Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Review of DaVinci's Demons 1x03: "The Prisoner"

Written by Scott M. Gimple And David S. Goyer
Directed by Jamie Payne

Mother Superior (to Giuliano): “You and your brother have denied God’s will. Did you think there wouldn’t be a cost?”
DaVinci: “The cost is dear to be sure but I’m not yet convinced it was the Lord who levied it.”

That’s because this episode had made it painfully obvious from the get go that the poor nuns and everyone inflicted were little more than pawns in the latest scheme at the hands of the Vatican. Truth is, none of us needed DaVinci in order to deduce that or even to spot that it would boil down to Lucrezia contaminating St Anthony’s foot with ergot at Riario’s behest but at the same time, this was an interesting diversion for the most part.

I think the reason why I found this episode a little more interesting was down to the grudging partnership between DaVinci and Lorenzo’s younger brother for a change. Giuliano hasn’t held back in his general distaste for DaVinci and this episode alone he attacked the man twice but at the same time when nuns were getting possessed and Lupo Mercuri was throwing his weight about the place, it was DaVinci whom Giuliano seemed more responsive to as well.

Possessed nuns alone screaming about the Medici family continuing to commit blasphemy wasn’t going to be enough alone to carry this episode, so delving into Vanessa’s prior history with the convent and putting her life at stake when she too became infected with the fungal poison was a good way of trying to give the plot some poignancy.

There were at least two moments in the episode where I did actually think Vanessa was going to die and her comments on DaVinci viewing his friends as toys was both a little sad and oddly laced with some truth as his thirst for knowledge didn’t particularly endear him this week. I can handle him being hot and cold with Lucrezia but not with Vanessa or Nico and I’m glad the latter gave him a needed dressing down in this one as well.

Of course, Vanessa ended up surviving the episode as DaVinci managed to get the cure at the last moment but it didn’t stop him falling victim to the ergot himself and having one hell of a gory hallucination with Riario, his dissected corpses and more stuff in relation to his mother and the Sons of Earth plot as well. However as interesting as the hallucination was, I don’t think it did too much to actually advance the overall plot in relation to the ongoing Book Of Leaves saga though.

Speaking of Riario though – who was that prisoner he was playing board games with and exchanging metaphors? A part of me thinks it’s Al-Rahim but that feels a little too obvious and it would seemingly contradicts the Turk’s motives but at the same time, it’s not entirely impossible that Rahim could simply enjoy playing the likes of DaVinci and Riario off each other and use them both to get the Book Of Leaves for himself. Perhaps I’m wrong though and it’s someone else but Rahim seems a distinct possibility though.

Keeping with Riario, his intrigue with DaVinci was nicely looked at in this episode. The prisoner was quick to tell him not to underestimate his enemy while Pope Sixtus IV encouraged Riario’s fixation on DaVinci as well. However aside from the hallucinatory stuff, we didn’t get any further interactions with the warring men in this episode. Hopefully the next episode delivers on that though.

Last but not least – Lucrezia and Clarice. There was an interaction that was the most satisfying of all to watch, especially with Clarice being able to cut her love rival down to size and remind her husband that he cannot escape his responsibilities for too long. Both women encouraged Lorenzo to search within his own home for the spy and it was Lucrezia who managed to make it look like his most trusted of advisors was the one who was ratting him out to the Vatican. It was a pretty masterstroke on Lucrezia’s part but inevitably one that will come back to haunt her I suspect.

Also in “The Prisoner”

Riario seemed oddly uncomfortable with handing over his slave, Zita to his uncle for the night. Signs that he might have a bit of a conscience?

DaVinci: “Please unhand me.”
Giuliano: “Or what? Are you threatening me with a spoon now?”

We got some tiny progress/hiccups on DaVinci’s manufacturing of more cannons for Lorenzo but aside from that, no other big interactions with them this week.

DaVinci (to a green bird): “Just go. This is your chance. The cage is open.”
Lucrezia: “Do you think your pursuit of knowledge makes you immune to your emotions?”

Clarice: “I understand your need for escape, Lorenzo. To feel apart from your responsibility. You can have that escape but you do have to come back. You must always come back.”

Lucrezia and Lorenzo were both shagging in a carriage and a stables this week. I’m beginning to think her buffoon of a husband is the only man she doesn’t seem to sleep with nowadays.

Riario: “The Lord wills that we embrace him.”
Pope Sixtus IV: “You tell me what the Lord wills?”
Riario: “Of course not, Father.”
Pope Sixtus IV: “Holy Father. Find a way in. Make this DaVinci ours if it amuses you.”

Clarice: “You are a distraction, that is your function. I will tolerate that but I will not tolerate you becoming a vulnerability. Wait five minutes before I leave.”
Lucrezia: “Clarice, I know you love him. How can you even stand to look at me?”
Clarice: “Because I know you’ll never be up on that wall.”

It seems that DaVinci has somewhat quickly deduced that there is another landmass that is neither Africa nor Europe. I guess he could discover America properly in this series if he’s ever going to get the Book Of Leaves.

Nico: “It’s all over now.”
DaVinci: “For me, I fear it’s just begun.”

The Prisoner: “As one game ends, another begins.”

Chronology: Not much time since the events of “The Serpent”.

Three episodes in and this show is still in the category of good but not amazing. “The Prisoner” like Lucrezia to an extent felt like a distraction. An amusing one but aside from a few tiny bits, there wasn’t much to the episode that progressed the main plots too much though and the lack of subtlety with the flying birds allusions was a bit jarring in parts too.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, April 29, 2013

Soap Discussion - April 2013

Coronation Street: An extremely solid month for the show. I never thought Karl and his worming back into Stella's good books would actually make for interesting TV but surprisingly enough it's managed to so far and that's good because Tommy and Gary's rivalry over Tina and Chesney/Katy/Ryan have been less interesting plotlines to watch as a result.

EastEnders: Does anyone care about Kirsty tricking Max into thinking she's with child? Yeah, didn't think so but on the plus side, at least Janine has return and the rivalry with her and Michael has been more engaging to watch. Also more engaging has been the fallout from Liam's gang activity, even if the actor playing Kane is still dire and Sharon and Jack predictably breaking up was surprisingly entertaining enough too. Bet he won't be happy when he finds out who she's living with now.

Emmerdale: And the award for most improve soap really should go to this one. Last year, most of the stories were enough to bore me rigid but here, things have genuinely gotten more interesting or entertaining such as Brenda's health deteriorating, the growing closeness with Moira and Cain, Debbie nearly getting trigger happy with Chastity and the whole fallout from Charity nearly catching Jai out over Archie's paternity and being blind sighted by Rishi's cover story.

Hollyoaks: So long Jacqui. Aside from John Paul, you were the best of the McQueen lot and I can't help feeling that your rushed exit and this show's insistence on Mercedes being kept means that we've been shortchanged. On the plus side, at least you've one dream even if you didn't get Tony in the end. As for the rest of the month, Will needs to die pretty swiftly instead of Texas, Robbie is annoying and Sinead is surprisingly tolerable, despite her penchant for getting into more lorry related accidents and Patrick truly is a nasty piece of work given his scenes with Anna. The less said about Clare's kidnapping schemes the better though.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x11: "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS"

Written by Stephen Thompson
Directed by Mat King

The Doctor: “Running away with a spaceman in a box. Anything could happen to you.”
Clara: “That’s what I’m counting on.”

Yes, anything could happen to you, Clara and this week you got the delight of being nearly killed inside the TARDIS and learning some more about your new friend, only for this episode to make the head banging decision to have you forget it all again as we got the unwelcomed reset conclusion for resolving the dangers of this week’s episode.

I know people hate this show’s all too recurring ‘love saves the day’ meme it tends to do but I found the fact that Doctor managed to reset everything with a big friendly button more annoying in this one. Mainly because some actual progress had been made with him and Clara and it felt like this episode undid that, even though it’s obvious that Clara will remember her confrontation with the Doctor in three weeks time.

Speaking of confrontations, it was about time and almost appropriate that in the midst of the TARDIS actually being in jeopardy of blowing up that the Doctor took the time to confront Clara on her past selves. The fact that Clara genuinely seemed to be clueless as to what he was talking about seemed to shock him but perhaps this scene alone will stop the more outlandish conspiracy theories from going on about who Clara really is.

