by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Liveblogging”

Live-Blogging Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead

Posted 31 May 2009 in by Catriona

So little Doctor Who this time around—it feels as though I’ve hardly done any live-blogging at all this year!

This live-blogging brought to you by my adorable house socks with the grey, pink, and red stripes and crocheted T-straps. And also by the overly full glass of wine with which Nick just provided me.

Blame any subsequent spelling errors and typos on that overly full glass of wine.

I’m now watching a news programme about an animal sanctuary and remembering the time when I was stalked by that emu. And bitten by a Shetland pony. And bitten by a goose. And then I segued into other embarrassments, like the time I got my head stuck between those two bollards on a boat.

I really need to keep my brain under better control, frankly.

And now I’m wondering in a bewildered fashion, why I don’t live in lovely cold, rainy, snowy Hobart. Why?

Now, should I live-blog Torchwood? Depending on how late it’s on, of course? What say you, people who would, after all, have to read my subsequent output?

Here we are—aerial shot of London. Wow, “aerial” is a difficult word to type. And we’re in the interior of the kind of museum that just doesn’t exist in Australia, alas.

Four men—who look more like private security guards than policemen, and they are armed—are taking their places around a fancy golden goblet, which is further protected by those red laser thingies.

But, it doesn’t matter, because here’s Tom Cruise! No, wait, it’s Indiana Jones! Well, now I just don’t know what we’re paying homage to here.

Oh, wait: the thief is not only a woman, but also chooses to take her balaclava off before she actually leaves the museum—a museum that, based on what we just saw, actually takes security fairly seriously. That’s clever. When she also says “Sorry, lover” to the man who was waiting in her getaway car, I lose all sympathy for her.

Now she’s bribing a bus driver to let her on, with her diamond earrings. But here comes the Doctor, complete with a half-eaten Eater egg, which he offers her with a cheerful “Happy Easter!”

Doctor, complete strangers offering me half-masticated food on public transport rarely end up being lifelong friends. Thought I’d let you know.

Now the police have seen our thief on a bus, because, despite being on the run, she’s decided to sit in a window seat.

But, apparently, we have “excitation”—the Doctor is “picking up something very strange” on his jerry-rigged device with a tiny little satellite dish. And the bus is heading into a tunnel—sealed off at both ends, while our thief clutches a half-eaten Easter egg, and the Doctor claims to be looking for rhondium particles. The thief wonders if he can find her a “way out,” while a woman at the back of the bus asks if her husband can hear “the voices.”

And apparently the voices are screaming as the bus is catapulted through some expensive special effects.

The police report that the bus has vanished, much to the skepticism of the police officer who looks like Reg Hollis.

But it has—via a lovely, sun-spangled close-up of the Doctor, we find the bus, torn to pieces, on a desert landscape.

(This bit of the episode filmed on location on Tatooine. Nick tells me that that’s the reason the bus is damaged in this shot: it was damaged in transit in the shipping container, so they wrote it into the script.)

According to the woman on the bus, they’re surrounded by the dead. She can hear their voices all around them, and so can we, thanks to the wonders of extradiegetic sound.

Our thief puts on sunglasses, claiming to be ready for every eventuality. The Doctor, not to be outdone, turns his glasses into sunglasses with the sonic screwdriver. He thinks there’s something odd about the sand, but the passengers want to know where they are and why.

DOCTOR: Oh, humans on buses—always blaming me.

The Doctor shows them the hole in reality through which they travelled, and the bus driver—so desperate to get home that he doesn’t even listen to the Doctor—leaps through, and is skeletonised.

The police officer insists that they’re out of their depth, as they see the skeleton fall through onto a London street.

POLICE OFFICER: We’re out of our depth. We need expert assistance.
NICK: We need Burnside!

Well, it’s good either way.

In the interim, Christina (I may as well give her her name) has appointed herself as leader—it’s hard to tell whether the Doctor is impressed or irritated.

Probably both?

Does a good leader “utilise” her strengths? Or does she just “use” them? I leave it to you to decide.

LOU (Talking about Carmen’s gifts): We do the lottery every week.
CHRISTINA: You don’t look like millionaires.
ME: You know, Christina? You’re rocking those pants, but you’re really starting to get on my nerves, you know.

Carmen explains that something is coming for them on the wind, something shining. Pushed by the Doctor, she says it’s death. At this, naturally, the passengers start panicking, and the Doctor talks them down, as he always does.

This is so new series Doctor Who—this elevation of humanity above all the other wonders in the universe. I’m not deriding that, just offering it as a reflection.

NICK: The Doctor does idolise the quotidian, even though he doesn’t really want to be part of it.

Nick puts it better than I do.

And here’s UNIT! Hurray, UNIT! Someone call Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

The Doctor and Christina have two male passengers digging down to help release the tires from the sand, so they can lay a trail of old seats, to try and drive the bus back through the wormhole. The engine is clogged with sand, but thankfully they have a nice boy who knows a little about engines.

The Doctor and Christina trek across the sands, to explore the planet.

DOCTOR: We make quite a couple.
CHRISTINA: We don’t make any kind of couple, thank you very much.
ME: Well, Donna did it better.

And there’s a mysterious hand, and an odd clicking noise.

CHRISTINA: It’s Christina De Souza. Lady Christina De Souza, to be exact.
DOCTOR: That’s good, because I’m a Lord.
CHRISTINA: Really? Of where?
DOCTOR: Oh, it’s quite a big estate.

They see what looks like a sandstorm, and leg it back to the bus, where the Doctor co-opts a passenger’s mobile and rings UNIT, who are just so pleased to hear from him.

CAPTAIN MAGAMBO: May I say, sir, it’s an honour.
DOCTOR: Did you just salute me?

The Doctor is taken to speak to UNIT’s scientific adviser, which means he’s essentially speaking to the man currently occupying the position originally created for the Doctor in the 1970s.

Of course, this scientific adviser—as well as being slightly improbably Welsh—is a massive Doctor fanboy. So, the Doctor is dealing with an intelligent man who can’t stop gushing over everything that the Doctor says.

DOCTOR: And, Malcolm? You’re my new best friend.
MALCOLM: And you’re mine, too, sir. You’re . . . he’s gone. He’s gone.

