Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Doctor 'inheriting' accents Tom Foolery-McLarkey

With the Tenth Doctor saying in the CiN special that he got his new Estuary accent from Rose during the regeneration, this seems to have opened up a new avenue of particularly odd thinking - with PMG's Doctor being given a Northern companion in the BBC7 series to explain Eccleston's Northern accent.

I was then thinking - why? Because, when you look back, it doesn't gel with the Doctor's previous regenerations...

1. Troughton should have spoken with a rough, seaman lingo. (Oddly enough, this could have become true if the character had been a 'Sinbad style pirate captain', as was seriously brain-stormed..)

2. Pertwee should have been Scottish, being surrounded for almost all of his prior incarnation with Mr James Robert McCrimmon - although Pertwee's RP accent could [I]maybe[/I] have come from Bernard Horsfall...

3. Tom Baker should have used a mildly-offensive cod-Tibetan accent after K'Anpo helped him through the regeneration. (Though, if you're desperate to ret-con the new trend, you could say he was influenced by The Brig's dulcet baritone...)

4. Peter Davison... well, take your pick of whiny, nasal voices.

5. Colin Baker, depending on whether the system relies on proximity at regeneration or cumulative time spent with a companion, should have spoken with either an Australian or American accent.

6. Sylvester McCoy should have had a voice that would make you want to punch in your telly. (this one's arguable..)

7. Paul McGann should have been American and disgustingly corny.

So, in short, the madness about the Doctor borrowing his vocal style of anyone with an equity standing around when he carks it, makes no sense whatsoever.

What this makes me ponder, though, is why on Earth BF created Lucie to go along with this theory. And no, I'm not bringing this up just because I've only mentioned the BBC7 audios a very small handfull of times and yet have managed to squeeze in some sort of reference to wanting to see Lucie killed brutally very soon. But it doesn't help.

The reference to the Doctor grabbing ahold of Rose's mockney, of course, originates from RTD being thoughtlessly pressured into a state of needing to write a CiN that was quite impossible to do sensibly.

1. Christopher Eccleston had burnt his bridges. Literally. He poured petrol along the entire London bridge and set it alight. He's a fucking nutter!

2. The new Doctor hadn't been introduced. All anyone knew was that he had new teeth, gurned, and played the lamest badguy ever in Harry Potter.

(If you missed it, here it is again:

"Give us a name, Karkaroff!"
"Erm... how about that tall guy who just walked in?"
"OH FUCK!"
*Tries to run away, fails*)

3. The Christmas Invasion started right after The Parting of the Ways. Like STRAIGHT after. Much less ambiguity than the end of The War Games (Which also had fuck all)

In addition to all this continuity bullshit that RTD had to work around, there's the fact that he wouldn't even be paid for this - y'know, charity stuff. So, really, he did what he could with a minimum of headache-inducing thought to continuity sensitivity - had the Doctor talk shit for five minutes.

Thus, the reason the Doctor says he got his accent from Rose, is precisely the same reason the Doctor developed acute psychic powers that allowed him to divine that Jack was alive and well, and delusions that made him think that a pampered, playboy con artist would be interested in/useful for rebuilding the Earth. Because it helped fill a page in the half hour or so RTD would have taken to write the stuff.

It's a worrying sign, though - is this the new path for BF? Explaining/expanding on every throw away line in the New Series that ain't quite right? If so - gawd help us.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Sense of Self-Importance (or Lack Thereof)

Today, I tried an experiment - I had no idea how people find individual blogs through Blogger, and, after quite a bit of looking around, found the BlogSearch button. I then decided to check out on what page this blog would show up if I searched for "Doctor Who".

I've no idea because about 2000 entries showed up and weren't sorted by anything.

So, I tried again, searching for the exact phrase "Doctor Who and the Pirates" which, of course, I had used recently in my Big Finish round up. Two entries.

I figured, "Wait a second! I use swear words all the time! That means I'll need to switch safe-search off!"

No. That wasn't the answer. Eight more matches, none of them were mine.

It was at this point that I realised that BlogSearch was completely unmitigated crap, and decided to try the far more reliable Google. Dropping any pretense I looked for "The Den of Inadequacy"

One result:

Title: Damn if the assClownPosse isn't complete slime
Source: The Den of Inadequacy
URL Source: http://none
Published: Jul 3, 2005
Author: assorted shitheels

Post Date: 2005-07-03 14:04:32 by Dude Lebowski
Keywords: assClownPosse, complete, isntViews: 67

Comments: 61
I'm not gonna link to it, but they have a thread posted by "redhead" where they give instructions on how to obtain one 4um members phone number and home address. They even give a full name. Along with their usual refrains about how we all deserve incarceration for not being complete lemmings.
Now if this is illegal, and I'm sure it is (harassment, libel, incitement to criminal acts), can't these ass-pilfering heffalumps be shut down? If anyone is interested in discussing, maybe it should be done by private mail. They shouldn't be able to do this.


My reaction, in full:

..?

I mean, god, I'd have preferred being ignored completely by the internet then described as a 'shitheel' member of an 'ass posse' who has commited criminal felonies just like that arsehole Alan Jones. Okay, it's an indirect reference because they're clearly not referring to this site but.. jeez.

The most important point is thus: it is pretty much impossible for anyone at all to accidentally stumble upon this site, ever. So people need a direct link to read it. As such, my readership is doomed to languish in the low just-above-zeroes forever.

Given the amount of time I spend on my blog entries, then, I start to wonder if it's time I just started doing more programming work. Like so:


//File: seasoncon.java
//Author: Jared Hansen
//Purpose: converts DW season dates for those too lazy to do simple fucking arithmetic

public class seasoncon{

public static void main(String args[]){

int userNum //Number entered by user
int caclNum //Calculated number that acts as output
int counter //Keeps count of how many times a user fails to perform a task
int LASTSEASON = 26 //Constant - the value of the final season of the classic season

ReadKb kb = new ReadKb //Erm... it's complicated..

userNum = 0

while (userNum > 2){
if (counter > 0) {
System.out.println("ERROR: Incorrect data entered");
}

System.out.println("Enter 1 to convert old numbering system to new, 2 for new-old");
}

if (userNum = 1){

userNum = 0;

System.out.println("Enter season number");
userNum = kb.getInt();

if(userNum > LASTSEASON){
calcNum = userNum - LASTSEASON;
}
else{
calcNum = userNum;
}

System.out.println("Season " + calcnum);
}
else{

userNum = 0;

System.out.println("Enter season number");
userNum = kb.getInt();

calcNum = userNum + LASTSEASON;

System.out.println("Season " + calcnum);
}

}

}



Seriously, that is the shit I'm doing all the time at TAFE. Well, that's the shit I wish I was doing because now we're doing stuff that's even more boring! Incidentally, I can also say that code up there breaks several coding guidelines and is hardly a professional standard, but I just threw it together to make a point. (And regardless, it will compile and run which is what REALLY matters)

So, yeah, I'm just saying that blog entires may well peter off and die a slow death due to combined catalysts of a fairly fragile ego and the fact that yelling into a vacuum is getting quite tiresome. Really, I'm surprised at how long this blog's actually lasted given the fact that I've never managed to keep a diary in my life.

I'll be posting my Spare Parts review at some stage at least, though...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Has the ABC Sold Out?

That's a question I expect to be asked around the place now that the ABC has topped the ratings. Not overall, of course, but for Wednesday night. Over all the opposition.

As will be frustrating to the monkies chained to desks with The Big Book of Copshow Cliches that write City Homicide the answer is a re-sounding: "No". Although the ABC has been under fire for an increasing degree of commercialism (Read: Some) and focusing on getting a profit from its merchandising in theory (Because they can't get money from the government) those controversies are completely irrelevant on Wednesday night. The three core shows: Spicks and Specks, The Chaser's War on Everything and Summer Heights Crap-fest: Watch Chris Lilly Act Naturally and Then Pretend not to be Gay in an Awful Ethnic Stereotype Wig are all completely local content with home-(including New Zealand) grown talent made good and low, low budgets.

In fact, it just reveals that the commercial channels have sold out.

But how is that possible? - you say - They're already capitalistic pig-dogs! True. But being capitalistic creatures requires a kind of loyalty - loyalty to what your customer base hungers for. And in this regard the commercial networks have clearly been failing.

There is so much bullshit in the Australian TV world it sometimes makes me gag just reading about the sordid world, filled with warped perspectives and people who don't seem to have the faintest idea what anybody would want to see on a screen in their house. "Nobody wants drama!" is one of the big yells - generally this conclusion is reached by the fact that the local dramas, generally written and directed by a group of blokes on valium who went to NIDA (that's bad. Very very bad) don't reel in viewers, whilst ignoring that overseas dramas written by people who actually get more than one writing gig in their lifetime are massively popular.

