Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nigerian Follow-up

A couple of years back I wrote this post, dealing in part with the fact that, due to my job being the sort where one might reasonably expect to receive e-mails from people in developing countries with the words URGENT REQUEST in the header, I tend to wind up opening a lot of Nigerian spam e-mails.

The ironic follow-up is that this week, I actually wound up deleting a legitimate and above-board e-mail, simply because it looked too much like a Nigerian spam to even bother checking.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Unicorn and the Recyclingwatch

Sorry to make you wait for this one-- I've been out of town.

The End of the World:
The year Five Billion, with its fully-blown nostalgia industry.

The Unquiet Dead:
As the script itself points out: famous writer, supernatural adversary, the Doctor gushing away like a fanboy.

Tooth and Claw:
“No, no, don’t do that” as companion attempts local argot; dinner party with discussions of the supernatural, lots of chasing of monster and being chased by monster, and goings-on about Britishness.

Smith and Jones: The Doctor neutralizing some kind of normally-fatal poison or radiation through Time Lord physiological magic.

The Shakespeare Code:
Aside from the obvious (see The Unquiet Dead, above), running gag about the Doctor and companion giving a famous writer all their best ideas, and speeches about how brilliant writers are, and how the power of writers’ imaginations alone can stop disasters happening (I’ve got five published books to my credit, and yet, somehow, I wasn’t able to stop Boris winning the London mayoral elections).

Mental link between two characters, such that if one dies, so does the other—“They Keep Killing Suzie” again.

“We’re not married”; Donna gets to tell Agatha Christie she’s brilliant. Christie quotes her own catchphrase about little grey cells.

Good gravy, now they’re even recycling *within* the season: Yet another alien creature wandering around with half its brain somewhere else.

Old Skool Who: The Doctor’s already had a Christie-esque adventure in the 1920s—the strikingly-similar-to-this Black Orchid. There’s a Big Finish involving giant mutant wasps, but I can’t recall the title right now. The Curse of Fenric (Donna telling Christie that everything will be better in the future = Ace telling Rev. Wainwright that everything will be better in the future). The Green Death (giant wasps that can be killed in the same way the little ones are). And of course The Ark in Space (three guesses).

Everything else: Cluedo (Professor Peach in the library with the lead pipe); The Box of Delights (shape-shifting ginger-haired vicar). I’m not much of a Christie fan (sorry—always preferred Dorothy L. Sayers) but apparently if you are, there’s lots of inside references to her books and namechecking of the titles (though somehow they managed to steer away from including the one beginning with the words “ten” and “little”). Brideshead Revisited (young camp noblemen having gay affairs in the 1920s, plus Aloysius guest-starring as the teddy bear). Gosford Park (servants keeping secrets having to do with unplanned pregnancies among their noble employers). The Man with the Golden Arm (character who has been faking paralysis in order to keep their spouse from leaving them, though maybe he got it from Little Britain instead). Raffles (society burglar who infiltrates country-house weekends and nicks the family jewels). The Anubis Gates (the protagonist combats strychnine poisoning by eating the contents of his fireplace, remembering that carbon neutralizes strychnine). The Incredible Hulk (“you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”). The Prisoner: The Girl Who Was Death (poisoned man drinking a variety of strange things to induce vomiting).

Incidentally, teddy bears weren’t invented until 1902, so, if the room hasn’t been disturbed since 1886, then Lady Eddison has a pretty avant-garde toy designer in her employ.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Niggling thought of the day

This has been bothering me ever since "The Poison Sky", but... how is it that, when a bad or morally ambiguous character on a TV programme or in a film commits an act of self-sacrifice after recognising that they've done wrong, why is it that people describe this act as "redemptive"? As opposed to if, say, the character recognised the evil of their ways, but then went on with the rest of their lives, living with the shame of the past and doing their best to make up for it, and make others' lives better in the process? Taking a bullet for the Doctor, or whatever, may make for a nice exciting climax and a slightly poignant episode ending, but, in real terms, it's taking the easy way out, and neatly avoiding any uncomfortable questions about forgiving your enemies.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Doctor's Recyclingwatch

The Unquiet Dead: ...has a *massive* amount to answer for in terms of random guest-characters sacrificing themselves while Murray Gold switches the keyboard to "sad" mode. Just once I'd like to see the obvious human sacrifice make it through the story (and this one doesn't count, as she does technically die).

Father's Day: Disappointment when your relatives don't turn out as you expect, plus a father who gets to know his previously-unknown daughter and comes to respect her.

Boom Town: Ages and ages of raking the Doctor's moral hypocrisy over.

The Parting of the Ways: Magic golden breath precedes regeneration.

School Reunion: Companion has convinced herself that she'll travel with the Doctor forever, but ex-companion knows better.

Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel: "I'm not your father! Really I'm not! Well, sort of, I suppose." Ad nauseam. Plus companion who heads off into the sunset for more adventures at the end.

Love and Monsters: Donna is played for laughs as a sexually frustrated older woman, sort of like Jackie in LAM.

Doomsday: More crash-the-action-to-a-halt-so-we-can-talk-about-relationships action.

Gridlock: The idea that the people in this society can't help themselves, they have to have the Doctor turn up and save them.

Daleks In Manhattan: Does that theatre look suspiciously familiar? Or maybe it's just the opera house on Kobol (see below)?

