With its newest revision, About Time 3 has just gone from the slimmest volume in the series to the fattest, from 180 pages to more than 500 in fact! Flipping through, I don't think there's any section or essay on the 3rd Doctor's adventures that hasn't been revised, rewritten or expanded. I don't regret buying it at all, and can read it cover to cover without feeling like I've read it all before. While I was shopping at Mad Norwegian Press, I also picked up Time Unincorporated volume 1, featuring fanzine articles and book treatments by Lance Parkin (of Ahistory fame).
On DVD, finally got Life on Mars volume 2 and Star Trek: Untitled. Oh yeah, and just to build my Hong Kong film collection, Protégé (with Andy Lau). And though the latest Fables trade seems to be late, I did get the most recent Jack of Fables.
DVDs: Kung Fu Fridays brought us Once Upon a Time in China II, in which Jet Li reprises his role as Wong Fei Hong, this time fighting a strange cult of Westerner-haters as well as the Manchurian regime, just trying to keep his country stable. Though comparable to the first movie in terms of entertainment, I think this one's just a notch easier to follow. Not enough Donnie Yen though! Picture quality is only marginally better than the first film - Tristar didn't do much to help these along. And no extras to speak of (the DVD puts the "English dubbed version" in the special features though).
I also flipped Doctor Who's The War Games, a massive DVD release that includes 2 and half hours of extras in addition to the 10-part story (3 discs). The War Games is mostly remembered for the first mention and appearance of the Time Lords, and as Patrick Troughton's last story (Jamie and Zoe's too). But that's the last episode. Before that is a sweeping epic that takes you through various historical wars and some mad futuristic sets, and Philip Madoc's War Lord is one of the better acted villains of the era. It doesn't even feel like 10 episodes, moving along quite nicely. In addition to the usual stuff, the DVD also includes features on black and white television, regeneration, 2nd Doctor comics, Malcolm Hulke's Target novelizations, Pertwee's bits from the Devious fan video, and more. Great package. (The Easter Eggs are for completists only, like 20 minutes of sound taken from location filming.)
Big Finish Doctor Who audios: Gareth Roberts is always good for whacky fun and though I thought of steering clear of an audio called Bang-Bang-a-Boom, I thought it was great fun. A complete parody of Star Trek (Dark Space 8 shows some obvious roots), it features the 7th Doctor and Mel posing as fleet officers at an interstellar singing contest / telepathic peace conference, and memorably, an alien opera singer putting the moves on the good Doctor. I wasn't TOO sure about the sentient hamster's voice, but you see what I mean about wacky. Surprisingly, they don't get Bonnie Langford to sing, which I would have thought would have been the whole point.
Rob Shearman's Jubilee was up next. Though Shearman famously reworked this 6th Doctor/Evelyn story into New Who's "Dalek", it doesn't have that much in common with it. The tortured Dalek, yes, but there's a whole lot more craziness on show in the audio. There's an alternate timeline, a completely psychotic guest cast, and a paradox I don't think I can explain. The script is Bob Holmesian in its wry humor and well crafted satire, and there aren't too many Daleks (which, in large numbers, tend to irritate the listener). "Dalek" remains the tighter, more heartfelt story, but Jubilee is funnier and more epic in its scope. It's also got at least one jaw-dropping cliffhanger.
After those two, The Dark Flame by Trevor Baxendale, featuring the 7th Doctor, Ace and Benny turned out to be a disappointment. It's just... ordinary. And we get so few audios set during the New Adventures that I wish it could have been more. The plot revolves around a resurrected force from the beginning/end of time and seems grandiose enough to fit the NA era, but there's little here we haven't seen/heard before in other Doctor Whos. Benny's flippant humor gets old very fast and the villains are two-dimensional.
Improv: Had myself half a tour this week. I couldn't do the last four out of nine shows because of an event I had to help prep for Saturday. An event that got postponed as it turned out, which makes me a gloomy gus indeed. What we do is basically improvised one-hour plays in schools based on class suggestions or set dressing we find in situ. The only show I participated in worth mentioning on this blog is a fantasy epic in which a court jester becomes the unlikeliest of heroes and saves the king's life. Great success, with excellent period costuming, humorous but dynamic battles, and stage magic that really took the kids in. My own dual roles as a master at arms and a manipulative counselor on the side of good were minor, but had nice scenes with the principals.
Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 2 - Ghost Stories according to Branagh
Act I Scene 2 - Ghost Stories according to Olivier
New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: A dozen cards for my Relative Dimensions 5 set, including Bill Bailey as a possible modern Meddling Monk, and Lady Christina from Planet of the Dead.
Someone Else's Post of the Week
Michael May's Plump Sister is to The Christmas Carol what my Hyperion to a Satyr is to Hamlet. But while I haven't found time for Hamlet one-offs in popular media, Michael's gone and handed us a Ghostbusters Christmas Carol this week. Give him some love.