It’s been a few weeks since I last updated properly, simply because I haven’t had very much to say which I suppose you could take as a good sign or as a bad sign of things.
For one week only we were blessed with glorious summer weather her in Shropshire with one particular day getting to a high of 33 degrees Celsius, which according to a elderly customer was degrees higher then where his wife was in Spain. As a consequence we have had some incredibly busy lunch times at the Plume with the garden being a fine attraction, a feature which was sadly lacking at the Kynn and let down by a road at the Horseshoes. It wasn’t to last as by the end of the week the heavens reminded us we were very much in England and opened making for a very wet weekend.
So what have I done to keep myself amused?
Well for starters I prepared to have to sully my childhood memories and decided to head to the Cinema and see the new Ghostbusters film and like the fourth Doctor when he was on his way to Logopolis, I was prepared for the worst. The verdict? It was a hell of a lot better then expected and a vast improvement on Ghostbusters 2 but not a patch on the original.
It opens well enough with a tour guide taking a group around a house which has a history of a woman being locked in the cellar and the door never being opened for 200 years followed by a candlestick falling off a table and the tour guide cautiously shooing people out, this of course turns out to be a stage managed ruse only for some sounds coming from the cellar and our foolish tour guide (who totally denies doucing his pants) finding the cellar filling with slime and a ghost slowly emerging from the floor. It is quite a dramatic sequence and I think the child within me got a bit a thrill when the familiar swell of the original Ghostbusters theme was mixed into the sequence.
At first I will admit to finding a little tricky to warm to the new team as I am not really a big fan of Melissa McCartney’s style of humour and found her character a little grating at first, correct me if I’m wrong but has she lost a lot of weight since she was in Mike and Molly? Though I did find it quite amusing that the only reason two of the Ghostbusters have got University funding is because its a very seedy place and the Dean had forgotten they were there.
As with the first movie the first third of the movie deals with the team setting up the Ghostbusters after being kicked out of various Universities and then checking out reported sights of various Ghosts around the city including at the House and the New York Underground. There is a quite a good joke setting up the house when asked who invited them and they name the house owner only to be told he’s been dead for 25 years and the man creeping into shot, and “this is his son”. As with the first movie our first proper encounter of a ghost starts off with the ghost seemingly benign only to have it turn into a screeching slime producing monstrosity.
There are several kisses to the past through out with them originally attempting to set up shop in the Fire Station only to find it too expensive and having to set up above a Chinese Restaurant and continue a running gag about slow service and Wontons, there is a logical reason as to how the Ghostbusters get their logo and there is a gender reversal in the cliché of the good looking but thoroughly stupid secretary which does provide a good number of laughs. Bill Murray makes a cameo as a scientist who is trying to prove they are imposters (going a bit meta there I think), Ozzy Osbourne has a concert smashed up by a ghost and the busters subsequent attempts to catch it which ends with looking at the stage and yelling “Sharon, I’m seeing them again.” Slimer makes a guest appearance towards the end with him stealing Ecto-One and joy riding around the city and pulling a female Slimer and the Marshmallow Man makes a somewhat different cameo.
The bad points: some of the humour is rather juvenile (but I imagine the kids will love it), there could be a lot more busting early on, the villain is rather weak and as with the original movie the fourth Ghostbuster, Patti, is somewhat marginalised and once again doesn’t seem to have a vested interest in being part of the team. Oh and the remixed theme is absolutely appalling and the joke about the Logo Ghost becoming an entity goes on for far too long and makes the climax look cheap.
The cameos by all the living leads of the original are welcome with Ackroyd being a weary Taxi driver who is taking seeing New York over run with ghosts as just another day in the office “look I ain’t going to Chinatown at this time of night, these are only level 5 apparitions, I don’t take nutters and I ain’t afraid of no ghost”, Ernie being the uncle of Patti and explains where they got the Hearse from and both Jeannine (the actresses name eludes me) and Sigourney Weaver have small cameos as well. I did wonder if we’d get a CGI ghost of Harold Ramis but we didn’t and in fairness it probably would have been in poor taste anyway.
Overall it was quite good, a definite seven out of ten.
I finished off Séance on a Wet Afternoon which is a rather short book which is told entirely from the point of view of the two villains who have kidnapped a small girl. It is pretty much done to help promote Myra’s séances (it is established she does have psychic abilities and becomes the denouement) rather then for any sordid reasons (the ransom money is planned to be left with the child), unfortunately the plot doesn’t really add up when you think about it. Why do they keep the child so close to home, especially if they intend to have the mother come round and take part in a séance? Myra is a rather unpleasant woman and her husband Bill who should be the sympathetic villain just comes across as wet and effete, so it is hard to feel any bond with him. Plus Myra makes no attempt to disguise herself when tending to the child accept for putting on an accent and pretending to be French so that would mean she could easily be identified, especially if her reputation as a medium grew. The other flaw I think is that while it is clear Bill accidentally suffocates the small girl when keeping her quite when her mother has visited the house it seems out of place, I think it would have made more sense if she’d had had a fit of some kind due to a health condition they were unaware of. It isn’t a bad book but nor is it great, I will watch the film version and see if it changes my view of the piece, to be fair the prose reads more like a screenplay then a novel.
