Sunday, June 29, 2014

B7 - Drink Till You're Drunk

Still, on the plus side - Lawrence Miles blames Moffat for his alcoholism.

Me? I at least can blame being shown Blake's 7 at a formative age. Even if the ending didn't drive you to drink, 52 episodes of people knocking back the sauce is bound to rub off on you...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Doctor Who: Gone Off The Boil

Apparently the new series of Doctor Who starts in a couple of months time.

I say "apparently" deliberately. And also accurately.

No date has been confirmed. Or titles. Or writers. Or indeed, most of the cast. The official announcements about this new season could be crammed into a postage stamp, and with plenty of space to fill all the unconfirmed reports. Apart from a few vague mentions that this new season is going to be different, we know as much about Capaldi's debut year as we did back in 2005. Hell, I knew more about the plot of Paul McGann's TV movie before it was screened back in 1996 than I do about anything coming up.

Now, this is arguably a good thing. Moffat detests spoilers, of course, and the last time he tried to actually engage with the media ala RTD, he came up with a story arc that satisfied absolutely no one (even his own children were apparently underwhelmed by the same plot twists adult TV reviewers hemmoraged trying to understand). So many this complete silence hides lots of surprises and awesomeness. Or maybe there's just nothing worth talking about, as he has organised a world tour of Capaldi and Coleman prior to the first episode which will no doubt be the most awkward Q&A ever.

"So, Pete, what's your favorite episode so far?"
"Can't tell you."
"OK. Any monsters you want to fight?"
"Can't tell you."
"Any hopes to do another spin-off?"
"Can't tell you."
"What can you tell us?"
"Fuck all. This over yet?"

As is often the case, I tend to go from "panting bitch-crazed eagerness to see the new show" to "total brain-destroyed apathy bordering on contempt" in the run up to a new season. It's peversely hilarious to read my "oh, god, what is this point of this?!?!" about Partners in Time - until the bit where the Doctor and Donna meet and Season 4 immediately changed from sub-average mediorcity to one of the best seasons ever.

My rejection of Seasons 6a and 6b were something of a different matter. After a two episode skit show that had wasted most of its budget and plot on two pre-credit sequences simply to make trailers for more interesting stories (Cavaliers! Nazis! Area 51!), the clear statement that we were getting a DVD boxset season that demanded total commitment for stuff that really wasn't worth it put off not only me but so many others Moff quite rightly realized his hubris was being punished and pulled his freaking finger out.

But this is different.

You remember that truly deranged, drug-fueled, seemingly-designed-to-put-any-viewer-off-DW 3D trailer where the Doctor and Amy get sucked under a hillside and the Doctor grabs Amy's boobs before tearing a Weeping Angel apart with his bare hands before this all turns out to be a dream?

Yeah, wierd, wasn't it? You can imagine Moff deciding never to do an RTD-style 'mini-episode trailer' ever again, which is presumably why any trailers are just standard clipshows of upcoming eps rather than anything deeper (ironically, the BBCAmerica trailer for The Impossible Astronaut managed to be better both than this trailer and the episode itself, with Matt Smith striding through the wastes of Utah telling the audience he had found his way to pre-revolutionary Paris and Amy trying to break the news to him gently...)

What is the media bustle we've got for the Capaldi season?

Three seconds of flickering Capaldi-in-silhouette-against-a-TARDIS-console-exploding.

And that's it.

DeviantArt would not accept something that thin and conceptually empty. I mean, "Capaldi in silhouette"? What the fuck is that about? Why can't we see his face? Or do anything? 'Old man stands still and does fuck all as things catch fire' does not really grab anyone's imagination, does it?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not fussed about an older Doctor. I don't think Capaldi's a bad actor (did anyone ever sit down before Fires of Pompeii and Children of Earth and think "Oh, no, that Scottish twit is in this! It is going to be crap!"?) but I've seen him do too many things. I've seen him as the drunken time traveler in Alexei Sayle's All New Alexei Sayle 2, or the punching-below-his-weight love interest in the Vicar of Dibley, and a whole range of poor, blood-drained emotional wrecks from The Hour to Accused. And, of course, Malcolm "the Fucker" Tucker.

