For a change this week, I thought I'd make notes during the episode and then transcribe them with minimal tidying-up or comment below. It's not quite a liveblog:

Hidden list )

Also published at
No essay from me this week, but negatives first. There aren't many of them, and are largely personal in that there's always an awkwardness to me in the Doctor revelling in pop culture or being a rock musician, and yet here I can see it was the right choice. I'm not sure where the Doctor's audience in 1138 went either...

Otherwise, superlatives. Steven Moffat and company projected their most coherent vision of the Doctor Who universe so far; though I did find myself wondering if the Shadow Architect's hairdresser (probably a Judoon, come to think of it) had been killed in action since The Stolen Earth. The Maldovarium is a sorrier place for the loss of Dorium. Clara's confidence as schoolteacher and UNIT's contact radiated and Jenna Coleman's authority in the part was more than a match for Michelle Gomez's calculating tricksiness. The traps within traps were sprung and the Daleks depicted as more detached from human or Gallifreyan values while justifying their fond parent's description of them as children. Barry Norman's comparison of fifty years ago, that they are devices through which children imagine killing grown-ups, was made plain here; as was the realisation most fans have had at some time, that the Daleks are tanks (and I'll link to John Wilson's article on the subject as soon as I've identified the relevant issue of Tides of Time - [ETA it's issue 23, but I can't manage the link at present - search for "Tides 23" at for the pdf]). Taking up the convincingly-performed but sidestepped 'Do I have the right?' speech from Genesis of the Daleks is a dangerous exercise and we'll only find how well it works next week. Otherwise, a sense of the programme trying something new and Peter Capaldi's most moving and enthralling performance in the role.

Also posted at The Event Library
...The Avengers and Doctor Who keeping me company while I work.

The Avengers: Man With Two Shadows
First shown 12 October 1963 )

Doctor Who: The Last Adventure
Released 17 August 2015, so this review's content probably deserves a spoiler warning )
I seem to be reviewing for the Doctor Who News Page again, despite having said I wouldn't until another piece was done for another publication - let alone the demands of work. Here is something on Colin Brockhurst's fan art work, Changing the Face of Doctor Who - an alternative look at Doctor Who history, from Geoffrey Bayldon to Rik Mayall.
Sadly this report is not what was expected, as instead of being at Heathrow, I am elsewhere in London recovering from a bout of ill health overnight. Everything seems to be going well from what I can gather on Twitter; and I'm sorry to have missed the discussion on whether history is a science, with relation to Doctor Who, reminding me of studying the Annalistes as a first-year undergraduate.
Technology problems mean that this is being written on a phone rather than a laptop... But it's all wonderful, despite my not being able to get into a panel this evening on the fantasy of white history - I've come across a black West Indian Anglican clergyman in Bath and Wells diocese in the 1690s and would have liked to have thrown him into the mix. Instead, I attended a Star Trek novels panel, which was informative and fun though I'm not familiar with very many of the characters post-TNG so didn't get all the Garak jokes. Earlier, the Doctor Who panels were huge successes, particularly that on transhumanism where I think every seat was filled, and also the earlier session on Peter Capaldi's Doctor, or Lord Peter as two of the panellists chose to call him... The historical movies panel was good, too, with much to reflect on about what a historical film is and how 'period' drama can be read, but presented in a way which could in no way be considered dry... Oh, and I took photographs for some witches.

Tomorrow, much more including a panel which I've been specifically asked go attend...
I'm again commuting into Nine Worlds at Heathrow from west London, which makes me a sort of three-day visitor rather than a fully immersed attendee, but one still feels caught up in everything even if one isn't in costume, except perhaps as oneself. I've encountered several friends from several times and corners of my life, of course... Some chatty Doctor Who panels and a Joss Whedon talk have been attended as well as the expression of genius that was Star Trek Pictionary. Fatigue led me to abandon a further panel and head east via the petrol station, the car having been employed as a faster (if not cheaper) way of getting to Heathrow than the Piccadilly Line.
sir_guinglain: (Default)
( Jul. 16th, 2015 11:30 pm)
I intend to complete the BBC charter review questionnaire, but was struck by how little I really know about the principles guiding (or purporting to guide) the BBC and how they have changed over time. The BBC Trust website maintains a handy archive of past and present BBC charters to chart this process and help provide some (but my no means all) of the answers to the (admittedly largely rhetorical) questions raised in the media in the last few days.

As readers might have seen elsewhere, I approved of this letter to The Guardian from David Hendy.
sir_guinglain: (Default)
( Jul. 1st, 2015 04:16 pm)
The heat in London is not exaggerated. I've never walked around in an atmosphere so warm. It's cooler indoors, and I'm working today at J's flat, with the windows open and curtains closed. There are even more emergency services sirens going than usual, potentially through heat-related incidents. I am waiting for the thunderstorms to reach us; the rain at least will be a relief.
"be ashured I shall give my consent to mary to no man till I be tuenty yiers of ag, and then I hop in God I shall not be in great danger of bearing bairns. I got word from Dr Waderburn that if I maried now I should haserd both my oun life and my chyld's".
--Margaret Leslie, countess of Leven in her own right, to her aunt Catherine, countess of Melville, 31 July 1673. Lady Leven was right; she was forced by her tutor (guardian) the earl of Rothes to marry his nephew, and died the next year soon after the birth of a child who did not survive. See Scots Peerage, vol. 5, p. 380.

