The Midnight: Explorers

To The Freedom Fighters

To The Everest Climbers 

To The Castaways

To The Midnight Riders

To The Spark Igniters…

“Mom, remember that stuff you were tellin’ me about your dreams and doin’ what you want to do? Well, if I really want to be an astronaut and go out in space – and really do that, it’d be ok, right?” – Ben Crandall.

 

Dear Friends,

Following yet another losing battle against this madhouse that is the 21st century, Brad has decided to strike back and hold an ’80s Party this week. 

Had such a groovy time this past weekend dipping into 80s pop classics and Retrowave numbers, so can’t wait to share some of my top picks with you! Therefore, this edition of Manic Music Monday offers a preview of what nostalgic delights lie in store. 🙂

Have recently discovered The Midnight: a group who have really tapped into the sounds and vibes of that decade. This vid exudes such a welcome feelgood quality, includes an amazing assortment of movie clips, and, being a joyous celebration of all-things-80s, it seemed just too cool to hold back.

After last week’s Retro Review of The Goonies this vid is a reminder that Joe Dante’s Explorers (1985) had also passed me by! Have started watching that, so perhaps another Retro Review might be in the works…

Hope you can make it to the party in mid-week. It’ll be lovely to see you! 

And – hey! – if Brad is really on the ball, you should be getting the latest Fartlighter Bradventure by the end of this week! 😉

Cheers!

 

Wolfgang Müller: “Explosions in space? It’s impossible.”

Darren Woods: “What do you mean? You can hardly see the strings.”

 

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A Winter’s Tale: Reflection And Rejuvenation On A Woodland Walk

A New Year: A New Hope…?

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness” – John Muir.

Foamfollower’s question caught him wandering. “Are you a story-teller, Thomas Covenant?” 

Absently, he replied, “I was, once.”  

“And you gave it up? Ah, that is as sad a tale in three words as any you might have told me. But a life without a tale is like a sea without salt. How do you live…?”

How indeed… 

You must have noticed.

The words have not flowed on this site as one would like. Sure, my gobsmackworthy powers of expression and composition did not miraculously return with the chimes of Big Ben the other night, but all is not lost! As Ovid once said: “Perfer et obdura!” (Be patient and hold out!)

One great – and highly recommended – way for anyone to slip back into their creative groove is to escape from their desk and explore the outdoors. Supposedly, the biting nip in the air during this particular season should do wonders for my stuffy cranium. Sometimes, the crashing sounds of the surf can usually entice me down to the beach, but today, the opposite direction is taken.

On top of the hill looming majestically over our village, lies “The Ring” – a glorious local nature reserve named after a ring of beech trees planted up here in the late 18th century. Signs of habitation on this prominent point date back into prehistoric times, and traces of a Roman temple were unearthed back in the 50s, so the charm of this spot has been entrancing people for centuries. 

Would proclaim myself: “Lord Of The Ring,” (oHO!  😉 ) but nah. The WordPress masses no longer swing by this site these days, and one doesn’t wish to lose his last few remaining readers by dispensing such cheap ‘cracks as that!

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone…

“In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there. They struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws…

“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else…” – Hermann Hesse.

“Of the mastersmiths in the Northlands that were, and of their marvellous skills, the Winter Chronicles tell many tales. Greatest is that of-” 

Brad, who, rather than stay on a crowded train reluctantly listening to such inconsequential babble emanating from endless banks of smartphones, you are more likely to find him trudging through the beechwoods, high atop The Ring, lost in the garrulous harmony of jays, nuthatches, robins and even the odd fastidious crow… 

Why should this ol’ dude, now sporting a formidably bushy crumbcatcher, spend either his time or creds on such flaccid fare as Aquaman or Bumblebee, when this season boasts a positively splendiferous plethora of maidenhair spleenworts and their effulgent yellow-green pinnae?!

One arborial landmark in particular (see above!) entices me every time with its fantastical, Middle-Earth-like charm. Nicknamed it the “Elf Tree,” ‘cos you half expect an elf, goblin, or some frabjous form of faeriekind to lurk beneath its bark… 

Whatever magickal and bewitching fantasy land lies deep beyond its gnarly roots: take me there!! For it can only be infinitely superior to this mundane madhouse we call the Real World, with its gaggles of dunderheaded politicians – on BOTH sides of The Pond! – bickering pathetically amongst themselves while We, The People, suffer as our socio-economic institutions are left to ROT.

And what about that other 21st century gripe of mine?!

My foray into social media (up until three years ago) did not last long. Upon finding old “friends,” the general consensus seemed to be: “Uff, he’s STILL alive…” And they all drifted off back to their own monotonous pursuits.

