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Thanks to recent epic levels of mental exhaustion I've finally found the time to start making my way through the first season of Carnivàle and, although I'm only two episodes in, I'm totally sold. I like the decision to show rather than the explain the weird starting conditions, I like the cast of characters and the authenticity of the setting. Let's hope the rest of the series delivers on its initial promise.
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Oh. Wow. So many things to love, so little space to say.

William and Walter put the dream team back together ("Look at this! Me and Belly collecting human tissue and fluid specimens, just like when we were kids!") Plenty of gratuitous polo necks and lab coats. Bell leching over Astrid and Astrid being totally creeped out. Lincoln being super-nerdtastic. A plot involving soul sucking vampires. Cow petting and drug induced giggling. "What are they saying in the background?" "I have no idea. They're doing that thing again where they don't finish sentences."

And Anna Torv (and her right eyebrow) shamelessly stealing every scene.
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"You know when you go on vacation and when you come back some things are a revelation..."

I just love the reveal scene between Olivia and Peter the hospital in Marionette. It's seriously good bit of writing and acting. The way that Liv braces herself when Peter starts to talk; the way the shot stays on her as he explains; the way you see her dying by degrees as the truth comes out. And then it's back to classic Bulletproof Olivia mode as she boxes up her damage and tries to persuade Peter that she's not hurt: "It's fine. We're good. Let's go."

And the kicker? Peter, poor deluded fool that he is, thinks she's taken the news well. Walter, on the other hand, is surprisingly insightful: "Really? Do you think possibly they replaced her with a robot?"
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Despite my initial scepticism of central conceipt of season 3 of Fringe, it took me a mere episode and a half — enough time to see all the characters in action — to completely steal my heart. All over again. Now all I have to do is resist the terrible temptation to sit down and watch the whole series in one giant marathon session.

My only gripe so far? In 6955 KHz, Astrid fishes out a recording of JS Bach's The Art of Fugue but when she actually puts it on, it turns out to be the air from the 3rd orchestral suite. An unintentional slip or an intentional indicator of Walter's generally chaotic attitude to record keeping?
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Having got as far as episode 2.15 of Fringe — where Walter spills the beans to Olivia — I found my brain snagged on the piece of Bach that 80s Walter puts on when he returns home to Peter and Elizabeth. I was pretty sure it was the opening to an aria, but I couldn't remember whether it was from one of the passions or whether it was from somewhere else entirely. It wasn't until this morning, I caught myself adding in the words, that I realised it was the obbligato opening to the Benedictus from the B-minor Mass:


(Walter's enthusiasm for Bach goes all the way back to ep 1.3, when he asks Peter to play the Mass in A-minor on the piano. Which as any Bach nerd knows doesn't make much sense: Bach didn't actually write a mass in A-minor. So perhaps Water was thinking of the missa brevis in A-major BWV 234 or, more likely, the Mass in B-minor BWV 232, but I don't suppose it matters much since Peter refuses to play it)
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Apalapucia. Second destination for the discerning inter-galactic travel. Because No 1 is hideous. It's a set of lift doors. Amy has a twitter feed. Press a button: Sensible Rory picks green. Because what kind of tool picks red. Oh, Amy. That's who. Amy through the magnifying glass: "Time's gone wobbly. I hate it when it does that" Rory can't handle the hand bot. "Where have you been? I've been here a week!" "Two different time streams running parallel but at two different speeds. Amy, you're in a faster time stream!" But Amy's no longer in the Red Waterfall room: "It's never simple!" Infodump: the planet is under quarantine for a plague that kills in a day; the plague only affects two hearted races, so that's the Doctor out of things; Red Waterfall time is compressed; the time glasses sync up the two time streams; the green anchors can watch their loved ones live out their lives in a single day. Rory's right: it's horrible. The Doctor has a plan: hack the time glass and use the TARDIS to break through, while Amy hides in the facility and tries not to get killed by the handbots' incompatible drugs.

"Glasses are cool. Hello Rory cam." The Doctor has stalker gear? Two Streams looks a lot like an empty airport. Clom has a Disneyland? Killing with kindness? Thematic statement! So that's what the handbots keep in their heads. Welcome to Aperture Science. Time to escape through the vents. "Eyes front soldier!" Rory is distracted by the Venus de Milo meanwhile Amy checks out the freaky topiary in the garden. The AI isn't all that smart. But Amy is: she short circuits the handbots and works out a way to hide close to the temporal engines. The Doctor works out how to see everyone. "Are they happy?" "Oh Rory, trust you to think of that!"