This leads to the cheapest alternative. Reality TV. Even though [sur]Reality TV has fallen massively from popularity for the last four years, they're still making new ones. There are at least 4 years left in Big Brother - the bogan-filled monkey cage only watched by radio comedians we all politely ignore - and Australian Idol looks set to try and control the music industry for years to come. Even if a reality TV show rates a 0, its still a great return on investment as the budget's a comparable number, and equal to the amount of enthusiasm required.

When things get so bad that your shitty Reality Shows actually involve losing money, where's the next logical step? Well sitcoms are cheap... but not quite that cheap. What you want is a shitcom starring a reality TV presenter. I'm referring of course to a disaster I believe Nostradamus himself prophesied - James Mathison (aka the dude everyone fucking hates from Idol) will be starring in a 'comedy' produced by Ten, in which he's going through a 'quarter life crisis' and moves in with his parents - WHO ARE IN A RETIREMENT VILLAGE. It's the kind of wonderful premise that leaves me contemplating life as a hermit.

This is what I mean - the Networks are treating us with contempt. They have sold out. Return the favour!

Mel invited you to join the Facebook group "Summer Heights High Appreciation Society".
Mel says, "Cause I know you love the show! And if you don't, then you need to watch it!" - email from Facebook

Naturally, this entry wouldn't be complete without another swipe at Summer Heights High. Australia, why the fuck do you like this show? I need to understand. Is Chris Lilley 'pretending' to be gay really that funny? I watched five minutes of last week's episode desperate to understand the appeal. And, once again, it alluded me like the infernal White Whale.

It wasn't that the show wasn't funny. It was that watching it somehow sucked the mirth from my very soul, made me question the existence of anything funny even existing in the Universe. I found myself wondering if every memory I had laughing was a lie, and that my life had been comprised entirely of beatings, leading up to this final piece of cruelty that I did not deserve.

Thank Christ Newstopia was right after it...

Sometimes I just can't be arsed...

And I've discovered more often than not, it's in situations involving the DWADs.

Just for the hell of it, I sent them a story proposition for a laugh - just as my mate Ewen did.* This backfired, though - they liked it.

See, I was hoping for a hilarious rejection letter, but instead Lighthope sent me a message about how intriguing the idea was, and how he wanted more details. I gave him more details. He wanted to know more. Obviously I made the critical mistake of choosing a well-conceived story that was eminently suitable to the current Doctor-companion team. And, obviously, not wanting the story to be accepted. I'm sure if most writers took this stance they would by Murphy's law recieve far fewer rejection letters...

So, after blocking Lighthope's email and hoping he would completely forget my existence and turning my attention to maybe writing some of *deep breath* Attack of the Cybermen/Vengeance on Varos/Androgum Inheritance/To Catch a Thief/Don't Be Evil/Afraid of the Daleks/The Emperor Club/Gray Areas/The Meek and the Wild I was thinking, hang on, I have the power to be accepted... what if I used this power against them? Mwu ha ha and so on and so forth.

The idea was quite simple - to write a story that on the surface would simply appear to be a surreal tale in the vein of The Mind Robber but in actuallity had a reasonably clear subtext about the uncanonical nature of the DWADs and that they only really exist because of the singular nature of DW fandom and their own gigantic American egos.

How do I communicate this? With an odd re-jigging of an abandoned Pat Troughton story apparently working-titled "The King's Bedtime Story", wherein an immortal 'king' would be read stories by his captives. The working title for my version would be, fairly predictably, 'Bedtime', as it would be a concept feared by the prisoners, for when the dreaded Bedtime comes the king sleeps for thousands of years, leaving them in the darkness and at the mercy of his most unjust Chamberlains.

The 'king' would be a mortal man named Arkan - a name I pulled out of thin air but curiously is the name of a Serbian commando and oddly suited - who sold his soul for the secret of eternal life. He only maintains it in a pocket-universe, but still has used his power to bring in more mortals - the purpose of the 'Bedtime' story is to ingest new, living, concepts into his Universe and thus allow its power to grow. Sadly, the process takes some thousands of years, but due to the abstracted nature of the universe time has little meaning and his prisoners linger on.

Of course, the Doctor and Moira arrive in this madness, and soon the concept of 'the Doctor' is introduced, and becomes dangerous almost immediately. Arkan realises that if he can become the Doctor, he can be free - for if he can satisfy The Guardian of the Outer Universes that he has a purpose in N-Space he can be free.

With this backstory in mind, hopefully this, the one scene I wrote, should make sense:



ARKAN: Doctor. I suppose that your appearance here was inevitable.

THE DOCTOR: Clearly. Where is 'here' exactly?

ARKAN: This is, in a manner of speaking, the heart of the Universe. The Nexus Point from which all reality eminates.

THE DOCTOR: And there's precious little of that around. Could there be some form of plumbing problem?

ARKAN: The Guardian can deal with such banal entreaties, if you meet him. Judging by your past adventures, Doctor, I'd guess that this is the stage where you ask for me details on my ingenious designs..

THE DOCTOR: A clue? No.

ARKAN: No?

THE DOCTOR: You sold your soul to live forever. I've seen it all before.

ARKAN: It was a bargain, Doctor.

THE DOCTOR: I can imagine. But I haven't even mentioned spending your eternity with figments of your imagination who loathe you.

ARKAN: A momentary set-back.

THE DOCTOR: I agree. The sad thing is that when you're immortal a moment can last.. oh, ten thousand years?

ARKAN: Seconds! Mere seconds!

THE DOCTOR: That scale would make your moment of triumph that you've been ranting about so a true case of 'blink and you've missed it'.

ARKAN: I don't need to listen to you anymore, 'Doctor'...

THE DOCTOR: No, you do not, and yet you are. Fascinating - in a realm as uncompromisingly dull as this one, at least. It suggests a form of symbiosis between us.

ARKAN: Don't flatter yourself, Doctor. You're nothing but a necessary evil.

THE DOCTOR: Necessary is an important word - 'vital to continued existence'. If whatever link there is between us is broken... then you cease to exist.

ARKAN: Don’t be so literal - that cannot happen. It was possible for you to arrive here, but it is completely impossible for you to leave.

THE DOCTOR: Not if I use the TARDIS.

(Arkan laughs. We hear the key being thrown through the air and caught by the Doctor)

ARKAN: Try it. There, you have the key.

THE DOCTOR: The simple fact that you've given it to me tells me that it shall be useless.

ARKAN: Correct, of course. As you should recall, the key and the lock mechanism are imbedded with metabolic decoding sensors-

THE DOCTOR: (wearily) Of course I know that, it's my key.

ARKAN: They only function when given the metabolic and isotropic imprints of "The Doctor". And I'm The Doctor now.

THE DOCTOR: This is all nonsense. You are not The Doctor.

ARKAN: Identity is a fragile thing, Doctor. And all of us.. all beings are so small. Quadrillions of us make up the known universe - our identity is irrelevant, but we have our function. And when the cog known as the Doctor disappears from the universe, another must arrive to fill its function.

THE DOCTOR: That's what your banking on? Existential balance sheets? It won't work. I've only been in this sorry excuse of a universe for a day at the most.

(Arkan laughs again. The Doctor, sounding fed up, cuts him off)

THE DOCTOR: Oh, what is it now?

ARKAN: 'A day at the most'... for a Time Lord you can't keep... but then I'm sure you've heard it before.

THE DOCTOR: I have. More than once.

ARKAN: You haven't been here for a day, Doctor. Or two, or three. You've been here for sixteen years.

(At this news the Doctor sounds shocked)

THE DOCTOR: WHAT?! No, that can't be... they'll need me! Let me get back..

(Arkan laughs throughout the Doctor's next words)

THE DOCTOR: I HAVE to get back... who knows what evil forces are at work?... stop laughing, man!

ARKAN: THEY need YOU? I think not. All they need is someone to be 'The Doctor'. Because it is more than a man, more than a folk-hero, more than master-plans and chess games and funny clothes and teeth and curls! No, it is a concept. A force, even... the anthropomorphism of the Universe's very foundation-stone, the Random Factor. And that shall be me.

THE DOCTOR: If what you say is true, if there is a void in the Universe that now needs to be filled, then what's to stop other forces from other universes to make the attempt?

ARKAN: Nothing. But I shall defeat them. Because I AM THE FIRST!