The distance – and anonymity – that social media affords has only served to increase – and embolden – the anti-social behaviour that now festers online… and on our streets. In my opinion, the uncontrollable proliferation of smartphones only makes these matters WORSE. And, regrettably, these wretched gadgets will NOT be vanishing like our ancient forests any time soon… 

It is NO coincidence that a direct link exists between such rampant modern tech and a substantial lack of care and consideration for others…

So you see, up here, amidst my own bare, leaflorn bastion of solitude, there is no reason to rant. Just savour the serenity! And you can blot out such harsh truths that – as we traipse timidly into the year in which Blade Runner is set – the economic gap between the richest and the poorest around this befuddling Pale Blue Dot of ours is now so gargantuan that it makes the Death Star look like a ping pong ball…

“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…”  😉

“The book of nature has no beginning, as it has no end. Open this book where you will, and if you have the desire to acquire knowledge you will find it of intense interest. No matter how long or how intently you study the pages, your interest will not flag, for in nature there is no finality” – Jim Corbett. 

“What can we look forward to in 2019?!” 

Well, you see, therein lies the problem – “looking forward” has become (for me) a most uncomfortable exercise that screams nothing but:  “Make more tawdry remakes! Be more obtuse to your fellows! Dehumanize yourself further by snapping up yet more superficial gadgets with money you don’t have!” 

NO thank you. 

In order to deal with incessant swathes of rotten luck and poor health – during this past quarter alone – the pull towards nostalgia and the joys and contentment synonymous with yesteryear become ever more comforting. And helps replenish my waning will to write. So, expect to see more nostalgic-tinted stuff on this site!

Encouragingly, Christmas week witnessed an upsurge in both the quantity and quality of my writing, and the renewal of that urge to finish and Publish more Posts!

To help avoid any more anxious loooong waits for subsequent Posts, you might like to know that my Manic Music Monday series is to be resurrected! Thus, there will be a guaranteed weekly dose of Brad while my usual Reviews and special Features (hopefully!) come to fruition! 

Any new ideas for this New Year you would like to see on Bradscribe, pls let me know!

Let me conclude then, by saying just this: 

 

The Very Happiest of New Years to you all!

 

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,

And lo, Brad settles down this balmy eventide to write
  Long and arduously into the night… 

 

The view from atop the Ring, looking east… ^

 

…and looking west…

“Either we all live in a decent world, or nobody does…” – George Orwell. 

 

Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: The Grooves of Grindelwald

Brad’s Back From The Brink, And Now – Hey! – More Groovy Than Ever…

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears; we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams” – Albert Einstein. 

Weh-heh-hell! 

What a month THAT was!

Moreover, what the blazes happened to that hapless idiot who eats too much cake?! 

Thought Brad had succumbed to the wild excesses of his own bloggiversary party?

Not quite, me luvvlies… 

Grab a muffin an’ a mocha, an’ gedda loada THIS sick note…

“Put on your red shoes and dance the blues” – David Bowie. 

My creative faculties were all set to dazzle you with some spooky posts during Halloween week, but then – all of a sudden, and fer one whole bally frustrating fortnight!! – my laptop went on the blink for no apparent reason…

In addition, during the first week of November, a particularly merciless barrage of bad news, rotten luck AND poor health pummelled me into such a lousy mood that the last thing one wanted to do was write. 

During such difficult times, a playlist of frenetic hot-steppers is required, so let me share with you some of the latest platters to lift my spirits (as well as my feet).

Rather than let all my spooktacular ramblings go to waste, the Horrorthon is still scheduled to go ahead!

After all, this is the ideal season to indulge in such frightful endeavours; moreover, some of my SF seems to be seeping into darker, more eerie territory anyways, so it looks like you’re going to have to brave a way lot more than just my usual tedious text…

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world, For I would ride with you upon the wind, 

Run the top of the dishevelled tide, And dance upon the mountains like a flame” – William Butler Yeats.

Has yours truly – whisper it – run out of ideas?!

NAY! As Thor would say.

Coming up with Posts is not the problem – trying to sustain waning levels of energy and motivation to complete any of them – especially when faced with the unenviable fact that FEWER peeps read Bradscribe than, say, 2-3 years ago – continues to be a niggling concern.

Nevertheless, Brad soldiers on regardless.

Besides, an ever-growing stack of unfinished projects now clutters my Dashboard. And let’s not neglect to mention that abundance of aeons-old journals and papers full of abandoned tales accumulating dust doing nowt but lie about the dark recesses of Brad Manor. 

