The Legend of Zelda - Chronicles of Time (Article)

The Legend of Zelda games have one of the most confusing timelines in video game history - if they even have one at all. Nintendo haven't given us one, and the best they've given us Miyamoto saying that Ocarina of Time is at the very beginning of it all. Besides that, there's not a whole lot to go on. Some games are definately sequels to others - Majora's Mask is a sqeuel to Ocarina, for example, or Phantom Hourglass comes right after Wind Waker. Coupled together with some theories from Zelda Legends, I came up with my own timeline. Even if it's completely different from what you think, it's an interesting read.

Note that this was written before Phantom Hourglass came out, so there's no mention of it, Twilight Princess or the forthcoming (at time of writing) Spirit Tracks. Placing them into the timeline isn't too difficult though - PH goes right after WW, Spirit Tracks can (temporarily) go after PH, and TP can fit in several places, but I'm gonna go with between the Minish Cap and Wind Waker.

Remember - this is merely my personal opinion, and is in no way conclusive. If Nintendo decide to give out a timeline and it's totally different then mine, I'll concede to their wisdom (it is their franchise, after all), but until they do, this is the order I'll play the games in if (or, indeed, when) I decide to do so again.

According to legend, at the beginning of time the golden goddesses Din, Nayru and Farore create the world of Hyrule and all the life forms in it. Before departing for the heavens, they leave behind their gift to the world: the Triforce, three golden triangles that can grant their holder's greatest wish. A Golden Land begins to flourish around the Triforce's hiding-place, and the Triforce beckons to people from the outside world, in hopes of finding somebody worthy of its power.

The Hylia, the chosen people of the goddesses, settle in various parts of the world, passing on their knowledge and magical lore to many people. 1000 years after the goddesses visit, the kingdom of Hyrule is founded in the small land south of Death Mountain. The Triforce is possibly used by these ancient people.

Over time, great sages, including Rauru, the Sage of Light, realize that the Triforce poses a hazard if it falls into the wrong hands. They hide the Triforce in the Golden Land, and seal the entrance. The Triforce now rests in the Temple of Light in the middle of the Sacred Realm, and the entrance to the Sacred Realm is sealed by the Master Sword, which rests in the Temple of Time in the kingdom of Hyrule. After this has been done, the sages begin compiling the Book of Mudora, which chronicles all the legends and myths in Hyrule. It is finally completed almost 1000 years later.

By this time, after being so preoccupied with the Book of Mundora, not even the Sages know where the Triforce is hidden. Lust for the Triforce's power is strong, and the people of Hyrule, suspicious that one group or another is hiding the Triforce, attack each other. Hyrule is engulfed by a fierce civil war.

The very first Link and Zelda are born in Hyrule. To escape the fires of the war, Link's mother takes him to the forbidden forest, where she dies from injuries sustained while fleeing. Following her dying wish, the Great Deku Tree takes him in, and he is raised a Kokiri.

After many years, the King of Hyrule manages to cease the fighting, and a time of peace takes effect as the King attempts to unite Hyrule. Ganondorf, the King of the Gerudo thieves, secretly continues to search for the Triforce.

Events of Ocarina of Time - Link, now a young boy, leaves the Kokiri Forest on a quest to stop Ganondorf's plot to enter the Sacred Realm. Link opens the entrance to the Sacred Realm by drawing the Master Sword, but his spirit is sealed away for seven years until he is old enough to be the Hero of Time. Meanwhile, Ganondorf and his band of thieves enter the Sacred Realm. Ganondorf gains the Triforce of Power, and uses it to become Mandrag Ganon, King of the Enchanted Thieves. The Triforce of Wisdom goes to Princess Zelda, and the Triforce of Courage goes to Link. As Ganon builds his power, Hyrule is consumed by a great darkness.

While Link sleeps, Ganon takes the opportunity to conquer Hyrule and set himself up as the Evil King of Hyrule. Upon awakening seven years later, Link claims his birthright as the Hero of Time. Freeing the Sages, he defeats Ganondorf. Ganondorf transforms into Ganon, but Link holds Ganon off long enough for the Sages to seal him in the Sacred Realm. Zelda sends Link back in time, hoping to alter the timeline and prevent Ganondorf's rule.

Having travelled back to the point where he first meets Zelda, Link warns her of Ganon's intentions and successfully prevents him from entering the Sacred Realm and gaining the Triforce. Having saved Hyrule, Link departs to find his beloved friend Navi, taking the Triforce of Courage with him and leaving the Triforce of Wisdom with Zelda. When he leaves Hyrule however, the Triforce of Courage splits apart and is scattered all over Hyrule. It is hidden carefully away in numerous treasure chests.

Events of Majora's Mask - In the midst of his journey, Link encounters a skull-mask wearing child, and after losing his Ocarina to the child, chases him into the parallel world of Termina. He discovers that the moon is going to crash into the world in three days time, but after recovering the Ocarina of Time, Link finds that he can jump back to the point of time when he first appeared in Termina. Using this ability, he saves Termina from the moon and from the power of Majora's Mask, the entity that the child who stole his Ocarina was wearing. After this, Link continues on his search for Navi.

While Link is away, the King of Hyrule orders the tainted Golden Land sealed, but Ganon's army attacks the castle. As the Knights defend the Sages from Ganon's monsters, the Seven Sages seal Ganon inside the Golden Land. This battle comes to be known as the Imprisoning War in later centuries.

During this new period of peace, another great evil by the name of Vaati besieged the land of Hyrule. Vaati could bend the wind to his will and used this to kidnap any beautiful girls who caught his fancy. Many knights from the castle and other brave men set out to subdue the sorcerer and rescue the girls, but each one fell in turn to Vaati's awesome power. Just when all hope was lost, a lone young boy, travelling with little but a sword at his side, given to him by the mystical race called the Picori, appeared and mystically trapped the evil sorcerer inside the blade of his sword. The people were so grateful to the young boy and the Picori who empowered him that they began to hold a great festival in their honour once a year. However, as time passed, the Picori soon became nothing more then a legend.

Events of Four Swords Adventures - Hundereds of years later, the current Princess Zelda of Hyrule, along with her great companion Link, were out playing in the woods when they stumbled upon a holy shrine. Inside they found the sword which contained Vaati and, not knowing the danger of their actions, released him. Vaati, enraged at being caged for so long, kidnapped the Princess and sealed Link inside the shrine. A mysterious voice appeared and prompted Link to take hold of the sword. Upon doing so, his body shattered into four pieces, each forming a complete copy of him. With this, the four Links reopened the shrine and rescued Princess Zelda, defeating Vaati once again. Once the task was completed, the four Links returned to one, and he replaced the sword in the shrine.

Events of The Minish Cap - Several years passed, and the time came for the yearly celebration of the Picori. This year, however, was different, for it was rumored that 'just once in every one hundred years, a secret door opens and the Picori come to visit', and this was the hundred year celebration. To commemorate the occasion, a sword-fighting tournament was held, and the champion was a man who used the name of Vaati, believing it to empower him after Zelda's ordeal. Although he defeats his challengers with ease, not a single person knows the shadowy figure. As Link races to deliver Vaati with with his prize - a sword - Vaati casts a vast spell upon the castle and turns everyone within to stone.

Somehow, Link avoids sharing this fate, and vows to restore Princess Zelda and the others to normal. Revisiting the shrine to reclaim the mysterious sword, he also meets a talking hat by the name of Ezlo. Ezlo grants Link the power to shrink in size, which allows Link to meet the Picori, where he discovers that Vaati is in fact a wayward Picori. Using this knowledge, Link is able to defeat Vaati and restore the castle to normal.

Hundreds of years pass, and Ganon's power is returned to him. He kills the descendants of the seven sages, allowing him to escape from the Dark World back into Hyrule. He covers Hyrule with darkness, and kills the sages who were giving the Master Sword its power. Ganon builds a tower and an army in preparation to take over Hyrule. The people wait for the Hero of Time to return, but he never does.

Ganon's army attacks Hyrule Castle. In their last desperate hour, the people of Hyrule pray to the gods. The gods decide to bury Hyrule under torrential rains. The people of Hyrule are ordered to take refuge on mountaintops. The Master Sword forms a seal freezing Hyrule in time, and keeping Ganon's power sealed away. Hyrule, along with the doorway to the Picori, is buried at the bottom of the ocean, and life begins anew on islands formed from Hyrule's mountaintops. A piece of the Triforce of Wisdom is given to the descendants of the Royal Family, and they are charged with guarding it. The King remains below, waiting for a day when Hyrule can be revived, charged with finding a hero in case Ganon is revived.

On Outset Island, Link, a boy unrelated to the Hero of Time is born. A girl is also born to a great female pirate captain, and is named Tetra. 10 years later, Ganon is revived once again, and is able to make a portal leading to the surface world. Taking over the Forsaken Fortress, he sends his servants over the ocean in search of the missing pieces of the Triforce.

Events of The Wind Waker - Link celebrates his coming-of-age, but his younger sister Aryll is kidnapped by one of Ganondorf's servants, confusing her for Tetra. Asking for help from Tetra's pirates, Link tries to invade the Forsaken Fortress, but is thrown from the tower. A mysterious boat rescues him, and leads him on a quest to get the Master Sword, the only blade that can defeat Ganon. After collecting three pearls, and passing the test of the gods, a portal appears, leading to the frozen world of Hyrule beneath the waves. Link takes the Master Sword from Hyrule Castle, but this releases the seal, unfreezing Hyrule and releasing Ganon's full power. Link saves his sister with the help of the pirates, but the Master Sword has no effect on Ganondorf. Tetra, the young female captain of the pirates, and Link are rescued and taken to Hyrule. There, the King of Hyrule reveals that Tetra is actually Princess Zelda, and gives her the rest of the Triforce of Wisdom. The King was the guiding force behind the boat. He leads Link on a quest to return the power of evil's bane to the Master Sword, and to find the hidden Triforce of Courage shards.

