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Cobwebs and Spiders – Review of Doctor Who Kill The Moon

I love a good genre shift in a movie or TV series. Do you?

My favourite happens in the film “The Descent”.

It starts out as a girly buddy movie. A group of girls go on an outdoor adventure. Abseiling down cliff, pot-holing in dark caves and helping each other across deep crevasses. One of them gets trapped. Tense scenes follow until her companions free her.

About 45 minutes in the film becomes a horror movie. Suddenly the caves are full of ravenous monsters. They hunt the girls. Blood spills. Gore coats the walls of the caves.

The genre shift from buddy movie to horror shocks you and advances the plot in an unexpected direction.

Review of Doctor Who Kill The Moon

Kill the Moon has a genre shift. For the first 25 minutes we are in a remake of “Alien”.  A dark moon base. Torch light sweeping across deserted cobwebbed rooms. The sounds of scurrying in the shadows. Stolen glimpses of monstrous spiders. Sudden attacks and gruesome deaths.

Kudos to Paul Wilmshurst then. Well directed and genuinely scary you’re best watching the first half of the episode from behind the sofa.

But then the genre shifts. From horror movie to morality play. The moon is infact an egg about to hatch a creature that might destroy the Earth. Should they try to destroy the creature and potentially save the human race? Or will the hatching prove innocuous anyway?

An interesting concept but the Doctor does a runner and leaves Clara and Hermoine Norris’s character to decide. He only reappears when they make the (right) decision to allow the birth of the creature. Is this. A test for Clara or a test for the morality of the entire human species?

Whatever the Doctor had in mind Clara is unimpressed. In a scene building all season she finally tires of his new abrasive personality. She tells him to take a hike.

“Go away. You go a long way away.”

And the Doctor just thought he was helping.

I loved the horror genre section. I’m not sure about morality play. It certainly fits with the Doctor’s new persona and show runner Stephen Moffat obviously knows what he is doing. But as in The Caretaker, I find theme pushed too far.

Peter Capaldi is consistently strong but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to like him. Is that Moffat’s plan. For the softening of the Doctor’s more alien persona to be the theme of the show.

Until we like him again.

Isn’t that a bit of a risk?

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Kill The Moon? Please post a comment or share a link to your own review.

The Unbreakable Bank – Review of Doctor Who Time Heist

Time Heist is Doctor Who doing Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen.

When you have a time machine not only can you visit any era in history – and play Robin Hood Panto.

You can visit every film and literary genre too.

This time the bank heist genre. Busting into The Unbreakable Bank of Karabraxos.

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We begin with a witty scene of Doctor Clara banter (“Have you grown?” “Heels”) and suddenly the TARDIS phone rings. Clara cautions that the Doctor shouldn’t answer the phone as “something” will happen.

Well it does. As soon as he grabs the phone receiver, the scene changes. They are in a dark room. Their memories wiped. The Doctor holding a slimy Memory Worm.

Over a video link the mysterious Architect informs them that they must rob the bank of Karabraxos.

A good fun episode of Doctor Who, Time Heist merges time travel into a typical bank robbery story. The Architect is of course the Doctor, having set up the heist in advance, and then wiped his team’s memories so that the monster of the week, The Teller, cannot detect their guilt and out them.

Peter Capaldi is in charge for the first time since his debut. Time Heist shows us that the Doctor is clever and can plan with meticulous detail. But he’s still more alien than Matt Smith or David Tennant.

He gave his companions suicide syringes for goodness sake. Yes, as the Architect he knows they are teleport devices, but as a mind-wiped Doctor, he thinks they’ll kill.

Keeley Hawes shines as Ms Delphox/Madame Karabraxos but needs more air time. As interesting as Psi and Saibra, the other two members of the mind-wipe gang, we don’t learn enough about them.

It only took less than 45 minutes to rob The Unbreakable Bank. It should have taken at least 60. With so much going on I feel the episode need longer to breathe.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Time Heist? What did you think? Please leave a comment or share a link to your own review.

Am I a Good Man? Review of Doctor Who Into The Dalek

Peter Capaldi hits his stride in this confident meeting with the Doctor’s arch-enemies the Daleks.

As iconic and as popular as they are, great Dalek stories have been thin on the ground since the BBC reinvented Doctor Who for the digital generation in 2005.

Review of Doctor Who Into The Dalek

Over fifty years what new ideas could they possibly think of to keep the pepper pots interesting?

Steal with glee is the answer.

Miniaturising the Doctor, Clara and his soldier escorts and injecting them “Into The Dalek” through its eye-stalk is a steal from a 1960s film called “Fantastic Voyage” and a more recent 1980s film, “Inner Space”.

Both feature shrunken Doctors attempting to cure their patients from within.

