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Fawlty Towers theatre review

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Tonight is the first showing of the Chameleon Theatre Company’s Fawlty Towers. I got to see it last night at a free “press screening” and a special night to entertain the elderly from our local nursing homes in Chandler’s Ford. Here is my review of the show. I will discuss the show in depth so watch it before reading on.

Basil (Dave Wilkins) was struggling to deal with guests at Fawlty Towers. Mr Walt (Stephen Fenerty; left) and Mr Hutchison (Wayne Bradshaw; right).

Basil (Dave Wilkins) was struggling to deal with guests at Fawlty Towers. Mr Walt (Stephen Fenerty; left) and Mr Hutchison (Wayne Bradshaw; right).

Based on the TV show (which I haven’t seen, yet), the show revolves around Basil Fawlty, an insane and easy-to-annoy hotel manager who hates his guests. He runs the hotel with his wife, Sybil, and Manuel, his waiter, along with other characters. Three episodes are adapted, so I will look at each one individually.

A Touch of Class

In this part, a rich and important person called Lord Melbury visits the hotel, so Basil has to be nice and incredibly polite to him. There are lots of running gags in this one, including a picture being hung up, Manuel’s inability to understand many English words, and a customer who never gets his order.

What makes this part funny is Basil’s inability to function normally. He moves guests out of their table to appease Lord Melbury (who really doesn’t care about Basil’s efforts) and tries to tell Manuel to fetch the wine list despite it being right in front of him. In short, Basil is a control freak, who completely loses it in several comedic scenes in all three sections. My favourite part of this particular section is the running gag of the picture being put up.

Danny (sitting) was after Lord Melbury (rehearsal image).

(Rehearsal image): Danny (sitting, played by Paul Jones) was after Lord Melbury. With Basil (Dave Wilkins) and Manuel (Terry James).

The Hotel Inspectors

This one is my favourite. Basil becomes paranoid about local hotel inspectors and comes under the assumption that Mr Hutchinson, a guest who he thoroughly dislikes, is one of them. Meanwhile a second guest, Mr Walt, is trying to have a normal stay, but is caught up in Basil’s schemes.

The best thing about this is the use of mistaken identity. It is hard to guess which guest is the inspector, and Basil tries to satisfy them both. A hilarious part involves Basil trying to open a wine bottle. It also doesn’t help Basil that mishaps keep happening to him, as his attempts to make the hotel look manageable fall flat. Mr Hutchinson is an incredibly obnoxious and vocal person, which forces Basil to try and silence him in case Mr Walt, who he assumes is a hotel inspector, sees, Basil does this by choking Mr Hutchinson unconscious, which is incredibly funny.

The moment Basil (played by Dave Wilkins) met the Hotel Inspectors.

The moment Basil (played by Dave Wilkins) met the Hotel Inspectors.

The other funny thing is the ending, when Basil thinks he’s won. This is hilarious given the previous events in the episode. I won’t give it away but it is very funny and somewhat satisfying.

Communication Problems

This episode revolves around Mrs Richards whose picky remarks (the room is cold, the bath is too small, the view is invisible and the radio doesn’t work) drive Basil insane. He is also trying to hide his horse betting win money from his wife; however, this plan fails when Mrs Richards complains her money is stolen.

Basil (Dave Wilkins) asked Manuel (Terry James) to help him bet on a horse without wanting Sybil to know.

Basil (Dave Wilkins) asked Manuel (Terry James) to help him bet on a horse without wanting Sybil to know.

The two plots in this work really well together, as they both merge together like any good comedy. This section features my favourite exchange of the whole show, between Basil and Mrs Richards, his guest. The scene is absolutely hilarious.

Mrs Richards (Liz Strevens) is very demanding. With Sybil (Marilyn Dunbar) and Basil (Dave Wilkins).

Mrs Richards (Liz Strevens; centre) was very demanding. With Sybil (Marilyn Dunbar) and Basil (Dave Wilkins).

Basil was distraught. Kerr (Nick Coleman) came to bring him good news.

Basil was distraught. Kerr (Nick Coleman) came to bring him good news.

Overall, this is a great show if you want a night out with lots of laughs. I now want to watch the original show and watch the other episodes of it. The comedy is similar to Monty Python, Blackadder and other British comedies. The use of language and character stereotypes are distinctly British, so if you like British comedies, like me, you’ll love this show.

