Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x05: "The Angels Take Manhattan"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran

Amy (to Rory): “Together, or not at all.”

Oh boy, I promised I wouldn’t weep when I saw this episode but given how attached I became to Amy and Rory over the last two and a half series, it was a promise I was never going to keep. It’s sadly sunk in that they’ve really gone as companion and in terms of an exit episode this one was an interesting one.

In the past we’ve had the likes of the Dalek, Cybermen, the Master and Davros as the villains that were part of the exits for Rose, Mickey, Jack, Martha and Donna and here, the Ponds found themselves falling victim to the Weeping Angels and it felt just as right for them to have that particular race as their final baddies to contend with.

I know some people have argued that Moffat has overused one of his most popular creations (then again, any creature that has showed up more than once seems to get that accusation) but the use of the Angels really did help to add a sense of occasion and finality to the Ponds and their epic storyline with the Doctor.

You could argue that New York really wasn’t needed as the backdrop for the final episode for Amy and Rory but I’ll give Moffat and director Nick Hurran their dues – they manage to incorporate the city that never sleeps in such a believable way that anywhere else probably wouldn’t have made sense for the story that was told here.

The Angels didn’t just take Manhattan. They focused their energies on the Winter’s Quay apartment block and used it as a battery farm, so they could keep feeding off their victims repeatedly. Garner was the first person that we saw this happening to and sadly for everyone else involved, Rory became the second person also to suffer this fate.

What actually made Rory’s fate all the more poignant was probably how mundane the day had started out for him. He was enjoying a trip in New York with Amy and the Doctor, teasing the latter about fancying a novel character named Melody Malone and when he went to get some coffees, a bunch of creepy Cherubs doomed him to his fate.

The idea of Rory’s fate being a fixed point in that the Angels would keep pursuing him no matter how much or where he ran to did sting for this fan of the character. Even going against the Doctor’s wishes about creating a paradox didn’t seem to help matters. Amy and Rory jumped off a bridge in order to kill the Angels and their battery farm and one of them had to go and survive.

I knew as soon as the gang had landed in the graveyard that they were doomed. We didn’t even need Rory seeing his own tombstone in order to predict that the surviving Angel was going to get him. Compared to the exits of Rose and Donna’s, Rory being sent back in time for the last time felt incredibly quick. Even more quick (but believable) was Amy then saying her goodbyes to the Doctor and River and sacrificing herself to the Angel to be with Rory.

It was around that scene that the floodgates did appear for me. I’ve loved Amy and Rory as companions and both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have consistently impressed and surprised throughout their time on the show but as an exit goes, this was both a painful and bittersweet ending for them that’s slightly more akin to the Classic Series exits for the companions than the previous era.

Of course with Amy and Rory now both dead (but in a part of time where they did live together happy until their deaths), it was interesting seeing the Doctor’s grief for them. I liked that with the afterward Amy had written in the book that the Doctor will probably travel with someone again but it was a shame that River didn’t immediately say yes to him either when he offered her the chance to travel with him.

As for River, I thought she was excellent in this episode but a little more subdued than usual. It was neat that she had used the Melody Malone novel as a means of helping the Doctor throughout the episode when it came to dealing with the Angels and even her parents fate but for the first time in a long while, this episode really wasn’t about her. Of course, given her connection to the Ponds, it would’ve been wrong not to have featured her nonetheless and this episode did nicely imply that we will be seeing her again, if not her parents ever again.

Also in “The Angels Take Manhattan”

Garner did the voiceover for this episode as collection gangster; Grayle had damned him into meeting with the Weeping Angels. Oh and the title sequence had hints of green in it this week.

Garner (re Statue Of Liberty): “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The Statue Of Liberty as a Weeping Angel was something of a naff idea to be honest. The Smiling Angel and the Cherubs with their giggling was far more effective.

The Doctor (re Melody Malone): “You’ve read it?”
Amy: “No, you’ve read it, aloud.”

The Doctor (to Amy): “I hate endings.”

The call back we got to “The Eleventh Hour” was a reference to the scene where Amelia hears the TARDIS in her garden during the morning.

Grayle: “What are you doing?”
River: “Oh, you know, texting a boy.”

The Doctor: “You said I had gotten too big.”
River: “And now, no-one’s ever heard of you. Didn’t you use to be somebody?”

The Doctor and Amy took a short trip to China 221 BC in order to get a lock on where Rory and River were at the time. River also had to break her own wrist to free herself from an Angel and the Doctor used his regenerative abilities to heal her.

Amy: “Okay, why did you lie?”
River (re the Doctor): “Never let him see the damage and never, ever let him see you age. He doesn’t like endings.”

Rory: “Someone please tell me what is going on?”
The Doctor: “I’m sorry Rory but you just died.”

Both Rory and Garner saw older versions of themselves die in this episode. Also the gravestones read as Rory Arthur Williams, age 82 and Amelia Williams age 87.

Amy: “You think you’ll just come back to life?”
Rory: “When don’t I?”

Amy: “Raggedy man, goodbye.”

Standout music: Murray Gold’s music in the last ten minutes of the episode and the use of “Illegal Alien” at the start certainly stood out.

River: “What matters is this, Doctor, don’t travel alone.”
The Doctor: “Travel with me, then.”

Amy (to the Doctor): “Hello, old friend and here we are, you and me on the last page.”

