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This is just a snippet of... speculation, really, not even meta, that isn't going to fit anywhere else (that would be the 'anywhere else', I'm not sure I'll ever manage to actually write...) about MD:End of the Road, which at the first viewing struck me as anti-climatic and somewhat non-sequitur-ish after the brilliant Immortal Sins. However, on rewatching I started to think about some of the (potential) implications of the episode.

(And while I'm at it, it really is a shame that Angelo wasn't used beyond that one episode. The character is such a lucky combination of script and actor, he comes alive within fifteen minutes in ways the new main characters never really manage to over the entire run of the show. If there ever should be a novel featuring him, I'd almost be tempted to break my rule about tie-in media. Well, almost.)


TW:MD episode 7 and CoE )

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I remember how back in 2009 I thought writing about CoE was hard, but in some respects MD makes it even more difficult. CoE was a different kind of struggle, trying to put into words thoughts and feelings about a show that more or less knocked me over and wrung me out emotionally. MD never haunted me like that, but, somehow, is sitting at the back of my brain, elusive and slightly irritating, and I suspect in the end it's more complex and layered than CoE, because it also ties up threads that go back beyond the story itself, into the earlier TW seasons, DW, and beyond. You'd think that greater emotional detachment and all that meta groundwork I've already done would make things easier, but apparently this isn't the case. I finished rewatching MD a couple of weeks ago and I already have notes and everything, but I'll have to go over it another time (with a detour via The Second Coming, probably) before I can really start writing.

It's odd. On the one hand I definitely enjoyed it more than the first time, and (unpopular fanish opinion ahoy!) I think on the whole it's underrated. It's not perfect, but it's not the incoherent silly mess it's made out to be, either, not by a long way. Once you know where it's going, the pieces fall into place rather neatly, adding to the big picture and foreshadowing the end. I was watching ep. 8 and kept thinking that this was still something of a strange and not very good follow-up from ep. 7... until I started to mentally shuffle the elements around a bit and had this holy shit, epiphany!, now everything makes sense! moment, and suddenly there was a whole new layer to the entire story I hadn't seen before. (Now admittedly this might be all in my head, but suddenly things fit a lot better, and generally speaking I find it more useful to assume that scenes and pieces of dialogue are there for a reason...) On the surface MD seems a bit heavy-handed in some respects, but there's a lot going on underneath that isn't immediately noticeable.

On the whole my feelings about MD come down to the fact that I'm glad it happened. It might not be CoE, but it has its moments and it's an interesting enough story in its own right. If nothing else, I'll always be grateful that it picked Jack up and put him together again after CoE.


On the other hand... something doesn't quite work, it's impossible to argue with that. People have already talked about the americanisation and pacing, but I wonder if there aren't other factors contributing to the problem. Not really sure this makes sense... )

 

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I don't really want to write about MD before I've rewatched the whole of it, but this isn't going to happen for a few weeks since I'm busy learning for the ECDL exam and really don't have the time to spend 10 hrs+ (very much + probably, taking notes and everything) watching.

On the other hand, sadly I don't have the patience to sit on ideas for a month either. So... a warning for slapdashness, I guess?

I don't think any amount of rewatching will make parts of the story less clunky, but what I realised during my walk on Sunday is that once everything fell into place with the last episode and the structure became apparent, things... changed, and it definitely made me look differently at the story and see its merits.

# Jack's arc is really well done in hindsight. )


# Once one puts MD in the wider context of RTD's writing, a lot of things fall into place, too. I think in some ways he started to tell a story in 2003 with The Second Coming and has been working on it ever since, and that's the story of how we deal with death.

Vague ramblings about mortality and the religious themes. )

 

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MD ep.10 — Oh, sigh. Good parts, a couple of really brilliant, powerful scenes, especially for Gwen, some ridiculous parts, liked it overall, but seriously, the ending? spoilers )


Mostly, what makes me a bit sad is that MD could have been a lot better. On the balance, I'm glad it happened, because it gave me closure for Jack, which I really needed after CoE and that the snippet in The End of Time didn't provide, but I was hoping for something more, especially with that theme.


More when I find the time to rewatch the whole thing.


As an afterthought, though... there's something that occurred to me. CoE was essentially, or at least partly, written so that it would work as an ending for TW. Maybe bringing TW back to life was the problem? Everything has its time, and everything dies, and maybe RTD is simply better at killing/ending than he is at resurrecting? Come to think of it, the Doctor/Rose arc had the same problem. It should have ended with Doomsday, everything that came afterwards was mediocre at best, and RTD kept fighting with an ending that refused to work. Hm. Maybe he should start paying attention to his own motifs?

