From "Millennial Rites" by Craig Hinton
Mel: That just isn't fair.
The Doctor: The universe rarely is. That's why I'm here.
Mel: That just isn't fair.
The Doctor: The universe rarely is. That's why I'm here.
Anyone familiar with this blog knows I like to create alternate universe “Doctor Who” stories where I switch out the lead actors. Sometimes this involves placing Classic Who Doctors in New Who episodes, sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes it’s random, other times there is a theme or plan.
Because Tumblr’s tagging system is unreliable, I thought I’d create a master list of all of the alternate universe “Doctor Who” posts I’ve written so far:
Classic Who Doctors in New Who Stories. This was my first attempt at an AU Who post, and the title is pretty self explanatory — all seven Classic Who Doctors, transplanted into the New Who stories I thought fit them best.
Classic Who Doctors in New Who Revisited. Same concept as the last one, but this time I matched Doctors and seasons of the current show by number (i.e., First Doctor for Series 1, Fourth Doctor for Series 4, etc.).
Classic Who Doctors in Series 7B Stories. Just before “The Name of the Doctor”, I decided to take the preceding seven episodes making up series 7B and recast each one with a different Classic Who Doctor.
New Who Doctors in Classic Stories. This was actually the second AU post I wrote, flipping things around to place the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors in Classic Who episodes. I wrote one for each of the new show’s first five seasons (plus a bonus episode featuring River Song). I’m not sure why I haven’t done more of these posts featuring New Who Doctors…
Eighth Doctor AU Post. Not really a part of Classic or New Who, the Eighth Doctor had been left out on all of my previous posts. That’s why I wrote this short post placing him in one Classic Who story and one New Who episode.
Eleventh Doctor Lost Season. My most recent post. All featuring the Eleventh Doctor, these reimagined Classic Who stories form a seven episode mini season that would be placed between “A Christmas Carol” and “The Impossible Astronaut”.
I’m not sure where I’ll go next with my AU Who posts. Maybe pair New Who Doctors with Classic companions (or vice versa)? Or another “lost” season concept? And of course once we have a good handle on the personality of the Twelfth Doctor, there will be opportunities to place him in stories of previous eras. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading these.
I really wish the rumours of a new “Twin Peaks” series had been true. It and “Carnivale” are two great shows I think could pick up years later with (most of) the original cast and actually still work.
I actually think it’s time to give the sonic screwdriver a rest again. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been re-watching stories from the John Nathan-Turner era, when the Doctor didn’t carry one for most of three regenerations, but I’d be happy if the Twelfth Doctor chose not to use it (or at least not to lean on it quite so heavily). And if he’s going to carry a sonic screwdriver, at least make it the same one Matt Smith used. This constant updating just to have new toys to sell is getting annoying.
Speaking of which, I really hope Capaldi’s debut series keeps the same titles and arrangement of the theme tune from the back half of series 7. They’re changing all of this stuff up way too frequently in recent years…
Meet the new face of American justice.
I’m actually excited about this movie. Generally I’m not a fan of remakes, but this looks like the rare one that has something new to say.
Verhoeven’s Robocop is a masterpiece, a brilliant satire of 1980s politics, corporate greed, and the Dirty Harry style cop film. Nothing will ever match it and nothing should try (just look at the disappointing sequels to see what happens when you try to replicate Verhoeven without Verhoeven — although I do have a soft spot for Robocop 2). But based on the trailers and everything I’ve read, Jose Padilha is trying to do the same thing Verhoeven did (tackling current social issues through science fiction) without trying to mimic his style.
I just wish they’d stuck with the silver costume above, it looks great. The black one makes him look like Knightrider.
After reading a few disappointing books (a couple of which I have yet to write reviews for), I decided to return to the Doctor Who New Adventures series I was enjoying so much. I chose “Nightshade” based on the glowing reviews online and the fact that it features the Seventh Doctor and Ace alone (instead of including companions created for the book series). This despite never warming to Mark Gatiss’ work as a writer on New Who (the exception being “Cold War”, which has become my go-to “Watch this episode to decide if you like Doctor Who or not” episode).
The story is set in a small English village in the days leading up to Christmas. The characters include a group of scientists studying pulsars, an aging actor who once played a Doctor-like character called Professor Nightshade, and several townspeople who start seeing friends and loved ones that are long dead. Into this situation come the Doctor, who is contemplating retirement, and Ace, who finds herself drawn to a local boy and starts thinking about her own life after the TARDIS.
