Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Little Things

It's a JUMBLE post! None of these subjects are worhty of their own posts but they're on my mind and I'm bored:

1.

Re-watching Hornblower: The Even Chance today, I can only think that it is criminal in the glorious moment where Pellew shoots M'man Simpson down with a bloody big musket he doesn't get the line "Rule 1: Don't fuck with the best shot in the navy. Rule 2: ... we don't need a second rule."

But then I think like that a lot. Whenever I think about how Lord of the Rings the film would have been like if I wrote it, I would have to find someway to tide my overpowering disaster to hear everyone speaking in gagnsta slang.


2.

Speaking of Hornblower, it's one of the great shows with truly awful titles overseas. It is something that interests me a lot, because the expense of international titles is quite hefty: the credits, merchandising and all publicity needs to be done again. Yet, without fail, the new titles are worse.

Hornblower only suffered the indignity of three title changes:

The Even Chance = The Duel
The Examination for Lieutenant = The Fireships
The Frogs and the Lobsters = The Wrong War

This was before the second season where someone decided that two words in the titles were too much for the Americans to handle and the only answer was to employ B7-style titles for the remaining four eps. Fair enough.

My other favourite 19th-Century tale of British asskicker, the chronicles of Sharpe underwent the same indignity. Not in America, where barely anyone except the PBS eccentrics saw them, but in Germany. Where, curiously, the entire idea of naming a series after the main character who has literally all stories revolve around him was somehow objectionable and it become Das Scharfsch├╝tzen, or "The Sharpshooters".

On the face of it, this seems like a decent enough title, because Sharpe is, of course, a Lieutenant in the 95th Rifles, the first ever equivalent of a sniper unit due to the unprecedented accuracy of the Baker Rifle. But I suspect the Garmans only saw a few minutes and read up a little before giving the title because Sharpe's company in the Rifles is massacred about half an hour into the first episode and he is then attached to The South Essex, a regular infantry regiment. Yes, he keeps a handful of Riflemen under his command, but they usually don't play a particularly large role in proceedings.

It also causes an interesting dilemma, in that none of the original titles can now be used due to the fact that every episode is "Sharpe's [Noun]" So... I present 11 titles that have gone through Free Translation...

1. The Banner of the Blood
2. The Eagle of the Emperor
3. The Command of No Return
4. The Army of Terror
5. The Price of Honor
6. The Bloody Gold
7. The Wolf Hunt
8. Hereafter of the Death (???) [Possibly 'Life After Death' - Sharpe comes quite close to dying in this one]
9. The Missing Battalion
10. The Death Enemies (?) [I think it may be 'The Deadly Enemies'... a bit of a bad sell because although Sharpe's nemesis Ducos features but they never meet one another]
11. The Traitor

The final four episodes, for whatever reason, were never shown in Germany, so we can only imagine the titles that they would be given. Hmm, let's see...

12. The Enemies of Death
13. The Coming to Home of Darkness
14. The Battle of Hugeness
15. The Bloody India

I do kind of like the cheesy B-grade feel that a lot of them have.

One of the unfortunate side-effects of this is that when I was looking up info on the German broadcast, I found a post from a German guy on a message board about how much he liked the show but was unable to find Das Scharfsch├╝tzen DVDs anywhere. And he posted it a few years ago so I couldn't point him in the right direction. Because of the sentimental value screen-entertainment holds for my socially-malformed soul, this made me quite sad..

3.

But not as sad as the recent Ben Chatham threads. There's something about them that brings out the worst in people. The thing that gets to me that people who laugh along with Spara (or believe they do, as this is actually impossible to ascertain for certain), naming no names but hopefully making it clear who I mean, have the irritating habit of getting over-defensive to the point they are more ludicrous than the people who criticise Spara in the first place.

It ends up like 'Look, I read these stories for FUN! FUN, YOU BASTARDS, I'M HAVING FUN!!! AND HERE'S A 12-PAGE ESSAY ABOUT HOW MUCH FUN I'M HAVING!!!' and the whole thing deteriorates into a battle of the massive lists and rants, just like everything else on the internet.

It's the main reason I haven't been on OG for a while. At least, not under my usual pseudonym. It's getting so heated there that you'd have thought that we just beat India...



4.

Just like Ricky Ponting! Man, this segue thing is hard. But anyway, my rant the other day mysteriously has failed to extinguish flaring tempers in the cricketing community and now papers are running as many anti-Australian slurs as possible. There is clearly nothing short of an apology from Ponting himself and a clandestine back-door arrangement with the Board for Cricket Control in India to dive the Perth match that will absolve the situation - and rest assured, this will be in place given that the BCCI is essentially in control of 70% of the game's global revenue.

