Sunday, 29 June 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 12 - The Stolen Earth

Wow! Just Wow! I was not expecting that! With all the attention on the Daleks and Davros, we never expected the cliffhanger at the end. But more about that later!

From start to finish, this episode was just marvellous! We had a Who’s who of er Doctor Who! Rose, Martha, Sarah Jane, Jack, Gwen, Ianto, Luke, Francine, Mr Smith and even Harriett Jones! But it was Davros that was the main sticking point, at least during the episode.

He was done very well. Now played by Julian Bleach (the ‘Ghostmaker’ in Torchwood), Davros was terrifying as ever. The Daleks also got a chance to impress and really showed what they can do. Their last few episodes, just haven’t done them justice.

With the Earth being moved to the much-mentioned ‘Medusa Cascade’, with many other ‘stolen’ planets. The Doctor’s ‘secret army’ took up arms, pulled together by Harriett Jones (former Prime Minister). While The Doctor and Donna buggered off to the Shadow Proclamation, Bernard Cribbins, once again, stole the show! Whilst he was the most humorous of the lot, the rest of cast showed their great acting ability as well.

The Shadow Proclamation is a group of ‘outer space policeman’ with the Judoon, seemingly, being employed by them. Despite many people’s gripes, I thought it looked very good and no expense was spared.

There are decent nods to new and classic episodes. Mr Copper (from The Voyage of the Damned’) gets a mention, as does Clom and Calaufax (from ‘The Pirate Planet’). Also there are nods to other members of the Torchwood and Sarah Jane shows.

With all those ingredients, this episode could have been an absolute mess. It wasn’t, it was fantastic and easily one of the best, if not the best, episode of ‘new’ Doctor Who. The acting and the effects were just the tip of the iceberg.

When The Doctor finally gets inside the pocket universe, he gets into contact with all his friends and then Davros flickers onto the screen. We could have been in 1975, the terrifying voice and features would be giving kids nightmares for days! And that was just Ianto!

Then the ending! After landing, The Doctor sees Rose and as they run towards each other, a dalek comes around the corner and shoots The Doctor with a glancing shot. Jack appears and takes out the dalek, but it’s too late. As The Doctor is taken into the TARDIS, he regenerates – or does he? We don’t know until next week, because a rather camp TO BE COUNTIUED appeared on the screen. I’m sure many people screamed at the telly like I did!

Is he regenerating? I don’t know, I suspect not but who knows! It’s certainly going to be one long week. My head hurts now!


Next Week: Thousands of fangirls and boys shed tears as David Tennant DOES regenerate (maybe!)

'Journey's End' Trailer

The Doctor 'Regenerating'

Monday, 23 June 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 11 - Turn Left

What a trailer that was! It had everything! The Doctor, Donna, Rose, Martha, Jack, Sarah-Jane, Gwen, Ianto, Luke, Harriett Jones, Daleks and The Kandyman! Okay maybe not The Kandyman but surely he can’t be far off a return?

Before the trailer, we had this new show about Donna and ‘turning left’, it was great! We were given a Doctor-lite story, in which The Doctor wasn’t really missed! It was a ‘What If’ story, What if Donna had never met The Doctor? Well the world would not be the same, put it that way!

Donna is tricked by a palm reader (Chipo Chung, who played Chanto in ‘Utopia’) as a ‘time beetle’ crawls on her back. We are then taken to the moment in which Donna ‘turned left’ and made her way to the company, in which the events of ‘The Runaway Bride’ came from. Instead, under pressure from her mother, she turns right and takes a job at another company.

It was a name drop heaven and I’m sure we are set for a few more surprises! We are presented with a series of familiar events, as The Doctor dies during the events of The Runaway Bride, without Donna there to help him (presumably some other bint was infected with the stuff that brought Donna on board the TARDIS in the first place). Then The Judoon take the hospital, Martha dies and instead of The Doctor, Sarah-Jane and her team of young kids try to prevent the disaster but end up dying as well. The Titanic crashes and blows up London. I didn’t really like that part, surely those refugees could have been put up in a hotel, b+b, holiday camps, caravans and even prisons. I just didn’t understand the ‘3 families per house’ bit, I would rather live in a tent to be honest!