Nice job on Karen Gillan's make up. "I think the time stream lock might be a bit wobbly" No kidding. Kendo Amy is hyper-capable and maybe not so keen on the Doctor as Original Amy. And also, seems to have been wearing the same trousers for the last 40 years. Maybe it's something to do with compressed time. "I don't care that you got old. I care that we didn't grow old together" Cast Away. "Survive, because no-one's going to come for you. Number one lesson" The Doctor homes in on the regulator valve. Amy wears the stalker glasses. "They look ridiculous." "That's what I told him. Still anything beats a fez, eh?" Drink! Rory can still make Kendo Amy laugh. Mime work. "Out of then and into the now!" The Doctor has a plan to create two Amy's but Kendo Amy spots the obvious problem: she'll cease to exist if they rescue Original Amy. Rory calls the Doctor on his slapdash attitude to travel.

Original Amy tries to convince Kendo Amy. Recursion. But this time it's different: "I'm going to pull time apart for you!" Kendo Amy wants escape on the TARDIS: "Can that work?" "I dunno. It's your marriage" I'm definitely in the demographic for this episode. Technobable! The though so powerful it can rip through time is the macarena? The echo is a nice touch. Temporal feedback. Original Amy's hockey skills come in handy. Time to route around. Teleports vs time jumps. Rory's discomfort at Amy's flirtation is nicely done. Kendo Amy kicks handbot arse. "Do not be alarmed. This is a kindness" All the worse because the hanbots, unlike the daleks, really think they're helping — they just can't no for an answer.

Original Amy is down for the count. Time to use the Mona Lisa as a weapon. Time to grab the girl and run for the TARDIS. Time to remember Rule 1: the Doctor lies. Hair splitting: is preventing someone's existence the same as killing them? Time for Rory to choose: Kendo Amy understands, because she used to be Original Amy, but she still can't forgive. She knows she's going to fight for her life, so she asks for her chance to escape to be taken away: "Don't let me in. Tell Amy, your Amy, I'm giving her the days. The days with you. The days to come. The days I can't have." And Kendo Amy is gone, as if she never existed. As always, the Doctor dodges the hard questions and leaves Rory to break the news, because although the Amy he betrayed never existed, he's still betrayed her one way or another...
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Stepford in the sky. Old Lady, grim lift, child with night terrors. OCD. "Five times. It has to be five times." Scary shadows. Significant Conversation overheard: "He needs a doctor. Psychic paper. Something tells me I'm a long way out of the target demographic for this one. I wouldn't take the lift if I were you. Going door to door: old lady; psycho slumlord; and, in a nod to The Shining, twins. "Maybe we should let the monsters gobble him up" Rory and his big mouth strike again. The Doctor spots the boy. The Lift of Doom strikes. Told you not to take it.

A house call. Hello Alex. Are the bins possessed? George has always been a funny kid. Eight in January. Foreshadowing? Rory thinks the TARDIS has gone funny again: "The Doctor's back there in Eastenders-land and we're stuck here in the TARDIS..." The Doctor favours the talking cure. The dusty house is made of fake wooden stuff. Amy finds a rather lame lamp and a giant glass eye. "The Three Little Sontarans, the Emperor Dalek's New Clothes..." The Doctor can't solve a Rubik's Cube. All scary things go into the cupboard. Visit from the slumlord breaks the tension. The cupboard readings are off the scale. The dusty house doesn't have a door knob and the hands are painted on the clock.

The Doctor makes tea. And reveals himself to Alex: "You're not from Social Services, are you?" The old lady is on her own in the house. Creepy laughter getting closer to Rory and Amy. Scary Doll is Very Scary. "Should we open the cupboard?" The Doctor argues with himself. "Never anything on is there Bernard? Bergerac? God 'elp us. Thirty years old, that..." The Slumlord's life is empty. And he gets dragged straight to hell. The cupboard is actually just full of junk. The Doctor helps Alex realise the Awful Troof. So who is George? Time for the Doctor and Alex to go to the scary house. Rory panics. A bit. The Scary Dolls turn the slumlord into a Scary Doll. Definitely time to panic.