42: Race against time through corridors with fetching young people dressed in khakis; supposed enemy that isn't all it seems.

Last of the Time Lords: The Doctor as Messiah again.

Voyage of the Damned: Doctor meets plucky blonde girl temporary companion, with whom he bonds, and who dies, or sort of dies, at the end (and you could see *that* one coming for miles in both cases).

Catchphrasewatch: Lots of "No no no" this week, plus yet another iteration of the tired old "assuming the Doctor and Donna are married" bit.

Old Skool Who: The Face of Evil and Underworld (planets that start out as terraforming operations and end up with warring, primitive populations with no idea of their origins). The Chase (planet terraformed by machines, just waiting for people to fill it). City of Death (the jokes about Jenny being seemingly unable to solve a problem without violence are recycled from Duggan's). That famous Lenny Henry sketch (jokes about running up and down corridors). The Ark (human-alien colony mission, where relations between humans and aliens sour rapidly). Oddly enough, the Sontaran stories (warrior clones). The Curse of Fenric (Ace's distracting-the-guard bit, plus don't the Hath look kind of like haemavores?). Lance Parkin already did a similar Doctor's-daughter bit in the BBC novel Father Time. Full Circle (colonists who don't realise they're colonists, and/or that they've got a close connection with those humanoids with gills wandering around out there).

Everything Else: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has a lot to answer for here, what with Genesis devices, heroic self-sacrifice, and loony old warriors (although the Doctor's wrong, the Genesis device *can* be used as a weapon), with a bit of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock coming in the resolution. Battlestar Galactica: TRS (generations-long war between two groups who are quite similar really; reproduction through cloning machines; protracted bonding between two members of opposing camps as they wander through an irradiated landscape, and the Doctor lifted his pointing-guns-at-heads-and-handing-them-over bit entirely from Sharon "Athena" Agathon in Season Two) Entrapment, the film whose sole attraction was watching Catherine Zeta-Jones negotiate a corridor full of lasers. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the obvious, plus random relatives being created out of nowhere through plot conveniences). Enemy Mine, and to a lesser extent "The Return of Starbuck" (Martha's bonding with the Hath adventures). BBC News (note that when the Hath do their victory dance with the rifles, it looks suspiciously like that dance that Iraqis do that involves hopping from one foot to another with your rifle held in the air). Silent Running (in the sequences in the terraformed jungle, I kept expecting the camera to pan across to Bruce Dern happily transplanting saplings with his little robot pals). Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (plucky and tough warrior girl who can't solve a problem without knocking it unconscious first).

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Poisoned Recyclingwatch

Usual deal for the second half of a two-parter: only stuff not mentioned in the first half gets in.

The End of the World: Companion, freaked out by recent experiences, rings Mum through time and/or space, and gets a kind of bizarre reassurance from it.

The Unquiet Dead: Guest character does heroic self-sacrifice bit, which incidentally also involves self-immolation.

Aliens of London/WW3: How is UNIT's computer security still so rubbish that Martha can hack the nuclear grid using her Ipod Touch? Plus another resolution to the general effect that with one thing changed, everything is now absolutely wonderful. Plus real BBC personalities slumming it in guest cameos.

The Empty Child: "Are you my mummy," indeed.

The Parting of the Ways: The Doctor can't just slaughter the bad guys, he has to give them the chance to back down. Companion, trapped on another planet to the Doctor through Tardis displacement, has to figure out how to get back to him.

The Age of Steel: Doctor instructing companion secretly in what they have to do, using a mobile phone and a video broadcast.

Fear Her, Army of Ghosts and The Sound of Drums: Celeb newsreader guest cameo.

Doomsday: Action grinding to a halt for various people to talk through their issues with each other.

42: More mobile phone and stranded companion antics.

Torchwood: The clone-Martha's relationship with her original, and her death, are lifted straight out of "They Keep Killing Suzie."

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Evil factories with attractive products run by aliens who want to breed; annoying parents who get in the way but sometimes come through for you.

They're still recycling within their own season: As if the other "Partners In Crime" parallels weren't enough, now we learn that the Sontarans want to breed.

Catchphrasewatch: A hat-trick this week: "Bwilliant," "I'm so sorry," and "No, no, no".

Old Skool Who: The Claws of Axos (new technology that is marketed as the solution to one of Earths' major problems turns out to be terraforming devices from an alien species). The Auton Invasion (killer dolls and chairs, meet killer cars). Invasion again (evil genius who recants and does good, plus huge set-piece UNIT battle with expensive hardware); Battlefield (UNIT's arsenal of cool bullets and anti-alien gadgets); Invasion of the Dinosaurs (tracksuited group of Utopians, convinced, wrongly, that they're going to go to another planet to start again). The Android Invasion (gratuitous explanation for lack of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stuart). The Green Death (ending in which the ecosystem will be, by implication, miraculously saved through everyone going green, and companion informs Doctor that marriage to a scientist is more exciting than going around with him).

Everything Else: Bizarrely, the original Japanese version of Godzilla has an equally stupid scientific resolution, in which the monster is killed by some chemical which acts on the sea, but with no explanation as to how they avoid killing all fish everywhere in the world at the same time. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (if you locked Rattigan in a cupboard with Warren from Season Six, which one would win?). Predator ("This isn't war, this is sport!"). Harry Potter (secret academies, with bitter and twisted misunderstood geniuses determined to kill off the unlike).