Sunday, 31 August 2014

Into the Dalek (time shift)

When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again.
 - Isidore of Seville

Or (if you want to be all obvious about it)

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
- Friedrich “Chuckles” Nietzsche

Me:  That’s the first one we’ve not seen on a massive screen.  In a car park.

Him:  Not ever.

Me:  No, not the first one we’ve ever seen not on a massive screen.  In a car park.  What did you think?

Pause.  The Him stares grumpily.1

Me:  I’m doing it again.  Okay.  Dalek stories can be a bit tricky.  Did you think that was a good Dalek story?2

Him:  Well, I don’t understand what was wrong with the scripts for the first ten Dalek stories.

Me:  What, including Victory of the Daleks?

Him:  No.  The first ten Dalek stories.

Me:  Back in the Sixties?

Him:  Back when it was the same script.

Me:  Ha!  “From the pen of Terry Nation.”

Him:  Yeah.  That’s what you say, at least.  They’re all very different as far as I’m concerned.

Me:  Well, he changes the names.  Not everyone’s called ‘Tarrant’.

Him:  ‘Terry’, ‘Terrance’, ‘Terran’, ‘Tarran’…

Me:  ‘Tarrant’.  Okay.  Do you think Journey’s brother’s going to turn out to be Danny?  Seeing as her surname’s Blue and his is Pink?

Him:  I have no idea what you just asked.

Me:  Right at the very start of the episode, Journey's brother’s in the cockpit – but we don’t get a good look at him.  Do you think he’ll turn out to be Danny Pink?

Him:  Brothers tend to have the same surname as their sisters.

Me:  Fair enough.  Thoughts on Missy?

Him:  I knew it was going to be her the second it… did… that.

Me:  Were you surprised?

Him:  What do you mean?

Me:  Instead of having it as a twist at the end, right in the middle of the episode all of a sudden, “Would you like some tea?  Little splosh?”

Him:  No, no.  The second that the screaming was the only noise, I could tell that was what was going to happen there.

Me:  It was a good scream as well.  I thought some of the exterminations looked brilliant.  Right.  I’ve got my theory that Steven Moffat’s rebooted the series from scratch having had the Doctor die of old age, making this the ‘First’ Doctor all over again, which is another reason why the Doctor doesn’t have a numbering system.  It kind of holds true at the moment because the first story was set in London in the past-

Him:  You can’t say that about An Unearthly Child because we’ve got to assume that most of it’s not set in London and might be set on another world.

Me:  Yeah, it could be set anywhere, couldn’t it?  I think Deep Breath reminds me more of Spearhead From Space than anything else.  Or the Jon Pertwee era anyway.

Me:  Yeah, a bit.  I don’t know why because obviously it’s not-

Him:  It’s not.

Me:  Rose is closer to Spearhead From Space because it’s got the Autons.  It’s just the feel of it.  It felt a bit ‘Third Doctor’.  Deep Breath’s got a dinosaur standing in the Thames, so that’s a sort-of reference to Terror of the Zygons.  This one, apart from being the second story and-

Him:  You’re going to compare Deep Breath to Terror of the Zygons now?

Me:  No.  Terror of the Zygons is alluded to.  There’s been lots and lots of little things-

Him:  Last time you were comparing that one to Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Me:  Yeah, I was.  Look, you’ve got a dinosaur standing in the Thames, like there’s been a Skarasen standing in the Thames.

Him:  But it’s not a dinosaur.

Me:  I know the Skarasen’s not a dinosaur.  It’s a similar set-up.  There’s a similar vibe.  So…  This is the second of the new Doctor stories and it’s featuring the Daleks, so it’s resetting the Daleks again, in the same place that the series did when it first started off.3  Back in 1963 the audience weren’t sure who the Doctor was and he looked like someone who might actually kill people who got in his way.  That’s something that may or may not be being hinted at here.  There’re so many little touches going on within these two stories…  Fantastic Voyage gets a reference there, which takes us back to The Invisible Enemy.  So there’s another echo of the Tom Baker era.  You’ve got Nick Briggs saying things like, “DEATH-TO-THE-DA-LEKS!” and “SEEK!-LO-CATE!!-DE-STROY!!!”

Him:  “And also people breathed and they were the same amount of breaths in this story as there were in the 1968 classic.”

Me:  Well…  Yeah, alright.  I know what you mean.  Some of the references that people are moaning about…  There are complaints that it hearkens back to the past too much.  Like I’ve said before, they’re not bothered by the ones they haven’t noticed.  So, if they haven’t noticed something that’s been put in there-

Him:  "Like, for instance, that this one has the same amount of extras as-"

Me:  No, no, no.  Little things like…  Strax going on about the female thorax, which is something that Sontarans seemed to be obsessed with going on The Time Warrior and The Sontaran Experiment.  I haven’t seen that being mentioned – and this is just an example – I haven’t seen that being mentioned by people who’ve been moaning about “You’ve redecorated.  I don’t like it.” or “Here we go again.”  It’s a running gag. That’s the way it goes.  Okay, do you know any of Russell T. Davies’ nicknames?

