Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to Face the Raven

November 25, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


So I could be mean to you and wait until the end to talk about Clara’s demise but since you’ve probably already suffered enough I’m going to be kind for once and talk about it first. Now for those of you who don’t know I am not a big Clara fan. None of that is really to do with Jenna Coleman as I think she’s an amazing actress who’s not been given the best material to work with. There was practically no solid sense of character during series seven as the whole impossible girl plot line simply treated her as nothing more than a walking, talking plot device. Then came the fiftieth anniversary where she suddenly became a teacher despite showing no prior interest in teaching. But anyway, moving on to series eight where the control freak angle was thrown in out of nowhere but on the bright-side we were at least getting some much needed character development at this point. Throughout most of series nine I couldn’t really care less about Clara and given how little she got to do I think the writers might have felt the same. But despite all of that I still found her death quite moving, mainly because of Sarah Dollard’s great writing and Peter and Jenna’s superb acting. Also, my heart was racing at times during this episode but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. This was probably at it’s worst during the scene where she gets the tattoo and while I had seen her death coming from a mile off this was the moment that sealed the deal for me. Some people have complained about the circumstances leading up to the death saying it wasn’t really that heroic but it wasn’t really meant to be, it was meant to show much of a risk-taker she’s become and now she’s seen the consequences of that which provides a fitting conclusion to her arc this series.

So that’s basically all I have to say about Clara’s death itself but I’m not completely done with it as it does hang over the episode as a whole quite a bit. In fact the reason I brought it up first was because it would have been hard to discuss the rest of the episode without mentioning it and it would end up feeling like I’m just killing time until I can talk about it, a bit like how the majority of the episode felt to me. Not that I’m saying I didn’t enjoy the build up to it, I thought some of it was great but ultimately it was rather uneventful and had a very thin plot, making it feel like the episode was only here to kill Clara off and set up the finale rather than tell a story in it’s own right. They could’ve done a neat little murder mystery plot in a mysterious setting but instead as soon as the investigation into what’s going on begins it’s over, there’s literally only really one scene of it. It’s something that Doctor Who’s been doing far too often recently in my opinion and that is introducing really cool and interesting ideas but rather than exploring them more beyond that they simply move on to the next one. Take the trapped street idea from this story as an example. It’s a wonderful idea and it’s done very well visually but we hardly go anywhere with it before we move on to the episode’s next big idea, the raven itself but by the time we get to it there’s not enough run time to flesh it out satisfactorily.

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Now let’s talk about Rigsy who I quite liked in Flatline and once again I quite liked him here. He now has a son but he’s still very much the same character as last time and it’s nice to have him back as not only did he work quite well with Clara last time but he also helped to point out how much Clara has changed since last series. However, I’m disappointed he sort of disappeared from the story at the end and didn’t get to properly say goodbye to Clara or the Doctor either for that matter. But his memorial for Clara at the end was nice. Now we come to the return of Me who has once again changed quite a bit since we last saw her. However, I feel like this story kind of undid some of the development she got in her previous story and it seems like most of the interesting character development has once again taken place off screen. However, those final moments she had with the Doctor were very strong and I get the feeling she’s going to need one more episode to resolve that.

Speaking of the Doctor, let’s talk about him now and I’ll start off by saying that this is probably one of the strongest performances that Peter Capaldi has ever given. It really got me excited for where we’re heading next week with a what has basically been described as an episode long monologue and the events of this episode should play into that quite nicely and make it even more entertaining. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s turn our attention back to this episode and talking about his goodbye to Clara. I already mentioned how superb both the actors were in this scene but I might as well talk about them again as they are both so good. Clara’s line about not wanting the last she sees of the Doctor to be him threatening people is a particular stand out for me and is the turning point of the scene. We then get such a range of emotion from Capaldi but then the way he turns on Me following Clara’s death is simply incredible and it’s great to see that it will affect him greatly as a character. It has been said that we will be seeing a more cynical Doctor next series and it’s good to see here that there will be a good reason for that. It will also be interesting to see how he treats his next companion due to Clara’s death although having said that I hope they don’t do what they did with Martha and have the new companion be overshadowed by the old one.

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Overall, this episode isn’t perfect but the final quarter of it very nearly is. I’m going to give it an eight-out-of-ten although I’m not sure whether more time could’ve improved this and fixed some of the flaws I’ve pointed out or just a better use of the time they already had here. With an extended run time and only one real character to cater for I hope next weeks doesn’t suffer from the same problems as Heaven Sent has a lot of potential and I only hope it can live up to it. So until we see it next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reaction to Sleep No More

November 16, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


Strange, isn’t it? There have been episodes this series that have been almost universally praised which I am not all that keen on and then along comes an episode which I positively adore and it seems that not many share my enthusiasm. Now I can kind of see why as it is quite experimental in more ways that one and quite a few people will probably not take very well to that element of the episode. That and the fact that the ending can be quite confusing. Admittedly I was quite shaken by it all the first time but after a second viewing during which I understood much better what was going on I enjoyed it much more. Now let’s begin with the elephant in the room, the found footage itself. Admittedly when I first heard about this I was quite concerned and thought it would be a rehash of Love and Monsters but with poor quality phone cameras. But as we got closer to the story and I realised it was set in space my hopes rose by quite a bit. Now that I’ve seen the actual episode I’m very happy with how the found footage element turned out and I’m particularly happy that it had an actual reason for being there, and an experimental one at that. Now in other shows found footage can feel superfluous to the story being told but the way that it tied into the narrative made me feel that the episode wouldn’t have been as good without it.

