Saturday, 30 June 2012

Issue 10 - DOWNLOAD NOW!!!

What connects a blue man, a toilet and Steven Moffat's face?

Why, it's Issue 10 of Fish Fingers and Custard!

Now celebrating two years on the fanzine scene, we continue to bring you all the goings-on in the Doctor Who underground.  Though, we're more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, than Rat.

In the latest Issue we have:
  • Our view on the casting of Jenna-Louise Coleman
  • Interview with Simon Fisher-Becker aka Dorium Maldovar
  • Six Appeal - what one Doctor means to a young boy
  • Season 18 - A Breath of Life, or A Strangulation?
  • Which Fan Group Are You?
  • Monster In The Bathroom - Our brand new comic!
And much more besides!

You can download this Issue by clicking here (right-click and save) if you're feeling rather flush and would like to support the fanzine, you can purchase a paper copy here

If you want to contribute to any future Issues, please e-mail your work fishcustardfanzine@googlemail.com and one of our handsome Robomen will get back to you.

Cheers!

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 3 - Victory of The Daleks

What We First Thought: Oh, is that it?

The Daleks eh? I’ve never been as fascinated with them as other people seem to be.  You’ll always hear “Well, Doctor Who isn’t Doctor Who without The Daleks”, but that’s not really true, is it? Despite being The Doctor for 7 years, Tom Baker only had two stories with them and his era was arguably the best ever.  Fair enough, this may have something to do with Terry Nation hoarding the rights, but it still points to the fact that Doctor Who doesn’t need Daleks to be successful.

The 2005 series though is an altogether different animal.  Like a Tiger with pink and blue stripes. We’ve had at least a Dalek cameo every single year since it returned.  Now the cynic in me believes that the fact that they appear every year, is due to a deal with the estate of Terry Nation, but that’s just idle gossip and probably not true.  What IS true, is that The Daleks are a huge moneymaking factory for BBC Worldwide – so there’s your answer.  It’s just extremely disappointing when we watch a Dalek story these days.  What stories since 2005’s ‘Dalek’ have actually contributed anything to the mythos behind them? Please don’t mention the Human Dalek – a concept that was hideously realised, before being dumped on its arse.  To be honest, I quite enjoy a good Dalek story. On audio. Big Finish’ Dalek Empire series have done more to build upon the Daleks than the New Series has ever achieved in 6 years - Human Daleks, Pig Slaves and silly re-designs included.  People may say that making money will only help the show in the long-run, but does it really help in creating a decent story?

When I look at Victory of The Daleks as an whole, it’s screaming out to be spilt into two episodes - there is just too much to cram into 40 minutes.  We’ve got plotlines flying all over the place, the direction is very shaky and the pacing is just very patchy in places.  Didn’t the creation of a new Dalek race deserve more explanation?  Didn’t these new Daleks need to be paraded for a bit longer? Didn’t Bracewell and the girl who lost her husband, deserve a bit more backstory?  Not to mention the Second World War setting, Amy’s first past adventure and how and why were The Doctor and Winston Churchill friends?  It’s a real shame, because with a bit more room to breathe, Victory of The Daleks had all the elements of a classic.  Yes, and I’m including the iDaleks in that statement!

To be fair to the episode though, it did have its moments.  I found it very intriguing that The Daleks sided with the British, rather than the Nazis, who they share most of their characteristics with.  It was also a nice change to see the Daleks win for once, which can only give The Doctor more headaches in the future.  Ian McNiece was very good as Churchill, and I think people should remember that he was doing a caricature -  the amount of cigars he had and usage of the pharse ‘KBO’, should prove that! 

Bracewell being an android was another intriguing element and despite plenty of scorn being poured upon it by fandom, I bought the scene in which he had to remember his (stolen) life to deactivate the bomb inside him.  It’s like when you see someone who is upset or angry and you make them remember something nice (calm them down basically) that way, they aren’t likely to ‘explode’ and cause themselves harm.  And if you think of it in that sense, that is what makes Bracewell human – he has feelings like the rest of us.  It was also interesting to see that The Doctor, who isn’t human, wasn’t able to convince Bracewell that he had human feelings.  It took a real human, with real human feelings (Amy) to make him realise.  I thought that was a nice touch and provided one bright spark in this otherwise disappointing episode.