And we see than hand pointing and the voice clicking, again.

(A vignette, from last time we watched this:
FRIEND A: Can’t he do anything but point at that screen and make that noise?
FRIEND B: Well, it’s obviously a point-and-click interface.)

Carmen says whatever’s coming on the wind “devours,” and the Doctor and Christina see what looks like metal in the coming storm.

CHRISTINA: That’s how I like it—extreme.
ME: Christina, you’re really annoying me, again.

The Tritavores are essentially giant flies, by the way. I don’t think I’ve made that clear at any point. This episode is made up of a variety of tiny little scenes, and it’s difficult to keep them straight.

Apparently, the Tritavores’ ship was knocked out of orbit, but the Doctor gets the power back online, allowing him to send out a probe to see what’s in the storm. They’re on the planet of Sanhelios—and I may well have spelt that wrong.

The planet had a population of 100 billion, with whom the Tritavores hoped to trade. They show the Doctor and Christina an image of Sanhelios City—with tall buildings and wide spaces and hover cars.

CHRISTINA: You look human.
DOCTOR: You look Time Lord.
ME: Oh, lord—don’t kiss her! Stop kissing people!

Thankfully, they’re distracted by the fact that, apparently, Sanhelios City stood where they are now only one year ago—the entire planet has been turned to sand in a year.

Of course, Christina is mostly worried at this stage that she has “dead people” in her hair. I’m just going to leave that comment there.

The Doctor, talking to UNIT about the increasing size of the wormhole, gets a call from Nathan on the bus, telling him that in their attempts to get the bus up and running again, they’ve used up all the petrol.

But the Doctor is distracted by the fact that the probe has reached the storm—and it’s not a storm. It’s a swarm, of creatures who look like stingrays, but with razor-sharp teeth and metallic exoskeletons. The Doctor works out that they fly in formation around the planet, faster and faster, until the wormhole is large enough for them to move through and onto the next planet.

The storm is about twenty minutes away, according to the Doctor’s reckoning.

Christina works out that the main question is why the Tritavores crashed in the first place. They don’t know—the Doctor thinks, though, that they can use the crystal-based propulsion system of the Tritavore ship to move the bus throught the wormhole.

The Tritavores conveniently have personal communicators that fit human ears. That’s useful.

While the Doctor is trying to open panels, Christina is preparing to head down the shaft in much the same way as she stole the gold cup from the museum in the beginning.

CHRISTINA: The aristocracy survives for a reason. We’re ready for anything.
ME: No, you bloody don’t! You survived because you usually had enormous amounts of money and invariably had a level of political and social influence unavailable to anyone who wasn’t born into an established family. Right, that’s it, Christina: I wash my hands of you.

The Doctor, meanwhile, goes through her bag and finds the cup, which he identifies as a cup given to the first king of England by the king of the Welsh, and accuses Christina of being a thief.

CHRISTINA: Daddy lost everything. Invested in the Icelandic banks.
DOCTOR: No, no, no—if you need money, you rob a bank.
ME: Or, you could, you know, get a job!

Meanwhile, Christina finds the creature who caused the ship to crash, which is awoken from its dormant state by her body heat (yes, she makes that joke)—I will admit, the way she hits the security-system button in passing is pretty nifty.

She still annoys me.

But she gets the crystal and its housing—they try to convince the Tritavores to come with them, but one is eaten by another creature (they must have hit part of the swarm, which is what caused the ship to crash), and the other tries to save his friend.

The Doctor and Christina leg it, with Carmen urging them to run.

The Doctor says he doesn’t need the crystal—Christina, in a nice bit of character continuity, seems overly distracted when he tosses the shiny thing over his shoulder—he needs the clamps, which he attaches to the wheels.

He tells Malcolm to find a way to close the wormhole: Malcolm has an idea, but Magambo mobilises her troops, since the Doctor says “something” may come through after them.

DOCTOR: Ah, it’s not compatible! Bus—spaceship, spaceship—bus.

He needs something malleable and ductile that will allows the two systems to talk to one another. The Doctor talks Christina into handing over the coronation cup; telling the Doctor that it’s worth eighteen million pounds, she tells him to be careful. He agrees, but immediately pounds it out of shape.

Meanwhile, Malcolm tells Magambo that he knows how to close the wormhole, and she tells him to do it immediately, before the Doctor returns—even drawing her gn on him and calling him “soldier” when he refuses.

The Doctor, meanwhile, has anti-gravity clamps on the wheels and flies the bus up into the air—with the storm right behind them, he flies the bus right through the wormhole, back through the expensive special effects, and right out into London.

When a soldier reports that the bus is back, Magambo takes her gun off Malcolm, who is refusing to close the wormhole. But several of the creatures follow the flying bus through the wormhole, and the Doctor rings Malcolm, telling him to close the wormhole immediately.

But Malcolm’s machines explode—with the Doctor’s assistance, he gets the system that he has devised working, and the wormhole closes just as the creatures on Sanhelios reach it.

On Earth, UNIT are having quite good luck with what looks like anti-aircraft artillery, which makes sense.

Magambo’s also firing her pistol into the air; I have to admire her spirit, but I doubt that will do much.

Oh, and here’s the snogging portion of the Doctor Who special.

NICK: He has the good grace to look surprised when people snog him, though.
ME: Not always.

DOCTOR: Welcome home, the mighty 200!

Of course, all the passengers are going to be screened and then taken for debriefing. (While the Doctor is being enthusiastically embraced by Malcolm, who insists, “I love you!” over and over again.) So, so much for the Doctor’s promise that they’ll be home for chops, and girlfriends, and sitting at home watching television.

He also tries to send Nathan and Barclay off to work for UNIT, which apparently bothered a lot of people—the Doctor is not normally in favour of the military, so why is he drafting these two boys?

And the Doctor is reunited with the TARDIS.

MAGAMBO: Found in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
DOCTOR: Oh, she doesn’t mind!

Christina wants to travel with the Doctor (which I originally wrote as “marry the Doctor”—there’s a Freudian slip, for you). But he refuses. She says she only steals for the adventure: “It’s not about the money!” (Honestly, Christina? I’d have more sympathy with you if it were for the money.) But he still refuses—he hasn’t quite got over the loss of his last companions.

