!’ I say!"
"Hear, he- What?"
"Forget that last part."

Vetinari Paradox: Subverted. Andrew's Legacy starts off like this, but it turns out some passing nutter is causing all their troubles and would have done so anyway even if Andrew had stayed.
Played straight in The Definition of Insanity and The Centre Cannot Hold. Eve's departure leads to another one.

Visual Pun: "I said I was 'adamant!'" says Dave when looking like Adam Ant on the cover of Youth of Australia 2.

Vocal Dissonance: Cuddles the Bodybuilder talks in a baby voice.

The Vodka Is Good But The Meat Is Rotten: Andrew claims "Caveat Emptor" means "Get Stuffed" in Latin.

Wacky Cravings: Andrew often comes up with strange food combinations, apparently just to freak people out. Probably the epitome was him explaining that a chicken nugget was actually the cancer-ridden spleen of a budgie... and then absent-mindedly eating it a moment later.

Wacky Fratboy Hijinks: Often referred to, never seen - usually involving violence against birds (Andrew ate a pigeon, Nigel set fire to some swans, Dave was mauled by a pelican). Nigel often claims any past noodle incidents were simply these taken out of context... often by the authorities.

Wacky Marriage Proposal: subverted, as the girl Nigel is attempting seduce on her wedding day is HIS OWN SISTER.

Wacky Racing: The gang drive backwards chasing an ambulance that fights them off with Kath and Kim merchandise in Unclear Motives.

Wallet Moths: Nigel finds these in the last scene of the last episode... and thus decides to get some prostitutes on credit and hope that works out instead.

Wangst: Nigel often indulges in this. Dave dips in as well occasionally, then realizes he has it better than most people, and gets even more depressed at the realization he'll never be happy.
"I’ve ruined myself! I’ve ruined it all! Why didn’t I tell them how I got all that extra money? God, for an extra $620 a week, I’m looking at massive fines and even more massive repayments! And that’s the best case scenario! The worst case scenario? I’ll get sent to jail for thirty years and never get a shag! Now, that’s depressing! Prison! Oh, Jebus, prison! I couldn’t take it! If I ever got any sex, it’d be all the wrong type of sex! OH, I AM SO FREAKING SCREWED!"
"I’m been a total bitch my whole life and now I have to suffer this isolation for the rest of time or face damnation! Why didn’t I go to church or something instead of just stalking female vicars? WHY?? Oh, Lord, I’m pathetic! DAMN IT, I SUCK! OH, I AM SO FREAKING SCREWED!"

Watch Out For That Tree: Nigel often neglects to do this while driving. Others often have to scream advice to him, ala "Tree! Zebra Crossing! Hump-Back Bridge!"

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Gets shown when the gang take over the Mindbender Game Show, beat up the host and steal the prizes.

We Are Struggling Together: Against Parker in Too Clever By Far.

We Named The Monkey Jack: In The Parking Ticket Legacy, the neighbour, a psychotic egomaniac called Devereaux names all his animals after himself - his cat is "Devereaux the Third" and his dog "Devereaux the Fourth".
Andrew once filled a fish tank full of chocolate milk and sardines and told Nigel that he'd named each one of the sardines "Nigel". He then spent the next two weeks announcing when each Nigel was "found dead".

Weather Dissonance: Since moving in together, it seems to rain continuously and Nigel later notes that Australia is now out of its drought.
Nigel: God, bring back the good old drought days, that’s what I say. I mean, when the drought broke, no one was expecting this kind of weather twenty-four-seven, were they?
Dave: What, you mean they were expecting the drought to break by staying bone dry all the time?

We Haven't Learned Anything Yet: Nigel is the living embodiment.

Weird Trade Union: Working at Frontier Videos, Dave is part of Videorama Australis, a quasi-religious cult-like organization that monitors all workers in the retail entertainment industry and is ruled by corrupt and archaic cardinals. No one ever finds this remotely odd.

We Have These Too: Nigel often tells people off by saying things like "Why don't you use what we, in THIS solar system, call a phone?"

Well Excuse Me Princess: Subverted with Eve. Nigel, on the other hand...

We Need A Distraction: Andrew's very good at this.
"Eve, Eve, Eve... When beetles fight their battles in a bottle on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles what do we call it?"
"Umm... Give up. What do we call it?"
(Eve realizes he's run away while she was thinking)
Then there's that time he's seen running naked down the street chased by a police car, a few moments after leaving the room...

What Did I Do Last Night?: The entire plot of SlipBack. Dave wakes up in bed with Eve, Nigel wakes up covered in disgusting stains, and Andrew wakes up... in Occupied France 1945, getting drunk in a Parisian cafe.

Who's Driving?: Subverted in Insecurities - "Don’t be so rude, Dave! The car knows what it’s doing..."

Wicked Stepmother: Subverted. Nigel's mother arguably loves him more than his original mother did, and is often worried about him.

Wiper Start: Subverted, as Dave checks which control works the wipers before starting his first driving lesson in Unclear Motives.

With Catlike Tread: A variation in Heatstroke as Nigel performs a brilliant and silent ninja dance down the hallway to land beside the bathroom door... not realizing that Andrew was standing in plain sight, watching him the whole time.
"Dude, you have just redefined the word pathetic."

With Friends Like These: Nigel is very much this to the Happiness Patrol - he bullies, manipulates, insults and belittles them... but they are his friends and he does go out of his way to improve their (in his opinion) pathetic lives.
Andrew repeatedly saves Nigel's life, but usually in the most humiliating way possible - from drowning, heatstroke, mad scientist...

The Worf Effect: No sooner has Nigel changed his entire outlook and personality, becoming the Big N... he meets Magnus, who insults him, beats him up and then throws him into a dumpster. In front of the pretty girl Nigel was trying to impress.

