TV – The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Review

June 30, 2015

Sometimes people will exaggerate for effect when they review comedies and say that they didn’t laugh once.

So I won’t do that in this review of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt because I did laugh once.


I’ll even tell you the joke; it was in the second episode and it was a visual gag of a very crap Miss Piggy

But apart from that, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – a Netflix exclusive comedy starring Ellie Kemper from the US version of The Office and created by Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame – didn’t even raise a smile.

Though it seems to get critical acclaim and generally favourable reviews, I just didn’t personally understand the appeal.

Based around the premise of a girl who has been freed from 15 years trapped as a prisoner in a Josef Fritzel style bunker and has moved to New York to experience life for the first time – an interesting and original idea for a show to be fair – the humour seemed very childish, the acting over the top and the characters ludicrous.

I get that sometimes comedy has to involve exaggerated characters, but there are limits to what I will personally find credible or even funny, and the sheer stupidity of almost every character – probably designed to make the quirky Kimmy seem normal – just took it beyond those limits.

The last two episodes for example, where Kimmy goes back to Indiana as a witness in the trial against her former captor is just stupid. Not ‘stupid haha’ which I’m sure was the intention, but rather just stupid. And the dialogue – like “What the ham sandwich is going on” and “Oh Em Jeepers” – I think is supposed to be charming but is just cringe-inducing.

For me, this show is just too over the top.

To give it some credit, Ellie Kemper is good and plays her character with charm and likeability, but it’s just not enough to convince me that it’s worthy of the praise it gets.

I did manage to sit through all 13 episodes though, and that might count for something in that at least it had a narrative worth following, but on the heels of having just caught up with the brilliant seasons 8-10 of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, this just didn’t cut the mustard.

So I recommend you avoid The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Calls to Action

Remember to…

a) Like Stuart Reviews Stuff on Facebook or Twitter

b) Read about my books – focussing on reviews of Doctor Who from the very beginning – here

c) If you appreciate my sense of humour, go ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 


Movies: Entourage Review (or “Lighten Up Film Critics; What Else Did You Expect This Movie To Be?”)

June 19, 2015

When I sit down to write my reviews, I tend to do a bit of homework and check out how well received the subject matter has been by the masses, to see if the generally held opinion differs from my own.

Most of the time what I find doesn’t surprise me, but on occasion it does.

I’ve just come home from watching the Entourage movie, which I’ve enjoyed, but it appears to have been slated by almost all critics.

If you do a quick google search you’ll note that it gets 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, 38% on Metacritic and a host of one/two star reviews with taglines such as “Smug, Unfunny LA Bromance”, “Awash With Delusional Confidence” and “Entourage is so bad it puts us in a terrible mood”.

The thrust of the criticism is that it’s a poor plot, that it’s overloaded with pointless cameos, that the characters aren’t likeable, that it’s Hollywood at its most self-indulgent at a time when it should be focussing on Entouragemovies with worldwide appeal and that it feels like an extended version of a TV episode.

Now fair enough, some of those criticisms have merit – particularly the last couple – but surely any review of Entourage should ask one single and simple question to anyone who is thinking about going to see it…

Did you like the TV show?

If you did, then go and you’ll like it. It’s a worthy follow-up to the HBO comedy.

If you didn’t, don’t bother because it’s more of the same, and you still won’t like it.

If you’ve never seen it, you’ll struggle to appreciate it one way or the other, even if it does try to fill new viewers in with some expository scenes offering a potted history of the show at the start.

But that’s the problem with movies that continuations of TV shows; when the papers and entertainment websites send someone along to review them, these people might be turning up with a negative mindset. I mean, I don’t like Mrs Browns Boys, so I was never going to see the movie. If I did, I’d go along to it knowing that I wouldn’t enjoy it, and so my review would be a foregone conclusion.

So anyone who didn’t like Entourage the TV show – and based on the content of some of these reviews, I’m guessing plenty of these writers didn’t – will not like this.

