Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Doctor Who - Series 10 To Be Peter Capaldi's Last & Other News

It's been an interesting and sad few days for fans of Doctor Who as the latest series of news has hit us all.

First of all, it was announced yesterday in a radio interview with Jo Whiley that Peter Capaldi will be stepping down from the role of the Doctor. Capaldi confirmed on the air that the upcoming Christmas special will be his last episode, confirming months of speculation that he would be leaving the series. Back in November, the Mirror posted rumours of his departure and now it's been confirmed. I can't pretend that I'm surprised because I definitely saw it coming a mile off and while I do like Peter in the role, I can't help thinking it's better for Chris Chibnall's era to be a whole jumping on point again for viewers. As to whom the new Doctor will be, expect an announcement before the summer starts.

Meanwhile the upcoming tenth series continues to be filmed. Episodes 6 and 7 have been written by Steven Moffat and Peter Harness and will feature the return of Michelle Gomez's Missy with Daniel Neitteim (The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion) directing them. Episodes 8 and 10 will be written by Toby Whithouse and Mark Gatiss respectively, helmed by Wayne Che Yip (who directed Detained and The Metaphysical Engine, Or What Quill Did for Class) while Steven Moffat will pen the two part finale with Rachel Talalay rumoured to be directing the episode. Michelle Gomez will also be reappearing in either the finale or Christmas special as Missy. As for the fates of Bill Potts and Nardole, nothing has been confirmed yet but I think it's likely both characters will also be leaving at Christmas with Capaldi's Doctor and Steven Moffat. Meanwhile, Mark Gatiss has also confirmed that his episode will see the return of the Ice Warriors in a story set on Mars.

In very sad news though, over the weekend it was announced that John Hurt, who played the War Doctor in the 50th anniversary episode, The Day Of The Doctor has sadly passed away. The actor best known for his roles in The Elephant Man and The Naked Civil Servant, amongst many died at the age of 77 from cancer. An amazing actor, Hurt will be deeply missed by everyone. He might have played the Doctor for a brief and important special but it was one of many roles in which he left a lasting impact on viewers with.

Peter Capaldi Departure: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-38805151
John Hurt Obituary: http://www.playbill.com/article/john-hurt-two-time-oscar-nominee-is-dead-at-77

Series 10 of Doctor Who will air on BBC1 and BBCAmerica from April 15th. Filming will be finished from late March and I will do a 13th Doctor list in a bit.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 3x10: "We're Bad People"

Written by Sarah L. Thompson
Directed by Jennifer Getzinger

Annalise (to Bonnie): "Doesn't matter who did it only person locked up is me."

Another return this week and it seems that I might have saved the best one for last, review wise. Last time the show was on the air, Wes was dead and Annalise was pinned for his murder and with five more episodes to go, this is clearly the arc for the second half of this season.

I have to admit I'm still a little shocked the show killed one of the Keating Five but I did love the various reactions towards Wes's death in the episode itself along with the numerous flashbacks on display with him as well. If anything it made me accept a little more than even if Wes is dead, he's still an integral part of the show.

Most of the characters were upset with Wes being dead, except for Connor who made a point of vocalising his lack of concern to the point where Asher even smacked him big time in front of Laurel and Michaela. While I'm glad the show had Connor being honest with his feelings, even I thought that he overstepped the mark in a big way, so I didn't mind Asher punching him this time around.

I did however like that in his flashback with Wes that Connor had actually opened up with the latter about seeing a therapist while in the present day coming clean to Oliver about sleeping with Thomas. I do think Oliver a little quick to forgive Connor there but I also liked that Connor, Michaela and Asher also mended fences as well by the end of things.

Keeping with the flashbacks - Michaela's one with Wes was one of the most telling. I liked that Wes pointed out that they barely interacted when she was advising him on Laurel but I also liked seeing Michaela being there for Laurel in the present day while also expressing some regret over her last conversation with her mother.

Then there was Laurel herself. She was grieving for Wes and in a lot of pain. The episode had her appropriately lash out at Frank, even if the latter wasn't responsible for Wes as demonstrated by his willingness to hand himself over and that somewhat cryptic encounter with Wes at the end of this episode too. I definitely think we can rule Frank out as Wes's killer here.

