Sunday, 31 March 2013

Marketing Dalek: EGGS!-EGGS!-EGGS!

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

- George Orwell

Me:  Ho ho ho.  Happy Easter, chums. 

Him:  Can I have my socks back?  I promise I’ll put them on this time. 

Me:  This is just a quick note to say that we’ve opened a deviantART page.  I’ve no idea why, but we have.  There we go.  Thanks for listening. 

Him:  Can I have my socks back?

Stuffed with things like this.  Mostly.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

#Whoniversary – “Have you seen the price of stamps?”

It’s a great privilege that the nation will be licking the backs of our heads.
-Matt Smith

Me:  Are you excited?

Him:  About the end of the world?

Me:  Nah, that’s just North Korea showing off, I wouldn’t worry about it.

Him:  Have you ever wished you were a kangaroo?  In a spacesuit?  At the North Pole?  Fighting zombie polar bears?  In space.

Me:  So, is that your Big Finish pitch?

The Him sniffs.

Him:  Nah, still the original one.  Whatever it was.

Me:  It was the The Moonbase sequel.

Him:  Oh yeah, with Katarina and the Cybermen.

Me:  Well, it’s been a busy news week for Doctor Who – slightly cheerier than last week as well.

Him:  Frogs are amphibians that eat squids and can pilot small submarines.  In space.

Me:  Would you might not pitching while I’m trying to save the world?

Him:  I’m not pitching stuff.

Me:  You sure?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Right.  First up then: stamps.

Him:  Now then, caterpillars are small insect things with three legs, the ability to fly, shoot lasers and eat small houses.  They also land on spacecraft and can destroy them with one bite.  In space.

Long, long pause.

Me:  The stamps are lovely.  How about the prequels?

Him:  What prequels?

Me:  That one with the Doctor hanging around a Roath Park playground.  Oh – I think it might tie in later too, there’s not a huge amount of Roath Park you can film in – apart from the terrapin arboretum where Jenny came back to life.  I suppose there might be strolling.  And a shot of Scott’s lighthouse.  Hmmm.  Sorry, ‘spoilers’.

Him:  What?

Me:  Give it eight weeks and I’ll appear to be a genius.  Or erase that bit from Doctor Who.1

Him:  Erase what bit?

Me:  That’s the spirit.  What were your thoughts about that one?

Him:  On what?

Me:  The Doctor and Amy on the swings.

The Him thinks for a moment, and decides to play.

Him:  I don’t recall that.  Read what you’ve said.

Me:  I know what I said.

Him:  And what was that?

Me:  ‘The Doctor and Amy on the swings’.  Because I’m sure that’s what it was when the Moff first wrote it.  And then just ran a find-and-replace, substituting ‘Clara’ for ‘Amy’. 

Him:  Sounds fun.

Me:  Some of the cast for the Fiftieth just got announced.  Do you want to know who they are?

Him:  No.

Me:  Good luck avoiding it.  The BBC seem to delight in publishing spoilers as loudly as possible.  The Radio Times’ll never see a return to the glory days of Earthshock’s surprise guest appearance.1

Him:  I don’t read the Radio Times.

Me:  It doesn’t matter.1  It’ll be on a billboard or something.  Alright, I won’t tell you and we’ll see how long you can stay unaware.

Him:  Yay!

Me:  Now, back to Roath Park.

Him:  Were we ever there?

Me:  Lots of times.  I’ve got a photo of you on those very swings.  Somewhere.

Him:  Interesting.  I don’t remember that.

Me:  I wouldn’t have thought you would.  You were very small.  You clambered up the red wire climbing thing, fed terrapins and had an ice-cream next to the lighthouse.

Him:  Oh.

Me:  So, this prequel.  Anything you want to say about it?

Him:  Nothing in particular.

Me:  Did you guess the twist?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Well done.  So, the second one, The Battle of Demon’s Run: Two Days Later.  I’ve got some questions I want to ask you about that one before we go any further.

