There’s a long standing curse, which despite popular belief is not Chinese in origin (So says Wikipedia… -Ed), that goes, “May you live in interesting times”. However you feel about Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide election as leader of the Labour Party and the present direction upon which the party is embarking, it’s impossible to deny that these are certainly interesting times.
So the first episode of the TV adaptation of Minority Report nobody asked for was actually quite good. Certainly it had potential, in the idea of peeling back the world not just of precrime, but 10 years on from precrime.
No sequel, in whatever form, should ever be even attempted if there isn’t some purpose for it, something for it to do. In that respect maybe a TV series set 10 years after the film might have some meat on its bones. The world building was one of the high points of the film, and there were a number of unanswered questions which remain to be excavated.
That said, it takes more than world-building to build a good TV series. That rich setting is worth nothing if it’s not populated with engaging characters doing interesting things.
So the new series of Doctor Who has gotten off to a bang with the opening two episodes, which in this blogger’s opinion managed to do the impossible by making the Daleks feel, if not shiny and new, then at least not groan-worthily stale.
It’s more than that, though. It finally feels like Peter Capaldi has found his version of the Doctor. Grouchy, but all heart under a tough exterior. And it works, even if part of me will always want to see the Doctor via Malcolm Tucker.
We also seemed to have come into a different style of episode format. The two-part episodes are an innovation that I am very much behind, expanding the storytelling ability. It felt, with the first two episodes of the series, to have slowed down the often frenetic pace. Which makes a nice change. It’s like the series, as well as the Doctor, is growing up.
Your blogger’s little birds bring him word of the foremost social event in Southend this weekend. Apparently the newly-knighted recovering comedian and Tory MP for Southend West David Amess hired Porters, the 14th century house used by the Mayor for civic functions.
And the purpose of this soiree? Sir David treated his guests to a showing of the DVD of his investiture at Buckingham Palace. Which, I presume, is the chivalric equivalent of subjecting friends and family to your holiday photos.
To crown the event, my spies report that Sir David turned up to the event in a St George’s outfit (Rented cheap after England’s rugby world cup exit? -Ed), riding on a horse.
No word yet as to whether Cake was served…
Funny story: I first watched Minority Report on a plane to — or possibly from — Australia. I fell asleep in a quiet bit, to wake up to Samantha Morton’s Agatha screaming “RUN!”, to the annoyance of my fellow passengers.
I actually quite liked the film. It differed drastically from the Philip K. Dick short story on which it was based, and I do find Tom Cruise rather irritating, but it managed to mix a fairly prescient (Geddit? -Ed) futurology with some interesting themes of free will and predestination — along with some ideas about authoritarianism.
I’m not, therefore, convinced that it really needs a sequel, whether in the form of a film or the TV series that has been made. I don’t doubt that it has the potential to make a good TV series, but to longevity of the film was in large part based on its somewhat alarming continuing relevance. On the one hand that’s an argument for pushing ahead with the series. On the other, it’s some big shoes to fill.
So regular readers will know that when I watched the début of Peter Capaldi’s second series in the TARDIS, I was pleasantly surprised. Having cast my eyes around the interwebs, that wasn’t universally the opinion, but I’m standing by my impressions.
It was funny, it was dark, it was bold, and as the opener to a new series it did what too often New Who has shied away from. The cliffhanger also raises an interesting format, whereby they seem to be going for a collection of two-part episodes, and giving stories two hours to run over. This feels like a little more room for stories to breathe, and a step towards the serials of old.
And given that this blogger grew up on the adventures of Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor (Reruns, I have to stress -Ed), a character which more than a few times Capaldi’s iteration has harked back to.
Of course, setting up a compelling story is all well and good. New Who has always excelled in that. It‘s the resolution that Moffat et al usually fall down on, and it’s that on which “The Magician’s Apprentice”/”The Witch’s Familiar” will be judged.
So I’ve touched on the proposals to build a pavilion on Blenheim Park previously, and the reasons that I’m against it — loosely boiling down to the fact that I am not keen to see a precious green space and piece of public land given away on a whim to a private entity.
The issue has been bubbling away over the summer, and I’ve heard from a fair number of residents — both contacting me directly, and when I speak to them on the doorsteps — raise that they are really not keen on the proposal. So serious has this become that even the part-time UKIP representative, Cllr Floyd Waterworth, has emerged from his inter-election hibernation to string a few words together on the topic.
As well as canvassing the views of residents — which, despite what the Council consultation might claim, my experience says they are largely against it — I have been lobbying behind the scenes on the subject, to the point that Cllr Gilbert, leader of the Labour group and Deputy Leader of the Council, is well and truly sick of me talking about the subject.
It has clearly done some good, though. At the meeting of the Cabinet this week, the decision was taken to delay the development for further consultation.
So the Doctor is back. Thank goodness for that.
The previous season, Peter Capaldi’s first in the leading role, was a hit and miss affair, but it did rather end on a high note with Michelle Gomez’s fantastic “Missy” (The Mistress… As in, The Master, but female. Geddit? -Ed) as the perfect villainous counterpoint for Capaldi’s mad Scotsman. One of the finest climaxes, in fact, since the BBC resurrected the series.
This, though, is the difficult second album of the Twelfth Doctor. In some ways a little more hopeful that it might be a little smoother this time around, given that the episodes here have all been specifically written for the Capaldi, rather than Matt Smith’s leftovers.
And, having had a glance down the episode list, it looks to me like the episodes are actually structured as a series of two-part stories. Which, from my perspective, sounds great. What we need from this new Doctor is some exploration of the particular character of this incarnation. And Capaldi is just crying out for a darker, grittier sort of Doctor.
News reached your blogger this weekend of the sad death of Gillian Lucas-Gill, a councillor on Rochford District Council.
Now, I’m not very intimately involved in the politics of Rochford District (Though I am not without my Rochford-based little birds -Ed), so I wasn’t familiar with Cllr Lucas-Gill. My general belief, though, is that the vast majority of elected councillors give their time and their effort out of a sense of public duty. I didn’t, as I say, know Cllr Lucas-Gill, but I am saddened at her death and thankful for her service.
This does, though, mean there will be a by-election in Rochford ward for Rochford District Council (Keep up… -Ed) in the coming months. As far as I know, no date has been set for the poll, and whoever wins will only serve until all seats are up for re-election in May due to boundary changes.
Nevertheless, the by-election will serve as a useful political barometer, in advance of the main event next year. More details as I receive them.