Pride 2016 – Looking back on Banana

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However, Cucumber wasn’t the only program Davies was working on at this point; it was accompanied by sister show Banana, an anthology miniseries made up of eight half hour episodes, each focusing on new characters. Where Cucumber was about the life of one specific gay man, Banana used its anthology format to explore the youth of the wider LGBT community in Manchester.

One of the things that’s great about Banana (and I stress it’s far, far from the only thing, merely the one that’s most apt for today) is quite how much it is a celebration of LGBT diversity, and the experiences of LGBT people – not just on the screen, but behind it too.

With today being the last day of Pride 2016, it seemed apt to look back on Channel 4’s fabulous anthology program from last year – a series which did a wonderful job of celebrating the diversity of the LGBT community.

(This is probably fine, if slight, though I doubt I’d write something exactly like it today.)

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4 TV Adaptations of Books You Should be Excited For

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Television adaptations of books are all the rage at the moment – BBC One recently finished airing Love, Nina, a miniseries adapted by Nick Hornby from a book of the same name; Amazon Prime recently had a lot of success with their adaptation of Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, and you may also have heard of this little show HBO makes called Game of Thrones.

They’re not the only ones out there, of course – there are quite a few other exciting adaptations on their way. Here’s a list of the four you absolutely need to look out for most…

A new Yahoo article all about the different television adaptations of books we should be looking forward to!

Always difficult to get the capitalisation right.

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What will a DC TV Flashpoint look like?

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A lot of people online seem to expect that Green Arrow would fill the role of Batman in this story, with Robert Queen rather than Oliver; that’s possible, perhaps, particularly given that it wouldn’t require Stephen Amell to stop filming Arrow. Personally, however, I’d prefer it if Colin Donnell was brought in to guest star as an alternate Tommy Merlyn who took up the mantle of the Green Arrow. It’d have a far greater emotional resonance for the audience, I believe, given that we already know and have a connection with Tommy – one we don’t have with Robert Queen, who never really featured in particular depth before. 

Another Yahoo article; I’ve been writing a lot of them for the past few weeks. This time it’s all about the upcoming Flashpoint arc over on The Flash; my thoughts, my expectations, and indeed to an extent my reservations.

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Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor: Fear Her

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There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.

It’s odd, because I find myself in the position where I’m writing a review of another critically maligned episode of Doctor Who, just a week after the last one. The general consensus from a lot of people is that Fear Her is a pretty awful episode; it came in at 240/241 in the recent-ish DWM First 50 Years poll, with an average score of about 4/10, and a whole twenty places lower than Love & Monsters. In the 2009 Mighty 200 poll, it was in 192nd place, while Love & Monsters was at 153. During the actual 2006 season poll, it also came last, falling just a few hundredths of a percentage short of Love & Monsters.

That’s actually quite interesting, you know. I knew it had a poor reputation, but I didn’t realise that it was – by every popular metric – actually considered a fair bit worse than Love & Monsters; the way fandom talks about them, I’d sort of expected it to be the reverse. I’m actually feeling a little validated in my appreciation of Love & Monsters, as it goes. Nonetheless, I’m always inclined to be positive towards and defend Doctor Who – so what’s the real situation with Fear Her?

Actually – and indeed quite weirdly – I realised that this episode might well be one of the ones I remember best from Series 2. Which is not to say it made any particular impression on me, or that it was very good; one of those memories was the Cybermen in the next time trailer, after all. And even then, they’re pretty weird and idiosyncratic moments that I picked up on – I remember the girl who played Chloe Webber giving an interview on either Doctor Who Confidential or Totally Doctor Who, and playing a game on the Doctor Who website where a scribble monster chased you through a maze while that kookaburra song played. So, in terms of Alex’s Personal History of Doctor Who, I guess that makes Fear Her one of those important but utterly bizarre little details that you include to point out that the past really was another country.

Which isn’t to say that the episode doesn’t have some good stuff in it either, mind you; I think the interactions between the Doctor and Rose are quite well written in this episode, for example. (Even if, you know, Matthew Graham is riffing quite heavily on The Christmas Invasion in a way rather unlike essentially all of the other writers.) There’s undeniably a lot of fun stuff here, and I think if you’re the sort of person who derives a lot of enjoyment from seeing the Doctor and Rose together, you’re likely to enjoy this episode; they’re very clearly positioned as close friends, really enjoying their time together. Just mucking around through time, as pals. On the flip side of course, I am starting to understand why Rose does grate on some people – the sort of irreverence and playfulness in these scenes does straddle a thin line between fun and obnoxious, and if it’s not to your personal tastes, it’s the sort of thing that could very easily dissolve any and all enjoyment you’re getting from those scenes.

