Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Look What I Got...


This little beauty arrived in the post this morning and I felt I should share with you all! I'm currently waiting to hear back from the BBC as to whether my press pass for the upcoming Doctor Who Convention has been granted so I will keep you posted. 

Christmas special information is coming too - sorry about any delays!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

'The Wedding of River Song' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 13 - 'The Wedding of River Song'
Written by Steven Moffat - Directed by Jeremy Webb

So, here we are, the end of another series of our beloved 'Doctor Who'. It's been an incredible, complex and slightly disjointed journey and one which no fan wants to end, but hold back the tears and that sinking feeling of having to put up with mindless reality television every Saturday night from now on and let's assess tonight's finale. GERONIMO! 

Plot Outline:
April 22nd 2011 - The day of The Doctor's death. The location - Lake Silencio, Utah. The time - 5:02pm. This is the moment that has been waiting for him and the single thing even he cannot avoid. This is where 'Silence Will Fall'.

 Regular readers will know that I had quite a few problems with the mid-series finale 'A Good Man Goes to War' and indeed with having the mid-series break in general. The single thing one prayed was for 'The Wedding of River Song' not to replicate the disappointment and mistakes of episode 7 and with great relief it didn't. However, there were certainly some problems which I want to get out in the open now.

 Firstly, in regards to the series overall, it was not as consistent as series 5 and I truly believe this is because of the break. It made series 6 feel like two mini-series' rather than a complete package. It also made many episodes - amazing ones at that, seem utterly redundant; in fact the only episodes from the first half which truly impacted on the finale was 'The Impossible Astronaut'/'Day of the Moon' and 'A Good Man Goes to War'

Series 5 had a beautifully constructed continuity with the crack in Amy's wall amongst over things whilst 2011's adventures seemed fairly fragmented. That's not to say series 6 was bad, far from it - it featured 3 incredible episodes and a handful of brilliant ones, but it just didn't live up to it's predecessor.  

 'TWORS' sadly felt rushed in certain areas and did not allow enough time to build tension and momentum - this I believe is due to only issuing 45 minutes to a story which had so much heft and plot points to tie. It simply wasn't enough - it should have been a two-parter or at least an hour in length. Finally, the last complaint lies with Moffat and his 'promises'. Audiences were supposed to have everything tied up and understood; nothing left at a loose end. Yes, we found out a few things, but information regarding The Silence is still aloof as well as other important plot points. It's a real shame and a bit of a cheek in all honesty.

 So far you are probably thinking this is a one star review right? Well no, it's certainly not because despite it's flaws, 'TWORS' was a greatly entertaining and thrilling final episode which boasted fantastic performances, terrific action and beautiful dialogue from Moffat's superb script.

 The visuals were incredibly striking throughout - from the eerie hall of water tanks filled with the dreaded Silence, to the hilariously endearing futuristic London and Cairo - A pyramid with the USA flag and 'Area 52' slapped across it's side was amongst the highlights. Webb's direction was also fantastic and presented clear uses of advance camera movements and techniques. Dramatic close-ups and drifting wide angles were a-plenty here.

 Despite one's niggles with the series' linear narrative wrap-up in total, as in individual script, 'TWORS' was a success. As previously mentioned, the dialogue was excellent; "Texting and Scones" will become an infinitely quoted 'Who' line, plus the cross-cutting nature of the episode was engaging and gripping, and the big reveals were handled with great skill and tremendous execution from the TARDIS gang. Plus seeing Mark Gatiss pop up as Gantok was great and death by staving skulls was just genius.

 As the series closes, audiences now know why River Song is in prison and who she killed, and fully understood the elements to The Doctor and her's mismatched timeline - whilst he's 'dead' in one timeline, she is meeting him at the Byzantium in another. It also made use of the Teselecta from 'Let's Kill Hitler' which happened to become a major plot point - something which I did not imagine and was pleasantly surprised by. Fans also learnt about the mysterious eye-patch or 'Eye-Drive' which is a device worn when surrounded by The Silence in order for one to remember seeing them; a smart and intriguing concept from Moffat.

 As usual, Smith was electric here and gave a stunning performance. The sequences between him and River in the final moments were sublime and drenched with emotion. Alex Kingston was also fantastic and owned the screen in the scenes she featured. Gillan and Darvill were both brilliant too and had amusingly awkward chemistry. Rory's Silence Soldier referring to Amy as 'Ma'am' was funny stuff.

 So in summary, The Doctor's final outing in series 6 was a mixed bag, but I generally believe there was more sweet than sour offerings here and I'm pleased the series has ended on a higher note. With Claire Skinner ('Outnumbered') signed for the Christmas special and rumours that it will be based on C.S Lewis' 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', there's plenty to get excited about over the next few months and the release of the new Adventure Game, 'The Gunpowder Plot' will hopefully ease some pain whilst waiting for December. Once Series 6 Part 2 is released on DVD and Blu-Ray, I'll spend a day watching them one by one and see just how much difference the break made, but at this current stage in space and time, I believe it made a significant difference and I sincerely hope Moffat does not choose to do it again...

