Posts Tagged With: muppets

The Smallerpictures video dump (2019, part two)

When I’m not prepping badly Photoshopped memes or writing lengthy discourses for The Doctor Who Companion, you will often find me hunched over entry level video editing software, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I’ll strip out audio, chop and swap to avoid copyright infringement, download effects, spend an aeon scanning for rogue frames. It is a lonely and not always rewarding experience – the ideas never quite manifest on screen the way they do in my head, and the videos I upload to social media are, more often than not, a question of ‘that’ll do’ rather than ‘that’s good’. I learned a long time ago to stop beating myself up over this. There’s nothing wrong with striving for self-improvement, and I’m always looking for ways I can do things better, but ultimately this is a hobby. Video editing is like sex: even average results are better than no results. At least you’ve done something.

No one watches me on YouTube any more. Facebook seems to be where it’s at. But I like YouTube; it allows for a more permanent, easily accessible (and malleable) archive that I can herd into collective posts like this one. And today, I bring you another instalment: we’re in the late stages of 2018 now, with three short videos I knocked out at the tail end of last year. I don’t think they’ve been seen by anyone who is likely to offer me a job, and as far as I am aware none of them made the likes of Doctor Who Magazine. But that’s fine. When your audience is small but appreciative, as opposed to large and fickle, there’s no pressure to outdo yourself. In each case I looked at the final result and thought “Yeah, that’ll do” – and sometimes, that’s actually a good place to be.

Onwards!

 

1. Whovian Kombat: The Witchfinders vs. The Satan Pit (November 2018)

Regular readers here may remember that back in late 2018, I was counting Satans. Well, to be specific, the number of times the word was used in ‘The Witchfinders‘, an episode obsessed with exorcising the demon (hunches shoulders, closes eyes, breathes out, says ‘This house is clean’ in best Zelda Rubenstein voice). My gosh, there were a lot of them. You don’t notice until you string them together, which I did, just for the fun of it. Bearing in mind that everyone speaks in colloquial (or at least understandable) English in this story – at a point in history when the language as we know it was still evolving – you do wonder if it’s a TARDIS translation thing, and that the old girl has got bored of all the other names they’ve been churning out and has interpreted everything as ‘Satan’ simply because she can’t be bothered. Or maybe demon fatigue has nothing to do with it. The TARDIS is always a little bit wary when it comes to the divine: like Alistair Campbell’s Labour party, as a matter of principle it doesn’t do God.

Anyway, this sort of evolved into a new feature: Whovian Kombat, in which we take two hopelessly mismatched episodes of the show and dump them in the Thunderdome until one of them has beaten the other to a bloody pulp. And in this instance there was an obvious candidate; obvious, that is, in more ways than one. You’ll see what I mean – but as a public service announcement I am completely out of ideas for a sequel, so if anyone has any episodes they’d like to see thrown together in this manner I would welcome all your comments. If no one can think of any, that’s probably not a bad thing. Sequels have a tendency to be rubbish, as Mad Max 3 proved in abundance.

 

2. Doctor Who meets Kermit the Frog (November 2018)

I didn’t like the frog. A lot of people did; a lot of other people found it rather silly. It’s a shame, in a way, because it’s the sort of abstract surrealism that I usually go for in abundance. I loved ‘Warriors’ Gate’. And the cinematic, almost portentous direction in the first half of ‘Androzani’ – in which the camera lingers, spying through keyholes and following at strange angles – is one of my favourite moments in Classic Who. And yes, I get that Grace loved frogs and that they clearly set this up from the beginning. That doesn’t mean it works.

The truth is that final scene is the straw that breaks the back of an already stumbling camel. The narrative that precedes it is trite and laboured; the story (such as it is) is dull, the dialogue second-rate. By the time the Doctor steps into the cost-saving white space containing a chair with a frog on it, I was already fed up. Series 11 was a mixed bag – some of it was marvellous, a lot of it was pleasingly average, and some of it was frankly dreadful – but this was a nadir. Generally the fan response to such things is to write lengthy rants about it in grumpy, swiftly-locked Facebook posts, but over the years I’ve found the best way to rinse out the taste of a bad experience is to take the piss out of it, which is exactly what I did.