The Doctor cracks the case: "Either we're trapped inside the doll's house or this is a refuge for dirty posh people who eat wooden food. Or termites. Giant termites. Trying to get on the property ladder..." Perception filter! The Doctor rambles. Amy's lame plan is lame and she reaps the consequences. Five lights: George's fears and rituals are shaping everything. The boy's a cuckoo: the child Alex and Claire wanted. "I can't save you from the monsters. Only you can." U-turn. Confrontation isn't enough: Gorge needs to know he's not being rejected. And with that, we're home from Narnia. Kippers for breakfast? Nasty. And we're done with a creepy nursery rhyme...
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Wheat field. Amy with a map full of arrows. We're crop circling. Should they be using an app for that? Mels' muscle car, in contrast to Rory's retro mini. "Doctor not following this. Doctor very lost..." Close your eyes and think of Dawn Summers. "Time travel. That's just brilliant" Thematic statement! "You've got a time machine. I've got a gun. What the hell. Let's kill Hitler!" Greatest line ever? Retcon. Amy's total confusion over Rory. Love the cut from the TARDIS model to the real thing. Temporal grace = clever lie. Hah! South Wales doubles for 30s Berlin. Complete with a shape changing robot full of miniature people and murderous antibodies. Someone's been reading Isaac Asimov.

The TARDIS interrupts the robot's mission. To kill Hitler. Oops. "Believe me, it was an accident" I love the read on that line. Rory punches Hitler and locks him in the stationary cupboard. So much for that. The tiny people reckon that the TARDIS is hiding a female war criminal. Mels proposes to the Doctor. "Penny in the air" She's Melody. And she's regenerating. Circular logic. "You got to raise me after all" Hello Alex. "I love it. I'm all, sort of, mature. Hello, Benjamin!" Someone's having way too much fun! "Oh, that's magnificent! I'm going to be wearing lots of jodhpurs!" Everyone else looks mildly appalled. The Doctor and River play I know you know. The sonic and letter knife duel is pure Harry Potter. "I'm a psychopath. I'm not rude." "Mummy, pay attention. I was born to kill the Doctor" Judas kiss. And, as always, she jumps out of the window.

Classic bit of nazi baiting. With added cleavage. "Can you ride a motorbike?" "I expect so. It's that sort of day..." The Doctor was killed on the shores of Lake Silencio? Clue there, I think. "Get me someone I like" Oooh, fan service. "Fish fingers and custard" Fancy nazi hotel, complete with Pachelbel's canon even though one of the scores quite clearly says "Johannes Brahms" on it. River makes an entrance and semi-naked people leave. "OK, I'm trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor." So that's why River ages backwards. "You killed the Doctor. On the orders of movement known as the Silence and the Academy of the Question." Robot Amy infodumps. While the Doctor takes the time to dress up like Fred Astaire. "At least I'm not a time-travelling, shape-shifting robot operated by miniaturised cross people which, I have got to admit, I didn't see coming" You and me both. The cross people explain: they use time travel to extract and punish people who've done wrong and send them to hell. More infodumpage: the Silence is a religious movement; their core belief is that Silence will fall when the Question is asked; the first Question, the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight.

The robot sends river to hell and Amy triggers the robot's immune system. "You will experience a tingling sensation and then death" Ouch. The cross people have a Star Trek transporters. Time to escape through the eye. Now we know why River can fly the TARDIS. A word in private, presumably a confession of love, an identity is revealed and a sacrifice is made. Is it enough to balance the scales? "She'll be absolutely fine." "No. She won't. She will be... amazing" The Blue Book makes its first appearance and we know why River became/becomes an archaeologist: "I'm looking for a good man..."
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Nothing says paranoia like a thousand locks on your front door. Es turns her sister in. Is that C. Thomas Howell? I rather think it is! Talking heads to bring us back to speed. Venice Beach because, well, why not? I like the sympathic way Esther takes Gwen's arm. Ellis Hartley Munroe: Sarah Palin by any other name. "Come on Vera! I've seen what you can do with the doctor-patient relationship and the Hypocratic Oath? It doesn't cover it!" Hah! I like Rex and Vera's relationship. Cue the plague hospital. Juarez' horribly impractical shoes add a nice flash of colour. What's the long term strategy? Turning people into plasma?

Nice camp turn from the biker landlord. "We can order that spare server..." Ah, Alias territory. Great sunny backdrop for Gwen's complaining phone call. "Is that a seagull?" "Er... It's a woman... On the rampage. A mad woman. " Eve Myles may have the best accent on god's green earth! Howells has made it to LA. Jack paraphrases the opening of chapter 27 of Middlemarch:

An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science, has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination, and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are going everywhere impartially and it is only your candle which produces the flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive optical selection. These things are a parable. The scratches are events, and the candle is the egoism of any person now absent...

