onsdag den 17. juni 2009

Who Review #160 - Survival

And so the long journey started in a junkyard on... 10 March nears its close!

Doctor Who was cancelled and for many long years Who fans had to make do with fan fiction and the slow stream of releases from the BBC, amongst other things. What is all the more disappointing is that the stories were actually beginning to get better when the plug was pulled. McCoy and Aldred were quite a good Doctor/companion combo. Ace was certainly a lot different to many of the girls, carrying explosives around as she did and being something of a strong willed tomboy.

the McCoy era
spoon player
doffing his hat
r-r-r-r-rolled Rs
clown but also broody

Survival has some poorly realised ideas, notably the black cat and (to a lesser extent) the Cheetah people face masks. Those aside, the story is interesting, with some good performances from McCoy, esp. Aldred , and Antony Ainley as the Master.

And we are left with a lovely concluding line, for the time being anyway....

There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do

******

Who Review #159 - Curse of Fenric

There are lots of lovely horror references in this story, notably to the Fog and to vampire yarns, as well as lashings of Nordic mythology. The latter has a scene that reminds me of Salem's Lot, when the priest (played ably by Nicholas Parsons) falls prey to the vampiric girls because his faith has gone and it will not protect him. The faithless priest is something of a commentary on WWII, as he lost his faith because of what happened. We delve into more of Ace's past; in a way, this has more to do with New Who than the classic show, as companions weren't developed this way previously.

There are lots of great scenes (and it actually manages to be creepy in places) and a good production level in general.

A classic.
******

Who Review #158 - Ghost Light

There are fans who love this story to bits because of its complexity. I think it tries to be too clever for its own good. Still, there is the philosophical point: evolution, dialectics, change. Another positive - Ace is developed, her past is discussed, something that would be done further in the next two stories. We are kept guessing as to what is happening for quite a while. The sets and costumes are great, the music OK. I was a bit annoyed by the creatures in the basement as I simply struggled to understand what they were saying. Josiah reminded me of Bernie from the Weekend at Bernie's farce! And what was all that with his plan to assassinate Queen Victoria? (To think she goes and founds Torchwood, despite being indirectly saved here by the Doctor....The ingrate!)

Lord Flashheart Line
Ace: Where have you been?
Doctor: Where haven't I been?
(the viewer: WOOF!)

******

Who Review #157 - Battlefield

After a long break (since the Android Invasion), UNIT return as does the retired Brigadier and the Doctor's vintage roadster, Bessie.

There are some elements in the story which were later to become commonplace in New Who: the new Brigadier is a black women (mirroring the greater opportunities for people in society) and a UNIT soldier tells Brig. Bambera that whenever the Doctor appears, all hell breaks loose.

The story plays with Arthurian legend, which is fun I suppose, but it does relapse more often than not into sci-fi pantomime as Knights wander around the British countryside like extras from Monty Python's Holy Grail. The incidental music is dreadfully intrusive and doesn't fit the scenes or action.

Jean Marsh is the evil Morgaine and quite good in the part. Just think, Nick Courtney and Jean made their first Who appearance in the Daleks Masterplan.

Classic Brigadier
we finally see Doris!

The story is actually heavy on nuclear armegeddon; the Destroyer is well made and has been argued by some to be a metaphor for a nuclear device.

******

søndag den 14. juni 2009

Who Review #156 - the Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Another quirky story!

There are some visually appealling features in the story: clowns that drive hearses, the deserted setting of the circus, spy kites. In fact, the story touches on that typical "neurotic hang-up": bloody clowns! I hate the things and think they are creepy. The story has a distinct dreamscape/ nightmarish quality about it.

The story builds up really nicely; something is happening at the circus but what? We meet some oddball and interesting characters as we get to the circus: Cook and Mags, Bellboy, the head clown (who is a menacing figure and played well by Ian Reddington). Probably the worst character though is the kid - a snotty, little geek played by Gian Sammarco, with shades of Adrian Mole here and, apparantly, a figure poking fun at certain types of Doctor Who fan! The story has that little sub-text: the family in the audience are TV viewers or BBC executives and Doctor Who as a programme is on trial! (Then BBC director Michael Grade was not a fan of the show at all and 1989 would mark a dark moment in the show's history....)

