Peter Kay

Doctor Who (2005) s02e10 – Love & Monsters

It’s a not bad concept episode (written by Russell T. Davies, which seems weird but whatever) about a regular bloke (Marc Warren) who records a video diary on his digital camcorder to upload at 160×120 to his FTP server to share his story about the Doctor. I mean, it’s a YouTube doc before anyone knew there’d be YouTube docs. At least Davies knew where the format was going.

And once it’s clear the Doctor (David Tennant) isn’t showing up as a principal, the episode’s fine. It’s always amusing—Davies goes for more smiles than laughs and the episode’s mostly well-cast so the cast quickly endears.

When Warren was a kid he saw the Doctor in his house. As an adult, he lives through the alien invasions of the last two seasons and joins a group of other alien enthusiasts and they soon get talking about the Doctor. Eventually, they become a family, which is great until a government agent (Peter Kay) takes over their group and sets them about Doctor-hunting.

If Kay were good, it’d be great. Instead, he’s not, and it’s a not bad concept episode. It’s zany. There’s not a lot of Tennant and Billie Piper, as they’re guest stars in Warren’s life, but when they show up it’s fun and funny. Slapstick. There’s slapstick. The slapstick’s really cute.

The plot eventually involves Warren stalking Piper through Camille Coduri and an attempted seduction scene as we get to see what life’s like for Coduri when Piper’s not around. Also Mickey’s not around, which is another sadness for Coduri. It’s… the best Coduri’s been in a while. There are asterisks, but more relating to Davies’s writing and Dan Zeff’s direction.

Zeff’s okay. Better than a lot of “Who” directors without being one of the good lot.

Shirley Henderson plays the girl in the group who Warren’s crushing on. It’s a not exactly a cameo but kind of like an extended one. Maybe she’s a “Who” fan?

It’s cute, at least until the punchline, which is incredibly problematic if you give it much thought.

The Trollenberg Terror (1958, Quentin Lawrence)

The importance of the director, in cinema, used to be a topic of discussion for me. It hasn’t been lately, because it’s hard to find good examples of well-scripted, well-acted, but terribly directed motion pictures. Thank goodness for The Trollenberg Terror and Quentin Lawrence. Lawrence might be the most boring bad director I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t have a single moment of inventiveness, good or bad, in Trollenberg and it’s astounding the film actually achieves moments of suspense. It only achieves one–in the last fifteen minutes–but still… it’s unexpected.

Trollenberg‘s script–from Hammer hack Jimmy Sangster–isn’t terrible. Sangster was adapting a television serial, so there’s a lot of content and potential (the serial is, unfortunately, unavailable). The film’s setting–a mysteriously terrorized mountain resort–is fantastic, so Sangster (and even Lawrence to a point) don’t have to do much work. The cast is mostly solid, with the principles selling their characters.

I’m not sure if Forrest Tucker is a good actor or gives a good performance, but it’s an authoritative one and that aspect makes it work. Laurence Payne is a likable reporter. Jennifer Jayne and Janet Munro are solid damsels in distress, though the pairing off of them with Tucker and Payne, respectively, is absurd.

Even Warren Mitchell is all right and he’s got an absurd accent to go with his unbelievably knowledgeable scientist (he hypnotizes as well as studies geology and cosmic radiation).

The Trollenberg Terror deserved a far better director (and budget).

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Quentin Lawrence; screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, based on the television serial written by Peter Key; director of photography, Monty Berman; edited by Henry Richardson; music by Stanley Black; produced by Robert S. Baker and Berman; released by Eros Films.

Starring Forrest Tucker (Alan Brooks), Laurence Payne (Philip Truscott), Jennifer Jayne (Sarah Pilgrim), Janet Munro (Anne Pilgrim), Warren Mitchell (Prof. Crevett), Frederick Schiller (Mayor Klein), Andrew Faulds (Brett), Stuart Saunders (Dewhurst), Colin Douglas (Hans) and Derek Sydney (Wilde).


Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, Nick Park and Steve Box)

So how does Nick Park do feature-length? He does really good.

The Wallace and Gromit adventures are always good (is there one that’s less than the rest, I think so, but can’t remember which one), so I wasn’t worried about The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in that way. Maybe I wasn’t worried about Were-Rabbit at all. I suppose, during the endless previews for shitty “family” movies, there was a tingling of possible badness, but it went away during the the opening credits of Were-Rabbit.

Wallace and Gromit are audience proprietary… people show you the Wallace and Gromit movies. When you meet another person who loves them, you sort of nod. There’s no secret handshake, but it’s implied. I suppose that’s the worst worry of Were-Rabbit, that it would somehow fail and Wallace and Gromit would then fail. Nick Park’s done an amazing thing–he’s managed never to disappoint and Park’s got a really varied audience.

I don’t know, necessarily, that I want another Wallace and Gromit feature, though. I want the same methods in making it applied to short films, just so we get more stories. Still, it’s amazing how much Park got away with–he assumes the audience has a real familiarity with the characters, something you probably aren’t supposed to do with films of this nature, something I’m sure DreamWorks had went into a fit about (they also wanted to replace Wallace’s voice).

I don’t really know what else to say about it.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Nick Park and Steve Box; written by Box, Park, Mark Burton and Bob Baker; directors of photography, Dave Alex Riddett and Tristan Oliver; edited by David McCormick and Gregory Perler; music by Julian Nott; produced by Claire Jennings, Carla Shelley, Peter Lord, David Sproxton and Park; released by DreamWorks Animation.

Starring Peter Sallis (Wallace), Ralph Fiennes (Victor Quartermaine), Helena Bonham Carter (Lady Campanula Tottington), Peter Kay (P.C. Mackintosh), Nicholas Smith (the Rev. Clement Hedges) and Liz Smith (Mrs. Mulch).


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