Thursday, December 29, 2016

TV Review: Doctor Who- Terror of the Zygons (Se13St01)

tom baker zygons
More than thirty years ago I was lucky enough to have the remaining (at the time) episodes of the Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee and Tom Baker years of Doctor Who broadcast every week in order on Saturday or Sunday nights.

While others may have had only the Target novelization to help them imagine the first appearance of the Daleks or the Master, I was lucky enough to see them on the small screen at least once (mainly if I could not beg my parents for a VHS tape to record the ones I was missing on).

Through this I learned an appreciation for the past Doctors the way many fans in the eighties could not, but although I would constantly read about how scary the Daleks or Ice Warriors were in their heyday in Doctor Who Magazine or books like A Celebration, I thought they looked rather tame, although I loved them all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

TV Review: Doctor Who- The Reign of Terror (Se03St05)

Throughout this journey through the first season of Doctor Who we have been treated to the brilliance of the show and it's initial concepts.

We marveled at the rise of the Daleks, have been brought to some of the most awe inspiring locations in Human history and survived the perils of totally alien environments.

However a journey is judged just as much by its ending point as it's start, so The Reign of Terror is of no less importance to the legacy left behind by the first season then such classics as Marco Polo or The Daleks.

TV Review: Doctor Who- The Space Museum (Se02St06)

Doctor Who has always been known for it's ability to change from adventure to adventure in terms of tone and subject matter. Being able to do a western one moment and a space opera the next is surely one of the reasons we are now counting down to the programme's 50th anniversary.

The Space Museum is a good example of the shows ability to adapt. The episode plays out like a good Twilight Zone installment, bending reality in such a way that we are forced to look at the universe askew for awhile.

Oddly enough, this story was supposed to be more of a comedy then it turned out to be in the end, due to incoming script editor Dennis Spooner heavily rewriting Glyn Jones scripts and removing most of the more comedic content.

TV Review: Sarah Jane Adventures- Warriors of Kudlak (S01E03)

The Sarah Jane Adventures have so far had some nice moments, even if they seemed brief and fleeting, and Warriors of Kudlak continues that trend for me.

Its only big failing (remembering it’s a 21st century children’s show) is that it sort of makes the main character, Sarah Jane Smith, into someone that seems a little at-odds from the companion we once knew. It is sadly, a product of its own idea.

The Sarah Jane Adventures were borne of the Doctor Who episode School Reunion, the idea being to make Sarah Jane into the sort of adventurer/detective that might investigate suspicious schools or kidnapping video games of laser tag.

TV Review: Doctor Who- Vampires of Venice (S05E06)

Monsters and Doctor Who are inseparable.

They rely on each other for existence both in the real life of the television series, where the monsters are certainly one of the reasons viewers tune in every week, and in the fiction itself, where a Doctor who did not meet and battle monsters would hardly seem like the Doctor at all.

Traditional rules for Doctor Who have monsters that are great and wonderful but somewhat see through and a bit repetitive.

They all want to take over the earth, they all want ultimate power and they all want more then they rightly deserve, and only the Doctor can stop them.

TV Review: Doctor Who-Age Of Steel (S02E06)

Throughout the years Doctor Who has had the distinction of bringing us on a wide verity of adventures. We’ve seen comedy, even slapstick humor, and even various send ups of the show itself.

This week we were exposed to the show bringing out an old and familiar psychological terror that lies somewhere in us all.

TV Review: Doctor Who- The Girl in the Fireplace (S02E04)

This week’s episode was a mixed bag, with a few genuine scares (I actually jumped as the Doctor found the Clockwork Robot under Madame Pompadour’s bed) and more of the same nitpicking that has made my series two viewing experience a bit less enjoyable.

I had expected more from Steven Moffat, writer of last years The Empty Child, and although you could see the great original ideas in the script itself – such as the human parts in the spaceship, the menacing Clockwork Robots, the great parting shot showing the ship being named “SSS de Madame Pompadour” – I still felt that the script, like most of series two so far was put at a breakneck pace and speed that makes me wonder if the cat nurses from New Earth took over the production offices of Doctor Who during the filming of that episode.

TV Review: Doctor Who- School Reunion (S02E03)

With School Reunion heralding the return of K9 and Sarah Jane Smith, I’m reluctant to put a bad light on it. These were my childhood heroes, and instead I’ll begin with the bright spots that I love in the furious pace of the script.

Anthony Stewart Head was perfect in his role of Mr. Finch and his chips were just as salty as they needed to be. If there was any fan rumor that I wish I could bring true, it is the Mr. Head was playing the prominent character of the Master, instead of a possibly one and done villain.

