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

Monday, April 28, 2008

April Update

Hello!! Hello!! Hello!!

Saints Preserve us!!

The Cheeser is back, back, BACK!!

Well, for one of my less than regular posts, any road.

And how have we all been? I have been popping over to your respective blogs to keep an eye on things, as you might have gathered ... Trust all is hanging, as they say, well, with y'all.

As for me, all is generally okay. Firstly I'm pleased to say that I have started doing some writing, as I said I would be doing in my last post. It's slow but I'm dipping my oar in, as it were. Initial stages and plans all that and I'm keeping things under wraps for now. It has also been nice to just have some spare time back for meself to be honest.

What else do I have to report?

I've been to the gym a bit.

I've varnised the surfaces in my kitchen.

I've been relieved that at long last this bloody English weather is getting warmer (the weekend just gone was a glorious one, especially Saturday).

I've been to Hampton Court which was lurvely. Last time I went was over 20 years ago.

Life, as you can tell, is just TOO exciting.

And, moving on to the things that REALLY matter, what about Dr Who!?

I'm pleased to announce that I'm enjoying the new series rather a lot. Every story broadcast to date has been of a decent standard with no major clunkers as of yet. Although there have of course only been four episodes televised so far. My, aren't I ever the optimist. Still I can hardly believe the show is now into its Fourth Season! One again DW becomes a national institution ... and so it bloody should be! I hope it runs for another 20 years at least!

And contrary to all my previous moanings, Ms Catherine Tate has (in my view) more or less acquited herself as Donna Noble. Okay, I wouldn't class the character as a brilliant creation of writing and there have been some grating Donna-isms along the way, but in general she's been nowhere near as awful as I was feared. Rather Donna has managed to demonstrate ... thoughtfulness (gasp!) ... sensitivity (double gasp!) ... humour (triple gasp!) ... a grasp of thorny issues (quadrupal - okay let's stop this now). Etc. Probably because Ms Tate is a decent actress with good comic timing, and a nack for doing accents and facial expressions... Who would have thought it? I still wish they'd chosen a non-Earth person for a companion though and hope that they break the now very predictable mould next time round.

An authentic Roman set

The Fires of Pompei was DW's attempt at doing an Italian epic and for the most part it worked. Very handy that the Beeb were able to use the set from Rome, must have saved them a bob or two. The set designs and costumes were jolly good and the whole look of the thing was authentic (okay a wee bit CGI above...) Although actually, in spite of the fact this was meant to be "big scale", the focus was quite small i.e. on just a handful of characters.

The rock monsters were quite good. That's about all I'm going to say on that score.

I wonder if my outfit would have made the House of Howard?

Good guest cast and solid performances, in particular Peter Capaldi and Tracy Childs...didn't really like Tracy's red haired perm though. The days of long-haired sloane Lynn Howard are long gone.

Oh great gods Dr, Donna, please send me some nice underpants from TK Maximus ... It gets awfully parky in this toga ...

Their son was quite a cutey (I half-wished there'd been a sudden gust of wind to lift his toga ... Carry on up Pompei anyone?). Loved the touch with him praying to the gods of Dr and Donna at the end.

I'm snarly! I'm nasty! I'm a bit underused!

As for Phil Davis he was okay and suitably snarly but could have been better used.

Going on up to the spirit in the sky...that's where I'm gonna be...when the volcano erupts and I get melted to nothing by the fiery hot magma (original lyrics!)

However the psychic sisters, as one of my friends pointed out, did look rather like the backing singers from Dr and the Medics ...

If you don't go back and save a few people, I'll pull this bleedin' lever! And pull a bleedin' fit while I'm about it! Bleedin' 'ell!

The whole issue of should we-shouldn't we save Pompei from destruction was well handled I felt, with Donna as an appropriate moral voice - her concern for the people and appeal to the Dr to do something was touching and gave a new dimension to the character. Whilst the Doc wanted to preserve established history we were shown it wasn't always that easy. So we got a nice compromise at the end.

Some of the lines grated though, especially "TK Maximus" and the attempt to "normalise" the Romans speech didn't always work - the cockerney stall holder was just annoying. But fairly minor gripes.

