Archive for April, 2008

Reverse The Polarity! Issue 26

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008


It’s bigger on the inside!

Temporal engineering is surely the only way to explain how Alex has managed to fit such an embarrassment of riches into what is still a relatively slim volume. An interview, articles, reviews, artwork, comic strips and cartoons – there’s even a crossword, for heavens sake! You can keep your official activity books – get RTP! instead.

But to get inside, you must first get past the cover.


Are we about to read RTP! 26, or Doctor Who and the Sorcer’s (sic) Weapon?  It’s wonderful to see RTP! with a colour cover and always charming to see some artwork from a young and enthusiastic fan, but in this case the result is definitely less than the sum of its parts.  What we actually have is a landmark full-colour cover which looks as if it’s been hand-drawn by a young and enthusiastic fan.  Instead of taking the opportunity to enhance RTP!’s own brand by adding colour to that sharp masthead logo, we see it instead shrunk and stuck somewhere near the bottom – in black and white!  Cropping, angling, or drop-shadowing the illustration might have helped to make it an element of, rather than becoming the cover so that RTP!’s traditionally clean typography could still have been maintained.  Never mind there’s always the back cover, where we have – a black and white illustration! (An extremely good one, but another missed opportunity for colour, regardless).


Alright, we’re now inside, and despite the terrifyingly narrow outside page margin (getting to the end of right-hand sentences is like playing chicken with the page edge, at times) RTP! 26 is, as usual, a delight.  As implied earlier, there’s far too much on offer to do justice to in a short review – but three of the main features deserve focussing upon.

If the 8 page first part of ‘The Tower of Angum’ was a film, I’d have to say that it’s stylishly directed; with the panel composition and content both innovative and adept at communicating the story visually.  I’m looking forward to Part 2.


James Grant’s reply (or rebuttal?) to Lorna Fleming’s recent TSV article ‘Planet of Fear’ is a well-researched piece which could so easily have become inflammatory, or at the very least pedantic.  In fact, the Fleming TSV article is not just deconstructed with sensitivity and respect, but Grant offers equally fascinating alternative theories and observations for us to mull over.  Articles like this show how much Fandom has grown up – leaving behind the days when differences of opinion often seemed centred on whether a story, Doctor or entire ‘era’ was ‘crap’ or not.


Speaking of intelligent opinion, the Morgan Davie interview also contains many thoughtful and balanced views on Fandom and writing in general. Davie also communicates the enviable excitement of living in Britain as the ‘new series tsunami’ built and broke in 2005 – something the rest of us can only imagine.


I’ll close by urging that everyone contribute to the always excellent ‘Fanboy Confidential’ at least once in their lives.  It’s enormous fun, a cornerstone of RTP! and, as compiler Peter Adamson says:

“When we share, we heal.”



Sphere of Influence

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Slaves to the Music or Bad Things Happen to Ood People

Spoilers follow… (more…)

Dear Tosh…

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Ooh. Spoilers. (more…)


Sunday, April 20th, 2008

From Outpost Gallifrey:

‘Unofficial figures show that episode three of Series Four, Planet of the Ood, was watched by 86.9 million viewers, giving it a 33.4% share of the total television audience.’

This makes Planet of the Ood the most-watched Doctor Who episode of all time, beating the previous champion, City of Death Episode 4, by more than 70 million viewers.

Top 10 US Series 3 Edits

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Due to some unallowed content , the commentary for the episode The Last of the Time Lords was removed for the US Series Three box set. This is well known, this wasn’t the only change. And so, we present the Top 10 changes for the US Series Three Box Set.

  1. Freema Agyeman was digitally replaced with Jessica Simpson, as the American audience expects companion actresses to be a) blonde (to a degree) and b) have had a failed singing career.

  2. Gridlock now takes place in the Holland Tunnel and is “based on real events”.

  3. The Beatles question in 42 has been replaced with a British group the Americans do know: The Spice Girls.

  4. There is an extra features praising the US for getting involved in the War in Iraq and everything they do is wonderful, and please don’t bomb the UK next.

  5. There is an alternative Angle option on the two Daleks Take Manhattan episodes which feature waving American Flags in Every Single Shot! Just like in every US show!