Him:  ‘Russell The Davies’.

Me:  There’s that one.  There’s also ‘Russell Tiberius Davies’ and ‘Rusty’.


Him:  That’s nice.  Only you call him ‘Russell Tiberius Davies’.

Me:  Ha!  I think that’s one for the-

Him:  No!  Only you do that.

Me:  ‘Resistance is futile.’  Speaking of Star Trek references.  Let’s get them out of the way.  I can’t stand Star Trek.

Him:  Then why were you always going about ‘Resistance is futile’ then?

Me:  I wasn’t.  I was referencing ‘Resistance is useless’ because that’s the sort of thing you get Vogans shouting and Cybermen being smug about.  What was your favourite bit? 

The Him shrugs verbally.

Me:  You were glued to it.

Another verbal shrug.

Me:  Did it seem longer than forty-six minutes?

Him:  No.

Me:  Did it go quite quick?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  Yeah, I thought so.  What are your thoughts on Peter Capaldi now? 

Him:  Yeah, I think he’s good.  I think he’s written completely mentally.

Me:  Do you like the dynamic between him and Clara?

Him:  What dynamic?

Me:  It’s gone back to the Tom Bakerish, “You’re a very beautiful woman.  Probably.”  “It’s nice to see you’re making an effort.”  I dunno…  I’m impressed with him.  It reminded me a bit of Dalek and also…4  I think it’s probably better than Dalek because it doesn’t have Adam in it.  

Him:  That’s not a fair comparison.  You love Dalek.

Me:  Yeah, I think Dalek’s brilliant.  But it does have Adam in it.

Him:  That’s not a reason to judge Dalek.  Do you really think this one’s better than Dalek?

Me:  I don’t think Into the Dalek would be what it is if Dalek hadn’t been written, so I think Robert Shearman – by a hair – has still got the best modern Dalek story.  Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways is quite close.  Not just because it’s fresh and things have moved on, I think Into the Dalek… is the best modern Doctor Who Dalek story that doesn’t star Christopher Eccleston.

Him:  Okay.  That’ll do.  Do you hate Adam or Martha more?

Me:  I wouldn't say 'hate'.  Both times it comes down to miscasting, I think. 

Him:  You’re supposed to hate Adam.

Me:  Well, that’s it isn’t it?  He’s a companion who fails.  Rose makes similar mistakes…  We’ll come back to that. 

Him:  See!  It puts you on the spot when you’re being asked questions, doesn’t it?  It makes you forget what you were going to say.

Me:  Based on these two episodes so far, I think this is more exciting, more interesting and almost more ‘Doctor Who’ – in a classic sense – than the series has been in a long, long time.  I’m enjoying Doctor Who now, more than I have done… since 2006.


Him:  Really?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Really?

Me:  Really.  But that’s partly because there’s a classic air to it and so that appeals to me, personally.  I also don’t think that it’s going to hurt kids.  I think it’s more inclusive, in some ways, than it’s been recently - even though it’s a kids show, or a family show.  I’ve noticed a lot of people on the Net writing some absolute tosh-

Him:  Can you edit that to make you sound more clever than using the word ‘tosh’?

Me:  I used the word ‘tosh’ in our last post because it gives me a chance to very, very subtly reference one of my favourite eras of Doctor Who.


Him:  Still…

Me:  See?  No-one’s going to get that.

Him:  Use another word.

Me:  Other than ‘tosh’?

Him:  Yeah.  Anything else.  Just say ‘squirrel’ instead.

Me:  What did you think of Danny Pink?

Him:  We’ve already been threatened by Steven Moffat that he’s going to be making reoccurring appearances.  You thought he was going to be the one with the floppy hair in The Day of the Doctor.

Me:  Up until I saw the cast list.  There’s a kind of Tom Baker air – amongst others – to the way that Capaldi’s playing it and it reminds me…  I reckon that we could be looking at a Harry Sullivan/Sarah Jane Smith/Fourth Doctor type thing.

Him:  Right.

Me:  And I’m not going to object to that at all.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  Just based on that, he’s very good.  I like the domesticity of the Coal Hill arrangement as well.

Him:  And, of course, a new Harry Sullivan might get to do some running around.

Me:  That’d be good, wouldn’t it?  Alright then, anything you want to say before we finish with barnyard noises?

Him:  No.

Me:  Okay, ready?

Him:  We’ve already done barnyard noises.

Me:  I’m just looking for another excuse to bellow “MAN YAK!

Him:  Well, you can’t.  You’ve already said it now, so we’ve got to change the noise subject.

Me:  Um…  What shall we do instead? 

Him:  You choose.

Me:  Go on, make a noise like a Zarbi.

Me:  And on that bombshell…

1.  The Him hates being asked directly what he thinks.  Sometimes I forget this, which is why there’s a fair bit of going off-road in our 'reviews'.  Well, it’s one of the reasons. 

