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!


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.