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:

An episode which I loved despite there hardly being any Clara in it. (This obviously was the annual Companion-lite episode, which makes me wonder whether the next one will be the Doctor-lite ep.) Also, before I get to the actual content, an embarrassing (for the BBC) drumroll for the fact that Catherine Treganna, who wrote some of the best Torchwood episodes (Out of Time and Captain Jack Harkness in season 1, Meat and Adam in season 2), with this episode becomes the first female scriptwriter in the Moffat era. (The RTD era wasn't exactly stellar re: female scriptwriters, either, but Rusty did have Helen Raynor on DW and both Catherine Treganna and Helen Raynor on Torchwood.) Before I saw Catherine Treganna's name, I hadn't known she's written for this season, since I try to stay spoiler free in all regards and thus avoid the publicity. It was a very welcome surprise and a very fitting assignment, given the obvious thematic parallels between this episode and especially Out of Time. And a last above cut remark: Maisie Williams really rose to the task of her character, which was a different one than last episode.

Read more... )
selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
( Oct. 19th, 2015 06:54 pm)
Back from Frankfurt Book Fair, barely, totally wrung out, hence briefly some impressions of the episode in which the Doctor and Clara meet Arya Stark a girl.

Read more... )
selenak: (Boozing it up)
( Oct. 11th, 2015 05:53 pm)
Part two of the unexpected two parter.

Read more... )
Toby Whithouse! You're back - and despite the occasional objection to some of your Being Human narrative decisions, still my candidate from the currently involved writers to take over from Moffat. BH icon used in your honor.

Read more... )
In which glasses are cool. :)

Read more... )
selenak: (Ten and Donna by Trolliepop)
( Sep. 25th, 2015 10:50 am)
This already made my day: Big Finish, having at last secured the rights to New Who characters as well, will give us more Donna and Tenth Doctor adventures. My absolutely favourite Doctor and Companion combination from the New Who era returns! More magical Tate & Tennant banter: these two had such superb comic timing together, even off screen when they did radio interviews, so I'm pretty confident Ten and Donna will translate well to the audio format.

In conclusion: I'm a happy, happy Doctor Who fan this morning. YES!
I'm all conferenced out; yesterday was the last day, and in the evening I had the chance to catch the Doctor Who season premiere on BBC America. Since my head still half crowded with academia and the transatlantic sense of being out of time hasn't abated yet (and won't have a chance to, since I'm flying back today), I'm feeling a bit groggy, so excuse any incoherence or inconclusiveness.

Spoiler realise a Big Finish audio has just gotten jossed )
selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
( Aug. 30th, 2015 07:39 pm)
I was on the road the entire day, but some delightful fanworks were awaiting:

Doctor Who:

Pompeii: fantastic vid about Clara and Twelve. This last season clicked for me in a way no other Moffat season has done, and the relationship between the Twelfth Doctor and Clara is a big part way, along with Clara (present day Clara) coming into focus for me and gong from generic Companion to highly individual unmistakable CLARA. This vid captures a lot about Clara and the Doctor, and why I'm looking forward to the new season starting in a few weeks!

Once upon a Time/Once upon a Time in Wonderland:

The White Queen's Quest: what really happened with Will and Ana post -Wonderland and during the fourth season of OuaT. The way Will was (not) used and there was zilch explanation about Ana, when their story had been my favourite storyline of the spin-offs one season, wasn't my only issue with s4 of OuaT, not by far. But it's one fanfiction can fix, and this is a great example.

(BTW, I've aquired the third season of OuaT on dvd and am looking forward to a rewatch. Because I still love the first three seasons, and am curious to find out whether the third season, which during broadcast I thought was best and should have been the conclusion, still feels that way going back.)

Black Sails:

The Sundering Sea: novel-length, amazing fanfiction which can't be described in an unspoilerly for season 2 way, since it's set afterwards. Spoiler cut. )
selenak: (Three and Brig by Ellisbelle)
( Aug. 15th, 2015 06:53 pm)
LJ really seems determined to drive everyone away, doesn't it? Sigh. I hate the new "feed" design.

From the trivial to the infuriating: Jeb Bush won't rule out the use of torture should he become president. Well, naturally. The amazing thing is that he admits it. But this reminds me again that Dubya, Cheney & Co. are all walking around free and wealthy and not ever threatened by being treated as war criminals, and despite of all the years of getting used to it, it's as infuriating as ever.

