Book Review – “Doctor Who: City Of Death” (Author: James Goss based on a screenplay by David Fisher and Douglas Adams)

Critically, the sixteenth season of the classic version of Doctor Who isn’t one that could be seen as a vintage due to various production issues.  However, there was one diamond in the rough in the form of the second story of this season, “City Of Death” – the first story in the programme’s history to be filmed outside of Britain’s shores.

Now, more than thirty-five years on, the publishing arm of the BBC have finally released a novelisation of this classic story thanks to author James Goss using the framework of the initial screenplay developed by David Fisher and the revised storyline penned by Douglas Adams (under the BBC stock pseudonym “David Agnew”).

As a fan of the original televised version of this story, I was curious as to how Goss’ take on “City Of Death” would stack up against the orignal… and I am happy to say that the book is faithful to the 1979 televised version whilst managing to build on it.

The plot of the book is virtually the same as the original.  The fourth incarnation of the Doctor and his companion Romana decide to visit Paris for a holiday.  Unfortunately for them, their chance to relax is cut short courtesy of a disturbance in the flow of time along with the plot by notorious art thief Count Scarlioni to steal the Mona Lisa.

The plot itself isn’t the only way that the book echoes the screenplay.  The story structure of the book is split into four parts, as in the original TV version, and has the cliffhanger structure to end Parts 1 to 3.  The pacing of the story is also reminiscent of the original version, especially in the fourth part as the story rushes to its conclusion.

The book also manages to balance the threat against the Doctor and Romana along with their “companion”, the art detective Duggan, whilst ensuring the wit of the story is maintained.

Due to the wider scope afforded to James Goss, he manages to use the opportunity to add in plot points from the original version of the screenplay such as the Doctor playing croquet with William Shakespeare at the start of the story and build upon off-screen moments such as Romana and Duggan going for a night out around Paris which ends with Romana getting her first experience of a hangover.  For those who know the story from the interview on the DVD release for “City Of Death”, there is also a sly cameo by Douglas Adams and “Destiny Of The Daleks” director Ken Grieve.

But the big development for the book is a plot strand which is built upon the cameos by John Cleese and Eleanor Bron in Part Four which could be seen as “Exquisite… Absolutely exquisite.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

In terms of character, Goss perfectly encapsulates the characters throughout whilst building upon them – most significantly the character of Romana.  The book takes the character and develops upon Lalla Ward’s portrayal by making Romana an academic intellectual whilst making her naïve in the ways in the universe to worry about the after-effects of a “night on the town” or to be bluffed into helping the villain of the piece.

If you’ve seen the original televised version of “City Of Death”, you will want to read this book to recapture that romantic heady 1979 “bouquet”.  If you haven’t seen the original, this book will serve as a perfect introduction to a story that is well deserving of the “classic” tag and is worthy of the writing of Messrs. Fisher and Adams.

Based on the evidence of this novelisation, I’m already looking to what James Goss will do with his take on Adams’ Season 15 story “The Pirate Planet”… “Watch for the omens”.

The Disney Classics Challenge: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The kick-off: Snow White! Snow White premiered in 1937, and it was the first full-length cell animated (which means every frame is drawn by hand) movie ever. It had theatrical re-runs in 1944, 1952, 1958, 1967, 1975, 1983, 1987 and 1993. It has been released in VHS in 1994. I knew it was the oldest Disney film, but I’m still amazed how old this is. 78 years! I think we can all agree that this movie aged pretty well. Or do you know any other 78 year old movie that people still have on DVD?

I had the VHS as a kid, but my memory of the actual story is a bit vague. I remember that Snow White fled though a scary forest, cleaned the house and baked a pie, I remembered the dwarfs coming home from work (Heigh-Ho!!) and then I remember the witch giving her the apple and then the prince kissing her. So I was looking forward to watch this movie again, also because I could set it in the right time-frame now (as I wasn’t aware of its age when I was a kid of course). This movie isn’t available on (the Dutch) Netflix, but I had it on DVD. I even have the deluxe edition, but I never watched it.

The first notable thing is that the movie starts with some credits. Nowadays, movies only show the main cast and producer and director, but in Snow White there were quite a few slides of cast before the actual movie began. Then, we see a book that’s opened and we can read the prelude. There is no voice-over, we just have to read for ourselves.

