Monthly Archives: April 2015

Calls from mobiles will be considerably higher

Jeremy-Kyle

I have said before that I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but if I did, I suppose The Jeremy Kyle Show would be one of them.

It’s a horrible, spiteful programme. I know perfectly well that it’s manipulated to breaking point. The guests are usually in a bad situation that’s made worse by a team of gossiping runners who stick them in separate dressing rooms and lie to them (or, at least, heavily embellish the truth) about what the other party may or may not have said, just before they’re hauled out onstage and shouted at by a womanising bully. The whole thing is then edited for maximum dramatic impact, reasoned conversation truncated or omitted entirely. The tabloids pick it up and social media – which Kyle himself so frequently decries, typically with frustrated shouts of “Oh, FACEBOOK!” – is a juggernaut of hatred and snap judgements. Jeremy calls it “conflict resolution in a controlled environment”, arguing that if he didn’t do it, they’d be doing it in the streets. He has a point, but it’s rather like throwing whiskey onto a bonfire. Or it’s like Bill Hicks’ routine about Jack Palance in Shane (a scene that doesn’t actually happen, at least not the way that Hicks describes, but you can see what he means).

At the same time, I can’t stop watching it. The inconvenient truth is that for all the manipulations of the show, many of its guests are rotten to the core. It’s not even a question of Jeremy making them look bad; they do that well enough for themselves. There are twenty-year-old cannabis-smoking layabouts, unable to hold a decent posture, most of whom have already fathered several children. There are fifty-year-old screamers who are guilty of emotional abuse. (Julie – who was on the show the other morning – I’m looking at you.) Some of these people have had dreadful upbringings and never stood a chance, and need the sort of comprehensive long-term counselling that the dubious and ambiguous ‘after-show care’ is in all likelihood not going to provide. But all the liberal apologetics in the world (and I’m as left as they come) can’t undermine the undeniable fact that some people are simply bastards. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy it. I enjoy the moral superiority I get over simply being incompetent and moody, rather than a bastard.

Anyway, I was thinking about New Who the other day, largely in the context of continuity. And given the myriad twists and turns taken in series six, it struck me that this is how ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ ought to have ended.

Yes, I know the Photoshopping is dreadful. It was the best I could do. River’s top doesn’t reveal nearly enough neckline, and Rory looks a bit like he’s been on the growth enhancement pills. The tattoos are a nice touch, anyway.

But why stop there? Here’s Jeremy giving writing advice.

Jeremy_3

(I live for the day that Jeremy challenges someone to put something on the end of it, only for them to reveal their Catholicism. I wonder if he’d have a comeback.)

Here’s Jeremy tackling those bathtub stains that other domestic cleaners can’t reach.

Jeremy_4

To be fair, I don’t think he’s ever actually used that word. Oh, it comes across in the heavily implied loathing of some of his contestants (deservedly so; I know they’re edited badly and not always portrayed in the best light but some of these people really are dreadful). ‘Waste of space’ is a popular one. ‘Silly little boy’ is another. But I don’t remember him actually calling anyone ‘scum’, at least outside this video.

Of course, if he did, we could do this.

And finally –

And I really should stop harping on about him now. I have to go and shoot at some chavs. See you next time.

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How to ruin a romantic moment in four words

The #RuinARomanticMomentin4Words hashtag was trending on Twitter the other night, so here’s my contribution.

#1. The Doctor and River

 

#2. The Star Wars edition

 

#3. Amy and Rory

 

I think that covers all the bases, but I do take requests, even if they’re just “please stop doing this crap”.

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WhoTube

A while back, there was a circulated post doing the rounds containing a bunch of ‘honest’ logos and slogans. Here are four of my favourites.

Logos

It’s that last one that always gets the biggest laugh. YouTube is ten years old this week, and while we may talk about the way it’s redefined the music industry, the film / TV business and the way we use the internet in general, it’s the cats that stand out. The very first video uploaded was a guy standing in front of elephants at the zoo, revealing nothing even remotely interesting. That wasn’t the point, but I do wonder if people watched that first video – uploaded merely to show that you could, rather than because it had something significant or amusng to say – and thought that this was the intended ethos.