Oh, and some of them even are lined up to create more misery and disaster in the next administration: Paul Wolfowitz takes a swim.

Real life politics being that depressing, it's always good when fandom comes through. Have a vid rec:

Doctor Who: Survivors: joyful vid about the Companions and their post-Doctor lives and connections. Yay!
I'd heard good rumours about it for years, but this week I finally managed to read Ben Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London", the first volume of what I take is an ongoing saga.

Previously I had known Ben Aaronovitch as a Doctor Who scriptwriter - he's responsible for Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield, both Seventh Doctor and Ace adventures -, so the DW nods didn't surprise me. But I think I'd have liked this book regardless. It's urban fantasy, with a hero, Peter Grant, who's a young officer with the London Met and runs into supernatural goings on early in the novel, with the result that he's simultanously engaged in solving a vicious murder series and becoming an apprentice wizard. And he has to broker peace between the female and the male divine embodiment of the River Thames.

The casual interaction with deities (and the fact that you can become one - Mama Thames started out as a Nigerian woman, while Father Thames started out as a Roman-era Briton) had some Neil Gaiman echoes for me, though it may simply be drawings from the same mythological sources. Peter Grant, our hero, is black, as are Mama Thames and her daughters (and that's how Selena after a few decades of visiting London, learns there are small underground and some above ground rivers flowing from or into the Thames). This is very much today's London, but at the same time, the novel evokes tropes (one of Peter's superiors is a grumpy Northerner from Yorkshire, because of course he is). There's a lot of humor, but the seriousness of the crimes is truly hard hitting. Especially once two of the characters who looked like they would be regulars get endangered, and yours truly suddenly thinks, damm, British series, I shouldn't take anyone's survival for granted, Spooks alert, X and Y might actually die! But please, not Y! I LIKE Y.

I shan't tell you whether or not Y survives, because I like sharing my agonized suspense. Instead, I'll praise another aspect of the book, which is the of St. Paul's in Covent Garden, the actors' church, and a particular obscure bit of British theatrical history. The play's the thing, indeed. I had my suspicions before the reveal, but fairly played, book.

The novel wraps up both cases our hero is involved with but certainly sets up enough to make me curious about further adventures. Not yet in a "must have immediately" manner, but if I find time - *eyes ever growing staple of recced books* - I will read more.
Some books you read only once, for reasons ranging from boredom to lack of time to being too emotionally shattered. Others, and for me all the books I really care about, you read on a rush the first time, and then, after a break, more leisurely the second time, savouring them detail for detail. (And then there are the third and fourth etc. times...)

I just finished my second read-through of a book I aquired during my end of April short trip to London after attending the book launching, Roz Kaveney's Tiny Pieces of Skull. Now I've known (and loved) [personal profile] rozk's poetry, her fanfiction and the fantastic (in both senses of term) Rituals of Blood saga, but this is the first non-fantasy prose of hers I've read. The narrative voice - witty, sharp, deeply humane - is recognizably the same. Simultanously, the story in relation to her other work feels like the experimental episodes like Hush, Restless, The Body or Once More, With Feeling did on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if that makes sense - something in a new/different format, which is at the same time a different type of genre.

Tiny Pieces of Skull is a novel set (and originally written) in the late 70s, a comedy of manners (the subtitle "A Lesson in Manners" isn't just irony), an entry in the "Traveller abroad" genre - and a stunning evocation of a key point of LGTB history, for all the characters in this novel except for a few minor supporting characters are trans. Our heroine, Annabelle, starts the plot by deciding on a gamble and follows her American friend Natasha's invititation to come and live with her in Chicago. Before you know it, Annabelle is stuck in Chicago with no money and no Natasha, but also with a refusal to give up and a talent to encounter a rich gallery of fascinating characters, some endearing and funny, some terrifying, all highly memorable and described in superb language. A few choice quotes.

"Her legs went on forever, without pausing even momentarily to be a bum."

"He pecked Natasha dexterously where his moustache and her lip-gloss would not contaminate each other"

"By now Chicago was America for her, far more convincingly than New York had ever been. New York was still The City, as was London. Both were Babylon, rich in ivory, silver, gold and the souls of men; both were prosperous and fallen. Chicago lacked that sense of scale and of the metaphysical. It was provincial, and knew its limits."

