Thursday, August 31, 2017

Audio Review: Doctor Who- Legend of the Cybermen

sixth doctor 6th jami zoe land of fiction mind robber

 It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction and perhaps it is, but if we were weighing the weirdness factor of settings in Doctor Who, none would be stranger than the Land of Fiction, first introduced in the classic Patrick Troughton episode The Mind Robber in the television series sixth season. The Big Finish audio Legend of the Cybermen returns the Sixth Doctor and Jamie to the strange realm where they not only get reunited with an old friend in Zoe Harriet but also an old enemy in the Cybermen, who ended up in the Land of Fiction and are converting fictional characters to further the Cyber race.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A History Of Basketball Video Games (Part One)

Basketball is a purely American creation, being the one major sport to have its origins completely in the United States rather than being an altered version of a popular sport elsewhere in the world, such as baseball, which is derived from Cricket.

A simple game with simple rules but also a team game, which made it ample video game fodder from the earliest days of gaming, from the Atari 2600 to our modern high definition consoles.

Here we take a look back at the history of basketball video games over the years up to the end of the eight-bit era.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Film Review: Thunderball

007 woman bikini beach girl sean connery
Thunderball is everything one would expect from classic James Bond as there are enough beautiful women, gadgets, and action for everyone. However, the film as it stands today is a bit drawn out and lacks the intensity of some other Bond films, such as Goldfinger or Dr. No.

While these points are certainly the heart and soul of any classic James Bond adventure there are holes in this particular boat which sometimes make it feel a but dead in the water.

The film was one of Sean Connery's favorite Bond films to work on as well as being a critical success, with Thunderball easily overtaking the worldwide cinema totals of the first two James Bond films.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Film Review: Casino Royale (2006)

daniel craig casino royale 2006
“Is America ready for a British James Bond?”

So spoke the wise and learned critic, Homer Simpson, at about the time that Daniel Craig was announced as the actor to replace Pierce Brosnan as Bond. Ironic post modern humor aside, this quote demonstrates the impact that Craig had on Bond fans when he donned the iconic tuxedo. Brosnan had been a popular choice for the role* and so the newcomer, then a relative unknown with naught but a few Guy Ritchie films under his belt, had a lot to live up to.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Review: Baker Street Beat

sherlock holmes books baker street
Baker Street Beat is an entertaining collection of short essays, stories and screenplays by Dan Andriacco, a self confessed Sherlock Holmes aficionado (he admits as much in his introduction so it hardly takes a Sherlockian level of genius to work this out) and covering the author’s own experiences and knowledge of the world of Holmes.

When faced with the term ‘essay’ one is put instantly in dread of dry, academic tracts with no inherent entertainment. 

However, in this case the fear is unfounded. 

Book Review: Watson's Afghan Adventure

One of the enduring mysteries of the Sherlock Holmes canon is how Dr. Watson came to become injured. Anyone who reads the original tales is aware that he was an army Doctor, that he served in Afghanistan* and that he took bullets from a jezail to the leg and shoulder. 

The specifics of his service are not covered in any more detail than that, mainly because Watson’s narrative is focussed on the current exploits of Holmes rather than his own past.

The concept behind this book was therefore intriguing to me as, in whatever medium Holmes is seen, I have always had a soft spot for good old Doctor Watson and always wondered about the story behind his wounds. This book delivers that tale as Watson, following a mysterious visit from an old army buddy, is called upon to relate it to Holmes in order to explain some discrepancies noted in the previous telling. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Renegades: Reqium Review

A while back there was a crowdfund call for money to create a new Star Trek series. Called Star Trek: Renegades it had a number of big, familiar names associated with it and plans to make a darker, grittier version of Trek than previously seen.

Unfortunately, there were issues with IP. Paramount were not keen on allowing the producers to use the name Star Trek. This was probably because they were already developing Star Trek: Discovery which looks set to involve its own gritty reinvention. The project, therefore, mutated, removing many of the familiar concepts and dropping the Star Trek from the title. Renamed Renegades the first two episodes, which combine to form the pilot 'Reqium', have now been completed and the first part released to backers.

