Sunday, 15 January 2017

600th post

In days of old
When knights were bold
The story's told
Of Lancelot.

Before he was Ian Chesterton in Doctor Who, William Russell played Sir Lancelot in the TV series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. In it, he was so cool that Patrick McGoohan, one of the coolest mannys to have ever lived and been on TV, was a guest in his show.

This was in 1956 ("days of old" indeed), so it was made before Patrick McGoohan was even in Danger Man.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Death of Doctor Who

This is the ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny
Good guys, bad guys and explosions as far as the eye can see
And only one will survive, I wonder who it will be
This is

This is a very modern-sounding title for an episode of Doctor Who. It would fit right in alongside titles such as The Name of the Doctor or The Husbands of River Sue. In fact by referring to "Doctor Who", the name of the programme not the name of the main character, it is perhaps too modern even for that and so we need a new word to describe how beyond modern it is.

Both the TARDIS and the Dalek time machine are on the planet Mechanus, although only the Daleks and anyone who had seen this story before know what the planet is called at this point. The Doctor, Ian and Barbara explore while the Daleks send their evil robot fake Doctor out to look for them. Vicki escapes from their time machine while they are not looking.

The Doctor separates from Ian and Barbara, allowing the fake Doctor to sneak up behind them... or is it the real Doctor? I am a confused cat.

No, it is the real Doctor who has met up with them again straight away. They find a thing that they think is a weapon and which may or may not turn out to be useful later on, it is that kind of episode where I cannot tell if it is the characters who are making it up as they go along or if it is the writer.

Vicki meets the planet's native monsters and screams. The Doctor and Ian run off to look for her, separating from Barbara. The fake Doctor sticks his head up after they pass, an instance of very good timing as the Doctor is barely off the screen before he does so.

The Doctor and Ian find Vicki having sleeps, while the fake Doctor meets Barbara and takes her away so when the others get back to where they left her she is gone. When Vicki wakes up she tells them about the evil robot so they go to look for Barbara.

Barbara hears Ian calling and the fake Doctor attacks her. Ian arrives in time to chase it off and he tells her about the robot. Now everyone knows about the robot in time for them all to meet up and two Doctors come in at the same time. This is perfect dramatic timing and nobody knows which Doctor is the real one.

There's only one way to find out...


The real Doctor wins (of course) by imitating a Dalek voice saying "Stop! Do not kill!" so the robot does as it is told.

Being understandably sleepy after an exciting fight, they all have sleeps. Even Vicki who already had sleeps earlier - just like a cat would! A robot eye comes and looks at them sleep, foreshadowing an upcoming plot development.

When they wake up it is light and they can see a model of a city up in the sky. But before they can try to go to it, the Daleks arrive and funky '60s incidental music starts playing to indicate the situation is serious - they are trapped!

The Doctor, having earlier pretended to be a Dalek to fool the robot, now pretends to be the robot to fool a Dalek, but his ruse lasts for about 1 rel before failing:
"I have infiltrated and killed. We may now return to Skaro."
"You lie! You are not the robot!"

It looks like their last chance is to use the strange machine in a box that the TARDIS crew has been carrying around for the whole episode, but before they can do that they are saved by a strange new robot arriving through a door and telling them to "enter."
Ian voices what they are all thinking:
"You heard what the gentleman said. Let's go!"

So the episode ends not on the peril of the approaching Daleks, but on the mystery of who or what it is that has saved them.

This is an enjoyable episode, standing apart from the main plotline of The Chase because so much of it focuses on the side-plot of the evil robot fake Doctor. The Daleks are in the background, acting more like the masterminds behind a zany scheme-of-the-week to catch the Doctor. It is not so obvious which Dalek is going to be voted out of the Dalek Reality TV programme, but it is probably the one that came up with the robot plan in the first place.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Space-Tinker Space-Tailor Space-Soldier Star-Spy

Excerpts from the script for the 1977 movie of John Carré's 1974 novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, directed by George Lucas. Like most Hollywood adaptations, there were some alterations made in transitioning from page to screen.

Scene: exterior, streets of London

Guillam: "Max? Max! Boy am I glad to see you."

Smiley: "The London wastes are not to be traveled lightly. Tell me young Peter, what brings you out this far?"

Guillam: "Oh, this little droid! I think he's searching for his former master, but I've never seen such devotion in a droid before. He claims to be the property of a George Smiley. Is he a relative of yours? Do you know who he's talking about?"

Smiley: "George Smiley... George... Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time... a long time."

Guillam: "I think my uncle knew him. He said he was dead."

Smiley: "Oh, he's not dead. Not yet."

Guillam: "You know him?"

Smiley: "Well of course I know him. He's me! I haven't gone by the name George since... oh, before you were born."

Scene: interior, Smiley's Bywater Street home

Guillam: "You fought in the Cold War?"

Smiley: "Yes, I was once an intelligence officer the same as your father."

Guillam: "My father didn't fight in any wars. He was a navigator on a spice freighter."

Smiley: "That's what your uncle told you. He didn't hold with your father's ideals, thought he should have stayed here and not gotten involved."

Guillam: "I wish I'd known him."

Smiley: "He was the best scalphunter in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior. I understand you've become quite a good pilot yourself. And he was a good friend. Which reminds me, I have something here for you. Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it. He feared you might follow old George on some damned-fool idealistic crusade like your father did."

Guillam: "What is it?"

Smiley: "Your father's lighter. This is the weapon of an intelligence officer. Not as clumsy or as random as a firearm. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age. For over a thousand generations the Secret Intelligence Service was the guardian of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire."

