Posts Tagged With: dinopaws

The tenuous Doctor Who / CBeebies connection, part 34 1/2

 

Five memes. Some are Who-connected. Most are not.

1. The obligatory Bing thing

Bing_TARDIS

2. The ‘two cultural references in one meme’ / ‘well, there’s sort of a Big Barn Farm connection’ thing.

Babe-Pig

3. The obligatory Dinopaws thing.

Dinopaws_23

4. The ‘vaguely topical’ / ‘why didn’t I think of this one earlier’ thing.

Messi_Okido

5. And finally, the ‘Catastrophic revelation’ one.

Maisie_Tele

 

Have a lovely Sunday!

 

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Walk the Dinopaw

At some point, I’ll write about the second half of our London trip, the as-yet unidentified companion, and a bunch of other stuff I’ve been thinking about. Funny how having no series of Doctor Who to look forward to keeps you busy.

In the meantime: this is one of the tightest (and most unified) things I’ve ever done. It was semi-commissioned by Alan Gilbey, who sort of asked for it after he saw the ‘Uptown Funk’ video. And it’s not as if we need an excuse to listen to ‘Walk The Dinosaur’.

Anyway, it gives you a good idea of what Gwen, Bob and Tony get up to when they’re not prepping for Towel Day. Enjoy your Sunday, won’t you?

Dinopaws_21

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Why CBeebies is bad for your children

All right, here’s how it normally goes.

Complaining parent: I have just been watching Bing with my child. I object strenuously to the language. He talks nonsense and nobody corrects him!

Me: Well, Bing is supposed to be three. He’s still learning language. The adults do correct them, but they do it by example. If they made a show that was entirely about fixing grammatical errors, it would be mind-numbingly tedious. Plus if they all spoke perfect English it would just grate. I’ve seen shows that do that, and they’re tortuous to watch.

Complaining parent: Children are just going to pick up bad habits, though. It’s CBeebies’ job to give them role models.

Me: Not as such. It’s CBeebies’ job to entertain and educate. It does that by presenting realistic, rounded characters. We could argue back and forth about Bing – certainly Flop is far too patient to be even remotely plausible – but the use of language _is_ comparatively realistic.

Whining parent-who-is-probably-friends-with thread originator: Dinopaws is another one. “Thunk”. THAT’S NOT A REAL WORD!

Me: Dinopaws plays with language. The world is very new, remember? They’re trying things out, and part of that is the formulation of language, when applied to things they discover. That’s why they make up words occasionally.

Whining parent: I’m not having my children use made-up words.

Me: So presumably you won’t allow them to read Spike Milligan or Lewis Carroll, then? Or Shakespeare, who supposedly invented half the words in the dictionary?

Complaining parent: Well, it’s all very well, but children are like sponges. They learn from the TV.

Me: They really don’t. Before Bing, it was In The Night Garden. It goes right back to Bill and Ben. A generation has been exposed to Teletubbies and it hasn’t done them any harm.

Illiterate parent: i disagree i seen wot kids are sayin and they dont no how to talk proper and its not right, i thought Cbeebies was there to educate are children but thats just my opinion

Me: [considers re-evaluating previous statement]

Complaining parent: Well, there are children whose parents don’t speak to them enough and just let them watch telly all day and their children will pick up bad habits.

Me: Then they’re bad parents. And that’s something for which the BBC cannot and should not be held accountable.

Complaining parent: All the same, I don’t want my children exposed to language like this. I don’t think these shows should be on TV.

Me: So don’t watch. No one has a gun to your head. But these programmes are very popular and while I can’t exactly quantify the educational benefits, I don’t think they’re detrimental to language development.

Complaining parent: I disagree. I think they should be removed and CBeebies should be more responsible.

Me: CBeebies is more responsible than you realise. They don’t just turn up in a studio and make stuff. This is all researched, argued and discussed all the way up.

Complaining parent: Well, it’s just my opinion. I have a right to state my opinion.

Me: Yes, and I have a right to disagree with you if I see fit.

Complaining parent: Go away. It’s none of your business.

