Sunday, 30 December 2012

Countdown to Doctor Who at 50: The Eleventh Doctor

As we are now just a DAY away from entering the year of Doctor Who's anniversary, now seems the perfect time to come to our finale stop in our year-long countdown to the big event as we take a look at the very cool Eleventh Doctor. Geronimo!


The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.
                                                          The Doctor (Matt Smith)

After fifty years and ten previous lead actors in the role you'd be forgiven for thinking that surely each and every avenue the character of the Doctor can be taken down has been explored. However,  Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor proves that a new Doctor can carry everything that's gone before him and still add something of his own. Mr Smith is a man so endearing in the role that he has done what many would have thought impossible (after the unanimous popularity of David Tennant) and convinced new and old Doctor Who fans alike that he might just be the best Doctor yet, as proved in recent polls. The wonderful thing here is that his adventures are still unfolding and his character could go anywhere. All we know for sure is that, for the foreseeable future, Matt Smith is the Doctor!

The Eleventh Doctor is an immediate contrast from his previous two incarnations. While they preferred contemporary fashions such as leather jackets, slim suits and converse trainers, this Doctor clearly shows his alien roots in his apparel; a tweed jacket, braces and a vehement belief that bow ties (and assorted head gear) 'are cool!' This reflects his personality as well as this Doctor is more alien in every way. He is a complete genius, with a lightning mind that he likes to engage every instant - he particularly hates waiting around - which often causes him to babble a lot as he tries to keep up with it. He has also lost much of his predecessor's social abilities - as seen when acting very nervous around women attracted to him and a mistaken belief that he should kiss people when meeting them. However, the Eleventh Doctor, of course, possesses boundless kindness and also a great wisdom gained from his long, long life. Beneath his young-yet-old face this incarnation truly feels the oldest of all the Doctors as he seems to have such a sadness in his hearts. In a similar vane to the Tenth Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor started life as a freer light-hearted soul before becoming more sombre and perhaps harder as he suffered great blows. In 'The Snowmen', for example, the Doctor had apparently retired from world-saving after the loss of his two best friends...

As the Doctor himself said, Leadworth residents Amy Pond and Rory Williams 'were the first faces this face saw' - he met the pair shortly after regenerating when he had to stop the Atraxi from destroying the Earth while also tracking down the snake-like Prisoner Zero. However, the trio's friendship was a very unusual one - even compared to previous companions. Meeting Amy as a child - thanks to a TARDIS timing malfunction - the Doctor left Amy waiting for a whole fourteen years before she properly travelled with him, and soon after her fiancee Rory. As a couple in the TARDIS, Amy and Rory were unique as Doctor Who companions as they had an ordinary, proper life alongside their adventures. They got married, had a kid (let's not go there now) and temporarily separated (blub) before their lifelong relationship with the Doctor was cut short by Weeping Angels and they were sent back in time to live the remainder of the lives in 1930s New York. But the glorious Ponds will be forever 'seared onto (the Doctor's) hearts.'

Overall, unlike the other Doctors on this list, we can't judge the legacy the Eleventh Doctor will have but what we certainly do know is the current effect he is having; being a key part in steering the show to new highs as it sails in rude health into its 50th year. And its thanks to Matt Smith, David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, that Doctor Who has reached this milestone - and, who knows, might well see another fifty years. If only we had a TARDIS to go see...

The Ones to Watch

Vincent and the Doctor

The Doctor and Amy have to rescue 'the greatest artist who ever lived' Vincent Van Gogh in this corker from Richard 'Blackadder' Curtis. Simply an incredibly touching tale of loneliness and depression that is equally accessible to adults and children alike.

The Wedding of River Song

The enigmatic River Song's story and that of the Doctor's apparent death comes to a close as the entirety of time starts to collapse! A barmy series finale that ties up a few loose ends and creates several new ones; an episode that totally encapsulates Steven Moffat's take on the show.  

The Angels Take Manhattan

As the Weeping Angels close in on the Ponds in New York, it seems this could be his and the Ponds' final adventure. Superbly acted and finely scripted, this is an a heartbreaking end to the story of Amelia Pond and Rory Williams.

P.S. Happy new year, everyone!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Doctor Whos of Christmas Past

It's that time of year again. Where the Children glisten and the treetops listen out for sleigh bells. Wait, scratch that, reverse it.
Whatever, it's Christmas and we all know what that means; yes, a new Doctor Who! So while we're all getting very excited for some fab festive fun with the Doctor, the Paternoster Gang and his new pal, Clara (and if you're not please click here for why you should be) let's remind ourselves of Who's previous yuletide outings.

 The Christmas Invasion

Story: As the Doctor recovers from his recent regeneration, the Earth has to face the threat of the skeletal Sycroax without his help. Will he wake in time to save the world? And, more importantly, what will he be like?
Thoughts: Who's first Christmas special and still one of its best. It ingeniously makes us wait a whole forty minutes for our first proper meeting with this new Doctor  - which allows us to follow Billie Piper's Rose as she has to adjust to the change and fill the Doctor's role herself. With extra kudos for being a proper sci-fi story while also thoroughly Christmassy, this one's a ball!
Christmas Rating: 4 Christmas Puddings!

The Runaway Bride

Story: The Doctor suddenly finds himself with a new companion - mouth bride-to-be Donna - who somehow ends up in the TARDIS rather than the alter. However, it seems something much bigger is happening this Christmas - something creepy-crawly...
Thoughts: A fun Christmas romp that well fits a day when everyone wants a jolly old time. Looking back now, its interesting to see Catherine Tate as someone quite different from the more rounded Donna from Series Four.
Christmas Rating: 3 Christmas Puddings!

Voyage of the Damned

Story: Taking a trip on an ill-fated starliner called the Titanic, the Doctor - accompanied by ambitious waitress Astrid - has to save the crashed ship's passengers from the deadly Host. With the ship threatening to destroy the Earth, just how many can the Doctor save this Christmas?
Thoughts: Essentially a Doctor Who disaster movie starring Kylie Minogue, 'Voyage' could have gone very wrong but thankfully its great fun. Aside from Kylie, the ensemble casts each get a chunk of the action and you find yourself playing the 'oh, I hope they (don't) die' game.
Christmas Rating: 3 Christmas Puddings!

