Doctor Who:

Aka when happens when Stephen Moffat looks at the last decade or so of movies having a go at Superman, thinking "nah!" and "I want to do a Golden Age Superman story, dammit! And a Superman/Doctor Who crossover!", and proceding to do just that. ("Miss Schuster and Miss Siegel": I see what you did there, Moff.) The result is the most Moffatian thing that ever Moffated (seriously: Doctor makes child friend, proceeds to involuntarily influence/mess up/yet ultimately improve child's existence, Doctor having a high regard for babies, check, Doctor and child having quirky adorable scenes, check (not for nothing did RTD once write to the Moff that he's awesome with children), check, determined girl/ life long adoring and crushing caretaker guy, check, more spoilery trope ), check, River Song-Doctor relationship continuity impact, check, otoh Doctor behaves ooc at one point so plot can continue as planned, check (see also the crack matter in s5 and not looking for the little girl anymore after the start of s6).

Also a downside: setting the story in an extremely white contemporary New York where something we don't miss at all about Golden Age narratives happens ).

The result is a story which does indeed do Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane far better than many a recent big screen effort. And I do appreciate the direct continuity to last year's The Husbands of River Song. Otoh, said direct continuity makes it even more obvious last year's was the far better Doctor Who story. In conclusion, I wasn't bored, it's very very Stephen Moffat, but I don't think I'll have any urge to rewatch.

Call the Midwife: Early on I was a bit sceptical whether "let's do a Christmas special that's set in 1962 South Africa is in any ways a good idea, because obvious white savior trope danger in Apartheid country is obvious, but it turns out they pulled it off, at least imo. Our gang was gradually made aware of the every day rottenness of the apartheid situation, and they didn't solve it, but the story wasn't about their enlightenment, either. It was about them doing what they always do in difficult circumstances, and in some cases succeeding, but not in all. More spoilery details follow )

In conclusion: very much enjoyed this one. And now back to Darth Real Life; from now on, I'll have to drastically reduce my fannish life for a month or so in his service, so safe for some more Yuletide talk, you won't be hearing much from me until February.
selenak: (Old School by Khalls_stuff)
( Oct. 29th, 2016 05:03 pm)
I finally got around to watching the first two episodes of Class, the new Doctor Who spin-off. When hearing it was set at Coal Hill (the school where Ian and Barbara back in the day and more recently Clara and Danny taught), I thought it was meant to replace The Sarah Jane Adventures as the spin-off aimed at kids, but the gore part in the first two eps as well as the not-yet-team relationships at times made me wonder whether it's going for the Torchwood audience, so the answer is probably: both. There are also obvious Buffy parallels, textually acknowledged.

Spoilery musings )

All in all: not something I fell in immediate love with, but so far, so good, I'll keep watching.
selenak: (Seven by Cheesygirl)
( Sep. 28th, 2016 05:52 pm)
Back home with the APs, busy unpacking, washing, and soon, ironing; still, I've just had a first look at the Yuletide fandoms and characters tag list, and am pretty excited, since in addition to the requests I knew I'd make some more will be possible, due to other people kindly nominating the fandoms in question. Also, I'll be able to offer plenty. Currently I'm composing one list of fandoms I can offer to write in without caveats, and another for possible treats which I could write in, but only if a prompt pushes a button (and if there's enough time, of course).

(I also noticed someone nominated Sunset Boulevard and specifically Norma and Max, which made me smile, since I've written that story some years ago.)

While hiking through the Southern Tyrolian mountains I couldn't get online often, but I did notice the announcement that Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor himself, will be joining the cast of Sense8 next season. This makes me wildly curious as to which character JMS has written for him. (And the W's, naturally, but JMS is the one whom I know actually watched Classic Who for sure, so.) Also, are there any DW/Sense 8 crossovers in existence? Given Freema A. playing an important role in s1, there probably are, but I haven't checked out the fanfiction for ages.
Aka Big Finish using the fact they finally got license for the New Who characters, big time. This audio series consists of four episodes, about an hour long, each written by a different writer and with an overreaching story arc, though each adventure is more or less self contained as well. Continuity-wise, this seems to be post-Demon's Run, pre-Library (obviously) in River's time line. It also was conceived and produced before The Husbands of River Song was broadcast, I'd wager, because this River on her own while still capable of ruthlessness has a much stronger commitment to ethics than the one from the most recent Christmas Special.