The movie starts with a scene of Snow White singing in a castle garden, and her singing attracts Prince Charming. They sing together and they’re instantly in love. I didn’t remember this scene at all! I thought the prince just randomly showed up at the end and kidnapped her to his castle. Also, Snow White’s voice is very annoying. As a kid I watched the Dutch version, but now I was watching the English one. Another downside of that is that I can’t sing along to the songs now since I’m only familiar with the Dutch version.

Speaking of songs, I didn’t really remember if this movie had any. I only remember the ‘Heigh-Ho!’ song. But when I was watching, all the songs came back to me. Still, except for ‘Heigh-Ho’ and ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come’, the songs aren’t that memorable.

Anyway, the queen says her famous words ‘Mirror Mirror on the wall…’ the mirror tells her that Snow White is more beautiful than her and the queen sends a hunter to kill Snow White. The hunter chickens out at the last moment and Snow White flees in a very scary wood (this made a lot of impact on me as a kid). Snow White eventually finds the house of the Dwarfs and instantly starts a big spring-cleaning. I found this very amusing. You’re being chased away into the scary wood because your evil step-mom wants to kill you, you find a house and then… you clean it. Because that’s what women were supposed to do in 1937.

Snow White falls asleep and the Dwarfs return home after working in the mine (Heigh-Hoooo!). Judging from what’s in the mine, they’re all 1000 times richer than the queen… Anyway, they found out that there’s some-one in the house and they assume it’s a house-cleaning killer beast. Right before they want to kill it, they found out that it’s actually a girl. Snow White explains who she is and all the dwarfs are honored to meet her. Except for Grumpy. He warns the rest for the wraith of the queen. I feel for Grumpy. I think he’s the only realistic thinker here. Snow White asks if she can stay in the house if she cleans and cooks (because she’s a good 1937 woman), and they all agree. After this, my memory is a bit fuzzy, so all that comes next is technically new to me.

Snow White made soup for the Dwarfs, but she forces them to wash themselves first. I think this is supposed to be a moral lesson for 1937 kids, but it seems quite weird now. Again, I can sympathize with Grumpy, who is grumpy (pun kinda intended) that an unknown woman forced herself into his house, cleans everything and forces them to clean themselves. Grumps, you were ahead of your time. Or maybe we’re all grumpies in the current age. After dinner they have a small party, Snow White tells them about Prince Charming, the love of her life who she’s spoken to for 1 minute or so, and they go to bed. Now another thing happens that’s totally into place in a 1937 movie but really weird now: Snow White prays to God and tells him she wishes that Grumpy will find her nice.

In the meantime the Queen found out that the hunter gave her the heart of a pig in stead of Show White’s heart and she disguises herself as an old hag to give Snow White the apple. The next morning, the dwarfs go to the mine again (and Grumpy seems to like Snow a little bit more). Snow White makes a pie (the one I remembered!) and the witch comes to visit her and tries to make her eat the apple. The forest animals try to warn the dwarfs but they’re too late. They chase the witch until she falls of a cliff by a convenient lightning strike. And then suddenly, slides.

On the slides we can read that the Dwarfs couldn’t bury Snow White because she was too beautiful, so they made a glass coffin and kept vigil around here grave. The Prince, who had been looking for Snow White all along, heard of the sleeping beauty (this pun is also kinda intended) in the forest and came to visit her. We can see seasons passing in the background. After the slides we see the dwarfs lifting the glass lid so that the prince can kiss her (necrofile). Snow White wakes up, everybody is happy, she is like K THNKS BYE to the dwarfs and leaves with the prince.

And they live happily ever after (and there is a castle in the sky. Because).


So what did I think of this movie? I like it in a history-perspective kinda way. Although it aged quite well, the story is shallow, and Snow White herself is shallow. She cleans, she cooks, she’s nice, she finds her prince. I really liked the slap-stick scenes with the dwarfs though!

So next up is Pinocchio, I’ll see you then!

Side Note: I decided to merge the US and the UK list and watch ‘The Wild’ anyway for the completion bonus.

Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “Deep Breath” (Writer: Steven Moffat)

To pinch a phrase from the 1996 “Doctor Who” television movie, “He’s back… And it’s about time.”

It’s been just over a year since Peter Capaldi was introduced to an expectant worldwide audience as the latest version of Gallifrey’s most well known wanderer.  Since then, he crashed the programme’s fiftieth birthday party and complained about the colour of his kidneys upon his regeneration on Christmas Day.

Rather than go through a blow by blow account of the episode, I would take a more general view of the episode itself whilst focussing on the two leads.

