Tag Archives: 2014

Day of the Doctor – A Review

Day of the Doctor – A review

Hello Dear Reader
This was first posted back on my old site just after the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who.
I recovered it from my lost site, along with a few more old blogs which I might repost.
On November 23rd 1963 a television program began. 50 years later that same programme celebrated its anniversary. Doctor Who a British institution that started with an old man in a police box. Running away from authority, looking for peace and quiet when he is discovered and adventures begin.
The episode on November 23rd 2013, The Day of the Doctor, brought together a number of threads of past story lines. As with other anniversary shows, other incarnations of the Doctor appeared. The story itself was very cleverly woven with another. The Earth is in trouble, again, aliens are threatening and the Doctor gets called in by UNIT. It is baffling at first and very straight forward. The story moves from one incarnation of the Doctor to another through a painting, introducing us to a lot more of his hidden past. Moving back and forth in time and places creating its own paradox and presenting the Doctor with a chance to change his own time.
The aliens are just right, not under played and not over the top. The focus is on the Doctor and his actions. There is so much here that gives more than a nod to the past 50 years. Rumours went slightly wild around the various Whovian sites, groups, clubs you name it they wanted it.  It was mentioned that this person was back and this person wasn’t and so on. As the story opened, it was clear who was back. Surprises were in store but you had to wait.
The actors clearly worked well together here, you can tell as they interact. There are some delightful moments both comic and dramatic as the story progresses. The three main actors Matt Smith, David Tenant and John Hurt clearly enjoyed their roles. It has to be a difficult role to undertake, becoming a British icon keeping a little of the actor before and then creating the role as your own.
Along the way, there were good supporting roles ensuring the episode had a very good cast. They did not take anything away from the main four characters, you have to include Billie Piper as well as the Doctors in the four, the story just flowed around everyone. There is no point explaining the story here as I don’t wish to give spoilers. Enough trailers and of course the episode has been shown a few times. There will be many fans who will argue various points about Doctor Who but in truth there are only two points to consider. So here is my taken on how to settle all arguments.
In my view, to deal with many important points and arguments raised by this show, you have to realise two important things. Firstly, the person who created the show made the ground rules, Sydney Newman. He said who the Doctor was, a man travelling in time and space in an old box. Secondly a word that takes care of it all the rest. That word is, fiction. Fiction makes Doctor Who travel in time and space. Fiction makes the Tardis. Fiction will allow the BBC to have as many incarnations of the Doctor as it wishes. Fiction. That word cuts across all, since Doctor Who is science fiction. Each further producer, writer, director and actor takes their steer from what Newman started and the word fiction. So, for me, no matter what anyone else says there are answers and solutions.  If in doubt refer to rule one.
As for the Curator? Again simple. My view here is that each incarnation of the Doctor has a timeline, when they regenerate they start another incarnation and another timeline. The old incarnation continues in a sense, allowed to grow old properly and age maybe pass away, unlike the ‘living’ incarnation until they regenerate. Hence a well-known incarnation becoming a Curator. There were even a few roundels in the background. Was that the Tardis living out its life? Who knows.That in itself gives nothing much away of the story.
So, what did the Day of the Doctor mean to me. A brilliant story, a link to all I enjoyed. To see it with friends was very good it made it more of an experience. It was a 5 out of 5 or 10 out of 10 or whatever. Was there the possibility of adding more? Maybe they could have but would that have worked? Maybe not. I am sure some will not like it because of X. As it was the episode beat everything else except one other BBC show. 10 million viewers in the UK alone watched it. Over 70 countries showed it at the same time. According to figures, over 100 million world wide. Not many television shows can warrant that audience, not many need to reach some many in one go. That is the appeal of a 50 year old show. One Saturday, November 23rd 2013 at 7.50pm the world watched.
Tagline; ‘Doctor Who?’

The Christmas Gift

The Christmas Gift

Imagine the scene, Christmas Eve, 5.15pm, in a small book shop on a busy university campus. A man is looking at the books, surrounded by people feeling the same strain of choice. He wishes he had more time, so he can please his friends.

“I can’t do this; too many people, too little time, too many books. They have to be right. If only, I could have the shop to myself.What I would give for that. ”

A desperate plea in the sea of people, but only one other hears. He nervously shuffles on the spot, looking around.

“Who is that man in the red coat? Concentrate. Books, that’s what I am here for. I have a ten pound note and three books to find. Look at this offer, two books for ten pounds and I need three books in fifteen minutes. I hate Christmas.”

The first bead of perspiration runs down his brow as he searches for inspiration.

“Let me think, what about the classics, how about Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. What’s wrong with that one? Too obvious? Too classic? It’s on TV every Christmas in one form or another. Not the best pick. Wait! The prefect one, The Hobbit. It’s classic, yet modern and there is a new film for Christmas. That’s one, two more to find.”

He clutches his first prize as if his life depends on it. He is irritated by the carefree attitude of the other shoppers.

“What about one of Ernest Hemingway’s great novels. No, that would just cause problems. Put that one back and that one. Why not buy three copies of the Hobbit who would know? Three copies under the ten pounds, it’s so tempting. No, keep looking; something will turn up.”

He needs more time, it’s a wish all of us make at some point, but at what cost? Sometimes the greatest wish is for the wrong gift. He has other worries now; the man in the red coat is looking at him.

“He is talking to the shop assistant now. Who’s he pointing at? Me? Why me? Is he a security guard?”

The pressure of time can make someone imagine details that are never there. Is the man following him?

“Forget him, concentrate on the books, the shop will close soon and that will be that. There is local garage. They might sell something tacky. Look at this, 50 Sheds of Grey. Wait is that a proper book. I thought it was something else? Another colour maybe? No. That’s no good either. Back to the classics. Oh joy five minutes left. I could just close my eyes, grab two and hope. I wish I had more time.”