The last few episodes have gone to town in telling us that she’s just a normal girl and this episode hammered home that point as well. We still don’t know how or why we’ve seen two other versions of Clara out there but whatever mistrust the Doctor has had for his companion seems to have resolved itself, which was definitely needed at this point.

As for Clara herself, being trapped inside the TARDIS and seperated from the Doctor for a solid portion of this episode meant that she got to learn more about him than she normally would’ve done. The fact that she’s learned his name and didn’t really react that badly towards it though does make me wonder what exactly is going to be gained when River learns it and mentions it in the finale as well.

Then again, I suppose the argument could be made that Clara not understanding the big deal about his name was the reason why she didn’t react to it until this episode again made sure that she forgot the Doctor’s name. Whatever the pay off for this plot is going to be, it better be worth it because already there are plenty of fans who are baying for Moffat’s blood for even suggesting the idea of revealing one of the show’s best left alone mysteries.

As for the main plot of the episode – the TARDIS. Well, this episode did make the mistake of having the machine nearly killing everyone on board and making things impossible for the Doctor, Clara and the Van Baalen brothers and while we didn’t get as big an exploration around the vessel as I had hoped, it certainly didn’t disappoint too much.

It was nice to see Clara having a look around the observatory and passing the swimming pool and the Doctor’s concern for both his machine and Clara whilst dealing with the scavenging Van Baalen brothers and the Time Monsters terrorising them in the episode was handled reasonably well.

Personally I thought the actual reveal of the Time Monsters being a future version of everyone on board was suitably creepy and as monsters, I think they were one of the best we’ve had in the second half of this series, though they did seem a little similar looking to the Pyrovilles from the fourth series as well.

As for the Van Baalens – they’re not the most interesting guests we’ve had but we’ve had worse ones. Tricky mainly stood out, due to his empathy for the TARDIS and the fact that his brothers tricked him into thinking he was an android while Gregor stood out for his general lack of decency, meaning that only Bram felt like the weak link of the bunch to be honest. Still though it was their own greed and stupidity that pretty much endangered themselves and the TARDIS crew, so I’m in no hurry to see them again.

Also in “Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS”

Jenna-Louise Coleman and former showrunner Russell T. Davies celebrated their birthdays on the day this episode aired.

Tricky (to the Doctor, re Clara): “If she’s still in there, she’s dead.”

What sort of idiots use power tools on a ship that’s still sparking with life as well? Oh of course – the Van Baalens.

Gregor (to Bram): “Don’t try and form sentences. Stick to what you do best.”

The Doctor (to the Van Baalens): “Don’t get into a spaceship with a madman. Didn’t anyone ever teach you that?”

The Doctor tricking the Van Baalens into helping him find Clara was a good stroke until the TARDIS actually did become a danger.

Clara (to the Doctor): “Good guys do not have zombie creatures. Rule one, basic storytelling.”

Clara: “What aren’t you telling me?”
The Doctor: “Trust me, some things you don’t want to know.”

Clara saw the liquid form of Gallifreya Encyclopaedia, a book called The History Of The Time War (where she learned the Doctor’s name) as well as the Doctor’s cot and the TARDIS model Amy made in the observatory.

Gregor: “I’m sorry you’re human, Tricky.”
The Doctor: “Cut the metal. Go!”

The Doctor: “I brought you here to keep you safe but it happened again. You died again.”
Clara: “What do you mean again?”

Voice cameos in this episode were the First, Third, Fourth and Ninth Doctors along with Susan, Ian, Jo, Martha and Amy from what I could make out. We also saw the Eye Of Harmony fully in this one, had another Time Crack, got the Cloister Bell again and even the Seventh Doctor’s brolly.

The Doctor (to Clara): “I look at you every single day and I don’t understand a thing about you. Why do I keep running into you?”

Clara: “You’ll still have secrets.”
The Doctor: “It’s better that way.”

Chronology: No specific chronology in this one. How long has Clara been travelling with the Doctor now?

“Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS” certainly had it’s moments and it’s definitely a marked improvement on Stephen Thompson’s previous contribution to the show but the frustrating ending does prohibit it from being the classic it truly could’ve been. It’s a great TARDIS centred story but we’ve had better ones I’m afraid. Still I do imagine this will be an episode that’ll improve on further viewings.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Dragon Is Not A Slave

Well, it's been rather interesting with the latest few shows I've been looking at, so here's a roundup of them ...

Arrow: There are only three episodes left for the first season finale and this latest one was a nice gem of an episode. It was nice to see former Angel actor J. August Richards playing someone with genuine menace and there was a nice exploration into Oliver and Tommy's deteriorating friendship as well as the whole saga with Laurel and more flashbacks to the Island, I can't wait to see where else the show will go in the last three episodes.

Defiance: It looks good, it's got an excellent cast, an interesting premise and is created by Rocknes S. O'Bannon but the first two episodes whilst establishing most of the general plots and main players didn't feel quite as adventurous as I was hoping. I am liking the show but I do hope that as the season progresses, it'll surprise me a bit more because so far it feels all too familiar.

Game Of Thrones: There are moments when this show floors me and the last five minutes of And Now His Watch Is Ended certainly did that when Daenerys took her Unsullied, Missandei, reclaimed her dragon and showed the slave masters of Astapor that you just don't mess with her. It's only been four episodes (though three for her) and so far Daenerys has been better served her than she was in the previous season. The rest of the plots however have equally been as interesting - Pod's legendary prowess, Jaime/Brienne's team up, Margaery's growing hold on Joffrey to Cersei's annoyance, Varys's various scenes with Tyrion and Olenna and Arya and the Hound meeting up amongst the chaos with Theon's psychological torment, Bran's warg dreams and the chaos with the Night's Watch as well. We;re not even halfway through this season and it's shaping up to being the show's best one yet.

Glee: After the horribly misconceived shooting episode, it's a relief that the last two episodes have been something of a marked improvement for the show. I like that the show has made Ryder's Catfish plot a little more interesting and delved more into his and Kitty's pasts and the whole night at the ballet subplot with Santana, Rachel and Kurt has been interesting enough to watch as well as the middle one of them getting her Funny Girl part. This season has been pretty patchy in places but these two episodes definitely felt more like a step in the right direction and the last two look suitably decent as well.

Once Upon A Time: An interesting episode where we briefly met Robin Hood, saw Hook bound and gagged in the back of a truck as part of a crazy scheme by Tamara and Owen (both of whom are shaping up as decent antagonists) and more importantly got some more Rumbelle flashbacks whilst dealing with the fact that our sweet Belle is more of a naughty girl now named Lacey, who somewhat appreciates Gold's darker side while Regina managed to suss out what Emma was hiding from her this time. I'm struggling to see how this show has devolved for some because while we've had stronger episodes this season, this was still another goodie and Lacey is a lot of fun to watch too.

The Vampire Diaries: You know what the best thing about the backdoor pilot for The Originals is? It's that it's now picked up for a bloody series and the possibility of a mostly Klaus free fifth season has now become a reality. Which is a good thing because I am genuinely fed up of the character and while Silas will undoubtedly dominate the fifth year, at least the show will have moved on from the originals and that can only be a good thing. As for the last two episodes - still enjoying Elena as an emotionless bitch, finding Bonnie's out of control powers interesting, getting bored with Stefan and Damon trying to get their precious snowflake back and Katherine's snarkiness combined with Caroline's common sense at times is a nice way of balancing things out. However I'm not really sure if I care at this point who gets the cure as long as someone does and soon already.

- It might be dividing viewers and reviewers but DaVinci's Demons has been renewed for a second season of 10 episodes from Starz.
- Expect a proposal in the fourth season finale of Glee, which will also be set around Regionals as well.
- MTV have picked up a Scream series but a writer has yet to be announced for it.
- ABC are doing their own version of The Saint starring Adam Rayner as Simon Templar and Eliza Dusku as Patricia Holm.
- Max Beesley has signed up for a recurring role in the third season of Suits.
- Devious Maids and Mistresses will premiere on new station TLC for UK digital viewers.
- There's rumblings about a plot concerning experimenting on vampires in True Blood's upcoming sixth season.
- Brad Paisley will be guest appearing on an upcoming episode of Nashville.
- Mike Kelley has left Revenge while the show's second season finale will kill off a main character.
- Comedy Central have cancelled Futurama.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Musketeers - First Cast Pictures

It won't be airing until next year but already at least two cast shots and a new press release has been released in relation to upcoming BBC1 drama, The Musketeers ...