Yeah, not particularly subtle, but I was hoping it would slip them by, even the '16 years' bit. Again, though, I found myself loving the concept but not really interested in writing it all, so it's been languishing on my harddrive... along with a couple of throw-away quotes that were going to be in there somewhere:


ARKAN: Haha, you are unable to debate my logic, Doctor!

THE DOCTOR: That's because you don't have any. Hollow and empty rhetoric. Full of sound and fury, symbolising nothing.

ARKAN: Your fury is impressive too, Doctor. But then, the light burns the brightest before it burns out..



MOIRA: I think you should rest, Doctor...

ARKAN: Rest? No! Rest is for the wicked - and I'm not wicked, am I? Of course not - I’m the Doctor!

MOIRA: You’ve mentioned it once or twice, yeah…


Make of that what you will. In the meantime, I've decided that National Novel Writing Month can go fornicate itself with its own pencil, and that finishing several pieces of fic will be preferrable to not finishing a hurriedly written novel.


*See how much effort I go to just in case somebody I don't know stumbles across this site?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BF Round-Up Extravaganza!

For some reason I started writing reviews of all the BF adventures I've listened to. Lengths vary slightly.


Spare Parts - Haven't finished yet. 'S'alright.

Bang-bang-a-boom - Something of a disappointment... though it's got nothing at all to do with quality. You see, the main reason I wanted to listen to this was the fact that it has Graeme Garden in it. BUT the thing is that Graeme Garden, in addition to probably being the cleverest of the three Goodies, is also a highly professional voice actor, and so doesn't even sound like Graeme Garden in this story.

The other problem, of course, is that it isn't funny. Yes, it's fun but it's not quite the same. The idea of an Intergalactic Eurovision Song Contest... well, doesn't exactly have legs but there's a lot of nice dinky set pieces that keep you entertained. It's just that apart from the Doctor playing the spoons, Mel assuming every character they meet is a murderer, and the Doctor being hit on by a six-foot-tall Valkyrie that sounds like Jane Horrocks, there isn't that much to laugh at. Besides, the DS9/B5 jokes are forced, and the "I just made up all the techno-babble" joke really doesn't work if you use it, oh, four or five times?

The thing is, though, that the plot is very well thought-out and has quite a few impressive twists and turns... really the story does a very good job of keeping you entertained. It would have been better off it wasn't publicised as a comedy story, though, because as is it feels like a straight story with a couple of silly bits thrown in rather than some sort of full-on comedy effort. And just as well, because if it was a comedy story with these gags it would really fall flat!

Production values and acting is great all round. Well, apart from the fellow playing Logan. Waaaay too many pauses in his scenes.

EDIT: Oh, that was a Terry Wogan pisstake... I can't take credit for working that out, I read it somewhere I'm sorry to say.. why didn't they get Graeme to do it?!? I mean, you've got a bloke who did a Terry Wogan send-up in every second epsiode of his incredibly long-running, popular and influential sitcom... and they give the role to a guy who clearly doesn't know a joke from his elbow? Jesus Christ...

The Next Life - I've covered this one. It's shit.

The Blood of the Daleks - When I heard 'by Steve Lyons' my first thought was 'Aaaw, shit!'. My hopes were further dashed when I realised that the Doctor's new companion sounded like a cross between Catherine Tait's schoolgirl character and the "I DON' FINK SO!" girl from The Lenny Henry Show. That's what a Northern Accent sounds like on a woman? Or is Sheridan Smith both Northern and an anthropomorphic duck?

I fell asleep, I think, before the first episode was over but managed to follow the plot fine. Well, as far as I was concerned. I wasn't putting following the plot of a Lyons story too high a priority as five times out of ten it's been proven to lead to intense disappointment and frustration as every vaguely interesting character (if not every character full stop) gets massacred. Thankfully, this wasn't that bad! Also, action was kept vaguely credible - yay! The story was pretty simple - ludicrously so, in fact. Mad scientist finds Dalek casings and turns humans into Daleks civil war ensues. There's something about Dalek fighting Dalek stories that writers (apart from me) love. I've no idea what, though they are often quite entertaining.

The finale was great, with Nick Briggs again doing sterling work as every single Dalek that ever lived - remember when they actually got different guys to do the voices of the aliens, rather than one smart arsed bloke who would do absolutely every single one? Yet another great confrontation between the Doctor and his most persisten (if not greatest) enemy that is spine-tingling.

However, I feel a little sorry for Paul MacGann as confronting seems to be all he gets to do in this story - absolutely nobody is capable of showing any gratitude. Lucie goes off her rocker the moment she meets him, the President goes mad and blames the Doctor for absolutely everything (rather than Mad Scientist) and some homeless nutter in a tinfoil hat named Tom trashes him even more, with even more vehemence than the women. This leads to an incredibly aggravating scene, one of those ones where two characters take a moment to exchange, ooh, a dozen words or so, and some prick (Tom) starts yelling "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE AND YOU'RE JUST STANDING AROUND TALKING!!!" Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate people in the real world occassionally feeling the need to yell their heads off. Just wait until the other party stands around and talks for more than a couple of seconds.

Jubilee - Awww, yeah. Mass amputations 'n shit.

I can't even remember the last episode, though. Lots of weird stuff going on. But suddenly, after hearing this, I realised why that dreadful Dalek episode was actually meant to be good, why it could never be as good on TV, how parallel universe stories can actually be half-way decent, and why everyone raves about the whole audio genre. And where RTD stole the character of Lucy Saxon from. Hmm.

Colin Baker's speech at the Jubilee itself is sublime perfection, as is the fake trailer at the very start. Damned near perfection.

Phantasmagoria - I was told that this story featured non-stop Mark Gatiss and David Walliams ego-tripping and the Doctor sitting around in a basement for hours on end, so my expectations weren't high at all. But I really, really liked it.

As in The Cavaliers any sense of how many characters is a suitable number for the story that needs to be told is conspicuously evident, along with a couple of patches of unsettling borderline-sexism. Unlike The Cavaliers, though, this one works in what it's trying to do.

Well, what it's trying to do is sort of being the ultimate in generic DW historical adventures, so it's arguable whether this is at all laudable or a complete waste of all our time. But it's really campy fun, with likeable heroes and a suitably loathesome villain that entertains in its very simple plot and characters.

The voices are the silliest ever, but they all seem appropriate given the story. Why not have Dr Holywell sound like Bill Oddie playing Santa Claus? Who says Mark Gatiss doing a really crap John Hurt impression is bad casting for a past-it alcoholic? Why not have David Walliams with a mouthful of marbles playing a dual-role as a watchmen-rapist?

The best bit is Sir Nickolas Valentine - whoever plays him (can't recall) doesn't just play it to the hilt, he plays it until the sword vanishes and becomes a distant memory. If it were possible for sheer, depraved evil to drip off soundwaves you'd need to swathe yourself in napkins everytime he speaks. Forget Tekker, this guy is the real shit. It seems like every second line is punctuated with a cadaverous chuckle that sounds like a death-rattle, and lines like "What game?... a long game...a looooong game" are drawn out for truly ridiculous lengths and relishments.

This, however, leads to one of the slightly irritating things about the play - it is almost painfully obvious from the very, very first line in the whole story that Valentine is the villain. I mean, for starters, how could a character named Nickolas Valentine not be the villain? Yet it takes the Doctor the lion's share of the story to work out that he is - and, yes, he spends some time sitting on his arse in a basement before getting around to it.

Also, what the hell is the deal with all the hyping done about the Doctor's card game with Valentine? Wost. Card game. Ever. Seriously, Valentine can't even be arsed playing a real game to trap people into his [ludicrously complicated] scheme, so he just tells people "Oh, yeah, play this game with me. I'll explain it... here take some cards... and that one... and that one... Congratulations you win! Take that card with you!" Yeah, it makes sense in the plot, but we're lead to believe some seriously cool card game showdown is on the way. And there's no showdown, there's no cool, and it's debatable whether there's even a 'game' as such.

Apart from its small defects (along with which is definitely Mark Strickson, clearly finding his feet as an audio actor) Phantasmagoria remains effortlessly charming and enjoyable, with just enough twists in the plot to keep it feeling like a real story and not a half-arsed pastiche. Oh, the story ends in a truly vomit-inducing tribute to the "Crap joke in final line" syndrome prevalent in 70s television for some god-damned reason, but that's easy to absolve. Just press the stop button early and you'll be none the wiser.

Her Final Flight - Great trailer. As for the story...

...

Sorry, I nodded off there. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah..


