Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Eastenders - Ben Mitchell Regenerates (Again)

Ah, it's been a while since I've done a soap blog and once again, it's an EastEnders one. This time, it seems we've got another character returning in Kate Oates's era but not one I was particularly keen on seeing again to be candid.

Despite departing in January 2018 with Harry Reid in the role after four years, it seems that Ben Mitchell will be back in the Spring of 2019, this time around played by Max Bowden (Waterloo Road). Going by the press release, it seems Ben's return will coincide with Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) and daughter Lexi as Kate Oates seems determined to rebuild/expand upon some family units in Albert Square as her tenure takes place from next month onwards, with executive producer Jon Sen. Other returns include a brief stint for Sean Slater (Robert Kazinsky) as well as the introduction of Masood's (Nitin Ganatra) nieces, Habiba Ahmed (Rukku Nahar) and Iqra Ahmed (Priya Davdra).

In the space of 23 years and now taking Bowden's casting into account, the character of Ben Mitchell has been played by six different actors with Matthew Silver and Morgan Whittle playing him as a baby and an infant while Charlie Jones (2006-2010) and Joshua Pascoe (2010-2012) played the character as a kid/teenager before Harry Reid (2014-2018) assumed the role as adult Ben.

I've got to admit that I think Ben Mitchell is one of the worst gay characters ever to befall a soap with some of the most dreadful storylines (coming out and going back into the closet, relationship with Abi, killing Heather, his general sociopathic tendencies etc) and his last two significant relationships - Paul Coker (Jonny Labey) and Luke Browning (Adam Astill) both left a lot to be desired. A recast is one thing but in order for Ben to possibly work as a character, a serious overall of the character in general is somewhat needed.

Going by some of the statements in the press release, perhaps we might finally get a version of Ben that audiences can actually root. Kate Oates has a good record with LGBT characters, being somewhat responsible for Robert Sugden (Ryan Hawley) and Aaron Dingle (Danny Miller) in Emmerdale and Kate Connor (Faye Brooks) and Rana  Habeeb (Bhavna Limbachia) in Coronation Street and EastEnders has been sorely lacking in some decent LGBT content in a long while. Maybe just maybe along with her plans to have a gay bar on Albert Square, Ben's imminent return as well as Bernadette Taylor (Clair Norris) recently coming out and both Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy) and Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White), this might be the turnaround we need.

Still, though Max Bowden's casting must set a record for the amount of recasts one soap character can actually have. Here's hoping this time, the show can finally get the character right.

Press Release: https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-46947232

Thoughts on the recast, anyone?

Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 5x09: "He Betrayed Us Both"

Written by Daniel Robinson
Directed by John Terlesky

Eve (re Sam): "He never deserved you, Annalise."

Of all the characters to bring back in this episode, Eve undoubtedly was the most welcome of returns. I loved the character back in the second season and her brief appearance in the third season was also good. With Annalise at a particular low point here, Eve's return couldn't be any more welcome.

This episode picked up from where the mid-season finale left off as Annalise and Gabriel confronted each other on the latter being Sam's son. I mentioned in my last review that I felt this storyline was something that should've been done about two seasons ago. I stand by that assertion as the episode raked over Wes killing Sam yet again with Gabriel wanting more answers on his father's death.

While Gabriel told Annalise that he just wanted to get to know her, a later conversation with an unknown person the other end of a phone call clearly indicated otherwise. Then there's everyone else reacting to the news of Gabriel being Sam's offspring with the usual predicted reaction. I have to admit Oliver's quip made me shudder a little, and I'm glad the episode actually had Oliver acknowledge that he might have overstepped with that comment too.

As for the rest of the episode, boy, was this flashback heavy or what? Specifically, Season 2 flashback heavy as Annalise and Sam dealt with the aftermath of losing their son and nearly coming to blows when Annalise considered adopting Christophe while the loss of one son encouraged Sam to try and reach out to another.

