Thursday, August 13, 2020

Doctor Who: Christopher Eccleston Returns - For Big Finish

Yeah, had to make sure the title was clear as other publications deliberately fudged that one but if 2020 wasn't crazy enough, this has actually happened.

Fifteen years since his departure in the first series finale of the 2005 series of Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston is finally reprising the role of the Ninth Doctor and it's courtesy of Big Finish, who have recorded 12 new stories with Eccleston, due for release next year, with Eccleston commenting on his much hyped return.

“After 15 years it will be exciting to revisit the Ninth Doctor's world, bringing back to life a character I love playing.” 

While details about other cast and stories are yet to be revealed, the Ninth Doctor will have a four boxset situation with each set containing three stories and a behind the scenes feature disc, titled Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures, which can be preordered from the Big Finish site. 

I have to say, I'm genuinely shocked by this. I know it took a while for Big Finish to get Tom Baker into the audio, but I didn't believe they would be able to persuade Christopher Eccleston. It's Fantastic (as the 9th Doctor would say) that they have. However on that note and sorry, but this bit is going to be rant at the actual series itself. Bear with me.

It's brilliant that over the last few months both Big Finish and Emily Cook through the watchalongs have managed to keep Doctor Who somewhat in the public eye but if anything, it's also highlighted that the BBC and Chris Chibnall themselves are failing to do this and that's somewhat a worrying thing to see.

Before anyone comes at me about COVID or the NMD crowd, it has been five months since The Timeless Children has aired and while we know that Chibnall and lead actor Jodie Whittaker are back for Series 13, we don't however know when filming is slated to begin or have any clue as to when it may actually air and given that other major productions have either restarted filming or are about to begin again, surely the BBC should be making some kind of announcement concerning one of their biggest shows?

We also still don't know if the upcoming Revolution Of The Daleks will air either at Christmas or New Year and while it's been rumoured that both Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole are departing in the special along with Mandip Gill continuing into next series, it's still not confirmed.

I've seen some people online tangentially connected with the show defend Chibnall's overt secretiveness but for me, I genuinely think it's slowly killing the hype for the series and we're at a point where some new information concerning the series should be starting to be officially announced, if anything to at least curtail other 'sources' from spreading misinformation about the series.

I've already voiced enough of my own personal criticisms I have with the current era, but that doesn't mean I don't love the show or that I want it to do badly. I just want better storytelling and some proper marketing and excitement and right now, both the BBC and Chris Chibnall really need to pull their finger out on both counts. Hopefully something genuinely exciting concerning the show (perhaps some new companion casting) will emerge soon.

Big Finish News:

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures will be released from May 2021. Revolution Of The Daleks airdate is yet to be confirmed for BBC1 and BBCAmerica as well as filming for Series 13.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

We Ended The World Again

It's been a while since I've done this and well, a few news shows have emerged and I've dropped at least one as well. 

911: This season really has been hitting it's stride and with five episodes left to go, the ending of episode 13 with the 911 building being taken hostage was a pretty impressive cliffhanger. I also liked that it tied back into Maddie's co-worker who had been attacked in the previous episode. Speaking of Maddie, it's nice to see the show progressing her relationship with Howie (who's also reconnecting with his half brother) while Bobby, Athena and Hen have all had roles in the storyline with Michael (is the show going to kill him off?) while Buck and Eddie could do with a little more, storyline wise.

Love, Victor: I have really enjoyed this lovely, feel good series and given the cliffhanger where Victor finally came out to his parents, I am so glad that it's been renewed for a second season. The build towards Victor accepting himself along with that wonderful episode that actually featured Simon and Bram has been gripping to watch. I love Benji as well as a love interest for Victor and the show's supporting cast really do compliment the series. I'll definitely be watching next season.

The Good Place: Okay, I'm not sure what's going on with E4 because for the last two weeks there has been no new episodes airing. I'm unsure if they've dropped the series, and if they have, I'll have to watch the rest of it online. Anyways, the episodes I had seen though largely involved Trevor doing his best to sabotage Michael's work getting the group to work together as well as some brilliant scenes with Janet and Gen. This season has been good so far and I definitely want to see how the rest of it plays out.

The Politician: Going into the second season of this show, there are two sadly alarming things I've noticed about this one. There's the fact that this seems to be the least hyped Ryan Murphy show probably since The New Normal and that the LGBT content is probably the worst since arguably Nip/Tuck. Other than that, the second season has been mostly entertaining, even if Dede is a far more sympathetic political candidate than Payton has been during the course of this whole series. As for the double pregnancy story with Astrid and Alice - yeah, we could've done without that. 

The Umbrella Academy: The second season launched on Netflix less than a fortnight ago and it's been quite a wild ride so far. The first four episodes separated the siblings into the 1960's, they all built new lives and then Five had to go and spoil it all because there's another apocalypse. On the other hand, the new setting has worked a treat and all the new characters like Lila, Sissy, Ray and Elliot have all added well to the series. As for the romance with Vanya and Sissy, didn't we all see that one coming?

