Category Archives: Television

State of Play

Britain, Britain, Britain. This weekend I watched the new Doctor Who, but I also watched a six-part BBC drama called State of Play. The show is a political drama, which takes place in London. It starts with the murder of a young black man, by a professional killer. That same morning, a young woman jumps in front of a subway train. 

Her boss/lover, Steven Collins (Member of Parliament for a Manchester-area riding) hasn’t been an MP for long, but he’s making waves. He’s heading up a cross-party energy committee, and is seen as a contender for a cabinet post. His public grief at the loss of his employee make it rather obvious that the two were involved in an extra-marital affair, which leads to much tension at home, and he runs to his confidant and former campaign manager Cal McCaffrey. McCaffrey also just happens to be a reporter for the Herald.

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That covers the first five minutes, and then it gets complicated. It’s a political drama/murder mystery/thriller and could be used as the pinnacle of the genre. The dialogue is tremendous and the casting is as good as it can get. As the MP is David Morrissey (Doctor Who, Blackpool, Red Riding); as the lead reporter is John Simm (Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Sex Traffic);  Marc Warren (Doctor Who, Hustle) plays Dominic Foy, Collins’ girlfriend’s ex; Bill Nighy (Doctor WhoHitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead) as the newspaper editor; Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting, Gosford Park, No Country for Old Men) is among the reporting team for the Herald; Polly Walker (Caprica, Patriot Games) plays Anne Collins, the wife of Steven; Philip Glenister (Life on Mars, Ashes To Ashes1 ) plays Detective Chief Inspector Bell.

All of these actors are in roles that are perfect for them. The only thing that’s off is Glenister’s William Bell is well portrayed, but too similar, yet so different than his defining role as DCI Gene Hunt in Life On Mars and its spin-off Ashes To Ashes. Hunt, a character known to be such as asshole, but yet so loveable copper who spits out such charming statements as “It’s the first time I’ve heard shit stabbing, called innocent!” In contract DCI Bell is timid, hands tied by the law, and to put it simply, a weenie.

I can easily see why it was remade into a film in the United States. It’s damn good, but a shame that it was probably bastardized, I really don’t want to see what Matt Damon did with a role originally portrayed by an actor as talented as David Morrissey. Worse still, to see Russell Crowe brutalize a John Simm character is potentially heart-breaking. It was bad enough to see Jason O’Mara take one of the most interesting characters in television, Sam Tyler, and turn him into a bland and boring piece of cardboard. I will give credit to Harvey Keitel for doing an okay job at translating Glenister’s DCI Hunt for US audiences.

Enough about Life on Mars, the important thing is State of Play which is worth a six-hour investment in your life for some excellent drama.

  1. Funk to funky. []

The Doctor Is In

Back in January, I wrote about The Doctor’s swan song. Now, three months later, he’s back again, but in a different form. This time, Matt Smith takes over the titular role in the longest running science fiction series. The Doctor, as we all know, is a time traveler, who once ran from his own people, and found refuge with his granddaughter on Earth. Unfortunately her nosy teachers sent them fleeing again, and since that fateful day in 1963, the Doctor has been on the run. Though his companions have come and gone1, and through a process known as Regeneration, the Doctor’s changed his appearance and personality, he’s still the same 900 year old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey.

With the change in Doctors, the series also sees a change in production staff. Most notable is Steven Moffat taking over the helm of the show. Many people remember Moffat from his BBC2 sitcom Coupling. With his arrival into the Doctor Who-niverse, the audience sees a definite change in tone. The premiere leads me to believe that the show will be much darker, while still keeping much of the fun that made Doctor Who such a great series to begin with.

To begin with, this episode is very much a genesis story. We have a new Doctor, and he’s unsure of who he is, and what he is. As usual there are some comedic moments as the Doctor gets used to himself, but the Doctor immediately starts to form a bond with a young Amelia Pond. After crashing in the Scottish orphan’s garden, the Doctor discovers a crack in time a space is found in the girl’s bedroom2 He repairs it, and then hears the TARDIS’ Cloister Bell, he runs off and promises to return in five minutes. Well, he returns twelve years later.

