The Return of Doctor Mysterio Unreview

Another Christmas and after a year without Doctor Who, we have another Christmas special. 2016 was most certainly not the year of the Doctor.

The previous Christmas special was…well, I enjoyed it. It was Christmassy (kinda). This year, not so Christmassy. It felt much more like a normal episode of the show. Which is a good thing (again…kinda).

Christmas Eve, 1992, and the Twelfth Doctor has decided to bungee jump off the side of an apartment block. Spider-Man he ain’t. He wakes up a little sick child who understandably is somewhat bemused to see a man swinging upside down outside his window.

The boy knows all about Stranger Danger (did they have that in 1992?) so he won’t allow the Doctor in unless his mother says he can. Do you think she says yes? Of course she does. Shades of Jurassic Park 2 here. Also shades of Home Alone 2 with a child in New York at Christmas in the 1990s…

The aforementioned boy, whose name is Grant, toddles off to tell his mother about the Doctor. Mommy says yes because she thinks the child is making things up and because the kid has clearly told her that Santa Claus wants to come in. Somewhat improbable given that this is New York, a city where robbers generally dress up as Santa to steal money…at least according to the straight-to-DVD movies that I have seen.

The Doctor, despite having a complicated thing on the rooftop to sort out, geeks out with Grant about how Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. “Crivens, add glasses and Supermon becomes a soft jessie reporter. Jings”, to which Grant is all, “Dude, I totally knew that.”

The Doctor, being a responsible adult, takes Grant up to the roof with him to see his machine. And yes, even as I wrote that, I thought that sentence seemed dodgy. Ahem. Clean minds, folks, clean minds.

This is not a machine that goes “ding”, this is a machine that looks like a Christmas tree. Wouldn’t be the first machine tree we have seen in Doctor Who. At least this one ain’t spinning around like Aunt Meg after too many eggnog beverages…

The machine, as I understand it, is meant to fix the paradoxes caused by the Weeping Angel debacle. Remember when Amy and Rory Williams bit the big one? This was the problem caused by The Angels Take Manhattan, which had the effect of not allowing the Doctor to visit New York because of timey-wimey issues causing the city to turn into a small rubber duck. Or something similar. Odd though how the First Doctor had no problem visiting New York in the 1960s…

The Doctor had set off a trap on the machine (Silly Doctor), that he had made, and this is why he was swinging around like a geriatric Spider-Man earlier. His Christmas is not off to a good start. But then, when is it ever? This never happened to David Tennant’s Doctor.

The Doctor enlists the help of the sickly Grant, as you do, but the boy has swallowed a gemstone needed for the timey-wimey-paradoxy machine. The Doctor’s Christmas is now going downhill rapidly. Grant’s Christmas may have just improved because the gem has given him superpowers!

Yes, you read that correctly. Not a joke. The gem grants wishes. Having swallowed it, the gem grants Grant’s wishes. Of being a superhero. Not of being made better which is why he swallowed it. The kid thought it was medicine.

The Doctor’s response? A mutter of “Ach, crivens!” And the warning to Grant to not use his superpowers, not even for cheap tricks. Yeah, like that is going to happen.

Before I carry on, make a note that this gem is a gem that grants wishes.

We flash forward to 2016, New York, and a press conference held by Harmony Shoals. You may remember a similar sounding Shoal of the Winter Harmony in the previous episode, The Husbands of River Song? Same guys, head-splitting brain monsters. Lovely.

Oh, yes, spoilers. Brain monsters. Not at all like the ones from the cartoon series Futurama. No sir. These ones have eyes and mouths and monthly subscriptions to the magazine What Brain. Totally different. Plus they can’t fly…probably.

Anyway, the press conference, yes! Reporters asking questions and all that. You know the drill. Blonde reporter asks a pertinent question, more or less fobbed off. A scene you’ve seen done before in a thousand TV shows and every Superman comic book. You know what will happen next, she’ll hide in the building until everyone has gone and then she will do some investigating, then a superhero will save her. This is not me calling out the show by saying it is cliched but that there are precedents.

So the plucky girl reporter, Lucy Fletcher, is playing hide-and-seek with Mr Brock (he being the owner of the business and the guy fobbing off reporters earlier) and Dr Sims of Harmony Shoals and she finds out that brain monsters are scooping out the normal boring brains of their workers so that they can be placed within human skull cavities. A certain non-webslinging Doctor is there too, eating a nice snack, investigating Harmony Shoals.