The visuals and direction in the episode also have a distinct “Star Wars” feel. The Dalek saucer pursuing a rebel ship through an asteroid field at the start of the episode relives similar scenes of the Imperial Star Destroyer chasing the Millennium Falcon though rocks in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

The Doctor and party slide down a tube into a pit full of putrescent gunk reminiscent of the garbage compactor in “Star Wars A New Hope”. And blast doors being blasted and space ships docking and enemies bursting through bulkheads to attack echo similar scenes from the Star Wars franchise.

Ironic then that for an episode that borrows so heavily from other science fiction films, Into The Dalek is a fresh new take on the Daleks.

Capaldi commands all of his scenes. He’s more alien than Matt Smith. Shows a disregard for his companions. Dismisses the deaths of those around him with mean one liners. But he’s captivating.

“She’s my carer. She cares so I don’t have to.”

His encounter with the Dalek (from the inside) and his desire to see a “good” Dalek makes for tense scenes. Whilst outside the miniaturised environment the main attacking force of Daleks arrive to a cinematic battle with explosions and exterminations galore.

Of course it isn’t a good Dalek. It’s simply a broken Dalek. And the Doctor repairs it. But what he doesn’t get. And what it takes Clara to make him realise (with a good hard slap), is that a good Dalek is possible. From that realisation onwards Capaldi has a mission.

Once again the pace is different to Matt Smith’s era. Longer scenes. More talking.

I liked Danny Pink’s introduction and the developing love interest for Clara and the fact he is a soldier and that our new Doctor so obviously has a problem with soldiers.

I predict interesting times as this story arc develops.

Another strong episode therefore, cementing Capaldi confidently into the role, and perhaps the best Dalek story for many years.

Will this quality continue as we head into Sherwood Forest next time to meet The Robot of Sherwood?

Now it’s your turn:

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Review of Doctor Who The Day of The Doctor

The Day of the Doctor, the BBC’s episode celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who was a huge success across the world.

Review of Doctor Who The Day of The Doctor
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They broadcast it simultaneously in 94 countries. Some of those broadcast took place in cinemas around the world. In the UK the box office takings put the epsiode in the top three Cinema showings for the week.  In the United States it took  $4.8 million at the US box office making it second only to The Hunger Games sequel.

And of course in the UK with 12.8 million viewers The Day of the Doctor was the most watched TV programme of the week.

But was it any good?

Let’s face it must have been almost an impossible task for producer Steven Moffat to get it right and keep everybody, fans and non-fans happy. He could’ve littered with in jokes and nods to the past and alienated the casual viewer. Or he risked annoying the fans by going light on past references.  As it turns out his nods the past were very subtly woven into the story, such as sign saying that the Chairman of the School Governors was Ian Chesterton – one of the Doctor’s original companions back in 1963.

The comic timing tension and camaraderie between David Tennant and Matt Smith I thought was marvellous. Tennant was not as over the top as he was towards the end of his tenure as the Doctor.

John Hurt as the previously forgotten incarnation Doctor was simply superb. His character was known as the “War Doctor” and his appearance completed a story arc that we’ve enjoyed since the programme came back in 2005. He was the Doctor who fought in the Time War. Rugged, battle weary, I loved his exasperation at the younger Doctors’ mannerisms .

The interplay between three doctors was very funny. I’m not sure about the Tom Baker cameo as the museum curator. He obviously wasn’t the Doctor himself but it was all obviously nice to see him and I have to admit I cried out at the glimpse of Peter Capaldi.

Moffat provided us with a roller coaster ride, resurrecting 1970s villains the Zygons in their phlegm spitting, shape-shifting magnificence. We saw  tantalising big budget Star Wars style glimpse of the Daleks versus Timelord battles. And he managed to bring Billy Piper back in a completely different role to that of Rose Tyler. In fact Billy Piper’s performance as the conscience of the ultimate weapon of mass destruction was sublime to say the least.

Thoroughly entertaining “The Day of The Doctor” succeeded in celebrating the past whilst setting up another 50 years of Doctor Who.

Review of Doctor Who The Day of the Doctor
Paul McGann, “I’m a Doctor. Though not the one you we’re expecting.

But for me the best thing about the 50th anniversary celebrations wasn’t this 75 minute special.

It was the 8 minute mini-sode that the BBC put on the internet a few days earlier.

When I watched that and heard the voice say, “I’m a Doctor. Though NOT the one you were expecting,” I gasped as Paul McGann appeared on-screen for the first time since 1996. He utterly nailed his performance. And now we know who he came to regenerate into the War Doctor by sipping a potion created by the Sisterhood of Karn. “Will it hurt?” he asked almost knowingly.

For me this was the best 8 minutes of Doctor Who made by the BBC since they resurrected the show in 2005.

Now it’s your turn: Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who The Day of the Doctor? What did you think of it? Was it a success? Did it do justice to the anniversary? Please let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or post a link to your own review.