07/05/28 Human nature
07/05/27 The laptop, she is dead
07/05/18 My laptop is a girl. Who knew?
07/05/07 Doctor Who: The Lazarus experiment
07/05/03 Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
'Pyramids of Mars' for the 21st century.
Doctor Who: Human nature
'Human nature' is the first of a two-parter (at least, I assume it's going to be over after two episodes) that was first broadcast on May 26 2007. A brief and rather spoiler-ish summary of the plot: to get away from some unidentified enemy the Doctor becomes human and hides in 1913 rural England, and only Martha can restore his true nature...
Even though it isn't flawless, this is really, really good stuff.
The good news:
- it's a Robert Holmes genre bender in the finest tradition of 'Pyramids of Mars'. That says it all, really. If you enjoyed 'Pyramids', you're going to like this one
A couple of puzzling bits:
- it's not quite clear what happens when the watch is opened. (Spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen the episode: the Doctor, who doesn't know he is the Doctor because he thinks he's a 1913 teacher - which is to a certain extent true - owns a watch, the opening of which is supposed to restore his memory and make him a Time Lord again.) I would have expected it to either work as described on the tin or to do nothing at all. Possibly all will be explained in the second episode
- I found Martha – both her performance and the way she's written in this episode – a bit confusing at times. For instance, when we see her first enter the Tardis in this episode she seems to be Martha-the-1913-maid, timidly venturing into unfamiliar surroundings, rather than Martha-the-21st-century-companion who is fully aware of what's going on. It's also unclear why she should be bragging to her friend about leaving for the stars, since keeping mum would have been the safer option. And why doesn't she seem to worry about the possibility of something going wrong? We all knew that the watch was going to go AWOL sooner or later, didn't we?
It was fun to spot the references to earlier episodes:
- the little song the girl with the red balloon was singing, is the same that was sung by the little girl in the 1980s serial 'Remembrance of the Daleks'. The two girls also look alike
- the musical theme that accompanied the scenes where we saw the Doctor fall in love with the Matron sounded like a variation on Reinette's theme in 'Girl in the fireplace'
- the music that we hear when the watch is opened was also used in the first new series for the 'Bad wolf' references
Reviews of 'classic' Doctor Who:
Doctor Who reviews
Her spirit lives on, though.
The laptop, she is dead
To cut a long story short: drying out the laptop didn't help. I took her to a friend who removed the hard-disk and set it into a USB holder for me, so that I can still access the data. He also removed all the odds and ends he could use (including screws in various shapes and sizes, which are apparently surprisingly hard to come by) and I took home the remains of the motherboard, which is going to be part of an art project when I get around to doing it. Some day. He also gave me an old second-hand (now third-hand) laptop of his to use away from home, so now I'm al set.
(So, once again, thanks Bob!)
Life's little inconveniences.
My laptop is a girl. Who knew?
Right, let me start at the beginning. One evening last week I was doing the 'surfing the Internet while having dinner' thing, when the (really quite small) glass of white wine that I was having keeled over and gave the north-east corner of my laptop keyboard an alcoholic baptism. Ever worried about electrocution I shut down the laptop and started mopping.
Time passed, and the urge to tempt fate became irresistible. I switched the laptop back on. Weird noises and error messages about something being wrong with the keyboard ensued. I came to my senses, pressed the off-switch and pulled the plug.
I decided to let the keyboard dry out thoroughly before doing anything else, and started to remove the keys from the afflicted area. Which is when I found out that my laptop is a girl. Nipples. The keys are set in rosy-pink, soft, round bits of plastic that are impossible to look at without thinking of nipples. The laptop is now resting comfortably on my table, her cover open, and her keyboard half-naked with rows of little rosy-pink nipples proudly sticking up into the air.
Now for the good news. The afflicted laptop is somewhere between ten and fifteen years old, and it's a spare machine that I use when I'm away from home. My main concern was that my only local copy of my web site was on its hard drive, but I've now got another copy on my other machine so all's well with the world in that regard. The only content on the hard-drive that I'll actually miss are the Real Draw Pro source files for the illustrations on my web site, and even for those there's hope. The laptop might still work after drying out, and also a friend of mine has offered to download the contents of the hard-drive onto a USB-stick.
Which leaves me with getting used to updating the site during the weekends rather than during the week, which might mean that updates may be a bit more erratic and far-between than usual. Sorry.
Continuing my reviews of new Doctor Who. Again, this was written after seeing the episode only once, which is not what I usually do when I'm reviewing something.