Me: You made it my business when you posted this in a public forum. If you’re that cross about this, send a private message to the BBC. If you’re going to post things on the internet, you have to accept the consequences: people are going to talk back.

Complaining parent: [deletes thread]

Bing_Blackboard

I’ve lost count. I mean it. I sometimes feel I ought to feed these stock phrases into a computer, like they do with children’s school reports, and print out standard responses to save me constantly having to type the same thing over and over. It’s not that the language thing is a majority viewpoint. It’s just that the ones who find it an issue see it as their moral duty to tell the people who made the programme what they’ve heard a hundred times before and don’t care about anyway, and unfortunately I see it as my duty to tell them where they’re going wrong. And so on and so on. It’s Forth Bridge territory (that’s the Forth Bridge as it used to be, before they got that shiny paint that lasts for decades). The worst thing is that such discussions nearly always seem to deteriorate into a slanging match – or, if you want to rework that Beach Boys / Crystals song:

I got into an argument on Facebook just the other day
Disagreed with someone who kept telling me to go away
She asked me why I did engage
I said it was a public page
She fell into a sweary rage
And then she blocked me.

Why do I continue to have this argument? Well, the BBC gets enough flak and is subjected to constant bashing from people who want it to be a bespoke organisation tailored to their own particular needs, and can’t (or won’t) understand why this can never happen. But I wrote an entire paragraph about learning from my own mistakes and wanting to inspire others, and then deleted it – because the inconvenient truth (and I’ve never shied away from this) is that, rather like C.S. Lewis, I like a good fight. Who doesn’t? And who doesn’t want to win and relish in winning? Some days I feel as if I’ve won a victory for common sense and rationality. Other times, after getting blocked by Stacey from Gillingham and threatened by her knuckle-dragging boyfriend, I feel like I’m punching below my weight, and I hate myself.

I didn’t want this to turn into a navel-gazing exercise, so we will abandon the introspection. For the curious, here are some facts:

– There is no BBC-led conspiracy to dumb down your children.

– If you really think an authentic portrayal of developing language is going to harm your children, you need to get out more.

– If you don’t like the gibberish, tough. You’re not the intended audience.

– “Please, won’t somebody think of the parents?” is the world’s worst campaign slogan.

That last one seems to be prevalent in abundance whenever the BBC bring back a supposedly annoying show – which happened late last year during the Teletubbies resurrection. “NOOOO!” was the standard response. “Can’t stand the annoying things, stunting our children’s development” – the sort of statement that shows they’d not only missed the point, they’d not even noticed the point is there: the point is a dot on the horizon, hidden behind one of those hills populated by a CG windmill, a suspiciously plump Dipsy and a nervous-looking rabbit.

“I hope,” said one particular person, who shall remain anonymous because I can’t be arsed trawling through the archives to find her, “that you will listen to these complaints about the new series of Teletubbies and not actually broadcast it. Because no one wants to see this rubbish.” Someone really should tell my two-year-old, who watches every episode of this rubbish with an unbridled sense of joy. The dancing, the repeated language, the colourful enthusiasm – it’s all tailor-made for his age group, and he knows it. I know it. There’s always the risk that he’s picking up bad habits, so the other day I tested him by singing the theme song.

Me: Tinky Winky…
Edward: Dipsy…
Me: La-La…
Edward: Po…
Me: Teletubbies…
Edward: Teletubbies…
Me: Say…hello!
Edward: Hello!

Q.E.D.

Of course, once the series actually aired the complaints died a sudden death, presumably because all the affronted parents had either seen the error of their ways or simply switched over to Milkshake, where you can endure the formerly great series that is Thomas and Friends and cultivate a sense of consumer greed and gender labelling in your children during those appalling ad breaks. In the end, the only things that made me seriously cross in the new series of Teletubbies were some of the cosmetic changes – the fact that the fabulous foursome now have to ask before doing big hugs (an adjustment that’s presumably wrapped up in the consent debacle), along with the freshly-painted Noo Noo, and the needless redecoration of the Home Dome.

