Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Big Finish Doctor Who 113 - Time Reef

A curse on this damned reef - and curse the Doctor who brought us here!

Drawn by the siren call of a distress beacon, the TARDIS crash-lands on an uncharted time reef. However, the Doctor, Nyssa and Brewster are not the only mariners marooned on this barren rock. Commander Gammades and his crew of returning war heroes have been similarly shipwrecked, as has the beautiful but mysterious Lady Vuyoki.

But there's something else here, too. A thing of darkness which crawls blindly across the surface of the reef hunting for prey: the Ruhk.

Big Finish just keep pulling rabbits out of hats with their audios! We’ve been treated to some great stories in the last couple of months and ‘Time Reef’ is no different.

Following on from the events of ‘The Boy That Time Forgot’, we are in the TARDIS as The Doctor and Nyssa try to find items that have mysteriously disappeared, and they believe that Brewster is behind it.

They learn that the dimensions of the TARDIS are closing in and with time running out, before it's destroyed, they land at the last journey the TARDIS made – a reef, in space, which is stuck in a ‘time bubble’! They are not the only ones stuck there, the rock is populated by the ship’s crew who are on constant guard against killer birds called ‘The Ruck’. And there’s even a sinister lady nearby, who seems to have wrapped the ship’s captain around her little finger.

It’s quite a bizarre concept but it makes sense when you listen to it! It’s brilliantly written by Marc Platt, even with a lot of Ancient Greece references (for more info on that – listen to the extras!)

Our usual team are joined by Nicholas Farrell, Sean ‘Harry Potter’ Biggerstaff, Beth Chalmers and Sean Connolly. As usual the supporting cast do a wonderful job!

The three-part ‘Time Reef’ is accompanied by the one-parter – ‘A Perfect World’. This is another truly wonderful story, which sees one of the TARDIS crew making a big decision as they have caused the whole earth to be perfect, which is a bad thing! It just puts the icing on the cake and it’s rather different from the one-parters that we are used to.


Next Time – Colin Baker and India Fisher are back in ‘Brotherhood of the Daleks’!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Big Finish Doctor Who - The Stageplays - The Ultimate Adventure

Big Finish have decided to adapt three Doctor Who stage plays onto audio, the first of which is ‘The Ultimate Adventure’. They just manage to pull it off.

The play was originally performed by Jon Pertwee from March 1989, until he became ill. David ‘Cyber Leader’ Banks took over as The Doctor, for some of his performances. It wasn’t long though until Pertwee was replaced by Colin Baker, who was sacked from his television role just three years previously. Colin reprises his role as the 6th Doctor for this audio version.

Early on it becomes obvious that this play wasn’t designed to be on audio. Everything seems a bit OTT but once everything settles down we are treated to a good story. We are introduced to the Doctor’s companion – Jason (played by former Hearsay ‘singer’ Noel Sullivan), a Frenchman saved from the guillotine by The Doctor. They materialise in London to meet Prime Minister Margret Thatcher, who wants them to protect a US envoy, who is a key man in peace talks being held in London. When they turn up, at the nightclub, the Cybermen are coming from the shadows and abduct the envoy but they are not working alone in their attempts to plunge earth into war….

The audio really gets going from part two onwards, once we are introduced to nightclub singer, Crystal (Claire Huckle), the play really goes up a notch. While it doesn’t hit the heights of Big Finish’s monthly releases, the play is adapted very well and does what its designed do - a bit of harmless fun!

The supporting cast are good and it’s great to hear David Banks back on Doctor Who. He isn’t playing the Cyber-Leader though, so there’s no chance of an “Excellent” catchphrase! Booooo!

We are also treated to the songs from the original play. Whilst there isn’t many, “Business is Business” is the standout song and the title is used as a catchphrase throughout the play. We could have done with a few more songs though!


Next Month – Trevor Martin plays The Doctor in ‘Seven Keys To Doomsday’

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Torchwood - Lost Souls

Torchwood made its radio debut in ‘Lost Souls’, which centred itself around ‘Big Bang Day’ celebrating the launch of the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Jack, Gwen and Ianto are contacted by Martha Jones and fly out to Switzerland to investigate a number of mysterious disappearances around the CERN base, which UNIT are guarding.

John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd and Freema Agyeman all reprise their roles, along with guest stars Lucy Montgomery and Stephen Critchlow As a fan of BBC Radio 4 comedies, I was expecting some funny stuff from Lucy Montgomery, so I was surprised to hear her ‘playing it straight’ for once!

The audio could have easily made the transition to the television series and I think that’s my main gripe with it. I think audios should be different, the Big Finish Doctor Who plays are so far removed from the television series, which allows us more things to think about and visualise something different, which is the main appeal of audio stories. I just felt this episode tugged along like a normal Torchwood ‘filler’ episode and didn’t really achieve anything.

I also felt that the characters where introduced far too early, it was a case of, ‘let’s get the who’s who out of way quickly’. The constant referrals to the deaths of Tosh and Owen also got a little bit tedious, I think they are better dealt with in the TV version. I felt it lacked that little of bit extra substance that most audios, especially the Big Finish ones, have.