As a backer of this project, I got access to the first episode on February 2nd, though did not have a chance to watch it until recently due to issues with building work in the house. What follows is my review.

The plot revolves around a crew of 'deniable assets' working for an interplanetary organization called the Confederation. They report to an elderly Admiral (played by Walter Koenig) who is working against a hidden cabal within the Confederation and realizes he cannot trust anyone within his own command structure. So, he calls on a mercenary crew of criminals led by Lexxa Singh to perform missions.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Doctor Who- Peter Capaldi to Leave Series Xmas 2017

Today on BBC Radio 2 actor Peter Capaldi revealed that the start date for the eleventh series of Doctor Who would begin on April 15th of this year.

Sadly, he also revealed that this series will be his last full run and he will leave the Tardis in the 2017 Christmas Special, alongside writer/showrunner Steven Moffat.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

TV Review: Doctor Who: Time-Flight

It is often said that the road less traveled in any journey might be the hardest, the most diverse and at times perhaps a bit more fun as well.

 Sometimes this can prove to be true in our entertainment choices as too, as a band in the music biz who take a risk on a new musical direction may be loved or hated for such a choice or an actor might be a hit in a drama after years of doing comedy.

It is a fact then of sorts that the art of  daring to be different makes an impact, be it positive or negative...

Doctor Who is no stranger to the road less traveled, at it's very core the concept of the Tardis and the nature of the Doctor's biological attributes sets it apart from most other shows in the genre of science fiction.

Star Trek: Discovery- James Frain Cast as Sarek

This week it was announced that British actor James Frain was cast to play the role of the Vulcan Sarek in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series, due out sometime in May of 2017.

Frain has starred in such films and TV series such as Gotham, Tron Legacy, True Blood and Agent Carter.

Sarek is of course, the father of the infamous Vulcan Spock, a beloved character of the franchise that has been connected to almost every variation or generation of the Star Trek universe.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

TV Review: Sarah Jane Adventures- Sky

The start of any new series of a television program you enjoy is usually a joyous occasion, but in the case of the fifth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures it is mixed feelings that accompany the return of the series as the star of Sarah Jane and former Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen passed away in April of 2011.

This of course stopped production of the fifth series of the popular CBBC show and only six episodes consisting of three completed stories would ever be broadcast.

TV Review: Doctor Who- Planet of the Spiders

  Doctor Who  has been many things after being around for forty six years in various forms of mass media, adventure tale and mystery, comedy and tragedy. But it also had been a fable of sorts, a legend whose tales have a moral base of right vs wrong, good vs evil.

Planet of the Spiders takes this concept to the extreme, with major characters in the narrative searching for peace of mind and clarity to past mistakes in their lives. It also deals a lot with fear, to the point of using a monster that has a large association with a common Human phobias, namely spiders, a fact rammed home by the story that the first design for the spiders was abandoned as being too scary for the audience.

TV Review: Sarah Jane Adventures- The Curse of Clyde Langer

Friendship has been an important factor in the Sarah Jane Adventures since it hit our screens in 2007 and while most of the focus has been on the happier side of things when it comes to friends, The Curse of Clyde Langer dips into what it would be like if all of your most trusted friends, even your own family, suddenly hated you and were forced by choice out of your daily life.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

TV Reviews: Doctor Who- Turn Left

Day to day we are faced with choices that might affect our near and in some cases distant future.
Whether we talk to that member of the opposite sex we have seen a few times on the commute to work or if we take the risk to send out that book proposal we have had stashed deep in the desk drawer, the littlest decisions affect us in ways untold, to do or not to do, turn right or turn left...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

TV Review: Doctor Who- Silence in the Library

I have always been quite partial to library's, having grown up right across the road from one for most of my youth and having always thought of them as warm friendly places full of knowledge and loved browsing the long aisles of books for a hidden treasure to take home with me. But after this week's episode of Doctor Who, I may find the library's a little more dark and sinister than before.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Rough Guide to Retro Video Game Collecting

One of the biggest questions you hear across retro gaming communities is where to find retro video games and where to find them cheap. This is not as hard as it sounds but you have to be lucky enough to live an area where decent stuff can be found and also put a little time into it.

