October 9th, 2006

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, kuddlepup and lukebacca!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

A great eater, who cheats at hotels, eating-shops, and oyster-cellars; from a person of that name who lived many years ago, and who was an enormous oyster-eater. According to the stories related of him, Dando would visit an oyster-room, devour an almost fabulous quantity of bivalves, with porter and bread and butter to match, and then calmly state that he had no money.
--John Camden Hotten's Slang Dictionary, 1887

Columbus Day observed (US)
Thanksgiving Day (Canada)

Colchester Oyster Festival

In the history of festivity, the Colchester Oyster Feast is unique. The origin of the feast is lost in the mists of antiquity, although its written records go back to 1667. It appears to have been held every year on St. Denis's Day, October 9th. ... In recent years [it] has become a great public function to which have been invited some of the most eminent men of the day. British native oysters were renowned in ancient Rome, and their praises sung by Juvenal, Martial, and other Latin poets. Even before the Christian era, the historian Sallust declared, "there is some good in the poor Britons -- they can produce a good oyster."
--Frederick Hackwood's Good Cheer: The Romance of Food and Feasting, 1911

They're feasting on Dennis Day! Oh the humanity!

-The Gneech
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And Then He Was Gone

laurie_robey and I watched the last of the Ninth Doctor episodes tonight, making this the second Doctor who's entire run I've watched. (The first being McGann, obviously.)

A lot of Whovians don't like "Boom Town" for some reason; I enjoyed it enough, but like "The Long Game" it was largely forgettable, having only really existed (also like "The Long Game") to set up the ending of "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways".

"Bad Wolf" has a dorky, overdone premise that will look dated in a few years the way the First Doctor tuning in The Beatles on his "time TV" does now; it was still a dumbfun episode, but is definite "switch off your brain" material. (Okay ... why would the Daleks create macabre copies of millennia-old gameshows where people appear to get killed in order to secretly teleport them away? Why not, y'know, just secretly teleport people away when there aren't witnesses? Even on the Doctor Who scale of plot contrivance, that's just silly.)

"The Parting of the Ways" carries on the tradition of the badly-titled second half, but is a much stronger episode. The bit where the Daleks come floating up outside the window to exterminate Lynda With a Y is a classic moment, right down to the silent flashing of the Dalek "eyes" in perfect time with "EX-TER-MI-NATE". And yeah, fanatically religous Daleks driven mad by the deprivations of the time war are quite definitely scarier than the garden-variety xenocidal ones. You can also see the setup for Torchwood in this episode, although it'll be interesting to see how Captain Jack gets back from the 51st century. Plus, wow, how cool is an invasion fleet of 200 Dalek saucers (Of course the Daleks have flying saucers, what else would they have!) with thousands of space-going Dalek soldiers?

Then boom, the Doctor regenerates, and the story ends. I suspect it was planned from the beginning that Eccleston would only be there for the first season, to include one in the series but to avoid having the first episode of the series having to be "about" the regeneration from Eight to Nine, the way the first half of the Fox movie was "about" the regeneration from Seven to Eight. With that final element, even if the show only ran for one season, it would have "at least one" of everything that people associate with Doctor Who ... the Doctor, the companion, the techno-mysticism of the TARDIS (and by extension the Time Lords) and an explanation of why an amazing time-traveling spaceship looks like a blue box with a phone in the door, aliens and spaceships, monsters, period pieces, creepy-crawly moments, of course the Daleks, and finally a regeneration. Even the Cybermen have a little cameo (in the form if a head in the museum in "Dalek"), although I gather they get a very nice re-imagining in season two. If Doctor Who: Season One was the entirety of the new Doctor Who, they could say with a clear conscience that they had run the gamut of the classic series, as well as introducing new stuff never seen before (particularly in the form of more modern sensibilities about what topics are and aren't fit to talk about, as well as giving Doctor Who some nice epic FX shows of its own).

Pshew! No wonder so many of the episodes feel rushed -- they had a LOT to do with one season!

So, what's my final verdict on it all?

I like it. :) Not unreservedly, and not every moment of it, but yes, I like it. But my wish-list for the future?

  • I would like it to be a little more brainy and a little less emotional; I'd like the Doctor to be a little more eccentric in terms of his manner and dress; I'm resigned to the sex element even if I'd rather it went away.

  • We definitely need more aliens and alien worlds, and I'd happily take a rock quarry or two if that was required. Fantastic adventures in time AND space, remember?

  • Most importantly, there needs to be some shoring up of the PLOT. The "Buffy" model of writing, where you come up with a soap opera and then tack a Weirdie Element on to it is not sustainable; even on the occasions where it works, such as "Father's Day", it still makes the episode break down if you stop to think about it. It's much better if you start with the plot and then let the character interaction and development grow naturally out of that (which is what I suspect made "Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" so superior).

Mind you, I know that Season Two has been broadcast already in the UK and Season Three is already well into production -- so it's not like my wishlist is going to make a difference. But that's the nice thing about wishes, you can always make them, even if you don't expect them to come true.

-The Gneech
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