Doctor Who Series 8 Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Season: Series 8 (New Who)
  • Episodes:  12
  • Discs:  5
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast:  Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

Doctor Who gets a new Doctor – Peter Capaldi with Series 8, however Steven Moffat is still the show’s “showrunner”, what in the US would be termed the executive producer. I had looked forward very much to seeing a new Doctor, because I never really warmed-up to Matt Smith. And this wasn’t just not liking Smith because he wasn’t Tennant. I’ve seen all of Doctor Who, all now twelve Doctors, plus John Hurt’s The War Doctor. I have my favorites – Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, and David Tennant, but I don’t really dislike any of the Doctors. I see each actor as emphasizing an aspect or different aspects of the Doctor’s personality.

Series 8 starts with an extended episode, “Deep Breath”, which was shown in movie theaters around the US. I saw it in the theater and on BBCAmerica. Re-watching it on DVD I was reminded just how good the script was. There were a lot of references to “The Girl in the Fireplace”, of course, because the service robots / androids were basically the same as the one’s in “Girl in the Fireplace” and the ship they originally came from was sister-ship to the Madame de Pompadour. But the episode made a point not only about the robots being, as the Doctor puts it, “a broom” (“you have a broom and you replace the handle, then later you replace the brush – is it still the same broom?”) which had obvious connections to the Doctor who’s having trouble with his regeneration. However, unlike other regeneration crisis stories (which have occurred since Pertwee), where it’s the Doctor who’s having an issue figuring out who he is – or the Doctor is actually physically sick, such as he’s half-conscious, in “Deep Breath” it’s Clara who has the problem. She literally cannot see that Capaldi is the Doctor, and her first reaction is to tell Mde. Vastra and Jenny to “change him back”.

There are some obvious issues with this. First, ever since the show came back in 2005, the show runners, both Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat have emphasized the role of the companion, and shown the companion to be a POV-character for the audience. Now, watching Doctor Who when I was young, I always wanted to be the Doctor, not his companion, (but I always wanted to be Sherlock Holmes not Watson, or Batman not Robin, too. Maybe it’s just wanting to identify with the hero not his entourage.) Though I also prefer stories that have a strong duo or ensemble cast. But that’s me.

But in “Deep Breath” with Clara saying “he’s not the Doctor, bring back the Doctor, change him back, etc” it makes her look somewhat stupid. Clara saw him regenerate – and she still doesn’t get it? There have been more than one companion on Doctor Who who didn’t actually see the regeneration – but they still get that the Doctor is still the Doctor. The Brigadier, doesn’t actually see Troughton become Pertwee, but he accepts that Pertwee is the Doctor. He then sees Pertwee become Tom Baker, and not only accepts him immediately – but from that point on, he’s able to recognize the Doctor on sight, no matter who the Doctor is. In Mawdryn Undead, that the Brigadier doesn’t not recognize Peter Davison not because he’s “not Tom Baker” but because of the Blinovitch Limitation Effect (he meets himself and it short-circuits his brain). Though Mawdryn Undead is also the story where somebody got the dating of the UNIT stories completely wrong. Sigh.

So, in “Deep Breath”, Clara can’t accept that the new Doctor is the Doctor. From a character standpoint, that makes her look dumb because she saw it happen – and she still can’t believe it. But it’s also an issue in a meta sense, and Steven Moffat is a very meta writer. That Clara, the audience POV character, cannot accept the new Doctor, is Moffat’s slap-in-the-face reaction to his prediction that fans won’t like Capaldi. Moffat makes a lot of assumptions – fans won’t like Capaldi because he’s older, they won’t like him because he’s Scottish, etc, etc. That both puts a lot of weight on Capaldi’s shoulders (In effect, setting him up to fail and then on top of it saying, “And if the show tanks it’s all your fault.”) But it really undermines the audience and fans too – suggesting that they are too dumb to understand regeneration (they even use the term “renewed” instead) or that the audience is too fickle to also like a new, and older, Doctor.

But I was extremely excited to see a new Doctor, because I never really liked Matt Smith. But what I found was that, though I do like Capaldi’s take as The Doctor – I really, really don’t like Moffat as a showrunner and I want him gone. When I see him in interviews and doing PR for his show, he always seems very smug – but at the same time, he seems to really talk down to and not appreciate the fans. And it’s the fans and the audience – even the casual viewing audience that keep the show on the air and stronger than ever in terms of popularity. There’s other things I don’t like in what I’ve seen from Moffat (both on Doctor Who and occasionally on Sherlock).

