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I love 60’s Doctor Who!

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My Doctor Who marathon has brought me to the end of Doctor Who in the 1960’s. Before this marathon, I had barely seen any Doctor Who from the 60’s. Now, I wish I had started earlier. In a year when the latest episode is still over three months away, Classic Who is my way of coping.

My favourite aspect of this era of Doctor Who is the sheer imagination at play. It puts the new series to shame. Most of 60’s Who is the definition of high concept sci fi, which is what I think is what the show should be. I don’t want convoluted plots, bland drama with no tension or lazy villains. I want science fiction. Stories like The Space Museum, The Ark, The Edge of Destruction, The Web Planet, The Enemy of the World and The Mind Robber are just so imaginative and clever. That’s not forgetting the awesome Cybermen stories. Sure, not all of them are great, but the imagination and storytelling is prevalent. Alien planets, messing about with time, detailed worlds and clever plots are all present in 60’s Who. Sure, they happen in the rest of the Classic Series and the New Series, but the black and white limitations of the 60’s means that they could go nuts with silly costumes and sets and it just felt so genuine.

A story entirely set in the TARDIS? Sure. A planet with giant ants? OK. A land where fictional characters come alive? Why not? A politician who looks like the Doctor tries to destroy the world with volcanoes and the Australian government try to stop him? See what I mean? The imagination and ambition is simply brilliant. Quite why the New Series can’t reach these heights is beyond me. I grew up with David Tennant and Matt Smith so obviously I love the New Series. It’s fantastic and in terms of emotion, character development and production values, it’s in some ways superior (not saying there wasn’t any in Classic Who). But I feel like the storytelling was more risky and brave in the Classic Series, especially the 60’s.

ooo wooo ooo

Now why the New Series don’t have the ambition baffles me. It’s not the budget problems, as the show has a big budget to create alien worlds and fascinating concepts. The audience is smart enough to have high concepts thrown at them. Examples of high concept storytelling in the new series include The Beast two-parter, 42, Silence in the Library, Midnight, Turn Left, The Beast Below, Amy’s Choice, The Doctor’s Wife, The Girl Who Waited (is it too late for me to have a complete change of heart over this story?), Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, Listen, Flatline, Before the Flood, Sleep No More and Heaven Sent. All these episodes either have imaginative premises, clever time travel or risky ideas. Whether they’re any good is a matter of opinion, but these are the type of episodes I’m looking for.

So anyway, back to 60’s Who. Watching the entire show from 1963-1969 is difficult because of the amount of lost stories, meaning many companions such as Ben (the companion with my name has two surviving stories- urgh), Polly and Steven barely have any stories, making it hard to judge them. Fortunately, the original companions Susan, Ian and Barbara are awesome. OK, mainly Ian, although Barbara did destroy Daleks with a truck. The missing stories are legendary in the Who fandom, and the discovery of the Enemy of the World and Web of Fear recently brings back hope that the 12 part epic The Dalek’s Master Plan (they could do an epic universe spanning threat in the 60’s, why can’t they do it now?) Fury from the Deep, Patrick Troughton’s first story The Power of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks and many more can be discovered.

So, what about the Doctor himself? Well, before watching all the remaining 60’s stories, neither Hartnell nor Troughton were particularly high on my favourite Doctors list because I hadn’t seen much of them. While William Hartnell still isn’t among my favourites, despite the fact he is an awesome Doctor for being THE Doctor, Patrick Troughton has risen to my favourite Doctors list alongside Matt Smith, Jon Pertwee, David Tennant and Sylvester McCoy. Watching the Second Doctor, it’s clear that most of the Doctors that followed took something from Patrick Troughton’s Doctor. He is easily the most important actor to play the Doctor, as without his performance the show would have struggled to continue after William Hartnell left due to his poor health. The Second Doctor’s mannerisms are shown in future incarnations. Tom Baker has the eccentric side, Peter Davison has the caring side, Sylvester McCoy has the cunning side, Paul McGann has the optimistic side. Matt Smith in particular took most of his Doctor from watching Tomb of the Cybermen, and it shows, as both the Second and Eleventh Doctors are like that really strange but cool uncle or imaginary friend.

Now I’m going to discuss my favourite stories from the First and Second Doctor eras. Some of the stories here have become some of my favourites-

First Doctor

first doctor

  • The Edge of Destruction- This story is one of the aforementioned high concept stories that I love. The basic story is that a mysterious force has taken over the Tardis and the Tardis crew are slowly losing their minds over it. This is a fascinating story as it is purely a character piece- except it’s a character piece done really, really well as their is no contrived monster or heavy handed plot. The character arcs from the past two stories come full circle here as the four Tardis members blame each other for the scenario. It also has one of my favourite monologues from the show-

  • The Aztecs- This is my favourite William Hartnell story. It’s a pure historical, so it might put people off who are used to the semi historicals of the New Series where history is combined with an alien threat, but in the First Doctor’s era pure historicals were combined with high concept sci fi. The Aztecs establishes a rule that has stuck with history- time can’t be rewritten. The drama from this story comes from Barbara, a history teacher, trying to change the Aztec’s ruthless ways. There’s also some really good comedy in this one, like this brilliant moment-

  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth- This is one of the most iconic Doctor Who stories of all time, thanks mainly to the promotional photo of Daleks on Westminister Bridge.

dwexp-daleks-westminster-gall5

This was the first reappearance of the Daleks and the first story to be a classic Earth invasion type after the experimental nature of the earlier Hartnell stories. There’s a really epic feel to this story and while the plot is silly (the Daleks want to drill into the Earth to pilot it as a ship), the tone of the story and the threat of the Daleks make it worthwhile. There’s also the moment when Barbara rams into Daleks with a truck, which is so awesome it needs to be mentioned twice. This is also the first companion departure story, when the Doctor leaves his granddaughter Susan behind to live her own life in another one of the most famous scenes in the show’s history-