Danes' thing with the bottles of water has a nice feeling of ritual to it. Kitzinger reveals her true feelings for once. Danes' experience an internet predator comes in handy: he recognises the patterns of a bunch of fellow creeps. Nice arch look from Kitzinger. Rex, too, has family issues: his estranged father's dealing black market pharma. I like Esther's hippy-chick mufti. She seems to be the only one worried about recognition — Jack, Gwen and Rex have all stuck with their established wardrobes. Cue Alias retread: server 113 == server 13 in Phase One and the biometrics thing exactly mirrors the ones in The Solution... OK, Gwen's American accent? Excruciating. "You're so never doing that accent again." "I'm mortified! I'm absolutely mortified" Serious lantern hanging.

The plague hospital has become a dumping ground. "The hospices are closing down" Why? Surely they're best placed to deal with the consequences of the Miracle. Again with the impractical shoes, Dr J. Danes trumps Hartley Monroe with his messianic stunt. "This is disgusting." "I know!" Kitzinger is manically excited.

Howells, too, has worked out how to crack Phicorp's security system. I wonder if his method involves a spork? And what does this say about his links with Phicorp if he needs to break in? A lesson in trashing hard discs with a blow lamp. Es learns that actions have consequences. I take it back: Gwen seems to have raided Vera's wardrobe. Nice choice of alias. The old phone divert trick? OK, this is getting ridiculous. "Whoever wears heels to work is heroic. Why do women put up with these things?" Gwen speaks for anyone who's ever wondered about Es and Vera's absurd footware. The disc draws seem to use RJ45 connectors. Rex realises the Awful Troof, just before the Awful Troof turns up and brains Gwenie. Jack makes a schoolboy error. Howells unburdens while Rex takes up tower running. The Miracle relates to something Jack gave someone a long time ago. "A miracle's yet to come. A new society being forged here on earth and I'd like to guarantee my place." All very millenarian. "They are everywhere. They are always. They are no-one." Sinister. "They once had names. Long ago. And those names..." And Rex shoots him.

Danes is trending, replacing the missing Ellis Hartley Monroe at a rally. The triangle speaks, repeating Howells' mantra about identity. And, ooh, talk about a sticky end. Es ties the conspiracy back to the overflow camps and plague hospitals. And Reece's Good News is suddenly Bad News and we've got a cliffhanger ending...

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Interview with Oswald Danes: de facto spokesman; shilling for the drug companies. Rex threatens Friedkin with a fate worse than death and wins the Red Phone. The cops can't afford run-on-flat tyres, it seems. Creepy mask people are creepy. I'm not sure the US-UK English thing really adds anything. Follow the money. Jack hangs a lantern on the dismemberment thing: something is willing people to stay alive. Esther cracks the case: Friedkin was protecting a dodgy warehouse. Gwen shows off her troublemaking skills: the tie grab is a classic. The warehouse is jammed full of drugs and also, apparently, a TARDIS. Phicorp: Kitzinger's company.

Vera doing Doctor things before heading of the NIH. Catholic doctor is very Catholic [question: do contraceptives still work on Miracle Day earth? If they do, then doesn't that do for Dr RC's objection?] . Kitzinger uses klutziness to horn in on the conversation. Juarez doesn't have time for the waffle. "FEMA's a pot of glue that still thinks it's a racehorse" Nice line. And nice recruitment drive. Oh Rex, you just know you're going to be disappointed. What, no mention of ECHELON? Esther quotes Frost and a has Doubts. Sulking and casual sex: how to save the world, Torchwood style.

Rex recruits Vera after revealing the Awful Troof about Phicorp. Jack drunk-dials Gwen but Gwenie's all not-Skyping with her family. Meanwhile Kitzinger recruits Danes, after he gets dumped by the cops. She certainly gets around. The camera contacts make their appearance: "They're the only bit of Torchwood tech I kept." as we discovered back in Children of Earth. "Anyone going on this mission has got to be me" Because sharing contacts? Gross.

Ultra modern corporate headquarters packed full of over-achieving nerds? Check! Faux bathroom break to admit accomplice through a side door? Check! Tantalising distraction from main mission? Check! Sinister side-meeting with Sinister executives? Check? The plan is to legalise the distribution of all pharmaceuticals without prescriptions? Even the poisonous ones? WTF? Universal, access all computers USB? Check? Near miss while snooping out the enemy's office? Check! And suddenly the Red phone is Ringing.