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Another interesting thing that this episode tries for is a sort of… I want to call it “social realism”, but I’m not sure that’s the right term for what I’m trying to convey. I imagine it’ll become more apparent shortly, in any case.

Immediately speaking, it is difficult for something like Doctor Who to do those “near future” stories – while in 2006 they may not have known that the show would still be running in 2012 (even if it turned out to not actually be on the TV very much that year) and beyond, it was, so we can look at this episode and point out all the little errors. “Shayne Ward’s Greatest Hits” is laughable in hindsight; he’s become my go to reference for an obscure musician. David Beckham carried the Torch, not David Tennant, and it didn’t even look like that anyway.

Mind you, they got one thing right – there was absolutely some panic about empty seats!

Still, though, those are just surface details, and we can forgive those in the same way we forgive historical inaccuracies – it’s the same thing, just from the other perspective. When it gets down to it, there’s a much deeper tension to this episode in terms of its attempts to tackle what are, essentially, real world issues. It’s epitomised at the beginning of the episode, really; upon seeing the missing children posters, Rose asks “What sort of person would do this sort of thing?”, and she’s sad in the same way many of us are sad, confronted with the horrors of the real world. That sort of self-defeating horror and sadness where we’re all resigned to the facts of it anyway.

And then the Doctor says “What makes you think it’s a person?”, before dashing off. The implication being, then, that it’s aliens.

In and of itself, I’m not really sure how well something like that works. It feels very crass to bring up something that is, in fact, a genuine real world horror, and then just explain it away with that kind of fictional logic – oh, it’s just aliens. But, then again – murder is a genuine real world horror, and we have aliens murdering people all the time. So, you know, why not? What makes this tasteless but that okay? I do find it hard to say, and I’d be interested in other people’s opinions if you want to drop me an ask.

It does get worse though, and I’m much more inclined to be emphatic in describing this next bit as a mistake. Because this is the episode featuring a child who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, and the embodiment of her abusive father (who was killed while drink driving, let’s not forget) coming back to haunt her… all while children are being captured in drawings. Tonally, it’s a little mismatched; you’re dealing with some astonishingly dark stuff in this episode, to the point that I’d argue Fear Her may well be the darkest episode of the entire new series at this stage, and then you’ve also got the bloody scribble monster running around. While I don’t doubt that you could bind these things together into something really impressive, the fact is that Fear Her just sort of… doesn’t. There’s nothing going on beneath the surface here; it feels as though the abusive parents was just thrown in for the sake of it. And that is something that can only really be described as dropping the ball.

I am quite hard on Doctor Who when I feel like an episode has tried to tackle an overtly political theme, and then dropped the ball; Kill the Moon being an example in recent memory, though interestingly I was a lot less critical at the time than I remember. I suppose in my youth (!!) I was a bit more worried about openly stating political opinions on the blog like that. Fear Her feels like it fits into that same tradition; the story of abuse told here is done in such an awful, tone deaf way as to make the episode deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

Weirdly, that’s actually the second time this season we’ve got a particularly tone deaf story about parental abuse – The Idiot’s Lantern made a similar hash of the whole thing, but at least also had the courtesy to be sort of interesting to watch most of the time. Fear Her really does just sort of feel a lot like filler, with not a huge amount going on other than the crappy stuff.

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There’s another thing in there that I think is perhaps worth talking about though, particularly today. I’m not sure to what extent what I’m saying will be particularly coherent, or indeed insightful; it may simply be that I ruin some perfectly entertaining Doctor Who commentary with a load of old nonsense. We shall see, however.

Much is made of the Olympics in this episode. Particularly it’s the Oympics as a symbol of hopes and dreams and aspirations; the Olympics as a symbol of unity, and of love.

I’ve never really made up my mind on what I think about the Olympics, to be perfectly honest. I’ve never really been interested in sport, and at the time of the actual Olympics in 2012 I don’t think I actually watched very many of the events. In fact, I do actually recall ignoring one of the races to read a Doctor Who book, which probably tells you a lot about me – or perhaps tells you very little, given much of that could be surmised from the blog itself.

There is, of course, the fact that any sufficiently large organisation is going to experience issues with corruption – the Olympics is no exception. Just look at Rio, really; that could well be a disaster. While as far as I’m aware the London ones went reasonably well (and I stress that awareness is a limited one) it’s to be acknowledged that the Olympics in practice aren’t always what the Olympics symbolise in theory.

But it is very nice symbolism, isn’t it? The world, drawing together, to celebrate skills and abilities and, above all, to have a bit of fun together.

And that is, in a roundabout way, what this episode was trying to say. That we’re all better off together. That strength is found in communities; that isolationism ultimately only hurts us.

That what we need is a hand to hold.

