24 April 2017

Smile




2017 Series Episode 2 - tx 22/04/17. Written by Frank Cottrell- Boyce. Directed by Lawrence Gough. Episode reviewed by Estelle Hargraves

Episode 2 continues the “jumping-on point” to Who that Steven Moffatt provided in The Pilot last week. That was all about setting the scene, introducing the basics of the characters and solving a present-day mystery which, in classic-Moffatt fashion, was all about making an everyday object (in this case, a puddle) mysterious and sinister. As the series continues, there appears to be the beginnings of a whistle stop tour of the classic elements of Doctor Who – in Smile, the Doctor gives not-quite-official-companion-yet Bill Potts the option of an adventure in the past or future and Bill shows just how eager she is to explore the unknown by immediately choosing the future, “to see if it’s happy.”

19 April 2017

NEW SERIES Golden Mile Years # 1



The Doctor himself never quite got to Blackpool yet hundreds of thousands of his fans certainly did. Sitting incongruously on the resort’s famous Golden Mile, a large blue police box signalled the entrance to the Doctor Who Exhibition which ran from 1974 to 1985. Sounds from the show- we’d call them samples now- drifted along the road as you approached, images lined the adjacent wall. As a build- up it was brilliant. Then there was that big blue box itself; actually larger in dimensions than the `real` thing and because we were kids it looked even larger. Step inside and for a moment the real world intervenes as you have to pay and you get a rather insignificant ticket with no actual mention of what you were attending on it. Then you descend steep steps and now the outside world is truly gone. Instead it is semi dark with music, dialogue extracts and odd noises playing and lying ahead a series of displays, each beautifully staged and lit, stretching ahead along a winding corridor. The centrepiece is a TARDIS console replica around which sit screens through which we see even more detailed displays containing monsters and props. There’s even a shop at the end containing more merchandise than any fan in those days had ever seen. Even when you climbed the steps and found yourself in a large cafĂ©, the Doctor Who experience lingered courtesy of the echoes from the exhibition which must have driven the staff crazy after several months! 

16 April 2017

NEW SERIES The Pilot





2017 Series Episode 1 tx 15/04/17. Written by Steven Moffatt. Directed by Lawrence Gough. Episode reviewed by John Connors 
Chips, lemon drops and macaroons! 
Modern Doctor Who is now an old series. 12 years on screen and counting.  The newness has worn off, the freshly painted exterior needs a fresh coat. Under such circumstances- and having admitted publicly this is the series too far, the one he initially had to be persuaded to make - it would be easy to expect Steven Moffat to brew something dark, bitter and even uncommitted. However `The Pilot` from its cheeky title in is so fresh and totally committed you wonder whether secretly a new showrunner has already arrived and he’s still called Steven Moffat! This episode is such a leap from last series’ darker hues that it feels like the whole team has overdosed on jelly babies!  

WARNING- SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT.

31 March 2017

New series publicity, going back to Class and big fanzines



I can’t remember a modern Doctor Who series about which so comparatively little was known two weeks prior to broadcast. We don’t even have all the story titles yet. What plotlines we do know are brief summaries from an interview with Steven Moffat and what we have seen are a dazzling array of images. There is certainly an optimism about this series amongst fans that perhaps was missing last time round. Even that 2015 series’ trailer went along the lines of `same old same old` which wasn’t the best way to market something new. This time round the first trailer harked back to 2005’s `trip of a lifetime` approach with Bill talking about meeting the Doctor. This makes it seem fresh again.
Later trailers focussed on the monsters always a way to incite interest. The result was a surge of enthusiasm especially for the Mondasian Cybermen and also the Emoii robot plus the new Ice Warrior. The main new aliens the Monks do seem menacing too. Overall the tone of the trailers is definitely that of a show that has rejuvenated itself. 

26 March 2017

Why don't people like The Ambassadors of Death?



There are a number of Doctor Who stories people just don't seem to have taken to and `The Ambassadors of Death` is high up that list. People says its too slow, that it doesn't have the same weight as it's contemporaries on the 1970 series. I say give it a chance! Without it that season would be a poorer place indeed. Whatever else you might think of it `The Ambassadors of Death` never looks silly. It may seem absurdly naive in its depiction of (literal) rocket science, it may take some liberties with its time frame and it may play out sluggishly for modern viewers but not once does it look silly. More than that though, at times, `Ambassadors` is hard as nails. It shows the sort of things that you’d probably not even be allowed to show at teatime nowadays and it does it with such panache that you can only doff your cap.


22 March 2017

Kris Marshall and co- the ongoing next Doctor speculation part 145



As always happens when a news story neither concludes nor develops speculation has filled the lengthening void between Peter Capaldi announcing his departure and whomever replaces him being confirmed. Thus we’ve had the media deciding several times that so and so will be the new Doctor only to come up with a different name a few days later. Tilda Swinton was favourite, then Kris Marshall was such a `shoo in` that betting on him was suspended. Now it’s gone back to names being thrown into the mix. Damian Molony, a leading candidate in the media’s eyes last time round has re-appeared courtesy of Toby Whithouse which is interesting only in the sense that the writer was one of those speculated to become show runner long before Chris Chibnall was announced. Had Whithouse taken the job (not that as far as we know he was offered it) we can at least see who his Doctor would have been. Now there’s another era unfolding in our imagination and if Chibnall is found wanting you can be sure fans will start saying `Urrgh it should have been Whithouse and Molony”. Fans are like that.
"I'm the Doctor you know"