Armed with these weapons, Link arrives back in Hyrule to discover that Zelda has been kidnapped. Breaking Ganon's barrier around Hyrule Castle, he climbs Ganon's Tower. At the top, Ganondorf is able to steal the other two pieces of the Triforce from Link and Zelda. But before he can touch the united Triforce, the King touches it and wishes for Hyrule to be buried under the waves for good. Link and Zelda defeat Ganondorf, turning him to stone when Link sticks the Master Sword in his head. But Hyrule is buried under water, and Link and Tetra must now find a new land to call Hyrule.

All does not end well, however. After a great deal of time, Ganon is revived. Since the Triforce was buried with Hyrule, Ganon finds all the pieces and claims them for himself. But he is sealed away in the Dark World when seven new sages are found. Several years after a new Link and Zelda are born, many disasters suddenly plague the new Hyrule.

Events of A Link To The Past - Agahnim appears in Hyrule, stops the disasters, and is made one of the King's top advisers. He secretly overthrows the King, and begins sending the descendants of the Sages into the Dark World, in a plot to free Ganon. Zelda contacts Link, the Legendary Hero, telepathically. Link fights Agahnim, but Agahnim is able to break the Seven Sages' Seal. Link goes on to save all of the maidens from the Dark World. He completely destroys Ganon, and claims the united Triforce. Link uses the Triforce to do much good.

Events of Link's Awakening - The people of Hyrule fear what evils may arise from Ganon's ashes. Ever diligent, Link leaves on a journey of enlightenment, that he might better protect Hyrule. After several months, Link's journey now complete, he begins sailing back to Hyrule. However, a sudden squall destroys his ship, and Link drifts to the island of Koholint. There he defeats Nightmares to gather together eight Instruments and wake the Wind Fish. Koholint Island disappears, and Link is left once again with the flotsam of his ship. He drifts back to Hyrule, and the united Triforce is placed in the Hyrule Castle. As it rests, it watches over Hyrule.

Centuries later, Twinrova masterminds a plot to revive Ganon. By sending Onox to Holodrum and Veran to Labrynna, she plans to light the three flames of Sorrow, Destruction, and Despair. This would bring Ganon's spirit back from the beyond, and then Princess Zelda's body would be used to revive Ganon.

Events of Oracle Of Sages and Oracle Of Ages - The Triforce sends the generation's Link on a mission to Holodrum. There, Link is able to defeat Onox, saving Din, the Oracle of Seasons, but nonetheless the Flame of Destruction is lit. After the Triforce sends Link to Labrynna, he prevents Veran from destroying the land, but cannot prevent the Flames of Sorrow and Despair from being lit. Princess Zelda travels alone to Labrynna to help Link. Twinrova kidnaps her, planning to use her pure body to revive Ganon. Link rescues Zelda by defeating Twinrova, but Twinrova sacrifices herself to revive the Evil King. Link defeats Ganon, but Ganon is not banished from the world. After Ganon's defeat, the King of Hyrule uses the Triforce to keep the peace and unite Hyrule.

Before he dies, he hides the Triforce of Courage, and seals it away with a complex magical key. After his death, his son inherits only part of the Triforce. An evil wizard, working with the prince, puts the prince's younger sister, named Zelda, to sleep for refusing to tell them where the rest of the Triforce is. The wizard dies casting this spell, and nobody can wake up Zelda. The prince decrees that every princess in the royal line from then on shall be named Zelda, so this tragedy would not be forgotten.

Many years pass, and Ganon's ashes wake up from their slumber. The world is thrown into an Age of Chaos. Ganon sets himself up as Prince of Darkness, and begins building an army of monsters. At this time, a new Link and Zelda are born.

Events of The Legend Of Zelda - Ganon's army invades Hyrule and steals the Triforce of Power. The current Zelda splits the Triforce of Wisdom and hides the pieces in eight Underworld labyrinths, and Ganon kidnaps her. Impa, Zelda's nursemaid, is sent to find a brave man to fight Ganon. She is almost captured by Ganon's henchmen, but Link saves the day. Link travels through eight underworld labyrinths to reunite the Triforce of Wisdom. Entering Death Mountain and finding the Silver Arrows, he defeats Ganon and takes the Triforce of Power from his ashes.

Events of The Adventure Of Link - Though Link defeated Ganon, Hyrule does not have peace. Ganon's monsters roam the land, and Ganon's ashes can be revived if Link is sacrificed, and his blood sprinkled on the ashes. Link approaches his 16th birthday, and one day the Triforce symbol appears on his hand. Concerned, he goes to see Impa, who tells him about the ancient Princess Zelda, who is still under the sleeping spell. Link recovers the Triforce of Courage from the Great Palace in the Valley of Death, and with the united Triforce awakens Zelda from her ancient sleeping spell, finally bringing peace to Hyrule.

So that's Ocarina Of Time, Majora's Mask, Four Swords (All incarnations), The Minish Cap, Twilight Princess, The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, A Link To The Past, Link's Awakening, Oracle Of Sages, Oracle Of Ages, The (original) Legend Of Zelda and Link's Adventure if you want to give it a play. Have fun, and if possible play the Neverwinter Nights versions of the last two - it's a bit more fun and a LOT prettier. The Legend Of Zelda and Link's Adventure. Note that the latter is not yet finished, but probably will be by the time you finish all the others! Also, if you decide to play, you'll probably want this character, and don't forget to check out the notes at the bottom of the page. Thanks to Neverwinter Vault (not linked - it's already got three of the damn things) for those files, and trust me - they're great fun! Also, if you finish every single game and still want more, check out Zelda Classic for another remake of the original Zelda with support for hundereds of fan quests...

Babes, Bullets, Bombs (Article)

Having gone through my old back-up discs (again), I found my old website, which I'd presumably backed up for prestige or something. One of the features of this site was a Bond Week where I basically posted a different article relating to the Bond series on each weekday. This was one of them.

This is actually a rewrite of the original version of the article, because the original was literally three paragraphs. When I remade the site, I also redid the some of the articles, in order to improve their quality. This is probably the one that benefited the most from this. It was (re)written in 2004, before the Casino Royale film was announced, which explains why Vesper Lynd isn't mentioned.

Ever since Ursula Andress emerged from the sea in the Dr No, the Bond Women have played a major role in Bond films. Along there with the gadgets and the locations, the women are another one of those elements that you have to come expect from a Bond film.

Starting with the very first Bond Girl, Honey Ryder set the standard for the girls who would follow in her footsteps. Despite having her voice dubbed for the film, Ursula Andress made such a striking appearance in Dr No that she not only became an international start but also sent bikini sales soaring after her 'emergence from the sea'. The truth behind the shot was that Ursula had gashed her knee badly on some coral just prior to the shoot and her knee had become badly swollen. Thankfully the film-makers were able to cover the injuries with make up, allowing the scene to go ahead.

Moving on to From Russia With Love, the innocent and naive Tatiana Romanova is played beautifully by Daniela Bianchi, who was a novice actress and former Miss Rome. In a role which required a huge amount of passion, her performance is sincere and totally credible and she remains one of the more memorable of the Bond Women. Although she was actress of the moment, she surprisingly retired from acting only a few years after her success in the film, although she did appear in the Bond spoof Operation Kid Brother. During filming, Daniela was injured in a car crash on the way to the set. Sean Connery, in a car immediately behind her, dragged her from the wreckage. Her face was badly swollen and she was unable to film for two weeks, but her performance on-screen made the wait worthwhile.

Pussy Galore does not appear until well into the story, however the audience's introduction to her is memorable and sets the scene for a wonderful performance by former Avengers star Honor Blackman. Although the lesbian tendancies of Goldfinger's novel were only insinuated in the film version, Blackman plays the role with such passion that it seems much more then that. The mature presence of Blackman (37 at the time of filming, making her the oldest Bond Girl) added immeasurably to ensuring that Pussy Galore became one of the most memorable of all 007's lovers. Additionally, the name became part of the international lexicon and remains so today.

Dominique, or 'Domino' to her friends, is a beautiful, but somewhat morose young woman who serves as the primary Bond Girl for Thunderball, although she does prove herself invaluable by personally killing Largo, the film's villain and her 'jailer'. Claudine Auger, a former Miss France, was an inspired choice for the role of Domino, one of the more complex of the 007 heroines. Auger was not only a stunning beauty, but she satisfactorily conveyed the inner sadness of a pampered, but unloved, young woman caught in a seemingly inescapable web of deceit and danger. Like several other Bond actresses from the earlier films, Auger was dubbed for the final cut.

You Only Live Twice provided audiences with the first 'real' death of a Bond Girl - although several had perished during the course of Goldfinger, the audience barely had time to notice Bond had conquered them before they died. That changed with Aki, who was a 'New Generation' Japanese Secret Service agent. Akiko Wakabayashi played the role with infectious charm, and when she dies it's a genuine shock to the audience, who have grown to like the courageous and resouceful young woman. Interestingly, Akiko was to play the role of Kissy Suzuki, before the director became convinced she was more suitable for the role of Aki. Kissy, unlike Aki, refuses to bed 007 while the mission is in progress - an act which seems all the more strange when the pair are supposed to be on their honeymoon - but is eager to succumb to Bond's charms once the film is over. Mie Hama plays the role of Kissy with considerable charm and the fact that she appears primarily in a bikini provided the publicity department with ample opportunity to capitalize on her stunning figure. Of note is the fact that the name of the character is not mentioned once throughout the entire film.

The enchanting Diana Rigg gave a performance in On Her Majesty's Secret Service which completely silenced those who had criticized the Bond films for having 'bimbos' as conquests. The character of Tracy Di Vicenzo is wonderfully written, drawing almost completely from Ian Fleming's novel and allowing Bond to become involved with an interesting, three-dimensional woman who is intelligent, courageous and humorous. Given her previous experience on The Avengers, Diana truly makes the part her own and it's difficult to imagine anyone else in the part. Tracy is a truly complex character, alternating between a suicidal, love-starved spoiled rich girl and a daring, vivacious adventurer. For once, Bond has truly met his equal in every way imaginable, and the love scenes between the two are moving, adding huge emotional impact to the daring, down-beat climax.