In a strange cosmic coincidence, then, the anniversary of Fear Her – the episode dedicated to a moment which, in many ways, defined us as a nation – has fallen on a day which will also come to define Britain for a very long time.

Now, I don’t know about you, but… I think I’d rather reach for the optimism of the Olympics than the alternative posed to us today.

5/10

(I mean, for all the nice Olympic symbolism, the episode was still a bit naff – I’m only being kind because of the extenuating circumstances!)

Related:

Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor Reviews

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Bryan Fuller reveals exciting details about new Star Trek series!

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Something I’ve always admired about Star Trek is the vision of an inclusive future that it put forward – I’m glad that’s going to preserved in the new series, because I feel like today, that’s a vision we need more than ever. 

Something a little happier than what we had this morning, with an article about Bryan Fuller’s new Star Trek series.

I’m particularly looking forward to it; of course, on one level that’s because I’m a huge Trekkie and I kinda always have been. Star Trek is, after all, rather brilliant. But more than that, what I’m really looking forward to is a show with a little hope – something I think we all need these days.

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What does Brexit mean for the TV and Film industry?

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EU funding has been important to other ventures too, of course; notable movies in recent years that have received, and been dependent on, funding from Europe included Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady (€1.5m), Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (€1.3m), and historical movie The King’s Speech (€1m). In terms of television, the EU’s Media Desk provided funding for Sky’s The Last Panthers, as well as Hinterland, Shaun the Sheep, and Inside Obama’s White House for the BBC.

The Olswang Media Group – an international law firm renowned for their experience and expertise in the area of technology, media and telecoms – commissioned an independent report on the impact of Brexit, which can be read in full here. It highlights the potential damage done by restricting free movement of industry professionals, the likelihood of losing important subsidies and support, as well as the general uncertainty which will afflict the industry for a long time to come. 

New Yahoo article from me, on Brexit, and its effect on the TV and film industry. As with a lot of industries following this vote, it’s in a pretty precarious position.

Gotta admit, I am very worried about this vote; it genuinely seems that the country has been co-opted by a very specific, and a very ugly, set of ideologies. This is not a future I ever would have hoped for, or ever wanted to live in.

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Doctor Who and the Music of Murray Gold

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There are plenty of wonderful scores amongst Gold’s earlier oeuvre, naturally. Highlights during Tennant’s era include This is Gallifrey, a genuinely majestic that’s absolutely befitting of the Time Lords (I can often be found humming it while walking down the street) as well as the haunting, ethereal theme Doomsday. I’m also quite fond of the piece written for Madame du Pompadour, from The Girl in the Fireplace, and I’m convinced that “Song for Ten” is possibly the most quintessentially Christmassy music ever composed. 

Another Yahoo article from me! This one is all about Doctor Who music. I must admit, I don’t know a lot about music – but I do know what I like.

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Orphan Black: In Tribute to Tatiana Maslany

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The mark of a really talented actor is if, when watching them play dual roles, the audience forgets that they’re watching a single actor. Maslany has this skill in spades – each character she portrays is so nuanced, and yet so meaningfully distinct, that it’s very easy to lose track of the fact that you’re just watching one woman. Sarah is as different from Alison as Alison is as different from Cosima as Cosima is from Helena as Hele – well, you get the picture.

Across the past few weeks, I’ve been making an effort to catch up on Orphan Black – I’m partway through the 3rd season, and I’m really enjoying it. The chief reason being, of course, Tatiana Maslany – she’s a genuine phenomenon. It’s honestly consistently astounding to see her performance each week; and thus, I wrote an article about it!

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Supergirl Season 1 Review

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I think the standout strength of the series is Melissa Benoist – and I’m certainly not alone in highlighting this. She’s absolutely perfect for the role of Kara, having created a character who’s genuinely endearing and a delight to watch. More than that, though, she really captures that bright and cheerful optimism that, to my mind, is so essential for a hero. Of course, Benoist isn’t limited to just charming awkwardness – she has real range as an actress, which goes a long way towards depicting Kara as a nuanced, three dimensional character. 

This one is, in fact, yesterday’s article! It’s a review of Supergirl, which I have really, really enjoyed this past year. Watched it with my pal Gibbs, and it was lots of fun to discuss it with him each week. Certainly, it’s been my favourite of all the DC TV offerings over the past year. Excellent stuff.

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The Shared Universe Between Supergirl, Parks and Rec, Scandal and more!

You may have recognised the man in the picture above as Perd Hapley, one of the funniest of Parks and Recreation’s recurring background characters. Perd was a newscaster with a fairly unique set of inflections and turn of phrase, which lead to a lot of funny moments across the course of the show’s run.

Did you recognise him when he was on Supergirl, though?

Something more of a joke-y, fun article today. It made me laugh, at any rate, but my sense of humour is fairly subjective.

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