Now Mark Gatiss himself seems to be a bit of a mainstay when it comes to Doctor Who having been writing for the show since it came back, so it’s rather surprising that this is his first futuristic story. In fact all of his previous works apart from Night Terrors have been set in the past. And he can do horror very well (you only have to watch The Unquiet Dead to see that) but he instead seems to focus on comedy’s instead which are sometimes less than successful. Here though he does unleash his inner horror and the Sandmen are quite wonderful creations and quite a scary idea also. Now I’ve head some critics of the episode say the idea of living dust is more fantasy than science but I mean we’ve had stranger things before, haven’t we? I mean we had the moon turn out to be an egg for crying out loud. So having the Morpheus machine turn the dust from sleep sentient didn’t jump out at me as absurd whatsoever. In fact it more or less made sense to me. It was also quite a scary idea and the Sandmen themselves (especially when kept to the shadows) turned out to be quite scary as monsters. The song was also strangely unsettling. And then there’s ending which was marvellously done and was probably the scariest thing about it. The way he rubbed out his eye was particularly good although they may have got a bit carried away after that.

Before we finish off by talking about the characters I would like to bring up the interesting concept of the titles which I was quite worried about at first but they actually worked quite well and helped make the experience more immersive. Shame they couldn’t do something similar at the end though as the sudden appearance of the credits kind of threw right out of it and almost ruined that spectacular ending. But anyway, now for the characters and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest fan of Clara although I think Jenna Coleman is a fantastic actress. This episode however I feel that Mark Gatiss wrote her in a way in which she felt like a real, likeable person. The scene where they talk about space stuff is great and just highlights my point. We might not have long left with her but I still want more of this please. The Doctor was also wonderful during these scenes and while he didn’t get any material like last week he was still used well here. When it comes to supporting characters I find that Mark Gatiss always does a good job and this is no exception. Admitedly the only standout of the crew is Chopra but the others are still good. The main masterpiece here though is Reece Shearsmith’s Rassmussen who has quite a few layers to his character, and no I’m not talking about layers of sand. Good performances all around too which really helped this episode.

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Overall, Under the Lake may be my favourite individual episode from this series but Sleep No More is definitely my favourite story as a whole due to it not having a second part like Before the Flood to let it down. Having said that though, Mark Gatiss will apparently be writing a sequel but I’m not sure this needs one as the ending is as perfect as it is ambiguous in my view. But anyway, while I won’t be giving this one full marks I will be giving it a nine-out-of-ten and will look back on it as an underrated gem, even if you probably won’t. Now we look forward to next week’s episode Face the Raven which appears to have an awful lot going on in it. So until we see it next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reaction to The Zygon Inversion

November 11, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


When we left off last week I quite liked the direction the story was going in but I also expressed some concern that I had also felt this way before at the end of the first half of all series nine two-parters so far and had always ended up disappointed by the second half. Now I will say that this episode is the best second part from Capaldi’s era. It also linked well thematically with the first part and I can’t really say the same for The Witch’s Familiar and Before the Flood. It felt like one long story this time but the two halves do still feel distinctive. However, I did still feel disappointed with this episode in comparison to last weeks. But before I go into that I’d like to discuss something that kind of bothered me over the course of both episodes, the Zygons themselves. In the classic series they were set up as the ideal infiltrators. They took would take a human, get a body print from them and then take their form. This meant that they had limits but these limits set them apart from the standard sci-fi shape-shifters and therefor made them more interesting. They also had the Skarasen a giant armoured cyborg which they could not only use as a weapon but also depended on for survival due to the lactic fluid it produced for them. However, basically all of this lore is thrown away in this story and while there was sort of an in-universe explanation given by Osgood last week it still bothers me that if they were going to change the monster so much why did they not just make a new one to suit the story’s requirements. As it is they’re just fitting the monster to the story when it should really be the other way around in the case of pre-existing monsters.

Now I don’t think I gave enough praise to Jenna Coleman last week for what she did with Bonnie and I’m happy to say that she improved on it even more this week. I think this is the best performance Jenna Coleman has ever given in Doctor Who and she isn’t even playing her main role. Admittedly she didn’t do too bad a job as the normal Clara but ultimately Bonnie was just so much more interesting to me. I think it’s because we all love a good villain and he fact that said villain looks like one of the main characters is just adds to that. Now we move onto a character who I didn’t really talk about at all last week, Kate Stewart. Admittedly I saw the twist of how she’d get out of last weeks situation instantly but the Brigadier reference they put in there was quite nice. It was nice for her to go off and do her own thing last week but in this episode she seemed to act very out of character when it came to the climax. It felt far too similar to the Day of the Doctor’s resolution and wiping her memory robbed her or any development here. I personally think that they should’ve swapped her out for Rebecca Front’s Colonel Walsh instead as her character fitted the situation far better and there had even been some possible build up to this last week during her scenes. It’s a shame she didn’t appear at all in this one at all as it feels like her character only had half her story told.