In fact, I've seen so many of his characters I have the uneasy idea he won't surprise me in the role. In fact, none of what I've seen of the Twelfth... er, Thirteenth, er, Fourteenth-and-a-Half... no, wait, the First Two Point Oh Doctor does not impress me. Dressed in an uncomfortably-tight-looking tuxedo and fixed in a variety of rigid poses suggesting he's in the opening credits of either The Avengers or Charlie's Angels.

This, coupled with the IDW's logo choices suggests we're getting Pertwee all over again.

And this does not work for me.

I mean, yes, I love the Third Doctor, but he's the one I love least bar perhaps TV Colin Baker. He's a patronising jerk who's not much fun to be around (though clearly this was not true on Jon Pertwee himself) and he's somehow able to be so infantile and immature that even when he's heckling a scientist suggesting all criminals be lobotomized and turned into human slaves, it's poor Kettering you feel sorry for when this bully starts screaming at him. (Also, sparacus' fetishism has destroyed my tolerance for him, along with Adam Rickitt who really IS a decent actor and David Bowie who, er, might have redeeming features.)

Yet the more I think about it, the tiny scraps there are of what CapaldiDoc is up to seem to be a completely different show. There's the TARDIS, Clara, the Pasternoster Row Gang and maybe the old Sanctuary Base 6 spacesuit, but there doesn't seem to be anything really to link it to the last series. It's being made as a completely new show, one we're being kept in the dark about it, and Moffat's hinting that the thousand years protecting Christmas on Trenzalore mean the Doctor is a completely different individual - Barnable and Handles were his companions longer than anyone in the classic series, and he saw them all grow old and die over and over again. This is about as close as Moffat will go to rebooting the character.

At the same time, I find myself thinking that The Time of the Doctor was as much a finale to Doctor Who as it was to Matt Smith. What stories are there left that need to be told? The Time Lords finally reward their prodigal son, and deliberately choose to take "non-intervention" to the next level, finally choosing others' interests above their own. The Doctor blows up the last of the Daleks simply by being alive, and then wanders off amnesiac in a time machine he can't control with a Coal Hill School teacher.

People, this is a better way to end the show than Eric Saward or Robert Holmes ever tried to.

Had the show ended last Christmas, it would have ended with more closure than either Torchwood, Robin Hood or even The Sarah Jane Adventures. Do I consider Robin Hood a DW-spin-off? A clue: yes. Now, I hate to sound all Tom Cookson. I'm not saying I wish TOTD was the last story ever, or that everything beyond it never will have existed. Just that it FEELS like it does.

So, there we are.

There's a new show by Steven Moffat, a sci-fi gig with Peter Capaldi that will probably be up there with Jekyll and Sherlock or Spooks or Jonathan Creek. I'm sure it'll be a satisfying stand-in for Doctor Who, but we all know it'll never truly be the same...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

RIP Rik Mayall 1957-2014

Richie Rich has joined Jumbo Whiffy in the afterlife.

Thankfully, Rik prepared his catch-all obituary back in 1982. Smart guy.

RICK: Right. Hands up, who likes me!
[Rick throws both arms into the air, while the other three guys drop their hands to the floor]

RICK: DAMN! Right, that's it, I'm going to kill myself.
[He removes his belt]

RICK: Then you'll be sorry!
VYVYAN: No, we won't.
[Rips the tenner in half and gives one half to Mike]
 [Rick has the belt around his neck and has climbed upon a chair. He is trying unsuccessfully to attach his noose to the ceiling]
RICK: I feel sorry for you, you zeros, you nobodies. What's going to live on after you die? I'll tell you -- nothing, that's what!
[Exasperated, Rick gives up on hanging himself and jumps down from the chair. He grabs a large bottle of pills, shows it to the others, and starts stuffing pills into his mouth]
NEIL: [sotto voce to Vyvyan] Vyv, Vyv, uh, can you, like, actually kill yourself with laxative pills?
VYVYAN: I don't know, Neil, but I'm going to stay and find out.
NEIL: I think I'm going up to my room for a bit...
[Runs upstairs, head down. Rick swallows some more pills defiantly at Neil's back.]
RICK: This house will become a shrine! And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather round and all hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader! And all the grown-ups will say, "But why are the kids crying?" And the kids will say, "Haven't you heard? Rick is dead! The People's Poet is dead!"
[Vyv starts hanging around looking expectantly at Rick's bum]
RICK: And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, "Why kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?" Then another kid will say...