Working Class People Are Morons: Subverted hard. The higher up the social scale, the more gormless people are. The only exception is Dave's mother, and SHE was a highly-respected intelligent woman before being rendered a Cuckoocloudlander in a Noodle Incident involving a combine harvester.

World of Cardboard Speech: Nigel is prone to these, but even finds himself boring when he does these rants, and thus never learns from them.
"I always thought I could make a difference. The world is weak, vulnerable, a mess of breakfast cereals and auto-erotic asphyxiation. It needs a strong, single mind, a leader to deliver it milk and cookies and bathe with it in the glow of happiness and oppression. My happiness! Their oppression! MWAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!"
"What are you on about?!"
"...I read that in my astrology column once."

Wrench Wench: Tegan. In the last episode, Katie reveals she briefly went through the phase - how briefly? The car's still in the backyard with a tree growing through the bonnet.

Wrong Name Outburst: deliberate, as Nigel annoys people by pretending to get their names wrong. When Andrew responds to being called "Antoine" by calling Nigel "Norman", the Big N makes a Suspicious Specific Denial: "THAT WASN'T ME! WHAT WOULD I WANT WITH A DEAD CHICKEN UP MY ARSE?!?!" Dave and Andrew, of course, have absolutely no idea what he's on about.

Wonderous Ladies Room: Nigel makes his crowning moment of awesome on his first visit.
"Sure is nice and tidy in here..."

Worth It: Done completely straight with Nigel "The Russian Kid Incident".

Yaoi Fangirl: Simone.

Yawn and Reach: Nigel does this to Andrew in Complete Moral Outrage.
"But you must admit, the atmosphere was wonderful. The soft light from the candles, the music. And you looked just ravishing tonight, Andrew. Looking at you tonight, Andrew, like that, in that off-the-shoulder cocktail dress and tight stockings... You know, Andrew, tonight could have been the night. The way you were got up really set me going... Oh, GOD ANDREW! Why couldn’t you be a woman?!"

You Are A Tree, Charlie Brown: "[Chamber]’s the front doormat for the Youth Centre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire."
The gang consider doing a play of Midsummer Night's Dream.
"Would I get a part?"
"You want one?"
"Hah! My elocution skills are the best in the southern hemisphere! Remember that time I sang both verses of the National Anthem? The crowd went wild!"
"Yeah. ‘Incitement to riot’. That’s what the police called it, didn’t they? Still, you could play the part of the lion. Interested?"
"A lion? Hah! Lions aren’t cool any more. Today’s youth stare at the King of the Jungle and what do they think of? Elton bloody John, that’s what they think of! Me growling may turn on lots of girls, but as a lion I just wouldn’t convince."
"...Lions don’t growl. They roar."
"Bloody pedant!"

You Are What You Hate: Often applied to Nigel - who despises cowards, bullies, loneliness, virgins, orphans and losers. Ironic as he doesn't fit most of those factors. His relationship with Andrew sums it up as they are both cynical, lost children who have plenty of regrets and are in total denial about it.

You Can't Go Home Again: Subverted in the last episode.

You Can't Miss It: Subverted in In Whom We Trust.
"Do you know the TAB just down the road, on Vampyre Lane?" "What, the one just behind the haunted tree sanctuary, tucked away beyond the gravel quarry, and just next to the Elephant graveyard?" "That’s the one!"

You Get Me A Coffee: Nigel sends Dave to set up an ambush, and Jadi to lure Magnus... and then gets Jason to do his maths homework. He then goes one further with Danielle:
Danielle: [eagerly] And what do I do?
Nigel: Sit on your hands until they go numb and then give those [points at her breasts] a good fondle under my strict supervision!

You Make Me Sic: Andrew rants on grammer in Dave's novel, ignoring the fact that Dave's plagiarising Shakespeare word for word:
Andrew: It’s a freaking mixed metaphor! And you can’t put mixed metaphors in one of the greatest works of fiction in English literature!
Nigel: Is it? I just thought it was crap.
Andrew: Anyone can justify crap. No one can justify a mixed metaphor.
Nigel: You can’t be serious!
Andrew: You bet I’m serious. Mixed metaphors are very serious things you know.
Nigel: Look, what do you know about mixed metaphors?
Andrew: More than you.
Nigel: You’re a bloody loony!
Andrew: A bloody loony a day keeps the mixed metaphors away.

Your Days Are Numbered: the plot of the Apocalypse specials. Surprisingly, Andrew takes it the worst.

Your Other Left: Katie Ryan: "Turn to the left. No, slightly to the right. My right, your left. No, not my left, your left. That’s right. No, no, not right! RIGHT! I mean, left. Left! Left! THE OTHER LEFT!"
Nigel and Dave do an Abbot and Costello routine on this in The Storm Before The Calm
"Well, let’s move it to the left, then, shall we?"
"‘Right?’ Make up your damn mind, Dave!"

Your Television Hates You: Manages to drive the gang back together in The Definition of Insanity (though it takes Nigel a long time to twig any connection between events and the TV he's watching).

You're Drinking Breast Milk: Nigel's Dad considers this when he's rather thirsty in the middle of a prank.
"I think we’re risky enough hiding in bushes trying to blackmail a powerful businessman WITHOUT having to explain why you’re sucking my tits!"

Zettai Ryouiki: Seemingly mandatory at the gang's highschool, and again usually by Andrew. What is it with that guy?!

Zero Approval Gambit: Phoebe tries this on Dave, insisting they stop being friends when she finds out she's going to be a teenage mum and so she won't mess up Dave's life as well. Doesn't work, and simply drive Dave into despair.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


It boggles the mind. Seriously.

You know, mid-90s, one of the best moments on Australian television was Doctor Who getting namechecked in Frontline by Mike Moore (no, not that one... or that one either...) in what was actually a joke about Moore's chronic out-of-touch-ness as he can't follow others' references to James Bond.

And yet, today, I boggle at the latest episode of Lowdown.

