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5 hopes for Chris Chibnall’s era

It’s been over a month since Steven Moffat ended his tenure as showrunner of Doctor Who. Whilst I would do a retrospective, I feel like I’ve discussed his era too much in the past. For now, let’s look to the future and what Chris Chibnall has in store for Whovians. Outside of casting we don’t know too much about his era, which is great. I do have faith in him to deliver a strong run but here’s a list of things I hope he follows through on. I did a list before the Series 9 finale about wishes for Series 10, which were mostly fulfilled (two new interesting companions, great returning monsters and cool new ones and a better balance of story and character). My other two weren’t really followed through on (a consistent costume and more alien planets) so they are on this list as honourable mentions. I do like the Thirteenth Doctor’s costume so far, but I need to see it in action and let it sink in.

So, let’s dive into what I would like to see in Chris Chibnall’s era-

  • A new, original arc

I cannot stress this enough, but a series without the Daleks, Cybermen or the Master would be brilliant. I don’t think the latter two are appearing but the Daleks almost certainly will, which would be fine as long as they aren’t the story arc.

Remember (ba-dum) how effective the Silence were? We had a brand new, original threat for basically two seasons. You could argue the Series 6 arc teetered out of control and that the Silence were wasted but the fact remains that Steven Moffat created a fascinating new villain along with a highly engaging arc. I hope Chris Chibnall does the same and creates new threats, supporting characters, worlds and arcs.

Without trying to sound like I’m bias, the RTD era really had this under control. We had Ood and Weeping Angels, Torchwood and Sarah Jane, three trips to New Earth and well thought out, interesting arcs. Moffat had this in a way with Matt Smith (Silence and Angels, River and the Paternoster Gang and the Silence Will Fall arc) but Peter Capaldi’s run suffered from a lack of originality. Am I a good man? That was basically Eleven’s arc in Series 6. The companion and the Doctor are in a dangerous partnership? Explored in the God Complex. It’s why I loved Series 10, as rehabilitating the Master had never been done before. But there can still be more.

Have a cosmic war. Have a chase across time and space by bounty hunters. Have the Great Old Ones return, ready to wreck havoc across the universe. Have Rassilon plot an elaborate revenge against the Doctor. I would love Chris Chibnall to just go nuts with his story arcs and ideas. Don’t just rely on old enemies or retread old ideas, do something truly captivating and original. The whole universe can be explored, why are the arcs so Earth focused and why is everything something from the Doctor’s past? Move away from sequels to Classic Who or yet more Time War angst and do something new.

  • Good villains

Without looking them up, how many Twelfth Doctor villains can you name? As in proper, compelling, original villains (Missy doesn’t count). My guess is that you can’t name many, as most of them weren’t really villains and the ones that were weren’t very good. The Monks were promising but ended up being just the Silence, and there really isn’t that much from Twelve’s rogue’s gallery. There’s the Boneless yes, but what else?

William Hartnell battled cosmic entities and rogue Time Lords. Tom Baker encountered the last of the Osrians, the Guardians of Time and more. Sylvester McCoy fought Fenric, a being from beyond comprehension and David Tennant battled the Devil. My point is that Peter Capaldi’s rogues were a bit less impressive. Oh no, lion people. Oh no, sleep dust monsters. Watch out for the weird robot owl thing and you better hide from the terrifying King Hydroflax!

He looks cool, but try thinking of a single line the Fisher King said. And I like this story.

My wish for Thirteen is that she gets some amazing villains. They don’t have to be sympathetic or misunderstood, you can just make them evil. Is there a single redeeming quality about the Mara, or the Family of Blood? No, they’re just evil. It would help if they had some depth but sometimes they can be just evil. As long as they’re interesting, the audience will care. It says a lot when the best villain last series was a CGI wolf with tentacles.