Carmen says that the Doctor’s song is ending—“it is returning. It is returning through the dark. And then. Oh, but then. Doctor, he will knock four times.”

But the Doctor—looking more than a little disturbed by this—doesn’t want Christina arrested: he unlocks her handcuffs with the sonic screwdriver, and she flies off in the bus.

The police officer tries to arrest the Doctor for aiding and abetting, and the Doctor says, “Right, I’ll just step into this police box and arrest myself.”

And with a last quip, he and Christina fly off in opposite directions.

There’s no trailer for “The Waters of Mars,” but keep an eye out for it—truly, truly creepy-looking episode.

And that’s Doctor Who until, I think, November. See you then for the next live-blogging extravaganza!

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 2, 2009

Posted 16 May 2009 in by Catriona

While I’m waiting for the second semi-final to begin, I’m watching an SBS World News story on gorillas.

And being distracted—not in a good way—by the truly hideous outfit that the fashionista newsreader is wearing. What is that? Some kind of asymmetrical, rigid mesh vest over a heavily ruffled, collared, white blouse? Why?

Maybe it’s an homage to Eurovision?

I’m making sure I don’t start live-blogging too early this time, to avoid the strange rambling that preceded last night’s post.

Although I’m sure you’ll all be interested to know that now the weather is getting colder, my bad ankle—the one I landed on when I fell down the backstairs, and then never bothered to have treated—is really playing me up again.

Damn, I let myself become bored again, didn’t I?

But that’s all right, because now we’re back in Moscow for the second semi-final of Eurovision 2009, to find out who will be the last ten countries to go through to the finals.

Now, we’re starting with the national performances, but I have no chance of writing down the name of this group. Frankly, I’m a little distracted by the beards.

The clothes are fabulous, though—ack! And the giant babushka dolls!

And the fact they’re now playing ABBA on traditional Russian instruments.

Wait, now the babushka dolls are rotating, and showing images of merry-go-round horses. But, then, that’s not as strange as the women who’ve just come out on stage. Or, for that matter, as the fact that this performance is a medley of Eurovision songs.

And now there are bears dancing with each other.

Oooh, apparently they change the images on the babushka dolls by hitting them with sledgehammers! The staging really is lovely.

Did I mention the bears dancing with each other?

Oh, no. We have the same hosts as last night. I’m so sorry, guys: you are truly, truly terrible. Truly terrible.

For example: “Now, Natasha, I hope you have found common ground with the bears.” What? No, seriously: what does that mean?

But now we’re starting the performances!

CROATIA: “Liepa Tena.”
Oooh, one of them’s called Igor? Really? Cool.
Hmm, string instruments. And a man in disturbingly tight pants feeling up his back-up dancers.
Yep, this is Eurovision all right.
Well, now his back-up dancers are feeling themselves up, so there is that.
Nick points out that the women have flesh-toned microphone covers, so we’re hoping for a costume change.
Goodness knows it’s dull enough now.
Ah, and here’s the female singer the song is “featuring”—doing some kind of falsetto wailing while being stared at lasciviously by the male singer.
Am I being a bit harsh on Croatia? His voice is all right. But the song is frankly boring.
And no costume changes! Dammit, Eurovision!

IRELAND: “Et Cetera.”
Will this be better than Dustin the Turkey?
Ah, girl rock band. Girl rock band in insanely tight pants.
Seriously, insanely tight.
No, I’m sorry, Ireland. If I wanted to listen to this, I’d be listening to TodayFM. I doubt even Triple M would play this.
Fantastic staging, as always.
I’m still betting on my “dead billionaire” theory from last night.
Nick is bewildered by the fact that people buy deliberately laddered tights. I told him that that’s so fashionable right now it’s passe. I didn’t further break his heart by telling him they’re actually leggings.
Though he may not have my irrational hatred of leggings.
No, I know I didn’t talk about the song. But did you hear it?

LATVIA: “Probka.”
“Probka” means “traffic jam,” apparently.
I think someone just mailed the lead singer a complete set of The Young Ones DVDs. That’s the only explanation for his outfit.
Ah, vocal interlude. Fabulous.
This song is all over the place. Frenetic, now soft and . . . well, a little whingy, frankly.
And now we’re back to frenetic.
Does that guitarist on the left have his jeans rolled up to his knees?
At least it’s not in English.
Frankly, I hope this doesn’t get through. It’s giving me a headache and deja vu. Simultaneously.
Well, that was odd.

SERBIA: “Cipela.”
Hmm, “follicularly enhanced work,” eh?
And the shoes!
(NICK: They looks like Blackadder’s codpiece, the shoes!)
And the bride!
Oh, and the hair! The hair!
The afro is amazing enough, but what is going on with the accordian player’s hair? And his leather suit?
Oh, and now some random domestic violence! Fantastic!
Nick hopes these guys get through.
I do like the pixellated version of the lead singer’s face, I admit.
Oh, that poor bride! I don’t know what’s happening to her, but she seems quite affronted. I wish I spoke Serbian.
Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

POLAND: “I Don’t Wanna Leave.”
Oh, good start. Slow-motion people in white doing some kind of interpretive dance in the background.
And our first cape for the night! Admittedly, it’s an elbow cape, but it’s still a cape.
NICK: That top’s giving her quite asymmetrical cleavage.
Oh, Nick’s misbehaving tonight!
SINGER: It’s getting hard to breathe.
NICK: Certainly is, darling.
ME: Why?
NICK: I just . . . wanted to say it.
Key change!
The song itself is a standard Eurovision ballad. They’ll probably get through.
Nick’s singing the Aerosmith song from Armageddon, now. It is a little Steve Tyler towards the end.

NORWAY: “Fairytale.”
This guy looks like Brad Pitt? Oh, save me!
Oooh, high-kicking dancers! And a violin! And some drugs, I strongly suspect.
This is a bouncy little number. Has an oddly Romany feel to it, though I’m not sure what kind of Romany population there is in Norway.
I’m liking this, actually.
Except for the odd leap-frogging thing that’s happening in stage, now.
Well, the female back-up singers have turned up now, and Nick’s thoroughly in favour of this song making the finals. I hope they don’t have to lean forwards at any point.
Ooops, he broke his bow. It’s a good thing he’s not actually allowed to play that thing on stage.
But I’d like this to go through. I’m enjoying this one, especially the acrobatics on stage.
And fireworks! I’m a tart for fireworks.

