Archive for April, 2011

Doctor Who Series 6

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 30/04/2011 by arabrhizome

Right, as you know I’m a huge Doctor Who fan and so was looking forward to the start of the new season last week. Season 6 was to open with an episode called “The Impossible Astronaut” this was to be the first part of a two episode season opener. The second episode “The Day of The Moon” aired earlier today. I didn’t want to write about it before I watched both episodes. The reason for this is that I didn’t want to write an incomplete review. Also, I wanted to watch both episodes and so have a proper perspective on the story being told. Both episodes were written by Steven Moffat who has consistently written the best episodes of the revamped Doctor Who. So my hopes were high. Were they met? Were they exceeded? Let’s find out!

So as I said Steven Moffat has consistently written the best episodes, from “The empty Child” and “The doctor Dances” in series one, to “The Girl in the Fireplace” in series 2, and “Blink” in series 3, and “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” in series 4. All these episodes were terrifying and wonderful. Moffat’s writing in these episodes placed the seeds of what was to come when he took over as head writer for series 5 and now 6. He is a great story teller and has clearly been planning the Doctor’s adventures for a while now. Series 5 saw the arrival of a new Doctor, Matt Smith. We were all unsure of him as he was relatively unknown as an actor and had taken over from David Tennant who’s portrayal of the Doctor was seen by many as the best so far. However, the first episode of Series 5 put all our fears to rest as the writing was unsurprisingly magnificent, but more importantly Smith’s performance was breath taking. This scene at the end of the episode cemented him as a great Doctor.

Series 5 followed an arch story about a crack in space and time. The problem of the crack was solved at the end of that series. However, there was something unanswered. Throughout the series there were hints, hints that something was behind what was happening. A faceless threat, it was called the silence. From episode 1 of series 5 we heard that the silence was coming. We all assumed that the silence meant the end of time and space as caused by the crack. The erasure of history and the universe, but we were wrong. The last episode of series 5 made it clear that there was still a treat out there and that series 6 was going to address that. So we were all looking forward to the start of this series of Doctor Who, the trailers made it look great but was it going to live up to the hype?

Now I will try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, I would have been gutted if someone had given away some of the things we find out so I’m going to try to avoid it for any whovians who haven’t had the chance to watch the episodes yet. So the episode starts quite gently at first. We gather that the Doctor has been off on some adventures on his own, leaving clues throughout history to Amy and Rory. Then they get a TARDIS blue letter with map coordinates and a time. We see River Song get the same thing. They all end up meeting the Doctor in the US. The doctor is clearly much older now, not that he looks it but he has been away for a while from his perspective. Then something absolutely mind blowing happens. I cannot tell you what it is but within 5 or 10 minutes of the start of the episode something huge happens and everything changes.

From then on it’s an wonderful adventure that introduces a new kind of monster, and like all the Moffat monsters it’s terrifying. It’s not terrifying in a visual way, although it is quite ugly, but in a more primordial and deep way. His monsters have always been brilliant. From the Weeping Angels, to the Vashta Nerada, he has a real knack for tapping into one’s deepest fears, fears that come from childhood. This new monster is no different: The Silence. The first episode proceeds with the usual mix of running, humour, and brilliance and ends on a very good cliff hanger. So the first episode did everything you want from a season opener. It captured the imagination, posed a number of questions, and set up the arch story. However, this episode did a lot more in many ways. It was one of the best season openers of any Doctor Who series so far, at least in my opinion.

So today we got the chance to get some of the answers to the questions raised by the first episode. Moffat did what every great writer would do. He answered some of these questions, but in answering them simply raised more. The episode was one of the best so far in every aspect. The last scenes of the episode made sure that everyone would want to watch this season, as if we needed convincing. Basically Moffat has done it again. He has taken Doctor Who to new heights with his brilliant writing. I know that the series will have a few self contained episodes, that goes with the territory, but the arch story promises to be one of the best so far. I can’t wait to see what he has prepared for us.

Before I leave I just wanted to say a few words about Matt Smith’s Doctor. David Tennant established the tragic nature of the character in a very powerful way. Matt Smith has clearly built on that. However, Matt’s Doctor is a lot more interesting to me. He seems to accentuate the power of the doctor a lot more. The Doctor is terrible and wonderful all at once. He burns with fury and can be as cold as ice. He is “the oncoming storm”. He is everything the doctor should be: eccentric, brilliant, caring, loving, powerful, peaceful, threatening, tragic, terrible, and a genius all at once. I think that Matt Smith has done the impossible and become the best Doctor so far.

