Archive for ‘Television’

07/05/2014

Hey, I think we all forgot one Doctor!

I’m back, well sort of, from now on I’ll be posting one glorious article a week. The sheer number of new subscriptions I’ve received in the past few months, along with how healthy my reader numbers are, have shown me that I’m probably not finished with this yet; or any time soon. “But why only one article a week?” I imagine you crying out. Well I’m short of time these days. At the moment I have a novel to rewrite, a webcomic to update (hopefully more regularly), two video blogs which I am still trying to develop, as well as learn the skills I need to make them happen…oh and I am in the middle of the second worst migraine cluster of my life. Two months, and so far no let up! Go me!

Anyway, on with the show.

So last week (while huddled in a dark room while I tried to ignore how my brains felt like they had decided to leave my body through every pore in my head) I was trying to cheer myself up by rewatching the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. How awesome was John Hurt as The Warrior Doctor by the way? So at the end of the episode we have that wonderful moment when all 13 Doctors, including a picturesque shot of Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows, fly to the rescue of a well and truly boned Gallifrey. It’s an amazing moment, 50 years in the making, a flawless piece of science fiction television; but something felt off to me. A question became embedded in my mind.

Shouldn’t there be 14 of them?

Hartnell…check.

Troughton…check.

Pertwee…check.

Baker…double check.

Davison…check.

Baker 2…unfortunately check.

McCoy…delightfully check.

McGann…meh-check.

Eccleston…ears and all-check.

Tenant…check.

Smith…yup there he is.

Oh and here’s William Hurt.

And hey look at those eyebrows controlling Mr. Capaldi.

So yeah 13…Where’s Peter Cushing?!

“What?!” I imagine you crying in Karen Gillian’s velvety voice.

You see in 1965 and again in 1966 Peter Cushing played The Doctor in a pair of full length feature films. I remember these two films more clearly from my childhood than anything else “Who”. So clearly in fact that when I would finally see the television version of the Doctor Cushing was playing I would find myself rather put off at  first. But only at first.

Cushing was recreating the part played by William Hartnell. The older, somewhat bumbling, rambling, wise, but often foolish first Doctor. The first of the two movies was in fact a direct retelling of the very first Dalek adventure. And to my eyes it was a very good retelling. I can, and have, watched both versions back to back, and despite the differences between the two versions find myself equally satisfied by both.

The second movie was Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD. This one was based loosely on the 10th Who adventure “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.”

Visually they’re pretty ordinary science fiction movies of the 60’s. The special effects are…not all that special. The music is okay. The acting, with the exception of Cushing himself, is passable. But the story’s make up for all that by the simple fact that they are genuinely interesting. In other words it’s classic Doctor Who through, and through.

And yet, these movies are largely ignored by Who fans.

Well I’m a Who fan. Sylvester McCoy is my Doctor. Ace is my companion. I was there when he broke the curse of Fenric, when he recovered the Silver Nemesis. I saw as she was carefully moulded in to something more than merely another human companion; a future Time Lord? The first Human Time Lord? We’ll never know, their stories were cut off mid-stream, before they could become a cultural touchstone like Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.

That’s how I see those two Cushing movies. An attempt to create a Doctor for the big screen, a companion piece to the television series. An alternative universe of adventures. A failed great experiment. But does that mean that his Who should be ignored, then forgotten?

Fuck No!

Cushing, to my eyes at least, sparkled as The Doctor. Different, but still equal to the great William Hartnell. A Doctor equal to all those who followed, more than an equal to Colin Baker…seriously does anyone like his version?

So here I am, left wondering, if the Cushing version had cracked America would we have a vast sea of Who movies to rival Bond, or Godzilla?

What if he has been so taken with the character to have supplanted Troughton? Would we ever have had the whistle playing jester version?

Is there any way that the movies can be seen as canon? Another universe, like Y-Space? Or Roses alternative happy ever after Earth?

Regardless the Who fandom do themselves, and the franchise they so love a disservice by ignoring the Cushing movies. And perhaps it’s time for a rediscovery of them, and to imagine a different Who that might have been.

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02/09/2013

Why I love the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek universe.

Look, let’s face it, while the Original Star Trek Universe has given us all decades of entertainment, a lot of laughs, a few tears, it’s kind of been written into a cul-de-sac. And by that I mean, they were seriously considering a series based around Worf. Worf people. You know, the guy who gets his ass kicked when they writers needed to show that someone was tough enough to actually bother fearing. (Yeah, yeah, I know he was frikkin’ awesome in Deep Space Nine, but still…no, just no) Besides with the launch of a new Trek universe the original is probably, at the very least from a studio point of view, dead as a doornail.

But where does that leave us?

Well actually it leaves us with an entirely blank slate. As of this moment the only thing the new Trek-‘verse has in common with the original is a handful of characters. That’s it, seriously. Don’t believe me, well consider the following points.