Doctor Who: Ian Chesterton- Science Experiment

Cliches are funny things, they can be both annoying and undetectable, depending on how they are handled, and in some cases, they can be necessary as well. When Doctor Who was started in the early sixties, it became apparent that a couple cliches were needed for the show’s weekly serial adventure concept to work.

The Doctor was set to be not only the show's namesake and star but also the brains of the operation, the one who would be coming up with the solutions to all the sticky situations the crew of the Tardis would be getting into.

They also had Barbara and Susan, one a history teacher who would be both a fount of knowledge in the historical episodes and along with Susan would find herself in the (cliche) typical trouble female leads found themselves at the time, although Susan did break the mold of the usual teenage girl in certain aspects, being an alien who had been traveling alongside her grandfather the Doctor for a long time.

TV Review: Merlin- A Servant of Two Masters (S04E06)

The fourth series of Merlin is turning out to be a grand improvement over the first three series of Merlin because of how well things are moving forward during the series and how much the characters are growing at each turn. From Uther's demise at the hands of Morgana despite Merlin's best intentions, starting the reign of King Arthur to Morgana finding out that the mysterious Emrys will be her greatest rival.

Interestingly enough Merlin is made the main baddie by way of Morgana's magic and it again puts a nice spin on the established order of the series. It also leads to Arthur showing just how much Merlin really means to him, despite the fact that Arthur thinks he spends most of his time in Camelot's tavern.

TV Review: Merlin- The Darkest Hour Part 2 (S04E02)

Honor is a thing that is very prominent in Arthurian legends but something that is lacking in our modern society if it ever existed at all. The Darkest Hour's conclusion was a tale all about honor and sacrifice and also the other side of the coin, where greed and selfishness rule.

When we last saw Merlin he seemed as good as dead but knew he would be all right in the end, the name of the show is his after all and we could all quickly imagine how a Camelot without it's dynamic duo of Arthur and Merlin would fall. However that did not mean that the rest of the outcome was so transparent.

Except it was...

But it also wasn't...

TV Review: Merlin- The Darkest Hour Part One (S04E01)

One problem I find in modern television is the inability for a programme to change and grow, to allow the worlds created and the people and creatures who populate it to act like they are actual living beings and change. For us, change is inevitable, a part of life that is coming no matter what whether it be significant change caused by life's many twists and turns or the simple undeniable and unstoppable change of our body's yielding to the passing of time.

Television of course can sometimes forget that change can be used to freshen up what has otherwise become a dull and predictable cycle of the same old character in the same old setting doing a variation of the same old plot. It is for sure why The Simpsons have become less stellar as the years pass, as Bart and Lisa never age and nothing shifts. Compare this to what I consider to be the ultimate 'mover Doctor Who, the design of which allows for a completely different setting each and every time as well as a new face on the title characters if need be.

Film Review: Siren (2010)

Modern horror films and thrillers have always lacked something in my eyes, they are stale copies of what was for me the golden era of the two genres, from the late sixties through most of the eighties.

Most of the gore filled plot less drivel that is churned out today doesn't hold a candle to such better produced models such as a majority of the Hammer Horror catalog or such groundbreaking American works such as The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror.

There also is something missing in the thriller department since the age of Hitchcock, with the modern counterparts to such classics as Rear Window and The Birds lacking the tone and feel that made them so easy to immerse yourself in their fictional worlds as well as making them instant classics.

Siren takes a step back that is also quite a step forward in this regard, it is a film that although it dabbles in the modern horror cinema's blood and sex driven scenes it does so with a regard for the fact that it is putting a very simple story to the cameras as well as harking back to the days when a good horrific thriller was more about what was implied then what was seen.

TV Review: Misfits-Vegas Baby!

Departures are usually met with a sense of apprehension, whether that apprehension is for something positive or negative in nature.

This time is no exception as we say goodbye to Nathan (Robert Sheehan), the member of the Misfits gang that if not the most popular, was surely the rudest and most hilarious of the ASBO sentenced group that gained superpowers along with so many others in that freak storm.

As the title Vegas Baby implies we find Nathan in the city of bright lights and high stakes gambling with a new power that he traded immortality in for, which is being able to perform magic like feats just by thinking about it. It seems that after he was free of his ASBO he had the usual thoughts any new father and recent family man would have.


