Tag Archives: TV

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.

A Silent Passenger – Review of Doctor Who Listen

It’s one of the scariest Doctor Who stories ever, but in Listen there isn’t actually a monster.

Unless of course you count an unknown something hiding beneath a red blanket on top of a bed.

A Silent Passenger - Review of Doctor Who Listen

Showrunner Steven Moffat succeeds again in tapping into our basic childhood fears. In the past he’s done statues that only move when you’re not looking at them. He’s had aliens we forget about once we can’t see them. Here he investigates the scary unknown monster that lives under the bed of every child in the world.

Who hasn’t had that dream of sitting on the edge of the bed, feet dangling, when a hand shoots out from the inky blackness beneath to grab your foot?

“Proposition – What if no one is ever really alone? What if every single living being has a companion, a silent passenger? A shadow. What if the prickle on the back of your neck is the breath of something close behind you?”

The Doctor goes in search of a monster that’s so good at hiding that we can never know it’s there. And we never do see it. It might not even exist. Could this be the first time in Doctor Who history where the perceived threat is entirely imagined?

And yet it’s terrifying.

When Clara is hiding under the bed with young Danny Pink, and something sits on the mattress above them, our pulses race.

Is this the monster sitting on the bed above them?

All we see is a red blanket covering….something.

Is it another child trying to scare them? Is it a squat little demon? And if the creature is an expert at hiding, the blanket trick is such a poor attempt at hiding that it can’t be the hiding expert can it?

We never find out though and the imagined creature is all the more scary for the lack of reveal.

We discover that the silent passenger that has accompanied the Doctor since childhood is fear itself. And fear is the most frightening monster of all.

Once again Jenna Coleman provides the resolution to the episode. Long time fans might be upset by their return to Gallifrey, her hiding under the “child Doctor’s” bed (grabbing his foot to create the nightmare he remembers so vividly), and gently telling the crying child that everything will be alright.

Of course the words Clara used were those she heard the Doctor say to young Danny earlier – so the source of the words becomes a typical timey whimey paradox.

And Peter Capaldi delivers his best performance yet. Moffat provides some great material for him to work with. He’s nailed the Doctor now and I look forward to many years of his portrayal.

However there are a few plot holes. If the Doctor‘s dream memory was actually created by Clara, why does everyone have the same dream?

“I think everybody at some point in their lives has the exact, same nightmare. You wake up, or you think you do, and there’s someone in the dark, someone close, or you think there might be. So you sit up, turn on the light, and the room looks different at night. It ticks and creaks and breathes. And you tell yourself there’s nobody there, nobody watching, nobody listening. Nobody there at all … and you very nearly believe it. You really, really try. And then … <hands reach out and grab ankles>. There are accounts of that dream throughout human history, time and time again, the same dream.”

But let’s not quibble too much about a thoroughly entertaining, scary and watchable episode of Doctor Who.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Listen? Are the monsters real and hiding or simply in the Doctor’s imagination? Please leave a comment or share a link to your own review.

This is my Spoon – Review of Doctor Who Robot of Sherwood

Three weeks into darker Doctor Peter Capaldi’s reign here’s a light-hearted fun romp which plays to the leading actors comedy roots.

It’s almost pantomime.

Review of Doctor Who Robot of Sherwood

The Doctor amuses us by believing that he’s in a medieval theme park trying to prove the inhabitants of Sherwood Forest are fakes. His heated interactions with Robin Hood are hilarious.

“I have no sword. I don’t need a sword. Because I am the Doctor and this is my spoon! En garde!”

Ben Miller’s quietly spoken Sheriff of Nottingham steels from Alan Rickman’s film portrayal of the same role. Jenna Coleman shines once again as she avoids the Sheriff’s seduction and instead finds out all his secrets.

Robin Hood and his Merry Men are… Well. Merry.

It’s well-played and funny but hardly a classic episode. I’ve not got much more to say about other than the scene they cut.

The BBC announced that they excised a scene where Robin Hood beheads the Sheriff only for the Sheriff’s head to continue talking revealing that he is in fact a robot. They performed the edit in sympathy to the brutal real life murder of a woman in London a few days before transmission.

You can find the cut scene on the internet if you look for it. And actually the title of the story makes more sense if you know the Sheriff is a robot.

But in truth the story works just as well with the edit. The Sheriff’s motivations are just as plausible if he was fully human than if he was half machine.

What I question is the BBC publicity machine’s real intention in making such a big deal about the edit in the media.

If they hadn’t mentioned it none of us would have been any the wiser. But by promoting the cut they drew attention to it and arguably upset the murder victim’s family more than had they left the scene intact but unpublicised.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my brief review of Doctor Who Robot of Sherwood? Please leave a comment or post a link to your own article or blog.

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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