Tag Archives: doctor who

Oddjobs – Heide Goody & Iain Grant

Here’s another one that Amazon told me I might enjoy. I wasn’t entirely sure, so I took the option of using the free “borrow” feature that comes with my Prime subscription. It’s more fun and games with extra-dimensional entities sufficiently powerful that calling them “gods” is close enough.

The entities in question are known as the Venislarn, and it’s clear that at some undefined point in the near future, they’re going to consume the Earth and all human life will be absorbed in a particularly unpleasant manner involving eternal torment, and all that kind of thing.

Governments, being well aware of What’s Really Going On, have departments set up to deal with all this kind of thing. Not to combat it, because that’s impossible, but to, well, manage it. With more bureaucracy than Charlie Stross’s Bob Howard would care to deal with. At least Bob just had to deal with HR, and was never subjected to to the horrors of brainstorming. On the other hand, he didn’t get to play Buzzword Bingo in meetings, so it all works out. Sort of.

Anyway, that’s enough digression, and on with the story. The action takes place in Birmingham, something of an Eldritch Horror in itself, and features some very silly fishy people, giant starfish from space, strange neighbours and enough geeky gags to put off less geeky readers, such as this topical bit:

CCTV footage of a section of corridor, a slight figure in trailing clothes running away and off screen. Rod dialled it back. “Is that a knitted scarf?” “And a big flappy coat.” “We’ve had a break-in by Doctor Who.” “Looks like a woman.” “They were going to get around to gender-free casting eventually.”

and someone with their priorities right

“What? They cordon off and evacuate the bloody Sea Life Centre but not the Children’s Hospital. I mean, I like penguins but I wouldn’t have said they’re more important than kids… Well, I would, but that’s a personal thing.”

…and a nod to David Langford’s basilisks[1], which is always a Good Thing.

Loads of fun, well worth a read, and I’ll be checking out the sequel once I’ve caught up with some other books that are currently filling my Kindle.

[1] Google it ?

Doctor Who – Twice Upon a Time (no spoilers)

Oooooooooooooooooooh, that was seriously nicely done.

A lovely farewell to Peter Capaldi, an impressive recreation of the first Doctor’s farewell, Mark Gatiss in a role that turns out to be a wee bit more significant than might at first seem likely (and quite right too), some old friends, lots of fun, and a delightfully dramatic regeneration to end it.

Oh, and a wee bit of a cliffhanger to lead into the new series, which unfortunately won’t be with us until the Autumn.

Stuff Report – 25 December 2017

Ummm, Merry thingy and all that….

It’s been a quiet day so far. Food has been eaten, and a glass or two of wine may have been involved.

Of course, the main event of the day is yet to come: the Doctor Who Christmas special, featuring an unusual number of Doctors. More on that when I’ve seen it.

Here’s a view of a crowded beach. Well, as crowded as I ever like anywhere to be:

On the beach

On the beach

Camera: X70
Aperture: ƒ/11
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 18.5mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 16 December, 2017

Doctor Who – Shada (New version)

I mentioned this when it was announced, and now I’ve had time to watch it[1], I’ll have to witter about it in the usual Losing it way.

In the usual way, there are several editions on offer – I opted for the limited edition Steelbook, which quite apart from coming in an attractive metal container, has a third disk of stuff. Depending on how you look at those things, that extra disk may or may not be worth the extra.

Main feature

OK, let’s start with the first disk, the thing we’ve all been waiting for since 1979: the completed version of Shada. If you’re not familiar with the sad story of how the last story of the 1970s was never completed, I gave a brief account of it when I talked about the previous DVD release a few years back. More on that previous release later.

What we have here is as complete a recreation of what was originally intended by writer Douglas Adams as we’re ever likely to get. The previously released completed bits have been blended with animation (from the same people who recreated The Power of the Daleks), with the original cast, led by Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana, providing the voices. Some visual effects have been added to the original material, and there are some bits where the sets have been recreated, including a lovely bit at the end which I’m not going to tell you about, because it’s so nice, that it’s better kept as a surprise.

And it all works pretty well – this is, after all, a Douglas Adams script, and is full of the expected humour, silliness and ideas. The animation style is simple (we’re not talking modern 3D renders here!), but it works well with the source material and the characters look enough like the real actors for the changes of scene not to be too jarring – unlike previous recreations, where it’s been whole episodes recreated, in Shada’s case we have fun bits where one one side of a door the characters are animated, and when they enter the room, they’re “real”. But so long as you can suspend your “huh” reflex, it’s not really much stranger than the switch between film and video often seen in TV shows of the period.

The animators have dropped in some nice fan-pleasing touches (if you look carefully, you’ll spot a book with the title “Zaphod – My Stories”), and it’s all good fun. Like most six-parters, it’s maybe a bit longer than it really needs to be, but we can forgive that, I think. Less forgivable is the fact that it’s been presented as a single feature rather than in proper episode format, which feels a bit wrong, somehow.

There’s a commentary available, which I haven’t heard yet, so I won’t talk about it other than noting it’s there.

The main feature is well worth your attention, whether you go for the round shiny thing or download.

