26 November 2023

RTD is back, for good and for ill (Review: 'Doctor Who', "The Star Beast")

  • Having a snazzy Marvel-esque introduction sequence is a bit odd. It's even odder when you know that the Doctor is a Marvel character by virtue of Doctor Who Magazine having been published by Marvel's UK arm - including the 1980 comic this is an adaptation of!
  • The title sequence is showing the increased budget that Disney are bringing to the show. It looks spectacular and the new theme is a grower.
  • David Tennant has stepped back into the role like he never went away. Of course, he's done Big Finish audio dramas - with Catherine Tate as well - but that's different to a full physical performance.
  • Catherine Tate as Donna Noble is a companion you don't forget in a hurry. She's got a big personality, a very expressive face, and a gift for reactions. Her relationship to the Doctor is more a friendship one rather than a potential lover one, like Thirteen and Yaz.
  • The resolution of Donna's metacrisis issue was very RTD in style. See "The Last of the Time Lords" for one of the more egregious examples of resolving a plot issue.
  • Yasmine Finney as Rose does a particularly good job - there's a great character that really deserves some appearances in audio, because I doubt she'll be getting many in live-action.
  • 56 scientific advisors? That sounds like an alarmingly high turnover rate, like Spın̈al Tap's drummers.
  • Plenty of good gags here, including the psychic paper not updating for the Doctor now being male presenting.
  • We've not got any "regeneration crisis" stuff this time - there's already been a comics story with the Daleks that is "canon" as far as you can get here. It wasn't needed in any event. If we get it with Fifteen, it shouldn't be too long.
  • Beep the Meep is an adorable villain, but I had more fun with one in Star Trek: Lower Decks.

A highly enjoyable story that while not the best story for a new fan to jump on, proves to be a pleasing 60th anniversary tale.


23 November 2023

60 Years of Doctor Who

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who. In terms of longevity and impact on science fiction, only the Star Trek franchise beats it.

I haven't seen all the available episodes, but they are all now on iPlayer. I also intend to watch the colour version of "The Daleks", although probably tomorrow. 

Then we have three specials over the next three Saturdays with David Tennant. I will try to watch those as close to live as possible and hopefully review them here.

Many happy returns to a great show!

21 November 2023

Let's Make MST3K Season 14

In case you're not aware, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is crowdfunding for a 14th season.

It's one of my favourite shows, but it's going to be a challenge to get the money, so they need all the help they can get. Otherwise, there might not be a new season or they'll need corporate backers that might restrict their jokes.

Please take a look and hopefully you'll back it.

13 November 2023

That kiss is a lot darker than people seem to remember (Review: 'Star Trek' 3.10, "Plato's Stepchildren)

  • That is one clumsy bit of opening exposition. Oof.
  • The cold open is badly rushed.
  • Having the big shadow turn out to be a dwarf is well... I wasn't entirely comfortable with it. Alexander is a good character though.
  • Psychokinetic delirium is a good concept.
  • Kirk's statement about Starfleet's views on equality would have resonated particularly strongly at this time, with the backdrop of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination and the election of the bigoted Richard Nixon earlier in November 1968.
  • This plot wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Lower Decks, but there's a strong element of horror to the story as well. In fact, it was not aired in the UK until 1993 because of the torture elements in the story.
  • The wire handlers must have had a field day. Which reminds me, I need to ask a question on Reddit...
  • Lot of hamming it up here, even by TOS standards. The cast also get to show off their dancing and singing skills.
  • This was not the first interracial kiss on American television. It wasn't even Shatner's first interracial kiss on television. That said, we barely see any lip contact, with the story cutting away very quickly. There's a whole long discussion about that which you can find on Wikipedia. Also, it's not consensual for either party.
  • How powerful Parmen actually is varies - sometimes he can control multiple people, sometimes he has difficulty controlling one. Also, how does a population of 38 not suffer massive inbreeding problems.

A good overall episode, but there are some logical problems. It does have some memorable moments as well.


12 November 2023

Walking update

Unfortunately, my plan to do Sections 18 and 19 of the London Loop back on 27 October got frustrated by a tree coming down on the overhead wires at Clapton, followed by weather warnings. I'm not going to walk in a torrential downpour, it's not fun and it's actually dangerous.

So, with the light and the weather against me, it will likely be February before I can resume this. Maybe March.

11 November 2023

Armistice Day 2023

Today marks the 105th anniversary of the end of the fighting in the First World War, with the Armistice at Compiègne resulting in a ceasefire, followed by the Treaty of Versailles the following year.

Events in Gaza and Ukraine in particular have reminded us that war is about destruction. It means the loss of people's homes and businesses, loss of power, food and water. It means unexploded ordnance turning up decades later and entire communities ceasing to exist as anything but memories or photographs.

Most importantly, it means the loss of people's lives, military and civilian alike. Not that the distinction makes much of a difference to the people left behind and the people themselves. Everyone suffers in war, where morality erodes all too quickly in the name of "victory", whatever that is.

We have seen all too well what happens when other people are treated as less than us and we will sadly see yet more of it. All I and others can do is work to reduce the suffering.

We will remember them.

30 October 2023

Bottle Episode of Ham (Review: 'Star Trek' 3.9, "The Tholian Web")

  • Star Trek had two dedicated studios for its use at Desilu's studios - Stage 9 and Stage 10, now Paramount Stages 31 and 32. Stage 9 was used for the Enterprise sets, with Stage 10 used for off-ship scenes. This one used Stage 9 pretty much entirely entirely.
  • This is very clearly a budget-saving episode, albeit one with a fairly large number of extras - the most ship personnel in one scene in fact for TOS. The Defiant is clearly a redressed Enterprise bridge, the interior only seen in one scene.
  • They seem to have missed a bit explaining why the transporter went down in the first place.
  • Chekov's screaming is particularly memorable, that's for sure.
  • DeForest Kelley does very good anger.
  • Why did they not believe Uhura when she saw Kirk? Are they stupid?
  • As Memory Alpha has pointed out, this is not Starfleet's first mutiny. It's not even the first TOS mutiny.
  • The environment suits from this actually look pretty decent, although were apparently a real problem when it came to bodily functions. But "MC COY" with a space in the middle.
  • The effects on this episode got the show an Emmy nomination. That rather shows how far the VFX industry has come since 1968.
  • The Tholian ship comes in rather too slowly for something flying at half the speed of light.
  • Injecting someone through a spacesuit? That doesn't seem like it would work.

It's a bottle episode, sure, but sometimes those can be among the best a show does. I wouldn't say it's one of the best Star Trek episodes, but it's still pretty good.