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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dr Whooooooo? Continued...

2. K9 - A Time Lord's (and girl's) best friend

Well hello me hearties!! I'm back. And it's the weekend now which is even nicer. No more working for a day or two...The sun is shining outside the window of my South London penthouse and it's shaping up to be a nice relaxing Saturday. Can you work out which part of the last sentence is a complete lie? My hubby is at work (poor thing - he's currently in training to be a senior team leader, and then hopefully assistant manager, so it's hard work for him, but it will all be worth it in the end when he gets that promotion!) So I am currently on my own-e-o.

Anyhow, to return to the previous topic of discussion, which was my favourite things from the wondrous world (or cosmos?) of Doctor Who....and as you can see, favourite number 2 is none other than robot dog K9. Get the joke? A cunning play on "canine", of course. That's him in the picture above, next to Sarah-Jane Smith.

K9 first appeared in the show in the story "The Invisible Enemy" in 1977 and was the creation of Earth scientist Professor Marius, who was working in a hospital called the Bi-Al foundation, based in the asteroid belt within our solar system (a little bit further to go than Holby City then). The good Professor, missing his real pet dog back home, created a robot equivalent and K9 was thus born. And a very clever doggie he is too. Not only does he have a highly advanced brain, he can also communicate with computers, has an inbuilt laser gun in his "snout" with can stun or even kill, and sensors. And probably other things that I've forgotten to mention. He certainly proves very useful in helping the Professor, Doctor and companion Leela in their fight against the Nucleus of the swarm (!! great name, huh? More on the aforementioned Nukey later) and at the end the story the Professor very kindly agrees to let the mechanical mutt depart with the Doctor in the TARDIS.

I must have been about 8 years old when this story was first broadcast and me and my primary school pals were immediately taken with the arrival of the amazing robot dog. This was 1977, the era of "Star Wars" and science fiction was very "in". Admittedly Dr Who couldn't quite compete with big screen sci-fi; one of the most derided aspects of old-school Dr Who is its low budget and consequently, sometimes rather crap sets, cheapo special effects, baco-foil monsters and so forth. "The Invisible Enemy" is no exception (again more on this later). However one of its saving graces was undoubtedly K9. He was soooo cool! My mates were soon all paraphrasing K9's expressions in the playground: "Affirmative, master!" "Negative!" We attempted to make our own K9s out of Lego (rather hard in fact) and (ahem) I even remember constructing a K9 out of cardboard boxes and taking him down the local shops. I can't believe I've just revealed that. Well, I was very young at the time.

In the context of the programme there were actually several incarnations of K9. The first version travelled in the TARDIS for a few stories until he elected to remain with Leela on the Doctor's home planet of Gallifrey in "The Invasion of Time". Before you could say "sonic screwdriver" the Doc created a brand new K9 Mark II, who remained with him until the end of "Warrior's Gate", choosing to stay in E-Space with Time-Lady Romana (well basically he had no choice, as his memory and circuits had been eroded by time winds and the only way he could keep intact was to stay in the alternative universe. I bet you are all wondering what the hell I'm going on about now aren't you...)

The final and most recent incarnation of K9, Mark III, was given as a gift to none other than Sarah-Jane Smith in "K9 and Company" and proved invaluable in helping Sarah battle a local coven of witches. He then resurfaced for a cameo in "The Five Doctors" and most recently "School Reunion".

So that's a potted history of the pooch. Although obviously a robot, K9 does have a very human personality, and can be superior and smug at times and a bit of a know-all, but overall he has always been loyal to the Doctor in all their time/space adventures, referring to him as "Master". Awwww. A Time-Lord's best friend, no less. His recent reappearance in the programme was a joy to behold and definitely a great nostalgia trip for Who freaks like me. Perhaps his role in "School Reunion" was a little underwritten but in true K9 fashion he was there to save the day again, making a final heroic gesture by blowing up the monstrous Krillitanes and so saving the world from alien invasion. Unfortunately in doing so, he also sacrifices himself, much to Sarah-Jane's sadness. However the ever-thoughtful Doctor surprises her by giving her yet another rebuilt K9, which made for a touching conclusion to the story.

So there you have it. Of course still being a child at heart I have a mini K9 on my desk at work and also a small speaking version which accompanies a Tom Baker doll. Some people never grow up I guess...."Affirmative!"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dr Whooooooo??

Okay, well for some bizarre reason I couldn't add any more photos to my last post, so I've started another one. As I was saying, here's a few of my favourite things about Who...