Regeneration episodes are usually a means to handing over the role to “the new broom” and, in certain cases, to act as a marker for a change in tone for the programme.  Whilst it was a case of business as usual in The Christmas Invasion following the handover between Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant, there was a shift in tone when Tennant handed over to Matt Smith – thanks not only to the change in leading man but in showrunner from Russell T. Davies to Steven Moffat.  Gone was the straightforward adventuring of the Tenth Doctor to be replaced with a “fairy tale” tone.

“Deep Breath” sees another tonal shift, not only due to the change in lead, but in story style. The story starts off very much in the style of Tom Baker’s opener “Robot” as we are greeted with a disorientated Doctor.  Vastra even echoes a line used by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at the end of Jon Pertwee’s last story (which was reprised in “Robot”) when she says “Here we go again”.

The opening credits give a change of emphasis – looking at time as well as space as we move through clock cogs and planets accompanied by Murray Gold’s unnerving opening theme – which also signifies a tonal shift for the incidental music which changes from the fairytale feel of the Eleventh Doctor’s era into something more cinematic and unnerving for a Doctor who is unnerving and likes the “big stage”.

As the story moves onward with the Doctor becoming less and less disorientated, the story tone shifts again becoming darker and more reminiscent of the classic era story “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang”.  Whereas in “Weng-Chiang” a cellar underneath a Victorian theatre doubles as a laboratory and place for the villain of the story to “feed” on the life essences of young women, “Deep Breath” sees a dining establishment become the front for organ donation to the story’s antagonists.

It was a smart move by the production team to make this story feature length.  Not only does it give us time to not only get used to, as well as wrong footed, by the new Doctor, it allows the room for the story to progress at a more even pace, something that was a problem with “Series 7B” with some stories being wrapped up too quickly when they could have benefitted with a one hour episode.

The appointment of director Ben Wheatley did pique my interest.  After all, he was fresh from directing the dark comedy “Sightseers”.  However, it’s his skill as a feature film director and one who can do dark comedy that makes him the ideal choice for this story.  The pacing of the story was judged perfectly whilst the humour isn’t out of step with the story’s darker premise.

The choice of opponents in this episode was an interesting one.  On the surface, it could be seen as another example of Steven Moffat recycling old plots with the story being linked to the Series 2 story “The Girl In The Fireplace” through the Clockwork Droids and their use of human body parts to sustain their technology, but this isn’t really an appropriate comparison, or a valid argument, in this story.  This is very much a story about whether change makes you the same person.  The Doctor questions “Half Face Man” as to whether he is the same creation than he was when he started changing his organic components.  The Doctor not only questions himself about his own change, but is challenged by Clara as to whether he is the same man that she travelled with up to their fateful journey to Trenzalore.

As with the aforementioned “Robot” and “The Christmas Invasion”, the transition of Doctor and tone is aided with a return of familiar core characters, in this case Vastra, Jenny and Strax.  Whilst on the part of Strax, this provides a sense of comic relief, the roles of Vastra and Jenny are to challenge Clara into accepting the new Doctor especially as he trusts Clara enough to drop the boyish mask of his predecessor for a face more in step with his real Doctor


Moving on to the regulars and I have to say that this was the perfect opener for this new Team TARDIS.


One of the faults of the character of Clara was that she was basically a plot device for Series 7B in that she was The Impossible Girl which caught the Doctor’s curiosity rather than a character.  This was no fault of Jenna Coleman who has always given strong performances.  In “Deep Breath” Clara became a fully fledged character which matched the power of Jenna’s performance.

From the outset, Clara has her misgivings about this new Doctor, some of it with good reason as I will get into later, but this provides the character with more layers.  Whilst Vastra protects the Doctor by telling Clara that he removed the boyish “mask” of the Eleventh Doctor to reveal his “true” face because he trusted Clara, she counters that it is her passion for knowledge and seeing underneath the surface of a person is what drives her relationship with the Doctor.

But, the most telling aspect of this new version of Clara is during her confrontation with Half Face Man.  Her hallucination shows the background to her emotional intelligence and she uses it to, in effect, become the Doctor as she tells Half Face Man that you can’t run a negotiation by starting at the worst case scenario and working downwards to a lesser standpoint.  She also makes a point of saying that she is scared for her safety, but by doing this the character doesn’t weaken, if anything she becomes stronger because she is at her most human but she is still defiant.