Monday, 26 September 2011

'Closing Time' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 12 - 'Closing Time'
Written by Gareth Roberts - Directed by Steve Hughes

In Series 5, we were all treated to a wonderfully funny and refreshing episode from Gareth Roberts called 'The Lodger' which starred James Corden alongside our favourite Time Lord. Now we are lucky enough to see the twosome join up again in Series 6's penultimate episode, 'Closing Time', but after such a strong streak of great episodes in the second half of this series, will this episode join the list of hits, or fizzle out rather than bang?

Plot Outline:
It's 200 years later and tomorrow The Doctor will face his inevitable fate so he decides to visit his old friend Craig. After noticing strange disappearance stories in the local paper, the pair investigate along with Craig's young son Alfie. Soon it's revealed the Cybermen are back, and they won't leave quietly.

 After some strong emotional heft from the last two episodes, 'Closing Time' offered some of that great 'Who' wit we all cherish. Roberts' script is pin-pointed and smothered in brilliant humour making Smith and Corden a timeless double-act; a time-travelling Morecambe and Wise if you will. At points, one's sides were splitting at the great comedy that ensued throughout the episode and it was a great feeling with knowing what is round the corner for the Gallifreyan. Co-workers thinking the pair were a couple and The Doctor speaking 'baby' to Alfie (or has he wonderfully calls 'Stormaggedon') were amongst the comedic highlights.

 Much like in 'The Lodger', Roberts' story side-swipes Amy and Rory leaving The Doctor and Craig as the single driving forces. In the duo's previous outing, Amy was stuck in the TARDIS in a different time stream whilst here she happens to be famous and has her own fragrance on sale at the shop The Doctor decides to get a job in. There is a beautiful moment where The Doctor sees Amy's face on an advertisement billboard and Hughes camera angle makes it look like she's still watching over her Raggedy man. The product's strap-line is also "For girls who are tired of waiting" which is rather cool in my books.

 But aside from all the laughs and the usual companion alienation, 'Closing Time' offered the Eleventh Doctor his first proper Cyberman story. Although the robots have appeared in episodes with him ('The Pandorica Opens', 'A Good Man Goes to War' ect.), there hasn't been a good old fashioned tale with my favourite villains as the 'monster of the week' since Tennant's Tenth Doc. 

 Here the Cybermen are 'building' underneath a large department store and taking employees and stripping them of the emotions as they put them in that infamous armour; all in a normal day's work for the cyborgs. However, in this episode audiences are presented by Cybermats - small rodent-like robots which can bite and can lead victims to the Cybermen. The Doctor has faced these pests in the past, in fact they first appeared alongside the Second Doctor in 'The Tomb of the Cybermen' but these up-to-date Cybermats look sleek and creepy. It was great to see Roberts bring back a past, and perhaps forgotten element of the 'Who' world.

 The performances were equally brilliant - as previously mentioned, Smith and Corden have such electric chemistry together; they feel like they have been partners and best of friends for years even though they have only met twice. The thing that made 'The Lodger' so special was trying to see The Doctor adapt to 'normal' human life - seeing a man so intelligent having trouble brushing his teeth and showering was timeless, and a similar format applies here. The Doctor's job in a toy department was quite frankly amazing and both leads were tremendous here.

So in answer to my earlier question, 'Closing Time' snuggles in nicely to the winning streak of Series 6 and what really bumped up tonight's episode was that ending. River, The Silence, The Diary, The Impossible Astronaut, THAT CREEPY SONG. If those two minutes have not wetted your appetite dramatically for 'The Wedding of River Song' then nothing will, and I for one cannot wait to RSVP my invitation...

Monday, 19 September 2011

'The God Complex' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 11 - 'The God Complex'
Written by Toby Whithouse - Directed by Nick Hurran

It's unquestionably true that Series 6 has been on a bit of a winning streak since it's return with last week's 'The Girl Who Waited' being sumptuous, masterful television and the best episode of the series so far. Many including myself have anticipated this week's episode since preview clips arrived from Comic Con in July but will Whithouse's hotel of horrors cope under the immense weight of last week?

Plot Outline:
The TARDIS arrives in a seemingly normal hotel, but it soon becomes aware there is no exit in their current location and that every visitor to the hotel has their own personal room waiting for them. Behind each door lies one's greatest fear and the worst nightmare they have ever endured causing frenzy and soon death. Will The Doctor be able to stop the hysteria and horror before it's too late?

 Right from the opening scene, 'The God Complex' sets it's tone, atmosphere and mood - from crane shots of endless staircases, to slowly trickling through vacant and eerie hallways, viewers are aware instantly that this hotel is bad news. If any viewers are horror movies fans, they will recognise the hotel in a previous work too because this spooky stop-off is certainly modelled on the insanely scary hotel featured in Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' (1980), in fact it looks SO similar, it would not be a surprise if the 'Doctor Who' team got the original set designers of the film to lend them a hand. With this being said, it could be easy to take it as a criticism when in fact it's praise; who wouldn't want to take a second trip to that terrifying cavern of ghouls and ghosts?

 Thankfully, the nasty occupants in 'The God Complex' are a refreshing mix of new and old villains which will thrill and chill audiences as well as the TARDIS team. Clowns, puppets, Weeping Angels, attractive girls having a chat? Yes, everything one fears is here. But perhaps the scariest of all is the parading Minotaur who comes for victims after they have experienced their room and have begun to exclaim the phrase "PRAISE HIM!".

