Sunday, 27 September 2015

Review: Doctor Who - The Witch's Familiar

Missy! Davros! Daleks! Something's definitely familiar here... but did this episode carve out something new?

'I’m not sure any of that matters – friends, enemies – so long as there’s mercy. Always mercy.'

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Review: Doctor Who - The Magician's Apprentice

Doctor Who returned for another series tonight - but was there magic in this opening episode?

"This is the last will and testament of the Time Lord known as the Doctor."

Friday, 18 September 2015

Jenna Coleman to leave Doctor Who

It's official. Today it was announced that Jenna Coleman will leave Doctor Who after Series Nine.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Doctor Who: Series Nine Episode Titles Revealed

Unusually this year we knew several of Series Nine's titles quite early on but now, with just a mere handful of days to go until the premiere, we have the entire set, released today in one handy image on the official Doctor Who twitter account.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Review: Marvel's Agent Carter (Season One)

Today we take a look at the forgotten hero of the Marvel universe - move over Iron Man et al, it's Peggy Carter's time in the limelight...

While I wouldn't say I'm an out and out fanboy, per se, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I am certainly an appreciator of it. The Avengers is a perennially entertaining film and I also enjoyed the single-hero films, particularly the Captain America ones (though Iron Man is probably the best Avenger). In regards to the first 1940s-set Cap film - The First Avenger - a big reason for my liking it was the brilliant Peggy Carter, by far the best super-hero 'love interest' around. Well-played by Hayley Atwell, Peggy was a capable soldier and secret agent and didn't fall into the damsel-in-distress model. I was excited, then, when I heard she would be the first female character to lead her own instalment of the MCU in Agent Carter, the series. Eat your heart out, Black Widow!

Thankfully, Agent Carter was a genuinely thrilling show - the driving force of which is Peggy's fight to prove herself despite the fierce sexism of her co-workers at the SSR (the forerunner to SHIELD). The pace and plot more or less consistently gain momentum over the trim eight episode series so that, by the time of the finale, I was both excited and saddened to see it end. While at first the supporting characters seem plain and the villains too obscure, Peggy's fellow agents, such as the boorish Thompson, stern Chief Dooley and the understanding Souza, are fleshed out as the series goes on and two effective villains are introduced. Here's hoping we have more of them if the series is renewed. Oh, and word must be given to James D'Arcy's lovable stiff-upper lipped Edwin Jarvis, butler to Howard Stark, whose double act with Peggy makes up the majority of the humour - and heart - of the series. 

But the show can only belong to Hayley Atwell who triumphs in the starring role. Though at times the series itself seems less sure about her as its lead. For instance, whenever Dominic Cooper's Howard Stark turns up, as he does from time to time, the focus almost totally switches to him as if as the audience would much rather be watching a show about Iron Man's womanising Dad and Peggy is just holding his place. Mostly, though, Peggy is handled well by the showmakers and it's refreshing to have both an adventure-based period series and an exciting female lead. 

US TV seems to be superior to British telly in its female lead characters - Buffy comes to mind as the queen of them all - but still there's too few well-developed female characters like Peggy around today. For that alone, I'm very happy that, after some uncertainty, Agent Carter has been given a second series. It's lucky then that Agent Carter is a fun show on its own two legs regardless of Peggy. It may employ the odd familiar plot point or guessable twist but its general consistent quality more than make up for a few quibbles. Agent Carter, you had better report back for duty soon.

Female agency - Peggy Carter has to prove herself to her colleagues in a post-War America.

P.S. Despite the links to the popular MCU and starring three brits as the leads, for some unfathomable reason Agent Carter took an age to be shown in the UK. Hopefully, this will be sorted out next year or will simply just go up on Netflix. Come on, she's even nicknamed 'Miss Union Jack'...

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Monthly Scribbles: The Return of River Song

Now that August has augustly bowed out for another year, we can finally say that Doctor Who is on this month! 'The Magician's Apprentice' will materialise on our screens on the 19th but there are a few news items and tidbits to chat about before that happens...

River Song Returns!  

The big Who news released in the last day or so is, oddly, not about the upcoming series but rather this year's Christmas special. Namely, it's been revealed that River Song, otherwise known as the Doctor's wife, is to return to the show this Chrimble. After a two series absence (her last appearance was in 2013's 'The Name of the Doctor'), River will encounter the Twelfth incarnation of her other half for the first time. A vague synopsis of the special has also been released:
It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveller River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas. 
Interestingly, this is hot on the heels of the announcement that River will soon meet the Eighth Doctor on audio. Can we have River and Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor team up next? 

Hayley Atwell wants to be the Doctor!

The actress who has won fans worldwide for her awesome portrayal of Marvel's Agent Carter (expect a review of the series to be up on here soon) recently joked to a fan on Twitter, who asked her if she would like to be in Doctor Who, that she would love to be the Doctor. As happens, this then created an internet storm and whipped up the old 'should the Doctor be a woman?' argument again.

Personally, while I believe that there really needs to be more characters like Atwell's Peggy Carter around and am open to the idea of a female Doctor, I do worry that the issue is talked about so much that the production team, when choosing the next Doctor, will be influenced by the fans who are calling for a gender-swap rather than simply looking for the best person for the role, man or woman.

In the mean time, we've hopefully still got Peter Capaldi for quite a while yet!

Blackadder return 'on cards'

Away from Doctor Who, Baldrick himself Tony Robinson has got fans of historical sitcom Blackadder excited by saying that a new series is 'on the cards.' Most seem to be overjoyed at the news but, speaking as a huge fan, I'm wary of the notion of another series so long after the original four in the 1980s. Perhaps a one-off special, akin to 2000's Blackadder Back and Forth (which saw Blackadder and Baldrick travel through time in a TARDIS-like time machine), but a full series might be risking besmirching the name of one of the best British shows ever. In fact, if you've got a minute, it might turn out to be the worst mistake since someone said ‘yeah, let’s take this suspiciously large wooden horse into Troy, statues are all the rage this season.’

Mission DALEK

And, finally, I'll leave you with this mini Doctor Who adventure. Recently, the BBC launched a competition asking fans to design a Doctor Who story in video form for the chance to meet Peter Capaldi. The entries are a hugely varied bunch so far - including fans acting in cosplay, clip-based ones and animation. You'll have to click below to see which one this is. Warning: features some git failing to do a good impression of Peter Capaldi.

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