Dec. 25, 2013 | 11:00 a.m.
On Christmas Day 2013, Peter Capaldi will take over for Matt Smith as the star of “Doctor Who,” the phenomenal BBC sci-fi series about a traveler in time and space. (It airs here on BBC America.) At some point in the holiday special “The Time of the Doctor,” Smith’s Doctor will regenerate into Capaldi’s — same character, new body — and the era of the 12th Doctor will begin. Capaldi is best known to Americans, which is not to say well known, as the F-bombing spin doctor in Armando Iannucci’s political comedies “The Thick of It” (BBC series) and “In the Loop” (film spinoff) and, reaching back through the foggy mists of time, for Bill Forsyth’s gentle comedy of Scotland, “Local Hero.” At any rate, he is better known to us than were immediate predecessors Smith, David Tennant and Christopher […]
Aug. 05, 2013 | 2:47 p.m.
PERSPECTIVE And as the world (or one obsessed subset thereof) watched, the name of the person to play the Twelfth Doctor — though not, of course, the name of the Doctor, which shall remain unspoken — was revealed. Peter Capaldi, the bookmakers’ choice by a wide margin, will take over for the retiring Matt Smith, the Doctor since 2010. Smith’s Doctor will regenerate into Capaldi’s — same character, just a different body — this Christmas. The new star of “Doctor Who” is best known to Americans, which is not to say well known, as the F-bombing spin doctor in Armando Iannucci’s political comedies “The Thick of It” (BBC series) and “In the Loop” (film spinoff) and, reaching back through the foggy mists of time, for Bill Forsyth’s gentle comedy of Scotland, “Local Hero.” He is, at any rate, better known […]
May 12, 2013 | 9:57 a.m.
PERSPECTIVE I came to “The X-Files,” which turns 20 this year, after its first season, and for a time I had no idea what was happening. This was a good way to watch a show whose greatest strength was its air of dreamlike mystery. Folded across the turn of the 21st-century, it was a millennial show for a millennial time, reflecting a popular preoccupation with apocalypse and messiahs, puzzling phenomena and unexplained mysteries, psychic surgeons and alien autopsies, random mutations and science gone too far. It was also, looking back on old episodes, a time of pay phones, answering machines, tape recorders, dot-matrix printouts, padded shoulders and big eyeglasses. The basics were fairly clear: Fox “Spooky” Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were FBI agents whose particular job it was to handle cases outside the bounds of […]
May 07, 2013 | 7:10 p.m.
Model animator Ray Harryhausen, who brought monsters and dinosaurs and all manner of critters to life, frame by frame, in feature films from “Mighty Joe Young” (1949) to “Clash of the Titans” (1981), died Tuesday in London at the age of 92. Inspired by Willis O’Brien, who animated “King Kong,” he was himself the stated inspiration for generations of sci-fi and fantasy filmmakers. And he scared a lot of little kids, which I know for a fact. It’s not quite right to call his passing the end of an era, because Harryhausen’s era predeceased him by some time, buried in an avalanche of increasingly sophisticated computerized special effects from which the actual hand of man has been all but erased. To be sure, it was his own goal to make his effects invisible, to seamlessly mate his miniatures with the […]
March 22, 2013 | 1:58 p.m.
PERSPECTIVE In the annals of space, time and television, there is nothing quite like “Doctor Who,” the British sci-fi series that this year is celebrating a 50th anniversary, in your Earth years. Only “Star Trek” comes close for persistence of a franchise, and it does not come close. What sets “Doctor Who” apart is that, notwithstanding the distance from its paint-and-cardboard, spaceship-on-a-string early episodes to the beautifully realized, seamlessly fantastic creation it is today, the current series is the same one that began on the BBC in 1963 — neither a sequel nor a re-conception, but the identical show. It has centered on the same character: an extraterrestrial Time Lord who travels all of creation in what looks like an old London police box and who has been played by 11 actors, each new Doctor a “regeneration” of the last, […]
Jan. 02, 2012 | 10:57 a.m.