And what's this about Donna having something on her back? Whilst it seems that the Dr's number might be up too (or should that be David Tennant? Leading to all those soon-to-regenerate rumours...)

Walking in a (interplanetary) Winter wonderland ... It's all real you know ...

Planet of the Oooooooooooddd! Ooooooh I liked it. And even me old blogging mate Timewarden (and did you know that he too is back, back, BACK?) did as well - blimey. It must have been a decent story to convince him! A cracking tale with proper sci-fi elements - a human base on another planet under seige, aliens going on the rampage ... A nicely bleak (there's an oxymoron if ever there was one) industrial setting with loadsa snow that didn't look too fake (lovely vista shot when the Doc and Donna stepped out of the TARDIS near the start). Liked the Ood marketing bits and the Warhol style Ood pictures. (Might have to get my own to go alongside my Divas one).

Persil balls ahoy ... And someone's tipped a whole box of Persil behind us by the looks of things ...

And darker undertones too with the story's treatise on the wrongs of slavery as presented via the Ood. It was great to see the spaghetti heads back - definitely one of the most successful of the new Who monsters, so deserving of a resurrection - and this time we got to find out more about them. I loved the Ood "song" which brought a poetry to their plight and the feel of the whole story.

No, I don't know who Edmund Blackadder is ...

Good performances from Tim "Blackadder" McInerry as Mr Halpin (his Ood transformation at the end was disgusting but arguably deserved).

I'm a gorgeous marketing person and I don't want to die!!

And the gorgeous doe-eyed Aeyesha Dharker as marketing girl Solana who also met a nasty end.

And I've just watched The Sontaran Strategem and thoroughly enjoyed it. Hoorah for the return of the two-parter! Hoorah for another Earth invasion story! (Yes I know we've had a lot of 'em, but...) And there are a few other hoorahs are in order too ...

If you ask to see Rik, Vivien or Neil one more time , I'll shoot you with my scary Sontaran shooting stick! (Oooh lovely siblilance ...)

Hoorah for the return of the potato heads! Yes after a 23 year hiatus, the mighty Sontarans are back, back, BACK! Their outfits were nicely militaristic and bulky and their faces didn't look as bad as some of the early publicity shots seemed to suggest, even if they were a bit rubbery and fake. Christopher Ryan as General Staal was great, full of swagger and typical rhetorical Sontaran warrior-talk and his (small) stature as an actor was an obvious blessing when it came to this role. I couldn't help thinking of Mike from The Young Ones though, as his voice wasn't exactly disguised or anything like that. The guy playing his sidekick, Storr, sounded even more human and not very menacing for a supposed alien warrior. Sack the voice coach!

And has anyone told the spud-heads that the Judoon nicked their uniforms? Another reason to get mad…

Oh and I loved the "Sontah" - chant! Very football holligan-ish.

The gassing everyone through car exhausts strategy was quite clever although why didn't Bernard "Wilf" Cribbins just smash the window of the car at the end?!

Colonel Mace at your service, Maam! I'm a military stereotype and I'm a bit bland!

Hoorah for the return of UNIT! They're back, back, BACK!! A proper resurrection this time after their not very proper appearance in "Aliens of London/World War Three". Here they’re obviously much more to the fore, with their own mobile HQ and led by the very English Colonel Mace who it has to be said is rather…bland. He doesn’t really possess the charisma of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, although I guess it's still early days. Why couldn’t they have brought the Brig back for a cameo anyhow?

And there was a nice jokey reference to the DW Unit stories of yore when Donna asks the Doc when he worked for them - "The 1970s. Or was it the 80s?" playing on all the past controversy about precisely WHEN the Unit stories did take place (which geeky DW fans always get sooo worked up about).

Crossroads motel can I help - sorry I mean, hello Dr! It's Martha! And I'm bringing you BACK toEarth! Back to life! Back to reality! Back to the - sniiiiiiiiip!!

