Monday, October 6, 2014

Die, Mummy, Die!: Mummy on the Orient Express


At last, another enjoyable episode! This weekend's entry comes from new writer #2, Jamie Matheison. Prior to it, I was dreading it in the wake of my disappointment with Kill the Moon. This week's show kicks off at a spaceship in the form of the Orient Express (another nostalgia cruise albet not a Max Capricorn owned one at that) and a mysterious Mummy claiming the lives of the passengers every 66 seconds prompting the dapper dressed Doctor and flapper Clara to investigate and prevent the next attack. So, on to the nitty-gritty!


  • Now 12th has officially arrived! While last Saturday's entry cranked up 6th (circa Season 22) and 7 (via the NAs and the recent audios) up to maximum power, here we have 12th as lovable disagreeable (like 1st and 3rd) from top to bottom right down to the teeth. Plus looks shap in a vintage tux reminecent of 3rd circa Season 7
  • Jelly Babies in the ciggie case! Welcome back, you sugary buggers!
  • The twist that the mummy was a ghost of a soldier was interesting and it makes a change for the out of the blue soldier bia portrayal of the Doctor Moffat and co have been shoving down people's throats
  • The psychic paper comeback
  • Foxes singing a 20s flavored (but shortned) rendition of Queen's Don't Stop me Now


  • The flip-flopping of Clara. The episode would've been the best opportunity to have a companion free episode from her. Now I knw Big Finish will have to work hard on redeeming her one day cus right now she's officially unlikeable.
  • The overuse of the stopwatch
  • The hurried final ten minutes. It would've benefited as a two-parter as opposed to the standard 45 minutes.

Bottom Line: Mummy on the Orient Express managed to be as enjoyable as Into the Dalek in its own right despite the hurried 10 minutes. Let's see if Mathieson's entry for next week fares, yeah?


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fantasy Writing For Dummies...: Kill The Moon Review

In Memory of Maggie Stables

The moon has changed - and now it's threatening to wipe out all life on Earth. But when the Doctor uncovers its secrets, he realises the situation is graver than anyone thought. Can he stand by and let humanity destroy the moon?

This may be one of a few occasions where I break from my usual review format and go straight to Reviewer Cut mode and also refrain from giving out a number rating this time around. There's a little to love about Kill The Moon but there's a whole lot to dislike about it. For instance, the first act, where Clara goes into a fit over the Doctor saying Courtney's not special....Clearly no one's ever seen that video of the speech read by a Boston, MA High School Teacher to the graduating class of 2012. The full video of that coomencement speech:

This and another fit at the end of the episode is where I finally condemned Clara Oswald as my pick for worst companion More on that, later on. Of course in order to save face with Clara and the child, he takes them both to the Moon only to encounter another expedition who were prepared to shoot their would be intruders. The moment where 12th was like kill, these two first then me (but I'll regenerate) smack of the worst of Twin Dilemma sans the regeneration crisis (remember those?). I may finally coming to understand how viewers felt in January-March of 1985 where great actor has to fight off material venering on the mediocre to the daft. It seems with Series, 8 and its material (leaked or not) shown so far that those promises Steven Moffat declared were just smokescreens for more of the same..

The story's dilemma focus's on the tough decision of destroying the Moon only to learn mid way that the Moon is actually an egg... I know about suspention of disbelief but this stretch that card to it's limit. Plus the line of "first woman on the moon" reaked of revisionist history considering various Moon stories that came before (namely the Moonbase and Smith & Jones). I reeally wanted to like the idea but it just doesn't seem to work. Even when we're told the Moon would hatch in 2049 managed to gain a depressive sigh from me. Adding insult to injury, that this goes further in the pro-life-pro-choice athmosphere which makes for unasy viewing.

Back to Clara and 12th, I'm on the fence on the riff. I was willing to side with her about another round of Doctor-dickery (move over, Super-dickery of the Silver Age) until she mentioned wanting to slap him again. That's where I had to side with 12th. If you're not tired of seeing the Doctor getting punched and slapped around by know, either you have more patience than yours truly or you just just enjoy the abuse. Not sure if the Christmas rumor is true or not but I'll be very glad to see her go. As for Courtney, I'll come right out and say it: She wasn't too bad here. Even if you feel her presence is tact on and unneeded, she wasn't moody like Angie Maitland (I tried to excuse her behavior in Nightmare in Silver with that she's going through puberty before realizing that had that story been with Victorian Clara and her charges as originally intended, the outcome would remain the same). She's indeed what most kids would normally do when travelling, post pictures on Tumblr and got to experience the wonder of the universe beautiful and scary. You can tell I'm not so harsh on child characters and child actors unlike the majority of fandom.

On that note, Kill The Moon is one that inspire criticism (much well deserved) for it's plot and moreso its execution. I thought we'd have a good episode on out hands but the episode itself doesn't know whether its a good one or a flimsy messy one.

NEXT WEEK: Doctor Who & the Goosebumps Mummy!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In Memorium: R.I.P. Maggie Stables

It is with a heavy heart to report this evening the passing of Maggie Stables. Stables, best known to many Big Finish listeners as the 6th Doctor companion Evelyn Smythe passed away this weekend after a long illness.

From the Big Finish page:

Maggie died peacefully in her sleep on the night of Friday the 26th of September after a long illness.

Big Finish Executive Producer Nick Briggs: 'I met Maggie many years ago when we worked together on a national theatre tour of Jane Eyre, in which Maggie superbly played the sinister role of Grace Poole. After that, Maggie was instrumental in getting me a job in the Theatre Royal Nottingham Thriller season, recommending me to the late producer, Colin McIntyre.

'I was keen to get her involved in the Big Finish audios, casting her as the gruff Ruthley in our very first Doctor Who release, The Sirens of Time. It wasn't long before my friend and producer Gary Russell spotted her and saw her as potential 'companion' material. Evelyn Smythe made Doctor Who history. The first, dare I say it, 'elderly' companion of the Doctor's. Maggie was superb in the role and she and her Doctor, Colin Baker, immediately hit it off. And even though Maggie appeared in two 'final' adventures for Evelyn, it was always our intention to continue working with her -- such is the advantage of time travel. I was very pleased to welcome her back for another trilogy in 2011.

