Daily Archives: Sunday, 6th Feb 2011

Weight and Stuff Report – 6 February 2011

Back down again today after yesterday’s big rise. Good stuff.

Today’s picture is another one from the archives:



It’s a rather tall street light which covers what is still generally known as the Swan House roundabout, even though Swan House hasn’t been called that for, err, quite a few years now.

Doctor Who – The Complete Fifth Series DVD

I caught up with this over the last week or two[1], so it’s time for a quick review.

Now it used to be the case that getting the full DVD set was an especially Good Thing because that’s how you’d get the nice surround sound stuff. But now that the show is on HD TV (for those that have such toys), it has to come down to the extras.

Anyway, what we have here are the thirteen episodes of Matt Smith’s first year as the Doctor[2], in shiny DVD quality with shiny surround sound. The Blu-Ray version is no doubt shinier and better, but as I haven’t so far given in to that particular commercial pressure, I can’t comment. I’ve talked about those episodes at some length, so I won’t go into details here, other than to say that Matt Smith has totally got the point, and has done a remarkable job in following David Tennant. Karen Gillan has been good fun as Amy, and Arthur Darvill has been great as Rory, a nicely developed character. Oh, and Steven Moffat is completely bonkers, in the best possible way.

Anyway, what about the extras? Well, they’re not quite as impressive as they might be, but here we go:

  • In-vision commentaries for just six episodes. I’m not really convinced that seeing the people talking about the episode in a little box laid over the scene really adds anything, as most of the time they’re not actually doing anything interesting. Sound only commentaries on every episode would have been better – it’s definitely a bit odd getting a commentary on only one half of a two-part story. But the commentaries we get are mostly pretty good. More next time, please.
  • Monster files: little bits of fun from the Doctor Who Confidential team, looking at some of the creatures the Doctor faces. Suffers a bit from not having clips from the classic series (I believe this is because it gets complicated and expensive securing the necessary contractual wossnames from various people, but I could be wrong), but still interesting.
  • Video diaries – Matt and Karen provide most of the fun here. Nice to have
  • Out-takes – lots of on-set silliness, good fun
  • Teasers and trailers – loads of these
  • Doctor Who Confidential Cut-Downs – the short versions of all 13 of these. Again, nice to have, but the full-length ones would have been nicer.
  • And, saving the best till last, two “Meanwhile in the TARDIS” additional scenes, which act as links between episodes. There’s a lovely bit where the Doctor explains to Amy how the TARDIS can instantly analyse its surroundings, work out what would be nicely inconspicuous, then always appear as a 1960s Police telephone box, which sounds like a nod towards the highly advanced drinks machine in The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy which always produces a drink almost, but not entirely unlike tea…

So, if you’re a serious fan, you’ll want this several months ago and you’re probably wondering why I took so long[3] to post about it. If you’re less serious, you may want to wait a bit and get it much cheaper in a year or so.

[1] Which is why I’m behind with watching Primeval and other things…
[2] This came out before Christmas, so you’ll have to wait for the Christmas episode
[3] Quicker than I was for the last full series, though

Primeval – Series 4, Episode 5

Observant readers will have noticed that this review is late, and that I should have posted episode six[1]’s review by now, but as I haven’t actually watched that one yet, you’ll have to put up with this delayed one. So there.

As usual, there are more things going on at once than seems reasonable, so bits of this may appear out of order to reduce confusion. My confusion, that is.

Anyway, this episode seemed to be having a bit of fun with some films. It started with a bit of the old Blair Witch stuff, with a young man in a tent and no video camera skills apparently waiting to spot the local monster, which far from being mythical, turns up and eats him.

And so it goes with the usual multiple plot threads…

At the ARC, Philip tries to persuade Connor to come for him and work on his own private, secret and probably evil anomaly team at his company, Prospero.

Matt has told James Lester about the slight problem he’s been having with Emily and Ethan.

