Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘watching’

Rolling Around Like Weasels [Xena Rewatch 3.20-3.22]

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

3.20 – Vanishing Act

“Somewhere in this castle he is chained up with two hundred locks… it’s going to take him at least an hour to get out of them.”

Another Autolycus episode! OK it’s been nearly a year for me because for some reason Season 3 got the better of me, but it does seem odd to have two apparently unlinked episodes with the same guest star right next to each other. Even odder that the only reference to previous episodes is that time Xena borrowed his body, and not the time they saw each other just last week. But of course as I keep reminding myself, this is the 90’s model of television, before season-long arcs were officially encouraged, when the ideal was to have episodes that could be shown in random order.

I especially shouldn’t complain about this because thanks to the marvels of Australian television, I did indeed watch most of Xena in entirely the wrong order. As of this rewatch there are still a couple of essential episodes I am yet to see!

In any case, this is a good old fashioned Autolycus romp, in which he is taking one of his rare tourist trips to the right side of Xena’s moral line, which means she has an excuse to enjoy a mad heist with him. (And indeed the whole question of moral lines is explored further, as it turns out that Auto is firmly in the ‘no killing people’ camp while Xena only draws the line at profiting from crime (okay, and cold-blooded execution).


Armageddon When?? [Xena Rewatch Interlude]

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

It’s been a while again! Apparently I don’t have the stamina to watch my way through all six seasons of Xena in one go. Before I move on to finish off the last disc of Season 3, though, there’s a crossover I need to discuss from Xena’s parent/brother show, Hercules the Legendary Journeys.

Hercules had got pretty awesome by its Season 4 (concurrent with Xena’s Season 3), moving away from dull monster-or-god-of-the-week stories to make the most of its adaptable, talented New Zealand cast and crew. Season 4 was when they really started having fun and experimenting with the format, not only in the outrageous comedy and musical episodes, but also with some audacious and epic drama. Yes, really, Hercules.


Still Waiting for Community

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Community fans have been understandably trepidatious about the new season of Community without Dan Harmon at the helm but now it seems it has been pushed back to an undetermined future date. Sob!

The cast, at least, are keeping up a sense of humour about it.

Our fans are like the Spartans. They’re small but they will kill any large army.”
[Joel McHale]

There’s even a video, released on the 19th October, the original date that the show was supposed to start airing:


“Not Just a Journalist But a Woman Journalist!” [Review: Planet of the Spiders]

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Crossposted from Doctor Her

“Planet of the Spiders” (1974)
Season 11: Production Code ZZZ

Written by: Robert Sloman & (uncredited) Barry Letts
Directed by: Barry Letts
Script Editor: Terrance Dicks

THE DOCTOR: Jon Pertwee & (uncredited) Tom Baker
SARAH JANE SMITH: Elisabeth Sladen
SGT. BENTON: John Levene
MIKE YATES: Richard Franklin
LUPTON: John Dearth

I once tried to convince Raeli to cosplay this outfit for a party - she had the stripy top but refused to add the spider!

I didn’t mean to rewatch Planet of the Spiders this weekend, but when your seven-year-old daughter voluntarily suggests a touch of Jon Pertwee, you don’t turn her down!

This final story of the Third Doctor’s run is one of my absolute favourites, and has been since… wow. Probably since I was about the age my daughter Raeli is now. It’s a complete love letter to Jon Pertwee and the UNIT Years, with callbacks to previous stories. We even get a letter and a parcel from Jo Grant, a year after she left the show – a very rare example of a companion getting a chance to ‘call in’ after making her farewell, even if we don’t hear Katy Manning’s actual voice. We also get some cute character moments from each of the UNIT regulars, including Benton being adorably domestic, and the Brigadier unexpectedly (against his will!) revealing a snippet of his romantic history with a young lady called Doris.

I’ve been surprised in recent years to hear quite scathing criticisms of this story, especially the indulgent but completely awesome many-vehicles chase sequence, and the not-so-great acting among the Metebelis Three colonists. None of which bothers me at all, because I was raised with an Ignoring the Bad Bits lens through which to view classic Doctor Who stories. If you don’t have one, bet you wish you did. I try never to use this power for evil.


Dear John Richards

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I *saw* what you did in tonight’s episode of Outland. Just saying.

(and laughed myself into hiccups)

Watching New Who: The Runaway Bride

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Original fan art by Kathleen Jennings.

“The Runaway Bride”
Season Two Christmas Special
The Doctor – David Tennant
Donna Noble – Catherine Tate

Check out Kathleen’s awesome artwork at her blog, particularly her regular Dalek Game pieces! And you might like to know that Kathleen is eligible for Best Fan Artist, if you’re nominating for the Hugos…

This Christmas Special was probably one of the most divisive Doctor Who stories in its time, because it all came down to whether you loved or hated Donna (Catherine Tate). I liked Donna at the time, but came to love her more and more in retrospect, and so I find that I like this story more every time I watch it. Having said that, I’m not in it for the plot!


