Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Planet Of The Daleks"

Written by Terry Nation
Directed by David Maloney

Supreme Dalek: “The Daleks are delayed, never defeated.”

For Jon Pertwee’s penultimate season, they certainly pulled out the stops. Multiple Doctors in the first story and the cavalcade of The Master, Ogrons and Daleks in the previous story. This one is a continuation of that and while it’s not as compelling as the previous one, it does have its moments.

Landing on Spiridon for instance. The Doctor was badly wounded in the last story and made an effort to alert the Time Lords about what the Daleks were getting up to. The problem was that even The Doctor’s endurance only lasts for so long and he found himself in a coma for a good part of the first episode.

Jo Grant can often get a bad rap for being ditzy but over the duration of her tenure, she has gotten somewhat better and better. Here, instead of sulking about The Doctor’s coma, she takes the risky initiative into stepping out on Spiridon’s world in order to try and get some help for her friend.

I know it’s not exactly the most extraordinary thing in the world to do because every companion would’ve done exactly the same thing but fair play to Jo nonetheless. By stepping out into the world, she might have gotten the misfortunate of being poisoned for a while but she also stepped things into gear.

The Thals that landed on Spiridon wouldn’t have met up with The Doctor as quickly if she didn’t alert them to his current condition and when it came to trying to defeat the Daleks, the likes of Taron, Rebac, Vaber, Codal and Latep certainly wouldn’t have gotten as far without his help.

In the last story, the Daleks were planning yet another crack at taking over the universe. Here there’s no Master or Ogrons for back breaking stuff or pithy commentary. Instead the mostly subjugated Spiridon residents are helping their new masters, despite one of them rebelling to save Jo’s life.

When Wester later wanted to talk to the Dalek in command, I had a feeling that he was about to give up The Doctor, Jo and the Thals for some reason or another. Instead he risked his life to infect a few Daleks but killed himself in the process. It was noble of him but also a little stupid in respect.

The Daleks usually have some great schemes in a lot of their stories and while planning to release a bacteria that would kill everything on Spiridon as well as ensuring that they themselves were immunised made sense, it didn’t come off as well for them. Spiridon as a planet could be as a good but with molten ice pools, why risk it?

Also because I have to point it out, but is this one of the few Dalek stories that both the pepper pots and The Doctor largely don’t interact with one another? There’s one or two little scenes but for six episodes, they’re rather few and far between. I kind of wanted some proper Doctor/Dalek dialogue.

Also while it seemed to have taken the longest of times to actually reveal the Daleks big plan, it also felt like it was resolved in seconds as well. Having 10,000 Daleks in suspended animated is pretty good temporary solution for halting an invasion, but wouldn’t finding some more explosives to destroy them while in that state also have been a good one?

In terms of the Daleks, even then the Supreme Dalek actually managed to escape and nearly got a lucky shot at The Doctor. I think it’s the first story I’ve seen with the Supreme Dalek and it’s certainly a stylish design that’s done for the Dalek in command. Too bad they waited until the last episode to bring it in. Some proper scenes with the Supreme Dalek and The Doctor would’ve done wonders for this story in all fairness.

As for the Thal characters, this is probably the strongest thing about the story. None of them felt like ciphers. While Vaber and Taron’s opposing views about using explosives got a little tiresome, it was sort of easy to see both sides of their arguments. Similarly it was also easy to see why Taron found his affection for Rebac problematic.

Also this story had some wonderful exchanges between The Doctor and scientist Codal on the nature of bravery as well. Out of all of the Thals, Codal was probably my favourite and I’m pretty glad he survived and while the Jo/Latep love thing was a little rushed, I did feel bad for the latter when Jo declined his invitation to Skaro. You’re probably doing the right thing there, Jo.

Also in “Planet Of The Daleks”

Given the title, I think it was a shame that this didn’t actually take place on Skaro. I suppose they needed certain plot devices though – serious cold, Spiridon invisibility, etc.

Taron: “There’s no such place as Earth. It’s just a name in our old legends. It doesn’t really exist.”
Jo: “Believe me it does.”

There’s a nice reference to Susan, Barbara and Ian and “The Daleks” in this story. That made me smile.

The Doctor: “You still don’t trust me?”
Taron: “Why should I? You come here out of nowhere and claim to be something of a legend.”
The Doctor: “Yes, I see your point but I am on your side.”

The Doctor: “There’s a considerable difference between courage and reckless stupidity you know.”

This is the second story in a row where The Doctor’s had to convince someone that he’s from a legend long ago.

Codal: “Well, the one thing we have got is time.”
The Doctor: “On the contrary my friend. The Daleks don’t intend to let us rot down here.”

Codal: “That little machine of yours has quite an effect.”
The Doctor: “Had quite an effect. Not anymore I’m afraid. You know for a man who abhors violence, I must say I took great satisfaction in doing that.”

Interesting method of escape with The Doctor and Thals using the hot air and some materials to rise themselves away from the Daleks.

The Doctor: “You know after this, I really must take up hot air ballooning. It really is most exhilarating.”
Rebac: “I’d prefer a rocket to take me off this planet.”

The Doctor (to Taron): “It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? When the hunted become the hunters.”

I must say I was impressed with Jo’s little way of pointing to Earth for The Doctor to take her home.

Dalek 1: “Who is he?”
Dalek 2: “He is the one known as The Doctor, the greatest enemy of the Daleks.”

The Doctor (to Taron): “When you get back to Skaro, you’ll be national heroes. Everybody will want to learn about your adventures. So be careful how you tell that story. Don’t glamorise it. Don’t make war sound like an exciting, thrilling game.”

This was released on DVD in October 2009 as part of Dalek War box set with “Frontier In Space”. There’s a really good commentary from Katy Manning, Prentis Hancock, Tim Preece, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks.

I don’t think you’ll ever get a genuinely awful Dalek story out there but you’ll certainly get ones that are stronger than others. “Planet Of The Daleks” has a lot going for it but it felt rather slight after the previous story and the following story definitely surpasses it as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

2009, That Was A Year

Best Show (UK): Torchwood. The first two seasons were fun but Season 3 certainly took the show to a new level.

Worst Show (UK): Big Brother 10. Thank God this shit is ending in 2010.

Best Show (US): True Blood. When I fall for a show, I fall hard and this I fell for.

Worst Show (US): 90210. More vacuous crap courtesy of CW.

Best Villain: The Master in Doctor Who. Closely followed by Maryann in True Blood.

Worst Villain: Danko in Heroes. Dullest too.

Best TV Death: Juliet Burke in Lost. Also tempted to say George in Grey's Anatomy too.

Worst TV Death: Tracy's not a death in Heroes. Edie in Desperate Housewives as well. She deserved something better.

Shocking TV Moment: The second season finale of Ashes To Ashes. Coma within a coma. The hell?

Sexiest Male On TV: Russell Tovey in Being Human. How can you not love George?

Sexiest Female On TV: Is it early to include Karen Gillan? Okay then, Anna Paquin from True Blood then.

Best Finale: Although I'm still watching it, I'm gonna say Doctor Who's The End Of Time two parter.

Yes, Kids Are Annoying: The Scavo twins in Desperate Housewives. Two years in a row.

Neither Use, Nor Ornament: Holly Harper and Ryan Lafferty in Brothers And Sisters. Take the hint, writers and do away with them already.

Good Reality TV: The Apprentice. Come on, it's the only thing in this genre I get into.

Bad Reality TV: Big Brother 10. At least it's ending.

Best Gay Couple: Kevin Walker/Scotty Wandall in Brothers And Sisters. Emily and Naomi from Skins come a close(ish) second.

Worst Gay Couple: Julia McNamara/Olivia Lord in Nip/Tuck. Look at the shitty way they killed off the latter as well.

Best Straight Couple: Jessica Hambry/Hoyt Fortenberry in True Blood. Genius idea and the most believable couple on the show.

Worst Straight Couple: Bree/Orson in Desperate Housewives. Talk about devolution in a big way.

Best Guest Appearance: John Simm on Doctor Who. Thank God the Master was the last big villain for David Tennant's last story.

Worst Guest Appearance: Lindsay Lohan in Ugly Betty. Dull.

Killed Too Soon: Jacob in Lost. Why introduce him to kill him off, guys?

Difficult Season: Heroes. Season Three failed to improve the show and Season Four seemingly isn't helping either.

Best Male Character: The Doctor in Doctor Who. I'm gonna miss his tenth incarnation while looking forward to his eleventh one.

Worst Male Character: Paul Ballard in Dollhouse. Boring character, even if the second season has made him slightly more tolerable.

Best Female Character: Tara Thornton in True Blood. Rutina Wesley is arguably the best actress on the show and it's hard not to love her character.

Worst Female Character: Claire Bennett in Heroes. I had to pick someone, didn't I? Maybe Katherine Mayfair from Desperate Housewives as well.

Most Improved Show: Lost. Season 5 was wonderful.

Least Improved Show: Nip/Tuck. Season 5 wasn't.

Best TV Partnership: The Doctor/Wilfred Mott in Doctor Who and Alex Drake/Gene Hunt in Ashes To Ashes.

Worst TV Partnership: Sean and Christian in Nip/Tuck. And I used to love their dynamic.

Best Use Of Music: Skins. This show fires on all cyclinders on that front.

