Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 30 - Doctor Who Challenge

The Missing Story I Would Most Like to See Returned to the BBC Archive.

I would say The Moonbase except that from the episodes we have I fear it would be a disappointment.  I have held the Target novel in too high regard for too long.

The story I'd really love to watch would be The Daleks' Master Plan.  It seems as if it would be a better version of The Chase.  I enjoyed The Chase for all the cheesiness it was a fun watch.  My dad has told me of The Daleks' Master Plan from when he watched it.  His memories make me rue it's loss.

These things are always the ultimate classic until they get rediscovered.  Though my dad isn't that in awe of it I would like the chance to enjoy or be a little disappointed by it.  Even if it is a Steven story.  It has after all got Jean Marsh in it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Whisky Trail

After the success of The Rum Trail in February we jumped at the chance of a follow up Whisky Trail.  I was mainly after education again.  I know little, if anything, about Whisky and it's not exactly my favourite tipple.

The deal was 5 tastings of Malt Whisky, 5 cocktails made from these whiskies, a bit of North of the Border grub and to learn more about the drink.

In the first bar, Apotheca, we were given a map of Scotland with the distilleries whose wares we were trying marked on.  We were told how whisky is made.  I can't believe I had no idea at all how this happened.  Maybe I thought it was done by fairies.

We were then told we'd be tasting both single and blended malts.  To dispense with the myth that a blended whisky could not be as good as a single malt.  We also discussed the effect of adding water to a whisky.

Our first drink was an 18 year old Chivas Regal blend, with a minimum of 20 single malts comprising the blend.  We tasted with and without water.  This is one of the nicer whiskies I've come across in my rather sheltered life.  The cocktail was a 'Little Tart', 12 year old Chivas, Sloe Gin, Apple Juice, Lemon Juice and a dash of 5 Spice.  Similar to a Whisky Sour apparently.  I must say it was gorgeous, to my uneducated palate it was much more preferable to add the above ingredients :-)  The food match was pear and rocket wrapped in Parma ham.

Next stop was Socio Rehab.  Here an 18yr old Glenlivet.  Apparently the 'Single Malt that started it all.'  This was similar to the last in that it was very whisky-like for me.  It was food matched with chocolate, I didn't get anything from that really but my husband said it was great for him. The cocktail was a Blood and Sand, named for Rudolph Valentino.  Comprising of the Whisky, Red Vermouth, Dutch Cherry Liquer and freshly squeezed Orange Juice.  While not my favourite cocktail it went together very well.  Not something I would have expected from the ingredient list!

Over to Obsidian next.  Here we got to try a peaty one, Highland Park, 18 yr old whisky.  Apparently from the world's Northernmost distillery.  This was nice, for a whicky.  (By this point I was beginning to realise that whisky is gonna be my nightcap on a not too regular basis.)  Served with a Smoked Mackerel salad.  The cocktail was The Grape and the Grain.  The horror!  We've been told never to mix the two ;-)  Whisky, Chardonnay, Lemonade, Vanilla Syrup and 8 Red Grapes.  A nice short cocktail but I don't think I'll be recreating it.

Corridor was our next destination in the Batmobile Minibus.  This was the trying of Ardbeg.  Described as a Peat Monster.  This was my least favourite of all the whiskies we tasted that night.  It had a harsh, too peaty taste for me.  The Blue Cheese was nice though.  The cocktail was a Flip and I can't quite recall what was in it, sorry :-(

We paused for a bite to eat at Taps.  We had some lovely, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.  That did a grand job at lining our stomachs a little more.  All accompanied by a Whisky and Soda.

Final call was upstairs at Epernay.  Here we were tasting a 12 yr old Aberfeldy.  I'm sorry but my memory is foggy about what I thought of that one.  As it is of the name of the cocktail.  It did have Campari in it though.  We were also given more information on the world of whisky.  The guys that run these tours really know their stuff. To end the night we tasted a Drambuie 15, A whisky liquer much superior to the original Drambuie apparently.  It was quite nice.  I think I find the liquer version easier to drink.

These Spirit Trails are some of the best nights out you can have in Manchester.  If you're interested have a look at their website  They're also on Facebook and Twitter @TheLiquorists @McrSpiritTrails  They do much more than just these tours.  A great addition to Manchester's social scene :-)

I came out of the Rum Trail realising I didn't dislike rum at all.  I quite liked a lot of them.  Whisky is never going to be my favourite drink but one that I'll share a dram of from time to time now I know which I prefer.

Roll on the next one!

Day 29 - Doctor Who Challenge

Who I Think Could Be a Good Doctor (in the Future)

I seem to have more candidates for this one.  The problem is that the Doctor has always been getting younger.  With the extreme youth of Matt Smith have we reached the end if this trend?  I'm not going to rule out people who are older than the last few actors to have played the role.  Even though casting someone much older straight after Smith would feel weird.

My list of candidates would read:  James McAvoy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany, Ian Hart, Paterson Joseph, Damian Lewis, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch.  Cumberbatch would be perfect but I think he's already been cast too close to the role.  As well as not wanting the role.  I'll just enjoy his Sherlock instead.

I think my next choice would be the one that's been most speculated about, Paterson Joseph.  I like his slightly offbeat screen presence.  He was the best thing in the (unnecesssary) Survivors remake.  All serious stuff.  I loved him in Jekyll, slightly off from the norm.  His appearances were the highlight of Neverwhere for me, wacky.  He can do the spectrum and let's face it he's not exactly hard to look at.  I'm loving Matt Smith but can we have Paterson next please?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 28 - Doctor Who Challenge

Who I Think Would Have Been a Good Doctor (in the past).

Hmmm, not an easy one to call this.  You think immediately of your favourite actors then realise they are not suited!