This site provides a tremendous platform with which to revise (most, if not all) these works and save said endeavours for online posterity.

Yea, intrepid one, know ye this: 

you have NOT seen the last of Brad!

HUZZAH!!

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world” – Voltaire. 

 

“Forget your voice, sing! Forget your feet, danceForget your life, live! Forget yourself and be!” – Kamand Kojouri. 

Annnd, before he realises it, Brad is trying to complete a single Post before this month passes us by…

So, always that most faithful standby: another music compilation is cobbled together.

No worries!

December should – Dyzan willing – turn out to be such a cram-packed month full of fiction, and articles – and goodness-knows-what! – that you should all be sick of the sight of the ‘Scribe by Christmas! 😉

Cheers!

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

 

HALA!: The New Captain Marvel Trailer Is Here!

Higher Further Faster

 “I’m not what you think I am” – Carol Danvers. 

By The Great Pama!

Only a half-human-half-Kree superwoman hurtling Earthwards and crashing into a branch of Blockbuster Video could bounce Brad back into the blogosphere!

The hotly-anticipated trailer for MARVEL STUD10S’ 21st movie: Captain Marvel – MCU’s first solo female-led movie, set in the 1990s – finally arrived yesterday morning.

Here it is:

“War is a universal language. I know a renegade soldier when I see one – never occurred to me that one might come from above” – Nick Fury.

You may not be surprised to learn that a Captain Marvel bio is already in the works on this site!

While the original (male) Captain Marvel was a Kree superhero called Mar-Vell, Carol Danvers served as a USAF pilot who trained with NASA before getting caught in a psyche-magnetron, whereby Mar-Vell’s DNA was fused with Carol’s, imbuing her with superhuman strength and a mysterious seventh sense.

As a big fan of cosmic adventures – already impressed with Guardians of the Galaxy – we are set to see Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace) and Korath (Djimon Hounsouagain! -and Thor: Ragnarok, this movie looks like it could be another groovy entry in this scintillating subgenre.

Guardians of the Galaxy already introduced us to the Kree, who, in the comics, were at war with the Skrulls, a nasty race of shapeshifting aliens, set to make their big screen debut in this movie.

Nick Fury: “So, you’re not from around here?”

Carol Danvers: “It’s hard to explain. I keep having these memories, I see flashes. I think I have a life here, but I can’t tell if it’s real.”

 

First Impressions: 

In its first TEN hours online, the Captain Marvel trailer notched up 10 million views.

The general consensus among fans is that the movie looks awesome. Yes, these photonic-blasted rapid scenes look impressive, but…

There is a montage of memories from Carol’s past, both here on Earth, and on Hala, the home planet of the Kree, so the factor of determining who she is and where she really comes from looks set to dominate proceedings. By The Black Nebula! Let’s hope this origins storyline is handled well.

Part of my speculation aimed at this trailer concentrated on what “classic” rock or hip-hop platter would we be subjected to. In the end, alas, we get neither – just the standard bombastic dirge that besets nearly all trailers these days.

It really is swell to see a younger Nick Fury (sans eye patch!), so you can’t help wondering what role S.H.I.E.L.D. (or Hydra?!) will play in this movie.

No sign of Ronan or Korath, but at least we got to see Starforce, the combo of Kree superheroes as featured in the comics (see above). They are led by an enigmatic figure (played by Jude Law) who may likely be Mar-Vell himself – the original “Captain Marvel.” 

Most intriguingly, the Skrull archvillain: Talos is played by Ben Mendelsohn. If he is allowed to be even half as impressive as he was in Rogue One, the MCU will be blessed with a stronger, more compelling, villain. But he had no badass line, not even the barest glimpse here! The only shot of a Skrull we get is an autopsy. And that is a long shot. 

This trailer did not super-psyche me up in quite the way Ragnarok or Infinity War trailers managed so easily. 

Hopefully, this long-awaited Captain Marvel movie will manage to be about as great as any of the Captain America movies, and not as weak as the most recent Ant-Man And The Wasp. 

Personally, if Carol shouts “Hala!” at all the right tense and exciting moments like she did during her own Bronze Age comic book series, Brad should be a happy bunny. 

This blockbuster will be crashing into our popcorn parlours from Friday 8 March 2019International Women’s Day, of course! 

 

Are YOU impressed with this trailer? Let me know in the Comments! 

Cheers!

 

Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: Vol. 4

Now A Trilogy In 4 Parts! 

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Korg. I’m kind of like the leader in here. I’m made of rocks, as you can see, but don’t let that intimidate you. You don’t need to be afraid, unless you’re made of scissors! Just a little Rock, Paper, Scissors joke for you” – Korg.

