Tuesday, 27 June 2017

World Enough And Time.

Still have goose bumps following Saturday nights episode. Sat stunned and tingly and warded off the real world for as long as I could allowing it to permeate in my imagination, fermenting like a bottled dream. I never need reminders why I love Doctor Who so much. I never fell out of love with it but if I had then this story alone would have been the most bittersweet olive branch possible to imagine. Quite stunning and a wonderful parting gift from Peter Capaldi
             Michelle Gomez was on top of her wicked game. I can barely see anyone else when she is on screen. No bad thing when Missy is around. And Pearl Mackie was just special as the tragic Bill. Oh how could they do that? What a dark mind Stephen Moffat has.
             You have to ask yourself though; Why do you love something that breaks your heart with such regularity. I suppose in order to feel real affection for a thing you have to risk that most precious of emotions.
              But to begin a story with The Doctor kneeling alone in a snowy waste screaming..
              And to end that story with a tearful nightmarishly transformed Bill..
              Its enough to make a fellow build a wall around his heart..
              Or hearts.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Learning about the painter Caravaggio. Boy did he lead a racy life. It s all sex and death and bits inbetween where he produced some beautiful works of art. I once travelled to Dublin and saw one of his paintings in a gallery. The Taking Of Christ. It looked like it was lit by the light of an ill moon. There is probably a school of art that explains this use of light on figures. I found it haunted me for long after. I remember the oft quoted Oscar Wilde line about having a better view of the stars from the gutter and I could not help but imagine Caravaggio could see the stars from a pig sty.

Who's Next?

Oh God Grief Its real. The clock is ticking and time is not our friend. How can this have come around so soon. For Doctor Who to be a show that is so preoccupied with the notion of time and its passing how come there never seems to be enough? Peter capaldi has never been better than now and yet...

The Love Of Angels.

What a terrible thing it would be to be loved by an angel. To be the center of affection and fascination for a thing born into adulthood, a creature that cannot summon an iota of empathy because it shares conciousness with no other living thing. A perfect being in a universe of unintended flaws with no grand design or goal in mind. I have been thinking about Aliens Covenant and some of the beautiful and disturbing ideas it toys with as the story plays out. Perhaps the moment in the movie which had the most dramatic effect on me was the sight of Elizabeth Shaw on that table in David's filthy workshop of creation (and Mary Shelley's haunting words have never resonated with me more.). It almost took me out of the movie I found it so shocking and that is not just down to her eviscerated state but the almost low key reveal of her terrible situation. Elizabeth Shaw was one of my favorite things about the journey Ridley Scott is taking us on with the Prometheus/Alien saga. A brilliant scientist, courageous and decent, a woman of faith who is not afraid to look for answers, despite the real possibility that answers to those questions could impact upon her ability to believe in a benign creator. I had seen the short Crossing, saw how Elizabeth had repaired the damaged David and how the pair had bonded and set out across the vast gulfs of space to seek the home-world of the Promethean engineers. It was a beautifully shot little piece that even echoed the Alien refrain and suggested that Elizabeth's goodness and compassion had altered David's programming for the better. Two friends, both alien to each other, learning to like each other, in search of answers to the biggest questions of all. There is something almost Miltonian about the scene where Elizabeth repairs David's body, in that she too is blind and her mind is on higher things. Not seeing the base nature of the thing in front of her.
            The sight of her grave filled me with sadness.
            The sight of her body filled me with horror.
             I have seen sketches of Jack The Rippers victims and even photographs of the worst of them, poor Mary Kelly. Elizabeth Shaw's body looked as though it had fallen beneath the hand of the Ripper. Butchered, robbed of vitality, robbed of even the dignity that comes with death. It was a jarring shocking sight in a film loaded with jump scares and elemental body horror. Prometheus had wrong footed me and surprised me as a science fiction film that was not afraid to ask some primal questions. covenant wrong footed and surprised me by not being the film I expected it to be. Sure, this time it came cloaked in what one would expect from an alien movie but what I was not expecting was a meditation on the dreams of a fallen angel.David, the fallen favorite of his creator plays creative games of his own. Possibly using the only person he had ever held in high regard. Tearing and disassembling and rewriting the imperative to survive at all costs,"not minding that it hurts." It was one of the most credible studies in evil I have ever seen in a film. Yes, it is quite possible that David did care for Doctor Shaw, that he would even weep at her loss, while not hesitating for a moment to use her person as a template for atrocity. The tears of a fallen angel, how they would burn.
Walter is a mirror to David's distorted passions. a calm reasonable entity who understands his purpose, who does not rebel against his established programming. Heaven had its rebels, those who would not bow before the forces for order, who sought to rebel and embraced chaos and reaped the whirlwind. They prefer the certainty of ferocity uncomplicated by notions of morality. There was poetry in their fall but words could not prevent nor slow their descent into the abyss.
              Where a face hugger sits coiled and waiting.

