Friday, August 10, 2007

Let's See If Everybody's Lost Interest Yet Or Not.

All right. Since the comments here have been a veritable hotbed of Doctor Who-related conversation lately, I figured I'd put up a dedicated discussion post, after all.

The episode airing tonight on the Sci Fi Channel is "The Lazarus Experiment." If anybody has any comments to make on this episode, or on Doctor Who in general, let's hear 'em! All I ask is to please refrain from posting spoilers for any episodes later than this one. (For everything up to this point, it'll be read at your own risk.)


  1. Received the Farscape tapes today. Will start watching tomorrow. I`ll riemburse you for postage and tapes. I want to pay the postage so I will continue to get my pension from the PO.

    I taped Dr Who tonite and will watch it first thing in the morning. Thanks

    My word verification is "thymml" Janice has to take medication for her thymml condition.

  2. Eh, you don't need to reimburse me. It's a service I provide gratis as part of my mandate to provide quality science fiction television to the masses. :)

  3. Hmmm.... I'm not so sure that Farscape is Dad's cup of tea. However, it doesn't surprise me that he likes the new Doctor Who series.

    Ok as far as "The Lazarus Experient" The Doctor had a really good line that I can't seem to remember now!!!!!help anyone. Betty I'm sure you know the one I am referring to.
    The episode went by pretty quick. Enjoyed it but realized there wasn't much too it really and wow the original never had a special effect that looked like that.

    I guess the episode was just an adventure to enjoy which I did, also progressing the Martha relationship & leaving some intrigue for possible future episodes with that mysterious guy

  4. reason:my above comment, past and all future. This is why I am not a writer people :) Contrary to how my entries read, I am an intelligent person despite being an Insurance agent.

  5. I'm not sure Farscape will be his cup of tea, either, but he was interested. And you know I can never resist the attempt to pimp my favorite shows out to anybody even remotely interested. :)

    Also, yes, I can verify for the general population that my sister is, indeed, quite intelligent, but that words often tend to spill out of her very quickly, occasionally tripping over each other. ;)

    As for the episode.... Um, I could possibly identify the line you're thinking of if you could give me more of a hint as to what it's about...

    I do agree that this isn't a particularly substantial episode, but of course, they don't all need to be.

    It's still kind of weird, I think, to see Doctor Who using CGI. There's actually been a time or two when I think I would have preferred good old-fashioned rubber monsters, but the critter in this one would probably never have worked without modern FX.

    About the mysterious guy, I will say nothing. :)

  6. ....that one about how living so long just makes you tired… ‘tired of losing everyone that matters to you.’

  7. Ah, yes. "I'm old enough to know that a longer life isn't always a better one. In the end, you just get tired. Tired of the struggle. Tired of losing everyone that matters to you. Tired of watching everything turn to dust. If you live long enough, Lazarus, the only certainty left is that you'll end up alone."

    Very poignant, that. (And, no, I didn't remember all of it verbatim, but I remembered enough of it to make it easy to look it up. :))

  8. From an earlier post, you wrote:
    ""42" isn't one of my favorite episodes, and it does feel a bit filler-y at that point in the season, but it's not bad, and it's got a couple of particularly good moments. And, man, do you have some good stuff coming up!

    As for "Intelligence," I confess to never having heard of it. Eep, that's all I need! More to watch! But when people recommend stuff to me, more often than not it turns out to be worthwhile, so, hey. :) "

    As for Intelligence, you have never heard of it because it is Canadian. We don't have a great track record up here, though we do produce a few gems. Lot of Americans who like Cop shows loved Da Vinci's Inquest. One prof from the states I was talking to had watched in telligence and was surprised at the lack of violence but that the CBC had a show that used the word "fuck" three times over the course of one episode.

    I liked The Lazarus Experiment, though (being a Who-Noob) I have to wonder why Mr. Saxon would see the need to fund this experiment? I have read the spolilers for the series, btw.
    So far, I am still liking series three much more than I had liked series two. Went to buy The Invasion today bu they were sold out. May return tomorrow and nab something else. Any suggestions?

  9. I dunno, Slings & Arrows, The Newsroom, SCTV, The Kids in the Hall, Due South, ReBoot...and lots of others I've probably not had the chance to see, or am just not thinking of right now. It seems to me like Canada has a pretty solid track record with quality TV.