Guest starring my dad's mate Steve "Four Tits" Bisley, it concerned the main characters (a weak-willed journo, his overenthusiastic camera man and his flirty ex girlfriend) trying to get an exclusive interview about a radio host's public indecency in as quick a method as possible so they can catch Phantom of the Opera 2. Which is REAL, by the way. Alas, they fall foul of the host's slightly wierd wife who wants to sing at them.

The cameraman idly notes his five year plan is not as impressive as the journo's, admitting his plans involve "Tom Baker, the greatest Doctor Who of them all". This is treated with some horror from the others - but not because they don't like Doctor Who, but because camera dude had spent the first half of that conversation going on and on about his sexual frustration and the implication he was planning to seduce the T-Bone.

The camera dude's fan credentials were subtly hinted last week when - on a stealth undercover op, he uses a New Series Cyberman towel as a disguise, and later is tazered when his "lucky TARDIS" fails to keep him out of trouble.

Anyway, the episode putters along until - in between songs from the wife - the unlikely trio admire a wall of photos. "Look me in the eye and tell me that isn't Tom Baker," boggles camera dude, indicating one of them.

And it was. It actually bloody was a photo of Tom Baker and the wife snapped in mid-conversation.

I mean, even if it's some cunning photoshop trick, the idea of them ACTUALLY going to that much trouble boggles. My parents and I were dumbstruck, and when the incidental music started to become the distinctive sound of Ron Grainer, silence fell and damn well stayed there.

Despite the journo's let's-be-brutally-honest pathetic "not the Doctor Who thing, not now", the camera man is determined and confronts the wife with the immortal and awestruck:



Yes. Now, I'm not as big as an anorak as I could be. I do know that in said Invasion of Time, one of the female Shaboogans is played by an Aussie actress who reached a moderate amount of fame and is now usually spotted at the Melbourne Cup. I know that because by curious coincidence the ABC repeated Invasion of Time back in 2005 and the Guide noted we could see her twice that day at different ends of her career.

I honestly don't know if the wife in Lowdown was meant to be that actress, or actually WAS that actress, but is only slightly taken aback at the guy shouting Target titles at her. With a cheerful "Oh, are you a Doctor Who fan?" she leads him into a room and shows him something special.

She's got the Doctor's scarf.

And if it's not the genuine article it's a fucking good copy. Even the camera man is impressed - and that's before he confirms credentials by finding the hole sewn into the scarf, shakedly agreeing this is the same one used in Ark In Space and informing the audience that the hole represents the Ark's security systems trying to zap the Time Lord.

I don't know what the average viewer's reactions would be to that stunned mumbling of trivia, but I'm pretty certain every viewer's jaw dropped when the wife nodded and said,

"Yeah, he never made love without it."

The French Farce conclusion with a paranoid Bizley returning home and expecting to find his wife dead, but instead finds her in a broom closet with the Cameraman wearing only the Scarf, the Hat and the Coat (like that X-rated version of City of Death we always hear about).

And ... well... nope, I just boggle. It's comedy meant to evoke the same vibe as Bad Santa.

And yet, despite lacking all the smutty innuendo of "spending all week spanking Eccleston and then going back to Pertwee", or having a gay slut and his latest tomboy dressed in painfully accurate versions of the Sixth and Fourth Doctor's outfits while they bum some weed off a dealer, felt a lot more shocking than the first episode of Ideal shown on ABC2.

But maybe it's because automatic contenders for Australian comedy of the year, narrated by Geoffrey Rush and starring Kim Gyngel, just never seem the obvious place to see a guy shagging a woman twice his age while dressed as his childhood hero... at least when that childhood hero is Doctor Who.

I mean, if he'd been dressed as the last three Doctors, sure...

Sorry, I just needed to post in the hope someone else will confirm that YES, they DID see this as well.

Cause, seriously, I'm doubting the workings of my own brain at the moment.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Doctor Who - Schrodinger's MILF


Come and see the real thing,
Come and see the real thing,
Come and see
Tryin’ hard to understand
The meaning that you’ll see in me
There’s a meaning there,
But the meaning there
Doesn’t really mean a thing!

I am not seeing you
am the real thing!

Some say that Susan, Barbara, Vicki, Dodo (before being shot through the head anyroads), Jo, Leela, Nyssa, Tegan and even Peri managed it. Jackie Tyler (and, according to Word of God) Donna Noble managed it off screen, but Amelia Jessica Pond becomes the first TV companion to demonstrably fail to use birth control. She's up the duff, in the club, in pod and generally getting her money's worth out of her uterus - a far cry from the traditional silence of the show as to where babies come from. You know, in 2005, someone actually said to me how disgusted they were when Father's Day had a pregnant bride in it? 'And then,' they hissed, 'they had the Doctor go and draw attention to it!' as if the Doctor idly asking "boy or girl?" was the equivalent of a five-hour dissertation of mucus plugs. 'You'd never have got that in the proper show,' he concluded to me.

'Quite,' I nodded.

A pause.

'Apart from that pregnant Time Lady in Arc of Infinity,' I nodded. 'You know, the one in the coffee lounge.'

The uberfan suddenly had people far more interesting to talk to than me. He didn't run off screaming "LOOMS ARE CANON, I TELL THEEE!" but I like to think he did, and was probably composing a lengthy blogpost on why female Gallifreyans have breasts if there are no children to feed when the Beast declared Rose Tyler not a virgin and then he exploded in horror.

Ah. I really should go to conventions again...

Anyway, it's 2015 and there's a clear lack of apocalypse in Upper Leadworth as the Doctor pops round to see how Rory and Amy are getting on in the half-decade since their Venetian escapes. Just what have the couple been doing since then is patently obvious to everyone except the Doctor - Amy's belly drops a lot quicker than the penny as the Last of the Time Lords twigs that her increased waistline just might be significant. Luckily, the TARDIS has arrived in the day or so before the birth when the 26-year-old mum to be is full of beans and has the energy to rush around and the happy cocktail of hormones required to NOT beat nine colours of shit out of the Time Lord after he screams "Day-am, did you swallow a planet? You remind me of a zeppellin! I shall call thee Rotunda from now on...."