HoYay Award: Doctor/Master in Doctor Who. Mind-tapping, bondage ahoy. You'd almost think David Tennant and John Simm would go gay for each other.

2010 Hopeful: Glee, which looks awesome.

I'll edit this later to include more stuff.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Doctor In Distress (Doctor Who New Year's Day Spoilers)

Things aren't looking good for our Time Lord, are they? Last spoiler for this era, I swear.

The Doctor (David Tennant) finds himself tied up and gagged in the same way that his old friend endured in the previous episode. Interesting exchange in a scene that was shown on Alan Carr's Chatty Man last night.

Master: Tell me. Where's your TARDIS?
Doctor: You could be so wonderful
Master: Where is it?
Doctor: You're a genius, you're stone-cold brilliant, you are. I swear you really are, but you could be so much more, you could be beautiful, with a mind like that, we could travel the stars. It would be my honour, because you don't need to own the universe, just see it. You have the privilege to see the whole and time and space. That's ownership enough.
Master: Would it stop then? The noise in my head?
Doctor: I can help
Master: I don't know what I would be without that noise.
Doctor: Wonder what I'd be without you.
Master: Yeah

Doctor in bondage, the slashiest piece of dialogue ever. Why isn't it Friday? Also officially my favourite quote from RTD's era.

The Master (John Simm) seems pretty happy to have his best enemy in captivity. But can the Doctor actually appeal to his better nature? Does the Master even have any? There's certainly something more to these two than before. There's history and something tells me they're both gonna bear the brunt of the Time Lords return.

Wilfed Mott (Bernard Cribbins) - that man would break your heart. The scenes where he tells the Doctor that he doesn't want him to die, telling him to kill the Master first. This is not going to be an easy episode to watch on Friday.

Our Lord President (Timothy Dalton doesn't like people speaking out against him). Well, we can definitely assume that he's anything but benovelent, then.

The Doctor gets quite the bashing in this episode that it feels like epic Doctor Whump. Tied up, bruised and I'm gonna assume that the regeneration is going to be an enforced one. Time Lord superior are sort of spiteful in that way.

I've also just realised that if you count all the specials as Series 4, then David Tennant's last season has a good few things in common with Colin Baker's first.

- Daleks/Davros (Revelation Of The Daleks, The Stolen Earth/Journey's End/The Waters Of Mars/The End Of Time)
- Cybermen (Attack Of The Cybermen/The Next Doctor)
- The Master/Other Time Lords (The Mark Of The Rani/The Doctor's Daughter/The End Of Time)
- Multi-Doctor Stories (The Two Doctors/Journey's End/The End Of Time)
- Multi-Companions (The Two Doctors/The Stolen Earth/Journey's End/The End Of Time)
- Sontarans (The Two Doctors/The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky).

Give Or Take

Doctor/Master Scene:
David Tennant Interview:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Skins - Season 4 Cast Shots 1

Only three and a half weeks to go and the promo pictures are coming in for the show's fourth season.

The main cast back again for a second time. However if this show gets a fifth season, there will be a new cast, meaning our only original member Effy will also be gone.

Effy Stonem (Kaya Scodelario). Last season she was lumbered with either Cook or Freddie. Now that she's seemingly chosen one of them, hopefully more interesting storylines are afoot.

Freddie Mclair (Luke Pasqualino) - probably the blandest character from the new batch, so hopefully he'll get more interesting during the fourth season.

Naomi Campbell (Lily Loveless) and Emily Fitch (Kathryn Prescott). They became probably the most successful and interesting couple in the third season and some spoiler pictures from earlier heavily suggests that they'll get more to do.

Pandora Moon (Lisa Backwall) and Katie Fitch (Megan Prescott) - potential partners in crime? Pandora was given some other than being Effy's sidekick and Katie's seemingly capable of being more than a run of the mill teen bitch, so Season 4 could bode for development for these two. Also look out for appearances from Pauline Quirke and Will Young this season.

Season 4 airs on E4, Thursdays 10pm from January 21st 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yes, They're All Back (Massive Doctor Who New Year's Day Spoilers)

It's been a while but trying to find decent caps for The End Of Time Part 2 has been surprisingly difficult. But I found them. Thanks to

Given the bonkers ending of Part 1 - everyone's the Master and the Time Lords are all back, what the hell is gonna happen next?

Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), even in peril and being surrounded by Masters, she's still beginning to realise that she's important. I could understand her reduced role in Part 1 but surely she's going to play a bigger role in the New Year's Day episode? They even mentioned Doctor-Donna in Part 1 so that has to be significant.

The Master (John Simm), king of his castle but wouldn't you get bored if everyone looked like you? Not to mention freaked out. Still, I bet he's going to regret pulling off this stunt in a huge way.
The Woman (Claire Bloom) talks to Wilfred (Bernard Cribbins). Is she an older Romana, White Guardian or something else? She seems to have some concern for the Doctor, despite knowing that his death is imminent.

The Doctor (David Tennant) with the Lord President (Timothy Dalton) and other Time Lords behind him. Expect a flashback to the Time War (oh, come on, like that was never gonna happen). Will he have the stones to shoot the Master and who is that person with their hands concealing their face? Some people are speculating it's either Paul McGann or Matt Smith. Now all RTD has to do is not kill the Time Lords or Gallifrey off again. Let Steven Moffat play with them.

The Visionary (Brid Brennan), yes she's looking quite scary and apparently she also foretold of Gallifrey's imminent demise also. Also, the Lord President mentioned something about the heartbeat of a Time Lord. Must be important.


Joshua Naismith isn't the only one with a book out that the Doctor should worry about. Jessica Hynes plays Joan Redfern's descendant, Verity Newman who has printed The Journal Of Impossible Things. You know, this was the first spoiler I encounter for these episodes back in April.
Also in case it wasn't well documented but there are scenes in the second episode where the Doctor interacts with old companions. While Martha (Freema Agyeman) and Mickey (Noel Clarke) have yet to be confirmed, do expect to see Jack (John Barrowman), Alonzo (Russell Tovey), Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen), Rose (Billie Piper) and Jackie (Camille Coduri). Apparently the Rose stuff is the Doctor seeing her before she encountered his ninth incarnation.

And there's also the rumour that Matt Smith may have five minutes of screen time, according to Ian Hyland. We'll see.

Trailer 1:
Trailer 2:
Exclusive Scene:

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 4x17: "The End Of Time Part 1"

Written by Russell T. Davies
Directed by Euros Lyn

The Master (to The Doctor): “The human race was always your favourite Doctor but now there is no human race. There is only the Master race.”

2005 in a lot of ways blessed TV because in terms of Christmas specials, the ones Doctor Who produce are the only ones that are really worth spending an hour and while some of them are better than others, they’ve all been worth watching no less.

“The Christmas Invasion” properly introduced David Tennant as The Doctor while “The Runaway Bride” gave us Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble and “Voyage Of The Damned” debut Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott. “The Next Doctor” just gave us the Cybermen so this two parter was going to have to one better.

Yes, we’ve had enough finales and specials that have featured the Daleks and a part of me always wondered if it would be them and Davros that would see the Tenth Doctor regenerate. From the looks of it, not so much. Why have the ultimate Nazi allusion when you can bring in the best villain on the show ever?

I love The Master and I make no apologies for it. Whether he’s a cool, collected number, camp as hell or stark raving mad, I will always rank him as the best villain on Doctor Who without question. So, having John Simm return not only meant having an ultimate smack down between two Time Lords but there were other factors to consider.

In “Last Of The Time Lords”, Lucy shot The Master and I made the wrongful assumption that she collected his ring at the funeral pyre (better than those who assumed it was Donna or Harriet Jones) but in actual fact, it turned out to be a woman called Miss Trefusis. It seems that not only did The Master inspire terror but also a daft cult who would aid his resurrection.

Without sounding like a sadist, there was an element of glee when their little ceremony went wrong. Lucy warned them that they were getting in over their heads and low and behold, The Master killed them to further the process of being raised from the dead. Of course Lucy would then have to go and spoil it by poisoning him.

Given the lack of spoilers that had been circulating for the character, I had come under the belief that Lucy was going to be a goner – provided she doesn’t mysteriously show up in the second part of this story. What did surprise me however was that her loyalty wavered from The Master. She tried to stop him from coming back to life but didn’t really succeed.

If The Master as Prime Minister and dominator of the Earth in Season Three was a scary concept, then what happened here was unbelievably. John Simm made some apt jokes about ‘emo Master’ given his chavvy attire but watching The Master ranting like a maniac was nothing compared to his eating habits.

I had trouble getting through the colossal amount of Christmas dinner and the last thing I needed to see was The Master munching on burgers, homeless people and turkeys. I know rebirth can be hungry work but Jesus Christ, did I not envy anyone who watched this special whilst eating. Some of those scenes were pure sickening.

One of the mistakes of The Master’s previous visit in 2007 was that Russell T. Davies made the bad decision to keep him and The Doctor apart from each other for too long. They had nowhere near the amount of scenes in “Last Of The Time Lords” that they fortunately get here. Fans of this particular ship should be happy.

The episode opened with everyone apparently having nightmares of The Master but The Doctor was genuinely shocked to see the madman return. Funnily enough, even without the shock of it, all The Doctor wanted to do was to actually help his old friend/enemy. He even let The Master shock him a few times during their second altercation in the wastelands. That alone seemed to see The Master hold back a little on doing further damage to The Doctor.

