Sunday, 21 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impression: Episode 6 (Extremis)

(Doctor Who impressions! Spoilers! Yep!)


The Doctor as President? This simulation is already better
than reality.
So here we are, back again with a High Concept Steven Moffat Episode that also furthers along the arc of the series, so to speak. It's absolutely a very good One Of Those, despite my usual gripes about a Steven Moffat arc that I've had already. More to the point... I should be careful what I fucking wish for. On my pal Rainiac's Doctor Who podcast thing, I have expressed a desire for more weird shit to happen. I probably said that after we did Knock Knock and I was let down by how stock it was. Well, THE FINGER SURE DID FUCKIN CURL ON THAT MONKEY'S PAW DIDN'T IT? Moffat threw a bunch of shit into a blender and made another Doctor Who smoothie. This isn't just "Doctor Who Does X", this is "Doctor Who Does A WHOLE BUNCH OF BULLSHIT AT ONCE". Lovecraftian undertones of an understanding of the universe beyond our human comprehension, mixed with equal parts Star Trek, Hitchhiker's Guide, The Dark Tower, The Mind Robber, The Happening, and Undertale. Garnish with Moffat tropes and you have your Doctor Who smoothie for this week. Fuck it, get my bendy straw. We're going in full throttle with this one.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 5 (Oxygen)

(Doctor Who post. Spoilers.)

Holy mother of fuck.

You've got red on you.
What's that? We did the "one sentence synopsis" gag last week? Shit. Okay I guess we do have to talk more about that episode of Doctor Who, then. Nah, I'm just heckin' with ya, I was going to elaborate on it any way. You know my time wasting/stalling shenanigans by now, but unfortunately they have run out. Run out right about now. At the end of this sentence. Period. That was also a smart joke but what we have here is a very smart episode of Doctor Who! Oxygen, by Jamie Mathieson, who is perhaps Doctor Who's most consistent writer in the Capaldi era. His previous three episodes were all highlights of their respective series. Mummy On The Orient Express was a solid episode with a lot of cool tricks and puzzle solving. Flatline brought Clara Oswald full-on into her role as a mirror of the Doctor. The Girl Who Died was an oasis of high-quality Doctor Who after wading through an underwater base of shit. That's where we are yet again. Knock Knock was no Before The Flood, but it was a letdown from a really good run of three in a row. Oxygen not only climbs back up to those peaks, but it may even surpass them. I haven't decided if it's beaten out Thin Ice as the best S10 episode so far, but we'll see how I feel about that once I get all of the words out on the page.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

A Psychic History: A Magically-Imbued Walking Tour In Gander, Newfoundland

What you are about to experience is a magic spell. All of my word projects are, in a way. I imbue my thoughts and they travel along ley lines, from the neurons of my brain to the impulses which make my fingers hit keys on a keyboard. Those make electrical connections which send them onto the screen, and when I am done I use a cable which connects me to information on the rest of the world to place the words onto an Internet website and create a link... a link which you clicked, with your finger impulses led by the neurons in your brain. We're linked now, you and I. I call it the psychic link. Here, then, is the form that the magic takes. I borrow my phrasings from Pathfinder, the tabletop roleplaying game. This is not arcane magic, nor is it divine magic. It is psychic magic, and it is an art I have dabbled in before. I have created travel vlogs of my trips to Grand Bank, Newfoundland. In them I rant in a basement and occasionally go outside to show off interesting things. In this old Nintendo Project post, I wedded an average walk in my hometown area with the endless adventure that the two Legend Of Zelda games on the NES offered. This has had many names. Psychogeography. Psychochronography. I am opting to call what I do "psychic history". The spell has rules, as all spells should. I physically visit a place, inhabiting its streets and walking down them and experiencing them as is typical of any average day. I take photos (or video, in Grand Bank's case) of this place that I visit. I then share them, and write words about the experience of being in that place and what the buildings and sights mean to me personally. By sharing my own personal memories and imprints of what I saw, I give them extra power and imbue them with their own special psychic history... which then gets passed on to you. You are the recipients of the spell, and by taking in the words you gain part of the power of their memory. Perhaps even becoming more enlightened as a result!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 4 (Knock Knock)

(Doctor Who review. New episode. Spoilers. You get it.)


