DC and Marvel origins pt 2

It’s an interesting contrast in talking about DC comics’ Silver Age heroes origins as opposed to Silver Age Marvel. Usually through magic, extraterrestrial involvement or nature, the DC pantheon were all beautiful god’s, fighting for justice, beloved by everyone. No doubt picking up the baton from the previous generations heroes in the Golden Age, the new heroes patrolled their fictional cities. They were also almost perfect people in every way.

With Marvel, it was usually a matter of various types of irradiation, creating monsters or freakish abilities in the heroes. The Marvel characters were much like real people, with real problems and worries who had to deal with their human frailties as well as learning to control their very dangerous powers. By and large, they were also easily distrusted by the populace of their home city, a very real New York. The whole set up was mostly a carry over from Marvel’s earlier days when its primary writer Stan Lee would pen monster comics in the ’50’s. 

DC would feature Superman, the strongest guy on the planet, Batman, the world’s greatest detective, Flash, the fastest man alive and Green Lantern, who had the most powerful weapon in the universe and things were usually swell!

Marvel had the Fantastic Four, a group that got blasted by cosmic rays in outer space and consisted of a stretchy scientist, a meek blonde, a hot headed teen and a monster– all of whom would fight amongst themselves. Spider-man, bitten by a radioactive spider, was a teenager who had all the worries and problems of every other teen and then some, including a frail aunt with a serious heart condition. Bruce Banner got caught in the blast of a gamma ray powered H-bomb and became the monstrous Hulk. Weapons manufacturer Tony Stark was injured and taken prisoner by an enemy government and kept captive while forced to make weapons for his captors. All the while trying to create a device that would stop shrapnel from reaching his heart. Thus was born Ironman, a mighty, armored suit that liberated him and was also the only thing keeping him alive. The X-men, meanwhile, were mutants, who were feared and hated by the people they were sworn to protect. 

DC — very clean, neat and tidy. 

Marvel — very human, messy, real. 

Some might say, “But Rick, what about comic characters outside of the big two?”

I say “Not interested”. I’m a mainstream guy. 

And really, the paths taken by the big two are just very interesting to me. Two very different companies that used to be very very different but hugely successful. *And* they fed off each other. DC (National) was large and in charge from the late ’30’s to 1960. Marvel (Timely) publisher Martin Goodman heard about how much money DC was making off Justice League of America, so he told Stan Lee to come up with a superhero team. Stan worked up The Fantastic Four, hired Jack Kirby to bring the visuals to life on the page and thus began the Marvel Age of Comics. A house of ideas that was so different, so real, that became SO huge and popular, that DC eventually had to start following *their* example, and back and forth things went. 

So DC begat Marvel, who begat a new DC and back and forth it went to this day. 

DWS12.8: The Haunting of Villa Diodati

I think I’ll just be happy when the season’s done, which is sad but there you go. Sometimes it’s a chore to watch under this showrunner but I find I can’t abandon it. Anyway…

Usually, before watching the new ep, I have to dodge the DWC and FB to steer clear of opinions. This time, I took a sneak peak ahead of just the voting and although there were only about 20 votes, 70% was 5/5, so that seemed hopeful. 

Having watched the ep, the first impressions for me would be A) another good set up episode, which this season seems to excel at. This time for the big Cyber two part finale. B) seemingly less Chibnall writing all around, which helped. Better over all interaction between characters, more or less. No blunt object messages flying about. 

The first half was harmless enough, spooky house, the TARDIS crew barging in on the  villa– which really is the height of rudeness as they’re specifically and knowingly crashing a private party, just to “make sure they write like they’re supposed to”. And then Jodie gets all judgmental when she finds them goofing off. She has met writers before, hasn’t she? I think so. 

I know that it’s supposed to viewed as an incredibly important writer’s weekend at the villa but yeah, kind of ridiculous that Jodie just decides to show up there to freeload for no good reason and oh! something funny is going on, what a coincidence. Ghosts AND a Cyberman! But aside from that, I can’t really find it in me to place a ton of importance on the future of humanity all depending on this weekend. More on that later.

