Movies – T2 Trainspotting Review (or ‘Exposing One Of The Great Pop-Culture Hypocrisies’)

February 7, 2017

Some people are as fanatical about Trainspotting as others are about the likes of Star Wars, Doctor Who, WWE, Game of Thrones or Harry Potter. Some more-so.

Indeed, I’ve never come across so much excitement and fervour among people in general society over the release of a film as this one, and when I went to see it, the sort of whooping enthusiasm in the cinema during the showing of T2 was unlike anything I’ve witnessed before.

People laughed hysterically at early lines of dialogue that were not worthy of a titter, and would shout and cheer when characters first made their appearances on-screen.t2-trainspotting-uk-poster

It was baffling, and to me it represented one of the great hypocrisies of pop-culture among people in my age range.

What it showed me was that in the eyes of the sort of people who would criticise you for being interested in more ‘geeky’ things, it’s perfectly alright to be fanatical about a film if it’s about something ‘cool’ like – in their minds – drugs.

That’s just…pathetic. But it is what it is, and that’s why these people should be largely ignored.

Anyway, my thinly veiled passive aggression aside, I’m happy to judge this on its own merits. I’ve only seen the first Trainspotting once and barely have any memory of it, such was the impact it had on young Stuart, but I didn’t dislike it, so why not give the new one a go?

And I enjoyed it, but I wonder how much of that was down to certain crutches that held it up?

For example, shallow as it is, if it’s got a guy with a broad Scottish accent calling people cunts, then it’ll definitely raise a chuckle, and so thanks to Robert Carlyle I laughed a lot.

And as a Scot and more to the point as a Scottish football fan, the scene in the Rangers pub was probably the funniest and cleverest set piece I’ve seen in any film in ages. How funny that will be to people less aware of the utterly pointless sectarian divide that poisons certain areas in Scotland I couldn’t tell you, but it was funny to me.

Beyond that though? I dunno; it seemed like a bit of a by-the-numbers sequel with an uninspiring overall plot and a limp resolution.

It’s not fair to say that without certain elements it wouldn’t be good though, because those elements were there and so it was good.

So I’d recommend seeing it, but at the same time, don’t quite understand why people are so enthusiastic about it.

I await some snarky replies.


Movies – La La Land Review (or ‘Worthy of the Hype?’)

January 29, 2017

“I’m probably the only woman here who has been dragged along by their boyfriend”, said my girlfriend as the title card for La La Land came on to the big screen today.

She wasn’t keen to see it, and as it turned out did not enjoy it. But then she doesn’t like musicals.

Neither do I really, although not as strongly as her. Sure, I enjoy Disney movies like The Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast that have songs throughout them, but if you were lalato ask me to sit down and watch a Fred Astaire musical or something of that ilk, I’d make my excuses and leave.

So why did I want to go to La La Land?

For one thing, everyone’s been raving about it, and even though it’s Oscar season and people tend to rave about movies that are in fact overly-worthy piles of self-important pish, the sheer amount of praise meant that I felt I had to give it a chance.

For another thing, Whiplash is one of the best movies I’ve seen since I started this blog, and seeing as it’s from the same director – Damien Chazelle – I suspected I’d like it.

So did I?

To an extent, yes, I thought it was fun, but there were elements to it that I didn’t think were all that good, and ironically those are some of the parts that have made it stand out to other people.

Or to put it another way, I didn’t like some of the songs.

The opening song on the freeway near LA was a bit cringey and the number about standing out from the crowd had me on the ropes thinking “Have I got to put up with two hours of this?”. Those types of set plays are just not for me, and neither was the musical style within them.

Eventually though, La La Land settled down into a proper story about two people – well performed as they were by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone –  trying to make their own pathways in the entertainment industry. It was good; it held up well and kept me entertained. The music improved too, with the piano stuff and the later songs – especially the one towards the end when she was in for her audition – being much more my type of thing.

