Sunday, 29 May 2011

'The Almost People' Review

Series 6 - Episode 6: 'The Almost People'
Written by Matthew Graham - Directed by Julian Simpson

Last week's episode did what I believed it would do - set up the second part. Although 'The Rebel Flesh' was a very impressive episode and deserved congratulations on it's own merit, it's concluding episode, 'The Almost People' has snatched the spotlight with a whirlwind of moralistic ideas, fantastic special effects and THAT ending...

Plot Outline:
As the Solar Storm continues to rage, Jennifer's 'Ganger' prepares the rest of the 'Flesh' race for war. Rory is cut off from the rest of the group, whilst Amy is having to deal with two Doctors. To add further insult to injury, the TARDIS trio are heading for a crisis point that nobody could foresee. 

 In last Saturday's episode, viewers got time to learn about the 'Gangers' and understand why they are being created. However, what Graham's intelligent script doesn't cover is why are they being later mistreated. We learnt that they are in place in order to complete tasks seemed to dangerous for 'humans' but we never understand the prejudice regarding them once they are concious of themselves - the moment they realise they have a history, memories and feelings, they are punished by their 'creators'. In 'The Almost People', we receive that all important moral resolution, but we get heaps of prejudice, injustice and foul play beforehand. 

 For this, I further my argument of 'Doctor Who' as family viewing - it's certainly good to enforce ideas of acceptance and equality to all ages, in fact, it's far more important to educate the young about these issues as they have their whole lives ahead of them, but at points in this episode, even I quivered a little at the sinister undertones of this fantastic screen text. I don't want readers to think I'm complaining because I'm not - I love the fact the show is getting 'darker' and taking more risks with daring story lines and sub-plots; it's a great move that excites me dramatically, but I can't help but think some viewers may feel a little concerned after this two-parter, then again maybe not. Hopefully it's the latter.

 The plot-point with Amy and the 'Double Trouble' Doctors was genius and helped to enforce further characteristics of Gillan's companion. Her affection towards one of the Doctors was a marvellous way to cause friction between the group and set the scene for one of the episode's big reveals. This along with the narrative regarding the 'Gangers' vs. 'Humans' war set a politically motivated atmosphere which was beautifully portrayed on screen.

 But to say the episode was all doom and gloom would be a lie; like all 'Who' episodes, comic relief is always around the corner, and for me the funniest moment was the constantly changing voices of Matt's 'Ganger' as he grew into his current body; multiple voices babbling about Jelly Babies made my day. It was a very sweet (excuse the pun) homage to the show's wonderful and ever-growing history. And as well as comedy, we had our hearts warmed by Jimmy's (Mark Bonnar) 'Ganger' fathering his 'creator's' child. It was a touching and believable moment.

 Visually, the episode was fantastic - Simpson's direction was pin-point with accuracy and captured all the elements with style. This alongside the brilliant CGI helped make 'The Almost People' a dazzling audio-visual experience. The piles of used up 'Ganger Flesh' left to rot on the floor was a horrific image and Jennifer's mutated 'Ganger' looked astonishingly demented - another plug to David Cronenberg too. Also, is it just me or did it remind anyone slightly of a female, less-bony version of Lazarus from 'The Lazarus Experiment' (2007)? 

 I think I've delayed it for long enough now - let's discuss THAT ending...
It seems as though Moffat and the production team are hell bent on torturing us fans this year; next week sees the mid-series finale and that impossibly irritating hiatus, and so far, we have been given so many little scraps of information that I'm certain will not get any type of conclusion until the show returns.

POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD! - The big reveal in 'The Almost People' actually had little to do with the episode at all. Viewers were left speechless after seeing an abducted and imprisoned Amy in labour with the mysterious 'Eye Patch' woman telling her to "Push!" in the most disturbing manner. Now I'm certain other 'Who' blogs will talk this point to death and come up with multiple theories as to what's going on - well I'm not going to do that; I think it kills the drama a little and can make the actual outcome seem like an anti-climax. I have ideas as to what's going on with Amy, and I'm sure you do too, but I'm so excited to find out the truth that I'm going to button my lip, suffer in silence and ride it out. Dedicated describes us Whovians best.

