General Open Thread – TV Shows (2)
29 December 2019 at 02:29 #68695
Thank you @nerys for the tip about Cash on Demand.
I found it on YouTube, Mrs Blenkinsop figured out how to stream it and we just watched it. It was brilliant! And yes, it really was “Hammer does A Christmas Carol” (in a very loose and very clever way). Peter Cushing and Andre Morell were excellent, as versions of Scrooge and an inspired version of Christmas Past, Present and the threat of Future (sort of). And also Richard Vernon as the put-upon chief clerk (aka Bob Cratchit).
A bit if searching revealed that the movie was filmed in 1961, but only released in 1963, specifically 23 December 1963. Not only the day the movie is set in, but also the same day as the first episode of Doctor Who.
It’s a small world.
Thoroughly recommended.29 December 2019 at 03:15 #68696
Hold on. Who screened on 23 November, not December. (Damn. Another senior moment.) Well anyway, Cash on Demand was still brilliant.29 December 2019 at 15:33 #68698nerys @nerys
You’re welcome, @blenkinsopthebrave and all! It’s rare that a Christmas film holds me spellbound, from beginning to end, the way this one did, so I felt a need to recommend it. It was such a pleasant and unexpected surprise to come across this film I’d never heard of, and discover a (sadly) hidden gem.
Living in Canada as I do, many of the stations in our cable lineup are American. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has turned out to be one of our favourites, not only because of the films they show (which, more often than not, are worth watching), but thanks to the wonderful analysis and context provided by the various hosts. I gain so much by hearing what they have to say about the people who made these films, often under trying circumstances. It makes me appreciate them all the more.2 January 2020 at 01:10 #68747
Well I thought it was a hoot, and anything that get the Angry Virgins vexed has an edge in my book.3 January 2020 at 01:11 #68769
Speaking of fake outs….4 January 2020 at 00:42 #68789FatManInABox @fatmaninabox
Before I comment on the series, I need to get something off my chest…
Claes Bang -yes I bloody well would be his bride.
Well I thought it was a hoot
Yup, but I must admit that once I realised this wasn’t going to be a faithful adaptation I spent a good few minutes huffing, puffing and shouting obscenities at the TV. I wasn’t annoyed in an ‘angry virgin’ way (my days of being a virgin are but a distant memory), it was annoyance at my own stupidity for thinking that Moffat & Gatiss would have stuck to the original material 🙂
I noticed a few ‘in jokes’ though one of them might not have been intentional.
1. I was munching on crisps at the time so missed some of the dialogue but I believe that Johnny Blue Eyes, whilst being engaged to Mina, had a bit of a thing for the barmaid at The Rose & Crown – Victorian Clara perhaps?
2. Sister Agatha has a detective friend in London. It could be Sherlock Holmes but as Gatiss & Moffat’s Sherlock was a modern adaptation, I’m going with Madame Vastra.
3. This is the one I think may be more accident than design – old Drac’s make up reminded me a lot of Matt Smith’s aged Doctor.
A glaringly obvious reference to Inside Number 9.
Don’t be cremated!
Overall, a great bit of TV with some brilliant characters. Despite my undying love for Drac, my favourite was Sister Agatha. Sorry, but I found Zoe Van Helsing a bit dull.
My only gripe was with the stake wielding nuns – didn’t it occur to them that could’ve used their stakes to kill the wolves?4 January 2020 at 01:50 #68790
To be fair, I’m not sure stakes would be terribly effective against wolves and also, of course, wolves come with their own fear-lore.
Another easter egg: the ward Zoe was in was ward AD 72. Check out IMDB if not familiar.
Burned Lucy was epic and her demise a splendid nod to Buffy.
There was a bit of fluff on Twitter about the ending, arguing that Dracula was talked to death and that he should not have had that last bit of redemption, to which I say: give over you twats.
Zoagatha showed Drac that his entire self-image was lie built on cowardice. Showed him, by exposing him to light. Destroyed him in his own eyes in an empirical(1) and unarguable way.
And Moff is very clear that the baddies don’t truly know they are baddies and that redemption is always, always possible, even is only in the smallest of ways.
Also a couple of nice nods to the oft-overlooked fact that Bram Stoker’s was an epistolary novel.
But I now really, really want the Sister Agatha The Vampire Slayer spin-off.
1. From the Greek empiirias, through experience.4 January 2020 at 11:08 #68800
@fatmaninabox it was Mina who had a bit of a thing for the barmaid, which to me means Victorian Clara confirmed. Agree about sister Agatha, was quite glad to see her come back.
Episode two- The Master! The actors had a pretty good new year period!
@pedant – additionally, I felt as though he realised that he’d always thought he could die any time he wanted, that he was more vulnerable than he was. You can’t stake yourself, that was made clear. He’d have to let someone kill him, he couldn’t just walk out into the sun, let himself be killed by the one he loved. I think he’d set up a kind of romance about it, how much he loves and misses ‘her’, and partly, romanticised it because that was, ultimately, his way out of existence. Agatha/Zoe (mostly Agatha) debunked this. But that was the way he was always going to go, let himself be killed by the one he loved, in some sort of fashion. So he drank her blood.
By the way, we don’t completely know that Sister Agatha is dead. I know blood is lives, and she was somehow living in her blood inside his body, but I wonder if that is conclusive?