Season Three mentioned the drumbeat in The Master’s head and The Doctor assumed it was insanity on The Master’s part. The Master noticed that it was becoming louder, even goading Lucy about it before The Doctor finally had no choice but to believe him. The Master’s connected to something big alright and he’s not the only one.

The sort of other villains in this first part were father and daughter duo, Joshua and Abigail Naismith. Compared to some elements of the story, they were one of the weaker parts. Nothing to do with David Harewood or Tracy Ifeachor but I would’ve liked some semblance of a motive as to why Joshua wanted to give Abigail the gift of immortality. Apart from the fact that she seems like a narcissist, why would Abigail accept?

More importantly, Joshua and Abigail made the ultimate of enlisting The Master into aiding their foolish cause. Sure, The Master got to be tied up, gagged, put in a straightjacket and even forced to wear a dog collar but there was no doubt that he was going to turn the situation around and seize control of things.

As soon as I realised that the Immortality Gate not only healed people but other worlds, I could see exactly where this storyline was going to go. Vinvocci duo Rossiter and Addams wanted to use The Master themselves but the arrival of The Doctor and Wilfred more or less put the kibosh on that plan. I got the impression that the Vinvocci aren’t bad and the last thing we need is another villain of the piece.

Joshua and Abigail paid for their misguidance when The Master stepped into the bloody Gate and pulled the craziest fecking stunt. One Master is bad enough but wiping out all humans and turning them into nothing but Masters is beyond insane. This was definitely one of those times where I couldn’t believe what the hell I was actually seeing on my screen.

Of course because of The Master’s little stunt, the next thing I could believe. If I had been a good fan and resisted spoilers dating back to late spring, then the return of the Time Lords would’ve actually been a genuine shocker. Then again, maybe not as they were the next logical thing to put out there when you think about it.

Timothy Dalton was an interesting choice in the role of The Narrator and his narrations throughout the episode kept the dark and doomy tone beautifully going over until the big reveal at the end of the episode. Well, Doctor, you’ve got your people back and something tells me that by next week that you’re going to wish that you really were the last of your kind.

The Ood explained it as well – time is being ripped apart. Because of The Master’s resurrection and the little Master-race stunt he’s managed to pull, the consequences are going to be high. However this episode also made it painfully clear that The Doctor and The Master aren’t the only significant players of the piece.

The return of Wilfred was always going to be a crowd pleaser but giving him the important role of this story is a testament to Russell T. Davies and Bernard Cribbins. If it wasn’t for his granddaughter, he probably would be the companion of this closing era. Every scene involving Wilfred is a mixed bag of ominous and wonder.

The scenes where he’s being contacted by The Woman at the start kicked everything off. The trailer for the next part seemed to have spoiled that she’s a Time Lord but the Time Lords interest in Wilfred was interesting. The Woman pushed him into looking for The Doctor upon an encounter in a church and even managed to communicate with him without Sylvia or Donna copping on.

Even The Doctor’s come to realise that Wilfred is more crucial than ever before. It was hinted in “Journey’s End” that something was continuously drawing The Doctor to both Donna and Wilfred. I hope that when the true motive is revealed that it’s something utterly spectacular, given how good the build up has been so far.

Plus, it’s more than a coincidence that the only two people in the world who haven’t turned into The Master are Wilfred and Donna. While Wilfred dominated the episode, Donna was largely kept in the background. I’m gonna go out on a limb and hope that the next episode amends that.

As for Wilfred and The Doctor, how can anyone not love their scenes together? The Doctor got a wonderful culture shock when he met Wilfred’s little silver cloak. Minnie in particular is a character we’re not going to forget soon. Poor Doctor, getting sexually harassed by June Whitfield. Oh well, someone had to.

Scenes like that were needed for this episode but while The Doctor and Wilfred do have a good reunion, it’s the cafe scenes that really got to me. I nearly choked up during the moments where The Doctor talked openly about his fate to Wilfred. Even taking the time to try and get to know Wilfred was interesting as well.

It was also a master class of writing that The Doctor and Donna managed to avoid any interaction with each other at all. That broke my heart, but not as much as Wilfred begging The Doctor to fix her and The Doctor talking about the downsides of being alone. However, I really hope that she’s not just getting settling for Shaun because while we don’t see much of him, he does seem like a nice enough bloke and if Donna can’t travel in the TARDIS, then she should have that.

Of course while Donna was pretty underused in this episode, there were some moments that made up for it. She bought Wilfred the Joshua Naismith book and got a funny turn and while Sylvia and Shaun became all Master like, she was beginning to remember things. I know that means badness for her but if it means that she’s finally in on the action in the next episode, I’ll take it.

And then it’s back to the Time Lords. What is going to happen in the next episode? The trailers make it appear that both Wilfred and The Doctor are going to be presented with hard choices and the consequences of them. It also looks pretty obvious that The Master is going to come to regret pulling off his latest mad scheme.

Also in “The End Of Time Part 1”

The opening credits for this episode were David Tennant, John Simm and Bernard Cribbins. Shame Catherine Tate wasn’t back in them.

The Narrator: “It is said that in the final days of planet Earth, everyone had bad dreams.”

The original title for this episode was supposed to be “The Final Days Of Planet Earth” but Russell T. Davies changed it at the last minute. Also TARDIS on a stained glassed window?

The Doctor: “What do you want?”
Ood Sigma: “You should not have delayed.”
The Doctor: “Last time I was here, you said my song was ending and I’m in no hurry for that.”

Elder Ood: “Every night, every night, Doctor, we have bad dreams.”

Lucy had a private trial and seemed to spend her time in solitary confinement, yet she managed to harbour a back up plan if she was used for The Master’s resurrection.

Lucy: “Can’t you see he lied to you? His name isn’t even Harold Saxon.”
Governor: “And this was written also. For his name is The Master.”

Lucy (re Miss Trefusis/Governor/Prison Officers): “You’re killing them.”
The Master: “Oh, let them die, they’re just the first.”

The Master had been slumming it for a while on the scrap heap before Joshua had him captured. I almost thought that Abigail would become a Lucy replacement.

Abigail (re jail explosion): “Someone survived? Do you think it’s him? Oh, that would be such a Christmas present.”
Joshua: “You just leave it to daddy.”

Winston: “Were you misbehaving Minnie?”
Minnie: “I certainly was. Wahey!”

Minnie referenced the character Netty who appeared as a love interest for Wilfred in the book, “Beautiful Chaos”.

The Doctor: “Is that your hand, Minnie?”
Minnie: “Good boy.”

The Doctor: “Who are you?”
Wilfred: “I’m Wilfred Mott.”

Like a lot of things in this episode, the fact that Wilfred never killed a man during his soldier days seemed to be significant. Why else would The Woman mention it?

The Doctor (to Wilfred, re Donna): “If she ever remembers me, her mind will burn up and she will die.”

The Master (to The Doctor): “We used to run across those fields all day long, calling up at the sky. Look at us now.”

There was actually a series of Tenth Doctor books released this year called, The Darksmith Legacy and the last book in the collection was also called “The End Of Time”. Joshua Naismith’s book is called “Fighting The Future”

The Master (to The Doctor): “All these years you thought I was mad, king of the wastelands but something is calling me, Doctor. What is it? What is it? What is it?”

The Woman (to Wilfred): “Tell The Doctor nothing of this. His life could still be saved so long as you tell him nothing.”

Vinvocci duo Addams and Rossiter are related to Zocci, the same species that Bannanakafalata was in “Voyage Of The Damned”.

Donna: “Are you shouting at thin air?”
Sylvia: “Yes, possibly, yes.”

The Doctor (re TARDIS): “Bigger on the inside, do you like it?”
Wilfred: “I thought it’d be cleaner.”

The Narrator laid out the roles for The Doctor and The Master as well as the Naismith but said nothing about Donna. Another worrier. There was also mentions of Torchwood’s demise.

Addams (to Rossiter): “Oh by the saints, that’s better. Ugh, these people are so flat.”

The Master: “I like you.”
Joshua: “Thank you.”
The Master: “You’d taste great.”

Russell T. Davies seems to have done the homoerotic content between The Doctor and The Master more subtle than Season Three. Only the head touching scene really counted as a HoYay type of moment between the pair.

The Doctor: “You should stay here.”
Wilfred: “Not bloody likely.”
The Doctor: “And don’t swear.”

Joshua: “Mr Danes.”
Mr Danes: “The visitor will be restrained.”
The Master: “What, but I repaired it?”

Because it’s a penultimate episode, we had to get one more celebrity appearance and the Obama one was interesting. We were also supposed to get a scene where The Doctor interacted with Trinity Wells but it was scrapped, though she appeared once again.

The Doctor (to Joshua/Abigail): “Whatever you do, just don’t let him near that device.”
The Master: “Oh, like that was ever gonna happen. Homeless was I? Destitute and dying? Well, look at me now.”

The Master (to The Doctor, re human race): “They’re not gonna think like me, they’re gonna become me.”

Donna saw some flashbacks to the Racnoss, Ood, Sontarans and Davros when she was remembering. I also think the Ood are adapting a Watcher type of role for The Doctor.