Overall impression: enjoyable, Alex Kingston is great, of course, the guest voice actors are good, and so far it navigates around the inherent prequel problem of us knowing River's ending and the way she can't come face to face with any pre-Ten Doctor in a memorable way pretty well. When I heard that the Eighth Doctor guest stars in one of the episodes, I assumed he'll get yet another case of amnesia (because this keeps happening to Eight), but no, the writer of the episode in question solves the continuity problem another way. Go him! The season also, like Doctor Who itself, uses the opportunity to try different types of tropes.

Individual episodes:

The Boundless Sea, written by Jenny T. Colgan: allows River to start out depressed and shaken, instead of being the unflappable-no-matter-the-trauma guest star she usually is on DW. This not being season 6 of Buffy, she gets over it in the course of the episode's adventure, which is essentially a classical Universal horror story with walking mummies in Egypt (if you've read my Penny Dreadful reviews, you know this part satisfied an urge), complete with clueless (OR ARE THEY?) archaelogists and civil servants. The episode's "monster" is more like a tragic antagonist and also an obvious reflection/counterpart of River herself (originally entombed for the sake of her husband), though I'm not sure I buy what the script seems to be getting at. Introduces Alexander "Mordred from Merlin" Vlahos' character Bertie Potts.

I went to a marvellous party, written by Justin Richards: introduces the season's true antagonists, the self-styled "Rulers", who are the classic type of rich privileged callous bastards you love to boo-hiss at. Also a Christie-homage paying murder mystery and a con story. Alexander Siddig's character is a bit of a let down in that he's not around for long and doesn't interact with River much, but River solving the mystery while also tricking the "Rulers" and screwing them over was very satisfying to listen to.

Signs by James Goss: co-starring Samuel West, and essentially Gaslight in space. Very creepy for what is clear to the audience though not River (for plot reasons) from the start. Also inadvertendly supplying an additional explanation as to why River has trouble realising Twelve is the Doctor in The Husbands of River Song. West is good in a role that's spoilery, sweetie ). Not one to re-listen to, I don't think, though not because it's not good.

The Rulers of the Universe, written by Matt Fitton: in which the various plot threads from previous episodes come together, there's a showdown with two antagonists at once, both the "Rulers" and the ones introduced in "Signs", and River manages to work with the Eighth Doctor to save the day without actually meeting him, and yet they interact, sort of. (It's great team work, btw.) Both how River foils the Rulers and how the Doctor foils Those Other Guys are classic for the characters, and it's a good conclusion to this audio-season.

Wishes for season 2: has Big Finish the rights for Amy and Rory, too? Because I really truly want an episode long interaction between River and her parents post-reveal.
Big Finish has started doing dramatizations of the Doctor Who New Adventures novels that were published in the 1990s. Both audios I aquired in Britain feature the Seventh Doctor, but admittedly that was a minor reason for picking these two instead of others; I picked "All Consuming Fire" because it co-stars Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, and I picked "Damaged Goods" because the young Doctor Who fan turned writer responsible for the original novel was one Russell T. Davies.


Damaged Goods: [personal profile] londonkds told me that RTD hadn't wanted the novel to be republished once New Who hit the screens, which would have been an option, because he considered it too violent and dark for the kids. Having listened to the audio, which, googling a description of the novel tells me, Big Finish did brighten up a bit: no kidding. Even the Big Finish death score is still high, but that's actually the least of it (after all, both Old and New Who have the occasional episode where a lot of people die, if usually off screen - there was that time the Master wiped out a quarter of the galaxy back in Five's day, for example). It's the psychological and emotional darkness in one of the major plot threads.