Los Angeles Times television critic Robert Lloyd is a longtime “Tintin” fan. He has been writing a series of posts on the heritage of the character. This installment explores the bookshelf epic’s many costars and companions. Tintin, the Belgian boy reporter, did not travel alone. From the very beginning to the very end he was accompanied by his dog, Snowy, and as the years went on, he collected other friends and kept them: a bibulous sea captain, a pair of lookalike detectives, a hard-of-hearing inventor, an Italian soprano. Snowy: For his first eight adventures, Tintin’s sole sidekick was the little wire fox terrier (or, as creator Hergé once described him, “approximately” a wire fox terrier) English readers know as Snowy. His French name, Milou, came from the nickname of Hergé’s first girlfriend — or from Belgian motorcycle champion Rene Milhoux, according […]
Dec. 13, 2011 | 9:16 a.m.
Los Angeles Times television critic Robert Lloyd is a longtime “Tintin” fan and he will be writing a series of posts on the heritage of the character. This installment explores: Who is Hergé? A December 1972 photo in Paris shows Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, aka Hergé. (Getty Images) Hergé is the pen name of Georges Remi, who created, and for 54 years wrote and drew “The Adventures of Tintin.” I will just call him Hergé here. Hergé — Remi’s initials backwards, pronounced in French — was born in Etterbeek, Brussels, Belgium on May 22, 1907; like his hero, he was a city boy with a taste for the outdoors. His first published drawings, after his school paper, were for the monthly Le Boy Scout Belge; he had been a Scout himself, and made his first comic-strip hero — Totor, a […]
Nov. 22, 2011 | 4:09 a.m.
Los Angeles Times television critic Robert Lloyd is a longtime “Tintin” fan and he will be writing a series of posts on the heritage of the character. This installment explores: Who is Tintin? Tintin is a young Belgian reporter of somewhat indeterminate age, the central figure in Hergé’s world-beloved comic-strip/comic-book series “The Adventures of Tintin.” I say “reporter,” because he is at times described as one, but apart from asking a lot of questions he is almost never shown at work. (Indeed, in the stories he is more reported upon than reporting.) Nevertheless, the notion of the job gives the character a reason to travel and frames a life of investigation and adventure; it also made him, for a while, a figure both in and of the newspaper that first published “Tintin,” Belgium’s Le Vingtième Siècle, in its children’s supplement, […]
Nov. 17, 2011 | 3:00 a.m.
Los Angeles Times television critic Robert Lloyd is a longtime “Tintin” fan and he will be writing a series of posts on the heritage of the character. This post has been corrected, as detailed below. Tintin is a comic-strip/comic-book character — a young Belgian reporter, nominally, but a reporter who has rarely done any reporting — and by extension the name for all the characters and things that fall within his world, as laid out in the 23 books (and an incomplete 24th, eventually published in sketchbook form) that comprise “The Adventures of Tintin.” Unlike Superman or Mickey Mouse, who have outlived their creators to be re-imagined to whatever purpose the current age or copyright-holder demands, Tintin’s adventures, which began in 1929 with “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets,” came to a close with the 1983 death of the man who invented […]
April 23, 2011 | 9:40 a.m.
Times television critic Robert Lloyd checks in on tonight’s return of the Doctor. The Doctor is (back) in. The second season of the adventures of the 11th Doctor — which is also, officially, the sixth series of the post-16-year-TV-hiatus 21st-century “Doctor Who,” if you don’t count a year of “specials” — begins Saturday on BBC America, with an emphasis on the “America.” It has been a while — whatever “a while” means in the curlicue chronologies of this time-twisting show — since the Doctor (Matt Smith) has run with recent and future traveling companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), now newlyweds. But they have been getting messages from him out of the deep past: the Doctor naked in a Baroque painting, cavorting in a fez in a Laurel and Hardy film. And then comes an actual invitation (in a “Tardis […]