CYPRUS: “Firefly.”
Right: I want spaceships. And space hookers. And Adam Baldwin. And Gina Torres. And a strangely inappropriate Western theme song.
I’ll be very disappointed, otherwise.
I think I’m going to be very disappointed.
NICK (singing): You can’t take my bra from me!
(Yes, I know. I’m thinking of muzzling him next year.)
Nick’s pointed out that the guitar part is very Coldplay. And we’re still waiting for someone to get kicked into a turbine.
NICK: You cannot muzzle me! I will not be silenced!
Is she wearing her rings backwards?
It’s . . . nice, I suppose. Some nice wavering in the vocals. Lovely stage sets. And she’s a beautiful girl.
But I just really don’t like Coldplay.
It’ll probably get through, though. She is terribly pretty. And they have those illuminated cube thingies, which are pretty awesome.

SLOVAKIA: “Let’ Tmou.”
This is a duet, is it? Hmm, in-jokes from the commentators.
Ah, that’s at least the second double-bass for this year’s Eurovision.
White grand piano! Do you think someone’s going to rise up out of that one, this year?
Gorgeous set. As always.
But—and I know this is unfashionable—the male singer, to me, looks as though he just shouted, “What do you mean I’m on stage in thirty seconds?!”
NICK: She’s going through notes no human should have to hear!
This is terribly overwrought, isn’t it? Both musically and emotionally.
I wish I knew enough about music to know if those are real notes, or not.
Remind me to drink out of plastic tomorrow night, if they get through.

DENMARK: “Believe Again.”
Ronan Keating helped write this song? Oh, please no.
What’s he sitting on?
Oh, no. We have boy band. I repeat: we have boy band.
You want to believe in love? I want to believe that this song will end soon. And also that the lead singer will one day be able to straighten his legs again.
And now he’s smirking at me!
NICK: It’s toe-tappingly terrible!
I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if this made it through, but I really, really don’t want to have to watch it again tomorrow night.
Ooh, fireworks!
Right, I’ve changed my mind.
I love fireworks.
And he didn’t quite make that last note.

Oh, dear: the hosts are back.

SLOVENIA: “Love Symphony.”
I’m worried about this song already—just based on the title.
Lovely, lovely staging once again. I’m partial to silhouettes on Eurovision.
Plus, I liked this song first time round, when ABBA performed it.
Wow, this is a long build up.
NICK: Is there an actual song?
The silhouette thing is getting a little old, actually, Do you think she’s coming out from behind that thing?
Nick’s waiting for Sutekh the Destroyer to turn up.
For the first time, the staging is completely (Ow! She didn’t make those notes!) overshadowing the performance.
Wind machine! Lovely!
Has anyone taken their kit off, yet?
That was terrible. That was terrible by Eurovision standards. Wow.

HUNGARY: “Dance With Me.”
What is happening with the back of of their skirts?!
Costume change! Finally!
NICK: Oh. Can they change it back, please?
Those trousers are . . . revealing.
SINGER: It’s written on your body as you’re putting up a fight.
That’s . . . really creepy, actually, singer.
As is your shirt.
NICK: He looks like he wishes he was the Irish contestant, actually. He has a kind of pervy leprechaun vibe.
The song itself—if you’re watching Eurovision for the songs—is pure 1980s’ disco.
Mate, you can wink at me all you like: I’m neither dancing with you nor making your body sway.

I loved, loved, loved Azerbaijan last year. I know there was some distaste for their performance, but it made my heart sing in a special way.
I’m betting this one won’t.
And turns out I’m wrong.
I love it already—just for the vaguely androgynous dancers in gold lame pants, purple chiffon, and corsets.
And I think we have a new contender for “shortest skirt of the competition.”
Nick’s right: this is the most purely Eurovision entry we’ve seen so far this year.
What is the female singer wearing on her knee?!
NICK: She’s got C3PO’s leg!
The song itself is rather boppy, though. It’s no Norway, but it’s not bad. And there’s some kind of steam machine behind the female lead singer—which is redundant, given she’s wearing a napkin.

GREECE: “This Is Our Night.”
Wonderful reveals? I feel a costume change coming on!
Why is everything so black and white this year?
NICK: Was that a Vulcan nerve pinch or a Tae Kwon Do move?
Ha! The leap off the stage is wonderful!
NICK: I’ve always thought Eurovision singer should be judged on the power of their thigh muscles rather than their singing.
Ack! And now he’s on a conveyor belt! Oh, I hope this guy gets through.
NICK: God bless you, Eurovision.
Key change!
This is pure Eurovision, too. Much, much better than last year’s Greek entry, which engendered homicidal fury in the ten-year-old boy I watched it with.

I’m starting to think no-one’s going to rise up out of a grand piano at all, this year.
Nick has named this singer “Twat-Hat Man.”
He really is a little sub-Freddy Mercury, isn’t he?
This is insanely dull. And perhaps a little creepy, judging from what little I can hear of the lyrics. There’s the odd little trilling effect to the chorus, which is rather sweet. But it’s too little, too late.
Ah, pefunctory key change. No point drinking for that one.
I’m not holding out much hope for Lithuania.
Did NOT see that coming.
NICK: I wonder if that was the rehearsal problem?

MOLDOVA: “Hore Din Moldova.”
Folk, eh? I’m hopeful already.
Ah, nice. I’m liking this already. Lovely, controlled, wavering vocals.
Cute, cute little costume.
Men in lovely national costumes doing kicky, twirly dances.
I like the kicky, twirly dances.
This is nice and bouncy—I’d like to see this go through.
And the stage set is one of the loveliest we’ve seen all competition, and that’s saying something. A stunning cross-stitch effect.
Right, Moldova are one of my new favourites.
Yep, “traditional but funky” about sums it up.

