Friday, May 31, 2013

The Repeated Meme: Recycling Like the Wolf

Cold War

Central Premise Recycled From: “Warriors of the Deep” crossed with “Dalek”, and obviously “The Ice Warriors”.

Moffat Autorecycling: None, and indeed the story seems to have been engineered deliberately so as to exclude the usual tropes: setting it on a Russian submarine precludes the presence of children and Time Travelers' Wives, making the antagonist a lone Ice Warrior rules out Gentlemen-lite hordes or Weeping Angel creeping unknowns. The script mercifully refrains from repeated catchprases and speeches about how wonderful libraries are. All that leaves is a villain who turns out to be Just Misunderstood, and song-based technology.

Recycling Other People: Has all the hallmarks of the Troughton-era Base Under Siege stories, albeit with fewer weird psychosexual undertones. Also “The Horror of Fang Rock” (base under siege at sea, with an alien that's pretty good at hiding and picking people off one by one). “The Krotons” (HADS). Gatiss indulges his fondness for eccentric old professors (see “Nightshade” among others), and has characters named “Zhukov” and “Onegin” (presumably there's a ship's doctor named Zhivago somewhere aboard).  
“The Curse of Fenric” (sympathetic Soviets). “The War of the Worlds” (the Ice Warrior's hand coming up behind Stepashin's head). “World War Three” (world on brink of nuclear annihilation thanks to an interfering alien). “The Unquiet Dead” (time is in flux, and the fact that Clara is alive in the 2010s does not preclude her dying in the 1980s). “Alien” and sequels, though that practically goes without saying. “Battlefield” (the Doctor's antiwar rant). “The Sea Devils” (submarine invaded by prehistoric lizard-creature).

Evil Household Objects: Not exactly, but there's a treacherous walkman.

Doctor Who!: Again not exactly, though Zhukov does ask “who are you?”

Outfits!: The Doctor dons aviator glasses for a visit to Las Vegas.

Small Child!: No, but then, where would you fit one on a submarine?

Murray Gold's Top Ten: Rather banal this week.

Clara Dies Due To: Nothing, though she does get knocked out for a while.

Clara's Job of the Week: To channel the spirit of Deborah Watling for forty-five minutes.
Run, you clever boy, and remember”: Nope.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: Lots of Eighties references, so we can puzzle them right now. “Daddy, what's an Ultravox, and why are you and Mummy laughing?”

Gratuitous Plot Hole of the Week: That's an awfully big and spacious submarine they're on, and why's it got ventilator shafts?

Continuity Frakup of the Week: Strangely it's actually not a frakup, but a correction, in that the Ice Warriors were always meant to be cyborg-type creatures with really technological armour. However, since they haven't up till now, it comes across as a frakup. It's been pointed out that the Doctor saying he's never seen an Ice Warrior out of its armour renders certain New Adventures uncanonical, but I'm not sure most of the audience is bothered.

Nostalgia UK: We're back in the Eighties again, when everything was bigger. At least the choice of Ultravox and Duran Duran for period stylings means we miss out the “Ghost Town” embarrassment of last week.
Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Foregone conclusion. Suffice it to say we're not going to be getting little plastic David Warners.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Repeated Meme: Song for Akhaten

The Rings of Akhaten

Central Premise Recycled From: “The End of the World” crossed with “The Satan Pit”.

Moffat Autorecycling: The Doctor visiting/stalking some girl over the course of her childhood; Moffat Moppet; stalking, whispering creatures that are basically The Gentlemen from Buffy with the serial numbers filed off; lots of mumbo-jumbo about how wonderful stories are.

Recycling Other People: Robes and priests and impending fiery doom straight out of “The Fires of Pompeii”. An evil deity-figure called The Grandfather. One of the background aliens is wearing a water-breathing apparatus like the ones seen in “The Doctor's Daughter”. Living suns, like the one in “42”. Yet another alien market that owes way too much to Mos Eisley.

Evil Household Objects: No, but there's a magic leaf.

Doctor Who!: Not said.

Outfits!: The Doctor's still in the tweed, and Clara's got some ultrafashionable boots on.

Small Child!: Merry, the Moffat Moppet of Years.

Murray Gold's Top Ten: The moment the Doctor mentions that singing is part of these people's beliefs, everyone should start bracing themselves for the return of the Welsh Choir of The Damned. Props to the sound effects department for giving the sun a cool rumbling effect, though.

Clara Dies Due To: Nothing, this week; it'll be a while before this trope comes back.

Clara's Job of the Week: Child.

Run, you clever boy, and remember”: One of the aliens in the marketplace says it, highly distorted, as the Doctor enters for the first time.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: This story's pretty free of them.

Gratuitous Plot Hole of the Week: So, the resolution of this story involves the Doctor destroying the sun, and thus the entire system? And everybody's OK with that?

Cliche of the Week: Pyramids with supposedly impenetrable tombs containing evil mummies. “I've seen things you could never believe, etc.!”

Continuity Frakup of the Week: Not so much continuity this week as Massive Science Fail, namely, the idea that one can ride a space-moped through the system without any sort of protective gear or breathing apparatus. Likewise, although it's not entirely improbable that the audience to the concert just sits there passively while the whole drama with The Grandfather reawakening unfolds, it does seem a little weird; do they think this is a normal part of the show, or what?