 In many ways, Whithouse's tale is not like a conventional 'Who' and more like a Psychological Horror condensed into 45 action-packed and incredible minutes. One minute, audiences can be entranced by the fear of the current moment and then, as quick as a flash be presented by a character dementedly cackling whilst the words "PRAISE HIM" flash on the screen in all epileptic glory - It was refreshingly frightening and gloriously executed.  As well as having a superior narrative and production format, it was also beautifully directed by Hurran who is able to make the hotel feel so claustrophobic even though it's endless. Tricky camera angles and spiralling shots were a-plenty and the episode greatly benefited from this.

 The episode was also full of little perks that put a big geeky smile across my face like The Doctor's room being number '11' and amongst the photos of lost souls in the hotel featured a very happy Marcus Wilson (the show's producer) and various villains in shirt and ties - a personal favourite was a Silurian. 

 But as well as being spooky and edgy, 'The God Complex' was littered with humour with the majority of it in the form of Gibbis played by the wonderful David Walliams; lines such as "Resistance is exhausting" were simply side-splitting. Our good old Time Lord had some laughs in him too, particularly where he "fires" Amy and calls Rory "Beaky".

 As usual, the performances were brilliant with Smith being the star. He is eccentrically bizarre throughout before crashing back to reality and creating sheer emotion and tear-jerking moments as he and Amy exchange kind words whilst leaning on an E-Type Jaguar. Gillan and Davrill were also fantastic and the episode ends with Amy being called 'Williams' rather than 'Pond' - it was a frankly touching moment and a satisfying conclusion. As previously mentioned, Walliams was hilarious and made Gibbis an extremely likeable if a little selfish tag-along.

 After last week's powerhouse of tears, raw emotion and questions of reality and human rights, 'The God Complex' softened the tone but increased the frights and it was a simply magnificent experience. Whithouse's hotel of horrors is something of a treasure and is amongst the series' highlights alongside 'Day of the Moon', 'The Doctor's Wife' and of course 'The Girl Who Waited'. Next week's 'Closing Time' sees the brilliant Craig (James Corden) return, Cybermen and The Doctor working in a toy store. Bring it on!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

'Who' Wins at TV Awards!

Big Smiles as 'Who' Wins Awards!

Last night's TV Choice Awards saw Karen Gillan grab the Best Actress award for her performance as Amy Pond and 'Doctor Who' win the Best Family Drama prize.

Former Doctor David Tennant also obtained the Best Actor achievement for his performance in the BBC One drama 'Single Father'. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' other amazing show 'Sherlock' took home a trophy too for Best New Show.

Congrats from Mad Man, Blue Box to all the winners and nominees.

'The God Complex' Preview Videos!

If You Can't Wait for The God Complex...

'The God Complex' Episode Clips!

If you weren't excited enough already for Saturday night's episode, these three clips are certain to get you bouncing off the walls! 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

'The God Complex' Content!


'The God Complex' Arrives Next Week!

David Walliams. A Minotaur. Clowns. Weeping Angels. A setting that mimics 'The Shining' - This episode should be incredible! Here's the trailer and a message from Arthur Darvill to get you all pumped for next week! Enjoy!

'The Girl Who Waited' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 10 - 'The Girl Who Waited'
Written by Tom MacRae - Directed by Nick Hurran

I've made no secret about my hopes for this episode, in fact it's been my most anticipated of the sixth series. My favourite episode of last year's series was the fabulous 'Amy's Choice' so the thought of another Pond-centred tale excited me beyond belief, but were my expectations met?

Plot Outline:
The TARDIS arrives on the planet Appalachia; a place The Doctor has told Amy and Rory is wonderful. However, on arrival the trio are welcomed to sheer white emptiness. It's soon revealed that Appalachia is a therapy facility in which the ill come to stay and eventually die. Amy unfortunately manages to lock herself into a different time stream to The Doctor and Rory which begins an eventful and emotional ride which is a struggle to overcome.

 'Doctor Who' is that rare television show that still after all these years, is able to shift and side-swipe it's audience. You could be thinking one thing but actually it's something entirely different. This is one of the areas where the show strives and 'The Girl Who Waited' re-enforces this idea completely. 

 What starts out as a intriguing Sci-Fi plot soon turns into a gripping, taut and harrowing exhibition of love, human rights and equality. Nothing is as it seems and consequently the plot reflects this to the viewer. One moment you could be laughing at another classic line from Rory before being shot back down to reality by an emotional bullet to the heart making this 45 minute tale is an extraordinary example of scripting, performing and above all else, television.

 Some of the show's best episodes have been 'Doctor-light' such as 'Blink' and 'The Girl Who Waited' rightfully joins that list. That's not to say The Doctor being absent is better, far from it and he is certainly more frequent here than in 'Blink', but it's nice to see that previous Cyberman writer Tom MacRae focused his story on Amy and Rory. It's rare to have two companions who are so intrinsically detailed and designed so it makes sense to give them an episode to express that, and what a better way of digging deep into a character's psyche than to have the particular character in question meet an older version of themselves?