Whispers of Terror - Justin Richards is a writer who, like Steve Lyons, I'm a bit iffy on... for a similar reason, really - Richards has a bit of a cavalier (or 'Sawardian' if you will) approach to characters. He doesn't kill them off as heartlessly or as cruelly as Lyons, that's for sure, but he still turns a lot of stories into senseless bloodbaths for absolutely no reason. And, of course, there's the fact that his characterisations are sometimes so inconsistent I end up expecting characters to behave like bi-polar schizophrenics and not at all like any humans that I actually know.

This was a triumph, though. Unlike in novels, Richard doesn't have the means or the excuse to use a massive cast. In fact, some people criticized the play for being too small in scope. These people are fools who don't know a good thing when they've got it. You hear me? DAMNED FOOLS!!! (Besides, limited scope meant that there was more budget for other stories!)

The whole story is set in the claustrophobic-sounding Museum of Aural Antiquities and the villain is such an awesome idea that it was stolen for ...Ish and Scherzo. The dreaded SOUND CREATURE! Of course, in a brilliant twist, in a world of completely amoral if not evil politicians (who can relate to that?) the 'evil' sound creature turns out to be one of the only characters with genuine good intentions. Well, a big part of its intention is wiping out the chilli-suckers who betrayed him Charles Bronson-style but I maintain Soundy's heart is in the right place.

One problem, though: another twist that was incredibly obvious. I think the direction and production let Richards down (in the recording of Visten Krane's murder, I'm thinking of)

Not much more to add except Colin is brilliant, and this is something of a constant within his stories.


Colditz - *sigh*

Okay, the idea behind doing a WWII story is you get to have wonderfully clear-cut villains. This is about the only good thing about doing WWII stories because they have been established as mind-numbingly cliche in the science-fiction genre. A combination of WII and parallel universe... you have no excuse unless you've been locked in a bunker with no access to any sci-fi at all for the past 30 years.

And even then I'll probably still beat the crap out of you.

Steve Lyons ignores absolutely all this common sense. There are no strong villains. There isn't even one adequate villain. There's Feldweber/Oberleutnant Kurtz, who's either an NCO or an officer depending on which side of absolutely shithouse editing you currently are, a bully, a coward, a borderline psychopath but one that's a complete laughing stock to the allies and the Nazis. The only thing of interest being the fact that he's portrayed by David Tennant and wants to rape Ace. There's Oberst VonSumfinkorozzer who is the token 'nice' Nazi. There's the Krazy Kamp Kommandant who is constantly mentioned over the course of four episodes but never appears - and it's meant to be a twist when we learn he isn't at the camp! (For fuck's sake!) Yeah, he's on a holiday in Switzerland or something. And then there's Klein, whose mind-numbing brain deadness warrants an entire paragraph.

Klein is a time-travelling SS officer from an alternate future who arrives at Colditz using the Doctor's TARDIS. She's also a dribbling moron who is entirely unable to do anything without arousing people's suspicion and/or wiping out the alternate future she arrived from in the first place. She is in the past for no real reason but to threaten the Doctor for her own amusement, but is completely unable to do so. We're meant to be scared when she tells the Doctor that Ace is going to die, even though it's already been established that every single frigging thing Klein believes is meant to happen doesn't.

So, in short, Steve Lyons thought it would be great to have a villain that not only was too stupid to even have an evil plan, but would also manage to turn everything she touches into crap, thus saving the Doctor from expending any effort in stopping her from doing anything. Klein left me utterly gobsmacked in that anyone would possibly dream up such an entirely awful notion in anything but an off-the-wall comedy. By which I mean seriously dropping-the-acid-laced-with-motor-oil stuff.

Klein, in spite of being even more pathetic than Feldweber/Oberleutnant Kurtz in every regard, provokes endless rants from Sylv. Steve Lyons again seems to have missed the bleeding obvious - McCoy is not, in anyone's opinion good at righteous anger. In fact, opinion on the matter ranges from "Jesus Christ he's awful" to "Come on guys, he's not quite that bad" which isn't a lot of leeway. Hearing him screaming "But then you have BLONDE HAIRRR..AND BLUE EYES DO YOU NOT!?" really didn't help things.

Also, the 'massive twist' of this story - that the laser in Ace's CD player was the technology that lead to the Nazis winning WWII didn't impress me. First, I saw it coming a mile off because why else would Kurtz bring up the CD player in every second scene? Second, it doesn't make much sense. Third, I was distracting by the convoluted shite about the apparent actions of a parallel 8th Doctor (presumably played by David Troughton) in getting the TARDIS back to Sylv - there's nothing I like better than a story when time travel has actually resolved the entire plot BEFORE any of it happened.

And furthermore, why the hell is this called "Colditz"? It's got NOTHING to do with Colditz. About half of the story happens to be set there, but it's of no relevance to the plot. It could just as easily be entitled "Steve Lyons masturbates into a script for 100 minutes". Plus there's the ugly truth that a blatant lack of budget leaves this the worst-sounding release that I've heard yet - and they apparently couldn't afford any music so Gary Russell just brought in his drum machine and decided to jam at the most inappropriate moments possible. Not to mention Colditz apparently only having two prisoners.

The story also, in theory, introduces a "New Ace". But, you know, not like the "New Ace" in the New Adventures. The one they got rid off after a while because she wasn't as interesting as the alco archaeologist. I'd much rather have a new companion, frankly. The appeal of Ace is completely and utterly lost on me, you know. Leaving aside Aldred's performance (and she's so desperate to avoid the terrible Mockney accent used on TV that she's barely even recognizable as the same character here), this story (supposedly 're-inventing' the character) is an excellent showcase for how terribly one-note the character is. Every single scene involving Ace and Kurtz features her insulting the German 'officer' endlessly. Every scene with Tim, her 'friend', she bullies and pressures him. Every scene with Gower, the prisoner C.O, involves her unrealistically pressuring for a break-out TONIGHT. She causes Tim to be nearly beaten to death, and expresses no remorse. She still blows stuff up. I hate to contradict Mr Campion-Clarke on any matter, but I believe that Sparacus may have been right on at least one matter: it is possible for a character to be both 'feisty' and 'boring'. Specifically if there name is Ace and they've been around for 20 years. (TWENTY FRIGGING YEARS! She's as old as I am... no wonder I'm sick of her!)

Hmm. Probably should have gone the succint route for this one...

*Slow clapping ala Blackadder*

Utter crap.


The Stones of Venice - Holy shit! Paul Magrs can write normal stuff!


Dr Who and the Pirates - Damit, possibly my favourite. It's been argued that it really isn't Doctor Who... but I won't have that! It features the Doctor, the TARDIS, a historical setting, a nasty villain, likeable heroes... it's more Doctor Who other things made under the name!

I'm frankly more surprised that more comments haven't been made about how frigging insane this story is. Evelyn all but breaks into a girl's room and starts berating her with stories about the Doctor, in spite of the fact that her complete lack of a memory prevents her from being able to tell if the Doctor is even still alive and can't decide how many legs Bill Oddie has. And then the Doctor himself rocks up to raid the stocks of tea, and corrects Evelyn on basically everything she's said. And then he decides the story's too boring and turns it into a shameless Gilbert and Sullivan rip-off. And has a sing-off with the First Mate that goes for fifteen minutes.

And then it's revealed Sally, the student, killed someone in a hit-and-run, when the lyrics get to her and she begins singing her tragic story. And then Bill Oddie starts cutting out people's tongues and force-feeding them to the new amputees. And the Doctor and the campest man every run around an island throwing coconuts looking for treasure. And then the Doctor steals the ship back. And then Bill Oddie doesn't die.

At this point the story is over, and the Doctor admits to Sally, in a typical moment of complete candour, that the story really sucked and blames it on Evelyn. And then tells Sally not to kill herself. According to at least one reviewer, Sally kills herself right before the end credits. I have no idea what that's based on, but something must have given her that idea.

Why is this my fave? I dunno. It's just cool. And absolutely batshit insane. Speaking of batshit insane...


Zagreus - Sylvester McCoy feels up India Fisher, Nicola Bryant eats Bonnie Langford, Peter Davison gets pussy-whipped by Nicola Bryant, Nicholas Courtenay shoots at Lalla Ward shouting about her leaving her dirty knickers around every and Paul McGann kills all of the other Doctors. Nuff said, surely?

Well... can enough be said about Zagreus? Maybe. But not, I think, in its defense. For my part, I like Zagreus. Okay, if I had waited for months after the release of Neverland, I probably wouldn't. If I had no idea what I was in for, again probably not. But the thing is I think Zagreus should be admired for an act of supreme narrative daring. Rather than codswallop like Colditz that is just drawn from an apparent drug-addled ignorance of anything that can constitute a story, Zagreus realises that its breaking all the rules. There's a good self-knowingness about it.

