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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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Eight Turns 20!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the (in)famous Doctor Who TV movie. It was a British/American co-production that the powers-that-be hoped would jumpstart a brand new Doctor Who series in America. Of course, things didn’t happen that way; it would be another nine years before our favorite Time Lord would permanently return to television (nine-year wait for the Ninth Doctor, I just realized that), but it was still a memorable venture into the Whoniverse.

“Oh, yeah, sure, memorable for saying the Doctor is half-human. Memorable for being the first time we see the Doctor kiss his companion. Memorable for Eric Roberts’ terrible performance as the Master.”

Okay, first of all, I will go on the record as saying I actually liked Eric Roberts as the Master. He was sly, scheming, maniacal–everything a good Master is supposed to be. Granted, he was no Roger Delgado (my favorite Master), but I still think he carried off the role and generally did a good job. Honestly, sometimes I think most of the grief Roberts was getting came from the fact they had the audacity to cast an American as the Master. The horror.

As for the half-human thing…yeah, I got nothing on that one. Neither does the show, apparently, because it was the first and the last time the Doctor was described as being half-human (although Steven Moffat alluded to it in season 9). And it’s important to note that Paul McGann was against the Doctor’s having a romantic relationship with the companion and protested very loudly, even purposely messing up the kiss scene!

But think of all of the wonderful Big Finish audio adventures that never would have existed if there hadn’t been a TV movie! We may never have gotten to enjoy Paul McGann as the Doctor! There never would have been this regeneration scene (which happens to be one of my favorites)!

Happy birthday, Eighth Doctor. We may not have gotten enough of you on our screens, but we love you anyway.

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Victor Frankenstein: Surprisingly Good

A couple of weeks ago I got around to watching Victor Frankenstein, a fanciful little tale that came out last November. I knew right from the get-go that this movie was going to have 100% nothing in common with the book. I knew the prickly pedant in me would not hesitate to tear it to shreds for all of its divergences. I knew this version of the Monster would still not be the philosophizing phenom that Mary Shelley wrote in her book. I knew all of these things, all of them–and I watched it anyway because the trailer looked cool.

But you know what? It was actually a pretty good movie. It follows the story of Igor (which is automatically a dead giveaway that this is nothing like the book because there’s no Igor in the book) and how he became Frankenstein’s assistant. In this version, Igor is a clown in a traveling circus and is often mocked and abused because of his hunchback. He finds comfort in books and is a self-trained doctor of sorts, treating the various ailments that afflict his fellow circus performers. These skills prove invaluable when he saves the life of Lorelei, a trapeze artist who slips and falls in the middle of a performance. Frankenstein is one of witnesses when Igor saves Lorelei and realizes that this man has a great mind and is made for better things than the circus, so he takes him home, fixes his back, gives him clean clothes, and puts him to work as his assistant.

One of the things I wanted to give this movie credit for doing is avoiding the love triangle cliche. As soon as I saw Lorelei, I thought, “Oh, boy, here we go, Victor’s going to fall in love with Lorelei, too, and it’s going to cause tension between him and Igor, and it’s going to be one of the reasons they stop working together, and why are these things so stupid?” But that isn’t what happened at all. Igor and Lorelei got to have a happy little relationship with very little interference from Frankenstein. Granted, he didn’t approve of their relationship because he felt it distracted Igor from their work, but he didn’t stand in their way, either. On a similar note, I was surprised that there was no mention of Frankenstein’s fiance Elizabeth. Maybe in this version he wasn’t engaged (which is easy to believe), but her absence still seemed a bit odd.

The friendship between Frankenstein and Igor was unexpectedly layered, thanks in part to James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe’s excellent acting. Radcliffe brought Igor to life, making him feel like a real person instead of a caricature, and McAvoy electrified (no pun intended) the screen as Frankenstein, capturing the mad scientist’s charisma and passion in a way I have rarely seen. He also brought out Frankenstein’s arrogance, most notable in the way he treats Igor. He regards Igor less as his own person and more as an object–at one point he even tells Igor, “You are my greatest creation.” Igor, on the other hand, is a loyal friend, grateful to Frankenstein for the way he changed his life yet willing to challenge him when he thinks he’s going too far. I think Frankenstein does recognize and appreciate that loyalty even if he doesn’t do a very good job of reciprocating.

Another aspect I liked was the philosophy portion. So many movies these days are all flash and no thought, but Victor Frankenstein requires you to think. There are many conversations about God, science, if there should be a boundary between the two, and how far that boundary should extend. There’s one scene where Frankenstein and Igor are trying to convince Lorelei of the importance of their work, and Lorelei is understandably cautious, yet she cannot help but be enthralled by the picture Frankenstein paints of the good he hopes his work will accomplish.

I know this movie didn’t get very many positive reviews, but I found it unexpectedly enjoyable. They left the end open for a sequel, and if that movie is of the same caliber as this one, I wouldn’t complain in the least.

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Holy Thursday: The Fourth Cup

With it being Holy Thursday, I wanted to bring this fascinating little presentation out again. I think this was done by a Jewish man who converted to Catholicism, which I find especially interesting because of the parallels between Judaism and Christianity (one was supposed to fulfill the other, after all).

Also, in my mind this just proves that God is really, really clever at doing parallels.


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