Posts Tagged With: weeping angels

The inevitable Doctor Who / John Lewis thing

buster

It’s a dog. On a trampoline.

I mean, I can’t get too excited about it. I really can’t. They were doing so well. That old man with the telescope was a work of genius, despite being scientifically implausible and mawkishly sentimental. It said something important. It was touching. It made me cry, dammit. This one was tedious. It’s not even funny. Bad Buster. Go to your kennel.

John Lewis’ Christmas advertising always makes the headlines, as people discuss the adverts, the thinking behind them, the music, the emotional fallout, the fact that this is just going to encourage parents to buy trampolines and dogs, the risk of bovine TB…do you ever think that there’s such a thing as internet pollution? I know I do. It’s just so much rubbish, with perhaps a greater emphasis than one might expect from ‘so much’ – a myriad different websites all saying more or less the same thing. It passes the time, but I wonder how much we really stand to gain from saturating the web in this way.

Anyway. This post started life as a simple collection of Photoshopped images – the Man on the Moon image, produced last year, was the first, and the others followed yesterday. But a curious thing happened while I was cutting and pasting and adjusting hues and shadows. The moment of clarity occurred when I stopped to consider the fact that the twisted snowmen who appeared in Doctor Who turned up the same Christmas that John Lewis had their own snowman trekking across the wilderness to find a present for his soon-to-be-a-puddle playmate. This by itself means nothing, until you stop and consider the fact that the developments John Lewis took with their seasonal narratives echo (with uncanny precision) the way that Doctor Who has been written and produced these past few years.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. (For obvious reasons, these concentrate on the past few years – the period when John Lewis actively started telling stories in their Christmas ads. And for what it’s worth, I tried – I really did – to work in 2011 as well. But it just didn’t fit.)

2012 – The Journey

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: An anthropomorphic snowman embarks on an epic quest to find a scarf.

In Doctor Who: A grumpy Time Lord, fond of scarves, embarks on an epic quest to investigate an anthropomorphic snowman.

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2013 – The Bear and the Hare

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: A tired, grizzly, world-weary bear is chronologically displaced when his hibernation is rudely interrupted. It turns out to be the best thing that could have happened. Features a hare.

In Doctor Who: A tired, grizzly, world-weary Time Lord is chronologically displaced when his destruction of Gallifrey is rudely interrupted. It turns out to be the best thing that could have happened. Features a rabbit.

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2014 – Monty the Penguin

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: A young boy spends Christmas with a penguin, whose living, breathing presence turns out to exist only in his imagination. He is observed by a parent, who watches as another imaginary penguin emerges from a box that appears to be bigger on the inside.

In Doctor Who: A young English teacher spends Christmas with her boyfriend, whose living, breathing presence turns out to exist only in his imagination. She is observed by a parental figure, emerging from a box that is bigger on the inside, and who once travelled with a penguin.

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2015 – Man on the Moon

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: A lonely old man, clearly not of this world, is re-invigorated thanks to the affection of a small child. And a telescope.

In Doctor Who: A lonely old man, clearly not of this world, is re-invigorated thanks to the affection of a bisexual English teacher. And an electric guitar.

Moon-Cybermen

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2016 – Buster the Boxer

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: An over-excited girl eagerly awaits the arrival of Christmas morning, only to find that her new present has been invaded by small woodland animals, and she has to wait until the dog has finished jumping on it.

In Doctor Who: A horde of over-excited fans eagerly await the arrival of a new series, only to find that it’s been delayed and that the new assistant looks a little bit like a dog, and they have to wait until the spin-off has finished.

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Spooky, isn’t it? Next week in Brian of Morbius: the nesting habits of tuna.

Categories: Crossovers | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The New Who Top Ten: #5

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Number Five: ‘Blink’ (2007)

Should this be higher?

A few years ago, it would have been an indisputable top slot. Even now I maintain it’s (mostly) impeccably structured, beautifully acted and immaculately presented. Few stories were as universally praised, or as talked about in weeks to come. Next to this, even the return of the Master seemed a relatively muted affair.

There are two problems with ‘Blink’. In the first instance, it launched a creature that swiftly became a Doctor Who sensation. Like many of Moffat’s creations, it is largely silent. Deaths, such as they are, occur offscreen. They even had their own catchphrase. But the Angels’ appeal lies in their instant familiarity, the everyday made sinister, epitomised in a final montage that’s there purely to scare the kids. If any statue can be an Angel – indeed, if any picture of a statue can be an Angel – then nowhere is safe, and I can’t help thinking that the prospect of being touched by an Angel was enough to keep many a primary school child wide awake for a night or two back in 2007.