All in all, an entertaining and original story.
******

Who Review #155 - Silver Nemesis

The Cybermen return in what is a pointless mess of a story.
******

ps. The chess game is important for a later story.....

Who Review #154 - the Happiness Patrol

The Happiness Patrol are magic: leggy lasses in pink minis, pink/purple wigs, high heels and they carry big guns! One of the foes is unforgettable: the Bertie Bassett's inspired Kandyman, who executes people by drowning them in liquid confectionary.

This is another of those quirky stories, in the positive sense of Paradise Towers - visually,it is off-beat and there is a delightful blues sound in the incidental music .

Believe it or not, the story is a look at Thatcher's Britain! Sheila Hancock's Helen A is Mrs. T. There is possibly a gay rights message in here somewhere too (a prisoner wears a pink triangle).

The only let down is the Fifi puppet. Still, one of my favourites from the McCoy era.
******

Who Review #153 - Remembrance of the Daleks

This was broadcast around the time of the 25th anniversary and that is reflected in the story: there is a playful reference to UNIT when the Doctor calls the Group Captain "Brigadier"; the action features Cole Hill School (where Ace picks up a book - Susan's? - on the French Revolution) and the junkyard at Totter's Lane, all references to An Unearthly Child; the silly bit on TV, where the BBC presenter says it is 5:15 and time for a new sci-fi show called Doc....

The first episode suffers from plunging straight into the action. Normally, there is a little build up before characters meet and the enemy is revealed. Here it is done very briefly and quickly. Still, the story begins to settle down after the hurried start - there is a little bit of mystery with regard to a small girl - as we discover the Dalek factions are at war and both after the Hand of Omega, which the Doctor has left on Earth.

The story is a bit contrived though. Everything is taking place in the old haunt; the Dalek factions know about the Hand of Omega and the Doctor could take something so important from Gallifrey...huh??? Other silly bits are the pantomime fascists, seeing a Dalek spaceship land on a school playground in 1963, and the Time Controller is a plasma globe! Oh and another problem: Davros is back, again.

It's a lightweight bit of fun, with some good scenes here and there, but nothing special. It is easy to see how the show had changed if you compare this story with Genesis of the Daleks.....
******

Who Review #152 - Dragonfire

The season finale sees the series return to slightly more normal Who and is a distinct improvement on the proceeding stories.

There are some nice touches throughout the story. There is Pythonesque moment when the Doctor talks to a guard, in order to distract him, and the latter turns out to be an expert in Philosophy. Tony Selby is back once again as the comic crook Glitz. They finally get rid of Mel, who is replaced by the sweet Sophie Aldred (Ace). The "Dragon" is actually an OK design. Edward Peel is excellent as Kane. Kane's death is one of the Who moments as the special effect is comparable to the famous face melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The end of episode 1 is the silliest in the history of the show, surely? The Doctor, for no reason, climbs over a railing and looks set to plummet to his death! (This is compounded still more when the girls climb down to a ledge using a rope ladder; the drop has vanished?)

Classic Mel
"aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg!" (when she sees the Dragon)

Classic Ace
"Ace!" "Professor." "Brill!" "Nitro 9"

An OK story.
******

Who Review #151 - Delta and the Bannermen

Ken Dodd, that guy from the Flying Pickets, humanoid aliens travelling to a holiday camp in 1959 Wales in a bus shaped spaceship, Rock n Roll inspired incidental music, a green alien baby...yep, a quirky story is in store.

I never really got in to this particular story. It really is the dreaded pantomime sci-fi. At least Bonnie Langford doesn't screach...much.