There are some good moments though. John Barrowman, in particular, is his usual cheeky self and it was nice to see Gareth David-Lloyd given a much larger role than his television incarnation. Although I still think that they’ve killed off the wrong male Torchwood member! It’s well worth a listen, just to experience Torchwood in another medium, if you’re a big fan, you’ll lap it up!


Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on the 10th September, ‘Lost Souls’ is available now on CD or download from BBC Audiobooks. Apart from the story, the CD also contains interviews with the cast.


Thursday, 25 September 2008

Ashes To Ashes - Episode 8

“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too”. Er, not really – series 1 of Ashes to Ashes is at an end! Never fear though – it is back next year! This series has improved with every episode and anyone still comparing it with Life on Mars, should be slapped around by Gene Hunt!

It’s a different show, with a different set up. I doubt that the solution to Alex’s predicament (if there is one!) will be same as Sam Tyler’s in Life on Mars and I feel Ashes to Ashes has more mileage in it, as the program isn’t just concentrated on one character.

In this episode, we finally find out the truth about how Alex’s parents died. Meanwhile the station is under inspection from Lord Scarman (an actual real-life person, played by Geoffrey Palmer), who has powers to close the station down. So Gene is obviously on tenderhooks and is determined that nothing and no-one will let the station down.

With the day of her parents death looming, Alex fakes a phone call from an informant and her and Ray investigate the ‘bomb threat’. They stake out a gay pride march and Alex destroys a car, which she believes the Price’s will die in, with a pink tank! Or something that was done up like a tank anyway! As they make their getaway, poor Ray breaks his nose - thanks to Alex’s driving!

The cells, back at the station, aren’t populated enough, so Chris is thrown in for ‘indecently exposing himself on a bus’! He would be joined later by some of the gay pride marchers and after a ‘YMCA’ later - you can imagine what happened next!

Alex continues her campaign and after going to prison to see Layton, who shot her in 2008 and knows about the bombing, she gets nowhere. Later she planted drugs on the Price’s in order to prevent them from getting in the car the next day. Meanwhile Lord Scarman, who knows the Price’s and is furious that they’ve been nicked, asks to sample ‘life in the cells’ – alongside poor Chris!

Alex’s efforts prove to be pointless, after another emotional chat with her mother (not again!), the Price’s are released and they borrow Evan’s car for their trip. Alex receives a phone call from Layton, who has just been released and her and Gene desperately try to reach the Price’s. We then see the events from Alex’s flashbacks, young Alex loses her balloon and gets out of the car just as her Dad, or as we learn, The Clown of Death, is behind it all and the car blows up.

Apparently, he found out about his wife’s affair with Evan and went mad. He wanted his family ‘to be together forever’ and got explosives expert, Layton, out of jail to help him. It was Evan who Layton was blackmailing in 2008, as Alex didn’t know the truth behind her parents death. And it was Gene who took Alex’s hand and took her away after the car blew up – not Evan. Does this mean Gene is real? Who knows!

A marvellous end to the series, which improved episode by episode. Even though I love Life on Mars, I honestly think Ashes to Ashes is more consistent and the storyline will become more interesting next year, hopefully! While Life on Mars was a brand-new concept, the writers have had time to plan Ashes to Ashes and improve upon the world in which its set. The moments of horror in this series have been done brilliantly and the humour has counterbalanced that well. The moment in which Tim Price was revealed to be ‘The Clown’ was totally unexpected and quite scary!


Here’s looking forward to next year, where hopefully we will learn more about Alex and Shaz will be given a bigger role!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Ashes To Ashes - Episode 7

Alex shows her true colours this week and stabs Gene in the back after he does what he does best – beating people up! With Caroline Price and Evan waiting in the wings, Alex isn’t short of company.

Alex’s visions of the ‘Clown of Death’ continue and he tells her that someone will die and images of her colleagues are shown dead. She quickly realises she must do anything to prevent this.

After charity fundraiser, Gil Hollis (Matthew McFadyen, Keeley Hawes real-life husband) is shot and robbed of his charity money, an appeal is launched on television program, ‘Police 5’. Fat versions of Gene and Ray appear, whilst someone who looks nothing like Chris is left pounding behind them! It’s all quite funny, except for ‘real life’ Gene, Ray and Chris! Gene even appears on Police 5 with an appeal – “Don’t have nightmares, no, do have nightmares these are scum and they’re still at large and we need to nail these bastards!”

Meanwhile Gil is found out to have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so he seems to be very strange, doing a number or odd things and Gene loses his patience. He pays a visit to some ‘Ska Boys’, who hang around near the crime scene. But when the lads seem reluctant to give information, the real Gene Hunt is back as a mass brawl breaks out - fantastic! Gene carries on the violence back at the station, much to Alex’s horror. Gene gets his information but Alex reports him and ‘The Manc Lion’ is took off the case and put on ‘leave’. The Price’s take over Hollis’s case.