Extras – Disk 2

Hmmm, a bit of a mixed bag here with some old and some new bits:

Taken out of time – this look back at the incomplete making of Shada was included with the previous release.

Now and then – the traditional look at locations featured and how they’ve changed. This is also a repeat from the previous release

Strike! Strike! Strike! – A previously released documentary from 2012 talking about  the effect of strike action on various Doctor Who stories (not always detrimental, for instance an ITV strike gave the quite splendid City of Death a record audience)

Studio Sessions – Raw footage from the 1979 studio recordings. This sort of thing is probably fascinating to people who are fascinated by this sort of thing, but I’ve never found similar ones all that interesting. This is no exception, I’m afraid.

Dialogue Sessions – Tom Baker and other cast members in the recording studio for the newly created material. Worth a look.

Studio Shooting – More behind the scenes stuff, this time from the material specially created for this new edition.

Model Filming – A bit of background on the nw model work

Deleted Scenes – A couple of bit cut for reasons of timing (which is the kind of thing that would have happened if the original version had been completed).

Title Sequence Film – For the purposes of Shada, the title sequence from the period was remastered in HD from the  original film negatives. This item shows the results and the raw transfers.

Live Action Reference Footage – to make the animation more authentic, some scenes were acted out in format of green screen for digital capture.

Photo galleries – two of these, one covering the 1979 production and one the 2017 work.

There is also some computer accessible material, which I’ll need to get a Blu-ray drive to see, so that may not happen for a while.

Extras – Disk 3

Only available in the limited edition, this has two items.

1992 VHS Compilation  – this is how Shada was first presented. The original footage was linked with narration by Tom Baker. This is the same material that was used on the previous DVD release, so if you have that already, you may consider this optional

Shada 2003 Webcast – this started life as a Big Finish audio play. What they did was adapt the story to feature the Paul McGann Doctor, who makes an unauthorised  return to Gallifrey to collect President Romana so they can complete some unfinished business, the business in question being Shada. Apart from that change, the rest of it follows the original script quite closely. This was turned into a “webcast” (a curious notion of putting things online for a limited time, or something like that, I forget) with the kind of animation that would work on the slow internet connections that most people had back then. This was previously made available in formats that needed a computer to play (I did, once), but here it’s been given the proper treatment so you can enjoy it on your TV. And, despite the limitations of the animation (nobody’s mouth appears to move…), it’s distinctly watchable. Again, if you’ve got the earlier release, or you’ve got a copy of the webcast, you’ll possibly consider this optional, but it was nice to see it on TV.

Overall, a very nice release – the short notice of its release made it a pleasant surprise. I’m hoping that we’ll see more recreations of missing episodes now that the animation seems to have been sorted out nicely.

[1] Nice way to pass a Sunday…

Skagra Lives! Or, Shada is coming!

With all the fun of site creation and site fixing, I didn’t have time to mention this before. But can I just say Woo!! Hoo!! with added  :tigger: ?

Shada is the Great Lost Story of Doctor Who. Not a wiped 60s classic, but a never-completed six-parter from the glorious Tom Baker/Lalla Ward era. And it was written by Douglas Adams, which is enough reason to mourn its non-completion.

It’s been brought to semi-life before – there was an animated version with Paul McGann as the Doctor, and the finished bits were glued together with narration by Tom Baker into something you could sort of watch but was not really satisfying. Both of these appeared on DVD a while ago.

But now there’s some distinctly interesting news. A new complete version is ti be released, with a combination of remastering and animation. The original cast (yes, Tom!!!!) are back doing the voices for the animated bits, they’re working from the original scripts and it’s by the same people who did a good job of the last unexpected release, The Power of the Daleks.

As is usual these days, its first release will be as a download from 24 November, with round shiny things for us old traditionalists following on 4 December, so that’s my Christmas present to me sorted out.

Details and a sample bit of animation here:

Doctor Who TV report

Oh, and I think I’ll add one more  :tigger: for that.

Doctor Who Christmas Special: Details!

A trailer and some details have been released. First, here’s the trailer:

So, we have a title: Twice Upon a Time, and lots of snow, to keep the Christmassy vibe. As we knew, it features David Bradley doing his best to recreate William Hartnell’s First Doctor. As we didn’t know (and the naughty boy kept this quiet in a recent Doctor Who Magazine interview), it also features the ubiquitous and quite possibly indigenous Mark Gatiss as a First World War officer. And it features something going wrong with time, so having two Doctors might just come in handy.

But most of all, it includes Pearl Mackie as Bill, which I think is a Very Good Thing – as we last saw her having been transformed from being CyberBill, she had no idea if the Doctor had survived, and he had no idea that Heather (her slightly soggy girlfriend) had appeared and rescued her, so the two of them can get together and have a nice chat before he turns into someone slightly different…

Doctor Who: Empress of Mars

While I’m not planning to go into a lot of plot details, it’s likely that the random mutterings that follow will reveal some things you might prefer not to know if you haven’t seen the episode yet, so in my usual way, I’ll include this warning:

Here be spoilers!

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