Director of Fawlty Towers: Gillian Wilkins

My Doctor Who history

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Today marks 10 years since the Rose, the episode to mark the return of Doctor Who to television. After 16 years, with only a charity special and a TV movie, the show was back. Now, in 2015, with 5 Doctors, 98 stories, 117 episodes and a global fanbase, Doctor Who has arguably never been bigger. But today I’ll focus on my experiences and my time as a Whovian and how it became a huge part of my childhood (and still is).

I can’t really recall my first Doctor Who experience. I remember watching Remembrance of the Daleks or The Visitation as my first Classic story, while my first proper Saturday night story was New Earth, with my first scary moment being the Werewolf from Tooth and Claw and I was too scared of the next time trailer for the Girl in the Fireplace to watch the episode. I remember the Cyber Leader clinging on the ladder in the Age of Steel, the faceless granny in the Idiot’s Lantern being terrifying and the Ood being awesome.

For some reason I didn’t watch any of Series 3 (I think it clashed with something else, possibly Primeval) but I saw Voyage of the Damned and it being really, really long. From Series 4 onwards I saw every episode live except for Planet of the Ood, Turn Left and Planet of the Dead. My memories of Series 4 are very strong, but not as strong as Series 5 onwards, where I became a fan full time and abandoned other shows in favour of Doctor Who. From 2013, my dad and I have started a Doctor Who Classic marathon, starting from the Third Doctor’s final story, Planet of the Spiders.

So what does Doctor Who mean to me? While David Tennant was my first Doctor, my favourite is Matt Smith. I think the reason for this is that I watched the Tenth Doctor when I was 5 and 7 years old. I watched the Eleventh when I was 9, 1o, 11, 12 and 13. I was older and the Eleventh Doctor was just the one I watched while growing up and being steadily more mature (only slightly). I once again refer to my favourite story, The God Complex, as the first story I remember watching and going “Wow, that was brilliant”. It’s thanks to that that now I treat Doctor Who more seriously and get annoyed at mediocre stories. I’m sure people born earlier than me have Ecclestone and Tennant as their Doctors growing up, and now younger children will have Capaldi to be their Doctor while they grow up.

So that’s my Doctor Who experience and why I like the show and how it impacted me. It’s great that 10 years of the revival has made the show more popular than ever and has introduced many people, including me, to the Classic Series.

 

How Doctor Who can teach history

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Three months into the year and the only news we have of Series 9 is this (apart from Peter Capaldi returning)-

If you want everything to be secret and don’t want to know any news, then scroll down to the second pair of eyebrows.

THOSE EYES!

  • Episode One and Two, the Magician’s Apprentice and the Witch’s Familiar. Missy is returning
  • Episode Three and Four. A spooky episode written by the same writer of great scripts like the God Complex, School Reunion and A Town Called Mercy (an episode which I have wildly changed my views on)
  • A big cliffhanger in the finale
  • There may or may not be Ice Warriors returning

THOSE EYES!

 

So, now let’s debate the main topic. Amongst all this is a very heavy rumour of a Jane Austen episode (no, not her writing, an episode with her appearing). This brought to mind a blog post I did a while back as to why I love historical stories. This time, I will analyse why I believe Doctor Who is great at teaching history to children, based on my experiences.

Let’s look at the characters from history that the show has introduced, as well as the episode (I am only including characters who appeared in their original time, so Nefertiti from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship doesn’t count).

Charles Dickens- The Unquiet Dead

Queen Victoria- Tooth and Claw

Madame de Pompadour- The Girl in the Fireplace (I didn’t even know she was a real person)

William Shakespeare- The Shakespeare Code

Lucius Caecilius Iucundus- The Fires of Pompeii (another guy I didn’t know existed)

Agatha Christie- The Unicorn and the Wasp

Winston Churchill- Victory of the Daleks

Vincent Van Gogh- Vincent and the Doctor

Richard Nixon- The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon

Henry Avery- The Curse of the Black Spot

Hitler- Let’s Kill Hitler (albeit very briefly)

Robin Hood (Does he count?)- Robot of Sherwood

Just looking at that range, it’s clear that the show takes the history very seriously. Queens, writers, artists, even dictators! I think these elements help keep the show’s original aim of teaching history, but also offer new takes on people.