Doc_Dome

There are always new parents on the CBeebies Facebook page, and always new people to be reassured, but back in November, after a hundred or so of these conversations, I’d had enough. There had to be a better way to get rid of some of the angst, and it turned out to be satire. You may cast the blame squarely at daytime TV, and the sort of heart-rending commercials that saturate ad breaks in between Judge Judy and the Come Dine With Me marathons. Adopt a snow leopard? Check. Heart disease? Yup, got it. Jean and his filthy water, gazing solemnly into the camera as the flies buzz around him? Oh, you’ve seen that one, haven’t you? I wouldn’t trade places with that poor kid for all the coffee in Brazil, but the cynic in me notes with appreciation how the emotional content of such campaigns is milked for maximum tissue effect. For better or worse there is a formula to these things, and if nothing else, I think I grasped it here.

I will spare you most of the production details. It was a troubled shoot, because one child wasn’t being particularly cooperative, although I managed to get some usable footage. Music was a public domain piece I found on YouTube and narration came courtesy of the splendid David Winstanley, whom some of you may remember from that spoof Public Information Film I did a while back about the dangers of playing in quarries. Most of my friends seemed to get the joke immediately, undoubtedly thanks to my Facebook arguments clogging up their timeline. But somewhat predictably, there were a good number of people who completely missed the satire. “You’ve written ‘biggerer’ at the end,” said one person. “Doesn’t that undermine your point?”

Then there’s Ian Bellis, whose YouTube comment deserves reproducing more or less in full. “I think it is time Cbeebies got took off BBC,” he says, “because it is doing those things to the children out there. Also there is a inappropriate TV show on there. Get well soon. It is because of a silly doctor named Doctor Ranj and he is talking about Wee, Poo and they dancing about being sick and singing too! Nobody wants to dance or sing when they are poorly! CBBC is more better! Chuggington is one annoying TV show, where trains jump up and down and turn quickly around bends. Nobody wants to ride on a Chuggington train! The only shows on Cbeebies which don’t affect your speech and make you learn about stuff is Go Jetters and Topsy and Tim! Cbeebies should not make shows that affect speeches and don’t make you grow up like a baby!”

If it’s meant to be ironic, he does a darn good job and he has yet to admit that he was joking. Either way, it’s a prime example of the principle “that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, parodies of extreme views will be mistaken by some readers or viewers for sincere expressions of the parodied views”- or, to give it its proper name, Poe’s law, after Nathan Poe, as opposed to Edgar Allan.

Po

Yes. Well.

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The CBeebies Amalgamation (part two)

First of all, this.

I mean, I have no idea what’s going on here. I assume it’s some sort of satanic ritual before the Japanese airing of Dinopaws (or ダイナパウズ)たいそう, as they call it over there). The shouted names, the manic dancing…it’s obviously supposed to conjure up the spirit of long-dead reptiles. All that’s needed is a vial of incense and a couple of sacrificial chickens. I checked the ‘up next’ suggestions and there are a bunch of these, which I opted not to see because there’s only so much excitement you can take in one day.

Whovians amongst you, of course, will have figured out that the chap on the right does appear for some reason to be wearing the Sixth Doctor’s coat. Cosplay suggestions for his grinning companion are more than welcome; please leave them in the usual place.

Coat

Dinopaws is a programme we talk about quite a bit here at Brian of Morbius, mostly because it’s one of the most endearing and imaginative shows to hit CBeebies in years. It’s earned its share of bad press, of course, largely because of the language component: Gwen and Bob are still playing with the concept of language (Tony appears to have made up his own, and it’s strangely reminiscent of the sacred words held by the Knights Who Say / Who Until Recently Said ‘Ni’.) This leads to all manner of complaints about made-up words and language development delays from parents with nothing much else in their lives. Children learn language from the adults they interact with; anyone who is picking up permanent habits from TV is watching too much of it. To conclude that it’s the BBC’s responsibility to educate our children is to completely pass the parenting buck. Such stupidity also ignores the work of Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash and Spike Milligan, but let’s not go over all that again.

