Monday, 27 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 20 - Closing Time

What We First Thought: I love this just for the dig at Britain’s Got Talent. Fantastic!

You know what? I’d never thought I’ll be using the words ‘I quite fancy another helping of James Corden’ whilst doing these reviews.  I’m fiercely opposed to watching him in anything else, but the domestic life which has been fit around his character, Craig Owens, is like a nice pair of slippers – comfy to slip into from time-to-time. 

I like how Gareth Roberts mirrors The Lodger, what with Craig repeating himself out loud when he opens the door to The Doctor and Sophie forgetting her keys, again! Even The Doctor gets in on the act, resurrecting the ‘baby talk’ gag that was first seen in A Good Man Goes To War.  And I do think it’s a gag on The Doctor’s part, some online fans do seem to get their knickers in a twist over the slightest thing these days!  They’re the exact type of people that would be ssshed by The Doctor’s sssshing!  Sometimes it’s nice to have these little things (or as they say in Colchester – ‘tings’) return, as it puts you further into those comfy slippers I mentioned. Maybe they have a 3-D dog’s face or a dinosaur on them, or something?

Stormageddon was undoubtedly the star of this episode, with Matt a close second due in no small part to that scene the pair of them had in the bedroom. Could you imagine any other Doctor doing that? Hartnell would be all ‘Quiet Boy!’ Pertwee would be toping up his bottle with wine to keep him quiet. Tennant would probably be crying, like he always does. Anyway, you can clearly see why Matt is the perfect choice to play this role, all of his qualities are there to see – his compassion and kindness are delivered by someone who looks so young, so human, but never at any point did I think that.  Just by that scene alone, you can see how alien and how old and tired The Doctor is, and it weaves in beautifully with the overall story of the series. 

Then there’s Craig, the nervous Dad who eventually proves himself (to himself) throughout this adventure.  There’s some nice nods to this aspect of the story and I really enjoyed how it was played out. Maybe that was something that The Doctor picked up on and did the baby talk as a way of influencing Craig? Or maybe I’m reading far too much into it and he can actually speak baby. Which would give those keyboard chimps the hand grenades they require.

This is a Cyberman story of course and I feel that this episode just sums up the modern-day Cybermen – just there to be beaten without any fuss.  To be fair though – for one moment I thought Craig was a goner, so credit to all involved for making that scene what it was!  Again, people have been moaning about Craig ‘blowing them up with love’ (that’s a classic Gareth Roberts innuendo right there!) but I actually bought into this, I mean what wouldn’t you do for your own, crying child? I think it’s ridiculous for people to bang on about this when you’ve got that reason AND an attempted explanation from The Doctor!

It was great to see Lynda Baron back for her third spell in Doctor Who, playing the role of Val, who is like any ‘lady of a certain age’ I know. That actually feels wrong to describe Lynda Baron, but I’m sure you know what I mean!  Then there’s the cameo by Amy and Rory, with Amy being a top model it seems.  I really didn’t know how to feel about this development at first, then I saw Rory lumping around all the bags and smiled. All angst forgotten!  I would mention the final scenes in this, but it’s something which would be best covered in the next review! No doubt the idea of it, to build up excitement for the final episode, still works a year later!

Overall, Closing Time is very much an enjoyable episode with some nice dramatic touches, peppered with some funny lines and acting from all involved. Now can we have Corden back please? If only to keep him away from presenting tings!

Word.

What We Think Now: I wouldn’t last two minutes in Essex.

Your (5-word) Reviews 

@AbelUndercity: "Bow before Lord Stormageddon, peasants!"

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

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 19 - The God Complex

What We First Thought: Is it next week yet?

For some bizarre reason, Series 6 didn’t go down that well with most fans. What they produced, in my opinion, was a decent solid run of episodes that didn’t really contain the same highs and lows as any other new series to date.  I said in the fanzine at the time, that I didn’t think that the break worked as hoped – on paper, it seemed to be a good idea - the dramatic affect after A Good Man Goes To War was achieved as planned, but at times you can only build up something so much that the viewing public will create unrealistic expectations for themselves, so Let’s Kill Hitler and the rest of the series would never come up to scratch.