In a massive departure from most sci-fi shows, Amy's brood is NOT

a) the Messiah
b) hellspawn
c) an alien version of either of the above
d) half-human
e) someone who's going to grow up to be Rose Tyler/Captain Jack/the Rani
f) something Amy would most likely die giving birth to
g) something evil that's using Amy as a host and making her evil
h) the result of alien abduction/government conspiracy/magic/spiked water supply

It's just a baby. Novel move huh? Seriously, when was the last time THAT happened in a fantasy series? I tell you, Something Borrowed might have avoided being a total war crime had it tried such originality... well, a slightly less misogynistic war crime, anyroads. Speaking of unreasonable hatred for Torchwood, the Yanks have recoiled in terror and the USA remake is off. RTD was so heartbroken it took him whole minutes before he forgot all about it and focussed his attention back onto The Sarah Jane Adventures.

"So, what do you do around here to stave off the self-harm?" asks the Doctor after three minutes where the most exciting and dangerous happenings are Amy's Braxton-Hicks contractions. Yes, Upper Leadworth is deader than Canberra on Tuesday afternoon and the Doctor admits he's only dropped in by mistake - he's as eager to move on from ex companions as t'other fellah (David something? Anyone remember?), and Amy and Rory are forced to admit their normal lives ARE a tad dull in comparison. Just for a moment (and I should stress we haven't even reached the opening credits yet - still, better use of the teaser than The Eleventh Hour managed, right commuters?) it looks as if this story will be a novelty Happy-Endings like tale free of monsters, death, blood, destruction, horror or pain. Cue crap joke about Amy's hormones providing them anyway.

Alas this originality starts to run dry as Doctor Who tackles for the first time that whole "it's a dream" plot every other show EVER has done. You know the sort, the main protagonist wakes up one day and finds themselves in Ordinary-Land and the usual format was just a dream about a successful TV show/computer game/book series. Cue lots of genre savvy gags as the protagonist is asked just how credible it is they are a crime-fighting/demon-killing/time-travelling hero and ends up briefly in the looney bin. Just as our hero begins to wonder if it WAS all a dream they find out that this is a nefarious trick - 'reality' is the dreamworld and they must restore the status quo STAT!

It been done from Stargate to Star Trek to Red Dwarf to Charmed to Alex Mack to I Love freaking Lucy! Farscape did it at least twice an episode, until approximately an 3rd of the entire series is actually a delusion in his own brain. Only Buffy actually did anything really clever, with the brilliant ending of the Slayer in a padded cell - it turns out 'reality' WAS reality after all! HAH! Oh, seriously, there were tears in the playground the next day, and not just from the girls.

Just in case you hadn't grasped it (covered as it is by references to The Space Museum as Rory and the Doctor peer up Amy's jumper to see where her baby's gone), the Doctor announces, "We're back to reality now!" before

Yes, while Amy's practicing lamaze breathing exercises in Upper Leadworth, she's also slowly dying of hypothermia in a crippled TARDIS in deep space. To misquote Paul Jennings' Wake Up To Yourself, is she falling asleep or falling awake? It's not as if Upper Leadworth is nice, as all the pensioners turn evil and declare a jihad on Amy and her popped belly button. Is frozen Amy dreaming of being pregnant Amy or the other way round?

The answer is, quite obviously, "Duh! Frozen Amy is the real one as it would take way too much effort to make Baby Pond a regular feature of the show! And isn't the universe ending on her wedding day, so how the hell does Amy happily survive with Rory working their way through the karma sutra for the next five years?"

This train of thought is not exactly derailed by the Patented Bored God turning up. Yes, it's the Dream Lord, a powerful extradimensional being with a sideline in surreal sadism - no, not the Celestial Toymaker. I don't care what Gary Russell says. Or even if the Toymaker is the Guardian of Dreams who torments people with waking hallucinations. Besides, surely the antecedent is the Word Lord from 45 - you know, the sadistic extradimensional bastard who, for some unaccountable reason, dresses and acts exactly like a NuWho incarnation? And while the Word Lord wore a pinstripe suit, backcombed and talked fluent mockney, the Dream Lord has a fetish for leather-elbow-patched tweed jackets, bowties and braces. Wonder if that's significant?

Could he be the Celestial Toymaker? The Great Intelligence? The Kro'ka? Any kind of formless psychic being with a grudge who caught the Time Lord Victorius banging Elizabeth I like a dunny door in a cyclone? Who cares?

Anyway, with less than 45 minutes left, the Dream Lord cuts to the chase and spells it out. He has created a false reality and is swapping it back and forth for the genuine article. The only way for the Doctor, Amy and Rory to escape is to work out which one is fake and then "die" in that one. But if they choose wrong and die in reality, they're screwed and will walk in the false world world for a very long time, their minds living there to strut and fret forever THE POOR PLAYERS!

Oops, dipped into Farscape again. My bad.

Yes, it's all gone a little Mind Robber on us, hasn't it? What would Peter Ling say? "Hang on, I wanted to do a story when someone had a baby in the TARDIS!" probably, before remembering he's dead and falling awkwardly silent. So, do the crew choose to perish with the inescapbly doomed TARDIS or fight off the fetucidal OAPs? I mean, if the Frozen Amy World is the right one, she's dead meat anyway, surely? But would the secretive-bordering-on-self-destructive Miss Pond choose a reality where the Doctor's constantly taking the piss out of her engorged womb and Rory has a truly horrid pony-tail?!!

I mean, if this WASN'T a mid-season episode, we might actually get something approaching tension. Still, Moffat's to blame. You shouldn't have done all those trailers of a clearly childless Amy punking Vincent Van Gogh, should you?

