Saturday, January 26, 2008

KBTC, one of the local PBS affiliates, aired the entire six part 1977 Doctor Who serial, "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" tonight as a mini-telethon to raise funds to continue to broadcast Classic Who.

The serial has earned a bad reputation due to the ethnic stereotyping of Chinese people in it. While it certainly deserves to be rapped for that, it doesn't seem to be notably worse than television in general from that era except for the magician Chang being portrayed by a white actor in yellowface. Much of the rest can even be seen as a reflection of the attitudes of the story's Victorian-era white characters toward the Chinese, but the use of yellowface for one character is a decision that the show's producers and the BBC deserve full blame for.

Putting that contentious issue aside, it's actually one of the best written serials of Classic Who. Writer Robert Holmes conjures up a wonderfully melodramatic story chock full of clever dialog, and it's clearly a homage to Fu Manchu and Sherlock Holmes. The Holmes references include the Fourth Doctor wearing a deerstalker and cloak, Professor Litefoot (a Watson analogue) having a housekeeper named Mrs. Hudson, and a giant rat, among other things. It also marks the first mention of Time Agents from the 51st century, something picked up on by New Who when a certain Captain Jack Harkness was introduced. Director David Maloney realizes the story in a surprisingly atmospheric manner.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Review: Torchwood, Episode 2.2, "Sleeper"

Another quality episode, with a cracking good script by James Moran (co-writer of the horror film "Severance"). It's more serious than the season opener, but not lacking a sense of humor (it's also a bit gory at times). It's episodes like this where the show lives up to the concept of being a sexy British cousin of The X-Files.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Ten Best Gay and Bisexual Science Fiction Characters

Although the list is hardly exhaustive and is exclusively male in composition, one character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and two from Torchwood are on it.

The teaser for the Star Trek prequel is now available here.

Whether the Star Trek prequel turns out good or bad, one thing is certain: this teaser is awesome and will send shivers down the spines of fans.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Review: Torchwood, Episode 2.3, "To the Last Man"

To use an American sports metaphor, Torchwood steps into the batter's box for the third time in its second season and hits a third home run. As I've mentioned before, I thought the first season began a bit slowly, but I'm very impressed by the second season so far. It's like the creative staff have figured it all out and now it's just completely on target.

Without giving away any spoilers, let me just say that "To the Last Man" is similar in tone to two of the absolute best episodes from the first season, "Out of Time" and "Captain Jack Harkness" (both written by playwright Cath Tregenna). This one is from Helen Raynor, writer of last season's "Ghost Machine" as well as Doctor Who episodes "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks", and it's easily her best work to date.

The next two episodes are both written by Tregenna, so I anticipate further home runs.