The same criticisms of the TV show will apply here. I mean, there are parts of it I don’t like. I’ve always found Vince to be a dreary, one-dimensional character played by an actor more wooden than Pinocchio, while Eric always seemed miscast and mildly unlikable. If you ask people what they like about Entourage the TV show, the chances are they’ll say Ari Gold and Johnny Drama. That’s where the humour was then and that’s where it is now.

Yes, this is basically an extended episode of the TV show with more cameos than ever, but why would anyone who actually spends their money to go to see a movie about Entourage want or expect anything different?

It’s bizarre to think otherwise.

So while the critics shit upon it from a great height, perhaps take some advice from the cast, who have said “Lighten up; it’s not Citizen Kane”.

You get what you pay for.

Calls to Action

Remember to…

a) Like Stuart Reviews Stuff on Facebook or Twitter

b) Read about my books – focussing on reviews of Doctor Who from the very beginning – here

c) If you appreciate my sense of humour, go ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 



Out of the Unknown – The Midas Plague Review (or “What The Hell Was That?!”)

June 18, 2015

Ok, so I didn’t publish two reviews in one day.

Mainly because if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to write this as an introduction, and I was struggling otherwise.

So with that in mind, here’s The Midas Plague review.

Out of the Unknown – The Midas Plague Review: What’s This One About?

It’s about a future society (that looks an awful lot like 1965) where free energy and robot labour result in an over abundance of goods that need consumed. The lower you are on the social ladder, the more pressure there is for you to consume these products by law.

But one man – who believes that giving robots emotional circuits would result in them wanting to consume and therefore take away some of the burden put on the ‘working class’ – rebels against the order of things.

My reaction to watching The Midas Plague

My reaction to watching The Midas Plague

Thoughts – What Am I Watching Here?

It seems that usually my summation of an episode of Out of the Unknown is “It’s a good idea, but it’s let down by execution or running time”.

I can’t say that about The Midas Plague.

Why? Because it isn’t even a good idea, it’s just daft.

If there’s an overabundance of supply, then stop supplying it. Episode finished.

Instead, we’ve got to put up with this ludicrous notion that is bizarrely presented as some kind of pantomime-like comedy.

Maybe that’s the point, and if it was actually funny I’d give it some credit, but it’s not; it’s horrendous.

It could be that this type of humour just that hasn’t aged well and was actually popular at the time, but it does absolutely nothing for me.

Moreover, the general presentation is shonky, from the over the top mannerisms and expressions of the actors to the played for laughs dialogue and whimsical, screwball-esque incidental music.

Overall, it was terrible.

And People Criticise Doctor Who’s Budget?

People say classic Doctor Who looks cheap. But what is cheap? If you’re comparing The Keys of Marinus to Star Wars, then yes, it does look cheap, but what’s the point of making such a comparison?

Doctor Who from the 60s should be judged against a show like Out of the Unknown. And while from time to time Out of the Unknown has looked ok, generally it looks pretty bad in comparison, with actors wearing

Even with low budgets, how can that sort of costume/set be acceptable?

Even with low budgets, how can that sort of costume/set be acceptable?

cheap rubber/tinfoil outfits, wandering around sets that look like they belong on the stage of an amateur theatre.

The Midas Plague takes things to a whole new level of cheap though.

If I was going to defend it, I’d say the robot costumes are deliberately made to look bad because of the ‘comedic’ nature of the episode, but even then they’d still be crap. It’s the sort of thing you don’t laugh with, but laugh at, and that’s never a good thing.

Then, despite being set in the ‘future’ there’s no effort whatsoever to make it look like it is, which is bizarre because the show usually goes out of its way to make things look ‘Space Age’.

I can honestly say this is the worst looking piece of television I’ve ever seen from the BBC. It’s horrific.

The Old British Actors Checklist

Apart from Richard Davies (Burton from Delta & The Bannermen), the main attraction here is the guy who played the Empire State Building Tour Guide in the Chase who was a lot like Columbo.


Out of the Unknown – The Midas Plague Review: Final Thoughts

Like my last review, I can’t really think of much to justify a Random Thoughts section.

In part this is because I watched these episodes a week or so ago, and my thoughts have faded.

