jj

11/10/2011 1:42 AM

jphalt's Doctor Who reviews

Hello all:

Some of you may recall I was posting my "Doctor Who" reviews on here.
Around the end of my last 2nd Doctor sequence, I discovered I was no
longer able to paste my reviews without reformatting them - simply too
much work to bother with. As the batch of reviews after that was all
audio, and those reviews attract far fewer replies, I simply let it go
until I reached my next batch of TV stories - which I've just done
this weekend, with "Planet of Evil" (the last review on the list
below).

Given the new difficulties with simply copying and pasting my reviews
here, from this point on I'll just post links to new reviews as I post
them on my blogger site. That should also reduce clutter in the
newsgroup, as everything related to my reviews will be confined to one
thread.

To catch up from my last posting here, these are the reviews I've
created since my posting of "The Macra Terror."


2ND DOCTOR REVIEWS:

Resistance (BF Companion Chronicle)
http://companionchroniclesreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/3-9-resistance.html

The Forbidden Time (BF Companion Chronicle)
http://companionchroniclesreviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/5-9-forbidden-time.html


3RD DOCTOR REVIEWS:

Shadow of the Past (BF Companion Chronicle)
http://companionchroniclesreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/4-9-shadow-of-past.html

Walls of Confinement (BF Short Trip)
http://dw-shorttrips.blogspot.com/2011/08/2-c-walls-of-confinement.html

The Sentinels of the New Dawn (BF Companion Chronicle)
http://companionchroniclesreviews.blogspot.com/2011/09/510-sentinels-of-new-dawn.html



Bringing me to my most recent review, and the first TV review since
"The Macra
Terror."

4TH DOCTOR:

Planet of Evil
http://jphalt-doc4.blogspot.com/2010/10/81-135-138-planet-of-evil.html

Feel free to comment here or on the site. Next up: Pyramids of Mars.


This topic has 125 replies

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 12:13 PM

On Oct 29, 6:04 am, [email protected] (The Doctor) wrote:
> In article <[email protected]m>,
>
> [email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
> >A review of the Big Finish audio Short Trip, "Chain Reaction," has
> >been added:
>
> >http://dw-shorttrips.blogspot.com/2011/10/2-d-chain-reaction.html
>
> Add them here in full context.
>
> Your posts are good discussion.
> --
> Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
> God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
> Ontario, Nfld, and Manitoba boot the extremists out and vote Liberal!

Can't - at least, not without fully retyping them. Something changed
with either this newsgroup or with Google Groups, and when I've tried
to paste the reviews here, I've gotten messages that the text lines
extend too far for the reader. That's why there were no reviews
posted here for more than a month - because I frankly wasn't (and am
not) going to take an extra 20 minutes to fully retype each review
once I've finished it.

I'll try again in another few weeks, to see if the problem's resolved
itself. If not, then I don't think clicking a link before reading is
really an unreasonable hindrance.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

05/11/2011 2:15 PM

That review completes my second sequence of Fourth Doctor reviews.
Next up will be the Fifth Doctor's second run, with:

The Visitation
Black Orchid
The Darkening Eye (BF audio)
Earthshock
Time-Flight


...After which, I'll be skipping forward to review Series Six, which
comes out on Blu Ray near the end of this month. Sorry, fans of Docs
6 - 10, but there's no way I'm waiting months to review the newest
episodes, particularly since I've done so well at remaining unspoiled.

After I've reviewed Series Six, I'll go back and pick up the second
reviews of the later Doctors.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

24/11/2011 4:37 PM

In article
<[email protected]>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>THE VISITATION
<snip>
>He does play favorites with his
>young charges, clearly preferring Nyssa's company to the other two,
<snip>

I can't say I blame him. :)

I haven't seen the story since it was originally shown, and I have no
memory of it whatsoever, which rather supports your contention that it
wasn't very good.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

10/12/2011 6:20 AM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>Adric: He is described as "trunculent,"

Really? That makes me smile. Or was it your own typo?

Thanks for the review, which as always was interesting.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/01/2012 11:13 PM

SPACE/TIME

2 episodes. Approx. 7 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
Richard Senior. Produced by: Annabella Hurst-Brown.


THE PLOT

The Doctor and Rory are working on the TARDIS when there is a small
accident. Rory, distracted by Amy's short skirt, drops a thermo
coupling. No big deal, the Doctor tells them. "The TARDIS will lock
onto the safest space available." But the safest space available is...
inside the TARDIS! The ship has materialized inside itself. Going out
the external door causes the person to emerge from the TARDIS inside
the TARDIS. Going through the TARDIS inside causes you to come through
the external doors - back into the TARDIS. Unless the Doctor can
unravel this spatial paradox, the three of them will be trapped for
all eternity!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Matt Smith gives a typically energetic performance. This
is a Comic Relief special, and as such is all in fun. Even so, Smith
brings a hint of gravity to the Part One cliffhanger, making us
believe that to the Doctor, at least, this is a serious situation.

Amy/Rory: Amy passed her driving test the first time - by cheating,
according to Rory. "She wore a skirt," he observes. "Have you ever
seen Amy drive? Neither did her examiner." When a second Amy appears,
from slightly in the future, Amy finds herself rather fetching -
something Rory doesn't object to at all. Karen Gillan and Arthur
Darvill are in good, spirited form, and their chemistry is if anything
even more natural than it was in Series Five.


THOUGHTS

One can only do so much to review a 7 minute Comic Relief sketch, but
I do have to applaud the slickness of this little production. This is
every bit as polished as a proper episode. No one is winking at the
camera, and tech credits are on par with the regular series.

As was the case in Time Crash, Steven Moffat shows that he can craft a
clever and engaging script that actually works within a tiny running
time. The situation is a simple one, almost certainly cribbed from the
TARDIS-within-a-TARDIS sequence in Logopolis, only given a comedic
spin. As such, the plot fits just fine into the brief running time.
It's fast paced, but it isn't rushed.

As expected from Moffat, the two episodes feature a flood of clever
lines and a fair amount of sexual innuendo. There's also the expected
playing with time, with the characters interacting with, then
becoming, their future selves. There's no real meat to it, just the
writer having fun playing with his toys. But Moffat and his actors
clearly are having fun, which makes the whole thing quite a lot of fun
to watch.

And really, given the brevity of the whole thing, what more could you
ask than that?


Rating: 7/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/02/2012 6:30 PM

I would say 7/10 and not 4/10.

A lot of myth is involved yes.

However the surprises involved makes this worthwhile watching.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Birthdate : 29 Jan 1969 Croydon, Surrey, UK

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/03/2012 3:20 PM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
<snip>
>Regardless, the failure of the finale or any other point in the season
>to address what I still believe were deliberate holes in the premiere
>is the one failing of this episode, and the one reason why I'm not
>ultimately awarding it full marks.

Knowing Moffat, I wouldn't be surprised if he has plans for filling in
those holes during the next series. There's nothing that says that a
plot arc can't stretch over more than one series. Or maybe, when it
became known that Karen Gillan and Arthur Durvill would be leaving
during the next series, he decided that this meant that what he had
originally intended to fill the holes with would no longer be
appropriate.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/06/2012 11:43 PM

Next up will be my second set of 7th Doctor reviews. Stories to be
reviewed are as follows:

Delta and the Bannermen
The Fires of Vulcan (BF audio)
Red (BF audio)
Dragonfire

Coming probably after a couple weeks' break.

Te

"Tahiri"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

22/07/2012 2:39 AM

> I wonder if the writer and producer of the "New Who" story set in the
> same time and place were aware of this story. If so, they clearly
> weren't worried about the Tenth Doctor running into the Seventh! :)
> --
> John Hall
>
Very good point, the timeline seriously overlaps. However the Big Finish
audios are probably not very well known among the general public (I have
never seen them for sale in shops) so they might not have worried even if
they had known about it. I suppose you could always make out that one of the
stories happened in an alternate reality.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

06/09/2012 6:40 PM

THE SILVER TURK (BF AUDIO)

4 episodes. Approx. 126 minutes. Written by: Marc Platt. Directed by:
Barnaby Edwards. Produced by: David Richardson.


THE PLOT

Having convinced Mary Shelley (Julie Cox) to accompany him in the
TARDIS, the Doctor decided to take her for a quick hop to Vienna. He
hopes to reunite with friends, but the TARDIS slips forward in time,
bringing him and Mary to 1873. This is the year of the Vienna World
Exposition, and the Doctor is all too happy to show it off to Mary.

It becomes quickly apparent, though, that all is not well in this
city. There has been a series of mysterious deaths, men whose bodies
were found eyeless after savage attacks. All the victims had invested
in Alfred Stahlbaum (Christian Brassington)'s creation, The Silver
Turk. When the Doctor investigates, he discovers that the Turk is no
man-made automaton. It is a Cyberman - crippled, but still dangerous.
And it is not alone!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: The instant he realizes that the Turk is a damaged
Cyberman, he becomes intently focused on one goal: destroying it. He
knows that even a crippled Cyberman is a killer-in-waiting, and
recognizes the threat that the Cyber technology poses in this time and
place where it simply doesn't belong. The Doctor's most formidable
trait remains his intelligence. It's armed with nothing more than his
wits that he defeats the surviving Cyberman at the end, confusing it
with a peculiar blend of flippancy and philosophy.

Mary: It's worth remembering that The Company of Friends: Mary's Story
had been released years before this title. This means that The Silver
Turk doubles both as a first trip in the TARDIS for her and as a re-
introduction to her for the audience. In this, the story is highly
successful. It evokes Mary's Story at many points, with Mary's
protectiveness of the deteriorated Cybermen recalling her empathy for
the "monster" Doctor in that story - only this time, of course, she
ultimately finds that the monsters actually are monsters.

Mary doesn't fully trust the Doctor yet, and her realization that she
has just run off with a man she barely knows recalls a similar scene
for 9th Doctor companion Rose Tyler in The End of the World. She also
reacts to the walking monstrosities of the villainous Drossel (Gareth
Armstrong) with genuine terror, actually abandoning the Doctor at one
point and fleeing for her life. Moments like this make her believably
human, and Julie Cox's acting ability is up to the task of keeping her
sympathetic even when showing weakness.

Cybermen: Though a Tenth Planet Cyberman is prominently pictured on
the CD cover, this really isn't a Cyber story. The Cybermen are as
much victims as villains, one reduced to slavery by Drossel and the
other shown off as a curio by Stahlbaum. Even when the surviving
Cyberman reveals his agenda at the end, he doesn't come across a
strong threat due to his poor condition. They are effective at evoking
the Frankenstein story, however, and supplement the tale here very
effectively.


THOUGHTS

The Silver Turk is one of those releases where everything comes
together to create a splendid entertainment. Marc Platt's script
manages to be literate while at the same time remaining accessible and
fast-paced. Barnaby Edwards' direction is atmsopheric, but not so
heavy-handed as to smother the sense of spontaneity, of events
happening as we listen to them.

Almost all of Platt's audios are very visual. His use of dialogue,
theme, and setting tends to make it easy to summon pictures in your
mind. The Silver Turk features some wonderfully creepy images. The
badly-damaged Cybermen are memorable enough, one with one arm and
dressed up as a Turk, the other with no legs but three arms it uses to
propel itself (referred to by Drossel as "Dog"). Even more chilling is
Drossel's army of walking, talking, murdering marionettes. The
addition of human eyes, some of them plucked from the sockets of
living victims, is a ghoulishly inspired detail.

The tone is set right from the start. A young mother (Claire Wyatt)
sings a lullaby to her baby, the soundscape making sure to linger on
the disturbing nature of the lyrics even as we dissolve to a man
running for his life. The man believes himself safe when finds a taxi,
but then has an eerie and odd interaction with the driver - eventually
revealed to be Drossel. As Drossel's "dog" claims the hapless victim,
we return to the lullaby, allowing the moment to sink in before the
Doctor arrives and begins the story proper.

The production lends plenty of atmosphere, from use of echoes to the
way one scene sometimes will dissolve over the start of the next, to
the sounds of a storm. There's a chase between two horse-drawn taxis,
a tricky thing to pull off on audio, which is edited with precision
into a genuinely exciting sequence.

The performances of the leads are splendid, the actors making the most
of Platt's dialogue. Paul McGann is at his most energetic, moving
easily from whimsical to grimly focused and back again. He and Julie
Cox get a lot more time to play off each other here than in Mary's
Story, and their partnership is off to an engaging start. Finally,
Gareth Armstrong's Drossel manages to be imposing even as he indulges
in just the right amount of ham to show that this villain is also a
performer, one who loves an audience. Supporting performances are more
variable, but there are no obvious "weak links" to disrupt the flow.

Well-acted, and scripted and produced with an eye toward unsettling
atmosphere, The Silver Turk is a delight. Highly recommended.


Rating: 9/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

07/12/2012 4:04 PM

THE IDIOT'S LANTERN

1 episode. Approx. 45 minutes. Written by: Mark Gatiss. Directed by:
Euros Lyn. Produced by: Phil Collinson.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS materializes in London, 1953, on the eve of Queen
Elizabeth's coronation. The Doctor and Rose have only barely stepped
outside before they witness a bizarre scene: Mysterious men in black,
taking a man away from his home while his relatives protest. It's a
scene that's become common in this small neighborhood, as men and
women have been transformed by their brand new television sets,
purchased cheap from local electronics dealer Mr. Magpie (Ron Cook).

The transformations are effectively appetizers, feeding The Wire
(Maureen Lipman), a presence that lives within the television signal.
The Wire is preparing for a feast: The coronation, when for the first
time in British history millions of people gathered around television
sets. The Doctor is determined to stop the creature from its feast,
and he's been given one added piece of incentive.

The Wire's most recent victim is Rose!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: "Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you know."
The Doctor deals with two different figures, both of whom initially
oppose him: Detective Inspector Bishop (Sam Cox) and Eddie Connolly
(Jamie Foreman). Bishop is a career detective in over his head. His
interrogation of the Doctor quickly turns into a confession that he
just doesn't know how to deal with this situation. The Doctor quickly
sizes him up as a good man and offers his help. By contrast, Eddie
Connolly is a fool, a blowhard in love with the sound of his own
voice. The Doctor sizes him up quickly as well, and dismisses him as
an obstacle.

Rose: The smugness the character sometimes displays in Series Two is
at its worst here since Tooth & Claw. There's a scene in which she
observes the Doctor's dismissal of Eddie Connolly, then chips in by
embarrassing the man further. The Doctor's act serves a purpose,
getting the blowhard out of the way so that he can talk to his more
reasonable wife and son. Rose's followup is just spite. Combined with
her being all too obviously all too pleased with herself about it, her
actions actually serve to make me feel a little sympathy for Eddie -
or at least, it might have done, had Eddie been portrayed as having
even a single redeeming quality.


THOUGHTS

The Idiot's Lantern was one of the worst-received episodes of Series
Two, and it's easy enough to see why. The Doctor/Rose teaming is at
its most smug, their mutual admiration of each other's general
awesomeness making their interactions quite grating. The Connolly
family are drawn in broadstrokes, with Eddie in particular a one note
imbecile, making it hard to connect with them as real people. On top
of all this, Gatiss' script tilts toward the preachy in a ham-fisted
scene that gives Eddie Connolly his comeuppance.

In fairness, Tooth & Claw shared some of the same flaws, particularly
in the Doctor/Rose characterization. But while that episode made up
for it with a relentless pace, The Idiot's Lantern lacks anything
visceral or compelling. From start to finish, this episode feels
exactly like what it is: Filler.

With all that said, it's not bad filler, and probably does represent
writer Mark Gatiss' best television Who script (admittedly, damning it
with faint praise). It's better-paced than The Unquiet Dead, which
left most of its plot for the final ten minutes. And though Euros
Lyn's direction goes overboard in trying to be visually stylish, with
so many tilted camera angles that it gets distracting after a while,
it does at least add a bit of atmosphere to the proceedings...
something which can't be said of Gatiss' later, Moffat-era offerings.

There are a few nice visual beats, with a particularly good bit in
Magpie's shop as the Doctor sees the faces of all The Wire's victims
on the television screens. The Wire herself isn't a fully successful
creation. The idea is interesting, and Maureen Lipman is effective in
the scenes in which she's talking quietly in kindly tones. But when
The Wire is reduced to shouting, "Hungry!" and cackling evilly, she
comes across more like a Scooby Doo villain than anything else.

Overall, this isn't a bad episode, but it also isn't a good one. It
sort of sits in the middle, watchable but unmemorable. The sort of
show for which the term, "Meh," was created.


Overall Rating: 5/10.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/10/2011 2:09 PM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
<snip>
>Bringing me to my most recent review, and the first TV review since
>"The Macra
>Terror."
>
>4TH DOCTOR:
>
>Planet of Evil
>http://jphalt-doc4.blogspot.com/2010/10/81-135-138-planet-of-evil.html

Thanks. It's good to have your reviews back. Unfortunately I haven't
seen the story since it was first broadcast, so I can't usefully comment
on it.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 6:54 PM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>On Oct 29, 6:04 am, [email protected] (The Doctor) wrote:
>
>Can't - at least, not without fully retyping them. Something changed
>

Can you not do a copy/paste? That is really arestrictive if not.


--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Ontario, Nfld, and Manitoba boot the extremists out and vote Liberal!

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

31/10/2011 10:47 PM

On Oct 31, 3:36 am, John Hall <[email protected]> wrote:
> In article
> <[email protected]m>,
>
> "[email protected]com" <[email protected]> writes:
> >In short, tone and incident match. Chain Reaction is a light,
> >pleasant, clever diversion. Judged on that basis, I find it a
> >thoroughly enjoyable one.
>
> I haven't heard it, but going by your description it sounds like fun. Do
> you have any comments about Louise Jameson's performance as the
> narrator?
>
> <snip rating>
> --
> John Hall
> "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
> by those who have not got it."
> George Bernard Shaw


Jameson's a terrific narrator. She obviously can't imitate Tom (can
anyone?), but she does a reasonable job of suggesting him. More
importantly, particularly for a dialogue-light story, she is very good
at putting enthusiasm and verve into describing events. The pace of
the reading increases as the incident of the chain reaction strikes,
then slows when it is interrupted.

Really, one pleasant surprise of both the "Short Trips" and Companion
Chronicles ranges is just how good most of the chosen "Who" alums are
as readers. Outside of Deborah Watling, I can't think of any really
weak readers, though certainly some are stronger than others. Louise
Jameson tends to be one I'd rate among the strongest, though.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

06/11/2011 8:33 AM

Don't worry about the 6 to 10th or 11 stuff. Just post your reviews
for discussion.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Ontario, Nfld, and Manitoba boot the extremists out and vote Liberal!

CC

Carson Chittom

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

25/11/2011 10:55 AM

[email protected] (The Doctor) writes:

> In article <[email protected]>,
> [email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>>THE VISITATION
>>
>>4 episodes. Approx. 96 minutes. Written by: Eric Saward. Directed by:
>>Peter Moffat. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.
>>
>>
>>Rating: 5/10.
>>
>
> I would say 7/10. This did give us a new villain.

...and the Terileptils were never again used (a shame, I rather think).


--
http://www.wistly.net

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/01/2012 8:35 PM

I'll next be moving on to reviews of Series Six. There will be a
delay, as I'm re-watching Series Five before moving on.

A couple quick placement questions, please, regarding two titles:

1) Sarah Jane Adventures: Death of the Doctor. Does this go before or
after "A Christmas Carol," or does it matter?

2) "Night and the Doctor" DVD scenes. Do these slot in at any
particular point in the season, or is placement irrelevent?


Any help would be appreciated. I've stayed successfully unspoiled
about Series Six, and if I were to look up the answers myself, I'd
risk wrecking at least part of that effort.

Thanks!

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

21/01/2012 2:00 PM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES: DEATH OF THE DOCTOR
<snip>
>
>At a brisk 52 minutes total, all of it in the company of characters
>who are effortlessly likable, this is definitely a worthwhile
>addition, both to The Sarah Jane Adventures and to Doctor Who.

I agree with that summary. What really made it memorable for me was the
marvellous performance by Katy Manning. I think that both she and Lis
Sladen were better actors by then than they had been some forty years
earlier, which I suppose is only to be expected. (I understand that
nowadays one isn't supposed to call them "actresses". :)

>
>
>Rating: 7/10.
>

I'd probably give it 8.

I know that some people turn their noses up at the SJA series, and I'm
glad that you aren't among them. I must confess that I rather turned my
nose up at it myself before I started watching it, thinking that it
would be "kid's stuff". But when I overcame my prejudice and began
watching, I found that it was very engaging, and sometimes incorporated
some more imaginative story-lines than most of those in "Doctor Who"
proper.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

20/02/2012 9:18 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE DOCTOR'S WIFE
>
>

10/10 is saying perfection. Neil Gaiman is good but not
perfect.

I say 9/10
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Birthdate : 29 Jan 1969 Croydon, Surrey, UK

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

26/02/2012 10:22 PM

I had expected "A Good Man Goes to War" and "Let's Kill Hitler" to
form a 2-parter. Now that I've watched them, I realize that they are
actually completely separate episodes. Therefore, they will get
completely separate reviews, starting with...


A GOOD MAN GOES TO WAR

1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
Peter Hoar. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

Amy is being held captive by Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber), who is
working with the Headless Monks and the army the Monks are paying to
guard her. It's a trap for the Doctor, one that he's all too willing
to walk into. But the Doctor has raised an army of his own, calling in
favors from across all of time and space. With a semi-reformed
Sontaran (Dan Starkey), Silurians, and the roguish Dorium Maldovar
(Simon Fisher Becker), the Doctor is going to turn the tables on the
opposing army and free Amy Pond. All without firing a single shot.

But he's playing someone else's game, and his every move only serves
to advance their purpose. The Doctor may be winning this battle - but
without even realizing it, he may be losing a much larger larger war.


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Another blisteringly good performance by Matt Smith. As
the Doctor appears to be winning during his storming of the space
station, he is all confidence and bluster - but with an angry edge,
furious that this army has tried to attack him through his friends.
When Madame Kovarian makes a comment about how many rules good men
like the Doctor have, the Doctor reveals that he does not consider
himself a good man: "Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day
to find out why I have so many." The end of the episode sees him
realizing that he is now viewed as far more than just the wanderer he
started out as. He is now seen as a warrior, as someone to be feared.
It is fear of him that has caused this situation to come into being.

Amy: She trusts absolutely in the Doctor's promise to come for her,
and warns the one sympathetic soldier (Christina Chong) to be on the
right side when he does come. Gets some strong emotional scenes as
well, ones which show Amy's maternal side once more.

Rory: I'd never really thought about it until Amy's opening monologue,
but Rory really does have a lot in common with the Doctor. He's
centuries old in a young man's body. He has witnessed the rise and
fall of civilizations, and has maintained an inherent decency
throughout. And he becomes rather fierce in defense of those he loves.
The teaser, in which he faces down a Cyberleader to press him for
information, is a rare "hero" moment for the frequently-sidelined
Rory. Yet the opening tough guy moments don't compromise his ability
to be plain, decent Rory when he's reunited with Amy. Arthur Darvill
remains terrific, and it's good to see him getting meatier material
this season.

River Song: We finally learn exactly who she is. I'm not certain how
well it fits with what we've seen before, but it might be interesting
to go back and watch her Series Five appearances with her true
identity in mind. She is sympathetic in her dealings with the Doctor,
Amy, and Rory, but the softness in her voice makes it all the more
devastating for the Doctor when she lays out for him what he may be
turning into.


THOUGHTS

The choice to split Series Six into halves is used to good effect in
this "mid-season finale," which ramps up the action and special
effects to the level of a true finale. We get space stations, outer
space combat, opposing armies of human and Silurian soldiers, and
multiple big explosions. It plays very much like Doctor Who: Hollywood
Action Movie. Except the action movie grandeur is subverted, of
course, with the Doctor's triumph being snatched away from him by an
enemy who has managed to outthink him while he's been busy playing
Bruce Willis.

It's probably the one way in which that kind of pure action format
could really work with Doctor Who. Our thinking man's hero becomes an
emotional and angry action hero. He raises an army, attacks in
force... only to end up being outthought. It's extremely clever - the
term probably most used to describe most Steven Moffat scripts. And
the "action film" trappings make for a tremendous amount of momentum
and a handful of genuinely arresting visuals.

The part of this episode I most enjoyed, though, was the parade of
guest characters. Strax (Dan Starkey), the Sontaran nurse who barks
out medical advice like he's giving orders on the field of battle. The
return of Dorium Maldovar, last seen in The Pandorica Opens, both
smarter and funnier than in his first appearance. Vastra (Neve
McIntosh) and Jenny (Catrin Stewart), a Victorian-era Silurian and her
maid/lover, both of whom are accomplished martial artists. Vastra is a
particularly strong character, the first to point out that the
Doctor's anger may be leading him to make mistakes. The flirtatious
banter between her and Jenny, combined with a more reflective side
opposite the Doctor, make her a character I'd love to see again.

Though this is clearly all stage setting for later events, A Good Man
Goes to War is breathtakingly entertaining, stuffed with clever plot
flourishes and strong character scenes. It's not so much of a story in
itself as it is one extended set piece, connecting the first half of
the season to the second half. But viewed in that context, it is a
thorough success. Big, fast, wonderfully dramatic, and a lot of fun to
watch.


Rating: 9/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

04/03/2012 8:20 PM

THE GIRL WHO WAITED

1 episode. Approx. 45 minutes. Written by: Tom MacRae. Directed by:
Nick Hurran. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

The Doctor brings Amy and Rory to the planet Apalapucia, a pleasure
planet where he promises a fantastic holiday. But a delayed Amy
becomes separated from the Doctor and Rory. It becomes apparent that
she's caught in a separate time stream. Hours, days, even weeks are
passing for her while only minutes go by for her friends. That's when
they learn that the planet suffered a plague whose victims will die
within a day. Out of desperation, the people of Apalapucia used their
technology to stretch that day so that it would last for a lifetime.

The Doctor quickly puts together a lash-up to find Amy, and brings the
TARDIS into her time-stream. He can't go himself, as Time Lords are
susceptibe to this disease but humans are not. So he sends Rory to
find and recover her. But the Doctor, who has kept Amy waiting so many
times in the past, has gotten the times wrong again. Decades have
passed within this time-stream. Instead of his lovely bride, Rory
finds an aging, bitter Amy, filled with hatred at the Doctor for
ruining her life!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: The teaser provides a pretty good summation of the
Doctor's character, this Doctor even more than previous incarnations.
The TARDIS materializes in a featureless room with a single door. Amy
wants to take a moment to get something from the TARDIS. All the
Doctor has to do to avoid the crisis is wait for one or two minutes.
But there's a door in front of him. Of course he's going to go through
it, and of course he's not going to wait. The last part of the episode
sums up the other part of his character, the darker part. This is a
man who's become a warrior, even a killer. He can save his friend, the
young Amy, but not if he saves the older Amy, the one he failed. Of
course he's going to want to save the younger version, and of course
he has the ruthlessness needed to ignore the cries of the older
version. In these scenes, Matt Smith's impassiveness is downright
chilling.

Amy: The episode provides Karen Gillan an opportunity to show her
range. She is very good as the older Amy, transforming everything from
her style of line delivery to her body language to show someone who is
constantly on guard, for whom paranoia has simply become a way of
life. The older Amy's overriding self-interest is off-putting, but it
does fit with the episode. This is someone who has been entirely alone
save for killer robots for 36 years. Of course her self-preservation
instincts and her selfish qualities will be magnified - Her entire
world has been herself and keeping herself alive, nothing more! Her
love for Rory shines through in both her older and younger variants,
though, as she ultimately agrees to help recover the younger Amy. Not
for her younger self, who is just a memory to her; not for the Doctor,
who she now despises; only for Rory.

Rory: In Vampires in Venice, Rory's first episode as a companion, he
called the Doctor on the danger he posed to those he traveled with.
That is echoed here, when he again calls the Doctor on his
carelessness, demanding to know why he didn't plan his trip to this
planet better. When the Doctor blithely replies that isn't the way he
travels, Rory thunders back, "Then I don't want to travel with yoU!"
Really, this is as much Rory's episode as Amy's, maybe more. Rory gets
put through the wringer here, having to contend with the idea of
losing his wife to a stupid accident, then of gaining his wife back as
a hardened middle-aged warrior. In the end, the Doctor calls on him to
make a choice that just isn't in Rory's nature, and Rory can't quite
do it - at least, not without the older Amy's help. After the events
of this episode, I can't help but think that Rory's days on the TARDIS
are numbered. I don't see how the writers could sidestep his obvious
readiness to end these travels, which have become less a dream and
more a nightmare for him.


THOUGHTS

The Girl Who Waited is a good episode that might have been a great
one. The story concept is intriguing, and it manages to present a
"Doctor-lite" episode in such a way that you barely notice the
Doctor's minimized screen time. The regulars are all on top form, and
the production is one of the most visually arresting of a season
that's been generally outstanding in this regard.

The visual element deserves particular praise. The white-on-white
rooms and corridors, reminiscent of the void from The Mind Robber's
first episode, arrested my attention immediately. The garden set is
also quite lovely, and you can see how this centre could be a nice
place to spend a lot of time - if not for the threat of the well-
meaning but deadly robots, of course.

The first 20 minutes are excellent. The dilemma is established very
quickly, and it's both interesting and involving. Amy's "first day" in
the centre is a wonderful sequence, as she moves quickly from enjoying
the chance to walk around and explore the garden to running and hiding
in terror from the robots. The pace slows a bit once Rory encounters
the older Amy, but the story remains intriguing and Amy's
transformation to a bitter woman is startling, wonderfully acted by
Karen Gillan, and convincing in terms of the plot. All of this works,
even the younger Amy's plea for the older Amy's help "for Rory's
sake."

What doesn't quite work for me is the ending. This season has shown a
regrettable tendency to overdo the sentiment. The Rebel Flesh had its
suspense/horror aspects undermined by an overdose of sentiment near
the end. Any potential Night Terrors had was smothered by a saccharine
ending in which the Doctor made a very bad speech to inspire the
little boy's father to go to the rescue. And now this otherwise very
good episode stumbles at the end, in my opinion, by falling into the
same trap.

A little sentiment is good. But self-sacrifice is an overused trope in
Doctor Who anyway, and older Amy's defining trait is her heightened
sense of self-preservation. Imagine an ending in which older Amy
continued to bang on the TARDIS door, begging and pleading for her
life as first the TARDIS disappeared, then the robots closed in on
her. To me, that would have been vastly more effective than having yet
another sentimental speech made as older Amy sacrifices herself in a
scene that's overdone to the point of unintentional comedy.

Sentiment is a part of drama, of course, and has a reasonable place in
Doctor Who. But I think too many of this year's episodes have gotten
the balance wrong, have overegged the sentiment until the results
become melodrama. And this episode becomes the biggest offender,
simply because the rest of the show is so good, making the one
misplayed scene all the more frustrating.