I liked the Lucy stuff. It was recognisable but changed – she ended up engaged to the Texan, one of the other young men was gay and a little preoccupied with the Doctor, but there were always slightly homoerotic, if disturbing, elements to the three of them, coming together in love and friendship to kill the (ghastly undead walking abomination who used to be) the woman they all love. I was rather expecting all three of them for the death of Lucy.4 January 2020 at 12:21 #68801FatManInABox @fatmaninabox
Another easter egg: the ward Zoe was in was ward AD 72.
Yep, I noticed that too but forgot to mention it. By the time I remembered it was too late to edit my post.
Thanks for confirming what I heard even though I attributed it to the wrong character.
On Sunday nights at 9pm, Talking Pictures (freeview 81) have been showing an old TV series called ‘Mystery and Imagination’ which features adaptations of classic horror/ghost stories (the series comes to an end next week). They do have a habit of repeating things after a few months so if any of you missed it, keep an eye on their schedules as one of the programmes was the Denholm Elliot version of Dracula – well worth watching as is Frankenstein which features Ian Holm playing the roles of both Victor Frankenstein and The Creature.4 January 2020 at 21:07 #68810
Oh good, we are discussing Moffat and Gatiss’ Dracula!
I said this on T’Other Place, after seeing Part 3:
“I think it played with the source material quite beautifully (“bloofer lady”) and found a way to incarnate the Victorian gothic themes of sublimated carnality, purity, corruption and death into the contemporary world.
This Dracula is a creature of mesmerising seduction, but he is, in fact, always seducing himself, searching for “brides” who seem not to fear death (which he personifies, in the midst of his rotting eternal life) and forever coming up short.
And Agatha Van Helsing, his counter-part, his match, is a nun, a woman who has sworn vows of anti-seduction (celibacy).
But she does seduce Dracula, and she does it with her mind, through her own fearlessness, because she is so open about her doubt in the reality of God and salvation, yet she is bravely ready to meet her death anyway (twice).
I loved the final tableau of Death and the Maiden, only it is the maiden who seizes hold of death, even across time, and in the end wrests the Count into the loving arms of the finite.
I think Moffat and Gatiss definitely had some fun, in terms of thematic cross-overs with their Who and Sherlock, quite apart from the evident cross-over casting.
The time travel element was there – Agatha “re-incarnated” in her descendant Zoe and then inhabited by her spirit (via blood transference) and so was the duelling “frenemy” dynamic of the Master vs The Doctor and Sherlock vs Moriarty, echoed again here in Dracula vs Agatha.
I suppose we could say that all three productions (in Moffat/ Gatiss’ hands) share the sentiment that real seduction happens in the mind.”
I’ll add that I enjoyed many of the comedic notes – Dracula sending a vampire emoji was 🙂 As were some of Drac’s hammy lines in Part 1 – “I don’t drink… wine.”
But I was disappointed by the treatment of Mina and Lucy – Mina as, essentially, a blonde screamer (although yes, we learned she founded the Harker Institute off-screen) and Lucy as a vapid and depressed over-selfie-taker. The actress for Lucy, Lydia West, was great, but I guess I am tired of older generation takes on “selfie culture”, particularly female selfie-culture, when really it is no different from the line in overly flattering portraiture the aristocracy indulged in for hundreds of years. Besides which, John Berger put it best, when he said (in Ways of Seeing): “you painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting ‘vanity’, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.” There are particular cultural pressures bearing down on young women in relation to the “prettiness” Lucy so values and loathes about herself, and morally condeming young women for participating in selfie-culture is a shallow take on those pressures.
Mina, in particular, in the novel, is a fascinating character, because she is infected (half-vamped) but she actively fights Dracula and she survives. Moffat and Gatiss kind of amalgamated Mina and Van Helsing into their Agatha.
It’s true, you can’t do everything in a 3 part rendition of quite a long novel, and I really did enjoy the fan-fiction gap in-fill of Part 2 (which fleshed out the voyage of the Demeter) and the contemporary setting of Part 3. Agatha Van Helsing was inspired writing and acting, and OK, they went for a double act, a duel between Dracula and Van Helsing, which definitely worked.4 January 2020 at 22:18 #68811
Also on the subject of Dracula, I should add, that in some vampire lore, since Bram Stoker, vampire blood has supernatural properties, including as a curative for injuries.
So, it’s possible that Agatha/ Zoe was, in fact, regenerating from her cancer, thanks to drinking Dracula’s blood.
In which case, Dracula would not die from feeding on her.
So, there remains the possibility that both survived that final encounter (and both knew they would).
In that case “the game” (another Sherlock reference) is not, as Agatha/Zoe said “over”.5 January 2020 at 01:57 #68814
I’m inclined to agree about Mina, although I think you’re right that it was more to do with simplifying the structure of a story which – in true style of its era – was a tad prone to wandering about the houses.
But I think Lucy was more of a metaphor for internet attention seekers – with their coterie of admirers (per @miapatrick above) – who, while they may get the attention they crave, do not necessarily get the attention that is good for them. She literally burned out, although I suppose you could equally see Dracula here as a metaphorical stalker – and rather too many celebrities have been killed by those. On balance I think I prefer the more on-the-nose metaphor here. But, whichever, it has to be said that women are massively and disproportionately victims of such things.
Ultimately, at their most reductive, vampires are metaphors for male sexual violence.