1. Tom Baker a.k.a. the Fourth Doctor &
Elisabeth Sladen a.k.a. Sarah-Jane Smith

Tom Baker remains, and always will be, my favourite incarnation of the Doctor. Character traits? Eccentric. Mysterious. Enigmatic. Brilliant. Humorous. Long multi-coloured scarf. Jelly baby eater. Toothy grin. Mad, staring eyes. Wonderfully rich, commanding voice. Huge curly perm. Okay so some might argue that Baker outstayed his welcome in the show (he clocked up some 7 years in the role!) but for me he will always be THE Doctor and gave THE definitive portrayal of the Time Lord.

Equally Sarah-Jane Smith ranks as one of my all time fave companions. A journalist by trade, she starts off as a bit of a no-nonsense feminist in the Jon Pertwee era of the show, but mellows gradually over time. Combining vulnerability with an outspokenness, intelligence and humour, she and the Doctor enjoy a close relationship and one of mutual respect. The most freakiest Sarah-Jane moment for me was one of the cliffhangers in "The Android Invasion" when the person we think is Sarah is revealed to be an android duplicate and she pulls a gun on the good Doctor. However the ever discerning Doc fights back and shaking the fascimile Sarah like a doll, causes her face to fall off, revealing a mass of circuits and wires underneath. Uugggghh. One that gave me nightmares for months. And in case you were wondering, the real Sarah was later revealed to be safe and sound.

Sarah also got a pretty good send-off story, "The Hand of Fear", in which she gets possessed by the spirit of a dead alien and walks round a nuclear power station clutching a stone hand (the remains of the aforementioned alien) repeatedly saying "Eldrad must live" and zapping people. Fortunately the Doctor soon restores her to normal and in the final episode she gets some touching farewell scenes. This story recently came out on DVD if you fancy a look.

She then turned up a few years later in the okay-but-not-great spin-off show, "K9 and Company", the best thing about that being the hilariously cheesey title sequence which attempts to emulate various detective/action shows. Cue shots of Sarah Jane sitting on a wall wearing groovy pink leg warmers, sipping wine whilst dashing off a news story on her type writer (such a sophisticated girl) and jumping into her mini metro (!) to speed off down a country lane. Oh and it also featured a certain robot dog. Both Sarah and K9 returned in "School Reunion" in the all-new Who, earlier this year. Which leads me to another of my favourite elements of the show... more coming soon!!

Greetings my fruity ones...

Well hello one and all! Yes this is my very first entry on my new blog ... I'm soooo excited (and I just can't hide it...as a certain 80s girl group once sung).

Okay, first things first, allow me to introduce myself. My name's Simon but you can call me "Old Cheeser". The reasons for the aforementioned name will no doubt become apparent as I continue with this blog, and you, my beloved reader will hopefully not be frightened away by my mad musings. By way of introduction, I thought I'd post a rather nice picture of myself and my husband Gustavo, on our recent wedding day, which you can see immediately above this text. In case you hadn't guessed, I'm the one on the right and he's the cute dark one on the left. For the record, we were married at Islington Registry Office in August and it was a wonderful day, the ceremony was followed by a rather fab reception at a Soho bar called "6 Degrees" which was a blast. It's lovely to be married and thank god civil partnerships have finally became legal in this country! About time...

So that's a tiny bit about me, what next...well I had a fairly normal day at work which doesn't make for desperately exciting reading I have to say. I work for an examination board in assessment, producing question papers and setting pass marks, things like that. Oh the excitement of it all. However I have to say I am indebted to one of my managers who gave me the idea to start writing this blog in a bid to get me to make better use of creativity. So thanks for that Gemma, good thinking!

Okay that's enough about work. I will only write about THAT subject when it makes for a good story / decent source of gossip. As a matter of fact a work mate and I once started writing a soap opera, loosely (or perhaps not so loosely) based on some of the people we know there...perhaps one day we'll finish it. It was called "Corporate Affairs" which is actually the name of one of the departments there. Great name, huh? "Good afternoon, can I have a corporate affair with you please..."

Right that's enough pontificating. To launch my blog in appropriate fashion, what better way to start than to write about one of my major obsessions, Doctor Who? Well you've got to start somewhere, haven't you? As many of you probably know, the programme enjoyed a major renaissance in 2005 when it returned to our tv screens after a long absence. The BBC and Russell T Davies did a brilliant job of revitalising and modernising the show whilst managing to maintain all of its traditional, essential elements. But if you're an Old Cheeser like me, you'll most likely remember the programme from first time round. Here then are some of my favourite things about the original Doctor Who...