I put printed copies of my thesis in the boxes of my committee members today. I am disturbed to note that network printing technology in the world is getting worse instead of better. Also, ITS does not support my font of choice in Word. Alas, but I got it printed anyway. Next time I'm using a PDF file. This gives me time for fun things like catching up on my favorite TV series.
Tonight, I watched the first and second episode of the new Dr Who. The best thing about the old series was the music, especially the incidental music. Alas, I must give the new series a poor musical review. Somebody added orchestral instruments to the theme song. I'm not against change, but this is not an improvement. In the Tom Baker years, the incidental music was awesome analog goodness. The BBC studios were state of the art and some of the best places to get access to equipment. Now, anybody can do all sorts of things on their computer, so equipment labs aren't as necessary anymore. This democratization is a good thing. However, the culture of cutting edge experimentation that surrounded the BBC and especially the Dr Who series has apparently been lost. The incidental music has suffered, but the sound FX were really really good. The sound design is top notch. But the incidental music is X-filesish and bland, even while being obviously well produced and large budgetted. Worse, the incidental music in the first episode was mostly all derived from the series theme music. Blarg. Inspector Gadget alert! However, there were some nice cinematic conciets. For example, the introductory sequence was playing a sort of poppy track. While the character Rose was at her job in a department store, the music switched to being the piped in muzak in the store. When she was out of the store, it went back to being acousmatic (not heard by the people in the plot. aka: "score." When the people in the plot hear it, as when Rose was in the store, that's called "source"). Nicely done.
the special FX have a bit of computer generated cheesiness about them, but what would Dr. Who be without cheesiness? Overall, I would compare the new series to the X-Files in terms of production values, but with better sound FX. More like the X-Files movie than the TV show.
The second episode is a fairly brilliant parody of The Wizard of Oz. It references the munchkins brilliantly and most especially, a brilliant twist on the death of the wicked witch. It contains pop songs! What's up with that? The second episode takes place in the very distant future and is full of aliens and explores Rose's discomfort with alien others. An explicit reference to racial otherness is made when the Dr makes a comparison to the deep south. He does this to shame Rose for her close mindedness. Ironically, the most alien of the others is the last human. A flat sheet of skin suspended in a frame above a brain in a tank, the last human brags about how much plastic surgery s/he has undergone to get so flat and skinny. S/he is the classic bitter queeny character, saying things like "My that was fast! . . . A lot like my 5th husband!" This sort of genre humor continues until s/he is confronted by Rose who draws her/his humanity into question. The last human becomes more distasteful during this scene by calling other mixed species of human descent "mongrel." the subject turns to how many operations s/he has had. S/he reminisces about his/her boyhood in the Los Angeles area and without pausing suggests that Rose get a chin tuck. Rose, overwhelmed with revulsion, tell the last human that s/he isn't human at all and storms off.
So you see, I learned that being uncomfortable with alien others is bad UNLESS they're genderqueer and then it's ok, because they're just freaks. So let's get that down: racism bad. Queerphobia ok. Some alien others are just a little too alien. And it's an old standby to be able to make the perverseness and otherness of a disliked group clear by calling them metaphorically queer: gay / trans / whatever. Does the BBC realize they're playing the same game as Fox news?
Ok, so despite seeing my sexuality used as a metaphor for utter despicableness, I still give high marks to the show. Because I'm a metaphor everywhere. Because it's the times we live in. Alas.
Um, and in these new installments, Gallifrey is no more! No more Master! No more Ronan! No more TimeLords except the Doctor. So the classic timelord bad guys are all gone. I think the Master ran out of regenerations anyway, though.
The incidental music on episode 4 is much improved. also, you can download episodes from http://tracker.shuntv.net/. You'll need a bit torrent client. I got mine from http://bitconjurer.org/BitTorrent/ and I use VLC to play the AVI files.