iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Yes it's snowing here too in big chaotic swirls of snowflakes. Sadly the flakes vanish into the tarmac as if continuing to fall unimpeded towards the centre of the globe. Even on the garden the snow is only able to cling on grimly for about half an hour before melting away into airy nothing. We're still seeing the odd flurry, in between bouts of brilliant sunshine when the damp grass looks startlingly green.

Since I went out to, ahem, party hearty immediately after last night's Doctor Who season premiere I haven't really had a chance to comment very much, but it's been thoroughly dissected here, here, here and here amongst other places.

Belated spoilers for Doctor Who - Episode 1: Partners in Crime )

Next week's episode does look much better, but then I'm pre-disposed to like anything set in Pompeii.

Who

Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:05 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
Nice cinema trailer for new Doctor Who, Season 4 here. It still has Catherine Tate in it, sadly. There's only so long I can remain in denial about her. It also has some significant returning faces, and various nice shots of Rome, Ood and Sontarans. Oh, and Bernard Cribbins. Quite well done, all told.

We've been continuing to watch various old Doctor Who stories recently, with mixed success. I mentioned last time how much I enjoyed Tom Baker's debut story 'Robot'. Sadly 'Planet of Evil' from the following year is less impressive.1 The setting is atmospheric, especially the weird alien jungle, but it just lacks the necessary character banter from the Doctor to lift the so-so plot. Likewise Pertwee's debut story 'Spearhead from Space' manages to be simultaneously snappily edited and draggingly slow, which is disappointing. Even the Autons can't really lift it from tedium.

We then progressed to the 'Beneath the Surface' box set. 'The Silurians', despite being very long, is consistently entertaining with good characterisation, decent location filming, Fulton Mackay, Geoffrey Palmer and a vague attempt at moral complexity. Okay the Silurians themselves look crap and the young, headstrong one has a hilarious voice but otherwise it works very well. The sequel tale 'The Sea Devils' is less good but still quite enjoyable. You can't go too far wrong with Roger Delgado and Sea Devils, and in true Pertwee fashion the story is stuffed to the gills (geddit?) with location filming and speedboat chases. The end of the -ahem- "trilogy", Davison's 'Warriors of the Deep' is both better and worse than I remembered. Better in that it was a tiny bit less polystyrene than I recalled, but worse in that the Silurian and Sea Devil dialogue is nothing but undiluted exposition and cliche of the worst kind, delivered at about four words per minute. "Soon.. we.. will.. have... our... revenge..." kind of stuff. (Also, why are the Silurians calling themselves Silurians when we know from 'The Sea Devils' that it was a misnomer? And why do they talk about "Our Sea Devil brothers"? Don't they have a name other than a pejorative nickname some sailors slapped on them in the 1970s?)

I'm enjoying old Who overall but it's a very hit and miss experience. My boss's 6 year old boy was apparently sat down in front of an old Tom Baker episode recently and immediately started complaining that the monster looked fake. Sign of the times.

--
1 Although a few moments gave me powerful deja vu from watching the show in the 1970s, and from reading the novelisation -- it's surprising how often that happens. Those novelisations were a big part of my childhood.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
So who were that competent, well-adjusted bunch of people and what have they done with Torchwood?

Brief non-spoilers for BBC2's Torchwood - 'Reset' )

Television

Jan. 11th, 2008 06:05 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
I'm not normally one for fan-made videos setting TV clips to music but this one of Firefly/Serenity to the music of Wicked has Joss Whedonian and Tim Minearian endorsement, so I went to look. It's extremely well done.

< insert obligatory *sob* for Firefly here >

While I'm here, the 2007 in Review piece in Strange Horizons has a very small contribution by yours truly, in which I inexplicably can't find anything better on TV last year than Doctor Who. Three times in a row. It's just wrong. Fortunately everyone else is very erudite and reads books and stuff. Also [livejournal.com profile] pikelet is insane but you knew that.

Of course The Wire is far better than any SF-related TV currently airing but that doesn't count for Strange Horizons. My Season 4 DVD arrived today, and Season 5 has just started in the US. It's just so very satisfying, layered and intelligent and you should all be watching it but will you lot listen? *Will you*?