Chronology: Both in 1930s and 2012 New York for the gang and also this episode is set after “Flesh And Stone” for River.

“The Angels Take Manhattan” was certainly an excellent but bittersweet way to end the journey of Amy and Rory as characters. In some ways, Moffat had his cake yet again with killing them off but making sure they died together and happy and that for me, was a satisfying way of ending their story, though I still feel bad for the Doctor, River, Brian, Augustus, Tabetha, Sharon and everyone else who mattered to the Ponds. Still from the brief look of the Christmas trailer we got, it does look like Clara will be able to fill the void in the Doctor’s life now that he’s two companions down.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Friday, September 28, 2012

Soap Discussion - September 2012

And here's a soap blog ....

Coronation Street: Not the best month we've had. Still don't really care about Gary and Izzy's surrogacy storyline (which still seems rushed) and the arrival of Stella's overbearing mother Gloria hasn't proved too exciting but at least Kirsty has given birth to a baby she called Ruby and the storylines with her and Tyrone continue to be interesting as she struggles with motherhood and the return of her parents while turning everyone against Tommy and Tina.

EastEnders: Actually a pretty solid month for storylines. Carly briefly returned and took Shirley out of Walford with her, Kat's affair was revealed to Alfie (and her mystery shagger narrowed to a Branning, naturally), Sharon was revealed to have an addiction while continuing her flirty banter with Jack, we got a new character in Danny, giving Christian and Syed some storyline before their exit in November and of course, Janine's paranoia got the best of her and she left Michael and Scarlett as well. Already I miss her.

Emmerdale: I wish the writers would realise just how little chemistry both Laurel and Marlon actually have because their whole relationship has been mostly a source of tedium for the last month, especially with the merging of Marlon's destroyed friendships with Paddy and Rhona and well, basically, it's just rubbish to watch. At least Carl being back to his mercilessly scheming ways with Chas and Cameron provided some entertainment this month.

Hollyoaks: This year's Later finally pushed Brendan into darker territory than I think he can recover from but on the plus side, it also revealed more about his childhood and the inevitable war between him and Walker is looking good. It was also nice to see some more on Joel's backstory but did we really have to suffer the gormless idiots that are Bart, Jono and Neil and their boring antics in Amsterdam? It's just as bad as Maddie's pathetic campaign against Esther, Ally's myriad of lies and Doug's new found clingy attitude with Ste as well. On the plus side, the Rhys/Cindy tryst despite coming out of nowhere is fun to watch and Mercedes new levels of craziness in order to get back at Riley and Mitzeee has also been rather compelling to watch in it's own way.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Catching Up

Not the most imaginative of titles but between actually catching up with one show before it's next season arrives and watching opening episodes, mid-season finales and actual finales, I've been well, catching up.

Downton Abbey: ITV1's ratings juggernaut may not have bagged many of the 16 Emmys it was nominated over the weekend (though congrats to Maggie Smith for her win) but it did manage to make Sundays back into must see TV once again. I'm not gonna pretend the writing for Series 3 is perfect but it's certain an improvement compared to last series. Granted, the finance problems of Downton and Bates jail time are both storylines that need to be clipped rather sharpish but it's nice to see Edith get some attention, Mary and Matthew quickly married and the fun banter between Violet and Martha as well. Overall, a few niggles aside, the new series is actually a lot of fun.

Glee: Sequels are rarely as good as their originals and for this show to do a second episode about Britney Spears (sorry, I mean Brittany S. Pierce), the point remains valid. The songs apart from maybe 3 and You Drive Me Crazy/Crazy mash up didn't click as well as they could've and while the balance between Kurt/Rachel's New York antics and the new(ish) McKinley lot are still good, I'm not yet sold on the triangle of Marley/Jake/Kitty and I really want to see more of Puck and Santana than the 30 seconds of both we managed to get in this episode. And no more Justin Bieber songs, show. I don't care how young your audience is, the older viewers don't need that torture.

Once Upon A Time: The last time I talked about this show, I had seen eight episodes. Now I've seen eighteen of them and I've gone through all the backstories of the likes of Sidney, Hansel/Gretal, Belle, Jefferson, Red/Ruby and now Regina and this show has still managed to impress me at every turn going. I'll admit there are times when the Mary Margaret/David storyline can drag a little and it does seem annoying that Emma is constantly outsmarted by both Regina and Gold but with four episodes left to watch of the first season, this has definitely become one of my new favourites in such a short space of time.

Sinbad: I've been dipping in and out of the last three episodes because while the show started off intriguingly enough, certain other episode did seem to lag a bit, especially the werewolf themed episode. The finale was decent though, giving us a believable enough backstory for all of Taryn's previous actions, so if the series does get a renewal from Sky1, hopefully it will improve on it's mistakes. It hasn't been a bad series but it could've been a lot better though.

White Collar: Okay, any excuse to post a picture of Matt Bomer in all his boxing glory but the last few episodes of the first half of Season 4 have been full of fun, haven't they? I did like the scenes with Neal and Peter together at the conference (though their partnership has always been the core of this show) and the reveal about Sam's real identity was pretty obvious but effective nonetheless. Just a few months until the second half but least this batch of ten episodes from the first have left us wanting more.