Still a good episode, mind you, one I wouldn't think of skipping. I
just wish it had backed off the saccharine sentiment, just a little
bit, at the end.


Rating: 7/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

13/03/2012 10:09 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> It was certainly an ambitious
>year. All told, I liked Series Five better. But I appreciate the
>ambition of Series Six, and I think it succeeded a lot more than not.
>

Indeed. Matt so far is off to a start. I still think he has noit
shaken off the shadow of David Tennant though.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

22/07/2012 4:39 PM

On Jul 21, 11:39 pm, "Tahiri" <[email protected]> wrote:
> > I wonder if the writer and producer of the "New Who" story set in the
> > same time and place were aware of this story. If so, they clearly
> > weren't worried about the Tenth Doctor running into the Seventh! :)
> > --
> > John Hall
>
> Very good point, the timeline seriously overlaps. However the Big Finish
> audios are probably not very well known among the general public (I have
> never seen them for sale in shops) so they might not have worried even if
> they had known about it. I suppose you could always make out that one of the
> stories happened in an alternate reality.

Well, I don't see any conflict between the two stories. The 7th
Doctor and Mel have an adventure involving one set of guest characters
in one part of the city. A city's a big enough place that the 10th
Doctor and Donna could simply be having another adventure elsewhere in
town without the two sets of characters ever running into each other.

After all, it's not like that's ever been a problem with having the
various Doctors in the same time period in London.

As for the two stories? They're nothing alike. One is a pure
historical, with the conflict coming from the conflicting agendas of
different people whose agendas are based entirely on their (fairly
well-researched) backgrounds. The other is a sci-fi alien invasion
story that happens to be set against Pompeii. I prefer "The Fires of
Vulcan" by a considerable margin, but that likely has a lot to do with
my personal preferences - I loved the pure historicals of 1960's, and
felt it was a great shame that the show stopped doing them so early in
its run.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/10/2012 8:24 PM

ARMY OF DEATH (BF AUDIO)

4 episodes. Approx. 110 minutes. Written by: Jason Arnopp. Directed
by: Barnaby Edwards. Produced by: David Richardson.


THE PLOT

The Doctor brings Mary to the planet Draxine, where he has promised a
fun and peaceful time. He should know better by now than to make such
promises. The city of Garrak has been leveled by a bomb detonated by
its president, who was also the leader of an insane death cult. The
city of Stormhaven still stands, but its new President, Vallan (David
Harewood), is out of his depth in the current crisis.

Not that many people wouldn't be. Garrak's dead have risen as animated
skeletons, and are laying siege to Stormhaven. If the Doctor cannot
determine what intelligence is animating the dead and what it wants,
then it may be the end for both cities!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: He is instantly intrigued by the skeletons. Instead of
simply reacting to the threat of them, as the Stormhaven guards do, he
thinks to let them through - an act which saves lives, and which
allows him to see what their short-term goal is. When he learns the
full extent of the force affecting the dead bones of Garrak, he cannot
disguise his genuine fascination with the project. It repulses the
moralist in him, but he is also a scientist who thirsts for knowledge
and an adventurer who craves new ideas and adversaries, and he is
excited at both the accomplishment and the spectacle.

Mary: Is taken aback by the Doctor's fascination with something she
sees simply as an obscenity. This does not actually shake her faith in
him, as she can also see that he works to save lives and that he is
ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of strangers. Still, it is
here that she finally sees how alien he is. This part of Mary's
characterization works well. Less effective, however, is a strand of
the story that sees Mary struggling with growing feelings for the
Doctor - something only vaguely hinted at in the other stories of the
season, and whose prominence here jars. This either needed to be
explored in the previous stories or dropped from this one. Preferably
the latter, as the Companion with a crush on the Doctor idea has been
done before, and done better.


THOUGHTS

The 8th Doctor/Mary Shelley season ends with what I expected (and
hoped) would be an all-out horror piece, with armies of walking
skeletons assaulting a sole human city. A fantastic idea, to end a
strongly horror-themed Who season on such a tale.

But there's no horror to be found in Army of Death. There's no real
atmosphere, little sense of dread. Army of Death does not even seem to
be meant to be frightening.

This is an odd choice for a story constructed around an army of the
walking dead. But that's okay - I long ago promised myself I would not
trash a story for what it is not. Army of Death largely ignores the
horror elements and instead attempts to be an action piece, with a
fast pace and multiple set pieces. Not the choice I wanted made, but
it's not like I don't enjoy a good, fast-paced action story.

For just over three episodes, the story works on this level. The set
pieces are strong and visually engaging, the pace is fast, the music
is distinctive. The guest characters are a bit bland for the most
part, with only David Harewood's flawed president making any real
impression, but they're functional enough to carry the plot. And in a
story like this, Plot Is All.

The downfall of a story that's made up largely of action set pieces,
however, is that such a structure demands a climactic set piece that
tops all that came before it. Writer Jason Arnopp attempts this, using
the Hollywood "bigger is better" mentality. But... Well... He applies
that mentality a bit too literally. Because what happens after the
army of skeletons reach their goal? What comes at the end of all this?

If you don't want to know, you should stop reading now.

Because at the end of the story...

We get...


THE MONSTER

Once all the human skeletons reach their objective, they combine,
Voltron-style, to form one gigantic skeleton which calls itself "The
Bone Lord" (yes, the giant skeleton can speak. Unfortunately).

The Bone Lord is a major miscalculation. An army of skeletons = good.
Skeletons are inherently creepy, in that they reflect us with all the
surface polish and personality removed. An army of the walking,
faceless dead - an army of what we will someday become - attacking us?
That is effective.

But a Godzilla-sized skeleton that declares itself "The Bone Lord"
before setting about the serious business of stomping Tokyo? That's
just another giant monster, in a series that's had no shortage of
those over the decades. It simply isn't viscerally effective. It's
actually rather boring.

The climax is also weak in writing terms, much weaker than the rest of
the story. Stray characters are squashed so that, Saward-style, the
script doesn't need to worry about doing anything with them. There's
not one, but two heroic self-sacrifices (TM) - both from the same
character, at that! Oh, and the villain pauses to explain its
motivation to the Doctor, just because sometimes a villain needs a
good gloat. The explanation is... unsatisfactory.

Thankfully, this is a season finale, so there's a brief epilogue
between the Doctor and Mary that allows things to end on a character-
centric note. This scene is very well-written, and is wonderfully
performed by Paul McGann and Julie Cox. This tag allows both story and
season to go to credits on a grace note.

But it's not quite enough to wash away the bad taste of a narrative
blunder that all but kills this story for me. For the first three
episodes, I was leaning toward awarding a "6" to Army of Death. But
the climax squashes that score to a more dismal level.


Overall Rating: 4/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

03/11/2012 4:41 PM

...Which ends my second set of 9th Doctor reviews. After a break,
I'll be back with my second set of 10th Doctor reviews, to include:

The Rise of the Cybermen
The Resurrection Casket (BBC audio)
The Idiot's Lantern
The Nightmare of Black Island (BBC audio)
The Impossible Planet

sp

solar penguin

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 10:19 AM

Tahi wrote:

>
> Thanks for that. I had not realised you were posting your reviews eslewhere
> as well. I always found Pyramids of Mars one of the truly memorable stories,

I know what you mean about "memorable". I've tried forget it, purge
it from my memory totally, but I can't.

> so I shall look forward to seeing if you think it has stood the test of
> time.

Strange way of putting it.

Unfortunately, the nostalgia factor means that as time passes, people
actually start to think all that stupid gothic horror shit from the
Hinchcliffe era was somehow good, rather than the stupid gothic horror
shit it actually was.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

31/10/2011 6:36 AM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>Since John Hall was able to copy + paste successfully, I'll test it
>now. Fingers crossed.,,

It seems to have appeared just fine. :)

<snip>
>
>In short, tone and incident match. Chain Reaction is a light,
>pleasant, clever diversion. Judged on that basis, I find it a
>thoroughly enjoyable one.

I haven't heard it, but going by your description it sounds like fun. Do
you have any comments about Louise Jameson's performance as the
narrator?

<snip rating>
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

05/12/2011 9:16 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>BLACK ORCHID
>
>2 episodes. Approx. 50 minutes. Written by: Terence Dudley. Directed
>Rating: 6/10.
>

I say 9/10 . Good plot and exposed the aristocracy at the time.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy New Year 2012 !

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/02/2012 2:04 PM

In article
<[email protected]>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
<snip>
>Don't get me wrong -
>The Curse of the Black Spot is a watchable enough time filler - but on
>future viewings of Series Six, this is one I'll choose to skip.

That sounds about right. I'd probably watch it again purely because of
Lily Cole, who looks like a model for the pre-Raphaelites born about 150
years too late.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

aK

[email protected] (Ken Arromdee)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

24/02/2012 4:58 PM

In article <[email protected]>,
John Hall <[email protected]> wrote:
>I think it was as close to perfect as one could ever hope to see in
>Doctor Who. If that story isn't marked as ten then the mark may never be
>used, meaning that you effectively have a scale of only 0 to 9.

I'd mark The Doctor's Wife at at most 8/10 and probably a lot less.

I know that Neil Gaiman is a professional writer famous for Sandman and
many more things, but this story comes across exactly like if a fan were
to write a episode and scripted the story well, but used the opportunity
to put their own fan ideas into canon rather than to really write an
episode of the series as it is.

Unfortunately, much of the modern Doctor Who has been like that.
--
Ken Arromdee / arromdee_AT_rahul.net / http://www.rahul.net/arromdee

Obi-wan Kenobi: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."
Yoda: "Do or do not. There is no 'try'."

sp

solar penguin

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/02/2012 5:31 AM

Ken Arromdee wrote:

> In article <[email protected]>,
> John Hall <[email protected]> wrote:

> I know that Neil Gaiman is a professional writer famous for Sandman and
> many more things, but this story comes across exactly like if a fan were
> to write a episode and scripted the story well, but used the opportunity
> to put their own fan ideas into canon rather than to really write an
> episode of the series as it is.

I agree. Silly, annoying fanwanky nonsense from beginning to end.
Mind you, from what little I've heard about Gaiman's other writing,
"silly, annoying fanwanky nonsense" seems to be his main gimmick, so
it's hardly surprising he uses it here as well.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/03/2012 9:52 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>CLOSING TIME
>
>1 episode. Approx. 45 minutes. Written by: Gareth Roberts. Directed
>by: Steve Hughes. Produced by: Denise Paul.
>
>
>
>Rating: 5/10.
>

I rate this 6/10 . For once it was the Modasian and
not the parallel Earth bunch.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k

IM

"Inigo Montoya"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/04/2012 10:24 PM

wrote in message
news:[email protected]...

>NIGHT AND THE DOCTOR
>
>4 episodes: Bad Night, Good Night, First Night, Last Night. Approx. 14
>minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by: Richard Senior.
>Produced by: Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger, Beth Willis.

What's this from?

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

04/05/2012 11:34 PM

DAVROS (BF Audio)

2 episodes. Approx. 150 minutes. Written by: Lance Parkin. Directed
by: Gary Russell. Produced by: Gary Russell.


THE PLOT

Arnold Baynes (Bernard Horsfall), head of TransAllied, Inc. (TAI), has
come into possession of a new asset: Davros (Terry Molloy), the long-
reviled scientist responsible for the creation of the Daleks. Baynes
believes that Davros' genius will give his company the spark it needs
to expand outside our galaxy. His wife, historian and Dalek apologist
Lorraine Baynes (Wendy Padbury), thirsts to interview Davros for a
"definitive biography." Neither realizes just how dangerous their
newest employee truly is.

The Doctor is at TAI on completely unrelated business. He is
determined to look into the corporation in a smart, careful fashion.
Then he sees Davros, and all thoughts of caution evaporate. He stalks
into the company, demanding to know what Baynes thinks he's doing.
Within minutes, he finds himself agreeing to work with Davros on TAI's
projects - to keep himself in a position to thwart any plot Davros
might hatch.

But the brilliant Kaled scientist is already several steps ahead of
him...


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: You can hear the relish in Colin Baker's voice as he dives
into this high-quality script. Writer Lance Parkin makes sure to
emphasize the Doctor's compassion, his value for life. He agrees to
continue working with Davros to cure the galaxy's famine problem,
simply because he cannot turn his back on such a situation. You can
hear the sincerity in his voice as he warns Baynes that Davros will
destroy him. When Davros is subjecting innocents to high doses of
radiation, the Doctor waits to stop him until after he acts to save
those lives. And yet this is still the prickly Sixth Doctor, who can't
resist baiting Davros with childish behavior or with remarks about the
chair-bound scientist being a "stand-up comedian."

Davros: As good as Colin Baker is, this story truly belongs to Terry
Molloy's Davros. Though we're never fooled into thinking that he has
changed, the first half of the serial does seduce us into empathizing
with him, if only a little. In flashbacks, we hear the "human" Davros,
before the explosion that crippled him. He seems to be a very normal
man. In another flashback, we hear his horror just after the explosion
as he views his savagely burned face. Meanwhile, in the story's
present, he is contemplative. He insists to the Doctor that he
believes he can change, and he may even be sincere in his desire to
change.

Then the second half reminds us of his evil. The flashbacks become
darker, and we see that he was a monster long before his exterior was
burned and scarred to make his nature visible. We get as much of a
look into his psyche as a Doctor Who adventure story can allow, and
what we see is pathetic. Davros is a "spoiled child" who cannot stand
the idea of competition, who only feels powerful when he uses his
genius to destroy. "There can never be too much destruction!" he
declares. As we hear him giggling even while listening to the dying
moans of his latest victims, we realize that he means it.


THOUGHTS

Davros is a genuinely great audio story, one of the best of Big Finish
Production's entire Doctor Who range. It's a long story, taking up the
entire length of the two cd's it occupies. A full 150 minutes. But
it's compelling. It would be a disservice to say that the story goes
by in an eyeblink while listening. Time actually stops while listening
to this story, a story which envelopes the listener in its world and
its narrative.

Lance Parkin was one of the best writers of the Doctor Who book range,
which makes it surprising that he's only written a couple of stories
for Big Finish. He's done superb work here. Given the assignment to
write a story for Davros without the Daleks, he draws on the
background given the character in his televised stories and fills in
the blanks. Flashbacks show us the war-torn Skaro that was the only
home Davros ever knew, the harsh conditions of which molded him into
the man he became.

Credit must be given to Jim Mortimore's sound design. A story which
mixes past and present must always take particular care to
differentiate the two. That's even true of visual works, let alone on
audio. The production team use the Dalek "strobe" to identify the
flashbacks. Every time Davros recalls his time on Skaro, that sound
plays constantly in the background. That and a faint echo lend a
feeling of unreality to the scenes in the past, while transitions
between the flashbacks and the present are extremely well-judged.

Though superb, Davros is not flawless. There's a subplot involving
Willis (Eddie de Oliveira), an investigative journalist following up
on information about TAI. Willis is a weak character, effortlessly
outclassed by the heavyweight cast surrounding him. He exists to
provide an excuse for the Doctor's presence at TAI when Davros
arrives. Better if the Doctor had just been there by chance; I can't
really picture him being concerned with the petty day-to-day
skullduggery of corporations.

Despite the misjudged Willis subplot, Davros is one of Big Finish's
masterpieces. Wonderfully acted, particularly by Colin Baker and Terry
Molloy, and boasting a compelling script, this is one of a handful of
audio Who stories I'd comfortably refer to as "a classic."


Rating: 10/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/06/2012 10:09 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>Season 22 (and my second set of 6th Doctor reviews) comes to a close
>with the best, if most atypical, story of the season:
>
>
>REVELATION OF THE DALEKS
>
>
>Rating: 10/10.
>

Agreed!! THe all time classic. You are
correct about the 18-month hiatus.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
That church which changes with the times cannot also be abiding in Christ

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

21/07/2012 4:56 PM

In article
<[email protected]om>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>THE FIRES OF VULCAN (BF AUDIO)
>
>4 episodes. Approx. 102 minutes. Written by: Steve Lyons. Directed by:
>Gary Russell. Produced by: Gary Russell.

<snip>

I wonder if the writer and producer of the "New Who" story set in the
same time and place were aware of this story. If so, they clearly
weren't worried about the Tenth Doctor running into the Seventh! :)
--
John Hall

"The beatings will continue until morale improves."
Attributed to the Commander of Japan's Submarine Forces in WW2

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2012 7:21 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE LONG GAME
>
>Rating: 7/10.
>

I would say 6/10 . This is a silly epsidoe in way of speaking.
Still it does set us up for the grand finale.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
USA petition to dissolve the Republic and vote to disoolve it in November 2012

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

01/12/2012 2:27 AM

THE RESURRECTION CASKET (BBC AUDIO)

2 episodes. Approx. 150 minutes. Written by: Justin Richards. Produced
by: Kate Thomas. Read by: David Tennant.


THE PLOT

Starfall is a world powered by steam. There is no electricity, because
nothing electrical will function. Starfall is in a region of space
called the Zeg, a region of electromagnetic disturbances that simulate
the effects of an electromagnetic pulse. One so strong that even the
TARDIS is put out of commission by it.

This leaves the Doctor and Rose to find a more conventional way out of
the Zeg to continue their journeys. They quickly make friends: Silver
Sally, a young woman who runs a pub and who is half steam-powered
machine thanks to an accident; Jimm, a boy raised on stories of the
legendary space pirate Hamlek Glint; and his Uncle Bob, Starfall's
foremost expert on Glint.

Glint disappeared ten years earlier, leaving behind the mystery of
what happened to his ship, The Buccaneer, and his treasure. Wealthy
Drel McCavity is obsessed with the lost treasure, particularly its
centerpiece: The Resurrection Casket, the secret to Glint's seeming
invulnerability.

The Doctor senses an opportunity in this, promising that he can locate
the pirate's lost ship. The TARDIS is bundled aboard a steam-powered
spaceship, and Silver Sally is quick to locate a robot crew. All is
going according to the Doctor's plan, and they are quickly on their
way out of the Zeg, free from its interference.

But Sally hides a secret past. McCavity has secrets of his own, and
his own agenda. All too soon, the Doctor and Rose discover that the
pirate past they have gone searching for is all too real in the
present!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Having lost so much himself, he is quick to recognize loss
in others. That doesn't require much effort when dealing with Drel
McCavity, who wraps himself up in his loss as if it were a heavy (and
gaudy) cloak. But he also recognizes this quality in Jimm's Uncle Bob,
and shows clear empathy. These moments, when the Doctor becomes quiet
and empathetic, make this a particularly good characterization. The
flippancy is there, and even a touch overdone in places - but it's not
the only note used, as is the case with certain other 10th Doctor
books.

Rose: Her joy at befriending Sally, a young woman close to her own
age, keeps her from picking up on hints that there is more to Sally
than what's on the surface. She is shocked when she overhears Sally's
secret, even after witnessing the ease with which the young woman
gathers a robot crew and the familiarity with which she talks about
the space sharks. Despite her sense of betrayal, Rose cannot condemn
the other woman to death. The Doctor seems to trust in Rose's
compassionate nature, stating that she "always makes the right
(choice)."


THOUGHTS

Fun.

That's the word that best describes this story. The Resurrection
Casket is unapologetically constructed out of pre-owned parts. It's
basically a Robert Louis Stevenson pirate yarn in space... directly
transplanted into space, complete with real space sharks. I was
surprised there was no scene involving the Doctor having to walk a
plank.

It's all very silly, of course, and every plot twist is signposted
well in advance. But it's good-natured and sprightly. The Doctor and
Rose are well-characterized, the guest cast is sufficiently colorful,
and there are a handful of very well-turned set pieces.

In short, this tale is really rather good fun.

The Resurrection Casket was one of the three audio books that launched
the BBC new series audio range. As with the other two titles, The
Stone Rose and The Feast of the Drowned, the audio benefits greatly
from the reading by David Tennant. Seemingly born for audio books,
Tennant throws himself in with real enthusiasm, altering his pitch and
delivery for each character so as to create the illusion of a full
cast.

As with all of the early BBC audio books, The Resurrection Casket is
abridged. There are points at which you can tell there are gaps -
places where material should be, but isn't. This isn't a criticism of
the abridgment, which has been done with care and judgment. But when
you cut a book's text in half, the odds are good that you're going to
leave a few holes in the story.

The most noticeable of these occurs about a third of the way into Disc
Two. The Doctor, Rose, and the various non-robotic guest characters
connive their way into an escape pod. It is not the pod carrying the
TARDIS, though, which leaves them at an impasse. There's a pause for a
scene change - and then the pod is arriving at the Buccaneer! It feels
like an entire chapter vanished into the abridgement and, while the
plot itself remains intact, it is jarring.

Despite minor issues, this pirate pastische in space is the most
purely enjoyable of the early new series audio books. Boosted by a
spirited reading by David Tennant, I have no hesitation about
recommending it.


Rating: 7/10.

Te

"Tahi"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

15/10/2011 7:28 PM

> Bringing me to my most recent review, and the first TV review since
> "The Macra
> Terror."
>
> 4TH DOCTOR:
>
> Planet of Evil
> http://jphalt-doc4.blogspot.com/2010/10/81-135-138-planet-of-evil.html
>
> Feel free to comment here or on the site. Next up: Pyramids of Mars.
>

Thanks for that. I had not realised you were posting your reviews eslewhere
as well. I always found Pyramids of Mars one of the truly memorable stories,
so I shall look forward to seeing if you think it has stood the test of
time.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 5:41 AM

A review of the Big Finish audio Short Trip, "Chain Reaction," has
been added:

http://dw-shorttrips.blogspot.com/2011/10/2-d-chain-reaction.html

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

30/10/2011 4:52 PM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>On Oct 29, 6:04 am, [email protected] (The Doctor) wrote:
>> In article <[email protected]
>>oglegroups.com>,
>>
>> [email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>> >A review of the Big Finish audio Short Trip, "Chain Reaction," has
>> >been added:
>>
>> >http://dw-shorttrips.blogspot.com/2011/10/2-d-chain-reaction.html
>>
>> Add them here in full context.
>>
>> Your posts are good discussion.
>
>Can't - at least, not without fully retyping them. Something changed
>with either this newsgroup or with Google Groups, and when I've tried
>to paste the reviews here, I've gotten messages that the text lines
>extend too far for the reader.
<snip>

Would you object to someone else copying and pasting them here for you?
Giving you credit, of course.

Here's a small sample extract:

THE PLOT

On a hot summer day at an English shopping centre, the Doctor sets a
coin rolling toward a pigeon. This simple act sets off a chain reaction
that has effects both minor and major on several of the people in the
parking lot - and attracts what should be genuinely impossible
interference from a particularly stubborn security guard.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

01/01/2012 2:41 PM

TIME-FLIGHT

4 episodes. Approx. 97 minutes. Written by: Peter Grimwade. Directed
by: Ron Jones. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.


THE PLOT

The Doctor is trying to take Tegan and Nyssa to the Great Exhibition
of 1851, to take their minds off Adric's death. But the TARDIS
materializes at Heathrow Airport, 1982 - the very place the Doctor had
been trying to reach throughout the first half of the season. They
arrive to learn that a Concorde flight has vanished into thin air. The
Doctor is enlisted thanks to his UNIT credentials, and he quickly
determines that the missing airplane vanished down a time contour.

He insists on recreating the conditions of the flight, using another
Concorde to follow the first one's path. He has his TARDIS loaded onto
the plane, and he and his companions monitor the flight from inside.
The console readings tell him what he already suspected: They have
been taken back in time, into the Jurassic era. But what waits for
them isn't dinosaurs, but rather Khalid, an ancient wizard who has
used what appears to be magic to transform the first plane's crew and
passengers into a slave labor force.

The Doctor confronts Khalid and appears to defeat him. But he has
fallen into a trap. Khalid is actually the Doctor's old enemy, The
Master (Anthony Ainley). And the Doctor has just become ensnared in
his most insanely convoluted plan ever!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: I'll give Peter Davison credit for trying. The story opens
with the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan mourning for Adric - then deciding
to just get over it and make a trip to the Great Exhibition to cheer
themselves up. As far as character writing goes, it's down there with
a chipper Barbara telling us that she's completely over her
experiences with the Aztecs in Part One of The Sensorites. The
difference is that Davison and his co-stars do their best to play
against the ridiculous dialogue. As they start chatting about the
Great Exhibition, the actors put a note in their delivery to signal
that they're simply going into very hard denial about what just
happened and grasping for anything to keep themselves busy. An
excellent look at actors trying to overrule bad writing through
performance alone, and for that one scene, it just about works.

Nyssa: Develops psychic intuition for this story - and only for this
story, as her psychic abilities are never mentioned again on
television (though Big Finish made use of them a few times on audio).
Her mind is somehow receptive to the Xeraphin, which allows her to
lead Tegan to their inner sanctum. She also takes the lead when with
Tegan. She does mention the Master's killing of her father, but then
barely reacts to the Master's presence in the story's second half -
which is quite a comedown from the fierce, "That face - I hate it!"
moment in Castrovalva.

Tegan: Remains the more emotional of the Doctor's companions. She's
the one who pushes the Doctor to violate the laws of time to save
Adric. She does seem cowed by his angry response. But when she sees
Khalid's illusion of Adric, apparently alive and pleading with her and
Nyssa to save him, she is the one who wants to stop. It's the more
intellectual Nyssa who recognizes the illusion for what it is and
presses on. Left to her own devices, Tegan would have stopped at that
moment.

The Master: This is the story in which Anthony Ainley's reputation as
a particularly campy Master begins to take hold. He spends the first
two episodes disguised as the evil wizard Khalid... for reasons that
completely escape understanding, unless you go on the assumption that
the Master just wants to "drezz for the occasion." After revealing
himself, the Master proceeds to do very little in the second half. He
cackles a lot and threatens various guest characters and extras with
his Tissue Compression Eliminator. But mostly he just prances from one
set to another, marking time until the Doctor can fool him with the
Technobabble swap meet that makes up the, er, "climax" of Episode
Four. And yes, the climax of this story does indeed appear to be the
Doctor and the Master swapping bits of plastic on a bad studio set.


THOUGHTS

A rather good season of Doctor Who comes to a dismal end with Peter
Grimwade's Time-Flight. Why is it so bad? "I'll explain later."

No, wait. That was the Doctor, waving away any need to provide a basis
for any of the proclamations he makes at any point in the serial.
Steven Moffat must have been thinking of Time-Flight when he wrote The
Curse of Fatal Death. At least there, "I'll explain later" was meant
to be funny. Here, it's just lazy writing, which is employed so often
across these four episodes that it practically becomes a catch-phrase.

Really, for a story that's notorious for poor production values, it's
startling how much of Time-Flight's failure comes down to bad writing.
The story is utterly nonsensical, with the Master's plan bordering on
incoherence. The guest characters are flatly written, with the un-
hypnotized characters behaving in just as artificial a fashion as the
hpynotized ones! I find it hilarious, for example, that Professor
Hayter (Nigel Stock) spends Episode Two being an irritating boor whom
the Doctor barely tolerates... only for the Doctor to turn around and
choose him as his pseudo-companion near the start of Episode Three!
Sure, the story looks cheap. But the real problem is that the script
doesn't even pretend to hold together.

Too bad, because it all starts out fairly well. The first two episodes
are absorbing. Cheap-looking, to be sure, but also well-paced and
moderately intriguing. Had this been a 2-parter, with Khalid simply
being who he pretended to be and his initial "defeat" being genuine,
then this would have been a perfectly acceptable bit of fluff.

Unfortunately, once it truly becomes a Master story, what had been
entertaining nonsense transforms into abject stupidity. The Xeraphim
are introduced midway through Episode Three, with their entire
backstory delivered in a mind-numbing infodump. Meanwhile, the episode
pads out its running time as the Master tromps in and out of the
Doctor's TARDIS while the Concorde flight crew watches through a
doorway. So half of the episode could be summed up as, "Nothing
happens," and the other half consists of exposition so dense and
clunkily delivered that it practically becomes white noise. Episode
Four is even worse, alternately rushed and padded. As if to add insult
to injury, the story is resolved and the Master defeated... via some
trickery the Doctor performed offscreen!

The good news is that Peter Grimwade would be recommissioned for
stories in Seasons 20 and 21, and would do a much better job of
writing something watchable in those stories. Based on this debut
offering, I'd have probably advised him to stick with directing.


Rating: 2/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/01/2012 10:08 AM

Keep up the good work.

You do well.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Birthdate : 29 Jan 1969 Croydon, Surrey, UK

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/02/2012 11:55 AM

THE CURSE OF THE BLACK SPOT

1 episode. Approx. 43 minutes. Written by: Stephen Thompson. Directed
by: Jeremy Webb. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS detects a ship in distress: Specifically, a 17th century
pirate ship, becalmed in the middle of the ocean. The ship's crew have
been picked off one by one, each man marked for death by a black spot
on his hand as soon as he receives the slightest injury. Their
predator is a siren (Lily Cole) who rises from the water to claim the
wounded sailors, destroying them with a single touch. And after a
close encounter with the remains of the pirate crew, the Doctor and
Amy are shocked to find that Rory now carries the siren's mark!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Is so instinctively in charge that he can't help but clash
with the captain of the pirate ship. Much of the story's first half
sees these two captains, one of time and one of the sea, vying for
dominance of the situation. Truthfully, the Doctor seems to enjoy
sparring with Capt. Avery (Hugh Bonneville), and he rapidly bonds with
the other man. The story does see the Doctor rejecting one working
theory after another regarding the siren. This would seem to make him
ineffectual, but what it really shows is how fast his mind works. He
initially believes the siren is using the water to travel. This fits
with all the available facts. Then the siren materializes in a dry
room with reflective surfaces, leading him to change his theory to fit
those facts. Each time his current theory is disproved, he moves to
another one - and with each one, he moves closer to the truth. For a
hero who was originally introduced as a scientist, this is quite
fitting and is by far my favorite element of the episode.

Amy: Thinks fast to save the Doctor and Rory from the pirates - and
unwittingly provokes the siren in the process. Her maternal instincts
show themselves in her scenes with Toby, as she attempts to protect
the boy from the truth of what kind of ship his father truly captains.
She also has not forgotten, and cannot shake, having seen the Doctor's
death. She knows she can't tell him about it, but she is clearly
struggling under the weight of that knowledge.

Rory: Gets scratched early in the episode, and spends much of the rest
of it under the influence of the siren's spell. This gives Arthur
Darvill a turn doing some amusing "drunk acting." His training as a
nurse asserts itself at the story's finish. Other than that, he is
little more than a plot device this time.


THOUGHTS

Having had the big, season-setting 2-parter, we now move to the
crucial event of every television season: The filler episode.

