So, The Time of the Doctor. Peter Capaldi is here, and thank fuck for that. I never got into Matt Smith's Doctor, and I can get into everything Peter Capaldi does. Perhaps he'll help me enjoy Doctor Who again.

But all I want right now is a fic where Ten regenerates and Spoiler ) because of vanity issues. He could do it when Martha was there, and there'd be much rejoicing on her part (because to Martha his looks did matter), or when Donna was there and she can't believe it ("You like this scrawny thing?") or when Jack was there, and he would mock the Doctor mercilessly, but then the Doctor would still get a shag out of it.
Okay, so I'm the first to admit that I've fallen out of love with Doctor Who. I still watch it, but it's on a rather meh basis.

But: I did watch The Day of the Doctor (and am meh about it):

a) I, um, didn't understand the central conflict: I mean the reason why the Doctor in the time window between Eight and Nine did what he did was because he wanted to annihilate the Daleks and put an end to the war and the killing once and for all, right?

But Ten and Eleven knew that the Daleks would be back at least once per season. So... why not mention it casually at some point? Did it not occur to anyone that this might be an argument worth considering under the circumstances? Certainly a better argument than having Rose and Clara* whine wide-eyededly to think about the children.

b) I miss David Tennant. He was so hawt as the Doctor, it's unreal. I never knew how much I missed him until I watched him being delightful in Day of the Doctor. Shame one of his seasons was wasted on him being unbearable with Rose and another on him being horrible to Martha. I will have to rewatch the Catherine Tate series, she was a good companion.

c) I am looking forward to Peter Capaldi. I never realised how little I care about Matt Smith's Doctor until I saw him in company with the others. I hope Peter Capaldi will bring back some of my old love for the Doctor, he's usually very good at making me love him in anything he does. He's very talented like that.

*I don't see the point of Clara. I know many people like her, but she's so... wide-eyed and cute. And good with children. And... that's it. Once upon a time, her special skill was "being good with computers", but that hasn't been mentioned lately.
I'm currently reading The Three Musketeers. It's a re-read - I read it at some point as a child in my adventure-novel phase, and then re-read it every five-six years or so. I initially had a massive crush on Aramis, but then Athos became my favourite. He's so delightfully cynical, level-headed and drunk.

But. I'm reading it now through a completely different filter. I can't stand the four leads, they are awful human beings. Well, Aramis seems kinda okay, I think he's actually the only one who treats other people with respect, even his mistresses. Especially his mistresses.

And there's the upcoming BBC adaptation, which I am tentatively looking forward to. Tom Burke plays Athos, and I like Tom Burke, and there's Peter Capaldi, who is always excellent value. But at the same time, I can't help worrying that it's just another, slightly darker (they wear leather!) spin on the fannish interpretation of the source - i.e. three cheeky chappies who spout one-liners whilst beating up mooks, the bumbling village idiot d'Artagnan, the uber-evil Cardinal Richelieu, the star-crossed lovers King & Queen of France, and of course the evilest of all evil demons, Milady de Winter.

Whereas, in the novel, the musketeers are very much reprehensible human beings:

Athos has trained his valet not to talk, and if he does talk, he thrashes him mercilessly, albeit dispassionately. And, at the age of 25, he'd hanged his 16-year old (!) wife after discovering the fleur-de-lys brand on her shoulder, because obviously she must have been EVIL.

Porthos expects his mistress to finance his musketeering equipment and he feels absolutely justified to steal the money from her bed-ridden husband. When she's reluctant to do so, he goes off in a sulk.

d'Artagnan tricks a woman into sleeping with him by pretending to be someone else, and is justified in doing so, because the woman in question is Milady, and she's evil. Really, she is. Oh, and he "seduces" her maid (who is very reluctant, but unable to fight him) to get into Milady's knickers.

Aramis is kinda okay, I've got to admit. He seems to treat the various women he's involved with like human beings, he doesn't beat his valet and he's only moderately violent.

All four of them think nothing of taking human life, of course, and cheerfully kill people in duels as well as in battle.

The author stresses all throughout the novel that we mustn't judge men of that period by modern standards, which would be absolutely fine with me if Milady got the same treatment. But she is treated by the protagonists and the authorial voice as the hellish demon from hell who must be destroyed at all cost. I am actually totally rooting for Milady. She has done nothing on the pages of the book that is in any way worse than what the heroes have done. She lies, tricks and is ambitious and avaricious, but so are they. Plus, the men feel entitled to lie; in several instances, they cheat lower-class people such as inn hosts by claiming self-righteously that they are "gentlemen" and nobody must ever doubt the word of a gentleman.

