Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 2 – Day of the Moon.

Saturdays, BBC 1.

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

After last week’s strong start I was hoping that this week’s episode would be an equally strong episode to complete the two-part story. I sat down to watch it expecting answers to at least some of the questions raised by The Impossible Astronaut, more brilliance from Canton Everett Delaware III, and more scares from The Silence. I was certainly not disappointed. I can’t begin to write about all the parts I’d like to talk about, so I’ve picked just a few.

Jump around.
Day of the Moon was definitely an episode you had to pay attention to. I watched the set up where Canton “killed” Amy, Rory and River and delivered them to the special prison that was being built around the Doctor wondering what the twist was going to be – whilst I didn’t expect them to be dead I didn’t also expect it to be an elaborate hoax that took advantage once more of the TARDIS’s ability to be invisible. The following sequences where story threads appeared to be left unfinished but were then woven in later made sense by the end of the episodes but a couple of times the seemingly abrupt move between threads did feel a little jarring.

Continuing creepiness.
I expected to be scared once more by the Silence and I absolutely was. The scene where Amy was exploring the children’s home left me tempted to grab a cushion in case it got any scarier. Added to this was the new scare that came in the shape of the woman in the door who then disappeared. Her appearance was enough to make me feel nervous about her whereabouts. I’m assuming that the fact that she never reappeared means she must be coming back in another episode.

Brilliant Canton.
I am sure that Mark Sheppard’s Canton Delaware will now be making his way onto many fans’ wishlists for returning characters. I loved the way the balance was kept between him getting involved and him still being wowed by the new things he was being introduced to. I would definitely be very happy to see him aboard the TARDIS in the future.

The end may be a beginning.
Once the storyline with the Silence was finished (though I’m not sure they’re done quite yet) it was nice to see that Steven Moffat wasn’t going to let the episode fade to an end. From River’s realisation that her kiss with the Doctor was his first, to Amy revealing that whilst she had thought she was pregnant she wasn’t (though the scan done by the TARDIS seems unsure on that matter) and then the final revelation that the little girl has the ability to regenerate it felt like the last few scenes were all pointing out that this series is one great long story.

Whilst some of my questions from The Impossible Astronaut were answered I thing I ended up with even more by the end of Day of the Moon. I’m more than willing to just sit back and trust Steven Moffat to fix everything in my head at some point either this series or some time in the hopefully not to distant future.

What did you think? Who do you think the little girl is? Where do you think this series is going?

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Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 1 – The Impossible Astronaut.

Saturdays, BBC 1.

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Saturday saw millions tune in to watch the opening episode of the new series of Doctor Who, what they saw was probably the most ambitious opening episode in modern Doctor Who’s history. I’m not going to attempt to summarise it – I think I’d need to watch it a lot more times before I could begin to think about doing that. Instead I’m going to share some of my favourite things about the episode, in no particular order.

Start with a bang.
We’d been told that one of the four main characters was going to die during the first two episodes, I felt fairly confidant it was either going to be Rory or River (despite the warning it was a proper death I suspected there would be a get out clause so it didn’t matter that we already knew how River dies), never once did I think it would the Doctor who died. The shock of his death combined with the rather spooky way it happened (I found the spaceman walking out of the lake pretty creepy) left me feeling that anything could happen.

A welcome addition.
As I said in my preview post I was really excited about Mark Sheppard’s guest spot for the opening two episodes, when he appeared I was thrilled with the role he got. I thought using his father to play his older self was a great choice, far better than the original plan of using ageing make up! The use of Rory as Canton’s guide to everything TARDIS worked really well, I can’t wait to see what else Canton gets up to in the second part of this story.

Attack of the greyliens.
From the promotional images of the Silence I didn’t really know what to expect from the alien species, I certainly didn’t expect to be quite so creeped out by them. The Silence are a brilliant creation because, like the Weeping Angels, they could actually exist in our world. The combination of this and the way they just appeared kept me feeling uneasy for the majority of the episode.

A dynamic change.
Moving the power and knowledge from the Doctor to the companions was a bold move and one that I think has really paid off. The scene where they had to persuade the Doctor to trust them was particularly effective. The balance of having River Song back along Amy and Rory definitely helps this, I think her experience and knowledge is essential.

In addition to all of these things I loved the performances turned in by the four lead actors, each of them was at their absolute best in this episode. If this is how series 6 starts I can’t wait to see how it ends, but for starters I want to see how that cliffhanger is overcome!

What did you think? How do you think that cliffhanger will be resolved?