ALBANIA: “Carry Me In Your Dreams.”
Oh, dear. This is not starting well.
Nick thinks she’s Nikki Webster.
Pygmy. Vampire.
Bright green sequinned bondage gear.
Two pygmy vampires.
Break-dancing pygmy vampires.
And Nick and I are now convinced the sequinned bondage chap is only there to stop the singer from breaking her ankles in those heels.
Did I mention we have a winner for the shortest skirt in the competition?
And a wind machine.
I have no idea what the song is like. I haven’t heard a note.

UKRAINE: “Be My Valentine!”
Ah, unnecessary exclamation mark. I’m quite fond of unnecessary punctuation marks. In a kind of masochistic way.
What? The hell machine?
Oh. My. God.
Can’t blog. Laughing too hard.
Eyes up, cameraman! No, not that high!
NICK: Centurions! Battlestar Galactica style! But naked!
Still laughing too hard.
This is insane.
Strange bondage machines.
Strange bondage boots.
Now she’s riding one of the back-up dancers.
And now she’s drumming!
This is seriously (no other word for it) bat-shit crazy.
And I would say we had a new winner for shortest skirt, but that doesn’t even qualify as a skirt.
Words fail me.

ESTONIA: “Randajad.”
Oooh, nice trilling sound to this one. A little shrill, maybe.
I’m loving all the non-English songs this time.
John’s going to love this one—very, very Goth.
Well, we have a winner for lowest neckline.
Honestly, though: this has some lovely harmonies. There’s a nice rhythm to the lyrics. And the fact that I’m concentrating on the song should tell you how dull the staging is.
Wow, this is the Eurovision Of Violins.
Where are the fireworks? And the flamethrowers? And the wind machines? This is barely Eurovision, at all!

Oh, no. They’re talking to the audience. I hate that.
Ack! Disco-ball jacket!
“Love will make us glow in the dark”? I certainly hope not.
Wow, this is my primary-school song! “Let your light shine, let your light shine, let your light shine out for all to see!”
Well, close enough.
What on earth is that woman . . . playing? Does that qualify as playing? I can’t tell, because I don’t know what that is.
Hey, they’re actually disco-ball suits! Those must be uncomfortable to sit down in.
I really, really hope this doesn’t get through.
Key change!
Too little, too late, Netherlands. This is dull—and I don’t think you hit that last note, frankly.
Ha! And bitchy comment from the SBS commentator about how old they are.

Oh, dear: here are the Russian hosts, again. And the damn magic button again. Bring back last year, when they signalled the beginning of voting by hurling a basket of apples into the crowd.

MALE HOST: Are you ready?
FEMALE HOST: No, no, not yet.
NICK: Stop doing that to me, Andrey. You’re very unatttractive man.

And here we are with the recapping. Do you think we’ll get two sets of recaps again tonight?

Still seven minutes to vote: we’ve just recapped everyone, but I’m sure we’ll recap them again in a moment or two.

Actually, the painting montage was rather sweet. But what has the female presenter done to her hips?

And now we recap everyone again. I knew it! I knew it!

And now we’re back with hosts. But we still have thirty seconds to vote for our countries. If we’re in Europe. And have a time machine.

At least they’re counting right this time around, and not several seconds behind as they were last night.

These hosts are truly, truly terrible—but we have some sort of national performance, here. Apparently, they’re the “pride of Russia”—they seem to be a dance company. Honestly, I think Russia are doing a lovely job: the staging is brilliant and beautiful, and the national performances are fascinating.

(These are folk dancers from different nations, apparently.)

It’s just the hosts who are awful.

Ah, and the SBS commentators are being patronising again.

And now we have Greek folk dancing. According to Julia, you can’t not do it. I can, Julia. I assure you of that.

Now Russian folk dancing. Now, those are awfully pretty dresses. Yes, I am getting flashbacks to a couple of truly terrifying Russian fantasy movies (from the 1950s) that I’ve seen recently, but those dresses are so pretty. I would wear those to work.

The films weren’t deliberately terrifying, by the way. Have you ever seen old Russian fantasy films? Shudder.

Will we never run out of jokes about how old The Netherlands’ performers were?

We have to see these hosts again tomorrow night, don’t we? Oh, what a shame. But here we have the top five. Quick: stop Nick from grabbing the remote control this time!

FRANCE: As insanely dull as I remember. It is in French, but it’s still dull.
RUSSIA: As whingy as I remember it from last night. Maybe a little more angsty.
GERMANY: Did I say boppy yesterday? Did I add “slightly creepy”? And “unnecessarily retro”?
U.K.: Andrew Lloyd Webber? Kill me now. Please. But I hope we get more than zero points this time.
SPAIN: Typical vaguely disco Euro-pop.

And now we come to the results!

Wow! There’s more than one magic button? Kinky!

The results:
Azerbaijan! Well, I liked them. The androgynous dancers: we need more of them.
Croatia! Do you think it’s a coincidence that we saw a shot of them just before this result? They were a little waily and dull, for me.
UKRAINE! Oh, thank goodness. The naked centurions will be back.
Lithuania! The twat in the hat? Really? Wow. That was so, so dull.
Albania! Pygmy vampires? What is happening here?!
MOLDOVA! Well, we wanted them.
Denmark! Really? The boy band? I’m losing faith in your voting, Europe! Where’s Greece? And Norway?
Estonia! Dull, dull, dull. Greece now! And Norway! Okay, Europe?
NORWAY! Good. I liked this boy. He was sweet and peppy.
GREECE! Had to be. But I believe Julia when she says it’s not as random as they say it is.

Well, I’m quite happy with that. I didn’t want to watch The Netherlands again. Or (shudder) Hungary. Or Slovakia: so painful.

And that’s the live-blogging of Eurovision for 2009—at least as far as the Circulating Library is concerned. But we’ll do the semi-finals again next year. Of course we will! Where else will we find anthropomorphised bears and magic horses and such short, shirt skirts?

‘Til 2010, Eurovision!

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 1, 2009

Posted 15 May 2009 in by Catriona

This live-blogging is brought to you by the fact that I think I might be a little in love with my new tracksuit pants. It doesn’t count as infidelity when the co-respondent (so to speak) is a item of clothing, right?

