Monday, 29 September 2014
This week, the Doctor follows in the footsteps of Freddy Krueger, Hong Kong Phooey and Willie from the Simpsons as he adopts the identity of a ( not so ) mild-mannered janitor to investigate sinister goings-on at Coal Hill School. The Time Lord and Clara have to face the rampaging Skovox Blitzer and also a certain ex-soldier-turned-maths-teacher...
The story's nominal antagonist, the Skovox Blitzer, is relatively underused, being purely functional in terms of plot mechanics, but is still a bizarrely interesting visual. It has no personality to speak of, being just a robotic soldier, but its half-glimpsed, part-tank, part-spider look is quintessential, oddball Doctor Who.
The last scene reminds us of the arc-plot with another deceased character finding himself in the so-called "Promised Land", complete with cameos from Michelle Gomez and Chris Addison. It will be interesting to see how this plot resolves in the finale and how it ties up with the Cybermen. Anyway, I'll give this episode:
Four Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or janitor's brushes )
Soundtrack: Clouds Taste Metallic by the Flaming Lips
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
"Fear makes companions of us all..."
Listen is a strange episode of Doctor Who - for the most part low-key and creepy in a classic ghost story style, yet also encompassing the end of the universe and some Coupling-esque sitcom moments. Revolving around the all-too-familiar childhood fears of something unseen close behind or something lurking under the bed, this story is an effective attempt by Steven Moffatt to put the chills back into Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi is excellent as an obsessed, driven Doctor having some kind of minor mental breakdown, while Jenna Coleman also shines, whether suffering through an awkward first date or confronting an eerie apparition in a child's bedroom.Some people aren't happy about the story's final revelation but I think it's a bold move of Moffatt's to add to the show's mythology. Even after five decades we can learn new things about our favourite Time Lord.
4 Out Of 5 Sonic Screwdrivers ( or pieces of chalk )
Considering this episode was written by the usually-lacklustre Steve Thompson it's got a lot to recommend it: Capaldi channelling Malcolm Tucker, Jenna Coleman looking very cool in a suit, some chilling moments with the brain-blasting Teller and a well structured plot that rewards repeat viewings. Its biggest failings are no real sense that breaking into this bank is all that difficult, and a waste of the wonderful Keeley Hawes who surely should have had more scenes of verbal sparring with the Doctor.
3 1/2 Out Of 5 Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Memory Worms )
Soundtrack: Talking Heads '77 by Talking Heads
Friday, 19 September 2014
Update: I almost forgot this mighty Scot:
Monday, 15 September 2014
"Once there was a way to get back homeward / Once there was a way to get back home"
Monday, 8 September 2014
This week, the Doctor and Clara drop into Sherwood Forest in 1190 AD ( -ish ) to meet the legendary outlaw Robin Hood and aid him in his struggle against the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. Or, they would if Robin Hood were real. As the Doctor points out "Old-fashioned heroes only exist in old-fashioned storybooks, Clara". But who, then, is this dashing character in Lincoln green who laughs in the face of danger and protects the good people of Nottingham from the Sheriff's mysterious metal knights? Can he really be England's greatest hero? And what of the Doctor? How will he react when he becomes a part of somebody else's legend...?
So, what's good about this story then? It all looks great, with some fine sets, costumes and direction. Tom Riley steals the show as the larger-than-life, laughing-out-loud Robin Hood, charming Clara and hurling insults at that "bony rascal" the Doctor. The other "name" guest actor, Ben Miller, also has a great time playing the vain, egotistical Sheriff. The robots, while having no personality whatsoever
( unsurprising for robots, I suppose ), look suitably imposing and their crucifix-laser-beam stare is a cool effect. Gatiss' script, while nowhere near as witty or clever as it could have been, has some nice touches: a couple of quotes from Karl Marx (!), the odd call-back to the Pertwee era and some insightful thoughts on the importance of legends and heroes. Oh, and Jenna Coleman looks absolutely lovely in her faux-mediaeval gown:
Three Out of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or broken arrows )
Sunday, 7 September 2014
Gloucester Cathedral today. This was "Crucible 2", the belated follow-up to the original Crucible exhibition back in 2010, as seen in previous posts here and here. Again, the theme was mostly religious, with some works being quite twisted and disturbing...
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
After the traditional post-regeneration trauma of last week's episode, the Doctor now seems more stable... and can even fly the Tardis accurately. He proves this by saving the life, somewhere in deep space, of Journey Blue - a soldier fighting a last, desperate battle against overwhelming Dalek forces. On board Journey's space shuttle, the Aristotle, the Doctor discovers the rebels have a patient: a captured Dalek who is so damaged he has turned "good". And he needs a doctor. After a quick hop back to Earth to pick up Clara ( who seems to be doing just fine on her own, chatting up new character Danny Pink ) the Doctor and a military escort ( shreddies ) are miniaturised and sent... into the Dalek...
The only quibble I have is that there are elements to this story which are overly familiar: the Doctor confronting a chained, broken Dalek ( er, Dalek ), the miniaturisation and attack by antibodies ( Let's Kill Hitler ), falling into the digestive tract of a beast ( er again, The Beast Below ). These are only mild irritations and don't detract from a claustrophobic, exciting and surprisingly scary episode. I can't wait to see what else this new / old Time Lord has up his magician's sleeve...
Four Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Dalek antibodies )