Diamonds Are Forever provides the series with one of the worst examples of Bond Girls, and the character of Tiffany Case helped create the unjustified impression that Bond women's IQs measured less then their bra sizes. When Bond first meets Tiffany, she is hard-edged and intriguing, as befitting a professional smuggler. Unfortunately, this aspect of her personality disappears later in the film, when she becomes naive and easily manipulated by Bond and others. It's difficult to fault Jill St John's performance, as she is playing the role as written. To her credit, she still maintains periodic moments of sensuality. Yet Tiffany Case (named after the diamond store where her unwed mother game birth to her) is a weak leading lady when compared to her predecessors, and her exaggerated ineptitude makes it difficult to accept her as a worthy adversary or lover for James Bond.

A new Bond meant a new direction for the next Bond girl. Like her mother before her, the beautiful and virginal Solitaire is treated like a personal possession. Her unique ability to use tarot cards to predict the future makes her a valuable asset, and one who is largely kept against her will. Although seduced by Bond, a genuine affection builds between the couple, which is largely due to the abilities of the two actors. Jane Seymour made her big screen debut with Live And Let Die and acquits herself admirably, although her talents are somewhat diluted by the script, which makes Solitaire appear to be little more then a glorified Lois Lane. She is the typical helpless female who excels only in getting captured and making the hero risk life and limb to rescue her, although it is to Seymour's credit that the audience doesn't seem to notice this as much as it should.

Regretably, The Man With the Golden Gun focuses on the wrong woman. Of the two women in the film whom Bond seduces, it's Andrea Anders who becomes the sacrificial lamb, something which really should have gone to the other lady in the limelight, Mary Goodnight. The character of Anders is an intriguing and realistic presence in an otherwise outlandish film. The haunted mistress of the film's villain, Anders in willing to risk her life to escape his clutches. Maud Adams gives a strong performance as the tragic woman, bringing a real sense of conviction, not to mention fear, to the role. By comparison, Mary Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland, is portrayed as someone so inept that she makes Inspector Clouseau seem like Sherlock Holmes. The running joke in the film is that Mary's romantic encounters with 007 are never consummated due to various encounters. Britt Eckland performs gamely, but no actress could bring dignity to the role. Interestingly, Maud Adams has the distinction of being the only actress to date to play major characters in 2 Bond films - she also played the title role in Octopussy.

The impact made by Barbara Bach's stunning visual performance as Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me makes the audience forget her rather shaky Russian accent. Despite having the traditional trappings of the buxom Bond woman, Anya is indeed a new breed of heroine for the series. She is 007's equal in terms of intellect, courage and delf-sufficiency. Given all her attributes, it's no wonder Bond is virtually a one-woman man during the course of the entire mission. The powerful emotion she portrays when she is informed of her lovers demise, and the horrid realisation that it was Bond, to whom she has become close, who killed him, remains testament to the almost-perfect portrayal Bach gives. She remains to this day one of the most beautiful women to ever grace a Bond film.

Bond is spoilt for choice in Moonraker, although only one of his conquests make much of an impact. The character of Corinne Dufour, played with understated charm by French actress Corinne Clery, Corinne is personal assistant/pilot for the main villain. 007 seduces the beautiful girl and persuades her to allow him to photograph secret papers. For her betrayal, she pays a terrible price - a pack of Dobermans are unleashed on her and she is torn to shreds (out of view, thankfully) in a truly harrowing and suspenseful sequence. Although she has little screen time, Corinne makes a substantial impact of audiences, leaving them reeling when she dies. Manuela, the field agent assigned to Rio and assigned to work with Bond, makes it clear from the start that she mixes business with pleasure and, after becoming romantic with Bond almost immediately upon his arrival, the pair investigate a warehouse, during which Manuela - who is obviously more skilled in the boudoir then in the field - barely puts up a token resistance and has to be rescued by Bond. The character makes little impact on audiences and seems to hark back to a time when Bond's women were little more then living dolls. Finally, the main conquest of the film, Dr Holly Goodhead, is intelligently written and Lois Chiles is most satisfactory in the part. Although, refreshingly, it is she who initially treats 007 as a one-night stand, the character is bland and remains one of the least memorable of Bond's on-screen lovers.

For Your Eyes Only starts with a wonderfully shot scene in which Bond pays respects to his late wife from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, an intriguing start to a film which has one of the most fascinating women in a Bond film yet. Melina Havelock, played beautifully by French actress Carole Bouquet, impresses Bond when they first meet by being a strong-willed, courageous woman who is not hesitant about using her proficiency with a crossbow to eliminate her enemies and she plays a vital role in the destruction of the film's villain. Carole plays Melina with genuine conviction, making her character a haunted woman with a mission of vengeance. She and Bond don't even share a romantic moment until the last sequence of the film - an unusual situation for 007, but a scenario that makes the plot much more convincing.

Returning for her second Bond film, Maud Adams plays the title role of Octopussy, one of the best films of Roger Moore's career. Octopussy is already familiar with Bond, having allowed her father to commit suicide rather then face the scandal of a high-profile court martial on charges of theft and murder, and the two become closer still as the film progresses, eventually becoming lovers about halfway through the film. She also demonstrates considerable skill when dealing with the villans of the film, matching them every step of the way. Maud is one of the most accomplished actresses to appear in a Bond film, and exudes considerable chemistry with Moore. With this role, she ensures her status as one of the most memorable of Bond's ladies.

Although A View To A Kill has some very strong characters, Stacey Sutton is not one of them. On the few occasions when Tanya Roberts isn't screaming for help or being chased, her deliverance of lines elicit more laughs then credibility. Despite her stunning screen presence, Tanya can't bring much to the role. Much more effective is Grace Jones in the role of May Day. A humourless but highly sexual woman who relishes dressing in outlandish clothing, she possesses extraordinary strength and is more then efficient in the art of murder. May Day is one of the most original and interesting characters to appear during this era of Bond films, and Grace steals most of the scenes in which she appears - including a very funny one in which she beds Bond but ensures it is she who is on top.

With a new actor playing Bond came a new style to the films, and The Living Daylights proves this with the character of Kara Milovy. A beautiful and talented Czech cellist, Kara is unwittingly betrayed by the one she loves and is tossed around almost like a ragdoll before finally making a stand. Kara is one of the more interesting and believable of Bond's women, being innocent yet brave and fiercely self-sufficient. The role is played with considerable skill by the wonderful Maryan d'Abo, who proved to be a very appropriate leading lady for Timothy Dalton's more serious interpretation of 007.

Although License To Kill was arguably the most controversial of the Bond films, one thing that isn't is the performances of the two leading ladies. Lupe Lamora is the 'kept' woman of the film's villain, and, like Domino from Thunderball, is tired of behind held a virtual captive in the luxurious surroundings of her lover's estate. Model Talisa Soto gives an impressive performance in what could have been a clichéd, one-dimensional plot. Her beauty is accentuated by the eye-popping gowns and dresses she wears throughout the film, a look that makes Pam Bouvier seem her complete opposite. One of the most intriguing of Bond's ladies, Pam is a tough-as-nails courageous freelance pilot who works periodically for the CIA. Although the screenwriters can't resist having her eventually fall madly in love with Bond, her pouting jealousy of 007's involvement with Lupe is the only false note in her characterization. She is excellently played by model/actress Carey Lowell, who brings a refreshing cynicism to her role which ensures that this Bond girl is far more then just an ornament for 007.

Another new Bond and another change of direction for the series. This time the role of Goldeneye's Bond Girl fell to two very different women. The first refreshingly flied in the face of political correctness, and the character of Xenia Onatopp harkend back to the glory days of Bond villainesses. Larger then life and played with enormous zeal by Famke Janssen, Xenia stands out in every respect. A ravishing beauty, she combines her love for S&M sex with her penchant for murder. The scenes between Xenia and Bond are very well written and feature the type of double entrendres that were so much a part of the Connery era, all of which is in complete contrast to Natalya Simonova, who is very much a heroine for the 1990s: independent, courageous and cynical, and she is played very capably by the popular Swedish actress and singer Izabella Scorupco. Of particular note is the scene where she questions what Bond does for a living, which is one of the most moving and memorable of the series.

Tomorrow Never Dies provides Bond with two more beautiful women, although they're both on his side this time. Teri Hatcher was a truly inspired choice for the limited, but very important role of the tragic Paris Carver. She looks absolutely stunning and is attired in glamorous outfits which accentuate the sensuality of her scenes with Pierce Brosnan. Their love scene, in which Bond tenderly disrobes her, is one of the most truly erotic sequences of any of the films, aided by the fact that Bond genuinely cares for this woman. His despair over discovering her body is an unusually moving moment and accentuates his compassion in a very emotional way. Paris is one of the more tragic of Bond's women because it is solely because of his actions that she is murdered. Wai Lin, on the other hand, is very much a Bond heroine in that she is completely independent, fearless and perfectly capable of defending herself. She is played with considerable charm by Michelle Yeoh, one of the Orient's biggest box-office sensations. She performs an amazing array of stunts for the film, has a quiet, unassuming demeanour and commands the screen in the action sequences she features in.

Again, Bond is provided with two women in The World Is Not Enough. Bond first encounters Christmas Jones, a Doctor of Atomic Physics, at a Kazakhstan test facility. Despite her intellectual prowess, Christmas - like most Bond girls - is quite resourceful, this time in the art of nuclear weapons, which proves pivotal. Although Denise Richards is really too young to realistically portray a nuclear weapons expert, she succeeds in avoiding the unintentional laughs one might have expected. Elektra King, on the other hand, is a highly sexual woman with a ruthless edge, and is the most intriguing female lead character to appear in a Bond film since Octopussy. Sophie Marceau plays the complicated role with admirable skill, managing to make Elektra alternately appealing and appalling.