Hiya! How ya doin’? Thought you’d be glad to see me! 

Apologies for the extended absence from your WordPress Reader. 

The first half of this month was spent writing this, that and the other. Tried writing a few round-ups of Bronze Age comics – they didn’t sing, didn’t fly, no matter how much frenetic fiddling went into them. Various other intriguing topics occupied my time and energy, but actually completing any of these Posts proved to be inexplicably challenging. 

Two weeks ago, at the height of an unusually rare heatwave, yours truly took a few days off, hoping that my creative batteries would be recharged. Nevertheless, on setting down to write again, my “talent” still lay on a beach somewhere…

Perhaps something quick and easy -like a music Post – would suffice?

No! 

Determined to combat this lull in activity and produce something awesome again, decided to open up totally new reviews and discussions. 

Another week later, and… 

Ah well, quick and easy it is then, just in time to close this gruelling month. Anyway, it’s been ages since the last Fantastic Beats, right?

With over a million new Posts loaded on WordPress each day, the “experts” advise making your blog as distinctive as possible.

Well, where else during any weekend can you find a disco lovingly illustrated with some of my fave quotes from Thor: Ragnarok (a DVD that only recently made its way into my MCU Collection!) and Seinfeld gifs?!

Honestly, what are the chances of finding anything around here quite like Bradscribe?!

“I have been falling… for 30 minutes!” – Loki. 

Give up blogging altogether…? 

Ever-diminishing Stats, and no new “Followers” since the Obama administration sound like reasonable excuses to jack it all in.  

However, Brad is NOT a quitter! 

Besides, popularity is an alien concept to me. Heck, this is the kid who was so insignificant at school that the bullies never noticed him!

Apart from derelict blogposts, there is still a hefty number of unfinished novels and short stories lying around here. This site (when at the peak of my powers!) can help address this unwanted backlog – WordPress has, easily, provided the most conducive platform on which to churn out my own unique stuff.

Music, generally, is a good motivator/inspiration for my writing. And, every so often, a truly monumental stomper pops up that gets the ol’ noddle working.  

Here is the One for this Volume:

“No, no, no. I don’t even like Hulk. He’s always like, grr… smash, smash, smash. I prefer you!” – Thor. 

“The Lightning Field has collapsed, sir!” 

What?! How can this be?”  

“It’s no good, Captain – the outer perimeter has been breached! Our MB Space is diminishing at an exponential rate!”

“Scanners detect something massive and malevolent approaching at high velocity.”

“Titan’s moons!! What- what IS it?!”

“It- it’s the Swarm Intelligence…”

Thor: “I love what you’ve done with the place. Redecorated and everything.”

Hela: “It would seem our father’s solution to every problem was to cover it up.”

Thor: “Or cast it out. He told you you were worthy. He said the same thing to me.”

Hela: “You see, you never knew him, not at his best. Odin and I drowned entire civilizations in blood and tears. Where do you think all this gold came from…?”

It occurred to me that after all this time, one of my all-time fave pop vids has never appeared in my own blog.

Might as well rectify that right now.

Th DJ aka Norman Cook is a local boy – our paths have crossed twice in the village supermarket; but the chances of bumping into the legend that is Christopher Walken – in this case: Christopher Dancen 😉 – in said supermarket seem just as likely as ever completing my Review of... oh, forgotten the name of the bally thing, it’s been so long… 

And to think that this beloved star of The Anderson Tapes and Annie Hall started off as a professional dancer. 

Well, by Jiminy, didn’t we all…?

Thor: “If you knew where he was, why didn’t you call me?”

Dr. Stephen Strange: “I had to tell you. He did not want to be disturbed. Your father. He had chosen to remain in exile. And you don’t have a phone.”

Thor: “No, I don’t have a phone but you could have sent me an electronic letter. It’s called an e-mail.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: “Yeah. Do you have a computer?”

Thor: “No. What for?”

Another reason for me to keep on pressin’ on is the fact that only two months stand between us and the 5th Anniversary of Bradscribe.

Naturally, let’s make a big song and – hahaha! – dance about all this, with special features, lists and – oh yes – a party or three 😉

And if such a grand jamboree finally burns Brad out for good, then at least he’ll be going out on a high note!

“I just, I gotta say. I’m proud of you all. This revolution has been a huge success. Yay us! Pat, pat on the back. Pat on the back. Come on. No? Me, too. ‘Cause I’ve been a big part of it. Can’t have a revolution without somebody to overthrow! So, ah, you’re welcome. And, uh, it’s a tie” – Grandmaster.