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Doctor Who Series 6 – Just 24 hours to go.

With just twenty four hours to go until the start of the new series of Doctor Who I thought it was time that I had a think about what I am most looking forward to. I’m a bit of a spoilerphobe so I’ve not been seeking out information about the series, though as a keen follower of a number of Doctor Who and general geeky blogs and a Doctor Who Magazine subscriber I have managed to absorb enough information to be feeling really excited.

There seems to me to be a whole lot to be getting excited about, though for me the main things are:

  • The two-part opening – for the first time since Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005 the series will open with a two-part story. All the reports from the press screening have been excellent, and it boasts some great guest stars (I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been waiting for the brilliant Mark Sheppard to turn up) and the return of fan favourite River Song. Add in the backdrop of US location filming and I can’t wait to get watching.
  • The mid season finale – this year we’re getting Doctor Who in two sections, seven episodes now and then the remaining six in the autumn. Whilst the idea of having to wait for half of the series doesn’t excite me (once it starts I know I’m going to want to see it all) the idea of a cliffhanger worthy of a mid season break does make me think that it’ll be worth it.
  • Pirates – the idea of a pirate themed episode fills me with glee, adding Hugh Bonneville to the cast list is just the icing on the cake.
  • Neil Gaiman – like many I love Neil Gaiman’s writing and am thrilled that he has written an episode for the new series. I have really high hopes for it.

It wouldn’t be right to finish this post without acknowledging what a sad week this has been for Doctor Who fans. The news on Tuesday evening that the wonderful Elisabeth Sladen had died left me both shocked and saddened. Like many I was new to Doctor Who when it returned in 2005 but by the end of the episode School Reunion I could understand the love long term fans had for her and her character Sarah Jane Smith. I was really pleased when Sarah Jane got her own series, and enjoyed every episode. Fans Tony Lee and Susie Day, and the children who’ve posted on the Newsround story say it better than I possibly could.

I’ll be back every week with my thoughts on the latest episode.

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Outcasts – Week 2

I have spent a lot of time thinking about Outcasts this week, and what I was going to write about it. I’ve changed my mind more times than I can count, but I have finally come to the conclusion that Outcasts is not for me.

On Monday I settled down to watch the third episode, hoping that it would be moving away from the exposition and that more would happen. To a certain extent it did, there was certainly more going on, but for me it just didn’t work. Throughout the episode I began to realise that I didn’t really care about any of the characters or what happened to them. This point was driven home to me by the penultimate scene of the episode, an emotionally driven sequence that would typically have reduced me to tears – I watched it without even a lump in the throat. Once the episode had finished I decided that I was going to watch no more episodes.

After I’d made that decision came the news that Outcasts was going to be moved to a Sunday evening graveyard slot after episode 5. This news saddened me, and started me thinking about whether I had been too hasty in my decision. After plenty of thought I have decided to stick with my original plan, but I do it with plenty of regret.

Whilst Outcasts hasn’t worked for me and for many viewers it is not a programme without positives. The decision to make it was a bold one, I can’t tell you how much I wish it had paid off. I still believe strongly that the concept of the programme was sound. I have also been impressed through all three episodes with how the show looks – the South African landscape has been used wonderfully to create Carpathia and the effects based work has been excellent.

I’ve seen a few different commentators suggesting that if the UK tv schedules allowed for the double length or extended length pilot episodes that other countries give their genre tv the series may have panned out differently. I think there is of merit in this idea, with so much world building needed at the beginning of the series this may have allowed the dialogue and pacing to work differently and produced a more engaging show.

So this will be my final Outcasts round up. What do you think? Are you still watching?

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Outcasts – Week 1.

BBC 1, Mondays and Tuesdays, 9pm.

This week has seen BBC 1 venture back into the world of sci fi. With a great cast and an interesting concept I was intrigued to start watching, but wary as I remembered the last few attempts such as The Deep and Survivors. Sadly my niggling doubts proved to be true and by the end of this week’s two episodes I found myself wondering whether I was going to be able to make it to the end of the series.

I’m not going to attempt to summarise what went on in the two episodes, but I thought instead I’d highlight the bits I liked and some of the bits I didn’t like. So starting with the positives:

  • The setting – choosing South Africa as the filming location for Outcasts seems to have been an excellent move. The landscape is unfamiliar enough to be totally believable as an alien planet and it’s natural beauty is allowing for some gorgeous scenery shots.
  • It’s not Utopia – there is plenty of information so far to tell us that the move of the human race to Carpathia has not been a smooth. The hinting about tough decisions, and Mitchell’s intended mini revolution definitely adds to the intrigue.
  • Mitchell – Jamie Bamber’s portrayal of the rebel Mitchell was for me a highlight of the first episode.