Finally, Die Another Day has a very intentional homage to Ursula Andress' famous entrance as Honey in Dr. No, with Jinx rising Venus-like from the Caribbean, clad in a bikini very reminiscent of that worn by Ms. Andress forty years earlier. The impact is equally impressive. In the tradition of all Bond women, Jinx is sexually aggressive and uses Bond for her pleasure every bit as much as he uses her. Halle Berry radiates considerable chemistry with Pierce Brosnan, and the intensity of their love scenes provides a genuine air of eroticism that pushes the envelope back by Bond standards. Miranda Frost, meanwhile, lives up to her name and barely give Bond time to breath before turning on him. In the past, the results have been mixed when young actresses were cast in prominent roles in a Bond film. However, Rosamund Pike brings a sophistication and maturity to the role that makes her an alluring screen presence.

The women have undergone numerous changes throughout the years, from the independent women like Honey Ryder and Pussy Galore to the "stereotypical blond" like Stacey Sutton and Mary Goodnight. However as it started in Dr. No, this has come full circle with the current films offering more independent and authoritive women who are a match for 007 like Natalya Simonova and Wai Lin.

There are of course even some women who can meet 007 on his level and exceed it, like Xenia Onatopp and Jinx. Like many elements in the Bond films, the women are dependant on the changing times, trends and attitudes of current audiences with the producers hoping to stay on top of these complex patterns. One thing can be sure though, there will all ways be an abundance of beautiful, sexy, intelligent and gorgeous women who hold the title of "Bond Women" past, present and future.

Tweaking with the Site

Just finished tweaking around with the site. Wasn't altogether happy about how small and cramped the central post section was, so I've increased the width of it and the title bar. I forget the exact figures, but it feels less like a default 'blog' and more like an actual 'site' now.

I'm not sure how this will work on different resolutions - I'm about to try it now. If anyone out there ever bothers visiting this site, bear with me.

EDIT: Ok, tweaked it a little more and I've found a good compromise, I think. Now not only does it look much better then it did before, but it'll actually fit on 1204x768 resolutions. So to all my family members who are too cheap to pick up a decent monitor - you're welcome.

Strong Bad's Cool Games for Attractive People (Review)

Having started this site and re-reading my previous musings and such, I've felt inspired to write more. But I had no idea what to write about. So on that fabled forum of yesteryear, I started a new thread and basically said 'Tell me to Write a Game Review'. The idea was that people would give me a game, and I would go off and write a review about it. Some people took it seriously, some didn't, and some told me to review something that wasn't even out yet (and me forgetting that I was his beta tester for said game - oops!). The ones who did take it seriously, however, gave me some good suggestions. Here's the first one I finished.

Strong Bad's Cool Games for Attractive People

Before the games were announced, I hadn't visited HomestarRunner.Com for years. It had been a site I'd somehow stumbled upon during one of my ambles across the internet, and I'd very much enjoyed the cynical, zany and frequently random humour of Strong Bad's E-Mails. So while I wasn't all that familiar with the character, I knew roughly what I was letting myself in for when I bought the first episode, Homestar Ruiner.

Oddly enough, the game surpassed my expectations and surprised me with its flexibility. Controlling the title character of Strong Bad, the player has to travel around the fictional land of Free Country USA, in an attempt to achieve various goals depending on which episode you're playing. In one your main goal is simply to give another character a long overdue pummelling. In another you're trying to depose a corrupt King of Town (or just 'The of Town', as Strong Bad says he will call him from now on) after he enforces a new, totally unfair e-Mail tax. Another game has you trying to make an epic movie with a budget of mothballs. And so on.

One of the major factors of the games is the humour, and how it would translate to a series of flash cartoons to a fully fledged video game series. Fortunately the games are hilarious, with frequently random acts of violence, bizarre insults and ludicrous characters all helping to keep the entertainment value high. The zany sense of self-parody the game has helps to keep people going, just to see what the characters will say or do next.

The characters themselves are, for lack of a better word, morons. But lovable morons. Even Strong Bad himself, a strange Mexican wrestling mask-wearing bully, is shown to be a few marbles short of a happy meal. He may think he's the smartest and most handsome of the inhabitants of Free Country USA, but that's only because everyone else is so absurdly mad.

They're also pretty well characterised. These people (for lack of a better word) have existed for years in the cartoons of the original site, and their personalities, quirks, flaws and alter-egos are all used to good effect in this series. Strong Sad is a depressed resigned-to-his-fate punching bag for his brother, Marzipan is an eco-friendly pushover, Coach Z is an idiotic failure at everything he tries and The Cheat... well, he's The Cheat. What else can I say?

Graphically, the game is a bit of an oddball. While faithful to the cartoons, it also seems like a throwback to the early days of 3D gaming, with it's bright colourful palette and cell-shading techniques showing off the basic geometry that makes up Free Country USA. Then again, if Telltale Games had updated the graphics to anything else the fans wouldn't have liked it one bit, but there's a fine line between pleasing existing fans and drawing new ones in.

Which leads to the biggest problem with these games. It's that horrible cliché - 'it's for the fans'. As I am constantly reminded at the end of every Zero Punctuation video, fans are clinging, complaining dipshits* who will never, ever be grateful for any concession you make. In this case, by making a series of games for the fans, Telltale have made it solely for them. It's not something an average gamer is going to try, simply because they're not going to feel as welcome.

In fact, at times the series almost seems to works at driving away people who aren't familiar with the original website - Episode 4, 'Dangeresque 3', is a perfect example of this. While a very funny in-joke, referencing a long-standing project of Strong Bad's from the website, players new to the series will have no idea what's going on and, if anything, won't want to find out.Of course it's hard to imagine a series based on a popular website being anything else, but even so, maybe a little more effort could have gone into letting new players in on the joke, given just how funny that joke is in places.

The other problem is the randomness of some of the puzzles. While most of them are solvable, there's a couple that don't make a lot of sense, as I'm finding out due to a recent replay of the series. Fortunately the new Hint System, which has now become almost a standard in adventure games, does a lot to alleviate this and stop players running off to GameFAQs, but at times the sheer randomness of the puzzles defies logic. How on earth would you know to make Homestar use an onion as a performance enhancer? Even a fan of the series like me had no idea that would work.

Some of the requirements for the optional Awesomeness meter and hidden trophies are also completely random and make little to no sense, though given that they're entirely optional it's a little more forgiveable. But even so, I'd challenge anyone to max out their awesomeness rating without visiting the Telltale Games website and find out how. A little randomness in a game is welcome, but not to the point where it's impossible to get everything without cheating.

At the end of the day though, the main question is 'Are these games fun?', and the answer to that question is yes. If you're into silly, slightly dark and utterly random humour, then there's a lot to like about these games. And with the new SD card storage system, it's actually possible to download all five games onto your Wii without having to delete some of your other channels. So now's as good a time as any to give 'em a try.

*I think that's the first time I've actually sworn on this site. Surprised it took me so long, really.

Explaining the Combine (Article)

In that forum of yore, someone asked a bunch of questions about Half-Life 2. I answered them in this exact manner, as there were a couple of posts before mine and I felt a reminder would be useful. There were also a few follow-up posts that went slightly off-topic which I'm including as well. Bear in mind that this was written before Episode 2 came out, and there was still some speculation as to what would appear in it. I don't know if there is any in this Q&A session, but just in case, I felt it necessary to warn you.

Half-Life 2 didn't have an ending. It just stopped.

You asked questions. Let's answer them as best as is humanly possible, and then let's insult everyone else for saying anything different. Y'know, like everyone always does on the interweb. Onward!

"What the hell are the Combine?" - For this, I shall summarize the blurb found upon Wikipedia's rather excellent page upon the subject. Sadly, it proves rock_nog slightly wrong, but I'm sure he doesn't mind. Not that I care.

The Combine is a vast empire spanning multiple parallel universes, which expands its empire by conquering and enslaving populated worlds. By genetically altering the most intelligent races, the Combine (Pronounced COM-bine, with the emphasis on the first part of the word) create advanced soldiers adapted for individual worlds, allowing for the easy destruction of rebellion factions.

Prior to conquering Earth, the Combine had previously tried to enslave the as-yet un-named race which human beings refer to as the Xen race. This race were defeated by the Combine on an entirely different world to Xen, but managed to flee to their final retreat - a dimensional transit bottleneck, or an area of continual contention. This area, which subsequently 'bled' into our dimension, was known as Xen.

Following the death of the supreme being of this race, known as Nihilanth, at the hands of Gordon Freeman, the Combine were able to use the massive portal storm to invade Earth. This resulted in what has since come to be known as the Seven Hour War. Dr Wallace Breen, the former administrator of the Black Mesa Research Facility, was able to negotiate a surrender on Earth's behalf, and as a result was appointed administrator of the Combine's forces on Earth – also known as the Overwatch.

"What the hell is going on in the background?" - I'm not sure what you mean by this one. If you mean the background of the game, then essentially Gordon Freeman, having 'arrived' in City 17 and subsequently going on to destroy countless Combine forces, inspires many of the City's remaining inhabitants to rise up against their oppressors, while the Combine try to track Freeman down and kill him.

"Who are the benefactors? Is this some implied other-dimensional stupid ass [s***]? Or Xenfags?" - The benefactors are the Combine. That's just what Dr Breen calls them. Interestingly, he only properly refers to them as 'The Combine' once, near the end of the game. There are a couple of theories behind this - either that's what he really thinks of them and can't be bothered to hide his feelings anymore, or it's just a slip of the tongue caused by the heat of the moment.