Of course, in the meantime we get some hardcore characterization - Amy's erotic dreams about her true love put Jeff's internet porn to shame (apparently), Rory's Heartbeat-style fantasies are mocked, and is the Doctor really finding Upper Leadworth deadly dull... or is he just really, really uncomfortable being around ex-companions who are enjoying lives without him? And given Amy's secretive nature, would she even bother to tell anyone if she went into labor? The TARDIS crew are suddenly their own worst enemies... in a good way. Not like Eric Saward padding out an episode. There's a point to it. Unlike, apparently, the Doctor.

(It seems a lot of writers were impressed by that bit in Torchwood were Gwen loses any pretense of insanity and screams "WHAT'S THE POINT OF YOU THEN?!?", since it's been done several times since in other spin-offs - but it loses it's power, since Gwen's question did of course have the answer "Not a lot, this show is stuffed and not even America will buy it and they bought fucking Wilfred for crying out loud" and the others tend to answer "I will respond by way of saving the entire universe when it is drammatically appropriate!")

Rory thinks Leadworth is real and the TARDIS a dream. The Doctor is confident it's the other way round and Amy's certain both are real - given the way she keeps clutching her stomach in the TARDIS and is very hormonal, she MIGHT JUST BE RIGHT! (Well, it would make a change in these sort of adventures, wouldn't it?) In the meantime, a generic alien invasion so utterly predictable the Doctor doesn't even need to hear about it is under way and the old folk are closing in on the trio, since Amy's no longer up to an Awful Lot of RunningTM - let that be a lesson to young girls watching: don't get pregnant to avoid Amateur Dramatics, because nine months later alien bodysnatchers will be trying to reduce you to albino mouse droppings. Good thing Rory's protective instincts override his hippocratic oath, huh?

So, leaving aside the possible nasty side-effects of dragging a nine-month pregnant woman backwards up a narrow flight of steps (yeah... Rory knows what he's doing... sure), the Doctor's effortlessly rounding up survivors, car-jacking and pissing off the alien-possessed pensioners - let that be a lesson to any alien refugees watching: don't take over human hosts who need zimmerframes, because those young resistance fighters will be able to run away before you can atomize them with death breath! Oh, there's a moral for everyone in this episode, isn't there?

Alas, Rory's managed to put Amy into labor (assuming she's not just after attention), get himself mortally wounded and the Doctor's regenerated supreme confidence is starting to show cracks. I mean, you wouldn't even notice the Tenth Doctor being this unsure and scared, but this one?

Of course it all sorts itself out eventually, and the revelation of who this one-off villain was is immensely satisfying, since I guessed it at the start of the review and was proved completely right! HAH! But there's a hint of unfinished business and we might see the creepy bowtied tweed villain again... coz Amy's not the only one that keeps secrets from others...

Next Time: The Hungry Earth
"The graves swallow you up!"
It's like Frontios! Only, you know... with Silurians...

ah bugger it...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FFS, Spara! (Election Special)

I'm not going to bother with an introduction. No words could do it justice.

How the new Prime Minister should rebuild broken Britain!

Finally David Cameron (It is not appropriate to address our right honourable Prime Minister as "Dave") is our Prime Minister. He inherits a country ridden with problems and in serious decline as a society. Unfortunately he is constrained by the Lib Dems however hopefully he can fob them off with a few token jobs then ignore them. Also he could plant damaging stories in the press about them using info obtained by the security services.

Anyway, here is a blueprint for what the new PM should do:

1) Immediately cut spending on useless council jobs and advisory quangos.

2) Impose a 9pm curfew in known trouble spots and intern habitual troublemakers in camps.

3) Introduce strict rules on what is acceptable on television. Ban dumbed down programming in favour of historical drama and documentaries.

4) Deport all convicted burglars, car thieves & drug dealers to the Eurozone.

5) Personally supervise the next season of Doctor Who.

I am not a fascist. I see no problem with interning criminals and using the army to instill some self-discipine in them. Hopefully David will be a proper Conservative not some namby pamby middle of the road compromiser like Mrs Thatcher.

...and then the mods turned up, banning sparacus from the "grown-up" Crater of Needles current affairs section.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Finish: How Very Dare They

Bastards! Just because they've managed the six impossible things of

- Bringing back Tegan on a regular basis
- Bringing back the Fourth Doctor on a regular basis
- Bringing back Gallifrey 90210 to tell the story of the Time War
- Brought the ongoing Eighth Doctor audios to an end
- Made the unmade Season 27
- Given Charley Pollard her own spin-off series

They now add

- reject Saturday Night at the Red Lion by yours truly as part of their Short Trips audio saga!

I mean, all ideas I did first - AND I GOT PROOF - but do they actually take stuff I OFFER WILLINGLY?

A clue: no.

I wouldn't have minded if someone better had got job, yet I find no mention of "Johan Redsen" being on the books, nor a "CJ Mason". Thankfully I find no "Joshua Wynne", "Mark Goucher" or "Smokin Gjacket" either.

As a protest, I have recommenced the Big Finish piss-off mockery!

The Magic Mushroom



Bugger, I hope that didn't just wreck my chance on the other competition.

Aw, who am I kidding? They probably didn't even read Immoral Victories...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Doctor Who - Vampire Girls Suck Venice!


Night falls... I fall... And where were you? And where were you?
Warm skin... wolf grin... and where were you?
High tide... inside the air is dew... and where were you?
While I... I died and where were you?
I crawled out of the world And you said I shouldn't stay.
I fell into the moon. Can I make it right? Can I spend the night?


Vampires! In Venice! Don't expect much more than that, ladies and gents.

