Monthly Archives: January 2012

Penny in the air

All of a sudden, a lot of things made sense.

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Inside off-track

Have recently been reading this:

It’s official and BBC-backed and glossy and superficial and sycophantic (not that you need to be a BBC release for to have an inflated sense of your own or someone else’s self-worth; check out Andrew Cartmel’s Through Time for an appalling lack of judgement when the author comes to look at his own stuff in the 80s). There are far, far too many uses of the word ‘iconic’ – a term that is bandied about too frequently and in the wrong contexts in any case, and which should not be applied to anything that is not at least twenty years old, but it’s sprinkled throughout this episode as liberally as the young Lister’s use of the word ‘crypto-facist’ in ‘Timeslides‘. There’s a lot of back patting and literary high-fiving and remarks about making pioneering television – it’s like watching six hours of Confidential. Certainly there are glimpses, here and there, of the tensions and problems that occurred during production of the Slitheen episodes (for example), but these are typically glossed over with comments like “There were a few heated words, but we pulled together and worked it out”. I realise it’s basically an expanded press pack, and that it probably would have been counter-productive to actually tell the truth about Christopher Eccleston, but the whole thing gets very tiresome in places: sometimes I just yearn for a little transparency.

For all that it’s quite fun. There are some interesting insights into earlier drafts of stories and the way that characters developed, and Gary Russell writes competently and with enthusiasm. He’s talked to a lot of people, and the anecdotal style works well, and it’s interesting to get differing perspectives from directors, writers and the creative team. At the same time there are a few telling comments that, with hindsight, we can regard with a raised eyebrow of Roger Moore proportions: Dan Zeff, for example, warmly reminiscing of his time on ‘Love and Monsters’ by remarking that “I thought it was going to be this oddball episode they threw together, and I’d end up doing the one everyone remembers as duff”, which is exactly what happened anyway. Oh, and Russell T. Davies talking about the departure of Rose at the end of ‘Doomsday’, and telling us that “the whole point of losing her is that we miss her but she’s gone. Like the Doctor, we can never see what she gets up to in that parallel world. It would have spoilt the heart of the whole franchise actually, and we’d know too much and it would water down that climax” – which is presumably why he then decided to bring her back for series 4.

But it is to Helen Raynor, serving as script editor during these fledgling revival series, that I will give the last word:

“A lesson we learned on Series One was that we hardly ever have a red herring, in an Agatha Christie way – we never take the viewer up a story cul-de-sac in order to make them think something’s happening when in fact it’s something else. But there’s a big difference there between your red-herring-story-cul-de-sac and actually having a story which takes you in unexpected directions. And I know that’s because Russell feels that very deliberate red herrings somehow make you distrust the show and the storyteller – they feel as if they’re putting a joke over on the viewers rather than taking them on an exciting story journey. So I think one of the tricks with a Doctor Who script is to constantly allow it to go in exciting and surprising and unexpected directions, but not by simply stopping the story for twenty minutes while you do a bit of a tap-dance routine and try to dazzle the viewer into thinking something else is going on. It’s useful to spot that in advance and to steer writers away from it.”

Oh, how times have changed.

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Time for the Doctor

I always believe in acknowledging my sources, so here we go: I acquired this from Victoria Rose, a long-time friend and former desk wife (we sat opposite one another for a year, and it was one of the happiest years of my working life). She in turn acquired it from a friend of hers, Amal el-Motar. But we think it could have been by someone called Etta Palmer, and Vic has pointed out the J. Wells at the bottom of the image. Anyway, if you’re reading this, and responsible for the above, thanks for giving us all a good giggle this Friday afternoon.

And Gareth? He said “I now have this horrible image of a treble Keff.” Sqook!