Kirk is captain of the Enterprise 10 years too early.

Christopher Pike is her captain for probably, allowing for crew assembly and equipping time, less than a year. Instead of his original five years, which are alluded to as being almost as legendary as Kirk’s two stints as her captain on five-year missions.

Robert April…is nowhere to be seen. Hang on a second. Robert April is nowhere to be seen? Hang on that can’t be right.

Ah but this is where we get to my utterly blank slate theory. Old Spock came back in time, created a parallel universe, and in so doing changed everything. He’s indirectly responsible for the destruction of Vulcan, as well as the almost destruction of Earth. He is directly responsible for bringing in to being new technologies and new concepts (the trans-warp transporter). Look reduced to brass-tacks he’s responsible for the destruction of the entire known future history of his universe.

He brought about a universe where George Kirk died thirty years too early, and so all the lives he would have touched, not least his sons, are irrevocably changed.

Kirk instead of launching the mission that will meet the actual God Apollo (Well sort of a god, it’s complex), Gary Seven (Which may explain Khan being met far too early, I’ll get to this), and will serve as inspiration for hundreds of subsequent future heroes; has instead launched on what should have been Robert April’s voyage. Have you even heard of Robert April? If you’re under thirty, and weren’t a hardcore Trek fan, probably not; but then neither apparently has Abrams.

So, Kirk will probably never end up back in 1960’s Earth, never meet Gary Seven, or his cat (sort of, again, it’s complex) Isis. So it’s possible that Gary Seven will, for all his extra-terrestrial technological and training advantages, die on that particular mission. Which (if you’ve read the Eugenics War novels) means that Khan will have faced far lesser foes. Which could well mean that he escaped an Earth that was rapidly slipping from his grasp aboard the Botany Bay far later than in the original universe. Which in itself could explain why he was found so much earlier…he simply hadn’t travelled as far from Earth.

Add in the destruction of Vulcan and suddenly we very likely no longer have the characters T’Pau, T’Pring, Saavik, Tuvok, or Valeris. Why? Well, they’re all probably dead.

With the destruction almost the entire of the Federations 2nd Fleet at Vulcan in the first Abrams movie, we probably lose a huge number of Next Generation era characters. Why? Well again, and again we meet characters in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager who come from families with a legacy of Starfleet service. So, unless they were with the 1st Fleet they’re bang out of luck, possibly out of existence too.

But guess what folks? We’re just getting started because now we get to the head-wrecking time-travel stuff.

The Enterprise under Kirk is going on it’s first five year mission a decade too early. Which means it’ll likely be going a decade of exploration too close to Earth. So as I previously said, it’s likely there’ll be no trip to the 60’s, much less two of them. But with Khan well and truly on ice, will there be a Genesis planet? A battle with Captain Kruge? A Klingon Bird of Prey to use in a desperate flight back to the 1980’s in search of a Humpback…whale, not person, whale damn it!

And here we run in to another problem. Scotty gives someone the formula for Transparent Aluminium, you know kind of how Old Spock gave New Scotty his own theory of Trans-Warp Transportation…yeah, that won’t cause any problems to the timeline.

Oh and just to add salt to some canonical wounds, this might also mean no encounter with the Guardian of Forever, or at least not ’til much later in the new universes history.

And then there’s Tasha Yar and her time onboard the Enterprise C…mmmmmm Tasha Yar…*sighs*…*coughs* anyway. We know that Tasha Yar becomes another linchpin of her own universes timeline when an alternative version of her goes back in time to fight with the crew of the Enterprise C during their Thermopylae moment against the Romulans. The means she’s captured by a Romulan commander, who fathers her daughter Sela, and then kills her for trying to escape. Leaving Sela to become one of the hottes…I mean nastiest recurring villains in The Next Generation era. (and in the extended universe one of the people fighting for the Romulan Imperial throne. But yeah, only real geeks know about that…or Robert April, so moving on.)

And then there’s the Dividians in America during the lifetime of Samuel Clemens. Hmm I wonder what happens with them in the new timeline, maybe they eat Guinan. (Well that should spark some truly filthy fan-fiction.)

But what about Sisko and his jaunts to the past? Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that there’s currently no real reason for the station K-7 to exist, much less for Kirks Enterprise to wind up there with Kirk still in command in around 12 years time. Instead let’s ask ourselves is there even a Sisko to go back, and fanboy all over Kirk? We’re assuming he exists in the later timeline here. But with the changes Old Spock has created is there even going to be an Enterprise D? Will its crew who are really, truly unlikely to include any familiar faces, be similar enough to the original version to push Q’s buttons the same way, meet the Borg, and trigger the battle which leads to Sisko being in command of Deep Space Nine when the Wormhole is found? Or instead, assuming he exists in the future of this new universes timeline, will he instead be a starship captain of little note.; thereby saving the Alpha and Beta quadrants from the ravages of the Dominion War. And remember Sisko is also important to his universes history because he plays the part of Gabriel Bell, who admittedly he is partially responsible for the death of, and right about this time my head explodes from trying to figure out timelines and temporal paradoxes.