Hoorah for the return of Martha! She's back, back, B - okay this is getting tiresome...But I’m pleased to say that Ms Jones appears to have improved since Season Three. Probably cos the “Dr I lurve you” strand has finally been ditched and she's now working for UNIT as a proper medical scientist. (And her Torchwood appearances most likely helped to bolster up the character as a more mature, independent personality too). Okay so Ms Agyeman still delivered some of her lines somewhat woodenly, but overall she IS better. Talking of poorly delivered lines, at least Ms A CAN get away with that when playing Martha’s “evil double” – a fun sub-plot with the potential for some good drama, although personally I think the Dr is a tad thick not to have noticed the difference in Martha’s phone manner…And now she’s engaged to Dr Tom Milligan! (Who we didn’t even get to see, how cheap…) And no Donna-Martha bitchfight either – such a shame – it could have been just like this. Or maybe not. Actually there was a bit of tension at the start when the Dr and Martha were reunited and Donna gets acquainted with the former companion, but this was dealt with sparingly and convincingly with some sharp dialogue and soon got forgotten about … just as well, really as there were other things for the story to focus on.

Luke Brattigan looking pretty in pink but frankly rather annoying ...

The only thing I didn't much care for was the annoyingly clever-clever character Luke (B)Rattigan. (Who probably solved the Rubics cube the moment he came out the womb. Except he's probably too young to know what a Rubics cube is ...) But his irritating brattishness was kind of intentional. Let's hope he gets his just deserts in Part Two ...

Anyway, this looks set to be a classic Earth invasion story provided Part Two delivers! Here’s hoping!

I almost forgot to mention David Tennant. Now into his third series as the Doc, he's really hit his stride and thankfully quite a lot of his irritating tics and mannerisms seem to have vanished. Which I'm not especially sorry about. Okay we're still getting the wide-eyed, shouty Dr sometimes but on the whole he's doing alright and is very much THE DR. *

Well, that's about it for now. Byeeeeeeeee!!

Actually I've just realised I said almost exactly the same thing about DT in a post below. Ahem!

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  • At 3:15 am , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    Three reviews for the price of one! That has to be gOod, GOod, GOOD!!! A very warm welcome back, Simon. Great to see you posting again, and on my favourite subject too!!

    Well, of the first four episodes, I've enjoyed the last two most. There does seem to be a bit of inconsistency creeping in regarding the attitude of the Doctor. He didn't want to stand next to a man with a gun, in "The Sontaran Stratagem", and yet only two weeks ago, in "The Fires of Pompeii", he was responsible for 20,000 deaths! Plus, the sonic screwdriver is wielded around as if it's a weapon these days!!

    In Ayesha Dharker, I think they have the perfect actress to reprise the role of the Rani, right under their very noses! Again, they killed off the pretty female too soon for my liking!!

    But, "Planet of the Ood" is going to be a tough one to better, this season, though I hope they do. The battle sequences near the end, in such a poetic story, as you rightly point out, were about as good as it gets and all I can say is thank God for Graeme Harper!

  • At 7:39 am , Blogger Steve said...

    Yay - you're back! I thought Phil Davies was totally wasted in the Pompeii episode but I agree with your opnion of Ms Tate - I've been very impressed. I like the fact she's intelligent and can suss things out for herself rather than be lead into things by the superior brain power of the doctor... I also think she's contributing to the calming down of Tennant's doctor too... he's dealing with a mature woman rather than a flighty twenty-something. All to the good in my view!

  • At 7:55 am , Blogger The Sagittarian said...

    Simon - hello buddy to good have you back! Our winter has started with a blast of cold wind and rain, no snow yet but we can feel it in the air tongiht..or are they song lyrics? Ah well, back to the telly... Steve, if you think the Dr can do with a mature woman - spop him in the post to me, love! We are still getting re-runs here in the lead up to a new series. Last night we saw the one where the kids at the school were being used by some ugly aliens....next week its the one with the period costumes and masks (creepy).

  • At 1:20 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Tim - Hello! Well I've not been gone THAT long and - as I've said to all of you - will still be posting from time to time!

    I guess in the case of "Fires" the Dr - in spite of his squeamishness about killing - had no choice but to let everyone die, as what happened was established history.

    True that the sonic screwdriver has become rather too much of a handy gimmick these days. I wonder if it will go the way of the original did in "The Visitation"?

    Ayesha as the Rani! Mmm. Not sure about that to be honest, attractive though the actress is!

    Graeme Harper does have a way of saving things and I like his style. Even last season's not-so-hot "42" had its poetic moments, thanks to Mr H's direction.