Our Musketeers - Santiago Cabrera as Aramis, Tom Burke as Athos, Luke Pasqualino as D’Artagnan and Howard Charles as Porthos. Here they are a band of soldiers operating in 17th century Paris in the show created by Primeval's Adrian Hodge. As mentioned before other cast members include Hugo Speer, Peter Capaldi and Tamla Kari.

The BBC1 drama is a co-production with BBCAmerica and BBC Worldwide and will run for 10 hour long episodes to be aired in the next year. Filming for the show is still underway but as a first image, it certainly looks promising, doesn't it?

Press Release: http://www.spoilertv.com/2013/04/the-musketeers-season-1-press-release.html

The Musketeers will air in 2014 on BBC1.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dates - First Trailer

The nine part drama, Dates from Skins creator Bryan Elsley has finally released a trailer and I have to say that I'm actually rather impressed with the look of it. Not only does it seem to have a rather mature feel to it with some of the most talented actors on the block but it also seems that just like SkyLiving's recent Love Matters series and last year's BBC1 late night drama, True Love, there is at least one gay themed storyline.

The episode (which hasn't been specified to which one it is) sees former Merlin actress Katie McGrath playing a young woman named Kate who goes on a date with a character played by Fresh Meat's Gemma Chan and given the reaction it's generated on Tumblr so far, you can tell that this is going to be quite a discussion worthy episode when it does air.

Of course this won't be the only time we get to see the lovely actress over the summer as she'll also be appearing in the upcoming Dracula series airing on SkyLiving as well but right now, this is a good series to see her, if you missed her recent appearance in Labyrinth. And yes, there will be further blogs about this upcoming series.

Dates Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dDDAFLHuceg#!

Dates will air on Channel 4 in June.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First Look: Banshee

Okay, the first season of this show has already wrapped up for US viewers on Cinemax and a second one has been commissioned but SkyAlantic are finally airing Banshee, so here's a brief preview ...

Banshee (sadly not about a certain wailing figure) is a ten part series starring Outrageous Fortune's Antony Starr as Lucas Hood - a former jewel thief who's served 15 years in the slammer and upon his release is determined to get back both the woman he loved and his loot but instead along the way ends up assuming the identity of Sheriff in the small Pennsylvanian town of Banshee. The show spearheaded by Six Feet Under/True Blood maestro Alan Ball along with Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler has already turned into a massive hit for cable channel Cinemax and it looks set to do the same here.

Along with Starr, the show also features Ivana Milicevic (some might recognise her as Riley's wife from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as Lucas's former lover/partner in crime, Anastasia, who has now changed her name to Carrie and is married with children, much to her former lover's disappointment. Other characters thrown into the chaotic town of Banshee include retired former boxer/con/bar owner, Sugar Bates (Frank Faison), transvestite/computer hacker, Job (Hoon Lee), Mr Rabbit (Ben Cross), the Ukranian mobster in which Lucas stole from and is baying for his blood, crime boss/kingpin Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) as well as Dan Kendell (Daniel Ross Owens) as the rather idealistic mayor of the town and a whole plethora of other interesting characters.

Premise wise, it might not sound like the most innovative of shows or the type of one that you'd expect from Alan Ball of all people but the trailers that have been airing on SkyAtlantic definitely implies that it will fit their usually impressive lineup of US imports and pairing it with Game Of Thrones on a Monday night is a pretty smart move as well. I'll definitely be giving this show a go.

Season 1 Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vMPOqzYLwk

Banshee will air Mondays at 10.15pm on SkyAtlantic from April 29th.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Review of DaVinci's Demons 1x02: "The Serpent"

Written by David S. Goyer And Scott M. Gimple
Directed by David S. Goyer

DaVinci: “You’re offering me forbidden fruit now?”
Riario: “That’s what serpents do, isn’t it?”

Indeed, that’s again what serpents have a tendency of doing and this episode wasn’t particularly subtle in demonstrating that. Still, I’ll give Riario his due – he’s a flexible enough fella when he wants to get something.

With Lucrezia, I think it’s painfully obvious that he’s holding someone rather dear to her (that present from last week made it clear) in order to get her to spy on both DaVinci and Lorenzo and when he wasn’t putting the frighteners on her to continue her snooping and await further instructions, he had a grudging respect towards her abhorrence towards him. That was probably the most interesting thing about Riario’s interactions with Lucrezia in this episode alone.

Then there was dealing with Nico as well. He wanted to know what DaVinci’s interest in the Book Of Leaves and the Jew that was hanged amounted to and he wasted no time in using a bit of torture with the Widow’s Tear in order to get it. However he did make the gross miscalculation of Nico being savvy enough to use DaVinci’s exploding chest (instead of his exposed one, eh?) against him and his men, so you know points to Nico for thinking on his feet rather swiftly there.

Of course he did manage to succeed in actually making Lorenzo suitably uncomfortable by letting him know just how much he had over him and the extent of the Vatican’s influence as well (with his cousin being the new archbishop of Pisa) but aside from another interesting twist at the end, this was only a minor victory of sorts for Riario.

The best scenes of this episode undoubtedly were the two interactions between Riario and DaVinci, both of whom seemed to take an absolute delight in sizing each other up and proving that neither of them can be underestimated as well. Not only did I take my hat off to DaVinci for giving Riario a demonstration with his muskets but the latter’s little sleight of hand as well with the key that he was pursuing DaVinci for was a pretty satisfying twist, which sees both enemies rather evenly matched with each other.

In terms of the mystery plot though, this episode was nicely pushing things along. DaVinci used his powers of deduction (and actual communication skills with a blind beggar) to find the Jew’s map for the location of Book Of Leaves through a rather nifty use of Hebrew and concealed writing techniques and it seems that this storyline is nicely moving along. Of course, what DaVinci doesn’t seem to know is that Riario is playing the long game with him but he might wise up to that one fairly soon though.

As for the other plots of the week – Lucrezia has guilt issues. Within two episodes, we’ve seen that she has genuine enough feelings for both DaVinci and Lorenzo in spite of the fact that she’s effectively betraying them both but if forced to choose, it could be DaVinci himself who gets left out in the cold. Two episodes in and we haven’t seen too much (or any) progress in underlying DaVinci’s sexuality beyond his lust for Lucrezia, but hopefully that really will change in the next few episodes. I should point out though that I actually do like Lucrezia as a character. At least she’s getting more screen time than the surprisingly underused Clarice at this point.

As for the dynamic between DaVinci and Lorenzo, I have to admit I do love how the latter can tell when the former is manipulating him and how much leeway he allows DaVinci as well. Giuliano and the rest of the Medici lot are far less tolerant of DaVinci’s whims but Lorenzo obviously knew he was going to deliver on the muskets and was more than impressed with his demonstration of loyalty as well. It’s as rich a dynamic as the one between DaVinci and Riario at the moment.

Also in “The Serpent”

DaVinci really does have his own Scooby Gang with Nico, Zoroaster, Vanessa and Verrocchio, all of whom are willing to dig bodies, get tortured and indulge his whims. The fact that he clearly appreciates their support however makes the dynamic brilliant.

Nico (re grave): “What does it say?”
Zoroaster: “Funnily enough, taken.”

We met another Son of Earth member in this episode when DaVinci was talking to him on a boat.

DaVinci (re dead body): “One man’s death opens the doorway for another.”

DaVinci (re Lorenzo): “That bit of you, it’s not his alone.”
Lucrezia: “No, it’s not but it will always be his first.”

Did we just meet Lucrezia’s husband at the Feast Of Florence banquet? Lorenzo did talk about her being married when he noticed her family heirloom.

Riario: “DaVinci has the key. Why would he concern himself with a bookshop?”
Lucrezia: “I don’t know. Perhaps DaVinci is more clever than you but then that would be heresy, wouldn’t it?”

Zoroaster (re distracting the bookshop owner): “Why me?”
DaVinci: “Because you reek of dishonesty.”
Zoroaster: “As usual.”

Two episodes in and DaVinci’s father continues to be a bastard while reminding his son yet again that he’s an illegitimate child. Leonardo also mentioned being unable to draw his mother’s face to Verrocchio.