So here we are: on the verge of pressing Publish for the first time since… too long, that’s for sure…

During the next few days, oh course, another Post – preferably one featuring some original work – will see the light of day(!) Hopefully, September will turn out to be more favourable month writewise for me.

For our closing foot-tapping selection, here is a classic beat that you might not have expected, but – as you will no doubt have noticed – is just typical of the zany material you have come to expect from this site.

And just what the blazes is goin on in that gif?!

Is that what a trouser press looks like…? 

“Guys, we’re coming up on the Devil’s Anus!” – Bruce Banner. 

 

Ant-Man And The Wasp: The Bradscribe Review

A Sting In The Tale 

“My initial reaction – do not tell Marvel! – was: “I don’t want to do a stupid superhero movie.” And my manager said: “Paul Rudd will be starring.” What…? It really intrigued me. So I watched some Marvel films and and I just thought what they were doing was so unique and fun” – Evangeline Lilly. 

 

2018 will be remembered as the year of both billion-dollar buddies: Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.  

Such a shame that most people aren’t likely to recall Ant-Man And The Wasp. 

My main memory forever-entwined with this – the 20th instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – will be the bonkers decision to delay it’s release in the UK cos we Brits were supposed to be too busy watching the World Cup to consider donating to Disney. 

So was it worth the extra month’s wait?

Nah, not really. 

Ant-Man And The Wasp is an adequate action/adventure SF yarn: Little Big Man (played as amiably as usual by Paul Rudd) has been on house arrest for the past two years enacting fantasy adventures around his gaff with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). If the entire movie looked as awesome as their rad helter skelter, this would be UP there with this year’s heavy-hitters, but in the end it didn’t leave me buzzing (arf, arf, arf!) 

Who is with me as regards the current banal state of huge, often nonsensical, summer blockbusters where the only reaction it incites involves nothing more than an indifferent shrug, and the (snide) comment:

“Yeah, the visual fx were amazing, but… …”?

In this case, size DOES matter.

“I can definitely phase through things. Absolutely loved every second of it… Creating even the style of how your character fights. Everyone has their own different style” – Hannah John-Kamen. 

Ant-Man And The Wasp is, at once, one of these fascinating, yet frustrating, movies.

This is best exemplified by the main antagonist: Ghost – a stunning character with a baffling matter-distorting (dis)ability that both enhances and hurts her. Tragic backstory, cool costume (hey! gotta look good for that Funko Pop! figure), intense performance (by Hannah John-Kamen): all those boxes ticked off, but what ticked me off is how she barely registers on the wow-factor. After the impressive upgrades in badassery such as: Hela, Erik Killmonger and – whisper him – Thanos, it looks like the MCU has already settled back to presenting bland and instantly forgettable villains. 

Had expected (hoped?Evangeline Lilly’s Hope to really come to the fore and steal all of Ant-Man’s scenes – this is, after all, the first Marvel movie in TEN years to have a superheroine’s name in the title. On the contrary, with Daddy giving her directions while she’s obsessed with finding Mummy, this is hardly a resounding triumph for the #Time’sUp campaign.

Michelle Pfeiffer looks great, but then, she always did. No seriously, if Janet Pym had been granted more substantial input, with tough and touching dialogue pivotal to the plot, then yours truly would be more than happy to discuss Pfeiffer’s role rather than Pfeiffer’s looks. Is this not the same Janet Pym who was a founding member of the Avengers, even becoming their Chairman back in the ’80s?! Her character deserves so much more than the scant attention afforded her here.

Watching more substantial flashbacks of Janet would certainly be preferable to sitting through “the three wombats” (as Hank so eloquently dissed them) Honestly, why did they have to be brought back?! Exclude Michael Pena, and the other two completely unfunny (even Thanos garnered more giggles, fer cake’s sake!ethnic representatives = the movie would not be affected. In any way.

As it is, alas, Michelle Pfeiffer appears in the briefest “remember me?” cameo, and can now state how proud she is “to be part of the MCU.” Surely this is a classic case of: she IS big, it’s the pictures that got smaller…? 

“We start the movie and… I am not living a heroic life… We [Hank, Hope and Iare not on the best of terms because of what I put them through by going to Germany. Throughout the course of the film we’re starting to click and get cool with each other” – Paul Rudd. 