Him:  Alright, but if you ask me the sort of stuff that you know I hate and I don’t answer it then that’s why.

Me:  I’m not sure that makes sense.

Him:  I don’t care.

Me:  Right.  It solves the problem of Strax being dead and then all of a sudden back with Madame Vastra and Jenny in Victorian London.

Him:  Does it though?  Or does it just try and solve that problem?

Me:  I’m sure it felt like a particular sweet piece of problem-solving when it first rolled out of the printer.  However…

Him:  Yeah?

Me:  That means that everything’s happening in the right order.  On everyone’s timeline.  In the classic series that happened too, but mostly just with the Time Lords.  And no, I’m not suggesting anything.

Him:  Right, okay then.

Me:  And it’s obviously not part of any over-reaching plan.  Those three characters turned out to be massively popular, so they got brought back.  Kind of like what happened with Sarah-Jane and K9.  And, to an extent, Jamie.  I’d better mention Nyssa too, just to annoy people.

Him:  What?

Me:  Don’t worry.  My main question, before anything else, is this: does this prequel count? 

Him:  I have no idea what you even mean by that.

Me:  Okay.  Does Shada count?

Him:  I don’t know.

Me:  Well, what I’m going on is that it’s only the stuff actually shown on the BBC as part of Doctor Who that counts as being Doctor Who. 

Him:  Right.

Me:  Everything else – Pond Life, Night and the Doctor, Scream of the Shalka, Dimensions in Time, the comedy sketches, the New Adventures, Big Finish and so on – all of that can be ignored.  None of it counts any more than the comics or the adventures made up by kids playing with their Weetabix cards.  It’s fan fiction.  All of it.  Some of it’s a bit more public than others but that doesn’t mean anything.  It’s not part of Doctor Who.  It doesn’t count.

Him:  Right.

Me:  Am I?  It’s quite a hardline view.  But it does mean we don’t have to watch Downtime again.

Him:  Which one was Downtime? 

Me:  Victoria, the Brig, Sarah Jane and the Yeti.  In hell.  Remember it?

Him:  I thought you enjoyed it?

Me:  Some of the performances were excellent.  And that bit where the Yeti appeared in the middle of a traffic jam was hysterical.

Him:  Is that the one where: man goes into boat, Yeti comes out of boat?

Me:  That’s the badger.  Or I might be thinking of Peladonian industrial action analogies.

Him:  I don’t know what that means.

Me:  You’re not the only one.  Getting back to the point – what’re your thoughts on the marvellous DVD extra, The Battle of Two Runs Later at Demon’s Day?

Him:  Is it a DVD extra?

Me: It will be.

Him:  Oh.  How do you know?

Me:  Because the BBC will be expecting a return on their investment.  And turning Murray Gold on is probably quite expensive.

Him:  “Itsa-me, Murraygold!”

Me:  Ha!  The version we watched – do you want to say?

Him:  I don’t know if that was just the version we watched.  I think someone decided to put that in.  “Itsa not good enough.  Needsa more horns.”

Me:  Basically – and we were spoiled a bit by watching The Birds first, which has almost NO incidental music and yet, somehow, manages to be a masterpiece1 – the version we watched got almost halfway through without any comedy parp-parp music.  I thought it made it a lot better.  Y’know, hearing the dialogue without a Tom and Jerry soundtrack seeping in.

Him:  Yeah, and then it goes PAAAARRRP!

Me:  Jenny mentions London and someone turns Murray Gold on.  There’s a mad PAAAARRRP! noise and then it's CBeebies up to the final line.  Other than that, and some bum notes from the Moff, it’s carried by the excellent performances.  Having said that, it’d still be a better spin-off than that Torchwood thingy.

Him:  You’ll anger the Torchwood fans.  All three of them.

Me:  Harsh.

Him:  I’m so hungry.

Me:  Come on then, let’s get some grub and watch The Invasion until it’s time to crank up the Maggot of Patience.

Him:  The Maggot of Patience.