It also looked nice, with the director making great use of colour in his shots. It’s one of these movies where the quality of the director and his vision makes a difference to what you’re seeing. In a world where bland CGI tends to rule, this was a welcome relief.

Finally, I thought the ending was refreshingly different. Without spoiling it for you if you’ve yet to see it, it’s not how this type of film would traditionally end.

So on the whole, I liked La La Land enough to understand why it’s been getting hyped up so much. Some of it just wasn’t to my tastes, but there’s no doubt it’s good for what it is.

If you like that sort of thing, go and see it. If you’re like my girlfriend and have no time for the genre, then don’t bother.

 


Doctor Who – The Return of Doctor Mysterio Review (or ‘Leave It Grant, She’s Not Worth It!’)

January 5, 2017

There’s no doubt that some fans of Doctor Who tuned in to The Return of Doctor Mysterio in the hope that it would be some kind of po-faced Resurrection of the Daleks style massacre story. But as I’ve said before, that’s never going to happen on Christmas Day…Eastenders has that covered after all.

That doesn’t stop them hoping though.

For me, I think it’s fair to expect something sentimental considering the day of broadcast. People like that. I like that.

But it doesn’t mean it can’t have substance, and that’s the main thing. To me, that’s what separates a story like ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’ from ‘A Christmas Carol’.

So with that in mind, it’s now January 2nd and I’ve had a chance to watch this episode twice.

And here are my thoughts.

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio Review – What’s This One About?

It’s a love story with a toothless alien invasion thrown in to make it ‘Doctor Who-ish’.

Thoughts – The Tale of the Unnecessary Alien Invasion

Now as you know, I’ve reviewed every Doctor Who adventure and that amounts to hundreds of them. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know that I’ve made the point time and time again that

Aliens with heads that split opened. We haven't seen them since the last episode...

Aliens with heads that split opened. We haven’t seen them since the last episode…

Doctor Who doesn’t need to have aliens in every story. Aliens are not what Doctor Who is about; The Doctor travelling in the TARDIS is what it’s about.

And yet it’s clear that someone, somewhere believes that no matter what, there does has to be an alien influence to it.

What that means is you get a story like this, where the writer wants to present a send up of a Superman/Lois Lane style romance between two people who already live together. But he can’t just do that because there has to be a token alien invasion written in somewhere, even if it’s just to tick a box.

These ones were drab and unimaginative, even going as far as to lazily have the same pull-apart-skull gimmick as the aliens in the last story broadcast.

I thought the episode could have worked just as well without them, especially considering the set-up for the superhero was done perfectly well in the pre-credits section.

Leave It Grant, She’s Not Worth It

And it’s the romance where this episode shines.

I liked the idea of the nanny who is a superhero living with the woman he has a crush on. It’s mostly done well, and provided us with the sentiment and the substance. How Grant actually became a superhero was nicely explained too, and made perfect sense within the realms of the show.

But you’ll notice I said it was only ‘mostly’ well done, and that’s because there’s one major flaw in their relationship.

Lucy’s a bitch.

Based on the flashback, I think she’s always known that Grant has a thing for her, and yet when she met him and his best mate, she got off with the mate. Then once he’d left – and after Grant bizarrely decided to stick with her rather than him – she hires him to work in the home and then seems to insist upon him calling her Mrs Lombard.

Let’s bear in mind this is a woman in her early 30s demanding someone of the same age who she went to school with address her in the most formal manner possible. And she also talks down to him in a way that – were it a man talking to a woman – would be flagged up as misogynistic and condescending (“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it”).

She’s an arsehole, just like John Wayne.

But if he loves her knowing that then it’s his bed and he can lie in it…

Has Anyone Ever Properly Thought Out X-Ray Specs?

Ok, so I’m straying slightly off point here, but it’s referenced a few times in the episode and I want to bring this up.

Grant, she's just lied to your face about wearing that red dress; if the way she treats you day to day isn't a warning sign, this must be!

Grant, she’s just lied to your face about wearing that red dress; if the way she treats you day to day isn’t a warning sign, this must be!

