At last!

July 10, 2009 at 12:58 am (AMC, BBC, Geekery) (, , , , , , , )

I love British television (what I get to see. Most of it) – but I hate their “series” concept.  Seasons, people – seasons of 20-odd episodes.  That’s how it’s done!  None of this 13-episodes-at-a-time-and-then-maybe-a-handful-of-two-hour-specials crap!  Come on!  Yer killin’ me.

I went to watch an episode of Mad Men On Demand, and while I was in there I looked in the BBC America folder – and – Torchwood!  There was Torchwood!  The last two episodes of season 2, which I doubt I’ll ever be able to watch again, and a preview of 3 – but Torchwood!  I may have to wait and go to Netflix (or switch cable companies) for Doctor Who – and it is killin’ me – but I will have Torchwood!

Watching Primeval On Demand has been tantalizing; the BBC America commercial they have opening each episode has clips from several shows – including Doctor Who and Torchwood, old episodes.  There was Gordon Ramsey, and Robin Hood (really?  There’s another season?  Why?) – – and the Doctor, and Jack (and John!)… “Don’t tease me”, I said.   It was a tease, in part; they will, apparently, have Robin Hood and Torchwood, as well as Being Human (which I’m really, really looking forward to) – but no DW.  %#@$!  Well, they didn’t last year either.  But give me Captain Jack and I will be able to survive the drought.  I will need to do something before the *flinch* new Doctor comes along, though.  Too prolonged a delay in seeing those new episodes will cause permanent damage.

Torchwood [spoilers ahead] … I couldn’t stand Owen.  It was enjoyable to hiss and spit at him – the good old “love to hate” thing.  He was an utter prat.  And there was poor geeky Tosh with the humongous crush on him, almost incomprehensible – except that she’d seen something behind the facade.  And then, after he, er, died… the rest of us got to see it too.  He still behaved like a prat – but somehow at the end of each episode, my heart was breaking, and it was for him.  It’s a tribute to Burn Gorman that he accomplished that.  I will miss him beyond measure.

And Tosh.  Dear sweet never-had-a-life Tosh.  Brilliant, shy… I would have called her an inextricable part of the team.  I guess they showed me.  Anyone can die (except Jack, of course; and look at the lengths that had to be gone to with Owen).  I wonder if that’s something of a British trait; they’ve certainly illustrated the same thing on Primeval.  (Whoa have they.)

I love John Barrowman.  Gareth David-Lloyd is lovely, if somehow underutilized – they need to make him a bigger part of the team; for one thing it would be interesting to see how Jack responds to his lover being in more regular jeopardy.  Actually, with his experience he’d probably be fine; it’s Ianto that might have difficulty.  Eve Myles is terrific; Gwen is a character that I love – but, especially now, it’s Jack I’ve been missing, and Jack I’m going back for.  And if they can throw me an occasional bone in the form of James Marsters, it’s all to the good.

Don’t get me wrong; if the broad, broad hints turn out to be fact and Martha Jones and Ricky Mickey Smith join Torchwood, I’ll be happy, I think.  It’ll take getting used to.  A lot of it.  Great heaping gobs of it.  They, especially Mickey (the little tin dog) have been played … not entirely for laughs, but lighter, particularly early on.  Obviously not always (I traveled across the world, from the ruins of New York to the Fusion Mills of China, right across the Radiation Pits of Europe… ), but there’s a very different feel for Doctor Who than there is for Torchwood, rating (low PG vs. high PG-13+) aside.  Very.  Different.  I have to say I loathed Mickey in the beginning… Well, the silly oaf turned down a chance at being a Companion.  It’s hard to like someone who scorns (or is timid of) something you want with all your heart.  And frankly I thought Noel Clarke was rubbish.  He improved, quite a lot; “The Girl in the Fireplace” couldn’t have been as magnificent as it was if he had been the lead weight he was in “Rose”.  And Martha Jones suffered by coming on Rose’s heels (the character and my perception of her both); no matter what you think about it, Rose’s relationship with the Doctor was special.  I think she’s come the closest to how I felt about Tegan and Adric and Nyssa.

5

I  discussed this briefly with other Who-fen a while back, how your first Doctor seems to always be your favorite. My first and favorite was Peter Davison. (I think I saw a little of Tom Baker, but I saw PD from the beginning.) I adored him, actor and Doctor, and harbored a deep and smoldering hatred for Colin Baker (particularly because of that “effete” comment right after regeneration). I never thought a new Who could match the old (after the Paul McGann debacle), but I fell straightaway in love with Christopher Eccleston. When I learned he was leaving after the one season/series, I was crushed. For two reasons, really – because he was wonderful – sorry, fanTAStic – and because, well, there goes another regeneration. It’s not like there are many to spare. For both reasons I sat there watching The Christmas Invasion with my arms crossed unwilling to be wooed.

Did you miss me?

DT had me won over by “rude and not ginger”. He is superlative. And finding out that he has been a fan since age three means a lot – he became an actor partly in hopes of one day playing the Doctor. Every minute he’s spent onscreen has been a dream come true for him – and it shows. The Doctor should have a wide joyous streak in him – even after everything he’s been through he should still love his job, and take great pleasure from the TARDIS and his Companions.