While we’re on the topic of the ending though, wasn’t the Doctor’s speech there just fantastic? It will almost definitely be one of Capaldi’s defining moments and while the American accent was quite annoying (albeit not as annoying as Missy’s was) it didn’t detract from the overall quality of the writing or the rest of the speech. And it’s not one of those grandiose speeches which Matt Smith had which only really served to big the character up, it’s instead a speech which could very easily be applied to the real world and it nicely tied up the anti-war theme of the episode. It’s almost call back to the Pertwee era as many of his stories had a strong political message. The Zygon splinter group itself is also very much a parody of modern day terrorism. It even directly paralleled to the idea that many people in our society blame all Muslim’s for the actions of a few radicalised groups and it did this right. And yet some people have still found something to complain about here by calling the BBC insensitive for broadcasting a plane getting shot down only a week after a plane was tragically struck down in real life. Now I am not trying to be insensitive here but surly viewers will be able to distinguish between real life and fictional events. It’s not like the production team are making light of this terrible situation and parodying it as it was filmed long before this event occurred. Cutting it out wasn’t exactly an option either as it was too crucial to the plot and it was last weeks cliff-hanger for heavens sake. I’m just glad we didn’t have a repeat of the Robot of Sherwood beheading scene fiasco but anyway, I’m going way off topic and way too political so let’s cool down a bit by talking about Osgood. She was a great character and while she didn’t do much beyond give the Doctor someone to talk to it was still nice to have her there. Also, it would’ve been great for her to have had at least one trip in the TARDIS as I feel she brings out a lot of good qualities in Capadi’s Doctor.

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Overall, I give The Zygon Inversion an eight-out-of-ten as I can look beyond the flaws in the Zygons and see that this is a really strong story with a great speech that it very relevant to events occurring in the world right now. Also, if you’re in the mood for more Kate and Osgood then you’re in luck as Big Finish just released UNIT: Extinction in which they and the rest of UNIT face the Autons. Alternatively the adventures of the Doctor and Clara continue in Sleep No More. It’s a found-footage style story by Mark Gatiss and will hopefully include some good, old fashioned sci-fi horror. So then, until next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Zygon Invasion

November 2, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


The Zygons are back and it appears that this is a story that has been in the works for a long time now. It all began during fiftieth anniversary, where a rather bland Zygon subplot is now revealed to have simply been laying the groundwork for this story. Following the events of this subplot in The Day of the Doctor a peace between humans and Zygon’s is established, with the two Osgoods acting as the living embodiment of said peace. Skip forward a year and one of the Osgoods is disintegrated by Missy, an action which I doubt even she was aware of the full implications. Now the peace is breaking down and a Zygon splinter group are now trying to claim the world for themselves. When I first heard about the story everything about it excited me except the fact that it was written by Peter Harness who of course wrote last years train wreck of an episode Kill the Moon. Then it was revealed that Osgood would be returning and I started to worry. Not because I dislike Osgood but because her Death in Heaven really meant something at the time and it felt like that was being thrown away and yet another death in Doctor Who didn’t mean anything. The few glimpses we got in the series nine trailers looked good but it was the individual episode trailers that got me really excited again. My hopes were held high again but I still had this thought in the back of my head reminding me that I felt the same way about be trailers for Peter Harness’s last story. The clips then came along midweek and they didn’t look too good out of context. So there’s been a lot of ups and downs on the road to this story but now that I’ve seen the first episode of it, what do I think?

Well, I thought that The Zygon Invasion was the best episode of series nine so far. Admittedly I wasn’t a fan of the once upon a time opening and for the first five minutes it felt like my worst fears about the episode had been confirmed. The Zygon’s using electricity now initially annoyed the hell out of me and especially considering that they got the sting so right in The Day of the Doctor this just felt like a cheap gimmick. But once we were beyond the opening titles and I’d had a chance to calm down I actually started to enjoy it. Not long after that I was riveted to it and was disappointed that I couldn’t immediately go straight on to the second part. So I did the next best thing a just watch the first part again. The second viewing definitely helped and some of the things that annoyed me the first time really ended up feeling like simple nitpicks the second time. The electricity still didn’t work for me though and the fact that it turned people into things that look like tumbleweeds just felt like an excuse not to show actual dead bodies on Doctor Who. Now I’m not a psychopath who gets a kick out of seeing dead bodies but I do feel that actual bodies would’ve had more of an impact. Other than that the Zygons were great and felt very menacing. Also, given that the electricity thing is my biggest complaint that just shows how strong the episode really is.