******

Who Review #150 - Paradise Towers

This is actually a fun story because of its social commentary; Paradise Towers is quite simply a look at all those dreadful inner city tower blocks and estates which were heralded as great places to live when they were built but have become a ghetto. There is a hint of "Lord of the Flies", because the inhabitants of Paradise Towers were sent to live there because of a war.

It is told in an innovative fashion, e.g. girl gangs with an odd vernacular ("Ice hot!" or "Build high for happiness"); bureaucratic and almost fascist caretakers - led by an OTT Richard Briers.

The story is surprisingly violent (knife wielding cannibal grannies, killer robots that feed humans to the Great Architect, a war where young adults have not returned) but that is lost because of the light, one could say whimsical, treatment of the production. As other reviewers have noted, the incidental music simply ruins much of the impact. Bonnie Langford's Mel really does grate in this one as does Briers at times.

Classic Mel
"aaaaargh...aaaargh...aaaargh"

******

Who Review #149 - Time and the Rani

A new season and a new Doctor, Sylvester MacCoy. My initial reaction was "Oh no!" because I remembered him for his clowning about on the children's show* "Tiswas".

As it was, I didn't watch many of the stories at the time because I didn't have tele in the fall of 1987 (I relied on a schoolmate, who recorded episodes) and I moved to Denmark in 1988. I was still pretty negatively disposed to the show at the time so I wasn't particularly bothered; the show seemed to have descended into some sort of sci-fi pantomime. I finally saw all the episodes on BBC Prime, the European BBC service, some years ago. I stiill can't shake the impression that this era of the show has a pantomime feel.

The new titles, logo and theme score are irritatingly cartoonish but, thankfully, the Doctor has ditched that idiotic Colin Baker costume and wears something a bit more stylish.

This story sees the return of the lovely Kate O'Mara as the Rani. Kate is something of (surprise, surprise) a pantomime villain; however, I love her impersonation of Bonnie Langford's Mel, minus the toe curling screaming. Sylvester brims energy. Otherwise, the story itself is plain awful. Not a good start for the new Doctor for sure.

Classic Mel
"Aaaaaaaaaaaarg...aaaaaaaaaaaarg...aaaaaaaaaaarg...aaaaaaaaaaaarg!!!" (which tempts one to think of Bonnie Langford as Violet Bott in "Just William", to wit: I'll thcream and thcream until I'm thick, I can!)
******

* It is sometimes discussed whether Tiswas was entirely devoted to children, what with Sally James quite often running about in rather revealing costumes....

Population and Socialism

The world's population is projected to grow to 9.1 billion by mid-century. Continued population growth raises serious questions about access to food, water, energy and land and the related issues of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions - with the projected impacts that will have on global climate - and loss of habitat, species and biodiversity.

The issue is certainly one that socialists cannot ignore.

An article in the June edition of Scientific American discusses population

Mostly ignored in the environmental debates about population and consumption is that nearly all the world’s nations agreed to an altogether different approach to the problem of growth 15 years ago, one that bases positive demographic outcomes on decisions individuals make in their own self-interest. (If only something comparable could be imagined to shrink consumption.) The strategy that 179 nations signed onto at a U.N. conference in Cairo in 1994 was: forget population control and instead help every woman bear a child in good health when she wants one.

That approach, which powerfully supports reproductive liberty, might sound counterintuitive for shrinking population growth, like handing a teenager the keys to the family car without so much as a lecture. But the evidence suggests that what women want—and have always wanted—is not so much to have more children as to have more for a smaller number of children they can reliably raise to healthy adulthood. Women left to their own devices, contraceptive or otherwise, would collectively “control” population while acting on their own intentions.

This aspect of the issue is an interesting one. Firstly, Socialism will entail the end of the State, so there is no question of some sort of central authority controlling family size, such as in China. Secondly, as we argue in our principles: "That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind, without distinction of race or sex."

The article notes that better family planning services, access to contraception, sexual equality and (female) education all play an important role in reducing birth rates. Religions, with their superstitions and "laws", have a baneful influence - e.g. Catholicism and its views on contraception (which also acts against the prevention of HIV/AIDS).