Denholm Elliott would have been a good choice.  He had a likability and a cheeky charm that would have been great in the role.  He can command a screen but doesn't feel the need to be in command.  He's quite happy as a team player.  Yes, he's definitely my choice.

Here he is in one of my favourites of his

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 27 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite Doctor Who Special

The thought of this made me groan.  I am not a fan of the 'specials' and usually find them anything but.  They always seem campy.  I'm not beloved of the Children in Need charity ones either.

The specials I've enjoyed most have been The Next Doctor which although daft in parts I mainly enjoyed watching.  The Waters of Mars was a step above all the other Tennant specials.  A Christmas Carol is probably my favourite Christmas Special.  It didn't sit perfectly with me but it was an enjoyable watch.

The winner is going to have to be The Five Doctors.  Childhood, nostalgic favourite that it is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book 46 of the 50 Book Challenge

Gad's Hall by Norah Lofts, 280 pages

Started June 25th, finished June 26th

This was another holiday read.  I've been meaning to read this book for over 20 years.  It has been on the bookshelves at my parent's house since before i was born.  I was always 'about to read it'.  I think I was a little wary due to the spooky cover.  Keeping myself awake because of a book happened too often! 

This is the tale of how a couple come to own the titular Gad's Hall.  Partway into the book it steps back in time to an earlier part of the history of Gad's Hall.  It tells the tale of the family that lived there at the time.  I enjoyed both stories very much.  My only point is that it is not actually that scary.  The cover is misleading.  It is the first of two books, the second being The Haunting of Gad's Hall.  This book is the set up for that.  It's great that the set up is so deep.  You really get to know both families.  There are sparks of what is to come in this book but I'm guessing that the sequel will spook me much more.  I'm very much looking forward to reading it.  I feel I can't properly judge this, knowing there's a sequel.  A sequel which seems it will fulfil the spookiness of the cover of this book.

4 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 46, Pages - 13,475

Next - The Elephant to Hollywood by Michael Caine

Day 26 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite Doctor Who Animation

This is going to be difficult.  Probably because I didn't know DW animation existed.

*Back from Google search* I'd forgotten Invasion.  I've seen that.  I loved the way it was done.  That is my favourite and I think watching the Tennant animations won't change that.  I do hope that over time we can reconstruct all the missing episodes this way.

A search on YouTube has produced some fan made reconstructions.  A lot of work has obviously gone into them.  Some I like but some I find a little jarring.  They're worth a look though.

Something else worth a look is Adam's 30 Day DW Challenge

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 25 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite Doctor Who Spin-Off

I haven't delved into spin-offs very much.  I never watched K-9 and Company or The Sarah Jane Adventures.  I think Doctor Who Confidential is a great idea but I rarely watch it any more.  I am someone who enjoys watching DW but I'm not so much into the facts and figures.  I like to keep an air of mystery about things too.  Having every detailed explained is brilliant for those who dig that but not for me.

If the Target novels were a spin-off they would win hands down.  However I'm not sure they are, I feel we're looking towards TV here.  That would mean I'd have to pick Torchwood.  I found the first two seasons a touch silly at times but there were some great episodes in there.  The third Children of Earth season blew me away.  It was brilliantly dark, well acted, it got all the Brit Sci-Fi ticks.  What I've seen of the latest series is worrying.  It can't taint series 3 though.

EDIT:  I totally forgot about my 'other favourite' Spin Off.  The Peter Cushing movies.  They definitely deserve a mention.  As a kid I hadn't seen the original stories they were taken from so they were fresh to me. Yeah Bernard Cribbins was annoying but there was Cushing!  Daleks!  Robomen! Earth in dire peril!  Dalek Invasion of Earth 2150AD was my favourite of the two.  It was funny when I did get to see the first two Dalek stories finally.  Took me a while to realise why I thought I already knew the stories.  I haven't seen these for years but I did buy the box set a few months ago.  Time to rip off that cellophane methinks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 24 - Doctor Who Challenge

A Story that is a Guilty Pleasure

Hmm, I'm tempted to say The Five Doctors.  But then again I'm rebelliously not that guilty.  It made me a very happy bunny as a youngster.  I still enjoy it now despite the flaws people point out.  I'll have to go with one I haven't seen since transmission.  The Happiness Patrol, I just love the 'Kandyman' and I'm still amazed the Beeb got away with it!  I'd loved to have seen the Bassett's exec's faces when they saw it.  I'm well aware people think this is a terrible story and I'm looking forward to getting to this one in my current watching 'in order'.  Maybe then I'll be mortified about this post....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 23 - Doctor Who Challenge

The Story I Watch Most as Comfort Viewing

I'd say this has to be the same as my favourite story.  I'm going to have to go with Pyramids of Mars.  Again having had it on VHS for yonks helps here.  Second place would go to Tomb of the Cybermen.  I don't think I have much to add to my past propaganda for Pyramids so I'll leave you with one of my favourite bits of it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 22 - Doctor Who Challenge

The Most Recent Doctor Who Story I've Watched

I'm currently watching The Mutants for the first time.  A Third Doctor, Jo Grant story.  It's nice because the Doctor and Jo actually get to travel off Earth.

The Doctor is sent to deliver a package, which can only be opened by the intended receiver.  This leads to lots of 'is this package yours' fun.  Obviously those in command want it opened whether it's been sent to them or not.  Those scenes are like a Space-Nazi Cinderella sketch.

The planet they arrive on is ruled by Overlords, dressed similarly to Nazi-era army officers.  On the planet below there are the downtrodden invaded race.  Also some Mutants, who are being killed off.  Maybe because there mutations are only attached to their clothing not their actual back.  There is a freedom fighter from the planet below and also a collaborator.  Later on everything's further mixed up by the appearance of massive insects who wiggle around a lot.  Then a Blofeld turns up.