  • Have fun

Let’s not beat around the bush here, Doctor Who is at its best when it’s dark. There’s a reason Phillip Hinchfliffe’s era is beloved. However, it’s important to have fun and embrace the camp. Having the Doctor be light hearted, caring and zany is hugely important, and unfortunately Twelve was none of that, at first anyway. The show turned utterly serious and dour with plot points like the Moon being an egg and flying Cybermen being treated incredibly seriously without any acknowledgement to the stupidness of the concepts (and the show itself is stupid. It’s about a shape shifting alien who flies in a box through time and space. But that’s what makes it great). Tom Baker had dark stories, but he was still a buffon who tripped over his scarf. Jon Pertwee was a snarky know-it-all who loved driving and David Tennant had some of the most mature storylines in the show’s history,  yet he still randomly referenced pop culture, had a positive attitude and made jokes, all whilst managing to maintain the darkness of the storylines.

Sometimes it’s good to go dark. Inferno, Waters of Mars, Curse of Fenric, The Doctor Falls- all very dark. But don’t have the basic outlook of the show be dark. Why did I like Robot of Sherwood and The Return of Doctor Mysterio? Because they were fun. Why did the fanbase dislike them? They were different from the typical Twelfth Doctor episode. Twelve was out of character for those as he was acting the way any other Doctor would act in those situations- having fun. My advice for Chris Chibnall is- lighten it up when it’s appropriate. When there are dark storylines, have them be dark. When there are light hearted or goofy scenarios, have fun. This is why having a lighter, nicer Doctor helps.

  • Take risks and don’t spoil things early

I’m going to go on a slight tangent and bring up The Last Jedi. Nothing about that film is what you’d expect. Luke Skywalker is a jaded old man and Snoke, the supposed big bad of the new trilogy, is killed off. Think about how risky that is, and how refreshing it was. Iron Man 3 does something similar with the Mandarin, turning the character from a generic bad guy to a metaphor about modern media and manipulation.

My point is, Chibnall really needs to think outside the box. Don’t give the audience what they’re expecting and subvert expectations. Of course it was going to be Missy in the Vault. But what if it wasn’t? Of course the Doctor wasn’t really working for the Monks. But what if he was? The funny thing about that last example is that Skulduggery Pleasant did a similar plot point in Resurrection, released the same week as Lie of the Land (having the main character turn evil) but actually stuck to it. That’s a risk.

The show has taken risks in the past, such as Heaven Sent, but I want more. Truly challenge the audience and make them think about the show they’re watching. What if the mysterious box in the TARDIS isn’t the arc, but the companion we’ve been following throughout the series has been working for the bad guys the whole time? What if the Earth is invaded by aliens in the most painfully generic plot imaginable, only for the Doctor to realise that they’re not on Earth and are actually on a game show? That’s the kind of risk I’m talking about. Extremis is a great example of a risk that worked.

There have been episodes in the Capaldi era that took risks, but the show as a whole needs to do more risky things, especially in regards to the story arcs. Do something that will shatter expectations and make the audience react. Don’t fear backlash, just go for it. Chibnall also needs to make sure the risks pay off- Series 8 had a dark and depressed Doctor but it didn’t really work as nothing was being subverted- he was just angry and miserable. How about a pure historical? Or a non-linear episode? Or (dare I say it?) a musical episode? As long as they’re good then the fans won’t mind.

How about a pure historical musical?

Never mind.

Also, don’t spoil things. How much more awesome would John Simm’s reveal in World Enough and Time have been if it hadn’t been spoilt? The Internet would have gone nuts. I know it’s harder to keep secrets know but the BBC need to have some degree of control over spoilers.

  • A consistent time slot

What time is Doctor Who on THIS WEEK?

This is less about the show itself and more about scheduling. Back in the day, David Tennant’s Doctor would be on TV at around 7:00. OK, so I stayed up slightly later on Saturday. But with Peter Capaldi, I didn’t know what time the show was on as it was never consistent. Sometimes it was 7, sometimes it was 8:35. You’d think with a Spring start Series 10 would not fall victim to this, but as early as Smile the schedule was being pushed around for… football. I respect that people like watching football, but if Doctor Who is on at a certain time, I want it to be on at that time and not have to wait to see if the episode will be pushed back a week just because people can’t kick a ball in time. Seriously, is there not a separate channel for sports? That would be the only hiccup you’d think, but no, it happened again for Pyramid at the End of the World and then the show was aired even earlier to accommodate a new BBC show. Hey Beeb, maybe it’s not a good idea to start a new show when your flagship sci-fi show is currently airing.