Verrocchio: “Are you sure you haven’t overreached?”
DaVinci: “Christ, Andrea, the whole point of progress is overreaching. Why doesn’t anybody understand that?”

Lorenzo: “So like Eden but of course, Eden has guests as do we. Of course our guest is somewhat more pleasant than the serpent. Please let us welcome Count Girolamo Riario, Emissary from Rome to our Eden, to our Florence. Dinner is served.”

The location for the Book Of Leaves – it was South America, wasn’t it? I did find myself rewinding that scene a few times.

DaVinci: “The truth is progress frightens you and your ilk.”
Riario: “Not at all. We embrace it.”

Chronology: A week since the events of “The Hanged Man”.

Criticisms aside on the obvious problems with this show, I do think there’s a lot of good here. “The Serpent” definitely added more nuances and layers to Riario as a character and while DaVinci still has that man about town vibe with him, I did find him a lot more likeable and engaging in this one. In fact while the writing’s not perfect, there isn’t an awful character on here, aside from some of the extras and DaVinci’s petty minded father.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, April 22, 2013

First Looks: Vicious & The Job Lot

Next Monday for those who won't be watching Game Of Thrones/lamenting the loss of Broadchurch, ITV are planning to treat you with at least two new sitcoms, both of which look pretty decent.

Vicious is a seven part series (formerly titled Vicious Old Queens) in which Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen play an older gay couple, Freddie and Stuart who have lived in the same flat in Covent Garden for the last 50 years. Amongst the cast are the couple's best friend Violet, played by Frances de la Tour and former Misfits actor, Iwan Rheon as their new upstairs neighbour, Ash. ITV clearly have confidence in this show because they've already commissioned a Christmas special for it and it's about time we had a show that properly focused on an older gay couple and with McKellen and Jacobi, I really hope this show is a roaring success for ITV. It certainly looks good from what I can see.

Elsewhere, the other sitcom airing next Monday is The Job Lot. A six part series, featuring Russell Tovey (Being Human), Sarah Hadland (Waterloo Road) and Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey), the show focuses on a group of people running a job centre in the West Midlands and well, trying to get their clients work I suppose. I have to admit, the trailer didn't exactly blow me away but it's got a decent cast and it could be a surprise hit. I'll let you be the judge but it is nice to see Tovey in another TV role again.

Vicious Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnM2O8kxPeQ
The Job Lot Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuAbYuqfT48

Vicious and The Job Lot will air at 9pm and 9.30pm on ITV from April 29th.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x10: "Hide"

Written by Neil Cross
Directed by Jamie Payne

Clara: “So I am a ghost. To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing.”
The Doctor: “No, no, you’re not that.”
Clara: “Then what are we? What can we possibly be?”
The Doctor: “You are the only mystery worth solving.”

I love a good old ghost story and I love one that managed to turn things on it’s head and be a tiny bit unexpected as well too, which is where this episode managed to succeed in spades. Caliburn House might be a haunted property but not quite in the way that our TARDIS and ghost busting duos were expecting though.

In terms of guest players, this episode had something of a small cast compared to last week’s more claustrophobic themed adventure but it made the whole thing delightfully more intimate and character driven and while a favoured trope of this show’s run got used yet again, it still managed to work reasonably good within the narrative itself.

I liked the combination of empathic psychic Emma Grayling, played by Call The Midwife’s Jessica Raine, although she’s soon to be Verity Lambert in An Adventure In Space And Time and former military man (amongst his other credits), Alec Palmer, also nicely played by Dougray Scott and their various interactions with the Doctor and Clara throughout this episode also worked a treat.

Now let’s talk about those interactions, shall we? I liked that we saw the Doctor coaxing Alec into opening up about his past without judging him and I also enjoyed their pointed discussions on the women in their lives as they both tried to figure out Emma and Clara without making it too obvious.

Then there was Emma and Clara themselves. Clara sussed out pretty quickly that Emma and Alec had a thing for each other and encouraged the former to go after the latter romantically while Emma warned Clara not to trust the Doctor. While I don’t entirely blame Emma for doing that, perhaps she could’ve said more to Clara about why the woman twice dead shouldn’t trust her new friend other than the cryptic “sliver of ice” bit.

More to the point though, I think this episode really should’ve had the Doctor and Clara confront each other as well on those little elephants in the room regarding their friendship. The Doctor is still wary of who Clara really is and seemed unsatisfied when Emma assured him that she was just human and Clara herself still hasn’t cottoned onto the fact that he has an ulterior motive for travelling with her.

Of course the best dynamic in this episode was the one between Clara and the TARDIS herself. If I were the TARDIS, I don’t think I’d be too thrilled with someone calling me a grumpy cow but at the same time, it did seem to be going out of it’s way to annoy Clara before eventually letting her in as part of saving the day.

But it does beg the question though – if Clara really is just an ordinary girl like Emma told the Doctor, then why doesn’t the TARDIS seem to like her? While I do believe Clara is actually human, not evil or related to any past characters or willing working for any past or current enemies of the Doctor, we’re still not really sure of what’s really going on with her. Judging however by the trailer of next week, perhaps some much needed answers on Clara’s mystery will come in our direction.

As for the ghost/Witch Of The Well aspect of the story, which I really like – there wasn’t one. Instead we got a future relative of Emma and Alec (did you not expect them to get together?) called Hila trapped in a pocket universe before being rescued by the Doctor and the monster of the week itself was not only a strange looking mash up of Lazarus, a Silent and a tree but also was in love with his playmate currently trapped at Caliburn House.

My only real complaint about this episode was that the ending where the Doctor reunited the loved up monsters felt a little too rushed and it’s one of a few episodes this series (the other ones being Amy and Rory’s last two episodes) that would’ve benefitted from being about five minutes longer or ten at a push.

Also in “Hide”

This is the first one word title we’ve since “Midnight” in Series 4. Have I mentioned that I love one word titles?

The Doctor: “Boo. Hello, I’m looking for a ghost.”
Alec: “And you are?”
Clara: “Ghostbusters.”

Alec mentioned that he was a member of the Baker Street Irregulars in this and that Caliburn House was over 500 years and that he owned it.

Emma (re Witch Of The Well): “She knows I’m here. I can feel her calling out to me.”
Clara: “What’s she saying?”
Emma: “Help me.”

Alec (to Emma, re the Doctor): “He’s a liar but you know that’s often the way that it is. When someone's seen a thing or two. Experience makes liars of us all. We lie about who we are and what we've done.”

Clara ranked whiskey the 11th most disgusting thing in the universe, the TARDIS used her image to communicate with her and her upcoming action figure is based on her look from this episode. She also made a chin reference too.

Clara: “There’s no need to actually hold my hand.”
The Doctor: “Clara?”
Clara: “Yeah?”
The Doctor: “I’m not holding your hand.”

Emma (to Clara, re the Doctor): “Don’t trust him. There’s a sliver of ice in his heart.”

Clara freaked out when the Doctor was showing her the specific spots of Caliburn House throughout history and his words didn’t seem to reassure her in the same way they’ve done with other companions.

Emma: “What did you see?”
Clara: “That everything ends.”
Emma: “No, not everything, not love, not always.”

Emma: “Tell me what I’m thinking.”
Alec: “I can’t. I don’t have your gift.”
Emma: “You don’t need it. Just look at me and tell me.”

Getting into the pocket universe, the Doctor relied on a blue crystal from Metebelis 3 (have fun pronouncing it), a subset of the Eye Of Harmony and a lot of wires and we got the Cloister bell as well.

The Doctor (to the Crooked Man): “I am the Doctor and I am afraid.”

The Doctor (to Clara): “This isn’t a ghost story, it’s a love story.”

Chronology: November 25th, 1974, 11.04pm. Quite specific this was on the exact time, eh?

Aside from the abrupt ending, it’s nice to see that “Hide” has managed to redeem Neil Cross with certain viewers (though the reaction to his previous episode was ridiculously OTT) as it’s a deservedly a nice and spooky enough story with some solid character beats and great twists.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Glee Renewed For Seasons 5 & 6

Well, it's true. It seems that while this show might not be the powerhouse it once was, FOX have still announced that Glee will be returning for both a fifth and a sixth season yesterday.