And you can't say it isn't fun... oh, well, you can certainly say that about Disc 1 which goes nowhere fairly gradually. Apart from the guilty pleasure of hearing Nicola Bryant as an extremely ballsy and toffy-nosed gung-ho researcher who takes every oppurtunity to diss Peter Davison, the first 'fantasy' segment is distinctly dull, and it's not hard to feel sorry for Peter getting a mild-mannered vicar for his second character. And then we have Colin, who gets to play the delightfully wicked closet-vampire, The Provost Tepesh in one of his best performances. And orders Bonnie to be killed. Hahaha!

Sorry, side-tracked. When I think about Zagreus and its poor reputation, I think of other stories that deliberately go outside the box of what is considered acceptable in DW. None of them are as badly recieved as this. And then it strikes me.. it's all about timing.

As a stand-alone, as I heard it, Zagreus works fine. Admirably even. Though the writing is certainly patchy, the fun it makes of the show as an entity is great in all its sacriligious glory, and matching the voices up to the character is a really great big chunk of the fun to be had. Its questionable as to whether a three-and-a-half hour piece of audio that deconstructs everything about the show piece-by-piece in dream sequences is a good idea for an anniversary special... but then that isn't the timing problem I meant. Allow me to digress again...

There's a scene in Disc 3 where the three Doctors and Charley go into Rassilon's tower. They come across the familiar chessboard of death, and the familiar solution - "Pi!". Showing previously unseen ability and bitchitude, Charley calls them all a pack of useless wankers and gives the actual solution to the chessboard with only a seconds pause for thought. (An explanation, by the way, that would make no sense at all to a Gallifreyan who knew nothing of Earth) This is several things: it is a subversion of the arguably sexist standard in which a Doctor explains important details to the companion by having the lines of communication shift the other way, it is a mockery of one of the worst pieces of writing in the series' history, and a nod to The Five Doctors, the halfway point to the special and a highly popular story.

What the scene isn't is good drama.

And THAT'S exactly what fans were expecting.

As an anniversary special, an exceptionally twisted one to showcase the unusual bent taken by fandom in adapting their favourite show of all time, Zagreus works. BUT the story is also meant to be a resolution to a shocking cliffhanger at the end of Neverland, with the Doctor apparently dead and Charley out of the picture. It is slightly damning that the actual beginning point of Zagreus doesn't seem to match up well with this (Much in the same way that Scherzo doesn't lead on naturally from the end of this one..) and what follows shows that Russell wasn't very concerned with producing a dramatic story in any conventional sense and concluding that storyline.

See, what fans would have been expecting would have been an apocalyptic story about the potential death of Our Universe from the Anti-Time infection. They would have expected, in this moment of crisis, the Doctors to attempt to unite across their time-streams, Voltron-like, to fight against the oncoming Evil McGann. They would have expected battle-scenes in the streets of The Capitol, great speeches about evil, and maybe cut-aways to Rassilonian history at the beginning of each disc to explain the backstory. It's hard to argue that it wouldn't have made more sense to do that in the given context, and also difficult to argue that it wouldn't have been a more satisfying story.

That is what overshadows Zagreus. Its hearts are in the right place, but the lead-in was all wrong. If we were treated to a fifth season of Blakes 7, and were then given 50 minutes of poking fun at the shows history as a resolution to the Gauda Prime shoot-out, it would be an apt comparison. I say, contrary to popular belief, Zagreus is a victim of bad judgement, rather than bad writing.


Omega - As a side-point (Always a good thing to start with in a review) I would have to be entirely incummunocado with fandom to be oblivious to the antipathy/incomprehension that greeted the news that the 'villain trilogy' of audios would be rounded off with 'Omega'. Okay, yes, 'Master' and 'Davros' would be the first off anybody's mind when asked for three identifiable villains but... when it comes to individuals the Doctor hasn't really faced off against that many with the room to return. I also haven't read any alternative suggestions at all for who the fans, so aghast with this decision, would have liked to fill the slot...

GUARDIAN - The Black Guardian is one of the more identifiable recurring villains, thanks mostly to JNT realising that Valentine Dyall's brilliantly villainous portrayal was completely wasted in the closing couple of minutes of The Armageddon Factor all those years ago. I'm not sure how much depth to his character, per se, could be uncovered, but an audio about the personification of chaos and injustice would have plenty of breathing space for cool ideas - the one Big Finish audio I think would be cool if done by Larry Miles.

VALEYARD - Hey, it could be good. Very good in fact. It would just have to overcome the facts that a) It would mean a rescheduling since Davo vs Valeyard rapes continuity to the point that even Big Finish couldn't condone it and b) Nobody in fandom seems to like Valeyard as a character only as a concept. Which is a bit of a shame since Michael Jaystone really gives it his all...

TOYMAKER - ...I can't even take that title seriously for a second. But if it does the trick for you... well, go nuts.

RANI - No. Because of course, the great thing about the Rani was that she wasn't evil for the sake of evil, more a mirror version of the Doctor (before the days of Iris Wildthyme) just without a sense of morals. The Doctor claims that she's mad, but then that might be him trying to make sense of her impossibly cold-hearted view of the Universe. All this means that the Rani isn't really any sort of archetypal villain, and thus unsuited to the slot. Of course, the same was said of Omega, but if I'm looking for a replacement it won't do. I wouldn't have minded hearing Davison and Omara sparring though...

BORUSA - Terrance Dicks could do it. But would you really want him to? (A clue: No)

TEKKER/SOLDEED - Sorry, I just had to put those in there. It's out of my system now.

MONK - No, hang on.. now it is...

CONTROLLER - Ah, one that would actually work. The Cybermen's lack of a character as strong as Davros limits them in the running for this slot, but The Controller has already proven himself capable of emerging from blatant destruction. Some retcon would be needed - possibly of the 'Sixth Doc is useless' variety, which is a handy fall-back option for all writers. A very strong script would be needed to make it work, though, or a new spin on The Controller's character...

LYTTON - This one would have worked, you see, if Saward hadn't decided to brutally castrate his own character in the most nonsensical way imaginable. Though If *I* Had Written Attack of the Cybermen this audio would be a perfectly sensible proposal...

GREEL - The title mightn't be immediately obvious to people, given all that 'Lord Weng-Chiang' nonsense, but hopefully enough folks remember the remarkably Sutekh-esque villain as being identified as Magnus Greel. The idea does have potential, as well, as we all know that Greel was an unconscionable war criminal who experimented with time travel before ending up in Victorian England. The problem is that any prequel story will be derided as pure fanwank. Which would be true enough, but then isn't that the point of a 'villain trilogy'.

SUTEKH - Yeah, I mentioned Sutekh so I'll bring him up... just to say that the very idea is so remarkably awful that if you were thinking that a Sutekh audio would be good, give yourself a slap right now. The character is a shallow, generic personification of evil used in one story simply so there's a villain. Just like Fenric. He may as well be a cardboard cut-out of Vincent Price.

NESTENE - Hmm... it could be good. But it would be far easier for it to be terrible. Note that I'm being generous here by extending 'villain' to the Nestene Consciousness, which is technically a single entity. But also exhibits absolutely no character. A mythos could be established for the story, but it would somewhat defeat the purpose of the story for celebrating an established villain.

AZAL - Yeah I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel... any moment now I'm going to suggest 'Intelligence' and 'Monarch'


Hopefully by this stage you've taken the point. If not, I'm clearly a terrible writer because I've had hundreds of words to get a very simple point across: the Doctor doesn't really have that many stand-out individual characters as villains that he faces in the show. Yes, he faces down plenty of interesting alien races, but their leaders are rarely anywhere near as interesting. Of the above 13 suggestions, which took me quite a long time to think of, only four were recurring villains. And two of them are dead. And the Rani really wouldn't work in the series, which leaves us with Guardian.

Although people argue that Omega makes no sense, lets look at the logical side of things...

a) Omega is one of very few villains to actually have a recurring appearance.

b) His second appearance was in Season 20 - the 'return appearance' season which also featured The Master and was going to feature Davros. Hey, isn't that a funny co-incidence? (Also the Black Guardian was featured...)

c) Like him or loathe him, Omega does feature a very strong personality in both of his stories, clear motivation, and plenty of baggage. In short, there's plenty for writers to work with.