This series is typified by The God Complex – a solid episode, with a spooky story that makes you think about, well, everything that you believe in.  It’s far better written than most of the stuff that the RTD era produced, but yet it doesn’t quite jump out at you, like the Minotaur the story contains.  The idea behind it was very clever, but maybe it should have been more – a lot more. We had another question of people’s faiths (which was explored in one of the better RTD-era stories – The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit) and it was a very strong base to work from, in how each character was portrayed.  This is an episode that I feel would have benefitted from a few more minutes, maybe another character to kill off, just to give us more information about what was going on, why the Minotaur was imprisoned.

One of the (many) reasons that I love Doctor Who, is that it’s able to draw one-story characters so clearly and involve them in the on-going narrative like they’ve been there all the time.  Rita will go down as one of the ‘should have been a companion’ as she was utterly likeable, maintained a great rapport with The Doctor and was brave to the end.  She (and even characters like Howie and Gibbis) even had a bit of backstory, due in no small part to the idea of the rooms containing their worst nightmares.  This piece of narrative allowed us to look into their lives and see what kind of people they are.  Things like that draw me into the story more, make me care about the characters, so you can imagine how pissed off I was when Rita copped it!

On a technical note – I REALLY enjoyed the scene with The Doctor and Amy/Amelia.  It’s just a little thing to some people, but something as throwaway as a couple of camera transitions between Amy and Amelia, whilst The Doctor is talking to her, telling her that he let her down and she shouldn’t put her faith in him, just looks brilliant and adds so much to the scene.  The pair of Amy’s didn’t even speak a line during that scene, because they don’t need to – everything you needed to know was covered by those transitions.  Then again, when it’s directed by Nick Hurran, the bloke who did The Girl Who Waited, then it’s no surprise that this story was shot as well as it was!

I can take-or-leave David Walliams, but his performance as Gibbis was great and apart from the comic asides the character had – he was able to deliver a decent dramatic performance, that actually seemed alien, rather than a human pretending to be an alien.  Even though Toby Whithouse wrote a great script for this episode, I’d imagine it was Hurran who got the best out of Walliams (as a role like Gibbis, played by a comic actor, had the potential to be over-the-top – even having him eating a goldfish looked sickening to me!)  As mentioned, the other characters were well drawn out and I’ve come to the conclusion that this episode is the most underrated of the series.  And with talents like Whithouse and Hurran on board for Series 7, expect great things. (Now who’s the one building the hype?!)

I must mention the ending, which was a nice twist and showed us that The Doctor knows what is coming. It was sad, yet you couldn’t help but agree with The Doctor that he seems to attract trouble.  It’s a aspect of Doctor Who that I feel doesn’t get covered enough, so it’s great to see it addressed here. We all know that Amy and Rory are coming back, but this is the end of the road for The Doctor being reckless with his friends.  Maybe that was his worst nightmare?

(Or maybe it was a nude Adric, bending seductively over the console. Who knows?)

What We Think Now: Praise him! Praise him! Praise Nick Hurran!

Your (5-Word Reviews) 

@AbelUndercity: "Next time, the Sheraton instead"
David MacGowan: "kubrick and 'nimon' in a blender"

If you would like to contribute a 5-word review for Closing Time  please @ us on Twitter, using the hashtag #stormageddon (what else?), or post on our Facebook Page

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 18 - The Girl Who Waited

What We First Thought: A MILF Amy. Really?

One aspect I wanted to explore whilst watching all these episodes again was ‘would I like them after enough time has passed'.  I generally watch an episode twice – once live and again later in the week.  If I REALLY enjoy the episode, I might watch it again. But then I leave it, perhaps for a couple of years or so.  I just don’t see the benefit of watching an episode 5 times in a short space of time, because in life you may be in a certain mood at the time or in a certain situation which may affect your enjoyment of a particular episode.  I didn’t really think The Girl Who Waited was brilliant, but now I think it’s easily one of the better episodes of the series.

The Amy/Rory relationship actually makes sense in this episode.  It’s such a simple (or perhaps, not so simple) idea to have the dilemma of 'which Amy' to choose, but it works brilliantly as it opens up that window for us, to let us have a cheeky peep into the minds of these fictional characters.  The older version is obviously bitter at what has happened – a couple of minutes for us, but nearly 40 years for her.  Yet there she is in the invisible background – the younger Amy, still running around, trying to find a way out.  The answer to the dilemma may sound simple (pick the young one!) but after the performance from Karen Gillan as the older Amy, you couldn’t help but understand why she wanted out of this place – for her, she has already been through all of this before, so the young Amy has to do it too.