It isn't the most priginal story ever but I'm enjoying it.  The characters are all ones we've seen a million times before.  I think I've guessed the ending but it'll nice seeing if I'm right.  I was a little disappointed to see parts of Full Circle weren' very original :-(

There's a new addition to the 30 Day Challengers.  It's on Confessions of a Neowhovian.  It's an interesting blog written by a newcomer to DW who's blogging her experiences of Classic Who.  A nice look at things for us oldies ;-)

I found her via her comments on Paul's Blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Twelfth Night at Gawsworth Hall

Last night  a few of us took a trip into darkest Cheshire to see perform Twelfth Night at Gawsworth Hall.  A 90 minute trip thorough Stockport's rush hour.

The hall is an ancient, half timbered, very beautiful house with lovely gardens.  You are encouraged to bring a picnic to eat on the lawns before the performance.  This is one of the loveliest nights of the year for me.  Luckily the rain stopped for the evening.  The Rain Gods must be fans of Shakespear.  Once we finished our al fresco dinner it was time to take our seats.  This was our view of the stage.

The auditorium is covered but it was quite a chilly night for July.  We were all thoroughly wrapped up but it crept into my bones.  My only complaint about the whole night was the seats.  They are small and not at all comfortable.  Not even my FC Internazionale seat cushion prevented discomfort.

The cast played very much to the crowd and for laughs.  This was a very funny performance with the cast putting in much gusto.  The story is very easy to follow for ol' Shakey.  So into the fun you could dive.  The actor playing the fool was excellent.  Kept you laughing whilst every now and then giving you something to think about.  Malvolio was played very well.  Pomposity abounded.  The actor giving his all had to be the guy playing Sir Toby Belch.  He gave it his all and plenty there was to give.  Sit Andrew Aguecheek was as flamboyant as they come and lacked any known butch characteristics.  His performance never dropped for a second.  Not even whilst 'in hiding'.

It's nice to see a Shakespeare play where women seem to be ultimately calling the shots.  The woman were played much 'straighter' there were no laughs at them.  I liked this as it gave a balance to the performance.  It stayed just the right side of bawdy.

The costumes were lovely.  Seemed to be selected from a variety of eras and style with just enough of a historical air so as not to distract.  Those costumes, in that setting, with fairy lights in the trees once it got dark.  Well, it was a pretty magical scene.  I'm afraid I haven't got any more photo's as the light was terrible for taking pictures on a phone camera.

I am beginning to think Shakespeare didn't see ships as a safe form of travel.  I think were he alive now air crashes would feature in his work

I'd score this one 4.5 pawprints out of 5

I'm looking forward to next year's show.  I wonder what it will be....  Next year though we'll get there early and take a look around the manor house.

Day 21 - Doctor Who Challenge

The First Doctor Who Story I Watched 

I have absolutely no idea on this one.  It was a Peter Davison story but I don't know which one.  I was very young then!  So much for the 'your first Doctor is your favourite theory' there then (sorry Paul).  I don't dislike him, there's nothing really to dislike about him.  I just find him a little bland.  I did like two of his companions though, Teegan, Turlough and Peri.  Davison always comes across as a really nice bloke, as does his Doctor.

He had some pretty good stories.  From his tenure I enjoyed The Visitation, fun, sci-fi and history.  Black Orchid was interesting with nice period wear and only two epsiodes.  Earthshock really did give us a shock, a brave move.  Enlightenment was a great idea but an episode too long.  Warriors of the Deep I've always had a soft spot for, despite the Merkin Myrka.  The Awakening is a nice dark story.  Planet of Fire was good but a little too long.  I enjoy Davison stories he just doesn't stand out for me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 20 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Non-Fiction Doctor Who Book

My Favourite

I'm going back to childhood here.  It has to be The Key to Time.  I pored over this for hour after hour as a youngster.  Though I have to admit I haven't read it for a long time.  It suited the fact hungry seeker of more DW I was then.  Doctor Who: The Companions also helped fill the gaps I was missing.

Least Favourite

This seems harsh.  I see all the good things about the book but it just doesn't interest me enough.  It's The Writer's Tale.  I think it's a wonderful resource for fans who want to know the nitty gritty of the new show.  I don't really care enough about RTD's era for this to pull me in.  For other writers out there I think it's a wonderful resource.  I'm not slagging this book off just saying it isn't for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book 45 of the 50 Book Challenge

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, 313 pages

Started June 22nd, finished June 25th.

This was my first holiday read on a week away in Cyprus.  I've always enjoyed Caitlin Moran's columns and her twitter feed is one of my favourites.  She seems to have similar views to mine combined with a huge sense of fun.

This book is very graphic.  She doesn't seem to hide anything.  The honesty is shocking yet pulls you in at the same time.  We hear about her life from her early teens and everything involved along the way.  She doesn't put a nice sheen on anything.  You feel for her throughout the book, all women must have felt the same at some point.  She's only a year older than I am so there is a lot I can relate to there.  Though we've trodden very different paths in life.

She says what I feel about a lot of things with a much more coherent voice than I could ever manage.  She brings women back to feminism very well.  The crap written about how it has had its day is shown to be exactly that after reading this book.  She just wants equality, who doesn't?  She highlights the myth of 'earning money' makes us equal.  Her take on lap dancing is wonderful.  As is her view on Katie Price as a feminist ideal.  The best bit is she never lowers herself to attacking people.  She just holds up her thoughts and you can't help but agree.  This isn't a fight against anything it's aiming for a better life for women who don't want to be confined to a manufactured ideal that cost them both emotionally and financially.

The best bit for me was two consecutive chapters on 'Why Women Should Have Children' and 'Why Women Shouldn't Have Children'.  She makes a great case for both.  Pointing out that both is a lifestyle choice one shouldn't be chided for.  Music to my ears.