The story... well, it's good. Not quite brilliant. For the first two episodes I was in love with it... the set-up was very good and provided for a good leisurely character piece rather than any sort of grand showdown between the Doctor and Omega, the hack actors portraying Omega and his off-sider Vanderkirion being posessed by the ghosts of the originals was a nifty idea well-handled, and the Timelord version of Simon Scharma was a good character. Curiously, though, these episodes are 35 minutes long... when you listen, it becomes depressingly apparent that they have been extended simply so Nev Fountain can fit even more jokes about fandom in. Okay, yes, when the Professor and the Doctor argue about the ideas of the Omega mythos in a way that mirrors fan debates it is entertaining. When more and more references to fandom happen with far less subtlety when the plot is meant to be resolved, it gets distracting.

When the entire story ends with a future Time Lady appearing out of nowhere and gushing over the Doctor like no OGer ever would dare and proposing immediately ways of ret-conning the entire story out of existence to appease the Doctor's fan in future Gallifrey... well, it's enough to get you screaming swear words at your CD player.

The episode seems to want its cake and to eat it, too: we're given a lot of Omega's backstory. A LOT. Sadly this includes one of the worst Gallifrey flash-back scenes ever, where we seem to be curiously lead to believe that Rassilon somehow started a bloody coup that wiped out large portions of the Capitol while still at the academy and sight-seeing with his pal Omega. Rassilon is terribly cast here, and I hope others were wishing they got Don Warrington to do this scene to lend some credibility to yet another piece of "Ooh, it's the evil Rassilon!".

The contradiction to giving us all this backstory, is the fact that the final parts of the story tell us that Omega is mad and has no idea whether any of this happened or not. Well, that's great. Can I have the last 90 minutes back, please?

Apparently the whole idea was to illustrate the unreliable nature of stories. Just like Doctor Who and the Pirates, then...


The Horror of Glam Rock - Holy shit, Paul Magrs can write stuff that's so normal it's boring!


...Ish - I need to listen to this one again. It certainly got my attention...


Loups-Garoux - This is one of the weirder ones... set mostly in a near-future train travelling through the Amazonian desert and dealing with a Brazilian clan of werewolves. He's accompanied by Turlough, who has now learnt a thing or two about audio dramas and is thus less irritating a companion.

This is a great story for ideas - the werewolves have in-built perception filters that have allowed them blend into society, and there's the familiar battleground of humanity and animalism and the struggle for identity in 'the pack', a werewolf that has been trapped in a purgatory between the two states, a teenaged self-styled Amazionian warrioress who carries in her mind the spirit of the now-dead forest, and the titular Loups-Garoux, the grandfather of all werewolves who is chasing his lover down across the entire earth.

The problem is one that often occurs with idea stories - the plot suffers. A lot is built up over the first three episodes, so it's a bit of a let down when the story changes tack in the last episode, in a way that involves effectively writing out half the characters right at the start. Quite disappointing.

The story is stronger than the sum of its parts, though, and as such highly impressive. Pitor Stube, the Loups-Garoux himself, has an especially sinister voice, the performance from Elanor Bron (and the awkward quasi-romantic subplot with the Doctor) is brilliant, and the director is very atmospheric. This has to be the only audio I've heard so far that I'd describe as scary to listen to - and it had me on the edge of my seat as to how the Doctor would solve everything.

Plus it features a scene where a gigantic wolf vomits up Turlough, complaining about how bad he tastes. Awe. Some.


Immortal Beloved - Her name is Lucie Miller.

She began her life with one goal.

She alone, would establish herself as the single most fucking irritating Doctor Who companion of all time, ahead of Janet Fielding, Bonnie Langford, Matthew Waterhouse, Jackie Lane and Lis Sladen.

It took her all of five minutes.

"Oi, bar-gum, mi name'z Lucie Miller and this mis'rable suthern fucking wanker is mi bumblin' assisstant! Oi'm here to perv on yez!"

Ian McNeice was also in this. Which was nice.


I also listened to the first fifteen minutes or so of Phobos, which have me convinced that the BBC7 series is shite.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Jared is concerned

Wikipedia is a bit baffling at the best of times. The fact that there are individual pages for basically every alien to appear in Doctor Who, complete lists of Power Ranger episodes, and also... see, this was the bit where I was going to link to a wiki moderator's own Wikipedia page, filled with proud details about how he believes that the current status of female independence is an anthropological blind alley and suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. The forum where I got the link is down so just take my word for it: messed-up stuff.

ANYway, I've discovered that I've vandalised Wikipedia. Officially, that is. No, I'm not talking about my adjustments to certain details in the page about Italy's 'win' over Australia in the last World Cup - every detail of my edits on that occassion were legitimate and sensible, and were in fact TOO SENSIBLE for those defective women-hating beef-eating assburger mods to handle. No, when I go in, Wiki plays me like a straight G!

Welcome to Wikipedia. It might not have been your intention, but your recent contribution removed content from Solar power. Please be more careful when editing pages and do not remove content from Wikipedia without a good reason, which should be specified in the edit summary.

..saywhat? I then open up the page for my IP and see the edits that 'I' have made...

15:19, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Solar energy‎ (→Disadvantages)
14:20, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Chernobyl disaster‎ (→Comparison with other disasters)
14:05, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Nuclear power‎ (→Air pollution)
14:03, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Nuclear power‎ (→Health effect on population near nuclear plants)
13:06, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Nuclear power‎ (→Health effect on population near nuclear plants)
07:54, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Pippa Black‎
05:08, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Pippa Black‎
05:05, 4 August 2007 (hist) (diff) Pippa Black‎

Yep, it's confirmed... I edited none of those pages. I haven't even LOOKED at them (except the last one, to try and find out who the hell 'Pippa Black' is) So what does this tell me? Somebody else is using my IP. But who? And why?

From the above, I can make the following deductions: they hate Nuclear power, wish to spread propaganda about a minor parking infringement in the village of Chernobyl that the liberal media blew out of proportion, have money invested in solar power, and masturbate over fairly obscure young Australian actresses.

Yeah, you read it right. Al Gore is stealing my fucking internet.

I've made a powerful enemy. Okay, he will never, ever, ever be President. Okay, his movie was a commercial failure and he's currently being upstaged by Leonardo diCaprio. Okay, he thought that [insert band you don't like] would be awesome at Live Earth. Okay, he invented the term 'carbon footprint', and thus unleashed a new breed of sickening yuppie-ism to infuriate those of us NOT middle class enough to wear an all-beige ensemble. But he has more money than me. And his BMI is definitely bigger than mine, so the bastard has the weight advantage in a fight.

Worst still, that Gore is clearly setting me up as a fall guy? But for what?

This should give you the answer:



The Liberal media is up on arms that Jacqui Smith, aka 'that woman' is showing too much cleavage. In spite of the fact that I've seen more cleavage on a cat. When did I read about this affair? Today. The same day I discovered that Al Gore was using my IP 59 days ago. 59 backwards makes 95. 1995 started with a Sunday. What kind of day is Sunday? A bloody one. So clearly we're dealing with an assassination plot.

But of whom? The clue's in the edits - Pippa Black is more than the Al Gore sex-slave of tommorrow - according to her page (the cad left the clue for me to find - how insufferably smug!) she's appeared in adverts for Australis Cosmetics. 'Australis' means Southern, and 'cosmo' is universal. Who is the most stereotypical and offensive Southerner known to mankind? A mister George Walker Bush, 43rd president of the United States of America.

Yes, you heard it here first. I am Mark Wahlberg from Shooter, and Al Gore is Morgan Freeman. This really sucks.

And, to think, all I wanted was to add a little something to the ASBOs page:

In the Ben Chatham adventure "The Lords of Ancazar" it is revealed that Ben Chatham is unable to recall the names of lower-class people, so refers to them all as "ASBO Boy/Girl", as a means of supposed flattery.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Absolute Bollocks: a review of Saw III

A friend lied to me recently, and it has really stung.

I was loading up my detachable harddrive with a heap of gear from his computer... all in a completely legal way, of course. When I ask for something to fill a gig and a half he thinks for a moment...

"Hey, you still haven't seen Saw III, eh?"

This was true. I had planned to see it in the cinema, having enjoyed the second one in the cinemas in spite of the fact it destroyed my subsequent NIDA audition (or at least was the prime factor not involving my shite performance). I hadn't really thought about seeing it since, being more occupied with episodes of Spaced and porn. Hence my response:

"Nah. Any good?"

"Yeah."

LIAR!

As I said, I found Saw and its sequel to be enjoyable enough. I'm not a fan of horror movies at all, but they won me over because they were both quite intelligent and had a good sense of drama, helped to a [small] degree by recognisable characters being well-served by the cast. However, having just finished watching Saw III I have to say I'm not planning on watching any more in the series, which looks set to last for about half-a-dozen films too many.

