TV: 24 – Live Another Day Review (or “One of These Days, The Daleks Will Show Up”)

July 17, 2014

Let me first start off by saying there are spoilers in this review, so if you haven’t seen all of 24 – Live Another Day, then I would suggest you skip it.

Anyway, for those of you who have seen it, here are my thoughts…

24 – Live Another Day Review: What’s It About?

The British widow of an Al-Qaeda commander killed in a drone strike by the US plans on taking over US drones and attacking London with them unless President James Heller – on a state visit to the English Capital – turns himself in.

Naturally Jack Bauer has heard about this and emerges from exile to help stop them.

And sure enough, he’ll kill lots and lots of people to make sure he doesn’t fail.

Also, because this is 24, once that initial threat is over, there’s suddenly a newer, bigger threat than ever before. Oh!!!! Em!!!! Gee!!!!!

24 – Live Another Day Review: Who’s In It?

Apart from the obvious one, 24 – Live Another Day brings back old cast members like the incredibly wooden President Hellerbot (James Devane), his daughter with the face like a soup ladle, Audrey (Kim Raver) and the fidgety and awkward to

"Destroy him! Destroy him at once!!"

“Destroy him! Destroy him at once!!”

watch Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub).

Other than them, major parts go to the likes of Yvonne “Typecast” Strahovski, Steven Fry, Tate Donovan off the O.C. and the most b00-hiss of panto actresses, Michelle Fairley.

Oh, and in terms of minor parts, there’s only bloody Denis Lill as the captain of a Russian ship!! Denis Lill getting TV jobs in 2014; awesome.

24 – Live Another Day Review: My Thoughts

Well in every way, this is the standard 24 formula. Jack Bauer reluctantly emerges to deal with a threat, the local authorities initially mistrust him and  – despite his record in the past – believe he’s fighting for the forces of evil until he proves himself; then the threat becomes critical, it gets stopped just in time, only for another, bigger threat to turn up. Throughout it all, Jack happily slaughters dozens upon dozens of people that he deems unworthy of living while screaming in people’s faces saying “WHERE IS (insert critical piece of information here)” and then just before the end he comes up against some kind of personal tragedy. Oh, and as always, someone working with Jack turns out to be a villain.

But who cares if that’s the formula, it’s a great laugh when it’s done correctly.

And unlike the last couple of seasons of 24 – which seemed to be unimaginative, uninspiring and at times plainly ridiculous – this did manage to get it right.

I’ll be honest; the first few episodes were a wee bit disappointing, and in general the Margot Al-Harazi storyline was let down by Michelle Fairley’s rather dodgy acting skills (cue Game of Thrones fanboys sending me angry emails), but it soon picked up pace.

And by the final quarter when the Chinese turned up, it was just fantastic.

Indeed, the bit where the Chinese showed up was such a great and unexpected swerve, that it reminded me as a Doctor Who fan of the end of episode one of Earthshock where the Cybermen suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The screen grab there reflects that.

So overall, I found it an enjoyable return to form for a series which shows that it still has legs. Long may it continue

Random Observations

  • I laughed at the bit where Heller tells the British Prime Minister “You’d have done the same if roles were reversed”. The understated look of “Don’t think so, mate” on Steven Fry’s face was great.
  • Going back towards the start of the season, was that meant to be the House of Commons Heller was speaking to the MPs in? If so, that was rotten.
  • I find that Yvonne Strahovski just plays the same part in every show now, and I’m getting pretty tired of her. There’s no doubt she’s well suited to playing the intense high action roles she’s cast in, but you’d think she’d try to amend her acting style at least a little bit.
  • At least we won’t see William Devane in the show again. What summed his acting ability up was the way he wandered back aboard Air Force One with a coffin containing his recently deceased daughter, and his emotions and expression were no different than they had been at any point in the show previously.
  • Hey look, it’s Kevin McNally off Dad!
  • I think Cheng Zhi would have been better if he was played by Ken Jeong
  • Do you think Jack will face any kind of enquiry for throwing Margot out that window?
  • You can’t not laugh at the bit where her daughter was hit by that bus.
  • In a real life situation where someone – even the US President – had to get to the centre circle of Wembley Stadium on a night when it was closed, they’d have far more trouble getting access than they did. Inevitably there’ll be some simpleton groundskeeper with the keys who would have come out with the line “I don’t care if you’re the Queen of Sheba mate, you’re not getting in there tonight” 
  • There’s a bit where someone – I think it was Strahovski – tries to get a shell-shocked child to open up to her by offering her a can of Ginger Beer. Ginger Beer? Really? I imagine most children these days would have told her to fuck off.
  • As always with 24, there were plenty of example of people being beaten to within an inch of their life in one hour, and being seemingly fine in the next. You’ve got to love it.
  • Similarly, the ease in which they got through traffic was astounding.
  • 24 simply has to have an episode where the Daleks show up towards the end. Surely you agree with me on that?

 


TV: Murder One Review

July 13, 2014

Back in the mid 1990s, Sky One was one of the best channels available in the UK. Whether it was Games World (anyone remember Big Boy Barry?), The Simpsons (when it was still good) or WWF, there was plenty there to keep me occupied.

Now I can’t even remember the last time I watched Sky One, or what is even on it anymore (I just checked; it’s still The Simpsons, but also Modern Family, and that’s about it).

The point is, it used to be as important a channel to me as BBC One.

And one thing I remember most of all about it back in those days was a TV show I never even watched.

Murder One.

I think what made it such a striking show, purely based on the weekly adverts, was the sight of leading man Daniel Benzali; an actor with a head like a white chocolate Malteser. The vision of him clearly stuck in my mind.

Fast forward nearly 20 years, and I decided to buy the boxed set, based on nothing but those memories of the adverts. I didn’t even check whether it was highly rated before I bought it.

So far, I’ve only seen the first season.

Was it any good?

Murder One: What’s It About?

From the mind of StevenBochco – probably the most famous TV Crime writers in America with hits like Hill Street Blues,NYPD Blue,Columbo (a few episodes at least) and L.A. Law to his credit – Season One of Murder One focuses on the

There's the man with a head like a white chocolate Malteser, Daniel Benzali

There’s the man with a head like a white chocolate Malteser, Daniel Benzali

“Goldilocks Murder Case”, in which famous movie star Neil Avedon is accused of raping and murdering the 15-year-old call-girl, Jessica Costello. Avedon must call upon the help of Defence Attorney Theodore Hoffman and his team to prove his innocence.

But with the millionaire businessman – and alternate suspect – Richard Cross seemingly intent on making the defence’s lives as hard as possible while claiming to be on their side, Hoffman & Associates have their work cut out for them.

Over the course of 23 episodes, the case – from Avedon’s arrest through to his trial – is fully dealt with before the truth is finally revealed.

Murder One: Who’s In It?