Like I said: the first time I read this, I was busy at different points chuckling, gasping (because even without any supernatural elements, there is some terrifying stuff going on there on occasion) and wanting to know what happened next: the second time, I found myself lingering over the gorgeous language. I can't wait for the third time, for this is a slender volume, easily something you can take with you travelling, which I'm about to do again next week.


First season 9 of Doctor Who trailer! Considering the last season became my favourite of the Moffat seasons (and the only one I aquired on DVD), this makes me very happy.
Day 27 - What would you cross over with Star Trek?

Somewhat late, because I was away from any internet yesterday until late at night, but here we go. Well, considering I've already written the crossovers in question, obviously I would cross over Star Trek with Torchwood and Doctor Who, just Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars.

The advantage with Doctor Who especially is that between all the various Doctors and companions on the one hand, and all the various incarnations of Star Trek on the other, you have such a rich, infinite variety of combinations for encounters to choose from, so the two DW crossovers certainly won't be my last. It's also the crossover that's currently do-able on screen, technically (if the BBC and whoever owns Paramount now - Sony? - could ever come to licence terms), and I dimly seem to recall that there was a fannish rumor in the RTD era that a plan for such a crossover existed.

But an on screen encounter would probably not include the character interaction I'm interested in, so never mind that, and let's stay hypothetical and fanfiction minded entirely. Since time travel exists in the Star Trek universe, you can even cross it over with historical fandoms. (Fandoms with immortal characters can bring these into the ST future, of course.) So basically there's no fandom I wouldn't cross over with Star Trek. Infinite variety in infinite combinations, after all.

The other days )
selenak: (Katniss by Monanotlisa)
( Jan. 10th, 2015 12:52 pm)
Breaking Bad:

Article about R.J. Mitte, the young actor who played Walter Junior/Flynn in Breaking Bad. The other day I've come across a wisecrack again that Junior/Flynn gets no characterisation in the show beyond liking breakfast, and that's rubbish. He's not a main character, but he's a part of what made Breaking Bad great - here's a very good discussion of what the show does with him - and acting wise, I can think of no higher compliment than by the time we get to Ozymandias in season 5, R.J. Mitte is able to hold my attention for his character and his character's reactions in what is arguably the show's finest hour when all the main characters and their actors bring on their A-Game.

Buffy and The Hunger Game:

Katniss, Buffy and the cost of heroism

and the earlier:

Mockingjay and Season 6:

Both have spoilers for the entire Hunger Games book trilogy, so if you're a movies only fan and don't want to be spoiled for the second half of Mockingjay, beware. Otherwise, good posts pointing out the thematic similarities. I don't agree with all the points re: the movie adaptions, but these posts are very thought inspiring.

Doctor Who:

And lastly, a fun viewing: Dancing to the Doctor Who theme at the Cardiff airport in 1979!
With the disclaimer that this is prone to change depending on mood except for the first two, and is in no particular order:

1) Scooby Road by [personal profile] luminosity. Still the most awesome vid of them all, not only if you're a fan of BtVS and of the Beatles, and I am both. My detailed ravings on it are here.

2.) Ophelia, a Babylon 5 vid. I'll forever be glad to have lured [personal profile] andraste into B5, and not just because she makes fabulous vids, but this vid - about the dead women and the way they return on the show - is definitely a part of why.

3.) Blank Space: a more recent favourite, to my mind, the best Doctor/Master vid to date, encompassing both Old and New Who.

4.) Savages: a magnificent vid that beautifully captures all I loved about The Borgias. (Not so coincidentally based on the first two seasons.)

5.) Virgin: it's Vorenus/Antony, yes, and I do have a soft spot for that pairing, but better than that, it's about Rome and Rome, and captures the essence of both.

6.) On your wings: Doctor Who again, this time a vid portraying one of my all time favourite companions, Ace. And beautifully so.

7.) The Unforgiven Ones: Battlestar Galactica, Ellen and Cavil, the Five and the Seven; a short vid that packs an incredible punch.

8.) We didn't start the fire: still BSG, this time on the hilarious side. I love this to bits, and the identifications (Lee as the Cather in the Rye! Laura Roslin as Richard Nixon! Athena as Lawrence of Arabia!) reliably crack me up every time.

9.) Half Acre: incredibly beautiful Six Feet Under vid that uses Claire's art to frame the entire show.

10.) Runner: aka the Connor from Angel character study which made me go "here I wrote lengthy posts about him and the vid makes all my points much better, and then some"!

December Talking Meme: The Other Days


selenak: (Default)


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