You have to watch what you’re doing when you’re redubbing Kermit. There are two of them (well, three since the last one threw in the towel) and while Whitmire does a more than adequate job of reproducing Henson’s affable tones, there are subtle differences that stand out when you put the two of them together. So with the exception of the beginning, which borrows from the ‘Coconut’ sketch in Kenny Rogers’ 1979 Muppet Show appearance, most of these are actually from the soundtrack to The Muppets, the movie that catapulted the frog and his pals firmly back into the limelight – largely because Kermit’s at his most raw and vulnerable, which seemed to fit the vibe. And, because it’s the Muppets, we finish on a song. Fifteen seconds to curtain, Ms. Whittaker.

 

3. Resolution Trailer: Recut (December 2018)

Chris Chibnall said, more than once, that series 11 was “the perfect jumping on point”. I don’t know why I’ve put that in quotes when I’m paraphrasing. But you get the idea: you can start, if you want to, from the moment Ryan Sinclair fails to ride his bike, having never seen a single episode of Doctor Who before, and you’ll be fine. Certainly it almost worked; this felt, as much as anything had in years, like a clean break – right down to the lack of familiar monsters and only the vaguest mentions of the past. Yes, there were nods to ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’. That could easily have been a joke, had you not known such an episode existed. It’s all a far cry from series 3, in which the Doctor sits down with Martha and tells her all about Gallifrey, just after they’d escaped an obscure Troughton monster that no one really remembers because no one has seen it properly for decades. And yes, I know they just released the thing on Blu-Ray. Work with me.

But in any case – and for better or worse – that was almost what happened this time. There were throwbacks to the past (some of which were apparently put in to troll the already disgruntled), but you got the feeling that there was a sense of ripping up the worksheet and starting over – and it is this, I’m convinced, that angered many of the fans who felt they were watching something that no longer felt like Doctor Who. That’s another debate for another day (and watch this space for that) but it was something that did at least feed quite nicely into the much hyped trailer for the New Year special, in which the name of what the Doctor describes as ‘the most dangerous creature in the universe’ was held back until the episode proper. We all knew what it was anyway, but it added nicely to the tension: if the Doctor is scared, then we should be starting to panic a little bit ourselves. What could possibly be scarier than a Dalek?

Barney. Barney the bloody purple dinosaur. That could.

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The smallerpictures video dump (part one)

If you’re a regular reader here at the not-so-hallowed halls of Brian of Morbius, you will notice that one particular category has been somewhat neglected of late. The videos tab hasn’t seen any action in months. I used to do a separate blog entry for every video I created. Extensive notes on the genesis, making-of process and public reaction. Some of them ran to over a thousand words.

I don’t get time anymore. Part of it is actually having the time but having more worthwhile things to fill it with. I used to chip away at paragraphs when I was supposed to be working, during the quiet moments or the hours I simply couldn’t face doing that report. It was irresponsible and dishonest and it’s a miracle I didn’t get caught. These days I’ll vacuum the lounge. Well, when you have four kids and you had rice the previous evening, it’s the only way to stop things growing on the carpet.

The long and the short of it is that we’ve had a bunch of stuff appearing on YouTube over the last few months and most of it hasn’t even got a mention. If I were of a mind to do so, I’d give each video its own separate entry, the way I used to. But I have another book to start and in any case we’re about to get crazy with series 11. So a two-part digest – with a couple of paragraphs’ commentary for each video – is all you get, and will probably make for a better piece as a result.

If you subscribe to the smallerpictures YouTube channel you’ll have seen these already – the same applies if you’re following me on Facebook. If you’re not doing either, may I take this opportunity to politely extend an invitation? We could chat and everything.

In the meantime:

1. March: The Doctor’s Wife, Revisited

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy turned forty this year. We’re the same age, although we don’t share a birthday. Everyone has their own favourite iteration of Douglas Adams’ magnum opus, although no one likes the film very much; even two famous Bills (Nighy and Bailey) and the great Alan Rickman weren’t enough to save it from desperate mediocrity. But the TV series is still quite wonderful, as I found out when I watched it again recently with the kids. Joshua has this year finished the quintet and has even attempted to read And Another Thing, the Eoin Colfer-penned follow-up that nobody asked for and comparatively few people enjoyed.