The leading man is Hoffman, played by the aforementioned Dr Bunsen made flesh, Daniel Benzali. Other than him, recognisable actors these days would include Mary McCormack (West Wing, In Plain Sight), Stanley Tucci (he makes movies you know) and Gregory Itzin (the rat bastard slimeball President from 24)

Murder One: How Highly Is It Rated?

Murder One is critically acclaimed and has a cult following. In the UK and Europe it was a hugely popular show at the time, but in the US it struggled with ratings, with viewers apparently unable to cope with the season-long story arc format. Those silly Americans…

Right now on imdb, it gets an 8.0 rating.

Murder One: Was It Any Good?

I would say so, yes.

In some respects, Murder One is quite dated. Now that’s not going to come as a shock seeing as it’s 18 years old, but being dated can sometimes work to a show’s advantage. Personally, I love watching old episodes of Columbo, as they have a time capsule like quality to them; it’s like you’re watching a show made in a completely different world. Stuff from the mid-90s though can be dated in a poor way. You look at the outfits, the hairstyles and the production values and think “Urgh, I remember those days”.

Mostly what dates it is the aforementioned production values. The opening credits look extremely old-fashioned, and they are made worse by the attempts at using “hi-tech” CGI. Then there’s the incidental music, which often sounds like something from a Sega Megadrive game. Awful.

As well as that though, the mid 1990s were a time when TV wasn’t taken quite as seriously across the pond as it is now. It feels as though Television acting wasn’t deemed as worthy as the cinema back then, and arguably the reverse is true now. But what that means is that you watch the show and see some examples of acting – like that of Bobbie Philips and Patricia Clarkson, who played Julie Costello and Annie Hoffman respectively – that are so bad, you know that they wouldn’t be deemed acceptable in 2014.

So in those respects, it suffers, but thankfully the good outweighs the bad.

Daniel Benzali and Stanley Tucci are both excellent in their starring roles and bring a sense of authenticity to the part, and while most of the other actors are of a good standard, Gregory Itzin must also get a special mention for being possibly even more unlikable as the slimey District Attorney, Roger Garfield.

Beyond that, the season long story arc is well paced, and though there are the occasional lulls and distractions – like Hoffman’s marital crisis which came out of nowhere – I felt it kept moving smoothly from episode to episode and kept me entertained.

It was also interesting to see court procedure laid out in more detail than you’d usually expect on TV. In particular, I found the episodes dedicated to juror selection intriguing.

Finally, the conclusion to the whole thing kept me guessing, and I found myself pleased to know I hadn’t manage to work out the ending in advance.

Who Should Watch Murder One?

I’d recommend that anyone who enjoys crime drama or long, winding story arcs would enjoy Murder One.

I certainly did.

Give it a shot.


Ten of the Best TV Show Finales of All Time

April 4, 2014

Ok, so since I did an article on 10 of the Worst TV Show Finales of All Time, it’s only fitting that I should do one on 10 of the Best TV Show Finales of All Time too.

Like I said in the last article, some shows could have had tremendous conclusions if they’d only left it at that point. I’m thinking about the likes of Chuck, Only Fools & Horses, Alias and Scrubs, but alas they did nothing of the kind, and they kept going long past the point of exhaustion.

But these 10 shows didn’t.

As always, Spoilers Ahoy!!

1. Blake’s Seven

How Did It End?: In the last episode, Avon and the crew of Scorpio meet up again with Blake. Only Blake is a bad guy! Or is he? A miscommunication leads to Avon shooting Blake dead, and then being ambushed by members of the

And there wasn't a dry eye in the house

And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house

Federation. All of Avon’s team are shot – presumably dead – and the last thing we see is Avon being surrounded by a group of gun-toting bad guys. He raises his gun, smiles to the camera, and as the end credits music is played, we can hear shots being fired.

Why Is That Good?: Because it’s such a fantastic and dramatic way to end the show. They brought back the original lead, killed him off, destroyed Avon’s ship, killed all the crew and it appears as though Avon too has breathed his last. Talk about shocking! And the way we don’t know for sure who was firing all those shots as the end credits rolled made it even better. Did Avon escape? We’ll never know.

2. The Shield

How Did It End?: After being kinda the bad guys all the way through, Vic Mackey and the Strike Team finally get their comeuppance in a dramatic, action packed conclusion to a long story arc (#ArmenianMoneyTrain). Rather than going to prison though, Vic’s punishment is being tied down to a meaningless desk job; his ultimate hell.

Why Is That Good?: Because the drama led somewhere and the right thing happened. The longer the Shield went on, the more the supposed heroes – Strike Team – showed themselves as being pretty horrible blokes. Vic’s punishment was an inventive way of wrapping things up; far more inventive than sending him to jail or killing him off.

3. Friday Night Lights

How Did It End?: Character Arcs were completed, The Coach made the right move by putting his wife’s career first for once, and it finished on a great montage that showed what happened to all the characters. And moreover, it didn’t show what happened at the very end of the final game of the season.

Why Is That Good?: Everything wrapped up nicely and the writers made the right choice when it came to Coach Taylor’s choice of whether to stay in Texas or accept a lesser job to allow his wife to pursue her dreams for once.

4. The Office (UK)

How Did It End?: Everyone got the happy ending they wanted.

Why Is That Good?: Because a happy ending once in a while is the right thing to do, and the finale to the UK version of the Office did it better than almost any other show. Just when you thought Tim and Dawn wouldn’t get together, they did, and at last David Brent stuck up for himself against Finch. A perfect way to end the show at Christmas.

5. The Office (US)

How Did It End?: A few months after the documentary is released, Dwight & Angela get married, Jim & Pam move away and Michael returns briefly but in a way that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the cast.

Why Is That Good?: Pretty much the same reasons as the UK version. It just seemed like the right time and place for the show to end, and it was well handled.

6. Breaking Bad

How Did It End?: Walt dies killing the bad guys and saves Jesse’s life.

With the odds against them, could Angel and his crew survive? We never found out, and that's a good thing

With the odds against them, could Angel and his crew survive? We never found out, and that’s a good thing

Why Is That Good?: The finale to Breaking Bad is a bit different to other shows in that the finale itself wasn’t meant to be sentimental or shocking on an individual level, but it was the end to a story-arc that had built up from the moment the show started. Everything that happened before it was key to getting the characters to where they were in the last episode. There were no cop-outs and no disappointments; this was the only way Breaking Bad could end, and it did not disappoint.

7. The West Wing

How Did It End?: With the handover of power from the Bartlett Administration to the Santos one.

Why Is That Good?: Because it was time for the show to end. Had it gone on for a few more years with a mostly new cast, it would eventually have just petered out and died. This was the right time for it to end. And when watching it, I knew that it was the right time for it to go. It didn’t outstay its welcome.

8. Angel

How Did It End?: A bit like Blake’s Seven. Angel and the remaining members of his team are trapped and under attack with practically no chance of survival. Can they do it? We never find out; all we know is that they try.

