Before I properly get going here, we’re not going to talk about specific plot points but anyone reading this before watching The Woman Who Fell To Earth for themselves might want to rectify that situation before continuing – if nothing else, you’ll at least be better armed to disagree with me! So for everyone still reading… now the default disclaimer is out of the way, here we go with a new season of Doctor Who, a new Doctor in Jodie Whittaker and three new companions all in need of an introduction.
My Beloved and I sat down to watch it together and enjoyed meeting all of these characters for the first time, learning more about them and finding out how they were connected to and interacted with each other; obviously we knew who the actors were going to be well in advance because that’s how the hype machine works these days but it’s always fun to actually see them in action as it were. That said, it’s been a few years since I last visited Sheffield but I don’t remember it being quite that dark and forbidding… perhaps I just managed to avoid the more ropey, alien-invaded areas?
The response online has apparently been mixed and I’ve already seen this episode described on social media as the “worst opening of a new series” amongst other things, but that rather implies a lack of previous Doctor Who experience on the part of the commenter… this was a post regeneration story and those have always been relatively weak in part because they need to dedicate time to establishing the new Doctor’s character. Other elements tend to be left aside to make room for that process, so classic ‘Who brought us “gems” like Time And The Rani, which I’d argue that still stands as the worst opening of a new season and is incredibly unlikely to ever lose that dubious “honour”. And don’t get me started on The Twin Dilemma…!
So the villain was okay but two dimensional enough to slip under a badly hung door and I felt that the resolution of Twice Upon A Time’s cliff hanger was something of a letdown (oh dear… sorry about that) but at least easily retconned, but as a whole The Woman Who Fell To Earth did what needed to be done in a more than reasonable fashion. The companions will no doubt be fleshed out as the season progresses but are already interesting enough that I want to find out more, the story was a “fun romp” and the new Doctor is a little scatterbrained but charming and likeable, with lots of energy which makes her a good counterpoint to Capaldi’s more brooding and grumpy rendition.
The new version of the theme works nicely with lots of Radiophonic Workshop overtones – I’m thinking it’s an improvement over the last season personally – and I’m very interested to see where things go especially after the cliffhanger and the roll call of upcoming guest cast – again, some people on the interwebs have complained that they felt this showed a lack of confidence on the BBC’s part but it’s no different to the season-wide trailers we’ve seen previously and actually less likely to spoil future episodes in the long run – so roll on next Sunday evening and, whilst I’ sort of expecting a certain missing element to remain so for a while longer, we also have that reveal to look forward to.
I joked in the scroller for Demo Factory 2018 last week about my X entry ending up as just a couple of parts with loads of effect presets to pad it out, but the party is only a month away now and progress on my demo really hasn’t really been… well, progressing. Part of the problem is my damned shoulder, it’s been “frozen” since the end of 2017 so, whilst working at a computer isn’t an issue in the short term, the longer sessions required for larger projects are proving problematic, leaving me in need of painkillers. I’ll have to see how things go over the next week or so and, if it’s not going anywhere fast, perhaps consider a “plan B”.
In slightly happier news I have a new toy which is pictured above. It’s a Pi1541 and is essentially a Raspberry Pi model 3B+ wearing a magical hat that, with the right software installed, makes it pretend to be a Commodore 1541 floppy drive including emulating the electronics. I haven’t had much time to test things since the hat only arrived in the post this afternoon from Australia, but the Pi’s micro SD card has been set up and I’ve tried loading a couple of demos on the C64; from what I’ve seen so far at least, it knocks the SD2IEC into a cocked hat despite being not much more expensive. It’s intended for use on my VIC 20 but I’ve been keeping an eye out for a C16 or Plus/4 although that search hasn’t been particularly fruitful, one of the latter arrived a few weeks ago but won’t even power up so is going back – which will be able to utilise it as well.
Finally, something interesting which made me happy as it floated past in my Twitter feed this morning was a YouTube video posted by Adrian Black about the C64C he was given which had spent a decade braving the elements of Oregon to the point where a colony of ants had moved in. The video itself is a heartwarming tale of a little 8-bit that could but one thing that made me smile was Adrian’s demo of choice for testing the machine was SIDBurners 7; only the Nostalgia intro appears in his video but the main menu code on that one was mine!
Things have been a bit… meh recently. I caught a cold at the end of last month and am notoriously bad at recovering from illness so didn’t sit down to do as much programming as I’d wanted to; I have done some code on a scrolling shoot ’em up which is for the Hex Files rewrite although it isn’t anywhere near finished just yet. It’s called Rubidius because even work-in-progress projects need a name and is running with some unused graphics which currently look like this…
…but there’s a distinct possibility that things will change as the project progresses. It’s deliberately a simple game internally – the attack wave driver is more primitive than the code in Edge Grinder for example – but I’m avoiding things like unrolled loops or self modifying code. Keeping things simple has, rather ironically, been a little complicated since I wanted to scroll the colour RAM but still keep things PAL and NTSC compatible.
Andy Vaisey has graciously agreed to compose the music for both Rubidius and the other game I have in mind which is a reworking of the original Hex Files sprite dodging one, although I haven’t randomly plucked a name from the periodic table and flipped a letter or two out for the title of that one yet.