I think like most people, a fifth season of the show was completely expected but a sixth one on top of it seemed to come out of nowhere. Can the show really justify running for a sixth season, especially if by the end of it's fifth run, virtually all of the newbies will have graduated? To me, it seems more like the show is probably drawing to it's natural conclusion and it will be interesting to see if these two seasons can retain the bigger original cast members as well, though it's likely they may become recurring guest stars and there are rumours that Ryan Murphy might not have as much input next season due to the amount of projects he's taking on - American Horror Story: Coven for FX, The New Normal for NBC and both The Normal Heart and Open for HBO.

As for The Glee Project, that show's future seems to be in murkier territory. An announcement for a third season has yet to be made. Personally, I was able to watch bits of the first season but decided not to bother with the second season. I don'imt think this particular show really does need or justify renewal but that's my own personal opinion on the matter.

Press Release: http://www.digitalspy.ie/ustv/s57/glee/news/a474771/glee-renewed-for-seasons-five-and-six-by-fox.html

Glee continues to air Sundays at 8pm on Sky1 for UK viewers and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX for US viewers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Merlin - Season 5 Review

UK Airdate: October 6th – December 24th 2012

The battle is finally done but who actually won in the end and more to the point, was it even worth it?

The Golden Age: I think in retrospect when I look back at this particular series of Merlin, it’s perhaps not that much of a shock to the system that it would end after five series. I know that Smallville (in which this show was deeply influenced by) managed to last twice as long but as enjoyable as this show was on a Saturday night, I’m not sure if another series when the golden age of magic wasn’t delivered upon would’ve been acceptable to most viewers.

And this is where my biggest issue with the final series of the show lies in – the golden age. Or more importantly, the utter lack of it. Surely for a final year, it would’ve been nice to have seen a Camelot where magic wasn’t outlawed and fanatics like Morgana and her followers would have to have found another excuse for their actions but sadly this wasn’t to be and I think that’s a greatly missed opportunity for the show and the audience themselves.

The biggest missed opportunity however was the poor decision on behalf of the show’s writers to have waited until the last episode for Arthur to finally have learned that Merlin was magically inclined. Yes, the acceptance bit was rather touching as was the Viking style funeral Arthur was ultimately given but at the same time, had the show revealed Merlin’s secret at the start of this final series and we had seen a genuine evolution in Merlin and Arthur’s friendship, I ultimately think the show would’ve benefitted from it.

Instead we get a fair few almost moments (such as the unwelcomed return of Uther in spirit form, clearly proving that the dead really don’t learn much in the great beyond) and the usual blokey banter between both Merlin and Arthur, which was amusing back in the first two series but has grated slightly in the last couple of series we’ve had.

The other missed opportunities in this series as well were both Arthur and Guinevere’s marriage and the Knights themselves to a certain extent. The marriage between our King and Queen is surprisingly explored very little, except during the ‘Hollow Queen’ arc and only then towards the end and the Knights themselves are either for pure totty factor or to make up the body count during the second half of the series.

I know this review is sounding horribly negative, which is strange because there’s actually a lot about Series 5 I did enjoy and I am going to focus on that as well. Morgana’s manipulation of Gwen was probably the most effective thing she’s done during her time of villainy and the fact that she managed to be responsible for bumping off two characters as well made it a little easier to take her seriously as a threat for a while. Even more interestingly was her own demise and her complicated/maternal of sorts relationship with a fully grown Mordred.

I have to say that Alexander Vlahos is an absolute revelation as Mordred. I had some reservations about the character being made older than the last time we had seen him but Mordred is without a doubt the best thing about the last series. He’s a genuine fly in the ointment to Merlin without meaning and his actual conflict when he did turn to the dark side was the very thing the show should’ve done better with Morgana. In fact out of all the people we lost during this series, I actually found myself missing him the most out of everyone and he was certainly better utilised throughout the series than the Knights, Guinevere or Gaius, the latter really being underutilised in the last series.

It’s been an interesting five years for the show, both in terms of the up and down quality, the always likeable cast and the fact that it’s cancellation stemmed more from it’s cast wanting to move on rather a rating slide. In fact, this show’s increase in the ratings for it’s last season has been a delight to watch and while the upcoming Atlantis will ensure that Saturday night fantasy drama won’t be dying anytime soon. I think we should all give this show a round of applause, especially for the audacity of the final scene if nothing else. The timing for the show to end was right but that doesn’t mean that it’s not saddening to see it gone though.

DVD Extras: A really good selection of commentary for most of the episodes but the one I think most people will be interested in is the one for the final episode with Katie McGrath and Julian Murphy. On top of that, there’s the usual array of storyboards, outtakes, deleted scenes, a Super Fans Video and a Making Of Merlin documentary.

Episode Ratings

5x01: Arthur’s Bane Part 1 = 7/10, 5x02: Arthur’s Bane Part 2 = 7/10,
5x03: The Death Song Of Uther Pendragon = 8/10, 5x04: Another’s Sorrow = 7/10,
5x05: The Disir = 9/10, 5x06: The Dark Tower = 9/10,
5x07: A Lesson In Vengeance = 8/10, 5x08: The Hollow Queen = 7/10,
5x09: With All My Heart = 9/10, 5x10: The Kindness Of Strangers = 7/10,
5x11: The Drawing Of The Dark = 7/10, 5x12: The Diamond In The Day Part 1 = 8/10,
5x13: The Diamond In The Day Part 2 = 9/10

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Heroes To Be Revived By MSN?

Well, hasn't 2013 been an interesting year for genre TV so far? With some shows heading towards their 50th, others ending with finales that are guaranteed to keep discussion boards busy for some times, others that continue to grow in their mainstream appeal and some that even generate a Kickstarter campaign in order to get financing for a movie, Heroes might be doing one slightly better (or worse, depending on your stance) - it could be coming back as a series yet again.

It's been three years since NBC pulled the plug on the show and it's been revealed that MSN could bring back the series as part of their initiative of original programming in conjunction with X-Box entertainment studio. Of course if this does come to pass, don't expect the original cast to be reprising their roles anytime soon. Rumours are it will be an entirely new cast instead, though some old regulars could make brief appearances.

I have to admit, I'm a little divided on this to be honest. Heroes was one of those shows that started off brilliantly before going downhill and I'm not sure if it justifies being revived either. Besides, four seasons was enough for the show and perhaps MSN could try some original programming to launch themselves but maybe this could be a good thing as well if handled well. What does everyone else think?

More News: http://www.digitalspy.ie/ustv/s1/heroes/news/a474043/heroes-to-be-revived-by-msn-xbox.html

Heroes - Seasons 1-4 are available on DVD.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Review of DaVinci's Demons 1x01: "The Hanged Man"

Written And Directed by David S. Goyer

DaVinci’s Father: “Why do you have to make this so difficult?”
DaVinci: “Because it’s my nature. I see things the way they are and not as they might be.”

For a show that had yet made it to air, it’s amazing how quickly viewers were divided by the portrayal of the most infamous of artists and inventors but having watched the opening episode with an open mind, I can say, quite honestly that parts of the criticisms a bit justified, but only partially.

If we focus on the depiction of DaVinci’s sexuality first, let’s remember here that there are eight episodes to go in this first season and both Tom Riley playing the man himself and David S. Goyer have promised that we will get a full exploration into Leonardo’s sexuality that goes beyond the artist’s appreciation for the female form. This episode made a slight attempt of fulfilling that promise but at the same time, let’s hope for more than Leo turning down male hustlers, eh? Or scenes that involve the likes of the Duke Of Milan and Pope Sixtus IV with their lovers too, especially considering how neither ended particularly well.

The women that seemed to pique the artist’s attention in this episode were both Vanessa, a model that Leonardo drew inspiration from (when he wasn’t conducting flying experiments and thinking of a military role in Medici’s court) and in some ways, while she was the less focused, Vanessa was slightly more interesting, considering that she stirred a memory of the man’s mother that will obviously play a bigger role in later episodes.

Then there was Lorenzo Medici’s mistress, Lucrezia Donati, played nicely by Laura Haddock who DaVinci both seduced into getting an audience with Lorenzo and actually seduced when she was pretending to be a whore towards the end of the episode. DaVinci may boast of having a way of reading people but clearly he wasn’t paying enough attention to Lucrezia.

She point blank told him that she was capable of manipulation and low and behold, the end of this episode wasted no time in revealing that she was Riario’s spy within the Medici court as she warned both her employer and his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV that DaVinci was a potential threat to their overall plans in relation to the Secret Archive and the Book of Leaves.

