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Doctor Who: Midnight (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.

Midnight originally aired in 2008.

And you be careful, all right?

Nah. Taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight? What could possibly go wrong?

– Donna and the Doctor tempt fate

Midnight was the fiftieth episode of the revived Doctor Who to enter production. It had been intended to air as the fiftieth episode of the new series, but plotting similarities between Forest of the Dead and Turn Left forced Davies to shift the broadcast order of the episodes. As a result, we end up with the longest consecutive streak of Davies-written episodes in the history the show, stretching from Midnight through to The End of Time, Part II. In essence, although it’s not really intended as part of the over all arc, Davies’ swan song begins here.

And it’s the best episode that Davies has ever written. It might be the best episode of the fourth season. It might even compete for the best episode of show produced by Davies.

So it’s pretty great.

The long dark midnight of the soul...

The long dark midnight of the soul…

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Case of Mr. Pelham (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Due to circumstances outside our control, tragedy will not strike tonight. I’m dreadfully sorry, perhaps some other time.

– Hitchcock’s introduction; well, at least he apologises

The Case of Mister Pelham picked up the series’ first Emmy nomination, with Hitchcock himself nominated for outstanding direction. It’s not too hard to see why, as The Case of Mister Pelham is a wonderfully compelling piece of television, a psychological character study masquerading as a supernatural mystery. In many ways, it feels like the best episode of The Twilight Zone that was never an episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s sharp, cleverly constructed, and features and astounding central performance from Tom Ewell as the eponymous Mister Pelham. What more could you want?

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Non-Review Review: The Box

I have an offer to make. If you push the button, two things will happen. First, someone, somewhere in the world, whom you don’t know, will die. Second, you will receive a payment of one million dollars. You have 24 hours.

“Arlington Stewart”

Such is the premise of The Box, a movie based on a short story by science fiction icon Richard Matheson, but one of the movie’s many problems is that director Richard Kelly apparently doesn’t find that premise interesting enough to sustain his film. That seems inherently pithy, considering that Matheson’s story Button, Button has been adapted for The Twilight Zone and as a radio play for CBS Mystery Theatre – there must have been something there. Instead, Kelly uses the eponymous box as a jumping off point into what can only really be described as “abstractsville”, taking a left at “crazy town”. There are moments in this film which work, but they are few and far between – there are large stretches of time when it is just infuriating.

James Marsden counts up the box office receipts... they aren't good...

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You Are Now Re-Entering… The Twilight Zone

This is one of those ideas I am not too sure about. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way has announced that they are moving forward with a new Twilight Zone movie. With The Box coming out later this year, I imagined that Hollywood’s thirst for remakes could soon find its way to these precious anthology series (which have themselves been remade). It makes sense – there’s a lot more scope and freedom in taking a name from a show without a regular cast or confined to single storyline but still has name recognition. The only problem is that, without these staples, what exactly are they going to do to create a two hour movie?

If only the Twlight Zone were so easy to find...

If only the Twlight Zone were so easy to find...

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There’s Something in The Box!

The trailer for The Box hit the internet yesterday and I’m… not really impressed. From what looks like an attempt to turn a moral quandary (would you take an action that would kill a stranger for a huge sum of money?) into a brainless action movie to the use of the Saw theme (“Hello Zepp”) as an overture at the end of the movie, it’s striking all the wrong notes. On the other hand, I’m quite taken with what looks to be a sixties-style design, so who knows? Director Richard Kelly can be really good (Donnie Darko) or really terrible (Southland Tales). Pending reviews, this is probably one to rent. Since the fad of remaking has spread to remaking episodes of old television shows, I’m wondering if there are any other anthology episodes that warrant a remake?

"So, if I push the button, I get $1 million... and an Oscar nomination?"

"So, if I push the button, I get $1 million... and an Oscar nomination?"

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This is no time to argue about time, we don’t have the time…

The early reviews for Terminator: Salvation seem to be in – and they are not as bad as I thought they would be. Apparently if you leave your brain at reception, you might enjoy it. Still, it’s got me thinking. The original Terminator was one of the few Hollywood movies to deal with time travel relatively well. How come Hollywood seems to have such difficulty wrestling with such a common science fiction trope?

Warning: thinking about time travel might make your brain melt

Warning: thinking about time travel might make your brain melt

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