Damaged Goods foreshadows a lot of later RTD, and not just because there's an estate family, last name Tyler, involved, joining Vince Tyler from Queer as Folk, Rose Tyler from DW and Johnny Tyler from The Second Coming. (I swear, if our Rusty ever writes a story set in the Stone Age, you can bet there will be a Neanderthal by the name of Ty-Ler.) The Doctor sends the TARDIS away early in the story because Reasons, and the action takes place entirely in late 80s Britain in a working class council estate. It's ensemble-tastic, and one of the major guest characters, David, is gay and after the male Companion, Chris. (The Companions, Chris and Roz, were from the New Adventures, I take it, not RTD original creations, but this is there debut in Big Finish; they're played by RTD veterans, Travis Oliver and Yasmin Bannerman.) Chris' subplot allows for a very RTD subversion of a certain cliché; at first, when Chris seems to ignore David's various code-spoken hints about "one of us", "a friend of Dorothy" etc., it seems like the conventional joke of a straight character not getting that a gay one is making a pass, but then, when David says "you really have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?", Chris impatiently retorts "yeah, I get that you're hitting on me, what I don't get is why you don't just ask instead of all this code talk" (because Chris isn't from the 1980s but from the future, where categories aren't relevant - hello, Jack). This, google tells me, in the novel leads to actual sex; Big Finish toned it down from a blow job to just snogging for the audio version (no blow job in Big Finish?), but either way, leave it to RTD to let the "Companion and guest character flirt" trope result in m/m for once.

(Otherwise, David is luckier than his novel counter part; spoilery fate comparisons ensue ))

The middle-aged mother figure is divided between the good one (working class Winnie Tyler) and the bad one (upper class Eva Jericho), though just how much Eva's actions are the result from her going bonkers for plot reasons and how much is character is up to debate. Because of a dialogue between Eva and her husband that reminded me a bit of the COBRA scene from Torchwood: Children of Earth where Denise Riley suggests statistics to deal with a certain selection (it's that type of class cruelty verbalized), I'm going with "character, with worst traits amplified due to plot" myself. Anyway, the Mrs. Jericho subplot is the one I was referring to when saying I get why this one isn't for children. (Otoh Eva in the audio has a moment of redemption she doesn't have in the novel, according to google.)

Other than Eva and the British class system, the antagonist/threat/menace of Damaged Goods is an ancient Gallifreyan weapon reminding us that the Time Lords had a spectacularly nasty imagination when it comes to creating these things. Spoilery plot detail discussed that connects this with New Who and Old Who alike ) There's also the dastardly scientist conducting experiments who shows up not just in RTD written stories, granted, but, this being an RTD story, turns out to be working for - well, that differs from the novel (which tied him to an ongoing New Adventures subplot) and the audio (which instead has him working for another Rusty creation, give you three guesses which one.) And various drug dealers, drugs being one of the plot threats mingling the late 80s estate setting with the sci fi. (The drug in the audio is called "Smile"; in the novel, it's plain old cocaine. The function is the same, plot wise.)

Doctor and Companions characterisation: this is a post-Ace, melancholic Seven, though he does indulge in a magic trick in order to get one of the kids to trust him. Roz is a classic no-nonsense sensible and compassionate RTD female; Chris comes across as a bit more reckless and less sensible, but he also does the emotional bonding with locals (and not just because David hits on him). Neither of them looks like they are in danger of making the Doctor the center of their universe. That Roz is black while Chris is white is mentioned two times, but otherwise doesn't impact the plot.

Pace: after establishing "The Quadrant", the estate in which most of the action takes place, it's pretty rapid, but with enough room for character and comedy scenes (the cultural misunderstanding between David and Jack, the somewhat tense situation between Winnie Tyler and her daughter Bev) and the pitch black dysfunctional marriage scene where Eva Jericho crosses the moral horizon and which RTD later cribbed for his Second Coming. (I checked; it seems to be identical in the original novel and the audio, not changed via adaption.)