"Nightshade" actually reads more like a Missing Adventure than a New Adventure, and with the exception of a couple of references to the Timewyrm arc it’s easy to imagine this story taking place between "The Curse of Fenric" and "Survival." With the exception of a tertiary console room and the Doctor thinking about retiring, there’s nothing here that differs in tone or content from the televised series. Although the foreword seems to indicate Gatiss wasn’t all that impressed with the show’s final seasons (he admits it was turning around towards the end), he has an incredible handle on both the Doctor and Ace and he’s able to capture that hard-to-define quality that makes "Doctor Who" unique.
The only jarring element of “Nightshade” comes at the very end, when the Doctor does something inexplicably cruel to Ace (and this is the Seventh Doctor we’re talking about, who routinely forced Ace to confront her worst fears). In notes at the end, Gatiss says he was told the Doctor’s actions would be explained in the next novel, but he later learned they were not. It certainly makes for a memorable ending, and it hints at the much darker Doctor portrayed later in the New Adventures series, but within the context of this book alone it is a little baffling.
I could actually see this novel making a really great Christmas special for Peter Capaldi. Without knowing exactly how he’ll approach the character, it’s likely he’d be able to sell a travel-weary Doctor looking to finally settle down, only to be pulled once again into someone else’s affairs. I imagine Mark Gatiss had William Hartnell in mind when he created Edmund Trevithick (the actor who once portrayed Professor Nightshade), but I couldn’t help but picture former Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in the role. It would be a great way to bring back a past Doctor without having him actually play the Doctor, much like Tom Baker’s appearance in “Day of the Doctor”. There’s also a plot point involving the villain taking the form of the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan. She could be played by original actress Carole Ann Ford, or even by Claudia Grant who recently played Ford in “An Adventure in Space and Time”, written by Mark Gatiss.
"Nightshade" is an excellent Who novel that really conveys the spirit of the later Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred episodes. While it didn’t have the boundary-pushing qualities of the other New Adventures I’ve read, it was a a great read.
Since its debut, “Earth 2” has been one of my favourite DC titles. With its completely fresh takes on familiar DCU characters and concepts that aren’t tied to previous continuity, it’s what the New 52 reboot was supposed to be. I might not like everything about it (the costume for the Earth 2 Flash is particularly awful), but it’s always bold and inventive.
One problem I do have with “Earth 2” is the fact that there’s too much story for a monthly comic book. The first arc introduced characters like Jay Garrick and Alan Scott and seemed to be setting up a new Justice Society, but recently we’ve dropped their stories entirely to focus on a new batch of heroes (including Red Tornado and the world’s new Batman).
This isn’t a question of my preferring one group of characters over another, and I’d happily read about both groups of heroes. Sinc ethere isn’t enough space in “Earth 2” to tell both stories, I think DC should double down on the alternate Earth concept and give us at least one new title. After all, the rest of the DCU has about 50 monthly comics to flesh out its world, so why should Earth 2 only get one?
A Justice Society team book seems like the natural choice, especially since the characters we don’t have time for anymore (Green Lantern, Flash, Dr. Fate) were all on the Golden Age version of the group. This second title would allow “Earth 2” to continue world-building and introducing out-of-left-field versions of characters we know and love (like Lois Lane as Red Tornado and Connor Hawke was Red Arrow) while telling totally different stories starring the newly formed Justice Society. DC could slap an “Earth 2” logo on the cover or call it “Justice Society of Earth 2” or “Earth 2: Justice Society”.
The other obvious choice for a spin-off would be “Worlds’ Finest”. This title stars the Earth 2 Robin and Supergirl who are living in the main DCU as Huntress and Power Girl. I’ve enjoyed it on and off, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Maybe the best solution is to return the characters to their home universe where they can fight crime, either in their new heroic identities or their old ones. For that matter, Helena could take up the Catwoman mantle of her mother and Kara could graduate to Super Woman.
One more lost thread in “Earth 2” has been the re-introduced Scott Free (aka Mister Miracle) and Barda. It makes sense to have them and their fellow New Gods play a more prominent role in the world where Darkseid’s invasion was largely successful, but again they’ve fallen out of the main story. Why not give them a book set on Earth 2?
There’s always the danger of overexposure, but at the very least it seems like a Justice Society book or a reworked “Worlds Finest” could allow DC to do more with Earth 2 than the single title allows. Considering “Earth 2” is one of the few genuinely surprising books the publishing it putting out, I’d really like to see them do more with that world going forward.
This and the April/Ann/Donna rendition of “Time After Time” are just two of the reasons “Parks and Recreation” is the best.
One of the many flaws of “The Time of the Doctor” was the fact that River wasn’t in it. Admittedly I’m a big River Song fan, but she played such a crucial role in the Eleventh Doctor’s life that it made no sense for her not to be in his final story.
Maybe Alex Kingston had a scheduling conflict and Moffat thought he could replace her as easily as he did Eccleston with John Hurt in “Day of the Doctor”. Sadly, Tasha Lem was no River Song, and the episode suffered for it.