2001 A Space Odyssey/After Jack.

(From my sketchbook,) Here is my wee tribute to jack Kirby's adaption of 2001 A Sapace Odyssey which he did way back in 1976 and which I remember as an out sized album edition. The Sentinel found buried under the surface of the Moon, waiting for mankind to evolve to the point where they have the abilities to find it in time for their next nudge forward up the evolutionary ladder. At least that is my interpretation of events in the movie.
            Before I left the house this morning there was an article on the news suggesting that five skeletons found in Africa may indicate Homo-sapiens have been around a lot longer than previously understood. Were they the product of humming stones?
             It is a beautiful film but I do not pretend to understand it all. It seems to make sense to my eye but not my brain. Dug out my old original soundtrack for the movie and got an Arthur C Clarke book expanding on his initial story from Atomic Collectables. I do not know if I want to have the events in the film explained. I quite like the air of mystery. Understanding the cosmic scale of events might well diminish their wonder.
              I am only a partially evolved ape after all.
              Shaking bones at the sky and shouting "Stay Away From My Watering Hole.".
             Whilst constantly attempting to remain thoroughly modern off course.

The Shining Man.

The third of the most recent Doctor Who books published by BBC books, well, the third as I have been reading them. This story is a present day adventure which explores the power of Urban Legends mostly generated by online media, and what happens when they share roots with much older myths and legends. In this case it is the relatively new idea of The Shining Men, creatures glimpsed at the corners of ones eye, supernaturally tall with blank faces and eyes which emit blazing lights. The Shining Men appear on the corner of your street, the bottom of your garden, the foot of your stairs, waiting and watching, getting ready for the moment they drag you down to unseen realms. The Shining Men were a Halloween tale which grew in the telling, an invention which became real by dent of repetition. Home made bogey men who were not real until they simply were.
               The story, as far as The Doctor and Bill are concerned begins in a forest, a spooky forest at night. We are talking the full Fetch Priory woods here, a classic Tardis location. The Tardis team find themselves pitched against the  ancient form of magical science which lies at the heart of most folk tales. The Shining Men reflects a new suspicion among  modern Fortean investigators that phenomenon such as demonology , UFO sightings, even Slender Man stories are in fact old enemies of mankind hiding behind new hideous faces. The suspicion that there is in fact nothing new under the sun and that these are old foes allowing themselves to be seen in a modern context. That malicious demons are playing a sly game of "you only thought you knew us."Cavan Scott does a great job as the regular scribe on The Ninth Doctor title published by Titan Books and his book makes a worthy addition to this trilogy of new books which will probably be the last Doctor Who books to be published while Peter Capaldi occupies the Tardis bearing his face.
              Hard to believe that era is drawing to a close.
              And how appropriate is the title of this book.
              It could well refer to Peter Capaldi himself who shines in the role he has waited so many years to perform.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Heralding The Torchwood Archive

The Torchwood Archive vol#1 hit the shelves this week and not only is it a treasure trove of great comic strips and text stories it also has a story with artwork by my Noe The Savage Boy collaborator Stephen Downey. I think he is in China at the moment. He does get about. Bringing his handsomeness to the world. This is a great volume brimming with ideas, by turns exciting and disturbing. Everything Torchwood should be in whatever incarnation those stories present themselves. The Big Finish cds, box sets and single plays, are just some of the best examples out there. and boy are some of those stories Really Out There.
              The most recent story I listened to Visiting Hours was one of the most raucous and outrageous and very very funny stories I have heard to date. Kai Owen and Nerys Hughes are just fantastic, like two badly behaved but very endearing children who find themselves in a desperately dangerous situation. Even the extras are a hoot. Loud and loony and a joy to listen to.
               Also out this week was the truly amazing 3RD Doctor collection Heralds Of Destruction. It is written by the immensely talented Paul Cornell with artwork by Christopher Jones/ ably assisted colour-wise by HI-FI. A lovely ode to a period past, an era remembered with much love and affection by not just those who lived through its original transmission but a legion of fans for Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning and the much missed original UNIT family. There are other familiar faces in the story and some genuinely unexpected twists and turns. Its cheeky, irreverent and full of life.
              Just like Doctor Who at its very best.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

From Here To Centauri.

What a great episode last nights Doctor Who was. Not only a return to Mars but the return of an old alien character I never expected to see or hear again. And I am not even talking about The Ice Warriors who off course are always a welcome sight in any story. I am referring to the cyclopian hysterical alien diplomat Alpaha Centauri who I have not seen any  context other than as a representative for Galactic civility and is a wonderful mirror to the notion of infinite diversity in a huge universe. Also the fact she/he/it/they is a very BBC alien.Even the voice was like the familiar voice of an old companion one never expected to see again.
             Could we be returning to Peladon in the near future?
             Another wonderful moment in  a really great new series.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

John Wayne Is Indeed Big Leggy,

                                                              (From my sketchbook.)
They were not around for very long but I loved Haysi Fantayzee. Punky Victorian waifs dancing and singing dirty songs. Dreads and hats and skanky dance moves. When I try to explain why I like things I sometimes proceed straight to boobie-babble but thats okay. People speak it more than they know.

