29 May 2017

Doctor Who The Pyramid at the End of the World review

2017 Series Episode 7 - tx 29/05/17. Written by Steven Moffat and Peter Harness. Directed by Daniel Nettheim. Episode reviewed by Estelle Hargraves.
Mid-way through an unusual three-parter, `The Pyramid at the End of the World` brings us more of the Monks from last weeks `Extremis`, this time in real life instead of cyberspace. Some might see the last episode as ultimately a waste of time, given that it involved a computer simulation. A programme run by the Monks to determine the most vulnerable point in Earth's history for their invasion, being a simulation, meant nothing much happened in the real world other than the Doctor receiving an email to himself about the Monk's hitherto invisible threat.

24 May 2017

Golden Mile Years - The Blackpool Doctor Who Fan Gathering

The popularity of the Blackpool Exhibition inspired an informal fan get together initiated by Jeremy Bentham and later run by David Howe. Basically, it was a bunch of maybe 70 or 80 fans spending a weekend in the North's loudest seaside resort their time roughly divided between the Exhibition, the hotel bar and all points in between. It went something like this. Arrive mid Friday afternoon and grab a taxi to the long suffering Lyric Hotel who each year put up with being invaded by fans with the overflow being seconded in the Brunswick two doors down. Quite what precautions the hotel in between took remains unknown. The weekend had a theme which would run through the video presentations that took place at scheduled times starting on Friday evening. Yes, we're back in the days when people didn't have every story at home though it's surprising to look back at how reverently a lot of these episodes were watched, although nobody was under any obligation to view them if they didn't want to. 

21 May 2017

Doctor Who Extremis review

2017 Series Episode 6 - tx 20/05/17. Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Daniel Nettheim. Episode reviewed by John Connors.
“Particle physicists and priests… what could scare them both?”
After five weeks of banter, action and pacy plots, some viewers may find this episode’s change of tone disconcerting. Consisting of lengthy dialogue heavy scenes and an undercurrent of impending doom it has the heft of a prestigious drama and the ambition of a big screen movie. There is plenty going on, it’s just that it is not all going on at top speed. This is Doctor Who at its high concept best.

20 May 2017

Golden Mile Years - The Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition #5

By 1983 it seemed as if perhaps there had been some sort of backblast backlash – how else to explain the fact that this year the corridors were extremely dark with the carpet or floor or whatever being more like an inky void. The exhibits ranged from a Gundan that seemed to be headbanging through a line up of the Time Lord council, Omega and his bird (the Ergon), a Dalek running rings around a totally out of it Davros and displays from `Mawdryn Undead` and `Terminus` One exhibit in the corridor was a montage of various costumes but sadly only lit up once an hour! Darkness was in that year!

19 May 2017

Something very wonderful and strange!

Why does a two part story broadcast 33 years ago leave such a strong impression? Maybe it’s because while it contains many elements you might expect to encounter in an Eighties Doctor Who story, `The Awakening` cuts out a lot of the filler that often extended stories unnecessarily cutting to the essence of the series. In a lot of ways it’s similar to the series we have now- 50 minutes of mystery, excitement. It is indeed something very wonderful and strange! Little was known by fans about Eric Pringle before he wrote it and the story proved to be his sole contribution to Doctor Who. This always seemed a shame as he appeared to have found a way to create a well thought out story packed with interesting characters, an alien with real visual impact and romps along at quite a rate. I used to think it should have been 3 parts but now I realise it is perfect as it is.

15 May 2017

Doctor Who Oxygen review

2017 Series Episode 5 - tx 13/05/17. Written by Jamie Mathieson. Directed by Charles Palmer. Episode reviewed by Sean Alexander. 
“You only really see the true face of the universe when it’s asking for your help.” 
The ‘elephant in the room’ irony of this tenth run of revived Doctor Who is that as the quality continues to build, so less and less of the mainstream audience feels compelled to tune in on increasingly balmy Saturday evenings.  Blame barbecues, blame the convenience of modern catch-up television, blame even the interminable Eurovision results.  But don’t blame it on the boogie.  And boogie is an apt epithet for a show that has now undoubtedly got its mojo back after five series of increasingly tortuous and convoluted (or “timey-wimey”, in apologist speak) narrative that has seen the Doctor rebooted to anything from imaginary fairy-tale friend to prophesied hybrid standing in the ruins of Gallifrey’s fall.  On his farewell lap of honour, Steven Moffat has either finally seen some of the error of his ways or the thought of being unshackled from the most demanding (and demanded) of television hot-seats has rebooted his own creativity to somewhere between 2005 and 2008 vintage.  

