Sunday, 31 May 2015

Starcat and Scary Cat Can Has Been Assigned (Part Three)

Starcat and Scary Cat review Sapphire & Steel: Assignment Three

The pre-titles sequence is interesting and sets this story apart from Assignments One and Two right from the outset because while they had mystery and ghost story setups respectively, this one puts its science fiction, time-travel element out there even before Sapphire and Steel show up, with Rothwyn's narrated exposition. This engaged Starcat's interest right from the start.

Once they do appear, it seems Sapphire and Steel have had more of a briefing than previously, judging by the discussion they have of their mission. They remain separate from the guest characters throughout parts 1, 2 and 3 so for the most part only have each other to talk to.

The scene where Rothwyn gets overwhelmed with images of abbatoirs, butchers, etc. when handling noms makes The Two Doctors look subtle by comparison (Starcat would like to make it clear that this is not a compliment). What is quite subtle is the way the items that move all have animal components - some early foreshadowing of the eventual resolution going on there. We didn't see any socks moving around, but maybe that would have been too blatant.

At the end of part 1 Steel is attacked by a birdy, which looks quite good because it is on film, and is shot quite well by the director. The birdy is very very realistic except for the fact that it is a baddy. Mr Purple Cat, our expert on birdys, says that it should have been a gull instead of a swan if it was a bad birdy.

In part 2 a tiny manny is turned into a big manny and he becomes the baddy for most of the middle of the story.

In part 3 Silver arrives to help Sapphire and Steel. Silver is played by David Collings and he is practically perfect in the role, a great addition to the cast. Because Sapphire has been vanished at this point he only interacts with Steel to begin with, and the story begins to liven up after dragging a bit in part 2.

Once Silver arrived Big Gay Longcat joined us to watch the rest because he likes David Collings from other things (most recently Doctor Who's Revenge of the Cybermannys). He thought Silver was like a suave Vila, with his breaking them into the capsule and then acting cowardly at the thought of facing what's in there with them. His reaction to Steel's "you want to stay in here - alone?" is also very like something silly Vila might do.

Scary Cat wasn't enjoying Assignment Three nearly as much as the first two Assignments to begin with, but it really gets going in its second half. At the end of part 4 Silver gets disappeared by the big tiny manny before Sapphire and Steel can defeat it in part 5 and bring him back. In fact the cliffhanger at the end of part 5 is Silver scaring Sapphire and Steel because they don't know he's back, which doesn't work very well because the viewers do know it.

At the end Sapphire, Silver and Steel meet Rothwyn and Eldred who are mannys from the future. They are useless mannys because they come from a horrible, bleak, dystopian future where there are no animals - not even cats! - so they have nothing to do except use their thumbs to travel in time.

Sapphire, Silver and Steel turn their backs on Eldred and Rothwyn because they are not nice in thinking there is nothing wrong with there being no cats in the future. They are sent backforward to live without cats as punishment and that wraps up the plot.

Then there is a final twist as Silver reveals there was a mouse in the capsule, meaning the mouse must have been a time traveller too, so if there are mouses in the future then there is hope that there will be cats too! If mouses can invent time machines then cats definitely can.

Starcat and Scary Cat were divided on this story. It is Starcat's favourite so far, he liked the science fiction story and Silver. It is Scary Cat's least favourite of the first three Assignments, since it is not as scary as the other two and the first three parts are not as engaging as the rest.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Eurovision 2015

Yesterday we had the biggest, best and most fabulous cat party of the year, for Eurovision!

This year it was won by Sweden with a great song by Måns Zelmerlöw, narrowly beating the Russian baddys into second place. I was a happy cat that Sweden won, he deserved it and was helped by his cartoon manny friends.

I also liked the songs by Israel and Italy and Poland, but I thought the United Kingdom entry was the best even though I am in United Kingdom so couldn't vote for them even if I had thumbs to use the telephone to vote.

I thought the United Kingdom song was the most fun this year. Sadly there were no comedy or silly songs at all this year, and lots that were treating Eurovision as Serious Business.

I was disappointed that hardly any mannys in Eurovision agreed with me, as United Kingdom only got 5 votes from the whole of Europe. They must have just thought that other songs were even more fabulous, which I don't think any cat could really complain about as all of the songs were fabulous in lots of different ways.

Although maybe that does explain why some mannys in United Kingdom want to leave the European Broadcasting Union (EBU for short, sometimes EU for even shorter), then they could set up a Commonwealthvision Song Contest with United Kingdom, Australia and whoever else is in the Commonwealth... Israel and Azerbaijan maybe, I'm not sure.