Sexy History (Part II), The Tudors and Desperate Romantics

Posted in Culture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 29/04/2011 by arabrhizome

So this is the second part of my series of reviews of the new trend of sexy historical costume dramas. In this one I will look at two series which are the Tudors and Desperate Romantics. Those two series are the next two I watched, chronologically speaking after I watched Rome. As I said in the first part of this series Rome introduced a new way of dramatising history. The Tudors and Desperate Romantics seem to be the first series that used that formula. I have to admit that it took me time to get used to both these series but I eventually got caught up in the story and enjoyed them for what they are.

So first let’s look at the Tudors. Much has been written about the series, both positive and negative. I’m not interested in picking a fight with anyone who’s written about it. This is not meant to be a polemic, simply it is a way for me to think about these series in the context of this new trend. I am aware of the historical inaccuracies of the Tudors, and the various criticisms of the series. However, I think that it works despite all these short comings. So what is the Tudors about and what are it’s defining features? Well like Rome one of the most striking things about it is just how sexy it is.

The Tudors follows, more or less accurately, Henry VIII’s reign from a little before his first meeting with Anne Boleyne. The story follows Henry’s various marriages and the sometimes bloody, sometimes amicable, sometimes tragic, relationships he had with his wives. While many people pointed out that the series isn’t always historically accurate, it is important to remember that this is a dramatisation of history and not a documentary. I don’t think that this criticism stands as the broad historical facts are there and are used to tell a story of love, hate, sex, power, and lust. The fact that sometimes the writers take a bit of liberty with the facts is not only to be expected but I think necessary to make the series entertaining.

What is striking about this series, as opposed to Rome, is that the violence isn’t that graphic. We do not see the most violent acts, as we did with Rome. There is some violence of course, but it is mostly suggested rather than seen. The other striking thing is that the focus is on sex. Everyone is gorgeous and a joy to look at. Every episode, especially in the first season, has Henry, or someone else from his court, having sex or doing some sort of sex act several times (although to be fair he usually has sex acts performed on him, know what I mean? Hey? Huh? you know? Right?… I am such a sad individual). In many ways the Tudors stresses sexiness over all other aspects. And it works, Henry VIII looks good and throughout the series remains looking like a sexy Greek god, even though we know that he became quite large later in his life. But it doesn’t matter as the point is not accurate representation but a more titillating account of the time.

The other series that I wanted to talk about is Desperate Romantics. This was a BBC 2 Series that dramatised the lives of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of nineteenth century English painters, poets and critics. The Pre-Raphaelites are an interesting artistic group. They have been categorised by some as one of the first avant garde groups. I don’t know much about them which made me enjoy the series as a drama without worrying about how accurate or not it is. This I think was the purpose of the writers of the series. I think that it wasn’t aimed at people who knew the history, but that it hopefully would lead them to investigate a bit more afterwards.

Now, this series, I have to say, while being excellent, is not as good as the others I have written, and will write, about in this series of posts. It’s focus, very much like the Tudors, is on sex. The Pre-Raphaelites appear to be a group of horny twenty somethings who are trying to make a name for themselves in the art world. However, the series doesn’t have very graphic sex, like Rome or the Tudors. The sexiness is more atmospheric than visual. That being said, there are a few scenes of full frontal nudity and quite vigourous sex. The characters are very interesting and quite complex. They are all driven by both personal ambition and more venal desires. All in all it is an interesting series.

That’s it for me for today. I have to admit that I found it difficult to write this post for some reason. I don’t why exactly but I wasn’t completely focused while writing this post. I apologise if it is not one of my best efforts. I will continue this series of posts, I’m not sure if I will write the nest one tomorrow or later on in the week. I have other stuff to talk about as well. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it regardless of my bad focus. I’ll see you all tomorrow for a new post. Take care and be safe. Love you bye.

Sexy History (Part I), Rome

Posted in Culture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 28/04/2011 by arabrhizome

So I thought I would write a few posts, I don’t know how many yet, about a newish trend in television drama: the sexy costume/historical drama. Now, costume dramas have been with us for a very long time. They are usually thought of as stuffy and boring, at least by the younger viewers. I remember trying to watch a historical drama when I was in my teens and even though I am a genius and a very clever person (I know I’m not but I’m trying positive thinking. If I say it enough times then maybe I’ll start believing it. I don’t think that deconstructing the statement in parentheses right after I write it is the best way to achieve it, but it makes me happy) I kept getting bored and couldn’t go through watching the whole thing.