There are so many things she points out that women fret over.  Things that men wouldn't dream of spending time worrying about.  It's a revelation in every chapter.

She makes the point that women falling to the base level of behaviour we get from the worst men on a Staurday night isn't a feminist coup.  Ladette's weren't feminists, they put the movement back.  Making it wrong to be feminine, you had to be one of the lads.  You don't have to deny yourself to be accepted.

This is the best, most refreshing non-fiction book, I've read in a long time.  I'd recommend it to any woman and to many males too.  There's nothing to be frightened of in here.  It's an enlightening, very funny read.

5 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 45 Pages - 13,195

Next - Gad's Hall by Norah Lofts

Day 19 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Target Novelisation

My Favourite

This one's easy.  One of my favourite books as a kid was Doctor Who and the Cybermen.  It scared me and had Jamie in it, as well as Ben & Polly.  The Target Novels gave me my love of the second Doctor and these companions.  This story I read many times.  In my head there were no dubious sets or notquite right special effects.  It was perfectly pictured.  I love the way there's a sense of threat that builds over the first half of the book.  The scenes with Jamie alone in sick bay with the Cybermen are my favourite.  As a kid I was very

Others I've enjoyed have been Doctor Who and the Daemons, Terror of the Autons, The Three Doctors, The Loch Ness Monster, The Tenth Planet, Enemy of the World, Warrior's Gate, The Awakening and The Invasion.

The thing with these books is I read them at a young age.  I'm not too critical of what I read now, then there was none.  The ones I return to, that I can remember reading kind of get a free pass.  Ones that are new to me I'm a little harsher on.

I will always be glad that the novels were released as they gave me a full insight to Doctor Who's past that wasn't available anywhere else.  I'm also very grateful to Failsworth Library for stocking so many of them.

My Least Favourite

I'm probably biased but there aren't any of these books I really dislike.  I did recently read Doctor Who and the Android Invasion and was disappointed.  It lacked any sense of peril, didn't have any feeling in it.  So I'll put that one down.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 18 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Big Finish Audio Doctor Who Adventure

As I've said before...  I admire Big Finish for what they've done, in the lean years, in keeping the flame alive.  From what I hear  they're a very professional outfit that put out quality drama.  It's just that I struggle with audio drama/books.  I'm always surprised by how many original cast members they bring together.  I have a sneaky suspicion that working on a Big Finish production there is much fun to be had.

Here is their website

They do much more than Doctor Who.  If you like audio drama/books I suggest you have a good look around their site.  There seems to be something for all tastes.  Sherlock Holmes,  Highlander,  Blake's 7,  Stargate,  Sapphire and Steel and much more.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 17 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Top 3 New Series Stories

Looking down the list there's more contenders for this category than I expected.  I must enjoy New Who more than I thought ;-)

Contenders that didn't quite make it are The Unquiet Dead, a nice spooky story early on in the new show's run.  The name Dickens is always going to pull in viewers too.  The Idiot's Lantern is one I loved, very spooky.  What it's trying to say about us and our addiction to the goggle box I don't know!  Amy's Choice was a clever, dark episode and I'm not sure I fully understand it's implications even now.  Toby Jones was always going to up the enjoyment here.  Vincent and the Doctor was made great by the casting of Tony Curran.  A performance not as good as his would have taken me right out of the tale and made it sniggerable.  Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead was deliciously dark and had the added bonus of making us afraid of our own shadows.  Not too sure about the ongoing tale it began and whether it will end in a satisfactory manner yet though.  I enjoyed Girl in the Fireplace but think it would have been better as a solo doctor story, the companions just distracted.

My three favourites are, have you guessed?

The Rebel Flesh/Almost People, this had so many homages without them making me squirm.  It took the age old doppelganger tale and gave it fresh legs.  It's also the story that rounded Rory out for me.

Human Nature/Family of Blood, I loved this.  The darkness, the setting, the cast.  Martha's performance.  Tennant was well suited to play the role he did here.  And yet another household object to be spooked by.

No surprises that The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances is my favourite.  It spooked me out at 29.  I bet kids were delightfully creeped out!  Richard Wilson gives us a great performance and the FX were used well, giving a sense of the story rather than being the highlight.  Captain Jack's still fresh here and a nice addition.

Day 16 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Top 3 Classic Series Stories

I can sense this one is going to hurt.  I'm going to have to omit stories I love....

After a quick look over the list to make sure I hadn't forgotten any I'm left with 17 contenders.  Two of which are definites.  Now to sift through the other 15.  I'm left with 3 possibles.

The nearly there's would be The Daleks, I love this story.  The Thals, Skaro, the metal city all combine to give us a new villain in a great environment.  Dalek Invasion of Earth, I love the threat to Earth, the doublcrossing and the madness of the Dalek's plan.  The Horror of Fang Rock, a Gothic tale, the characters trapped in a lighthouse, a sci-fi twist and Tom Baker, excellent stuff.  The Five Doctors, for all its many faults this is a memory of my childhood I'm very fond of and still enjoy.  The Sea Devils, Iconic imagery, The Master and UNIT.  The Time Meddler, a look at other Time Lords and one with a mischievous streak.  The Sontaran Experiment, a nice snappy tale and my favourite Sontaran story by a whisker.  The Mark of the Rani, don't laugh, I haven't seen this since it aired but remember being glued to the screen.  I loved the setting and the spookiness.The Invasion, earth under peril, more iconic imagery and Troughton.  Terror of the Zygons, I loved all the characters in this and wondering who was real and who wasn't.  Though the Skarasen didn't work too well on screen I love it when DW 'explains' things.  The War Machines, my favourite London Skyline feature and a sinister computer villain.  I can forgive it the realisation of the actual War Machines.  Full Circle, I loved this story as a kid.  The prejudice led exclusions and how it actually turned Full Circle.  Not too subtle but it worked.

