Viewing posts tagged mark gatiss

Reviewing Doctor Who Episodes Without Having Watched Them: 'Robots of Sherwood'

I saw 'Deep Breath' and 'Into the Dalek'.  Then I stopped watching Series 8.  Welcome to the first in a new series of posts in which I will be revewing the rest of Series 8 without having watched it.


Mark Gatiss, that arch-trickster of modern Doctor Who, has done it again.  In 'Robots of Sherwood' he has managed to dupe everyone into thinking he is doing nothing more than simply paying homage to the classic series, while actually flying something far more profound under the fan radar.  Yes, he has armies of robotic Merry Men stalking around Sherwood Forest, their eyes glowing red, holding out their hands and saying "Kill the humans" in calm voices, but that's where the similarities to 'Robots of Death' end.  For a start, these robotic outlaws are the good guys, cleansing the greenwood of the forces of law and order.

The triumvirate of villains in this episode - the Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy de Gisbourne and King John - represent the power of the Norman state, and Robin Hood is a symbol of Saxon resistance.  It's fitting that they should use a CGI Patrick Troughton to play Robin ...

Playing with Dolls

UPDATE, 25/09/12:  If you read this post, please read on through the comments too.  Some astute readers used the comments section to set me straight on some issues both of fact and interpretation.  As a result, my attitude towards 'Night Terrors' is now considerably more negative than my initial reaction (which you can read in the main review below).  In fairness to myself, I do spend most of the piece saying what I don't like about 'Night Terrors', including identifying some of what I call the "latent hostility" towards working-class people... but I failed to notice the wider context of the episode and so also the scale of the problem.  I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong (of course, I do really) but I hate that I blogged before giving myself sufficient time to think.  


Okay, my foolhardy project of catching up with all the Doctor Who I've not seen in order to re-synch with the new stuff (and hopefully provide myself with blogging material) continues.

Last night I finally watched 'Night Terrors'. Much to my astonishment, I didn't absolutely hate it. I mean, it wasn't particularly good... but it wasn ...

Victory of the Icon 3

I have a massive, endlessly-lengthening list of books, old and new, that I want to get around to reading.  Donny Gluckstein's new book A People's History of the Second World War just went straight in near the top of the list.

Gluckstein's argument seems to be that WWII was actually two wars, fought in parallel.  One was an imperialist squabble between established empires and up-and-coming imperialist nations that were set to clash with them.  Britain, France, Russia and America (which was already a continental empire and was ready to expand globally) found themselves violently competing for hegemony with Germany, Italy and Japan.  Running beneath this conflict there was a people's war against fascism (the form taken by the new empires) underpinned by dreams of freedom and democracy.  The imperialists running the first war knew that had to appeal to the priorities of the people fighting the second war in order to enlist their support, hence the democratic rhetoric.

I mention this here because Gluckstein has done an interview for New Left Project, in which he has some things to say about Winston Churchill, the subject of my irregular 'Victory of the ...

The Surplus Population

It's getting near Christmas.  Christmas means Dickens.  Doctor Who has 'done' Dickens twice in recent years... on both occasions, the show has travestied Dickens' most famous Christmas story A Christmas Carol.  Last year we were given that Moffat-penned obscenity that shared its title.  He transmuted the tale into a gleefully cynical celebration of hubris, casual sexism, complacency and hypocrisy.  But Moffat was following a trail already blazed.

Back in 2005, Mark Gatiss riffed on the same story (which is about a selfish man who is made to realise that he owes the world a debt, only to find himself transformed by that knowledge) and turned it into a parable about how helping the apparently needy is dangerous folly stemming from thoughtless guilt... because the apparently needy (even 'foreign' refugees, running from the devastating effects of a war they didn't start) will probably want to swamp you and steal your world.

Once I'd realised (with help from others more immediately perceptive than myself) what 'The Unquiet Dead' was actually about, I became very critical of it.  However... as time passes... I begin to think I've been overly critical of Gatiss.  Perhaps even a tad unfair to ...

Childhood's End

Shabgraff does Series 1 of the revival.  It's my blather from Timelash II, plus a little new stuff.  (I may do something separate about 'The End of the World' at some point.)  This is about a series which works because its about a young woman growing up.  I feel like I've grown up too, in a sense, since 2005... which is why my opinions about Series 1 have drastically changed since first viewing.



Rose

I have never been able to entirely make up my mind about this.

The characterisation is glib, sneering at ditzy blonde 'chavvy' people who say silly things about making legal claims and flirt with anything in sight, etc (admittedly, this improves later in the series)... not to mention having a LAD character who is OBSESSED WITH FOOTBALL (as are all men, obviously), probably looks at porn on the internet and is stupid (this doesn't improve ever... though, in fairness to RTD's writing, it might've helped if they'd cast somebody who could act, even just a little bit).

There are things about it that are puzzlingly wrong... just off somehow... like the way Rose calls for a ...

Victory of the Icon

In the course of preparing myself [to play Churchill in a biopic]… I realized afresh that I hate Churchill and all of his kind. I hate them virulently. They have stalked down the corridors of endless power all through history…. What man of sanity would say on hearing of the atrocities committed by the Japanese against British and Anzac prisoners of war, ‘We shall wipe them out, every one of them, men, women, and children. There shall not be a Japanese left on the face of the earth’? Such simple-minded cravings for revenge leave me with a horrified but reluctant awe for such single-minded and merciless ferocity.

- Richard Burton. (He got banned from the BBC for writing that. Which must’ve really burned him as he lounged around in Hollywood with Elisabeth Taylor’s head in his lap.)


In ‘Victory of the Daleks’ by Mark Gatiss, Winston Churchill is depicted as a wiley and cantankerous old fox, as a twinkly-eyed yet determined fighter against the Nazi menace, as a moral force, as an impish and roguish but unequivocally good man. This is very much the mainstream view of Churchill, in both ‘pop culture’ and in much of the trash that ...

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