However while it'll be another five episodes before we know who the killer is, the one person being framed as Wes's murderer is Annalise herself. This week things got worse and worse for her as she was refused bail and it seems that Atwood and her team are on their own little witch hunt to send Annalise down for Wes's death along with other things.

I don't need to say that once again, Viola Davis delivered but yeah, I'll say it, because it's true. All of Annalise's scenes with her cellmates and Bonnie show the dispirited side to the character along with her flashback moment with Wes and Meggy as well. While I don't want to see Annalise go to prison, there's no denying that Viola continues to bring her A game in all the scenes.

- Asher's flashback involved Wes having to bail him out when he mistook another girl for Michaela.
- We didn't get to see a lot of Meggy's grief in the episode but at least there was one moment where Connor asked if she was okay, which I liked.
- Both Eve and Hannah were mentioned in this episode and for a moment, I thought we might have seen at least one of them.
- Chronology: From where Who's Dead left off.

We're Bad People certainly kicked things off for the second half nice. Enjoying a bit of a ratings spike with the returns of the other two popular Shondaland shows, it's going to be interesting to see how they will resolve this Wes arc in the next five weeks.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 2x09: "Raiders Of The Lost Art"

Written by Keto Shimizu & Chris Fedak
Directed by Dermott Downs

Rip (as Phil): "There is no such thing as Rip Hunter, and there is no such thing as a Time Ship."

Fine, I'll say it - did this show just Human Nature the hell out of Rip Hunter? It feels like it did as the gang inadvertently reunited with him this week and it seems that he's got no clue about well, anything to be honest.

Nope, the poor lad who was residing in 1967 Los Angeles just assumes that his name is Phil and that he's a film student with a recreational drug habit so having both the Legends and the 'Legion of Doom' (someone's not keen on the title) both pursuing him is a bit of a shock to the system. I had actually forgotten that Arthur Darvill is a dab hand with the physical comedy. This episode served as a great reminder on that front.

Rip or Phil's whole reaction to everything was absolutely priceless. I love that Sara and company were trying to get Rip to remember his former life and the guy just thought they were completely mad. I also loved the tie in with his little movie that we saw a little bit more of and then there was the moment where it looked like Rip had come back, only for it still to be Phil tyrying and failing to be a hero.

The upshot of the episode is that our team has the both the medallion and the Spear of Destiny (or the Holy Lance - someone was very keen on that title) but the Legion themselves managed to get their hands on Rip to torture for some of next week going by the trailers. Speaking of the Holy Lance, guess who got to hold on to that little item for some of the episode - George Lucas.

Yup, for a show that shamelessly mentions Star Wars at a frequent pace, this episode did one better by having the gang encounter the future director. It also resulted in having Lucas nearly quit film school and almost be crushed inside a garbage disposal along with a briefly powerless Amaya, Ray and Nate but other than that, it was a fun use for the influential director.

Getting away from the main plots for a bit though, we had both Mick and Stein working together to figure out why the former was seeing Snart (who didn't actually appear this week). As side plots go, I enjoyed it quite a bit and I did find it amusing that for all of Mick's attempts of keeping it secret, both Sara and Jax (who had some great moments in this one) found out rather quickly too.

- Rip's film saw some moments from River Of Time being recreated. Sara is also Sandra while Jax is Max in this movie too.
- Sara didn't like the name Legion of Doom but was pretty content with referring to the Spear of Destiny as the Holy Lance for some reason.
- This was the first episode in the show's new slot as it's now paired up with The Flash. It's also been renewed for a third season.
- Chronology: Mainly 1967 Los Angeles for this episode.

Raiders Of The Lost Art was certainly a fun episode to return with. As much as I don't want Rip to be without his memories for too long, I did enjoy the comedy and pathos this episode managed to get out of him thinking he was Phil though and this team of baddies continue to be strong as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 3x13: "Smile Like You Mean It"

Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi

Leslie: "Theo Galavan's dead."
Jerome: "Who beat me to it?"
Leslie: "Which time?"

And he's back, folks! Last week did the teasing and this week kind of did the pleasing as Jerome finally came back from the dead, had his face taken off him but also delighted in a wonderfully snarky conversation with Leslie before shit went down towards the final act of this particular episode.