Has nobody ever considered that X-Ray specs simply wouldn’t work in the way we’re supposed to think they would?

In fiction, we’re led to believe that these specs allow you to see people naked, rather as walking skeletons.

That’s fine, but surely if the specs only made clothing invisible, what you’d be left with would be people with weirdly packed-together organs held in place by invisible bras, underwear and other tight apparel. And how is that meant to be exciting?

Maybe I’m overthinking this, but someone has to!!

The Doctor and Nardol

Bearing in mind that this is actually a Doctor Who story, it’s important to take a moment to talk about the main cast, and as always Peter Capaldi is excellent. That there’s a rumour that he may be replaced in 2018 is a disgrace, because he’s clearly the best actor they’ve had in the part.

As for Matt Lucas, I thought he was good, and that doesn’t surprise me. Why? Because I wrongly assumed that as a comedienne, Catherine Tate would be rubbish and yet she’s the best companion the show has had since 1965. Nardol plays to Lucas’s strengths and he manages to work nicely in the background without stealing the spotlight away from anyone else.

Random Observations

  • The cockpit of the alien ship looked a lot like the one from the prison ship in the second episode of Blake’s Seven. And if you didn’t think I was a bit geeky before, I’m sure you do now.
  • It seemed a little bit odd that the Doctor and Lucy just watched Mr Brock being killed in that room and couldn’t be bothered intervening.
  • Also, the scene where Brock is told all about the brains and their plans seemed like bad exposition. Why not just kill him the moment he enters the room?
  • I’m hoping that brief mention at the end of the episode is now finally, finally an end to River Song.
  • Setting the episode in New York made it feel a little bit unusual, but in a good way.
  • The squeezy doll was sinister.
  • Was I the only one to groan when the Daleks appeared in the Coming Soon trailer?
  • And more to the point, was I the only one to laugh at the caption “See The Universe Anew” when there’s obviously yet another fucking Dalek story coming on in the near future?!?

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio Review

If we discount the alien invasion as irrelevant and the obvious character flaws that Lucy has, The Return of Doctor Mysterio ends up being a fun and humorous watch. I enjoyed it on Christmas Day and again when I watched it today.

It also moves at a brisk enough pace and never seems to drag.

No, it’s not going to go down in history as one of the all time greats, and isn’t even a contender for the best Christmas Day episode, but I liked it.

And I look forward to more new episodes soon, even if they do include the Daleks.

 


Doctor Who – The Power of the Daleks Animation Review

November 10, 2016

It was over five years ago that I sat down to review The Power of the Daleks.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but a lot of water has passed under the bridge in that time, with thirteen missing episodes finding their way back to the BBC and the never-ending saga of the Omnirumour rumbling on.

Now, in 2016, Patrick Troughton’s first story has made its way back to our screens in animated form.

You’d think this would be universally hailed as good news throughout the world of Doctor Who fandom, but then you’d be surprised.

I’ve read people say that they are ‘too old for cartoons’, others declare that ‘Doctor Who should never be animated because it was never intended to be’ and that they’d rather watch the telesnaps and most deluded

Though the BBC Store App wouldn't allow me to take the exact screen shot I wanted, this shows how animation can improve upon the limitations of the original

Though the BBC Store App wouldn’t allow me to take the exact screen shot I wanted, this shows how animation can improve upon the limitations of the original

of all, some suggest that they’d ‘rather wait for the episodes to be found’.

Jesus Christ…

I guess positivity – rather than the blind optimism/delusion shown by those who believe that the BBC would spend money on animating Power when they know or suspect that the original episodes are sitting somewhere ready to be discovered any day now – is a state of mind that some people refuse to embrace.

Animation is the best way to bring these episodes back to life. If they are rediscovered then great, but at this stage, the sensible planner will operate on the assumption that they are lost forever. I can’t get my head around people who would rather watch grainy telesnaps with the audio from the episode over animation that turns it into a proper viewing experience. Sure, people are entitled to their own opinions, but not watching them because you’ve decided you’re too old for a cartoon is just nuts. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.