  • Although The Flight Attendant has yet to debut on HBO Max, lead actor Kaley Cuoco has hinted that the show will get a second season. 
  • Will Smith will have a producer on an upcoming gritty reboot of Fresh Prince Of Bel Air.
  • Sirens has been cancelled after three seasons on Freeform.
  • Shows like The Good Doctor and Grey's Anatomy will tackle the coronavirus in upcoming episodes.
  • High Fidelity has been cancelled after a season on Hulu.
  • CSI: Vegas - a continuation of the original series has been ordered for CBS.
  • Adria Adjona has joined the cast of the upcoming Rogue One TV series for Disney+
  • Shawn Ashmore will be playing Lamplighter in the upcoming second season of The Boys. The show has also been renewed for a third season.
  • Olivia Swann will return as a regular for the sixth season of Legends Of Tomorrow.
  • Sarah Paulson will direct for the upcoming American Horror Stories spin off. American Horror Story itself is set to film it's tenth season (theme to be revealed) towards the end of the year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

My Review of Doom Patrol's 2x09: "Wax Patrol"


Written by Chris Dingess & Tanya Steele
Directed by Christopher Manley

Candlemaker (to Dorothy): "Come girl and meet your fate."

And we have a cliffhanger on our hands. Given that we're down an episode, I guess it was to be expected and this episode definitely had enough to wax lyrical over considering that all our main characters were left in quite the position.

First of all, there's Dorothy. She's been fighting all season to keep the Candlemaker at bay and the events of a carnival saw the latter wreck the most havoc as he managed to take out Willoughby and the majority of the gang before grabbing Dorothy and disappearing by the end of this one.

As usual, Niles seemed torn between wanting to protect his daughter but still failing as a father with Slava turning up at the last minute to try and help Dorothy against the Candlemaker. Ultimately it's Dorothy who will have to take out the Candlemaker and quick before the latter completely destroys the world.

As for the gang themselves - Rita, Cliff and Victor all had confrontations with their imaginary friends before succumbing to the wax. Even having an imaginary friend didn't stop Larry from also sharing the same fate and Kay herself looked she was about to be in the same predicament too, considering the Candlemaker took over Miranda.

Speaking of Miranda, the flashbacks focused on her working as a waitress before meeting a busker who seemed nice at first before being revealed as a toxic asshole. The flashbacks were pretty strong and they did a good job of explaining Miranda's current mentality while Jane herself managed to pull herself out of the well. It'll be Jane who end up helping Dorothy with the Candlemaker. 

- The imaginary friends included Imaginary Jesus (for Cliff), Roxy (Rita), Doctor Cowboy (Victor) and a Punch & Judy doll (for Willoughby).
- How come Niles wasn't turned into wax? Surely the Candlemaker would've done it to him before going after the other members first?
-  Standout music: King Harvest's Dancing In The Moonlight and The Cure's Picture Of You.
- Chronology: 1969 Milwaukee during the Miranda flashbacks and the present day for everything else.

Wax Patrol definitely ended on a solid cliffhanger for next season (and given that it's doing well for HBO Max, this should be coming back). I do feel they'll use next season's premiere/the intended finale to quick wrap this up ala Titans before moving on to the next story. 

Rating: 8 out of 10 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

My Review of Doom Patrol's 2x08: "Dad Patrol"

Written by Tom Farrell & April Fitzsimmons
Directed by Amanda Row

Candlemaker: "It's time, Dorothy."

No kidding, eh? All season long we've been building towards the inevitable with Dorothy and now it's here. All season long this show has done a great job with developing Dorothy and making her as sympathetic as possibly with Abigail Shapiro putting in a fantastic performance but with one episode to go, it was time for the Candlemaker to finally come out and properly play.

Niles will never win father of the year but in this episode he attempted to give Dorothy one last nice day before he'd have to do something to prevent her from maturing. However fate got in the way as Dorothy did mature and the end showed that the world might be doomed as a result.

It's hard not to be sympathetic to Dorothy's plight as all she's wanted is to be a normal girl and loved. Niles has repeatedly failed her as a parent and while the others have done their best to try and help, the most helpful adult in Dorothy's life was the woman in the bathroom who explained to the girl that she was getting her periods. 

With Dorothy's tale playing out in the present, the episode delved more into the past to examine the abuse that Kay/Miranda had to suffer at the hands of Kay's father. The show hasn't been shy in highlighting how awful Kay's father has been but in case any of us had forgotten, we really got another painful reminder of what a truly evil human being he was to his daughter.