But it’s also because there’s just not much to comment on beyond what’s already been said.

The Midas Plague is crap. It’s a bad idea for a story, it looks pitiful, it’s acted terribly and it goes on for too long.

Maybe I’m missing the point or maybe it’s just a form of entertainment that has been lost to time. As much as we talk about what TV was like by then, the TV we do talk about tends to be the stuff that is timeless. There’s plenty of crap that likely was forgotten about a week after transmission.

And this could be an example of that.

Hopefully things improve with the shorter episodes of Season 2, because really, if this first season is anything to go by, it’s a mystery to me why Out of the Unknown is remembered with as much fondness as it is.

Calls to Action

Remember to…

a) Like Stuart Reviews Stuff on Facebook or Twitter

b) Read about my books – focussing on reviews of Doctor Who from the very beginning – here

c) If you appreciate my sense of humour, go ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 



Out of the Unknown – Thirteen to Centaurus Review (or “Let Down By The Running Time…Again”)

June 16, 2015

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Out of the Unknown is hit and miss in terms of quality.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering its format. When you change the writers, actors and stories every week, you’re unlikely to find a level of consistency.

With that said, I’ve fallen slightly behind on my reviews of the show and find myself in a situation where I have to do two in one afternoon.

And as you might expect based on the intro, my feelings on them both are mixed.

The first of those episodes is Thirteen To Centaurus. 

Out of the Unknown – Thirteen To Centaurus Review

Usually I would start this with a ‘What’s This One About’ section, but I’m not going to.

Instead, I’m going to quote the synopsis – from the keyboard of ‘Hutch48’ – written on imdb for this episode.

It says…

“Interstellar travel at sub-light speeds: the enormous distances, isolation from human culture and the aching loneliness of space are enough to drive the strongest personality insane. Better to block all memories of human contact and to program the 12-strong crew to accept only the reality they can see and touch within their spacecraft. But a child born on “the Station” becomes insistent on learning the truth about ‘Outside’.”

But here’s the thing; it isn’t really about that at all.

Oh my god!!! They aren't really on a spaceship!!! Let's spoil that surprise less than a third of the way through the episode!!!

Oh my god!!! They aren’t really on a spaceship!!! Let’s spoil that surprise less than a third of the way through the episode!!!

For the first 18 minutes of this episode, you could be forgiven for thinking that was an accurate synopsis, but the swerve – the sort of swerve that would happen at the end of a movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan – comes very early. You see, they aren’t on a spaceship at all. Instead – much like in The Invasion of the Dinosaurs – the people on board that ship are actually still on Earth, but are made to believe they are in space as an experiment.

I liked the swerve of course, but I think they shot their load too quick by revealing it almost as soon as the episode began.

This caused a problem because there was another 42 minutes left in the episode. So what happened? Well it became something of a political/human rights story based on the government pulling the funding for the Centaurus experiment and the debates and discussion on what they should do with the people on board the ‘ship’. In the end, the plot takes another twist when it turns out the boy looking to learn the truth about ‘Outside’ realises he’s in an experiment, brainwashes the guy controlling it so that he stays on board under his control (hence why it’s called ‘Thirteen to Centaurus’), and decides to stay on as the ruler of his own very small colony.


All of that is fine in theory, but the middle section went on for far too long and at such a slow pace that I ended up losing interest.

That’s a general problem with episodes from this first season of Out of the Unknown; interesting ideas hindered by an overly long running time. It should come as no surprise that from season two onwards, the episodes were cut to 50 minutes.

If this was shorter, it would have been better. I had high hopes for it, but they were let down.

Lesterson and King Thous debate the issues of the day over a fag.

Lesterson and King Thous debate the issues of the day over a fag.

The Old British Actors Checklist

We’ve hit the jackpot on former Doctor Who actors, as this episode includes Noel Johnson (The Underwater Menace & The Invasion of the Dinosaurs), Robert James (Power of the Daleks, The Daemons & The Masque of Mandragora), John Line (Colony in Space), Robert Russell (Power of the Daleks & Terror of the Zygons), John Moore (The Myth Makers & The Frontier in Space – though to be fair he only played an extra in these stories) and best of all, John Abineri (Fury from the Deep, The Ambassadors of Death, Death to the Daleks & The Power of Kroll).