  10. As Fred says, there are some Canadian shows that get a bit of attention here in the US. I was something of a fan of Forever Knight. And, for good or ill, I have seen every episode of Lexx. And I often find myself reflexively surprised at the amount of profanity and nudity in non-US shows... You only get full-frontal nudity and the f-word on pay cable here.

    As for why Mr. Saxon would fund the experiment... Well, that's a very interesting question, actually. We can discuss it at the end of the season. Personally, I can think of two answers, an obvious one and a speculative one, but that's all I'm going to say about it here and now. :) Even if you are yet another one who can't keep away from the spoilers.

    I ought to pick up "The Invasion" at some point, myself, or at least rent it from Netflix. Assuming they have it. As for other suggestions, well, depends on what exactly you're looking for. I'd recommend, um, "City of Death," "Genesis of the Daleks" or "The Caves of Androzani," just on general principles.

  11. And, for good or ill, I have seen every episode of Lexx.

    I don't think I could physically do that to myself.

  12. Oh the other line I loved from "The Lazarus Experiment" was the one that was something like: It shouldn't have taken that long to reverse the polarity, I must be out of practice. hahahahahaha

    For Newbies, The Doctor was always "reversing the polarity" to get out of jams particularly the 3rd Doctor which the story has it was a phrase Jon Pertwee used as a catchall when the story called for technobabble

  13. Betty,
    By the way regarding the "Planet of the Spiders" lost in the time vortex issue. I think I remember you stating that there was a reference in a later book that The Doctor was lost in the vortex for years, I think it must have been in one of the early "new adventures". ring a bell at all?

  14. Ok,
    I see James Marsters will be on Torchwood. Betty, you need to send me copies of Torchwood so I can watch it!!!!!!!
    It's not my fault I'm an American. Speaking of American, it's funny since James Marsters is as well but made a name for himself playing a British vampire and now will have an appearance on a British TV show.

  15. Fred: Lexx actually had a lot of redeeming qualities, and at its best it approached a kind of goofy satiric brilliance. At its worst, though, it made one feel deeply, profoundly embarrassed to be watching it.

    Kathy: Yeah, that line amused me greatly, too. The new series is littered with those kind of classic series in-jokes and references, which is great. (There's a rather subtle and obscure one coming up later in the season that tickled me so much I had to hit the pause button and get the laughter out of my system before going on. :))

    Re the "Spiders" reference, it might very plausibly have been in one of the NAs. It's been ages and ages since I read them, though, so my memory is fuzzy.

    Marsters is supposed to be using his British accent on Torchwood, too, I hear. I can most certainly send you episodes, but I think I only have them in .avi format, so you can only watch them on a computer, unless you have a DVD player that can handle that format, or have the ability to convert them.

  16. I can convert. Right now my sound card is not working on my computer, but I have a program that can convert the avi. Beside, the first time I saw the premier of Farscape was on Gary's computer.

  17. All righty then! I'll send you some discs soonish.

  18. Talked to Kathy on the phone tonite. Know what we talked about? This Blog of course. What am I turning into?

  19. Oh, my. And my ears weren't even burning. Dare I ask what you actually said?

  20. In all fairness to Lexx, all I've seen is a lengthy stretch of an episode somewhere near the middle or end of its run, and the first episode (which I gather actually followed some TV movies introducing the characters?). It was profoundly weird experience, and, while intrigued, I never felt like I was close to understanding what was going on.

    It's also weird that Marsters sounds like he's putting on an accent when he uses his regular, American one.

    His appearance (and the appearance of one other, who I probably shouldn't mention lest spoilers) is why I'm slowly forcing myself to watch the rest of the first season. I want to like Torchwood, I really do. I'm just not there yet.

  21. Lexx is extremely weird, even if you watch it from the beginning. Which is part of its appeal, really. Also, if you watched the first episode as it aired on Sci-Fi, IIRC, that wasn't even the first episode after the movies. They showed that series so out of order at the beginning that it was hard to follow if you wanted to.

    As for Torchwood, it's surprisingly difficult to genuinely like. I've mostly managed it by turning my brain off and lowering my standards. As I think I've said before, it works pretty well if you regard it as an amusing show about the world's most incompetent secret agency. Which actually makes me somewhat worried about the idea of them introducing competent people.

