Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Thursday, May 31, 2007

And they say, why, why? Tell 'em that it's Human Nature...

There seem to be an inordinate amount of things requiring my attention at present. In a few weeks’ time I’m supposed to have produced a website as the final assessment for my night class. A complex task and one which I’ve barely got started! I’m finding Flash and some of the other aspects rather tricky to grasp, so some further revision/reading up is necessary…Then in a couple of weeks I start doing some extra work for an examination board which will keep me snowed under for a good few weeks. Plus we have Gustavo’s cousin staying with us at the moment and it doesn’t do to be sat at the computer whilst she’s there, being anti-social. Some trips and outings are scheduled (she’s never been to the UK before!) Oh yeah and I also have a full time job to keep me occupied during the day! So everything’s kind of happening at once! How WILL I fit it all in? (A question George Michael also probably pondered on numerous occasions).

I guess it would help if I didn’t spend so much time writing very long blog posts. But when it’s on a subject that inspires me I find it too damn hard to resist. We all have our passions. Take for instance, my last marathon “Dallas” post.

But time, as that bald-headed fella from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” once said, is fleeting.

Hence I will attempt to keep this post on the latest episode of “Dr Who” a little bit…shorter. Already I can picture all of you collapsing into fits of laughter at the audacity of this statement. I kid you not, my fellow readers. Standby for a new, more accessible format…

Episode: Human Nature (first of a two part story)

Writer: Paul Cornell

Plot: The Dr and Martha, on the run from a group of aliens known as the Family of Blood, are hiding out in early 1900s England. In order to avoid detection, the Dr has literally rewritten his own biology to become a human being, his Time Lord essence now contained within a small pocket watch. On Earth, the Dr and Martha take up positions of employment within a boys’ public school – the Dr as John Smith, a schoolmaster and Martha as his personal maid. Whilst at the school the Dr meets Nurse Joan Redfern with whom he starts to form a relationship, much to Martha’s dismay. And the aliens the Dr was hoping to evade soon arrive…


Excellently told /portrayed, emotive and well-paced! Lots of time was devoted to developing the characters and relationships – especially the Dr and Joan – before the aliens actually arrived, giving the opportunity for events to unfold at a decent pace. This episode also felt much more “adult” and mature than some of the other more obviously kiddie-focused episodes, like one of those period dramas that the Beeb excel in producing. Paul Cornell is a class act (WHY isn’t he writing for the next season?) The aliens were both creepy and fascinating (are they without substance? What is their reason for wanting the blood of a Time Lord? I hope all is revealed…) There was a real feeling of impending doom and uncertainty when the green lights were seen in the sky and Baines enters the spaceship for the first time - akin to HG Wells’ “War of the Worlds” when the Martians land on the common. And I liked the bits with the Dr’s journal too, a great blast from the past that was also relevant to his “forgotten” existence. Oh and great cliffhanger!


Convincing period recreation with great locations – a lovely old country house as the school, excellent interiors and scenes in the local village/hall too. Great costumes – the cast all looked very authentic, especially the school boys in their jackets and ties. And the attitudes and behaviour that the characters exhibited were in keeping with the time, some of which were positively outrageous by 2007 standards e.g. Hutchinson’s comment to Martha as she scrubs the floor: “With hands like those, how can you tell when something’s clean”? Compounded by Jenny’s comment: “Just think in a few years time, boys like that might be running the country”. What a nasty thought.

Guest cast/supporting characters: An excellent cast list that played their roles to perfection.

Jessica Hynes was very good as Joan, slightly prim and proper but a decent, pleasant sort, whilst projecting an air of sadness and loneliness too.

Harry Lloyd as Jeremy Baines was a revelation – snotty, condescending and arrogant – as upper class youths of that day and age undoubtedly were – and even more unpleasant once possessed by the aliens. He was just right for the role (and who would have guessed that he was recently in "Robin Hood" – he looked totally different in that, the sign of a versatile actor…)

Thomas Sangster as Tim Latimer was damn good too for an actor so young, coming over as older and wiser than his actual years. He was the one who picked up the Dr’s watch and became privy to the Time Lord’s past…And what’s going on with Tim? He seems almost psychic e.g. his “flash forward” to when he and Hutchinson are fighting on the front line and killed. Mmmm. Is there more to this boy than meets the eye?

I also liked Jenny, Martha’s fellow workmate, pal and drinking partner, who started off wholesome and cuddly and then turned nasty and sarcastic when possessed by the aliens. Her northern accent seemed to vanish though which was a bit odd.

Even the little girl with the balloon was creepy (a word I seem to like) - shades of the girl from “Remembrance of the Daleks”? I loved the bit when she, the possessed farmer fellow and Baines all tilted their heads to sniff out the Time Lord...

