Doctor Who Live: The Monsters Are Coming

Reposted from my blog.


The story may be simple, but the experience is sublime.

Hah! What a way to start a review. You can tell there's not going to be a massive amount of negativity here, can't you? Well, I will confess that I enjoyed Doctor Who Live in the way that only a massive fan with far too much gleeful enthusiasm and absolutely no shame could.

The plot (yes, there's a plot!) is very simple. The self-styled Magnificent Vorgenson, son of Vorg from the Third Doctor adventure "Carnival of Monsters" is up to his father's old tricks, but on a far grander scale. Inspired by dreams, and funded by the death of a mysterious Uncle Thay, he has invented the Minimiser, a gauntlet that can snatch living beings from time and space, store them, and rematerialise them in another place and time, and allows the wearer to control and subjugate them. With this minimiser, Vorgenson could be a mighty warlord, the despotic ruler of a hundred billion worlds. Instead, he has created what he calls "The Greatest Show In The Galaxy". (He should really have checked though. That title's taken.)

Why? The Doctor. Vorgenson is, understandably, an obsessive fan of the Last of the Time Lords.

As the show unfolds, Vorgenson uses Churchill (Nicholas Briggs), plucked out of time from D-Day, to lure the Doctor to the show, capturing him with the minimiser as soon as he steps out of the TARDIS. Oh dear. Eventually, the Daleks are revealed to be behind everything (wasn't Thay one of the Cult of Skaro?) and the Soldier, Strategist, Eternal and Scientist from the New Dalek Paradigm arrive to exterminate the Doctor. The Cybermen are released from the minimiser and, with the help of a technobabbly anti-Dalek gun, chase the genocidal tin cans into the device. The Doctor sends the monsters and Vorgenson home, and...the Supreme Dalek arrives, flying above the stage. With the audience's help, the Doctor summons the TARDIS and escapes.

Okay, if it was an episode, it would suck. But it's not. It's just a framework on which to hang the appearances of a number of Doctor Who monsters, and an excuse to have an orchestra play some of Murray Gold's wonderful themes from the last five years of the show.

The music is, of course, spectacular. I know that many viewers have issues with how Murray Gold's pieces are used in the show, but I haven't met anyone yet who can seriously criticise the music itself. If I ever do, I'll punch them, because they are quite simply, wrong. Gold's music has, in my humble opinion, been the most consistently brilliant thing in Doctor Who since 2005.

From the opening "Westminster Bridge" in "Rose" through to "Onwards!" in "The Big Bang", Gold has been instrumental (sorry) in creating and maintaining the tone of the show. And this show, with a sizeable orchestra and a small chorus, bring some of Gold's work to spine-tingling life. I haven't been able to attend any of the Doctor Who Proms, but I'll tell you now - if Murray Gold ever tours his Doctor Who music, I'm there for every night I can manage. I'll pawn all my possessions and sell a few internal organs to get tickets if necessary. I swear.

What was I talking about? Oh yes, Doctor Who Live. The music is accompanied by both montages from the show - an Eleventh Doctor montage, an Amy montage, "Victory of the Daleks", the good old Regenerations one*, and so on. Oh yeah, and there were monsters too.

The Ood, Saturnyne (the Vampire/Fish girls from Venice), Judoon, Silurians, Clockwork Robots, Cybermen, Scarecrows, Liz Ten and the Winders/Smilers all took to the stage and wandered amongst the audience, delighting and frightening children (and, yes, adults) in more or less equal measure.

(One particular scarecrow took a lot of flak during the interval, ending up with a sizeable crowd of cameraphone-toting children trying to provoke him into turning around. 'Twas amusing.)

Each group of monsters was accompanied by the appropriate piece of music, energetically conducted by Ben Foster. Several of them were also mini-narratives, such as the Judoon searching for the Doctor in the audience, or Liz Ten evading the Smilers.

Best of all though was the arrival of the Metropolitan Police, and the grisly deaths of five of them at the cold stone hands of the Weeping Angels. Having an Angel move in front of you as the light dims momentarily is a surprisingly terrifying experience. Seriously.

Actually, seeing the creatures of Doctor Who in the flesh (as it were) is surprisingly effective. When you watch the show, there is always, in the back of your mind, the sneaking suspicion that seeing them up close would be really disappointing. It's really not.

The Cybermen (huge, shiny, awesome) and the Daleks were obvious highlights - my doubts about the new Dalek design have been more or less dispelled by seeing them relatively up close. The Silurians were also a great personal pleasure, but only because they were all really hot girls and I'm very, very shallow. You'd have liked them too. Shut up. A Judoon trooper scanning a boy on the end of my row and declaring him "Species Unknown" was pretty cool too.