The Doctor isn’t alone though, he is accompanied by Nardole. Remember him? He too was in the last episode. All we need now is Greg Davies as Hydroflappyflax to make this episode a reunion. Nardole, if you’ll recall, was just a head at the end of that episode but he now has a body again. Which is good for him.

The brains kill off Mr Brock and snuff him out like a candle in the wind… They then repossess him unlike a candle in the wind. More like a squatter getting out of the wind.

Lucy and Nardole and the Doctor return to the room where the press conference was but Dr Sims has followed them there. Of course he already has a brain monster inside his Nyderesque noggin.

Sims whips out his gun but the Doctor has a plan. Turn their backs to him! Erm, as plans go this one is a bit sketchy but just think about it. Turning their backs upon someone with a gun is actually a great idea. Because who would believe he shot them in self-defence? “Officer, they walked towards me, um, backwards. So I protected myself fairly by shooting them in the, erm, back.”

They hear a tapping, not at the chamber door but at the window. “It is a flying man,” quoth the raven. And it is, it is a flying man. Hooray!

Does it sound like somebody tapping on a window to you? I wasn’t so convinced. Sounded a little fake to me. I know this is a mere quibble but still…

This window-tapper is the Ghost, a real superhero. The only superhero in a world of normal human beings, Zygon suckery doppelgangers and Donald Trump. A unique fellow this Ghost, which is proven when he shatters the nuclear-proof, asteroid-proof, toddler-proof windows.

“Oooh, nuclear-proof and asteroid-proof, very nice. Mind you, you need to fire the windowcleaners, just look at that smear.”

Everyone is surprised at this, the Doctor included, but none so much as Dr Sims who proceeds to shoot the heck out of the Ghost.

Three points about the Ghost:

1: The Ghost’s mask is similar to the one that Kyle Rayner wore as Green Lantern in the 1990s. Possibly a coincidence but if not it is a hell of an obscure reference.

2: The gravelly voice of the superhero is far too Batmanish. Especially coming from someone who looks like he should be on The Only Way is Essex or Baywatch.

3: He looks like a brunette Thal although some Whovian Greybeards may dispute this.

As I was saying, Dr Sims, or rather the alien brain beastie nestling inside his gulliver, pulls out a gun and starts pumping lead into our hero but, as with Tobias Vaughn, the bullets bounce off. Unlike Toby he doesn’t give out a maniacal chuckle. The ghost shrugs his shoulders and says, “Yeah, bullets. So what?” The Doctor whispers a quiet little “jings” from behind Nardole who is turn behind Lucy who is herself behind the sofa.

There is the usual posturing between the goodies and the bad guy which results in the Ghost flying off with Lucy. The Doctor and Nardole beat a hasty retreat.

The Ghost returns Lucy to her stylishly faux-bohemian apartment. There is a little bit of flirty stuff going on here but I guess you readers will want me to skip the yucky parts, right? As you wish. They arrange an interview sans yucky stuff.

Lucy enters her home. The Ghost enters her home too and undresses into his civilian gear. They don’t enter together. The Ghost is actually her billionaire boyfriend Bruce Wayne. Or her nanny Grant Gordon (whose name possibly refers to comic writer Alan Grant and that police chief that Batman frequently romances) or is it Gordon Grant? I could research it but I feel that I am right with this name. Knowing my luck, he’ll probably be called Dwayne Dibbley.

Grant is nannying Lucy’s baby. Or would be if the Doctor and Grant hadn’t got there first. The TARDIS is much faster than a speeding bullet. Supes eat your heart out. With a time machine, speed is relative.

But don’t think Grant is being neglectful by flying around when he should be looking after Lucy’s baby, oh no! He has a baby monitor and given that he can be back within seconds, no problem. Although it does raise the question: what if the Ghost is busy saving somebody when the baby cries? I can imagine him flying back, burping the baby and telling the victim to untie themselves as he looks after the kid.

The Doctor (And Nardole! Don’t forget Nardole!) and Nardole (thank you) track down the Ghost by looking for the weird alien energies which the gem, that Grant swallowed, emits. And yet he suffers no digestion problems…

Lucy, plucky girl reporter, returns and with he help of a squeaky googly-eyed Ken Dodd phallus called Mr Huffle, she gets him to reveal to her that alien brain monsters are planning on taking control of Earth’s most powerful leaders. The brain monsters were planning to transplant themselves into Donald Trump’s head but apparently they have a nut allergy.

