Viewing posts tagged outside the government

Outside the Government Final: The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot

Given that The Day of the Doctor was massively successful and immediately catapulted to the top of the “best Doctor Who stories ever” list, it is perhaps no small thing that it was not actually the most beloved piece of the fiftieth anniversary. That honor, of course, goes to the spectacle of Steven Moffat visibly wishing he was sitting in the chair from Terror of the Autons during the botched satellite link-up with One Direction during the BBC Three “afterparty.” But second to the single most sublime moment of television that Steven Moffat has ever provided the world was Peter Davison’s The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot

It is worth stating, up front, that this is a genuinely sweet and delightful piece of television. It is routinely hilarious, from the brilliant use of the Shada clip to cover Tom Baker’s lack of involvement to the Peter Jackson/Ian McKellen cameo to Sylvester McCoy’s beautiful delivery of “I’d like to go home now” to Steven Moffat playing with action figures in his office to… I mean, this paragraph could go on for quite a bit, couldn’t it? This is a joyous thing chock full of charming ...

Outside the Government 20: Wizards vs Aliens

One of my favorite moments in About Time, a book series I don’t get to talk about much anymore having long since gotten ahead of them, is in its critique of The Sensorites, a story that is wrongly, if understandably, unloved. Miles and Wood open by saying, “Opinion is divided over this: the common reaction is ‘why?’, but the correct answer is ‘awww… bless’.” Which pretty much sums up not only The Sensorites but Wizards vs Aliens, a strong contender for the single most heartwarming origin story of any television series ever.

Following the death of Lis Sladen, Russell T Davies didn’t want the Sarah Jane Adventures production team to be out of work. He also didn’t want the BBC to abandon production of children’s drama. And so he came up with a suitably high concept series that he could oversee from a distance (much as he had Sarah Jane Adventures), this time while caring for his partner, whose diagnosis with a brain tumor led to Davies’s abandonment of his “break out in America” plan. 

It is, to be fair, a good premise. The start of the first episode, which begins with a standard ...

Outside the Government: The Reichenbach Fall

It’s January 15th, 2012. Jessie J is at number one with “Domino,” with Flo Rida, Coldpay, David Guetta, , and Rizzle Kicks also charting. In news, the Scottish government announces that the independence referendum it’s been promised will go forward in 2014, and William Daley steps down as White House Chief of Staff. 

And on television, Sherlock finishes up its second season. To those paying attention to such things as writers, this looked ominous in one key regard, in that it seemed a mirror of the one outright dud in the first season of Sherlock - the one written by Steve Thompson and not directed by McGuigan. Thompson’s oeuvre at this point, at least in terms of things Doctor Who fans looked at, consisted of The Blind Banker and Curse of the Black Spot. To give him the big epic finale seemed an exercise in madness. And yet the result was the peak of Sherlock’s cultural capital - an iconic cliffhanger that casually owned popular culture for a while in its wake, and again in the lead-up to its resolution. It’s difficult to overemphasize how big this episode was. It may have been the lowest rated ...

Outside the Government: The Hounds of Baskerville

It’s January 8th, 2012. Flo Rida is at number one with “Good Feeling,” wiht Coldplay, Jessie J, Rihanna, and Raio Cruz also charting. In news, Gary Dobson and David Norris were finally convicted of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and Michelle Bachman dropped out of the Presidential race following Rick Santorum’s win (by a stunningly small 34-vote margin) in the Iowa Caucuses. 

While on television it’s The Hounds of Baskerville, an adaptation of what is arguably the most famous Sherlock Holmes story ever. This speaks to the way in which the confidence shown by Scandal in Belgravia was, broadly speaking, reflected in every aspect of Sherlock’s second season. From the start, Moffat and Gatiss announced the grandeur of their plans, with the still memorable trio of one-word teases: Woman, Hound, Fall. Immediately the three stories being used snapped into place, and nobody made any excuses - the plan was clearly to tackle the three most iconic Sherlock Holmes stories not to be Study in Scarlet

In hindsight, thinking about it, this was always going to be the tricky one. “Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Final Problem” are both massive stories in part because they ...