There’s a darker component to Dinopaws, of course, when it comes to feedback, and that’s the inevitability of the creatures’ eventual demise at the hands of a massive meteor / comet / crashed spaceship containing an impetuous maths prodigy. Cue much doom and gloom across the Twittersphere from parents who find themselves unable to truly enjoy the programme because of the looming threat of a total extinction event. Except that’s not the way it works, because (as we keep saying) Dinopaws isn’t set on Earth. It’s set on another planet, called Marge, with all sorts of other things going on. Not convinced? Look at the sky! The sky is all over the place! That’s not a Pangean sky!

Look, why stop there? There’s a lack of realism all over the shop. Why not discuss the fact that the theme to Topsy and Tim really ought to contain the words “We can be / Anything / But only within the confines of particular gender stereotypes”?. (That one’s mine, so if you use it, copyright Donna Noble.) Or the happy-go-lucky Petal, Dash, Digger and Gobo, who spend their days in the barn in blissfully doomed contentment.

You’re not supposed to tell children about this, of course, which is presumably why a recent episode of Meet The Kittens – in which a mother cat brought back a dead rabbit for her babies – caused such a stir. There’s no blood in the scene, but they do spend a good deal of time filming the dead animal as it’s dragged across the staircase, and when the episode was re-shown this week the CBeebies Facebook page saw more than a few complaints. “Pretty discusted of seeing what i just saw,” wrote one user. “It upset my children as they love rabbits and i think it would upset other children yes show kittens with it mother but not a cat what has caught it prey and taking it to its kittens to feast on i do not want my children watching that kind of stuff on cbeebies i think u need to say sorry on air to all the viewers as that was unexceptable.”

That was one of the less vitriolic remarks. Others got very upset. One person, in particular, saw it as an opportunity to describe every parent who approved as one of the most disgusting people she’d ever met, and when she was called out on this hyperbole she became violently defensive. In the end she opted to leave the conversation because the longer it went on, the more people were not only disagreeing with her but also calling her out for her behaviour and somewhat judgemental tone, which she took very personally. How dare they, she seemed to be suggesting, how dare they have the audacity to tell her she was wrong when she was simply stating what she felt?

Herein lies the problem with most online debate. The moment a remark leaves your head and makes its way to a public forum, it’s no longer your property. It can be retweeted, re-posted, screen-grabbed and ripped to shreds, in a group or on someone’s profile or even in the pages of an online newspaper. There’s a right and a wrong way of doing this. I always make the point of looking at public profiles of anyone I’m about to have an argument with; it enables me to know whether I ought to make allowances or concessions, and it’s worth it even when you get called a ‘weirdo’ or a ‘stalker’. If you want to avoid the potential repercussions for inflammatory viewpoints then for God’s sake keep them private. Facebook is not private. Shouting on a Facebook forum is the metaphorical equivalent of standing up in a Q&A session and talking bollocks; no one will necessarily stop you at first, but you’ll reap what you sow when people start to answer back.

“But it’s MY OPINION,” comes the whiny response from Chantelle or Scott or Claire (or, worst of all, Leanne Logan’smummy). To which my standard response is “So what?”. This so-called right to an opinion is bullshit. It’s something they teach children now before they’re really ready for the responsibility of credible sources and elementary logic (and I know this, having seen it first hand) and we’re now experiencing the fallout on social media. If I told you that the sky was green and that it was my opinion, you’d still tell me I was wrong, and you’d be correct to do so. If I told you that you were a lousy footballer (or, more to the point, a bad parent) and my opinions contained not a shred of credibility you’d argue the toss, and once again you’d be correct. I post all manner of crap on here about Doctor Who and I’m ready to defend every single word of it when challenged. I would expect the same of any rational adult. I’ll routinely tell people this. And if I consider them semi-literate, I’ll point them towards this article here, which sums up my views on things better than I ever could.

tottie1

But listen. Listen carefully. When I was just shy of six years old, I saw an Oliver Postgate programme called Tottie: Story of a Doll’s House. It featured a glacially beautiful, morally twisted doll called March Payne who – in her endeavours to become the sole object of her owner’s affection – started a house fire with paraffin that resulted in the death of one of the other dolls. There was no detail, but it frightened me. And I got over it. When I was four, I saw a public information film in which a young girl ran out into the road and got hit by a car. It terrified me. From that day to this I have been careful when I cross the street, and I keep the gate shut.