Lucy is agasp, the Ken Dodd sex toy is not happy about it either. These aliens have a habit of invading skulls and planets and colonising them with more of their gooey chums, and all to the tune of Bob & Earl’s Harlem Shuffle so zero out of ten for evil but ten out of ten for musical taste.

Lucy leaves for her interview with the Ghost after making herself looking like a million dollars. No, not green and crinkly but super attractive.

The Doctor and Nardole, who no doubt will turn out to be some kind of secret bad-ass, track down the alien’s ship by tracing pizza delivery guys who have been sent up to give the brain monsters cheese-and-feline pizzas. This may sound improbable and you’d be right to think so. I was lying. The brain monsters ordered Chinese.

Our heroes, super in their own way, TARDIS themselves aboard the ship where they discover that the ship’s reactor is not looking too good. In fact it is about to explode. With the recollection of the Harmony Shoals building being nuclear-and-asteroid-proof, the Doctor twigs that Dr Sims and his evil brain cohorts plan on crashing the spaceship into New York. Their building would be intact and the city would be vaporised. The world leaders would then all hustle into other Harmony Shoals buildings in the mistaken assumption that Earth was being attacked and then brain squatting ahoy! Simples!

The spaceship is to crash at a certain time but the Doctor moves the schedule to now and the spaceship will splat into New York right now. Um, not sure this plan is any better than the brain monster’s plans. But you can’t judge a book by its cover even if the cover is covered with tigers, submarines, Voord and Peri in a bikini.

On Earth in pre-splat New York, Lucy is interviewing the Ghost.

“What is your favourite colour?”
“Blue.”
“What is your favourite animal?”
“Dogs.”
“If you were to be a superhero for the day, what superpower wou… Oh, sorry.”
“No worries.”
“How did you get your powers?”
“I was bitten by a radioactive ghost.”

This scintillating interview is interrupted when the alien brain monsters arrive to plant one of their number into the Ghost’s cranial apartment. Mr Huffle is murdered at this point when the Ghost accidentally sits on him in a bid to escape and then come back as his normal Grant self. Which probably makes more sense to Grant than it does to me. Go figure.

Grant receives a message from the Doctor via the ghost of Mr Huffle and reveals himself to all and sundry (Lucy and nonplussed Brain monsters) as the Ghost. Ta-dah! A tumbleweed drifts past.

Grant stops the spaceship from crashing just by holding it. Yeah, now that is a truly ta-dah moment, yeah?

To cut a long story short, the Doctor calls in UNIT, Torchwood and the Boy Scouts of America to sort out Harmony Shoals. Doctor Sims’ monster brain escapes in the head of one of the UNIT soldier boys and this is never picked up again in the series so make of that what you will. Moffat says, “To hell with closure, deal with it!”

Grant promises the Doctor that he will no longer use his powers. To which the Doctor, Lucy and Nardole give a hollow laugh. Yeah, right.

Lucy asks the Doctor why he is sad because apparently he has been sad throughout this episode. Sad-ish maybe. He doesn’t answer her. But Nardole does. He says, “Her name was River Song. She ate his last Rolo.”

Oh, Grant and Lucy also end up together romantically. So that is nice.

Question: the wish-granting gem grants wishes, right? Why doesn’t it grant Grant’s wish of making Lucy fall in love with him? Or maybe it does given that she does fall in love with him by the end of the story.

So what do I think of the episode?

Peter Capaldi is excellent as usual. Yes, I know I keep praising him but he really is pretty damn good. Faultless performance. Love him, love him, love him. I really do love him.

Justin Chatwin as Grant Gordon AKA The Ghost? He was alright. I liked how he approached the role as a cross between Christopher Reeve and that Maguire guy from the Spider-Man films. Not great but passable. but Logan Hoffman and Daniel Lorente steal the show as younger versions of Grant. This is just my opinion.

Charity Wakefield as Lucy Fletcher is less of a character than a loose amalgam of every version of Lois Lane you may have seen or read. This is not a bad thing but she needed to be fleshed out a little more. Performancewise excellent but she deserved better.

Adetomiwa Edun as Mr Brock was good but all too brief. But Aleksandar Jovanovic played Dr Sims brilliantly. He reminded me of Brent Spiner as Data in the way he actually convinced me that he was non-human. It is a pity that Sims (or was it Sim?) doesn’t make it out of the episode with his human body intact. Oh well…

So is The Return of Doctor Mysterio any good. Erm. Yeah. Kinda. Not as good as The Christmas Bride but no seasonal story has been, so it is all fine.