It's not shocking that Sam was aware of Gabriel's existence or that he even wanted a relationship with him and Vivian. What is shocking the more we get flashbacks with Sam is how the hell his marriage with Annalise lasted as long as it did. Did the two of them ever love each other at all? It really doesn't seem like it. I do wonder if it's deliberate every time Sam appears in flashback if the writers try to make him more and more unsympathetic and that's in spite of his 'heartfelt' letter trying to reach out to Vivian about Gabriel that thanks to Eve, Annalise is now privy too.

In the present day, Bonnie spent most of her time brooding over the aftermath of Miller's death, which Frank has now become involved in, much to Nate's annoyance. I'll admit between flashbacks and present day stuff, both Bonnie and Frank had some pretty great moments in this episode as the latter also reassured the Keating 5 that Gabriel isn't dead for now. I say for now because there's a chance he might not make it out of the season alive.

- Connor is still mad that Asher copped off with his mother. Asher and Michaela even seemed to be getting a little closer in this one too.
- She might have played a role in her boyfriend's death but Bonnie is a generous tipper, so there's that going in her favour.
- No Tegan or Emmett again this time, but I'm sure they'll be back next week along with the governor storyline.
- Chronology: From where the mid season finale left off.

This was a pretty enjoyable episode. Arguably He Betrayed Us Both did feel a little too flashback heavy for it's own good (some of the scenes could've been trimmed) but in between some great emotional scenes, petty sniping and Eve's welcomed return, this was a pretty engaging episode nonetheless.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, January 18, 2019

Batman 66 - Episodes 105-108 Reviews

This time around we've got a three parter that takes place out of Gotham while Catwoman returns to slay the competition.

3x11: The Londinium Larcenies

It's rare for the show to take the action out of the city and for the second time in the show's three season run, we're in three part territory with a story that I'm going to be candid here, I'm not keen on. Aside from the fact that this story doesn't engage me enough to take over three episodes, I just don't greatly care for the villains of the piece - brother and sister act, Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (Rudy VallĂ©e) and Lady Penelope Peasoup (Glynis Johns), who when they're not running a finishing school for lady thieves headed by their niece Prudence, are also out to steal the crown jewels as well. There's also the likes of Chuckingham Palace, Ireland Yard, Tower of Londinium etc to get one's head around as the Dynamic Duo, Barbara/Batgirl, Alfred and Commissioner Gordon all find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. I also can't unsee that homage to Ringo courtesy of Dick at the beginning of this one too. 6/10

3x12: The Foggiest Notion

The middle part of this not so thrilling three part saga and it's a bit of a lacklustre affair. Batman gets himself tied up by a group of thugs at an East End so that Ffogg can briefly wipe away his memory while Robin and Batgirl find themselves at the mercy of both Prudence and Penelope at different points in the story. Robin even gets a moment where both him and Batman are nearly about to be stretched with a little help from the Londinium bridge as part of the cliffhanger for this particular episode. 5/10

3x13: The Bloody Tower

The ending to this disappointing three parter has a brief appearance from Aunt Harriet (who due to ill health in real life was only a guest star this season), Batgirl chained up for most of the episode as well as Robin getting mauled by Prudence's finishing school ladies when he wasn't near death's door over a beesting while Ffogg and Penelope's overall scheme to steal the crown jewels was undone by the end of this episode. While it was nice to experiment and take the action out of Gotham, this at best would've worked a single part story. I don't think it was engaging enough to have had three episodes dedicated to it and I just didn't find the main villains that fun compared to others. 6/10

3x14: Catwoman's Dressed To Kill

After a rather dull three parter, this was a welcomed return to form. If Gotham can give us three versions of Poison Ivy, this show did two better with three versions of Mr Freeze and now, Catwoman. Following Julie Newmar and briefly Lee Meriwether, it was time for a new Princess of Plunder and who better than Eartha Kitt to assume the role for five episodes this season? Tonally, she's different to her predecessors and while I am disappointed Catwoman's flirtation with Batman is toned down, the antagonism with her and Batgirl is pretty amusing, especially as the latter nearly became a pinafore until Alfred stepped in. Kitt is just superb in this role and I would've loved to have seen more of her, had the show gotten a fourth season. The plot with stealing Queen Bess golden fleece is amusing enough and there's a nice cameo appearance from fashion designer, Rudolf Gernreich in this overall stylish adventure. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into The Ogg Couple, The Funny Feline Felonies/The Joke's on Catwoman and Louie's Lethal Lilac Time.