With Alex being shunned by everyone, Gene tips off the team about an item which Hollis put back on his car window, after he had been shot. They head down to the area and find the gun in a portaloo, with Chris doing the honours! Meanwhile Gene is eating a ‘Steak and Chips Pizza’ in Luigi’s, when the team burst in and tell him of the news.

But then Luigi’s becomes under siege, as Hollis has turned up, shooting at the restaurant. After Alex tries to calm him down, he runs off but Shaz follows him. After he is caught, he accidently stabs her and despite Alex’s best efforts. It seems the pretty WPC is dead. Chris, her boyfriend, is upset and Gene allows him and Ray to give Hollis a kicking, much to the horror of Sgt. Vic. Meanwhile Alex is determined not to let the ‘Clown of Death’ win and revives poor Shaz.

It was a breathtaking episode from start to finish. What I like about Ashes to Ashes, is its ability to go from a comic moment to an almost horror like, upsetting moment in seconds. Whilst the fat Ray, with jewellery and Gene’s television appearance was hilarious, the stabbing of Shaz almost brought a tear to the eye. I say almost, I’ll leave all that crying to nancy boys and the girls!

Credit to Matthew McFadyen for such a convincing role as the OCD-affected Hollis. I thought he was superb, considering the role he had to play and the fact that he had to act opposite his wife! But it all won’t be possible without the writing. Which is makes me wonder – Did Matthew Graham really write the Doctor Who episode, Fear Her?!


Next Week – We are coming to end of Ashes to Ashes but with so many questions to be answered, will everyone make it out alive?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Ashes To Ashes - Episode 6

Phil Davis guest stars in this week’s Ashes to Ashes as aging bank robber Chas Cale, who met Gene Hunt 10 years previously, in Manchester. He got away then and now he has retried to run a restaurant in London with his wife. Gene doesn’t believe him, as he is investigating a local post office, which was robbed with all the hallmarks of a Chas Cale job.

Meanwhile Alex is feeling unwell. Her visions of ‘The Clown of Death’ don’t help much and she believes she is going to die. So her goodbye to Caroline Price seemed very uncomfortable, well to me anyway!

It turns out that Cale is too ill to do any kind of robbery, so the team are back at square one as Gene and Alex continue their slanging matches. Alex even steals Gene’s car to steal Cale’s rubbish bags for evidence! In fact Gene’s feeling ‘past it’ and goes to Luigi’s for a ‘quiet drink’, well nothing’s ever quiet in Luigi’s! The owner constantly badgers Gene to go upstairs and see Alex because ‘it’s not right that there’re both alone’. Gene eventually does and as they are having a few drinks, Chris and Ray, who are ‘undercover’ in a pub, contact Gene to tell him they may have nicked one of the bikers who robbed the post office.

We learn that the biker is looking after his nephew and when his alibi checks out, the team are nowhere again. That is until the biker turns up dead and the murder is witnessed by the young lad.

We find out that it was indeed Chas Cale who did the robbery along with the murdered man but it was his wife that was pulling the strings and she hired an hit man. Still, it looks bleak for Alex, as she is taken, tied up and shoved in a freezer, for the hit man to come and collect. But it’s Gene who comes to the rescue and after the most epic scene of ‘shooting a glass door’ I have ever seen, he gets Alex out of freezer and revives her!

It was another very good episode but I always feel uncomfortable watching the scenes between Alex and her mother. I don’t know if they are designed to be like that and it’s no criticism of the actors but I just squirm when Alex cries in front of her! It also seems the Gene-Alex love thing is on, after Gene drew a naughty picture of him, ahem, ‘doing’ Alex! She didn’t see it but Ray, Chris and Shaz did! Whoops!


Next Week – Gene finally does us a favour and kicks smarmy Evan’s head in!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Ashes To Ashes - Episode 5

Love, guns and murder are on the menu in this week's Ashes to Ashes and Ray finds a new talent – chatting up men! Local bastard, Simon Neary, is wanted for a number of crimes, including drug dealing and pimping. But this isn’t any run-of-the-mill gangster – he happens to like the male form, much to the boys disgust!

Alex tries to befriend Simon’s ‘boyfriend’, Marcus (Russell Tovey, aka Alonso Frame in Doctor Who – Voyage of the Damned) to get information on him. Meanwhile Gene ruffs up one of his snouts, who works for Neary and who has been passing on information about a deal involving guns. It isn’t long until he turns up dead and Gene gets angry and threatens Neary.

Alex believes that if she can stop the guns from getting in, then there would be no ‘gang warfare’ in the future, thus stopping her from getting shot in 2008. Personally I thought this was a little silly of her, she wouldn’t be able to stop all the guns from getting in!

As Alex and Gene bicker, they go ‘undercover’ at a gay club with Alex accompanying Marcus. Neary doesn’t give too much away, apart from the impression he isn’t very nice and gets jealous quite easily! So it’s up to Ray, in the most hilarious scene yet, who chats up Neary! Again, the team hardly get anywhere as the gangster says something that Raymondo doesn’t like and he causes a scene and thumps a few clubbers!