    Also, I like irrepressible DW Jack much better than broody TW Jack, but I'm at least vaguely hopeful we'll see a bit of a change back toward the former at this point.

  22. I have no idea which episode of Lexx I first saw some of on the Sci-Fi Channel. I do know it hurt my brain. Not entirely in a a bad way, but still: ouch. I next watched the first episode from the "Series 2" DVD set, since this is what Netflix had, and I was led to believe it was the beginning of the series proper. Except there might have also been movies and/or an earlier miniseries? Those don't seem to be available via Netflix, but if they'd help eliminate some of the confusion...

    I definitely agree with you regarding Jack. I think I get why he became Broody Jack on Torchwood -- there were darknesses to explore in the character even from the first appearance in "The Empty Child" -- but it spoiled a lot of the fun.

  23. Yeah, there were actually four tv-movies, and "series 2" starts up where those leave off. The movie series, IMHO, is brain-hurting in the good way. Or at least in... well, no, not exactly in a so-bad-it's-good-way. More in a bizarre good-and-bad-at-the-same-time sort of way that, frankly, defies both description and explanation. Personally, I find that surprisingly appealing, in a cracked-out, I-can't-believe-I'm-enjoying-this kind of way, but I don't remotely blame anybody who decides it's just stupid and turns it off. :)

    The movies were originally released in the US under the title "Tales from a Parallel Universe," but I see that Netflix doesn't have them under that title, either.

    As for Jack, yeah, it makes sense in character terms, although I think it ought to be possible to balance broody-Jack and fun-Jack a bit better... There's at least one episode where I think they managed it, but mostly he just tilted too far in the "broody" direction. Which might have been OK, even, expect they didn't do much genuinely interesting exploration of Jack's Emo Angst. I blame the general "Ooh, look, we're adult now!" attitude that seems to inform everything about Torchwood. But if "adult" can, among other things, mean "dark," it doesn't necessarily need to mean "humorless."

  24. Let us not forget who introduced you to those movies :)

  25. Yes, indeed. You get all the credit and the blame for that particular bit of brain-breaking experience. :)

  26. Okay, so I just watched the first Lexx movie. And while it was, on one level, absolutely dreadful and confusing, on another it was actually really entertaining. Really easy to follow, by comparison to what I'd seen before.

  27. Yep! That's Lexx, all right. :)

  28. Watch Eating Pattern that one is awesome in such a messed up way.

  29. Eating Pattern is by far the most objectively dreadful of them, IMHO, and yet it is so bizarrely entertaining that now I'm feeling a strange urge to watch it again. :)

  30. Don't send copies of these to Dad though! Not the same as Farscape :)

  31. From a Strange Horizons article about Lexx:

    "A good many observers, in fact, have seen something of the Lexx in Farscape for that reason, as well as for Farscape's eclectic band of fugitives and quirky sexuality. (In fact, according to Hirschfield, at 'one time Farscape fans and Lexx fans got into a huge grudge match about it, firing off hate-filled emails, attacking sites—all that sort of thing.')"

    They're very, very different shows, however. This isn't like Babylon 5 vs. Deep Space Nine. This is like apples and...well, not oranges, exactly, but some weird variety of thing that's maybe a fruit of some kind...

  32. Oh, here's the SH link:

  33. I appear to have missed that particular shouting match, mercifully. Personally, I know Farscape fans who enjoy Lexx, and ones that hate it with a passion, neither of which surprises me. I think you're quite right on the question of comparing fruits. :)

    Of course, there are similarities. Lexx was one of the first of the recent wave of shows following the "small gang of criminal misfits snarking their way across the universe in a really big spaceship" formula, to which Farscape most definitely belongs. (And which, I always feel compelled to point out, is not remotely a new sub-genre, but one that traces back to Blake's 7 in the late 70s/early 80s, rendering all arguments about which recent show stole the idea from which other recent show pretty much moot.) One could point out any number of similarities, really, but making up that kind of a laundry list entirely misses the point, which is that the two shows feel very different to watch, even if they're both capable of making your brain explode at various points.

    Thanks for providing that link, by the way. Interesting article, and I agree with pretty much everything it says. Also, by the way, I happen to have a copy of the Joe Nazzaro book they link to, and I recommend it. Some really good interviews in there.

