Sunday 26 October 2014

In the Forest of the Night (time shift)

Nelson?  Lying down on the job?  Good grief!
- Danger Mouse, The Day of the Suds

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

Now I may say to you what perhaps I should not dare to
say to any one else. That I can alone carry on my visionary
studies in London unannoyd & that I may converse with my
friends in Eternity. See Visions, Dream Dreams, & prophecy &
speak Parables unobserv'd & at liberty from the Doubts of other
Mortals. perhaps Doubts proceeding from Kindness. but doubts
are always pernicious Especially when we Doubt our Friends
- William Blake, 25 April 1803

Me:  Do you love surprises?  What did you think of the next time trailer? 

The Him shrugs verbally.

Me:  Okay. 

Him:  It’s certainly very… erm… 

Me:  Expensive? 

Him:  An action movie trailer.  In that they’ve got to show you all of the action.  And none of the talking.  It was very…

The Him then spends the best part of a minute doing a human-drum impression of the honks from the Prometheus teaser, each portentous noise representing an individual flashcut in a generic action movie trailer.  Imagine flicking at increasing speed through a mix of close-up photos of alarmed people surrounded by were-rhinos and trapped on a wobbly ladder, with lots of things going boom, competent-for-that-year CGI, clickbait dialogue snippets1 and mercifully brief text that someone’s banged up using Impact or something because there wasn’t any time to find a decent font.4 

Me:  I’m not putting any of that in.  Right, In the Forest of the Night.  I’ve seen mentioned somewhere… by someone…5 that this looks like a gentle intro to a three-parter.  Like Utopia was.  Maebh’s sister, Annabel, at the end there – well, that’s going somewhere. 

Him:  What was she doing there? 

Me:  Well, I think she’s the first one who’s returned-  One of these people who’ve been dying throughout the series.  Anyway, it starts with Little Red Riding Hood.  Or, rather, an advert featuring Little Red Riding Hood, especially with the music – which we will be coming back to, Murray Gold.

Him:  Ha!  I like the way you drew a sad face on the notes.

Me:  There’s a weird thing about soundtracks…  When you listen to a soundtrack album without a film – and this is really apparent when you haven’t seen the film either – you can only get an idea of how the scene would play out based on the music.  But you don’t know how it’s supposed to fit to the actual visuals themselves – or how it would compliment the scene – so you come up with your own vision.  Somehow, Murray Gold invokes the same feeling in me, only it's when I’m watching the scene the music was apparently written for.  Not all the time, some of it’s quite nice.  The bit at the end with the hard-panned multi-tracked vocals reminded me of Coil for- 

Him:  You should write an entire post about Murray Gold. 

Me:  I probably should.  Somehow, he’s managed to create music that doesn’t fit the scene it’s written for.  The problem I’ve got is that I’m keyed in to it now, so when it works it’s great, because when it works you can’t hear it. Whether that’s because there isn’t any – silence is more important than an orchestra – or because it actually matches the beats of the scene rather than just being a hopeful generic piece splashed over the top- 

Him:  I can hear it as well.  Actually, I can’t hear it.

Me:  Why? 

Him:  Because, you know, you’re always- 

Me:  Yeah, alright. 

Him:  -shouting, “SHUT UP!  SHUT UP, MURRAY!  SHUT UP!”

Me:  Fair point.  I do.  There’s a bit near the end where the music’s back to comedy parp-parp, plinky-plonky-why-I-want-to-write-for-Sherlock.  And I can’t not hear it.  Which is my problem, not theirs.  I’m just doing my bit as part of the Chorus.3  The other negative thing that I’ve got to say is that there was some shonky CGI, but not very much. 

Him:  Oh, where was that? 

Me:  Towards the end.  The Earth and the trees disappearing.  But what can they do?  And with the money as well, it’s amazing what they get up there.  It’ll date terribly, because CGI’s like stop-motion, but as long as it’s telling the story and not showing off, you’ve got to let it go.  I thought the kids were bearable.  On the whole.  Some of the acting could’ve been better but- 

Him:  And apart from that you liked the CGI?

Me:  Yeah, I though it was good.  The visuals were very nice. 


Him:  Okay. 

Me:  I liked the idea, I liked the story and I thought there was a lot going on that was really interesting.  Maebh was meddling with time, I thought that was quite cool.6 

Him:  And not even one train.

Me:  Different writer.

Him:  But still.  It’s breaking with tradition here. 

Me:  There was a bus.  Which is interesting, because according to the bus, Doctor Who’s now canon within the universe of Doctor Who. 

Him:  I think it’s an in-joke.

Me:  If it’s an in-joke we weren’t supposed to notice, they’ve messed up.  Because it’s there, that means that The Chase really is the most important piece of television in the history of television.  So, yeah, I think it’s phenomenal, and a lot of my theories were proved to be correct.3  Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote that, has worked a lot with Danny Boyle, of course, who was executive producer on 28 Weeks Later-

Him:  Of course. 