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There are some who call me Tim

If you ask most people, they’ll tell you that Life of Brian is a better film than Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s clever and sharply observed where Holy Grail is anarchic and silly. It combines a devastating attack on organised religion with memorable characters and some laugh-out-loud gags. It’s orderly and impeccably structured, whereas Holy Grail culminates in one of the biggest let-downs in the history of cinema (it may be funny, but we still feel like we’ve been cheated a bit). Life of Brian never really feels like surrealism; Holy Grail seldom feels like anything else.

For all that, Holy Grail is my favourite. I was fourteen when I watched it and the Pythons’ uproarious humour had me in stitches. I am one of these boring people who can quote entire scenes off the cuff (although I endeavour to avoid doing this at parties) – a film has to be seriously good to give me the motivation to commit it to memory. I love its sketch show feel and the way it builds up the balloon of Arthur’s grandiose pomposity only to periodically shoot it down, or prick it by the beak of an unladen African swallow. By contrast, I saw Life of Brian when I was an irritating student and my response, after all the hype, was “Meh”. I suspect seeing it these days, in a time when the Church more than ever resembles the institution that Cleese parodies in his People’s Front of Judea sequence, would force me to re-evaluate it. Still, for whatever reason it’s never had the same place in my heart.

Another film I saw in my irritating student days was Excalibur, which we watched as part of a module on film, TV and literature I was doing as part of my English degree. I remember discussing the religious symbolism, Nicol Williamson’s amazing performance as Merlin and that wonderful sequence where a rejuvenated Lancelot comes galloping into the fray to assist a doomed Arthur – but what struck me most was how Excalibur, despite the fact that it was made some seven years later, always seemed to be the film that Holy Grail was parodying. I’m sure that there are other cinematic tales of Arthurian legend that formed the source of the Pythons’ inspiration, but that’s still the way it feels – much like This Is Spinal Tap was a piss-take of Rattle and Hum, a few years early.

The fact is that Holy Grail contains some splendid, dramatic dialogue, which is usually followed by an absurd visual gag or ludicrous animated sequence. It is therefore ripe for a trailer mashup. Resequenced trailers are nothing new: Shining arguably planted the flag, all those years ago, and if it wasn’t necessarily the first it was at least the first to go truly viral. The folks who reworked Kubrick’s macabre masterpiece into an uplifting feelgood drama (appropriately scored to Peter Gabriel) opened a floodgate for a torrent of imitations, some of which worked better than others – the Brokeback Mountain stuff, for example, was funny for a while but quickly became irritating. Nonetheless, trailer mashups are still very popular: the ready availability of video editing software has made it easy to do and there are a lot of talented people out there who can spot where a truly miserable film can be remade into a romantic comedy, or a musical can become a horror movie.

So it was inevitable that I’d jump on the rickety bandwagon at some point. This formed in my head over the space of a couple of months and then came together on screen fairly quickly. I had few rules, except that it had to include certain key lines, it had to end with that battle on the hill, and it had to be scored – predictably but inevitably – to ‘O Fortuna’. Reimagining Monty Python and the Holy Grail as a serious, overblown epic wasn’t a new idea; there are several of them on YouTube already. Still, this one was mine. And I think it turned out reasonably well…

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From the Facebook archives, #6

Saturday, September 17th 2011

I was recounting the last episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day to Emily, as she’s refused to watch it since the end of season 1.

Her response: “Right, let me get this straight. Saving the world was ultimately dependent upon John Barrowman depositing his bodily fluids inside an enormous crack?”

They really didn’t think this one through, did they?

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Sherlock to Who

We all know that Benedict Cumberbatch would have made a superb Doctor (and almost did, and still might, one day). We also know that he plays Sherlock (and Moffat writes Sherlock) as a reclusive genius who is not unlike the Doctor. We also know that The Doctor’s aloof genius persona has probably, over time, been derived from that of Sherlock Holmes. We also know that Cumberbatch is friends with Matt Smith. So this latest incarnation is rather like Steve Coogan playing Tony Wilson in the same manner as he played Alan Partridge, who was inspired by the real life Tony Wilson.

