Sunday, December 30, 2007

A New Year's Gift

AnnaWaits's Review of 2007 - downloadable from Megaupload.

I wouldn't expect this to be a regular feature... something you'll probably be very happy about once you've heard it!

I might delete it after a while. Not, as in Dean's case, out of copyright considerations... just embarrassment. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Doctor Who: Voyage Of The Damned

I kept hearing that this was better than The Christmas Invasion (AKA The most entertaining piece of TV I've probably ever seen.) I thought it was unlikely and you know what.... well, it wasn't as good.

Nevertheless, there was loads to enjoy. It was a *stunning* disaster movie - fire, "peril", and a remarkable and surprising amount of death... I thought that the Hosts were a bit rubbish at first, but that scene on the rickety bridge when the motley crew armed themselves and played galactic baseball brought a huge delighted smile to my face. And Kylie. Yes, she may have veered from rather brilliant to rather awful, but who cares, it's Kylie and the Doctor. Kylie and the Doctor. I mean RTD needs a knighthood for the sheer audacity of it. There was the RTD classic rubbish denoument, of course, and to be honest it didn't really feel like an episode of Doctor Who; it was Doctor Who Does Towering Inferno - but then Christmas is the time to do that. This posts sounds a lot more negative than I mean, as I seem to recall a lot of problems with it, but be assured, dear readers, I loved it.

And am very much looking forward to the killer bees...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Gift from Dean...

And what a good one it is. Get it while it's hot, as it's only up for a week.

Merry Christmas all!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

BBC Christmas Idents 1980-2006

Wow, huge credit to bdavebaldwin for putting together these videos. You'll be surprised at how many you remember, and saddened that this year's aren't nearly so inventive as a lot of these.... I love the one where kids dressed as snowflakes are lowered from the ceiling - they're meant to look they then run around with the other snowflakes, but can't because of the harness so just flail their arms around. It's brilliant! (keep your eye on the middle one, part two, 5 mins 47 secs).

Part 1: 1980-1993

Part 2: 1994-2006

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Russell Brand

If you missed Have I Got News For You last night, definitely give the extended version a watch tonight. Jack Dee and Paul Merton seemed to be annoyed he was there, for some reason, but the fact was, he gave the show the shot in the arm (no pun intended) that it sorely needs at the moment.

Also, try and catch a repeat of his interview with Dawn French on BBC Four (Dawn French's More Boys Who Do: Comedy). Strip away the thin veneer of his exaggerated persona, and you find an intelligent, loving, interested and interesting man who just wants us all to get along.... awww.

This has to happen

Pullman to write for Doctor Who? Come on RTD - get it sorted!!

Pullman does mention the fact that Rose's ending displayed more than a passing resemblance to the HDM ending, but says he's 'flattered' by it. He might have been more flattered, you assume, if the similarity was acknowledged in some way, no matter how tiny. They should have named a zeppelin Pullman, I reckon.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Heroes Meets Torchwood

Clever bit of advertising from the Beeb!

(Via TV Today)


He's a font of media knowledge, dontchaknow :)

P.S. I am around, just been sorting out some open days and forms for postgrad places and stuff... but all's the same with me. Just talk amongst yourselves ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rose is back! Rose is back!


(I'll get all cynical about the decision to bring her back later; for now I'm just enjoying the moment...)

Amadeus, Sheffield Crucible, 24/11

(also on MusicOMH :D)

When the Sheffield Crucible enters the next stage of a huge re-development in the new year, its vast stage will go dark for 18 months, leaving a gaping hole in Yorkshire's cultural landscape.
Since Michael Grandage arrived as Artistic Director, a space perhaps best known as the home of the World Snooker Championships has become one of the most vibrant producing theatres in the country - work continued by Sam West.

It seems important, then, that this last production before the temporary closure - Peter Shaffer's Amadeus - is one to be proud of. The producers at the Crucible appear to be aware that this is a special moment, as they have brought together a cast and crew that regular attendees will recognise.

Directing is Nikolai Foster, who spent three years at the Crucible as Resident Director, and whose work there - including a wonderful production of the Sondheim musical Assassins - I have always enjoyed. The two lead roles are also taken by actors who are no strangers to Sheffield: Mozart himself is played by Bryan Dick, who appeared in the Crucible production of Lear, and Gerard Murphy, seen in Assassins, plays Antonio Salieri.

As always seems to be the case at the Crucible, the look of this production is stunning. As an elderly Salieri recounts his younger years as court composer, tortured by Mozart's precocious talent, the decadence of 18th century Vienna is evoked, without being an assault on the eyes; a host of burning candles hang above the action throughout, giving the feel of intimate parlours.

During the first half, however, I was concerned that the style of the production wasn't entirely matched by the content. It has been pointed out in other reviews that the complaint made in this play about Mozart's work - that there are 'two many notes' - brings to mind the fact that this play may just contain 'too many words', and I have to admit that at times I found myself thinking the same thing. The first half, as beautiful as it looked, often lacked pace.

But things improved massively after the interval. For a start, things could not stay disappointing for long in the hands of the two lead actors. Dick has already shone both on stage and on screen, and he has proved his talent again here. As the young Wolfgang, he is both immature, irritating and far too sure of himself, and yet at the same time somehow utterly mesmerising. When the established composer Salieri plays him a little march on the piano, Mozart can instantly recall it, and instantly improve on it. Giggling as he improvises, Mozart clearly has no idea of the torture he is inflicting on Salieri.

This torture is portrayed as a physical pain by Murphy. The irony is that, after being universally praised as a child, Mozart actually fell out of favour as he grew up, and Salieri was the one who gained all the plaudits. But no amount of fame or fortune can appease Salieri: precisely because of his own musical talent, he can appreciate Mozart's, and it is killing him.

Amadeus poses the question of whether Salieri actually killed Mozart, as he himself asserted at the end of his life, and states that no, he didn't deliver the poison, but he actively made life as hard as possible for the young maestro. As Salieri's crusade against Mozart becomes more and more reprehensible, the pace quickens, and as such our interest also increases - it makes for an uneven night, but at least the trajectory is upwards.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Doncaster: Not big enough to support a theatre

What. What? WHAT? Yes, according to our lovely council, that's true. Except it's not, is it? Doncaster is one of the biggest boroughs in England. What you're actually saying, lovely councillors, is that Doncaster doesn't have the right demographic for a theatre. You're happy to spend millions on re-doing the racecourse, and building a new - admittedly impressive - football stadium for Doncaster Rovers, because, well, we're more of sports crowd, ain't we, but there just aren't enough people in this town who would go see a play. Coun Paul Bissett has said as much: "I don't we are in this moment in time a theatre-going culture."

And what does he use as evidence for this? The fact that the Doncaster Civic Theatre only attracts 75,000 visitors a year. But why might that be? Might it be because it is mainly used for local productions and panto? Let's look at what happens when Doncaster hosts a top level event of national quality - such as when The Strokes or The Zutons turn up, or Jimmy Carr, or when the Royal Shakespeare Company tour comes to The Dome. Oh what a surprise, they sell out! Shocking! But no, opposition Councillor Tony Brown, who sits on the Economy and Enterprise panel simply says: "What's wrong with the Civic? For a town the size of Doncaster it's a good little theatre." What vision!

Yes a new theatre would re-generate a currently run-down area of town, and yes it might just kick start a 'theatre-going culture', but even if that's all true, our lovely councillors have another reason for not going ahead with the plans. Here's good old Coun Brown again: "Our track record on managing things hasn't been that good in the past; at the best it's been questionable and at the worst it's been diabolical."

Oh. Well. Better leave it, then.

Look what's linked to on the BBC Three page...

Bottom left. :D

Monday, November 19, 2007


Cranford the place is a little northern town, occupied mainly by women, where nothing much happens, but where everyone is infinitely concerned with the little events that do occur - meaning Judi Dench's character Miss Matty Jenkyns can say, without a hint of sarcasm: "It is all go in Cranford!" Everyone is stuck in their ways and so are completely thrown into a state of near-hysteria when three newcomers arrive in the town.

Every single performance, from Philip Glenister to Imelda Staunton's gossipy Miss Pole, is masterly, but the star of the show is Miss Deborah Jenkyns, and her real-life counterpart Eileen Atkins. Miss Deborah is, on first look, rather stern and overly concerned with appearances - when she is astounded by Mary's suggestion that they suck the juice out of oranges, she states that they should all "repair to our rooms and consume our oranges in solitude." What a line. We may think that she is the staunchest defender of the Cranford way of life, but ultimately she turns out to be the most willing to change when something bigger - like humanity and charity - is at stake. A hero, in other words.

This drama is quirky, moving, funnier than most 'comedies' on TV this year, and focuses on all inhabitants of Cranford, from the poorest of the poor on the outskirts, to the lady of the nearest country house, still haunted by memories of the French reign of terror. It screams quality, and is yet another reason why we should all be thankful for Auntie Beeb.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Time Crash

There was more to enjoy in those five minutes than in the entirety of the Daleks In Manhatten two-parter, wasn't there?

"You've changed the desktop theme, haven't you?"

Just brilliant. Steven Moffat for PM.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Mighty Boosh - Eels

I've reviewed it over at TVscoop but I can be more of a fan here :)

Well, the Boosh used to be such a nice little show, didn't it? Full of pandas and polar bears and sombreros and Bob Fossil dancing for far too long to Dreadlock Holiday. Not any more. Now there's scary cockney dancing women with eels for tongues. What happened, eh?