It would appear that eliminating poverty is a way to achieve a stable world population. Needless to say, there are many wrinkles and complexities in the population, resources and environment issue. Our case is that Socialism is the best framework for abolishing that poverty and liberating women.

fredag den 12. juni 2009

Who Review #145 to 148 - the Trial of a Timelord

This is the longest story in Who history, coming in at 14 episodes; however, like many other fans, I tend to cut it into four stories: The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror of the Vervoids and the Ultimate Foe.

The best review I have read is on the BBC website. It pretty much coincides with my own thoughts.

I think C.B. was a bit better as the Doctor in these episodes but he didn't get the chance to show what he could have been; the result being, he remains my least favourite Doctor. Nicola Bryant left in what could have been truly dramatic fashion; as a companion, I didn't like her much. Her best role was in Caves of Androzani. Her replacement is the unbelievably dire Mel (Bonnie Langford), the worst companion since Adric.

This terribly jumbled and, at times, rather tedious story has its good parts: Glitz is a funny character; Brian Blessed is his usual roaring, larger than life self in Mindwarp, which also sees the marvellous Sil return. The Vervoid episodes are the best. Some of the costumes and sets in the various settings look really good.

But on the whole, a great disappointment (because the Valeyard and whole trial is a stupid idea) and marking the beginning of the end....
******

Who Review #144 - Revelation of the Daleks

After a number of irritating and poor stories, here comes C.B's best. It's a six out of six stars in case you are wondering.

There are some great characters and performances: the hopelessly infatuated Tasambeker (Jenny Tomasin, who was in Upstairs, Downstairs) and Jobel (Clive Swift, Richard in Keeping Up Appearances); William Gaunt as Grand Knight of Oberon, Orcini and John Ogwen as Bostock, the Knight's squire; Alexei Sayle as the OTT DJ; Eleanor Bron as the OTT Kara.

Terry Molloy gives what I think is his best Davros here. He exudes menace and insanity. The scenes where he cackles hysterically stick out in one's mind. The Daleks are quite good in this; there is now a battle between Dalek factions and both are just as evil.

The atmosphere of the story is quite dark in places, thanks to OK scenes and incidental music.

Not for the first time, this is a story which moves along OK without Peri or C.B's Doctor about. That's rather telling about this era, really.... And Dr.Who vanished, for 18 months. Ratings were collapsing and the programme was close to being cancelled. Even old fans like myself had lost interest. It is only in recent years that I have actually watched the entire Colin Baker years and tried to find something positive. (Colin Baker, it should be said, is a fine fella and really enthusiastic about the show; it hardly seems fair to pan him so much.)

The crisis spawned this song, which is simply dreadful - a bit of a Band Aid style song, only in bad taste, with *celebs* and Nicola Bryant showing her singing was worse than her acting. One of the writers Ian Levine (a big Whovian) said this of his effort:

It was an absolute balls-up fiasco. It was pathetic and bad and stupid. It tried to tell the Doctor Who history in an awful high-energy song. It almost ruined me.

As said
******

Who Review #143 - Timelash

It's awful.

******

Who Review #142 - The Two Doctors

This is the worst story to come from Robert Holmes' pen. The Sontarans, after a long break, and Jamie and Troughton's Doctor might sound like an attractive idea; they are wasted here, alas. It's another jumbled up piece of twaddle. It meanders and bores and is truly stupid in places.

The 2nd Doctor is travelling with Victoria (conveniently dumped somewhere to learn graphology...huh?) and Jamie, yet talks about his trial and that he is even on a job for the Time Lords (totally at odds with the War Games).

Blake 7's delightful Servalan aka Jacqueline Pearce makes an appearance. I think the best part was John Stratton's Shockeye, a cook who will serve anything and that includes humans.

Classic Peri
another bikini top and basically her costume through the story, which included a headband worthy of a 1980s pop band.