Little things like it airing five minutes before or later than last week really bug me. Is it so hard to just have a slot for Doctor Who? It’s managed with the other shows. Even Peter Capaldi has spoken out about this, and it’s believe to be one of the reasons he left, despite initially stating he was going to do more than three seasons. With Series 11 not airing until autumn, I’m worried that the same thing will happen with Series 8 and 9- instead of putting the show in that magical slot known as “before Strictly Come Dancing”, the Beeb are just going to put it afterwards and air it depending on how long Strictly lasts. It got even worse in Series 9 when the BBC chose not to air the show before the Rugby World Cup, rather letting the show run through it. Great move guys, maybe this is why the viewing figures have tanked.

If I was managing the BBC, I would air the show at 6:00-6:50 every Saturday. This way, the whole family can eat dinner whilst watching (which was the point of airing the show at around that time anyway) and there won’t be any conflicts. It’ll be autumn so it’ll be dark so any scary episodes will be appropriate and the show will not air too early or too late. I really hope this is sorted out and I hope Chris Chibnall actually has a say in this as he has a lot riding on this series (if the viewing figures are low, the BBC will just assume it’s because of Jodie Whittaker being the first female Doctor). I know when the show is on every week because I watch every week and make sure to check when it’s on but the general public, who drop in and out, will not be as dedicated as me. The show needs a proper time slot.

So, those are five points I hope Chris Chibnall expands on in his era. Have some original ideas, some great villains, have fun but don’t forget to take risks, don’t let anything be spoilt in advance and don’t let the show air inconsistently. Let’s wait and see.

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Attention Whovians! Let’s all calm down about a female Doctor

Well, something happened in the Whoniverse recently. No, I’m not talking about the Christmas Special trailer (which looks awesome, although I am worried that Bill’s return will be another Hell Bent). In fact, I’m referring to this-

Yes, we have a female Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. What do I think? I’m fine with the Doctor being a woman and it’ll be interesting to see Chris Chibnall’s vision of the show. However, this isn’t what this post is about. This is going to be about the fandom and how we all need to calm down.

Read the rest of this entry

Doctor Who Series 10: Thin Ice Review

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With it being slightly frosty this week, yesterday’s episode was very appropriate for the weather. Regardless of weather, this episode still continues the trend of fantastic stories from Series 10. I’m serious, if these early episodes are supposed to be the “weaker” ones, then I just can’t wait for the upcoming ones.

One of the best things about this episode is how it’s completely different from last week. We’ve gone from a sci-fi mystery with robots and lasers to a Regency-era costume drama with a big fish/snake thing. It’s this kind of juxtaposition that I love from Doctor Who, and this is probably the biggest contrast for consecutive episodes since Rings of Akhaten/Cold War.

The character work was superb this week, as both regulars got huge amounts of development. Sarah Dollard really knows how to write the Twelfth Doctor and he gets one of his best outings in a while, with his characteristic snarking, humour and cynicism mixed with humanity and warmth. The highlights are when he punched Sutcliffe for his treatment of Bill (I’ve seen people complain about this, but trust me, the Doctor is NOT a pacifist. Just watch any Jon Pertwee or Colin Baker story) and his speech about human progress.

Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age, that’s… what defines a species.

There’s also the continued development of Bill, and this episode once again shows what Moffat and co should have done with Clara in Series 7- show that travelling with the Doctor was not always fun. In this story, she sees a child die (pretty dark considering Doctor Who is a family show) and is understandably upset about it. There were hints of this in Cold War when Skaldak was killing the redshirts, but Clara never had a moment to reflect on what she saw. By having Bill realise the darker side of the Doctor and respond in a realistic way, it makes her more human and relatable. There are plenty of fantastic scenes between them and all three episodes so far have essentially been just her and the Doctor learning about each other. I feel like beginning from Knock Knock, the stories will get larger and more plot based.