"Let's find out where the hell Jack went." To banter with Danes, apparently. Who has learnt something about roughing people up, thanks to his not-friends in the police. "I'm not calling for free drugs. I'm calling for free access to drugs... government has abandoned us. And I'm thinking of companies like Phicorp. They'd never abandon us, because they need us." What a wonderfully cynical sales pitch to close on.
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Cue faux branded planes. I like Lyn's first line about pissing around the plane. Reece explains it all: "Everything mortal becomes immortal, so everything immortal becomes mortal." Gwen doesn't have a lot of confidence in Reece's parenting skills. "All I could find was an apirin. It was in the co-pilot's pocket. I gave it a quick spritz to get the lint off..." Start of running gag about the air steward's sexuality. "Six hours of boredom followed by monotony" Rex tempts fate. CIA Charlotte with the exposition, but Esther's line is that nothing is certain. Friedkin's bohonmie is way creepy. But his desktop is sharp.

Gwen and Jack have a heart-to-heart. Gwen condescending to Rex is a thing of beauty. But Rex has a plan. Rupert Sheldrake: drink! Lyn's email has three question marks when she sends it, but only two when it hits Friedkin's inbox... Friedkin has a RED phone. Swivel-eyed singularicist is ultra swivel-eyed and links to Oswald Danes raiding the green room and being way creepy. What's with the triangle on Friedkin's phone? Dr Juarez reinvents triage while Lyn plays evil bar tender. I love Danes' shift from reptilian arrogance to weepy contrition, intercut with reaction shots from the CIA bullpen; a nice mix of the convinced and the cynical. But backstage girl buys it. "One of these days you're actually going to have to commit yourself, Esther." And today might just be that day. "Jilly Kitzinger, Mr Danes. I something of a talnet spotter" July also likes RED. Mephistopheles, anyone? The card has to be significant.

"The world's screwed up. You want to help or not?" Passive-aggressive desk clerk is passive aggressive. Juarez indulges in expositional evesdropping. The antibiotics thing? Lantern hanging? "I look like hell" Yup. You've been poisoned. Esther and Rex look like they're being set up. Time to employ some social engineering. Meanwhile back on the plane: "What if you're wrong Rex? What if your big success is one Welsh woman and a dead body?" Gwen is a hardass. "Why would I take that? It's poison." "You just said..." "I just said it was quite an assumption. Yes, I carry poison..." Someone doesn't know much about the symptoms of cynanide poisoning or what cyanosis is. Luckily Rex has Vera on speed dial. Dr J recommends chelation therapy. "I'm a doctor not a chemist" Thanks Bones! Does EDTA bind to arsenic? I thought As bound BAL or DMPS, but I guess they're hard to make from everyday stuff. "If you're the best England's got to offer, then God help you!" "I'm Welsh." Best. Knockout. Ever.

The brains trust reckon that people are still ageing even if they're not dying. Dr J reckons palliatives are the only solution. Kitzinger pops up an opportune moment to tempt Juarez with a business card and a drug stockpile. Unlike Danes, Vera accepts both the card and a free sample of the drugs. Es tells Rex the Awful Troof. What happens if you break someone's neck in a world where they can't die? Oh, OK, Death Becomes Her is what happens.
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A lot to like. The mix of US and Welsh locations and stars worked rather well. I liked the characters — especially the brash Rex Matheson, who seemed to get most of the best lines — and the sheer creepiness of Bill Pullman's performance as Oswald Danes. The central conceit was intriguing (if apparently incoherent) and I liked the episode's willingness to explore some of the grotesqueries inherent in the idea — the post-explosion autopsy was particularly unpleasant.

I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.
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Melody Pond? Hah! Silver eyepatch lady threatens. Amy's passive-aggressive bedtime story is intercut with the cybermen getting a pasting. Significant shot of Soldier Girl in the background. Nice misdirect on the baby's parentage. Superman pod? Check. "I have a message from the Doctor and question from me: where is my wife?" The cybermen use centrifugal gravity? Significant Soldier Girl is sewing something Significant. She also gets a name: Lorna Bucket.

Meanwhile, in Victorian London: "Thank you, Parker. I won't be needing you again tonight" "Yes, milady" Thunderbirds! Having just eaten Jack the Ripper, Lizardwoman finds the TARDIS in her drawing room. A Welsh Sontaran nurse it the 39th century who seems to be Morbo's second cousin? Why not. River breaking back in: the Doctor has taken her skating for her birthday. But she can't help: the Doctor's going to rise higher, fall further, and finally learn the truth about the mysterious River Song. The Blue Guy exposits: the Doctor is calling old favours and going to war.

