Sunday, January 13, 2013

This Week in Geek (07-13/01/13)

Buys

Big end of year sale on Amazon, and I got a crap-pile of stuff I didn't want to buy at the regular price: Amazing Spider-Man, Cowboys & Aliens, Prometheus, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Justice League: Doom, (The Complete) Metropolis, Flight of the Conchords Seasons 1 and 2, Scrooged, and a Muppets two-fer, Muppets in Space and The Muppets Take Manhattan. My DVD movie shelf WAS getting a little low... Oh yeah, and went shopping on DriveThruRPG and wound up with the Primeval RPG (for my Doctor Who needs) and a bunch of Fiasco stuff (a game I'd like to use to nudge my improv friends into the role-playing hobby).

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: The first Jackie Chan movie I ever saw was Rumble in the Bronx, in theaters no less. This week's Kung Fu Friday, I slipped the DVD into the player, a DVD that promised Widescreen... but it was a LIE! But Rumble is essentially a fun puff piece, mostly dubbed (even the "American" characters), and watching it in Full screen seemed perfectly natural. If you haven't seen it, it's a ridiculous movie where New York has the Rockies in the background (because it's really Vancouver), and street gangs in fluorescent dune buggies look like they're right out of Robocop or Road Warrior. But you gotta love it. Jackie is so likeable, he even turns half the bad guys around. Fast and imaginative fights, cool and dangerous stunts, and silly comedy that manages to amuse. No extras on the DVD, as you can imagine, but Jackie includes behind the scenes footage in the end credits, including a series of stunts gone wrong and people going into ambulances. He carries on, of course, with a shoe-printed sock over his cast. Oh Jackie...

Want to know what I think of The Android Invasion? The reviews have been running all week-end, with the finale tomorrow. But what about the DVD extras? Toby Hadoke once again assembles a strong ensemble of cast and crew for the commentary track, including Milton Johns (Guy Crayford), Martin Friend (Styggron), Marion McDougal (production assistant) and Philip Hinchcliffe (producer). The latter is always good, I find, at honestly addressing flaws in his productions, and he (and the production notes subtitles) raises a lot of the same problems I had in my reviews. There's a making of documentary hosted by Nicholas "Dalek voice" Briggs that revisits the locations, speaks to some of the locals of "Devesham", as well as to some of the principals of the commentary track (plus archive interviews with director Barry Letts), without repeating what on that track. And while it's good, I most enjoyed the half-hour interview of producer Philip Hinchcliffe, conducted by his lovely daughter Cecilia, about his post-Doctor Who career. It's on a strange release, less than half-way through his run, but it gives a good picture of what it was like to be a producer in those years, and what other high-profile projects he worked on. Of course, there's a photo gallery, but more fun is a Dalek Weetabix commercial and the relevant print media ads in pdf format (along with the usual Radio Times listings). A simple, but worthy package.
Audios: Now that Big Finish is doing three-release arcs for its Doctor Who radio plays, I should probably review them as a group. That's certainly the case with 2010's 6th Doctor's team-up with Jamie McCrimmon in City of Spires (by Simon Bovey), The Wreck of the Titan (Barnaby Edwards) and Legend of the Cybermen (Mike Maddox), a trio of stories that serve as a tribute to the 2nd Doctor era. Not only are Jamie, and later, Zoe in it, but there are winks and nods to many of their stories, including The Highlanders, The War Games, The Mind Robber, and their many altercations with the Cybermen. City of Spires is the only failure, though later revelations may redeem it somewhat (for a second listen, perhaps), but by the nature of the story arc, it leaves too much unresolved and feels unsatisfying. Doc6 meets a much older Jamie again in the Scottish Highlands where anachronisms are piling up. It's loud, the voices are over-bearing, and in the head, it throws too much random stuff at the speakers. Thankfully, things get better. The Wreck of the Titan is a riff on various naval adventures, both historical and literary, and though it may seem like the Doctor's done the Titanic before, just you wait. Jamie falls back into the companion role smoothly and pleansantly, and Colin Baker is, as with most of his audios, eminently easy to listen to. Oh yeah, and it guest-stars Alexander (Dr. Bashir) Siddig and Miranda (Tallulah) Raison. It's the kind of twist-filled adventure that allows you to predict what's going to happen next and still feel satisfied when your guess turns out to be right, with some very clever ways to deal with start-of-episode reprises. It leads right into the next audio, but still manages to feel like a complete adventure. Legend of the Cybermen blows it out of the water, though. Easily one of my favorite audios of the entire Doctor Who range, it is extremely, extremely clever and inventive, with guest characters, format, metatext, music and plot. The action is exciting, the references are literary and fun, and the ending made me a little weepy. I am all ABOUT Legend of the Cybermen. The best thing about Trial of a Time Lord is definitely the weird hole it created in the 6th Doctor's time line, between Peri and Mel, where adventures such as these can happen, forever. Colin Baker - arguably worst TV Doctor, but BEST audio Doctor.

Work geekery: If the pickings are a bit slim this week, it's because I've been putting in a lot of overtime at work planning and executing an on-campus Survivor event for students. 10 Survivors are forced to stay in our student bar for 9 days, their tribes struggling for immunity each day and going to Tribal Council each night, sleeping on couches at closing time and eating nothing but microwavable mac and cheese and oatmeal. We're on Day 5 and they've just merged. At first glance, the group seemed to be composed almost entirely of cool cats, there to have fun primarily, and win the 2000$ prize only if they were lucky. But things soon turned into a pressure cooker image of the show the competition is based on, as the second elimination turned sour. See, on the show, Survivors are expelled from the island, but at a student bar, they can stick around! What happens when an angry, bitter Survivor pours on the drama the minute she's out of the competition? Saw it happen live. Half-way to their goal, with backstabbing already in progress and a hidden immunity in play until tomorrow, we'll see who survives to Thursday's Final Tribal Council, when all the expelled tribe members return as the Jury to decide on the winner. Which reminds me, I've got to go set up a big modular challenge and maybe get a few interviews on tape. See you later!

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
Act IV, Scenes 1-3

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from El Diablo to Enginehead.

1 comment:

S said...

Oh man, I've never listened to a Dr Who audio - but bringing back my favorites Jamie and Zoe? I'm really tempted to start now.