Moonwalking with Ryan.

(From my sketchbook.) My nephew Ryan makes it to the lunar surface and is about to meet a familiar lifeform. Hope it is a bit more friendly than the ones in Alien Covenant. Their hostile actions and natural ferocity might well be unclouded by notions of morality but who would want to spend any time in their company.

Plague City,

Just finished the new Doctor Who book by Jonathan Morris Plague City. "Fear is contagious" so says the blurb on the cover and I quite agree. I have been in a crowd when some one began to panic and I have watched that impulse leap and spread through that crowd like an airborne virus. The Doctor, Bill and Nardol land in Edinburgh 1645 . The Doctor having promised to take Bill to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. So they are actually a bit off target, time-wise. Plague is sweeping through the Scottish City , victims and their families are barricading themselves in their homes, trying to avoid contact with their neighbors in the hope of skirting infection. Exactly the sort of subject matter that would sit comfortably after an episode of Pointless Although given their limited understanding of bacillus they are more scared of meeting the risen dead  (Not without cause in this book.) than germs. On top of this nightmare there also visits from a masked cloaked figure   who claims the dead thus also breaking the hearts of the bereaved. This being a Doctor Who story things are not just what they seem. In fact, despite how grim things seem they are actually about to get worse for all involved. Ancient aliens and grief Leeches, yes they are bad as they sound, are thrown into this heady mix.
              This novel is by Jonathan Morris who is no stranger to the worlds of Doctor Who past and present. He brings an assured hand to things and even a dynamic familiar to us now watching the new series. Which is remarkable given that he must have written this book way way before anyone really knew how things were going to play out. Even access to a script bible would only have given him a bare bones to the way characters would have interacted. There is so much alchemy which only comes out in the playing. The Doctor is just words until the actor does his magic thing.
              The new series has been a delightful series with a renewed joy and freshness. Maybe its the power of having an end in sight that motivates all involved to give it everything. The Tardis team are warm and endearing with Bill establishing herself as a worthy best friend to The Doctor quite quickly. There were some lovely moments in The Pilot. And I gasped with disapointment when I saw Nardol laying apparently dead on the floor of the Tardis in the second most recent episode and I found myself asking "When did I start caring so much about Nardol?". Matt Lucas has won me over as I feared goofy extremes which would distract from good storytelling.
                Plague City is one of three new Doctor Who titles released by BBC books.I went for this one first as it was set in a period which interested me, the time period and whatever. With an amazing city like Edinburgh in one of its darkest periods.
                One of my favorite moments is a sequence Jonathan Morris comes up with(SPOILER!) when the Doctor does a pied piper, using his guitar instead of a James Galway tube, playing a selection of some of the very best tunes written by a couple of the best British bands ever, to effect a rescue.
               Oh yes, the devil may have all the best tunes but The Doctor knows how to play them.

The Most Romana of Romanas.

Just look at Lalla Ward. Is'nt she just lovely. No wonder Tom Baker was hit by a thunderbolt back in the day. The dynamic between The Doctor and Romana's second incarnation was so special. Two naughty Galifreyan children at large in the universe. Always running, mostly laughing. A season and a half of Whovian joy that is carrying on now thanks to the wonders and talents of Big Finish.
               Timeless space and time  tales.


Well, how about that, this is the first story this season I restarted right after listening to it for the first time, clickety click, right back to the start again and that opening theme tune. Always gets me. The Doctor and Romana find themselves on board a World War  Two sub which despite appearances, is not swiftly and silenty moving beneath the waves but is(SPOILER!) in fact ..some where else entirely (NOT MUCH OF A SPOILER!). It all has a cosmic junkyard feel to it and junk yards have an interesting history in who. For instance; An Unearthly Child or Junkyard Demon.
            There are many disparate elements to this strange little tale of advanced evolution and a talking monkey, Hurrah! Oh yes, a talking monkey, whats not to like about that. The young guy who plays Franklyn, for that is the monkeys name, really goes for it and I guess his performance and the enthusiasm he endows it with seems to have positively impacted on the more seasoned performers he is surrounded by. It all holds together very well and boy does the story fly by. Mind you, I am such a sucker for a charming monkey that I am probably building up his part. Mind you, even The Doctor falls under his spell. The writer, Adrian Poynton, tells an epic tale with a small main cast, exploring themes such as scientific hubris and stone cold revenge. With characters who are by turns optimistic and brave and nihilistic and bitter. These are two very human traits which do not sit well together, diametrically opposed, they are the stuff of great stories.
              Thank Heavens The Doctor is around to save us from ourselves.