Now the two that missed it by a whisker.  The Stones of Blood, another gothicy, dark tale with a sci-fi angle. It also has Romana I, she left too soon.  The Daemons, I'm becoming a bit predictable here aren't I?  I can't help it if my two favourite genres are spooky and sci-fi!  Doctor Who mixes the two better than anyone else.  The Daemons gave us Bok, a White Witch and the Master as a vicar.  It also enforced my belief that barrows, tunuli, etc are dangerous places.

Drumroll please.  My three favourites are Genesis of the Daleks, a great story leading up to the scenes that everyone remembers.  It has Time Lord fiddling, something I always liked.  It's a story with my favourite Doctor as well as Harry and Sarah Jane.  The scenes of war torn Skaro spook me out. Normally origin stories told after something is ingrained in our minds fall very flat.  This one doesn't.  It gives us a believable tale, told well.  Do these uniforms remind you of anything?

Tomb of the Cybermen, I've mentioned this before in the challenge.  I love it through its faults. Troughton, Hines, Cybermats and 'that scene'.  It feels deliciously dark too.

Pyramids of Mars is probably my all-time favourite.  Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane.  Egyptian mummies roaming rural England, a madman who owns a country pile.  Mr Bronson!!!  The question you have to ask where one tells the truth and the other lies.  This is one of the first VHS tapes of DW I bought as a youngster.  That probably helped seal it as my favourite but I stand by it's one of the best.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 15 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Recurring Character

My Favourite Recurring Character

I suppose Wifred Mott would garner a lot of votes here.  I've never been a fan of Bernard Cribbins but I do think this is by far the best I've seen him on screen.  he's far from a favourite of mine though.  Wilfred is the best of the New Who companion's family members by far.  I am not a fan of the 'family' characters so none of those make the cut.

I loved the Meddling Monk character but as I am not lucky enough to have seen his appearance in Dalek's Masterplan I feel he isn't recurring enough.  I like the Rani, female villains are lacking, but she hasn't been given the right stories, yet....  I liked the disruption captain Jack brought in his early appearances but he's just a touch too Lord Flashheart.

Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton are special.  I have a fondness for them.  They may give you a clue to where I'm ultimately headed...   It's a no-brainer for me really.  The obvious favourite of mine is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.  A nice settling presence.  Sometimes written well, sometimes not.  My fondness makes me forgive his pompousness and his over-eager trigger finger.  I sympathis a lot for him having to deal with the Third Doctor's superior attitude.  It's nice when the Brig' appears.  He's a Doctor Who stalwart :-)

My Least Favourite Recurring Character

This is a no-contest piece.  Alpha f'ing Centauri.  Squeak off you annoying delegate.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 14 - Doctor Who Challenge

The Best/Worst Cliffhanger Endings

The Best Cliffhanger Ending

For me there's only one real contender for the best and that's the end of The Tenth Planet. It ushers in a whole new concept and leaves the audience wondering for a week.  With no sodding preview to spoil it!  Only for Cole Hawlings to appear ;-) Though I was very worried throughout The Stones of Blood.  The lovely Romana was left hanging at the end of every episode. I still wish we'd had more Mary Tamm :-(

The Worst Cliffhanger Ending

I'll have to agree with something I read on a forum once, here.  Every Dalek appearance at the end of episode one.  Where the fact that Dalek was in the title made it very unsurprising.  The one below was a goodie though.  people didn't know what the Daleks were when it was shown.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 13 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Black & White Story

Ha!  We've got one here I can answer :-)

My Favourite Black & White Story

Now there's a lot of contenders here.  Both of the Dalek stories that I'd seen as Cushing films are good.  Especially Invasion of Earth.  Scenes of England in times of sci-fi crisis always grab me.  I loved The Chase, even it's terribly corny parts.  The War machines gets a thumbs up for the same reasons as Dalek Invasion of Earth.  Plus, it has the Post Office Tower, oh yes!  The Aztecs was a great story.  It gave us different aspects to nearly all the TARDIS crew except Susan really.  The Time Meddler was excellent.  Even though Steven was bloody irritating in it..  There's nowhere near enough Troughton around but my favourite on screen adventures would have to be The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Invasion.  Once again London's suffering.

Now the hard part, choosing just one of the above....  I think I'm going to have to go with Tomb of the Cybermen.  Yes it's aged somewhat and would never be made as it is nowadays.  I look past that though.  It has my favourite recurring monsters.  Portrayed very scarily and with the wonderfully spooky 'breaking out' scene.  Don't forget the Cybermats!  I saw this long afer it has been discovered and the fuss around it dismissed as hype.  It still grabbed me though and is one of the few stories I actually own on DVD.

My Least Favourite Black & White Story

This is a little harder.  There are plenty of stories that are sub-par in a few places but my fondness for the series makes me feel cruel sticking one up here for ridicule.  I have just watched The Ark and it felt a bit wrong in a few places.  I liked the idea of the story but feel it lacks a little in the telling.  Plus it has two of my least favourite companions.  Steven and Dodo.  They got it the black mark that got it here, blame them!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 12 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Composer

I have never really noticed the music in Doctor Who.  Let alone the composition of it.  Once again this challenge is hindered by my lack of observation as I tramp through DW.  Maybe credit should be given 'cos the musical accompaniment is that good I don't notice it?

Well I'll just leave you eith this video of the first time I ever noticed the music on screen in anything.  And what a way to bring it to my attention.