In conclusion: worth listening to, even if it leaves you reeling, because the story does make you care about its characters.

All Consuming Fire: original novel by Andy Lane, also a later veteran, and in fact at least in the audio adaption a bit more heavy on the Sherlock Holmes side than on the Doctor Who side of crossover-dom. The first half is narrated entirely by Watson, Bernice Summerfield (the original space archaelogist with ties to the Doctor long before River Song was a blink in Stephen Moffat's eye) doesn't show up until the second half of the story, and Ace, minus two very brief cameos, not until the last 15 minutes. Before that point, it's Holmes and Watson on the case, occasionally running into a mysterious stranger defying the Sherlock Scan because Holmes can't tell anything about his origins other than the mud on his shoes not being from earth.

Within this premise, the story is, as I said, great fun. The Doctor is suitably enigmatic and twinkly for the occasion, Watson has the good taste of flirting with Bennie even if he's a bit taken aback by her forwardness, and Holmes is somewhat irritated by the Doctor but far too logical and pragmatic not to take help when it comes in useful. In a postmodern twist on Doyle's imperialist tropes, the dastardly Indian cult involved is actually a dastardly British Empire cult (and while Holmes and Watson are faithful subjects, they definitely don't agree with murder, hence aren't deterred from pursuing). And there are cats! What the Doctor does re: the cats at the end is one of my favourite things about the story.

Now I could nitpick that I seem to recall Sherlock Holmes was said to be a fictional character in the Whoverse as early as the Second Doctor's era, but who cares? Not this listener. Highly enjoyable.
selenak: (Boozing it up)
( Apr. 25th, 2016 05:32 pm)
I had a very exhausting week - in a good way, I hasten to add, but REALLY exhausting RL business -, and thus have fallen behind in my reviews. Will try to catch up with my shows tomorrow - well, some of them, since I've also got a ticket to the RSC Shakespeare thing they'll show in one of our Munich cinemas tomorrow night.

Saw the clip with the new Companion, am suitably amused and charmed, only disgruntled at the BBC for making us wait till Christmas.
selenak: (Missy by Yamiinsane123)
( Mar. 3rd, 2016 10:31 am)
Ian McShane has been cast as Mr. Wednesday in Bryan Fuller's tv version of American Gods. This is a gift from the casting heavens, and I'm now at the "I WANT IT NOW WHY ISN'T IT 2017 ALREADY" stage about this show.

However, it occurs to me that I should employ spoiler cuts when raving about how this is perfect, because not everyone has read Neil Gaiman's novel. Spoilers for American Gods, the book, ensue. )

Something else the casting reminded me off: someone really needs to write that crossover where Jimmy McGill meets Mr. Wednesday, for all the obvious reasons.

And now for a couple of fanfiction recs:

Doctor Who:

once upon a time in nazi-occupied france:

"He's sitting in a cafe in Vichy France (he was aiming for 2042) and waiting for his lunch when Missy plops down in the chair opposite him." This is a conversation they've had before, it's just the first time they've both been able to consider it.

In which the Twelfth Doctor, post Clara, meets Missy again. This is one of those stories which manages to do justice to the long history between the Doctor and the Master, and to write them specifically in these particular regenerations, not interchangable with earlier ones. It's perfect. (BTW, my favourite details is that Twelve got himself the flame throwing guitar from Mad Max, because he so would.)

Black Sails

Both recs are spoilery for 3.06, so with due deference to those friends on my list whom I've managed to convert into watching the show but who haven't arrived there yet, I shall hide them beneath a cut. )
Stephen Moffat stepping down (as of 2017) as showrunner of Doctor Who isn't that much of a surprise; he's had a long run, and while back during season 7 I felt he should have finished then, I'm really glad he didn't, because the Capaldi era felt revitalized and turned into my favourite part of his tenure.

