THERE ARE MANY COPIES
AND THEY HAVE A PLAN
The sixth series of modern Doctor Who has been a bit of a bumpy ride. The first half-season left me unsatisfied. With only seven episodes to air prior to a nearly three-month hiatus, there was too much riding on each installment. I had little patience with the inconsequential “Curse of the Black Spot” and the overstretched “Rebel Flesh” two-parter. I was frustrated by the impenetrable, timey-wimey arc plotting; and by showrunner Steven Moffat’s overindulgence in the Amazing Adventures of River Song.
Happily, the second half has been more hit than miss. Even though “Let’s Kill Hitler” was more timey-wimey River Songiness, it was at least breezy and fun. The next three episodes were all pretty satisfying, and to my mind marked a return to the weird, anything-goes nature of early Doctor Who. (Certainly the stark white rooms and sterile “handbots” of “The Girl Who Waited” evoked the opening chapter of Patrick Troughton’s surreal story “The Mind Robber.”)
The most recent episode, “The God Complex,” was in my view the best story of the season and perhaps even of the entire Moffat/Smith era. It’s not the first (or second, or even third) time that Doctor Who has tackled the Minotaur myth, but its sinister, Shining-inspired hotel setting and hallucinogenic nightmare imagery made it the most effective by far.
However, what prompted me to write was the conclusion of the story, which saw the Doctor “saving” Amy and Rory by dropping them off in modern-day England to live a normal life free of Flesh duplicates, TARDIS babies and scary future selves.
I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with the conclusion the show has reached: that travelling with the Doctor invites more than garden-variety adventure-serial danger, but truly existential peril. The Doctor admits to taking Amy into his life out of hubris and the need to have someone to impress. It’s explicitly stated that the traditional Doctor/companion relationship is a childish venture in need of a grown-up to say “no.”
New Who has flirted with this before. The Doctor’s lonely travels in the 2009 specials were predicated by the terrible fate of his former friend Donna Noble. But even there one knew that it was something that he’d eventually get over. (The regeneration into a new personality surely helped.)
In a vacuum, it’s a story that’s worth telling, but I’m less convinced that it’s wise for a continuing series to make such a good case against the very core of its premise. Make no mistake, there will be more pretty girls travelling in the TARDIS; that’s hard-wired into the show. But after the events of the past couple of weeks, it’s going to be hard not to think that the Doctor is being tremendously irresponsible and hypocritical the next time he invites one of them across the threshold.
Plus, a big part of the appeal of Doctor Who is wish-fulfillment, that desire on the part of the viewer for a big, blue box to materialize outside and whisk him or her off on the adventure of a lifetime. I really don’t want to be told not to want it.
These last few weeks have been keeping me very busy. This is not altogether a bad thing. I’ve watched enough Thomas the Tank Engine to appreciate the value of proving oneself a “really useful engine.”
Here’s what I’ve been up to:
All that, plus all of the usual work stuff…and trying to run a twice-monthly Dungeons & Dragons game.
Did I mention that I’ll be one of two WILL staffers leading approximately 30 donors on a 10-day tour across England? Yep, that too. Less than two weeks from now.
I am a little stressed.
I hope to get back to more regular blogging, but no promises.
*If you have ever seen my yard, you understand the irony of me producing a gardening program.
Once again it’s that time of year when WILL-AM’s regular radio hosts go on vacation and I have the opportunity to take over the microphone for an hour. Tomorrow (Friday, September 16) at 11:05 am Central Time, I’ll be interviewing Jason Zinoman, author of the film history Shock Value.
The book recounts how horror movies, once epitomized by Gothic castles and Vincent Price, gave way to zombies, stalkers and cannibals in a disorienting mix of the fantastic and the mundane. The late ’60s and early ’70s gave us George Romero, John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper, who collectively took fright features out of the realm of kids’ stuff.
If you’re not in WILL-AM’s Central Illinois coverage area, you can listen online. If you miss the live broadcast, it’ll be in our archive. And we’ll be taking listener questions; call in during the show at 800-222-9455.
Reading the book (which I recommend) I was struck most by one thing: the revolution Zinoman describes began in 1968 with the dual releases of Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead. What he terms “modern horror” is now 43 years old…
This is turning into a nerd rage sort of day, but I couldn’t let this go. Here’s Henry Cavill in the Superman costume from the forthcoming Man of Steel movie.
Suddenly, that Wonder Woman costume is looking pretty good.
I know that Superman’s traditional red panties-on-the-outside simply don’t work for today’s cultured superhero fashionistas, but there’s a better way.
This is George Perez’s redesign for next week’s relaunch of the entire DC Comics line. I’m not that thrilled with it; I take issue with giving a suit of armor to a hero whose second most-notable characteristic is his invulnerability. But at least the red belt that replaces the super-Speedos breaks up that big expanse of blue.
Back to the movie costume. What the hell is going on around the mid-torso? Is Superman ribbed for our pleasure? It’s not enough that the new suit has a scaly texture, but it’s got this weird musculature thing happening.
The biggest beef that I have with it is that it’s all muted tones. Superman isn’t dark. He’s a bright and colorful Boy Scout, a symbol of inspiration and hope. This here isn’t even grim ‘n gritty, it’s dour and sullen.
Oh, my gosh! I just realized what it reminds me of!
It’s evil, bar-hopping Superman from Superman III!
Is it too much to ask for Christopher Reeve to punch out Henry Cavill in a junkyard?
Look, I know what I just wrote in the post below. But since then, leaked copies of the Original Trilogy from the Star Wars Blu-Ray set have hit the Interwebs. As expected, there have been additional tweaks, ranging from benign and pointless to pointless and silly. And pointless.
Of all the changes, that last one seems like the biggest “fuck you” to the fanboys, as Vader’s shouted “Noooooooooooo!” was one of the most mocked moments of the prequels.
Again, many of the changes seem benign. And I always thought that the Ewok costumes looked dead-eyed.
Still, there’s a point where one has to call “bullshit” on the oft-repeated Lucas mantra that the special editions reflect his original vision unconstrained by technology. So, he originally intended for there to be a Dug (an alien not even conceived of until the late ’90s) hand-walking its way around Jabba’s throne room?
Or, as one Internet wag put it: “It was always his intention to have rocks around R2 there but dammit, rocks are heavy and we needed to wait until we could make believable fake rocks.”
Of course, the real problem isn’t blinky Ewoks, it’s that Lucas has kept the original, unvarnished versions of his films out of circulation.
George, if you’re listening–and truthfully, I have no reason to believe that you are–I have a message for you.
No one would care if you made R2-D2 fuchsia or had Vader quoting Monty Python if the original versions were out there as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re keeping them in the vault out of artistic integrity or sheer cussedness. Let them out. Grant them a full restoration and a fresh HD transfer. Give them the love and respect that they deserve.
There’s an article on the Time website in which TV critic James Poniewozik asks who “owns” Star Wars, Lucas or the fans? I argue that there’s a third party: history.
There’s a simple fact obscured by the debate over whether Han or Greedo shot first: the special edition of Star Wars is not the film that won seven Oscars and, by the way, changed how movies are made and marketed. Film historians and students are being denied the opportunity to evaluate it as a cultural artifact from 1977. While there’s enough original material to at least get some sense of what the fuss was all about back in the day, the lather of CGI obscures the groundbreaking movie technologies innovated by Lucas, John Dykstra and others.
Let go, Lucas. Put away your insecurities and frustrations and recklessness. Isn’t that the Jedi path?