Lorna gives Amy her Significant Sewing. Foreshadowing? "They're talking like he's famous" "He's sort of like a... dark legend" Amy listens in on Col Manton's St Crispin's Day Speach. Apparently the pope is now a mainframe. And also female. The big reveal: "Point a gun at me, if it'll help you relax" The Headless Monks seem to have mastered the dark side of the force.

"You do realise he's man, don't you ma'am?" "Mammals. You all look alike" Lizardwoman and Jenny deserve their Sarah Waters-penned spin-off. "The Doctor must think he's winning, right until the trap closes" Luckily Significant Lorna overhears. And suddenly there are space pirates! The Doctor humiliates Manton. "Good men have too many rules" Nice close up of Matt Smith. "Today is not the day to find out why I have so many" Rory to the rescue. "Crying Roman with a baby. Definitely cool" The Doctor understands baby. But not how family names work.

"You have never risen higher" Lizardwoman says the fatal words. "Could she even regenerate?" Call back to the end of The Invisible Astronaut. "I know how you can blush" She may be cold-blooded, but she's got a good understanding of the audience demographics. "It's all running about and sexy fish vampires..." When did Dr Who turn into On Chesil Beach? "Why would a Timelord be a weapon?" "They've seen you" Nasty home truth for the Doctor.

The trap snaps shut. "That's the attack prayer!" Ick. Amy's going to need serious therapy to get over that. River arrives in a thunderclap and explains it all. "This wasn't me!" "This was exactly you!" "Can't you read?" Matt Smith's look of dawning realisation makes up for all the stuff that hasn't worked so far, as does Amy's look of abandonment. "The only the water in the forest is the river" Well, duh. And it's time to fade to black and tell the viewers that they'll have to wait until September for the rest...
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A reprise of Dr Who catchphrases past. The acid finally comes in handy. "It's just so inspiring to hear me say it!" Narcissism much? I knew the shoes were going to be important! Just what is Jen painting? Acid + stone = poison gas. Check. "I think I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle" Foreshadowing. Jen has been turned to revolution by memories of previous incarnations. Amy is very confused about identity theory. "Being almost the Doctor is like being no Doctor at all" Callback to Human Nature. "There can be only one!" The Doctor's not a Highlander fan. Silver eyepatch lady. "It's a time memory. Like a mirage. Nothing to worry about" So. Not. True. Amy accidentally spills the Impossible Astronaut beans. But to which Doctor?

"You can't fake a burn" But you can fake an entire person. Jen plays the feeble female card and Rory falls for it. A million gallons of boiling acid? Check! The two Miranda's prove they're identical. "The eyes have it" So that's what Jen drew. Creepy. As is her extendo-jaw thing. "How long have we got?" "An hour? Five seconds? Somewhere between" Oh Rory, you are far too trusting. How come the phone works, when the link to the mainland doesn't? It's curtains for Jimmy: "I'm quite hansom from this angle!" Great last words. Except for Jen, all the gangers are very human: even the sacrifices are split between gangers and humans. The Doctor pulled the old switcheroo! And Amy fessed up to the wrong one! "It may not be the end" Leaving open the possibility of an Anubis Gates resolution. Glass and steel offices are still popular in the 22nd century.

Recap of the Doctor's original offer of fish and chips. "Shenanigans" The Doctor wanted to know how to block signals to the flesh. "You haven't been here for a long, long time" Since the end of the The Impossible Astronaut. And we're in silver eyepatch territory.
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Having been reminded that Alexander Armstrong was on R3 on Monday here's one of A&M's delightfully obscene Flanders and Swann homages:

Let the raciness begin... )

Sadly Brabbins and Fyffe were deemed far too filthy for Radio 3 on a weekday morning, more's the pity, so they went instead for Armstrong's rather nice recording of Stanford's Nunc Dimittis in G from his university days.
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"I only wish I could go in your place... No I don't, because it's really going to hurt." Very Gaimanesque. The Doctor's mail face is a delight. Time to leave the universe and get soul snatched. Ten years on and we miss Douglas Adams as much as ever. Love the glowing washing machine. "Keep back from this one. She bites" "Do I? Excellent! It's like kissing, only there's a winner!" Suranne Jones is beyond superb, both here and throughout. And also super cryptic. I love Auntie and Uncle's accents. House, though, is HAL level creepy. Auntie has mismatched hands — never a good sign. Nice gibberish. "You want to be forgiven?" "Don't we all?" Thematic statement! The bogus errand is totally bogus. Oh noes; misled by mail spool. Amy cracks the bogus errand.