I don't about you but I found this episode genuinely freaky. So dark, so League Of Gentlemen. And while I can't say I wholeheartedly approve, I've got to applaud them for coming up with something that left me - a fan who knows the weird things Noel and Julian can come up with - sitting there open-mouthed. Seeing the Hitcher banging tunelessly on the piano shouting "EELS!" at irregular intervals... well, it's not an image that leaves you in a hurry, that's for sure.

Other things... well the Shaman council were wasted really. In Nanageddon, when they were introduced, they produced that rarest of things - a Boosh scene with no Vince, Howard or Bob Fossil that was laugh-out-loud funny. They were, perhaps, meant to be the light relief after the darkness of the Hitcher, but I'd like to have seen them used as more than that.

Good things... Noel and Julian. If you can show me two more natural comedy performers then... well I'll be very surprised. When they're riffing - which they were given much more leave to do in this episode than they were for most of the second series - something magical happens, and while this episode was, admittedly, a bit messy, that's something that's always a banker.

Not a classic then, but I think we've explored another little nook of the combined Barratt/Fielding mind. I've heard that next week's is an instant favourite, incidently.

While you're waiting, you should check Noel, Julian and Bollo/Dave in Jo Whiley's Live Lounge...

P.S. My TVScoop 'Why I Love... The Mighty Boosh' post (one of the pieces of writing I'm most proud of) is linked to in Anna Pickard's cool Guardian blog about whether it's ok to be ambivalent about the Boosh...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Had to share

I was changing the Calvin and Hobbes strip on my Facebook and stumbled across this beauty... might be quite a famous one, I don't know, but I love it!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Boosh trailer

A specially filmed advert! Nice.

EDIT: Episode 1 is now on but I'm saving it :)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Things we have learned from Strictly Come Dancing #2

Dominic Littlewood is seriously deluded: "My performance was almost flawless and I still got 25."

He says that as Matt di Angelo "stumbled" and still got over thirty, it just shows what a farce the scoring is. Haha, yes Dom, forget actual dance ability, talent and charm, it's all about the number of stumbles...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Broken Wing by Grammatics

It's an honour and a buzz to be able to say that my sister-in-law (they're not married, that's just the easiest way of saying it) is in one of the most exciting emerging bands in the UK (even NME say so). They're called Grammatics, look impossibly cool, and sound even cooler. If you're a fan of expansive, melodramatic pop (and let's face it, who isn't) then you really need to have a listen. Start with Broken Wing on their myspace - a beautifully simple ballad with a bombastic coda - and move onto Shadow Committee. The latter will confuse your ears for a while, but keep listening... :)

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Rhys Darby AKA Murray from Flight Of The Conchords was scheduled to do stand-up *in Doncaster* in a couple of weeks time. Understandably I was excited. But now he's off to the bright lights of LA to make a film... Donny just can't compete. :(

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Labyrinth-era Bowie visits Brett...

Just in case you missed last night's Flight Of The Conchords. That's a pretty good impression from Jermaine, I reckon!

By the way, did anyone watch Rob Newman's History Of The World Backwards which followed FOTC on BBC Four? Very much a one-joke pony... as it were. The idea of history flowing backwards but time flowing forwards (ie if you're born in 2000 you might die in 1920, but you don't go from death to birth) is interesting but once you've got the concept there's not much else to hold your interest. Like jokes. I liked the idea of computer workers marching from London to Harrow with placards saying "Will web-design for food" but that was the only thing that raised a smile. Pretty disappointing really.

Not long now...

Yay! Boosh series three starts Nov 15th, BBC Three 10.30pm...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Things we have learnt from Strictly Come Dancing #1

Women aren't allowed to be competitive. Fine for Matt Dawson, Darren Gough, Ramps et al, but Gabby? No, she wanted it a bit too much.

In fact, that's totally over-simplifying it. Everyone seems to be saying that it's Gabby's 'lack of warmth' that meant she was in the bottom two, and yet Penny seems the nicest female 'cast member' on the show. In other words, there is no rhyme or reason to the voting public...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rufus Wainwright, Sheffield City Hall, 19 Oct

This was my fifth time of seeing Mr Wainwright and the joy never lessens. He's still the most charismatic performer I've ever seen, or feel I'm ever likely to see, still funny, still self-absorbed.

After being slightly disappointed by Release The Stars on first listen, the fabulous tunes on that album quickly revealed themselves, and so it was not too much of a problem that 90% of the first half of this marathon 2-and-a-half hour set was made up of songs from that latest album. As so often happens, songs you might have overlooked on disc are suddenly more easily understood when heard live - Sanssouci, and Slideshow especially had a bigger impact on me than they've ever had on my mp3 player. Do I Disappoint You (which I adore) was, apparently, written for a now-abandoned opera, and live it's easy to see how it would fit into that setting. It all bodes well for the opera that Rufus is now working on...

Of course, it's always great to hear a few older tracks, as well. 14th Street, I Dont Know What It Is and The Art Teacher were all present and correct, but it's the random ones - like Ben Folds playing Kate on the last tour - that are often the most special. The Consort was beautiful played live, but it was a particular joy to hear Danny Boy, from the first album. Just reminds you that Rufus has been uber-talented for a sickeningly long time...

The band, as usual, were just as important as Rufus himself - tight, having fun and all multi-talented. I've got to say, though, that losing the female backing singers is a shame. Joan Wasser and sister Martha are, of course, far too big in their own right now to tour with Rufus, but they really brought something special to the whole sound which is now lacking. The guys do well, but the girls' parts - so integral so songs like I Don't Know What It Is especially - just aren't quite the same.

And so to the finale (look away now if you're going to see him on this tour). You might think that singing Judy Garland tracks such as A Foggy Day In London Town in leiderhosen would negate the requirement of a spectacular finale, but what has Rufus to do with 'requirement'? (The Garland songs are stunning, by the way - is there a man on this planet with a voice quite so distinctive *and* versatile?) After the brilliant fairy wings and thong combination, and the astonishing Gay Messiah ending from the last tour, this is almost restrained, but fun nonetheless: in black tights, stilettos, a fitted dinner jacket, trilby and bright red lipstick, Rufus transforms himself into classic Judy. Miming shamelessly, he and the band do a Caberet-esque dance routine, before finally settling into a four-guitar version of Gay Messiah. As always with Rufus, you get a ridiculous amount of bang for your buck.

Random things:
Rufus and the band had been to Chatsworth House during the day - which he persisted in calling a 'palace' - a palace the likes of which he clearly thinks he should be living in.
In terms of audiences, Sheffield 'win'. Today's Cambridge - "oh you'll definitely beat Cambridge", he says.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Want to dress-up David Tennant...?

Hours of fun :D

Sapphire and Steel

So after hearing it mentioned a lot re. Doctor Who, I finally Googled it. Is it worth a watch? (Rob, I'm basically asking you, seeing as though you review the audio plays!!) Sounds thoroughly bizarre and a bit obscure, but bizarre and obscure are good.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The question of our time...

I don't know about everyone else (but I can guess) but I am LOVING Marie's public blog. Why? Because she talks about Strictly and Neighbours! Quite honestly two of the most enjoyable shows on TV at the moment. But a comments-discussion about where Will (Oliver's brother - and we're talking Neighbours, not Strictly just to be clear) has got to reminded me to ask something that I've been meaning to pose for a while.

What the hell happened to Connor?

First he was off around the world (or Australia... I don't remember) then he turned up in Ramsay Street and was confronted by whichever Robinson twin was crazy, and then it was hinted he was buried in the front garden. (As in because of the crazy Robinson twin). But if that *is* the case, then why does no-one care? Even if that's *not* the case, Toady and people don't *know* that's not the case, so they *should* care.

I say again, then. What the hell happened to Connor?!

Star Wars: The TV Series

But no Skywalkers or other major characters. Who would you want to be in it, though? I love the Sand People/Tuskan Raiders - they're pretty cool. And the Max Rebo band! As long as Mr Lucas isn't scripting it, you never know, it might be alright...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fraiser in the West End (possibly)

Cross fingers, folks!

"Lucy's the boss, and here's what Lucy says"

Good grief! Should a song from a Snoopy special be this good?

"Less dressy? What do you think this is?"

Doesn't that line just make you love the Queen? Peter Fincham's resigned over the whole affair though... entirely necessary? No, of course not. The Beeb's navel-gazing has to stop; that's why I loved the Blue Peter presenters' blink-and-you-miss-it Cookiegate apology:

"We called the kitten Socks, and not Cookie as had been voted for. That was wrong, and we'd like to say sorry."
(Konnie, holding up new kitten Cookie [not Socks, as I originally put!]) "And what better way than with this cute little thing!"

Thursdays Are Funny

Except they're not, are they? Not judging from Vivienne Vyle and The Peter Serafinowicz Show last night... both really disappointing (though more so when it comes to the latter - Duane Benzie is meant to be funnier than that!). I literally didn't laugh once during Vivienne Vyle, and it seems to have come about five years too late. So Jeremy Kyle-style shows are exploitative? Really! And The PS Show was just a bit weird. The hits certainly didn't outweigh the (inevitable at the best of times) misses, and while he's clearly a great character comedian, the writing sucked. Not a good hour of TV...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Marie's public blog...