Also when I was four, I saw the final episode of ‘Earthshock’, in which Adric dies at the hands of the Cybermen and the credits rolled in silence over a view of his shattered badge. It upset me. When I was seven, I saw an episode of Ulysses 31 in which the characters in suspended animation aged almost to death. It wasn’t the sort of thing that would normally frighten people but it gave me nightmares. When I was eight or nine there was a programme called Knightmare which featured dissolving flesh and cracking skulls. I can still see those images in my head if I concentrate, but it doesn’t matter. When I was nine or ten, there was an ITV show called Wizbit, and don’t get me started on that.

Children bounce back. I bounced back. In our haste to protect our loved ones from the monsters, we’ve forgotten that kid’s TV used to be absolutely horrible. That’s part of being young. You get over it. Memories are short and young minds are durable. That’s why I introduced mine to Doctor Who as soon as I felt they were ready, and why I watch them squirm at the gore with a curious delight. Up to a given point, it builds character. Discussing death builds character. Joshua has never forgotten the face-melting in Raiders of the Lost Ark but it hasn’t warped him psychologically. Part of this, I am convinced, stems from the time he watched our cat die when he was two years old. He accepts it, in a way that Logan-son-of-Leanne never could, because she’d rather wait “until he’s ready”, innit. That’s entirely her choice, but don’t call me out for doing it differently, and don’t accuse the BBC of negligence when you know nothing of its practices. This is a channel that routinely censors fairy tales to suit its intended audience. They’re not beyond reproach, but they know what they’re doing.

Alas, none of this matters when you’re arguing on Facebook. I shouldn’t be surprised. We’re in a world where university courses are censored because of complaints from students who take exception to ‘offensive content’. I’m not opposed to political correctness. I don’t advocate racial or gender stereotyping. I understand why they no longer broadcast It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. But I do wonder when we started to lose our backbone. More to the point, I wonder what these whining grown-ups with too much free time actually want from these emotive, expletive-ridden rants. What would it take to redress the balance? What would it take to make the act of a dead rabbit acceptable?

No, you really didn’t see this. Move along.

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Dinopaws Revisited

You’ll have to wait a few more days for the more substantial post I have planned; it’ll go up when I’m not thinking about packing for festivals. In the meantime, Dinopaws. Because Dinopaws is great, and it’s been a while.

Dinopaws_8

 

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Yip yip yip, exterminate

Here’s an upsetting thing I realised a couple of years ago. Somewhere in New York, there’s a disorientated fifty-year-old vagrant wandering around with a permanently bewildered expression, asking anyone who will listen “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”. No one will tell him, because no one knows the answer. A few people with good memories tell him to follow his nose until the air is sweet, but you really have to go out of town for that sort of sensation, so he wanders, aimless, mumbling. (Actually, even though Sesame Street was set in New York, the vagrant is probably in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is full of people like that.)

We have been watching a lot of Sesame Street this past week, largely because Thomas has taken a sudden interest. I’m glad. Sesame Street was essential viewing when I was his age, but it occurs to me now – living in the UK, where it is no longer shown – that there is a generation of children growing up who have no real awareness of the adventures of Bert, Ernie and Mr Snufilop Snuffalop Snuphalop – oh, the mammoth. Sometimes you reach a point where you assume that everyone has a similar level of knowledge about various cultural icons, and it comes as something of a shock to discover that no, the kids can’t name a single Beatles song, nor do they know what a record player is. You get round this – at least I get round this – by playing YouTube videos of ‘Monster in the Mirror‘ every chance you get, if only because it features Jeff Goldblum.

Coincidentally, I also combined last night’s hour ironing session with the second half of ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. If you haven’t seen this one, it features a sinister minister who – if you’re of a certain age – cannot be taken truly seriously once you learn his name.

