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Into the Dalek review (Spoilers)

Two episodes in, and the Twelfth Doctor is shaping up to be epic. How does his first proper story hold up against the opener? But before we get going…

That stare of the Doctor.

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Synopsis

As the episode title shows, this episode shows the Doctor and Clara venturing inside a Dalek, sort of like the Fourth Doctor story The Invisible Enemy. The Doctor finds himself caught in a fight between human soldiers and a fleet of Daleks. The humans have a weapon a Dalek which, according to the Doctor, is “so damaged it became good”. He offers to help go inside the Dalek as he believes that if he can fix this Dalek so that it stays good, he can make the rest of them good. He picks up Clara from her job and they proceed to enter the Dalek…

The main thing to note about this episode is the Doctor. He’s first seen in the episode inside the Tardis, having rescued one of the soldiers from the fight and holding a tray of coffee (the same coffee Clara asked for at the end of last episode). This scene has lots of clever dialogue, as the Doctor literally makes the soldier ask him to take her back to her ship. It’s a great way to show that the Doctor, whatever incarnation, will always try to use non-violence first.

The Doctor

The Doctor in this episode is cold and dark. It’s obvious that he’s still unsure about who he is (hence the “Am I a good man?” scene), but he understands the situation which they’re in. One stand out scene is when he’s inside the Dalek and he tricks a soldier into eating a tracking pill and having him be killed by the Dalek antibodies, allowing him, Clara and the other soldiers a chance to escape the antibodies themselves. This kind of behaviour is definitely not something the Eleventh or Tenth Doctor would have done, making the Twelfth a stark contrast to his predecessors.

What makes the Doctor interesting in this episode though is the fact that despite the fact he is not particularly pleasant in this story, he still has a strong belief that he can make the Daleks good and still has good intentions. When the Dalek turns evil though, he is genuinely upset and even gets slapped by Clara (Capaldi’s lucky, the amount of times Tennant was smacked is a lot more). Despite now being caught in a death machine, he’s still desperate to complete this plan and now aims to make the Dalek good, even if it is just one. However, in the end, the Dalek exterminates all the other Daleks on the ship and remarks to the Doctor “You are a good Dalek”.

Thus, several questions are raised. One: did the Doctor succeed in turning the Dalek good? It exterminated the other Daleks, but that is still wrong. And the second question is all about the final remark the Dalek makes. Both the Doctor and this Dalek have destroyed countless other Daleks in the past, so what makes them different? It’s a great dynamic which should make this Doctor interesting to watch.

The Daleks

The Daleks in this episode are at their coolest. Not only do they actually exterminate people in this episode, but they seem genuinely threatening and have a genuine presence.

The design of the inside of the Dalek is interesting and fun, and the action is a lot more fast paced than last week. The music is also really good and I’m starting to enjoy the new theme now. It has a Classic Who feel to it. This musical track is a stand out-

The episode also shows more of Clara’s life away from the Doctor and also introduces Danny Pink, who will be a major supporting character through the series. However, the beginning and the end of the episode which focuses on him feel strange and don’t link in with the episode. It does raise the fact that he’s a soldier and seeing how the Doctor hates soldiers it would be interesting to see how they will interact in Episode 4.

This leads me to the new segment called “The Top 5 Twelfth Doctor lines in the episode!”. First, the runners-up:

“Don’t be lasagna”

“She cares so I don’t have to”

“He was dead already, I was saving us”

“He’s on the top layer if you want a few words”

And the winner is:

Conclusion (I need to stop using that word it makes the review sound like a test paper)- 9/10 again. There are scenes which didn’t need to be here, but overall it is an interesting look at the Doctor and the Daleks. Onto next week, where I’ll explode in excitement that the Doctor is in medieval England-

 

Chandler’s Ford needs better shops!

So, before I get to the point of this post, I just need to say what’s happening with the Doctor Who review and the Doctor Who posts. Well, because this ISN’T a Doctor Who site, not all of my posts will be Doctor Who. Most of them will, but some won’t, like this one.

So, here’s what I’ll try to write (if I don’t have too much school work):

Mondays – Doctor Who Episode review.

Wednesday – Something not related to Doctor Who, anything from cheese to movies.

Friday – Doctor Who related post linked with the upcoming episode.

But this week, the Doctor Who review will be tomorrow and the “something else” is today. So, let’s talk about…

SHOPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!

We now have a WH Smith in Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh of Hampshire.