Even then, United Kingdom probably still wouldn't win.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermannys Part Four

Harry Mailer stops Harry Sullivan in time before he blows them all up with the Doctor's cyberbomb. Tom Baker auditions for the part of Augustus in I Claudius when he shouts at the top of his voice "IS THERE ANYONE IN ROME WHO HAS NOT SLEPT WITH MY DAUGHTER!!!!!" "HARRY SULLIVAN IS AN IMBECILE!!!!!" and it is loud enough that even BRIAN BLESSED would be at least a bit impressed.

Harry Mailer blows himself and the cybermannys up by taking off his own cyberbomb, which frees the others from their bombs and stops me from being confused as to which Harry is which. The Doctor persuades Tyrum and Vorus to give him 15 minutes to go back to Nerva and rescue Sarah before they take him off the case and launch their rocket.

The cyberleader wants to crash Nerva into Voga and then blow it up with more cyberbombs. He must have only just thought of this plan because otherwise he would probably have done it already instead of sending the Doctor and the other mannys to Voga with cyberbombs.

When the aliens see Nerva coming towards them Vorus launches his rocket and Tyrum shoots him too late to stop him. There is some subtext about Tyrum being a democratically elected leader and Vorus wanting to be some sort of fuhrer of the aliens instead of him, but even with such good actors as Kevin Stoney and David Collings in the roles this is not sufficiently developed to make the aliens' society interesting. Vorus's last line is
"My skystriker! My glory!"

After rescuing Sarah, the Doctor stays on Nerva to stop the cyberleader's plan, but they get captured again and, as punishment, they get massaged by the cybermannys and then left on Nerva to be blown up while the cybermannys evacuate in their own spaceship.

The Doctor 'phones Voga up and tells the Commander how to steer the rocket so it misses Nerva and blows up the cybermannys' spaceship instead. Then the Doctor makes Nerva miss Voga so the day is saved.

The TARDIS turns up and Harry teleports up to Nerva so they can all leave in the TARDIS in a very abrupt ending.

This last episode feels a bit rushed, especially at the very end. Most of the dramatic climax hinges on rockets, spaceships and planets either hitting each other or not hitting each other as required, but the visual effects are not up to the job of conveying this satisfactorily. When this is the case in Doctor Who, as it quite often is, the burden falls on the actors to act and react convincingly to make up for the lack of impressive effects, but because this is rushed they are unable to fully do so here.

For the story as a whole the biggest problem is that it is divided between too may sets of underdeveloped characters. In addition to the Doctor, Harry (Sullivan is an imbecile) and Sarah, there is (1) the Commander and Harry Mailer (oh, he's actually called Lester in this, I am a silly cat), (2) Kellman, (3) Vorus's alien faction, (4) Tyrum's alien faction, and (5) the cybermannys themselves. The result is that the cybermannys don't actually do very much in the story, which is a shame because it is supposed to be all about their revenge. Mew.

So, yes, Revenge of the Cybermannys has its faults, but it is enjoyable and pretty entertaining despite them. Tom Baker is great in all of his bits, as you would expect, and none of the actors let the side down. There are many worse Doctor Who stories, but there are also plenty that are better.

While it is hard to tell because so much of The Daleks' Master Plan has its pictures missing, I think Revenge of the Cybermannys is, sadly, almost certainly the worst Doctor Who story with Kevin Stoney in it.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermannys Part Three

The Doctor and the other mannys who were shot are not dead, only having sleeps. Kellman doesn't get shot by cybermannys because he is on their side. He tries to help them by searching the Doctor's pockets to look for clues, but he only finds jelly babies and other Doctor noms.

Harry and Sarah meet Tyrum, who is still being played by Kevin Stoney even though he is wasted in this role when he could have been in much better parts in much better stories around this time. He was in I Claudius the year after this was made, and I doubt he got the part of Thrasyllus on the back of Revenge of the Cybermannys. Harry and Sarah fill Tyrum in on the plot up to this point.

I don't know why Harry Mailer, the Doctor and the Commander are sitting like monkeys in this bit, maybe they did it for lols or to confuse the cybermannys?

The Doctor tries to find out the cybermannys' plan. He provokes the cyberleader with lines like
"You have no home planet, no influence, nothing. You're just a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship."
The cyberleader gets quite emotional and hits the Doctor, but it is a trick so the Doctor can steal one of their cyberbombs. This doesn't get him far though, as another cybermanny sneaks up on the Doctor and captures him again. Even though his escape attempt has failed, the Doctor continues to troll the cyberleader even as he is being told their plan.