I'm not saying that this story is creatively barren or anything like that. It's thoroughly enjoyable, perhaps even comforting in a way - and the British seemingly need all the comfort they can get when Sparacus' latest Ben Chatham election special seemingly destroyed parliamentry democracy forever. This is comfort food Doctor Who, full of stuff that evokes nostalgia even though it's not a straightforward remake, and it's being done by someone who likes the cast to have slightly more personality than the toy action figures Gatiss instinctively goes for.

I mean, seriously. Doctor Who fights vampires in Venice. It boggles the mind they haven't done that one already - bar the obligatory canal scenes, how the hell has Doctor Who managed thirty-one seasons on television and NOT had the TARDIS arrive in a historical city full of operatic nutters, mad cults and wobbly sets? True, the First, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors hung around the city, but they were on books and audio! People would be inclined to consider RTD's Casanova as a Doctor Who spin off without the Cockney lethario time traveller central character, if only for the setting with lots of backstreets, corridors, palatial ballrooms... hell, you could make Venice the new UNIT-era-style base camp for all the potential stories to be told!

And VAMPIRES! The Doctor should be fighting vampires all the time! Not analogies like Cybermen, or just thing-what-happen-to-drink-blood like Plasamavores, but proper vampires! Fear-the-sun-no-garlic-please-bite-your-throat bastards of the undead! It's taken over forty years - FORTY LONG YEARS - for a scene where the Doctor notices his emo enemies have no reflections, for a plot point of a vamp lusting after the companion, for neck injuries and puncture wounds! Proper vampires! I mean, Curse of Fenric and State of Decay came close but their vampires were toxic-plague-zombies and extra-dimensional giant bat mutants respectively!

The gut instinct when watching The Vampires of Venice is to compare it to this non-existent story it's ripping off... Um... Masque of Mandragora? Nope, like Rememberance of the Daleks, it gives you a story you've not had before yet giving the feeling you've watched it a hundred times previously (surely everyone remembers UNIT fighting warring Daleks in swinging 60s London? Hang on...)

So we've got an exclusive school where the teachers are monsters and the students turn evil, a father desperate to save his daughter and driven to near suicide, self-sacrifice, explosions, a dying race rebuilding itself using Earth's population, psychic paper, story arcs... It's distilled from every source. Sure, I concede people might want more hardcore originality rather than a story that makes me think "hmm, one day, there's going to be The Eleventh Doctor Handbook and they're going to need a very typical story to do in the ScriptoScreen section, this could be it!" like The Long Game or 42. This is definitely the first story of the season without a "Tennant's gone, get used to it" vibe (ironic as his Casanova gets namechecked, and they'd probably have brought him back if DT wasn't too busy), this is a story that has left the world of RTD behind - give or take psychic paper.

Even Sparacus declares it "average NuWho fare"... before giving it 5/5. Talk about dumbing down!

The story gets off to a surreal start as the Doctor raises the moral standards of the show by preventing us seeing Lucie Miller in a bikini jumping out of a wedding cake, and then sternly reminds the audience that Amy's raw lust is not suitable for viewers of a repressed nature. Before sending the plot to Venice where the monsters are all teenage girls in dresses cut so low even the Doctor is compelled to comment on how buxom the undead are as they try to scratch his face off. Before getting Amy into a similar outfit and letting the other vampire girls suck her neck.

You'd never suspect a straight bloke was in charge now, eh?

Like his previous works School Reunion and Greeks Bearing Gifts, Toby Whithouse is more interested in the relationships of characters rather than the mechanics of monsters (though have no fear that the Vampires are wasted like the Krillitanes were, since Moff's "TRAUMATIZE ALL CHILDREN!" agenda ensures they get a good slice of screen time). So, the Doctor is determined to fix Rory's and Amy's relationship - with much entertaining discussion on what caused Amy to try to jump the Time Lord's bones. Was it a simple "I'm not dead let's have sex" moment? Does she find the Eleventh Doctor more attractive than Rory? Is Amy just a loony? The Doctor is of the opinion that Amy has been slightly desensitized by seeing the universe, and thus decides to widen Rory's horizons so he and his beloved are on the same playing field. Oh, and Rory's VERY upset Amy kissed the Doctor, rather odd for a girl who used to do that as a job description. So, definitely "kissogram" is a euphemism to keep Annette Crosbie happy.

And so Rory becomes the new companion, the Ben to Amy's Polly and accompanying an insane anarchist in a bow-tie. Like Ben, he's the Only Sane Man as his hot and very tall girl is more on wavelength with a madman who likes winding him up. But there's some Mickey Smith in there too - not only does the Doctor initially consider him unworthy of Amy's hand in marriage, Rory's been reading up on events since he last met the Doctor. He's also rubbish at a fight, not quite as brave as cliches demand, and somehow everyone assumes his lady is banging the Doctor. Nevertheless, Rory works as he's clearly capable in dealing with time travel and monsters, and able to put the Doctor in his place. It's an interesting dynamic with both the Doctor and Rory trying to steer Amy's wanton affections onto the man she's marrying in 530 years time... not that the Doctor's told anyone the universe ends on their wedding day... he's getting as secretive as Amy...

Anyway, the Doctor takes Amy and Rory on a date to the Venetian renaissance so they can come to terms with how TARDIS travel "blots out everything ordinary", and soon becomes interested in the fact the city is quarantined from a non-existent plague and vampires are prowling the alleys and preying on flower-sellers (but not chickens obviously). The vampires have access to perception filters, so that's presumably why none of the natives notice the police box filling up half the street when it materializes right in front of them... or maybe the TARDIS's own perception filter is cranked up to eleven... or maybe Venetians are just stoned.

Despite his initial belief the Doctor needed companions, this new bloke is relearning the lesson they might be more trouble than they're worth - and as Rory points out, he inspires people to such a degree that they will take suicidal risks so as not to let him down. "This is how it happens," the Doctor scowls when Amy comes up with a predictable plan to infiltrate the teenage lesbian vampire alliance. "This is how they go!" By the end, the Doctor's sending the love birds back to the TARDIS and solving problems on his own.

