This Week in Geek (29/12/08-4/01/09)


While I wait for people to come back from Christmas vacation and give them their presents, I still managed to make one hand-out. My friend Mel thus scores a jPod Season 1 DVD, which I hear has some good casting in it (i.e. people that feel like they sprang out of the novel) and some not so good (all her impressions). I'll hopefully be able to borrow it and see for myself.


DVDs:When I utter the words "Doctor Who Christmas", I don't mean it lightly. After a huge serving of New Who last week, this week was largely given over to Classic Who DVDs. First up was Black Orchid, a short 2-parter starring the 5th Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, which is sort of a 1920s murder mystery written for another series or something. Hey, I quite like it as a charming period piece that doesn't overstay its welcome (despite an outrageous amount of cricketing), but the cast hilariously DESTROYS it on the commentary (and I can't disagree with their problems, really). The DVD also includes deleted scenes, features on locations used, costumes and restoration, a good documentary on the 5th Doctor's comic strip adventures (featuring Dave Gibbons), and a reading of disgruntled letters.

The next one was The Time Meddler, a disappointing release, especially given industry jabber that Patrick Stewart might show up as the Meddling Monk in upcoming stories. The story features the 1st Doctor, Steven and Vicki, and is a really good turn for them, the Doctor finally becoming a hero (as opposed to an anti-hero), with the Monk as the first other Time Lord ever seen. The plot is a bit of nonsense, but fun enough that you don't think about it. And yet, the DVD has few features. The usual commentary, photo gallery, production notes, etc. are there, of course, but no "making of" at all. Verity Lambert's death prompted an obituary essay and photo section (but not a video feature). So we're left with an audio track of 12 missing seconds, a good documentary on the 1st Doctor's comic strips, and a featurette on the restoration of the story. That's comparitively weak.

Next up, The Invisible Enemy starring the 4th Doctor and Leela, and featuring K-9's very first appearance. Please, watch this story with the enhanced CGI effects, they make everything look better. Not only do they fix continuity problems, but instead of invisible blaster shots, we get truly savage laser fights. Without them, this story is as risible as you've heard. Voyage through the Doctor's brain, robot dog, giant shrimp, yep all there. I do like it a lot for Leela though. A second disc has the single episode of K-9 & Company that paired him with Sarah Jane Smith, a train wreck of a story featuring a coven of Satan worshipers and an atrocious theme tune. The commentary tracks on both are good fun (Liz Sladen particularly severe) and as you can imagine, there's a lot of K-9 material on there: A Blue Peter appearance where he gets attacked by a real dog, making ofs for both stories, behind the scenes CSO work, silly interviews with the robot dog, and more. The DVD-ROM portion includes the illustrated K-9 books in which he flies around the universe in a kennel-like spaceship called, yep, K-Nel.

Are all the Classic Who episodes I watched this week kind of crap? I guess they are, because our next story is Destiny of the Daleks, with the 4th Doctor and the first appearance of the 2nd Romana, and featuring the return of Davros (in a terrible mask). The story of the Daleks' war with the Movellans isn't a terrible one, but it does feel sluggish, and the Classic Daleks are screechy affairs, as usual. Enhanced CGI doesn't do much for the story this time. The DVD includes the usual features, plus a bit on the director, a documentary on Terry Nation who created the Daleks, and most beautifully of all, the Australian computer adverts starring the Doctor and Romana as an obviously married couple. Awesome!

Leaving Doctor Who country, I next flipped The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the best (and possibly most underrated) of Terry Gilliam's fantasy films. As usual, Gilliam himself, on both commentary and documentary, has a wonderfully caustic sense of humor about yet another of his troubled productions. I love it when people call each other out in interviews. The DVD also adds deleted scenes, both filmed and junked at the storyboard phase. A lot more fun for us than it seemed to be for the makers.

And though I'd started it before Christmas break, I finally finished Six Feet Under Season 4. All I had left was some of the 7 commentaries (on 12 episodes). The DVD also features deleted scenes, a Bob Costas interview and a look at the season through its editing. It was a very good penultimate season, with both beautiful and lyrical stories (Parallel Play) and shocking ones (That's My Dog). Only one character, maybe two, is ever allowed to be on a high each season (this time it's Claire) while others come crashing down (everyone else). The Lisa storyline finally(?) comes to a close, and more of Claire's art stuff. I think the comedy/tragedy balance is the best it's been since Season 1.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 8 new cards, starting work on a new 180-card expansion called Infinite Space. The booster pack art is ready and everything.
Someone Else's Post of the Week
I like regular series on blogs, which I think kinda shows, and so this week's SE'sPotW goes to Rob! at the Aquaman Shrine, who just started a little something called AquaFamous. Just another way to show his love for Aquaman, and other people's love as well!


rob! said...

wow, Six Feet Under and a plug for the Shrine in the same post? my favorite Siskoid post evah!

Anonymous said...

By all means, try to find the "Munchhausen" movie made in Nazi Germany. It's even amazing-er than Gilliam's, and the most jarring aspect of it is that it contains no propaganda at all. You'd think it was made in an alternate universe in which the Weimar Republic brought peace and prosperity to the land.

My word verification was "quingst", which would be second person informal of the German verb "quingen". Coincidence? I think not?

Bill D. said...

There's a JPod series?!? *runs to see if he can add it to his Netflix queue*

Nope, can't. But Canada's still Region 1, right? Is it worth the risk to order blindly?

Also, we can now get the Rick James... sorry, Movellan story and freakin' K9 and Co. on DVD, but still no Revenge of the Cybermen? Really, BBC>

Siskoid said...

I'll let you know is a Geekly Roundup when I know!

And yes, we're Region 1 (North America).

Anonymous said...

You know, The Invisible Enemy was my very first Doctor Who episode, and while I Know that everything you say about it is true, something about it made me fall deeply in love with the show. Funny how that can happen.

Siskoid said...

For me it was The Hand of Fear. I know exactly what you mean.


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