Sunday, 19 January 2014

What to Watch Next: The Long Game & The Happiness Patrol

RTD's let it be known that "The Long Game" was a rework of a script he'd attempted for the show back in the Cartmel era, so there's that much of a connection right there. A satire about the state of the media certainly would have fit well enough in the '80s (that it works as well as it does now suggests a host of problems, but on the part of society rather than the writer). It's actually rather easy to imagine a Season 27 version of this story where the Doctor and his new companion are investigating, while Sophie Aldred plays Anna Maxwell Martin's part.

(In the course of revision, he tried a version largely from Adam's point of view, but abandoned this as making Rose and the Doctor seem a little too alien - probably dispatching him would also have been rather trickier if he'd been our viewpoint character.)

But yes, two stories about the Doctor successfully overcoming an odious repressive regime in the course of mere hours...and if the Seventh Doctor turns out to have done it rather better than the Ninth, it's not entirely the latter's fault that everything goes pear shaped. Though the thought that stories written these days are even more cynical than the ones being written at the height of Thatcher's Britain is disturbing (see also: Moffat deciding the sonic screwdriver is a gun, and the general sense these days that the Doctor is causing as many problems as he's solving. But that's another conversation entirely.) Meantime:

"The Long Game"

Now if only there was a giant slavering jaw overhead, it'd be perfect.
"Shaun of the Dead Trailer"

Truthfully, the best-of from "Spaced" would have made more sense (Simon Pegg's first big project, a sharp and exquisitely hilarious sitcom that he wrote and starred in with Jessica Hynes [Joan Redfern, of course, which goes to prove that Joan could have had a terrific sense of humour if Cornell had written her that way], and endlessly funny). However, that video committed the grave fault of ruining the series-ending gag, so instead have a trailer that doesn't actually give away all the good bits.

(The actual movie is wittier, since it gets to build up its jokes, and even contemplative in places, but you'll get a fairly good idea of it from that video. Oh, and Tamsin Greig's in this as well - in "The Long Game" she plays the nurse.)

 "CNN news clip"
The mind, frankly, boggles at which possible cable news parody to go with here, given that "making fun of cable news programmes" is now an entire subgenre of television and can be found all over the Internet. Davies' core idea might have been slightly more prescient if it'd actually been made in the '80s, but then again, there's "Vengeance on Varos".

So let's assume that no one actually needs an similar example of satirically deranged broadcasters (this is what the Comedy Central website is for, really) and go on to something less obvious, such as a genuinely deranged cable news clip. Like this frantic attempt to summarise Doctor Who into a digestible two-and-a-half-minute news segment for Americans.

It's unduly hilarious. And Paul McGann gets out of that wig for a change.

In which an amiable Welsh man with a camera shows off the train station with the longest name in the world, and tries to teach you how to pronounce it. Welsh doesn't run everything together like, say, German, but anyone who fancies long words has run across the anecdote about this particular one. Perhaps Pegg would have had an easier time remembering Max's name if Davies had simply put together some words in actual Welsh.

(Oh look, BBC Worldwide has the clip. Someone there has a sense of humour.).

"Shock the Monkey"
Director Brian Grant has picked this of the two hundred plus music videos he did in the '80s to put on his official Youtube channel, so might as well go along with that. He's had quite an interesting career even apart from DW.

"Look Around You"
And just to confuse matters, here's one of the other shows Simon Pegg was starring in in 2005 - a sly parody of '80s programming. Which leads us to...

"The Happiness Patrol"

They considered doing the whole serial in black and white. Ponder that when you reach the last entry.
"Bertie Bassett advert"
Bassett & Co was rather sniffy about the Kandyman and the BBC had to sweet talk them out of legal kerfluffles. So there shaln't ever be a sequel, at least not with the Kandyman in it. 
(The writer hadn't intended a look like that at all for his villain, but the designers had lots of fun.)

"Nicolae Ceausecu"
That whole "I can hear the sound of empires toppling" overthrow-the-government-overnight business obviously wasn't unfamiliar to the DW milieu, but the rest of the world going along with it was something else again.
(Obviously the collapse of the Soviet Union wasn't as abrupt as all that - Poland's Solidarity movement had been in existence for nearly ten years before breaking away - but still.)

"Spitting Image"
In the interests of not traumatizing the readership,  comedic parody of Maggie Thatcher instead of the genuine article. Like the Muppet Show, not so much a puppet show as a programme with puppets, only instead of light entertainment and celebrities, sardonic political satire...well, and some more celebrities. And whatever category you care to put Rupert Murdoch in, which leads us back to "The Long Game".

"Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Just going out of the charts as "The Happiness Patrol" was starting. Considering it an ironic counterpoint either because or despite Bobby McFerrin's sincerity is left as an exercise for the reader.

"As Time Goes By"
One, because McCoy's stab at it in this story is sufficiently painful that a corrective is required. Two, because yours truly has always reckoned that Aldred is slightly reminiscent of the great Hollywood star and this is as apt a place to mention that as any. Something to do with that cheeky smile.

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