Me:  He also wrote Millions- 

Him:  Yes. 

Me:  And, you know the opening Olympic ceremony? 

The Him yawns questioningly.

Me:  Frank Cottrell Boyce wrote that. 

Him:  Which one?  The original one?

Me:  What?  Or the remake? 

Him:  The original Athens one. 

Me:  No!  The one in- 

Him:  603?

Me:  The one in London!  Anyway, the Greatest Theme in the History of Ever was heavier.  Again.  It’s changing from week to week.  I thought the bit at the start when the Doctor told Maebh to come into the TARDIS was beautiful.

Him:  Really? 

Me:  Yeah, I thought the way Peter Capaldi played it was magnificent.  Directed by Sheree Folkson.  Apart from some of the acting, I though she was good. 

Him:  You never really know what a director’s actually done, of course. 


Me:  Yeah, you do. 

Him:  No, you don’t. 

Me:  We’ll talk about it another time. 

Him:  They could technically-  The actors could do a lot of that stuff themselves.

Me:  Yeah, but they’ve…  Sometimes in television production, the casting director, or the producer or someone, only gives the director sensorite7 to work with.  It’s up to the director to roll it in glitter when that happens.  When the Doctor says he’s the last of the Time Lords so there’s no-one to call when he needs to get things fixed - I was wondering if that was a reference to Perkins.  But that’s because I’m still throwing that theory desperately in the general direction of anything that’ll salute it.

Him:  You’ve mentioned the iPads before though, yeah?

Me:  I have.  You noticed the iPads.  Missy wasn’t using the same iPad this time round, but…  There we go.  That doesn’t matter.  The bike in the tree is something that does happen.

Him:  She wasn’t really in that one…

Me:  No.  But she does like surprises.8 

Him:  The thing about In the Forest of the Night is…  No-one died.

Me:  “No-one died.” 

Him:  No.  No-one…

Us:  “No-one died.” 

Him:  But, no-one did.  No-one died.

Me:  Yeah.  We’ll jump the bike in the tree thing – but we did mention the phenomenon on Twitter some time last year, so that continues our theory that- 

Him:  Our theory’?! 

Me:  Alright.  My theory that – and it’s not really a theory, I’m just saying it to prove that you can prove anything if you want to.3 

Him:  That’s a nice cape you’ve got there.

Me:  It’s just an opinion.  Which’re like blogs.  Everyone’s got one. 

Him:  Explain the bike theory.  About why it’s a theory.  Or are you just going to say- 

Me:  “Well, Chris.  The theory of the bike theory, which is my theory, which is mine, is that-“ 

Him:  “Bikes are very, very thin at one end-”

Me:  Ha! 

Him:  “-very thick in the middle, and then very thin at the other end.” 

Me:  And Frank Cottrell Boyce has obviously read Swamp Thing 53.9 

Him:  Are you going to explain the bike theory?

Me:  Well, people park their bikes above a sapling or something, forget it’s there – somehow – and then, years later, you’ve got an avant-garde rust sculpture fifteen-feet off the ground, encased in tree.

Him:  I meant more, ‘how does that link in with your theory that you’ve come up with all the ideas for this season of Doctor Who?’  Rather than, ‘how do bikes get up there?’ 

Me:  Oh, right.  I’ll tell you – let’s just do something freaky for a moment: Hello, lady and gentleman!  For more on that pretend theory, why don’t you go and re-read Three-Fold Musing?  Thanks.  You’re lovely. 


Cardiff Museum!  I used to love Cardiff Museum.  I spent ages and ages in there.  And, remember the mammoth that you can see just behind the sleepover gang?  There’re two.  Or there were.  It’s an animatronic mammoth with a baby mammoth standing next to it.  I used to stand for hours – I didn’t really stand there for hours, I’m saying that to exaggerate and make myself sound cooler – and I’d watch the mammoths roar and turn and you could see bits where… where the fur had worn away.  It was really sad and sweet, quite melancholic.  And the baby mammoth wasn’t very huge at all.

Him:  I’d hope not. 

Me:  I’ve got a memory – and I hope someone who reads this can tell me if it's true or not – I’ve got a memory of seeing a dodo, obviously a stuffed one, and no relation to- 

Him:  Chaplet. 

Me:  Yeah.  Now, I remember seeing this dodo, but there’s only something like three surviving stuffed dodo specimens in the world.  Maybe it was a reconstruction.  This was a long time ago now.  Well into last century.  I’m sure it was in there, because I can still see it now.  Maybe it was on loan from another museum.  You know the hall with the big tree slice?  The one with the red ring that Ruby was talking about?  That’s not usually in the front there – or it didn’t used to be.  Remember, Lady Christina da Souza zipwiring down from the ceiling to nab the mug of Aethelstan or something?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  That’s the same bit of floor.  Now, I wasn’t convinced by the children’s acting, but you- 

Him:  No, it was more a case of that’s what children would be like.  Because that’s… largely what they’re like. 

