Book Notes: Robert Shearman and Margaret Oliphant

This weekend I finished reading Margaret Oliphant’s Miss Marjoribanks and Robert Shearman’s We All Hear Stories in the Dark. I bought Miss Marjoribanks on a whim after reading Tom Crewe’s recent article about it in the London Review of Books. I’d heard of Oliphant before as a writer of ghost stories, but I was utterlyContinue reading “Book Notes: Robert Shearman and Margaret Oliphant”

A Roman Question

Season 19 of Doctor Who returned to a dynamic not seen since the show’s early days, when there were often not one or two companions traveling alongside the Doctor, but three. This second “crowded TARDIS” era didn’t last long before Adric was killed off in “Earthshock,” though it would briefly return the following season betweenContinue reading “A Roman Question”

What Did You Do in the War, Granddaddy?

One of the quirks of Big Finish’s recent Doctor Who output is that they’ve made up for their limited or non-existent access to new series cast members by building series around whatever recurring or guest characters happen to be available. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that approach, though when carried to extremes (a whole boxContinue reading “What Did You Do in the War, Granddaddy?”

Casting a Short Shadow

In the 20 years Big Finish has been releasing its monthly range of Doctor Who audios, they’ve mostly stuck to the “classic” four-episode format. But once in a while they shake things up a bit. In 2007, they tried a three-parter/one-parter format for a while, and since then they’ve periodically released anthologies of four one-parters.Continue reading “Casting a Short Shadow”

On the Virtues of Not Being Excited

I wrote back in February about how comparatively small the stakes were in this year’s Democratic primary, given Donald Trump’s obvious, dangerous unfitness for office and the congressional Republican Party’s determination to obstruct anything a Democratic replacement might do. Imagine, then, how much smaller were the stakes in Joe Biden’s selection of a running mate.Continue reading “On the Virtues of Not Being Excited”

Doctor Who and the Bad Guys

I don’t have the energy for political blogging lately– in a moment like this, what is there to say that isn’t either intuitively obvious or permanently beyond understanding?– though I am still posting stray thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. Here, instead, is a review of a couple Doctor Who audio dramas. It’s still a politicalContinue reading “Doctor Who and the Bad Guys”

Someone is on Your Side…

Stephen Sondheim, the unparalleled genius of American musical theater in the late 20th century, turned 90 yesterday. His work is known for its complexity, its darkness and its ironies, but as is often the case, scratch an ironist and you’ll find a sentimentalist. His memories of attending the opening night of Carousel are instructive: “IContinue reading “Someone is on Your Side…”