Me:  In space.  Oh, I forgot to mention the shoddy treatment of Babelcolour.3

Him:  I’m not getting into that.

Me:  Come on then.  Grub awaits.

Him:  Yay!  Grub!

Me:  In space.

"'Forgot about' what?"

1.  Are you listening, BBC?2 

2.  Obviously not. 

3.  The BBC are basically deleting the fine fellow’s videos from YouTube.  For copyright infringement.  This includes the colourisation that impressed BBC Worldwide so much that they gave Babelcolour the gig to hand-colour near-enough every frame of the first part of The Mind of Evil. An episode, by the way, the BBC wanted to make some money out of by releasing on DVD, but couldn’t because they only had a black and white copy after a zealous deaccession and junking session put paid to the original masters.  Still, I bet the poor chaps who recorded the soundtracks off the telly back in the Sixties are sweating.1

Friday, 22 March 2013

Interlude - Pyramids of Socks or The Hand of Socks or The Socks of Axos or The Sock Meddler or The Leisure Sock or The Celestial Sockmaker or The Armageddon Sock or The Sock Planet or The Socks of Morbius or Colony in Socks or The Socks of Death or Full Sock or The Socks of Peladon or Socks of the Daleks or An Unearthly Sock

What is the universe?  Is it a great 3D movie in which we are the unwilling actors?  Is it a cosmic joke, a giant computer, a work of art by a Supreme Being, or simply an experiment?  The problem in trying to understand the universe is that we have nothing to compare it with.
- Heinz B. Pagels

Him:  What’s this?

Me:  What’s what?

Him:  This.

Me:  This blog entry?

Him:  No.  This.

Me:  If there was anything there it’d be a seahorse.

Him:  Right.  That’s the blog over.  I’m finished.  Done.

Me:  You didn’t check your phone messages yesterday did you?

Him:  I’m not replying.

Me:  And you haven’t once looked on the table.

Him:  Not replying.

Me:  Go and have a look.  And then I can do the review.

The Him discovers two autographed DVDs.

Him:  Wait?  What?  I don’t remember getting either of these signed.

Me:  You weren’t there, that’s why.  Because of the licensing laws you couldn’t go.

Him:  Did they recognise you?

Me:  They did.  The sock in the kilt stared at me through most of the set.

Him:  Really?  That’s kind of creepy.

Me:  It was.  Shall I tell you the story?

Him:  Ok.

Me:  I made notes you see.  Like a proper journalist.

Him:  Is that why you got stared at?

Him:  And he gets his biggest fan to say good things about him?  Have you ever met your biggest fan?  I mean, apart from my Business teacher.

Me:  Hey, don’t derail the review.  There’s derailing to be talked about later.  Well meant though.  And very funny.

The Him stares blankly.

Me:  First off then, shall I give a bit of background?

Him:  Ok.  If you really want to.

Me:  I think it’s essential.  The Socks announced they were doing a new show a while back.  Remember the one that wasn’t Boo Lingerie last year?  On my birthday?

Him:  Did you know that boulangerie is actually French for ‘bakery’?

Me:  See, that’s why this blog needs the both of us.  I didn’t know that.  But it explains why some of the new show is in French.  Or was last night anyway.  Hang on.  Do you exist?

Him:  Don’t you mean ‘the both of us’?


Me:  I’m fairly sure that I’m real.  I was beginning to doubt it when I went to see Judge Minty – about which, more later – but I’m about 80% convinced that I’m non-fiction.  

Him:  Well, I’m about 20% convinced that you’re fictional.

Me:  There’s no need for maths.  There’s never a need for maths.  This particular tangent isn’t going to do my argument any good either.  You exist, yeah?

Pause.  The Him has a think.

Him:  Are you addressing me?

Me:  You’re the only other person here.

Him:  But am I?  Am I really here?  Are you really here?  I’m not sure that any of us are really here.

Me:  Last night, John McShane pointed out he’d never met you, so he can't have been at the John Wagner signing. 

Him:  Was he upset he’d never met me?