The X Factor UK: I've been watching both of the US and UK versions of this show and on both sides of the Atlantic, I can't help wondering if this franchise is really dying on it's arse. The ratings for either show aren't worrying but they're hardly spectacular either. I guess maybe, it's because at this rate we know this show isn't going to produce an international global superstar (and no, One Direction do not count). Still, it's judges houses in the UK version this weekend, so it'll be interesting to see who we're reduced to by the end of Sunday's episode.

- Annabeth Gish will be playing the role of Anita, a leader of a wolf pack in an upcoming episode of Once Upon A Time.
- NBC are planning a modern update for Wuthering Heights under the title of Napa. Oh Jesus - why?
- NBC have also renewed The Voice for two more season as well.
- Henry Ian Cusick will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-0.
- Matthew Broderick will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Modern Family.
- White Collar and Covert Affairs have been renewed by USA Network for a further year.
- Bernadette Peters will be returning as Ivy's mother for the second season of Smash.
- Fans of Max Adler will be disappointed to learn that the producers do not intend to bring back Karofsky for the latest season of Glee.
- Although not yet confirmed, AMC are planning a fourth season of The Walking Dead.
- Andrew Leeds has signed on for a mysterious role in the upcoming season of Grey's Anatomy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x04: "The Power Of Three"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon

The Doctor: “You’re thinking of stopping, aren’t you? You and Rory?”
Amy: “No, I mean we haven’t made a decision.”

And what a difference two and a half years (or ten years on and off from another POV) can make. Could anyone have imagined back in Series 5 that Amy Pond would actually consider wanting to stop travelling with the Doctor? Rory, yes, to a certain extent but Amy, not quite as much but then again, things change.

I think what I really enjoyed the most about this episode was the duality of Amy and Rory’s dynamic with the Doctor and vice versa. Both of them were left back on Earth at the end of “The God Complex” and have effectively gotten on with their lives, even enjoying being normal again but at the same time, the Doctor is still a hard thing to give up.

I think this episode really highlighted that duality in several scenes, notably the one between the Doctor and Amy outside UNIT’s latest secret base where he openly brought up the discussion of her and Rory wanting to stop travelling with him altogether. Amy made the point about it feeling like running away but at the same time, it didn’t stop her and Rory have several adventures with the Doctor when they were supposed to be celebrating their wedding anniversary as well with family and friends.

This episode really was about the Doctor’s relationship with the Ponds and how it’s grown over the last two and a half years (or again, ten years on and off) and I found even delightful when in the middle of danger on a spaceship, even Rory was quick to quip about missing the running bit and defying the Doctor’s orders of staying back. That relationship between the Doctor and Rory has also developed beautifully in so much time.

And then there was the welcome return of Brian Williams. Mark Williams was pitch perfect in trying to help out the gang with the main problem of the week but I also liked him for actually asking the Doctor about the previous people who’ve travelled with him as well, before later encouraging Amy and Rory to keep doing so. Of course, Brian’s scenes did really lend to some foreshadowing about the events of “The Angels Take Manhattan” but they were effective scenes nonetheless at the same time.

Similarly effective wasn’t so much the return of UNIT (who were pretty underused in this episode) but more the introduction of the Brigadier’s daughter in Kate Stewart (for those of us who haven’t seen Downtime). Yes, it was one of those things that I knew about beforehand but the character’s addition to the episode was wonderful nonetheless.

I’ll admit that Kate arguably could’ve been given a lot more to have done than she did here but wasn’t Jemma Redgrave just brilliant as Miss Stewart regardless? Kate’s progressive (or more scientific) approach towards dealing with the invasion of the very small cubes might have been seen as a little too PC for some but I like that UNIT are shown to be a little more ask questions/study things rather than just blow it up nowadays, so overall it was a development that worked for me.

I’ll be really disappointed if Kate isn’t a character that returns at some point in the series as well. This episode was a nice introduction and while we don’t need to see UNIT all the time, I do hope it won’t be another three years until the series actually utilises them in an episode as well. Besides, the Doctor needs another Lethbridge in his life and Kate definitely seemed more than perfect for the role.

As for the main problem itself – I won’t lie. To be honest, more thought probably should’ve been put into the resolution of the cubes and the Shakri because their attempts of wiping out humanity and subsequent defeat did seem a little rushed but at the same time, just this once, I really will let it slide.

I’ll let it slide given the amusing subversion on the nature of invasion type stories this episode provided and the fact that this episode was more about the Ponds and the Doctor rather than the latest invasion on Earth.

Also in “The Power Of Three”

This episode’s title sequence is actually my favourite we’ve seen from the whole Moffat. I wouldn’t mind a permanent variation on it from now on.

Rory (to Amy): “We have two lives – real life and Doctor life.”

Rory seems to be some kind of an agency nurse who the hospital wanted to keep permanently and Amy has become a travel journalist.

Rory: “What do you think we do when we aren’t with you?”
The Doctor: “I imagine mostly kissing.”

Rory: “There are soldiers all over my house and I’m in my pants.”
Amy: “My whole life, I’ve dreamed of saying that and I miss it by being someone else.”

Because this episode played out like something from the RTD era, we actually got celebrity appearances with the likes of Alan Sugar and Brian Cox.

The Doctor (to Amy/Rory): “I hate being patient. Patience is for wimps. I can’t live like this, don’t make me. I need to be busy.”

I actually felt sorry for the Doctor that the cubes being so slow to do anything drove him mad (though he accomplished a lot in an hour) but the fact that he stayed for nearly a year because of Amy and Rory was lovely as well as them eating fish fingers and custard together.