  • The War Machines

Doctor Who has a trend of using London’s new and fancy buildings as alien hideouts, from the Shard to Canary Wharf. The first use of this trend was in the War Machines, which used the BT Tower, at the time the tallest building in London. This story was unique to the First Doctor in that it was set on modern Earth and featured the First Doctor in an action type role continued by his successor. It served as the prototype to the UNIT stories of Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. I also really like the monsters in this one, the titular War Machines. Not much to say about this one really, it was just a really fun story.

war machines

Second Doctor

oh my giddy aunt

  • The Tomb of the Cybermen- The story that inspired Matt Smith’s Doctor and probably the most iconic Second Doctor story. The image of Cybermen emerging from their tombs is simply unmatched by any subsequent story and the atmosphere in this one is fantastic. This is the earliest complete Second Doctor story and it is a great starting point, as it defines this incarnation as a playful, jokey type who acts like a bumbling cosmic hobo to trick his enemies into falling into his traps. Despite the Cybermen being a powerful presence here, the main villains are merely humans who want to use the Cybermen, without realising the Cybermen are too powerful for them. There’s also a really great scene between the Doctor and Victoria which shows the Classic Series had just as much character and emotion as the New Series-

  • The Enemy of the World

enemy of the world

Whoever found this story deserves a whole wad of jelly babies. This was an amazing story partly due to its unique nature. There are no aliens or monsters here and it’s basically a James Bond movie with the Doctor. Patrick Troughton plays two roles here really well- the Doctor and Salamander, the ruthless politician who is set on his diabolical schemes. There is a very cinematic scale to the story, which is surprising given that it’s nearly 50 years old. My favourite part is when the Doctor pretends to be Salamander, so it’s basically Patrick Troughton playing the Doctor playing Salamander. This story was in Season 5, and every other story in this season was the “base under siege” type which I love, and this one broke bonds to be truly unique and to this day there is no other story quite like it.

  • The Mind Robber

the mind robber

This is about as bonkers and high concept as Doctor Who gets. The Tardis finds itself in a strange reality where fictional characters such as Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels and Rapunzel are real. It’s not a particularly complex or thought provoking story but it’s so absurd and unique that it’s impossible to be bored. The amount of ideas here are fantastic and the Land of Fiction, despite being a world where there are no rules, is surprisingly well thought out. I would love to see a return to the Land of Fiction in the new series. The BBC have plenty of shows with their own versions of fictional characters such as Sherlock, and the setting of the Mind Robber allows for crossovers. Seriously, why hasn’t this happened?

  • The Invasion

the invasion

Another iconic story with the image of Cybermen walking down St Paul’s being easily their most famous moment. That doesn’t happen until Episode 6 however, but the rest of the story is just as good. Once again the scope is epic and grand for the 60’s and the threat of global domination is ever present. It starts low key, with a simple trip to Earth and a mystery surrounding missiles on the Moon before escalating into full on war against the Cybermen. The human villain, Tobias Vaughn, is fantastic. He’s so delightfully and obviously evil and the Doctor’s interactions with him are a major highlight. The Cybermen in the sewers of London are also a highlight, and this is probably my favourite Cyberman story, alongside Earthshock.

  • The War Games

I’m just going to come out and say it- The War Games is my favourite story in the whole of Classic Who, and is my second favourite of all time just under The God Complex. It is over 4 hours long yet never feels boring or padded, which is a feat considering how many single part episodes of the new series feel padded. The plot is perfectly paced- what starts off as a simple trip to what appears to be World War One turns into a massive conspiracy involving mysterious aliens kidnapping Earth soldiers to recreate famous wars for nefarious purposes. There are so many good parts to this story. I adore the villains in this story- the War Lord, the War Chief and the Security Chief, all with their own goals and motivations. However, the true brilliance comes in the final episodes. As the situation spirals out of control, the Doctor is forced to call on his own people for help, and the Time Lords make their perfect debut. The Doctor knows asking the Time Lords for help will result in his capture and punishment for stealing the Tardis and interfering in time and space, but he does it because it’s the right thing to do. It speaks so much about this character and why he has endured for so long. All this and more makes the War Games my favourite story in the entire Classic Series.

And that was my love letter to the Doctor Who of the 60’s. I’m currently on Jon Pertwee’s first series and when I’m done with him (I started with Planet of the Spiders) I will have finished all of Classic Who in time (hopefully) for Series 10.

My Iceland trip

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I haven’t written in a while, but a part of that is because I’ve been on a holiday to Iceland. It was a very eye opening and interesting holiday and I learnt a lot about the Icelandic culture, which has helped my passion for Norse history and mythology.

We arrived on Friday and spent most of the day relaxing in the hotel as we were all very tired, however in the evening we explored the capital Reykjavik. I say evening but even at 10 PM it was still very bright outside, as the Arctic sun meant that the days were really long and the nights were incredibly short. The hotel room had double curtains so it would seem dark at night.

View outside

View outside the hotel room. The sun was quite bright during the week so the visibility was low.

Reykjavik is an interesting city. It has about a third of the population of Iceland but still only has a population about the size of Eastleigh. The city is extremely spread out with the longest shopping street I’ve ever been on. The city is completely surrounded by a giant mountain, which blocked out the wind and made the city quite warm. Our hotel was on the outskirts of the city centre and was near a shopping mall, which is apparently the largest in Iceland. There was a shuttle bus into the city centre everyday, which was dominated by a church, Hallgrimskirkja, which we went inside to explore.

Hallgrimskirkja

The impressive church Hallgrimskirkja

 

The church is the tallest building in Reykjavik and has a very impressive tower which can be seen across the city. The shops are also really impressive, with a mixture of tourist and local shops. What was confusing however, was the currency. I don’t know whether things are naturally more expensive in Iceland or whether Brexit has completely destroyed the exchange rate, but everything is really expensive. 5000 krona is about £30. The coins themselves are awesome, with crabs and fish representing heads and the coat of arms representing tails.