If you push me to say, I’d tell you that this will be Karen’s best performance in Doctor Who.  I don’t really know how she can top playing two roles, two different ages (but yet the same character!) as well as she did.  I believed in the ridiculous situation which the two Amy’s found themselves in, due to Karen's (and of course, to the ever-brilliant Arthur Darvil) acting abilities.  True, you could have seen it coming that old Amy was going to be left behind (what a threesome that would have been!) but the way in which their ‘goodbye’ was handled, was pitched just right to make the more emotional viewers shed a tear or two.

Credit must go to Tom MacRae, who felt the wrath after his much-re-written script for Rise of The Cybermen/The Age of Steel was panned by most fans I know.  I now understand that it wasn’t him who destroyed the legacy of the Cybermen (we all know that’s RTD’s fault!)  It just goes to show why a writer should be given more than one opportunity to write for Doctor Who.

I’m a big fan of the direction and this beautifully-shot episode can be summed up by one scene – as Rory looks through the glass and sees the images of old Amy and young Amy, almost stood in the same place.  It’s a shot that throws up many thoughts in just a second or two, as older Amy hangs there, just in shot, looking like a ghost – a ghost of young Amy’s future.  The look of the episode was also well done I thought – the robots, the scenery and nothing says ‘future’ than white walls everywhere!  Overall, The Girl Who Waited was about as perfect as you can get a Doctor Who episode these days, so well done to all involved!

And before any art lovers mona (get it?) about it – there are SEVEN Mona Lisa’s, so don’t panic!

What We Think Now: Brilliant

Your (5-word) Reviews 

@JayMcIntyre1: "Older Amy would've been better"
Thomas Cookson: "A work of beautiful perfection" 

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

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 17 - Night Terrors

What We First Thought: A David Tennant Fangirl is 100,000 times scarier. Especially if they’ve been on the tart fuel.

NIGHT TERRORS IS THE SCARIEST EPISODE EVER! screamed the Doctor Who hype machine, which at times can give North Korea a run for its money. I don’t know why people just can’t sit down and watch an episode without any tags attached it.  It’s not the first time this has happened and it certainly won’t be the last. 

The overwhelming feeling I’ve gauged from this episode is that ‘it’s Fear Her, done properly’.  True, the budget for this probably wasn’t as vast for other episodes in the series, but it certainly had a lot more pumped into it than Fear Her AND Mark Gatiss didn’t have 20 minutes to write it!  Night Terrors is just another decent watch and an episode that’s great to watch with your kids. Saying that, I firmly believe that there’s a message in this for parents and children alike – the kid being an alien was a nice twist (a nice nod to adoption, perhaps?), we had The Doctor encouraging him to ‘stand up to your fears – you’re the only one who can do it’ and, more importantly, the story seemed to make more sense than what Fear Her did!

I’ll be honest and say that on first watch (while sat in a posh hotel room in Derby, with a fluffy dressing gown on, after attending a Doctor Who convention) I didn’t really take much away from this episode.  So with what seems like everything that concerns Doctor Who – its well worth coming back to later!  It’s a lesson I’ve learned from doing these reviews and it’s something I’m going to try and take forward!

I didn’t mind the ‘monsters’ so much, perhaps I’m being a bit unfair in knocking the SCARY aspect of the episode – to a kid it might seem a bit creepy. What IS scary is me telling you that I had nothing on under the dressing gown. The main thing that bothered me about the episode though, was why were all of his ‘scary toys’ put in a cupboard, in the same room! I know the story wouldn’t have made sense otherwise, but it just struck me as something that wouldn’t really happen in real life. As wouldn’t an 8 year-old boy having a doll’s house! Maybe that’s a different story altogether, one which will also include his teens, bad tracksuits and cider. I’m already writing the script.

What We Think Now: Is Amy Pond wooden? Does she give you wood? Enough of this hilarious highbrow ‘comedy’ – you can read more of that in the fanzine!

Your (5-Word) Reviews

@JayMcIntyre1: "Smarter version of Fear Her"
Thomas Spychalski: "Very very freaky friggin monsters!"

