Sapphire and Steel : Assignment 2

April 17, 2014 in Cult TV, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by Hevy782

sapphireandsteel2106

The second assignment of Sapphire and Steel is both longest and notoriously the scariest of all the stories. This story was again written by P J Hammond, who also envisioned and created the series, and it is eight parts long. Again, keeping to the same formula of small sets and minimal casts, its hard to believe that it’s able to sustain itself for eight parts but it does so surprisingly well. While there are moments which feel quite padded out it still manages to keep itself going and there are times where it flies by surprisingly quickly. Watching this, you’d be mistaken for thinking you’re watching a ghost story rather than science fiction as it really does focus more on the ghost story elements that provide all the scares rather than the science fiction which come to think of it there wasn’t that much of at all. It does still provide the explanation as to what ghosts actually are and, unlike many other science fiction series, does draw off this idea that there is life after death. The creature itself in this story is feeding off the resentment of the dead and is using an abandoned railway station as a rallying ground for those who died unjustly. This provides a basic premise for a story which really does feature lots of scares and dark imagery.

For the characters in this we again have a very small cast with only three heroes (if you’ll call them that) in this story. First, we have Sapphire who is as great as ever and is often teasing Steel during this. Joanna Lumley actually gets a lot to do with this character this time around as she not only gets to play Sapphire but a couple of other characters as well, both of which she does with particular unease. Next up there’s Steel who stays himself throughout and is very much the centre of this story with the character of Sapphire spending a lot of time in other roles. I’ll go into more about what he does later but I will say that he takes cold and detached to a whole new level. Finally we have Mr George Tully who is a ghost hunter at the railway station Sapphire and Steel are investigating. He is a good man and the character you really do sympathise with and get attached to the most. It’s also nice and quite convenient from a plot perspective that he is a very open minded man which means he is quickly able to accept Sapphire and Steel and their abilities (which again are not used as much as last time). He is often left in the dark by Sapphire and Steel and they often, Steel especially, treat him quite badly which makes it all the more surprising that he insists on staying there to help them.

sapphireandsteel2204 sapphireandsteel2215

Inhabiting the railway station we have a group of ghosts who were brought there by the Darkness to feed it. Firstly there’s the soldier, later revealed to be Sam Pierce, who was killed by mistake eleven minutes after the end of the first world war. He is the main ghost and also the most villainous. There are times when he comes across as quite innocent and there are others where he scares the life out of you and I think that the actor, Tom Kelly, gets both sides done just right. Next up we have the world war two pilot who not much information is given on but we are told that he was shot down one flight away from being demobbed. Finally there’s a group of civilians who volunteered to go on a experimental submarine during which the air pumps failed. Steel, Sapphire and Tully are made to live through each of these deaths and experience them the way they did in some sequences which really are terrifying. The Darkness itself is never really displayed as a physical form but mainly just as a malevolent entity which speaks mostly through Sapphire in the final two parts.

The setting itself is actually quite creepy but that is only the tip of the iceberg in this story. It has moments that make you jump, like when Sapphire walks out a room and is suddenly confronted with the soldier, and moments that leave you on the edge of your seat, like when the darkness creeps in and consumes the room around Tully. There are so many of these moments that I could go on all day but instead I’m just going to pick out a couple. One that was very well done was when Steel was sitting on the chair listening to a recording when suddenly he is experiencing the pilot’s death and the room around him begins to shake and turn and it very much feels like he’s in a plane but still in that room. It’s not really the scene itself but Steel’s reaction, as he’s a character who has never been visually scared before it’s shocking to see his face full of fear and that really sells the scene from me. Another part is the first time Sapphire is possessed by the darkness where she has solid black eyes which sends a shiver down the spine. This deceives you into thinking the second time will be the same but instead you’re met with a gruesome red face which you see for less than a second which is both shocking and sickening. For the rest of the time when she is possessed you only see her from the back advancing on Steel and it really is terrific stuff.

sapphireandsteel2407 sapphireandsteel2609

One of the most memorable and best moments of the story is the ending to part six which really does have a feeling of hopelessness about it. While the whole thing is generally quite dark and hopeless this moment really does feel like its the end for our heroes with Sapphire in a coma, Steel stuck motionless in barbed wire and Tully fleeing the railway station to look for help. It is here in which the soldier takes his chance to sit and talk with Steel. It really is a great sequence with him being very ruthless to Steel and appearing to be getting his own back on him. The imagery of steel himself being stuck in the wire is quite grim itself but the way the soldier casually talks to him really tops it off. It then starts to dip a bit here in the horror aspects of it as we move into the next episode where they wake up twelve days in the future but it adds a new layer of mystery to the story to make up for this. It could be viewed as a cheap solution to a spectacular cliff-hanger but I think it’s unfair to view it as such and also anything that followed something like that up would be viewed as cheap in comparison. So they add in a new mystery to make up for this which strangely calms the situation while also putting you even more on edge as you know something has to be wrong here, and of course there is.