I have been playing video games since the days of Coleco-Vision and Atari 2600 and have owned (and sold/lost) many consoles and games over the years, including many I wish I still had.

Recently real life has come and bitten me on the backside so having a gaming 'budget' is out of the question. Even with a large amount of financial strain though I think I have come out pretty well with semi-limited effort and very limited funds.

So I decided to write it out as a rough guide to retro video game collecting for those who may not have a lot of extra income to spend on the hobby.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

TV Review: Doctor Who- The Doctor's Daughter (S4E6)

Conflicts are very much a part of our daily lives and also can come from a variety of sources, from a full scale war to the more private and at times more devastating turmoil that can exist inside a person.

It is both coming to terms with and fighting these moments that who we are as people are laid out before us as we live every day, with the internal skirmishes shaping who we will become and allowing us at times to leave who we were before in the past, for better or for worse.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: The Snake Den (The Shadow & Ink Series #2)

Is she crazy?

Perhaps she is, but maybe Corbin is finally seeing things as they truly are for the very first time and has begun to realize what the voice she hears has in store for her in this second book of The Shadow and Ink series by Nikki Rae.

We delve right back into the complicated life of Corbin as well as getting to learn a little more about Six, the mysterious creature that has integrated himself firmly into Corbin's very existence after being nothing more than a voice in her own head.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Doctor Who: Grounded Silurians

The most powerful creations in fiction often mirror us in some way or another, even more so our monsters in our fiction and fairy tales that can show us truths not just on a person to person basis, but on the level of a society as well.

The Silurians are a perfect example of this, as we have come into conflict with them for mastery of the Earth, but they are a creature that comes from the depths of our own past, not the space beyond our reach.

They are a perfect foil for arrogant Humans as they are arrogant themselves, both believing that they are the better of the two races due to the level of technology they each possess or the threats of destruction it can carry out, it is a situation that has echoes that come from our own real life battles of  prejudice and pride, making it as easy source for quality drama in the terrorist age.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Audio Review: Jago and Litefoot- The Spirit Trap

Victorian ghost tales have been a staple of our fictional diet since Charles Dickens released A Christmas Carol and the era of spirit mediums and spirit photography does provide a perfect setting to be used for such tales, making the era a prime setting when a tale needs to have a certain air of mystery and shadow.

  The third installment in the Jago and Litefoot audio series, The Spirit Trap delves into the unknown region of the afterlife and communicating with the dead as people seem to disappear after a session with Mrs. Vanguard, a spirit medium.

Soon Jago and Litefoot are once again on the case and they appear now to have great confidence doing so, as if as the series goes on they are investigating these strange occurrences more by choice than circumstance.

Audio Review: Jago & Litefoot- The Bellova Devil

 Out of all the words most commonly used in reviews and opinion on any form of entertainment, cliché is the most horrid and foul of all the words.

Cliche means that something has failed in the end product that makes it's concept seem petty rather than larger than life, that something was broken and never fixed and as such the media did not draw the consumer out into its world far enough for them to believe in what they created.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

TV Review: Doctor Who- The Doctor's Wife

I feel so justified.

Sometimes I talk to my electronics, an eccentric little quirk I picked up from some television show or another, forget which one, and I am always getting eye rolls from my fiance, as it is not normal behavior apparently. Yet although we have the same model smartphone mine always seems to work better, something I attribute to the affection I give my machinery.

This of course is all ridiculous in the extreme, machinery does not talk back and does not perform better based upon the fact of it's user and that user's encouragement...or does it?

Neil Gaiman would like us to think about such possibilities as we step into the fourth episode of this series, The Doctor's Wife and it has to be one of the better episodes so far this year If not of the whole of the new era of Doctor Who.