(posted elsewhere yesterday; apologies for the repetition)
sir_guinglain: (Spock_annual1975)
( May. 30th, 2015 02:22 am)
Yes, I should have gone to bed, but I caught up with Star Trek - Into Darkness instead. Several visually impressive moments, but the cast were underused and there isn't as much mileage in immature boy Kirk as they seem to think. I am not a Star Trek expert, but I had the feeling that it didn't mirror the beats of The Wrath of Khan as well as it seemed to believe; and it wore its legacy too heavily too. There were also far too many fisticuffs, and little sense of lessons learned on the part of people or institutions - but that is the mode of action films in our time, I suppose.
As alluded to earlier... Richard Marson's biography of Verity Lambert, first producer of Doctor Who and guiding force behind much, much else, reviewed by me at The St James's Evening Post.
sir_guinglain: (Default)
( Apr. 12th, 2015 09:16 pm)
So much for evading a social life on the grounds that I had a conference paper to write. The conference paper is not yet begun; a day off tomorrow, I think, to begin it. Instead, some recycling has been done and I've almost finished Richard Marson's biography of Verity Lambert; a short review might appear here or elsewhere at some point.
sir_guinglain: (Eccleston)
( Mar. 26th, 2015 07:30 pm)
A few links to mark the tenth anniversary of twenty-first century Doctor Who:

My post of ten years ago

Quoted on another site of mine

Trip of a lifetime by fanzine: Tides of Time issues 30 and 31, linked here

Too busy to add more about the circumstances in which I watched the episode, the later phone calls that evening, the overnight ratings and the realisation that we were losing Christopher Eccleston almost immediately and that there had been a very good reason for the introduction to Doctor Who scheduled earlier that Saturday evening to have been narrated by David Tennant...
Election 2015: Your complete guide to predictions about Scotland and the SNP
Depressing stuff for all manner of reasons, and not necessarily the obvious ones.

Vince Cable says LibDem-SNP deal is inconceivable
Better to lock your enemy into an agreement, I'd have thought, other than antagonise probably half if not more of the Scottish electorate.

Scotland's deficit is now at the heart of the general election fight
Or it might be. My reading of SNP policy beneath the anti-austerity headlines is much as Magnus Gardham writes here.

Last week, Kenneth Baker called for a Tory-Labour coalition to stop the end of the United Kingdom
Firstly, that's really the kingdom of Great Britain (in its parliamentary aspect)[1] Baker supposedly wants to save (though it has little institutional trace beyond legislation passed between 1707 and 1800, unlike Scotland, England-and-Wales, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and variations of the above) as one of the constituent elements of the United Kingdom, not the end of the United Kingdom itself which would presumably continue with smaller component parts. I suspect that a Tory-Labour coalition, facing an SNP with the largest possible share of Scottish seats envisaged by the first link in this post, might just confirm SNP voters' suspicion of the Anglocentricity of Labour and the Conservatives and confirm the sort of proprietorship of 'Tory shires' assumed as natural by John Major in this speech last week. Proportional representation can't come soon enough to the United Kingdom parliament, and it might save the broad but in many crucial parts very thin bases of the Conservative and Labour parties and transform them into more effective advocates of their constituencies; but we seem further away from it than ever.

SNP will not contest Berwick election seat
Apologies for any overenthusiastic advertising Johnston Press foist upon readers if they follow this link. Announced back in December, and pity in a way, as Christine Grahame's appearance ("Oh, we won't stop being British...") on BBC North East [England] and Cumbria's pre-referendum special illustrated how complicated the SNP and broader Yes campaign's approach to the political relationships of the people of these islands can or could be. I'm glad as a near-contemporary of mine from my school is inheriting the defence of the seat from the retiring MP and she has a hard fight which an SNP candidate in Berwick upon Tweed (a constituency which covers a larger slice of Northumberland than its name suggests) would make harder.

[1] Interesting point. In the period 1603-1707, Scottish and English commentators alike wrote of the king or queen of Great Britain (having stopped James VI and I declaring himself Caesar and British Emperor) and there were periods in the seventeenth century, particularly when monarchical power was at whatever zeniths it could reach, that the kingdom of Great Britain seemed a real political entity with an emerging class of Scoto-English courtier administrators. The Union came about in part because after the revolutions of 1688-90 the Scottish parliament and elite found it had little leverage on royal foreign policy, in contrast to the parliament of England, and the political nation (more regularly organised and in some senses broader than the English) was susceptible to foolhardy exercises like the Darien venture, which came across to the more cosmopolitan part of the elites as a doomed exercise in saying 'Let's have a war with Spain and embarrass the king and his English friends'[2] but which could easily be interpreted in Scotland as an example of England repressing Scottish imperial aspirations.