'As a friend of Maggie's, I knew she had suffered and largely recovered from serious illness before that recording, but it was clear to me that she was still too poorly to continue with the rigours of studio work -- even though you would never have known from her great performance. Always the professional.

'Maggie was such a lovely, warm person who did a fantastic job of playing Evelyn. She was extremely popular with our listeners and always a delight to work with. I have many fond and sometimes raucous memories of working with her in Doctor Who and on stage. Unfortunately, my favourite Maggie anecdotes are far too naughty to repeat here. Suffice it to say, she had a very saucy laugh and a twinkle in her eye. Some of my warmest memories of her involve her sometimes shockingly blunt use of a put-down aimed at me... but it was always followed by that infectious laugh of hers.

'I shall always be grateful for the support and affection she gave to me and for all the laughs we shared along the way.'

Our thoughts are with Maggie's dear friends and family at this very sad time.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

They Care So We Won't Have To? or Groundskeeper Doctor: The Caretaker Review

The terrifying Skovox Blitzer is ready to destroy all humanity - but worse, and any second now, Danny Pink and the Doctor are going to meet.

When terrifying events threaten Coal Hill school, the Doctor decides to go undercover.

Episode six, episode six. This one sees Gareth Roberts return to write for the show since 2011's Closing Time. The Caretaker sees the romance of Clara and Danny blossom as the Doctor goes undercover at the very school that not only these two are employed but also a certain science and history teachers he once took along with him and his granddaughter eleven faces ago (Jinx, No Moffat talk!).  So, with that said, how does this one turn out.

The Good:
  • Danny finally meets the Doctor/ "Caretaker Smith", His reaction to the Doctor and Clara's technobabble leaves him lost for words
  • Much like the Lodger and Closing Time, The Caretaker does what it can to coordinate between the funny and the serious.
  • Courtney Woods! The rapport between her and 12th does seem like it echoes a certain umbrella man and the Pride of Perivale
  • The Skovar Blitzer design is very amusing (for a small robot....)
  • Dat jump Danny made!

"We know you miss 11th so we're giving you this guy instead. Please keep watching, Tumblr babies!!"

                                                                        -Steven Moffat*

The Bad:
  • As mentioned in last weekend's Time Heist review it's getting tiresome seeing Clara getting dropped off and picked up over and over. 
  • River Song namechecked..... excuse me... *runs to the bathroom to vomit*
  • More of the Doctor's sudden prejudice towards soldiers.....ENOUGH!!!
  • The 11th Doctor pastiche in Adrian (one of the Coal Hill faculty). You can stop apologizing to the Tumbler babies, Moffat. Rassilon knows you've remained unapoligetic about botching up the 50th and the regeneration limit so why stop now?
  • Dat jump.....The robot's small enough as it without performing the stunt. It was awful as it is amusing

It's All In The Watch: A new gadget and one that makes our dear Doctor invisible. One can't help think the Doctor should've thought of that during the Master as PM situation but what the hell. On the bright side, you might see some cosplayers donning 12s caretaker attire in future.

Verdict: The Caretaker seems more at home with the 11th Doctor era just like Robot of Sherwood. But it does push in the right direction in some spots. Another night, Another slightly above average episode. To the Moon, Alice Doctor!

6.5 Jelly Babies over 10

*Not really a Moffat quote but still

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Break the Bank: Time Heist Review

What's this?! An episode I actually enjoyed?! Have I really gotten soft or it this my off Saturday? This 5th episode (and 3rd entry from Steve Thompson) sees the Doctor, Clara and two other figures at the Bank of Karabraxos to rob from it. Unknown to them during this sceme is they come across a vain and devious bank employee and the mindwiping Teller. So how does this little diddy fare on the Continuity Zone's ratings system?


  • The production design of the bank is the stuff of wonder.
  • We finally get 12th coming into full circle as he took charge of the situation at even understood the sorrow of the Teller
  • Keeley Hawes and Pippa Bennett-Warner...nuff said
  • A plot that wasn't a big cruk you to the audience for once (despite Moffat credited as co-writer)
  • I will admit, I did squee at the legendary Dalek Killer Absolom Daak image. Ah, Absolom Daak....That's one blog post for another day/week/month/year.


  • The episode feels no more as rushed as Chibnall's Power of Three episode from two years before. Particularly the ending.
  • In theory, the Teller design looks cool but when brought to life on screen it's like staring at the female reproductive system. Knowing this now, I can't unsee it nor can I stop laughing!
  • Pity Sabra and Psy couldn't stay beyond this episode. I'd welcome a 4 TARDIS combo over the current tained (and inevitable) 12/Clara/Danny line-up that may come off as 11th/Amy/Rory revisited sans a certain Stetson shooting harpy and the Silence.

Fashion Police:

  • Must start saving up on getting similar shirts akin to the nes Peter Capaldi's worn in the episodes up to now for my own cosplay. The way Capaldi had most of hisd coat buttoned does remind me of How Hartnell's coat was buttoned early on in the early portions of An Unearthly Child and The Daleks.

It's a good check or a fraud?: Time Heist its an straightforward tale that may noy sit well for those aiming for continuity vandalisim like last week's shock value-fest. For once it's a Steve Thompson penned one that didn't have me making facepalms like Curse of the Black Spot and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.

7 Jelly Babys out of 10

Next: School (Un)Reunion: The Gareth Roberts Boogaloo

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mary Poppins, You Are Not!!!: Listen Review

When ghosts of past and future crowd into their lives, the Doctor and Clara are thrown into an adventure that takes them to the very end of the universe.

What happens when the Doctor is alone? And what scares the grand old man of Time and Space? Listen!