Funny thing– the crawling, choking, skeleton hands, I totally forgot all about them as soon as the Cyberman showed up. I mean, I know Shelley was in the basement making the house fool people, ala perception filters but I can’t even remember what the deal was with the hands or if we ever got a good reason as to why they were crawling around choking Ryan (except good taste, I guess). I’ll get to the stooges soon enough.

It’s very rare to see an interesting Cyberman– that’s almost unheard of, so kudos here. As soon as he showed up, everything else was forgotten. I found it interesting that he killed the nanny, and Fletcher, but not the baby. Thank god he didn’t of course, as that seemed to be a weakness that Mary was trying to exploit later when talking to him, until of course he turned the tables and he went on to talk about slitting his own children’s throats, so…why didn’t he kill the baby?  Too harsh for the kiddies in the audience I’m thinking, although mentioning he slit his own kid’s throats was okay?

So the ending was interesting to me as far as the interplay between Jodie and the pets. Sure, it established we have a big two parter coming, fine. I felt some of Jodie’s reasoning was a bit in and out. Ryan had a point about saving Shelley’s life at the cost of untold millions in the future. Jodie counters with Shelley inspiring countless thousands of others in the future… well…sorry, that seems a bit flimsy. Sure, him being killed might affect the timeline, OR maybe not at all. What about Fletcher and the nanny? Nah, servants — who cares? At the very least, the debate could have raged on but Jodie put her foot down and muzzled the pets. She also let a good chunk of her annoyance show once again when her judgment was questioned by Ryan. This week, her lesson was delivered with anger — and I do find it odd that the only times I find her emoting with any real passion, real honesty, was when she saw Gallifrey dead and when she lashes out at the pets.

As for Yaz, she was around. Ryan was his usual useless self, but he did manage to get out his trademark line about getting it all sorted, bless his heart. Graham was once again comic relief. Have you noticed that we’ve grown accustomed to them stumbling around blindly? Just part of the furniture and it’s kind of a relief this week that there wasn’t some horrific social message, gaffe or insult? Made the whole enterprise seem nicer. More “consequence free”. I do worry about the possibility of letting the show wear one down so that one starts “getting used” to the way things are and mistaking it for massive creative improvement. 

As for Jodie, aside from another flash of annoyance at Ryan, she once again tries to ditch the cosmic barnacles so she can go after the Cybermen at the end but they remain attached to the hull. I think we’ve already seen the best of what Jodie brings to the table, much like we’ve seen the best of what Chibs has to offer. The best thing I can say about her is that Jodie plays the part of the character known as “The Doctor”. 

So, to sum up, decent set up for the finale, at least no preaching, abandoned ghost story, interesting Cyberman, companions still useless, Jodie still trying to get rid of them. 

There Are Concerns About Poodle Hair

As a foreword, it’s a matter of texture. My hair in the past—as it was, was soft, luxurious, yes, probably Fabio-like if I’d… let the panther loose. But I’m all about eliminating hassle, so no, never letting that stuff grow that long. There was a familiar texture that’s key. Going grey, sure, blah blah blah but the texture, again. 

I’m a little more than a month and a half into the hair regrowing process. 47 days. I’m not sure where I stand. I seem to have coverage but it’s the texture. Not sure about the texture. It could be my imagination or maybe it hasn’t grown out long enough yet, but right now, at this moment, I *feel* it’s somewhere between a berber rug, some type of cheap, utilitarian office carpet and some type of poodle hide. 

Seems like it should be longer, but maybe it’s curling back on itself. I don’t think I’d be happy with a steel wool look or feel. I also would not want the tight, grey, Grecian curl look. Oh, and there’s more grey. I think that’s the issue. Not the grey itself– I kinda like the grey color, even the White’s not too bad BUT…. over the past several years, I’ve noticed it’s the grey and white hairs in the mustache that go wonky. Oh, just bizarre, twisty, mutant, wirey strands that can’t be combed or brushed properly. They’re the Charlie Callas of hairs (look ’em up, kids). Brrrt.

I’m reminded of the wig Mark Lenard wore as Spock’s father Sarek in “Journey to Babel”. Or maybe the wig Patrick Stewart’s character Sejanus wore in I Claudius. Or of course Jo-Jo and Gi-Gi.