The news that Chris Chibnall will take over, otoh, is something that leaves me with mixed emotions. A couple of years ago I would have been horrified, because I really disliked Chibnall's early Torchwood and early Doctor Who episodes. Otoh, not only did I like Torchwood's second season (which he did head), I also liked both his s2 opener, complete with old lady exclaiming "Bloody Torchwood!", and Adrift. And I really was impressed by by Broadchurch, season 1, which was all Chibnall, all the time, to give credit where due. (Otoh, Broadchurch, season 2, also all Chibnall, etc., was, err, where I quit watching, though mostly because making a story with a clear ending go on just because it had been that successful was exactly the bad idea you'd think it would be.) So basically: his DW era could be terrible, could be good, will probably be some of both.

However, one thing I can already predict: we'll get yet more rounds of "OMG this show runner so misogynist!" "But last showrunner so misogynist!" "How can you critique old/new showrunner for such and such when you liked new/old show runner's display of that and this!" "Fandom is so unfair to new showrunner while being blind to old show runner's flaws!" "Are you kidding? During old showrunner's tenure, the wanky complaints were endless, and now you're surprised new showrunner is in for some entirely reasonable criticism?" (Seriously, the way some Moffat-only and RTD-only fans seem to think that THEIR guy got all the fannish bile while the other guy had never been given that treatment baffles me. Of course, if you ever bring that up, you only hear "but it was totally justified in the case of X! Who still didn't get nearly the amount which Y was getting!" (Oh yes he did. Just from other people. Mostly.)

(And then there will be those who have hated on the previous two and will hate on the new one with equal ferveour, because that's fandom.)

Incidentally, I do hope Chibnall will write Olivia Coleman a role in DW, because Ellie (her detective on Broadchurch) is amazing, and he's that kind of crossover producer (as evidenced by the fact Broadchurch not only had David Tennant as the other lead but Arthur "Rory" Darvill in a key supporting role, and in s2 Eve Myles in a supporting role as well. AI definitely hope for some married couples, because Chibnall is good at established couples, their arguments, and their bond. As evidenced by both the Gwen and Rhys relationship on TW and the Latimers on Broadchurch.

Meanwhile, no Twelfth Doctor in 2016 until the next Christmas Special? Now THAT'S awful news. Rusty at least gave us an Easter special, Moff, when he was in a comparable situation. Come on.
Necesssary preamble: all of this is extremely subjective. What looks like a good arc for me doesn't have to look like one for you, ditto for chemistry being in the eye of the beholder, etc. And nothing is meant as a disparagement of your own favourites, choices, etc.

Vague spoilers for both DW tv series and Big Finish audios )

The other days
Which was great fun, with just the one touch of sadness necessary given the main characters and their history (and future). It just might displace The Runaway Bride as my favourite Christmas Special so far. It definitely overtook The Last Christmas from last year, though I had liked that a lot, and all the others, both Moffat and RTD era, with ease.

Men always believe stories in which they're the hero )

In conclusion: loved it unreservedly.
1. Your main fandom of the year?

I remain a multifandom woman. This year I said goodbye to some of my favourite shows, found several news ones , and maintained old attachments. Perhaps The Americans was one where I joined in the most discussions?

2. Your favourite film watched this year?

Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer ("The People vs Fritz Bauer"), about an amazing rl person, Fritz Bauer, German-Jewish, Social Democrat, gay, tries to get justice done against Nazis in 1950s and 1960s Germany where everyone is still in denial mode, and being gay is still illegal. Burkhart Klaußner is amazing in the title role. (And the movie is gutsy enough to open with a tv clip showing the real Fritz Bauer before we get introduced to Klaußner in the role, and there's no suspension of disbelief necessary.

3. Your favourite book read this year?

I did a lot of rereading of old favourites this year, but leaving those aside, probably Wind Raker, the fourth volume in the "Order of the Air" series by Jo Graham and Melissa Scott. This time, our heroes tackle archaeology, mystical dark forces and real life politics in Hawaii.