However, another interesting take – both on the robots in “Deep Breath”, that the Doctor calls “a broom” and how the Doctor views his regeneration, is that by the end of the episode we do really understand what Clara’s lack of understanding is doing to the Doctor – and how her just up and leaving him would very much hurt him. I nearly cried when the Doctor talked about Clara seeing right through him and not seeing him. And, that tied back to Vastra talking to Clara through her veil – and Clara saying, “wait, when did you stop wearing your veil?” and Vastra responding, “When you stopped seeing it.” In other words, Clara began to accept Vastra for who she was, which allowed her to really see Vastra. Clara needed to really see the Doctor and accept him as the same person he always was, though he looks different. The phone call from the Eleventh Doctor, though a bit dicey in the logic department (how could the Doctor know that he’d need to call Clara or when and where to call her?). It made sense that Capaldi’s Doctor would remember the call – he made it, but how could Smith know? All I could think was somehow Capaldi’s Doctor sent a message to Matt Smith’s Doctor – which would explain him knowing his own future. That does, however, fly in the face of all the other multi-Doctor stories (The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, and the Two Doctors) where it’s clearly stated that the Doctor wouldn’t remember the events in his future once he “returned” to his past. But Capaldi’s reactions in that last scene just really got to me – it was brilliant!

Another aspect of “Deep Breath” was it introduced Missy. When I saw the season originally on BBCA, I really disliked Missy. I thought the interruptions with Missy made no sense whatsoever – but having seen the season finale “Dark Water” / “Death in Heaven” – “Deep Breath” made a lot more sense. The introduction of Missy really did work. Her later appearances were, “meh”, until the finale, but the introduction does actually work.

The rest of the season is very episodic and almost seems to check off a list (we have to have a Dalek one, and a scary one, and an SF/space one, etc), but having said that – I quite liked several of the individual stories. I enjoyed “Robot of Sherwood”, because, like Clara, I’m also a Robin Hood fan – I’m a fan of that legend. And I caught the reference in the title to the brilliant series, Robin of Sherwood as well as the tonal references to the classic movie The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn and Olivia deHaviland. And watching it again, I did notice that it was very sunny and warm-looking, which the Doctor states doesn’t look right for Nottingham Forest (makes perfect sense for Southern California though), so I do wonder where it was filmed, and since it was probably the UK – just how they got so lucky in the weather (or did they digitally grade the image to be brighter? Digital grading is usually used to make film darker, so I don’t even know if it can be used in reverse.) There was a lot of humor in the story, and using primitive technology to make a digital circuit was something we’d seen in “Fires of Pompeii”, but I felt the rest of the episode was so different it didn’t feel like a copy or a story stealing from a previous one. And the end was wonderful – and I don’t mean taking down a rocket ship with a bow and a golden arrow. I just loved Robin’s last conversation with the Doctor.

Robin: “Is it true? That in the future I am forgotten as a real man, I am but a legend?”

Doctor: “I’m afraid it is.”

Robin: “Hum. Good. History is a burden. Stories make us fly!”

Doctor: “I’m still having a little trouble believing yours, I’m afraid.”

Robin: “Is it so hard to credit? That a man, born into wealth and privilege can find the plight of the oppressed and weak too much to bear? Until one night he is moved to steal a TARDIS and fly among the stars, fighting the good fight. Clara told me your stories.”

Doctor: “She should not have told you any of that.”

Robin: “Well, once the stories started she could hardly stop herself. You are her hero, I think.”

Doctor: “I’m not a hero.”

Robin: “Well, neither am I. [long pause] But if we both keep pretending to be… perhaps, others will be heroes in our name. Perhaps we will both be stories. And may those stories never end.”

I really liked what that conversation had to say about stories, about heroes, and even how it showed the Doctor who had seemed almost prejudiced against Robin at the start, certainly dismissive of him, that he could finally see they had something in common.

“Listen” started as a very spooky episode, reminiscent of Classic Who, in a sense – until Clara grabs the Doctor’s ankle in the barn – and tells him it’s all just a dream. Yet again, we’re back to “Clara, Clara, Clara”, where everything is about her. Also, I didn’t understand why the Doctor would be sleeping in a barn, or why his parents’ house would even have a barn. We’ve seen Gallifrey before, and I don’t remember seeing a lot of barns.