[2] Some of what I've termed the cosmopolitan elite thought this was a very good idea, of course, especially if they were called Hamilton. Or so it sometimes appears; but Scottish political alliances were complicated, shifted often, and were not to be taken for granted, especially by remote Londoners. A lesson for the present.

ETA A characteristically cleverly boorish Salmond column reacting just as I'd expect him to the Kenneth Baker proposal - but even with votes his party enjoys the SNP is not Scotland, just as Margaret Thatcher forgot (if she ever knew) that the Conservative Party did not equal England which was not the same as Britain or the United Kingdom. However, the move present in some SNP utterances in recent months to adopt a pan-British agenda, as leaders of an insurgency against 'Westminster', is present in the column and shows that this party has learned some of the lessons Conservative and Labour seem never to have known, and which the Liberal Democrats appear to be forgetting.
In seventeenth-century Britain a change from one denomination to another threatened not just eternal damnation but damage to one's material condition in the present. This was especially true in Scotland where the identity of the Scottish Church was more contested than it was in England and the elite arguably broader and more fissured. In 1688 Walter Ogilvy, Lord Deskford, eldest son and heir of James Ogilvy, third earl of Findlater, converted to Catholicism from the (then episcopal) Church of Scotland. This is how his father warned his younger son James (later first earl of Seafield and eventually fourth earl of Findlater) about the danger his eldest son posssessed, and how they needed to rapidly exclude him from inheriting the family estates:

I cannot but desier you to remmeber to consult your bussines of the convayence of my esteat in your person; for although Walter be nou in my house, yett be his still frequenting the Popish chappell and continouing in odd and most unacountable actions, ther can be no good expected of him so ye need to be the mor circumspect in garding your selfe against his evell.

---The Correspondence of James First Earl of Seafield, pp 42-43

(Charles II appears in the userpic in the absence of his brother James VII and II, then reigning.)
Among the many projects displaced by my actually obtaining regular employment was the management of my two hard disc recorders, particularly the creaky secondhand one which lives in my bedroom under my 1980s Rediffusion portable. I've been catching up this evening, and as a result I'm currently being transported back to 23 November 2013 and listening to that morning's Radio 2 Graham Norton show live (with prerecorded inserts - and of course, to be technical, lots of old records) from the Doctor Who Celebration at ExCel. There are some arch inserts - the first traffic report ends with the information that traffic has cleared around Metebelis Three after a rush for blue crystals - and after words with Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, a defensively self-deprecating Steven Moffat and superfan costume and prop exhibition curator Andrew Beech, Colin Baker has just trotted out his ancient but understandable resentment towards Michael Grade, and all has been interspersed with as much music actually played on Doctor Who as possible. It was a frenetic and hyperbolic few days, or rather weeks, barely imaginable ten or twenty years earlier, and for all Graham makes fun of the detail of Doctor Who lore he has to read out, it seems to have judged its tone more carefully than the dire Afterparty which went out later on BBC Three, about the only good thing in it being the participation of Jackie Lane.

There is also a distressing amount of paper on my study floor, three days after I submitted my tax return, which accounts for most of it...
The userpic associated with this post is from a Doctor Who comic strip drawn by Gerry Haylock for TV Action, and Countdown to TV Action by Steve Holland tells the story of this comic and its first incarnation Countdown. Unexpected characters in its tale are Rupert Murdoch (whose role in the decline and demise of TV21 I had not known) and John Selwyn Gummer; the enterprise seemed based on poor market research, nostalgia for happy working conditions at former employers (especially the pre-Murdoch TV [Century] 21) and a publisher which was focused on editorial, advertising and circulation being dealt with by its parent who commandeered pages as required. Good to see a picture of Polly Perkins House, the office of Polystyle Publications for most of the 1970s, too - I'd wondered where it was for years, and had been misled by its 'Paddington Green' address, because strictly speaking it isn't there. Holland specialises in the indexing of British comics and there are full content listings and many, many reproductions of art, though apart from the cover it's in black and white. Nevertheless it's a valuable addition to Paul Scoones's The Comic Strip Companion, the first volume of which looks at Doctor Who in the pages of TV Comic, Countdown and TV Action, a must for historians of the creations of Gerry Anderson (whose characters and series were the original lead features of Countdown) a strong source of information about the careers of several British comic professionals and the comics industry in the early 1970s, though being me I have to note that the common ownership of Polystyle and TV Publications (from whom Polystyle 'bought' TV Comic, Playland and Pippin in 1968) isn't picked up, nor the nature of Independent Television Publications (a subsidiary of the ITV companies acting together under the ITA's supervision) and its acquisition of TV Times from TV Publications in 1968 quite understood. The shake-up of the youth market from ITP's Look-In is a constant presence and one Polystyle never quite dealt with - Look-In relied on more than constant promotion on ITV to help it, but its rivals could never get past that fact, it seems.
sir_guinglain: (Default)
( Jan. 1st, 2015 01:36 am)
...surely we were worrying about the Millennium Bug only yesterday?

Happy New Year, all.


sir_guinglain: (Default)


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