One could complain that the alien's scheme is some kind of unintentional anti-asylum seeker parable, with the titular vampires fleeing the cracks in time and needing fertile young Italian schoolgirls to propogate their species. Mind you, both sides get their chance to argue and while the Doctor instinctively grimaces ("think of the children!"), he only opposes it when the vampires decide to save their species at the needless cost of humanity, and has even has the villains admit they were wrong. And considering how anti-vampire the Doctor is on sheer principle, this is very much a story of compromise and tolerance.

And vampires. IN VENICE!

Hah! I love this show.

Next Time: Amy's Choice
"If you die in the dream, you wake up in reality. Ask me what happens if you die in reality."
"What happens?"
" die, stupid. It's why it's called 'reality'!"

The Doctor and companions are left baffled as to what's real and what's not as the freezing TARDIS is threatened with destruction. Which happy ending are they going to choose? ...hang on. Didn't I write this one with the Tenth Doctor and Donna?


Monday, May 3, 2010

Doctor Who - Stoner Madness


But, oh, hark! Do you a hear a voice
Like velvet through the night sky?
Do you hear the fickle hand
Of fate at my side?
And all those that god has sinned
With hope in his stride?

And watch out!
Watch for them camouflaged
And crouched in the shadows!
Though they couldn't hold
A candle up to you!
But they stand as tall as you
In broad daylight too!
Oh, hark!

It's not surprise that Mad Larry Miles has abandoned Doctor Who forever. After all, he considers the showrunner a Scottish antichrist who purposely and vindictively took over the show specifically to make Larry's life hell (he actually FORCED Larry at gunpoint to become a mysanthropic chubby-chasing alcoholic, you know) and even the Faction Paradox fanclub - the hardcore nutters who refer to the show as Evil Renegade - prefer the output to anything Miles has offered up of late.

And then this! 100 minutes of Un-Leaded Hard-Core F-U Larry Fetish Fuel! A horribly young Doctor! A contemporary companion! River Song! Armed soldiers! And worst of all, the monsters of the piece were the Weeping Angels! The villains that Miles was convinced he could "piss in his sleep" who just happen to require large number of teenage girls in underwear and bodypaint! Even Larry couldn't deny that he was being driven mad by envy, and abandoned his blog altogether so he could tweet about stuff that amused him.

And of course the brilliance is that this becomes the first two-part Moff story I like! Let joy be unconfined! He finally comes up trumps - and just when he stops being the guy who drops round on weekends who no one ever critiques his scripts out of hero worship! A coincidence? I think not!

It's a widely-held belief that sequels generally suck and the definite exception to this rule is the film Aliens. And how did they manage that? Well, Alien was - sci-fi-horror trappings aside - a basic slasher film with a bunch of clueless bystanders being hunted by an unstoppable killing machine. The sequel could have simply done the "different cast, same threat" and turned out like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. But what does this sequel do? It's not a bunch of fairly-innocent monster fodder stumbling across the threat, it's a bunch of heavily-armed technologically superior bastard sent there specifically to slaughter every last one of the mofos using the expert testimony of the previous films. And then it's not just one alien, it's thousands of them - and not naive newborn chestbusters, but veterans who work together under their big bad queen. The stakes are raised and all the goalposts shifted!

And maybe that's why Moff has gone for a very Aliens vibe - expect the marines are militant monks, the aliens are the Weeping Angels and Ripley is River Song. Still, it works, doesn't it? And with spaceships full of plants, monsters in caves, illusionary threats, returning aliens, there's a real Season 19 vibe to this. Even in Time-Flight, where arguably the best moment is the Doctor musing Heathrow isn't real because "to be is to be percieved", seems an influence.

The Weeping Angels seemed best left as a one-hit wonder, but Moffat thankfully has something else to say with them, and also surreptituously manages to justify some of the gaps in Blink. Who threw that stone at Sally? The Angels. Why? Apparently they're evil sadistic sons of bitches. Why should we be scared of statues that don't look like Angels? Because Angels don't always look like Angels.

It turns out the gang in Blink were desperate scavengers, barely able to do much beyond eating people's future - but that's why they needed the TARDIS, to supercharge themselves up to full power. And this story begins with one such Angel getting caught in such an explosion and (re)gains some freaky powers - the ability to voodoo any image of itself into another angel; ripping out people's cerebral cortexes to use as a puppet; turning other people into statues; laughing; flying...

When the Doctor rants in part one that the Weeping Angels are the biggest baddest thing ever (apart from the Daleks, natch), it actually feels like he's got reason to be worried unlike with Vashta Nerada where he spent most of the story jumping up and down and screaming at people to be scared. Odd how Moff seems to have two modes when it comes to aliens - either the Doctor's never heard of them or they're the things that give him nightmares...

Some fans actually complained at the sequence where a blinded Amy has to bluff her way past a group of Angels - since, you know, she can't see them, why are they stone? Well, even APART from the Doctor's explanation that the Angels are in a blind panic and working on pure instinct, if you think about it, it's a very loose definition of what turns them to stone. I mean, "observed"? Does that include hearing, smell, knowledge that they're there? It's like people bitching about Churchill not listening to the Doctor in the previous story. They focus on the ONE thing that's explained in the plot and not on the gaping problems around it...

And River Song returns. Moff has revealed... or maybe just admitted... that Silence in the Library was a bit half-arsed from his point of view, what with juggling six different projects all at once, and has determined to do RS justice this time round. Certainly, she seems not half as annoying as she was previously, if only because she is here presented as wild and untrustworthy rather than the "supposed-to-be-intelligent" gormless idiot she becomes. The story doesn't shy from the fact she is a selfish, unreliable bitch who is more trouble than she's worth. It's not so much she is assumed to be the Doctor's wife because of how he treats her, but how she treats him - with a lack of reverence bordering on contempt. This, coupled with the blatant "she's from the future and the Doctor hates knowing the future" business (which she sadistically delights in pointing out at every opportunity), makes her more rounded. As Chris Boucher and Joss Whedon proved, you don't need a character to be likeable, just interesting. And as the Doctor angrilly demonstrates, for someone who's apparently destined to be more important to him than Donna Noble, she's doing a completely shithouse job!