The Next Doctor

Story: During a Dickensian Christmas, the Doctor has a shock as he meets - the Doctor!
While coming to terms with his apparent future self, he also has a truck-load of Cybermen accompanied by the sinister yet seductive Miss Hartigan. Surely two Doctors combined can stop the Rise of the Cyberking?
Thoughts: A total blast from start to finish, this is Davies' second-best Chrimble special. Initially feeling cheated by the reveal about Jackson Lake, I now have a great liking for David Morrisey's turn as the flamboyant would-be
Doctor. Plus, a Victorian Christmas is always good.
Christmas Rating: 4 Christmas Puddings!

The End of Time (Parts One and  Two)

Story: When the end of time itself is predicted, the Doctor is drawn into a battle that encompasses the whole of the human race, his greatest enemy and the return of something he had thought forever lost. This time the Doctor can't win. This is the Doctor's final battle
Thoughts: As epic in terms of storytelling as Doctor Who has ever been, this is a grand, rather melancholy exit for David Tennant's Doctor that must have the most characters and places ever featured in a single Doctor Who story. On the downside, its not all that Christmassy.
Christmas Rating: 3 Christmas Puddings!

A Christmas Carol

Story: To save a honeymooning Amy and Rory from crashing to the surface of a planet celebrating Christmas (that has flying fish!), the Doctor must teach the miserly Kazran Sardick the meaning of Christmas and to be a better person. Can the Doctor play the Ghost of Christmas Past well enough to save his best friends - and the heart of Mr Sardick?
Thoughts: My personal favourite Who Christmas special. Its also one of my favourite adaptations of Dickens' novel. Michael Gambon is terrific as Sardick, making the change in his character thoroughly believable, Matt Smith proves himself once again an absolute star while Steven Moffat delivers one of his best ever scripts. Excellent Christmas entertainment.
Christmas Rating: 5 Christmas Puddings!

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

Story: 1941, Madge Arwell and her children are evacuated to the country for Christmas where they encounter a quirky gentlemen with a blue box that houses another world inside. This winter wonderland is not as harmless as it once seems, however, as acid rain and the menacing Wooden King and Queen demonstrate...
Thoughts: Evoking CS Lewis' perennial children's classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an excellent idea from Moffat for a Who Christmas special - and he certainly pulls it off. Claire Skinner is fab as, I suppose, the stand-in companion while its all a light-hearted runaround with a tender centre (in the form of the loss of Madge's husband). Perfect for Christmas Day!
Christmas Rating: 4 Christmas Puddings!

And there we have it. As a Doctor Who fan I find it rather wonderful that Doctor Who is so wrapped up in the Christmas season that its a constant fixture of festive telly. After filling up on huge dinners, millions gather round their sets to watch a Doctor Who specially tailored for this time of year. And, as this guide shows, they're guaranteed something special.

Before we go, as if you could forget, remember to tune into BBC One at 5.15pm on Christmas Day for the Doctor's latest Christmas adventure; the year is 1892 and the Doctor has given up on the world - just as snowmen come to live all over London. 'Tomorrow snow will fall and so shall mankind!'

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

After Midnight or How I Met David Tennant

Firstly, I do apologise profusely for the absence of any new posts in the past few days but, have no fear, during the run-up to Christmas this week I'll make up for it. I have an excuse though, I've been at my first convention.

As a long-time Doctor Who fan (it doesn't really need saying, does it?), I adored David Tennant and Billie Piper in their roles as the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler - and so was really quite excited when I had the chance to meet them by accompanying a friend to Midnight, a Doctor Who and Torchwood weekend celebration event run by Starfury Conventions.  It's always a worry when you meet people you've looked up too (especially those you looked up to when you were young) and they turn out to not be that nice. Thankfully, David and Billie were both lovely.

Despite the seemingly endless lines of people waiting to meet them (I queued up twice for each, one autograph and one photo), they were both welcoming; smiling and giving you a 'thank you' - David even shook my hand. What a nice man. Its a bit nerve-racking actually, when waiting to meet such icons of your childhood (I'm slightly flattering myself as I was twelve when they were on screen together) but their friendly nature helped dispel the wariness and made it an even more special occasion and a memory to cherish.

However, even though meeting David and Billie was lots of fun, there was lots of other individuals attending the event who were also fantastic to meet.
As the programme shows above, Torchwood's Eve 'Gwen Cooper' Myles and Gareth 'Ianto Jones' David-Lloyd were also there. Again, both were very friendly at the signings and turned out to be hilarious and more than a little rude in the question-and-answer talk sessions over the weekend. Their friendship that must have seen them through many days on set shone out as they reacted off the audience and each other as they chatted about a variety of subjects from Ianto's death (Gareth making a lot of humour from a moment that once traumatised hundreds of fans), the future of Torchwood and, ahem, John Barrowman's unmentionables.

The names don't stop there though as a number of previously-unmentioned guests turned out to be at the event. Comics writer Tony Lee, Doctor Who novelist James Swallow, Blon Fel Fotch Passemeer-Day Slitheen herself Annette Badland, Who, SJA and Torchwood writer Phil Ford, all-round Doctor Who person Gary Russel, Commander Strax in the flesh Dan Starkey, THE Dalek operator Barnaby Edwards AND Sarah Jane's own Anjli Mohindra were all also there. While all were warm and cheery throughout, I have particular fond memories of Anjli being very lovely at her talk (alone on stage and handling it brilliantly) and giving out skittles to the attendees at the signings. Also, I had an in-depth conversation with Barnaby about 'Asylum of the Daleks', how to recognise him on screen and the new TARDIS. Although I sadly missed it, he was also apparently a bit dapper on the Saturday night party.

I had a whale of a time this weekend. Even with the massive amount of queueing and waiting around, Midnight had a great, relaxed atmosphere. As well as the friendly demeanours of the guests this was also to do with the other convention-goers who were all sociable, excited and made each other feel involved. I imagine the whole time could have been very different and less all-round fun if everyone was shut-off and cynical. Thank you, Doctor Who fans!