Donna (to Wilfred): “They’ve changed. Granddad, it’s like this sort of thing happened before. My head, oh my head, oh my head.”

The Narrator: “This day was the day upon which the whole of creation would change forever. This was the day the Time Lords returned. For Gallifrey, for victory, for the end of time itself.”

This will be released on DVD with the rest of the specials from January 11th 2010. The commentary for this episode will be from David Tennant, Catherine Tate and director Euros Lyn.

“The End Of Time Part 1” is up there with Russell T. Davies usual penchant for epic finales. It certainly hits the right spots and is far more meatier than the other specials or The Master’s previous appearances. Here’s hoping the second part lives up to the high standards set by this little beauty.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Frontier In Space"

Written by Malcolm Hulke
Directed by Paul Bernard

Dalek: “Do not fail the Daleks.”
The Master: “Right. We’ll see who rules the galaxy when this is over. ‘Do not fail the Daleks’ indeed. You stupid tin boxes.”

And the award for snarkiest line goes to The Master and his less than impressed stance with his latest collaborators. You’d think that after failed alliances with the Autons and the Axons that The Master would leave off teaming up with other alien races that would happily wipe him out in seconds. Apparently he doesn’t learn.

Still while The Master may be reckless, it’s because of his mad scheme that we are rewarded with one of the best stories from the Third Doctor era of the series. The Master’s known for stirring it but this time around, he more than excelled himself.

I could’ve conjectured plenty of things when it was revealed that the increased hostilities between the Earth people and the Draconians was down to The Master and the Ogrons. Having two powerful races wipe each other out would’ve certainly given him an opportunity to take over the universe.

Only this time around, he’s doing it so that the Daleks can have the honour of ruling the universe. I must say that their reveal in the last episode of the story is a genius stroke. It’s especially effective when The Doctor landed on the Ogrons world with the Draconian Prince and General Williams and was reunited with his two most lethal enemies. As tricks go, this is one of the best that The Master has ever pulled.

But what could’ve lead to this meeting of devious minds? Perhaps The Master sought out the Daleks but more than likely it was the other way around. Given how increasingly privy the Daleks have become of The Doctor’s antics, it would make sense to use The Master to do the majority of their dirty work. Plus The Master would also have his own ideas as well.

He clearly didn’t like being under Dalek control, in spite of his attempts to be pleasant with them. I also think that realistically he also knew that he didn’t stand much of a chance in wiping them out, so co-operation was always what he was going to have to do in order to get by.

The first hour of this story is devoid of The Master but even then, there’s no dragging. Nope, the set up is rather beautiful in its little simplicities. The Doctor and Jo landed on a ship, hypnosis made the Earth crew think they were Draconians and when the effects wore off, they were charged with being spies for the Draconians and vice versa when The Doctor was briefly captured by the Draconians.

In fact for this hour, The Doctor and Jo spent most of their time being locked up, interrogated, abducted and disbelieved. Actually this happened pretty throughout the entire story but for some odd reason, it never really bogged down proceedings. There was almost a weird element of playfulness with the perilous situations that The Doctor and Jo were going to and from.

With The Doctor, he got to show how simple it was to destroy a mind probe. Apparently filling it with nonsense is one method and telling the truth is another. Even when he was sent to a prison on the Moon, he was pestering fellow prisoner, Professor Dale on an escape. When one came up, it nearly killed the both of them. This was one of the few times in which The Master actually saved The Doctor’s bacon.

Of course by rescuing The Doctor, The Master then ended up being his captor and even then, The Doctor was able to give him the slip long to try and get to the airlock. Even talking nonsense can fool The Master. Well that and of course, Jo Grant.

Without a doubt this was one of the best stories for Katy Manning hands down. While she didn’t get to have fun with fooling a mind probe, she talked long and hard enough to herself in order to buy The Doctor enough time to escape from The Master. Then there was her getting captured by the villainous Time Lord again.

The best scene out of this entire story was the one where The Master attempted to hypnotise Jo and he failed, simply because she filled her head with nonsense. Even his little fear machine wasn’t enough to deter her. Jo Grant, you really have come leaps and bounds, haven’t you? Though The Master did trick her into getting The Doctor to land on the Ogrons home world at the wrong time. Still can’t win them all.

As many people know, this story was Roger Delgado’s last as The Master as the actor died tragically after it was made. As a final story to his Master, it may not have a satisfactory conclusion but it encompassed everything brilliant about the actor’s take on the villainous Time Lord.

The Master is pretty happy to put The Doctor through the ringer but he won’t let his old friend get marooned on a Moon prison nor will he allow the Daleks to exterminate him on the spot. I think it’s because of things like this that make The Master far more complex an adversary compared to the Daleks.

The Daleks appearance are brief in this story and they’re interesting but it’s The master who dominated the four out of six episodes he appeared in and his rapport with The Doctor and Jo certainly provided some of the best moments. The scene where he blithely suggested to the Draconian Emperor that he dedicated his life to law and order made me chuckle before using an Ogron attack to escape.

The inter-galactic politics between Earth and Draconia were also handled well. Sure, you had the likes of General Williams and the Draconian Prince both gunning for bloodshed but at least the Madam President and the Draconian Emperor showed reticence in wanting to strike the other first. And this was during the lengthy time it took both of them to actually realise that The Doctor and Jo were telling the truth.

The end of this serial is probably the strangest one of the bunch. The Daleks disappeared as quickly as they left, the Ogrons are gone, The Master gets to shoot The Doctor and Jo was the one who had to drag her mentor back into his TARDIS. It’s definitely a cliff hanger alright and a pretty good one at that. Honestly there’s too much to enjoy with this story for me to raise any real criticisms.

Also in “Frontier In Space”

This story is continued (sort of) with the next one, “Planet Of The Daleks”. Sadly no Master in that one.

Jo (re TARDIS): “Well, I’m never going in that thing again.”
The Doctor: “Oh, come on, Jo, be reasonable.”
Jo: “Only you could manage to have a traffic accident in space.”

When Jo was affected by The Master’s fear box, she saw a Drashig and a Sea Devil as well as a mutant.

The Doctor: “That’s funny. The Ogrons have repaired the airlock.”
Jo: “That was nice of them.”
The Doctor: “If they hadn’t, we’d been done for.”

The Doctor (to Jo): “It’s a pity the Ogrons didn’t succeed in kidnapping us. Perhaps we should’ve been more helpful.”

I quite enjoyed the Ogrons in this story. I also noticed that the ones of the Ogrons was kind to Jo, probably the one that The Doctor briefly had captive.

Jo: “And why are you taking us with you?”
The Master: “Oh need you ask. How could I leave two dear friends in such dire straits?”

The Master: “In reminiscent mood are you Doctor? Poor Miss Grant, you have my deepest sympathy.”

The Master’s choice in reading material was HG Wells, “The War Of The Worlds”, which was an excellent choice for the story.

The Master: “Thank you Miss Grant, we’ll let you know. Where’s The Doctor?”

The Master: “How well you know me, Doctor. Now come on, smarten yourselves up. We want to look our best for a royal audience you know.”

Jo talked a lot about her insecurities and the downside of working with UNIT while The Doctor mentioned his forced regeneration from “The War Games”, also written by Malcolm Hulke.

Draconian Prince: “Emperors have been deposed before now.”
Draconian Emperor: “An emperor who does not rule deposes himself.”

The Master (to Draconian Emperor): “I too welcome your decision your majesty. Nobody could be more devoted to the cause of peace than I. As a commissioner of Earth’s interplanetary police, I have devoted my life to the cause of law and order and law and order can only exist in a time of peace.”
The Doctor: “Are you feeling alright, old chap?”

One of the extras on the DVD set is a wonderful profile on actor Roger Delgado, who prior to The Master had build up a comprehensive CV of comedic and villainous roles.

Jo (to Draconian): “I know, I know women aren’t allowed to speak. You know I think it’s about time that Women’s Lib was brought to Draconia.”

The Master: “Congratulations my dear. I seemed to have failed again.”
Jo: “Yes, you do, don’t you? Never mind, you can’t win them all.”

The original title for this story was going to be “Frontiers In Space”, so not much of a difference to what actually became the title for this story.

Dalek: “You will obey the Daleks.”
The Master (re The Doctor): “You know as well as I do that this man does not fear death. I want him to suffer a much worse punishment.”

The Master: “Going somewhere, Doctor?”
The Doctor: “You know you really are incredibly persistent, aren’t you?”

This came out on DVD in October 2009, along with “Planet Of The Daleks”. There’s a commentary by Katy Manning, Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts, the latter who sadly passed away shortly after the release of this box set.

It might not be a story that reaches top twenty lists or anything but “Frontier In Space” just flies by in its six episodes. No pointless padding, just wall to wall excellence and some wonderful twists and turns though it is Roger Delgado’s Master who really does steal the show in such a beguiling way.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Ultimate Foe"

Written by Robert Holmes And Pip And Jane Baker
Directed by Chris Clough

The Doctor: “In all my travels throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power mad conspirators. I should’ve stayed here. The oldest civilisation – decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core. Power mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen, they’re still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power, that’s what it takes to be really corrupt.”

Without a doubt, the above quotation is one of the best pieces of dialogue that any Doctor has ever had to utter in the show’s history. I bet Colin Baker, judging by the conviction of his delivery was pleased as punch to get that wonderful speech to cite.