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The big problem, of course, is that once you’ve done that, there’s nowhere for you to go. So Moffat branched in a new direction by having the next batch of Angels move, speak and even snap necks. It’s the sort of departure that has the Ninja Turtle fans up in arms, and the fact that comparatively few people seem to have complained about ‘Flesh and Stone’ is down to the fact that at time of broadcast, they were relatively new. The Tenth Doctor introduces them as “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely”, but once you’ve done that initial time travel story – and have them try and nick the TARDIS into the bargain – what do you do with them? The fact is that the Angels were one-story monsters, in the same way that the Silence were one-story monsters, the Spoonheads should have been no-story monsters and the Whispermen will probably be the subject of an out-of-court settlement with Joss Whedon.

I expanded on all the reasons the Weeping Angels are basically rubbish in a post called, appropriately, ‘Why the Weeping Angels are Rubbish‘ – written before ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’, a story that did nothing to enhance my opinion of them. But it seems churlish to pick on ‘Blink’ because of a less-than-impressive legacy. Better, instead, if we could point out that it’s actually a lot of razzle-dazzle, the problems hiding (for a change) not behind a sea of special effects but instead a whirling dervish of storytelling tricks, pretentiousness dressed up as paradox.

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The difficulty with many of Moffat’s episodes is that you’re encouraged to think, but not too much. He’s great with throwing in the clues and the mysteries and the wibbly-wobbly resolutions, but once you’re actively concentrating, as we are supposed to, the holes are as transparent as bullet-riddled tracing paper. With ‘Blink’, there are noticably fewer holes, principally because Moffat is trying to stretch an idea across a single episode, rather than an entire series. Hence ‘Blink’ hangs together with a greater coherence than, say, ‘The Wedding of River Song’. (Actually, my son’s first year art project hangs together with a greater coherence than ‘The Wedding of River Song’, so it’s perhaps not the best example.)

Nonetheless, there are traces of the misogyny for which we would know him later. Sally Sparrow is perhaps the strongest and most likeable female guest character in the last ten years. There have been petitions and campaigns to get her instilled as a regular character, one that the producers have denied on the grounds that she’s arguably too strong, and that the Doctor wouldn’t work well with such a resourceful, intelligent character. To which I say yes, of course, and ‘City of Death’ was a walking disaster. Nevertheless, the type of show they seem determined to make nowadays – where characters begin weak and feeble before developing an inner strength under the careful tutelage of the Doctor – doesn’t seem to work well with Sally’s mindset. (Somewhere in the creative ether there’s a story arc waiting to be written about a companion who travels with the Doctor and only leaves him once they’ve been well and truly messed up.)

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And yet the episode only concludes when Sally is able to deal with her obsession with the Doctor and gain narrative closure – a development that enables her, in turn, to gain romantic happiness with Larry. The Doctor is that most metaphorical of ex-boyfriends, or at the very least an internet romance – and while Sally saves the day, her brief narrative arc is ultimately defined by love. Curiously, in 2007 this didn’t bother me. Years later, having Clara flirt with the Eleventh Doctor and then get embroiled in a tedious love story, it does.

If I’m being a little harsh today, it’s largely because I’m tired of people talking about the bloody Angels as paragons of brilliance and ‘Blink’ as the ultimate example of clever storytelling. ‘Colony in Space’ is clever storytelling. So is ‘The Face of Evil’. And ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’, come to that. Clever doesn’t mean you tie your audience up in knots. It means you tell a story effectively and with sufficient emotional resonance, and you do not sacrifice narrative trickery for character development. Beware the man who says he can offer you both. More often than not, you’ll end up with neither.

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At the same time – and I think this might be the reason I continue to hold ‘Blink’ in high regard (despite having spent six paragraphs basically slagging it off) is because in 2007 – after eight episodes of Martha’s fawning and so much kitchen sink at the hands of Rose and the wretched Tylers – it was a bit of a novelty. It is loaded with amusing, memorable dialogue: witness, for example, the incredulous reaction of Larry when he learns about Sally’s miniscule DVD collection, or Sally’s realisation that Kathy lied about her age. Moffat’s never been one for naturalism, and even when his characters are in a locked room with a ticking bomb they still sound like they’re in an Oscar Wilde play, but it’s hard not to be amused, for example, at Larry’s first impression of Wester Drumlins (“You live in Scooby Doo’s house”) or Sally’s ruminations on feeling sad (“It’s happy for deep people”). Larry is, indeed, an early prototype for Rory, right down to the slightly gormless expression, but that’s not a bad thing.