Rory: “Did real life just get started?”
Amy: “I like it.”
Rory: “So do I.”

Brian: “What happened to the other people who travel with you?”
The Doctor: “Some left me, some got left behind and some, not many, but some died. Not them, not them, Brian, never them.”

Amy became a bridesmaid for her mate Laura and her girlfriend’s wedding while celebrating her own anniversary with Rory and the Doctor in 1890s Savoy (with Zygon) and accidentally marrying Henry the 8th too.

Kate: “Yes, I got officers trained in beheading. Also, ravens of death.”
Amy (to the Doctor): “I like her.”

The Doctor: “I’m running towards you and Rory before you fade from me.”
Amy: “Don’t be nice to me. I don’t want you to be nice to me.”
The Doctor: “Yeah, you do, Pond and you always get what you want.”

Even though I suppose they weren’t needed, it might have been nice to have seen Amy’s parents and River or had an update on Mickey and Martha as well. Plus we got to see Christmas and there was something else with light bulbs as well.

Shakri: “You’re too late, Doctor, the tally shall be met.”

The Doctor: “Run!”
Rory: “I’m gonna miss this.”

Standout music: Not the Birdie Song but definitely David Guetta/Sia’s “Titanium” and Murray Gold’s use of classics in relation to the Ponds.

Brian (re Amy/Rory): “Actually, it’s you they can’t give up, Doctor and I don’t think they should.”

Chronology: This episode took place within the confines of a year, but it’s been ten years on and off for Amy and Rory since they first started travelling with the Doctor.

The invasion storyline may not have been the strength of “The Power Of Three” but as a character piece for the Doctor, Amy and Rory and the impact they’ve had on each other’s lives (with some neat opening/closing narrations from Amy), this episode deserves a lot of respect. I really am going to miss Amy and Rory, maybe even more because of this episode.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, September 21, 2012

Being Human - Series 5 Update

A little bit of an update since the last time I posted about the show.

According to Twitter, it seems that half of Being Human's fifth season has been filmed with Damien Molony (Hal) tweeting a picture of the script for the finale. There's still another month and a bit to go on production of the new series and while we haven't gotten anything too spoilery over the last few weeks, I did remember reading something about two new characters called Vernon and Clara, though what their connection will be to our main characters shall be interesting to see.

Elsewhere former cast member Russell Tovey has recently been reported to have said that he wants a George/Nina spin-off with former co-star Sinead Keenan apparently backing him. Of course, Tovey has recently been doing some audio projects in relation to the show, so more than likely he was probably joking about a spin-off. Besides, George/Nina are both sadly dead, so I guess unless Toby Whithouse wants to do a show about ghost-werewolves, I guess we shouldn't hold our breaths.

Series 5 Filming Pictures:
Russell Tovey Report:

Being Human's fifth series will air on BBC3 from 2013.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Switch - ITV2 Release A Trailer

ITV2 finally released a trailer for their upcoming supernatural themed series, Switch and it definitely looks like an interesting, if definitely lighter show compared to Being Human. Narrated by Lacey Turner, who plays Stella, the trailer sees the girls trying different types of spells (Jude copping off with a gay man, due to a love spell, Grace using a confidence spell, Hannah being hexed apparently and Stella using an amnesia spell on her boss) as well as meeting their witchy rivals. I am hoping there's a bit more substance to the series and that it's not too lighthearted but it does look at least fun.

Series 1 Trailer:

Switch airs on ITV2 from October. Times and dates to be confirmed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x03: "A Town Called Mercy"

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Saul Metzstein

The Doctor (re Kahler-Jex): “Today I honour the victims first. His, the Master’s, the Daleks. All the people who died because of my mercy.”
Amy: “See, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well, listen to me, Doctor, we can't be like him. We have to be better than him.”

Oh boy – this was an interesting episode. Yes, we’ve been here before though. We’ve seen that travelling on his own for too long can have something of an adverse effect on the Doctor and if “The Waters Of Mars” didn’t emphasise the point three years ago, then this episode definitely rammed the message home big time.

When it came to mercy, the Doctor raised an alarmingly valid point. His mercy in past stories towards the likes of the Daleks and the Master certainly didn’t see either of them learn and become greater beings and it seemed that perhaps being merciful to the likes of Kahler-Jex could’ve resulted in the same thing as well. Except, it didn’t.

Sure, the Doctor had the right to be disgusted with Jex and the methods the scientist took to win a war back on his home planet but he also had to at least listen to Jex’s point of view as well. Even after being held at gunpoint by Jex, Amy managed to see that the Doctor allowing the Gunslinger to kill the scientist wasn’t a smart decision, even if it also ended up in Isaac’s death as well.

I did love that confrontation scene between the Doctor and Amy because for all the fans out there who don’t like the character, it’s evident that within the three series she’s travelled on and off with the Doctor that she can understand him and certain situations better at times. She stopped him from making a big mistake with Jex and the Gunslinger but only just.

The Doctor certainly wanted to see Jex pay for his crimes (namely being responsible for creating the Gunslinger in the first place) and the scenes between both Matt Smith and Adrian Scarborough certainly evoked similar themes that had been explored with the Doctor and Margaret back in “Boom Town”, except here they managed to be even more uncomfortable than they were back then.