The Curse of the Black Spot is pure filler. There are a few nods at
the season arc, with Amy seeing the one-eyed woman looking in through
a window again and a quick flashback to the Doctor's future death (a
flashback to the hero's future. Only in a time travel show). But these
are throwaways around the edges of a pure standalone story, a story
that's mostly a pirate pastische.

As long as the episode contents itself with being a pirate pastische,
The Curse of the Black Spot is reasonably fun to watch. All the
standbys are on-hand. A ship of pirates, a cursed treasure, a mystical
siren, a plucky boy, and a captain with a past. There's even a (brief)
mutiny and a scene in which the Doctor walks the plank. It's all very
shallow and obvious, but it is entertaining.

Then the narrative takes a shift in the last ten minutes, and suddenly
we're watching a completely different type of story. Nothing actively
conflicts with what's gone before. But the amusement value drops as
the pirate elements all but disappear. In their place, we get some
very mild, vaguely Star Trek-like science fiction trappings, ones
which lack any sense of atmosphere. An attempt at an emotional climax
involving Amy and Rory misfires, leaving the end of the story even
more bungled than it had been already.

A pity. If this script could have just contented itself with being a
lightweight pirate piece, it would have been far more successful. But
that final stretch cripples the episode, one which already wasn't on
track to be one of the series' better offerings. Don't get me wrong -
The Curse of the Black Spot is a watchable enough time filler - but on
future viewings of Series Six, this is one I'll choose to skip.


Rating: 4/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

20/02/2012 5:03 PM

THE REBEL FLESH

2 episodes: The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People. Approx. 88 minutes.
Written by: Matthew Graham. Directed by: Julian Simpson. Produced by:
Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS materializes on an island in the distant future, the site
of a top-secret mining operation located in a medieval monastery. The
miners are pumping incredibly corrosive acid in an operation so
hazardous that the miners used to lose a person per week. But now
technology has stepped in with a solution: The Flesh. Organic, living
but not sentient, the flesh can be molded to become a "ganger," a
physical avatar for its users. An industrial accident is no longer a
hazard to a human miner. Only the flesh dies - and it's easily
replaced, to the point that it's more upsetting to lose equipment than
to lose a "man."

But the Doctor recognizes that the Flesh is life of a far more complex
nature than the miners realize. When a storm hits, the miners' Flesh
duplicates become aware individuals. Now there are two of each
individual on the island. The Doctor wants to resolve this mess
amicably, and is well on his way to doing so - until Cleaves (Raquel
Cassidy), the supervisor, decides to take the direct approach. She
kills one duplicate, and in so doing starts a war.

The Doctor barricades the humans in the monastery's most secure room -
the chapel. There, he makes the most shocking discovery of all. Not
only is there a duplicate of every member of the mining team. There is
a second Doctor, as well...


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: After his very emotional performance in The Doctor's Wife,
Smith is much more subdued here. A good choice. If he did that level
of emoting in every episode, it would get old fast. Here, he's very
much the traditional Doctor: showing up at a location, investigating
strange occurrences, and trying to save people from their own foibles.
Mostly, he's just providing a steady presence to anchor the episode,
though he does bring some fireworks to bear at the very end.

Amy: Continues to see flashes of the eyepatched woman, first glimpsed
during her walk through the nightmarish children's home in Day of the
Moon. She is very protective of both the Doctor and Rory. When the
duplicate Doctor appears, she refuses to accept him as being fully the
Doctor, referring him as "almost" the Doctor and refusing to fully
trust him.

Rory: His compassionate side gets more focus. He bonds with Jennifer
(Sarah Smart), even after learning that she is a ganger. His decency
helps her to stabilize and convinces her to try to trust the human
workers. That ends up making her the most bitter of the gangers after
Cleaves fires on them. Even then, Rory is the most appalled of the
regulars and the first to disarm Cleaves. He insists on staying behind
to find the "real" Jennifer when the Doctor leads the others to the
more defensible chapel. His pragmatic side also shows itself. Though
he wants to save both Jennifers, when one half-accidentally kills the
other, he does not waste time with recriminations. He accepts what has
happened, then focuses on protecting the one that remains.


THOUGHTS

The equivalent of the Silurian 2-parter from last season, complete
with a very traditional "Classic Who" structure and a (too-)
substantial amount of moralizing. If this were a classic series story,
it would be a Pertwee.

Still, it should be said that Matthew Graham's second Who story is a
vast improvement on Fear Her, the cheapie he churned out for Series
Two. The direction of the story is clear very early on, but it is
never less than entertaining. The monastery provides for some suitably
creepy atmosphere, and the transformation of one character from a
genuinely sweet and likable individual into a monster is surprisingly
convincing.

Most of the holes aren't with the story itself, but with the
backstory. Why are they extracting acid and pumping it to the
mainland? We don't really know, and it's not something the story's
overly concerned about. The "solar tsunami" is presented as a planet-
threatening crisis in Part One. Turns out, it's just a bad storm. They
might as well have just used a garden variety thunderstorm to provoke
the accident. But I guess that wouldn't have been "sci-fi" enough.

The guest characters are a mixed bag, with only Cleaves and Jennifer
managing to emerge as anything other than stock figures. The other
characters (yes, including the white-haired dad) are ones I'd have to
look up to even tell you their names. The story also doesn't quite
sustain its 90 minutes. There's definitely more running around between
different bits of the monastery than is truly narratively necessary
and, after a while, it just becomes wearying.

More interesting than the main story is the ending - an ending which
seems to indicate that the show is now ready to start really dealing
with some of the questions raised by the season opener. I think the
first Act of this season is now done, and look forward to seeing where
things go from here.


Rating: 6/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

27/02/2012 9:47 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>And the next one...
>
>
>LET'S KILL HITLER
>
>1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
>Richard Senior. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.
>
>
>Rating: 7/10.
>

Even if this was dull, you need to pay attention.
I got thrown for a loop with the Flesh. I should have been
paying attentino to this episode as a Doctor get ut of jail episode.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Birthdate : 29 Jan 1969 Croydon, Surrey, UK

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

08/03/2012 9:12 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE GOD COMPLEX
>
>1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Toby Whithouse. Directed
>by: Nick Hurran. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.
>
>
>
>Rating: 9/10.
>

I would say 8/10 myself. God Complex was a doubleplay.
The characters were trapped in a building called the God Complex.
The Doctor according to one of the characters has a God complex.
Choose your poison.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

18/04/2012 11:38 PM

THE TWO DOCTORS: THE PLOT

3 episodes. Approx. 133 minutes. Written by: Robert Holmes. Directed
by: Peter Moffatt. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.


THE PLOT

The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companion, Jamie (Frazer
Hines), are on a mission for the Time Lords. It's a simple diplomatic
affair. The Doctor is to meet with station head Dastari (Laurence
Payne) to ask him to suspend some time experiments - something which
doesn't please Dastari one bit. The negotiations are already going
badly when the station suddenly comes under attack by Sontarans.

Feeling ripples of the attack on his earlier, the Sixth Doctor decides
to visit the station. He and Peri arrive to discover the effects of
the massacre. Everyone is dead - save for Jamie, who escaped into the
station infrastructure. They learn that the Second Doctor was
kidnapped by Dastari, and follow the trail to modern-day Spain, just
outside Seville. That is when they discover the real architect of this
plot: Chessene (Jacqueline Pearce), an Androgum - a race driven
entirely by their drive for sensual pleasures. Chessene has been
genetically engineered to genius level, and is now manipulating
Dastari, the Sontarans, and her fellow Androgum, Shockeye (John
Stratton) in an attempt to gain power over the whole of creation!


CHARACTERS

The Sixth Doctor: This script is a particularly good match for Colin
Baker, with Robert Holmes' florid dialogue a perfect fit for the
actor's theatrical tendencies. The Doctor's speech about the stench of
decay and death when arriving at the space station is a wonderful
marriage of language and performance. There's what seems to be a ham-
fisted moment in Episode Two, in which the Doctor imparts exposition
to Jamie just in time to overheard by Field Marshall Stike... which
Episode Three then reveals was deliberate on the Doctor's part; he
noticed Stike's approach, and so he decided to say what he did to push
the Sontaran into action. Therefore, Holmes' script tailors this most
theatrical of Doctors to actually give a performance for the benefit
of his enemy.

The Second Doctor: The last of Patrick Troughton's three returns to
the series and, in my opinion, the best. In the multi-Doctor
anniversary specials during the Pertwee and Davison eras, Troughton
was fun to watch and certainly gave his scenes a boost with his
energy. But when I watch The Three Doctors or The Five Doctors, I can
never escape the sense that Troughton is playing a caricature,
essentially a send-up of what people remember his Doctor being like.
He was rarely as purely comical as the character we saw in those
specials. The script to The Two Doctors does seem to have mixed up
Doctors Two and Three a bit (the Second Doctor working for the Time
Lords, for instance), but it is the only of Troughton's returns that
allows him to play both his Doctor's comical and serious sides.

Peri: The Sixth Doctor/Peri partnership has settled in nicely by this
time. The two bicker, but it seems clear to me while watching that the
two characters are genuinely fond of each other. Even in the midst of
arguing on the space station, the Doctor pauses to lay a comforting
hand on Peri's shoulder, for example. Peri also shows a basic, person-
to-person compassion both Doctors lack. After Oscar's murder, the two
Doctors bundle out of the restaurant and start arguing about which way
they should go. Peri lingers a moment to comfort Anita, then angrily
quiets them.

Jamie: This story was made almost two decades after Frazer Hines' time
as a regular, and the years definitely show. Still, Hines' performance
is a good one. He and Troughton recapture their chemistry instantly,
and the interplay between the Second Doctor and Jamie in the opening
sequence is a joy to watch. He also plays well opposite Colin Baker,
to the point that I think it's actually a shame Jamie doesn't stick
around with the Sixth Doctor and Peri at the end of the story - The
dynamic works among the three characters, and the way in which Jamie
casually pokes at the Doctor's ego when he falls down a rickety ladder
is a wonderfully relaxed counterpoint to the more strident Doctor/Peri
bickering.

Shockeye: Of the many pleasures I find in this story, John Stratton's
Shockeye is the greatest. Shockeye, the Androgum chef, may be the
series' single greatest example of Douglas Adams' description of the
perfect Doctor Who villain: He's initially hilarious because of the
ridiculous things he says, then monstrous as you come to realize that
he means every word he says. His desire to eat a human begins as a
whim, then builds to an all-encompassing obsession. For the first two
episodes, his antics are largely comical, albeit darkly. Then he turns
frightening. The effective Episode Two cliffhanger sees him looming
over Peri, hands outstretched, intoning, "Pretty, pretty," in eager
anticipation of his next meal. His murder of Oscar in Episode Three is
casual violence, an act committed without thought and probably
forgotten by him within minutes. He becomes progressively more violent
from there, until he is finally chasing a wounded Sixth Doctor through
the fields, determined to kill him and probably eat him when he's
done.


THOUGHTS

The Two Doctors is an often criticized story, and not without reason.
The 45-minute format of Season 22 required this story to be a 3-
parter, which is at least half an episode too long. This results in
some pacing issues, and some general structural messiness.

The worst of the padding is in the slow-paced opening episode, which
sees far too much time devoted to the Sixth Doctor and Peri evading
the space station's automated defenses while picking their way through
the station infrastructure. These scenes really aren't bad. But given
that this material is only peripherally related to the main action,
it's ridiculous that the characters are still there for a good chunk
of Episode Two. Peter Moffatt's direction is too stagy to make up for
the lagging pace with atmosphere, and the Episode One cliffhanger is
one of the limpest of the entire series.

Add in an irritating guest character (James Saxon's imbecilic Oscar
Botcheby). Then mix in some structural issues, many of them the result
of the producer-imposed presence of the Sontarans in a story that
simply doesn't require them. It becomes easy to see why The Two
Doctors comes in for criticism.

So why do I enjoy it so much?

I do enjoy this story a lot. It is unquestionably my favorite
televised Sixth Doctor adventure, as well as my favorite multi-Doctor
story. And while the cast certainly deserve a share of the credit for
that, the main reasons I enjoy it come back to the same source as the
flaws: Robert Holmes' script.


OF POETRY AND PROSE

Robert Holmes has always been a writer who has enjoyed painting
pictures with words. This is one reason, I think, why his scripts tend
to stand out in classic Who. The show rarely had much money for visual
splendor - but at his best, Holmes had a knack for creating that same
feel with language.

The Two Doctors may be structurally flawed, but the language of its
script is rich and resonant. Holmes stuffs his characters' mouths with
words that evoke so much. Take the Sixth Doctor's musing about the
scent of decay:

"That is the smell of death, Peri. Ancient musk, heavy in the air.
Fruit-soft flesh peeling from white bones. The unholy, unburiable
smell of Armageddon. Nothing quite so evocative as one's sense of
smell, is there?"


Then there are Shockeye's many asides about the flavor and preparation
of meat. Or the Second Doctor, in Androgum mode, describing for
Shockeye the benefits of enjoying an appetizer before diving into the
main course:

"One should begin with a light dish, something to bring relish to the
appetite: Pate de foie gras de Strasbourg en croute, for instance, or
a serving of Belon oysters. Even a light salad with artichoke hearts
and country ham will suffice. It gets the digestive juices flowing!"


Only during Oscar's "definitive Hamlet" speech does the flowery
language fall flat. Most of the poetic lines go to Colin Baker,
Patrick Troughton, or John Stratton. And when these actors are
embracing Robert Holmes at his most vivid, the plot ceases to matter -
The language itself soars, creating something that's a genuine
pleasure just to sit back and listen to.


THE OPENING SEQUENCE

Nor is all the plotting as bad as I've made out. I've already
mentioned the structural flaws, most of them caused by overlength. So
now let me praise the serial's opening scenes, whose structural
tightness shows that Holmes still had all his storytelling instincts
fully intact.

The script tidily sets the pieces on the board all within this
sequence. The characters - Dastari, Shockeye, Chessene, and the
Sontarans. Shockeye's overriding desire to eat human flesh, Jamie's in
particular. The time experiments. Dastari's enhancing of Chessene, and
Chessene's relationship with Shockeye. Virtually every piece of what
follows is either seen or mentioned in these opening scenes, which
also manage to find time for some amusing Troughton/Hines interplay.


THEME

A final word for the way the script plays with theme. Thematic
resonance isn't something you find much of in classic Who, but Holmes'
script is stuffed with it. It's fairly well-known that Holmes, a
vegetarian, wanted to color his script as anti-meat, hence scenes such
as Shockeye detailing the treatment of animals bred for slaughter or
"tenderizing" a screaming Jamie while telling Dastari that primitive
humans "don't feel pain the same way you or I do."

But, intentionally or not, the various characters are bound together
by a theme of obsession. Every one of the villains is driven by an
obsession. Dastari is obsessed with Chessene, and so has enhanced her
to a genius intellect in order to "set her among the gods!" Chessene
is obsessed with power, with making the Androgums the dominant species
in the galaxy. Field Marshall Stike is obsessed with turning the tide
of the Sontarans' war agains the Rutans by using time travel
technology. Their obsessions bind them together to destroy the space
station, to blame that on the Time Lords, and to kidnap the Doctor.
But as their agendas start to conflict, the obsessive focus each
places on his or her own goals leads to conflict and ultimately
betrayal.

By contrast with the others, Shockeye's obsession with the purely
sensual (specifically with eating, though it's clear that the sexual
overtones in his menacing of both Peri and Jamie are not accidental)
seems almost pure and simple. Which doesn't make it any less brutal.
Even as the Sontarans literally self-destruct, even as Chessene turns
on Dastari, Shockeye remains intent on sating his appetite for flesh.
In this, he has other mirrors in the story: The Doctor's flirtation
with fishing, Oscar's obsession with his moths which he kills in order
to preserve and admire. Shockeye takes their actions to a new and
horrifying level - one which puts the Doctor straight off meat at the
story's end, as he agrees with Peri to embrace a "vegetarian diet for
both of us."


OVERALL

This is one of those stories, much like Logopolis, where I'm very torn
as to my final rating. As with that story, there are clear narrative
flaws that keep this from being a "10," much as I might like it to be.
The story is clearly overlong and is structurally sloppy. But it's so
entertaining as it alternates from comedy to horror to horror that is
blackly comedic. Holmes' script is among his most purely literate, and
his language often soars above the messy plot and pedestrian
direction.

My head says "7," my heart says "10." So I'm going to split the
difference and add in a bonus point for the masterfully grotesque
Shockeye.


Rating: 9/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

13/07/2012 9:51 PM

DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN

3 episodes. Approx. 73 minutes. Written by: Malcolm Kohll. Directed
by: Chris Clough. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS lands in a galactic toll booth, and the Doctor prepares for
some fast talking to get out of paying. But the Tollmaster (Ken Dodd)
has news for him: He is the toll booth's ten billionth customer, and
so he and Mel have won a trip with Nostalgia Tours to Disneyland,
1959.

The trip goes astray when the tour bus collides with an American
satellite, and the travellers crash land in the right year but the
wrong place. They are in Shangri-La, a run-down Welsh holiday camp.
Still, they determine to make the best of things, and the Doctor and
the bus driver quickly convince Burton (Richard Davies), the camp's
owner, to allow them lodging.

But two members of the tour are not what they seem. The reclusive
Delta (Belinda Mayne) is the last of the Chimeron, a race that was
hunted to extinction by the evil Gavrok (Don Henderson) and his
ruthless Bannermen. Also aboard is a bounty hunter - and he has just
reported Delta's presence.

Gavrok is on his way, and the siege of Shangri-La is about to begin!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Sylvester McCoy remains best in his quieter moments:
Reflecting over a dead mercenary that "violence always rebounds on
itself," or reacting nonverbally as young Ray (Sara Griffiths),
crestfallen at rejection from Billy (David Kinder), grabs the Doctor
for a dance. All of these moments are terrific ones for McCoy, who
seems absolutely in his element here.

However, the end of Episode Two showcases his greatest weakness as the
Doctor: His difficulty conveying anger. The face-down with Gavrok is
meant to be a climactic moment, one in which this Doctor finally shows
his full authority. But McCoy just doesn't pull it off. His rage isn't
convincing, and his authority flatly isn't there. When he orders the
Bannermen to release their prisoners and they comply, I'm wondering
why they don't just shoot him and have done with it.

Mel: Bonnie Langford's best performance in Season Twenty-Four. This
is, admittedly, not saying much. Still, Malcolm Kohll's script
deserves credit for highlighting the most appealing aspects of Mel's
character: Her compassion, her instinctive desire to help. Langford
seems very much at home here, and simple unforced moments such as Mel
enjoying herself at a dance go a long way toward making both actress
and character genuinely work for a change.

Ray: Or the companion who might have been. Sara Griffiths is
appealing, but I think the production team ultimately made the right
decision. Griffiths is charming, but Ray is fairly bland in what would
have been her establishing story. I suspect she would have receded
completely into the background had she been part of the series on an
ongoing basis.


GAVROK AND THE SEVENTH DOCTOR'S SECOND BIRTH

At the end of Episode Two, the Doctor confronts the story's principle
villain, Gavrok (Don Henderson). Gavrok is no Davros, no Master, no
Harrison Chase even. He isn't articulate, he doesn't have any grand
vision. If he even has a motive for wiping out the Chimeron, we aren't
told what it is. He doesn't even seem to take much satisfaction in his
misdeeds. He kills not for pleasure, but simply because he can.

As he chomps on a piece of raw meat, the Doctor comes to him under a
white flag of truce. Any of the Doctor's usual enemies would respect
that flag. It would only be civilized, after all, and his usual foes
never miss a chance for some urbane gloating. Gavrok sees him coming
and takes a potshot - not at the Doctor but at the flag, showing his
disdain. The Doctor snaps, appalled at everything that Gavrok is, by
his own admission going "a little too far" in castigating the villain
from a position of powerlessness.

Call it my private fan theory, but I think this is the moment at which
the Seventh Doctor's persona shifts. The cheerful little man we've
been watching will soon be scouring time and space, no longer content
to simply defeat evil as he stumbles across it but instead seeking it
out. From the Second Doctor's "Evil must be fought," the Seventh
Doctor will instead declare through his actions that "Evil must be
sought." And I think it's here - staring into the basest, ugliest,
most brutish face of evil - that this shift in attitude and focus
begins. Seeing evil with no civilized veneer to mask its ugliness, the
Doctor becomes angry. The rage ends quickly, but the disgust lingers,
changing him for the rest of this incarnation's life.


THOUGHTS

Delta and the Bannermen is the story that most perfectly encapsulates
Season Twenty-Four, both its failings and its virtues. It is a unique
story in the series' run, and the one most representative of the 1987
season as a whole.

Delta and the Bannermen has many charming moments. Most of them are
packed into the story's first half. I love the Doctor's awkward
attempts to comfort Ray in Episode One, for example. When Ray throws
her arms around him and starts sobbing into his chest, the look on
Sylvester McCoy's face is priceless - It's exactly the kind of
nonverbal comedy McCoy is best at.

More good moments occur in Episode Two. With the Bannermen on their
way, the Doctor must quickly convince Burton that he isn't insane. He
does so by showing the man his TARDIS. The holiday camp owner's
reaction is perfect: "Can we take her for a bit of a spin?" Burton
then lines up his staff and insists they go to safety for a couple of
days, carefully avoiding telling them the truth lest he make himself
look crazy. As his staff leaves, he tells Mel that he has misgivings
about sending them away, but he "cannot risk (his) staff." These are
all good scenes, all utterly charming.

Episode Three still has a sense of fun to it, but it is by far the
weakest installment. The reason? This is the only episode to be
significantly concerned with the plot. And the biggest problem with
this is Gavrok. While I like the idea of Gavrok, an evil force who is
simply a brute with no charm or charisma, he doesn't quite work in
practice. Part of the reason has to do with the character's stupidity.
The Doctor sets up an obvious trap for him midway through Episode
Three, luring him and his men into an ambush by bees. Gavrok doesn't
even hesitate, doesn't show the slightest sign of shrewdness. He just
runs headlong into the trap, with the kind of tactical genius that is
usually reserved for clumsy puppies.

Another problem is the violence. Near the end of Episode Two, Gavrok
destroys a bus that is full of likable side characters. Mel is
appalled... for the space of about thirty seconds, after which this
massacre is never even mentioned. Again, I love the idea of having a
moment of such brutality in the midst of such a whimsical story. This
moment should have been a jolt to the audience, a reminder that while
this universe might be fun, it is never safe. But the execution fails.
The effect is limp, the other characters barely react, and the whole
thing is forgotten even by the audience within minutes of occurring.

Still, if Delta and the Bannermen doesn't always work, it is at least
trying. It's probably the most ambitious story of the season: A light
tone, stuffed with charming character moments and period detail, all
acting as backdrop for what is at its core a very grim plot. The craft
isn't there to make it work: The Bannermen should clash with the light
tone, instead of being laughably ineffectual and thus swallowed by
that tone. But the charming moments are worth the trip, and at three
episodes it doesn't outstay its welcome.

Seriously flawed by the most generous measure, but enjoyable on its
own terms. I wouldn't say I'd recommend it, as such. But it's not
quite like any other Doctor Who story, and it is the one serial I
would show to completely answer the question, "What is Season Twenty-
Four like?" For that alone, I can find no hate in me for this silly,
messy little concoction.


Rating: 5/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/07/2012 5:11 PM

RED (BF AUDIO)

4 episodes. Approx. 122 minutes. Written by: Stewart Sheargold.
Directed by: Gary Russell. Produced by: Gary Russell.


THE PLOT

The Needle is more than just a luxury apartment complex. It is a
living organism, under the constant control of the sentient machine
known as Whitenoise (John Stahl). For its residents, the Needle
represents an escape from the dark side of human nature. All residents
have chips implanted in their brains. At the first hint of violence,
Whitenoise will deliver a selective "edit," purging the impulse from
the human mind before any crime has a chance to occur.

The Doctor knows full well that such a plan cannot work for long. The
suppressed impulses will simply build, until the violence finds an
outlet. That is exactly what is happening on the Needle. With
increasing regularity, the residents are "Red-lining." Their chips
malfunction, their consciousness taken over by a desire to kill.
Whitenoise cannot stop it. He can only edit the memories of the
residents, so that no one can recall that the murder victims ever even
existed.

The Doctor's arrival complicates matters even further. The Doctor's
violence is of a type beyond that of the Needle's regular occupants.
Once he is fitted with a chip, he finds himself in tune with "Red."
With each new killing, the Red signal grows stronger - and with each
death, the Doctor finds himself losing control...


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: "I have destroyed races, destroyed worlds. Sometimes I've
enjoyed it, that power. Oh, I am capable of so much more violence.
Would you like to see?" Sylvester McCoy is often the silliest and most
whimsical of Doctors. But when he's playing darker material, there's
something in his voice that makes him genuinely chilling.

This story plays perfectly on that, stripping most of his frivoulous
shell away. The cliffhangers all echo each other: The Doctor is made
vulnerable to the violence of "Red," witnessing an attack through the
killer's eyes, mentally becoming the murderer. He is appalled when one
of the murders uses a technique plucked from his own mind."When he
snapped her neck - He got that from me!" McCoy's tendency to roll his
"R's" is also used to good, creepy effect. His repetitions of "Red,
red, red" become increasingly guttural, until it's practically one
extended rolled "R." This is one of McCoy's very best performances,
one of only a handful of times across the series in which the Doctor
becomes truly frightening.

Mel: The one character in the story who is "un-chipped," making her
free to commit violence if she chooses to. This makes her an object of
fascination for the characters. The masochistic Vi Yulquen (Sandi
Toksvig) wants Mel to hurt her. The people of the city below find her
capability to commit violence equally intriguing. Draun (Peter Rae)
even refers to Mel as "Red," referencing the color of her hair but
also drawing a connection between Mel, who could kill if she chose to,
and the killer, who cannot choose but to kill. The irony is that Mel
is one of the least violent companions the Doctor has ever had, and
she is plainly disgusted at the obsession with violence permeating
this society.


THE VIOLENCE OF "RED"

Violence. The fascination with violence. The sensuality of violence.
The fear of it, the horror of it, the attraction of it.

Red is one of Big Finish's most purely disturbing stories. It's one I
doubt would be allowed to be made under theDoctor Who banner today.
Not because of its body count (far from the highest in the series),
but because its violence is so textured, with so many different
emotions tied into it.

One disturbing element is the sense of voyeurism created as we witness
the killings. We not only see the crimes. We also see Chief Blue (Sean
Oliver) and Whitenoise watching the crimes in real time. Chief Blue
studies them on the monitors as they occur, and spends more time
watching the secret "Red tape" of all the murders. He does this not to
solve the crimes, but to enjoy the pain and fear of the victims.

Meanwhile, we meet the motley residents of this society: Vi Yulquen
watches simulations of violence to attempt to feel something, and
expresses her attraction to a friend by saying, "I wish harm on you."
Draun playacts at threatening Mel with a knife; after he nearly does
hurt her while possessed by "Red," he is left both crippled and
confused by guilt. Then there is Draun's sister, Nuane (Denise Hoey),
whose past includes violence of a sort that is usually associated with
serial killers and war criminals.

None of these characters is presented as evil. They are all complex,
all clearly damaged by a society that has attempted to "make them
better" by purging them of their negative emotions. As the Doctor
observes, this has left a hole in their humanity, to the point that
they now hunger for the very things denied to them. They are depraved,
twisted, and broken, wallowing in the very thing they were attempting
to escape,


OTHER THOUGHTS

Writer Stewart Sheargold's script is extremely detailed, from the
building that rearranges itself in response to the thoughts and needs
of its residents to the lifestyle of the chipped people within.
Instead of husbands and wives, those who live together are "designated
habitat partners." There is no sex in the Needle, as Whitenoise thinks
of "physical pleasure as the precursor to violence" - showing that
purging negative emotions also leads to a purge of positive ones. The
residents are cold, almost machine-like, even as the increasingly
irrational Whitenoise is almost human in his breakdown.

Denied the visual, Sheargold evokes it by referencing colors. The
residents entrusted with the maintenance of the Needle and Whitenoise
are known as "Blues." The machine itself is "White" (along with being
"white noise," which cancels out other input). Violence is represented
by "Red," which is also the color of Mel's hair.

Merged with an expert production, it all brings this setting vividly
to life. The first three episodes are compelling, as we are allowed to
inhabit the world of the Needle and discover the cold lives of its
inhabitants.

Unfortunately, as with many stories that are strong on setting and
atmosphere, things slip when it comes time to really deal with the
story. Episode Four is by far the weakest. An attempt to raise the
stakes in the final stretch instead overloads the climax. People are
massacred on the monitors as the Doctor and Mel work to stop the
killer... but they work with no sense of urgency, pausing to explain
exposition even as we hear the screams of the dying, making them seem
uncharacteristically callous. A confused finale, as the survivors rush
to safety, is one complication too many, leaving the ending feeling
jumbled.

A pity, since the actual climax, as the Doctor confronts "Red"
directly, is very good, a well-written and well-produced scene with a
superb McCoy performance at the center of it. The story would have
done better to have trusted itself to hold interest with this
confrontation. By attempting to build up further threat, it nearly
drowns out the part that works.

The weakness of the final episode, and particularly of the last ten
minutes, keeps Red from achieving greatness. Even so, this is a dark
journey well worth taking: The ambitions of the narrative, the detail
and texture of both script and production, and the many good moments
along the way make up for the shortcomings of the resolution.


Rating: 7/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/10/2012 8:29 PM

THE LONG GAME

1 episode. Approx. 44 minutes. Written by: Russell T. Davies. Directed
by: Brian Grant. Produced by: Phil Collinson.


THE PLOT

It's the year 200,000, the time of the Fourth Great and Bountiful
Human Empire. The human race at its height, the center of a vast
interspecies civilization.

Only things are wrong. The TARDIS materializes aboard Satellite 5, a
space station that transmits news an information to the hundreds of
channels on Earth. The reporters have technology implanted in their
heads, allowing their brains to be used to directly process the data.
It's incredible technology...

Which the Doctor also recognizes as wrong. "Something has set the
human race back about 90 years," he realizes. History is being
manipulated through the news, Satellite 5 being used to keep humanity
from advancing.

Perhaps the man known as "The Editor" (Simon Pegg) has the answers.
But The Editor sees all, and he is already tracking the Doctor's
progress!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Early in the episode, the Doctor bundles Rose and Adam off
while he investigates. He is extremely cheerful as he urges them:
"Throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged
double, and end up kissing complete strangers." Then he turns away,
and the cheer drops from his face an instant, replaced by grim
determination. He knows history has been tampered with, and he pushes
until he discovers why. Even when captured, he keeps thinking. He
notices that Cathica (Christine Adams), the reporter he and Rose
befriended, is lurking outside the door as the Editor interrogates
him. He makes sure to insert a few very well-chosen remarks in his
replies to the Editor, essentially telling Cathica what to do to save
him without tipping the villain off in the process.