Moffat also manages to tug at the heartstrings during the hospital scene, which remains almost the finest thing he ever wrote (with the exception of Miss Evangelista’s ghosting, in an episode that didn’t make the top ten). If you can live with the ludicrous final line, it’s both moving and comparatively understated, thanks in no small part to some fine performances, particularly Michael Obiora as the elderly Billy. Indeed, one of the best things about the story is the absence of its key players: we do not suffer for the general lack of Doctor, and the fact that Martha turns up only briefly is frankly a welcome bonus.

Martha-in-Blink

Plus, at its heart, ‘Blink’ is simply terrifying. The moment when the Angels eventually swoop on Sally and Larry, stalking them through the seemingly deserted house, is a fine example of how to do an effective set piece, with appropriate jump cuts and some great use of lighting. It’s hard not to feel unnerved when the Angels rock the TARDIS back and forth in their attempts to get in, and the moment when it then fades away, leaving them eternally quantum-locked (at least until someone buys up Wester Drumlins and decides to clear out the cellar), is one of initial horror followed by tremendous relief. It works. It works beautifully. It’s about the only time it ever really did, and while that’s not the only reason to single out ‘Blink’ as a miniature masterpiece, it’s certainly a good start.

Cameron’s Episode: ‘Blink (curiously enough)

Categories: New Who, Top 10 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Time-lapse of Angels

Children won’t settle? Do what I did two nights ago: download these five Weeping Angel shots from Photobucket, courtesy of Cerebral-Delirium, and set them as desktop wallpaper, timed to change every ten seconds.

Then wait for the boys to go into the study.

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Unused Doctor Who Monsters (part three)

Here we go. I’m by no means the first to make this joke, as Google will testify,  but it really was too good an opportunity to miss.

 

A significant proportion of my audience is American, and may have never heard of the Wurzels, in which case this might help.

‘Love and Monsters’ is, of course, a story that many of us would like to block from our memories, but you may recall that two of the members of L.Y.N.D.A. sing the song on which this is based, ‘Brand New Key‘, early in the episode. This parody is arguably more successful, certainly on this side of the pond. The cheers it raises in Bristol nightclubs are frankly phenomenal.

The Wurzels are not to be confused, of course, with Worzel Gummidge, a popular scarecrow who starred in a series of novels and, eventually, a TV series, starring this chap.

Worzel

 

Worzel Gummidge wasn’t Pertwee’s only TV work during the 70s and 80s. He also provided the voice of Spotty in the memorable Superted, a show about an anthropomorphic teddy bear who can transform into the titular superhero at the mere whisper of his secret magic word. Pertwee’s co-stars included Sheila Steafal, who appeared in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., Derek Griffiths, a children’s TV veteran who’s turned up in at least one Big Finish production, and Melvyn Hayes, who was married to Wendy Padbury.

Derek Griffiths (who voiced Superted) may have had his heyday years before my children were born, in the likes of Heads and Tails and Play School, but they did get to see him in the CBeebies pantomime late last year, in which he appeared as the Ghost of Christmas Past – that’s him on the left.

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They were doing A Christmas Carol, of course, with the role of the spiteful Ebeneezer Scrooge going to Andy Day. Here he is looking rather less than spiteful.

A CBeebies Christmas Carol

 

Andy can currently be seen in Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, a show in which he travels back to the Cretaceous era using a grandfather clock that glows with sparkly blue energy, and that appears to be bigger on the inside.

Dinosaur

Andy usually ventures into the past in order to obtain a vital artifact for a museum display, to replace the one that got damaged at the beginning of an episode. His encounters with the dinosaurs are wonderful – CBeebies have taken the CGI footage from 1999’s Walking With Dinosaurs and superimposed Andy over the top in order to make the programme more accessible for children. The results are very effective and highly entertaining, if a little conventional – the butterfly effect is completely ignored, and I would love, for example, to see an episode where Andy swats a fly and returns to a future where everyone has lizard tongues and the world is ruled by a despotic Mr Tumble.

1999 is the year the Master messed around with the Eye of Harmony, of course, in a story that marked Paul McGann’s debut.  This is more than likely nothing but coincidence, but it’s telling that when Daniel was playing with my figure collection in late December, during yet another airing of the CBeebies Christmas Carol, he came running into the kitchen clutching five inches of plastic, declaring “Look, Daddy! It’s Ebeneezer Scrooge!”

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It takes a while, and the links may be occasionally tenuous, but in the end, everything comes back to Doctor Who.

 

Categories: Unused Monsters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Badge for Mathematical Excellence

I mean, I’m not saying that Thomas is Adric. He’s far less irritating, for one thing, even at his worst moments. But one of the fun things about Thomas is the way he’s able to put a Whovian twist on his daily tasks.