I could honestly watch a whole episode of Jerome and Leslie just deadpanning everything from Gordon to Galavan and back again but the little scene we got with those two was just priceless. Actually, this embittered version of Leslie who just jabs people with syringes and generally treats Gordon with a level of disdain is a breath of fresh air. I really want this version of the character to stay around for a bit longer to be honest.

As for Jerome, it did take until halfway through this episode for him to properly get in on the action. Until then, it was mostly his cult trying their best to be menacing with Dwight intentionally coming across as hopelessly pathetic when he imitated his icon (including taking his face as well). Having Jerome then publicly punish Dwight was a great way of enforcing his authority along with putting the city into a blackout as well.

Of course it wasn't just Jerome causing so many problems in this episode as well (though his scenes were undoubtedly the best this week). Barbara and Tabitha upped their torment of Oswald by trying to get him to act out against some gang members and when the latter wasn't wiping out some of the gang members herself, Nygma was pretending to be taken hostage as well.

It's a little bad to see Oswald completely lose his shit over Nygma but on the other hand, it's providing some genuinely great drama and Barbara herself is getting some great lines too. However, it's pretty obvious though that Tabitha's desire to kill Nygma (which she's totally justified in having) isn't going to pan out so well for her though. That guy ain't dying any time soon.

Meanwhile Selina's storyline with her mother took the most predictable of twists. It turned out that Maria was scamming her daughter and Bruce and Selina certainly let rip at both her mother and Bruce - the latter who seemed pretty unfazed by Maria's deception. Even for a weaker-ish plot, it held up pretty well along with the Jerome and Oswald storylines this week.

- Jerome's look is totally family if you've read recent comic stories like Death Of The Family and Endgame.
- Barbara describing Oswald's hair as 'disco vampire' is brilliant. One of the best lines the show has ever thrown out there.
- Nygma didn't physically appear in the episode. Butch, Ivy, Barnes and Jervis were also no shows here too.
- Chronology: A couple of days since the events of Ghosts I think.

Smile Like You Mean It certainly gave Jerome the return he deserved. I could've done without every member of his cult feeling the need to mimic his laugh though but other than that, this episode was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Will & Grace - NBC Order 10 Episode Series

And the revivals keep on coming. Earlier this month, the CW announced a reboot for popular supernatural series, Charmed and now NBC are following suit with bringing back Will & Grace.

Announcing earlier in the week, the station will be bringing back the popular sitcom for 10 episodes with all of the original cast - Eric McCormack as Will Truman, Debra Messing as Grace Adler, Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland and Megan Mullally as Karen Walker. The series ran for eight seasons between 1998 and 2006 and will return to NBC for the 2017-2018 television season. Creators and executive producers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan along with veteran director James Burrows will also be returning for the upcoming series.

Of course, we did get a return of sorts last year with a ten minute scene that had the four regulars discussing their thoughts on the Clinton vs. Trump Election (and we all know how that panned out, given yesterday's stark reminder of things) and while the scene wasn't perfect, it did feel like the show had never gone away, which should bode well for the show.

Election Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzae4DKexko
Press Release: http://deadline.com/2017/01/will-grace-return-nbc-season-9-1201888523/

The Complete Series of Will & Grace is available on DVD. Season 9 will air on NBC for the 2017-2018 television season.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 3x12: "Ghosts"

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by Eagle Egilsson

Zsasz (to Gordon): "You've had a good run."

It's been a little over a month since the last time the show was on the air and things had ended on a sour note. Gordon blundered yet again by shooting Mario Falcone and Nygma threw his question marks in with Barbara/Tabitha/Butch in order to take Oswald down while Selina met up with her mother for the first time in over a decade. This episode continued on all three with a little something else in the mix too.

First of all, Gordon continues to excel in picking his moments badly by actually showing up to Mario's funeral. Not only that but we had a fairly tedious scene where Leslie demanded his arrest while Falcone went one better and utilised Victor Zsasz's services in order to take Gordon out, only for Leslie to later talk him out of the hit.

I did love that there was this weird sense of jovial banter between Zsasz and Gordon prior to the attempted hit going down. Gordon weirdly has gotten a respect from Victor but at the same time, Zsasz had no qualms with trying to kill him. Even if Falcone hadn't called off the hit, I don't think Victor would've succeeded though. Annoying as Gordon can be, the man's knack for survival is impressive though.