But what if we were to make the crossover more explicit, and place Cumberbatch’s Holmes inside the TARDIS – accompanied by Freeman’s Watson – and make him the Doctor? Well, I’m sure it’s been done. It’s certainly been done visually –

(Acquired from this blog, and really quite inspired.)

I’m sure there are plenty of literary pastiches out there as well. And here is mine. It may be similar – indeed, nigh on identical – to a lot of the existing material, but I don’t have the time or inclination to look for any. There’s a danger that if you research similar material too much, it will start to influence your own. This is raw, and probably full of holes, but I wrote it in a hurry and am quite pleased with it.

– – –

INT. TARDIS CONTROL ROOM. DAY

[The ship hums gently as it travels through space. We pan across the console; panels fill with diagnostics and lights beep and flash. We can hear – somewhere out of shot – the tones of what may be a violin, but not one of this earth. Pan across: it’s the DOCTOR, debonair and arrogant in appearance, with a shock of black curly hair. He wears a maroon coloured silk shirt and is playing the violin slowly and senuously: an angular, atonal melody. All of a sudden he stops, holds the violin in one hand and picks up a pencil in the other, to make a notation on a piece of manuscript resting on a nearby table.

He has almost finished writing when a nearby console bleeps in alarm, as if giving off a warning signal. The Doctor loses concentration and his pencil slips; irritated, he scrunches up the manuscript into a ball and tosses it at the panel, whereupon the light goes out and the beeping stops. Satisfied, the Doctor lifts the violin once more to his neck and grasps the bow in one hand, but has played three or four notes when the console begins to beep again.]

Enter JOHN WATSON, in striped blue pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers, looking suspiciously like Arthur Dent, towelling his hair.]

John: Are you going to answer that?

The Doctor: Answer what?

John: The distress signal.

The Doctor: Perhaps in a while.

John: It’s been ringing for the last twenty-five minutes. Ever since I went in there.

The Doctor: Twenty-three and a half.

John: Have you been timing it?

The Doctor: No, I’ve been timing you. You always take exactly eleven minutes in the shower, I can tell because of the rise and fall in the water pressure. Allowing for disrobing that’s eleven minutes thirty. Six minutes to dry, of which you spent two shaving; you’ve missed a spot under your chin. Another four minutes to find your pyjamas, you wanted the pale blue ones because it’s Thursday and that always reminds you of the Thursday we went to the marine planet just the other side of Clom, you got sentimental about having to leave the mermaid piranhas so every Wednesday you always wash the pale blue pyjamas so K-9 can iron them in time for Thursday evening. You had to go to the walk-in wardrobe but you got lost because you forgot the TARDIS reconfigured herself last week – the specifics of trans-dimensional architecture never were your strong point. So that’s another two minutes walking round the ship the long way.

John: You know, sometimes I hate you.

The Doctor: No you don’t.

John: Are you composing again?

The Doctor: Yes.

John: After the last time? Music of the Spheres? Do you seriously not remember the fiasco that caused?

The Doctor: I take no responsibility for that night. The appearance of the Graaske had nothing to do with me. And it’s not my fault that the Royal Albert Hall has security to rival Strangeways.

John: Anyway. The distress signal. Are you answering it or not?

The Doctor: No, I’m fed up of solving dull and tedious problems for uneducated rabble.

John: How can you be sure this one is dull and tedious?

The Doctor: It’s the red light. That means it’s within twenty thousand light years. That narrows it down to one of seven planets that we know are either inhabited or contain any sort of life. None of them are interesting.

John: They still may need our help!

The Doctor: [sighs, puts down the violin] Fine. Get me the list.

John: The what?

The Doctor: It’s been going for three days straight, there’s bound to be a list.

John: If it’s been going for three days most of them are probably going to be dead by now, aren’t they?

The Doctor: Try engaging your brain at least sometimes, John, and take a look around you! Where do you think we are?