Which is not to say I don’t like Clara or Jenna, the actress. I actually quite like Clara and I really like Jenna – she’s working with what she’s given, and Moffat has a very tight control over even his writers and directors – micro-managing them, and telling them how to do their jobs (watch the special features, it’s clear that Moffat micro-manages everyone, even Mark Gatiss, his partner on Sherlock and a long-time Doctor Who writer). The “Clara always provides the answer / Clara always saves everyone” is almost like what I’ve heard people say about Wesley on Star Trek the Next Generation, even the actor playing him – Wil Wheaton said, publically, on several occasions – “stop having Wesley save the ship every episode!”  It does a dis-service to the character of Clara to make her in charge most of the time.

“Time Heist” is clearly this season’s attempt to do a Caper Film, and it somewhat works – it even works when you know what the real goal of the heist is – and part of it sets up “In the Forest of the Night”.

“The Caretaker” was interesting in that almost the entire focus of the episode seems to be the conflict between Danny Pink and the Doctor. It’s at this point that the season does, in some ways, seem to resemble a sitcom (“This is Clara, a school teacher, and this is her boyfriend, Danny, and this is her ex-boyfriend who’s now her “crazy neighbor” the Doctor”) – that aspect of it, and of all the “Let’s base several stories on Earth, and show that Clara is continuing her normal life in between rushing off with the Doctor.” I mean, to me, that almost felt like she wasn’t a real companion then – leaving the Doctor to be very lonely.

“Kill the Moon” just made no sense – no sense at all. Even Clara’s choice of a method of communication is a bit dim – since the electric companies could over-rule what anyone decides individually. Having a Pheonix born from the moon was cool-looking, but it made no logical sense whatsoever.

“Mummy on the Orient Express” was another of my favorite episodes this season. It was really, the first time, we see the Doctor having a major role in the story. Clara gets locked in a storage closet for most of the episode, so she’s not really doing anything. And the end was a bit open-ended, which was both weird and a good way to further reflect on the Doctor’s character.

I didn’t really like “Flatline” because I felt the end was highly out of character for the Doctor. Since when does the Doctor commit genocide (other than, OK, yes, the occasional Dalek army)? I liked seeing Capaldi insist he was the protector of Earth (though again, we’ve seen that before, in “The Christmas Invasion”, Tennant’s first story) but to do that and completely destroy an entire other dimension of intelligent beings? Why?

“In the Forest of the Night” was weird the first time I saw it last year. This time around, I did still think it was more like a Torchwood story – but it was still cool to have that message of the “weird, alien trees are actually helping not invading” – which, in general, is more common on Doctor Who in some way, shape or form, than the previous story, which was “they are alien – kill them.”

“Dark Water”/”Death in Heaven” was pretty awesome. It was just awesome. Finally, everything gets wrapped up from the season (all the little Missy snippets, even the nonsensical ones now at least work in context) and it’s a complex story. Osgood’s end was frightening and upsetting – but I heard she’s coming back anyway (I’m guessing Missy’s gadget was a teleporter not a disintegrater ray). I was very glad to see Kate survive (I love Kate, I really do. She’s a great character). But Danny’s death I found very upsetting. And Missy’s treatment of the Doctor too. I found myself crying at the end of “Death in Heaven”.

I’d say that the overall theme of Series 8, wasn’t Missy – it was, “Who is the Doctor”? A concept that Moffat seems to be totally obsessed by. Remember all the “Doctor Who? Doctor Who? Doctor Who?” references throughout the Matt Smith era? But going over all the very diverse stories here, there is a common thread – and that is, who is the Doctor? Because he has a new face, does that make him someone else? (Deep Breath) Yet another Dalek telling the Doctor he’d “make a good Dalek” (Into the Dalek), cynical scientist (Robot of Sherwood), scared old man (Listen), honorable thief (Time Heist), Caretaker and Protector of Earth (The Caretaker), Disinterested bystander (Kill the Moon), Detective (Mummy on the Orient Express), the good scientist (In the Forest of the Night), stuck in his box/ Protector (Flatline), and then the season finale, which, really, brought up the Doctor’s old friendships – the Brigadier, Kate Stewart, Missy/the Master.