But Agatha is a truly great creation: an educated, skeptical heir of medieval monks like William of Occam. Empirical, experimental and reasoning. Conversations with that detective friend of hers in London would have been intense…5 January 2020 at 08:00 #68823
@pedant yup, and often when they’re not metaphors for male sexual violence, they’re warnings against predatory lesbians..
@juniperfish I don’t know – she was in hospital dying, so they would probably have run tests on her – she was asymptomatic when she drank the blood. It’s possible that the pain was the process of regeneration rather than the cancer attacking, but that rather depends on no scans or blood tests.
Then again, Dracula and Agatha are the worlds leading experts on Vampirism, doesn’t mean everything the ‘know’ is true. What if ‘death from the blood of the dying’ is on the same principle as sunlight, crosses, invitations? I’m just imagining a rather awkward morning after neither expected to experience…5 January 2020 at 18:31 #68836
@juniperfish has expressed beautifully almost everything I could wish to say about Dracula. Gatiss and Moffat have done a brilliant job of adapting and expanding on the story and themes in the original book, even better than their take on Sherlock in the first series in my opinion; the transition at the end of the second episode from the late 19th century to the 21st century was very deftly managed and very effective and I was rivetted to the screen throughout.
This was a Dracula I could really engage with or perhaps – channelling the Count – get my teeth into. Here is the archetypal vampire conceived and fully realised as simultaneously magnetic, repellent and at times truly menacing, and Claes Bang has done a splendid job of portraying him. He is wholly, even flamboyantly self aware and ready with his knowing quips, yet without fundamental self knowledge because he cannot face what, at the core of his being, has driven him throughout the centuries; and he hates mirrors, not because he has no reflection, but because in them he sees something of the reality, ancient and horribly corrupt*. Andin this way he has survived and flourished in his fashion until, at the end, Agatha/Zoe finally discerns the truth within him and, after demonstrating the falsity of so many of the accumulated beliefs he has accepted, confronts him with it, and so he finally accepts and embraces death.
As for the way Mina and Lucy were portrayed, I don’t think that the fact that Mina was little more than a cypher really mattered when we had such a magnificently realised female character as Sister Agatha/Zoe Van Helsing at the centre of the story. But @juniperfish , I was surprised by your description of Lucy as ‘depressed’, because my reading of her was quite different. She struck me as someone fairly self absorbed who had found no aim or purpose beyond having fun and so lived chiefly on the surface, and who flirted with danger and courted risk as a way of giving some spice and meaning to her life, to the point where she was half in love with Death, as encountered in the person of Dracula.
I also watched the programme which followed the last episode, in which Gatiss traced the history of the story and it’s various adaptations on film and TV from the publication of the novel onwards. It was an interesting overview, and I was pleased to discover that his favourite was apparently the TV version set chiefly in Whitby and starring Louis Jourdin, which I also remember being impressed by – though eclipsed by this, I think.
* As in The Picture of Dorian Gray11 January 2020 at 22:58 #68960
Yeah, Dracula was a rare treat. You’ve already covered many points I had in my notes, but thanks for the reference to the barmaid in the Rose & Crown. Completely missed that on first watch!
I just thought it was constructed brilliantly. I just wanted to point out that the most controversial point for many – the relocation to the present day, was actually in the spirit of the Stoker novel, but it’s easy to miss as it’s considered a “period” piece these days. From the authors point of view he was relocating a medieval vampire who lived a medieval life style to “contemporary” England. It’s Dracula’s desire to see the ‘new world’ that informs the book and this adaption. The book makes reference to phonograph, telegraph and Van Helsing tries to save Lucy with a blood transfusion (some years before it became a standard practice). Truly a land of miracles! I liked the update with Dracula eulogising the modern household.
I have a special fondness for the second episode. There has been a film project in “development hell” for a couple of decades now called “The last voyage of the Demeter”. I have a feeling an actual film might disappoint after this. Well produced with lovely cinematography for a TV budget.
Claus Bang was great as Dracula but was overshadowed by Holly Wells as Sister Agatha. She’s actually the daughter of John Wells – actor, comedian and satirical writer, and a man who’s last TV role was in the Steven Moffat comedy ‘Chalk’ (he played the School Headmaster, Richard Nixon). I must admit, watching this made me wonder what she’d be like as The Doctor with Moffat scripts behind her.
Which is to say that Dracula and Sherlock seem to be companion projects to Doctor Who in many ways. I’ve expounded on this for Sherlock in the past, but suddenly we have a female Doctor and Van Helsing (in a very Doctor-like role). The relationships intrigue me.
I was given a DVD of Moffat’s “Jekyll” for Christmas (I’d been looking for it for a while). Its been years since I saw it so I’m hoping to refresh myself and see if any further parallels can be drawn.12 January 2020 at 00:04 #68965
@mudlark I think Lucy was depicted as both self-absorbed, as you say, and depressed. She was obsessed with being “pretty” but she also recognised that people reacted to her superficially because of her looks, so her sense of self-worth was actually quite disturbed, which, sadly, led her to be attracted to death, as an escape.
Really the poor treatment of Lucy and Mina in Moffat and Gatiss’ version made me envision a wholly different modern take, in which Lucy and Mina are modern members of a St. Trinians’ style school and absolutely wipe the floor with both Dracula and Van Helsing (a Schoolmaster)’s feeble attempts to counter the vampire. I have just watched What We Do in the Shadows though, so I have more comedic takes on the brain right now.
