30 April 2017

Doctor Who Thin Ice review

2017 Series Episode 3 - tx 29/04/17. Written by Sarah Dollard. Directed by Bill Anderson. Episode reviewed by Tim Worthington

In the December 1970 newsletter from The Doctor Who Fan Club, Pertwee-hungry fans could find out all that there was to know about the forthcoming new series. And that, really, wasn’t very much at all. The first story was identified as `Terror of the Autons`, which would introduce two new members of UNIT and was partly filmed on location at a factory; the second, `The Mind of Evil`, was about a mysterious box; the third would be called `Vampire From Space` (it wasn’t) and would involve UNIT investigating something; and the fourth absolutely nothing was known about. There was no mention of the fifth and final story, and surprisingly nothing about a certain new character called The Master. Other than tentative transmission times and dates, and the news that Patrick Troughton had recently ‘starred’ in `Little Women`, that was your lot. You can bet, however, that the readers were thrilled by every last word of that round-up, and this odd disparity between level of excitement and quantity of available information was a pattern that would repeat itself pretty much throughout Doctor Who’s original incarnation. Nowadays, of course, everything has changed. Material leaks ahead of broadcast, every last recording session has a glory-hunting forum-posting prat with a camera lurking somewhere on the perimeter, and tabloids fall over themselves in a bid to outdo each other in revealing embargoed details about Doctor Who for no other reason than because they can. And if you do try to avoid any of this, there’s always some jerk who will thrust it unbidden into your social media timeline under the misapprehension that they’re doing everyone a favour. Those fans who remember simpler times will no doubt have occasionally found themselves pining for the days of Radio Times listings actually seeming exciting, the press generously blanking The Special Weapons Dalek out of photos of an actual news story, and that all too familiar mantra The Final Three Part Story Does Not Have A Title As Yet. And, surprisingly, that’s exactly where I’d found myself right back to in the run-up to `Thin Ice`.

26 April 2017

Golden Mile Years - The Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition #2

Blackpool’s Doctor Who Exhibition had a perfect entrance. Sitting just off the main road but visible from it, a TARDIS exterior even larger than the `real` thing sat enticingly open. Colourful signs on the wall to your left invited the eager fan- who really needed no encouragement - to “Defy the Daleks” while clips from the series wafted through the air like sirens attracting their next victims! Not even the warning metallic command “Humanoids will stand still for identification. The TARDIS is under Dalek control” could deter the eager fan. The only ordinary feature of any of this was a toll booth and the fact that the ticket was a generic one without any souvenir value at all as it doesn’t mention what you’ve paid for. However it did only cost 30p! Still that ticket is soon stuffed into a back pocket as you negotiate a descent into darkness. Quite a daring entrance for a public display- normally the sort of thing you’d expect from a ghost train. This long staircase and the fact that from the top you couldn’t see what was down there but you could hear all sorts of noises gave a sense that you really were descending into another world.

24 April 2017

Doctor Who Smile review

2017 Series Episode 2 - tx 22/04/17. Written by Frank Cottrell- Boyce. Directed by Lawrence Gough. Episode reviewed by Estelle Hargraves

Episode 2 continues the “jumping-on point” to Who that Steven Moffatt provided in The Pilot last week. That was all about setting the scene, introducing the basics of the characters and solving a present-day mystery which, in classic-Moffatt fashion, was all about making an everyday object (in this case, a puddle) mysterious and sinister. As the series continues, there appears to be the beginnings of a whistle stop tour of the classic elements of Doctor Who – in Smile, the Doctor gives not-quite-official-companion-yet Bill Potts the option of an adventure in the past or future and Bill shows just how eager she is to explore the unknown by immediately choosing the future, “to see if it’s happy.”

19 April 2017

NEW SERIES Golden Mile Years- The Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition # 1

The Doctor himself never quite got to Blackpool yet hundreds of thousands of his fans certainly did. Sitting incongruously on the resort’s famous Golden Mile, a large blue police box signalled the entrance to the Doctor Who Exhibition which ran from 1974 to 1985. Sounds from the show- we’d call them samples now- drifted along the road as you approached, images lined the adjacent wall. As a build- up it was brilliant. Then there was that big blue box itself; actually larger in dimensions than the `real` thing and because we were kids it looked even larger. Step inside and for a moment the real world intervenes as you have to pay and you get a rather insignificant ticket with no actual mention of what you were attending on it. Then you descend steep steps and now the outside world is truly gone. Instead it is semi dark with music, dialogue extracts and odd noises playing and lying ahead a series of displays, each beautifully staged and lit, stretching ahead along a winding corridor. The centrepiece is a TARDIS console replica around which sit screens through which we see even more detailed displays containing monsters and props. There’s even a shop at the end containing more merchandise than any fan in those days had ever seen. Even when you climbed the steps and found yourself in a large cafĂ©, the Doctor Who experience lingered courtesy of the echoes from the exhibition which must have driven the staff crazy after several months! 

16 April 2017

NEW SERIES Doctor Who The Pilot review

2017 Series Episode 1 tx 15/04/17. Written by Steven Moffatt. Directed by Lawrence Gough. Episode reviewed by John Connors 
Chips, lemon drops and macaroons! 
Modern Doctor Who is now an old series. 12 years on screen and counting.  The newness has worn off, the freshly painted exterior needs a fresh coat. Under such circumstances- and having admitted publicly this is the series too far, the one he initially had to be persuaded to make - it would be easy to expect Steven Moffat to brew something dark, bitter and even uncommitted. However `The Pilot` from its cheeky title in is so fresh and totally committed you wonder whether secretly a new showrunner has already arrived and he’s still called Steven Moffat! This episode is such a leap from last series’ darker hues that it feels like the whole team has overdosed on jelly babies!