Book Review: DOCTOR WHO 50th Anniversary: Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories

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doctor who 50th anniversary collectionPuffin Books
2014

While I have nothing against ebooks, I am rather stubborn in my preference of old fashioned paper-and-ink books over PDF files on a Kindle or Nook or whatever. And as big of a fan of Doctor Who that I am, I didn’t see myself purchasing the eleven short story adventures that were released in conjunction with the year-long 50th Anniversary celebration in 2013. At least, not in the ebook form. If I ever saw them all collected in physically printed book form, then I would be all over that like Ace on homemade explosives.

Well, lo and behold, they have been all collected and released in one nifty trade paperback (I don’t know if it’s been released in hardcover or not); I happened to run into this copy sitting on the shelf, the rather shiny silver foil embossed cover capturing my attention, while perusing the sci-fi section at the Hasting’s shop one weekend afternoon. So, of course I purchased the sucker, laying to waste the gift card I got for Christmas that year.

Of all the authors who contributed the eleven stories to the book, the only name I recognized immediately was Neil Gaiman’s, who wrote the Eleventh Doctor story “Nothing O’Clock”. That matters little, really, as I very ravenously tore into the collection, starting at the very first story, featuring the First Doctor. And here are the brief, relatively spoiler-free synopsis of the stories:

“A Big Hand for the Doctor” (Eoin Colfer)
–the First Doctor gets a hand transplant, saves some children and Susan from Space Pirates, and inadvertently inspires someone to write Peter Pan…

“The Nameless City” (Michael Scott)
–the Second Doctor and Jamie come into possession of the Necronomicon, gets transported to a very distant, very ancient planet, and encounter a long-forgotten enemy of the Time Lords…

“The Spear of Destiny (Marcus Sedgwick)
–the Third Doctor and Jo attempt to steal an ancient Norse spear and run afoul of some Vikings in the Second Century A.D. along with the Master, who has plans of his own…

“The Roots of Evil” (Philip Reeve)
–the Fourth Doctor and Leela show up on a giant tree world in space, to find that the populace has been holding a grudge against a future version of him for 900 years or so…

“Tip of the Tongue” (Patrick Ness)
–the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa travel to a town in Maine in 1945 to investigate the reason behind the premature appearance of the Truth Tellers…

“Something Borrowed” (Richelle Mead)
–the Sixth Doctor and Peri go to a wedding and run into the Rani, who is up to her typical no good…

“The Ripple Effect” (Malorie Blackman)
–the Seventh Doctor and Ace create a ripple in time while escaping a nebula, which results in a tangent reality where the Daleks are benevolent good guys…

“Spore” (Alex Scarrow)
–the Eighth Doctor encounters an alien spore in a Nevada desert town that threatens to wipe out all life on Earth, unless they receive the correct answer to their question…

“The Beast of Babylon” (Charlie Higson)
–the Ninth Doctor battles a gigantic Star Child in ancient Babylonia, while debating whether or not to go back and convince a certain Rose Tyler to be his companion on his travels…

“The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage” (Derek Landy)
–the Tenth Doctor and Martha encounter an entity that brings the stories previously read to horrible reality…

“Nothing O’Clock” (Neil Gaiman)
–the Eleventh Doctor and Amy run into a recently escaped old enemy of the Time Lords, looking for revenge on the only remaining Time Lord left…

Overall, the stories contained in this collection were rather good bits of sci-fi fantasy adventures, with nods to not only continuity within the Doctor Who universe (the Fourth Doctor’s indignant reaction over the thought of him ever wearing a bow tie was just precious), but also other bits and pieces taken from pop culture over the years (notably a brief reference to the Harry Potter series in “A Big Hand for the Doctor”, and a whole bunch of H. P. Lovecraft influence in “The Nameless City”). Little bite-sized Doctor Who nuggets that I found myself going through a bit too fast yet again. I would say that this collection would do well for those who haven’t gotten around to purchasing the ebook stories individually, or as a nice sampler of adventures from all Eleven incarnations of the Doctor for those who have only known the last three. Not counting “Captain Grumpy”, of course…

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A brief update, here…

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imagesWell now, it’s been a while since I’ve had an actual update, or put actual content onto this bliggity-blog of mine. Sorry about that. Assuming that I still have readers, that is. I’ve always had delusions of adequacy when it came to my own self-importance. Or self-delusions. But I digress.

