Friday, 9 September 2011

Ghost Light (Part Three)


Originally Broadcast 18th October 1989
Written by: Marc Platt

It’s time to take back what I said in part two about this story being easy to follow, as the third instalment takes complication in it’s stride. It’s still a great episode and the plot is understandable, it just requires a little more intelligence (or multiple watches, making it even better and giving an excuse to watch it again!).

I do think this part was the weakest of the three, as Light seems miscast, especially in his ‘reawakening’ scene and Ace gets some dialogue to spoon-feed to us in the likes of “They’ve switched places”. Thanks for that one, Ace, we hadn’t worked that one out.
The final scene feels wrong as well, like a “Suppose we’d best end this in a scene” scene! I loved the attention given to Ace’s background, but it could have easily been explored in a little more emotion, especially in the closing moments of the show, even if it just cut to Sophie Aldred grinning.

McCoy, Aldred and the rest of the cast (minus Light!) are on their top form again though, this has to be one of the most talented stories with the level of performance being raised to a new standard for the show.

The episode and how it revolves around Ace really is a Steven Moffat script before his time, as it very much deals in the ‘timey-wimey’ aspect of time travel. The events of the story occur in a time before Ace was born yet affect something she’s already done. Now that’s confusing!

I think now more than ever, giving the current situation of ‘Doctor Who’, this episode is one that has to be watched. It’s definitely come into it’s own light now.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Ghost Light (Part Two)


Originally Broadcast 11th October 1989
Written by: Marc Platt

The second instalment of this three-part adventure doesn’t have much more to add than what has already been stated in the first episode. The only fault is how a lot of people claim it being confusing, although I’m not seeing that a lot here, perhaps it goes further to explain my comment about it being ahead of it’s time?

I’d like to say I wish every McCoy story was this good and, if so, he’d be the Doctor to compare all others to, but I’m not entirely sure it would be true. If too many stories contained the Doctor as portrayed here it’d get very old and loose it’s impact, but this time around it’s an absolutely fantastic piece of acting from McCoy and writing from Platt, giving a mysteriously dark persona to the character.

The ending to this episode is a vast improvement upon the one seen in episode one; I think it’s one of the most climatic endings in the McCoy era, giving great anticipation for the concluding part.
The guest cast are once again on top form, bad sadly Cochrane doesn’t feature a lot, but we get the likes of Ian Hogg and Sylvia Syms to more than make up for it.

I can’t really add a lot more to this, as it’s all praise, but a final comment I’ll leave is how good this Doctor/Companion team is here, it really foreshadows the Ten/Rose relationship at times with their dialogue bouncing off each other, especially the scene when mocking Josiah with comments such as “bats in the belfry”. Fantastic stuff, a brilliant piece of Who history. Roll on episode three.

A brilliant guest-cast!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Ghost Light (Part One)

Originally Broadcast 4th October 1989
 Written By: Marc Platt

I’m sorry but I have to start off a McCoy review with love for that title sequence. The music is poor and the actual titles themselves shouldn’t look good but I can’t help do anything except love the seventh Doctor opening. Now, where was I?

Arriving in a Victorian House, ‘Ghost Light’ sees one of the strangest and most unusual stories ever for the Doctor, teamed here with Ace.
For a start, my ‘cliff notes’ (the DVD booklet) informs me this was the last ‘Doctor Who’ to be filmed before the 1989 cancellation (despite being second from four in the series line up), I consider this to be ahead of it’s time.

The reason for that is because this feels extremely close to ‘New Who’. The story revolves more around the companion than the Doctor, McCoy gives off an ‘evil’ image of the Time Lord (all three new Doctors feature this often) and, for once, the companion is given the same level of dialogue as the title character, as Ace appears intelligent as well as being given some great, humorous, one-liners she feels more like the Doctor than McCoy a lot of the time due to Platt’s script.

There’s not a lot of story to play with yet, a bit of a weaker aspect of the episode, but Marc’s dialogue is insanely brilliant as is Wareing’s morbid direction. One thing I don’t like too much about this episode is the random sound effects (the bird crying at the episode’s cliffhanger-where was the bird?!) and the music by Ayres isn’t the best Who has seen, it isn’t memorable by any means, yet it gets the job done in a satisfying manner.

The supporting cast are all great here too, even if odd and don’t have a lot to do. My favourite cast member (due to knowing him from other works, such as ‘Black Orchid’ [1982]) is Michael Cochrane who is a fantastic British actor, this serials definitely worth a look just for actors of the highest quality, topped off by having Aldred and McCoy on top form.
Despite this, the cliffhanger is a tad weak and there isn’t a huge story building up from part one, so lets see where this serial takes us next…

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Ramblings of a Mad Man with a DVD Player

Hey everyone,

So we're a third of the way into the new series (or new half of the series), what do we all think of it so far? I can't wait for River to return already, although I see some people are tiring of her, shame.