"Ah, it's my thief. It's about time." Love the dialogue. Also the acting. "When you stole me. And I stole you." Fan service. Green glowing console: that can't be good. It isn't. "And we're in the TARDIS, so we're safe." Think again. The tragedy of mortality. "Do you have a name? 700 years; finally he asks!" Hah! They really are like a married couple. House is a sadist? Colour me unsurprised. "So entertain me. Run." Love the junkyard vista. So that's what the TARDIS corridors look like.

"You have never been very reliable... You didn't always take me where I wanted to go!" "No but I always took you where you needed to go" Thematic statement? Ah bulkhead doors: the staple of every SF chase sequence. "I wanted to see the universe so I stole a Time Lord and ran away." M. Gaiman, with this fan service you are really spoiling us. Disturbing graffiti is way disturbing. Rory is dead again. Foreshadowing? "Which one's Amy? The pretty one?" The TARDIS has a thing for Rory! Love the way the lighting changes as the POV switches. It's something nasty in dark 2.0. Crimson: is that the Soviet flag? Recursion. House knows some nasty tricks. But so does the Doctor.

"I just wanted to say hello. Hello Doctor. It's so very, very nice to meet you." I seem to have something in my eye. Eyes. Damn it.

The goggles are terribly steampunk, especially with the rest of the costume. "The only water in the forest is the river" Foreshadowing much? "I should probably make you two a new bedroom" "OK, um, Doctor, this time could we lose the bunk beds?" It's a miracle Amy managed to get up the duff, what with the ladders and all. "Are you there? Can you hear me? OK. The Eye of Orion, or wherever we need to go..." Because it couldn't really end any other way.
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Three months later. Amy is running away from a bunch of G-men, but where has she come from? Canton is suddenly evil and the flashback doesn't explain it. Area 51! What's the point of the yellow line? False beard is totally FALSE. "I see you" The fnords are even creepier than the angels. River: BASE jumper extraordinaire. If the bricks are the densest thing in the universe, how come the scientists can move them by hand? "Nothing gets through that" Except, presumably, something that can travel in time. Evil Canton catchs Rory on a dam in Utah. "Looks aren't everything" Thematic statement? The prison/evil thing was a bluff. Who'd have guessed it? "It's not Apollo 11. That would be silly! It's Neil Armstrong's foot." Longest cold open ever.

Recap time: fnords are real; memories can be edited; they've spent the last three months tracking them; and someone really liked Memento. That's not nanotech. It's more like centitech. Telepathic connection? Still haven't learnt the lessons of Silence in the Library, have we? I guess it beats scribbling all over yourself. Nice setup of the post-hypnotic thing — very creepy. Welcome to Arkham. Amy's been raiding Dana Scully's wardrobe; it totally suits her. The administrator is fantastic: vulnerable and crazy and damaged. "There's always a bit left over, isn't there?" How much worse to be stuck in a haunted house when you're unable to remember the monsters and the only clue is frantic voice mail from yourself?

The Doctor is being held prisoner in the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre? Been there, done that, know the feeling. Nixon glad-hands. River and Rory look seriously 60s. "No I think she's just dreaming" Woman with the silver eye has got to be a foreshadow. Photo of Amy with a baby. "How can that be?" Return of astro-child and yet another lacuna. Dear fnord: you may be able to alter memories, but that doesn't make you invulnerable. "You have to tape everything that happens in the office" Oh [expletive deleted]! I knew the telepathy chips were a bad idea. Flashbulb memories: "Silence will fall" Ambiguous much?

"It's an exoskelton. Basically life support" An incubator? Bringing up baby, fnord style? The whole moon thing was just a blind to build a space suit? The fnord has never watched a Bond film. Charmingly imprecise confession of love from Amy. "Is this really important flirting?" The TV has bunny ears! Oh very clever. Matrix-style shoot out. Nixon worries about his legacy: "Dare I ask, will I be remembered?" Oh boy. "I think the moon is far enough for now, don't you Mr Delaware?" "I figured it might be..." More resignation than agreement. Alex Kingston: master of the look of barely suppressed agony. Is Amy having Schrödinger's baby? Is that's what a time-head looks like?
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I really loved Tony Palmer's Holst: In the Bleak Midwinter, a biopic of Gustav Holst that combined interviews and music to paint a portrait of the composer's life. The interviews with various knowledgeable figures were perfectly judged and the archive contributions from Imogen Holst were absolutely invaluable — as was the joyous performance of the First Suite for Military Band with an extremely cheerful Imogen conducting.