Jane wonderfully stepped up with a little help from Larry by going down the well to retrieve Kay's stuffed teddy Harry before Miranda revealed her true colours and shoved Jane down another well where the likes of Scarlett and Lucy were also floating in. I know Miranda was too good to be true and we've got an interesting battle for Primary on our hands with her and Jane in the finale.

As for Rita and Victor - they made a lovely team up this week as they went looking for Roni, who killed someone from her past and admitted to stealing the Uma Jelly. Things did not end well between Victor and Roni in this episode but here's hoping those two can work it out. I really like Roni and I'm hoping the show can keep her around for a bit longer.

Elsewhere Cliff was also kept out of the main events this week but on the plus side, he got to reconnect with Clara and it was rather nice to see the two of them getting along. More interesting was the fact that Cliff seemed to have a reaction when cooking breakfast. Is he starting to regain some feeling?

- If you liked the idea of Steele & Stone a few episodes ago, how does Borg & Beekeeper sound? It could be the modern version of The Avengers.
- Larry had some flashbacks to spending time with his son, Paul while Willoughby was consulting with a white guinea pig named Burbunny over the Dorothy situation.
- By the looks of this episode, I'm thinking that Niles will not make it into next season. 
- Chronology: 1954 and 1961 for scenes with Kay/Miranda and Larry/Paul as well as the present day for the bulk of the episode.

Dad Patrol took the theme of fathers and daughters with varying results but each look was either compelling, heartfelt, horrifying or a mixture of the three elements. I know we're one episode short on what we should be but I do hope the finale does resolve the main story with Dorothy well but even if it doesn't, the numbers on HBO Max would imply that we'll be seeing more of this show for the time being.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

My Review of Doom Patrol's 2x07: "Dumb Patrol"

Written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson & Eric Dietel
Directed by Jessica Lowrey

Miranda (to everyone): "Shall we go home now?"

Ah, Miranda, you seem like the Nicer Jane as Victor put it. Or are you? After this episode, I am not sure about that. I mean you're less moody and seem not as quick to swear like Jane but your immunity to the Scant Queen's effects and ability to use others to kill her did show a ruthless side to you as well that's on a par with Niles basically.

Then there's also the fact that Scarlett Harlot herself seems to be missing and her station closed. Is Miranda bumping off some of the others in the Underground or is someone else? At least Scarlett's disappearance got Jane out of her mopey self to do some investigating and while I'm not in a rush to see her back as the Primary, at least she's going to have something to do in the Underground to keep her busy for a bit.

As for Miranda, when she wasn't being secretly sinister, she was also the only showing any sense when the others - Larry, Vic and Roni were all infected with the Scants from that White Painting of last season. Under the influence, Larry tried unsuccessfully to get Flit to help him see his grandson while Victor and Roni were mostly being all sappy with one another here.

Now with the title this episode had, it really could've strayed into the dumb side of things too heavily but fortunately, I think they held it back rather nicely. I also liked that the plot with the Scant Queen also saw the returns of both the Beard Hunter and Willoughby Kipling for good measure. The latter though had a slightly more interesting part with the Niles side of things than the main plot though.

Speaking of Niles though, he left Dorothy in space, came back to Yukon to look for Slava, only to encounter the Candlemaker and get a cryptic warning about the danger of Dorothy and that led to him striking a deal with Willoughby. Even when Niles is trying to prevent disaster, he still comes across as the absolute worst.

Meanwhile Cliff came crashing down to Earth (so glad they didn't just leave him floating in space for an episode), had problems moving his legs for a bit but on the plus side, it does seem like he made some progress with Clara while Rita got into her beekeeper role and even managed to save a guy from being mugged. Pretty good stuff with these two minor plots.

- Animal-Vegatable-Mineral-Man popped as a billboard, promoting his book, My Side, which got glowing reviews from Kite Man and Gerard Way.
- While Mr Nobody didn't appear in the episode, we did manage to get a nice reference to Alan Tudyk's work on the Harley Quinn TV series thanks to the Beard Hunter.
- Dorothy didn't appear in this episode and it's the second one this season, apart from Pain Patrol that wasn't heavily focused on her.
- Chronology: Not long from where Space Patrol left off.

Dumb Patrol might have slightly dumbed down some of our main characters this week for plot purposes but the episode was anything but dumb. I enjoyed the main plot and the smaller plots with Niles, Rita and Cliff also worked a treat as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, July 23, 2020

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 6x15: "Stay"

Written  by Pete Nowalk
Directed by Stephen Cragg

Annalise (to the jury): "Who I am is a 53 year old woman from Memphis, Tennessee named Anna Mae Harkness. I'm ambitious, black, bisexual, angry, sad, strong, sensitive, scared, fierce, talent, exhausted and I am at your mercy."

Six seasons, 90 episodes, an unlikely chance of a movie (had to throw in that Community reference) and it came to this. I could've quoted that entire courtroom speech but the tail end really drove home everything we've known about Annalise over the last six seasons.