Doctor Who Series 8 comes with a full disc of extras, commentaries, and Disc One (“Deep Breath” only) contains several extras as well. It’s highly recommended. Do buy it and enjoy!

Tomorrow Never Dies

  • Title:  Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Director:  Roger Spottiswoode
  • Date:  1997
  • Studio:  United Artists / MGM
  • Genre:  Action
  • Cast:  Pierce Brosnan, Teri Hatcher, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yoeh, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, Colin Salmon, Geoffrey Palmer, Vincent Schiavelli
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

“Mr. Jones, Are we ready to release our new software?”  – Carver
“Yes, sir. As requested it’s full of bugs, which means people will be forced to upgrade for years.” – Jones

“Gentleman, and ladies, hold the presses. This just in. By a curious quirk of fate, we have the perfect story with which to launch our satellite news network tonight. It seems a small crisis is brewing in the South China Seas. I want full newspaper coverage. I want magazine stories. I want books. I want films. I want TV. I want radio. I want us on the air 24 hours a day! This is out moment! And a billion people around the world will watch it, hear it, and read about it from the Carver Media Group.” – Carver

Tomorrow Never Dies is my favorite Pierce Brosnan James Bond film, and it’s one of the best James Bond films in the modern era because for once it has a relatively realistic premise – told in the high-action style of James Bond, of course. The film is about Elliot Carver, a media mogul played brilliantly by Jonathan Pryce, who isn’t merely reporting events, or even spinning events to fit his own point of view, but actually causing the events his media group reports.

For once the opening gambit of a James Bond movie actually fits with the rest of the plot. One of the items up for sale at a terrorist bazaar in Russia is a satellite encoder, which can influence (or change) GPS data. James Bond manages to locate the bazaar, and launch and take away a plane loaded with nuclear missiles prior to the British Navy’s missile destroying the bazaar and the terrorists who are shopping there. However, though the analysts see the encoder, and recognize what it is – they don’t realize it wasn’t destroyed and that Henry Gupta – a hacker for hire escaped with it.

The encoder is important because it allows the next major event to happen. A British ship, HMS Devonshire, is cruising in what it thinks are international waters off the coast of China. The ship is overflown by Chinese migs who insist they are only 11 miles off the coast of China. The Devonshire‘s captain double checks their position with GPS – and then they are attacked and sunk by a stealth ship. The British ship reports they were attacked by the migs, and gives their position before calling abandon ship. The survivors are collected by Stamper, Carver’s thug and enforcer, and shot with Chinese ammo. Carver reports on the developing crisis – using the potential for war, to launch his satellite news network.

James Bond is sent to investigate – first to Hamburg, where he’s instructed to get close to Carver’s wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), with whom he had previously had a relationship. Paris gives him some information, and is killed for her trouble by Carver. While investigating, Bond runs into a Chinese reporter, Wai Lin. Later it will turn out she’s his opposite number, an agent for the Chinese security service. Bond’s able to get the GPS encoder and escape from Hamburg.

He takes the encoder to the CIA, because it’s an American device. Bond’s CIA contact shows it to a tech, who confirms it could have been used to send the Devonshire off course. The CIA also arranges to drop Bond into the Ocean to find the ship’s wreckage. The Americans assume Bond is jumping into international waters, but one of the British naval officers on the flight realizes he’s actually jumping in to waters belonging to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Bond succeeds in his HALO jump. He find the Devonshire and runs into the Chinese woman again. The two are caught by Stamper, and brought to Carver. They escape, handcuffed together, on a motorcycle. Bond and Wai Lin end-up working together, sending warning messages to both the British and Chinese governments that Carver’s playing them against each other, then head out to locate Carver’s stealth boat.

Bond and Wai Lin plan on blowing up the stealth boat with sea bombs, but are again caught by Carver and his goons. Carver explains his entire plot – not only is he using the crisis he created to “sell papers” and successfully launch his news network – but he’s working with a Chinese general. Carver’s stealth boat will launch an attack on the British fleet (after some initial minor attacks on both fleets) it will then use one of the cruise missiles stolen from the Devonshire to attack Beijing – wiping out the current government and military leaders, except Carver’s general who will be conveniently stuck in traffic. After setting up his new government, the general will grant Carver exclusive media access in China – creating a captive audience worth billions. In short, Carver is creating events, for ratings.