Decades ago, my cousins Renee and Brett had two poodle dogs, Jo-Jo and Gi-Gi. It’s been like 50 years but feeling my head now seems to make me think that that’s what their fur felt like. I could be wrong. Again, 50 years. 

They’re really the only poodles I can remember. There is a concern about poodle hair.

It’s all just very bizarre. Stay tuned.

What you can expect this year in the blog…

For those of you have actually read the majority if these entries up until now, I think you’ve bore witness to the range of stuff I put out there as the days go by. If you’re searching for consistency, there is only one thing that’s consistent, that’s me talkin’ out my head. Future entries will include:

Past situations where I faced death — whether it’s my fault or no.

Occasionally delving into my head to see why I am like I am. Yes it will get personal. 

Various diatribes about Doctor Who, with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Observations in general about things I have an interest in– tv, movies, baseball, etc.

Staying away from social media red zones like politics. No point. Too many dicks.

Flights of fancy and absurd notions manifesting in very short story form.

Diving into the world of comic books, quite often having to do with the Fantastic Four.

Random notes on absurd scenarios, which others probably never think about. 

A serious attempt at the written word, here and there.

Evidently, some ranting…..

Sometimes, maybe just stream of consciousness.

Sometimes, giving myself a plug for one of the books I’ve put out there.

Sometimes, I’ll even put out an entry which is nothing more than a stall. A stop gap, putting something, anything up there, even if it’s only a list if the kinds if things I’ll be talking about, even in the coming year. Even if I actually have about 20 other entries ready, waiting and already queued up! 

Because the thing IS.

Fantastic Four #112- All Time Greatest Battle Issue.

June, 1971. In Fantastic Four #111, the team was dealing with an out of control Ben Grimm. Reed’s latest serum to cure Ben of being the Thing tried a new tack. It allowed Ben to transform back and forth between himself and the Thing at will. The best of both worlds. And it worked! Unfortunately, the side effect was that it made Ben mean. Violent. Trouble. So on the very last page, within four or five panels, 1) Reed decided they’d better call in Bruce Banner for help. 2) Johnny did a quick, giant skywriting letter calling out Dr. Banner 3) Bruce, who happened to be in a cab close by, was telling the cabbie that he’s in a hurry but mustn’t get upset – fat chance 4) He smashes out of the cab as the Hulk, sees the Thing on a rampage and decides he must smash him and 5) a face off shot of them staring each other down, hyping next month’s “Battle of the Behemoths!”

There was a lot of that type of last second wrap up in the old books, as the artists sometimes didn’t quite pace things out right for the 20 pages. Kirby sometimes fell prey to it, so did big John Buscema. This was the most shambolic, hurried set up ever for a next issue. But thank god they did it. Because it resulted in the greatest all time battle issue ever beheld in this or any other universe, FF #112. ‘Course, it was years later that I finally saw #111 and the lead up. This was 1971 and I’m not sure if I ever actually picked up a comic before this magical day. *This* was the day I was in a grocery store and saw some comics and picked up a couple for the first time. I’m sure my grandparents bought them for me. So no, I had no set up. One of these comics hit me like an orange and green brick. 

The cover was simple, powerful, to the point. “Hulk vs Thing”. It had been about 90 issues since the last time Ben and ol’ green jeans had an epic battle in the FF. Mind you, they really did have an epic battle in FF 25 & 26, too. This was the actual first time Ben realized he was no longer the world’s strongest human and it was humbling. But even though he fully realized the Hulk was bigger, stronger, and seemingly never got tired, Ben never gave up. He kept fighting until the end. On that day, millions of new Thing fans were born. You just had to admire the hell out of Ben Grimm. Eventually, the rest of the FF and the Avengers all got into the mix too, so Ben only carried the fight for most of part one, great as it was.

In #112, this battle was –start to finish, a high octane, visceral, slugfest that had the entire city either running for cover, or training hi tech weapons on the two monsters. Usually, at least Ben would be concerned about civilian casualties, trying to get the fight to a remote area. Not so here, thanks to Ben’s current mental outlook. As furious and uncaring as the Hulk was about who else might get hurt, Ben was just as unconcerned. The Hulk wanted nothing more than to smash the Thing. Ben saw the Hulk as the perfect guy to take a beating and he was in the perfect mood to take the job. 