2.  Note the use of the closed question there.  You’d think this was an actual annotated conversation or something. 

3.  We’ll skip the rumour that the Daleks need to be trotted out at least once every calendar year for much the same reason that Roger Corman ended up making a Fantastic Four movie  

4.  Apparently the leaked workprint contained an extra scene at the end, in which Rusty was shown returning to the Dalek ship and exploding himself.  According to the Kembel drums, this particular noble sacrifice5 was done in the same style as the one in Utah.  Nobody’s mentioned yet whether Rusty subsequently pops up in Missy’s Heavenly tea shop demanding the finest wine. 

5.  Dalek story noble sacrifice trope/plot point c. Terry N. 1964. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Deep Breath (live)

One measures a circle beginning anywhere.
- Charles Fort


Don’t ruin it. 
– Zoë Ball

Me:  So, that was Deep Breath.  Did it feel like ages since we’d last seen any new Doctor Who to you?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  We watched all the World Tour video recaps in preparation before we left for the cinema – and the countdowns too – we watched those all in one go.  Did that help build up your enthusiasm?

Him:  No.

Me:  Ha!  And we watched…  Let’s see…  We watched quite a bit.  We watched The Name of the Doctor, The Night of the Doctor-

Him:  Which one’s Night of the Doctor?

Me:  It’s the one that doesn’t count.

Him:  Yes, we did watch Night of the Doctor.  There are too many ‘Of the Doctor’s to keep track of.  Night of the Living Doctor being one of them.

Me:  And then we watched Dawn of the Doctor, Day of the Doctor-

Him:  I’ve already made that joke!

Me:  City of the Living Doctor, Land of the Doctor, Diary of the Doctor and Survival of the Doctor, which was rubbish.  Ummm…  Simon Pegg – who didn’t play the Master was-  Oh!  That reminds me.  Missy!


Him:  Yeah?

Me:  Who d’you think Missy is?

Him:  I’m not sure that…  I care at this moment in time.  But, I’m sure that Steven Moffat will make us care.

Me:  I think so.

Him:  She’ll probably be him as a child.

Me:  Ha!  Well, there’s rumblings about River Song and, “It’s short for ‘Mistress’.”  So maybe we could be looking at a female Master, which I think’d be quite good.  Michelle Gomez is very good in the part from what we’ve seen.  I had a bit of a thought that I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere else yet.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  Could be Miss Evangelista.  Because she’s kind of uploaded to heaven.

Him:  Yeah, true.

Me:  And then that could tie in with River Song.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens.  I’m quite excited by the whole thing.1  Alright, what did you think of the Paternoster Gang in Deep Breath?

Him:  Well, they’re in everything.

Me:  Do you think they should have a spin-off series?

Him:  I think if they had a spin-off series then Steven Moffat would write it and maybe just do that forever. 

Me:  It’d give him something to do later on, wouldn’t it?  I think they’re worth a series.  I’m going to hide my ‘review’ in the footnotes, because a lot of what I want to say is a little bit different to, possibly, what our regular readers might be expecting.

Him:  Did you think it was terrible?  You did!  You thought it was terrible, didn’t you?

Me:  You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Him:  I want to know now.


Me:  I’ve renamed the ages on the psychoGEOLOGY page and that should give anyone who’s really that interested an idea of what I thought about it.  The Matt Smith era is now the Second Silver Age-

Him:  You should’ve left it as the Second Golden Age and made this the ‘Capaldage’.

Me:  Ha!  I should’ve!  Do you think they spent too much time on him being old?

Him:  Maybe.

Me:  It’s talked about a lot within the episode, which is really weird because it’s not like Clara’s unaware of regeneration seeing as she’s sat in his regeneration stream and counted them.

Him:  True.

Me:  So, that seemed a little bit odd.  And then-

Him:  And after she’s seen Colin Baker, she should really be sure that he can transform into anything.

Me:  Oh!  Right.  We saw it in the top floor of a car park.  It was massive-

Him:  It was actually the second floor of a car park.

Me:  Alright then.  It was pretty big.  It took up the whole of the floor by the feel of it.

Him:  Well, the second floor’s got very few screens just because that one is so big.

Me:  That’s probably why.  It hadn’t sold out, even though it was supposed to-

Him:  I think some people just didn’t show up.3

Me:  When we got there the foyer was packed.  I haven’t seen this before – there was a Dalek usher checking tickets and things.  We’d only just flown in from the Arctic-  I noticed members of Glasgow Who hanging around there.  There’s a bit of link with Glasgow Who and Peter Capaldi and the time I ‘met’ Peter Capaldi, so I’ll-

Him:  It was all in Glasgow.

Me:  It was.  I’ll put a link here to that one. 

Him:  That’s nice.

Me:  Extra features.  We had a few.

Him:  A total of eighteen minutes of bonus material.

Me:  And what was the first one of those?

Him:  I’ll leave that to you to explain.

Me:  As before, when we saw The Day of the Doctor – but not, oddly enough, when we saw Monty Python (Mostly) Live – there was a brief introduction from Strax.  He was explaining the whole process of regeneration for anyone who’d casually, accidentally spent a load of money buying a ticket to go and see something that they could’ve watched at home for free.  I don’t know how many new viewers the BBC were expecting to pick up in however many cinemas it was being broadcast in- 

Him:  You loved the introduction. 