    Steve - Indeed. Yes Ms T is proving better than we'd hoped. I wonder if they'll kill her off at the end of the season though?

    Amanda - Aahaaa so it's getting cold over in NZ!! Ah ha ha (Master-like chuckle). So after all those posts of yours rubbing it in about the fine weather over there, things are on the turn! I'm such a meaney.

    Indeed, perhaps you could be the next companion after Donna - the Doc's never had an NZer in the TARDIS before! (There was once an Aussie as I'm sure you probably know...)I'm sure you'd make for a feisty and intelligent lassie though...

    Ah, so you've just seen "School Reunion"! One of my favourite episodes, particularly for the return of Sarah Jane and K9. Mind you, you're quite behind over there aren't you? Next week, The Girl in the Fireplace! What have been your favourite episodes to date?

  • At 12:08 am , Blogger The Sagittarian said...

    Um, thats a hard one (as the actress said to the bishop)...I did kind of like the one where the statues came to life. It was very creepy and had the same efect on me that the originals back in the 60s used to have on me. You know, the sudden change thing- you knew something was about to happen but it gave you a fright anyway!

    Yes, it was great see K9 again. My daughter got a heap of photos of Dr Who at the Armageddon Expo at the weekend, including one of K9. She's wrapped.

  • At 12:08 am , Blogger The Sagittarian said...

    Oh and I liked the one with Captain Jack and the WW2 thing.

  • At 11:01 pm , Blogger Flaming Nora said...

    It's fantastic news that you're back. And you've been doing some writing too - tell all - what? Will you be following in my novel writing footsteps? It's hard work but worth while.

  • At 10:54 am , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Amanda - I agree that "Blink" (the statues one) was certainly one of the most scary stories and the statues themselves were a frightening concept! Definitely one for the youngsters, not to say some adults!

    You know, it's sooo cool that you're daughter is into DW! She's obviously been raised very well. I want to meet her! What's the Armageddon Expo? Sounds like some kind of convention! I have always had a soft spot for K9 (I have a little toy version and also a larger talking one, along with a Tom Baker doll...it's all coming out now!) They're actually bringing out K9's first ever story on DVD soon, "The Invisible Enemy", which whilst a decidedly...erm, average...story is a great debut for the robot pooch!

    And yes I also thought "The Empty Child"/"The Dr Dances" (The WW2/Captain Jack) story was also another one of the best. Odd that the two "best" stories that you mention are penned by Steven Moffat, one of the show's most talented writers I think.

    Nora - Thanks love, although I was never really away (just on extended hiatus!) I will be posting periodically, as they say.

    Well I would love to tell you what I'm writing, but it's a bit...personal. It's a gay-themed novel though, I can tell you that much. Still in the planning stage and I haven't yet quite worked out where it's going. I have a bit of a superstition thing where I don't like to harp on too much about something if it turns out to be unsuccessful. But here's hoping! We can but try, eh?

    Hope your own novel is progressing successfully!

  • At 6:33 am , Blogger The Sagittarian said...

    darling, my daughter has also just purchased a pair of shoes purely on the basis that they are Dr Who shoes. I swear, if David Tennant was to turn up onouor doorstep he would never leave. She is besotted in a "I love my big brother" kinda way. I confess I could cope with him as a son-in-law!! (well, unless The Stud pops his clogs and then she would have to fight me for him....)

  • At 6:05 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    I saw the photo on your blog, Amanda! Good on your daughter. Yeah, David Tennant has made Converse trainers cool all over again. Although perhaps they never really went out of fashion...How funny to think of you and your daughter having a catfight over DT! (I know quite a few females who fancy him - personally he's a wee bit too skinny for me, but I like his deep n' dark brown eyes...) Quite a nice bottom too, although I saw that in it's full naked glory in another one-off drama he was in...not really likely to get his buns out in DW...

  • At 12:00 am , Blogger The Sagittarian said...

    Actually after I had posted that comment I thought about it and decided he is a bit too skinny for my liking too!! I like meatier arms. But let's not lower the tone eh, doll?

  • At 9:43 pm , Blogger hot-lunch said...

    welcome back and congrats on doing some writing!! i need to get on that bandwagon and how!


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