The final point there leads me neatly onto the negatives of these first two episodes:

  • They killed Mitchell – I sat open mouthed after Fleur shot Mitchell, unable to believe that before the end of the first episode they’d killed off the most interesting character.
  • Exposition, exposition, exposition – the majority of the dialogue for the first two episodes was handed over to exposition to the point where I was resisting the temptation to shout “I don’t care” at the television. Despite the exposition heavy dialogue though I found myself still having so many questions about what was going on.
  • Haven’t we seen this before? – at various points throughout the first two episodes I found myself feeling a sense of deja vu, the influences of other sci fi shows are definitely clear to see at times.

I shall keep watching but that’s mainly because I always do end up sticking with stuff that’s ropey in the hope that it’s going to get better.

Did you watch this week? Will you be tuning in again?

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The Apprentice Week 2: BBC1, Wednesday, 9pm

 

Head of Business Management, Stella English

 

For quite some time I had an unhealthy addiction to the Daily Mail website. I would check it every morning and scroll through the Showbiz pages getting more and more angry. Sometimes I would mention things I’d been outraged by on Twitter. Once I set off a chain of outrage that spread across the media and culminated in a (rejected) complaint to the PCC (I was the first to tweet about it. Srsly.). Eventually, I read something so offensive that I decided I wouldn’t visit the site anymore. It was surprisingly tricky, but I’ve never regretted it. Occasionally, I follow a link and find myself there. Within seconds I’m gasping with outrage – “Do they really think going shopping damages someone’s masculinity?!” “WHO CARES IF ELLEN POMPEO HAS SIX TOES?!” My stomach starts to clench. Sometimes I click over to Twitter to have a rant. And then I stop myself. And I remind myself that if I hadn’t come on the site, I wouldn’t be feeling this way. And I tell myself to step away. And I step away. (Usually.)

Why am I wittering on about the Daily Mail website? Because last night’s Apprentice had the same effect on me. Why am I putting myself through it? I didn’t find it entertaining or amusing, I just found it incredibly infuriating. Why do I care which of these unprofessional, immature, illiterate idiots gets a job working for another unprofessional, immature, illiterate idiot (did you read the tweets Lord Sugar sent to Kirstie Allsopp last week?!). I don’t care. I really don’t.

When my friend Helen said on Twitter last week that she hates The Apprentice and doesn’t understand why everyone loves it, I replied that actually everyone hates it, that’s part of the fun. But I didn’t find last night’s episode to be fun at all. It just made me angry. And sad. Sad that when Lord Sugar put a woman in charge of the male team, it hardly took the men any time at all to put her in her place by suggesting that she pose in a bikini for the shit product they’d designed. “Take one for the team,” they said. And she did.

Last week I was irritated by Lord Sugar’s casual sexism. When the boys bickered in the boardroom, he quipped that you would’ve thought they were the girls. You know, cos girls are hysterical, everyone knows that. Even high-powered business girls. This week, the women had the opportunity to prove him wrong. And they bollocksed it up royally. Eventually, Karren Brady had to have words with them – telling them that since they are “representing businesswomen today, one of which I am” they should, you know, try not to be such awful, shrieking, idiotic morons. (I’m paraphrasing.)

I’ve been trying to tell myself that it’s always like this at the beginning of the series. I always hate everyone because the production team focusses on the most appalling contestants, but… I’m not sure I can take much more.

They are worse, aren’t they? Or is my tolerance just lower? What did you think?

 

Joy was fired. It was a stupid decision, but no one really cares.

 

Strictly Speaking: Week 2

Saturday Live Show

Here we go! Week 2 and all 14 couples were dancing in this epic TWO HOUR show. TWO WHOLE HOURS. I recommend that you make yourself comfortable. This week Tess was wearing an immensely unflattering, boob-squishing grey satin frock.  It did not look good.

Matt and Aliona kicked off proceedings with a foxtrot to She Said by Plan B. I really like this song but wasn’t so keen on the arrangement they used, it seemed really disjointed to me. I did enjoy their foxtrot, although I wasn’t wowed by the rather sudden handstand-y jump thing (more technical terms for you there) right at the end, which Craig picked up on. There’s no doubting that Matt is really very good (in fact he’s getting on Len’s wick as he’s “not supposed to dance this well in week 2”), but I’d have preferred Aliona to choreograph something simpler that would show off his dance technique, rather than his gymnastic abilities. They equalled their week 1 result with another 31 out of 40.