Oh and did I mention the flying supreme Dalek?

Matt Smith's contribution was fun too, taking the form of several nice wee pre-filmed sequences that worked perfectly alongside Nigel Planer and Nicholas Briggs' live performances. Smith gave his usual excellent performance, and the fact that he was mostly speaking direct to camera didn't seem to faze him in the least, which is nice.

So, since I've rambled on for about forever and made no sense, I'm going to stop. I said at the start that this would an unabahedly glowing review, so there. If you're looking for depth, subtext and themes, bugger off elsewhere. This was a glorious celebration of the wondeful, silly, stirring, fun world of modern Doctor Who. And I loved it.

And so did my fiancee. So there.

*A child in the row behind us took great delight in telling his father that Sylvester McCoy was the fourth Doctor, and Paul McGann the fifth, and that Christopher Ecclestone regenerated in 2001. Timey-wimey or what?
South Park

(no subject)

So, it's been a fair while since I posted, and I doubt I'll do so again in the near future, but I need to vent my spleen a little regarding today's announcement by the California Supreme Court.

I'll preface this by pointing out that obviously, I live in Glasgow, Scotland, and I'm heterosexual, so the decision to uphold Proposition 8 as law has no actual relevance to me or my life in any way whatsoever. Regardless of this, I am furious, simply livid about it.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know the situation, it is this:

The state of California has, for some time now, allowed same-sex marriages. Which is good, and put the state far ahead of much of the rest of the U.S., and much of the rest of the world (including the U.K., where the closest we have are the shameful and bloodless "civil partnerships").

During the 2008 Presidential election, California voters also voted on an amendment to the state constitution, Proposition 8, reducing the definition of marriage to cover only opposite-sex couples. The proposition had been added to the ballot after a petition gathered over a million signatures, nearly double the amount required by the initiative process that governs such.

The proposition passed with 52% of the vote, from an 80% voter turnout, meaning that roughly 41% of the voters of California were in favour of it. This in itself astounds me. At the risk of being boring, I'm going to go into some other statistics here.

* Unsurprisingly, there was a split along party lines, with 82% of Republicans voting for, compared to 36% of Democrats.
* The gender difference was negligible, with 53% of men and 52% of women in favour.
* White and Asian voters were both 49% in favour of the proposition. 53% of Hispanic voters were in favour, with a massive 70% of black voters for.
* This may in some measure correlate with religious votes, with 65% of Protestants and 64% of Catholics voting for, while only 22% of Jews and 10% of those with other or no religion in favour.
* Low and high income voters were marginally against the proposition, while those on middle incomes were mostly for it.
* The higher the level of a voter's educational attainment, the more likely they were to be against the proposition.

The wording that was added to the constitution went like this:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

This left some grey area regarding whether or not the state's existing 18,000 same-sex marriages would be retroactively annulled.

A number of lawsuits were enacted to challenge the legality of the proposition. The California Supreme Court, after consultation with the state Attorney General, decided to hear three of these challenges: Strauss vs Horton, City and County of San Francisco v. Horton and Tyler v. State of California. These challenges were predicated several grounds:

1) The inability of the initiative process to bring about a revision of the Constitution, as opposed to an amendment.
2) That the Constitution does not allow a majority vote to infringe upon the rights of a minority group.
3) A potential conflict of separation of powers in that a previous ruling the State Judiciary was being essentially ignored.
4) That it violated the inalienable human rights of homosexuals.

They announced their ruling today, as follows:

* The challenges were dismissed by a majority (6-1) vote, and the amendment upheld.
* The decision was made not to enact the amendment retroactively, so previous marriages are still valid.
* The amendment was deemed to be "narrow in scope", not affecting the "fundamental constitutional rights" of same-sex couples.

The majority opinion was prefaced by a note that the decision took into account only the law and the California Constitution, and not the Justices' "personal beliefs and values". It answered the four above issues with the following rulings:

1) That, based upon previous rulings, Proposition 8 does not violate constitutional amendment laws. As I understand it - and I will admit that my understanding is sketchy - this is predicated on the fact that it does not have an effect on the basic framework of the state Constitution, specifically not removing a same-sex couple's basic right to equal protection, instead changing the definition of marriage.
2) This was dismissed as having no supporting evidence.
3) That the proposition does not revisit or overrule any previous ruling, but establishes a new constitutional rule.
4) That not only does the proposition not violate anyone's rights, but that even "inalienable" rights can be limited or restricted. (Which seems a tad backwards to me.)