As for the Gunslinger – if I had to pick, it would’ve been his, truth be told. He had every right to want to exact revenge on Jex for what had been done to him but at the same time, he also had no problem threatening innocent lives in order to get what he wanted. In the end, this episode certainly took an interesting turn of events for the Gunslinger and Jex.

Unlike the Master and the Daleks, Jex went from staunchly defending his actions, taunting the Doctor about his morality being a prison and fearing the afterlife to actually committing suicide in a bid to repent. Thematically, it did seem like Jex was genuinely atoning for his actions but it did make me wonder if he really did have the right to decide his own outcome.

The Gunslinger on the other hand seemed to fall into the role of Mercy’s protector, which was obviously a nice reversal on being the town’s threat I guess. That being said though, after Jex’s death, it kind of seemed obvious that was going to happen, even more so as it was unlikely that the Doctor and Amy were going to hold onto their appointed roles as Sheriff and Deputy following Isaac’s death.

Speaking of Isaac, I know some viewers felt that this episode was a wasted of Ben Browder’s talents but I thought it wasn’t. Sure, it would’ve been nice if he had actually survived the episode but the few scenes he had, he made work effortlessly and it made Isaac’s death all the more effective for it.

In fact, if there was any character in this story that was underused, it was actually Rory. A few comments here and there was all Rory really had to do in this episode, which was a shame but seeing as Whithouse has written for the character brilliantly in the past, I’ll let him off just this once. Besides, we all know the next two episodes are going to be big for Mr Williams anyways.

Also in “A Town Called Mercy”

I love the little changes we’re getting every week to the title sequence and the deep red this week worked really well.

Rory: “The sign does say 'keep out'.”
The Doctor: “I see ‘keep out’ signs more as suggestions rather than actual orders. Like ‘dry clean only’”.

There was a little girl who narrated the start and finish of this episode.

The Doctor (to preacher, re horse): “No, it isn’t. I speak horse and he’s called Susan and he wants you to respect his life choices.”

Jex: “You’re a mother, aren’t you?”
Amy: “How did you know?”
Jex: “There’s a kindness in your eyes and sadness and a ferocity too.”

Once again, we’ve been getting mentions of Christmas and seeing light bulbs and Jex’s ship resembled an egg for some reason.

Jex (re the Doctor): “He isn’t following the plan.”
Amy: “Welcome to my world.”

The Doctor (to Amy/Rory/Isaac): “This man is a murderer.”
Jex: “I am a scientist.”
The Doctor: “Sit down. Sit down!”

Because it absolutely has to be pointed out, even I thought multiple times that Sadie the barmaid looked way too much like River to the point where it was distracting.

Isaac (to the Doctor): “Protect Jex. Protect my town. You’re both good men. You just forget it sometimes.”

Amy: “Oh my God, you’re the sheriff.”
The Doctor: “Yeah, and you’re the deputy.”

Standout music: Murray Gold’s score music for this episode was exquisite. Some of the most beautiful and evocative music he’s done for the series.

Jex (to the Doctor): “You want to hand me over. There’s no shame in that but you won’t. We all carry our prisons with us. Mine is my past, yours is your morality.”

Gunslinger (to the Doctor, re Jex): “He behaved with honour at the end. Maybe more than me.”

Chronology: None was specified since Amy and Rory’s last encounter with the Doctor from “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship”.

“A Town Called Mercy” might not have been as action packed as the first two episodes this series, but it was certainly the heaviest episodes in terms of morality for the Doctor, Jex and the Gunslinger. For that reason alone, it’s definitely a standout episode.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Glee - A Not So New Rachel. A Newish Show

Warning, there are spoilers here for the opening episode of Glee's fourth season, The New Rachel. I won't be doing this every week but the premiere called for it.

So, last time we saw the show, half the cast graduated and while the majority of them were not in the episode (yay to no Finn, meh on no Puck, Mike or Quinn and boo to no Santana), the only two graduates to appear in this episode were Rachel (making sense as the episode's named after her) and Kurt. Of course, I'll focus on Rachel first. Her storyline can be summed up with meeting a cute guy, pining for Finn, being shocked by Carmen (Whoopi Goldberg) callously cutting a girl from NYADA after a bad performance of Ave Maria while getting the unfortunate moniker of Schwimmer and incurring the wrath of her alcoholic dance teacher, Cassandra July (which sounds like a porn name). I'm not the greatest fans of Kate Hudson but she's pretty solid as Cassandra and her performance of the mashup of Americano/Dance Again worked a treat. Chances are though, the longer she survives on the show, the more chances are Rachel will win her around but right now, the latter needs to toughen up a little bit. Besides, Rachel at least had two people in her corner in this episode and neither of them were Finn.

Elsewhere Kurt seemed to be stuck in a bit of a rut, serving caffeinated drinks to bitchy cheerleaders and awaiting community college before Burt gave him one hell of an encouraging speech and sent him on his way to New York. Boy, I really do love those scenes with Kurt and his father and the end scene of this episode is one of my favourites ever. This of course, was also after Blaine serenaded him a lovely version of It's Time too. I liked that Blaine had a bit more bite as a character in this episode and Darren Criss gave one of his better musical performances in this one too. It's also nice to see that while Kurt and Blaine were happy together, we also got a bit of an update on Brittany and Santana but there are some stormy times ahead within the next few weeks with these two couples and two others, so I guess we should enjoy it while it lasts.