Now we enter episode four of the series...and its another solo effort from tiring showrunner Steven Moffat. He promised the fairy tale periuod of his tenure's over and we'd get darker stories. If Deep Breath was onany indication, his promises are as hollow as him film flopping on which number incarnation Peter Capaldi is having tortured the regeneration limit 12 ways from Sunday to where it's a complete joke. This episode's apparently no different from Time of the Doctor and Deep Breath plus moreso The Beast Below. Listen kicks off with the Doctor...Oh, what the hell, since Clara's more imporantant than him I'll rephrease it like this: The episode kicks off with Clara and Danny at dinner, she leaves early and joins the Doctor in a unlocking a mystery of an unseen foe that grabs children's feet from under the bed. Let's get to the nitty gritty, shall we?

Mary Poppins you are NOT, Clara!!

The Good:

  • The fact that the episode isn't CGI heavy is a plus and a welcomed change from the bog standard lightshows of Day and Time.
  • the "Rupert"/Orson segments of the tale were  real your deforce for Samuel Anderson and Remi Gooding.
  • Capaldi once again rising above subpar materialand dat holey Paul Smith sweater! (must emulate it for Halloween costume STAT!)

What part of "Push off! don't you understand, you abomination?!

The Bad:

  • Moffat can't help himself to rewritting the show's canon, can he? As if subplanting Clara into most of the Doctor incarnations while dealing with the Great Inteligence wasn't enough, we're forced into seeing Clara being the Doctor's saviour once again when she pops up into his family home and asedropping on an argument between his parents.... UGH! What I'd give for Lawrence Miles to do a hatched job on this and the Looms to be acknowledged alot (YES, I prefer the Looms! Sue me!)
  • The whole thing was the Beat Below all over again only made woest by foisting Clara's imoprtance over the Doctor's. This second half of it really gave the episode more strile against it than good points
  • Don't even get me started on the footage of the Plot Device (aka John Hurt). I nearly put my fist through my screen in rage.

Don't ever call me "Rupert"!

Bottom Line. Listen is a certified marmite story that serves as the show's cry for fresh blood and showunners who aren't pretentous and take pride and taking the mick out of canon and fandom at every turn. If you love your cashcow, BBC, you'll get rid of the stale garbage and bring in new blood. Disagree if you wish, but Capaldi deserves better matrial than this rubbish.

2 Jelly Babies out of 10

NEXT TIME: A bank robbin' we will go (and four amusing Easter Eggs)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

'Bots In Tights: Robot of Sherwood Review

As you all know, there have been two vital scenes cut due to the IS beheadings of two Journalists. Having seen the leaked episode (cheating, I know), this review will be based on the leaked and the televised versions

So, we now onto Episode three of the 2014 Season and it's one that's as by the numbers romp as it gets. One should come to expect this from Mark Gatiss. There's been a few scripts from Gatiss that haven't reached the heights of his 2005 entry The Unquiet Dead. Some came close (Cold War, The Crimson Horror, other floundered (The Idiot Lantern, Night Thoughts) and one came out like a Toy commercial (Victory of the Daleks). This little number is about the Doctor taking Clara to see Robin Hood at her request but all isn't what it seems. Yes, I know what you're saying "but Robin Hood's not real". It is rather weird of her to meet a man who's no more fictional than Noddy (let's not go there!). So how does this one turn out?

The Good:

  • Clara's medieval dress
  • 12th and Robin's sword-spoon fight
  • The bow contest made for a wee giggle considering the bows the Doctor fired ad exploded aren't made of wood
  • A lovely Patrick Troughton easter egg when we learn how the Prince of Thieves came to be; Troughton played the character in 1953
  • The rapport between Clara and the Sherrif

The Bad:

  • The dungeon bickering which does make you realize that this could've been an 10th or 11th Doctor episode
  • The fact that Clara wanted to meet a fictional character does make me wonder if Gatiss should've had the episode set in the Land of Fiction.
  • A Spaceship in medieval times....We've done that before, havent we? (i.e. The Time Warrior)

Bottom Line: Robot of Sherwood is a fluffy average romp but like the other Gatiss penned episodes diring the 2006-2011 period, it's not really nothing to write home about. Yes, it does bring out the comedic side of Capaldi and company but it all does feel like a leftover script for his predecessors. I'd say next week's show will be better, but I've been wrong before....

5.5 Jelly Babies out of 10

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anatomy Lesson: Into the Dalek Review

"This is Clara, not my assistant…She's...some other word...." 
"I'm his carer"
"Yeah, my carer. She cares so I don't have to."

Another Saturday, another new episode. Though this is no ordinary episode as it involves the Daleks. Since 2005 we've had TV Dalek stories that varied from sublime (Dalek,) to limp (Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks) to simply a 45 minute toy commercial (Victory of the Daleks), to twistsing about (Asylum of the Daleks). Here comes the Phil Ford effort, Into the Dalek. Ford, a fan darling with the co-penned and widly praised Waters of Mars five years before, takes another spin in the TARDIS with a tale that not only give Skaro's pepperpotted monsters their bite back but also asks the same question as the Doctor: Is he a good man? Let's get down to business, eh?

The Good:

  • Journey Blue, Journey Blue! She's has the shades of a potential companion in every way. 
  • 12th facing down his Dalek patient leading to his surprised reaction to it saying all Daleks must die
  • The introduction of Danny Pink. With an older Doctor about, Clara's now given a love interest; one with a conflicting past he's hesitant to talk about. 
  • "No, You are a good Dalek". A wee callback to the lone Eccleston season's Dalek
  • Dat chalkboard!
  • The music's tone down! Who are you and what have you done with the real Murray Gold?
  • The production design of the inside the Dalek is utterly sublime
  • We finally get more of 12's personality which gives us the cold, distant nature not seen since the 1st Doctor's characterization in the unaired pilot version of An Unearthly Child. "He was dead already " response to Russ' demise by the Dalek spores does harken back to 7th during the New Adventures days as he back then saw many a death at his own door step especially in the grand scheme of his own machinations much to the chagrin of Ace and a host of others.
  • Finally after four year dryspell, we got the Daleks exterminating again on screen

The Bad:

  • The Coal Hill student's contunation of asking Pink whether he killed as soldier. Change the record, squirt!
  • Gretchen's save via Missy. It's not going to be an all season thing is it? I'm getting shades of Kovarian to some exent and I wasn't exactly taken in with her the three years before.
  • Journey's request to come with the Doctor being denied. One can hope for another Liv Chenka like situation that paves for her coming back in future, who knows?

