Knock Knock Review

I’ve said before that my basic standard for Doctor Who at this point is “show me something I haven’t seen before.” It doesn’t have to be huge. Punch a racist, fail to explore some interesting ideas about indigenous species, it’s fine. I just want some sense of freshness and innovation. By that standard, then, Knock Knock is a complete and utter bust. Which feels at least slightly unfair, since it’s a perfectly well-made and (mostly) well-written episode, but if I wanted drab competency without even a trace of original thought I’d watch a Chris Chibnall show.

Actually, the snark about Chibnall is slightly unfair, because the culprit in Knock Knock’s abject blandness is pretty obvious: this is 100% down to the malign influence of Blink. And not just in the sense that it’s literally the same house, but in the fact that it’s a house in the first place. Once upon a time, when Doctor Who wanted to be scary it would, you know, do some scary stuff. Monsters stalking the Blitz. Weird Satanic horror on an alien world. Evil tourist busses. Or, frankly, any number of scary ideas from the classic series, only a handful of which ...

The Proverbs of Hell 6/39: Entrée

ENTRÉE: With the episode titles in French, this does not carry the English meaning of “main course” per se, but rather refers to a transitional course between fish and meat dishes. In truth the meaning is double, flagging this episode’s status as a transitional one in the season and its status as the first one since “Aperitif” to be focused entirely on the arc plot.

“Entrée” is long on Silence of the Lambs parallels, although unlike with elements drawn from Red Dragon, the show does not actually have the rights to the book and so can’t take and repurpose dialogue per se. Instead it tinkers with the iconography (to the point of exactly matching the uniform designs of the film), doing things akin to how Budish interpolated Francis Dolarhyde. To wit, Gideon’s ploy here closely mirrors Hannibal’s escape at the end of Silence of the Lambs.

WILL GRAHAM: I’m always a little nervous going into one of these places. Afraid they’ll never let me out again.

JACK CRAWFORD: Don’t worry. I’m not going to leave you here.

WILL GRAHAM: Not today.

Gee, I wonder what the end of season twist is going to be?

DR. CHILTON: Ah, yes. That thing ...

Wrong With Authority, Ep 4 (The Wolf of Wall Street & The Big Short)

Hello, just a heads up from me today about the existence of the fourth episode of Wrong With Authority, the podcast about movies about history, hosted (in turns) by myself, Kit Power, James Murphy, and Daniel Harper.

As I say, episode 4 is up, and you can download both parts of it here and here, or go to the blog page, here.

This episode is Kit's, and its about The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short.  It's so long it had to be split into two.  This happened not only because these movies gave us a lot to talk about but because we had recurrent recording problems, which forced us to record in three blocks, which ironically meant we ended up with more content that we would've done otherwise.

As much as it was a nightmare to make, especially for Kit, I think we ended up with something to be proud of (again, especially Kit).

We are considering the future shape of WWA, but we also feel that the kinds of people who want to listen to the four of us talk about this stuff probably

a) want us to go the whole ...

Eruditorum Presscast

The Eruditorum Presscast for Thin Ice, featuring Caitlin Smith of the delightful 101 Claras to See project, is now available for your listening pleasure. Get that here.

You may also have noticed my failure to put up a Hannibal post on Tuesday. Whoops. Let's try Saturday for that.

Flight Simulator: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Crossroads of Time (SEGA Genesis, Super NES)

While both official and unofficial video games based on Star Trek: The Next Generation were quick to release upon or soon after the show's premier in 1987 and have been in no short supply over the years (my inability to play almost all of them when they were current notwithstanding), that wasn't the case for sister show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It took a good two and half years after “Emissary” before Commander Sisko and Co. started getting representations in video game form, and when it finally happened it happened a weird way.

Without rehashing the whole history of the video game medium again, it's perhaps unsurprising that the earliest Star Trek: The Next Generation video games were fanmade or otherwise small-scale affairs for DOS and similar personal computers of the mid-to-late 1980s. The first proper “mainstream” Next Generation game I was aware of (at least, the first on a video game console) didn't land until 1993 on the Game Boy. There is a very good reason for this, of course: It wasn't until 1993 that it was eminently clear Star Trek: The Next Generation was a pop culture juggernaut that deserved more recognition ...

Thin Ice Review

My god Sarah Dollard is good. I’ve said before that a really important aspect of the Capaldi era is the way that Moffat has found a new generation of writers. And while I’ll be gutted if Mathieson or Harness don’t make the jump to the Chibnall era, it’s increasingly Dollard who’s my real canary in the coal mine for the Chibnall era. If she’s on the list of writers, I’ll breathe a little easier. If she’s not, well, it suddenly becomes a lot harder to muster any optimism. This was fantastic - the first story to rise to the self-evidently ludicrous task of writing post-Brexit/post-Trump Doctor Who.

Where to start, I suppose, is with the place Smile fell most frustratingly short: the characterization of Bill. Thin Ice was shot in the next production block after Smile, so would have had virtually as little to go on with the character as Cottrell-Boyce did. And yet in her hands Bill feels like a character. Dollard’s basic approach to this is at once obvious and effective: she builds out around the fact that Bill is black. Obviously there’s a comparison to The Shakespeare Code to be made here, right down to the major ...

The Anti-Potter, Part 2: Jeremy Corbyn and the Billionaire's Authorthority

Should Jeremy Corbyn somehow manage to win the United Kingdom’s General Election on 8th June, J. K. Rowling will be forced to take a principled stand against his rule.  Which will presumably mean that she’ll go and sulk in a tent for several months.  After all, she’s been vocal, even vociferous, in her opposition to his leadership of the Labour Party since before it started.

Well… it might not be a tent.  She’s a billionaire, remember.  This is something that people seem to forget, at least in effect.  But I imagine sulking would form a large part of it, even if it took place in very comfortable surroundings.  And snarking on Twitter.  That would be a big part of it too.  She’s done a lot of that about Corbyn already.  She has tweeted and retweeted truckloads of declarations of his unelectability, his incompetence, etc.  She piled on in the fake ‘Labour anti-semitism’ row, in which a handful of incidents - ranging from the piffling to the wantonly misconstrued to the fabricated - were talked up by the media into the chimera of a Labour Party stuffed with raging Jew-haters, with Corbyn as either Anti-Semite-in-Chief (Ken Livingstone presumably being his deputy) or as ...

Eruditorum Presscast: Smile

Another Thursday, another Eruditorum Presscast, this time with Daniel Harper and I talking about Smile, which neither of us disliked particularly, and which both of us found loads to complain about.

If that sounds fun, listen here. If that doesn't sound fun, LISTEN ANYWAY OR WE'LL TURN YOU TO FERTILIZER.

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