Posted: April 12, 2010 (07:04 AM)
I tried to write my Reader's Choice Contest review last week, but I couldn't think of anything interesting to say. Sorry.
Here's what I've been watching/playing instead:
I saw Slumdog Millionaire on Film Four last week. I was vaguely aware of all the Oscar-driven hype surrounding this film, but I never saw it at the cinema so I thought I would make the effort to see what all the fuss was about.
It's an entertaining film that moves at a very fast pace and has a great soundtrack. Pretty much a typical Danny Boyle movie. Using Who Wants to be a Millionaire as a structure for the narrative is a great idea because A: it's unique and B: it allows the film to jump quickly between lots of different set-piece scenarios.
Although Boyle tries to be brutal in his portrayal of the suffering endured by slum dwellers, Slumdog is ultimately not designed to be a political statement in the same way that Trainspotting was. This raises questions of authenticity, but I found it easy to enjoy Slumdog as a British film by a British filmaker. Obviously not a wholly accurate representation of Indian culture, but a slick, stylish production that tells a rags-to-riches story that is designed to appeal and relate to a global audience.
Whether this is morally "right" is another question. Salman Rushdie didn't approve, but I made it to the end of Slumdog Millionaire, which is a lot more than I can say for Midnight's Children. It's fantasy, but it's a fantasy that's easy to watch and get caught up in.
Cave have released an iPhone version of ESPgaluda II. It's an excellent port that goes out of its way to make the experience as enjoyable and customisable for iPhone owners as possible. There is an iPhone mode, an Arcade mode, you can change the screen size, determine the position of the buttons of the screen, adjust the difficulty, limit the attack options to make the gameplay as simple or as complex as you life... the degree of customisation is certainly impressive, especially given the £2.99 price.
I have no clue how the scoring system works, though. I've never played a Cave shmup before, but seems a lot more complicated than the Psykio scoring systems. Any ideas?
I was getting pretty tired of David Tennant. His Doctor had become arrogant, cocky and generally unlikeable. I don't think this was Russell Davies's intention; just a natural outcome of the fact that Tennant's Doctor could do no wrong in the eyes of the British public. I also think that the writing itself was running out of places to go, which resulted in stories that were slightly ridiculous and lacking in any real depth.
After two episodes of the new series the change in Doctor and head writer (Stephen Moffat) have definitely improved the show. Matt Smith's Doctor is a throwback to Tom Baker: eccentric and unpredictable but deadly serious when necessary. Moffat seems to be initiating a change in the tone of the show, too. The first two episodes have been a lot scarier than what we've come to expect from Doctor Who since it was resurrected.
There's a long way to go in this series, but so far it all seems pretty exciting. What was great about Saturday's episode was that Matt Smith's Doctor got it wrong, which never happened much when David Tennant was Doctor. Amy Pond, the new companion, saved the day. It was full of traditional Doctor Who scares, ethical dilemmas and sci-fi nonsense as well. In fact, there was almost too much content for 60 minutes. It would have been even better as an old-school seven part serial!
The Daily Mail aren't as impressed by the new series, though. Apparently it's "too sexy" because Karen Gillan wears a short skirt in the opening episode. It was pretty short, but I'm not sure that's anything to complain about.
Posted: April 12, 2010 (06:11 PM)
I stopped watching Tennant a while back - I didn't care for the character anymore. However, I was impressed with Matt Smith in his first episode, but have not had the chance to see the second one yet. And yeah, The Daily Mail's complaint about the show becoming too 'sexy' is just plain dumb. "WHOA A SHORT SKIRT!!!!" Big deal.
Posted: April 12, 2010 (10:11 PM)
I am heartened to hear what you have said about the new Doctor Who.
I've been in the Australian Doctor Who fan club since I was eight years old, a fact I was just musing about the other day in a survey they sent me. It's been a bit of a bugbear for me that I have not enjoyed any of the new series as much as the old ones, and that when we got into the David Tennant period, I grew to dislike the show so much that I just stopped watching. So some kind of changeup here is good news to me, and any kind of Tom Baker-ism is especially welcome news to me at this point!
