Saturday, 30 April 2011

Blog - "Doctor Who?"

I'd just like to ask who on Earth that was masquerading as The Doctor in the most recent episode of Doctor Who?
Now, to start from the beginning.

In this last episode, The Day Of The Moon, Doctor Who, a character of over nine hundred years, completely changed before our very eyes. Let me explain how.

The Doctor, as it were, has a strong character foundation that follows certain rules, and strives to uphold certain concepts above all else. For example, Martha Jones once asked Davros to surrender in the firm belief that The Doctor would always ensure that whatever opponent he faces was given the opportunity to leave by its own merit before he ever considered violence. He abhored violence in fact and consistently attempted to instil this virtue in his companions.

There were moments when this broke, but he was so proud of his companions for saving him from himself.

In this episode, he specifically encouraged the entire human race to commit murder from 1969 until the end of the universe. That includes every man, woman and child. Not only that, but he encouraged absolute genocide. Not even the Daleks, his greatest enemy, have taken him to that point.

Also, he was impressed at River's ability to kill his opponents, encouraging more violence there instead of bothering with rational thought. This gets worse when you realise that, using his screwdriver (a tool for repairs) to attack.

This is never something that The Doctor, as he has been since his first incarnation, has been happy to do. Tennant's Doctor was completely depressed to see anybody fighting for him and killing in his name. Smith's has already offered to help a race of people, be it fish people, that tried to destroy an entire city and their population. In order to avoid any chance of genocide, he offered whatever help he could give, despite any misgivings.

What's the answer then? His reasonings? Simple. This episode was designed for a false American stereotype. It was Doctor Who, but designed to appeal to what a Scottish writer believes an American audience to want. It was predictable, it continually labelled the President the most powerful man on Earth (which the Doctor would never admit was anybody other than himself) and it gave several far too obvious answers to the key questions that people actually tuned in to learn about.

This was not inventive, and it was not even an episode of Doctor Who, because it didn't star the Doctor. It just starred somebody in his skin.

The fans, and those who firmly believe that this is one of the greatest English exports since Monty Python, should be insulted.

Blog - "Digimon"

So far, I've detailed two rather intellectual programmes, if I do say so myself. Six Feet Under and Bones are both about exploring the human condition, and I plan to continue that theme, in a way. My next programme though, is a little different.

Some of the most popular films, television shows and stories revolve around the infamous 'coming of age' story, and this is most often told to those younger than the people coming of age themselves. With that in mind, let's have a look at the first season of Digimon: Digital Monsters.

Digimon follows the story of seven children, who become eight later during the story, who find a gate to the Digital World. In the Digital World, digital data, such as that transferred over the internet, evolves and gains a life of its own, as information often does. The children interpret this world using ideas and memories that they are familiar with, such as snowmen, dogs and dinosaurs, as well as a monkey Elvis impersonator.

The most obvious and remarkable thing about Digimon is how obviously rooted it is in science. It holds up to close scrutiny very well, after a little examination. Much like Silent Hill, the world is prone to interpretation, while the science behind the digital constructs is quite solid. It won't be foolproof at all, but there are plenty of lessons there.

Then, we have the characters, and this is what is truly impressive. Each of the main characters have clear and defined character traits and abilities. Their arguments are caused by their differing personalities, and the psychology behind their reactions is entirely plausable. This isn't Pokémon, where you have one entirely flat character and then a pervert and a girl. These are believable characters where you can find parallels.

The two lead characters of Tai and Matt, for example, and two very different personalities. While Tai, the natural leader, shows clear optimism, guides using a courageous example and goes into every fight ahead of everybody else, Matt is the opposite. He encourages people to play to their strengths, is more of a realist and fights mainly as a supporting offensive. Their digital monsters are, in fact, a solitary balancing figure in their lives. Tai's is just as courageous, strong and eager to battle. Matt's is primarily just a friend to him, since his honest and somewhat pessimistic character often makes him difficult to get along with. The truth is that all leaders need this counter-balance.

The coming of age part is very well done due to how the group dynamic develops. At first, they all show similarities, hold together as strongly as possible and all is very obvious and clear in their development. When split up, the reality comes out, and, depending on the people that they're with, certain characters move to compensate, while others do not.

There does come a point where you realise, quite suddenly, that everybody's own story has developed right under your nose, and they're all going off in their own way to pursue it.

It's quite an emotional finale too. Like a lot of stories of a similar ilk, such as Dragonball Z, you have a bad guy, then another bad guy, then another bad guy. Ultimately, this is supposed to be the most interesting stuff. It doesn't work that way though. The different characters traits will offer you a parallel, and you get drawn in.

For me, of course, it's Matt. I love him.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Blog - "Bones"

Next up on my list of Friday favourites: Bones.

I should likely start with the similars.

CSI, in all of it's incarnations, bores me. Law and Order, in all of it's incarnations, bores me. NCIS, in all of it's incarnations, bores me.

Bones does not, despite the remarkable strand of similarities between them. I'll tell you why; the characters.

The two main characters, portrayed by Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, are best described as both sides of the human coin/condition. One is more rational, one more passionate. I've always found myself admiring the way that Deschanel's character views the world. The utter simplicity of her reasoning, and the meaning behind each and every thought and action. She can be entirely devoid of aggression or religious input, yet still retain her own personal impetus. It's thrilling to see such a character shown as anything other than 'wrong'.

The bad guys, as well, play a part in dividing this show from the rest. The Gravedigger, as an example, is a criminal who chooses to kidnap people, bury them alive, then demand a ransom in exchange for GPS co-ordinates to them. Rather than catching said opponent in a single episode, it takes multiple, including a trial, before the bad guy is the victim of a murder themself. These are obviously well layered and thought out characters.