Me:  I thought it was great.  I hope Steven Moffat wrote that.  I’ll be a bit disappointed if it turns out to be written by someone else and I’m praising them simply because I didn’t see a credit for it.  I’ve got bias to maintain here.  I thought it was really good.  Some of it was a little bit forced.  To be honest, that bit had – as with the majority of extra Who material – it’s the Murray Gold music that sounds really forced.  It didn’t match the action.  Someone’s just pressed play at the start of the scene and left the track in there.  It’s like temp music you’d find on a workprint or something, it’s just been left in as an approximation that really doesn’t add to it.  They’d be better leaving it off or writing something new.  But I’m going to talk about Murray Gold properly in the ‘review’. 

Him:  You love him. 

Me:  I though the way Strax broke down all the different regenerations was terrific.  The misunderstanding for comic effect worked well throughout.  It was a treat hearing that many people laugh- 

Him:  People tend to laugh when things are funny. 

Me:  So, who did we see?  There was a guy dressed up as the Fifth Doctor. 

Him:  Yep.  There was another guy dressed up as Peter Davison. 

Me:  Ha!  There were a couple of people dressed up as the Fourth Doctor.  Quite a few bow ties and fezzes, the odd Mohican – I can’t remember which Doctor that was, probably one we haven’t had yet.  So, that was the first thing.  Then we had the main show…  The new titles.  Do you like them? 

Him:  No.  But, I’m never a fan of them.  The music’s alright, it’s just so… bizarre.

Me:  I’m going to say that I think the music’s a vast improvement on the tosh that we’ve had to put up with for the last few years.  Having said that, there was one variation of the Tennant theme that must’ve gone a bit Delaware and escaped…  It sounded really powerful and…  I liked it for a moment.  That was a while back.  Okay, what did you think of the Half-Face Man?  Did you think they were scary? 

Him:  Who’s ‘they’? 

Me:  All the clockwork lot. 

Him:  There’s something about things that don’t move the way they should that I don’t like. 

Me:  That’s what they’re going for.  The movement was really good and the sounds- 


Me:  Did you notice London was invaded by a dinosaur? 

Him:  Yeah, I was there. 

Me:  Pretty good dinosaur effect.  In London.  Jon Pertwee reference? 

Him:  No.4 

Me:  The whole ‘regeneration episode’ thing, did you think Peter Capaldi did it well?  All the disorientation-while-your-brain’s-rebooting-and-all-that. 

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  There’s a couple of things that I want to come back to that tie-in with the extra bit at the end.  After the episode had finished, we had a rebooted Doctor Who Confidential with the wrong name – more DVD extra stuff.  It makes sense.  There’s been so much time and energy invested that there should be makings-of, there really should. 

Him:  “Because that’s how you ruin the experience.” 

Me:   Yeah.  It was a bit of a pain having to sit through it in the cinema without the option of going straight to the Q and A.  It’s just an electronic press kit really, VAM to be stuck on the end of a DVD, or the Red Button, as a lightweight distraction.5  The presenter was too enthusiastic as well, like being bludgeoned by a puppy that’s really, really missed you.  It’d be nice for the BBC to tone that sort of thing down.  It feels as though the whole series has slowed down going on- 

Him:  That’s because the episode was longer. 

Me:  They slowed down the scenes to give them a chance to breath, is that what you mean?  And no, I didn’t intend the pun. 

Him:  Yeah. 

Me:  The second-  No, the third piece of additional exclusive bonus material- 

Him:  Oh yeah. 

Me:  -was the Q and A session between Zoe Ball, Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman.  Interestingly, the only person who made a mistake and looked mortified-  Did you notice it?  Peter Capaldi got Nicholas Courtney’s name wrong and made it sound like Nick Briggs had passed on.  I felt really bad for him.  The pressure must’ve been immense and after the tour and the hype frenzy, his head must be whirling. 

Him:  Yeah. 

Me:  You could tell that wasn’t just-  Not like the Hound's gaffe.

Him:  Well, that wasn’t intentional either. 

Me:  No, but there’d be more sympathy from me if the Hound hadn’t been so rude about fans. 

Him:  You’re going to cut this bit out, aren’t you? 

Me:  Some of it.  Steven Moffat came across brilliantly.  In my opinion.  He was self-deprecating and…  I think we’ve been giving him far too hard a ride.  Genuinely.  He’s got an impossible job.  Did you think the balance was right between the humour and the- 

Him:  It was a lot funnier with Peter Capaldi than it was with Matt Smith, oddly enough.  Maybe that’s because it’s the first episode with him and every single joke in the series’ll have been pushed into there and the rest of it’ll be really dull and bland. 

Me:  Or it’ll just get grimmer and grimmer. 

Him:  Uh-huh. 

Me:   Don’t worry, Mark Gatiss has written one, so I’m sure that they’ll be jokes a’plenty. 

Him:  You loved The Crimson Horror. 

