Friday, June 28, 2013

Off to see the wizard

The Wizard of Oz: One of my favourite films, which I rewatch every few years just to remind myself how brilliant it is. However, my purpose in watching it this time is to apply it to a couple of David Lynch films:

Lost Highway: Opens with a headlong race down a road, yellow stripe prominently featured. Patricia Arquette starts the film as the Wicked Witch of the West: long dark hair, long dark dresses, black fingernails. She also clearly lives in the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks, if the red-themed decor and curtains are any indication. Bill Pullman then meets a wizard at a party and is pulled into a strange world where he is Balthazar Getty, Patricia Arquette is now the Good Witch Glinda, short blonde hair, white (later green) fingernails, and the local decor is predominantly green (i.e., emerald). However, through the predominantly-red garage he is drawn to a murderous encounter in which he meets the Wizard again, and returns home.

Mulholland Drive: Opens with a jitterbug (as in a deleted scene from The Wizard of Oz). Two men dining at Winkies' restaurant discover the Winkies' leader, the Wicked Witch of the West, living behind it; meanwhile, the events of Lost Highway are reenacted as a young person responsible for a murder wishes hard enough and the world changes, everyone in it takes different roles, and the dark-haired murder victim comes back blonde. The club Silencio is, once again, evidently the Black Lodge.

Movie Count for 2013: 34


Max Payne: Dreadful video-game adaption with an utterly predictable twist, slightly mitigated by the probably-unintentional subtext that the supposedly drug-induced visions of demons are actually real.

A History of Violence: Rewatched to prove a theory that this film is to Banshee what Star Wars is to Battlestar Galactica. It's true.

Movie count for 2013: 31

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Repeated Meme: John Frakking Hurt

The Name of the Doctor
(with thanks to Nick Lewis)

Central Premise Recycled From: "Alien Bodies", and Zelig.

Moffat Autorecycling: Timey-wimey companion, with sobriquet (The Girl who Waited = The Impossible Girl). Nursery rhymes (do the Whispermen just sit around all day trying to come up with rhymes for Trenzalore?). Madame Vastra, her household, and her hooters and honkers. Gratuitous Scottish jokes. Souffle Girl. Another person being clinically dead for long enough to cause brain damage, but revived unharmed through the use of a defibrillator. More Gentlemen-lite (the Whispermen). The stars all going out due to absence of Doctor (originally from “Turn Left", but more recently in the Pandorica two-parter). A crack in the universe. River bloody Song.

John Hurt. Any questions?
Recycling Other People: Inception (conference calls in dreams); Dracula (lunatic in Victorian prison with some sort of inside knowledge). The Matrix (Agent Smith's ability to manifest himself in any of the agents in the Matrix, like the Great Intelligence with the Whispermen). Sherlock Holmes (taking up bee-keeping as a retirement hobby). Star Trek: DS9 "Trials and Tribble-ations" (which also featured present-day characters green-screened into past adventures). Logopolis/Castrovalva (weird things happening to the Tardis during and after the Doctor's death). Quantum Leap, Battlestar Galactica (original and new), and every other story involving a person with an invisible advisor only they can see all the way back to Blithe Spirit (and the Doctor commenting that his kiss with River must have looked strange, is a direct reference to Baltar's sexual relationship with Head Six). Continuity references back to “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, “The Christmas Invasion” and “Trial of a Time Lord”. Back to the Future (characters disappearing or transforming as the past changes). “Edge of Destruction” (the fast-return protocol, or switch as it may be). “Trial of a Time Lord” (an evil secret incarnation of the Doctor). The time-rewriting thing has been done a lot, but the most obvious immediate referents are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and JJ Abrams' Star Trek.

Evil Household Objects: Candles.

Doctor Who!: Spoken by Simeon/The Great Intelligence, but then it would have been surprising if nobody had said it.

Outfits!: The brief clip of the Doctor's Christmas-episode stovepipe hat.

Small Child!: A Scottish urchin, the annoying Maitlands, a young Clara.

Murray Gold's Top Ten: Starts channelling Enrico Morricone, for some reason, when the Doctor and River have their snog.