Will Voyager ever exist? And if it does without Tuvok (remember he’s probably dead) will it end up in the Badlands so it can find itself in the Delta Quadrant (Fuck that’s far away! They wanna go home.). This is kind of important, remember they had at least ten episodes based around time travel. Most of which must have left some changes in their wake.

Anyway.

Yeah. Where did I start with this? Oh yes the blank slate.

The original time-line was frankly awesome. It’s probably the single largest continuous storyline in television and movie history. It covers centuries. But it’s also become very restrictive. Look at the last thousand words for evidence. All of those things happened, and have to be worked around to tell new stories. And while the various series of books have done sterling work explaining and exploring a lot of the under utilised plot devices (New Frontiers take on Apollo being a brilliant example.) they were also rather hamstrung by being written into a universe with a solidly established storyline. And in fact this has only gotten worse as various writers have filled in the blanks.

Abrams universe took the Star Trek rulebook, tore it up, set it on fire, and then pissed on the ashes.

No more Vulcan.

A Kirk who is FAR too young for his position.

A Federation which is far more aware of it’s vulnerabilities.

And best of all, no known future history.

Sure there might well be a Captain Picard in the new universe. But with the changes he’s just as likely to be the producer of the finest red wines in the Alpha Quadrant. Or a history professor in the Academy. Or a street sweeper.

Nothing in the new universe is set in stone. There’s no reason that Abrams can’t take old storylines (Gary Seven being my favourite  prime example.) and run with them, giving them the time, and polish they deserve. But there’s nothing stopping him, and his successors, from ignoring them completely.

And that’s why I love both the original and Abrams universes equally. The original gives me stories I know and understand. I get the setting, and after a lifetime of watching, and reading can see most of the connecting strings between episodes, books, comics, and films. It’s a tapestry, sometimes loosely, and sometimes tightly woven. But I know it. And that’s both comforting, like an old fairytale, and in its own way exciting.

But the new universe is just pure adventure, for everyone. Everyone who watches it is experiencing it, more or less, for the first time together. It’s an opportunity for new writers, new storytellers to tell their Star Trek story on a relatively fresh and new sheet of paper. The basic rules still apply. Kirk is still, more or less, Kirk. Spock is still logical. Scotty is Simon Pegg…ummm ya *happy dance*. And the Enterprise is still the badass of the fleet. But beyond that, who knows. Who knows what changes have extended from the distant into the (future)past of this new universe. Who knows what dangers were swept away by the new timeline, only to be replaced to newer, deadlier foes.

Well someone knows, they’re sitting behind a laptop right now, wondering how to tell that story. And probably wondering how you write in lens flare.

So in memory of the original universe, Voltaire. *Riotous applause*

06/08/2013

The 12th Doctor.

Okay this needs to be said.

Thank fuck the Doctor is dead,
Long live the Doctor.

This guy, Peter Capaldi, is right for the part, even in look. The younger, and ever younger Doctors were so fucking annoying; seriously, it was rapidly reaching the stage where he was gonna have to be a fetus to be any younger. And that was beyond jarring when I personally grew up with old Doctors, the youngest in looks from my childhood was Peter Davison, and even he had an indefinable feeling of age to him. (Video has some serious swearing, but gives a good sense of why this guy may have the right stuff to fill the enormous boots that so many actors have left behind them in this part.)

Matt Smith, to me, never had the feeling of a depth of antiquity to him, a feeling which the Doctor needs to be pulled off as a character. He never felt like a lonely god, or an eternal warrior. He never felt like someone whose whole past was drenched in the blood of the innocent, and guilty alike. He never felt like a man on the run from himself.

Admittedly Matt Smith did have an impossible task presented to him as he struggled to fill the shoes vacated by David Tennent. Tennent had made the character so completely his own that even old timer Whovians, like myself, adored him. He had found a way, to somehow, convey extreme age, sorrow, and barely controlled self loathing in to every glance at the camera, every word from his lips. He was The Doctor, in a way that no-one since, perhaps, Tom Baker had been; and I say that as a hardcore fan of the Sylvester McCoy years.

So perhaps I am, somewhat, unfair to Matt; but I did stop watching his seasons after  the episode “Demons Run.” I simply couldn’t stand watching the show any more.

Now though, with an older actor, a seasoned actor, an absolutely brilliant actor taking over the TARDIS, perhaps we have a chance for Doctor Who to become more of what it used to be. Less of the warrior, more of the horrified whimsy. More desperate escapes, less blowing up entire Cyber-fleets  just to send a message. More running. Much more running.