The episode had more than a couple of parallels with modern-day terrorism. The Zygons using Osgood to send out there message. The fact that many are blaming the vast majority for the actions of a few. These are all things that relate to problems we have in the real world and while it does feel like these themes are being bashed over your head from time to time I still feel that it works. It also helps to make the Zygons even more scary as they remind us of people we fear today just like the Daleks reminded sixties viewers of people they feared back then, the Nazis. But that’s not all that made the Zygon’s scary this week as the scene outside the Church was one of the most gripping things I’ve seen in a long while. While it may have been obvious that she was a Zygon the acting made it very tense and the music added to it also. In fact the music added a lot to the episode, as it can be quite creepy at times. Another standout moment was the reveal of Clara being a Zygon and while it was fairly obvious on the second watch I somehow did not see it coming first time around so well done to Peter Harness on that. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where they take this next week with Jenna Coleman playing the main villain. Exciting stuff. Also, poor Jac. She was quite good in this and even though there wasn’t much character there I feel that the actress did a lot with the role. Another good character was Colonel Walsh who will hopefully be back next week as Rebecca Front worked brilliantly alongside Peter Capaldi. The Doctor obviously dislikes her but not because she’s a soldier but because of her attitude towards the Zygons which works a lot better. But what is probably the best thing about this episode is the global scale of it. It feels like a finale in the way it’s written and a movie in the way it’s directed. Steven Moffat was spot on when he described it as a global urban thriller and it’s a style that’s very new for the series, thus making this episode really stand out.

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Overall, I’m going to give this episode a very high nine-out-of-ten as it simply blew me away. Now there are some things which I deliberately missed out of this week’s review but rest assured that I will bring them up next week as I want to talk about them parts when we have the full picture. Now it probably goes without saying that I’m looking forward to The Zygon Inversion. Having said that though I am worried, as Capaldi’s era seems to have a habit of producing disappointing second halves. Hopefully this will be the exception but until we get the answers we seek next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Woman Who Lived

October 27, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


If you’ve been keeping up with these little review I’ve been doing you’ll know that this series has been rather up and down for me so far. I’m happy to say that this episode was on an up though. Not up as high as Mummy on the Orient Express or Flatline but a definite improve over the last two weeks. Which makes me wonder whether this one will be well remembered in the future or whether it’ll be one of those strong episodes that doesn’t quite stand out for being either really good or really bad so just ends up being forgotten about. Time will tell on that front I guess. But anyway, this Doctor Who story is written by a woman but that’s not the important part about Catherine Tregenna, the fact that she’s very good at writing characters is. And she really is good at it and adds a genuine sense of character to Ashildr (or Me as she goes by now) that wasn’t really there in any great abundance last week. She also does some great stuff with the Doctor and you can really see Peter Capaldi sinking his teeth into all that wonderful stuff. However, the intense focus on character does mean that the plot takes a back seat. Admittedly it is a simple plot and is nothing really new but nevertheless it would’ve been nice to have had a bit more build up and a slightly longer scene for the invasion and it really was far too quick. Me’s sudden change of heart was (as the word sudden would suggest) a bit too sudden and a bit too convenient. That might’ve been more down to directing rather than writing but I do feel that it shouldn’t have been as instantaneous as it ended up being. Just a couple of seconds extra would’ve been able to fix that I think but I guess you can’t have everything.

Speaking more in-depth about Me, she very much feels like a substitute companion in this episode and I am begging to wonder whether or not this was supposed to be a Doctor solo series before Jenna decided to stay as it does feel like most of the episodes would have been no different without her and here she’s just written out altogether excluding a short scene at the end. Did I dislike her absence? Not really as I feel that there was no other way to get her in the episode without detracting from it as a whole. It is very much a two hander between the Doctor and Me and it wouldn’t work any other way. Anyway, back to Me herself. Maisie Williams was great last week but here she take it to a whole other level, probably because the script really allows her to. I really loved the idea of her being an immortal but still having a human sized memory. I also liked that she wanted to explore beyond the confines of her world and join the Doctor. The way those scenes where played though implied there was some sinister reason as to why she knows about the Doctor’s travels but that’s never really followed through on. Maybe that’ll be explored in a future episode? It would be nice to have her back some time.

In terms of supporting character there are only two worthy of note, Sam Swift and Leandro. Sam Swift was wonderful and it’s a shame we didn’t get to spend more time with his character. Leandro however was more of a plot device than a character and was a rather poor villain if I’m honest. He, like the plot, was only really there to push the character drama between the Doctor and Me forward. You could argue that Sam Swift was there for that purpose too but he was a much more entertaining character and had such a style about him thanks to both Catherine Tregenna’s writing and Rufus Hound’s acting that it’s much less noticeable that he’s kind of a plot device. He even gets a bit of development himself and ends up being friends with the Doctor and Me in the end. The gallows humour was very nicely done and while it did feel a bit like padding at the time I appreciate it in hindsight. In terms of humour it fitted in much more with the story than the humour did last week in The Girl Who Died. Speaking of, I did bring up the topic of whether or not I classed it as a two-part story last week and I still stand by my statement that they are two separate episodes but with a small link between them. They each tell their own stories and only really have a single character in common. Or three characters if you count the Doctor and Clara. It’s nice to have that though as it’s great that they’re trying something different the format and also something different in the form of the character of Me.

