Daily Archives: Sunday, 29th Aug 2010

Kindle Update

A few weeks ago, I muttered a bit about the third generation Amazon Kindle. Well, after a bit of thought, I decided that I really should have one. It’s smaller and lighter than the iPad, and it’ll be much more pleasant for reading plain text. The iPad remains a better solution for books with detailed images, but for fiction, the Kindle is going to be the preferred solution.

I’ve gone so far as to pre-order a couple of books that I would previously have bought in hardback – the new Terry Pratchett and Peter F Hamilton novels that are coming out in the next week or two. I’ll probably start those on the iPad, as my Kindle won’t be arriving until some time after September 8. By opting for the electronic versions, I’ll be saving some money, getting the books as soon as they’re released, and not having to find more shelf space. All of which works for me.

Oh, and you may be wondering about my somewhat neglected Sony Reader. After checking what they were going for on eBay, I put it on sale, and got a quite satisfactory price for it. Not quite enough to cover the £109 price of the Kindle, but close enough.

Sherlock and Doctor Who News

It’ll come as no great surprise, but it’s now been officially announced that a further three episodes of Sherlock have been commissioned, and will be shown in Autumn 2011. Which is a long time to wait for a relatively small quantity of Sherlock, but we manage with about the same quantity and frequency of Lewis, so it’ll have to do…

But what’s a bit more surprising is something else mentioned in the same story. Apparently the 2011 series of Doctor Who is to be split into two blocks, one starting in spring as normal, but ending with a cliffhanger before resuming in the autumn. This kind of “mid season break” seems to be quite common for US TV shows, but isn’t generally done here. And then it’s generally done after about 13 episodes rather than after six or seven, which is presumably what’s going to happen here. Presumably it’s some kind of attempt to boost ratings. Or to spread our ration of Doctor Who more evenly through the year. Or something else altogether.

BBC News – Sherlock gets second series on BBC One.

Doctor Who – Hornets’ Nest

For some reason or another, I’ve never found the time or the motivation to start listening to the ever-growing range of Doctor Who audio dramas. There are a huge range, with new stories starring several of the previous TV Doctors and their companions, and they are reportedly very good. But there are now so many, that I wouldn’t be sure where to start…

But in addition to the licensed dramas from Big Finish, there’s a new series from the BBC, which caught my attention. These aren’t full-cast dramas, not stories read by a single voice, but something in the middle – multi-voice stories, so to speak. When I heard that Tom Baker had been lured back to make a new series of stories, I had to check it out. I bought the first couple of monthly CD episodes quite a while ago, but only recently got round to listening to them. And immediately got the remaining three, and listened to them as soon as I could.

Anyway, it all starts with retired UNIT Captain Mike Yates[1] responding to a job advertisement that seems very precisely aimed at him. He arrives at a cottage, where a suitably odd housekeeper treats him with extreme suspicion before presenting him to the Doctor. There’s hardly any time for reminiscence before Weird Stuff begins to happen, with a strange collection of stuffed animals attacking.

And so it begins. Each CD is a self-contained story, with the Doctor telling Mike about one of his encounters with some rather nasty alien hornets who have the power to take over any living (and for that matter, non-living) form. As the Doctor works backwards in time, meeting the hornets in different times and places, he learns more about them, until we reach the final confrontation in our own time, with Mike and Mrs Wibbsey the housekeeper each having a role to play…

If you’re a fan of Tom Baker’s Doctor, you should give this series a try – and if you like it as much as I did, you’ll be pleased to know that a second series is coming soon.

Here are the details[2]:

Part 1: The Stuff of Nightmares

In which Mike arrives, stuffed animals attack, and the story begins…

Part 2: The Dead Shoes

In which the Doctor meets Mrs Wibbsey, a dancer borrows some used shoes and the hornets complain about the last time they met the Doctor, which hasn’t happened to him yet.

Part 3: Circus of Doom

In which a sinister circus has some secrets. And some shoes are encountered.

Part 4: Sting in the Tale

Dogs, nuns, and more hornets. And some snow.

Part 5: Hive of Horror

The Doctor is reminded of the time he (or to be precise a copy of him) was reduced and inserted into his own brain. Only it’s not his brain this time. The Queen of the Hornets is encountered.
There’s also a set of the complete series, but it seems to be cheaper to buy the separate episodes.

[1] Who only ever appeared in stories with the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), before leaving the service after a slight misunderstanding involving an attempted coup and some dinosaurs loose in London. If memory serves, the original plan was for the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) to guest in these stories, but he couldn’t make it. Richard Franklin appeared instead, and a bit of dialogue was inserted to account for him recognising the Fourth Doctor.
[2] Note: if you’re using AdBlock, you won’t see the links to Amazon. Just go to amazon.co.uk and search for “Doctor Who Hornets Nest” and you’ll find them. Or set this site as an exception in AdBlock – amazon links are about as commercial as I get, so it’s mostly harmless.