Bottom Line: Into the Dalek earns it stripes as the finest post 2005 televised Dalek story in the revival's eight year run. Giving an freshing tale of morality and the heavy nature of evil that answers its question but draw more questions to come out the woodwork. Onward, Robots of Sherwood!

8 jelly babies out of 10

Friday, August 29, 2014

Boozy Coda: Bernice Summerfield - The Plague Heards of Excelis Review

After the first three successful Excelis tales, Big Finish closed the Excelis series with a coda set just after The Green-Eyed Monsters. The story sees Benny leave the Collection in Brax's living shuttle heading towards the dying world of Artaris, where she meets a “Trans-temporal Adventuress” by the name of Iris Wildthyme…

Stephen Cole's script seems designed to prevent those who have not been following Bernice's continuing adventures from becoming alienated by elements of the ongoing story, and it explains Benny’s slightly tetchy attitude throughout the story well. The way in which this story is tied into the rest of the trilogy is very intriguing indeed, showing that events have been in motion for much longer than anyone expected and there was more to Excelis than just the rise and fall of Warlord Grayvorn. Cole develops his own ideas well with those behind the animal undead being particularly sound, although given their unspeaking nature it does require some overt explanatory dialogue, but given a similar situation from the fifth Doctor tale The Land Of The Dead, it's kept firmly in the background.

Lisa Bowerman has been playing Benny for a long time now, and this shows through her assured performance, which is fantastic. As with her (then) sole performance to date in the Doctor Who main range, The Shadow Of The Scourge, Bowerman demonstrates that she is a perfect choice for Benny. Katy Manning's performance as Iris is also superb - some of the time, Iris comes across a little more sinister than she usually does (a wee bit seventh Doctor-esque), but perhaps this is the result of having Cole writing her instead of her creator Paul Magrs, but it's appropriate for this story that has a harder edge to it than Magrs' stories have tended to have in the past. Trevor Littledale is the most impressive though, immediately creating an impression as the prophet Snyper who seems to know much more about the events occurring than he's letting on. Kate Brown also excels as the Empress Vitutia, and although Stewart Alexander's Aaragon is somewhat unmemorable at first, he does grow in stature throughout the story.

The music and sound design by David Darlington works wonders here just like with the other Excelis stories beginning with a score that reflects the fact that Excelis has returned to a state of barbarism rather than advancement. While Excelis Decays ended the Doctor Who part of the series with a bang, The Plague Herds of Excelis ends it by tying up loose ends - especially Iris' - and adding something tangible enough for it to be considered as important overall to the series.

Highly Recommended.

Shhh! You'll Wake the Baby!: Bernice Summerfield - The Green Eyed Monsters Review

After the surreal season three opener The Greatest Shop in the Galaxy, this release written by Dave Stone finally deals with the issue of Benny's newborn child, The Green-Eyed Monsters embracing this thread with both hands, making this the first audio to do so since Peter was born in The Glass Prison, several months earlier. This also marks the final use of the Adventure Is My Game theme. Yay!

The title alone is very apposite for the story that Stone has chosen to tell, representing not only the legends that Benny goes to investigate in the Goronos system, but also the jealousy that epitomises the relationship between the two men in Bernice's life - ex-husband Jason Kane and father of her child the Killoran construction worker Adrian Wall. This subplot really shines with both Jason and Adrian being portrayed successfully; I particularly enjoyed the development of their uneasy alliance as they find themselves holding baby Peter. It is excellently written, making the respect that both come to have for each other seem very real, particularly when it culminates in Adrian admitting something very personal about his feelings towards Benny. However, the Goronos system thread of the plot comes off as lightweight at times, but it's forgivable.

Lisa Bowerman is excellent as ever, showing how Benny copes with being a mother and actually interacting with her half-Killoran, half-Human son. Stephen Fewell's returns as Jason after a with only a few vague references to the novels Twilight Of The Gods (the final Virgin novel released in autumn 1999) and The Infernal Nexus to explain his absence. The love / hate relationship between Benny and Jason has mellowed a little by now, although Fewell makes sure Jason sounds as devious as ever. Fewell's Jason Kane strikes up a good banter with Harry Myers' Adrian Wall which gives their scenes credence as they see each other as rivals for Benny's affections. Lady Ashantra du Lac voiced by Maria Darling is the character that it sounds like Stone had the most fun writing and Darling's performance is a lot of fun; her evil scheme is very ridiculous yet has the faintest sense of plausibility to be workable and Stone uses her as a way to play against convention in how she acts towards Bernice. Steven Wickham gets some good lines as Joseph the Porter, particularly during the opening scene despite being sidelined throughout the story. The sound design and music by David Darlington isn't too shabby either.

The Verdict? The Green Eyed Monsters is an unusual and fun-filled release. Some may be disappointed by this and find it insubstantial, but I think that the richness of the characters and dialogue presented here more than make up for any inadequacies of the story.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reviewer's Cut: The Day of the Doctor

Day of the Dogs Dinner

Ten months on.... 

Ten months on since the so-called 50th Anniversary still haunts and irks my soul to no end of how poorly handled it was by a showrunner I used to praise out the fact that he was thinking less like a Hollywood marketing exective and more like a fan. But even before April of 2013 looks and words can be decieving. Prior to the late March early April news, I like many were excited about the 50th and what we were hoping for t have all the surviving Doctors interact with the New Who ones taking on a greater evil. Alas, it didn't turn out to be the case......

Matt: Why can't we have the other living Doctors?
David: Quiet, you!