Starts with Strictly Come Dancing. Brilliant :)

Vic, Bob and Noel

Chortle says there's a new Vic and Bob show, called Vic Reeves' House Arrest coming to Radio 2 in November (my birthday in fact), and Noel Fielding's going to be a regular cast member. Cool, huh?

"The premise is that Reeves has been put under house arrest for a ‘wacky’ crime he didn’t commit and he's forced to spend the day killing time.

Fielding will play a strange odd-job man, while Mortimer will play Carl The Hairdresser. Regular strands in the show, which starts on November 17, include Reeves trying to get on to X Factor by singing in the bath."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Billie back in the TARDIS?

Probably not even true (it's the News Of The World, not The *We're Always Right About DW* Sun after all), but let's pretend it is.

Isn't it just as disappointing as it is exciting? I mean, do I miss Rose? Yes, absolutely, and I hoped that she would return at some point. But to come back at the end of the next series? Really? Things haven't got that desperate just yet, have they? Surely RTD has more faith in the show overall than to feel the need to bring Rose back so soon...

Anyway, probably not true...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Too cool.

You'll have to wait a minute for it to load, but it's worth it. Believe me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


If I had to subscribe, hook line and sinker, to the philosophy and world view of a single person, group, thing, society etc, I would be perfectly happy to follow Calvin and Hobbes.

I realise that the situation is unlikely, but you have a plan ahead.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Casanova, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Casanova’s memoirs –filled with stories of the places he visited, the things he learned, the people he inspired and, of course, the women he loved – have always been a source of great inspiration for writers, artists, and directors.

Casanova has been portrayed as a suave but censurable sort in Fellini’s film, and more recently as a lovable, quick-talking chancer in Russell T Davies’ TV version.

And now we have Casanova as a woman.

And why ever not, as the creators of this production, Told By An Idiot, would ask? Casanova was a philosopher, librettist, physician, lawyer, writer, astrologist, mathematician, con-artist and lover – why not add one more string to his bow? The much-loved poet Carol Ann Duffy was brought in to affect this transformation (she has given a female voice to other famous historical figures in previous work) and it is to the credit of all involved that Casanova-as-woman becomes much more than a gimmick.

Casanova is, above all, known as a charmer, and sheer charm is not something often attributed to successful women. They’re usually vampy, or hard-nosed, or struggling to defeat the odds. Hayley Carmichael’s Casanova doesn’t struggle with anything; she just uses her ability to make everyone love her to get what she gets what she wants, while doing the same for them. Sex – which is here fully clothed, essentially Carry On – is just one part of it, as she also gives Voltaire all of his best lines, and Mozart his greatest melodies. This production is more a celebration of what women can achieve, rather than a discussion of whether society would accept a woman which acts like Casanova. In the world portrayed here, everyone is more than just willing to accept her, they literally embrace her with open arms.

For obvious reasons, this is a very physical production; the actors climb all over the sparse set, and each other, with apparent ease despite the obvious complexity of the movement demanded of them – Carmichael especially is a stunning physical performer. But this emphasis on physicality means, I think, that we lose something of Casanova’s verbal wit. David Tennant’s Casanova could talk himself out of any situation, or into any bed, but Duffy’s decision to have the characters narrate their stories for the most part, rather than use direct speech, means that we rarely hear those impressive speeches, filled with quick thinking and improvisation, which we might expect.

Interesting things are certainly done with the script, however. Through the use of French, Italian and German as well as English, we come to realise that Casanova, while always drawn back to Venice, is a woman of all places. Her universality extends to time, as well - the costumes may invoke the 18th century, but the language and sound effects, such as helicopters overhead, are thoroughly modern.

Despite the comedy which runs throughout this production, there is a dark undertone. Casanova may be spontaneous, but this is often because she has to be; the play opens with her daring escape from prison, and she never stops running from that point on. Her motto is carpe diem, but this is enforced as much as it is enjoyed.

Hayley Carmichael makes Casanova as charming and joyous a heroine as she needs to be, and the physical work done by all of the actors is incredibly impressive. The show loses pace at times, and it is not perhaps quite as side-achingly funny as the roars of laughter around me would suggest, but it is a fitting celebration of the many things – love, art, science, food – which enrich all our lives, whether male or female, and which Casanova enjoyed more than most.

(This is over at musicOMH too :))

"I welcome blogs, but not as a replacement of professional theatre crticism"

So says Michael Billington. Well, no, you wouldn't, would you? You know, being a professional theatre critic an' all... haha.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tennant vs. Law - Jude signs up for Hamlet!

Michael Grandage continues to be utterly, utterly brilliant. The Stage is reporting that he's securing the Donmar Warehouse's future by using a reserve fund they've built up during his tenure to buy the building (it's currently rented by their 'landlord' Ambassador Theatres), and a new initiative called Donmar West End will take four plays a year to the Wyndham's, starting with a ridiculously good season...

I might as well just copy/paste it... :)

"[The season] will kick off with Branagh reuniting with Grandage (who previously directed him in the title role of Richard III at Shefield Crucible) to revive Chekhov’s Ivanov, beginning performances at Wyndham’s from September 12 prior to an official opening on September 18. Tom Stoppard has been commissioned to provide a new version of Chekhov’s first play.

Grandage will also be reunited with Derek Jacobi, whom he previously directed in both The Tempest and Don Carlos (at Sheffield Crucible and subsequently at London’s Old Vic and Gielgud respectively), on a new production of Twelfth Night, beginning performances on December 5, 2008 prior to an official opening on December 10, in which Jacobi will play Malvolio. Grandage is also to direct Yukio Mishima’s Madame de Sade, running from March 13, 2008 prior to an official opening on March 18, before Kenneth Branagh directs Jude Law as Hamlet, running from May 29, with the official opening on June 3."

A bit good, isn't it? Now Mr Billington will have less to complain about when it comes to straight plays in the West End! Can't wait to have Jacobi and Grandage back together - Don Carlos remains pretty much the best play I've seen. As for Jude, well he sneaks his performance of Hamlet in just before Tennant starts at the RSC, so expect much comparison. From me, at least...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Twelfth Night, RSC, 8/9/07

Somehow, I've managed to get through my school and uni days without ever studying Twelfth Night, and while I knew the general jist, it just happens to be one that I've inadvertantly avoided.

Knowing that it was a cross-dressing, mistaken identity play, I was concerned that it might be a bit of a trial to keep up, and director Neil Bartlett hardly made things easier by having women play the comedy roles of Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Fabian, and a man play Viola when she is pretending to be a man. But these decisions didn't lead to any confusion - in fact, in the case of the comedy characters, it was rather hard to understand why Bartlett had made the decision at all, as it made very little difference to the play. It didn't take anything from the play, but neither did it add anything, as it's already clear that issues of gender and cross-dressing are important, as the main storyline follows Viola's wooing of a Countess Olivia on her master's behalf - whom she loves - in male garb. As such, the decision to have Chris New play Viola made sense (and he portrayed her discomfort and awkwardness really well), but the extension of this to the comedy roles seemed a little arbitrary, funny as they were.

More interesting was the treatment of the fool, Feste. Here, he was not played simply for laughs, but became a narrator, commentator, musical accompianist (he played the piano which was permanently on stage), and actually a rather dark figure, who encourages Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria as they play mind-games with Olivia's steward, Malvolio. He revels in Malvolio's madness as he is (wrongly) persuaded that Olivia loves him, and as a result, we feel Malvolio's abuse - as it is in fact called in the final scene - all the more keenly. It becomes much more than a ridiculous comic sub-plot.

Malvolio - you might remember - is played by John Lithgow, and he is brilliant. Well, he's pretty much playing the classic John Lithgow part -superior, deluded, generally disliked - but you can't say that's not incredibly funny. It's the stand-out performance of the night, along with Chris New and James Clyde (Feste), in a production otherwise lacking striking performances; the Duke and Olivia particularly never seemed to get out of second gear.

This production is genuinely funny, and the great performances really were great - but there are too many random choices and underwhelming performances to make it a classic.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

That'd be three out of three then!

Yes, not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I predicted the Mercury Prize correctly for the third year in a row: Antony and The Johnsons in 2005, Arctic Monkeys in 2006, and Klaxons this year! Haha.

Ok, so it might be interpreted that I actually tipped Magic Numbers in 2005, and only said I was supporting Arctic Monkeys last year, but this time I definitely got it right!

Anna Pickard on DT as Hamlet

"What's more, he'll be appearing with Patrick Stewart as Claudius. All we need is Sarah Michelle Gellar as a butt-kicking Ophelia and the whole thing will be sci-fi heaven."

Haha, if only... :)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Yes! RTD wants next series to be more fun!

The story's from here, but I got it here, naturally.

So old RTD has listened to me, eh?! Fun...ness is exactly what series 3 was lacking, and as I said as the time, that's because the Doctor suddenly disappeared from view, (John Smith, Blink, bizarre house-elf) just as the writing picked up. RTD points particularly to the last three episodes, which struck me as strange at first, but I guess they would have been totally fun-less without The Master.

So, it's time for fun. You know what that means, don't you - bring back the Slitheen! Haha, ok, that's going a bit far, but let's have our fun Doctor back at least - I mean, that's what DT does best, right? Donna will bring him back to himself, you mark my words, doubters. ;)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Outnumbered and its five-year-old genius

Ok, so Outnumbered wasn't *amazing* but there were some great lines, and the kids were interesting - the oldest was 21st century incarnate (tech savvy, perceptive and lazy) and the middle child was a pathalogical liar.