Peter Shilton’s hairline with that weird little fringey bit at the front bothers me greatly. As did his salsa. In the VT he claimed that the salsa was bringing out the animal in him, which is an image we could all do without. As was his salsa. This week Wardrobe had stuck a glittery football motif on his backside, as Bruno correctly pointed out it was unwise to draw attention to this area. This was not a good salsa, all stompy and clumsy. Erin, in lurid fluoro green and with skin the colour of teak, gives me a headache. Len and Alesha awarded fives (the total was 17)! FIVES. I wept.

Tina and Jared’s foxtrot (to On the Sunny Side of the Street) was more old-fashioned Hollywood than Matt and Aliona’s and I thought Tina looked graceful and more comfortable than she did in the cha-cha. She was holding her neck at rather a painful-looking angle though, Jared definitely needs to work on her frame and posture. There were some timing issues too, which Craig highlighted, but it was a definite improvement, resulting in a score of 26. I wish someone would improve Alesha’s grammar: “You was charming”. AAARRRGGGHHHHHHH.

I was a bit nervous for Patsy and her salsa – she was so scared last week and latin dances are much more exposing. When I heard that she’d only managed to train for 3 hours this week (due to long days filming her last Holby City scenes) my heart sank. This couldn’t be good, could it? HELL, YES IT COULD. I loved it – she looked amazing (did Wardrobe read last week’s post?), came out with confidence and attacked it. There was a dodgy moment where she went up to shimmy her cleavage at the judges, and her knees were a little bent throughout, but it was great to see her so obviously loving it. Go Patsy! The judges liked it too, giving sevens across the board.

The foxtrot was a better fit for Paul, but you could have driven a bus through the gap between him and Ola. He seems to start quite well but then he loses the plot halfway through and looks like he’s sleepwalking through it. According to Paul this is because he can’t remember what’s next. Well, he *is* 72. Still, it was most certainly not worth the sixes from Len and Alesha (total 21). Ridiculous! I wept again.

In Scott and Natalie’s VT he talked about his Nan who passed away last year – she was a ballroom dancer and Strictly was her favourite show. Then his Grandad visited them in training and there were “ahhhs” all round. I’d cracked open the wine, ok? They started their salsa (to Let’s Hear it for the Boy, which I love) on the platform above the band, and it was a really energetic, fun routine. Scott did lots of leaps and acrobatics – I bet Natalie took one look at Matt’s gymnastics last week and thought “right, time to shoehorn some somersaults in”. Sue Perkins’ tweet about their costumes “I love the Ken and Barbie headline at G-A-Y outfits on these two” was spot on. Craig described their salsa as “flame grilled and red hot”, and they scored eights all round, giving them the highest score so far of 32. We are safe from assimilation for another week.

Michelle is feeling really homesick (and obviously wounded by the criticism she got from the judges last week), so there was much squealing when Kelly Rowland turned up in training. The foxtrot started with her sat on a park bench and Brendan sliding down the banisters, and once they started dancing it was an improvement on last week, but I’m still not convinced. It was ok, but that’s all. The judges all gave constructive criticism (including Alesha!), with a balance between negative and positive but Brendan got the arse and told them off for being negative. SHUT UP BRENDAN. They scored 26, and there was more whining from Brendan about how Michelle deserved higher marks. He’s beginning to annoy me.

Goldie’s real name is Clifford. CLIFFORD. My concentration lapsed quite considerably during his foxtrot with Kristina (blame the wine), it was only really memorable for the gormless faces he was pulling and the gold trilby perched on his head. My notes say he got 26.

I was really looking forward to Pamela and James’s salsa (it looked great in training). Dancing to Dr Beat, they started with James lying on the judges table and Pamela wearing a white doctor’s coat and glasses. Oh, PURLEESE. I am not a fan of all this gimmicky stuff at all, and I actually think it threw Pamela off – although she had good rhythm and hip action there seemed to be lots of mistakes, including one where she nearly fell over. I do love the way she laughed it off and just carried on dancing – where others might have just frozen – but it was messy. But what do I know? The judges loved it, with Bruno saying Pamela had the right balance of rhythm and fluidity and Len calling it the best salsa of the night. REALLY? They scored 32, making them joint top with Scott and Natalie. REALLY?

Much is made in the training VT of Felicity’s inability to tell left from right, and her poor memory – Vincent just hopes she’ll remember to turn up. She seemed to remember the steps to the foxtrot though, and she looked very elegant in a vaguely Edwardian dress, but it felt a bit forced and frozen to me.  Not terrible, but disappointing. The judges seemed to think so too, giving them 25 points.