Me:   I thought The Crimson ‘orror was really good.  The best thing Gatiss has written for the series.  That’s because it’s one that really plays to his strengths. 

Him:  What are his strengths? 

Me:  Writing stuff that sounds like League of Gentleman.  Pastiche.  Sketches.  Grotesques.  Or Horror Documentaries.  We sort of started talking about Peter Capaldi, so let’s keep going.  He said the moment you see how he’s going to play the Doctor is the very final scene with him in it, the phonecall.  What did you think of that scene?  Were you expecting anything like that?

Him:  It’s Steven Moffat.  If you’re expecting something then he’s not going to do it. 

Me:  Alright.  That’s good.  Peter Capaldi’s been waiting all his life to do this.  What about Jenna Coleman as Clara?  It’s a different companion dynamic now to the way that it was with Matt Smith.  The whole, “I’m not your boyfriend,” draws a line under… something.  I’ve seen comments from people who feel that the phone-call scene was put in to please fangirls, but that seems like a rum way of looking at it.  I think it’s there to ease the transition across- 

Him:  “Yes!  They’re gone.” 

Me:  That was the reaction of fans who’re approaching it- I read some terrible things in a comments section on [redacted on lawyer’s advice] that really shocked me.  It doesn’t say much about the state of fandom- 

Him:   Are you going to tell me what these things were? 

Me:   No. 

Him:  You can leave it out of the actual- 

Me:  I’ll tell you later.  Let’s wrap up then.  Do you think there should be more Doctor Who in the cinema? 

Him:  It seemed a bit random to put it in the cinema. 

Me:  Why’d they do it? 

Him:  To hype it up again, since it’s been several years since we last had a Doctor Who episode. 

Me:  Ha! 

Him:  This year we’re only getting two and then in three years time we’ll get the next two. 

Me:   Nah.  It’s a full run of twelve, all in one go.  No breaks. 

Him:  Well, that’s familiar.  Like years and years ago. 

Me:  Are you looking forward to the rest of the series? 

Him:  Are you? 

Me:   Yeah, I am.  Very much.  Do you think he’s going to be a good Doctor? 

Him:  Yeah. 

Me:   Me too.  Alright, I’ll stick my review under this and we should probably just make barnyard noises for a while. 

Him:  “MOOO!” 

Me:  MAN YAK!”  Oh!  One thing I almost forgot to point out...1

1.  Me:  So, when the Doctor and Clara descend into the pit under Mancini’s, and they’re surrounded by all the clockwork droids – ‘cause it’s the sequel to The Girl in the Fireplace, of course.  I thought this was a much better episode than The Girl in the Fireplace, because I’m one of the few people who think that one’s quite hokey and not really very good at all…  I’ll just put that in there. 

Him:  You loved it when you first saw it.  As opposed to Tooth and Claw, which you hated. 

Me:  You’re allowed to change your mind about things. 

Him:  But that’s such a weird change of mind. 

Me:  Okay, I now think The Girl in the Fireplace is horrendously over-rated, in much the same way that I think Vincent and the Doctor is actually a dangerously misjudged piece of television and one of the worst things that’s been shown as part of the series.  But that’s just my opinion. 

Him:  “And everyone else should think that.”2 

Me:  Not at all, people should- 

Him:  “No-one should think that.”

Me:  Ha!  People should reach their own conclusions about these things.  I’m just saying how I see things and not telling people how to think.  Now then, if you look in the Mancini basement alcoves you’ll notice that one of the clockwork droids looks an awful lot like it should be in The Mind Robber.  Now, I wonder whether or not, maybe Missy is the Master.  "But probably not the one you were expecting." 


Him:  Okay… 

Me:  Because the Master first appeared – well, apart from The Space Museum, where the Doctor decided he was the Master.  And a Dalek. – The Master first appeared in The Mind Robber, as a character who’d later crop up in Promethea.  In fact, this ties in nicely with stuff that I’ve been saying about the Doctor being a fictional construct- 

Him:  Yawn.

Me:  -and whether or not…  Well, it’s my theory about The Chase, which I should probably reveal at some point soon, just in case it turns out that’s what’s going on in the next series.  It’s the World of Fiction.  Now, it’s not impossible that what we’re seeing here is that we’re in the World of Fiction. 


Him:   Yeees… 

Me:  And why not?  The Doctor is – like I’ve said before – real. How important are the faces we wear?  Can we trust them?  Let’s reflect upon reflections – we’ve seen a mirror lie before after all.


Me:  That’s for another day.  I’ll have to explain why The Chase is one of the greatest pieces of- 

Him:  Yeah, because you still won’t say. 

Me:  No.  Although I’ve hinted at it a few times.  Okay.  Thanks for playing.6

2.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed there’re a few people in fandom – not all of them on forums - who seem to believe this, loudly, which is a shame.

3.   As part of the obligatory Car Park Attendant’s speech – “Exits are located here, here and there.  In the event of a fire, it’s the end.” etc. – whoever was sitting in seat K9 was offered complimentary buckets of popcorn and carbonated sugar fluid.  The seat was unoccupied. 