Last Friday I went to a Beer tasting at Leighton Village hall organised by “Dog Paul” Brewer and it was interesting even though a lot of the science behind brewing I knew from various trips Breweries over the years. For some reason however, perhaps it was because it was so muggy or because of where I was sat (up against the wall by the bar) ,I had a bit of an anxiety attack and decided to bail before I got to stressed out. I haven’t had an attack like that for nearly 13 years so I don’t know why it occured then, answers on a postcard please.
I reacquainted myself with a few old Doctor Who stories, first up was the 1989 adventure Battlefield which opened the 26th season which was the last season of the original run and it stars Slyvester McCoy as the Doctor with Sophie Aldred as Ace, Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier and Jean Marsh as the villainous Morganie. Now from the basic plot description this story should be made of win: King Arthur’s final resting place is on the verge of being uncovered and Excalibur is sending a distress signal which is picked up by the Doctor, but also by Mordred and Morgaine (Morgana la Fey) who are in fact beings from an alternative dimension. Ancelyn (Sir Lancelot) also picks up the signal and has come to prevent Morgaine from getting Excalibur and Morgaine starts a huge battle in order to claim back Excalibur. Turns out that all the knights believe that the Doctor is Merlin and at some point in the Doctor’s future he will be aid to King Arthur, but for him none of this has happened yet. Following?
Well is it any good? Not really I’m afraid. The idea is there but in execution it falls apart, a lot of the acting is attrocious and the various Knights have very plastic looking armour which bends when ever they move. The music is terrible and we have one of the worst jokes in the series’ long history and there are some curious directorial and editing decisions through out.
The first one being the opening scene, so your series has returned after a nine month gap and you have a story which has the body of King Arthur in a tomb with Excalibur sending out some spooky sound, an army convoy with a Nuclear missile getting bogged down and some Knights falling to Earth from Space and stalking the countryside, sound like a good series of scenes for you could choose to open with and what do they choose, two middle-aged people in a garden centre buying a tree. Ok one of them IS the Brigadier but it seems a strange way to no only launch a story with but also a season. Other odd things about part one is the way the Scabbard is given a huge emphasis and it is pretty much ignored after the episode and it isn’t made clear how Morgaine is viewing various events throughout the episode. Oh yes and there’s the we have run out of time to show Mordred blow down a wall so we’ll just have a off stage bang and throw a few bits of polystyrene into shot.
Part two improve a bit with the plot finally moving forward but marred by the time it takes the Brigadier to get involved in the story, spending most of the first two episodes sat in a Helicopter being taken to Carbury. Jean Marsh makes up for a lot of the stories short cummings with an exceptional performance which manages to compensate for the fact that her Crystal Ball looks like a light fitting!
The thing which strikes me as a bit off here is the characterisation of Ace, in about the middle of part one she talks to her new friend about how she got suspended from school for blowing up the art room and she takes great pride in telling how she tossed a piece of home made explosive into class 1s award winning Pottery Pig display. Now let that sink in, she takes pride in blowing up what would be an infant classes artwork, yup you are a real nice person here and later on she gets incredibly stroppy with the Brigadier for no apparent reason when he jokingly refers to her as the latest (companion) and calls him Colonel Blimp through out. But what strikes me is in Part Three the character suddenly becomes a racist calling Suin-Young a “slanty eyed yellow so and so”, no I am not substituting a word there. This reeks of being out of character as previously we saw her smash up a NO COLOUREDS sign hanging from the window of a B & B in Remembrance of the Daleks and later in Ghost Light she recounts how her friend Manisha was burnt alive when “white kids fire bombed her flat” so the moment is jarring. You could argue that this due to manipulation by Morgaine but even so… I think it was Jonathan Morris or Gareth Roberts who mooted the idea that perhaps Ace had been part of the the gang trying to fit in and be cool and it was this which prompted her actions which trigger the events of Ghost Light. I don’t buy into that theory though as it doesn’t add up with what has been shown on screen.
Its not all a waste of time though, the make up of the Destroyer is very good and would pass muster in an episode of Buffy or Angel and Part Two has an excellent cliffhanger. Also McCoy gives one of the best performances of his era when he talks Morgaine out of starting Nuclear Armageddon by explaining how there is no honour in those weapons just instant death and then comforts when he reveals King Arthur did indeed die in the final battle.
Overall I think the story was the wrong one to open the season with, I would say the running order should have The Curse of Fenric, Survival, Ghost Light and then Battlefield as the story arc for Ace makes more sense that way around.
Next up was a double bill (no pun intended) from William Hartnell’s second season with The Rescue and the Romans but I will go into those later.