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December 19, 2007

Review: The Companion Chronicles - Old Soldiers

Posted on December 19, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Old SoldiersAfter yesterday's tussle with awfulness - aka the Companion Chronicles' Helicon Prime - we come face to face with something a whole lot better. Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier has been a companion of sorts - or at the very least a practising Friend of the Doctors - since the Troughton years, appearing opposite him, Hartnell (in The Three Doctors), Pertwee (for most of the era), Tom Baker (a couple of stories), Davison (The Five Doctors and Mawdryn Undead) and Sylvester McCoy (Battlefield). He's also been something of a Big Finish regular, cropping up in The Spectre of Lanyon Moor (with Colin Baker), Minuet in Hell (with Paul McGann), the UNIT range of stories as well as a few others. So quite why they need him to have one of his own Companion Chronicles, I'm not sure.

All the same, of the three stories in the second series of the Companion Chronicles, Old Soldiers is probably the best. A traditional narrative in which Courtney reads the story to the listener rather than to another actor, it's firmly in keeping with the Pertwee era and fleshes out both the Brigadier and UNIT a little.

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December 19, 2007

Some further additions to The Canon

Posted on December 19, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

On Monday, I came up with the idea of The Canon: the films and TV programmes British people need to have watched to be a literate member of society who understands British culture.

My, hasn't that gone down a storm?

All the same, I'm carrying on since I think it's relatively worthwhile doing.

My latest thought on the subject is that there might well be two Canons - one for men and one for women. I came to this conclusion by examining the following films and TV shows:

Group 1: The Italian Job; The Sweeney; Monty Python's Flying Circus; The Professionals; The Fast Show
Group 2: Sex and the City; Pride and Prejudice; Bridget Jones' Diary

Now, if you're a British male, you will need to have watched all the shows in Group 1 to be able to function properly in British culture. If you don't, you will not understand the deep cultural significance of "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!", "Shut it!", the Ministry of Silly Walks, the Ford Capri and "Scorchio!", phrases and topics that will pop into conversation at various points of your life and which you'll have to have patiently explained to you like you're a small child if you don't know what they are.

If you're a British female, there will be no expectation that you know anything about anything in Group 1. Even if you do know about them, no British male will try to discuss them in conversation unless you raise the subject yourself - and you'll probably be hailed and saluted if you do (and potentially thought a little odd, unfortunately).

However, there will be an expectation among other women that you know about Manolo Blahniks, Colin Firth swimming in a lake and giant pants*. Men knowing about any of these things risk being thought of as gay, which as we all know, Will Never Do. Unless you're gay.

So at the very least, there need to be two Canons. Nevertheless, there's also a very big overlap. Doctor Who, formerly part of the male Canon, is now officially in both groups thanks to Billie Piper and David Tennant. Whether you're male or female, you need to have a passing acquaintanceship with both EastEnders and Coronation Street and know that houses/planes blow up a lot in Emmerdale. The Sweeney might well be moving into both groups, too, thanks to the necessity to understand it to get to grips with Life on Mars.

Any suggestions for shows that belong in only the male Canon or the female Canon? Or indeed both?

* This might only be true for middle class women.

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December 18, 2007

Review: The Companion Chronicles - Helicon Prime

Posted on December 18, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Helicon Prime

I don't remember the Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who being particularly sh*t. There was a multitude of classics - Tomb of the Cybermen, Invasion, The Moonbase, Enemy of the World, The War Games, The Faceless Ones, and The Mind Robber to name but a few. Sh*t it was not.

So why then have Big Finish, when given two chances to finally put together a couple of Patrick Troughton stories through their Companion Chronicles range, decided that 'sh*t' was the defining characteristic of the era? In series one of the Companion Chronicles, we had the Zoe tale Fear of the Daleks, which was just painful to listen to. Now we have Frazer Hines reading another piece of rubbish. Oh dear.

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