  6. Just so no-one feels like they are missing out (no viewer left behind!), whenever Mr Saxon is mentioned, there is a ten second pause, and scrolling text that reads “This is an important arc-plot point! Mr Saxon will be revealed to be the Master, who shows up at the end of the series!”

  7. There is an extra commentary on Blink assuring American watchers that yes, it is possible to have TV this decent.

  8. [Reference to “guns in schools” feature removed due to sudden attack of taste.]

  9. There is an hour long documentary about how the British term is Series and the American term is Season. Guest presenter: Adam McGechan.

  10. And, of course, the US Box Set doesn’t feature the ten hours of intro scenes and logos everyone else has to suffer through.


The Big-Bang Teary

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

It’s episode 2, it’s a historical, and it has a big SFX finale. Sound familiar? It’s no lie to say that The Fires of Pompeii follows the tried and true formula of previous seasons, but happily manages to mine deeper and darker than romps around Scottish castles and the Globe Theatre.

The episode started a little like it was heading down an Up Pompeii route, with our ‘oh so very modern’ family discussing modern art and teenage hangovers. Luckily, no phallic vegetables presented themselves, and just as it was about to get all ‘Ancient Sexy Money’ on us, the early fluffy tone came crashing down with soothsayer prophecies of returning women and things on backs. Obviously another nod to the series arc, and of the return of Rose, but ‘something on your back’? The fanboy in me automatically thought ‘Metebelis Spiders!’, but then I had a lie down and dismissed it. A great scene though – unsettling, ominous and just what was required to really get the episode started.


The journey however wasn’t without bumps – this episode is filled with characters, so many in fact that a fair few of them get next to no screen time (particularly the members of the sisterhood, and the son and daughter). The plot also feels rushed in parts, the alien threat playing second fiddle to the moral dilemma present throughout. Still, it makes a nice change not for it to be all about the monsters, and I’ll forgive any episode that references a story 44 years previous.


Tennant was his usual good self (downplaying more than usual, even when paired with a water pistol and lava puns), and Catherine Tate built on a good start, though with not really much to do except run. That said, her role as the Doctor’s conscience is a great place for her character to be, and the ending with the Doctor admitting that he needed her was really quite lovely. Good to see some good emotional range from Tate as well, proving through a teary moment that she’s more than just an loud amusement. Donna crying in episode 2… who’d have picked it?


Kudos too for the art direction and visual effects. The location filming on the Rome sets really gives the episode space and an excellent sense of realism, and the mountain and subsequent eruption thereof were stunning. The rock monsters are also beautifully rendered (looking very Balrog-esque, and every bit as good), and from a make-up perspective, the leader of the sisterhood is absolutely brilliant and quite terrifying.


This series really does seem different to the previous 3 – I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet, but it just seems more… adult. Which is ironic, given fat monsters and the appearance of Tate, but there does seem to be a much darker undercurrent with the series so far compared to what I think we’ve seen before. If it keeps going this way, then I cannot think what the finale is going to be like. Dark as hell hopefully.

So we’re two down, both with good pass marks, and with next week looking Ood-tastic.  


Fat Friends

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Am I Bovvered?


I suppose in many ways we shouldn’t be too surprised by Partners in Crime, it follows a pattern of season openers over the past few years.  We’ve had Cat nurses, Intern companions, and now an alien midwife; we’ve had relatively non-threatening (misunderstood?) female villains, with this year’s silent security heavies mirroring last year’s silent biker types; we’ve got the usual family business, with the obligatory harridan mother; vertical shenanigans with tall buildings/lifts/stairwells/cleaners’ hoists etc.  It’s always window dressing for the main event, new Doctor, new companion, new look, new direction, new meme.  Sarah Lancashire did an adequate job channelling Supernanny, but really all eyes were resting, nervously, on Catherine Tate.


‘Ginga’ companions have had a bit of a chequered history (despite some staunch support): Mel, BBC Books’ “Ginger Whinger” Compassion, and now Donna.  Apart from hair colour and fan dissatisfaction, they have a few things in common, they tend to be forthright, opinionated, straight talking, and occasionally shrill.  Even before her return there was quite a bit of fan angst after her hijinx last Christmas.  She was too much a caricature, too silly, too unbelievable, too thick, too unlikeable, too unlikely, and just too much!  And she still is!  But perhaps in a good way.  There is thankfully no Doctor-love angst, and Donna’s simple and direct style may be just the thing to crack the more dark and moody aspects of the Doctor’s nature, while she isn’t the companion to win the Doctor’s heart, she may be the one with a chance of understanding what makes him tick, and this will counterpoint the dark and moody road ahead… Because Donna’s story is going to end in tears.  Not essentially in terms of fan reaction, but because that’s how Rusty works.  Tragedy, tears of a clown, the dramatic impact of killing of the comedy relief.  Given his past form her “100 years” comment could only be foreshadowing something.


