Wednesday 12 September 2012

Comics That Weren't

Last Saturday, I found myself editing the Yateley Baptist Church notice sheet for the first time in about 16 months.  It was due to restart after its usual summer hiatus, and the editorship had boomeranged back to me due to the spiralling work commitments of the guy who had taken it over last spring.  (Speaking of which: it seems to be a dangerous thing to pray that someone will get a job - sometimes they get rather more job than the prayer meeting bargained for!)

Well, so far, so run-of-the-mill.  But there was a bit of empty space left over, and I toyed with the idea of re-printing one of the 178 existing Grace and Caffeine strips.  I re-read the archives, and failed to pick one that I liked as a re-starting point, so the idea went to the cutting-room floor.  I never considered writing a new one - I've had a few ideas for future episodes in the two years since packing the project in, and slowly accumulated them in various notebooks, and I remain open to the possibility of doing a fifth season at some point, but I'm already working on too many different things at the moment and have no intention of adding Grace and Caffeine Year 5 to that list until a couple of the current items have been cleared off it.  Maybe someday, though.

Then my addled brain got onto the statistics: if I'd carried on with the 48-episodes-per-year thing, I'd have got to 274 before stopping for this summer, and produced #275 over this last weekend.  By that logic, there are almost a hundred G&C strips which could have been by now, but weren't / aren't.

Since G&C has been stopped for so long, its 178-strip 'runtime' was overtaken earlier this year by Brothers in Shells, which interestingly enough began life as an ink-and-paper comic but has now made the transition to a fully-digital production workflow, which I expect G&C would also do if/when I get round to drawing Year 5.  And speaking of Brothers in Shells: that notice sheet wasn't the only thing coming back from a summer hiatus over the last few days.  Tim's strange and wonderful snails-in-space webcomic is also back online as of yesterday, and once again features those pesky Tavuc getting the worst of George Darlan's 'benevolence'.  Which made me happy.

Go and read it.  Now.

- The Colclough

Monday 3 September 2012

Daleks and Happiness

Yes: Daleks and happiness.

Not, I will admit, a combination that happens often. But on Saturday night, it did.

I liked Asylum of the Daleks.  I haven't got round to my habitual re-watching on iPlayer with the subtitles on, but my impression (quite a distinct impression, at that) after the initial screening of the Season 33 / New Series 7 opener was a positive one.

As might have been hinted in previous posts on this blog, I was less than ecstatic with the way Doctor Who Season 32 / New Series 6 turned out.  As time has moved on, and the first two Matt Smith seasons have become more and more a matter of hindsight, my liking for 31/5 has remained undiminished, but my dissatisfaction with 32/6 has become increasingly definite.  Not to say it was without its moments - I thought The Doctor's Wife was mostly very good, and The Girl Who Waited was excellent (pleased to hear rumours that Tom MacRae has written another script, for the second half of 33/7) - but the season had some pretty naff episodes, and on the whole, I thought it was badly structured.

And then, there was the massive wait for the new season.  All those months without Who.

But it was worth the wait.  I think the fundamental problem with Moffat's episodes for 32/6 was that he was so busy trying to string together his massive River-centric arc that he forgot to make sure each individual story was satisfying in its own right.  Some of them, in my opinion, definitely weren't, with the main culprits being A Good Man Goes to War and The Wedding of River Song.  I was therefore relieved when he announced a few months back that 33/7 would be a lot less arc- and cliffhanger-driven, with each episode being more of a standalone adventure - and that's exactly what Asylum of the Daleks turned out to be.  Yes, it sets up some big questions for the rest of the season, but the story hangs together in and of itself, and I came away feeling that I had seen a proper, complete story, rather than only the first bit of something.  It manages to be as intriguing as last year's opener The Impossible Astronaut, but without also being as frustrating.

Mixed feelings on the revised title sequence, but that's a minor thing.  The point is that the episode itself works.  I would rank it as Moffat's best script for the show since 31/5 finale The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang, and - possibly - the best of the eight DW season opener episodes I've seen.

In my opinion, RTD was at his best during his first season, and at his worst during his second, with the third and fourth recovering somewhat.  Moffat's first two seasons followed the same pattern, and if Asylum is anything to go by, then it looks like he might be following the third-season-recovery pattern too.

Which is why, for me at least, Daleks and happiness have coincided.

- The Colclough