Somewhere along the line I thought it would be fun to drop Eddie, the ship’s computer, into ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ as a replacement for House. I know I didn’t come up with the idea for this all by myself. It may or may not have been one of those group posts where I asked people for help, which is what happens when I get stuck. I genuinely can’t remember. Sadly the end result is a disaster. It’s clunky and disjointed and Eddie’s dialogue really doesn’t work; it feels enjambed, like the worst bits of Moffat’s dialogue. The bit where Amy is kneeling over Rory’s corpse and the computer is singing? Yeuch. Horrible. What the hell was I thinking? It’s worse than the Star Wars Holiday Special; I ought to pulp it from existence.

The one saving grace is Talkie Toaster. That kind of works. The rest is crap. It’s here for curation purposes only. You’ve been warned. Don’t watch it. Move on. Scroll. C’mon, scroll, dammit.

 

2. April: Love and Monsters, reversed

For the most part, backwards videos are a quick fix: they come about when I have a pressing need to do something but comparatively little time. You just run the score free dialogue track through semi-decent audio editing software and then sync it with the muted video, and then cut and paste as you see fit. You don’t even have to worry about copyright infringement, providing you’re using rights-free background music, and there’s plenty of that hanging around.

Every time I do a backwards video someone brings up the bloody Twin Peaks thing, and so on this occasion I set out to do something that was as David Lynch as…well all right, it’s not really David Lynch, but it’s a good deal more David Lynch than some of my other stuff. This isn’t an isolated scene, more a carefully arranged sequence (yes, sometimes there is actually some thought involved in these things) that spans the entire episode, from the opening Scooby Doo reference to Elton’s closing monologue. The end result is, I hope, a little bit spooky – or at least weird; weird is acceptable middle ground. I adore ‘Love And Monsters’, which gets trashed for all the wrong reasons, but various people who didn’t like it have cited this as an improvement, so I guess that’s a win.

 

3. May: Peppa Pig Still Can’t Whistle

We don’t watch Peppa Pig in our house. It’s not a protest or anything. We just can’t get Channel 5. In any case, iPlayer keeps everyone busy and I can do without accidentally running into the ridiculous travesty that is Thomas The Tank Engine. But even I couldn’t avoid this, which went all over BuzzFeed (no, I’m not linking; they don’t need the traffic) – the Peppa episode that has Peppa grousing that she can’t whistle, before hanging up on Suzie (who can) in spectacular style. The clip went viral, and the animated GIFs were used as a reaction for just about everything. My initial thoughts were to have Peppa call the Eleventh Doctor, but as it turns out this conversation with Donna (actually two, if you look carefully) from the 2008 Sontaran episodes fitted perfectly. Oink.

 

4. June: Fraggle Rock

This is exactly what it says on the tin. I hadn’t done an intro sequence for what felt like ages, and when someone posted the opening credits to Jim Henson’s 1980s classic on Facebook I noticed that an awful lot of it consisted of Gobo running down up and down corridors. Something clicked, and the rest was easy. Not to blow my own air horn too much, but I have to say I’m quite proud of this one.

 

Part two is available here.

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Pigs

Pigs. You couldn’t move for them yesterday. The revelation that Prime Minister David Cameron may (as we go to press) or may not have inserted his genitals into the mouth of a dead pig during a societal initiation set the internet on fire. The press had a ball. Twitter almost imploded. It was a good day to bury bad news, which was presumably the entire point.

Certainly it doesn’t come as a total surprise. It’s the sort of thing fraternities do. That it allegedly happened to Cameron is not in itself important – we all do stupid things when we’re young, and it has no bearing on his ability or otherwise to run the country. If nothing else it’s a good chance for the left to get its own back after all the Corbyn-baiting that’s been going on over the past few weeks (one particularly amusing image I saw yesterday features an exchange between the two at the Battle of Britain memorial service – Cameron is asking “Why weren’t you singing?”, to which Corbyn responds “I felt safer with my mouth shut”). At the same time, it’s telling when the general reaction is not one of revulsion and disgust, but a series of knowing winks. Or, as a friend of mine put it, “What does it say about you when someone says ‘that man fucked a pig’ and half of the country goes ‘Yeah. I figure he probably did…’?”

Anyway. This doesn’t translate easily into Doctor Who – the hastily concocted image at the top aside, of course. If I really wanted to I could do something with the space pig that appears halfway through ‘Aliens of London’ but I’m really more inclined to delve deeper into history – at the extended version of Peter Davison’s appearance in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for instance.