Out of the Unknown – Thirteen To Centaurus Review – Final Thoughts

I’ve got to be honest, I couldn’t think of a single Random Observation to add to this.

Ultimately, I think I’ve said it all; it’s a good idea and it should have been better, but the pacing and overly long running time prevent it from living up to its potential.

Though it is one of the better episodes I’ve seen so far, for what that’s worth.

Calls to Action

Remember to…

a) Like Stuart Reviews Stuff on Facebook or Twitter

b) Read about my books – focussing on reviews of Doctor Who from the very beginning – here

c) If you appreciate my sense of humour, go ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 



TV: Hindsight Review – Non Spoiler (or ‘The Best New Show You Haven’t Heard Of’)

June 3, 2015

I read an article the other day about the best US TV shows not to have found a home on a British station.

Some of them looked quite interesting and I certainly intend to give them a try, but the one that stood out the most for me was Hindsight.

Hindsight Review (Non Spoiler): What’s It About?

Broadcast on VH1 – a station you wouldn’t associate with TV drama – Hindsight is a show about a woman in her 40s who – on the eve of her second wedding – realises she’s lived a life filled with regrets. She wisheshindsight she could go back and change things to make her life more fulfilled.

A weird trip in an elevator results in her being transported back to 1995 into the body of her younger self on the day of her first wedding and before she fell out with the best friend she’s ever had.

Given a second chance in life, will things turn out differently this time or is she destined to repeat the same mistakes all over again?


So I’m not going to spoil this for you by giving away any plot details.

Instead I’ll just tell you why I think this show is fantastic.

I mean, I guess you all know that I love Doctor Who, and so any show about time travel is going to peak my interest, but what works so well with Hindsight is that it presents this sort of thing without feeling even slightly ‘science-fictiony’. As a result of that, people who generally don’t like sci-fi will be able to enjoy it without feeling like it’s something outside of their own wheelhouse.

A decent outline for a series isn’t enough though; it has to be well written, and again, I think it is.

The characters are realistic and multi-dimensional (and played by good, if less well-known actors who do them justice), the plots are varied and interesting and the season long story arc bubbles away nicely while building to a great cliffhanger that makes you want to come back for more.

There’s also the added attraction of that ‘Life On Mars’ style retro feel where a character from a contemporary setting is flung back into the past. There are plenty of nods to how dated certain aspects of the 90s are – like fashion and technology – but it also celebrates other parts of its culture. And because this is a show that airs on VH1, the music of the age takes centre stage a lot of the time.

Basically if you’re old enough to remember the mid 90s you’ll appreciate it, but even if you’re not you’ll enjoy the show anyway, I reckon.

So yeah, track down Hindsight and give it a go; it’s fun, it’s enjoyable, and unlike quite a few shows I’ve tried to watch lately, it has that ‘just one more episode’ appeal to it.


Remember to buy my books, focusing on my reviews of Doctor Who from the 1960s through to present day. You can read more about them here

Also, on a completely different note, if you’ve got any friends who post the crappest Facebook status updates in the world every day, you might get a kick out of my piss-take Facebook blog, ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 

Out of the Unknown – Some Lapse Of Time Review (or “Unnecessarily Complicated”)

June 3, 2015

It’s been one hit, one miss and one in between for me in my Out of the Unknown reviews.

Hopefully Some Lapse Of Time will be a hit…

Out of the Unknown – Some Lapse Of Time Review: What’s This One About?

A Doctor who has been plagued by a recurring bad dream since the death of his son to a rare disease is shocked to find a man from that dream has shown up outside his house dying of the same illness.

The man – speaking a severely regressed form of English that only a language expert can understand – appears to be someone from the past, but at a time when nuclear testing is at its peak, could he be from a future dystopia?

Thoughts – Well That’s Not Complicated At All, Is It?

