Log in

No account? Create an account
17 September 2018 @ 09:05 pm
There is so much about Battlefield that I really, really like and yet the whole has never really gelled for me and that continued to be the case on this rewatch.

I'm a sucker for the Arthurian legends and I love retellings and different takes and Battlefield has that in spades. I mean, of course, the Doctor is Merlin and it makes so much (ironic) sense for it to be the seventh Doctor who is essentially left cleaning up the mess left by some future incarnation who is leaving him only vague hints about what is going on. I love the way the background in Arthurian myth instantly gives Morgaine a much more complex set of motivations as the antagonist. I love the idea of this blend of magic and technology and chivalry. I love the contrasting brigadiers. I love Doris. I love the relationship between Bambera and Ancelyn.

And yet... and yet...

And yet, mostly, I hate the whole alternative universe part. A lot of the stuff I really like about this episode, the sci-fi twist on the Arthurian legend, the idea of a 20th century resolution to events from, well, probably over a 1,000 years previously that have faded into myth, and in particular the interaction on equal terms of 20th century soldiers with their Arthurian counterparts really would not work without positing that the universe in which the Arthur story played out was at some side-step to our own and yet... Well and yet I don't think the story really does the work to justify the concept. I never really believe in this alternate universe and I dislike the fact we never get any really explanation for how the Arthurian myths exist in our own. I don't like the way no thought has apparently been given to either the vast lifespans Morgaine and her ilk must have or, alternatively, to the time distortion between the the two universes. Are Winifred Bambera and Ancelyn really intended to be linked to Guinevere and Lancelot or this a coincidence or something else? If so how and why and what?

"She's a baddie, isn't she?" said Tame Layman, observing the otherwise apparent superflousness of Shou Yuing. He was a bit non-plussed when he turned out to be wrong, but it is easy to see where this comes from. The character has relatively little purpose in the story. In some ways this is nice, there are quite a few characters and touches in Battlefield that serve relatively little direct purpose but serve to flesh out the characters and themes, and it is impressive to see a story from an era which tended towards the frenetic (and indeed a story that tends somewhat towards the frenetic itself) allow itself the luxury of elements that are not entirely utilitarian in purpose, but the very inconsistency of what aspects are allowed space to breathe and which aspects are glossed over apparently without thought is part of what rankles.

Some of the acting - particularly Bambera and Ancelyn (much as I like them) - is a bit poor. Battlefield suffers, as does so much of 1980s Doctor Who, from a low budget and a lack of time to get things right.

This is such a frustrating story. At one and the same time, I think it is great and feel it is a huge disappointment. Almost more than any other classic story, I'm haunted by the fieeling that this could have been truly and utterly wonderful if there had been more time, and more money, and a little bit more thought.

Tame Layman liked it even though he turned out to be wrong about Show Yuing.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/518941.html.

double spread artwork from the start of a story called Dark Intruders.  It shows the third Doctor and Jo (with short hair which looks green but is probably intended to be blonde and big round sunglasses framed against a reddish-purple planet.  In front of them is a montage of two astronauts and a scene of a splashdown capsule from a rocket afloat on water with the two astronauts being rescued by tow men in a yellow dinghy.

The 1973 Dr Who annual has these rather nice montage artworks at the start of several stories. The woman with green (though it was probably intended to be blonde hair is almost certainly meant to be Jo Grant. It wasn't exactly unusual for companions to look nothing like the actresses that played them in the Dr Who annuals since, as I understand matters, the artists often had no reference material to work from. However I do not believe this to have been the case in 1973.

Ponderings and more pictures under the cutCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/518645.html.
14 September 2018 @ 07:44 pm

Sunset over a landscape of standing stones with a mown walkway between them.
Avebury at sunset again - not the stone circle but one of the avenues leading towards sanctuary.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/518372.html.
12 September 2018 @ 08:39 pm
The revelation of Terror of the Autons, at least as far as Tame Layman was concerned, was that Jo Grant was a trainee spy. When we started watching The Curse of Peladon therefore, I was subjected to quite a discourse on what a good thing it was to have a trainee spy in the Tardis. Certainly Jo's ability to rise to the occasion and assume a persona is well-used. It is also nice that the audience are trusted to follow what is going on without the Doctor needing to explain to his companion that it is important that she pretend to be of royal blood. It is also nice that, later on in the story, she gets to do a fair amount of investigation, making her own alliances and generally behaving like a competent adult (something Jo does not have much of a reputation for, though to be honest, I think she is very underrated in this regard).

Both the Peladon stories have a strong sense of place and benefit from their attempts to reflect real world events through the lens of politics on a far flung planet. Curse of Peladon is the stronger of the two, though I sometimes wonder how much of that is simply because it isn't trying to stretch its story out over six episodes. Monser of Peladon also suffers from lifting the character dynamics of King Peladon and Hepesh more or less wholesale for Queen Thalira and Ortron. This is interesting, in a way, since fandom has had a tendency to treat King Peladon seriously as a love interest for Jo, while Queen Thalira's character is defined almost entirely by Sarah Jane's "there's nothing only about being a woman" speech. In reality both are often indecisive and tend to rely on others to tell them what to do. Of the two, in fact, I would say Queen Thalira comes off better since she is constrained by expectations of what a woman can do, and can be seen on occasion to be quietly working around those expectations whereas King Peladon is just a bit useless. You can see why he wants to marry Jo and then presumably have her tell him what to do, but you can also see why Jo all but rolls her eyes when the Doctor suggests she might be seriously considering staying with him.