And telesnap reconstructions are simply not commercially viable. Animations on the other hand have legs and with any luck, Power of the Daleks will sell well enough to justify more.

But does the quality of the animation justify the purchase from the BBC Store?

For me, it’s a yes.

While it’s not exactly a perfect recreation of the story – the animation of human movement isn’t the easiest thing to get right when you don’t have a Pixar-esque budget – it’s most certainly good enough to lose yourself in.

And though certain characters don’t look great – Ben doesn’t look much like Michael Craze here – others like Bragan, Hensell and of course the Doctor are pretty much bang on.

Meanwhile, in spite of the limitations, the animators do manage to achieve expressiveness in the faces of the characters, which helps the tone of the scenes.

As you would expect, the animation of the Daleks is the strongest part of it, as they glide effortlessly around the screen. The animators even manage to work in the issues with the real life props,

The Daleks are definitely the strongest part of the animation process

The Daleks are definitely the strongest part of the animation process

which I think is a very nice touch. For example, when the Daleks come out of the capsule, they thump up onto the ramp and then roll down it with all the control you’d expect from a prop on wheels. That wouldn’t happen in a story made today, and you might think that the animators would look to hide that limitation in this presentation, but they don’t. Good for them.

There’s no doubt that the animation will fail to capture little gestures and directorial set pieces that were in the original – lest we forget how the rediscovery of Enemy of the World brought back to life that wonderful forgotten moment where Salamander is smoking a cigar like a boss – but then it also improves on the limits of the era in which it was made. In particular, the scenes in the Dalek production line won’t have looked anywhere near as good on TV in 1966 as they did here, while one of the very few scenes that does exist – the cliffhanger to Episode Five – doesn’t have to have a fake backdrop with photos of Daleks on them.

So I would say it’s worth buying for the quality of animation, but the main thing – and what should be the foremost consideration for anyone thinking of buying this – is that Power of the Daleks is a really good story; in fact I rated it as 22nd best Doctor Who story of all time in Stuart Reviews Doctor Who: Book Two.

If you haven’t seen it then you need to.

And until such times as it might be returned – and like I say, we have to assume that it won’t be – then this is the only way to go.

So get buying, then maybe this time next year we’ll have an animated Dalek’s Master Plan to go with it.

You can read my original review of Power of the Daleks – part of my Doctor Who review project spanning every story ever broadcast – here.

 


Doctor Who – The Husbands of River Song Review (or ‘River Finally Has An Age Appropriate Doctor’)

December 30, 2015

Apologies to those of you who have been waiting patiently for my review of The Husbands of River Song to be posted, but this really is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and watch it again.

Because let’s face it; I wasn’t going to review it on Christmas Day while still suffering from a Food Coma.

Anyway it’s here now, so let’s get to it…

Doctor Who – The Husbands of River Song Review: What’s This One About?

Christmas Day hijinx and what – I assume – will be River Song’s final appearance in the show.

But then I’ve said that before.

Thoughts – Light Entertainment For All The Family

Before I get down to business with the main thrust of my review, I’ll just be brief with this, because I’ve said it a few times over the years and I don’t think it needs to be delved into too deeply again.

I wonder if anyone sat at home and wondered "Gosh, how did they do that special effect"?

I wonder if anyone sat at home and wondered “Gosh, how did they do that special effect”?

Put simply, this is a Christmas Day episode and seeing as it wasn’t one where the Doctor regenerates, it therefore makes sense for it to be quite light. After all, nobody really wants to spend Christmas Day working out overly complex plots or being depressed by the bleakness of our own mortality; the latter point is covered by Eastenders a couple of hours later.

No, this should be fun and maybe a little bit frivolous.

Some might not like that, but I’m happy enough with it.

So on that score, this episode did not disappoint.

This Must Be The End Of River Song Now?

For me, the main point of discussion is the stuff with River Song.