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 August 2010

Errr, ooops. The, err, diet thingy starts on Tuesday, OK?

Today’s picture shows a bit of maintenance on Tornado, that big bell cast from a disused RAF plane[1].

Maintenance

Maintenance

[1] The RAF are not at all keen on people trying to make bells out of planes they’re still using…

Gateshead Car Park Demolition – 27 August 2010

And now we get up to date with the demoliton pictures. This set was taken on Friday, and shows some of the machinery, and how that isolated tower is beginning to be reduced to rubble.

Gateshead Car Park Demolition – 22 August 2010

As I mentioned at the time, last Sunday I went for another look at the car park demolition job, which had reached an interesting stage. The staircase at one end of the building was now an isolated tower.

Gateshead Car Park Demolition – 19 August 2010

I didn’t manage to get any more pictures of the demolition until a week had passed after the last set, and in that time a lot of progress had been made. It was a Thursday morning again, and this time, I had to contend with the sun shining straight at me, but I managed to get some reasonable pictures:

Gateshead Car Park Demolition – 12 August 2010

Slightly behind with posting pictures, but here we go with the next batch of car park demolition pictures.  These were taken on the morning of Thursday 12 August, and show some actual demolition action:

Doctor Who – Cybermen Set

Yes, it’s another of those themed box sets – the theme this time being the Cybermen[1]. They’d first appeared in the last William Hartnell story, and came back for more several times during Patrick Troughton’s era, but then wandered off for a bit of a rest before returning in:

Revenge of the Cybermen

This story follows straight on from Genesis of the Daleks. The Doctor (Tom Baker), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Salden) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) are taken back to the Nerva station by the Time Ring, only to find they’ve arrived in a different time altogether, and that things are not altogether well. In this time, the space station is acting as a beacon, warning ships about a new asteroid in the vicinity of Jupiter. The asteroid is actually Voga, known as the planet of gold because it’s got lots of the stuff. And yes, the occupants are called Vogans, not to be confused with Vogons, of course.

As the Cybermen are apparently vulnerable to gold dust (something that hadn’t been mentioned before), they’re not at all keen on Voga, and trouble is coming…

It’s not that bad a story, but compared with the classic that preceded it, it does fall a little flat. The Cybermen are quite nasty, but in this story, at least, they lack the real menace that the Daleks have in abundance. Good fun, anyway.

Extras on this DVD include:

  • The Tin Man and the Witch – the usual “making of” thingy. The witch in question is a rock in the Wookey Hole caves where part of the story was filmed
  • Location report – a little bit of archive BBC local news film. Shown before Tom Baker had appeared as the Doctor, it shows him in fine form during the filming in the caves
  • Cheques, lies and videotape – ooooooh, now this is nice. Almost worth getting the DVD just for this slice of history. Long, long ago, before multi-channel TV and DVDs, before video tapes went mass-market, even, fans resorted to dodgy copies of episodes, trading them for other tapes, memorabilia, or even actual money. Second, third, even tenth generation video copies were passed around (and if you remember what copied VHS tapes looked like, you can imagine how desperate people must have been). This began to change in 1983, when the BBC released the first Doctor Who video tape. As it happened, this was Revenge of the Cybermen. The price at the time was a rather expensive £39.95 – over £100 in today’s money, which makes current DVD prices look like a bargain. This documentary includes a lot of those tape-trading fans talking about those days. Good stuff.
  • Production subtitles, pictures, and a commentary

Silver Nemesis

As part of the twenty-fifth anniversary series, and indeed the story to be shown on the show’s anniversary date, this one, rather like series opener Remembrance of the Daleks, plays with time again. The story involves a bunch of neo-Nazis, a bonkers 17th century sorceress, an unfinished chess game, and those lovely Cybermen again.

Just like the earlier Dalek story, it hinges on a Cunning Plan by the Doctor to sort out an enemy once and for all, and has a parallel or two with that story. (Bonkers bit of Gallifreyan technology, etc…). Still, it’s good fun, with Ace absolutely not having any explosives on her, the Doctor failing to convince the security guys at Windsor Castle that he has to see the Queen, and some lovely silly dialogue between the bonkers sorceress and her much abused attendant.

Apart from the usual commentary, production subtitles and pictures, special features include:

  • Industrial Action – the usual cast and crew reminiscence thingy.
  • Deleted and extended scenes – rather more than usual. Over 20 minutes of bits snipped for timing reasons.

[1] As you might have guessed from the title