The ‘What’s This One About’ section of these reviews is supposed to be a snappy one-liner that gives you the basic synopsis of the plot.



That doesn’t seem possible for Some Lapse Of Time.

Don’t get me wrong, I was able to follow it well enough, but it just seemed unnecessarily complicated.

Why? Because so many of the different things associated with the plot didn’t feel like they were needed or that they made much sense.

To give you the brief, here’s a step by step guide to the plot…

  • A man (Dr Max Harrow) has a recurring bad dream.
  • He wakes up to find the old guy from that dream is outside his house, dying of an illness that only kills babies (like his son). He’s also clutching a finger bone.
  • He takes the old guy to the hospital where his illness is cured, but the guy can’t speak a word of English.
  • Eventually they establish his name is Smiffershon.
  • They bring in a language expert who discovers he is speaking English but a regressed version of it.
  • Harrow’s wife takes a massive strop when she sees him talking to the female language expert.
  • They have a blazing row which results in her accidentally trapping his pinkie finger in a car door. He loses the finger.
  • At the same time as this is happening, some politician/expert in nuclear testing is admitted to the hospital. Harrow and his colleagues treat him.
  • X Rays show that Smiffershon – is highly radioactive.
  • Harrow starts to go a bit mental and concludes that Smiffershon must be from the future, because the finger bone he was clutching must be the one he just lost. He reckons that he’s come back in a bid to change history by killing him, as one of the people responsible for saving the life of the guy in charge of the nuclear testing.
  • He has a severe nervous breakdown and starts talking in the same weird dialect as Smiffershon.
  • The language expert says she’s worked out that Smiffershon is saying he came back from the future.
  • Harrow’s colleagues – having dismissed him as a fantasist – are shocked

Now read that back and ask yourself if it made sense.

Does it? It’s certainly on the borderline of being utter nonsense.

The thing is, if it just followed the basic narrative of a guy who has come back in time to try to prevent nuclear war, then it would be better.

Instead, there are aspects to it – like the illnessSmiffershon was initially suffering from, the dream and thefingerbone – that could be chucked out on the scrap-heap entirely, while other parts of the story that I think were missing or were poorly explained/developed – like how he managed to time travel or how he seemed obsessed with a Doctor who didn’t really have that much to do with the events that would result in

That's right love, just light up beside the hospital bed

That’s right love, just light up beside the hospital bed

nuclear war – could have been done a lot better.

Perhaps the problem is that this is another episode that is based on a book. Maybe the hour just wasn’t enough to tell the story as it was meant to be told?

The result though is that Some Lapse Of Time feels like a story that could have been – and ultimately in other forms has been – told better.

The Old British Actors Checklist

Amazingly, only one actor in this has appeared in a Doctor Who, and considering he played a character for about two minutes in the Reign of Terror, I can be forgiven for not realising it was him.

The only actor I’ve ever heard of here is Peter Bowles, playing a policeman at the start.

Still, it’s got an actor in it called Moultrie Kelsall, so it deserves some bonus points!

Random Observations

  • Until around 15 minutes in, I assumed this was supposed to be set in contemporary Britain, i.e. the 1960s; that’s certainly what it looked like anyway with the traditional 60s police uniforms and absolutely nothing to indicate it wasn’t contemporary. Then all of a sudden they start communicating using those two-way TVs you’d see in almost every Patrick Troughton story. Do you think people generally thought that’s how we’d communicate in the future, or is it more likely it was the brainchild of one guy who worked at the BBC?
  • Considering when this was made, I imagine the idea of a post-nuclear dystopia probably struck a chord with the viewers at the time.
  • To give the story some credit – as I feel I’ve been quite critical of it so far – it has top quality incidental music. No, it’s not the sort of thing I’d want to listen to, but it captures the underlying tension of the episode perfectly.
  • There’s a marvellous example of how society’s attitude towards dogs seems to have changed since this was made. As much as I can’t stand them myself, it’s fair to say that the UK is a nation of dog-lovers. So when in this episode they talk about a dog having its throat slit by Smiffershon, they say “Thank goodness he only attacked a dog. He could have done seem real harm”. These days there would be such an
    Having seen her husband committing the grievous crime of talking to another woman, Mrs Harrow storms out of what appears to be Dundee College. She then amputates his finger; that'll learn him.