As for Leslie, parts of the episode weren't great for her but I did like that we saw her acting out of grief (even if I had no investment in her and Mario) and upon seeing how batshit Barnes was, we also saw her loosen on her hatred for Gordon in this one too. Falcone didn't seem pleased to call off his hit on Jim but he did for Leslie though, which was interesting.

However with Falcone going for the direct approach to deal with Gordon and changing his mind at the last minute, Edward, Barbara and Tabitha went for something more brutal. Hiring Clayface to mess with Oswald's head by disguising himself as Elijah was a delightfully twisted plot, especially as Oswald unraveled big time during an interview with a sceptical reporters on television too.

Nygma's plans for Oswald are delightfully twisted and it's interesting to see that he isn't being idle either. As for Barbara and Tabitha, it didn't seem like they were doing too much themselves other than sitting back and enjoying Oswald publicly unfolding.

Meanwhile Selina and her mother were having difficulties reconnecting with each other. This plot took up a little less screen time compared to the first two but it was nice nonetheless. Selina's mistrust for Maria had merit to it but Bruce was able to get the two of them to reconnect a little here while Maria's past also came into play. I do get the feeling though that Selina may get burnt by this plot within the next two episodes.

As for the advertised aspect of the episode - it seems that there's a cult out there being led by former Indian Hill work, Dwight Pollard. Dwight seems to have a thing for resurrections and given that Gordon and Bullock stumbled into a Jerome worshipping cult, well you could see the last scene of this one coming a mile off. Welcome back, Jerome.

- Alfred seemed to be a lot smitten with Maria during this episode as well. Selina is also 16 years old. Maria left her when she was five.
- Butch, Ivy and Hatter sat this episode out. I really hope the second half of this season has a better idea of how to utilise Ivy to be honest.
- David Dastmalchian who played Dwight in this episode was a previous Joker acolyte in The Dark Knight.
- Chronology: Not long from where Beware The Green Eyed Monster left off.

A strong returning episode. Ghosts picked up on the plot strands from the mid-season finale and pushed them a little further with interesting results. The start of the Jerome mini-arc as well was handled pretty well in this one.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Review of Sherlock's 4x03: "The Final Problem"

Written by Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss
Directed by Benjamin Caron

Sherlock: "John stays!"
Mycroft: "This is family."
Sherlock: "That's why he stays."

Sorry for the delay but I've needed a little time to digest this one. Is it me or has this current season not only not been the show's strongest but at the same time been it's most controversial? No more so than this episode itself which has generated a lot of dissent online from a certain fanbase but let's look at the episode itself, shall we?

First of all, after her behind the curtain antics, the Wizard revealed herself as Eurus Holmes and she decided to up the ante with both of her brothers and Watson by luring them to Sherrinford, which turned out to be the place that Eurus was incarcerated in rather than an extended family member as previously assumed by us all.

On rather fine and demented form here by Sian Brooke, Eurus seemed intent on making up for lost time by taking over the very place that she's spent her life imprisoned and placing her brothers along with John in various life and death situations. Not really for them though. Just a couple of tertiary characters here and there, although there was at least a few moments where either Mycroft or John were some proper peril though.

I have to admit, it's more the psychological battle between the Holmes siblings with Watson caught in the middle that was more fascinating than the actual games that Eurus kept playing throughout the episode. The subplot with the girl in the plane was tremendously dull and predictable and there was something slightly unsatisfying in seeing Eurus go somewhat unpunished for her crimes within the episode itself.

I did however get a kick into seeing the Holmes siblings as kids and the Redbeard stuff took a far darker and interesting turn than I expected it to do. Then there was also the return of Moriarty but don't worry people, he's still dead. Instead we got flashbacks to both him and Eurus meeting five years prior, which to be honest worked reasonably well.

However the biggest thing I took away from this episode was the final five minutes. There was certainly a feeling that things could really go either way for this show. Either this episode served as a series finale or a clearing of the decks for a less chaotic show should it return in the near future. To be honest, I'm perfect fine with either one at the moment.

- Molly got a bit of a bad role in this episode but I did love Louise Brealey's comments on her character's situation when confronted about it on Twitter. Hudson and Lestrade didn't have too much to do in this one either. Paul Weller also played a Viking here too.
- One more appearance from Mary in this one too as Sherlock and John are now living together, looking after baby Rosie. Surely that alone should've sated the more fanatical Johnlock shippers.
- There were so many references to various things in this episode - Victor Trevor, Rathbone etc but the whole island prison also smacked of The Sea Devils as well.
- The BBC have yet to confirm if the show will be returning. It might be a while before that happens.