In lieu of any other good TV and with anyone who could potentially write some being on strike, we've resorted to DVDs. We've been hugely enjoying Cracker on DVD, a series we missed in its entirety when it was on TV. Robbie Coltrane is fantastic, and the writing is incredibly sharp, with a real interest in psychology and themes rather than just the surface process of investigation. This definitely puts it a notch above most other ostensibly 'crime' related television which seems more formulaic with each passing year. We've only the final one-off special and the more recent Cracker reunion TV movie to go.

We've also been bingeing on old Doctor Who. The Time Warrior is splendid, and gives me my fix of Sontarans in a way that The Sontaran Experiment just didn't accomplish. The Claws of Axos is, sadly, complete rubbish despite featuring some iconic images that have stuck with me since childhood. In contrast, Tom Baker's debut story Robot is great. Yes, even the rubbish FX are great. All of this has made me so nostalgic that I've rashly ordered the Beneath the Surface box set, despite it having the really terrible Warriors of the Deep in it.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
Given the astonishing constraints of time and budget that a little vignette like this must face, I have to give Steven Moffat kudos for pulling off as much characterisation and even perfunctory plot as he did.

Spoilers for the Doctor Who Children In Need Special 2007 )

Edit )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
These classic Doctor Who aliens will be in Season 4. That's good.

No more Deadwood. That's bad.

David Tennant is likely to stay on for a fifth season of Doctor Who following the "gap year" of three TV movies. That's good.

They're remaking Near Dark, a film only released in 1987. The Horror remake bandwagon careens, driverless, through yet more innocent pedestrians. (That's bad, by the way.)

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
My parents came up the other week and brought with them a load of old tat from my childhood that was unnecessarily taking up room in their house.

It included this fine piece of 100% pure nostalgia, biro scribbles and all:



And there's more... )

I don't even remember owning a book called The Adventures of K9 and Other Mechanical Creatures by Terrance Dicks. I'm impressed that Radio Times felt the need to produce a Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special. But most of all I'm awed by the absolute cack that passed for content in old Doctor Who annuals: exciting find-the-centre-of-the-maze puzzles; quizzes about the solar system; inane prose stories with dodgy illustrations done by someone who'd once had Jon Pertwee's face described to him; comics by someone who had missed the aforementioned description. It's all here.

Unless you had exactly the same childhood as me this will all mean nothing to you (oh Vienna) but for me this is pure gold.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
My boss at work has a five year old son who has inexplicably missed out on Doctor Who so far but is now devouring the Christopher Eccleston series. He's loving it. She was working at home yesterday when he ran into the room excitedly shouting "The spaceship has a pig flying it!"

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
Following last year's exciting Doctor Who Season Report Card, here comes the inevitable follow-up:

BEST
1. Blink (5/5)
2. Human Nature (Part 1) (5/5)
3. The Family of Blood (Part 2) (5/5)

4. Daleks in Manhattan (Part 1) (4/5)

5. The Lazarus Experiment (3/5)
6. Smith and Jones (3/5)
7. The Shakespeare Code (3/5)
8. Utopia (3/5)

9. Evolution of the Daleks (Part 2) (2/5)
10. The Sound of Drums (2/5)
11. Gridlock (2/5)

12. Last of the Time Lords (1/5)
13. 42 (1/5)
WORST

I maintain that this year was a lot more solid than Season 2. If I total up my scores I gave both seasons 39/65, but that doesn't really reflect how I feel about them. Last year saw very few episodes that weren't marred by a silly ending or some moment that felt embarrassingly juvenile. It was that awkward feeling of having to squint slightly to ignore the bad bits in otherwise enjoyable episodes. This year the episodes that were solid were consistently solid from beginning to end, and it's surprising how much that lifts the 'felt' quality of the show. Martha's occasional slips into unrequited love were also a lot less annoying than the cloying Doctor-Rose dynamic of season 2.

Then of course was the run of three superb episodes in a row from 'Human Nature' to 'Blink', which showcased everything that works about the series and without which I'd be feeling less charitable about the overall lack of excellence that surrounded them. I suspect that these three episodes are pivotal to my enjoyment of the season, but they're not the whole story. I was already feeling more positive about the year before they aired.

As for the dregs, while there were a few episodes that required squinting of Olympic proportions, there were actually no more stinkers than last year, and even a nominally poor offering like 'Evolution of the Daleks' was sneakingly enjoyable and nostalgic; unlike, say, 'Rise of the Cybermen'. Only '42' failed to engage me on almost any level, although even there Martha's scenes in the life pod provided at least something of interest.