Another 'review from the archives' today aka an excuse to cover it not being quite as good in my eyes but I hope you'll enjoy it nonetheless.

I'm currently planning to (very soon) have a run through of the first Jon Pertwee special giving a bit of continuity to my blog! I'll be skipping 'The Ambassadors Of Death', the third of four serials from the series, however as I'm desperately hanging on to review that one as I want to have the new colourised version which has sadly been delayed. But that still gives us 'Spearhead From Space', 'Dr. Who And The Silurians' shacked up with 'Inferno', all featuring Pertwee, Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney.

And fear not Tennant fans, I know I've not cast my eye over any of them yet, but I do plan to, honest!

Thanks for reading everyone, til next time!

The Unquiet Dead

Originally Broadcast 9th April 2005
Written by: Mark Gatiss

In a nutshell: Showing off, the Doctor takes Rose back in time to Cardiff in the year 1869 where the dead are walking.

Review: This episode is yet another brilliant addition to the new series, obviously having to travel back in time to complete the trilogy of “Present day/Future/Historical” in the journey we’re taking alongside Rose Tyler. After an initial introduction with the Doctor and Rose, where we get the Doc showing off, we go to Sneed’s funeral home. This scene sets the tone of the episode incredibly with such ease, giving us a mix of comedy and horror, which somehow blend together to create a great episode. Sneed’s natural unsurprised reaction to the dead walking is so funny to see and recurs through the opening ten minutes of the episode.

Amongst this we get Charles (Charlie) Dickens played by Simon Callow, a great big name to really show off the new series, it must’ve been a big risk for Callow looking at the shows reputation back in 2004. The character for Dickens is great, starting off miserable and at the end of his life, this episode is probably the best for showing someone (famous) how they can go on and their life isn’t over. By the end of the episode Dickens is completely changed, which is so nice to see, although it’s slightly ruined by our still-not-so-nice Doctor informing us and Rose how he will die the following year. Bad times.


There’s a scene near the end of the episode where the Doctor and Rose are trapped together and get a final ‘last speech’ before they think their about to die. The moment is so well written by Gatiss, I think this is one of the major turning points in Eccleston’s Doctor where he starts to warm up and become more like the man from the classic tenure and less the man how butchered millions in the time war.

Billie Piper is on top form, although she’s not given a lot more to do here than she was given in ‘The End Of The World’, where she acts nice to one of the supporting characters of a lesser class as well as trying to sort out what she thinks is right, stepping up against the Doctor’s ideology in the process. I think Rose is the weakest in this episode, although there is a little bit of repetition with Dickens thinking the whole thing is a conjuring trick, something that gets overplayed and far too old quickly, although still manages to turn up another three or four times.

Eccleston gets to showcase all his emotions again, which is always fun to see, at times happy, at times sidetracked and at other times immensely sad. I say Rose was the same as the previous episode, but looking at it, the Doctor isn’t too different, yet due to all the emotions he goes through in these stories, it’s very hard to notice when this Doctor gets the same writing.


I think I’d rate this one slightly above ‘The End Of The World’ mainly because the supporting cast are so much better, their funny or having their own problems and, importantly, they are all relatable unlike the mass amount of aliens we don’t learn as much about in the previous story. The plot of this episode is also ten times better, as it doesn’t feel like something we’ve had before and creates a true moral dilemma about the recycling of bodies that’s nicely argued on both sides by our co-stars. Sadly the next time trailer doesn’t show as good costumes or plotline in appearance but we shall wait and see…

Monday, 5 September 2011

Nightmare Of Eden (Part Four)


Originally Broadcast 15th December 1979
Written by: Bob Baker

In a nutshell: After discovering the secret of the Mandrels, the Doctor must now find out who is leading the drug smuggling operation and put a stop to it.

Review: If I thought it difficult to say anything nice about episode three, then I’m really going to struggle with this part, as I think it’s the worst ‘classic’ Doctor Who episode that springs to mind currently (not meaning it is the worst, after all, there are almost 700 episodes to pick from!). I can’t remember anything exciting about this part or, really, anything that grabbed me. Soon into it I became quite bored and was looking forward to the theme tune bursting through the screen, concluding the story.

The opening couple minutes were decent, with the Doctor discovering the first half of a very clever plot concerning the smuggling of Vraxoin and he had a very ‘human’ reaction upon reading Dymond’s computer screen. This reaction was sparked again near the end of the episode as Tryst tried reasoning with the Doctor about how he had nothing to do with it or he was forced into the operation.


The humour (or what I class as humour) has completely phased out of the show by this episode, it creeped into part one, was brilliantly effected in two, slowed a bit by three and vanished by four. I think it’s safe to say this is one of the most inconsistent serials in the shows history. It can definitely be appreciated as a whole, but it’s definitely the first half of this story that’s written well by Bob Baker (for the first and only time without co-writer Dave Martin). I think this gets a bit of unfair rep amongst Whovians, although the second half (especially part four) certainly deserves its place in the lower half of liked serials.