The shots in Seville are nice, but...ermmm....
******

Who Review #141 - The Mark of the Rani

The plot isn't fantastic but what is lacking in that department is more than made up for by the delightful Kate O'Mara as the Rani and the way she, the Master and the Doctor bicker.

There is some good incidental music and location shooting.

Not exciting but fair enough. Just don't think about the Tree!
******

Who Review #140 - Vengeance on Varos

Peri and the Doctor spend most of the first episode trapped in the TARDIS, whilst a lot of the action, or the scenes, centre on events on Varos.

Martin Jarvis makes another Who appearence, along with Jason Connery. The best supporting actor, though, is Nabil Shaban who plays the creature Sil. His costume, a little green maggot-like creature, as well as his voice and mannerisms are marvellous.

Varos is a quirky little world - the voters vote via TV buttons and get rid of governors because they get vapourised after No votes, and it does have "1984" overtones. The viewers are treated to executions for entertainment; in fact, watch TV is all the people do, so that they do not revolt; it's the old bread and circuses for the proles. Part of the story reminds one of "Running Man", as viewers watch prisoners try to get through deadly traps.

Once again, the Doctor is the irritant. He casually kills guards - vapourising one, throwing two in an acid bath, setting a trap which kills a few more.

It's an OK story and probably one of the better stories in C.B's reign.
******

Who Review #139 - Attack of the Cybermen

This story opens season 22 and brings back the silver giants. Like the proceeding season's Dalek story, this one is full of references to past stories (the Invasion - the sewers; the Tomb of the Cybermen - Telos and the Cyber Controller, played by the same actor, only 30kg later; and of course the Tenth Planet - Mondas; Totter's Lane appears again - An Unearthly Child). Once more, just about everybody is killed. Maurice Colbourne's Lytton returns and we see a grusome scene where the Cybermen crush his hands.

Classic Peri
Running about in shorts and a leotard, leaving little to the imagination.

The thing about the story is Tomb of the Cybermen, with its 60s "high-tech", is far superior than this twaddle, which was always an inevitable comparison. As is the fact Troughton was a better Doctor.
******

Who Review #138 - the Twin Dilemma

Something or other happens in this story but goodness knows what because it is ass paralysingly painful viewing. As bad as the Gunfighters.

Colin Baker is simply dreadful as the new Doctor. "I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not", he says at the end of this season finale. "Oh no!" says the viewer, who also agrees with Peri that the Doctor's clothes are just so f***ing mental, the wardrobe dept. should be shot.

******

torsdag den 11. juni 2009

Who Review #137 - Caves of Androzani

Peter Davison's exit. Caves... is without a doubt not only my favourite of his era but also one of the very best stories in the show's history.

The excellent quality of the script, the marvellous characters and its quite adult nature owes a lot to the return of old Who favourite Robert Holmes. The acting is excellent on the whole, Roger Limb's incidental music atmospheric and amazing, the caves look sufficiently real and creepy. Just about the only thing that could be complained about is the Magma Creature; it doesn't really play much of a part and is a bad rubber suit.

Needless to say, the body count was also quite high in this story! Graeme Harper is quite gritty in his direction; he used soliloquys for some of the excellent scenes with Morgus, which are both interesting and surprising for this sort of show.

Classic Peri
Her bust drawing attention away from Davison's regeneration performance. (Peter's joke, btw!)

The Davison Era
Cricket.
Celery.
"Brave heart, Tegan"

******

Who Review #136 - Planet of Fire

Tedious. Although it must be said, the story is put together well and at least the actors did some work out in Lanzarote, for the location filming!

Goodbye Turlough. Mark had some good parts in his time, although at times I did find his character to be a bit irritating.

Good riddence Kamelion!

The most memorable scenes in the show for Dads. Nichola Bryant was to joke some years later that she felt perfectly natural in a bikini but was a little bit intrigued by some of the camera angles, which she thought others probably enjoyed. Needless to say, I developed an instant crush on Ms. Bryant!

Who Review #135 - Resurrection of the Daleks

The Daleks return after a lengthy break and...oh no, they've come to get Davros again.