So here we are for the first of the two semi-finals for this year’s Eurovision. Since Russia won last year, I’m hoping we have a reprise of the completely random ice-skater from last year’s competition.

I would like that.

I’m easily pleased.

Aw, vale Bud Tingwell. I watched some “Charlie the Wonderdog” in your memory this afternoon.

As a warning, though, this is a two-hour broadcast—I can’t guarantee there won’t be typing errors before 9:30 p.m. I’ll catch what I can as I type, but there will almost certainly be errors. I only hope they’re humorous ones. Like “agast.”

Of course, now we’re stuck in the pre-programme limbo of advertisements. The problem with that is that I become bored, and then I begin blogging about anything that comes into my mind. I’ll be good.

Or I’ll sit on my hands until the broadcast starts.

Nick will be moderating the blog tonight, so please feel free to comment on the entrants—as here we go! Eurovision for 2009!

We have Julia Zemiro as an SBS host again, this year. I don’t mind her, but I’m also not an enormous fan. She didn’t irritate me last year, though.

You know what will irritate me, though? If we don’t have Russian travelogues during the broadcast. We didn’t have them last year, and it irritated me.

Wait, planets? And beasts and plants speaking to each other? And people learning how to fly? Well, girls: do you think that the flower knows how to fly? Really, do you think it does?

A magic horse? Wait, what? What is happening here? Still, at least the magic horse tells the girls that they should probably be talking to a bird. Do you think the girls should have figured that out, instead of talking to plants?

Now there’s a dragon?! I have no idea what’s happening now. But there are fireworks, so I don’t particularly care.

I’d love to know what this has to do with Eurovision, though.

I do like that firebird.

Okay, now the host has mentioned “the magic world of Russian fairy tales,” I feel a little guilty for making fun of them. No, wait: a song that gives people wings? Are we speaking literally or metaphorically? Why am I worrying about this?

Ack! Are those children dressed as brides?

Oh, no: awkward banter about whether the (fictional, exclusively on a video screen) dragon might or might not have eaten one of the co-hosts. Followed by an incredibly awkward moment where the female co-host froze while reading the cards. And then a James Bond joke.

Welcome to Eurovision!

MONTENEGRO: “Just Get Out Of My Life”
Well, he’s half-naked already! Nope, he’s put his shirt back on.
Her dress is terribly cute—I imagine the people in the front row are appreciative, too.
What are the lyrics here? “Just get out of my head”? Or “just get out of my bed”? And was that really “Get out of my cyst”? It can’t have been, surely?
Well, he’s taken his jacket off.
I’d blog about the dancing, but I can’t stop laughing. Come back, man in the white trousers!
I love it! I have no idea what the song is about, or even what the singer’s doing, but that man has made my day.
I hope they get through.

CZECH REPUBLIC: “Aven Romale.”
Super Gypsy? Seriously? Is he wearing a cape?
Oh my god, he is! He’s wearing a cape!
And flares!
The woman with the violin and the stripey tights is giving me Bosnia and Herzegovina 2008 flashbacks. Not good ones.
This singer’s moustache is rather fabulous, though.
I have to say, though, cape or no cape, I have a feeling there’s something interesting behind this song, whereas I’ve forgotten the last song already.
But the cape! The cape!
I’m loving the Pop Art backdrop to the performance, too.

BELGIUM: “Copycat.”
Let’s see what’s happening here. The singer has had a cold, they say? Well, that’s promising.
Oh, what?
John, I thought you were kidding when you said he was an Elvis impersonator?!
Gold lame jacket, greased-back hair, “Copycat” spelt out in lights—and a double bass, for no apparent reason.
I love the red bob on one of the back-up singers, though. I have a green wig cut like that.
Unfortunately, I can’t make out anything this man’s singing. He’s being completely drowned out by the music and back-up singers—and his own appalling diction. That might be the cold, or it might just be a poorly mixed performance. I don’t know.
Funky lights, though.

Congrats on the staging, Russia! It’s been pretty impressive, so far.

BELARUS: “Eyes That Never Lie.”
Oooh, eerie green lighting.
What the hell is happening now?
Okay, so we’ve opened to someone standing on a table with a white sheet over them and a wind machine aimed directly at them.
No, I’m not making this up.
It’s a coffee table, if that helps.
And the lead singer’s wearing a white leather suit.
No shirt, obviously. This is Eurovision.
I’m not actually minding this song, though. Even with the strange sheet-draped man—but, um, camera? You need to stop twirling around like that, okay? I’m going to be quite ill if you don’t.
Now they’re projecting flames onto the sheet!

SWEDEN: “La Voix.”
Sweden’s are combining pop with opera? Kill me now!
I swear I’ve heard this song before. John, have you already made a joke about Andrew Lloyd Webber writing this entry?
NICK: Wow. She’s incredibly white.
But, as he points out, she has unearthly black eyes.
Oh.My.Goodness. She’s a Stephenie Meyer-style vampire! And she’s hasn’t eaten in days! Run, back-up dancers! Run for your lives!
The song? No idea.
She does obviously have a well-trained voice. But the song itself is just slipping off my eardrums.
Ack! Except for that note.
And what are the back-up dancers wearing now?
Oh, I see: distract the vampire with shiny things. Good thinking, back-up dancers.
Ow, my eardrums!

ARMENIA: “Jan Jan.”
Hmm, a song and dance that has taken the world by storm? We’ll see about that.
Ah, our first dry ice of the evening! That’s a vote for Armenia.
Actually, I’m loving the costumes—as is at least one of the cameramen. They’re quite fascinating, especially as we swing straight into a terribly MTV-pop chorus.
I’m not seeing much evidence of a dance that could take the world by storm, though.
NICK: Ah, exotic priestesses with garter belts.
Sadly, the costumes are the only part of this that’s interesting me.

Aw, they’re interviewing the white-leather-suited chap from Belarus, and he’s singing for them. That’s rather sweet. And a little painful, on that last note.

I’m thinking that Belarus are my current favourite. That’s out of six countries, mind—so take it as you will.