One final thing I don’t understand is how the Doctor is fairly violent toward the Mandrels in episode three (I thought this at the time but dismissed it) and again in episode four, yet at the end of the episode he states how they have a right to live and none of this is their fault, so why did he act this way previously in the episode? I think Douglas Adams wasn’t doing his job of script editing Bob Baker’s poor writing properly.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Doctor Who A Day - Boy Behind The Blog

Hey everyone,

Just a mere post to mention I've decided to go all out and put my thoughts on Twitter now as well! Follow the link to take you to another world!

See you all on monday, folks!

MH

Nightmare Of Eden (Part Three)


Originally Broadcast 8th December 1979
Written by: Bob Baker

In a nutshell: Escaping into the planet Eden, the Doctor and Romana discover a missing crew member, the name of the aliens (Mandrels) and the connection they have to a drug smuggling operation in space.

Review: OK, let’s run through this one more time: episode one-great characterisation, episode two-brilliantly funny, so what does episode three have going for it? A little bit of plot, very few funny lines and just boring stuff for the rest of it. I’m going to have trouble reviewing this episode bar just saying it didn’t really grab me.

The reason the last episode was amazing was because it was so funny and zany so I just don’t get where Douglas Adams put his joke book this week, there was nothing to this episode. The plot had a lot of predictable and/or dull moments but there were a few revelations to keep me going. I liked the connection between the Mandrals and the drug smuggling when it was finally revealed to the Doctor near the climax of the episode and the Mandrel disintegrating was a brilliant effect, although it was the only one I can remember being successful.

Another thing we discovered in this episode is who the drug smugglers are, and what a stereotypical surprise, it’s the guy with the fake German accent! Whatever this episode achieves, it certainly isn’t international relations between England and Germany, that’s for sure, as it relies on its 1940s B-Movie racism and tries to make it a surprise. Perhaps they thought, “That’s stereotypical, they’ll never think we’ll go for that” as a double-bluff but it really doesn’t pay off.


The Doctor’s job for the second half of this episode is to make some sci-fi mumbo-jumbo box by 20:25 but it gets trashed by a Mandrel, yet somehow the Doctor manages to repair it and put his coat and scarf on (whilst sweating under the pressure like mad, why put your scarf back on?) and still complete it by the same time. I’m not sure how this works, but it does and it provides a decent cliffhanger with it.

I’ll sign this chapter off with another poor moment, here’s an excerpt of dialogue following K-9 killing a Mandrel:

Doctor: It’s perfectly alright. 
The Doctor kicks the Mandrel’s lifeless body 
Doctor: It’s quite dead.
Romana: Oh, if you say so.

Three guesses which Mandrel destroyed the Doctor’s machine I mentioned a paragraph ago.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Nightmare Of Eden (Part Two)


Originally Broadcast 1st December 1979
Written by: Bob Baker

In a nutshell: The Doctor and Romana have learnt someone is drug smuggling aboard the ship, but what is it’s connection to the monsters roaming around and who is the mysterious character who shot the Doctor?

Review: I said the first episode worked so well as it represented society and was a great character piece but episode two can only be appreciated by being the opposite. All the good characterisation has vanished and the plot is still sour and predictable so it’s up to Tom Baker’s bonkers Doctor to make this attractive.

Douglas Adams no doubt had a big hand in the comedy for this serial and it steps up here, there’s more fantastic lines delivered by Tom Baker here, making the episode fun and enjoyable. Even if you’re one of the fans who see Tom Baker’s sixth series as his worst due to the comedy and madness of it, fair enough, but I still bet you’d crack a smile or laugh at at least one of the Doctor’s lines in this episode.



Alan Bromley’s directing skills here are, if anything, invisible. I think it’s unfair to put all the blame onto Bromley, as it’s clear the budget restrictions played a part in this. Whenever we get a chase scene, the same shot is used for the Doctor running, then the other person running, the exact same camera shot, this is followed by them running through the same set again (meant to be another floor of the ship). Now I can’t blame Bromley for only being able to afford the one set, but he could’ve mixed up the angles a bit or techniques to film in, this way it just looks a bit dull and repetitive. At least we have some brilliant ‘chase-sequence’ music here, I think some of the most catchy from the classic run and so soon after ‘City Of Death’s (1979) classic, well-remembered score.

A special mention has to be given to David Daker’s Captain Rigg who is just brilliant, his acting was spot-on in episode one and here he has been poisoned. The script for this goes far too downhill but Daker just goes with it and plays the part wonderfully, making me like Daker even though the idea is a bit of a silly one.

