Monday, December 24, 2007

Dr. Who and the Daleks

Ah, I can't wait for tomorrow. There's going to be a new Doctor Who on! Although I probably won't get to watch it tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I can watch the one bit of Doctor Who I haven't seen in some form, the feature films! Some of it is hard to watch since it was made and destroyed before I was born, but reconstructions exist. Those are all listed on the ultimate source of Doctor Who episode information on the web. For some reason the feature films are not. And now I know a little bit of why.

First you rewrite the characters so that the main fellow is, well, human. You can't be having alien characters be central. Who will the humans watching relate to? And give him an actual last name that people may stick after "Dr." to call him. I think he did once introduce himself as "Doctor Who" in the series. It was early on, they were still figuring it out. The first film was done only a couple years after the first of the series and was only using that as the fertile ground from which to spring.

Let both Susan and Barbara call him grandfather and Ian can be Barbara's boyfriend. Let him also be the source of mild slapstick entertainment, too. Then everyone can join up in this "TARDIS" thing the grandfather is showing off to Ian where a bumped lever (ah, more mild slapstick) can launch the merry band into adventure. Everything from here is quite familiar to viewers of the second story from the series, usually referred to as "The Daleks" and sometimes "The Mutants". Yeah, tin pots with plungers have been terrorizing the Doctor that long. Hey, it only took to the 8th Doctor for them to figure out bumps in the road like stairs.

Now, since this story was originally seven episodes in a time of half hour shows, there's a little bit to cut. Not that they did. Instead, they seemed to be ticking off each thing that happened in the original story off a list. Well, there was no alien romance this time, but that had been done fairly quietly and Barbara's already got a boyfriend this time. Meanwhile, the bits that didn't seem well motivated before seem to be positively mechanical in service of performing the story just as it was done before.

It is a wonderful story after all. Start off with the horrors that result from nuclear war, meet up with the side that has decided that one must never fight (although this isn't shown much) and convince them to throw away their values to help retrieve equipment. Then with their help, commit apparent genocide on the side still out to destroy everything. It's alright, they're bad. Well, they are!

Rewritten basic background and adds nothing original beyond that... That must be why it's not listed. My take: watch the episodes, it'll make a little more sense and they do still exist. Meanwhile, there's nothing for it but to watch the second film.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Trenches is another comic by Scott Mills. I may have noted that I didn't like his artwork much previously. I suppose it works a little better for a wartime story, but I still don't much like it.

As might be imagined, this is a WWI story. The story passes though many events, but with very little detail, much like the artwork. It's nice, but unsatisfying for me. It feels too leisurely and almost empty even though much story is covered because of the lack of detail. I seem to prefer detail to the point of clutter.

The characters have distinctive visual traits and there are only a few main characters, but it can still be difficult to figure out who is who. This one also has a character who has been bald since he was a child. I wonder why this is a common factor.

(The image included above is copyright 2002 by Scott Mills.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Heat Guy J

Heat Guy J is a fun anime with a great soundtrack set it what is perhaps a future. It builds up a fairly interesting world as the backdrop for a story that is too complicated to fit all the details into 25 episodes. Also, I don't actually own it (and saw it quite a while ago) so I can't refer back to it as I look at the manga, which is what I've got here.

Whereas most anime is derived from manga source, this one is the other way around. If one didn't already know that, the list of four names on the cover might give a big hint. So as a derivative work, and having seen the original, the question "What does this add?" seems valid. After all there was plenty to try to fill in with the original story and surely many new stories that could have been written. So, what does this add?

Unfortunately, the answer is "absolutely nothing". What you get in the manga is a choppy retelling of 4 early episodes with foreshadowing of the overall story thrown in here and there to try to get the reader hooked into wanting to read more. Clearly there was a plan to continue on and maybe eventually add something but, well, there is a reason this book doesn't have the expected volume number on it. It just doesn't carry. What was dramatic in the anime is not dramatic placed in a single panel, at least not the way this was carried off. However, since the treatment isn't changed any, all the visual elements have to work the same way when they are shown panel by panel as when they are shown animated. It just isn't the same. The result is generally blah.

Also, it's totally missing that great soundtrack.