Tuesday, November 17, 2009

17 November 2009: Mars

Thanks to the continued copyright-busting wonder that is YouTube, I was able to see the latest Doctor Who yesterday, in pretty high quality. (Note: I've learned that most things appear on YouTube at some point, but they won't be there long and so you have to move fast).

All a bit weird and sadly I wasn't massively impressed. However, I suspect this is because we've been spoiled since 2004 in that overall the production, the scripts, the acting... it's all been exceptional, and we're so used to amazingly high standards that we ignore the excellence and focus on the bits-that-aren't-quite-as-good-as-Blink.

Still, though, the Doctor didn't do much for the first five (of seven) sections on YouTube, while everything around went wrong, and then he decided to turn into an all-powerful Time Lord (a little like the Master) and change history. A little. And it was such a shift that I actually saw it coming.

This is very unusual for me with plot-twists: I never see them coming, ever. I get into the story, try to enjoy it, even if it's poor... but here it was hard not to think 'oo, why are the fires burning when there's no oxygen' and 'domes with plants, reminds me of Silent Running' and 'I'm sick of him saying I can't do anything, I can only imagine that's going to change later in the episode'... and it did.

Anyway, more interesting was the teaser for the Christmas specials, and the rumours surrounding it:
  • John Simm in a hoodie as the Master, with the manic laugh but without a beard. Mrs Master to be present also.
  • Bernard Cribbins as Wilf and Catherine Tate as Donna.
  • Timothy Dalton as a major Time Lord... (President? Rassilon? Meddling Monk?).
  • Implying the return of Gallifrey. Possibly.
  • Other Time Lords revealed as having survived the time war.
  • Flash-back scenes of recent companions (Billie Piper allegedly seen on-set, along with Elizabeth Sladen and a few others).
  • Something about the Medusa Cascade and the Time War no longer being time locked thanks to the crazy Dalek in the Davros epiosodes.
  • The universe to be set 'back to normal' - ie pre-2005 series, maybe pre-Time War - for the new series in 2010 with Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor.
More out-there rumours include the return of the Mara (a snaky-thingy evil thingy I remember from Peter Davison's days), Donna to be revealed as a Timelord (possibly Romana), the Timewyrm making a surprise jump from novel-canon to TV-canon and all sorts of other stuff from Doctor Who lore.

Thing is, Russell T Davies, even in his final fling as chief bloke, has a habit for writing stuff that's simple and that might look good. Nothing deep and complex and science-fictiony - it's mainstream entertainment and that's how it works. In the same way as he couldn't begin the 2005 series with a regeneration scene (how many folks would have said 'what's that about then?' and turned over to watch Red Dwarf re-runs on Dave instead?), he can't really bring in Timewyrms and Maras and all that stuff... can he?

I suppose the Autons made it in that first episode, and nobody much remembered them.

Still - hopes are high that the final episodes for David Tennant will be good and a fitting send-off. They've already said that they're doing things with the Doctor's character that they can't normally do - because everyone knows the end is near for him. So let's see how far, and how creatively, they're willing to push it.

Meantime news from here is that I'm busy (apologies for lack of blogs), have made bacon that turned out ok-but-salty, playing football (six-a-side) every Tuesday for a team called the 'GSE Hooligans' (that's what Google's for, remember) and there's some American thing called Thanksgiving next week that seems to involve turkeys but not presents.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

3 November 2009: Champion

This blog is about many things, and one of the emerging features this year has been my occasional transcendence into the realm of Amateur Butcher. Not content with having a big cleaver knife with which to cut up chickens, I've also dabbled in sausage making and, as soon as a supply of cure #1 arrives tomorrow, a little bacon curing too.

But the master if the art, as you will know if you read the previous blogs or clicked the link above, is Simon Broadribb from Uptons of Bassett in Southampton. And now, not content with winning Champion Sausage and all manner of other national UK butcher awards, he's had a short film made about him and his bangers, including the process (but notably not the recipe or the quantities... I guess you have to go in and ask for those in person...)

And don't forget, it's British Sausage Week all week, even here in Kokomo. Better get down to Country Choice and get some more sausage skins...