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October 2015

Review: Doctor Who: The Zygon Invasion

Could Osgood really be back?!
Could Osgood really be back?!

This series has been on quite the roll so far, with every episode being pretty good, and there’s even been a few exceptional episodes. Of course, I expected The Zygon Invasion to be no different as it was written by Peter Harness; who was the mastermind behind last series’ Kill The Moon, which is one of my personal favourite new-Who episodes. Harness and co did not disappoint. The Zygon Invasion is mad, it’s over the top, and it’s pure Doctor Who goodness.

One of the reasons why I’m such a fan of Harness’ previous episode, Kill The Moon is because of the important moral questions he made the central theme of the episode. Tonight’s episode doesn’t feature a similar motif, but this doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the episode as these themes wouldn’t be applicable in a story like this.

Although, this episode isn’t completely devoid of any questions of morality, and interesting scenes that really get you thinking. Midway through the episode, The Doctor and UNIT surround a church with Zygons inside, but they come out disguised as human beings, and one even takes on the appearance of one of the soldiers mothers, trying to manipulate him into not killing her. This scene was a masterpiece of sci-fi brimmed with intensity, leaving me begging at the hopeless soldier not to fall for the devious Zygon trick.

However, one thing that does detract from my enjoyment is the design of the Zygons. I understand that it is important to not alienate fans of the original Doctor Who series, but the design is so ridiculous and dated that, at times, I struggled to consider the Zygons as a serious threat. This is not a good feeling to have, especially when these creatures are trying to take over the earth, and I’m too busy trying to look past their ludicrous design.

It would also be a crime to forget that they’ve pulled off another excellent cliff hanger at the end of the episode, with SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER Zygon-Clara firing a missile at a plane with the Doctor inside. We all know that the Doctor won’t die, but I’m confident that it’ll be a lot of fun watching him get out of this mess; especially with the whole of U.N.I.T being compromised by a group of Zygon imposters. Clearly Harness has taken a lot of influence from The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (not that I mind, I adore that movie!).

The pacing of The Zygon Invasion was excellent, however. From the opening moments the action commences, making this episode a pure thrill ride from start to finish. Harness has created forceful action-packed episode which leaves you feeling satisfied by the time the credits roll. Another strong stride forward for the ever evolving (or perhaps even ‘regenerating’) series, with this episode really ticking all the right boxes, but leaving enough un-ticked to make us want to tune in again next week.

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Review: Doctor Who: The Woman Who Lived

The Doctor and Ashildr together; but is she friend or foe?
The Doctor and Ashildr together; but is she friend or foe?

The Woman Who Lived is almost unrecognisable as being the second part of a two-episode arc, beginning with last week’s The Girl Who Died. The only real thread tying these two totally and tonally different stories is Maisie Williams’ ‘hybrid’ character. Just because the episode is very different from last week’s episode, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less good; in fact, I actually think it’s much better than the previous episode. This is likely down to writer Catherine Tregenna, who swaps out cheesy, out of place comedy, for quality dialogue and action.

The Doctor and Ashildr (or Me, or The Nightmare- whatever she wants to be called now!) get to spend some real quality screen time together, which I feel was surprisingly neglected in The Girl Who Died. This is a very clever move on Tregenna’s behalf because Capaldi and Williams have electric on-screen chemistry together, making their scenes together a joy to watch and wholly immersive. This dialogue also included some hugely intense discussions about the flaws of immortality, with Williams in particular showing some beautiful anger.

The perfect balance between comedy and drama was found in this episode, with a couple of truly funny moments (Doctor and Williams hiding behind a sofa anyone?) tightly laced with the serious drama that we’ve all come to expect from a quality episode of Doctor Who.

I think flashbacks were used to perfection to exemplify just how long and painful immortality has been for Williams’ character. A particularly haunting scene showed how she had lost all of her children to the Black Death, which brought chills down my spine.

The episode ended with The Doctor and a returning Clara in the TARDIS, with Clara saying “don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere”. This was actually the most gut-wrenching moment in the episode for me, because we all know that Jenna Coleman is leaving, and this just made me realise that she actually will go, and might not go in the most ‘peaceful’ way.

Overall, The Woman Who Died is not perfect- there is some very questionable camerawork at times- but is a very strong leap in the right direction, after last week’s slight misstep with The Girl Who Died. Tregenna’s decision to make this episode with a darker tone than its predecessor really paid off and the episode is much stronger because of it.

Review: Doctor Who: The Girl Who Died

The Doctor, Clara and Viking-girl Maisie Williams (@bbcdoctorwho)
The Doctor, Clara and Viking-girl Maisie Williams (@bbcdoctorwho)

The Girl Who Died kicks off the third two-parter of the series so far, but does so with an episode filled to the brim with Doctor Who brilliance.

Let’s just do a quick run down of the plot: This is basically Vikings vs Aliens. That’s all you need to know. This awesome idea comes from the creative mind of Jamie Mathieson – who also created the fantastic episodes (Flatline and The Mummy on The Orient Express) from last series.

Unfortunately, I must admit that, whilst the comedy spots were funny; The Doctor trying to fool Vikings into thinking he’s Odin by using a yo-yo was hilarious, but that doesn’t make up for an otherwise slightly Horrible Histories-esque episode. The Vikings were presented as utter toolbags, which was a bit tedious at times. The storyline involving Maisie Williams’ Ashildr was utterly captivating, but the rest about the war between the Vikings and the Mire was somewhat bland, and made the episode particularly hard to take seriously when they were taken down by a trap that wouldn’t go amiss on Scooby Doo.

