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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


May 9, 2013

Review: Wonder Woman #19/Justice League #19/Superman #19/Injustice: Gods Among Us #12-17/Justice League of America #1-3

Posted on May 9, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman #19

In keeping with this 'ere blog's slightly unplanned 'pagan week', it's time for the (increasingly belated) monthly round-up of the comic-book appearances of everyone's favourite pagan superheroine, Wonder Woman.

After March's month of face-palming, April proved to be a somewhat better month for our Wondy, with the Amazon princess finally giving Orion the punching he deserved in Wonder Woman #19, going to Lois Lane's house-warming and giving her new secret identity, Diana Prince, its first real outing in Superman #19, and trying to set the world to rights by kicking terrorists' asses with her new boyfriend in Justice League #19. Unfortunately, though, it looks like nothing can save Injustice: Gods Among Us from being facepalm-central.

I'm also adding to the roster of comics: after trying to save my pennies, I've had to play catch up with Justice League of America #1-3, seeing as Diana features quite heavily. Kind of. And all I'll say about that that not-so-illustrious title until after the jump is "What the hell is Catwoman not wearing?"

Continue reading "Review: Wonder Woman #19/Justice League #19/Superman #19/Injustice: Gods Among Us #12-17/Justice League of America #1-3"

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May 8, 2013

The Wednesday Play: Penda's Fen (1974)

Posted on May 8, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

King Penda

Paganism, while not exactly featuring heavily in the more secular and Christian-influenced television drama schedules of Western societies, hasn't been completely invisible over the past few decades. As we're shortly to discover (ie either on Thursday or Friday when I write about it in much greater detail), British writers, particularly those who were working in the 70s, have occasionally taken time out to examine other religions in drama.

Despite coming from a family of strict evangelical Christians, one of the main writers to do so is David Rudkin. As well as translating Greek pagan works, such as those of Aeschylus and Euripides, Rudkin examined British paganism in plays and long-form series such as The Stone Dance, The Sons of Light and ultimately Artemis 81.

One of his major works was a Play For Today: Penda's Fen. Directed by Alan Clarke, who normally was a strictly realist director and who admits he didn't really understand it, the play is an evocation of the conflicting forces within England, both past and present. These include authority, tradition, hypocrisy, landscape, art, sexuality, and most of all, its mystical, ancient pagan past. In the play, all of this comes together in the growing pains of the adolescent Stephen, a vicar's son, who encounters angels, Edward Elgar and King Penda, the last pagan king of England, during the play.

Since its broadcast, Penda's Fen has gone on to be regarded as a minor classic. Leonard Buckley (no relation) of The Times wrote: "Make no mistake. We had a major work of television last night. Rudkin gave us something that had beauty, imagination and depth." In 2006, Vertigo magazine described it as “One of the great visionary works of English film” while in 2011, it was chosen by Time Out London magazine as one of the 100 best British films, describing it as:

"A multi-layered reading of contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and metaphysical fault lines. Fusing Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with a heightened socialism of vibrantly localist empathy, and pagan belief systems with pre-Norman histories and a seriously committed - and prescient - ecological awareness, ‘Penda’s Fen’ is a unique and important statement."

And it's your Wednesday Play - enjoy!

Further reading: Sparks in Electric Jelly

May 7, 2013

Mini-review: Doctor Who - 7x11 - The Crimson Horror

Posted on May 7, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Crimson Horror

In the UK: Saturday, 6.15pm, 4th May 2013, BBC1/BBC1 HD. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: Saturday, 8pm/7c, 4th May 2013, BBC America

Not worth a full review, more a mini-review this, I think, since despite the presence of Diana Rigg (and daughter) in the cast, a reference to Tegan and a nice joke about Tom Tom (the sat nav, not the fourth Doctor), this was a pretty meh episode. It started off well enough, going for northern comedy and Victoriana, which are writer Mark Gatiss's real strengths. Rigg was good, everyone was acting fine, and despite being Doctor-and-Clara-lite, it was engrossing, right down to Murray Gold's Sherlock-riffs in the soundtrack.

But then it just sort of carried on, progressively becoming thinner, more predictable and less interesting as it tried to deport itself not as merely a comedy, but as a proper Doctor Who story, complete with evil, incredibly shit-looking beastie (we're talking Invisible Enemy shit, here). Not even an Avengers joke, more references to Clara's significance and a certain Sontaran getting to shoot people for a change could lift it from the "When's this going to end, again?" Which is a shame, because as a comedy, it would have been a really good episode, I reckon.

Oh well, it's Neil Gaiman doing Cybermen next week, albeit with the addition of a couple of kids to the companion line-up. Fingers crossed, it should be better.

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