So, I’m sitting here in the lobby outside of Room 211 at Christ Lutheran, waiting for Kim and my future Mother-In-Law to show up, and thought it would be a good time, while I have Icon Of Coil blasting through my headphones, comfortably isolated from the maddening crowd, to bring everyone up to speed on what’s been going on in the life of your Uncle NecRo.

Just this last week, I started a new job, training as a manager for a certain restaurant chain that has a bit of a thing about any of their employees blogging about it, so I’m just going to say the name rhymes with “Glarby’s”. This is in Lincoln, and I normally have to be there at 8am this past week, which means–considering where I live–I have to get up at 4am just so I have enough time to get my body functioning to get ready and drive the 1.5 hours to get to Lincoln and my job. Which means, I’ve been dealing with some sleep deprivation, and the pain that accompanies breaking in the shoes they require for this job. As well as cramming in all of the information they slam into my brain and the fast-paced hands-on training I get in every 10-hour day. Then I get a brief hang-out time with my betrothed, then it’s off to home to crash and then repeat the process.

So, yeah, that means that my usual personal writing output has been less than what I’d like. But I assure you, as soon as I can find some time, I’ll get back to this ongoing online experiment…cheers…

::END TRANSMISSION::

NECRO SHOCK RADIO: March 5, 2014

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March 5, 2014

 …hey, look! Another Session! Nifty!

 featuring: Ashen Mortality, Deliverance, Disciple, Horde, Kekal, Living Sacrifice, Opprobrium, Rose, Sacrament, The 7 Method, Tourniquet, and Vengeance Rising…

 CLICK HERE to listen!

CLICK HERE to download!

Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS – Dark Of The Moon

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Transformers_dark_of_the_moon_ver5Paramount Pictures
2011
PG-13

“How doomed are you, Autobots.  You simply fail to understand, that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

A mysterious event from Earth’s past threatens to ignite a war so big that the Transformers alone will not be able to save the planet.  Sam Witwicky and the Autobots must fight against the darkness to defend our world from the Decepticons’ all-consuming evil in the smash hit from director Michael Bay and executive producer Stephen Spielberg.

The first Transformers movie was a big-budget and mindlessly fun summer action flick, which I saw in the theaters.  The second Transformers movie was even bigger, but was even more mindless in a bad way, when I saw it on DVD.  This third installment of the Michael Bay-helmed franchise, subtitled Dark Of THe Moon, is something I waited until it was on Net Flix streaming to finally watch, and even then it was after weeks of hesitation, thinking “um, well…I don’t know…”  But, finally took the plunge, just to get that completist side of me satisfied that I had indeed watched all three live-action Transformers movies.  No matter what the cost to my sanity.

And really, after the final credits rolled, I must admit that Dark Of The Moon wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Definitely not the raging disaster that a lot of reviews both professional and amateur were proclaiming this was.  I think a lot of that has to do with there being actual writers to work on this, rather than Michael Bay having to write like he did on the last movie, due to the writers strike.  The result is a much more cohesive plot, rather than…what passed as a plot on Revenge Of The Fallen.

That’s not to say that Dark Of The Moon is suddenly a serious and sophisticated piece of cinema.  This is still a Michael Bay flick, for crying out loud. You go into this expecting mostly giant robots making things go boom.  And you get that in spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds.  This time out, Megan Fox is not the focus of sexual objectification, and the movie is so much better without her presence.  Finally, we have a love interest that doesn’t embarrass herself whenever she opens her mouth.  Intelligence is a nice change of pace, there.  The Sam Witwicky character is still an annoyingly whiny d-bag; matter of fact, I argue that aspect of the character has been amplified up to 11, at least in the first third of the movie.  And “Deep Wang”?  Really?  Did we really need that?  I can imagine the writers giggling like a six-year-old boy who just discovered the game Pull My Finger.

There are quite a few things to like about Dark Of The Moon.  Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Sentinel Prime was a great choice, though recycling the somewhat cliche’ phrase “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” was a little more groan-worthy than fanboy squee-enducing.  The inclusion of Shockwave and Laserbeak were…okay, I geeked all over the place.  John Malkovich was a good surprise, though I wonder why he agreed to appear in this.  It’s a small roll, but still.  And Alan Tudyk as Dutch…I want to see a movie about his character.