[There is a pause as John thinks this one through.]

John: Right! The list.

[He snatches a printout from a slot near the machine and begins to read.]

John: Missing colonists on Proxima’s second moon –

The Doctor: Dead.

John: Ghost freighter found drifting in the Delta Quadrant –

The Doctor: Boring. Next!

John: Possible bandits at Ursa Major, ship taking heavy fire –

The Doctor: Meteor shower. It’ll go on for an hour or so and then stop and the residual damage will repair itself. Next!

John: Bees found on Alpha Centuri –

The Doctor: Oh, for God’s sake! I’m better than this. I mean it, really. I am. [looks around] Where’s Mrs Hudson?

John: We left her in the library and said we’d pick her up in a month. You remember?

The Doctor: Vaguely. When was that?

John: Ten years ago.

[There is the noise of a sudden explosion somewhere outside the TARDIS, and the control room shakes violently. Both men are flung off their feet; John steadies himself on a console; The Doctor rebalances himself and then sits down in a battered leather armchair.]

John: What the hell was that?

The Doctor: Some sort of collision. Someone flying through the vortex in the opposite direction on the wrong side of the time stream.

John: [with obvious disdain] Only in this part of the universe.

The Doctor: Please don’t try and get smart, it doesn’t suit you. Just check the screens and see if there’s any damage.

[John punches a few touch-screen displays.]

John: Let’s have a look at you…nothing in the engine room, no sign of shields being impacted, just – ah. Doctor? I think you should come and have a look at this.

The Doctor: Can’t you just describe it to me? I’m not moving for anything less than a spontaneous wormhole.

John: It’s a spontaneous wormhole.

The Doctor: Well. The day just got interesting.

John: And the controls just broke.

The Doctor: What?

John: The panels are dead. Everything seems to have frozen, it’s a total lockout. Almost as if something else –

[There is the shimmering flash of a teleportation device, and a DALEK appears in the control room.]

Dalek: DO NOT MOVE. THERE IS NO ESCAPE. WE HAVE LOCKED THE CONTROLS OF THE TARDIS. YOU WILL OBEY US OR YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED.

The Doctor: And here was I thinking it would be a nice quiet evening.

Dalek: WE WILL ALLOW YOU TO PILOT THE TARDIS TO A LOCATION WE WILL SPECIFY. ONCE YOU ARE THERE YOU WILL SURRENDER YOUR DNA IMPRINT SO THAT WE MAY HAVE THE MACHINE TO OURSELVES. YOU WILL OBEY OUR ORDERS.

The Doctor: Is that a royal ‘we’?

Dalek: [processes this] EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

The Doctor: You keep using the third person, but as far as I can see, there’s only one of you. Why should I be threatened by only one of you?

Dalek: ONE OF US IS ENOUGH. ONE OF US IS ALWAYS ENOUGH.

The Doctor: Except…

John: Doctor, just…you know, it’s a Dalek. Be careful.

The Doctor: Except…it’s me, isn’t it? I mean, you know me. I’m your biggest nightmare. I’ve defeated you a thousand times. You talk about being the superior race when you’re really just a dustbin with a licorice whirl stuck on the end of a breadstick. You’re absolutely pathetic.

John: [to the Dalek] Please don’t exterminate him. I know how you feel, honest. Sometimes I feel like decking him myself. I’m sure you would, I mean, well – if you had any arms. So anyway, yeah, no exterminating yet, OK?

Dalek: YOUR ARROGANCE WILL BE YOUR UNDOING.