We now have a WH Smith in Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh of Hampshire.

On Friday, a new WH Smith opened in Chandler’s Ford (in Eastleigh), where I live. This added yet more stationery and more newspapers to a stationery and newspaper filled arcade. I think, in order to be more varied, Chandler’s Ford needs to be more interesting in their choice of shops. Just look at Eastleigh. There is a huge variety of shops there compared with Chandler’s Ford.

In Eastleigh there is a stationery shop called The Works, which also sells some books. There used to be a Waterstone’s bookshop in Eastleigh but it was closed down last month.

It's a shame that this Waterstone's in Eastleigh has just closed down.

It’s a shame that this Waterstone’s in Eastleigh has just closed down.

In Eastleigh, there are DVD shops, toy shops, charity shops, and a lot more. I know Eastleigh is bigger and it is a town, but I don’t want to take the train to get there (or to Southampton or Winchester) every time I want to buy something. Let’s look at the benefits of having a bigger variety of shops in Chandler’s Ford…

We go to Eatsleigh a lot to buy things.

We go to Eastleigh a lot to buy things.


  • More people will come to Chandler’s Ford, not just for the “mainstream” shops but for the history behind it. Maybe a museum of Chandler’s Ford will inspire people to come and explore the place.
  • As there are many schools in Chandler’s Ford, such as two secondary schools, many children could come after school and buy books and games, so we need to have some book and entertainment shops.
  • It would be good business for smaller companies to set up shops in a smaller and well-established place such as Chandler’s Ford, as opposed to somewhere larger like Winchester. Setting up shops in Chandler’s Ford will mean less competition from bigger companies, and the rent might be cheaper.

My ideal bookshop

So what would my ideal bookshop be? A good bookshop has every kind of book, from comics to travel guides to information books to novels to picture books. That is what the bookshop in Chandler’s Ford should have.

Alternatively, the new WH Smith could provide a book section or I hope there is another bookshop.

So that’s it for my shop ideas. I’m not normally concerned about shopping but recently I have seen a variety of shops in other places during my holiday and I wish my own place Chandler’s Ford (not a town) could provide a varied and fun range of shops.

Eastleigh museum and shops.

Eastleigh museum and shops.

Why are the Daleks so popular?

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The new Doctor Who episode Into the Dalek will be shown tomorrow and I am excited! Why shouldn’t I be? It’s Doctor Who! But many people have stated that it is too early to introduce the Daleks to Capaldi’s Doctor two episodes into the series. I’m optimistic though, after all, every single Doctor (except the Eighth) have faced the Daleks on screen, and the trailer for the episode looks tense and dramatic (which apparently the episode is).

But why ARE the Daleks so popular? What makes them so iconic, so interesting, and so cool?

But first, a bit of history…

History of the Daleks: since 1963

Daleks Three by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/54459164@N00/2623728853"> Johnson Cameraface</a> by Flickr.

Daleks Three by Johnson Cameraface by Flickr.

The Daleks first appeared in 1963 in the story called The Daleks (original, right?). They were the first proper aliens to fight the Doctor and were created by writer Terry Nation, who wrote a story where the Daleks waged war against another race called the Thals.

BBC designer Raymond Cusick came up with the iconic design and thus a sci-fi icon was made. The Daleks originally angered Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman, who wanted the show to be semi-educational and didn’t want any bug eyed monsters.

However, the Daleks were so popular that the historical aspect of the show moved into the background and the sci fi alien aspects took the foreground, with the Daleks appearing in over 20 stories since and making cameo appearances in many other stories.

Over 50 years, the Daleks were given a cohesive back-story within the show. So, for those who are tired of background exposition, here’s the origins of Daleks in pictures (if you already know and want to get to the point of the article, just skip the pictures) -

Davros, a scientist, creates machines to help his race the Kaleds win a war against the Thals. By doing so he removes all emotion from the Kaled soldiers and turns them into weapons the Daleks.

They destroy the Thals but unfortunately for him betray him and supposedly kill him* leaving them to go rogue and try to destroy the galaxy. *All of this text plus the Davros text is revealed in Genesis of the Daleks, one of the best Classic Series stories. Even though you know what happens now, it’s still essential Who viewing.

Lego Daleks by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lostcarpark/4976206209">James Shields</a> via Flickr.

Lego Daleks by James Shields via Flickr.

