Monthly Archives: February 2016

TV Review – Doctor Who (Series 9)

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I suppose series 9 started for me with ‘Last Christmas’ and ended with ‘The Husbands of River Song’, both of which were really great Christmas specials. I especially loved the one with River Song, as it was lovely to see the Doctor and River together alone for once. Still haven’t beaten The Voyage of the Damned, but they certainly aren’t forgettable like some of the specials have been in the past.

Series 9 overall was a massive step up for me in comparison to series 8. I just much preferred the tone of the series, and I especially loved Maisie Williams as Me. She was just amazing from start to finish, and I love the idea of her character and what she became because the Doctor had showed her kindness and saved her life. It was amazing to see just how talented an actress she really is, and for her to spread her wings away from Arya for a while.

I also quite liked the tendency in this series to have two-part episodes. It allowed for longer and more complex stories to be told over a couple of weeks, rather than only in forty-five minutes. There was a lot though, and I think I would have liked more stand-alone episodes. Overall I loved the series, and while there were a couple of episodes that I wasn’t all that fussed, I did enjoy Capaldi as the Doctor a lot more than I had the previous series.

Series Highlights

I really loved the series opening, The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar just purely because Michelle Gomez was back and on great form. The Doctor with Davros as well was interesting to watch, as it was a chance to see a different side to their relationship.

I also really loved Sarah Dollard’s ‘Face the Raven’, as it reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and even Diagon Alley.

The very best episode of the series though has to be Heaven Sent by Steven Moffat, which just pulled on every heart string I have as the Doctor slowly realises the truth of where he has found himself. Utter brilliance.

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TV Review – Doctor Who (Series 8)

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I have to admit that Peter Capaldi has taken a bit of getting used to as the Doctor. I can’t put my finger on what it is about him as that character but it really just doesn’t work all that well for me. That’s not to say he isn’t good; he is, but for me he just isn’t the Doctor. But I very much think this might just be me only, as I know the series is critically acclaimed.

What I truly love though is Michelle Gomez as Missy. I have loved Gomez ever since I first saw Green Wing, and here as a Doctor Who villain, she is just perfection itself. She is amazing, because like the perfect villain you can’t guess what she is going to do next. She brings a great deal of heartbreak to the show, and I very much think that the finale is one of the problems that I have with the entire series. The idea of twisting cremation into something terrifying was a step too far for me, perhaps because I was still coping with the death of my grandfather, but mainly because I just felt the story was in very poor taste.

I did like the series, especially the developing relationship between Clara and Danny Pink. Clara was very much trying to have it all and I commended her for doing so. What I didn’t like was that Clara consistently lied to Danny about what she was doing. At least with Amy and Rory, and even Rose and Mickey they were completely honest with each other about what was going on. That deception though isn’t the right tone for a kid’s show and it was another theme of the series that just did not sit right with me.

Series Highlights

There were some great one off storylines in this series.

Listen by Steven Moffat was one of the highlight for me, as it is a classic creepy monster tale by Steven Moffat. As much as I love Moffat as the Head Writer, I feel in love with the show because of these one off episodes that he knocks out of the park every now as then. This was perfection for me.

Time Heist is fun from start to finish. I like heist stories and the twist of memory made this a stand out episode for me. I also particularly enjoyed Mummy on the Orient Express because I enjoy murder mysteries and the sci-fi twists made it a very original episode.

I also really loved Flatline, just purely because seeing Clara put the TARDIS in her handbag made me laugh quite a bit and combined with the 2D monsters it is a classic Doctor Who, ‘can he save the day at the last minute?’ episode.

TV Review -Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Special (& Xmas Special)

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I absolutely adored the 50th Anniversary Special for Doctor Who. It is my second favourite episode of Doctor Who after ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’. It really reaches into the heart of who the Doctor had become between the Doctor Who Movie and the relaunch. It shows the Time War right at the end and the devastating decision that The War Doctor made just before he become the ninth Doctor.

It also used the greatest of time travel devices; the act of crossing one’s own timeline, which in the Doctor’s case results in The War Doctor (played by the fabulous John Hurt) crossing paths with Matt Smith and David Tennant. It also saw the return of Billie Piper but not as we would have expected. She is The Moment, the weapon of mass destruction that the War Doctor wants to use to end the war. She chooses the form of Rose (Bad Wolf) in order to help the War Doctor make a better decision. It’s perfect, and made even more so when the curator turns up with jelly beans right at the end.