Clara Dies Due To: Quite a lot of things, apparently. Jenny manages it twice.

Clara's Job of the Week: Saviour of the universe (ah-ahha!)

Run, you clever boy, and remember”: Clara says it, most notably right before chucking herself into the gap.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: Richard E. Grant played an alternative ninth Doctor in the cartoon “Scream of the Shalka”; could there be a sly reference here?

Continuity Frakup of the Week: Strax is rendered unconscious through a blow to the head-- not the probic vent. If the Doctor almost never noticed Clara during his adventures, how is it we see the First, Third and Seventh Doctors all seeing her and reacting? And how is it he hasn't noticed her, given all the interfering she does? For that matter, how is it none of his companions or foes noticed her? Also, how is it the Doctor never noticed The Great Intelligence (other than, presumably, “The Abominable Snowmen”, “The Web of Fear”, “The Snowmen” and “The Bells of St John”)? When did the Second Doctor go to California? It's a Physics Fail rather than a continuity frakup, but a) you don't need antigravs to keep you floating in space above a planet, and b) turning them off wouldn't mean you plummet towards the planet, but that you'd go into orbit around it. Why don't the Daleks, who have a damn sight more reason to hate the Doctor than the Great Intelligence does, just go to Trenzalore and ram six million Daleks through his timeline? Also, if Clara is born, lives and dies in many places, how does she somehow invade the uteruses of millions of women throughout time and space? Why is the First Doctor dressed in Victorian clothes on Gallifrey, and when did the Sixth lose all that weight? In “The Doctor's Wife”, we learn that the Tardis chose the Doctor, rather than the Doctor being steered towards a particular Tardis by Clara (and if Clara did direct him towards the right Tardis, why does the Tardis dislike her?). Clara sees eleven faces of the Doctor, but she should see at least twelve, and more likely thirteen (depending on what or who John Hurt actually is). If John Hurt deliberately chose not to go by the name “The Doctor”, why the caption “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor” (and he's credited as the Doctor in the end credits as well). Lincoln and Haisman still not credited as creators of The Great Intelligence.

The World's Biggest Continuity Frakup: So, now that time has been rewritten, it seems the Doctor has never actually saved the universe; it's all Clara. Every single Doctor Who story has now gone completely differently; that's fifty years down the pan then.

Nostalgia UK: More Victoriana.

Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: The Whispermen, probably.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Repeated Meme: Nightmare in Cardiff

Nightmare in Silver

Central Premise Recycled From: Remembrance of the Daleks” and “Asylum of the Daleks” (the Doctor's old enemy need children and/or the Doctor to resolve their problems).

Moffat Autorecycling: Moppets, humorously incompetent soldiers. The comic fat soldier would probably be played by James Corden if they hadn't already used him for something else. Another mention of how special Clara is.

Gaiman Autorecycling: Steampunk Victoriana; there was a Sandman comic which dealt with a Roman emperor who used to disguise himself as a beggar and go out among the people in the company of the court dwarf. A villain calling themselves “Mister Clever” is a very Gaiman sort of thing to do.

Recycling Other People: Lots of references to “The Moonbase” (e.g. a lunar surface mockup; weather control). The eighteenth-century chess-playing “automaton”, the Turk, which was actually controlled by a hidden dwarf operator and the Blake's 7 episode "Gambit" with its chess-playing dwarf; “Dalek” (indomitable enemy that is currently a theme-park exhibit); “Death to the Daleks” (the chess-playing Cyberman is the 699th wonder of the universe; the City of the Exxilons is the 700th). “The Curse of Fenric” (the Doctor playing chess with the villain and trapping him by telling him he can win the game in three moves);The Hand of Fear” (the Cyberman's independently-moving hand). The Cybermen have supposedly been wiped out for a very long time, like in 90% of all other Cybermen stories. The Matrix (bullet time). The original-series Battlestar Galactica episode “The Young Lords” (group of children/incompetents attacking/defending a fairy-tale castle against robots). The Cybermen base features design elements which appear to stem from a misunderstanding of “The Tomb of the Cybermen” (those semicircular depressions around the doors were steps in “Tomb”), and the final scene showing a live Cybermite is also a reference. The Star Trek: TNG two-parter “The Best of Both Worlds” (that's the one where Picard is absorbed by the Borg, for those of you who don't remember); actually there's a lot of Borg references, e.g. the Cybermen being vulnerable to each weapon only for a brief period. Poltergeist (“They're he-eere!”). The Cyberiad was a book of satirical and allegorical short stories by Stanislaw Lem, set in a universe populated by robots. “Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways” (act of self-sacrifice needed to destroy the evil alien enemy). There are allusions to the Anglo-Russian imperial rivalry popularly known as the Great Game, or the Tournament of Shadows, which would suggest that there's a theme of two empires, mirroring each other, in competition, but it only really works as a theme rather than contributing any major subtext to the story.