It was indeed a fan boy's dream wrapped in a simple yet deep plot, one that saw many moments of joy, sadness and fear, and a very special old friend that we have known since the series began. This one goes all the way back to the very beginning and gives more insight into the mystery of the Doctor's origins.

TV Review: The Science of Doctor Who

Doctor Who's most unique qualities come from the shows initial groundbreaking concepts.

A spacecraft that is bigger inside then out, moves in such a manner that allows it to travel to almost any location in space and time. Much like Star Trek three years after Doctor Who's debut in 1963, early Doctor Who inspired a whole generation of geeks and science nerds.

However in terms of tone and characterization, Doctor Who more closely resembled the ideals, morals and true motivations of a scientific mind. Where Star Trek did champion concepts such as racial diversity it was still slightly tied into an overall military concept.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

TV Review: Doctor Who- Waters of Mars

Sometime in 2008, it was decided that Doctor Who would take a small “rest” the following year for a couple of reasons. Not only would it give the audience a little time away from the show to appreciate it a little better, but it also gave star David Tennant time to work on other projects besides Doctor Who.

However, there would still be Who on television over the next year. It would consist of five specials, to begin with, the now annual Doctor Who Christmas episode on Christmas Day in 2008. Each special would feature a one-off companion and would climax with the end of Tennant's reign as the Doctor as well as final episode made under Russel T. Davies watch as executive producer.

Friday, January 6, 2017

TV Review: Sense8 "A Christmas Special"

Of all the series out there, Sense8 was probably the last I would have expected to have had a Christmas special. In fact, SF and Fantasy, in general, do not tend to go much for this sort of thing, probably thanks in part at least to the flashbacks all Star Wars fans get to the infamous 'Holiday Special'*.

Christmas specials are the preserve of quirky BBC comedies like Only Fools and Horses or The Vicar of Dibley, not a slick, hip, high concept SF series. For those that are not aware, Sense8 is the result of a collaboration between the Wachowskis (of Matrix and Jupiter Ascending fame) and ‎J. Michael Straczynski (of Babylon 5 fame).

Produced by Netflix, it follows the stories of 8 people across the world who become psychically linked as they try to discover why this has happened and what it means. The range of characters is broad - a Chicago cop, an Icelandic DJ, an Indian Pharmacologist, a German gangster, the daughter of a Korean corporate magnate, a San Francisco hacker, a Mexican film star and an African bus driver. In addition to the range of professions and ethnicities presented, we also have diversity in sexuality with one character being homosexual and another transgender.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Doctor Who: Two Missing Hartnell Episodes Found?

On New Year's Eve, a YouTube video was posted claiming that a poster on Gallifrey Base with the screen name of 'evil johnny' was saying that a friend he knew had a source in the know about the upcoming news that two William Hartnell episodes from the 1960's were found and if any parts remain missing they will be animated to complete the story.

The YouTuber goes on to say that this poster has some level of credibility as he has been right about such things in the past...

Read on...

Audio Review: Doctor Who- The Runaway Train

When your fictional series uses time travel as one of it's plot devices, it allows you to draw from exciting moments in history to make adventures that are packed with both action and terrifying danger.

Few eras in history have as much opportunity for dangerous moments and excitement as the American wild west, and it seems a perfect fit for a fast paced Doctor Who tale.

Audio Review: Doctor Who- The Guardian of the Solar System

Life and death are at the very center of our lives every waking moment.

Even if we are consciously unaware of the fact that one day we have to pass onto whatever lies beyond this life, it is always there like a dark shadow at the very back of our respective closets, next to which stands the time that measures our life, both beginning and end, and the choices that we make that determine if that time is worthy or wasted, a life of promise or a life of despair.

 But what if you could change one of those choices?

Audio Review: Doctor Who- The Eight Truths

I have always stayed away from the kooks and weirdos that hang around airport terminals handing out flowers or the strange man on the train who hands out those little comics that give me instructions on how my soul can be saved from the Devil himself if only I'd listen.