It isn’t long until Alex persuades Marcus what kind of man his boyfriend is and after seeing him with Ray, he agrees to go undercover and ‘trap’ him. A ride to a disused warehouse later, where Neary has already shot the gun dealer and as he and Marcus have sex (which Gene and Alex are listening to on the radio via Marcus’s wire), he blurts out that he killed the snout. Things get more frantic and there’s a gunshot but it’s Neary who’s left in a critical condition.

Alex takes Marcus home to parents he hasn’t seen for 10 years. Presumably, the police haven’t reported that it was Marcus who shot Neary! It’s a rather touching moment, as it seems Marcus as the onset of an STD, which were rife during the 1980’s.

The episode runs at a decent pace with the usual funny moments in it! It does leave you wanting more but I would say that this episode is one of the more straight forward ones in the series, which means there is a lot more to come!


Next Week: Gene finally leaves the wine bar and goes drinking in a proper pub!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Ashes To Ashes - Episode 4

It’s all spooky-spooky doo this week in Ashes to Ashes! There’s no sign of ghosts but spies a plenty, as the team get involved in a goverment cover up, after a man was murdered.

The episode also delves more into the Price’s and we learn that the murdered man, Martin Kennedy, was blackmailing Caroline Price after Alex’s mother was involved in an affair with dodgy Evan - and Kennedy had the photos to prove it.

But as the team pull in a group of socialists, that Kennedy had recently joined, they get nowhere. It’s only when they crack a code, hidden in Kennedy’s diary, that they get somewhere. They try and retrieve a file, which may prove the socialist group’s suspicions correct, that the government are testing nuclear weapons at Kennedy’s workplace, a government facility, and murdered Kennedy because he had plans to steal it.

Gene and Alex end up locked in an air=tight vault and things look very intimate, or is it just the heat inside the vault? Chris and Ray, fresh from ‘persuading’ the socialist leader to tell them what really happened in her dealings with Kennedy, come to the rescue.

It’s Ray and Chris that steal the show, again! Their brilliant ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine was really funny as was their attempt at ‘spying’ on Gene. Another priceless few moments was Chris taking on board advice from a feminist and Ray’s reaction to the Caroline Price photos! This is precisely what makes Ashes to Ashes as strong as it is. The quality of the writing and the supporting cast is just superb, some shows just concentrate on the main characters and that is why most end up short of quality.


Next Week: The boys end up in a gay club. Aren’t all clubs in London like that anyway?

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Ashes To Ashes - Episode 3

Ashes To Ashes just keeps on improving! The show has now surely got its own identity and is moving forward in the right direction, after Life on Mars.

This week, after busting a drugs ring (who stored cocaine in garden gnomes!), Gene and Alex come to blows after he doesn’t believe that ‘a lady of the night’ was raped. I say come to blows, Alex did give him a decent jab on the jaw! But for me, it’s Ray that steals the show. In Life On Mars, he was portrayed as a kind of ‘bad guy’ figure, who really disliked Sam Tyler. I didn’t like the character much but so far in Ashes To Ashes, he’s been great! He’s always got the funny quip and his on-screen ‘partnership’ with Chris is brilliant! In this episode, he shows his softer side when he befriends a rape victim, who is reluctant to tell the police what happened.

Alex gets to meet the younger version of Evan White, who is her Godfather and the person who she left her daughter, Molly, with in 2008. Personally, I think there’s something sneaky about him! Alex also gets to (drunkenly) drop her knickers again after Gene turns her down and she gets with some wine-drinking ponce!

Meanwhile, Gene believes the ‘rape’ is connected to that of a murder, which took place a while previously. After the description given to them by the ‘victim’ they stake out a party, which takes place on a boat. The team get to enjoy themselves, as the party is fancy dress! One of the staff is arrested but lack of evidence and Evan White, scupper them but it’s not long until the culprit takes another prostitute hostage and is caught. We also find out that the ‘victim’ was helping the girl who Ray befriended, as she was too scared to come forward.

Unfortunately, after the hostage makes herself disappear, it seems unlikely that a court will believe the testimony of Ray’s new friend. But he was soon nicked for storing the drugs from earlier, thanks to Ray-mondo!

It was another very good episode, we are starting to learn more about Alex and credit to the writers for resisting the temptation to make her some kind of ‘likeable hero’, just for the sake of it. It gives her a lot more depth if she has a lot of problems to work through and would be just be very boring if she was always right! The same goes with Gene, I suppose!


Next Week: Ray gets to use his ‘James Bond costume’ again, as he goes undercover – as a waiter!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Big Finish Doctor Who 112 - Kingdom of Silver

The Doctor arrives on Tasak in search of refreshment, armed with nothing more than a kettle. But this is a time of crisis for a civilisation about to enter an industrial age.

Mindful that a devastating war is only recently over, the wise and revered Magus Riga will do almost anything to save his people from the follies of the past. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And the planet Tasak is host to ancient powers buried deep and long forgotten. Can visitors from another world avert disaster or will their intervention drag this innocent world into the Orion War?

