Monthly Archives: February 2013

“The Valentine Card is slightly psychic”

I’m breaking with convention to bring you something that could only really be posted today. (Besides, I’ve never tried mobile blogging.)

The original post is at Geeks are Sexy, but I’ve included the image below. Happy Hallmark Day! And remember, love was enough to kill the Cybermen…


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Meanwhile in the TURDIS (part 3)

I am signing off for a week: we are off on holiday. I leave you with our on-the-seat viewing for the last week or so.


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Penny. Bernard. Dan.

OK, something a little silly.

I suspect there are few hard and fast rules when it comes to sitcom writing. There are so many different ways of doing it. The establishment of conflict is perhaps the most important thing, provided that the laughs come first. There are, instead, a huge number of Things That Work: the recurring gag, the catchphrase, or the unusually named pitbull cameo (the establishment of a particularly funny, frequently gimmick-laden character who appears for only a short space of time in each episode, steals whatever scene they’re in, and promptly disappears – cf. Inspector Crabtree in ‘Allo ‘Allo). Indeed, unusual names for such idioms is the order of the day, frequently deriving their origin from the shows that were known to pioneer them. The Very Special Episode is one such example. Hey, even the terminology for a show that’s gone down the pan is named after a specific incident in one specific instalment of an otherwise much-loved institution.

I dearly, dearly wanted to come up with something special for the trope I demonstrate in this video, but I couldn’t come up with one. Instead, you will have to cope with the utter banality that is ‘the joy of repetition’. I make no apologies. It was getting late and I wanted to get the thing finished; it had taken far too long as it is.

When I was in my late teens / early twenties everyone was crazy for a man named Alan Partridge. He’s still very popular. Partridge’s appeal lies in his incredible lack of tact and generally disgraceful conduct with people he knows intimately and the complete strangers with whom he interacts. He is sneaky and uncannily self-aware, but is very good at getting himself off the hook, or so he thinks. He is the master of the awkward moment (he interrupts a grieving widow at a funeral so he can take a call from an electrical store) and the politically incorrect retort (when talking about the Irish potato famine, he reflects that “at the end of the day, you will pay the price for being a fussy eater”).

But one of the most famous scenes in the history of the show comes when Partridge greets a new-found friend (who turns out to be a lecherous swinger) by shouting his name across a car park. For thirty seconds. It’s not clever, or well-written, but by God is it funny, for no reason other than that it is utterly absurd.

A few years after Partridge swept across our screens for the first time, comedian Dylan Moran teamed with Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig (with the writing skills of Father Ted creator Graham Lineham) to bring us Black Books, the tale of a sociopathic alcoholic bookshop owner, his hippyish assistant and the dysfunctional girl next door. Black Books started well and then swiftly jumped the shark once Lineham departed, but the early episodes are awash with absurd dialogue and ludicrous situations – Manny hides inside a piano, playing it with spoons so that the tone-deaf Bernard can impress his girlfriend; Fran masturbates to The Shipping Forecast only to have it interrupted by a book reading from Joe Pasquale; Bernard turns the bookshop into a restaurant, drinks as much red wine as he can so that they can use the empty bottles as candle holders, and shoves pieces of the oven into a pie that poisons his guests. And that’s before we get to the tower of soup.

But one of the funniest – and most memorable – scenes in the show was in an early episode that features Manny wearing a head massager and shouting ‘Bernard!’. For thirty-four seconds. It’s not clever, or well-written, but again it’s funny, even without the punch line.

And then there’s The Big Bang Theory.

I blogged about this just the other day – chiefly concerning Thomas’s uncanny resemblance to Sheldon – but certainly TBBT is built on recurring gags. If you produce twenty-four episodes a year, you have to repeat yourself a little, so Raj’s inability to talk in a room while Penny is around (at least for the first two and a half series, which is how far we’ve got) is almost as common a theme as Sheldon and Leonard’s verbal tennis over the contents of the evening’s takeaway, or Sheldon’s bewildered astonishment whenever anyone takes ‘his’ seat.

But the most common recurring gag in TBBT is the door-knocking: it’s always three groups of three, and it’s always funny – particularly so when they subvert it, as you can see in a couple of the examples here. It encapsulates Sheldon and his relationship with the characters around him – and, in turn, their own relationship with him. It has its own poster. It’s something I do whenever I want to lightly annoy Emily without making her cross. She even laughed the first time.

But let me confess something. If I’m honest, I put this together for my brother, who loves all three shows. I’ve gone on about characterisation and pacing and repeated gags, but that’s just commentary. I have no real point to make – the ‘sitcom tropes’ I spoke of are really just an afterthought. In my head, the segue from Bill Bailey into Jim Parsons into Steve Coogan worked rather nicely – and it even worked on screen, once I’d tightened up the editing. So this is a moment of unabashed silliness from yours truly; a deeply personal dip into nostalgia and shared nights over a couple of beers with my younger sibling. Still, I may do a part two.

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“Jenny, I don’t think we should do roleplay any more.”

I may have just found Emily’s Valentine’s gift.*



Or, you know, there’s this one.


These are my favourites of the eight on the original post. The full list is available here (and thank you sj for brightening up my evening with that). Now, if someone can do an Ice Warriors dress, I can die happy.

* I’ve actually got her DS Mario Kart. She doesn’t read this blog so I don’t have to worry about her finding out. Probably.

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You’re a bad girl, Chloe Webber (revisited)

Today, I bring you the stuff of nightmares.


As acquired from here, and sent to me by sj and Gareth (separately, but within the same week). There’s an annoying reliance on New Who, with a couple of old standards thrown in (almost as if the artist decided to make it exclusively post-2005 and then ran out of ideas when he got to A, N and Q, and then more or less gave up once he reached W), and some of the scansion is downright appalling. Still, the images are lovely, and a lot of work has clearly gone into this, even if he has mis-spelled ‘Lazarus’…

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The Gold Road (revisited)

If you’ve been here a while, you may remember me talking about this.

If not, then the original post may shed some light. Anyway, I mention it here this evening because I’ve suddenly managed to stick the thing on YouTube, which is lovely because Viddler never got any traffic. I had a hunch that UMG might have slackened their copyright stance a bit (you can hardly blame them, after recent events, and they get no sympathy from me), so I tried uploading just to see what would happen, and it got through.

Anyway, that’s great, but it has a downside: viewing this sentimental hugfest has meant I now have to fight the urge to go back and revisit the entirety of Tennant’s run. I may eventually give in, of course, and just skip ‘Evolution of the Daleks’. Compromise works.

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Meanwhile in the TURDIS (part 2)

Here’s what Thomas and I have been watching the past few days.

(You could probably skip them all except for Babelcolour’s tribute to the Second Doctor, which is really quite lovely, and has made me determined to watch some Troughton over the next few weeks. Although the ‘functioning’ chameleon circuit is amusing…)


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Title mash

I mean, I don’t know why I never thought of it before.

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