@phaseshift That’s a good point about medieval Dracula in the “modern” (Victorian) world as far as the novel was concerned. I too enjoyed the shift to modernity in the third episode.
Completely agree with you about the parallels with Sherlock.
And indeed for BBC Sherlock fans, there were a number of Sherlock “clues” in Dracula. For example, Dracula and Van Helsing play chess on board the Demeter (and if you listen you can hear a few bars of the Sherlock theme as they first do so). Dracula refers to Van Helsing as being on the “losing side”. That is what Sherlock says to Irene Adler, in Moffat and Gatiss’ version, when he bests her by guessing she’d used his name as her phone password; “Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.” Van Helsing actually wins the metaphorical chess game between herself and Dracula, eventually, precisely because he succumbs to sentiment – he cares for her.
Additionally, the chess game on the Demeter actually takes place in Van Helsing’s mind, while Dracula is feeding off her in cabin No 9. The promo pictures for Sherlock S4 were a chess game between Sherlock and Mycroft, with Watson looking on. So, for those (like me) convinced that Sherlock S4 took place, at least partly, in John’s mind whilst he was lying in a coma after being shot by Mary (just as The Abominable Bride took place in Sherlock’s drugged mind) this could be read as an inter-textual clue supporting that reading. Agatha Van Helsing (a Sherlock avatar) is in a dream-world and she has to figure out what’s real and what’s not, just as Sherlock, and Sherlock fans, had to in The Abominable Bride.
I’m sure there are other Sherlock Easter-eggs in Dracula, but I’d need a re-watch to ferret out more!12 January 2020 at 00:38 #68966
Like your style. I will attribute you and other contributers with these and any further observations in my retirement project – A Book entitled “Steven Moffat and his BBC projects – What the hell was going on there?!”. The truth is in here. 😉
I was quite surprised by the relatively minor part played by Mina, but I think the Lucy part is a lot more complicated. Her letters, in the book, seem to extole the virtues of the men in her life a lot. They’re much better at everything than she is, etc. Very conformist Victorian.
I think I’m still grappling with her depiction because it is so different. Obviously she and Dracula are Mirrors. When Dracula looks in the mirror he sees horror. When she (burnt) looks in the mirror she sees beauty. Perhaps self image is the key. What I think is clear is that she is a Clara – she’s reckless and drawn to danger. What I find also interesting is that, like Clara there is a distinct emphasis on “consent” in her outcome.
My recent comment on the reapperance of the mind-wipe in Skyfall had everything to do with consent. When Donna was mindwipped in S4 there were serious points made in other places that this amounted to (if you’ll pardon the expression) ‘mind rape’. When we got to Hell Bent I think Jimthefish and I may have read those same conversations because he and I suggested that it was a necessary corrective. Clara argued for her memories to remain intact. Her choice, her consent. Similarly I think the novel and many previous adaptions the fate of Lucy in presented as an invasion. I can’t think of any other adaption where Lucy made the choice and gave consent.12 January 2020 at 00:57 #68971
@phaseshift Sounds like a good book 🙂
I haven’t seen Moffat’s Jekyll and now feel compelled to get hold of it, as there’s obviously quite a trilogy going on there – Jekyll, Dracula and Sherlock.
Did you see Penny Dreadful (UK TV series for Showtime a few years ago)? That was a really interesting mash-up of a number of Victorian gothic narratives, including Frankenstein and Dracula and Dorian Gray, and even Carmilla/ Countess Bathory (and a bit of De Sade). It had Eva Green in it (I love her) and Billie Piper, who is also phenomenal.
That’s interesting, what you and @jimthefish were discussing in terms of consent. Donna’s fate was horrific, even though the Doctor did it to save her life.
I suppose, in this most recent mind-wipe case, the Doctor knew Ada Lovelace had an important role to play in Earth history, and so perhaps she had to mind-wipe her to ensure she didn’t change time, in that respect.
What you say about Lucy and consent is interesting. Lucy did consent to Dracula biting her, in this Moffat and Gatiss’ version, but she didn’t fully know what she was consenting to (being turned into Dracula’s “Bride”).
I also reallly wondered why Dracula didn’t turn Van Helsing into his “Bride” on the Demeter. She was pretty fearless about death, and so surely, should have been an ideal “Bride” for him. Instead, he chose to just ingest her, carrying her with him to the new world in the blood. Was that a mark of respect? That he didn’t take away her automony by turning her into a “Bride”?
Of course, that rather speaks to the deliberately ambigious ending, which I mentioned above. What if Van Helsing, having ingested Dracula’s blood, is not dying any longer, but being reborn as a vampire after all?12 January 2020 at 02:01 #68976
While I think they did leave the ending ambiguous, I have a feeling this may be a one – shot like Jekyll (The BBC commissioned it while RTD was in charge because they wanted to see if he could deliver a project like that and take charge of Doctor Who).
I’ve seen all of Penny Dreadful and I think once it settled down it became a stonking piece of TV. My original comment (which compared it to Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) is here. If you type Penny dreadful into the search bar, you’ll see a fair few references by others. @miapatrick was an early adopter as well.
I didn’t get to say that series 3 Episode 4 “A blade of grass” that featured Eva Green in the mental institute confronting Dracula and Satan was one of the highlights of that years TV. It features Eva and Rory Kinnear in a two hander the year after Heaven Sent. Both bits of incredible TV.