4.  Yeah, it was, and it was one of lots.  I’m hesitant about using the term ‘kisses to the past’ for several reasons, most of them being that the obvious references have vastly annoyed a surprising amount of fans (if the internet’s to be believed) whilst the ones they missed didn’t bug ‘em at all.  We’ll get back to The Mind Robber earlier.1 

5.  Like Night of the Doctor.

6.  Deep Breath ‘review’.  Apart from the fact that every department, including music, has – finally - given itself a kick up the backside/moved up a gear, see above for full details.

Sir Lee at Rawlings End (Choose Your Own Adventure variant)

You continue to make your way around the wall, turning left at each junction.  Suddenly you find an alcove.  Inside it are three futuristic-looking metal cabinets, decorated with rapidly spinning wheels.  Resting on top of these are two mirrors filled with flashing magickal images, some dark sorcery no doubt.  A quizzical-looking man - a wizard? - stands behind three more similarly enchanted mirrors.  The damp hush fills steadily with a disorientating fugue of chattering voices and screeching.  

You're pinned to the damp turf, unable to move or intervene as a strange metal object falls from the sky and knocks the wizard messily unconscious.  As he slumps forward you feel the glamour lift.  Oddly, the cacophony of voices continues. 

And there's still no cake.

Do you:

   Concentrate on the cacophony?

   Examine the mirrors?

   Examine the wizard's pockets and sleeves?

   Examine the strange metal object?

   Smash the mirrors?

   Go on your way?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sockwatching Holiday Special 2014

It has always surprised me how little attention philosophers have paid to humour, since it is a more significant process of mind than reason.  Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humour process is involved in changing them.
- Edward de Bono

Me:  Okay, so we’re actually in the car…  I say ‘car’, what are we in?

Him:  The car.

Me:  The car.  On our way back from seeing the Socks.  Did you have a good time?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  What did you think of Edinburgh?

Him:  Well, it was the same as it always is.

Me:  Same location?  Same height?  Same general texture?

Him:  It doesn’t change.

Me:  It does change a bit, it gets older.

Him:  No.  And they still haven’t fixed the cobbles.

Me:  Can they fly?

Long pause.  Like a honey badger after an accident with a mangler.

Him:  No.

Me:  Long paws there.  So, the Socks!  New show.

Him:  Yes.  Mostly.

Me:  The seventh-

Him:  Not our seventh.

Me:  No, not our seventh, it was our…  What was it our?

Him:  Third.

Me:  Third?  Let’s get things in perspective.  Earlier on in the day we dressed up.  Did a bit of cosplay.

Him:  No.  We put on masks.

Mystery Voice:  Seemed like more of a threat to me.

Me:  It did look really frightening.  I didn’t think it was going to come out quite so disturbing.  Sorry about that.  Anyway, here’s a picture of it.

Me:  So, we got landed.  Got a tram.  We didn’t get a tram.

Him:  ‘Got a tramp’?

Me:  A tram.  They’ve put tramlines down now, all through-

Him:  That’s right.  Weren’t they going to have to take them back out?

Me:  I think there was a point where it was going to be cheaper to remove the whole thing than to actually finish it.

Him:  Yup.

Me:  But they’ve finished it and now there’s trams.  And they toll.

Him:  They ‘toll’?

Me:  They toll.  They make a kind of a ‘DONG!’ noise as they’re going around.

Mystery Voice:  So, because Glasgow had the money for the Commonwealth Games did they think they should give Edinburgh some to finish the trams?  They probably cost about the same.

Me:  Ha!  Edinburgh got trams and Glasgow got life-size Tunnock’s tea cakes, which is quite impressive.  Still, here we are on the way back to the helicopter that’ll take us back to the Arctic and…  Oh, yeah!  Socks!  So, they were in the Gilded Balloon again.

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Different room this year.

Him:  Urm…  Yeah.

Me:  Same entrance, different room.  That was confusing.

Him:  It wasn’t the same entrance.  Well, it was but it wasn’t.

Me:  It was hot, wasn’t it?

Him:  Yes.  I didn’t notice until the show had ended and the doors were opened.

Me:  Sell out show.

Him:  Yes.

Me:  Which was fantastic.  I’m not sure but I thought the room was bigger than last year – or the last few years.  Good on ‘em.

Him:  I don’t think that we really do reviews.

Me:  Ha!  I don’t think we do either.  Let’s see…  There were tellies while we were waiting, that was quite nice, they were showing things.

Me:  I thought the Socks were great.  Well, they’re always great. 

Mystery Voice:  You told them to break a leg for the rest of the run.

Me:  Yeah, at the end we hung around and met the Socks’ manager.  I’d dug out some – When we were down the Nostalgia Mine last weekend I dug out some copies of UT which was quite an intriguing periodical.

Him:  I don’t know anything about it.
Me:  No, you wouldn’t.  And you’re not going to know anything about it for a good few years yet.  I thought the songs were good…  Politics!  Do you want to say anything about politics?

Him:  No.

Me:  Nothing at all?

Him:  No.