Overall, I really enjoyed my first convention. It was a hilarious, entertaining surreal weekend but now I'm back and ready to blog. So keep your eyes peeled - expect the next post at ... sometime soon, when the bell tolls .... sometime. Having met a Time Lord, you'd expect me to know these things.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Meet Silas and Smedley

Hello all of you out there in blogger-land, I thought I'd let you know I've created a new blog...

The Assembled Experiences of Silas and Smedley is a blog dedicated to short fiction I've written that features two original characters; the mysterious Victorian gentlemen, Silas and his loyal companion, Dr Smedley. Yes, they are in part a pastiche of Holmes and Watson but, I hope, they also stand up by themselves. From inside their big spooky country home, the two friends often encounter some supernatural occurence that leads to suspenseful (and often humorous) consequences.

The blog so far has seven posts up and so is still in its early stages but I hope to update it fairly regularly when I feel its time for a new story for my intrepid adventurers.

For more information, I'll let Dr Smedley speak to you himself in this message from the 'About' page of the blog;

Dear reader,

Many thanks for visiting this, the treasure trove of sensation, suspense and scares that is the assembled experiences of my dear friend, the enigmatic Silas and my good self, Dr James J Smedley, formerly of her Majesty's army.
A long time ago, for you, I gathered my notes on the times I shared in the company of Silas and secured them in the vaults of a high-security bank to be opened a hundred years into the future and shared with the world - for I felt sure that the world of the 21st century would be ready for the tales that I collected.
And now my wish has been fulfilled. Here you will find regularly delivered tales of our encounters in which we often found ourselves with the weird yet wonderful in this world . Of course, some adventures are just too much for the public to handle at any time - alas, the strange case of the Miniature Elephant of Java and its like will have to stay between myself and the estimable character of Silas for the rest of time.

Yours sincerly,

Dr Smedley

If this interests you please pop over and have a look. And perhaps leave a comment; I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Countdown to Doctor Who at 50: The Tenth Doctor

Happy birthday, Doctor Who; you're forty-nine years old today! To celebrate let's continue my countdown through all the Doctors, which has reached its penultimate stop with the brilliant Tenth Doctor. Allons-y!

I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old, and I'm the man who's gonna save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?
                                                                              The Doctor (David Tennant)

After Doctor Who became one of the biggest shows on television once again with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor for one wonderful swift year, the pressure was all on his successor. If he wasn't well-received the show's popularity might have dwindled as quickly as it rose. However, this was not the case as upcoming actor David Tennant was chosen to be the Tenth Doctor. With Tennant in the lead, Doctor Who continued to grow and grow in public adoration and perhaps enjoyed its most popular period up to that point. As a sign of how successful Tennant's Doctor was it could be argued that he has replaced Tom Baker in the public consciousness as 'Doctor Who.' If that isn't success I don't know what is.

Just from first glance, the Tenth Doctor is straight away very different from previous Doctors. Clad in pinstriped suit, converse trainers and 'sticky-uppy' hair, he's a younger, more modern character who might reference Kylie Minogue (and meet her) rather than Shakespeare (although he met him too). Underneath though, he's still the Doctor we know and love, the genial, lively persona which hides a kind yet lonely soul, one that still bears his predecessor's survivor's guilt. In fact, he was a Doctor who perhaps cared more than any other; taking deaths to innocents personally and refusing to give evil-doers second chances. As his own life continued and he lost so much along the way, his righteous side was shown more often until he had to face his inner - as well as external - demons when the whole of time itself was threatened and the Doctor once again put others before himself. In many ways, then, the Tenth Doctor is a coming-together of traits from all the previous Doctors - the Fourth's manic energy, the Fifth's vulnerability, the Eighth's love for life - but he was also a lot more human, allowing the weight of the world to get to him. Effected, maybe, by his many human companions...

Shop girl, Rose Tyler, whom had been travelling with him since his previous regeneration, was particularly special to this Doctor. The inseparable pair shared several adventures in which their fondness for each other grew until they were forced apart. When an Earth-shattering even occurred involving a Dalek/Cybermen war, Rose became trapped on a parallel world. While Rose's loss left a huge shadow over the Doctor, he did have other companions to see the universe with such as Martha Jones, a trainee Doctor who saved the Doctor's own life on numerous occasions, and Chiswick girl Donna Noble, the most important woman in the whole of creation. As other friends included Captain Jack, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler, Lady Christina, Jackson Lake, Adelaide Brooke and Donna's own grandfather Wilfred Mott, Sarah Jane Smith was not lying when she said that this Doctor had 'the biggest family on Earth.'

The Ones to Watch


Rightly seen as one of Who's greatest episodes, this is a gripping, creepy and funny mini-movie that, although others have been Doctor-lite, feels unique in the history of the show. Carey Mulligan becomes the show's lead for forty-five minutes and pulls it off brilliantly.

The Stolen Earth/ Journey's End

Series Four's two-parter finale is a great big, throw-everything-in party celebrating the Russel T Davies era of the show. You not only have every companion of the Tenth Doctor but also a humongous load of Daleks plus their creator, Davros! Sure, it isn't the tightest plot line Who's ever had but it includes an excellent cliffhanger and a heart-breaking exit for Donna.

The Waters of Mars

A fascinating and rather bleak episode from the tail-end of the the Tenth Doctor's time, 'Waters...' sees the Doctor on a doomed Martian base which he can't save from destruction without breaking the laws of time. Lindsey Duncan is excellent as the captain of the base while it includes perhaps the Doctor's biggest ever character development...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Elementary, My Dear Bloggers

Although it's already been on screens both sides of the Atlantic for several weeks now, hang up your deerstalkers and grab your 'I<3 NYC' caps as today I'm taking a look at the US' take on a modern-day Sherlock Holmes...

I've known what to expect from Elementary for ages. When I first heard that an American version of Sherlock was to be made I was less than thrilled - as I was of the opinion that it would be a mere diluted copy of the original. As time went on, however, it became clear that Elementary was going to take Sherlock Holmes to somewhere different; literally, by being set in New York and figuratively, by having a female Watson.
As a Holmesian, I wasn't best pleased with the changes but I tried to reserve my judgement till after I had seen the show.

Now I have seen it, it's time to unleash it.