Doctor Who: The Lazarus experiment
The Lazarus experiment was first broadcast on May 5, 2007. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot - though the title pretty much gives the whole thing away: ageing scientist doctor Lazarus finds a way to, well, not be raised from the dead, exactly, but to become young again. As is always the case, this knowledge has a price...
Let's start with some good stuff:
- we see the start of a plot arc where some nefarious character (I've missed the start of this season of Doctor Who, so there may have been more about him in earlier episodes) tries to turn the mother of the Doctor's companion Martha Jones against the Doctor. I've no idea what that's all about, but it looks promising
- the story does make an effort to add depth to the character of doctor Lazarus and to the story as a whole. Having Lazarus return to the cathedral where he hid from the German bombs during the war is a nice touch and ties in with his fear of dying, and there's also the discussion between him and the Doctor about death and the value of life
The not so good stuff:
- most of the efforts to add depth and believability to Lazarus fall flat because, as a character, he's such an incredibly nasty piece of work. Early in the story he makes a clearly unwelcome pass on Martha's sister, once he's rejuvenated he callously rejects the elderly lady who has financed his experiments, and when his transformation into a monster sets in he seems to have no problem at all with killing people and sucking them dry. This makes it hard to care about his motivations or even to believe in him as a human being
- believability is a problem for other characters in this episode as well. Martha's sister was clearly grossed out by Lazarus' advances when he was still old - why would she be so into him after the experiment?
- once again, the story feels derivative. The problem is that in the stories that came before - Jeckyll and Hyde, and Dock Ock in 'Spider-man 2' come to mind - much of the tension came from the inner struggle that the scientist went through, between the monster that was unleashed by the experiment and the human soul that was still there. With Lazarus, there's no such struggle. He's a monster, he has to kill and suck people dry in order to stay alive, and he can't be bothered to do anything about it
- plugging the sonic screwdriver into a church organ to make the sound of the organ reverse the effects of the experiment? In the eighties the makers of Doctor Who decided that the screwdriver had to go, because it was turning into a magical device that could solve all problems (and hence was encouraging lazy scriptwriting). In 2007, once again, we need someone to take the sonic screwdriver away from the Doctor and burn it
Not bad, not great.
Reviews of 'classic' Doctor Who:
Doctor Who reviews
I don't like reviewing things after only watching them once, since I tend to miss a lot the first time around, but I'm not really in the mood to write about anything else either so here we go.
Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
'Daleks in Manhattan' / 'Evolution of the Daleks' is a two-parter that was first broadcast on April 21 and April 28 2007. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot (though I understand that the Radio Times cover did a great job of eliminating any possible surprises with regard to the cliff-hanger): the Doctor and Martha visit Manhattan during the Depression where they encounter - yes, it's the Daleks! Who evolve!
Let's start with some good news:
- the two episodes look great, and move along at a steady pace
- there are good performances from the guest cast
Moving on to the slightly less good news:
- there are some bizarre-looking creatures in these two episodes, who look kind of striking but whose existence doesn't make a great deal of sense as far as the story is concerned. As a viewer, you find yourself either enjoying the visuals or going 'WTF?!' and I mostly found myself in the latter category. I enjoyed the bit with the mutated Pig-Men riding up in the elevator, but the sight of the squid in the pinstriped suit made me cringe in embarrassment-by-proxy
And the bad news:
- after one viewing, the story doesn't seem to make much sense. Why the Pig-Men? Why the Dalek-human hybrid? We're not given a reason to believe that either would be a good idea, or that the Daleks would believe that either would be a good idea. And how, exactly, was that whole thing with the Empire State Building and the solar flare supposed to work, and how did the Doctor stop it?
- the whole thing feels derivative. A prestigious project hijacked by aliens or superhuman villains? Been there, done that in any comic-book superhero story. The Doctor's one-on-one confrontations with the Daleks? Done before in the first-year-of-new-Doctor-Who episode 'Dalek', and the first time around we got a marvellously intense performance from Christopher Eccleston and a story that actually made sense. The Doctor's exuberant "Nobody's going to die today!" reminded me of the previous Doctor's exuberant "Everybody lives!" in the episode 'The Doctor dances' from the same year except that, yet again, then we had Eccleston's performance and a story that got it right. At the end of 'Evolution of the Daleks' Laszlo lives, alright, but what kind of life is he going to have as a freak with a pig's snout in the middle of the Depression? How is he even going to eat with those tusks?
It's not bad, exactly, but I found it hard to care about anything that happened on-screen.
Reviews of 'classic' Doctor Who:
Doctor Who reviews
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