Saturday, 26 April 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 4 - The Sontaran Stratagem

I generally judge a good Doctor Who episode on how much I can moan about it. In this instance, it was almost a perfect 45 minutes of Doctor Who!

Okay, despite the UNIT boys wearing their berets wrong, I found it thoroughly entertaining! I’m not sure what Ryan Sampson was playing it, with that accent, but he played the kid-genius-you-just-want-to-slap, with perfection!

That’s where the story begins. Basically the kid genius has designed these new carbon-cutting devices, which have a free sat-nav system and clothes vouchers, apparently. Yep, you’ve guessed it – Primark! Anyway, despite being a qualified Doctor for less than a year, UNIT officer Martha Jones rings the Doctor to help out.

It was a rather clever plot to be honest. Gone are the days where the aliens would just turn up from nowhere without any explanation of how they got there. This is a lot better.

We learn that Martha is now engaged to Tom Milligan (the bloke who helped her out in ‘The Last of The Timelords’). I say engaged, I reckon she’s got some blackmail on the go, as he won’t know about the whole ‘lost year’ thing! So after a few well placed awkward moments, our trio head to a mobile base, which has been set up outside the ATMOS Sat-Nav factory.

The factory’s workers don’t seem to be in control of their capabilities, so Martha investigates. The Doctor goes to find Luke, where Ross’s (the young solider) description of the academy (which Luke runs) as a ‘type of Hitler youth camp’ is bang on. I suppose the Catholic Church have their pick of future Pope’s then! Donna buggers of home for a chat and a brew with ‘Gramps’!

Back to Luke’s, where The Doctor stumbles across a teleport and is transported to the Sontaran ship but as he quickly travels back, he is followed by their leader – General Staal. I was mightily impressed with these Sontarans, in fact, I would go as far as saying they are the best ever! The Doctor and Rambo Ross escape and as Staal fails to kill them with the Sat-Nav, they arrive at Donna’s house.

Meanwhile back at the base, Martha is kidnapped by the badly dressed soldiers and cloned, into ‘Mad Martha’ (I presume)! You would of thought that being on the run for a non-existence year, Martha would be more cautious, wouldn’t you? So as our MM totally ignores the Doctor’s warning, she lets events take their place and the sky is filled with poison gas, from the ATMOS machines. And as Bernard Cribbins steals the show again (It’s them aliens Donna!), he is trapped in one of the poisonous cars…

I hope next weeks’ will be just as good. I’ve normally panned Helen Raynor’s episodes, but she’s done a good job here! The effects where superb once again, it was nice to see the old Sontaran spaceships! And did anyone notice the ‘Turn Left’ references? You heard it here first, folks!

9/10

Don’t forget to watch the confidential too, they are very informative! And can I just say – Helen Raynor – any chance I could take you out for a drink?

Next Week – General Staal is caught in his underpants, ‘up to no good’ with Donna’s Mum.

The Poison Sky Trailer

Friday, 25 April 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 3 - The Planet of The Ood

The Ood return in this one part story, set on the ‘Oodsphere’. Last seen in ‘The Impossible Planet’ and ‘The Satan Pit’, the Ood are a race of squid-type humanoids who are quite happy to be slaves for the humans. In this episode, ‘Planet of The Ood’, we learn all about the Ood and why they are in captivity.

The Doctor and Donna land on the beautiful ice world, where they find a dying Ood who seems to be suffering from the telepathic state in which the Ood in the previous stories suffered from and subsequently attacked the humans. They then infiltrate the base, ran by Blackadder’s Tim McInerney.

It seems Captain Darling has spent the last 15 years sat in a dark room eating cakes but in this episode, he arrives to sort out the Ood’s ‘red-eye’ disease. Of course everything goes tits-up as the Ood break out and wage war on the dopey humans. Darling is concerned that the whole warehouse of Ood, ready to be shipped across the galaxy and sold, is contaminated.

After a decent start, I was quite disappointed with the episode. They seemed to be preaching an anti-slavery message. I don’t think any kind of political statement has any place in Doctor Who, some of the time they obstruct the story. Most of the time, it’s a load of bollocks! Something which had me up in arms, was the bit where The Doctor asked Donna ‘who do you think makes your clothes.’ Well Doctor, is it the everyday, working class peoples’ fault that some poor foreign mush isn’t paid much for making clothes? Who do you think made your suit and the coat Janis Joplin ‘gave’ you? I bet it was some poor alien bastard with 160 kids to feed!

Then the bit where Captain Darling turned into an Ood was a little bit OTT and put me off the entire episode. It wasn’t that bad, well not in a Torchwood way, anyway! It seemed the episode was building up to something that wasn’t there. The Ood quote at the end had me thinking though. Lets hope that The Doctor’s ‘song’ will last for a while longer! We are getting through The Doctors too quickly!