Firstly, Elementary is not as good as Sherlock. This isn't a harsh criticism as not many shows (if any) are and I wasn't expecting it to be. Instead, Elementary is a decent police procedural drama and seems quite happy being so. Comparing both shows does neither justice but I'm going to do so anyway.
Whereas Cumberbatch's Sherlock has great, big adventures involving royal scandals, giant dogs and dramatic falls, Lee Miller's rendition is a specialist in homicide, as Captain Gregson tells us in the pilot, working with the police to bring killers behind bars. Clearly then, Elementary's plots are a lot less puzzlebox than a Sherlock but they are still enjoyable if you enjoy those sort of story lines. (In one episode involving a serial killer known as the Balloon Man, I felt a little short-changed that I saw all the twists coming before Holmes himself did but I'll forgive that.)

However, as with all these crime dramas, its the lead characters that make the show different so Elementary's success very much relies on how well Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Lui perform as the intrepid investigators. In my opinion, its half-and-half.
Lucy Lui doesn't do it for me as Watson. While not actually against the transformation of the good Doctor to a woman, I feel, in this case, it has had the effect of reducing the character. While Martin Freeman of course has the role of surrogate audience figure who is there to react in shock at the great detective, he also gets a clear character, a brave ex-soldier who craves the adventure as much as Sherlock. Lui's Watson doesn't have this development. By taking out the traditional parts of the doctor's character, little is put in its place apart from a unexplored back story concerning her failure to save a patient on the operating table. It's a strange thing to apply to a character the audience is supposed to automatically side with and is not what is needed.
On the other hand, as an admirer of his performance(s) alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Danny Boyle's Frankenstein stage play, I was already predisposed to like Jonny Lee Miller in the role. Thankfully, what I've seen has confirmed this hope, as he gives an enjoyable turn in the role . Without the ice and arrogance of Cumberbatch and the original, his Holmes is a man with all the intellectual prowess you would expect but also, as we are forthrightly told in the pilot by Watson, a deep-down longing to understand people.To demonstrate a difference between the two, after discovering a dead body from one of his deductions Lee Miller says 'sometimes I hate it when I'm right' - something I can't imagine being said by Sherlock's Sherlock. On the whole, I think Lee Miller has delivered a quirky, engaging character - I just don't see him as Sherlock Holmes. Which leads nicely in to my next point.

While I can take the more ordinary crime plots and the fuzzy characterisation, my main gripe with Elementary is how 'unHolmesian' it is. Its starved of references to the canon so much they seem to have a strict quota of 'one nod per episode' as the pilot revealed that Holmes kept bees while another episode focused on his erratic sleeping pattern. During the episodes, I was crying out for any sign that what I was watching was Sherlock Holmes. Not much came.
Also, the two leads are so far removed from their literary counterparts they might as well be different characters. Even their dynamic has changed. While the originals are best friends, pure and simple, Elementary employs a needlessly complex relationship which sets Dr Watson up as Holmes' live-in sober companion to help him keep off his addictions. What would have been easier to swallow was if, as this reviewer suggested, they were meant to be descendants of the Victorian versions which would have allowed them their significant changes. As it stands, the writers will need to do some work to make them the inseparable duo Holmes and Watson should always be.

Overall, Elementary really isn't a bad show with a very good leading man, decent crime plots and is peppered with some gentle humour. To enjoy it most you need to dissociate it in your mind from both Sherlock and Sherlock Holmes in general. However, for this reviewer, as the main character is supposed to be Sherlock Holmes, it's a hard thing to do.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Return of the Cybermen

Neil Gaiman's writing another Doctor Who episode! And it's going to feature the Cybermen! I'm sorry, I couldn't keep that in long enough to do a proper introduction. Yes, the wonderful Neil Gaiman, the acclaimed writer of everything from novels to graphic novels and last year's immensely amazing Doctor Who episode 'The Doctor's Wife s (read my previous post on Mr Gaiman's considerable talent here) has confirmed that his episode being filmed very soon will feature everyone's favourite silver cyborgs - and he's also promised '(he) will make the Cybermen scary again.'

As a fan of Gaiman's work (you probably didn't need me to point that out), the idea of another episode by him excites me but its even better news that the Cybermen will be involved. In every appearance of theirs since 2006's 'Army of Ghosts' they have been little else but stomping thugs who's heads often get blown off. Also, as some of the best moments, and indeed whole episodes, off Doctor Who are scary I'm all for bringing back scary Cybermen. 'The Pandorica Opens' in Series Five featured an terror-rific scene where Amy is attacked by a one-armed, rusting Cybermen with a mobile head that moves like a squid but, I feel, much of their power has been lost over the years.

Presumably, one of the main influences of this episode (the seventh of next year's run) is Patrick Troughton story 'The Tomb of the Cybermen' which is arguably the Cybermen at their creepiest; investigating some abandoned caves, the Doctor encounters dozens of slumbering Cybermen... who don't stay asleep for long. Apart from just being a fab story, it will be extra fun having a modern episode drawn from this one as Matt Smith has repeatedly said how much he enjoys the episode. That man has good taste.

The actual storyline is being kept safely under wraps - although perhaps not too safely as its been known that one actress working on the episode left her copy of  the script in a Cardiff taxi only for a loyal fan to find it and return it to the studios. Bad luck, Internet spoilerphiles. However, fans are still brimming with ideas. Many believe it will see the Cybermen completely redesigned but it looks like we'll have to wait and see...

For now, here's a picture (which I do not take credit for) of Neil Gaiman with a Weeping Angel. Don't look at it too long. And don't.. well, you know how it goes.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Review: Skyfall - A Doctor Who fan on James Bond

If you sit down and think about it, there’s a fair bit of similarity between Doctor Who and James Bond. Both are big popular franchises (I dislike calling Who a franchise but I'll let it pass here) that have been around for circa fifty years. Both involve an invincible hero who has changed his face several times. Both are usually accompanied on their adventures by young women etcetera etcetera. Perhaps because of this - though I wouldn’t class myself as an out-an-out Bond fan - I view the other iconic British adventure series alongside Who with respect and have enjoyed many of the films, for instance Roger Moore’s fun thriller Live and Let Die (helped no doubt by Paul McCartney’s fabulous theme song) and Pierce Brosnan’s rollicking GoldenEye.  