 

If you’ve read my reviews over the years you’ll know that I felt the River Song story arc just got away from Steven Moffat. What started as a good idea in Silence in the Library spiralled out of control to the point it seemed as though he was making it up as he went along.

Now she’s back again and considering this is meant to be her final meeting with the Doctor before she sees him for the last time in the aforementioned David Tennant story, I imagine that this is the end.

As a viewer, I could take two approaches.

I could just block out everything else and take this final appearance on its own merits. If I go with this option, The Husbands of River Song works. It’s touching, quite sad and well acted.

I can't look at Peter Capaldi in that suit without thinking of...

I can’t look at Peter Capaldi in that suit without thinking of…

So it would get thumbs up.

But as a long-term viewer, I should be taking a different approach.

I should be able to watch this and know without having to look stuff up how River and the Doctor got to this point. I should know the background of the diary (and I thought I did, but apparently not), I should know without being told that this restaurant is the last place they meet before the library and I should be swept up in the emotion of a story arc that has lasted for almost 10 years.

I can’t do that though.

The story arc is too complex and out of control. I don’t want to read up on stuff to refresh my memory, even though it seems like my memory is cheating me.

For some reason, I thought it was on record that River only ever met two incarnations of the Doctor, and I also thought that rather than a diary, it was stated that she had in her possession his biography.

I’m probably wrong here and I imagine a certain section of fandom (you know, the ones who call themselves ‘Whovians’, idolise Osgood and have diagrams of the River Song story arc on their bedroom walls) are probably tutting away at me for not knowing this stuff off by heart, but the way I see it, if I’m confused then 99% of the viewers probably feel a bit lost by it as well.

So although it was a good end to the character, I think I’m really just glad that it’s an end of any sort.

Random Observations

  • One thing that is disappointing about seeing River go though is that for the first time, Alex Kingston is acting alongside someone she has chemistry with. Had this been the case all the way though, I maybe
    ...the Vultures from Splash Mountain

    …the Vultures from Splash Mountain

    wouldn’t be so sick of her.

  • I’ve said before that I think Peter Capaldi is a better actor and Doctor than Matt Smith was, but if anything emphasises the point, it’s this episode.
  • And isn’t it good that River finally has an age appropriate version of the Doctor to hang around with.
  • I couldn’t help but think Peter Capaldi looked like one of the Vultures from Splash Mountain in that last scene.
  • Is it not a little strange that of all the days to finally have availability for a booking, they have Christmas Day? Not April 7th? Or October 10th?
  • And are they counting a year on that planet in Earth time or by their own planet’s time? If it’s the latter then that’s a very long wait, and the hostess has aged remarkably well.
  • I’m not a fan of Matt Lucas’s acting ability and by association his character in this story.
  • Greg Davies was good though, but there’s an argument to suggest that he’s not actually a very good actor.
  • I enjoyed the stuff with River not knowing who the Doctor was, which made sense with the idea I had in my head that she only ever knowingly met Tennant and Smith.
  • That alien dude who opened up his head must struggle to play football. Imagine trying to go for a header under those circumstances?
  • And why not just keep the item in his pocket?
  • Finally, the scene where The Doctor got to ‘do entering the TARDIS for the first time the right way’ was superb.

Doctor Who – The Husbands of River Song Review: Final Thoughts

The Husbands of River Song was a good Christmas Day story. It was light, it was fun and in the end it was quite emotional.

Some people won’t like that, but I did.

And if this is the final appearance of River Song – and I really hope it is – then it was a good way for her to bow out.

 


Doctor Who – Hell Bent Review (or ‘Companions Are Probably Not Worth The Hassle, Doctor’)

December 5, 2015

When I reviewed Peter Capaldi’s first season of Doctor Who last year, many of the articles referenced the way fandom reacts to the show.

There will be people who tune in every week with what seems to be a desire to hate it and there will be others who love it regardless of quality.

By and large I’ve avoided that this year, but having just watched Hell Bent, I knew this one would be divisive.

Some people would think it was amazing while others would consider it an affront to their sensibilities.