My Review of Gotham's 5x03: "Penguin, Our Hero"

Written by Tze Chun
Directed by Rob Bailey

Ecco: "Oh, Puddin' aren't you delicious?"
Selina: "Don't call me Puddin'."
Ecco: "There you go, Selina. I knew you had it in you. All it took was a little kick in the pants."

Okay, the episode might have been named after Penguin and maybe it took up the A plot of this one but the trailers and promotional pictures have been more centred on Selina and Ecco (maybe but probably not Harley) and their meeting here was without a doubt the highlight of this whole episode to boot.

Ivy warned Bruce last week that Selina would be changed forever by the root if she ingested it and this episode didn't waste time in showing us just how changed Selina has become. She's got her mobility back and she didn't waste time in getting Bruce to help her seek out Jeremiah by taking a trip to the Dark Zone this week in order to smoke him out.

For those hoping for an appearance of Jeremiah, you won't get it here but he is back next week though. However, while Selina didn't get her newly acquired claws on Jeremiah, she did however manage to infiltrate his church with Bruce for an entertaining and deadly one on one with Ecco, which also featured a brief spell of Russian Roulette to boot.

Speaking of Ecco - so far, she's had a little in the way of dialogue so it's been a little hard to completely judge Francesca Root-Dodson's acting but odd choice with a Southern drawl for the character to one side, she seemed pretty decent going head to head with Camren Bicondova during their scenes together. I still don't really know what makes Ecco tick beyond her slavish devotion to Jeremiah but there's some semblance of a "backstory" when she revealed to Selina that she's got a bullet dangling in her head though.

The fight scenes with Selina and Ecco and the latter using a choice word were fantastic, some of the best choreographed we've had on the show but due to Bruce's intervention, Ecco was allowed to slip away and Selina vowed to do things her way, which probably means Jeremiah is going to wind up with some scratches on his face, even if/when Selina fails to actually kill him.

Speaking of failed kills, Barbara's second attempt this season to bump off Oswald was yet again intercepted by Jim, as the latter went from a feud with Oswald at Haven to banding together and working with him in order to take out a gang that Oswald himself brought to the sanctuary. All because most of Oswald's staff, including Mr Penn and even Edward the dog abandoned him for Haven, which Oswald didn't like one bit.

By now, Oswald should've learned the lesson that not treating people like crap might get them to be more loyal but as Penn told him before dying "everyone hated you." Somehow even with the Haven residents singing his praises will Oswald actually take this lesson on board. Then again, this episode also ended up with Haven being blown up and that poor kid Jim bonded with also being killed. At this rate, it's got to be either Jeremiah or the government pulling this kind of stunt.

- This episode was certainly gorier than usual (even for this show) with that man's body slashed to ribbons with the words "kill" on it.
- Nice to see that while Selina got her claws in this episode, Bruce also had his grappling hook. Almost surprised we didn't see Ecco with a mallet but that's coming soon. Her gown also had some Harley-esque colours to it.
- We were missing Alfred, Lucius, Nygma and Leslie this week. No one seemed to be that concerned about the latter. I also liked Barbara and Bullock mulling over the old days during one scene here.
- Chronology: Not long from where Trespassers left off.

Penguin, Our Hero certainly wins points for goriness and the electrifying scenes with Selina and Ecco along with Gordon and Oswald's billionth alliance, but I'm surprised that they didn't try to get a little more out of the Haven plot before blowing the place to smithereens though. Other than that, strongest episode so far this season.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, January 11, 2019

Batman 66 - Episodes 101-104 Reviews

Settling into this third and final season, we've got a flower themed villain (but not the one you want), another team up and a surfing competition to behold.