Evil Household Objects: None, but there's an evil theme park.

Doctor Who!: “Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor!”

Outfits!: The Doctor's Borg-like facial implants.

Small Child!: Angie and Artie.

Murray Gold's Top Ten: Exaggeratedly bombastic orchestral score during the battle.

Clara Dies Due To: Nothing, but after the annoyingly arch way she acts this episode, most sane people are wishing she would.

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

Run, you clever boy, and remember”: Nope.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: Warwick Davies is seriously flavour of the month right now.

Continuity Frakup of the Week: Last week, Angie was so eager for a time and space adventure that she strongarmed/blackmailed Clara into taking her into the Tardis; this week she's sulky and bored. I know teenagers are famous for their mood swings, but seriously. Also, what the hell age is Angie supposed to be? She looks about twelve, but acts about seven. “You are full of surprises”, Clara says to Angie (cough). “The Pandorica Opens” showed that Cybermen can indeed operate on a basic level without organic parts, so why has the Doctor forgotten it this quickly? The fool's mate is one of the first chess gambits anyone interested in the game learns, and yet Artie, who's in his school chess club, doesn't catch it. The Cybermites remake Angie's mobile phone, but that particular gun on the wall never gets fired. How did the Cybermen build a bloody great facility like that, and cybernise enough theme-park-goers for an army of that size, without anyone noticing? And why do they only make their move now? A Cyberman walks through the moat of the castle, but the rest enter the castle through the door, which means they crossed the bridge instead. If only the Cybermen's brains are human, why do they need people for “spare parts”? Clara's skirt isn't tight.

This is not a frakking drawbridge, people.
Other Frakups Special To This Week: Are the people of the Empire, for whom space travel is a normal boring part of everyday life, really going to be that thrilled by a “spacey zoomer” anti-gravity ride? Why does the Emperor think it's a fun idea to go to an abandoned theme park housing a punishment battalion of soldiers, and sit around in the bottom of a chess-playing automaton hoping for someone to come along and trade a sandwich for a game? “Punishment platoons” were generally put on the front line to absolve their crimes through blood (and/or conveniently get killed), rather than being put in the rear where they won't do any harm. The bridge in front of the castle isn't a drawbridge, so can't be drawn up (corollary frakup: 
the Cyberman walks into the moat rather than cross the bridge). It's been a thousand years since the last defeat of the Cybermen, which should make their return the equivalent of a party of Norman longships turning up in the English Channel, but the military seem unsurprised and even apparently have standard tactics in place for fighting them. Why do the Cybermen only do the bullet-time thing once, as it would have been pretty useful when storming the castle? Why does Clara say she can see nothing in that particular sector of space when there's a huge nebula there? That's an explosion, not an implosion.

Nostalgia UK: Fantasy Victoriana, with empires and shillings and waxworks.

Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Foregone conclusion again. I'm also betting we'll see cosplayers with Cybernetic face implants one way or the other, regardless of whether they're official or not.

Monday, June 03, 2013

The Repeated Meme: Frying Tonight!

The Crimson Horror
(with thanks to Matthew Kilburn)

Hooters! And Honkers!
Central Premise Recycled From: The Avengers (no, not the movie about the superheroes, the TV series about a team of posh British investigators, one in a catsuit, who infiltrate communities of crackpots determined to rule the world)
Moffat Autorecycling: This isn't a Doctor Who story, it's a Madame Vastra Investigates story which guest-stars Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman among all the Hooters and Honkers. If this were the Davies Era, they'd have their own spinoff by now. There be Moppets, and a quick reference to Clara's Victorian alter-ego.