TV Review: Misfits Series Two

First impressions have become almost a mythical thing in our society, they are the untainted instinctual markers that can steer us away from people and things that are really not right for us. But, however tidy it may seem to just let your initial feelings dominate how you approach things, further observation and an open mind may lead to better results.

And possibly a humbling lesson or two along the way as well.

TV Review: The Fades Episode One

The Fades are coming...the Fades are coming...the Fades are here.

Horrific drama is something that has to be done just right, like an intricate dish at a five star restaurant or a abstract painting. The right elements and ingredients have to be mixed and balanced perfectly for it succeed on all levels, for we need to be able to feel not only the terror of the otherworldly creations haunting our story but also our protagonists plight as he moves into the realms of the unknown.

TV Review: Eternal Law Episode One

Tales of fiction or parables that pit good VS evil are a dime a dozen they are some of the easiest to produce due to the moral quandary we could possibly find ourselves in on a daily basis. They tie themselves into the basic fabric of our existence as well as our faith and religious beliefs.

Which is where the modern medium of television (Which some might argue is the faith of some people) has taken the idea to new heights.

Really high heights.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

TV Review: Outcasts

Well I feel rather empty.

I just wasted eight hours of my life to get left on a cliffhanger that most likely I will never be able to see resolved or have revealed as the BBC science fiction show Outcasts was canceled not very long after it's eighth and final installment was shown in the horrid Sunday slot it was relegated to after a poor start ratings wise on BBC One.
I now know the feeling of being left at the altar.

But was it justified? Was this show, which seemed to brim with promise as an original science fiction series not involving little blue boxes or dinosaurs (Not that I dislike little blue boxes or the mad men that ride within them just so you know.), a failure or a victim of it's own themes of struggle and new  experiences?

TV Review: Dirk Gently Series Pilot

There is always a danger when adapting a television show or film from another authors work, especially from the more detailed and in depth pages of a book. There is a real peril in trying to capture the essence and feel of the source material and success is not always a given.
For every well done adaption there are countless utter failures and there is even more risk when you are trying to recreate something from a popular writer who has a great number of critical followers.

Dirk Gently's debut did not fall into any of these pitfalls, with Howard Overman doing a simply remarkable job of conveying an atmosphere worthy of Douglas Adams and making a grand impression that somewhere, someplace, Douglas is smiling in amusement, that is if they get BBC Four in the afterlife.

TV Review: Dirk Gently Episode Two

Computers are surely one of man's most important discoveries.

Through computers people are able to communicate with people from all around the world, start businesses, do taxes and most important, play solitaire. But often in speculative fiction thought have been given as to what the next step might be for these machines that are now integrating themselves into every waking moment of our lives.

One of the biggest achievements would be a computer that has intelligence and is able to learn and adapt to it's surroundings. That way rather than a computer becoming a cold machine that interrupts data it would become an instrument capable of so much more.

It is this aspect of technology that the latest adventure of Dirk Gently (Stephen Mangan and Richard Macduff (Darren Boyd) focuses on, as Dirk returns to his Cambridge roots to help the one person who he felt believed in him, Professor Jericho (Bill Patterson) who hires Dirk on as a security expert.

TV Review: Dirk Gently Episode One

A detective who can pull answers out of thin air from seemingly random observations...a partner who assists the great detective and asks the relevant questions that keep the viewer informed of the plot...

What did you say?

No, Sherlock has not come back earlier than expected, this is the return of Dirk Gently!
This is the creation of Douglas Adams, not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And it is written by the best genre writer this side of Steven Moffat, namely one Howard Overman, who created the Misfits and is responsible for some of the best Merlin episodes as well.

But although comparing Dirk Gently to Sherlock is apples and oranges in so many ways, it really cannot be avoided as although Dirk is the anti-Holmes, a world premise is the same, just imagine Sherlock in dire need of funds and with a bit funnier hair.

Book Review: A Clockwork Orange

Enduring the effects of time is something that everything in the world must endure. As an object or even an idea gets older, it's relevance lessens as it falls ever backward into the deep tunnel that is time.
But at times, an artistic endeavor or idea can be so on target and tuned in to what we are as a society that it can seem timeless in both its effect and it's message.

Anthony Burgess' 1962 novella A Clockwork Orange is an example of such a piece. It's tone and situations having real impact and seemingly foreknowledge on the culture arising around us in modern times. The Book's subject matter of youths bent on a downward destructive path filled with sex and violence seems, although a bit extreme, a perfect comparison for what we see every day in the news, a youth culture quickly spinning into ignorance and stubborn hatred towards others.

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A Rough Guide to Retro Video Game Collecting

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