But the youngest, Karen, was pure genius. Or, I guess, her real-life alter-ego Ramona Marquez was, seeing as though the kids were basically improvising all the way through. Honestly, you have to see this girl. My favourite bit was when she was discussing what pet she'd like. After nit, giraffe and lion were all turned down she pondered a little longer: "Could I have......................... a puffin?" She said it in that matter-of-fact way that all five-year-olds utter the ridiculous and it made me laugh out, along with everyone I was watching it with.

If they're paying her anything at all, they should double it. Triple it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Comedy on TV... a little round-up

Saxondale: I watched the first episode of the first series, and was utterly underwhelmed... maybe I was in a bad mood, maybe I was expecting too much (understandable with Steve Coogan at the helm) or maybe it was just a sub-par episode, but I was not impressed. But I was totally up for giving it another go last week, and I'm really glad I did. There was a good number of laugh-out-loud moments, too many good lines to remember and Saxondale's a fabulous creation - an idiot, but likable, more so than Partridge, certainly. Thursday's a good telly night now; Mock The Week, Saxondale, and My Name Is Earl all have a great laugh-per-minute ratio.

The IT Crowd: I tried. Really I did. All the newspaper reviews mention these 'sublime moments' but somehow I keep missing them. There were a few laughs to be had, but that's just not good enough for a flagship Friday night comedy. The performances are pedestrian, and the insanely raucous audience laughter just puts me off. I'll stick with it longer this time, because I did laugh a few times, but I can't say I'm exactly excited about the next episode...

Outnumbered: This looks like it might be alright, but it hasn't had a whole lot of promotion, so I thought I'd flag it up. It's about a family comprising two parents and three children (hence 'Outnumbered') and while I'd normally be sceptical about a mid-week BBC One comedy (and to be honest, I still am, just a little) the fact that it's semi-improvised gives it an interesting twist - especially when you consider the fact that the little kid actors are so very young (one if just five years old). Give it a go... but don't blame me if it sucks :)

Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! does Judy! Judy! Judy!

It was on TV last night - or a heavily cut down version at least (there was no Martha for a start, though I know she performed Stormy Weather). And it was absolutely wonderful. Once again, I simply have to come back to his ridiculous voice. It's so nasally that it really shouldn't work, in fact it should be rather horrible, but instead it's astonishingly beautiful. And it's *so* unique that he totally owns these songs, depsite the fact that many are so inextricably linked with Judy Garland herself. Indeed, such is Rufus's own propensity to write songs that would sit well in a Broadway musical, that many feel like they could literally be penned by him. The slower songs show off the range of his voice, but for me, he's a showman, and as such he's at his best with show tunes. For me, the only song he doesn't quite seem up to is - surprise - Somewhere Over The Rainbow. But somehow, that feels right - it's Judy's song, and while he just has to sing it, it seems fitting that her genius should remain untouchable when it comes to that particular signature tune.

But you have to think - who else could pull off this show? Who could take a classic live album, re-create it, and make it neither tacky nor pastiche, but a really special show in its own right, as well as a great homage, and a love letter to a stunning performer. No-one I can think of. Rufus dances and laughs and tells anecdotes, lets his voice soar and his face show every single emotion. Like Judy, he's one in a billion.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thinking about Big Brother all day is strange indeed...

I have been doing, and will continue to do 'til Friday night, the hourly updates on Available For Panto, hence it being a tad quiet around here.

People who love friction and drama have found this series dull; those, like me, who are more interested in subtle relationships and genuine affection have found this the most fascinating to date... Liam should win - the way he dealt with Charley was pure genius. He didn't argue with her, just had a go at her - half joking, half serious - all the time, and told her exactly why people disliked her, without getting her back up. Sometimes she even listened... that's pretty impressive.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Edinburgh Bloggy Blog

I've gone a bit Guardian on your asses for a while, so here's the proper bloggy blog.

So me and my parents decided we'd stop off at a b+b near Alnwick on the way up to Edinburgh, so that we could take in a bit of sea air before the bustle of the Fringe. It was a good idea - just a shame that the place we chose was thoroughly odd (in both a good and bad way). It was literally just off the A1, with nothing else around, and had a chair on the roof... It seemed to be an ex- or current architectural salvage yard, with huge piles of wood around, but the little courtyard where the rooms were was really pretty. So we just wandered into a room that looked the most communal, and waited until a lady noticed us. She showed us to our room ("oh, I've put you in the old dairy shed") and pushed the door open. "You can't lock it from the outside" she said, cheerily, "but there's a catch on the inside!" Off she went. She'd already told us on the phone that there was no electricity in the bathroom - a couple of lovely candles though - but there didn't seem to be any electricity in the main room either. Or a tv. No tv! What kind of hell-hole is this?

Haha, it wasn't a hell-hole at all. Just quirky. And, you know, not finished yet. It made our B+B in Edinburgh look like an absolute palace, though.

So the first night in Edinburgh was Frankie Boyle and David O'Doherty, both at Assembly @ George Street. It's a fantastically well-oiled machine at this venue, cheery aspiring actors in red t-shirts all over the place, telling you where to go and what to do. You feel totally at ease. In fact, Edinburgh as a whole puts you at ease. It's absolutely beautiful, and everyone we encountered - bus drivers, the B+B staff, shop assistants - were really helpful and good-natured. Are they on their best behaviour for the Fringe, or is this what it's like all year round? We also felt rather good as we'd already seen Sean Lock and Rich Hall wandering about, which was pretty cool.

I met Dean after the David O'Doherty gig (shout out) which was really great, but unfortunately circumstance meant we couldn't meet up again... same time next year, dude?! Also great to speak to DOD, of course, but he had to rush off to a Mark Watson-MC'd quiz somewhere or other, so it was brief, though lovely.

The Simon Amstell gig was over in the old town, in the Pleasance Courtyard. I don't know if they schedule gigs this way on purpose, but there seemed to be a much younger demographic over there than at Assembly. It's got a fantastic atmosphere - you could just hang around without going to any shows and still have fun.

Erm anything else... basically, it's a stunning city, filled with apparently lovely people all just looking for a laid-back, fun time. And I'll be back next year. :)

Edinburgh Fringe 2007: Tony! The Blair Musical, C Venues, 18.20

(This was written for MusicOMH, too - look, I've got a biography and everything!)

At the moment, White Rose Theatre - a group of students and recent graduates from York University - are living the Edinburgh Fringe dream with their musical treatment of Tony Blair’s ten years at No. 10. They’ve been in national newspapers and on TV, and as a result, now have a sell-out show on their hands. But it has to be said, it hasn’t all been down to them alone. The fact that they have a direct rival, Tony Blair: The Musical, has meant that their show is not just an anonymous one of many, but part of a great story.

It is surprising, actually, that there are only two musicals about Tony Blair running at the Fringe, when you consider how theatrical his reign was. Tony! The Blair Musical picks up on the fact that Blair was a rocker himself, and that - for the first few years at least - he was apparently obsessed with the glitz and glamour of office. It is no surprise, then, that his story works so effortlessly as a musical. Writer/director Chris Bush and composer Ian McKlusky have used this happy coincidence to great effect - the songs are true showstoppers. They all sound vaguely like something you’ve heard before, but that’s certainly a good thing, displaying McKlusky’s intimate knowledge of the great musical shows, and the tunes are matched by laugh-out-loud lyrics.

Many reviewers, however, have taken umbrage with the fact that this is not a scathing, political attack on Blair’s years as Prime Minister, but then they are judging the show by a criterion is doesn’t ask to be judged by - this is Blair’s reign as seen through Blair’s own eyes (the fabulous James Duckworth as our Tone talks directly to the audience), and as such, we are persuaded that he was just trying to do what he felt was right. It is surprising, perhaps, to those reviewers that Chris Bush, one so young, could be this even-handed in his analysis, but this may be something we should in fact be praising. In any case, this is far from a vindication. The ‘Big Conversation’ is mocked through pointing out all the things - from the NHS to the trains - we weren’t allowed to talk about, and Blair is seen to step on absolutely anyone who doesn’t agree with him; “There’s no ‘I’ in team, and no ‘me’ in Tony” is a recurring refrain.

There are a few problems with the show: George Bush seems a hasty sketch of a caricature (though the performance is hilarious nonetheless) and there’s the occasional crack in voices which makes you worry how they will cope for the rest of the run. But ultimately, there are enough moments of real inspiration to make this show a joy. The biggest cheer of the night came for one of those wonderful moments, when former Tory leaders, from John Major to Michael Howard, appeared as a Barber Shop quartet. I’m sure this is a highlight for most audiences, but you can’t help feeling that it was extra special this time. Why? Ed Duncan Smith plays his father, Iain, who just happened to be in the audience tonight, laughing along with the rest of us.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Edinburgh Fringe 2007: Simon Amstell - No Self, Pleasance Courtyard, 22.30

Now, I'm a total Fringe virgin (or, at least, was) so I can't be sure about this, but I'd bet quite a lot of money that there are Fringe Snobs. You know, the type of people who actively find the shows playing to one person a night and hail them the best thing ever to hit Scotland. They're the sort of people that will have seen Simon Amstell's show in the Fringe programme and consciously avoided it because he's on the telly. (I was the total opposite, of course - I chose Frankie Boyle and Simon Amstell precisely because I've seen them on TV, and I only know about how brilliant David O'Doherty is because I saw him when I went to see Noel Fielding.) But these Fringe Snobs that I've just made up, they're missing out, because this is a deeply impressive show.