 Old Amy had been through so much in her 36 years alone and isolated in her long-lost time stream - she has spent her days hiding and fighting off the 'friendly' Handbots and hoping that Rory and The Doctor would save her. Once Rory finds her, she is devoid of emotion and pity, and unsurprisingly has a sheer hatred of our Gallifreyan hero. The contrast between the Amy Pond we know and love, and the fearless and tormented elderly version forces an incredible weight onto Rory and indeed the viewers. Old Amy has basically lived her life for death, and for young Amy to be saved would shift her timeline once again causing the older version to have never existed. 36 years of solitude just to be wiped out for 'another' version of yourself is a heavy and monumentally unfair burden to face. 

 The gravity of Amy and Rory's situation is enormous and tests their relationship greatly, and it's here where 'The Girl Who Waited' shines brighter than the piercing white light from The Interface. Karen Gillan's performance is simply spellbinding - it's easily her best to date, and considering she's always great, this episode is proof of just how talented she is. Playing both young and old Amy, she snatches every scene and performs with heartfelt emotion, edge and grit, and believability. It was stunning to watch her act so fabulously. Arthur Darvill was exceptional too and nailed the tough decisions he must make for his 'wives'. The sequence at the TARDIS door was the most honestly affecting and powerful scene of 2011 without a doubt and that's not just in 'Doctor Who' - that's the most powerful moment in the year's general TV viewing. Darvill's stress and pity struck such a chord with the viewer - easily enough to make a grown man cry. Smith was very good as ever but as I previously mentioned, this was the Pond's hour and what a magnificently fine hour it was.

 My original hopes for this episode were certainly met and quickly surpassed making 'The Girl Who Waited' the best episode of Series 6 by a country mile. Television rarely meets these heights and manages to blow one away so dramatically. It was visually beautiful in it's set design, detail and production, narratively beautiful with it's perfect scripting, formatting and developing and painstakingly beautiful from the incredibly moving and satisfying performances. If anybody thought this would just be a 'filler episode', I bet they are eating their hats right now. The Handbots frequently exclaimed "This is a kindness!" and they were right; it was incredibly kind of MacRae and the 'Doctor Who' team to give the world this masterpiece.

Friday, 9 September 2011

'The Girl Who Waited' Clips!

If like me you CANNOT wait for tomorrow night's episode, check out three exclusive clips from 'The Girl Who Waited' here right now! I have my suspicions that this could be amongst the best episodes of series 6 so let's keep them crossed! Enjoy Whovians!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Moffat's Web Wars...

Doctor Who

Since becoming the 'Doctor Who' showrunner, Steven Moffat has had to deal with a fairly large amount of angry customers. Firstly 'fans' moaned about Smith, then at the newly designed Daleks, followed by the decision to split Series 6 into two parts, followed again by the 'forcing' of River Song and now because of the 'over-complexities' of the current series. 

 Through the magic of the internet, it's incredibly simple to voice your opinion about something and it's just as easy to gain a response. Thanks to Moffat's frequently active Twitter page, he has been subjected to a tyrant of rather cruel and undeserving comments and suggestions from supposed 'fans' of the show. The website Digital Spy released an article about this over the weekend (which Moffat himself has said to ignore as it is just "spin"), but it does highlight his emotions to those causing him this extra grief. 

 It was claimed that one Twitter follower threatened to "beat him up" which again is not the full truth, in fact the follower in question, Faz (@TheFarran) posted this:

Since he made this comment, he has made a lengthy apology to Moffat and can understand why his remark was misconstrued. Ultimately though the underlying point is why bother making such ridiculous comments in the first place? Moffat is a screenwriter for a television show; that is his job, so why should users or 'fans' question that? If you are unhappy with the current direction of show, simply do not watch it, or alternatively, watch and then constructively criticize - write academically or at least sensibly with no foul language and make you opinion heard as well as being equally valid. 

 Moffat has complained at the language he has been subjected too which is also inexcusable. Calling somebody the 'C' word is never nice regardless of whether it is in person or not. It's quite simple that those who are making these remarks are not fans of the show; sure there are episodes which I think are weaker than others and indeed some that are just plain bad, but I certainly wouldn't then jump online and start shouting and swearing about it like some squared-eyed Neanderthal. 

 What Moffat has done with the last two series' of 'Doctor Who' is simply magnificent - to create Saturday teatime television that doesn't spoon-feed the viewer and actually requires some audience involvement and brain activity is revolutionary, and even better, the original core heart of the show is as present as it was through the RTD era and so on. Moffat's passion for the show gleams through his own works and reflects greatly upon the fellow contributing writers, and this passion is actively and beautifully portrayed through the electric cast.    

 We love 'Doctor Who' because of it's endless imagination, it's consistent intrigue, it's impossible beauty and it's craftsmanship. We love it because it's Sci-Fi with a heart, with emotion and with humour. It's the ultimate package - what other show can take viewers each week to a different point in all of space and time? The answer is simply none, so why do a few individuals feel they have the right to bash the man who is keeping this show for what it is and in all it's irrevocable glory? 