As for the Gleeks themselves, it's interesting that for a moment that New Directions was suddenly popular but I wasn't too fond on seeing the new found popularity go to the gang's heads though. Blaine, Tina, Brittany and Unique fighting to be the new Rachel was tiresome and by the way, it's obvious that Marley (Melissa Benoist) is going to be fulfilling that role and not Blaine, even if he did get the 'award' from Artie. Of course, the downside of being popular means that it doesn't last and the gang quickly became unpopular again, due to apologising for ridiculing Marley's mother but if I never hear Call Me Maybe again, I'll be pleased.

Last but not least - the new folk. Well, I liked them actually. All of them. Brody (Dean Geyer) does seem to be little more than totty but it's nice to see someone else interested in Rachel romantically and there's a decent chemistry with them while Kitty (Becca Tobin) did come across as a carbon copy of Quinn, even down to the ponytail. However, if Murphy and company can keep her a bitch, she might be the better for it. I quite liked Jake (Jacob Artist) and his version of Never Say Never trumped the Marley/Rachel take on New York State Of Mind in my opinion but I really don't want him to be another Puck, though I did like his scenes with Will. As for Rory, wasn't bothered by his absence, Unique was okay but I can only take the character in small doses, Sue's baby Robin is cute, Sugar and Joe were just there and Marley, I really like her. Yes, she's like Rachel but she doesn't have the ruthless streak, she's enjoyable and her backstory while a little too similar to Sam's still worked for me. Overall, the balance between Ohio and New York worked well and if the show can retain this throughout the fourth season, then it will be a good thing. Also, ending the episode with Chasing Pavements - works for me.

Glee Season 4 airs Thursdays at 9pm on FOX and will air on Sky1 from January 2013.

Revenge - Season 2 Cast Pictures

I know, two blogs about this show in less than week but hey, the new cast pictures are worth a gander at.

Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp): She's got more flashbacks and present day adventures with both Takeda, Nolan and Aidan and there might be a new lover for her. Oh and there's the arrival of her mother too.

Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann): He'll be further helping Emily out in her revenge antics as well as getting a female lover in the new season.

Charlotte Grayson (Christa B. Allen): Last season it seemed like she had killed herself but given that we've got a cast picture, chances are that Charlotte is alive.

Declan Porter (Connor Paolo): Him and Charlotte are still broken up but he'll be getting new friends who are a bad influence on him.

Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler): He's marrying Amanda in the opening episode and thinks she's carrying his child as well as pining for Emily.

Ashley Davenport (Ashley Madekwe): She's got her claws into Daniel but even she must know their relationship is unlikely to last.

Daniel Grayson (Joshua Bowman): He's with Ashley but might not be over Emily and then there's more problems with his dysfunctional family.

Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny): Not only does he more to worry about with Emily's vendetta against his family but his other family are also coming to the Hamptons pretty soon too.

Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe): We'll know if she survived the plane crash (oh come on, we know she has), we're meeting her mother and she's got a past with Emily's mother too.

And here's a group shot of the cast together with black clouds and thunder. Looks pretty doomy but at least there's only another 15 days to go before we finally get to see the second season and if it manages to retain the excellence of the first year, it's gonna be another thrilling ride. Also look out for some perspective web episodes from the main cast as well, which are worth looking at.

Season 2 Cast Pictures:

Season 2 of Revenge airs Sundays at 9pm on ABC from September 30th.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wizards Vs.Aliens - Cast Picture/Casting News

So, you know, spoilers and all that.

And here is the first proper cast picture of Scott Haran as boy wizard, Tom Clarke and Percelle Ascott as best mate, Benny Sherwood in the upcoming series, Wizards Vs. Aliens by Russell T. Davies. I have to admit, I am rather intrigued by the series. The casting so far has included the likes of Annette Badland, Gwendoline Christie, Nina Sossanya and Don Gilet and now an even more interesting cast member has been announced ...

It seems that King Yrcanos himself, Brian Blessed will be playing the role of the Nekross King in the series, the main antagonists for Tom and Benny who feed on magic. Russell T. Davies has also been on pointing out that the scenes on Earth and the ones with Nekross will contrast with each other as wizards were previously unaware of alien existence. It looks like it's going to be some battle. As a replacement for The Sarah Jane Adventures, this is starting to shape up rather nicely.

Casting News:

Wizards Vs. Aliens is due to air on CBBC next month.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Merlin - Will Series 5 Be The End?

I only ask the question because over the last few days on certain sites, there seems to be something of a fuss about a tweet that mentioned about sets being closed but more than that there was also a tweet from an actor about the show being cancelled (before being promptly deleted). Plus, the BBC haven't confirmed anything beyond this upcoming series (due to air later in the month) and the rumours of a movie franchise, which may or may not be a continuation or a reboot of the franchise itself.

It could be just a case of whispers and paranoia amongst fans but it's certainly been generating a fair amount of interesting discussions online nonetheless. Personally, I'd rather wait and see what the fifth series actually brings before anything else. For all we know, Series 5 could give the show a good final send off or end in a manner to lead into movies or a sixth series. It's hard to deny that the show has been a massive success for the BBC and I doubt they'd axe with ease. Still, until we get some actual confirmation on Merlin's future, we really are going to have to wait and see.

What does everyone else think? Is the end approaching for the show or does it have another series or two worth of material in it?