After scattered groups of surviving Daleks brawl Doctors 9 & 10, they trick the Eleventh Doctor into giving them the DNA code needed for the reconstruction of their race*, creating a new Dalek Parliament as seen in Asylum of the Daleks.

*As seen in Victory of the Daleks, aka the Skittles episode.

Why are the Daleks so popular?

And that’s where we’re at in terms of the shows continuity. I could just end this post now and re-name this Dalek 101, but I want to be different and analyse why the Daleks are so popular.

The first reason is probably their appearance. By now the Daleks are so iconic and so well-known you can see a Dalek silhouette and know exactly what it is. There’s just something about the design that is so simple yet so ominous and menacing. What’s my favourite Dalek design? Well, to be honest, it is the gold-plated New Series Daleks. Unoriginal I know, but the truth.

The Daleks - image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/54459164@N00/5669445634">Johnson Cameraface</a> via Flickr.

The Daleks – image by Johnson Cameraface via Flickr.

The second reason is the fact that they appeal to everyone. When I was younger (David Tennant era), I remember loving the Daleks and now, 8 years on, I still like them. Adults can appreciate the idea of a man (or alien) being turned into a machine and respect the darker parts of the Dalek mythos. There’s a reason Doctor Who Series 1 has a 12 rating well, apart from the Unquiet Dead and The Empty Child, it also has Dalek, a dark and gritty take on the Doctor and Dalek relationship.

Dalek Civil War by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/54459164@N00/5195880804">Johnson Cameraface </a> via Flickr.

Dalek Civil War by Johnson Cameraface via Flickr.

But the most logical explanation as to why the Daleks are so popular, or at least the reason I think they’re so popular, is because they represent real life. Back in 1963 the people of Britain were still recovering from the war. The images of Nazis and war-torn places were still in people’s minds.

The Daleks were used to show the Nazis and people like them, and how evil they were. Both Hitler and Davros hated anything that isn’t them. I can’t be sure, but I think this is what the writers had in mind when they made the Daleks, as a metaphor for evil.

boomSo those are three reasons why I think the Daleks were, and still are, one of the most iconic sci-fi monsters of all time. Get ready with your anti Dalek spray tomorrow at 7: 30!

Where are we going?

Into darkness… 

Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 1 review

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After 8 months of waiting, Doctor Who Series 8 has hit the television with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth (or the 13th if you count John Hurt, or the 14th if you count John Hurt and the second David Tennant) Doctor. So how good is his 75 minute long opener Deep Breath?

Also, spoilers incoming. All my reviews will be in-depth, so make sure you watch the episode first.

Introduction to the new Doctor: Capaldi

As an introduction to the new Doctor, it’s great. From his first word (“Shush”), you can tell that this Doctor will be great. His comedic timing in the first half is funny as Matt Smith’s first few moments and as the episode goes on, Capaldi’s Doctor gradually evolves.

This Doctor is going to be fierce, harsh and 100% awesome. His Doctor seems to be a combination of the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth in terms of screen presence and way of speaking (seeing how the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Doctors are four of my favourite Doctors, that’s a good thing).

The new Doctor Peter Capaldi

The new Doctor Peter Capaldi

This is not Tennant’s lovable charm or Smith’s childish glee, this Doctor is on a mission and he has the weariness of living for over 2,000 on his face. He even states to Clara that he’s not her boyfriend. It makes me desperate to see more of this Doctor and how he will be different.

If there is one flaw, it’s that this Doctor didn’t have a “Oh yeah, jump out of your seat and explode” moment. The scene in the cyborg’s spaceship is pretty epic with very good dialogue but I felt that he needed a scene to properly introduce him. With Matt, you had this -

The opening: T-Rex rampaging

Still, even without epic music and an epic speech, the Twelfth Doctor has had a solid start. But what about the rest of the episode?

Dinosaur in the first episode of Series 8.

Dinosaur in the first episode of Series 8.

The opening scene is great, with a T-Rex rampaging around Victorian London and spitting out the Tardis.

While there may be a dinosaur, cyborgs and a new Doctor, the main focus is on Clara, as she tries to get used to the new Doctor. She gets some character development while trapped in the cyborg ship and tries to escape by telling the leader of the cyborgs that killing her won’t tell them where the Doctor is and that letting her go will result in them being discovered. It’s always great to see a companion getting to know a new Doctor and see how they adapt to him.