The first major trip out was whale watching in the harbour on Sunday. While I couldn’t get any pictures of the whales, I did see three humpback whales diving and a few minke whales as well. There were plenty of puffins flying by too, but they were too fast to take pictures of. The trip was very tiring but worth it, as I got to see animals in their natural habitat, which my David Attenborough obsessed brain appreciated.

Harbour at Reykjavik

The harbour of Reykjavik

Monday was a bank holiday so we didn’t go on any huge day trips. Instead we explored the museums around Reykjavik. The Saga Museum was the museum about Vikings, with stories about the formation of Iceland. Legend says that the first guy who discovered Iceland sent out three ravens on his ship from the Shetland Islands to see if there was any land ahead. One flew back to the Shetlands, the other flew back to the boat but the third flew on ahead, indicating there was land ahead. My favourite guy was a priest who had leg impediments so travelled around in a wheelbarrow. Now that’s awesome! There was also a lot of focus on Eric the Red, who discovered Greenland and named it Greenland to attract people there, even if it was anything but green.

The other museum we visited was the Whales of Iceland museum.. The museum had life sized models of all the whales of Iceland (hence the name) with a really awesome blue whale right in the centre. My favourite whale/dolphin, the killer whale, is also there. We also saw the square shaped concert hall.

Tuesday was the first of three day trips out to see the landscapes. We went on the Golden Circle tour to explore the waterfalls and geysers. We saw the pipeline running through the mountains to Reykjavik, which powers the city with geo-thermal energy. The mountains are really impressive, and I see no reason why Doctor Who hasn’t filmed in Iceland yet. Seriously, Iceland is perfect for Peladon.

The waterfall Gullfoss was the most impressive part of the day. It was absolutely stunning to look at and it really needs to be seen to be believed. It’s great to see something completely natural in the modern day world.

Gullfoss

The next part of the trip was visiting the geyser called Geysir. The whole area smelt of sulphur but the smell was worth it because of the sights of the geyser erupting. Sadly, the geyser erupted too quickly for me to take any photos.

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The geyser not erupting-unfortunately

The following day was the glacier tour. This was the longest day but it was really worth it. The glacier, Langjokull, is huge and the second largest in Europe, with the largest also in Iceland. Inside the glacier were lots of ice caves. I learnt about the way glaciers are formed and I saw the ash that separated the layers from before the Eyjafjallajökull eruption took place in 2010. The tour guides had a lot of fun mocking the newcasters from around the world for mispronouncing Eyjafjallajökull during the week.

The glacier tour had fascinating views and icicles in the caves. It was a tiring journey but it was really worth it to see the glacier in full. I was really impressed with how the glacier tunnels were created for the tour.

Ice cave in the glacier

The final day was another long trip to explore the inside of Thrihnukagigur, a dormant volcano. There was a long hike across the lava fields and incredibly impressive views of the city when we got to the top of the volcano. Before we got to the inside of the volcano, we had a seven minute journey down in a lift where we could see the strange looking formations inside. The bottom of the volcano was vast and the magma chamber was breathtaking to see, although my phone couldn’t take the full scale of the chamber so the pictures seem quite unimpressive. I also learnt that the lava fields and caves were used by bandits in the Viking times to hide out in the wilderness, as one form of punishment at the time was exile. Unfortunately, this was our final day.

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Strange formations in the volcano

So overall, my trip to Iceland was absolutely amazing. I learnt so much about Nordic history and experiencing new culture is always good. This will be a trip I will remember for a long time.

Movies I want to see get made

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I have a very obvious passion for movies and as someone who wants to get involved in the film industry, I have some ideas of my own to pitch to Hollywood. So here we go-

  • A sequel to the Nightmare Before Christmas
    tnbc

I know, sequels sometimes suck, and making a sequel to one of my favourite films would be hard to get right. But I believe it can work, just as long as it’s done in stop-motion and the songs are good. The reason I pick this movie to have a sequel is because the film established a brilliant universe, and we only see Halloween and Christmas Town, meaning there’s a lot more potential. In a sequel, Easter Town could be explored, as well as others like St Georges Town (a dragon as their ambassador perhaps?) a Chinese New Year’s Town (with 12 rotating ambassadors) and a Valentine’s Day Town (with Cupid as the ambassador). So here’s the plot. The Krampus, the Sandman, Nian and the Bunyip have risen from the dark corners of myth and folklore and launch an attack on the collective Holiday Towns. So Jack must team up with Santa and the other holiday ambassadors to fight them off.

  • A Ben 10 movie

ben 10

One of my childhood shows, Ben 10 appealed to me because I was 10 and I’m called Ben. The show is about a young boy who discovers an alien watch that turns him into different aliens, each one unique and interesting. The series evolved into a more mature show called Alien Force, with Ben and his friends as teenagers and a slightly darker tone with cooler, less childish aliens, which has my all time favourite alien from the show, Brainstorm, who still sits on my shelf. Also, he’s a psychic crab. This was my favourite version of the show. Ultimate Alien then followed with even more awesome aliens. I don’t watch the show now obviously but I think it was genuinely great and it has fantastic potential for a movie. There were two TV movies but I don’t remember much from them and a Hollywood movie would bring the show to life. I know I’ll be there opening weekend.

  • A Dungeons & Dragons film

dungeons and dragons

This is excrutiatingly easy to do. D&D is one of the reasons nerds exist, so a film based on it should happen, and apparently is happening. The genius of D&D is that there are no characters or storylines, so whoever writes the film can create an original plot while using the D&D world as a template. Fantasy is very popular thanks to Lord of the Rings saving the genre (not to mention the awesome Merlin TV show), but the D&D film needs to be different enough to distinguish itself. Incidentally, Lord of the Rings would be an awful D&D campaign. Too much walking and not enough dungeon crawling, and the Battle of Minas Tirith would take about a year’s worth of gaming sessions. A D&D movie would star a wide variety of species and different types of characters to reflect the 11 different classes, and the film could use D&D monsters such as the beholder and mind flayer and of course, dragons.