Perhaps I’ve touched on the Daleks too much, but again, there’s elements of the plot that make little sense to this GCSE-educated simpleton.  How on earth did the Progenitor device recognise The Doctor’s voice?  He couldn’t have met any previous Daleks in his future, as they don’t exist. Or will they? You see, I’ve confused myself now, perhaps a DNA identification was too much to ask?  As mentioned, I liked Bracewell but would The Doctor really leave an android walking around the 1940’s?  Letting him go was nice, very typical of The Doctor and was a great moment in the episode, but still, it was a bit silly not to include a better line to explain why he should be fine!

And ‘a bit silly’ is a phrase that best sums up Victory of The Daleks.

KBO

What We Think Now: Oh, is that it?

Your (5-word) Reviews:

David MacGowan: "Fun space battle! Shit Daleks..."
@Mr_Brell: "Filler, plus dreadful new Daleks!" 
@AbelUndercity: "Candy-colored Daleks? Whovians: Meh" 
@JayMcIntyre1: "Modernized Cushing Daleks, not bad"
@abby_queenofall"Wish Matt Smith would regenerate"

If you would like to contribute a 5-word review for Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, please @ us on Twitter, using the hashtag #ComfyChair, or post on our Facebook Page!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 2 - The Beast Below


What We First Thought: It’s alright…

It’s 1996. One of the best years in my young life. England are hosting Euro 96 (where we beat Scotland, Holland and then Spain on penalties. Then my little heart was broken by a German man, as Andreas Moller scored the winning penalty in a shoot-out in the Semi-Final. Bastard), it’s also the height of Britpop, the summer was hot, and there’s some excellent children’s programming. Like many kids my age, I loved a programme called The Demon Headmaster.  I suppose you could call it a ‘Children’s Sci-fi Drama’, where a very strange man, posing as a Headmaster, would use children for ‘scientific purposes’.  In later Series’ he would move on to establish a scientific base and continue his experiments and just generally be a pain for the kids who tried to stop him.  You probably couldn’t make anything like this today, in fear of The Daily Mail Brigade getting their knickers in a twist, over a man in his 50’s hypnotising children to do his bidding.  But being 10 years old, the show was genuinely scary - and it must have been decent - it was even nominated for a BAFTA!

That was my childhood. I had no Doctor Who to affect me whilst growing up. It was just this scary grey-haired man who I had nightmares about, not Daleks or god forbid, Quarks.  So imagine my surprise when the actor who played that nightmarish man, Terrence Hardiman, popped up in the second episode of Series 5 of the revived Doctor Who! And yes, I haven’t forgot about The Beast Below, which ironically, is probably forgettable as Doctor Who episodes go!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s alright, but it’s not about to push to the front of my top episodes list.

I found it interesting that this story was set during the 29th Century, after solar flares burnt the earth.  This is an obvious call-back to The Ark In Space and I found it intriguing that there were other plans for people to escape Earth, as I got the impression that the people in the Ark(s) were the only ones who had survived.  Another classic call-back (or rip-off?) was the Star Whale.  Now in my notes for this episode, I kept writing ‘Space Whale’ by accident, as that was the name of a similar creature for a story (‘Song of The Space Whale’) purposed by Pat Mills and John Wagner in 1980.  It’s a very intriguing concept, which was revisited by Big Finish in the shape of ‘The Song of Megaptera’ (possibly changed for obvious clash reasons), released in May 2010. Now I’m not accusing anyone of anything (as if I would!) but this – and many other ‘Lost Stories’ - would have been something very interesting to touch on, in the Confidential or on a DVD Extra.  Not to mention anything at all was a bit disappointing and an opportunity was missed in educating a new fan about the long (and sometimes confusing – if not explained properly) past of Doctor Who.

The story itself was made up out of plenty of decent bits that just didn’t quite fit together.  One element I did love though – was the comparisons with the Space Whale and The Doctor.  At the end, Amy’s speech about ‘What would you do, if you were so old, so wise, so lonely and you saw a child crying?’ just sums up The Doctor (I’m paraphrasing, probably incorrectly, but you get the idea).  The shot of him comforting/trying to steal off the young girl, whilst Amy was thinking he was still in the TARDIS (so was still talking to him!) was fantastic and a moment which you can use to sum up Matt’s Doctor. Or any Doctor, really.  Steven Moffat can see the importance of using children in his stories to appeal to the children watching, which will get them involved in the on-going narrative (just like the makers of Demon Headmaster did 14 years previously, no doubt!)  Although everyone seems to forget that The Star Whale ate adults.  So much for youth development!