Despite grumpy ol’ Brad’s angst for the ants (you can’t tell by reading this, but Ant-Man is, actually, one of my all-time favourite comic characters, being among the very first to grab my attention back in the day) there are still some groovy moments to savour here:

a top secret lab complex that can shrink to resemble cabin baggage; Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) locking ant-lers 😉 with former partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne); the awe-inspiring minutiae of the Quantum Realm itself (those Tardigrades!!); the above chase scene, and – oh yes – this reviewer finally got to behold a giant ant playing a drum kit (that’s another ambition to cross off the list – yay! 🙂 )

Speaking of post-cred scenes, could anybody tell me why Scott returned to the Quantum Realm AGAIN? Yes, that’s right: my view – and concentration – became impaired by a steady stream of punters lurching towards the EXIT. The sanctity of the modern MCU post-creds teaser counts for nuthin compared to the need to get out of that multi-storey car park first!

Intriguingly, did the Quantum Realm somehow spare Scott from the “Snapture”…? 

One more thing: 

after TWO Ant-movies, where oh where is Adam And The Ants’ Antmusic on the soundtrack?! Come ON! Talk about opportunity missed! 

This is one of those movies that adequately helps pass the time, but you won’t be tempted to race back to watch it again immediately. 

As for its position in the Bradscribe MCU Countdown?

Not in my Top 10, that’s for sure. 

Should have known that working up any eager ant-icipation (again) would lead to joy as miniscule as Hank’s Dinky Toys collection. 

Only moderate insects appeal.

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“I got something kinda BIG, but I don’t know how long I can hold it…” 

 

“Don’t tread on an ant
He’s done nothing to you
There might come a day
when he’s treading on you!

“Don’t tread on an ant
You’ll end up black and blue
Cut off his head
Legs come looking for you!

(chorus)
“So unplug the jukebox
and do us all a favour
That music’s lost its taste
so try another flavour
Antmusic”

 

“Exquisite, Absolutely Exquisite”: Just What The Doctor Ordered!

Ah-haaar! Loooong Scarf. Would You Like A Jelly Baby? Come On!

Costa: “Name and date of birth.” 
The Doctor: “Well how would I know? I don’t even know who he is yet.” 
Costa: “YOUR name and date of birth!”
The Doctor: “Oh well, I’m called the Doctor. Date of birth difficult to remember. Sometime quite soon, I think.”

My life changed on 1 September 1979. 

Destiny of the Daleks just happened to be the opening story of Doctor Who Season 11. 

For the next five years, my Saturday evenings became a magical time catching the cosmic – sometimes Earthbound – shenanigans of a dual-hearted Gallifreyan renegade in his Type 40 time capsule (better known as the TARDIS).

The programme’s effervescent mix of mayhem and monsters, humour and horror – and jelly babies – proved to be an irresistible delight. To me, and twelve million other viewers.

EVERY Saturday evening. (And this Saturday teatime is the ideal time to launch this Post! 😉 )

For those of you who believe that the time is right to delve into Classic Who, who better to guide you through the best stories than someone who tried to alleviate the inexorable wait for that following weekend’s unmissable instalment by grabbing each ish of Doctor Who Weekly and, using his own wardrobe for a TARDIS, accompanied by (cuddly) companions: Jallo Bear and Teddy Edwards, enacted his own adventures in time and space (imagination permitting!) 

It seems unbelievable now, but back then, the producers simply could not select a suitable replacement for the very popular Jon Pertwee (the 3rd Doctor: 1970-1973). Until Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks (Producer and Script Editor respectively) were captivated at the cinema by the evil sorcerer in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, played by a little-known actor named Tom Baker. At a meeting, where this actor discussed the morality in children’s literature, the duo realised they had found the new Doctor. 

This regeneration’s distinctive “Bohemian and battered” look would be inspired by a portrait of Aristide Bruant by Toulouse-Lautrec. A delightful misunderstanding caused Begonia Pope to use ALL the wool she had been given, resulting in the twelve-foot technicolour scarf that has become the most iconic part of his wardrobe.

Despite a mixed reaction – “too silly,” or “too crazy” cried some of the dissenters – Baker swiftly transformed this Gallifreyan into a national institution. Once again, Doctor Who triumphed at exacting what secured its status as the longest-running SF series: its boundless capacity for change.

For me, the 4th Doctor IS the Doctor, not just because he was my first to watch, but with his large eyes, imposing height, riot of curly hair, that toothsome grin, his amusing penchant for shouting: “Ah-haaar!” and “Come on!” in almost every episode (in that rich and renowned voice of his!), his cool loping gait – and jelly babies – he actually exuded an “otherworldly” nature that no other actor in the role has managed to recreate.

From his debut story: Robot (28 December 1974 – 18 January 1975), THIS is the definite article, you might say:

The Doctor: “You’re improving, Harry!”

Harry Sullivan: “Am I really?”