(Now that I think of it, RTD did the same thing JJ Abrams did – blew up a venerated SciFi planet. Huh. I never balked at that. ‘Course, RTD didn’t go back in time to do it and destroy 40 years of stories in the process. ‘Course, he’s probably thinking to himself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”)

And so I’ll be feeling the same way again some time next year when Matt Smith’s first episode comes along.

The boy is younger than I am – good lord, he’s 26. I hate that. If that’s some sort of play for a younger set of viewers, I shall be very put out. (Or does the Doctor just age backwards? Ish?) I’m sure he’ll be fine – I hope – though I have been heard to mutter things about Matt Scott being a better choice … Put it this way: I have no choice in the matter. And DT has a bad back. I’ll live.

And we’ll always have Paris.

It’ll be interesting watching the two factions knit together on Torchwood, to see which changes which.  (I just had an oddly apropos flash of a quote from Spider Robinson’s Off the Wall at Callahan’s: “My mother made me a homosexual.” “If I get her the yarn, will she knit me one too?”) I wonder if part of the intent of the whole Missing Year arc was to give Martha and Mickey some growth so that they can fit in better.

It’s funny; creepy and downright terrorizing as Torchwood can be (“Countrycide”), it’s Doctor Who that’s scared the bejasus out of me. I was never scared by the old DW, as far as I remember; I’ve read about the “watching from behind the couch” perception of the original series, and was surprised. Now, though… Two words: gas mask. And someday I’ll admit to my reaction to “The Family of Blood”. I never want to see a little girl in a pink jacket with a red balloon again, for one thing. (Or any two of those three elements in one place.) I also lost my taste for stone angels, at least the ones with their faces covered (“Blink”). *shudder*

I mentioned up there that I had gone into On Demand to watch Mad Men.  Such a show… I made note a while back of a quote – not to sound like the typical Barnes & Noble shopper, but I can’t remember the book title, and I can’t remember the author, and to boot I can’t find where I made the note, but the gist of the thing was that it’s foolish and pointless to read all of these books filled with despair; we’re all going to die, we know that – there’s no sense in rubbing our noses in it with every page. I agree with that completely. Reading is recreation; it shouldn’t be punishment. (Ever.)

And yet I love Mad Men. Even though in this entire cast of characters there doesn’t seem to be one who genuinely likes anybody – is infatuated with, lusts after, maybe even loves, but never likes – and the world is filled with rampant sexism and racism — still, the writing and the acting and the direction – the music and the overall production values – are all so high quality that it’s completely addictive. It’s all so … alien, in a way: smoking so prevalent that I thought of playing a drinking game and taking a shot of something every time someone lights up, but I’d be dead of alcohol poisoning before the episode was over; drinking so prevalent it’s as if they ARE playing that drinking game; kids swarming all over the cars (I kind of remember that – was mine the last generation to be allowed that?) and not a seatbelt in sight (ditto); mothers not particularly caring if their kids are running around with plastic bags over their heads … I love that none of the 60’s aspects, from clothes to decor to the vocabulary (why does Pete talk like someone’s maiden aunt?) to all of the above, are in any way a focal point. The characters are the focus, as they should be, and the rest is meticulous and precise setting. It’s a period piece.

We’ve been watching Season 1 over again; hopefully they’ll make 2 available before 3 starts (at last!) on August 16. It seems like a very long time since the last episode, so it’s great to be able to “reread”. One thing this show is extraordinary at is keeping its secrets. It took its time to build, to let us meet the characters in the first few episodes, dropping the one bomb on us that Midge is not the only woman in Don’s life, by a long mark. And come to find out Don is not the only man in Midge’s life – by a long mark. I love the later comment of his “I don’t like to wear jewelry.” Like your wedding ring, hmmm? In the third or fourth episode Salvatore Romano says to the research Nazi, “So we’re supposed to believe that people are living one way, and secretly thinking the exact opposite? That’s ridiculous.” Thus sayeth the man who ogles and makes sexist remarks with the worst of them, and then enthusiastically agrees with the girl at Pete’s bachelor party who said “I love this place! It’s hot … and it’s full of men!”  Mhm.  Poor Salvatore.  Great character.  The beauty of it is that at that point there had been no sign he wasn’t just another of the guys panting after anything in a skirt – and there won’t be for a little while yet: the line was a complete throwaway – both, actually, the “That’s ridiculous” and the agreement – they were to be taken at face value the first time the episode was seen, but they were little wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments, private jokes for the writers, maybe the actors, and anyone who would go back and watch it again. I love writing that rewards rereading/rewatching.

They drop into Don’s commute an old army buddy – of someone called Dick Whitman. And there’s Don trying to figure out if he can deny that’s who he is – is there anyone else in the car that knows him? The scene was beautifully played to show how completely the incident rattled Don, while leaving the viewer in the dark.

And there’s the scene with Roger sitting on a bed in his underwear talking to someone in the next room (bathroom) about his daughter. The intimacy of it makes the first assumption that it’s his wife. Silly.

(And that would be what they call “the last straw”… I doodled on this post till nearly midnight last night, and clicked “publish”… and … apparently my internet connection didn’t feel like it. Weird, though – it saved some little changes I made, but not half the post and larger additions to the above. *sigh* I usually write a post in Word or Notepad for just that reason.  I’m jettisoning dial-up as soon as humanly possible.  Yet another at last!)

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