  34. Betty and Kathy, You think I`m an old prude?

  35. Hey, I sent you Farscape. That's hardly an old-prude kind of show. But Lexx, I'm fairly sure, would either give you a heart attack or make something in your brain explode, and I refuse to be responsible for either. :)

  36. For all you folks out there, dont I have the most thought daughters?

  37. You know what I'm gonna watch me some Blake's 7!!!

    P.S. I don't the same band of fugitive formula really works and appeals to me. Speaking of Blake's 7, I was just mentioning to Gary(the hub) that the show was not afraid to kill off a major character. So whereas your normal,oh my goodness is he gonna make it knowing full well that an important character is not going to be offed, is out the window!

  38. Watching B7 is an excellent thing. I really need to go back to watching those B7 DVDs I bought, even though I can't play them anywhere but in my living room. (Stupid regional encoding, mutter grumble.)

    I don't the same band of fugitive formula really works and appeals to me.

    Erm... This sentence no verb?

    It's a scenario I'm rather fond of, myself, if only because it's easy to exploit for lots of interesting kinds of conflict.

    And as for killing off characters unexpectedly and just because they could, yes, B7 was a pioneer in that field, too. :) I think that show really did a lot to set my expectations for how television ought to be. Very much ahead of its time, that program was.

  39. Well, there are always real-world reasons (like actor contracts, SAG rules, etc.) for why that isn't more of a standard practice. It's not always a case of the writers being wishy-washy and backing away from a tough story twist.

    Real-world concerns are also a big reason for aliens that aren't very alien -- for example, the varied nose bumps you see in Star Trek. This is one of the reasons that I really like Farscape (and maybe, at least in theory, Lexx). You actually see non-humanoid aliens.

    Then again, science fiction isn't really about aliens -- like all fiction, it's about us, humanity -- but it's nice to see shows like that doing something genuinely different.

    This was a Doctor Who comment thread at one point, wasn't it? ;)

  40. True, production limitations are the answer to a lot of things. Although in the case of killing off characters, I think they're more often the reason for doing it, as in most shows it tends to happen because an actor wants or needs to leave, rather than for narrative reasons.

    As for the head bumps... I read an interview once in which one of the people on the Farscape alien-costume team (or whatever their actual job title might be) talking about how when they started out they were all very disdainful of what they thought of as the lazy, uninteresting Trekkish head-bump thing, and how they swore they were never, ever going to resort to that, being clever, hardworking folks with lots of great resources for making nifty and genuinely alien-looking costumes. And then they started working on an actual TV schedule and realized that sometimes they just didn't have time to do everything they wanted. Out came the headbumps, and they never looked down on the Star Trek guys again. :)

    Of course, the fact that Farscape does have a non-humanoid regular character, and the fact that he can act well enough to make audience members cry, is a testament to both how far technology has come, and to the sheer genius of the people at Henson. (With, OK, a bit of credit to Lani Tupu, too. :)) Hopefully we'll be able to see more of that sort of thing in the future. Although, of course, even then aliens will probably never be too alien, or we couldn't identify with them.

    And, erm, yes. Apparently, while my Harry Potter conversations turn into Doctor Who conversations, the Doctor Who conversations end up being about Every Other SF Show Ever. :)

  41. Actually, looking back over the thread, I think we can blame Magnus for introducing the Canadian-television topic. ;)

  42. According to Brian Henson, there was a lot of goat in the design of Pilot's face, which for whatever reason lends itself to human empathy. It is a little remarkable, however, that he (and Rygel) are such fully realized characters.

    A truly non-human character could still be interesting, but probably only in terms of the human reactions to it. After all, one of the reasons I think Farscape works better than Lexx (although, again, it's problematic trying to compare them) is that John Crichton is us, the viewer, especially in those early episodes. We may be interested in him, but I don't know that we can relate as easily to Stanley Tweedle. (Then again, trying to relate to anything in Lexx can be tough. It's maybe better just to go along for the ride.)

    The realities of production are what they are. Headbumps are a necessary evil.

    I'm still disappointed when every headbumped race is some kind of monoculture, though. (Klingons are warriors; Cardasians are fascists; Bajorans are spiritual; etc.) It makes sense, I guess -- because again, science fiction is about us, and these are aspects of our nature -- but it would still be nice to see aliens that are a little more diverse. I've seen steps in this direction (e.g., an ep of Enterprise where a Klingon mourns the rise of the warrior caste over all the others), but not a lot.