Nixon is a very controversial figure, yet Doctor Who looks at his positives and negatives equally. It’s hard to take Hitler seriously now with the thought that he was punched in the face and locked in a cupboard by Rory! My own personal knowledge of Van Gogh before Doctor Who was that he was a mad artist, yet after the episode I know that he was a person who suffered mental illness and who was shunned from society, yet he is now considered one of the, if not the best, artist of all time. He was a Post-Impressionist artist. And as I said, I had no clue that Peter Capaldi’s character (wonder what he’s in now?) from the Fires of Pompeii was real, until research told me otherwise.

It doesn’t stop there. Now, my image of the moon landing is the Silence being defeated. I immediately looked up the Orient Express when it was revealed that an episode would be set there (turned out it was in space, but the same principles apply). I can’t look at a gas mask without thinking “Are you my mummy”. My thought of Roman Britain is spaceships flying around Stonehenge.

But that’s the point. By using famous people like Van Gogh or Queen Victoria and famous time periods like Victorian times, World War II, the Coronation, the Moon landing and Pompeii, the show can introduce people, especially kids, to parts of history or aspects they don’t know about, all while being entertained by the monsters. The episodes are now ingrained into those events, so anytime children get taught those events or visit the locations, they instantly have knowledge and they instantly have something to remember about the person or event. I would even argue that Doctor Who should be used in class to teach history. Want to show what impact Van Gogh had on people? Pop in the gallery scene. Want to show racial inequality in the early 20th century? Then show Human Nature’s scenes where Martha is mocked for her skin colour. Want some insight into the British person’s life during the Blitz? Voila, the Empty Child is here to teach (and terrify) children everywhere.

That’s why I will anticipate any historicals highly and why I believe it is a great way to teach history.

Blockbusters need love!

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Recently, I’ve become interested in film awards and what kind of films are considered the best by the “official” film critics. What’s interesting is that, with the exception of the Lord of the Rings, blockbusters and big budget movies are ignored by the awards which should be honouring every part of the film industry.

Sure, films like Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men and Captain America were nominated for awards, but only for things like visual effects and editing. It does say something about the mentality of the movie critics when the highest earning and most popular movies of the year are only praised for looking nice when they are equally as worthy for nominations as the regulars.

Let’s analyse what kind of movies the award shows love. There are three kinds-

1. Biography films or films based on real life events.

2.  Serious drama films.

3. Quirky experimental movies.

As I’ve said before, there are some blockbusters which are praised. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won eleven awards, including Best Picture, when it is a big budget movie ( I haven’t reached the third film in my very slow Middle-Earth marathon). But something about end of year movies and the movie types I discuss garner praise. But why?

Every kind of movie deserves praise. A good movie is a good movie. It doesn’t matter if it is about war, superheroes, ghosts or giant monsters, as long as the script is good then the movie is good. Special effects don’t mean a movie is stupider or less intelligent, it means they need the effects to tell a story. The Avengers needed effects to tell that story, the same way Pacific Rim and Jurassic Park did, when they are three different movies with three different stories, each of them worthy of praise. And have any of the official critics who vote actually watch the blockbusters and take a look at the story?

X Men: Days of Future Past is about choice and the effects of them. Thor is about how being removed from power can make you a better person. Pacific Rim is about humanity joining forces and fighting together. Spider Man 2 is about doing what’s right for the world, not just you. The Winter Soldier deals with corruption and the dangers of trust and power. Jurassic Park discusses the pros and cons of science. Guardians of the Galaxy is about how people can learn to help each other while also helping themselves.

These are all great, special effects driven action movies with a story, while I can guarantee many of the “best” movies are only made to be nominated and win. And even if the awards want Best Picture to be the realistic and slow moving dramas, then make a seperate category for Best Blockbuster. In fact, I’m going to do that now:

2014

Nominees

Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Guardians of the Galaxy.

Interstellar.

X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Winner

X-Men: Days of Future Past.

X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_poster

One of my favourite comic book teams return in an epic movie with two time zones, two Magnetos (!) and brilliant action while still having compelling characters and a deep and dark story.

2013

Nominees

Now You See Me.

Pacific Rim.

Thor: The Dark World

The Wolverine.

Winner

Pacific Rim.

pacific rim

An amazing and entertaining movie, with one of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen (the 10 minute battle in Hong Kong), with amazing effects and characters who can fill in the vibrant and detailed world.

So in conclusion, I think that big budget movies need to be acknowledged as equal to the others, even if they are awarded in a separate category. At the end of the year I will do my Best Blockbuster awards ceremony! Hopefully the nominees will be:

Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Spectre.

