Monday, April 28, 2008

The Sontaran Recyclingwatch

Appropriately enough for an eco-story.

Rose: Duplicates, where the original conveniently has to be kept alive; Doctor's companion duplicated; harmless objects activating and attacking people; a few deaths early on, followed by an all-out massacre when the signal is triggered-- are these guys really Sontarans, or Nestenes in suits?

The End of the World: People standing in front of huge screens looking down on the Earth, check.

Aliens of London: Is there some kind of rule that all DW companions' mums now have to be obnoxious old things who just don't understand, and immediately start attacking the Doctor?

Dalek: The Doctor steals Van Statten's "Intruder, in-tru-der window" gag, even though there's no way he could have heard Van Statten making it.

The Long Game: More people standing in front of huge screens looking down on the Earth.

Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways: More evil companies and outer-space CGI armies over the Earth.

Tooth and Claw: Monks in red in big Gothic pile, meet geniuses in red in big Gothic pile.

School Reunion: Current companion, meet ex-companion, and let them bond over shared experiences.

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday: Doctor's ex-companion turns up, wearing black jumpsuit and working with a paramilitary organisation to fight alien menaces. Doctor comes back to visit another ex-companion and find out how she and her family have been getting on.

The Lazarus Experiment: See entry for "Aliens of London" and repeat slightly more loudly.

Last of the Time Lords: Does Martha's boyfriend know she met him in a parallel universe? Oh, and more companions joining the black-clad paras.

Good gravy, now they're even recycling *within* the season: Isn't this just a retread of "Partners in Crime"? Mysterious company shoots to fame with miracle product tackling topical social issue, which turns out to be really run by aliens; it's being investigated by the Doctor's ex-companion who is hoping he'll come back and help out; nosy female journalists investigating the place meet predictable fates.

Torchwood: The whole thing feels more like a TW than a DW story: nasty fates in cars on deserted roads (Countrycide), allegedly-secret supergovernmental organisations with a moral compass that ranges from the dubious to the facile (the whole series really), everyday things or objects given an alien twist (Meat, Random Shoes, Sleeper), guest appearance from DW monster (Cyberwoman, Exit Wounds) and/or ex-companion (Reset through A Day in the Death).

Catchphrasewatch: Martha gets in the "bwilliant" this episode.

Old Skool Who: Watch for recycling from pretty much every Robert Holmes story except the Sontaran ones: evil duplicates and mysterious factories with popular products (Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons), corporate satires (The Sunmakers, The Caves of Androzani, The Power of Kroll), satires about paperwork (The Carnival of Monsters), evil dwarves (The Talons of Weng-Chiang), academies of brilliant people being preyed on by aliens (The Krotons), red-clad secret societies in Gothic piles (The Brain of Morbius). The Time Warrior gets a brief look-in only with a misquotation of the thorax thing (it's not "vulnerable," just hypertrophied), and the idea of people being hypnotised (which is hardly unique to the Sontarans). UNIT's mobile HQ is straight out of The Invasion (though at least the Brig could afford a Hercules). Battlefield (reimagined UNIT). Any evil-duplicate-made-by-the-baddie story, e.g. The Chase, The Android Invasion, The Androids of Tara, Resurrection of the Daleks etc.

Everything Else: ITC series made evil-duplicate and evil-megacorporation stories a stock in trade in the 1960s and 1970s. There's also a whole horror subgenre revolving around evil or possessed everyday items (e.g. Ringu/The Ring, The House that Dripped Blood, etc.; one could arguably include the film Phone Booth), the most obvious referent here is Christine (cars with minds of their own and evil designs on their owners). Real life (jokes about "homeworld security", Guantanamo Bay, illegal immigrants, etc.). Battlestar Galactica: Razor and the third series episode "The Passage" (a hand suddenly shooting out of a tank of fluid and grabbing someone).

Oh, and I'll confess that when Donna's granddad says "you!" upon seeing the Doctor, I was half-hoping he'd go on with "back in 1966, when I was a bobby on the beat..." but of course he didn't. Rats.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recyclingwatch of the Ood

Rose: Nestene Consciousness, meet Ood Collective Brain, with similar harmless-things-becoming-murderers bit.

The End of the World: Companion gets taken into the future for the first time and freaks out in both bad and good ways.

The Long Game: References to the Fourth Great and Bountiful Etc., plus a company that's hiding a secret nobody asks too much about, and a character turning
out to be a secret anti-capitalist operative.

Boom Town: Alien which had a few things wrong with it from a story perspective revisited and given a more nuanced treatment; the Doctor's ethics called into question.

New Earth: the Face of Boe/Ood singing telepathically; the cat nuns' experimenting on people for what they claim is the common good versus the company's lobotomising the Ood for similar reasons, etc. Both have "...and then everything gets sorted out perfectly in five minutes," happy endings.