3x07: Louie The Lilac

In 1966, DC comics created a wonderful character named Poison Ivy, who we all know has an affinity and control over plants. In 1967, the third season of this show instead of adopting Ivy into the series (which would've been great) decided to create a similar but male equivalent to Ivy with purple wearing, flower influenced gangster, Louis The Lilac (Milton Berle) who even managed to get the Dynamic Duo nearly eaten by a man eating Lilac while trying to make a deadly name for himself in the perfume industry. Eventually Louie and Poison Ivy would meet in the comics and I do think had this show gotten a fourth season, the latter would've appeared on it. As for this episode, it's pretty nifty with Louie being another strong original villain, not to mention the delightful team up with Alfred and Batgirl to boot. 8/10

3x08: The Ogg And I

In the previous season, this show introduced us to one of their best original character with Egghead (Vincent Price) and knowing that he was a clear success, decided to bring him back for another two part adventure. This time though, he's joined by Russian royalty, Olga - the latter played by Anne Baxter who previously played Zelda in the first season. In this story, they kidnap Commissioner Gordon and our terrific trio work together to try and rescue Gordon, only to come afoul of some rather effective tear gas. The episode also boasted Olga wanting to marry both Batman and Egghead while Robin and Gordon nearly became a pot roast in this enjoyably madcap episode. 8/10

3x09: How To Hatch A Dinosaur

Keeping with the madcap zaniness of the first part of this story, the second part certainly doesn't let things up either. The idea of Egghead and Olga stealing a giant egg with the hope of awakening a Neosaurus is delightfully bonkers and for a scant moment, I actually thought their plan was going to be a resounding success. A little part of me was slightly disappointed to see that it was Batman only pretending to be the extinct dinosaur in order to scare Olga and Egghead into surrendering themselves to O'Hara but it still made for a rather funny scene. Similarly funny was the balancing Alfred had this episode with giving both Batman/Robin and then Batgirl the same information without either group knowing that he was working for the other. 8/10

3x10: Surf's Up! Joker's Under!

Last episode there was the threat of a dinosaur actually popping up, so I thought the zaniness quota for this season was met but apparently not. In this surfing themed episode, the Joker used a device to steal all the surfing abilities out of Barbara's friend, Skip while his minion briefly turned the Dynamic Duo into surfing boards. Then there was the fact that both Batman and Joker took part in a surfing competition, as observed by Buzzy and Duke (aka Gordon/O'Hara undercover rather unconvincingly I might add). Episode wise, this is definitely one of the most memorable episodes for the Joker. His best, I'm not sure but definitely one of his most memorable though. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into The Londinium Larcenies/The Foggiest Notion/The Bloody Tower and Catwoman's Dressed To Kill.

My Review of Gotham's 5x02: "Trespassers"

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by Louis Shaw Milito

Ivy: "What's the matter, Bruce? Don't know if you can trust me."
Bruce: "I don't."
Ivy: "Good. Then you're finally becoming a man."

If there's one thing Gotham can never have enough of, it's Poison Ivy. I know the continuous casting changes have been a bug bear for fans and rightly so but after the three episodes arc we had in the latter half of the fourth season where Peyton List really went to town as everyone's favourite plant lady, it would've been a crime not to have factored Ivy into the final season.

With No Man's Land, Ivy had a specific arc that involved her looking after children in Robinson's Park, while also being imprisoned by Clayface with the lack of sunlight and salt. At least some of this arc surfaced in this episode as Ivy was unsurprisingly revealed to be "the witch" and Bruce found that a group of frightened men were keeping Ivy captive with the intention of burning her later on. Though why they didn't do it to begin beggars belief if they felt she was such a danger to them.

Of course, Ivy was a danger to them as she had been growing out the park by feeding and killing men to it and when Bruce released her from her cell, Ivy's first response was to murder her captors and threaten Bruce's life while also expressing a lack of sympathy for Selina's current predicament. Of course, Bruce didn't take this lying down and eventually won Ivy around into helping her.

This is the one thing I've liked about Ivy's depiction on this show. While she's capable of committing bad acts and killing mostly men with little concern, she does have a pet cause with her plants and Bruce's comments about her "work in progress" certainly struck a chord with her. Despite her anger towards Selina, she still cares enough for her friend to try and help her with a magical plant covered in human blood while also warning Bruce that ingesting it will do more than heal Selina as well.