  • A Skulduggery Pleasant movie

skull dude

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- this awesome book series deserves a Harry Potter style movie franchise. Just as long as it’s done with respect to the book series then us fans will be happy. Today’s technology will make Skulduggery easy to present on screen, and to have a film franchise with an unconventional hero, strong female characters and not having a dark, depressing and gritty tone would be refreshing indeed. While I’m perfectly content with the books, having a film would be the perfect way to introduce this great series to a wider audience. But, if it is made, the characters must stay Irish. I say this as a British person who loves the fact that they actually let everyone in Harry Potter have British accents, rather than American accents (which they considered) so it seems right that the Irish Skulduggery Pleasant series has Irish actors.

  • A Brexit movie
united we stand

I can’t find anything suitable so I’ll put up a Civil War poster seeing how that’s basically what was happening to the Tory Party.

This needs to happen. Seriously. A comedy-drama about the EU referendum which will probably win a lot of awards will be fascinating to watch. Everything about this whole situation is film material, from the civil war (Cameron vs Johnson), to the logistics in how David Cameron handled the referendum, to the fact that everyone involved heavily in Brexit (Johnson, Gove and Farage) have all quit/been kicked out of important positions, leaving the state of events in this country in a bit of a pickle. I would love to see how a movie presents the events that have transpired in the past few months here. Have some big name British actors (Peter Capaldi as an angry SNP member would be hilarious) to play the politicians and go nuts. I predict in a few years this movie will be nominated for Best Picture/Director and possibly Best Actor for whoever plays David Cameron or Boris Johnson.

So those were five movies I want to see get made. Honestly, I’d be fine if none of them were made, as we live in a world where geek franchises and movies are being more and more popular and mainstream. Let’s hope the trend of great geek films doesn’t come to an end.

How to react to the EU referendum- with gifs

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So. This happened. Britain has left the EU. As a 15 year old, I am neutral in all this but the reaction has understandably been… interesting. David Cameron’s resigned, Scotland want independence again (and both Northern Ireland and London, yes, London, has threatened independence as well), there’s a petition for a second referendum, there’s a petition to give 14-17 year olds (aka, the people this vote will affect the most) a chance to vote, which I have signed, the pound has plummeted, Boris Johnson or Micheal Gove (GOVE!!!) could be our new Prime Minister, everyone outside of Britain is completly baffled by the whole business, everyone inside of Britain either loves or hates it and the whole thing, to be very British about it, is complete shambles.

But, let’s try and keep a level head here. Let’s dig into the the different reactions-

  • You’re happy

Nine_dancing_doctor_who

If you voted to Leave, then you’re fine. You got what you wanted and everything’s cool. Again, I couldn’t vote so I won’t say if I supported Leave or Remain.

  • You’re panicking

nooooooo_luke_skywalker_text

It’s the end of the world. Everything’s turning upside down and you need to find something constructive out of this. If it helps, this result will make UKIP redundant, as their sole aim was to leave the EU. Now that’s happened, there’s no need for them.

  • You want to wait and see what happens before panicking

and here we go

You’re neither happy or sad, just cautious. This could be good or bad, but you don’t want to pass judgement just yet. You’re just interested to see what happens and whether you should be concerned.

  • You don’t care

i don't care 2

You either didn’t mind either way, or don’t live in this country and are finding all of this hilarious. I’ve learned how many people didn’t care what happened and voted Leave because they weren’t sure, and now they’re regretting it. Which leads me onto-

  • You regret your choice or you know someone who has

what have i done

This has actually been the reaction of many people. As I’ve mentioned, some people voted Leave because they didn’t think it would happen and their vote wouldn’t amount too much. Which kind of misses the point of voting.

  • You’ve already booked your one way ticket to another country

bye

You’ve had enough of Cameron/Corbyn/Osborne/Johnson/Gove/Farage/insert any MP you don’t like here and have decided to move out of the country to somewhere nice. There are jokes by Americans that they will move to Canada in the case of President Trump, but there’s no harm in us going there as well.

And those were the various reactions I’ve seen regarding Brexit. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, it’s important to be British about it and to keep calm and carry on, no matter what happens.

My 5 favourite Pixar films

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One of the main reasons for my passion for film developing was my childhood watching animated films, in particular Pixar. Large chunks of my childhood was dedicated to watching them and even today I still love them. So to commemorate the release of Finding Dory (it’s not out in the UK for another month but it’s out in the US), today I’ll discuss my five favourite Pixar films-

  • Finding Nemo

Finding_Nemo

This is probably the reason why I love ocean life and aquariums. I remember as a kid just loving the giant whale and the hammerhead shark (I love hammerheads). Like most Pixar films, it has strong characters and themes which appeal to a universal audience. In Finding Nemo’s case, it is about trust and family. The characters in this film are so memorable, with my favourites being the sharks, the pelican and Dory. It’s clear why she is getting her own movie. The funniest moments are when the seagulls say “mine, mine, mine” all the time. It’s so funny, and it’s hard to take seagulls seriously afterwards.

  • WALL-E

walle

This was the first movie I remember seeing in a cinema, so I have always had a personal connection to it. Once again the characters are fantastic, with the robot on the ship who is constantly cleaning being a comedic highlight. The themes in this film are some of the strongest Pixar has dealt with, as themes about the environment and consumerism are addressed. The animation is some of Pixar’s best, with the robots and futuristic spaceship looking amazing. I also really like the villain in this movie, Auto, as he is only doing what he believes is right. That’s the best kind of villain.

  • Toy Story- all of them

toy story

Yeah, I’m cheating here. I have very fond memories of this trilogy, and I consider it to be one of three perfect trilogies (along with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings). I saw the third one in cinemas and love the other two just as much, with the second one being my favourite. There is so much to love about these movies, from the amazing characters (my personal favourite is Rex, because dinosaurs), the mature themes and the humour. As someone who recently gave a lot of toys away, it’s going to be hard to re-watch Toy Story 3. I don’t think I need to say more- these movies are a classic.