Rose: The Doctor gives Rose enough information to "show off" to Adam,
letting her pretend to identify their new surroundings when they
arrive on Satellite 5. Rose enjoys being allowed to essentially
playact being the Doctor, though she happily hands things back off to
the Doctor when a more complex explanation is required. Here, it's
fairly charming, though in retrospect it's the first real sign of the
smugness that would mar the Doctor/Rose relationship the following
year. She is patient and sympathetic with Adam's culture shock, but
it's clear she wants to help the Doctor. Clear to Adam too, who
observes that "it will take a better man than (him) to get between"
her and the Doctor.

Adam: After what was very much a background role in Dalek, he gets
pushed forward in this episode. He mainly acts as a contrast with
Rose, and by extension with future companions. While Rose and later
companions will tend to act selflessly when presented with crises,
Adam sees the level of technology here and focuses on how to use it to
help himself. The Doctor responds decisively to Adam's transgression,
dumping him off at his home and leaving him there, doomed to an
average and quiet life.


THOUGHTS

The Long Game plays much better in retrospect than it did at the time.
On original broadcast, it seemed like an adequate bit of filler, a mid-
season runaround that was dwarfed by the episodes on either side of
it. But writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies pulled a deft
sleight of hand, making this apparently innocuous episode one of the
key building blocks of the season, an episode that would directly feed
the season finale.

Even disregarding that and just looking at The Long Game in isolation,
it holds up much better than its initial reception would indicate.
Like most single-part Who episodes, the story unfolds at a rapid pace.
Unlike too many episodes, though, it doesn't feel rushed or
overstuffed. The way in which the story is resolved is planted ahead
of time so that it makes sense and feels like an organic part of the
narrative. It's well-structured and holds together, with no sense of
things being skipped over to fit 70 or so minutes of material into 45.

Simon Pegg is effective as "The Editor," the most visible villain of
the piece. His performance mixes camp and menace in equal measure,
particularly when he faces down a would-be assassin with cries of
"Liar!" when she attempts to hide behind her cover story. It's a
disappointment that his confrontation with the Doctor is such a short
scene, as watching Pegg and Eccleston go at it is a prospect with much
more potential than their screentime here can capitalize on.

I wouldn't begin to argue against this being a second-tier episode.
The self-contained narrative is very simplistic, amounting to having
to defeat a monster on the Satellite's top level, and the attempts to
work in social commentary about media manipulation aren't nearly as
sharp as they should be. Still, this is well-made and highly
entertaining, with Eccleston in particularly good form. A solid
episode, in my view, far better than the "weak link" in the season it
generally is remembered as.


Rating: 7/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

22/11/2012 4:29 PM

RISE OF THE CYBERMEN

2 episodes: Rise of the Cybermen, The Age of Steel. Approx. 91
minutes. Written by: Tom MacRae. Directed by: Graeme Harper. Produced
by: Phil Collinson.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS crash-lands in modern day London - but in the wrong
universe! Somehow, the Doctor, Rose, and Mickey have been bounced from
their universe into a parallel reality. The sky over London is filled
with zeppelins, while the people below go about their business with
cybernetic ear pods attached to their heads.

The ear pods are the invention of John Lumic (Roger Lloyd Pack), owner
of Cybus Industries. But Lumic has a new, far more sinister project. A
new form of life, a meld of machine and man. It may be a parallel
Earth, but the Doctor recognizes these malignant creations instantly:

"Cybermen!"


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: We open the story with another look at the 10th Doctor's
unlikable side. He has asked Mickey to hold down a button... and then
left him to keep holding it down for no reason other than to make the
other man look foolish. He does show some respect for Mickey in their
interactions, talking to him seriously about the state of the TARDIS
cut off from its own universe - but it's clear throughout that he does
look on Mickey more as "the tin dog" than as a full-blown member of
the team.

Rose: In a parallel London, it takes all of a few seconds for Rose to
focus on the most important fact: That in this world, her father Pete
Tyler (Shaun Dingwall) is very much alive. Sneaking into the parallel
Jackie Tyler's birthday party disguised as a servant, she finds
moments to connect with both Pete and Jackie. Both feel a bond with
her, enough for them to actually talk unguardedly in a way they never
would with a regular servant - though this only increases Rose's hurt
when this world's bitter Jackie immediately backpedals and scorns her
as nothing but "staff."

Mickey: Feels that he is viewed by the Doctor and Rose as "a spare
part," and has become resentful of that. We learn more about Mickey's
backstory, that he was raised by a stern yet loving grandmother who
died only a few years before the Doctor met him. Mickey blames
himself, because her fall down the stairs was caused by a damaged
carpet that he was aware needed replaced - a job he never got around
to doing. Noel Clarke also gets to pull double duty, portraying this
world's version of himself - Ricky, a grim man of action who would not
be out of place in a 1980's Saward serial. It's actually a bit
satisfying to see Ricky get deflated when he has to confess that he's
only London's most wanted "for parking tickets."

Jackie: The parallel Jackie is similar to our Jackie, but without any
of the good points. She is vain and caustic, but without the fierce
protectiveness. Our Jackie may seem shallow at first glance, but she
has depth beneath the surface, mainly in the form of her fierce
protectiveness of her daugher. This world's Jackie shows no sign of
anything other than a deep layer of bitterness. Camille Coduri does a
good job of hardening her usual portrayal to create a character who is
at once familiar and yet substantially less likable.

Cybermen: Or "Cybus-men," I suppose. Given how many different variants
of Cybermen we saw from the "Prime" universe, though, I can't make
myself think that this difference makes much difference, save for the
benefit of not over-writing Big Finish's excellent Spare Parts.
Director Graeme Harper takes care to emphasize the Cybermen's power,
shooting them at low angles or in close-ups of their expressionless
metal faces. An interesting aside is that the Cybermen believe they
are doing humanity a favor by converting them. They are freeing
humanity of "the pain of the flesh."


THOUGHTS

Borrowing elements from Marc Platt's Big Finish audio Spare Parts,
this two-parter takes the genesis of the Cybermen in a different
direction. While Platt's audio was a human tragedy, this story is an
action piece, complete with a campy, over-the-top villain in Roger
Lloyd Pack's Lumic. It lacks Spare Parts' emotional power, but it's
nice to see respect shown to the audio story - First in the decision
to not overwrite it by explicitly making this an alternate reality
origin story, second in the "Thanks to" credit given to Platt in the
end credits.

Taken as an action story, Rise of the Cybermen is a good one. Graeme
Harper returns to the Who director's chair for the first time since
1985's Revelation of the Daleks. His direction doesn't stand out from
the pack quite the way it did in the classic series, for the simple
reason that strong directing in the new series is the norm rather than
the exception. Harper still knows how to evoke atmosphere, though,
with a handful of standout moments.

The single most memorable set piece is the first Cyber conversion
scene. The helpless victims march into the conversion chamber on the
orders of Lumic's lackey, Mr. Crane (a terrific Colin Spuaull). As the
first men disappear into the corridor, screams emerge, growing louder
as the other men pass through the entrance. Crane tries to cover the
noise by playing The Tokens' The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which continues
to play over images of the conversion machine and a slow pull-back of
the factory. We see no gore, no frightened faces, nothing that is
actually visually disturbing... but the context, the music, and the
gradual pull-back combine to create something horrific in the
imagination.

Other memorable bits include: the "daily download" into the earpods,
as a street of busy people suddenly freezes as information and
entertainment is downloaded directly into their brains while Rose and
the Doctor watch; the first march of the Cybermen, as they arrive at
Pete Tyler's house, breaking through the glass doors and windows to
announce their presence; and the Doctor and Mrs. Moore (Helen
Griffin)'s infiltration of Lumic's warehouse through an underground
tunnel - a corridor lined with inert Cybermen they must pass in front
of, hoping with each step that the creatures are not activated. All
striking moments, well-played and well-directed.

Despite some cracks showing around the climax, the story sustains its
two episodes well and does its job of bringing the Cybermen into 21st
century Who. Perhaps it isn't a great story, but I would certainly
rate it as a good one.


Rating: 8/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

22/12/2012 1:28 PM

THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET

2 episodes: The Impossible Planet, The Satan Pit. Approx. 92 minutes.
Written by: Matt Jones. Directed by: James Strong. Produced by: Phil
Collinson.


THE PLOT

The Doctor and Rose find themselves on a mining station on a planet in
deep space. Nothing terribly unusual, until they discover some writing
that the TARDIS' telepathic circuits cannot translate. "It's old," the
Doctor observes. "Impossibly old."

The writing isn't the only thing that's impossible. When they meet the
crew, they are shown the planet's orbit - around a black hole. This
world is protected from the black hole by a gravity funnel, something
which cannot be occurring naturally. Some device must be powering the
funnel, something underground which could be used to further the Human
Empire.

But they are intruding on forces vastly older and more powerful, than
any of them are prepared to deal with. The alien Ood, a slave race
with a hive mind, show signs of increased telepathic power even as
they begin making bizarre statements about "The Beast." As the drill
finds its destination, uncovering a lost civilization with an enormous
pit in the center of it, the intelligence behind these occurrences
becomes clear:

"He is awake... Some may call him Abaddon. Some may call him Krop Tor.
Some may call him Satan, or Lucifer. But do not despair... I have been
imprisoned for eternity, but no more. The pit is open, and I am free!"


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Since his introduction, the Tenth Doctor has worn his
flippancy like armor. This story strips that armor away, along with
everything he uses to protect himself. First he loses the TARDIS,
seemingly forever. Then, when he goes undergorund with science officer
Ida Scott (Claire Rushbrook) to investigate the pit, he is separated
from Rose. Episode Two isolates him even more as he descends this
impossible pit in this impossible planet, with only Ida's voice on the
communicator to provide any connection with another soul. Needless to
say, that voice is ultimately cut off, leaving the Doctor to brave the
abyss and enter the underworld alone. David Tennant's performance is
his best of the season and possibly of the series, with the moment in
the pit in which he reflects on his own beliefs one of the most
thoughtful scenes the series has offered.

Rose: Perhaps because the TARDIS seems irretrievably lost, Rose is
emboldened enough to make clear her feelings for the Doctor. They've
been interpreted as a couple in past episodes... but in this story, we
see that Rose now considers them in that light as well. Nor does the
Doctor protest, telling Ida just before he takes his leap of faith in
the pit to "tell Rose... Tell her... Oh, she knows."

Cut off from the Doctor, Rose acts as he would have. When she tried to
do as he would in The Christmas Invasion, it was a horrible failure,
her life only saved by the Doctor's well-timed awakening. She does
much better here, though, taking a cue from the Doctor's words about
how the humans have everything they need to survive if they just act
together. She pushes each member of the team until they arrive at some
useful piece of knowledge they have, and then builds a plan based on
that.


THOUGHTS

"For how should Man die better than facing fearful odds? For the ashes
of his father, and the temples of his Gods."
-Mr. Jefferson (Danny Webb), Head of Security, observing a comrade's
horrible and beautiful death.

The Impossible Planet offers a change of tone for the new Doctor Who
series. There are still plenty of humorous moments and exchanges. But
these are moments of lightness in the midst of a fundamentally dark
story. This is a Lovecraftian horror story, with dead civilizations
and devils who see into the hearts of their victims. It is, in effect,
the movie that Event Horizon wanted to be: tense, bleak, and moody.
For a series generally defined by its flippant tone, it feels like an
enormous departure.

It's also excellent, a triumph of good writing, fine acting, and
outstanding atmosphere.

Episode One provides a slow build. We are introduced to this world and
its bizarre set of rules. We are introduced to the characters and to
the Ood - first presented as an apparent threat before being revealed
as benign. Not very much actually happens in this episode, the major
set pieces being held back for Part Two. Instead, time is given to
make the base feel lived-in, to make the characters feel real, and to
let the atmosphere of dread build gradually in the background.

Director James Strong does a sterling job of holding our attention
with atmosphere. We see the crew of the base performing their normal
operations, with the sense of a crew going about an almost automatic
routine, while Ravel's Bolero plays over the proceedings. The light of
what once a star system, swallowed by the black hole, is reflected on
the Doctor's face as he watches, while Ida reveals the substantial
history of what is now just a dying red cloud overhead.

"That rused to be the Scarlet System, home to the Peluchi. A mighty
civilisation spanning a billion years, disappearing forever. Their
planets and suns consumed. Ladies and gentlemen, we have witnessed its
passing."


The black hole is horrific in what it does, but it is also beautiful
as presented on screen. That juxtaposition, of horrible things
occurring in such a beautiful manner, is mined throughout the two-
parter. There's the silky voice of Gabriel Woolf, making the Beast's
words persuasive and tempting even as he promises death for all the
humans. His teasing of Toby ("Don't turn around, or you will die")
creating a moment of genuine dread, tempting Toby to his downfall even
as his words superficially warn against it... In effect, using the
truth as a weapon against his victim.

The first episode's most memorable moment is also its most horrific
and it's most beautiful. The first character death occurs at almost
thirty minutes in, as a hull breach sucks one crew member out onto the
surface, where there's no atmosphere. That crew member is discovered
suspended in space just above the station. The others are left to
watch helplessly as their friend floats upward, toward the black hole,
like falling backward into water (which was how the scene was filmed)
- until finally Ida calls for the shutters to be closed.

>From here, the pace quickens, and Part Two is marked by multiple set
pieces. There's a tense and exciting chase through (effectively) a
system of ventilation ducts, in which the characters must wait at each
junction for oxygen to build up in the next section, even as the
pursuing Ood close in on them.

But the most memorable moments remain the quietest ones. The Doctor,
suspended in the pit, reflecting on his beliefs and asking Ida about
her own. When she says she doesn't believe in the devil, just in "the
things that men do," the Doctor muses that it amounts to the same
thing, before talking about his own inability to believe in the claims
of The Beast.

"If that thing had said it came from beyond the universe, I'd believe
it. But before the universe? Impossible. Doesn't fit my rules. Still,
that's why I keep travelling. To be proved wrong."

...Then making his leap of faith, allowing himself to fall alone into
the darkness.


A fine two-parter, one that I find actually improves with repeated
viewings. Beautiful, haunting, thoughtful and scary. I might nit-pick
a few things, but to what purpose? This is a superb experience, one
that would not have shamed itself had it been a theatrically released
movie.


Overall Rating: 10/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 9:04 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>A review of the Big Finish audio Short Trip, "Chain Reaction," has
>been added:
>
>http://dw-shorttrips.blogspot.com/2011/10/2-d-chain-reaction.html
>

Add them here in full context.

Your posts are good discussion.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Ontario, Nfld, and Manitoba boot the extremists out and vote Liberal!

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

30/10/2011 8:11 PM

Go right ahead. The reviews actually appearing here would be my
preference, so feel free!

It might also stop a certain poster from asking the same question over
and over again, even after I've answered and explained why the
weblinks instead of the reviews roughly 3 or 4 times now :)

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

05/12/2011 1:16 AM

BLACK ORCHID

2 episodes. Approx. 50 minutes. Written by: Terence Dudley. Directed
by: Ron Jones. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS materializes at a railway station in 1925, where the Doctor
is mistaken for a cricket player being sent for a match at a party at
Cranleigh Hall. The Doctor is happy to go along with this case of
mistaken identity, enjoying the chance to show off his skill at the
game. But Cranleigh Hall hides a secret - a mysterious figure, held
captive in a hidden room.

Soon, the Doctor and his companions are dealing with multiple murders.
The killings are somehow linked to Ann Talbot, who is engaged to Lord
Cranleigh (Michael Cochrane) - and who also just happens to look
exactly like Nyssa! It's a relatively minor murder mystery, a case of
family skeletons bringing themselves violently out into the light. The
sort of thing the Doctor can sort in minutes. Except the Doctor
happens to be the prime suspect!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Enjoys the chance to relax and play a game of cricket,
which he plays with preternatural skill. Shades of the Eleventh Doctor
playing football in The Lodger, as he joins a team suffering a
miserable defeat and transforms it into a victory with seemingly no
effort. When he's questioned for a murder in Part Two, he is unable to
make himself believed. The more he talks, the more he makes himself
look like a crazy man. He finally just stops talking and gives up - a
scene Davison plays wonderfully.

Nyssa: This story gives Sarah Sutton a dual role. Though actual
character work is light, we do learn that Nyssa is an accomplished
dancer, part of her training on Traken - a detail that fits perfectly
with her established character. Despite her aristocratic bearing, she
is a young girl and can't help but be taken with Ann's suggestion of
doubling up their outfits for the party. As Ann, Sutton gets virtually
nothing to work with. Ann doesn't even register as a character, just
as a plot device to justify Nyssa's being in danger at the end.

Adric: He can't dance, so spends the party stuffing his face at the
buffet table. Which actually may be one of the more reasonable things
he's done across Season 19! His general lack of common sense shows
itself when he responds to the Doctor's arrest by protesting that it's
Ann's word against the Doctor's... hardly the best way to try to
garner sympathy or even willingness to listen by either the family or
the police chief who is the family's friend.

Tegan: Opens the story by saying that she's decided to stay with the
crew and that the Doctor can stop trying to deliver her to Heathrow -
a major character shift, and one which apparently happened offscreen
between stories. It is nice to see Janet Fielding giving a more laid-
back performance, allowing Tegan to be something other than strident
and high-strung. Her scenes opposite Sir Robert (Moray Watson) show a
genuinely sweet side, and she seems to actually be enjoying herself
for a change.


THOUGHTS

Director Ron Jones' first Doctor Who story. Though fandom tends to
lump Jones in with Peter Moffatt as a director largely unsuited to
Who, I've long felt that he's gotten a bit of a bad rap. He's
certainly not up there with Peter Grimwade or Fiona Cumming, but he
does understand the value of dramatic lighting. This greatly enhances
some of the scenes in the house, especially in the secret passages. He
also deals well with large groups of actors, cutting between different
groupings without losing track of where the characters are in the room
or making the scene feel like something out of a stage play. He may
not be a brilliant television director - but he is a competent one.

Black Orchid works better than most of the classic series' 2-parters,
thanks to a narrative that is deliberately slight. There are no
aliens, no science fiction elements, just a very minor period
melodrama about family secrets. Just about right to sustain 50 fairly
laid-back minutes.

The first episode is quite good. The 1920's setting is impeccably
rendered, and this is a rare classic Who story with no embarrassing
production aspects. The tone is generally relaxed, with some pleasant
scenes of the companions enjoying themselves at a costume party. The
mystery is nicely built up in the background, from the cutaways to the
mysterious figure who escapes his bonds, to the Doctor's crawling
around the mansion's mazelike corridors after discovering a secret
passage.

Once the Doctor is arrested in Part Two, however, it all goes a bit
off the rails. There's a rushed and unconvincing scene in which the
Doctor convinces Sir Robert to let him show off the TARDIS. While this
little diversion is going on, the main story at the house becomes
rushed. All entirely avoidable, as the story doesn't actually require
the Doctor be taken off the grounds at all! Give that 5 - 10 minutes
over to investigation within the house, and the script could jettison
the silly TARDIS tour and give more breathing space to the
resolution.

Despite the flawed ending, Black Orchid is an entertaining little
diversion, a nice breather before the heavy action of Earthshock. The
first episode, in particular, has a pleasant overall atmosphere, and
both regulars and guest cast are in fine form. It could have been
better with a little bit of rewriting to the second episode, but it's
still highly watchable.


Rating: 6/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

01/01/2012 5:07 PM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>TIME-FLIGHT
>
>4 episodes. Approx. 97 minutes. Written by: Peter Grimwade. Directed
>by: Ron Jones. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.
>
>Rating: 2/10.
>

I would say 6/10 myself. Grabbing a concorde
back so that the Master can escape.

Xeraphin. Nuclear War that forces aliens off their
planet.

Dinosaurs.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy New Year 2012 !

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/01/2012 8:28 PM

On Jan 12, 8:08 am, John Burnham <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> If you don't want to have any of season 6 spoiled, I would advise not
> watching those shorts until after you've watched season 6. There's not
> much in there, but there are a few things....
> J

Thank you!

So taking both that and John Hall's comments under advisement, here's
what the review sequence will consist of:

Death of the Doctor
A Christmas Carol
Comic Relief: Time/Space
The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon (as "The Impossible
Astronaut")
The Curse of the Black Spot
The Doctor's Wife
The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People (as "The Rebel Flesh")
A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler (as "A Good Man Goes to War")
Night Terrors
The Girl Who Waited
The God Complex
Closing Time
The Wedding of River Song
Night and the Doctor

...To be reviewed as soon as I finish re-watching Series Five, so
allow about 2 weeks before I get started on these.

Thanks again!

gg

"gerard.morvan"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/02/2012 12:27 PM

<[email protected]> a écrit dans le message de news:
[email protected]m...
>A CHRISTMAS CAROL
>
What (happily) surprised me in this episode is how good Katherine Jenkins
was as an actress. I knew her as a fine singer, but she did manage to sell
Abigail as a character we cared fo, which is no small feat cnsidering it
was, AFAIK, her first try as an actress. The line about having enough
Christmas eves and that it was time to have one Christmas made me shed a
tear. I hope we'll see some more of her acting in the future.

Gérard Morvan

"Kentoch Mervel!"

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

20/02/2012 6:05 PM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE REBEL FLESH
>
>2 episodes: The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People. Approx. 88 minutes.
>
>Rating: 6/10.
>

I say 8/10. Some good themes. Also a red herring to full you
big time.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Birthdate : 29 Jan 1969 Croydon, Surrey, UK

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

27/02/2012 7:41 PM

NIGHT TERRORS

1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Mark Gatiss. Directed by:
Richard Clark. Produced by: Sanne Wohlenberg.


THE PLOT

"Save me from the monsters!"

The Doctor's psychic paper picks up this message, which he follows to
its source: a terrified child in a very ordinary London council
estate. The Doctor impersonates... well, a doctor in order to see the
child and figure out what it is so afraid of. He quickly determines
that there are real monsters here, or at least something otherworldly.
It's all linked to the boy's cupboard. Inside the cupboard is a
dollhouse. Inside the dollhouse are a miniaturized Amy and Rory - who
find themselves on the run from deadly, cackling wooden dolls!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Um. Well, he's better-characterized than his two
companions, at least. I'll give Matt Smith credit for cranking up the
eccentricity to cover the weak characterization given him by this
script. Still, this may be the most generic characterization of the
Doctor we've seen yet in the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat era. You could
plug any of the other Doctors into this story (even Hartnell), without
changing much of the script at all. Some of the others - Hartnell and
Pertwee particularly, I think - would actually work better. Given that
Smith is playing a Doctor who's a plot device rather than a character
here, it's not surprising that he comes across much weaker than usual.

Amy: Is deeply stupid. She and Rory have successfully blocked the
killer dolls from getting into the room where they're hiding. OK, they
can't get out - but the dolls also can't get in. Without even looking
around very hard to see if there might be another way out, without
even taking five minutes for a breather, Amy suddenly decides that
they have to open the door again. Why? Well, to provoke a Third Act
crisis, of course. There's really no reason that makes any sense
within the plot, particularly since the dollhouse doesn't really give
them any particular place to run.

Rory: Inside the dollhouse, before they see a single walking doll,
Rory is panicking. Fine - if this was last season. But just two
episodes ago, we saw him facing down a Cyberleader and standing
impassively while huge explosions went off behind him. We've seen Rory
deliberately putting himself in danger to try to save virtual
strangers. He has faced down monsters and aliens, put himself in the
center of battlefields. And he's reduced to panic by disembodied
laughter in a spooky house? After Doctor Generic and Amy the Idiot,
Rory the Coward just rounds out the team of mischaracterizations that
are only a small part of what's wrong with this episode!


THOUGHTS

As thrilled as I am thus far with the Moffat era (and I genuinely
am!), it does come with one big hitch: the return of Mark Gatiss to
the writer's table. Night Terrors at least represents a marked
improvement over Gatiss' previous episode, the noisy and barely-
coherent Victory of the Daleks. This time, the story shows some
initial promise. There are good elements here. A frightened child, a
darkened room, a sinister cupboard containing a dollhouse that's more
than it seems... 1960's Twilight Zone episodes would have a field day!

But Night Terrors never pushes past the surface of any of its ideas.
People are running around inside a dollhouse? Well, other than a few
remarks about wooden food, that whole plot angle amounts to nothing
more than a lot of corridor crawling. The terrified child is more than
he seems? Don't worry - A little soppy sentiment and everything's
better. Oh, and did I mention? Everybody lives!

This is one of the most child-friendly Who episodes I think I've seen,
to the point that even a child would be likely to find it dull. The
story elements and atmosphere cry out for something darker and more
horror-themed, but instead everything is made "safe." There might be a
few creepy moments sprinkled around the edges, but this is one Doctor
Who that's not going to send anyone ducking behind the sofa, even
before the Doctor makes a speech about fatherhood and love and
sunshine and puppies that inspires the kid's dad to save the day.

In any case, after four episodes it increasingly seems a fact that
Mark Gatiss will never write a Doctor Who story that I actually like.
Still, if one weak Gatiss Who per season is the price of getting a
good Sherlock from him every year or two, then I suppose I'll count it
as a fair trade. I just wish he could write with the same energy for
this show that he does for that one.


Rating: 4/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/03/2012 8:03 PM

CLOSING TIME

1 episode. Approx. 45 minutes. Written by: Gareth Roberts. Directed
by: Steve Hughes. Produced by: Denise Paul.


THE PLOT

Now traveling on his own, and very aware of his death at a fixed point
at Lake Silencio, the Doctor is at what may be his lowest emotional
point when he decides to pay a farewell visit to Craig (James Corden),
his one-time flatmate (The Lodger). He is surprised to find Craig at a
new home, taking care of the baby he had with Sophie (Daisy Haggard)
while she is away.

The Doctor intends a short visit. But when he discovers evidence of
alien technology, he investigates, ultimately taking a job at a shop
when he discovers disappearances in the store's vicinity. It isn't
long before the Doctor traces all this to its source: A ship -
belonging to the Doctor's old enemy, the Cybermen!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: I think I've finally figured it out. The Doctor falling
"so much further" than he ever has before wasn't the moment in A Good
Man Goes to War at which his triumph and Amy's baby were snatched away
from him. It's been his gradual loss of faith in himself since then.
>From having to acknowledge that River's path is set in Let's Kill
Hitler, to having to sentence Old Amy to oblivion, to dashing Amy's
faith so that she sees him as just "a madman in a box." Bit by bit, he
has spent the last half of this season deciding that he is like a
cancer, doing harm to those he touches. His "fall" was not a single
defeat. It was a gradual and self-inflicted process. Hopefully, the
events of this episode have served to remind him that the mad man in a
box can also be a hero and can also do legitimate good, giving him the
faith in himself he'll need to (presumably) subvert his fate in the
finale.

Craig: Reminds the Doctor of something he's forgotten: That he isn't
really the cause of all the deaths around him. Craig remembers their
last encounter, and tells the Doctor that the people who died last
time were "people you didn't know." He states that the place where he
and his son are safest in a dangerous situation is with the Doctor.
After all, the people who died the last time he encountered the Time
Lord? They were people who were not with the Doctor. For Craig and
Sophie, the Doctor was their salvation.

Amy/Rory: Only glimpsed in passing this episode, walking through the
store just as the Doctor's talking about coincidence. We see that they
have moved on with their lives and appear happy, with Amy having
achieved a certain level of fame modeling cosmetics. The Doctor is
pleased to see her happy and successful - though I'll wager that will
be interrupted in the next episode.

Cybermen: Purely a plot device - a last foe for the Doctor to defeat
on his last adventure. They ultimately aren't defeated by the Doctor,
but instead by soppy sentiment, in what may well be the most
unconvincing and mawkish climax of the entire new series. Still, this
episode isn't really about them, so their overeasy defeat actually
doesn't destroy this episode the way it would have done to a "normal"
Cyberman story.


THOUGHTS

Series Five's The Lodger came just before the season ending fireworks.
It was a small but pleasant episode, one that gave both the Doctor and
the audience a chance to enjoy a fairly quiet, human story. Before
telling something on a larger scale than ever before, the show took a
breath and reminded us of the human scale. The result was a success,
making it little surprise that, one year later, the series tries to do
the same thing over again.

When it sticks to being a human-scale comedy/drama, Closing Time works
pretty well. Not as well as The Lodger did, mind you. The idea isn't
as fresh, Daisy Haggard's Sophie is missed, and the jokes just aren't
quite as funny this time around. Still, enough of the humor clicks to
keep it all turning over quite nicely, and Matt Smith and James Corden
make an engaging comedy duo. It particularly suits this Doctor to be
forced into the mundane.

There's only one really big problem with this episode, and that is the
Cyberman.

I don't think the Cybermen have ever been used worse than they are in
this episode. It's not that the versions we see are weakened - Some of
the best Cyber stories involve Cybermen in a weakened state. It's not
even that their presence keeps interrupting the far more interesting
character material, such as the Doctor's "enhancement" of the baby's
outer space diorama. The balance between the character story and the
monster story may be off, but not so badly as to destroy a solid
episode.

Unfortunately, the Cyber material goes from weak to atrocious at the
end. In a season that's been marred by an unfortunate tendency toward
overt sentiment, the ending here is the biggest offender. Not only are
they defeated in a way that completely defuses them as a threat for
this episode - The ending actually takes the most frightening aspect
of the Cybermen and drowns it out in such a way that I'd wonder how
there could even be successful cyber-conversions. Forget shooting
Cybermen with a slingshot - Turns out the Beatles were right and "all
you need is love."

A tag that leads into the finale, and the solidity of the Doctor/Craig
material, just about keeps this afloat. But I can't quite forgive the
weakness of the Cybermen plot and particularly the resolution of it,
leaving this one with a mixed score:


Rating: 5/10.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

19/04/2012 6:10 AM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>THE TWO DOCTORS: THE PLOT
>
>3 episodes. Approx. 133 minutes. Written by: Robert Holmes. Directed
>by: Peter Moffatt. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.
<big snip>
>
>My head says "7," my heart says "10." So I'm going to split the
>difference and add in a bonus point for the masterfully grotesque
>Shockeye.
>
>
>Rating: 9/10.
>

Thanks for your usual interesting review. For some reason, I have no
memory of that story at all, which (unlike a few other less
distinguished ones) it seems that I should have. I wonder if I could
have missed watching it for some reason.
--
John Hall
Johnson: "Well, we had a good talk."
Boswell: "Yes, Sir, you tossed and gored several persons."
Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-84); James Boswell (1740-95)

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/05/2012 3:24 AM

YEAR OF THE PIG (BF AUDIO)

2 episodes. Approx. 143 minutes. Written by: Matthew Sweet. Directed
by: Gary Russell. Produced by: Gary Russell.