Jurassic World.

Star Wars VII.

But only time will tell!

 

Comic book time!

Due to the huge amount of comic book movies being released, I thought I will write about comic books themselves. It’s obvious the films are hugely popular, but it’s important to remember their origins. I have a drawer full of Batman, X Men and Thor comics.

The_Marvel_Universe

Image from Culture Culte via Flickr

So here is my comic book guide for dummies. First, the two big companies:

Marvel: Otherwise known as the ones who make the movies. Marvel are more light hearted, with a bigger emphasis on massive events involving loads of characters. Famous for Spiderman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor (my favourite), Hulk, Iron Man and Daredevil. The characters are normally ordinary people imbued with powers and they are more science fiction based (Doctor Strange aside).

DC: Otherwise known as the ones who should be making lots of movies but aren’t, DC tell darker stories with more serious characters with a wider range of personalities. The story arcs are more personal to certain heroes. Famous for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, Aquaman and Constantine. The heroes usually have personality problems and there is an emphasis on fantasy and magic, with technology also playing a part.

There are other comic companies but these are the two which everyone recognises and the ones where the most famous heroes come from. I’ve already discussed why they are so popular, so I’m going to talk about which company I prefer and why I like reading them.

I’m more of a Marvel person, but it’s funny because I find the DC characters more interesting. I much rather prefer Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter to Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk (though they are all cool). Similarly I prefer Batman to Spider-Man. However, the reason I prefer Marvel overall is not just because of the movies but because they feel more like a combined universe. I can read a Spider-Man comic and imagine that the X-Men exist, but while reading a Batman comic it is hard for me to imagine that Superman is somewhere (probably because Batman is so different to the other DC characters). So overall I think both are great, but I prefer Marvel, even though the DC universe is more interesting.

Conclusion

The main reason I like comics is because of the fact that it isn’t just words, but artwork and pictures as well. The stories are also really cool and the comic book universes are just so awesome! In one universe you have a guy dressed as a bat fighting clowns, people made of clay, mad scientists and an alien battling bald business men and a giant monster. The other universe has a guy dressed up as a spider fighting a man made of sand, alien symbiote and a scientist with four metal tentacles and a billionaire with an iron suit who fights warlords and a dragon. The extent a comic book can go with its characters is just brilliant. What other form of storytelling can have Asgardians, gamma mutated scientists, sorcerers and a WWII super powered soldier in the same story? And because it is a visual medium, it means that these characters can be instantly recognised.

And that’s why I like comic books. I read normal books as well but there is something about comics which appeal to me. It’s also good that there are movies which are being made from them, so there is always something for me to enjoy at the cinema.

Doctor Who Monster Symbolism

Yeah, I know. I said I wouldn’t do any Doctor Who posts for a while but I just had to do this. It all steamed from a thought I had about how a good Cyberman story would work. This then led me into thinking about other famous foes and what they might represent, at least to me. I’ve already discussed the Daleks and how they are obviously an allegory for Nazis, so I’ll skip them. So without further ado…

  • The Cybermen- Communism

CybermenModels321

 

 

The Cybermen are my absolute favourite Doctor Who villain for many reasons. Not only do they look awesome, have awesome voices (EXXXXXXCELLENT!) and are a chilling concept, but they have historical relevance too. Their first appearance in 1966 (The Tenth Planet, which is also the first regeneration story) was in the middle of the Cold War, where Communism and nuclear war were dangerously close. What are the Cybermen’s gain? To turn everyone into them. Their catchphrase (not “Delete”) is “You belong to us. You shall be like us”. The basic aim of Communism is for everyone to be equal with no rich or poor. The Cybermen exist without gender, names or emotion. Both of them represent a totally equal and harsh world. They also represent the rise of technology and how people lose their identities and emotion to them, which was a theme used in Dark Water extraordinarily well. The Series 8 finale is my second favourite Cyber story after Earthshock, which has the debut of the Excellent Cybermen.

  • The Silence- Religious extremists

silence will fall

The Silence are a fascinating concept as both monsters and as an organisation. But something which I’ve noticed about them is how there are many parallels between them and the real life religious extremists, people who claim they are part of their religion when the religion itself shuns them. The Silence are an offshoot of the Church of the Papal Mainframe, who help the Doctor fight the invading forces on Trenzalore. While the main church and the confessional priests (the “Silent” creatures) are good and help the Doctor, a rogue bunch, led by Kovarian, blow up the Tardis and when that fails launch a scheme to kill the Doctor to prevent him from reaching Trenzalore (all of this is some of the best plotting I’ve seen on the show incidentally). This is basically an exaggerated form of reality, where groups of people “apparently” uphold the laws of their religion (“Apparently” in huge sarcasm marks). The Silence believe that death and destruction is a good way of achieving their aims, just like the extremist groups of in real life.