I found these in his book bag. I have reproduced the dialogue for ease of reading. I make no apologies for his handwriting; he’s six years old, and it’s better than mine.

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“There were five doctors to save the world. Then seven more came to help them. How many are there together?”

The dedicated amongst you will realise that this is actually a shaky combination of ‘The Day of the Doctor’ and ‘The Light At The End‘. Thomas has seen the former and is aware of the latter, but if I’m going to get him as hooked on Big Finish as I am we’re going to start with ‘Cuddlesome‘, which is about dangerously psychotic teddy bears, and we’re going to do it just before bedtime.

Meanwhile, in Scooby Doo’s house:

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“There was [sic] 8 weeping angels and I blinked and 6 more came. How many weeping angels are there together? (Don’t blink!)”

 

“That drawing of the first five Doctors,” said Gareth. “It’s quite impressively accurate for Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee and Davison, but Tom Baker has come out a bit strange.”

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It’s a hat. I swear it’s a hat.

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Call off the search (the Brian of Morbius edition)

In the first instance, I’m going to copy-and-paste the paragraphs below from a similar post (with quite different specifics) over on one of my other blogs. So apologies in advance if what you’re about to read is familiar, but I couldn’t think of a better introduction. Scroll down to the search terms if you want. Go on. I don’t mind.

The other week, SJ and I were having a conversation about post popularity – not a period of time that chronologically follows popularity, but popularity of blog posts. “I wonder,” she said (I’m paraphrasing), “just how many of my so-called followers actually read what I’m writing. I’ll bet a fair number of them are spam”.

I have the same thoughts – you wonder how many of the people who blindly click the ‘follow’ button are actually digesting your missives and thoughts. I know a good number of you do, and for that I am grateful. To the rest, well, you’re excused. Lip service is part of the WordPress way, it seems, and I’d be lying if I said I had never followed blogs that I don’t read properly.

Among the regular readers, of course, there are the people who drop in because they’re looking for something. Sometimes some of my posts can provide answers – other times, judging by some of the search terms, they’ve just happened to tap in a number of words that the Googlebots determine exist in random places on different parts of my home page. So the words ‘vaseline’, ‘pornography’ and ‘live goats’ are in completely different and entirely unconnected posts, honest guv. And the money was just resting in my account.

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Every so often, I’ll scan through the site stats and make a list of some of the more interesting search terms that people have been using on their wayward journey through cyberspace – a journey that led them here, however long their rest stop. Here’s a selection from the last quarter, presented as is, including typographical errors.

– gay lesbian “brianofmorbius”
– clara tardis meh meh
– ghostbusters cardboard house with kinder eggs
– why would I give her my screwdriver
– kiefer Sutherland as morbius
– scooby doo is stupid

I’m not sure what to make of the Ghostbusters query. Nor indeed can I fathom out that first term. Did I say anything particularly profound / stupid about lesbianism that would warrant someone to look me up, either to gasp in awe or in horror? And speaking of stupid, who the hell came up with that last one? Scooby Doo is a great show. It’s a little formulaic, but that’s why it’s lasted for this long and in spite of Scrappy Doo. I would blog about this further but I’m still trying to work out whether Kiefer Sutherland would make a convincing Morbius (and I’m assuming that the Morbius in question was the Marvel vampire, as opposed to the renegade Time Lord).

But. But! That’s only the half of it. Because I’ve discovered that a bunch of search engine terms take the form of questions. (Actually, the fourth entry in that list above is technically a question, but it’s also a direct quote, and I presume it was searched with that in mind.) And I’m figuring that if you don’t try and address what your would-be readers want to know, aren’t you missing out on something? I have therefore picked up on a few of the more interesting questions I’ve had this last quarter and reprinted them below – again, verbatim – with my answers.

– on flesh and stone you can see the doctor wearing a suit when the angel had already taken him away

Indeed you can. This is one of those ‘puzzles’ the chief writer set us throughout series five, and when it happened in ‘Flesh and Stone’ I was willing to let it go, as the concept was relatively fresh. This has been covered in more blogs than I could count, so it seems somewhat redundant to include it here, but basically the Doctor’s got his jacket back because it’s not the same Doctor. It’s the Doctor from a few weeks later, travelling backwards along his own timeline just before he’s obliterated from existence. (Yes, I know it sounds silly. It really was.)

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– brian eyes burning like fire

Bright. BRIGHT EYES. I know Art Garfunkel’s diction was waning even in the 1970s, but sheesh.

