Sunday, March 20, 2005

Rose 2

The A-Z of Doctor Who: A quickie primer for the new series.
P Piper, Billie ... the Doctor's new companion, Rose - and unlike in the old days, the show is focused as much on her character as the Time Lord's. The tabloids have applauded this recognition that things have moved on since 1963, which is why they've printed so many photographs of her in her knickers.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Rose

The first episode of the new Who series bodes well. It's got some of the little clunks you expect in a premiere, even though it's already firmly in a context. The main thing is: it's true enough to what was good about about the original series without being crushed under the weight of 25+ years of baggage -- no mean feat. It retains a certain childish charm, yet is smart enough for the older set to enjoy.

Eccleston as the Doctor is quite good, as expected. There's no transition from McGann (is Richard Grant officially part of the continuity?) but we are given to believe he is newly regenerated. If there's an axis of the Who archetypes, he plots nearest Pertwee and Tom Baker, but Eccleston has definitely made the role his own. He's got a bit of Colin Baker's arrogance and a touch of Troughton's playfulness, just enough to feel like the Doctor, but not too much of any to come off as apeing.

Billie Piper is excellent as Rose. She's the focal point of the episode and carries it off quite well. I get the sense the show is every bit as much Rose's as the Doctor's, a refreshing shift in focus.

The Tardis hits and misses for me. It looks just different enough from the outside to look like a fake, but that'll pass. The inside I felt was a little too cluttered and bat-cavey. The old console in the middle of a bare floor made no sense, but this seems a bit too much of an overcompesation. I loved the touch of being able to see into the inside from outside, something that never happened in the old show. Later though, I found myself missing the idea there could be an antechamber between the outside door and the interior. This way it looks like poor design, as if someone could chuck a rock in and hit the central console.

The opening music and title sequence are a perfect update. The dematerialisation sound effect is comfortably familiar. Davies & Co. are clearly sending the message to fans of the old show that this is still Doctor Who. Whatever may come, it's the same continuity.

The Autons were a curious choice for debut villains. Without giving anything away, good use was made of their inherent creepiness. On the other hand, I wished they'd not brought back the hand that opens up to a gun; it just doesn't make sense. And, if they cand do they do the T3-type morphing late in the show, why don't they earlier?

The humor is maybe a hair broader and scattershot than it needed to be. I'm condfident that's a kink they'll work out though. The Auton Garbage Pail didn't need to belch after flytrapping Rose's boyfriend (who by the way, was the only sketchy actor of the lot) -- I told myself "it's a kid's show and that would make my nephew laugh," but I knew it would be the clangingly wrong note that'd stick with me.

I've forced myself to try to be objective and not gush, but I really need to cut loose and admit that, as a fanboy, I was in geek heaven watching this. What's great is I don't feel like this is going to be a guilty pleasure. This should appeal to the Buffy/Angel/Firefly and Farscape crowd. The writing and acting are every bit as good as we've been conditioned to expect by Whedon and this time the fx don't condemn the show to easy dismissal by those unwilling to make allowances.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Usenet Alert

The first episode of the new Doctor Who is up at alt.binaries.drwho. Review pending ...

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Stickin' It to Duke Poker Stylee (Or, The Poor Man's Jackpot Jay Busts the Braggadocio)

I signed up the All-In Poker Challenge at ESPN.com today. The deal is: they are running for 11 weeks (I'm not sure how many weeks are left), you have to win five single table tourneys during the week to qualify for the Sunday tourney, the top finishers in the Sunday Tourneys get into a Final Tourney at the end of the thing, and the winner gets a seat at the next WSOP. It's free, so i'm trying it.

I won 3 tourneys before breakfast, then took the afternoon off to watch the games on CBS. (Man, UConn sure has Syracuse's number. I guarantee you nobody wants to play the Huskies in the NCAAs. Did you happen to catch the Villanueva board and baseball outlet to the sreaking Gay? Sweet.) Won the next two while watching the Sox and Reds play a Grapefruit League game. The sweetest thing was winning the fifth tourney heads up against a guy with 'dukeblue' for a screen name. I stole a big pot with deuce-five offsuit to take a commanding lead. It seemed like a good time to start trash talking. "Kid, Duke doesn't beat UConn anymore." "Ooh, losing that pot's gotta make your head hurt. Like when Sellers bounced Laettner's head off the court -- that kinda hurt." "Langdon travelled. Langdon travelled." "Are you killing me stroftly yet?" "I'm gonna shock the world!" He never responded, probably wasn't even reading the chat, but it was still fun.

If you're thinking about playing, get ready for a certain amount of frustration. You have to be pretty quick to get on a table. It's like playing musical chairs with a thousand players and five chairs. Then, when you do get a seat, you have to accept the fact that of the ten players, at least 4 will be all-in on the first hand. Seriously, every table I played it was the same damn thing. Their hands will be A-4 offsuit, K-9 offsuit, 2-4 suited, and maybe a 6-7 suited for good measure. You must resist the urge to call them, even with bullets, because either the K-9 will fill his straight or the 2-4 will flush up. Then, you've got an idiot with half the chips in play that you've got to chip away at. Also, the cards are a little cmaller than I'd like, so it's hard to tell clubs from spades. I had to switch to the 4 color deck to stop betting at illusory flush draws.

Friday, March 4, 2005

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Did Sci-Fi Pass on the New Doctor Who?


... Sources tell IGNFF, Sci Fi Channel has already had a chance at the new series and passed after viewing some of the completed episodes. Some of the executives at the network found the series somewhat lacking and didn't think it would fit into the network's schedule[IGN]
According to the article, other reviewers have had a better reaction.
Q Magazine, a popular UK music magazine, has dubbed the new series "must see viewing" in a review published this past week.

Reviewer Boyd Hilton (also the TV editor for Heat Magazine) appears to have seen several completed episodes and was very impressed with what he saw. Describing the series as "every bit as good as its 70's heyday", Hilton also remarks that "you don't need to be a geek to enjoy it."
Eccleston I already liked from "The Second Coming," and I caught Billie Piper in "The Miller's Tale" the other night -- she seems like she's got more acting chops than any of the Doctor's companions since ... well, you might have to go back to the the Romanas to find another as comfortable in front of the camera. I've still got high hopes for the quality of the new series.

Actually, if this is indeed one of the new baddies, I think I detect a bit of Farscape influence, which could be a good thing.
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