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The Hollywood Reporter

…right here.

Worlds collide,

-Shady

Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time, my good friend Kevin Kittridge reviews more Doctor Who DVDs. Enjoy!

Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space (BBC)

The last time we saw our hero the Doctor, the Time Lords had split him apart from his companions, stranded him on planet Earth, and were forcing regeneration upon him. A regeneration we didn’t get to see (which is obviously a disappointment), but I think it’s because they hadn’t cast the Third Doctor as of yet.

This episode is as close to a Doctor Who reboot as we’ve ever gotten, and that includes “Rose” which was the episode that reintroduced the series all the way back in 2005 (and also coincidentally featured the Autons).

We’ve got a new Doctor and new companions (although, yes, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is a character we’ve met before… calm down, nerds). Instead of traveling through time and space, the Doctor is stranded on Earth with a non-functioning TARDIS. Also, this is the first title to be shown in color.

According to the documentary on the DVD (Down to Earth), Doctor Who was near cancelation after the end of Patrick Troughton’s series. The revamp worked. While the last episode of “The War Games” pulled in about five million viewers, the total for all four episodes of Spearhead from Space came in at over eight million. The documentary also includes archive interview footage with Jon Pertwee as he discusses how he got the part and how he wanted to portray him.

Probably the nicest part of this special edition is the commentary, where we get appearances from both the late Nicholas Courtney and the recently passed Caroline John. It’s always great to hear the Brig’s calm and crisp voice. The DVD also includes a commentary from producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks, a short presentation on the transition from black and white to color, a wacky UNIT Recruitment spoof, and the usual photo gallery, trailers and PDF materials.

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (BBC)

The Seventh Doctor and Ace receive “junk mail” in the TARDIS inviting them to the circus. This story first aired during the ’88-’89 season… and that clown still freaks me out.

My favorite part of the included documentary (The Show Must Go On) is the discussion of the explosion. During shooting, Sylvester McCoy was instructed to leave the circus tent; he’s told that it will explode behind him, but to keep walking forward as if everything were normal. He trusts the production team and does so. Obviously, he is alright afterward (and the shot makes him look pretty badass), but the explosion is bigger than anyone expected… and probably a lot more dangerous.

And that’s my second favorite part of the DVD! My number-one favorite is an outtake where Sylvester McCoy swears because there’s noise going on outside during a take.

An extra documentary short titled Tomorrow’s Times is quite interesting. Anneke Wills hosts this look back at the way the British press reacted to this season—starting with their less-than-impressed opinions of Sylvester McCoy taking over the role—and how it improved over time.

The main joy of the commentary track comes from Ace herself, Sophie Aldred, but also includes Jessica Martin (Mags), Christopher Guard (Bellboy), writer Stephen Wyatt, script editor Andrew Cartmel, and composer Mark Ayres. And the whole thing is emceed by Toby Hadoke.

All in all, these discs are behind-the-scenes looks at two very different (but game-changing) eras of Doctor Who.

Check out Kevin’s other Doctor Who DVD reviews here and here!

Also be sure to visit Kevin’s blog, Don’t Panic!, here!

Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time, my good friend Kevin Kittridge reviews three Doctor Who DVDs. Enjoy!

A FOUR AND TWO SEVENS
By Kevin Kittridge


Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden (BBC)
(AKA Doctor Who: The Dark Side of Sid and Marty Kroftt)

The Story

Okay, so Sid and Marty Krofft didn’t actually have anything to do with this episode, but with all the drugs and people in big ugly monster suits you definitely wouldn’t be scoffed at for making the connection.

The Special Features

In The Nightmare of Television Centre, we get an extremely candid behind-the-scenes discussion on the technical aspect of making this episode. During the filming of the extra, even those responsible for the creation of the silly-looking monsters were realizing how goofy it all looked.

There’s an interview with writer Bob Baker who discusses the opportunity he had to write this episode. (How would you like to write a cheap Doctor Who?) He goes on to talk about the intricacies of writing a Doctor Who episode that deals with the illegal drug trade.

The Doctor’s Strange Love featurette documents three fans discussing the episode on the set of The Sarah Jane Adventures (BBC)… while sitting in front of Mr. Smith!

The commentary features Lalla Ward (Romana) and Toby Hadoke (among many others), who is best known for his one man show Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf.