Around the start of April we learned of David Tennant and Billie Piper's return plus the inclusion of John Hurt in tow. At first, I was thinking it may have been an April's Fool joke to leave out Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. But as the summer came and Steven Moffat's statement about not making it a fan-fest made me wonder what on Earth's going on? Then came the Hurt reveal (though the leaked DVD release of Series 7B gave it away in advance shortly before Name of the Doctor's airdate). Until the reveal, I was fully convinced he was playing a Gideon Crane like character who somewho wound up believing and acting like the Doctor ala Nick Briggs' character of the same name from the 2001 8th Doctor audio Minuet in Hell (I actually would've welcomed that; seriously). Instead the reveal was that he was a incarnation between 8th (McGann) and 9th (Christopher Eccleston). WHY?

Not  the Doctor nor the Warrior... Just the Band-Aid

That was my exact response. Why was there a need for an inbetween Doctor for the Last Great Time War? For the last several years it was believed by fandom that the 8th Doctor fought in it and was the one who ended it wiping both Dalek and Time Lord alike. Even various spin-off media managed to either hint at it or showed the road to it. In 2008, IDW's The Forgotten showcased a scene with 8th that took place during the Time War and the following year Mary's Story from Big Finish's The Company of Friends showcased a wartorn disgruntled 8th (and his younger pre-Charley self). Armageddon 2010 in New Zealand, Paul McGann inveiled his new 8th Doctor outfit (which had mixed reviews but grew positive overtime) which became finalized by the BBC to be 8th's look for Big Finish's widly successful Dark Eyes (and its following sequals) which had more hints of the Time War and 8th increased discontent for the Daleks in the wake of the deaths of his companions Lucie Miller, Tamsin Drew, and his great-grandson Alex Campbell; Susan and David's only child. Then came the Night of the Doctor mini-sode where everyone punched the air to see Paul McGann return (and in new digs)....only to see him rebuke the War rather than fight the very creatures that took away said companions and great-grandchild as well as give up his incarnation by drinking a "Warrior" elixor from the Sisterhood of Karn to become a "War Doctor". In one interview Moffat said he didn't believe 8th to be the Time War Doctor because he "didn't fit the idea" and would never commit genocide. If it's so hard to imagine McGann fighting in the war, wouldn't it also be hard to imagine Hurt attempting to save Davros from the Nightmare Child (as 10th mentioned in The Stolen Earth)?

The true War Doctor; No. 8

This is where I call bull. If 8th wasn't the type then why were there hints from Big Finish prior to the 50th? Why did Tony Lee show 8th in the War if he didn't want to fight in it and why were most of fandom convinced of his involvement for so long? Moffat's logic doesn't compute with 8th characterization in Dark Eyes and Dark Eyes 2. It spits in the face of not only the said references but a huge spit in the face to Big Finish and more importantly McGann. It makes the changes 8th worthless and rendering the deaths of Lucie, Tamsin, and Alex pointless as if they were killed off for nothing. In the BBC Books, 8th  had to blow up Gallifrey to thwart Faction Paradox. He didn't need to go to the Sisters (who somehow gained regeneration when they want nothing to do with all things Rassilon) to change to regenerate into a warrior to defeat the Grandfather Patadox. Even if Eccleston was unavailable (due both to filming Thor: The Dark World and Moffat unable to get Joe Aherne to direct instead of Nick Hurran) to be War/9, Moffat could've still kicked the War role to McGann as it gels in tune with his current characterization in the recent audios. 8th shouldn't have to not to be a deserter just so he could maintain the perception of a children's hero; its doesn't make a dog lick of sense. As great an actor John Hurt is, I just don't see a need for an hidden incarnation.  Especially one who was promoted as Warrior in vain of Kalendorf from Dalek Empire when what we actually was a retread of Peter Cushing's cinematic (and .100% Human) "Dr. Who". That was what came out in the final product: In my early immediate review of Day, I stated that Hurt was the New Who generations's Richard Hurndall but it appears more than just that the more I think about it. He wasn't a warrior at all; just a cuddly, depressed old man who really didn't break the "promise" 11th told Clara. Further, when he had the dilemma of killing everyone to end the war, I honestly felt nothing, because I didn't know who this person was. Moffat sure enjoys making a huge deal about things only for the payoff to come flat like a soda (i.e. River Song and later Time of the Doctor). Adding insult to injury is the repercussions of the insert (and counting Meta-Crisis 10th) which was part of Moffat's plan to solve the regeneration limit just so he could be hailed a hero to fandom at large so the next showrunner who comes after him won't. Instead of solving it, it bollixed it up in story and in merchandising. It also makes the whole 11th's the 13th and final incarnation relevations flat and pointless when we know of Peter Capaldi named as 12th plus makes for a sloppy Christmas Special story to resolve (or lack there of) all loose end only to tangle them up in knots. Hurt served his purpose as the band-aid. There's no need for more appearances on screen nor in all of the spin-off material regardless of a recent lone novel.

Are you sure this is Doctor Who and not Star Wars, son?

Another thing that bugs me about Day was how the children of Gallifrey through the eyes and words of Clara were used as emotion fodder to the audience to sell them on why what the Doctor did was wrong; why he has to be the Man Who Wouldn't. With the said first destruction, the children never factored into it since the planet wound up in the corner of the 8th Doctor's mind, so they turned out safe along with the rest of the Time Lords. It became clear with the music, the kids became fodder for emotional manipulation in ways I just couldn't bring myself to showing this special to my girlfriend's children. "The Man Who Wouldn't".... this dreck began with the 10th Doctor era as part of how the Doctor should be presented yet ignoring the many thing he had to do sometimes like blowing up Skaro, shooting an Ogron or manipulate his companions on an occasion (i.e. 2nd in Evil of the Daleks) or more (i.e. 7th). Heroes do make tough choices sometime; that's what Moffat and before him RTD forgot outright. Even the choices they don't like and the results of the choices. By snatching away the tough decisions and consequences, what good is a hero and his story if he just avoids them and rewrite history just because it's fashionable? Even moreso is actually showing the Time War itself when we all know it wouldn't done justice either on screen or in print. The War was presented by Moffat as a run-of-the-mill Star Wars shoot out rather than the endless batch of "what ifs" we'd been accustomed to. It really didn't need to be seen whatsoever. I'll give props for changing the outcome but not the manipulation that lead to it. Even the Moment's appearance as Rose fanned the flames of the 8th Anneversery charges against the special and are well justified. It wouldn't hurt Moffat to have the moment appear in the form of Susan or Romana to silence the critics but chose not to out of disrespect to the 42 out of the program's 50 year history.