But before I leave, just to let you know someone else has joined the DW Challenge.  The Frankly Mr Shankly Blog, which can be found here

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 11 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Opening Titles

Now this one required research.  Luckily I found this handy site.  I'm not sure if I have a favourite exactly.  I love the theme tune in most of it's forms.  The adding of too many extra bits as it goes along I could probably do without.

The original is still pretty great.  It sounds creepy and mysterious but quite upbeat and I love the light effect at the beginning.

The first Pertwee one added the necessary colour but couldn't better the original for me.

I like the lights at the beginning of the 2nd Pertwee version.  Puts some sense of travelling into it.

Yeah the Time Tunnel effects for Baker were good and stuck in my mind.  But that's probably due to what I had on VHS as a kid.  I like that one but I'm beginning to think none of them are exactly exciting me.  Has the theme, in all it's forms, become background noise because I'm so used to it.  Hearing any of them makes me smile in anticipation but not because it's a particular theme but because of what will follow.

Now we get to 1980 and this is where it starts getting a little iffy for me.  This must have beenthe first theme I heard but I don't like the level of the dn, dn, dn bits.  They're a little too loud.  Mind you it's always been the swishes and the wooo-oo bits that are my favourite (God, I really need to get out more!)

Colin Baker's time seemed to make it generally more flashy.  Doesn't really bother me either way.

McCoy's theme was yet more modern.  With CGI! apparently.  It remonds me a little of the DS9 credits, don't shout it just popped into my head.  As it goes on it just doesn't feel like DW to me.  (With statements like that maybe I am a real DW fan after all.)

Yeah you guessed it I don't like the 1996 one.  they tried to take it don the Star Trek/Wars route and that just isn't for me.

2005 gave us back our show.  The titles seem to herald what is to come.  It's what we know but different and much more hectically rapid.

Right now we're travelling through a stormy time tunnel into a fiery one.  Is that telling us something?

So, I'm surprised to say I'll take the original as my favourite.  With Least favourite going to the TV movie alongside a special mention for the McCoy version.

Here is a YouTube video of all the themes.  Go on, what better way could you think of to spend  the next 8 minutes?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 10 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Script Editor

I'll be open here.  I have no idea what a script editor actually does....

Wikipedia states  "script editor is a member of the production team of scripted television programmes, usually dramas and comedies. The script editor has many responsibilities including finding new script writers, developing storyline and series ideas with writers, ensuring that scripts are suitable for production. The script editor will work closely with the writer at each draft of their script, giving the writer feedback on the quality of their work, suggesting improvements that can be made whilst also ensuring that practical issues like show continuity and correct running time are adhered to. Unlike the writers, script editors will usually be full-time members of the production team, working closely with the producer."

So, how am I supposed to know what a script editor is given to 'edit'?  It seems that if a story's bad both the Script Editor and the Writer are to blame.  If it's good we don't know if he just passed it as suitable.  He can only get credit if everything goes superbly well.  Any faults at all in scripts and he's for the block.  Not my ideal position of work.

A look through Wikipedia's list of Doctor Who script editors mnakes me think that Writer/Script Editor/Producer were pretty interchangable.  Leading me to believe they all lived happily togther in their own TARDIS with similar skills.  I was surprised to learn Terrance Dicks was the longest on the job and I thought he was a writer only.

I'll leave you with this I found whilst browsing YouTube

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 9 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Producer

I don't know much about the art of producing.  When I watched DW as a child I didn't even know such a role existed.  I can't say until New Who I've ever considered 'production style'.  Does one person really hold that much sway over a production?  Does their style become more or as apparent as the writer's or the director's.  I'm not qualified to judge.  I fall back on the old 'I just enjoy watching it guv' excuse.  I've heard people's opinions on John Nathan Turner but I'd be hard pressed to name another Classic series producer.  I think that that is a good thing.  A producer's name being such a big deal to the show seems a little showy and unnecessary.  I have to give Russell T Davies credit for getting the show back on the screen.  Even if I am a little tetchy about the Rose Tyler Show ;-)

For sheer sentimentality's sake I'd name Verity Lambert as favourite if I had to.  A female producer in the 1960's who enabled my favourite show to begin existence.  That would be enough on its own.  The fact that she comes across as such a lovely woman in all the DVD extras is a big plus point too.  As I say though if you asked me to describe her production style I'd just stare back at you looking a little bit thick.  Oh, and the fact that she was responsible for my guilty pleasure Eldorado makes me love her even more ;-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 8 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Director

It's a good job I don't claim to be a super-fan.  I've never really noticed the directing in Doctor Who.  I'm not the most technically observant of people.

So I'll leave you with this set of clips picked out by people more observant than myself.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book 44 of the 50 Book Challenge

Hostage to History by Christopher Hitchins,  173 pages

Started June 18th, finished June 22nd.

After holidaying in Cyprus I'd heard a few different views on the partition of Cyprus and its causes.  As I'd only been to the Southern part of Cyprus this mainly went along the lines that the Turks suddenly invaded and took the island's wealth.  When discussing this back home it became clear that there was far more to the story than that.  Hence the search for an unbiased book on the subject.  This was no easy job.

First of all I read Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Gerald Durrell.  This gives a good look at Cyprus towards the end of British rule but finishes long before the Turkish invasion.  Rooting around various online booksellers brought me no fruits.  Nothing looked at the lead up to the invasion.  Then, searching for something else entirely, this book popped up.  It seemed to tick all the boxes.  So I oredered it.

The book was first written in 1984, 10 years after the invasion.  It has been updated more than once, the final update in 1997.  Unfortunately this was prior to the Republic of Cyprus being accepted into the EU.  It would be nice to see if that has caused any shifting in policies.  From my untrained eyes I can't see any.