So, we’re at the end of the line and The Valeyard actually looks like he’s going to succeed. The Doctor appears to have his days number, but he can’t surely? That’s where the welcomed appearance of Sabalom Glitz, Mel and The Master all come into play.

There isn’t a single person who actually wanted The Valeyard to prevail but having The Master be the one to deny him the pleasure of The Doctor’s execution is a nifty touch. Both Glitz and Mel are able to vouch for The Doctor’s character but it’s really The Master who actually goes one better.

All this while, The Valeyard has felt little more than an overzealous Time Lord desperate for The Doctor’s death. Having him revealed as some possible Dark Doctor between our hero’s twelfth and thirteenth incarnations is a rather strange reveal. I’m not altogether sure I actually like it to be honest.

I know it suddenly makes The Valeyard a bit more interesting than his previous stories and it also tied nicely in with The Master’s belief of The Doctor having an evil side like anyone else but it does seem something of a gimmick. Plus it didn’t stop The Valeyard from jumping into the Matrix in a bid to lure The Doctor away from the court.

From what’s been gathered The Valeyard’s involvement with the High Council set about the destruction of Earth with the great fireball. This explained a lot of what was going on with “The Mysterious Planet” but The Valeyard’s quest for wanting The Doctor’s remaining lives. Surely he could’ve tried achieving this without a court hearing that could’ve exposed his plans.

The Doctor made plenty of wry comments about The Valeyard overestimating his genius and there’s a degree of truth to it as well. The Valeyard was stupid to use a court to get to The Doctor. Anyone else would’ve taken such a goal away from prying Time Lords. It’s also through the Matrix that The Valeyard tried winning against.

While the previous stories all had their merits, this one tried to be more surreal than all of them combined. In the Matrix, both The Doctor and Glitz were being attacked by various things that weren’t actually real. Even the cliff hanger with The Doctor about to sink in quicksand was lightly skimmed over.

I can understand why The Valeyard would want rid of The Doctor. He wants the freedom of being his own Time Lord and having The Doctor around more or less put the kibosh on that. That being said, once he had The Doctor in the Matrix, why not just it over and done with instead of dragging out the charades?

Glitz raised this point rather astutely, though The Doctor countered it with realising that The Valeyard wanted him humiliated as well as destroyed. That sounds like shades of The Master here, who in fact was actually better than The Valeyard. Even The Rani is better than The Valeyard despite this story actually being Michael Jayston’s best one to date.

The Master’s motives in this story worked arguably better than The Valeyard’s if I’m being honest. All he wanted was The Valeyard out of the way, so he could have The Doctor all to himself. He even used The Doctor in a failed attempted to try and kill The Valeyard. Sadly it didn’t succeed but points for effort.

The Master also then tried a brief attempt of taking over Gallifrey but thanks the Matrix going into total chaos; both he and Glitz’s plan were scuppered on that. Though to be fair on Glitz, all he wanted was some valuables. I got the impression that despite his wheeler dealer antics, he did actually like The Doctor.

Second story wise, Mel was at her best here too. Okay, so she sort of blew The Doctor’s attempts to out The Valeyard at first but how was she supposed to know that he wasn’t privy to The Valeyard’s latest illusion of The Doctor being sentenced?

The last few scenes with The Doctor and Valeyard duking it out weren’t as compelling as they would be. Still The Valeyard was defeated, even if he lived to save the day and The Doctor a much deserved apology from The Inquisitor as well as the relieving news that Peri was actually alive and living as Yrcanos’s warrior queen.

That might feel like something of a cop out after the events of “Mindwarp” but I can understand why John Nathan Turner might have felt pressurised into retconning Peri’s death for the youngsters. Also from The Doctor’s point of view, it has to be relieving for him to know that Peri is alive. He did care about her, even if he didn’t show it as well as he should’ve done.

In terms of a final story for Colin Baker, it’s probably not quite “The Caves Of Androzani” style of epicness that he might have hoped. Especially when his parting shot was to have The Doctor bemoan Mel for her insistence of carrot juice. You know, Mel cranberry juice is also healthy too, plus there’s an actual taste to it. I’m just saying.

Also in “The Ultimate Foe”

Because of the DVD, this is credited as “The Trial Of A Time Lord Parts 13-14”

Melanie (to Glitz): “I’m not Dibber and neither am I lad and what’s more, there’s nothing wrong with my voice.”

This story alone had three writers. Robert Holmes passed away before completing it and Pip And Jane Baker were drafted in after Eric Saward quit the show.

The Valeyard: “He’s lying my lady.”
The Doctor: “I don’t think so, Stackyard. It all begins to make very good sense.”
Melanie: “That’s it, Doc. Now we’re getting at the dirt.”

The Doctor (re The Valeyard): “Just a minute. Did you call him The Doctor?”
The Master: “There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you.”

If Eric Saward had actually written episode 14, then we’d have gotten a Doctor/Valeyard cliff hanger. Given that the show wasn’t in a secure place at the time, perhaps John Nathan Turner made the right decision.

Glitz: “How can we be in a different world? We just stepped into a door, that’s all.”
The Doctor: “Into the Matrix, where the only logic is there isn’t any logic.”
Glitz: “I knew this was a mistake. My grip on reality isn’t good at the best of times.”

The Master (to The Inquisitor/Melanie): “There’s nothing purer and more unsullying, madam than the desire for revenge but if you follow the metaphor, I’ve dropped a pebble into the water. Perhaps killing two birds with one stone and causing ripples that will rock the High Council to its foundations. What more could a renegade wish for?”

The Doctor’s attempts to deny some of The Valeyard’s illusion was a deliberate (and much welcomed) reference to “The Deadly Assassin”, which I also plan to review over Christmas.

Mr Popplewick: “My work is a celebration of all that is perfect. Why speed perfection?”
The Doctor: “Because your employer wants me dead.”

The Doctor: “This is an illusion, I deny it.”
The Valeyard: “Not this time.”
The Doctor: “This isn’t happening.”
The Valeyard: “You are dead, Doctor. Goodbye Doctor.”

Apart from subterfuge, was there really a point to Mr Popplewick and the Fantasy Factory at all?

The Master: “Welcome Doctor.”
The Doctor: “Well, I never thought I’d welcome the sight of you.”

The Doctor (to Melanie): “Unless we are prepared to sacrifice our lives for the good of all, then evil and anarchy will spread like the plague. The rule of law must prevail.”

Although we see a glimpse of Peri and Yrcanos, neither Nicola Bryant nor Brian Blessed are credited in this story. Plus The Doctor recommended The Inquisitor for presidency.

The Doctor: “It’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It’s a far, far rest that I go to. That I have ever known.”

The Doctor: “You know I am beginning to realise that I have misjudged The Valeyard Mr JJ Chambers, alias The Valeyard.”
Melanie: “Not for the first time. In fact how you’ve managed to survive 900 odd years beats me.”

I watched the Open Air DVD extra and was amused to see future “42” and Torchwood scribe Chris Chibnall there. Plus “Doctor In Distress” made me laugh and cringe at the same time.

The Doctor (to Melanie): “You know I think I was rash in turning down that presidency. Oh, carrot juice. Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice.”

The DVD came out in August 2008 with a commentary from Eric Saward, Colin Baker, Tony Selby, Chris Clough and Pip And Jane Baker.

As an ending goes, “The Ultimate Foe” isn’t too bad. There are some nice surreal moments, The Master’s moments are a joy to watch but I can’t help but wish that overall Colin Baker was able to go out on a similar high to his predecessors and certain successors. Still, this was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be and that’s a plus.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

12 Shows Of Christmas Guide

Okay, there's a lot over the Christmas to watch. A lot of it being forgettable rubbish and some of the other stuff being movies that have been seen a thousand times over but here are some of the more interesting and media grabbing things to watch this year.

1: Doctor Who - The End Of Time Parts 1 And 2, Christmas Day 6pm and New Year's Day 6.40pm on BBC1.

Did anyone ever think that David Tennant and Russell T. Davies last story would be a quite affair? This two parter certainly aims to dispell that as the Doctor hurtles towards the end of his tenth incarnation, the Master is ressurected on Christmas Eve while Joshua Naismith attempts to open the Immortality Gate. Bringing back the Master as the villain of the piece is a masterstroke (pun most definitely intended) with John Simm promising to make the rogue Time Lord more deranged than last time. Also there's Wilfred as the main companion of the piece and the welcome return of Donna and several others into the mix.

2: An Englishman In New York, December 28th, 9pm on ITV1

Yes, every now and then, ITV1 can produce some excellent drama and the much awaited sequel to The Naked Civil Servant, John Hurt takes his character Quentin Crisp to New York where a calvacade of events see the flamboyant gentlement out of favour with the gay community upon making some ill-advised comments on the nature of AIDS. This special one-off also features Sex And The City's Cynthia Nixon as Penny Arcade and also upcoming True Blood guest star, Denis O'Hare.

3: Alan Carr: Chatty Man, New Year's Eve, 10.20pm on Channel 4

I've not gotten into this show as much as I did with The Friday/Sunday Night Project and Carr is one of those comedians who seems to be fairly ubitiquous nowadays but it could be fun enough. Davina McCall's not my cup of tea but it's nice to see that David Tennant and Catherine Tate are ever present over the holiday period.