Liz would NEVER!!
                                       -  the poster of ONTD

Then there's the early segments of the special with the Zygons and Queen Elizabeth I. Many a female and LGBT viewer were feuming mad at Moffat for the potrayal of the Virgin Queen as just another stock female character who falls for the Doctor. What makes it more cringeworthy is that Moffat chose to adapt the infamous line about her from The End of Time. The posts on Oh No They Didn't! Live Journal really showed discontent for Moffat's blatent sexism that shows up in his writing...and frankly, I now understand and see it. Until 2013 I overlooked the sexism because, I was still content with stories that didn't feel like written by commitee via Hollywood exectuives to reach the lowest common denominator. But even with having a new showrunner who wasn't about character over plot came at a price and the sexism is that price. Not even a special guest appearance from Tom Baker and a cameo from the now incumbent Doctor Capaldi isn't enough to mask what's wrong with it.

Will he hold out, folks? CAN HE HOLD OUT?!

Now like Nostalgia Critic regarding Man of Steel, I understand what some folks loved about this special but I just don't love nor like it in any compacity. I meant what I said in my earlier review that Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman deserve better as did and does McGann, McCoy, C. Baker, Davison and fans old and new. If this speacial was what we'd look forward to since 2005 then I think Lorainne Heggessey shouldn't have bothered reviving this show and I say this as young man who first watch Who via SyFy when they had the rights to show it prior to BBCAmerica taking the lead. So there you have it the full no holds bar Reviewer's cut of Day of the Doctor. I know it won't change minds (you know who you are) but at least take everything type into deep thinking and consideration.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's Midnight! - The Deep Breath Review

Now after 10 months of waiting (and for yours truly four month of waiting, schooling and working) we finally get to usher in Peter Capaldi's reign as the 12th Doctor. We kick off the new era with the premiere episode Deep Breath. The episode begins in Victorian London where we find its citizens and the overused Paternoster Gang (Strax, Vashtra and Jenny Flint) witness a T-Rex wandering about only to spit out a certain blue box launged in its throat. The trio went to the TARDIS only to run into a silver haired man with a chilling glare instead of a fresh faced young man and Clara still in shock about the regeneration she witness. However, things take a turn when the newly regenerated Doctor investigates who brought the Dinosaur in to the time perior and why they killed it. So how does this new Doctor debut fair compared to the previous?

The Good:

  • Peter Capaldi- Right from him popping his head through the TARDIS doors is fantastic. Like the first three before him you know he's not human but still passionate when injustice is caused. Plus his costume is sublime and I can expect many a cosplay (and the risks of buying 800 pound Crombie coat
  • The new titles based on the fanmade YouTube video that caught the BBC's eye
  • Strax throwing the newspaper at Clara's head. Gif, anyone?
  • Cyan, no more! After seven years,  they've finally chose a different color for the console core.
  • The showdown between 12th and the Clockwork Robot
  • The new theme music
  • Clara being assured via phone by 11th (cameo by Matt Smith) that he's still the same man; only he's not the hugging type. Jenna Coleman really acted her butt off here to where the scene feels stronger than Rose coming to terms with 10th back in the Christmasn Invasion
  • The Nethersphere arc does seem to be the main arc for the season plus the mystery of its Gatekeeper Missy (Michelle Gomez)

The Bad:

  • Clara's struggling with coming to terms with the regenerations and missing 11th; the most glaring plot hole ever have seen the last ten faces prior to him (ignoring the two unnecessaries who shant be named). It was like Moffat made her a soundbite of the multiple Tumblrs who express their ageism toward our new Doctor for not being younger.
  • The worn out welcome of the Paternoster Gang. The novelty pretty much started to wear thin beginning with The Crimson Horror and still does here. Plus the fight scene was naff to where it really should've been trimmed down considerably. Try as he might with them, Steven Moffat will never get the trio a spin-off
  • No middle 8 in the theme until the next live performance at Proms (again!)
  • The T-Rex now predating the events of Invasion of the Dinosaurs
  • The following words "boyfriend" and "husband" should be banned.
  • "Clara the egomaniac" running gag mid-way

Bottom Line: Deep Breath on its own stands up with a now darker Doctor and beginning a new arc that's not rewriting time and and having our hero chase his own tail throughout his entire existence in the process. However, it suffers from extra screentime for the Paternoster Gang to where it feels more like a backdoor pilot to a spin-off rather than a new Doctor debut story with the leads as the guest star. Maybe this will be the last time we have the trio turn up again. Then again, this is Steven Moffat.

6/10 Jelly Babies

DISCLAIMER: No dinosaur was harmed during the making of this episode

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Shoe-Shopping Mayhem!: Bernice Sumerfield - The Greatest Shop In The Galaxy Review