Frankie had the one-liners, DOD (you'll remember) had the Joyous Off-Beat Charm, and Simon Amstell, it turns out, has the ability to pur together a beautifully thought-out set - I was spoilt, really. On Never Mind The Buzzcocks he reduces Phil Jupitus to fits of giggles, and even outshines the brilliant Bill Bailey with his quick-wittedness, and as such, I thought it would be his ad-libbing that would be the highlight of the show. But this was far from the case; he's got a script - and it's a damn good one.

The theme - a much tighter one than that of Mr O'Doherty - is the Buddhist idea that there is no individual, No Self, but that we are instead all part of a single, larger consciousness. But Amstell manages to take this existential argument, and mix it with digs at Justin Lee Collins and come up with a hugely satisfying, cohesive show that you marvel at, as well as laugh at. He's constantly referring back to previous jokes, linking themes together - it certainly hasn't been thrown together, let's put it that way.

But there are some stand-out one liners too. When discussing how we struggle to create a personality, he points out a girl in the front row with dreadlocks and a hat. "But then you have another crisis, because you have to convince others that you're more than the dreadlocks and a hat - whereas in fact, you're less."

Just like on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, he manages to walk a strange line between being thoroughly charming - cheeky even - and utterly cynical. His 'No Self' philosophy means that he can say 'Basically, I'm God', but in fact he's much more at home being bleak: "Is there anything worse than being alive?" he asks. And later, Amstell says that telling us we should just end the misery if we feel like it is his favourite bit of the show. He even does a little jig to prove it.

The tightness of the show was spoilt this evening somewhat by a couple of idiots who decided to pick up on the word 'juggler' and shout it out just as Amstell was coming to a big pay-off line. Obviously a little rattled after this happening several times, when a guy asked if was alright to go to the toilet, he replied; "You can stay in the toilet. That should be the name of my show next year."

Punchline-ruining idiots aside, this was a show that surprised even me, who's already a fan - and it's one that mythical Fringe Snobs everywhere should take time to see.

Rullsenberg on Summer Sundae

Go read! Her piece on The Divine Comedy is especially brilliant, but then, I probably would say that... lordy that guy's good.

It's uber-long reviews a-go-go between the two of us at the moment, right?! Well, there's just two more to come from me, and then I'll 'blog' Edinburgh in the RTD sense of the word.

Edinburgh Fringe 2007: Dickens Unplugged, Assembly Rooms, 12.15

I wrote this for MusicOMH :)

The appearance of new material from Adam Long in the Fringe programme will have excited a select, but certainly not insignificant group of people: fans of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, such as myself. This is because, while not strictly a founding member, Long is widely recognised as a major factor in the company's success, as a writer, actor and director. During their long run at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly, the RSC divided theatre-goers - some praising their mix of high and low comedy, others seeing them as just a bit too silly - and this ambivalence was summed up when they were described as 'immovable' in a "state of the West End" think-piece a few years back. Eventually, however, they were moved - but another product of Long's wit and talent has come to the stage after just a few years.

I suspect it is perhaps better to go into this brand new show with no preconceptions, however, as Dickens Unplugged may leave die-hard fans of the more knockabout elements of the RSC's work somewhat disappointed: the actors are here showing off their musical comedy skills, rather than their clowning abilities. Adam Long, it seems, has grown up.

But the musical comedy, it has to be said, is excellently conceived and delivered. This is far from a 'Complete Works' show, concentrating instead on just a few texts, and setting them to the most wonderful score. Dickens is, of course, a quintessentially British - or more properly, I suppose, English - author, but Long has kept to his tradition of mixing British and US culture by telling those stories using quintessentially American music.
Rhythm and blues, Broadway show tunes, American songbook, and country and western all make an appearance, and all - amazingly - seem to work perfectly. The scope for emotion in these styles is apparently suited to the melodramatic moments of Dickens' work, and the sparkling tunes and always witty lyrics are well served by a hugely musically talented cast.

The steady stream of real belly laughs, and quickfire visual gags are less in evidence here than in, say, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), but Long has maintained, and in fact enhanced, one of the elements of that show which made it so interesting - an ultimate respect for the source texts. The more convoluted plots and coincidences of Dickens' novels are mocked, but Dickens himself appears on stage to explain his calling - to show London life in its entirety, and to try and instigate change for the most needy.

This combination of a real engagement with the stories and truly wonderful songs means that this certainly has the potential to become an excellent full-length show - just as long as, from a personal viewpoint, jokes involving silly props and cross-dressing aren't entirely sacrificed in the name of maturity.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Edinburgh Fringe 2007: David O'Doherty - It's David O'Doherty Time, Assembly Rooms, 22.15

Being such utterly different stand-up comics, it was a joy to see Frankie Boyle and David O’Doherty on the same night. Boyle is all angular glasses and sharp suits; O’Doherty more a mass of hair and slightly crumpled white shirt. To use O’Doherty’s own way of describing his comedy, he rocks our world ‘like a delicious cake’, whereas Boyle’s more a ‘bag of drugs’. You know, in a good way.

Tonight the theme, such as it is, is Facts. ‘Haha’ is no longer good enough, we’re told; now’s the time for ‘Ahhhh…. haha’. The sort of facts O’Doherty is interested in are the facts that we were all interested in as a kid - facts about sharks and dinosaurs, not medical or technological things. They’re boring, and O’Doherty doesn’t do boring. He may love his iPod (the number of musical references in the set confirms this), but he doesn’t care how it works - in fact he’d rather you opened it up to find ‘a white feather and a puff of smoke…’ In other words, he prefers magic - and let’s face it, so do most of us.

It won’t utterly surprise you to learn that the joyous, off-beat charm that O’Doherty exudes as he discusses these facts, completely appeals to my love of, well, joyous off-beat charm. Apart from Demetri Martin, with whom there is certainly a comparison, my limited knowledge of the comedy circuit means that my points of reference for O’Doherty are generally musical - he’s like an even-more-comedy Beck; he’s already got the keyboard, just give him Two Turntables And A Microphone and the comparison might just start to look reasonable… he’s nu-folk, lo-fi, he’s The Spinto Band, or Simple Kid. He’s certainly got the air of that kind of performer - as he sits down to perform his songs, he’s at once geeky and massively confident, like Ross Gellar showing off his music. You know, in a good way.

For a few moments tonight, though, we got a glimpse of mildly-annoyed David O’Doherty, as he tried to explain to a guy that using your phone in the front row isn’t really the done thing. O’Doherty laughed it off with the offer of a high-five, but when that offer was refused (the height of rudeness, and I mean that totally sincerely) it was changed to an offer of the guy leaving. Unfortunately, that wasn’t taken up on either.

If anything, these few understandable moments of slight prickliness only served to endear the audience even more to O’Doherty, and he responded with a set that, importantly, had laughs to match the charm.


Ok, official review over. I got to have a little chat with the DOD! Yay. After I'd downloaded his album ("Giggle Me Timbers", get it from Trust Me I'm A Thief) I said on his myspace how much I'd enjoyed it, and we got a little correspondance going - he seems to make time for anyone who makes time for him. He signed a CD for 'Anna from Myspace', gave me a hug, and went off on his way, leaving my mum thinking him to be a perfect gentleman. Which, it appears, he really is.

Edinburgh Fringe 2007: Frankie Boyle - Morons, I Can Heal You, Assembly Rooms 21.00

(This will soon also be up on the fabulous FringeBlogs site!)

There's no doubt that Frankie Boyle is the real star of Mock The Week - he's acerbic, the quickest of the lot of them, goes further than anyone else dares, and, quite frankly, has the most to say. I'm still laughing, three weeks later, at the fact that, when faced with working out what question got the reply '200,000 tonnes' (or something similar), he came up with 'When Tony Blair was asked how many Iraqis had been killed since the start of the war, what was his callous reply?'

Up here in Edinburgh, without nervous TV producers breathing down his neck, Boyle clearly relishes the ability to say whatever the hell he likes, and makes full use of that opportunity: no subject matter is off limits, from terrorism to paedophilia. But, Boyle's a clever comedian, and knows that a whole hour of jokes that make you cringe as much as they make you laugh just doesn't work, and so has structured his set so that a punchline receiving a groan, or even a boo, is followed by five which stay on much safer ground. In fact, I personally preferred the material which didn't rely quite so much on shock value, and it seemed that most of the audience here did too.

So if Boyle's clearly a master of the one-liner, and has come up with a show which just about matches the audience's appetite for controversy, why only three stars (don't worry, I always look at the star rating first, too)? Well, it's simply that I got very little out of seeing him live that I don't get out of seeing him on television. Now, there may be a valid excuse for this, in that his banter with the audience hit a dead end when faced with four actuaries on the same row - not a rich vein for comedy. I've no doubt that if he had been faced with teachers, or nurses, he would have had a wealth of material stored in that comedy brain of his, but we didn't see it tonight. Less excusable, however, is that he has actually used a fair amount of the material on Mock The Week already, and he referenced news stories which are pretty much past their sell-by date. I laughed throughout the gig, certainly, and am happy to have seen such an accomplished comic - I just wish he'd made this show just that little bit special.


