Thursday, November 05, 2009

For Fawkes Sake

Good Evening London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine - the security, the familiar, the tranquility, repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke.

But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle: A celebration of a nice holiday. I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the annunciation of truth.

And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and depression. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice and freedom are more than words: They are perspectives.

So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked.

But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Doctor Who: The War Games

It always feels like a special occasion when a serial from Patrick Troughton’s era of Doctor Who is released on DVD, since so little of his time as the central character even exists anymore. It’s of course a huge shame that any Who stories were junked, but the Troughton era was hit particularly hard, and only six of its stories exist in their complete forms (although the release of “The Invasion” a few years ago, with animation providing the visuals for Episodes One and Four, helps to bump the total up to seven). Troughton’s Doctor had a true sense of the magic of the universe about him, an attribute which trickled into his stories as well. On his watch, the series started shedding its “for kids only” formula, and began churning out some truly memorable sci-fi yarns.

This DVD release seems doubly special since “The War Games” was not only the last story of his era, but it was also the last Who story of the ‘60s, as well as the last to be shot in black and white. Clocking in at over four hours in length and spanning a whopping ten episodes, “The War Games” is truly something special – although the one aspect that makes it particularly noteworthy hasn’t even been mentioned yet. We’ll get there in due course, however, so hang tight.

The Doctor (Troughton) and his companions Jamie (Frazer Hines), the Scottish Highlander from the past, and Zoe (Wendy Padbury), the girl genius from the future, arrive smack in what appears to be the middle of World War I. “Appears” is the key word here, and over the course of several episodes of being captured, shot at, captured again, threatened, caught once more, escaping (several times), and loads of running around, they discover they aren’t on Earth at all, but rather an unnamed alien planet. A group of human-looking aliens have kidnapped groups of soldiers from numerous eras of human history and sectioned them off into separate zones, so that they believe they are still on Earth, fighting their respective wars. What is the aliens’ eventual plan? Well, despite having ten episodes in which to explore that issue, the mechanics of it remain fairly glossed over, but the idea seems to be to put together a “super army” for conquest purposes.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Doctor Who: The Black Guardian Trilogy

After the Doctor tussled with the Black Guardian (Valentine Dyall) back in “The Key to Time” season, the god-like entity vowed to eventually catch up with the Time Lord and destroy him. Over the course of these three stories, the Black Guardian attempts to make good on his threat, although his instrument of doom is a rather peculiar weapon: a teenage alien posing as a British schoolboy. His name is Turlough (Mark Strickson) and he makes a pact with the Guardian that he will kill the Doctor if the deity will take him away from Earth once and for all. Over the course of these three stories he’s bullied, prodded, and talked down to by the Black Guardian at every turn, and it’s a huge shame that early on he doesn’t just say to the Doctor, “Hey, this creepy guy with a dead bird on his head wants me to off you, but it looks like you’ve got some pretty awesome hardware at your disposal, so why I don’t I just hitch a ride with you instead?” Clearly, Turlough wasn’t thinking straight, and if he had managed to double-cross the Guardian so early on, these three tales wouldn’t have their linking thread, which is actually one of the more interesting propositions the series ever offered up: What if the Doctor’s companion was actively engaged in trying to kill him?

The trilogy kicks off with “Mawdryn Undead,” a truly twisty-turny tale of time and space. Indeed, for a TV series which so often uses time travel as its jumping off point, Doctor Who rarely offers up time conundrums and problems as central to the conflict of its stories. Of course, there are only so many ways you can go back in time and step on a butterfly, so this is understandable in regards to the series. And yet, when Who does pull out a story where time travel plays an important role, it’s always great fun to just kick back and let the McFlyness of it all wash over you.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.