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ggreig: (Western gentleman)
For anyone hanging on tenterhooks as to what's on the second disk of Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards, it is...

...Space 1992: Apocalypse Suite For Orchestra & Choir, featuring the Cowdenbeath Symphony Orchestra. It's an orchestral version of the album, with the tracks renamed after a quote from each (including track 9 of course, An Epic War Is Fight). It's a decent performance, and interesting to hear that it adapts so comfortably, but frankly I prefer the electric bombast of the original.

Sadly, there are no details of the composition of "the Cowdenbeath Symphony Orchestra" in the credits and the only mention I could find online was in reference to the album, but amongst the small print there was this disclaimer of which I approve:

No unicorns were harmed in the making of this album. However, 5.448 billion humans were terminally harmed in the destruction of Earth during track 10. This was an unfortunate side-effect for which we apologise profusely. Please send any complaints to the Dark Sorcerer Zargothrax at the following address: zargothrax at gloryhammer.com
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

A thousand years have passed since the events of Tales From the Kingdom of Fife, when Zargothrax, Dark Sorcerer of Auchtermuchty, invaded Dundee with an army of undead unicorns before eventually being imprisoned in a frozen pool of liquid ice, encasing his immortal body in a cage of eternal frost. (“Seems legit”, as the top comment under the relevant YouTube video says.)

Now, in the far distant future year of 1992, Zargothrax is released from his prison of frost by a cult of unholy chaos wizards, and Dundee and the Galactic Empire of Fife must be defended from their evil domination by King Angus McFife XIII (descendant of the original Crown Prince Angus McFife) and the eagle-riding Knights of Crail.

Yes, it’s Gloryhammer’s second album, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. (Buy it!)

Like the previous album, it romps joyously through a Fife-flavoured galaxy of cheese. It’s a worthy successor, but with more laser-powered hammers, chambers of cryogenetical fire, robots, cosmic rage (of Astral Dwarves from Aberdeen), and eagle-riding Space Knights of Crail.

Stylistically, it’s still HEROIC FANTASY POWER METAL (of course), but as befits a more futuristic epic, there’s a greater role for synthesisers than was previously the case.

The previous tale concluded in the ten-minute Epic Rage of Furious Thunder. This album doesn’t pull its punches either, with another 10 minute epic finale – Apocalypse 1992. I can’t express how accurately this track captures the far-off technological future of 1992 – you’ll just have to listen to it and find out for yourself.

As for me – I’m also waiting, for the physical album to arrive, so that I can find out what the disc of bonus tracks has to offer…

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

God help us! The Iguanodon's loose!

A tranquil street scene – just before the populace become aware that an Iguanodon has escaped from the Zoological Gardens.

There’s a Highland company called Antediluvian Miniatures that have started producing proper miniatures of dinosaurs, taking into account the very latest scientific thinking – of the 1850s. As yet their range is small, but includes the two most iconic early representations of dinosaurs: the Crystal Palace Iguanodon and Megalosaurus! (Also, not included in this post, but I have to mention them – three intrepid adventurer figures including Shug McClure, Raquel Scotch and the finest of all: Professor Peter Cushion, adjusting his monocle and preparing to fend SOMETHING off with a furled umbrella.)

I should also mention that Antediluvian Miniatures have a very cool t-shirt, featuring their mascot Professor Buckland.

The real Crystal Palace IguanodonsThere’s a good chance you’re aware of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, if not, then Wikipedia and other places are your friend.

The Iguanodon figure isn’t a perfect replica of either of the ones at Crystal Palace, but it’s more like the one standing upright.

The Crystal Palace dinosaurs are often given as an example of how scientists of an older generation got things hilariously wrong, especially the Iguanodon with the horn on its nose (now known to have been a thumb-spike), but the Iguanodons actually show a greater humility from Sir Richard Owen than our caricature allows. The two Iguanodons are different, with the one that Antediluvian have taken as their inspiration standing upright, while the other one is more lizard-like, and lounges on the ground with one paw up on a tree-trunk. There was doubt even at the time that these reconstructions were correct – they were just the latest theory.

When painting these two I tried to get something in between the look of the statues and something that could be a real beast, so the Iguanodon is a bit more vibrant than one of my paint jobs would usually be, making the faded shade of the statue look more lively. That’s the current colour of the statue, of course, as that's what I could find in photos; the colour they’re painted has changed over time as well as our theories of what the beasts were actually like.