So...that's that, then.

In addition to the majority opinion, Justice Kennard gave a concurring opinion, and Justice Werdegar a concurring opinion with some reservation over the majority analysis.

The only member of the bench who comes out well is Justice Moreno, who was the lone dissenter. He concluded that the proposition did deny same-sex couples equal rights, thus undermining a fundamental principle of the state constitution:

"...even a narrow and limited exception to the promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus fundamentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment . . . . Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment for all. Promising treatment that is almost equal is fundamentally different from ensuring truly equal treatment. Granting a disfavored minority only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional imperative, that they must be granted all of those rights....it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities...weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority."

Bravo, that man.

So, going through all that has dispelled my immediate anger, and honestly I don't think I need to comment substantially on this, as Justice Moreno's opinion says it all. I will just sign off by saying that the decision appalls and disappoints me in equal measure, and that I hope it is not a signal of things to come, but rather fallout from the eight years of right-wing Christian fundamentalist lunacy that came to an end in January.

I'll wait and see.

  • Current Music
    "Crusade" soundtrack
South Park

10 Things I Like About "F"

As some others have done, a meme where I have to name 10 things I love or that make me happy beginning with the letter "F". (Letter courtesy of Vicki.)

[1] Friends. A no-brainer there.
[2] Family. See above.
[3] Film. Another easy, but true, answer, I feel.
[4] Fiction. That's another one that just is.
[5] Food. "F" is such a great letter for the obvious, isn't it?
[6] Fornication. But only with Vicki, y'hear?
[7] Fun!
[8] Facts. I am a font of useless knowledge, and I love it!
[9] Futurama! Best. Animated. Sci. Fi. Comedy. Ever.
[10] Future (the). We are constantly moving into it, and every moment is exciting and new. Good, bad or indifferent - what's not to love?
South Park

Ooh, ooh, me, me

Time for some bandwagon jumping...

1. Pick 15 of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Fill in the film title once it's guessed.
5. NO GOOGLING /using IMDb search functions.

[1] "They must be here for the sheep."

[2] A - "You still eating?"
     B - "I'm stil hungry."

[3] A - "Smoke?"
     B - "I quit" <PAUSE> "What, you got one?"

[4]  "Hi! Are you a fairy?"

[5] "What are you doing creeping around a cowshed at two o' clock in the morning? That doesn't sound very wise to me."

[6] "I know what 'proboscis' means."

[7] "That was the most fun I've ever had without laughing."

[8] "You can't do this to me; I'm an AMERICAN!"

[9] "Oh, this is too violent for me!"

[10] A - "He's a common, ignorant slob. He don't even speak good English."
       B - "Doesn't even speak good English."

[11] "My God. I haven't been fucked like that since Grade School."
 Correctly identified as Fight Club by Mack the Spoon

[12] A - "Are you trying to look unattractive?"
       B - "Yes."
       A - "Well, congratulations. You've succeeded admirably."

[13] A - "Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid?"
       B - "Always like this."

[14] "I want you to let the ballyhoo boys loose, plan a celebration, and declare a holiday."

[15] A - "Why are you dressed so scary?"
       B - "It's Halloween."

Have fun!
South Park

Musical Meme

Thanks to Monkeypants for this 'un.

- list your top five favorite musical artists.
- list your top five favorite songs from each artist.
- tag five people to do the same.

1) The Duke Spirit; Love Is An Unfamiliar Name, This Ship Was Built To Last, Win Your Love, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Into The Fold
2) Queen; Killer Queen, Under Pressure, I Was Born to Love You, You're My Best Friend, Don't Stop Me Now
3) Rilo Kiley; Does He Love You, The Execution of All Things, Portions For Foxes, Accidentl Deth*, Hail to Whatever You Found in the Sunlight That Surrounds You
4) Murray Gold; his work on Doctor Who
5) Christopher Franke; his work on Babylon 5

Okay, so I cheated a little with the last two. Whatcha gonna do?

As for tagging others...not my style. Feel free though... 

* No, I didn't mispell this. Though I may have just spelled mispell wrongly.
South Park

Oh dear...

If there's anything I dislike more than the first post on a weblog, it's the "return post", as it were, after a period of inactivity. I always feel awkward about not saying anything for so long, then I realise that no-one was reading what I wrote anyway, and feel even more awkward.

So screw it. Let's move on.