This Week in Geek (11-17/01/10)


The two DVDs I bought this week are the direct result of recommendations. For District 9, it's acquaintafriend Frank who called from the movie theater after seeing it and before sliding back into the cinema for a second showing. I swear he doesn't always do this. For Hostel, it's my sister who turned me on to this arty torture porn. And Tarantino adds his two cents on the box. Ok, I'll try anything once. But this won't get me to watch Saw or anything.


DVDs: Kung Fu Fridays continues its tour of Asia and we're up to... Japan! I chose Sanjuro, Kurosawa's fun and subversive samurai comedy from 1962 with Mifune reprising his ronin role from Yojimbo (we gotta watch that soon). Great, great fun from a master filmmaker. The DVD features a fawning commentary by expert Stephen Prince who spends just a little too much time explaining the action. Dude, I have eyes. More interesting to me was a japanese making of documentary filled with recollections from surviving cast and crew. This being a Criterion release, there's a booklet with pictures and essays which really drives up the price on these things. There's good stuff in there, but quite frankly, I don't buy DVDs to read them and Criterion's prices have kept a lot of great cinema off my shelves.

I watched a lot of classic Doctor Who during the week, including Terminus, the last Nyssa story also featuring the 5th Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. Terminus has some interesting ideas - a leper station in the middle of the universe whose fuel was dumped through time to cause the Big Bang - and some good design ideas (the execution sometimes fails though). Regardless, Nyssa has never been prettier (and I'm not just saying that because she's in her underwear) and her departure is quite lovely. The DVD features the usual commentary track by, I think by my favorite team of speakers in the range (the 5th Doctor cast) and documentaries, plus bits on the science of the story, a new CG effects option, model shots, etc.

But the big story of the Black Guardian trilogy is Enlightenment, and it's really gotten a nice treatment. It's the one with the sailing ship race in space, with creepy Eternals and camp space pirate ladies. Great stuff they were able to revisit on the second disc with a tighter full length version, with all new CG effects and orchestral musical cues. It almost feels like it could have been made today. In addition to the usual features, the DVD also includes retrospectives on Mark Strickson (Turlough), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) and the Guardians, interviews with the writer and director and a piece of John Nathan Turner's Cinderella pantomime that stars Peter Davison. My only beef with the package is that the "making of" of the Special Edition version is just a camera aimed at the director and producer talking at fx guys. There's no real discussion of the changes made.

Having finished one boxed set, I started another: The E-Space Trilogy. The first part is Adric's first story, Full Circle. It looks good, especially the exterior shots, Tom Baker is kept in check for once, and the story by 17-year-old(!) Andrew Smith about a generational ship that may not be what it seems has interesting elements and no real villains, but I was still a little bored by it. It's probably that I already knew all the revelations and well, Adric, you know. Still, K9 gets his head chopped off. That counts for something. The DVD has all the usual as well as yay and nays about K9 (who is soon to leave) and a scientific piece on alternate universes.

Big Finish Doctor Who audios: I listened to Alison Lawson's Catch-1782, a pretty well-constructed temporal paradox story featuring the two characters most redeemed by the audios, the 6th Doctor and Mel. Maybe I've got too much experience with this kind of story, but I could sort of see where it was all going, until the end when sadly, a cop-out handled it. Still, it DOES work, and the performances are universally strong, especially poor Mel who spends 6 months high on laudanum.

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 2 - Ghost Stories according to Fodor
A Midwinter's Dream on You-Tube

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: Started work on Dreams of Gallifrey, a new expansion with a strong Time Lord motif. 4 new cards from The Next Doctor with more to come during the week.

Neglected Post of the Week
Rom Bonus Fortnight: Face the Music! If you miss Rom Spaceknight from these pages, here are a few tunes that feature the gentle silver giant. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to listen, watch and react!


LiamKav said...

Having attempted to sit through several DVD commentary features, I agree with you tha that the 5th Doctor team go next to the Spaced crew as the only ones I've ever managed to get all the way through and be entertained.

Even if sometimes you do want to shout at Janet Fielding to shut up.

Siskoid said...

And she didn't participate in the Black Guardian Trilogy commentaries.


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