Needless to say, despite the one moment where it looked like Selina was going to die after ingesting the plant, it only went and cured her of her paralysis. Not only that but the last scene saw Selina's eyes going a little cat like and if the promotional material wasn't enough of an indicator, it seem that next week's episode will be pushing her into Catwoman territory as she goes after Jeremiah for revenge. I also liked the way Selina told Bruce and Alfred about her friendship with Ivy. With the latter confirmed for at least one more episode this season, I do hope we get to see at least one more interaction between Selina and Ivy before the show concludes for good.

As for the rest of the episode, it's not quite as good as the Bruce/Selina/Ivy scenes but there was enough to keep things ticking over. Gordon and Bullock and a begrudging Barbara worked to rescue children from an annoying gang of Soothsayers while another gang also tried (and failed) to collect on the bounty for Gordon. Plot wise, it's not very engaging but it does score some points for Barbara's inclusion and the introduction of the Haven area of Gotham, which I imagine won't be a safe place for much longer if we're being honest here.

Last but not least, there's also the Edward plot of the episode. This week he had a biker bound and gagged in his bathtub and they both discovered that the Penguin took out the biker's gang, so it looks like we've got something of an odd (and probably brief) friendship as Nygma continues to try and figure out what's been happening to him. Plot wise, I do hope they solve this one pretty sharpish and that Ed sorts out his hair too.

- Ivy's costume looked pretty comic book accurate to me and even Peyton List's hair looked a little redder than last time.
- We got some continuity on the Mother/Orphan plot from last season but seeing as they both got away, it looks like it's not done just yet.
- No Oswald or Leslie this week in terms of our regular cast. Then again, next week's episode is named after the former so he'll be back soon.
- Chronology: Not too long since the events of Year Zero.

Trespassers is elevated by the Bruce/Ivy/Selina scenes as the middle made a much welcomed return and the latter has finally stepped into her infamous persona but the Gordon and Nygma subplots, though not bad certainly felt like filler at times and with twelve episodes this season, we don't really have time for that. Other than that, still a pretty enjoyable episode.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, January 04, 2019

Batman 66 - Episodes 97-100 Reviews

Settling into the third season, we've got two new female antagonists, more Penguin and two incidents where the Dynamic Duo's identities nearly became known.

3x03: The Wail Of The Siren

Getting Joan Collins for this show must have been a coup at the time and here, she's bloody fantastic as the seductive Siren. The Siren's overall plans in this one are also pretty solid and nearly successful to boot. She managed to get Commissioner Gordon to sneak into the Batmobile and get into the Batcave and she nearly cleaned Bruce Wayne out of his fortune. What didn't go her way was the rather effective team up with Robin and Batgirl who managed to undo her overall great schemes. It's a pity this was the only time we got to see the character, but at least it was a memorable episode for her. 8/10

3x04: The Sport Of Penguins

After appearing in the opening and briefly in the previous one, it kind of feels like we've gotten a bit too much of the Penguin too early in the third season. This time around, he's working with Lola Lasagna (another one off female baddie) in some daft scheme involving horses while also still smarting from being jilted by Barbara Gordon. The team up with Penguin and Lola to one side, it's not the most exciting of episodes but it's the first time in the season we're back to multi part stories though. 6/10

3x05: A Horse Of Another Color

A somewhat better second half to this two parter, only for the fact that we get to see Penguin and Batgirl actually race each other along with an undercover Dick, sporting a dodgy Spanish accent that even Lola doesn't seem too bothered to not find suspicious at any point. Much as I like the Penguin as a character (and found his growing vendetta towards Barbara to be childishly amusing), I do wonder if this story would've been somewhat better had Lola just been the main villain or if she had been paired up with another baddie for example. Still though, at least this segment made it a little more interesting. 7/10

3x06: The Unkindest Tut Of All

Three episodes ago, we had Commissioner Gordon close to exposing the Dynamic Duo's identities and within this episode, we also had King Tut doing the same thing. When he wasn't making prophecies come true, he was also trying (and failing to prove) that Bruce Wayne was Batman while also referencing a few other baddies and getting a meeting of his own with Batgirl. There's also an amusing subplot where Bruce and Barbara are seemingly set up on a date by the latter's father and to be honest, it's as awkward and as forced as any Bruce/Barbara pairing has ever been. Even in the 60's, DC tried (and failed) to make this a thing. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into Louie the Lilac, The Ogg and I/How to Hatch a Dinosaur and Surf's Up! Joker's Under!