And now, the moment the country was waiting for/terrified of (delete as inapplicable): WIDDY AND ANTON’S SALSA! According to Widdy “you don’t have to dance a latin dance like a seduction ritual, you can turn it into a good old jolly hockey sticks stomp”. Er, if you say so. I won’t call what occurred in front of the nation’s eyes a salsa, as Widdy didn’t do any actual dancing – she just stomped about looking cross at Anton and wagging her finger disapprovingly. At one point Anton ripped his shirt open and she spent a good few bars buttoning it back up. Oh, my sides. Then at the end Anton picked her up and twirled her round, to shrieks of hysterical laughter from the audience. I poured myself another large glass of wine. And drained it. The judges looked shell-shocked, with Bruno describing it as a cross between horror and comedy. Len and Alesha both gave fours, which was ridiculous – the total score was 12 out of 40. We’ll have to get used to this, Widdy’s going nowhere for a good few weeks yet.

Kara was very worried about falling over again, but her worry was fortunately unfounded as her foxtrot with Artem (to From Russia With Love – cheesy, in a good way) was very elegant and romantic, with Len praising her for the heel turn and Bruno exclaiming “mission accomplished, Mr Bond” to Artem (who I’m, um, warming to). Craig noted that Kara needs to relax her left index finger (I love how specific he is in his comments), which gave us our first glimpse of Grumpy Len. Up with Tess, Kara was relieved they “didn’t go down” – cue much sniggering. They scored 32, with a nine from Alesha. A NINE! Bruno definitely rolled his eyes at that. As did I.

Now that Gavin is single he’s “in the shop window”. Don’t all rush at once, ladies. Katya has decided to use his looks as a weapon, which meant that there was some shirt-off action in their salsa, to make up for the fact that it was very bad. Gavin clearly found the whole thing embarrassing, there was no hip action at all and I was very glad when it was over. Katya was audibly horrified with Craig’s mark of 3, and their total score was 19. Gavin said he wasn’t that bothered though as he still looked good. Whatever.

After what seems like an eternity (largely thanks to Brucie’s energy-sucking interludes) we reached the final dance of the night, Jimi and Flavia’s foxtrot. Jimi hoped to keep a straight face as for some reason he found foxtrot training hilarious, and it did look to me like he was suppressing the giggles throughout. They danced to Fever, but it didn’t raise my temperature. They spent too much time faffing about on the stage before getting into hold (Len wasn’t happy about that), and there’s just something a bit meh about him for me. Still, they got 30 points, which made Flavia jump up and down.

I’m so glad that someone was going to be voted off this week – I love Strictly but 2 hours really is TOO LONG. At the end of the show my notes had Peter and Erin, Goldie and Kristina and Paul and Ola as candidates for the bottom two. Would I be right?

Sunday Results Show

No dance-off (who goes really is up to the public. Eeek)! No Brucie! Claudia! What do you know, two women presented a prime time show and the world didn’t end.

Main show recap recap recap, blah blah blah…..

They announced who was safe in stages, with Patsy and Robin the first to go through to next week. Yay! Peter and Erin were, as predicted, in the bottom two. Then it was time for a quickstep from the new show dance group. Lovely Ian! Lovely Darren! Some other people! After this another 4 couples were put through to next week, leaving Felicity and Vincent, Kara and Artem, Paul and Ola, Goldie and Kristina and Widdy and Anton to sweat it out until the end of the show to hear their fate. Robbie Williams treated us to a rendition of Rock DJ in which he only sang every other word (and methinks he’s really a bit too old now for drop-crotch trousers), and then there was a VT with all the celebs saying how much they’re loving Strictly and they don’t want to leave. Is it me or does it always sound like Widdy’s arguing with someone off camera – “it’s just having fun! Can’t you guys see that it’s just about having fun!” – as if they’re suggesting being on Strictly can cure cancer or solve world hunger.

Finally we got to the last reveal of who was safe, and what a shock, Widdy and Anton and Paul and Ola will be ‘dancing’ again for us all next week. Oh joy. Goldie and Kristina joined Peter and Erin under the spotlights and ominous music and I just knew that Goldie was a goner. And he was – he looked really shocked too. I know his foxtrot wasn’t exactly memorable but he didn’t deserve to be first out. Honestly, sometimes the public can be really stupid (not you, you’re all very wise and sensible).

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Goldie }