(Incidentally, anyone find it ironic that a corporate body accused of match-making conspiracies so often sould be named the Board for Cricket Control?)

It seems that nobody is happy with the fallout of the Sydney Test Match, but I'm certain it is of relief to a certain ABC commentator, who stated after Ricky Ponting emerged from the group hug following Australia's victory and raised his fists in trumph to the stadium that 'Ponting has now turned, and is fisting the crowd' in a rather frighteningly loud and proud voice. Funnily enough, some of the aggreived cricketing efficianados could well use those exact words to describe Punter's conduct in the game.

The gaffe, however, seems noticed by NO ONE. Even in the commentary booth, the surefire stream of inadvertent references to gay pornography was tragically cut short by Peter Roebuck, a former ODI-captain and alleged abuser of teenaged boys, screaming that "THIS IS A TEST MATCH WITH NO JUSTICE!!". Roebuck, of course, immediately went on to write a crackpot column saying that the only solution is firing Ponting immediately, which somehow ended up on the front page of the paper.

5.

That same newspaper stated that the most embarassing possible song to sing along to on an iPod in public was Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing. This is a song I have on my computer and I listened to it just a few moments ago to try and scale the embarassment factor. And I have to say that now the lyrics seem rather mild. Unless the article was referring to white guys trying to sing like a seemingless balless black guy. But just a cursory glance at my own .mp3 collection has revealed far more embarassing songs for a guy to sing along to in public:

* Anything by Brad Neely
* Eminem - Toy Soldiers (Yep, I know all the lyrics)
* Ben Folds - Bitches Ain't Shit
* Fat Boys - Wipeout
* Missy Higgins - The Special Two (I know as I sing along to this a lot)
* Kanye West -Heard 'em Say
* In fact just about anything by Kanye West
* D12 - My Band
* Who Cares? - Doctor In Distress
* Outkast - Roses (The one that has the chorus starting with 'I know you like to think yo' shit don' stank...')
* The Veronicas - 4eva
* The 'All Your Base Belong to Us' Song
* That KLF Doctor Who theme mix, thing whatever that was..
* Kid Rock - The Midnight Train to Memphis

Not all of those reading this blog, especially the one bloke who I know does read it, may be familar with the last entry. Or with Kid Rock for that matter. He's one of the many white US rappers doomed to a life of obscurity due to a variety of factors, among which are

i) The flavour of the month attitude prevailing over all 'R & B' artists
ii) The natural ostracisation caused by their skin-colour
iii) The fact that they have a knack for sucking.

He's also a Southerner, which adds an interesting touch. Or doesn't, depending on whether you choose to look at it from a viewpoint of rap buidling bridges between cultures or of Rock needing to fill the economic role of the latest lynching victims. But, anyway, this fact was presumably the reason for the song 'Midnight Train to Memphis' which was a laid-back and borderline insipid pseudo-country song played on the acoustic guitar, with lots of soft-tone singing about missing his girlfriend and what not. This ends abruptly after the bridge, though, where he sings a lyric about hitting the bottle again...

..and the music stops ominously...

Before hitting back an ear-bleeding beat, with Kid Rock screaming "COS THAT'S THE WAY I AM! ROCKING IT UP, FUCKING SHIT UP - WHAT?!?" with naught but pure rage pumping through the amp.

Hopefully you can see the embarassment factor. As I can in the fact I used to listen to that song all the time.

6.

In much the same way that RTD pisses me off all the time. And I'm sure without even trying.

In the end I enjoyed The Voyage of the Damned, but I was surprised that I actually enjoyed The Infinite Quest more either in spite of or because of its immaculately retarded storyline. And I hated the first half of Voyage. In fact, the first time I tried to watch it I stopped after thirteen minutes in disgust. (No idea what happens after 13 minutes I found so offensive... possibly nothing)

I was struck by the fact that there was nothing holistically wrong with the episode, but just lots of small, ultimately unimportant things that annoyed me. I'll see if I can work them all out:

1. Well, there's Rixton's characterisation for a start. He doesn't like fat people ergo he deserves to die. Deep.

2. The fact that all of the aliens look, dress and talk exactly like humans save for Bavakavalata.

3. The endless continuity references to Davies' own stories. (Specifically ones that ignore the decades of the show before RTD came along, such as "Yeah, every Christmas is like this for me..")

4. The jokes about Mr Copper misunderstanding Christmas were crap and had already been done so much better in The End of the World.

5. The fact that the alien ship is called The Titanic is... well, just another unfair trick on the audience. Or did RTD come up with the gag before he had the story?

6. It's so obvious that Geoffrey Palmer is going to crash the ship from his first scene. Could he be any more frigging transparent?