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Overall, Catherine Tregenna’s Doctor Who debut has a rather week plot but that’s mostly forgivable because it’s main purpose is to be a character piece and it does that spectacularly. I think eight-out-of-ten is a fair rating for this one and I hope I’ll get to give out more scores like this or higher as we enter the second half of the series. The Zygon Invasion is next up and it’s Kill the Moon writer Peter Harness back for another go. It looks to be very good but I said that last year about Kill the Moon and look how that turned out so I’m not counting on it being a classic just yet. However, we don’t have long to wait now so until next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reaction to The Girl Who Died

October 20, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


Following two double-length stories with great first parts but disappointing seconds, it’s rather refreshing to have an episode which is kind of stand alone but not really. Now I personally am not counting The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived as a two-parter as the both appear to be telling their own stories but they are connected by the arc of Maisie Williams’ character Ashildr. Having not seen The Woman Who Lived yet though I’m not one-hundred percent on that. Now this episode seems to be a very dividing one. I know those who loved it and those who absolutely hated it with a passion. Some really liked the Mire part but hated the Doctor’s face part while others were vice-versa. I personally found it to be quite average overall. Some really amazing moments balanced out by some really bad ones. It got off to a fairly strong start (although I felt the Mire were introduced way too quickly) and it was all going fairly well until the resolution. It was far too comedic as were many of my least favourite parts of this episode. Also, the Mire could have easily just return and massacred them all in order to stop the video getting out there. Not very well thought through unfortunately.

So then, what were the moments I enjoyed? Well there were some wonderful conversations between the Doctor and Clara and during those scenes I found myself really liking Clara. I’ve been unsure about her for a while now and still feel that most episodes from series nine so far would’ve worked just as well without her and the plot of this one would’ve functioned just as well without her I don’t feel there would’ve been as much substance. Those wonderful scenes added substance to a story that would’ve otherwise have been rather bland. Now we come to Ashildr who is a wonderful character played by the amazing actress Maisie Williams. Her scene with Capaldi was great and while the script didn’t give her much to do beyond that (hopefully next week’s will) she still made the most of it. When I rewatched it she caught my eye in the background and if you focus on her in the background of these scenes you’ll see her doing some rather interesting things rather than just standing around. They’re nothing too incredible but they’re nice little incidental moments which add to her character as a whole. I’m excited to see what they do with this character next week as there’s a lot of potential there.

The Mire unfortunately went down the route which most new series monsters seem to go down unfortunately as they looked very impressive and I liked it when they had there helmets off as it showed that they weren’t bog standard robots but in terms of story they were very weak and very underdeveloped. But now we come to a moment which I am sure many of you are surprised that I have not bought up already and that is the explanation as to why the Doctor has the same face as Caecilius, a character who casual viewers have probably forgotten from an episode which casual viewers have probably forgotten. Meaning that this is simply for the fans and most of us didn’t really want this thing answered. Well I certainly wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it anyway. So that’s my stance on that well and truly made and it leads up nicely on to my next point which is the Doctor saving Ashildr and to be honest I felt that this would have worked much better if the Doctor had no idea that he was making her immortal and thought he was just saving. That could’ve added a nice bit extra to it I feel. It also could link back to the prophecy mentioned in The Witch’s Familiar about the hybrid. It certainly appeared that way to me.

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Overall, I did expect a lot more from Jamie Mathieson given what he gave us last year but nevertheless this episode did have some great moments. It gets a six-out-of-ten from me which is still a fair rating but not as high as I gave Jamie Mathieson’s other two. Anyway, I’m excited to see where Ashildr’s story goes next week in The Woman Who Lived which is by Catherine Tregenna, the first woman to write for the show in a long time. The episode also looks to be very good from what we’ve seen so far and the setting is very exciting but anyway, until next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to Before the Flood

October 14, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


So then, Under the Lake was magnificent and I was looking forward to more fantastic stuff in this weeks episode, Before the Flood. Like the premiere, I was left sadly disappointed by the second part. Was it a bad episode? Definitely not. Did it live up to the previous episode though? Sadly not, that’s where this one let me down. Now to be honest, I was worried ever since the cliff-hanger as it was obvious that the Doctor wasn’t going to die and that we were going to get a copout solution but I was hoping for something at least a little bit more than the copout simply being a hologram. However, I did enjoy the scene between the Doctor and Clara that we got out of this when he was telling her that he had to die. It felt like Clara turned into Rose a bit towards the end there when she was acting all entitled but other than that I loved the scene. I also quite enjoyed the pre-credits sequence and how it linked into the episode at the end there. I also really enjoyed the rock theme we had over the titles and I’d actually quite for that to stick around for a bit.

Anyway, I absolutely praised the quality of the supporting characters last week so what about this week? Well let’s start with O’Donnell who was shot down by the Fisher King fairly early in the episode. It was a well done sequence but I find it odd that her ghost only shows up at that point in the story rather than being there the whole time since she had died at the same time as Prentis. Given that the whole draw of mixing time travel and ghosts was that you could meet your own ghost it is a bit disappointing that this didn’t happen and having O’Donnell’s ghost there all along through Under the Lake would have made things very interesting indeed. There’s also hints of a possible future story when she mentions a Minister of War, could even be the finale. Now we come to Bennett who didn’t get a whole lot to do last episode. This episode he really gets the chance to step up and even challenge the Doctor at times which made for some great scenes. It’s a shame that his love for O’Donnell never really had any build up to it and was suddenly chucked in there at the end. The love between Cass and Lunn did thankfully have some build up to it but the main thing I like about these two characters is that they (mainly Cass) stand up to Clara and ask her a very important question. Last and also least in terms of supporting characters is Prentis who’s comedy routine seems a bit out of place this far into the story. It was also a bit too in the audiences face causing me to prefer Gibbis from The God Complex.