Now I’m going to move on to the ending and if you haven’t seen the story yet then I suggest you go watch it before reading this part especially as you really should go into this unsuspecting of it to get the full experience. So now we are deep in spoiler territory so if you haven’t turned back by now, then you have been warned. So then, Steel makes a deal with the Darkness where by sending all the dead back where to where they came from and leaving this place it will receive, in return, Tully’s life to change history so it can feed off of the resentment of Time itself. It truly is heartbreaking and the scene where Tully (who seems oblivious to what is about to happen) talks to Steel honestly reduces you to tears. He really was such a sweet character and its such a shame to see him go in such a way that makes you question whether Sapphire and Steel are really the heroes. Steel especially treads a very fine line and while Sapphire obviously isn’t okay with it, she still lets Steel go through with it. It’s also interesting to see how manipulative Steel becomes in the final two episodes and he even acts nice to Tully to gain his trust, in which we find out he has no family at home and only a one-eyed cat named Nelson. Building up this background makes it even more of a tragedy from him and the scream he makes from off screen just sends a chill down the spine and really does hammer the point home. Sapphire and Steel are very much bigger picture characters and are arguably just as dangerous as the threats they fight. Their moral centre is very much in question and if it’s necessary they will sell you out, that’s the way they work. It makes them a very different type of hero and makes Sapphire and Steel possibly the most unique sci-fi series ever.

sapphireandsteel2801 sapphireandsteel2810

To sum up, this one of the darkest and most impressive stories of all. Gone are any elements of a children’s show that were in the first assignment and we now move into a much darker type of story telling. With assignment two now done we move onto the third featuring many more science fiction and futurist elements, along with the specialist Silver played by the brilliant David Collings.

Doctor Who : Runaway Bride

April 16, 2014 in Dr Who by Firebird

drwhobride1

A Wedding. A nice big church, the wedding march plays and the bride walks up the aisle until a golden light surrounds her and she vanishes in a cloud of glowing dust that rises to the ceiling and passes through. The TARDIS is spinning through space and the bride materialises inside. Both she and the Doctor are very confused.

She’s very hostile. She thinks this is all some trick cooked up by her nemesis, Neris. Unfortunately the Doctor has no idea how she got there. She runs to the doors and opens them and is finally silenced by the view of the nebula outside. Her name is Donna.

drwhobride2

The Doctor takes Donna back to Earth but the TARDIS isn’t well and they don’t arrive exactly where she wanted. While the Doctor fusses and natters on Donna steps outside and discovers the old, smaller on the outside business and walks off. The Doctor goes after her and tries to help her get a taxi to take her back to her wedding. But while he’s getting cash (Sonic Screwdriver? that’ll do nicely) she manages to borrow money from a kindly stranger. Meanwhile the Doctor spots a scary masked Santa band, just like the one that attacked him before and as Donna speeds off he realises that the driver is another Santa robot! He runs back to the TARDIS and sets off in hot pursuit.

Donna finally realises that she’s in trouble just in time for the TARDIS to fly up next to the Taxi. There follows a very unusual ‘car chase’ with Donna finally jumping from the moving Taxi into the TARDIS.

drwhobride3

Unfortunately they end up on the top of a tall building even farther away from the wedding. The Doctor gives her a bio-damper ring to stop the santa robots finding her again, and they sit and talk. She tells him about her job and her fiancé Lance and how he used to make her coffees.

They arrive at the ‘wedding reception’ to find that everyone went ahead and had the party without her. Lance is happily dancing with Neris. Everyone starts bombarding Donna with angry questions so she turns on the tears which works very well.

drwhobride4

While the party picks up again the Doctor borrows a phone and starts researching Donna’s employer. Then he notices someone videoing the party and gets him to play back when Donna vanished at the wedding. He recognises the effect, it looks like Huon particles. But that kind of energy doesn’t exist any more, AND it can’t be hidden by a bio-damper. He rushes outside to find the robot Santa band approaching. He and Donna try to find an escape route but they are surrounded. Then the Doctor spots that one of the robots has a remote and becomes suspicious of the Christmas tree. They try to get everyone away from it but then the baubles start to float into the air, very pretty until they start to explode.

drwhobride5

The Doctor uses the party sound system to destroy the robots. He leaves with the head of one of them as there is a signal showing that someone is controlling it. Someone up in the sky, and that someone notices and seems impressed. It’s a someone who looks an awful lot like a giant spider.