It would certainly explain a lot of what follows. I like to think of YouTube as a colossal ocean, where the whales take the form of cats, pandas, Psy videos and Minecraft tutorials. Underneath you have the sharks – film trailers, celebrity vloggers and X-Factor clips (and, somewhere, Katie Hopkins). By and large, Doctor Who videos are the tropical fish that populat coral reefs – there in abundance, but when you’ve seen one clownfish you’ve seen them all.

If the videos themselves are the fish (and the rights departments are those colossal trawlers that plough through the waters, lapping up fish left right and centre) then the video comments are presumably one gargantuan oil slick. There are occasional moments of brilliance, but most popular YouTube videos are saturated by spam, illiterate stupidity and right wing bile. The ability to type in ‘funny cat videoz’ requires minimal intellect, which is presumably why all the stupid people hang out here. The worst thing you can do is respond to it, but people do, either out of boredom or because they’re not aware that you should never feed the troll.

Amidst the sharks and turtles and catfish there are the minnows. You know – the ones that never get beyond a thousand hits. They’ll show up in the searches eventually, if you’re prepared to trawl through the thousands of near-identical bigger fish that are easier to spot. But generally they just swim around their own patch of the ocean, not really being seen by anyone. Sometimes they’ll pick the company of bigger fish, largely in the hopes of being noticed along with them, which is fine if you don’t get eaten alive.

Most of my videos are minnows. I’m OK with that. I don’t think I’m ever going to make the impact on the blogosphere that I’d like to, and in many ways that’s a good thing. Notoriety can be a poisoned chalice. I’ve learned over the years that the act of creativity – of putting something back, and being a contributor rather than a consumer – is enough of a reason to keep going, even if I’d be lying if I said the remote prospect of fame didn’t matter at all. Each time I hit the upload button I live in hope that whatever it is I’ve spent hours putting together will go viral. Nothing has, as yet, although I’ve had a few that have performed reasonably well, in chicken feed terms.

I started this purely as a hobby – a chance remark that Emily made at the beginning of 2011 that gave me an idea, that led to more ideas, and so on. There are millions of people like me all over the world – and for most of us, mashing is the closest we’ll ever get to doing anything tangible within the film industry. For most of us, this is enough.

Today, to celebrate ten years of YouTube, I’m re-posting five of the Who-related videos I made that I’ve always wished had done better. Someday they might. But if they don’t, that’s fine too.

The Whole of the Moon

 

A Town Called Mercy – The Silent Movie

 

Dalek Johnny (Doctor Who / Fast Show)

 

Everybody Hurts: The Gridlock Edition

Doctor Who Meets the Goodies

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“And when I turned round…” (part two)

Those of you who are interested might want to have a look at some of my more recent Metro posts, which include:

A tongue-in-cheek examination of the Paul McGann movie (which has upset at least one person)

Doctor Who characters who’ve cheated death (which arguably worked better over Easter weekend, when it was posted)

Fifteen thoughts every parent has while watching children’s TV (which has nothing to do with this blog, but it touched a nerve)

Today, though: Mary Poppins, revisited.

 

You will feed the birds, or you will become like us.

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The inevitable Doctor Who / Star Wars trailer thing

TheHeadlessMonks

Four a.m. All right? That’s when I went to bed. That’s pretty much a record from someone who’s frequently tried to pull an all-nighter only to decide at the eleventh hour that sleep – any amount, however small – really would be better. If you have children you will understand this. If you have my children, you’ll tell me I’m being an idiot for staying up so late on a school night.