Gone is the old Wisher facemask from Genesis of the Daleks and Destiny of the Daleks. The part here (and later) was played by Terry Molloy. I didn't think much of him at the time, because I was already fed up with Davros returning again and again, but have since warmed to his role.

The story fails as it rehashes lots of previous Dalek stories, is pretty much all over the place and once again just about everybody gets killed. There are some pretty grusome scenes when people are exposed to gas, and the violence level is quite high. Yet again, we are "treated" to a flashback of the Doctors and the companions...it really was getting tedious.

There are some saving graces. Maurice Coulborne and Rodney Bewes are simply great as Lytton and Stein. Leslie "Dirty Den" Grantham, Chloe "Play School" Ashcroft and Rula Lenska also make small appearances.

There are some shots of London which make are interesting from the historical perspective; the parts shot close to London Bridge are no longer those rundown and abandoned buildings. The place was revitalised as condos for the Yuppie generation.

I suppose the action and the fact it is the Daleks covers the deficiencies but only on a first viewing.

Janet Fielding left in this story. It was quite a touching send off too for the mouth on legs (and nice legs too, in that leather miniskirt!). She was, in her way, as integral to the Davison era as Jamie was to Troughton.

******

Who Review #134 - Frontios

This is a really enjoyable yarn.

The sets are good, the acting top notch and the script intelligent. There is a sufficient air of suspense as we don't find out why people get sucked into the ground until later. One of the intriguing parts of the story is that these are the last humans; we've seen a number of junctures in human history through the millenia in Doctor Who by this time (e.g. leaving Earth in the Ark and the Ark in Space; a large galactic empire in Frontier and Space; a declining empire in The Mutants). New Who comes back to these "events" later on so it's worth contrasting those visions at a later stage.

The Tractors are a let down as the costumes don't look all that good. But that's one of the few quibbles.
******

Who Review #133 - the Awakening

Evil creature seeks local civil war recreation society for world domination, or something on those lines. Actually, although I thought the plot was a bit silly, there are lots of interesting bits to keep one entertained. The production was pretty good.

This era of Who wouldn't be the same without a bit of violence, so not surprisingly there is a scene where it is hinted a soldier gets decapitated.
******

Who Review #132 - Warriors of the Deep

This story saw the return of two classic (Pertwee) monsters: the Silurians and the Sea Devils. It was such a shame that the story is just a load of rubbish.

Basically, everybody gets killed except the Doctor and companions, as the Sea Devils and Silurians enter a sea base. The reptiles are intent on killing all humans by prompting a global nuclear war so the Doctor's sympathies for them are a faux-pas attempt at recreating the Pertwee-esque compassion of the previous, lovely stories. The reptiles look absolutely terrible: the Silurians have had an overhaul, look rubbery and have terrible voices, while the Sea Devil costumes didn't fit the actors plus they were dressed in daft looking samurai type costumes.

The epitomy of badness has got to be the Myrka (a pantomime horse costume which was supposed to look like a terrifying reptilian creature) and the cringe inducing scene where Ingrid Pitt suddenly thinks she is Bruce Lee and tries to fight it. The resolution of the story is pretty much telegraphed at the start when the time travellers find gas canisters, the gas being toxic to marine creatures and reptiles.

There is really not much to write home about.
******

Who Review #131 - the Five Doctors

20 years of the show were celebrated on 23rd November 1983 and as part of the Children in Need evening too.

Sadly Tom turned down his part so we had to make do with previously unseen clips from Shada, which had been cancelled due to industrial action at the BBC. Not the same, of course, but it did make up for it a bit at the time.

The feature length episode opened with a clip from the Daleks Invasion of Earth (where the Doctor says farewell to Susan), so the late Bill was also represented. It was always going to be risky having another actor portray the first Doctor, however I think Richard Hurndell (who had played a cowboy in the Hartnell story The Gunfighters) pulled it off well enough. There are a few lines he delivered as though he was in a bad mood, not just tetchy.