My real gripe about The Smilers was that they were built up to be some sort of ‘big monster’ but in reality, were about on the level of Rose Tyler, in terms of scariness.  To be fair though, I did enjoy their role of ‘Policemen’ in this Police State, that The Doctor refers too.  A comment on the modern world, maybe? Though the moral dilemma of Starship UK was a good one, I just felt that it was a little too convenient.  Would parents really allow their children to be put into such danger? (yes I know The Beast doesn’t eat children – but they do seem to be used as slaves by The Demon Headmaster!)

On its first airing, Matt seemed to get a bit of flak for his rant about humans.  I know plenty of humans, and a good proportion are bastards.  Why is it surprising that The Doctor went off on one after he found out they were torturing this beautiful creature?  A creature, may I add, who he identifies with, as mentioned above.  How many times has he been on the wrong end of a nasty human?  You have to say though, that Matt was fantastic once again.  His delivery of line telling Amy about his race being gone, was just beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.  Under another regime, that plot-point could have dragged on and on, but all it took was one line, and some great acting.

I’ve been prattling on for so long that I’ve not even talked about the other characters yet!  I really enjoyed Liz 10’s performance (played by Sophie Okonedo – who was also companion Alison Cheney in a Doctor Who webcast ‘Scream of The Shalka’, which starred Richard E. Grant as The Doctor).  I thought she really was convincing as the Queen who had to go through the agony at finding out the moral dilemma she created, every 10 years or so. Which is saying a lot, considering she was an all-action, plain-talking (and likeable) descendent of the current Royal Family! 

It was nice to see Amy at the heart of the action this time around.  Her quick-thinking at the end saved the day, and quite possibly The Doctor’s sanity!  I think plenty of people go overboard with their criticisms when dissecting the character of Amelia Jessica Pond, but her contribution to this episode definitely goes into her credit bank.  The only real disappointing characterisation, was the lack of screen time for The Demon Headmaster.  Earlier on, what with his natural ability to act really creepy, you could be forgiven in thinking that he was behind the whole thing!  I felt we just needed more of that throughout the episode, which at barely 40 minutes – needed a bit more padding out!  After previously watching Mr Hardiman playing a very camp gentleman in a few episodes of ‘The Worst Week of My Life’, it was a very welcome return to form for my favourite Jack Straw look-a-like and the only man who scared me in 1996, apart from Andreas Moller (he’s still a bastard).

What We Think Now: It’s a bit better than I thought it was.  Although I don’t think those Laughing Clown booths (that they used to have at fairgrounds) have anything to fear from The Smilers.

(Yes, I know that 1996 was the year that Doctor Who: The Movie came out. I just can’t remember it being advertised!)




Your (5 word) reviews of The Beast Below:

 Nicola Pilkington: "Changing my opinion of Amy"

Andrew Myers:Better on the fourth watch”

@JayMcIntyre1:Matt has Colin Baker moment”

@Mr_Brell: “Shame. Such a wasted opportunity”

@dalekwidow: “Doctor and Queen free whale”

@CarlisleWhoFan: “not Moffatt's best, still entertaining”

@Landcross: “Not Moffat's best, still good”

@abby_queenofall: “Liz 10 is totes shaggable”

If you would like to contribute a 5-word review for Victory of The Daleks, please @ us on Twitter, using the hashtag #idaleks, or post on our Facebook Page!

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 1 - The Eleventh Hour

In the run-up to the new series, we’re going to do a Cher. No, we’re not going to have a facelift that makes us look frightening to young children and animals, we’re going to turn back time and find a way to review every episode of the Matt Smith Era so far. We’re going to re-watch every episode and see if our original reactions to them differ from now.  First up is The Eleventh Hour, which obviously provided the title for this fanzine!

What we first thought: This is the best thing since discovering that the off-licence up the road doesn’t ask you for ID.

I’ll preface this by saying that I gushed like a Teenager at a Justin Bieber concert when I first watched this.  The general ‘even though I’ve never seen him in a episode yet…’ negativity towards Matt Smith from supposed fans, made me want this first episode to succeed so much that they would crawl back into their holes and never hear from their miserable gobs again.  More importantly, it needed to be good to capture the imagination of the fickle viewing public, after the success of the David Tennant Era.  And you know what? I believe they pulled it off in some style - Matt’s triumphant walk through the mournful face of Tennant, left us in no doubt that this man IS The Doctor!  I really love this episode and I’m going to make no apology for this somewhat biased review.