Back from Edinburgh...

... and I'm missing it already. Got loads of reviews coming up for you, and there'll come up as quickly (or, more probably, as slowly) as I can get them out :)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Off to the Fringe...

Yay! I'm pretty excited. The last time I went to Edinburgh I was about 10 (it could be anything between 7 and 13, I really don't know...) and it was just for a day while we were actually staying in North Berwick. We saw a comedy covers band who introduced me to Jimi Hendrix... good memories.

Courtesy of lovely parents, we're staying in good accommodation, pretty near the centre, and have a few things already booked - Frankie Boyle, David O'Doherty, Dickens Unplugged (by Reduced Shakespeare head honcho Adam Long), Simon Amstell and TONY! The Blair Musical, by a group from my (old) uni. That's got Ed Duncan Smith playing his dad, and therefore *much* better than the other Blair musical playing there...!

Right, I'm sure it's all free wi-fi and stuff up there so I'll try and get some reviews up - both here and at Dean's cute little baby, FringeBlogs. Anyone can sign up, or send reviews by email, and as such is a fantastic idea:

For years now, the concept of what’s ‘good’ and what isn’t at the Edinburgh Fringe has been dominated by the big newspapers and websites, with critical opinion being formed by just a few loud voices. Meanwhile hundreds of small, independent bloggers post their reviews and thoughts on show and the Fringe experience to thier own blogs, but go unheard by the majority of attendees that won’t dig that deep for information on Fringe productions.

Perfick. So au revoir dudes, speak soon.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The West End Is In Crisis! Again!

We might not agree with Michael Billington's (him again) 'yes-we've-said-it-before-but-this-time-it-really-is-in-crisis' conclusions, but he makes some good points along the way - particularly that the producing/directing talent seems to be going to the subsidised sector (eg Nicholas Hytner at the National, and Michael Grandage at the Donmar), and that quite a few West End theatres are in dire need of a face-lift.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

British Absurdism

I was reading Michael Billington's review of Absurida - a trio of 'absurd' plays at the Donmar - and this phrase stood out:

These plays, however, are absurd in a defiantly British sense, whimsically inventive pieces about the application of logic to illogical situations.

And I thought, that's exactly the shared quality that means Mitchell and Webb are the true succuessors to Monty Python, the quality I've been trying to express to people for ages. This is *precisely* where both derive a lot of their humour from - reacting to an utterly bizarre situation "as you or I might an endlessly running tap". Thanks Billers - I'll use the phrase 'British Absurdism' from now on, and sound clever, if a little pretentious.

Guess what I bought this morning...

It's a certain debut novel called Gods Behaving Badly, by Ms Marie Phillips. And I'm *so* excited to get started. Congratulations, Marie: the cover is beautiful, and I have no doubt that the contents will be even more so.
Now get on with the second, we're getting impatient ;) Haha. No, you take some time off, and have a fabulous party this evening - we all know how much you deserve it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Theatre and corporate sponsorship

Natasha Tripney has done a Guardian blog about the National's production of Much Ado About Nothing being sponsored by Shell. It's a tough one - the Travelex £10 season was generally seen as a triumph in the push towards a more democratised theatre (I could have just written 'cheap seats'...!) and a perfect partnership between business and the arts. The reason *this* feels worse, of course, is that it's Shell, it's oil, it all feels a bit dirty. But if we're ok with Travelex, and not with Shell, then there has to be a line somewhere between the two, which is always going to be tricky.

My gut reaction is to praise the National for being at the forefront of 'taking the bull by the horns' rather than putting their efforts into moaning about cuts in arts funding. But then, maybe they *should* be moaning about it... clearly, there's no easy answer.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The West End Whingers are a bit too good...

Found them via Interval Drinks and they are brilliant. Too good, in fact. Please don't all defect and leave me blathering on to myself...

Wicked: Apollo Victoria, 25 July

You can't get much further away from the quiet magic of Elling than going to see Wicked the very next day. In the Trafalgar Studios you can catch John Simm's eye during the bow (or convince yourself you did, at least) - at the Apollo Victoria you have to fight just to squeeze through the doors. I haven't been to a massive West End musical in a long time, and the whole experience came as a bit of a shock. This isn't just theatre, it's also a slick marketing machine. In the foyer alone there were four merchandise and concessions stands selling everything from popcorn to jewellery to snowstorms, and then there were another couple of stands at the back of the auditorium. At first, this all depressed me slightly (I'm becoming a snob, clearly) but then I saw hundreds of kids excited about the fact that they were going to the theatre, and I realised that it was very possibly a good thing. There was certainly a buzz in that big old barn, and it's hard to not get involved when a cheer erupts simply because the lights are going down.

And it has to be said, every pound that is made out of the merchandise certainly shows on stage. This production oozes class and attention to detail; the costumes are as exquisite and interesting for the chorus as for the main characters, and the set and lighting are spectacular - more impressive than anything I've seen, certainly. But what is even more impressive is that the production values are easily matched by the quality of the cast. The two lead roles of Elphaba (who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch) are taken by Kerry Ellis and Dianne Pilkington respectively, both of whom have superb voices, though both completely different, as they need to be. Ellis's voice especially has real depth, and her solo songs, I'm Not That Girl and Defying Gravity in particular, deservedly received the biggest cheers.

But while it is almost impossible to find fault with the production, I had issues with the musical itself. The plot follows Gregory Maguire's novel 'Wicked: The Life And Times of the Wicked Witch Of The West', and so tells of how Elphaba becomes the most hated figure in Oz, and Glinda the most beloved. It starts off pretty much like a combination of every high-school romantic comedy you've ever seen - just take the weird-but-pretty-on-the-inside girl and paint her green. This works well; Glinda is the bitchy and sickeningly pretty prom queen who eventually takes a shine to Elphaba and makes her her new 'project' (leading to one of the show's best songs 'Popular'), and they both learn things from each other. So far, so Clueless, but as I say, it works. Then, when the plot starts to interact more directly with the story we know, there are some fine cross-over moments: we find out how the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow end up as they are, and why Elphaba turns from sweet-natured outcast to public enemy number one. It's when the story starts to run alongside the film that I had issues - it's a personal thing really, but liberties are taken with that most magical of movies that, to me, border on sacrilege. [Highlight for spoiler: The Wicked Witch of the West doesn't die - she's set up by the Scarecrow to throw water over her where there's a trapdoor. And she ends up with the Scarecrow. I mean really.] Wicked starts off being a fun and inventive backstory for the witches, but ends up clashing awkwardly with the movie.

But that's probably just me thinking about things too deeply, and I really did enjoy this as a spectacle. It took me a good ten years to get from Starlight Express (in this very theatre) to Elling - I just hope that some of the kids who enjoyed this so much can make the same journey, while still finding time to savour the sheer magnitude of a production like this.

Paul Fuzz on Clerks

A homage to Grunge Noir...

Elling: Trafalgar Studios, 24 July

When John Simm says that this play is 'sweet' - as he has during every single interview he's had to squirm his way through these last few weeks - you'd better believe him. Elling radiates warmth, and revels in the joy to be found in being different. But sweet can turn to saccharine when there is a complete lack of a villain, as there is here - unless, of course, you are provided with real belly laughs, along with that warm glow.

Elling, as we receive it, is an adaptation of a Norwegian play, which is based on an Oscar-nominated film, which in turn is based on a trilogy of books by Ingvar Ambjørnsen, and if anything has been lost in translation, then the original must have been a rare masterpiece. It follows Elling and Kjell Bjarne as they learn to live in a city-centre apartment given to them by social services - their first steps into The Real World, after being cocooned and contained within an institution. Elling is a poet, a theologian and a philosopher, but he also likes to sleep in the cupboard, and proclaims that neither public conveniences nor 'going out' are his forte. Obsessed with his mother, he has never got over, or even accepted her death. While Elling must cope with the angst of genius, Kjell Bjarne is driven by more mundane forces - the desire to 'get some chicks' and to eat. He may be less refined than Elling in his speech, but it soon becomes clear that his problems are not as severe, and his good heart slowly, gently coaxes Elling to do things he would never have been able to do his own.

This relationship is the classic odd couple set up, and none the less beautiful for it. Outside may be a world of crowds and friends and dangers - all of them new and scary - but they can at least start to face them together. The most gorgeous scene in the play comes at Christmas, when the two exchange gifts. As Kjell Bjarne hands over his present, Elling tentatively takes it in his hands and examines it with the look of someone who has just been presented the Holy Grail, glittering and sacred. The gift is stunning, a model of their apartment block made out of matchsticks, but Elling looks just as happy and grateful when it is still wrapped up, such is the importance of receiving a gift from his friend Kjell Bjarne - who, by the way, is equally thrilled with a pen containing a lady whose clothes come off when you turn it upside down.

The source material may have been wonderful, but the writing is here pitched absolutely perfectly, credit to adaptor Simon Bent. Many of the laughs he laughs do come from the ridiculous things that Elling and Kjell Bjarne say and do, but it can never be mean-spirited in the context of a play which imbues them with such humanity, and champions their daily triumphs, no matter how small. The quality of the writing is also evident in the gradual nature of the progress of the two. At first, Elling announces 'Mother did all the cooking - I was in charge of ideology' (one of the play's very best lines) but by the end they are functioning much more 'normally'; facing life's problems without being overwhelmed by them.