Pertwee and Davison were OK; but it was Troughton, with Nick Courtney as the Brigadier, who carried the story.

The story isn't fantastic but with a Dalek, a Yeti, Cybermen, the Master,Rassilon, Gallifrey, old companions, mention of past events and some of the classic lines (Reverse the Polarity; No! Not the mind probe!), the Five Doctors had sufficient nostalgia for its aim as a celebration/ a party.

I prefer the Three Doctors though.
******

Who Review #129 - Enlightenment

The Guardian Trilogy comes to a disappointing end as the Black Guardian is quickly dispatched by Turlough.

That said, there is a lot I enjoyed about this story. Lynda Baron (the b-b-b-buxum Nurse Gladys from Open All Hours) is totally OTT as a Pirate Captain, complete with pantomime cackle. (One reviewer has described her portrayal as thigh slapping enthusiasm!) There are also some nice parts by Keith Baron and Christopher Brown. The first episode built up quite well, with the memorable cliffhanger. The incidental music is quite good.

The Eternals are interesting enemies - intelligent and telepathic but also empty shells of beings without humans, inhabitants of nothingness, immortal. They bring to mind the Celestial Toymaker, although no link has ever been made between the two.
******

mandag den 8. juni 2009

Remake or Rehash?

I had a sleepy Sunday evening so I popped on the tele and saw a few episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" and "Salem's Lot."

I watched the old TV film of Salem's Lot quite recently so I was a little bit intrigued to see what this version (with Rutger Hauer, Donald Sutherland and Rob Lowe) would be like. To be fair, there are certain aspects of the newest version which capture King's book more faithfully, such as Mr. Barlow talking to his victims. As actors go, I think Rutger and Donald play creepy types very well as they have such amazing faces and voices. In Rutger's case, I suppose it owes a lot to a lingering impression of his replicant in Bladerunner. I was unimpressed on the whole; it just seemed to lack the atmosphere of the 1979 version, directed by Tobe Hooper.

The Battlestar Galactica remake would have had me chucking popcorn at the tele if I ate that rubbish. The fact that Glen A. Larson worked on the show doesn't save it. Was I just tired, or is that blonde girl called Starbuck? Starbuck is in the A-Team and looks like this guy. And what on Earth is it with human looking cylons and the new centurions? The old-look Cylons were, as far I am concerned, one of the best designs and best sounding sci-fi monsters ever - see this pretty cool fan made video! Don't even get me started on the soap opera nature of it all....

It's not that I am totally against remakes - Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula is a beautiful film which (apart from the reincarnation and Ryder/Oldman love bit) is miles ahead of anything going under "Dracula" and also so very faithful to Stoker's book.

It seems that there is a real poverty of ideas. My step-dad used to sit and ask me all the time why I wanted to watch this or that rubbish on TV ( the David Frost episode with John Cleese on "How to Irritate People" has a skit which could have been written with him in mind!); maybe it is my age, but I too think there is so much crap on tele. Stupid game shows, stupid reality shows, stupid crime shows, stupid comedies that aren't funny, stupid soaps and, in case you missed them, endless repeats. Is the quality - or rather the lack of - telling us something about the bankruptcy of capitalist culture? I certainly stay clear of the tele most of the time. Only Doctor Who, a sporting event or a David Attenborough documentary can grab my interest these days. A good bit of TV is a rare find these days (e.g. the X- Files was one of the really great shows.)

I tend to listen to the radio and, when I do, I listen primarily to Radio 4 and programmes like Costing the Earth, In Our Time and the Week in Farming.

Of course, when it comes to remakes, the ultimate heresy of our time is Mel bloody Gibson thinking he can do "Edge of Darkness". Screw that rubbish; see the six episodes with Bob Peck and haunting Kamen/Clapton soundtrack.

