Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas, and all that

Full of cold, but just about compos mentis enough to blog last few days.

We had a hurriedly arranged trip up to Durham on Christmas Eve to meet friends and exchange gifts. We prepared for the worst, and after a nice lunch and chat, set off home again early in case the roads iced over. Turned out to be a hassle free trip, and we probably could have popped in to see my parents after all, but never mind. We'll be off to see them in a couple of days or so.

Christmas Day itself got off to an early(ish) but relaxed start - the Terror was the most laid-back six year old ever and initially quite happy to just empty stocking and unwrap two presents before saving the rest for when we were at Nana's. As morning went on, he became more and more excited though, culminating in a tantrum once we got there as we didn't drop everything to open all the presents there and then. He calmed down enough to be allowed to open a few more, and while he was pleased enough with the presents from Santa which were mostly exactly what he asked for, it was the look on his face when he opened the Ben 10 Alien Force annual that really made the day for his daddy and me.

Lunch was fantastic, as always (Nana does really good roast dinners) and the boy even discovered he liked Brussels sprouts. Wine, food, more presents - yeah. All good fun. Then came the inevitable building of his Lego Power Miner Mine Mech and Clone Trooper Walker, while I mostly dozed under dual effect of wine and cold. My presents included Moon, Unseen Academicals and hydrophobic sand from my beloved, and the wonderous Grandville by Bryan Talbot, as well as too many other cool stuff to mention. And some chocolate, of course.

Then we all settled down to watch TV. Well, us adults did, the Terror kept playing with his Lego. The much-awaited animated adaption of The Gruffalo as as delightful as it ought to be - beautiful, sedate with flurries of action and simply impeccable voice casting. That was definitely a winner. The much-awaited Christmas special of Doctor Who was, by contrast.....odd. It lacked the bang of the usual specials, which may be no bad thing, but I felt it fell a bit short of the epic build-up it was presumably aiming for. This is not to say there weren't parts that had me squee-ing in delight - Wilf was magnificent as ever, John Simm sold the Master's insanity wonderfully and, well, Timothy Friggin' Dalton, people! The ending was certainly jaw-droppingly over-the-top if nothing else. But as a whole, it just seemed a bit...messy. The pacing felt wrong, the Doctor was too subdued and didn't really do anything, too many questions were asked with not many answers - which might all be attributed to being only the first of a two-parter, but it fills me with dread that next week's finale might also be too rushed and fail to satisfy. I suspect if this had been the penultimate episode of a series, I'd have been quite happy with it, but it actually felt overly long for the story that it did tell. A rewatch might also be in order. As is usual with new Who (and Russell T. Davies' specials in particular) opinion online seems to be heavily divided over whether it was any good or not. Usually, my opinion is "sure, flawed, but it was fun", and I think that was the problem - Wilf and Time Lords aside, it didn't feel fun. Of course that might have been the cold, and maybe if I rewatch it when I'm feeling better I might enjoy it more. Or maybe it just wasn't that good. Now I'm just rambling...

After heading home yesterday, and finally getting boy to bed, I gave parents a quick ring and then huddled down to watch Poirot. Beautiful, and wonderful acting again, but by heck, that was a convoluted plot. I never tire of watching David Suchet as Poirot though - he really is excellent - and John Hannah of course. Even though that, and the desert archaeology, did lead to me thinking of it as "Poirot in The Mummy".

This morning we all slept in, nearly nine o'clock before boy managed to wake me up. Lazed around all day, watching cartoons and reading Grandville - steampunk noir with anthropomorphic animals. "Awesome" doesn't quite do it justice. Plotwise it might be nothing exceptional (detective investigated murder and uncovers high-level conspiracy), but the War on Terror allegories add a nice topical layer that ties in beautifully to the Franco-Anglo antipathy in this alt-history where we lost the Napoleonic wars. Actually, does it count as alt-history if all the characters are animals? Bah - who cares! This book is just bursting with imagination and truly gorgeous visuals. And The Adventures of Tintin as the opium-dreams of washout druggie Snowy? I nearly wept with pleasure.

Built and played another of the Terror's haul from Nana: the Lego game Lava Dragon. The boy was a bit disappointed the dragon didn't really play a part, but it's a neat little game with the wonderful mechanic that you build the dice as you play. Main criticism is that it's a bit too short, and if someone gets ahead then they're likely to win. Both these could be dealt with by building a bigger mountain to play on though....the true joy of these Lego games is the easy customisation!

So that's been my festive season so far. Sorry for the rambly post, trying to work on getting better at reviewing stuff. Hoping to watch Hamlet, not sure if boy will keep quiet for it though. Maybe I'll post a rambling review of that too....

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