"Alright. So I didn't play ep1-3 or lost coast, but I might. Should I? Would it provide any additional story info? Is a sequel planned?" - Yes, you should. Just remember what they are - short. Lost Coast gives you nothing plot-wise, it's just a setting they cut out during development and then subsequently felt would be a good place to try out HDR lighting while giving fans a bit more HL2. Episodes I, II and III, once finished (only Episode I is currently out. Episode II's release date has slipped to around the end of the year. Don't even ask about Episode III), should reveal a whole lot more plot.

As for sequels, well. These HL2 Episodes as, essentially, Half-Life 3. Gabe Newell, uber-god regarding all things Half-Life, has admitted that a more correct title for these episodes should have been 'Half-Life 3: Episode One', etc, but whatever. A proper Half-Life 3 does seem likely, however nothing's been confirmed. There will be an Episode IV, but it'll be developed outside of Valve and will start a new story arc, so if there's going to be a proper sequel, chances are Valve will start work on it after Half-Life 2 Episode III - Not inspired by Star Wars.

"Not actually a question, but what the hell is up with that ending?" - It's not an ending. Half-Life 2 didn't have one. It just stopped. If you're referring to the boss, well... it's not really an end boss, is it?

If you play the original Max Payne, I think that's the perfect end-boss. Yes, there's a ruddy great chopper you have to take down. But do you kill it with continuous gunfire? No, you [dislodge an aerial mast and] swat it down. Challenging, but logical. Me likey. But in Half-Life 2, you don't really get a boss. A part of me actually likes that. 'This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper', as is said. You just have to stop Breen, which you do. Right?

As for Ep1, I've never liked destroying Striders or Gunships, because they fall back into the old 'shoot them until they fall down' category. Controlling the rockets is always fun (except when they keep getting shot down, grr), but it just feels sort-of routine. But that's just me, I guess.

The next episodes should be on a more epic scale. Ep1 was dealing with the fallout, Ep2 is escaping to the countryside and Ep3... well, I've no idea, but it's bound to be interesting. We're moving away from City17, so at the very least we'll get different locations, which'll be good.


No-one knows who the G-Man is. That's probably not even his name. There are theories, but nothing's been confirmed. I like the one that he's a member of an incredibly ancient race, older then the Combine, who seek their destruction, and who realizes that Gordon is the one who can do that. One thing is for certain - he is NOT Gordon from the future. Totally.

[As for where the name came from...] It's the filename of the model - gman.mdl - which is where the name came from. Some people thought it was short for 'Government Man', but the events of HL2 kinda disprove that. Truth is, we just don't know. And honestly, if we do find out, it'll spoil the magic. So I don't ever want to.

False News Stories (Article)

Again from that close-knit forum I fondly remember from my youth, another member there had a habit of making new topic about an event from the news, and then just copy-pasting the story from a news website. She still does it, but not as often anymore. No-one minded - in fact it was a good way of starting a topic off - but I thought it might be entertaining to affectionatly parody this by starting a thread with blantantly fake news stories in them. I eneded up posting two such stories. Here they are.

Federal Government Forgets Katrina Anniversary
08-29-2007 12:59 PM

NEW ORLEANS (FNN 24/7) -- New Orleans marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Wednesday, though many residents of the Gulf Coast region felt slighted that no one from the federal government showed up as promised to acknowledge the occasion.

"I'm not sure if we should wait or just start without them," said resident Robyn Olds, on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony at a memorial for still-unidentified victims.

"Oh, shoot," said President Bush, when reminded of the anniversary. "That was today, wasn't it."

To make up for his absence, the president had someone call his cell phone - which he set to a chime ring to symbolize the sounds of bells tolling for the dead.

"Obviously, some mistakes were made," said government spokesman Aaron Walker. "We hope to learn from what happened today so that our response will be faster when future anniversaries occur."


London - The Pokemon fad was suddenly ended today when a crazed fan of the long-running series shot its creator, Satoshi Tajiri, 5 times at point blank range before being restrained by Tojiri's security detail.

Tojiri, a known recluse, was, according to the press release, enjoying a rare day out taking in the sights of London. Shortly after getting off the London Eye, he was approached by a male described as being in his mid 30s, blonde, wearing glasses, a backpack and a Pokemon t-shirt.

The fan apparently asked Tojiri a series of questions, which he answered in a polite manner. Several onlookers have described the two as having a seemingly friendly conversation, with the fan even telling a joke that Tojiri found extremely funny. It was shortly after this however, that the conversation took a turn for the worse.

Apparently disagreeing with a comment that Tojiri made, the fan pulled a handgun from the backpack and short Tojiri several times in the chest before Tojiri's security detail were able to subdue the man. They held him to the pavement for several minutes until an ambulance arrived, however when it did so, he managed to slip away in the confusion.

Tojiri is currently in hospital, his condition serious. The police have put out an APV on anyone matching the description of the man and wish to speak to anyone in the London area who has enjoyed any of the Pokemon series, be it film, TV show or game, within the last 6 months.

Modern Game Features You Can and Can't Live Without (Article)

On that close-knit forum I talk about all the time, a thread appeared called 'Modern Game Features You Can't Live Without'. After posting in it, I decided to create a companion thread, entitled 'Modern Game Features You Can Live Without'. Surprisingly, it quickly killed off the first one, which wasn't my intention at all! Anyway, here's what I posted in both threads, separated by a rare dose of colour. Aren't you lucky.

Modern Game Features You Can't Live Without

- Saving. Whether it be a quick-save, an auto-save or just a limited amount of times you can save at all, saving mid-level has proven to be a lifesaver and something that's made playing games much more fun, especially when you're about to enter a tricky section.

- Graphics. This is an odd subject, because some of my favourite games are 2D platformers (Metroid), but for the most part, 3D graphics have come a long way and really help to immerse you in a game. To a point, anyway.

- Sound. Music has become a huge part of games these days, and it's easy to tell why. The right piece of music in the right place can really enhance the game. But it's not just the music - people speaking to you, weapons sparking off different surfaces, footsteps of the enemy... it all makes for a really impressive experience.

- Story-Telling. This has really come into its own in the last few years, around the time that Half-Life came out. It's all well and good having a basic plot, but once you're in the game, the world around you has a story to tell, and it's going to tell it. This is possibly the greatest advancement in the development of games we've had over the past 10 years.

- DVDs. More game for your buck.

- Sub-titles. I've found this to be an absolute lifesaver, especially if there's a lot going on audio-wise.

Modern Game Features You Can Live Without

- Death Animations. Call me old fashioned, but when people died, I liked it when they spun around in a pre-defined death spin. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing more satisfying then pinning someone to a wall with the crossbow in HL2, but when people die I expect a little more then to simply see them collapse in a heap on the floor. I liked to see them try, and fail, to get back up. Ragdoll physics has done a lot, but it still has a lot to answer for when it comes to killing the bad guys.

- Open-ended Gameplay. I blame Far Cry for this. When I'm playing an FPS, I like having one route to go. I like knowing 'I have to go there, there's only one way through, let's get cracking'. Having multiple choices scares and confuses me, and the plot will suffer because of it. One path, one plot, one point.

- Graphics. This is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it's allowed incredibly immersive games like Half-Life 2. On the other, it means that everyone's always pushing the boundaries and making me upgrade my perfectly functional PC. Bastards. We've hit a good level of detail as it is, do we really need things to be even more photo-realistic? Really?

- Steam. Yes, thank you for forcing me to subscribe to your software and be online just so I can play your latest game*. Cheers for that.

- Episodic Gaming. Let's make sure every game developer out there hears this. Episodic gaming doesn't work with action titles**. It takes far too long to produce any kind of decent gameplay as it is without you trying to release stuff every six months or so. It's just not realistic. Are you listening Valve?

- Online Noobs. If I try to play online (rare as that may be), it's generally with someone I know, because otherwise you get stuck with irritating people who can't spell, 13-year old kids who won't stop whining, sore losers who always claim you cheated if you beat them and people who are just plain insulting.

- Old Games not working in Windows XP. I'm having this problem with Discworld II ATM - I've got it running in DosBox quite nicely, but unfortunately DW2 is a 2-disc game, so I'm gonna have trouble when it comes to that second disc. Bah!***

- Cease-and-Desists. This doesn't seem to happen a lot, but it's when big companies (I'm looking at you, Lucasarts)**** decide to shut down fan-games or mods by claiming illegal use of copyrighted characters. And it sucks.

- Pointless Sequels. If a game does well, it'll get a sequel. Whether it deserves one or not is irrelevant. For exmple, Red Faction sold faily well, despite it being woefully average, and got an equally 'meh' sequel, which we really could have done without.

- Girly Games. I'm all for games that appeal to both men and women - Nintendogs, Brain Training, etc, but when you make a game specifically for girls, it's going to feature a lot of pink, teenagers giggling and slang words. It will not feature any real gameplay at all, and therefore barely even qualifies as a game. If anything, they're an insult to the girls who actually DO play games.

- Cheats. This is, and I honestly believe this, what prevents a great deal of people from getting better at games. If things get too tough, it's not too hard to turn on God Mode, and it's surprising how many people will do that rather than actually adapting their strategy and improving their technique. I experienced it recently with this Half-Life mod, and if it weren't for the fact that I couldn't access the console, I would have God-modded my way through Xen. But I didn't. And I feel so much more accomplishment for having gotten through on my own.*****

- Big Head Mode. I mean, really. What. Is. The. Point.

- Console Colours. I want a black Wii, dammit. Why can't I buy one? Whatever happened to those multiple colours that Nintendo paraded around? Why do I have to spend an extra £20 for a coloured cover to replace the original one, probably breaking the warranty in the process? Bah!******

- Sports Licensing. It's not about better gameplay or fixing the problems with the previous iteration, it's about making it prettier, updating the stats and fleecing the sports fan out of their money again, only this time it's for 2008.*******

*And yes, I know that you only have to sign in the once, but that doesn't ignore the fact that you shouldn't have to sign in all, does it?
**It works brilliantly for adventure games though. Telltale games have really revolutionised the genre with their efforts, and they've produced some cracking games in the process. Very much looking forward to their take on the Monkey Island series!
***I did eventually get this working, and even posted a guide on how I did it on the Vogons forum. It uses DosBox, but don't worry - it does work, honest! If you're interested in seeing the guide for yourself, here it is.
****A more recent example of this is with Squeenix shutting down the fan hack, Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes. I still live in hope that the 98% complete version will be 'leaked'.
*****I later replayed that mod and found it much easier then I remember. Either my HL skills have improved or I really sucked during that first playthrough.