The Adipose then pop up in America, which is where they should have gone in the first place, seeing as more people live there! Then we have the Torchwood team just about preventing the Sontarans but they end up dying and Jack is transported to the Sontaran homeworld, presumably to do some ‘cloning’ of his own!

How can I forget the return of Rose? She kept appearing and disappearing and seemed to be telling UNIT what to do. I wondered if it really was Rose, I don’t think it is, to be honest. It just didn’t seem like the Rose we know. Either way, we are set for two epic episodes!

Overall, it was a cleverly written episode, the last couple of minutes are just wonderful. It was an interesting concept to see how events would have differed if you had turned one way instead of another. It makes you think doesn’t it? Once again Catherine Tate was just wonderful and has surely shut up the critics. Including me!


Next Week: Jack counts heads and wonders whether or not he’s had as many people at the same time!

'The Stolen Earth' Trailer

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 10 - Midnight

I suffered with first-watch syndrome again this week, as I didn’t particularly like this episode at first! But after a re-watch, I expelled my fears and enjoyed the episode!

This is the ‘Donna-lite’ story, with David Tennant getting a chance to do a story without a companion and I think this episode benefited from that refreshing change. Here we have The Doctor boarding a vehicle on its way out onto the surface of ‘Midnight’, a planet made of diamonds.

Guest stars include Doctor Who stalwart (and son of Patrick Troughton!), David Troughton, Lesley Sharp and some bint who used to be in EastEnders.

This was obviously the ‘money saving’ episode, with all the majority of the action taking place on one set. For the third episode running, we didn’t get to see what the ‘monster’ actually was, as it possessed Lesley Sharp. What followed was a masterclass of acting (or if you prefer, being childish!), as Sky (Sharp) copied everything that anyone said. One of the more truly terrifying moments was one she turned around and her face was just terrifying! We don’t need top SFX in Doctor Who to make it great!

In parts, the story seemed to drag on but I think, under the constraints, it was the best they could have produced. Credit must go to RTD for another great script. One aspect I did like about the episode, was when all the people turned on The Doctor. Its something we very rarely see and without a companion, he looked helpless. It got worse when he was possessed and I was worried for half a second that we could have lost him! Also the fact that nobody knew the hostess’ name was done well and said it all about the people on board.

Rose briefly appeared again and with a full return next week, in the ‘Doctor lite’ episode, things are starting to come to ahead with just 3 episodes to go. Here’s looking forward to ‘Turn Left’!


Next Week: Billie mistakes Catherine Tate to be her ex husband, the much maligned Chris Evans!

'Turn Left' trailer

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 2 Episode 6 - The Zygon Who Fell To Earth

It was always going to difficult to follow up one of the most iconic Doctor Who monsters, it was even going to be harder on audio. But I think ‘The Zygon Who Fell To Earth’ just scrapes through with credit.

Despite their cult status, The Zygons have only appeared once in Doctor Who. The 1975 serial – ‘The Terror of the Zygons’. There we had to contend with the deep-sea creatures that had a fetish for copying bodies and playing around with mythical monsters, in the Highlands of Scotland. Here we have the beautiful setting of The Lake District as the Zygon rallying point.

This audio sees the return of Lucie’s ‘Auntie Pat’ (Lynsey Hardwick) last seen in ‘Horror of Glam Rock’. She now runs a guesthouse with her husband and former pop star, Trevor (Steven Pacey). When two mysterious music moguls turn up, in order to lure Trevor back into the business, something is amiss. What are they really up to?

It’s a pretty decent effort but one aspect about the televised episode, that I didn’t like, was the use of a secondary monster. I think it distracted from the plot (and looked ridiculous!) and I believe the Zygons should have been more menacing. Here the Zygons do have an air of menace but it isn’t really enough for me to share the same love that some Doctor Who fans seem to have for them.