All in all, still thrilling.

I am, however, thoroughly infuriated that my favourite character left at the end of the third season, though I understand.

The real message to take away from this one though is not the characters, but what they do. The meaning, as can be seen in each and every piece, is that you can always be recognised. Even if people take your life, your skin, your teeth, your clothes, your flesh and your family from you, people can work out everything about you just from a piece of bone.

When I write, I grind into a piece of bone that I lean my pen on. Years from now, when I am nothing but bones, I'll still be a writer.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Blog - "Shopping"

This is likely going to be a strange one: consider yourself forewarned.

Did you ever see Monty Python's Flying Circus? This blog isn't about that, but they do several bits where they dress us a women and make jokes about shopping. 

It always starts as such:

Woman1: You been shopping?
Woman2: No, I've been shopping?

I hate it when I come in with bags of clothes and people say 'you been shopping?'

I am not, and never will be, a fan of shopping, especially when it comes to charity shops. One of my least favourite memories as a youngster involves the utter thrill of standing in a cramped and confined little charity shop for almost two hours while my mother and sister looked for cheap dresses.

Whenever I go to see my sister, or if she comes here, we somehow end up engaging in that most infuriating of pastimes. During the day, she will always look at me and say: "you're not enjoying this, are you?"

No, I'm not, but I'm still here, aren't I? Isn't that the point? I'm making a point of doing something I dislike in order to spend with somebody I don't dislike.

One thing that I do like about charity shops, and this is the only thing, is that one moment when the eyes of two males meet and express their utter disgust with their surroundings. I quite like that.

Want to know if I like you? Take me shopping.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Blog - "Six Feet Under"

Likely the best place to start would be with one of my favourite televisual series' of all time: Six Feet Under.

Six Feet Under tells the story of an ensemble cast working in or affected by those working in a funeral home. The constant backdrop of death flavours the majority of the programme, with all episodes containing a scene in which a character dies. Their life, seen through the eyes of the central cast, become a lesson to those that continue to live.

A word that I've seen used a lot to describe the programme is 'unflinching', and I find this perfectly apt. There is no fear from the writers, nor the actors portraying the roles, when it comes to such a widely known sensitive topic. Death, it tells us, is a certainty, and something that we should acknowledge without fear.

Far from being the only subject matter, death is also not the only thing around which a total lack of fear is shown. The writers take a blunt and, at times forceful look into the world of a true homosexual, the loneliness of a widow, the overindulgence of the creatively stifled and onwards. My personal favourite is the examination of the way those with mental health impairments are treated by the outside world.

There are two main characters who show serious mental imbalances. While one is constantly wrestling with problems that they find intensely difficult to control, the other keeps her situation relatively in-check, but both are largely ostricised due to their conditions. Fear, it shows us, is that which creates the problems.

All of the characters, though different and with their own integral meanings, show through their actions and activities that it is fear that is their enemy, while facing their problems without regret or self-pity drives them to strengthen themselves. I particularly enjoy the development of the Brenda Chenowith character, especially within the first two of the five seasons.

She is utterly mental, and I adore everything about her.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Blog - "The Great Race"

Hello magical people who live inside the equally magical box on the second floor of my local library.

A couple of days ago, I challenged a friend of mine to a sort of race. It's a very simple system. We both have profiles on Ultimate-Guitar. I've been involved in a lot of work, so I've managed to accrue just over thirty-nine thousand profile views. This is, as he put it, a humbling number.

He has much more natural charisma than I do, though that isn't altogether difficult to achieve. He is a talented musician, plays gigs around the country and has five times the membercount of my fan page on his. Put short: his popularity far exceeds my own. Despite this, he's been away from UG for a while, leaving his profile with just over eleven and a half thousand views.

The race is simple. If he can reach twenty thousand views before I can reach fifty thousand, he wins, and he can use whatever promotional materials are at his disposal. There's no 'within reason' ruling here - I want to see if my writing can hold me ahead of the marketing might of a seasoned promoter. It would be a good exercise for me, and for him, I think.

It could well take me the better part of a year to reach fifty thousand. It wouldn't surprise me. After all, UG has been going strong for over a decade now and nobody has reached a hundred thousand yet, even the camwhore girlies. There's a challenge there. We both have Asperger's, so drawing attention to ourselves sort of comes naturally in a strange sort of way.

Wish me luck, dear magical people who live inside the equally magical box on the second floor of my local library.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Blog - "Character Analysis"

Hello again.

I'm not quite back yet. My laptop is still down, so this is a library call. A public computer. I feel a little sick inside just thinking about it.

There's a lot of research to be done when you're a writer. Some is quite obvious: reading differing perspectives, analysing characters and examining the flow of moments so as to avoid characterisation, crossed paths and general confusion. Some is less so. I intentionally watch shit TV. Pokémon and Cardcaptor Sakura, as examples, contain such flat and meaningless characters that no matter how hard I analyse there's just nothing there to find. It's like turning off my brain and having a waking nap. You know, it's nice.

That said, there are some televisual pinnacles that offer the exact opposite in character analysis. Whether it's just the one interesting character or a whole horde of them, there are some shows that draw me in just because I love the characters so much.

I've set myself  bit of a challenge for the coming weeks. I'm going to take the favourites from my research and try to explain that appeal within one blog post, uploaded every Friday. I have about seven in mind as we speak. Some you might know, while some you likely won't. This is a good thing; there's adventure in the unknown.

There are a few more things I'm working on in the meantime, but I'll be avoiding Friday uploads when it comes to that.

Hope you enjoy it.