The beginning of The Return of Doctor Mysterio is a little slow but that is fine. I wouldn’t expect every episode to be crash-bang-wallop. It was a nice build-up, I thought. The beginning is the most Christmassy part of the story. As soon as it comes back to the modern-day, Christmas isn’t in sight. Or is it? No, I don’t think so. Hmmm.

The episode neatly plays with the superhero tropes. All within an hour. The Clark Kent/Superman/Lois Lane love triangle, the origin story, secret identity, and unmasking. The great thing about this is how it underplays all these themes so that they don’t interfere with the story too much.

So should you watch this? Yes, you should. Watch it. Watch it now!

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Posted in BekHobbes, doctorwho, fandom, memories, opinion, reallife, review, unreview, whovian, whovians | Leave a comment

O Green World

Sorrow is my name.

Melodramatic as that might seem, it is true enough.

I met a girl and lost a girl. No, that isn’t true. I haven’t lost her but I feel that I have. Distance and clusterfaffs being obstacles in the way.

But that isn’t the long and tall of it though. I am worried about next year. I am not sure what 2018 will bring but I suspect more misery, unhappiness and perhaps death.

At the end of every year, I expect death so that is possibly a write-off. I hope.

If I knew that I will still be alive by this time next year, I’d be fine. Or not fine. One of the two.

But I don’t. I can’t know. All I can do is go into the future blindfolded and hope that I am in one (living) piece by December 2018.

Hope is the only thing I have.

O green world,
 Don’t desert me now
 Bring me back to fallen town
 Where someone is still alive

 Fighting for something new in this
 When no one needs the heart of me and I’ll
 Get out somewhere other than me before…

 (than me before…)

 O green world
 Don’t deserve me now
 I’m made of you and you of me
 But where are we?
 Oh no

Gorillaz, O Green World

Posted in BekHobbes, confused, depression, estranged, existence, hope/despair, loss, love, opinion, reallife, sorrow, suicide | Leave a comment

Worlds of Pure Imagination

All computer monitors are windows to worlds of imagination where trolls have no bridges to hide behind, wars are fought with flame, and opinions are like the shredded cocoons of butterflies which flitter and flutter away…

The butterflies of opinion have odd existences. Some live for decades, most burst into blue flames for a single bright incandescent moment before turning into the desiccated flotsam and jetsam that litters the oceans of the internet.

Our browsers are gatekeepers into these realms of pure thought. They allow us access to knowledge that can be wonderful or forbidden. Or both depending on what restrictions, what oaths, the chrome fire-foxes have declared to their patron.

The internet is refered to as ‘the web’ although the spiders are fairly innocent. It is the flies that you need to look out for.

These flies are the aforementioned bridgeless trolls who multiply and divide like the amoeba that they truly are. Another risk are the phishermen, dethroned Nigerian princes, whose baitlines dangle into the silvery pools of our electronic mail. Jabberwocks call themselves phreaks, and they are waiting for you to harmlessly bounce against their cellular malignity. But don’t worry, this third threat is slowly dying out to be replaced by the fairly inept snicker-snackery of the hackers.

To hack is to feel pleasure, so sayeth the hackers as they hack and they hack and find themselves bushwhacked by authorities and their own brand-loyal hacker-hounds. They breed like weeds and are numerous even when hacked themselves. They thrive on stony ground and nourish not the realms they infest.

The flowers of the interwebs are algorithms, their self-referential petals spreading out in morbius strip patterns that glimmer and glint from the dew drops that fall from on high in the cloud. They bloom and they blossom, repetitively flourishing in the sunlight of the twilight of the terabyte sun/moon.

There are friendly beasts upon this plane of existence. Pixel-cloned beings who block transfer advice to those that need it. They live in places where the angles are wrong, where panopticons tower above their heads to see all and protect with their Norton shields. Their pets are cats who they feed with cheeseburgers.

We create copies of our world in these realms. Worlds that we pay-to-view, pay-to-kill-orcs or pay-to-adultery with pixel-clad perfect versions of ourselves. Or we can build palaces, funfairs and landscapes all rendered in squares and rectangles, inhabited by creepers, endermen and zombies riding on pigs.

