Where'd Everybody Go?
There was a newspaper that used to use as their tagline: "Miss a day, miss a lot".
Bloggers have a duty to keep on blogging--it's one of the main reasons I've tried to avoid set, regular postings. But methinks I've managed to slide a bit too far the other way.
There's no excuse for this. I mean, as busy as I am you'd think there was time for a post. Like this one.
First and foremost
I'd like to blog briefly about Doctor Who. As an old fan of the series (though not so old as some, having been born some ten years after it started) I was pleasantly surprised by the updated version. The new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, has managed to channel the spirit of William Hartnell, giving the character an insatiable appetite for life, while occasionally, sparingly, showing that the Doctor is not without emotion.
Okay: Now for the rough stuff. I was really excited about the reappearance of the Daleks. For those of you who can't understand why these silly-looking pepperpots were ever thought of as menacing, you'll have to take my word that yes, kiddies used to hide behing the settee or sofa (whichever you grew up with in your living room) when those eyestalk-and-blaster-waving dustbins rolled through.
Last episode, the Doctor and his new companion Rose found their way into an underground bunker in Utah in 2012, where a megalomaniac billionaire who owns the internet ("What? No-one owns the internet!" "Ri-ight. And let's just let them keep on believing that, shall we?") is hording the last battered Dalek.
The new Dalek was dope. Smoother, more menacing, apparently capable of independant thought and conversation beyond the old "Exterminate! Exterminate!" The technicial types who set this one up had given a lot of thought to what a creature which was essentially a tank for conquering the universe would need. Bonus points to whoever came up with the rotating gun-and-sucker section, which whirls around like a tank turret. Likewise, it was fun to watch a Dalek float up stairs, reason its way out of a jam, and "sucker" someone to death.
But--and this is my complaint with Star Wars as well, and even the Hannibal Lecter franchise: Why do we seem compelled to make our greatest baddies into heroes? Or try to give them human faces?
From Thirty-Something, a link about Star Wars. Darth Vader started out in Epospde IV as Pure Evil on legs. Now he's this whiny punk who went to the Dark Side for the same reason kids paint their bedrooms black. Why? Because Lucas felt that we needed to see what could cause a Good Man to become the ultimate baddie. Hey George, since you're busy revising history anyway, could you destroy Episodes I through III and wipe our memories?
Hannibal Lecter was so dangerous he didn't need reasons or motivation, and both Thomas Harris and Brian Cox brought him to a sort of "I'm-so-evil-I-look-ordinary" perfection. You didn't need rolling eyes or a flickering tongue or remarks about Chianti and cenus-taker's liver to see the evil in him. I'm talking about Brian Cox's "Manhunter" portrayal, not Anthony Hopkins' overdone ones.
But the worst thing was what Harris was allowed to do to him. Book one showed us a pure evil Lecter, with a papier-maché mask to hide it's flowing, pulsing bulk. Book two showed us that Lecter had a few wants and desires of his own and wasn't above killing people to achieve his aims--Belabouring the point, but okay.
Then we get to book three, and Harris £ü¢λs it up completely. Now Hannibal the Cannibal is a scared little boy watching starving bandits in Latvia or somewhere chow down on his baby sister. Worse yet, he turns into the rescuing angel who sweeps Clarice Starling off her feet (another wonderfully raw character in the second book, she's reduced to a jaded-cop stereotype in the third) hypnotises her into "denying her father and refusing his name", and persuades her to join him for a little snack--a corrupt FBI agent's brains (and if you, O Avid Fan--a term I actually stole from Red Dragon/Manhunter--don't think I tried to find a picture of that little episode, you are sadly mistaken).
Now the Last Dalek has fallen prey to the same black beast. Really cool villain? Okay, let's make him suck up some DNA from the heroine and become like, sensitive. Give it an identity crisis (which allows it to kill all the humans who don't understand it while sparing it's "mum"). And finally, open the Dalek casing to expose the tender bit inside--you can excuse it by claiming that it wants to see the sun before it dies.
Hell, at one point the Dalek gets asked: "What do you want?" and replies, after an agonising dramatic pause "Free-dom". A real Dalek would have responded:
"The ex-ter-min-a-tion of all other life forms!"
Now that I come to think of it the smooth look (the creators call it the "bling" Dalek), the witty, urbane banter, the newfound sensitivity. . .
My God--it's a Dalek Metrosexual!
I'll be watching the series for more Daleks, and hopefully they'll give up this teddy-bear crap. What next? Cybermen wondering what to wear with chrome? I want my baddies bad.