After the last solo 7th Doctor story, I was a little bit worried. ‘The Death Collectors’ was a little bit disappointing but I should not have feared, as this month’s release, ‘Kingdom of Silver’ was superb!

I think it’s fair to say that ‘The Death Collectors’ downfall was the fact that it had a small cast. ‘Kingdom of Sliver’ has many more characters that accompany The Doctor and that allows for much more character development, which helps the story to ‘tick along nicely’ and not drag on, as parts of ‘The Death Collectors’, unfortunately, did.

I think it’s great that Big Finish continue to explore The Doctor’s life, just before the TV Movie, where he is travelling alone. It adds a whole new aspect to Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor and helps the character to move on from the ‘dark Doctor’ of 1989 and change into the lonely figure we saw in 1996. This and ‘Frozen Time’ do that well, whilst ‘The Death Collectors’ is interesting enough, it would probably work better with a companion or two!

The Doctor finds himself with company in the TARDIS, as Temeter (Neil Roberts) tracks a signal coming from the blue box. The Doctor is on the lookout for another signal, which he views as suspicious. He and Temeter work together to trace it but Temeter isn’t telling The Doctor what he’s really up to.

Meanwhile, the leader of the planet, Magus Riga (Terry Molloy) is preparing to throw a party for all the distinguished scientists on the planet and he even has a new statue to unveil - an artefact found at the planet’s ancient ruins – a silver statue…

The audio is beautifully paced and really grabs you, it just lacks that element of surprise as, thanks to the cover, you already know who the villains are and the plot is quite easy to figure out! It’s still an enjoyable listen and works well as a solo 7th Doctor story. It was also nice to hear Terry Molloy lending his voice to someone other than Davros!

The one-parter, included with this release, is ‘Keepsake’. It’s another compact but excellent little tale that contains some of the characters from ‘Kingdom of Sliver’. It’s a great listen and supplements the three-parter very well.


Next Time: Thomas Brewster joins The Doctor and Nyssa full-time as they hit a ‘Time Reef’!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Primeval Series 2 Episode 7

The team find themselves in a dire situation in the last episode of Primeval – they are right in the middle of a bunker full to the brim with pre-historic creatures! Things don’t improve later, as Leek goes increasingly insane and Helen becomes even more nastier!

After Leek lets a ‘giant scorpion’ lose on a beach, he contacts Lester and taunts him, saying that he has more creatures, stationed at more locations and will release them if he doesn’t call off the search for Cutter and his team. Lester immediately brings in the sacked Stephen, who heads down to the beach to deal with it.

Meanwhile Cutter is filled in on the ‘plan’, as Leek tells him he wants to control the world by using the anomalies to change things and use the creatures to kill anyone he dislikes. He shows the professor how he controls the animals – with a computer chip stored in their brain area. Helen, just apparently, wants to continue her research into the anomalies, but does she really?

Things then kick off, as Leek sets a sabre-tooth tiger loose and Cutter destroys Leek’s computer, meaning that Connor’s virus (which he planted in episode 6) had rendered the computer from ever working again. All the cages are opened and things get messy! And as Leek is eaten by the ‘Future Predators’ the team escape or so they think. In desperation, Helen calls Stephen and he comes to the rescue. But as the door to the creatures can only be locked from the inside, it is Stephen who scarifies himself and saves everyone. Cutter is obviously gutted, as Helen makes good her escape.

It’s all very tense and the acting just about keeps it together, Karl Theobald who plays Leek is just superb and really steals the show. It was also sad to see the demise of Stephen, as he was made out to be the ‘bad guy’ of the team, when we knew he wasn’t! And Caroline got her comeuppance when Connor told her where to go! Methinks a Connor-Abby relationship is on the cards!

Plenty of action and as the plot really thickens, there are still questions to be answered. What has really happened to Claudia Brown? What exactly is Helen up to? Judging by the end, which took place at Stephen’s grave, with Helen whispering ‘things can change’, there is indeed plenty more to come. The same can be said for the return of ‘The Cleaner’ and his many ‘clones’, who accompanied Helen to Stephen’s grave!


Here’s looking forward to the 10-part series 3 in early 2009!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Torchwood Series 2 Episode 13 - Exit Wounds

It was a decent enough ending to the series but, as always, it didn’t stop me having a few gripes with the story! This final episode sees the long-awaited introduction of Jack brother, Gray.

It seems however that Gray hasn’t forgiven his brother for losing his grip, during the flashbacks in ‘Adam’. In these, Jack and Gray’s home world was under attack from an ‘unknown alien race’ and as they where running away, Jack lost Gray’s grip and apparently, Gray spent most of his life imprisoned. Now, Gray has set a number of ‘traps’ around Cardiff to keep the team busy, whilst Captain John lures Jack back to the hub, where he and Gray take him prisoner. And speaking of even more prisoners, we learn that it is John, not Gray who is forced to work with the other.

