Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nightmare in Silver

Neil Gaiman last wrote for show back in season 6 with The Doctor's Wife, a clever and interesting story where the Doctor finally gets to talk to his beloved TARDIS. However, his return to Doctor Who was rather underwhelming.

Nightmare in Silver sees the Doctor, Clara and the children she babysits (Angie and Artie) on what should have been a crazy fun adventure for the kids. However, disappointment and annoying children soon ensue when the promise of the biggest theme park in the universe basically turns out to be a pile of scrap metal - rides abandoned and in a complete state of disrepair.

They first meet Mr Webley who used to run the World of Wonders. Among his wax figures and statues is a 'magical' chess-playing Cyberman - who turns out to be controlled by Porridge (Warwick Davis). After the slow start, things start to get interesting when we first glimpse the little cybermites, the upgraded version of the cybermat. Cyber technology upgrades are the basis of this episode. When some 3 million Cybermen attack the poorly defended planet, even their most advanced weapons (which totalled an entire six) quickly became obsolete. Apparently their technology has advanced so much since we last saw them that they can be upgraded instantly. Their intelligence seems to have been upgraded too. Once they were the ultimate soldier, advancing on their enemy with no fear of death. Now they're laying traps and looking for more creative, intelligent people to further their advancement.

This doesn't go down too well for the Doctor. His Timelord intelligence was of course an attraction for the Cybermen, who began the upgrading process on the Doctor. He wasn't going to give up that easily, however, and the long, internal battle for the control of the Doctor's mind begins. Matt Smith really seems to get better and better each week. He switched between the two character's with such perfection and ease, making it by far the best and most captivating part of the episode.

Clara also had quite a good role this week, though I still don't find her all that amazing. She took control of the punishment platoon quite well and I think we finally got to see what she can do. To be honest, though, I think she is still quite one-dimensional. And seriously, can we not start a whole other love story for the Doctor PLEASE? With Rose, it was great. Even Martha's unrequited love was interesting and I think she was all the more strong for it. River has annoyed the crap out of me since forever and there was always some flirting with the Doctor and Amy. So can the Doctor and Clara just be friends, is it really that hard? /endrant

Oh wait, I forgot to mention how annoying and pointless Angie and Artie were. Thank god they were kinda just left to the side for most of the episode. /actualendrant

The episode also raised some good future plots, most notably the Doctor-sized hole in history. Not such a subtle way of erasing yourself was it, Doctor? I hope that is actually explored though. Not just casually mentioned later on as being 'fixed' or just completely solved with a push of a button, which seems to be the trend lately. Even Nightmare in Silver was solved with a quick teleportation away from the exploding planet. Oh how I want a suspenseful two-part episode with a complex/exciting ending. 

Rating: 7.5/10

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments :D

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Crimson Horror

Mark Gatiss latest contribution to the season, The Crimson Horror, is one of those fantastic action adventures. Jenny, Madame Vastra and Strax are back this week, continuing their escapades in Victorian England. (These three really need their own show) Terrifying people by preaching about the apocalypse, the episode's villain Mrs Gillyflower invites those who want to survive to live in 'Sweetville', a new town which looked remarkably similar to Willy Wonka's factory. Those who Mrs Gillyflower deems acceptable are paralysed and set up as a display in one of the town's houses. Everyone else is subjected to the crimson horror, a red poison which paralyses, colours them bright red and then ultimately kills them.

I think The Crimson Horror may actually be the best episode of the second half of this season. Like Hide, Gatiss' episode mixes sci-fi and 'horror' quite well. With the Doctor and Clara mysteriously absent for a relatively large portion of the episode, Vastra, Jenny and Strax are left to find out what has caused the deaths of so many. When the Doctor finally appears, it is not in a way you would expect. As the only one to survive (just barely) the crimson horror, Mrs Gillyflower's daughter, Ada decides to rescue him, keeping him chained up as her 'monster'. Jenny, sent undercover into Sweetville, finds the Doctor bright red and half-paralysed in a cell. Armed with the sonic screwdriver and what I'm assuming is the antidote to the poison, the Doctor is quickly back to normal and desperate to find Clara.

