Rapid review – Doctor Who: “Deep Breath”

Promotional image of the 12th Doctor and Clara

I considered just tweeting out my thoughts on the first episode of Doctor Who series 8, “Deep Breath”, but it became clear I needed more than 140 characters. Spoilery stuff below, so click on if you dare…

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Happy 50th, Doctor Who!

Google doodle for November 23, 2013, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who

You know you’ve made it when Google makes a special interactive doodle!

50 years is a remarkable achievement, but for a television programme to get to that point is more astonishing. When I wrote a reflection on Doctor Who‘s 45th anniversary, I noted that its flexibility in terms of storytelling has made the show endure the test of time. It’s not just the companions who have shared in the Doctor’s adventures; millions of viewers, including myself, have also been part of the journey, taking in the wonders of all of space and time through television, audio, and print over the last half century. It’s a rich history that can appeal to almost anyone.

As the next 50 years begin, I want to thank William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith for taking us on a wonderful trip, and here’s to 50 more years of Doctor Who!

Videos I’ve been watching this week

A couple of new videos that I’ve been watching this week:

The first is Sarah Slean’s latest, “The Devil and the Dove”. It was shot in the Newfoundland town where Sarah composed some of the songs from her most recent double album. It’s got great visuals, thanks to director Scott Cudmore’s treatment of the song.



Level up!

The screen-cap above is from a really fun video that summarizes series 5 and 6 of Doctor Who, but in a format that would be more at home in 1990s video gaming. This should tide me over until the new season begins this fall.

Waxing nostalgic about 1990s music

Much More’s Top 100 Big Tunes of the 90s (list and videos start with this page)

I missed the first 25 or so, but at least Much More (I like to think of it as the Canadian equivalent of VH1, but even that might be outdated) saved me the work and posted links to all the videos in the top 100 countdown. Do you remember Spin Doctors (#99)? PM Dawn (#78)? Mark Morrison (#70)? The music I listened to in the 1990s is (mostly) there.

One observation is that this countdown avoided repeating artists, and that for some artists, I would have chosen a far better video/song to represent that artist. One example: Boyz II Men (#56) – I would have selected “End of the Road” instead of “Motownphilly”. Or Soundgarden (#54): “Black Hole Sun” would have been a better choice than “Spoonman”. And where’s Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”? “Say It Ain’t So” was in the countdown at #32.

My sister noted that there was a heavy emphasis on hip-hop tunes, which is pretty clear when I went through the bottom of the list that I didn’t get to watch on TV. Before we watched the last episode featuring the top eight, my sister and I put in guesses as to who would be among those eight. Our selections from the pop spectrum (the obviously big soundtrack tunes from Whitney Houston and Celine Dion) did not make the list. At all. The staples of my high-school years (most of it listening to Z95.3) have been ignored in this countdown. It probably has to do more with the state of music today and the demographic of Much More’s audience than with the successes those unrepresented artists have garnered during the 1990s.

Any “best of” or “top x” list is bound to generate discussion, and here’s my bit on one such list. What do you think of this top 100 of the 1990s? Were there any omissions? Do you have any personal favourites you feel should be included?

Doctor Who Tube: 48 years, “500 Miles”

Just a few days late for Doctor Who‘s 48th birthday, but it’s still fun to watch nevertheless.

Earlier this fall, a video has been released featuring the cast and crew of The End of Time, David Tennant’s final serial, singing along to the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”. Such joy to watch! And look at the freeze-frame that was used: Timothy Dalton, David Tennant, and John Simm, in costume, dancing and singing. You can’t get any better than that! (Watch out for a surprise appearance by the Proclaimers themselves.)

But Who fans being Who fans, we don’t want to be left out of the fun. The video below is a collaboration of fans from all over the world, also singing along to “500 Miles”. This is an impressive feat, considering the editor had to go through many submissions to make the final version. I’m also impressed by the countries represented by Doctor Who fans; we are everywhere! Particular props go to the gentleman who dressed as the 1st Doctor.

But as great as the song and both videos are, I’m wondering why this song, with the lyrics “I would walk 500 miles”, was chosen. Doctor Who is all about running! But I guess that’s just a runner’s biased opinion.

The Big Bang Theory is my new favourite show

(Only the Barenaked Ladies could have composed the theme song; this is the full version with lyrics.)

I think my geek license would have been revoked if I didn’t get around to watching this series. After PVRing the first season (in syndication) of The Big Bang Theory, I’m hooked.

The show is a sitcom that revolves around two physicist roommates, their attractive neighbour, and their two equally nerdy and socially-inept colleagues. That must have been a concept that has been rejected several times, but it somehow made it to television, and it’s garnered some impressive critical success, including this year, Emmy nominations for both lead actors and the show for Best Comedy Series.

After watching the first season, I can clearly relate to three of the four main male characters: Leonard’s romanticism, Sheldon’s smug self-righteousness, and Raj’s inability to speak to women. All four of them (Wolowitz is the other) are essentially “book smart, street stupid“. But it’s fun to watch them interact among each other, as well as with the neighbour, Penny.

I also love the pop-culture references throughout the season (the Doctor Who mention meter is currently 1 by my count), and all the scientific terms used have also passed muster. I’ve actually learned a few things, such as the difference between “nauseous” and “nauseating” (from “The Tangerine Factor”).

Since the last week has been quite busy, my PVR has been backing up with the first few episodes of season 2. When I get around to them, I’m expecting more of the same, but it doesn’t matter because darn it, I can’t get enough Big Bang Theory!

Love, marriage, and Doctor Who: then and now

Cover of Doctor Who Magazine 424

I picked up DWM 424 last summer partly because of its look back at The War Machines, the story that saw the debuts of Polly and Ben Jackson (but more on them later). And it is a great cover photo.

Series 6 will start in one week! For the first time in the Doctor Who revival, a new series will start with the same Doctor and companion(s) that ended the previous series. What you may also not know is that Amy and Rory are the first companions of the Doctor to be wedded while still companions. I am not counting Donna’s wedding at the end of End of Time, because she was no longer the Doctor’s companion; moreover, he still could not contact her, lest her mind implode (again). But it wasn’t always this way.

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