The performances, as usual are top notch. However, I didn’t feel that the audio was set in 1984. I just felt there was a lack of references that where there in the 70’s-set ‘Horror of Glam Rock’ There are a couple of nods to the original story, so classic fans will feel happy!

Overall, it’s a decent effort but not as good as it could have been.


Next Week: As the series is coming into its last story, we have the first instalment of a two-parter. ‘Sisters of Flame’ in July and then ‘Vengeance of Morbius’ in August. I wonder what those stories are about? (*slaps hand on forehead*).

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 9 - Forest of the Dead

When I first watched this episode, I was disappointed. But I always make a point of watching an episode at least twice and you know what? I wasn’t that disappointed, in fact I loved it, well sort of!

We picked up from where we left off, as the ‘Space Ghosts’ run riot all over The Library and Donna is trapped inside a massive computer. I was disappointed to see that River was quite possibly a love interest for the Doctor. We really need to move away from that stuff for a while. It can only get more confusing when Rose returns.

I was also annoyed that The Doctor’s real name is now a sticking point. Questions will be asked and people will want them answered. A subject that as been glossed over in the past, with a “John Smith” or “Just Doctor”, will become the main talking point for all fickle Doctor Who fans.

However I was impressed in how the episode came together in the end. Steven Moffat’s attention to detail is incredible, even though he has had a dig at Bernice Summerfield and ripped off the Space Ghost from Scooby Doo!

Tennant has come into his own this series, hopefully one of Moffat’s first tasks will be to keep David on for at least another year, which is something I think will happen. I’m hoping we’ll see River again, if only to give Alex Kingston some work! On a similar note, I was really disappointed that Steve Pemberton wasn’t given a bigger role. Although I’m glad he turned out to be a good guy.

I’m sure we all suspected that River would ‘die’ in this concluding part. And she did! But we had some old Doctor Who magic sprinkled on it, as The Doctor ‘saved’ her by putting her into the computer, so she could live with all her friends. That particular part was just superb.

I feel I must write a stern letter to a newspaper, who had previewed the episode by saying, “Donna is trapped in a Matrix-style world”, obviously the writer hadn’t taken into account that some of the story behind The Matrix is basically a rip-off of the Tom Baker episode ‘The Deadly Assassin. Ah, never mind!

Here’s looking forward to next week, from the trailer I’m not sure though!


Next Week: Lesley Sharp gets confused as she finds out that Christopher Eccelston isn’t The Doctor anymore!

'Midnight' Trailer

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 8 - Silence in the Library

From this point, this story can go two ways. It can either be the best two-parter we’ve had or it could be a huge let down. It’s finely balanced.

Steven Moffat penned this episode, it should be interesting to see if he carries on his trademark ‘dark’ stories when he takes over as executive producer in 2010. It wasn’t easy to spot ‘the line from Coupling’ this time, I think it was the “I’m thick, my head is too small” line. With me being the only one to spot his version of RTD’s ‘gay agenda’, I feel quite proud.

We had a possible pop at Paul Cornell in this episode. Moffat wrote in archaeologist ‘River Song’ who seems to know The Doctor. The Doctor didn’t have the foggiest who she is (as she apparently, met him in the future), so he quipped “I laugh at archaeologists”. Whether this is a reference to Cornell’s Bernice Summerfield, only he knows!

Back to the episode, where D+D land on a planet which doubles as the biggest library in the universe. Basically, its a similar plotline to the Bernice Summerfield audio ‘Timeless Passages’, hmmm I think I’m seeing another ‘agenda’ here!

Our duo are warned about ‘the shadows’ which are infected with ‘Vashta Nerada’, which eats human flesh in seconds. But not clothes, apparently! We get to meet River Song (Alex Kingston) and her team, headed by businessman Lux (Steve Pemberton). Meanwhile a little girl seems to be having dreams about the library and The Doctor. It seems she is controlling it and a visiting psychologist (Colin Salmon) seems to know she’s telling the truth and tells her that the library is ‘real’.