So I had a look on social media to witness the fallout.

And right enough, opinion is split.

“Amazing! I was in absolute bits by the end” said one person.

“I didn’t think it would be possible for a season finale to be worse than last year” said another.

“Bloody marvellous! Loved every minute” proclaimed one enthusiastic viewer.

“Absolute rubbish, just like the rest of the season” declared another bloke.

But why are viewers divided? And what side of the fence do I land on?

Doctor Who – Hell Bent Review: What’s This One About?

The Doctor tries to save Clara’s life, but realises he’s gone too far.

Thoughts – A Far Better End For Clara

Well here’s where I think the major bone of contention lies…

For some people, Clara’s exit two weeks ago should have been the end of it. She should have stayed dead.

Break it down for the classic TARDIS set

Break it down for the classic TARDIS set

For others, this gave her character a more fitting end.

I agree with the latter viewpoint.

When I wrote my review of Face the Raven, my overriding emotion was anger, because the BBC had spoiled what would have been a great plot development in a bid to attract viewers. I stand by that, but having had two weeks to think about it, I also didn’t think her death was particularly fitting.

Yes, it would have been a shock, and no, in reality (as if Doctor Who has to abide by such constraints) death can happen at any point so why should it not see off Clara in a low-key episode?

But it was also devoid of emotion. Without any sort of proper goodbye between the two characters, had that really been it, it would have been a lacklustre way for her to go.

As a means of finishing the story of the Doctor and Clara, this worked far better, and I thought it was played very well.

Indeed, the twist that it was the Doctor who forgot her and not the other way around was a nice change from the normal way companions leave, and even though it was potentially telegraphed by the scenes in the diner cut inserted into the story, I didn’t see that ending coming from the start.

That said, it was absolutely time for Clara to go. As I’ve said before, her character peaked in Last Christmas and she’s really spent this season treading water.

Overall she was a good companion, but one that has run her course.

Should The Doctor Just Not Bother With Companions

If I was to have a problem though, it would be that it ended up that this was yet another companion who the Doctor – in a sense – fell in love with and couldn’t bear to see leave.

I'm not sure I understand the significance of the diner. It's not relevant to these two characters at all.

I’m not sure I understand the significance of the diner. It’s not relevant to these two characters at all.

So we’ve now seen that variation on a theme with Rose, Donna, Amy and now Clara. Not Martha though; he didn’t give a shit about her.

Whoever is next, the relationship has to be written in such a way where whenever that person leaves, it doesn’t have this great emotional wrench upon the man.

Otherwise, you’d have to question whether he would actually want a companion. It seems that compared to the old days, it has become more trouble than it’s worth for him.

The Case Of The Two MacGuffins

Another reason why some people might not be happy with this season finale is that it ultimately made MacGuffins out of both Gallifrey and Ashildr.

Again, I can understand why this could be an issue, but I’m not fussed.

I’ve never liked the Gallifrey stuff, and that goes all the way back to The Deadly Assassin; a story which gave birth to Fanwankery.

There really is no interesting plot to come out of Gallifrey. No matter what happens, the Doctor will end up running away from it again, and that’s what happened tonight.

More than that though, every time Doctor Who revisits it, more arms and legs have been added to it.

Who were those people outside the barn? Why do we care about those guards? Beyond a name check, what’s the point of Rassilon?

Quick!! Let's all waste our lives trying to make up a back story for who this woman is. I'll say it's the Doctor's Aunt's cousin Beryl.

Quick!! Let’s all waste our lives trying to make up a back story for who this woman is. I’ll say it’s the Doctor’s Aunt’s cousin Beryl.

Gallifrey’s peak was in The War Games. It’ll never get better than that.

So yeah, the fact that Gallifrey wasn’t the real point of Hell Bent did not bother me.

Neither did it bother me that ultimately the Ashildr storyline went nowhere.

We were – I think – supposed to conclude that she was the Hybrid but she wasn’t. Really, she was just someone who happened to be immortal.

A problem?

Not for me.