However, lets go over the good points: Donna keeps on improving, not sure about the West Ham quote though! The Ood looked great, the battle scenes were terrific and that scenery was just magnificent. Now if only they could have kept away from the ‘Slavery is wrong’ theme!

6.5/10

Phew, lets end on a good note. THAT TRAILER FOR NEXT WEEKS LOOKS AMAZING! ROLL ON SATURDAY!

Next Week: Jamie Oliver is revealed to be an undercover Sontaran warrior and he has been secretly plotting to be making our kids grow up into little weaklings, by eating crap food.

'The Sontaran Stratagem' Trailer

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Big Finish Doctor Who 106 - The Dark Husband

"This whole wedding is like making a nuclear bomb with half the instructions missing!"

A week-long respite from a prolonged and bloody war, the Festival of the Twin Moons of Tuin makes Glastonbury look like a church fete... or so the brochure says. The Doctor and Ace are looking for rest and recreation. Hex is looking for the beer tent. But eternal enemies the ginger-haired Ri and the coot-bald Ir are plotting to turn their Festival truce to their own advantage. Only the Dark Husband might stop the celebrations turning to horror... but who is the Dark Husband? And what terror awaits him on his wedding night? If anyone knows any just cause or impediment... speak now.

The lives of billions depend on it.

This is a very intriguing audio. The 7th Doctor, Ace and Hex travel to the leisure planet of Tuin, to sample the ‘Festival of The Twin Moons’. Ace is looking for a rest and a bit of pampering, Hex, like all young lads, is hoping to get drunk at the nearest beer tent. However when they get there, they find that the planet is at war and has been so for years. What is going on, who are the Dark Husband and The Shining Wife and why is The Doctor behaving so mysteriously?

This is David Quantick’s first Doctor Who story and he does an excellent job. More at home writing comedy for television and radio, Quantick really does keep the old magic of Doctor Who going, with the action moving from serious to comedic and visa-versa, quite easily.

Danny Webb (Mr Jefferson in ‘The Impossible Planet’ and ‘The Satan Pit’) supplies his vocal talents for this story and, as usual, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Philip Oliver are all on top form. Well, to be fair, I’m sure Oliver is used to going off and finding beer tents!

This is also a key story in regards of the relationships between our three heroes, as this story continues the excellent standard that is set which each release. So much so, I’m now going to rate audios out of five. I think this will give them a fairer rating, as a poorer BF story would only be 5/10, for me and I can’t keep writing about how great each audio is, can I?

4/5

Next in the monthly releases is the 5th Doctor in ‘The Haunting of Thomas Brewster’. Scary!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 2 - The Fires of Pompeii

Well, what can you say about this episode? Visually it was stunning, the story was well written, the acting was top notch and the story shifted from comedy to a scary moment, like only a Doctor Who episode can.

Filmed on location in Italy, The Doctor and Donna think there’re in Rome but in fact they are in Pompeii – on the day it’s buried in ash. Add to that the molten lava monsters and a sisterhood that suspiciously reminds you of the Tom Baker serial ‘The Brain of Morbius’, means we are set for a good ride.

Phil Davies guest stars as a soothsayer, a creepy one at that! He tells The Doctor ‘she is returning’ and Donna has ‘something on her back’. Oh and the bees keep disappearing too! Hmmm I think we may be on to something, in terms of a story arc!

One great concept with Doctor Who, is that they can play around with historical events without spoiling them. Apart from The Doctor being responsible for many disasters, such as the great fires of Rome and London and now Pompeii!

So as Phil Davies is working with our rock monsters, no not McFly – they’re rubbish, to take over the world, The Doctor and Donna are stuck in the middle, as they try to investigate and quickly, as the mountain is about to blow up!

The plot becomes quite simple in the end, with everything fitting nicely into place. But one criticism I do have is the continuation of ‘The Doctor is God’ theme. What with Christianity becoming more maligned and ignored in this day and age, we really don’t want Doctor Who to become a rallying point for Atheists.

Apart from that, it’s an excellent episode. The next episode – Planet of The Ood, looks good. Lets hope it can fill out that promise!

9/10

'Planet of The Ood' Trailer

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 1 - Partners In Crime

The long wait is finally over! After spending Christmas with Kylie, not literally, I can’t afford her, we arrive in the ever-so familiar surroundings of London and Catherine Tate’s Donna.

Now yours truly wasn’t happy when the news was announced that the world’s oldest teenager (no not Sophie Aldred!) was going to be back. I don’t like Catherine’s ‘humour’ at all. That said, after this episode, I’ll give her a chance!

The episode opened up with David Tennant’s Doctor investigating a company that sells diet pills. Donna, who has spent months tracking down ‘weird going-on’ in the hope of finding The Doctor, is also there. But our main characters keep missing each other, it was quite amusing stuff.

