I’ll confess, I went into this with no small amount of pessimism. It was hard (and still is, really) to imagine Moffat crafting a better way to go out than Series Nine. Sherlock felt so utterly tired and creatively spent that it became easy to fear that Moffat was simply done. The Return of Doctor Mysterio was neither here nor there. So it was easy to assume that we were already past the peak in terms of what I wanted out of Moffat writing Doctor Who. And with the sure to be frustrating Chibnall era looming, well, my excitement’s definitely short of 100%. None of that’s changed based on The Pilot. That’s not to say I didn’t like the episode or anything. It was fun; in no way a classic, but Moffat’s season-openers generally aren’t. It’s just a sort of necessary bit of context. My initial setting here is cautious engagement.
And perhaps more to the point, that feels like the mood. I’ve been thinking about the Capaldi stretch of TARDIS Eruditorum, which I reckon will happen in 2018, Patreon willing. And obviously, there’s a Pop Between Realities on Brexit and the awful Doctor Who-less shitstorm that was 2016. I ...
Happy April 14th to you all. The Shabcast is back once again (slightly more structured and sobre than last time), featuring the return of one of my favourite semi-regular guests, our very own Josh. This episode is a tie-in with his last essay, and features the two of us chatting about Species (1995), perhaps the very definition of a movie that is really interesting despite being pretty bad. Josh's redemptive reading is fascinating, and we also ponder such imponderables as why people like Ben Kingsley and Forest Whitaker agreed to be in it, why cars explode when they crash in movies, and why this film goes out of its way to feature a scene where Natasha Henstridge stares bemusedly at a stuffed fox. Plus there are the usual digressions. H. R. Giger, dinosaurs, Captain Kirk, Avital Ronell, etc.
Download the episode here. Beware spoilers and triggers.
Also, here are some links to things we mention:
Here is the Vimeo video comparing Species to David Lynch's Mulholland Drive.
And here's the (excellent) article about how and why Kirk is misremembered, by Erin Horáková at Strange Horizons.
1995 was a major turning point in my association with pop culture. It was the year my family first got satellite TV, and while this meant I finally had access to television besides three channels of varying degrees of snow for the first time ever, it also meant the end of my association with Star Trek for five years.
I've of course told this story a lot, but it bears repeating one more time. In the 80s and early 90s, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had an unusual direct-to-syndication deal, whereby they would be included as first-run series as part of a syndication package local affiliates of the major national networks could bid on to fill gaps in their programming schedule, which would otherwise include stuff like game shows or reruns of popular series from past decades. For those outside of the US, in this country our national networks have local regional partners for every municipal area, and while they all get the network's primetime shows, stuff like local news and weather will be different station to station. Back in those days the syndicated shows were different too, which could lead to ...
POTAGE: A thick soup, and a rather striking shift in the heartiness of courses that would probably destabilize a meal coming before egg and oyster courses. In this case, it flags the fact that this is an episode concerned entirely with the larger arc as opposed to with a killer-of-the-week.
WILL GRAHAM: I like you as a buffer. I also like the way you rattle Jack. He respects you too much to yell at you no matter how much he wants to.
ALANA BLOOM: And I take advantage of that.
For all the problems with her character (see next note), Alana is quickly established as intelligent and competent. But even here there’s a certain drabness to her effectiveness, which stems at best from authorial fiat and at worst because he’s unwilling to yell at a woman. And given Jack’s relationships with other female characters, at worst is more likely. As for Alanna taking advantage, well, it’s tough to identify when she does this as opposed to either going along with Jack or protesting ineffectually.
ALANA BLOOM: Brought you some clothes. Thought a change would feel good. I guessed your size. Anything you don’t want keep the tags on. I’ll return ...
Just a heads up to everyone in case you're just sort of sitting there going "oh, the Patreon always hits whatever goal Phil sets," we're currently only $1 over the threshold where I'll be reviewing the next season of Doctor Who. And that's because someone upped their pledge from $1 to $9 to ensure it would happen. Basically, what that means is that if anyone's payment doesn't go through at the end of the month, reviews will stop. Meanwhile, We're a whopping $19 away from me doing podcasts for every episode, which is starting to look like it probably won't. So this is a post, a week before the series starts, where I conspicuously link the Patreon in the hopes that you'll go contribute.
I know that the world is awful and there are better things to spend money on than this site. And I'm honestly OK with not doing podcasts, or hell, not doing reviews. The idea of watching Moffat's last season with the same intellectual privacy I watched his first has a real appeal. Equally, the podcasts were a blast last year and it just wouldn't ...
No proper post today, sadly. Too busy. There is some more stuff in the pipeline, and it's not all about Rogue One. But for today you'll have to be content with a round-up of recent podcasts of mine.
Firstly, I was recently a guest (again) on the excellent They Must Be Destroyed on Sight! movie podcast, joining Lee and Daniel to talk about the Coen Brothers' 1996 masterpiece Fargo. Check that out here.
(You may recall I wrote something about Fargo once upon a time, that can be found here.)
Also, there's Shabcast 30. I gave this a rather desultory write-up when I posted it last week, because I was feeling cheeky. And, it being a little unusual, I wanted listeners to encounter it without any expectations. But it's actually a fun episode, if very, very long. Myself, Kit, and Daniel (with a brief guest appearance by James) discuss Series 1 and the Ninth Doctor... with various detours along the way... while in various stages of ...
If you enjoy seeing me talk about video games, might I direct you to my new YouTube Channel, where I hope to do a great deal more of that in the near future? I also now have a Patreon of my own to go along with that, so should you choose to support me in any way I will be most gracious.
We've talked at length about the odd role the PC plays in the history of the video game medium in this project before. In brief, my argument goes something like this: Despite the fact the first widely available interactive electronic games were made as programming experiments for personal computers, they're not, broadly speaking, “video games” in the way I personally conceive of them. There are two discrete traditions that make up what we call “video games” today, and a lot of the tension in video game culture probably stems ultimately from this: One comes from those early PC programming experiments and is largely European in origin, stemming from what is called bricolage couture in French. A branch of this took root in the United States where it syncretized with the liberalism-inspired New Age and Hippie movements ...
We're currently $11 shy of Doctor Who Season Ten reviews on Patreon, and $31 shy of podcasts. It's probably not quite that bad, as there are some declined pledges from March that will hopefully straighten out, but if these are things you want, please support the site by backing it on Patreon.
AMUSE-BOUCHE: Literally “mouth amuser,” its function is much the same as an apéritif, but it is a bite-sized food item and thus more substantial, in much the same way that this episode, liberated from the amount of setup and exposition that “Apéritif” had to do, gets to be. A stuffed mushroom cap would be an entirely appropriate choice of amuse-bouche.
The tiered concrete at which his students sit give the sense of Will having retreated back into the bone arena of his skull.
The show’s distinctive establishing shots are as important as its richly saturated color palette in creating its Chesapeake Gothic atmosphere. The time lapse establishing shots, with clouds whizzing overhead, frame what happens as taking place outside of time, in a fractured dreamscape. Fractured time is a recurring motif in the show, where it serves to indicate the blurring of internal and external landscapes. Here ...