  • The Ood- Slaves

ood

This one is pretty obvious, but it still needs pointing out. The Ood are one of the most iconic New Who monsters and it’s easy to see why. In a modern age where slavery is a thing of the past, it’s great that the Ood exist to show what the horrors of slavery were. They are clearly meant to be black slaves in the 19th and 18th centuries and the Ood Corporations are a metaphor for the rest of the world. The ending of Planet of the Ood shows that they are free which mirrors the end of slavery. If the Ood come back it needs to be a story which tells the audience what the Ood represent and uses it to tell a great story. Incidentally, the Ood are probably the only Doctor Who alien to not be in a bad story (The Satan Pit, Planet of the Ood, The Waters of Mars and the Doctor’s Wife are great and I remember liking the End of Time when I saw it).

So that is some creature symbolism. What other famous Who foes do you think represents the real world?

 

A lowdown on Gothic stories

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Recently I have become interested in a new kind of stories. These stories are Gothic stories. Stories like this include Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

dt

To say these stories are influential is an understatement. Many of them are the most iconic stories of all time, and made my favourite fantasy creature (the vampire) an icon of popular culture. There were also gothic horror movies made in the 50’s with new additions to the monster mix, including the werewolf and the mummy, whose appearances turned them into iconic foes. And while I promised I wouldn’t mention Doctor Who, I have to mention the period of the show when the stories became influenced by the Gothic genre (Pyramids of Mars, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, Image of the Fendahl, State of Decay, and more recent stories like Mummy on the Orient Express all take influence from the Gothic genre).

So why is this genre so iconic and influential? I think it is because of the characters. Everyone knows Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster (he is not called Frankenstein, that’s his creator) and Dr Jekyll. These characters are great because they were so different from anything at the time and because they still work now. The movie versions of these characters also help their popularity (although Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t big and green with a bolt through his head, he was more human like in the book and in the recent theatre version where he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, which I saw last October).

Another reason why I personally like this genre of storytelling is the sheer variety of them. Vampires, split personality, artifical people- they truly feel unique. They also tackle themes which at the time they were written (19th century) were extremely controversial, like the idea of playing with God in Frankenstein and the fear of the unknown in Dracula.

And that is why I like Gothic stories, not just because they are imaginative and unique, but because they are ahead of their time. I got many Gothic stories for Christmas and I’ve enjoyed reading them. It’s great to see what stories were like in the past.

Comedy: The sequel

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This post is a sequel to my post about comedy, where I questioned what happened to the comedy genre? And as per usual with sequels, it’s not as good as the first one (unless I’m going down the Star Wars or Spider-Man route, which I’ll try to do). Nevertheless, this one will be focused more on the kind of language used in comedy, and why puns and wordplay are so hilarious.

1) Puns

One of the most common forms of comedy is puns. Puns are either a joke which swaps one meaning for another (wrap, rap) or using a common trope of the thing being described (The vampire watched a movie. It sucked). These jokes work because everyone expects them but they are still funny because the characters don’t notice it. It can also be funny if used visually. For example, if someone needs a shock because of hiccups, why not electrocute them? The absurdity of the situation makes it work because it is just so ridiculous. Just making puns isn’t funny, but making puns within context is, in my view.

2) Wordplay and farce

This is my favourite kind of comedy, the kind of ridiculous situation which in my opinion makes the best comedy. Farce is literally an absurd situation, such as a robber robbing a bank armed with a banana or an evil spy planning to destroy the hero with an armadillo cage. What works about this is that the situations that comedy presents can be literally anything, and things which shouldn’t be together are together.

So that’s why comedies are so great, because they use language to clever extremes in the form of puns and silly wordplay. While it is hard to pin point exactly what makes comedy click, as it is in the end about what makes an individual laugh, but I believe that there are certain things which make comedies work for me. What makes you laugh?