It’s 2010 and the Doctor Who fandom is spilt.  There are those that are so distraught at the departure of David Tennant (and to some extent, RTD) that they weren’t prepared to give Matt Smith and Steven Moffat a chance, in turn not getting what the show is about.  REGENERATION is the key word and like its central character, Doctor Who has always changed and adapted.  Then there were those who were excited (perhaps a bit too excited) about this new era of Doctor Who, that expectations went through the roof  What Steven Moffat had to do, was to start well from his clean slate and establish his Doctor Who quickly.

Moffat is a writer that likes to play with the imaginations of children and watching this episode back has made me realise what a genius piece of writing it is.  From the very first scenes when The Doctor meets Amelia, you can see just by looking at the scene and listening to the words used, that this has been made to engage a child and hook them into the story.  Lines like ‘You know when grown-ups tell you everything is going to be fine and you know that they’re probably lying, to make you feel better’ will just hit home with some kids (and possibly some adults too!)  What’s more poetic is that Amelia and this new Doctor are children.  Many a Keyboard Warrior may get angry at this, but Doctor Who is primarily made for Children.  Yes, it is described as a family drama, but how can a family drama be a family drama with no children watching?  That’s how you get your viewers – parents of kids will watch something if their child is interested in it.  That’s how Doctor Who has worked for nearly 50 years and always will.  Trying to ‘adultise’ Doctor Who simply doesn’t work (see the 1996 TVM). 

The story has somewhat become a sideshow, what with me banging on about Doctor Who in general, but after watching this again, I can understand a bit more about Amy’s backstory.  It’s very much in the vein of ‘Boxset Telly’, where TV shows are now made for the commercial market, so are designed to be watched over-and-over again.  I don’t particularly subscribe to the view that you need to watch this episode (or series) over-and-over again to understand it, as everything you need to know is in plain sight.  But I think it adds another dimension to the characters if you go back, knowing what you know.  You can see how much planning has gone into creating these people and their stories.

What more can I say about Matt Smith? He sold me pretty much from his first scenes in the TARDIS in The End of Time.  You can see that child-like enthusiasm in his face when he first meets Amelia, which is probably a major reason in her trusting this strange man.  I got a ‘Doctor Reborn’ mantra from this first episode and everything about it seemed to be starting from afresh.  I’m not talking about the theme or the titles, but the actual direction and lighting of the episode.  I remember watching it for the first time and the picture just seemed so different.  The bright colours of the RTD were gone, with little Amelia all alone in her scary house - and the picture just made the house look cold.  There are many ways which you can scare people without any lines or action being played out, and this is one of them.

As mentioned above, some of the lines in this episode are pure gold.  Another one I particularly enjoyed was the ‘Am I People?’ comment from The Doctor to Amelia, just before he left her.  Here’s a girl that has been let down throughout her short life by people and here comes a strange man who she thinks the world of, barely an hour after meeting. The acting is superb too – that resulting smile from Amelia and the look of hope and happiness in her eyes when The Doctor is about to jump back in the TARDIS...then he had to spoil it all by turning up years late!  Despite being a bit upsetting, it’s still one of favourite scenes – she’s sat there on her suitcase with a massive smile on her face and we know that he’s not coming back.

The rest of the story was an absolute breeze, as an hour and a bit passed extremely quickly.  The major compliants I hear about this episode are for the SFX.  I think the usage of people being Prisoner Zero (or 0, if you prefer) helped our imaginations - instead of having the actual creature, made up out of ropey-CGI, roaming around all the time! Yet another thing I thought was pure genius – was the fact that The Doctor and Amy already had a history before they met.  It’s something that’s never been done before, and I think Doctor Who should always strive to try something different.  Here we have a girl whose life has been affected by a strange man, who (in his timeline) met her as a little girl about 10 minutes ago.  That plotline just opens up so many possibilities and at the same time – saves time in inserting any tedious scenes for the companion to ‘familiarise’ themselves with The Doctor, and thus mucking up the pace of the story.  I’ve commented in the past that Moffat isn’t a writer who writes meaningless lines, he finds uses for everything and is able to move a story along at pace. I feel that The Eleventh Hour just proves that assumption.