My Review of Gotham's 5x01: "Year Zero"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Danny Cannon

Gordon: "Fire on my command .... for Gotham!"

It's been eight months since the ending of the show's fourth season and back for a shortened fifth and final season, things really kicked off in style as the No Man's Land storyline took hold over the show. The city is in dire straits, various baddies have marked their territories and the government have no desire to help out the struggling Gotham either.

We open with a nifty look into the future as Gordon, Bullock, Oswald and Edward band together to defend the city, then we go back quite a bit to when things weren't so uniting with these four characters in particular. For Edward though, he was mostly waking up in strange places, trying to figure out what was happening to him but with the rest of them, there was a case of business as usual.

It's not so shocking that Oswald would become something of a tyrant when assuming the power he did, but even here, we saw him literally overindulging in food, feeding his adorable pet dog, Edward some overcooked meat while his workers looked like they were going to drop dead from hunger and exhaustion alone. After all these years, Oswald really hasn't learned a single thing about loyalty or giving people incentives other than intimidation and fear.

The funny thing is that while he's been living the high life of the current disaster that the city has become, he also has spent a great deal indoors, seemingly to avoid being killed by Tabitha as payback for Butch. Now had the show gotten 22 episodes again for it's final year, I imagine this storyline would've gone on for a bit longer, but here it's rather abruptly ended as Oswald managed to best Tabitha and kill her off for good.

I've not been the greatest fan of Tabitha as a character but as deaths go, this one was rather anticlimactic and rushed. As for Barbara, I really do hope the writers have more to offer than an inevitable to fail revenge plan because if Tabitha couldn't kill Oswald, then Barbara certainly doesn't stand a chance in doing so either. Saying that though, Oswald could do with another lose on his hands, other than Gordon getting to shoot him in the kneecaps, which he totally deserved here.

Speaking of Gordon, he's been doing the best he can in a dire situation. He's done his best to keep the peace at bay, to try and stop divisions among residents currently starving and even working with Bullock and Bruce for some temporary solutions. We even got a rather neat if brief fight scene with Jim and the Scarecrow as the latter was stealing medical supplies.

As for Bruce - well, the training is coming in handy and he did help Gordon and Bullock gain an advantage over Oswald, but mostly his scenes were with Selina as the latter struggled to cope with her paralysis this week. Of course with the scene of Selina trying to kill herself being the most harrowing thing from the episode, Bruce soon became persuaded by that weird nurse to seek out the witch. Given the synopsis and guest cast for next week's episode, let's just say our "witch" is likely to be a little green fingered.

- With the exception of Leslie, all the regulars for this season were somewhat accounted for.
- Ecco briefly appeared in this episode in her Mummer costume, longer hair and left a message for Gordon, in case he forgot that Jeremiah wasn't an ongoing problem for everyone. Jaime Murray was also in the credits but was only heard in a brief moment with Gordon rather than seen. The producers haven't revealed much about her character so far.
- If the title wasn't a clue, this season seems to be incorporating parts of the Zero Year arc as well.
- Chronology: Flash forwards was 391 days into this arc, but the majority of the episode took place on Day 87.

Year Zero certainly didn't waste time in showing us the absolute shit show the city has become in the wake of Jeremiah's actions and the consequences are definitely interesting so far. While Tabitha's death lacked a certain oomph and I greatly don't care about Barbara's thirst for revenge (you're gonna fail, Babs), this is a great start to the final season and with the trailer giving us a very distinctive image of Bruce's Dark Knight future, I am going to miss this show when it ends.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, January 03, 2019

My Review of Doctor Who's 11x11: "Resolution"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Wayne Yip

Recon Dalek: "Who are you? Identify."
The Doctor: "Oh mate, I'm the Doctor. Ring any bells?"