The Doctor gets Lance to drive him and Donna to H C Clemants. He tells them that it was previously owned by the Torchwood Institute. He also explains that someone has been dosing Donna with Huon particles, which you hardly find anywhere except in the heart of a TARDIS which is why Donna was picked up by his.

drwhobride6

They travel down to the unlisted sub-basement of the building. In another surreal sequence the three of them travel along a long, green lit, corridor on Segways. The Doctor climbs up an access tunnel and finds himself on the top of the Thames flood barrier. Exploring further they find a lab where someone has been extracting huon particles. Just as the Doctor assures Donna that he will reverse what was done to her a voice cuts in from the next room and a large steel door rises. Lance slips out the door they came in and runs leaving the Doctor and Donna to be surrounded by robots (minus their Santa disguises this time).

drwhobride7

The Doctor comments on a hole in the floor, a very large, very, very deep hole. The Doctor doesn’t want to talk on the intercom and so the one behind all this materialises with them. He recognises her as a Racnoss. The Empress of the Racnoss she corrects.

drwhobride8

Lance sneaks up behind the Empress with an axe while Donna distracts her but rather than strike he starts to laugh. He is working with the Empress, he’s the one who has been feeding Donna huon particles. Not only that, when Donna can’t believe that he would to that he goes off on a rant about how stupid she is and what a torture it was to put up with her. He only agreed to marry her so she wouldn’t leave and mess up the plan.

The Empress orders her robots to kill the Doctor but he uses the huon particles in Donna to sumon the TARDIS to materialise around them. Since the Empress didn’t want to tell him what was so interesting at the centre of the Earth he decides to go back to the beginning of the formation of the planet. Donna is still very upset, but standing in the doorway of the TARDIS seeing the early solar system, the Earth as yet unformed, puts it all into perspective.

drwhobride9

They find the first rock around which the Earth formed and it’s a Racnoss ship. Back in the present day, deprived of her prey the Empress starts force-feeding huon particles to Lance. The TARDIS is yanked back to the present by the particles but the Doctor manages to land out in the corridor. Unfortunately while he’s searching for something Donna is grabbed and taken back to the Empress.

Donna and Lance are suspended in a giant web above the pit. The Empress orders that the particles be activated and they leave the two humans and descend into the pit where they will reawaken the dormant Racnoss ship and it’s occupants, her children. The Empress drops Lance into the pit to feed her children first because she disapproves of how nasty he was to Donna. She also calls down her ship to attack London.

drwhobride13

The Doctor arrives and releases Donna, then he gives the Empress her one chance. He can find her and her children a place to live in peace, but she declines and orders her robots to kill him. This time he has a remote control of his own and deactivates them. Then he tells her the name of his home planet. She’s furious but also frightened, the Time Lords destroyed the Racnoss before and he’s going to do it again. He uses remote controlled exploding baubles to blow holes in the underground complex allowing the river to flood it and pour into the pit where it drowned the Racnoss climbing to the surface.

The Doctor stands there mesmerised by the destruction until Donna calls him. The Empress beams back to her ship where she intends to wreak havoc on the earth, but she’s used up all her energy and is defenceless. Tanks fire on her ship and destroy it.

The Doctor and Donna emerge onto the flood barrier to see that they’ve managed to drain the Thames.

drwhobride11

The TARDIS is parked in an ordinary suburban street. Donna emerges. She’s free of huon particles. The Doctor makes it snow. He asks if she wants go with him, but she turns him down, she couldn’t live her life like he does but she thinks he should find someone, someone to stop him sometimes.

drwhobride12

At the time this was a one off, the Christmas episode with a very temporary ‘companion’ and there was no reason to expect that we’d see Donna again.

Orphan Black Season 1 Review

April 15, 2014 in Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by Zuma

OrphanBlack1

I’m going to split this review into two sections; a spoiler free section and one where I go full spoilers.

SPOILER SAFE ZONE

Orphan Black is a relatively new show with just one season having aired so far and a second season set to start on April 19th on BBC America.