ANDORRA: “Get A Life/La Teva Decisio.”
Didn’t the Andorran singer last year wear a breastplate? I seem to remember that.
NICK (singing): Because I’m profoundly in love with Andorra!
And, once again, there are people fervently offering up thanks for their luck in obtaining front-row tickets. That is one seriously short skirt.
Actually, let’s not mince words—that’s a belt.
She did just sing “I know I’m right“? It sounded like “I know I’m white“, but that can’t be right, surely?
Ah, no—it was clearer on the second chorus.
Okay—now I’ve stopped to listen to the lyrics, I just have some advice for anyone considering a romantic relationship with the protagonist of this song—RUN!
When did stalking become romantic?

SWITZERLAND: “The Highest Heights.”
Ah, Switzerland. Fill in the Swiss stereotype here.
Hey, it’s U2!
I didn’t know they were in Eurovision! And they seem to have lost at least one of their effects pedals.
NICK: I think they might be a little too good for this.
And, ten seconds later . . .
NICK: They look like the guest band on an Idol live-eviction show.
This is insanely forgettable. I expect it to reach number 25 on next year’s Hottest 100.
Oooh, nice mirrory backdrops, but this song is doing absolutely nothing for me. In fact, I think it may be borrowing a little nothing on advance from the next act—so if I’m unusually excited about Turkey, that’s why.

TURKEY: “Dum Tek Tek.”
There’s much shouting for this act.
And fireworks!
And bellydancers!
No, wait—the bellydancers are wearing knickerbockers. Knickerbockers that are slit to the thigh. That is the most awesome thing I have seen all night.
NICK: Oh, they looked better in silhouette! How disappointing.
Still, the advantage is that you don’t need to be in the front row for this one.
And the dancers are wearing gold cuffs around their ankles!
There’s an onomatopoeic element to this song that I rather like—and now we have a male belly dancer in a rather gorgeous moss-green silk skirt that I covet.
I wouldn’t mind them getting through.

ISRAEL: “There Must Be Another Way.”
Apparently, this is controversial. In Hebrew, Arabic, and English—an anthem for peace.
Me being me, this is reminding me mostly of the final line of the Doctor Who episode “Warriors of the Deep.”
Yes, I know I’m evil. And shallow.
I’d like to talk about the song (and it does have a nice rhythm, and makes the most of the switching between the languages) but I’m distracted by the pseudo-bondage outfits.
It’s all very “extras from Farscape.”
And now there’s random drumming. For about ten seconds. And it looks terribly fake. Which it is, of course—but that’s not the point.
Eurovision shouldn’t look fake.
No, wait: I’ve drunk too much. Or not enough. I forget how it works for Eurovision.

I’m not enjoying these travelogues. They’re not telling me anything! And there aren’t any Moomins.

BULGARIA: “Illusion.”
Wait, has anyone taken their kit off yet? After the jacketless man in the first song.
NICK: Oh, man. He’s on his way to a RenFaire and he got lost! He’s singing for his mead!
Seriously—this is a terribly straightforward pop song, sung by a man in a home-woven blouse and a cape.
NICK (singing): Gimme gimme gimme a joust after midnight!
And there are people on stilts.
If Bulgaria don’t go through tonight, I am so out of here.
Now one of the people on stilts is swinging the other one around by the stilts. I keep waiting for her to go flying off into the audience! Are those stilts glued to her?!
And the lime-green boots!
I love them.

These SBS commentators aren’t snarky enough. They’re boring me so much I’m just blocking them out now.

ICELAND: “It Is True.”
Wow, this girl looks familiar—who is she reminding me of?
This is insanely dull. I’m sorry, Iceland: I know you produce excellent detective fiction (but have you thought that, very soon, it’s going to be quite obvious who the murderer is? I mean, you could fit your entire population into one parlour scene) but this is crazy boring.
NICK: How do they breathe?
I think he means the dolphins, not the singers.
I’m sorry, Iceland, but you know how I feel about space dolphins.

I’m seriously digging on the stage set.

FYR MACEDONIA: “Neshto Shto Ke Osta.”
Oh, wow. It’s 80s’ poodle rock!
We don’t get enough of that in Eurovision.
One of them is even wearing a bandanna! And I mean around his neck! Not on his head! I haven’t seen anything like that since—well, since we went to see Spaceballs: The Musical at a local high school last night, but that’s beside the point.
Bog standard rock, this. Soft rock, too. Sorry, Macedonia, but it’s true.
Bring back last year’s Azerbaijan entry!
Oh, wow: synchronised overhead clapping.
Hmm, I might change my mind on this one for that alone.

Damn, that’s a lot of people watching! I had no idea.

ROMANIA: “The Balkan Girls.”
Another child prodigy, eh? The last one of those led us to a flying space dolphin, so let’s see . . .
I’m fairly sure that’s Holly Valance, actually.
And I think we have a winner for the night’s shortest skirt.
Now, this singer has a chair shaped like a tree and her back-up singers are seemingly dressed as nymphs and naiads.
So why is this song about clubbing?
For someone who debuted on the folk circuit when she was three, I was hoping for something a little more, you know, folky.
This is just MTV-pop. There’s been too much of that tonight.
And too few people taking their clothes off.

These SBS commentators are not doing it for me.

Terry! Terry! Terry!

FINLAND: “Lose Control.”
Oh, what?
Just, no.
Rapping? Backwards baseball cap? Well, there are teeny little dresses. And firedancers.
Okay, Finland: so far you’re halfway there.
I need the following: less rapping, more wind machines, and someone to take their clothes off.
And maybe some fireworks.
I’m a sucker for fireworks.
Wait, someone put an industrial bin on stage and then set fire to it? Wow, they have relaxed OH&S rules in Moscow. Apparently.

And we have an ad. break before the final three songs. And then the voting! I hope Finland don’t go through—I’ve forgotten all about them already.

Dear Melbourne,

“Discover how easy it is to lose yourself in Melbourne” is a remarkably stupid tagline for a tourism advertisement. You’re just going to have a bunch of semi-hysterical would-be tourists thinking, “But I’d never be able to find my hotel again! I’d be trapped! Trapped! Like that creepy vineyard advert. with the skipping butler.” Just a word of friendly advice.

Love, Me.

Ah! Czech Republic man in a cape again!

