azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 08:48am on 28/09/2007 under
I didn't like this as much as I thought I was going to at the beginning. I had high hopes after the opening scenes. The Grange Hill-style comprehensive school made me instantly nostalgic, and ASH was magnificently creepy - he had a kind of over the top understatedness, if that makes sense, and exuded menace from every pore. And it was an episode that dealt with themes that I find fascinating - growing older, loss, the crucial difference that being able to say goodbye makes. Having Sarah Jane crop up was a stroke of sheer genius. When has any TV show (or film) EVER been able to use the same actress to play her older and her younger self? (without resorting to stupid make-up, I mean). It caught the horror and humilation and pathos that is aging with a cruelty that no amount of faking could ever manage. If I'd been the director, I'd have been tempted to include a flashback, because for those viewers who can remember SJ from the first time around (I have only the vaguest of memories myself, but I do remember her) the impact is visceral, a real gut punch. It gave the Doctor's speech about why he has to leave his Companions a genuine emotional force, because yes, if you were forever young, would you want to sit around watching the people you loved crumble and fade? But having been given this gift of an opportunity they rather wasted it by giving so much time to Rose and SJ indulging in hissy fits, which I honestly thought didn't ring true. The problem they have is with the Doctor, not each other - yes, it must be horrible for SJ to finally see the Doctor again, only to find he's hooked up with a blonde babe, and I can buy that it comes as a terrible shock to Rose to learn that she's only the latest in a long line of Companions. But what hits both of them hardest is that the Doctor leaves. It's not the new Companion that hurts SJ, it's the fact that he never came back to find her. And it's not that Rose sees SJ as a threat, it's that she sees in her her own future. Reducing that to a female pissing contest did the emotional through-line a major disservice.

I'm not sure I'm pleased about having Mickey on board. He gets some great lines, but the actor doesn't quite have the skill to get the most out of them. And he seems a very one-note character.

And, finally, I can't tell you how pissed off I was that K9 wasn't dead. If I'm going to be subjected to that kind of blatant tear-jerking, then I bloody well want it to have been for something, and not just a cheap wallow. Especially in the context of an episode that really didn't pull any punches as far as Sarah Jane was concerned. We're human. Growing old, losing people we love, dying ourselves - it's all part of the deal. And hanging out with the Doctor is the best thing that ever happened to her, but it came at a terrible price. It would have been much more in keeping with those themes if, when he finally does return, it's to take away the only thing she has left that reminds her of him. So that we (and she) wonder if the price of his return wasn't too high.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 07:55am on 26/09/2007 under
I've now seen Gridlock. Cue music:

New York, New York,
It's a wonderful town!
The Bronx is up but the Battery's down!
The people ride in a hole in the ground!
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town.


On the plus side, this was a magnificently inventive, surreal episode in places. I loved all those idiosyncratic individuals in their isolated cars (strongly reminiscent of hi-tech VW camper vans), driving for years and years to get to the next motorway junction. My favourite was the bloke in the bowler hat, but really, all the cameos were terrific. The Doctor jumping from one little "household" to the next, opening the cars like sardine tins, was brilliantly silly. I take it the cat thing was explained in the New Earth episode? I could have done without the "You have your faith and I have the Doctor" bit, because, well, yuck. The singing hymns in their motionless cars, surrounded by endless miles of jammed traffic was rather moving, though. Having been raised on Blakes 7, I initially assumed the government was still intact and was deliberately feeding the people in the fast lane to the monsters in exchange for the power to keep the city running, so the revelation that they were dead rather than corrupt was a bit of a damp squib.

On the minus side, the sentiment - oh God, the sentiment. I am as susceptible to a stoic rendition of Abide With Me in the face of grief as the next ex-Anglican, but it went on for so long that I found myself wondering why these people were singing it at all, instead of happy songs of praise and rejoicing for their deliverance (maybe they'd realized by now that their city no longer had a power source, and instead of leading comfortable lives with everything provided for them, they now had to get off their backsides and struggle so survive - human nature being what it is, I bet that made them pretty damn miserable. In fact, the Doctor-Is-Our-Hero attitude probably lasted all of 24 hours before people were saying "It was better in the old days, protein pills tasted much better than this organic muck, and if the Doctor could rip open the undercity why can't he make the trains run on time?" ). Anyway, the point of all this is to say that I could have done without the burnt orange sky and the silver leaves and the general wallowing in angst and that an ounce of subtlety would have gone a lot further. I found, for instance, The Face of Beau's (how do you spell that anyway? Bo? Bow? Boh? Since I deduce from the finale that it's Captain Jack - whose head has finally swollen to match his ego - I shall stick with Beau) formal address "You are not alone, Time Lord" far more moving than all the laid-on-with-a-trowel stuff about not wanting to go home.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 06:35am on 24/09/2007 under
Since I'm terrible at deferring gratification, and always want to eat up my pudding before proceeding to the greens, I started my next round of New Who viewing with The Girl in the Fireplace. And I looked upon it and saw that it was good, albeit marred by a couple of significant flaws. Firstly, the actress playing Madame de P wasn't quite up to snuff - she was good, and certainly brought across Reinette's sexuality and strength of character, but sometimes she had trouble with the formality of the lines. And in the moments where I was likely to cringe anyway (especially the "lonely little boy" lines) she simply couldn't add enough layers to sell it to me. On the other hand, it's the series itself that has set the acting bar so high, because most of the time these secondary roles are filled with absolutely outstanding performances. Normally you don't get a chance to distinguish between "excellent" and "good enough".

My other irritations were plot-related. The Doctor has a Tardis; why can he not simply jump back a couple of years and meet Reinette again? I got that he couldn't use it during the fight with the droids because he was "part of events" (although as hand-waving goes, I prefer "ball of timey-wimey stuff" explanations to pseudo-philosophical ones), but once the fight was over and the ship was disconnected from France, why was there still a problem? Also, if the fireplace was off-line (and hence the time door could survive), why was Reinette able to call for help through it? She heard her own voice on the ship coming from a microphone attached to that very portal.

On the plus side, there was loads of absolutely brilliant dialogue ("I didn't want to say magic door", "I snogged Madame de P", "They always go wandering off", "He called her Cleo", etc etc), the scenes set in France were stunning, there was a HORSE and it jumped through a window pane (I am going to love any episode that has a horse shattering glass). The scene where he comes into the little girl's bedroom and tackles the monster under the bed is a perfect gem. And the Doctor is right, the droids were absolutely beautiful.

And, in an observation of pure shallowness, David Tennant looks much better with short hair.

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