  • Inside Out

inside out

I missed this film when it was released but I saw it on the plane back from holiday and I’m glad I did. It once again goes to show how accessible Pixar is, as this movie is for everyone. It’s a truly brilliant concept with plenty of high concept ideas (I adore the train of thought). Once again the emotions and themes are really strong and prevelant, with plenty of funny moments. My favourite character is Anger, where most of the comic relief comes from. However, the main characters of Joy and Sadness are fascinating and have a great, complex relationship.

  • Up

up

I’ve mentioned this before as one of my favourite movies a while back, and when I update my list this movie is staying on. This was the second Pixar film I saw in cinemas and I have loved it ever since. The characters and emotions here are the most mature and compelling out of any Pixar film, while the ideas and imagery are hilarious. It’s amazing how a film with a flying house and talking dogs can be so human and dark, while never forgetting to be entertaining and appealing to everyone. Up is without question my favourite Pixar film.

 

So those were my five favourite Pixar films. I’ve seen every film except the Cars movies and The Good Dinosaur and I’ve enjoyed them all. I hope Pixar continue to make brilliant films for a long time.

Big Finish Doctor Who is awesome!

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It’s a hard time being a Whovian. As the show goes through a mini hiatus, us fanboys are forced to find other means to keep ourselves occupied. Fortunately, as a fanboy of practically everything, I’ve been occupied with classic Stan Lee Spider-Man. On the Doctor Who front, I’ve been surviving this long wait by watching Classic Who (The Mind Robber is spectacular) and New Who (The Zygon Invasion was hands down my favourite story of Series 9. More like this in Series 10 please) and, without sounding too pompous, meeting the Fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison at London Comic-Con.

ben peter davison 290516 (1)

That’s one down, nine to go!

Perhaps the best way I’ve found to keep myself from going through Doctor Who withdrawal however, are the Big Finish audio dramas. Yesterday I ordered the Tenth Doctor audio dramas, with Donna as his companion. My absolute favourite Tardis team are back! How could I not want this?

allon-sy!

In short, the Big Finish Doctor Who adventures are television stories except without visuals. They were originally started during the late 90’s during the Wilderness Years (that long gap between Classic and New Who) to give the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors extra stories, with the original actors reprising their roles. This eventually extended to the Eighth Doctor to give him a proper run of stories. Tom Baker joined later, and now both John Hurt and of course David Tennant have joined in.

One of the joys of the audio dramas is that they can get away with ideas that couldn’t have been done on TV. They go dark, they go silly, they go epic, all while maintaining the Doctor Who spirit. It also made me a huge fan of Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor. His Doctor is a blend of Two, Five and Ten, who embodies the playful, optimistic aspects of the character with the cunning and emotional gravitas. Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor also has really really good stories, including a whole run of stories which were supposed to be made for TV but cancelled for Trial of a Time Lord. I agree that his Doctor had the worst run of stories on TV (though I love the Sil stories) but in audio his Doctor has allowed to evolve in a way similar to the Twelfth Doctor.

So now I’ll list some audio stories that I particularly enjoyed listening to. I haven’t listened to all of them (there are over 200 and cost money) so I’m sure I’ve missed some really good ones, but of the ones I’ve heard, these were the ones I liked the most-

  • Cradle of the Snake

mara

The Mara is one of my absolute favourite Doctor Who monsters and it is one I really want to see return. I consider the two stories it features in (Kinda and Snakedance) to be two of the highpoints of the Fifth Doctor era. Kinda in particular is one of my all time favourite stories. This audio features the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Turlough once again facing the Mara as it tries to resurrect itself in its own past by going to Manussa in the past and takes over. What’s particularly great is how the Doctor is controlled by the Mara, forcing the companions to try and save him. I just wish this fantastic monster returns in the new series in a style similar to the Zygons in Series 9.

  • Spare Parts

spare parts

Another Fifth Doctor one, this story involves my favourite Doctor Who monster, the Cybermen, and it is essentially Genesis of the Cybermen. The Doctor and Nyssa arrive on Mondas where the population are trying to survive by upgrading and replacing their body parts, which of course leads them to turn into the Cybermen. It’s a dark story which is miles ahead of anything done to the Cybermen in the New Series (Death in Heaven got the concept right but they were still underused). As with Genesis of the Daleks, the Doctor is forced to make hard choices, as he has to let history play out. This story also serves as a great sequel to Earthshock and a prequel to the Tenth Planet.

  • Mission to Magnus

ice warriorsssss

This is one of those stories which was written for TV and then scrapped. It involves the Sixth Doctor and Peri arriving on Magnus and getting caught up in a lot of trouble, which includes the Ice Warriors and Sil the Mentor, one of my favourite Classic Series villains and another one who really needs to come back. I’m also a fan of the Ice Warriors and this is a great showing for them. It’s a story that New Who really needs to do more- just a fun romp packed with great ideas. What makes Sil such a fascinating villain is that he isn’t out to destroy the universe or take over the world- all he cares about is manipulation and control. The Doctor is also great in this. The Sixth Doctor isn’t my favourite, but on audio he really shines.

  • The Apocalypse Element

the apocalypse element

There’s going to be a lot of Sixth Doctor here. In this story, the Doctor and Evelyn (his audio exclusive companion who is a history teacher and acts as a contrast to the Sixth Doctor’s boisterous attitude) arrive back on Gallifrey in the midst of a conspiracy involving the Daleks. This story also features Romana, another one of my favourite companions. The Daleks are at there best in this one. They are ruthless and relentless in their destruction. This is one of the opening sparks of the Time War, and the Doctor is once again at his best, delivering a great speech and having great scenes with Daleks. I love stories involving Gallifrey (another reason why Hell Bent failed spectacularly) so this one was for me.

