Wednesday, April 01, 2009


New Doctor Who Easter Trailer

Well, just before the latest attack of the alien space lizards (as Millennium calls The Apprentices), BBC1 has premiered a minute-long trailer for Easter Saturday’s Doctor Who special, Planet of the Dead. Sounds, er, jolly, but looks striking… More after the next paragraph for readers preternaturally wary of spoilers. So, good news – new Doctor Who in ten days! Woo hoo! Bad news – Richard and I will be out of town at a family do. Let’s just hope our new recording technology is delivered by then… And while I’m about it, why no Doctor Who Easter Eggs this year?

Tragic Loss of Doctor Who Easter Eggs Shocker

For the last three years, I’ve been thrilled to see Daleks, TARDISes and others on the shelves (even though they can’t beat my childhood’s unforgettable Suchards “Peter Davison Spunking Fire” Easter Egg), but looking around now – nothing. Maybe the sad collapse of Woollies’ has cut the ranges that went into the supermarkets, but what about the Marks and Spencer versions? Yet they’ve got room on the shelf for bloody Top Gear. Grr. So I’ll just have to select Easter Eggs by the chocolate rather than the packaging, and that’s surely not the point at all.

“Something is coming. Riding on the wind. They devour!”

But back to that trailer for the day before Easter. Planet of the Dead will be the 200th* Doctor Who story, and the trailer promises:
After Midnight last year and one or two old stories, my advice to the Doctor would be – don’t go by bus (better than a bastard bike, though. Scroll down). If you want to see the trailer, anyway, the lovely Will has it on display; it appears to be showing on the BBC HD Preview in the daytime, too. Ooh. Must remember that tomorrow.

Coming through the letterbox today, incidentally, was the rather fab new issue of Doctor Who Magazine, where you can take a peek at that bus on the cover and read all about Planet of the Dead. Well, I say “all”. It’s probably not massively spoilerish, but I don’t actually know – I, too, am wary enough of spoilers that I never read their previews. You’ll notice, incidentally, that the bus is number 200.

*Ah, those “200” stories. Everyone reckons them differently – the 204th, by my count – but apparently the ‘official’ 200th is now this one. 53 stories ago, in 1987, we had the then official 150th. Anyway, the important thing isn’t the iffy numbering, but that DWM this time gives you the exciting opportunity to send off your scores for every single one of them, to find which stories people love, and which ones they don’t. Look, don’t scoff – you know I’m going to do it…

In the run-up to Matt Smith becoming the Doctor next year, DWM this issue starts a new series profiling each of the first ten Doctors. This one’s on William Hartnell, of course, and it’s rather good (well, I always love reading about the original and best); informative and punchy for brand new fans and oldies alike, and opening with an introductory paragraph that could happily have been printed in, say, The Doctor Who Monster Book, where I first learnt about Billy back in the mid-’70s. Though its mini-article nuggets include choice fluffed lines the wildly varying names given to some stories – and the Doctor – it strikes me that there are two key elements missing. New fans, sadly, really ought to be warned that not all of the published list of Billy’s stories still exist, except on audio… And, other than relating how he regenerated in his final story, there’s really nothing that gives a taste of the stories themselves. In short, the most important thing missing is why Billy is brilliant, whether it’s by picking stories (perhaps unwise, given the polling that’s just opened in the same issue) or simply singling out a few great scenes or moments. If you’re going to do bluffers’ guides for each Doctor, the very first thing you should put over is them at their best.

On top of that, there’s a superb interview with one of Doctor Who’s most brilliant – and most Marmite – script editors, Mr Jesus H Bidmead, who was in effect the Russell T Davies of 1980-1 and who’s not shy of sharing his views. The regular Time Team are also great fun reviewing 1988’s The Happiness Patrol and, yay! this time they’ve printed one of my comments, and on a story I love, too. Too late for a morning April Fool, Richard brilliantly suggested we should put out the rumour that the TARDIS – which is painted pink in the story – is to leave a CGI swirl of disintegrating pink and blue paint when it dematerialises in the DVD release. I quite like the idea.

Why Some Cyclists Are Selfish, Dangerous Bastards

The April Fool that went through my head this morning, though, was more of a traffic patrol one; out to meet friends yesterday in Greenwich, I once again walked back through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and was nearly hit by all those bastard cyclists who, faced with all the signs and even paint across the floor saying “NO CYCLING,” glide at great speed down a curving tunnel with very limited visibility and – by definition – lots of pedestrians, clinging to the side of their bike with one foot perched on a pedal, so they can deny they’re “cycling”. Because being under far less control of your bike than usual is a really great way not to injure the people you’re careering stupidly into and making dive out of the way. What utter, stupid, selfish bastards. Travelling in such a manner appeals only to the homicidal side of my nature. If only some sort of automated spikes could shoot out from the tunnel wall and straight into their wheeling spokes. Because, if they’re not cycling, that can’t knock them off their bikes.

Where was I? Oh yes, April Fools. Well, it ran through my still mildly misanthropic head this morning that, despite my usual dislike of intrusive spying cameras and ‘naming and shaming,’ I could turn my blog into a series of photos of cyclists from the Greenwich Foot Tunnel – not every one of them, but most – endangering people with captions like, ‘This Person Is A Bastard. If You See Them On Their Bikes, Stick A Brolly In Their Spokes and Give Them An Accident Before They Seriously Injure Someone Else, The Bastard’. At that point, I realised this may have been less of an April Fool than a genuine unleashing of my inner Daily Hate Mail. There are signs up in the tunnel saying “No Photography,” too – it’s political correctness gone mad. At this point, before the Happiness Patrol come to arrest me for being grumpy, I notice Charlie Brooker’s just started on BBC4. I’ll watch him, instead, because he’s always a happy-go-lucky cheery chap.

PS: Millennium has chastised me, being an innocent young elephant, for the superfluity of “bad words”. Sorry, readers, and I’ll see tomorrow if my local library’s banned my blog again.

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