Iguanodon wandering the Zoological Gardens

I defy you to spot the joins – both the Iguanodon and the Megalosaurus come with separate legs. I did apply a bit of Milliput as filler, but the fit of the moulded parts was really good, to a level that I know must be difficult for figure designers to achieve, judging by the frequency with which they don’t attain it. I was really impressed with these models. The Iguanodon is resin with metal legs, while the Megalosaurus is all resin.

Iguanodon figure inspired by Crystal Palace - right sideIguanodon figure inspired by Crystal Palace - left side

Rather annoyingly, there’s a mould-line that shows up in these photos of the Megalosaurus that’s actually hard to pick up with the naked eye under most conditions. The light in these photos hit it just right – or wrong. It’s also intended to look like a potentially living version of the real statue. The Megalosaurus also comes with scale replicas of the original fossils (not included in these pictures, and not yet painted, though I have some other scale fossils for them to go with).

Megalosaurus figure inspired by Crystal Palace - right sideMegalosaurus figure inspired by Crystal Palace - left side

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Or, Reinventing The Torch.

In Doctor Who, the Master’s signature weapon is the Tissue Compression Eliminator, which kills by shrinking the target to the size of a doll (the scale of the doll is, for some reason, never specified). It’s mostly used by the Master as played by Anthony Ainley in the 1980s, and in those stories takes the form of a thick rod with a bulb at the end that opens, crocus-like, to fire a red beam.

However, it made its first appearance in the Master’s very first story, Terror of the Autons, in which Roger Delgado’s Master wielded a rather more stylish version resembling a cigar, and fired by pressing with the thumb:

The Ainley period Tissue Compression EliminatorThe Delgado period Tissue Compression Eliminator

Knowing I was going to be attending a Doctor Who convention and would be expected to dress accordingly, it occurred to me – before last season’s revelation about the Master – that a) I had the beard for the part and b) had always fancied a jacket with a Nehru collar. A bit of hair colouring would convert my largely white beard to the original Master’s two-tone badger-style goatee. Couldn’t do much about the hairline.

What I couldn’t easily accept, adapt or get hold of, however, was the Master’s TCE, so I thought about building one.

The Core

My first thought was to buy aluminium tubing and telescope short sections of it together, but it proved difficult to find sizes guaranteed to telescope and although the prices were reasonable for the amount I wanted, minimum order amounts were – less so. I headed out to the nearest hardware store and inspiration, of a sort, struck. Toilet roll holders – the sprung, plastic sort – would do the job for a few quid.

I bought a handful of black ones on the spot to experiment with, and ordered some silver ones from eBay. The black ones were noticeably better quality, but using a silver one as my base would give me a much better finish for the sliding section than I could possibly have achieved using paint. I also found I could fix some if its issues by opening up a big enough hole in the larger end to work the weedy spring out and replace it with a stronger spring from one of the black ones.

The Circuitry

Having found something that could form a good base to work on, the next thing to consider was what to put inside it if I wanted it to appear to work. Well, electrically that’s not hard. What I would need would be a power source, and something that would light up when a switch was closed. It’s a torch!

Circuit diagram for the Tissue Compression Eliminator

With appropriate circuit board to mount them on, I could fit seven LEDs (arranged hexagonally, with one in the middle) within the diameter of the toilet roll holder. A bit of browsing at Proto-Pic turned up what I wanted; a 1" circular protoboard. I did have to trim it down a bit to fit, but it gave me a good starting point. I also got some Super Bright Red LEDs. I already had resistors to hand, and a small selection of switches which happened to include a suitable one.

The circuit couldn’t get much simpler and was easy to throw together on a solderless breadboard just to check everything worked. Then the tricky bit was to work out how to wire it up in practice, cram it all inside a toilet roll holder without breaking anything, and provide a way of activating the switch.

Building The Shell

It was obvious the LEDs would have to be mounted inside and at the front somehow. However, a single toilet roll holder was neither long enough to represent the TCE, nor would it be possible to mount the LEDs inside its broader half – there would be nowhere to attach them, and that space also contained the spring. Even if that hadn’t been the case, it would have been very tight and might have necessitated cutting down on LEDs. This is where the black toilet roll holders came into play.

By cutting the bigger part of a black toilet roll holder to a suitable length, and then sawing a slit along it, it was possible to prise it open and fit it as a sleeve around the silver one. This again gave the right colour without the need for painting, and it made it possible to extend the length of the TCE with a double skin – an inner, un-slit tube simply stacked on the front of the silver one, and a slit sleeve embracing them both. The slit tubes would require filling later to cover the gap, but again a good structural foundation was in place.