All windows are the monitors to our reality where the trolls live in meatspace with their vitriolic spew dripping into the centre of the interwebs, their sad little lives deprived of disguise, where wars are fought with guns and bombs, and opinions are weightless…

Posted in BekHobbes, dreams, existence, fairytale, fantasy, fiction, poetry | Leave a comment

Carnival of Monsters Unreview

Steamships and dinosaurs and bureaucrats, oh my! Dirty fingernails too.

Imagine Big Brother with omnivorous monsters. Actually don’t. This is nothing like Big Brother. Everyone here has IQs with triple digits (even the chickens) plus there are no self-obsessed muppets here. Scratch that, it is like Big Brother! Imagine Big Brother with normal people… Ahem, I was right the second time, this is nothing like Big Brother. Sorry.

This story is like one of those Russian nesting eggs but every time you take one apart, inside it something completely different. To put it another way, this is a story that keeps you guessing (for the first two episodes).

The Doctor and Jo arrive upon a steamship but things are not as they seem. Events repeat themselves. Not so much Groundhog Day as Groundhog Minutes. Our heroes are constantly accused of being stowaways and then having to escape. Luckily they have a huge dinosaur popping out of the water to distract the crew.

In the first episode, we have the Third Doctor and Jo on the steamship. But also, we have a planet called Inter Minor where a race of grey-skinned aliens live. These aliens are grey in skin and nature, so when Vorg and Shirna turn up on the planet, they are not pleased at these colourful vagabonds. Just imagine the reaction of Daily Mail readers if a bunch of gypsies set up a camp in their front garden. Yes, that.

You know this is a Robert Holmes script when even nondescript grey aliens have a believable society. Bonkers but believable. Holmes has outdone himself here. We hear about President Zarb, and despite never seeing him, he is as big a character as any of the others. He is defined by what people say of him.

This is a world which echoes our own. It is familiar. It is real. We see functionaries, the lower class on Inter Minor, and we see how they are interact with their social betters both onscreen and by how the they are referred to by the elite. Both are fully realised groups. I cannot stress how real this all feels. I guess you just have to watch it and see for yourselves.

The steamship and dinosaur are contained in a Miniscope. This is a machine which shrinks creatures and settings so that they can be gawked at upon on a screen for the pleasure of the general public. Hey, I was right! It is like Big Brother!

Geordie Announcer: Day 346 in the Big Brother Miniscope. The Drashigs are called into the Diary Room to explain why they ate all of Major Daly’s cornflakes…

There are no real villains this time. Just scheming grey-skinned bureaucratic aliens whose idea of fun is watching paint dry on a high-definition television set. It seems, to me, that Vorg sees the people in the Miniscope as tchotchkes rather than actual living sentient creatures but that is not really villainy either.

Plenty of monsters though. Apt given the title of this story. A plesiosaurus which is quite naff. Oh, and Drashigs which are huge sock puppets with fox terrier teeth and an alarming taste in cuisine.

These Drashigs are the organic version of a waste disposal unit. Unlike most monsters on Doctor Who, these creatures are unintelligent. They are governed wholly by their stomachs and their insatiable never-ending appetite (they’ll even eat broccoli!). Just like any classic monsters, they are relentless. If they catch your scent, then they will chase after you until either you have gone well out of their range or they are chomping on your remains with their gently smiling jaws.

Do you remember all those people who complained about the Eleventh Doctor talking to cats and babies? In this story, the Third Doctor talks to chickens. Yes, exactly. To all the anti-Steven Moffateers, you’ve just been punk’d by Robert Holmes, creator of all the Gallifreyan lore/canon that you hold dear.

Sorry, I really must stop grinding that particular axe. Where was I? Oh, yes…

Aboard the S.S. Bernice, the ship that I didn’t previously reveal the name of, is a familiar cove. Playing sea-swab Lt John Andrews is Ian Marter. If you know your companions, then you will know that he also played Harry Sullivan (who is second place to Jamie as best male companion). Not an unusual occurrence given that quite a few actors played bit-parts and then were given major parts at a later date. But it does give me an opportunity to indulge myself by concocting an elaborate Whovian fan theory. Buckle up, this will be a bumpy ride.

The Doctor knows about the S.S. Bernice before he discovers that the identity of the steamship. He knows it went missing and was never found. This is a fact. But what if Andrews was Harry’s father? When the S.S. Bernice is returned to Earth, Andrews meets a woman and fathers a child, Harry. It could happen. So in the Whoniverse, before Carnival of Monsters, Harry Sullivan does not exist. Afterwards, Harry Sullivan does exist as a result of the Doctor and Jo accidentally arriving on Inter Minor instead of Metebelis Three. Harry pops into existence as time is rewritten by the return of the steamship. It could work. There is no reason why Harry should have his father’s surname. Um. Yeah…

OK. Pointless theorising is over now. You can all take your hands away from your ears and cease saying “La la la la la la!” at the top of your voices.