******As I mention, I got fed up of waiting for a black console and just ordered a black replacement cover, which has served me well ever since. It's only now, in June 2009, a mere two and a half years after the console first launched, that
it's finally being officially released in a different colour. But only in Japan. Screw everyone else.
*******And 2009, and 2010, and...

Forming Images (Short Story)

I'm going to let you read the story before I explain it. You'll understand why at the end.

Pain and confusion.
What the hell had just happened?
She realised her eyes were closed, so she opened them. It made no difference - she still couldn't see anything.
The pain was still there. Where in God's name was it coming from?
Slowly she moved her hands up and down her body. There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary. So what was causing that dull ache in her head?
Her head.
Oh God, her head. Why was it hurting so much?
She felt around her face, then her hair. Somewhere round the back, there was something sticky.
Hesitantly she moved the hand in front of her face and licked it.
No. Not blood. More bitter. Almost... oily?
Dimly she because aware that she could hear something. A sort of... humming. She recalled having heard it before, but couldn't place where from.
Recall? Why couldn't she recall?
The pain was still there. Why wouldn't it go away? What had caused it?
Slowly an image crept into her mind. She was running. Running down a dark alley.
Why would she be doing that?
Suddenly she was thrown to the left. A loud, screeching sound. Almost like... tires?
A car? Was she in a car?
More screeching. Then silence. What was going on?
Then, blindingly, there was light. Lost of it. She raised her hand to shield her eyes.
She blinked. And there he was, looking down at her.
Rebecca. Was that her name?
The face smiled. She did too. It was an infectious sort of smile.
'Hi there. My name's Daniel. I'm gonna get you out of here, ok?'
Arms reached down and cradled her. She didn't mind. Daniel seemed to know what he was doing.
She looked around as he lifted her out of the boot.
The car she'd been in had been blocked off by a police car. The officer who'd presumably been driving it was forcing a man over the car's bonnet.
Recognising the man as her somewhat violent ex, it all started to come together.
Daniel carried her past the officer, his face turning towards him as he did.
'I'm gonna take her to the hospital. Keys in the ignition?'
The officer looked up from cuffing the ex.
'Yeah. Don't scratch the paint!'
Daniel smiled. 'I won't. Thanks Dave, I owe you.'
He looked back at Rebecca.
'Come on. Let's get you checked out... and we'll see if we can get them to wash that oil out of your hair while we're at it.'
She smiled.
Everything was going to be all right.

From a later post in the forum this was taken from: 'The whole thing [is] kinda meant to be from the point of view of someone (Rebecca) with a concussion. Not sure if that came across or not. But yeah, Trev's* pretty much pointed out the things I didn't explicitly state.'

*Trevor is another poster who pointed out that in America, you people call it a TRUNK rather then a BOOT, and also explained what was happening in the story, which I've already mentioned.

Watching and Waiting (Short Story)

Back in the day, I tried to liven up the close-knit forum I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts by hosting a couple of writing contests. I intended for it to be an ongoing feature, and to host a new one whenever things got a little dull. Lack of interest in the second contest killed that idea off, sadly. Still, I did end up writing a few entries myself, though as I was judging they were never in the running to win. It was certainly an interesting challenge though.

The first contest only had one rule - 500 words or less. I later relaxed this to a guideline rather then a cold hard cut-off, but I personally made sure to stay under the figure. This was my first output.

The rain had finally stopped, but the night was still freezing. Daniel wrapped his coat tighter and continued to wish he’d never taken this case. He’d been here three days now, and still no evidence that the woman’s husband was cheating on her. He checked his watch. 11:38. He smiled to himself as he turned back to watch the street.

It had sounded simple - watch the apartment that the client suspected her husband went to whenever he met with his bit on the side. But, as always, the reality was very different from what he’d imagined. Three days in a small room overlooking the street. He felt cheated in some way. As if his life were meant for more then just sitting in a cupboard, eating apples and having to go to the toilet in plastic bottles. That was the worst part, by far.

Suddenly, his mobile vibrated. Irritably, Daniel took off his gloves and reached inside his coat to find it. He knew what it was going to say, but he checked the text message he’d received anyway. Sure enough, it was from his client - ‘The eagle has left the nest’. Code for ‘my husband has gone to meet his floozy’, she had explained. Daniel sighed and left the mobile on the floor.

Minutes passed, and still nothing. Daniel reached for another apple. He didn’t really like apples that much, but they were all he’d had time to grab before coming here, again at the client’s insistence. He really was regretting taking the case. It was easily one of the most boring cases he’d taken since starting up the previous year. He’s accepted that not all his cases were going to be like the movies, but would one really have killed him?

As he continued to scan the streets, a black car pulled up, almost out of sight. It took a few moments, but eventually Daniel caught it. Sure enough, the man stepping out was the same one he’d been hired to watch. He reached over and grabbed his camera, turning it on as he did so. Pointing it at the man, he quickly took several shots of him walking up to a door, knocking on it, chatting to the woman who opened it and sneaking inside with her. Finally, the job was done.

Getting ready to leave, Daniel paused. There could be any number of reasons that the man had been going there. He resolved to check the building before turning him over - if the man was innocent, he realised, there’d be no end to the trouble that the pictures would cause.

Making his way to the street, Daniel walked over to the building in question and smiled when he saw the sign by the door. ‘Madame Desiree’s Massage Parlour’. That settled things. The pictures went to the client. Pulling out his mobile and calling a taxi, one question was settled in Daniel’s mind.

‘What do I do with three bottles of urine?’

Doctor Who - Evolution of the Daleks (Review)

Another review outside of my normal writing style. I was quite experimental back in the day, wasn't I?

I haven't reviewed the new series* so far simply because I haven't had anything to say. I enjoyed the first three episodes, and I couldn't really think of anything to say except 'Yeah, they were pretty good'. And that's not really much of a post, is it? So I didn't post anything. Generally if I post stuff, it's because I didn't like stuff, and when I start complaining, you're gonna have a hard time stopping me.

The thing is, I don't watch much TV these days. It's pretty much our good Doctor and Heroes (Eccleston's finally appeared**, by the way. Yay!). Not much else on, really. I missed the beginning of the other shows that I would normally watch - ER, Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, House - and I really can't be bothered to download them or whatever, so if those two shows aren't good, I get a bit upset. No worries with Heroes, since it's pretty much impossible for that to suck, so that just leaves Doctor Who, and as I've said, I've enjoyed it so far.

Then along came Evolution of the Daleks. And oh dear, the illusion was broken. See, I enjoyed the two-parter when I first watched it. I really did. Good ol' bit of fun, not really paying too much attention to detail, just sitting back and relaxing to a bit of late-afternoon/early-evening TV. But then I watched it again, both episodes, back to back. And my oh my, did the problems start appearing. Let's review, shall we? And since I don't have a set reviewing pattern***, let's have some fun. Note that I'm reviewing both episodes here, since they're one story. Hey, it's my review, I'll do what I want.

The Good

The Effects. Absolutely amazing. I'm going on a 3-day holiday to New York with my family next week, and if the views aren't as good as they were in the show, I'm going to be disappointed****. Beautiful. The Mill should be bloody proud of themselves, because they've completely outdone themselves once again.
The Actors. I know some of you didn't like the exaggerated 'New Yoik' accents, but I did, so shush. Most of the secondary characters were good, especially Solomon, which made his death quite poignant. The guy who took over from Solomon, Frank (thanks Wikipedia), was also pretty good, as was Mr Diagoras, who became this season's must-have Halloween mask. Tallulah wasn't fantastic, but she wasn't as bad as she could have been. The other, minor characters were also pretty good, considering the small parts they had.
The Regulars. Freema was, as has become standard, excellent, and far, far better then I ever thought Billie Piper was with Mr Tennant. (I don't think I've explained this here, so I'll quickly do it now. Billie and Chris - Father and Daughter. Billie and David - High school friends. One is quite touching, the other's just annoying. Guess which is which) David, on the other hand, was only good in the first half, but that half was very nice. I also liked how he rambled on in the beginning of Evolution - that's the sort of acting I like to see from him.
The Plot. Again, only applicable to the first half, which is just setting up the Jenga pieces, ready for them all to fall down. It did a good job of it, drew us in, made us want to know what was going on, etc.
The Musical Number. How many other shows could get away with having a song right in the middle of the action? I mean, really?
Dalek Sec. Yes, I liked him. He was an interesting way forward for the Daleks. I certainly wouldn't have imagined it happening - I shudder to think what else is going on in RTD's mind. Seriously. But the make-up wasn't that bad, and having managed to avoid being properly spoiled by the Radio Times, it came as a bit of a surprise when it happened. Alas, poor Sec, you had such great plans...

The Bad

That Football Goal. Every time I watch Daleks in Manhattan now, I'm going to see those. Thanks a freaking bunch, Stuart*****.
The Daleks. I seem to recall, way back in the Eccleston era, that the Doctor was bricking himself over just one Dalek getting loose, because it would destroy an entire city, maybe even the state. So here we've got not one but FOUR Daleks, who've been running around Earth for months before the Doctor even arrives, and what are they doing? They're building a freakin' skyscraper. What the hell is up with that? You're Daleks! You don't need pig slaves! You don't need Gamma radiation! You're freakin' Daleks! Go forth and exterminate!
The Doctor. In part deux, he reverts to shouting. Dammit, the man cannot do loud terror, have they not learned that by now? Hell, he's doing it against Daleks, the masters of bloody great shouty threats! Understated menace he can do very well, we've all seen it. Why does he feel the need to yell at everything that pisses him off? Also, not even singed from the lightning? Hell, I'd have settled for a little bit of smoke coming up from his hair in a slightly comedic manner, but not even that?
The Pig Slaves. Seriously, where did the pig element come from? If you can get past the sheer idiocy of the Daleks in not immediately killing everyone, I can understand them wanting slaves, but where the hell did the pig part come from? Were there any pigs in Manhattan at the time?