These two used anything they could get their hands on. Statues, monuments, trees, merry go rounds, you name it. The cops put up barricades and prayed the fight didn’t come their way as they knew their weapons would be useless. Back at the Baxter building, Reed was frantically building and charging a weapon to blast Ben back into normalcy and at least cure him of his hatred and rage. Then they could at least reason with him. 

But at every turn, Johnny was flying off the handle, threatening to go help Ben against the Hulk, but Reed needed his help. Their landlord, Collins, even shut down their power at the worst possible time, trying to get rid of his most infamous tenants. As if things couldn’t get any worse, in addition to the armed forces gathering to go after the two combatants, J. Jonah Jameson was going on TV live, demanding that all so called heroes be crushed, smashed, destroyed! 

Meanwhile, the main event battered on. Traveling up, down and tearing across the city, the battle was starting to take it’s toll on Ben. As usual, the Hulk never tired but more and more, Ben had to stall and distract until he got his second wind. Buscema is truly at his best here, choreographing the beats of this non stop destructive match. And we’ve got the dependable inks of Joe Sinnott bringing it all home. Ben maneuvers the Hulk into falling off a building, while Ben drags down the side of it, hoping that the fall will at least slow ol’ jade jaws down. But no luck. He gets Ben in a vice grip of a choke hold and it takes everything Ben’s got to break the hold, all the while, the comic fan is on the edge of their seat. See, this isn’t some universal mega battle for existence. This isn’t for the sake of the planet. There’s no greater truth or enlightenment here. This is two men fighting each other, presumably to the death. The fact that they’re two of the strongest guys on the planet is beside the fact. It’s a personal fight to the finish and that’s why it’s so interesting. It’s huge but it’s small at the same time. It can come down to a choke hold or a devastating punch to the jaw. 

We check in on Alicia Masters, Ben’s blind girlfriend. She hears about the battle on the radio and begins to make her way toward the devastation, as crowds run the opposite way. Reed, finally done with his device, races across town with Johnny to join the fray. Alicia nears the battle and starts calling out to Ben, eventually, Ben hears her and turns his head at the wrong moment.

Reed and Johnny arrive, too late. All is silent. Ben lies still and doesn’t appear to be breathing. The immediate battle and threat over, the Hulk quickly shrinks back to Banner, who skulks away. The silent crowd looks on. Johnny blames Reed for waiting too long and now it’s too late. Ben is dead. 

Seeing how this was the summer of ’71 and there weren’t any regular comic stores around, it was a crap shoot that I was going to find the next issue at the grocery store. But that was okay, because I had this issue. It had everything I needed from a comic. Life and death stakes, melodrama, almost more action than I could imagine and best of all, truly magnificent artwork! Plus, it reintroduced me to the Fantastic Four, who, up until that point, I’d only seen on tv in the Hanna Barbara cartoon a few years earlier. The cartoon was good but this, the comics, the drawing. 

Oh, I was IN.

I wanted to DO this. 

The Sentient Nut

From 2000, to 2004, I published a few of my own comics and had them distributed worldwide through Diamond, as did most comics back then. DC, Marvel, the mid level publishers like Image and Dark horse and the independents like me. This was also before the floodgates opened and everyone and and their mothers were printing comics, as it got more affordable. Also before web comics really took off. 

I did humor, drama, sci-fi, the bizarre, a few years later, I’d touched upon horror, romance, adult, you name it. 

But the one I was recently thinking about was “I Was a Superhero Survivor!” It was the very first humor comic built around the concept of a tv reality show. I had a transport plane circling thousands of feet above New York packed with contestants, who were to jump out of the plane –without parachutes– but in doing so, each would pass through a machine that would give each of them a superpower. It was a rather Jack Kirby looking device (look him up, kids), complete with “Kirby Krackle” (again) and was even called the “Kirby E.S.Q.”. As they emerged, falling from the plane, they’d have to use their powers to save themselves.