The hybrid being the combination of the Doctor and Clara made more sense, even though it was a bit far fetched that this idea had been retconned throughout Time Lord history.

Like I say, I’m happy the finale was used to provide finality to the relationship between The Doctor and Clara. With that sorted, the show can move on next year.

Random Observations

  • I think Steven Moffat was trying to troll people with the male to female regeneration and the half-human stuff. No doubt people probably did get upset about that, even though both have been said or done before. These people need to give themselves a shake.
  • In truth, the only thing that wound me up about that whole story was The Doctor playing ‘Clara’s Theme’ on his guitar. Within the confines of the show, she doesn’t have a theme so that doesn’t make sense.
  • People will probably be sitting at home making up fan fiction about who that woman in the barn was. Who cares?
  • As someone who often moans about fanwankery and pointless nods to the show’s past, you might think I would have groaned at the sight of the Gallifrey style TARDIS capsules and old school interiors. On the contrary; that’s the sort of thing I love. Bring back the old console room permanently, says I.
  • But I will moan about the pointless inclusion of that Dalek, Cyberman and Weeping Angel.
  • If there’s one thing about Gallifrey that puzzled me, it was the way it was just accepted that it was hiding at the end of the universe. Could the Doctor not have worked that out years ago?
  • And how long has the Sisterhood of Karn been there for?
  • Why wasn’t Ashildr sitting next to Captain Jack, and even though she’s immortal, how exactly did she manager to get there?
  • Oh, and if she had managed to forget everything about her upbringing – including her real name – in the space of a few hundred years, how was she able to remember anything relating to the Doctor or Clara after trillions of them?
  • The way Hell Bent was written, it was as if The Doctor had spent billions of years in that prison from Heaven Sent. But that’s not true, is it? As far as he was concerned, he only lasted there for a few days before he either died and was reanimated, or he escaped. He wouldn’t have had any perception of the true amount of time he spent there.
  • I’m not exactly sure what significance the diner had, or why they used it. Considering it was from a different Doctor and used different companions, they may has well have set that scene on the lighthouse from The Horror of Fang Rock.
  • Bring back the Rutans!!
  • As a plot device, the Doctor’s return to Gallifrey really has come 5 or 6 years too late to be effective.
  • Unlike some people, I really couldn’t care less about a new Sonic Screwdriver.

Doctor Who – Hell Bent Review: Final Thoughts

So while some people are upset and unhappy, you can brand me a happy clapper, because I enjoyed it.

For me, Hell Bent focussed on the right parts of the story and paid less attention to the aspects that didn’t matter.

It gave Clara a fitting farewell – more so than Face The Raven – and it was enjoyable and well acted by Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman.

Great stuff.

Overall Season Analysis

As a whole, I think this season of the show will be remembered as mostly unremarkable.

I don’t think there were many bad stories (except the Gatiss episode obviously, but that’s because he’s awful) but the reliance upon two-parters made it a slower and less varied one.

The highlights for me have been Under the Lake & Before the Flood and of course Heaven Sent & Hell Bent.

The rest…not so much.

Have You Bought The Books Yet?

If not why not? Have a look here for more info.


Doctor Who – Heaven Sent Review (or ‘Three Cheers For The Slow Build’)

November 29, 2015

After last week’s rant about spoilers, I’m pleased to report that I managed to sit down to watch this latest episode – Heaven Sent – without key plot points being ruined in advance.

Yay.

Of course, I had to be vigilant. Apart from the BBC’s own press releases, there are also these terrible attention seekers – and there are a good few of them – who have (or at least say they have) access to the BBC’s preview website and love to ‘drop hints’, like retweeting people who ask them questions like “Will this happen?” and answering “I couldn’t possibly comment”. And then on top of that there are the people who look to retweet those retweets as well.