I want to see a villain tripped in to a bottomless chasm again, using nothing more than a scarf pulled tight across the mouth of a tunnel. (The Hand of Doom)

I want to see the Doctor locked in a desperate game of mental chess again, with whole worlds as the prize. (The Curse of Fenric)

I want to see him have a relationship with his daughter, let her be a companion, and the genesis of a new, better race of TimeLords. (The Doctor’s Daughter)

I truly hope that this time we have a Doctor that can be the flawed hero of the past. Not a mass murderer who can barely live with himself, and is only a hero despite himself. A real hero,

give us a dash of John Pertwee’s eccentricity and dash,

a few ounces of Tom Baker’s fear-filled courage,

a cup of Patrick Troughton’s whimsy,

a smidgen of Colin Bakers weirdness,

a good pinch of Peter Davison’s Englishness,

a random dash of Christopher Eccelston’s anger,

Sylvester McCoy’s scathing humour,

David Tennent’s feeling of endless sorrow,

Matt Smith’s…odd fashion sense,

but most of all William Hartnell’s sense of deep age, otherworldliness and above all, mystery.

Give us the Doctor who can make us frightened of the night, the distant, the old, the new, of the whole universe again. Give us the Doctor who makes us feel unsettled, disquieted, unsure of ourselves. Make us wonder whose side he’s really on. Make us wonder if we should be glad, or sorry that he doesn’t really exist.

But most of all stop making him a FUCKING ADULT SCHOOLBOY! It’s getting old.

20/07/2013

Antibiotics suck. But Ulysses 31 is awesome.

They really do, I feel like someone’s beaten me within an inch of my life. So instead of boring you with a long rambling moany post, I have decided today to share with you one of my favourite childhood memories. The first two full episodes of Ulysses 31. Prepare yourself for the awesome.

How frikkin great is the theme tune?

Have a great weekend.

29/06/2013

Have you seen my voice? I know I left it around here somewhere.

I have the flu, aches, pains, bunged up, and somehow my voice got away from me. I feel miserable, so I’m going to watch a television classic The Day After. Miserable now, I fully expect to be absolutely bummed, while also being incredibly relieved, and happy to go with it in a couple of hours (despite the presence of the beauteous Bibi Besch). Why not join me?

I might even follow that with the classic, and original version of On The Beach.

And hey, just to round out my relief, and happiness that we actually lived through the Cold War, why not finish up with Threads?

These shouldn’t depress, they’re cultural relics of a type of war which so far we have avoided. I find them sort of uplifting because, they show an awareness of the reality of that time in the artistic communities. And an unwillingness to just be quiet about it. I honestly believe they made a difference.

Anyway have a nice Pride Weekend Dublin. And now I go to wish my sinuses would just explode, and get it over with.

15/06/2013

Why I think Superman sequels almost always suck, and why you should go to the new one.

Are you looking forward to the new Superman movie Man of Steel? You are? Good, I’d be worried if you weren’t. After all it’s not every year you get the chance to see a new big screen adaption of one of the best known god origin myths. And that right there is my reason why Superman sequels always suck.

He’s a god.

Okay, I’ll explain a little more. Superman, like most if not all superhero stories, can be viewed as modern mythology. Wolverine is perhaps a modern take on Odysseus, wandering the world in search of home. Wonderwoman, is quite literally an Amazonian princess. Nightcrawler and Angel, are supposedly descendants of races early humans mistook for angels and demons. And Superman, is Heracles, or maybe Perseus, well one of Zeus’ bastard sons anyway (I think probably more Hercules though because the second part of his origin story is usually his having to slay more gods/titans. An act which in Heracles mythology ends with his taking a seat alongside his father in Olympus.).

We’ve always had superheroes in our cultures. In the past though they either represented the very, very best of humanity (a lot of the Fianna, or the Knights of the Round table), of semi-godly origin (half of the classical Greek heroes were demi-gods), or were straight up gods (Prometheus sacrificing his freedom to give mankind fire, etc). But they were, with the addition of tights and some ACDC to the soundtrack, what modern kids would recognise as superheroes. They can simply do things that “normal” people can’t. They’re smarter, or stronger, or have powers, or are immortal, or, or, or.

So back to Superman.

Superman has one of the better origin stories of the very early superheroes. His entire world is destroyed by some cataclysm. His father desperately tries to save his entire race, but his efforts are rebuffed by his own people. So out of absolute desperation he sends his only son to Earth in a small purpose built spacecraft. Then Supermans parents die. Next twenty-ish years of boring stuff about him growing up as a normal mid-western kid on a farm, all the while hiding his true nature. His adopted dad dies (man this kid is bad luck to have around). Moves to the big city, wants to use his powers for good, creates a costume, becomes Superman, has a career saving a REALLY clumsy, and self destructive newspaper reporter. Saves the world a bunch of times like a good solar powered god.