Me:  In that sort of a situation? 

Him:  That’s just what they’re like.  

Me:  Yeah? 

Him:  Yeah.  And you know what, it’s the specially gifted class, so who knows?  Maybe she’s… boring.  Or something.

Me:  Eh?  I’m confused.  I think it’s more the acting. 

Him:  No, because people…

Me:  They did alright.

Him:  People do talk like that and stuff. 

Me:  Anyway, they got Tunguska wrong.10 

Him:  What?

Me:  There was a callback to- 

Him:  Isn’t that a type of apple? 

Me:  No, no, no.  Place in Russia.  Nearer the top than the bottom.  There was a callback to Kill the Moon with the "You cam over ‘ere, breavin' our air"speech.  I think we’ve seen the Doctor’s arc over the series.  And it’s been a lot shallower than Clara’s.3  What was it you were saying about…? 

Him:  Oh, yeah!  You would think there would be too much oxygen in the air and it would be impossible to breathe.

Me:  Yeah. 

Him:  I’m sure someone said something about controlled oxygen. 

Me:  Well, that reminded me of…  I think it would’ve been Swamp Thing… 23?

Him:  Sure it wasn’t 53?

Me:  No, issue 53’s a different one.  53’s where exactly what happened in the episode, happened in Gotham.  Swamp Thing takes over the whole of Gotham City in a double-sized issue.  It was very good.  Beautiful artwork by John Totleben.  I think it was issue 23.  The final part of the Floronic Man trilogy, where Woodrue helps the trees and the vegetation - the Green - begin to take over.  They start mass-producing oxygen-11

The Him sneezes.

And fires bring us back to Flatline.

Him:  When there’s a forest fire, you’ve got to try and save the biggest trees.


It works better with ants.  I can’t imagine where I’m getting this idea from.  Say you have black ants with a yellow ant leading them, and they’re going to go and attack the red ant colony.  If a couple of black ants die then it doesn’t matter, because it’s the good of the colony that matters.

Me:  “The Greater Good.” 

Him:  And, even if the yellow ant dies – let’s call it the ‘terminator ant’ – if it were to die, then the black ants would probably disperse but they’d still have the main goal in mind because they’d be around the red ants’ nest so they’d think, “Oh well, better kill some red ants while I’m here.”  And then they’d go for the red ants…  Um…  That’s not really a good…  Another good point would be ants attacking a spider-

Me:  Ha!  Where’s this going? 

Him:  While they’re attacking the spider…  So they can eat the spider when it’s dead and so it’ll stop nomming on them… ummm… a few ants’re going to die attacking the spider but they’re still going to get enough food, and they’ve still got enough larvae in stock that the queen’s laying that those few ants being dead won’t really matter that much. 

Me:  Okay.  Why’s Clara got their phone numbers? 

Him:  Yeah, yeah that brings me back to my point.  Why has Clara got Maebh’s number?

Me:  Danny Pink’s really good.  He’s a much – in many ways – he’s a much more realistic character than Clara. 

Him:  He’s a much better teacher. 

Me:  Yes, he is.  He’s-

Him:  He’s a much better person. 

Me:  Yes.  Even though Clara’s a good person – or is she?  Who knows? – the way this is going…  Clara ends up…  Everything I’ve been talking about…  Clara’s hamartia is tied up with her lying.  It’s her…  It’s difficult to describe, because it's her actual character that’s bringing her to the end of whatever this journey is.  And it is happening.  Stuff’s falling apart here for her.  The centre can’t hold now.  And we can see that in the trailer at the end.  Stuff’s really going wrong.  The fact that she’s more concerned about whether Danny realises she’s been lying to him and, basically, cheating on him – which is what she’s been doing, and it’s so obvious I’m surprised anyone’s missing it – she sees that as more important than the solar flare.3 

Him:  Mmmm...

Me:  Something I wanted to say as well…  When Clara and the Doctor are walking through the forest, there’s a definite… It’s back to Little Red Riding Hood.  Maebh’s leaving the things behind her and the path’s vanishing as she’s moving on.  It’s as though it’s being written as she’s moving forward, which is a big reminder of the World of Fiction from The Mind Robber.  It’s not, but there we go.  Now, what I think has to be mentioned is how Maebh is a reference to both the visionary nature of William Blake and his poem ‘The Tyger’.


Okay.  Brace yourself.  ‘The Tyger’ is a beautifully constructed poem.  It’s structured-

Him:  Isn’t that- 

Me:  It’s structured like a perfect level of Tetris.  It’s so well put-together, there’s not a syllable out of place.