Outside the Government: A Scandal in Belgravia

It’s January 1st, 2012. Coldplay are at nuber one with “Paradise,” with Flo Rida, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran, and LMFAO also charting. Since Christmas, Samo aand Tokelau switched sides of the International Date Line, and Harry Burkhart committed two million dollars worth of damage in an arson spree in Los Angeles. 

While on television, Sherlock returns with A Scandal in Belgravia. This is, quite simply, a phenomenal piece of television. It belongs on lists alongside The West Wing’s “Two Cathedrals” and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “The Body.” It’s smart and ambitious, and everything it tries comes off nearly perfectly. It calmly and definitively sums up what this take on Sherlock Holmes can do, and why it’s valuable and interesting - a marvelous case of a show being its own best advertising. Even more than its barnstorming premiere, this is an episode you can show people to hook them on the show. 

With so much talent on display here, it seems silly to credit it all to Moffat. But in the end, this episode works because its script provides such a strong foundation. First and foremost, A Scandal in Belgravia consists of Moffat luxuriating in the ...

Outside the Government: The Man Who Never Was

It’s October 17th, 2011. Rihanna is still stuck in a hopeless place. Maroon 5, Christina Perri, LMFAO, and One Direction also chart. In news, Liam Fox resigns as defense secretary, Occupy London starts up outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Israel and Hamas engage in a prisoner swap at a ratio of roughly 1027:1. 

While on television, it’s the end of The Sarah Jane Adventures with The Man Who Never Was. Let’s start by reminding ourselves what The Sarah Jane Adventures was. Not just what it strove to be - an intergenerational celebration of Doctor Who’s effect on children. But what it was, which is to say, a consistently well-made piece of children’s drama that was watchable and enjoyable by adults. This used to be one of the UK’s great cultural exports. Now television is essentially devoid of any shows comparable to The Sarah Jane Adventures that aren’t animated, and most of the animated ones aren’t British. It’s a show that boldly held the line on an important sort of television that’s tragically faded from popularity, and its existence and the effort put into making it good was ...

Outside the Government: The Curse of Clyde Langer

It’s October 10th, 2011. Rihanna is at number one with “We Found Love,” a song whose video, consisting of shots of Belfast, provides a perhaps unintentional but amusing sense of what is meant by “a hopeless place.” One Direction, LMFAO, Dappy, and the Goo Goo Dolls also chart, the latter, still mysteriously, with “Iris.” In news, Paul McCartney gets married again, Steve Jobs dies, and mutterings begin that Occupy Wall Street will be moved out of Zuccotti Park so it can be “cleaned.” 

While on television, The Curse of Clyde Langer, Phil Ford’s final script for The Sarah Jane Adventures. Phil Ford is an odd duck. His two best scripts are co-authored - The Waters of Mars before this and Into the Dalek after. His Torchwood script is quite good, and arguably the highlight of a weak season. His Sarah Jane Adventures stories range from the quite solid to the Curate’s eggs. In many ways, he epitomizes The Sarah Jane Adventures, in that he is a writer one wishes was slightly better than he is, but who could be a lot worse. Certainly, as the primary writer of the series, he kept it at the basically ...

Outside the Government: Sky

It’s October 3rd, 2011. Sak Noel is at number one with “Loca People,” with One Direction, Goo Goo Dolls, and Dappy also charting. There is presumably some reason why the Goo Goo Dolls are charting with “Iris,” a years old song at this point, but I certainly don’t know it off the top of my head. In news, really basically nothing has happened in the two days that have passed since The Wedding of River Song. There’s a factory fire in Surrey, and Amanda Knox’s conviction is overturned. And the day the second episode of this airs, there’s a car bombing in Mogadishu. 

While on television, The Sarah Jane Adventures returns with Sky. There is, of course, something of an dilemma here in terms of how to approach this final season of The Sarah Jane Adventures. On the one hand, they are a clear memorial to Lis Sladen - a run of episodes that can only be taken in the context of her death. On the other, they were never meant to be this. They’re just the first half of Season Five, shot alongside Season Four in the expectation that everyone would be ...

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