I think it is time to wrap this unreview up. I could easily talk to you more about the many fine points of this adventure but, as always, I suggest that you see for yourselves. If nothing else, you will get a lesson in how to build a realistic alien world.

Posted in BekHobbes, doctorwho, memories, opinion, questions, reallife, review, unreview, whovian, whovians | Leave a comment

Halloween Foxes Poem

Foxes, foxes coming for you,

What the hell you gonna do?

I’m not worried, they ain’t coming for me;

You on the other hand, you’d better flee.

How will you feed your poor cat

When the foxes are chewing on your fat?

Why aren’t you running away quick?

Are you fifty shades of thick?

I think you will get bit…

Be clever and run for the hills,

The foxes are after a thrill.

Foxes, foxes eating out your liver

Pain for you they will de-liver.

Foxes, foxes eating you…

Foxes, foxes coming for you,

Try to escape to the zoo.

But what if it’s locked with no key?

And the foxes are near thee?

Might you scream like a blenderised rat?

Or cry like a nipple-clamped brat?

Oh, it will be, for you, such a shame,

Human-eating foxes’ 15 mins of fame.

Selling their stories to the papers…

Get off your arse and in that car,

The foxes can’t travel very far.

Unless they hire a fleet of motorbikes,

And bring you down, bloody-thirsty little tykes.

Foxes. foxes chomping on you…

Foxes, foxes coming for you,

Gonna turn your bones into human stew.

Don’t be dumb, prick up your ears,

Lest reality echoes fox-related fears.

Scoffing on your limbs is mighty fun,

Better shoot them off with a gun.

If you’ve no gun, you’re in dire straits,

Not the band but the horriblest of fates.

Foxes playing piano with your teeth…

Foxes, foxes coming for you,

Gonna make you stain your pants with poo.

They know where you are,

“Thanks for the blood, mate, ta!”

You might as well give up now,

Foxes gonna farm you like a cow.

Instead of milk, they’ll drink your blood,

And shoot you – bang, bang, thud!

Foxes are hungry for your flesh…

Foxes, foxes coming for you,

Poem nearly finished, please don’t sue.

Foxes are eating your brain,

Anything left, they’ll flush down the drain.

Stay at home, watch your TV,

Safer for you, safer for me.

Better still, read a book,

As the foxes prepare you to cook.

Foxes with full bellies…

Posted in BekHobbes, halloween, humour, poem, poetry, rubbish, writing | Leave a comment

Inferno Unreview

This is the one where a conceited caketaker drills through the Earth’s crust only for it to cause green goo to bubble up and turn people into feeble hippy Hulk wannabes. Oh, and then the Doctor travels to a parallel universe where a conceited caketaker drills through the Earth’s crust only for it to cause green goo to bubble up and turn people into slightly less feeble hippy Hulk wannabes. Will the Doctor save both Earths? What do you think?

In the 1970s parallel universe stories were pretty rare. At least to the casual Sci-Fi lover who got their kicks from Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and those adverts with the spud-loving robots. When it was aired, Inferno was unique to all those who has forgotten that alternative universe Star Trek story where Spock grows a beard. Nowadays even the non-genre TV shows have a parallel universe story. Remember that episode of Downton Abbey where Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, travels to a parallel England where Lord Grantham, with evil goatee, is a carrot and women daringly show their ankles. Yeah, exactly. Ooh-er, missus!

The Brigadier and his UNIT chums are hanging around Professor Stahlman’s drilling experiment. The Doctor is siphoning off nuclear power in order to run experiments on the TARDIS’ mushroom console. How did he get it out of the TARDIS? Perhaps he had some help from Benson and Lethbridge-Stewart in a “To me! To you! kinda way?

The feeble Hulk monsters are referred to as Primords in the credits but are not named in the show itself. What we see is a lot of green custard turning people into shaggy blue/green monsters who are super-strong, boiling-hot and resistant to bullets and a good shampooing. Amusingly one of the first victims looks more like a green Richard Pryor than a vicious yob monster.

The Primords are not intelligent but I can’t help but think that there is something at work here other than random mutation. Could there be an intelligence at work here? Their actions are not as mindless as I would have expected. Probably just animal instinct. No chance of reasoning with them over a cup of tea and an Eccles cake.