The Doctor: Or it may be my salvation. Because while you’ve been wittering on, I’ve been moving around you enough to notice a few things. That eye stalk is flickering every seven seconds, which is a sign it’s malfunctioning; you can’t see very much, if you can see at all, and certainly not enough to pilot your way through a wormhole. Faint traces of oil on the lower torso, you’ve undergone maintenance recently but you still leak, you’re battle damaged as the crack on your left side shows – self-repair should have fixed that, unless it’s not working….but the biggest clue of all that you’re not much of a threat to us is the simple fact that you cast no shadow. Which means that you’re not really here at all. Which means that I can do this –

[And before anyone can stop him, the Doctor runs his hand clear through the Dalek, which is obviously a hologram.]

The Doctor: – and oh look. Thin air. You’re a projection.

[And abruptly, the Dalek vanishes.]

John: It was never here? In our heads or something, some kind of hallucination?

The Doctor: Oh grow up, what do you think this is? No, it was real all right, just controlled. We were supposed to think it was here, which would have made it a threat, but it was somewhere else. However. The life readings indicate something’s on board the ship, which means that even if the Dalek itself wasn’t real, the thing controlling it….most certainly…

Voice [off]: Oh, bravo! Bravo!

[Slow clapping as the owner of the voice – a sinister but mildly camp Irish accent – comes into full view. It is of course JIM MORIARTY, criminal mastermind.]

The Doctor: I wondered when you’d show again. I just can’t get rid of you, can I?

Moriarty: I’m like an erect member in the presence of a lovely man. I just keep turning up.

John: [staggered] But…he was dead. I saw the body, I saw his corpse.

Moriarty: Gunshot wound to the head, wasn’t it? John, I’m disappointed. You really didn’t think this through, did you?

John: Apparently not.

Moriarty: Well, maybe your gay lover has figured it out.

John: I’m not –

The Doctor: He’s not –

John:  – I mean, we’re not – well never mind what I mean. What do you mean?

Moriarty: Doctor? Tell him.

[The Doctor is silent, hesitating. He appears not to know the answer.]

Moriarty: Well! This is a turn-up for the books. There’s me thinking you and I were on the same wavelength. I sell you a puzzle and you’re convinced it’s the truth. You’re getting complacent in your old age.

The Doctor: I’m 1153. Still young, by Time Lord standards.

Moriarty: Mmm-hmm. I can relate to that.

[John looks from one to the other in confusion, and The Doctor’s eyebrow visibly arches as he takes in this news.]

Moriarty: And the penny drops. There I was, using my real name and everything.

The Doctor: Except it was shortened. This time you reversed it. And switched to anagrams. Rich Book…Reichenbach. James Moriarty….

Moriarty: Majority…Master.

John: What?

Moriarty: Back from the dead. Regeneration was a bitch this time round. I had to grow a whole new face. Well, that happens every time, but there’s usually something there to start with. It hurts. And I. Will hurt. You.

The Doctor: You were him…but your shortened name missed out three of the letters of Master. That’s why I missed it. Stupid. Stupid, stupid. [Facepalm]

Moriarty: And sloppy. Makes me think of you as terminally disadvantaged, like a kitten with one leg. I almost feel inclined to spare you as a result, but I don’t think I will.

John: What’s your plan?

Moriarty: You, are, basically, this gigantic thorn. Except it seems I can never quite pull you out. Because every time I do, you find a way to worm your way back into my bleeding hands. Oh, there’s a lot of blood on them. Some of it’s yours, some of it isn’t. Have you been to the library lately, Doctor?

The Doctor: The library?

John: Mrs Hudson.

The Doctor: If you’ve hurt her, I’ll –

Moriarty: You’ll what? You’ll get cross and shout a bit and then you’ll go into a three-day fug where you don’t talk to anyone and spend a long time standing on rooftops looking broody. You don’t think I can afford to have people watch you every second? Anyway relax, I’ve not hurt her yet. But I might. You could, of course, turn over the TARDIS and then let me kill you first. Or you could refuse, and while you’re gallantly thinking of a way to stop me I can snap my fingers and the sniper I’ve got rigged up in the library will pull the trigger.

The Doctor: You’re bluffing.

Moriarty: Maybe. Are you really prepared to risk that?