I really liked the villain, Lord Sutcliffe, and he was basically exactly what I wanted after two weeks with no villains. I said I liked him when it’s really more “love to hate”, as in he’s so evil and careless that I just couldn’t help but like him and hate him at the same time. He’s essentially a villain from the Jon Pertwee era and as a massive fan of that era, I appreciated the return the stingy, metaphorically moustache twirling, condescending, obnoxious figure of high power that just irritates the Doctor and the audience. He’s so evil that his death is immensely satisfying. It’s been a while since we’ve had a decent human villain on Doctor Who, and Sutcliffe is probably the best since Solomon from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. I’d have liked to see more of him though and have his plan expanded.

I’d love to see this guy spar with Edmund Blackadder, considering he was also in Regency London. I’d call the episode Fish and Finality. I reckon Sutcliffe would not be able to stand a chance against Blackadder.

There’s so much more to love about this story. One of the best aspects was how it handled the racism of 1814 and taught the children watching that it is never appropriate to be racist, regardless of what time period someone’s from (just because nearly everyone in 1814 was racist doesn’t excuse it). Whilst I love the Shakespeare Code, it didn’t really deal with the obvious issues that Martha would be dealing with in the 16th century. Thin Ice deals with the issue of Bill facing racism in the past a lot better, even if it was just by the Doctor knocking Sutcliffe unconscious in anger. Part of Doctor Who’s original goal was to educate the kids, and this was a good way to do it. Throwing in a real historical event and giving it a Doctor Who twist also makes the historical aspect of the show stand out more than just stories which happen to be in the past (what did the Vikings and Stuart settings add to the Ashildr stories last season?)

Another interesting element was the lack of aliens (again). It’s never really confirmed whether the sea serpent is from Earth or not and I like it that way. Whilst it is yet another misunderstood creature, the presence of Sutcliffe means there was an actual villain, although I really want the monsters this week to be the “we will kill you all” kind. Comparisons to The Beast Below are obvious as well as the Torchwood episode Meat (I’ve only recently gotten into Torchwood and I’ve been watching the good ones with my dad). There were also elements of Kill the Moon (companion makes a choice that revolves around a moral dilemma) but it’s handled better here because there weren’t any one sided dilemmas and no giant flying moon babies.

Ice to meet you (I know, I know, puns are terrible. Eye won’t make any more)

Overall, we have yet another strong episode. I feel like I’m in the minority when I say Smile is my favourite of this opening trilogy (its sci-fi aspects, clever twists and great dialogue sell it for me) but Thin Ice comes a very close second. As one of my most anticipated episodes pre broadcast it didn’t disappoint. There wasn’t much about the story arc, but we got a hint towards what’s in the vault (my Master theory is getting stronger) and it appears that Nardole will become a regular from next week.

Speaking of next week, we have a mysterious landlord, a haunted house, tree dudes and things in the wall. It feels like Ghost Light and the SJA story The Eternity Trap combined. Before that though, I’ll be reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.

Smile review: All is forgiven Frank

Well, another week, another Doctor Who. After the fast paced frenzy of last week and the introduction of a great new companion, this week took a much slower pace with an episode that evoked Classic Who, in particular The Ark in Space and The Happiness Patrol.

As I said in my Series 10 hype post, this was the episode I was the most worried about, considering Frank Cottrell Boyce’s only other Doctor Who script was In the Forest of the Night. Fortunately, Smile was a lot better, and I enjoyed it even more than The Pilot.

A big part of this was because of the Doctor and Bill’s interactions, with Nardole completely disappearing from the episode in the first scene. The episode played out like a Part One of Classic Who, where the characters explore the setting by themselves. This was especially important as we needed to know how this new TARDIS team functioned and how Bill adjusted to life in the TARDIS. Having no real action or supporting characters meant the story could have been dull, but due to the interactions and continued character development I was entertained throughout.