I have to admit, it’s the Book of Leaves and fate plots in relation to the Vatican, the Sons of Mithras and DaVinci’s destiny as a whole that seemed to be the bigger pitch for this series. While it might feel a little odd to make DaVinci into some kind of a superhero for this show to work, it actually felt a lot less jarring than I thought it would be.

The episode won’t win points for subtlety in hammering home the fact that Leonardo has a destiny that in years to come could be altered by the Vatican (who seem hell bent on suppressing certain knowledge/advancements in society) and the connection of sorts to his mother seemed a little contrived to this plot, I will embrace it with an open mind at the very least.

Throughout the hour when Leonardo wasn’t being filled in about his destiny and bedding Lucrezia, the episode did manage to tap into some other deep seated issues. His dependency on opium in order to dull his mind was nicely handled as was his impressive blagging skills when he actually managed to become a military strategist for Lorenzo Medici along with organising a mechanical bird for flight at the carnival that marked the end of Lent. All of these whilst at the same being reminded by other that his arrogance could be his undoing as well.

DaVinci’s arrogance definitely cost him when he was being tortured by his own father for saving the mysterious Al-Rahim/the Turk but nevertheless it never stopped DaVinci from feeling justified in his superiority towards the majority of the characters he encountered throughout this episode alone.

Also in “The Hanged Man”

The title came from an encountered with an actual hanged man that DaVinci found in a cave when he was a boy (as well as in one of Zoroaster's Tarot cards) and we saw a falcon that came near him when he was six months old.

Duke Of Milan: “What day is it today?”
Chico: “Palm Sunday.”
Duke Of Milan: “Balls.”

Yes, we did see some of those in this episode with Hugh Bonneville playing the ill fated Duke Of Milan, who was promptly killed at the behest of the Vatican in the first five minutes of this episode.

Vanessa (to DaVinci): “All men are searching for their mothers. That’s what guides you between our thighs.”

DaVinci (to Nico): “Florence only demands one thing of it’s people. To be truly awake.”

DaVinci’s friends Nico and the seemingly bisexual Zoroaster were good fun in a lot of this episode. I do hope they become bigger to the plot as the show goes on. We also briefly saw Lorenzo’s wife, Clarice Orsini in this one too.

DaVinci (to Verrocchio): “I think too much. I need to dull my thoughts, otherwise I will be eviscerated.”

Zoroaster (re the Turk): “No, no, this isn’t your fight, Leo.”
DaVinci: “When’s that ever stopped me?”

Zoroaster seems to be providing DaVinci with bodies for his experiments. The Jew that was hanged in this one was a body DaVinci later requested for Zoroaster to collect for him. Leo also mentioned his vegetarianism and being ambidextrous.

Al-Rahim: “Centuries from now, your own history will be suppressed.”
DaVinci: “How could you possibly know that?”

Al-Rahim: “Fate has chosen you, Leonardo.”
DaVinci: “I don’t believe in fate.”
Al-Rahim: “Then believe in yourself.”

I loved the scene at the marketplace where DaVinci was drawing the birds as they flew and the title sequence for the series is actually quite nice and fitting for the show.

Lucrezia (to DaVinci): “Remember, you’re not the only one capable of manipulation.”

Chronology: April 1477, Florence for this episode, around the time DaVinci was 25.

For an opening episode, “The Hanged Man” was solid but not spectacular. Tom Riley is taking on quite the role here and his man about town depiction of DaVinci is an interesting way of interpreting the character (as well as the costume being modern and period looking) but it’s also a depiction that might not please other viewers either. In short, if you’re looking for total historical accuracy, it’s probably wise to look elsewhere but for historical fantasy, fun and intrigue, then this show certainly has potential.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x09: "Cold War"

Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon

The Doctor: “Grand Marshall, it doesn’t have to be this way. Listen to me ...”
Skaldak: “My distress call has not been answered. It will never be answered. My people are dead. They are dust. There is nothing left for me except my revenge.”

It’s only been thirty nine years since the last time we met the Ice Warriors onscreen and with Daleks, Cybermen, the Great Intelligence and even a Zygon making a return in November, it certainly makes a lot of sense to bringing back a certain Martian race and give them a 21st century makeover and needlessly to say, this new look is a bloody success.

Mainly because unlike other redesigns over the years, the look for the Ice Warrior hasn’t been drastically altered, except for hands instead of pincers and to writer Mark Gatiss’s credit, Skaldak came across as a rather consistently written member of his own race, even if this episode itself is a virtual remake of a popular Ninth Doctor adventure. I’ll let you guess as to which one I’m referring to, shall I?

The Doctor and Clara just winding up on a Russian submarine deep undersea certainly played on Gatiss’s love for a popular base under siege plot and with a motley crew of mostly cute cannon fodder sailors and an Ice Warrior who happened to be thawed out pretty early on by one of the dumb but cute sailors, it’s not too much of a surprise that things went pear shaped pretty fast in this one.

Skaldak was certainly a compelling antagonist throughout this episode, first attacked by the sailors and then picking them off as he learned more about the Cold War and the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, which for some reason managed to appeal to his war like mentality quite a bit.

It took some doing for both the Doctor and Clara to actually stop Skaldak from actually causing some irreparable damage to a sensitive point in time and while the resolution felt a bit familiar, it definitely was a good way of solving the problem. I liked that Skaldak had enough compassion to spare the submarine crew, even if he had murdered half of them during the episode and hopefully, it won’t be too long until we see another Ice Warrior again. The return here was certainly superbly handled.

Like with a certain Ninth Doctor story, we saw a multi faceted side to Skaldak throughout the forty minute episode. Sure, he was murderous and tactical, war wise but at the same time, he also had a certain sense of honour, was able to challenge the Doctor intellectually, showed grief for losing his own daughter and even managed to spare Grisenko when Clara begged him too. As much as I’d like to see the Ice Warriors again, I also think I would like to see this specific Ice Warrior as well. As a guest character, Skaldak certainly deserves to go down as one of the best from this particular series.

Of course Skaldak wasn’t the only highlight of the episode. The other joyful guest character happened to be music loving Professor Grisenko, wonderfully played by David Warner. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that he’s been one of my favourite human guest we’ve had since perhaps Rita from “The God Complex” or Brian Williams and Kate Stewart. Grisenko was an utter joy to watch, especially with his concern for Clara’s well being and open mindedness about the Doctor potentially kissing him. The Doctor’s reaction during that little moment was pretty amusing to watch as well.

As for the rest of the guests – they’re pretty good but not as interesting. Liam Cunningham does a decent job as stoic Captain Zhukov but he’s rather upstaged compared to Grisenko and Skaldak while Tobias Menzies war mongering, Lieutenant Stephashin is mostly annoying and ultimately cannon fodder as well during Skaldak’s attack on the submarine.

As for the Doctor and Clara, it’s an interesting episode for them with the former having to trust the latter a little more than he’s done and the latter herself getting more used to the fact that travelling with the Time Lord can be dangerous work. The episode however is somewhat light on shedding any further insight into Clara’s ongoing back story, though she did seem a little reluctant to open up when Grisenko was trying to calm her down. I wonder what that was about.

Also in “Cold War”

The 11th Doctor has previously encountered the Ice Warriors along with Amy and Rory in the book, The Silent Stars Go By.

Grisenko: “Have I interrupted something?”
Zhukov: “We were about to blow up the world, professor.”
Grisenko: “Again?”

The Doctor was meant to be taking Clara to Las Vegas in this episode while the HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System) sent the TARDIS to the South Pole by the episode’s conclusion.

The Doctor (to Clara): “It’s the 80’s, everything’s bigger.”

Zhukov (re Skaldak): “So what do we do now?”
The Doctor: “Lock. Him. Up.”

While the submarine did look too big to be claustrophobic at times, the sight of Skaldak out of his armour bumping off people certainly made up for it.

Clara (to the Doctor/Zhukov, re Skaldak): “Well, there really is only one choice, is there? I don’t smell of anything, to my knowledge.”

The Doctor: “Let me help you.”
Skaldak: “I require no help. There will be no help.”

Is it me or was this episode very male oriented – the Doctor, Grisenko, Zhukov, Stephashin, Piotr, Onegin, Belevich and even Skaldak? Clara literally was the only woman on board.