7. You get Kylie Minogue, a singer whose only strong attribute is the fact that she is hot, specifically in the rear baggage compartment, and give her the frumpiest look a companion has ever had. Have you EVER seen such an unflattering French Maid costume?! And such a roadkill-esque wig has not been seen since Tegan's last days! I had nowhere to look BUT her acting!! (Incidentally, I did learn something from this episode... although I know her arse, I had no idea what Kylie actually looks like. I thought I did but I was thinking of those photos where she looks just like Madonna. Because I thought Kylie played a lounge singer in the episode so kept waiting for her to show up while the Doctor talked to the boring waitress)

8. The Doctor specifically stating that he is 903 years old. I'm sure there's another angle to look at this than RTD attempting to erase Colin-PMG from the canon but that's the one that keeps sticking in my mind. And the suggestion that the seasons take place entirely in realtime is also one that irks me.

9. The whole Poisedon Adventure thing. I don't even know why but it just pissed me right off.

10. Is RTD in a contest with Moffat to take his mantle as most sex-obsessed TV writer? Because I don't care how much women like 'metal', I'm having trouble imagining a woman copulating with an upright coffin on golf-buggy wheels. And I think having trouble with that image is the best way to go...

11. So... Max Capricorn kept a replica 21st century forklift fully powered and with the keys in the ignition right near him WHY?!?

12. So... Max Capricorn's hidey-hole was directly across from a gigantic shaft down to the core of the enginge WHY?!?

13. So... Max Capricorn decided NOT to order the engines off right after the crash WHY?!?

14. So... Max Capricorn. WHY?!?

15. The bit where the Titanic didn't hit the Buckingham Palace really pissed me off when I watched it - I'm not sure why now. I think the idea that you can blow up everything else in London but the Royal Family themselves are out of bounds pissed me off. Maybe I was just in an irate mood.

16. Again with Rixton... how can Davies write anything so clumsily? He's meant to be a character writer! But no human being (yes, they're meant to be aliens but they never behave as anything but human) would ever go to a man in tears and start bragging about how much money they have for no reason, say "What do you think about that?" and strut off again after going through a harrowing disaster. Never. We all now Rixton isn't particularly nice but we don't need him to transform into a moustache-twirling cartoon character against all logic - Copper's little speech about not choosing who should live or who should die would have worked just as well if Rixton had just said how sorry he was about Astrid. Or maybe just mentioned the money off-handedly, rather than gloating about it.

But in the end I think I ended up liking it more than I disliked it - I think a big part of it was the inordinate number of return-performers. (Geoffrey Palmer, Clive Swift AND Bernard Cribbins? Is this a reunion special?) And the fact that Copper is the best one-off companion the Doctor has had.

What? Astrid? Who the hell is Astrid?

4 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

Well....

1. Too true. I wanna see Hornblower redubbed like Monkey Magic...

2. The alt titles for Even Chance and Frogs&Lobsters aren't that bad, but "THE FIRESHIPS?!" I mean, the plot idea from the last ten minutes of the movie?

3. Yeah.

5. You... sing along... to Doctor in Distress?

...

I have been unable to LISTEN to the thing. And I tried. And we all know I'm that austistic kinda fan who will listen/read/watch anything once. And after that chant at the start (which apparently contravenes BBC guidelines because no one can make out the words) I gave up.

So, you LISTENING to it and SINGING along... I can only assume it's much better after that stumbling block.

6.1. Yeah. I have to assume that RTD is burning out bad, plus the Christmas special means he thinks he has to dumb down (not that he did that with the last two).

6.2. As far as I can make out, RTD is basically saying all the aliens in Doctor Who that look just like humans but aren't are from Stow.

6.3. I thought it was OK, since the Doctor tends to act like his life only consists from New Teeth in the TARDIS. Ergo, every Christmas he had... plus The Unquiet Dead, I suppose...

6.4. Well said. At least Copper had a little pathos...

6.5. I dunno, but it's clear the TARDIS crash gag has nothing to do with the story. Watch it be retconned before thy gaze!

6.6. No. But he's a grumpy old man, and I haven't seen him smile since 1992. Brilliant tactic.

6.7. True.

6.8. I don't have a good explanation for that - even saying that when Sylv said he was 953, it was two seconds after screaming Mel was wearing a wig and trying to kick her head off with ninja moves - since series one established that it's 900 years since The Unearthly Child, so he's already older. And... 903? What about the Year That Never Was? And the 3 years in Infinite Quest, plus all the missing adventures...

Wait. Got an explanation. The Doctor is clearly confused at the time (1, A, 3, no B etc) so he's trying to look cool and fluffed the line.

6.9. Yeah. Haven't wanted to watch it again (bar to relisten to the theme music and watch the trailer).

6.10. Looks like. I assume that Maxy was on about cyborg women, since he would be shunned by norms, so they might have... attachments. God, now I'm doing it...