Wai Lin and Bond again escape Carver’s clutches and manage to kill Carver and his muscleman, Stamper, and sink the ship before the cruise missile is launched.

Tomorrow Never Dies isn’t lacking for action sequences as well. They include: Bond and Wei Lin handcuffed together, on a motorcycle, riding through a densely-populated area while being chased by Carver’s men; Bond using a remote control built into his (rather ancient-looking) cell phone to control his car; even Bond’s escape from Carver in Hamburg; and the scenes on the stealth ship, of course. All the big action sequences one expects from a Bond film – and they are well done, technically, and because we care about Bond and Wei Lin – they work in the film too. The action sequences are not overly long, overly complicated, nor do they have effects that no longer work – everything looks really good. So the film satisfies on the level of what a Bond film should be. But what I really liked about the film was the villain and the plot. Elliot Carver is a totally unscrupulous reporter turned media mogul, who’s incredibly psychopathic. Throughout the film we see him fire people for “mistakes” that aren’t their own (such as the woman who’s fired for not knowing what caused the power outage during his media launch party) or even kill any one who gets in the way of his plans, including his own wife. And, of course, he’s willing to sink a British warship, cause a crisis, and risk world war – just to get what he wants, complete power. Throughout the film – Carver gets the best lines, as he explains how the press can not only manipulate events to suit their own corporate purposes – but in Carver’s case, cause events in the first place. Pryce is delicious as Carver.

I also really liked Michelle Yoeh as Wai Lin – the Chinese agent who’s a female Bond. Wei Lin is just as smart as James, and just as dedicated to her country. And I’d watch a film or two about her! Yoeh also plays the part brilliantly.

And, like all of Brosnan’s films, the reoccurring roles of M, Q, Moneypenny, and M’s aide, are all played by excellent regulars. I love seeing Judi Dench as M. Samantha Bond is excellent as Moneypenny. And I really like seeing Colin Salmon as Dench’s aide – even when he has little to do as in this film. Geoffrey Palmer, Dench’s frequent co-star in British comedies, also appears as a British Admiral. Having the new Bond family there, as well as Desmond Llewelyn as Q just makes the Bond film a Bond film, as well as adding that unique something they all bring to it.

Recommendation:  See it
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film: Top Hat 

Agile Update – Week 32

I know I’ve been saying that I need to get back in to exercising for weeks – but this week I finally did, and I’m proud of myself. I exercised once this week, one set of yoga and one set of pilates back to back for a total of 20 minutes of exercise. That might not sound like much, but it’s been nearly a month since I’ve done anything, so it was a very good start for me. I also found I remembered more about doing yoga that I thought I would, and I had enough energy after my set to also do a pilates set for arms and shoulders using hand weights. It felt good to be back at exercising. So this week the goal is to exercise at least twice, and preferably three times.

This past week was also great for writing. I wrote three posts on this blog, and a book review on GoodReads. So that’s four items. One of the blog posts was a great synthesis – assembling information from a number of sources to put together a list of the new Doctor Who books reprints and what lines the books originally came from, as well as the Doctors and companions in each story.

Professional development also went well – and I read a great article on-line about Agile and commented on an “Agile Question of the Day” blog post. It’s good to get back to my professional development  work.

I’m happy about my accomplishments for last week.

The Flash (1990) DVD Review

  • Series Title: The Flash
  • Season: The Complete Series (Season 1)
  • Episodes:  22
  • Discs:  6
  • Network: CBS (Warner Brothers Television)
  • Cast:  John Wesley Shipp, Amanda Pays, Alex Désert, Richard Belzer, Vito D’Ambrosio, Biff Manard, Mike Genovese
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

This is the original The Flash television series from 1990, based on the DC Comics Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen. I remember watching the series in 1990, and liking it because it was very over-the-top and funny.  Unfortunately, re-watching the series, it does not live up to even that sense of nostalgia, and there’s no other way to say it – it’s just pretty bad.

One of the problems with the program is the utter lack of women and minorities (I’ll get to Dr. Christina McGee and Julio Mendez in a moment). The Central City police department doesn’t appear to employ a single female officer. Not one. They also don’t appear to employ any minorities at all. The two street cops, Bellows and Murphy, have the bumbling quality that brings to mind early 1960s comedy cop shows such as Car 54, Where Are You? Murphy, in addition, is the stereotypical Irish Cop – at least he doesn’t speak with a phony leprechaun accent, which would have taken it from a bad stereotype to an offensive one.