Why Is That Good?: Again, it’s a shocking way for the show to end; this was not the type of TV show that needed a flippant, cheery conclusion. And just like Blake’s Seven, it left you to speculate as to what happened.

9. Ashes to Ashes

How Did It End?: Both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes are explained in this gripping and dramatic final episode.

A fitting end to a great series

A fitting end to a great series

Why Is That Good?: Because unlike Life on Mars, it explained what exactly was going on to the viewer, and it did so in a way that satisfied. The scene outside the “pub” at the end was moving and the way each character’s storyline is dealt with properly was executed perfectly.

10. Blackadder Goes Forth

How Did It End?: The troops in the front line are at last faced with the reality that they must go over the top and into battle.

Why Is That Good?: I think everyone loves the way Blackadder Goes Forth ends; it’s just so emotional and moving, and yet it still manages to retain the comedy element. The final shots of the troops going over the top and then the cut in of the poppy fields probably brought home the realities of the First World War to a whole new generation. Superb.


How I Met Your Mother Serves Up The Most Unsatisfying Ending To A TV Show Ever (Finale Spoilers)

April 1, 2014

Ok, so if the title of this article wasn’t enough to make you realise that this will contain spoilers for the finale of How I Met Your Mother, then consider yourself definitively warned now…

Last night in the US, after 9 seasons and 208 episodes, How I Met Your Mother came to an end.

Now you know that I’d long since grown tired of this show – a show which just hasn’t been even semi-consistently funny for two or three years at least and had only one good episode in its final season – but I still saw it through to the bitter end as I’m a completist and I wanted the fucking payoff.

And what is the payoff to a TV series called How I Met Your Mother? It’s him meeting the mother. That’s it; nothing else.

Is that what we got, and was I happy with it?

Two answer those questions in order, “Yes and No” and “Absolutely Not”

The Most Unsatisfying Ending To a TV Show Ever

The very last episode of How I Met Your Mother was actually going quite well I thought.

Ted and The Mother Finally Meet, But Fuck You Viewers,  She's Already Dead

Ted and The Mother Finally Meet, But Fuck You Viewers, She’s Already Dead

In terms of character development and progression, the show had arguably been stuck in a rut since the Wedding was first shown back in episode 113 of 208 in September 2010, but now things were moving, and moving at pace.

While seeing Robin & Barney divorce was a very firm kick in the teeth to anyone who had endured the rest of the ninth season – set as it was for 23 mind-numbing episodes over one single weekend – it at least seemed to give their characters a bit of closure. Barney finally found love in having a child and Robin had a good career.

Lily & Marshall meanwhile continued to grow their family and we also saw plenty of interesting bits like the gradual breakup of the group over the years; something that inevitably happens a lot in real life.

And as it bounded back and forth between Ted finally meeting the mother for the first time and flashforwards to how their lives developed, it just – as I said above – felt good to see the show moving again after being stagnant for so long.

The first meeting, when it finally happened, was nicely written.

And I’d have been happy with that. That’s where it should have ended. It would have been a fitting end.

But to have Ted – and I should say Josh Radnor and not “Future Ted”  aka the voice of Bob Saget, which made no sense considering Saget was still narrating up until that moment – then finish the story by saying to the viewer “Lolz, she’s dead” and for his kids to then say “Oh dad, you’ve only been telling us this because you really love Aunt Robin; feel free to go and shag her since mum’s been dead for six years” just felt insulting and actually rage inducing.

How is that a good ending? Seriously?

Oh don’t get me wrong, it could have been a clever ending if the show had only run for two or three seasons, and it was interesting that they’d filmed that ending years earlier, but things had moved on, characters had developed, fan expectations had changed and it was no longer a valid or acceptable way to end the series.

Ted & Robin didn’t work. So many times we’d seen them realise that they were not meant to be together and in the last season alone, there were two supposedly final ends to any hope some people may have had that they’d end up together. It was a long since exhausted story arc.

Nine seasons in, the viewers of How I Met Your Mother just wanted to see Ted meet the mother.

And since she had popped up in flash forwards and flashbacks and since it appeared as though she was a nice person and that her and Ted were genuinely well suited to each other, why not just end the show like that?

I just find myself really irritated by the whole thing, and I’m not the only one.

Sure, there are other issues like why Marshall & Lily didn’t age as fast as previous flash forwards had suggested and why Ted bothered to even tell a 100th of that story to his kids, but the big one is that it’s just a terrible ending. Even worse than LOST.

And from looking at the amount of negative feedback from fans and reviewers alike (I think IGN is about the only site to give it the thumbs up), it seems as though I’m not alone.

Now if I was asked by friends if How I Met Your Mother is worth watching, I’d tell them to avoid the rest of Season Nine entirely and probably just skip to the last episode after the fifth season to avoid disappointment.

Because that’s what they’ll have if they don’t.

 


Movies: Veronica Mars Review (or “One For Older Viewers, But Probably Not New Ones”)

March 21, 2014

In my list of the Top 50 TV Dramas of all time, I ranked Veronica Mars at a respectable #28, so the news that a Kickstarter-funded movie was on its way in 2014 was welcomed by me.

Anyone who watched the show will remember that it didn’t exactly finish on a satisfactory note, with the show’s late cancellation meaning the last episode felt more like a cliffhanger than a conclusion.

But seven years have passed, so it’s not like they can just pick up where they left off. So how would they deal with that?

And then there’s the possibility that in a bid to satisfy all the fans, the film could end up just being one that wallows in nostalgia rather than seeks to work well in its own right.

The only way to find out if that was true was to watch it.

Veronica Mars Review: What’s It About?

10 years on from leaving school, former PI Veronica Mars has crafted a good life for herself in New York and is just about to start a new job working for a top legal firm.vmars

But when she finds out her ex boyfriend Logan has been accused of murder, she must go back to her home town of Neptune to prove his innocence.

Meanwhile, it just so happens that it’s her school’s 10 Year Class Reunion. What a lovely coincidence.

Oh, and for some reason, Neptune is also under the control of what seems to be a corrupt, almost post-apocalyptic police force. Ok then…

Veronica Mars Review: Who’s In It?

Pretty much everyone who was in the TV series and didn’t die, except for the Kane family. Obviously Kristen Bell stars.

Veronica Mars Review: How Highly Is It Rated?

It’s mixed. Wherever there’s an aggregate score based on votes, it does well, and that’ll no doubt be because of fanboys.

In the press meanwhile, some like it and others don’t.

Thoughts – Like An Extended Episode

Whenever a TV series gets made into a movie, you have to wonder whether or not it’ll work for new viewers. I suppose you could ask yourself who would bother to see a film based on a TV series they haven’t watched, but then I remember being forced to watch Serenity having never seen an episode of Firefly in my life. I found it boring and confusing; like starting to read a book from the middle.

And I guess that’s a bit of a problem with the Veronica Mars movie.

It’s been some time since I’d seen the TV show, so I can’t remember too much of it, and I’m certainly not a dyed in the wool fanboy, but I quickly got to grips with who the characters were and much of what I needed to know came flooding back.