It doesn't get off to a good start - its a pretty simple rule that padding is for TV, not film. And yet the first 20 minutes of Saw III does nothing but introduce characters irrelevant to the rest of the film, who get killed off pretty much straight afterwards. If anyone thinks that there's a chance of intelligence in the film, the very first scene pretty much dashes that hope. Detective Matthews, the astonishingly unlikeable protagonist of the previous film, is locked in the disused bathroom of death, which Jigsaw is disturbingly fascinated with. The old hacksaws are still there, so there's the familiar challenge - he can get out, but all he has to do is saw his own foot off.

Oh, wait - the slab from the cistern is right there. I guess he can just use that to break the chains and -HOLY FUCK! For some reason, the bleeding obvious never occurs to Matthews, so instead he slams the slab until his foot snaps off at the bone. I hate watching retarded behaviour at the best of times, but when it is gory as well it just makes it worse.

What then? Oh, some dude is chained up, yada-yada, bombs blows up and kills him. That chick from the second film is at the crime scene, where Leigh Whannel forgets for a moment the film is meant to be set in America so a bad-ass black cop on the scene says "A bloody truck couldn't get through that door!" before sculling some VB and re-iterating his views on Shane Warne or "the Don Bradman of bowling" as he insists on calling him. The scene is also notable for containing a dialogue exchange I can only assume was meant to be massively post-modern, where the chick-from-the-second-film (Cftsf from now on - she'll be dead soon, trust me) notes that Jigsaw's murders really suck now compared to the old days.

As soon as you're suckered into thinking that Cftsf may play a decent role in the film for so much as a second, she's wired up with a reverse-beartrap plugged into her ribcage. Okay, people familiar with the franchise will be thinking, Jigsaw is only meant to torture those who have done wrong and/or wasted their life, right? So what great crime has Cftsf commited? According to the tape "Being more comfortable with a corpse than with a human." She is a forensics specialist, so basically her crime is being good at her job. This is an awful trend in the movies, where Whannel seems to have incredible trouble thinking of relevant crimes for the unfortunate victims to have performed - the chained up guy I mentioned in passing? "Erm, yeah you were in prison a lot. I fucking hate that for some reason. It could be down to sociological conditioning, really, but basically you're going to die now"

So, anyway, Cftsf needs to reach into a jar of acid to get the key to 'unlock' the ribcage device. Personally, and without any medical training, I have to say that it's pretty fucking obvious that you're not going to remove a device that's clamped onto your ribcage with just a key. But Cftsf falls for it despite being a highly trained medical professional. *Sigh* Another returning theme in this film is also a completely crap on - the character gets the key but IT WON'T FIT IN THE LOCK! Along with Jigsaw deliberately placing keys in incredible hard to reach places, this is dramatic device that really, really sucks.

After this, I was at the point of giving up on this movie. This does not happen to me very often. Four times, in memory: Once in a film where Judy Davis played a sex-addicted woman in New York. The second in The Royal Tenembaums, a side-splitting comedy where people stand around saying nothing for minutes on end, before mumbling non-sequitors and drowning in Wes Anderson's pretension. See Bill Murray as you've never seen him before - in a catatonic state! A third time in... fuck the film's too crap for me to even remember properly. The old guy from Just Shoot Me sleeping with a schizoid. The last film was Kingdom of Heaven. To anyone who's watched the film, that entry should speak for itself.

So anyway, just before I decide to destroy my copy of the film it gets vaguely interesting and sucked me into watching the rest...

And I will hate it for that forever more.

The set-up is fairly interesting... Johnny "Jigsaw" Kramer, everyone's favourite serial psychopath who arranges all those wacky ways to kill people, is dying from his cancer. This was something of a relief to me, as I figured he should have been dead after the second film, where he starts off wheelchair-bound, and THEN Detective Matthews decides to kick twelve and a half types of shit out of him. The online community was united in its assertion that Mr Kramer was indeed alive, though. This was based on the fact that, before the end credits, we saw him smile. Your honour, the defense rests! Strangely enough I've never heard the same logic in reference to the end of B7..

So, anyway, John's brain is about to blow-up, so Lynn, a Doctor, is kidnapped and brought to him. She's decked out in a collar that will detonate her head if John's vital signs dip down too low, and only Amanda, the apprentice Jigsaw better known as "Reverse-Beartrap Girl" and "Pit of Syringes Girl" and on some occassions "Junkie Lesbian From Hell", can remove the collar. This wouldn't be quite a problem if she wasn't uncontrollably paranoid and psychotic.

Lynn will be free to go if, and only if, Jeff makes it through his tests. Jeff is a self-made hobo who's become obsessed with avenging his son's death. His tests, unlike the norm, are about letting people live.

The flaws become obvious, though - the scenes with Lynn, Amanda and John could be the best in the series... if Leigh Whannel could fucking write some character development that doesn't involve frenzied screaming at one another. One of Amanda's first scenes involves her nearly throwing a gigantic medical textbook at Lynn while screaming "Why don't you tell me something I don't know, you fucking cunt?" Just like in Blade: Trinity the achilles heel of Hollywood is shown to be the characterisation, which is really irritating when there's so much great characterisation on TV. Even though the one episode I have seen of Battlestar: Galactica was the worst television I'd ever wtinessed, I could at least admire the strength of the characters, and how few cues in the dialogue was needed to get them across. These scenes are so OTT to be operatic.

And the stuff with Jeff? Yeah, well, these films are increasingly about more and more gory ways to kill somebody, so basically he lets everyone die.

Sorry if that's a spoiler, but did you really think peoples' lives would be saved an a Saw film? Even for a MOMENT? Leaving aside gratuitous ways of killing people, if Jeff let people live that would give him people to talk to, and that just wouldn't work in a Whannel script.

Problem #6500 with this series: credibility. The mystery of just how Jigsaw does any of this intensifies. People who complain about the feasibility of V for Vendetta (where V basically had his whole life and superhuman powers to plan the November 5 bombings) really need to watch this. Jigsaw is able to find absolutely endless machinery, empty sewers and general deserted areas where no-one will find him. Somehow he's managed to make another base, which looks exactly the same as the one from the last film, in a mysterious locale underground. With a complete operating theatre. And lots of electricity. Not to mention all the devices he manages to make that have all been engineered flawlessly - this includes a machines that liquefies pig carcasses. I doubt any devices like this exist in the real world (due to pigs generally having meat inside, something of exceptional value in the modern world), but even that scepticism is tiny next to the idea of Jigsaw somehow securing, oh, a couple of dozen pig carcasses to put through it.

Even if, somehow, you believe there is any shred of a chance that any of this shit is possible in the real world, consider the fact that Jigsaw has been invalid for months. Every single trap, ploy, and device has been concieved, designed, and built with the exact victim in mind during the events of the first film. And that includes the upcoming sequel! If that isn't enough to make you call 'bullshit' why not just fly back to your home planet, pal?

I have to give the film this: in spite of the feeling that there's nothing new under the sun in this film, that all it is successfully doing is making a warped, bloated and thoroughly brain-dead caricature of the first two films in the series, the ending is not predictable.

Because it is so very, very stupid.

Yes, I didn't see it coming, when there were endless flash-backs explaining that every single thing people complained about making no sense in the first two films was somehow down to Amanda. I didn't see it coming that Lynn wasn't being tested at all, that the test was simply to see whether complete psycho Amanda could stop herself from killing another human being she was forced to talk to for more than five minutes. And I didn't see it coming that Jeff and Lynne were husband and wife, and that Lynn didn't sneak a peak at any of those security cameras around and subsequently recognise him.

These revlations are mildly interesting - until you take up 15 minutes of time with flashbacks to basically every bit of dialogue in the film faintly connected to them. I guess it saves time and constitution for obsessive people who would feel the need to watch this bilge a second time to pick up on it all, but I miss the days when things weren't endlessly recapped for the ADHD generation. I mean, in the last two films the twists were far more unexpected and had waaay fewer recursive references. And then there's The Usual Suspects, probably the greatest twist in cinema history, and I don't think they felt the need to show a single second of film that had been used prior to the finale.

Saw III stays astonishingly true to its adolescent mis-en-scene in a closing coup-de-grace of retardedness, right before the most jaw-droppingly ham-fisted setup for a sequel since... erm, no, make that the worst ever.

The interesting thing to note is that pretty much everyone in the film dies, and in the process either

a) Had no lesson to learn

or

b) Did have a lesson to learn, but was a complete dick about it and thus didn't change at all.