 I adore Moffat's writing and I believe his talents are reflected in all of his projects, and it angers me to think that people have the right to be so nasty about somebody purely based on their work. They need to grow up and learn that it is unacceptable to treat people in this manor.

Mad Man, Blue Box backs Steven Moffat all the way.

By Chris Haydon

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Whilst we Wait...

For 'The Girl Who Waited'...

Here's the trailer and a sneak-peak information video about next week's episode which looks frankly stunning. According to Gillan, it was her toughest episode yet so we are bound for great results. Enjoy the videos below...

'Night Terrors' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 9 - 'Night Terrors'
Written by Mark Gatiss - Directed by Richard Clark

After a triumphant return to Series 6 last week with Moffat's 'Let's Kill Hitler', Mark Gatiss has occupied the writer's chair and in rather usual fashion he has supplied fans with another warped and chilling tale - something which he does best. Like many 'Who' episodes, 'Night Terrors' has been labelled "The scariest of all time", but is this true?

Plot Outline:
The TARDIS trio arrive at a block of flats after The Doctor receives a stress call from a terrified little boy. George is scared of everything, especially the 'monsters' in his bedroom cupboard. His father Alex is at his wits-end with his son's irrational behaviour but The Doctor knows George's fears are justified as he knows that "Monsters are real..."  

 Last week's episode was weighted in core character drama and bridging the essential on-going story arc - thankfully Gatiss' eerie tale has left that alone for 45 minutes and given us a traditional "hide behind the sofa" 'Who'. This episode dangles fear by a string and patiently waits to drop it upon the viewer, taunting them with chills and suspense - there are no "BOO!" moments or obvious jumps, instead we see shadows linger across walls, dark figures lurking in the backgrounds and the demonic sounds of little girl's laughter that echoes through the vast and desolate location the gang find themselves in. For any child who finds house-hold creaks, the dark and light piercing through the edge of the door scary, they will have difficulty sleeping after this one...

 Admittedly, 'Night Terrors' is not the scariest episode of all-time, but it is certainly tense and presents it's horror effectively and sparingly - viewers are not presented by the freaky, oversized Peg Dolls until at least 25 minutes into this tale. We see shadows and scuttling movements, but never facial features and body movements until the final act. It's also fantastic to see an episode set in present day; just because The Doctor is located in a crummy block of flats does not mean horror is lurking around the corner - one doesn't have to go 123,000 years into the future for a fright.

 As well as the fear, Gatiss' script brings subtle and rather brilliant humour to his macabre adventure; during the episode's opening, The Doctor, Amy and Rory are subjected to making various house calls to locate poor little George. Having an elderly lady grill our Time Lord about transporting bin bags down numerous flights of stairs was side-splitting. For a man with such knowledge and life experience, it's great to see him have such difficultly with general tasks and situations. However, he is right about Rubik's Cubes; those things are broken.

 Like a lot of current adventures, we see The Doctor have his own duties to fulfil whilst Amy and Rory are located somewhere else getting into all kinds of trouble. When the couple board a lift that plummets them into the mystery 'doll's house', they seem ever so far away from The Doctor and security, even though they are actually just inside the cupboard he's leaning against; it's a beautiful and well-dramatised juxtaposition and one this episode continually recycles.

 The performances were all wonderful, with Jamie Oram as George and Danny Mays as Alex being the stand-outs. For such a young child having to carry the constant burden of being terrified, Oram gives a remarkably believable and touching portrayal; I expect to see him again on TV soon because the kid certainly has talent. Mays is one of my favourite British actors working today - he has such a presence and is able to pull off being a tough guy who's sensitive as easy as breathing. His chemistry with Oram here made a harmonious father-son relationship that wasn't tacky or cheap, it was heart-warming and honest. Mays was the perfect casting choice. 

 Smith was brilliant as usual and spent more time cracking jokes here than dying a lot like last week. His scenes with Alex in the kitchen were like a proper double-act; a British and more sensible Laurel & Hardy perhaps? Gillan and Darvill were fantastic too and revealed in the terror of there situation in the creepy 'doll's house', yet there was still time for Rory to come out with yet more classic lines - "Oh we're dead aren't we? The lift fell and we're dead. We're dead, again!"

 'Night Terrors' was a fine example of perfect scripting, performing and above all else, timing. The frights, the laughs, the suspense - it was all timed with precision and structure. A chilling, moving and exciting tale that lit up Saturday night. "Tick Tock, Goes the Clock, Even for The Doctor"...

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Prepare for 'Night Terrors'!

'Night Terrors' Come Next Week!

Here's the trailer and introductory video with the wonderful Danny Mays about Mark Gatiss' forthcoming episode which is claimed to be the scariest one yet!

'Let's Kill Hitler' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 8 - 'Let's Kill Hitler'
Written by Steven Moffat - Directed by Richard Senior

After a miserable few months and only the tremendous 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' (I love it, although many don't) to keep fans going, our beloved show finally returns to brighten up our Saturday nights. For those who follow the site, you will be aware that I felt a little disappointed by the mid-series finale, 'A Good Man Goes To War' (which I re-watched again recently and sadly still felt the same), but let's not moan over spilt milk, let's kill Hitler instead! 