Recycling Other People: “The Ark in Space” (the eye retaining the image of the last thing it sees);Ghost Light”; “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” (Utopian villain who is selecting the brightest and best to take to a new Golden Age on Earth); “Talons of Weng Chiang” (anybody surprised?); Frankenstein and its various sequels/remakes; comedy coroners feature in a lot of Britsploitation horror films, such as The Blood Beast Terror and Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde; The Road to Wellville; Carry On Screaming; Tipping the Velvet (Rachel Stirling in a story of aristocratic lesbians and their working-class lovers); Bram Stoker's Dracula (ironic use of period colour film effects); The Man Who Was Thursday; Total Recall (Mr Sweet's symbiotic relationship with Mrs Gillyflower); The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town (Mr Tuesday's fainting fits). “Rose” (time traveler is busted through compilation of badly-photoshopped historical photos).

Evil Household Objects: Salt-shakers.

Doctor Who!: Nope.

Outfits!: The Doctor goes the full Victorian.

Small Child!: Victorian urchin, plus the return of the Maitlands.

Murray Gold's Top Ten: Tinkly-piano comedy Victorian music as the investigators go North.

Clara Dies Due To: Not exactly, but she does get put in suspended animation by Mrs Gillyflower.

Clara's Job of the Week: Waxwork.

Run, you clever boy, and remember”: Nope.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: Thomas Thomas, the giver of accurate directions (assuming future generations forget the TomTom satnav brand). Pausing the recording to view the handbills on the walls yields a lot of entertaining in-jokes for fans of Doctor Who and/or Hammer Horror: a circus featuring “Talking dogs, performing rats and DASTARDLY DONNA”, while another promises “Scarred Sam's weird and wonderful Human Waxwork”.

Continuity Frakup of the Week: OK, this is actually just a rant about the repeated gag of Thursday fainting every time he sees Strax. Considering the lack of plastic surgery and other modern medical techniques available in the Victorian era, there would have been enough strange facial dysmorphia about that Strax would not stand out as particularly hideous, so the fainting just looks silly. Rant part II: who the hell puts a secondary firing mechanism in the tower that's holding the rocket? Triggering it ought to burn up anyone in the tower at the time, events of the story to the contrary notwithstanding.

Nostalgia UK: Sixties horror films and mystery series.
Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Still rooting for a dress-up Madame Vastra and catsuit-wearing Action Jenny, though Mr Sweet, in the form of a stick-on cosplay item or a Pez dispenser, is also crying out to take physical form.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Repeated Meme: It's Cold Outside, There's No Kind of Atmosphere

Journey to the Centre of the Tardis
(with thanks to Daniel Fox)
Central Premise Recycled From: “The Mind Robber”, “The Edge of Destruction”, and “The Doctor's Wife”, without the excitement.

Moffat Autorecycling: Timey-wimey stuff going on inside a living Tardis with whom the Doctor has a special relationship; Clara is somehow magic; she is also “feisty”; big reset button which nonetheless allows people to learn valuable lessons from the events they didn't experience. The Doctor's crib, and Amy's handmade Tardis, are in the storage areas as well as the Seventh Doctor's first-season umbrella. Magic libraries.

Recycling Other People: The Van Baalen Brothers are like an unfunny version of the Red Dwarf crew; in fact, in the episode "Out of Time", Lister becomes convinced he's an android and does menial tasks. Tricky's human aspects are initially passed off as him being a skinjob android, as in Terminator and the unmade second season of Caprica. The Tardis apparently contains, as well a swimming pool, something closely resembling the giant telescope from “Tooth and Claw”. “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” also featured a ship where the control rooms look like landscapes rather than architecture. The History of the Time War (no doubt written by Faction Paradox). A maze which continually reconfigures itself ("The Horns of Nimon"). “Death to the Daleks” involved a city which defended itself with artificial “antibodies”, and “Alien Bodies” featured defense systems derived from the attackers' own DNA. “Father's Day” (time consciously trying to reassert a particular timeline).