Jack wakes up to find himself in Cardiff – in the year AD 27. Gray buries him as a ‘foundation stone’ and claims that Jack’s immortally is a ‘curse’ and that Jack will spend ‘every death thinking about what he has done’.

John suddenly has a change of heart, when he returns to the present and once he is free, he works with the Torchwood team, in order to bring down Gray’s reign of terror. Jack meanwhile is dug up by the Torchwood team of 1900 and asks them to freeze him because there are two of him, shagging around, in that time period.

Back to the future where Gray sets up a nuclear reactor to blow up and as Tosh tries to stop him – he shoots her. When Owen gets to the plant, he learns that he can stop the meltdown but at his own risk. Tosh, despite bleeding to death, helps him from the hub and after a tearful goodbye, they both die. The reactor room blows up with Owen inside it and Tosh dies in the arms of Jack, who has returned from the freezer. It’s a beautiful scene that would have had some fans crying.

Jack has one last showdown with Gray and as Gray refuses to forgive his brother, Jack drugs him and freezes him.

It’s a breathtaking episode that does have its questionable points. Tosh’s appearance in ‘Aliens of London’ was briefly explained, very poorly though. I also didn't understand Gray's motive, it seemed a little bit childish to me. If someone had made me lose my brother's grip and imprisoned me, I would want revenge on the ones who had chased me, not my brother. I thought that was the main reason that let the episode down.


Well it's goodbye Owen and Tosh, there is also no more Torchwood until 2009. Let’s hope the mini series, ‘Children of Earth’ will be the start of a new and improved era for Torchwood.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Torchwood Series 2 Episode 12 - Fragments

Well that was an episode worth watching! After weeks of writing critical reviews, I can finally praise the efforts of Torchwood.

The story sees the team (minus Gwen, who is being lazy and is in bed, still stuck to Rhys) being led into a building, which blows up and they get trapped under the rubble. We then get to see ‘flashbacks’ of how each of them joined Torchwood.

With Jack trying to position himself near ‘The Rift’, in order to meet The Doctor again, he gets stuck in the Victorian era and is reluctantly recruited by two very foxy ladies, who work for ‘Torchwood’. They notice his immortality and his constant mumblings of ‘The Doctor’ and task him with finding him. Jack initially refuses, as Torchwood are after The Doctor but after a chance meeting with the fortune teller, known as the ‘scary little girl’ (from ‘Dead Man Walking’), he is told that he will meet The Doctor in 100 years. Jack goes back to Torchwood and reluctantly takes the job. Let the shagging begin! Things take a wrong turn for Jack however, when in 1999 a member of his team goes bananas and shoots all the team and himself dead, in the belief that the 21st Century will be ‘the end of everything’. So Jack must now recruit a new team….

Tosh is next and after she is blackmailed into getting some plans for a sonic device, she is nicked by UNIT and placed into somewhere that all prisons should be like. Jack comes to the rescue by employing her on the basis of her ‘quick learner’ ability and the fact she can delete all cookies from a computer!

Ianto’s story is crap. After the events of the Doctor Who episode ‘Doomsday’, he is out of work and heads to Cardiff and stalks Jack until he gives him a job. But it’s Owen’s story that is truly great and heartbreaking at the same time. He is engaged to Katie, who is believed to be suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Owen pleads with his hospital colleagues to scan her brain, again and they find what seems to be a tumour. It isn’t – it’s an alien parasite that kills her and all the surgeons in the operating theatre. And as Jack gets involved, Owen tries but fails to get any information out of him and Jack covers it all up. Until Katie’s funeral that is, when Jack tells all and offers Owen a job. It’s brilliantly acted and gives us some insight into why Owen’s charter is such a ‘bastard’!

Meanwhile Gwen and Rhys arrive at the building and free the team. But someone is waiting for them, it’s a Captain John hologram and it seems he’s got Jack’s brother Gray. John threatens to ‘tear Jack’s world apart’. Should be fun next week, eh?

An excellent episode, let down only by Ianto’s story. Beautifully acted, written and we even got to some girl-on-girl, which evens up for all the Jack/Ianto ‘moments’!


Next Time: Lots of things get blown up – Jack’s jealous!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Torchwood Series 2 Episode 11 - Adrift

When I didn’t think it could get any worse, Torchwood proves me wrong yet again! After a cameo by ‘Papa Lazarou’ last week, this week we have ‘Sloth’ from The Goonies!

I suppose ‘Adrift’ is supposed to tug on your heartstrings – it tug my patience! So when a young lad, Jonah, disappears as a result of ‘rift activity’. Seven months later, he is back but he’s has severely aged, his looks have gone the way of John Merrick and he is locked in a ‘hospital’ ran by some strange nurses and Jack is reluctant to tell Gwen about it.

In fact plenty of people have gone the same way and everyone but Gwen seems to know. As an ex-police officer – she has to investigate. Enter the excellent Tom Price as ‘PC Andy’, a character that should be in Torchwood a lot more!

So with Gwen doing the woman’s thing, setting up support groups for parents who have had children go missing, Jack is burrowing himself into Ianto. Ruth Jones guest stars as Jonah’s mum and her performance is, at times, a bit OTT. Stick to comedy, love!