Certainly when the story broke my first instinct, bizarrely, was to recall an early sequence in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, in which this doesn’t quite happen:

Phillip: Say, Terrance, what did the Spanish priest say to the Iranian gynecologist?
Terrance: I don’t know, Phillip. What?
[Phillip farts on Terrance’s face, and both get into hysterics over it]
Terrance: You’re such a pigfucker, Phillip!
Phillip: No, Terrance, that’s the British Prime Minister!
Terrance: Oh yeah! [farts]

Still. It’s not the first time a reckless, irresponsible blue Muppet got one of his extremities caught up in a pig.

Gonzo

You see what I mean.

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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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Doctor Who and the Misplaced Consonants (Part Two)

I’m on holiday at the moment, but to tide you over, here’s a scheduled post. If you don’t know what on earth this is all about, have a look here.

 

5. The Chaste

 

6. The Park in Space

 

 

7. Furry From the Deep

 

8. The Steeds of Doom

 

“Bah,” said Gareth. “Why does ‘The Steeds Of Doom’ not have John Steed?!” Well, maybe next time.

 

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The Lego Movie / Doctor Who connection

If you’ve seen The Lego Movie, you’ll know by now that it’s basically a one-hundred minute pastiche of The Matrix, with bricks. That doesn’t mean the Wachowskis should start calling their lawyers, given that The Matrix is your bog standard quest movie, replete with Arthurian imagery (right down to the closing shot of Matrix Revolutions), but set against the backdrop of the evil genius argument and fashioned for a teenage audience who had grown up on video games. It’s half Excalibur, half Tron. There isn’t a single original thought in there. That it gets away with it is down to the effects, the guns and the always entertaining Hugo Weaving, who is by far the most animated character in the entire trilogy, counterbalancing the fact that he was (Legolas aside) the least animated character in Lord of the Rings.

Of course, there’s an interesting development at the end of the second act of The Lego Movie, in which [COLOSSAL SPOILER]. But the question of reality and authorial intent is a curious one, and of course I immediately started to wonder how we might relate this to the Whoniverse, and the idea of pocket universes, dimension jumps and the act of creation and potential.

In the end, all I could come up with was a bunch of Photoshop hatchet jobs. And here they are. First, the obvious.

 

 

 

Then there’s the character similarities.

 

 

What do you mean, you have no idea who that other chap is? Oh look, go and watch ‘The Pirate Planet’. It’s absolutely magnificent television, and it features one of the most memorable, quotable villains in the history of the show. It was written by Douglas Adams, and it shows.

Then there’s this, which is rough around the edges but my personal favourite.

 

We really have to fix up Benny with the Space Core from Portal 2. (Various people already have, of course.)

Finally, there’s this –

Kragle_Rock

– but I think that’s a euphemism for “We’re running out of ideas”. Still. Muppets. Not nearly as animated when they’re glued. Although it make make Baby Bear less irritating.

 

 

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Can you tell me how to get to Gallifrey Street?

Because sometimes, you need to post an animated GIF you found on Tumblr of Grover and Cookie Monster enacting Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond scenes.

Sesame_Who

 

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“Look out! Muppets!”

Off the back of Saturday’s poster mashup, here’s something Gareth found which has tickled my ribcage. Source unknown, but someone who’s clearly very talented with a pencil.

Muppet_Doc

Needless to say this went onto Facebook immediately, where a friend wanted to know what would happen if they ever cast a female Doctor, and “Which Muppet would she be…?”

It’s tempting, of course, but in truth Miss Piggy is rather a lot like the Third Doctor. She has a great sense of style, she’s trapped in a dead-end job, surrounded by general mayhem and constantly dreaming of escape, and her closest friend is a mild-mannered, long-suffering figure in green. And she knows karate.

And Gareth? “I still say it’s a shame that they couldn’t think of one for the Eleventh Doctor,” he said, “and so just used Matt Smith himself…”

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The Doctors Take Manhattan

Sorry.

If you’re horribly confused by that, this should explain things.

(Don’t forget – the rest of these little Photoshop jobs, if you really want to see them, are here.)

Categories: Crossovers, Day of the Doctor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mi mi mi mi ginger mi mi

I’m in Wales at the moment, but arranged for a few things to go live in my absence. Well, I didn’t want you to get lonely.

This has been doing the rounds a bit and may be old news by the time it appears here, but it goes up anyway, simply because I was able to convince Thomas – just for a few minutes – that this actually was the Twelfth Doctor.

beaker

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