Saturday, 29 April 2017

Thames television

Well as I said last week, Doctor Who tends to introduce a new companion (and even new Doctors, come to think of it) with a specific trio of episodes, and although a couple of companions (Martha and Donna) got their historical episode before they went into space, Bill follows the majority by getting her trip to the past in her third episode. And unlike the space episodes, "Thin Ice" has some generally decent ones to follow. Fortunately it's the third hit in a row in Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi's final series.

"Thin Ice" by Sarah Dollard, directed by Bill Anderson. Spoilers after the cut.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Car park in the sky

It's pretty much the template for a new companion on new Doctor Who: Their introductory episode takes place in present-day Earth, the second goes to the far future - generally a human colony post-Earth's destruction - and the third returns to Earth and goes back in time, introducing the companion and any new viewers to the general format.

It also seems to be as much of a template for that second, space-set episode to be a bit of a confusing mess, so "Smile" is a pleasant surprise to the point of almost being a format-breaker.

"Smile" by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, directed by Lawrence Gough. Spoilers after the cut.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Puddle vision

You'd think the start of the final Steven Moffat series of Doctor Who, heavily trailed and with a lot of publicity around the first openly gay companion, would be something to get excited about. But that would be to underestimate the ability of those BBC1 "One-ness" idents to suck any sense of enthusiasm out of whatever it is you're about to watch.

"The Pilot" by Steven Moffat, directed by Lawrence Gough. Spoilers after the cut.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Book review: Norse Mythology

I used to be a big reader but have fallen out of the habit lately; I generally read on trains and buses but I'm easily distracted there so have recently tended to just watch something with the earphones in to block noise out. But I should probably try to catch up on the books I actually want to read, and with a couple of favourite authors having new (and not that long) books out now's a good time. Neil Gaiman is of course a fan of weaving various mythologies into his fiction but the Norse myths have turned up more often than most so they're clearly favourites of his. He retells the stories in Norse Mythology, which aims to create a single narrative out of them. Compared to most mythologies there aren't many surviving stories of the Norse gods, and they mostly revolve around Odin's immediate family and especially Thor and Loki. So they do lend themselves to being told as a single story, although obviously it's still episodic. I've seen bits and pieces of these myths before (admittedly, probably mostly in Gaiman's other work) but this is the clearest version of them I've read.