Doctor and Carla

Doctor and Clara


The villain

The villain is also pretty good. While his evil plan is rather weak, the idea of a character constantly changing and rebuilding is a nice metaphor for the Doctor’s various changes. As the Doctor points out-

“Question: if you take a broom and replace the handle, and then later replace the brush – and you do it over and over again – is it still the same broom? Answer: no, of course it isn’t, but you can still sweep the floor . . . . You have replaced every piece of yourself, mechanical and organic, time and time again – there’s not a trace of the original you left. You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.”

This is the best part of the episode. What the Doctor is saying is that even though you change something, it is still fundamentally the same inside. The Doctor has changed so many times but each Doctor (except for John Hurts) has the same rules and determination to save the universe.

The cyborg however, has changed so much that he doesn’t know what he is anymore. The ending of the scene ends with the cyborg impaled on a tall tower. Did the Doctor push him, or did the cyborg jump? There are many layers to this story that slowly get revealed. I personally think the Doctor pushed him, as he realised there is no alternative.

The ending

The ending of the episode has two standout moments: the first is Matt Smith’s cameo, talking on the phone to Clara just before he regenerates. I liked this scene as it is basically telling the audience to trust the new Doctor and stay with him.

And the second scene is the equivalent of a Marvel pre-credits scene, where the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere, revealed to be in the finale, appears in what she says is Heaven. Who is she? The Master? The Rani? An evil Clara? River Song? Or someone completely different? Either way, it’s intriguing.

That stare of the Doctor.

That stare of the Doctor.

As for the new opening, well, to be honest, I still prefer the Series 7 Part 2 openings, and the new theme is not as well put together. The music in the episode is unique but it’s not very memorable. Hopefully we can get a definitive theme for the Twelve Doctor.

Conclusion – 9/10. Despite feeling like a Matt Smith story (which is sometimes distracting), this episode establishes the darker, more serious tone which the new series is going to stick with. Next week, it’s Into the Dalek. Sounds good to me!

My Doctor Who Series 8 anticipation

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Ladies and gentlemen, it is 10 days until Series 8 airs, and all around the world Whovians are counting the days until Capaldi’s Doctor brings his own take to the Doctor. But how much do we know about the series? Well, unlike last year where returning monsters and plots were revealed months in advance, this series has done a great job of keeping everything from storylines to monsters to episode titles away from the public. So what DO we know? We know it’s going to be darker, more character driven and more intense and scary. But as for episodes, well, here’s all the information I have gathered so far about all the episodes.

Doctor-Who-Capaldi-feature-220x220

As I have not read the leaked scripts or seen the Cardiff premier of episode 1, there are no spoilers, just information made by the BBC. But if you want to remain completely spoiler-free, I recommend waiting until the series starts. But for those who want to stay, here’s the official trailer for Episode 1 to start off…

  • Episode 1

Well this one we DO know a lot about, because it’s the first episode. The episode is called Deep Breath (no, I have no idea why it’s called that. Maybe the villain steals people’s lungs or something). Being a regeneration episode, this 75 minute long opener needs to establish the new Doctor’s personality and quirks, which I felt was masterfully handled in the Eleventh Hour. It also needs to establish the story arcs and running themes through the series. Not to mention, it has a T-Rex.

The episode will take place in Victorian London and judging from the trailers has an exploding T-Rex and a Jack the Ripper like character. It looks amazing, and the early reviews from the Cardiff premiere have been positive. 10 days to go!

  • Episode 2

With the rumored title of Into a Dalek, this episode sounds pretty interesting. This episode sounds like the episode where the metallic voice in all the series teasers come from, which makes me think this will have the Doctor question his own personality (which might link in with the “Am I a good man” idea this series seems to be going for) as well as providing awesome Dalek action, as the episode is apparently set in a Dalek-human war. I’m excited for this one, but not as much as…

  • Episode 3

HOLY COW! This episode sounds great. Why? It’s the Doctor… meets Robin Hood! This episode is set in medieval England with swordplay, archery and robots! Rumoured title: Robots of Sherwood. I have a feeling this will go down like Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, in which the episode is just so fun and action-packed that you can’t find any flaws. Did I mention the Doctor meets ROBIN HOOD?

  • Episode 4

While Episode 3 is my most anticipated episode, this episode comes a close second. How awesome of an episode does the rumored title Listen sound? Let’s not forget a truly intriguing plot point: When you talk to yourself, what happens if the person you’re talking to isn’t really you? This sounds fascinating, and coupled with the fact the Doctor will allegedly have a mental breakdown makes me yearning to see this one.