 The performances were very good, however I was a little disappointed by the lack of Rory - after having a large amount of screen time and dialogue in 'The Rebel Flesh', he seemed like a 'spare part' again for the majority of this episode. This was a shame because Darvill was excellent last week; still he was entertaining in his brief moments here too. Double Matt was great too; the pair finishing each other sentences was rather endearing and the scene when one of the Doctors pins Amy to the wall and screams at her was brilliantly executed. Smith is a tremendous actor and I think those who are still moaning about him need to get off the David Tennant high-horse. However, Gillan gets my vote again; she's turning into the star for me - her story lines are so fresh and engaging and she's taking every opportunity she's given with skill and precision. I haven't chosen her just because of the final two minutes however, more because of what I previously mentioned - her prejudice against the supposed 'Ganger' Doctor was fabulous and allowed audiences to dive inside her damaged and misguided psyche - you couldn't help but be angered by her actions yet feel sorry for her at the same time.

 'The Almost People' was an outstanding conclusion to it's brilliant predecessor; it's narrative was bold and ambitious, it's visuals were stunning, and it's performances were solid as a rock. It was disturbingly original, culturally relevant and above all else, fantastically entertaining. If all the hype is correct, next week's episode should be monumental - so much is riding on 'A Good Man Goes to War' but I'm certain it will be utterly incredible.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Prequel & Trailer for 'A Good Man Goes to War'


'A Good Man Goes to War' - BRAND NEW!

If like me you are still knocked out by tonight's episode ending, then fear not! Check out the prequel and the trailer to next week's mid-series finale RIGHT NOW!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

They're Back!


The Cybermen Return!

It has been confirmed that the Cybermen will return in the mid-series finale 'A Good Man Goes to War'! Check out the video interview with Episode 7 director Peter Hoar below!

New Clip and Stills for 'The Almost People'

'The Almost People' Update!

A new clip and stills have been released thanks to the BBC and we have them here! Take a look! Not long until Saturday now Who fans! 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Come On Matt!

Television BAFTAs Tonight!

As many are aware, tonight sees the annual BAFTA Television awards take place and amongst the cavalcade of nominees is Matt Smith for Best Leading Actor in 'Doctor Who'.
Unfortunately the show has only received this nomination, whilst Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' 'Sherlock' has received a total of 4 nominations so that's great too!

But here at Mad Man, Blue Box, we want to wish Matt best luck and hopefully our beloved show will get a nice shiny golden face to take home!

You can watch the ceremony from 8pm tonight on BBC One and BBC HD.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

'The Almost People' Clips


New Clips from 'The Almost People'

We've met the 'Gangers', we know the score, and now it's the long wait until next Saturday for the conclusion, but fear not Whovians! Here at Mad Man, Blue Box we have two new clips from next week's episode! Enjoy! :)

'The Rebel Flesh' Review

Series 6 - Episode 5: 'The Rebel Flesh'
Written by Matthew Graham - Directed by Julian Simpson

It's almost hard to believe we have reached the fifth episode of Series 6 already - only two more weeks before 'Doctor Who' leaves our screens for that dreaded and rather ridiculous break, but let's not start off with a bad note. After last week's masterful episode from the insane mind of Neil Gaiman, 'Fear Her' (2006) writer Matthew Graham returns and puts his chips down for a suspenseful and gripping first part to a tale that bears a grand homage to classic American Body Horror. 

Plot Outline:
After a brutal solar tsunami, the TARDIS lands alongside a futuristic factory in which doppelgängers or 'Gangers' are created in order to complete jobs and tasks that are too 'hazardous' for humans. But when a second wave of solar energy strikes, the 'Gangers' and the humans become separated and the environment becomes hostile. It's up to The Doctor, Amy and Rory to defuse an inevitable war and the loss of true identity.

 'Dark' is often an overused terminology in regards to television and cinema - it's usually labelled to a certain show or franchise that has been in circulation for a lengthy time period and it seems to be a natural progression to make the content seem 'darker' in order to gain a wider audience and fiddle with taboo subject matter and imagery. In regards to 'The Rebel Flesh' however, it's a fairly accurate description. 

