Friday, 25 July 2008

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

I have said before that we don't see enough of David Calder so I was pleased to find him in Burn Up, even though it turned out to be enjoyable twaddle with a preposterous but suitably swishy plot.

What really set me wondering though is the thought that, however well intentioned, this sort of show might mean that the evidence for global warming (the disaster the heroes are trying to prevent) might also be dismissed as enjoyable twaddle. This came to the fore during the scenes set in a photogenic cold and endangered artic type place. The reason I didn't note where this cold place was supposed to be was that I was distracted with a wide range of simultaneous thoughts including:
  • Can we get the obligatory sex scene out of the way now so that we can get back to the preposterous plot?

  • Am I a bad person to laugh at the phrase 'An inconvenient poop' or just lacking in any taste or discrimination?

  • I wonder if the gas given off by the melting ice really does burn like that?

  • Jeremy Clarkson will be heading off to this place with his lighter as soon as he hears about this.

What I really want to know though, is whether the facts are soundly based on science or if they have been 'sexed-up' by a little bit or a lot. Clearly these are worst case scenarios as these make the best story, but I would have liked some more information. Perhaps we could have a rolling feed at the bottom of the screen to say things like '...Clearly this is a highly implausible plot device, but the ice really will do that honest!.....' and '....This bit is based on real research and you can find it here...' or that sort of thing anyway.

So, does this sort of enjoyable hokum help the case for doing something about global warming, or hinder it?

I might, of course, be taking it all too seriously. In so many ways anything featuring Rupert Penry-Jones, Bradley Whitford, and Marc Warren has got to be worth watching anyway, so I have series linked it on my skybox regardless.

UPDATE: Well I watched the final episode, and it was still enjoyable hokum. The main result for me is the re-ignition of my love for Bradley Whitford and another bout of mourning for The West Wing.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Uxbridge Odyssey

Harper Regan is on its final few weeks at the Cottesloe, and I popped in to see it yesterday. Directed by Marianne Elliot (Much Ado in 2006, and Saint Joan last year) and with Lesley Sharp in the lead, I really didn’t want to miss it.

However, when it started I began to get a sinking feeling in my stomach that this was going to be a stagey piece that would never get me involved. The first half, a series of vignettes, beautifully acted but full of oblique language and loaded pauses never really took off as a whole, although it got me thinking very hard, trying to piece together what on earth was going on. Was there a coherent story here at all, was there a family secret lurking, or was it all just a load of nothing? Clearly, I wasn’t the only one, as the foyer in the interval was full of people debating these very points, interspersed with those who had already read reviews and programme notes, and so were ready to drag their more imaginative friends back to what the point was most likely to be.

I returned for the second half thinking that this was going to be thought-provoking but perhaps just a touch worthy. But I was wrong. In the second half the play suddenly took off. I’m not quite sure how they did it, as it gripped me so well that I stopped watching the smoke and mirrors and just settled down to enjoy the ride. The main turning point came, I think, with the two scenes of mothers and daughters which were raw, exhausting and exhilarating to watch. How do actors manage to shout and cry every night without just getting too tired to be bothered?

The final scene was perfectly played, just avoiding sentimentality, and I heard that almost silent sigh from the audience at the final black out which I think means that I wasn’t the only one who was impressed.

Lesley Sharp was just as brilliant as I would have expected, Nick Sidi was a bit of a revelation, but I was blown away by Jessica Raine who hasn’t even left Rada yet, but left me hanging on her every word, move and breath. If she isn’t very, very famous indeed in a few years time I will buy a hat just so I can eat it.

Monday, 7 July 2008

'Skinny Boys in Suits'

Well, what a rollercoaster ride it has been for those final Dr Who episodes…

I watched them back to back when I returned from holiday, pausing just for a short catching of breath and the tiniest of ‘woo-hoos’ before continuing on to the grand finale of Journey’s End.

Cheesy? Yes. Did it matter? Not one tiny bit.

I was always keen on Catherine Tate as a companion, but I have to say she surpassed all my expectations. It was great to see a really sound buddy relationship on the TARDIS. Another fascinating thing was how similar Tate’s fast talking persona is to Tennant’s – it took this episode for me to really see it though. I wonder if the casting or the plot came first? Woteva, it worked for me.

So, I was really sad to see Donna go home – more so than Rose, who seemed a bit out of place this series, perhaps intentionally…. I got really confused about whether she got her happy ending. On the whole, I think not, although she got a very pretty substitute to play with. Gives the option for lots more complicated reunions in the future though, so all in all quite a smart move I think.

Clever RTD though – just what we needed to clear the decks ready for the start of a new regime. And didn’t he have fun – putting in all the bits you would expect, and having lots of little games, like the Daleks interrupting the brilliantly clich├ęd Rose and Doctor reunion. Very, very silly, but I liked very much.

I have loved every incarnation of Dr Who that I have ever seen, although I do have a bit of a gap between Peter Davidson and Paul McGann*. So I don’t have much truck with the competition between different incarnations, and tend to lap it up uncritically, whatever I am given, but here is my wish list for the next series anyway.

• Keep with the teatime family drama and up the sci-fi content a bit
• Lets have the Doctor back to his snappy, energetic, fast-talking self, rather than moping about with tears in his eyes.
• Lovely though it all was, I think the Doctor’s heart has been broken enough now – surely a Time Lord will need to hang around with mates for at least an aeon before he will have recovered.
• Bernard Cribbins was great – I’d like to see Wilf as a companion for one of the specials at least
• More running about and pulling levers on complicated Heath Robinson type machinery please.
• Bring back the Master and let us have a little rest from the Daleks

So that I’ve got all my Doctor Who thoughts dealt with in one go, here are my wishes for the next Doctor:
Black : Shaun Parkes**,
Female: Catherine Tate**, Tamsin Greig ** or Ann Marie Duff
Pretty and Talented: Julian Rhind-Tutt, James McAvoy, or John Simm**
Just because he’d be brilliant: Philip Glenister

*Colin what?.... Sylvester who?....lalalala
** Who cares if they have been in the series before?