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Doctor Who: Kill the Moon (Review)

I don’t like people being sick in my TARDIS. No being sick. And no hanky-panky.

If The Caretaker began the transition into the second half of the season, Kill the Moon completes it. The Twelfth Doctor is established. Peter Capaldi has found his footing. The audience has a clear grasp of what distinguishes his take on the character from the iterations played by David Tennant or Matt Smith. The orderly transition of lead actors is complete; the show can no go about its business. Along with The Caretaker, Kill the Moon marks the point at which the season starts building clearly and concretely towards Death in Heaven.

This is the point at which the show feels free to get a little experimental. With the exception of Listen, the first six stories of the season were all relatively conservative. Deep Breath returned to the Paternoster Gang in order to ease the transition to the new lead. Into the Dalek was the obligatory “Dalek episode.” Although it featured a fictional celebrity, Robot of Sherwood was a throwback to the old school celebrity historical. Time Heist was a light run-around. The Caretaker was the “dump the Doctor into the real world” story.

"Yes, I'm wearing my One Direction shirt. Wanna make something of it?"

“Yes, I’m wearing my One Direction shirt. Wanna make something of it?”

In contrast, the second-half of the season is more bold and experimental. Steven Moffat is not credited as a co-writer, suggesting that the training wheels are coming off. While the first six episodes were all written by established Doctor Who writers, the four episodes between The Caretaker and Dark Water are all credited to newbies. More than that, there is a spirit of experimentation. Kill the Moon and In the Forest of the Night are perhaps two of the most divisive and controversial episodes of the show since it returned in 2005. Only Love and Monsters comes close.

Kill the Moon is bold, provocative, insane and more than a little twisted.

David Tennant has the same tumblr photo...

David Tennant has the same tumblr photo…

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Star Trek: The Newspaper Strips – Called Home (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

It’s amazing how diverse and expansive the history of the Star Trek franchise is. Even odd little curiosities like the Gold Key Comics and The Newspaper Strips endure in one form or another – passed down over the years and lovingly maintained. There really are no truly forgotten pieces of Star Trek out there, and one of the great things about IDW’s management of the Star Trek license has been their willingness to dig into the annals of Star Trek history to produce some striking pieces of work.

(I am really hoping that their reprint programme extends at some point to include the British Star Trek comic strips, which were wonderfully dynamic pieces of work that were never properly reprinted outside the United Kingdom. However, given how thorough the reprint programme has been, it seems almost inevitable that those strips will see the light of day in some form or another.)

The Newspaper Strips were launched in 1979, débuting four days before the cinematic release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The strip only ran for until 1983, cancelled due to the fact that the market was crowded out with more popular science-fiction comic strips like Star Wars or Flash Gordon. Still, despite the ignominious finish for the strip, it is a fascinating piece of Star Trek history, an example of one of the many ways the franchise survived during its long hiatus from television.

tos-calledhome

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The Adventures of Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

The Castafiore Emeraldis certainly a strange title to adapt for an animated television series. Essentially an excuse for Hergé to play with the assorted tropes and clichés he had established for the series, the story is a mystery that refuses to conform to what Tintin and the audience might expect it to, with each and every avenue of exploration turning into a dead end. As such, it allows Hergé to explore the more personal interactions of his supporting cast (like Haddock and Calculus), while having a bit of fun with his lead character – the boyish reporter. While it makes for an interesting book, I’m not convinced that it could ever really work as an animated episode.

Faithful to the letter...

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The Adventures of Tintin: Explorers on the Moon (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

After a somewhat disappointing adaptation of Destination: Moon, the series bounces back with a wonderful take on Explorers on the Moon. I honestly think that Destination: Moon and Explorers on the Moon are perhaps Hergé’s most optimistic work on the series, aside from Tintin in Tibet. Although one can detect hints of the Cold War on the horizon, informing his writing, there’s still an incredible sense of marvel at the human capacity for what seems to be impossible. While the adaptation of Destination: Moonseemed to miss the comical whimsy to focus on the sabotage subplot, it does a much better job with the more earnest joy of this space-based adventure.

One small step...

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The Adventures of Tintin: Destination Moon (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

I think that Destination: Moon represents perhaps the most significant challenge to the producers of the animated series so far. While they managed to harvest a plot from the disjointed collection of scenes Hergé knitted together to form Tintin in America, this is the perhaps the least standard instalment of the series they’ve tried to adapt until this point. I’m a big fan of Destination: Moon, reading it as a wonderful optimistic and enthusiastic reflection on mankind’s potential, coming from Hergé after the Second World War. However, it’s also a bit unstructured and episodic, almost a collection of short stories tied together by the plan to send a manned mission to the moon. The animated adaptation doesn’t have the luxury of cutting the adventure down to a single episode, and so it’s a standard two-parter. It seems that there was a bit of difficulty structuring the story for that format.

Blast off!

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Tintin: Explorers on the Moon (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

The one thing I really admire about Explorers on the Moon is the fact that – for an adventure that takes the iconic boy reporter off te surface of the planet and launches him into outer space – it’s a remarkably low key affair. In fact, most of the book is devoted to nice character moments for the ensemble, and to explore some of the wonderful research Hergé did to put his story together. There’s no great mystery on the moon, none of the aliens that would later appear in Flight 714. Instead, Hergé seems to accept that launching his cast out of the planet’s atmosphere was enough of a radical deviation from the norm as it was. So what we get is a strange situation where Explorers on the Moon feels like one of the more grounded adventures in the series.

"Can you hear me, Major Tom?"

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Tintin: Destination Moon (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Destination Moon is an interesting entry in the Tintin canon, in that it really feels like Hergé’s relaxing just a bit. Since around about The Broken Ear (or even Tintin in America), most of Hergé’s stories have been relatively plot-driven, with a central mystery and a story built around solving that mystery. Destination Moon, on the other hand, is an adventure that feels far more episodic in nature, with Hergé taking a central plot (the race to land a man on a moon) and then building a variety of small adventures around it, from attempts to hijack a test rocket through to Professor Calculus’ amnesia and beyond. The story is somewhat leisurely plotted, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The author is clearly enjoying having a little bit more narrative freedom than he’s used to, and also having a great deal of fun taking a fantastical core concept and demonstrating how much research he’s put in.

It's out of this world...

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