Oxygen Review

A strange sort of episode from the perspective of what you might think of as the Eruditorum Press aesthetic. On the one hand, an episode in which the Doctor literally brings down capitalism; on the other, the most “gun” story since Resurrection of the Daleks. At the end of the day, my personal taste has always run a bit more “gun” than my ideological taste, so I’m pretty on-board with this, although I’m sure the paragraph that starts “but equally” will end up being interesting.

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Mathieson writing this. For one thing, he’s proven himself to be quite good at writing gun. Never in quite so pure and frockless a way as here, but his Series 8 scripts’ reputation rests in part on the fact that they appealed to a particular type of traditionalist fan, and this is hitting many of the same notes. For another thing, he’s very good at developing fairly complex concepts. There’s an awful lot going on in this script, but Mathieson has an extremely deft touch in figuring out how much to develop and explain things. With both the voice controls and the fact that Bill’s suit doesn’t work like ...

Shabcast 32 (Chatting about free speech with Daniel)

Helloesville, my little chickadees, have a 32nd Shabcast.  Why not? 

I'm joined by the ubiquitous Daniel Harper to talk about freedom of speech, its limits, its abuses, what it means to different people, etc.

This episode comes in at a comparatively brief 2hrs 20mins. 

Download here.


Eruditorum Presscast: Knock Knock

Oh, yeah, I should probably announce this here instead of just uploading the file, huh? Anyway, our podcast on Knock Knock, unexpectedly featuring Seth Aaron Hershman instead of Kevin Burns, is now available for your listening pleasure. Or displeasure. Get it here.

Myriad Universes: Ill Wind Part One

A sense of vastness and cosmic wonder. One almost expects a haunting synthesizer remix of “Space...The Final Frontier” to play over this resplendent scene of the Great Interstellar Dark. But instead, it's a caption box reciting John Masefield's “Sea-Fever”. Slightly stilted and hokey, but perhaps evocative in its own way.

A comforting sight, as the starship Enterprise slowly materializes for us out of the night, just as we remember. And alongside it another ship, resembling a giant dragonfly with weblike lattice wing-sails on either side.

On the Enterprise bridge, Captain Picard exposits to us that the crew has been assigned to serve as referee and security for the eighth leg of the Centauris' Cup solar sailing yacht race around GC 2006. Will and Deanna tell us about how solar sail craft were once the workhorses of the cargo merchant trade, but are only used as pleasure craft now. Deanna remarks on the romance of it all, but Data doesn't understand why anyone would want to willingly pilot a “fragile and technologically primitive” ship. Captain Picard explains the appeal lies in the subtle way solar sail ships handle, the prospect of friendly competition with other enthusiasts in ...

The Proverbs of Hell 7/39: Sorbet

SORBET: A frozen dessert made of sweetened, flavored water. In this case, it seems meant to suggest a palate cleanser, resetting the meal after the extremes of “Entrée.”

WILL GRAHAM: I use the term Sounders because it refers to a small group of pigs. That’s how he sees his victims. Not as people, not as prey. Pigs.

The particulars of what it means to see people as pigs is enormously vexed, and I can’t not gesture at my “Capitalist Pig” series of essays, the first two of which are focused specifically on this. Broadly, though, pigs are second only to monkeys as animals that symbolically reflect our own humanity back on us. They are also intimately connected with food - their two basic utilities to a culture are either as garbage disposal or as an exceedingly efficient food source. Much like the pig itself, every part of this dense nexus of meaning is used in the construction of the underlying metaphor here.

WILL GRAHAM: True to his established pattern, the Chesapeake Ripper has remained consistently theatrical.

“Theatrical” is an interesting description here, given that Hannibal’s medium is the fixed artistic tableau, as opposed to the visceral immediacy of live interaction ...

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 ...

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