Let's move onto the performances, then, something I've been saving up until last. John Simm as Elling is, well, ridiculous. He puts on a silly voice, gesticulates wildly and contorts his face with every line. But it is amazing. Ridiculously amazing, without doubt one the finest central performances, comic or otherwise, I've seen. His timing is impeccable, knows exactly when to change from over-the-top to small and poignant, and inhabits the character (a gift for any actor, admitedly) to such an extent that John Simm disappears almost entirely. Did I spend the first few minutes looking for little glimpses of Sam Tyler, or listening out for a tiny Mancunian twang? Yes, of course, but he gave away nothing, and I'm glad. If anything, this huge strength of the production is almost a failing - Simm's performance is so odd and so impressive that it threatens to overwhelm the whole thing. It is to the credit of the other actors that he simply dominates it.

This play could just be an enjoyable two-hours' entertainment and nothing more, but thanks to the strength of the writing, and a central performance you won't forget in a hurry, you come out of the theatre feeling you've actually seen something incredibly special.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mercury Prize shortlist - is it that time already?

Apparently. It's become a tradition for me to have a look at the nominations so I'd better keep it up, eh?

The Young Knives: Voices Of Animals And Men
You know these guys - three of them. Large, geeky looking fellows. One of them calls himself The House Of Lords (of course). Quirky, spiky and terribly English, they give the impression of being more interesting than they actually are. Which is not at all.

Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare
Yes I got them wrong, we all know that. Everyone kept going on about their lyrics, so that's what I listened to, and I didn't like them, because they slagged off The Thrills ("You're not from New York city, you're from Rotherham"). But then I started listening to the tunes and I realised that they're actually pretty special. This album is hard to get into, but when they concentrate on those melodies and lighten up a bit (Brianstorm, Flourescent Adolescent, 505) they show why we should believe the hype.

Bat For Lashes: Fur And Gold
I've heard a couple of songs by this Bjork-ish singer-songwriter (if indeed anyone can be Bjork-ish, even Bjork herself) and it's certainly interesting, atmospheric stuff. But I've yet to really click with it...

Basquiat Strings: Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford
The obligatory jazz entry; I'm not going to pretend to know a thing about them.

Amy Winehouse: Back To Black
Think what you like about Mark Ronson butchering The Smiths, he did a damn good job of producing this album. While his work with Candie Payne sounds glossy, fake, and just too much, this sounds earthy and dirty in the very best way. There are some great songs on here (the singles, really), but there's also a hell of a lot of filler.

New Young Pony Club: Fantastic Playroom
Ah nu-rave. Because the panellists are down with the kids, yeah? Glo-sticks, yeah? I've heard a couple of songs from this band, but it all sounds dull and detached to me. They should learn from their lords and masters...

Kalxons: Myths Of The Near Future
...who are Klaxons. I suffered Arctic Syndrome with these guys for a long, long time, but, as with the Monkeys, I relented eventually. My problem was that there was a big difference between what I'd heard about them, and what I'd heard of them. I was told they were all bleeps and whistles, but all I heard was Hard-Fi (Golden Skans). But of course they're better than both of these assessments, and will outlive the nu-rave fad they created because they've actually got some tunes.

Fionn Regan: The End Of History
Yet another new Bob Dylan who's all angst and acoustics. To be honest, I've become so bored of dreary troubadours that I've pretty much actively avoided him, so you'll have to go elsewhere to find out more.

Maps: We Can Create
I've heard plenty about these, and nothing by them. But I'm told by NME that it's "ambient, dreamy pop music akin to Kraftwerk or Spiritualized, with a touch of My Bloody Valentine-style indie." While all of those references are genius, I bet they *really* suck.

Dizzee Rascal: Maths And English
Can the Boy In Da Corner make it a double? I doubt it.

Jamie T: Panic Prevention
Oh dear, The Streets certainly has a lot to answer for, doesn't he? I'm sure that Jamie T's lyrics speak volumes to some people - probably to a lot of people - but they don't even whisper to me, and so all I'm left with is the tunes. And they ain't that great.

The View: Hats Off To The Buskers
I know what I should say about these Glaswegian toddlers; I should say that they're derivative, sub-Libertines ramshakle chancers. And that, of course, is mostly true. And yet something about these guys works. They've got some great songs, have a real feel for authentic, old-fashioned rock and roll, and certainly live the lifestyle. Much better than they have any right to be.

So, who do we expect will win, and who do we want to win? Well, I'd put a few quid on Klaxons, while quietly whistling about these Same Jeans that I've had on for four days now...

Voting open for National Television Awards

Already?! But the awards aren't 'til October! Yessir. Let's give Life On Mars the credit it deserves (and didn't get at the Baftas, Audience Award aside...)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What Thursday Next did... next

How did I miss that Jasper Fforde was bringing out a new Thursday Next novel?! For the uninitiated, firstly you're a fool, and secondly, these novels star Thursday Next, a (now ex-) Literary Detective from a parallel Swindon, where croquet is the Beautiful Game, and Neanderthals and dodos are commonplace. In the first (and best) book, The Eyre Affair, Next realises she can jump into, and between books, and I'd say it's there that Fforde's brilliantly bizarre imagination really cuts loose.

In fact, it all gets a bit complicated, but it's also rather wonderful. Books are controlled from the inside, by Jurisfiction and the Council of Genres among others; characters are 'generics' until given personality; discarded ideas float around in the Well Of Lost Plots to be reused elsewhere; plot devices can be bought and sold (the more complicated and original, the more expensive); characters can hang out in back-stories when they're not being read; Jurisfiction agents communicate by Footnoterphone... and they're just the aspects I understand.

Fforde packs in so many brilliant ideas per page that it can all get a bit much at times, but it also means that you're constantly amazed, constantly entertained. And he mixes terribly high-brow literary allusions with characters called Landen Park-Laine and Jack Schitt. To be quite honest, the books bristle with imagination to the extent that they can end up just a tad messy, but they're the only glimpses into such an amazing mind that us mere mortals get, so they're worth cherishing. And when you're done reading, you can enjoy the books as beautiful, interesting objects in themselves, and then head over to to get the latest upgrades (corrections) and extra scenes.

Friday, July 06, 2007

More cool casting news

After hearing about Ewan McGregor, and John Lithgow taking to the stage, it seems the RSC want our DT to play Hamlet. It's not definite, because it would clash with Doctor Who series 5, but I reckon we're all thinking he'll want to move on by then.

Would I brave the Stage Door scrum? Of course. Certainly will be doing so for this guy...

Oh, and I was thinking, I should do a 'Is celebrity casting a good thing?' sort of post at some point. Remind me. :)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Who's booked up to see DCI Sam Tyler at the end of the month?

Here's a pic to enhance your envy.

By the way, is there any way we can get the Beeb to bring Men Of The World out on DVD? I remember liking that... and I was 10 at the time. My parents were really quite liberal about me watching comedy, but strict on drama... I reckon this is A Good Thing on both counts. I was definitely watching Father Ted, The High Life and Alexei Sayle at the same age, and Bottom and repeats of The Young Ones and stuff. And it all made me the person I am today, I tell ya!

Catherine Tate - my two cents

It's pretty much a thumbs up from me. I like the idea of an older companion who'll stand up to the Doctor, and is absolutely not in awe of him (a little scared of what he can do, maybe, but not over-awed by him as a person). Donna will be good for Doc, I reckon.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Doctor Who Series 3: Why it was the least enjoyable so far

Both Rob and Lisa have suggested that this series of Doctor Who was the best so far (new-Who only), and my instant, gut reaction is, roughly: WHAT?! Rob's given an episode by episode justification for this, and while I did start it, I'm now going to be contrary and say that looking at things like this misses the bigger picture.

And so what is that bigger picture that makes this series the worst so far (from a completey un-objective viewpoint, admittedly!!)? The reasons are threefold...
1) Half of it was a bit rubbish
2) The other half featured a Doctor who could pretty much be officially classed as MIA
3) A crappy assistant throughout

Number one, I don't think I really need to explain - we all know that this series got off to a decidedly dodgy start. After Smith and Jones, which I really did enjoy (sparky writing and so much promise from Ms. Jones), we had two poor episodes, two which were the worst new-Who episodes so far, and two which were a relief, but nothing special (I think I was a bit over-complimentary of both Lazarus and 42 at the time - blame the relief). That's six episodes out of 13 which range from really awful to just-above-average. And the fact that they were all lumped together *does* make a difference when you're looking at a series as a whole, because it affected how we judged everything else. By Evolution of the Daleks, I was seriously disillusioned. Doctor Who has never left me feeling disillusioned! I wasn't excited about the next episode, and that's just plain wrong.

Ok, onto the MIA Doctor. Just as the writing picked up massively (all hail Mr. Cornell) the Doctor became a bit-part in his own show. Human Nature/Family of Blood: John Smith. Blink: Doctor-lite. Utopia: The Jack Hartness Show. Sound of Drums: The Master Show. Last of the Time Lords: The Martha Show. The Doctor has ben subdued and underwritten this series, and while RTD would explain that as his grief at losing Rose, it's been totally unsatisfying to watch. I miss the Doctor, dammit! The Doctor who accidently quotes The Lion King, who beats out a samba, who snogs the Madame du Pompadour. As I say, I understand *why* the Doctor was low-key... I just didn't like it, not for a whole series. Maybe Kylie will bring him round.