A little Doctor Who story - I went to an Aussie Doctor Who convention in about 2001, where the guests were Sylvester McCoy and Nicola Bryant. I don't think I'd met anybody I'd really been in any kind of awe of before, and it's not even like he was my favourite Doctor.. But I still found myself tongue tied and lame. I also discovered that I find it hideously embarrassing to ask people to autograph stuff, even when standing in a queue devoted to nothing else but this purpose.
It's a good thing I didn't have to meet Lalla Ward... I just bought a Doctor Who Magazine that she had signed, with her on the cover in Tom's coat, at a charity auction at the same convention.
Posted: April 13, 2010 (03:36 AM)
The new series is quite different to the old one. It's much more "saturday night entertainment" orientated. I also feel that they've made it more British, in the sense that a lot of humour comes from topical jokes or guest appearances that might not mean much to people who haven't grown up watching UK TV (for example: the Demon Headmaster was in Saturday's episode, which was essentially an amusing satire of the upcoming general election). I wonder if that's why you haven't found it as easy to enjoy the revived version of Dr. Who, bloomer?
My brush with Dr. Who fame: back when I was younger I got Jon Pertwee's autography at Longleat, a safari park in Wiltshire that had a Dr. Who exhibit until it closed in 2003. The exhibit was pretty cool - you entered through a TARDIS door, and then walked round a dark dingy corridor filled with props and costumes until you reached a replica console room. They had some cool stuff in there, like various Cyberman suits and the Davros costume. Jon Pertwee came there in 1996, when I was ten. I remember seeing him drive round in the yellow car and I also remember being frightened by the Daleks and the Cybermen, who were randomly moving around the grounds of Longleat house.
Posted: April 13, 2010 (09:55 AM)
Re: Saturday nights for Doctor Who,
Hm, hasn't Saturday night been Doctor Who's timeslot for most of its lifetime? I think it was always on Saturday night before teatime (in the UK) until the Peter Davison era, which was the first time they experimented with showing it on other nights, sometimes twice a week, and this was to try and combat ratings threats from ITV.
My full spiel about why I don't like new Doctor Who would be long and curmudgeonly, so I'll only do the short version.
First, I should make it clear that I don't like the style of most modern television drama in series form, and don't watch much of it. I don't like the glossy make up, lighting, the fact that the pace is dictated by commercials, the expositional dialogue,. Anyway, I much prefer actual films, of which I watch a zillion. Or at least TV which is basically delivered like it was a feature film.
So I've got a broad bias to begin with. Then second, I have really disliked the extreme emotionality of the new Doctor Who, which only got worse in the Tennent era. I don't like the new overwrought stuff to do with the companions, and their endless woes about where they came from and where they're going.
I like the doctor far less character wise than in the past. He's far less alien - especially as Tennant. His cocky rants about how he is going to save the universe etc.
The new theme music sucks (it should absolutely be electronic!) And the TARDIS is boring. I miss cosy chats in the TARDIS console room! I miss cosy anything... nobody ever stops to take a breath or muck around in new who, or have a small conversation. It's all Bam Bam Bam small, slam the plot through like a freight train.
So I find it bombastic, annoying, emotionally overkilling.. hang on this was supposed to be the short version wasn't it? :)
That's a cool story about Longleat though.
Posted: April 13, 2010 (11:15 AM)
Actually your description of why you don't like the new Dr. Who is sort of what I meant by "saturday night entertainment" orientated. In order to compete with X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, Dr Who has definitely become glossy, hyperactive and over-emotional at times. I am enjoying the new series, but based on what you've said here I think you would probably dislike it if you watched it.
I do wish that they gave more time to some of these stories. Last Saturday's episode contained loads of cool ideas and characters that were largely ignored because the time constraints meant that they had to rush to a conclusion. I haven't watched an old episode of Dr. Who in a long time, but I remember them spending at least two episodes just setting the scene sometimes.
Posted: April 13, 2010 (08:57 PM)
I usually watch another old Dr Who story every week or 2nd week on DVD, so the comparisons are constantly in my mind.