Even without the presence of Charles Grover, ‘Invasion’ is ridiculous. It is full of people who are either in on the conspiracy or too blind to see that the conspiracy exists. The colonists who are sitting in a ‘spacecraft’ that’s actually three rooms in an underground bunker and thus not vibrating at all are so colossally stupid you cannot imagine how anyone could ever have thought that they were the creme de la creme of what 1970s / 1980s* society had to offer. There is the sad and somewhat unjust fall of Mike Yates. There is the bunker map and its unfortunate visual resemblance to a Cluedo board. There is the wildly implausible idea of rolling back the world to the Jurassic era in order to start again, although one of the offending scientists is played by Martin Jarvis, which means I’m prepared to be a little more accommodating than usual.

* see UNIT dating controversy.

It’s a shame, because the cast in general is great, with Pertwee on fine form and some wonderful scenes with Benton and the Brigadier. But in fandom this is one of those stories that is remembered largely for its ropy effects (indeed, that seems to be Lis Sladen’s overriding memory of things, from what I can remember of her autobiography). Allowances do need to be made for the passing of time, but in this case the criticism has weight – the dinosaurs in ‘Invasion’ are like the England football team, in that they actually look reasonably effective until they have to start moving. There is a fight in Smithfield Market between a brontosaurus and a T-Rex that borders on laughable, but even this is eclipsed by the scene in which the Doctor fights off a swarm of pterodactyls with a mop – a scene that might have worked if  they’d manage to source some decent sound effects, rather than having the puppeteer shouting “Caw! Caw!” just off camera.

I mean they should have done this. This would have worked.

“I think,” says Bob, “that this could be the bestimost story ev-”

Look, I was talking about Sesame Street. I was struggling a little with the obvious crossovers. You will recall, of course, the Martians who appeared out of thin shimmery air in order to look at household objects (and, occasionally, sing about babies). I asked Gareth if they reminded him of anything, and his initial answer was the Axons, “but it’s not that close”. And it isn’t, but if we add the Ood, and a certain Lovecraftian eater of worlds –

Martian_Sesame

 

Elsewhere, there is Sam the Robot, who is convinced he’s actually on Mulberry Street, rather than Sesame Street. “My first thought was that it was a bit like a Mechanoid, but not much,” says Gareth. “And then I thought no, if anything, it’s much more like the TARDIS console”. And indeed, it is.

 

Sam_Sesame

But it’s left to the cast themselves to drop in a direct reference to Doctor Who, courtesy once more of Grover:

Anyway, I was thinking about all this the other day when the boys were watching a classic Sesame Street sketch in which Ernie makes a statue of Bert, and – well…

Bert-Ernie-statue

Me: Look! What’s wrong with the statue?

Daniel: He’s got no nose!

Me: Right! How will he smell?

Thomas: He can’t. He’s a statue.

Me: Ha ha.

Thomas: Unless he’s a Weeping Angel or something.

 

“Whatever you do,” said Gareth, “don’t stink.”

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Dum. Dum dum. Dum dum dumdumdumda-

I will write about Butlins next time I’m here, but two things happened there that bear a brief mention before I tackle a stack of dirty dishes.

In the first instance, we managed to survive almost the entire holiday without catching a sight of a certain wretched purple monstrosity, and the moment we inevitably didI had an instant idea for a Dinopaws mashup.

The second was that everyone spent the entire week, it seems, talking about the Eastenders live week, whether it was the papers speculating over whether guilt-ridden glances from Ian had unmasked him, or the idiot in the U.S. who genuinely thought the whole thing was a badly scripted / “obviously fake” fly-on-the-wall, with an air of criminal irresponsibility on the part of the producers – “Why didn’t they, like, go to the police?”. (Well, it’s either a genuine moron or a guy playing at being a moron and irritating me in the process. I’d link to it, except it’ll probably be gone by the time you read this.)

The truth was revealed on the Thursday, when it transpired that Lucy’s killer was none other than her younger brother Bobby, discovered in flashback, clutching the music box that delivered the fatal blow (I assume; I’ve not actually watched it). Which made me think about the opening to season 24, and how ‘Time and the Rani’ could have been much better if they’d done this.

