1. Arthur C. Clarke.
Arthur C. Clarke is dead, just in case you've been hiding under a rock (this is the first time I found out about something like this from my flist, which felt a bit weird tbh). This makes me quite sad -- he was the first author I did my now traditional "read nothing but this person's books for several months until you run out" thing to, back when I was ... about eleven maybe? I forget now -- but I must confess it's a rather abstract sort of sadness: he "had a good innings", as they say, and (this feels horrendously selfish) it doesn't feel like we've been deprived of any great works he had yet to produce.
I think Rendezvous with Rama is my favourite, when all's said and done. Very good at sensawunda, was Clarke.
Let's all build a space elevator and name it after him.
2. Gallifrey (the audio series, not the planet)
So, after the Pandora plotline wrapped up for some reason I never got round to carrying on with the rest of the third series ... until now.
So the thing is, Gallifrey is not The West Wing iiiin tiiiiiime!, however badly it wants to be. They spend so much time in this arc driving the plot with made up articles and precedents from a made up constitution and legal system that are just explained as they're used. Worse still, it's a made up constitution and legal system that's COMPLETELY STUPID AND MAKES NO SENSE and has been devised entirely for dramatic purposes.
The whole political intrigue thing is well suited to the audio medium, but the plot is simultaneously unguessable when it's relying on all this completely unforeshadowed legal stuff and obvious in terms of everything else (OMG, Darkel wants her wannabe assassin killed not captured, maybe it's a put up job???). There's also the way the attempts at present day political satire make Gallifrey The Eye That Watches Over All Of History into Just Another Planet, particularly in Chapter Fourteen (Mining rights? Bitch, please.)
There were lots of good things, too, though. The little reference in Chapter 13 to the Doc in Deadly Assassin was fun. And K-9 and "Legal Assistant Leela" were quite win. (I'm not supposed to be shipping Leela/Narvin, am I? *is sick and wrong, yet again*) And the bits where Brax came back were BRILLIANT and made the whole thing 100% betterer. Because I love Brax. I've missed him bad, in this and Benny. Miles Richardson has a fantastic voice, perfect bit of casting. The whole unrequited Brax/Romana thing is <3. And K9 being one of the Secret Masters wins too.
Chapter Fourteen had some lovely dialogue, almost all of it about or from Arkadian ("he's a bigamist"/"I'm not marrying him"/"but you are getting into bed with him"; "casual, not causal"; "the only Time Lord not to be President this week"; "breeding like humans"; etc.). On the other hand "It's all gone Pete Tong" -- WORST EVER CLUNKER. But Leela's bit by Andred's grave rocks. (I don't buy that Leela wants her sight back more than Andred, though.)
What intrigues and annoys me in about equal measure is how much it all owes to the books. Not a big surprise in some ways, given the crossover of creators, but the vision of Gallifrey we get here overall is very NA-ish (by way of Marc Platt's Auld Mortality, maybe), and the tease about Romana maybe regenerating into Romana III to carry on being President at the end of Chapter Twelve is clearly aimed at EDA Romana. But really this is just my same old, same old issues with BF's attitude to continuity raising their head, and they're far too tedious to go on about at length.
I do love that we have a canon Time Lord escape hatch for the Last Great Time War, though, even if I don't want to see it used on telly. But now we can ficcishly bring back Romana and Leela without difficulty. And Brax, of course. He's who the Doctor was thinking of in that brother line in S&J, we all knew that.
I think londonkds had this one right -- PJ Hammond is there so they can wheel him on and lend themselves credibility, and if what he does bears no relation to the other twelve episodes of the season, then so what?
And frankly, I agree. Because AFAICS that was as close as we're ever going to get to new Sapphire & Steel on the telly. Proper spooky a lot of the time, especially all the bits where the film equipment comes to life of its own accord, and the disappearance of the Night Travellers as Jack overexposed the film (that's something PJ Hammond always does well, suddenly making you feel sorry for the bad guys as it turns out the way to get rid of them is a horrible fate you wouldn't wish even on your worst enemy).
JB is not David McCallum, sad to say, even if the script is trying to force him into the Steel role simply because he was there in the past and so Knows Stuff. But for some reason his acting always improves for me when he crouches down. What's that all about?
The circus needing an audience was pleasantly Greatest-Show-like, so it was. :D
But, yeah, if I was watching it for the ongoing character arcs and shipping and such like then I would not have enjoyed it half so much. Because that was just people with the same names and actors running around in a separate story.
I'm clearly going to have to go and watch Adventure Four again, now. (That ending, "all those dusty bits of film, they could still be there waiting", that's pretty much identical to "burn every picture of you", isn't it, just slightly less personalised?)
... oh, actually, that was really good. Bestest Gwen ep evah and I'm actually thinking it's right up there in the top three Torchwood eps. Dammit, Chibnall! I want to be able to hate you.
I really like the idea that the Rift works in both directions, and am slightly annoyed with myself for not figuring it out myself. And it was well done, with well-integrated SF and emotional content and good twistiness. Between the unrequited Andy/Gwen, Gwen/Rhys with both good sweet stuff and conflict (Rhys standing up for himself FTMFW), the Gwen/Jack conflict, and all the stuff with the left-behind guest characters (which was very affecting, particularly that bit when the hall just kept filling up) and the Rift victims and Jack's trying to help them but keep it secret
The last few minutes were lame though. Voiceover and "One Week Later" caption? Storytelling fail. And completely unnecessary fail at that. A pity, because it robbed it of the full extent of what's clearly intended to be a big emotional punch of "Look! Gwen just made everything worse! Right intention does not guarantee right action!"
Oh, and yay for canon just going "OT3!" over the Gwack/Janto divide (at least until the Gwen/Jack conflict kicked in but then Ianto secretly helped her out and oh yay [definitely grist to the mill for tencrush's spy!Ianto theories, the implication that he's going over Jack's stuff]). This is not an OTP show and it never will be. "Always room for one more!"
PC Andy is gonna turn out to be Cell 114, no? It's the only reason I can think of for them to be ladling on his unrequited-love-turned-to-hate quite so much or so suddenly, so that when that happens it's harder for them to get in contact with his human personality or sthg. Oh, and weren't we promised a return for Spike in the "coming later this season" stuff at the end of ep 1? I suspect it's going to be an utterly cracktastic ending. And I'm sure I saw both Myfanwy and Tommy the Tommy in the ep 12 trailer just then, yay!
... so, wait, when they said the next BBC3 ep was Friday, they meant this Friday? So we're going to end up way ahead of BBC2, surely.
Signups for the EDA ficathon close on Friday night, everyone. (Officially speaking; I won't actually be online 'til some time on Saturday.)
Incidentally, I am deeply ambivalent about this strike thing. LJ has always been dumb, I don't like the removal of Basic on principle, I don't think the strike will be effective as anything other than a way for people to feel better about their powerlessness. I probably won't be posting on Friday itself, just out of not being online much more than anything.
EmuchlaterTA: OK, so this puts me pretty firmly in the anti-boycott camp (seen via a comment on neadods). Though I don't subscribe to the OMG!Good-Friday-on-purpose tinhattery -- if it is the choice of Russian anti-semites, then it seems more likely they'd be going with Orthodox Easter which is apparently not until next month.