Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Some Sharpe and Witty Commentary, Plus Dr. Stu on Dr. Who

Once again I post my opinions on what I've been watching lately...

Sharpe's Challenge - Fantastic! I can't believe they got Mr. Moviestar Bean back for this, but thank goodness they did.

Part One felt a bit like Sharpe by numbers, with the following elements culled from every Sharpe story, including:-

1) Wellington charges Sharpe with a mission
2) Intelligence guy briefs Sharpe and gives him a more personal reason for going forth and being heroic
3) Violent and nasty Sergeant that is a clone of Hakeswell and doesn't mind murdering a Colonel with little provocation.
4) Simmerson, the most incompetent general ever, is in charge of the operation and makes every decision incorrectly. How on Earth did he go from retirement in Sharpe's Regiment (my favourite of the old series except for Sharpe's Justice, also set in corrupt old England) to being posted in India?
5) Vaguely competent middle-ranking officers who respect Sharpe but have to obey Simmerson
6) Seemingly impenetrable fort
7) Evil renegade officer that is a mirror of Sharpe, played by another Pierce Brosnan Bond villain no less!
8) French dudes

They even conveniently made poor Sharpe single again so he could sleep around and then he didn't even get the girl in the end. Also I don't remember Sharpe or Harper verbally bitch-slapping Simmerson in previous episodes, so good on them, though I began to feel by this point in part 1 that the script was someone's Sharpe fanfic.

The move from Spain to India was quite jarring in this, and I must confess my knowledge of the India campaigns is even less than that of the Napoleonic campaigns.

Part Two however was fantastic from the get-go, though Simmerson was pushed aside abruptly half way through. This was without a doubt the best an episode of Sharpe has ever looked (Sharpe's Waterloo suffered from budget cuts and recycling footage from Waterloo the movie). The Forlorn Hope, breaching etc. was done much more spectacularly than in any of the old series, and the end fight put me in mind of Rob Roy's climax. Slightly.

Definitely getting burned onto DVD tonight!

Incidentally, another picture of Sharpe from a parallel dimension...

Doctor Who - Argh. Where to start?

New Earth was barely ok as it was a little too camp for my liking. There's only so much "Ooh, now I'm a man. Look I have new bits" that I can take. This is supposed to be Doctor Who, not a cruder version of Red Dwarf.

As said the plot ended very deus-ex-machina and I did wonder how those plague zombies survived, and how on earth were the viruses only spread by touch, not by air? Surely all the air in the hospital isn't completely sterile particularly when being hammered with every disease ever (which isn't the best way to run controlled experiments)?

I suppose it is the year 5 billion...

Which is the other problem with this, by 5 billion surely even the grass itself should've evolved, much less humanity, into something completely unrecognisable. Without the nostalgia for the current era as well.

At least I hope by 5 billion people have more important things to worry about than suspiciously 20th Century style dinner parties on suspiciously 20th century film projectors, genitalia, and naming cities after civilisations 5 billion years ago.

It does seem to be typical of Russell T. Davies that he writes the more inferior scripts in the series full of toilet humour and jokes more belonging in his Queer as Folk show. For example Boom Town was very silly with the "date" for the condemned Slitheen (god please don't use them again!), don't even get me started on the Big Brother one (again, it's the distant future, BB is hopefully by then a long forgotten slump in TV history), though the final episode showed promise even if the Bad Wolf thingy was completely pointless.

Tooth and Claw was better episode was better but it suffered from

a) kung-fu monks for no reason. Now obviously one line explaining all the monks were Glasweigan would have sufficed. :)

The monks were doubtless hard, but how did they know kung-fu? What happened to them at the end of the episode? After all, once the wolf was dead the heroes still had to deal with fire-arm wielding kung-fu fighting monks who seemed quite capable of preventing them from leaving the manor. Seems like this is a future episode, or (more likely) a forgotten plot-thread.

b) More RTD silliness for silliness's sake - the "nakedness", remarks about the laird and his masculine evil-kung-fu-fighting-turned-evil-butler-oh-god-I'm-out-of-hyphens, and most especially the let's get the Queen to say "We are not amused" over a £10 bet after just watching a man get ripped to shreds tested my believability over what was otherwise a scary episode.

c) Not very Victorian - some of the things Doc and Rose said would get them ostracized from most polite Victorian society muchless 'er maj's. And I suppose as someone pointed out, it did at the end.

However it had some clever ideas in it. Are they leaning towards making the Doc and Rose far too "laugh in the face of danger" until they get some sort of reality check? God I hope so, 'cos I can only take so much Billie Piper. I am beginning to think they need to ditch her and give Tennant his own companion.

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