 

 

Hey, Rani. Barney. It rhymes.

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Mugabe Stumbles

If you read this regularly, you’ll know that I normally space posts out in order to avoid spamming you with excessive waffling. However, I have made an exception today, in order to comment on the sensational news story that made headlines across the world yesterday, as ROBERT MUGABE FALLS OVER WALKING DOWN SOME STEPS.

Actually, it wasn’t so much that part that made us all interested as much as the security detail’s unsuccessful attempts to destroy the copious photographic evidence amassed after the unfortunate incident. This – coupled with the West’s general hatred for the incompetent despot – caused the whole thing that go viral in a series of Photoshopped images, some of which were better than others. There is a part of me that feels a little bit uncomfortable about laughing at a ninety-year-old man tripping over his own feet, but I have no love for Mugabe or his regime, having heard first hand about some of the things he did, from people who lived there.

But this isn’t a political post; this is just me weighing in with the usual selection of hastily assembled JPEGs. First we have the obligatory Dinopaws photo.

 

And in another forest elsewhere, the Eleventh Doctor is running away from…something. (I think this is ‘Hide’, but I can’t be absolutely sure.)

 

Here’s Mugabe hanging out with the Scooby gang.

 

And finally (and I confess I rather like this one) here’s a deleted scene from ‘Pyramids of Mars’.

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Confessions of a crap artist

Even when there’s nothing on TV and precious little in the news, we still manage to find ways of saturating our lives with Doctor Who. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you get stared at in the street, at least when you’re wearing the fedora and striped scarf (in June), and conversations with more sane, less obsessed people frequently end with the word “Riiiiigghhht….”, Doctor Evil style. I burned all my bridges with normalcy and adulthood long ago. Or, to quote C.S. Lewis, “When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

To start: further adventures of the Dinopaws troupe.

(This comes hot on the heels of the video I did last week, and the closing episodes of ‘Earthshock’. It seemed such an obvious joke – so obvious, of course, that the BBC got there years ago with Episode Five, but anyway.)

I completed that video to discover that Edward had regenerated.

IMG_4587_ed

 

Emily did this one evening and it damn near gave me a heart attack. It’s one of those freaky pictures you share with no one, which is presumably why I’ve stuck it on a blog that no one reads so that the whole world could theoretically see it. I would add that he is grinning underneath there. Honest guv.

Meanwhile Thomas has been reading the further adventures of Biff, Chip and Kipper, in a series for older readers with more time travel and an ongoing storyline. Oh, and this.

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Never mind the fact that Mr Mortlock’s first name is Theodore, and ‘Theodore Mortlock’ is an anagram of ‘The Elk Room Doctor’. Which I don’t think can be a coincidence.

Today I went to a carer’s social event where we got to decorate mugs. I confess I was dreading it. I have become something of a hermit these past six months, having been surrounded by people all day every day for years, and I have to say that solitude suits me. Maybe it’s a sign of age, but I am beginning to find people irritating. The world is really just an extension of Facebook, replete with the same superficiality. I have decided that Looking Up gets me nowhere; I just wind up making eye contact with people I don’t want to see.

“Get out of the house,” urged Emily. “Do something.” So I did. And besides, you know, mug decorating. Not to be sniffed at. I’m rubbish at drawing, but give me a picture to copy and I’m marginally less rubbish.

So, obviously.

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This has been a good day.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dinopaws on a Spaceship

Dinopaws sits on the CBeebies morning schedule like one of those towns you see in the distance on the 7:30 commute – the briefest, most tantalising of glimpses into another place. A light-hearted romp set ostensibly in Earth’s distant past but actually located (I have on good authority) on the shores of an alien world, it comes across as a curious hybrid of Q-Pootle 5 and Moschops. Three anthropomorphic lizards explore familiar and unfamiliar terrain, delighting in the strange and unusual things they discover with a caveman’s evolutionary curiosity and the wonder and enthusiasm of a child. Charming and warm without straying into kitsch, it’s accessible enough to be enjoyed by small people, and wistful and silly enough for adults to find plenty to keep them amused. I need not tell you, I suspect, that it’s a hit in our house.