However, my favourite Bond must be Daniel Craig.  His first film, Casino Royale, was the first Bond film I saw and I was immediately impressed with his utterly convincing rendition of the character as a rougher around the edges but still likeable rogue. The film itself won me over by its inclusion of a deeper relationship between Craig’s Bond and the brilliant Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, which I felt added much needed emotional side to the character, who in my little knowledge of him, didn’t often let it out. On the other hand, the follow-up, Quantum of Solace, left me cold, having struck me as not much more than a blurry action-fest. I felt it lacked the fun and humour which I knew Bond could offer. And I’m always more inclined to like something if it’s fun and humorous; thank you, Doctor Who.  
However, I have now seen the latest, you’ve-probably-heard-of-it-everywhere film in the series, Skyfall, and found it hugely entertaining. Warning for anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film and doesn’t want to know anything at all, I may mention minor spoilers. Everyone else (which I hope is most of you out there on the other side of the screen), do continue.

Firstly, it’s just so much fun. Whereas Craig’s previous outings as Bond have stripped down the humour and traditional Bond quips, Skyfall reinstates them in all their punning glory. A lot big blockbusters shy away from employing humour (although this may have been rectified by Avenger’s Assemble earlier in the year) but Skyfall understands that it’s an important slice of the enjoyment pie. For instance, in the cinema in which I saw the film, the audience were regularly chuckling out loud at some of the great lines delivered. A few times it slips into generic ‘film’ dialogue but largely it’s a fine script, at best in the snappy conversations between Bond and Judi Dench’s Q.
Also, there’s some strong storytelling on show. The pre-credits scene ends on an entirely shocking note which even if the film doesn’t subsequently mine as well as it possibly should have done its still a great moment nonetheless that leads to a brilliantly psychedelic title sequence involving skulls made of blood. This is just one example of many times in which the film surprised me by doing things I didn’t expect the usually-formulaic Bond films to include. There’s an excellent scene set in the London Underground which of course sees the usual Bond tropes of chases and explosions but is more interesting because it puts the superspy and his extravagant world into a more mundane, relatable place than the usual exotic locations. Also, it starts to feel really quite different when the action swaps to even more unlikely setting for a Bond film where we encounter some unexpected revelations…And if that sentence didn't whet your appetite I don't know what will. 
Furthermore, I think what really lifts the film is its cast full of entertaining characters all capably played. Ralph Fiennes and Naomi Harris are both enjoyable in their respective roles (you’re getting nothing from me here) while Ben Whishaw, an ever-reliable actor, is great as the new Q, Bond’s gadget man, who he plays as a sardonic computer genius. However, the best performances of the film are definitely awarded to Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and, the villain of the piece, Javier Bardem. Craig is at his best, and most Bond-y, as a more experienced agent than in his previous films while Dench, effectively one of the film’s leads, gets to sink her acting teeth into a bit more than usual. Bardem, on the other hand, is terrifically creepy yet camp as Silva, a villain with a much more personal aim than most megalomaniacs in Bond’s world.

Overall, Skyfall includes all the things than Bond films should; spectacular action sequences, yes, but what most impressed me was its emphasis on humour and warmth. With strong performances all round and a good story going for it with many a moment I wasn’t expecting, Skyfall is a fun cinematic rollercoaster which one the admiration of this Doctor Who fan.
I'll leave you, in proper Bond-y (is there a proper term? Bondian?) mood, with Adele's theme for Skyfall called, well, 'Skyfall'. Good day.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Countdown to Doctor Who at 50: The Ninth Doctor

As Doctor Who, the best television show on the planet (I'm famous for my impartial attitude), reaches its fiftieth year very soon, I'm dedicating a post to each Doctor every month. Just this once, let's go back seven years and remind ourselves of the no-nonsense and Northern Ninth Doctor.

'The ground beneath our feet is spinnin' at 1,000 miles an hour and the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at 67,000 miles an hour, and I can feel it. We're fallin' through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go... That's who I am.'
                                                           The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)

In 2005, after sixteen years off the air, Doctor Who needed to remind viewers why it had been loved by so many in the original run. The best way to do this; have an excellent incarnation of the Doctor as your lead. And, they certainly got that, in Christopher Eccleston. The Ninth Doctor's success can be measured by how well his short but magnificent era was received: with unanimous love. His Doctor reflected the change the show itself had gone under since its own regeneration. a much more melancholy, brooding version of the Doctor although with all his perenial quirks and sense of humour, the show was different but it was still quintessially Doctor Who. In his own words, the Ninth Doctor is, undoubtedly, fantastic.

The Ninth Doctor immediately sets himself apart from other Doctors. While every other incarnation wears a tie, a shirt and an eccentric article of clothing (a bow tie or a long scarf or a ... stick of celery), the Ninth is usually clad in a jumper and leather jacket that suits his close-cropped hair, again in sharp contrast with, say, his predecessor's Byronic locks. All this fits his character; a Doctor who's stripped down to basics; his love of life, and seeing it protected, is there as much as ever but its rawer, somehow. This Doctor has been born out of a terrible war from which he was the only survivor; and he is determined to stop such tragedies that he witnessed - and took part in  - happening ever again. However, he still always possessed his kindness and love of laughs such as when he entertained a group of homeless children in World War Two with his jokes and teased Captain Jack about bananas.In fact, just like the very first Doctor was a prickly, sometimes harsh character who gradually mellowed, the Ninth Doctor, the first Doctor of the revived series, did too. Mostly, thanks to a rather special friend...

More than ever before, the Ninth Doctor, now the last of his kind, needed a companion to travel the universe with. Thankfully, when investigating an Auton invasion of London, he found one in shop girl Rose Tyler, desperate for more than just her boring, everyday life. The Doctor and Rose quickly became the best of friends, closer perhaps than any of the TARDIS teams seen before. In Rose, the Doctor found almost a role model to remind him of a kinder, more human way to see the universe. For instance, in their early travels, the Doctor encounters a lone Dalek, perhaps the only creatures he truly hates, and ruthlessly tortures it. Later, however, after many adventures with Rose, the Doctor denies the egging on of the Dalek Emperor and decides not to destroy the Daleks, and proclaims himself a coward.