Evil Household Objects: The Doctor's “architectural reconfiguration system” is basically a really pretty 3-D printer.

Doctor Who!: Clara, reading his name in the History of the Time War, says “So that's who!”

Outfits!: Nothing this week, so I'll just say, where the hell did Clara get the idea that the red frock was at all flattering? Has she been taking fashion tips from Mad Men?

Small Child!: None.

Murray Gold's Top Ten: Mad props for musically referencing the Red Dwarf theme in the opening scenes of the Van Baalen Brothers' ship.

Clara Dies Due To: Being turned into some sort of “Fires of Pompeii” ash creature.

Clara's Job of the Week: Enigma.

Run, you clever boy, and remember”: Not spoken; however, through seeing the writing on Clara's hand, the Doctor is induced to remember, and runs.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: Ashley Waters, who plays Gregor, is apparently some sort of hip-hop artist.

Continuity Frakup of the Week: There must, by implication, be three iterations of events: the first, where the grenade is not thrown through the rift, and the Doctor, Clara and the brothers all die in the Eye of Harmony room; the second, where the grenade is thrown through the rift but the Doctor fails to grasp the significance; and the third, where he does figure it out and hits the Big Friendly Button. However, if everyone dies in the first iteration of the timeline, who threw the grenade through the rift in the second?

Nostalgia UK: Not apart from the Red Dwarf stuff mentioned above.

Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Another fairly toy-free week, though I suppose we might get some of those ash-zombies (the fused-bodies one would be best).

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Repeated Meme: The Polystyrene Tape


Central Premise Recycled From: The Stone Tape.

Moffat Autorecycling: Alien that 's Not Bad, Just Misunderstood. Girl caught in timey-wimey phenomenon, people living at different speeds, “everybody lives!” type ending, Scottishness.

Recycling Other People: Multiple references to Quatermass, for reasons to be detailed below. Sapphire and Steel, that episode of Sarah Jane Adventures which also rips off The Stone Tape, The Omega Factor (creepy psychic phenomena in Scotland). “Battlefield” (chalk circle). The Haunting. “The End of the World”. “Planet of the Spiders” (well, not much, but that damned Metebelis Crystal has had so much press it has to be mentioned). That bit in “The Robots of Death” where the Doctor explains a complicated space-time phenomenon using a pair of boxes of different sizes, as here where he explains pocket universes using a pair of balloons of different colours. “The Parting of the Ways”.

Evil Household Objects: Just the usual psychic-phenomena stuff like candles that blow out, temperatures that drop, and so on.

Doctor Who!: Sort of: “Doctor What?” “If you like”

Outfits!: The Doctor just had to remind us that “The Satan Pit” exists, didn't he?

Small Child!: Mercifully, no.

Murray Gold's Top Ten: Shrilling minor-key horror-film incidentals this week.

Clara Dies Due To: Nothing, but she does get to see her own doppelganger.

Clara's Job of the Week: Holder of candelabras.

Run, you clever boy, and remember”: Again, no.

Topical Reference to Puzzle Future Generations: Ghostbusters, possibly.

Continuity Frakup of the Week: Others have pointed it out, but it's worth repeating that Professor Palmer is way too young for his backstory; the actor is 49, meaning he'd've been 19 in 1944, making him rather young for covert ops. The explanation is allegedly that the writer had wanted to make the character Professor Quatermass and set the story in the Fifties, but that would have raised an equal number of continuity issues (Nigel Kneale's own idea of the character's war record was rather more ambiguous and less heroic, and Quatermass, leaving aside the fact that he was married and father of a grown daughter in the 1950s, was never one to fancy younger women). Also, who took the photo of the Doctor that Palmer is developing?

Nostalgia UK: And now we're in the Seventies, so we get to feast our eyes on lots of pretty earth-tone knitwear, wallpaper, shearling coats and Cadbury's tins, plus lovely old tech like Westclox alarm clocks and Kodak slide projectors.

Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Nothing toy-worthy this week; for once I'm actually glad Character Options don't go in for cosplay accessories, or they'd probably give us a blue crystal headband.