That’s Superman boiled down to a single paragraph. Doesn’t sound so good does it? It actually sounds kind of comical.

But in reality it’s actually a rather engrossing story. You have the ultimate fish out of water, an honest to goodness alien, whose father sends him to a world where he knows his son will become godlike because of his new environment. And a lot of Supermans origin story, when it’s told well, is about his struggle to accept his true nature, and the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with that nature. Because in Superman, just like in the ancient myths, power/acclaim doesn’t come for free. There is always a price.

Sometimes that price is your bitch of a step-mother trying to kill you as a child, before driving you mad enough to kill your own wife and children, in some versions not once, but twice. Heracles.

Sometimes the price is that you become a king, only to have it all taken from you, and then have the universe add ridicule to insult to injury by dropping the the prow of your own ship on your now homeless head. Jason of the Argonauts.

And in Supermans case, the price is knowing he can never save everyone. No really, that’s the price. No matter how perfectly he pulls off a rescue, someone will still be hurt. He is a god, but one who isn’t all powerful, a god who can’t have a really perfect win. The world is just too damned big for one man, even a superman, to save all of it. So instead he spends his time saving as much of one city as he can, and Lois Lane constantly, because and I cannot state this strongly enough, she is a super-magnet for trouble as well as being incredibly clumsy (and yeah, usually kinda hot so there is that).

His origin story works really well because it’s about a young god who wants to be a normal man, but is forced over time, by circumstance to accept his true nature. Even though it means he will have to pay some enormous personally torturous price. Perseus anyone?

And right there is why the sequels, 1980’s Superman 2 being an exception mostly because it was actually far more the second part of his origin than a true sequel, usually suck. He’s a god. There’s really no suspense, no peril. Superman will not die. Lois Lane will not die. And everyone else is more or less just a nameless face in the crowd who you won’t see more than once, or at the most very often. Superman always wins in the end, because he’s a god. So why bother warming up the edge of your seat?

Peril is important to good storytelling. And it is an element that even one of the worst superhero movies of all time had in spades. X-Men 3 is an abomination of a movie. I honestly think it’s far worse than the 2003 movie Hulk, and that was just a mess of bad CGI, combined with not enough good story. But even with it being such a terrible hash of a movie, X-Men 3 really had one thing going for it. Characters, major ones, could and did die. The good guys won, yes. But they paid a truly huge price, and you were never sure how many of the characters you loved would still be kicking at the end of it all.

Best of all it showed a god-type character, Dark Phoenix, dying from something as mundane as being stabbed. It allowed the unstoppable, to be stopped in a way that was not only easy to relate to, but in a way that tore at your heart strings.

This is something that Superman has never, to my mind, really managed to achieve in the sequels. Simply because Superman is Superman. He always saves the day, so why worry? Even in the comic books the writers have had to continuously ramp up what his opponents can do, to have even the slightest hint of peril. But it still doesn’t work. Why?

Superman dies…

He’s cloned.

That version was from a parallel universe.

That version was another a clone.

It was all a dream.

A vision experienced in the Fortress of Solitude.

…and so on. (Not sure how many of those have actually happened. I stopped reading Superman comics around the same time I discovered breasts. But really what else can you do with that character?)

When your chief character is a god, it really is almost impossible to do much more with him. I mean sure you can knock off his support system. Kill his mother, his father, his girlfriend, his dog. But even then you wind up having to tell a superhero story which has no superheroism. Instead you wind up with a story that you could have told better by just having an all human cast of characters, and setting it in a universe that everyone can fully relate to.

Or you can strip him of his powers…superhero movie with no superpowers that isn’t Kickass. I’ll pass thanks.

What’s the point?

But all that said, he does have probably the best of the early superhero origin stories. And I fully expect Man of Steel to quite simply rock. So I really am strongly suggesting that you go watch it. This won’t be the campy 80’s version, or Lois and Clark. This will be a fully realised gritty version based solidly in the same sort of universe as Nolans Batman Trilogy. Or to put it another way, Superman the way we’ve never seen it on the big screen, or really any screen.

Just…don’t expect a lot from the sequels. And there ARE going to be sequels.

So if all that isn’t enough, as a loyal member of the Angry Army I will leave you with the Angry Joe himself pleading with you to go see Man of Steel. I mean come on, could you say no to that face?

And now I leave you. It’s time to Up, Up, and AWAY!

20/04/2013

Why Dr Who gets on my tits.

Okay, so there’s one thing really annoys me about the modern Dr Who. The tagline for it since they relaunched the series has been that The Doctor is “The Last of The Timelords.” Which is cool, and awesome sounding, and shit. But it’s also not to my mind as a life-long Whovien in anyway accurate.

