Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Doctor Who: Frontier In Space

After receiving a bit of a telling off from Andrew Lewin, the esteemed curator of Taking The Short View for not feeling the Pertwee love in my last Doctor Who related post, I decided to give him another try.

Frontier In Space is a six part story from 1973, which features a plethora of creatures from the "whoniverse" including the Ogrons and the Draconians, the latter being Jon Pertwee's favourite monsters, and rather brilliantly realised they are too.

This story is also the final appearance from Roger Delgado as The Master, before the tragic car accident that claimed his life. His portrayal for many fans is the definitive version of this classic villain.

My issue with many six part stories is that they tend to be padded out which makes the story drag, but this manages to keep up a decent pace.

The idea of the sonic gadget that makes the characters see the thing that they fear the most is a clever plot device.

I chose this as it was the story that was being broadcast when I was born, although not quite a Genesis Of The Daleks or an Earthshock, it's a good one to be associated with (thankfully I'm too old to have had Time And The Rani as my story!)

And for anyone who hasn't yet seen this classic series story, there is a little cameo at the end that will make it worth watching all the way through.

I would be really interested to hear what story was doing the rounds when you were born, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Overall I quite enjoyed this one, I may yet be converted to the Pertwee cause!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Glen Campbell: Ghost On The Canvas

Growing up in our household in the late 1970s and early 1980s I was introduced to lots of different kinds of pop music, my brother, who is four years older than me would listen to metal, punk and prog rock. My parents who had their teenage years in the late 1950s and early 1960s would listen to country music.

So my musical tastes were and always have been quite diverse, one of the artists I was introduced to from an early age was American country pop singer Glen Campbell.

Campbell's musical career started at the end of the '50s as a session musician, his guitar skills can be heard on many classic pop tracks, he was a part of Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound, and he played on the Beach Boys' seminal 1966 album Pet Sounds, and toured with them when Brian Wilson was unable to join the rest of the band due to his declining mental health.

He was later offered a contract with Capitol records and after a few false starts had a string of hits throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Wichita Lineman and Galveston.

During the 1980s and 1990s Campbell's stardom had faded somewhat, not helped by drug and alcohol addictions.

He made a cameo in Clint Eastwood's Every Which Way But Loose, which he also provided the theme for.

He later gave up his addictions and became a born again christian.

In 2008 he was persuaded by Julian Raymond to return to Capitol and record an album of covers of more contemporary artists, illogically called Meet Glen Campbell.

Campbell revealed in June of this year that he had Alzheimer's disease, and that he planned to make one more album and go out on the road for a farewell tour.

Ghost On The Canvas goes back to the sound that made Campbell a star, the trademark tremolo guitar sound is there. The album features a list of guest artists including Dick Dale, Chris Isaak and Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins.

Lyrically at times it's very moving, the title track and Any Trouble are the sound of a man who has come to terms with his situation and is prepared to fight on rather than just give up.

One of the highlights for me is a cover of one of my all time favourite songs, Hold On Hope, originally by Guided By Voices, a song by a band that you would never automatically think of as ripe for a cover by a country music veteran, but it's a perfect fit.

As the final release in a career that has spanned over fifty years this is a fitting tribute to an artist who brought country music to the masses.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space

First things first, I have to come clean and admit that Jon Pertwee is not my favourite Doctor.

That said, this story is a solid start for the third Doctor. It's a story with many firsts, it's the first outing for Pertwee, the first story broadcast in colour, the first to feature the Autons, and the first time that it's revealed that the Doctor has two hearts.

This story looks great due to the use of film instead of the cheaper option adopted afterward by the BBC to use video tape.
I knew I shouldn't have ordered the calamari

Caroline John plays new companion Liz Shaw, her character was more of an intellectual equal to the Doctor than the majority of her predecessors, and as much as I like Jo Grant, I think on reflection I prefer the dynamic between the Doctor and Liz, at least until Sarah Jane Smith turns up.

Part of the reason for wanting to re-watch this was a desire to see a story that features the brigadier, Nicholas Courtney's portrayal of the brig was one of the most endearing characters in the history of the show, he provides the perfect foil to Pertwee's Doctor.

The pace of the story is good, the action sequences and stunts are pretty good, aside from a slightly dodgy bit of Pertwee gurning during the denouement, I couldn't find too much else to really pick holes in. As first new Doctor stories go this is certainly one of the better ones.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Panasonic Announce New Lumix GX1

Panasonic have announced yet another addition to their ever growing family of G series system cameras.

The DMCGX1 will hit stores in the next few weeks and design wise it looks like a cross between the Lumix DMCGF1 and the DMCLX5.

In keeping with the retro styling of the camera, Panasonic seem to have gone back to the 1990's for the concept of this promotional video.

The camera looks cool though!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Doctor Who: Horror Of Fang Rock

This is one of my favourite classic series stories.

Producer Graham Williams, was brought in to take over from Philip Hinchcliffe in the face of growing concern from the likes of Mary Whitehouse that the programme was becoming too dark and violent for children.

It's somewhat ironic then that this story is thematically one of the darkest in the entire history of Doctor Who.

It's fair to say that this was a transitional period for the production team, so the (most welcome) darker tone owes a lot to the writing style that had gone before, this can also be explained by the circumstances at the time, when Terrance Dicks was asked submit a new story as a quick replacement for a planned vampire story, which would have clashed with the BBC's adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, due to air around the same time.

Filming was also affected when the studio scenes had to be moved from BBC television centre in London to Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham.

Tom Baker's working relationship with Louise Jameson took a turn for the better during the making of this serial, known for sometimes being a prickly personality, Tom was very close to Elisabeth Sladen who played previous companion Sarah Jane Smith. His attitude toward Louise Jameson was at best frosty to begin with.

In the commentary featured on the DVD Louise Jameson says that she feels that their relationship turned a corner when filming a scene in which Tom was meant to enter the shot on cue, he would deliberately walk in ahead of his cue and upstage her. She asked for the scene to be restaged three times in order to get it right, and subsequently earned Tom's respect.

I think Terrance Dicks' contribution to the programme is often overlooked, his stories may be more simplistic compared to some of his contemporaries, but they have a sound structure, which is one of the reasons I find this story to be one that I go back to again and again.

My pick of the guest cast would be Colin Douglas as Reuben, his demonic smile when he is playing the Rutan is chilling.

This story is also notable as one of the few classic Who serials directed by a woman, Paddy Russell, and what a sterling job she does too.

The extras on the DVD are up to the usual high standard including; a commentary by Louise Jameson, John Abbott and Terrance Dicks, a documentary about Paddy Russell, a documentary about collectable memorabilia, and my favourite of the collection, a documentary about Terrance Dicks.

If you have yet to see a story featuring Tom Baker as The Doctor then I would rate this as one of his best.