The regular cast of Dinopaws totals three: assertive, confident Gwen (Amanda Abbington), solid, reliable Bob (Bob Golding), and the excitable Tony (Keith Wickham), who speaks mostly in squeaks and unusual noises and who refuses to sit still for more than thirty seconds. It’s the brainchild of writer Alan Gilbey (What’s The Big Idea?) in conjunction with Melanie Stokes and Cosgrove Hall veteran Jon Doyle, who worked on ‘Scream of the Shalka’, amongst other things. The show has been met with general acclaim, although some people have missed the point a bit, asking whether two-headed dinosaur has any historical validity (no, it doesn’t – it’s extraterrestrial) and complaining about Gwen’s tendency to make up words, ignoring the fact that she’s supposed to be a small child, and that this is the sort of thing that small children do all the time. Perhaps the most amusing comment has been from the woman who maintains that “My daughter loves Dinopaws. But for some reason it makes me feel uneasy. I feel there’s an underlying sense of doom in every episode.”

It rather reminds me of the last episode of Dinosaurs, a Henson animatronic production that ended years of slapstick and social commentary with an incredibly morbid finale, which sees the dinosaurs facing extinction after tinkering with their climate. The man-made global warming subtext couldn’t be clearer, and is the sort of thing that would incense the likes of Fox News, but even without the obvious allegory the closing images – Earl and his family sitting in their home as the darkness settles in and the snow falls thicker and thicker – are tremendously powerful. Part of the problem is that it’s difficult to do a series about the terrible lizards without acknowledging on some level or another that at some point they were all wiped out. You either pop back for short trips, as in Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures (a show that succeeds because it’s rooted very much in the present), or make it so mysterious and enigmatic that you’re too busy thinking about other things to really give the extinction level threat more than a passing glance (Moschops). Setting it on an alien world is one thing that makes Dinopaws work, but I do think it’s interesting that I’m writing this while Thomas and I are halfway through ‘Earthshock‘.

Still. That may be where I got the idea for this, at least on some levels. Or perhaps it’s the trinity of characters, and the realisation that between them they could easily double for Amy, the Doctor and Rory. At their best, these three were wonderful to watch (unless saddled with a turkey like ‘A Town Called Mercy’, but we don’t talk about that), with Amy and Rory either playing long-suffering parents to an ADHD-afflicted Eleventh Doctor, or the grounded teenagers to his exuberant youth group leader, depending on the episode. In other words, he led and they followed, either because he was taking them somewhere interesting, or because he was simply running about like a mad thing.

The trickiest part of assembling this was finding enough usable footage of Tony. For obvious reasons he had to be the Doctor – his manic body language and excitable nature lends him to no other character – but I wanted the lip sync to match properly, and there is comparatively little in the way of the long, rambling monologues that you’d associate with the Doctor. Easier to do were Gwen and Bob – matching the latter with Rory, in particular, was an absolute joy. What took the time was actually shaping the thing, although I eventually hit on the idea (partly through consistency, part laziness) of using three key episodes and shaping the loosest of narrative structures around them. I do not pretend that the resulting story makes any sense, or is even a story at all, but it still works. Just about.

For ease of reference, dialogue was ripped from (in order of appearance ):

‘The Vampires of Venice’
‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’
‘The Eleventh Hour’
‘The Wedding of River Song’
‘The Rebel Flesh’
‘Asylum of the Daleks’
‘The Hungry Earth’
‘The Time of Angels’
‘The Power of Three’
‘The Doctor’s Wife’
‘Amy’s Choice’
‘A Town Called Mercy’
‘The End of Time’ (part two)
‘The Impossible Astronaut’
‘A Good Man Goes To War’
‘A Christmas Carol’

Oh, and that sneeze? Believe it or not, it’s Morgan Freeman. Amazing what you can find on the internet.

Categories: Crossovers, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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