The episode itself is a masterpiece, easily one of the very best that Steven Moffat has ever written for the show. It has so many in-references for diehard fans, it has classic and favourites villains, and it has the multiple Doctor storyline. It also has one of the greatest women from history involved, Elizabeth I, and the question of why, when she turned up to the Globe near the beginning of series three, she wanted him dead.

The Day of the Doctor is just the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of Doctor Who.

Equally ‘The Time of the Doctor’ was the perfect way to send off Matt Smith, in the Christmas special that followed a month later. It was very much time for Matt Smith to go, even though I loved him as the Doctor, there wasn’t very much more for him to do with the character. As much as I like Clara, the chemistry that Matt Smith had with Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill, it was time to refresh the show with a new Doctor.

I love that the Crack in the Wall comes back to haunt the Doctor, and the mystery of where the Silence came from is finally resolved. I don’t know how much planning Steven Moffat put into his storylines or whether it is a seat of the pants kind of plotting that just happens to work out brilliantly.

The most moving part of the episode though is Clara’s plead through the crack in the wall to the Time Lords to save the Doctor. It was the very best way to ensure that the Doctor could carry on and re-generate, while also saving the day. It was a beautiful moment made all the more horrific by Clara’s later reactions to the new Doctor; she thought she was saving her Doctor not creating a brand new one.

TV Review – Doctor Who (Series 7)

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I have many of the same issues with series seven as I did with six. Splitting the series in half just doesn’t work for me, and the gap between the two halves was even worse. However, it doesn’t bother me as much because the two halves are independent of each other. The first half is a set off for Amy and Rory, and the second introduces Clara as the new companion.

I really loved Amy and Rory as companions, but they very much had run their course. I really like the majority of their sent off, especially how it introduces the mystery of Clara who had been announced as the new companion and then had seemingly been killed off by the Daleks in the first episode of the new series, ‘Asylum of the Daleks’. It was a subtle mystery and a lot less complex than the story arc of the previous series. The first half also included fun episodes like ‘Dinosaurs in Space’; what’s not to love about that.

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The send-off episode, ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ is beautifully written and portrayed. It is awful to see the Doctor’s heart breaking, but it was the only way for Amy and Rory to be able to live their normal lives together away from the Doctor, by being somewhere that he couldn’t save them from. It was the best send off for the two characters and I love that they kept them together, and that even love for the Doctor couldn’t keep them apart.

And then with the Christmas special, The Snowman, the mystery of who Clara begins and then the with the second half of the series I felt that a whole new series of Doctor Who had started, confusing me to the point I have had to double check that Clara did become the companion in series seven and not in eight, which is what it felt like. I absolutely love the second half of the seventh series as the injection of a new companion refreshed the show.

The mystery of the companion was a great story arc and simple enough to follow, and the use of a classic Doctor Who villain, The Great Intelligence, who was an antagonist of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor was great, and really shows the love and geekiness of the show’s head writer.

Series Highlights

I think ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ is a bit of a no-brainer as it was a great way for two beloved characters to exit the show.

‘The Bells of Saint John’ and ‘The Name of the Doctor’ are two truly great episodes. The former is a classic introduce the new companion to the crazy life of the Doctor, and the latter a great show of the Doctor’s friend coming together to try and save his life. The answer to the mystery of who Clara is as well is brilliant and harks back to the days of Rose saving the Doctor.

Another great episode is ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’. I love the episodes where you get to see more of the TARDIS and it is a great bonding episode for the Doctor and Clara.

TV Review – Doctor Who (Series 6)

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The sixth series never really took traction with me, and I very much think it is because the series was spilt into two parts. Having a mid-season cliff-hanger just didn’t work for me at all, because by the time the season finale actually came around I was bored with the story and I had forgotten most of the details that I needed to remember in order to enjoy what I was watching.

Which is a real shame because the overall story is really brilliant; it was creepy from the moment the astronaut steps out the lake, and I was intrigued about what was going on, but I got bored waiting for the end to come. I am very much a viewer who either watches Doctor Who for one episode a week for a few months, or I binge watch. I hated the three month hiatus, and it spoilt a perfectly good series for me, even now, I’m not all that fussed about watching it on DVD.

That quibble aside though, the other reason I’m not all that fussed by the sixth series is that the first half of the series really wasn’t all that good. The two part opening is fine but nothing memorable, and ‘A Good Man Goes To War’, again is good but not memorable. The series finale itself also just doesn’t send chills down my spine like previous series have done.

The series is good, but not my cup of tea, because the hiatus made me forget the details and there were far too many details to try and keep track of in the first place. Maybe I do need to try it again and try and come to it with a fresh set of eyes, but at the minute I had a lot of great TV to watch that isn’t disappointing me.