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Prompted by [livejournal.com profile] green_maia's posts about MD and religion, and my own comments there.

My reaction to Immortal Sins in comparison to [livejournal.com profile] green_maia's, as well as other people's, made me remember a blog entry by Ricardo Pinto, where he talks about the Catholic themes he noticed in his writing despite being an atheist, and how differently Portuguese readers and readers from English speaking countries react to the violence in the Stone Dance of the Chameleon books (*). He remarks on the prevalence of the crucifix in Catholic countries as opposed to the plain cross used by Protestant Churches, and goes on to ask, 'How profoundly is a culture shaped, the minds of its children shaped, by the difference between these symbols? The contrast between the abstract instrument of torture and execution, and the instrument being demonstrated in use, viscerally, by having a man depicted on it suffering?', and concludes: 'And it seems that I am Catholic enough to have portrayed a unity between violence and redemption, between violence and love, that is immediately understood by people who have grown up with the crucifix and causes much more of a problem for those who have grown up with the plain, bare cross….'

I have no idea if this would hold up to scientific analysis, but I do find the idea interesting, and it made me think.

My personal religious history, Catholicism, and the religious themes in TW and DW. )



(*) Which, btw, I cannot recommend enough. They're not flawless, but IMO deserve more recognition than they got.

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# I wish I could snap out of this weird state of mind where I keep losing track of the words and where they're supposed to go, and end up staring at a sentence for minutes, wondering if what I've written is even English, before deleting it again. It's not just annoying, but also incredibly time-consuming. Damn it brain, wake up! Focus!

# Prompted by [livejournal.com profile] rm's post mentioning Marc Almond, which made me nostalgic enough to finally put up my old record player again more than two years after the move. I saw Marc Almond live once, completely by chance, when I was in Athens for a week with my (then) best friend A., it must have been in 1993, because iirc it was the first summer holiday after I started going to university. [ETA: Actually, that would have been 1991.] We saw an advertising poster, and somehow, despite our complete lack of Greek (my year of ancient Greek was somewhat helpful when it came to deciphering signs, but useless otherwise) actually managed to find the place where they sold tickets. It was an open air concert on the Lykavittos, although that is about the extent of what I remember, and really, this all sounds much cooler and more sophisticated than it was, because at that time we were both hopelessly dorky and spent most of the time in museums and excavation sites...

In hindsight, I guess I might have dragged A. there, and she may have been simply too polite to say something all those years when I made her tape copies of every Marc Almond album and foisted them on her; it's hard to tell and we aren't talking any longer, so I can't ask her...

I searched on YouTube on the off chance that it might turn up something from that show, which unsurprisingly it didn't, but instead I found the recording of a show in Moscow from May 1993. It's funny, a week ago I'd probably have said this isn't my kind of music any longer, but watching that video I remembered exactly what I loved so much about his music.




part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6



# MD — (*sigh*) I'm putting off posting until after the last episode. It's going into directions I didn't expect at all rather than those I did expect, which may be my own fault, but right now I really don't know what to think any longer. spoilers ) I think in the end the problem with this story might be that it doesn't play into RTD's strengths at all. What he does best is small character pieces; he's brilliant when he explores what makes people tick, how they react to certain situations, the ambiguity of human nature and human behaviour and all those complicated moral dilemmas, and CoE showcased that beautifully. I'm less and less sure if this sprawling X-Files-esque conspiracy plot where a very few people pull the strings in the background, with the main cast hopping across the globe all the time, was a good choice. CoE was just incredibly focused throughout in every respect — pacing, character arcs, plot. MD is sort of... I can't quite put my finger on it, but while I do like parts of the story, as far as I'm concerned they never really made up a convincing whole, and I doubt the final episode will fix that. I kept waiting for the relationships between the old and new cast to develop, but they never really did beyond them finally pulling together to solve the problem, not the least because they so rarely even were in the same place at the same time. slight spoilers )


# What else? I used to post a lot more about 'real' life day-to-day stuff; has my life started to bore even me, or is it maybe actually healthy to be a bit less navel-gazey?

My weekend walks keep getting longer. Last Sunday I walked from Baden to Pressbaum, which took me about nine hours, and the weekend before that from Purkersdorf to St. Andrä/Wördern (seven hours). I guess if I wanted some actual exercise, I should be doing something a little more strenuous like mountain biking, which is what everyone else seems to be doing, but I actually enjoy the slower speed of walking; somehow, it gives you a better sense of the distance you cover.