Me:  He seemed to be taking it well, truth be told.  I was going to try and avoid name-dropping.

Him:  That’s probably for the best.

Me:  Right.  Well, the last Socks show wasn’t about Greggs, like you’d think, but actually dealt with horror films and horror as a genre.  With songs.

Him:  Greggs isn’t a bakery, is it?

Me:  And this new show is, ostensibly, about science-fiction.  Hence, ‘Socks in Space’.

Him:  Which isn’t French for anything.

The Him picks up his phone.

Him:  Except…

Phone:  tippetytippytytap

Him: “Chaussettes dans l’espace”. 

The Him settles back, and pops a mint into his smug gob.

Him:  Are you…  Are you going to say something about “E-Space”?

Me:  I don’t think we should go anywhere near Adric or JN-T for the foreseeable future.  They’ll be busy.

Him:  So I shouldn’t go anywhere near you?

Me:  I only looked like Adric when he was a companion.

Him:  You still look like him now.

Me:  Matthew Waterhouse has weathered better than me.  I’ve eroded.

Him:  That actually translated as ‘Socks into the space’.

Me:  Which is more of an instruction yelled before a bugle parps.  Look, can I get this started?

Him:  Do you want to?

Me:  So when it was announced that the Socks would be occurring in a venue that I could actually reach-

Him:  You couldn’t get tickets.

Me:  Are you going to trample on all the lines?

Him:  No.  That’d be weird.

Me:  Yeah.  Back in January I went into The Dram – which is a lovely pub made of wood and bottles – and asked a very nice lady behind the bar if I could buy a ticket and then…  And then she said…   


Me:  Yeah.  You’ve killed it.  I couldn’t get tickets.

Him:  If you were a cyborg, what would your name be?

Me:  Unpronounceable.  So, over the next couple of months I kept an eye on things from a distance because I don’t use the internet to buy anything.  Which made things a bit hairy when HMV started drowning, because it’s the last place selling Doctor Who DVDs.  Remember what happened when I asked if they’d stock them in that Enormo-Asda?

Him:  My name would be…

Me:  They laughed at me.  But, like Citizen Snork said: “Who’s laughing now?”

Me:  He’s an obscure Judge Dredd character I’ve mentioned to clarify my credentials as a walking cliché.

Him:  I got that much.

Me:  Hush, imaginary creature.

Him:  I'm a cyborg not an imaginary creature.

Me:  You’re probably thinking of a centaur.  Seeing as I wear glasses-

Him:  You wear glasses?

Me:  Just imagine.  Seeing as I wear glasses, I’m technically the first stage of Cyberman evolution.

Him:  But where’re your bra and high heels?


Me:  God help us if Chris Chibnall takes over when the Moff’s off.   Anyway, I’d been told that if I turned up on the night I might be able to get in.  And then the Friday and Saturday nights sold out.

Him:  Ooo.  Kick in the face.

Me:  It’s the Eye, actually.  And I don’t think we’ll be talking about Peter Murphy anytime soon either.  It’s hardly been a slow news week.  Oh, James Herbert died.

Me:  For a bit of time he was my favourite author.  Thinking about it, I was reading The Rats in my first year at secondary school.1  He was a horror author.  Bit pulpy and very full-on.  My first signed novel was a copy of Moon.  It was posted after a signing he did in Denmark Street.  I read it to bits.

Him:  Can we get onto the Socks now?

Me:  Yup.  First up, here’re the tweets from yesterday.

Me:  The Dram wasn’t open and I had a full shift at work with no breaks, so I wasn’t going to be able to get a ticket until that was done, if there were any left.  I didn’t see the Socks tour bus anywhere either.

Him:  They have a tour bus?

Me:  Bound to.  Anyway – someone at work offered to order them online.  So I paid for the ticket, printed off the confirmation and then worked until it was dark.  And then, when I was looking at the confirmation, I noticed that in order to pick up the ticket, the card-holder would have to sign for it.  To prevent fraud.  