With the idea for the extension of the muzzle established, the problem of where to mount the LEDs was solved, as they would go inside that rather than the body of the main holder.

Planning The Interior

With that settled, the next most obvious decision was that power would have to go at the other end, so that it could be easily inserted and replaced. To power the LEDs, I wanted a 6V power supply. Within the space available, that meant I’d need to go with with several watch batteries, but I managed to get an AAA battery holder that fit nicely inside the thinner half of the toilet roll holder, and found that LR44 watch batteries would fit nicely within that. Taping four 1.5V LR44s into one slightly bigger 6V battery with insulation tape and adding a longer spring to the battery holder to hold them in place solved the power supply problem.

With both power and light source at least notionally sorted out, the tricky bit was how to connect them up successfully, with a switch in between that would be activated by the narrow end of the toilet-roll holder being pushed in.

How To Press The Switch

I had a small press-to-close switch that would fit inside the narrow end, and was about the same width as the battery holder. I could mount it (and the resistor) at the positive end of the battery holder, and hopefully attach some sort of plunger to the far end of the toilet-roll holder that would come down and press the switch closed when the smaller tube was pushed into the larger one.

I considered other alternatives, the main one being conductive paint on the outside of the small tube being brought into contact with more on the larger tube, but whenever I thought about reliability, I came back to the plunger option. Paint would have been very prone to wear and tear, and (as the conductive paint is black) painting over it to restore the silver look would reintroduce connectivity problems and spoil the look.

However, a plunger presented problems too. It had to be long enough to press the switch, but not so long that it would cause mechanical problems by pressing too hard – a tricky measurement to make confidently inside a tube and out of sight. It had to be broad enough to be sure of hitting the switch, and to prevent it being easily knocked out of alignment, but narrow enough to avoid catching on the lip of the narrower tube, and getting caught up in the spring. Finally, it had to share the confined space with the wires connecting the power end of the assembly to the LEDs, without fouling or putting strain on them – or doing the same to itself.

The solution I came up with was to build a plunger that was fixed at one end, but had the other end sprung.

Building The Plunger

In order to accommodate a spring with the least hassle possible, I started with an old modelling paintbrush for the shaft of the plunger. It was roughly equivalent to a piece of narrow dowel, but with the advantage of being already hipped. I measured things out and cut it so that I could just slide a small spring on, and the broad part of the paintbrush would hold it in place. Then I built up each end with Sugru and a circle of plastic card to fix things, provide flat surfaces at either end, and make the plunger robust.

Making one end of the plunger sprung provided a couple of benefits. It allowed for a soft press on the switch, so that it didn’t matter so much if I didn’t get my measurements quite right; and it prevented catching on the lip of the narrower tube from being a problem – if it did occur, the sprung tip would flex slightly until it just slipped in, rather than getting stuck.

The most worrisome part was getting the wiring to share the same space. Ultimately, I just drilled holes through the ends of the plunger for each wire, with enough space to let it move fairly freely, and hoped.


Parts before assembly - click through for full sizeHaving – more or less – worked  out all the parts necessary, it was time to try to bring everything together. I’ve not done a lot of soldering in the last 25 years, so creating a circular array of 7 LEDs wired in parallel kept me busy for a while, and worried about short circuits, as there wasn’t a lot of space to work with the wire I had. Connecting up switch and resistor on a little piece of protoboard and connecting it to both the battery holder and the wire that would connect to the LEDs was challenging within the space available too. Both of these went well, though, and I used more Sugru to fix the switch assembly firmly in place (and provide a bit of additional insulation) at the positive end of the battery holder.

Where I messed up – though I didn’t discover it until later – was the simplest part of the soldering. While connecting a wire to the negative terminal of the battery holder, I overheated the plastic and managed to break the connection between the metal terminal and the spring holding the battery in place. I tried to keep testing everything was still working at every stage, but I missed this and had some worrying debugging of connections later on with a multi-meter when stuff just didn’t work! When eventually discovered, a combination of conductive thread and paint remedied the issue.

I fed the wires through the plunger, with excess that could be cut back once I knew how much slack would be required to attach the LED assembly but allow the battery holder to be pulled out for inserting or removing batteries, and I drilled some extra holes through the stationary end of the plunger to allow me to fix it in place more firmly with thread or wire. I tried thread first, but it was too fiddly and difficult to get right, so I fell back on aluminium modelling wire – and another layer of Sugru to fix the LED assembly in place and avoid short-circuits!