Doctor Who: Dragonfire (BBC)

The Story

Mel —> Ace

Dragonfire shows one of those rare special moments where we witness the current companion (Mel) sharing her last episode with the new companion (Ace), essentially passing the torch to her replacement.

The Special Features

The disc features plenty of interesting, insider information in Fire and Ice (The Making of Dragonfire). Sophie Aldred (Ace) discusses how she got the part (which initially wasn’t supposed to be a recurring role) without ever actually having been on television before. Two huge things make this worth checking out:

1. Finding out what Ace’s name was supposed to be (I won’t spoil it), and…

2. …audition footage of Sylvester McCoy for the role of the Doctor, during which the role of “Assistant” is played by Janet Fielding (AKA the former Tegan Jovanka)! Very cool to see!

It’s also interesting to note that Sylvester pushed for certain elements of the audition (in which the assistant tells the Doctor that it is time for her to go) to be included in the real exit scene for Mel.

We get deleted/extended scenes, another discussion by fans in The Doctor’s Strange Love, a look at visual effects in the series, and a commentary track headlined by Sophie Aldred.


Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol (BBC)

The Story

Three words: The Kandy Man.

The Doctor and Ace arrive on a planet where it is illegal to be unhappy.

The Special Features

Happiness Will Prevail (The Making Of) discusses the not-so-thinly-veiled political turn in the show. Helen A was well known as a caricature of Margaret Thatcher. Sylvester McCoy has been quoted as saying, “Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered.”

Politics aside, there are some short (but extremely telling) clips that show McCoy offering suggestions on set as to how to improve the scene. Also, the guy playing the Kandy Man had an absolutely miserable time inside his costume.

When Worlds Collide examines the infusion of politics in the show throughout its history, and debates whether or not the show is the appropriate place for pushing political agendas.

Once again we are treated to audio commentary from Sophie Aldred and moderated by Toby Hadoke. Also included are an impressive photo gallery, as well as numerous extended and deleted scenes.

Check out Kevin’s first batch of Doctor Who DVD reviews here!

Also be sure to visit Kevin’s blog, Don’t Panic!, here!

…from Horror Happy Hour.

Dig it here.

Flattered,

-Shady

Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time around, my good friend Darby O’Gill reviews the “Torchwood: Miracle Day” four-disc set from the BBC. Enjoy!

Torchwood: Miracle Day (BBC)

Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) are back!

After the disbandment of Torchwood following the events of Children of Earth, Jack Harkness found himself wandering the galaxy looking for answers, if not forgiveness, and Gwen and her husband Rhys moved to an isolated cottage in Wales to raise their daughter away from the madness of the world.

It was only a matter of time before an unforeseen event would undoubtedly bring these two together again, and that event came to be known as “Miracle Day.” It’s the day when no one died. Not a single person. All across the globe, the sick and injured continued to live. And the next day, and the next, and the next, as if the entire planet had become immortal over night.

Well, not the entire planet.

Earth’s one immortal man from the future, Captain Jack Hackness, realizes he is once again just a mere mortal man, and that whoever–or whatever–is behind the miracle wants Torchwood out of the picture once and for all.

The concept behind Torchwood: Miracle Day is great. It makes you realize just how fast our systems and governments would fall apart if an event like this were ever to actually happen. The camps and the treatment of the undead–or “Category Ones” as they’re called on the show–would be unreal. It’s funny to think about just how quickly the rich and powerful can adapt to creating a system that would benefit their needs and interests.

Did I say funny? I meant sad.

As great as the story is, one might say (and by “one” I mean a Doctor Who fan) that the story is far too big of an event for the Torchwood team to handle alone, and I would agree. I think something of this scale would warrant the Doctor’s attention, but that’s merely a nerd’s gripe. My biggest problem with the series is that that it took ten episodes to tell this story. It really only should have been about six. I understand that creator Russell T. Davies wanted the story to unfold in a very true and believable manner, but this series was introducing the Torchwood franchise to a much wider U.S. audience, and I think it ultimately hurt them in the long run.

With that being said, I like that they didn’t just reboot the show in America the same way they did with Being Human or Skins. I’m glad they simply created a story that would bring the surviving Torchwood team members to the States.