The Doctor: “Yes! Your mind is beginning to work! It’s entirely due to my influence of course; you musn’t take any credit…”

The 4th Doctor’s first three seasons (12-14) were exceptionally produced by Philip Hinchcliffe – widely regarded by fans as the Golden Age of Doctor Who.

Despite Robot resembling a stock Jon Pertwee adventure, Ark In Space (25 January – 15 February 1975), The Sontaran Experiment (22 February – 1 March 1975), Genesis Of The Daleks (8 March – 12 April 1975), and Revenge of the Cybermen (19 April – 10 May 1975) remain such well-crafted SF masterworks, (all now available on Blu-ray!)

Moreover, the 4th Doctor was truly blessed to be joined by arguably his best-ever companions: UNIT Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). 

Sarah Jane (still the longest-serving companion) had first wandered into the TARDIS at the beginning of Season 11; Harry, on the other hand – regrettably – fared less well. A much older actor – harking back to the Hartnell years – had been the original intention to play the 4th Doctor, with Harry drafted in to manage the more physical, feisty moments. However, when it became all-too-apparent that Tom Baker could more than take care of himself, the Surgeon-Lieutenant was soon written out. This is a pity, as Baker and Marter shared an amazing chemistry together onscreen.  

Season Th13teen got off to a rip-roaring start with Harry’s swansong: Terror of the Zygons (30 August – 20 September 1975): a taut tale of tartan and teeth written by Robert Banks Stewart. Good to see the return of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (even if his appearance in a kilt looks more terrifying than your average Zygon!) Particularly impressive is the sinister performance of John Woodnutt as the Duke of Forgill – there’s much more to him than meets the eye! 😉 Okay, so the model effects for the Skarasen (better known as the Loch Ness Monster) always look cringingly bad, the quality of the script and the quickening of the pace leaves a lot of NuWho to be desired. 

Of course, cliffhangers added extra excitement to Classic Who. NuWho, in its mundane way, deals in self-contained stories, so no place for cliffhangers! Some rather clever episode-closers can be seen between 1974-81; most notably, one of the very best – cited by most Classic Who fans as the scariest – is this from Terror of the Zygons first episode: 

The Brigadier: “You get on well with the landlord, don’t you?”

RSM Benton: “Well, yes, sir. I suppose I do.”

The Brigadier: “Well, use your influence to get him to play the pipes when we’re out, will you?” 

During the mid-’70s, Doctor Who continued to try the patience of the BBC – and the dreaded National Viewers’ Association – infusing gothic horror into the sci-fi, with mechanical Egyptian mummies lumbering around English forests in Pyramids of Mars (25 October – 15 November 1975); The Brain of Morbius (3 – 24 January 1976) is such an obvious copy of Frankenstein; the ecological terror of The Seeds of Doom (31 January to 6 March 1976); the occult and sacrificial subplots in The Masque of Mandragora (4 – 25 September 1976); and is there anything not creepy about The Hand of Fear (2 – 23 October 1976)?

Unfortunately, the violence featured during The Deadly Assassin (30 October – 20 November 1976) proved too deadly, and caused Hinchcliffe to be “transferred” to another programme.

The next three seasons (15-17) would be supervised by Graham Williams; and although, in some cases, diminishing production values would show through (no thanks to a technicians’ strike crippling the BBC during the late-’70s) some great stories would still be produced.

The Doctor: “Now which box is larger?”
Leela: “That one.”
The Doctor: “But it looks smaller.” 
L
eela: “Well, that’s because it’s further away.”
The Doctor: “Exactly. If you could keep that exactly that distance away and have it here, the large one would fit inside the small one.”
L
eela: “That’s silly.” 
The Doctor: “That’s transdimensional engineering, a key Time Lord discovery.” 

The Robots of Death (29 January – 19 February 1977) is the fifth serial of the 14th season, written by Chris Boucher. 

Essentially a murder-mystery set onboard a mining vessel, it boasted the most incongruously lavish (and outlandish!) costumes ever seen on any show from that decade. But it’s those intricately designed Voc robots, with their mellifluous voices, and sporting an uncanny resemblance to the ancient Chinese terracotta army, that linger long in the memory. These robots were THAT CLOSE to appearing in my recent celebration of robots, but their place is rightfully deserved here. 

This is the story in which Leela – the feisty warrior-woman played by Louise Jameson – asks the Doctor how the TARDIS can be bigger on the inside…

Season 16 (1978-79) turned out to be an ambitious story-arc for new Producer: Graham Williams to exert his influence. The six fragments to the Key To Time lay scattered across the universe; and the Doctor – accompanied by Romana, a fellow Time-Lord, played by Mary Tamm – had to find them, before the Black Guardian could get his dastardly mitts on them.