Even if all the other Timelords are now dead (which they’re not, they’re along with The Silver Nemesis and all the other Gallifreyan living weapons, timelocked, whatever that means), but that still leaves the TimeLady Romana. Who, as of the last time she was seen, was quite alive and healthy in Y-Space. Admittedly she was supposed to be trapped there for all eternity but she was alive, and only on one of her earliest regenerations.Remember when Timelords only had 13 of those? Or when alternative dimensions stayed closed off once their storylines were finished?

Also does anyone actually believe that we’ve seen the last of The Master? Really? I only ask because that guy has died more times than Daniel Jackson, and correct me if I’m wrong, but he is a Timelord. Evil (sort of), dangerous, psychopathic, but a Timelord.

So there’s two right off the bat.

But the original Doctors often faced off against other rogue Timelords. They were a staple of the series. Are you really telling me that the ones he faced of against and defeated were the only rogues? Or that those rogues would have obeyed a call to arms from the the council, a council that they refused to answer to in the first place?

Next of course we have Jenny, the Doctors daughter-self. She died, she regenerated, that at the very least makes her more than simply Gallifreyan. Regeneration is after all a key part of being a Timelord, simple Gallifreyans only get to live one life. And speaking of characters who can regenerate.

River Song. She gives The Doctor all of her regenerations. And she’s a time-traveler, which admittedly does give her a better claim to Timeladyship than simply having the ability to regenerate.

Or how about the fact that the Timelords are TIME-TRAVELLERS! They’ve effected all of history. But after the Time War they apparently were taken out  of history? How the Hell does that work? So all their works in our history are erased? Because that’s what’s implied. And yet, if that’s the case then why isn’t our universe crawling with Rachnos, Great Vampires, or Daleks? For that matter how can the The Doctor exist?

I guess that my problem with the Who-verse, is that what a Timelord is has never been properly defined. And by that I don’t mean “had the mystery removed”. Timelords by their nature would be mysterious anyway. They take titles, and never reveal their names. They live multiple lives. They’re…more than anything else in that universe. They could easily be written as mysterious no matter what. But, for me, this sharpest written modern televised science fiction falls down only because of niggles like this. Define, at least vaguely what a Timelord is so you can justify The Doctor calling himself the last of his kind, especially when there are plenty of reasons, within the vague outline you insist on using, for him not to be.

I know, I know, it’s all a wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey thing with loops and strings, and time-space is very complicated so there’s some rationally irrational reason for all this to work within the story-verses laws of nature. But as a science fiction fan, and as a writer I have to admit that this does put me off of watching the show.

I’m sick of mystery for the sake of mystery.

I know that The Doctor is meant to be frightfully mysterious.

And the Timelords are meant to be frightfully mysterious.

And it’s all supposed to be a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, topped off with an enema…or some other word starting with “e”.

But it is in all honesty starting to get on my wick. I’m not asking for all the mysteries to be solved. But an occasional insight into all of this, preferably one that isn’t retconned out again later, would be very welcome.

19/01/2013

My Top Ten Most Beautiful Men of – Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Way back in March of last year I wrote a top 10 list of the women I think are most beautiful in both fantasy television, and film. I was delighted with it. Then two days later my oldest friend in real life, Kittysunflowers, issued what I chose to take as a challenge.

“Great! Be interested in seeing your opinions/top ten if you ever decide to do a ‘top ten’ for another gender!”

Well Kitty…

Now, barring three very specific guys I do not find men sexy. So this list is not based on sexiness, or even attractiveness. It’s literally based on how beautiful I find them.  This is partly based on how they look, I may be (mostly) lesbian, but even I can see when someone is beautiful. It’s also partly based on the little echoes of the real person behind the character, because no matter how good they may be at acting, something of their reality will always sneak through.

These men are not listed in any particular order, as I simply don’t know how to order them. But suffice to say, when they come on screen, even this dyke sits up and takes notice. Enjoy.

(Oh and who are the “three very specific guys”? Well they’re my ex-boyfriend Sean (The most beautiful man I have ever known), Ryan Reynolds (Come on he makes being Canadian sexy), and one guy who’s ego is already big enough, but I’m pretty sure he knows who he is.)

Chris Hemsworth – George Kirk (Star Trek):

 

God damn it is it hard to find a picture of this guy, in this movie which isn’t 99% lens flare. Well anyway, in 2009 we received the gift of a rebooted Star Trek. It was overall, in my opinion, the second best Star Trek movie. However it point-blank has the best opening of any science fiction movie I have ever seen. Those first ten minutes where we see Jim Kirks father go down kicking ass, and handing out his number. I simply can’t imagine anyone but Hemsworth playing George Kirk, he’s perfect in the role, and manages to show how the original universes Jim Kirk turns out the way he does, while setting up the tone an entirely new universes Starfleet. Show me anyone else who could have done that, while looking this good? Go on, I dare ya.