"And THIS is a selfie with me, David Bowie, and a Krarg."
Oh, alright, you get more than that. This is, simply put, "the spooky one". As of now, that is; Series 10 could pull another "the spooky one" out of its hat in the next 8 weeks. Any savvy viewer of Doctor Who knows how the spooky one works by now. There's a spooky house and spooky things happen in it and people get killed by the spooky thing while the Doctor tries to sort it out. There are a lot of good spooky moments and good character moments that we'll get to as I write more words, but beyond that this episode is wildly mediocre. It isn't terrible, just passable. That's unfortunate considering how the previous three episodes all had some really interesting and cool shit happening in them. The Pilot had Bill intro stuff and the rules of Puddle!Heather, Smile spends the majority of its time as a two-hander and has some stuff about robots, and Thin Ice has class issues and a racist getting the shit kicked out of him, getting denied something for the first time in his privileged life, and dying a commoner's death. (I really liked Thin Ice, can you tell?) What does Knock Knock have? A stock premise with some creepy imagery and a very Doctor Who ending. That's about it, but the foundation of this haunted house isn't all that rock solid. Hell, you can hear it creaking. Let's dig into it.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 3 (Thin Ice)

(Hello! You know the drill, I think. This is an episode of Doctor Who that just aired yesterday and there are spoilers for it, so if you've not seen it yet go watch it. Okay? Okay.)

Oh yes, that was quite nice and I'm still grinning like an idiot at that one definitive part where Doctor Who lays its cards on the table. We're going to get into that, apolitical blogging be DAMNED, but we gotta build to it just like the episode does. So, this is Thin Ice! That's Thin Ice by Sarah Dollard, not Thin Ice by Marc Platt which is a 1990 Doctor Who story with the 7th Doctor, Ice Warriors, and Ace leaving to go to Time Lord school. A 1990 story that never got made due to the minor problem of the show getting shitcanned in 1989, but it got an audio adaptation. I haven't listened to it. We straight up reused the title, but if like every goddamned Dalek story ever can be called Blank Of The Daleks then I see no harm in using a title for an unmade story for... an actually made one. That was a nice little tangent to bulk up my opening paragraph, aren't I fun? So, Sarah Dollard! She did Face The Raven last series! I really loved Face The Raven. It was the best Clara departure ever for the thirteen days in which it appeared to be Clara's actual departure. "Let me be brave" still resonates with me. Thin Ice is another memorable one, and it's quite good and I enjoyed it a lot. It'll probably be remembered, if not for being "the one with a giant fish under the Thames" then for that scene. Again, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Or, as we'd say on my pal Rainiac's Doctor Who Review podcast... we can't talk about that yet. He's cribbing from this writeup for his next episode 'cause I'm sitting it out to let another cohost get on and not crowd up shit, so I'm talking to the future here when he's looking shit up. Ahem. BIG FISH'S EYE REFLECTED IN BILL'S DIVING HELMET. MIRROR SHOT! MIRROR SHOT! QUOTE THIS VERBATIM ON THE SHOW! Now that we have that out of the way, let's tackle Thin Ice.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 2 (Smile)

(Hello hello! As always, this is an overview of a Doctor Who episode that just aired as of writing and there are spoilers for it in here! Go watch it first and then read it! These are customary spoiler warnings! On with it.)

The above face is not my Siskel/Ebert style ranking
of the episode.
In the end, it feels like I'm going in circles with this show. This is by no means a bad thing, as one of Doctor Who's strengths is building off of itself to tell a new and interesting story. Here we do basically just that. I spent time with my "5 Worst Doctor Who Stories That I Really Like" article rewatching and defending The Rings Of Akhaten, which is the last time we got the "new companion's first TARDIS trip to the amazing, strange, and wonderful world of the future!" plot. That's rattling in my head as I think back on Smile, as are the multiple little thematic homages and similarities to other Doctor Who stories that I caught. Then there's the fact that this comes from Frank Cotrell-Boyce, writer of Series 8's In The Forest Of The Night, an episode which (unless some really dire shit happens in the next 10 weeks) will almost certainly be in the top three of fandom's worst Capaldi episodes. He manages to make an episode that is not the worst ever this time, and I mostly enjoyed it. Unfortunately the point at which I stopped enjoying it is about the 3/4ths mark, but we will get to the good shit that led up to that.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Disney Afternoon Collection: A Review

Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. Wistfulness for the entertainment of one's youth is a major driving factor in a lot of computer games, and it's been presented in a variety of different ways. You can make something that deliberately echoes a particular aesthetic or genre from the older days of games easily, be it done in pixel art or any other particular style. From there, you can go further and lovingly improve upon the good parts of history with more modern mechanics and design decisions, or poke fun at the percieved parts of those golden days that didn't really work. No matter what one does with their nostalgic remakes or reimaginings and whatnot, the originals are still out there with all the power they once held. We can still revisit them and let their merits and flaws stand as they were. 2015's Mega Man Legacy Collection, from Capcom and Digital Eclipse, offered this museum curation approach by putting six classic action-platformers into one bundle for a bargain price, adding a bunch of extra bells and whistles. This, then, is the spiritual successor. In the early 1990s Capcom partnered with Disney to make games based on the animated series which appeared on Disney's "Disney Afternoon" block of programming, and many of them are regarded as all-time classics which still inspire great nostalgia in people today. Now, the museum curation approach is applied to a group of those games. This is The Disney Afternoon Collection. Currently on display, the childhood memories of an entire generation.