As the members of Lux’s expedition are gobbled up as quickly than any type food in Vanessa Feltz’s fridge, Donna is transmatted on board the TARDIS, only to disappear quicker than she appears. She pops up later as one of the faces on a information statue. Thing is, all those faces are donated by dead people. Whoops!

A pretty decent cast pulled the episode through, credit must go to Eve Newton who played the little girl. The episode was very dark and creepy, the Scooby Doo-style ‘space ghosts’ really helped but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. It seemed that this story was designed to be 3 parts, rather than 2 parts. But what Moffat does well, is to develop storylines. I’m confident the second part will be fantastic, as we get to the business end of the series.

As for who River Song is and the fate of Donna? I’ve no idea, but its going to be fun finding out, isn’t it?


Next Time: Donna is found alive and well, sipping tea and chatting to her cousin – Melanie Bush!

Before I sign off, a word on the mid series trailer (which you can view below). Okay it’s wasn’t brilliant, it seemed that only the Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead and the final two episodes were spliced together. Rose is back (with a gun), as are the Daleks (again!) and there is a figure shrouded in darkness, it seems to have a Dalek base and a blue eye. I think all bets are off folks!

'Forest of the Dead' Trailer

Mid series trailer

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Big Finish Doctor Who 108 - Assassin in the Limelight

Doctor Robert Knox returns in this story, set before the assassination of American president, Abraham Lincoln and it’s almost perfect, almost!

Colin Baker and Maggie Stables make a welcome return as they end up in Ford’s Theatre but someone is already waiting for them. Add to that a plot to kill the president and a little bit of corruption, we have ourselves a story!

We learn a lot more about Doctor Knox (Leslie Philips), who first appeared in ‘Medical Purposes’, alongside David Tennant (as ‘Daft Jamie’). I think the character is a lot lighter in this and the story benefits from that. We also get a look (or listen?) inside his TARDIS, which is, of course, better than The Doctor’s!

The story itself starts off brilliantly. I’m a big fan of historical stories and we get a really good insight into the goings on in that particular time period. However, I felt the story trailed off at the end and we weren’t given enough explanations about how certain things were done in the story. There is a nice link to the story ‘Pier Pressure’ too but I don’t think it really worked as the plot went a little flat. Despite this I enjoyed it immensely!

Eric Loren (Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks) and Lysette Anthony guest star. It’s Leslie Phillips who steals the show though. I honestly didn’t believe it was him, forgive me for being an ageist!


Coming Next: Sylvester McCoy runs into the ‘Death Collectors’. Star Trek fans (SCUM!) will collect anything won’t they?

The Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 2 Episode 5 - Grand Theft Cosmos

After last month’s disappointing effort we are almost back on track in this Eighth Doctor Adventures series.

The Doctor and Lucie are in 19th century Sweden where they ‘bump into’ The Headhunter and Karen, last heard in last year’s finale ‘Human Resources’. Unfortunately, The Headhunter and Karen are there to steal a rare diamond but so are The Doctor and Lucie, but why?

Top marks to the sound department for setting the scenes perfectly. I could just image The Doctor running up and down the corridors of a palace and Lucie in a fluffy dress (hmmmm)! Sheridan Smith is getting better and better with each story and Lucie is becoming one of my favourite companions. I think using The Headhunter and Karen as recurring ‘rouges’ is a great idea and hopefully we will get to see more of them.

I didn’t really buy the plotline around the diamond, it seemed too much thought had been put into it and it didn’t really work for me. Although I did enjoy Christopher Benjamin (‘The Talons of Wen-Chiang’ and ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’) performance as ‘Tardelli’. Colin Spaull (‘Revelation of the Daleks’ and ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’Age of Steel’) also guest starred.

Overall it’s a decent listen packed with a few good one-liners, certainly lighter than last month’s ‘Skull of Sobek’!


Next Time: The Doctor and Lucie bump into the Zygons in ‘The Zygon Who Fell To Earth’. Let’s hope that crap Loch Ness Monster doesn’t turn up, thus wrecking a decent story!