Dr. Christina (Tina) McGee, played by Amanda Pays, whom I normally like (she was also in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future) tries so hard in The Flash, but her part is nothing more than the token Strong Woman ™. She’s a scientist, and we know this because every time we see her she’s in a white lab coat and normally Barry sees her at Star Labs. This is one case where I would have liked to have seen a bit of romance between Barry and Tina, because at least that would have given Tina something to do. Tina spends all her time worrying about Barry, especially his health, and occasionally helping him on cases by running lab results (something Barry, as a forensic scientist, should be able to do himself), breaking into computer systems, or, occasionally getting captured. It’s sad, and a thankless role.

Julio Mendez, is Barry’s friend and colleague at the Central City police department. Though I liked seeing an African American as an intelligent, educated character who works for the police department, unfortunately, he’s even more of a token role than Tina. We rarely see Julio actually doing anything at Barry’s lab. His only role seems to be setting Barry up on blind dates. And he has no idea that Barry is The Flash.

Even with the art deco set and location design (although the Pac-Man font that appears occasionally definitely doesn’t fit with Art Deco) the show is definitely set contemporously, that is, in 1990, so the lack of real women and real minorities just glares.

The early half of the series, also, makes the mistake of trying to make the Flash simply a supercop. And having Barry use his speed to catch everyday criminals simply doesn’t work. In addition, the pilot introduces Barry’s family – Nora Allen – his mother, his father, and his brother Jay, who is also a cop. Jay’s killed in the pilot, which becomes Barry’s motivation for becoming a crime-fighter. But Barry’s father is a real jerk. Mr. Allen constantly compares Barry to Jay and comes up wanting. He also insults Barry for being a scientist and not a real cop (in his father’s view). It’s painful and sad to watch. The pilot also introduces Iris, an arty type, who disappears to study painting in Paris and we never see again. You’d think that getting rid of Iris would free Barry for a relationship with Tina – but no. This Flash is a solo man with no girlfriend.

The second half of the series, which introduces super-villains to challenge the Flash is an improvement. Yes, the series still as problems, but introducing characters like The Ghost, Nightshade (a friendly hero who helps the Flash), Mirror Master, Captain Cold, and of course, The Trickster, at least makes it slightly more watchable – and on occasion almost getting to the level of “pretty good” despite the glaring issues.

Mark Hamill is way, way over the top in the episode, “The Trickster”, but in the final episode of the series, “The Trial of the Trickster” he returns, dials it back a bit, and becomes wonderful. The series final episode is it’s best by far – which is the saddest thing about this show – it had potential, and was definitely starting to find it’s own feet when it was cancelled. “The Trial of the Trickster” also introduces Prank, a women who is heir to a toy store fortune and completely obsessed with the Trickster. She becomes his partner in crime and frees him from jail before his trial. She’s also the driving force of much of his rampage in his encore performance, providing weapons, materials, semi-deadly pranks and jokes, getaway vehicles, etc. Although in the first episode, “The Trickster”, Prank was a figment of James Jesse’s imagination – and his obsession with having an assistant caused him to kidnap and turn private detective Megan Lockhart into his “Prank”; in “The Trial of the Trickster”, Prank is a real character, though with very little background. And she’s completely obsessed with and possibly in love with the Trickster – despite his treating her terribly and not caring about her. If you’re familiar with the DC Animated Universe, you can see where this is going – the Trickster-Prank relationship seems to me to have inspired both the character of Harley Quinn and her relationship with the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. (and Hamill played The Joker throughout Batman: The Animated Series and many subsequent Warner Brothers Animated DC films.) If all of the 1990 The Flash series had been up to the quality of it’s final episode, the series might have lasted a bit longer.