Eventually the pair meet, on the run from villous ‘supernanny’ Miss Foster (Sarah Lancashire). She is behind the plot, which involves making seriously cute creatures called ‘Adipose’, out of human fat.

The episode has spilt the fans into two. Those who love it and those who dislike it. Personally I love it. I shuddered when I first saw the Adipose and wondered what was going through RTD’s head. But the Adipose weren’t overused, in fact they weren’t really the villains. Expect cuddly Adipose’s, coming to a shop near you this Christmas!

It was a decent start and the 8 million viewers certainly was a great start. Lets hope that it can be sustained. The episode also had a new opening theme. It was similar to the one used for Voyage of the Damned but tweaked a little and it was a lot better! The affects also keep getting better. Apparently the Adipose where made using the same technogly that was used in the Lord of the Rings films. Thankfully the Adipose where a lot better than anything in LOTR!

Catherine Tate did look a lot better since her last appearance. David Tennant was at his usual best, Sarah Lancashire was a convincing alien-nanny but it was Bernard Cribbins that stole the show. Every scene he was in was fantastic. The last scene of the episode was pure Doctor Who magic. You won’t get that in Star Trek!

And how can I forget the surprise appearance of Rose*. No one but the actors and some of the production team, knew about it. What a fantastic surprise! Sadly, the newspapers seem determined to spoil everything else but lets hope they haven’t. As for the reason she was there and why she disappeared? I’ve no idea, isn’t that wonderful? We’ll have to wait to find out!

(*Scroll down to see her return!)

8/10

Next is the ‘Fires of Pompeii’, an episode shot entirely on location in Italy. The trailer looks spectacular but will it live up to the hype?

'The Fires of Pompeii' Trailer



'Rose Returns' Clip

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 2 Episode 3 - Brave New Town


“It's like The Village That Time Forgot!”

The inhabitants of the quiet seaside town of Thorington in Suffolk are living the same day over and over again.

What's so special about the 1st of September 1991? Why haven't the villagers noticed that the same song has been number one for years? And just where on Earth has the sea disappeared to?

The Doctor and Lucie must solve the mystery before the 'visitors' return...

This is a very interesting episode. The Autons appear for the first time on audio and they are done quite well. More associated with Jon Pertwee (and more recently, Christopher Eccelston’s first episode), the Autons where silent assassins, they terrified a generation of children but sadly, they don’t get the same acclaim as the Daleks, Cybermen or The Master. It was interesting to see how they would transfer to audio and I must say, Big Finish has done a great job once again!

The Doctor and Lucie land at a seaside town, where everything is all but normal. Despite the TARDIS working (for once!) and landing in the 21st Century, they have instead landed at a place, where the sea as gone out and not come back in. Bryan Adams is at No1 and it seems the villagers are playing out the same day, over and over again.

It’s another cracking listen and I would strongly recommend you give it listen, if you’re a fan of the Autons. As you listen, the plot and who’s behind it, will become blatantly obvious but with a few surprises.

Good story but it did lack the pace that we’ve come to associate with the 8th Doctor Adventures range.

8/10

Next Time: I will be reviewing ‘Skull of Sobek”

The Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 2 Episode 2 - Max Warp


“Welcome to Max Warp! Broadcasting live from the Sirius Inter-G Cruiser Show. Hosted by outspoken columnist and media personality Geoffrey Vantage, with spaceship-guru-extraordinaire O’Reilley and daredevil pilot Timbo ‘the Ferret’.”

When a test flight of the new Kith Sunstorm ends in disaster, the Sirius Exhibition Station is plunged into a web of murder and intrigue. Someone – or something – is trying to re-ignite a war between the Varlon Empire and the Kith Oligarchy.

As the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance, only two investigators, the Doctor and Lucie, can hope to uncover the truth.

So strap yourself in, engage thrust, and prepare for... Max Warp!

The Doctor and Lucie land on a planet where all the boys are showing off their toys. No it isn’t cars or Doctor Who toys – they are the latest high-speed spaceships! Hence the Top Gear spoof! ‘Max Warp’ is a television programme, much like Top Gear but with spaceships. But when test driver ‘Timbo the ferret’ has an accident and goes missing, an alien race is blamed. Can The Doctor and Max Warp’s newest presenter – Lucie, solve the mystery.

Its yet another well-done audio from the guys over at Big Finish. They do the spoof of Top Gear excellently and I’m sure fans of that programme will like this as well! After a solid opening episode, this takes off and is possibly one of the best 8th Doctor audios. I really don’t have much to criticise, although they could have utilised the excellent guest stars (James Fleet, Duncan James and Graeme Garden) a lot more.

Excellent episode and definitely worth a listen if you’re an 8th Doctor fan!

9/10