Although there were occassional musical omissions — I'm not quite sure why The Hymn of Jesus didn't make the cut — the performances were consistantly excellent. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of Holst's setting of This Have I Done for my True Love and the (new to me) setting of Psalm 88. I also liked the intriguing Beni Mora but I wasn't entirely convinced of the need to give it a soft-core backdrop!

I've always loved Holst's music. I remember the first time I heard Mars. I was seven. I loved it so much, I pursuaded my parents to buy a copy of The Planets — Karajan's 1981 recording; one of the very first CDs they bought. I was amazed to find that it wasn't just Mars, there were six other wonderful pieces just waiting to be discovered.

I also realised, long after the event, that almost all the hymns I loved singing at school were either by Holst or Vaughan Williams. I particularly remember the excitement of a school Christmas service at the local church and the music teacher playing the decending figure at the start of Personent Hodie on the organ (Clare Choir make a far better job of it than we ever did!):


Thanks to Palmer's film, knowing what I might be missing, I think I'll make an effort to track down some of the less well known bits of Holst's output.
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"This isn't as bad as it looks!" How can Amy not get Laurel and Hardy? It looks like Royal Mail now deliver across time as well as space. Why a school bus? "I've been running my whole life. Now its time for me to stop." Oooh, foreshadowing. The Doctor is 1103. And doesn't like wine: "I thought it would taste more like the gums!" Iconic shot of the astronaut standing in the water. "It's OK, I know it's you" and cut away to avoid revealing an important plot point. Cue Morgan Sheppard with a can of gas. "We do what the Doctor's friends always do: as we're told." River cracks the case.

Matt Smith is fantastic in the diner scene: the jokey opening line, the same sort of introductions as before, but everything falls flat and the Doctor doesn't know why. Alex Kingston's look of fury is great. And also scary. The Doctor is 909. The whole thing is a nice reversal of the status quo: the companions (and the viewer) are in on the spoilers and, just this once, the Doctor is the one in the dark. "Rory, is everybody cross with me for some reason?" River exposits. "Why are you in prison? Who did you kill?" Foreshadowing? "Fish fingers and custard" Great moment between the Doctor and Amy.

Cue Mark Sheppard with a glass of whiskey. "1969. Who's president?" Nixon's back! And he has tapes! "I can't trust anyone..." And we're in farce mode. The TARDIS and transfer of momentum. How does that work then? "I'm going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilise, street level maps of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammy dodgers and a fez" Did Perry Mason make it to Gallifrey? Amy sees the fnords. Nice period detail on the lavatory door. I like bathroom woman's shock/forget loop — it's funny and creepy and underlines the plot point.

"Surnames of three of America's founding fathers." "Lovely fellas. Two of them fancied me!" Heh. It's a trap? Well, duh! Someone needs to clean their medical equipment. Haven't the fnords every heard of hygiene? "I'm quite the screamer..." "What's going on here?" "Nothing! She's just a friend!" She's so not. The fnords get creepier: how can you fight someone you can't remember? Call back to River's death in Silence in the Library — it's not even a retcon. She's travelling backwards in the Doctor's timestream and she knows she's going to die of a broken heart. Dr Who: the least heteronormative show on the Beeb. Amy is pregnant, so whence River's queasiness? Thematic statement: guns are always bad.

And we're done.
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I've finally found the time to sit down and watch Paul Nurse's excellent exploration of public hostility towards science in general and climate science, AIDS and HIV, and GM crops in particular. Nurse is a fantastic presenter: enthusiastic, sympathetic, but still willing to challenge and criticise where necessary. The most impressive moments come in an interview with a climate sceptic, who Sir Paul reduces to incoherence spluttering by suggesting that the man's attitude to the concensus view of climate change is exactly like that of a cancer patient who decides to ignore the established medical opinion about his treatment in favour of treating himself with a homebrew remedy.

I'm not entirely sure I agree with some of the statements in the program, particularly those that suggest that science stands completely separate from politics. Maybe, in an ideal world, it does, but we need to accept that scientists are people and people are political — as Berlin says somewhere, politics is what happens whenever two people's views cannot be completely reconciled with each other. I definitely agree with Nurse's point that scientists need to promote their work more widely and engage with the public understanding, but I was surprised that, apart from a brief throwaway remark, he didn't argue that science should be more heavily promoted and taught in schools.

Minor quibbles aside, it was a quite superb bit of programming — a sign that there's life in the old Horizon yet. As Tim Dowling said of it in the Guardian, it's a pity it's one show and not a four year degree course.

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