Nostalgia UK: The early 1980s are envisioned as a place of Beano annuals, suburbs, earth-tone Ford Capris, and the song “Ghost Town” cutting out right before the political part of the lyrics begins. The Doctor mentions his granddaughter.

Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: If this were the Star Wars franchise, we'd have multiple versions of every single alien in this story. This isn't, and the mummy, with its chair and glass box, is too big to be anything other than a limited-edition figure, so we'll probably just get one of those grill-faced stalking thingys. If NBC can sell Tauron Mafia temporary tattoos from Caprica, why can't Character Options come out with stick-on Chorister scarification marks?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Repeated Meme: For You, But Not For Me

The Bells of St John

Central Premise Recycled From: “Silence in the Library” blended with “The Long Game” and garnished with just a soupcon of “Partners in Crime”. That, or “The War Machines”.

Moffat Autorecycling: Mysterious force absorbing people into it; person trapped in alternate dimension sending video warning to others, “Don't click” = “Don't Blink”; “I don't know where I am” = “Hey, who turned out the lights?”/“Are you my mummy?” Moffat Moppets (two of them); spoon-headed robots with the faces of absorbed people; Monks; the Doctor becoming obsessed with some unlikely woman; the Tardis phone ringing; jammy dodgers; Amy Pond Williams apparently wrote a novel called Summer Falls. For the second time this season, someone is clinically dead for enough time to cause brain damage and yet wakes unaffected.

Recycling Other People: Clara miraculously gets mad computer skillz, like Donna in “Journey's End.” The Doctor rides a motorbike, like in the McGann Telemovie and “The Idiot's Lantern”. Lincoln and Haisman yet again uncredited.

Evil Household Objects: The wifi.

Doctor Who!: Clara says it, and he goes on about how much he enjoys hearing it.

Outfits! (hats are no longer cool): Monk's robe, until monks are not cool that is. The fez does make a couple of cameos.

Small Child!: Clara's babysitting two of them, and another one turns up in the cafe. Miss Kizlett turns out to be one on the quiet.

Murray Gold's Top Ten: Abysmal Disney kids' movie comedy music as the Doctor gets changed.

Clara Dies Due To: Being zapped by the spoon-head, then revived as above. Twice.

Clara's Job of the Week: Child-minder.

“Run, you clever boy, and remember”: turns up as a painting title and a wifi password mnemonic.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: the London Riots of 2011 were apparently down to the baddies as well. There's something which can be mistaken for a Tardis at Earl's Court (no doubt in the Doctor Who Exhibition, though Matthew Kilburn points out that there's also a police box in Earl's Court Road).

Gratuitous Plot Hole of the Week: Who gives Clara the Doctor's phone number as a helpline, and why?

Cliche of the Week: Could Clara please dial down the feistiness a bit? It's very wearing.

Continuity Frakup of the Week: Miss Kizlet probably ought to be a younger person; she was picked up by the Great Intelligence as a child and the wifi operation can't have been running for longer than about ten years, and yet she's clearly in her sixties.

Nostalgia UK: Reverse nostalgia-- the Shard is new, but give it ten years and setting a story on the Shard will sound like setting one on the Post Office Tower.

Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: No really marketable monsters this week, so we'll have to settle for Clara, and the Doctor in yet more outfits, spoonhead format, and so forth. “Summer Falls” is already a  downloadable e-book.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What I saw at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival, by Fiona aged 38.5

Birdemic II: The Resurrection: Possibly the worst film I've seen at the festival so far (and that includes such gems as Manborg and Sharktopus), combining appalling acting and effects with terrible production, a soundtrack which makes one appreciate the role of levels and foley, and a script crammed with inappropriate references to better films. It's eitehr an accidental or deliberate work of genius, I'm not sure which.

Dark Star (with live accompaniment): Sort of like a cross between Silent Running and Red Dwarf, I'd argue this is secretly a Vietnam film, featuring as it does four young American men thrown out into space on a mission they don't particularly understand and facing perils they can't cope with, slowly going insane under the pressure. This production had live accompaniment by Sheffield-based synth duo  Animat, which was extra groovy.

War of the Worlds: Goliath: An anime take on the War of the Worlds, so naturally the human race band together to fight the Martians using giant mecha, and World War I is called off due to alien invasion. Clear and distinct themes, with a slate of two-dimensional but likeable characters and a lot of cheery homages to the various takes on the story over the years (hoping they release their techno-remix of "Forever Autumn" as a single sometime).

Channelling: Pacy thriller about a near-future world in which people broadcast their experiences live over the Internet through contact-lens cameras; a sort of cross between Neuromancer and Strange Days via Twitter results.

Piercing Brightness: Aliens living incognito in Preston, Lancashire, receive a call to come home; not a bad story but I think it could have been told in a lot less time, and with fewer arty shots of birds.

Dark by Noon: Time-travel story; well thought out and atmospheric, but again could have been told in about half the time.

 Short Films: As usual too many to review in detail. The standout film was definitely "The Golden Sparrow", a strange and beautiful rotoscoped take on superheroes, but other highlights included "Judge Minty", a Dredd fanfilm about an aging Judge who's starting to question what it's all about, shot on a much smaller budget than you'd realise; "Une Monde Meilleur" a Tatiesque surrealist comedy about a bureaucratic functionary in a totalitarian regime who is left at a loss when said regime collapses; "Nyanco", a spoof of Japanese monster movies featuring a cat, and "Fist of Jesus", reimagining the New Testament as a zombie martial arts movie.

Movie count for 2013: 29