4. Your favourite TV show of the year?

Difficult to choose. The one which most surprised me by how much I fell in love with it was Better Call Saul. Because I had started to watch it solely because of the earned trust in the creative team from Breaking Bad; I didn't exactly burn with curiosity about Saul Goodman's origin story, Saul Goodman having been an amusing comic relief character in BB about whom I had no strong feelings one way or the other. But lo and behold, did I ever develop strong feelings for Jimmy McGill. Who is still funny (they'd never waste Bob Odenkirk's comedic talents), but also absolutely heartbreaking and incredibly endearing. And I like the ensemble, and the various complex relationships - Jimmy and Chuck, Jimmy and Kim (LOVE Kim, especially), Jimmy and Howard Hamlin, and, as a work in progress, Jimmy and Mike.

Now both Agent Carter and Jessica Jones I had hoped and expected to love (both the shows and the title characters), and so I did, so there wasn't the same element of surprise involved. The Americans had a painfully good third season and continues to feed my rage and award juries which ignore it. Bates Motel: ditto. Elementary gave me a great third season and while I'm not yet feeling the same level in the fourth, it still provides me with enough so I continue to love it. Doctor Who, after a lull in my fannish investment during the Eleventh Doctor era, made me fall for the Twelth Doctor, Clara Oswald and friends (and foes) all over again.

But really, in terms of "When did fondness become love? I must convert more people to watch this show, let me write that manifesto!", there can be only one choice: Black Sails. Dammit, pirates, how could I fall for you so hard!

5. Your favourite online fandom community of the year?

[community profile] theamericans, which I've shamefully neglected in recent months due to various matters. Must become better again when the new season starts!

6. Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

Black Sails I started last year, and Agent Carter and Jessica Jones weren't exactly new discoveries because I knew some of the characters of the former already via the MCU, and was familiar with the source material of the later. Better Call Saul was a spin-off from a show I was familiar with. So I shall look to one of my oldest fandoms, historical novels, and nominate [profile] sonetka's wonderful website with its witty and thorough overview of novels starring Anne Boleyn, The head that launched a thousand books.

7. Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

Once upon a Time, season 4, rivals with The Good Wife, season 6, for the title; The Good Wife wins, barely. I drew the consequences and quit both shows.

8. Your TV boyfriend of the year?

There are about a million reasons why dating Saul Goodman would be a bad idea, but Jimmy McGill, post-Slippin Jimmy, pre-Saul days? In a heartbeat. He's a movie buff, he's funny, he's kind, and he'd even into providing free pedicure for the work stressed woman.

9. Your TV girlfriend of the year?

Peggy Carter. Me and a million other people. But: Peggy! She's ultra competent, she's loyal, she has the art of sarcasm down to a t, she can love deeply without becoming all about one person, instead valuing other relationships as well, and she's gorgeous.

10. Your biggest squee moment of the year?

Norma Bates invites family and friends for supper in 3.07, ominously titled The Last Supper. But in fact it's as fluffy as any scene on this show could get... considering that two characters at the table have deeply traumatic rape history (with each other), another character is a budding serial killer, another is a corrupt cop, one is a profession drug smuggler with gigantic mommy issues, one is Norma Bates who is, well, Norma, and the only nonviolent, non-traumatized, non-trauma causing, nice and normal person on the table, Emma, has an illness which condems her to die in her 20s. And yet this manages to be an absolutely heartwarming, squee worthy moment. This show, I tell you.

11. The most missed of your old fandoms?

The Babylon 5 community has started a series review, but I just don't have the time right now. The recent silly (nothing wrong with that, but it was) trailer for the next Star Trek Reboot movie also made me nostalgic for my Trek, and for ye olde days of discussing DS9 episodes and themes at [profile] ds9agogo.

12. The fandom you haven’t tried yet, but want to?

I'm currently eying How to get away with Murder. Maybe I'll also dare the Hamilton juggernaut.

