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Star Trek – Wink of an Eye (Review)

This July and August, we’re celebrating the release of Star Trek Beyond by taking a look back at the third season of the original Star Trek. Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the latest update.

The third season of Star Trek has an ethereal and mystical quality to it.

The Tholian Web is probably the best example of this, an episode structured as a ghost story in space. However, there are other examples; the barely-there ghost town of Spectre of the Gun, the legend of the Gorgan in And the Children Shall Lead, the H.P. Lovecraft monster at the heart of Is There in Truth No Beauty?, the half-formed world of The Empath, the siren of That Which Survives and the planetary madhouse of Whom the Gods Destroy. In the third season of Star Trek, it increasingly seems like space is an irrational place, a haunted and spectral realm.

It doesn't faze her in the slightest.

It doesn’t faze her in the slightest.

Wink of an Eye fits quite comfortably within that tradition. This is the perfect example of an episode which makes little sense as a science-fiction story, but which plays quite well as fantasy. Much like The Tholian Web draws upon centuries of stories about ghost ships, Wink of an Eye draws from another rich literary genre. This is the story about a man who is mysterious spirited away by a queen and her people, only to discover that time has been distorted in this mysterious realm.

In other words, Wink of an Eye fits quite comfortably in the tradition of fairy stories.

All's fair in love and war.

All’s fair in love and war.

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Doctor Who: Robot of Sherwood (Review)

Shortly, I shall be the most powerful man in the realm. King in all but name, for Nottingham is not enough.

It isn’t?

After this, Derby.

Right.

Then Lincoln. And after Lincoln…

Worksop?

The world!

– the Sheriff outlines his plot to Clara

Robot of Sherwood is a functional piece of television, with a wonderful closing scene capping a very light forty-five minutes. Mark Gatiss is a writer who tends to trade on nostalgia, and who clearly holds a great deal of affection for the past. As such, Robot of Sherwood provides a fairly effective and straightforward counterpoint to the heavy moral questions of Deep Breath and Into the Dalek. Is the Doctor a hero? It doesn’t matter, because his story is that of a hero.

There is a sense that perhaps Gatiss is being a little bit too glib here, to the point where Robot of Sherwood almost plays defensively – a justification of the writer’s tendency to rose-tinted nostalgia and a rejection of critical approaches towards history or story. Nevertheless, Robot of Sherwood does pretty much what it sets out to do. It provides Peter Capaldi with a suitably light script and a chance to flex his comedic muscles, while providing a suitably fairy-tale-ish pseudo-historical.

Legendary outlaw...

Legendary outlaw…

This season is introducing a new lead actor, a risky proposition for any show. As a result, the first half of the season tends to play it rather safe. Robot of Sherwood is the only episode in the first half of the season not to credit Steven Moffat as writer or co-writer; however, it is still written by an established Doctor Who veteran. After all, Mark Gatiss wrote The Unquiet Dead, the first episode of the relaunched series not written by Russell T. Davies. He also wrote Victory of the Daleks, the first story of the Moffat era not written by Moffat himself.

Indeed, the season returns to the classic “home”/“future”/“historical” opening triptych structure that defined the Davies era; it is the first time that this structure has been seen since Matt Smith’s opening season. (For Davies, “home” was twenty-first century London; for Moffat, it is the Paternoster Gang.) Robot of Sherwood is the show’s first proper “celebrity historical” since Vincent and the Doctor in that same opening season. “Safe” is very much the name of the game for this stretch of the season. Robot of Sherwood is very safe.

"You'll ruin the paint work!"

“You’ll ruin the paint work!”

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Why Are We Afraid to Scare Children?

I watched the Platinum Anniversary Edition of Pinocchio over the weekend. aside from the revelation of how ridiculously Disney manipulate the market to keep their movies out of constant circulation and creating false scarcity, what really struck me about the movie was how ridiculously (and gloriously) dark it was. As a 23-year-old adult, I felt more than a little uncomfortable watching the movie, so I can only imagine how it would have terrified me as a kid. Turning kids into donkeys and selling them to the circus! Threatening to chop up the lead character for firewood (and showing a similar puppet with an axe in his back)! The lead character lying limp, face-down in a puddle! It occurred to me that you’d never get a film like that made for kids these days. Why are we afraid to scare children?

He's a jackass! Geddit? Seriously, this gave me nightmares.

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Evil is the New Black: Tim Burton to Reboot Sleeping Beauty to Give us ‘Maleficent’…

Looks like Tim Burton is getting quite comfortable at Disney – apparently he plans to follow his 3D spectacular Alice in Wonderland with a reboot of the classic Sleeping Beauty. Don’t worry (or do worry, depending on your opinion of the director), he’s not going to be offering a straight-forward adaptation – that would be much too straightforward. Instead, Burton is going to rework the story from the perspective of the evil queen: Maleficent. It seems that revisiting classic stories from the villain’s perspective is Hollywood’s new business plan, and – being honest – I’m equally worried and excited about it. Which, at the very least, means it is in someway daring.

Evil or misunderstood? It is going be a Burton film after all...

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