Regular cast:

Very interesting to see David Tennant bringing a totally different interpretation to the part of the Dr – literally a new man. He played the part of the refined schoolmaster well. And proved that even when human you can still be a hero e.g. his ingenious use of a cricket ball to stop a woman with a pram from being crushed by a falling piano – kind of reminded me of “Ker-plunk” – great scene. And did anyone get the in-joke/reference to his “parents” Sidney and Verity? Ha ha.

As for Martha, the pining over the Dr thing is definitely getting tiresome and a fair element of this story was focused on her frustration when the Doc gets together with Joan. But given the constraints on Martha’s character she was still pretty good in this episode, and like the Dr given a new dimension, reduced to playing the role of a servant and having to endure put downs from stuck-up school kids. I liked her relationship with Jenny although was she maybe just a bit too quick to twig that she’d become an alien? And the scenes when Martha goes back to the TARDIS worked really well – I loved the juxtaposition of then and now - with the Dr saying that he had to stop being a Time Lord and screaming in pain as the chameleon arc scrambles his brains – and jumping back to now with Martha alone in the TARDIS, looking wistful: “I wish you’d come back”. Okay let’s cut Ms Jones a bit of slack, it’s not easy being abandoned and of course she has to face the prospect of being permanently stranded in 1913!

Dialogue: I’ve already quoted a few choice bits. And there was more e.g. the conversations between the Dr and Martha:

The Dr/John Smith: Last night I dreamt I was this traveller and you were my companion.

Martha: A teacher and a housemaid, sir, it’s not possible!

Special / visual effects:

The alien spacecraft looked good – the interior was quite organic and reminded me of the Zygons. There was a good sense of anticipation before Baines "broke in" and the green beams sweeping over the darkness of the countryside looked menacing and weird. Actually this was kind of reminiscent of “The Tripods” as well. The much hyped scarecrows were...scary, probably more so if you’re a kiddie though. The alien family’s guns looked rather plastic however, like something out of a toy shop. And was it wise for them to go around brandishing them so obviously and disintegrating people? Surely they’d get caught? And I loved the trippy flashbacks to past monsters/foes - Daleks, Cybermen, Ood etc - when Tim opened the watch – reminiscent of the JNT era but not superfluous as these bits were actually crucial in telling Tim about the Time Lord and his background…

All in all a superb, maturely handled episode and the best Dr Who story in absolutely yonks. I just hope Part Two delivers on the promise.

There. Mmm. Not that concise really, was I? Well, I still reckon it's shorter than some of my other reviews and it didn’t take me half as much time to write it...If you did a word count I bet it would be shorter!! Honest!!

Oh dear. Methinks the Cheeser doth protest too much...


  • At 4:44 am , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    You asked why Paul isn't writing for the next season of "Doctor Who"? The answer is because he's just received a contract to write the penultimate episode of the second series of "Primeval" for the opposition! Interestingly, he's asked that he be allowed to write a monster-of-the-week episode without any emotional encumbrances!!

    I got the in-joke! Maybe the Doctor's uncle was called Donald, as in Wilson!! Did you notice one of the boys was called Pemberton? As in Victor, who wrote "Fury from the Deep" and, like Mark Gatiss, is one of a select number of writers to have also acted in the show!!!

  • At 7:37 am , Blogger Steve said...

    Totally agree with your synopsis. I thought this episode raised the bar a lot higher - let's hope they follow through on part 2! I thought the Bains character was superb and was shocked when I found out that the actor was from Robin Hood... he wasn't given a chance to shine in the latter at all. Jessica Hynes was excellent: bold, forward, lonely and vulnerable all at the same time: a tall order to pull off!

  • At 1:49 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Tim - Oh! "Primeval" be damned, Mr Cornell should be writing for the best show in the universe! Although RTD has to some extent stepped aside to make way for new talent, I still think that there aren't enough writers of Paul C's calibre working on the show. Not fair!

    I missed the reference to the boy called Pemberton!

    Steve - Yep it was a great episode and I hope Part 2 ties up the loose ends nicely! Interestingly, the trailer for next week we see shots of the Dr and Joan with CHILDREN which mystifies me - surely time doesn't speed up that much?!? The defeat of the alien menace is, erm, rather more pressing I'd say. Look forward to seeing how they tackle that one! And oh my goodness, the Dr as Daddy?! The mind boggleth!

    Yep Baines was a great character. I never watched Robin Hood, but from reviews it didn't sound so great so I'm sure your comment is accurate.

    And I hope it doesn't end TOO unhappily for Jessica H aka Joan. Perhaps her and Martha will have a bitchfight over the Dr? One for male fantasies there....


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