Similarly the business end of this episode is the bookending that seems to have been missed by many.  While the Doctor and Donna continually missing each other got a bit tiresome relatively quickly, there was a brilliant payoff (even if it was only in mime), but it was also reflected by the surprise cameo at the end.  Looking for the Doctor, and just missing him, and probably continuing to do so for the rest of the season to come.



Spuds You Like!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen we have some winners!

After rounds and rounds and bouts and bouts the victors have been determined in ZeusBlog’s inaugural Monster Mash – and it’s the Sontarans ! In far-off Cardiff a producer is probably hoo-raying quietly to himself, safe in the knowledge that this year’s baddies could beat up last year’s baddies.

It could also mean that you lot are a bunch of rabid traditionalists. But we wouldn’t dream of suggesting that. Oh no :)

Monster Mash has been a great success though, and for that the blog thanks you all, from those who stuck with it since day one (most of you), to our newest participant (Hi Jon!). With participation like this we can hope that a future interactive game like, say, Robot Wars might have a real chance of being every bit as good.

In the mean-time there is a the small issue of the utter losers in this game – those teams who fell at the first hurdle (all sixteen of them). What do you think, readers – should we put them in a jar together and see if they fight, or do we try to empirically* determine which is the biggest loser?

Speak now!

(* No I don’t know what empirically means. It’s something that isn’t metric, right?)

OBUpgrade Post

Monday, April 7th, 2008

This blog is now running the latest version of WordPress, so if you notice anything odd (like suddenly being logged out) that’s why.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Parting Shots

Sunday, April 6th, 2008


So this is it. After twelve exciting(?) episodes, it comes down to this. One man, one team, and one fridge. (They really should have a decent check of those things. Half of them probably contain Jack going one way or the other.) It’s typical of the series that it reveals “oh, this was worked in long ago, only no-one said anything”. How fortunate. It’ll part and parcel of the last episode that is Jack… I mean Torchwood. Although it really is Jack. This whole series is Jack, to be honest, with minor diversions, so it’s not too surprising that Jack is ultimately the cause of all the troubles here. Frankly, I’m surprised events haven’t been retconned into having that Jack was the reason Torchwood was created in the first place!

But aside from that plot which wraps itself up easily without real impact, we have the other plot of one man, one woman, and one nuclear power station. While it starts as a convenient ticking clock for the plot, it soon develops into one of the harshest character moments of all. Dear, dear Tosh and Owen. Although Owen’s been running on borrowed time, what did Tosh ever do to anyone? One could argue that without Owen, her character arc didn’t really have anywhere to go, meaning she was an easy choice for dramatic impact (and the Declassified does remake the point that no-one makes it past 35 in Torchwood, so someone will have to die sooner or later), I think we all know that the real reason Tosh was chosen was because they couldn’t kill Gwen and Tosh was the only choice left for a death the audience might care about. I’m sure they got their tears with that decision. (Owen’s death was frankly housekeeping, and should have happened several episodes earlier, but he probably had a contract to fulfill…) [In the Declassified Burn says that no-one wants a twelve minute syrupy death scene... just as well everyone threw out their stop watches in series one then!]

Basically, this episode was two plot lines, with Gwen, Ianto and Captain John shoehorned in (not to mention Rhys and PC Andy). Yes, it’s nice to focus on the characters, but once again Torchwood proves that the team is too large to really have an effective story involving all of them. Perhaps this is why it was whittled down. That is, if it stays whittled. If there is a series three, there is a little bird tweetering about who could be coming in, but if so that will be a huge change in style. The leading question for this might be: what’s more important, style or ratings? And then, will it really be Torchwood? Then again, seeing what we have, so we want this Torchwood anyway?

Yes, there have been some great moments, but this episode does prove that there is still some focusing of the series that needs to be done.