They can do it if they want of course do that if they want, and I don’t have to follow them. So let’s just say that there were a few people muted on Twitter this week…

On that note, I was asked recently – as a Doctor Who blogger with a reasonable following – if I’d be interested in getting access to the BBC’s preview hub, but I wouldn’t. I like to watch the shows when they are broadcast, and I like to be able to review the episodes freely. Let’s be honest; the BBC won’t want someone to do a preview or review of an episode that says ‘That was shite’, will they?

But anyway, let’s move on from that and get on with the review.

Doctor Who – Heaven Sent Review: What’s This One About?

The Doctor wanders around his own personal hell for a while.

Thoughts – The Slow Build

Ok, back to spoilers for a moment…

My brother – who can’t seem to help himself when it comes to accidentally spoiling TV stuff for me before getting all defensive and saying “That’s not really a spoiler” – did say to me a few weeks ago that one

The Doctor realises "Where did I get the soup?"

The Doctor realises “Where did I get the soup?”

episode of this season would be a single-hander, where Peter Capaldi would be the only one in it for the duration.

So after a few minutes watching Heaven Sent, I remembered that.

And I was concerned.

It would take some pretty impressive writing and acting to be able to pull something like that off successfully and though it’s been done before – most famously in a superlative episode of One Foot in the Grave – there was no guarantee it would work.

Furthermore, considering the time slot and the level of expectation that always seems to surround the show, it seemed like a big risk to take.

And for the first ten of fifteen minutes I wasn’t too impressed. The pace was slow and the scenes with the Doctor talking to himself in the TARDIS in his own mind seemed expository.

Slowly but surely though, it built up, with little hints being dropped early on leading to the fantastic reveal that the skulls were his own and he’d been dying and repeating the cycle over and over again for 7,000 years.

That’s a great twist. I mean…really great. The sort of twist that makes you think back to everything that’s happened so far that you didn’t register fully and think “Oh so that’s what that meant!”.

Had that been spoiled for me in advance I’d have been raging.

From there, the way it showed that he kept repeating the process over and over again over the course of a couple of billion years to break down that wall of Azbantium was full of drama and emotion and until eventually…eventually…he broke through.

And what was on the other side of the wall labelled ‘Home’? The TARDIS? No, it’s Gallifrey.

Superb.

I saw it coming, but unlike last week’s spoilers, I didn’t know it was coming (even though I heard afterwards that the BBC revealed it in a trailer, the daft bastards) and therefore it was far more rewarding for me as

Watching the opening scene again knowing what this red hand means is allows for a different viewing experience.

Watching the opening scene again knowing what this red hand means is allows for a different viewing experience.

a viewer.

So yes, there’s no doubt that this episode was pulled off spectacularly. It was a masterpiece of writing from the inconsistent Steven Moffat and indeed of performance from Peter Capaldi, who was able to carry 55 minutes of TV almost entirely on his own.

Random Observations

  • The only other Doctor I could imagine starring in this would be Sylvester McCoy. Couldn’t you? Certainly I don’t think it would suit the likes of David Tennant, although that’s not a criticism of him.
  • And speaking of Tennant – and indeed going off on a tangent – if you haven’t seen Marvel’s Jessica Jones then you should rectify that immediately. He’s exceptional in it.
  • The incidental music was a change from the norm; something different from the usual Murray Gold output, and I’m happy with that. It did sound like an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe though.
  • I knew we hadn’t seen the last of Clara, and I imagine there will inevitably be a scene with her next week too.
  • You could argue that by appearing, she takes away from the notion that this is a single hander. But at the same time, it advanced the plot. As far as I know this wasn’t an episode built around the gimmick that it only involved Peter Capaldi, so there was no reason for her not to be there.
  • While there’s a chance this episode might have less appeal on second or third viewing, I think it’ll just have a different style of viewing experience. For example, you’ll watch the first scene again and realise exactly what’s going on. I like that.
  • One question though; where did he get the food?

Doctor Who – Heaven Sent Review: Final Thoughts

 

Heaven Sent was a change from the norm; a brave idea that could so easily have gone wrong.

But it didn’t.

It was – as I’ve already said, but I’m happy to repeat again – superb.

More of the same quality next week please.

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