Friday, May 31, 2013

DOCTOR WHO REVIEW - Nightmare in Silver

Nightmare in Silver
Now we’re cooking with gas, or to be more accurate, Neil Gaiman is. I said in my review of Cold War that it was nudging The Snowmen and Asylum of the Daleks in quality. Nightmare in Silver is right up alongside those two – rating as one of the best Nu-Who’s of them all, and definitely the best Nu-Who Cyberman story.
This season has been a little uneven, but the consistent note of excellence has been Matt Smith – and in this story he is better than ever. He gets to play the Doc (of course) but is also on fire as the Doctor possessed (implanted?) by the Cyber-planner consciousness. I’ve often found a lack of strong villain characters in Nu-Who, but this season has made amends (Daleks being supremely villainous, that nasty sod with the Dinosaurs, The Great Intelligence, Celia Imrie, the Ice Warrior, Diana Rigg) – and Smith, himself, provides possibly the best.
There is strong support all round – the soldiers are great, Warwick Davis is wonderful and Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara is now firing on all cylinders – being put in charge by the Doc, and making sure that no one blows up the planet.
The Cybermen get a thorough upgrade (naturally). Part of me worried that they were turning a bit Borg, especially the implants and ability to upgrade on the fly. However, as we Who fans all know, the Borg were ripped-off Cybermen in the first place (I’m ashamed to say that the Borg were the Cybermen done right) so I see this episode as just the Cybermen retaining their place as THE sci-fi cyborg/ robot men type of villain. Frankly, even The Terminator would have trouble against these Cybermen.
The story has mystery, then pace, then action, then scariness, then a big reveal, and then a big explosion. What more do you want?
Next time – The Name of the Doctor. Which has some of my UK chums in a right tizzy – in a good way....

And now, can I possibly make some sense out of this flash fic story?

Consequences of Time - Episode Seven

“Would you be the Frozen Terror?” asked the Doctor.
Graf started walking forwards. The wind began to pick up again.
“Stop,” shouted the Doctor. Graf halted. The wind died.
“So?” shrugged the Doctor. Beside him, Graf gasped.
“All wind stops,” said Graf. “No wind, no power, no people.”
“Wind happens naturally. You don’t need people to fuel it,” said the Doctor.
The Doctor used the Sonic Screwdriver. Not good, not good at all.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Doctor Who - The Crimson Horror Review

The Crimson Horror

And to think, I wasn’t looking forward to this one. How wrong can you be? This was an absolute corker. Mark Gatiss, who wrote the earlier corker “Cold War” produces the goods again.
I was ready to hate Strax – but he wins me over, he is a comedy character but he is let loose to be a proper warrior as well.
Perhaps the Victorian era is overly used in Nu-Who, but the Doc has a very solid reason to go there as part of the quest to figure out what/ who Clara is.
Our Silurian and her lady-friend are on good form investigating the weird goings-on, and actually rescuing the Doc (to some extent). Smith, as always, is on excellent form, and JLC finally gets a decent outing as Clara – bringing the sauciness and sassiness of her debut stories.
With Diana Rigg, we have a proper villain – a thoroughly nasty piece of work, perfectly willing to do nasty experiments on her own daughter (played by her actual real daughter, Rachael Stirling). Stirling is superb, blind, disfigured, abandoned yet still capable of compassion and fury. And Rigg is a villain to the end – as she dies she asks her daughter “Can you forgive me?” The daughter replies “never”. “That’s my girl,” says Mum with pride before her last gasp.
All that AND a sort of cliff-hanger/ lead-in to next week as the kids that Clara nannies for discover her time-travelling antics (although Clara seems bemused by the pic of her in Victorian London...) and insist she takes them along...
....along to meet the Cybermen in the next episode it seems..

And now, fanfic/ flashfic..

Consequences of Time – Episode 6
The wind stopped. “That’s better,” said the Doctor. He looked up, but didn’t let Graf go.
“What have you done?” grunted Graf, his voice muffled with his face in the snow.
The snow, which had obscured everything, was now settling. A dark shape ahead was materializing as the view became clearer.
“Your frozen terror,” said the Doctor, letting Graf raise his head.
“What is it?” he asked. The Doctor climbed off. Both men stood.
“No idea,” said the Doctor as he walked towards the large, black cube.
“STOP RIGHT THERE, OR DIE!” boomed a huge, electronic voice. The Doctor stopped.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Doctor Who Review - Journey to the Centre of the Tardis

At first glance, there was a lot to like here. Creepy monsters chasing our heroes (and villains) around the surreal depths of the Tardis – all very well realised and managing to overcome a severe case of “running down corridors”. Alternate console rooms, a library with the “History of the Last Great Time War” and the Eye of Harmony itself. Unfortunately, it’s all too obvious for a story set on the Tardis to go nowhere – and that’s precisely where this story goes.
A gormlessly contrived reason for the Tardis “crashing” on a salvage ship (they turn off the security settings so Clara can have a go at flying the Tardis, in an attempt to get the Tardis to like her). Three brothers (or rather two and an android) who come from a long line of grubby workmen in space (Alien, Darkstar, The Impossible Planet, 42 and so on...) decide they will tear the Tardis apart. Oh come on – seriously, a bog-standard salvage crew try to take on the Tardis?
To be fair, I quite liked the brothers – they were interesting enough, enough amorality without being actually evil and even a fair bit of genuine good.
Smith, as always, on excellent form. JLC, on good form, but again given little by the script. There’s a possible revelation in the library, a neat plot twist about the salvage crew, a thundering confrontation between Clara and the Doc, a rip-roaring cliff-hanger as the monsters trap the Doc and Clara on a bridge across a seething fire or vortex or something....
And then, as too often happens with nu-Who, especially the Moffat version, the Doc hits the reset button and everything is sorted out again. Tardis goes merrily on its way and so do the salvage boys with never the twain having met.
I assume this Clara storyline is going somewhere – despite Clara being none the wiser, I guess she has to have some important timey-wimey place in the scheme of things. Maybe she’ll turn out to be Amy’s mother or something.
Next week we have The Crimson Terror – with the ridiculous comedy Sontaran, Strax. I don’t like Steampunk, and I’d rather have my Sontarans being Born to Fight warriors instead of jokes. I am looking forward to it, honest.

