At long last, there’s a new volume of About Time. For those who are unaware, About Time is the gold standard of comprehensive studies of Doctor Who - a towering project whose Alan Moore it has been my pleasure and privilege to serve as Grant Morrison to. This latest volume covers from The Runaway Bride through Voyage of the Damned, with stops off for “Time Crash” and The Infinite Quest. The short form is that it's another great entry in a great series that's absolutely worth buying if you're the sort of person who buys massive and sprawling reference boks on Doctor Who. You can get it on Amazon right here, or on Amazon UK here. I recommend it highly.
Now for the meaty bits. I want to start with the kind of obvious red flag the book throws up, which is the fact that the entire book is covering just one year of Doctor Who. For one thing, this incremental progress is frustrating given that the book’s been a long time coming - Volume 7 was four years ago. For another, at 350 pages this means that About Time is spending more time on the Martha ...
This is the story they used to tell in the lands of Ordon.
A long time ago...
Many generations passed, before these lands were called Hyrule, its spirits sang a different song. The first people to land on these shores were the People of the Art, and thunder and lighting heralded their arrival as they rode their storm-ships down the sky into the barrows and fields. The People were very skilled sorcerers and oracles, and as they wove song-lines across the mythic landscape it was said The Art must have been part of the very fabric of their being. And when they spoke, their voices and those of the spirits were one.
MIZUMONO: Dessert. Unlike savoureux, mizumono is in fact sweet, suggesting that the show has allied itself with Hannibal’s perspective as opposed to Will’s.
The shooting script called for a flash forward of Will screaming in pain from the end. Instead the episode begins with a moment of quiet ritual, with Hannibal writing out, in exquisite calligraphy, an invitation to Jack, setting their eventual confrontation as a piece of theater - a staged event the shape of which is defined by formal considerations of etiquette.
The opening sequence, which cuts between both Hannibal and Jack talking to Will and enjoining him to their side in the coming face-off. This is in some regards an odd framing for the episode, in that Will is never really given the chance to take a side, arriving on the scene after Jack and Alanna have already been dispatched. But it’s such a weird and uncanny visual that one is inclined to lay the blame on the denouement for not paying off its setup than on the setup. (Even more uncanny is the reaction shot to this, a split-screen Will.)
The otherwise unmotivated reappearance of Garret Jacob Hobbs - who seems at this point slightly dated in the ...
If you’d like to hear me read a Weird tale, click here and you’ll be able to download my reading of Edward Lucas White’s ‘Lukundoo’. See below for some background.
‘Lukundoo’, though originally written in 1907, wasn’t published until 1925, when it was accepted by Weird Tales. A very appropriate place for it to first erupt.
A best-selling author of historical novels in his day, the writer of ‘Lukundoo’, Edward Lucas White, started out writing uncanny stories. He is largely forgotten now - except for ‘Lukundoo’, the finest of those uncanny stories, and a classic of Weird fiction. And even ‘Lukundoo’ increasingly fades from our cultural memory. It was once a frequently anthologised tale, and thus widely read. But the ghost story anthologies which kept it alive – once a crucial rite in the childhoods and youths of many people – have long been in decline.
It will be a shame if ‘Lukundoo’ vanished into the interior. It needs to be resurrected and theorised in the same way that many of Lovecraft’s tales have been. It stands the comparison. But it should also be better known by the general reader. It is a very good myth to think with – ...
TOME-WAN: A miso or vegetable soup with rice. This signifies nothing more than the approaching end of the meal.
WILL GRAHAM: Can you explain my actions? Posit my intentions? What would be your theory of my mind?
HANNIBAL: I have an understanding of your state of mind. You understand mine. We're just alike. This gives you the capacity to deceive me, and be deceived by me.
WILL GRAHAM: I’m not deceiving you, Dr. Lecter. I'm just pointing out the snare around your neck. What you do about it is entirely up to you.
HANNIBAL: You put the snare around my neck.
This is going appreciably differently from Will and Hannibal’s previous efforts to get people to murder the other for them. Hannibal’s first line is the closest thing to an explanation - at this point they are so enmeshed in one another’s psyches that trying to kill each other is, as Steven Moffat would put it, their flirting. Will, however, misses the real takeaway, which is Hannibal’s note that he has the capacity to deceive him. Spoilers: this is going to go badly for Will. (Admittedly that spoiler is basically just always true.)
HANNIBAL: Why did you tell Mason ...
While out walking, Garfield comes across a hill. There's a sign planted next to the hill, indicating that Paradise can be found at the top.
This hill is different from the ones we normally see in Garfield; rounded moguls upon which the cat will lay back and look up at the clouds on a warm summer day. The prominence appears quite challenging even for a seasoned climber, which is probably part of the reason Garfield has the reaction he does upon seeing it. The general design indicates less a typical Garfield hill and more a location that showed up in the strip a few times in the earlier part of the decade: A jagged, rocky mountain whose summit we cannot see from the vantage point of the strip, but upon which dwells a Wise Man whom Jon tells us “has a long beard” and “says grand things about life”. To further the continuity link, one Wise Man strip features a sign that literally says “Wise Man” partway up the mountain, a kind of spiritual road sign or mile marker, with an arrow helpfully pointing to the summit, much as the sign for “Paradise” does here.
We can read the ...
KŌ NO MONO: An assortment of pickled vegetables. Janice Poon suggests that this signals the approaching denouement, and also makes a nice metaphor about the vegetables sharpening the senses, which is what Alanna needs. The reality is that the second season is not so much going off the rails as plummeting down the gorge, watching mournfully as the rails disappear into the sky.
The script calls this the Wildigo, which is the best part of the entire conceit. That a silly portmanteau is the best part speaks to the intense and pointless violence being done to the show’s narrative principles here. “Kō No Mono” is primarily structured around a cheap and theatrical bit of audience deception, maintaining the illusion that Will killed Freddie. This is already cheap - a way to manufacture drama out of structure when you obviously don’t have it in your actual character work. This is a common way for formally inventive storytelling to run aground - when the formal complexity becomes a way of making a story work in the first place instead of working better. Mostly Hannibal avoids it, not least because it’s got the core of the Harris books, which clearly and demonstrably do work dramatically ...