I'm still trying to decide whether 'The Last of the Time Lords' falls into the stupid-but-fun category, or was a full-on unwatchable stinker of the 'New Earth' variety. Martha did significantly help the episode, as did the epilogue, but as the season finale it ended the year on an unfortunately sour note.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
I'm even more rushed than usual this week so here goes the stream of consciousness:

Spoilers for Doctor Who - Utopia )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Very much more of the same, but in the good sense of continuing the same themes and deepening them.

Spoilers for Doctor Who - The Family of Blood )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
Not the answer to life, the universe, or anything else.

Spoilers for Doctor Who - 42 )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
We had guests around last night so here's my slightly belated review.

Spoilers for Doctor Who - The Lazarus Experiment )

Watching the teaser for the next episode I swiftly came to the conclusion that it would be the most surreal episode ever. I now realise that it was actually a teaser for the whole second half of the season, which may explain why it seemed quite so insanely packed with different elements. While it's impossible to get a clear idea from a random mish-mash of scenes, it does leave me with a good feeling about what's still to come.

Reading

Apr. 12th, 2007 07:35 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Sandman)
Novelist David Mitchell somewhat disconcertingly does The Guardian's equivalent of one of those non-interviews you see in the sidebar of cheap TV guides or old editions of Smash Hits. In it he states: "I'm a big Doctor Who fan. I've bought the box set and worked my way through the entire oeuvre. David Tennant is my favourite Doctor; he is brilliant."

His next novel is apparently set in the 18th century. I enjoyed Cloud Atlas, but not enough to read anything more by Mitchell in the near future, I think. I feel like a bit of a novel-reading fraud at the moment. I've only read three books this year, four if you count December: River of Gods by Ian McDonald, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, and Coalescent and Exultant by Steven Baxter. I'm currently on Barbara Hambly's Circle of the Moon, before heading back to Baxter's Transcendent.

My wife, meanwhile, has ploughed her way through: Timothy Zhan's The Green and the Grey, Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God, Mary Gentle's Ilario, Nick Sagan's Edenborn, Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, Eleanor Arnason's Ring of Swords and A Woman of the Iron People, C.J.Cherryh's Deliverer and Port Eternity and Hal Duncan's Vellum. She's currently on World War Z. Ten books since the start of January. Mind you, she said Vellum almost did for her.

I'm well aware that there are those on my Friends List (*cough*[livejournal.com profile] coalescent*cough*) who've probably read another couple of novels in the time it took me to compose this entry. To which I have to wonder: how? Is there some ancient art of time dilation that everyone is hiding from me? You can tell me if there is. I promise to use it only for Good and not get involved in any time paradoxes, valuable life lessons or exciting adventures with dinosaurs.

Thought: maybe if I spent less time posting rubbish like this and more time reading...

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
David Tennant is on board Doctor Who for the entire fourth season (following the upcoming third season)--according to the possibly unreliable Daily Mirror at least (via Outpost Gallifrey). This comes as a mild relief to me if true: as frustratingly variable as Tennant's performance can sometimes be, the last thing the show needs is a succession of very short-lived Doctors. This way it gets the chance to settle down a bit.

I just caught Jonathan Ross on BBC1 praising the first couple of episodes of the new series following a press screening. I've no idea what this actually means about the quality of the episodes.

Meawhile those who want to avoid Doctor Who spoilers should avoid the Sci-Fi Wire website, whose idea of spoiler space appears to be putting "and (spoiler alert!) Darth Vader turns out to be Luke's Dad" in the middle of a sentence. Not so much a spoiler warning as a spoiler sucker punch. (I should know better since they're also one of those genre news sites who regard plot rumours as news).

Interesting snippet from Alfonso Cuaron on the Children of Men DVD in a brief interview over at www.aintitcool.com:

AICN: You had quite a few screenwriters on the movie. Can you talk about how that evolved?

ALFONSO CUARON: ...I don’t want to say anything else about all this amount of writers… whoever has read a book by PD James has a credit as a writer here. This screenplay was written by Tim Sexton and myself. If I would credit another writer, it would be Clive Owen...From the moment that he got involved. Tim and I we worked with Clive a couple of weeks in a hotel room in New York, focusing his character. His instincts were so great that then we asked, “Can we pester you with the rest of the script?” He (worked with us) with that and he was amazing.

