Posts Tagged With: the lazarus experiment

Have I Got Whos For You (Not Exactly Trailer Edition)

God. The sequel to ‘Army of Ghosts’ looks rubbish.

Content warning: if you really want me to talk about the trailer, you’re best heading off to The Doctor Who Companion, where you’ll find a brief missive I tapped out Saturday afternoon in between doing the taxi run and preparing for Edward’s birthday party. Suffice it to say that “The name’s Doctor – the Doctor” is an absolutely dreadful way to begin anything, let alone one of the most hotly-anticipated trailers since…well, since the last one, but apart from that clunker of an opening I really rather enjoyed it. Certainly it felt like Doctor Who. Things exploded and there were monsters. Oh, and we got our first proper glimpse of Stephen Fry, whose presence in the upcoming series has been foretold since the ancient times.

“So you’re the Master, then?”
“Of Lake-town, yes.”
“But you are the Master.”
“Yes. Of Lake-town.”

Having said all that, I really can’t see how some vloggers managed to stretch out the conversation to an hour. An hour? To discuss a fifty-second montage of shots? Did they talk about the location of the vineyard or Jodie Whittaker’s goggles? Oh, no, wait. It was the tuxedo, wasn’t it? I mean, I’m only guessing (I refuse to listen to the thing), but I assume there was a lengthy discourse as to whether or not it ought to be her permanent costume this time round, along with whether she borrowed the coat from Jack (she didn’t; Jack’s coat is completely different). Either way they all scrub up nicely. And ooh look, scenery.

“I could have sworn it said White Tie.”

One of the big talking points is about exactly how the series opener (from which this shot is purportedly taken) will be the ‘game changer’ it’s reported to be. Speculation is rife, with everything from Tennant’s supposed return – leading to a scene in which Whittaker castigates every single male Doctor that’s preceded her – to the revelation that Hartnell was actually the first of a brand new set of regenerations, with the previous thirteen being female. Which is so ridiculous I don’t really know where to start, although as it turns out I started here.

When one particular fan chose to speculate about whether or not this would happen, I told him it was unlikely because it was a stupid idea – leading someone else to interject with the words “It’s plausible, though”, and then follow it up with a long explanation of Gallifreyan history I didn’t need to read. I replied that it was plausible, but still stupid.

“Hang on,” he said. “How could something plausible also be stupid?”

“In the world of Doctor Who,” I explained, “just about anything is plausible. That doesn’t mean it’s sensible. The next Doctor could be a young girl with pigtails, a pink TARDIS and a pony fetish. That would be plausible, within the confines of established scientific laws. But it’s a stupid idea and it would kill the show outright. You can see where I’m going with this.”

I mean, I’m fine with tinkering with the history, but fan-baiting is always going to land you in hot water. That’s what Moffat did, and people didn’t enjoy it then either. I am at the stage where I genuinely don’t care any more – Doctor Who is a silly show and I don’t have any particular concerns about them making it even more silly, as long as it’s dramatically satisfying (in a way that the frog wasn’t), but doing a retcon of Captain-America-is-actually-from-Hydra proportions for no other reason than to grab a headline is frankly a little bit insulting.

(Incidentally, when I posted the above, I had a few people saying “Hinchcliffe? Everybody loved Hinchcliffe, surely?” To which I had to explain that no, no they didn’t. Not at first. The love came later, once people had got used to the disbanding of UNIT and Baker being a bit mad and the whole Gothic thing. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. I wonder if years later people will look back at ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’ and hail it as the classic it probably isn’t?)

1975 was also the year that Jaws came out, which made me think about Bradley Walsh’s assertion that series 12 will feature some “absolutely terrifying monsters.”

Oh well, at least it’s official.

[coughs politely]

In other news this week: a photo of three small children outside a Canadian gold mine in 1898 has led to much speculation that Greta Thunberg could in fact be a time traveller. I have embedded it below so that you may judge for yourself. No idea who the fella at the back is.

Entertainment, and one of the big talking points at the moment is the BBC’s grandiose, delayed-beyond-explanation adaptation of War of the Worlds – big-budget, ‘contemporary’, and (if you read the Telegraph) unnecessarily Woke. I’ve not seen it yet, and thus couldn’t possibly comment, but I note with interest that they seem to have cast Francis Begbie as the astronomer.

“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to – what? What is it? What?”

War of the Worlds may be the most anticipated BBC show in years, and just about the only thing to rival it for sheer levels of excitement is Picard, the new Star Trek series that sees Admiral Jean-Luc climb back into his spaceship for one last job. Patrick Stewart’s been rather quiet about the whole thing, but I’ve had this one hanging around for a while, so in it goes.

Oh, and in a highly anticipated crossover moment, the Doctor laments to Clara his decision to allow Yoda to examine the heart of the TARDIS.

“I told him not to look inside. I bloody told him.”


Categories: Have I Got Whos For You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Degrees of Separation

The other night, Joshua and I watched ‘The Lazarus Experiment’. I found it better than I remembered. (Gareth finds it truly awful.) Perhaps parenthood has softened my inner critic. When a small child holds up a badly-scrawled line drawing and you have no choice but to say it’s lovely, even when by their own standards it isn’t, it can be hard to turn that sort of behaviour trait off again.

There’s one scene in ‘Lazarus’ in which Tennant and Agyeman are trapped in the portaloo chamber of youth, which is about to activate. They escape when the Doctor manages to rewire it so the energy blast is directed outwards, rather than towards them. As they emerge, and Tennant does that hair-ruffling thing, he remarks “It really shouldn’t take that long for me to reverse the polarity. I must be a bit out of practice”. When I mentioned this to Gareth, he said “It’s strange.  If Davison or McCoy or others said that in a BF audio,  I would find it an amusing touch.  But when it happens in the new TV series, it grates as a painful reference.  Odd.”