PORTUGAL: “Todas As Ruas Do Amor.”
So, the SBS commentators love this song, do they?
Let’s see about that.
I’m kind of liking this already, but not for a very good reason—I like it because it reminds me of a Bravia advert. that I always loved.
And here we go upbeat!
And a lovely, lovely set: it looks rather like Clarice Cliff pottery, but with sharper, more modern colours.
The costuming is gorgeous, too.
This reminds me rather of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s entry last year, but without the sequel, where I woke up in the middle of the night screaming, “The brides! The knitting! NO, NO NOT THE WASHING LINE!”
Yes, I like this. Very much. And I wish to own her shoes.

Russia? Whoever is staging Eurovision is a genius! How are you managing these displays? They are quite, quite stunning.

MALTA: “What If We.”
Hmm, Malta’s song last year was called “Vodka.” I’m disappointed already.
Um, SBS commentator? When you’re commentating for SBS, you might want to rethink statements such as “She’s due.” Or at least work on your diction.
Why, no: I haven’t mentioned the song yet. That’s because I fell into a brief coma.
No offense, Malta, but this is doing nothing for me.
And suddenly I feel like I’m watching a Disney movie.
And yet no one has taken their kit off. Or did they strip off while I was typing? I’d be very disappointed if that were the case.
Key change. But a very half-hearted key change.
No, I’m not putting my vote behind this one.

This better not be anything like last year’s performance.
“1950s’ Russian propaganda posters will come to mind, but enjoy it anyway.” I beg your pardon?
Oh, wow: this is like Eurovision’s version of The Cure’s “Lullaby.” The costuming is rather lovely. And, as with every single performance tonight, the stage sets are stunning.
Is it just me, or does it look as though sometime in the last year, a billionaire died and left his entire fortune to fund the staging and costuming of Eurovision? It seems so much shinier this year than last year. And I use “shinier” in both a strict denotative sense and a Firefly sense.
The song? I don’t know. I don’t hate it. But it seems as though the lead singer’s incredibly intense, slightly psychotic performance face is at odds with the rather jaunty (in a rather militaristic sense) song.
I wouldn’t mind it getting through, I suppose.

And now they’re pressing the “magic button” to allow Europe to vote.

Of course, we have a delayed telecast, don’t we? So haven’t all the decisions been made?

We’re having a flashback to the performances, now. I’m not recapping that, though. I need a breather before we head to the results.

We still have seven minutes before the voting closes, so there’s a little travelogue of some major Russian successes over the past few years. Frankly, I’m finding these SBS commentators rather patronising here.

But then the Russian presenters do an insanely sexist little skit about voting, and I forget it all.

And now we’re recapping all the performances again. Seriously, again? Can’t we just have the results of the voting? Oh, I see: not for another three minutes.


Sorry about that. I wasn’t going to comment on the recapping of the original recapping of the performances, but, well, it was a flying space dolphin. It took me by surprise. (Yes, the third time around. I’m easily surprised.)

So voting has closed for the first semi-final. And now we go for an ad. break. Seriously, SBS? Now? Why not ten minutes ago, when nothing was happening?

Ooh, I forgot: this is the television station that decided the best way to follow up on the Eurovision semi-finals was to show ABBA: The Movie. Again.

Of course, the longer we pause here, the more I’m remembering how much I’ve drunk over the last two hours.

Do we have the results yet? No, not quite. We have some Russian performers (and the same old James Bond joke all over again) first. I’d like to say who they are, but I couldn’t quite make it out. (Just quietly? The presenters? Not so great.)

Oooh, it’s an army choir! The Alexandrasov Red Army Choir and some other people whose names I missed because “Alexandrasov” is a difficult word to type. And I’ve probably spelt it wrong, too.

Some fabulous dancing, but there’s something wrong with the sound mixing, because the loudest sound by fair is the squeaking of the rubber-soled shoes against the floor. Ooh, but now we have some lovely Cossacks—beautiful, beautiful costuming. I do so like the national performance aspect of the Russian semi-finals.

Sword dancing! Fantastic. And the choir is singing all the way through—they’re lovely, really. I do like a male choir.

Wow! These drummers are fantastic! Sam, are you taking notes? They’re even playing each other’s drums! And I didn’t mention the hip-hop dancers and cheerleaders and flamenco dancers. (Or perhaps they were Romani?)

Oh, what? Do we really have to listen to t.A.T.u.? Even with the military drummers? Nick’s cranky, because the vocals are so heavily processed, and he thought that was against the rules for Eurovision. I pointed out that t.A.T.u. aren’t actually competing, but he didn’t seem convinced by that argument.

Now, the Big Five.

FRANCE: Dull. I passed out and hit my head on the coffe table.
RUSSIA: I missed half because of my fainting spell. The rest didn’t impress me. A bit whingy.
GERMANY: Boppy. But not terribly exciting.
U.K.: Oh, really not my cup of tea. I hope they get some points, though.

And I missed the last one, because Nick changed the channel. Don’t ask me why. I don’t think I’ve missed any of the results.

The results:

Turkey! Well, the knickerbockers didn’t appeal to me, but the song was rather cute.
Sweden! Ah, the vampire woman. Hmm. She’s also freakishly tall. I’m not so sure about that one.
Israel! No surprise there. It was . . . well, I’m not annoyed to see it go through.
Portugal! Now am I am pleased about that. Lovely little song, that was. And I hope it has the same set as tonight, because that was so pretty.
Malta! Malta? Really? Wow. I wasn’t the slightest bit impressed with Malta.
Finland! What on earth is happening here? Finland? With the firedancers in the bolero shrugs? Why, Europe? Why?
Bosnia and Herzegovina! I noticed, during the recaps, that the men in that were wearing pants, but the women weren’t.
Romania! The strange naiads. I thought during the recaps that the chorus included the line “Going to shag all night” but that can’t be right, surely?
Armenia! Really? The costumes were great, but the song becomes more boring every time I hear it.
And last place goes to Iceland! No. No! NO! The flying space dolphins!

But what about Belarus? Oh, and the chappie in the RenFaire gear? He didn’t make is through, did he? Who was that? I forget so quickly.

Well, that’s semi-final one. I’m off, because my back is killing me. But be here tomorrow for semi-final two, when Nick will only change the channel during a key moment on pain of death.



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