[Rick emits a long, loud fart].
[The camera zooms in suddenly on a box of matches on a shelf]
BOX: Don't look at me, I'm irrelevant.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Typical Frigging DWM Bias!

Well, the DWM polls are out with The Day of the Doctor being dubbed the best story so far and The Twin Dilemma the worst (which almost feels like tradition rather than any real ill-will nowadays). Now, as the man who rewrote the bloody thing, I know it has problems. The argument that it was the mortal blow to 20th Century Who is impossible to argue with.

But, let's be serious here.

Is The Twin Dilemma worse than Night Terrors?


The Twin Dilemma at least has a multitude of plot ideas (the mad Doctor, the kidnapping of twins, Hugo's quest, Azmael's redemption and whateverthefuck Mestor's up to), some genuinely scary moments (the strangling, the desolation of Joconda, the thief who begs to be shot before Mestor makes his blood boil in his veins, Drak being lobotomized because it's more fun than CCTV), some brilliant comedy ("You're the Chamberlain! I don't like you. Do you have fowlpest?") and a decent central premise.

Night Terrors meanwhile is just a remake of one of the least popular Tennant episodes except with twice the misogyny - all the women are stupid morons who don't deserve the slightest say in how their lives are lead, even if their own child is suffering a nervous breakdown. The characterization is so godshite awful that the evil landlord comes across as more sympathetic than Rory fucking Williams. The nadir of comedy in The Twin Dilemma is Peri reduced to inarticulate vomit noises at the Doctor's coat, but that's still better than Daniel Mays' brain-blown idea that the alien in the bowtie might not be from social services.

People can go to town on the "moving planets" stuff by Mestor but no one, even the clinically-insane Doctor, does anything as stupid as Amy's "Hey, let's let the monsters attack us - that's the last thing they'll be expecting!" gambit which ironically central to the rest of the plot. We're supposed to be horrified and uncomfortable when the Doctor starts trying to kill his enemies on Jaconda, but despite knowing the peg-dolls are unwilling victims he still tries to skewer them with giant scissors and that's meant to be OK. EVEN WHEN ONE OF THEM WAS AMY FOR FUCK'S SAKE!

The Sixth Doctor vowed to become a hermit to make sure he never hurt Peri again.

The Eleventh makes jokes that she's so stupid her might as well be made of wood.

Quite frankly, I can't articulate my disgust for this absolution of Gattis over Stevens/Saward.

Oh, what would a degree-bearing Colchester history teacher say in my position?

Yes it is just their opinion however when those opinions are so blatantly lacking in basic sense then they can be questioned. I notice that 'Night Terrors' did quite well for example, a dreadful episode which is a rancid, puss-oozing zit on the obese backside of the whovian canon. Crazy

I am a sane voice in an insane world.

I suggest that you read some R.D Laing. Objective truth. 

Um. Thanks, spara.

(NOTE: the sparaquote has been mercilessly edited by changing the episode title. He actually said all that verbatim about "The Eleventh Hour". Long live the British Empire.)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Blake's 7: Lucifer II Tarial Cell Boogaloo

Yes, Paul Darrow's latest trilogy of "crazy shit he types for the sheer hell of it there can be no other explanation dear god please let that be why" Blake's 7 sequel continues.