After the successful (yet confusing) second season and the release of Jacqueline Rayner's novel The Glass Prison, a third season of the Bernice Summerfield series began in early 2002. Starting this season off was Paul Ebbs' surreal tale, The Greatest Shop in the Galaxy (the story's title being a clear nod to the 1988 Doctor Who serial, The Greatest
Show in the Galaxy).
In my view The Greatest Shop in the Galaxy may qualify as the most bizarre release in the range to date. The premise is rather simple - Benny travels to the planet Baladroon, where, ostensibly, she’s going to exhume its famed Latrines – but the planet is home to the Gigamarket, the so called greatest shop in the galaxy, and she’s more interested in how many shoes she can buy with Adrian Wall’s swiped credit chip.
Ebbs seems determined to delight in throwing in as many concepts as possible to create a bizarre, off-the-wall story in vein of some of Dave Stone's works. However, it is this imbalance in the story which results in there being a broadly comedic first twenty minutes before an extremely sudden shift into drama which really disrupts the flow of the story. Further, this release didn't deal with the implications of what happened to Benny in her last appearance prior to this adventure, in The Glass Prison, where she gave birth to her half-Killoran/half-human son, Peter. Luckily for us though, the next release would pick up the loose ends and deal with the implications.
Lisa Bowerman brightens the story up with a lively performance. Benny’s unexplored fetish for shoes borders on the obsessional, but Bowerman makes it believable through her convincing and confident display. David Benson's Gigamarket Executive Keelor really shines as the character proceeds to show Benny around on her arrival and provides an interesting outlet for the humour, yet also demonstrates a more vulnerable side when strange things begin happening. Big Finish mainstay Toby Longworth also brings a villainous angle to the role and certainly makes the most of Joggon’s unusual tendencies! What’s more, Steven Wickham makes his very first appearance as Benny’s porter, Joseph (who later appeared in the 2003 Doctor Who story The Dark Flame). It’s not an auspicious debut into Benny’s audio world for a character whose roots go right back to the novel of Oh No It Isn’t! as the time anomalies ensure that he's malfunctioning throughout the story, giving Wickham little to do except make silly noises. A downright shame, really.
On the whole, The Greatest Shop In The Galaxy is a bizarre and muddled story, which only occasionally shows flashes of inspiration. Nevertheless, it stands as something unique as there isn’t anything quite like it, but whether or not this is a good thing rather depends on the listener’s own sensibility to the strangeness of Ebbs’ world. If you prefer the bizarre and the muddled, then The Greatest Shop in the Galaxy is right up your alley.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winged Wonders: Bernice Summerfield - The Skymines of Karthos Review

Season 2 of the Bernice Summerfield series ends the same way that it started with another story from writer David Bailey. Thankfully though, The Skymines of Karthos is an altogether more rousing affair than his earlier effort.

Much like The Stone's Lament before it, this story takes place between the two Benny novels The Infernal Nexus by Dave Stone and The Glass Prison by Jacqueline Rayner. This means that it is the only audio adventure to deal with Benny’s pregnancy (at least in that the baby starts to kick!)

The Skymines of Karthos begins with Benny receiving a message from an old friend named Caitlin Peters concerning evidence of a ruined civilisation on the mining colony of Karthos. By the time that she arrives on Karthos, Caitlin is missing and the colony is under attack from vicious creatures that came from nowhere. It is a mystery that Benny cannot resist, especially with her friend's life on the line. Bailey's script is fast paced, leaving little time for padding, and develops well by ensuring that the hints as to what is really happening on Karthos build up at just the right moments despite it being straightforward at times.

Lisa Bowerman's performance as Benny is again one of the highlights of the audio. This time around she gets to demonstrate a more conflicted approach to the part with her need to find Caitlin battling against the pressures her condition puts her in which is effectively well-handled. Jimmy Wilson's Michael Peters is believable in the portrayal of a troubled relationship with Rebecca Jackson's Caitlin, and the revelation as to why Caitlin went missing is poignantly played. Johnson Willis brings a touch of mystery to the cast with his aloof Doctor Konstantin, who just doesn't seem to care about Caitlin's disappearance.

David Darlington creates the post-production and music, and on both counts he succeeds in creating a rich accompaniment to the drama; a big improvement on his last effort. Even the sound design is praiseworthy as Karthos comes across as a very bleak, very alien world, and the atmosphere accentuates the qualities Bailey's that script was trying to show.

The Verdict? The Skymines Of Karthos is a significant improvement on Bailey's first Benny audio as the drama is played out more vividly and convincingly, although it is let down slightly by a hurried ending. Bring on Season 3!

Mistaken Identity: Bernice Summerfield - The Extinction Event Review

The third release in Big Finish's second season of Bernice Summerfield audios is The Extinction Event by Lance Parkin, whose novel Just War provided the foundation for the most satisfying of the adaptations that were a part of the first season.

Parkin's story sends Bernice off to an auction (called ‘the Extinction Event’ as all the lots are from destroyed civilisations) in pursuit of the only remaining artefact from the planet Halstad. Also with her is her employer (and Time Lord), Irving Braxiatel, but what should prove to be a simple auction soon turns out to be dangerous as it becomes clear that there is a killer at large.

An interesting aspect of The Extinction Event is how the villains are motivated. Whilst Hulver acts only out of a desire for revenge against those who destroyed his world, he is not the only person to fall into the villainous category for this audio. The theme of destroyed home worlds allows Parkin to make some mischievous allusions to Brax's own heritage (he's referred to as "Lord Cardinal Braxiatel" early in the story) and the (then) current direction of BBC Books’ eighth Doctor adventures under the editorial reign of Brax's
creator, Justin Richards.

Lisa Bowerman benefits from Parkin's script, which allows her to demonstrate well the range of emotions that Benny goes through in this story. For the second time in the season, Bowerman gets to double up by lending her voice to another character too. Miles Richardson's brings the infamous Irving Braxiatel to life, lending a real sense of gravitas, yet at the same time imbuing Braxiatel with a degree of mystique that gives him a slightly sinister edge. Daniel Brennan gets the main action as Hulver, and he delivers a sensitive and considerate performance as the sole survivor of Halstad and Alexis Khan is superb as the slightly obsequious yet darkly motivated Auctioneer Davon. Last but not least, Mark Donovan completes the cast as the Ambassador. Though limited, the character is written in a very humorous way and Donovan shows great expletive timing.

The incidental music by Toby Richards and Emily Baker is very good too; it reflects the pace of the adventure well. The sound design is generally good also, but does have the tendency to sound a bit too theatrical at times.

In all, The Extinction Event is a thoughtful and entertaining drama, alebit somewhat straight-forward. Nevertheless, it's generally considered to be one of the best original Benny audios to date and I certainly wouldn't argue with such sentiments.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Of House And Kiloran: Bernice Summerfield - The Stone's Lament Review

After an average start to the season, Mike Tucker's tale The Stone's Lament brings Professor Bernice Summerfield to the planet Rhinvil, where reclusive billionaire Bratheen Traloor has invited her to examine a recently discovered artefact along with Killoran construction worker Adrian Wall (who first appeared in The Doomsday Manuscript).

