2016 is a Big Year for Phantom of the Opera

As I mentioned in my previous post, 2016 is the 30th anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, perhaps one of the best-known adaptations of the story of the Opera Ghost. But did you know that another PotO adaptation celebrates its anniversary in 2016? That distinction belongs to Das Phantom der Oper, a silent German adaptation dating from 1916. It was the first and, at 100 years old, the oldest adaptation of Phantom–and it also no longer exists, being destroyed in a fire long ago. What little we know about it comes from newspaper articles that date from its 1916 debut (you can view those articles here, and my greatest thanks to the enterprising souls who uncovered the information), but it appears to have followed the story just as closely, if not more so, than the 1925 version.

The big question is how the only known copy was destroyed in a fire–what about the copies that were distributed in other countries? I have a theory about that. There were some German studios that had no qualms about adapting a book without getting the proper copyright stuff out of the way, hence the whole Nosferatu debacle. I can’t help but wonder if something similar happened here–the studio was sued for creating an unauthorized adaptation and ordered to destroy the copies, but one of the copies was saved from destruction only to later be lost in a fire. Of course, I know a lot of silent films were lost due to reasons that had nothing to do with court orders or devious plots, but it could still be an explanation as to what happened.

Either way, it’s an interesting glimpse into the earliest known adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera.

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Happy 30th, Phantom!


Over the weekend, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 30th anniversary–that’s right, 30 years of crashing chandeliers and masquerades. As part of the celebration, the official Phantom of the Opera Facebook page live-streamed part of the special anniversary performance to fans all over the world. And the good news is that the live streams are archived on Facebook!

There was also a preshow that featured some of the performers in the special finale.

Here’s to another brilliant 30 years!

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“Doctor Who” 2016 Christmas Special: We Have a Title!

Although the wait for new Doctor Who has seemed interminable, hope is on the horizon! We have a look at the upcoming Christmas special, titled “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”. It’s more of a behind-the-scenes look than a true trailer, but, hey, it’s still the newest episode.

What’s interesting is that Doctor Mysterio is how the show is known in Spanish-speaking countries, and Capaldi has previously stated that he thinks Doctor Mysterio is an awesome title. Will it be the alias the Doctor adopts in the latest special? Time will tell, I guess.

At last, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!


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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka”

If you’re scratching your heads over this one, thinking, “I’ve never heard of any Doctor Who episode called ‘Scream of the Shalka’,” you’re not crazy. It’s not a well-known episode, and it’s actually not canon–at least, not anymore (although I’m not sure if it ever was considered canon). “Scream of the Shalka” was an animated serial that ran on the BBC’s Doctor Who website in 2003. Yes, 2003, two years before the modern revival, two years before anyone even knew Doctor Who would be returning to television. Consequently, the Ninth Doctor in “Shalka” bears zero resemblance to the one we saw in “Rose”. Instead, we got this guy, voiced by Richard E. Grant, who would later go on to play Dr. Simeon/the Great Intelligence in “The Snowmen” and “The Name of the Doctor”.

Alternate Ninth Doctor from Scream of the Shalka

Alternate Nine doesn’t need no leather jacket.

Frankly, I liked this version of the Doctor more than I expected because he had a definitive classic vibe that the modern series hasn’t really emulated. Oh, and I loved how Derek Jacobi was voicing the Master–nice little foreshadowing of how he would later play the Master in “Utopia”. Plus, I really loved his version of the Master in “Utopia” and was sad that we only got to see him for one episode. I should note, however, that in “Shalka” he was technically an android version of the Master because…actually, I was a bit fuzzy on why the Doctor was traveling around the universe with an android Master.

The story itself was nothing overtly spectacular–the Time Lords send the Doctor to Lancanshire to stop an invasion that’s coming from the ground, and he teams up with a local barmaid named Alison (Sophie Okonedo, who would later play Elizabeth X in “The Beast Below”), who’s the only one who seems interested in fighting back–but it does get exciting towards the end. As the above artwork indicates, it looked a lot like a comic book in animated format, which was a bit weird at first, but after a while it didn’t really bother me.

What I liked most about it, though, was its thoroughly classic vibe. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the modern series. I just thought this was an interesting look at how Doctor Who might have evolved if it hadn’t been for Russell T. Davies and Christopher Eccleston. The revival was Doctor Who updated for a twenty-first century audience whereas “Scream of the Shalka” was more like classic Who set in the twenty-first century. The modern feel was probably the best way to go in the end because an overly classic feel would likely have turned off new viewers, and chances are the show would have been canceled by now. However, I can’t help but feel just a little bit wistful that we almost had a modern series that kept all of the good bits from the classic one.

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Tolkien Week: Into the West

Well, we’ve come to the end of Tolkien Week 2016. How did it go by so quickly? To finish out the week, we have the Peter Hollens cover of “Into the West”, the haunting and memorable closing credits song for The Return of the King.

Tolkien Week has been a lot of fun! See you all for next year’s celebration!

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Tolkien Week: Gollum’s Song

And we’re back with the Peter Hollens covers, ladies and gentlemen! I hope you all had an excellent Hobbit Day. Picking up where we left off, today’s song is the succinctly titled “Gollum’s Song” from the closing credits of The Two Towers. Yes, Gollum got his own song in this although he didn’t actually sing it in the original version. It’s more like a song about Gollum, about what he’s endured over the years and how far he’s fallen.

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Tolkien Week: Happy Hobbit Day!

We’re taking a break from the musical covers today because it’s September 22–Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’s birthday, AKA Hobbit Day! And there’s only one truly appropriate video to post on Hobbit Day…

Hobbits sure know how to party, don’t they?


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