THE PLOT

The year is 1913. The brink of a world war - but no one knows that
yet. It is still a time of leisure in Europe, as vacationers from
various countries enjoy a pleasant seaside resort in Belgium. The
Doctor and Peri are there for the same reason - a relaxing vacation,
one that will allow the Doctor to finally catch up on his Proust.

Until Inspector Chardalot (Michael Keating) almost drowns in the
water. The Doctor rescues him, pulling him to safety... and embroiling
himself and Peri in mystery. It's clear very quickly that Chardalot is
not all he seems. The inspector is hunting somebody. Perhaps the
mysterious occupant of Suite 139? The energetic Miss Bultitude
(Maureen O'Brien) is certainly stalking that suite, eager to meet its
occupant: A distinguished gentleman of the stage, one with a rather
porcine character.

His name is Toby. Toby the Sapient Pig (Paul Brooke). For his part,
Toby is hiding, on the run from a man he is convinced wants him dead.
A man he refers to as... "the Doctor!"


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Colin Baker is wonderful here, his relaxed performance a
prime example of why he so quickly became so very acclaimed as an
audio Doctor. The script emphasizes the Doctor's compassionate side,
from his patient and gentle interactions with Toby in Part One to the
almost regretful way that he reveals the truth to the guest cast at
the end of Part Two. Though I do think that much of what happened to
Colin's television era was the fault of external forces, I also think
that he would likely be better remembered had his television scripts
focused more on this side of his Doctor.

Peri: Going from Timelash straight to this might give you whiplash!
The Peri of this story is no damsel in distress, existing only to be
menaced and leered at by the villains until the Doctor can rescue her.
She is very much a partner to the Doctor, actively investigating the
deceptions of Inspector Chardalot while maintaining a wary skepticism
of all the guest characters. One imagines that this was more the
characterization Nicola Bryant would have liked to have had in the
mid-1980's, as opposed to being dragged around hallways wearing
bondage collars.

The Pig: Paul Brooke is also very good, maintaining Toby's gentlemanly
status at all times, even when standing over the unconscious bodies of
the Doctor and Peri wondering if he should "eat the evidence."
Brooke's proper English tones are perfect as Toby reminisces about his
life on the stage while ordering incredible quantities of gourmet
food. I also enjoyed his moments of moodiness, such as when he
descends into a fit of pique after Miss Bultitude confesses to having
bought a taxidermist's knockoff of him (offended as much at the low
price of the knockoff as the taxidermy itself).


THOUGHTS

The Year of the Pig is a story that could be safely described as "not
for all tastes." It wasn't even entirely suited to my tastes, on first
listen in 2006. Though I initially enjoyed the quirkiness and the
atmosphere, on that first listen my interest drifted as it went along.
In the end, I felt it was too long, too slow, too silly.

Revisiting it six years later, I find my initial dismissal of it
insupportable. This is no interesting effort that didn't quite come
off. On the contrary, I think outgoing producer Gary Russell's
valedictory serial is one of the jewels of his long era, full of wit
and atmosphere and an oddball charm that makes it something to be
savored.

Year of the Pig is a long story. It is not an exciting one. Incident
is minimal, with the characters put in immediate danger exactly three
times during the entire 140+ minutes of it. The vast bulk of the
serial consists of people sitting in rooms, talking. Mostly talking
around subjects, often talking about things half-remembered or
remembered falsely. That is, when the characters aren't simply flat-
out lying.

The unreliability of the characters is one of the story's cleverest
conceits. Early in the story, Toby described memories of his childhood
and his parents. At first, he seems to be describing particularly
vivid memories. But when pressed for more details, he simply repeats
the exact phrases he's said, only more emphatically - a clear signal
that his memories are not real memories at all. When another character
does something similar later in the story, it's a major clue to the
audience as to the real situation behind the characters' beliefs about
their situation.

Matthew Sweet's script makes wonderful use of language. There are many
points in this story in which mental pictures are conjured - not of
the direct characters and actions (which are, again, usually people
sitting in rooms), but of the things they are discussing and
describing. The dialogue is vivid, detailed, and wonderfully
descriptive. A simple conversation will occasionally turn to a
startlingly effective moment, whether it be Toby's chillingly accurate
description of the hells of the Great War still on Europe's horizon or
a detailed description of an illustration that ties together so many
of the story's threads at the end.

Overall, on this listen I found Year of the Pig to be a lovely piece.
It may appear light and fluffy at a glance, but there are layers of
flavor beneath the surface. It's a meal that I think it best not to
bolt in one go (probably my mistake on first listen). This is a dish
best savored. Allow yourself pauses to absorb the atmosphere and
reflect on the various tastes and textures. By spacing out the story
over four sessions this time, I was able to appreciate each course as
it came - and in the end, I found it an absolute delight.

While anything but a fast-paced adventure, and very far from a
traditional Doctor Who romp, Year of the Pig is a story that audio Who
is the richer for possessing. Far from the disappointment I first
dismissed it as, I now think it's a fine curtain for the Gary Russell
era of Big Finish Productions.


Rating: 9/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

14/07/2012 9:57 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN
>
>Rating: 5/10.
>

That's generous. I average that most people rank DatB with TimeLash.

I say 6/10 .
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
That church which changes with the times cannot also be abiding in Christ

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/10/2012 8:31 PM

...Which catches me back up on the reviews I've done over the past
month. "Father's Day" review coming next weekend!

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

23/11/2012 7:36 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>RISE OF THE CYBERMEN
>
>Rating: 8/10.
>

I say 7/10. It really got silly towards the end.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k Merry Christmas 2012 and Happy New Year 2013

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

23/12/2012 8:38 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET
>
>Overall Rating: 10/10.
>

That is generous. I say 9/10 . How really perfect
but the good vs eternal evil could be improved upon.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k Merry Christmas 2012 and Happy New Year 2013

sp

solar penguin

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 10:14 AM

[email protected] wrote:

> On Oct 15, 4:28 pm, "Tahi" <[email protected]> wrote:
> >
> > Thanks for that. I had not realised you were posting your reviews eslewhere
> > as well. I always found Pyramids of Mars one of the truly memorable stories,
> > so I shall look forward to seeing if you think it has stood the test of
> > time.
>
> Short answer: It does.
>
> Long answer at the following link:
>
> http://jphalt-doc4.blogspot.com/2010/10/82-139-1312-pyramids-of-mars.html

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

This story is typical stupid Hincliffe-era gothic horror shit. And,
like anything associated with horror, it is stupid and pointless.

Where's the comedy? Where's the silly, light-hearted fluffiness?
Where's everything that good Saturday evening entertainment should be?

Nowhere!

Far from everything coming together just right, this is a production
(and arguably, an entire producership) that gets everything wrong from
the concept downwards, and the end result is something that's as drab
and worthless and depressing as any horror film.

Thankfully, Williams would eventually come along and redeem the Tom
Baker years. But at this point, that was still a long way in the
future.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

30/10/2011 8:27 PM

Since John Hall was able to copy + paste successfully, I'll test it
now. Fingers crossed.,,


SHORT TRIPS: CHAIN REACTION

1 episode. Approx. 16 minutes. Written by: Darren Goldsmith. Directed
by: Nicholas Briggs, Ken Bentley. Produced by: Nicholas Briggs, Jason
Haigh-Ellery. Performed by: Louise Jameson.


THE PLOT

On a hot summer day at an English shopping centre, the Doctor sets a
coin rolling toward a pigeon. This simple act sets off a chain
reaction that has effects both minor and major on several of the
people in the parking lot - and attracts what should be genuinely
impossible interference from a particularly stubborn security guard.


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: This is a case of a story that's particularly well-matched
to its chosen Doctor. There are only two Doctors of the eleven that I
can comfortably see amusing themselves by pushing the rules of time to
test the impact of a simple coin roll: The 4th and the 7th. And if it
was the 7th Doctor, then it would probably be due to some grand master
plan to thwart an all-powerful villain, meaning that only the 4th
Doctor can really convince in setting this chain in motion for no
truly significant purpose.

Sarah Jane Smith: Appears (briefly), placing the story somewhere in
Season 13 or early Season 14. Otherwise, has no real role to speak of.


THOUGHTS

This story presents the Fourth Doctor at play, and it's a rather
engaging snapshot - the sort of thing a 15 minute audio Short Trip is
probably best suited for. It's easy to picture Tom Baker's Doctor
lounging against a wall, rolling a coin toward a pigeon and watching
to see what happens. Of course, like all good games, the chain
reaction he sets off has a purpose - a way for the Doctor to "win."
And like any good gamer, the Doctor plays until he finally beats the
game.

There is a complication in the form of the security guard, and the
guard's intrusion is used to create a challenge for the Doctor. It's a
classic three-fold structure. The first pass sees the most likely
result of a coin roll: Nothing of any consequence happens. This pass
also describes the basic setting (the parking area, the scaffolding
with the paint) and introduces the security guard as an irritant to
the Doctor's ploy. The second pass shows us the bulk of the chain and
the Doctor's urgency in observing the spectacle. I particularly liked
the detail of the three knots in his scarf, with a knot being undone
every time one of the major steps of the chain was completed. This
second pass ends by bringing the guard back and presenting him as a
more significant hurdle for the Doctor to overcome. And finally, the
third pass completes the chain, presents the punch line to the
Doctor's little game, and explains the guard's seemingly impossible
interference.

This very precise structure helps this minor little piece to maintain
momentum, while the portrayal of the Doctor keeps it engaging. I also
enjoyed the descriptions of the chain reaction itself. Each piece of
the chain is amusing, but nothing happens within that chain that's so
over-the-top as to strain credibility. There's no question of life and
death here: A woman will either get splashed with paint or she won't;
a businessman will either bump into a teenager or he won't; a young
man and a young woman will either meet, spark, and exchange phone
numbers or they won't. No lives hang in the balance, and no piece of
the chain provokes any actual destructive slapstick.

In short, tone and incident match. Chain Reaction is a light,
pleasant, clever diversion. Judged on that basis, I find it a
thoroughly enjoyable one.


Rating: 7/10.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

05/12/2011 5:57 AM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>BLACK ORCHID
>
>2 episodes. Approx. 50 minutes. Written by: Terence Dudley. Directed
>by: Ron Jones. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.
>
>
>THE PLOT
>
>The TARDIS materializes at a railway station in 1925, where the Doctor
>is mistaken for a cricket player being sent for a match at a party at
>Cranleigh Hall. The Doctor is happy to go along with this case of
>mistaken identity, enjoying the chance to show off his skill at the
>game. But Cranleigh Hall hides a secret - a mysterious figure, held
>captive in a hidden room.
<snip>

This story is a special one for me, as I actually live in the village
(more of a small town, really) of Cranleigh. Sadly, though, in real life
there is no Cranleigh Hall or Lord Cranleigh. I imagine that the
production team probably came up with the name by flicking through a
gazetteer.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

27/01/2012 8:32 PM

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

1 episode. Approx. 61 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
Toby Haynes. Produced by: Sanne Wohlenberg.


THE PLOT

Amy and Rory are enjoying their honeymoon on a starliner... which, of
course, means that their ship is subject to disaster. The ship is
caught in a field of clouds that surround the planet owned by Kazran
(Michael Gambon), who controls not only the planet but the planet's
weather. If Kazran doesn't use his machine to part the clouds and
allow for a safe landing, then the ship will be destroyed within the
hour.

There's only one problem: Kazran is a cruel, miserly old man, whose
bitterness only increases with the holidays. When the Doctor is unable
to use his machine in spite of him, he focuses on transforming
Kazran's character. He decides to mimic the plot of A Christmas Carol,
using his TARDIS to not only show the old man his past, but to
actually change it. But when the Doctor's manipulations in the past
backfire, he will have to desperately draw on Kazran's present and
future in order to salvage the situation.


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: This story is largely a romp, so it's unsurprising that
the Doctor is in "manic mode" for the bulk of it. To his credit, Matt
Smith keeps a core of sadness in his performance. When the young
Kazran suddenly shuts him out, the Doctor recognizes that there is
something wrong. He urges Kazran to tell him, and is genuinely sorry
when he's unable to get through to the young man. When the old Kazran
thunders at him that he should try experiencing genuine loss, the
Doctor simply stands mute and stares back at him - a reminder to the
audience that any loss Kazran might feel is trivial next to the ones
the Doctor has felt. That melancholy is never overplayed. It feels
lived-in, as much a part of the Doctor's wardrobe as his bow-tie.
Speaking of which, we finally get a proper explanation as to exactly
why the 11th Doctor's bowtie is "cool." That explanation, when it
comes, is perfect.

Amy/Rory: Largely sharing the "damsel-in-distress" role, with their
jeopardy on the starliner giving urgency to the Doctor's mission while
also sparing the script from having to deal too much with their
presence. Still, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill retain their usual
energy. Their presence may be expendable, but their participation is
as agreeable as ever.


THOUGHTS

A direct riff on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This was done by
Doctor Who once before, when 1986's Trial of a Timelord saw the Sixth
Doctor defending his past, present, and future. Still, this is the
first time the story has been directly used by the series for a
Christmas special. Given that this is the series' sixth Christmas
special, that's actually something of a surprise.

It's a rather fun piece. Not Earth-shattering by any means... but
then, it's a Christmas special, so it's not really supposed to be.
Writer Steven Moffat has penned a briskly-paced holiday pastische,
which director Toby Haynes and the BBC special effects department have
filled out with some eye-catching visuals.

Key to the episode's success is the central figure in any version of A
Christmas Carol: Scrooge. Michael Gambon's Kazran makes a terrific
stand-in for Ebenezer. Like any Scrooge, it's most fun watching him
while he's still in full-bore "nasty" mode, but Gambon does imbue the
character's gradual transformation with genuine emotion. Moffat's
script also gives the narrative a clever turn by having the Doctor's
manipulations of Kazran's past backfire, making the old man more
bitter than ever before.

Kazran Sardick is a well-written character. He's not really evil. He's
just bitter, to a degree that his bitterness has become like an old
coat he shrugs on every morning. Faced with the deaths of so many
innocents, deaths he can prevent by simply flicking a switch, Gambon's
Kazran remains impassive. It's not that he hates these people. As he
explains to the Doctor, he simply doesn't care. When Gambon spits out
that line - "I don't and never, ever will care!" - he puts such venom
into it that it chills the spine.

Casting Gambon as both Kazran and his father seems, at first, to be
simply a money-saving device. Having cast a high-profile actor, the
production is by God going to use him. But there is method in the
double-casting. We see, in the past, Kazran's father strike him. That
scene is bookended by two moments, however, ones which show how Kazran
is different from his father. He catches the Doctor's eye as a
salvageable human being at the start, when he raises his hand to hit
the boy but does not actually strike. Then, at the end, he is
confronted with his own younger self. Again, he raises his hand to
strike, more furious than we have seen him at any moment in the
production. The sin his younger self committed? Recognizing the older
Kazran as "Dad." Once again, Kazran does not strike. The first failure
to strike marks him as redeemable; the second pushes him the rest of
the way "out of the dark."

Substantially less good is the teaser. The bizarre, "Christmas is
cancelled!" line had me sure for a moment that such a ridiculous
statement must surely be meant as some form of code. But nope - turns
out it's just a bizarre line, there apparently to remind the viewers
that they are watching a Christmas episode. As if the recycled Dickens
plot, or indeed the viewing date of December 25, would let them
forget.

Then there's the ending, in which the Doctor doesn't even attempt to
help Abigail (Katherine Jenkins). He learns that she is dying, has one
day left to live, and... does nothing. He doesn't even try to help,
doesn't even ask what it is she's dying from. OK, fair enough that
"everything has its time and everything dies." But... shouldn't he at
least see if this really is her time? For all he knows, she's dying of
something easily within his power to cure! Without confirming that
point, one might as well apply "Everything ends" to the passengers on
the crashing ship. The only difference between them and Abigail is one
of numbers!

These gripes aside, I find A Christmas Carol to be one of the series'
better Christmas specials. A light romp with some suitably sentimental
bits thrown in, this is well-made and very well-acted. Not a triumph,
perhaps - but certainly an enjoyable and energetic romp.


Rating: 7/10.

gg

"gerard.morvan"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/02/2012 12:29 PM

<[email protected]> a écrit dans le message de news:
[email protected]m...
> SPACE/TIME
>
Best line: "It's my husband, my short skirt, and your glass floor!"

Gérard Morvan

"Kentoc'h Mervel!"

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

21/02/2012 5:45 AM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>THE REBEL FLESH
>
>2 episodes: The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People. Approx. 88 minutes.
>Written by: Matthew Graham. Directed by: Julian Simpson. Produced by:
>Marcus Wilson.
<snip>
>
>The equivalent of the Silurian 2-parter from last season, complete
>with a very traditional "Classic Who" structure and a (too-)
>substantial amount of moralizing. If this were a classic series story,
>it would be a Pertwee.
<snip>

Yes, it was a very traditional story that was very reminiscent of the
Pertwee days. In fact of all the "New Who" stories there have been, this
was perhaps the most traditional-seeming.
>
>Rating: 6/10.
>

That seems about right.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

27/02/2012 8:36 PM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>NIGHT TERRORS
>
>1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Mark Gatiss. Directed by:
>Richard Clark. Produced by: Sanne Wohlenberg.
>
>Rating: 4/10.
>

I would say 7.5/10 myself. Moreso the fear of rejection than save me
from monsters.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k

jj

in reply to "[email protected].com" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/03/2012 12:06 AM

THE WEDDING OF RIVER SONG

1 episode. Approx. 45 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
Jeremy Webb. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

It's April 22, 2011, at 5:02 pm, and the Holy Roman Emperor Winston
Churchill (Ian McNeice) is troubled. It's always April 22, 2011, and
it's always 5:02 pm. "Tick-tock goes the clock," Churchill quotes,
"but the clock doesn't tick." He's become aware that something is
wrong with time, and sends for the soothsayer - who he locked up in
the Tower of London for insisting that something was wrong with time.

The soothsayer is, inevitably, the Doctor, and he has a story for
Churchill. A story involving a fixed point in time at Lake Silencio,
on April 22, 2011, at 5:02 pm. The time at which the Doctor was shot
by a spacesuit-clad River Song. Only River didn't shoot him,
disrupting time and causing all of history to happen at once. Now the
Doctor must work with his old companions, or at least their
counterparts in this scrambled universe, to sort out history's
failure, before the entire universe comes apart at the seams.

His reward if he succeeds? The death that was prophesied for him - or
so it would appear...


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Apparently was energized by his encounter with Craig and
the Cybermen, and has decided to finally push for answers as to why
the Silence wants him dead. This involves killing a Dalek and tossing
its eyestalk onto a countertop as if it were a calling card, then
surviving a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style double-cross inside a crypt.
Once he finds out the nature of "the question" the Silence wish to
suppress, he seems resigned to his fate, and tries to push River to
restart time in order for his death to move forward. Of course,
there's more to his "death" than appeared at the season's start, but
that's no surprise. He may avert his fate, but he does acknowledge
that his reputation has become a liability. "I got too big," he
declares, "Too noisy. Time to step back into the shadows." Back to
being a traveler who simply has adventures, rather than a legendary
warrior who changes the very meaning of the word "Doctor" with his
presence. I look forward to seeing that - though I wonder if either
character or series truly can go back to those simpler times.

Amy: Thanks to living next to the Crack in Time while growing up, she
is able to hold onto her memories of the Doctor even in this bizarre
alternate reality. She also remembers what Kovarian did to both her
and her daughter, and lets out her anger all at once, in a single
memorable moment. The best scene in the episode for both character and
actress, though, comes at the end - a lovely, quiet moment in which
Amy and River share a genuine mother/daughter moment. Really, the only
true mother/daughter moment they've had to date. Given that Alex
Kingston is old enough to be playing Karen Gillan's mother, it's
startling how convincing the relationship plays.

Rory: The Doctor isn't the real hero of Series Six: Rory is. In any
reality, Rory has this season embodied all the greatest virtues:
compassion, decency, patience, and unconditional love for his wife.
All that without the arrogance the Doctor has so often been guilty of.
The scene in which Rory stands at the door, insisting on protecting
Amy, River, and the Doctor even while suffering enormous pain, is
absolutely in keeping with the man who waited century after century
for Amy's return and who couldn't bring himself to sentence Old Amy to
death even to get back his beautiful young wife. I do regret that the
script doesn't even allow him to get a shot off. Yes, Amy saving him
is a cool moment and wonderful to see. But Rory should at least be
allowed to stand for a moment before his fall.

River Song: Has been so affected by the Doctor that even the control
by the Silents' suit can't make her willingly kill him. Which,
ironically, the Doctor considers just as bad a thing as the Silents
do. The Doctor spends the last part of the episode pushing River to
restore the timeline in which he dies... the one thing she is not
willing to do, no matter what it might mean for Time in general.


THOUGHTS

I honestly didn't think Moffat could pull it off.

Although I appreciated the character work (if not the plot) of Closing
Time, I'll admit to some frustration at seeing the finale to such a
complex season being confined to a single episode. So much that had
been planted in the early part of the season, it seemed impossible
that it could be satisfactorily wrapped up in 45 short minutes. I
honestly wondered if Moffat was perhaps admitting that he had reached
too high this season, if he was just going to wrap it up with a quick
throwaway before moving on.

I suppose I should have had more faith. There have been some "off"
episodes here and there. I still think the triggers of Amy's
kidnapping and River's identity were pulled too soon, leaving too much
dead space between the mid-season cliffhanger and the finale. But The
Wedding of River Song does a remarkably good job tying the season
together, while still leaving some questions and tantalizing hints for
next year.

What really surprises me is how The Wedding of River Song manages to
avoid feeling rushed. It moves very quickly, with the momentum that
characterizes most of Moffat's episodes, but not so quickly that
you're strained to keep up. It enjoys the benefit of having so much
set up in Moffat's previous Series Six episodes. We know what happens
by Lake Silencio, we know who River is, and we know that the Silents
want the Doctor dead out of fear of him. With so much groundwork
already laid, this 45-minute episode is left with the luxury of simply
pulling triggers.

The episode's big reveal isn't really how the Doctor avoids actually
"dying." That's fairly mundane plot stuff, and the solution's very
obvious the second a creation from a previous episode reappears. The
important moment comes just a bit earlier, when River shows him in a
big way what Craig tried to make him see in Closing Time: That even if
he isn't perfect, he is a force for good. We get the inverse of last
season's finale. Last year, we saw a universe of his enemies showing
up to ensure his defeat. This time, we see a universe of those he's
helped come to return the favor. Which they do, if only by making him
recognize the enormous amount of good that he's done.


Of course, it is a Steven Moffat episode, so it's also stuffed to the
brim with cool and clever concepts, many of which seem to exist simply
to be cool and clever. For some viewers, I understand that this is a
problem - and I do understand that, particularly if you really want
every moment to "mean something" within the series context. But I find
it rather enjoyable to stuff parallel universes, pterodactyls, and
flying balloon-cars into an episode just because it "looks cool."
Besides, while the alternate reality may be unnecessary (the basic
plot components could have just as easily occurred in "our" universe,
pre-Lake Silencio), it does allow Ian McNeice to show that he really
is a good actor, thanks to appearing prominently in an episode which
doesn't suck. How ironic that "Emperor Winston Churchill" here feels
like a more believable portrayal of Churchill than the cartoon in the
episode that was actually set during World War II.

It's not a perfect finale, and some threads are still left dangling
that shouldn't be. Particularly, Moffat's script never adequately
addresses the gaps that had been left in the opening 2-parter. We
still don't know exactly when Amy was taken, we still don't know when
or why the Doctor dropped Amy and Rory off before the trip to America,
and we still don't know what happened to them during the 3-month gap
between episodes. I don't know whether Moffat had something in mind
that he just didn't have time to address, whether he changed his mind
about something as the season progressed, or whether he just never
came up with anything good enough to adequately fill the gaps.
Regardless, the failure of the finale or any other point in the season
to address what I still believe were deliberate holes in the premiere
is the one failing of this episode, and the one reason why I'm not
ultimately awarding it full marks.

But it is a fine episode, filled with lovely moments. Add in a tribute
to the late Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart,
perfectly timed so that it not only acts as fan service but also moves
along the plot of the episode, and this is very good work. Not quite
Moffat at his best, but still thoroughly enjoyable.


Rating: 9/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

19/04/2012 10:32 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE TWO DOCTORS: THE PLOT
>
>3 episodes. Approx. 133 minutes. Written by: Robert Holmes. Directed
>by: Peter Moffatt. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.
>
>
>Rating: 9/10.
>

I would say 8/10. The theme of cannibals work as well as genetic
manipulation.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
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https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k Alberta! Time to dump team extreme right
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jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

10/06/2012 10:02 PM

Season 22 (and my second set of 6th Doctor reviews) comes to a close
with the best, if most atypical, story of the season:


REVELATION OF THE DALEKS

2 episodes. Approx. 90 minutes. Written by: Eric Saward. Directed by:
Graeme Harper. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.


THE PLOT

The planet Necros is home to Tranquil Repose, a facility in which
people with enough money and status have themselves stored in
suspended animation until a cure is found for their assorted diseases.
The Doctor and Peri have come because Arthur Stengos (Alec Linstead),
a professor and friend of the Doctor's, has died and his services are
to be held at Tranquil Repose.

But something isn't right here. The two have barely arrived before
being attacked by a hideous mutant, a pathetic figure who croaks about
the experiments of "The Great Healer" before he dies. A great wall
separates the outside from the facility within: A wall with no door.
Inside, Jobel (Clive Swift), the chief embalmer, prepares for the
funeral of the President's wife, even as the staff worries that
Tranquil Repose's best days are behind it.

Meanwhile, the wealthy Kara (Eleanor Bron) has hired the infamous
assassin Orcini (William Gaunt). Orcini is a former Knight of the
Order of Oberon, and he has dreamed of ending his career with an
honorable kill to make him feel like a knight once again. Kara has
such a kill for him. On Necros, at the heart of Tranquil Repose, the
Great Healer resides. But the Great Healer has another name, one he
refuses to use on an open channel. That name... is Davros!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Much has been made about the Doctor's limited screentime
in this story. Perhaps too much, given that he does have a sizable
role in Part Two. But instead of focusing on the size of the part, I'd
like to observe just how much Colin Baker does with it. His
performance is noticeably softer and more subdued than in most of the
rest of the season. In a fairly typical "bickering" bit at the start,
he avoids delivering his lines as barbs, even responding to Peri's
question about whether the local animals bite by putting a note of
sympathy in his voice as he says, "Only each other." Even when
confronting Davros, Colin remains subdued, showing as much with a
glance at a dead body as with his voice. It's very good work, one that
stands in stark contrast to his reputation in some circles as "the
shouty Doctor."

Peri: Nicola Bryant is also more restrained here than in previous
stories, which leads me to think director Graeme Harper was pushing
the actors to embrace the funereal atmosphere. Her interactions with
the Doctor continue to show that, for all the spikiness, these two are
quite fond of each other. When she thinks the Doctor is dead, Jobel
asks if the Doctor was a friend. Unhesitantly, she says he was "the
best." When they are reunited at the story's end, the Doctor
immediately expresses sympathy to Peri for the death of a friend she
made in the course of the story.

Davros: "He sits like a spider at the heart of this planet, using the
money he extorts from us to rebuild his disgusting creatures." Davros
is the dark heart of this story. He lurks, watching the interactions
of those who work at Tranquil Repose. Like any group, there are
weaknesses, imbalances, and Davros pushes at the weakness of
Tasambeker (Jenny Tomasin) at just the right moment to make her do her
worst. He doesn't even have any real purpose: It simply provides a
diversion while salving his wounded ego. When he's done, he disposes
of Tasambeker like a child might do to a used-up and broken toy. Terry
Molloy's performance is the best of his three televised showings
(bettered only by the Big Finish audio story, Davros); he dominates
the proceedings with a gloriously malevolent glee.


THOUGHTS

Doctor Who's final serial before the infamous 18-month hiatus that
would cripple the show, that makes this the final classic Who story
that was made when the series was still at full strength. Thankfully,
this is no "so-bad-it's-funny" runaround, but rather a meticulously-
crafted, wonderfully shot piece that demonstrates that this series was
far from the tired husk its fiercest critics made it out to be.

Revelation has an ambitious script, the most ambitious of Eric
Saward's writing efforts by a considerable margin. Saward does an
enormously good job of making Tranquil Repose into a place that feels
convincing and real. The personalities of the egotistical Jobel (Clive
Swift), the fawning Tasambeker (Jenny Tomasin) and the stable and
steady Takis (Trevor Cooper) feel right, not just as characters in
their own right, but as characters who fit into this setting and who
fit in their relationships with each other.

The structure is made up of strands: Character pairs and interactions
that form a tapestry as we see them building on each other, even when
they don't directly intersect. Like everything about this serial, this
structure is ambitious: Jobel and Tasambeker's strand has no
connection with Orcini's story, and both characters only lightly brush
up against the Doctor and Peri. But all of the strands feel like parts
of the same whole, because they all "fit" within the setting.

I'm no fan of Eric Saward's, but this is his best work and shows that
he did have real ability. No punches are pulled - This is Season 22 at
its purest, with black comedy and grim horror intertwining to ghoulish
effect. It also gets an incredible boost from director Graeme Harper,
who constantly finds ways to keep things visually interesting within
his meticulously framed shots. Whether by color schemes emphasizing
the coldness of Kara (Eleanor Bron)'s ship, or by color tints on the
lighting, or by smoke in the frame, there's almost always something to
push the visual element and keep the action dynamic. This is one of
the best-looking stories of the classic series, with very little here
that invites the viewer to laugh at the cheapness.

Harper's direction emphasizes the greatest strength of Saward's
script: The atmosphere. The cold and somber mood of a funeral home in
decline. That atmosphere can be felt in every scene, every
performance. More than any other element, the craftsmanship behind the
camera pushes this from simply being a good story into being a great
one.


Rating: 10/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

21/07/2012 4:38 PM

THE FIRES OF VULCAN (BF AUDIO)

4 episodes. Approx. 102 minutes. Written by: Steve Lyons. Directed by:
Gary Russell. Produced by: Gary Russell.


THE PLOT

Pompeii, 79 AD. Exactly one day before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius,
which will wipe Pompeii from the Earth, killing thousands of people.
Those people, oblivious to their fates, are going about their
business, obsessed with their own concerns and ambitions.

The High Priestess Eumachia (Lisa Hollander), representing the "pure"
Roman gods, is resentful of the acceptance and popularity of "the
foreign goddess," Isis. She sees that the masses embrace Isis over
Jupiter and needs a way to discredit the goddess to advance her own
station. She finds what she needs in the form of two strangers, who
have arrived in a mysterious blue box and have been hailed as
messengers of Isis. A perfect chance to discredit the goddess by
destroying the two strangers.