And the crappy assistant. Yeah, let's do this! Among the Livejournal new-Who fangirls, it's perfectly normal to say 'I miss Rose; Rose was a better assistant', and today I align myself with them. I *do* miss Rose, I *do* think she was a better assistant and, for me, her departure has left a gaping hole in the show. Rose cracked jokes, was fiercely loyal, she looked into the heart of the TARDIS, she was literally the golden girl, she had something of the wolf about her. Rose was an amazing character; given masses to do (handled brilliantly by Piper) and acted as the emotional heart of the series - the very reason why Doctor Who has gained all these new fans. Martha is not a great character. And I've gotta reiterate, Freema is *not* the problem, because we've seen what she can do, and I'll actually look forward to her popping into the next series now. It's just that Martha's story was ill-judged, and hard to support.

Of course, I could do a whole post about what I enjoyed about this series - loved the range that David Tennant showed, the Human Nature/Family of Blood double-bill was gorgeous, and the Master was inspired. But there were overriding problems that mean that I don't look back on this series particularly fondly... and that's a shame.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Doctor Who - The Last Of The Time Lords

Well, this episode certainly proved once again what we all know - that when you want subtlety, you go to Paul Cornell or Steven Moffat, and when you want a proper finale, it just has to be RTD. His particular brand of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am writing doesn't always leave you satisfied in a mid-season episode, but no-one else could do the season closer. Only RTD would have the whole world more-than-decimated, only RTD would juxtapose that with a musical number featuring deep humiliation of the Doctor. This episode didn't *do* shades of grey, but hey, we've got other writers for that. I've gotta say though, that at one point, this black-and-white approach prompted me to have a little wobble. When the Master made the Doctor's 900 years show, and the Toclafane sphere was opened to reveal the mutilated human face, in that moment, it entered my mind that perhaps they'd gone too dark. On Confidential they've always said that they'll go as dark as they can, they'll just take out the gore. But I wasn't sure... I knew that RTD would balance out this low with an amzing high, but would little kids, faced with that horrific machine-head thing?! It freaked me out enough.

But what a bit of plotting. We'd assumed that Utopia would have to come back into it, but I can't imagine anyone had worked out exactly what was going on - the human race, coming back to kill their ancestors, and the inherent paradox of that stabilised by the Tardis. Just like the brilliant revelation that the Genesis Ark was a bigger-on-the-inside prison ship, this was one of those hugely satisfying moments that we all had faith would turn up, after last week's rather plodding affair, Master aside. Talking of the Master, John Simm continued to be brilliant - finding an actor that can equal Mr. Tennant's charisma must have been a difficult task, but they did it. Taking the Doctor out of the equation by aging him so dramatically was brave, given that he's the heart(s) of the show, but the team's faith in Simm to temporarily take over that role was thoroughly rewarded. Of course, it's only disappointing that Simm can never be our central hero... and that it appears that the next Master will be a woman, kinda ruling him out. (EDIT: Ok, I may have slightly misunderstood that... haha)

This wasn't The Master Show like last week, though; this was Martha's story. And yes, she was great. Strong, loyal, and self-reliant, Martha finally came into her own - she even became a myth, just like The Doctor himself. She saved the world. And Freema? We all know that when she's given something to do, she does it well, and this was undoubtedly her finest moment. I still don't believe that I've been unduly harsh on her before - I honestly don't think that there is anything special about her as an actress - but she has, undoubtedly, been ill-served by the writers. She has *not* gone on a journey, until last night, and a whole series of chilly relations between Doctor and assistant is not terribly enjoyable to watch, and, importantly, did not endear us towards her. Was Martha's ultimate victory enough of a pay-off for all of that? I'm not sure. I get the feeling that she'll be a different woman when she pops back into the show next season; the Martha Mark II version we saw last night, and the woman we'd have rather she had been from the beginning.

And the ending? Well, yes, the high did balance out that crashing low. The moment when the human race brought back our Doctor brought a little tear to my eye, and the Master's reaction - stop it, don't you dare - actually made me laugh out loud. But 'I forgive you'? Where's the 'no second chances, I'm that kind of a man' Doctor? Well, just as Martha is now a different woman, the Doctor is a different man. Rose made him feel less alone, and he lost her. The Master made him feel less alone, and he can't bear to lose him too. But he does - the Master wins. Not after another bit of pitch-perfect acting from DT, though - he has given superlative performaces throughout this series.

All of this should have been enough, but RTD had that final revelation... that Captain Jack is very slowly aging... that he used to be a poster boy... that they called him the Face of Boe. My jaw quite literally dropped. A twist of that much brilliance... well, it almost makes you forget those early dodgy episodes.

EDIT - Oh, and to be clear.... I thought it was excellent!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

And the thing that keeps popping into my head and making me think 'woah, that's the best thing ever'...?

It's a spoiler if you haven't seen the last Doctor Who yet...

No really, you don't wanna know this if you've not watched it....

It's huge, I'm not gonna spoil it for you...

Last chance, I'm saying it in the next one...

CAPTAIN JACK IS THE FREAKIN' FACE OF BOE! My *goodness* that's one hell of a twist. The best so far. I'll do the proper review tomorrow.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Personal news...

Just thought that there'd be a few people who'd like to know my degree result... I got a first! It was quite unexpected actually... but I'm very happy, obviously :) Thanks to the people who've sent good vibes over the last three years!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mark Wright on Martha

"Freema Agyeman continues to shine, and Russell T Davies gives the actress some of her very best material here. While Rose was still making doe eyes at the Doctor this time last year, Martha is quite happy giving him a hard time as she watches her family being dragged away by the Master. “It’s all your fault!” she screams at him, a far cry from the lovelorn medical student we met 12 episodes ago. And as Martha is forced to leave the Doctor and Jack at the mercy of the Master, I can’t wait to see what she does next week. For this reviewer’s money, Martha Jones is the best Doctor Who companion since Sarah Jane Smith. Ooh, controversial…" TV Today

I wish I saw it. I wish I didn't think that she was a distinctly average actress. It would have made this series so much more enjoyable...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Doctor Who - The Sound of Drums

I really need to watch this again. Because, well, I didn't like it all that much. Here's the problems:

It was as if RTD got so involved in writing great stuff for the Master (*brilliantly* delivered by Mr. Simm of course) that he didn't leave time to do anything else very well. Necessary Gallifrey exposition? Oh, Doc can just sit down and tell it. Necessary Torchwood exposition? Oh, Jack can just sit down and tell it. Yup, that bit in the warehouse was pretty awful.

And I think that the perception thingy worked a bit too well because Jack, Martha and even the Doctor were all kinda absent. Just... dull. Maybe that's the Master being sucessful at neutralising the Doctor's assets; maybe RTD just had his eye off the ball.

Oh, and to have the first big discussion between the Doctor and the Master conducted ON THE PHONE? I think the correct Web 2.0 phrase is: WTF?!

Don't get me wrong, I *loved* John Simm as the Master, while I know that it's this performance (led completely by the script, if Simm on Confidential is to be believed) that will have been a problem for some people. It was just everything else that irked me. And yet I have *total* faith that next week's will be a total killer.

Hmm. Second watching is needed.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting sucked into the Digital Spy forums

is *so* not a good idea when you're trying to avoid Who-spoilers. I've been very good though... but how can people bear to read it all?!

Freema gets unequivocal

"The actress, who plays Martha Jones in the hit drama, told Metro: "I don’t know where it came from but I’m not getting axed. It was quite horrible to read it. I’m not going."
from Digital Spy

It's sad that that got me down, isn't it?

Birthday wishes to Rob's blog

My favourite way to start the day :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Having re-watched Utopia...

1) How did I fail to notice that John Barrowman was on the opening credits! Quite an honour, utterly deserved.

2) The Master is obessed with the Doctor's old hand... is that because he wanted it near him to make sure he regen'd into something akin to the current Doctor? Or is it going to become even more important as time goes on..?

3) RTD clearly decided to write Martha exactly like Rose - concerned with the little kid, getting Chanto to 'swear' etc...

4) That discussion between Jack and the Doctor was too cool...

er, that's it.

Paul Fuzz on Icky Thump

A fantastic post about Icky Thump-as-hiphop-track. He's put in links and everything! Oh, and it's a great read.

Saturday, June 16, 2007



Love it.

Doctor Who - Utopia

Jack! Watch! Cardiff! Jacobi! Rose! Master! Simm!
Who overload... that was *ridiculous*. Loved having Jack back, loved his big talk with the Doctor, loved John Simm. *Ridiculous*. That's about as much as I can say.

There we were thinking this was one of those rubbish story/great dialogue episodes that only RTD does and then those last few minutes. You can't say whether that was good or bad, it was 45 minutes of set-up. But when what you're setting up is the most intriguing and potentially awesome bit of New-Whoness, who the hell cares?

P.S. My reaction text to Mum read thusly: WWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! So, what with me, this blogger, and another one, it's post-Doomsday syndrome all over again. But in a very different way. I also like this from Emily-Anne:
"Dude! Awesomeness! With the John Barrowman (in the opening credits!) and the Derek Jacobi and the John Simm totally rocking the hell out those two minutes at the end there!" Brilliant.

P.P.S. Is there *any way* that the form that the Master now takes could be the next form that the Doctor takes? Pretty please?