The plot is so ridiculous, I can’t be arsed going into it. Needless to say a possible reference to The Doctor is made, as Jonah was rescued from a ‘burning planet and taken into a rescue craft’. The rest is about how Mum wants to keep Sloth but he’s a bit ‘round the twist’ so he has to stay in the hospital. Marvellous eh?


Next Week: We are coming to the end, so will the last two episodes be the saving grace of the series? I hope so but the way things have been going - I very much doubt it!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Torchwood Series 2 Episode 10 - From Out Of The Rain

You know what? I’m getting sick of writing negative reviews for Torchwood. My range of insults need a rest sometime but they are unlikely to if they keep producing stories like ‘From Out Of The Rain’.

It’s a bit of ‘Last Action Hero’ and ‘The League of Gentlemen’ but set in Wales – and you thought Royston Vasey was weird! On paper, it’s a great idea but sadly it doesn’t come off.

They try to do ‘Gothic Horror’ but it comes out all American-ized and dull - much like Buffy. Next we’ll be having singing vampires, with rubbish southern accents, who fall in love with school girls! Torchwood doesn’t need to rip off other shows it should attempt to forge its own style. This series as been almost a ‘who’s of who’ of programmes that have been ripped off, or ‘influenced by’ as the writers put it!

After some old film cans are found at a cinema, the characters, namely a ‘ghostmaker’ and his assistant come to life and ‘half-kill’ people by taking their ‘breath’. Of course when the ghostmaker, or 'Papa Lazarou' as I call him, tries to take Owen’s breath - he can’t. Yet Owen still goes around talking - I’m not going to let this go you know!

Of course Jack was involved with this Circus, somewhere down the line as ‘The Man Who Couldn’t Die. I’m sure one viewing of this episode would kill him off once and for all! The episode threatens to go into an ‘older kiddies’ type of mystery and the resolution of the plot is straight out of ‘Goosebumps’!

It’s camp, over the top and a huge let down. Thankfully it’s nearly the end of the series!


Next Week: More ‘fun’ as Gwen finds herself playing ‘Strip Twister’ with the pizza boy from the first episode of series 1. Spotty freak!

Friday, 12 September 2008

Bernice Summerfield 9.2 - The Adolescence Of Time

After a long delay in post-production from Big Finish, we finally get the chance to listen to ‘The Adolescence of Time’.

It’s a story with a twist as Benny hardly features so her son Peter takes the starring role. Thomas Grant is great as the young Kiloran but it was perhaps too early for him to have a solo role. Going back to the ‘End of the World’ where Jason Kane had a solo story, we were used to his character as he had been a regular seen the first series. This worked well and that is one of my favourite Benny audios, in fact that series as a whole, worked really well. In this story, I just felt we didn’t really have much to ‘hang on to’ in respect of Peter.

There are some nice touches though and everything seems neat and tidy. Peter finds a time ring and is transported to a world where prehistoric animals still roam and someone wants to capture Peter for ‘The Worm’ but he’s far too busy trying to rescue colonies of Pterodactylsl-type creatures, which are based on standalone rocks – in the sky! It’s a stunning thought and I thought Lisa Bowerman’s direction worked well.

I did feel however that the story lacked the ‘feel’ we’ve become used to with Benny audios. Whilst this new music, production and everything else is good it’s something which is far withdrawn from early Benny audios, which really got me hooked on the sexy-27th Century archaeologist! It’s perhaps something we’ll have to get used to, as this era of Benny audios continues and Peter’s character continues to develop.


Next Time: Benny is back on Earth – in Victorian times – in 'The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel'

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Torchwood Series 2 Episode 9 - Something Borrowed

So Rhys will finally make a (dis) honest woman out of Gwen but will she ever get to the church? After a typically boozy night out in Cardiff, she wakes up in the morning and finds herself pregnant - eight months pregnant! Don’t worry though, she can explain it – it ‘came’ from an alien bite! Hmmm better tell people its Rhys’s, instead!

As they try to hide it (!) she insists she wants to go through with the wedding and we get to meet one of Rhys's mates – a bloke called ‘Banana Boat’. This weird bloke is soon put in his place by Tosh, so the story isn’t affected by smatterings of ‘brainless ponce’, throughout!

We learn that a shape-shifting alien, a Nostrovite, is after the ‘baby’ inside Gwen. I think this is possibly one of the best ideas, for a monster, that Torchwood has come up with. Simply because you don’t know who the alien is and it could change at any minute! Simple but that’s Torchwood!

The episode is more of a comic one and I think it benefits from that. Torchwood has been grim and sad – like Eastenders, so it’s nice to see them have some fun! We even get to meet the parents of Gwen and Rhys! Owen takes a backseat this week but whips out an improved version of his ‘invention’, the ‘singularity scalpel’, seen in ‘Reset’ but it’s Rhys who saves the day and everything, typically, turns out fine. There’s even time for one more laugh, as Jack retcon's all the wedding guests!