  43. True, it would be interesting to see at least an attempt at a genuinely alien alien now and again, at least as a guest character for the humans (and pseudo-humans) to react to. I think that's a lot more difficult than it sounds, though.

    And, I dunno, I can sort of identify with Stanley Tweedle. He's kind of the distilled essence of everything weak and cowardly in all of us, in much the same way that the usual hero characters are the distilled essence of everything we'd like to be. I'd like to imagine that if I were suddenly catapulted into a bizarre and unwelcoming science fictional universe, I'd be something like Crichton, but, sadly, I have to admit that I probably would be rather more Stanley-esque. :) That having been said, I do think your point still stands. Crichton is very much intended as a point of audience identification, and he works very in that capacity. (Not least, I think, because the writers of that show really seem to know their audience.) With Lexx, I think the sense of strangeness as disorientation is rather deliberate.

    On the subject of monocultures... I have a copy of the Farscape role-playing game, which I've never actually had the chance to play, but which I adore, if only because, f'rinstance, they go on in the character creation section about how Luxan culture is very warrior-oriented and how their stats, abilities, etc., are geared towards warrior characters... And then they actively encourage you to go against type and play, say, a Luxan computer geek. :)

    They never had the chance to explore that sort of thing much on the show... In many cases, we only saw very small segments of a species' population -- Luxan warriors, Delvian priests, etc. -- or even only one member of a particular species. But, somehow, the RPG's attitude seems to me very much in the spirit of the show.

  44. Must have more Doctor Who....

  45. Tomorrow!

    Except, wait, I think that's the one you've already seen...

  46. Ahhhh....indeed the one that I was watching in England!!!!

    No worries because of several factors. I turned it on after the beginning, I was too preoccupied with the notion that I was watching Doctor Who in Great Britain, was extremely tired some walking around London all day. Really had no idea what was happening and will be enjoyed it tomorrow or tonight yikeess I better get to bed!

  47. Also, as I recall, you called me on the phone in the middle. :)

  48. Betty - you wouldn't happen to have the first part of Human Nature on tape would you?
    Our player didn't tape it while we were away and my husband is very mopey at missing the first part of a Paul Cornell episode based on his favorite book. Plus he's the sort that once missing an episode he won't watch the rest of the season until the DVDs come out - and I"ll go thru withdrawal.

    If you or anyone else have it to watch I'd be very grateful...the online viewing is crap and unwatchable and I'm dying to see it. You were the one I thought of when I found out it didn't (for no reason) tape...
    Can you help??

  49. I don't have it on tape, only in .avi format. Which I'd be happy enough to send you...

    Oh, you know what, hang on! Since my DVD player will play .avi, I bet I can hook up the DVD player to the VCR and transfer it to tape for you that way. Hey, I need to try that! It might solve another friend's missing-episodes problem, too.

    If for some reason that doesn't work, I can always get it on tape for you when it's on here next week.

  50. Update: I just tried it, and this method works fine, as expected. So you have your choice of file-on-a-CD or a VHS tape.

  51. wow wow wow...I love you.
    I do.
    I want to have your kittens.

    Question - although I pretend to be a geek, I am uncertain of a few things. The on CD file - would it play on my mac or DVD player????
    If not, I'd be ever so happy for a VHS tape...or maybe even both, just to be safe. My husband is quite honestly rather depressed over the whole thing, as Human Nature was the one episode he wanted to see all season and it was the one we missed - Human Nature was one of his favorite 7th doctor novels and the thought of it being and episode was amazing. He's q Doctor Who fan of the hishgest order and this has really bummed him out, as he refuses to watch the second half that is on next week without seeing the first...or the rest of the season for that matter. We can tape the rest of the episodes and play catch up noe. It'll blow his mind...and I'll send you cookies (any kind) as thanks. Tonnes.
    My email is:
    If you email me I can email you back my address and if you have a paypal account, I could even send you the cost of postage...or mail it. Or anything.

  52. Acutally - it would be the hugest favour in the world if you could tape it off the TV when it is on next week too on the scifi channel. Just in case the avi file thing doesn't work or is grainy/glitchy. I seem to have terrible luck with this sort of thing, and knowing it was on it's way in a couple of formats...well I'd be deleriously happy. And I'd have a much happier husband.

  53. No problemo! Responding to the rest of this via e-mail.