  • Episode 5

Time Heist. Just repeat that. Aliens jumping through time and stealing artifacts. That… is almost unbelievably awesome. While the episode hasn’t got a synopsis, the fact that it has been confirmed as a heist episode and the fact that the rumored title is indeed Time Heist makes me excited to see where this goes. Could the villains capture the Tardis and use it as a weapon? I can’t wait to see this one.

  • Episode 6

Rumored to be called The Caretaker, this episode will take place in Coach Hill School (the place where the First Doctor’s granddaughter was in the first ever episode) and have a robot (my money’s on the owl robot seen in the trailer). This one will be funny with dramatic moments, and will be similar to the Lodger, which I think is a very underrated episode. This could be good, but let’s find out.

  • Episode 7

What’s this? Kill the Moon? What a weird title. Anyway, this episode has been described as intense, scary, dramatic but most importantly of all packed with ideas. My favourite Doctor Who episode dealt with strong ideas and complex themes, as do my favourite movies. This episode will remind us that the Doctor isn’t a hero every day, which makes me desperate to find out more about this episode.

  • Episode 8

Okay, take out your time machine. This episode will feature a callback to Matt Smith’s first series, with the rumored title being Mummy on the Orient Express (seriously, they should keep these titles). I am anticipating this one, not only because the setting would be visually unique but because it has the Doctor brawling a Mummy (not his mummy, an Egyptian mummy)

  • Episode 9

Reportedly one of the scariest episodes this series, this story is rumored to be called Flatline and has people going missing, graffiti appearing on the wall and the Tardis shrinking. This episodes monster is apparently so scary the trailer couldn’t put it in.  Okay, prepare to have nightmares. This sounds great, and this could end up being one of the best episodes.

  • Episode 10

Heavily rumored to be the Doctor-lite episode (Blink, Turn Left), this episode features child actors and was the last to be filmed. The episode has a great main visual idea to it and is beautiful and poetic. There have been rumors of a musical episode this series; could this be it? Episode 10’s are great (most of the time) so this one seems interesting.

  • Episode 11/12

A two-parter? Finally! The epic finale has UNIT versus Cybermen, a Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere and has a spectacular cliffhanger to round things off. The Cybermen are some of my favourite villains in Doctor Wh0  and to see them invade Earth will be stunning to behold.

Well, that’s it. 12 episodes, each one sounding unique. I’m glad we’re finally getting a medieval episode and the rest of the episodes seem great. Get your hype counters at the ready!

Guardians of the Galaxy review

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I just got back from a camping holiday on the Isle of Wight with my friend and his family.

During that time we saw the newest superhero movie from Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy. So here’s my spoiler- free review -

220px-Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_logo

Plot of the movie

The whole film revolves around a bunch of oddball characters which include the thief Star-Lord, the genetically engineered assassin Gamora, a talking raccoon named Rocket and his tree buddy Groot (whose only vocabulary is “I am Groot”) and Drax the Destroyer, who is seeking vengeance after his family was killed. All five of these characters end up breaking out of jail and try to figure out the significance of a mysterious orb which the villain, Ronan the Accuser, is after. Many space battles, plot twists, comic book references and hilarious comedy ensues.

Characters

The best thing about this movie are the central characters. Each one of them are unique and interesting with their own quirks. If there’s one thing I love more than team-ups, it’s team-ups where the team are so different from each other and each have their own personal gains. The Avengers had characters which were different from each other, but they all wanted to save the world and stop Loki. In this movie, the characters don’t care about what happens to the orb. Rocket and Groot want to make a quick bounty, Star-Lord has been sent to steal the orb by his boss, Gamora is after the orb as she has been hired by the Collector (briefly seen in Thor 2) to get it and Drax just wants revenge. It’s great seeing these characters work together to get out of the situations and work together to fight Ronan.

These character interactions not only make for great dramatic scenes, but brilliant character driven comedy. I won’t give away the jokes but the funniest characters are Rocket, Star-Lord and Drax, even though Drax is the most serious character with the darkest backstory. You’ll see how he’s funny if you watch the movie.

guardians of the galaxy

The movie does a brilliant job of establishing a tone. It’s not deadly serious like the X-Men movies nor is it a comedy like Monty Python. In fact the opening of the film is very different from the rest of the movie and has a very serious tone, but the rest of the movie doesn’t forget that one of their characters is a raccoon with a machine gun and provides many silly yet exciting moments while having genuinely great dramatic moments (despite only saying three words, Groot adds a lot of emotion into the film).