The end of the episode sees quite an intriguing cliffhanger, probably the best bit of Bob Baker’s script (if we say the jokes are Douglas Adams’) as it feels like you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. Despite this serials constant criticism, I’ve enjoyed both episodes but only if they are both read as different texts and I find myself genuinely looking forward to the next part, but more for the silliness than anything else.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Nightmare Of Eden (Part One)


Originally Broadcast 24th November 1979
Written by: Bob Baker

In a nutshell: The Doctor, Romana II and K-9 answer a distress signal to find two ships have crashed into each other in space. Whilst trying to dislodge one from the other, one of the crew members is attacked and killed, but by what?

Review: This story gets slated a lot and often finds itself hidden in the bottom half of any survey, however from episode one I’ve really enjoyed it. The storyline is very obvious and full of stereotypes leading back to Patrick Troughton’s days but this works nicely as a character piece. There are few characters in the episode, but they are all explored well and given some good characterisation.

Still, there are one or two I dislike such as the idea of making Lewis Fiander’s Tryst German, as it falls back on the mad German scientist device which is boring, god knows how many times it’s been written before. Tryst aside; the story is a very clear representation of different members of society today. We have a reckless youth, a man who hates his work, a man obsessed with it and someone who just wants to do what he can.


In amongst this we have, as ever, the objector to society: The Doctor. Although in this episode he seems to just go along with what’s happened and act a little childish. The fact we have Romana here is a blessing, as Tom Baker during his sixth series just couldn’t work without her. Romana is, essentially, the Doctor when not being written or played for laughs; therefore she works well and gives a lot of answers to the audience. She’s very Jon Pertwee-like in her character. Baker does get some great lines, such as the one about not being paid as Galactic shut down twenty years ago (one of my favourite fourth Doctor lines) and isn’t as silly as some serials from the same time, such as ‘The Creature From The Pit’ so it’s not horrendous and, if anything, contrasts with Lalla Ward’s Romana perfectly.

There’s a scene just less than ten minutes from the end where the Doctor is shot, which surprised me for a moment. I don’t expect to see a scene like that 15minutes into a serial from 1980, I’d expect it to be played as the cliffhanger and, in fact, it was more interesting than this times ending, which contained a dodgy effects shot hitting Romana and the Doctor finding a cuddly Mandrel. To find out what happens next, log on to the next review!

The Fact Of Fiction

Hi everyone! Sadly the summer is ending and my blog has wavered a little due to some other bits here and there, but I'm back to marching through the big Mighty 200 (plus twenty!) stories Who has racked up in it's long history.

I'm currently writing an article about the missing episodes as well for a fanmag so will post a link to that one when it's all done and dusted (probably a couple months for the finished mag).

I've been digging through my old DWM's as well to read 'The Fact Of Fiction', which if anyone out there skips each month, seriously go back and read them! There's some good jokey lines now and again as Alan Barnes tries to explain away mistakes such as Susan's disgust at the factual info being wrong in her 'Reign Of Terror' book in the first episode, yet doesn't know anything about the reign when she visits for the series' finale. There's some wonderful reading there.

And I'm leaving you today with an old review I've dug from somewhere! It's on 'Nightmare Of Eden' starring Tom Baker's Doctor and it starts out better than its reptutation suggests.

Happy reading everyone!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Doctor Who And The History Of Comics

Your ever-friendly reviewer has been busy of late, compiling and reading all of Panini's 437 Doctor Who Comics as well as IDW's smaller, yet just as privligied range of stories for a new two-part article, posted on Comicbuzz.com.

Part One covers the DWM comics between 1979 and 2001 and can be found here, whilst Part Two deals with the comics ranging from 2001 to this very week and is published here.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Desperate Measures


Originally Broadcast 9th January 1965
Episode Two of: The Rescue

Written by: David Whitaker

Not quite as fantastic as episode one, the concluding half of The Rescue still provides a pretty decent, gripping instalment of the show. I already much prefer Vicki to the character of Susan, as she seems a bit more strong and independent. There is an important and fantastical scene where it all gets too much and she starts to break down in front of the elderly Doctor and it’s not until this point you realise how much rests on her shoulders and how terrible her life really is. This shows probably the strongest companion to this date as she is only meant to be in her late teens yet near enough supports and lives on her own-a huge difference from Susan who screamed “grandfather” before turning every corner.

The plot by Whitaker is clever and interesting, but the ‘wrap up’ of the story is pretty dismal and disappointing as two men (apparently natives on Dido) dressed in white suits merely walk toward Bennet and that’s that. Pretty pants to be honest, but it isn’t a huge factor as the story really is the thing that doesn’t matter in this two-part narrative. What the episode intends to do is, much in the same way as The Eleventh HourThe Edge Of Destruction from the previous year (reviewed early on in this ongoing blog), it’s clear Whitaker manages to achieve a lot in his two part stories without them getting too weighed down with having to stretch to reach the six part structure. (2010), introduce the companion/new characters and move on in one story but, granted, you have to throw in a story for the sub-plot for our characters to struggle through. Looking back at

 
From the difference in timelines between the new companion and the previous two, I hope that ‘joke’ of age difference and time difference becomes a running occurrence, as it fitted nicely into this script and would do so again. Instantly the Beatles reference in The Chase springs to mind, but let’s hope there are many more!