Must admit, however, that while K-9 (the Doctor’s robot dog) may have “enchanted younger viewers,” Brad was not one of them. Strangely enough, one can’t recall those stories where K-9 made a positive contribution to the plot…

“Curious the tricks time plays on one, isn’t it…?”

The Doctor: “Adric, I give you a privileged insight into the mystery of time, yes? Open your mind to adventures beyond inagination, yes…? And you criticise my logic?!” 

Adric: “No… no, I’m just saying that a lot of the time you really don’t make sense.”

The Doctor: “Aarh. Aarh! You’ve noticed that, have you? Well, I mean anyone can talk sense as long as that is understood. I think we’re going to get along splendidly! Come on!” 

 

Frisk: “Who are you? The company you said you worked for was liquidated twenty years ago!”

The Doctor: “I was wondering why I’ve never been paid…”

Frisk: “That’s not good enough!” 

The Doctor: “That’s exactly what I thought…”

Doctor Who heralded the new decade with a drastic image makeover.

Not only a brand new title sequence, but a completely (ahem) regenerated, synthesized theme tune, a new Producer (John Nathan-Turner) and new companions were introduced, but, unexpectedly, Baker continued in the role for one more season. Having served as the longest-serving Time-Lord, he felt it his duty to speak out against anything unWhovian. 

This viewer still watched avidly every Saturday evening, even if the quality used to fluctuate. Among the weaker stories from this period: The Mandrels (above) from Nightmare of Eden ‎(24 November – 15 December 1979) always looked great to me even though the costume department loathed them. Re-watching this story, nearly four decades later, the script (provided by Bob Baker) is uproariously funny! The much-derided Horns of Nimon (22 December 1979 – 12 January 1980) still appealed to me because their minotaur-like monsters latched onto Greek mythology: my other great obsession around that time. 

Baker’s penultimate story: The Keeper of Traken (31 January – 21 February 1981) has become another personal favourite. Especially liked the way in which arch-villain The Master lurked inside that creepy Melkur statue (see below!)

After kicking up a grand bally-Who with Nathan-Turner, Baker, rather inevitably, threw in the scarf. His beloved era of wit, warmth, and wool, came to its conclusion in the Season 18 closer: Logopolis21 March 1981: a date forever seared into my memory.

“It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…” 

The Doctor: “When I mentioned the black hole to Soldeed, he didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.”

Romana: “Ah, well, people often don’t know what you’re talking about!” 

The Doctor: “Exactly!” 

 

In other Who’s: 

As well as time, space is an issue, but surely you can make room to discuss those other glorious masterpieces such as: The Ark in Space, The Deadly Assassin, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang, yes? These gems, all masterfully written by Robert Holmes, will appear together in a special forthcoming Post reviewing this great writer’s work.

If one had to recommend just one story that best exemplifies the Baker era, it would have to be Genesis of the Daleks (1975, written by Terry Nation). It not only restored the menace of the series’ most popular villains, but with its tense and terrific storyline – plus a wicked performance by Michael Wisher as Davros, creator of the Daleks – it redefined what SF TV could achieve. 

It contained the single greatest scene in the history of British TV drama which can be found here in this previous celebration of Doctor Who.

And which single Classic Doctor Who story counts as my personal favourite?

City of Death (29 September – 20 October 1979). Without a doubt. 

Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth (“an infinitely superior race”) remains one of SF TV’s greatest villains; Julian Glover’s performance of megalomaniacal malevolence landed him the role of General Veers in a blockbuster the following year called: The Empire Strikes Back. 

The destruction of the Jagaroth ship caused the chemical reaction that gave birth to the human race. And the Doctor must stop Scaroth from going back in time to prevent himself from initiating the launch sequence: GENIUS. 

Doctor Who: written by Douglas Adams, and guest-starring John Cleese?

Come on! 

It’s a shame that NuWho is nowhere near as witty and clever as this: 

Scaroth of Jagaroth: “Time is running out, Doctor!”

The Doctor: “What do you mean: Time is running out?’ It’s only 1505…” 

 

The Doctor: “Good, well now he’s gone, any chance of a cup of tea?” 

General Ravon: “WHAT?!”

The Doctor: “Or coffee. My friend and I’ve had a very trying experience. Haven’t we had a trying experience, Harry?”

Harry Sullivan: “Very trying, Doctor.”

General Ravon: “STEP INTO THE SECURITY SCAN!”

The Doctor: What, no tea…?”