It seems to be an unbiased, well researched look at Cypriot history from the time it was leased, by the Ottoman Empire, to Britain in 1878.  It describes the changes that had gone on throughout this period until 1974.  Filling in enormous gaps in my knowledge. I won't go on and on with my views here but it does make it blatantly clear that 'Turkish and Greek Cypriots were unhappy living together' is an outright distortion of the truth.  Without Greece,  the US and Turkey fiddling in things they had no reason to, whilst the British stood back and let their responsibilities slide Cyprus could have been a happy, strong independent state for the first time in thousands of years.

If you do go to Cyprus take the propaganda with a little touch of salt.  No one group came out of the book with a halo but it seems the people who actually lived on the island suffered greatly because no-one allow them the democracy they wanted.  Mr Kissinger comes out of this book very badly.  I doubt whether EU membership will make much of a difference unless Turkey get any closer to joining.  Visiting the 'Green Line' it isn't nice to see people still hurting because they can't return home.  The UN keeps the peace but could it not have prevented the problem in the first place?

4 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 44, pages - 12,882

Next - How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Day 7 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Writer

Now this is where it starts getting tough for me.  My knowledge in the 'not totally obvious' fields of Dr Who is sparse.

So I'll have to give favourite writer jointly to Terry Nation and Gerry Davis for creating the Daleks and the Cybermen.  In an 'Inside Mary's Head Sci-Fi Writer's Battle' Nation would just have to sneak a win.  Due to the fact he also created Survivors, another favourite of mine.  As well as Blake's 7, which though I enjoy I don't love.

I can't give you a least favourite so I'll leave you with this YouTube montage which proves why to struggle is futile

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bernard Sumner Interview at the Manchester International Festival

Right now in sunny Manchester the Manchester International Festival is happening.  The city is abuzz with with art happenings.  Albert Square has a giant tepee dominating it, enclosing a bar area.  Next to that is the Festival Pavilion, a tent theatre really. There is a glass structure serving drinks with a nice roof terrace,  Picnic tables and deckchairs are filling the rest of the available space.

Damon Albarn has produced an English Opera, Dr Dee for the festival, Victoria Wood a musical.  Bjork & Snoop are both playing.  Stephen Moffatt has collaborated with Punchdrunk to put on the Doctor Who Event Crash of the Elysium.  Unfortunately you're not allowed in without a child so I'll be missing that one.

The one thing I was most interested in was Dave Haslam's first True Faith event, Close Up faeaturing Bernard Sumner.  Basically Haslam interviewing Sumner in front of an audience.  We've all heard Peter Hook regurgitating his Factory?New Order/Joy Division/I funded the Hacienda stories.  In manchester over the last few years it's been hard to dodge the memories and memorabilia.  Throughout this though Bernard Sumner has remained near silent.  I've wondered what he would have to say about those times.

Dave Haslam was obviously a Hacienda DJ but he also wrote a very good book about Manchester and its musical history, Manchester, England.  The perfect candidiate for interviewer.   We luckily managed to get tickets on the front row.  A little further to the side than I would have liked but not bad for a sold out event.

Bernard was good to listen to but I don't think he's an interviewer's dream.  He does tend to meander from the original point somewhat.    Haslam did a good job of letting him flow but getting it back to the question when needed.  The Peter Hook question was raised early on.  I don't think anyone there was surprised to hear they were no longer buddies.  Sumner didn't lower himself to slagging him off but he let it be clear feelings were mutual.  He made a good point about what the Factory and Hacienda name stood for in the 80's/early 90's and how that was definitely no longer what current ventures stood for.

It was inevitable that we would be hearing about Ian Curtis.  The sad story was told from the interviewees point clearly.  It was nice to hear his thoughts on it but I don't think there's much that can be added to that any more.

He said that both Control and 24Hr Party People were pretty accurate in their own way which was nice to know.  He told of us working with Rob Gretton, Martin Hamnett and Tony Wilson.  I never tire of those stories.  Sumner says that you should be proud of the past, take from it what you can but always be looking forward and creating.  A pretty good mindset for an artist to have.  He has a new band Bad Lieutenant.  Pronounced the American way and named after the film.

When asked about appearing on Daytime TV to promote, yet another, New Order compilations he said he did it for the record company.  Obviously record companies make a lot of money from material they already own with no real expenditure.  He told us that, these days, record companies are nothing like the lore of old.  They are not the Devil's Dens people assume.  And that if the record companies make no money they will have no money to invest in new bands.  Who else will support the new bands then?  A good point well made.

From someone who was a pretty prominent Factory Records artist it seems he still holds those ideas to heart.  He came across as a nice bloke who just enjoys creating music.  I hope Bad Lietenant get a bigger profile or at least a good length of life.  As Bernard told us he preferred being relatively popular for a long length of time to burning too brightly for a short amount of time.

For £5 a ticket this was a unique and bloody interesting event.  Bargain!

Day 6 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Series

Favourite Series

With a long look at the Wikipedia page, I'm going for season 13.  Terror of the Zygons is a big favourite.  Planet of Evil was an interesting story I enjoyed.  Pyramids of Mars is just wonderful, very wonderful.  The Android Invasion was nice and spooky.  The Brain of Morbius was a good Frankenstein story.  Seeds of Doom, well I always like killer plant stories.

Having the fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane is never going to go against it either.