Twelve years later, Amy’s a stripper, who’s been waiting for her Doctor to return. Okay, I know you’re going to say that she’s a “kiss-a-gram,” but the subtext between Pond and the Doctor when he questions what a kiss-a-gram is makes it plain as day that she’s a stripper, but you can’t say that on a family show.

Moffat once said of Amy Pond, “A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too.” The young woman is beautiful, smart, tough and funny, all aspects of companions during Russell T. Davies run, but for once all in one character  ((Rose, was not smart, or tough, or funny, or even really beautiful, but still a good companion. Martha wasn’t tough, she was a pushover, and she wasn’t very funny either. Donna was tough and funny, but not so much beautiful or smart.)).

At the climax of the episode, the Doctor asks “is this world protected? You’re not the first ones to have come there, there have been so many and what you’ve got to ask is ‘what happened to them?'” The audience then sees the ten previous faces of the Doctor and Smith’s Doctor answers the question with “Hello, I’m the Doctor, basically, run.”

Eccleston began his tenure as the Doctor with the statement, “I’m the Doctor, run for your life” as he warned Rose of the danger that was chasing them. This Doctor  begins his tenure on the offensive.

The danger is a background in this story. The true plotline comes from the Doctor’s strange ability to enchant anyone he comes in contact with. When it comes to a small child, he not only enchants, but creates an obsession. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to run away with a kookie time traveler in a magic blue box? 8 year old Pond is the perfect dreamer to want those travels. She’s an orphan, living in her aunt’s house, uncomfortable in England3 afraid of the house’s horrors.

I’m not too proud to say that I’m okay with
The girl next door who’s famous for showing her chest – Belle & Sebastian

While this might be why a small town would most know Amy Pond, it seems that the entire town knows her for her obsession with the Doctor, her imaginary friend she’s been waiting twelve years for. This seems to be what I think is most intriguing about Pond. She’s the child we all were/are. She’s looking at the Doctor through the eyes of a child, full of wonder and with a great desire to run off with him4. She is the embodiment of the eight year olds who are hiding behind their sofas every Saturday night.

One thing Moffat seemed best able to do better than any other writer during the Davies-days was to tell of the Doctor’s non-linear life. Yes, the Doctor travels through time and space, but rarely do his stories or his life deviate from a normal path of point a to b to c. Moffat did this with “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “Blink” and “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead.” In “The Girl in the Fireplace,” the Doctor is running around between the 51st century and 18th century France. Sure, the Doctor is narratively traveling in a singular line, but Madame de Pompadour is traveling the slow path, while the Doctor travels the fast path. She’s living her life in France, while the Doctor is randomly popping in at points in her life, with only hours between.

In “Blink,” the Doctor and Martha are trapped in 1969, but the TARDIS is trapped in 200x. Moffat is able to tell the story of Sally Sparrow’s real world nightmares effectively, while the Doctor, in 1969, relays information to Sparrow in the late aughts, information he only will receive after he meets Sparrow. Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey.5

Finally in “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead,” the Doctor meets River Song, a woman who knows him, intimately. How’s this possible? Well, he’s a time traveler. That’s kinda what happens when you meet a time traveler. Just look at Guinan and Picard. According to Picard, they met some time when he was in command aboard the Stargazer.6 Picard met her and they fast became friends. If you asked Guinan, she would tell you that the first time they met was in 19th century Earth, where she was just hanging, and Picard was looking for a beheaded Data.

So Song met el Doctor at some point, we can presume in Matt Smith form, but the Doctor first met her in the Library. So yeah, Moffat writes good Doctor Who. I think this’ll be fun.

  1. Susan, his granddaughter was the first to leave. []
  2. It’s the Doctor, there’s nothing sordid. []
  3. She’s Scottish. []
  4. Like Madame de Pompadour did. []
  5. A phrase which first appeared in Moffat’s “Blink” we can assume that he penned it. []
  6. I don’t think they ever give a specific date. []

Who you gonna weep on, who you gonna sleep on, who you gonna creep on next?