Having said that, there’s no doubt that many of the cameos were unnecessary, and some of the plot was a bit tenuous.

I mean, why did the local Sheriff have to be the brother of the old one? What did that add to the film? And of all the characters who were in it, the only ones from the original series that actually needed to be there were Veronica, her dad and her ex boyfriend.

Having former classmates and friends drop in to say “Hi” didn’t add much.

Then again, this is a film that only exists because fans invested in it. So if that’s what they want, then it’s fair enough.

However, it does then set itself up as being something that is for the fans rather than for everyone. Really, in terms of pacing – and I suppose budget and production quality – this was just like an extended TV episode.

Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you. I was fine with it.

The Plot

Where I would take an issue with Veronica Mars though is in the plot, or at least the sub-plots.

The Who-Dunnit storyline was good enough, but the angry, evil police stuff just made no sense. Characters were killed, others were shot and the whole point of it was…well I’m not sure?

And it wasn’t even that it was resolved either, which seemed weird.

Maybe they are setting themselves up for a sequel?

But that area was definitely lacking.

Veronica Mars Review: Final Thoughts

So on the whole, I’d say that this was fine; not spectacular, but watchable and fun.

What it is, is a love letter by the fans to themselves. Since they are the ones who paid for it, I suppose it would be asking t0o much for it not to be heavy on the nostalgia.

As such – in spite of the studio’s attempt to make it something for everyone by providing a brief summary of the entire plot of the TV show narrated by Bell  in the first minute – I would say that you should only bother with this if you’ve seen and enjoyed the TV show.

If you haven’t, then watch the TV show first and then watch it.


Jonathan Creek Series 5 Review (or “Could They Recapture The Magic?”)

March 14, 2014

If you’ve read my Top 50 TV Dramas article series – available to view in the Index section of the site – you’ll see how highly I rate Jonathan Creek.

Without question, it’s one of my favourite TV shows of all time.

So it came as good news to me that there would be a new season of the show this year. Of course, it wasn’t a long season – running for only three episodes – but it was still a season, and that was to be cherished after a mere three episodes in total over the last 10 years.

Whenever a show like this comes back after a reasonably long absence, you do have to wonder if it could still hit the right notes, especially when you consider there had been another cast change – Sheridan Smith and Stuart Milligan were not returning, leaving Creek’s wife, played by Sarah Alexander, to be his sidekick – and the magic advisor to the series and inspiration for so many of the mysteries, Ali Bongo, had long since died.

I decided to wait until the season ended before reporting back with my opinions.

Jonathan Creek Series 5 Review: ThoughtsCreek

I should preface this by saying that at the same time as these episodes have aired, I’ve been watching the show from the very beginning, so no doubt my opinions will be influenced by that. However, I’d say that was a valuable thing. If you watch an episode of one of your favourite TV shows after only getting three new episodes in the past decade, you might be inclined to look at it with an unnaturally positive outlook.

Comparing the old shows with the new ones I think gives a greater sense of perspective.

And though it pains me to say it, that perspective leads me to the conclusion that Season 5 just hasn’t been that good.

But why is that?

Well, there are some obvious problems, and I’ll break them down into bullet points for you…

  1. Messing With The Format: Whether it was the first episode operating like a Columbo – i.e. it was a “How Solved It?” rather than a “Who Done It?” – or whether it was the change from Creek being a magician’s assistant living in a windmill to a stuffy marketing executive solving minor mysteries in somewhere like Midsomer, it just didn’t work so well. Jonathan Creek is at its best when the mystery is the main event, but this time around, David Renwick seemed to want the mystery to be a side attraction to the comedy show he really wanted to write, and that leads me to…
  2. It Was Written Like A Half Hearted Episode of One Foot In The Grave: Just watch the interactions between Jonathan and his wife Polly, and the way they seem to land themselves in awkward situations and you just feel you’re watching an episode of Renwick’s other big show, One Foot In The Grave. Sarah Alexander’s character especially is written and performed almost exactly like Annette Crosbie’s Margaret Meldrew. Now sure, on the one hand that led to some humorous moments, but it didn’t suit the show we were actually watching, and the actors were neither able to, nor supposed to play it like it was a sitcom. Why? Because Jonathan Creek is not a sitcom. Some of the set pieces – like the bit from last week’s episode where Jonathan accidentally helps the burglars – was copied straight out of One Foot. I was just sitting there waiting for him to accidentally kill a tortoise or find a wig inside a loaf of bread.
  3. No Chemistry Between The Leads: Sarah Alexander’s character worked in her debut episode because she wasn’t playing Alan Davies’s sidekick. The idea of the wife who has tried to domesticate Jonathan while Joey leads him astray was great. Having her drain the life out of our hero to the point where he doesn’t seem interested in the mysteries just made the whole thing feel flat. You didn’t even get the impression the characters liked each other, although considering they’re married, maybe that’s realistic, eh?
  4. The Mysteries Were Weak And Took Too Long To Get Going: When the legacy of the show includes clever tricks that kept you guessing until the reveal – as was the case in episodes like Jack In The Box, The Black Canary and…well…almost all the episodes  – stuff like how a man wrote down a lottery number years earlier, or how a watch got into someone’s bed just seemed limp. And more to the point, they took far too long to get going. In the second episode, The Sinner & The Sandman, nearly half the episode was gone, wasted on “hilarious” town hall meetings and stuff involving a vicar’s wife thinking Jonathan was talking about wanking when he wasn’t, before they even started the mystery. I think this was the poorest point of all.

But surely it wasn’t all bad?

No, it wasn’t, of course it wasn’t. In the main, I enjoyed all three episodes, but there’s no doubt that the overall quality had declined, especially when directly compared to the older shows.

Can it be turned around? I would say so, but it needs to get back to having Creek solving proper mysteries. It’s fine that he’s moved on with his life and is an older, married man now, but you can still retain the essence of what made it good in the first place.

Let’s hope it’s given a chance to do that, and considering it still gets very high ratings by today’s standards and there’s an appetite from all concerned to make it happen, I’d like to think it will.

What did you think? Let me know.

 


Stuart’s Entertainment Review Feb 10 (Including 2 Broke Girls, Community, Scandal & WWE)

February 10, 2014

It’s time for a long overdue Entertainment Review (or in particular, TV Review)

2 Broke Girls: I started watching this in spite of warnings not to from people on Twitter. I’m glad I did, because it’s brilliant. Sure, it’s never going to win any awards for subtle humour, but unlike the sort of show you’ll find on BBC3, this

Better than many give it credit for

Better than many give it credit for

 

show manages to be quite clever along with the sledgehammer-esque crude jokes. It’s not rude for the sake of it, and it has a direction and plot.

The cast is pretty good too. Although I initially looked at the performances of the likes of Beth Behrs, Matthew Moy and Jennifer Coolidge and winced, I soon realised that was part of the charm.