Stephashin: “What do you want with me?”
Skaldak: “Much.”

The Doctor: “Professor, I could kiss you.”
Grisenko: “If you insist.”
The Doctor: “Later.”

Standout music: Thanks to Grisenko and Clara, that would be Ultravox’s “Vienna” and Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like The Wolf”, the latter I’m assuming is not a connection to a certain Rose Tyler.

Skaldak: “You threaten me, Doctor?”
The Doctor: “No, no, not you. All of us. I will blow this sub up before you can even reach that button, Grand Marshall.”

Clara: “Saved the world then?”
The Doctor: “Yeah!”
Clara: “That’s what we do.”

Chronology: August 1983, North Pole for this episode. Skaldak was also dormant for 5000 years too.

While the influences of this episode are many and can be seen a mile off, Mark Gatiss does deserve kudos for making “Cold War” into such a gripping episode and quite possibly his best contribution since “The Unquiet Dead”. Overall, a sssuperb episode.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Arrow: Okay, this show has definitely gotten better as it's progressed and the last few episodes have been rather stunning. The development of Roy as a soon to be regular has been nice, even if he did seem to get caught in the crossfire with The Saviour a little too quickly but I think it's been the turn with Tommy and Malcolm's growing influence on him that's been truly gripping and the more Oliver related flashbacks we get are also a welcome for me too.

Game Of Thrones: While Mad Men seems unable to attract viewers for SkyAtlantic, the third season of HBO's ratings juggernaut certainly seems to have no problem with getting them in spades. The first two episodes of Season 3 have been confident and pretty focused with some standout characters in the form of Margaery Tyrell and her grandmother, Olenna, a woman who certainly doesn't mince her words along with fellow seer Jojen Reed and wildling king Mance Rayder, all of whom are injecting some brilliant moments in the storylines concerning King's Landing, Jon Snow and Bran while Daenerys's plotline in Astapor is something of a tiny improvement from her antics in Quarth. An excellent start to what promises to be one hell of a defining season for the show.

Glee: I admire this show's attempts to do a hot button topic episode but I would've admired Shooting Star a lot more if some backstory and solid build up and motivation had been placed within preceding episodes. Becky's sudden antics with a gun, scaring the kids into mad paranoia and ultimately having Sue fired when she covered up for her was some of the worst examples of sloppy writing we've seen from the show. It's no wonder this episode got a bit of pasting from fans and critics alike. The idea itself was a good one to explore but the lack of thought put behind it ultimately became it's undoing and that's in spite of the fact that from an acting perspective, all of the cast truly delivered. Next time it would be nice if the show writers just thought things through before doing an episode like this.

Once Upon A Time: With the final four episodes due to air soon and a spin-off in the works, the last episode that aired was something of a mixed bag. August has been savagely underused this season and I really didn't like that he was given a reset of sorts but at the same time, Tamara will hopefully be a much more looming threat for the Storybrooke residents in a way that both Cora and Hook haven't been. I'm definitely interested in seeing what's going on with her and if the show manages to give her a backstory that has minimal involvement (or none at all) from either Regina or Gold, then I'll be even more pleased. Overall, an uneven episode but hopefully the next four more than make up for it.

The Vampire Diaries: Another show with an imminent spin-off in the works, there's a part of me that is really looking forward to a mostly Klaus free fifth season if The Originals gets picked up. While he's been slightly less annoying than usual (not by a great margin), I still don't really like the idea of Caroline actually helping him out, even though at least we're getting some progress on the Silas front and seeing an emotionless Elena is a lot fun that her usual moping. At the same time, it's often hard to seperate the new guilt free Elena from Katherine. I also enjoyed the New York episode we had with Damon and Elena as well but I'm still kind of annoyed that we lost Jeremy and that yet again, Tyler has been driven out of town by Klaus too.

- In news that won't shock anyone, it seems that the CW have pulled the plug on Cult.
- Alfre Woodard has joined the cast of the second season of BBCAmerica drama, Copper.
- The Vampire Diaries have cast their Silas and he will be played by Scott Parks.
- Patricia Arquette will be playing a tough as nails speakeasy owner in the fourth season of Boardwalk Empire.
- Both Game Of Thrones and Being Human US have been renewed for fourth seasons by HBO and SyFy respectively.
- Ryan Murphy's adult sex drama, Open has been picked up by HBO.
- Mark Hamill will be appearing in the two part season finale of Criminal Minds.
-  The second season of The Newsroom will premiere on July 14th on HBO.
- Richard E. Grant will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Girls.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Review of Being Human's: "Our Three Heroes Enjoy Being Human" (Warning: Major Spoiler)

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Philip John

Tom: "So now what do we do?"
Hal: "Save the world - you know, the usual."

Take it as canon or dismiss it as a nightmare alternative but either way, this little two and a half minute scene can provide an answer for whatever side of the spectrum you happen to be on in relation to The Last Broadcast. Did our gang really achieve the impossible and become human? Erm, apparently not.

The set up here was pretty simple with Hal being the one to deduce rather quickly that Hatch was stringing them along and that them getting what they wanted was simply too good to be true. Unfortunately for Alex and Tom, it wasn't just Hal being a moody cynic but instead him being bang on and pretty soon, the gang's lovely time in a restaurant seemed disrupted when everyone turned on them.

As a scene, it's a pretty brief little thing, almost incidental but it does seem to confirm that our gang are seemingly locked in an endless battle of wills with Hatch, which might be realistic but also feels rather nihilistic as well to be honest.

- Alex's dad and brothers seemingly believed that she was suffering memory loss and she definitely appreciated Hal being more openly flirtatious with her.
- Tom told the gang about Allison's 'nuddy' realisation that she was no longer a werewolf.
- Hal's card trick was a great way for getting both Tom and Alex to realise that he was telling the truth about Hatch duping them. However, why is Hal dressing like Rook in Hatch's world?
- Hal's final line reminded me of Angel's in Not Fade Away. I can't be the only one who thought of that, right?

A good little scene, but definitely on the bleak end of the scale, though I guess it is rather realistic as well for gang not to have beaten Hatch. It still doesn't take away the joy of the actual final episode though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, April 11, 2013

First Look: Defiance

It's been a while for Farscape creator Rocknes s. O Brannon and while he's had moderate hits like V and sadly a recent flop with Cult, it seems that his latest creation, Defiance, along with Kevin Muprhy and Michael Taylor has the potential to be a massive hit.

Defiance is a 13 part series set in the year 2046 where Earth has been taken over by aliens and there's now a co-existence between humanity and the extraterrestrial with the action taking place within a town called Defiance. There's also a computer game version as well from MMO that is actually linked to the show but according to producers, not in a way that will deter casual viewers of the series. Still, it's an extra way of enhancing the viewing experience of the series though.

In terms of the cast, former Ugly Betty guest star Grant Bowler is the leading man, playing the role of former Marine and current lawkeeper Joshua Nolan, who has an adopted alien daughter, Irisa Nyira, (Stephanie Leonidas) an Irathient warrior (a feral marauding race) who acts as the deputy for Nolan's lawkeeper. It seems that Nolan's character will be one who'll have conflict with the alien inhabitants of his town.

Speaking of aliens, the two who are definitely worth watching out for in this show are power couple Datak Tarr and Stahma Tarr, played by Tony Curran (24) and Jaime Murray (Hustle) respectively. They're from the Castithan race, who are similar to albinism with the former being a co-founder of the town Defiance and the latter being a very strong political player as the series progresses.

Also in the cast includes former Dexter regular, Julie Benz, playing the role of town Mayor Amanda Rosewater while former The L Word actress, Mia Kirshner is playing Amanda's sister, Kenya, a woman who has been described as a self assured proprietress of a Need/Want bar/brothel/gambling hall while Lost's Fionnula Flanagan will also be appearing in the series as a character named Nicolette Riordan, the former Mayor of Defiance and a mentor to Amanda.

Last but not least another cast member revealed has been Graham Greene as Rafe McCawley along with Nicole Munoz as Christie McCawley, Justin Rain as Quentin McCawley and Dewshane Williams as Tommy Lasalle. With a mixture in different species of aliens, political intrigue, elements of a space western and a post-apocalyptic feel to it, the signs for Defiance are actually looking pretty good. SyFy themselves clearly have confidence in it as talks of a second season have been looming around for a while and even UK viewers will only have to wait a day before seeing the series.