TCE nearly complete

Finishing The Exterior

As already described, the exterior of the barrel was to be built up with parts of the black toilet roll holders. With a bit of specialist super glue for awkward plastics, these went on firmly and the large lengthwise gaps left by slitting them and the smaller circumferential one between the two sections were filled with black Sugru, which I then rolled on greaseproof paper to try to get a reasonably smooth surface. The result wasn’t perfect, but good enough if you weren’t inspecting it closely. The interior of the barrel was painted silver.

The butt end, where the battery holder was inserted, was covered up with a cylindrical rubber ferrule (sold for the foot of a chair), which was just right for the job of a battery cap.

Finally, I added a a bit of copper trim – two strips of plastic card covered with Bare-Metal Foil and attached with the plastics super glue. One covered the join between the two sections of black tubing nicely.

The End Result

The completed TCEThe completed TCEThe completed TCE, lit upThe original, on-screen TCE

The final picture shows the original, for comparison.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Great Martian war from PLAZMA on Vimeo.

Archive recreation for The Great Martian War documentary by impossible factual for History Canada.
Directed by Christian Johnson, (Plazma). and Steve Maher (impossible factual).

Music: "88" by Working for a Nuclear Free City.


ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Fear them!

A double bill with "Back Toy The Future":

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Well, I already knew I was an extremist, as Nick Clegg was kind enough to inform me of it a couple of years ago.

What I hadn’t realised was that I’m practically one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse. According to George Robertson – sorry, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen – Scottish independence would be “cataclysmic in geo-political terms”. Gosh, nice to know we count for so much.

There’s a lot of inflated language going round about the independence campaign and it’s daft. Really, if a measly 8.4% of the UK’s population peacefully vote to govern themselves, that’s going to cause the fall of Western civilisation is it? Particularly when what’s being proposed actually sounds a bit like a loose confederation with the rest of the UK? There’s a lot of good will there, if folk are prepared to stop caricaturing independence for a small country as a global catastrophe, and comparing the Unionist cause to that of Lincoln in the American Civil War.

George Robertson’s a coof – if you don’t believe me, watch him comprehensively lose this debate in Dundee last year, turning a 38% margin in his favour into a 13% lead against him. And remember he was involved in determining the Scottish Parliament’s electoral system that was going to help devolution “kill Nationalism stone dead”.

Let’s take his words as seriously as they deserve, at this, the dawn of the Apocalypse. If the world says it’s time to go, tell me, will you freak out? No; with fires in New York, locusts in Detroit, and zombies in Atlanta, you’ve gotta laugh at the zombie in the front yard:

And I really, really want to thank you for reading to the end. ;-)

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
Must-watch official prequel to The Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary episode:


Aug. 14th, 2013 07:13 am
ggreig: (Western gentleman)
Cool thing on Google Maps. Follow this link and click on the double chevron.
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Metropolis FlippedLast night, I watched The Complete Metropolis, or at least the version that’s as complete as we’re ever likely to get, although it has a few scenes still missing. It is the best version I’ve seen (and the fourth I’ve owned).

Funnily enough, the most immediately obvious improvement is to the captioning! The captions are translated from the originals, and since previously available versions of the film have been so heavily cut that the story is different, the captions have also been rewritten; often not very well. The original captions construct a better narrative. The few remaining missing scenes are replaced by captions in a different font, so you also know what you’ve missed.

Of course, although the captions create the best first impression, the “new” footage (largely unseen since the film’s first seventeen days of showing in Germany in 1927) are invaluable in re-establishing the intended narrative too. Two substantial subplots are reinstated, the symbolism around the seven deadly sins, the Book of Revelation, Babel/Babylon and Robot Maria’s residency in the Yoshiwara nightclub is more clearly spelled out, and we see rather more of the destruction of the machines and the underground city. The recovered footage is of poor quality, even after restoration, with a lot of vertical scratching and a bit of black boxing around the edge. I’m surprised they couldn’t have done a better job of removing the vertical scratching, but in the full context of the movie, honestly you won’t care tuppence.

The first “new” subplot concerns Josaphat, the Thin Man and Georgy 11811. Josaphat and Georgy 11811 make minor appearances in other versions; Josaphat is the administrator Joh Fredersen sacks early on, and Georgy 11811 is the worker whose shift Freder Fredersen takes over in his enthusiasm to find out how the other half live. The Thin Man, Joh Fredersen’s sinister enforcer, is largely absent from other versions, as is the subplot that intertwines these three. Although Georgy 11811 remains a minor character, it’s nice to see that his arc contains both a fall and redemption, and I would go so far as to say that Josaphat becomes the third heroic character in the film, after Freder and Maria.