The Stupid

Laszlo. Who... why... what... was the point? How the hell did he escape, and why weren't they looking for him? if they were, they never said so, and when he rejoined the group there was nary an eyebrow raised... hell, there weren't even any eyebrows TO raise. Why did the Doctor save him? He's a freakin' pig man! What's he gonna do, start a bakery? How will him and Tallulah work? I wouldn't imagine a pig's trouser snake would be very big... is she really gonna stay with him once she finds that out? And why the hell didn't Tallulah recognize him in the sewer when it was clearly him? Was she deaf as well as dumb?
'Urge to kill... too... strong...' No excuse. Absolutely none whatsoever.
The Emergency Temporal Shift. Weak. So, so weak. I suppose Dalek Caan may have drawn the needed power from the remnants of the lightning strike, but even so... Weak.

In conclusion: Fun when drunk, but painful when sober. For god's sake, even the script editor needs a script editor sometimes. Better yet, grab some of us as unofficial assistants, we'll help you sort out most of the problems. God knows we'd be glad to help out if this is the sort of thing that'll happen without us...

The Bumper Book of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about Evolution of the Daleks: Contrary to popular belief, Ryan Carnes, who played Laszlo, actually needed make up to look human, rather then a pig-man.

*Series 3. Or 29, depending on how you look at it.
**This happened in the second half of the first series. I thought he was really good in it.
***I lied here - I did have a set review pattern. It just wasn't a very good one.
****Thankfully, they were stunning. It's a beautiful city from up high. Not so much from ground level - it feels more like a really big maze.
*****I'll quickly explain here, since the post that I originally linked to doesn't exist any more. In one of the early shots of The Doctor and Martha meeting Solomon, you can see a set of modern football goalposts in the background. There was a picture of this in the post linked, and I was referring to the guy who showed it to us via his review of the episode.

Doctor Who - The Curse of Fenric (Review)

Another day (well, the same day, technically), another article. This was a review of The Curse of Fenric, and I was trying a different reviewing style with this - rather then watch the whole thing then write my feelings about what I'd just seen, I decided to jot down comments about what I was watching at the time, and then tidy it up and add a small bit at the end to sum up my feelings. So for the most part it's more of a summary then a review, but reading it again it actually holds up pretty well, doesn't it?

I sat down on Tuesday to review as I normally do - watch one episode a day and then review it at the weekend once I'd had time to process it. But something happened. I sat down to watch the first episode, and two hours later got up and wanted to watch it all again. And that never happens with classic series stories. Ever.

So what I did was watch it all again today, with a clipboard, pen and paper and jotted down notes as I went along. The end result is less along the lines of what I would normally write, but it should feel somewhat familiar to the rest of you. Good thing? I'd like to think so. Let's find out, shall we?

Bear in mind that I couldn't afford the DVD, so these are the episodes as transmitted. I'm sure they'll be even better in the collected version, and I'll find out for myself when I get the money, but for the moment I'll have to take it on faith. Not that it mattered, I fully enjoyed what I had anyway. Also I apologise for any spelling errors that you may spot*, but I was rather rushing to get this done before Torchwood started and didn't really have time to spell-check the entire document. Still, who cares about the occasional typo when you've got moderately funny humour abound, eh?

Part I

The story starts well enough - I enjoyed the intro, which at the very least tried something different, rather then just being an adaptation of what had gone before for a new Doctor. And I thought the music was funky. I seem to remember it from my childhood, which is always good. Anyway! The story starts proper with a low budget invasion of Normandy, only for that theory to be blown away as we're show the long awaited return of the Loch-Ness Monster! Huzzah! And then the Russians land and something's clearly gone wrong. Which always happens in these things.

The TARDIS appears and Ace, who appears to have Chewing Gum stuck in her hair, emerges in full period dress. And her 'leather' coat. Hmm. That said, she does have a fair point about just strolling into a top-secret military base. Where are all the boys in brass and so forth? ...oh, there they are. Surrounded by big... okay, tough... all right, weedish soldiers wielding big powerful guns, the Doctor launches straight into a bluff that whizzes right past their heads and leaves them reeling. Then he goes and forges his own authorisation papers. The felonies are building up - Breaking and Entering, Forgery, Impersonating a senior member of staff...

Meanwhile the Russians, who have conveniently decided to speak in English (and good thing too, I'm watching this story, not reading it) decide to set up camp on the beach, where they'll get sand in their tent and start grumbling about how it's too windy to build decent sandcastles. Still, those are their orders and they're going to obey them, stupid as they may be. And while one of the guards is on patrol, he finds something. Is it a winning lottery ticket? Plane tickets to Florida? A classic issue of Playboy? No, it's just their orders. Fun. Suddenly someone places a green filter over the lens, plays some menacing music and the poor fellow screams (which, amazingly, nobody hears) and gets all the blood drained from him. I would LOVE to know how they drain the blood from someone is such a short space of time, but I guess that's a much a mystery as why Chantelle hasn't been shot yet. Irritating bitch.

I'd like to take a few seconds here to point out a glaring error that was brought to my attention thanks to my mother being curator of a museum doing an exhibition on World War 2
last year. This is for you, Mum! When Ace meets the two future victims-to-be, she says they should meet at Maiden's Point, which is handily signposted. But during the war, they took down all signposts in case German troops landed in the country - that way the soldiers wouldn't know where they were or which way to go. So that's a bit of an 'Oops' mistake right there.

Back on track, we're introduced to the Commander of the base, or Herr Obermann, as he prefers to be known. And we're also introduced to the Reverend something-or-other, who goes on about a curse. Evil was 'ere BC 2000, or some such. Another query, if I may - shouldn't the TARDIS be translating the runes? Silly me, of course not - that'd ruin the plot. Anyway, the man the Doctor's apparently here to see, Judson, is bossed about by his carer who I've no doubt will end up dead before the day is done, and I come up with a few smutty innuendos.

The two future corpses Ace met go for a swim - they'll be sucked down under in no time (Fwar) AND a Russian prays that, once they're out of the water, he won't have to fire at them with his big gun. Well, you wouldn't want to be shooting blanks at two fairly pretty young ladies now, would you? (Clean up on Aisle 4!)

Moving on. Ace meets one of the ladies who listens for German communications and finds out she has a baby called Audrey - a name she detests. Can't blame her there, I've never liked the name. But apparently it was the name of her mother. Hmm. Taking shelter, her and the Doctor take a look at the cliffs were Ace hung out with the two cadavers-in-waiting, and the pair find a dead Russian. And a lot of live ones. Pointing guns at them. A cliffhanger at a cliff? genius!

Part Second

The Russians decide not to shoot the Doctor since the episode is going out pre-watershed. Meanwhile, the Commander and Judsen have translated the runes and are reading them out loud, for some god only knows reason. This will lead to very bad things, of that you can be sure.

Moving on a bit, because there's a few minutes that I can't make fun of, the Reverend makes a lovely speech to a completely empty church while the Doctor and Ace explore the runes further and discover that some new one have appeared. Only they aren't new. Which is a bit of a confuser, really. Finding a secret chamber leads them to the Commander, who has been stockpiling green slime. Surely we've already reviewed a story about Green Slime? No? Oh well. He's got lots of it. Lots and lots and lots of it. An when he demonstrates that only a few drops can kill a room full of birds, his brilliant plan to rid the beaches of seagulls is revealed. What a nice man he is.

Back at the beach, the two girls run headlong into the water again, not a care in the world, and as the fog machine goes into overdrive, they're killed faster then you can click your fingers and say 'Just like that'. When they return, trying to seduce a Russian soldier in the most twisted seduction I've seen since Gigli, their hair appears to have been through the wrangler. Should have used Herbal Essences, methinks.

Moving on from soldiers to men of the cloth, they make their move on the Reverend, who reveals that they are now, in fact, vampires. Which just doesn't make sense, because everybody knows vampires have immaculate hair. And, once again, the holy water/cross/bible legend is shattered. How many times are we going to have to be told that they don't work? The Reverend is saved, amazingly, by the Doctor, who barges in and tells the vamps firmly, yet politely, to leave. And they do! It's a wonder he doesn't try this approach more often.

Suddenly, the team realise that they;ve got to stop Judsen from translating the new runes that have appeared, since it's resurrecting all the old pop groups of yore who have faded into obscurity. But no! They're too late! And since the producers of the show have run out of time, they just decide to make that the cliffhanger. Classic stuff, really.

Parte the Third

The Doctor convinces the Commander of the danger and tries to get re-enforcement sent in, but the Commander's quite stupidly had the radios 'disabled'. Which must have been fun for Perkins, who did the honours with a ruddy great axe. Meanwhile, we're told that the revived pop bands are what human beings eventually evolve into. So how come Cassandra isn't a blood-sucking leach... oh. Right.

Returning to make sure baby Audrey's all right, she assumes Aubrey's mother is a single mum. Sadly, we'll have to wait about 20 years for that story to be told, but then that said... with a husband in the war, surely it's only a matter of time, right? And on the other side of the base, McCoy shows his true colours by playing the clown. Which is always funny.