  • Point of Entry

point of entry

Another one written for TV, this one is another really dark one. The Doctor and Peri arrive in Elizabethan England and team up with Christopher Marlowe to combat Velez, a scarred Spaniard who has sinister plans. It has a dark tone but it works really well, with the Doctor’s respect for life coming into the forefront as he tries to find a peaceful solution to the situation. The villains in this one work really well and the plot has multiple layers to it, with the Doctor being partly responsible for the whole crisis. I love historical stories and this one is just fantastic.

  • Jubilee

jubilee

This one’s a classic. It was the inspiration for the Series One story Dalek, another one of my favourite stories. In this one, the Doctor and Evelyn end up in an alternate timeline where the Daleks were defeated and have been commercialized, while a lone Dalek is kept alive. It’s very dark and the Doctor/Dalek relationship is brought to a boiling point, as in this alternate timeline the Doctor defeated the Daleks in 1903 and has been locked up in the Tower ever since. This alternate Britain has been turned into a fascist dictatorship like the Daleks themselves. On top of all this, an actual Dalek invasion from the Doctor’s universe is approaching and the Doctor is caught in the wrong universe. It’s an incredibly complex story about the evils of humans.

  • The Fearmonger

the fearmonger

The Seventh Doctor and Ace is one of my favourite Tardis pairings and this story brings the dynamic to life very well. It’s a political thriller where a political party is gaining control of the UK through fear (insert satire about modern-day British politics here) and the Doctor is trying to figure out what the true treat is. It’s got a lot of great action and the Doctor is just brilliant here. In the opening he breaks into a radio broadcast and mocks the presenter. The monster in this is great too. It feasts on fear and hides in people to keep itself sustained. The story also uses the radio broadcasts as a framing device to convey further aspects of the plot. It’s really clever and something the show needs to do more.

  • Invaders from Mars

invaders from mars

OK, the rest of this list will be Eighth Doctor, seeing how awesome he is. In this one, the Doctor and his companion Charley arrive in New York in the 1930’s during the time of Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast. Of course, this being Doctor Who, there are actual aliens involved. There’s also some gangsters, a Russian scientist and a nuclear bomb. I love stories that combine historical events with the sci-fi nonsense of Doctor Who. The aliens are really cool and the whole story is very traditional but also very enjoyable. These are the kind of stories that the TV show really needs, just a nice fun adventure with great action and a clever plot. Character pieces are fine, but the show needs to remember that sometimes, a bit of adventure is good too.

  • The Chimes of Midnight

the chimes of midnight

Another classic one, this one is often considered the Eighth Doctor’s best. It has many awesome Who elements, as the Doctor and Charley play detective to solve murders at a mysterious house. However, it is not that simple. The Eighth Doctor had a story arc running through his stories, as his first audio adventure, Storm Warning, had him rescue Charley from her death on the airship R101, causing ripples in time. In this story, the consequences of his action affect the story and characters, and the Eighth Doctor is pushed to the limits. It’s a really complex and creepy story with great characterisation and an engaging plot. The atmosphere is allowed to build through the four episodes and the emotions are well-earned and warranted. A must buy.

  • Seasons of Fear

seasons of fear

Another one that uses historical settings with the Doctor Who tropes, this one is a really fun romp. It starts in Singapore (yes!) as the Doctor and Charley try to hunt Sebastian Grayle, an immortal man who made a deal with unknown forces to live forever. The story starts as the Doctor finds out that Grayle has seemingly killed him, and he goes back in time to find out the truth and stop Grayle’s plans. Much like the Chase or Keys of Marinus, every episode has a different setting, meaning it is never boring. There’s a brilliant sword fight in this story, and the twist surrounding the true nature of the villains was unexpected. I won’t give it away, but there’s a link to my all time favourite story involved…

  • Neverland

neverland

This is everything Hell Bent should have been. Hearing the Eighth Doctor’s story arc unfold through his stories was immensely satisfying, and the conclusion brought all the arcs full circle. through the series, the Doctor had been aware that rescuing Charley was causing time ripples, that linked with Chimes of Midnight and Seasons of Fear, as she was supposed to die on R101. This culminated with Gallifrey fighting temporal shifts and mysterious forces from another universe attacking the Time Lords. The similarities between this and Series 9 are obvious, but the reason this story works and Hell Bent didn’t was because-

A) The Doctor didn’t break character and shoot someone in cold blood

B) Charley was a great character who hadn’t died two episodes before

C) The Doctor’s actions had consequences. Which leads into…

  • Scherzo

scherzo

Once again, the comparisons between this and Series 9 are obvious, in this case Heaven Sent. However, this time the television story is just as good as the audio version. This is a two-hander between the Doctor and Charley as they are trapped in a world where nothing is what it seems, as the Doctor’s actions during Neverland caused him to banish himself to an alternate dimension as punishment. Now that’s how you write compelling drama! Rather than resort to memory wipes and fan fiction like “perfect” endings for the characters, Big Finish pushed the Doctor/companion dynamic to the limits and created a story that dived into the Doctor’s psyche and why he does what he does. It’s amazing how audio dramas can have more drama and creativity than the actual show. The nature of this story means it could only work as an audio drama.

So those were my twelve favourite Big Finish audio dramas. I can’t wait for my Tenth Doctor stories and I have found these to be the best way to survive the hiatus. I highly recommend you check them out, as many of them are very cheap on their website.

 

British cliches and stereotypes- and the truth

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Every country has a series of sterotypes and cliches associated with them, so today I’ll dissect a few surrounding the UK. Let’s dive into the land of James Bond, Shakespeare and good comedy-

  • Cliche: All British people live in London

architecture Tower bridge London

Truth: The majority of British people live all around the country. Yes, London is the biggest city in the country and is the capital city, but out of the UK’s population of roughly 65 million, only about 8 million reside in London. While that’s larger than any other city in the country by far, the fact is that London is not the only place in the UK where people live.