I’m a bit suspicious of the mindwipe coming back. Moffat was slightly ahead of the #metoo curve and the issue of consent. I do think that for someone who has positioned themselves as progressive, Chibnall can be a bit tone deaf on certain points. We’ll see how it goes.12 January 2020 at 11:59 #68979
@phaseshift that’s an excellent point about Dracula, I hadn’t even thought of it like that. But of course, Dracula wasn’t written as a period piece. While many of the older Gothic novels were theoretically set in medieval times (Radcliffe was terrible for anachronisms) Dracula was very much about the relocating of the medieval into the modern. And they did keep up with the referencing to the ‘New World’ which at the time was slightly confusing, I kept thinking the ship was headed to America. So surely, placing him in modern day England is about as faithful to the book as you can get!
And in a similar way, when people complain that some of the attitudes are too ‘modern’, that’s actually where a Radcliffian reference slips in. The Female Gothic was always decidedly post-enlightenment – the ‘good’ characters distinguished themselves, at their best, with attitudes closer to late 18th century Britain than medieval Europe (especially the particularly barbarous idea of medieval Europe they somewhat chauvinistically painted. Despite his supernatural core, Stoker was in many ways writing more in the female gothic tradition (sex, desire and patriarchy, active female characters, focus on psychological responses (while Radcliffe’s heroines aren’t drawn with great depth, their responses to moments of tension are quite realistic.)
So in this remake, they were simply doing what late 18th and 19th century horror writers usually did with horror. A faithful reproduction would be impossible because what was modern at the time is terribly old-fashioned now. And as I’ve explained to random people on t’other place more times than I can count an agnostic, feminist (in modern terminology) nun at that date is perfectly feasible. I actually credit some of the movement throughout the 18th century towards woman’s rights to the reformation – losing a potential avenue by which a woman could achieve political power, intellectual achievements without having to negotiate the secular world, status, and independence from the male members of her family.
Oh, also, Penny Dreadful! Haven’t thought of that for a while now very much want to re-watch, and it appears to be on sky box sets! I agree with @phaseshift entirely. I found the first season fun, I thought it was quite clever to call it what they did, despite using stories from the higher literary cannon of horror, it seemed to manage expectations in a way that actually ended up being quite deceptive. And I’ll watch Eva Green in just about anything. Very interesting dovetailing of the Frankenstein story with elements of The Phantom of the Opera.
As for the mind wipe in Who, I can see how it would be completely necessary. Those could be some catastrophic spoilers. Disturbing, when she’s pleading with her not to do it, but Ada’s knowledge of the work that built on her own could completely disturb her pursuit of her own work, and narratively, I’m not sure there was any way around it other than a bootstrap paradox, which could have taken something from her own achievement. Such an impressive part of her legacy was, though she didn’t pull it completely out of nowhere, what a complete innovation what she did was. It would have been better to have her agree to the mind wipe for these reasons, which could have been a moving, rather than disturbing scene, where she sacrifices all this lovely knowledge, just the kind of thing she loves, in order to play her part. I think she was clever, brave, and strong enough for that.12 January 2020 at 18:55 #68986
Well, well, this is quite like old times, isn’t it? Hello to you both (and everyone else). Hope you’ve been well and had a good festive season.
Big yes to Dracula. The first couple of episodes are among the best that Moffatt and Gattiss have done. The third ep was a bit weaker but I appreciate why they made the move to the 20th century. Dolly Wells for my money absolutely stole this entire show and I’d love to see her as even slightly vampiric modern Van Helsing in her own show. I’m not sure there’s much more you could do with Drac himself though. And it does seem rather like a Victorian revamp trilogy with Jekyll and Sherlock, I suppose. It’ll certainly be interesting to see where they go next. I believe Moff’s got The Time-Traveller’s Wife adaptation up his sleeve (for HBO did I see somewhere?) but I’ve been thinking of late that I’d love to see Moffat and Gattiss have a go at a modern reinterpretation of Dennis Wheatley’s Duke de Richelieu. But all in all, Dracula as a great addition to a really quite impressive run of adaptations the Beeb has brought us of late — including His Dark Materials (great), War of the Worlds (pretty patchy) and A Christmas Carol (the surprising highpoint of the festive season for me).
I was very much a late adopter to Penny Dreadful, only really sitting down to watch it early last year, and I really loved it. Those kind of monster mashes can be terrible if done badly but I thought this was really excellent — with some committed performances from Eva Green and Rory Kinnear, to name but two. The final season is a little rushed perhaps but I liked it a lot. Might have been nice to do a group watch actually in the manner that we did for Buffy a few years back. And there is a new series of it in the pipeline, so maybe….