Top stuff. If you haven’t given it a go, do so.

Celebrity Big Brother: Another show that gets looked down upon by the masses, Celebrity Big Brother was immense this year. While people will look at it and think of Big Brother as a tired old concept, the fact is that with the right group of people in the house, it’ll never get old. That’s where Channel 4 and Channel 5 have gone wrong in the past, filling the house with wannabees and try-hards rather than people who have a little bit of depth and interest in them.

So while I didn’t bother with the previous CBB for more than a few days because it focused on crap like the girl from Geordie Shore pissing the bed and Lauren Harries being…well…Lauren Harries, this edition actually had decent people in it.

More importantly, it had good storylines too. Jim Davidson’s war with Coleen Nolan & Louisa Zussman was epic, while the love triangle with that cad Lee Ryan and the two girls whose names I’ve now forgotten also provided a bit of drama.

And let’s face it, who ever thought you’d see the visual of Lionel Blair dressed in PVC aggressively shouting “Suck my dick” at someone. Class.

The best thing about it was that neither Sam Faiers nor Ollie Locke won, thus proving the general public has a sense of free will.

Community: Community’s back! Yay! And all the signs are that in spite of the departures of Chevy Chase and Donald Glover, the return of original show runner Dan Harmon has brought with it an increase in quality on Season 4.

It’s not like Season 4 was bad, but it certainly wasn’t as good as it had been in the past.

The only thing I’d like is if there were more “normal” episodes rather than deliberately “Meta” ones.

The Musketeers: Tried it, fell asleep. Didn’t bother to watch it again.

Scandal: Considering I think Grey’s Anatomy is one of the greatest TV shows ever (and I don’t care if that loses me man points, because it is) it’s strange that I hadn’t given Shonda Rhimes’ political fixer drama a go before now. But now that I have, I’m glad. It’s another (mostly) well written TV show that does a great job on cliffhangers. Almost every episode ends with some startling revelation or event that makes you want to watch the next episode immediately.

What drags it down though is the relationship between main character Olivia Pope and the President of the United States. Their tiresome love affair hasn’t moved along an inch in the near two seasons I’ve seen, and yet every…single…episode involves a scene where they stare longingly at each other while that same irritating piece of incidental music plays over it.

Since I’m not up to date with it yet, I don’t know if it has moved forward or not, but my attitude right now to it is “Shit or get off the pot”.

The thing is, it’s like Rhimes thinks that a TV show won’t appeal to people – or more likely to women of a certain demographic – unless there’s a love story in there. And while Grey’s Anatomy has that too, I can count on one hand the amount of episodes where that becomes more important than the medical drama side of things.

With Scandal it’s too often the centre point.

I’d sooner it focussed on Huck killing more people in morally ambiguous ways.

WWE: Right now, WWE is fascinating to watch because of the turmoil surrounding it.

I don't know whether to boo or yawn

I don’t know whether to boo or yawn

Fans are openly rejecting the product on offer by booing the people the writers want them to cheer, and cheering those that they’d rather they didn’t.

The recent Royal Rumble almost became uncomfortable to watch. The guy the crowd unanimously wanted to win the Rumble match wasn’t even in it, and when the final entrant came in and they realised this, they booed. And booed. And booed some more. And when it was over, the guy who won it – who was supposed to the returning hero – was met with almost feral levels of hostility.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest stars in the company – CM Punk – appears to have quit without warning and the whole situation has left management scrambling for ways to sort things out in time for the upcoming Wrestlemania 30 (or as they’ve stupidly called it, Wrestlemania XXX, which is probably already commercially available as a porno).


Stuart Reviews Stuff 2013 Entertainment Awards

January 9, 2014

2013 was a transitional year for media.

Plenty of terrific TV shows came to an end, while the gaming industry moved on to its next generation.

But what came out on top and what failed to cut the mustard?

Here’s my take on 2013.

Films

At the cinema in 2013, I saw the following films…

The Impossible, Django Unchained, Lincoln, Flight, Hitchcock, Wreck-It Ralph, Side Effects, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Behind the Candelabra, Rush, Thor: Dark World, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr Banks

A wonderful cinematic experience

A wonderful cinematic experience

and Frozen.

Surprisingly enough that means I got value out of my Unlimited Card. Huzzah!

What’s not surprising though is the seasonal pattern of good films to bad. From January to March you get good films, then in the spring and summer months there’s nothing but big budget dross, and then things improve again around October.

I suppose that’s just the nature of the industry though.

But what came out on top?

Well for a long time it looked like Side Effects would take the prize, but it was knocked off the no.1 spot late on by…

Best Film: Gravity

Both in terms of story and visualisation, Gravity was superb. Sometimes a film can be a work of art, and this is exactly that.

The only thing that will go against it is that I doubt it’ll seem have as impressive when watching it home on your own TV.

Runner Up: Side Effects

While the likes of Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks ran it close, I thought Side Effects was the best story of the year. I went in not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by what I described as a “Modern Day Hitchcock film”.

Worst Film: Man of Steel

I’ve had many a debate with friends and acquaintances over this, but I just thought it was garbage. Utter dross. Who wants to watch two blokes no-selling each other for an hour in yet another “epic” fight scene where a city gets destroyed? Big fucking whoop.

Runner Up: Lincoln

Over long and ultra dull.

Biggest Surprise: Frozen

I went to Frozen on a whim one afternoon in December and was taken aback by how good it was. A strong music score, beautiful animation and a fun plot.

Biggest Disappointment: Hitchcock

It should have been so much better.

Television

To give awards for television shows is a bit of an odd one for me.

I tend to wait until a show has already started and has achieved some critical success before giving it a go.

So while this year, two of my favourite “new” shows have been Luther and New Girl, neither are actually new.

On a similar note, this year I also got into plenty of other old shows thanks to NetFlix. So while the likes of Cracker, Forbrydelsen, Californication and Suits aren’t new, these are the types of show that have commanded my attention.

In terms of actual new TV, I gave the first episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D a go and was seriously underwhelmed, while I’ve put the good-on-the-face-of-it Sleepy Hollow on the back-burner until it has enough episodes for me to have a binge watch.

Really, the only standout show that debuted this year that I can think of right now is House of Cards, which was excellent. Well…that and the preposterous Under the Dome.

So here are some alternative TV Awards…

The “Ruined A Sure Thing” Award goes to Arrested Development.

Like any true fan, I watched the Arrested Development NetFlix season with hopeful optimism. I wanted to love it, and in my review I was quite complimentary, though still had reservations. It’s been almost a year now since it was released

and in retrospect I can say it was a bit of a cock-up. Arrested Development’s biggest strength was the interaction between the members of the Bluth Family, and that’s the thing they decided to strip away from the new episodes. Sure, there

Aaaaah!!! It's The Eighth Doctor!!!!!!!

Aaaaah!!! It’s The Eighth Doctor!!!!!!!

were still plenty of amusing moments, but it could have seen so, so much better.