Ryan Reynolds – (Blade: Trinity):

No problems with lens flare here, thankfully. I don’t think that Ryan Reynolds acts as such. I think he shows up on set, and instantly makes everything about that movie awesome. Even if it’s a heap of shit like Green Lantern, or indeed, Blade: Trinity. Here’s the thing, he genuinely just seems to be  a good guy. Anytime you see him interviewed all that shines through is this genuineness, and pleasantness, which actually makes you sit up and pay attention. Of course in Blade: Trinity you notice because there are only two things which manage to make that train wreck of a movie watchable. Parker Posey at her most delicious, and Ryan Reynolds visibly pissing himself laughing the whole way through the story.

Aaron Eckhart – Ssgt. Michael Nantz (Battle: Los Angeles):

No idea why I find this guy, in this part beautiful, but I do. Maybe it’ just the reflected divinity of Michelle Rodriguez (who actually survives to the end…WTF?). Maybe it’s the dimpled chin. Maybe it’s the big ass gun, carried by a really worn out soldier. I don’t know. But he’s still on the list.

Vladimir Kulich – Buliwyf (13th Warrior):

Has anyone ever played a dour, troubled Norseman better on the big screen? And I mean ever? Everything about Kulich in the part of Buliwyf is just, right. His physical presence is spot on, his accent is spot on, his looks are spot on. I mean fuck, there’s only one other man who fits the Viking stereotype so perfectly and plants a huge grin on my face every single time I see him…

Dennis Storhøi – Herger (13th Warrior):

This man. Enough said.

Kyle MacLachlan – Paul Atreides (Dune):

Okay I get that this is considered David Lynch’s to be his weakest film. But it did give us the divine Miss Virginia Madsen as Princess Irulan (and Amanda’s heart went crunch in interesting ways), and a very young Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides. Again something about his screen presence manages to mae him a very beautiful person to watch…though nothing at all in comparison to Virginia…(I may have a problem)

Jonathan Brandis – Marcus Wolenczak (SeaQuest):

I’m sorry but straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, whatever. If you say you didn’t smile when this kid came on-screen back in the 90’s you’re a damned liar. He wasn’t nearly as annoying as Wesley Crusher, was at least funny to watch, and actually had some genuinely good on-screen chemistry with Roy Scheider.

Jason Carter – Marcus Cole (Babylon 5):

It’s very hard to think of a more tragic science fiction character than the Ranger, Marcus Cole. His entire family is wiped out by a Shadow attack on his home colony. He spends his whole remaining life in one battle or another, while enduring an unrequited love for Susan Ivanova. Who he sacrifices his own life to save in the final episode of season 4. Sometimes funny, sometimes violent, always heartbreaking to watch on screen, Jason Carter managed the impossible with this character. He made someone so tragic even Shakespeare would have thrown his hands up and screamed “No, enough, this guy needs a fucking break!” utterly believable, and a person you cared for. He was also kinda nice to look at.

Keith Hamilton Cobb – Tyr Anasazi (Andromeda):

Andromeda after Kevin Sorbo took the reins had it’s problems, which can be summed up thus…

Season 1 (Pre-Sorbo) = Utter Badassness, great storyline, amazing concept, un-fucking-believable opening theme.

Season 2 onwards = Utter Badassness, okayish theme…..uh guys what the fuck happened to the rest?

Seriously from season 2 onwards the show is so different it’s genuinely jarring to watch season 1 again afterwards. But despite this one thing that stayed a pretty good constant throughout  was the sheer awesomeness of all the characters when taken individually. And no-one typifies this better than Keith Hamilton Cobb as Tyr. Seriously. First of all just look at him. Would you want him against you? I mean seriously, would you even dream of fucking with that guy?

Jamie Bamber – Lee Adama (Battlestar Galactica Reboot):

Come on, you knew I was gonna sneak a little Starbuck in here somewhere. But this segment is about Jamie Bamber back when he stepped in to the big boy boots of Captain Lee Adama. First off, he’s a pretty boy. He really is (you know until the short period of “fat” Apollo in I think it was season 3, but the less said about that the better.) pretty, and he somehow manages to find an infinite supply of hair-gel while in exile in deep space, which makes him kind of amazing. And his best friend is FRAKKING STARBUCK! Now tell me sh….I mean he’s not worth watching.

And folks that’s your lot apart from one thing. When I wrote about Andromeda I mentioned that in Season 1 it had an amazing opening theme which was changed for a “more of the same” type theme. Well because you had the patience to read through to here, as a special treat, here it is. The full version of my favourite television theme of all time, “March of the High Guard”.

06/10/2012

Little Ruminations on Television – Three more years of Top Gear.

Well it’s official, Top Gear has a new sponsorship deal, and so will be with us for at least three more years. I stunned by my not being utterly overjoyed, Top gear is one of my favorite slices of television cake. But lately that cake has started to taste more than a little stale. I’m sure most people who watch the show regularly love the mixture of comedy, fast cars,and insane challenges. I know I do. But how long can they keep this going before people start switching off in their millions?