What the host and producers didn’t know was that a super villain called the Eel (Lee spelled backwards—“No one creates superheroes without my input!” — a loving jab at Stan.) was on board too, and had tampered with the machine to give the vast majority of the contestants really useless powers while they fell to their death. Very unhelpful abilities like “can turn into glass”, “gains nerves of a chicken” or “can sleep through anything”.

Suffice to say only five made it through alive so the show went on, as the Eel kept trying to sabotage it. 

There were challenges and competitions, such as “Saving your girlfriend from a fall off a bridge and NOT snapping her neck.” But as the game went on and we lost more competitors to ineptitude, we ended up having the last man standing face off against a dozen super villains. This was really the height of the production for me because I got to create 12 rather funny but useless villains, whose names told of their abilities and I got to design them, etc. Plus, the hero of the piece (Squid-Lord) got to take them apart. Amongst this instant rogues gallery (unimaginable fun creating these guys) was Lava-Thumb, Fat Fold, The Atomic Crumb, The Furry Quadriplegic, the Janitor, Floating Death, The Adhesive Wallflower, the Copterteer, The Last River-dancer, the Immortal Mime, Drill Instructor—but my favorite was The Sentient Nut

The Nut was just that, the kind of nut that you would fit with a bolt and a washer, with that interior tread, etc, only it stood up on its edge, was six feet tall, had a black eye at the top, communicated telepathically and could also control minds. I just love this guy. One day, I will have to do something with this. Having him orchestrating events at insane levels. Or even very small victories like revenge on the UPS guy. Something! He’s just too hilariously bizarre NOT to. Oh, sure, you think it’s funny Rick, but will anyone else?

Oh, I have no idea. Probably not but I’m used to it.

The Sentient Nut. Because….you know. 

Comic Origins part Uno

I love a good superhero origin story. The best of them are poignant, powerful and meaningful, imbuing the protagonist with the proper incentive to do the right thing and help people. Sometimes the circumstances are optimistically nudged in a certain direction. Take Superman for an example. 

His parents place his infant self on an interstellar escape vehicle that leaves orbit moments before his home planet is destroyed forever. The ship crashes on planet earth in Kansas and is found by a kind couple who raise him and love him as their own. Through them, he only knows love, respect and understanding. When his powers start to manifest themselves during puberty and the suns’ rays effectively turn him into the most powerful man on the planet (a god), his upbringing helps him stay humble, level headed and become an inspiration to all and the greatest hero ever. 

Boy, THAT could have gone sideways in a *hundred* ways. And many of those have been detailed in comics, tv and movies featuring an alternate reality where things go very different and Supes or a similar character is usually a blood soaked psychotic. 

One advantage Superman also had was that even though an extraterrestrial, he not only looks human but is just OTT handsome. Lucky for everyone. If he looked like the Moleman, humanity would have stuck its collective foot in its collective mouth real quick and there’d be a very irritable Superman with a very large chip on his shoulder flying over humanity’s head. 

One is reminded of the Martian Manhunter, last survivor of Mars. Back in the 1950’s, a    scientist sent a signal directed towards Mars in search of intelligent life. The signal did indeed reach Mars but the being on the receiving end was somehow unwillingly transported along the signal *back* to earth, where upon seeing the green, gnarled limbs, pointed skull and glowing red eyes, the scientist had a massive heart attack and died of fright. ‘Jonn ‘Jonz, was now trapped there with no way home. Luckily for him, as a Martian, he was also a shape changer, so he could assume any form. He could also fly, turn immaterial, read minds, and was super strong. Thankfully he was a nice guy who could also turn handsome to appease humanity.

Odds are, if the infant Superman had looked like a Martian, it would have been destroyed as a monster almost assuredly and dissected. I guess my point here is that both these two heroes had a lot of benefits on their side and the creators erred on the side of great great optimism every time. 

When Bill Finger and to a far lesser extent, Bob Kane, created Batman, it was a simple revenge fantasy. Young child watches his parents get murdered in an alley. The shooter takes off and the boy goes numb. He later makes a vow to wage war on all evil doers. He becomes obsessed. He trains. He brings himself to peak human physical condition. He learns. He absorbs everything he possibly can about criminology. Forensics. Deduction. Psychology. Observation. Etc. Then he uses his resources to travel the world for years, learning more and more from experts around the world, adding practical knowledge and real world experience to what he’s learned in books. He learns every fighting style possible. 