Season 1 Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3XKZU459DI

Defiance Game Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoWSSoIpXOk&list=UUKy1dAqELo0zrOtPkf0eTMw&index

Defiance - Season 1 airs Mondays 9pm on SyFy US from April 15th and Tuesdays at 9pm on SyFy UK from April 16th.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

First Look: DaVinci's Demons

I should've done this one ages ago but with US and UK transmission pretty imminent, here's a look at the upcoming Starz/FOX UK drama, DaVinci's Demons.

A promo picture for the eight part series shows that it's created by David S. Goyer, the co-writer of The Dark Knight trilogy, who is also giving a very modern twist on Leonardo DaVinci with Tom Riley taking on the role as the famous artist and inventor. He certainly seems to be an interesting choice for the role and if the trailers are anything to go by, there's a certain man about town vibe with this version of DaVinci.

While it seems that DaVinci may be ruffling a few feathers during the first season of the show, he at least has one ally in Gregg Chillin's Zoroaster as the two of them seem to be fleeing from a latest scrape. One of many I assume we'll end up seeing in this show. There's also been rumours of some LGBT content in this series, though I'm not sure with whom we'll see it from though.

Of course, DaVinci himself will be getting much attention from the ladies. One of them including Laura Haddock's Lucrezia Donati, the mistress of Lorenzo Medici (played by Elliot Cowen). Haddock has admitted in a recent interview with SFX magazine that we will be something of a dark side to this particular character during the series.

The other woman in DaVinci's life will be Clarice Orsini, the actual wife of Medici, played by everyone's favourite whiphand herself, Lara Pulver. The Sherlock and True Blood actress has had her character Clarice described as seductive and political minded, which definitely won't be a stretch for Pulver, will it?

Meanwhile Blake Ritson will be playing the role of Count Girolamo Riario, an antagonist for DaVinci as well as an overall threat to the Medici family as well. Other characters that will feature in this eight part series include Pope Sixtus VI (James Faulkner), Al-Rahim (Alexander Siddig), Niccolo Machiavelli (Eros Vlahos) and Giuilano Medici (Tom Bateman) to name a few. Also given that this is airing on Starz, don't be too shocked to see the sex, violence and some creative licencing with the historical content but overall, this does look like a stunning series in the making.

Season 1 Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfe20_G_wdk
Tom Riley Interview: http://www.afterelton.com/2013/04/interview-tom-riley-gay-sexuality-davincis-demons-starz

DaVinci's Demons will air Fridays at 10pm on Starz and FOX from April 12th and 19th.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x08: "The Rings Of Akhaten"

Written by Neil Cross
Directed by Farren Blackburn

The Doctor (to the parasite): “Okay then, that’s what I’ll do. I will tell you a story.”

Much of Steven Moffat’s era has had the recurring motif of memory embedded into it so much that an episode where you have a creature that can be almost quelled with the memories and losses of a Time Lord was one that you could be forgiven for thinking the show had already done one but nope, not until now and what an episode.

It’s been a while since an episode has generated this much of divide within the cyber sphere, which to me, is a tad mystifying considering that this isn’t the sort of episode that you imagine that would create that sort of a divide. Aside from filling in some more gaps into Clara’s growing back-story and rehashing plots from adventures like “The End Of The World” and even “42”, this didn’t feel too big an episode to generate the reaction that it’s managed to do online.

Clara’s first trip to an alien world had to be exciting and something that would provide a cultural shock for the woman twice dead and Akhaten as a whole managed to be pretty successful in that regard. After all, it was a world littered with different varieties of aliens, customs that would make no sense to any human and the near death of a child in lieu of an unsatisfied deity as well. In fact, all of those things are enough to really rank this episode as one of the best from the show’s history but realistically, it’s more of a good episode than a spectacular one though.

Clara pretty much managed to pass every companion test by being handy in a crisis. While this show has and overreliance on having children to tug at the heartstrings and sometimes put the companion in a guardian type of role, considering Clara’s profession and her general compassionate, it really did work wonders here when it came to her looking after Merry Gejelh, aka the Queen Of Years.

Merry’s story managed to be both simple and sympathetic enough with her locked into a destiny of singing to a glassed monster in order to appease Grandfather’s angry side, so when she inevitably failed, it was a good way of revealing that not everything was entirely straightforward with the whole belief system in their first place. Namely, being that the mummy in question was the alarm and the god in question was little more than a parasite, playing on people’s fears and paranoia in order to be appeased.

This is one of those episodes that in a positive light are going to at least be remembered for the stirring speech that the Doctor delivered to the parasitic gas giant in relation to the losses that he’s suffered over the years. It’s without a doubt one of Matt Smith’s best performances on the show and it’s ably backed up when Clara managed to deliver a speech that managed to reduce the gas creature into nothingness and ultimately save the day.

While these cheesy types of solutions have been done to death on this show many times over, I still think that it was an effective tool in this episode. A lot of what we saw in this episode was Clara dealing with her first space adventure and also remembering her past. I liked that the leaf’s significance managed to be poignant in a believable way and it was certainly a moving speech from Clara too when she talked about her mother as well too.

Speaking of which, I liked the flashbacks we got to Clara in this episode and I liked that they were part of the Doctor’s determination to actually find out who she is and I think the way both Ellie and Dave Oswald were handled worked far better than with any of Amy’s relatives during the fifth series.

The other thing I extremely liked was Clara confronting the Doctor on who she reminded him of. While a part of me would’ve liked him to have been a bit more forthcoming to Clara about meeting her other selves, at least he seemed a bit more honest here than he was with Amy for a good portion of Series 5 and Clara not willing to be a substitute for another is also a wise move too. However, the only real bug bear of the episode was not having Clara officially join up. It’s time for that little part of their merry dance to be sorted out now, show.

Also in “The Rings Of Akhaten”

The leaf blinded Dave Oswald and Ellie Ravenwood saved him from being hit by a car. Ellie however was less successful from preventing a younger Clara from hitting the Doctor in the face with a football though.

The Doctor: “That’s not dangerous, is it?”
Ellie: “What's not?”
The Doctor: “Embarrassed.”

Clara got lost in Blackpool when she was six – a nod to Jenna-Louise Coleman’s home town and Ellie died on March 5th 2005, around the same time another Doctor met Rose Tyler.

The Doctor: “Where do you wanna go? Hey, what do you wanna see?”
Clara: “I don’t know.”

The Doctor (re Akhaten): “You know, I forget how much I like it here. We should come here more often.”
Clara: “You’ve been here before?”

Loved the mention of Susan in this episode as well as the references to the Time War and other moments from the Doctor’s history. The aliens as well were brilliant – Dor’een, Terraberseker, Lucanians but the Vigil themselves should’ve been more utilised as an antagonist in this episode.

Merry: “You don’t know me?”
Clara: “Sorry, actually not!”
Merry: "So why did you follow me?”
Clara: “To help. You look lost.”

The Doctor: “What have you been doing?”
Clara: “Exploring.”

Clara and the TARDIS didn’t seem to get on in this episode but then again, she didn’t have a key. I liked that the Doctor also got Clara’s mother ring back as well from Dor’een.

Clara (re gas giant): “It’s really big.”
The Doctor: “I’ve seen bigger.”
Clara: “Really?”
The Doctor: “Are you joking? It’s massive!”

Clara (to the gas giant): “Still hungry? Well, I’ve brought something for you. This. The most important leaf in human history. The most important leaf in human history, it's full of stories, full of history and full days that never got lived. Days that should've been but never were, passed onto me.”

Standout music: Well, that’s obviously going to be Merry and the Chorister’s singing throughout this episode to appease ‘Grandfather’. I know some thought it went on too long but I think it was perfect for the episode as a whole.

The Doctor: “You remind me of someone.”
Clara: “Who?”
The Doctor: “Someone who died.”
Clara: “Well, whoever she was, I’m not her.”

Chronology: I imagine it’s the day after “The Bells Of Saint John” for Clara.

“The Rings Of Akhaten” visually managed to be one of the most gorgeous episodes we’ve had, with music that certainly made the atmosphere and while there was a sense of familiarity with parts of the episode, I think Neil Cross overall did a decent job with his writing debut, plus the further development for Clara worked well too.

Rating: 8 out of 10