If you would like to contribute a 5-word review for The Girl Who Waited  please @ us on Twitter, using the hashtag #handyrobots, or post on our Facebook Page!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 16 - A Good Man Goes To War/Let's Kill Hitler

What We First Thought: I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m loving it!

I don’t really know how to review these episodes.  For a start, is really a two parter? It says it is, but it doesn’t feel like it is. It’s clear some time has passed since the events in the last episode, so it doesn’t really feel like a continuation. But it IS a continuation. Oh my head, I’ve confused myself now!

I love A Good Man Goes To War.  I’ve been moaning for years for Doctor Who to have a proper adventure story, instead of the arc-heavy, character development, emotional mush we usually get.  Amazingly though, this episode achieved ALL of that AND a presented a great adventure tale, so it made me happy!  I liked seeing The Doctor recruit some of his ‘friends’ to rescue Amy.  The scenes which saw him pick them up were the highlights of the episode for me, with Strax the Sontaran being the standout in those.  It’s really funny to see how much effort they made to present a scene like that, which probably cost quite a bit, and it only being on for barely 2 minutes! It’s touches like that, that make me realise how much effort is being put into this, and into the storytelling.  Another thing I liked about those pick-up scenes, was when Dorium was protesting and you can see the silhouette of The Doctor on the wall. It’s a beautiful piece of direction and the fact that The Doctor isn’t in the episode for 18 minutes, just shows how good the episode is in terms of keeping people watching and enjoying it.

The idea of The Doctor being a word for ‘great warrior’ is very intriguing, I don’t feel a lot is made of The Doctor’s impact on people/planets/societies and this is an example of what could happen.  I don’t like how The Doctor can just zip around the universe without a care, which has been going on she the return of the show in 2005, so it’s great to see it addressed properly here.  The military going back to the church was a nice touch, as well as The Headless Monks, who were a throw-away name in Time of Angels, but here they are presented in their full glory.

There are episodes that are slow and drag a bit, but there’s no way anyone could accuse A Good Man Goes To War of that.  The pace ramps up when The Doctor finally appears on screen and doesn’t stop until the very end.  In all that, we have jokes, clever lines, great plot points (I particularly enjoyed Rory’s rapport with Strax, and them both being nurses) and we even have some enjoyable action!  When all those things are going on, I can write a lot of things off, but to be honest – there wasn’t really anything to write off.  With a Steven Moffat script, you don’t really get anything that can’t be explained on screen.  Sometimes you need to look carefully, but everything is there for you.  Now with the revelation of River being Melody Pond, how on earth will they explain this? Roll on Let’s Kill Hitler…

If A Good Man Goes To War was a fast-paced ride (but in a classy car, not in those chavvy vehicles that Boy Racers ride around in) then Let’s Kill Hitler on the other hand, starts off slowly as we finally get some answers about River.  What I find remarkable about it though, after watching it again, is that it doesn’t really feel like it drags at any point.  Like it’s predecessor, this episode is directed beautifully – I particularly noticed the scene in which Melody/River is standing on the windowsill, being all evil, and you can see The Doctor in the background flexing his hands in pain.  It’s just a little background shot, but as Melody is talking about what she’s doing, you can see the onset of her attack on The Doctor, behind her.

Later on whilst The Doctor is dying, you can see the determination in his face as he tries to scramble to his feet, in order to help his friends.  And again, in the background, you can see Melody slowing starting to turn, she can see what The Doctor is all about and she even asks him ‘why’ he’s bothering to do what he’s doing.  It’s like someone has switched a light on and she can see through the darkness that’s been inserted in her mind by those naughty vagabonds who kidnapped her.  It’s very subtle, but very well done.

Away from some of the most notable scenes (I forgot to mention ‘Take of your clothes!’ which still makes me laugh!) At the time, I was a bit iffy over the Teselecta, but after knowing what is coming, I understood the idea of them more.  The whole ‘people made miniature so they could fit inside a shape-shifting robot, to dish out justice’ just caught me cold and it’s maybe something that should have been introduced more subtly.  But then again, how on earth could you do that in an episode that had to cram in as much as this?  And they did cram a lot in, but they made it look effortless and, more importantly, make sense!

(And I am including the Teselecta in that!)