4: Graham Norton New Year's Eve Christmas Show, New Year's Eve10.40pm on BBC1

Competing with Alan Carr, Norton's selection of guests include Sarah Jessica Parker, Joan Rivers and The Wire's Dominic West. Could be fun.

5: Grumpy Guide To Christmas, December 23rd, 9pm on BBC2

For those of you who are not in the festive spirit, it seems that a new edition of the popular series looks set to round off everything that virtually sucks about Christmas. Oh go on, embrace your inner Grinch for a half an hour.

6: Stephen Gately: Picture Of You, December 27th, 10.30pm on RTE1

The only Irish thing I've noted but hey, it's still a huge media story. Stephen's death was certainly tragic and while I don't think this will uncover anything new, it could be still worth looking into.

7: Hamlet, Boxing Day, 5.05pm on BBC2

You can't move for the amount of David Tennant on screen during this Christmas period. In this made for TV version of his 2008 performance of Gregory Doran's take on the popular play, the actor takes on the title role with certain boyish charm and gusto. Look out for Patrick Stewart as well, who eclipses Tennant.

8: Soaps, Various Times/Days/Channels

In terms of LGBT stuff, Connie/Yvonne split in Fair City, Christian is determined to ruin Syed and Amira's wedding in EastEnders and Zoe's attempts to expose Lydia nearly get her killed in Hollyoaks. Corrie meanwhile stick to panto and Emmerdale aren't doing much to forward the Aaron storyline.

9: Charlie Brooker's Screewipe Review Of 2009, December 22nd, 10.30pm on BBC4

Last year saw the likes of The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent ripped to piece, so I'm pretty sure that this year the witty Mr Brooker will be eyeing up the usual suspects again to give a dressing down to.

10: The Day Of The Triffids, December 28th and 29th, 9pm on BBC1

Wow, the Beeb are going for their remakes, aren't they? If you can't wait for Survivors (that's next month), then here's another remake to get into. Starring Dougray Scott, Joely Richardson and Eddie Izzard.

11: Gavin And Stacey, New Year's Day, 9pm on BBC1

I haven't gotten into this series as much as I did with the last one but this series finale could be a crowd pleaser. Can Smithy stop Nessa from marrying Dave Coaches and will Uncle Bryn get something better to do?

12: Catherine Tate: Nan's Christmas Carol, Christmas Day, 10.30pm, BBC1

Be glad it's not Lauren. Instead the most racist, homophobic and nastiest fictional OAP is supposed to be shown the error of her ways when the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future pay her a visit. Will Nan change her ways? Not fucking likely!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Terror Of The Vervoids"

Written by Pip And Jane Baker
Directed by Chris Clough

Melanie: “Come on, Doctor, come on hurry.”
The Doctor: “How I keep up with you is a constant source of amazement.”

In terms of keeping up, is this the strangest way to introduce a companion on the show? Yes, actually it is. Usually we’re given a back story, clear set of motives for the person travelling with The Doctor. All of that are scrapped here in favour for just getting on with things.

I really shouldn’t pay attention to negative hype. All the bad stuff I heard about Mel made me reluctant to see any story involving her but it’s a good job that I went and watched her first appearance on the show first. I’m in that minority of people who happens to like her I think. Anyone else who feels similar, can you please let me know?

What’s there to like about Mel? Well, her dynamic with The Doctor. After the rather caustic Doctor/Peri relationship, this was obviously being set up for a more fun and carefree one. Mel’s even able to boss The Doctor into exercising and while I don’t envy The Doctor for having to drink carrot juice, I did find her enthusiasm for exercise amusing. Shame I don’t share the same enthusiasm though. And the screaming I can deal with.

Of course the plus point of this story was there being a murder mystery and our new TARDIS duo being dragged into proceedings. Of course The Doctor would have to receive a muffled distress signal and naturally, Mel would have to push him to take it seriously.

After the events we saw on Ravolox and Thoros Beta, we were going to get a story where The Doctor would show unwillingness to get involved in the antics of the Hyperion 3. We’ve had to go through two stories where his involvement in events has placed him in a bad light, so would he taking a back seat help him?

Not remotely. He’s barely on the Hyperion 3 and already, both him and Mel were arrested and interrogated by Commodore Travers and Rudge. Then The Doctor made the effort to ask for a passenger list and after that, everything came to a head. He was beginning to take part even when he was insisting that he wasn’t. He even knew that the Commodore was trying to get to solve the mystery as well.

As assistants go, this was a good opening story for Mel as well. Apart from insisting on The Doctor to help with the mystery (especially as people were either dying or disappearing), Mel actually took the initiative to try and help herself.

She looked around in the hydroponic base and although Edwardes unfortunate demise could’ve been hers, what the hell did The Valeyard actually think she was going to do? Maybe The Doctor should’ve gone with her at first but don’t criticise the girl for trying to help. It’d be a lot worse if she didn’t care about what was happening on the spaceship.

A lot of stuff was actually happening on the ship and at times, it was sort of hard to keep up with certain things. The first being Lasky, Bruchner and Doland all our typical scientists who would have to make a discovery that would end up endangering everyone else on board. That also led to some divided loyalties.

Bruchner was so disgusted and distressed by the piling bodies that his solution to save everyone else (and Earth) was to try and pilot the Hyperion 3 into the nearest black hole that he could find. Not surprisingly enough, he managed to fail at that one. Lasky was too busy being blinded by her arrogance to see the error of her advancements.

Doland seemed to have some similar problems as well. There was some stuff with a tape that was to prove that The Doctor and Mel were right about an attack but it’s one of the things that this story seemed to wrap up all too quickly. Was Doland really supposed to be another villain in this story? He certainly met his death at the hands of the Vervoids.

The title creatures of the story weren’t really all that convincing. Basically they looked like giant flowers and although they did rake up an impressive body count, the voices sort of threw me off them. Plus after so much skulking about, they’re also dealt with rather quickly as The Doctor used herbicide to stop them from invading Earth and wiping out the population.

As for Rudge and the Mogarians, really didn’t care all that much. The Mogarians had a point about humans abusing the materials that they supplied but they could’ve acquired them back from Hyperion 3 in a better manner. All Rudge seemingly wanted was a nice retirement package as well and that’s hardly earth shattering, is it?

Of course this entire story was to show The Doctor in a good light. He pointed out him that he only took on an involved role when the Commodore specifically requested his help and yet this alone did not sate The Valeyard’s bloodlust in all proceedings. If anything by the end, I telegraphed exactly what he was going to do next.

The deaths of the Vervoids may not have been preventable but it didn’t stop The Valeyard accusing The Doctor of genocide. Technically, he’s right of course but what exactly would The Valeyard have done in the same situation? Probably the same thing. The Doctor did appear to have no other option and the Vervoids themselves were slaughtering left, right and centre, which The Valeyard seemed to gloss over.

Another factor in this story was addressing Peri’s death. For now, The Doctor’s still of the belief that she’s death and The Valeyard did seem to enjoy flouting that as much as often. His comments about Mel though however could’ve been what audiences might have thought at the time when watching the story. She does literally appear out of nowhere and without an explanation of her presence, it’s a little jarring but not terrible.

Also in “Terror Of The Vervoids”

Again because of the DVDs, this is titled, “The Trial Of A Time Lord Parts 9-12” when watching it.

The Valeyard: “The future? It is going to be The Doctor’s defence that he improves?”
The Doctor: “Precisely.”
The Valeyard: “This I must see.”

Apart from the fact that the story itself is based in 2986, we don’t know exactly when The Doctor met Mel and how much time passed between here and the events of “Mindwarp”.

The Doctor: “Carrot juice?”
Melanie: “It’ll do you good. Honestly, carrots are full of Vitamin A.”
The Doctor: “Mel, have you seen my ears lately?”
Melanie: “It’s your waistline I’m more concerned about.”

Commodore (to The Doctor): “Consider yourselves restricted to passenger quarters.”
Melanie: “In other words, welcome aboard.”

At this point in this show, Bonnie Langford was the only regular cast member who was born after the show had debuted on the BBC. We also know that Mel’s from Pease Pottage.

The Valeyard: “To gloss over the death of Peri, The Doctor conveniently presents us with another companion.”

Lasky: “A double pulse. What are you, a comedian?”
The Doctor: “No, more a sort of clown actually. Would you care to hear my rendering of ‘On With The Motley’?”

Honor Blackman who played Lasky is one of the few actresses who’s been on four British Institutions. Apart from this guest role, she add The Avengers, James Bond and Coronation Street to her list.

The Doctor: “It wasn’t me in there.”
The Valeyard: “Ridiculous, we all saw you. You’re hardly mistakable in that outfit.”

Vervoid 1: “It is not only that we kill animal kind, they kill each other.”
Vervoid 2: “They have no respect for any form of life. We shall resume the hunt.”

The DVD for this story has a good look into the lost season for the show as well as early interviews with Bonnie Langford.

The Doctor: “She means that too. Memory like an elephant.”
Melanie: “That’s his idea of a compliment, comparing me to an elephant.”

The DVD was released in August 2008 with a commentary from Colin Baker, Michael Craig, Pip And Jane Baker and Chris Clough.