Anyway, that Star Wars trailer. You’ve all seen it, haven’t you? The one that was announced with a flurry of trumpets and had Twitter in meltdown. The one with the ominous voiceover from Luke, who basically repeats his I-am-your-sister monologue from Return of the Jedi, to a woman whom I’m informed is probably his niece. The one that’s already been analysed to death as people try and work out whether the black stormtrooper is a good guy or a bad guy (surely ‘both’ is the only sensible answer?), why Lando still hasn’t fixed the Millennium Falcon’s deflector dish, and whether you could park a plane in one of the crags on Harrison Ford’s face. It’s standard “this is what should be in a Star Wars trailer” fare, telling us precisely nothing about exactly why the Force is awakening or in whom (although I can make an educated guess) followed by the welcome sight of Han Solo – whose absence is what killed the prequel trilogy and whose presence here got the kid in me all excited. (Actually, the kid in me is about ninety per cent of my active personality, so it was quite spectacular.)

You haven’t seen it? Well, go and watch it now. Otherwise you’re going to be horribly confused by what follows, which is my version. And here it is.

The last time they did a Star Wars teaser, I produced a selection of memes. This time I went one better, opting for a full-on reconstruction. The result is rather like the Magnum P.I. trailer I produced a while back. Anyone can do a fancy trailer with appropriate footage, designed for maximum emotional / comedic impact. Producing something that actually looks a little bit like the thing you’re trying to copy is considerably trickier, and requires time, patience and – in this case – an almost encyclopedic knowledge of New Who. I have none of the above, but where’s the fun in going into something totally prepared?

I started and finished this in a single evening, mostly as a shameless land grab. The abundance of black screen helped – there was less to do. Certain stories jump out at you as being obvious targets, if like me you’ve spent time watching them with a cynical, “They nicked that from Star Wars” eye. (This isn’t really fair, of course.  The original Star Wars trilogy is, in its own way, thoroughly derivative, and that’s the reason it works so well – it fuses western with Arthurian legend and dumps it in space.) But there are obvious contenders. I never thought I’d actually be able to do anything with ‘Planet of the Dead’, but it really was a gift for something like this. And there’s not a single shot of Lee Evans.

Episodes used, in order of first appearance:

‘Planet of the Dead’
‘The Time of the Doctor’
‘School Reunion’
‘Forest of the Dead’
‘Aliens of London’
‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’
‘A Good Man Goes To War’
‘Asylum of the Daleks’
‘Doomsday’
‘The Stolen Earth’
‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’
‘Voyage of the Damned’
‘Victory of the Daleks’
‘The Crimson Horror’
‘The Eleventh Hour’
‘Fires of Pompeii’
‘Utopia’

It works reasonably well. I wish, wish, wish I’d remembered to fix the text justification in that opening title. And what’s even more irritating is that for all the shot reversals I included, I didn’t reverse the opening walk to the Tritovore spacecraft across the San Helios desert, and this is silly. At least it’s a contrast. Aside from that, you will note the obvious inclusion of the lightsaber-toting monks in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’, and the the less obvious inclusion of the pteranodons from ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’. That closing image was the hardest one to pick, and even now I’m not entirely sure it’s the right one, but by this point it was half past two and my brain was bleeding.

All the while I was producing this it made sense to do a side-by-side comparison to accompany it, just to see how close I was, or wasn’t. But I bought that split-screen enabled editing software, and I’m damn well going to use it. So here it is. May the Force, and all that.

 

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Identity Parade

Doctor Who Adventures, which we buy monthly / fortnightly / weekly (depending on frequency, which fluctuates) for Thomas, runs a series of Where’s Wally? type pictures containing the Doctor hidden amidst an army of Sontarans, a clan of Ice Warriors or a gathering of permanently frozen Weeping Angels. They are quite fun to do, and the resulting collections – titled Where’s The Doctor? and When’s The Doctor? – have kept many a small child content on long car journeys, at least in our house. Well, it’s only a matter of time before they get into Big Finish.

But the current issue has something else entirely – although I can’t lay my hands on the previous issues to find out whether this is the first in a series or a continuation of one. It carries an unavoidable New Who bias, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many nods there were to previous Doctors – well, one or two in particular…

 

Who_Where

(Sorry about the folds. I miss the office A3 scanner.)