My thoughts on the episode in a nutshell.

I love the structure of this story, with the pieces slowly being unravelled and the plot slowly fitting together to form a very enticing mystery. Each plot point made sense and felt necessary, with every aspect of the story slotting into place by the end. I’ll admit the ending was a bit weak, with the Doctor essentially rebooting the robots with his sonic screwdriver, but the resolution still ultimately left me satisfied due to the great build up.

The emojibots worked well in my opinion. They weren’t particularly scary but I don’t think they were meant to be, especially considering the whole story was just a misunderstanding between the Vardis and the humans. It was quite brave to have a story with no real villain (The Edge of Destruction, Listen and to an extent Gridlock all show how a story with no villain can work, as does Smile) and I appreciated the small scale nature of the story and due to the lack of a real antagonist the emojibots served their purpose well as a physical threat to keep the story from being too boring. This is the second story in a row with no actual villain, so I’m hoping this week we see the return of the evil, slightly hammy doomsday villain, because sometimes that’s good.

This frowny face is hilarious and is basically my reaction to there being yet another election I can’t vote in.

I found the Doctor’s characterisation in this episode spot on. It’s so refreshing to have the Doctor not know what’s going on and he has to solve everything by slowly investigating the situation and putting the pieces together. Something even rarer was the Doctor making a massive mistake and almost blowing up the cryogenic chambers. The Doctor rarely makes mistakes and seeing him make one was very refreshing, especially in comparison to the know-it-all persona that Steven Moffat loves. The balance between the gruff Doctor of Series 8 and the more quirky Doctor in Series 9 has been very well balanced, so it’s once again a shame that this is Peter Capaldi’s final series. I call it Peter Davison syndrome, where a Doctor only really comes into his own in his final series.

The story had a very William Hartnell vibe, from the slow pace to the Doctor miscalculating to the awesome link to Thin Ice at the end. Much like a William Hartnell story, we have a story which is more about the characters and the setting than the alien threat. The supporting characters however weren’t the best, and they only really popped up in the final third. This is where the story dips slightly, as In the Forest of the Night syndrome hits and we get some forced moralising, albeit more subtly. I wish the story developed the misunderstanding more and delved more deeply into the ideas of emotion and grief, which was the instigator of the whole story. The more I think about it, the more Smile is really just a more macarbe Inside Out.

I love the contrast between the clean city and dirty spaceship. This whole set looks like something out of the Tom Baker era.

 

SMILE OR DIE!

However, these are just a few flaws in what is a very enjoyable story. Bill continues to be great (in a few episodes time she may end up being my second favourite New Who companion, if not number one) and if the quality remains this good, we could have the best New Who series, surpassing even Series 4 and 5. Considering Smile had the most potential out of all the episodes to be bad, the fact that it’s good bodes very well for the episodes that looked great from the start.

Such as this week, featuring elephants and a frozen Thames. I cannot wait for this Saturday.

My favourite Sarah Jane Adventures stories

This week sees the first two episodes of the new Doctor Who spin off Class. To celebrate, I thought I would look back on the show that I arguably loved even more than Doctor Who- The Sarah Jane Adventures.

the_sarah_jane_adventures_intro

The beloved companion of the Third and Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane was so popular she returned in the new series in one of my absolute favourite Doctor Who stories ever- School Reunion. Following this, a whole spin off was commissioned, aiming to be a more kid-friendly series than Doctor Who. However, at points Sarah Jane Adventures was more mature than Doctor Who. I cannot explain how awesome it was when this show crossed over with Doctor Who and Torchwood (I had no idea who the characters apart from Jack were but my dad explained) in the Series 4 finale. The show continued until 2011, when Elisabeth Sladen unfortunately passed away. I was 10 years old and I can’t remember exactly how I reacted, but I did miss the show, and watching Sarah Jane’s original Doctor Who stories has solidified her as my favourite companion. It helped that she was in some of my favourite Classic stories- Planet of the Spiders, The Ark in Space, Genesis of the Daleks, Terror of the Zygons, The Brain of Morbius and the Seeds of Doom. I’ve yet to reach the Time Warrior on my Classic Series marathon, but I look forward to it a lot.