Now, when we last saw Avon in Lucifer, he was on the run with a redesigned and above all chronically-depressed Orac from the evil and incredibly non-racial-stereotyped Orientals. Why? Because... er... well, mainly because everyone else was dead. Blake, Servalan, the Scorpio crew, the Terran Federation pretty much absolutely everyone and anything that might have made you want to find out what happened next has been discarded with less ceremony than flushing a toilet. Left with a near-mute, self-destructive and charisma-bypassed Avon finally getting off his arse for the first time in fifty years, I dunno what would make anyone want to read more.

Apart from those people who need their "Paul Darrow blows up helicopters with pump-action shotgun" fix, which as we all know, is more addictive than meth ampetamine.


Lucifer: Revelation.

I started reading and then spluttered to a halt before I finished the second page when I reached...

"After an encounter with a stunningly beautiful young Slavic woman, Cougar ventured onto a balcony so that a gentle breeze might cool his hot blood. The young woman, Alexandra, followed him and embraced him from behind. Thus entwined, they both enjoyed the caressing breeze and Raoul, once again experiencing a stirring in his loins, purred with contentment."

Considering this was the first thing NOT involving a potted history of the evil Cougar (wtf is up with these names, Darrow?) and how this hitherto-unmentioned arch enemy of Servalan went to the Empire of Cathay and turned all those slant-eyed wops into the new badass Federation as soon as they put down their chopsticks and opium pipes all of which is really important even though this entire backstory has been pulled out of where Avon used to keep his sonic screwdriver on cold days.

Christ on a bike.

Mohammed on a moped.

Bhudda in a blender.

Come on, man, you have to read this so better people won't have to.

OK. Gabrielle - Travis' very bitter daughter and acknowledged as a cutprice replacement for Servalan by all concerned - decides to hire a bounty hunter to kill Avon. She chooses a very boring and longwinded twat by the name of Solomon who luckily also has a vendetta against Avon, as his parents killed themselves in shame after he failed to defraud the bank they run. No-fist losers. Anyway, the rest of the Quartet (the useless jerks who rule the new regime from a retirement home and make Ben Chatham seem goal-oriented and passionate) are vaguely diverted by this, but apart from exchanging a few emails about how Gabrielle is "a stupid bitch" they stick to their well-defined abilities of doing absolutely fuck all while drinking champagne, the queen of wines. Well, that's what they call it. The fucking morons.

Meanwhile, Avon has discovered the spaceship he's stolen is a piece of crap. And its computer, I am George (yes, that's what the computer is called), could lose a debate with the Womp. And Orac basically seems to have gone mad from 20 years in a swamp and is basically yelling "Oh, grasshopper, you are so freaking screwed!" whenever Avon asks him for help. In desperation, Avon pulls that "hyperjump" bullshit from Barry Letts audio plays to escape Solomon, his pal Absolom, and also a completely different bounty hunter called Alexandra who is after Orac because the Alien Grey - I EXPLAINED THIS WITH THE LAST BOOK AND YES, IT'S AS RETARD NOW AS IT WAS THEN - told her he had it.

Avon's shitty spaceship lurches up at another floating island planet run by pirates. Elsewhere, it turns out Magda - Avon's live-in-lover - did not stupidly die in an easily-avoidable space accident and is alive and loose. Oh, and also she's now a hardcore killer space badass, which is an impressive reputation for someone who lived their entire life on an isolated asteroid not hurting anyone. Mind you, everyone seems to think Travis was some sainted figure who Avon cruelly murdered instead of the genocidal loonbag Avon shot in self defense and died of a completely different injury. I might forgive a bit of lax continuity, but when the retcons are less interesting than the real deal...

OK. The plot. Bounty hunters after Avon. Avon wants some fuel from a pirate. Avon has no money. But Orac has a plan - use some pump-action shotguns to kill some wildlife because the pirate is totally into that shit and Avon's all "The game's afoot, Orac!" because fuck knows I didn't have enough reasons to despise this book already. Avon meets pirate's wife and flirts. I am George electrocutes some pirates who try and break in while Orac goes on and on about what a fuckwit Avon is. Avon meets pirate's second wife and thinks she's ugly. He has a sophisticated dinner party with pirate and they talk about how cool pump-action shotguns are. Pirate's not-ugly wife wants to run off with Avon. Avon says yes, despite having known her for less time than it's taken me to write all this. Her name's Juno, by the by, but she's not half as charismatic than the unwed pipe-smoking Rolling-Stones-loving teenage mum from the movie of the same name. In fact, she's not half as charismatic as I am George.