For everyone, there is a fateful wish, that one last moment with a loved one, the need to find the greener grass and this man is about to experience his fateful wish. A flash of red catches his eye, is he being watched?

“Excuse me, I believe that you need this.”

Startled by the softly spoken words, the man in the red coat appears before him, in his right hand is the offer of a lifeline.

“Who are you? What do you want? ”

He is flustered by the image, the closeness of this stranger.

“I only wish to make your life a little less complicated. You appear to be struggling to find what you desire. Let me help. Take this voucher, it will ease your pain and last a lifetime.”

There is the offer. There is his wish all wrapped up in a beautifully coloured ticket. Would you accept such an offer?

“What do I need to do?”

“Why nothing, just accept the modest voucher, it has a few terms and conditions, nothing a man like you would fail to understand. Consider it my Christmas gift.”

The man in the red coat is smiling; he knows the gift will be accepted.

“Thank you, thank you. You have no idea how this will help me.”

The words glow a little as he takes the voucher, accepting the contract in good faith.

“It is my pleasure. Now you have all the time you need to find those last gifts. I am sure I will see you again and again.”

There is a puzzled look on the man’s face. He should have known better. It is too late now.

“What do you mean… Hello?”

In the turning of a page, the shop has emptied. Everyone has gone. The odd whisper of a ghostly figure drifts past the man or so it seems. He frantically tries to escape pulling at the door, but it won’t open, why? He examines the voucher again looking at the back.

“My God, what have I done!”

One line glows, deep blood red, ‘Thank you for your soul. You can browse all these books forever. L’

In a small bookshop, on a busy university campus, if you look closely sometimes you can see the ghostly outline of a man. He is trapped.

Mark O’Donnell

 

A challenge – 140 character poem

Dear Readers and maybe poets,

This morning I managed to write a short poem in 140 characters (actually less). Now I know that many haiku’s can be written in 140 characters but this was a quick 4 line poem. So I decided to post it here as a challenge. It’s just a bit of fun to try. Why did I write this? Well the washing machine we have makes a darn tune when it finishes and it does remind me of what the late great Douglas Adams might be thinking. Remember Marvin? This washing machine is just to cheerful to make sure you know it’s done. Hence the poem. So here it is enjoy and see;

Poem

Is this the shape of things to come

A washing machine that sings and hums

Douglas would be laughing now

As we are tortured by this row

 

HayDay

Dear Reader

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog, a review of Captain America. I do intend to review X-Men:Days of future Past very soon. This blog is or will try to be, different. Why? This past weekend I had the good fortune to visit the Hay-on-Wye book festival. It was very much a spur of the moment thing really. I have always wanted to visit this famous event and without knowing it I managed to plan a weeks leave at the right time.

Why was it so important to go? Because of my love of books and writing really. I have been to Hay a number of times and managed to find a book I long thought would never be found. In today’s world, I suspect I would have used the internet more and located a copy. As it was the fun of searching through second-hand bookshops made it more of a discovery to me.

The actual festival takes place just outside Hay, in a tented village very much like a few other places that appear these days. The festival has grown somewhat and given the attention recently from BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans, it is in my view trying to fire the imagination of all writers and readers.

There is something to be said for acting on impulse. Sometimes it can bring surprising rewards and this weekend I had three. The setup of the festival was very straight forward, no need to pay to get in just wander round and enjoy the atmosphere. You could however pick one of a number of talks that were taking place throughout the day. Having looked at the various talks there were two that caught my eye both it seemed were fully booked.

Well, time to wander again. This is when good fortune smiled. I talked to one of the many volunteers who suggested we check the returns. A quick return back to the ticket sales and guess what, yes they had two tickets for a talk by Tom Hollander the star of BBC TVs show Rev.

I did mention impulse before. Well, it also pays to ask a second time. Good fortune smiled again and I got two tickets to listen to Benedict Cumberbatch and friends reading from a collection of letters.

To listen to any actor live is for me a joy. You can hear the true reflection of the character they are portraying in their voice. The letters were from a new book each one read by a variety of well known people. Every single person who came on stage delivered their letter with passion and energy, to the degree that you did feel the real emotions behind the words. There were so many people who appeared each one standing out. However two letters and their readers stood out; John Lloyd and Rob Brydon. John Lloyd delivered a memo which was both risky and so humorous, whereas Rob Brydon gave us Richard Burton in all his wonderful tones. If he had said, ‘Broadsword calling Danny Boy’ that would have been it.

The exchange of letters between two World War Two sweethearts as read by Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey (Molly from Sherlock) was almost as if they had written them themselves. Again the passion, tender care, the off-hand comments all shone through these two people. It was brilliant and I would recommend buying the books;

The second talk had an equally wonderful set up. Tom Hollander who starts as the central character from Rev, along with James Wood and Jon Canter have written the Rev Diaries. They talked about the creation of the book, why it happened and how it enabled the author to expand that world beyond the small screen. It was a very interesting insight into the whole process and once again showed the passion behind these characters. Tom Hollander read two parts from the dairy, which if you think about it, you could see the character thinking about but in a television show can’t always articulate. There was also the change to get the book signed which I did. However, I did not just wish to have my book signed without making at least one comment. That was to Tom himself on his wonderful portrayal of Dylan Thomas. I also shook his hand, to which I think he was a little surprised. That to me added to the signing and the day.

What did I take away from my first trip to this festival of literature arts? Firstly that books are alive and still doing well. Secondly, that the festival is also very much alive considering the number of people who attended. Thirdly, that impulse really does pay, as does asking just one more time.

Tagline: ‘Broadsword calling Danny Boy’.