So with all that aside, let’s dive into this brilliant show with a look at my favourite stories, in chronological order-

  • Warriors of Kudlak

warriors-of-kudlak

I love the concept of this one a lot- training kids to fight for a galactic war using a Laser Quest style game to lure them in, with the best warriors being kidnapped for the Uvodni war (incidentally, I love the Uvodni-they were mentioned in the Pandorica Opens but I’d love to see them appear in the show properly). Where this one gets really good is the second half with the concept of The Mistress, the battle computer, hiding the peace treaty from Kudlak to continue the war as she thinks peace does not compute. It’s a dark concept for a kid’s show and proves that this is a show for all ages. This story also continues the friendship between Luke and Clyde, my favourite SJA character other than Sarah Jane and I really hope he becomes a companion one day.

  • All three Trickster storiesthe-wedding-of-sarah-jane-smith-27

Cheating yes, but I find all three stories featuring the Trickster, Sarah Jane’s ultimate foe, to be outstanding. The Trickster himself is probably my favourite villain in the whole Whoniverse, and his design is simple yet utterly terrifying. The stories themselves are brilliant. Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? is a great introduction to the character and serves as the Sarah Jane lite story, where the Trickster causes Sarah Jane to fall off a pier when she was young and her friend Andrea being saved and living at 13 Bannerman Road. The Trickster aims to cause the world to be destroyed by a meteorite which Sarah Jane could easily stop, so the Trickster changes history to cause chaos. It’s a great character driven story. Incidentally, the events in the Doctor Who episode Turn Left are linked with this story.

The next Trickster story, The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith, is my favourite of the bunch. It incorporates time travel into the show and addresses themes common in Doctor Who, namely the idea of changing the past with dire consequences. In this case, Sarah Jane is given the opportunity to save her parents from a car accident that happened when she was a baby. Timey-wimey occurs, and once again the Trickster is behind everything and Sarah Jane’s parents are forced to sacrifice themselves to save the world. Hard to believe this is seen as the Doctor Who spin off for kids.

The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith features a guest appearance from David Tennant (!) and is amazing, as is the course for a Trickster story. It starts off comical and light hearted with Sarah Jane preparing to get married, then the Doctor appears as the cliffhanger and things get really, really dark. David Tennant is awesome here, and his confrontation with the Trickster is one of the highlights of the story (with foreshadowing to The End of Time, clever). This is also a great story for Clyde as he gets to zap the Trickster with artron energy. Awesome! Overall, these three stories to me represent the height of the series.

  • Day of the Clown

oddbob-the-clown

One of my favourites when I was younger, this story did creep me out when I was younger, even if I’m not scared of clowns. Some of the imagery is pretty disturbing for a “kids” show, especially the scene in the toilet where Oddbob almost takes Clyde. The clown has great music and commands the screen whenever he’s on screen and while there, is of course, a sci-fi explanation, it doesn’t explain everything and leaves some details to the imagination, which is great. This story introduces Rani, who would become a permanent fixture of the show from this story onwards. Sarah Jane also has some great development here, as she has to confront her fear of clowns to take down Oddbob (she should be glad she wasn’t in Greatest Show in the Galaxy). Overall a pretty simple one, but one of the creepiest.

  • Enemy of the Bane

enemy-of-the-bane

Probably one of my most rewatched stories ever, this one is my favourite season finale of the show, tying together many ideas and characters previously established. Mrs Wormwood from Invasion of the Bane is back, Kaagh from the Last Sontaran is back and most importantly, the Brigadier is back! Oh yeah! Throughout Series 2 themes of family had been addressed, from Rani’s family to Clyde’s dad to Sarah Jane’s dilemma involving her parents, and in this story Luke is forced through the dilemma. He was created as a weapon for the Bane in their initial invasion but turned on them, and in this story Mrs Wormwood, the leader of the Bane and technically Luke’s mother, returns and forces Luke to make a choice. Great stuff, and anything with the Brigadier has my seal of approval.