So, Juno and Avon steal some fuel for the shitty spaceship. Alexandra's space ship attacks. Avon wants to use the onboard machine gun against a spaceship. Orac wonders what the fuck is wrong with Avon he thinks a pissy little Uzi is going to stop a battle cruiser. Oh, and he says Juno is a traitor because her wedding ring is a tracking device and, er, actually she's not a traitor. Avon goes on about how ugly Travis was but Gabrielle is well fit and gives him the raging horn. He decides to head for Earth, even though this is a very long-winded way of blowing his own brains out (and also makes me think of Darrow's first and much-better-written novel, Avon: A Terrible Aspect where Avon's self-pitying emo dad did the exactly the same thing and was consistantly dubbed a no-fist retarded moron for doing such a thing).

Solomon senses Avon's decision using the power of the force and is full of foreboding. Whatever.

Meanwhile, the Quartet patronize some Orientals who patronize them right the hell back in Mandarin, because their Cantonese is rusty. This goes on for more pages than could possibly be polite. One of them is Li Liang who was in the previous book and continues the method of being a more interesting and imaginative character than Avon, even though he's basically Horatio Hornblower in yellow face not saying much.

Only 130 pages to go. You can do this. You can fucking do this.

Juno wants to be dropped off on Mars. Avon drops her off. She threatens him with a pump-action shotgun, but Avon took the bullets out so she looks stupid. Chalking this down to experience, she leaves peacefully, but Avon blows her up with those fuel rods he so desperately needed at a distance. Orac once again reminds the audience that Avon is a complete fucking moron and the most boring serial killer ever. Avon goes to Earth. Solomon and his pal follow, with slightly less foreboding than the last paragraph they were in.

Oh god I forgot the eunuchs the Quartet employ instead of mutoids. I wonder why I forgot.

Meanwhile, Magda has teamed up with Del Grant and they fly spaceships and try not to get blown up and stuff. Madga suggests going to the Orientals and finding out where Avon and Orac are so they can help Del Grant's rebellion or some shit like that. Del Grant asks for a raincheck. Magda guesses "the Dragons" will destroy the Quartet and take over the galaxy, but cannot find a reason for the reader to give a damn about this development should it occur outside her crazy imagination. Del Grant yawns.

Avon reaches Earth and decides to have a face-to-face fight in the Arctic with some bounty hunters - you know, the way his stupid dad died and the reason his entire youth was wasted avenging the prick against his uncle in the exact same circumstances? Even if Darrow thinks no one will spot the similarities, it's still tedious as shit and Orac agrees with me. Avon is so stupid he needs to be told wearing black in the middle of a polar wilderness might make him a target. Christ, is Avon a Chris Lilly character all of a sudden?

It turns out Absolom and Solomon are waiting in the Arctic with a second-hand submarine to cause mischief, but foolishly don't expect Avon with the most powerful computer in the universe and a spaceship full of explosives to blow up said submarine. More forgivably, nor does Solomon expect Avon to try and kill himself of hypothermia by swimming unprotected through arctic waters with a bowie knife and chasing Absolom through the ice like that cursed voodoo tika doll from Trilogy from Terror and then stabbing the poor guy repeatedly till the snow runs red. Cause shooting the guy would be outrageous.

Avon flies off in his ship, and I am George points out that the shitty ship is rapidly running out of fuel and, oh, those pesky Orientals are after them again. Meanwhile in Beijing, capital city of Earth AND THE EMPIRE OF CATHAY!!!!, Li Liang tries to make a phone call without his naked paramor flouncing around the apartment trying to get him all hot and bothered. His pal, Fu Ti, emails I am George and asks Avon round to dinner and if he could, you know, act like a normal human being and not gut people like a fish. Avon agrees, but brings along two phials of rhinocerous semen on the off-change they might prove useful.