Watching New Who: Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

“The Rise of the Cybermen” / “The Age of Steel”

Season two, episodes five and six

The Doctor – David Tennant
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Mickey Smith – Noel Clarke

I thought the early part of the first episode was notable for Ten’s high school nastiness to Mickey in the beginning of the episode (and really, throughout). Although perhaps there’s some change in his attitude as the two-parter progresses.

David would have been pleased to see the return of Pete!

Yes, I think this is an uneven story in some ways, but it has some great moments in it and the return of Pete (and departure of Mickey) make it worth us paying particular attention, even if it wasn’t Hugoworthy. It’s in many ways Mickey’s story, the one where we see him come into his own, not just as a hero worthy to travel in the TARDIS, but one independent of the Doctor, whose future lies elsewhere. I was sorry to see him go so soon because, as with Jack, it felt like the threesome crew were being given short shrift, but happy to see him find his future.


Watching New Who: The Girl in the Fireplace

Friday, October 28th, 2011

“The girl in the fireplace” – Season two, episode four
The Doctor – David Tennant
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Mickey Smith – Noel Clarke
Sophia Myles – Reinette

One of the advantages the episodic format gives shows like Doctor Who is that the writers get a chance to play around with all sorts of concepts, and experiment a little. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the later seasons of Smallville so much, for example, because you never knew what you were going to get. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is never boring and gives great scope for creativity. I can just imagine the writers sitting around and throwing in ideas for this one. Steampunk and clockwork? Why not? Love story? Sure!

It’s Steampunk In Space!! Awesomely awesome :) I like the longer story arcs we get in New Who, but when the individual episodes are done this well, I love them too. This one is a standout.

This episode has so much to talk about! Given the previous episode, the theme of mortality, and how a, if not immortal, long lived being like the Doctor interacts with short lived humans was very timely. I also enjoyed the way her perceptions of the Doctor changed, which mirrors the differences between how we watch the show as children, and then as adults. And, of course, the idea of the Doctor as the hero, quite literally riding to the rescue, was something that resonated with me.

One of the other interesting things about this episode is that you could take someone who has never seen Doctor Who before, and knows nothing more about it than it’s a British sci fi show, and it would stand up completely on its own. It’s so self contained that it works as a stand alone sci fi love story, yet more excellent writing.

This is another of my favourites, and further evidence that Steven Moffat’s (as writer) take on the show was going to be hugely important to New Who. After being supremely cheeky in “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” by addressing the idea of the Doctor flirting and possibly having a sex life (albeit couched in metaphor!) as well as being very relaxed around different sexual orientations, he follows up with this story which unashamedly gives the Doctor a romance.

However you feel about Rose and whether what’s going on between her and the Doctor is romantic or not (it can certainly be read either way at this point), there is no mistaking what is going on with him and Madame De Pompadour in this story. Kissing! Mind-reading! White charger! Doom!


Watching New Who: School Reunion

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

“School Reunion”
Season two, episode three

The Doctor – David Tennant
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Sarah Jane – Elisabeth Sladen

We only skip one episode (the werewolf-ish “Tooth and Claw”) before we get to the first of Season Two’s Hugo nominees, “School Reunion”. I think it’s pretty obvious why this one got the fan nod. Not only does it have Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) of BTVS (My fandoms! They cross over!) but of course, we see here the return of Sarah Jane and K9! Fan heads all over the world must have exploded Tansy!

I do want to say one thing about “Tooth and Claw” – I loved how Tennant’s Scottish was showing in that one – listen hard, you’ll hear it :)

I don’t think you have to listen too hard, he’s outright doing his own accent for most of the episode! I am a little wistful they wouldn’t let him be Scottish as the Doctor generally. He has a beautiful voice.

Other than the last five minutes, I thought “Tooth and Claw” was an excellent episode, I really enjoyed it. Had a nice nod to Classic Who, some great character acting and an awesome fight scene!

Heh it’s amazing how many stories of this era are brilliant until the last five minutes. But let’s leap ahead to the head-explodey “School Reunion”!


Watching New Who: New Earth

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

“New Earth”
Season two, episode one
The Doctor – David Tennant
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper

Keeping in mind we’re reviewing this episode as the official Season Two opener (rather than because it was a Hugo-nominated ep or any such point of interest!), “New Earth” starts out with Rose and the Doctor leaving Jackie and Mickey behind and heading off on their new journey.

I wasn’t really sure what to think about this episode. It’s very ambitious in that it tries to tackles some complex moral issues (at what point does something become human, do the ends justify the means, medical ethics), which is something I really enjoy in science fiction, but I think that it was a case of great concept and average execution. It’s an odd mix of some very light hearted scenes and some far darker undertones which took a little bit of adjustment.

Yes, whenever I remember this episode I cringe about it and only remember the bad bits, but when I watch it, I mostly enjoy it. Though I hate the opening scene of the ridiculously-happy-honeymooning Doctor and Rose, as it represents the overall smug tone that I think was laid on far too thick this season (rewatching the season, it’s not quite as prevalent as I remembered, but comes in irritating fits and starts). I would have far preferred some hint that she is still uneasy about his transition rather than the whole NINE WHO? attitude.

Rose: Can I just say, travelling with you, I love it.
Ten: Me too.

Rose, I do not think he means what you think he means there. Self-centred much?


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