It’s Coal Hill School, so of course education is the name of the game. That’s why the Krillitane appear (although where on earth is Sarah Jane?), that’s why there are so many Daleks, and that’s presumably why Romana is wearing her St. Trinian’s outfit. I am particularly pleased by the inclusion of Michael Sheard, who I always felt was underused in Classic Who.

Notes:

1. I know that there probably aren’t that many in the target of audience who’ve actually seen ‘The Robots of Death’, but calling it a “scary robot” is incredibly lame. It’s a Voc. Even my six-year-old can use Google.

2. “Oh,” said Gareth. “That’s meant to be Ace!  I briefly thought it was Ewan McGregor hitting a Dalek with a lightsaber.”

3. Is the Angel wearing dark glasses for any reason other than because it’s summer? Is there some sort of adverse quantum effect? Perhaps Angels who wear sunglasses can’t see other Angels (in the same way that a pair of Ray-Bans is apparently all you need to protect a vampire from sunlight exposure).

4. “Also,” said Gareth, “I briefly wondered why Sergeant Major Zero was floating between Missy and Tom Baker.” I was going to say that those Toclafane were disproportionately large, but footage from ‘Last of the Time Lords’ has convinced me otherwise. Still, there are similarities.

Toc-Zero

Anyway, I did think it would be fun to do an annotated version of this picture, identifying as many of the characters as we can, for the benefit of the uninitiated or people who could have sworn they recognise such-and-such but can’t quite figure it out. As of 16 April, this list is mostly complete, but I’ll upload expanded / corrected versions as and when people tell me stuff I’ve missed, and the ones I’ve got wrong.

Who_Where_annotated

You’ll note that I haven’t labelled most of the obvious ones, with the exception of the different Dalek factions (the bronze Daleks are, as far as I can see, just bronze Daleks). I can’t work out whether the kid in the bottom right corner – standing next to the soldiers – is anyone significant or just another pupil. The same applies to the girl in the window next to the Cybershade. And there’s a creature in that lower right window – just above the Dalek – which is on the tip of my tongue.

Otherwise, we have:

  1. Barbara Wright
  2. Ian Chesterton
  3. Lunar spiders
  4. Krillitane
  5. Is that a Star Trek mask? Ben, that’s got to be you.
  6. Twelfth Doctor
  7. Adipose
  8. Snowman
  9. Jeremy Baines
  10. Raston Warrior Robot
  11. Renegade Daleks
  12. Teller
  13. Judoon
  14. Auton
  15. Special Weapons Dalek
  16. Abzorbaloff
  17. Kid reading Doctor Who Adventures
  18. Missy
  19. Toclafane
  20. Fourth Doctor
  21. John Smith
  22. Cybershade
  23. Tritovore
  24. First Doctor
  25. Susan Foreman
  26. Courtney Woods
  27. Romana (II)
  28. Mr Bronson* / Headmaster
  29. Slitheen
  30. Skovox
  31. Ace
  32. Empty Child
  33. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart
  34. Osgood
  35. Ood
  36. Adric
  37. Turlough
  38. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
  39. Clara Oswald
  40. Voc Robot
  41. Mondas Cyberman
  42. Space Pig
  43. Dalek Sec
  44. Scientist Dalek
  45. Imperial Dalek
  46. Zygon
  47. Mummy
  48. Scaroth

* Grange Hill fans only.

Meanwhile, Joshua got a Horrible Histories magazine, which had no mention of Doctor Who whatsoever.

Capaldi_Caesar

Well, more or less.

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Take a letter, Miss Jones

It’s Peter Davison’s birthday. It’s also World Scrabble Day. I’ve combined the best of both worlds, and tonight I bring you a Doctor Who themed Scrabble board centred around the Fifth Doctor.

IMAG0822

Yes, I could have used more tiles, but I managed a respectable score. Besides, I have a birthday party to plan.

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“And when I turned round…”

Today’s Katie Hopkins wish fulfillment meme.

 

(The Cyberman, in case you were wondering, is from ‘The Wheel in Space’, and yes, I think that is an accordion.)

