Sunday, 21 May 2017

Season 10 - My Doctor Who reviews


The more I think back over it, the more I enjoyed last night's Doctor Who, The Pilot. No spoilers here (that weren't in the trailer or the clips already shown) I hope, but was there a callback to every single other Doctor?

William Hartnell - Susan's photo, the sign from the Mary Celeste
Patrick Troughton - his sonic screwdriver on the desk
Jon Pertwee - his sonic screwdriver used by Nardole
Tom Baker - the Movellans, Professor Chronotis in Shada
Peter Davison, Colin Baker or Paul McGann - I need to look again to find these three
Sylvester McCoy - the Dalek ship landing footprints & the pool of oil
John Hurt - the oh-so-inaccessible Time War
Christopher Eccleston - this episode having almost the same plot as Rose
David Tennant - the mind wipe he did on Donna, School Reunion, Human Nature, Waters Of Mars
Matt Smith - River Song's photo, Curse Of The Black Spot water lady
Peter Capaldi - the Clara theme




Doctor Who spoilers from last night (so don't read if you've not watched it yet)
(To the tune of Melting Pot by Blue Mink)
Take a pinch of Gridlock
And the Empty Child's Nanobots
Blink & The End Of The World
And a little bitty of The Happiness Patrol
What you get is an episode called Smile.
...okay, that's all I've got for the Blue Mink song. But I enjoyed that (8/10). They're studiously avoiding the fanboy-heavy audience-scaring indulgence of recent series, and giving us Rose in The End Of The World. I think it worked. Very much one where I want to hear what the new 8 year old viewers thought. I'm hoping they liked it.
If I had any criticism, it was too exposition-heavy, and seemed to explain many things twice, and was a bit slow at times. But that's me being over-critical.
Also the trailer! Gave away how many plot twists? Showed the skeletons in the garden and included the "fertiliser" line. That's not a trailer, that is the definition of a spoiler.
I liked the attempt to turn "Smile" into the new "Don't Blink", but I don't think it'll catch on.
And I liked the bit where Bill opens up a book and its starts playing the opening titles to Big Bang Theory.
(Also did we get a hint that Bill might be meeting Chris Chibnall's Nefertiti sometime in the future? Being the only person who likes Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, I think that would be nice).


It's quite possible that watching it at 10.30 at night while drinking a couple of pints of beer in a hotel room having just done a great gig makes you better disposed to an episode of Doctor Who, but I though that was cracking. Gave it 9/10.

"So was Jesus". Oh yes, they went there.

The concentration on the central characters, their humanity, their empathy, their alien-ness, was really convincing, and made the whole thing all about something so much more important than the Maguffin, the big fish under the Thames. If that was all Sarah Dollard, and I'd like to think it was, then I'd like to see more of what she writes (and I hope some more of it is Doctor Who).

Who else was expecting the boss in the big house to turn out to be The Master (and not just Nathan Barley?). I was thinking "so that will explain why Missy wears period costume, cos she regenerates in Victorian London". Really? Just me?

Great comedy - The Doctor punching a racist is what this show should be more about more often - and a really human level story. Bill was great, The Doctor was great, the child actors were... did I mention Bill was great?

Echoes of all the right old stories in all the right ways. Bits of Empty Child, bits of The Next Doctor, bits of The Unquiet Dead, bits of Deep Breath, bits of Shakespeare Code (actual lines from The Shakespeare Code if I'm not mistaken), but all to a greater good.

I'll probably watch it in daylight sober and think it's cack, but right now it's the best of the series so far.


I think 'corny' is the word we're all groping for. Every haunted house trope, done not that originally, with lots of running down corridors, and a creepy villain delivering some of the hokiest dialogue ever.

And did the maguffin actually make sense? The woman's son discovers some alien insects that preserve his mother but somehow eat everyone else, suck them into the wood of the house, reshape the wood of the house, creak occasionally - for no reason other than to be like a bad trope from an unimaginative horror movie - and this keeps the woman alive, but she stays in bed all the time?



And meanwhile the boy grows up, but the house is frozen in time, and he brings in a new set of victims, but only every 20 years? What's he doing the rest of the time?

And our recent victims can be instantly restored to life by the woodworm?
And this was written by the guy who wrote Doctor Foster??

The more I think about it the more I wish I'd given it a lower score.


(I seem not have written a review of Oxygen, which is surprising. Obviously couldn't find fault. Which brings us to Extremis)