For the Doctor and Mel, Eumachia's machinations are a minor concern.
They are all too aware of the imminent eruption, particularly when the
TARDIS is buried under rubble after one of the city's frequent
tremors. Mel wants to find a way to recover the timeship, but the
Doctor reacts with resignation. He tells Mel that in 1980, the ongoing
excavation at Pompeii uncovered a most unusual artifact: A police
telephone box. Time has already spoken. The TARDIS was fated to
disappear in Pompeii, not to be seen again for almost 2,000 years!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: One challenge this story faced was in making a "serious"
7th Doctor fit at least somewhat into the Season 24 characterization.
I think the story succeeds in this. There are some (occasionally
awkward) bits of physical business referred to in the audio,
particularly in the Doctor's humiliation of the gladiator Murranus
(Steven Wickham). There's also an attitude of a generally ineffectual
Doctor, one who reacts with philosophical resignation to his apparent
fate. This seems to fit the Season 24 Doctor, who is not yet fully
formed, more than the later McCoy Doctor. McCoy is at the top of his
game, though his difficulty at conveying anger mars his confrontation
with Murranus at the end of Episode Three.

Mel: I've never shared the Mel hatred - it's clear even in her weakest
outings that Bonnie Langford is a far better screen actor than, say,
Matthew Waterhouse - but she did suffer from poor (often nonexistent)
characterization on television, featured in arguably the weakest run
of stories in the entire series. As the first audio to feature the
character, this story not only had to use her well - It had to
rehabilitate her.

Mel's major traits here are the same as in the television series:
She's earnest, emotional, and compassionate to a fault. But writer
Steve Lyons tones down Mel's, ah, enthusiasm, and highlights her
compassion by giving her a friendship with the young slave Aglae
(Gemma Bissix). Mel gets herself into trouble when she rushes headlong
into a confrontation with Eumachia - but she does so to protect Aglae
from this genuinely horrible woman, and so her headstrong acts make us
like her more, rather than less as was often the case on television.
Langford's performance is outstanding from start to finish, and it's
little surprise that this one audio did so much to change her
reputation among Big Finish listeners.


THOUGHTS

The Fires of Vulcan is one of Big Finish's early audios, #12 in a run
that now encompasses hundreds of stories across multiple Doctor Who
ranges. Revisiting it in the wake of all that followed, it does stand
out how much simpler the sound design was. Effects are basic, with
usually only one or two background effects occurring at a time rather
than the complex soundscapes that would develop later. This is an
audio play and, like the stage, background effects are there to
suggest atmosphere rather than to fully recreate the place and time.
In contrast, many of Big Finish's later efforts would be audio movies.
One approach isn't inherently superior to the other, but it can be
relaxing to revisit this simpler approach.

The Fires of Vulcan largely follows the format of an Irwin Allen
disaster movie. There's a natural disaster on the way that will kill
off most of the characters we're spending time with. But before that
disaster strikes, we spend a lot of time watching (listening to) the
characters indulge their own agendas, with a lot of scheming and
conniving to complicate the simple survival goals of our heroes. Only
in the final part does the disaster finally strike, at which point we
revisit the major characters to see which ones get a chance to escape
and start anew and which ones will receive their just desserts.

The structure may be familiar, but Steve Lyons' script is good.
Eumachia may be a bit of a one-note villain, but other characters have
more to them. Celsinus (Andy Coleman) is introduced in a way that
suggests he will be a villain as well. However, despite Mel labeling
him "the local creep," his character emerges as a sympathetic one.
Murranus seems for most of the story to be a cliched violent thug. But
an exchange in Episode Three allows us to see the reasons for his
obsessive wrath at the Doctor, and his reasons make sense within the
context of his background and circumstances. As a result, Murranus
momentarily becomes a sympathetic figure - though once he becomes
violent again in late Episode Three/early Episode Four, that sympathy
quickly vanishes.

Overall, The Fires of Vulcan is a good story. The sound design may be
much sparer than later audios would offer, but the effects and music
are well-used to create atmosphere. The regulars are on very good
form, with Langford reinventing Mel for Big Finish listeners within
the space of one story. A much-maligned companion is made into a
likable and relatable figure, and a tragedy is brought to life and put
into context by the 1980 bookends. Some of the conniving among guest
characters is a bit theatrical, but it's balanced out by moments of
reflection and genuine maturity.

Even after all these years and a myriad of later releases, this still
stands out as an audio while worth a listen.


Rating: 8/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

27/08/2012 9:35 PM

With Netflix still not having "Dragonfire" available, and it being a
story I'm not very interested in purchasing, I will save it for the
next McCoy run and instead move on to McGann.

The TV Movie having been covered last year, we're obviously in "audio
only" territory now. The audios covered in this run will be:

The Company of Friends: Mary's Story
The Silver Turk
The Witch from the Well
Army of Death


Commencing with...

THE COMPANY OF FRIENDS: MARY'S STORY (BF AUDIO)

1 episode. Approx. 31 minutes. Written by: Jonathan Morris. Directed
by: Nicholas Briggs. Produced by: Nicholas Briggs.


THE PLOT

Switzerland, 1816. At a villa rented by Lord Byron, the famous poet is
spending time with Mary Shelley (Julie Cox), her husband Percy Bysshe
Shelley, her stepsister Claire Clairmont, and Byron's doctor John
Polidori. After reading from a collection of horror stories, Byron
suggests that each member of the company prepare a ghost story for the
following day, as a sort of contest.

This friendly competition is interrupted, however, by the arrival of a
badly wounded stranger: A man so burned that Polidori pronounces that
he has never seen such injuries on anyone living. The man gasps out
that he is a doctor, followed by another word as he recognizes his
current company:

"Frankenstein!"


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Paul McGann gets to play multiple variants of his Doctor.
We see the self-assured Doctor of the last part of The TV Movie, a man
with seemingly no care in the world. We also see an embittered Doctor,
a man who has lost much and perhaps everything. Then there is the
burned and badly-injured Doctor who slips in and out of coherence.
Finally, there is the monster - a Doctor so wounded and mutated that
he becomes violent, out-of-control, more animal than man. Given the
chance to show so much variety within the story's scant thirty
minutes, McGann throws himself into it with relish.

Mary: The title of the story is Mary's Story, and the narrative is
seen entirely through her eyes. Julie Cox is very good as Mary,
depicted as having run off with the much older Percy at the promise of
adventures that never came. The young woman is already jaded by the
reality of a man who "does not believe in fidelity" and who is prone
to mania under the influence of laudanum. Writer Jonathan Morris is
very conscious of this as a companion introduction story, even if this
companion also happens to be a historical figure. His script makes
sure to highlight the traits needed in an engaging companion,
showcasing Mary as strong-willed, compassionate, and observant.
Further depth will likely be added by the full-length stories to come,
but Cox's performance and Morris' script already have her feeling like
a full character even in this short piece.


THOUGHTS

The best of the one-episode stories featured in The Company of
Friends, and the only of these four stories that Big Finish has to
date seen fit to follow up. Mary's Story is far from the first work to
explore the summer that spawned The Vampyre and Frankenstein. Like Ken
Russell's muddled film Gothic, this episode plays with the idea of
genuinely fantastical events inspiring the supernatural tales.

Bits of Frankenstein can be spotted throughout the piece. Percy
Shelley's mania as he cries, "He's aliiive!" is an obvious echo of the
Boris Karloff movie, as are references to fire and torch-wielding
villagers. There's even a line that winks at the confusion caused by
the later film series, wherein "Frankenstein" became the monster
instead of the scientist.

All of this is amusing, though the "monster" scenes tend to be the
most jumbled of the episode. Still, the real interest here is in the
glimpses of the different variants of the Doctor. This is effectively
a multi-Doctor story, showing the Eighth Doctor at two distinct points
in his life. The early Eighth Doctor, still innocent and hungry for
adventure, contrasts with the bitter, late-in-his-life Eighth Doctor,
a man who has traveled with so many companions and ended up alone at
the end of it.

Despite a few rushed moments that were probably inevitable in a single-
episode story, Mary's Story is a good one. An introduction to a
character worth following, and a glimpse of the Eighth Doctor's full
journey at both its start and its end. It's clever and fun, and I look
forward to seeing where the Doctor/Mary partnership goes from here.


Rating: 8/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2012 7:20 AM

Dalek 8/10 ? Are you kidding me?

Dalek get 'emotional' and then self-destrcuts for being impure.



4/10!
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
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dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

30/10/2011 4:35 PM

any chance we can read your reviews here?

IT would be nice if Google could be its GRoups act together.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
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Ontario, Nfld, and Manitoba boot the extremists out and vote Liberal!

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

17/12/2011 9:45 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>EARTHSHOCK
>
>Rating: 8/10.
>

Fully agreed. One classic with twists and turns.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy New Year 2012 !

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

27/02/2012 9:46 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>I had expected "A Good Man Goes to War" and "Let's Kill Hitler" to
>form a 2-parter. Now that I've watched them, I realize that they are
>actually completely separate episodes. Therefore, they will get
>completely separate reviews, starting with...
>
>
>A GOOD MAN GOES TO WAR
>
>1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
>Peter Hoar. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.
>
>Rating: 9/10.
>

Concurred. One of the best build up episode. This set the
tone for the rest of the season.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Birthdate : 29 Jan 1969 Croydon, Surrey, UK

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

08/03/2012 12:44 AM

THE GOD COMPLEX

1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Toby Whithouse. Directed
by: Nick Hurran. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

In the corridors of a hotel, as muzak blares over the speaker system,
a monster stalks the halls. The people trapped inside are not guests.
They are people from all across time and space, taken from their
ordinary lives to this structure - a place that is not on Earth, in
which the walls and corridors move. Inside this structure, there is a
room for everybody. Inside that room is the person's worst nightmare.
And once they have found their nightmare, they are ready: First to
"praise him," and then to become food for the beast.

Into this bright labyrinth come the Doctor, Amy, and Rory. They
quickly meet the "hotel's" current group of victims, who have been
wandering the corridors for two days. The Doctor is here now, though,
so there's no need for any of them to be afraid. He will unravel the
puzzle and defeat the monster, and then everyone can go home safely.
Nothing to worry about. After all, he's the Doctor.

"Praise him."


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: So what did he see in his room? Whatever it was, it and
Rita's words to him clearly are leading him to reassess his nature.
We've already seen a tendency toward self-loathing in this Doctor,
most recently when he proclaimed himself as not a good man. Here, that
is taken further. "I'm not a hero," he says. "I really am just a
madman in a box... It's time to see each other as we really are."

Amy: Has absolute faith in the Doctor to save them. She has a
compassionate scene early on with Gibbis (David Walliams), a cowardly
alien from the most invaded planet in the galaxy. It's a nice scene on
its own, but even stronger in hindsight, when you can recognize it as
foreshadowing. Amy's nightmare is of herself as a child, waiting for
the Doctor to come back for her. The first time the Doctor failed her
- which was also the first time they met.

Rory: Still the most grounded of the time travellers, and still the
most decent. His reaction to one death is to look at that person's
picture on the wall and muse to the Doctor about how much it must have
taken for that individual to overcome a stutter in their past. "Not
all victories are about saving the universe," he says quietly, a
statement that has to set the Doctor to thinking.


THOUGHTS

The God Complex is another visually superb episode. It probably wasn't
a particularly expensive one. The hotel sets are fairly standard, and
much of the running time occurs in one corridor and one staircase,
which are reused throughout. But these sets are wonderfully shot, with
director Nick Hurran employing an array of camera techniques from
tilted cameras to speeded-up motion to lend the proceedngs a vaguely
surreal atmosphere.

The production is matched by an excellent script, the best that Toby
Whithouse has yet written for the series. Whithouse's first episode,
School Reunion, became an instant fan favorite thanks in large part to
the return of Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) - but despite good
use of the characters, I personally felt that School Reunion had big
problems with its paper-thin story. His second episode, Vampires of
Venice, was an improvement on the plot level, but this script sees
Whithouse combining the elements just about perfectly. The character
material and the plot aren't competing for attention here; they're
feeding each other, the characterization of both regulars and guest
cast an inherent component of the story itself.
The regulars are superbly characterized. Whithouse also deserves
credit for creating some engaging guest characters. Amara Karan's Rita
is the only completely 3-dimensional creation here, but all of the
"monster fodder" manage to make an impression during their time on-
screen. The characters also each provide hints, which allow the Doctor
to piece it all together at the end - if a bit later than he'd have
liked.

Like the last couple of episodes, The God Complex indulges in emotion
at the end. Unlike the last two episodes, which I felt overegged the
sentiment, here it feels like just the right amount. The Doctor's
scene with Amy/Amelia in "her room" works for me in a way that "Old
Amy's" speech at the end of The Girl Who Waited didn't. For one thing,
the Doctor's speech is much shorter, saying only as much as is
necessary to achieve the goal. Also, instead of being used to wrap
things up neatly, the emotion on display here increases the mess. The
Doctor resolves the situation, but at a cost to himself.

The monster's final words to him hit home, for both Doctor and
audience. As does the episode's final shot, with the Doctor in his
TARDIS - increasingly isolated, increasingly disillusioned with
himself. It's an interesting place to leave a man who has usually been
defined by his confidence, and I'm eager to see where the show goes
from here.


Rating: 9/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

02/04/2012 12:04 AM

NIGHT AND THE DOCTOR

4 episodes: Bad Night, Good Night, First Night, Last Night. Approx. 14
minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by: Richard Senior.
Produced by: Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger, Beth Willis.


THE PLOT

As Amy and Rory sleep, the Doctor continues to have adventures.
Whether getting up to madcap antics at a party involving ambassadors
and princes changed into fish and flies, or simply going out with
River Song on dates that are like as not to end in danger, his life
just continues even as his companions slumber. "We're such small parts
of your life," Amy realizes when she walks into the midst of one of
his nocturnal outings. But Amy isn't the only one catching just a
small glimpse of a larger picture. Even the Doctor himself sees only
patches of the full tapestry, particularly on a night involving
multiple versions of River Song, two versions of himself, and a night
that is both a first and a last...


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: In The Doctor's Wife, his companions asked if he had a
room. The answer was implicit - He didn't need a room, he had a
TARDIS. This short piece raises another question: Does the Doctor
actually sleep? I'm pretty sure some of his earlier incarnations were
seen to, or referred to as sleeping. But the 11th Doctor doesn't seem
to sleep. He just keeps on with his life and his adventures. He
counters Amy's fears about being just a tiny part of his existence by
telling her that his companions are all that he truly remembers. But
he keeps pushing forward with activity, perhaps afraid to stand still
and let real emotion touch him.

Amy: Good Night gives Amy some charming material. She remembers two
versions of her life - one from the universe with the Crack, in which
she had no parents or family, and one from the rebooted universe, in
which she always has had parents. "My life doesn't make any sense,"
she complains.

River Song: On her first night in Stormcage, the Doctor rescues her
with a date and lays down the rules which will be entrenched in her
mind by the time they first meet. We see three different versions of
River in this story. The youngest River is tentative, clearly
concerned about a life in prison. The middle River is jealous at the
thought that the Doctor has another woman on the TARDIS (not realizing
that the other woman is her). The latest River is the most carefree
and comfortable with the Doctor. All three are highly firtatious, and
both the youngest and oldest River make the same remark about the
possibilities posed by two Doctors at the same time. The interplay
between Matt Smith and Alex Kingston is charming, and they have an
evident screen chemistry that keeps the last two episodes humming
smoothly.


THOUGHTS

First off: Yes, I'm aware there's a fifth episode - "Up All Night" -
included on the Series Six set. But it's fairly clear watching it (and
looking up its credits) that this is just an unaired episode prequel
to Closing Time, no more worthy of a separate review than any of the
other episode prequels. It has no connection whatever with the other
four Night and the Doctor scenes, and so I feel quite justified in
simply ignoring it for purposes of this review. After all, I didn't
review the "additional scenes" on the Series Five set - and "Up All
Night" is even more inconsequential than those were.

Mind you, those Series Five additional scenes probably form the root
of this bonus serial. Those two comedy scenes, the first acting as a
bridge between The Eleventh Hour and The Beast Below, the second as a
bridge between Flesh and Stone and Vampires of Venice, were terrific
bonuses. They were also well-received, which is probably why writer/
executive producer Steven Moffat decided to take the idea even further
for the Series Six set.

At first, the "Night and the Doctor" scenes appear to be more comedy
extras along the same lines. "Bad Night" offers a madcap glimpse of
an extra adventure, with an amusing payoff to Amy's swatting of a fly.
"Good Night" is slower and more sincerely emotional, offering a
genuinely charming scene between the Doctor and Amy. It's also during
this scene that it becomes obvious that these bits are interconnected,
as the conversation Amy has with the Doctor is the same one he evaded
during "Bad Night."

The last two episodes are the most clearly linked, as the Doctor
interrupts River Song's first night in Stormcage with a TARDIS trip.
As with the first episode, the tone is almost entirely comical. But
"First Night" doesn't even pretend to resolve, instead ending with a
(comic) cliffhanger leading into "Last Night." The final episode
retains the comedy tone - right up to the end, when we get a surprise
emotional kicker, allowing the entire four episode piece to end on a
poignant note.

Ultimately, all four episodes are thematically linked in a way that's
best summed up by the Doctor's own words to Amy in "Good Night." When
she talks about a strange woman (who ends up being herself) buying the
child Amy an ice cream and telling her, "Cheer up. Have an ice cream,"
the Doctor replies with some rare, perfect advice:

"Amy, time and space is never ever going to make any kind of sense. A
long time ago, you got the best possible advice on how to deal with
that. So I suggest you go and give it."


A lovely little home video bonus, one whose ambition and
accomplishment goes above and beyond what could reasonably be expected
of a simple dvd extra. Taking into account that this is a bonus story
shot almost entirely on one set, with no guest stars, then this is
stunningly good.


Rating: 9/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

18/04/2012 9:59 PM

On Apr 11, 7:24 pm, "Inigo Montoya" <[email protected]> wrote:
> wrote in messagenews:[email protected]...
>
> >NIGHT AND THE DOCTOR
>
> >4 episodes: Bad Night, Good Night, First Night, Last Night. Approx. 14
> >minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by: Richard Senior.
> >Produced by: Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger, Beth Willis.
>
> What's this from?

A "bonus serial" on the Series Six dvd/blu-ray set. The four
"episodes" are special features on the disc that contains "The
Doctor's Wife" and the "Rebel Flesh" 2-parter.


Next up is my second set of Colin Baker reviews, which will consist of
the following stories:

The Two Doctors
Davros (BF audio)
Timelash
The Year of the Pig (BF audio)
Revelation of the Daleks

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

21/05/2012 9:46 AM

I would say TimeLAsh 3/10. Please talk about dreadful.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
That church which changes with the times cannot also be abiding in Christ

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

25/07/2012 10:38 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
Max Vilmio <[email protected]> wrote:
>wrote in message
>news:[email protected]m...
>
>>my personal preferences - I loved the pure historicals of 1960's, and
>
>It's too bad they'll never be back.
>

Peter Davison did haveone. REcall Black Orchid.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
That church which changes with the times cannot also be abiding in Christ

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/10/2012 8:28 PM

DALEK

1 episode. Approx. 45 minutes. Written by: Robert Shearman. Directed
by: Joe Ahearne. Produced by: Phil Collinson.


THE PLOT

The Doctor follows a distress signal to Utah, 2012 - specifically, to
the underground museum of Internet billionaire Henry van Statten
(Corey Johnson). Van Statten has turned a fortune into an empire by
studying alien artifacts that have fallen to Earth, adapting their
technology for the marketplace ("Broadband? Roswell!").

But the prize of his collection is a living being which he has dubbed
"The Metaltron." The creature is encased in a protective machine, and
it refuses to speak. Van Statten's men have tortured it to make it
scream, but it still won't talk. Until the Doctor walks into its cage,
determined to rescue it from captivity.

Only this machine is no simple victim. It is the last surviving member
of the most evil race the Doctor has ever faced. It is a Dalek!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: For the Ninth Doctor, the cheerful cover was never more
than a very thin veneer even at the best of times. Christopher
Eccleston delivers his best Who performance, showing that cover not so
much stripped away as shattered. From the instant he recognizes the
Dalek right up to the story's end, he is intensely and nakedly
emotional: terrified, desperate, and overflowing with rage. The
Doctor's not wrong to call for the creature's death, as the entire
first 30 minutes chillingly demonstrate, but it's still disconcerting
to see spittle literally fly from his lips as he screams at the Dalek:
"Why don't you just die!?!"

Rose: Her compassion compels her to rush to the Dalek's cage when she
sees van Statten's men torturing it. She knows nothing of its nature,
and it is easily able to manipulate her into touching it - allowing it
to extrapolate from her DNA to repair itself. In this way, Rose's
compassion sets off the events that lead to so many deaths, something
the Doctor's harshness would have prevented had he not been stopped.
Still, Rose's ability to identify with the Dalek stops the killing in
the end, as the Dalek extrapolates too much of her into itself. More
importantly, she is able to defuse the Doctor's rage, leading him back
to his usual self by the show's end.

Adam: The first of two stories featuring interim companion Adam
Mitchell (Bruno Langley). Rose responds strongly to Adam, openly
flirting in their very first proper scene together. Adam's
intelligence and lack of respect for authority remind her of the
Doctor - a younger, sexually available version of the Doctor. Adam
does manage to get on the Doctor's bad side by saving himself by
ducking under a descending bulkhead rather than trying to help Rose,
but I don't think he can be condemned there. Rose was too many steps
behind - All he would have accomplished by lingering would be trapping
himself on the wrong side of the bulkhead with her, which would surely
have ended in his death in a way that would have been no help to Rose
at all.

Dalek: Quite possibly the only new series story in which the Daleks
really work. The story strips the threat down to a single Dalek.
Battered and old, it looks more pathetic than frightening. Which makes
it all the more effective as it rips through van Statten's small army
of guards with no effort at all. We are shown its intelligence, not
only through decoding the lock to its cage and "absorbing the
Internet," but also viscerally. Surrounded by guards, the Dalek takes
in the room. It observes the fire alarm, the sprinkler system, the
metal all around... and in three expertly-judged shots, a matter of
seconds, it performs a massacre. The spectacle is enough to make Van
Statten finally take the thing seriously - and more than enough to
sell every viewer on the threat of the Daleks.


THOUGHTS

The episode opens with an effective aside, working both as a nod to
the old series and the old fans and as a thematic tie-in with this
story. The Doctor and Rose are poking around Van Statten's private
museum, when the Doctor comes across the head of a classic series
Cyberman. He stares at it through the glass, shocked and a little
disgusted at seeing "the stuff of nightmares reduced to an exhibit."
There's not even a pause in breath between him observing that and
stating that he's "getting old."

Like the Cybermen, the Time Lords and the Daleks are all gone. The
stuff of myth and nightmares, reduced to one Time Lord and one Dalek,
living relics of an age long past. If van Statten has his way, both
Dalek and Doctor will be reduced to museum exhibits - intelligent
animals, kept in a private cage for his own entertainment.

Dalek is loosely based on writer Robert Shearman's Big Finish audio,
Jubilee. The two stories are very different, however. Their only real
similarities are the idea of a single, imprisioned Dalek and a similar
(though not identical) Doctor/Dalek confrontation scene.

I like Jubilee better overall, but the Doctor/Dalek scene in Dalek is
by far the stronger confrontation. With the Time War backstory, it's
more meaningful. Instead of simply being a verbal confrontation
between the Doctor and a Dalek, it is a confrontation between the last
Time Lord and the last Dalek, the start of what would seem to be the
final battle of that war. All "Doctorish" elements drop away from
Eccleston's performance in an instant, as he taunts his enemy, blocks
out its words about them being the same, and finally embraces that
charge by attempting to kill the Dalek - even preceding his attempt by
intoning the Dalek catchphrase: "Exterminate!" It's been seven years
since Doctor Who returned to television as I write this, and this
remains the most intense scene the series has presented.

The first thirty minutes of Dalek are magnificent. It's a very
stripped-down episode: a single Dalek on a rampage, Rose and Adam on
the run from it, and the Doctor determined to not only stop it but
obliterate it. The script is taut, smart, and suspenseful, the pace
driving relentlessly right up to the instant that bulkhead closes with
Rose caught on the wrong side of it.

And then, it all falls apart.

There is nothing in the first thirty minutes of Dalek that does not
work for me. Unfortunately, there is little in the last ten minutes
that does work. The Dalek doesn't transform gradually. Despite an
attempt to plant something early on in the Dalek focusing on Rose, it
still behaves as a traditional Dalek - albeit a traditional Dalek on
steroids. But once that bulkhead closes, it suddenly becomes a
completely different entity.

Maybe if the Dalek spared only Rose, because of its connection with
her, but continued to exterminate everyone else... Maybe then it
wouldn't feel so completely out of place dramatically. But its sparing
of van Statten and Goddard (Anna-Louise Plowman) is a step too far.
The Dalek goes from "alien death machine" to "grumpy puppy" with
practically no transition, and that last ten minutes feels like it
belongs to a very different episode, a very much worse one.

If I was as enthusiastic about the show's ending as I am about the
rest of it, this would be the best Ninth Doctor episode. It's still a
decidedly above-average episode, with a stunning performance by
Christopher Eccleston and some of the best moments in the entire new
series. The ending fails badly for me, though, transforming a great
episode into merely a very good one.


Rating: 8/10.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

04/11/2012 4:09 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
The Doctor <[email protected]> writes:
>In article <[email protected]>,
>[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>>FATHER'S DAY
>>
>>Rating: 8/10.
>>
>
> I would say 7/10 Myself. Hole plots includes
>how did the Doctor disappear and return and what
>were any repercussion of the creatures otherwise.

Yes, the fact that, not only have we not seen the Reapers either before
or since but they've never even been mentioned outside this story (that
I can remember), has been nagging away at me. Creatures so important to
the smooth "operation" of time surely should have been referred to
fairly often, even if not actually appearing.
--
John Hall

"The beatings will continue until morale improves."
Attributed to the Commander of Japan's Submarine Forces in WW2

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

30/10/2011 4:02 PM

On Oct 29, 3:54 pm, [email protected] (The Doctor) wrote:
> In article <[email protected]m>,
>
>
> Can you not do a copy/paste? That is really arestrictive if not.
>
> --

No. When I try to do a copy/paste, I get a message that the text
lines are too long to be read. Otherwise, I would be posting full
reviews, not weblinks.

It may be a bug in the updated Google Groups. I'll give it a couple
more weeks, then try again when I cycle around to 5th Doctor reviews
(probably about 2 weeks - I have one more 4th Doctor audio short story
I'll be covering next week, then I'll move up to "The Visitation" and
the rest of Season 19).

If it's just a bug, it will probably be clear by then and I'll post
full reviews again. If not, it will either be web links or nothing,
as I simply will not retype an entire review simply to save readers a
single mouse click.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

17/12/2011 3:06 AM

EARTHSHOCK

4 episodes. Approx. 97 minutes. Written by: Eric Saward. Directed by:
Peter Grimwade. Produced by: John Nathan-Turner.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS materializes in a cave in the distant future. In the midst
of an argument with Adric, the Doctor decides to use this as a chance
to walk around and collect his temper. But the isolation is an
illusion... as he discovers when he walks right into a group of
soldiers, who have just lost several men to an unknown alien presence.
Making him the obvious target for blame.

He establishes himself as an ally by helping the soldiers defeat two
killer androids. He then defuses a bomb the androids had been
guarding, one which would have left Earth completely devastated. He
traces the bomb's signal to a freigher in deep space, and takes the
TARDIS to investigate. There, he finds himself and his companions in
even greater danger. Both androids and bomb were the work of the
Doctor's old enemies, the Cybermen. And they were just the beginning
of the cybermen's plan to establish their dominance by wiping out all
life on Earth!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Though most of Eric Saward's later serials would place the
Doctor in a peripheral role, he is actually characterized quite
strongly here. The Cyberleader describes him as "formidable," a term
he lives up to consistently. He is almost entirely responsible for
thwarting the Cybermen's first plan, in the cave. On the freighter, he
constantly watches the proceedings, sizing up the situation and calmly
putting the pieces together. Davison continues to play a barely-
restrained weariness with other people's stupidity. Watch him in the
final episode when he's calmly baiting the Cyberleader. When Captain
Briggs (Beryl Reid) interrupts, he gets this lovely look of annoyance
on his face. The Fifth Doctor may not be as blatant about it as his
two immediate predecessors. But he still doesn't suffer fools gladly -
just a bit more quietly.

Adric: Adric is paired with the Doctor throughout the story, allowing
the script to emphasize the teacher/student relationship between the
two. This gives him a decent role - a necessity, for the ending to
work as well as it does. But the story doesn't tip its hand. Adric is
his usual self throughout. He spends the first two episodes in a snit,
essentially throwing an extended temper tantrum to get the Doctor to
pay more attention to him. This works, as the Doctor happily brings
him along to explore the freighter in the second half... which doesn't
turn out so well for the young Alzarian, though his fate is largely of
his own making.

Nyssa: She is reduced to a peripheral role, particularly in the second
half of the story. The obligatory TARDIS cutaways may as well come
with on-screen captions reading, "Nyssa's part for the week." These
cutaways feature what is probably Sutton's all-time worst performance
in the role. Matthew Waterhouse's acting limitations are certainly on
display - but Sutton is much worse than he is this time.

Tegan: Janet Fielding, however, is on particularly good form. Tegan's
role isn't really much better than normal. She is as headstrong and
stubborn as ever. But Fielding tempers Tegan's stridency with a
compassionate side. I like the instinctive hug she gives to Nyssa at
the end, even before she turns to the Doctor. Tegan also seems to have
taken it on herself to be the one to reason with the Doctor when it
comes to dealing with his companions as a group. While Nyssa soothes
Adric, Tegan goes out into the cave to "talk some sense" into the
Doctor.

Cybermen: The Cybermen's first appearance since 1974's Revenge of the
Cybermen. This proved to be a much more successful comeback for them -
so much so that they rejoined the ranks of the series' regular
villains. This is almost certainly their best post-1960's use. They
are genuinely formidable, with some clever camera trickery allowing
them to be seen in force at the end of Part Three. David Banks'
Cyberleader does seem a bit prone to gloating for a supposedly
unemotional being, but this is a fairly minor fault in an otherwise
strong outing.


THOUGHTS

Earthshock is, in its way, as ambitious a story as Warrior's Gate or
Kinda. Not in the same way as those stories, with their multilayered
narratives and thematic depth. None of that here. This is a straight-
ahead action piece with no real layers beneath its surface. The
ambition here is in how far it tries to push Doctor Who's limited
schedule and budget. Eric Saward is effectively trying to mount a
Hollywood-style sci-fi/action blockbuster within the constraints of a
Doctor Who 4-parter. It's fast, violent, full of gunfire and
explosions.