I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t even watch her on TV. When an appearance on This Morning or Loose Women is announced, I run in the other direction. I will not waste any more time on the stupid bint than is strictly necessary for a freelance journalist. I know she’s a pantomime villain who thrives on the Twitter hit count she gets from the media headlines (and the cheque from the follow-up interviews) and while I suspect most people get a sense of superiority from detesting her the same way they might have detested the Phelps family, I think it’s a great shame that we live in a world where a woman can say detestable things – most of which, I suspect, she doesn’t actually mean – and make a respectable living from it. It smacks of horribly misplaced priorities and too much free time. Still, for all the ranting about society at large, I do wish she’d shut the fuck up. As someone said last night, “If there were no Katie Hopkins, it would be necessary to – actually no. That would be fine.”

Anyway, by and large I restrict my viewing to Holby and CBeebies, because I don’t have to worry about the sociological ramifications of either of them. Actually, CBeebies was on last night, largely because Emily was trying to entertain a grisly Edward with clips from Boogie Beebies, which hasn’t been on for years.

This is my favourite episode and I warn you that if you listen to that song in its entirety you are going to get a six-week earworm. Even now I can feel it once more burrowing into my brain, to the extent that I may have to go and listen to the theme from Space Pirates to get rid of the damned thing. Part of the appeal of Boogie Beebies lies in Boogie Pete’s ‘TV presenter you wanted to be your best mate’ appeal, in the same vein as Chris Evans (if you’re really, really young or inherently masochistic) and Timmy Mallett. He’s got that chirpy, not-quite London vibe about him. Still, it was Thomas who pointed out that Pete (Pete Hillier, now works for Stagecoach Northampton) was actually a combination of Mister Maker and the Tenth Doctor. Insofar as timings are concerned we’re in chicken and egg territory, but strictly aesthetically he does have a point.

Boogie_Pete

Not that Tennant’s the sort of chap to do frivolous dancing. Not at all.

 

And yes, you can’t unsee that…

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MacArthur Clarkson

Somebody give Jeremy Clarkson a steak. Quickly.

Clarkson_Hulk

 

The idea of producing a Hulk version was entirely Gareth’s idea, as was “You wouldn’t like him when he’s hungry”.

A few days later I was in a charity shop in Reading, and found myself playing around with the displays. I confess I am quite pleased with this.

Clarkson_Books

Hey, we don’t always have to talk about Doctor Who

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The Fool on the Hill

I’m guessing that there wasn’t a single person who took my April 1st post seriously. Over on Facebook several people were taken in, including a music teacher, which I count as a personal triumph. Actually a couple of people think it might even be a good idea, which proves that many a true word may be spoken in jest. I simply need to get a Joseph coat from somewhere, and then we can do stuff like this:

Time for the Dr

And this:

E-Space

Certainly Doctor Who has had its fair share of April Fool gags in the past. Back in 2003, before the new series had been greenlit, a friend of mine convinced her partner that Doctor Who was shortly to return with Caroline Quentin stepping into the TARDIS. (I still maintain that could work, although Tamsin Grieg might be better.) A glance over at Doctor Who TV has found a selection of stories, including one that I actually did myself last year, in a different format (and with no knowledge of theirs). Meanwhile, Kasterborous linked to, among others, a story suggesting a return for RTD, and it says something for my current views on Who that I actually live in hope that this could still happen.

Gareth, meanwhile, sent me a link to this thread on the Big Finish forums.

Very_Exciting

“Some people,” he remarked, “really don’t get how to do it, do they?”

“I know,” I said. “The mind boggles.”

“Aww,” he said. “I’m now picturing that as a Second Doctor story, with ‘boggles’ being a noun – like ‘The Brain Weasels’.  I wonder what a Boggle is in this sense.”

A quick internet search reveals various Dungeons and Dragons links – an alternative spelling of a creature also known as the Bogle. Anyway, if it’s a Second Doctor story, it might look a bit like this.

Happy Easter, however you spend it.

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