"Our calculations indicate that two bombs, placed in the central fissure of Voga, will fragmentize the planet."
"Fragmentize? Oh well, I suppose we can't expect decent English from a machine."

Clearly the Doctor has been to the future and seen the internets.

The Doctor, the Commander and Harry Mailer are made to wear the cyberbombs and are sent down to Voga. The cybermannys that go with them are attacked by aliens but the cybermannys' pewpewpew guns are too powerful for the aliens and they go

Kellman teleports down to Voga and is captured by aliens. It turns out Kellman is a double agent, he knows about Vorus's rocket and wants to blow the cybermannys up too. He tells Tyrum about it and tries to get the aliens to work together against the cybermannys.

Kellman goes off with Harry to try and stop the cyberbombs from blowing the planet up, while Sarah escapes and teleports back to Nerva.

The Doctor, the Commander and Harry Mailer are still wearing the cyberbombs because they will explode if they try to take them off, and they are on a countdown to explode anyway! This makes for an exciting and suspenseful scenario, just the sort of thing that Terry Nation would do (as often as possible). They are trying to find a way to escape from the bombs when a lot of rocks fall on them.

Harry and Kellman are nearby and rocks fall on them too. Kellman goes

Harry finds the Doctor having sleeps, and he goes to take the bomb off him. Harry doesn't know this will make it explode - oh noes!

This is a big improvement on part two, with more happening and much better pacing. The Doctor's scenes with the cyberleader are good, as is the ratcheting up of the tension over the bombs. Because they don't explode (in this episode at least), the cyberbombs are being used in the Hitchcockian 'suspense v surprise' style, and are very effective as a result.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermannys Part Two

Sarah has been pounced on by a cybermouse and nomed, and she gets lines and lines on her face from the poison. The Doctor kills the cybermouse using Kellman's gold dust and then teleports Harry and Sarah to Voga because teleporting is the antidote to the poison, I think. Sarah is alright but they are immediately captured by aliens.

On Nerva, Harry Mailer captures Kellman. The Doctor finds out how he controls the cybermouses and uses one to scare Kellman. I wouldn't be scared of a mouse, not even a cybermouse, because I am a cat.

On Voga, Vorus meets with Tyrum and...

It's Kevin Stoney!

Tyrum is played by Kevin Stoney, although his eyebrows are concealed by his alien mask so he is not as distinctive as usual. Harry and Sarah escape, are shot at by alien guards and chased on location. They are then captured by a second group of aliens on Tyrum's side.

On Nerva, the cybermannys' ship docks and the cybermannys board. The Commander and Harry Mailer are shot after their own guns have no effect, and then the cybermannys shoot the Doctor as a cliffhanger ending.

Even the presence of Kevin Stoney can't make this episode exciting. The fighting between Vorus and Tyrum's alien factions makes up quite a lot of the run time, but it is not tied in to the other plots sufficiently well to engage my cat interest. Harry and Sarah setting off the two factions against each other just by their accidental presence is something that Doctor Who does much better at other times, such as Carnival of Monsters or Caves of Androzani.

The Doctor scaring Kellman is a good scene, but the Doctor doesn't do much else and there are scenes where he's just standing around. As the cybermannys take their time in order to arrive just before the end, it gives the whole episode a disappointing sense of filling up the time to get ready for the next part.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Rainbow Coalition

Yesterday was the cat election. The results were as follows:

Big Gay Longcat - 1 vote
Gamma Longcat - 1 vote
Starcat - 1 vote
Scary Cat - 1 vote
Mr Purple Cat - 1 vote
Emo Cat - 1 vote
Expensive Luxury Cat - 1 vote
Kitten - 1 vote

This eight-way tie was exactly as the exit poll predicted, because cats always vote for themselves. This means that, as usual, no Prince of Cats has been elected, but at least all cats' votes count. (Teh satires!111)

The doggies also held an election, in which Puppy received all four votes and was returned as Captain of Puppies for the Black Cushion constituency.

Mannys also held an election, in which the SNP did well. They are a Nationalist Party but they are not Socialist, because those two things do not go well together (oh no indeed). Their main policy is for mannys to have names of fish in order to confuse cats. Mew.

Elsewhere in Britain the CUP did well, meaning mannys will still have something to drink out of for the next five years. If you think that's a bad joke then you should have seen [fill in your own punchline about the manny election here].