I’ve never written a post like this before, where I just talk about all the bits and pieces of the week which haven’t (and probably won’t) make it into their own articles. My intention is to do this every week as a form of logging and journaling, but we’ll see how that goes.
In addition to the new episodes of Doctor Who to be found coming out every Monday morning in Perth, my younger daughters and I have been watching through the end of Matt Smith’s episodes in Season Seven. Even though this particular run of stories are not my favorite, Matt Smith is a favorite amongst the three of us. Meanwhile, the current iteration of the show has been something of a disappointment for us. I don’t think any of us blame Jodie Whittaker or the fact that the Doctor is a woman (it’s annoying that one must point this out for fear of being lumped in with some sort of perceived or actual mysogynistic subset of fans). Rather, it is the construction of the plots, particularly in resolutions, and the inability to effectively develop the cast, that is the source of the let-down. Indeed, my opinion-filled 15 year old has occasionally taken to distinguishing between these two simultaneous viewings as “good Doctor Who” and “bad Doctor Who,” although I am hopeful that we get a good finale.
But I’ve already written about that elsewhere. I haven’t been keeping strict track but this week I think we made our way through Hide, Journey to the Center of the Tardis, The Crimson Horrow and Nightmare in Silver. All of them had enjoyable bits, although none are classics. With Hide, I remember contrasting it with the current series in that in the first fifteen minutes of this decent episode, I had a better handle on Clara as a character than I have on Graham, Ryan or Yaz after nearly two years of stories.
Nightmare in Silver is the most disappointing story on the rewatch, especially when the ending revealed that the characters could have killed the Cybermen and safely abandoned the planet pretty much whenever they wanted to. Clara’s “impossible girl” arc is getting pretty tired by this point of the series, so I’m looking forward to wrapping it up next with The Name of the Doctor. My girls don’t know the answer to this so it will be fun to re-discover it with them.
We only got forty minutes into it but my wife and I started to re-watch Tootsie, a movie I’ve wanted to own for a long time, and which I finally bought with a Christmas iTunes gift. The Sydney Pollack-helmed, Dustin Hoffman-starring vehicle is a strong piece of work. It takes it’s time getting to it’s main subject, which is a sign of the times, I guess, but the wait is worth it. Indeed, it’s a great script co-authored by Larry Gelbart, which weaves together several subplots really well. I’m not quite ready to expose my kids to this but I’m looking forward to the day I do—I think they’ll love the big “live-performance” at the movie’s climax.
The Well of Lost Plots
In the world of books, I’ve also been taking my kids through Jaspar Fforde’s Thursday Next series, slowly and over time. Currently, we are working on the third novel, The Well of Lost Plots. The premise of the book is that an English detective who focuses on literature-based crimes (yes, really) finds herself living inside books, helping to stop crimes which take place in the fictional world. Because of events that took place in previous books, Thursday is basically hiding out from the “real world” by temporarily taking the place of a supporting character in a little-read detective novel, and spending her free time working with “jurisfiction” (the group that polices the fictional world) to investigate crimes and generally keep the peace. The book (like the rest in the series) are full of one witty or clever set piece after another. In recent chapters, Thursday has helped to manage a rage-management class for the entire cast of Wuthering Heights (“My name is Edgar Linton, and I hate and despise Heathcliff because…” etc), dealt with fictional vermin called grammasites which can damage the structure of a story, and attempted to help educate “Generics” (new, blank-slate characters) who are living with her so they can eventually develop a personality and find a good placement in a popular novel.
What’s interesting about the book, besides everything else, is the fact that we’re halfway through and only now beginning to get a sense of what the book’s plot actually is. There’s been chapter after chapter of Thursday just dealing with different incidents and situations in the book-world. Because I’ve read it before, I know that some of those things are building toward a big story point, but if you didn’t know any better you might think it was all just a random series of events. It actually reminds me of something from Robert McKee’s seminal book for screen writers, Story (which I’ve only read part of), where he talks about one of the functions of subplots is to open up a story when you need to take longer than usual before you hit your inciting incident.
I actually made mention of this when I was teaching on a journalism school in Youth With A Mission this past week, which became the thing that took the most of my time. My topic was Storytelling, which is something I’ve never taught on specifically before. Certainly, I have talked about it when I’ve taught on Scriptwriting (which I’ve done many times), but the more generic “Storytelling” has never been my overall focus. I found it a bit tricky to figure out to bring practical exercises to things since I was tempted to feel like I was trying to prepare people to teach on any and every format of storytelling. The week was actually part of the student’s learning about journalism, which is something I have only a superficial knowledge of, so I had to trust that the course leader would establish the necessary connections between the content I was sharing and the overall purpose of the school.
Anyway, she seemed happy with the input I gave and so did the students, so I guess it was all fine!
There are a couple of projects that I was looking at specifically this week. One is a two minute piece called No Entry which I wrote and directed, and finished editing on Friday. It’s cute and has some funny dialogue, and I hope I can share it here soon. The other is an untitled thing (so far) which is a sequel to Lost in Spaces, a film I made for our YWAM staff retreat last year. My Friend Rod and I looking to make a follow-up, for our next staff retreat which is coming up very soon. I might have a lot to day about it next week. We’ll see!