When the UK is shown in film, it usually has London first and foremost and pictures London as the only interesting or populated place in the country. The rest of the country either doesn’t exist or is a giant field full of quaint villages with Stonehenge in the middle.

In reality, the majority of people live in large cities with plenty of towns and suburbs surrounding them. Other major cities in the country include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast, Portsmouth and Southampton, which is the major city I’m closest too (I live in Chandler’s Ford, a place so unknown and dull barely anyone who lives in the country has heard of it, let alone people from abroad).

  • Cliche: Everyone loves tea and eats in pubs

British flag tea

Truth: Well, I don’t and I’m British. Though tea is a phenomenon here, not absolutely everyone is drinking tea 24/7. Other beverages do exist here, such as water, coffee and Coke.

Pubs, like tea, are very prominent, but restaurants and fast food chains are just as common. Pubs are for sitting down, eating an expensive meal and talking for a long time. A seriously long time. Most food in the UK is multi-cultural- my favourite foods come from Italy and Japan. I also adore Swedish meatballs. The British foods such as fish and chips are very commonplace and that cliche is true (though I personally prefer chicken nuggets).

  • Cliche: It rains all the time

raining_david_tennant

Truth: Yeah, this is true. We actually have many words for rain. There’s drizzling, spitting, pouring, raining cats and dogs and pelting. To be perfectly honest the weather isn’t just rain, however it is very inconsistent. One second it’s pouring with rain, the next second it’s bright and sunny. When the weather is good, it is superb, but the constant rain is true.

On the plus side, recently the weather has behaved, so hopefully we won’t get another downpour anytime soon.

  • Cliche: Everyone speaks like Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch or the Queen
bramblypatch mumberdack

How awesome does Doctor Strange look?

bahahahaha

Queen Elizabeth II

To most people, the English accent is the one used by the Queen or high calibre actors, which has led to the assumption that everyone in the UK is posh. While the accent used by the Queen is very common down here in the South (it’s called Received Pronunciation) the country is very diverse in the dialects. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish accents are very different in their own right, with different dialects of their own. In England there’s the Cockney accent, the West Country accent, the Yorkshire accent and the Scouse accent to name a few. Practically every county has a different dialect.

The reason Received Pronunciation is the most well known dialect is because whenever a British person appears in Hollywood, they usually use Received Pronunciation. Most villains of course have RP as most villains are British, including Loki, Magneto and Count Dooku. It makes them sound sophisticated and charming, so their evil deeds are intensified.

So those were four British cliches explained. There are a lot more I’m sure but these are four that seem to be the most common. Hopefully I have debunked several cliches surrounding the UK.

 

Captain America: Civil War review- The squeeing is strong in this one

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Wow. That is all. Just wow. Captain America: Civil War is in my opinion a brilliant, brilliant movie which is easily the best Marvel Studios movie and up there with the best comic book movies along with Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Civil War’s predecessor The Winter Soldier. I was blown away by this movie, as it got everything I wanted from it and more. I will keep this spoiler free, so it’s safe to read if you haven’t seen it yet (it’s weird how here in the UK we got Captain AMERICA a week before the US. If there’s ever a Captain Britain movie, the US should get it first). I won’t reveal anything that hasn’t been revealed in trailers.

united we stand

The main plotline revolves around a dispute between the remaining Avengers about whether they should be controlled by the United Nations, who have created the Sokovia Accords, or whether it’s better to remain free from control. Iron Man, feeling guilt over Ultron, decides to sign the Sokovia Accords along with Black Widow, War Machine and the Vision, while Captain America, not being able to trust authority after SHIELD’s takeover by HYDRA, decides not to. Things get more complicated when the Winter Soldier reappears with both the Black Panther and a mysterious figure tracking him down. I won’t get into details, but it’s amazing how everything fits into place.

While I liked Age of Ultron a lot, one problem with it was how some characters felt pushed to the side, Thor in particular. In Civil War, every character feels important, whether it’s for the plot, advancing their individual arcs or just there for comic relief, which is needed in this film. The tone is overall more lighthearted than Winter Soldier, thanks to the presence of Spider-Man and Ant-Man, but at the same time it’s the most mature and compelling film in the MCU. A character driven plot has only really happened in Iron Man 3, and Civil War takes a similar look at the psychological effects of being a superhero.

My favourite character this time around was Black Panther, without a doubt. While Spider-Man was brilliant (more on him later) Black Panther felt much more crucial to the story. The way his character ties in with the rest of the story was really well done, and he is just such a cool character. He moves and talks in a unique manner, has his own fighting style and the soundtrack momentarily switches to an African vibe whenever he enters. I cannot wait to see his solo movie. Black Panther is such a unique character in the comics and it’s great that the MCU has done justice to him. The trailers show him being on Team Iron Man, but in the movie he’s more complex than that.

black panther

The action is incredible. There’s fistfights like in The Winter Soldier and there’s also an epic chase scene involving Bucky, Black Panther, Captain America, Falcon and the German police. The main fight however is the fanboy pleasing airport fight which felt like a comic book come to life. The stakes are real, the characters all have motivations for fighting and it’s just brilliantly handled in every way. Spider-Man and Ant-Man steal the show, with the two characters providing the funny moments and some of the standout scenes in the fight. The dynamics in the fights are great, with nearly everybody fighting everybody else. The build up is fantastic, as the characters try to talk before hitting each other. And of course there’s an epic group shot for each side.