13. Your biggest fan anticipations for the New Year?

Bryan Fuller's version of American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman's novel (which I love). Season 2 of Agent Carter, season 4 of The Americans, season 3 of Black Sails, season 4 of Bates Motel (definitely); season 2 of Better Call Saul (hopefully).
selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
( Dec. 8th, 2015 08:50 pm)
'Ts the season to be sappy, even for noir detectives with backstory trauma, therefore, have this Jessica Jones post season 1 tale of Malcolm determined to spread some Christmas spirit to Jessica (and Robyn):

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Doctor Who:

Why Peter Capaldi is the Über Doctor: not sure I agree re: the previous ones not deliberately echoing predecessors, but it's still a neat appraisal.

And lastly, a non-fannish tale:

Svetlana Alexejievich's Novel Prize lecture: impressive, like the woman's books.
Honestly, I have no idea yet how I feel about all of this. There's probably somewhwere some great meta to be written about all echoing and contrasting and deconstructing and reconstructing of Previous Events (particularly two from the RTD era, but by no means exclusively; Moffat's own stuff comes heavily in for it as well, plus some Old Who tropes and the TV Movie Of Doom, oh, and the Big Finish canon, too). But I'm not up for writing said meta yet (horribly real life business!), so just a few impressions, as per usual. For the most part, it emotionally worked for me... I think.

Read more... )
The one wherein the Moff shows he REALLY trusts his leading actor. A lot.
Bird! )
Above cut unspoilery comment: a new scriptwriter, a new female scriptwriter, and one whom as opposed to Catherine Tregenna I don't recall writing for either DW or Torchwood before, though I may have missed something: welcome, Sarah Dollard! And an excellent episode, too, which was good not just because it needed to be, given one point of the content, but because of the Mark Gatiss penned rubbish last week having followed the "loved some parts, hated others" Zygon two parter. I was more than ready for an episode I could value completely again.

All other emotional reactions would be spoilerly, and hence they go beneath a cut. )
I was very RL busy these last view days, which included travelling and limited internet access. And then Paris happened, about which no adequate thing can be said. For all these reasons as well as the actual content, the following two reviews are a bit on the terse side.

Elementary 4.02.: Meh. Read more... )

Doctor Who 9.06: The first standalone episode this season. Penned by Mark Gatiss, feeling very much like Gattis trying to write a Moffat type standalone ep and failing, and it makes me mumble what I nearly always do with Gatiss written episodes (there are two or so exceptions): please, please, please, stick to acting. I really like you as an actor. As a writer... sigh. Read more... )
The first one written by Peter Harness, the second by Peter Harness and Stephen Moffat. Now that the two parter is complete, I think....

Read more... )

So basically: this was the two parter of very mixed feelings for me, and by this I don't mean a case of "hm" but a case of "I hate this" and "I love this" both.
selenak: (Bardolatry by Cheesygirl)
( Nov. 1st, 2015 09:36 am)
No Doctor Who review this week, because it's another two parter, and in this case what I think of it REALLY depends on what the solution will be, because the allegory is really heavy handed and potentially disastrous.

However, last night I watched the latest cinematic version of the Scottish Play, aka the one with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

Thoughts: overall, this strikes me as director Justin Kurzel's GrimDark Shakespeare fanfiction, err, vid. Not that Macbeth is a bundle of laughs in any case, and any screen Shakespeare ends up having lots of lines cut (unless it's Kenneth Branagh wanting to make a point about Hamlet), but not so coincidentally, this Macbeth is lacking any and all of what few lighter moments there are. Which means no porter scene at all, no precocious Macduff kids chattering away before doom arrives. Considering the porter scene in particular is always held up as evidence of Shakespeare being a genius (i.e. it's the most suspenseful, tense moment of the play, Macbeth has just committed regicide, there's KNOCKING, and suddenly! Drunk Comedy Scene!), this tells you something about Kurzel (and his scriptwriter team's) idea of how to do drama versus good old Will's.