Conclusion

The galaxy in this movie is brilliantly realised. Every planet and location is unique and the monsters and aliens are very diverse. It didn’t feel like a comic book superhero movie, as these characters don’t start off as heroes, but it feels like a fun and original sci-fi movie, which are some of my favourite kinds of movie.

Overall this movie is superb. Even if you haven’t read a single Marvel comic or seen any Marvel movies, it is still stand alone with its own story. The only parts of the movie with references to the wider Marvel universe are the scene with Thanos, who is going to be the big bad of the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe and whose inclusion into this movie was his second appearance after a small cameo in the credits of the Avengers. The other scene is a scene where the Collector explains to the heroes the significance of the orb and that the orb, the Cosmic Cube from the Avengers and the Ether from Thor 2 are three of the six Infinity Gems needed to take control of the universe (the six items which Thanos sent Loki and Ronan to collect for him). Even so, the movie still functions as a standalone action movie with fantastically diverse characters and an intriguing story. It makes me confident that Marvel can now do anything and makes me more excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron next year.

An eventful day to Shakespeare’s Globe

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So it’s the summer holiday with my most anticipated movie of the year (Guardians of the Galaxy) days away and my favourite TV show (Doctor Who, like you didn’t know that) 28 days away, it’s pretty much confirmed that this holiday will be awesome.

Yesterday the awesomeness started when we went to London for a pretty eventful day.

The main reason we went to London was to see Julius Caesar at Shakespeare’s Globe. It is the second Shakespeare play I have seen on stage as I saw Macbeth last year at the Globe too. The play was great with a lot of history behind it, but there was a mild problem beginning with something called RAIN.

Before the show started, two actors entertained the Groundlings with a puppet show about Julius Caeser.

Before the show started, two actors entertained the Groundlings with a puppet show about Julius Caeser.

The day started very hot and sunny, so mum, the weather expert she is, said (in a huge exaggeration) “OH, it’s going to be sunny ALL day. You don’t need a COAT or LONG TROUSERS”. (Like I said, it was a huge exaggeration). So I went to London with shorts and without a coat.

Then, about a quarter of the way into the play, it started raining. Very, very hard. Luckily Mrs. We-don’t-need-coats got the Globe’s rain ponchos to protect us from the rain, but underneath us at the groundling the floor was getting flooded. The actors even acknowledged this as one line was “You meet us on this happy day,” which caused everyone to laugh and applaud.

At the Globe yesterday, my mum bought two of these rain ponchos for us to wear during the show.

At the Globe yesterday, my mum bought two of these rain ponchos for us to wear during the show.

After the play there was another “event” which was unique. We went to Waterloo train station only to find that many trains were delayed or cancelled.

angry doctor

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…except I didn’t react like that. But thanks for the input Tennant. So we waited until another train came except this one was crowded. Really crowded. Jam packed in fact. So we waited again for another half an hour before we could get on another crowded train.

The reason for all this was lightning strikes which affected the signal box (as the obviously automated voice over the speakers said). The story was reported in the news later.

So that’s a day in London, pretty eventful. My next blog post will be a review of Guardians of the Galaxy, then Doctor Who stuff followed by reviews of Series 8. Incidentally, here’s a teaser trailer:

History: The TV Show Part 2

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So in part one of my History: The TV Show, poor King John had just given power to the barons and the people. So, what’s next?…

Episode 6- Everybody hates Edward I

After the long and fairly uneventful reign of Henry III, Edward I becomes King of England and instantly starts to attack Scotland and Wales. Scotland is in a bit of a pickle after the infant heir to the throne, Margret, dies on a boat trip to Scotland.

After Edward declares himself King of Scotland, both Scotland, led by William Wallace, and France decide to fight off Edward, but they failed and Edward took over. And that’s not even mentioning the invasion of Wales…

King Arthur's round table is inside the Great Hall in Winchester.

King Arthur’s round table is inside the Great Hall in Winchester.

Episode 7- The Black Death

After Edward II is murdered, Edward III takes over and begins the not really 100 years war. England is also struck by a deadly disease called the bubonic plague where a third of the population is killed.