So I should start with an apology. My post about Thrush Hermit, was kinda horrible. Here’s the thing, I don’t go into these blog posts and think to myself, “what do I want to say?” No! I just write! Yeah! Damn you professional writers and your craft, NO! This is my language and I can write what I wanna write. What was I saying? Giraffe? No. Oh yeah, Thrush Hermit. Yeah, that post sucked. It just kinda ended. That was no narrative structure, it just rambled, and rambled, and rambled, and rambled, and rambled. I had a point. I think. Yeah, it was horrible. It was supposed to say that Thrush Hermit are awesome and equal to more than the sum of their parts. See if I had an audience of more than one1, then I might care more. However, if I cared more, then I might have an audience of more than one2. No, that would be bad. If people actually read this than it might cause problems. They’d expect stuff, and when I wouldn’t deliver they’d complain. No! Settle for mediocrity. That’s my motto.

Now that that’s out of the way. I ask you, all a very important question, but first! First you need an explanation. You see, I have this friend, his name is Adam3. I posed a question, asking, “What should I listen to?” and this wonderful and charming man said “Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem.” I thought, “YES!” Who wouldn’t?

So I want to know, who’s your favourite member of the Electric Mayhem?

Is it Dr. Teeth (keys)?

How about Floyd Pepper (bass)?

Janice (guitar)?

Animal (drums)?

Zoot (sax)?

The new guy, er, Lips (trumpet)?

Their manager, Scotter?

Tell me, comment!

  1. Hi Mom! []
  2. Hi Mom! []
  3. He’s not actually me, we just share a name. There’s a lot of Adams []

Linky Link

The Doctor Is Out

The Doctor & Rose

“Happy New Year,” says a smiling young girl to a drunken stranger. “And you,” the stranger replies before asking “what year is this?” “2005, January the first” she says. “I bet you’re going to have a really great year,” says the Doctor to his long-time friend and companion.

In 2005 a legend returned to the screen. A Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey, entered his TARDIS and travelled about Space and Time. Russell T. Davies was responsible for “regenerating” this long-dead mythos for television. After cancellation in 1989 and a failed attempt in 1996, it was long thought in the fan community that Doctor Who would never rise again.

The first story of this new Doctor’s journeys was titled “Rose” and followed a girl of only eighteen years, working and living a dead-end life waiting, hoping. Chance seemed to bless her as she found an alien in a jumper and leather jacket. He found comfort in this companion, and love, something he thought near-impossible, since the genocide of his species, at his own hand.

The Doctor has rarely been alone. Starting from his escape from Gallifrey (“An Unearthly Child” 1963), he took along his Granddaughter, Susan. Now he had with him a young woman who, though simplistic, was able to challenge him in many ways. His companions during Eccelston’s and Tennant’s tenures were always there for a singular role, to keep him in check, to make sure that The Doctor understood humanity and didn’t let his extreme power dictate his actions.

The Doctor and Martha

Over time these companions have left him, alone and lost. Rose was trapped, out of touch and out of reach; Martha couldn’t stand the emotional chaos of loving someone who couldn’t stand to love; Captain Jack was abandoned, only to spend hundreds of years searching for The Doctor; Sarah Jane’s reconnection to The Doctor, finally, found her accepting that the past was the past; and Donna, well, Donna was his equal, but could never live to her potential again. So The Doctor wandered, alone, and lived a solitary life only to have his future death foreseen, maybe he just picked up any newspaper in the UK. 

“The End of Time” is David Tennant’s final adventure, after a solid goodbye having aired over a year ago. “Journey’s End” saw all of David Tennant’s companions teaming up to save humanity, and save The Doctor. It seems that Russell T. Davies shot his load a tad bit too early. His death was a certainty, and the audience was treated to three final stories which only seemed to serve the purpose of showing the world that Michelle Ryan is hot and has a nice bum… oh, you knew I would put a still in here!

“The End of Time” is a perfect example of what’s good and bad about Russell T. Davies-era Who. The absurd plots, there’s very little resolution, and his frequent use of the reset-switch all make the franchise less and less enticing. What purpose was the Time Lords’ return? What purpose did it serve to have the Ood? Seriously? The Master making all of Earth’s population carbon copies of himself? All of it disappearing within a fraction of a second, and a silly cover story to explain another planet nearly crashing into Earth… again? Why didn’t Donna’s brain explode? 