Flash forward to a seemingly pointless return to the church and there's water seeping in. Oh dear, that can only mean one thing. Attack of the Undead! There's a good movie in the waiting for you. Running up the top of the church, Ace reveals a ladder, which is what all the cool kids are carrying around in those days, apparently. Alas, she climbs down straight into the arms of some waiting monsters. Don't stuggle Ace, all they want is a cuddle! Oh, and to drain all the blood out of you, but that's a given, right? Good news, however - the Russians arrive and promptly blow the budget away with their bullets. Huzzah. Back inside the church, the Doctor chants the words to Pertwee's eternal classic I Am The Doctor, prompting a hideous response from the vampires as their brains remember the naffness of the record.

The head Russian holds he creatures at bay with his Abba fan club badge, representing his undying faith that the group will reunite one of these days. After grabbing his men, he returns - just to talk, of course. But the Commander is having none of it and locks him up for the sheer hell of it. Nice chap.

And low and behold, I was right. Single mother ahoy. Now's your chance, fellas!

Outside of this, Ace finally decides to challenge the Doctor and he responds with a wonderful piece of nonsense that puts Ace off ever asking anything of him ever again, which is a blessing I think all Doctors could do with. And then, quite out of the blue, Ace comes up with the most bizarre chat-up technique since... well, Part 2. I'm tempted to try them out myself next time I go down the pub.

Back on something a little more sane, the creatures are making short work of both the door holding them back and the Reverend, marking the beginning of the Great Extras Slaughter of '42 which lasted a whole 40-odd minutes and which is barely known outside of the BBC. We bow our heads in remembrance of the fine extras who fell in the line of budget cuts. May they rest in peace(s).

Judsen has recovered the container of the main villain of the piece - apparently Evil needs a body. Try telling that to Cassandra. But once again the Doctor is too late. The Commander is spewing text like Shakespeare reborn and the crippled Judsen is crippled no more! Although he is now host to an evil from the dawn of time, but still - nice to be up and about again, isn't it?

Part Goes Fourth (that one doesn't work so well, does it?)

And we're straight into the backstory, although it doesn't last long as Fenric shatters windows with nary but a hand gesture and goes to greet his minion(s). Bet they were surprised to meet their maker, hmm? Meanwhile the Doctor and Co. (Another spin-off for you, RTD!) almost get shot before being rescued, while that nice old Commander goes completely fruit-loopy.

Fenric orders the fetching of The Ancient One, which is a bit of a misnomer, seeing as he's from the far future and probably not very old at all. But it's an impressive title all the same, and I doubt he's pushing very hard to get it changed. Fenric, however, is revealed to have a weakness for Chess - well, who doesn't? - and the Doctor arranges to find a set so he can beat the evil bastard once again. As he waits for the Doctor to set it up, Fenric starts eulogising about the good old days. Unfortunately he'll be waiting for a while, as former nice guy the Commander has rigged his chess set to blow up, but luck be with them, Ace remembers where she saw another set, so off they go.

On the outside, the Russians are being killed left, right and centre, and the last two decide to go blow up the deciphering machine which started the whole mess. A wee bit too late, but then that's Russia for you. Back on the inside, the Commander, who really was a nice guy once, honestly, realises that his great chemical weapon will be used to wipe the earth clean, which begs the question - why the bloody hell does he have so much? Overkill much?

Ace gets back to flirting with a Russian soldier, ensuring his demise in the process, while the Great Extra Massacre continues in full swing. Once she's convinced the man to part with his beloved Abba Fan Club badge, she has a sudden pang of conscience and decides to go back and help Audrey's mother escape with her baby. The other Russian, meanwhile, tries to destroy the machine, only to get a bullet in the chest courtesy of the Commander, who, let's be honest here, may well have been a nice guy once, but by now has completely lost his marbles. The Doctor, having FINALLY found a chess set, sets the game up once more.

Fortunately for the few survivors at this point, Fenric's superiority complex rises to the fore and he has all the other creatures killed by the Ancient One in a stunning display of disintegration. Then, realising he'll never score any chicks in Judson's body, he leaps into the Russian's. Not knowing this, Ace reveals the solution to the Doctor's puzzle to him, and with nothing standing in his way, he starts laughing in the manner that maniacal villains often do and reveals that everybody was little more then a pawn - Ace included. In a stunning display of twisting someone's words to mean something completely different, the Doctor convinces the Ancient One that Fenric wouldn't do him a single favour one the Earth was his and so gets him to sacrifice itself to take out ol' Fenric.

On the side, the Commander, completely ga-ga and, not just a portion of fries, but also a burger and a carbonated beverage short of a happy meal, finally gets his comeuppance as the surviving Russian (the one he shot, remember - I never said he was dead) teams up with a British soldier and shoots the big guy dead. An eye for an eye, and all the rest. Ace learns that is was in fact her mother and grandmother she helped to escape, and wanting to rid herself of the whole horrid experience, washes all the terror away with a swim. Lovely.

...So there we are. Different, but somewhat enjoyable. Anyway, I thought this was a great story and I WILL watch this one again - I'd love to see the extended edition. Hope I haven't bored you guys with this long 'un!

The Bumper Book of Made Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about The Curse of Fenric: Ace's original seduction speech was to have been the much more simple "Fancy a quickie round the back of the bike shed?", but unfortunately the side-plot that would have developed from this, involving a rock to the back of the head, the cutting up of the body and the burial of the pieces, would have required an extra two days filming which the budget simply wouldn't allow for.

*I've a tad more time these days (not to mention Firefox and its built-in spell checker), so the typos and poor grammar are now fixed. You're welcome.

David Tennant as The Doctor (Article)

I wrote a fair number of reviews for Behind the Sofa, most of which, looking back, weren't as good as they could have been. And were surprisingly short. I had a habit of writing short stuff back then - presumably as I got bored and couldn't be bothered to keep going. How professional of me.

As a result, I'm not going to be showcasing everything from there. Some of those articles can stay buried, as far as I'm concerned. There were a couple, however, that think deserve a second airing. This one, looking at the relationship that The Doctor developed with Rose in both his incarnations, was based upon a discussion I had with someone from Outpost Gallifrey, and also included a sort-of review of Fear Her, an episode from David Tennant's first full series as The Doctor.

I could find the original posts if I really wanted to, but given that the forum's closing down soon, I won't bother.

People these days need a bit more than just a monster. A show needs more depth then that, and having the human element can give it a new edge, one which the mainstream public can identify with. RTD himself has said 'If there's planet X with monster Y, then I'm not interested. But put a human colony on planet X, and suddenly I'm interested', or something similar. He has a point. In a similar style most, if not all, programmes these days have story arcs. It keeps people interested and in a way it rewards them for watching by having a blazing conclusion. Doctor Who had an arc in the first series which paid off in 'The Parting of the Ways' (well I thought it did), and it has another one this series which will pay off in 'Doomsday'. And while I agree that at times that arc (occasionally) seems crowbar'd into the episodes, it doesn't make the rest of the story any less great. If you look at them as individual stories, they do stand up well. The writers aren't writing themselves into a corner, because there is no corner to write themselves into. That's the beauty of Doctor Who - you can do almost anything.

Sadly, some of the science (there's a scientific explanation behind all magic! ) from the first series has been lost in this second one. It's hard to say why exactly, but I personally think it has something to do with the main characters. Eccleston had a hard shell, if that makes sense. He was a lot tougher, more of a loner. And Billie, essentially, drew him out of that shell, almost made him into the father she'd lost. There was good chemistry with that relationship, and I enjoyed the series a lot because of it.

We don't have that chemistry with Tennant. He's not a loner, he has no shell, he's just a happy-go-lucky guy with few cares in the world who's out for a laugh. That doesn't make him bad, but it does make him a mate to Rose rather than a fatherly substitute. And when you have two friends who think they're invincible, they can get very, very irritating. I didn't notice it at first, but as the series went on, their smugness became more and more apparent.

The first time I really noticed it was in 'Rise of the Cybermen', when the Doctor & Rose got into the Tyler house working in the kitchen. Rose says some very bitchy things ("or maybe she's just a little bit thick") and that's really when it first hit me. I started noticing it a lot more when I re-watched the episodes after that, but since that point in RotC, it hit me that the two were really starting to irritate me. They ticked me off during 'Tooth & Claw' ("Where the hell have you been?" is NOT what I would yell at that point), during 'The Idiot's Lantern', at the beginning of 'The Impossible Planet' (not so much during the rest of the story, which I think is the strongest of the series), whenever we saw them in 'Love & Monsters' and throughout 'Fear Her', which is my biggest flaw with the episode. Truth be told, the episodes that work best are when the two are split up - 'The Girl in the Fireplace' and 'The Satan Pit', but they also have another reason for being great.

I'm going to pick on 'Love & Monsters' for a moment, if you don't mind, because I enjoyed that episode. For the first 32 minutes. Watch it again (if you can) and you'll see where it all falls apart, but for that first half-hour, things are good. Why? Because the story is focused on a person who isn't having a laugh. Elton is a real person, who has real feelings. He shares them with us, whether it be by telling us or through the quality of the actor's performance.

Hard as it may be, I can't really think of many times we get that with the Doctor or Rose this series. We got a couple with the Doctor while he's in the caves, and later climbing down the pit, during 'The Satan Pit' (as I call the 2-parter), and they were great. We also had a few in 'Girl in the Fireplace' (it's a really touching moment when he reads that letter), but sadly that's about it. And we had them all the time in the first series. That, I guess, was the magic of the first series that simply isn't there in the second. We've lost the emotional connection with the characters.

I mostly enjoyed 'Fear Her', although I will admit it wasn't perfect. You only need to read the other reviews her to see what other people thought of it. Hopefully that ridiculous air of smugness that's been surrounding the lead characters this series be addressed in the final episodes, but still... Anyway. Yes, 'Fear Her' - not perfect. But FAR from pathetic. There was no real monster, which was the whole point of the episode. It was all about one lost soul finding another, which is what the Doctor and Rose were when they first met, in a way. Eccleston was somewhat lost, and Rose was... well, struggling to find a meaning to it all. Then they found each other, and all was right. Until he turned into Tennant, and that connection was lost.

Here's hoping they can get something like that connection back in the third series