One thing that I completely adored however, was that we were finally given an explanation about why the Doctor has his face. We were beautifully transported back in time to Tenth and Donna in the TARDIS way back in The Fires of Pompeii, when Donna convinces Tenth to save a family spearheaded by none other than Peter Capaldi. His face is used as a ‘reminder’ to himself about the good, and the changes he can make to time.
Once again, Moffat and co have delivered a cliff-hanger that leaves you begging for the next episode. I think this was an improvement of the previous cliff-hanger from Under The Lake because, whilst that one was good, we always knew The Doctor wasn’t dead; whereas, this time, I genuinely have no idea where the show is heading next. Who could Ashildr be? Missy? Clara? Perhaps even Donna?

Oh, and on another strong note, it looks like we may have seen the demise of those awful Sonic Sunglasses. Hopefully, The Doctor will go back to his ever-reliable, and less gimmicky Sonic Screwdriver!

All in all, this was an enjoyable episode, littered with Doctor Who clichés, but was ultimately made brilliant by the final, unconventional 10 minutes. Had the whole episode been as strong as the ending, it would’ve been in contention for best episode of the series.

Sorry!

Sorry but I’m afraid I won’t be posting a review of tonight’s episode of Doctor Who.

I’m currently overloaded with work for school, and that has to take priority right now.

I’ll post again next week, I just can’t right now.

Sorry again!

Review: Doctor Who: Under The Lake

This week's spooky Doctor Who ghosts (@bbcdoctorwho)
This week’s spooky Doctor Who ghosts (@bbcdoctorwho)

For the third time this series, Moffat and co have delivered an outstanding episode of Doctor Who. I can’t remember the last time a series of Doctor Who started off so strong.

Yes, it has some of the traditional Doctor Who ingredients; running along long corridors, a small and doomed group of characters, etc. but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of this episode because it is all executed so perfectly. I feel like this has to be down to it being written by Toby Whithouse, who has created some of my favourite modern-Who stories.

Not only that, but there is still some brilliant character moments between the Doctor and Clara; one part I particularly enjoyed was Clara making the Doctor use some prompt cards, so that he knows the appropriate thing to say to bereaved shipmates.

Something else that was especially enjoyable about this episode is that the ‘villains’ of the piece were genuinely scary. This was refreshing because nothing from Doctor Who has even startled me since the weeping angels. The pale faces and blackened eyes made them terrifyingly emotionless and threatening simultaneously.

However, this wasn’t even my favourite part of the episode. The super-detective side of the Doctor got an (unfortunately) rare outing; he wasn’t just running through the aforementioned long corridors, he was using his best asset, his brain, to truly get to the bottom of this ghoulish mystery. At times I wasn’t sure whether I was watching Doctor Who, or Sherlock!

It was such a good episode that I didn’t even realise that my beloved Missy was nowhere to be seen, although I guess that’s to be expected considering her actions in the previous episode. Now that I’ve noticed her absence, I have realised that I miss Missy (see what I did there!) when she’s not here. But, you know what they say; absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Nevertheless, Under The Lake, the first of another two-parter, was utterly engaging from start to finish; with a cliff-hanger that genuinely made me gasp. Trust me, the only way you would’ve seen it coming is if you have your own TARDIS and went into the future to watch this episode.

Exciting News: HBO in talks to create Watchmen series!

In some very exciting news, a HBO spokesperson has revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that a television series based on the iconic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel, Watchmen, could be coming soon; “Preliminary discussions regarding Watchmen have occurred, but we have no additional information, and no deals are in place”. You know what this means? We could actually see the greatest graphic novel of all time on HBO, a channel synonymous with high quality programming!

It is also being said that Zack Snyder, the director of the 2009 criminally underrated Watchmen movie, and the director of Man Of Steel and the upcoming Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, is interested in helming the proposed HBO product. I think it’d be a huge coup to get a director of his calibre to commit to a television series, especially when he is busy with controlling the DCU.

It is not yet known whether this television series would serve as a sequel, prequel, or just completely ignore the original 2009 film. I personally hope it is the latter.

I really hope Snyder and HBO can come to an agreement soon and bring us Watchmen on a weekly basis!

However, I’m a realist (or perhaps just a pessimist). I know that it’ll be difficult to get Snyder to do a whole television series because of other commitments. I know HBO may be hesitant to enter the superhero genre; although this wouldn’t be anything like The Flash or Arrow. Unfortunately, I struggle to see this getting off the ground, but then again I never thought the superhero genre would ever be as hot as it is now, so who knows what the future holds for this proposed show. All I really know is that I really want this to happen.

Doctor Who spinoff announced for 2016

There has been much noise lately about whether Doctor Who is in danger, due to dipping ratings, but it seems that those irrational fears can now be put to rest.

Why can they be put to rest? Because the BBC have just announced that they will be making a new Doctor Who spinoff series, titled Class, coming out it 2016.

It will follow the youths and teens at Coal Hill High School (where Clara works when she’s not helping the Doctor save the universe). Therefore it is no surprise that it’ll air on youth-oriented channel BBC Three.

It marks the TV-writing debut for acclaimed author Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls, The Rest Of Us Just Live Here). For those that are unfamiliar with Ness, I can assure you that this show is in very safe hands indeed. He is without doubt one of my favourite authors, and I believe he can capture the voice of teenagers better than anybody else.

Here’s what Ness said about his new series earlier this evening;

“I can’t wait for people to meet the heroes of Class, to meet the all-new villains and aliens, to remember that the horrors of the darkest corners of existence are just about on par with having to pass your A-levels”

And as someone currently undertaking his A-Levels, I can tell you, I’d much rather go one-on-one with an alien than take my Economics exam come June!

There will be 8 episodes of 45 minutes, and the show will mostly be filmed in Cardiff, where most Doctor Who episodes are filmed.

As an optimistic Whovian, I think this can be a great show, hopefully like a mixture of early Torchwood with a dash of Sarah Jane Adventures.

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