Yes, there are jokes at the expense of Clara’s need to control the situation and the Doctor’s “diagnosis” of egomania, but I’m glad now that the metaphorical elephant has been led out of the room and whilst this relationship is an uneasy truce at present, I’m glad that the partnership is one that stems more from friends – such as the Doctor and Donna who are my favourite pairing since the series returned – than through any form of love interest.

These differences change the role of Clara, not only in relation to the Doctor but as an individual, and I’m looking forward to seeing the direction that Jenna takes this new version of the character.


As for Peter Capaldi, he has come over as probably THE most complete incarnation of the Doctor on debut, not surprisingly really given how accomplished an actor he is.  This is a Doctor not only of contradictions as he tries to find his new self, but of bringing together the whole character of the Doctor where you can see those twelve other incarnations ebbing and flowing around each other.

This is a Doctor who not only shows an apparent unreliability of the early Sixth Doctor but uses it as a ploy to be ahead of his opponents like the manipulative Seventh Doctor by using Clara to get information for him.  You have him speaking of the larger values of human lives and endeavour like the Fifth Doctor whilst planning that he has to coldly persuade Half Face Man that he should commit suicide (or killing him) for the good of planet Earth in a manner worthy of the Ninth Doctor.  All the while, he is the weary and lonely traveller that was the War Doctor whilst having the boyish Tenth and Eleventh incarnations fire up his enthusiasm in escaping through windows, riding horses or, for a brief glimpse, showing that the man that Clara travelled with to Trenzalore is trapped within a new body.

But referencing should not be mistaken for lack of character development and Capaldi manages to invest the role with a strong sense of how he wants the role to move.

This is a Doctor who is very much a hands off version of the character – cold, isolated and combative, but he’s also a man who is lonely and in need of the right type of company – as seen in the “I am lonely” scene where it’s ambiguous whether he’s translating the dinosaur or he’s deliriously speaking about himself or the “phone call” scene where he asks for Clara’s help whilst being unable to hug her or show her affection.

He has the fire and rage that we know the Doctor has always had, but it’s more on view in this incarnation rather than hidden under a facade of joviality and conviviality.  This is an angry Doctor who now feels that he can complain and rage against the universe just because he has become apparently Scottish.  (I had to laugh at the fact that his eyebrows want to be independent from the rest of his face which is surely a sly commentary (neither pro or anti) on the forthcoming Scottish Independence referendum).

This is also a Doctor who is aware of the damage he sweeps along with him.  He shows it in the big moments when the dinosaur is murdered by Half Face Man by feeling sorry for the fact that he brought her to Victorian London, but he also shows in the little ways – most notably when he tells Clara that he can’t be her boyfriend and that he feels the one to blame for the relationship becoming one of a romantic footing.

It’s going to be interesting how the Twelfth Doctor continues as to whether he wrong foots and challenges the people around him and the audience.


Returning to the phone call scene, what a great return by Matt Smith to round out the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure in the TARDIS.  I felt that the regeneration scene itself gave a sense of closure for the Doctor by returning back to the beginning through his hallucination of Amy, but I commented that the scene sidelined Clara.  So it was lovely to see his time properly finished by using the last moments of “Eleven’s” life to ask friend to help ‘”Twelve” be the Doctor – I mean, who better to guide a scared Doctor than the companion who probably knows him better than any companion he has travelled with.


Another surprise scene is the inclusion of Missy aka the Queen of the Nethersphere at the end of the story.  Michelle Gomez uses the last couple of minutes of the episode to set her stall out as the story arc for Series 8, portraying the character like a deranged Mary Poppins with a stalker complex.  She calls the Doctor her boyfriend and likes his new accent so much that she thinks that she’s going to keep it.  This last couple of minutes leaves us with a lot of questions – and disquieting ones at that.  Who is she in relation to the Doctor?  What is “Paradise”? And, most disturbingly, did the Doctor convince Half Face Man into destroying himself or did he murder him for the good of the many?


The title of the episode “Deep Breath” isn’t so much about the holding of physical breath, as in the cases of Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax, but a metaphorical one – a “leap of faith”, if you will – in so much that we now have a Doctor in our midst who whilst being on the side of the angels is no longer a safe companion to travel with.  There have been comparisons with other “era” openers in the modern era floating about and I feel that this is unfair, not only to “Deep Breath” but the other openers as they have told the story that needed to be told to launch a new incarnation of the Doctor.

I have a feeling that the remaining eleven episodes are going to be a bumpy ride for “Twelve” and Clara and I can’t wait for what happens next.