The Girl in the Fireplace: The Doctor's mind-meld trick.

The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit: Ignore the obvious connection, and focus on a) the slaves-rising-up bit; b) the psychic-CGI-monster-in-a-pit bit; and c) the fact that Murray Gold, when forced to do music that's a bit off from his usual bombastic National-Orchestra-of-Wales default setting, actually turns into a really good composer; both the Firefly-influenced stuff there, and the Sensorites-influenced stuff here, are great.

Catchphrasewatch: "we're not married" again; the Doctor works in another teeny "bwilliant," though manages not to say "I'm so sorry" to the dying Ood on the hillside.

Old Skool Who: The Sensorites (leaving aside the namecheck, we have a psychic bald race who are extremely gentle and kind when not under outside influences); The Robots of Death (only without the twist that the beings supposedly being liberated are actually just being reprogrammed); Ghost Light (although transforming the vicar into a monkey made more scientific sense there than turning Lord Percy into an Ood here); Revelation of the Daleks (Graeme Harper again gives us an opening where the Doctor and companion walk across a snowy landscape to discover an escaped mutant creature on the run); The Seeds of Doom (opening scene where companion comes out of the Tardis in hot-weather clothing to discover an arctic landscape, and rushes back in to put on warm clothes; also, later, when the companion finds certain of the villain's practices repugnant, the Doctor points out analogous practices in her own culture); like last week, anything with evil businesspeople and greedy consumers in.

Everything Else: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (slave race rising up and taking over the planet, led by a few individuals who are brainier than the rest); Blake's 7: Ultraworld (race with a collective mind which turns out to be an actual literal giant brain); Terminator III (company innocently producing robot slaves only to have them turn on them unexpectedly); John Wyndham's short story (later televised) "Dumb Mart" (alien creature thought to be stupid and fit only for use as a slave turns out quite intelligent indeed, and exacts revenge).

Anybody else wonder if the fact that this story's acronym is POO is deliberate?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Doctor Who Recyclingwatch: The Fires of Pompeii

Late and brief, I'm afraid...

The Unquiet Dead: This is basically the source story here. Doctor shows off by taking companion to requested historical destination (only he gets the time and place slightly wrong); said destination is being invaded by homeless aliens who have designs on Earth, Doctor and companion vow to go as far as sacrificing their lives to stop them, moralising about who one can/can't save. Girls with second sight making prophecies of visible relevance to the rest of the season. The Doctor even technically meets literary figures, in the form of the Caecillii. At the end of the episode he officially confirms Donna as companion.

Boom Town: Just as Margaret Slitheen predicted, the Doctor saves one family, and assuages his conscience.

Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel: Baddies plan to convert the whole human race to become like them, and take over the world.

The Satan Pit: Underground Balrog-like monster that gets loose; it's already been working its influence on some of the population, and they're physically marked by this.

The Shakespeare Code: Historical done as comedy, with anachronistic gags ("T.K. Maximus," etc.) Also (and this goes for "The Unquiet Dead," "The Idiot's Lantern, etc.), the idea that one can't do a straight historical, there has to be a monster in it somewhere.

Gridlock: Doctor bonds with companion at end of story over the nature of his life as a time lord; major prophetic revelations given in cryptic manner.

Daleks in Manhattan: Wales as stand-in for more glamourous location; some of the team go to said glamorous one and don't let anyone forget it.

Catchprasewatch: Looks like this "everyone assumes they're married" gag is going to become a recurring thing. "Allons-y, Alonzo," and a blink-and-you-miss-it "bwilliant".

Old Skool Who: The Aztecs, the Massacre, and The Reign of Terror get the whole "can you or can't you change history?" question resolved at a stroke (answer: sometimes), while The Romans is actually namechecked and The Myth Makers is also a visible influence. Any story in which a cult attempt to sacrifice the Doctor and/or companion; take two points if their reasons are actually other than religious (The Masque of Mandragora, Meglos, and see elsewhere); The Brain of Morbius (The Sisterhood called, they want their robes, makeup, and chanting-and-whirling schtick back). Big Finish did a CD called "The Fires of Vulcan" focusing around Pompeii.

Everything Else: The Confidential admits to Asterix and the Cambridge Latin Course (though IIRC the Caecillii never had a daughter), but other candidates include the HBO/BBC series Rome and, indirectly, I Claudius (Ancient Romans talking and acting like modern people), The Terminator ("Take my hand [if you want to live]"), Spartacus ("I am... Spartacus." "I'm Spartacus too"). A short-lived 1980s transforming toys franchise called "Rock Lords" (it was basically Transformers with rocks, and the creatures looked a lot like those Pyrovile things). Actual Pompeian history/archaeology (people turning into stone is a creepy reference to the petrified casts of Pompeians buried under the ash). Only Fools and Horses ("lovely jubbly"). Up Pompeii is going to be an unconscious influence regardless of what you do. That Star Trek episode where the crew journey back to the 1960s and accidentally kidnap an astronaut (in that the question of what to do with him is influenced by the question of how historically significant he and his offspring will be, much like the Doctor with the Caecillii).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Moving Mayhem

British Gas Lady: Your closing balance is [gives number]. Would you like to pay that now?