Another episode I’d like to discuss is number 15, “Fast Forward”. In the episode, Pike, the violent biker from the pilot is released from prison on a technicality. During the Flash’s conflict with Pike, he fires a heat-seeking missile at the Flash. In attempting to out-run the missile, Flash travels 10 years into the future. There, Central City has become a cesspool of violence, crime, sex, gambling, and it’s also the personal playground of “Mayor Pike” who runs the city as his own, personal fiefdom. Yes, it’s very reminiscent of Back to the Future Part II (with Biff running Marty’s hometown). But what I found interesting about it was I couldn’t help but think of the modern day The Flash (2014) episode where Barry slips into the future and prevents a tidal wave from destroying Central City but is completely unaware that Wells “kills” Cisco. In the 1990 The Flash episode, Julio is killed in the future, and we’re pretty sure Tina is as well but her experiment completely negates that future by returning Barry back in time a few minutes earlier – so he can prevent Pike from firing the missile. The 1990 The Flash episode was typical for the show, but it made me a bit disappointed in the new 2014 series that they’d actually updated an episode from the original series. Don’t get me wrong, the modern episode is awesome, and when I saw it, I thought it was one of the best of the 2014 The Flash episodes, but it now disappoints me to find out that story wasn’t as original as it seemed.

Overall, The Flash (1990) is a disappointment. It’s full of melodramatic dialogue and acting, and the subtle but impossible to ignore lack of women and minorities is disturbing and upsetting. The best episode is definitely it’s last. If you can find the episodes “The Trickster” and “The Trial of the Trickster”, especially the second one, on-line somewhere they are worth watching, but the series is not really worth buying.

Doctor Who Books – New Reprints

Earlier on this blog I wrote a number of entries, lists really, of the various ranges of Doctor Who books. However, those books, especially those published by Virgin Publishing are now long out of print. For new Doctor Who fans, or even for established Doctor Who fans looking to fill holes in their collection, they can be hard to find, and often demand inflated collectors’ prices.

Never fear though, as a result of the 50th Anniversary bringing attention to the entirety of the program, BBC books has started to release a series of series of books reprinting classic adventures from previous book series. Reading the individual book description will tell you what Doctor and sometimes what companions are featured in the books, but details such as which book series the title came from originally are missing. This list aims to fill in that gap. Listed below are the book series that I know of with their titles (Anniversary, Monster, and History collections) the books in each series, the Doctor for each book, the companions (if known), and the original book series it came from (such as the Past Doctor Adventures or the Missing Adventures). Please see my other posts on the subject for information on those book series, specifically. Also, I’m including links to articles about each series of books from which I assembled this list. Where necessary I also consulted Amazon, especially in regards to the History Collection.  Please inform me in the comments of any corrections or additions. Thank you.

Doctor Who the 50th Anniversary Collection

See this article (off-site):  50th Anniversary Fiction Book Collection Article

The following titles are in this collection:

Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole – First Doctor with Ben and Polly; reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adv.

Dreams of Empire by Justin Richards – Second Doctor with Jaime and Victoria; reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adv.

Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss –Third Doctor with Jo and UNIT; reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adv.

Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris – Fourth Doctor with the Second Romana and K-9; reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adv.

Fear of the Dark by Trevor Baxendale – Fifth Doctor with Tegan and Nyssa; reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adv.

Players by Terrance Dicks – Sixth Doctor with Peri; reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adv.

Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch – Seventh Doctor with Ace. Novelisation of the aired episode. Possibly a re-print of the Target Novelisation.

Earthworld by Jacqueline Rayner. Eighth Doctor with Fitz and Anji; reprint of BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures.

Only Human by Gareth Roberts. Ninth Doctor. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books).

Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell. Tenth Doctor. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books).

The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett. Eleventh Doctor. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books).

Doctor Who – The Monster Collection

See also this article (off-site):  BBC Books Monster Collection

Sting of the Zygons by Stephen Cole.  Tenth Doctor with Martha. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books).

Prisoner of the Daleks by Trevor Baxendale. Tenth Doctor. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books).

Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris.  Eleventh Doctor with Amy and Rory. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books).

Shakedown by Terrance Dicks. Seventh Doctor, with Dr. Bernice Summerfield, Chris, and Roz. Reprint of Virgin Publishing New Adventures featuring the Seventh Doctor.

Corpse Marker by Chris Boucher. – Fourth Doctor and Leela. Reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adventures.

Illegal Alien by Mike Tucker & Robert Perry. – Seventh Doctor and Ace. Reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adventures. This is the first in a mini-series within the BBC Past Doctor Adventures featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace. Here is a list of the rest of the series. So far these have not been reprinted recently.