I don't think it's a shock that Annalise got off free and nor is it a bad thing. In spite of her cover ups, she's never killed a single person on the show and she certainly didn't deserve prison. Annalise's empowered speech along with several things falling into place (Nate's change of heart, a certain flashdrive and Wes's testimony falling into her hands) all played their part along with the jury showing mercy as well.

Annalise being free though didn't mean there weren't consequences for everyone else. Someone important had to die in this last episode and it seemed only appropriate that both Frank and Bonnie would end up dead trying to protect Annalise and each other. Their deaths got to me, but at the same time I don't hold it against the show for doing it.

As for Connor - he came close to avoiding actual prison time but his conscience got the better of him and he refused to let Oliver go against Annalise. A good thing as Annalise would've eviscerated Oliver on the stand. It's also nice to see that the relationship survived as the last few minutes pushed things into the far future.

Michaela on the other hand - she avoided prison time, but lost her friendships even if she did go on to have a career and children. Not much was revealed about Laurel post trial, but it seems that Alfred Enoch was playing an older Christopher after all and he ended up assuming Annalise's former position with a lovely last scene that echoed the first ever scene of the scene.

The flashforward method seems to have become a very popular series finale staple since Six Feet Under did it back in 2005 and while some of the makeup on the cast looked dodgy, the funeral scenes for Annalise (who lived a mostly good life, post trial, even having Tegan at some point) were beautifully done.

I'm glad that we got to see the likes of Ophelia, Celestine and Eve once more in the series and while I wished the show had properly gone there with Annalise and Tegan, I am glad that they stayed in each others lives. I'm not gonna lie, I did tear up a little during the final few scenes. Annalise might have been a messy character, but isn't that why we loved her so much? Viola Davis nailed this role from start to finish.

- Apparently there was meant to be a scene with Asher in this episode, but it was cut for time.
- We didn't find out what happened with Gabriel after he took the money Frank gave him. Both Nate and Tegan were at the funeral but their scenes were also cut.
- Standout music: Matt Maeson's Dancing After Death during the last moments of this episode.
- Chronology: A three day period over the trial scenes before jumping over thirty years into the future for Annalise's funeral.

Stay definitely has earned a place for me as one of the strongest series finale I've seen on. It's not new in terms of it's use of flashforwards, but it's affecting in the right moments and offered a more than satisfying conclusion to this show, with all it's imperfections and twists and turns. Ending it here was the right thing to do. It's been an interesting journey but this is the perfect end for it.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 6x14: "Annalise Keating Is Dead"

Written by Sarah L. Thompson & Tess Leibowitz
Directed by John Terlesky

Bonnie: "Frank, Hannah. She and Sam had a baby. A boy."

We're at the second last ever episode of this series and things really went up a good few notches here. I just knew that there would have to be a surprise obstacle to come Annalise's way at her trial and I also knew that when it looked like things were going to go her way, something would go horribly wrong.

Surprise obstacle number one being the return of Laurel, who Langford also had in mind to testify against Annalise along with Connor and Michaela. Laurel betraying Annalise was less surprising than Connor and Michaela if we're being honest here. It's also not surprising that she'd use Christophe to justify her actions, which Michaela had no problem calling out.

Of course, it didn't take too much for Annalise to actually get to Laurel and have the latter come to her way of thinking and by doing that, not only did we see Connor and Michaela fall apart on the stand but they also quickly turned on one another when Michaela let slip she got a better deal. Looks like Connor will be going to jail after all then.

The trial itself was a highlight of the episode. From Annalise's preparation on how to present herself to a jury of her peers to the fact that she was forced to represent herself when Tegan got her struck off the case. I know how this ends for Annalise but right now, it's not looking good for her.

Her hopes of getting Hannah on side clearly went to hell the moment Bonnie confessed to Frank about his true parentage. Annalise believed that Hannah's "suicide" was at the behest of Birkhead but it's looking very likely that either Frank or Gabriel (the latter being furious with Michaela's lies on the stand). I'm going with Frank on this one as it's still too late in the day to try and make audiences give a damn about Gabriel.

- I can't believe ABC allowed Viola Davis to say "assholes" in this episode. That made the episode feel a little naughtier.
- Nate manipulated Jorge into going against Birkhead while Xavier's body was discovered. Tegan really wasn't holding back on her big old crush on Annalise either.
- Standout music: Chris Garneau's Little While.
- Chronology: Not long from where the previous episode left off. Laurel has also been living in Brooklyn for a year.

Annalise Keating Is Dead - maybe, maybe not, at least not yet. This episode definitely packed a punch with the opening scene, all the trial bits and the final moment. I can't believe there's one more episode. I'm gonna miss this crazy but I don't doubt the last one will hit the hardest.

Rating: 9 out of 10