The inseparable pair were also joined by others on the journeys such as Captain Jack Harkness, the flirty former Time Agent turned conman, and, very briefly, whizzkid Adam Mitchell who was dropped off back home for bad behaviour. Also, considering how this Doctor hated this 'domestic', he regularly met with Rose's family, her mouthy but endearing mother Jackie and her ersatz boyfriend Mickey, who the Doctor would often tease calling him 'Ricky' or 'Mickey the Idiot'. However it was Rose who was with him in all his adventures. Right to the end, when the Doctor made the greatest sacrifice...

The Ones to Watch:


The episode that relaunched the series after sixteen years in the wilderness is a an excellent example of the Russell T Davies series'  quickened pace and the mix between science fiction and domestic drama. Eccleston and Billie Piper shine in their roles immediately as the series' leads while the inclusion of the Autons from the
show's pasts cements this as proper Doctor Who.

The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances

Steven Moffat's first writing credit for the show is one of his best. Publicly known as one of the scariest Who stories ever - and rightly so, the child and his gas mask zombies are chilling creations - it also features some of the sharpest lines in Doctor Who ever. A supreme episode.

Bad Wolf/ Parting of the Ways

Even though we've had several other series finales since, this two-parter still packs a punch when watched today. Not only a grand culmination of the mystery of the Bad Wolf with a ton of Daleks, it's also a fun parody of Television's obsession with game and reality shows. I still don't even mind the deux ex machina ending too much either.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Blog Post for Burton

With his new stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie, released in the UK this week, I thought it about time I dedicated a blog to my favourite director, the estimable Mr Burton. The creator of the man with the scissorhands, that skeleton who sings a lot and the Batman movie franchise. Yes, that's right. Bow down to him.

I'm not quite sure how I first encountered Burton's work but I know I found his films not just entertaining but fascinating as a child. And also pretty scary; his horror film Sleepy Hollow - which I probably shouldn't have been watching at a young age - certainly made an impression on under-10 me. I imagine it was his singular style, making the macabre and the grotesque lovable which interested me. I'm not the biggest fan of films (I do like films though, don't get me wrong) but I've always connected with Burton's work and can still say - and I think I'm in a minority here - that I haven't seen a film that he's directed I don't like. Yes, some are certainly better than others and some I only like while others I really like but all of them are good, original, entertaining films. Mainly because they are directed by Tim Burton.

In case you're not familiar with his films but would like to give them a go (and as you can probably tell, I would recommend it) here's my top five films directed by him (so there's no Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - ironically not actually directed by the man). So why not book yourself a holiday in a gothic castle or haunted town and take some of these films for company... And watch out for those things lurking in the night. Though they may well just be misunderstood.

Edward Scissorhands

Seen by many as Burton's masterpiece, Scissorhands sees the innocent, abandoned creation of a mad inventor, Edward, a man with - well, you know that part - taken from his castle home to a bright, sunny town where he unwittingly causes a stir among the neighbourhood. Its a wonderful expressionistic film upon which every following Burton film is judged next to. Johnny Depp is superb while Winona Ryder also performs exceedingly well alongside him. Engrossing, funny and tear-jerking.

Batman Returns

While Burton's first Batman film is still fun, its sequel, Returns, is an improvement even though/because its one of the director's darkest offerings. Not the superhero blockbuster many were expecting, its largely a film about a strange batch of severely oddball, psychologically-interesting characters, particularly its villains with De Vito's Penguin, Pfieffer's Catwoman and Walken's Shreck chewing up most of the screen time away from its star. It doesn't have much of a plot but its still great to see the Batman world through a Tim Burton kaleidoscope.

Ed Wood

While not exactly a box office hit, this is probably Burton's most critically lauded film - and deservedly so. Its a biopic telling the tale of 1950s sci-fi/horror director Ed Wood (Johnny Depp - who else?), known by many as the Worst Director of All Time. Filmed in black-and-white (a trick Burton is using again for Frankenweenie) it properly captures the feel of the sort of movies the real Wood made and avoids the obvious route of making fun of Wood. Instead it views him as an optimistic individual with dreams bigger than his talent could match.

Sleepy Hollow

A rare proper horror film from Burton, Sleepy Hollow is a lavish production that looks great as well as being a genuinely well-told story. Based on the classic spooky tale by Washington Irving, lateral-thinking detective Icabod Crane is called to the creepy New England town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate tales of the fabled Headless Horseman - and has his beliefs tested to the limit. Part-horror, part-whodunnit supported by a fantastic cast, this remains one of Burton's most entertaining films.

Corpse Bride

Truth be told, even if I could include Nightmare on this list, Corpse Bride would still get the place. Although I'm extremely fond of its counterpart, I prefer Corpse's style and think Burton's experience shows in the film's confidence. It also possesses a stronger story; Victor Everglott has been forced into an arranged marriage, terribly nervous about his upcoming wedding he practises his vows in a forest only to accidentally wed Emily, the corpse bride, and becomes embroiled in the ironically lively world of the dead. At the moment, it's my favourite of Burton's stop-motion films but I'm hoping Frankenweenie will give it a run for its money.

In other news: I write for WhatCulture! now Whatculture! is cool.

If you're interested, please read my first article for the good people at Whatculture! titled '7 Doctor Who Monsters Who Most People Forget.' Go check the site now to see which of the show's array of beastly baddies made it on to the list. Oh, and watch that space for future articles. See you there.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Countdown to Doctor Who at 50: The Eighth Doctor

My quest to look at each Doctor in the run-up to Doctor Who's big 5-0 continues as we turn our attention to Paul McGann, the Doctor for just one night. But you can't miss him; he's the guy with two hearts, remember?

          I love humans - always seeing patterns in things that aren't there.'
                                                                        The Doctor (Paul McGann)

Few actors coming into the already-demanding role of the Doctor have had it as hard as Paul McGann. For one thing, he has to endear himself to the audience, get them to accept him as the latest incarnation of the character and put his own spin on it all in one television movie. In which he doesn't even appear until twenty minutes in. Even worse, as the movie is separate from the classic series and the revived series that followed it a few years later there's an argument that he shouldn't be counted among the other Doctors at all. Thankfully, though, Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor burns briefly but so brightly on screen; banishing all those deniers. In the short time we get to know him, we are shown enough - although we would have liked more- to see that Paul McGann is the Doctor!