What We Think Now: A Good Man Goes To War and Let’s Kill Hitler bookmark each other perfectly.  Now for the rest of the answers!

Your (5 Word Reviews) 

@Mr_Brell: (A Good Man Goes To War) "Rollicking ride, not much story" (Let's Kill Hitler) "Dying Doctor should've looked iller!" 

If you would like to contribute a 5-word review for Night Terrors  please @ us on Twitter, using the hashtag #scarytoys, or post on our Facebook Page!

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 15 - The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People

What We First Thought: What a good last 2 minutes!

If I feel that The Doctor’s Wife is a tad overrated, then The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People is slightly underrated. But it could have been so much more enjoyable if a few creases were ironed out.  Or obliterated, in some cases.

I like Matthew Graham. Together with his writing team, they produced 5 great years of telly in the shape of Life on Mars and Ashes To Ashes.  True, the odd Bonekickers episode (okay, ALL of them) may have spoiled the party, but then there’s also Fear Her on his CV.  I’ll be honest and say that I don’t dislike that episode as much as some people seem to do.  It was by far the ‘cheap episode’ of the series and a late replacement for something else.  Graham probably didn’t have much room to lay down his own ideas and apart from a couple of good humour bits (yes, a couple – The Doctor’s answer to ‘What’s your game?’ and the ‘marmalade jar incident’) it was forgettable. So what will he be able to achieve with a budget and more time?

Just to get what I didn’t like out of the way first – I really didn’t like the flesh being some kind of evil Stretch Armstrongsies (but without the extremely camp look) - it took me out of the story then and it does the same now. I don’t understand the need to build up the story on strong morals and then spoil it with a cheap effect to scare the kids.  An image of the flesh corpses was far more eerie than having a head stretch out at you.  Oh and the episode titles seem to be the wrong way around too!

Despite the odd gripe, there were plenty of scenes that really stood out – mainly the one early on, when the flesh Jennifer is trying to profess to Rory that she is (also) Jennifer, and in between the tears she’s shouting ‘I’m Me! Me! Me!’ then all of a sudden – her face turns back to normal, emphasising that she is being truthful with her words. The flesh Cleaves was also interesting to watch too, as early on you can see that she is the complete opposite of the original Cleaves.  The flesh version wants to sit down and have a chat, whereas the original isn’t interested and actually causes the ‘war’ after she kills a flesh.  This is something that I would have liked to have seen carry on throughout the story, but as it ran on, the original Cleaves became mellower and willing to listen to The Doctor.

Watching this again made me appreciate the story of The Flesh a bit more.  Just imagine it – these people are you. They’re not some cheap Xeroxed copy that has just been born, they retain everything that is you, the very moment that you copied yourself. They aren’t robots, or computer code but actual living, breathing humans. Now back to what I was saying about not liking the ridiculous monster bits, all that just takes away any sympathies a viewer may have had, when they see something stomping around like that.  The concept of The Flesh could prove to be difficult to get your head round, but when you have them morphing into flesh monsters, then the viewer will just dismiss them as such.  So all that effort in building them up, laying down that psychological story, is just wasted and it’s a great shame, because this story should have been a lot more.

I was genuinely taken aback by the cliffhanger at the end of the episode when I first watched this. After watching it back - it seems bloody obvious now!  But that old chestnut of ‘if you don’t look for it, then you won’t find it’ very much comes into play here, so it’s to the script’s credit that it hides all the signs very well.  I also loved how the two Doctor’s got together to confuse Amy – did he work out that flesh latch on to other flesh, which is why she rejected The original Doctor? True, the whole swapping shoes idea probably clinched it, but The Doctor didn’t plan for his shoes to be melted!  He did plan to land at that very location though, as it seems he has worked out what was going on with Amy’s ‘pregnancy’ and it’s great to see that mysterious and plotting side of The Doctor.  His ruse also put him on the path to uncovering another mystery – as Amy tells him about his death!  With the second half of the series now nicely poised to tell us that part of the story, credit must go to Steven Moffat for actually addressing the many knots he tied together with his plotting. And in some style too!

It’s clear that this episode was written with Moffat’s overall story of the series in mind, so maybe Graham didn’t have much room to tell his own story after all.  One day I hope he can – he DOES have the talent to write great Doctor Who stories…

What We Think Now: Burn that Flesh Monster! Burn it! 