Here's where things get confusing regarding this season. For those that never read Jacqueline Rayner's novel The Squire's Crystal, Benny's mind and body were taken over by an alien sorceress named Avril Fenmen and she (Avril, not Benny) slept with Adrian, who mentions this event in this story. If you aren’t familiar with The Squire's Crystal, you could easily get lost (The tie-ins novels, novellas and short story collections will be covered in a future date)

Lisa Bowerman's performance as Bernice is excellent here; she gets the balance between Benny's more sarcastic and determined sides perfectly but also shows how uneasy Benny is around Adrian, with there being a definite undercurrent to their scenes that plays off the events that have transpired between the characters previously. Bowerman also voices the renegade computer. James Lailey is very convincing too as the eccentric Traloor, with his voice possessing a refined quality that you'd expect from a reclusive, depressed billionaire who'd fall in love with, of all things, the house. Now that's what I call a bizarre love triangle!

Harry Myers does well as Adrian Wall in the character's first audio appearance, his rough and aggressive voice being ideal for the character, although it's still difficult to imagine him as a "seven foot tall cross between an ape and an upright wolf with fangs, snout and claws" due to the fact he still sounds slightly human. It's noteworthy that this character's race would appear again a few years after this release in two sixth Doctor audio plays, Arrangements for War and Thicker Than Water.

As it is, The Stone's Lament is very enjoyable thanks to the combination of the good performances and the focused plot. However, despite the nature of the surprise ending, this is a story that could have benefited from having a little more to it, such as additional subplots and perhaps even an extra character or two. Furthermore, you might have to get hold of a copy of The Doomsday Manuscript and The Squire's Crystal especially to be able to follow what went down prior to this story!

We'll Need a Bigger Boat: Bernice Summerfield - The Secret of Cassandra Review

After the success of the first season, Big Finish Productions decided to develop some ongoing character arcs that had alternated between their audio plays and original novels. Three months before this release, Big Finish had begun publishing original Bernice Summerfield novels and short story collections, beginning with The Dead Men Diaries anthology and The Doomsday Manuscript. Unfortunately, the rights to some elements of the New Adventures' universe (i.e. Emile, Clarence, Dellah, etc) were not obtained, but that did not stop Big Finish from developing a new background and character ensemble which they introduced in The Dead Men Diaries and developed over the initial run of paperbacks.

David Bailey's Secret of Cassandra begins with Benny's plans for a restful vacation being upset by a minor planetary war, her yacht being shot down and leaving her shipwrecked. She's rescued by a passing ship called The Cassandra, but the paying passenger doesn't like having a stranger in the middle of her mission. The captain of the ship treats Benny like a spy which leads her to actually do some snooping around the ship, however she doesn't know who to trust, and she can no longer be sure if anyone is who they claim to be...

Lisa Bowerman is on top form as Bernice throughout the story, happily insulting the General and chatting with the computer, and other times a little slow on the uptake. Lennox Greaves' Captain Colley initially appears strangely ambivalent to the implications of his actions. His daughter, a researcher, was killed in a Calabraxian attack upon the Pevenan scientific research station (prompting him to name his ship after her), following which his wife faded away emotionally and eventually physically, leaving him bitter and tired of warfare and loss; the exact opposite of Sally Faulkner's General Brennan. Helen Goldwyn voices the ship's computer, and while it's rather a redundant role she performs it adequately, matching her voice to Greaves' northern tones very well whilst still giving it a flat, emotionless quality that is of course appropriate for a machine. Robert Curbishley's Sheen also delivers some much needed dramatic impact during the climax to the story.

Toby Richards and Emily Baker's post production work and incidental music is generally good, yet the infamous Adventure is My Game theme is used here and would remain until the next season (including both acoustic closing and instrumental versions).

As Big Finish’s first full-length original Benny story, The Secret of Cassandra is a very good way to start off the second season of audio adventures. The next release might have you confused, though…

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

All Roar and No Fire: Bernice Summerfield - Dragon's Wrath Review

The first season of Bernice Summerfield concludes with an adaptation of the second Benny-led New Adventures novel, Dragons' Wrath by Justin Richards. Dragons’ Wrath is a fairly typical story for Benny as it involves her being drawn involuntarily into a web of intrigue surrounding a particular artefact known as the Gamelian Dragon.

With the villain of this story, Nusek, being a power-hungry individual out to consolidate his influence throughout the galaxy, this story is somewhat the archetype for many of the stories that followed its original publication until 1999 and to be honest that’s the main problem with this play - it feels a little over-familiar as it has been done too many times since. However, this release sure has its highlights, especially for some of Benny's characteristics. Just look at her devotion to the preservation of the past, even at the cost of the point she’s trying to make.

My biggest gripe regarding this story is regarding the incidental music provided by Toby Richards and Emily Baker - the infamous Adventure Is My Game theme that would be heard for most of Season 2 and also in Season 3 (plus as an amusing easter egg in one of the recent box sets). Today, some die-hard Benny fans consider it as a mistake best forgotten as it completely sets the wrong tone for Benny’s adventures; especially this adventure. That said, it is funny to hear Benny singing in karaoke style!

Lisa Bowerman’s Bernice continues to delight the listeners, with her quick wit shining through well in her performance, most notably with Nigel Fairs (who plays Dr Nicholas Clyde), giving the scenes they're in together a believability and strength which helps to further the drama. Fairs is quite adept at highlighting Clyde’s suspicious nature of others, but convincing enough so that the listeners don’t become overly suspicious of him until later in the story. Guest star Richard Franklin (Mike Yates) also gives a good performance as Nusek, the actor helping to emphasise the character’s nature as a threat hidden behind mask of respectability. This makes him all the more menacing in the early parts of the story, and even when things go wrong, his anger isn't over the top; just a wee melodramatic.

In a nutshell, Dragons' Wrath isn't a bad story or a great one either. It’s not a brilliant way to end this first season, the adaptation not quite doing justice to the original story that it was based upon.