Speaking of bikes though, I finally resigned myself to the fact that somewhere someone is happily biking around on my pretty, barely used bike, and bought a new one yesterday. Walking to work is all very well, and also useful since it means about an hour of Russian audio book per day, but I've been starting to miss the independency the bike gave me. I just hope I'm going to have better luck with this one than the last one...

I was actually quite busy (by my standards, that is) the last couple of weeks. Got my skills card for the ECDL exam, which means I'll finally have to do some serious learning now, and had the first html/css class of seven today. I actually do know (very, very) basic html stuff, but I've never managed to figure out css, how to use it or what it actually does, so perhaps I'll finally be able to at least customise my journal and have my own banner...

Also finally had an appointment with the ophthalmologist after, as it turned out, six years. Oops. Got scolded, promised to return sooner next time, and now have new contacts and a prescription for new glasses, which was highly necessary, since I can't even make an educated guess about how old the glasses I'm currently wearing actually are.

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Yesterday's MD episode... I don't know. After the emotional intensity of ep.7 it felt a bit anticlimactic to me, although it did have a lot of isolated strong character moments. I'm just not sure if it all really came together... Hm. Also, considering how completely I've already embarrassed myself with last week's post (*facepalm*), I made a resolution to stop speculating about future plot twists. Shouldn't be to hard to keep with only two more episodes to go, and will save me a lot of time that I don't really have anyway right now.

What's more, I'm starting to think I'm ruining the whole thing for myself with too specific expectations.


Still, though... )


More when I find the time to rewatch...

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# Torchwood — Since I'm completely crap at predicting plot twists in advance, I should probably stop speculating, but looking at Jack's arc, I can't help wondering what the endgame is. spoilers for ep.7 )


Is it Saturday already?


# Finally saw the last HP movie with my sister, and while unlike THBP it wasn't completely terrible, even somewhat touching occasionally, I can't say I was very impressed either. It's hard to tell after eight months, but I think I liked the first part better. Or maybe I was just in a better mood at the time? I'm aware that a film necessarily follows different laws than a book, but what I simply don't understand is how someone can read DH and apparently come to the conclusion that Dumbledore's story is some kind of filler or afterthought that might just as well be left out. Then again, they already managed to to miss the point by a mile with THBP, where the title of the book might at least have given them a clue, so that's nothing new....

Is this sheer stupidity though, or are TPTB just incredibly cynical regarding the intelligence of the average movie goer?

Or is this me being weird? But especially since TGoF I remember coming out of every movie thinking how much smaller, how much less they were than the books in the ways that really counted. A central part of Harry's growing-up process in DH is that he goes through this crisis of trust regarding Dumbledore, but in the end can understand that Dumbledore was only a man, brilliant in some ways and flawed in others; that often the world isn't as black and white as the eleven year old boy who first came to Hogwarts believed. And it's an important part of the King's Cross chapter that Dumbledore isn't just the wise, mysterious (if somewhat eccentric) mentor figure any longer, but also a man who asks Harry's forgiveness, and who has deep and lasting regrets about the mistakes the arrogant, brilliant boy he was had made, tempted by power and grand dreams.

I didn't hate the part with Snape's memories, although Alan Rickman never was the Snape I saw after reading the books and the discrepancy never jared quite as badly as in this movie, but there were still so many important details missing, like the fact that Dumbledore's reason for making Snape promise to kill him wasn't his concern about Voldemort's trust in Snape, but that he didn't want a frightened teenage boy to become a murderer on his behalf. It's an important part of his characterisation that despite his determination to win the war and all the sacrifices he was prepared to make he did care about things like that, and to change that is, IMO, a problematic decision. I really do love the whole conversation between Dumbledore and Snape in the book because it offers a glimpse at them not filtered through Harry's eyes and shows the level of trust and respect that had developed between them over the years despite everything, and the movie didn't really manage to convey that either.

Or why exactly Lilly in the end broke off her friendship with Severus. These things matter more than extra minutes of CGI battle and the endlessly drawn-out killing of Nagini, which barely takes up two paragraphs in the book...

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I've been kind of sitting on the fence (or maybe more precisely hopping on & off the fence) about MD so far, but there wasn't a single thing about this episode I didn't love. (Except possibly bits of the music, if I'm being very nit-picky. There were some odd choices there.)


TW 4.07 Immortal Sins )

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# As a sort of addendum to the post about the radio plays... It's funny, really. I thought I was over CoE. I never had as bad a reaction to Ianto's death as many others, I've rewatched the whole story several times since without tears or trauma, and I thought that with the The World is Always Ending meta at the latest I'd made my peace with it. Apparently not quite though, because somewhat belatedly it occurred to me that such a strong, and in the end probably disproportionately negative, over(?)-emotional reaction to HotD, two years after CoE, wasn't exactly the response of someone who's over it. I actually find that a bit frightening. It's a strange thing how your own brain can catch you by surprise.


# TW 4.06 The Middle Men )
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So, the radio plays. Maybe I should say upfront that part of the reason why I kept putting off listening to them for so long was that I was extremely wary. It felt just weird — bordering on the morbid, actually — to go back to a time where Ianto was still alive two years after CoE, and after everything that happened I wasn't so sure I trusted any writer to write Jack/Ianto and focus on the story itself rather than the fan reaction. And to be perfectly honest, having finally listened to them I can't say my feelings have changed on either account.

The Devil and Miss Carew & Submission )


I didn't think I'd ever have to put a warning on anything meta-ish, but in this case it might actually be in order: if House of the Dead made you happy, you probably won't want to read this.


House of the Dead )
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Lots of speculation this time...


TW 4.5 The Categories of Life )

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4.2 Rendition )


4.3 Dead of Night )


4.4 Escape to L.A. )


[Still need to listen to the radio plays (& hopefully will finally find the time over the weekend); no spoilers please.]

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Confession time: I know this is almost heresy, but I still can't shake off the feeling that MD might have been better (not that it isn't good; I loved the last episode and this one was also quite brilliant) without the connection to TW. It's just... every time they switch back to Wales, Rhys, Gwen's family, or sometimes even in the scenes with Jack and Gwen... somethings jars. Just a little bit, but it does. It doesn't feel quite natural to me. There's always the tiniest crack in the fourth wall. spoilers ) It almost — almost — makes me wish TW had stayed dead after CoE, because the irony is that, on some level, apparently I want the new story, the new characters, more than another season of TW. It took me a couple of episodes to warm up to the American characters, but watching Escape to L.A. I suddenly caught myself thinking that I care about Esther and her sister quite a bit more than I care about Gwen and her father.


On the other hand, of course I do want Jack's story to go on, I loved his scenes in Dead of Night, and in any case the whole premise of MD depends on him, so this is all really a bit of a paradox.


Gah. I don't know; I'm so torn. I never expected this to happen.


(ETA: I might change my mind again about all of this once I rewatch the episodes. It's really only some kind of vague feeling that comes and goes and that I can't satisfactory put into words. In the end, it might just be me. Probably is.)

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I finally watched the last two episodes of MD, and although it took a while, I have to say that the third episode really sold the show and the characters to me. During ep.2 I still wasn't sure at all about the whole British/American thing, which IMO continued to feel a bit awkward and just didn't come together naturally, and at one point it even crossed my mind that I might have preferred to see this story with completely new characters and no connection to old school TW at all (except of course this particular story wouldn't exist, or work on any level, without Jack and his immortality...), but with the third episode I think they finally hit their stride.

I've said it before, but I'm absolutely in love with the premise, and I can't wait to see how this will play out. Perhaps at times if feels almost a bit too... academic, too abstractly planned (or maybe that's because I've looked at the death motif too closely for too long?), but at other times, especially in ep 3 ... spoilers )


The episode also offers a lot of insight into Jack's character, and ... more spoilers )

More when I've had time to rewatch; and I'll try to catch up with everyone's posts too...
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So, I did watch it, and I don't feel blah about it. (Thank God.) On the plus side, I love the premise of the story; it's absolutely fascinating and I have no doubt at all that the eventual pay-off will be worth it. (Also, it's always nice to get a little validation, especially since so much of the time I feel completely out of place in TW fandom, to the point where I'm occasionally wondering if I'm delusional and reading the stories entirely wrong, since so much of this fandom is about sex first and foremost. Being a mostly asexual TW fan can be a bit weird. But looking at the premise of MD I think it's impossible to deny that there is a red thread running from Suzie and her resurrection glove in Everything Changes to the 456 and the children that 'live forever' to MD.)

On the other hand, what IMO didn't work so well (yet) was the transition/synthesis between the UK parts and US parts of the story; there's an old school TW quirkiness and humour in Gwen's story that is almost entirely missing from the rather more generic American storylines and characters. I guess we'll have to see how that develops. There's also a bit too much exposition for my taste, but that was to be expected under these circumstances. It's probably unfair to compare the episode to CoE's Day One, since The New World is clearly laying the groundwork for a more complicated story and has to introduce the old characters to a new audience, as well as combine the old setting with the new, but IMO the writing in Day One is definitely superior.

Spoilers... )


& speculation... )

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