The “Damp Squib” Award goes to the final season of Dexter

I mean…come on. I still liked it, but compared to the drama of other seasons, this was crap. The season was filled with pointless storylines that went nowhere – such as Masuka’s daughter and Quinn’s attempts to become sergeant – and Dexter’s own fate just felt like a cop-out, or as Dundonians would say, a “Wet pump”.

The “So Bad It’s Amazing” Award goes to Revenge.

Revenge is over the top, dodgily acted, ridiculously plotted and just sort of crap, but I love it.

The “What The Hell Am I Watching Here?!” Award goes to the Doctor Who episode “The Crimson Horror”

Doctor Who fans are a positive bunch…well…they used to be. It’s not often I’ll watch an episode of Doctor Who and hate it – it’s my favourite TV show after all – but The Crimson Horror was just insultingly bad.

The “Now That’s How You Do A Final Season” Award goes to Breaking Bad

Everything about the final season of Breaking Bad was spot on. Having Walter & Hank face off at the end of the first episode was a masterstroke, and it just ramped up and up until the exhilarating finale. Dexter writers, take note!

The Funniest Television Moment of the Year goes to The Dead Daughter Argument from Big Brother

Just watch. Honest to God…

Coolest Television Moment of the Year goes to Night of the Doctor

Because it’s a new Paul McGann Doctor Who episode in 2013. Superb.

The “Just Fucking End” Award goes to How I Met Your Mother

Drawing out an entire season of that shit over the course of three days in the characters lives just feels like the writers are kicking us in the nuts for fun now.

Worst Television Character goes to Luke from Modern Family

The boy stumbles over his lines in every scene and drags down an otherwise good show. The runner-up to that, by the way, would be Raj from The Big Bang Theory, who hasn’t had an even half-way decent storyline for a few years now.

Best TV Theme goes to New Girl

Got to love a catchy and cheery tune.

The “I Don’t See How They Can Come Back From This” Award goes to The Newsroom

It’s not that the writers have written themselves into a corner in terms of a character dying or something like that, but the last episode of Newsroom’s second season neatly wrapped up every storyline. Where does the show go from here?

And finally, the Best Television Moment of 2013 goes to the return of 9 missing Doctor Who episodes. #Omnirumour

Obviously. And there’s a great chance things could get even better on that score in 2014. Fantastic.

Video Games

Like I said in my intro, 2013 was a transitional year for the gaming industry. The old veteran consoles – the Xbox 360 and PS3 – made way for the Xbox One and PS4. Meanwhile, Nintendo suffered from poor market share due to the initially threadbare title selection for the Wii U.

Late in the year, I took the plunge and bought both a Wii U and a PS4, which surprised me. But Microsoft really cocked up their Xbox One launch with all that nonsense about licenses for games etc. I think they backtracked, but it was too late; I’d already made my mind up.

2013 was also another year for cheap gaming in the Steam Sales. So it’s inevitable that I’m now in a position where I have a huge backlog of games that I’ve bought but just haven’t had the time to play.

Unsurprisingly, for the most part my gaming was the standard mix of FIFA, Call of Duty Multiplayer and Football Manager, but there have been other games that have grabbed my attention too, both in a good and bad way.

Easily 2013's best game

Easily 2013’s best game

Best Game of 2013 goes to Super Mario 3D World

When they are on form, no other video game developers in the land can touch Nintendo. I mean, do they ever do a bad game?

Super Mario 3D World is superb and has rightly won game of the year awards from most reviewers. It’s sleek, looks great and is just a joy to play.

But I’d still prefer it if it was structured like Mario 64…

Worst Game of 2013 goes to Bioshock Infinite

I’m sorry, but I just cannot get on board with the hype. The ultimate in style over substance, this felt like a game that wanted to give the impression it was open world, but really wasn’t. Poor on all scores for me.

Biggest Gaming Disappointment goes to Halo 4

Though this came out in 2012, I played it in 2013 and instantly regretted the purchase. The Halo franchise is the proverbial dead horse being flogged. They ended it nicely in Halo 3, then brought it back again with the same tiresome villains and visuals.

Console of the Year goes to the Wii U

Like I said above, when it came out there weren’t too many games available for the Wii U. It’s a little bit cumbersome and it doesn’t have the graphical prowess of a PS4 or Xbox One, but right now, the Wii U has a killer lineup of solid – mostly Nintendo made – titles that any gamer could enjoy.

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Feel free to get involved in the debate.


Doctor Who – An Adventure in Space and Time Review (or “If You’re Going To Do Nostalgia, Go All In”)

November 22, 2013

It’s Doctor Who Anniversary Week which means there’s plenty of Who related stuff on TV, Radio and in the press.

Other than the main event, the Day of the Doctor, what I’ve been looking forward to is An Adventure in Space and Time, the biopic of the origins of the show and William Hartnell’s tenure as the lead character.

The show has been broadcast, the reviews are in, and on the whole the thoughts are that it was a resounding success. One particular Superfan – you know who I’m on about, I’m sure – declared that it was the best piece of drama in television history, no less. Naturally, this is not a man who engages in hyperbole; oh no.

But what did I think about it?

Read on…

Doctor Who – An Adventure in Space and Time Review: Thoughts

While the majority of reviews have given it five stars – indeed I haven’t seen any lower than that – I wouldn’t give it quite as much credit.

Yes, it was very enjoyable, and as a piece of TV drama – which I suppose it the point of it rather than a documentary – it hit the spot.

Most of the actors were very well cast, with the star of the show in my opinion being Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert.

Indeed, Raine’s portrayal of Lambert was the main strength of the show. Well…that and the nostalgic reconstruction of the sets and costumes.

And despite being around 90 minutes long, I felt it flew by. So I was happy with it mainly.

But I didn’t think it was as good as it could have been, and here’s why…

If You’re Going To Do Nostalgia, Do It Right

I suspect that I might get some flak in my direction for being as nit-picking as I’m going to be, but to me, if you’re going to do nostalgia, do it right.

As much as I'd love to let the error of having a 1965 Doctor Who annual on display during the filming of the Reign of Terror slide, I just can't.

As much as I’d love to let the error of having a 1965 Doctor Who annual on display during the filming of the Reign of Terror slide, I just can’t.

In many ways, An Adventure in Space and Time got it right. It was cool seeing actors dressed as Menoptera or original Cybermen, just like it was good to see some actors cast because of their resemblance to the people they were playing.

But I don’t think you could expect anything less when it’s been so lovingly brought together by a Doctor Who fan like Mark Gatiss.

The thing is though, you would expect Gatiss to get some basic parts right.

For example, you might say I’m being hyper-critical for pointing it out, but having David Bradley hold up the 1965 Doctor Who annual, complete with a picture of a Menoptera on the front, whilst filming the Reign of Terror is just sloppy as far as I’m concerned.