After ten episodes of no returning monsters, it was long past time for Jodie Whittaker's Doctor to finally meet something from her past and the return of the Daleks (or just a single Dalek) was the very thing the show needed. Now if only Chris Chibnall hadn't been so grudgingly half hearted in actually promoting the return of the show's most enduring enemy.

Granted, the last time we saw a Dalek, it was Rusty in Twice Upon A Time but given that Series 11 has been clamouring for something familiar, this return felt needed even more than ever. So, was the wait actually worth it? Well, kind of. There's no doubt that this was a Dalek story but it was also a rather unusual take on one too.

The opening sequence decided to lift off Justice League by having three groups in the ninth century encounter a single Dalek, hack it to bits and then bury it in three different spots instead of just killing the thing altogether. In present day Sheffield, archaeologists Mitch (Nikesh Patel) and Lin (Charlotte Ritchie) uncovered one essential part of the Dalek and for the latter it resulted in fatal enough consequences.

Now I love a good bit of possession acting and this show can be a treat with it too, so there was something rather delightfully twisted in seeing poor Lin taken over by the Dalek and going on a one woman mission to get the remaining bits while bumping off various extras along the way and getting into a bit of a verbal spat with the Doctor before the Dalek actually managed to reassemble itself from various bits of scrap.

The design of the Dalek for this episode isn't great but it's not quite the disaster area that a previous other design was either. Saying that though, it took far too long for the Dalek to actually get it's body back (despite the great possession acting from Charlotte Ritchie's Lin) and while there was an impressive enough body count of extras, I can't help but feel this episode would've benefited from killing someone a little closer to home if we're being honest here.

For example, towards the end of the episode, the Dalek managed to take Ryan's father, Aaron (Daniel Adegboyega) captive at one point and there was a moment where I thought he was going to end up a dead man, only for the Doctor to send the Dalek into a supernova instead. Speaking of Aaron, it was inevitable that we were going to meet him and while I didn't mind some of his scenes with Ryan, I did feel a lot of them dragged out and delayed a lot of the action here.

Saying that though, the Doctor and Dalek scenes were some of the strongest moments of this episode. Jodie Whittaker has been crying out for a proper threat to challenge her and make her up her game and having a Dalek back certainly saw her rise to the occasion here. Here's hoping we'll see more of this next series with more threatening new monsters and some returning ones.

As for the rest of the episode - remember how I've said that Yasmin has felt like a spare part at times? Well, this episode didn't change that. I do like her but the show seems to struggle to do anything meaningful with her while Graham had some decent moments, surrounding Ryan and Aaron and slightly being peeved about the Doctor smashing his favourite chair. With the extended delay for Series 12, I do hope Chibnall can balance out the companions better (or change up the dynamic).

- No title sequence again this week and along with the Daleks, Wayne Yip is also a returning element to the series, having previous directed The Lie Of The Land, Empress Of Mars and two episodes of Class.
- UNIT have apparently been disbanded courtesy of Brexit, but don't worry, there's always Big Finish for now.
- There's some nice mentions of Alfred the Great and Giuseppe Piazzi in this episode.
- Even the Doctor doesn't seem to know how long a rel actually is.
- That scene with the Daniels family reacting to the wifi being cut out was one of the strangest moments in the episode. Also, poor gay security guard Richard for being taken out by Dalek Lin. The romance with Mitch and Lin felt a bit forced.
- Chronology: New Year's Day 2019 for the present day stuff, as well as 9th Century Anuta Island, Siberia and Yorkshire.

Resolution marked an improvement on the extremely disappointing finale we had last month and while we've had arguably strong Dalek stories, this is certainly one of the more engaging ones to boot. Yes, it takes a while to get going and we certainly should've seen a more significant character bite the dust but other than that, I did enjoy this New Year's special quite a bit.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmas Cheer

My last blog for 2018 and a catch up of some of the programmes I've been watching over the last few weeks.