“Terror Of The Vervoids” does well with it’s murder mystery and for the most integrates Mel as best as it can but it’s a little bit of a letdown after the previous story and I kind of wish that this farcical trial would come crashing down now. Its clear The Doctor’s being framed and obviously by The Valeyard too, so let’s be done with him already.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Review of True Blood's 2x06: "Hard Hearted Hannah"

Written by Brian Buckner
Directed by Michael Lehmann

Eric (re Sookie): “She’s something more than human.”
Lorena: “What is she?”
Eric: “That I do not know but whatever she is, he loves her.”

Halfway point of the season and this is definitely the episode where everything seems to be coming along rather interestingly. All of a sudden the ante got upped that fraction more and everyone seems to be in way over their heads to swim.

Like Sookie for instance. Did she really think even with Hugo that she genuinely stood a cat in hell chance of actually infiltrating the Fellowship of the Sun successfully? I didn’t and that nasty son of a bitch, Steve Newlin certainly saw her coming a mile away. Sookie should’ve made an earlier attempt to bolt from there.

As plans went, the Fellowship were one step ahead. It made sense. If they knew where Sookie was going to be in “Shake And Fingerpop”, it would’ve made sense that Steve would’ve recognised her the second both herself and Hugo posed as a newly engaged couple.

The strangest thing however was Sarah Newlin in this whole mix. Six episodes in and I still can’t figure her out. I doubt she really likes Sookie all that much but her attempts to reason with Steve did seem genuine. Maybe she is a victim who’s just woken up to the fact that her loving husband is a monster.

Steve’s misogyny towards women was abundantly clear with the way he’s been talking to Sarah in the last two episodes and he was certainly a nasty piece of women when him and Gabe locked Sookie and Hugo down the basement. Gabe is also someone who seems quite dangerous as well.

Steve’s grown more unlikeable as the episodes have progressed this season and every scene he’s shared with Jason has suggested that he knew more than he was letting on. I refuse to believe that he’s unaware of Jason’s connection to Sookie and I also don’t doubt that he’s unaware of Sarah’s growing attraction towards Jason as well.

The fact that Jason actually waited six episodes before sleeping with Sarah showed some surprising restraint on his part as well. Jason actually tried to be a better man. He even felt guilty over the hand job incident in the last episode. Season One Jason wouldn’t have cared less about sleeping with another man’s wife.

Jason trying to be a better man is inspiring but it’s too bad that it’s at the expense of him getting embroiled with the Fellowship freaks. I do hope that Sarah actually warning Jason about Steve’s desire for war will snap him out of it soon enough. Also if Bill can’t come to Sookie’s rescue and Sookie’s unable to save herself, then Jason better hop to it.

Speaking of Bill, is this the first episode where Sookie’s been in trouble and he’s been unable to save her? Nope, there was “You’ll Be The Death Of Me” but for some reason, I was kind of thrilled that Lorena put the kibosh on him doing the heroics with her supernatural hold over him.

I’ve said it before that Lorena and Bill’s story has an eerie similarity to Angelus and Darla and almost to back me up on that was this episode. The flashbacks while not breathtakingly original did show the two of them at their gruesome best. Poor Sidney thought him and his wife were going to have quite the four-way.

Sadly for them, they got tortured and killed as Bill and Lorena more or less made their humble abode in Sidney’s home. It’s rare that we’ve really seen Bill enjoy himself as a vampire and it’s almost a good thing that this episode addressed that point home. It’s also clear that Lorena’s besotted with him as well.

Her attempts to deny it at first were a little silly. Eric could see through her almost straight away and Lorena did spring into possessive ex mode when she overpowered Bill. Funny how both her and Eric have the mutual interest in keeping Sookie and Bill apart as much as they can. Not so coincidental that Lorena’s a little more aggressive with it though.

In terms of aggression, Maryann really should keep her temper in check as well. Being a bitch towards Tara might not be the best move she can make, especially when Tara is showing some signs of tiring of the social worker/maenad all the more. Tara’s mocking of Maryann to Eggs on their journey to get a part for the water heater was amusing.

That being said, even though I don’t hate Tara’s scenes with Eggs, he’s still not good for her. In the woods, he went off about a past event and when him and Tara got back to Bon Temps, they also got sucked into another one of Maryann’s orgies. What is it with those things already? They’re becoming relentless at this point.

Also relentless is Sam’s inability to catch a break. Of course Daphne would have to turn out to be too good to be true. Those lovely scenes earlier on in the episode where she was encouraging Sam to embrace his shape shifter more was just a front. Damn. All she was up to was setting Sam up for a meeting with Maryann.

So Maryann wants or needs Sam but what the hell for? A sacrifice seems to be the most logical of options but to what and again, what for? The fact that it’s not Sookie she’s after is a relief but it’s gotta sting for Sam if he’s got to spend the rest of the season being one step ahead of Maryann. That girl certainly is determined, I’ll give you that.

When it comes to determination, I wish Andy would use his for good. Apart from Lafayette being gone for a few weeks, what on Earth made him think that the cook was responsible for Miss Jeanette’s death? Come to think, is there a regular character on this show that Andy isn’t suspicious of in some way? At least Terry had the good sense to put Andy in his place and offer Lafayette some comfort. How brilliant was that?

While Bill and Eric are the sex symbols of this show, you have admit that it’s Terry and Hoyt who certainly give men a better name on this show. Terry’s attempts of helping Lafayette were fantastic and so was Hoyt’s timely appearance to Jessica in Dallas, especially after proudly outing her as a vampire to Maxine as well. It’s amazing that despite their relationship being so early, that Hoyt and Jessica are shaping up to be the best couple on the show. They’re even more compelling than Eric/Sookie/Bill/Lorena at this point.

Also in “Hard Hearted Hannah”

Was that really Stephen Moyer’s singing voice for the title of this episode? If so, he was wonderful.

Sam: “You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met.”
Daphne: “You’re just saying that because I’m the first honest sex you’ve ever had.”

Daphne asked about Sam sleeping with Sookie. I get the impression that for now, Sookie is of no interest to Maryann.

Daphne: “You got to share this life with people. It’s what we were put on this big old round ball to do. People, they need to know you. You’re just too damn special not to.”
Sam: “Where the fuck did you come from?”

Maryann: “Tara, you may not know this about me but without a hot shower in the morning, I have no tolerance for sarcasm.”

Maryann was wearing a bull mask courtesy of Daphne and the fact that Carl had a knife did point to sacrifice time for Sam.

Terry: “I don’t like surprises, Arlene.”
Arlene: “Well that’s too bad because I happen to be a very mysterious woman.”

Jason: “Jason Stackhouse, abstinent.”
Luke: “Sounds good, don’t it?”
Jason: “Not really.”

Hugo made an interesting point about vampires falling out of love with humans when they age. I know Sookie can be naive but I’m surprised that she didn’t at least consider that possibility at all.

Hugo: “I thought you were gonna let me do the talking.”
Sookie: “When I get nervous, sometimes I talk too much.”

Sidney’s Wife: “Why are you doing this?”
Bill: “Because we can.”

From what I gathered in this episode, Godric is going to be publicly burned by dawn as part of Steve’s call to war. It was called meet the sun.

Eggs: “Tara, something happened. Something terrible happened here.”
Tara: “That’s pretty obvious.”
Eggs: “You think this is funny?”

Pam: “Remember me?”
Lafayette: “Oh shit.”
Pam: “Oh you do. How’s life?”
Lafayette: “Not so good.”

Why does Eric want Lafayette selling V? Also it was him who ended up calling Lorena, which wasn’t that much of a surprise.

Tara: “People are pigs.”
Eggs: “You got that right.”

Hoyt: “I’m so sorry Jessica.”
Jessica: “I can’t believe it. You came all this way.”

Standout music: Come on, Stephen Moyer’s version of “Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp From Savannah)” definitely wins out on this one.

Sarah (to Jason, re Steve): “He’s not the man I thought he was. You’re not being trained to defend us. He wants to use you to start a war. He’s vicious and he’s cruel, and he uses the C-word. And he lies to me, Jason. Our marriage has always been a partnership, and now he’s shutting me out.”

Chronology: Mostly from where “Never Let Me Go” finished up with Lorena.

“Hard Hearted Hannah” is definitely the strongest episode from the first half of this season. Granted the standard’s been exceedingly high but even still, this is an episode where a lot actually does happen and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Ties That Bind (Doctor Who Christmas 2009 Spoilers)

Last one I swear as we have a week to go before The End Of Time Part 1 finally airs.

How do you amp up excitement for the Master's return? Just show trailers of John Simm either naked or bound and gagged and according to an interview with David Tennant, we could be getting two Time Lords in bondage over the Christmas. Either RTD's got a one track mind or there's a good reason for it. Answer: both. Helps if you're a slash bunny.

You know the more we don't have any spoilers revealed on either Donna (Catherine Tate) or Lucy Saxon (Alexandra Moen), the more I'm convinced that both ladies are doomed. Maybe I'm wrong but at this point apart from Lucy being in the slammer and Donna getting married, very little has been revealed on both ladies outcome. Perhaps that's a good thing.

He might look the youngest out of Wilfred's little group but we all know that the Doctor (David Tennant) isn't by a long shot. A preview has shown June Whitfield's character Minnie getting a little overaffectionate with our departing Doctor.

