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i'm obsessed with the mess that's america
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Doctor Who - Eleven serious
I'm still alive, I've just been terribly lazy when it comes to LJ. I do have things to talk about, I just keep getting distracted by quick 'n easy Twitter (yes, that's the sole reason - I'm rubbish).

I'll be updating again very soon, I'm just going to give this here LJ a bit of an overhaul to get the ball rolling again.
Doctor Who - Eleven serious
Day 13 - Favorite childhood show

My favourite childhood show and therefore my first ever fandom. If it's possible to have a fandom when you're four years old and have no idea what the internet is, let alone know how to use a computer, I dunno (and no one could really get the internet in 1990 could they?). What I do know is that Thomas the Tank Engine was the most awesome thing ever to be conceived and I was absolutely obsessed with it. It's a wonder that my VHS tapes of the series weren't melted as a result of how much I watched them, marvelling at the fabbo model work and Ringo Starr's memorably laconic narration. It was a shame the show basically went to shit when Ringo left and they started to make up their own stories rather than base them off the original books, but I was far too old for it by then. One of the main appeals was the violence, with trains involved in gruesome crashes and high-octane chases almost every episode. Any episode that didn't involve such a thing invoked an immediate fast-forward. I was a bloodthirsty little git. Still, this infused in me my lifelong love of travelling in trains, so, er, go Thomas.

And while I'm here, have a poll:

Poll #1585822 Help me choose!

What should I watch alongside The West Wing?

Pretty Little Liars
Stargate Universe: Season 1.5
Supernatural: Season 5
Farscape - Humans are superior
Day 12 - An episode you've watched more than 5 times

It's Farscape. Oh yes.

Farscape, despite being incredibly dark and dramatic, was also full of pure, wonderful crack. This episode is possibly the ultimate example of that and it is glorious. The funny thing about it was that it was originally going to be a straight-up, regular episode, but the director found it slightly lacking and went back and re-edited it, turning it into a kind of hyper-kinetic, Tarantino-infused, crazy romp. It's very audacious and truly unique.

I've watched it more than five times because it's absolutely hilarious, full of so many fast edits that you pick up something new everytime and is a fantastic example of John and D'Argo's awesome bromance. It's difficult to really talk about it at great length because it's really a "you need to see it to understand" sort of deal, a bit like Farscape in general, actually. You should watch it if you haven't.
Doctor Who - Eleven serious
The West Wing.

Two Cathedrals.

I knew this episode was very well-regarded, so my expectations were pretty high. I really, really wasn't disappointed.

I honestly do think it's probably the greatest singular episode of television there has ever been. With Martin Sheen's incredible performance, Aaron Sorkin's properly genius writing, the brilliant use of music, the amazingly poignant flashbacks and the stunningly epic ending, I'm honestly struggling to think of anything quite as perfect, as utterly flawless as this.

I... I'm barely able to form a coherent sentence right now. The West Wing is astonishing.
Doctor Who - Five in Castrovalva
I watched two Doctor Who stories today! One was wonderful and charming and lovely, the other was none of those things.

I'm going to talk about the other one.

Doctor Who: The King's DemonsCollapse )
The IT Crowd - Richmond and Moss
Day 11 - A show that disappointed you

I actually feel vaguely guilty about choosing this. I could've gone for Heroes, but that's so screamingly obvious: everyone knows about Heroes and its disappointing decline.

Six Feet Under is by no means a bad show, but it did disappoint me. I loved the first season, I really did. It was compelling and well-written and the cast were fantastic. I loved the mix of Dead Person of the Week along with the ongoing character drama. I loved the occasional flights of fancy. It was great. But what killed it for me was this (feel free to laugh, it's fine): the Christmas episode in season two. You see, when I was watching Six Feet Under it was in December and I remember being amazed that the timing had been so perfect that I was going to end up watching the Christmas episode on Christmas Eve! Perfect!

Unfortunately, the episode was so depressing and irritating that it nearly ruined Christmas for me. That's pathetic, I know, but it did. I hated it. And it made me realise, with a shock like cold water being flung in my face, that I wasn't enjoying season two - it had become a chore and this episode was the absolute culmination of that. The characters had become insufferably annoying and self-absorbed. There was nothing there to really get my teeth into, no more Dead Person of the Week. All of a sudden, Six Feet Under had turned into Hideously Unlikeable People Hour, and the only thing to save that Christmas for me was the decision to stop watching it immediately and sell my DVDs.

Maybe things pick up again after season two, I don't know. I'm not hugely desperate to find out, although I'm still curious about the carjacker episode and the series finale. But season two left a bad taste in my mouth and really was such a letdown after season one, I don't think I'm ready to go back and try again.

The title sequence is still fucking amazing, though.

Honourable mention: Merlin series two.
Keeley Hawes
1. I've totally started watching The West Wing after sitting (not literally) on the first season boxset since I got it for my birthday. I wasn't sure if it'd be my thing or not, but it actually is! It's sort of like if Press Gang were American and set in the White House. It's really absorbing and funny and the characters are great, and there's lots of walking down corridors and speaking really fast and non-annoying snarkiness. Sometimes I have no idea what's going on for about two minutes and then all of a sudden I do, because it's like "fuck it, we're not explaining stuff to the audience, they're not idiots, they can work it out" and I dig that. ER did the same thing (I used to watch it with my mum, shut up). I can see myself getting really into it and chugging down seven episodes a day or something like that. I'm already getting a craving to watch another episode AS I TYPE.