Hollyweird

Mar. 16th, 2007 08:00 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Third Man)
Fans of Sherlock Holmes be afraid. It's not that a big screen adaptation casting Holmes as a more "edgy" action-oriented hero is doomed to crassness but... well, quite. The quote about "playing up his skills as a bare-knuckle boxer and expert swordsman as he goes about solving crimes" does not fill me with confidence. Then again, the world has already witnessed the astonishingly poor yet strangely entertaining Young Sherlock Holmes.

Further weirdness: how does the inestimable Cate Blanchett in the fourth Indiana Jones movie sound? In other casting news for that film, has anyone ever seen Shia LaBeouf and [livejournal.com profile] immortalradical at the same time?

Meanwhile Stephen Fry is writing a script for Peter Jackson. The world has gone mad, I tell you. Sadly it seems Mr Fry didn't have the time to write his promised episode of Doctor Who. Sniff. (The trailer for the new series of Doctor Who is now up at the official site and looks much more promising than the last one, once you get past the painfully hokey intro.)

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
"Back with a Bang!" You see what they did there? Still it's a nice promo image.

Doctor Who Season 3 Promo

Can't say I'm enthused about a comedy Doctor Who skit on Comic Relief featuring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, though. Leaving aside the fact that they already did this for the Christmas Special, weren't they going to great pains not to reduce the new show to a light entertainment parody of itself in the way that happened to the old series? (Or am I missing the point and it's just David Tennant not Doctor Who?)

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
A few things that caught my eye recently:

Joss Whedon is no longer writing the Wonder Woman film, a movie he's been trying to script for months now. I can't say I'm devastated since Wonder Woman is not the most exciting character in the world, but I feel reasonably certain that Joss's take on her would have been more interesting than the alternatives.

The Buffy: The Vampire Slayer comic overseen by Joss Whedon as a hypothetical eighth season of the TV Series is due soon. He talks about it (with spoilers) on the extremely hyperactive MTV.com. The comic artwork at darkhorse.com looks rather nice, including this lovely painting of Willow.

Meanwhile Outpost Gallifrey have reported a couple of pieces of Torchwood 'news' recently. One is the potentially good news (on the relative scale of "good" in which Torchwood operates) that Sapphire and Steel creator PJ Hammond is writing another episode next year, following up on "Small Worlds" last year. Disappointingly he also mentions that talks with ITV about a new Sapphire and Steel series broke down, so I'm sure we can look forward to more of Jack and Gwen wandering around pretending to be David McCallum and Joanna Lumley. More bizarrely, there are proposals afoot to name Cardiff's new Shopping Centre after Torchwood, a move that wouldn't make the organisation noticeably less secret.

On the Doctor Who Audio Drama front the site also reports that: "The 100th Release of the Big Finish Doctor Who range is Earthstorm by award-winning author Stephen Baxter, which features the Sixth Doctor and is due to be released late September. Baxter is one of Britain's most respected hard science-fiction novelists, his books include The Time Ships, which was an authorised sequel to H.G. Wells' influential classic The Time Machine."

In what I'm sure is a very patronising attitude to Doctor Who I find this slightly incongruous, not least because I'm currently reading Baxter's Coalescent. No, not that [livejournal.com profile] coalescent.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Studio 60 near cancellation. Sorkin's frustratingly misfiring series is seeing a massive ratings drop-off from Heroes, and looks to be not long for this world. As the article says: "There's nothing wrong with the acting, directing, or dialogue writing. But the premise is faulty. No one cares whether a bunch of over caffeinated, well off yuppies, some with expensive drug habits, put on a weekly comedy sketch show from Los Angeles." Disappointing, but true.

Spoilers for Heroes Episodes 1 to 5 )

Speaking of Wonderfalls, showrunner Tim Minear's new series Drive has the greenlight for 13 episodes (12 plus the already filmed pilot). Given Minear's track record with Firefly, Wonderfalls and The Inside I doubt that anyone would be taking bets on this show outlasting 13 episodes. I can't say that the premise of Drive - an illegal cross-country road race focusing on an ensemble cast of characters - fills me with excitement; it comes off sounding like a cross between Cannonball Run and Lost. However Minear has a great eye for characterisation and a sharp genre sensibility, and I can see the potential for the show to subvert its premise in interesting ways. Mention of the excellent David Fincher movie The Game bodes well in that respect.