Your (5 Word Reviews)

@AbelUndercity: "Self loathing taken entirely literally"
@Mr_Brell: "OK, but second part dragged"
@JayMcIntyre1: "Smarter story than some think!"

If you would like to contribute a 5-word review for A Good Man Goes To War/Let's Kill Hitler  please @ us on Twitter, using the hashtag #whatthehellisgoingon, or post on our Facebook Page!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Issue 11 - OUT NOW!!!

We're back, with a very limited release (the printers have packed up) however this isn't the last Issue, but just in case, be sure to snap up your copy! (how's that for advertising?) Either way, you won't be able to avoid disappointment

In this Issue we have the following
  • Tributes to Caroline John and Mary Tamm
  • The Boy Who Kicked Pigs: LIVE! - a review of Tom Baker's book, performed on stage
  • Meet The Fanziners - we chat to a couple of fanzine editors about the state of fanzines and fandom in general
  • The Krotons - Is it as bad as it looks?
  • Is the TV Movie better than the RTD era?
Plus, much, much more

If you would like to purchase a copy, please send the payment that applies to you via PayPal (as a 'gift') to fishcustardfanzine@googlemail.com

UK: £2
Europe: £3
Rest of the World: £4

Cheers

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 14 - The Doctor's Wife

What We First Thought: The internet is going to explode!!!! 

When I first saw the reaction to The Doctor’s Wife, I honestly didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  Written by fantasy author Neil Gaiman, the story sees the TARDIS literally jumping into a human and talking to The Doctor!  On paper it sounds very bizarre, but somehow the episode makes it look as normal as, say Rory being killed, and the fact that it’s easy to understand, is the real strength of this episode.  Is it the best episode EVER though? No, not really. It isn’t even the best episode of series 6…

I don’t know what it is with fans and hype.  I can guarantee you that if another writer had written this, it wouldn’t attract such praise from those who are so upstanding about it. I feel sorry for Gaiman in a way – his work will always be so overrated, just because his name attracts people who judge things on name only.  The Doctor’s Wife is actually a decent episode as it goes, but reactions like these put people off. I know it puts me off!  It’s these same people that forget all about those people behind the scenes, such as the directors and production designers, who do so much to make a celebrity writers dream come true, but get no credit off fans whatsoever.

When the story kicks off, I just found that the dialogue that The Doctor uses (‘come here – you scrumptious little beauty’) is just so jarring and out of character for him, that it seemed it was written by someone who didn’t  really have a handle on the character, and it took me out of the story a bit.  Saying that, when the story settles down, the dialogue is fine and the bits with The Doctor and ‘TARDIS’ are excellent.  I thought the ‘patchwork’ people were interesting and The Doctor being so offended by them seemed ironic towards the end – as he built a TARDIS console out of scrap!  The whole ‘luring Timelords’ plot was also pretty well done and apart from producing a moment for long-term fans to get excited over, it gave newer fans/viewers some much needed knowledge about Timelords that wouldn’t normally get covered.

It’s clear that Gaiman knows his Doctor Who history, as there’s some great lines that sum the show up – the idea that the TARDIS stole the Doctor, was a great moment that didn’t need time to explain the entire backstory.  Suranne Jones saying to Matt Smith ‘..first time you touched my console’ had my Carry On-filled mind laughing out loud. And I don’t even watch Carry On films! Suranne was brilliant in this though and it was a performance that was so far removed from what she has done before -including the bizarre Mona Lisa she portrayed in the Sarah Jane Adventures!  In fact, the whole cast seemed to revel in a script, that once it got into the action, ran very fluidly and made the somewhat bizarre concept seem normal!

However, I feel that there’s some sloppiness going on in the script too – why did Amy continue to get sucked in by the illusions that House created, AFTER Rory told her that House was playing with their minds? And why didn’t Rory question the psychic message that he received off Idris, as something that House is doing to trap them? I realise that not having explanations saves time, but Gaiman has shown he can do clever dialogue - and as we’ve seen throughout this series so far – only one line is needed.

I would have liked to have seen something mentioned about the fact that the original Idris was murdered, but nothing was said about it! Maybe all this and more was in the original script, which I believe had to be vigorously re-written due to budget constraints.  In fact – this story was supposed to appear in the last series!  I know Gaiman has said that he would like to novelise this story and if the BBC oblige – it should be an interesting read!