We all need to be just a little bit more like Tina.
Argo won the Academy Award and The Town was a blockbuster, but I’ve always preferred Ben Affleck’s debut film Gone Baby Gone to his subsequent efforts. That movie was based on the fourth book in a series written by Dennis Lehane, and “A Drink Before The War” is the first.
"A Drink Before The War" introduces Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, private detectives who have been friends since high school. Patrick is in love with Angie, something he doesn’t really hide, but she’s married to their mutual friend who also happens to be abusive. Having previously read the third book in the series ("Sacred", which is pretty good) I already knew how this love triangle would play out, but it makes for an interesting dynamic nonetheless.
Patrick and Angie are hired by some Boston politicians to find a cleaning woman who disappeared, and to recover anything she might have lifted from their offices during the course of her work. Finding the woman in question doesn’t take them too long, but then things go to hell (don’t they always in detective stories?) and the narrative shifts to a gang war with Kenzie and Gennaro caught in the middle.
"A Drink Before The War" is a decent mystery that introduces a pair of interesting detective characters. It wasn’t as strong as "Sacred" or the film adaption of Gone Baby Gone, but it kept my attention throughout. I won’t be a huge hurry to read the second installment, but I might pick it up the next time I’m looking for a detective story.
This weekend I discovered that all of the Highlander films are available on Netflix Instant. Sure, I already own them on DVD, but this discovery gave me a reason to marathon the series. So on Saturday I watched Highlander, Highlander: The Final Dimension, and Highlander: Endgame. This of course leaves out the unwatchable Highlander 2 and the let’s-never-talk-about-this-again TV movie “Highlander: The Source”.
Here are a few random observations about the three films.
Like Robocop and First Blood, the first Highlander doesn’t get nearly enough respect for being a damned good movie. It’s wonderfully high concept, jumping around in time and mixing medieval epic with 1980s action. Christopher Lambert is a charismatic lead (I’m not sure how much truth there is to comments on the audio commentary that say he arrived for filming unable to speak a single word of English, but if he’s delivering the dialogue phonetically he does so convincingly) and Clancy Brown is a great villain. Sean Connery as an Egyptian named Ramirez is bizarre casting to say the least, but he makes for a fun Obiwan Kenobi. Probably most impressive are the scene transitions which are all inventive and do a good job of taking the audience forward and backward in time. Oh, and music by Queen!
It’s really unfortunate that the producers didn’t take the catchphrase “There can be only one” to heart, because this should have never been a franchise. Highlander works so well as a self-contained story, and the ending leaves nothing open for a sequel. In fact, every additional installment cheapens Connor’s victory. Which brings us to…
Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994)
I remember seeing trailers and posters for this when it was still called Highlander 3: The Sorcerer. When it first came out, I enjoyed this sequel (which at the very least is much better than Highlander 2: The Quickening) but today it plays like a weak retread of the original film. Mario Van Peebles is okay as the villain, and the film makes decent use of early (and therefore pretty unconvincing) CGI, but the film tries too hard to mirror the past/future narrative of the original and doesn’t adequately explain how Connor could have won the prize if he wasn’t actually the last immortal left. Plus there’s the fact that the ageless Connor MacLeod has gotten visibly older — a problem that will only get worse with…
Highlander: Endgame (2000)
I never watched “Highlander: The Series”, but the fact that I can enjoy this film with zero knowledge of those characters shows that the producers did a reasonably good job. Yes it looks cheaper than the other two films, but Endgame successfully combines the stories of the film and television series. That being said, there are problems. Connor’s son from The Final Dimension is never mentioned, Duncan and Connor both have major people in their lives turn out to be fellow immortals (honestly, history is lousy with them), and if there’s an explanation given on the show for why the game continues so long after the events of the first film it certainly isn’t reiterated here. Christopher Lambert is looking significantly older by this point, but it’s nice that he gets a decent sized role rather than just a cameo to pass the torch. For once the ending is left open for sequels, but the only one that materialized was made-for-TV and generally awful.
Watching these films back to back (to back), I was reminded of a film school idea I had to edit them all together in chronological order. I think it would be really interesting to see Connor MacLeod’s early life play out without knowing how long he will live, following his mini adventures through history before settling into the main narrative in 1986 and beyond. This approach would also allow villains like The Kurgan and Kane to be introduced and then disappear for long stretches of the story, only to pop up again down the line. Similarly, Duncan’s story could be woven throughout Connor’s life, taking over the main story when the events of Endgame play out.
I certainly don’t think this would be a better version of the Highlander saga (much of the strength of the first and third films come from the way past and present are woven together), but I do think it would be a really interesting experience for fans of the series.