 Although Graham's first 45 minutes isn't as eerie as Moffat's sensational 'Day of the Moon', it's much more demented in it's atmospheric scope and indeed it's characterisation. Episode 5 oozes with warped charisma; it's a risky move for 'Who' but a good one at that. The 'Gangers' owe a great debt to 70s and 80s Horror cinema - directors like David Cronenberg and John Carpenter have played with bodily disfigurement and metamorphosis for years, and it seems those years have paid off. The 'Gangers' are so interesting in their design, politics and ethos; realistically as The Doctor mentions, they are human - they have been given life by the one they resemble; they are not alien, nor a bi-product of some nuclear malfunction. They are living, breathing and conscious entities which makes them ever so more bizarre and brilliant.

 'The Rebel Flesh' seemed like a bit of an appetiser for next week's round-up at points, but overall it was an incredibly entertaining and visually exciting episode that is worthy of it's own merits. Sure, it wasn't as much of a spectacle as 'The Doctor's Wife' but there is only so much money to go round. Rather than gallons of monumental CGI, director Simpson used intricate camera techniques that helped enforce atmosphere and tension. The sequence with Rory leaving the group to search for 'Ganger' Jennifer Lucas (Sarah Smart) was unbearably claustrophobic, plus the episode whipped out the classic 'SURPRISE!' moment when audiences are briefly introduced to The Doctor's 'Ganger' which looked like a cross between Smith, a zombie and a high street mannequin - freaky is probably the word I'm looking for.


 Rather than Smith gobbling all the limelight like last week, Graham's episode gave Rory a more active role which he fully embraces. At times, his new found 'relationship' with Jennifer seemed a little awkward, but realistically if one reads between the lines, they have quite a lot in common - Jennifer recalls of a past thought/memory in which she meets a stronger version of herself (which is epitomised by her 'Ganger'), indeed Rory had a stronger version of himself as an Auton Roman back in Series 5. Jennifer also makes a joke about a near-death experience which Rory is the flagship leader for, and the pair seem to be inferior to those who surround them. In the TARDIS, The Doctor is boss and in the Pond household, it's our beloved Amelia who wears the trousers.

 For this reason, I put aside the occasional squint and allowed their relationship to wash through me; it's clear that the writers are trying to boost Rory's story-arcs and good on them, he's more than a nose you know. Darvill gets my vote this week - not only is he prominent in the story, he's become a fine actor. I just hope he is as important in 'The Almost People' next week. Smith was brilliant as always and Gillan is cracking on wonderfully. Her chance meetings with the 'Eye-Patch' lady are becoming ever more frequent and intriguing - let's just hope Moffat doesn't make us choke on it over the ridiculous hiatus. 

 'The Rebel Flesh' is another fantastic edition to this already incredible series mixing fast-paced action, prĂ©cised writing and direction, and a massively psychotic nature. Now it's up to Graham's second part to wrap up this insane tale of lookalikes - I have full faith and high expectations.

Introduction and New Clip from 'The Rebel Flesh'

New Videos for 'The Rebel Flesh'

At 6:45pm tonight, the first part of an action-packed two parter will begin! But if you can't wait that long then check out a brand new clip from 'The Rebel Flesh' plus an introductory video!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

'The Rebel Flesh' Stills

New Images from 'The Rebel Flesh'

Check out these brand new images from Saturday night's forthcoming adventure in which The Doctor, Amy and Rory encounter the 'Gangers'! 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

'The Rebel Flesh' Videos


'The Rebel Flesh' - New Content!

Check out trailers and preview clips from Saturday's forthcoming episode! We treat you guys good here at Mad Man, Blue Box! :)

'The Doctor's Wife' - The Lost Scenes!


'The Doctor's Wife' - The Lost Scenes

The lovely folks at the BBC have released the deleted scenes from last Saturday's masterful episode and you can  view them here at Mad Man, Blue Box! Enjoy you lot!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

'The Doctor's Wife' Review

Series 6 - Episode 4: 'The Doctor's Wife'
Written by Neil Gaiman - Directed by Richard Clark

Neil Gaiman is one of the most celebrated and renowned Science Fiction and Fantasy authors of our generation so it was only natural for Whovians to be extremely excited at the thought of him crafting an episode of our beloved show. Gaiman is famous for his often dark and meticulous works that dazzle and chill the reader and two of his most successful novels have been adapted into feature films ('Stardust' [2007] and 'Coraline' [2009 - in which I was lucky enough to meet him at a Q&A screening]). 'The Doctor's Wife' was always bound to be an interesting episode at this man's hands but the end result wasn't just interesting - it was utterly unique.