As for the (literal) cliffhanger, wow is that a good one! The direction inside the TARDIS isn’t great, I don’t really think that needed to be there, but what a fantastic model shot we witness as the final shot, leading us into our next, somewhat different historical, The Romans

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Powerful Enemy


Originally Broadcast 2nd January 1965
Episode One of: The Rescue

Written by: David Whitaker

This episode is where the series is ‘shaken up’ a bit, as we’re still reeling from the loss of the first TARDIS companion, Susan, in the previous episode.
Because of this we get a true sense of continuity between stories, which is a fantastic change for the script.
The episode itself is great for a number of little reasons and one major reason, that being William Hartnell who gives a grand performance. You can really see his grief over the departure of Susan, it’s not something he can get over. Despite some poor moments of dialogue from Whitaker, such as the Doctor about to talk to an absent granddaughter, Hartnell performs it with ease, he’s believable and that’s what makes his Doctor so perfect.

It’s easy to site Ray Cusick as one of the greatest set designers of the show, as he arguably the most famous, but these sets are pretty nicely designed. You can see this is more the ‘cheap filler’ story, but Cusick has taken time over certain sets. Some look worse than others, it’s obvious there’s a backdrop behind Vicki’s spaceship and the prop of the oiled handle doesn’t really pull off too well, and the same can be said for the ‘spikes’ that are pushing Ian toward the ledge at the finale, but overall the sets are nice, well done and you can tell, despite it being clearly on a budget, that Cusick is an expert in his field.


One of the better aspects of this episode is Ian and the Doctor. This was at a time when it was more a ‘group of heroes’ rather than ‘The Doctor and stereotype companion’, as here Ian and the Doctor almost seem like a double act, injecting a lot of comedy into the script but also not sending the show up, giving nice little touches that shows a real bond between the group since their first adventure all that time ago.

Koquillion isn’t the best-designed costume in the world but it isn’t a total disaster. The problem with him is, is that you can see it’s a man in a rubber mask. If either the mouth moved when he spoke, they’d called in a specialist to provide the villainous voice and didn’t have him look so humanoid with the effortless ‘chuck a black robe on’ to finish the costume he would seem more powerful.

Personally, despite this being a story to ‘bridge the gap’ and provide a new companion between The Dalek Invasion Of Earth and The Romans on a tight budget, it’s very simple, effective and nicely done by all parts of the production team. A great first episode.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Image Of The Fendahl (Part Four)


Originally Broadcast 19th November 1977
Written by: Chris Boucher

I’m not entirely sure what to make of the final episode of this serial, as part of me feels as if it was a bit of a let down. Mostly it consisted of the Doctor and co finding a lot of salt and destroying the monster, when we had a great build up and some good three episodes.

Tom Baker and the rest of the cast did shine through the episode, however, with Tom getting to do his zany impressions again, which are always great fun to witness. Sadly some of the best guest stars have passed on by this episode, meaning the cast got smaller, so we didn’t have as many stories to follow, which is what made the low-budget cost of this serial work so well previously.
One thing that I’ve said didn’t work well at all previously, was Spenton-Foster’s transitional shot, but he puts the same shot in here as Wanda transforms and it’s such a fantastic, inspiring shot. I think this has gone down as one of the iconic images of Who, as it’s really something to see, although sadly only lasted a few seconds.

 
Daphne Howard is a good actress to look out for, she quickly emerges as a favourite in this story, as she’s quirky and easy to spot. She’s great as she takes all the ‘nonsense’ of monsters and lucky charms in her stride, which is a nice change for Who rather than characters refusing to believe and the script forcing them into denial.

Something else that works well is one of the characters committing suicide rather than being taken over by the Fendahl. It works, as it’s quite powerful, despite us not actually witnessing it on screen, as it’s Doctor Who and it’s 1977, we’re not going to see someone shoot themselves, yet it’s really effective.

There’s two surprising occurrences for our regulars in the final episode as well, which actually works well.
The first, for the Doctor, is taking the shotgun without a second thought, as there’s always this debate about the Doctor not using weapons. He’s informed it only contains rock salt, but after he’s already stolen the gun with force.
The moment for Leela is when she kisses Adam on the way to exiting the scene, I was quite surprised when I saw that, but at the same time it works. I think the reason it took me by surprise is that I could picture most other companions of the time doing this more than Leela, as she just doesn’t immediately strike as doing that. It’s worth noting that it didn’t feature in the script.