The alternative universe section could be seen as no more than a gimmick that is merely there to lengthen the story to seven episodes which, to be fair, it is. But it works! The changes we see are astounding and telling. Let me go through some of my favourites…

Lethbridge-Squarepants loses his moustache and gains both an eye-patch and an Action Man scar. Instead of being UNIT’s big cheese, he is now the Brigade Leader of the Republican Security Forces. Instead of being cool and collected, he is now cruel and cowardly. A man living on his nerves. This version is not a good leader and seems incapable of making sound judgements. I wouldn’t trust him to rearrange his collection of celebrity eye-patches.

Liz Shaw is now Elisabeth Shaw, Section Leader. This could mean that she is the leader of a section of soldiers or just in charge of allocating slices of cake. Her long hair has been replaced with a dark bob and looks like it was cut by a Primord. She is closer in temperament and personality to our Liz which is of help when the Doctor tries to reach the good side of her. Hey, she even plugs the turnip of the evil Lethbridge-Stewart. This Liz rocks.

The parallel universe is set a little ahead into the future so events don’t always match up. Sir Keith Gold is killed in the alternative world but manages to survive in the normal universe.

Contrary to normal rules of parallel universes as set by Star Trek‘s Mirror, Mirror, Stahlman loses his beard instead of gaining one. Oh, and gains an extra ‘n’ on the end of his surname. He still remains an absolute arse though.

Greg Sutton’s clothes go from 1970s hip (if you consider clothes your father might have worn as being ‘hip’) to 1940s style horridness.

Britain is a republic complete with slave labour, an executed royal family and xenophobic hatred. This alternative England is basically UKIP’s wet dream.

This was Caroline John’s last story as Liz but her character is not so much written out as swept underneath the carpet when the next season arrives. Apparently the production team wanted a companion who was not too intelligent. My mind is a-whirl with sarcastic retorts. Luckily we got Jo Grant who wasn’t intelligent on Shaw’s level but was smarter than most of the companions (I am looking at you, Dodo and…no, just at you, Dodo).

Stahlman and Stahlmann get the Primord treatment but manage to survive for longer as normal than the other victims. If ever you wanted a baddie to be served with karma, you are in luck. He gets a double dose of it.

Olaf Pooley as Stahlman is a revelation. He is the evil version of Sheldon Cooper. While, yes, he is a pompous jackass, you do count the minutes until he appears onscreen again. Pooley is very watchable. It would have been nice if the Doctor had kept the Primord version as a pet chained to the TARDIS console.

Talking of which, the console is green! I know this story is full of 1970s fashion but an avocado-coloured console is one step too far.

Before any Whovians complain, yes, I know the console was painted green in the 1960s because white apparently flared on a black-and-white TV. I know. I was just using this as an excuse to mock 1970s fashion again. Sorry.

Jon Pertwee here is clearly the Doctor that we all know and recognise. By this time he has found his way well into the part. He is all running and jumping and fighting and gadgeting as you would expect the Third Doctor to be. This is a story where the Third Doctor has impossible decisions to make and thanks to the way Pertwee plays him, we are all on his side and feel for him.

When the Doctor gets flipped to the parallel universe, why does his Edwardian roadster, Bessie, go with him? Why not part of the original universe set as well? Makes no sense.

Inferno is a great adventure. Being seven episodes long though, I would not recommend glutting yourself on the entire serial in one go.

I hope that you will enjoy this adventure. If not, then don’t blame me or I will send my gamma-radiated Primords to bite your noses off!

In all seriousness though, watch and have fun doing so.

Posted in BekHobbes, doctorwho, memories, opinion, review, unreview, whovian, whovians | Leave a comment

Exeter Library 2

I wrote a blog about Exeter Library over a year ago. It comprised complaints about their computer service and the lack of maintenance for years.

What changed? Nothing.

Therefore I will be quoting extensively from my previous blog and adding new details as needed.

This is a time when most libraries are facing cuts. No library is safe, well, mostly.

The library that I go to, Exeter Library, is facing these cuts too. They’ve got rid of some of their paid staff and replaced them with volunteers who stick Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the D section (no joke).

 

Their public computers have been broken for the last eleven months or so.

Actually this is not quite true. It is much longer. Next year will make five years since the first issue. But as of 2016 the really big issues started emerging.

I wrote a complaint upon a compliant form and got a response telling me that they have received the complaint form. Nothing was done.