Plot Outline:
The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive on a junk-yard planet after the TARDIS receives a distress call. The call presents the idea that The Doctor may not be the only Time Lord left in existence - however not all is as it seems and after a meeting with a surprise woman, The Doctor's world is turned upside down.

'The Doctor's Wife' is currently the 'special' episode of this series just like 'Vincent and the Doctor' was last year. Each had an established outside writer, each featured notable guest stars and both strayed away from standard narrative conventions of the show. 'Vincent and the Doctor' was a marvellous and compelling episode, and equally so was 'The Doctor's Wife'. In fact, the latest adventure for the TARDIS gang was so marvellous, I can see it becoming a firm favourite. 

 Everything was pitch perfect; the dialogue, performances, set design, computer imagery - the whole hog. This was a marvel in prime-time television and firm congratulations are certainly in order. It's quite possibly the most cinematic episode since 'The Fires of Pompeii' back in 2008. It was a true audio-visual spectacle that I would have loved to have seen on the big screen. 'The Doctor's Wife' in IMAX - yes please.

 Gaiman stuck to his traditional guns of terror too which was a relief - at points, this episode was quite disturbing in narrative and tone. The dreary, lifeless colour pallet of the planet mixed with the lime-green eyed Ood pierced the screen like a knife sending tingles down the spine, and the vacant limbo-like corridors of the abducted TARDIS felt like a mash-up of 'Inception' (2010) and 'The Shining' (1980). Apparently, lots of waiting and ageing makes Rory a dull boy. It's times like these when one can question the correct audience for 'Doctor Who'; personally, I found this episode fairly adult yet it still didn't seem totally inappropriate for children - the young's desire for fear is something authors and filmmakers has exploited for generations and nobody does it better than Gaiman.

This episode was (excuse the pun) littered with layers and sub-text - so much activity in a mere 45 minutes, yet it wasn't a battle to grasp, it was more of a leisurely stroll through the sparse and derelict wasteland. In a way, I wish this episode had lasted an hour. Apparently 13 minutes were cut to fit the standard show length which seems a bit of a shame but this minor set back doesn't devalue this already ground-breaking episode.

 As previously mentioned, the set design was magnificent. I'm starting to think Michael Pickwoad is one of the best things to happen to the new show - his eye for detail is uncanny and his work here just proves how much range and imagination he possess. Clark captures Gaiman's and Pickwoad's dreary environment with great skill and excels in the corridor sequence; it felt claustrophobic and mounted the atmosphere greatly. 

 The performances were all fantastic, with Smith being the shining star. He is a tremendous Doctor and his performance here is amongst his best. All that bursting zany energy matched to the gorgeous emotion and heartache creates a wonderful and moving portrayal making this his episode. Suranne Jones is also brilliant as Idris/TARDIS - She compliments Matt's madness and has a good go at it herself. She delivers the majority of comedy and indeed sadness in this episode and she was a fabulous casting choice; I wonder if they also had Helena Bonham Carter in mind? Although calling the current screen Queen Elizabeth "sexy" may have been slightly controversial. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill were also brilliant and their time spent dashing through dangerous corridors and entering Tennant's TARDIS was brilliant.

 'The Doctor's Wife' will certainly be talked about for a while and I imagine will be regarded as a high point of this already extraordinary series. This has cult status written all over it and I'm sure it will become a fixed reference point for old and new 'Who' fans. It was spellbinding, incredibly original and essential viewing; I'm hoping and praying Gaiman is asked to write again, but for now the ball is back in your court Moffat.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

'The Doctor's Wife' Stills and Videos

'The Doctor's Wife' - New Content!

Check out these brand new images from Saturday's forthcoming episode plus videos from writer Neil Gaiman! Enjoy Whovians!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

'The Doctor's Wife' Videos


'The Doctor's Wife' Videos

The BBC have kindly released FOUR new videos to preview next Saturday's episode written by the brilliant Neil Gaiman (who I've had the pleasure of meeting and listening to at a premiere screening of 'Coraline' in 2009!) The videos include two clips from the episode plus an introduction video and the trailer! One of the preview clips cannot be embedded for some reason so you can view that video by clicking the image above! The other three videos are below for you to enjoy!