On the morality of mindwiping, it’s one of the things I’m currently having big problems with. I can kind of get behind the rationale for Ada, more or less. She was a scientist and would go on to do big things in that field. (Although why she needed her mind wiped is open to question. She saw some teleportation, some aliens and the tissue compression eliminator in action. But she didn’t see schematics or any indication of how these things actually worked so I have doubts as to the necessity of wiping her memory.) Noor is even more problematic. She’s not a scientist; she’s a wireless operator and spy for the Allies. Bearing in mind that in a matter of a few months after this story is set, she’s going to be arrested and tortured by the Gestapo before being executed at Dachau, I’m struggling to see the justification for the mindwipe. I suppose she might tell the Germans something under torture but what exactly? And what that they would believe? And mindwiping and sending her off to what the Doc knows to be her death with a few platitudes about ‘darkness not enduring’ seems to me to be pointlessly callous. My other main gripe with it is what about all the countless other historical figures the Doctor has encountered over the years, the ones we’ve seen onscreen to the ones merely namechecked? The obvious one, especially with reference to Noor, is how come Churchill didn’t get mindwiped, particularly as he seemed to have designs on the TARDIS? But then there’s also Dickens, Shakespeare, Marco Polo, HG Wells etc etc. And if they’ve all been getting mindwiped offscreen then that makes the Doctor more of a time-hopping menace rather than an innocent traveller.)
But it’s the casualness of it that bugs me. RTD had Ten mindwipe Donna as a last resort to save her life. It was made clear that it was not done lightly. And Moff went further in emphasising the morality of the thing. 12 was going to mindwipe Bill because he didn’t want his cover blown and the fact that he didn’t is key — the inner intervention of River/Susan/TARDIS underlines who to have gone through with it would have been un-Doctorly at best. In fact, it’s the whole point of Bill’s arc. When the Testament version of her insists that she is real ‘because of her memories’, the Doc is still resists the concept but I’d argue accepts it by the end of Twice Upon A Time. At the very least, it’s not something that should be undertaken lightly, is as @phaseshift says, a violation of self. For 13 to be so cavalier with it doesn’t sit well with me at all.
What makes it worse is that it seems to be just the latest in a series of ethically questionable acts from 13. We’ve had her proposing the slow suffocation of an innocent lifeform, playing headgames with a distressed blind girl, propping up a pointless corporate regime because profits apparently count more than people, and now we have her not only seemingly weaponising the Master’s new ethnicity against him but also getting a mind-rapey with carefree disregard. This seems more a problem with how Chibnall writes the Doctor and I’m reminded of the bizarre way he made 11 all murderously revengey at the end of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. I suspect I’m just at odds with how he sees the character.12 January 2020 at 23:26 #68992
@jimthefish I’ll have to rewatch, but as I remember, she was involved in helping the doctor re-program things, which would have meant considerably accelerating her computer programming knowledge. She was certainly still with the Doctor when she turned up having done her thing. I might be wrong, but even without that – she was exploring and speculating in her time. She wasn’t even thinking of computers on the level of what we have now. The very concept of ‘programming’ was brand new where she was standing, and she was right there at the birth. Even the idea of what she glimpsed in the modern day might derail her thoughts.
That said, it is ethically questionable. A few minutes – ‘I need to wipe your mind, because you need to do what you’re going to do, and you might not be able to do it, or do it differently, if you remember all this’ – and she’d realise that could well be the case, and she’d have the choice, would be better.12 January 2020 at 23:35 #68994
Wholly in agreement on the BBC’s radical adaptation of A Christmas Carol. I was out of the country during Christmas week, but recorded this, Dracula and more and came back to a televisual feast.
His Dark Materials was also something to be savoured, the more so because it led me to re-read the books with far greater enjoyment and appreciation than the first time, when I’m ashamed to say I was not especially impressed (maybe not in the right frame of mind).13 January 2020 at 11:26 #69025
Great to “see” you again.! 😉
As soon as I watched spyfall PT 2 that minor exchange from Hell Bent came straight back to me. Made me realise how I missed a lot of insight by contributors on here.
Pretty much agree with everything you say here, but to be charitable to Chibnall, I think the fate of Solomon was requested by Moffat. It dovetails into A town called Mercy and the question of the Doctors morality when not anchored by his friends.
If @miapatrick, @juniperfish and yourself are up for a rewatch of Penny Dreadful, perhaps we can entice others in as well. It’s something that could be enjoyable, perhaps when this series of Who ends?13 January 2020 at 11:56 #69029
@phaseshift I think that would be very enjoyable, and good to have something to watch and discuss during the Who-less months. (Or what am I supposed to do with my time? Write my essays? besides, my whole course is about adaptions and dialogues between texts, so I’m sure it will count as study.)
It appears to be, as well as Sky box sets, on Amazon (to rent, unfortunately), NowTV, possibly USA Netflixs? and Showtime, so it’s reasonably get at-able. And well worth buying on DVD anyway, in my opinion.13 January 2020 at 12:23 #69031MissRori @missrori
@jimthefish I think one reason 13’s been running into seemingly more ethical issues than the later seasons of 12’s run is likely due in part to a different writer, but also, the world’s been changing quite a bit since 12’s debut run. “Kerblam!” had a disappointing ending, but when the systems of big tech and capitalism are so vital in much of the world to basic — if flawed — functioning, dismantling it may be something too big for even the Doctor to do; it would take a village to make that work. It’s why she doesn’t just get rid of all the smartphones and social media at the end of “Spyfall” either, despite the problems they pose. (The ending of “Orphan 55” does pretty pointedly go with the masses of humanity idea as well with the crisis posed there.)
Basically, a hopeful, humanist, family-oriented show like Doctor Who is running into some pains at the moment dealing with the cruelties of the real world it’s reflecting, metaphorically or more obviously. This is a show where “Burn it all down!” and “Eat the rich!” are not supposed be the solutions to problems, but for an increasing amount of well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning people in our world, they seem to be the only ones left. Basically, our world is one that believes it needs a Warrior, not a Doctor.