Me:  Okay.  It was weird because last year you and I saw the Socks once, me and the Mystery Voice saw the Socks twice and I saw the Socks… three times.  And I haven’t just said that as an excuse to link to all the previous posts.

Him:  Yes, you did.

Me:  No I didn’t.

Him:  Yes.  You did.

Me:  I might’ve done.  I did miss one of the Socks posts so I’d probably better put that link in… here

Him:  Yeah.

Mystery Voice:  I think it’s pretty clear what’s going on here.

Me:  I think it might be.  We’re nearly at the helicopter so we’d better hurry this along.  What are your thoughts on English independence from Scotland?

The Him shrugs verbally.

Me:  Fair enough

Mystery Voice:  It’s what all the kids talk about in school.

Me:  It is.  All the cool kids anyway.  ‘Eifs’ they call it.  ‘England’s Independence from Scotland’.  The ‘Eifs’.  

Him:  Hilarious.

Me:  And, as Tegan once said – she’s Australian, like Noah – it’s one of the most powerful words in the English language.

Him:  What?  ‘Eifs’?

Me:  Eifs.  I dunno.  ‘Index file’?  That’s not going to work.  No-one’s going to get that.  I almost referenced a Mark Watson gag earlier on, because I was starting to steal it by accident-

Him:  Will anyone get it?

Me:  I don’t know.  The thing is it’s not…  I’m going to talk about…  The Mystery Voice and myself have been to a fair few other performances this week and I’m going to write them up in the footnotes.1  Before I do that, I just wanted to finish off by saying a couple of things that…  I’ll edit this bit out.

Him:  Aren’t you going to type this up?

Me:  I have typed it up.  That’s it, that’s the end pretty much.  How many stars would you give the Socks?

Him:  I don’t know.  You’re breaking the fourth wall so much here that you’ve knocked into the fifth wall too.

Me:  Ha! 

Him:  And now you’re leaning against the sixth wall, smashing the fifth wall with a mallet.

Me:  I’m better at destruction than construction.  You have to destroy to create.

Him:  That’s not true at all.

Me:  No, I know.  It’s a rubbish thing to say, isn’t it?  “What are you making there?”  “A MESS!”

Him:  “An omelette.”

Him:  Is that a threat?  What have you got against Mark Watson?

Me:  I haven’t got anything against Mark Watson.  I also don’t have anything against Lucy Porter, Robin Ince, Sara Pascoe, Katherine Ryan, Stewart Lee or Richard Herring.1

Him:  What’s wrong with Mark Watson?

Me:  Nothing’s wrong with Mark Watson!

Him:  Why’d you want to break his legs?

Me:  I don’t want to break his legs!  I’ve got nothing against him at all.

Him:  What have you got against his legs?

Me:  I’m not rubbing anything against his legs.  Stop it!

Him:  Why’d you want to break his legs then?

Me:  I don’t!  Right – that’s enough!  How many stars are you going to give the Socks?

Him:  I’m not allowed to answer that question.

Me:  You are.

Him:  I’m not.

Me:  Same as last year?

Him:  I don’t know what that rating was.

Me:  We can just use the same picture.

Him:  That’s cool.

Me:  Okay.  Lady and Gentleman, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre rating for 2014 is… 


Him:  That’ll look terrible when it’s typed. 

Me:  What?  Just above this?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  And this? 

Him:  Yes.

Me:  And this? 

Him:  No.

In 2015: 

Me:  Lady and Gentleman, the footnotes…

1.  Following last year’s Fringe frenzy, the Mystery Voice decided to plan a more direct assault taking in as many comedians as possible over two days.  Here’s how that panned out.

We started in The Stand as it’s become a tradition.2  Rather than the Richard Herring podcast recording that kicked off the last couple of years, this time we got to see Lucy Porter, who was cheerful, very funny and exactly what we needed to get us warmed up.  And that’s not to be read in a disparaging way – any other time she would’ve been both a headline act and a full night out, but we were binging.

We hung around afterward (take it as read that this happened a lot and I can skip typing it) and got our tickets signed without being chased off by an unbearded Rasputin.  Which was nice.

Next up was a bit of free time, so we wandered Edinburgh, taking photos of the same things we always do.  It rained for a short while – I was wearing a hat, so that was fine – and then the sun came out with a vengeance.  I was hoping for steaming pavements but no such luck.  We headed over the road to a different The Stand and stood behind a fellow with the rules to Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock printed on his t-shirt.  Just saying.


Robin Ince was pacing the stage when we arrived.  We grabbed seats in the front row and sat down just in time for me to realise I’d left the copy of Dodgem Logic in the helicopter.  Oh well.

I’ve been following Robin Ince (like most people) since his Gervais Peril Monkey days, via the book about charity shopping for books, various podcasts and Dodgem Logic articles, so I had a fair idea of how this was going to work out.   And anyone who extols the virtues of pipe-smoking legend (and crustacean nightmare-meister) Guy N Smith is fine with me.

