Posts Tagged With: the eleventh hour

Fish Custard: Reversed

I walked into the study on Monday morning to find the boys watching a Lazy Town video. Backwards.

It beats the hell out of some of the stuff I find in the internet history. I mean, I love YouTube. It’s a wealth of fantastic, entertaining material. It has recipes, educational videos, how-to guides and interviews. It’s enabled me to see programmes I haven’t seen in years and ones I’d forgotten about completely. It’s connected me with musical artists in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible, shown me ideas and concepts I could never have imagined and, for all the idiocy and bigotry, generally broadened my horizons.

And what were my kids watching the other week? Fucking Crazy Frog. Backwards.

It’s hardly Twin Peaks, is it? It’s quite amusing to watch Sportacus climb back into his cage while Robbie and his clones skip backwards over the wall, but you wonder what the point was. And then you look at the other stuff on the channel and you notice a pattern in the titles –

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HOW THE HELL HAS THIS GUY GOT SO MANY HITS? Do people like Lazy Town that much? Or is this another artificial inflation scam like the VEVO incident? I mean, here’s me, scrabbling for social media coverage, begging and borrowing and promoting like crazy just to creep into the hundreds, and this guy’s presumably living off his monetization. It’s enough to make you weep for the future of humanity; it really is.

The definitive use of reversed footage, of course, is in Red Dwarf, in an episode that isn’t really as funny as we’d like to think (gimmicky episodes seldom are, as ‘Gunmen of the Apocalypse’ proves in abundance). There are amusing moments in ‘Backwards’ but the best of the humour stems from Lister’s reactions (“Santa Claus – what a bastard!”), as well as that single shot of Cat, springing up from the bushes. But a better episode that series is ‘Marooned’, which is almost a two-hander, but which has some of the best gags in the history of the show. ‘Backwards’ has Lister falling off a bicycle. ‘Marooned’ has Rimmer doing the funniest Richard III you’ll ever see. Case closed.

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Anyway, I started to think about whether I could take anything from Doctor Who and run it backwards. I’ve occasionally reversed small clips in isolation – the Beckett video springs to mind – but was there any merit in anything longer? The problem was picking an appropriate scene, and seeing that inspiration was lacking I decided to ask Facebook. Someone suggested Clara’s death scene. “Anything with the Weeping Angels”, said someone else. “It’s just them backing away from people.”

There’s a lot of mileage in a scene like that but one obvious example – inspired, in part, by the scene in Red Dwarf where Rimmer and Kryten observe a woman regurgitating a cream cake – was the Fish Fingers and Custard sequence. Because it’s a wonderful moment that’s been done to death and had all the life sucked out of it with subsequent references (Why, in the name of sanity, does the TARDIS interface say ‘Fish fingers and custard’ to the Doctor when he’s lying on the floor halfway through ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’?). There is absolutely nothing new I can bring to that scene apart from reverse it and witness the Doctor’s telekinetic summoning of a reassembling plate across the garden, before sucking baked beans back into his mouth.

But what’s most striking about it is how similar it sounds to Nordic noir. As I was watching it – and particularly after I’d dropped in the background ambience, which comes courtesy of the lovely people at Cryo Chamber – it felt like I was watching a scene from The Bridge, or Modus, or Wallander (I assume; that’s one I’ve not seen yet). The analogy’s far from perfect, of course. Amelia’s house isn’t nearly Nordic enough. There’s not a single glass wall. She doesn’t even have decking. Nonetheless, the vibe is there. It’s the dialogue: it all sounds like Swedish.

And that’s given me another idea, but you’re going to have to let me finish it first…

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The New Who Top Ten: #4

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Number Four: ‘The Eleventh Hour’ (2010)

God, he looks young. I mean, the Eleventh Doctor always did. That was the main hook; this youthful, spritely thing, this man who simultaneously carried buckets of energy and centuries of experience. Women wanted to shag him. He would careen about the TARDIS like one of the stars of Swan Lake. He was an extremely physical Doctor, for all the verbal diarrhoea – certainly more physical than either of his immediate predecessors, and perhaps on a par with Pertwee. The karate was gone, but the dancing was a welcome substitute.