Series 8- Changes I would have done

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It’s 2015! A new year! This year is full of things I am looking forward to- a new Avengers movie, a new James Bond movie, a new Star Wars movie, a new Jurassic Park movie and of course, Doctor Who Series 9 (or Season 35 if one wishes to be precise). But before we look to the future, let’s look at the series just past, and look at some elements of some stories I would have changed. But first, I’ll give my overall episode ranking-

1. Dark Water/Death in Heaven

2. Listen

3. Mummy on the Orient Express

4. Robot of Sherwood

5. Flatline

6. Time Heist

7. Deep Breath

8. The Caretaker

9. Into the Dalek

10. Kill the Moon

11. In the Forest of the Night

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at my changes to some of the episodes in the series-

1. Make the spiders in Kill the Moon a proper threat.

 

I was really looking to this story, and one of those reasons was the fact that the spiders seemed like a genuine threat. What was the last time an original Doctor Who monster was evil because it was just evil? The last time that happened was House from The Doctor’s Wife. The spiders in this story are great when they appear, but the whole episode is so focused on the “moon is an egg” thing that they lose any impact they should have. To make the spiders awesome, and to make the episode feel more Doctor Who-ish, here’s what I would have done-

OK, so the Doctor and Clara (sans Courtney, who was not needed), arrive on the Moon (by chance. The last time the Doctor arrived somewhere random without former planning or outside interference was The Crimson Horror). The episode set up is the same: a bunch of astronauts are sent to blow up the Moon, there is a debate whether to destroy it or not, all that stuff. But, the spiders are there already and have taken over the base. The spiders are creatures who were on a spaceship as cargo when they took over and crashed the ship into the centre of the moon, thus explaining the Moon’s lack of gravity as the ship is in the centre. The spiders learn of the humans due to the ship data banks and lay millions of eggs within the moon, making it bigger. Their plan is to eventually make the moon so big that it will crash into Earth, allowing the baby spiders to feast on the Earth.

The dillema then becomes this- to kill eveything on the Moon, including the unhatched eggs, or to let the spiders hatch and deal with them afterwards. This way, the core foundation of the episode (whether an innocent live is worth killing for the safety of others) is intact, but there is a core threat and the episode would have benefited from this. The Doctor still leaves, they destroy the moon, and the Doctor reappears and reveals that he took all the unhatched eggs to their native planet. He then reveals that he only did what he did to test Clara, who storms out of the Tardis. The episode remains intact, and in my eyes, a change along those lines would have meant I would have enjoyed the episode more (still not sure about what my mum would have thought).

2. Have there be an alien presence in In the Forest of the Night.

 

This is the only story in the story I actually don’t like. Kill the Moon at least had sci-fi elements in it, and it had a great, unique premise with an amazing final scene which changed the Doctor/companion dynamic drastically. This episode just happened with no consequences for the characters, a story like Hide which tries to be a character piece but has no interesting characters, threat or story to be that. People may complain that Robot of Sherwood was too childish, but that at least had sci fi action, an entertaining story and a clever dynamic between the Doctor and Robin (Not to mention I’m bias towards anything linked with medieval elements). The main problem with this story, aside from the lack of any threat, was the ‘fairies’ which live in the trees. Seriously? A literal fairy tale? Urgh. To make this story better, I would have done this…

So the world wakes up and there’s a forest. Everyone is confused about it (naturally) and the Doctor detects an alien spaceship hovering above Earth, invisible to Earth radars. In the spaceship are powerful aliens who see themselves as gods and aim to pass judgement on lesser planets (for extra continuity make them Eternals). The aliens are bored, immortal and want to test Earth. So they make trees appear all around the Earth, watching the people’s response. Naturally, being humans, they try to cut them down. The aliens then decree that the human race are an unnecessary addition to the universe and remove the trees and send a solar flare down to destroy the humans.

The Doctor agrees with them and offers to take Clara with him, as she is the only important human being to him at this moment. Clara chooses to stay, and this act of kindness and loyalty to her species convinces the aliens that there is some good in humanity, so the trees reappear and stop the solar flare. In this way, I have made the story more like Doctor Who, more character driven, more thought provoking for both the audience and the characters and conveys the eco friendly message of the episode in a subtle way.

Those are the two major changes to two episodes which disappointed me. I don’t like bad Doctor Who so I hope in my own way I will convince the BBC to look through their scripts and say “What do the Whovians want?”. My next post will definitely be none Doctor Who related, as I can’t write about it with no Doctor Who to talk about for 8 months. What changes to the series would you have wanted?