    Having seen her husband committing the grievous crime of talking to another woman, Mrs Harrow storms out of what appears to be Dundee College. She then amputates his finger; that’ll learn him.

    uproar if a line like that was said in a TV show that it just wouldn’t be allowed to go out.

  • Another great ‘Of The Time’ moment was when the language expert decides to light up and have a cigarette whilst sitting by Smiffershon’s bedside in the hospital ward. It’s amazing to think people thought this was acceptable.
  • Beyond coming up with a convenient way for Harrow to lose his finger, there’s no good explanation for the huff his wife took upon seeing him talking to a female colleague other than ‘Bitches Be Crazy, Yo’.
  • It seems as though every day is a school day. Watching this I discovered that a cretin is a genuine medical term for someone who has grown to be disproportionately small thanks to a thyroid condition. I think I know one or two people like that.
  • Smiffershon sounds like Jon Pertwee in Episode One of Spearhead From Space. “Shoes”.
  • Showing that buildings made around this time look very similar to each other, the outside of the hospital looks exactly like Dundee College. I’m guessing very few people will care about that.
  • This is the second episode I’ve seen that has finished on a cliffhanger of ‘I guess the guy we’ve locked up for being crazy was right’. A bit soon to go back to that particular well I’d say.

Out of the Unknown – Some Lapse Of Time Review: Final Thoughts

It’s a decent idea, but like I say, I’ve seen it done better in the likes of Day of the Daleks.

On the whole, it’s unnecessarily complicated, and fails to connect the dots properly in making all that much sense.

I doubt it’s an episode I’d want to watch again.

Remember to buy my books, focusing on my reviews of Doctor Who from the 1960s through to present day. You can read more about them here

Also, on a completely different note, if you’ve got any friends who post the crappest Facebook status updates in the world every day, you might get a kick out of my piss-take Facebook blog, ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 


Out of the Unknown – Time in Advance Review (or ‘An Interesting Idea, But Poorly Explained’)

May 28, 2015

Next up in my run-through of Out of the Unknown – even though it’s not in the correct order – is another episode set in the far future.

Considering the last one I watched, I’m not holding out that much hope.

But maybe Time in Advance will prove to be better.

Out of the Unknown – Time In Advance Review: What’s This One About?

In a topsy-turvy world where prisoners serve their sentences before they commit their crimes, two men return from their spell in the clink with a free pass to commit one murder each.

But who will they kill?

Thoughts – An Interesting, If Poorly Explained Idea

I love an episode of a science fiction show that comes up with an interesting and different idea. Like I said in my last OOTU review, science fiction is such an open-ended genre that it gives a massive scope for

Peter Stephens appears to be dressed as Santa's evil capitalist brother

Peter Stephens appears to be dressed as Santa’s evil capitalist brother

people to be creative.

Time in Advance is built around an interesting and creative idea.

In this civilisation, people are able to find out in advance what crimes they commit and then serve time by helping establish settlements on new colony worlds. Then, they can come back and freely commit the crime that they served the sentence for, without further repercussion.

Within the context of how this episode is built, this works quite nicely as it’s all based around the two prisoners – Crandall and Henck – deciding on who to kill whilst under an intense media spotlight. The people they know and used to love are concerned that it might be them, while the one that Henck wants to kill turns out to have already died in his absence.

This all builds up to a satisfying – if a little predictable – conclusion.

But my problem is that the script just assumes an acceptance on the part of the viewer of how this justice system operates.

There are questions that I don’t think are answered either well enough or at all.