The surprise "twist" in Curse of Peladon is the reveal that the Ice Warriors are not the villain, though the moment this is revealed, it is fairly obvious who the villain must be (or at least Tame Layman by a rapid process of elimination worked it out), unless, that is, you suspect Alpha Centauri of deep and sinister motivations (which to be honest would have been amusing, if nothing else and is more plausible if you don't already know the character will reappear). The surprise "twist" of Monster of Peladon is the rather less surprising reveal that the Ice Warriors are the villains after all. I find both twists oddly underwhelming, but that may be because I know they are coming.

The Peladon stories are oddities in Doctor Who. It is something that I would like to see more of - an attempt to create an interesting world and revisit it over time. They benefit from antagonists with understandable motivations, enough politics to be believable without getting so bogged down in details as to make it boring and a generally reasonable balance of whodunnit style story with political shenanigans. They do suffer a bit from questionable costuming choices (in which I include King Peladon's shorts) and a certain amount of running around to relatively little purpose (far more noticeable in Monster).

Curse of Peladon is a decent Doctor Who story: a little marred by costuming and padding and perhaps a bit too stolid to rise above its weaknesses, but where it loses out in being a little over-earnest it gains in imagination.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/517641.html.
11 September 2018 @ 06:13 pm

Paper Dolls of Doctors 1, 2 and 3.  1 is dressed as a Regional Officer of Provinces from the French Revolution.  2 is wearing a grey cloak and sunglasses.  3 is dressed as a 1970s cleaning lady complete with flowery blue overall and bucket.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/517385.html.
08 September 2018 @ 02:35 pm

A New Adventures book cover for Oh No it Isn't! by Paul Cornell.  It depicts Wolsey the cat in thigh length boots and a double carrying a gun and Benny dressed as a pantomime boy

There has been a certain amount of chatter in, admittedly fairly rarified, parts of the Internet about how this month marks the 20th Anniversary of the first appearance of Benny Summerfield in audio (her first appearance in a Dr Who novel was 1992, and her first solo novel was 1997). I've never been much of an audio person so the above is the cover of her first solo novel that was adapted into her first audio adventure. I had forgotten but was reminded by The All New Adventures of the Doctor Who Book Club Podcast that the scene depicted on the cover is a joke from the book itself in which Wolsey the cat (temporarily transformed into a Puss in Boots type character) randomly picks up a gun and stares into the middle distance in order to generate an interesting cover image.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/516739.html.
07 September 2018 @ 10:15 am

A large Sarsen stone from Avebury with the sun setting behind it
Avebury at Sunset

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/516455.html.
I conversation on Facebook reminded me that I am in possession of my grandmother's cookery book Miss Tuxford's Modern Cookery for the Middle Classes and I thought you might all be edified by her "Hints on Modern Gas Stove Cooking"

Page from a paperback size book.  Transcription below


I thought it would be beneficial to the readers of this book to include a few hints on the use and economy of cooking by gas. If properly regulated the cost is considerably less than cooking by coal, as each burner can be turned out directly articles are cooked, and no more expense entailed. Both cooking and heating of washing-up water for a family of six costs on 2d. or 2 1/2 d. per day where gas is 3s. 6d. per 1,000 cubic feet. Care should be taken that the amount of dishes to be cooked should be so arranged that the oven is full, as that will only require one supply of gas. Never use the over until it has been lighted from eight to ten minutes, the former for bread, cakes and meat, the latter for puff pastry. It will be found that the shrinkage in the cooking of meat is much less than when cooked in a fire over, because the heat of a gas oven is equal on all sides, and directly the meat is put in a hot over the outside hardens, and all gravy and moisture is kept in, making the meat not only more palatable and nutritious, but more economical. The gas oven is thoroughly ventilated, therefore meat and pastry can be successfully cooked together. The grilling burner should be made to do double duty, for while the bacon or toast is cooking underneath, the kettle, too, may be boiled at the same time, on the top. The kettle, deflecting the heat, causes the bacon, etc., to be cooked more quickly, as well as using up the waste heat. The simmering burner is one of the most useful, and should be used for soups and stews. The consumption of gas is very small, and this burner can be used for nine hours for the cost of 1d. After gas is turned out in the oven, bowls of water should be put in to get hot for washing up the dishes. The times given for cooking in the foregoing recipes are for gas cooking. Care must be taken to keep the stove, oven and burners clean. The preparation known as "Kleenoff" is excellent for cleaning all parts of the cooker. It is a very simple method, merely requires to be painted on with a brush and allow to remain for 30 minutes. Then wash off with hot water and all the enamel parts as well as the burners will look as good as new.

When cooking small cakes it is advisable to put them near the top of the oven, as that is the hottest part. When partly cooked, either reduce the gas or lower the cakes. Large cakes (which require a long time to cook) should be put in the centre of the oven with a very small light. The irons, too, for ironing clothes are much cleaner when heated on the gas stove than before an ordinary fire.

What amazes me, though it shouldn't, is that so much has changed in the less than 100 years since this was published, that much of the advice is completely irrelevant today. That and the slightly odd choice of how to order the material and where to put a paragraph break.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/516134.html.