I have mentioned the faults to a librarian and, despite him telling me that he reported the issues, nothing was done.

This is true. I complained to this same librarian, who has since left, and he told me that he has not heard any complaints about their computers. When I reminded him that I had previously mentioned it to him only a few days earlier he gave the standard sheepish grin and shrugged shoulders.

Sheepish grin. Shrugging of shoulders. Mumbles about telling the big boss all about the problems. Rinse and repeat.

The aforementioned sheepish smiles and shrugs are generally the usual response to my complaints. The other standard response being, if the librarian is in the know, that they plan to have the computers fixed next year. I have heard this latter response for a few years now. I take it with a grain of salt whenever a librarian mentions it nowadays.

It would be churlish to complain knowing that my library is facing cuts and is therefore not able to spare their budget. But I simply am too angry not to complain now.

I feel like a complete jackass for complaining about this. The computer issue isn’t ultimately their fault. They hate it as much as I do. If only because I keep bugging the hell out of them about it.

But I can either complain or scream in frustration. Given that it is a library, the vocal option is out.

Exeter Library’s computers have many faults. These are some of them. Bear in mind that these faults happen every day and have happened on every computer that I have used in the library:

1 The computers logs me out of Twitter at least three times a session.

2 The computer towers make a whirring-whining noise if you ask it to do anything. Especially if you have more than two windows open.

3 The computer towers are overheating so much that you can sniff a whiff of hot plastic.

4 The computers constantly freeze (the last two days, they froze for ten minutes at a time).

5 The computers will say that they can’t access a site for no reason upon the Earth.

6 The computers will say that “the script is too long” as a reason why they freeze.

7 The computers will sometimes fail to load a picture.

8 The windows will swap around for no reason (usually after they freeze).

9 The thumbnail pictures that appear will show images that belong to another window or browser.

10 The computers will stop working as you are writing a sentence, not tell you that they have paused, and make you write again.

11 The computers won’t allow the text you are writing to appear, therefore making you write it out again.

12 The computers will make you wait a minute until they respond (most usually when you want to save/paste a picture/text.

13 The computer towers go silent, after making a racket, thus pausing everything on the screen.

14 Lack of librarian help. The nearest one is generally ten to fifteen metres away out of sight. They are too far away to call over unless you get up and find one, and if you get up, your computer is usually stolen by another person. Not that it matters if you find a member of staff, they can’t help.

15 If you use a CD-ROM or a memory stick, the computer towers act like a stabbed pig and squeal.

16 General slowness that occurs frequently and randomly. You think that you can click on something and it works straight away? Think again.

17 Computer screens refreshing themselves.

18 Ghosting. This is where an image of a window will appear ghostlike upon the window you are currently accessing.

19 Having to close windows down because the computers refuse to access a site it had no problems with previously.

20 Sites distrusting the library computers when they trust other computers. Not really a fault if you enjoy endlessly giving sites your email address because they think your computer is a security risk.

21 Constantly give you messages telling you that they need to troubleshoot a problem despite nothing from my viewpoint being wrong.

22 Refusing to load pictures or the formatting of the website. You see a white screen with the text higgly-piggly on the screen.

23 Logging you out either a minute before you are due to, or a minute after you are due to log out.

These are just some of the problems, in no order, they have. Every. Single. Day.

Point 14 about lack of librarian help; there is a kid’s section near the computers but the staff are not allowed to leave that section in case the children run riot and Exeter Library has another Lord of the Flies issue. Last time they found the head of Peppa the Pig on a stake.

These problems cause me to swear under my breath so often that I worry about cursing out aloud and getting myself kicked out of the library. I dream about throwing the computer across the room and screaming like a banshee. It is so mind-numbingly infuriating that I have to remind myself about the budget problem that the computer has.

If I had a swear jar, I would now be a millionaire.

And it isn’t just me. I have seen other people storm off in frustration, giving up and leaving, swearing and giving the computer the ol’ hairy eye treatment.

I love the library, I really do. I have used it for the past twenty-nine years since I was five. It is one of my favourite places in Exeter.

So. Exeter Library. Please, for the love of Cthulhu, fix the computers!

Cthulhu has obviously been slacking given the lack of adequate computers at Exeter Library but maybe he will wave a tentacle and help the library to fix their computers…

…or send the library crashing into the waves.

Posted in BekHobbes, exeter, exeterlibrary, memories, opinion, reallife, rubbish | Leave a comment