Guillam: "How did my father die?"

Smiley: "A young agent named Karla, who I met once in Delhi, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the SIS. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the SIS is all but extinct. Karla was seduced by the dark side of the Force."

Guillam: "The Force?"

Smiley: "Well, the Force is what gives an agent his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

R2D2 attracts Smiley's attention.

Smiley: "Now, let's see if we can't figure out what you are, my little friend. And where you come from."

Guillam: "I saw part of the message he was..."

Flashback Scene: interior, Peter Guillam's uncle's shed

Guillam: "You got a lot of carbon scoring here. It looks like you boys have seen a lot of action."

C3PO: "With all we've been through, sometimes I'm amazed we're in as good condition as we are. What with the Rebellion and all."

Guillam: "You know of the Rebellion against the Empire?"

C3PO: "That's how we came to be in your service, if you take my meaning sir."

Guillam: "Have you been in many battles?"

C3PO: "Several, I think. Actually, there's not much to tell. I'm not much more than an interpreter, and not very good at telling stories. Well, not ones of any interest, anyway."

Guillam: "Well, my little friend, you've got something jammed in here real good. Were you on a star cruiser or..."

Lacon: "Help me, George Smiley, you're my only hope."

Guillam: "What's this?"

C3PO: "What is what? He asked you a question: what is that?"

Lacon: "Help me, George Smiley, you're my only hope. Help me, George Smiley, you're my only hope."

C3PO: "Oh, he says it's nothing, sir. Merely a malfunction. Old data. Pay it no mind."

Guillam: "Who is she? She's beautiful."

C3PO: "I'm afraid I'm not quite sure, sir. I think she was a passenger on our last voyage. A person of some importance, I believe. Our captain was attached to..."

Guillam: "Is there more of this recording?"

C3PO: "Behave yourself, Ricki. You're going to get us into trouble. It's all right, you can trust him. He's our new master."

R2D2 conveys a message to C3PO.

C3PO: "He says he is the property of George Smiley, a resident of these parts, and it's a private message for him. Quite frankly, sir, I don't know what he's talking about. Our last master was Captain Antilles, but with what we've been through, this little Ricki unit has become a bit eccentric."

Guillam: "George Smiley? I wonder if he means old Max?"

C3PO: "I beg your pardon, sir, but do you know what he's talking about?"

Guillam: "Well, I don't know anyone named George, but old Max lives out on Bywater Street. He's kind of a strange old hermit."

Scene continues: interior, Smiley's Bywater Street home

Smiley: "I seem to have found it."

Lacon: "George Smiley, years ago you served Control in the Cold War. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present Control's request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to bring you to the Circus has failed. I have placed information vital to safeguarding of the Service into the memory systems of this Ricki unit. Control will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him at the Circus. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, George Smiley, you're my only hope."

Smiley: "You must learn the ways of the Force, if you're to come with me to the Circus."

Guillam: "The Circus? I'm not going to join the Circus. I've got to get home, it's late, I'm in for it as it is."

Smiley: "I need your help, Peter. She needs your help. I'm getting too old for this sort of thing."

Guillam: "I can't get involved, I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it! But there's nothing I can do about it right now. Russia's such a long way from here."

Smiley: "That's your uncle talking."

Scene: interior, a dingy London pub

Esterhase: "Toby Esterhase, I'm captain of the Millennium Falcon. Skordeno here tells me you're looking for passage to the Circus."

Smiley: "Yes, indeed. If it's a fast ship."

Esterhase: "Fast ship? You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?"

Smiley: "Should I have?"

Esterhase: "It's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. I've outrun Imperial starships - not the local bulk-cruisers, mind you, I'm talking about the big Corellian ships now. She's fast enough for you, old man. What's the cargo?"

Smiley: "Only passengers. Myself, the boy, two droids, and no questions asked."

Esterhase: "What, is it some kind of local trouble?"

Smiley: "Let's just say we'd like to avoid any Imperial entanglements."

Esterhase: "Well, that's the real trick, isn't it? And it's going to cost you something extra: ten thousand, all in advance."

Guillam: "Ten thousand? We could almost buy our own ship for that!"

Esterhase: "You pay for Toby Esterhase, you get a Toby Esterhase service."

Smiley: "We can pay you two thousand now, plus fifteen when we reach the Circus."

Esterhase: "Seventeen? Okay, you guys got yourselves a ship. We'll leave as soon as you're ready. Docking bay 94."

Scene: interior, the Millennium Falcon

Guillam: "Boy it's lucky you had these compartments."

Esterhase: "I use them for smuggling. I never thought I'd be smuggling myself in them. This is ridiculous. Even if I could take off, we'd never get past the tractor beam."

Smiley: "Leave that to me."

Esterhase: "Damn fool. I knew you were going to say that."

Smiley: "Who's the more foolish, the fool or the man who follows him?"

Scene: interior, a prison cell in Delhi

Smiley enters and sees Karla opposite, his lighter already lit. Smiley also ignites his and steps forward.

Smiley: "Look, I am not offering you money or women or fast cars, you have no use for such things. And I am not going to make any claims about the moral superiority of the Republic. I’m sure you can see through our values, just as I can see through yours in the Empire. You and I have spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in each others systems. I’m sure each of us experienced innumerable technical satisfactions in our wretched Cold War. But now your own side is going to shoot you, for nothing! For misdemeanors you have not committed, because of a power struggle within your own kind, because of someone’s suspicions or sheer incompetence."

Karla says nothing.

Smiley: "You can't win, Karla. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

Karla strikes Smiley down, and takes his lighter. The one engraved "To George from Ann with all my love."