  • Matrix – Mike Tucker & Robert Perry
  • Storm Harvest – Mike Tucker & Robert Perry
  • Prime Time – Mike Tucker
  • Loving the Alien – Mike Tucker & Robert Perry

Sands of Time by Justin Richards. Fifth Doctor, with Tegan, and Nyssa. Reprint of Virgin Publishing, Doctor Who the Missing Adventures.

Scales of Injustice by Gary Russell. Third Doctor, with Liz and UNIT. Reprint of Virgin Publishing, Doctor Who the Missing Adventures.

Doctor Who – The History Collection

This is the newest collection of reprints and is on-going. For more see this article (off site):  History Collection Article 1

Here is another article (off-site) on the subject:  History Collection Article 2

The Witch Hunters by Steve Lyons. First Doctor, with Ian, Barbara, and Susan. Reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adventures.

Human Nature by Paul Cornell. Seventh Doctor with Dr. Bernice Summerfield. Reprint of Virgin Publishing New Adventures featuring the Seventh Doctor.

The Shadow in the Glass by Justin Richards and Stephen Cole. Sixth Doctor with the Brigadier. Reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adventures.

Amorality Tale by David Bishop. Third Doctor with Sarah Jane. Reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adventures.

The English Way of Death by Gareth Roberts. Fourth Doctor with Romana II and K-9. Reprint of Virgin Publishing, Doctor Who the Missing Adventures.

The Roundheads by Mark Gatiss. Second Doctor with Ben, Polly, and Jaime. Reprint of BBC Past Doctor Adventures.

The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner. Tenth Doctor with Rose. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books).

Dead of Winter by James Goss. Eleventh Doctor with Amy and Rory. Reprint of New Series Adventures (BBC Books)

Agile Update – Week 31

Last week was a good week for writing, with three blog posts (Agile and two reviews one of The Mentalist and the other of Framed) and a book review on GoodReads. I also read one professional development article in the Society for Technical Communication’s magazine, Intercom and I should be able to get caught up with reading it this week.

I didn’t get back to exercising this week, again, but I know that I need to do that.

I am finding this Agile project to still be very useful and helpful though. I still like the positive emphasis, and I did have some success with another aspect of what I’ve been working on in my professional life that I’ve pretty much kept off line. I also think it’s an excellent way to remind oneself how to balance all the various projects one is working on. I do think it can be adapted to almost any need to track accomplishments towards a goal.

Framed Review

Previously posted on 9/30/2012 on my LiveJournal.

  • Title: Framed
  • Format:  TV Movie (90 Minutes)
  • Discs: 1
  • Cast: Trevor Eve, Eve Myles
  • Network:  BBC / Masterpiece Contemporary (PBS)

Framed is a wonderful story, filmed in gorgeous Welsh countryside. When the National Gallery in London is flooded, curator Quentin Lester proposes temporarily moving the paintings to a cave in Northern Wales, just as they were during World War II during the London Blitz. Upon arriving in Wales, Quentin in thrown into a completely alien world. Always more at home with priceless works of art than people, the characters of the town pull Quentin out of his shell. And as he realizes that art is to be shared not hidden away, and shared with everyone – rich or poor, Quentin’s perspective changes.

From the strange butcher who’s inspired by an Impressionist painting to re-open the town’s lake-side park, to a pair of ancient sisters who discover the “worthless” painting they own is actually a priceless one that went missing the last time the paintings were stored in the town – everyone is changed. Quentin begins to fall for the beautiful, clever, and enigmatic schoolteacher played by Eve Myles. In the end, not only are the townspeople changed, but so is Quentin.

During the painting’s exile, one painting a month was shipped back to London. There Londoners would queue up to see one painting, one masterpiece. After the Gallery is cleaned, dried, and repaired, the paintings are shipped back. However, Quentin is instrumental in starting a new program – he has one painting a month moved to the town in Wales and displayed for the people to see – in different venues around the town. Quentin Lester, a man who once stated that art was “for those who can appreciate it”, has come to realize that art is for anybody and for all. That beauty is something that anyone – rich or poor, from urban areas or the countryside, young or old, can appreciate. And, really, since they rarely see such treasures, the folks of the town are more appreciative than the bored school children on field trips in the city.

Framed is filmed in Wales, and the scenery is breath-takingly beautiful. Every outdoor scene is simply gorgeous – the mountains, hills, clouds, sky and everything is incredible. I loved the shades of green and grey everywhere. Definitely something that makes one want to visit Wales.