Reminder and rules of the giveaway

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course, just a quick reminder for my epic geeky giveaway. I noticed a lot of people started following me and filled in the email form, but you need to leave a comment as well otherwise you won’t be entered into the giveaway. So for all of you new followers who want to participate into the giveaway until the end of this month
1. Subscribe to my blog
2. Fill in the email form at the end if the giveaway blog post
3. Leave a funny comment why and what you would like to win. The top 3 funniest comments will win!

Love, your own hot cute girly geek mendy


Tsunacon will always be a little special to me. Not only is it the first con I visited, it also takes place on the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, which happens to be the university I addend to. I was once buying merchandise in the same room where I made an exam two days before, and I’m watching a cosplay competition in the room where I usually go to lectures. I can’t describe the experience in another word but weird. It’s weird to see the boring grey building transform into a place where people cosplay and play games. It’s weird to see those two separate worlds collapse into one. It has a surreal feeling. But it also feels like coming home. Like I’m the one inviting all those other people into my own home.

The M building

This was my third time visiting Tsunacon. Usually, Tsunacon takes place on that one day in February where it suddenly snows again. This year that was not the case (no snow at all this winter in this part of the Netherlands), but both last year and the year before, I had to stand in line for an hour in cosplay while it was snowing before opening. So I decided this year to arrive 1,5 hours after opening, so I didn’t need to stand in line. Brilliant idea. And it only took me two years to think about it.

Triple Links! Left to right: me, Eric van Dongen, and Babette Sonnevelt. Picture taken by Danique Wieling.

But I was not the only one who learned from my experiences. Tsunacon grows and improves every year.  In my first year, ordering food was a disaster (a two-hour line for a miso soup), last year they left the catering to the caterer of the University (which happens to be bad, but Tsunacon couldn’t know that and I only had to wait for 20 minutes this time, so it kinda improved), and this year they sold Japanese food and they also had a bakery, and I only had to wait for 10 minutes. Also, the cosplay competition took place on a stage in stead of a flat floor (which happened last year). So credit for the organization for listening to the complaints and flaws of previous years and improving them.

Kokoro Connect figures

So what did I do while I was there? I visited the dealer room and bought two Kokoro Connect figures, and my boyfriend bought a few Gundam model kits. I also had a €160,- Zelda action figure in my hands, but unfortunately that was one digit too much for my wallet. We had a HAAMC (Holland’s Anime And Manga Club) mini meet and made a group photo, and got in touch with some awesome people. We watched the AMV (Anime Music Video) competition, which was kind of disappointing this year in my opinion (I will do a blog on AMV’s in the future 😉 ). We had lunch, took some pics, and watched the cosplay competition.

This year there was a regular cosplay competition and a Capcom cosplay competition. Some memorable contestants from the regular competition: Elsa (Frozen), a lot of League of Legends characters and an amazing Jessica Rabbit. She has BOOBS and she knows it. If I had such a large chest I would probably feel uncomfortable, but she owned it! It fitted the cosplay perfectly and  she got the whole room going crazy. I later heard she got second place. The Capcom cosplay competition was a little disappointing, exept for the first to contestants; two girls in full Monster Hunter Armor with an exceptional arsenal of props (they won). The other contestants were a black dude with  boxing gloves who was supposed the be Balrog from Streetfighter and some dudes in a regular suit who did Ace Attorney cosplay. Meh.

The HAAMC mini-meet. My boyfriend as Hijikata Toshiro (with the mayonaise) and me as Link next to him

The last two years I left at 17/18 o’clock, but since I arrived later than usual I wasn’t tired yet. Which was good, because at 18:30, it was time for playing the Werewolfs of Miller’s Hallow (also organized by HAAMC). After that, the day came to an end and it was really time to go home. I’m already looking forward to the next convention!


HAAMC fb-page (Dutch):

HAAMC on My Anime List (Dutch):

Tsunacon (Dutch):

Blog still under construction (and a poll)

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course.

I am still working on my blog to make it better, more professional, bit more mature sort of speak. And although I love my blog name (my best friend Lex was the one who gave me the nick name hot cute girly geek) I’m not sure if I want to keep this name or change it.

A lot of people know me with the hot cute girly geek blog, but since I have a couple of more permanent writers as well, and one of them is a guy, can hot cute girly geek still keep its name?

I asked around before in this blog, but also on twitter and you lovely readers are devided in keeping my name or changing it. So it’s time to add a poll.

Please give me your opinion about changing or keeping the name.

Love, your own hot cute girly geek, Mendy