The Final Problem kind of works as a series finale. It also kind of works as a clearing of the decks for a less muddled future. It also serves as a means of moving the show away from characters like Mary, Moriarty and despite only meeting her this series, possibly Eurus. It also succeeded in restoring Sherlock and Watson's friendship and bringing things back to basics. As an episode though, I did feel it could've been better than it actually was but it still had it's moments though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Charmed - CW Conjures Up A Reboot

Well, this was inevitable, wasn't it?

Last week, the CW announced that they were planning a reboot for supernatural drama series, Charmed and this week, more details of said reboot emerged. The series which ran for eight seasons on the WB between 1998 and 2006 and which starred Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano as the Halliwell sisters and witches, Prue, Piper and Phoebe with later seasons adding Rose McGowan as half sister Paige Matthews and Kaley Cuoco as Billie Jenkins. This is the latest in a growing number of shows being rebooted for modern audiences.

On Sunday, it was confirmed that the upcoming reboot would have no ties to the former show at present and that the series would be a standalone show. It's also been confirmed that the show will be set in 1970's New England. Jane The Virgin EP Jennie Snyder Urman is shepherding the project, which is currently just at the pilot-script stage. Character descriptions for the new/old power of three have also been released ....

Tina: African American. Whip-smart, Tina is one dissertation (and one dissertation advisor) away from a PhD. She can be reserved, even standoffish, in uncomfortable situations, but she picks up on
everything and she’s definitely making quick, accurate judgments about you.
Paige: Caucasian Cheerful, curvy, wholesome and as all-American as the apple pie she can’t wait to serve to the husband she has yet to marry. Paige’s main goal in life is to marry a rich doctor and be a wife and mother. Really, another Paige?
Annie: Caucasian. Intense, smart, and quick to anger. She dresses neutrally, though she could give two s–ts if you like her outfit, so stop wondering what “neutral” means. But under that tough fa├žade, well… there is a fragility. A person desperate to be loved, and love.

I have to admit that I'm not really too against this reboot idea, but mainly because while I enjoyed the original show, I wasn't as big into it as I was the likes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Also given that the CW are going to be a supernatural series down fairly soon with The Vampire Diaries ending soon, I can sort of see why they chose to revive this particular show, but whether or not viewers can be Charmed a second time remains to be seen. The reaction from some of the original series cast members are worth having a gander at too.

Press Release: http://tvline.com/2017/01/08/charmed-revival-prequel-the-cw-spoilers-cast/

The Charmed reboot is currently at pilot stage. It'll be a few months before we'll know if the CW intend to pick it up to series.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Review of Sherlock's 4x02: "The Lying Detective"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran

Eurus (to Watson): "My parents loved silly names like Eurus or Mycroft or Sherlock. Oh, look at him. Didn't it ever occur to you, not even once that Sherlock's secret brother might just be Sherlock's secret sister?"

No, but considering that the very last scene of this episode played out similarly to Missy as the Master reveal in Doctor Who's Dark Water it really should've done. So, Sherlock and Mycroft have a 'secret' sister named Eurus and like Moriarty, she's a fan of hiding in plain sight as she demonstrated in both this episode .... and the previous episode.

Yes, credit given to actress Sian Brooke who previously appeared as Watson's potential mistress/the woman on the bus from last week while this week donning the guises of both Faith Smith and the therapist that Watson had been seeing. I say credit, because I genuinely didn't cop to the fact that it was the same actress in each of those roles.

In fact going by the reaction online, many people similarly fell for it and Eurus herself gives a great lines about how people don't always look at faces, which was why she was able to hide herself so clearly for both Sherlock and Watson. One thing I am intrigued by though, why it was Watson that Eurus chose to reveal her identity towards instead of Sherlock and/or Mycroft though?

I guess it doesn't matter anyways as the finale will undoubtedly give the three Holmes siblings plenty of moments together. Eurus also revealed that she was the East Wind rising and there's clearly going to be someone else that Sherlock will have to face again that the media already leaked.

