Be Careful What You Wish For ...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

One of the obsessions that qualified me for my job (currently as Comics Buyer's Guide Senior Editor) was BBC science fiction and fantasy. I created the magazine Fantasy Empire, which had a focus on Doctor Who -- in large part to help me explore further the realm of the series that was relatively inaccessible in America. In the course of my life, then, I've actually spent some time with Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. (Not to jump that up to overstatement, "some time" was, at most, a dinner. But super-nice performers, each of whom did his best to provide a pleasant interlude for a goggling fan.)

Thanks to a tenuous connection to the world of comics (there have been Doctor Who comic-book adventures in England and America, after all), I can maintain a minor presence of DW material in CBG and at CBGXtra. I recently noticed that there'd been a bunch of BBC shows that I wanted to review here, there, and everywhere, so I asked for what was available. And wow.

I have a couple of months without plans to visit other states, so the project is doable, but the thing is that the BBC is among the best providers of DVD entertainment based on its shows. Not only does the customer get the show as aired, but the bonus material is incredible. Once you see the show itself, you can rewatch it with commentaries, featurettes, and similar bonuses. So a reviewer can begin by doubling the length of time to watch the feature itself and go from there. Here's what I get to explore:

Doctor Who #17: The Time Meddler 1965, 1:40 [total for the feature alone, then, is 3:20 -- and there's scads of bonuses, which I won't bother to note in the rest of this list, but includes here a look at The Doctor's appearance in comic strips]

Doctor Who #93: The Invisible Enemy 1977, 2:23 [4:46 -- and, since that introduced K-9, there's a bonus included in the time count of K-9 and Company, 1981]

Doctor Who #97: The Invasion of Time 1978, 2:30 [5:00 -- and one of my favorites]

Doctor Who #130: The Five Doctors 1983, 3:11 [6:22 -- but I'm not sure about this, because it says it's the 1983 and 1995 versions; we shall see]

Torchwood: The Complete Second Season 2008, 10:28 [20:56 -- and the packaging doesn't mention extras but]

Not to mention two other boxes:

Robin Hood Season Two 2008, 9:47 [I'm not sure whether this set has commentaries on every show, but there's at least one -- plus three featurettes]


Spaced: The Complete Series 1999, 5:50 [Man, I'm not sure, but there seem to be many bonuses, including some commentary work by such people as Matt Stone, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino. Comics connection? Yep: One of the two focal nerds is a wanna-be comic-book artist; he's played by Simon Pegg. I can hardly wait and I'm not being sarcastic!]

Time to quit blogging and turn on the TV!


How Deliberately Was Dean Koontz Being Annoying?

Now that I have two months undisturbed by out-of-state jaunts, I'm settling down to seeing what organization can be brought to The Clutter That Is My Home. So I pulled a fresh audiobook off the shelf, and it happened to be the unabridged Odd Thomas (2003) by Dean Koontz, an author whose works have entertained me over the years. It's the first in a series, and I think I've come across a later book, so what better time to Begin at the Beginning?

And, whack, within five minutes of the start of the (promisingly intriguing) story, Koontz slaps me across the face. And I could sit there and take it. I could spout a series of obscenities. Or I could get back to this neglected website and point a finger and say, "Dude! What the hell?" Or words to that effect.

I did, in fact, resort to response #2 before turning to #3. And I know that, when I write #3, the response of many (including, presumably, Koontz -- if he or the others ever saw this) would be something along the lines of, "Get over it, whiner. You and those like you are a bunch of nerds who are not worth our attention -- unless it is to annoy you further by giving away the endings of Murder on the Orient Express, Sleuth, The Sixth Sense ..." And the hilarity would ensue at my expense, with some of the mockery including actual renditions of the twists that the audience is supposed to experience for itself. And some of those folks would be passing on those resolutions without actually having read the books or seen the films for themselves.

And, to be fair, I'm only five minutes and 23 seconds into the start of Odd Thomas. And it may turn out that there was actually some sort of artistic necessity for Koontz to give away the gimmick of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. But I bet not.

As one of the few among today's readers who actually read Agatha Christie's Ackroyd without knowing the ending in advance -- and who (yes) had the pleasure of solving the mystery in the course of reading it -- I resent anyone who takes away the chance for others to have that same pleasure. Or the pleasure of being surprised by the ending, if they don't solve it themselves. I especially resent it when the person tossing off the revelation is another creator. Who should know better.

Dude. What the hell?


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