On a classic Who budget, it by all rights should fall flat on its
face. But a strong production comes together with a streamlined script
and a mostly outstanding incidental score. The result may not be
flawless. But taken on the level of an action movie, this story works
very well indeed.

A lot of the credit has to go to director Peter Grimwade. He maintains
tight control of the narrative and atmosphere, using an effective mix
of quick cuts and occasional, lingering shots. Many camera shots are
framed very precisely, with characters in both foreground and
background. The Cyberleader announces his army while standing in front
of a monitor showing the army marching through the corridors. The
Doctor defuses a bomb while Adric looks over his shoulder in the
background.

Grimwade's occasional weakness at working with actors does show
itself. Sutton is unusually poor. James Warwick, a reliable actor,
isn't quite on form. Other guest actors are largely wooden, with one
exception: Beryl Reid. Fandom insists that Reid was badly miscast, an
early example of producer John Nathan-Turner's "stunt casting" going
wrong. I strongly disagree. Beryl Reid was a terrific actress with
range and a dynamic screen energy. In a role that is rather generic on
paper, she lights up the screen and turns someone who should be just a
plot device into a strong presence. There's no question in my mind
that this story would be far the poorer without her.

It's all very entertaining. It probably should have been left as the
only story of its type, rather than being closely replicated at least
two (arguably three) times over the next three seasons. But as a
change of pace (what it was, at this point), it's effective. Even
startling.

And within the larger story of the Fifth Doctor, it marks the point at
which he is first confronted by a universe that's become just a bit
meaner and harsher than he's necessarily prepared for.


Rating: 8/10.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/01/2012 6:08 AM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>I'll next be moving on to reviews of Series Six. There will be a
>delay, as I'm re-watching Series Five before moving on.
>
>A couple quick placement questions, please, regarding two titles:
>
>1) Sarah Jane Adventures: Death of the Doctor. Does this go before or
>after "A Christmas Carol," or does it matter?

I don't think that it matters, and I don't think that we're given enough
information in "Death of the Doctor" to be able to tell. (But my memory
is atrocious nowadays, so don't take that as Gospel.) However it
definitely takes place before at least the later stories in the most
recent Dr Who season (which I don't regard "A Christmas Carol" as part
of, as IIRC that was the Christmas special for 2010). I won't say why,
just in case that could be regarded as a minor spoiler. Incidentally,
if you haven't yet seen "Death of the Doctor" then try to make sure that
you do, as it's great fun.


>
>2) "Night and the Doctor" DVD scenes. Do these slot in at any
>particular point in the season, or is placement irrelevent?

I may not have seen these scenes, as the title "Night and the Doctor"
doesn't ring any bells. (But see my memory caveat above.)
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

22/01/2012 2:46 PM

On Jan 21, 12:00 pm, John Hall <[email protected]> wrote:

> I know that some people turn their noses up at the SJA series, and I'm
> glad that you aren't among them. I must confess that I rather turned my
> nose up at it myself before I started watching it, thinking that it
> would be "kid's stuff". But when I overcame my prejudice and began
> watching, I found that it was very engaging, and sometimes incorporated
> some more imaginative story-lines than most of those in "Doctor Who"
> proper.
> --
> John Hall
> "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
> by those who have not got it."
> George Bernard Shaw


I did, too, initially - largely because I found the pilot episode to
be overly frenetic and poorly-plotted. The pilot episode seemed a
little too conscious that it was "for kids."

I only tried the show again when the 10th Doctor crossed over to "The
Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith/" I braced myself for crap - and was
pleasantly surprised at just how enjoyable and well-performed the show
was. After that, I went back and watched through the first two
seasons. I still found the pilot to be pretty poor (some casting
changes made between pilot and series were VERY good choices), but it
took a surprisingly short time for the series proper to find its
footing.

I do still need to catch up with the last two seasons. What I'll
probably do is just run through the full SJS series at some point,
adding it to my review rotation when I do. But I'll leave that for a
later day.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

05/02/2012 7:54 PM

THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT

2 episodes: The Impossible Astronaut, Day of the Moon. Approx. 88
minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by: Toby Haynes. Produced
by: Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

Amy, Rory, and River Song all come together in present-day America,
summoned through numbered invitations sent by the Doctor. He is very
happy to see them, and explains that they are going to 1969, a year
when much more happened "than anyone remembers." But before he can
tell them more, a mysterious astronaut appears. He walks off to speak
with this apparition - and is immediately killed by it.

It's no trick. The Doctor is dead. But one other person was invited to
this reunion: the Doctor's younger self. Now his three old companions
must convince him to travel back to 1969, and must do so without
telling him what has happened/will happen to him. At the end of the
trip waits a President whose career will one day end in disgrace
(Stuart Milligan), a disgraced FBI agent (Mark Sheppard), and the
Silents - an alien race which can only be remembered when directly
observed.

"Silence will fall," Prisoner Zero had insisted way back in The
Eleventh Hour. Now, it seems, the Silents are here - and, quite
possibly, unstoppable!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Last season's The Time of Angels saw him trying to run
from the future River represented. Now, he's actively enjoying that
relationship. He still doesn't trust her, but he enjoys their flirting
and banter. The climactic facedown with the aliens sees them as a
comfortable team, with him confessing that he actually enjoys her
amoral side, even though he recognizes that he probably shouldn't.

Amy: Has the most overtly emotional reaction to the Doctor's death,
denying that it even could happen. She still sees him as the man who
came out of the sky during her childhood to fix the scary crack in her
bedroom wall. She focuses intently on preventing the death she has
just witnessed, which leads her to a rash action at the end of Part
One. Karen Gillan also gets a chance to play with creeping, quiet
terror in a memorable set piece in Part Two, and she is - as ever -
terrific.

Rory: Has the most grounded reaction to the Doctor's death. It's
happened. Now they must deal with it. He may be dead, but as he tells
Amy and River, "he still needs us." He seems to have the easiest time
immediately interacting with the younger Doctor when he arrives, while
Amy has the most difficulty. A very good, quiet moment in Episode Two
sees Rory confessing to the Doctor that he does remember his millennia-
long wait for Amy, but that he doesn't remember it all the time. "It's
like a door," he tells the Doctor, "I can keep it closed." Which is
likely the only thing that has kept him sane.

River Song: Previous stories have kept River at a distance. She's a
character we observe, not someone with whom we truly identify. But
this story pushes her into closer focus. She confides to Rory the
emotional toll of her backwards relationship with the Doctor. The
longer she knows him, the more times she interacts with him, the less
he knows her. For her, their relationship began with him knowing
everything about her. Now, she's nearing her end of that relationship
and his beginning. He still knows her - but less and less each time.
She is losing him, and he can't share in the loss because he's only
just getting to know her.


THE GAPS IN THE SILENCE

Disjointed.

That's really the word that best describes the 2-part kickoff for
Series Six. Not in a bad way, though. This is an excellent 2-parter,
superbly crafted, thickly atmospheric, and stuffed to the brim with
the kind of structural tricks that are Stephen Moffat's stock in
trade. It's not disjointed in the sense of a story badly told, but
rather in the strictly literal sense that not all of the joins are
there. There are connections we don't see, really from the very
beginning of the story, creating several points at which I had to stop
and ask myself, "Where are we now?"

When last we saw the Doctor, Amy, and Rory, they were all together and
off on another adventure. Here, we pick up with Amy and Rory settled
into a (very nice) house. What happened? We aren't sure, and the
episode doesn't explain. We just know that "time passed."

Next, everyone meets up with the Doctor. But it's a strange meeting,
with the audience trying to play catch-up to figure out what happened
in the gap while the Doctor has some extra knowledge he's not sharing.
Just as we think we might be catching up, the Doctor is killed. This
sets off the narrative... but not just the narrative of the serial,
which never comes full circle to the Doctor's death. Clearly, this is
set-up for later in the season. Within the episode, it actually
creates more distance by opening yet another gap just as the first gap
was starting to feel closed.

The rest of Part One plays normally enough. The tone is first fast and
jokey, as the Doctor takes rapid control in the Oval Office. Then
everything becomes very dark and creepy. We get a slow build to the
cliffhanger, one that leaves every character in direct physical or
emotional jeopardy. The sort of cliffhanger that demands the next
episode pick up from that very second.

Pop in Episode Two, and... It's three months later. Grainy flashbacks
quickly sketch in broadstrokes how Rory and River got away from the
aliens in the tunnels and what happened to the Doctor, Amy, and
Canton. But the details are left obscure, and we're left to play catch-
up regarding what's happened since.

More narrative gaps. Amy has some bizarre encounters, then wakes up
and is told she has been in a dark room for "several days," when she
knows she's only just been taken there. In Part One, Amy makes a claim
that Part Two flatly contradicts. Gaps upon gaps. For the direct
narrative of this 2-parter, it creates distance. But I suspect those
gaps are there to be filled later. If I'm right, this is the kind of
serial that will be much more rewarding on second viewing, once the
other pieces have fallen into place.


THOUGHTS ON THE STORY

But all of the above is really for later, as I get to the rest of the
season. I will say, this opening makes me even more thankful to have
kept myself unspoiled than I was when watching Series Five.
Discounting implications for the rest of the season, how does this 2-
parter work as a story in itself?

I've already mentioned how the disjointed narrative creates distance.
But it also creates a surreal atmosphere that greatly appeals to my
personal tastes. Part Two has a particularly nightmarish feel. There's
a vivid set piece that features Amy wandering through the labyrinth of
an abandoned children's home. The horror imagery here would put most
modern ghost and monster movies to shame. The Silents are wonderfully
designed, creepy and alien in a way that suggests their parasitical
nature. A scene in which Amy tries to pick her way unseen through a
roomful of Silents is genuinely frightening, and likely gave younger
viewers some very bad dreams upon initial airing.

Also, despite the deliberate gaps, the story does effectively hold
together. The effective bits creating atmosphere also tie together the
story: The aliens, which cannot be remembered except when observed;
the markings Amy, Rory, and River draw upon their bodies. Not only do
they heighten the tension in the set pieces, they feed in perfectly to
the way in which the Doctor ultimately defeats them. Throw away the
gaps, the surreal trappings, and the obvious setup for the season arc,
and the story still works on its own.

After the general excellence of Series Five and its outstanding
finale, Steven Moffat had a job on his hands to show that he could
keep that momentum going. The Impossible Astronaut is exactly the
season opener he needed to prove that he could continue to create that
level of television magic. It's narratively clever without blunting
the effect of the story's horror elements. And as a setup to a new
season and a new chapter of the ongoing narrative, it does its job of
raising anticipation for what may come next.


Rating: 9/10.

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

20/02/2012 1:57 PM

In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>THE DOCTOR'S WIFE
>
>1 episode. Approx. 46 minutes. Written by: Neil Gaiman. Directed by:
>Richard Clark. Produced by: Sanne Wohlenberg.
<snip>
>
>A near perfectly-judged episode. It's idiosyncratic, but not so much
>as to distance viewers from enjoying it. It's unique, but it
>absolutely feels like Doctor Who at every turn. It's character-
>centric, but not at the expense of being a fast-paced and atmospheric
>adventure story. I said of The Curse of the Black Spot that it was not
>a story I would likely ever re-watch. In contrast, this is a story
>that I will revisit often.
>
>
>Rating: 10/10.
>

Agreed. It's among the nominees for a 2011 Nebula Award in the category
"Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation".

Suranne Jones was tremendous in it. I had previously been impressed by
her portrayal of a very different character in the Sarah Jane Adventures
episode "Mona Lisa's Revenge". She is as talented as she is beautiful.
--
John Hall
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

27/02/2012 12:05 AM

And the next one...


LET'S KILL HITLER

1 episode. Approx. 48 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
Richard Senior. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.


THE PLOT

Months have passed for Amy and Rory, waiting at home to hear from the
Doctor. Finally fed up with their inability to contact him, they
decide to attract his attention by creating a crop circle. It works,
but it attracts other attention as well. Their friend Mels (Nina
Toussaint-White) follows them in a stolen car, then forces her way
onto the TARDIS.

The time machine materializes in late 1930's Germany. Just in time to
save Hitler's life - an irony, given that Mels' first thought upon
entering the time machine is to "kill Hitler." The German Chancellor
was being menaced by the Tesselecta, a time travelling robot from the
future staffed by miniaturized officials determined to punish
history's most notorious criminals.

The Doctor's arrival diverts their attention from Hitler. They have
found a more interesting war criminal to pursue. Because River Song
has just arrived - a River who does not yet know who the Doctor is!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: When he requests a voice interface from his TARDIS, it
presents him first with his own image. He rejects that, asking for the
image of someone he likes. Taken together with last season's Dream
Lord, this statement says a lot about the Doctor's inner emotional
state. He is then presented with the images of his recent companions:
Rose, Martha, and Donna. He rejects all of these images, each of them
filling him with guilt. Rose said of the 9th Doctor that he makes
people better than themselves. The 11th Doctor believes the opposite,
feeling that he's ruined everyone with whom he's come into contact.

Amy/Rory: Needing to attract the Doctor's attention, they do it by
going big. They create a crop circle spelling out the word "Doctor."
Sure enough, he comes - with a copy of a future news magazine in hand.
When the Tesselecta prepares to punish River, Amy thinks fast to stop
the miniaturized time travellers. Her solution recalls one of her most
notable qualities from Series Five: her ability to observe key details
and act on them very, very quickly.

River Song: This would be River's first meeting with the Doctor from
her perspective. This version of River is violent, vain, and self-
absorbed. These are all traits we have seen in her, to be sure. But
here those traits exist with no undercurrent of compassion or even
thought. When the Doctor, apparently dying, refuses to give up on
saving his companions even in great pain, his struggle impresses her.
We also find out who it was that taught River to fly the TARDIS,
paying off a line from last season's The Time of Angels as well as
recalling an earlier episode from this season.


THOUGHTS

Well, that was unexpected!

...and in so many ways. I had fully anticipated Let's Kill Hitler
being the second half of a story begun in A Good Man Goes to War.
Imagine my surprise when it rapidly became clear that this was an
entirely different story that happened to follow up on the ending of
its predecessor - a sequel, rather than a conclusion.

This is a Steven Moffat script, with many of the hallmarks. We get the
games with time that Moffat loves so much. A new "best friend" is
introduced for Rory and Amy, and flashbacks fill in their prior
relationship. Then there's a twist that ties that character into the
larger season arc. We get to see what is effectively River Song's
origin story, and it plays out very differently than I had expected.
Finally, we see the Doctor learn of his future death - which, once
again, happens very differently than I'd have expected it to.

All of the twists and turns come in the midst of a story that's
lightning-paced and downright bizarre, with miniature time travellers
controlling a human-like robot from inside the robot's body. The
security system? Antibodies, of course. And the control room is in the
brain. It's odd and funny, and more than a little mad.

Not a bad description of the episode, come to that. The title (not
surprisingly) is just there to grab attention. Hitler's barely in the
piece, and is treated like a joke by the Doctor and company. A gag
that's not in very good taste and isn't funny enough to make up for
it. But since it's really a very small part of the story, it's not
that hard a thing to get past.

In addition to structural games - and there's a terrific bit in which
we see how the Doctor has evaded multiple assassination attempts by
River, all without seeming to have done anything - the episode has
another Moffat hallmark: It's audacious. This is a big episode. It
follows up on the ending of A Good Man Goes to War. It gives us new
information about the Silence, and a new question along with it. It's
the episode in which the Doctor and River meet for the first time from
her perspective, and it's the episode in which the Doctor learns of
his eventual fate. In terms of the overall arc, this is every bit as
big an episode as A Good Man Goes to War.

Yet it feels much smaller, because Moffat has decided that if the last
episode was an action film, this one is a comedy. The gags come rapid-
fire from the teaser on. Physical comedy, verbal sparring, mild satire
- One comedy bit after another. It shouldn't work, and for some it
probably doesn't - Comedy in Who is always dicey, doubly so when a
"payoff episode" is played so broadly for laughs. But I have to admit,
I found myself laughing frequently while watching. It's not the
episode I really wanted for this slot. I had imagined something dark
and epic. Then again, A Good Man Goes to War filled that bill rather
thoroughly. So for the follow up, why not go to the opposite extreme?

I can't say that this is a great episode. The jokey tone isn't an
entirely comfortable fit with the big events, and there's a slight
feeling that this episode is meant to tie off emotional arcs that
should rightfully play out over the rest of the season. Certainly, the
final TARDIS scene seems to suggest that a messy situation is being
tied up just a bit too neatly.

Still, after a season that's been very dark, an episode this light is
actually something of a relief. Besides, I laughed, and didn't feel
like the episode was insulting my intelligence while making me laugh.
I'm not sure there's any better gauge of a comedy episode's success
than that.


Rating: 7/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

04/03/2012 9:28 PM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE GIRL WHO WAITED
>
>Rating: 7/10.
>

I rate this 9/10. This is a classic. Time intersecting.
Some of the best action and emotional tries.

--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

20/05/2012 6:36 PM

TIMELASH

2 episodes. Approx. 90 minutes. Written by: Glen McCoy. Directed by:
Pennant Roberts. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS's course is diverted by a Time Corridor, which brings it to
the planet Karfel. The Doctor has visited Karfel before, when his
interventioned saved the planet, and he expects to be greeted as a
welcome visitor.

Things have changed on Karfel. The planet is under the rule of the
Borad (Robert Ashby), a genius scientist who has diverted all the
planet's resources into his time research. The fruit of the research
is the Timelash, an unstable time corridor which acts as an execution
method for any who oppose the Borad's rule.

The Borad has targeted the Doctor to become the Timelash's next
victim. But for Peri, he has another fate in mind. She is to become
his unwilling bride!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: The early TARDIS scenes see Colin Baker at his worst.
Admittedly, these scenes are dreadful on the page. But instead of
trying to act against the Doctor's boorish behavior, Colin embraces it
- making him as unlikable as he's ever been! Once the Doctor and Peri
have reached Karfel, his performance improves tremendously. He shows
his softest and most compassionate side when interacting with Vena,
and is genuinely commanding when he and the rebels take control of the
Timelash in Part Two. Still, while there's no denying his enthusiasm,
this is almost certainly Colin's weakest television performance in the
role.

Peri: In bondage! Seriously - she spends a great deal of this story
being taken captive, tied up, recaptured, yanked around with a bondage
collar, attached by that collar to piping, and being menaced by a
monster that looks like a giant penis. Easily the character's weakest
story, though Nicola Bryant struggles gamely to invest some spark into
her rather pathetic material.


THOUGHTS

Timelash is one of a handful of serials often cited as "the worst
story ever!" It is certainly badly-made. It's glaringly obvious that
this is the season cheapie, as guest actors in cheap quasi-Roman
costumes wander around barely-adorned floodlit white stage sets. The
Timelash itself is, infamously, a bit of tinsel, with the inside of
the Timelash even more howlingly cheap-looking than the outside.
Doctor Who was always a series made on a shoestring, but most stories
worked to look as good possible within those limitations. This one
looks like something that should be accompanied by a Tom Servo/Crow T.
Robot commentary.

The story's single biggest problem isn't production, however. It's
padding. This is another Season 22 story in which the Doctor and Peri
don't get involved until more than halfway through the first 45-minute
episode. The solution? To pad out the first half of Episode One with
TARDIS scenes that are, if possible, even more painful than the ones
in Vengeance on Varos. First the Sixth Doctor acts like more of an ass
to Peri than he ever has before (even when he was insane and
strangling her), then he wrestles with messes of wires and uses safety
belts (but no chairs). Better to have just held the Doctor's
introduction until the point at which the story called for him.

The story structure is actually reasonable enough, with each major
story beat leading to the next. But it's clear early on that there
isn't enough plot here for 90 minutes... and the story runs out
completely a little over halfway through Episode Two. The Doctor
confronts and defeats the Borad at about the 27 minute mark, leaving
almost twenty full minutes to go. We then get an extended "comedy"
scene in which he takes the TARDIS to intercept a missile heading
toward Karfel, followed by a second climax in which the Borad comes
back to life so that the Doctor can defeat him all over again - in a
way that's much less dramatic than the first time around.

Given the shift to 45-minute episodes, I'm at a loss as to why this
wasn't streamlined into a one-parter. Cut the early TARDIS scenes,
make the Borad's first defeat the final one, and tighten some of the
scenes in between, and this would be an ideal single-part story. As it
stands, that last twenty minutes kills what had up to that point been
an entertaining (if badly made) yarn.

There are some bright spots. Paul Darrow, as the evil Tekker, manages
to be wooden and hammy at the same time. It's such a gleefully bad
performance, it gives the serial a considerable shot in the arm for
most of its run. Darrow is having so much fun chomping on the scenery
that it becomes infectious.

His performance is a perfect illustration of why I don't think
Timelash can rank among the series' worst: Namely, while it may be
objectively terrible, it's also rather fun. It's true that some of the
fun comes from laughing at the bad acting, sets, and general
cheapness. But the combination of execution that is bad enough to be
amusing and story structure that is competent enough to maintain
dramatic shape keeps this very watchable, putting it well above such
fare as Underworld, Time-Flight, or Time and the Rani, in my view.

So: Cheap, objectively bad, but kind of fun in spite (and in part
because) of that. If it weren't for the whole thing running out of gas
halfway through Part Two, this would probably be a solid "5." Even
with that dead space that is the last twenty minutes, I still find
Timelash to be a fair notch better than its reputation, even if it
isn't ultimately very good.


Rating: 4/10.

MV

"Max Vilmio"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

24/07/2012 11:33 PM

wrote in message
news:[email protected].googlegroups.com...

>my personal preferences - I loved the pure historicals of 1960's, and
>felt it was a great shame that the show stopped doing them so early in
>its run.

It's too bad they'll never be back.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/10/2012 8:26 PM

Next up are the second set of 9th Doctor reviews, made up of the
following:

Dalek
The Long Game
Father's Day.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

03/11/2012 5:56 PM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>FATHER'S DAY
>
>Rating: 8/10.
>

I would say 7/10 Myself. Hole plots includes
how did the Doctor disappear and return and what
were any repercussion of the creatures otherwise.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici doc[email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
USA petition to dissolve the Republic and vote to disoolve it in November 2012

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

14/12/2012 9:13 PM

THE NIGHTMARE OF BLACK ISLAND (BBC AUDIO)

2 episodes. Approx. 138 minutes. Written by: Mike Tucker. Produced by:
Kate Thomas. Read by: Anthony Head.


THE PLOT

Nightmares have come to life in the Welsh village of Ynys Du. Every
night, as soon as the children begin to sleep, the monsters come out -
hideous creations which stalk the woods and the coast near the disused
lighthouse on Black Island. The villagers shut themselves in their
homes or the local pub in each night, waiting for daylight to grant
them sanctuary.

Mutterings from the locals lead the Doctor and Rose to the private
nursing home of Nathaniel Morton, an old recluse who does not take
kindly to questions from strangers. Morton and his nurse, Peyne, bar
them from the home - but not before they get a glimpse of several
slumbering figures, all attached to machinery that is clearly alien.

As the night draws close, the monsters begin to emerge once more - and
with the plans of Peyne and Morton nearing completion, this may just
be the final night for Ynys Du!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Anthony Head does a terrific job of capturing the 10th
Doctor's enthusiasm, and he does it without compromising the Doctor's
inherent intelligence. His voice may not be anything like David
Tennant's, but he gets the intonations just right. This makes it very
easy to "hear" Tennant in the reader's line deliveries.

Rose: Head does a fantastic Rose, capturing her personality even
better than Tennant did in his three audio readings. The story is a
strong one for Rose, with writer Mike Tucker splitting her up from the
Doctor and giving her a strong role with a young companion of her own.
The bond Rose develops with Ali Hardy, a genuinely well-written child
character, is one of the freshest and most enjoyable parts of the
book.


THOUGHTS

The Nightmare of Black Island is one of many (too many) new series
audiobooks that feels like something straight out of the classic
series. Its setting, a sleepy Welsh fishing village with a nearby
lighthouse, with aliens hiding in the home of a wealthy recluse, would
fit right in with the Jon Pertwee/early Tom Baker period of the show.
With only the most minor touch-ups, you could replace a few character
names and seamlessly place this same book anywhere between Seasons 8
and 15. In fact, it feels more like something that belongs there than
with the new series.

It also happens to be a good story.

Mike Tucker's story may follow a familiar template, but he writes it
well. He takes the trouble to address the usual logic gaffes of such
tales. Why don't the villagers get help? Or take their families and
get out? It turns out there is an explanation which makes sense within
the story. The Doctor's psychic paper gets him into Morton's home
once... but when he clearly isn't acting the part, he doesn't get to
stay for long and doesn't fool anyone into thinking that he actually
is whoever the paper claims him to be.

Characterizations are above average for a Who novel, with well-drawn
backstories for critical guest characters. Nathaniel Morton's
background is largely delivered in one chunk of exposition. This could
be deadly - but the story infuses enough emotion into it that it
becomes arguably the best scene in the book, transforming a one-note
villain into a fully formed character. Bronwyn, a local eccentric who
helps the Doctor, has a backstory that is revealed in more gradual
bits and pieces. Her story is also infused with emotion, and linked to
Morton's in a way that lifts both characters' tales.

A well-written book, seamlessly abridged for audio and given a
terrific reading by Anthony Head. It's not in the top ranks of the new
series Who books, its formulaic storytelling and over-easy resolution
working against its best elements. Still, it's well above average for
the range. Well worth a listen.


Overall Rating: 7/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

14/01/2013 9:42 PM

Before I cycle back to Hartnell, I'm going to do a brief 11th Doctor
set. Stories to be reviewed:

Blackout (BBC Audio)
The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe


Commencing with the first review...



BLACKOUT (BBC AUDIO)

1 episode. Approx. 77 minutes. Written by: Oli Smith. Produced by:
Alec Reid. Read by: Stuart Milligan.


THE PLOT

A man walks into a psychiatrist's office...

Chet, a New York city taxi driver who dreams of writing the Great
American Novel, has been having disturbing dreams. Dreams in which he
is abducted by aliens for unspeakable experiments. He has gone to a
psychiatrist to try to get a handle on these visions. But the man who
waits in the doctor's office tells him that the dreams are real. Chet
truly was abducted by aliens, and now this strange Doctor needs his
help.

It is New York City, November 9, 1965. The date of the Great Northeast
Blackout, the largest blackout in American history. Though history has
it that the blackout was caused when a transmission line near Niagara
Falls tripped, the Doctor is about to learn that the actual cause was
aliens - the very beings who abducted Chet. These aliens have put a
drug into the New York water supply, a poison which causes the body to
experience extreme heat, eventually resulting in death.

For the Doctor, it's a particularly desperate situation. He, Amy, and
Rory took the train to New York, leaving the TARDIS in another state.
If the Doctor can't improvise a solution, then he and his friends will
die within the hour - along with the entire population of New York
City!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: As was hinted at in the Fifth Doctor's regeneration story,
he can hold back his own death if he puts all his focus into doing so,
though it takes all of his considerable will. He feels anger about
what the aliens are doing to the people of New York, but is still
easily distracted by the fun of using a classic car to generate static
for his generator. He has an innate authority which, combined with his
psychic paper, makes the crowd of people in Times Square easily accept
him as someone to be listened to.

Amy/Rory: Are largely consigned to the "generic companion" roles for
this story, being chased by aliens to allow for some activity while
the Doctor spends about half the story building a generator. There are
a few nice moments, such as Rory reminding Amy to "mirror, signal,
manoeuvre," when she finds a vehicle for them to drive and Amy's
general protectiveness of Rory... but overall, this is a very weak
story for the companions.


THOUGHTS

Blackout opens superbly. It has a catchy teaser that is both amusing
and intriguing, leading us into the theme music with a laugh on our
lips and interest piqued. Based on this opening, I perked up and
expected to end up writing an enthusiastic review.

This initial impression carried me through the first third or so of
the story. Unfortunately, as the tale goes along, it becomes
increasingly clear that writer Oli Smith just doesn't have enough
story to fill the CD.

The middle is particularly weak, as the narrative basically marks time
until the climax. The Doctor reaches Times Square and spends most of
the rest of the story constructing a Magic Gizmo. Amy and Rory are
chased around New York by an alien whose motive for chasing them is
that their defense against an attack caused it to become infected...
But given that the story explicitly tells us that the aliens have a
cure, it seems bizarre that this individual wouldn't just go back to
his ship to get cured. Basically, both strands exist only for the sake
of a few tepid set pieces, and that becomes painfully clear all too
soon.

It's frustrating how little-used the story's setting is. One of my
reasons for picking up this particular audio was the potential I saw
in setting a Doctor Who story against the Great Northeast Blackout.
It's an inherently atmospheric backdrop, and memorable scenes and
interactions could easily be created for this - some drawn from
history and/or urban myths about the blackout that are already well-
known.

None of this potential is tapped. The historical facts about the
blackout aren't even mentioned in the audio, not even an aside by the
Doctor about the reported cause, the extent of the power outage, and
what it led to. Instead, the outage is just a generic backdrop, hardly
painted as something that threw millions of lives into disarray for 13
hours. New York City itself is just a generic city and, but for the
names of a few landmarks and the accent of the reader, might as well
be London. No guest characters particularly stand out, not even Chet,
the Doctor's "substitute companion" for the story. It's all
absolutely, depressingly generic.

Though it's odd to hear an American accented reading of a Doctor Who
story, I actually think that Stuart Milligan does a solid job. His
Doctor is pretty good, capturing quite a lot of Matt Smith's vocal
tics - though he seemingly can't do the accent and the performance at
the same time, leaving this most enthusiastic of Doctors feeling oddly
subdued and detached. His Amy and Rory are much weaker, but since they
are so blandly characterized by the story it's hard to feel too
letdown. While I would be wary about purchasing another audio written
by Oli Smith, I would be perfectly willing to listen to another read
by Stuart Milligan.

On the whole, one of the more disappointing Who audio books I've
listened to. Not recommended.


Overall Rating: 3/10.

sp

solar penguin

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 3:11 PM

[email protected] wrote:

> Well, I don't think we'll be in agreement too often anytime Tom Baker
> comes up in my rotation. I find Tom actively irritating when he tries
> too hard to "be funny," and find him far more effective when he's
> serious. I will say that I think Hinchcliffe gets over-venerated
> sometimes, to the point where it can feel as though "Hinchcliffe Who"
> is immune from criticism - though I think that's actually faded a bit
> since the New Series (somewhat surprisingly) DIDN'T use Hinchcliffe as
> a template, save for the odd story or two.

Maybe I was a bit over-harsh in my comments. It's just I find horror
stories so gloomy and depressing and, worse, so stupid which is the
worst thing a story can be. I hate this this time of year, with all
the Halloween stuff around, and I over-reacted by venting all my anger
on you. I'm sorry.