The Doctor: Yes.

Moriarty: I don’t think you are. Nor does your friend there.

John: Just…let her go. You can have the TARDIS, I’m sure we can –

The Doctor: No. [to John] Can you imagine what a lunatic like this would do with this machine? The only way we could stop him from destroying the universe last time round was by taking away his own TARDIS. We can’t even consider giving it to him. Not for a second.

John: But if we don’t, we’ll lose Mrs Hudson. And we can’t go back and rescue her, because that means crossing the timeline.

Moriarty: Ooh, clever. You’ve obviously been teaching him, it’s like watching a dog learn to play piano. So what’s it going to be, Doctor? You give me the TARDIS and you’ll probably find a way to stop me and then at some point I’ll kill you anyway, but God knows how much irreparable damage I’ll have done in the meantime. Or…

The Doctor: I stop you now…and Mrs Hudson dies.

Moriarty: Bimbo. You have ten seconds. Choose.

[Shot of John, looking from one to the other, bewildered. Then Sherlock, anxious, frowning, undecided. Then cut to black.]

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Taking a shortcut

Ten to nine on a school night, and as a special treat I have allowed Joshua to stay up late to watch ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’.

“So did you know that the man who played the father was also Mr Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures?”
“What, really?”
“Yep.”
“You’re not making it up?”
“Certainly not.”
“So does he stand behind the computer screen?”
“…No, he probably pre-records his lines in a studio and they play them back. Did you know he was going to turn up alive at the end?”
“I think so, yes. Because things like that often happen in Doctor Who, don’t they?”
“I suppose they do. It was clever of you to have thought of that.”
“Daddy, trust me. I’m the Caretaker.”

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The First Question

Oh, this we like. This we like a lot.

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Mirror Image

Warning: this post contains spoilers. Do not read any further if you have yet to watch ‘The Reichenbach Fall’.

So let me get this straight.

Sherlock Holmes

  • Brilliant genius whose intellect seems to defy his physical age, but somewhat aloof socially
  • Frequently called upon by governmental organisation who are exasperated by him
  • Relationship with best friend is sexually ambiguous
  • Accumulates prestige and fame, ignoring the warnings
  • Fakes his own death in order to retreat from the public eye…
  • …in a drama penned by Steven Moffat

The Doctor

  • Brilliant genius whose intellect seems to defy his physical age, but somewhat aloof socially
  • Frequently called upon by governmental organisation who are exasperated by him
  • Relationship with best friend is sexually ambiguous
  • Accumulates prestige and fame, ignoring the warnings
  • Fakes his own death in order to retreat from the public eye…
  • …in a drama penned by Steven Moffat

I mean I can’t be the only one. I can’t.

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A friend of mine, a porcupine

This week’s journey into the video vaults is a montage I prepared to Porcupine Tree’s epic, overblown ballad ‘Even Less’.

‘Even Less’ is a song with a history: Emily first introduced me to it some eight and a half years ago when we were staying with her parents for a week at the tail end of August. She had a few CDs in the car but the only one she ever got round to bringing in while we were staying there was Stupid Dream, Porcupine Tree’s fifth album, released just before the turn of the millennium. We listened to it every night that week, holed up int he back bedroom of an old house in rural Shropshire, surrounded by cows and sheep and a babbling brook. This repeated listening granting me a sense of familiarity that I’d not had for any album for some time, seeing as it was a period in my life when I would buy cheap CDs by the bucketload and then never have time to actually play any of them.

But something about Steven Wilson’s tour de force through his own head – and in particular the opening track, a song we heard more than any other as we never fell asleep while it was playing – resonated deeply. The lyrics are wonderful, but it was the sound with which I really connected: great clashing power chords, swooping synths and a substantial amount of moody, atmospheric piano. The harmonies alone – although less prominent on this track – are astounding. It’s reminiscent of Pink Floyd in a way that some of their other stuff is not (although don’t let Steven hear you say that; he finds the Floyd / Tree comparison particularly grating), and perhaps that’s why I liked it.