Of course, this is an issue for Jenny. Clara is dead, isn't she? The Ice-Lady pushed her off a cloud! Poor Jenny, despite vigorous questioning at every chance, never finds out how she is still alive. And here we go into the season's story arc - the mystery that is Clara Oswald. At the end of the episode, the kids she nannies have uncovered pictures of her from all across time. One of which is the Victorian-era Clara from The Snowmen. Though Clara knows that it is not her, it may have sparked something of the information the Doctor told her in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS before he erased that timeline.

I really liked Ada, the blind and mutilated daughter of Mrs Gillyflower. As the imperfection in her mother's perfect world, Ada cannot help but save the Doctor, who at that point was an equally disfigured "monster". Caught crying when she finds him missing, her mother tells her she has no place in her "Eden" and asks her to stop "clawing and slobbering" at her feet. However, Ada still remains loyal to her. But, some encouragement from the Doctor, her monster who returned to her, she leads them to her mother. When she finds out Mrs Gillyflower had experimented with the crimson horror on her, she quickly turns against her. 

It is here we find out about the crimson horror. In an odd reveal of Mrs Gillyflower's partner in crime 'Mr Sweet', she  rips off part of her dress to show a red leech attached to her chest. Apparently, in return for a home(?), the leech, aka Mr Sweet, excreted the 'crimson horror' which Mrs Gillyflower planned to use to basically destroy humanity. 

Strax was definitely a highlight. The out-of-place soldier has not lost his comedic value, always muttering about far simpler but much more violent ways to solve any problem. Strax seemed to be the centre of the jokes in this episode. The best one by far being Thomas Thomas. Strax, lost on his way to Sweetville and about to shoot his (fourth) horse for not knowing the way, was interrupted by a young Thomas, who did knew exactly where to go. The hilarious instructions were as follows:

Thomas: "Sweetville, sir?"
Strax: "Do you know it?"
Thomas: "Turn around when possible. Then, at the end of the road, turn right."
Strax: "What.."
Thomas: "Bear left for a quarter of a mile and you have reached your destination."
*Thomas sits on the cart next to Strax.*
Strax: "Thank you. What is your name?"
Thomas: "Thomas, sir. Thomas Thomas."
I think I'm going to be laughing at that for days.

One of the best parts of the episode was the retelling of how the Doctor and Clara ended up in Sweetville. It was done so brilliantly. A flashback, in the form of an old film - sepia, grainy and a bit bumpy, broke up the episode in such an awesome way. It looked fantastic, adding to the feel of Victorian England and quickly let us know what had gone on beforehand.

Overall, I really liked this episode. Though I don't know how much it adds to the overall story arc, it was still a great mix of action and comedy. 

Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, April 21, 2013


If, like me, you were one of the seemingly few people who actually enjoyed Neil Cross' last episode, The Rings of Akhaten, then you were probably looking forward to his latest adventure, Hide. That said, if you had seen the trailers for the episode you probably were just as cool did it look?!

And this episode definitely lived up to the promise of the trailer - though maybe not in the way you  would expect. The Doctor and Clara travel to the 1970s to a investigate the long-time residence of a ghost in an old-manor, Caliburn House. The Witch in the Well, as she had become known, had appeared in the exact same position since the 17th Century, always crying out for help. The Doctor is assisted by ex-spy, Alec and an empathic psychic Emma, who have been trying to help the "lost soul". Things take an unexpected turn when the Doctor discovers that the Witch in the Well is not actually a ghost but a woman, Hila, from the future, trapped in a pocket universe and trying to escape before it collapses on itself.