Similarly, why have Verity Lambert leave during the filming of the Web Planet when the truth was she left after Mission to the Unknown. Was it just to get the Menoptera costumes in? Surely it would have been more fun to try to recreate the costumes of the Delegates from MTTU?

If this was any other TV show, I wouldn’t notice, and I have no doubt that the average viewer neither noticed nor cared. But again, we’re talking about Doctor Who, one of the most written about shows of all time with some of the most passionate fans. You just know that people will notice, so why go out of your way to make things incorrect? I just don’t get it.

It’s actually making me feel autistic, because I know that it’s a small thing, but it just seems so willfully wrong. Mark Gatiss will have seen these issues himself after all.

Anyway, on a similar note, one thing that bugged me was David Bradley’s performance. Again, don’t get me wrong, he was mostly brilliant, and looked and acted like William Hartnell to a scary degree, but then on the other hand, he got things carelessly incorrect.

I’m not an actor, but if I was and I was doing an impression of William Hartnell, I’d look at the tapes and I’d make sure I got stuff spot on. So take his attempt at the “One day, I shall come back” speech. How difficult would it be to mimic the way Hartnell spoke those lines? They are, after all, some of the most iconic lines in Doctor Who history and were actually repeated at the end of the show. Yet Bradley almost seems to go out of his way to say the lines with different tones and inflections. I mean, why go to all the trouble of having William Russell and Jacqueline Hill standing there in their exact outfits and having everything dressed up the way it was and ruin it by having Bradley say the critical lines in a totally different way?!

None of the other issues, like dropping in lines about “This old body of mine…” and “I don’t want to go” bother me at all, despite some people getting up in arms about them. But that to me shows the double standards at work here. Why add stuff in specifically to get a cheap pop from the viewers and then do other stuff so clearly wrong? Very frustrating.

Anyway, beyond that, it was good, but those parts brought the whole thing down for me.

*sigh*

*sigh*

Random Observations

  • In terms of the main cast, the one major letdown was the guy playing William Russell. He was nothing like him, neither in looks nor acting style. When you compare him to the way the girl playing Carole Ann Ford went out of her way to sound like her, even though she came across a little bit over the top at times, he was desperately poor.
  • And indeed, the use of Russell and Hill in general were poor. You wouldn’t think they were important players in Doctor Who’s formative years at all based on this.
  • I did like that they tirelessly recreated the problems with the Pilot episode, like the TARDIS doors opening and shutting and the issues with the Doctor being too gruff.
  • But again, with one hand they give and with the other they take away. I seriously doubt the Doctor was originally conceived as being 600 years old, especially when the Pilot had then written as being from a specific point in Earth’s future.
  • Here’s something else that confused me…they went to the trouble to recreate the last scene of The Firemaker, but then had a discussion about potential future stories. Now, I could be wrong here, but surely The Dead Planet was written and all set to go by the time The Firemaker was filmed? The episodes directly link to each other.
  • Poor old Ray Cusick; overlooked again.
  • I liked the appearance of Matt Smith towards the end; I actually think that added to the show a lot.
  • Only when reading the cast list did I notice Mark Eden played the BBC Controller. That was a nice touch.
  • I’m aware Carole Ann Ford is in this, but I’ll have to watch it again to spot her.
  • While I applaud the casting department for finding someone who looked a lot like Maureen O’Brien, even though she only appeared for around 10 seconds, I suspect their enthusiasm for finding look-alikes had long since gone by the time they cast some random bloke as Michael Craze.
  • It would have been nice for the show to have included Hartnell’s return in the Three Doctors, although dramatically it probably had no merit.
  • Wouldn’t “An Adventure in Time and Space” have been a better title?

Doctor Who – An Adventure in Space and Time Review: Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that there’s plenty to like about An Adventure in Space and Time. I enjoyed it a lot, and like I said earlier, the time just flew by.

But I just can’t get past the way they’ve been so meticulous in some respects and so willfully sloppy in others. The people in charge will have known the issues fine, and they’ll also have known that plenty of people out there would have spotted them too.

So that puts a dampener on it for me.

Only a little bit though.


Doctor Who – The Web of Fear and Enemy of the World Rediscovered Review (or “Do Opinions Change?”)

October 13, 2013

A couple of weeks ago on September 30th, I finally reached the end of my marathon Doctor Who review project. From An Unearthly Child through to The Name of the Doctor, I’d seen and written about them all. Sure, I knew I’d be writing about the two episodes still to come this year, but if you’d told me that less than two weeks later, I’d be writing about The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear having had a chance to watch them both in an almost entirely complete manner, I’d have declared you bonkers.

Of course, I’d heard the rumours of the massive haul of recovered material that was due to start with the staggered release of those two stories plus Marco Polo, so although I was thrilled to see them return, I wasn’t shocked about that. But lets put this into perspective; The Underwater Menace Episode 2 was announced to have been returned to the archives almost two years ago and we still haven’t seen it officially released (which is not to say I haven’t seen it *nudge nudge wink wink*) so the idea that these two stories would be announced and released in such short order seemed like fantasy.

But here we are.

Apart from Web of Fear part 3, the most valuable episode of the lot, which has…erm…”mysteriously” not come back with the rest of the episodes (make of that what you will), these two stories are now complete and we’ve all had a chance to see them.

Incredible.

Well done to Philip Morris for finding them and well done to the BBC for their iTunes strategy. Seeing as the episodes are charting world-wide, they must have made a ton of money on them, which shows that there’s an appetite for missing material from fans.

Anyway, having watched the two stories, has my opinion of them changed?

I’m not going to do full reviews of either here, because when I watched them, I wasn’t in the mindset to pick up minute detail; I just wanted to enjoy them as a viewer rather than a reviewer.

But here are my initial impressions.

Doctor Who – The Web of Fear Recovery Review: What Did I Say About It In My Initial Review?

In my original review of The Web of Fear, which you can read here, I finished off by saying

Unlike some stories which I truly believe would not be considered as good if they survived (The Celestial Toymaker being the most obvious example, but I would perhaps controversially suggest Evil of the Daleks too), I don’t think that about the Web of Fear.

It is a classic story that works in the form of the reconstruction, but it would be even better if it survived. If it did, it would be held up as the ultimate Base Under Siege story, considered the real birth of the 70s Unit story and probably thought of as one of the top 10 stories of all time.

Without question, this is one to check out, reconstruction and all.

Doctor Who – The Web of Fear Recovery Review: What Do I Think About It Now?

The most startling thing about my viewing of The Web of Fear was that it didn’t seem to get massively better by watching it in almost its full glory.

While there wasn't much new from a visual standpoint in Web of Fear, seeing the Web (or the Foam Machine) in action was cool

While there wasn’t much new from a visual standpoint in Web of Fear, seeing the Web (or the Foam Machine) in action was cool

Now before you accuse me of being underwhelmed by it, I absolutely wasn’t. I thought it was as good and I rate it as highly as I did before.

