Weekly Ramble No. 23

I caught up with Doctor Who once I got back from my holidays. The second to last episode featuring the genesis of the cybermen and the return of John Simms as the Master was absolutely brilliant. Thoroughly atmospheric with great music and great dialogue. All the main actors were great and I think it was the best episode of this series.

It was inspired how they turned a rather naff original creature costume – i.e. a bloke with a sock over his head and a tin hat on – into something very creepy. I also liked the teardrop on the eye frame which links this costume to the new cybermen design – although perhaps i’m reading too much into this as it turned out that Bill wasn’t crying her own tears and the significance became clear in the last episode.

The last episode didn’t hang together so well with Missy and the Master conveniently shaping their own demise and indeed seemed to leave Nardole in a bit of a predicament. I liked the call back of the pilot from earlier in the series to give Bill the same sort of ending that Clara got. When was the last time a companion was just straight out killed I wonder? The episode smacked a little too much of clearing the decks for the new boos to take over.

Yesterday’s announcement (once it finally happened after Federer did us all a favour and thrashed the Croatian at tennis and then Sue Barker and the team stretched out the after-match coverage until Twitter was in turmoil with ‘get on with it!’ comments) was a bit ‘meh’ for me. Yes it’s great that it’s a woman but for me Jodie Whittaker is too ‘safe’ – like Peter Davidson being cast after Tom Baker. I would’ve preferred Michelle Gomez to somehow be cast as the 13th regeneration, or Olivia Coleman, or Helen Mirram. No but let’s get a Broadchurch buddy on board – I can even see an obvious ‘two doctors’ style episode happening with David Tennant.

Of course I am looking forward to Whittaker’s series – she was great in Black Mirror and Attack the Block – and hoping she gets some better scripts than Capaldi seemed to get before they had a hiatus and delivered a cracking last series helped immensely by Matt Lucas and Pearl Mackie. Wibbly wobbly timy whimy stuff will tell I suppose.

While we’re waiting here’s an interesting video (which of course I’m inclined to disagree with) from WhatCulture ranking all the Doctors – come on we’ve all done it! –

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut better known perhaps for Slaughterhouse 5 was a real off the wall science fiction tale too strange perhaps even for Doctor Who but with a certain parallel in that an army of Mars is created where humans are controlled by brain implants reiceing comands through their antennae at the push of a controller’s button.

chrono-synclastic infundibulum throws space traveller Rumfoord into a strange existence periodically appearing with his dog in a ghostly form on earth and being able to see all that has been and ever will be. Rumfoord manipulates the fate of his wife and billionaire Malachi Constant through a series of unfortunate events culminating on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.

There they meet a Tralfamadorian explorer who is also mentioned in Slaughterhouse 5 and is missing a part for his flying saucer. it turns out that the whole of history human civilisation has been manipulated by the Tralfamadorian in his attempts to signal his people to ask for the spare. Along the way Rumfoord creates his own religion and the tale feels very allegorical at times. The fact that Rumfoord himself is being manipulated is quite hilarious.

Batman – Hush (Volume One) by Joseph Loeb, pencilled by Jim Lee and inked by Scott Williams contains chapters 1 to 5 of one of comic book history’s most anticipated collaborations. I bought it off a mate thinking it was the complete ‘graphic novel’ and so have subsequently ordered Volume Two off the internet. I read it in one late night and early morning stint.

It’s a beautifully illustrated book featuring some of the most iconic characters in DC history. Catwoman and Poison Ivy are eye-poppingly rendered and would’ve have appealed to my teenage sensibilities had the comic come out way back then. The Huntress makes a fleeting appearance to help Batman out of a tricky situation and Killer Croc has mutated into something even more terrible – so grotesque it’s hard to make out his features at times. I think I’ve figured out already who the shadowy bad guy is, but I’ll have to wait for the second instalment to find out.

Meanwhile, not in Gotham City, but quite near Gotham as it happens, I have started dallying with Arkham Knight on the PS4. I’m not totally sold at present, it’s quite ‘samey’ in comparison to previous instalments, the grappling hook is on the opposite button to Assassins Creed: Syndicate so I keep calling the Batmobile by mistake and I’m not a big fan of the Scarecrow – who appears to be the main baddie in this iteration.

Given that we’ve been catching up on so much TV, it was hard to find the time to watch any films. However, I did watch Youth in Revolt last night with Siggy. It’s a 2009 comedy starring Michael Cera as nerdy Nick Twisp, who meets Sheeni the girl of his dreams (played by Mr Robot‘s Portia Doubleday when on a trailer park ‘holiday’.

Nick develops a rebellious moustached alter ego called Francois who leads him on a path of destruction with hilarious consequences to win Sheeni’s love. The cast is pretty impressive with Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers, Die Hard 4.0), Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis and Ray Liotta all making decent appearances.

Today I had a plan. I was going to get up early and watch the first new episode of Game of Thrones recorded from the 2am showing on Sky Atlantic. As it happened I slept in longer than anticipated and so had to go into work unsatiated. I watched it as soon as I got home and was certainly not disappointed.

It pretty much carries on from where the last episode of the previous season stopped. It gives all the main characters a decent portion of screen time each and helps to remind the viewers where we’re up to. i won’t give any spoilers – suffice to say winter has arrived…

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