Giving Sherlock and Mycroft a secret sister would've been more shocking had we not seen Moffat pull similarly stuff in Doctor Who the last few series with the likes of Missy and the General. The reveal is a nice moment though and I can't wait to see all three (or is there a fourth one waiting in the wings?) Holmes siblings interacting with each other.

Because of the big reveal, I nearly forgot the main nuts and bolts of this episode and that was Mary (pulling in ghostly appearances) trying to reunite Sherlock and Watson from beyond the grave. Of course to save John Watson, he needed to be placed into a position where he needed to save his best friend, so Sherlock resorting to putting his own life in danger to achieve that felt pretty apt.

Pitting Sherlock against cereal killer (and actually a serial killer)/ celebrity guy Culverton Smith was another masterstroke in reuniting the estranged pairing. Toby Jones is a magnificent actor in most things and here he was served pretty well, playing a genuinely horrifying character who delved into some real life celebrity scumbags for good measure. I loved the cat and mouse antics between Sherlock and Culverton throughout the episode and there was something really unsettling in seeing Culverton's glee in getting caught for his crimes as well. For a guest villain, he's definitely one of the more memorable ones.

Also memorable in this episode was the wonderful use of Mrs Hudson. She's always been a great character but this week, Una Stubbs came so close to stealing the whole episode (only slightly pipped to the post by Sian Brooke and Toby Jones) as we saw Hudson play her part in getting Sherlock and Watson back together but the icing on the cake was her dressing down of Mycroft in one of the most satisfying scenes I think the show has ever done. Needless to say but the more Hudson, the better.

- Though dead, Mary made appearances as Watson was talking to her/himself this week. I think she'll be back for the finale as well.
- Both Lestrade and Molly were a little underused this week. We also got another reminder of Irene Adler being alive, though this time with Watson being aware of it.
- Mycroft and Lady Smallwood? Well, that rules out one theory. Meanwhile the real Faith was played by Gina Bramhill.
- Chronology: A good few weeks since the events of The Six Thatchers. The ratings for this episode took a bit of a big dip sadly.

After something of a disappointing opening episode, I'm glad to see the series bounce back magnificently with The Lying Detective. A brilliant adaptation on the tale (even if some moments were a bit too trippy at times) with some brilliant character moments, a truly satisfying guest villain and a brilliant final scene.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Sense8 - A Christmas Special

Written by Lana Wachowski & J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Lana Wachowski

Wolfgang: "Happy fucking New Year!"

It's been well over a year and a half since NetFlix's most bizarre (you think Stranger Things is weird, then you've never seen this series) show debuted with it's impressive first season and with a few more months to go for Season 2, we have this delightful two hour 'prelude' to somewhat tide us over before then.

I'll admit that I haven't watched Sense8 since catching it's finale back in June 2015, so it took me a little bit to familiarise myself with the characters again and it seems that while not a huge amount has changed, other than Will needing to be blindfolded and drugged a bit to keep Whispers from finding him and Riley (notice how massively their roles have reversed here), although by the end of this one, it seems that the slippery guy had the advantage once again.

Of course while Will and Riley were playing at hiding away (as were Nomi and Amanita), I did like that the episode deepened their connection all the more but of course we saw a lot of connections in this one. Anyone who loved the orgy scene from Demons got a sequel that involved all of the clusters this time around for good measure. Rarely do scenes like that work a second time but here it certainly did along with the madcap antics of the eight clusters banding together to celebrate their birthday in one of the most glorious scenes ever.

While this episode didn't do much to advance the ongoing threat, it achieved so much more on a personal level with each of the clusters. Seeing Lito and Hernando as a united front when their relationship became public knowledge really got to me and I loved the presence of Lito's mother and Daniella's disgust at her friends being vilified by the media while at the same time doing her best to support them.

As well as Lito coming out of hiding, Nomi and Amanita also did the same upon visiting the former's friend and then spending Christmas dinner with Bug and Amanita's mother and four fathers. Along with Lito/Hernando, this show continues to show what a loving couple Nomi/Amanita are in the face of some big odds here.

Meanwhile, both Kala and Wolfgang seem to be growing closer but aren't quite there with each other. Kala clearly wants to be with Wolfgang but is also determined to make her marriage to Rajan work (who thankfully is a sympathetic character) while Wolfgang had some joy with Felix waking from his coma but the gang related stuff he gets involved with came to a messy head during New Year's Eve. On the plus, it did lead to a brilliant parting line for this episode.