Otoh team Kurzel even added to the body count, ways of execution and motivation. The opening scene is a funeral for the Macbeths' child (thereby solving ye olde contradiction between "I have given suck" and "he has no children" in ways that doesn't evoke actual history, where historical Lady Macbeth, Gruach, had a child by her first marriage), watched over by the witches who speak a few lines from the play's opening scene, and the implication that losing their child is partly what motivates the Macbeths and already started to unhinge them is there through the rest of the movie. The opening funeral scene later is doubled, and this one goes beneath a spoiler cut because it's in the last third, Kurzel-only, and maybe someone does care to be spoilered. How Kurzel explains Lady Macbeth losing it completely. )

Speaking of history, though, the movie attempts to go for a "primitive Scotland" atmosphere by excising any and all contemporary to Shakespeare stuff. Except for the royal castle in the second half of the movie, there aren't any castles at all, Macbeth while he's still a thane has a settlement of wooden huts/houses. (Lady M's reference to "my battlements" is duly gone as well.) No dialogue between the Doctor and the Not!Lady in waiting (who is reduced to a silent female companion of the queen's). Oh, and (entirely correctly) no kilts, in case you feared there were. Though everyone but Cotillard goes for a Scottish accent, which is wavering in Fassbender's case, though the rest is more steadfast.

Acting: Fassbender does his thing of intense brooding with undercurrent of emotional turnmoil, which he does as easily as breathing, but because that's already how he STARTS, there isn't much of an emotional arc. Also the film is the type of Macbeth production which actually visualizes M's hallucinations. (I've seen productions where the dead Banquo actually shows up, and productions where he doesn't, and let me tell you, the later always worked better for me. And showing the dagger Macbeth imagines never is as good as relying on your leading man, not to mention it patronizes the audience.) Marion Cottillard isn't as hard as she could be early on, nor really insane and in pieces later. She doesn't sleepwalk, she returns to what used to be the Glamis estate and speaks all the lines of the sleepwalking scene awake as if musing about her past, until the camera reveals that spoiler cut just in case. ) In a movie that's GRIM with capital letters, it comes across as an odd restraint or maybe as the wish to keep your leading lady sympathetic.

Another thing: this is a movie with a fondness for male cheek touching, forehead touching, and men cradling each other. When the messengers arrive with news for Macbeth and Banquo, Macbeth is busy cradling a fellow warrior whom Banquo patches up. Duncan cradles Macbeth's cheek (and before that of the rebellious previous thane of Cawdor while pronouncing sentence on him), Macbeth and Banquo do it to each other, Macbeth holds the slain Duncan and so forth. You get the impression someone really really liked both the "I know it was you!" scene between Michael and Fredo from Godfather II and Craig!Bond's thing for cradling people ('Vesper, Mathis, M) a lot. Or, to put my highbrow hat on, Kurzel is going for a correlation between death and physical expression of affection. (Not surprisingly, the Macbeths end up having sex while conspiring Duncan's murder.)

Influences of previous film versions: Polanski for the final twist. No, it's not Ross as in Polanski, but Fleance, but the implication is the same. (And presumably Team Wurzel wanted to tie up the Witches' prophecy re: Banquo's issue, presumably correctly assuming that most of their target audience don't know Banquo's issue were meant to be the Stuart dynasty.) The famous 1970s Trevor Nunn production (that starred Judi Dench and Ian McKellen and still is my favourite of the play) for individualizing the Witches and going for mother-maiden-crone, though Wurzel also adds a silent child witch and a baby for good measure.

Unholy influence of Zack Snyder: slo mo and frozen battle scenes and key points intercut by fast moving ones.

Trivia: you know, Tolkien came up with the Ents because as a boy he was disappointed when the "when Birnham Wood comes up to Dunsinane" prophecy didn't get fulfilled by the trees literally moving towards Dunsinane? Tolkien would have been horrified by Wurzels innovation on how the prophecy gets fulfilled, but it makes for the showdown visual he wants. Spoilery explanation why. )

In conclusion: not a must among Shakespeare film versions, and I've watched both Fassbender and Cotillard doing better, but it should provide a lot of vid makers with material.
Darth Real Life keeps me relentlessly busy these days, but I had to share this thing of joy which [personal profile] andraste provided me with:



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