The show started slow, Mr Ince’d lost his voice due to bellowing, but didn’t take long to start accelerating until it reached a glorious fact/tangent frenzy.  Exhilarating and dizzying.  I’d not long listened to the Infinite Monkey Cage episodes that cropped up in the Brian Blessed and Alan Moore anecdotes, so that made me nicely smug.  In a moment of audience participation we got asked if anyone, whilst holding a baby, had ever found themselves having one of those “but what if I chucked it out of the window?” moments.  Ten of us put our hands up.  Turns out this is a good sign because it means you’re less likely to act on the thought.  We also learned about oxytocin, the hormone that makes me weep like an untended lesion during trailers (specifically the one for Fellowship of the Ring – I’m not telling you which bit), Finding Nemo and This Woman’s Work by Kate Bush.  That last one’s a bit of a mystery to be fair, it's probably the chords.  Here y’go, click this and have a blub on me.

Robin Ince wound up by encouraging us to rebel through reading, then said nice things about my Prisoner T-shirt and signed the copy of Mustard I’d bought as a back-up.  More on Mustard later.

Sara Pascoe was in the Assembly Two (moved up a notch from last year).  The show went by really fast – relaxed and confident and, again, very, very funny.  The complicated stuff was more hidden in the mix this time which doesn’t detract from the bite.  Sara Pascoe’s fantastic and you should really go and see her.  Right now.

So that’s the final show of the first day, Richard Herring’s ‘Lord of the Dance Settee’ in the Assembly Theatre and the audience numbers were down.  The venue itself reminded me of last century midnight screenings at the Sherman, catching the last bus into town and bracing for a long walk home after watching The Exorcist.  Again.

I’m guessing that because Mr Herring’s got a play on this year – ‘I Killed Rasputin’ – that’ll be why the podcast’s not on.  The free programme included a few Metro articles and a lively piece on the play itself, kindly reprinted by The Guardian for anyone who didn’t get a copy.

The performance was excellent – as you’d expect – various examples of movement versus inertia disguised as slapstick and reminiscence, garnished with a soupçon of heckler obliteration.  I’ve got one quibble - and I’m not proud about this - but William Hartnell never appeared in the Doctor Who opening credits.  As we're disguised as a Doctor Who blog, I’m kind of obliged to mention this sort of thing.  Mr Herring’s thinking of Patrick Troughton and pretending to be older than he is.

Afterward, Mr Herring signed me a Mustard while the Tattoo exploded in the naked distance.  He handed it back saying, “You’ll have to get the other one now.” 

More on this later.  First… Mustard!

Back when I was still sharing a flat with an imaginary Wampa, a chum sent me a huuuuuuuuuuge Alan Moore interview.  This was the part of Mustard's initial run, back when it was inky black, cartridge white and A4.  Over the years it turned into colour, first as a section in Dodgem Logic, then transmuting into an A5 magazine before finally giving up the physical and becoming a totally digital thought experiment hiding over… here.

Day two started in the same The Stand because every day the Mystery Voice and I spend in Edinburgh has to.  It’s (probably) a tradition.2

Stewart Lee’s trying out some ideas, so this was a work in progress.  During Lee’s superb set a poster of Katherine Ryan peeled itself off the wall and floated like an autumn leaf until it came to rest at the Mystery Voice’s feet.  It was an odd moment.

Okay, this is the one. 

Both of you know that I don’t watch TV, so I was at a bit of a loss when it came to Katherine Ryan.  I’d seen and heard her on Have I Got News For You and The News Quiz respectively, but that was it (and I might well have been distracted at the time).  Being keen on all things Canadian this was the gig that the Mystery Voice had been most looking forward to – and also the first one he booked.  So, I went into yet another The Stand totally oblivious to what was likely to happen and ended up being blown away.  I’m slightly biased here, due to becoming part of an interactive experience, brace yourselves...

The Mystery Voice, for the first time ever, grabbed a seat in the front row without cajoling.  The show kicked off pretty quick, Katherine Ryan bounding on stage cradling a disturbingly lifelike baby.  Before I'd totally realised what was going on, I’d told her my name, my secret identity and been handed a baby to look after.  Having some experience in not dropping babies, this wasn’t half as embarrassing as you’d think, once I’d got through the whole “but what if I chucked it out of the window?” thing.

Every so often I’d get singled out for a compliment or a question or a swift bit of humiliation.  To whit:

Katherine Ryan:  Al, what’s a ‘Cougar’?

Me:  Ah...  A sexually aggressive older woman?

Katherine Ryan:  Yes, Al.  “A sexually aggressive older woman.”

Confessional, confrontational, confident, confidential and um… Conadian?  No, that doesn’t work.  Anyway, she nailed my accent, signed my ticket, favourited a tweet and totally made my Fringe.

We lost the Pleasance a couple of times, a shy building’s an alarming thing.  Mark Watson was great – slick and very good.   Treadmills, terrorist balloons, terminating tedious telephone calls by terrifying the talker and other alliterative delights including Tank Engines, tweets and tents.

As we made our way back to the helicopter, the Tattoo started exploding in the sky again.  Like a triumphant conclusion.2 

2.  Or an old charter, or something.