As for Sun, she's still stuck in prison but at least she's got people supporting her. The women in the prison keeping her morale up and the gang trying to get her freedom back and saving her from nearly being killed as well. There's also a beautiful moment she shared with Kala talking about her first time and it's a scene I found as powerful as the sexual freedom speech given earlier by Kala and Lito in the episode. Saying that, Season 2 really does need to get Sun out of prison as early as possible.

As for Capheus, well he's regenerated (Toby Onwumere replacing Aml Ameen) and to be honest, aside from the nice little knowing nods to the new casting, he's still the lovable, optimistic guy from before. I loved his interactions with Sun and his reactions to getting a new bus along with his scenes with his mother. Not only that but this episode gave us some great stuff for smaller characters like Bug, Felix and Daniella to boot as well as more on both Amanita and Hernando.

- We briefly saw both Jonas and Angelica again in this episode. I'm hoping we see a little more of both in Season 2.
- Standout music: Obvious uses of Hallelujah and Auld Lang Syne to one side, the use of Jetta's I'd Love To Change The World during the orgy scene worked beautifully.
- Chronology: The episode took in August up to and including Christmas and New Year's Eve pretty well.
- Season 2 will be released on Netflix from May 5th. It'll be 10 episodes this time.

That was amazing. Arguably I do think this could've been 90 minutes and still had the desired effect it set out to have but A Christmas Special was easily one of the best things to be released over the Christmas period and served as a nice reminder how off the wall and brilliant this series truly is. Watch this episode and then watch it again. And so on.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

EastEnders - Ronnie & Roxy Mitchell: 2007-2017

Yeah, it's been a while since I've done an EastEnders related post but with the departure of two characters on New Year's Day, I thought it was time to fix that.

In July 2007, the Mitchell family found themselves getting expanded when two cousins by the names of Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy (Rita Simons) rocked up in Walford for one of cousin Phil's (Steve McFadden) many weddings over the years. Months before that, upon Womack and Simons respective casting for the show, the BBC launched a series of trailers to promote the characters, including one that show Ronnie as the Ice to Roxy's fire and the pair of them stirring up the Vic while dancing to Calvin Harris's The Girls.

Aside from the girls both being members of the Mitchell clan, there was certainly a level of confidence aimed at the characters to bolster the show a little and within nine and a half years, this has happened and then some. Between both sisters, we've had several weddings, children, death of children, the girls controlling father Archie (Larry Lamb) - one of the show's best villains, drug addictions, baby swaps. The one thing that cannot be said that the characters were ever boring but saying that, things do come to an end.

In late 2016 after weeks of current producer Sean O'Connor taking over the show (and dividing viewers with his approach to storytelling), it was announced that both Ronnie and Roxy would be leaving the show in early 2017. Weeks later, it was announced exactly how they would depart the series and it genuinely sounded ludicrous. On screen though, the depiction was something a little more baroque but still ludicrous. After nine and a half years and more drama that you can throw at a pairing of siblings from a family as volatile as the Mitchells, Ronnie and Roxy were killed by drowning in a pool at the stroke at midnight. Yup, that apparently is how you write out these characters after so long on the show.

New Year's Day has always been somewhat chaotic for the Mitchell sisters. In the past, Ronnie has had to save Roxy from nearly drowning in a frozen lake and we've seen Ronnie lose both her and Jack (Scott Maslan) son, James on that day, leading to the controversial baby swap storyline with Kat (Jessie Wallace) and Alfie (Shane Ritchie) along with Ronnie's murder of gangster Carl White (Daniel Coonan) and almost being killed herself on her own wedding to Charlie Cotton (Declan Bennett). This time around, she was marrying Jack for the second time and despite some initial hiccups between her and Roxy and a deeper look into their co-dependent relationship, it finally seemed like things were on happy ground for the dark character and her hedonistic sister. Then they got drunk and died in a freak accident.

I'm not strictly against killing off big characters and the final episode for both Womack and Simons certainly had a lot of lovely motifs and nods to their past. Recreating their trailer for the wedding reception was a genius move along with both of them discussing opening up another nightclub along with the selfie moment they had with Phil in the episode earlier. I even loved that not remotely use of Cinderella as Jack read slowly to Amy, Ricky and Matthew while Ronnie and Roxy's last moments played out and the show of the two of them in the pool was certainly eerie and one of the darkest images the show has done.