Wilf says goodbye

How this story succeeds is in the interpersonal relationships that have been fostered since 2005. Particularly the relationship between Wilf (Donna’s Grandfather) and The Doctor. As they sit in a café and discuss The Doctor’s impending death, the performances of the two actors is absolutely wonderful, and they reprise it again in part two… twice, both when The Doctor sacrifices himself for Wilf, and when they meet a final time. This is the crux of the episode, from his relationship with Wilf, to his confrontation with Verity Newman (named after creator Sydney Newman and original producer Verity Lambert), to his final goodbye to Rose, this is The Doctor’s last hoorah, this is The Doctor’s swansong, and he must say goodbye (once again) to those who were part of the life of the Tenth Doctor.

And so, in the final minutes of “The End of Time,” The Doctor regenerates one more time, defiantly proclaiming, “I don’t want to go” as his body fails him, and a new life is born. We, the audience, see a new energy, an energy that seems to have been lost from Doctor Who over the past year or so, as we waited for the farewell, we finally have a Doctor with life. Matt Smith’s initial minute as the post-regenerative Doctor tells us nothing but gives us hope.

Why so hopeful? Well, have you seen any of the stories that Steven Moffat wrote? “Blink,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “Silence in the Library” or even his sitcom Coupling? You’d know that Moffat has written the best episodes of Doctor Who, perhaps of all time. He’s not so interested in the absurd storylines, instead his focus is on good horror, good comedy, good tear-jerking stories.

Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor

It’s time for new life as Matt Smith and Karen Gillan take the adventures of the Doctor and his companions into this new decade.

Goodbye Tennant, Hello Smith. Farewell Davies, Welcome Moffat.

Jolly Snowflake Day, Everyone!

Dear Family and Friends,
Is it possible a year has passed since my last impersonal over-informative photocopied holiday update? I can hardly believe it’s only been a year since the United Nations abolished religious holidays in favour of the non-offensive, all-inclusive, Snowflake Day.

In addition to my crippling bunions from last year, I have also been diagnosed with corns. But in this happy season, we all have to be thankful. Thankful that the plantar warts in my other foot have finally been removed, save one, I call him Gary; and he’s part of the family now, he’d better buy me a good present!

And after fifty-two hours, I finally passed the stone! And in the end, isn’t that what Snowflake Day is really about?

Yours,
Principal Cinnamon J. Scudworth

Mitchell & Webb

Top Five TV Shows of the Aughts

5) How I Met Your Mother

First off, Willow’s in it! She’s dreamy. Secondly, Doogie’s hilarious. Finally, it’s damn funny.


4) The Mighty Boosh

This BBC3 comedy focuses on Howard Moon (an incompetent, small-eyed jazz fan), Vince Noir (a fashion conscious simpleton), Naboo (a shaman), Bollo (a gorilla) and Bob Fossill (the manager of the zoo the main characters work in during the first series).

Each series has a different theme, during the first, the cast work in a zoo, the second, they’re roommates, the third, they work in Naboo’s shop. There’s not much sense of continuity to the series, but it’s fuckin’ funny.


3) 30 Rock

I love this show. This might just be my favourite sitcom, ever. There’s a nice mix of insanity and clever writing.


2) Battlestar Galactica

The reimagining of this cheesy 1970s sci-fi show was an unparalleled success. Ron Moore (formerly of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) created a universe, which borrowed only minor tidbits from the original series. Instead he created a new universe which paralleled our own and asked important questions of war, love, religion and family.


1) Clone High

I love this show with a passion. I can sit down, put the DVD in my computer, and realize five hours later that I’ve watched the entire series… again! It seems that I keep on coming back to this TV show, and it never gets boring.

My Fair Clavin Part II

I think I should revisit this post. I think the issue is the shoulder pads.

Being There

Four years ago, I, along with a handful of other amazing people started an online web magazine called Being There. We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. It’s back!

Check it out!