This Week in Geek (18-24/10/10)


I've added a crap-pile of DVDs to my collection this week. From the UK, we have Being Human Season 2 and the ugly, animated Doctor Who story Dreamland. From Hong Kong, we have 8 Diagram Pole Fighter and The Kid with the Golden Arm. Oh, and I also got Metroland on the cheap, simply because it's based on a Julian Barnes novel (albeit an early, minor one) and he's one of my favorite contemporary writers.


DVDs: Flipped TV series of the week is The Unit Season 4. As with Season 3, it's a Bournified Unit, but this time, I sense a little panic about what to do with the wives. After all, the Unit men have gotten into bigger and bigger stories, but the wives still existed in the more procedural world of Seasons 1 and 2. So involving them in spy business smacks of shark jumping, though I admit it's a lot more palatable on the second go. I remember being less than enthusiastic while the show was airing. The great additions of Redcap and Whiplash to the team, however, proved to be more fertile ground. The series seems to end with several loose strands dangling, but alas, they were never meant to be tied. The Unit had a good run. Of course, when you lose your principals, DVD extras seem to peter out. The commentary tracks and writer round-tables of the first three sets are gone, and we only have about a half-hour's worth of behind the scenes featurettes about three selected episodes.

Kung Fu Fridays do not often delve into BAD Kung Fu - at least not on purpose - but I had this Bruce Lee boxed set I really needed to finish, and we were doing sequels all month anyway, so... Game of Death II. If the first film was a terrible exercise in hiding the fact that your star was not among the living, the second has had more time to perfect the idea... with admittedly entertaining results. The first half is all about stringing clips of Bruce Lee together into a barely coherent storyline. It even includes material from his childhood roles. Then the character dies (cue once again footage from Bruce's real funeral) and his brother takes up the cause and fights Bondian villains in Japan. The first Game of Death felt more exploitative, but the second film is almost a love letter to Bruce Lee. And it's wall-to-wall fighting, which keeps you from asking too many questions. Extras are minimal (photos, trailers and the same outtakes as in GoD 1).

Becoming more and more a fan of Vicki, I was happy to see Maureen O'Brien finally break her Doctor Who silence and contribute to a pair of commentary tracks. Specifically, for The Space Museum and The Chase, bundled together as a single release. She does not, however, appear in any of the extras. The Space Museum has a wonderfully mysterious first episode, but then devolves into a slow and cheap revolution story. I'm however going to agree with Rob Shearman's re-evaluation in the extras that it's a flawed gem: A nihilistic comedy about inaction and a send-up of Doctor Who's format and SF tropes. It's just let down by poor direction that plays it straight. In a sense, it is a precursor to Carnival of Monsters and Vengeance on Varos. The disc also has a nice interview with William Hartnell's granddaughter, and an amusing Dame Edna-ish featurette about how the show wrote out characters so the actors could go on vacations.

The other story in the package is The Chase, a Dalek runaround that is basically just a series of set-pieces loosely tied to the Daleks pursuing the TARDIS through time, sometimes featuring multiple locations in the same episode. There are some good bits, especially in the characterization, though the production values fluctuate wildly. It's an important serial for the extremely well done departure of Ian and Barbara. Oddly, while I understand why they had to excise the bit where the TARDIS crew grooves to the Beatles on their time viewer (rights issues), I can't understand why that bit isn't mentioned anywhere on the two discs devoted to the story, not even in the usually reliable production notes. The Chase is accompanied by more than two hours of material. The Daleks' designer visits New Who's art design studios, and there's an interview with the director, and a featurette on Ian and Barbara. The rest is largely Dalek-related - like there aren't enough of those already released - but they at least find new things to say and new ways to say them. These include a fun retrospective of what makes the Daleks so engaging, a piece of merchandising, a documentary on the company that used to produce them (Shawcraft), the 8mm amateur film "Follow That Dalek" (which visits Shawcraft, where we see many Who props often for the first time in color), and 16 "Give a Show Slides" stories. Between the two stories, it's an excellent value.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 24 new cards from The Keys of Marinus.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
II.i. Ophelia Affrighted - Branagh '96
II.i. Ophelia Affrighted - Olivier '48

Web Sightings
Yes, I admit that I sometimes google my own name (well, "Siskoid"). And sometimes I find it in the most bizarre of places, such as this literary essay entitled "Worlds within Worlds: Audiences, Jargon, and North American Comics Discourse" by Craig Fischer, which uses three of my articles as references! I sorta wish Craig had asked, I'd have given him my real name to solidify his sources. As is, it's very strange that someone would quote a guy simply called "Siskoid". Isn't it?


Steve Flanagan said...

"Oddly, while I understand why they had to excise the bit where the TARDIS crew grooves to the Beatles on their time viewer (rights issues), I can't understand why that bit isn't mentioned anywhere on the two discs devoted to the story, not even in the usually reliable production notes."

The Beatles clip is included in the Region 2 version: presumably the extras were prepared to go with that.

Siskoid said...



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