The second re-established subplot is the relationship between Joh Fredersen, Rotwang and the deceased Hel, loved by them both. Although this is touched on in previous versions, with more time devoted to it it helps to better explain the character of Rotwang. He’s still the archetypical mad scientist with wild hair, staring eyes, and a mechanical hand – but we have a better understanding of why he’s as mad as a box of frogs these days and why he does what he does, rather than him appearing to be a rather random agent of chaos.

More is made of the religious symbolism in the film, and it becomes clear why it’s there. This is much better handled by the previously missing footage, and unified by a sequence where Freder’s hallucinating. Now I finally understand how the statues of the seven deadly sins come to life!

robot_mariaFinally, we see rather more of the destruction of the machines and the underground city and although there’s little added to the plot by these sequences it does help to flesh out why things are happening as they are. Without these sequences, some of the destruction seems a bit random, but they become more coherent with the missing footage added back in. Particularly worthy of note are Robot Maria and the mob storming the Moloch Machine, and a much fuller sequence of the destruction of the Heart Machine, which triggers the flooding. First of all, the Heart Machine is clearly identified as such, and then we see how the mob get at it, leaving me with rather more sympathy for Grot, the Chief Foreman, than I’ve felt in previous versions. The flooding sequences are extended, and more time’s spent building up their tension.

Unless you have a fondness for 1980s music – in which case, Giorgio Moroder’s tinted version is still worth watching – this is the version of Metropolis to see, whether you’re coming to it fresh, or you’ve seen it before and would like to  revisit it. Unless those few missing scenes turn up, this is your best chance to see the movie pretty much as Fritz Lang intended. Ultimately, although it’s still very much of it’s time, Metropolis is a better constructed and more modern movie than you may have thought.

ggreig: (Default)

Apparently the sonic screwdriver has been developed right here in Dundee! (Usual hyperbole applies, but it’s still an interesting development.)

ggreig: (Default)

Well, no Tintin at all actually, but several books with strong links to Tintin and Hergé, including the ligne claire (clear line) style and mid-20th century settings associated with both.

The Yellow "M"Atlantis Mystery

First up are the adventures of Blake and Mortimer, a series of 19 books written between 1950 and 2009, 14 of which are available in English now or will be soon. Created by Edgar P. Jacobs, a Belgian contemporary of and collaborator with Hergé, they recount the adventures of Captain Francis Blake (head of MI5) and his friend, nuclear physicist Professor Philip Mortimer. In a partial reversal of what your character expectations might be, Captain Blake tends to be the cool, calm one, while the Professor has a bit of a temper.

The Yellow “M” was apparently number 1 in the series, and appears to be regarded as a bit of a classic, so it’s a shame I don’t agree. The story of pursuing a somewhat John-MacNab-style villain who pre-announces his crimes is intriguing enough, there’s some weird science, and a nice twist; but it’s all rather clunkingly handled, with an awful lot of excess verbiage, both in narrative boxes and from the characters – I just picked one (of many) largish speech bubble just now and counted 117 words! it doesn’t help that the translation is not really up to scratch. There are quite a number of places where the dialogue just isn’t ringing true, and suddenly you realise “Hang on, this would sound fine in French!” Then a key moment at the end references a previous book – which is fine, except that I thought this was book 1? It turns out it’s only book 1 according to the English publishing order, and that books 2 and 3 actually preceded it in France – not to mention three other volumes that haven’t been published in English at all yet.

It may be of some local interest to Londoners – there’s a lot of chasing around London streets, and I’ve seen it suggested online that Jacobs’ art was particularly  well-researched in that regard. I can’t tell, I’m afraid.

Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was money wasted, but at that point my initial Tintin-tinged enthusiasm for Blake and Mortimer was fading a bit. Luckily Atlantis Mystery restored my faith. The jabber is cut way back, and to a far greater extent the pictures tell the story – and what a story it is! As you can probably guess from the title and the cover, there’s an ancient civilisation with higher tech than us involved and it is just rather a lot of fun. This is far more what I was hoping for, and I didn’t notice any translation issues this time round.

I’ll probably get more of these, but on the basis of the two I’ve read it’s unclear what to expect. Both books despite being written and drawn consecutively by Jacobs himself were of different quality; and later books in the series are by other authors and artists, after Jacobs’ death in 1987. Fingers crossed!