Cultbox Article:

Merlin's fifth series is due to air on October 6th on BBC1.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Revenge - Season 2 Update

With less than three weeks to go for the new season, here's an update on what to expect for the second year of Revenge.

- The first episode is now called Destiny and will actually feature Jennifer Jason Leigh as Kara Wallace Clarke in flashbacks. We'll meet her character in the present day later in the season.
- Barry Sloane's character is now called Aidan Mathis, rather than Ethan.
- It will air alongside both Once Upon A Time and 666 Park Avenue.
- Victoria and Kara (in news that will shock no-one) have a past with each other.

- Nolan's new love interest will be played by Greek actress, Dilshad Vadsaria. 
- Other guest stars to look forward to are Michael Nardelli as Trey,  Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Takeda and Wendy Crewson as Helen and J.R Bourne as Kenny.
- Other episode titles include Resurrection, Confidence and Intuition. Episode 5 is currently being filmed as we speak.
- The season will begin with Jack/Amanda's wedding and an event that will be explained later in the season.

Season 2 Trailer:

Season 2 of Revenge airs on ABC, Sundays at 9pm from September 30th.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dallas - A Cultural Icon Returns

And so it did, on both TV3 (Mondays 10pm) and Five (Wednesdays 9pm) and I ended up having to catch a repeat.

I'm not going to lie about Dallas - it's not a big thing for me. Like many, I'm well aware of moments like 'Who Shot JR?' and Bobby stepping out of the shower and CBS Drama tends to air repeats of the original run but at the same time, it wasn't a show I avidly watched. I was however determined to give the new version a go and judging by the first episode alone, I'm actually rather glad that I did.

TNT commissioned the show for a nice round of ten episodes and from what I can see, this is simply no remake, but more of an actual continuation of the series itself. It's been twenty years since the original series aired and this new version sees the animosity going over to both JR and Bobby's sons, John Ross and Christopher Ewing as both lads fight for supremacy over Southfork Ranch with each fella seemingly inheriting their fathers admirable and deplorable traits.

I have to admit, I wasn't exactly jumping for joy with the castings of both Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher) and Josh Henderson (John Ross) but compared to their days on Desperate Housewives, it does seem that both lads have actually progressed a bit as actors and throughout the pilot episode alone, they were actually rather solid. It's hard to actually side with either guy but it does seem like the rivarly between John Ross and Christopher will be every bit as interesting as the long standing one between JR and Bobby was and still is within the show.

As for the rest of the cast - the likes of Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and JR (Larry Hagman) are more or less the same as they were back in the original show, Sue-Ellen (Linda Gray) has cleaned herself up and gotten into politics while Bobby's new wife, Ann (Brenda Strong) also has a likeable presence but the ladies in Christopher and John Ross's lives do need a bit more gumption about them. Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) seemed a little bland and I'm not sure if Elena's (Jordana Brewster) obvious love triangle between the lads will be sustainable enough but it was a good start and the fact that it's amassed some excellent ratings over this side of the pond seems to have proved that some people haven't tired of the Ewings just yet.

Dallas airs on both TV3, Mondays at 10pm and Wednesdays at 9pm on Five. Season 2 will air on TNT from January 2013.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x02: "Dinosaurs On A Spaceship"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Saul Metzstein

Amy: “Doctor!”
The Doctor: “I know – dinosaurs on a spaceship.”

If ever there was a title that could be taken literally, it’s definitely this episode. If you were hoping for actual dinosaurs on a spaceship, well then, this episode certainly delivered on that promise and more.

I know when an episode happens to be penned by Chris Chibnall, it seems like a lot of viewers are almost waiting for the man to fudge it up but with this episode, he gave easily one of the most bonkers and fun set pieces you could’ve imagined.

Chibnall was wise enough to realise that the novelty of dinosaurs on a spaceship wouldn’t be enough to sustain the episode, so he found different ways of making it interesting. The fact that the Silurians were making an attempt to preserve the last remaining dinosaurs by sending them on a spaceship for a new world worked as an explanation for the title.

But what happened to the Silurians themselves? This episode should’ve been crawling with them and low and behold, we also quickly learned that a nasty bounty hunter named Solomon woke them up from their sleep and ejected them out of the ship when they wouldn’t hand over the dinosaurs for him to sell.

Basically, unlike Chibnall’s other Silurian adventures, they were actually the heroes in this one – albeit, tragic unseen ones (excluding the briefly seen Bleytal) apart from the moment where Amy was piecing things together but more on Miss Pond’s savvy later in the review.

I liked that the dinosaurs weren’t actually the problem of the episode. Yes, they were on a spaceship that was due a collision course with the Earth and the Doctor assembled a rag tag team of sorts in order to prevent that from happening and Indira and her missile happy organisation from blowing the ship up as well.

Instead, it was Solomon who was the nasty piece of work in this episode and David Bradley made the character into quite a deplorable piece of work with finesse. Killing the Silurians for the dinosaurs had been start but along with threatening our gang at various points in the episode, it was the means of acquiring Queen Nefertiti that really left bad taste for this particular viewer.

I’m actually surprised that Chibnall managed to get away with the lines Solomon spouted about wanting to break the Egyptian queen but his antics in the end did cost him spectacularly when the Doctor left Solomon in dire consequences. Seeing the Doctor react in such a brutal manner was shocking but it seems that if next week’s episode is anything to go by, there will be some consequences for his actions.