How this will work out for the rest of the series? Well let’s find out!

What we think now: The Eleventh Hour was a crucial point in modern Doctor Who history, if they got it wrong it could have been disastrous for the show.  But they got it so right and in turn, adopted a back-to-basics approach which in itself, provides a solid base to build from for the future.

We also put the word out on Facebook and Twitter, asking for 5-word reviews of this episode. Just to be awkward.

David MacGowan:Giddy, naughty and a great start

Andrew Myers:Great performance from Matt Smith

David Carey:Matt hits the ground running!

@totallynerdybirdit brilliantly introduces Matt Smith

Simon Pearce:Eleventh Hour cracking series opener

@backtoblack5:perfect from start to finish

Allison Price:Brilliantly introduces Eleven and Amy

Alistair Gauld: “No ducks it’s A Pond”

If you would like to tweet us your 5 Word review of The Beast Below. Just @ us and include the hashtag #badboytimmy, or post on our Facebook Page

You can read our original review on The Eleventh Hour in our first Issue here

Friday, 22 June 2012

RIP Caroline John (1940-2012)

‘Spearhead From Space’ was one of the first classic Doctor Who episodes I saw.  I had one of those free DVD’s that the paper was giving away and one of them had the first episode.  Not really expecting much, I was drawn in and loved that first episode.  It also helped that I was immediately struck by the strong female presence in the story, provided by Caroline John’s Liz Shaw.

Many people hold up Sarah Jane Smith as a rolemodel for being the first ‘Strong Independent Women’ in Doctor Who.  As a self-styled feminist, she had her moments.  But with the writers having her screaming every few episodes, it’s a bit difficult to place that title on her.  Liz Shaw was the first attempt at having a strong female character in the show. Sadly, in 1971 both parties parted ways (Caroline was pregnant, and producer Barry Letts wanted a different companion) and 42 years on, we’re left wondering what might have been if the character had have been developed more.  In today’s show, we would do anything for a character to be cast that wasn’t overawed by The Doctor and one who would often make fun of him.  You could argue that she was the first attempt at a ‘female Doctor’ in many ways – with her often using science to solve things, which would trickle down to the young viewers watching.

I don’t think that there’s any doubt that her finest moment was that as a, shall we say, a very different Liz Shaw in Inferno (which happened to be her final story).  It was the story that allowed the actors to play something different and have some fun, and it’s clear that certainly helped to make this one of the best Third Doctor stories.  If there’s one story to remember Caroline John by, put that one on!  Over the years, she appeared in many spin-offs and audios – most recently reprising the role of Liz Shaw for Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles series.

Despite the end to her time on Doctor Who being so long ago, Caroline was always a face on the convention scene and many people have fond stories to tell about her. Words like ‘Classy Lady’ are often banded about when fans talk about meeting her in person.  And as time goes on, I think it’s very important that we sit back and remember the contributions of members of the Doctor Who family we have lost, because without them, our little obsession may not be as special as we’d like to think.




RIP Caroline John (1940-2012)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Issue 10 - OUT NOW!!!

What connects a blue man, a toilet and Steven Moffat's face?

Why, it's Issue 10 of Fish Fingers and Custard!

Now celebrating two years on the fanzine scene, we continue to bring you all the goings-on in the Doctor Who underground.  Though, we're more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, than Rat.

In the latest Issue we have:
  • Our view on the casting of Jenna-Louise Coleman
  • Interview with Simon Fisher-Becker aka Dorium Maldovar
  • Six Appeal - what one Doctor means to a young boy
  • Season 18 - A Breath of Life, or A Strangulation?
  • Which Fan Group Are You?
  • Monster In The Bathroom - Our brand new comic!
And much more besides!

You can order this issue, which is made up out of: 44 pages, full-colour covers and many frustrations, by sending one of below payments to us via PayPal:

UK: £2
Rest of The World: £4

Please send to fishcustardfanzine@googlemail.com and mark the payment as a 'gift' so that PayPal don't rob us! Oh and please include your name and address too, that's very important!  If you would like to pay by cheque/postal order, please get in touch via the same address and we'll sort something out.  Alternatively, you can also pay by credit/debit card by using the handy box below.  The process is undertaken by PayPal but you don't need to sign up to anything.


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If you would like to order any back issues, again please get in touch with us!

Cheers