The final scene, on a final note, is the last scene, which feels so awkwardly hashed together and just doesn’t work in par with the rest of the story. The big problem with it is, is that it feels like the entire thing was adlibbed, especially by Tom Baker. A terrible, terrible final scene, and not quite as powerful a final episode, but overall I’ve quite enjoyed this story.
Last piece of trivia for the story, is this was Robert Holmes’ final story as script editor, who’s worked in that position since Baker’s opening series. Luckily Holmes would return to script another five (and a half!) stories.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Image Of The Fendahl (Part Three)


Originally Broadcast 12th November 1977
Written by: Chris Boucher

The guest cast for this serial is fantastic; I really like all the characters. Some of them perhaps not for who they are, just how the actor has portrayed them, this story really is more of a character piece than narrative and, in a bold move, it’s not afraid to have some of our characters rested from the story for ages on end.
I found myself surprised and not actually worried that I’m three parts through and the Doctor has barely interacted with 80% of this guest cast, I’m not sure if that’s actually happened before (one to think about!).

Tom Baker’s performance and the script surrounding him is pretty marvellous too, as we find out a few things on how the Time Lords live, as well as the Fendahl being a threat to the Doctor’s childhood dreams, it reminds me a bit of 2006’s The Runaway Bride with the Racnoss.
Baker gets to do both his wacky version of the Doctor with lines such as “I love fruit cake” as well as contrasting with his dark side, when he snaps at Leela in the TARDIS due to the level of the danger the pair have found themselves in.
To me, this is how Doctor Who and the character of the Doctor should be, perhaps because I’ve found myself being immortalised in the ways of the new show where the Doctor has to be funny most of the time as well as contrasting with his darker side once in a while. This really shows that off, so if you’re a fan of new, then maybe take a look at this one, albeit a much slower pace than some of the latter serials.

There are some dodgy moments, such as Dennis Lill having one of the most poorly recognised death scenes in the show, and I’m not sure how I feel about the Fendahl itself. The very first shot we see of part of it looks pretty poor (and a bit weird), the sound effects are obviously there to help do the job but they just don’t match up to the camera shot at all. When we see the monster (in all it’s glory) at the very climax of the episode, I think it looks pretty impressive, not the finest monster, but not a disappointment by any means. I’m not actually sure on fan reaction to the monster, or the episode at all in fact, but I think it’s going very well so far.

Note: Since writing this article I have looked up Image in The Mighty 200. This was a list conducted by DWM in 2009, where fans rated stories out of ten. The results compiled, the stories were entered into a list from 1-200, 1 being the best and 200 being the least well liked. This story came out at 73, so I’m guessing people are mostly in agreement with my acceptance of the story so far…

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Image Of The Fendahl (Part Two)


Originally Broadcast 5th October 1977
 Written by: Chris Boucher

Everything I asked for after viewing part one enters into the fray in this episode, making it a vast improvement in those areas at least.

Unfortunately it’s the other areas that are slipping a bit now, as Dennis Lill, despite being a fantastic actor in other performances (Only Fools And Horses for instance) can’t make up his mind whether he’s German or American. It’s a shame as he is a great actor but he does still carry some weight in this performance, accent aside and gets important plot points to deliver too, an actors dream.

I’m not overly fond of the story, as it’s a little tricky and, at times, uninteresting to follow, as well as not travelling miles in two parts, but it does have it’s interests. It’s strong point is definitely the characterisation given to not just the regulars, but to the supporting cast, who, to be honest, are better than our TARDIS duo in these episodes as they have more to do.
I’m not knocking Louise Jameson or Tom Baker, as when they get a scene they really shine, Baker gets some funny little scenes such as when he’s accused of having curly hair or when he talks to the skull (Alas, poor skull). As for Louise, she gets separated from the Doctor for the entire episode, giving her a chance to shine on her own, which she does and in style. Leela is one of my favourite companions because she gets good interaction with anyone not from her own time zone. Whilst she’s best when ‘learning’ from the Doctor, she’s great here too.

Director Spenton-Foster is still trying to push the boundaries of British Television on a budget too far, giving us the odd poor looking shot, which is a shame as he’s coming off worse than he should when perhaps he was struggling to meet the script requirements on his budget. The only other Doctor Who he directed was 1978’s The Ribos Operation, so maybe it’s worth me revisiting that soon to see just how well he copes on his year away from the show?

Funny trivia: When the Doctor offers the skull a jelly baby, it’s clearly a liquorice allsorts in his hand.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Image Of The Fendahl (Part One)


Originally Broadcast 29th October 1977
Written by: Chris Boucher

This episode broadcasts a nice change of pace in contrast to most serials as the Doctor and Leela don’t really play an important part nor do they appear in the story much. Personally, I usually like this when it turns up once in a while for a change, but here, it does work for a while but not for the majority of the episode. They should’ve begun playing more of a significant role around fifteen minutes rather than stretching it for the full first episode.