14 May 2017

Golden Mile Years - The Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition #4

By the early 1980s the Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition had become established as a major attraction for the resort and a destination for fans from all over the UK who would badger their parents to let them go. Each year the exhibits would change so as to include costumes and props from that year’s series. By 1981 Doctor Who itself had changed with a refreshed look and a new Doctor in the form of Peter Davison. The final Tom Baker series though was in the spotlight for the 1981 displays with something from each story which you could see for the entrance fee which was now 40p! 

12 May 2017

How to deal with changes in Doctor Who

Things on a long running television programme cannot stay the same and they will change which doesn’t always sit well with people. Fans however are well versed in the art of dealing with change and it seems appropriate, as we wait for a new Doctor to be announced, to bring together the sum of their experiences. When these things happen all you have to do to get through it is follow the standard response patterns in this handy dandy guide. Just work your way through each step and you’ll be fine. There, there.

#1 A new Doctor is cast. “Who’s Next? It’s Patrick Housego!”
  • OMG Not Patrick Housego
  • He will ruin the series
  • He’d be better off cast as The Master
  • Actually he was ok in that historical series
  • Oh the costume looks ok
  • Maybe he won’t be too bad
  • He’s the best Doctor since Tom Baker
  • I hope he never leaves
  • What! He’s leaving after only three years. The series is finished!!

10 May 2017

Doctor Who Knock Knock review

2017 Series Episode 4 - tx 06/05/17. Written by Mike Bartlett. Directed by Bill Anderson. Episode reviewed by Robert Stanley

Bearing in mind this is the series that Steven Moffat didn't want to make, it's found it's mojo again. All thanks to a back-to-basics “Year Zero” approach which sees the Doctor having mellowed a lot during his years of exile on Earth, only for the arrival of Bill Potts to spark him back into life. After three well-received stories effectively re-introducing the concept of Doctor and companion travelling through space and time, it's down to `Knock Knock` to keep up the momentum. I've come to this year's run completely fresh having managed to largely avoid previews and spoilers, and all I knew of this story was “it's a bit scary”. It's hard to get a “scary” story right, because what scares somebody may be met by indifference by somebody else: that was the challenge facing Mike Bartlett in his first Who script. Nowadays the vogue in horror films is for impossibly good-looking teenagers to expire in a variety of inventive and gory ways; not an option for BBC1 Saturday evenings, so Bartlett looks to Buffy for inspiration (with a bit of Scooby-Doo for good measure: look at how the kids run around the house in a straight line). “Buffy” of course had the twin advantages of sharp dialogue and a cast which could bring it to life: the youngsters playing the housemates had a go, but with the exception of Paul none of these characters had any real, well, character. And they definitely come off second best alongside the regulars. I get the impression that the housemates were written as such to get the Daily Mail frothing at the mouth like it did last week (and indeed, the BBC and Bartlett got a full front page rant the next day, albeit for his King Charles play rather than Doctor Who).

3 May 2017

Golden Mile Years - The Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition #3

By 1976 the Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition had established itself as one of the resort’s premier attractions and once again the contents had evolved. This year the displays began at the foot of the staircase over which a Pteradactyl from 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' was suspended and then there was a  `Terror of the Zygons'  display featuring Broton and another Zygon with bits of their organic technology; all lit spookily behind glass casing to give an underwater effect.  On the wall beside this was some artwork depicting the first three Doctors transforming one to another. Next was a full size Krynoid with some of its tentacles thrashing madly; close up this really did seem impressive.