For example…

  • Beyond ‘time travel’ how do people find out what crime they have committed?
  • If they know they commit a crime in the future, why don’t they know who they commit a crime against? Considering Henck’s wife – the only person he wants to kill – dies in the interim years, surely he’s wasted his life by blindly accepting a punishment like that?
  • And what if they die whilst serving their sentence? Or before they can at least carry out the crime?
  • Why do they make these reformed ‘criminals’ – who aren’t really criminals yet – into figures of public scrutiny? Won’t that just mean people are on edge?
  • If the situation they find themselves in is one of personal choice, why not simply choose not to commit the crime in the future?
  • How is this deemed a better justice system?

So on that score, it’s not all that well thought out, and so the episode suffers for it.

The Look

There’s something wonderfully quaint about how Time in Advance looks.

Much like Doctor Who from the same era, this is clearly a show made on a shoe-string budget, with sets cobbled together from cheap materials available at short notice.

This visual effect of a world with futuristic architecture looks good for the time

This visual effect of a world with futuristic architecture looks good for the time

And just like Doctor Who, you’ve got to say that they do a good job making the best of the situation, with some areas looking pretty good for the time.

Where the show falls down though is in the costume design, which is lousy. Almost every character seems to be wearing baggy, ill-fitting jumpers and dodgy blonde wigs.

All that serves to do is make the actors – no doubt classically trained actors who have spent many a moonlit night treading the boards – look daft in fancy dress. The worst example is the character of Stephenson, who looks like he’s dressed in a leftover Santa Claus coat.

It’s of the era, of course it is, but Doctor Who at least shows that it can be done better.

The Old British Actors Checklist

The two main stars of Time in Advance are Mike Pratt (Randall of Randall & Hopkirk fame) and Edward Judd (star of one of the most underrated Sci Fi movies I’ve seen, The Day the Earth Caught Fire).

Fans of Doctor Who will be familiar with Jerome Willis (The Green Death), Peter Stephens (The Celestial Toymaker & The Underwater Menace), Philip Voss (Marco Polo & The Dominators) and Wendy Gifford (The Ice Warriors)

Random Observations

  • A common complaint I think I’m going to have about Out of the Unknown is that episodes can take a while to get to the point of what they are about. This one takes around 8 minutes before you’d have even the slightest clue of what’s going on.
  • I read a comment that Out of the Unknown is perhaps where the cliché that science fiction is ‘Shakespearean actors proclaiming in bacofoil’. I liked that. They could be on to something…
  • Another complaint I read – and this is a common theme in people’s reviews of Out of the Unknown – is that there are long scenes based around dialogue rather than action. That’s just what this show is like. In
    But this is just pitiful. It's a man standing on the other side of the wall for Christ's sake!!

    But this is just pitiful. It’s a man standing on the other side of the wall for Christ’s sake!!

    many ways it’s like a play based around a handful of sets.

  • To be fair though, there’s a scene in this with quite an impressive visual effect of the outside architecture. For the time, that looks great.
  • On the flipside, it also has perhaps the worst visual effect I’ve ever seen to go along with it. The scene where Crandall is speaking to a journalist on his video phone is so, so bad. It’s basically a man talking to him through a hole in the wall.
  • The ‘Swirling TV’ effect in Crandall’s room is about as 1960s ‘Space Age’ as it gets.
  • The writer of this episode appears to predict the future, with ‘crazy’ ideas like debit cards, online booking and sushi bars being proclaimed as something new and exciting.
  • The sound of the gun used in the attempted assassination of Crandall is a Dalek gun noise from around the same time. That was cool.
  • But my god, that scene is probably the slowest, most stutteringly directed one I’ve ever seen.

Out of the Unknown – Time In Advance Review: Final Thoughts

With hit and miss visuals and based around an idea that is great in theory, but perhaps isn’t thought through fully, Time in Advance blows hot and cold.

Overall though, I think it’s enjoyable enough to give the thumbs up to.

Certainly the best ‘Space Age’ episode I’ve seen so far.


Remember to buy my books, focusing on my reviews of Doctor Who from the 1960s through to present day. You can read more about them here

Also, on a completely different note, if you’ve got any friends who post the crappest Facebook status updates in the world every day, you might get a kick out of my piss-take Facebook blog, ‘Stuart’s Exciting Anecdote of the Day’ 



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