Caliburn House was a perfect setting for the spooky story. Lots of shadows and creepy things in the dark created a very eerie atmosphere for the story. The horror aspects of the episode were definitely helped by the interesting camera work, like the jump cuts and unevenly paced shots. It gave the feeling that there was something out there. 

Which, of course, there was. 'The Crooked Man' as the credits named him, chased Hila through the pocket-universe and another alien who was stuck in our universe, lurking in the old manor. However, these 'monsters', though rather scary looking, were not as malevolent as they appeared because at the heart of this 'horror' episode was an old fashioned love story. 

There was Alec and Emma, the awkward pair who had feelings for each other but refused to let the other know. There was the weird, gnarled creatures who only wanted to find their partner. And of course, the Doctor and Clara, though maybe not lovers, but definitely connected in some way. 

The parallels between the pairs (though maybe not the aliens) offered an insight into the Doctor and Clara's burgeoning relationship. The Doctor and Alec shared a scene where Alec talks about his time in the war, the people he watched die and the effect it has had on him. It poses the question of what this has done to the Doctor as well. Simultaneously, Clara who is later described by Emma as a "normal" girl, is warned by the psychic that the Doctor has a "sliver of ice" in his heart so she should be wary. 

As always, the chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman works well in this episode. Their light-hearted portrayal of the friendship between the Doctor and Clara, however, was thrown into question when Clara realises just how frightening all of time and space can be. Why hasn't the Doctor realised by now that the end of Earth, billions of years into the future, isn't exactly what every human wants to see? Just like Rose in The End of the World, Clara is shaken to the core by the sight of the destroyed and devoid-of-life, Earth. However, as would be expected, the Doctor isn't bothered by it and this frightens Clara even further. As usual, the Doctor asserts his fascination with the human race and their significance by saying "you are the only mystery worth solving." This facet of the Doctor is certainly one of my favourites. I love his reactions to the peculiarity that is the human race. 

Overall this episode was a good mix of horror and sci-fi, with a little bit of romance thrown in too. I really enjoyed it and I think it may be the best on of the season. 

Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cold War

This week's episode brought back the Classic Who monster - the Ice Warriors. The last time the Doctor encountered these Martians was in The Monster of Peladon, with the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.

Cold War, written by Mark Gatiss, sees the Doctor and Clara accidentally travel to a sinking Russian submarine in the 80s. And on that ship is a newly discovered Ice Warrior - which the crew believe to be a mammoth frozen in a block of ice. Once it had escaped, nothing could stop its wrath. As usual, silly humans provoking the creature only makes it worse (when will we learn?!)

To be honest, I'm getting a little bored with the whole 'blockbuster' feel to these recent episodes. While I'm not denying that they are quite the cinematic piece, Doctor Who doesn't always have to be so big

That said, Cold War was a quiet a good episode, a bit of a step up from last week (though I still enjoyed it - Matt Smith does the best monologues!) A psychotic monster on the loose in a submarine with access to enough nukes to destroy not only Earth but a good portion of the universe, made for a suspenseful, exciting story.

The Grand Marshall Skaldac's (Skaldak?) escape from his armour and took to scampering around the ceiling, gave the episode a distinctively Alien feel. Seriously, the pale green fingers killing people from above was very much reminiscent of the Ridley Scott classic. 

Those fake rubbery fingers were rather odd though. The big reveal of the Ice Warrior's face at the end of the episode left me slightly confused.  I had expected something that looked a lot more like the Slitheen or even the Abzorbaloff. The two just didn't seem to match.

I think the Martian's madness was very much warranted. You would have lost it a bit too, if you had just discovered that you'd been frozen for 5,000 years. All your family are dead: "Now my daughter will be dussssssst" and you can't even be certain that you'll be rescued from this strange, foreign landscape by your people who may also all be dead.

However, his hesitation in killing the scientist fellow (I think it was Grisenko) and ultimately his hesitation in firing the missiles showed that he was not, in fact, a monster. Though he was definitely a threat, it's always nice to see aliens leaving almost peacefully.