Series Highlights

For once I’m not really recommending the opening and closing episodes. They just don’t do it for me, but there are two episodes in the series that were utterly fantastic.

‘The God Complex’ is a classic scare-fest, and an emotional roller-coaster ride for the characters. I loved watching it and the premise of a shifting maze of a hotel is just sublime.

The stand out episode of the series though has to be ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ which Neil Gaiman penned for the show. It was just a classic Gaiman story; a bubble universe full of strange characters and a fantastic chase through the belly of the TARDIS itself, to reveal the old control room. And then of course there was Suranne Jones, who played the personality of the TARDIS downloaded into a human body. Comedy genius, and if you can only watch one episode of the series it has to be this one.

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TV Review – Doctor Who (Series 5)

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After the disappointment of the majority of the specials I was ready for a new Doctor and a full series. I love Steven Moffat’s style of writing and storylines that appeal to older audiences as well as the younger, so I was full of anticipation for Matt Smith and series 5. I most certainly was not disappointed.

While he isn’t my favourite Doctor, Matt Smith was bloody brilliant. He worked very well with Amy and Rory, and I loved the edgier story arc that Steven Moffat introduced. I especially love when Rory literally gets erased from history; not just killed or left behind, he literally never existed. It was brutal to watch and was the beginning of Steven Moffat playing with our heart strings and tear ducts.

I also love Amy quite a bit. She’s not ashamed of who she is, she doesn’t have any doubt and she’s not from London. I was getting a bit tired of the old cliché of the companion being from London, so playing around in a village was fab. It opens up new avenues of creepiness and proves there are other place in Britain.

I love Rory more though, because he has to live his life thinking that he will never life up to being The Doctor, but it doesn’t stop him from pursuing his life as he wants to life it. At times that means he ends up being left behind or taken along, or even erased entirely, but more so than even Amy who is more openly strong, the core of Rory’s character is strength and he amazing.

Series Highlights

‘The Eleventh Hour’, ‘The Pandorica Opens’ and ‘The Big Bang’ are just epic on a massive scale. Steven Moffat as a great gift for making something that is seemingly innocent, like a crack in the wall, very sinister. I also loved how he tied the plot of the finale into the two-parter with River. Great plotting and a heck of a lot of planning.

Amy’s Choice is incredibly well conceived and Toby Jones was a revelation as the Dream Lord. I adored this episode because it dug into the hearts of the characters, especially Amy who until then had been a bit closed off and mysterious about what she was really thinking and feeling.

The Lodger is just hilarious and also creepy. James Corden is fantastic as the ever patience roommate with the Doctor.

Vincent and the Doctor, though is just heart breaking. Like with Agatha Christie I’m rather partial to Van Gogh and have a great deal of empathy with someone who suffers from mental illness. The scene between Tony Curran and Bill Nighy still brings me to tears.

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TV Review – Doctor Who (Series 4 Specials)

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I have to fully admit that I really hated the majority of the David Tennant specials that came between series four and five. I was just bored for well over a year as the episodes got worse.

The Next Doctor had a great deal of potential, and David Morrissey certainly did a great turn thinking he was the Doctor. The cybermen were also great, right up until the moment a giant cyberman built with child labour started to roam the streets of Victorian London. I actually cringed and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was watching. Comparing it to the previous year’s ‘Voyage of the Damned’ and you realise there is no comparison. All I can hope is that kids loved it.

And then came the Easter special, where things just got worse. The premise of the show with a world destroyed by metallic aliens is great, especially because there is a risk that is going to happen to earth. They just don’t pull it off though, and it is very much because Michelle Ryan’s character is completely under developed and is just downright awful. I can’t stand the episode.

And then some how and god knows how it got even worse with ‘The Waters of Mars’. At least in this episode Lindsay Duncan redeemed the episode by being utterly brilliant and because her character had a better grip on reality than the Doctor did in this episode. I don’t understand the idea that they had of showing a side of the Doctor that I don’t think anyone wanted to see; his arrogance.

Thankfully the two part ‘The End of Time’, managed to redeem Russell T. Davies and sent both him and David Tennant off on a high. John Simm’s Master is brilliant, and the threat of Gallifrey makes the episode thrilling. They had foreshadowed the regeneration of The Doctor, with four knocks, and it is a fabulous twist that the Doctor doesn’t end up changing because of his nemesis but for a good man. His words, ‘I don’t want to go,’ were haunting, and a sentiment I shared.