It wasn’t until early last year that I realised that this particular track – a song which seems to defy textual explanation or analysis – would work beautifully as a montage. I should explain how this comes about. I listen to most of my music in the car, at full volume when I’m unaccompanied. My journeys to and from the office are brief, but it’s the only uninterrupted thinking time I get during the day, and it’s good for decompression. Gary Numan suggested that “Here in my car, I’m the safest of all / I can lock all my doors” (that’ll come back to haunt us in a few weeks, actually, but not yet) and I feel a sense of control behind the wheel – irrespective of what’s going on outside – that doesn’t permeate the other areas of my life. Driving time is thus important. I will time journeys so I can hear a particular song or two songs that I want to play that day. And when I am in the middle of a song I particularly admire, I’ll have images floating through my head. Sometimes they’re abstract, and sometimes they’re quite specific.

On this particular morning, as the tuning orchestra that begins ‘Even Less’ permeated through my second-rate Vauxhall-supplied speakers (I’m not really an audiophile, and you can tell the true strength and worth of a song, I’ve always found, by how it sounds on bad radio), the images that came to mind were from Doctor Who, and specifically anything to do with Tennant’s run. Tennant is the master of the brooding stare. Just watch the thing. No, wait. Finish reading this first, and then watch it. You’ll see what I mean. There are lots of world-weary looks, blank and vacant, with eyes fixed somewhere in the distance at something just behind you. Here was a Doctor who had the weight of the universe resting squarely on his raincoat-clad shoulders and wanted everyone to know it. Oh, he could laugh with the rest of them; of course he could. But he spent much of the second half of his stint in the TARDIS seeming old, rather than young (there is a danger that Smith is now, prematurely, going the same way, and I fear that it may be to the show’s detriment if he makes the full transition). No, the Tenth Doctor was brooding, and melancholy, and seemed to fit the mournful elegiac tones of Wilson’s epic balladry.

This sense of the grandiose extended to the orchestration, which is bold and powerful, so I found the actual montage easy to construct: big, bold effects-laden action sequences (chiefly epic explosions) for the instrumental choruses, and then quieter, more introspective moments for the verses. And then a rogue’s gallery and a collection of some of Doctor X’s finer (and sillier) moments to finish off – my rule is it has to fit, irrespective of how much I actually like it (so many of my favourite moments are missing, and there’s a fair bit from ‘The Waters of Mars’, which I can’t stand). But despite the wealth of Tenth Doctor content, sifting down to a stylistically consistent mix was comparatively easy. The song’s minimal lyrical content helps (for reference, if you’re doing a montage of any sort it is to your advantage to pick a song that doesn’t have much singing in it, or at least contains a decent solo). There’s quite a lot of matching words with images – some work, and some are tenuous, but I am quite pleased in particular with the little dig I made at Davies’ pre-occupation with religion at 3:50.

I started this last February and did it in bits, finally finishing it on a cold afternoon in March while I recovered from a sickness bug. And then YouTube screwed up the encoding. I see now what I did: the volume levels were too high and the result is a lot of clipping on the bottom end. Even if you mute the sound, the version on YouTube is far from perfect – there are a couple of split-second (practically subliminal) images that I’d failed to remove when I was putting the thing together, with the result that it feels rather rough around the edges. I’d really rather not showcase that, but if you desperately want to compare you can see it here.

I fixed it, but I’m a great believer in scholarly integrity (a decade in academic publishing will do that to you), and the YouTube upload already had a fair number of hits and some positive comments, so I decided to leave it as is rather than remove it. An improved version – a Vimeo embed – is presented below. I’ve done better, more consistent montages, but this remains, some ten months later, one of my favourite pieces of work, largely because cutting it together was so much fun. I still wish I understood the song, though.

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