Joshua (David Harewood) and Abigail Naismith (Tracy Ifeachor) - father and daughter duo from hell - probably. Well they ressurect the Master, hold him hostage and want to open up the Immortality Gate. What good can come out of that?
Quote, Unquote

The Master: "Never dying, the never ending drums, can't you hear it? The noise, the drumbeat. Louder than ever before."

Sounds eerily around the same lines of some of Davros' doomy dialogue from Journey's End. Obviously it has to be the Doctor who's on the receiving end of this.

The End Of Time Part 1, Christmas Day 6pm on BBC1.
The End Of Time Part 2, New Year's Day 6.40pm on BBC1.


My Review of Doctor Who's: "Mindwarp"

Written by Philip Martin
Directed by Ron Jones

The Doctor (to The Valeyard): “You killed Peri?”

Never did I think that those three words would sound as heartbreaking as they did. Don’t get me wrong; while Peri isn’t in my top 10 favourite companions, I’ve never actively hated the girl. Especially when outside of the archetypal ‘damsel in distress’ fetish some of the writers seem to have for her, she has shown some great improvement as a companion.

In these two stories for “The Trial Of A Time Lord”, I’ve found myself far less critical of Nicola Bryant’s US accent and even if I hated Peri with the fire of a thousand burning suns, you’d have to be a soulless bastard to feel any venom towards the character in the story. Being put through the ringer doesn’t even come close to covering it this time around.

The Doctor and Peri landed on Thoros Beta and luckily for us, this time around it’s an actual planet and not Earth moved from where it should be with a different name. We get to see pink water, purple/blue (violet?) land and a green sky with Thoros Alpha in perfect view. It’s by far the most alien looking planet the classic series has ever offered.

It also took our duo record time in finding trouble so far. A genetically modified creature known as The Rakk attacked them within seconds and The Doctor’s CD Phaser killed it. Because of this, we got introduced to atypical soldier Frax, who over the course of four episodes doesn’t become interesting in any way possible. He might be the only character in this story to be genuinely considered dull in that estimation.

The rest of them however are not. Crozier in particular is certainly a wily bastard and clearly has too much enjoyment in his array of experiments. However he’s far from perfect and trying to quell Yrcanos’s bloodlust is something that he cannot succeed at. It’s a good job for us that he fails.

The reason why is because Yrcanos is the only thing that Peri has as an ally in this whole story. In one of the most shocking moments, The Doctor turned against Peri so publicly by switching to the side of Crozier and his benefactors, Sil and Lord Kiv. Even when Peri is undercover, The Doctor ratted her out for interrogation.

We’ve had plenty of stories in the past and even some future ones where The Doctor appeared to be siding with the villain of the piece in the hopes of stopping them. When he’s being utterly horrible to Peri, that’s what I was hoping he was doing here. Having her tied up by the Sea of Sorrow (how wonderful is that a name?), the hopes of him being on her side seemed to fading more and more.

The Valeyard and The Inquisitor were both adamant that the Matrix couldn’t lie but watching The Doctor siding up with the odious Sil in order to help Lord Kiv evade death and get a new body made for some difficult viewing. I really wanted to hope that he was trying to stop them instead of scenes where we had to watching him alert Sil to a money making scheme.

When Kiv’s replacement body gave out, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for The Doctor to show us that he hadn’t become a turncoat after all. His discomfort when Crozier suggested that Peri would be a perfect body for Kiv to inhabit gave me some hope. Heck, even when Peri was bound and gagged by Crozier and Matrona and was getting her hair shaved off, I thought everything would be alright.

How wrong was I? The Doctor might have finally rescued Yrcanos, Dorf and Tuza (the only form of resistance against Kiv and the Mentors) but being transported for a trial meant that Peri’s fate was sealed. Much as I love Donna Noble, Peri’s death is the worst thing this show has ever done to a regular.

There’s no heroic sacrifice like Adric or memory wiping like Jamie, Zoe and Donna. No, it’s just a frightened girl stripped of her mind and having it replaced with a character as odious as Kiv thanks to a man who cared nothing for real advancement of science or another person’s life. Yrcanos having to kill Peri as Kiv along with Sil, Crozier and everyone else at the behest of the Time Lords was probably the only thing that could be done.

Yrcanos was one of the best characters the Colin Baker era ever introduced. Brian Blessed might have the loudest voice ever (something which is dealt with when a Mentor is grateful for Yrcanos not shouting at one point) but it was hard not to be taken in with this character. Sure, his lust for war and aggression got a bit overboard but his affection for Peri was so hard not to love. I think in a cheesy way, he did love her, so I certainly didn’t envy what he was manipulated into doing.

Peri’s death is certainly a taking point. I can see why Nicola Bryant herself loved it. It’s one of the most controversial ways to kill of a regular characters and certainly lacked cliché. But it’s also rather impersonal as well and I think if I had watched this as a youngster (I was only one when it originally aired), I certainly would’ve been upset. However it still made for some good TV and that counts for everything.

As for The Doctor – is he responsible? Yes and no from what I can see. Yes, because by turning against Peri so publicly, he put her in the worst position possible and no, because of the Time Lord’s interference, he never got to her, even if he would’ve been too late to have saved her anyway.

The trial element of this story isn’t as bogging as it were in the previous instalment but there is a terrible sense of repetition as well, necessary as it may be. Eight episodes in and I still can’t find myself compelled by The Valeyard at all. I’d like to blame Michael Jayston, I really would but there’s nothing he’s doing wrong, it’s just the character doesn’t work. Maybe if the writers had ran with a Time Lord that we already knew like The Master as prosecutor, the courtroom scenes would move a bit faster and be less tedious.

Still, The Doctor did come off badly in this story. His feckless attitude to Peri’s requests to stay out of the situation, his public turning on the girl and any scene where you have to be nice to Sil should be a damning offence in its own right. If the other two stories are as damning as this one, then The Doctor really is up the creek without a paddle.

Also in “Mindwarp”

The DVD has the episodes under “The Trial Of A Time Lords Parts 5-8” when you put them on.

Peri (re Thoros Beta): “Far out. Are you quite sure this was the planet you aimed for?”
The Doctor: “Hmm, fancy a swim?”
Peri: “In that goo, no thanks.”

Fans of the new series will undoubtedly recognise Frax actor Trevor Laird as Clive Jones as well as Christopher Ryan (Lord Kiv) as General Staal from “The Sontaran Stratagem”/“The Poison Sky”.

The Doctor: “Thoros Beta’s Sil’s home planet, didn’t you know?”
Peri: “Only because you didn’t tell me, Doctor.”

Crozier (to Matrona): “Yrcanos is a barbarian king. He only knows one thing – how to fight. Therefore he’s fighting our attempts to give him peace and tranquillity.”
Yrcanos: “Scum.”
Crozier: “The more stupid the subject, the longer it takes.”

There seem to be many contradictory outcomes for Peri after this story. In the novel version of this one, Yrcanos gets into the wrestling circuit and she’s his manager.

Kiv: “Enough, Sil. What, you intend to talk me to death?”

Peri: “We’re not on your planet.”
Yrcanos: “It doesn’t matter, the rule still applies.”

For a barbarian, Yrcanos is thankfully devoid of latent sexism. He even told Peri that warrior queens were expected to fight on his home world. How progressive of him.

Sil: “Doctor, the pleasure of your company is infinite but why have you chosen towards us rather than help your friends?”
The Doctor: “The odds were against us. Why should I risk my life for a savage and a stupid girl?”

Peri: “Doctor, what’s wrong with you?”
The Doctor: “I see my own interests. I place myself first.”
Peri: “But what about me?”
The Doctor: “You are expendable. You have no value.”

There’s some nice continuity references to Sil and Peri’s past interaction in “Vengeance On Varos”. Had this season been different, Sil would’ve appeared in the story, “Mission To Magnus”, also written by Philip Martin.

The Doctor (re Kiv): “He’s breathing.”
Sil: “You see as I said – strange, witless humour.”
Crozier: “Thanks for the moral support.”
The Doctor: “Yes, nice to see that you can be relied on to be your usual treacherous self.”
Sil: “I endeavour to maintain a certain continuity.”

The Doctor: “You won’t convict me by using shock tactics.”
The Valeyard: “I require nothing so crude my dear Doctor. All that will prove necessary is the truth.”
The Doctor: “Then tell it.”

Is it me or does the court room scenes still seem a little empty. Shouldn’t there be more Time Lords at present. And why won’t The Doctor get someone like Romana or Leela to defend him?

Mentor: “Thank you.”
Yrcanos: “For your life, it was nothing.”
Mentor: “No, for not shouting.”

Kiv/Peri: “Warm, not cold, the body is warm – wonderful. Legs, toes, toes wriggling. Trunk, a neck strong. Head free of pain. Sight, colours, warm blood inside, oh I like this. Now I am she. Alive in this oh so wonderful frame.”

This story was released on DVD in August 2008 with a commentary from Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Philip Martin. The former two also comment on a certain scene from “The Ultimate Foe” as well.

Out of the four stories, “Mindwarp” is ultimately the best and most devastating one of them all. The Doctor really did have to pay for the consequences of his actions, Peri’s death was awful and the guest characters worked beautifully. Definitely one of the best stories from this era of the series.

Rating: 9 out of 10.