This means that Jigsaw's life work has been completely meaningless and fruitless. I'm trying to work out if this is meant to be the ultimate piece of nihilistic theatre, or just an excuse to mutilate body parts in movies. I suspect the latter...


Addendum: Best unintentionally hilarious piece of dialogue: Jigsaw, barely alive on his operating table and unable to move.

"I can an ambulance here in four minutes"

Wow. To add to everything else, Jigsaw clearly has the power of telepathy. And New York emergency services have just opened up their services to unknown and mysterious underground lairs! Great news for all of us!

What ifs...

What if...

The Two Doctors had worked like the previous multi-Doctor stories?

"Well, now Peri, let's see how my other self is doing with that time bubble..."

Doo-do-doo...

"Nope. Still in here."

"Oh, for Christ's sake!! Are you even trying to get out?"

"Not really. Would you like a jellybaby?"


What if...

Iggy Pop had sex with a genetically-malformed goat that was wearing a Warwick Capper wig and filmed it? I believe the results would be incredible in being more disgusting than the average Leigh Whannel fantasy and more confusing than the closing fight scenes in Jet Li's The One.


What if...

Every online loser got their fantasy and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film actually was an audiobook with a couple of moving pictures thrown in? I have the strangest feeling that 2 hours of Stephen Fry cracking jokes while Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, and Zooey Deschanel stand around doing nothing (and being astonishingly sexistly characterised in one example of the aforementioned) wouldn't have set the Box Office alight, most likely doing even worse than the version we got, and nowhere near as entertaining.

This would have the added bonus of getting rid of the stupidest internet argument fodder for any film adaptation - "Oh, no, they can't do [insert comedic book here] , just look at H2G2 - it's impossible to adapt comedy novels because the humour's in the narrative!" Setting aside the fact that not every comic novel reads exactly like Douglas Adams.


What if...

I'd been born a couple of years earlier, so would actually have been able to submit my DW novel The Furor to BBC Books before they replaced their 'submissions' page with a massive sign saying "Fuck off Lepers!"? Personally, I fantasised about going to OG's reviews page and seeing what incredible similes Joe Ford and Lawrence Conquest would have used to say that it was complete crap. And, you know, getting published beforehand.

Actually, I just realised that's why I was so late to get any proper fan-fic done, because I honestly wrote 50,000 words of The Furor in the middle of high-school. And frankly it was terribly generic.


What if...

All the publicity for the next Batman film is the most elaborate ruse ever and the badguy is actually The Mad Hatter?


What if...

I spent less time Wiki-ing comic book characters for the hell of it? I probably wouldn't have written the above entry for a start...


What if...

I actually had gotten the part for that Virgin mobile ad where I was to play an SMS-battle champion? Presumably very little, because nobody I know seems to have ever seen the ad.


What if...

Doctor Who came back like I imagined in my Nigel Verkoff-style fantasies, with me playing the Doctor in a ludicrously complicated story about werewolves and aliens living in the moon trying to alter Earth's history? At a guess, just three words: Victory for Grade.


What if...

Princess Di had somehow managed to live another year in disgusting self-indulgent glory? Would she be remembered instead as some greasy wog's slapper? Going by the nature of British tabloids, I'll say yes.


What if...

The 'spin-off' to Life on Mars, in which ANOTHER modern-day detective has an accident and ends up trapped in the 70s, in the London Met (where, improbably, Gene Hunt, Chris, and Moustache Man have all been transferred) is actually any good at all? Hmm, I'd owe someone some money, surely...


What if...

Sparacus died shortly after saying 'I'm just going to the lavatory now'? Would his fanbase be able to get the thread to the 1000 posts mark without even noticing his absence?


What if...

On the subject of the Hitchhiker's movie, as I was several minutes, ago, what if people online hadn't decided to hate it based on the fact Ford was black and Zaphod didn't have two heads months before it came out? Of course, it probably wouldn't mattered too much as some complete arsehole who was apparently one of Adams' 'friends' trashed the whole film in a 'review' on AICN. Review is in inverted commas because all he did was compile a list of every piece of dialogue not exactly as written down in the book. Constructive, no? No.

But seriously, I want to see a sequel. Without using my imagination, that is.


What if...

I ran out of things to write?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Meanwhile, in a BBC Studio...

(The set of Mock the Week, although some wag has painted an 'l' and an 'a' onto the logo, meaning it now curiously reads 'MLock the Weak'. This seems to go completely unnoticed. Sitting in front of the set, going over their material, are Frankie Boyle and Hugh Dennis.)

BOYLE: So, how many jokes about Glasgow is the limit, you reckon?

DENNIS: One.

BOYLE: Because I was thinking eighteen might stretch it a bit... you know, for the opening monologue.

DENNIS: No, I tell a lie - zero. Zero is the limit. You are Scottish, we get the fucking picture.

BOYLE: It worked for Billy Connolly.

DENNIS: Forty years ago it was the cutting edge, yeah. But then fifty years ago cutting edge was Harry Secombe yelling about custard in his underpants. A hundred years ago it was Charlie Chaplin falling over on loop. Four hundred years ago it was a bloke in a silly hat with no balls singing. If you want to cut your bollocks off and do some James Blunt gear, though, I won't stop you. You talentless git.

BOYLE: Hey, do you think this abusive banter we're engaged with gives away the fact that the writer has no idea what our show is actually about and has just looked on a wikipedia page for less than a minute to get two names for a duologue?

DENNIS: I hope not.

BOYLE: Oh god.

DENNIS: What? Did you just do something funny?

(Dennis sees Boyle is looking at something over his shoulder, and makes to turn)

BOYLE: Don't look! Jesus Christ.

DENNIS: What is it? Your mum brought your lunch in late?

BOYLE: Shit, it's him, he's coming this way!

DENNIS: Who?

BOYLE: Him!

DENNIS: Him him?

BOYLE: Yeah.

DENNIS: Shit. Too late to pretend you haven't seen him?

BOYLE: Yeah.

DENNIS: Shit.

BOYLE: I'm texting security.

(MARTIN LOCK, an upbeat and borderline-insane runner emerges. He is notable for carying pages of printed-out materials, his ebullient demeanor, and for wearing a gigantic mask of a thoroughly demonic-looking blue eagle.)

MLOCK: Hullo, mates! It's been a long time, hasn't it?

DENNIS: It doesn't feel it.

BOYLE: How have you been?

(No pause)

DENNIS: That's nice, Marty, been working hard?

BOYLE: Anymore interviews for BBC Wales?

DENNIS: That you didn't just make up?

BOYLE: Nice flame-wars on the inta-web?

DENNIS: Anyway, it's been lovely talking to you byut we got work to do and really, really, really want you to fuck off right now.

MLOCK: Ah-haha, you guys are so funny.

BOYLE (Soto, to Dennis) Security, here in five minutes.

DENNIS: They better make it three.

MLOCK: I came here because some sillies are making my life damnably complicated on my internets! It really is disgraceful! The meanies need to stop taking Ben Chatham so seriously! So, I came here because I desperately need the internet weapon - the Strawman!!!

BOYLE: You what?

DENNIS: Take Dara - he's got no fucking heart, that's for sure.

MLOCK: Sillies! No, the Strawman is an argument of infinite power, based on a simple statement of questionable certifiability, guarenteed to win any internet debates with even less than the minimum of effort - you can see why I crave it so! Unfortunately, the one of calling somebody Hitler doesn't work quite as well these days, so I need something ever-so-slightly more substantial...

BOYLE: Ooookay..

MLOCK: Take a look at this! Hehe, isn't it funny? Funny, yes? Funny!!!

(MLock shoves various pieces of paper in their faces)

BOYLE: Erm..

DENNIS: You fucking loony.

MLOCK: Hah, yes, it is funny isn't it? Yes, it is! But now, something NOT funny, written by a PRETENDER! This man, this man YoA, he is BAD! Read this blog post he wrote when he was suffering from crippling depression.

(He shoves more pieces of paper into their faces)

MLOCK: Funny? No, not funny! And I know funny! YoA is jealous, sillies, jealous of me! Of MEEEEE!

(Finally, the security guards arrive and drag MLock away, brutally beating him in the process)

MLOCK: You meddlesome fools! You don't even understand, now I have all I need to fulfill my DREEEAMS OF CONQUEST! NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN STOP ME NOW, HAHAHAHA!

BOYLE: Have I mentioned that I believe that man foreshadows the inevitable fall of all Western civilization?

DENNIS: Every time we meet him you tedious twat. Got any new jokes yet?


As outlandish as the above events may seem, I have reason to believe that this is exactly what happened. And reason to not believe, but let's not go into that...