Monday, November 13, 2006

We sing in praise of PJ Hammond

Always good for a surreal image, is Mr H. And I think we're all agreed round this neck of the woods that that was the finest episode of Torchwood yet. It had depth, it had subtlety - that's the first time I've been able to believe in Jack Harkness ("Clap if you believe in Captain Jack, children! Clap!") as a person rather than just as a high-octane action hero. I think this episode could have stretched out to a mini-series in its own right, there was so much material crying out to be unpacked and developed. In a series purportedly of stand-alone episodes, this one truly stands alone. (Although I have, of course, been pretty fired up about it for months now.) I mean, last week's was fun, but not exactly meaty.

There's just one thing I'm a bit confused about, and that's where Jack the Eternal Soldier in 1907 Lahore fits in with Jack the time-travelling con-man. Perhaps he overshot on his way back from that space station.

Saturday was quite a day. We got to London in spite of, rather than thanks to, the car we rented from Hertz. Hertz in their wisdom took our online booking for a four-door car with room to seat five and presented us with a two-door car with room to seat five dwarves, and an engine flooding problem. Still, we'd allowed enough time and, dropping all other plans for London shopping, got lunch and took our seats for Spamalot, one of the most astonishing things I've seen in a while. On the one hand it takes my happy memories of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and, as I'd expected, buggers them thoroughly. On the other, there's more than enough new material, and some very interesting use of the stage environment, to make Spamalot a wonderful work of culture in its own right. It's the Monty Python film remade as half big, gaudy Las Vegas show (the musical numbers, the chorus girls, etc) and half pantomime (the fourth-wall stuff towards the end, to say nothing of the Beast of Caer-Bannog). We spent the whole time racked with laughter. It's more than the sum of its gags; it deserves to be a phenomenon.

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