Overall, I’ve learnt that The Doctor’s Wife is the ultimate fanwank that’s always worth a watch - it's full of cheeky lines (It’s a bed. With a ladder. You can’t beat that) and backstory that would normally confuse people, but instead was handled with great care and acted out very well  But is it really the best episode ever?

What We Think Now: Hope everyone has calmed down a bit. (Even me!)

Your (5 Word) Reviews

@AbelUndercity: "Smart. Fun. Scary. And Sexy" 
@Mr_Brell: "Weird, wonderful and rather good"
@JayMcIntyre1: "Not what I expected"

If you would like to contribute a 5-word review for The Rebel Flesh/Almost People  please @ us on Twitter, using the hashtag #twodoctors, or post on our Facebook Page!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Boy Who Kicked Pigs (Live!) - Review

I was amazed that someone wanted to do it on stage. When I wrote the piece it was obvious to me I could not write about a good boy. Who wants to read about a good boy? So I piled on the awfulness and everybody laughed Tom Baker

As soon as I heard about this adaptation coming to the stage, I snapped up tickets as soon as I could.  Written by Tom Baker (knowing Tom, presumably after many drinks. Then again, knowing Tom, he probably doesn’t need to drink to think this story up!) it tells the tale of a boy, Robert, who ‘likes to kick pigs’ and generally wreak havoc for people. I’m sure we’ve met children like him!  The story is very cartoonish but does show what impact misbehaving can achieve.  The theatre company Kill The Beast seem to revel in bringing this cartoonish violence to life and you can see that, just by watching this performance.  It’s something that’ll be difficult to put together if its cast and crew ‘didn’t get it’ but this one does.

Taking place in one of upstairs studios, this intimate venue seemed perfect, as this 4 person-strong cast filled the stage out brilliantly.  I’m not really that much of an experienced theatre goer (but probably will be soon, thanks to this) but I very much enjoyed it, laughed nearly all the way through and picked up those things I learned at school about drama, which have long escaped my mind!  Though I felt really sorry for the people in the front row - the graphic violence must have seemed very different up close, as my Missus commentated!

The play was advertised for ‘people 12 and over’ but there were clearly some kids in the audience far younger who enjoyed it.  In fact, it’s funny to see the comparison between Pigs and Doctor Who – suitable for families, with both adults and children taking something different away after watching it.  The humour, though pretty violent at times, is very much done in the style of a cartoon and it fits perfectly with the setting of the book.  It’s fast-paced in all the right places, but yet slows down at the right times for you to take in those all important story-changing scenes.  Good direction needs good actors of course, and the 4 of them that act this out do an amazing job in bringing it to life.  The actor who plays Robert uses a very distinctive voice and it just strikes you of belonging to the trouble-making child that Robert is.  Or a ‘little shit’ as we would say.  The other roles aren’t gender-specific, so we get some really great turns from the female actors who play males, which just adds to the cartoon-humour aspect of it all.  Things like this can tend to slip into Pantomine mode, and as much as I love a Pantomine, I don’t particularly feel threatened by one and I don’t really learn anything (apart from the bloke playing the Dame looks good in a dress) but with Pigs it’s the complete opposite (although the Gentlemen in this do look quite fetching in a dress).  The cast (who also contributed to the writing) and crew somehow manage to present a slightly-updated adaptation of the book and bring it to life, which is all you can really ask for, from an adaptation!

The show was part of an ‘In Studio Development’ program that The Lowry runs and I was most impressed with their general attitude towards developing talent.  On the way to the studio, we passed a few classrooms used for educating and the many programmes they had advertised.  I just feel that in today’s world, where they spend millions of pounds on facilities and expect an immediate return, that not enough emphasis is put on trying to develop talent for the future, it should be about working hard and learning, so it’s wonderful that a new venue like this specialises in that area. And the ticket price wasn’t too expensive either!

And after dismissing Tom Baker and Ian Marter’s idea for ‘Doctor Who Meets Scratchman’ as utterly bonkers, maybe there was something in it after all? On the balance of this story, I think it’s a great shame Tom hasn’t written any more stories. He (I’m sure all those who’ve seen him at a convention know) has a great talent for telling a tale.  Most of them mask a meaning, a lesson if you will, very much like The Boy Who Kicked Pigs.