That said, we’re introduced to some decent characters in this episode, they’re pretty easy to spot character traits for, yet the settings are all the same, providing a bit of a dull direction after a while. The main problem with this episode lies in the lack of locations and the directing. I think (director) George Spenton-Foster is wonderfully experimental with his opening shot and lying one image on top of another, yet it doesn’t really pan out on the low-level television budget. It is clear to tell what he wants, however, and if you imagine that the directing is great, he’s got a real mind for what to do. Sadly, due to the restraints at the time it doesn’t really pan out, with a lot of the camera choices looking still and a bit boring to the casual viewer. I’d argue that based on this episode alone, Spenton-Foster is ahead of his time in the television field.


The Doctor and Leela get some nice interaction sequences when they’re used, there’s a fun scene in the TARDIS with a broken down K-9 and a slightly wonky TARDIS console, providing a few laughs for the younger audience, as does Leela’s motive later on in the episode with the running theme of attacking people, as is her custom.

The fact most of this episode’s key scenes take place at night makes for some amazing atmospheric shots both on the interior and exterior of the building. Little fact, the house used was owned by Mick Jagger and is the same location used for filming some exterior shots from The Pyramids Of Mars two years previous. The fog light mixes really well with the lighting and that is what succeeds in this episode. We have a somewhat good director, a pretty ok script with a decent set of characters, but it’s the atmosphere of the piece that really makes this episode it’s own, standing it above others. It’s not hard to believe this is the series that gave us Horror Of Fang Rock, another fantastically atmospheric piece.

As I’m about to enter part two, hopefully the problems will be ironed out, with a bit more depth to the plot, some more scenes of Tom and Louise doing what they do best and that wonderful tone kept up.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A Good Man Goes To War


Originally Broadcast 4th June 2011
 Written by: Steven Moffat

A Good Man Goes To War is one of those tricky little episodes that you come out of on first airing thinking “well that wasn’t very good”, but after a couple days and a rewatch or two you start thinking “that was awesome” and it really is.

I think holding off on showing the Doctor for almost twenty minutes was quite good, especially as you can reach over five minutes through before thinking “hang on, I’ve not seen him yet!” but maybe twenty minutes is a bit of a stretch.

Once the Doctor arrives, whilst I love the scene, I can’t help feeling Moffat was just trying to regain any sort of “epic scene” he could to rival the Pandorica speech the previous year, making the scene feel a bit less special overall. I don’t really like Moffat’s way of bringing back everything all the time. It worked when RTD did it for Journey’s End as it was a finale of sorts and it just about works at a push for the overdrawn goodbyes for Tennant, but Moffat’s pulled the same stunt twice in two years for episodes that don’t really hit as high a margin for epic as RTD’s two swansongs.


 The two River Song scenes are brilliantly written and performed, with amazing ‘trailer-like’ lines such as “This is the day he finds out who I am”, I still get a shiver down my spine when Kingston delivers that. And her speech to the Doctor when she arrives at Demon’s Run is pretty spectacular, only able to come from this character. The effects of what she tells him have the potential to become a bigger changing point in the Doctor’s life than his soul being revealed back in 2008’s Journey’s End if Moffat plays it right. I don’t think it’s something the Doctor can shake off like most things he does.

I don’t like Lorna Bucket as a character. She’s there to forward the story and prove a point, but as a character she’s a bit bland and doesn’t do much for herself. But I can’t help but fall in love with the rest of what DWM’s calling the Doctor’s ‘Barmy Army’! The Sontaran who’s a Nurse is incredibly funny and provides an emotionally packed punch for Rory on his deathbed. And as for Vastra/Jenny, well everyones saying spin-off series…


The episode is Matt Smith’s finest hour (so far) as the Doctor, every scene he performs is magical. We get the Colonel Runaway scene, the moment where he tries to shake off River’s lecture and more, I really think Matt proves himself as the best Doctor if judged on this episode alone, he’s just a fantastic actor.

Speaking of Colonel Runaway, I really dislike the moment where everyone has to chant, “we are not fools” and I dislike even more the army the Doctor puts together of Silurian and Judoon. Paired with the music it feels lazy, just a ‘raid the wardrobes’ set of costumes and I’d expect to see this in the live shows, but not in the middle of a finale.


As for the cliffhanger, it wasn’t as amazingly game-changing as Moffat promised, I think the previous ‘shock ending’ was much bigger and would’ve provided more want for the show over a summer break than this one.

Just a final note: On the end credits everyone gets their creation credited such as “Cybermen created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis” but it says “Ood and Judoon created by RTD”.

Can anyone tell me: Where was the Ood in the episode!?!?