Plot Outline:
The TARDIS travels from Leadworth to Berlin in 1938 where The Doctor, Amy, Rory and 'Mels' meet Hitler at the rise of the Third Reich, but meeting the Fuhrer is the last of their problems when they discover more hidden truths about River Song/Melody Pond and her relationships to the group. 

 Like many, I was expecting 'Let's Kill Hitler' to be a 'romp' episode, much like 'The Curse of the Black Spot' - It would have been a good idea after the emotional impact of episode 7 to give viewers a fun, witty and entertaining ride to ease them back into the series but in rather typical Moffat fashion, the title misleads fans in more departments than one and makes this episode a heavy character study which seems to slightly forget it's footing.

 There's no denying that this episode was fun and indeed enjoyable; it had witty dialogue, some brilliant CGI effects and it was a sheer pleasure to see the gang bursting from my box once again, but something wasn't right. For starters, 'Let's Kill Hitler' as a title is terribly out of place - Adolf is in the episode for the sum total of 2 minutes and utters perhaps 4 lines of brief dialogue, the task of actually killing him isn't even established which makes it all the more contradictory, and then we get a tyrant of muddled information about River Song/Melody Pond which is even confusing loyal 'Who' fans - I dread to think what newcomers are trying to make of all this. SPOILERS! Here is a list of everything involving River/Melody in this 45 minute episode:

  • River Song is not River Song, in fact she is an old school friend of Amy and Rory's called 'Mels'
  • 'Mels' then regenerates into River Song but she is unaware of who River is
  • As we already know, River/Melody is Amy and Rory's child
  • River poisons The Doctor by kissing him
  • River is then shot multiple times by Nazi officers and but part-regenerates to avoid death
  • River flies the TARDIS to save Amy and Rory from certain death inside a robotic replica of Amy
  • River then part-regenerates again to save The Doctor even though her 'primary mission' is to kill him
  • River then finds out who River actually is and knows why The Doctor cares for her
  • Future River is at the Luna University wanting to become an archaeologist

 Although River is probably my favourite character and I love every moment of screen-time with her, it seems that Moffat was either making up everything as he went along, or has given viewers a bombardment of information in one go meaning we won't be seeing much more of the character until obviously the final two episodes. Amongst all this was the episode's plot which was based around replicating a person to gain information and capturing the 'real' person by shrinking them and placing them inside the robotic version in order for them to be disposed - imagine a concentration camp for The Borrowers with alien jellyfish as security. As ludicrous as this all sounds, this was the episode's strongest point along with it's performances - this is the adventure we wanted and needed, it felt tongue-in-cheek and bubbly; perfect Saturday night television. Don't get me wrong, I adore the darkness that's leaked into the show over the last two years, but this was the silly yet engaging Sci-Fi I wanted and it was a slight shame to weigh it down by the double-crossing character narratives.

 As previously mentioned, the performances were all fantastic, especially Smith who gives one of his best as The Doctor so far here. He embodies everything that defines the character; from the zany humour, to the darkness that sometimes gets the better of him. After he had been poisoned and was slowly dying, Smith's gun came out a-blazing and he acted his socks off. It was a naturalistic, effecting and often funny portrayal and he deserves a great big pat on the back for it. Tremendous stuff. Gillan and Darvill were also both excellent and opened the episode with a hilarious bang as they race through cornfields to find The Doctor. Kingston was great too and spoke an utterly wonderful line of dialogue to the Nazi's; I won't spoil it as it's that funny. 

 But despite my slight quibbles, I was engrossed, entertained and satisfied by our favourite Time Lord's return - 'Let's Kill Hitler' had tremendous momentum and laughs-a-plenty. Roll on 'Night Terrors' which looks pretty darn scary. 

Friday, 12 August 2011

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' Episode 5 Review

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'The Categories of Life'
Written by Jane Espenson - Directed by Guy Ferland

Sorry once again readers for skipping the review for episode 4 which by the way was brilliant - I've been totally swamped with things to do and unfortunately the review slipped under the radar, but fear not, here's my thoughts on the half-way point of the so far exquisite 'Miracle Day'...

Plot Outline:
Going undercover, the team go to the ‘Overflow Camps’ where they find a shocking revelation to those marked categories 1 or 2. Meanwhile, Captain Jack attempts to convince Oswald Danes to expose PhiCorp’s advanced knowledge of the ‘Miracle’ in front of a live and televised audience. 

 After 4 episodes that focused predominately on building tension and developing an impeccably strong narrative arc, 'The Categories of Life' combined these elements and adds them to a mixture of high-octane investigation and action, along with further establishing the identity of PhiCorp and the role they have played in regards to the 'Miracle', and in doing all this, produced one of the most gripping 60 minutes of British/American television one has seen for a particularly long time.

 Everything was executed perfectly and has proven the mass potential this series has to offer in it's closing 5 episodes. This episode had two greatly shocking moments which I will not note due to spoilers, as well as visually addressing the 'Overflow Camps' which were hindered at during the fourth episode. It's clear that the idea behind the camps was taken from the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, but rather than being painstakingly obvious in their cruel ethos and mistreatment, the 'Overflow Camps' bear a presentable façade and are constructed upon a false but positive image which is cracked by the Torchwood team; particularly through the nose-poking of Dr. Vera Suarez (Arlene Tur).