6.11. He's a loser, baby.

6.12. Because the whole thing is a vent and when the engines blow OUT, it will barely touch the capsule he's hiding in.

6.13. He wants it to look like a genuine accident. But then again, he's clearly nuts. And shit at planning things. Could be a character point than a goof.

6.14. Maybe RTD has a bitter ex called Max, hence slagging him off with Jagrafresses and severed heads?

6.15. I know. They got the Queen out (and her staff), so the Doctor wouldn't lose any moral points by smashing the place.

6.16. He's clearly burning out. Five eps, plus the Christmas special, plus the plot of the series... I'd be worried about his health, to be honest.

6.12 I agree. Like Frobisher in the body of an old man. Mr Copper should be in the comics!

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

The alt titles for Even Chance and Frogs&Lobsters aren't that bad, but "THE FIRESHIPS?!" I mean, the plot idea from the last ten minutes of the movie?

Almost counts as a spoiler doesn't it?

You... sing along... to Doctor in Distress?

No.

Well, almost never.

See, it's a hyptothetical that it's one of the absolute worst songs to sing to in punlic.

So, you LISTENING to it and SINGING along... I can only assume it's much better after that stumbling block.

Erm.... no. Not really. It kinda just gets progressively embarassing in its sheer badness.

I thought it was OK, since the Doctor tends to act like his life only consists from New Teeth in the TARDIS. Ergo, every Christmas he had... plus The Unquiet Dead, I suppose...

Hmm, alright...

True.

Her acting was also dreadful.

But then you knew that, didn't you?

Wait. Got an explanation. The Doctor is clearly confused at the time (1, A, 3, no B etc) so he's trying to look cool and fluffed the line.

... you retcon master-fiend.

So, he meant to say twelve-hundred and three or something?

Yeah. Haven't wanted to watch it again (bar to relisten to the theme music and watch the trailer).

The trailer seemed laid-back compared the others. But then, it's apparently the 'lighter' season.

Because the whole thing is a vent and when the engines blow OUT, it will barely touch the capsule he's hiding in.

Oh, so the capsule is LAUNCHED by the engines exploding then?

I know. They got the Queen out (and her staff), so the Doctor wouldn't lose any moral points by smashing the place.

Budget ran out?

I agree. Like Frobisher in the body of an old man. Mr Copper should be in the comics!

I find it weird that everyone goes on about the Doctor taking old women as his companions (Prof. Rutherford, Prof. Smythe) so much, but ignore the more entertaining old men (Prof. Reubish, Prof. Lightfoot) that he meets and gets on with. Copper for companion!

Cameron Mason said...


Man, this segue thing is hard.


Just count yourself lucky you're not writing them for Today Tonight...

Cameron

Youth of Australia said...

Almost counts as a spoiler doesn't it?
I suppose. I admit that "Examination for Lieutenant" doesn't strike fear into the hearts of men, but it's a better title - since the examination is him learning to deal with people, not hijacking fire ships...

No.
Well, almost never.
See, it's a hyptothetical that it's one of the absolute worst songs to sing to in punlic.

Oh thank christ for that.

Erm.... no. Not really. It kinda just gets progressively embarassing in its sheer badness.
Apparently Anthony Ainley giggles in it... unscripted.

Her acting was also dreadful.
But then you knew that, didn't you?

Well, we're not talking Richard Briers, but then again, we're not talking Carey Mulligan either.

I think maybe she should have appeared at herself. It would be easier for me to suspend disbelief. Maybe if the aliens were Navarinos, who turned themselves into humans from TV...

... you retcon master-fiend.
It's kept me alive so far.

So, he meant to say twelve-hundred and three or something?
He was going to say "nine hundred and X" or maybe just "nine hundred", but got jumbled but managed to make it sound completely natural.

Like "sexual air supply".

The trailer seemed laid-back compared the others. But then, it's apparently the 'lighter' season.
Maybe down to the lack of theme music? But it is odd, as this is the first trailer to scream "nostalgia" rather than "brand new characters!"

Oh, so the capsule is LAUNCHED by the engines exploding then?
Yeah, so it can be collected by Max's relief ship.

Budget ran out?
Between you and me, I think they were running under and had to edit it out. Like the slow mo death of Astrid, which... just feels stupid. RTD's never gone for such slow mo crap before.

I find it weird that everyone goes on about the Doctor taking old women as his companions (Prof. Rutherford, Prof. Smythe) so much, but ignore the more entertaining old men (Prof. Reubish, Prof. Lightfoot) that he meets and gets on with. Copper for companion!
He's got wanderlust, a shady past, a clear moral compass and the gift of the gab...

Hell, I think he deserves a spin off more than K9 does...