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Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (Review)

“Good guys do not have zombie creatures. Rule one, basic storytelling.”

– Clara understands the way the universe works

And here our big theory that this anniversary season is a “greatest hits” collection runs into a bit of bother. Okay, Cold War was definitely a Troughton-era throwback. And Hide had a definite Hinchcliffe-and-Holmes feeling to it. (“The Baker Street irregulars” in 1974.) Maybe you could stretch it a little bit and argue that The Bells of St. John is a tribute to the Pertwee era by way of Russell T. Davies; and The Rings of Akhaten definitely feels a little like a classic bit of Hartnell-era world-building.

Making the case for The Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS is just a little bit harder. After all, The Crimson Horror is another throwback to Hinchcliffe and Holmes, while Nightmare in Silver is another “base under siege by classic monster” tribute to Troughton. So there’s only one missing piece here. If that “greatest hits” argument holds, then Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS must be one gigantic shout out to the John Nathan Turner era.

Hear me out.

A shining beacon of light...

A shining beacon of light…

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Non-Review Review: The Omega Man

The Omega Man remains, perhaps, the most high-profile adaptation of Richard Matheson’s genre-busting vampire sci-fi survivalist novel, I Am Legend. Of course, the film has little resemblance to Matheson’s truly iconic piece of literature, save for the basic premise. Charleton Heston is Robert Neville, the last man alive in a world of monsters. While I Am Legend is a bold and thought-provoking exploration of the implications of that idea, The Omega Man seems to have no loftier goal than simply telling an entertaining apocalyptic yarn. There’s nothing wrong with that, but – much like Robert Neville himself – The Omega Man is haunted by the ghost of what could have been.

Goodbye to all of that...

Goodbye to all of that…

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Doctor Who: The Dæmons (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Dæmons originally aired in 1971.

I’ve bought you a nice cuppa, Sergeant. I hope you like china.

For goodness sake, Miss Hawthorne.

What’s the matter? Don’t you like tea?

Something’s gone badly wrong. We’ve no idea what’s happening to Miss Grant and the Captain, the Doctor should be back here by now, I can’t get through to the Brigadier and you’re nattering on about tea.

You must learn the art of waiting, Sergeant. The Doctor will come, or else he won’t, and that’s all that can be said. Now, milk or lemon?

– Miss Hawthorne helps Sergent Benton get his priorities straight

Barry Letts was a very talented man. I feel like I don’t stress that often often. I’ll freely concede that the UNIT era isn’t my favourite part of Doctor Who history, but there are times when you really have to admire the skill and competence of Letts as the show’s producer. In fact, he served as both a director and a writer on the series. He had a very clear vision for the show, and he implemented it remarkably well, to the point where his work on the show still stands out as something quite distinguished from the work of other producers.

The Dæmons is a very clear illustration of just how carefully and how thoughtfully Letts had overhauled the show for the seventies. While it’s not the most Letts-ian episode ever produced (he would produce, write and direct Pertwee’s final episode, Planet of the Spiders), but it is a great illustration of Letts’ approach to the programme and perhaps a testament to his lasting legacy.

Rock on, you crazy Master...

Rock on, you crazy Master…

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Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Infinite Quest was originally broadcast in weekly instalments on Totally Doctor Who in 2007.

… And then I’ll have my revenge! Revenge! REVENGE!

– just in case you didn’t get that Baltazar was evil

The Infinite Quest is a 45-minute animated episode of Doctor Who that was broadcast as part of Totally Doctor Who in 2007, during the third season of the revived show. It was written by Alan Barnes, who has written a number of Big Finish audio plays for Doctor Who, and was directed by Gary Russell. The animation was produced by Cosgrave Hall, who animated the missing episodes of The Invasion for its 2006 DVD release. So there’s a fairly considerable amount of talent involved in this project, which is notable as not only the first full-length animated Doctor Who episode to be broadcast on television, but is the first fully serialised story to be told since the show was revived. It was originally broadcast in chunks of three-and-a-half minutes.

Flight of fancy...

Flight of fancy…

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Non-Review Review: Broken

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013. It was the opening gala.

Broken is that rarest of beasts, a suburban ensemble drama that manages to merge charming humanism with gritty reality. Mark O’Rowe’s adaptation of Daniel Clay’s novel is filled to the brim with humour and joy, but isn’t afraid of the darker shades of emotion. It’s unflinching and occasionally brutal, a candid exploration of the intersecting lives of those inhabiting a small close. However, this honesty lends the film credibility in its lighter moments. The smiles, the giggles and the laughter that come from many off the movie’s more human moments feel earned, and there’s a wonderful sense of balance to Broken, as if to concede that life cannot be composed of entirely happy moments, nor entirely sad. That’s the wonder of it all, and Broken skilfully manages to combine those extremes into a single charming and engaging coming of age drama.

A close call...

A close call…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Skin of Evil (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Skin of Evil is a mess of an episode. It’s a whole bunch of concepts thrown together, and executed in the most ridiculous and banal manner possible. There’s a lot of the disparate elements of Skin of Evil that could easily work if handled properly. Most notably, the idea of a character dying in the line of duty rather than as a hero is a fascinating one, and the eponymous monster could be an interesting twist on the “god-like beings” we seem to stumble across once every couple of weeks in the Star Trek universe. However, Skin of Evil winds up feeling the one thing it should be impossible for an episode like this to be. Despite all the different stuff happening involving all the different characters: it’s boring.

A slick operator...

A slick operator…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Haven (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Haven is… not as terrible as I thought it would be. There have been select episodes I’ve been dreading on my re-watch of this awkward first season. I was right to fear Code of Honour. I had perhaps been a tiny bit too harsh on The Naked Now. I am quaking at the prospect of watching Angel One and Too Short a Season again. However, Haven wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared that it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s filled with plot holes and it is as dull as anything, but it’s not actively that bad. If it sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, then I probably am.

Safe Haven?

Safe Haven?

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