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Petri Wessman's weblog

The Doctor will see you now

I have to admit, I was a bit worried about Matt Smith as the new Doctor Who. He’s young, and I was afraid the show would go (even more) in the “zany young action-Doctor” direction. Besides, David Tennant left pretty huge shoes to fill.

Well, I recently watched the first episode of the new series, “The Eleventh Hour”, and can happily report that I needn’t have worried. I’m sold. Matt Smith is good, and he brings an “old soul in a young body” dynamic to the thing that I wasn’t at all expecting. He’s almost professorial, at times. In a “mad as a box of cats” way.

The fact that Karen Gillian, the new companion, is absolutely smoking hot doesn’t hurt, either.

“Hello! I’m the Doctor. Basically… run.”

Added: just watched the second episode. Good stuff.

…and a brilliant throwaway line: “A long time ago, tomorrow morning”

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Avatar and other stuff

We stayed cooped up inside for most of the New Year extended weekend; we originally intended to “do some stuff”, but the extra-chilly weather and general laziness put a stop to that. It was nice to just cozy up inside for days, don’t get me wrong. Anyway, yesterday we felt like doing something, so we decided to go see Avatar since a) it’s by Cameron who is generally awesome and b) it had been getting generally positive though slightly mixed reviews.

Well, it was very much worth seeing. It’s not a perfect movie; the plot is more than a tad predicable and follows the classic “boy meets girl and becomes hero” pattern a bit too much by-the-numbers. Maybe the most fitting thing to say about the plot is that it was serviceable; while it could have been (a lot) more original, it didn’t get in the way. But the visuals. Damn, they were jaw-dropping, especially when seen on the large screen with 3d. This is the best visualization of a science fiction world and native culture that I recall even seeing. Even though I knew that most of what I was seeing was computer-generated, my eyes were telling me the stuff was real. During the whole 3-hour span, there was only one short clip where the CGI was obviously CGI in a way that jarred me. That’s damn well done.

So. The complaints about the plot do have merit. But it’s not that bad, and this is one movie that is worth seeing for the visuals alone. They are just that good. The star of this movie is the planet Pandora.

(Added later: here is a hilarious plot summary. Spoiler alert, you might want to skip until you’ve seen the movie!)

Apart from that, I actually spent a large part of the mini-vacation coding and watching “TV” – coding in one window with a video player running in another. I’m working a hobby-project Exalted character generator web thingy. I’m not sure when if ever it will be ready, let alone ready for general use, but it’s one of those things – a way to learn lots of new tech while building something useful. I’m using a lot of bleeding-edge stuff, and Ruby on Rails of course. Among the toys are: authlogic, declarative_authorization, formtastic, css_dryer, jQuery & jQuery-UI, AJAX (with dynamic jQuery/Javascript generation via Rails views), and rspec test cases for all models and controllers. Fun stuff, and complicated enough to keep it interesting.

On the TV side, I managed to watch:

  • True Blood season two. Good stuff, and very interesting “bad guy”. Still among the best of the current crop of series. Not for the prudish, though.

  • Californication season two. Very good and very funny. Also not for the prudish, and I mean it: this show is mostly about sex. And about how people deal with it. I really like this show, because the characters are excellent and it somehow manages to be lewd & irreverent and warm & understanding at the same time. The characters screw up (and just screw) all the time, but you can’t help understanding and liking them at the same time.

  • The Doctor Who “specials” Waters of Mars and End of Time (parts 1 & 2). Watchable but nothing all that special. Will be interesting to see how the new Doctor works out, since these were the final ones with the (great!) David Tennant.

  • Some other bits and pieces… some Heroes (meh, but at least getting a bit better), Sanctuary (meh), etc. Nothing much worth commenting on.

Weather-challenged weekend

The weather acted up a bit over the weekend so we ended up mostly staying inside. I had planned on going swimming on Sunday, but the cold weather plus rainy drizzle didn’t make that option too tempting. Saturday was (partly) nice and sunny, though… but it was a bit cold, still. I tried reading outside a few times, but had to come in after a while due to the cold.

We want our summer back, dammit!

A not-too-bad weekend anyway; we made some experimental food (hot sweet-sour chicken on Saturday, Indian-style vegetarian wraps on Sunday) and did lots of “indoor rest and relaxation” stuff. I read a bit, played around with the newest (alpha) version of Ruby on Rails, and watched the second season of Torchwood and the latest batch of Doctor Who episodes. To my surprise, the Torchwood stuff turned out to be the best of the bunch; Doctor Who has been pretty mediocre lately, while Torchwood seems to slowly be getting into stride. It’s still not brilliant, but a lot better that season one imho.

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Bad Wolf Bay

Just watched the end of the “2nd” (really Nth) season of Doctor Who. Well, the end of the second season of the “new” Doctor Who. Again I can say “wow!”. It took a few episodes for the latest Doctor to work for me, but now I can say he was even better than the 2005 incarnation; the same sort of manic self-confidence, with a touch more humor thrown into the mix. I’d place the 2005 series at about the same level as this one – some not-that-hot episodes, but some absolutely fantastic ones. The standout this time was the “Impossible Planet” 2-parter, in my opinion. Nothing quite like the ultra-spooky “Empty Child” stuff from 2005, but I think the overall episode quality was a bit higher this time around. Or… I don’t know. Call it a draw.

I haven’t seen a single episode of the old Doctor Who. Maybe I should, some day.

But come on… only 13 episodes per season? It’s unfair!

“Exterminate!”

Added later: seems that this series was actually the 28th season of Doctor Who, altogether. Wow.

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