Now for the Fisher King who thankfully brought an end to Prentis’ comedy routine fairly early in the episode. Other than that though he doesn’t have much going for him. I mean he sounded magnificent and the costume was incredible although shooting him in broad daylight probably wasn’t the best idea as it made the monster look a bit rubbery to me. When in the shadow’s though, he was great. In the end though he just turned out to be a generic Doctor Who monster which didn’t really do a whole lot. Also, the reveal of how he made the ghosts was very poorly done by simply having it be an off handed line. It’s the same problem I have with the reveal of who blew up the TARDIS back in The Time of the Doctor, there was too much mystery and build up there for it to have been simply glossed over as if it were trivial. Speaking of the ghosts though, how didn’t find that scene with Cass and Moran to be simply magnificent? The tension was there and it really made use of the fact that Cass was deaf. Shame there weren’t more moments like that to be honest. And other than that the ghosts didn’t really do anything besides roam the corridors of the base. They felt far too much like a left over spare part from Under the Lake that Toby Whithouse (spelt his name wrong last week so sorry about that) just didn’t know what to do with. Now we come to the whole timey-wimey aspect of the story which I’ve heard many saying that a second watch is required to understand it as it’s apparently quite confusing but to be honest I picked up on everything first time and understood it without requiring a second watch. Oh and before I go any further I’d just like to clarify that I don’t dislike Doctor Who being timey-wimey. I think it’s great when it works but the truth is that it doesn’t work that often. So then the big question is was it done right in this episode? Besides the whole thing about O’Donnell’s ghost I mentioned earlier, yes it was done right in this episode.

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Overall, Under the Lake and Before the Flood were a better two-part story than Capaldi’s other two. Before the Flood on it’s own gets a seven-out-of-ten from me which isn’t a bad rating but it’s substantially less than what I gave last week sadly. So my favourite Capaldi story still remains to be Mummy on the Orient Express and the writer of that, Jamie Mathieson, is returning next week to co-write The Girl Who Died which Maisie Williams will also be guest-starring in. So I’m very much looking forward to that one but until we see it next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to Under the Lake

October 6, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


So despite a promising first episode I ended up being quite disappointed with the series nine premiere overall because of how The Witch’s Familiar failed to deliver. But now we’re back in the swing of things and Toby Whitehouse has now come along with his first two part story. I’ve enjoyed his previous efforts but am not sure how many of them I’d call classics. This episode however, well let’s just say that calling it a classic might be putting it mildly. Yes, I really enjoyed this episode. And if the next episode manages to keep this up then Under the Lake and Before the Flood will easily become my favourite Twelfth Doctor story (a spot currently held by Mummy on the Orient Express) but I won’t commit to that just yet as I have to see the second half. I probably mentioned before how difficult it is to review what is essentially half a story so please bear with me as I try my best to discuss Under the Lake. So let’s start off with the basic premise and that is that an underwater base is under attack by ghosts. Nothing confusing, just straight forward ghosts. We don’t have a full explanation as to what they are yet but I like that there are little hints here and there such as the fact that they can’t penetrate the Faraday cage (probably something to do with the fact that they are transmitters of some kind) and that they can only interact with objects that are metal. So the ghosts are great in this and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the ghost idea when they introduce time travel into the story next week. Now then, as a base under siege story I was sort of reminded of The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit only underwater but thankfully the similarity doesn’t spread too far and this one does end up doing it’s own thing which is great. The sets are wonderful and I like the dirty look the corridors have to them but I don’t find them as claustrophobic as those in The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit which is a shame but I guess you can’t have everything.

Just as a side note, I would definitely recommend watching this at least twice as I picked up quite a bit more on a second viewing and also ended up enjoying it more. For example, I was able to work out that Lunn was spared by the ghost because hadn’t seen the symbols whereas before I hadn’t picked up on that and no doubt that plot threat will play into the next episode. I also found that it flowed much better than I originally thought but I’m not quite sure why that ended up being the case. But anyway, let’s now talk about the crew of the base, one of whom was of course deaf. When I first heard this I thought her inclusion would just be a gimmick and feared that it would slow the story down but actually she ended up being very well utilised in the story and both Cass and her interpreter, Lunn, were very likeable characters. I’d also imagine that Cass was very much an inspiration to the children watching who were deaf. So well done to Toby Whitehouse and actor Sophie Stone for that. But as great as Cass was I can’t help but love O’Donnell just that little but more. I did initially fear she was going to be a copy of Osgood when she had that fangirl moment towards the start but she actually ended up being very different thankfully and I look forward to seeing what they’ll do with her next week. Bennett on the other hand was a bit dull as a character but at least the have time to fix that. Moran and Pritchard were the red shirts here but it’s nice that Toby Whitehouse made them fairly rounded characters before they died.