The episode was also witty and funny - something I think the last two episodes were kind of lacking. Grisenko and Clara were hilarious:

Grisenko: “Tell me what happens.”
Clara: “I can’t.”
Grisenko: “Well I need to know!”
Clara: “I’m not allowed!”
Grisenko: “No, please!”
Clara: “I can’t!”
Grisenko: “Ultravox – do they split up?”

We also saw Clara learning more about the TARDIS, its translation matrix and its newly-fixed escape mechanism. However, I did see someone question how the translation matrix still magically worked with the TARDIS being somewhere at the South Pole...

Still immensely enjoying Clara as the companion. It was great seeing her question this crazy travelling with the Doctor but hopefully she'll be getting her own key soon because she can't be a full-time companion without one!


Monday, April 8, 2013

The Rings of Akhaten

I usually find Doctor Who to be of a hit or miss show. There have been some amazing episodes and some that are less than great. (I'm the biggest Doctor Who fan though, so I'll try and find a redeeming quality for every episode)

This week's episode, The Rings of Akhaten, fell somewhere in between.

The Doctor and his new companion Clara embark on the traditional second trip to somewhere vastly different to modern day London.

He takes her "somewhere awesome", that is, to see the Rings of Akhaten, which some believe to be the beginning of all life in the universe.

The planet had a Star Wars-esque vibe and we finally got to see new alien creatures (including one whose behaviour could only be described as dog-like)

The Rings of Akhaten was based around the importance of memories. Basically, the population of Akhaten has (as they have throughout their entire history) appointed a child who has to appease their "God" by singing or risk having their souls taken - souls, which the Doctor says, are made up of stories.

When Merry, the young child, errs in her singing and awakes the God, the Doctor steps in to save her because she is the only Merry and is just as important as everyone else. This is one of my favourite things about the Doctor and something that has always been consistent through the show. Modern Doctor Who anyway.

By far the best bit of the episode was the Doctor's monologue to the god. Damn, Matt Smith, that was some quality acting. Some people think that the whole "travelling alone for a thousand years" spiel has been overdone lately but I love it. I love knowing that beneath the childish exterior, the Doctor is a weary old man who has seen so much and is so alone. He has the world on his shoulders and so many people don't even realise.

Even with all this travelling, the Doctor's memories weren't enough to feed and ultimately kill their nebulous sun-god creature (I'm still not entirely sure what it was) It was the infinite possibilities that Clara's leaf represented that ultimately destroyed it.

And yay for character development! Clara isn't just some plot-driver, "the impossible girl" that the Doctor is obsessed with finding out about any more. We get to see her past in a somewhat cheesy (and a little bit creepy - thanks Doctor) opening scene. Her parents meet on a windy autumn day and if it weren't for that exact leaf existing, they wouldn't have met. Then we are told (because the Doctor has been basically stalking her) that her mum died when she was young - in March of 2005 as well, right around the time Nine was meeting Rose - and she has since postponed her dream of travelling to look after the Maitland children.

In The Rings of Akhaten, Clara proves herself to be companion worthy: adventurous, willing to be challenge and ready to leave her old life (at least for a while)

When she and the Doctor need a means of transport across the planet, she offers her mother's ring in exchange. She then sacrifices the "most important leaf in the world" to save Merry and the rest of the planet. Her willingness to do so shows how she wants to move and also how selfless she is (which I think was pretty obvious when she did not travel and instead babysat children who also lost their mother)

Again on the theme of the importance of memories, I found the 'currency' of Akhaten to be very interesting. The more sentimental value a person gives an object, the more it is worth in the market. It just emphasises how significant it is that Clara gave up her mother's ring for their ride.

Overall, I think the episode was better than The Bells of St John but maybe that's just because of the Doctor and Clara's monologues but that it could have been better throughout 7.5/10

Monday, April 1, 2013

50th Anniversary Shenanigans!