 

 

Doctor Who Christmas Special Review + Series 9 speculation

Christmas is over and done with, but as always, we have a Doctor Who Christmas Special to discuss! There’s also the first episode title of Series 9, so we have that to look forward to. So, let’s take a look. This review will be different from my other reviews. I will focus primarily on the things which I consider to be the main pros and cons of it. Yes, it has flaws, so it can’t be as good as the Christmas Invasion, A Christmas Carol or the Time of the Doctor, but there is still a lot to this episode which is great. As per usual, spoiler alert

Pros

  • The Doctor’s characterisationdu wee ouuu

It took me a full series to fully accept Capaldi as THE Doctor, 100%. He had his moments (his conversation with Robin Hood, the ending of Mummy on the Orient Express, his speech in Flatline) but it wasn’t until Death in Heaven where he realised who he truly was and became the character we all know and love. This episode continued the trend of having the Doctor pretty much offend everyone and get offended by everything (“You have a horror movie called Alien? That’s really offensive, no wonder everyone keeps invading you”). He is responsible for all the dream exposition and gets an epic introduction, with him insulting Santa and marching into the Tardis with a great soundtrack supporting him. It’s also the first time this Doctor is truly happy, as he rides the sleigh out of the dream. The emotional core of the story is of the Doctor slowly helping Clara let go of Danny and to make her a better person.

  • The concept of the villains

dream crabs

 

I really like the concept of the Dream Crabs. While the “Don’t do something” thing is getting a bit old as it’s been done with the Weeping Angels, the Silence and the Teller, it is presented in a way which seems fresh. I like the old fashioned feel that they have, as they feel like something which a Classic Series Doctor would fight, and the whole story is reminiscent of an early Tom Baker story (at least the scenes in the Arctic Base are). However, I wished the creatures did more then stand around, and they didn’t really have a plan and in the end weren’t really menacing enough. Which leads me to…

Cons

  • The plot was confusing

doctor-who-christmas

 

While I understood the whole story (as in it didn’t confuse me in a way the Girl Who Waited or Journey to the Centre of the Tardis did where it was so confusing I was bored), after thinking about it the plot was full of holes. Why did the Dream Crabs make an Arctic Base? Were there four people whose ideal world is in a base? What is the Doctor going to do about the Dream Crab who killed the Professor? Or is there one Dream Crab ready to try again? Why were they putting them through multiple dreams? At least in Inception (yes it’s not a Doctor Who story but it’s the same concept) the dreams within dreams was part of the story of that film. But why did the Dream Crabs decide to do this? Why was the Doctor in an extra layer of dreaming? When thought is applied, the story makes no sense.

  • The ending

 

 

 

dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams

 

So, now we know that Clara is staying for Series 9, there is more speculation. I will admit, I’m not the biggest fan of the ending. I would have been if the final dream scene wasn’t so great. The Doctor rescues Clara only to find that she is an old woman. They have a Christmas dinner and then Santa comes and it was all a dream. My problem is this: why have a scene which is so good only to have it be a dream? If they had cut straight to the actual ending then I wouldn’t mind. I also didn’t know what to think of Clara staying, as her character seems two-sided. In Series 7, she was a pretty boring character who was fun and energetic. In Series 8 she was slightly more serious, slightly more realistic and grew as a character.

Now I prefer Series 8 Clara, as she is a better character, but I miss that charm she had with Matt Smith. Capaldi is a very serious Doctor and a light hearted companion is needed in my eyes. So for Series 9, have Clara become that fun, inquisitive person who travelled because it was fun, but still retain that character and don’t make her journey in Series 8 irrelevent. Tardis teams often work because they’re contrasts: Fun Four/Serious Sarah Jane, Serious Nine/Fun Rose and Alien Eleven/Human Amy. For Series 9 it should be Serious Twelve/Fun Clara. But she should still argue and question the Doctor, as that’s what made companions like Donna and Rory work.

So, Series 9. The first episode is called the Magician’s Apprentice. At first it sounded like a new companion debut, but with Clara staying it could be different. But the new companion could still happen. Perhaps the Doctor gets another companion and Clara acts as his/her teacher. If it’s a male though, let’s not have him fall in love. Have someone like Jack or Harry, someone whose just there to be a generally cool guy to be around. But I’ve already discussed that.

Phew, that was long. What do you think of the Christmas Special? What do you make of the title? And, more importantly, do you think a new companion should join?

 

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