Friday, 5 August 2011

Sarah Jane Adventures: Death Of The Doctor


Originally Broadcast 25th-26th October 2011
Episodes 4.5 and 4.6 of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’

Written by Russell T. Davies

After UNIT informs Sarah Jane of the Doctor’s death, she attends the funeral, unwilling to accept the inevitable. With everyone doubting her, it’s the arrival of former companion Jo Grant nee Jones that helps get to the truth of the matter.

The Doctor’s second (and final) appearance in the spin-off is much better than his first, for a year previously it was Sarah’s wedding and all eyes were awaiting the Doctor, who we all knew was coming, but never turned up for half the storyline.
Well the same happens here, but the story is more forgiving as it’s all about the Doctor, therefore there’s actually a valid excuse for only using him for one of the two episodes.
Once he turns up, Matt Smith is on top form, RTD really nailed the writing style for the eleventh incarnation (let’s remember, he never wrote the Matt Smith lines in The End Of Time, Part Two), making this Doctor even more fun and brilliant than the episode was before he showed up.
Useless trivia here: Matt Smith had to change his shirt for this episode from those worn in series five as the patterns made the SJA cameras blurred.

"Come Along, Smith"
 Russell’s return to writing the Doctor and Sarah Jane was an accident as well, when the original writer fell through, and I’m glad it worked that way as, tragically, this is the last time Sarah will share the screen with her best friend. There are so many good moments and nods back for both the characters and for Lis Sladen herself, with things such as one of the Doctor’s introductory lines being “Hello Sarah Jane” in the style of Tennant’s School Reunion.
The same can be said for the next returning character from the world of Doctor Who, notching up her debut SJA adventure, it’s Katy Manning aka Jo Grant aka Jo Jones. I love how her character has developed; it really feels like the route Jo would’ve gone down, being inspired both by the Doctor and her husband (from The Green Death).
Mix this up with masses and masses of old footage as the creators raid the BBC Archives and this episode is a real winner, all fans love to see old clips from the show so this is like a fangasm, all appearing at once in quick succession. Adding to this, this is the only place where you can see not just one Doctor but six! (Dimensions In Time doesn’t count!) Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, T. Baker, Tennant and Smith all whiz around our screen.

Enough of the love aside (we also get fantastic stories of past companions including the inevitable loving truth that Ian and Barbara got married) and we’ll finally move onto the story, which, really, isn’t that great. The fact is, the episode is so wrapped in fan-things and comebacks and the Doctor that we don’t care, but underneath it is a pretty naff storyline, full of clich├ęs. I think if we took out all of RTD’s overused plot devices, there wouldn’t be enough to fill fifteen minutes.
He also tries to hammer the point across to us about petitioning and not seeing parents and how hard it can be, which proves very tiring by the end of forty-five minutes. Russell also manages to stretch Tennant’s already overlong regeneration to even more ridiculous levels as the Doctor announces he looked back on all his companions when he was dying (damn you, Wilfred!). So if he did do this, he managed to cling to life long enough to say goodbye to around forty companions from the show plus all the ones from the novels and adventures we’ve not seen (if you class them as canon). A little bit ridiculous, although it did pave the way for some nice acting from the three Who legends.


To conclude and sum up the episode, it’s not very good, the music really needs to be toned down and used less, the script needs to be better and less obvious, but none of care about that. The episode is absolutely fantastic despite all this, because it has three amazing people on screen; Katy Manning, Matt Smith and best of all, Elisabeth Sladen, who all look like they had a fantastic time. To be honest I’d like to think of this as the final Sarah Jane Smith adventure, as it really sums up just how fantastic a person she is and how much she’s done for the show we all love.

The Matt Smith "Specials" 2011



Space and Time

Written by: Steven Moffat, broadcast 18th March 2011

These two little gems from Red Nose Day are really good fun, that’s all and that’s all they need to be. You can’t fault them for what they are (although maybe people are going to start saying Who’s got too rude) but Moffat provides a funny yet serious (what Who does so brilliantly) six-minute story with some of the best Murray Gold stock music. And the whole TARDIS-within-a-TARDIS thing is sorted faster and better than it is in Logopolis.



The National Television Awards: Opening Scene

Written by: Steven Moffat, broadcast 26th January 2011

Another silly little but of fun as the Doctor helps Dermot find his way to the NTA’s after he sleeps in. Some nice cameos from various people, just meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the TARDIS takes a stop or two too many and becomes a bit drawn out using the same trick too many times. Still enjoyable for what it is though.



Series Six: The Prequels (The Impossible Astronaut, The Curse Of The Black Spot and A Good Man Goes To War)

Originally aired on BBC.co.uk, 2011

I really like the idea of doing two-minute prequels to episodes within the series, although I remember when they were announced and I had no idea what style they were, I was hoping for more Doctor in them but they work even better without.
I think the episode three prequel was, however, pointless and didn’t really serve up anything the trailer and TV blurb hadn’t already given us, except some nice acting from Hugh Bonneville.