I know it's scrappily done, but it almost works. Almost.

I know it’s scrappily done, but it almost works. Almost.

– does anyone understand numberjacks

No one understands Numberjacks. They just think they do. On the surface it’s an accessible children’s show about elementary mathematics problems that are solved by anthropomorphic numbers who live in a sofa. But beneath this CG-driven exterior there’s a sinister Groundhog Day-like undertone to the whole thing, as epitomised by the fact that the room they leave is constantly empty, the Numberjacks have to display the profile of every villain they face every time, and the fact that the cat is always sitting on the sofa. There’s also the white elephant that is the buddy block, the fact that the characters are apparently able to hack local CCTV (and also have cameras in places that really shouldn’t have cameras) but can’t tell the difference between a circle and an oval – oh, and the enigma of the dancing cow.

So no, nobody’s figured it out, and anyone who tells you they have is either hopelessly naïve, or just lying. (We’ve tried, though. Gareth recently asked me whether I thought Number Four was ever sad that no one was able to give him a high five, as well as observing that pink was an unfortunate choice of colour for Number Three.)

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never confuse efficiency with a liver complaint meaning

Oh, look, it’s quite simple. Katie Nanna is perpetually grumpy, correct? Her sternness and strictness were qualities that the Banks evidently looked for in their incoming nannies, requiring as they did someone to keep the children in line. But George Banks blamed her health – in particular the itching, swelling and fatigue that are early signs of liver damage – and posited that this was what was making her cross, not a natural disposition towards effective discipline.

Katie Nanna. Fond of the gin, that one.

Katie Nanna. Fond of the gin, that one.

– a town called mercy shit

Yes. Yes it is.

'A Town Called Mercy'. A low point, at least until 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS'.

‘A Town Called Mercy’. A low point, at least until ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’.

– if a weeping angel sees the silence will it forget?

Ah, the old Angels vs. Silence question, a match-up rivalled in sheer tedium only by the prospect of the Daleks vs. the Cybermen. Anyway, Joshua asked me this a while back, so I’ve had time to think it over. If an Angel is able to move towards the Silent, unobserved, then it’ll be able to attack as it normally would. The moment the Silent turns to see it, the Angel freezes like it normally would. But I’m not convinced that the Silence’s weapon of choice (that stupid Force Lightning) would have any effect on granite, so the best thing to do would be to just bow out gracefully. Observe this hastily-sketched diagram.

Angel-Silence_diag

Presumably the Silent would need to manoeuvre itself round the back of the Angel so that it could no longer be observed, keeping an eye on it at all times (and seeing as the Silence do not appear to blink, it would have a distinct tactical advantage in this department). When it leaves the room, the Angel unfreezes, but presumably forgets why it came in there in the first place, which is something that I gather happens a lot when you’re extremely old and prone to seizing up at the most inopportune moments.

– scooby doo boobies

Dude. Seriously. Get help.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

(Don’t) Blink – Easter Edition

I am quite sure my friend John wouldn’t object to my publishing this painted Weeping Angel egg he made for his not-quite teenage daughter.

Angel Egg

Happy Easter, everyone!

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Flushed with embarrassment

If you didn’t need the toilet before, you will after this.

Angel Toilet

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“‘The Angels have the phone box’. That’s my favourite. I’ve got that on a t-shirt.”

Well, that’s just bloody typical. I spend years telling Joshua to stop stretching his t-shirt and pulling it over his head. And then what happens? Someone invents a good reason for actually doing it.

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Available here (and, I’m sure, elsewhere).

Categories: New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

(Don’t) SPLINK

I thought I’d follow up yesterday’s class excursion into the murky archives of the Central Information Office with another video mashup. If you’ve not yet read the Public Information Films digest, go and do so – or at least watch the last one, right at the bottom of the post hyperlinked above, because otherwise what follows is going to seem even more obscure than usual.

Done that? Right, we can move on, and I can show you this.

This was Gareth’s idea, and for that I am grateful, because it was a solid concept that took all of an hour to put together, so I call that a win. The toughest part was obtaining a decent quality version of the Doctor’s video that wasn’t hopelessly out of sync, although I’m told it’s a special feature on a DVD I don’t own. After that it was a question of splicing the two and trimming for pacing, right down to the frame.

It’s a curious beast, though, because the version you can see above is slightly edited. In my original upload I included a somewhat tacked-on ending, which I still think is funny, but which some people think detracts from the original point. In any case the full version is below (titled ‘better version’ not because of the ending but purely because the timing improves on an earlier cut I’d uploaded), so you can make up your own mind. Just remember to look both ways.

Categories: Crossovers, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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