In a sharp difference to his previous persona, a scheming wizard, the Eighth Doctor had an insatiable love of life and adventuring. He was brave (abseiling down a tall building despite a new-found fear of heights), a genius (working out the Master's fiendish plan), a bit of an action-hero (he's good in a motorbike/ambulance chase!) and he's also a little bit psychic (don't ask). And half-human (really don't ask). His appearance befits his character perfectly; in his green velvet coat, cravat and waistcoat (all stolen from a hospital lock-up - sound familiar?) and long locks he seems quite the dashing Victorianesque hero; which is exactly what he is. Gone are the question marks of his last few bodies, this Doctor just wants to go for it and have fun. Hurrah!

Although we only see one adventure of this Doctors he does have a companion of sorts; one quite intimate companion.
After dying from being shot on the streets of San Francisco on the eve of the new millennium, the newly-regenerated Doctor, temporarily bereft of his memories, only recognises one face; that of Dr Grace Holloway, the woman who operated on him. Skilled, determined and intelligent, the Doctor finds a near-equal in Grace. In fact, he takes such a shine to her that upon recovering his memories he snogs her - twice! At the end of the adventure, after another kiss and a resurrection from death or two (what did I say about not asking?), the two doctors part company on good terms; but the Doctor and Grace's relationship would have a big impact on the revived series. Every Doctor since the Eighth has kissed every companion they've had (I could compile a full list but I think those who enjoy that sort of thing will have more fun working it out for themselves). Clearly, the Doctor - a character who never to seemed think that way at all -  got the taste for romance in his eighth incarnation - and liked it.

The One to Watch

The TV Movie

The movie is like no other Who story. Without the feel of the classic series and the spark of the revived series it just sort of sits in the middle somewhere; a mixture of both but with added American.
None of this is a bad thing, of course, as the movie is actually great fun. Despite all the plot holes - and there are many - it's very hard not to just enjoy yourself. Yes, the Master's plot to steal the Doctor's lives doesn't make too much sense but who could fail to see the fun in Eric Roberts melodramatic, campy Master - delivering lines like 'Soon, Doctor, I will have all your lives!' and admitting how he likes to 'drezz' for the occasion. Also, there's some fascinating developments to the Doctor's character which have not been taken up by the later series giving the movie a somewhat unique slant on the character.
Overall, it's a blast but a full series, as was hoped, was never made. So, sadly, we never got to see the Eighth Doctor again (at least on television; Paul McGann still stars in regular audio-based adventures featuring his Doctor). The next time we saw the Time Lord, when the series finally did come back proper. he was a lot lonelier, begrudged and northern...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Amy and Rory's Best Moments

And here it is. The Pond's final day. Tonight at 7.20pm on BBC One (for UK viewers) the mid-season finale 'The Angels Take Mahattan' is broadcast and will be Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill's last appearance in Doctor Who. Feeling sad? Want something to cheer you up? Well, you've come to the wrong blog as the following post may set of the waterworks as we look back at the Pond's greatest moments: as there won't be any more after this evening.

Top Amy Moments!

She's a kissogram! - The Eleventh Hour

The Doctor meets curious young Amelia Pond immediately after regenerating. Due to a fault of the destroyed TARDIS, the next time he meets her it seems Amelia - now Amy - Pond is all grown up and has become a policewoman... or a nurse... or was it a nun? No, the Doctor's little Amelia is actually a kissogram. The Doctor was shocked and so were we: right from the off, Amy was definitely a very different companion.

Amy chooses Rory - Amy's Choice

A major theme of Amy and Rory's first series is Amy's conflict about who to choose; the Doctor or Rory? However, once the dastardly Dream Lord traps the travelling trio in a dream world in which Rory dies Amy realises that she can't live without her fiancee (everyone now: 'Awwww'). It's a very important moment in the unfolding relationship of the Ponds from Amy describing Rory as her 'sort of boyfriend' early on to being happy to marry him later in the series.

The Raggedy Man is Late for their Wedding - The Big Bang

Talking of which, when Mr and Mrs Pond (cos it really does work like that with them) finally tie the knot in a world where the Doctor has never existed due to the time crack in her wall and the universe pouring into her head, Amy is able to remember the Doctor which brings him back into the world! Hooray! And just in time for a dance!

Top Rory Moments!

Rory punches Hitler - Let's Kill Hitler
Yes, I think we could all watch this for hours. Rory demonstrates his physical side as he smacks the Fuhrer right round the face. Well, he had just shot he's daughter. And, you know, he's Hitler.

The Lone Centurion -  The Big Bang 

We knew right away that Rory was loyal to Amy - but until he decided to guard her while she was trapped inside the Pandorica we didn't know how much. While the universe is all topsy-turvy and all over the place and he's a plastic Roman (I won't explain it now but, to be honest, it makes little more sense in the episode - in a nice way), Rory waits 2000 years until Amy can leave the Pandorica. Now that's what I call commitment.

Where. Is. His.Wife? - A Good Man Goes to War

When the Doctor and Rory discover that Amy has been kidnapped they do everything they can to find her - including blowing up some cybermen! Once again in the persona of the Lone Centurion, Rory gives the Cybermen a 'message' from the Doctor (the above explosion) and a question from himself (the above title). We know from other times that Rory is fiercely loyal to his wife but in this moment we see he is also super cool! Go Rory. 

Top Pond moments
                                                         Stupid Face - Day of the Moon

Amy is once again kidnapped (it doesn't happen that often really) this time by the Silence, as the Doctor, River and Rory search for her Rory clutches the device that's allowing him to hear Amy - but she can't hear him. As he bravely says he'll keep looking for her, Amy speaks of how a man fell out of the sky and changed her world. Of course it turns out that Amy was indeed speaking of her husband ('it's a figure of speech, moron!'). Another great 'aww' moment from the Ponds. 

Old Amy - The Girl Who Waited

The pivotal scene of this wonderful episode is a proper emotional moment as Rory has to leave an older, harsher version of his wife out of the TARDIS to be killed by white robots so the younger, our Amy can live. Both actors play blinding performances and show that they can play the lighter and more serious sides of their characters.