However saying that and watching the aftermath in the next two episodes, I can't help thinking that Sean O'Connor was somewhat hasty in his decision to kill off both characters. I don't think resting Ronnie and Roxy in itself was strictly a bad idea. Certain characters on soaps work with being written out for a bit and some characters do have a shelf life. While there was a danger of Ronnie and Roxy forever repeating the same habits, I do think that in the long run killing both of them off in the way they were on Sunday's episode wasn't the best decision though.

That said, a special thanks to both Samantha Womack and Rita Simons for their work over the years and especially for the last episode. Walford won't be the same without the Mitchell sisters.

My Review of Sherlock's 4x01: "The Six Thatchers"

Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Rachel Talalay

Mary (to Sherlock): "Save John Watson!"

After the somewhat disappointing Doctor Who Christmas special, The Return Of Doctor Mysterio, a week later saw the return of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's other big hit series, Sherlock and it came back with an opener that had some emotional heart, a telegraphed character death and a lot of confusion. Let's stick with the highlight of the episode - Mary Morstan.

I've not been shy in my like for this particular character and unlike some fans, I've actually quite enjoyed the spy/assassin backstory that Moffat and Gatiss have given the character. In this episode, it came to a head though as Mary's past well and truly caught up with her.

For those of you wanting to learn more about A.G.R.A. then this episode clearly that up nicely. It was acronym of four assassins for hire - Alex, Gabriel, Rosamund (aka Mary) and AJ. We got flashbacks to an event from six years ago when two out of the four were killed and the survivor, AJ (Sacha Dhawan) spent the rest of the time in captivity being tortured.

In the present day, AJ got back his freedom and a determination to kill Mary, so the latter upon realising that she couldn't reason with him decided to scarper. In scenes that could've been lifted from Alias, Mary donned a couple of wigs and dodgy accents while traipsing to different parts of the world to avoid detection from both her former comrade and Sherlock and Watson.

Of course that didn't work out so good as everyone caught up with Mary in the end but for those assuming that AJ would be the one to take her out, well the episode did succeed in tricking us all there. Nope, instead the rather 'harmless' looking Vivian Norbury (Marcia Warren), who was happy for both Mary and Lady Smallwood to take on fall guy roles was the one to do the deed. Although it was a result of Mary putting herself in front of a bullet to save Sherlock though.

Aside from the obvious criticism that Watson himself should've checked Mary's pulse before declaring her dead, I have to admit the death itself actually lacked punch. Even though Amanda Abbington was on fine form during the majority of the episode and the final posthumous scene via a recorded message packed a punch, the actual death should've been far better than it actually was.

Thematically I do think the episode mostly succeeded with Mary having to come to terms with her past just as things had been cracking a little with her, John and baby Rosamund. The episode even implied that John was considering having an affair on Mary at one point. Saying that though, I really liked the character and I kind of wish they had held off her death for another bit but those are the break though.

As for the main bulk of the story. We had AJ destroying busts of Margaret Thatcher to get back a flashdrive (same one Mary had in His Last Vow) but aside from his revenge agenda, I have to admit it didn't greatly interest. Then there's also the fact that Sherlock was more distracted by Moriarty that it took him a while to even figure out that everything was connecting back to Mary and now we have him and John at odds with one another.

- Dexter the dog was apparently a bit of a diva on the set too. Isn't there a saying about never working with children and animals on sets?
- For all the mentioning of Moriarty, Andrew Scott was surprising absent from this one. Don't worry though, he'll be back. Not a spoiler, just intuition.
- We're clearly being set up to meet the third Holmes brother this series, aren't we? Not to mention there was a nice little Easter Egg for next's episode antagonist during one moment.
- Chronology: Time jumped a bit in this episode. I think we were in 2016 though.

I have to admit despite some great moments and a nice look into Mary's past/further set up for more storylines, The Six Thatchers is by far one of the weaker episodes we've had. It's not quite on the levels of disappointment generated by a certain first series episode but it comes up shorter than it really should've, in spite of it's impressive ratings return. Hopefully the next two episodes are more on form.

Rating: 7 out of 10