Me: Yes.

BGL: You would?

Me: Why not?

BGL: Um... OK. What sort of card is it?

Me: ...a debit card?


Me: A [name of bank] debit card?

[more silence]

Me: Uh... [brand name of card]?

BGL: Ah! Could I have the long number on your card?

Me: [gives it]

BGL: Start date?

Me: [gives it]

BGL: Expiry date?

Me: [gives it]

BGL: Start date?

Me: I just gave you it.

BGL: Sorry, issue number?

Me: [gives it]

BGL: [long pause] I'm sorry, the card isn't registering. Can I have the long number again?

Me: [gives it, and all the other details above, again]

BGL: No, it's still not registering. Do you have another card?

Me: Look, I have direct debit on my British Gas account....

BGL: Oh, you do? (pause) Oh yes, you do. Right, I'll just debit your account then.

Me: [says nothing, but contemplates switching to Southern Gas and Electric]

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Mattress postscript

Discovered after an intensive and frustrating web search that we have a community recycling centre twenty minutes' drive up the A30, so loaded the damned thing into the hatchback and took it there (with Alan holding it down as firmly as possible so that it didn't obscure the rear-view mirror). Now I wonder why the nice council lady didn't suggest that option straight away?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Real life update

We're moving house (hopefully for the last time for a good long while), which means that a) I haven't got much time to post here and b) once we've moved, there'll be a two-week radio silence while the broadband migrates. I'll try and keep up with the Recyclingwatch as best as I can using dialup and my work computer, but if I slip up, that's why.

On a side but related note-- the local council charges thirty pounds to recycle your mattress. THIRTY POUNDS. You could buy a new (albeit secondhand) mattress for that. I always wondered why I saw so many mattresses thrown into railway sidings; now I know. I'm off to find a friendly neighbour with a skip.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Doctor Who: Recyclingwatch: Partners in Crime

Yes, the Recyclingwatch feature returns again, to general fanfare. This episode sets the tone nicely...

Rose: Glimpse of companion's pre-Doctor life, with unsatisfactory family, lousy job experiences, and Billie Piper. Companion turning to conspiracy theory websites to explain the Doctor. Companion's Mum nagging her about her employment status. Some woman propositions the Doctor only to be bluntly turned down.

Aliens of London/WW3: Nasty things happening to fat people; cute but fatal aliens, fart-based humour.

Bad Wolf: Another Anne Robinson look alike (see below)

New Earth (and Gridlock): "I've met cat people, you're nothing like them..."

School Reunion: Doctor and ex-companion both investigating same thing at same time, with comedy hijinx.

The Idiot's Lantern: The Doctor and companion try to get to the bottom of strange happenings by knocking on the doors of ordinary people and pretending to conduct a survey.

Love and Monsters: Ordinary person whose life was briefly touched by the Doctor subsequently spends ages trying to track him down.

Army of Ghosts: Check out the advert for the ectoplasm polish, and ask yourself who that cute little ghost reminds you of (the sound people have even recycled the noises it makes).

The Runaway Bride: Oh, go on, guess.

42: Silent dialogue between the Doctor and companion, behind their own separate windows.

The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords: The villain has their own version of the sonic screwdriver.

Voyage of the Damned: Bernard Cribbins reprises his crusty-old-granddad bit.

Sarah Jane Smith: Invasion of the Bane: The plot of PIC is essentially an adult version of the Sarah Jane pilot, only with diet pills instead of fizzy drinks, and some extra added body horror. Even the two villainesses look almost exactly alike, and have a penchant for kinkily victimising nosy female journalists.

Old Skool Who: Not much, surprisingly: The Invasion (rooftop exploits with armed guards, attempt to escape in a lift). Robot (the source for all the creepy business-suited crypto-lesbian villainesses). Any story featuring an evil megacorporation with a popular product as chief villain (The Green Death, Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons...)

Everything Else: The sheer number of referents for the appearance of the Adipose is staggering (The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the Scrubbing Bubbles, Pokemon, the Smurfs, the Death Guard). Gremlins (cute, seemingly harmless aliens with food-related issue). Mary Poppins (Nanny flying through space over London); Harriet the Spy (children, by implication, experiencing separation anxiety when their parents get rid of Nanny); Shivers (body horror involving beings inside people trying to get out); Alien (the scenes involving the birth of the Adipose are like a teatime comedy version of John Hurt's famous chestbusting incident). Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the giant Adipose mother [sic] ship). The Weakest Link (Anne Robinson's look/stage persona).