Edward’s dealings in France aren’t helping the situation either, while in England he recreates King Arthur’s Table, all the while being King of a slowly dying country. This looks like the job for…

The Round Table of Arthur, at the Great Hall of Winchester.

The Round Table of Arthur, at the Great Hall of Winchester.

Episode 8- The fall of the Plantagenets

King Richard II takes the throne at 10 years old after his father, the Black Prince, dies and is immediately throne (hahahahahha, gettit? No, fine…) immediately THROWN into a huge situation with Wat Tyler’s Peasant Revolt, which Richard cleans up.

After that though, he starts going a tad nuts, prompting Henry Bollingbrook  to launch an invasion while Richard is in Ireland. And now…

Episode 9-The War of the Roses

Henry VI

Henry VI

Yes, I know skipping over the battle of Agincourt was bad but lets keep the posts to five episodes each. Henry VI is a bit mad, so mad that he has caused a war that involves both him and Edward, his rival.

They are split into York and Lancaster, one with a white rose, and one red. Henry and Edward are thrown back and forth off the throne, until Henry dies. Edward is King BUT…

Episode 10- Concerning Richard

OK, this one will be tricky. After the War, Edward IV is now undisputed King, until his heir, Edward V, mysteriously disappears in the Tower of London. The blame is placed on Richard, Edward’s brother, and people start dropping like flies.

Richard III

Richard III

Richard is still believed to be responsible for these deaths, but he nonetheless becomes King and improves England’s writing and creation of books (yes, he did actually help Britain) until the Battle of Bosworth Field, where the young Henry Tudor defeats him and thus… the age of medieval England is over.

History: The TV Show

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Mum and I were in the car yesterday listening to Shakespeare (we were going somewhere, we weren’t just sitting in the car), and she asked “What episode of history is this play based on?” This led me to think of a TV show where every episode is based off an important event in history. So here we go…

Series 1- Box set title- Lots of murder

Episode 1 - 1066 Part 1 Edward the Confessor dies and names Harold his heir (Main titles). The rest of the episode focuses on all three main characters, Harold the Saxon, William the Norman and Harald the Viking, focusing on why each character wants the throne. The episode ends with the Battle of Stamford Bridge and Harold preparing to take on William

Harold dead bayeux tapestry
Episode 2 - 1066 Part 2 The first half of the episode is a huge fight for the English throne, aka The Battle of Hastings. The second half focuses on William building castles and setting up the Domesday Book, before it ends with William II getting shot in the eye and the throne passing over to Henry I. The episode then focuses on Stephen and Matilda, which leads into…

Episode 3 - Matilda 3: Matildas United

Yes, during King Stephen’s reign there were three Matildas- his mother, his wife and his cousin, who is trying to seize the English throne as she has a claim to it. They fight and the country is split in half. Matilda proclaims herself Queen but Stephen gets it back, causing Matilda to leave. Unfortunately, Matilda’s son Henry arrives on the English shore, and he becomes King after Stephen’s death, which leads to…

Episode 4 - Thomas Becket

Henry gets into religious arguments with Becket, his Archbishop of Canterbury, and their friendship falls apart. After Becket seizes control of the Church, Henry gets angry and four knights proceed to kill him. The second half is about Henry’s wife and children betraying him and Richard seizing the throne of England.

Episode 5 - Poor Old John

Richard the Lionheart, King of England, is killed in battle, leaving his brother John in charge and being King of England. With John giving money to barons and making many people angry, a war starts and John is forced to sign the Magna Carta, a document which gives more power and freedom to the people. The reign of absolute power is over…

Phew, history is complicated. Let’s take a short break and wait for Part 2…

Why are superheroes so popular?

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This weekend I hope to watch X- Men: Days of Future Past, the third superhero movie released this year so far. The first was Captain America 2 (which was awesome) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which I haven’t seen). In August we’re getting Guardians of the Galaxy (squee!) and next year we’re getting Avengers: Age of Ultron (double squee!), Fantastic Four and Antman. Not to mention last year we got The Wolverine and Thor 2 (which were awesome) with the new Superman and Iron Man 3 (I want to see Iron Man, not really interested in Superman).  This led me to think; why are superheroes so popular? In the past decade they have dominated cinema non-stop and don’t show any sign of stopping. So why do people dressed in leather and spandex provoke so much love?

