Wednesday night, watching Iron Man 2's commentary track, when suddenly... PFFFFT! TV dies a quiet death. RIP, you were a loyal companion for the last 9 years, but I shan't grieve for you long. The next day, I went and got myself a 46-incher, finally joining the flat screen revolution. I've always been a little slow with stuff like that (anyone want to be my friend on ICQ? just kidding).
DVDs: Finally saw Iron Man 2 and I must admit to being impressed. Everything I liked about the first one - the banter, the flawed hero, the world stage, the cool set pieces - are all here again, but where it could have just been an "installment", IM2 actually progresses the character's arc. One thing I like about Favreau's direction, the actors' delivery, and Genndy "Samurai Jack" Tartakovsky's storyboarding is the sense of PAUSE. In the middle of quick-fire action or banter, they take the time to pause, creating delicious comic effects. I dare say the final battle is better than in the original, and while I didn't think Whiplash/Blacklash was anywhere near the top of Iron Man's rogues' gallery, linking him to the Stark legacy really made him work. Sam Rockwell's hilarious. Even the Black Widow has some awesome action scenes (Scarlett's acting I could take or leave). All in all, great fun. As for extras, I only have the one-disc edition, so Favreau's competent commentary keeps referring to deleted scenes and featurettes I don't have. Question: Why sell DVDs in different formats at all? I mean, really. Either blockbuster it up or don't. I don't need every possible option as a consumer. It's a DVD, not a car. /rant
Our Asian selection this week was Jackie Chan's Crime Story, a much darker vision of his Police Story persona, what with the central kidnapping being based on a true story and all (though the more hopeful - and thus disjointed - ending was dictated by the victim's wife). As such, it's a lot more violent and sexual than your usual Jackie Chan film, though I do believe it to be worthy. I'm not sure everything really pays off appropriately (the psychologist, for example, is in all the deleted scenes), but one the other hand, there's a battle shovel moment!My battle shovel player was kicking himself that he never tried to throw that puppy. Effective! As for extras, we've got a commentary with Bey Logan and the director Kirk Wong, as well as a good-sized interview with the latter, another with one of the writers, and the aforementioned deleted scenes. All persons interviewed are in competent English.
Before the classic Doctor Who keeps adding up, I also flipped a couple of 3rd Doctor stories, linked through a boxed set called Dalek War. Not that they appear much in Frontier in Space, the original Master's last story before Roger Delgado was sadly killed in a car accident. He and the other regulars (the Doctor and Jo Grant) are uniformally excellent, and the art design in also very good, giving separate identities to the empire of Earth, Draconia and the Ogrons. Where the story suffers is in its outrageous padding. The characters spend a lot of time in a surprising number of different cells in each episode, sometimes being captured seconds after their last escape. Still, I liked it. The extras include a strange fiction in which a writer from the future asks advice about getting inspiration from the story, and seeing "archival" interviews about how the 70s impacted this vision of the future. It continues in Planet of the Daleks and doesn't quite work as a frame for the featurette, taking too much time away from actual info on the program. There's also a straighter making of, a touching retrospective of Delgado's career (not just in Who), the continuing documentary on Doctor Who comics, and as an Easter Egg in the 2nd disc's subtitles screen, a strange (and terrible) version of the Doctor Who music commissioned, but never used (except by mistake in Australia).
Planet of the Daleks follows straight on from Frontier, and happens to be my first contact with the 3rd Doctor back during my formative years - oh how Jo's fungus arm fascinated me! Of course, the truth is this is one is a most boring serial. Slow and padded, not to mention unoriginal - Terry Nation basically ripped off his own script for The Daleks - it makes for a loooong 2½ hours. The extras include the usual commentaries, plus the aforementioned fiction/documentary, that's even more boring and pointless than the serial. The real making of is a collection of fun remembrances from cast and crew, a featurette on how episode 3 was recolored (black magic), another on the Dalek comic strips, and a couple of Blue Peter items on stolen and recovered Daleks (parts of which are in other features across the line). The Easter Egg this time is a 2-minute alternate take from the commentary track reacting to the black and white episode (thenafter recolored, so rerecorded).
Books: Speaking of Doctor Who, I just finishes reading Mad Norwegian's Time Unincomporated - The Doctor Who Fanzine Archives Vol.2: Writings on the Classic Series. If volume 1, all written by Lance Parkin, was a love letter to the program, volume 2 has a lot more variety of opinion. There are inspirational pieces again, but a lot more criticism, both literary and otherwise, as well as humor, re-evaluations, theories and personal testimonies from across many decades and fanzines, and even new essays commissioned for this book. Pretty awesome on the whole, and sure to inspire Whovian articles on this very blog in the coming weeks. The next volume should be about the new series, and I can't wait.
Halloween: As followers of Twitter may have noted, our theme this year was SPACE!!! (you must say it with the correct punctuation). Parts of the apartment were converted into starscapes and strange anomalies, but the living room is the true masterpiece - a TARDIS. Walk in with me now...
All book cases covered by retro chic computers.
And of course, there's the console and the viewscreen:
The cat spent so much time under the skirt of that thing, we decided he was disguised as the heart of the TARDIS. And of course, we had a deadly mission.
Can't let the Racnoss take the Earth, after all! Tomorrow: The costumes!
Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
II.i. Ophelia Affrighted - BBC '80
II.i. Ophelia Affrighted - Zeffirelli '90
II.i. Ophelia Affrighted - Kline '90