They Don't Divorce! - Asylum of the Daleks

Hi-hip hooray. I can't have been the only Amy and Rory fan to have been dreading 'Asylum' a bit once I heard that the Ponds were going to divorce. For the first half of the episode or so, that is exactly what is happening. After all these moments that we've looked at where the Ponds show what a great team they are and what they can survive through, they seem to now hate the sight of each other. However, in another emotionally-charged scene from Gillan and Darvill the Ponds pour out their problems and anxieties; mainly the fact that Amy can't have kids and how she felt she had to force herself to let Rory go because of this. Who says you can't have heart-to-hearts in the middle of a mad Daleks asylum.  

So there are my personal favourite Pond moments. However, I'm sure by the end of tonight I could fill another list of touching Amy and Rory scenes from that episode alone.

As said episode is only a few hours away, there's just time to say thank you to Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill who have brought the characters alive so well over the past two and a half years of the show. I'm sure both will go onto other successes. One thing's for sure, though, their time on Doctor Who will be fondly remembered. To Amy and Rory!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Review: Doctor Who - S7 Ep 2-4

In preparation for the mid-season finale this Saturday, Steven Moffat's sure-to-be grand 'The Angels Take Manhattan', I've reviewed the three previous episodes in this terrific mini-series of Doctor Who. If I have one major complaint, it's that there are not enough; just five featuring the Ponds and the annual Christmas special in which Jenna-Louise Coleman making her first appearance as the Doctor's companion proper. However, this all should mean we can look forward to a bumper crop of episodes next year, the show's fiftieth anniversary. But enough of the future, let's look to the adventures we've just seen...

                                     Dinosaurs On A Spaceship

After 'Asylum...’s dark opener, ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ decides to focus on fun and frivolity – and makes completely the right choice as it certainly is fun. With the title such as it is, how could it not be? You can easily imagine many internally – or perhaps externally, also – squealing upon seeing those words in the opening credits, feeling eight years old again. 

As DOAS is such an ensemble piece its success relies largely on its cast to bring the premise of the Doctor having a gang to life. Thankfully, they’re all rather brilliant. Rupert Graves (Riddell) and Rian Steele (‘Neffy’) give entertaining turns as their respective characters while playing the viscous bounty hunter/space pirate/ murderer Solomon comes easily to David Bradley. However, it’s Mark Williams who shines the most of the guest cast as Rory’s hapless dad, Brian. As in all his roles, Mr Williams makes, er, Mr Williams endearing and you feel you’re not laughing at him but with him.  
On the other hand, while the cast gave it their all, this reviewer felt the script wasn’t quite as refined as usual Who. Personally, not all of the gags worked (perhaps one to many innuendos?) and, although this can be forgiven as there was so much to fit in, the characterisation of Riddell and Neffy was sketchy.  That said, there were some fine moments such as the foreshadowing of Amy and Rory’s exit from the Doctor’s life in that ‘you’ll be there till the end of me’ conversation and that wonderful final scene of Brian eating his lunch while looking at the Earth below; exactly the stuff that’s Doctor Who’s made of.

                                    A Town Called Mercy
While the previous two episodes were dark and twisty-turny or fun and joke-filled, Mercy takes another entirely different direction; it’s a full-blooded western full of death, inner demons and morality. Once again showing the dexterity of Doctor Who. It’s safe to say that no other show on television could tell three such diverse stories in three weeks.
Speaking of westerns, writer Toby Whithouse proves he really knows the genre as he packs in several references to classic western films; from the obvious to the sly (I’m sure the undertaker sequences are inspired by a similar joke in comedy film Carry on Cowboy). If westerns aren’t for you, though, there is much else to enjoy here.  It britstles with wonderful drama that never lets up throughout the forty-five minutes including the parallels between Jex and the Doctor and the Frankenstein-like origins of the Gunslinger. Whithouse also injects a lot of hilarious moments too, especially in the episode’s first half; special mention goes to the ‘she’s called Susan’ gag which should go down as one of Doctor Who’s funniest ever lines.
While the episode is hugely enjoyable it has its faults. My biggest bone to pick with ATCM is how it sadly underuses Amy and Rory; although there’s a great scene where Jex sees Amy as a mother and she is instrumental in brining the Doctor back from over the brink she gets little else to do and Arthur Darvill (as Rory) surely only gets three lines in the entire thing. Seeing as our time with these characters is very limited it would have been nice to see some more of them.
However, as it stands A Town Called Mercy is a sophisticated drama that leaves you lots to think about with some spot-on comedy moments. Also, in contrast to the previous two stories, it’s not afraid to let the action simmer a bit more to tell a perhaps deeper story. While others might not benefit from a slower pace, it certainly works here.
                                         The Power of Three

As the Pond Farwell is just next week, their penultimate adventure needed to be something special, a last hurrah for them before the last day arrives. ‘The Power of Three’ was, of course, something special; a gentle, touching but also very funny episode that is rightly all about our terrific trio of time travellers.
The true strength of this episode is how Chibnall turns up the nostalgia and emotion all the way. The best examples here are of that tremendous scene of the Doctor and Amy talking by the waterside, answering the question perhaps some of us have been wondering this year: ‘why does the Doctor keep coming back for the Ponds?’ Another moment comes courtesy of Brian (oh, why wasn’t Mark Williams’ introduced earlier!) who gives his blessing for his son and daughter-in-law to go off into the universe. On the nostalgic side of things, as a fan, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into. The inclusion of UNIT in any form would have been exciting enough but for it to be led by the legendary Brigadier’s daughter, Kate, adds another level of geek mouth-watering to proceedings. I’m sure many are wishing for a return.
However, while the human side of things is very well done indeed there are problems with the plot. The fab idea of the cubes, that acts as a nice commentary on humanity’s tendency to scavenge,  is used well in the opening half a but when everything suddenly kicks off in the closing minutes it takes no time at all for it to then be sorted out.  The Shakri look great if a little like a Sarah Jane Adventures alien but are/is underused. And what are those gasmask-esque hospital porters about?
Crucially though, despite the nit-picks, this episode flourishes as it shines a new light on the Pond’s relationship with the Doctor and his with them. It’s only fitting that this happened this week right before ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’, when the TARDIS lands in New York, and that light will be extinguished forever.  
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