At a little over two and a half hours, I can’t say that Transformers: Dark Of The Moon just flew by.  There were times where I’d pause it to use the restroom or replenish the snack bowl, and think “There’s still that much lefet?”  But, at least I didn’t get bored.  Admittedly, the movie did suffer from the scenes with Sam Witwicky in there, but not by much.  The real reason to watch this is the giant robots duking it out in Chicago, and finally a glimpse of Cybertron.  Worth a watch sometime.

Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS

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Transformers07DreamWorks SKG
2007
PG-13

“A necessary sacrifice to bring peace to this planet. We cannot let the humans pay for our mistakes. It’s been an honor serving with you all. Autobots, ROLL OUT!”

The All-Spark, the cube-shaped thingamajig that sparked life into the machine planet Cybertron, has been located on Earth, and the Autobots are hot the Decepticon’s trail to be the ones to locate it first. Caught in the middle is young Sam Witwicky, who has the coordinates of the All-Spark imprinted on the glasses of his Great Grandfather…

Many of the cartoon-and-plastic idols of my childhood that I look back on fondly are getting repackaged nowadays, it seems. Looking back, I mean sure, most of ’em were little more than 22-minute toy commercials with a plot (sort of); but oh, what toy commercials they were!

Transformers, those giant robot imports from Cybertron (a distant machine planet that had “Made In Taiwan” stamped on its rear sector) that turned into various vehicles, appliances and…um, other stuff, was one of the Big Three that called out to me early every morning, working better than any alarm clock ever would. So, yes; I was one of the attendants at the big live-action movie that had a nostalgic investment (some would say “baggage”) going in. So, how does it stack up?

Well, as a movie in and of itself, I bought my ticket expecting your typical Michael Bay-helmed summer movie: Big robots, adrenaline-pumping action, explosions, off-the-scale battles, and somewhat palpable dialog. You know, your usual check-your-brain-at-the-door-and-enjoy-yourself kind of escapism movie. And on that end, I got that in spades. The bots were awesome, very nicely done. The ‘splosions were big, and the battles massive. Of course, the characters, story and dialog were a bit on the campy side, but let’s face it. If anyone was going into this movie expecting an Oscar-winning character-driven drama were sorely misdirected by their ticket-taker. And if you bought the DVD expecting this…well, you’re just stupid.

All in all, the live-action Transformers movie was a darn fun ride, I felt it did justice to my inner cartoon fanatic. It helped ignoring all the fanboy whining that ensued the minute this movie was announced. Just check in your brain at the door, and enjoy the fun…

Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS The Movie

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Transformers-movieposter-westD Laurentiis Entertainment Group
1986
PG

“I would have waited an eternity for this. It’s over, Prime.”

Set in the futuristic year of…2005, the epic battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons has escalated all the way back to Cybertron, which has been reclaimed by the Decepticons. After a massive battle that resulted in the deaths of many Autobots and Decepticons, and the near-destruction of Autobot City, the victorious yet mortally wounded Megatron is turned into the even more powerful Galvatron by the planet-sized Unicron. The purpose…to find the Autobot Matrix and destroy it, as it’s the only thing that can stop the destruction of Unicron…

I remember when this came out in theaters. Mind you, I couldn’t see it, as I was only 11, and at the time my parents were rather strict as to violent content in movies. Regardless of my ravenous fanaticism with both the toy line and the cartoon that bordered on religious, it was only recently when the movie was re-released on DVD through Rhino (God bless ’em) that I was able to recapture a bit of my lost childhood there.

Viewing it now, compared to the quality of animation nowadays, Transformers The Movie seems a bit dated. Mind you, the action and violence in the movie is on a higher level than that of the TV cartoon, hence the PG rating. Many robots are killed here, including Optimus Prime and Starscream, both major characters in the Transformers lore. Really, the movie seems to be a jumping-on point of reference with the second generation of shows that followed, with new Autobot leader Rodimus Prime and other new robots both good and evil making their appearance here.

The voice talent is pretty much top-notch, with many of the usual voices from the original TV show appearing, plus Judd Nelson, Scatman Corthers, Lenord Nemoy, Eric Idle and the late, great Orson Wells lending their voices.

Some low points: There’s just an overabundance of music stuck in that took away from the action, mostly from more generic rock bands. The hair metal theme by the band Lion was cool, but with odd choices (like Weird Al Yankovic’s “Dare To Be Stupid”) kinda taking way from the enjoyment. Also, there are many edit cuts here, which makes the pacing kind of choppy at times.

As part of the Transformers lore, The Movie is an essential part of the old-school storyline. Although not perfect, it is one of the better 80s cartoons that was made for the big screen…