The new American cast members were also outstanding. Bill Pullman’s portrayal of the murdering pedophile Oswald Danes is amazing. Mekhi Phifer and Alexa Havins effortlessly gel their way into the team dynamic. And Barrowmen and Myles are as strong as ever. It’s great to see just how far Gwen Cooper has developed as a character over the last few years.

Torchwood: Miracle Day might not be the strongest of the series’ ventures, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Visit Darby’s blog, Darby’s Secret Stash, here!

Then go ahead and read another guest reviewer post here!

Every once in awhile “The Blarg” gets stuff sent in for review consideration. I’m not always the best person to review said material, so occassionally I’ll find an appropriate person (i.e., close friend) to write a review for me.

I get a post out of it. They get some free stuff. Everyone is happy!

This time around, my good friend Kevin Kittridge reviews two new Doctor Who DVDs from the BBC. Enjoy!

Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters (BBC)

The Story

Freed from his exile on Earth, the Doctor finally is allowed to travel through time anywhere in space… but he and Jo are in danger of being trapped in a much smaller environment!

The Special Features

One of my favorite extras is the all-too-short behind-the-scenes footage that shows the director’s control room. There’s something fun about the juxtaposition of these very serious people at their control boards as they call off cues to actors while wonderfully silly monsters take directions on the screens in front of them. There’s also a fun 1970’s demonstration of green screening (here they use the old-fashioned blue screen) while using models as a landscape.

I very much enjoyed the trailer for the upcoming DVD release of Nightmare of Eden. They made it look really badass!

Less badass and more silly is the making-of featurette (titled “Destroy All Monsters”) which is presented in a quirky style that reminded me of the old Adam West Batman shows. Katy Manning appeared to be having a lot of fun as she recalled the filming of the episode, and she includes an anecdote with Jon Pertwee where they essentially steal the compass off the boat they’re filming on so it can be kept as a memento. She also demonstrates her chicken impression, which is only slightly disturbing.

Also included is a segment on Ian Marter; it outlines both the man himself and his writing of the Target novelizations. I collected those Target Doctor Who books as a kid, so I found it fascinating that Harry Sullivan himself had written some of them.

Another over-the-top (in a fun way) segment is one on the many tech toys that are featured throughout the series. Titled “The A-Z of Gadgets and Gizmos,” the segment isn’t just limited to the sonic screwdriver. The chameleon circuit, the fault detector (which certainly must be faulty itself) and many others are also featured.

The special features wrap up with commentaries from the always delightful Katy Manning and Barry Letts, as well as an alternate commentary from the actors who played Pletrac and Shima. A standard photo gallery finishes it up.

In all, this set offers plenty for those looking to get their third Doctor fix.

Doctor Who: The Dæmons (BBC)

The Story

The Master summons a demon to gain its power… and rule the world!

I love the Master, especially the (original) Roger Delgado version. I just wanted to point that out. Moving on…

The Dæmons is like a Doctor Who version of Supernatural: evil people (The Master) summoning demons, etc. But the difference is that on Supernatural the demons are actually demons, whereas on Doctor Who the demons and ghosts are almost always aliens.

The Special Features

The making-of featurettes are great; they offer new transitions and intros that really add to the overall presentation. In this one they share that Katy Manning’s audition for Jo Grant was based off a scene from this story, which surprised her when she finally read the entire script five episodes after landing the part.

Also featured is a segment on Barry Letts, who was the executive producer on the show for the vast majority of the third Doctor’s episodes. He also cast who would become perhaps the most iconic Doctor: Tom Baker as Doctor number four.

The set also includes commentary from Katy Manning, Richard Franklin, Damaris Hayman and director Christopher Barry, as well as a piece on the digital restoration of The Dæmons and the always fun photo gallery.

Visit Kevin’s blog, Don’t Panic!, here!

Last week, KB and I had an opportunity to see filmmaker Mark Wexler’s new documentary “How to Live Forever.” This week (or as soon as possible), you should do the same. Check out the trailer:

Despite the film’s (and humanity’s) obsession with death, “How to Live Forever” is more about life and how we as humans choose to live it. Going into the film, KB was nervous the documentary might come across as preachy or bursting with an agenda. The film does neither of these things, instead choosing to show many different people from numerous walks of life, each sharing their own philosophies on how to get the most out of whatever amount of years they’re given. For some, their secret is exercising every day and avoiding red meat; for others, it’s smoking as much as possible and regularly enjoying a pint. And remarkably, even though each side contradicts the other, the film manages to make both views seem right.