'The Curse of the Black Spot' Review


Series 6 - Episode 3: 'The Curse of the Black Spot'
Written by Steve Thompson - Directed by Jeremy Webb

After a double-whammy of Moffat madness that tossed critical information around like a rag doll, viewers have been given a breather and presented with a good old fashioned adventure. It's a regular occurrence for The Doctor and his companion/s to head back to early times at the beginning of a series (episodes such as 'The Shakespeare Code' [2007] and 'The Fires of Pompeii' [2008] spring to mind) and in episode three of this current series, The Doctor, Amy and Rory are whisked off to the high seas that are ruled by blood-curdling Pirates who fight intruders and swag the loot.

Plot Outline:
The TARDIS is marooned on-board a 17th Century Pirate ship and The Doctor is soon being forced to walk the plank at gunpoint. Beset by terror and cabin fever, the pirates have numerous superstitious explanations for the appearance of a mysterious Siren who has the ability to destroy man with a single touch.

 'The Curse of the Black Spot' is the weight off the shoulders - it's an episode that can be re-watched and re-enjoyed multiple times and doesn't really require much prior knowledge of the series it's placed within. Sure, there are little quirks that pop up such as the strange lady with a metal eye-patch who appeared briefly in the orphanage in 'Day of the Moon', or the snappy flashback from 'The Impossible Astronaut', but realistically, episode three is a nuts-and-bolts Saturday night thrill-ride that was extremely entertaining and used it's running time to it's full potential.

 The action and adventure burst to life within a matter of minutes and then continued to stand strong and not back down. From Amy's high-flying Jack Sparrow-inspired fight sequence to the thumping and crashing of the misbehaving TARDIS and all the Pirate and 'Siren' madness in between, this episode failed to stop bringing the screen to life. 

 It's been a while since an episode has only had one primary location, I believe 'Midnight' (2008) was probably the last one and that was the complete opposite to The Doctor's current swashbuckler. Tennant's episode focused on atmosphere and claustrophobia whilst writer Thompson's 45 minutes used it's confined and isolated space to enhance action and indeed danger.

 Production designer Michael Pickwoad created a staggering set - the ship looked wonderful and really portrayed an image of rusticity and age. Rather than the more sleek looking ships in Gore Verbinski's Disney epics, Pickwoad makes his Black Pearl look experienced and haggard. It's a great compliment to the shifty Pirates and helps set the tone and spirit of the episode. Also Webb's direction was well-executed and performed which only added to the high levels of adrenaline and endorphins.

 The episode's new characters were an excellent addition, particularly the brilliant Hugh Bonneville who played Captain Avery with great skill, intrigue and efficiency. Supermodel Lily Cole whose no stranger to acting was also a fabulous casting choice as 'The Siren'. Considering she had no dialogue, her performance was engaging and her characterisation was presented well.

 'The Siren' was certainly an interesting villain, if you can actually call her that - her ability to evaporate people who have been 'unfortunately' stamped with the Black Spot after even the slightest of injury is a power than seems virtually impossible for the shipmates to avoid. It's a unique and original idea and I think many will remember and recall her when this series draws to a close.  

 Our three musketeers all give strong performances with Darvill snatching the limelight for the most part. Although Gillan clearly owns the opening 10 minutes with Amy's sword-swinging antics, it's Rory who gets a large central focus and storyline and Darvill revels in his new-found glory. The classic 'OH NO!' moment sneaks it's way in at the end leading the viewer to believe of Rory's sudden demise but Mr. Pond cheats death once again. Smith is wonderful as ever and his frequent banter with Avery is the perfect comedic substitute to this action-packed episode. 

 'The Curse of the Black Spot' is the little episode in a monstrously big series and it holds it's own. It was hugely entertaining, exciting and most importantly, original. While Moffat's away, the TARDIS trio play.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

New Stills from 'The Curse of the Black Spot'

New Episode 3 Images!

Feast your eyes on some new stills from the Doctor's forthcoming pirate adventure! Look below for new goodness!