 Sadly this series has received a bit of hate from fans who believe the Atlantic move was a bad idea but hopefully they were more pleased by this entry as it had a decent and constructed balance between Wales and California. Personally I think the move was a fantastic idea and people should be relishing the fact that more people are able to access this wonderful show. 'Miracle Day' may not be complete Sci-Fi through and through, but it is certainly powerful and thought-provoking drama laced with wonderful performances and the best writing the show has ever had. Apart from 'Children of Earth', the first two series were plagued by the odd episodes with dodgy writing and poor dialogue, but now the show is getting experienced and knowledgeable writers who are helping to dramatically boost this series' potential. Jane Espenson's script was flawless here and performed with great skill. Oswald's speech sequence was a thing of scripting beauty; his dialogue felt so real, so articulate, as was Pullman's impeccable delivery

 In regards to the action/thriller elements, Gwen's return to Cardiff to find her father made utterly gripping television alongside the brimming news of the camps state-side, and consequently made each cut from place to place intense and entertaining - a mere moment was not still in this episode due to it's fantastic pacing and persistence, and it's performers. Thankfully, 'Miracle Day' hasn't plodded along and has been bursting with energy and excitement, but this episode was explosive, rich and deeply satisfying for it's consumer. 

 Realistically, Jack was slightly side-seated in this episode and only really came out to play before Oswald's big show, but that was a good thing. It's better to get further and stricter understanding of those characters who could perhaps become underdeveloped. We all know Jack and Gwen, and why Torchwood was formed, so it was wise to give the majority of the drama to the other characters. Yes, Gwen did have an important role here and she is included one of the shock moments so maybe my last comment was slightly contradictory, but overall, episode 5 allowed viewers to completely unlock the US arrivals, and I for one thought that was marvellous. 

 Now I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I cannot wait for next Thursday. Not many shows leave me completely reeling and desperate for more but 'Miracle Day' is. Russell T. Davies has certainly got his game-face on with this series which is making me think one thing - I hope the second half of 'Doctor Who' is as good as this... 'The Categories of Life' was simply fantastic.

Friday, 29 July 2011

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' Episode 3 Review

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'Dead Of Night'
Written by Jane Espenson - Directed by Billy Gierhart

So here's the episode the world has been talking about - however it's not been about the Miracle, or Oswald Danes, or either the sudden surge in the globe's population. No, the chat has been about sex, and how much of this episode's sexual adventures did the BBC decide to remove. But let's forget about this for a bit and get stuck into the episode in general...

Plot Outline:
The Torchwood team goes on the run and finds a new enemy, but as they launch a raid on PhiCorp headquarters, Jack must confront the mysterious Oswald Danes.

 After the great efforts with the second episode, 'Dead Of Night' applies the breaks again slightly and allows for some character development - a very smart move as we still have seven more hours with the Cross-Atlantic crew. What's more is that we actually got a little comedy which was nice and refreshing, and although the jokes were a little clichéd (mainly sniggering at the differences of terminologies in American and the UK), they were still amusing and helped to further define each individual character and how the operate inside the machine of the show. 

 Last week I mentioned that 'Miracle Day' was putting aside some of the over-used elements of the show, and this included the sex. Well as mentioned earlier, this episode contained some, but it was thankfully a short expedition and did not draw away from the weekly narrative. Barrowman praised the BBC at Comic-Con for cutting some of the sex, and although I'm sure it wasn't very graphic at all, it's good to know that the cut hasn't affected the point of the act too - you don't have to see to understand.

 'Dead Of Night' excelled in two particular departments; firstly the drama. The scenes in which the team discover the haven of painkillers in PhiCorp was a brilliant segment of television that played out like it had a feature film budget. The American dollars from Starz have really boosted the budget for this series and I'm glad they are being spent wisely rather than thrown away on over-the-top CGI. Also a high-point was the confrontation between Dr. Vera Juarez and the Police officer when discussing the 'murder/assault' of the woman who had been brutally strangled by her husband. The idea of eliminating death has brought so many interesting sub-plots to the series, and I think the changing of the laws and the affects of medication upon those who 'should' be dead is fascinating screen-writing.

 The second department is tension and atmosphere - with everything surrounding the Miracle, the suspense levels are at an extreme high. As of yet, no 'alien' technologies have been discovered so nobody can truly trust one another. This level of tension is perfectly exploited by the sudden televisual fame of Oswald - a man who committed a savage crime, yet his views on medicating those in needs is somehow bringing hope to people and almost making them and indeed us slightly care for him; it's a brilliant and morbid concept.

 Talking of Oswald, Bill Pullman's performance was incredible in this episode, particularly in the closing stand-off between him and Jack. His speech about the rape and murder was amongst the most uncomfortable dialogue scenes I've sat through for a while - describing Susie Cabina's bruised body as a "painting" was unforgettably demented. Eve Myles was also fantastic yet again here - Gwen's almost 'Mission: Impossible' break-in to PhiCorp was highly entertaining. Alexa Havins was brilliant too and was really able to give Esther some scope - her fears about being part of Torchwood and her lack of experience in the field is touching and emotive. Barrowman and Mekhi Phifer were also great, especially with their argumentative dialogue sequences.