911: I've really enjoyed this show and it's reassuring to see that it's not fallen into the dreaded difficult second season syndrome some great shows have often become victim of. In the space of the last few episodes we've seen growing relationships between Bobby/Athena and Maddie/Chimney, a wonderful flashback episode for Hen, Buck rediscovering himself and moving on from Abby and more on Eddie's failed marriage along with the usual plethora of some rather crazy emergencies to boot. With the show due back in March and the arrival of Maddie's violent ex-husband, things certainly won't be boring in the latter half of this show's second year.

Arrow: Prior to the big crossover event, there was a mixed bag of episodes here. On one hand, this Oliver in prison storyline lasted far too long for it's own good but on the other hand, we finally saw Diaz get some just desserts, Stanley revealed himself to be a pyscho (and future problem for Oliver) and of course, Talia re-emerged as both a help and a hindrance to Oliver as well. There was also some fan service Olicity scenes for a certain segment of fans to enjoy, Diggle making a dangerous deal, more flash forwards which introduced Maya/Blackstar while the current day revealed that Oliver's half sister, Emiko is actually the new Green Arrow. The half sibling thing feels a little too late in the day for a show currently into it's seventh season but Emiko does seem promising as a character though.

Supergirl: Maybe I'm being harsh here but this is shaping up to be one of the worst seasons for the show. I don't have an issue with the show being political. It can work at times but the writing surrounding the issues it's trying to convey has been handled so poorly, it's often taking me out of the show. Agent Liberty has been one of the dullest villains going and the less said about Jimmy/Lena, the better to be honest. On the other hand, Manchester Black is a far more interesting and ruthless character, the show's handling of Nia's Dreamer future has been done rather nicely and there's still the Russian Supergirl plot in the latter half along with Lex Luthor being added into the mix to hopefully turn the season around.

The Flash: Overall, the first half of the show's fifth season has been pretty strong. Cicada is still a rather decent antagonist and the flashbacks expanding on his relationship with his niece do give him a bit of sympathy (only a bit) while the use of Rag Doll in one episode really makes me hope the character resurfaces again. The 100th episode while good, didn't feel quite as eventful as it should've done but the reveal of Nora working (unwittingly) with Reverse Flash was a decent twist and it's also nice to get more Barry/Iris scenes and Caitlin resuming her Killer Frost persona. I'm still finding Sherloque a little hit and miss and both Cisco and Ralph need a bit more to do.

The Good Place: Yeah, I'm about two seasons behind on this much discussed show but E4 finally bagged the rights to the show (currently on it's third season on NBC, renewed for a fourth year) and having watched the first three episodes, I get the hype. The show is forking brilliant with Kristen Bell giving a stellar performance as the wrongly brought to heaven, Eleanor and the supporting cast with the likes of Ted Danson and Jameela Jamil are rather good too. It's a lovely, feel good show and while I have a lot to catch up with, I'm definitely glad I finally tuned in though.

- James Mackay is the latest regular to exit the current season of Dynasty, though his character may return later in the season.
- Daredevil has also been cancelled by Netflix after three seasons. Don't be shocked when Jessica Jones and The Punisher are axed next.
- On the other hand, Netflix have renewed Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina for both third and fourth seasons. The second season will premiere in April 2019.
- The BBC's next Agatha Christie adaptation will be Death Comes As The End with Gwyneth Hughes taking over writing duties from Sarah Phelps.
- BBC3 will air a UK version of Drag Race next year. RuPaul will be a part of this version too.
- Bravo are planning a reboot of Queer As Folk with Russell T. Davies signed on as an executive producer.
- Titans second season will take the originally intended final episode from it's first season and retool as it's opening episode. The show will return in 2020.
- Beverly Hills 90210 is being revived again but this time with the original cast, though several members already appeared in the first reboot.
- Villanelle will battle with conscience in the upcoming second season of Killing Eve.
- Elementary will end with it's upcoming seventh season.