With the 50th anniversary special to begin filming next week, some more updates have been released!

bbcdoctorwho tweeted these pictures earlier today:

Matt Smith called the special "hilarious" and "epic", while paying homage to previous episodes and looking forward at the same time.

The special is set to air on November 23 in 3D. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

David and Billie Set To Return

Yes, you read that correctly. David Tennant and Billie Piper have been confirmed for the 50th anniversary special *cue fangirl squealing*

John Hurt (Ollivander - Harry Potter, Kilgharrah - Merlin) is also set to make an appearance.

However, with this news also comes the sad fact that John Barrowman will not be reprising his role as Captain Jack Harkness for the special.

Who do you want to return? Let me know!

The Bells of St John

There's something in the Wi-Fi...

The Bells of St John introduces a new threat. Something harvesting souls and human minds through the Wi-Fi, leaving them as good as dead. Harvesting them, I might add, in a way that was eerily similar to Season 2's The Idiot's Lantern. Actually, its not just the method of harvesting that is the same, it is the whole idea: new-ish technology which everyone uses (and maybe even addicted to) being used to collect human souls to feed a power-hungry alien (which also uses that technology to communicate - it has no corporeal form) and questions our reliance on technology.

Though the basis of the story may be the same, The Bells of St John offered something new. We get to meet the version of Clara who will be travelling with the Doctor for the rest of the series. Who is this mysterious Clara, how is she alive and why has the Doctor met her before?

Possibly related to this is The Great Intelligence, who was the villain in The Snowmen and the mastermind behind the Wi-Fi invasion. I guess we'll see what becomes of that because its story is far from over.

The Spoonheads were the physical threats in this episodes but they left much to be desired. They were a little underwhelming, and while they suited their role, they just weren't scary enough.

Then there was the clear reference to one Miss Amelia Pond (Williams):

It just so happened to be a book Clara has read. And don't those characters look awfully familiar. (As someone who loved the Ponds, I am so glad this was in there. I still miss them)

The Doctor-Clara dynamic works quite well, as does Matt's and Jenna-Louise's chemistry. Though I hope it just remains casual flirting. There have been enough love stories for the Doctor...I'd like to see a more Doctor and Donna friendship happen. One question though, did Clara keep her newly acquired computer knowledge? Because we know how that will turn out..

Overall, the episode was a good mix of action and comedy with Moffat leaving just enough 'quiet' time before launching into the aeroplane and motorbike scenes. Though it didn't live up to the hype, I still think it worked well by posing enough questions to keep us guessing and wanting to come back for more. I give it a 7/10.

Also, if you are in Australia and are not going to watch it online, you can see it on ABC at 7:30 tonight!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Doctor Who Royal Mail Stamps

As part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, Royal Mail has issued a number of stamps featuring each of the 11 Doctors, the TARDIS and some of his notable foes: Daleks, the Weeping Angels, Cybermen and the Ood.

If you're lucky enough to live in the UK, you can purchase these 1st Class stamps at any (well, almost) Post Office. If you're from someone else, you can order them online here

Doctor Who Season 7.5

The second half of Doctor Who season 7 starts in 5 days. FIVE DAYS! You are officially allowed to get really excited.

So if you are part of Hermit's United and have only decided to join the real world, here are the promo pics for the next four episodes:

Episode 6: The Bells of Saint John.
Something is getting people through their Wi-Fi. As if Moffat wasn't evil enough...

There is also the prequel to the episode, which you can see here:

Episode 7: The Rings of Akhaten
The Doctor and Clara travel to what Moffat describes as an "epic, overwhelming, boiling, red-orange planet." 

Episode 8: Cold War
The long-awaited return of the Ice-Warriors is finally happening. Thanks Mark Gatiss 

Episode 9: Hide
A classic, spooky ghost story.

Hopefully they live up to the blockbuster-style that Moffat seems to be going for.