On the optimistic, helpful side, he’s also genetically blessed to be good looking, with a tall, strapping, healthy body, more James Bond than Woody Allen, oh, and he’s a billionaire. That helps a great deal with resources. A great deal. 

As a result of how his parents died, he hates guns. Doesn’t kill. Never kills. This is perhaps an optimistic take on an obsession such as this. Frank Castle, the Punisher, was a war vet who’d returned home only to have his wife and children killed in front of him as collateral damage in the crossfire of a mob retaliation hit. Castle almost died too but survived. Ever since, he hunts and kills criminals. Period. This of course puts Frank at odds with  other superheroes who have problems with killing. Frank understands but doesn’t care. 

Then you get the epic origin story of the silver age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. One day, a fearless test pilot practices in a simulator. Suddenly, the whole thing is grabbed by green energy, dragged who knows how many miles before landing in the desert by a dying alien, who gives Hal a ring. It’s a power ring from the intergalactic Green Lantern corps and is one of the most powerful weapons in the universe, and is driven by the wearer’s strength of will. Hal Jordan was chosen as worthy of wielding the ring. He becomes the Green Lantern.

Then you’ve got the silver age Flash. Police scientist Barry Allen gets hit by lightning while chemicals splash him. He becomes the fastest man alive. Okay. Well, it’s succinct. 

Mind you, on one hand, Hal’s a fearless test pilot who was now basically an intergalactic cop, while Barry’s a cop who became a superhero. In the ’50’s, when these characters were created, there wasn’t much in the way of CSI in the police force but that’s what Barry was and now this century, his real life vocation is arguably more tangible and important crime solving than the Flash’s latest battle with Mirror Master. Meanwhile, when Hal was created, test pilots were getting a new buzz as they were slotted to be astronauts. Things have changed. 

With the exception of the Punisher, was very DC focused, so next time, we’ll see how the other half at Marvel live.

About how the Doctor treats her “fam”…

Gotta get this off my chest. Yeah, I know it’s just a stupid TV show, but I admire creativity and good writing and storytelling in my favorite show. When it goes to crap, I’m chiming in there as well.

Unlike some fans of Doctor Who, I did not abandon the show when Chris Chibnall took over as showrunner and brought in Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor. I’ve sat through them all and been mostly disappointed with S11. This series (12), has shown some improvement, as whether by hook or by crook, or BBC threat, certain things did improve a bit. Is it still a show worthy of the name Doctor Who? It has its moments.

One of the biggest problems it has is the disingenuous current Doctor. The blame is shared by Whitaker and Chibnall. Chibs mostly loads her lines up with meaningless platitudes, things a wacky Doctor *should* say and do, but they usually land flat because Chibnall doesn’t seem to have the faintest idea how people actually communicate. Whitaker, for her part, seldom lends the part any gravity, mostly just breathless chirping. But Chibs inability to write well for his characters mostly impacts the Doctor’s pets. I mean, human companions, who the Doctor is *always* referring to as her FAM. DYS FAM might be more appropriate.

This incarnation of the Doctor seems aware that she usually has had companions in the past, so *she* has them. Her FAM irritates her whenever they ask questions about her personal life. They traveled with her –unquestioningly — for two years, never thinking to actually ask who she is (!). They just meekly follow her around like obedient baby ducks, while she teaches them lessons. They have proven to be highly incapable and useless in every scenario.

The relationship with these people she dubbed her FAMILY, is more akin to this:  say, your son is having friends stay over night at the house. Then the next day, for whatever reason, your son goes to school, but the friends go to another school and happens to have the day off, and you’ve got to drag them around on your errands. And you barely know them. That’s the “feel” here in today’s TARDIS.

The Doctor seemingly has no need or care for these people (her FAMILY). They don’t even seem that excited by the prospect of all the myriad wonders the universe shows them. Maybe because everywhere they go, they have this disconnected schoolmarm constantly lecturing them, morning, noon and night. You really get the feeling that they are in actuality, little more than an annoyance. This is all down to how Chibnall presents them and how Whitaker reacts in these scenarios. 