I would be much less annoyed if the various adaptations did the source justice and presented the musketeers as morally ambivalent, as the liars, cheats and killers that they are, and did not make the Cardinal the big bad. His relationship with the musketeers is much more complex than that.

I would absolutely love it if there were an adaptation that treats Milady fairly in a way that the source did not. But seeing as there doesn't even seem to be any Milady-centric fanfic that does that, I will hope in vain.

There actually is a Russian adaptation that I watched as a child and that left a huge impression: the scene where Milady strangles Constance (who is married in the book and commits adultery) was pretty nightmarish.

Any thoughts, anyone? It's one of the stories that everyone in the Western world is familiar with, but I think the way we perceive the characters is very much influenced by the (Hollywood) adaptations, not so much by the novel itself.
Has anyone ever read Jules Verne? When I was about 10 years old, I discovered In Search of the Castaways and The Mysterious Island, and they became two of the most beloved re-reads of my childhood. Oh, the adventures I had!

Now, more than 20 years later, I am refreshing my acquaintance with the Castaways. And lo and behold! I'm still crushing on Major McNabbs like crazy.

When I started the re-read, I vaguely remembered that he used to be my favourite character, but I didn't remember why. And then the character is introduced:

To complete the roll of passengers, we must name Major McNabbs. The Major was about fifty years of age, with a calm face and regular features - a man who did whatever he was told, of an excellent, indeed, a perfect temper; modest, silent, peaceable, and amiable, agreeing with everybody on every subject, never discussing, never disputing, never getting angry.
He wouldn't move a step quicker, or slower, whether he walked upstairs to bed or mounted a breach. Nothing could excite him, nothing could disturb him, not even a cannon ball, and no doubt he will die without ever having known even a passing feeling of irritation.

This man was endowed in an eminent degree, not only with ordinary animal courage, that physical bravery of the battle-field, which is solely due to muscular energy, but he had what is far nobler - moral courage, firmness of soul. If he had any fault it was his being so intensely Scotch from top to toe, a Caledonian of the Caledonians, an obstinate stickler for all the ancient customs of his country. This was the reason he would never serve in England, and he gained his rank of Major in the 42nd regiment, the Highland Black Watch, composed entirely of Scotch noblemen.

Really? I thought. A man who agrees with everybody, never disputing? I used to like that? I must have been very young.

And then the story unfolds, and the Major is fabulous. He's got a sense of humour! He's snarky! He's perfectly in control - of himself and of the situation! He is teh smart! <3

There's something quite Remus-y about him, actually; he's non-confrontational - never argues etc. - and yet he springs into action, level-headedly and efficiently, whenever necessary.

Plus, he's Scottish. And, as I have recently realised, I like Scots

And OMG, he should totally be played by Peter Capaldi!
The two items in the subject line are unrelated. But: I've finally watched HBP and have remained quite unimpressed. So unimpressed, in fact, that all I've got to say doesn't even merit a spoiler cut: Tom Felton looked as though he came from a different - and much better - film, which would have been much more interesting to watch. The rest? A random sequence of scenes that didn't make much sense to anyone who hasn't read the books* and that the film makers apparently wanted to see on screen.

I have also watched "Torchwood - Children of Earth" and was rather more impressed. So this is what Torchwood could have been like from the very start, had they focused on thrill and drama rather than on fooling around with silly CGI monsters and innuendo in every other episode. Also, I crushed mightily on John Frobisher from start to finish, and since I already crushed on the actor in "In the Loop", I've got to seriously wonder where my weird Scots fetish comes from: David Tennant, James McAvoy, Ewan McGregor are all a given, and now there's also Peter Capaldi; and of course the ladies: Michelle Gomez, the ever-fabulous Kelly Macdonald, and, as I've recently watched "This Life", the just as fabulous Daniela Nardini. It's not primarily the accent, because I was indifferent to the Scottish accent until I started to realise that, whenever a Scot is part of the cast, he or she soon becomes my favourite character. Hmm...

*I saw the film with a friend who read the book when it was released, but she's so not a fan that she didn't even remember who the Half-Blood Prince was, so she served as my point of reference.



September 2014



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