But what was interesting was that when you put it against the other recoveries of the last 20 years, this is probably the one find that doesn’t feel “New”.

Why is that?

Well think of it like this…

Whether it’s Tomb of the Cybermen, The Lion, The Day of Armageddon, Airlock or Episode Two of the Underwater Menace, they’ve all seemed completely fresh. We were getting to experience new sets, new performances and a completely new visual experience.

With the Web of Fear, apart from a handful of additions, the recovered episodes mainly take place in the same sets as the previously existing first episode and mostly have the same actors.  Really, the majority of the story involves people in dark rooms standing around talking to each other.

So if you’ve seen the reconstruction as many times as I have – and to be absolutely fair to it, the reconstruction was very, very good and managed to capture most of the key facial expressions throughout – the recovery feels like being reacquainted with an old friend rather than seeing something completely new.

There are some exciting bits that turn the fanboy-o-meter up to maximum geekery though, like the brilliant fight scene in Covent Garden. Now that’s something that the reconstruction just couldn’t do justice. It was exciting, and I think it is truly an iconic moment in Doctor Who that had been pretty much forgotten about. I certainly had no idea about just how cool it was. People talk about the Daleks in Trafalgar Square or The Cybermen walking down the steps in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, but this is right up there with it. Beautiful.

Incidentally, did you notice the guy who played Charlie Slater in Eastenders looking exactly the same then as he does now?

Seeing the episodes properly also allowed us to see the Web itself, which wasn’t in Episode One in the tunnels at least. In some respects it looked a bit ropey (such as when Jamie and Lethbridge Stewart opened that door to find giant bubble wrap on the other side) but the sight of the web flooding into the base at the end of Episode Five was very well done for the time.

The last notable bit that the recovered episodes managed to bring to life better was the final confrontation scene. Sure, it has exposed the Yeti as being blokes wearing outfits with massive visible zips on them, but it was still cool.

Perhaps the only thing that I was disappointed about was that there weren’t any visible cues that had been lost to reconstruction to suggest Staff Sgt. Arnold was the Great Intelligence’s body all along.

To me, it’s never made 100% clear whether he was always under the control of the GI or if it happened after he disappeared into the web. I know there was a scene early on where he implies that he knows The Doctor isn’t with the Yeti, but I’d have preferred more.

In the end though, I thought it was very good, but I don’t think my overall opinion of the story has changed any as a result of its rediscovery. It’s exactly as good as I thought it would be,

Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World Recovery Review: What Did I Say About It In My Initial Review?

In my summing up of my review of Enemy of the World, which you can read here, I said…

Although the story slows down a bit towards the end, and starts off with an episode that simply cannot be appreciated in reconstructed form, I would urge you to track this one down.

It’s different from any other Dr Who story and offers you a chance to see Patrick Troughton play a completely different role.

Thankfully Episode 3 survives, and I would say that it’s the best one, so at the very least, give that one  a shot…if only to see Griff the Chef.

Meanwhile, in my Patrick Troughton Era Rankings article, I also said

I’d dearly love this story to exist because of how different it is to the rest of stories throughout the Troughton Era and the series as a whole. Who knows, maybe I’d think less of it if it survived. Maybe the best episode is the one that we have. But I like this story a lot and think it’s a sleeper hit.

Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World Recovery Review: What Do I Think About It Now?

I was right about some things and wrong about others.

  • It is the sleeper hit
  • Episode 1 is massively visual
  • Episode 3 isn’t the best one
  • It doesn’t slow up towards the end
  • It is totally different

Basically, The Enemy of the World is absolutely brilliant.

And here’s the thing….

This is the exact opposite of the Web of Fear. The reconstruction of Enemy of the World did it no justice at all. We’re not seeing the same actors in the same sets, we’re seeing completely new Doctor Who here.

And while Web may have focussed a lot on conversations, Enemy of the World is a visual feast from beginning to end.

Seeing the story come alive rather than in the form of stills, you get to see stuff you never would have known about otherwise.

Look at the opening scene as an example. The reconstruction basically describes a scene where Patrick Troughton takes off his clothes and goes into the sea in his longjohns as “The Doctor goes into the water”. They also get the bit wrong about him

The reconstruction of Enemy of the World failed to pick up on a number of brilliant visuals, including this one of Salamander having a crafty smoke

The reconstruction of Enemy of the World failed to pick up on a number of brilliant visuals, including this one of Salamander having a crafty smoke

stubbing his toe and Jamie laughing. What actually happens is he falls into the sea.

But it’s more than that. There are so many interesting bits of direction throughout that the reconstruction misses.

What about the scene where the helicopter takes off with the cameraman in it and the shot pans out and out and out? That’s absolutely superb.

Or the scenes on the park bench and under the jetty?

Or all the location filming?

Or especially the scene where Salamander goes down into the underground base?

Every single part of that was lost to the appreciative eye for 45 years,

Then of course there are the performances of the actors. The looks that Patrick Troughton gives as both the Doctor and Salamander are brilliant, and that scene where Salamander is smoking a cigar in the underground base while he’s supposed to be checking equipment adds so much to the character and to the mood.

Perhaps my favourite performance though is that of Milton Johns as Benik. He’s just so much better in this than in any of his other appearances, and again, the strength of his performance only truly comes to life here. To be fair, in my original review I said he was the stand-out, but scenes like the one where Fariah dies or when he interrogates Jamie and Victoria just seem so much better now.

As I stated above, I said that I felt it slowed down a bit too much when watching the reconstruction, but I’m reviewing my stance on that. Maybe it was the two-minute scene with no dialogue that put me off a bit at the time or maybe the reconstruction just couldn’t realise the dialogue in the bunker properly, but I had no problems with it watching it here.

Finally, the confrontation between Salamander and the Doctor looks better than I think anyone had given it credit for.

Do I have any problems with it? Not really. The only bits that stands out a little are the cliffhangers. Episode 3 ends on a dramatic one, but the rest don’t. I quite like ones that are just pauses in the action rather than  putting The Doctor or one of his companions in “mortal peril” that you know they’ll get out of, but at times, these ones just seemed too abrupt and undramatic.

Doctor Who – The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World Rediscovered: Final Thoughts

These are just my initial thoughts of course and I’m sure more will come to my attention when I watch them again, but my initial final thoughts (if that makes sense) are that The Web of Fear is as good a story as I thought it was in reconstructed format. I did think it would be better if it was recovered, but I don’t feel moved enough to say that is is. It was very good and it still is, but it’s nowhere near being a Top 10 of All Time.

The Enemy of the World though has gone up massively in my estimations.

I liked it before, but I absolutely love it now.

The visuals make such a difference to the acting performances, the feel and the direction.

It truly is an underrated gem and for me, I would go as far as to say it’s in my Top 3 Patrick Troughton stories now.

Of course, the rumourmill states we’ll be seeing many more missing stories returning to the BBC in the months and years ahead, so maybe that’ll change when we get to see the likes of Power of the Daleks in their glory.


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