Read the rest of this entry →

Star Trek : The Enterprise Incident

April 14, 2014 in Guest Blogs, Star Trek by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by Mindless-Droid

startrekenterpriseincident12

This week’s classic Star Trek episode is The Enterprise Incident. You can watch the original version here. Captain Kirk who has been acting out of sorts for several days orders the Enterprise into the Romulan neutral zone. The Enterprise is quickly surrounded by the Romulans who are now using Klingon ships. After a short standoff Kirk and Spock agree to transport to the Romulan flagship for negotiations. Once on board the ship Kirk claims that instrument failure lead to the Enterprise’s encroachment into the neutral zone. Spock however blames the captain and appears to be changing sides. Kirk is infuriated and is quickly lead away to a security cell where he injures himself trying to get through the force field. Meanwhile Spock and he Romulan commander who is very interested in Spock and the possibility of him coming over to the Romulan side. She begins to try to convince Spock it is the right choice.

Read the rest of this entry →

Doctor Who Monsters A-Z : Omega

April 13, 2014 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by Hevy782

hevyomega1

Omega was a stellar engineer who once sat on the high council of Gallifrey and is as revered in legend as Rassilon himself, both of whom are seen as two of the founding members of Time Lord society. To customise stars, he created the Hand of Omega, a remote stellar manipulator. With this he performed adjustments on a star near Gallifrey in an attempt to create a power source to for time travel when the star collapsed into a black hole Omega was thought lost in the resulting super nova. His people had their power source and went on to become Time Lords but he was lost in the dimension of antimatter and became angry and bitter at being abandoned. He created a world for himself inside the black hole through the power of mind over antimatter but it was still not enough and eventually found a way to break through into our universe and exact his revenge.

Read the rest of this entry →

Farscape: Look at the Princess Part II: I Do, I Think

April 12, 2014 in Farscape by Firebird

Agents working for Prince Clavor try to assassinate Crichton, but their efforts are thwarted by Clavor’s fiancee, Jenavian Charto. She turns out to be a secret Peacekeeper Operative on a mission to stop Clavor from taking the throne and making a deal with the Scarrans. Crichton goes into hiding, assisted by the Royal retainer, Ro-Na. Meanwhile, Zhaan, Moya and Pilot meet the ‘Builder’ Kahaynu, one of the Leviathan creators. Angry over the birth of the gunship Talyn, Kahaynu orders nothing less than the immediate death of Moya.

Synopsis

Read the rest of this entry →

Alien Isolation

April 11, 2014 in Games, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by BansheeGun

alien-isolation

How long could you last in an empty Space station with an angry Xenomorph? Well, the answer to that question is virtually impossible to answer given the fact that, well, Xenomorph’s don’t exist in real life (As far as we know). Thankfully; however, we don’t need ”real life” to have this question answered! You can have that question answered in the upcoming survival horror game Alien Isolation.

Read the rest of this entry →

Sapphire and Steel : Assignment 1

April 10, 2014 in Cult TV, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by Hevy782

sapphireandsteel112

Sapphire and Steel was a short lived British sci-fi series that has gone on to become a cult classic among many sci-fi fans. The show revolves around two interdimensional agents, Sapphire and Steel who are played by Joanna Lumley and David McCallum respectively. They work for an unknown higher order and their mission is to fix irregularities with Time (with a capital T). Got that so far? Good, because this is where it gets complicated.

Read the rest of this entry →

Doctor Who : Doomsday

April 9, 2014 in Dr Who by Firebird

drwhodoomsday11

A brief reminder of the previous episodes ending with the ominous “this is the story of how I died” from Rose.

Rose confronts the Daleks, the fact that she knows their name and the existence of the Time War gives them reason to pause and not simply exterminate her and the others on the spot. The also seem more concerned about protecting the “Genesis Arc” than what to do with a few humans.

Read the rest of this entry →

Star Trek : Spock’s Brain

April 7, 2014 in Guest Blogs, Star Trek by GuestBlogs

A Guest blog by Mindless-Droid and Siblings

trekspocksbrain7

This week’s classic Star Trek episode is Spock’s Brain which you can watch the original version on the official site here. While on routine patrol the Enterprise is approached by an alien vessel with advanced ion propulsion. As the ship approaches a transport beam is activated and an alien women appears on the bridge. Rendering the crew unconscious the alien walks over to Spock placing her hand on his head. After some time the crew awakens. All seems well until a frantic call from sick bay. It seems Spock’s brain has been removed and taken from the ship. With only hours till Spock’s body dies Kirk must engage in a desperate search to find Spock’s brain and save his friend.

Read the rest of this entry →