Me:  So I sloped up to The Dram, ordered a water and waited for the room to open.

Him:  “There’s oil underneath this building.”

Me:  I spotted the aforementioned Mr McShane, but there wasn’t any sign of the Socks manager.  And then a lovely chap named Tony called everyone through to the performance area.  Nobody asked to see anything, so after two months of working on a stomach ulcer, I could’ve got in for free.  I grabbed a front row bench.

Him:  As you do.

Me:  Yeah – you need to be able see the performer’s eyes really.

Him:  I just wanna dance.


Me:  'Night on Bald Mountain' with Socks commentary was playing and the tartan theatre was trembling.  Tony the ticket warden was also on technician and tune duty and there was a bit of an odd moment before everything started.

Him:  What happened?

Me:  Well, it sort of started early but late.

Him:  Right.

Me:  I’m glad you got that.  It was the first outing for some of the material and it’s great.  I don’t think there was quite as much of the science-fiction stuff as there will be later in the year, but a fair whack of it was new.  Oh – and the opening number, ‘I’m a Sock’ was lyrically different to the version you’ve seen.

Him:  Really?  Oh.  I knew that.

Me:  Part of the audience was very enthusiastic and got roped in to recreate a pivotal moment of cinema history.  My face was a bit sore from laughing.

Him:  You’d don’t need to make me feel bad that I wasn’t there.

Me:  Sorry.  You might not like some of what’s coming up then.  But – legally, you couldn’t be there.  And you weren’t the only person who was a bit miffed about this.  But that’s why we have laws.   I reckon we’ll be able to get in if they come back to Edinburgh.  We’ll definitely go.

Him:  Yay!

Me:  So.  Some of the new material might only have been aired last night and dropped since-

Him:  Right.

Me:  But there’s some really good stuff in it.  Especially if you’ve heard of a Hemingway who wasn’t known for typing.  There’s one bit with a doorbell that’s genius.  Sorry, this isn’t meant to be gloaty.

The Him sneezes.

Me:  They finished with their version of Star Wars too.  I hung around afterwards to get the DVDs signed-

Him:  Yeah, I figured that much.  That’s what we did last time.  When I was there.

Me:  I told their manager that you’d be furious about missing them.

Him:  I’m not furious.  I’m just a bit…  Upset.  It’s fine.  Don’t worry.

Me:  They did send their personal best wishes and congratulations to you.

Him:  Yay! 

Me:  Although, I’m not sure what they were congratulating you about.  Existing possibly.

Him:  They could be.

Me:  Nearly there.  Because the manager was a bit busy after the show, he said he’d get the Socks to come and sign the DVDs after their post-gig sauna.  Well, something like that.  So I went back through to the main bit to wait and - CLANG! goes another name – had a drink with Mr McShane and Pete Renshaw, the wonderful gentleman whose ear I once talked off in Plan B.  It did feel a bit like I’d wandered into the VIP area by accident. 

Him:  Had you?

Me:  Ha!  So, the Socks' manager, Kev F, came out and we all had a big chat about this and that; where javascript came from, Clevedon’s history as a filming location – I almost mentioned Oliver Tobias in Smuggler, but nobody’s ever heard of it.  Clevedon keeps cropping up at the moment – it’s weird.  Most of the essays I’ve written for You and Who mention it in one way or another, it’s where I first met Judge Minty, Captain Clevedon’s a local lad and of course Broadchurch is largely filmed there.  Hmmm…


Him:  Sounds fun.

Me:  It was.  It was incredible actually, I had a fantastic time.  I also forgot to mention – when we were talking about The Time Monster and Robert Sloman – Darth Vader and Ingrid Pitt.  Oh – and The Green Death was the story that everyone forget.


Me:  Don’t be mad.  There’ll be other times.

Him:  Will there though?  Will there really?

Me:  There will.  Oh yes indeed.

Me:  We may have gone too far with the title though.

Him:  Wait until the next one...

Next: sssssssssssssssssssssssss