 For my money, this episode was stronger in character than 'Rendition', and stronger in tension than 'The New World'. 'Dead Of Night' was dark, driven and sublimely performed. So far, 'Miracle Day' has produced three stunning episodes and I'm desperate for the fourth. This series is not only consistent, it's downright fantastic. 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Update from Comic-Con!



For those of you who didn't know, BBC America is currently promoting 'Doctor Who' at this year's San Diego Comic-Con; the world's biggest and most famous comic book and science fiction convention. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are at Comic-Con as we speak and earlier today they headed a talk in the famous Hall G of the convention. Here various information about the upcoming second half of Series 6 was discussed! So this is what we know so far:

The show will be returning to our screens on August 27th.

Karen Gillan will be returning as Amy Pond for Series 7

Two trailers were also aired; one for the remainder of the series, and another for episode 11, 'The God Complex' (which is actually more of a clip than a trailer and looks remarkably like 'The Shining'?!); you can view them both below! :)

The only thing that slightly bugs me is why does all the best promotional material and cast interview opportunities go to America rather than the show's home here in the UK? I know Comic-Con is where it's at but I will be mighty disappointed if there is no signings or press conferences for the show's return in London or around the UK.

Friday, 22 July 2011

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' Episode 2 Review

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'Rendition'
Written by Doris Egan - Directed by Billy Gierhart

Firstly, I'd like to start with an apology. I didn't get around to reviewing the first episode of 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' due to other reviews, work and a load of job applications. But here's my incredibly brief review of the opener, 'The New World'; it was outstanding. Sumptuous television that was laced with drama, suspense and started the ball rolling for perhaps the most politically and socially gripping series of the show.

Right that's over, on to episode two...

Plot Outline:
As Rex brings the Torchwood team to America, problems arise on the plane as CIA operatives are plotting to remove them.  Meanwhile, Oswald Danes is appearing on News Talk shows and is becoming a trend on many online social networks after breaking down on national television.

 What's so interesting about this series of the show is the American element. "Yes, Chris that's obvious!" I hear you say, but let me explain. The fact that the show and narrative has been taken state-side isn't the 'interesting' fact, but it's more the influence. Granted some people will have an issue with this, but if you look at the direction this series is heading towards, it's looking like a Sci-Fi '24' and I for one find that so exciting.

 One of 'Torchwood's major problems is how some people view it; although the first two series' were very good, a lot of the emphasis was on the sex and violence rather than clear and constructed weekly narrative thus making people believe it was just a "sexed-up 'Doctor Who'". Thankfully they toned that down in 'Children of Earth' and made a genuinely compelling and chilling saga, and I'm so glad 'Miracle Day' is shaping up in that same way.

 As of yet, the origin of the event is still unknown; whether it's alien or a worldwide 'disease' is still a mystery and that's just how it should be - there's nothing worse than foreseeing every event and then feeling disappointed is there? What episode two successfully did was build dramatic tension, particularly with the plane scenes, and to create a beautiful confrontation between the two nations and their security systems. We all know 'Torchwood's origins lie with the Royal Family and the protection of the United Kingdom so it's great to see that bold contrast with the straight-laced and no-quibbles American CIA.

 'Rendition's main success however was it's top-notch writing. After the all-change at BBC Wales with 'Doctor Who', Russell T. Davies is still churning out cracking stuff and more importantly, getting quality writers alongside him. Doris Egan has worked on a bundle of successful and brilliant American TV shows including 'Smallville', 'Tru Calling' and 'House'. She understands the importance of layers and how they can give great weight and gravity to an on-going story arc. The scene with Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur) discussing the progression of anti-viral medicine and how it will soon be unable to cure the sick due to no bodies dying and reacting to infection was fantastic. It's a complex idea projected with skill and knowledge, and left me utterly starstruck. I sometimes think to myself "How do they think of these things?" and that scene sparked that thought.

 All the performances were excellent, particularly from John Barrowman and Eve Myles. Gwen stole the show in this episode and it wasn't just because she booted a CIA agent in the face after saying "I'm Welsh", but because of the anxiety and aggression she suffered when boarding the plane and the intuitiveness and intelligence when disaster struck on the plane. Myles is a great actress and she continues to prove just how good a character Gwen Cooper is. Barrowman's dying acting was rather impressive too; let's just hope he doesn't do that on 'Tonight's the Night' - it might upset your mum.

 Although this episode was slightly slower than it's predecessor, it still had plenty of energy and merged an extremely claustrophobic event with excellent corporate chit-chat to make the second episode of 'Miracle Day' be a total thriller. If this series stays as consistent and impressive as it currently is, it could well be the strongest and best series of 'Torchwood' yet. 'Miracle Day' is currently essential television and I'm dying for next week's episode.

Monday, 11 July 2011

It's Out TODAY!

The first seven episodes of the sixth series of 'Doctor Who' is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from TODAY! The double disc set contains the episodes as well as great special features and 'Doctor Who Confidential' cutdowns!

Grab your copy now!