Spoilers for Torchwood Episode 3 )

New Who

Aug. 10th, 2006 07:23 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
In honour of Strange Horizons' Tenth Doctor Week, with which I have no affiliation of any kind, the BBC have put up a few pics of the Doctor and new assistant Martha Jones on their website. Nice, although not as nice as this. I think I prefer the brown suit to the blue, but the red plimsoles are a nice touch, and it's good to know that the Doctor cares deeply about colour-coordinating with his companion's outfit.



Plus a press release. Is it wrong that of all the episodes mentioned, the thing that got me most excited was the episode set in 1930s New York?

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
So I could feign professional indifference and tell you that I really don't mind if you read my review of School Reunion, part of the Doctor Who week that Strange Horizons is running. But it would be a transparent lie which would shame both of us. And you wouldn't want that, would you?

There are also some great reviews from some other fine people coming up later in the week.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
Nicked from [livejournal.com profile] parma_violets: Doctor Who Season report card with a score out of 5:

BEST
1. The Girl in the Fireplace (5/5)

2. School Reunion (4/5)
3. The Satan Pit (4/5)
4. Tooth and Claw (4/5)

5. Doomsday (3/5)
6. The Impossible Planet (3/5)
7. The Idiot's Lantern (3/5)
8. Army of Ghosts (3/5)
9. Love & Monsters (3/5)
10. Fear Her (3/5)

11. The Age of Steel (2/5)

12 Rise of the Cybermen (1/5)
13. New Earth (1/5)
WORST

I think this sums up my feelings on the season: a handful of great episodes, but also a high proportion of merely middling episodes, or good episodes sunk by bad endings. Even in the mid-range there were some truly great moments, but the overall package wasn't consistent enough.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
Patchy, melodramatic and a huge anticlimax.

But enough about the England match, what about Doctor Who?

Spoilers for this week's Doctor Who... )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Third Man)
I'm a little late with this one as we didn't get back until late last night.

Spoilers for this week's Doctor Who... )

Telly

May. 13th, 2006 11:05 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Neil Gaiman, he so rightheaded. And just to remind Maj you all, Doctor Who is on at 7 p.m. again tonight. (It's even earlier next week, at 6.35, which will no doubt make a massive dent in the ratings.)

EDIT: Outpost Gallifrey informs me that at 8.15 p.m. on BBC4 is Time Shift: The Time Shift series celebrates the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who's Cybermen this Saturday "with a look at the rollercoaster fortunes of robots, androids and cyborgs in fact and fantasy; from the Flash Gordon serials via The Six Million Dollar Man to Marvin the Paranoid Android. For decades we were alternately warned that robots could take over the planet, and promised that they would liberate us from the drudgery of everyday labour. But in the real world scientists struggled to design robots that could even climb the stairs. Yet the continued appeal of the Star Wars films, the recent remake of the TV classic A for Andromeda and the return of the Cybermen to our screens all prove that there's artificial life in the machine men yet. Among the contributors exploring whether we're on the cusp of the true robot age are actor Anthony Daniels, aka C-3PO in Star Wars; British SF visionary Brian Aldiss; writer Kim Newman; and a host of real-life robotics scientists." The programme airs on Saturday 13 May at 8.15pm on BBC4, repeated at 11.50pm.

Meanwhile, the ever unreliable AICN reports that Veronica Mars may be renewed... but that Veronica Mars may NOT be renewed.... (This is classic AICN: all rumour, no content.)

Meanwhile Deadwood may be on its last legs after its upcoming third season. That's a real shame. Season 2 took ages to get started, but it had some flashes of brilliance and Season 1 was just superb.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
There's a new Police poster around Sunderland (and possibly elsewhere) warning of the potential penalties for keying a car. Apparently you could be "DNA'd". Yes, "To DNA" is now a verb. As is "To key" now I come to think of it. Not sure about that apostrophe either, although "DNAd" would look even stranger.

Other random things I have failed to mention recently:

The new Snow Patrol album is quite alarmingly anthemic, but has quite a few strong tracks amidst its blatant commercialism. I'm still making up my mind about it.

Pearl Jam's new album cements in my mind that I really don't like a good 50% of their material, and am unclear why I continue buying their stuff.