Election Day

Turnout: 33.30% (down 3.99%)

Vote breakdown:

Con 479,037 (27.36%, +0.58%)
Lab 372,590 (21.28%, -3.47%)
LD 240,156 (13.72%, -1.60%)
Green 190,589 (10.88%, +2.45%)
UKIP 188,440 (10.76%, -1.58%)
BNP 86,420 (4.94%, +0.90%)
Christian Party 51,336 (2.93%)
Ind Jan 50,014 (2.86%)
EDP 24,477 (1.40%, +0.55%)
NO2EU 17,758 (1.01%)
Soc Lab 15,306 (0.87%)
Libertas 8,444 (0.48%)
Jury Team 7,284 (0.42%)
Ind Cheung 4,918 (0.28%)
SPGB 4,050 (0.23%)
Yes 2 Europe 3,384 (0.19%)
Ind Rahman 3,248 (0.19%)
Ind A 1,972 (0.11%)
ND 1,603 (0.09%)

Area: Greater London
Electorate: 5.1 million

The figures are via the Daily Telegraph.

The votes for the Socialist Party are of course many times the actual membership of the party, so an obviously positive result would be if those who voted actually thought of joining. Failing that, and it is unlikely the SPGB will suddenly have 4000 members come Friday, one can but hope that the work the party has been doing in the London area will have made sure people recognise who we are and what we stand for and that they are more sympathetic towards the socialist idea.

Flicking through the papers and some of the blogs, a lot is being made of New Labour's meltdown - and what this means for the forthcoming General Election and Gordon Brown's leadership in the coming weeks - and the two seats for the pond life in the BNP. For sure, those are important results; however, I always tend to look at the biggest "party/movement" : the Non-Voter. The turnout was absolutely atrocious.

The vote is so important. How on Earth is anyone to gauge what the millions who did not vote are thinking? In a positive spin, perhaps it is a vote against the capitalist parties because nobody believes they are any good, can do anything and, as the expenses row rumbles on, these parties are as corrupt as hell.

søndag den 7. juni 2009

Sweden - Denmark

The footie results are definately going the right way for once, what with the Gills going up and Denmark winning 1-0 away against the old foe! (England also won last night.)

Denmark might be on their way to South Africa, although they still have games against Sweden and Portugal to come. Last night's result sort of erases the scandelous evening against Sweden last time, when Denmark came from 3-0 down to 3-3 in a Euro Chp. Qualifier, only to have everything lost when a fool ran on to the pitch and attacked the referee (who had awarded a penalty), prompting him to call off the game; Denmark were sanctioned with a 0-3 loss and banned from playing at the National Stadium.

fredag den 5. juni 2009

the Greatest Guide to Doctor Who Ever

I still think this is effing brilliant

My slightly less accurate accounts resume soon

How Others See the SPGB

Being a Londoner, I’ll vote for the Socialist Party of Great Britain. They may be purely propagandist, but at least they’re honest in their propaganda. There is no nationalism, dilution and compromise in their socialism. I have problems with their parliamentary road to socialism, but support their view of a world community based on common ownership and democratic control, their opposition to Leninist vanguardism and their view that the working class has to want and understand socialism before it can win it.

After decades of voting for lesser evils, class traitors, idiots and muddle-heads, at long last I can vote for something I really want. It may be a wasted vote, but no more wasted than a vote for Labour, No2EU or the SLP.

(Letter in the Weekly Worker.)

Hat tip Matt

onsdag den 3. juni 2009

Old Rugby Players Don't Die....

I bumped into a couple of old Rugby mates on the 1st May demonstration here in Århus. They have managed to talk me back into playing the game again. I had actually retired, back in 2000. I have been along to a bit of training at my old club. (I have a few kilos more than I wish, have no puff and cannot sprint at all - but then, I am a forward, so what's the problem?) If they can get a second team going, I will be happy to get back in at Hooker; the front row is a fun place to play! Failing that, there is talk of getting all the old boys together - from across the globe - for a dinner once a year and putting a side out. Our first game shall have to be against the youngsters (the present side); me and the other old buggers are quite confident the match will look like the rugby game from Monty Python's Meaning of Life.