It's nice to feel vindicated in one's beliefs, even if the source of vindication is a science fiction audio play from Big Finish Audio's Doctor Who series called The Eight Truths.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

TV Review: Doctor Who- Love & Monsters (S02E10)

One of my favorite films of all time has to be Interview With a Vampire, based on the novel of the same name by Anne Rice. Like most things that become our personal favorites there are some scenes and certain dialogue which will always stick out in our minds and this film has one that has relevance when we are preparing to discuss one of the most controversial and dividing episodes of Doctor Who since it returned to television in 2005:

“Vampires pretending to be Human pretending to be avant garde.”

It always seemed to me the line could be paraphrased to describe the episode Love & Monsters from Doctor Who's second series: “A fan writing for fans about actors pretending to be fans.”

When Doctor Who entered its second series in 2006, the glow of seeing it back on television had started to wane slightly, and that of course meant the ugliness that is a bitter and unsatisfied section of fans began to loudly protest some of the elements of the programme that they disagreed with.

Book Review: Doctor Who- The Annual Years by Paul Magrs

Nostalgia and Doctor Who go hand in hand, which is almost second nature for any creation that has stood the test of time the way this science fiction series has. As the world changes around it, it mirrors the current world and becomes part of our memories. A fondness develops around some of the most forgotten products and trappings of the series which older fans now recall being intertwined with a simpler time in their own lives.

The Doctor Who Annuals published by World Distributors from 1966 to 1986 are one great example of this, a merchandising tie-in that child of more than one generation might have found under the tree at Christmas.

Even I got a chance to experience the series first hand, even though it was right at the very end of the original Annual run with the 1986 Annual which I poured over for clues about the sixth Doctor's persona as The Twin Dilemma was not shown directly after The Caves of Androzani in some areas in the United States.

TV Review: Doctor Who-Robots of Death (Se14St05)

Doctor Who has always been able to pull off homages to all kinds of storytelling genres by virtue of the show's immensely flexible format. It allowed for both subtle and dramatic twists on established storytelling methods over the last fifty years of the series existence in various forms of media.
Robots of Death is no exception, with the action playing out in such a manner that it might have been created by a futuristic Agatha Christie.

Written by Chris Boucher, the author that had also penned the previous adventure The Face of Evil, it was indeed conceived with the 1939 Christie novel Ten Little Indians in mind.

The traditional trappings are all there, from the rogue's gallery of potential murder suspects and the mounting body count as the mystery progresses to the shocking reveal of the true villain at the end.
The murder-mystery angle is well performed by both cast and crew all the way around, with the suspense and mystery maintained through the first three episodes quite nicely.

It also evokes feelings more firmly rooted in traditional science fiction, such as the Human reaction to robots as part of their daily lives. This aspect of Robots of Death echoes some as Asminov's greatest works on the subject of robotics, such as I Robot, with the three classes of robots in the serial having rules about interacting with the Human Miners.

TV Review: Doctor Who- 5oth Anniversary Blue Peter Episode (2013)

Blue Peter and Doctor Who are intertwined throughout the latter programs fifty-year history. Since the time the first Doctor, William Hartnell was the Tardis console, Doctor Who themed segments and competitions have been featured on Blue Peter on a regular basis.

As Doctor Who turned fifty, Blue Peter, not only dedicated the show closest to the November 23rd anniversary to the Time Lord but also had an early morning party for viewers on the Saturday of the anniversary itself.

The main link between the regular Blue Peter broadcast and the party was a design a monster with a  twist as many fans got to be a 'part', with storyboard artist Shawn Williams sketching monster designs from Blue Peter viewers suggestions on the various physical aspects of the creature. The design would be sketched out during the regular Blue peter and would be 'brought to life' on the Doctor Who Party on Saturday morning.

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A Rough Guide to Retro Video Game Collecting

One of the biggest questions you hear across retro gaming communities is where to find retro video games and where to find them cheap....