Now we come to the Doctor and Clara who were both great in this episode. Admittedly Clara didn’t have too much to do but since many episodes in series eight were dominated by her I’m fine with the Doctor taking the lead again. Plus, now that they’re split up she’ll probably have more to do next episode. I think they’re scene together in the TARDIS was quite nice but the main stand out was the flashcards and it’s great that you can go back and read the other ones despite them being only a minor detail in the story itself. There’s even a Sarah Jane Smith reference in one of them. Unfortunately I’m going to have to stop being positive for a moment as I will now discuss the only real negative about this episode, the cliffhanger. In isolation, it’s not too bad but given that Moffat’s done the whole idea of the Doctor dying to death (we had it in the previous story for crying out loud) I just felt a bit fed up with it at this point. Also, I don’t feel it was shot very well. Having the Doctor’s ghost slowly advance towards the camera would’ve been far more effective in my opinion.

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Overall, of course I loved this one and although I was negative about the cliffhanger I have faith that Toby Whitehouse will be able to change my mind about this next week. So there’s not much else to say beyond me giving this one a well deserved ten-out-of-ten. Now I only hope that Before the Flood can live up to this story and that Toby Whitehouse will provide a satisfying conclusion, and given how well thought through this one was I don’t see why next week should be any different. Anyway, those are just my opinions so be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Witch’s Familiar

September 29, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


Last week I was more positive about Doctor Who than I had been in a while, I thought that The Magician’s Apprentice was an incredible episode and I still think it is. It’s not flawless by any means but it was a solid start and I was looking forward to seeing how they’d continue with what they’d set up here. Fast forward to now and I am, unfortunately, disappointed with how The Witch’s Familiar turned out. While it’s not a bad episode by any means I just feel that it fails to live up to my expectations which were understandably high after The Magician’s Apprentice. Let’s start off with the elephant in the room, the Doctor usurping Davros from his chair. While a story this dark does require comic relief I feel that it could’ve been done in a better way than this. It undermines Davros as a villain, it doesn’t move the plot forward whatsoever and it takes time away that could’ve been used to flesh out that conclusion. Admittedly the dodgems line was funny but the scene was so jarring tonally that it just left a bitter taste in my mouth. Also, the Doctor just took away a dying mans life support so that he could go for a joy ride, that is not in character for him at all. Admittedly we did have a similar scene last week with the Doctor playing a guitar but I felt that worked better as it didn’t undermine the villain and didn’t seem too out of character for the Doctor.

Anyway, let’s be a bit more positive now and talk about what did work such as Missy. Still not the biggest fan of hers but it felt like this episode knew what to do with her. She was downright evil but you couldn’t help but love her for it. She wasn’t trying to take over the universe or anything like that, she was just messing with the Doctor but in a far better way than in Death in Heaven. Trapping Clara in a Dalek and then trying to get the Doctor to kill her was genius and was the most tense scene I’d experienced in Doctor Who for a long time. My heart was racing and the Doctor had a look in his eye that showed he could’ve done anything. It was also a nice call back to Asylum of the Daleks and it was wonderfully played by Jenna Coleman. Clara and Missy also had quite a nice double act going on earlier but the comedy didn’t jar with the tone unlike a certain other scene which I won’t go on about again.

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The Dalek sewers were an interesting idea and the sequences in them were quite well done. The design as great too and the way that Missy defeated the Dalek down there was quite cool too. Not so sure about her accent there though. I also think it was nice that they weren’t just a background detail and that they actually came into play in a big way at the end there, being a key part of the resolution itself. Plus, the revolting sewers line was great. The only problem with their involvement in the resolution is that it makes Davros seem rather foolish to have overlooked them. That and the fact that the Daleks can fly so most of them could have easily escape the destruction of the city. Another minor problem is Colony Sarff really intriguing last week but this week there was no explanation as to what exactly he was and he’s ultimately a repeat of the Whispermen, a very good idea but nothing really beyond that.

Another thing that annoyed me is that the episode never tackled the moral dilemma that should’ve been at the heart of it all: is it right to kill a child who will grow up to be a mass murderer? The last episode set that up so nicely but this episode threw that idea away. The older Davros scenes seem to have slipped too. Last episode Steven Moffat understood Davros perfectly and his speech about the Daleks at the end proved that. This episode, he doesn’t completely ruin him by any means but he misses the potential that was there from last time and makes this feel like just another Davros episode as there are no real consequences. Davros makes a full recovery and what was that whole thing about the Daleks getting regeneration energy? The threat there was never really explored because too much time was being wasted and because of this I just ended up not really caring. The Daleks honestly posed no threat at all here and their plan only really came in to play right at the end of the episode, quite shocking given that it’s the second part of a two part story. We never got an explanation as to why there were classic Daleks there either which is annoying. Then there was a prophecy randomly thrown in there which I totally missed the first time around. I mean what in the world was that all about? Hopefully it’ll be explained at some point as part of an ongoing arc or something.