Don’t take me wrong in this, Top Gear is still entertaining. But, and it’s a very big “but”, am I the only one finding the challenges are becoming a tired cliché? Yes, back when they started them they were genuinely exciting. I still love to watch the one where Clarkson somehow manages to drive from London(ish) to the most northerly point of Britain, AND back on one tank of diesel. There’s genuine comedy, and tension in that little adventure. And in many of those that followed. But now the newer challenges seem to have become cartoonish parodies of themselves.

I won’t even go into the one-off New Years specials except to say that while the first one, the Polar adventure, was something truly special, and the Botswana adventure was really fun, the rest have felt like 90 minutes of “some television.” As for last years Indian one…that one was just painfully embarrassing to watch.

So where am  going with this?

I do still love Top Gear. I used to watch “old” Top Gear when I was a teen, and I’ll probably watch “new” Top Gear ’til the day that they finally pull the plug. But I wish that they would stop trying to out-do themselves. Don’t stop the challenges but make them have a little more sense of reality perhaps? Do show us those pretty supercars, but how about a serious review (by which I mean don’t turn the review into a piss-take of itself) of a normal car that I might someday be able to afford each week? And for the love of all that is unholy, please not always the fucking Ford Mondeo.

04/09/2012

How the Famous Five, and other influences, made me a tomboy.

It’s weird how some of the most unexpected things can catch you out. I woke up this morning after half remembering a television series from my childhood called The Owl Service. I remembered it as a really good (sort of) ghost story. Well anyway, I went online to find out about it, and actually confirm that it had existed, my having a long history of mixing up elements of lots of different shows, and thus remembering TV shows that never actually existed. Though they would have been awesome if they had.

Anyway I found it, and yay, delight ensued. I then decided to find out some of the background history of some of my favourite children’s drama programs from the 70’s, and 80’s. This of course led me to The Famous Five. And I don’t mean the sort of alright version from the 90’s.

The version released in the late 70’s is a show that has some meaning to me. It was the first time I ever saw someone with my surname acting in anything. Michelle Gallagher. Who played my very unsurprisingly favourite character from the books, George. Anyway it kind of resonated with my childhood mind, that this tomboy was played by a girl with the same name as me. It gave me this odd sense of wonder which has never quite left me, were we related in some distant way? Was she like her character in reality, or a lil girlie girl. All the usual questions that pass through a child’s mind.

So I did a little research. Wanting to find out how the show came to be made, and what the actors all did after the show. The story of the show was interesting enough I suppose, though hardly fascinating. It was produced by a studio who wanted to make money so that they could pay their staff, and make more shows. But it did interest me that the girl who played Anne went on to be a primary school, religious education teacher of all things. Then when I dug a little deeper I discovered that Michelle Gallagher was dead. That she had in fact taken her own life in 2000.

So pick out the tomboy? (Image via http://www.kidzcoolit.com)

That information just pulled me up short. I mean sure she must have been 13 or 14 in 1978 when the show was made. (That year being another reason the show resonated with me throughout my childhood, after all it’s the year I was born in.) But that would have only put her in her 30’s when she died.

But what threw me most, is that another of the “girls” who helped to shape my mind, and my view of myself is gone from the world…

George of Famous Five fame, Michelle Gallagher: I learned from her that it was okay to want to grow up to be a smart, tomboy. (bear in mind I was maybe 6 seeing that show the first time, 14 was grown up. Besides at 6 I was really unaware of the other difference between the apparently male, and women of the world.)

Sara Jane Smith, the second best of The Doctor’s companions, Elizabeth Sladen: She showed me that you know what? It’s okay to look damn good, while being smarter than the boys, a tomboy, and to generally be kicking ass good and hard while doing it. All without breaking to many nails.

One of my other two great television influences. (Image via dpaddamsels.com)

As for the third? Well as far as I know she is still very much alive and kicking. As for who she is, let’s just say that both her characters, and her reality are equally admirable and leave it at that.

So back to those who are gone. Oh the characters they made still live on in DVD’s, on the internet, and in occasional reruns. But the women who made those characters come to life, who by mixing parts of themselves with parts of people who never existed made the unreal real, at least to my young unformed mind, are gone from the world. (What I actually believe is far more complex but this is neither the time, nor the place for that particular discussion.)

That they’ve left us saddens me. Not because I knew them, but because I always wish anyone who has knowingly, or unknowingly helped me to become who I am only the best. I wish them to be happy, healthy, and to have the chance to help someone else. Many someone’s else. Still at least with actresses their bodies or work still live on, and may be able to help nudge some other lost lil transgirl on to a healthier path that doesn’t lead only to self-destruction.

And while entertaining people is a good legacy to have, maybe, just maybe even unknowingly helping even a handful of girls like me to achieve their potential is a slightly better fate?

 

 

 

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