However, it’s all very well for me to criticise – can I do any better?

Consequences of Time – Episode Part 5
The people started running, into the storm and where the severed head had come from.
“Stop,” screamed the Doctor but his voice vanished in the howling of the wind. More body parts were flying back, blood sprayed through the swirling snow, red and white stripes flew through the air.
The Doctor ran after them. Graf, the last in the line stumbled and looked back at the Doctor. “I must,” he shouted.
“No, you don’t,” shouted the Doctor. He hit Graf with a rugby tackle and the two slammed into the icy ground. “Now, what happens if we stay here then?”

Friday, May 10, 2013

Doctor Who Review - Hide

“Hide” starts off as a ghost story, and a good one too. The ghost is suitably whispy and creepy and even quite scary. The streams of fuzzy photos with the ghost’s face in full Scream mode are very good at making the point.
The Doctor and Clara wander in; Matt Smith is superb as usual, Clara still seems to wonder why she is there (the character, Jenna-Louise Coleman is a great actress but the character seems a bit stuck).
Of course, this is Doctor Who, so the supernatural isn’t supernatural at all. The story flips direction as the Doc reveals what’s really going on – a traveler trapped in time is providing the ghosty-ness.
The monster chasing the time traveler is suitably horrible, although the time-traveler doesn’t get a character at all. The whole story has a final twist when the Doc realizes that the monster isn’t being monstrous at all, it just wants to get back with its mate that has been trapped in “our” universe.
Solid stuff, scary when it needed to be, neat sci-fi twists and a pretty smart resolution. I can’t see this becoming a classic, but it is a decent story that continues to put this season on track after its first couple of stuttering episodes.
And on...

Consequences of Time Part 4
The Doctor stumbled in snow, followed by Graf, the terrified sacrifice. The truck sprayed ice as it sped away. The others staggered in hysterics, all with no place to go.
A howl echoed around them. Ppeople starting walking towards the sound.
“Maybe we should head away from the terror?” shouted the Doc. Graf stopped. He was very conflicted.
“I don’t want to die,” he screamed, “but I must go”.
Another howl came with a ground-shaking thump. A dark flurry swished through and a woman vanished with a scream.
Moments later, the severed head flew back, bouncing at the Doctor’s feet.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Doctor Who Review - Cold War

Now this is more like it. The very welcome and excellent return of the Ice Warriors (well, one of them anyway). A serious villain, with serious power and strength in a smart setting with a great bunch of supporting characters. Definitely the best episode since Xmas, and only a smidge behind The Snowmen and Asylum of the Daleks.
What’s to like?
The setting – in the midst of the cold war, and trapped on a Soviet, nuclear submarine, with the Tardis deciding to do a bunk just as the sh*t hits the fan. The submarine is suitably claustrophobic, and also starting to come apart. Water is sloshing everywhere and reminding everyone of just where they are – trapped a kilometer or so underwater.
Supporting characters – the Captain, played by Liam Cunningham and fresh from a great role in Game of Thrones, is superb. He’s loyal to the motherland but also fully aware of the threat that his vessel represents. The second in charge is far more ideologically driven and you know he is bound to be the one who will be plunging the situation towards a full-on nuclear war.
And of course the GREAT David Warner – playing a cynical Soviet scientist with a love for Western 80’s syntho-pop. Warner is someone that would play a superb Doctor (and has on the “Unbound” Big Finish audios). He’s on good form here, although it would have been better to have more of him.
Smith is, as usual, terrific. Clara is warming up nicely – stepping up to face the Ice Warrior alone (shades of Rose and the Dalek) but there’s no cozying up to the monster here.
The Ice Warrior – Skaldek is his name and he’s apparently a 5000 year old Martian legend. The Ice Warrior design is subtly updated, and retains its bulky power and strength. Skaldek has character too – he has warrior’s code of honour, he’s smart, devious and brutally murderous when it’s called for. A great touch was letting us see a full Ice Warrior’s face for the first time (and was it slightly Silurian-ish? But then, both species/ races are reptilian – maybe a distant evolutionary connection?).
Cold War is a terrific nod-wink to the old base-under-siege of Troughton’s time – but has enough additional oomph to make it solid 21st century Who.
Next time – “Hide” – hmmm, haunted house....
And on with the flash-fic/ fan fic:

Consequences of Time – Episode 3
“We’re going to the Frozen Terror?” asked the Doctor.
“Yes,” the terrified man replied. “We must go. Sacrifices are needed to keep the Terror from consuming the world.” The other, scared people nodded.
The Doctor checked his sonic screwdriver. It would be easy to stop the truck. Probably not hard to disable the guards, turn around and rescue the “sacrifices”. But that wouldn’t stop this terror thing.
“Is it much further?”
The scared man checked his watch. “Should be any time now.”
The truck lurched to a halt. A howl, that made the steel walls vibrate, screeched through the air.