Kudos too to Moff for his kicking-into-gear of the story arc, speeding up the usual shennanegans to a speed comparable to the new Robin Hood. The cracks in time are noticed, the Doctor seems to have an inkling what's happening, Amy's amnesia is compared to the (complete lack of) fallout of the Cyberking, Amy's wedding is revealed, the Pandorica is explained (or, at least, why the Doctor didn't give a shit when Prisoner Zero went on and on about it) and the story cliffhangers smoothly into the Venetian Vampire tale. This is coupled with a nice little mention that the Tenth Doctor met RS again between SIL and EOT - presumably brooding about Donna all the while - and also why RS expected him to know who she was but didn't know he was younger than "Babyface".

Points off, however, for a few gags in episode one. Not that they weren't funny, but the gag that the TARDIS only wheezes and groans because the handbrake is left on bugs me for several reasons

a) we see the Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Doctor release the handbrake and there's still noise
b) so, every Time Lord ever also left the brakes on while using the TARDIS?
c) neither the sensible Romana nor Rani ever mentioned this?

The idea that the Doctor "keeps score" by using an asteroid museum as a "trophy room" also annoys, as he has never done anything remotely similar before or since and as an excuse for some repeated gags, they're not THAT impressive, are they?

Not really a criticism... I think... but my brain was clearly working SLIGHTLY too fast for Moffat in this story. When the Doctor notes there is no picture of the Angel in the book, it was instantly obvious to me what was going to happen to the recording - likewise the "doorways" stuff immediately told me what was going to happen to Amy. It got a bit embarrassing since (as I was still smarting from the logic breakdowns of Gatiss) that I mocked the maze for its one-headed statues when they should all look like Zaphod Beeblebrox... only for that to turn out to be a whacking great plot point and the characters were furious with themselves for not spotting it. The cliffhanger was a bit obvious too, since shooting something called a "gravity globe" and then jumping DID hint how to get out of it (mind you, after the dancing Graham Norton, I wasn't entirely sure what the hell was happening anyway...) Apparently there's some malarkey about the Doctor's jacket, but I can't swear to it, and it's not impossible he could have snatched it from some angel at some point, probably stuffing it into his transdimensional pockets at various moments when the plot requires.

It really does boggle the mind to think that this was the first story filmed, given how established the leads are. You wouldn't think they hadn't so much as been on the TARDIS set before this ep, let alone missed the last three stories. The Doctor continues his traditional newborn loss of innocence as he fails to save people, needs to sacrifice himself from the greater good, and discovers another motherfucking story arc infesting his life. His violent mood swings are really quite scary, and am I the only one reminded of Mr. Hyde promising to "take his time" with the K&U soldiers when the Doctor vows to hold the troopers "personally responsible - twice" if anything happens to his friend?

Meanwhile, Amy's own journey continues. Her secrecy gets her in trouble when she refuses to tell anyone what's wrong, she shows more hints of a death wish, and there's a hint that she's gone stark staring bonkers at the end of the story... which, admittedly, begs the question of how sane she was in the first place given her psychiatric history, enjoyment of criminal activities like pick-pocketing, lock-picking and well she must have found out she was good at being a stripper SOMEHOW...

As for the epic finale scene where she tries to jump the Doctor's Time Lord bones was, I'll be blunt, uncomfortable viewing. While it's true the content was no worse than the average sitcom, it was the equivalent of the companion stripping naked and screaming "JUST FUCK ME ALREADY!" at the hero. And not in a Charles Daniels sort of way either. I mean, yes, she's a horny teenager who has fallen in lust with the Doctor, has commitment issues and is very much in the "by-the-ass-crack-of-the-infinite-I-nearly-freaking-died-must-instinctively-reproduce-stat!" mood PLUS this is only after a story that strongly hints he has a sex life...

...still felt wrong though.

I mean, compare to the scene in The Runaway Bride where Lance tells Donna she's so crap at sex he would rather shag a giant spider. A lot more subtle and with a kind of innocent double entendre (one could imagine many parents telling their kids that Donna simply snored loudly), but if anyone can find some other way to describe Amy, sprawled legs akimbo on her bed, huskily begging the Doctor to "sort her out" on the logic that after 907 years the Time Lord must be gagging for a shag... well, frankly, I'd like to hear what this other explanation is.


Thankfully, the Doctor's reaction - a combinination of "this is pedophiliac bestiality" and "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?" - balances it out rather. It certainly ends up more wholesome than the Silver Cloak molesting him en masse. Hmmm. For some reason, my mind's gone a blank after that scene. It's probably fair to say that Matt Smith said "God, I love this job" in rehearsals though, especially when Karen Gillan got a bit TOO frisky (all of this thankfully kept on Confidential for those adult-only DVD extras Spara is always on about).

So yeah, this story was good. It continues the high standards, and has helped reinforce what useless dickheads Mad Larry and Thomas Cookson are in their reactions to the show. I need never be troubled that they were right again. I mean, we actually get to see what the Angels are like when no one's looking...

...and they're not crap.

Oh yeah. Good stuff.

Next: The Vampires of Venice
"Scary pale girls who don't like the sunlight..."
The Doctor's sex therapist skills are put to the test as he takes Amy and Rory to the Venetian renaissance and tries to get her bonking someone who isn't him. This predictably ends up with Amy offering herself as a vestal virgin to a bunch of hot teenage lesbian vampire girls. HAH! Where is your "gay agenda" now, old man?!