Kill The Beast will now be working with The Lowry on other projects. We hope they’ll get the chance to tour Pigs, beyond their Edinburgh appearance next year. Any Doctor Who convention people reading must book them for an appearance. (And put us down for some tickets too!)

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 13 - The Curse of The Black Spot

What We First Thought: That was okay…

You know what? I was going to buck the trend once again here by saying that I enjoyed The Curse of The Black Spot, but after watching this again, I can see more holes in it than Mitt Romney’s brain.  I want to like this, I really do, but the many errors are just screaming out and I can’t help but listen. 

After a promising start, we have Amy coming over all Pirate. What’s that all about then? I can understand that some leeway was needed in order to inject a bit of fun, but come on!  She handled that sword like she had been taking lessons on a regular basis (which Karen had been doing actually – WHY?) At least insert a bit of nervousness on Amy’s part, with her trying to handle the sword. To be fair though - that scene was almost done to perfection, with the Pirates staying out of her way because a cut would be it for them.

That child! Honestly, I reckon he is the most annoying character in Doctor Who history, based wholly on his first few minutes.  I’m sure we’d all be in agreement with the Pirate, if he had booted that little gobshite in the face for cutting him.  I had no sympathy towards him. I didn’t care if he died. He just pissed me off.  Now isn’t that the fault of the writing? Aren’t we supposed to care about the characters? Especially those who have just entered and been given a back-story for us to invest our feelings in? I would have chucked the little idiot in the sea.  I would get his eyes tested too – why on earth would he think that these Pirates are Royal Navy when there isn’t a uniform in sight?

I thought the idea of the Siren was okay (making a big song-and-dance about casting Lily Cole, and having her not speaking a line was hilarious!), but why didn’t The Doctor spot what she was, sooner? After about 10 minutes, it seemed obvious to me that she was taking away the sick and injured for treatment, especially after Toby was coughing.  The Doctor’s comment of ‘she’s a hunter, waiting for her prey’ – would a cut to the arm REALLY maim someone so much that they’ll be weak and unable to get away?  It just seems so out of character for The Doctor – and then there’s the fact that he leaves the TARDIS when it’s taken.  Would he actually do that? I’ve always had the feeling that The Doctor is willing to die along with his ship, why would he leave when he knows it’s being taken? Surely he’ll want to know where it was going?  Then again, why didn’t the Siren spot that a cut to the arm wasn’t really serious? She’d bankrupt the NHS!

I really like Hugh Bonneville, but it was a shame he was giving a donkey of a script to work with.  I like how his character was actually a real Pirate, who had vanished without trace in the 19th Century.  If more empathises would have been put on his character (we had a vague ‘why did you become a Pirate’ plot) instead of scenes that didn’t make any sense, then this episode would have been much better.  The end scene with Avery and his Crew (notice that Toby had the pipe in his neck, so at least some continuity was going on) just smacked of Blakes 7 – Pirates In Space.  I can just about understand how Avery can steer the ship (note ‘just about’) and it tallies with his real-life disappearance. 

That end though. I’m no Quincy (ME), but I can say that he would have been needed in his capacity as a pathologist if Amy had used the CPR technique that she used on Rory in real life.  I just hope any Children watching don’t take that on-board and listen to their teachers instead!  I know it’s only fiction, but if you don’t believe people pick things up off the telly, especially with it’s availability these days, then I’m afraid you’re wrong.  I really don’t understand why that scene was done so badly, there’s just no excuse and it’s very poor from director Jeremy Webb.  Doctor Who is big on teaching things to people (be it history, politics or how to behave properly!) so it’s a mystery why anyone didn’t demand this scene to be reshot.  For a while I thought that Rory had actually died, but when he miraculously survived, we all saw that Amy had given up, which is what Rory thought she’ll never do. Is that a plot-point that will crop up in the future? I’m not holding my breath.

As I said above, I really want to like The Curse of The Black Spot. It has everything – Pirates. Beards. Space. Pirates in Space! But sadly it didn’t just stick, because it was put together using some bad glue. Poundshop glue.

What We Think Now: It’ll be a long time before I watch that again!

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