I know a number of Cambridge graduates, and it strikes me that there’s always been something quite Eleventh Doctor about most of them. They are brilliant and clever and (mostly) fun to be with, but at the same time you get the feeling that they are on a different level to the rest of us, one we’ll never quite reach. There is something almost unassailable about them. Oh, they don’t talk down to you. I never felt as if I was being patronised or ridiculed. But I always got the feeling I was in the presence of extremely clever people. They didn’t bask in their cleverness, but neither did they hide it under a bushel.

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I got that vibe about the Eleventh Doctor from the moment we saw him. There’s an immediate sense of detachment that you never felt with Tennant, who was always giving whatever was happening his full concentration. The moment in ‘The Hungry Earth’ where Elliott wanders off, neglected by a distracted Doctor, would never have happened on Tennant’s watch. He always seemed so focused. Smith’s Doctor, on the other hand, always seemed to have other things on his mind, as if constantly trying to consolidate Fermat’s last theorem, or remember where he left his passport.

This was Moffat’s first episode in charge, and it shows. Stylistically it is bold and innovative, from the Blade Runner-esque fast rewind through the Doctor’s memory as he struggles to remember what he saw on the green, through the fast cutting that would become a staple of this series, up to the moment he penetrates the fourth wall on the hospital roof. Adam Smith directs with flair, and Murray Gold introduces a whole string of new motifs. Moffat cleverly introduces the village of Leadworth (Ambridge to the Powell Estate’s Albert Square) and a whole host of supporting characters, most of whom we don’t see again, simply because this is all about the Doctor and Amy.

The Eleventh Hour

The episode spawned a host of catchphrases, and is arguably most notorious for the fish custard scene – an amusing joke that, like the Weeping Angels, should only ever have been employed once, and suffered with every repeat appearance. But in this scene, in which the Doctor is basically playing Tigger, it’s quite wonderful. Post-regeneration fallout hasn’t been this ridiculous since 1974, and while Smith stops short of the clown outfit, he is still just as manic, at least until he examines the crack in the bedroom wall. It took us nearly four years to get to the bottom of that crack, and it would be lovely to say that it was worth the effort – but this was one of the few times when its appearance didn’t grate, and for that would should be grateful pleased.

If the shapeshifting monster is slightly second-rate, and the Atraxi not much better, the cast more than make up for it. Darvill infuses Rory with a genial, bumbling personality that would harden later on under the Doctor’s influence, while Gillan is a vulnerable, damaged Amy, all suspicious eyes and panic – her sense of bewildered trust / mistrust is a recurring theme throughout, and the moment in the closing scenes in which she becomes overwhelmed inside the TARDIS is genuinely brilliant acting. Supporting turns from the likes of Olivia “I’m in everything!” Coleman and Annette Crosbie add flavour, but never get in the way of Smith, who is never less than compelling in every single one of his scenes.

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I don’t want to be too hyperbolic about ‘The Eleventh Hour’, because that would imply that it was a plateau. And as great as it was, things got even better – as we’ll see over the next few days – before they slumped. But this was that rare beast, a post-regeneration story that was not only good (and they’re few and far between, if you actually look at the list) but really good. From the Doctor’s first, gasping crawl over the edge of the wrecked TARDIS, desperately seeking fruit, to the moment when he informs Amy that yes, he is definitely a madman with a box, this is an episode that amuses, delights and dazzles in all the best ways. It’s not the best episode ever, or even the best Smith episode ever. But it’s a hell of an opener.

Cameron’s Episode: Vincent and the Doctor

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The Great Doctor Who Party (ii)

(If you’ve missed out on the earlier bits of this little saga, they’re available here. And here. And, if you’re really bored, here.) Let’s start with the suit, which we bought on Ebay.

That buffet, then.

“HI- I- AM-HERE-TO-FIX-YOUR-TAR-DIS.”

 

I’d much rather forget the entirety of this one, but you can’t have a children’s party without pink wafers. It isn’t wrong, but we just don’t do it.

Job well done, I think. I can take no credit for this; I did the labels and took the photos. My other half did all the work.

As I may have mentioned, the Musical Weeping Angels was a non-starter, but everyone went for the find-the-monster quiz – even though we think it was sabotaged by the eventual winners, whom I’ve now decided hid the Empty Child picture after making a note of the number, which would explain why no one else could find the damned thing. Well, you can’t win ’em all. Literally, as it turns out.

Anyway, it all went off swimmingly, and himself enjoyed it tremendously. And that, of course, is the only thing that really counts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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