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Overall, The Witch’s Familiar has a lot wrong with it and while it pains me to do this I can give it no higher than a six-out-of-ten. It was too disconnected from the previous half and failed to live up to it as well. The two parter as a whole felt like Steven Moffat was just throwing too many ideas at a wall and seeing what would stick and so what we end up with is a rather poorly constructed but somewhat enjoyable story. Hopefully Toby Whithouse can do better next week with the first of another two part story, Under the Lake. With ghosts and time travel it certainly seems promising but until we see it next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Magicians Apprentice

September 22, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


It’s been a long wait but Doctor Who has returned at last and with it so have my posts about the episodes following their broadcasts. It’s now been over ten years since the series came back in 2005 and the ninth series has just kicked off with The Magician’s Apprentice, an intriguing title which does seem to have a lot to do with the actual episode. It’s also the first of a two-part story and it looks like we’ll be getting quite a few of them this series. The series eight finale was the first two-part story we’ve had in a long while and now they appear to be back with a vengeance. This is one of things that excites me about series nine as I feel that having two-parts really allows a story to breath and allows for more time to give a satisfying and unrushed ending, something a lot of stand-alone episodes seem to struggle with. However, two-part stories aren’t always the easiest to review as I’m ultimately only review half a story at a time. But I’m not going to let that stop me as I actually really enjoyed this episode and I want to discuss that. Yes you did read that last bit right, I really did enjoy this episode. It’s probably one of the best Doctor Who stories Steven Moffat’s written in a long while. And here’s why.

Well for one thing it feels a lot like a finale in terms of scale, which is something that a lot of people have commented on. But at the same time as feeling like a finale it also doesn’t have any overarching plot threads leading up to it so it has less to tie up and so it be enjoyed a great deal more on it’s own. But I’m not just talking about scale in terms of it being set in loads of different locations stretching all the way across the galaxy. I’m talking about scale on a personal level as well, namely for the Doctor. Speaking of the Doctor, I quite like the direction they took with his character in this episode as it appears to be much more balanced where are last series he appeared to be all over the place. He’s becoming slightly more like Tom Baker but he’s still retaining many of his defining characteristics and overall I’m quite happy with this new direction as long as they don’t loose what made him work in the first place.

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Now for one of the biggest surprises of the episode, the reveal of Davros. At least it would’ve been a surprise if the thing hadn’t leaked a while back. Never the less, it was exciting to see it come to life and those opening minutes leading up to the child’s name being revealed were breathtaking. I do feel that the soldiers death should’ve been a bit slower though, rather than just a sudden pull down beneath the ground. The whole idea of having a young Davros though feels very much inspired by Genesis of the Daleks but at the same time it doesn’t feel like they’re retreating that same ground. Then we get the reveal of the older Davros, once again played phenomenally by Julian Bleach, and that was something I was not expecting but I’m really happy to have him back. Also, I think we’ve finally found a proper villain who Moffat can write well for. He’s made Davros as devious as he was back in Genesis of the Daleks and I think that’s great. I only hope that he can keep this up in The Witch’s Familiar and not do what Death in Heaven did with Missy, who I will discuss in due course. It’s also nice that Davros isn’t planning anything big (that we know of) but he’s instead just getting as much enjoyment out of his final days of life by ruining the Doctor’s. Now that’s just downright evil. But then again, he could just be faking it and either way I don’t think I’d mind. It was also a nice touch to have Davros using his hand to lift up his head, it’s just one of those little things that does a lot to enhance the story.

Now on to Missy (it’s amazing how much there is to talk about in this episode) who appears to be going more in the direction of being an anti-hero in this story. However, she could just as easily be up to something. While I do think it would be truer to the character to have her be up to something I feel that if she were then there might end up being a bit too much going on in the next episode. As for Michelle Gomez, I feel that she was much better in this than she was last series. Maybe it’s because there’s no more mystery as to who the character is so she’s just free to be the Master or maybe it’s because she’s has more time to get settled in to the role. It’s nice that Missy describes her relationship with the Doctor as simply a friendship (an infinitely more complex friendship than anything on Earth) rather than a romance which had been hinted at rather too much for my liking last series. She is still a bit too overly sexual for my liking though. Anyway, now let’s talk about Colony Sarff who we’ll hopefully find out more about next episode. In this one he was quite a good villain, if a little single mined at times but the reveal of the snakes and the way that was done was wonderful. Now you’ve probably noticed that I’ve avoided talking about a certain topic and that is Clara. I’ve been saving her for last so that I can talk about that that cliff-hanger but first is Clara herself. She was alright, I guess. She played her part well but this story seems to be all about the Doctor and I’m fine with that given the amount of attention she got last series. Hers and Missy’s deaths though (while obviously fake) were never the less well used, mainly for their impact on the Doctor, leading him to point a gun at a young Davros in the final moments of the episode. Those moments were a bit too quick for my taste but I do like the dilemma it poses there.

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Overall, I think The Magicians Apprentice is the best series premiere since the show came back. Admittedly I wasn’t sure what to think about it the first time but after watching it again I really enjoyed it and would give it a strong nine-out-of-ten. While it does dip a bit in the middle with the Doctor’s guitar solo I can’t really deduct more than a point for that and the rest of the flaws were just minor things really. I didn’t really talk about the Daleks as I’m saving them for next week as they were hardly in this episode and speaking of next week, I have high hopes for The Witch’s Familiar and hopefully it will deliver but until we find out for sure be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.