Him:  So is this the poem about the family who buy a tiger as a pet- 

Me:  No!

Him:  -and they keep it in a wooden box and-

Me:  That’s Burning Bright.  It’s a film.

Him:  -and the house gets hit by a cyclone and then the tiger breaks free and starts eating the family? 

Me:  No, no, no.  When the Tigers Broke Free is a song that appeared in The Pink Floyd’s film of The Wall although it wasn’t on the original album…  I think it was a single later and then it turned up on remastered editions of The Final Cut, all of which links us back to the Flatline illo which had The Wall on it, and that takes us back to The Caretaker in which the Doctor sings a slight section of Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).  Everything’s connected.


The thing with Blake’s ‘The Tyger’, which is – apart from being one of the most anthologised poems in English, and perfectly constructed - is that it’s about the consideration of creation.  When you start considering things, there’s a danger that comes as part of that process.  And the danger of considering perfection is heightened accordingly.  It’s almost about the danger of your own imagination, the visions that spill from within and create the reality that we see around us.  It’s creativity and creation and perception and world-building and art and magick and untempered visions all at the same time.  The story’s called In the Forest of the Night, but we aren’t in the forest at night, so that should be a pretty big clue to anyone who thinks I’m growling up the wrong tree.  The forest is within your head.  It’s symbolic.  Blake saw a different London to those around him, and he fixed it with illustrations and tried to frame the fearsome perfection of symmetry with acid-etched prints and poetry.  Maebh’s vision of London is a personal one that changes everything.  It’s symbolic.  We’re dealing with archetypes throughout – this is anything but a social drama – and it’s all background to the actual twelve part story12 about Clara’s fall.3  It’s not even a fairy tale.  It’s very interesting and it’s very clever.  And it’s different.  It’s different.  And that’s intriguing. 

Him:  They’re getting more and more out there though, aren’t they? 

Me:  Do you like that?  Or would you prefer more Classic style stories? 

Him:  It’s just really random.  “Forest.  All over Earth.”

Me:  That’s a great idea though.

Him:  And last week you got, “Supposing, supposing, supposing there’s stuff in the second dimension that we’ve just never noticed before and it takes us out of the third dimension and pulls us into the second dimension and it analyses us and when it’s done enough of that it comes into the third dimension and chases us.  Like zombies!”  Where do they even get that from? 

Me:  It’s a little bit of Flatland mixed with other sorts of things.  It’s very good.

Him:  It’s such a mental combination of so many random things.

Me:  There was something else you noticed.  What was that? 

Him:  Eh?13 

Me:  Make a noise like a tiger. 


Me:  And on that bombshell! 

1.  If you all clap your hands at the same time and shout, “I believe in Satyrs!” then maybe that long-promised ‘theory’ about Clara and Greek Tragedy will finally appear.2  But you’ve got to really, really want it to.3

2.  It’s called Doctor Who and the Song of Goats.3  Because it had to be. 

3.  Remember, clap and shout,“I believe in Satyrs!” 

4.  That’s a bit harsh.  If anything, it sounded like Phil Puelo’s drum frenzy at the end of Swans’ The Apostate.

5.  Stand up Andrew (no relation to Steve – unless you are) Moore. 

6.  blah blah it’s the Master blah 

7.  We don’t do that joke anymore. 

8.  Speaking of which, half of us wanted to say thanks to, amongst others, @VentSpleen, @TrashFilmGuru, @WhoWars, @binrowasright and the glorious @diskgrinder for being so supportive.  Oh, and also @RECTORYFILM - say "Hi" to Harry, would you?  Thanks.

9.  In which a forest grows in Gotham City overnight.  With less-than-hilarious consequences.  It’s a Tragedy.

10.  And as a result of that schoolboy error, we can’t necessarily add either The X-Files or the Fortean Times to the influences for the episode.  Which is a shame.

In almost all of these houses, there were one or more potted plants.
These began to accelerate their photosynthetic processes, pumping out oxygen at an alarming volume.
As they became hyperoxyginated, the people within the houses grew excited and nervous without knowing why.
At 2:15, someone lit a cigarette. 
- Alan Moore, Another Green World, Swamp Thing 23 

12.  I don’t read reviews before we do ours, so quite often we don’t come out with interpretations that match what the rest of the Chorus3 think.  Having said that, I’m on Facebook, so I’ve got a fair idea that a lot of people have totally missed the point, not only about In the Forest of the Night, but the current series as a whole.  But then, I think the Doctor’s real and the show’s not science fiction, so I would say that, wouldn’t I?  Opinions are like Facebook Fan Pages, everyone’s got one and it’s a mask. 

13.  I’ve not seen anyone else apart from the Him14 point out that this season of Doctor Who is based entirely on old episodes of Danger Mouse.  Not only that, there’s one all about Murray Gold.

14.  Him:  Since he noticed it and he is great.

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