The worst was this past Sunday in “Can You Hear Me?”, a story that started out decently enough with an interesting set up. An immortal creature making dreams come alive and torturing people in their dreams, etc. There was a message hidden within the narrative about mental health and how it’s good to talk to people. Suffice to say it wasn’t clear what any of the perceived ailments were and what was affliction and what was actually caused by the bald guy invading their dreams. 

Sadly, this inability to tell a clear story, mixed with Chib’s inability to script real exchanges between characters, especially the Doctor’s “beloved” and “important” FAMILY came to a head at the end of the ep. Graham, played by beloved actor Bradley Walsh, was actually trying to have an important heart to heart conversation with the Doctor, talking earnestly about his fears regarding the possibility of his cancer coming back. He bared his soul to her. This was a moment. Between two people who’d been traveling together for years. Faced death together. A man the Doctor consider’s family. Any sincere or heartfelt reassurance, no matter how small, would have meant a lot.

She simply stared at him, then said, “I’m socially awkward. How about I just go over here and do some things and in a few minutes, you can pretend I said something good.” She basically treated Graham like some stranger at a bus stop. Abominable. 

Some apologists for the show will say she’s alien, she doesn’t know better. Or this incarnation didn’t know any better. Nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with her memory of the last 2,000 years. She had 13 previous incarnations who were all alien, some tetchy, some rude and crude. But when the chips were down and the companion was in trouble, or needed to talk, the Doctor was always there and showed he cared. Always showed compassion. 

Let’s take the example of twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi. That incarnation could be very rude and blunt to strangers. He could be brusque with anyone. But when Clara needed him, he was there with compassion. Clara’s boyfriend Danny had been killed and she was in a very bad place. She knocked out the Doctor with a sleeping drug, then gathered all the TARDIS keys and went to a volcano. When the Doctor woke, Clara shakily stated her intention that she would destroy all the keys unless the Doctor agreed to take her to heaven to bring Danny back. As I say, she was in bad shape. The Doctor managed to turn the tables on her, gained control of the scenario and said he’d help her. She was aghast. “After everything I’ve done?” And the Doctor responded: “Clara, do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” Now THAT’s a moment, that’s writing and that’s the Doctor. Been around over two thousand years and even with all the faults, the alien “otherness”, there is compassion. 

Except, evidently, with the current incarnation. Ironically, she’s just a dick. A disingenuous, extraterrestrial creep who has shown she doesn’t care one whit about these lowly pets she carts around. I expect better. 

DWS12:7 “Can You Hear Me?”

I quite enjoyed the villains tonight, especially Zellin and the name checking of The Guardians, Eternals and the Celestial Toymaker. The finger thing was quite daft but hey, that might just be how these immortals roll. Once again, an interesting set up! Regarding the follow through—As we got deeper into the ep, and the Doctor and co. were locked up, I figured with half the episode left, this was going to be one epic confrontation, battle of wills, back and forth, trials and tribulations– no, she dispatches them quite quickly and remarkably easily. I won’t lie, this disappointed me but didn’t surprise me. It would have been nice to have a match up in the vein of the fourth Doctor and Sutekh but that’s a lot to ask for. Probably an unreasonable ask. 

Still had plenty of ep left, so we go to—Yaz hitchhiking 3 years previous. Seems like this was an attempt to start fleshing out Yaz’s character. I guess this was really a fam episode, prepping us for their departure. Okay.

The presentation of what Graham and Ryan have waiting for them at home seems unimpressive compared to the universe, Time, space, etc. —Occasional chips and poker nights? Yaz has her family, but it seems like something’s not right there either. Some trouble with the folks? I really don’t know because I can’t understand her and her sister at all. Seems like they’d want to keep seeing the universe but then again, they never really get that excited about any of it, so I guess they’d rather go back for poker nights and chips. That’s okay too, I suppose.

Last but not least, now we have a better idea why after two years, the FAM doesn’t talk or open up to the Doctor. Graham lays bare his soul to her regarding his fear about his cancer coming back. She just stares at him like an idiot. This wasn’t Ryan asking for dating advice. Nor was this a topic that lends itself to her being her wacky, annoying self. I thought to myself, “Oh Chris, if ever there was a time for this incarnation to step up and show that these creatures are more than just wayward pets to her, to maybe, in some way, show a little bit of heart toward this person you’ve been traveling with all this time, now would be that moment.” 