Least Favourite Series

I'd have to go for Series 3 of New Who.  Smith and Jones wasn't a bad tale but the straw p'd me off.  The Jidoon never really worked for me either.  I could never buy into The Shakespeare Code but I did find it fun. I didn't dislike Gridlock really but it did seem a bit heavy on the environmental warning.   The less I have to think about Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks the better.  The Lazarus Experiment would have been good without the family stuff and it being so much set up, Gatiss is always good.  I can't remember 42 :-S  Human Nature and Family of Blood were the stand outs in this series, very good.  Blink was a great horror tale but it wasn't Doctor Who.  Utopia led me to expect a great finale, then we got The Sound of Drums and Last of the Timelords.  Too much Simm and a story I never fully got or enjoyed.  Martha was never written as strong enough.  She was wimpily simpering after the Doctor.  With hindsight Tennant is far from my favourite Doctor too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 5 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite/Least Favourite Master

Favourite Master

This would have to be the original and the smoothest, Mr Delgado.  I doubt I'm in a minority here.  He just played it so well.  He was a great foil for Pertwee and my (only) favourite thing about Jo Grant was the Master's seeming fascination with her.  He was briliant in the Sea Devils and although I'm not sure he was necessary in The Daemons I enjoy him in it.

I haven't really got an opinion on the deformed, monster Master.  Anthony Ainley was ok but I think it wasn't the best idea to have him mimic Delgado's look and performance.  They should have given him a fresh start.

You just can't knock Derek Jacobi can you?  But he wasn't really playing The Master if he didn't realise who he actually was.  John Simm's portrayal I find quite painful at times.  The Jack in a Box, poor man's Joker approach isn't for me.  I'm not a fan of Simm's style anyway so that's no surprise really.

Which leaves us with.....

Least Favourite Master

Obviously, Eric Roberts.  I've seen him play bad in other things where he was much more convincing.  he never had a chance though, seeing as he was in that pile of tosh.  A hammy portrayal of that script was never gonna be acceptable.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 4 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite / Least Favourite Monster

Favourite Monster

After careful consideration I discovered there are quite a few favourites.  The Zygons, the Daleks, Various plant creatures, Bok is a good contender, Sea Devils/Silurians I always loved the idea of them being here before us, the Autons creeped me out especially when I noticed how much plastic I had in the house! The Vashta Nerad were creepy for the same reason, hard to avoid shadows.

Overall winner though is The Cybermen for me.  They are a great example of one of sci-fi's most popular worries.  What happens when you improve man and his ability to reason?  W"hen you prevent him from decaying and letting emotions lead to mistakes?

I love how they have evolved as time has gone on.  Always as creepy as the last version but getting a little more 'modern' each time.  I like Doctor Who's ability to evolve.  The Cybermen are a good example of this.  

Cybermen are deliciously creepy.  They just keep on and on, are very hard to 'kill', that relentlessness....  Though they sometimes seem to have the odd revenge/anger emotion creeping in which kinda defeats the purpose I'm still fond of them.  

They have provided the basis for the first regeneration.  Not a small feat in DW history!  They were responsible for ridding screens of Adric, some people believe that should be held up in their defence if they ever end up being tried for their crimes ;-)   They may not always have great stories every time but I always enjoy seeing them on screen.  I also have a soft spot for the Cybermats.  Metal men with metal pets how sci-fi cool is that?  I'm also fond of the fact that these fearsome monsters are kinda camp.  Though I don't think this was intended.

They star in three of my favourite stories, but I'm sure that will be looked into further down this challenge.

I'm not keen on the Cybus Industries back story though.  I'm a Mondas girl myself.

Least Favourite Monster

This is a bit harder.  I'm not usually a huge hater of monsters.  If they're poor it's usually down to budget constraints rather than writing.  There are a few that bugged me though.  The Slitheen were awful, a monster with a fart joke, please.  The Cat People never made sense to me at all.  It seemed like an excuse to stick a cat's head on a human body.  I know the science is suspect an awful lot but give me a break here.

Winner would have to be Human Dalek.  I hated this whole double parter.  They had 1930's New York to work with.  One of the biggest and best icons of Art Deco as a setting and they gave us Pig Slaves?  That was bad enough but then again we stick the head of something onto a body it doesn't belong to and await people's terror.  After the guffaws had dissipated I began to wonder if this was the end of my watching the show.  Luckily Human Dalek hasn't been back since.  If someone can lend me a TARDIS I will do a "Genesis of the Human Dalek", but this time the wires will touch.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 3 - Doctor Who Challenge

My Favourite / Least Favourite Villain

Favourite Villain

Now, I'm taking this to mean a single entity that isn't a 'monster'.  I'm going to have to choose Sutekh.  It's one of my favourite stories and I love it when they explain 'history' in Doctor Who.  I am now fully versed in Egyptian lore and its origins ;-)  He is one of the villains I'd like to see return in New Who.  He's pretty much your classic raging megalomaniac but with that Egyptian twist.

Least Favourite Villain

This is a little harder.  There are plenty that don't make the mark in various ways.  The one I found the most insulting to the audience's intelligence though was Abzorbaloff.  There's a reason 8 year old kids don't write prime time tv shows.  Great idea to have the chance for a fan to write a villain.  If this was the winner though how bad were the rest?  The stunt casting didn't help either.  No wonder it was a Doctor-lite story.  I wouldn't have been in it much if I was Tennant either.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Book 43 of the 50 Book Challenge

The Wicked Wit of Winstone Churchill by Dominique Enright, 155 pages

Started May 25th, finished June 21st.

I picked this up at the wonderful Churchill War Rooms museum in London.  It's a perfect titbit book.

Churchill was very quick witted and not only could he direct the wit himself he was a master of the riposte.  This book is a collection of his quips, ripostes and witticisms.  Gathered together in chapters.  What surprised me was how much they could find to put into the book.  Churchill's speech seems to have been very well documented.  I suppose meeting the man himself would ensure it got a passage or two in your diary.

I think my favourite has to be a reply to Nancy Astor.

Nancy Astor "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee."

Churchill "Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."

I doubt Churchill was always the easiest person to get along with.  I'd bet he was damn entertaining company a lot of the time though :-)

4 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 43, Pages -12, 709

Next - Hostage to History by Christopher Hitchins