Last night's Doctor Who (spoiler-filled mini-review, look away now).
Very good. It had a few common Moffat tropes:
- You think Person A is the subject of the execution/funeral/etc, it turns out to be Person B (he did this way back in Press Gang)
- It's all been a dream/VR/fake person (plastic Amy, plastic Rory, Silence In The Library, all that Zygon stuff)
- Over-labouring the lesbian bits. "No need to feel guilty"? Really?
- Dialogue is unrealistic because it's the set up to a gag. "No need to feel guilty"? I see, we geddit. Still, really?
- Some bad poetry. If those lines quoted from River Song's diary are supposed to mean anything, they're very contrived.
I'll confess I was a little confused by just how long we've been in the hologram version of reality. Since the start of this series? This episode? 1963?
And when Nardole says "what do those look like to you?" and Bill says "projectors". They couldn't look less like projectors could they?
I'm also tempted to do some more spoilery guessing. After all, those decayed monks' mouths are very static, in a very similar way to the Mondas Cybermen's mouths. They couldn't be, could they?
But it had some good zapping between flashbacks, and a good set up for whatever comes next so it got 9/10 from me.
Last night's Doctor Who (spoiler-filled mini-review, look away now).
Very good. It had a few common Moffat tropes:
- You think Person A is the subject of the execution/funeral/etc, it turns out to be Person B (he did this way back in Press Gang)
- It's all been a dream/VR/fake person (plastic Amy, plastic Rory, Silence In The Library, all that Zygon stuff)
- Over-labouring the lesbian bits. "No need to feel guilty"? Really?
- Dialogue is unrealistic because it's the set up to a gag. "No need to feel guilty"? I see, we geddit. Still, really?
- Some bad poetry. If those lines quoted from River Song's diary are supposed to mean anything, they're very contrived.
I'll confess I was a little confused by just how long we've been in the hologram version of reality. Since the start of this series? This episode? 1963?
And when Nardole says "what do those look like to you?" and Bill says "projectors". They couldn't look less like projectors could they?
I'm also tempted to do some more spoilery guessing. After all, those decayed monks' mouths are very static, in a very similar way to the Mondas Cybermen's mouths. They couldn't be, could they?
But it had some good zapping between flashbacks, and a good set up for whatever comes next so it got 9/10 from me.
Last night's Doctor Who (spoiler-filled mini-review, look away now).
Very good. It had a few common Moffat tropes:
- You think Person A is the subject of the execution/funeral/etc, it turns out to be Person B (he did this way back in Press Gang)
- It's all been a dream/VR/fake person (plastic Amy, plastic Rory, Silence In The Library, all that Zygon stuff)
- Over-labouring the lesbian bits. "No need to feel guilty"? Really?
- Dialogue is unrealistic because it's the set up to a gag. "No need to feel guilty"? I see, we geddit. Still, really?
- Some bad poetry. If those lines quoted from River Song's diary are supposed to mean anything, they're very contrived.
I'll confess I was a little confused by just how long we've been in the hologram version of reality. Since the start of this series? This episode? 1963?
And when Nardole says "what do those look like to you?" and Bill says "projectors". They couldn't look less like projectors could they?
I'm also tempted to do some more spoilery guessing. After all, those decayed monks' mouths are very static, in a very similar way to the Mondas Cybermen's mouths. They couldn't be, could they?
But it had some good zapping between flashbacks, and a good set up for whatever comes next so it got 9/10 from me.

The BBC sci-fi series is removing dialogue from a scene out of respect for victims of the terrorist attack
RADIOTIMES.COM

It's not surprising that a few lines about terrorism have had to be edited out of tomorrow's Doctor Who. I was reminded of the plot of Extremis just now, reading a dumb thing someone had said on the TV news, about how "if they had something to live for why would they have been a bomber?". This is why we atheists struggle with religion, and why we sometimes need fantasy writing to explain it to us. There are people in the real world who have, in effect, "read The Veritas" and believe, as a catholic friend used to phrase it, that this material world is just a "five minute life". The real life is the one that waits in heaven. If you believe that, and if you also believe that dying in a just cause benefits you on the other side, then would any true believer have any difficulty being a suicide bomber? Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori*, and all that.

Pyramid At The End Of Time

That was brilliant, 9/10.

I'm actually enjoying an ongoing story arc. It's not too contrived, it's gripping and keeps you wondering what's going to happen next.
It's not up itself with story-telling show-offness (and the bits it did were excellent). Has any show ever done that Previously / Now / Previously / Now playing with the "Previously" format before?
It was reminiscent of old Who, especially Inferno, without directly referencing it, and even of 60s Who in its cliffhanger/serial feel.

Moffat and team have spent a few weeks building up characters we like, believe in and care about - in a way we might not have seen since Rose & Donna - and now we're embarking on a proper box-set serial drama. I do hope they don't drop the ball now, cos this has been the best unbroken run of a Doctor Who series since, quite possibly, Christopher Eccleston's series 1 in 2005.

Empress Of Mars

Though I gave the show 8/10, I'd have to say anticlimactic is the word, for two weeks in a row.

Is Alpha Centauri supposed to mean anything to anyone? Obviously I vaguely recognise him or her, because I'm over 50 years old and watched Doctor Who as a child, but it would be meaningless to 99.9% of viewers, so a pretty rubbish punchline.

And how furniture-chewingly corny was the Empress? Most cliched dialogue from a villain that I can remember since Trigger as Cybus, or her from W1A as the Racnoss.

Fun though, I bet the kids liked it.

World Enough & Time


How spoilered?


That must be the most spoilered episode of anything I've ever seen.


If all you have to offer is surprise, and the system won't let you do surprise, your game is over. Go write Dracula or something.
When the two big surprises you're waiting for are "It's John Simm as the Master" and "it's the old-fashioned Cybermen from the olden days that no-one remembers", and those were the only two things you knew were going to be in this series before it started, there's precious little point trying to build up any tension over your reveal.


This has always been the problem with Moffat stories. He loves a puzzle that you have to solve. Then he loves to go "ta-daa", and he wants you to go "well I never saw that coming". It's 2017. You have a marketing department full of Millennials who don't get the idea of waiting, they don't understand deferred gratification.


They don't get "spoiler"!


(I enjoyed it, and it even took me a couple of minutes to realise it was John Simm. Though I instantly realised Bill was going to be made into a Cyberman. Not cos I'm old enough to have seen it happen to Rose Tyler's Mum 10 years ago. I'm young enough to remember it happening to Danny Pink two years ago! If I was an 11 year old kid I might be well freaked out by it. Though I'd be left wondering why the Cybermen don't look like proper Cybermen, obviously.)




2017 TOUR
May 12 - Croydon Spread Eagle
May 13 (4.30pm) & May 14 (5.30pm) Komedia Brighton
May 19 - Carriageworks Leeds
May 26 - Aberdeen May Fest
June 2 - Eden Ct Inverness
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 20 - Grassington Festival, Yorks
June 23 - Hertford Comedy Festival
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe
August 15 - 17 Camden Fringe


Comic Art Masterclasses coming up in 2017:

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.

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