Nope, played for laughs.

Honestly, you know what? If that were me, I guess I *would* head back to the poker game. I currently think less of 13 than I did before. 

So, which one is Graham again? The cancer one….right?

The Invasion of the lame Dino-puppets

Having released all the individual stories on DVD, the BBC has started releasing entire *seasons* of classic Doctor Who on Blu-ray. In many cases, they’ve updated effects on some of the stories at the DVD level. Nice touches the original producers would have done had they the budget. Sometimes, they’ve gone to great lengths! The two best examples were Day of the Daleks and Kinda. 

Day of the Daleks was the season 9 premiere featuring Jon Pertwee beginning his third year and due to the budget, the big climactic battle between UNIT and the Dalek forces featured a few soldiers, three Daleks and couple explosions. It worked but was a bit lacking due to budget. For the DVD, they hired new stuntmen for the UNIT troops, built several more Daleks and added CGI effects and shot a whole new battle! 

While for Davison’s first season, Kinda was an interesting psychological terror tale on an alien planet that ended with a tribe confronting the The Mara, an evil entity that was represented in the form of a giant snake. Originally, it was a ridiculous looking paper mache creature on strings, whose only teal threat was giving out paper cuts. But on the DVD, they went in and replaced the aberration with a fully realized, brilliant looking CGI snake. It was amazing and really helped elevate the entire story, as opposed to ending on an eye rolling, head shaking, sad note. 

Now, all these effects will be grandfathered in to the Blu-ray editions, along with whatever cutting edge remastering can be done at this level– keeping in mind that there’s only so far they can take these original visuals, even at a BR stage. Still, there are some effects that must be addressed with this new opportunity.

There are a few classic era stories that desperately need some of this digital salvation. None more so than the second story of Jon Pertwee’s final season, “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”.

Dear BBC, PLEASE FIX THE F*****G DINO PUPPETS!

See, IOTD was a wonderfully written, directed and performed story about a group of scientists who were hatching a plot to bring about a new golden age, which was in actuality very sinister and involved some time travel shenanigans. To discourage an investigation by the Doctor and UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), from breaking up the party, the bad guys would scoop dinosaurs out from the past and bring them to present day to threaten our heroes. There in lay the problem. 

The company the studio hired to do the dinosaur model work assured them they’d be getting quality stuff and I guess they had good references. But when the production team got the footage back at the eleventh hour, they were devastated at how phenomenally horrible and laughable the dinos were. Even for 1973, these were the bottom of the barrel. The “rampaging” T-Rex could actually be the worst realized prop in the entirety of the 26 years of classic Doctor Who. To say Barry Letts (then producer) and Terrance Dicks (script writer) were embarrassed beyond words was an understatement but there was nothing to be done. 

10 years later, it was probably released on VHS. Another 15 or 20 some odd years later, the story was released on DVD. That was probably their first opportunity to fix the problem. Nope. In some cases, they even re-released special editions of the DVD’s with the updated effects I mentioned earlier. Even the bloody snake in Kinda. But they never touched those dinos! Seriously?!? We’ve now been stuck with these things messing up a perfectly good story for almost 50 years.

But now… you’d think they’d HAVE to rework those feeble puppets for the new format……….right? There’s no way on God’s green earth they can expect people to RE-buy a further remastered story on Blu-ray without fixing the damn puppets……right? 

After all, at this point, they’re going to the trouble and expense of animating ALL the missing 1960’s bxw episodes, one story at a time. They have time and they should have money for this story’s needs. Invasion of the Dinosaurs is easily one of the very best of the entire Pertwee era. Probably the best story of season 11, but it’s never talked about too highly because the puppets hurt the story. They’re everywhere and they’re crap. 

So far, of the Pertwee era, only his fourth season (10), has been announced and released. If season 11 is announced as coming next year or if it’s the last one they ever release, I don’t care. 

Just… just fix the damn puppets, man. 

Terror with a hand up its bum
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