Well perhaps it’s best to look at the origins of superheroes. Arguably legendary characters like Hercules were the first superheroes as he had super powers, but I’m talking about the pants-on-outside kind of superheroes even though a) hardly any heroes wear pants on the outside and, b) there is a Marvel hero called Hercules. The first superhero of the “classic” kind was the Phantom, who debuted in 1936 but the first iconic hero was the pants-on-outside guy himself: Superman, who appeared in 1938, followed by Batman in 1939. Superman was created as a character to stand up to the American way and was basically war propaganda until the 80’s when all comics got darker. Marvel’s answer to this was Captain America who appeared in 1941 and in his debut issue he did this on the front cover…

Captain America punching Hitler. Image by Rick Marshall via Flickr.

Captain America punching Hitler. Image by Rick Marshall via Flickr.

This is the first reason as to why I think superheroes became popular in the first place. In the first Captain America movie it showed a world where Captain America was a beacon of hope and he took part in many propaganda shows. This shows what an impact characters like Captain America and Superman had and were ways to tell people that America will defeat the war and inspire people to fight. There’s also the fact that in the 30’s and 40’s people hadn’t grown used to superheroes and these early heroes helped usher in others.

Another reason is that superheroes can be used to comment on society. Despite there being 5 X Men and 2 Wolverine movies, the X- Men were made in 1963 as a metaphor for the racism in America and the African-American civil rights movement. As mutants the X- Men were treated like monsters and the team’s main enemy Magneto (who is awesome) was a survivor of the Holocaust and had suffered discrimination like the mutants were going through.

Other characters also became metaphors for the real world, especially the Cold War. Iron Man and Hulk were created to comment on the threat of nuclear attack in the Cold War and one of Wonder Women’s enemies was called Egg Fu and was a Chinese Communist shaped like an egg. Don’t believe me?…

Egg Fu - image by Jamie (jbcurio) via Flickr.

Egg Fu – image by Jamie (jbcurio) via Flickr.

But what about Batman or Spider-Man? Well Batman is unique because he is the definition of a superhero without powers, as he was originally designed as a detective. Spider-Man is a teenager who turns into a superhero. People love Batman because he is so knowledgeable and strong without powers and people love Spider-Man as the majority of comic readers in the 60’s were teenagers and seeing a teenager becoming a superhero would have been very relatable.

So superheroes are used for symbols of hope, symbols of encouragement and symbols to make political statements. But what about now? Why do characters like the X-Men, Captain America and Superman continue to be popular. Some could say the X-Men movie in 2000 reinvigorated interest in the whole genre and, well, that’s kind of true. Let’s see…

5 X-Men movies + 2 Wolverine movies + 3 Spider- Man movies+ 2 Spider- Man reboot movies+ 3 Iron Man movies+ 2 Captain America movies+ 2 Thor movies+ 2 Hulk movies+ The Avengers+ 2 Superman movies+ 3 Batman movies+ 2 Fantastic Four movies+ 2 Hellboy movies+ 2 Ghost Rider movies+add whatever other superhero movies= A lot of spandex.

But if the X-Men movie wasn’t a success then superheroes wouldn’t have lasted and we certainly wouldn’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why are they still so endearing? I think it’s because the themes and ideas behind the superheroes still remain. Iron Man is still relevant because the threat of nuclear attack is still around. There are still racial problems around the world, making the X-Men still seem relevant. Children still look up to Spider-Man, Batman and Superman and the second Captain America movie dealt with the idea of a propaganda symbol like Captain America being stuck in a world with conspiracies and cover-ups, which is a concern in the real world. Superheroes are still relevant and they are still hugely popular. But is it becoming a problem with all of the movies coming out?

Well, that’s a post for another day…

UPDATE: Now I’ve seen Days of Future Past. So, review in one paragraph… go!

Days of Future Past (yes I know that title makes no sense) is set in the future where mutants are being hunted by giant robots. The surviving mutants send Wolverine back in time to the 70’s to change the future (it’s all I can reveal without spoiling). The movie is an incredibly well-made and action packed movie which is surprisingly dark and deep. It fixes the continuity flaws made by the other movies and shows some awesome new characters with interesting powers (the most awesome are Quicksilver and Blink. If you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about). All the characters get at least one awesome moment, Magneto is still as awesome as ever and both the future and the past are incredibly detailed. It’s also funny and clever and manages to wrap up many story arcs. The villain is interesting as he isn’t the conventional villain and every action scene is spectacular. I recommend you see it but watch the X-Men trilogy and X-Men: First Class before you see Days of Future Past.

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