Now, unless you’re a history buff or an old person costume dramas didn’t seem to be too cool. I’m not saying that no one like them, it’s just that the seemed to be geared towards a specific audience that I wasn’t really part of. But something happened a few years ago and all of a sudden historical costume dramas became cool and sexy and edgy. Now, I might be wrong about when it started but my feeling was that it all started with Rome. Rome to me seems to have set a precedent that many series are trying to emulate. In fact I would go as far as to say that every new historical costume drama of the type I’m talking about wants to be Rome. Some succeed, some get close, some don’t, and some are even better.

So I thought I would start this series of posts by talking about Rome. It is after all the first one of its kind and is, as I said and at least in my opinion, the bench mark of modern historical costume dramas. Now the first thing about Rome that jumps at you is how sexy and full of sex it is. From very early on in the series someone gets naked and has a lot of quite graphic sex. This trend is maintained throughout the whole of the drama. I don’t think that there is a single episode that doesn’t involve some sex act. The graphic nature of these acts will vary. However, as we’ll find out later there is a series that goes a little further with the graphic sex, but that’s for later. This sexiness can feel exploitative at points, but I think that without it the realism of the series would have been impaired.

That’s the second thing one is struck with. It feels real. Rome and roman times are brought to life with the incredible sets, the great acting, and the wonderful writing. Everything blends in perfectly to make you feel like you are watching real Romans, albeit with British and Australian accents but still. The series is also violent. There is as much violence as there is sex. The violence is also very graphic, although again not as graphic as another series. The thing with the violence though is that it feel real. It feels realistic. Rome introduced a way of reimagining and telling stories through the medium of television. It is okay to say fuck, and shit and cunt if you want to make it real. It’s okay to show full frontal nudity, both male and female, and quite graphic sex. It’s okay to show violence. The point is that with Rome we all learned that all these things are okay if the story needs them.

What we ended up with is a retelling of the stories of Caesar, Mark Anthony, Cleopatra, and others on television. This retelling didn’t feel stuffy or boring, but sexy, and exciting, and titillating. The end result was one of the best series ever made for television and one that would change the way in which Costume Historical dramas are thought of. I do believe that there is a before and an after Rome. Now the rest of my blog posts in the Sexy History series will look at some of the other dramas that are in the vein of Rome. I will look at the ones I have watched, or am watching at the moment. I hope you enjoy this with me.

Tomorrow

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , on 27/04/2011 by arabrhizome

Right I know that I keep promising a new proper post but keep not delivering. The thing is I’ve been up since 6 and I’m very sleepy, I’ve been working and watching old doctor who episodes all day. I have a supervision tomorrow and hope to be able to write a little properly tomorrow. My fingers are almost normal and I think I’ll be able to resume normal service. I’m also going to see a friend tomorrow after the supervision for coffee. So I’m hoping that I’d have some stuff to talk about, although to be fair I have a lot of ideas about posts knocking around in my head. In the mean time take care of yourselves and stay safe. Love you bye.

Almost Finished

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , on 26/04/2011 by arabrhizome

So my finger tips are feeling a lot better. I spent most of my day typing for my thesis. I’m a little tired now, I don’t think it’s the best idea for me to write a full length post, as my fingers are a little sore. I think that tomorrow I’ll be able to get back to almost normal. I’m just passing by here to say sorry about that and that hopefully starting tomorrow I’ll be able to write again. In the mean time stay safe. Love you bye.

Getting a Little Better

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , on 25/04/2011 by arabrhizome

my fingers are getting a little better but they’re still hurting. In fact I discovered a whole bunch of stuff I can’t do now. Wearing shoes is excruciatingly painful, cooking is near impossible, and brushing my teeth is a challenge. I don’t think I would do well if  was tortured. Anyway, typing is still very painful so I won’t be here for long. I’m reading a lot though, this way I’m building up material to start writing about as soon as I feel up to it. In the mean time, stay safe. Love you bye.

Fingers Still Hurt

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , on 24/04/2011 by arabrhizome

Hi Everyone. I’m afraid to say that my fingers are still in a lot of pain. Well to be more precise I am in a lot of pain because of my fingers. Blisters have formed and so typing is very difficult. This I’m afraid is all I have the strength to type. I will hopefully heal soon. Bye for now.