Credit to Kai Owen (Rhys) who was finally given a bigger role than being ‘the typical man’, his performance in this episode and ‘Meat’ have certainly shown that there is a point to his character!


Next Week: The circus comes to town! I wonder if Jack and Ianto will ride the haunted-alien-monster infected-Welsh, Love Boat?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Torchwood Series 2 Episode 8 - A Day In The Death

Richard Briers guest stats in this weeks circus, the man who is known to Doctor Who fans for playing one of the shows most memorable roles in ‘Paradise Towers’. When I say memorable I’m referring to the ridiculous role he had to play in parts 3 & 4 as a ‘possessed corpse’, up until then he was good!

But back to Torchwood, where this week Owen is still dead. While he is sat on the top of building, talking to a suicidal women, we get to see the softer side of him. We learn in flashbacks, that Owen goes on an undercover mission to investigate a number of high energy readings, coming from the estate of Henry Parker (Briers).

It starts off particularly well but doesn’t really go anywhere. Owen is trying to persuade the girl (who we learn was in a car crash that killed her husband – just after their wedding) not to jump, whilst telling her he’s dead. I would have jumped, to be honest!

With Owen promoted from making crap coffee, he sneaks into the old man’s grounds, past the heat sensors (he’s dead, remember!) and as an altercation with a security guard – despite Martha telling him not to because he can’t heal. It’s all very Scooby Doo, as he opens the creaking door to the old man’s bedroom. We learn that Henry is a collector of alien artefacts but is seriously ill. He believes that an alien device – the pulse, is keeping him alive. It isn’t and as Owen explains this, the senile old git has a heart attack and dies. Owen tries in vain to save him but realises his CPR isn’t any help – he can’t breathe!

Which brings me to believe that the writers have seriously dropped a bollock - how can Owen talk? If he’s dead and can’t breathe, how can he have a voice? I would love them to try and explain this one!

It’s a better effort than last weeks, the moments on the roof with the girl were very touching but I felt this new ‘bond’ between Owen and Tosh is very forced and the episode as an whole was just too simple. Martha also bows out of Torchwood and returns to UNIT. But not before giving Jack a very awkward kiss (why?) and leaving us with this thought: Apart from ‘Reset’ what was the point in using her? She was hardly in this episode!


Next Week: Gwen is getting married but what will be her ‘Something Borrowed’? A new groom perhaps?

Monday, 8 September 2008

Torchwood Series 2 Episode 7 - Dead Man Walking

After the highs of last week, we are once again brought back to earth with a big bump. After instigating the perfect exit for Owen, they had to spoil it by bringing him back to life.

But he isn’t alive, he’s dead but yet he’s walking about. Oooh this is confusing! Fair play to the director, Andy Goodard, for trying his best but he was let down by the pen of Matt Jones. It was a story that wasn’t needed and would have been better if they just cried over Owen for 45 minutes.

So with Owen dead, the team struggle to find out what’s going on. He can’t eat, drink or shag anything, not even Jack! It’s all very sad, the obligatory scary little girl pops up, Owen becomes the ‘King of the Weevils’ (which hasn’t got anything to do with his Weevil bite from series 1 – maybe!) then he fights the Grim Reaper. If this wasn’t shot in live action, I swear it’s a cartoon!

The acting, at times, is the programmes saving grace. Despite working with a ridiculous plot, Burn Gorman was terrific as the very unlikeable Owen and really deserves better than starring in this and a few episodes of Eastenders! Another aspect I do love about this story was the music, once again – take a bow Mr Murray Gold and his team!

It is really disappointing when they pull off a story like ‘Reset’ but follow it up with a very poor ‘sequel’. Don’t forget Martha was in this story too, although you wouldn’t have guessed. If there was an Olympic event for learning everything medical within a year, she would win platinum, never mind gold! Again, its one of many plot holes that I’m simply pissed off with and sick of ranting about it. She looks quite fit when she ‘aged’ though!

I’ve been asked ‘Why do I watch Torchwood, if I hate it?’ I don’t hate it, the writers are capable of pulling off some very good stories, and it’s a shame they have to fill the rest of the series with pointless, plot-dragging stories like this. Hope it gets better!


Next Week: Will Owen die? Will Jack have his wicked way with Martha? I don’t give a toss either way!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Free Audio Drama Download From BIG FINISH: UNIT - The Coup

Big Finish are kindly giving away free downloads of the UNIT story - The Coup, originally given away with Doctor Who Magazine 351. Starring Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

CAST: Nicholas Courtney, Siri O'Neal, Scott Andrews, Matthew Brehner, Sara Carver, Michael Hobbs, Joseph Lidster, Mark Wright

SYNOPSIS: London, the near future; UNIT is finished. The UK division of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce prepares to cede its authority to a new organisation... But who is attempting to sabotage the hand-over?

AUTHOR: Simon Guerrier
DIRECTOR: Ian Farrington
SOUND DESIGN: David Darlington
MUSIC: David Darlington
COVER ART: Adrian Salmon

Download here. Right-click and select 'Save Target As'