From then on, our conversation ran basically like this…

Me: Maybe it’s because there is an inherent smugness in the new series that you don’t find present in the audio. When RTD writes something like that he’s typically doing it as fanwank, and you can’t stand that. The audio stuff is not mainstream, it’s niche, and for a specialist and highly appreciative audience. The TV series is aimed at the masses and I sometimes wonder if that’s why you don’t like it, because you simply don’t expect to.

Gareth: That now makes me sound very, er, something.  “Snobbish” isn’t the right word, but that sort of idea.  I would like to like New Who, and I have liked some bits.  But I don’t like much of modern TV at all, not just Who.

Many programmes, especially sci-fi-shaped things, are becoming a generic soup of effects and similar styles of arc and angst.  Everything these days deteriorates into tedium about the characters and their emotions, development, etc.

“We’ve got a time-travelling alien who can go anywhere in the universe!”
“Great, let’s give him some modern-day Earth friends and focus on them instead!”
“This Lara Croft video game thing.  It was a great series about exploring tombs, solving puzzles, fighting enemies. We should make new versions!”
“Great, let’s introduce a backplot where her parents and good friend are lost when she’s young, and have her angsting about finding what happened, trying to get them back etc.  What’s even better is that we can drag this out over three games!”

James: It’s not so much that you don’t like it because it’s aimed at the masses, but more that you don’t like it because of what they felt they had to do to aim it effectively at the masses. Does that make sense? I think you just don’t like contemporary TV because so much of it is the same. That may be why you enjoyed Life on Mars, which was at least a bit different.

(Re: your Tomb Raider thing, you have basically described the new Star Trek film.)

Gareth: That sounds plausible.  Everything seems to blur towards the norm these days, which is a bit dull.

James: It’s like if you look at action cinema. Every. Single. Action sequence. Is the same. Spots of slow motion – acrobatic leaps followed by slow-motion landings and leg sweeps. Wind machines. Thudding score. Oodles of fast cuts. And that’s before we get to the 3-D. It’s just so *boring*.

Gareth: With an explosion.  Coming towards the camera.

James: And someone outrunning a fireball. WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE. Conversely, have you seen Children of Men?

Decontextualized it loses a certain something, but it’s brilliant, because it’s how car chases would probably really happen. There’s a lovely sense of realism about it.

Gareth: I just went to have a look.

It had an unskippable 22-second trailer.  Then an advert banner appeared across the bottom, which I killed (although its kill button was right next to its open button, and I missed).  Then another advert banner appeared across the bottom.

We were about a minute in before I was actually able to pay attention to any of it.  As you say, I think it needed context, as when I paid attention it just made them look incompetent.  (Yes, it might be more realistic than many, but then so might them stopping for 15 minutes to repair a puncture.)

We also started watching the Who ‘Frontier in Space’ DVD yesterday.  I’m used to them taking more than two minutes to get going, as they have the BBC Logo, the 2 Entertain Logo, the Doctor Who intro sequence, the title being announced, and the “enter audio navigation now”.  I am quite happy to have the “audio navigation” announcement (although I’m sure that these days there could be a setting on the PS3 or DVD player saying “don’t bother showing me this” – like with Infamous 2 where we have to sit through the warnings not to swing our motiony PS3 Wii-like controller too vigorously, or with Mission Impossible Season 4 where we have to choose the language each time).

But in FiS there was also an unskippable and unfastforwardable advert for more Who DVDs, adding more than another minute to the loading time.  It’s things like that that make me wish I’d got a pirate copy…

James: I know. It’s all very well complaining that you get dodgy quality with pirate DVDs, but you also don’t get all the stupid ads. (The one I hated the most was “You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a car. Would you steal a film?”, which is a crappy analogy.)

Gareth: It’s truly awful.  If they’d said “you wouldn’t somehow make a clone of the person’s handbag, not depriving them of their own handbag – not for any fraudulent use of the contents, just to have a nice bag”, I expect many people would say “well, why not?”

James: It would have been a far more sensible question, but you’d have had to knock it down to twelve point fount to get it on the screen, and they’d have had to show it for longer, which sort of breaks up the flow.

YouTube sucks, really, doesn’t it? This is why I don’t monetise. It’s the principle.

Gareth: Many things are going the tedious way.  The strangest (and also quite annoying) thing I’ve met recently is when you buy something on Amazon, you can press a button to announce to Facebook that you’ve just bought it.  Um, what?  Firstly, why would anyone care?  And why would I want to tell the world I’ve just bought stuff.  (Maybe it’s so that Facebook can pass the information on to more people!)

We had a phone survey a while ago.  I usually hang up, but occasionally I’m bored and see what they want.  It was going along all sensibly until we got to the computing and media section, which included the question “how many laptops do you have in your house?” and I thought that this was an unsubtle question to ask.  Would the follow-up have been “and do you have particularly good window locks?”?  Probably not, but that’s not the point.

James: You’ve seen, presumably, how I dealt with our last telemarketing caller? (It involved toothpaste.)

Gareth: I did, yes. Guess what, I just had another one. He said “Hello.  This is Something Lifestyle Survey.  I ask a few questions, it only take a few minutes, and you say ‘yes’ or “no’.  First, how are you today?”

I think that “no” was the only possible response to that.

James: It reminds me of the alleged courtroom dialogue that went

– All your responses must be oral. What is your name?
– Oral.

I have always assumed this was an urban legend, because I can’t believe that even in America anyone could be QUITE SO STUPID.

Categories: New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: