Daily Archives: 09/25/2011

Baubles to Xmas

Being one of those entirely disreputable and untrustworthy types who doesn’t believe in omnipotent, vengeful, invisible people in the sky, the prospect of Christmas drawing ever nearer is not one which fills me with joy.  Another December where I spend a disproportionate amount of time re-explaining to people – folks who also heard this a year ago – that I don’t celebrate Christmas, send cards, buy presents or participate in the festive season.

Your high street. Soon. Be very afraid...

At a push, I’ll have an internal appreciation of colours, lights and decorations.  There’s something slightly pagan about those aspects of the Christmas holiday which transcends the virulent commercialism, high pressure selling tactics and hypocritical religious sentiments that so irritate me about that time of year.  That the nicest colours and lights of the season are to be found in commercial institutions like the department stores and malls is an irony not lost on me – if you want your pretty-pretty lights, you’ve got to have to deal with margin-conscious, sales-hungry store staff trying their hardest to get you to buy something, buy anything, buy – buy – buy!

The transition towards not celebrating Christmas is a lot easier for me, I realise, as I’m not a parent.  I don’t have children and I don’t have to try to explain why their friends are celebrating a holiday which they don’t and why they are different to their friends.  All that I have to do is get up on December 25th, take my lovely dog for a walk, help Mrs Rolling Eyeballs to make lunch and enjoy my Christmas “Doctor Who” without any of the pressure.

Reality. Why not try it some time?

It’s a lot easier to enjoy the end of the year when you don’t have to run around like decapitated poultry for a month buying lots of things for people who don’t appreciate it, going to parties that you don’t want to go to and putting yourself in financial dire straits until the Spring – is any of that stuff worth it?  Sustaining an economy based on unreasonable, profligate spending which is induced by guilt, advertising and the fear of disapproval by your peers is no way to live a life, surely?

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“Doctor Who”: ‘Closing Time’ episode review

Stormageddon. Toy shop. Name badge. Papoose. Cybermouse. First word.

Oh, you want a review.  That’s cool. SPOILERS commence herein...

This was another episode in the Moffatt era which took a pleasing digression away from main Arc business and told a sweet, uncomplicated story about normal folk intersecting with the Doctor, reintroducing James Corden as Craig Owens from last season’s “The Lodger”.

The name badge - a sight gag for the ages.

If anything, this episode was even less concerned with science fiction storytelling than its predecessor, being quite happy to relay an amiable tale of an odd couple, the baby they have to look after and convincing an uncertain new father that his new-found responsibility might actually be the making of him.

When typical “Who” business happens along throughout the episode – the plot driver being a rogue unit of crippled Cybermen kidnapping unaware staff at the department store built atop the site of their crash-landed ship and turning them into Cyber soldiers – it felt really quite jarring and not really necessary.  Sort of like another show invading the one that you’re watching (a point somewhat conceded by Moffatt and episode writer Gareth Roberts in last night’s episode of “Doctor Who Confidential” on BBC Three).

That’s very weird to write, of course – protesting about the Sci-Fi aspects of a “Who” episode is like watching a Simon Cowell show and complaining about all the MOR variety acts.  It raises the question – are we at the point where a show like this can comfortably break format and tell stories which occur outside the remit of the “Who” universe or do we need to come back to the comforting familiarity of Cybermen, Daleks and, yes, Weeping Angels?

What we had here, then, was a quite touching and often hilarious tale of a new father being undone by misplaced lack of confidence in his own capability to care for his new son – I’ve never had to look after a demanding new baby whose every cry is a wrench to the soul, but I have taken care of an occasionally truculent terrier, and let me tell you that taking care of a pet who wants something and can’t communicate it is no picnic. No two AM feeds, but I have had more than my share of three AM doggy comfort breaks – and being sleep-deprived is a feeling which transcends species.

Two Cybermen walk into a pub...or is a Dalek and two Ice Warriors? I'm rubbish at jokes.

An intriguing ending, too, which went to some oddly melancholy places, a motif which is becoming the hallmark of the Moffatt era – we had the Doctor facing his inevitable end with quiet resignation, making good with friends from the past and present (a lovely little cameo from Amy and Rory earlier in the episode, the Doctor watching them from afar, seeing his companions getting on with their lives – Amy’s now a successful model. Figures).

What about that moment before the climax, with River Song tracked down by Madame Kovarian and the Silence and locked into the space suit from “The Impossible Astronaut”?  I guess we have been able to guess that River might have killed the Doctor at least since the events of “A Good Man Goes To War”, which seemed to hint that either Rory or the Doctor were for the chop.  And as this is still nominally a family show, I doubt that BBC higher-ups would have wanted to go with a storyline where a daughter murders her father.  All very Greek and tragic but not exactly what the Saturday night, post tea-time audience are going to go for.

What's with the eye patch? That's got to be a thing, right?

River’s trapped in Lake Silencio, the Doctor’s heading for certain death and I genuinely have no idea how Moffatt’s going to sort all of this out in “The Marriage of River Song” next week.

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