Then there’s an anomaly alert, only this one’s a bit funny as the signal seems a bit unstable. What with Becker still being a bit unwell after the previous episode, and the budget for disposable soldiers being exhausted, or some such, Abby and Connor head off to investigate the anomaly location, which is of course the coastal location with the Blair Witch vibe. In the local pub, it all gets a bit American Werewolf in London, with the locals divided between those who think the Wyrm got the young man with the camera, and those who don’t believe there is any such thing. They’re all united in giving the strangers the traditional strange looks, of course.

While Matt, who has turned up to join in the fun finds the remains of the dead guy’s camp, Connor and Abby investigate a seriously dodgy looking farm. Keeping up with the blatant movie references, Connor mentions that all the place needs is

a weird kid sitting on a porch playing a banjo..

What they actually get is a crazy old farm lady with a big pitchfork and a nice line in “gerroff my land” behaviour.

More fun follows with Matt being followed, finding some bits of a dead angler, meeting the Wyrm, which turns out to be a Labryrinthodon, Connor going to investigate the unstable anomaly, Abby having fun in a caravan park with the creature and all the usual running around.

Matt heads off to help Emily, having been alerted to the presence of the tracking device she borrowed from his flat. She’s having a bit of a rough ride in the boot of a car that Ethan is having no problem driving, suggesting that he’s not from the nineteenth century after all[2]. He’s clearly a bit upset wherever and whenever he’s from, as he wants to give his late friend Charlotte a proper burial, having brought her ashes along in a shiny container.

It was more or less at this point that the episode was interrupted by an ad break that rather than being wall to wall furniture shops[3] included one for some medical product that claimed to help when you’re in the dreadful position of having

nasal congestion and a blocked nose

which is presumably a common problem for the two-nosed members of the audience , but there I go, digressing again. Back to the story:

The bit in the cemetery gets a bit nasty, as Emily drops her tracker before Ethan pops her into a tomb and mentioning that he wants to track down his family, and not so they can have a nice chat and catch up on who’s been doing what. Matt catches up with him and they have a slight disagreement, during which Ethan does the usual sinister bit of hinting that he knows more about what’s going on than anyone else does, but he’s not telling, so there. Anyway, Matt finds Emily and does the appropriate heroic rescue bit.

Meanwhile, Abby’s trapped without a zap gun in a camper van with an irritated creature on top. Connor’s in a cave where someone has put a gate in front of the more flickery than usual anomaly. Oh, and there’s some kind of acid dripping into the cave, which is apparently reacting with stuff in the cave in an electrolytical way, which is why the anomaly is unstable. It seems the crazy pitchfork lady and her son have been removing the dye from red diesel (which farmers can get a lot cheaper than normal fuel, but can’t use it for cars) so they can sell it at a profit. As they think that the ARC crew are investigating them, they’re trying to dump the evidence, which leads to them finding Connor in the cave and pointing guns at him.

Abby, having been told where the anomaly is, drives off with the creature on the roof, only to crash on the way (building a bit more tension there). Creature runs off, and Abby turns up just in time to heroically save Connor. The diesel-cheating locals are eaten, the creature and its baby (which was in the cave) go through the anomaly, and everyone (apart from those who’ve been eaten) is happy.

Matt has another meeting with the increasingly frail Gideon, who now thinks that Ethan is the cause of whatever it is that’s upsetting him.

Connor declines Philip’s job offer, but agrees to do some part-time research for him at the ARC, which Philip warns him has to be kept completely confidential, which is obviosuly going to work well…

So, it was another good fun episode, with the multiple ongoing storylines developing in a suitably confusing manner. Will all be made clear in the final two episodes of this run, or will there be a honking big cliffhanger? My money (metaphorically speaking) is on the latter, but I’ll let you know when I catch up with last week’s and this week’s episodes…

[1] And indeed episode seven. Coming soon, probably.
[2] At this point, if it was revealed that he was from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, I wouldn’t be altogether surprised
[3] It looks like 90% of ads on ITV are for furniture