Perhaps that’s what Series 12 is building up to, the Doctor figuring out how to be the best version of herself she can be (again) to solve the problem the ending of “Skyfall” poses to her, which can work as a metaphor for how us humans can be Doctors and save the world with kindness rather than “strength”. And perhaps she has to make mistakes on the way there?13 January 2020 at 12:35 #69033Peace Frog @peacefrog
Humble request from a new member.
Could we have a discussion sometime about the BBC series “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Service”?
The first season was so very good and then they had to rush the end because the BBC decided to yank the only other show they had that matched up with Doctor Who in any way.
It’s so short, we can watch the entire thing in a few weeks or months. However anybody wants to do it.13 January 2020 at 17:26 #69038
@jimthefish <waves at old fishy comrade> I also loved the BBC’s Dicken’s adaptation. I thought it was beautifully shot – amazing use of light and shadow. Guy Pearce was excellent and it was great to see Vinette Robinson again (who played Rosa Parks in Rosa last season of Doctor Who). Bringing some of the darker Victorian issues (around abuse) to light made for excellent characterisation of Scrooge, without letting him off the hook for his behaviour in any way.
@peacefrog I too loved Dirk Gently – it was completely off the wall, and generally zanily great fun. Unfortuately, the BBC really had no choice but to drop it. Just Google “Max Landis” and “The Daily Beast” and you will see that the guy was about to become a major #MeToo PR liability, which the Beeb really couldn’t afford in terms of its excellent reputation for childrens’ programming. Of course, these were allegations, rather than a conviction, and as such the BBC did not publicise them, or publicly link its Dirk Gently termination decision to them in any way. I simply surmise…
@miapatrick @phaseshift @jimthefish A Penny Dreadful re-watch sounds fun (I was disappointed with the ending, but overall thought it an excellent show). I can’t guarantee I’ll have time, but I’ll at least drop in.13 January 2020 at 17:35 #69040
P.S @jimthefish and @missrori I’d like to continue the discussions about the Doctor’s morality, as I think it’s a really interesting topic (and personally I don’t think WhitDoc is more morally dubious than previous Nu Who Docs) but this is a General Open Thread for TV shows other than Dr. Who so we need to take it somewhere else on the forum! Perhaps under the latest episode is as good as any?13 January 2020 at 18:05 #69042
That’s a fair point re. Dinosaurs and I think you could be right. That was certainly a theme in s7 up to and including the 50th anniversary
Yes, let’s take the question of the Doc’s morality over to the Orphan thread. I’ve certainly got some thoughts on @missrori‘s interesting post above
I’d be very down for a Penny Dreadful re-watch if there are people up for it. Once s12 is out of the way seems like an ideal time to pencil it in. I should think I’ll have the time to participate. (Sorry for not being around. It’s been the submission year for my PhD, so things have been a bit hectic elsewhere. Happy to say I’m now ‘a’ doctor, if not the ‘definitive article’….)13 January 2020 at 18:59 #69046Peace Frog @peacefrog
Good to know that I’m not the only person that enjoyed that show.
Wasn’t Frodo great in that? 🙂
Not to mention the entire rest of the cast.
I had no idea that was the problem. Same thing pretty much happened with Starz! version of Gaiman’s “American Gods”.
Which was a shame too. 🙁
Oh well, wouldn’t be the first time that happened to a show that I liked.
Warehouse 13, Person of Interest…..
Uh…..and the worst one of all.
Carnival. That was a unique, fun show to watch.13 January 2020 at 20:05 #69052
… she also recognised that people reacted to her superficially because of her looks, so her sense of self-worth was actually quite disturbed,
Yes to that. I have the impression that our reading of Lucy is not in fact very different; it’s just our understanding of the meaning of ‘depressed’. To me that word denotes clinical depression, and although I understand that this can go with feelings of a lack of self worth or give rise to them, they are not necessarily concomitant.
The symptoms of clinical depression don’t always include suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, but they do generally include a flattening and shutting down of emotional response and a difficulty of engaging fully with the outer world. I doubt if any sufferer could fake the degree of vivacity and animation that Lucy displayed unless they were on extremely effective medication – and there was no indication that this was the case*. It seems simpler to explain her behaviour as a conscious or unconscious way of masking and compensating for her feelings of insecurity.
*But with only limited experience to go on I’m no expert, and I’m open to correction.13 January 2020 at 21:12 #69057
@jimthefish Congrats Dr. Fish!
@mudlark – I got the impression Lucy was self-medicating with (illegal) drugs and drink, so that enabled her to party “vivaciously” whilst being depressed inside. But, I am not a clinician, likewise.
Either way, we can perhaps agree, she was “in love with death” because she was unhappy, on some deep level, with herself.18 January 2020 at 17:24 #69205
I just realised, that Sacha Dhawan was also in Sherlock, in The Six Thatchers, as Ajay (one of Mary’s old assasin gang) as well as being in Dracula and now Doctor Who,
In S4 of Sherlock, things were definitely not what they seemed, especially because of Culverton and his mind-wipe/ alteration drug TD-12.