2. I've also done a few more Big Finish plays recently. Buying Big Finish stuff is just ridiculously compulsive in a way that buying other stuff isn't. Maybe they put subliminal messages in their audios?

The Harvest, Creatures of Beauty, Forty-Five, Year of the Pig.Collapse )

3. Day 10 - A show you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

"It's just a Star Trek clone, it can't be any good!"

I WAS WRONG. DEAD WRONG. I put off watching it for ages, convinced it wasn't for me. I was young and naive and Just Didn't Understand. I had no idea that this was, quite simply, the most epic fucking TV series ever conceived by mankind. Because it is. Oh my god. If you've never seen Babylon 5, you're missing out. I know I say that a lot, but I really do mean it. It's like no other sci-fi or television series ever made. It's the wildest ride of your entire life. Plus, Susan Ivanova, AKA God.

Also, rather sadly, one of the reasons why I went off Spaced was because of the whole "Babylon 5 is a big pile of shit!" scene. That and I over-watched it to the point where even thinking about Spaced makes me nauseous, but that was certainly part of it. That's really lame, isn't it?
Doctor - Eleven gun
Day 06 - Favorite episode of your favorite TV show

The fact that it's a firm fan favourite means absolutely nothing (yes, sometimes Received Fanboy Wisdom isn't always wrong, like The Talons of Weng-Chiang and The Sea Devils being "classics"), because I had no idea how highly-regarded this story was when I first sat down to watch it aged 13. It absolutely blew me away, and every time I've watched it since it still has the same impact, the same power. This is a story that makes me wish Russell T Davies had toned down his "more, more, more!" approach to his season finales, because this is the perfect example of a dramatic, incredibly intense story that is hugely important, but yet the Fate of the Universe isn't at stake in the slightest.

I don't want to waffle on too much about this story, but I'll try and explain why it's my favourite. Firstly, the Doctor. Peter Davison gives not only his best performance in the role, but also the best singular Doctor performance in the entire history of the series. Certainly of the classic series at any rate, but I'd be tempted to include the new series in that as well. His Doctor is still the same vulnerable, somewhat more innocent figure of his Fifth incarnation, but it's almost as if every single quality of the Doctor, be it good or bad is channelled in just the one story as he goes through absolute hell, culminating in a final act by him that is breathtakingly good, so noble, that it affirms exactly why the Doctor is the greatest fictional hero of all. This is the ultimate Doctor story.

I definitely think the script by Doctor Who writing legend Robert Holmes plays a very important part in the success of Caves, but it's certainly a script that could've gone badly wrong had it been misjudged by a lesser cast and indeed, a lesser director (featuring as it does insults like "prattling jackanapes" and numerous moments where a character talks directly to the audience). Graeme Harper's direction is practically cinematic, probably the best direction of the classic series, giving everything the adrenaline rush it needs in the action scenes, but also doing real justice to the drama and the performances. Honestly, Classic Who has never looked as good as this.

Then there's the plot. It's about revenge. I don't think many Doctor Who stories have ever been squarely about that and I guess that's just another reason why The Caves of Androzani is so special, because its revenge story is the best kind of revenge story, worthy of The Count of Monte Cristo, so compelling and dark as it is. Indeed, Sharaz Jek must be one of the best and most memorable one-off "villains" ever seen in Doctor Who (Baines from Human Nature/The Family of Blood is second), a tragic and terrifying Phantom of the Opera-esque figure who veers from being terrifyingly monstrous to abjectly pitiful. You won't forget him, ever.

It's not 100% perfect. The obligatory monster looks crap, but is thankfully barely in it. And that's more than made up for by the chilling music, by the incredible ending to part three, by the amazing performances from a uniformly fantastic cast, by the Doctor finally explaining why he wears a stick of celery... and ultimately, the fact that Peter Davison, Robert Holmes and Graeme Harper were/are three of the most talented men to have ever worked on the series and this one story is a mighty testament to that fact.

If you like Doctor Who in any shape or form and have never seen The Caves of Androzani, then you really, really should. It's a prime example of the series at its best, and for me remains a still-unbeaten benchmark for every new story since.
Farscape - John insane
Day 05 - A show you hate

I know, it's so obvious. But this series is just... it's pitiful. Pathetic. I'd almost feel sorry for it if it weren't such a cynical, hateful comedy vacuum. Two and a Half Men isn't funny. Hardly a groundbreaking observation, but it's completely true - there's not a speck of anything remotely funny to be had over the course of its seven punishing seasons. The laughter track is so misplaced and overused, played over lines of such crushing inanity that it almost becomes some kind of avant garde experiment in anti-comedy. Charlie Sheen, while absolutely not a nice man by any stretch of the imagination, is an actor with some talent (well, in the past at any rate). But here he's like the very emotion of "smug" itself has somehow managed to grow itself a fleshy body in a petri dish and spends most of its time wandering lazily around the set of a shit, inexplicably popular multi-camera sitcom, leering at and making out with an endless parade of beautiful women and getting paid a ridiculously enormous amount of money to do so. Basically, this series is ghastly and challenges my Kenneth from 30 Rock-esque love of television more than even the most banal of MTV reality shows. Horrific and vile.
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