The Rainbow Orchid (Volume 1)

The Rainbow Orchid has been around for over a decade in one form or another, but has been more recently revamped and issued in book form. In fact the final Volume 3 is coming out on Monday (April 2nd). The writer and artist this time (Garen Ewing) is British, and openly acknowledges Tintin’s influence on his work, while making the point that ligne claire is a European style of comic art of which Tintin is only the example we know best in the UK.

I felt this first volume was a little thin, so you might be better waiting for the single volume edition of The Rainbow Orchid that’s apparently also planned, but that is pretty much my only criticism. I was very comfortable with both the style and the content of this story – it flows nicely, the characters are varied and appealing, and best of all there’s a sense of humour to it that may be the strongest link to Tintin. There are differences of course; the young reporter in this tale is not the hero, though he is a catalyst for the quest the actual hero and heroine find themselves on!

I would whole-heartedly recommend The Rainbow Orchid. You can wait for the single-volume edition, or order autographed and sketched-in copies of the individual volumes from Garen Ewing’s shop.

The Adventures of Hergé

I thought this graphic biography might be a light-hearted and fun way to learn a bit about Hergé, but I was wrong. The artwork doesn’t match up to the standard of the other books reviewed here, and while of course a real person’s life isn’t going to be as tidy as a plotted adventure, this book is very episodic with great leaps between episodes in Hergé’s life. Even within particular episodes, it’s not always easy to follow what’s going on. I’m afraid I’d rather have read a “proper” prose book to cover Hergé’s background. Must get hold of Tintin: The Complete Companion someday.

ggreig: (Default)
Cool story from the Early Learning Centre in Dundee.
ggreig: (Saint George)


Find out more about Captain Biplane, intrepid airman from a parallel universe, here, or just jump straight into the first episode of Kidnappers from Mercury. Episode 2 is to come later, followed by Green Pirates of Jupiter! The best way to get notified of future instalments is probably this RSS feed.

ggreig: (Default)

Didn't see that one coming, and was shocked when I read the news yesterday. 63 is no age really, such a shame. Nothing to add that hasn’t been said everywhere else.

ggreig: (Beep the Meep)

Nicholas Courtney, who played the character of Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart on television for 40 years (1968-2008) in Doctor Who has died at the age of 81. The Brigadier was played honestly but with humour, despite an occasionally regrettable penchant for shooting things, and that warmth seemed to be a reflection of the actor. He will be missed.

ggreig: (Beep the Meep)
Dr Who End Of Time Part 2 – Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

Also: Part 1 & Part 3 and (must watch this one): Learn how to draw a Dalek

Ever wondered why the Master never mentioned that knocking in his head before? Watch Part 2 to find out.

ggreig: (Beep the Meep)

On Sunday, I went to see Doctor Who Live: The Monsters Are Coming! at the SECC in Glasgow with [livejournal.com profile] qidane, who drove and selected a lunch location.

I wasn’t sure how it would stand up with an unrelated selection of monsters, and with the Doctor only appearing on screen, but I really enjoyed it.

The underlying story idea will be instantly recognisable to anyone who’s seen the Third Doctor story Carnival of Monsters, and the name of the showman played by Nigel Planer, Vorgenson, is no coincidence. But it’s not the same story, so there are still surprises to be seen. In fact, it’s a sequel, although there’s no need to have seen the original.

One concern was that it would be a pedestrian parade of monsters with not much to recommend it, and at times it was impossible to be unaware that we were seeing the next monster on the list; but the “galactic showman” setup helped to alleviate this and there was a proper storyline developed over the couple of hours of performance. It could have been edited down for TV, but on TV you can use a cut to get directly from one scene to another in a way that just ain’t possible in real life, so that’s not really a criticism. The most filler-y bit was shortly after the interval, when we had a series of clips of Amy Pond on the screen, followed by Liz Ten running around the auditorium shooting at Smilers, but the rest of the time it was more immersive – very immersive, at times.

The Doctor on the screen worked surprisingly well, with live actors interacting pretty seamlessly with the pre-recorded Doctor; and they were clever enough to have him step out of the  2D screen towards the end, though I won’t reveal how that was done in case it spoils the surprise.

Although Nigel Planer headlined, for me the star was actually – Nick Briggs! The only actor from the TV show appearing in person, he managed to pull off a decent Winston Churchill, as well as voices, live, for five different-sounding Daleks, the Cybermen, and others.

A good bit of fun; recommended.

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