In Dracula Part 2, as I said before, things were not what they seemed either, as Van Helsing eventually realised, her chess game with Dracula was in her mind while he was eating her. Also Sacha Dhawan’s character was a doctor who had prepared a deadly drug for his daughter to take, rather than let her be eaten by Dracula.
If Who was still being show-run by Moffat I’d say Sacha Dhawan’s casting as the Master in light of these other two scenarios should seriously lead us to consider whether things are not as they seem in S12 of Who.
Could the Master have drugged the TARDIS or the Doctor in some way?
But, as this is the Chibnall era, this may be a dead end. On the other hand…18 January 2020 at 18:34 #69207
@jimthefish congratulations, Doctor! Frankly I lack your willpower, I’ve posted more on here when I was working on my undergraduate degree, and now that I’m working on my postgraduate degree than I did the couple of years when I wasn’t studying.18 January 2020 at 20:11 #69208
Allow me to join @miapatrick and @juniperfish in congratulating you on the award of your doctorate! I had somehow missed that when reading the posts. Given the erudite argumentation of your posts over the years, it all makes sense. While you will, not doubt, continue to be known on these boards as @jimthefish, I will, inevitably, like @juniperfish, tend to think of you as Dr. Fish.18 January 2020 at 21:29 #69210
As I don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime and so didn’t watch Good Omens when first shown, it has been one of the more cheering discoveries of the post-Christmas season to find Good Omens being shown on BBC. Enough, along with the new series of Doctor Who of course, to rouse me temporally from my seasonal dormouse syndrome torpor at any rate.19 January 2020 at 23:09 #6924621 January 2020 at 00:01 #69277
Just a shout-out to one of the most perfectly-cast roles I’ve seen recently.
There’s a show called The Tick (I’ve been watching it on Amazon).
Not all the characters are perfectly cast.
Take a bow Peter Serafinowicz!
He is completely awesome as The Tick and every second that big-blue-battler-of-brigands is on screen, has made me laugh out loud.
And sometimes, that’s all you need.
;¬)24 January 2020 at 02:28 #69352
Just watched the first episode of “Star Trek: Picard”. I thought it was simply brilliant.
In the spirit of Data, I am still processing, and may offer further thoughts later, but I have not been this impressed by a sequel to a show–any show–as much as this.25 January 2020 at 01:43 #69359winston @winston
@blenkinsopthebrave We watched it here and we both liked it. Patrick Stewart is so good and it was good to see Brent Spiner as Data. Its 20 or so years later and Picard has retired to the family vineyard in France with his dog who is called Number One. ( My daughter has a dog called Riker )It was a great start and I look forward to the rest of the series.25 January 2020 at 02:41 #69360
Yes, it was good, wasn’t it. What I particularly liked about it was the way it was simultaneously true to the spirit of the original, but had moved on, as it were, to capture the anxieties of the present. Visually, it was superb, but I am sure that is partly the result of the money available for a show like that in the US. But much more than that, the whole idea of how they wanted to set Picard in a new world was done extremely well. There was the scene, for example, when he is being interviewed for TV and is asked about the failed rescue of the Romulans, where the attitude of the interviewer is that they did not deserve to be rescued and he explains to the interviewer that it was like Dunkirk. That was what they were trying to do. And then has to point out, despairingly, that the interviewer has no knowledge of what Dunkirk was. I just loved that.2 February 2020 at 03:20 #69529
Just reporting in on the second episode of “Star Trek:Picard”. Continue to think it is brilliant. Unlike the esisodic structure ST:NG, this is designed as a 10 part story. With episode 2 it is being set up as a spy story in space (and on Earth). Sort of le Carre for the 24th century. Like the first episode it is true to the spirit of NG, yet captures the realities of a changed world. In many respects I find myself thinking of the way “Who” has attempted to do the same, sometimes more successfully than others. So far, I think “Picard” is doing it very successfully.6 February 2020 at 21:04 #69588
I’m thinking about watching the Picard series, but wondered if you had thoughts on which Trek films/ episodes I should watch first.
I’ve seen a random selection of Star Trek, never a full series. So if you happen to know a storyline that might make sense to watch (in terms of Picard) or film where its kinda necessary to know so-and-so did this, I’d be grateful.
However, that might also be like someone asking “hey – I want to watch this thing called Doctor Who. What should I watch first?” and the answer being ‘dive in, they’ll use exposition (sometimes well and sometimes clumsily!)’.
;¬)6 February 2020 at 22:01 #69590
Yes indeed. Without a doubt, I would suggest you watch the two-part story “The Best of Both Worlds”. The first episode was at the end of Season 3 and the second episode opened Season 4. In terms of who Picard is, what he stands for, and what he has experienced, this is the perfect background viewing for the new “Picard”.
Then, once you start watching “Picard”, you can always go back and watch other Next Generation episodes.7 February 2020 at 02:33 #69594winston @winston7 February 2020 at 03:00 #69595
Just watched episode 3 of “Picard”. It was simply brilliant. I have not seen a TV show for years that is as good as this. As Mrs Blenkinsop said, after the credits came up: “It’s all in the writing.”
And it’s true.7 February 2020 at 17:52 #69601
@blenkinsopthebrave – thank you so much for this!
Will watch these ones specifically.
I’ve seen random ST Next Generation episodes but probably not the later ones, so was curious if there were storylines that would enrich (or make sense of!) the new series.
Might even watch something tonight! Thanks again9 February 2020 at 13:54 #69620
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