As for the rag tag team of the episode – well, what a bunch of interesting characters we got here. Amy and Rory was one thing but the addition of the latter’s father, Brian was a lot of fun. Mark Williams was such an effortless choice to play Rory’s dad and he’s every bit as cautious as his son can be from time to time but I did like that by the end of the episode, Brian went from being against travelling to going on many expeditions of his own.

It’s nice that such a fleeting enough with the Doctor could have a positive influence on Brian in that regards. Plus, the fact that it was him who figured out that both he and Rory could fly the ship due to them genetics really did demonstrate where Rory got his savvy from.

Then there was mixture of game hunter John Riddell and Queen Nefertiti, who between them became Amy’s companions more than the Doctor’s and had more innuendo charged moments with each other than an entire Sunday marathon of Carry On movies. Still, there was some excellent chemistry between Rupert Graves and Riann Steele and both characters were immensely enjoyable to watch in this one.

As for the Ponds themselves – Amy and Rory are definitely in a better place than they were in the previous episode and while they were largely seperated from each other on the spaceship, it does seem that their marriage is in a good place, even if there was some obvious foreshadowing in relation to their dynamic with the Doctor and Amy’s inability to stick at a job for a certain amount of time. Still, it was nice seeing them once again,

Also in “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship”

I’m guessing ISA, the organisation that Indira works for has some form of a connection with UNIT, right?

The Doctor: “Time flies. Never really understood that phrase.”

Rory got a snog from the Doctor in this episode, which means that Mickey, Sarah Jane and Wilfred are the only new series companions not to have that type of contact with the Doctor. Anyone want to bet what episode Clara will snog/get snogged by the Doctor?

Rory (to Brian): “Dad, I’m thirty one. I don’t have a Christmas list any more.”
The Doctor: “I do.”

Amy (to Riddell): “Face it, she’s way cooler than you.”
Nefertiti: “And you, Amy, are you also a queen?”
Amy: “Yes, yes I am.”

This is the second episode in a row to reference Christmas, have something about the Doctor having no evidence (Solomon’s scanners couldn’t identify him) and also something musical related – this time around Four Hands by Schubert.

Robots (to the Doctor/Rory/Brian): “We’re very cross with you.”

Solomon: “It’s fate that you came.”
The Doctor: “Is it? I'm the Doctor.”
Solomon: “Yes, I know. I’m Solomon.”

This episode seemed to give a rather interesting answer in relation to Nefertiti’s disappearance as well as a new planet named Siluria that Brian later visited with the Doctor.

Solomon: “You won’t profit from me, Doctor.”
The Doctor: “Don’t ever judge me by your own standards, Solomon.”

Amy (to Nefertiti, re Riddell): “So, human keeping potion or walking innuendo, take your pick.”

I did love the scene with the Doctor, Rory and Brian using a triceratops to escape with the use of golf balls. Too bad the poor thing died at the hands of Solomon’s annoying robots (voiced by David Mitchell and Robert Webb).

The Doctor (to Rory/Brian): “Guys, comedy gold. Where’s a Silurian audience when you need them?”

Riddell: “You know what I want more than anything?”
Amy: “Lessons in gender politics?”

While Confidential may no longer exist, the BBC site is still providing behind the scenes clips of each episode as a consolation.

Solomon: “You wouldn’t leave me, Doctor.”
The Doctor: “Enjoy your bounty.”

Chronology: It’s been ten months since the events of “Asylum Of The Daleks” for Amy and Rory.

“Dinosaurs On A Spaceship” won’t go down as a classic, but you’d want to be a right misery guts not to have laughed a bit during the episode. It had fantastic dinosaurs, great guest characters, some witty banter and Solomon really was a nasty piece of work. It mightn’t persuade me that Chibnall should run the series after Moffat but this was a hoot nonetheless.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, September 07, 2012

Glee - Season 4 Cast Pictures: Boys

And here are the pics of the boys for the fourth season of Glee, along with some spoilers about what they'll be getting up to.

Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale): It seems he wants to be the alpha male of the new season. Expect him to be getting a love interest and he'll also be performing a duet with Blaine in the second episode.

Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss): There's a major moment for him and Kurt in the fourth episode and he'll be competing with Brittany for class president.

Brody Weston (Dean Geyer): One of Rachel's NYADA friends and a possible love interest for her as well in the new season.

Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith): He won't be in the opening episode but when we do see him, there's a major moment for him and Rachel.

Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist): He's Puck's younger brother, has a similar bad boy attitude to his sibling and will apparently be getting involved with Marley as well.

Kurt Hummell (Chris Colfer): He's in Lima for a bit, will be having a major turning point in his relationship with Blaine and will also be working with Vogue editor Isabelle Klempt (Sarah Jessica Parker).

Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr): Like Puck, Emma, Finn and Quinn, Mike won't be around for a bit but it does seem that him and Tina are still going strong.

Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling): We're not seeing him in the early part of the season but he will be back though and I'm sure we'll have scenes with him and his younger brother.

Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet): Newly promoted to a regular, he'll be getting a love interest in the new season.

Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison): Both him and Emma's relationship takes centre stage in the fourth episode of the new season.

Season 4 Call Me Promo:

Glee's fourth season will air Thursdays at 9pm on FOX from September 13th and will premiere on Sky1 from January 2013.