Bones is getting increasingly enteraining as the snark levels increase between the regulars. The opening credits are really annoying though, since they randomly fling actors names at you accompanied by images of entirely different actors. You'd be forgiven for thinking David Boreanaz was actually called Jonathan Adams.

The West Wing is really hard to watch with a 3 second lip-synch delay, but this week's US episode was still very entertaining. I think it's the series finale next week.

Speaking of which, I've obtained (via the pixies, don't you know) the Veronica Mars S2 finale but we haven't got round to watching it yet. I've been enjoying this show a lot recently, despite the stop-start vagueness of the season arc.

Woo! Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut. 50 minutes of extra footage and apparently a good deal more coherent from a character standpoint, this is Ridley Scott's original cut of the film, not some cobbled together kitchen-sink-for-the-sake-of-it version. I liked the theatrical cut so we're definitely after this. It's due September 11th in the UK, a memorable date if nothing else, but it's out on 23rd May in the US, and the UK art is not a patch on the US art.

In Scotland? Visit the scenic Torchwood House and its famous observatory. More information at www.visittorchwood.co.uk. Nicely done.

Brains!

May. 9th, 2006 10:15 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Cyberman)
Surely this is way too disturbing an image for the cover of the Radio Times? Rather cool though, and bodes well for the two-parter.



Meanwhile, in related You Know You've Been Watching Too Much Doctor Who When... news, we parked behind a Renault ESPACE today, and at first glance I thought it said "E-Space". This is so nerdy a thing most people wouldn't even know what I was talking about1. Me so geeky.

1 Janet says: "Wasn't that the place that was all white, and they lost a companion there?" Best. Wife. Ever.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Cyberman)
Oh that was much better. Still very much in the entertaining romp vein, but a much more effective slice of pulp fiction than last week's episode. It was also noticeably darker, which always pleases me.

Spoilers for this week's Doctor Who )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Cyberman)
No time to post anything sensible but it didn't exactly inspire me.

Spoilers for Doctor Who 2x01 )

Sideshows

Apr. 9th, 2006 10:40 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Got up early this morning. We sat and drank coffee and watched the end of the Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story "Carnival of Monsters" on UK Gold+1. Very creaky production values but quite entertaining, and a very civilised way to start the day.

Then we flicked over to the Heaven and Earth Show on BBC1, which was staging a small 'debate' between a Creationist, a Christian, and Geneticist Steve Jones. *bangs head on desk* It may take me several hours to stop ranting.

It was your typical example of the Creationist planting a few choice seeds of doubt over evolution which, while absolutely unscientific, are impossible to refute in an interview sound-bite. And since the Creationist only has to create specious doubt while the scientist has to summarise and prove the entire theory of evolution in one sentence, it's really a no-win situation. Thankfully the CofE representative agreed that Creationism doesn't belong in the science classroom, and Steve Jones chose to step back and argue that belief in divinity and the soul are not inherently incompatible with evolution.

Nonetheless, the Creationist was allowed to get away with all the usual tricks: saying that science is just another "competing" theory equal to any other, that "science" is interpreted through the context of our culture and so is not objective fact, that evolution is science's version of a "Just So" story (oh the irony!), and this recent favourite - which I still don't understand - that the mechanism for evolution by genetic mutation is apparently unupported by any evidence (!) and that evolution requires the spontaneous creation of genetic complexity out of nowhere. Apparently. Indeed, although the creationist admitted to not knowing much about genetics, well-informed people had told him that antibiotic-resistant viruses actually have less genetic complexity and therefore don't prove evolution! I'm no expert myself, but I'm staggered that anyone can fundamentally (or wilfully) not understand the process of natural selection and mutation to this extent. Am I missing something that makes this whole 'genetic complexity' argument even remotely logical?

What really annoys me is that Creationists are always pitched against geneticists, yet Creationism by definition refutes not just evolution but also most other branches of science. After all, to say that the Earth and human life are only thousands of years old is contradicted by the evidence of plate tectonics, geology and erosion, radioactive decay and carbon dating, the stratification of fossils and other biological material in a geological context, cosmology and microwave background radiation from the big bang etc. etc. You can't just cherry-pick evolution as being false without invalidating more or less every other branch of science.

Sigh. Why do I even get sucked in by these things?

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