Elsewhere, Del Grant sprains his ankle and cries like a wuss.

Avon shags Li Liang's girlfriend. She actually thinks he's crap at sex. Fu Ti asks for him to help Del Grant fight the Quartet. Since his rino spunk of doom have proved completely useless to the ongoing plot, Avon is forced to agree. Grant and Magda are under siege from Federation letterbombs, with lots of leaflets being showered across the rebels being told "Yo, Surrendering Is Well Awesome, It Is!" because this is crueler than, um, doing something with even half a chance of successful. Avon arrives on some planet and finds some woman the bad guys have beaten, tortured, gang-raped and left a broken, suicidal wreck. So he shoots her. Because she totally asked him nicely and told him that Grant and Magda WEREN'T there.

Those Alien Grays turn up and offer to help up Del Grant and Magda, now lead by an alien whose name is an anagram of Ace Nigel. Which is what I will call him to prevent self-harm. Nigel explains they are willing to save Del Grant and Magda and then hand them over to Avon for Orac, and Nigel isn't convinced that Avon will mindlessly slaughter them with a pump-action shotgun like absolutely everyone else he's met since Gauda Prime. Mind you, as Nigel is from a race of aliens who could be outwitted by used teabags, this is actually consistent characterization for once in this benighted series.

Nigel contacts Avon who asks Orac for advice. Orac suggests blowing up I am George with the rino semen, ensuring the Alien Greys cannot control them. So Avon does that thing I just mentioned. He also mentions that Alexandra, Solomon and Absolom are all related and this is another fucking family revenge vendetta to deal with cause there simply aren't enough of them going around already today. Orac suggests they flee to the mysterious and oh-so-spooky-sounding planet called Abyss to lay a trap for everyone else. Orac notes that since Solo and Absol were all shithouse villains, the still-unseen Alexandra should be a pushover.

Meanwhile, Liang has a shitty afternoon answering fan mail so he shoots himself through the head and his body is fed to some aligators by some other Orientals who, needless to say, are all creepy bastards.

Alexandra arrives on Abyss and Avon effortlessly garottes the bitch without breaking stride. And then Del Grant finally turns up, having been locked up with Magda on her spaceship. For some reason. The three of them take off in Alexandra's space ship, being chased by the Orientals and Aliens in an orgy of grey-yellow cliche storm.Oh, and Magda threatens Avon with a gun to get Orac. The Aliens run away and the Orientals capture our, er, um... protagonists. Liang's girlfriend teams up with Avon and they set out to blow up the Base. You know, the dull-named warship where the Quartet spend their time contributing to the galactic supply of methane in lieu of anything worth reading about. Orac puts a dampener on things by revealing that the snog Avon got has left a tracking device implanted in his mouth and Orac uses open-mouth laser dentistry to remove it. Wow. Didn't see that coming.

Anyway, heading off on his own, Avon decides to steal MORE fuel from the exact same pirate planet he did at the start of the book, despite the fact that he and Orac agree it's a pretty pathetic and uninteresting plot development with a book constantly relying on Avon wasting petrol to stop him resolving the plot. So they steal a completely different ship (which surely has its own fuel?) to steal the fuel. Um. OK. They also avoid the Oriental ships, but given they're piloted by deaf-mutes who rely on lipreading, this isn't entirely a shock. Avon considers using Alexandra's antique guns to convince the pirate to part with the fuel... then just shoots the guy. Off-screen. Which is also where Madga and Del Grant have perished after being captured by the Quartet. And also Pandora Ess, leading some Uriah Heap backstabbing git called Adonis to take over as Supreme Commander of the inaccurately-named Quartet since on Gabbs is still alive. This results in a mass orgy with lots of eunuchs. And I honestly have no idea why.

Avon arrives and blows up the Iphegnia retirement home. Orac points out that, as none of the main characters were there, this entire fucking book has been a complete waste of time for all concerned.

The end.



Oh, if I gave a shit about any of this my brain would actually hurt.