So, in an effort to find something good and positive about
"Pyramids"... at least it doesn't have River Song in it! And despite
the horror influence, there are no vampires, which is nice.

Te

"Tahi"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

06/11/2011 8:11 AM

> OK, Sarah Jane's a bit grumpier here than
> she usually was on television... but maybe she isn't too fond of
> circuses.
>
If you have seen the Sarah Jane Adventures (I've forgotten the episode
name ) you would remember that she really, really, doesn't like clowns!

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

24/11/2011 4:57 PM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE VISITATION
>
>4 episodes. Approx. 96 minutes. Written by: Eric Saward. Directed by:
>Peter Moffat. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.
>
>
>Rating: 5/10.
>

I would say 7/10. This did give us a new villain.
Also gave usthe Great Fire of London.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy New Year 2012 !

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

10/12/2011 1:51 PM

On Dec 10, 4:20 am, John Hall <[email protected]> wrote:
> In article
> <[email protected]m>,
>
> "[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
> >Adric: He is described as "trunculent,"
>
> Really? That makes me smile. Or was it your own typo?
>
> Thanks for the review, which as always was interesting.
> --
> John Hall
> "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism
> by those who have not got it."
> George Bernard Shaw


Ah. Just a typo, I'm afraid. Glad it was good for a laugh, though! :)

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/03/2012 9:06 PM

On Mar 12, 12:20 pm, John Hall <[email protected]> wrote:
> In article
> <[email protected]m>, "[email protected]" <[email protected]> writes:
>
> <snip>
>
> >Regardless, the failure of the finale or any other point in the season
> >to address what I still believe were deliberate holes in the premiere
> >is the one failing of this episode, and the one reason why I'm not
> >ultimately awarding it full marks.
>
> Knowing Moffat, I wouldn't be surprised if he has plans for filling in
> those holes during the next series. There's nothing that says that a
> plot arc can't stretch over more than one series.


I'd love to have that end up being the case. It still wouldn't quite
raise this episode to a "10" for me, but it would at least answer the
niggling feeling I have that the season arc may have gotten just a
little bit away from him.

Either way, I do think Series Six was a good season overall. A bit
uneven, but that's par for the course for "Who" - great stories have
always sat side-by-side with weak ones. It was certainly an ambitious
year. All told, I liked Series Five better. But I appreciate the
ambition of Series Six, and I think it succeeded a lot more than not.

ZJ

Zebee Johnstone

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

22/07/2012 9:26 AM

In rec.arts.drwho.moderated on Sat, 21 Jul 2012 19:46:48 -0400
The Doctor <[email protected]> wrote:
> IMHO Fires of Pompeii and Fires of Vulcan should be similar.
>
> After all they address Pompeii in 79 AD .

That assumes you can only tell one story using Pompeii.

The writers aren't telling the story of Pompeii, they are using it as a
vehicle to tell the story they want to tell.

Zebee

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

28/10/2012 8:23 PM

THE WITCH FROM THE WELL (BF AUDIO)

4 episodes. Approx. 110 minutes. Written by: Rick Briggs. Directed by:
Barnaby Edwards. Produced by: David Richardson.


THE PLOT

An excavation at the village of Trenchard's Fell uncovers a well,
blocked by stone and left undisturbed for centuries. Naturally, the
workers remove the stone - and in so doing, free a witch who proceeds
to butcher them all within minutes.

Twins Lucern (Kevin Trainor) and Finicia (Alix Wilton Regan), the
children of the village squire, have witnessed this massacre and
appear destined to be among the victims - until the Doctor and Mary
rescue them. The Doctor insists there are no witches, and that they
are dealing with an alien life form. He sets the TARDIS controls for
the 17th century to investigate the origin of the creature.

But there is more to Lucern and Finicia than meets the eye. Thanks to
the twins' interference, the Doctor and Mary soon find themselves
separated by centuries - Mary, evading the witch in 21st century
Trenchard's Fell; the Doctor, probing the secrets of the 17th century
village. But the Doctor's search for answers will meet a deadly
barrier in the form of Master John Kincaid (Simon Rouse), the infamous
Witch-Pricker!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: The Silver Turk saw the Doctor focused on destroying an
alien being, so it is a good decision here to show his more
compassionate side. From the very beginning, he refuses to judge the
aliens as monsters. Determining that they are trapped on Earth, he
focuses on helping, not destroying. This trait is shown particularly
strongly in Part Two, when he discovers a dying creature trapped on
the alien spaceship. Unable to free it, he insists on staying until it
dies: "I'll stay with you as long as it takes. You won't die alone."

Mary: Spends the bulk of the story separated from the Doctor, running
about the 21st century Trenchard's Folly with the hapless Aleister
Portillon (Andrew Havill). Though her function in the story is very
much that of "generic companion," writer Rick Briggs has woven in a
lot of material from his research on the historical Mary Shelley.
Particularly amusing is her reaction to Aleister's worship of Lord
Byron and his scorn of Byron's contemporaries (including her). She
deals effectively with the "witch" in the modern setting, even as the
Doctor deals with the witch-pricker in the distant past. Julie Cox
continues to impress, and I hope that the remaining story of this Big
Finish "season" does not end up being the last we hear of her version
of Mary Shelley.


THOUGHTS

Most Big Finish "seasons" have a traditional runaround in the middle,
with more ambitious stories on either side of it. The 8th Doctor/Mary
Shelley season seems to be following the pattern, with Marc Platt's
atmospheric The Silver Turk followed by this more traditional pseudo-
historical.

Thankfully, The Witch from the Well is not just a tedious retread of
what some audio writer thinks the show would have aired in 1976 (as
too often ends up being the case). Writer Rick Briggs, who previously
penned a clever single-part story for the Demons of Red Lodge
collection, continues to show structural ingenuity. Separating Mary
and the Doctor in time but not in space allows both characters scenes
in which to shine. And by giving each character one side of the story
to investigate, the Doctor the beginning and Mary the ending, we get
to see how the Doctor's actions may impact on Mary's predicament.

Briggs' script juggles the two strands effectively. The 17th century
scenes are the primary focus, with Mary's adventures in the modern day
being clearly secondary. The cutting between the two strands is done
with care. We cut back to Mary often enough to keep her story alive,
but at well-judged points so that her scenes don't interrupt the flow
of the Doctor's story. Her scenes also tend to be shorter than the
Doctor's, which means that her bits never keep us away from the main
story for long enough to lose track of the plot.

This is a good thing, because the scenes in the past are much more
effective than the ones in the modern day. 17th century Trenchard's
Fell is a much better-developed setting, with several strong guest
characters. Simon Rouse's Witch-Pricker is the most memorable of
these. He's clearly villainous, lacking any compassion for any
individual in the village. The Doctor reacts to him with all the
disdain you would expect, in scenes that see Paul McGann in
particularly good form - but in a nice turn, we discover that he is
actually genuine in his belief in his work, even if he goes about his
gruesome business with one eye on his Bible and the other on his own
ambitions.

The Witch from the Well is a good, entertaining yarn, one which
manages to avoid the curse of the "dull middle story" that has plagued
so many Big Finish trilogies. It's largely pretty traditional, with
superstitious villagers and aliens who are taken for supernatural
beings. But it's presented in a way that feels fresh and clever, with
solid performances from the entire cast and a satisfying resolution.
Another good story, in a set of stories that I'm finding immensely
enjoyable.


Rating: 7/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

03/11/2012 3:39 PM

FATHER'S DAY

1 episode. Approx. 43 minutes. Written by: Paul Cornell. Directed by:
Joe Ahearne. Produced by: Phil Collinson.


THE PLOT

Pete Tyler (Shaun Dingwall), Rose's father, was killed by a hit-and-
run driver in 1987. Rose begs the Doctor to take her to 1987, so that
she can be with him when he dies. "He can't die alone," she pleads.
Despite his misgivings, the Doctor agrees - only to watch in horror as
Rose sprints out into the street and pushes her father out of the path
of the oncoming car.

"There's a man alive who wasn't before... That's the most impotant
thing in the world!" The Doctor recognizes the significance of what
Rose has done. When he storms back to the TARDIS in anger, unlocks the
door, and discovers that the inside has become na empty box - At that
point, his worst fears are confirmed. Rose's actions have damaged
time. Now the Reapers are coming to clean the wound... by destroying
all life on Earth!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Somewhat ironically for a story in which he spends much of
the running time furious with his companion, this is overall the
gentlest characterization the prickly 9th Doctor has yet received. For
all his anger at Rose, he still instinctively wants to protect her. He
may snap at her, but he has no intention of allowing Pete to die
again, even though he realizes that his death would end the Reapers'
rampage. He also shows genuine compassion for the young couple whose
church wedding becomes the site of the final standoff. When the bride
asks if he can save them, he surveys this very ordinary young couple,
asks a few personal questions, then gives them a warm smile as he
assures them that he will do everything he can to get them out alive.

Rose: Has built her father up in her mind to a degree that insures
that the real man will disappoint. "I thought he'd be taller," she
says upon seeing him in person for the first time. No doubt the
Imaginary Pete in her mind towered above all others. Why not? In the
stories told by her mother, Pete is nearly perfect, clever and
creative and "the most wonderful man in the world." The real Pete is
not a bad man by any means, but he is ordinary: His so-called
inventions are largely junk destined to go nowhere, and he has no
problem with flirting with other women (and possibly more than just
flirting) despite his marriage. When Rose describes him as the perfect
father, Pete listens, then sadly admits, "That's just not me."


THOUGHTS

"I'll get it right, love. One day soon, I promise you, I'll get it
right."
-Peter Alan Tyler, on the last day of his life

Father's Day is very well-placed in the season. The Long Game ends
with a would-be companion booted from the TARDIS for misusing time
travel for his own gain. That is fresh in the viewer's mind as Rose
does the same thing for different reasons, and therefore there's at
least a doubt as to whether the Doctor does truly mean to leave her at
this point. It's not a serious doubt - we'll always forgive those we
love a lot more than those we barely tolerate - but even the slight
doubt wouldn't exist if this had been placed any earlier in the
season.

The episode highlights one of the largest divisions between the old
series and the new: Emotion. Classic Who was rarely driven by emotion.
The stories were external threats, almost invariably faced down by the
regulars with courage and resourcefulness. Any emotional material had
to squeeze itself around the plot.

This story is driven by emotion. There is no external threat, not
until Rose's impulsive actions bring a threat into being. Even then,
when the Reapers surround the church leaving the survivors under
siege, they are not the story's focus: Rose and her father are. Just
as Rose brings the Reapers down by saving her father, the Reapers are
driven away by her father saving her and everyone else. Their two acts
- one instinctive, the other thought out - bookend the threat, with
both deeds based on their relationship as father and daughter.

Paul Cornell's script is manipulative, brazenly so. It's a good
script, though: tightly structured, with no real fat at any point, and
populated by characters who feel authentic. Pete is as flawed as his
marriage to Jackie, which makes him feel real, and makes their
marriage feel real. All of this makes the viewer's connection to him
and to them so much stronger than might have been. The writer's heavy
hand may be very evident, particularly near the end, but that doesn't
stop it from packing a wallop.


Rating: 8/10.

dT

doc[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

07/12/2012 4:15 PM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE IDIOT'S LANTERN
>
>Overall Rating: 5/10.
>

I say 7/10 . TV sets were expensive at the time.

Only and alien would get you to cheapen the sets.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k Merry Christmas 2012 and Happy New Year 2013

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

23/10/2011 11:44 PM

On Oct 15, 4:28 pm, "Tahi" <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> Thanks for that. I had not realised you were posting your reviews eslewhere
> as well. I always found Pyramids of Mars one of the truly memorable stories,
> so I shall look forward to seeing if you think it has stood the test of
> time.

Short answer: It does.

Long answer at the following link:

http://jphalt-doc4.blogspot.com/2010/10/82-139-1312-pyramids-of-mars.html

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

29/10/2011 12:06 PM

On Oct 29, 7:14 am, solar penguin <[email protected]> wrote:
> [email protected] wrote:
> > On Oct 15, 4:28 pm, "Tahi" <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> > > Thanks for that. I had not realised you were posting your reviews eslewhere
> > > as well. I always found Pyramids of Mars one of the truly memorable stories,
> > > so I shall look forward to seeing if you think it has stood the test of
> > > time.
>
> > Short answer: It does.
>
> > Long answer at the following link:
>
> >http://jphalt-doc4.blogspot.com/2010/10/82-139-1312-pyramids-of-mars....
>
> Wrong, wrong, wrong.
>
> This story is typical stupid Hincliffe-era gothic horror shit. And,
> like anything associated with horror, it is stupid and pointless.
>
> Where's the comedy? Where's the silly, light-hearted fluffiness?
> Where's everything that good Saturday evening entertainment should be?
>
> Nowhere!
>
> Far from everything coming together just right, this is a production
> (and arguably, an entire producership) that gets everything wrong from
> the concept downwards, and the end result is something that's as drab
> and worthless and depressing as any horror film.
>
> Thankfully, Williams would eventually come along and redeem the Tom
> Baker years. But at this point, that was still a long way in the
> future.


Well, I don't think we'll be in agreement too often anytime Tom Baker
comes up in my rotation. I find Tom actively irritating when he tries
too hard to "be funny," and find him far more effective when he's
serious. I will say that I think Hinchcliffe gets over-venerated
sometimes, to the point where it can feel as though "Hinchcliffe Who"
is immune from criticism - though I think that's actually faded a bit
since the New Series (somewhat surprisingly) DIDN'T use Hinchcliffe as
a template, save for the odd story or two.

It's not my favorite producership. The stories are too unvaried, and
when I watched the whole series in order several years back, it
created a bit of a numbing effect when every story was so much like
the ones around it. But I do think Tom's largely at his best in the
Hinchcliffe seasons, while I'm afraid I find him to be at his worst
during the Graham Williams years.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

31/10/2011 9:39 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>SHORT TRIPS: CHAIN REACTION
>
>
>Rating: 7/10.
>

Great stuff. You see I told you you can do it!
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God, Queen and country! Never Satan President Republic! Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
Ontario, Nfld, and Manitoba boot the extremists out and vote Liberal!

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

05/11/2011 1:11 PM

SHORT TRIPS: THE WONDROUS BOX

1 episode. Approx. 18 minutes. Written by: Juliet Boyd. Directed by:
Nicholas Briggs, Ken Bentley. Produced by: Nicholas Briggs, Jason
Haigh-Ellery. Performed by: Louise Jameson.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS materializes in the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1885. For the
Doctor, this is a wonderful stroke of luck - a chance to kick back and
enjoy the show while taking in living history at the same time. Sarah
Jane is less enthusiastic, but largely goes along to keep from
disrupting the Doctor's good mood.

Unfortunately, their arrival was observed. Benjamin, a low-level
circus worker, saw the TARDIS materialize. Entranced by the thought of
selling such a marvel to P. T. Barnum, he and a circus clown hatch a
plan to gain access to the blue box. The results will go down in
history...


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: The Fourth Doctor's more childlike qualities are on
display here, as he reacts with joy at the prospect of enjoying some
down time at P. T. Barnum's famous circus. He reacts to Jumbo the
elephant with genuine awe, laughs hysterically at the antics of the
clowns... and studiously ignores Sarah Jane's concerns until he
reaches into his pocket and physically recognizes that his TARDIS key
is missing.

Sarah Jane Smith: Is very much in her role as the Doctor's anchor. As
we've seen in the television stories, Sarah Jane has far more empathy
than the Fourth Doctor does. She finds it cruel to put "freaks" on
display in the circus, something the Doctor dismisses as simply being
in keeping with the time and place. She is also more pragmatic. The
Doctor is carried away by being at the circus, but Sarah Jane doesn't
surrender her instincts. She recognizes something is "off" about the
clown who comes up to tickle the Doctor. When she hears the TARDIS
move, she won't let the Doctor ignore it, pestering him until he
checks for his key.


THOUGHTS

While Chain Reaction was more of a fun sketch, The Wondrous Box is an
attempt to tell a proper (if minor) 20 minute Doctor Who story. It's
not a bad one, either. Writer Juliet Boyd does a good job of capturing
the characters of the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane. It's easy to
visualize both, because both characters feel very much in keeping with
their television personas. OK, Sarah Jane's a bit grumpier here than
she usually was on television... but maybe she isn't too fond of
circuses.

It's an entertaining diversion, ideal for helping either a walk or a
drive to go by just a little bit faster. The script even manages to
sketch some added dimension to its two guest characters: Benjamin and
the clown. There's a brief scene from the clown's viewpoint, in which
he resigns himself to Benjamin's bossiness and takes advantage of a
few minutes' respite to take a nap. It's a tiny moment, entirely
unnecessary to the story - but it hints at a partnership between these
two that has extended back well before this story, and will extend
well beyond it, making these two supporting players feel much more
real in the process.

As with most "Short Trips," however, it does come across as a bit
insubstantial. The direction of the story is very obvious very fast,
leaving it an exercise in preditability. The period detail is
adequate, but it lacks texture. There's little sense of the life of
the circus or of the community in which it's performing. That bit of
extra life given to Benjamin and the clown? No real trace of that is
given to the setting, leaving it existing solely to fuel the story.

It's an above-average "Short Trip," don't mistake me on that. But only
just above-average, and largely on the strength of the
characterizations. It's a limitation of the format, I think. Barring
the odd, outstanding piece, the extremely limited format is better
suited to showing a single scene or reaction than it is to actually
trying to tell a full story.


Rating: 6/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

24/11/2011 4:12 PM

THE VISITATION

4 episodes. Approx. 96 minutes. Written by: Eric Saward. Directed by:
Peter Moffat. Produced by: John Nathan Turner.


THE PLOT

The Doctor's attempt to return Tegan to her own time fails miserably.
He reaches the right place, but the wrong time - missing his
destination by about 300 years, materializing the TARDIS in a wooded
area near a quiet English village, circa 1666.

Before they get a chance to simply leave and try again, they find
themselves the target of a mob of paranoid villagers. They are rescued
by actor-turned-highwayman Richard Mace (Michael Robbins), who tells
them of strange lights in the sky. That's when the Doctor discovers
alien technology. The lights were a ship, crash landing. Now the
survivors of the ship, members of a species known as the Terrileptils,
plan to wipe out all life on Earth. And far from proving an
impediment, the Doctor's arrival actually helps their plans - because
it gives them access to his TARDIS!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: Though I'm no fan of writer/script editor Eric Saward, I
will give credit where it's due. In his first serial for Doctor Who,
he gets the Doctor right. We see a Doctor who is temperamental. When
Tegan has a minor meltdown at his failure to return her to Heathrow
Airport, the Doctor is not inclined to forgive her - at least, not
until Nyssa and Adric press him to. He does play favorites with his
young charges, clearly preferring Nyssa's company to the other two,
and equally clearly finding Tegan the least agreeable of the trio.
When the alien technology is found in Episode One, he becomes
instantly transfixed on the thought of alien survivors in this
village. But he only explains why to Nyssa, not pausing to explain
himself to the others. Davison remains terrific, and seems energized
by the character beats in the script.

Nyssa: After largely sitting out the previous story, The Visitation
gives Nyssa a larger role in the proceedings. She acts as the Doctor's
most reliable support, with the first two episodes seeing him treating
her almost as an apprentice. He keeps her with him when he enters the
deserted house, insisting that his other companions wait for them
outside. Upon discovering some Terileptil technology, he snaps at
Tegan and Adric to touch nothing; then he and Nyssa take a closer look
and exchange observations. Though Nyssa is less than pleased at the
Doctor's plan to "improvise with an armed android," she ends up being
the one to carry out his plan - which ends up working very well when
she finds herself in close quarters with the android.

Adric: Senses Tegan's dislike of him, and there's an amusing early
beat when the Doctor tries to evade the issue by very awkwardly
reaching out to touch Adric's shoulder. He behaves impulsively at
several turns, ignoring Nyssa's very reasonable arguments to stay in
the TARDIS and promptly getting himself captured by villagers. His
headstrong nature does help the Doctor near the end, however, when his
need to act by moving the TARDIS overcomes the Terrileptils' attempts
to seal the Doctor and Tegan inside the house.

Tegan: Though her opening meltdown seems a particularly unwarranted
"stroppy Tegan" moment, the script does at least provide some context.
We first see her recalling what happened to her with the Mara,
grappling with the idea of her body being taken over by this creature.
In this way, we are shown that she is already in an emotional state
when confronted with the disappointment of the TARDIS' missed landing.
The rest of the serial sees her being barely tolerated by the Doctor,
who clearly prefers Nyssa's company. However, her emotional nature
does make a good contrast to her companions' more clinical responses,
and she's the only one who seems genuinely appalled at the aliens'
plans.


THOUGHTS

The Visitation is a noteworthy story, in that it was the first
contribution of Eric Saward. Saward clinched the post as script editor
on the strength of this story, apparently largely because it was a
rare script that did not require any significant rewrites.

I've already given Saward credit for his characterization of the
regulars, particularly the Doctor. And I will admit that showing
understanding of the characters is a significant quality. Add to that,
The Visitation is well-structured, with each episode building on the
information established in the one before.

Unfortunately, it is also the very definition of a bog-standard
average Who story.

This is my third viewing of it, and my reaction remains unchanged. As
I sit in front of the screen, viewing it episode by episode, it isn't
long before I find myself getting just a bit sleepy. There's an awful
lot of tromping back and forth between the house and the TARDIS, the
TARDIS and the village, the village and the house, making the pace
feel very leisurely, even downright sluggish. The final episode
manages to eke out some momentum - but even then, there's no sense of
urgency. It feels very much as if Saward had enough plot for a 2-
parter, and then just stretched it out until he reached 4 parts.

That said, decent direction would have overcome a lot of the problems
here. This story cries out for a bit of atmosphere: some clouds, some
fog, some darkness. Instead, the Doctor and his friends tromp around a
very pleasant-looking bit of woods on a very clear and pleasant day
(and usually do so in long shot). Peter Moffatt's stagy direction is
just ill-suited to this kind of piece. Fiona Cumming, Peter Grimwade,
or even John Black would have gotten much more out of this. Moffatt
appears to be afraid of the close-up, and keeping distance from the
characters puts the audience at a distance from the action as well.

I emphasize that this story isn't at all bad. It all hangs together
and is perfectly watchable, and it does get better as it goes. It also
has a terrific performance by Peter Davison, who is firmly the Doctor
by this point, and an engagingly campy one by Michael Robbins as a
theatrical actor-turned-highwayman. But with no spark of inspiration,
a sluggish pace, and outright lifeless direction, it's hard to see how
this ever gained such a high reputation. I enjoyed all three of
Davison's previous stories considerably more than this one (yes, even
Four to Doomsday).

As for Saward? Well, on the strength of this story's characterization
and structure, I would certainly have re-commissioned him for another
story. But with the lack of inspiration on display here, it wouldn't
even have crossed my mind to make him the series' script editor...


Rating: 5/10.

jj

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

10/12/2011 3:08 AM

THE DARKENING EYE (BF AUDIO)

2 episodes. Approx. 68 minutes. Written by: Stewart Sheargold.
Directed by: Ken Bentley. Produced by: David Richardson. Performed by:
Sarah Sutton.


THE PLOT

The TARDIS materializes on a destroyed ship that's barely holding
together in the wake of a devastating space battle. The Doctor insists
on investigating a nearby anomaly; against his wishes, his companions
insist on accompanying him into the unstable wreckage. This proves to
be unwise. They have only begun to search the ship when some debris
cuts through the hull. The Doctor is on one side of the breach, while
Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric are on the other.

The Doctor motions for them to stay put while he uses the TARDIS to
recover them. But the ship is starting to break up. That's when the
Death Collectors come for them. The Dar Traders (Derek Carlyle) are
scavengers, drawn to death by a desire to understand it. They have
come to this battlefield, to this ship. They use their technology to
transport the Doctor's companions to their own vessel. There, the time
travellers discover a cabinet recently scavenged by the Dar Traders.
It's made out of dwarf star alloy, and is the source of the anomaly
the Doctor had detected. It is also the personal life support of
Damasin Hyde, an assassin who may just have business of his own with
the Doctor!


CHARACTERS

The Doctor: This is essentially a "Doctor-lite" story, with the Doctor
appearing only in the first half of Part One and the last ten minutes
or so of Part Two. The story does reinforce what was shown on-screen
in The Visitation and Black Orchid - that the Doctor has a bond with
Nyssa that isn't necessarily there with his other two companions. This
is particularly evident at the story's end, as the Doctor talks with
Nyssa about what has happened.

Nyssa: Takes charge in the Doctor's absence. When the Dar Traders
insist on "cataloging" the time travelers, to verify them as alive and
not dead, Nyssa volunteers to go first. She endures the painful
process without complaint, then shields Tegan and Adric from having to
undergo the same treatment. Despite assuming the role of de-facto
leader, she becomes too trusting of Damasin far too quickly... which
actually makes sense. Remember, she had always had her father to look
out for her. When her father was gone, she moved immediately on to the
Doctor. There has always been a "father figure." Now, with the Doctor
temporarily gone as well, another older male authority figure appears.
It's hardly surprising that she goes along with it. Her anger when
her trust is betrayed is quite well-portrayed both by writer Stewart
Sheargold and by Sarah Sutton.

Adric: He is described as "trunculent," and often comes across as
arrogant and condescending, particularly to Tegan. His fascination
with the Dar Traders' technology overrides his common sense, as he
shows no sign of caution when exploring their ship. His recklessness
is suitably punished. The Episode One cliffhanger sees Adric stabbed
in the chest - a scene that would likely be a fan favorite had this
actually been a televised story!

Tegan: Of the three companions, she is the one who's completely out-of-
her-depth dealing with the Dar Traders and their technology. Still,
she refuses to be excluded when Nyssa and Adric are observing and
discussing what's in front of them. She does have a genuinely quick
mind, drawing on what she's already seen with the Doctor to connect
the dots and identify the machine made of dwarf star alloy as a
"dimensional anomaly." Though Sarah Sutton does little to capture the
voices of either the Doctor or Adric, her reading is startlingly dead-
on when she delivers Tegan's lines. The hint of an Australian accent
in her delivery brings Tegan to life in a way that Sutton can't quite
manage with the other regulars.


THOUGHTS

The Darkening Eye was the first Companion Chronicle to feature a
Doctor who was already performing full-cast plays for Big Finish. As
such, my immediate reaction when it was announced was that this was a
wasted slot. We had plenty of Fifth Doctor stories coming already, via
the main range. What I wanted from the Companion Chronicles were more
stories from the early Doctors!

Well, I was wrong. For one thing, the Companion Chronicles format even
now remains the only viable way for Big Finish to deliver stories set
during Season 19, given that Matthew Waterhouse has expressed no
interest in playing Adric again. But the format also allows us a story
that gets inside Nyssa's head. As one of the most introverted
companions in the series run, really getting to see what she's
thinking and feeling in more than postcard glimpses is a rarity.

More importantly, The Darkening Eye is a good story. It's well-made
and atmospheric, with several highly visual moments. The Dar Traders'
ship, stuffed with remains of the dead, all being used in different
ways is like something out of a horror movie. Then Episode Two moves
to a war-torn planet, with smoke from recent or distant battles a
constant. Stewart Sheargold uses the luxury of complete narration to
create vivid mental images, in a way that music and sound effects can
only hint at with the main range releases.

Death hangs over this story, almost an extra character in itself.
Everything in the story connects to it: The ruined spaceship, with no
survivors. The Dar Traders' corpse-laden vessel. The assassin. The war-
torn planet, in which all we really see of the battles are the smoke,
the dead, or the dangerously feral survivors. The tone is bleak
throughout - something which I suspect will make this story one that's
"not for all tastes." It is unquestionably ambitious, however, and
most of that ambition is realized.

Sarah Sutton's reading is mostly quite good. Her voice is well-pitched
to convey the grim atmosphere of this story, and she is able to show
both Nyssa's constantly working mind and the pain which she keeps as
tightly buried as she can. She does well not only with Nyssa, but also
with Tegan and Damasin. She is less successful with the two male
regulars. She is unable to vary her pitch when delivering the Doctor's
lines or Adric's lines. As a result, there are a few occasions in
which I was temporarily confused as to which character was speaking.
It's really not too significant an issue - but it does jerk me out of
the story in a couple of places, and perhaps shows one reason why
Sutton has only performed one Companion Chronicle to date.

Still a good story, one that fits quite neatly into its continuity
placement in late Season 19.


Rating: 8/10.

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

12/03/2012 10:03 AM

In article <[email protected]m>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>THE WEDDING OF RIVER SONG
>
>1 episode. Approx. 45 minutes. Written by: Steven Moffat. Directed by:
>Jeremy Webb. Produced by: Marcus Wilson.
>
>Rating: 9/10.
>

This is one of the best. It answers quite a bit and the Doctor finds
an escape . Very brilliant!!
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
https://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

05/05/2012 8:34 AM

In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>DAVROS (BF Audio)
>
>
>Rating: 10/10.
>

Looks interesting. And Wendy Padbury is back. Worth a look.
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
That church which changes with the times cannot also be abiding in Christ

JH

John Hall

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

11/06/2012 5:13 PM

In article <[email protected]>,
The Doctor <[email protected]> writes:
>In article <[email protected]>,
>[email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
>>
>>REVELATION OF THE DALEKS
>>
>>Rating: 10/10.
>
>Agreed!! THe all time classic. You are
>correct about the 18-month hiatus.

Strangely, I don't remember that story at all. I wonder if I could have
been away on holiday at the time.
--
John Hall
Johnson: "Well, we had a good talk."
Boswell: "Yes, Sir, you tossed and gored several persons."
Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-84); James Boswell (1740-95)

dT

[email protected] (The Doctor)

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

21/07/2012 7:46 PM

IMHO Fires of Pompeii and Fires of Vulcan should be similar.

After all they address Pompeii in 79 AD .
--
Member - Liberal International This is [email protected] Ici [email protected]
God,Queen and country!Never Satan President Republic!Beware AntiChrist rising!
http://www.fullyfollow.me/rootnl2k
That church which changes with the times cannot also be abiding in Christ

BC

"Bok C"

in reply to "[email protected]" on 11/10/2011 1:42 AM

30/10/2012 8:10 PM

"The Doctor" wrote:

> Dalek 8/10 ? Are you kidding me?

People don't kid others here in this newsgroup.
At least, they better not be. For it is verboten!

> Dalek get 'emotional' and then self-destrcuts for being impure.

Daleks get emotional all the time! They're creatures of emotion. As for
the self-destruction, that was probably a ruse (or a trick, a some people
would say), so that Dalek could escape, and later become the Emperor in the
finale.

> 4/10!

Perhaps you need to reevaluate this one?
Don't be so grumpy!


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