So what about Spider-Man? I’m a huge fan of the original Spider-Man from the older movies but I have to admit this one was just as awesome. His mannerisms are right, his quips are on point and he blends into the action brilliantly. Unlike Black Panther, Spider-Man isn’t vital to the story, but he doesn’t feel forced. His world was set up well and just seeing Spider-Man fighting Captain America along with Iron Man just made the Marvel fan in me squee in delight. While I can’t say he’s my favourite version so far, hopefully Spider-Man: Homecoming will change my mind.

spider man yay

But where this movie really works is the character interactions and the realistic motivations and conflicts. The villain of the film is hard to talk about without spoilers, but he isn’t a throwaway Marvel villain like Malekith, Ronan or Yellowjacket. His plot works and he is actually quite complex and ties into the film’s themes. The conflicts within the protagonists are even more compelling. Captain America and Iron Man have had a complex relationship since meeting, and here both characters are pushed to the extreme. Age of Ultron has affected them both, while themes from Iron Man 3 and The Winter Soldier are revisited. It’s such a layered movie which is so much more rewarding if you’ve been following the MCU like I have. The plot is complex but not confusing and there are plenty of twists and turns that make the film ridiculously engaging and more importantly, fun.

In conclusion, Civil War is to me the new Marvel highpoint. Everything worked, and it has set a high bar for the rest of Phase 3. My new most anticipated movie from Marvel is Black Panther, with Thor: Ragnarok and Doctor Strange close behind. I hope the rest of the MCU sticks to the tone established by Civil War- dark and mature, yet still fun and entertaining.

My 5 favourite MCU movies

Age of Ultron review

Why the Doctor Who companion is important

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Finally! After months of waiting for news, the announcement all Whovians have been waiting for is here. The new companion has not been revealed yet- but will today. This is of course a good time to discuss the role of the companion in the show. While I’ve discussed the companion before, here I will explain why the role of the companion is so important and why the new companion needs to work. Here are three pointers for the new companion-

Relatability

Let’s talk about the previous companion- Clara. One of the reasons I never really connected with her during her tenure was that she didn’t feel real. She became too overpowered, completely ruining relatability towards her. Now of course I won’t fully relate with Clara- she’s a female teacher, I’m a teenage boy, but the point still stands. Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Rory all felt real. They had real lives and real flaws and behaved like real people. I’m a huge fan of Donna because she felt so relatable. If someone was travelling in time and space, chances are that they’ll act like Donna. I would.

I rewatched the Bells of Saint John today and while I like the episode, I noticed a fatal flaw in it- Clara wasn’t the focus. She isn’t introduced until five minutes in the episode and she barely has any impact on the story. She gets captured twice and the focus is on the mystery surrounding Clara and the whole wi-fi plot. The other companion introduction stories- Rose, Smith and Jones, Partners in Crime and the Eleventh Hour all introduced the companion almost immediately, with the plot being driven around them. In short, we the audience need to feel like the companion is a real person before they meet the Doctor.

Now the new series does a much better job of introducing companions in their first episode than the classic series did. Sometimes a companion would just stumble in at the tail end of the story and then do nothing for the next story. Yet there’s a lot more variety in the classic series companions- there’s modern day (for the time) people like Sarah Jane, Ian and Barbara, yet there’s also savages (Leela) robot dogs (K9), Scottish Highlanders (Jamie), Time Lords (Romana, Susan) and aliens (Nyssa, Adric). In the new series, only Jack and River are truly unique.

Relatability does not mean 21st century Earth. A good character is relatable to everyone, no matter where they’re from. Star Wars has relatable characters- Luke and Rey both strive to travel and do good, Han Solo is cocky and always has a smart remark and Kylo Ren is torn between good and evil. Relatable character traits can apply to any character no matter what genre they’re in or what species they are. I know there needs to be an audience surrogate, someone who the audience can relate to, but they do not need to be from Earth. And if they are from Earth, make them different and make them a strong, fleshed out character who anyone can relate to. Also, if they’re a teenager, don’t make them a walking sterotype. I know what a teenage acts like.

No mystery, make them normal

Amy and Clara had both had mysteries surrounding them, and while it worked for Amy (man I love Series 5) with Clara it devalued her character. I want a companion who has a normal life, with no hint of a mystery. I really don’t like this trend in the new series of the companions being so powerful. Rose fairy dusts a Dalek armada to death (urgh), Donna became a hybrid (A HYBRID!) and destroys a Dalek empire and Clara is there at every victory the Doctor ever had. Martha’s victory was normal and human, and Amy, while still a mystery, was still pretty normal. Let’s have the companion travel for the joy of it, and save the day through wit, skill and cunning and not a prophecy or deus ex machina. Sarah Jane did not need the Bad Wolf to talk the Doctor out of genocide. Ace did not need the DoctorDonna to beat a Dalek with a baseball bat. They were normal people who proved to be strong characters through their actions, not by chance. I know Ace had a mystery surrounding her, but she was still a character first.

My favourite Clara moments are the little moments, like when she confronts the Half Faced Man, beats the Boneless by using their own powers, distracts the Cybermen using her wit and tricking Bonnie using logic. These are all actions done by Clara that feels natural and doesn’t overpower the character, instead making her character stronger. That’s why I loved her departure in Face the Raven- it was sad, but also showed her selflessness and willingness to accept her fate. Then Hell Bent came along and completely devalued the point of her character arc to make her an overpowered being again.

The new companion needs to prove herself. She needs a defining moment where she saves the day or tricks the monster, but it needs to be natural. No mystery, no prophecy and no overpowering. Just a character who travels because it’s fun and who learns and grows through the course of the series.

Who else is ridiculously excited? I’m obviously not going to watch Match of the Day just to find out, but it’s the Internet so I’ll know soon enough. Where will the show go after this? I’m hoping the new companion can bring some magic and mystery into the show again, as we can experience the Whoniverse through new eyes.

My Cornish holiday

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This week, I had a holiday in Cornwall. It was a great and unique experience which I really enjoyed. Cornwall is a very interesting place with some complex history linking back to the Celts, and I loved learning about it and experiencing Cornish life.

We stayed in a B&B near Par, a small village near the largest town, St Austell. On the first evening, the village seemed pretty lifeless and quite deserted, with no nightlife to speak of. This was probably because it was early evening when we arrived. We never spent much time in Par, as we went to other towns around Cornwall. Read the rest of this entry

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