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parrot_knight [userpic]

The Idiot's Lantern

May 27th, 2006 (10:17 pm)
current music: The Decemberists: 'Sixteen Military Wives'

Well, that didn't quite work for me somehow.

It started to go wrong at the beginning - there was something not quite right about Maureen Lipman's BBC announcer asking viewers to 'tune in' in 1953 - in 1953 there was no point in manipulating the dial because BBC Television was all that there was, and it's just too colloquial. I might be wrong, of course. I can't help thinking that Maureen Lipman was miscast as well - with due respect to her performance (slightly too far over the top) the announcers of the period were younger and fresh-faced. I'm sure that she was cast because of her long-running act as Joyce Grenfell, but that imported an association with archness which damaged her credibility for me.

In Doctor Who Confidential afterwards, Mark Gatiss praised the Connolly family home set as 'drab'. I don't think that it was drab enough; the house was too pink for a domestic tyrant like Eddie, whatever the colour's imperial associations.

There was also a sense of the story being rushed, as earlier in the season with 'New Earth', but worse; we are introduced to the police inspector for the sake of what Gatiss describes as a 'sketch', but there is no chance for him to become anything more than a plot device as the Wire is allowed to drain him completely when the Doctor and Tommy escape unscathed.

I also found David Tennant's performance uneven in this one, sadly; I think his Mockney accent is pitched too high in his vocal range for him to consistently convey spoken anger with conviction; he recalls Sylvester McCoy sometimes, unfortunately. In the latter part of the story, I kept forgetting that the Doctor has a personal stake in defeating the Wire, and I don't think that I would have forgotten that in an earlier episode this season, or certainly last year. I find that I'm missing Christopher Eccleston much more than I expected.

Still, I have high hopes of next week. The Ood are essentially the Monoids from 'The Ark' refashioned after the Pakma'ra, but they seem effective already, and from the trailer the guest cast look as if they will be playing their roles with the right kind of conviction.

It looks as if the tenth Doctor might just be facing some unfinished business left thirty years ago by the fourth. All together now: "Your evil is my good..."


Posted by: helflaed (helflaed)
Posted at: May 27th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)

Funny- that was my favourite episode so far!

OK I have to admit that I'm missing Christopher Eccleston as well- with the 9th Doctor you really got the sense that here was a man who had lost everything, and had seen and done things which no man should ever have to do.

The new doctor is a little too manic for my taste, but hopefully as things get more serious then so will he.

I can see your point about Maureen Lipman being a little too old to be an announcer, but I doubt if they could have found a younger actor to carry it off as convincingly as she did.

Now I have another week of being pestered before the next episode is shown. "Can we watch Doctor Who? Please? Please Mummy?" et cetera.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 27th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC)

I know that a lot of people liked this one - one published Who-commentator posted on the Outpost Gallifrey forums that this was the first one set in an historic 'England' that he recognised. There were a lot of good ideas, but the execution was patchier than I've come to expect. I never felt that I got to know the characters; and I felt that the episode had difficulty balancing the brief that the Doctor and Rose should remain obviously close, with the promotion of Tommy as an extra viewer identification figure.

Posted by: helflaed (helflaed)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 12:17 am (UTC)

I liked the complexity and moral ambiguity of Eddie. What did you make of him?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)

I misread him at first; I thought he came across first as an ineffectual would-be bully; perhaps I was thrown by Gran's line about our 'lord and master'. (Thinking about it, she's the one who can afford to be sarcastic, as her ownership of the house gives her an independence from Eddie that the rest of the family don't have.) I liked that he was shown at the end not to be beyond redemption, and that Rose sent Tommy after him.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: May 27th, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)

Are you saying I'll have to watch next week to find out if you're right about the unfinished business??? That was my favourite episode, way back when I first discovered the show!

Which, considering my RTD allergy, is probably a good reason not to watch next week...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 27th, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC)

RTD isn't writing next week either - it's Matt Jones, another veteran fan turned TV writer-producer, though he is an old associate of RTD from 'Queer as Folk' days.

I could be wrong about the return of Sutekh, but given that the actor who played Sutekh, Gabriel Woolf, is down as providing the voice of a character variously referred to as 'Satan' and 'the Beast', and that news of his involvement has been kept dark for months, it seems a strong possibility.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 08:56 am (UTC)

I'll have to give the show another last chance then, for old times' sake...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 10:41 am (UTC)

Please do! I'm looking forward to a story set in an alien environment for the first time; if done well, it could be my favourite of the season.

Posted by: Kargicq (kargicq)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 07:59 am (UTC)

And on an unrelated subject -- seeing your 'current music' line, what do you think of the Decemberists? I was given a Picaresque as a present, and The Infanta intermittently sticks in my head, in a pleasant way.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 11:08 am (UTC)

I only discovered them yesterday. In the last few weeks and months I've been revisiting and expanding slightly my collection of folk-rock and folkish music and importing it to my PC, and then listening to it while not getting very much work of any sort done. I had been listening to a lot of early Fairport Convention from the 1967-1969 period, and wondering what a younger folk-influenced rock band would sound like, shaped by all this newfangled grunge and indy stuff and definitely being contemporary, while demonstrating a 'traditional' influence. Having thought this, I went over to emily_shore's journal - and there she was listening to the Decemberists via their MySpace site. Curiosity - they are even from the West Coast, though this is the post-post-Nirvana scene rather than that of Jefferson Airplane and their like - led to me finding a torrent which seems to contain almost all their output. I'm now listening to 'Picaresque' and while they are not a folk rock band in the sense that there is no 'Trad. arr. Decembrists' to be found, I'd like to see what they would do with traditional material. There's a lot of good songwriting on 'Picaresque', with good storytelling lyrics, but I think there's a lot of room for improvement; and clips I've heard elsewhere suggest that the lead singer occasionally sings in an English accent that owes more to Dick van Dyke than anything articulated on these shores!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 11:27 am (UTC)

I've now come across Colin Meloy's 'Trad. arr. Shirley Collins' tracks - very much 'country' arrangements of British songs, which to my ears sound odd; particularly 'Dance to your Daddy' which doesn't come close to Alex Glasgow's version...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)

Ultimately while there are a few stand-out tracks I find it difficult to differentiate between most of the Decemberists' work as a whole, and have sought sanctuary in Byrd.

Posted by: helflaed (helflaed)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC)

Ah - Parrot Knight is in a Byrd Sanctuary. How appropriate.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 28th, 2006 11:23 pm (UTC)

Yes! Only very briefly though, as I had to go out to rustica's; but I'm turning up a few CDs I'd forgotten I had, and which I hadn't played in years.

Posted by: Polly (jane_somebody)
Posted at: June 8th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)

the announcers of the period were younger and fresh-faced

Really? I was thinking that the Lipman character resembled the children's presenter who was seen with Muffin the Mule, who always struck me as very auntie-ish. Certainly the children's presenters of yore were rather less young and fresh-faced than todays counterparts, even if such is not true of announcers more generally.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 8th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC)

I was thinking of in-vision continuity announcers such as Sylvia Peters and Mary Malcolm, rather than Annette Mills, although I suppose there is something Mills-like about Lipman.