Sparked by the death of his mother, Wexler spent three years traveling the world and interviewing people about their thoughts on achieving two things most humans hope for: to live as long as possible and get the most out of our time here. From senior celebrities (Ray Bradbury and Phyllis Diller) to members of the science community (biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey and “Guru Giggler” Dr. Madan Kataria) to everyday people (the citizens of Okinawa, Japan and “LA Weekly” food critic Jonathan Gold), “How to Live Forever” is filled with many different theories on how to cheat (or at least prolong) death. And of course, the ones filled with booze, sex and laughter come across as the most appealing. The ones filled with daily exercise and puréed vegetable drinks? Not so much.

But that’s exactly what’s great about the documentary, that it doesn’t kowtow to any one view or answer. Like life itself, the philosophy of “whatever works for you is fine by me” is the overall message of “How to Live Forever.” And isn’t that just as it should be? Because, in the end, how each of us inevitably meet our maker is far less important than how we lived our lives up until that one fateful moment.

Learn how to live forever here, then head out to your local theater and learn how others have chosen to do it as well.

I wanna be Buster,

-Shady

(Click on the images below for a larger version.)

Thanks to Jorge for passing this one along.

World of Whorecraft,

-Shady

…for “OC Weekly” right here.

They were also kind enough to feature a slideshow of some of my shots from the night right here.

Thanks to Dwellephant for flying in for it,

-Shady

Want proof? Check out these three books that the fine folks at Scholastic sent my way for review:

Star Wars: ABC
If you know me at all you know I’m not a Star Wars fan. Not only am I not a fan, but I haven’t even seen all of the original trilogy (I still can’t get through “The Empire Strikes Back.” I know, I know: “It’s the best one.” Whatever, it’s BORING!), let alone the three nightmares that followed over the last decade. But with that being said, this young-reader picture book is fun for kids. Each page features a letter of the alphabet along with a Star Wars visual comparison. You know: C is for C-3PO. E is for Ewok. You get the picture. Kids will eat it up, which is exactly why I gave it to my nephew. Hopefully he’ll enjoy it for the next few years and then move on to something else because, you know, N is for Nerd, and V is for Virgin.

Star Wars: Millennium Falcon 3-D Owners’ Guide
Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon may not be real but you wouldn’t know it based on this book. This interactive and technical guide peels away the Falcon layer by layer revealing the gadgets, gizmos and inner workings of the franchise’s best vehicle. Okay, that’s not entirely true because everyone knows the speeder bike is Star Wars’ coolest vehicle, but whatever. The book is geared toward younger kids, but because of its attention to detail it can be appreciated by people as old as the age of living-in-my-mom’s-basement-and-working-at-Wendy’s. The “3-D” in the title may be a little misleading; you don’t need a pair of red-and-blue glasses to enjoy the book. Instead, the Falcon is “built” down into the book in a three-dimensional way so that when you turn a page a layer of the vehicle is peeled off, revealing the next layer beneath. When I was a kid this would have impressed the hell out of me. Now, as a balding 33-year-old man… yeah, it’s still pretty fun.

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Doug TenNapel (creator of Earthworm Jim) is back with this original graphic novel that takes readers to the world of the dead. Let me set it up for you: Frank Gallows wrangles ghosts from the world of the living back to Ghostopolis. When one of his ghost busts goes wrong and Gallows accidentally brings a living child, Garth Hale, to the afterlife with him, he soon discovers that Hale possess special powers. Of course, this doesn’t bode well with the evil rulers of Ghostopolis. And then the real adventure begins! Unlike a lot of graphic novels today, Ghostopolis is a unique story that hasn’t been told before. TenNapel’s cartoon background brought this book to life for me, literally, as I could see many of the scenes playing out as if they were animated. (Don’t be surprised when that becomes a reality.) Similar in tone and look to his earlier OGNs (Tommysaurus Rex, Monster Zoo, etc.), TenNapel repeats his previous success with this interesting story of the afterlife.

S is for,

-Shady

Old Poop!