  • The Eternity Trap

the-eternity-trap

Along with Waters of Mars, this story was one of the few Whoniverse stories to genuinely scare me and still scare me now. A much better version of Hide from Series 7 of Doctor Who, this creepy haunted house story is one I’ll be popping in this Halloween (because if you can’t beat them, join them). A great mystery tale with a fantastic villain, The Eternity Trap combines ghosts, red eyed monsters and science fiction to create one of the most unique stories in the series, with character development taking a backseat to atmosphere and scares. The attic isn’t in this one, neither is Mr Smith or Luke, so the focus is on Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani trying to solve the mystery of Erasmus Darkening. It’s a prototype to Series 4 in a way, and it’s one of my personal favourites.

  • Death of the Doctor

death-of-the-doctor

And I thought the Brigadier and the Tenth Doctor was the pinnacle of Who crossovers with The Sarah Jane Adventures, but no, my favourite Doctor teams up with not only Sarah Jane but Jo Grant, who I’m currently watching in my Classic Series marathon. This story has everything: UNIT, alien vulture undertakers, blue Graske (or Groske) and continuity overload! The scene where the Doctor tells Sarah Jane and Jo to remember their memories of travelling with him to overload the memory weave is one of my favourite scenes ever. Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Drashigs, Axons, Davros, Sea Devils, Krynoids, Morbius, Omega, Daleks, Eldrad, the Wirrn- clips from the Classic Series which make me squee with delight. It made me squee then and, due to my new found passion for Classic Who, will definitely make me squee more. In short, my reaction throughout the story is this-

So those were my favourite Sarah Jane Adventures stories. I’ve mainly gone for ones I have watched the most, as most of these aren’t necessarily the best, but they’re certainly the most enjoyable- to me anyway.

5 wishes for Doctor Who Series 10

Tonight’s episode of Doctor Who, Face the Raven, is going to be a very important one. At the Doctor Who Festival last week the writers and actors all discussed Face the Raven as a game changer. So naturally, I’m hyped. But one thing is certain; by the end of Series 9, Clara will be gone, almost certainly dead. Series 10 will hopefully see the return of a darker Doctor, one who has lost his companion and who is angry at the universe, which should hopefully change the style of storytelling.

I thought about writing this article after the series had finished, but I thought before tonight’s episode will do, given its importance. Any of the wishes I say here could happen by the end of the series. So here goes, 5 wishes I have for Series 10.

  • An interesting and new companion

face the raven

With Clara leaving, the new companion is of course going to appear soon. Now my hopes for a new companion is for someone completely different from the other New Series companions. Part of the reason I love companions like Romana and Jack are that they are so unique from all the others. I hope the new companion is either a male companion who travels independently with the Doctor (a Second Doctor/Jamie dynamic could be established) or an alien companion. Someone from the Earth’s past could be interesting as well. While I haven’t hated any New Series companion, they are all pretty similar in origins and there are several similarities between them. I love Donna because she was a break from the RTD era mould, so the third companion of the Moffat era should be a break from this era’s mould (a feisty girl with a mystery around them).

Clara’s departure should not impact the new companion either. Part of the problem I have with Series 3 is that the Tenth Doctor just wouldn’t shut up about losing Rose, meaning Martha’s introduction was like “new companion, yeah, but the old one is better”. This is partly why I find the Series 4 dynamic of The Doctor/Donna much more satisfying. I understand that Clara’s departure will be devastating for the Doctor (and the audience) but he shouldn’t be mourning for a whole series. Clara’s introduction worked because the Doctor got over Amy and Rory’s departure and accepted Clara, so the audience automatically did. The companion is the surrogate for the audience, so it is important the Doctor treats them with respect. Yes, Series 10 has to have an angry and upset Doctor, but the new companion needs to be treated as their own character, not just as a replacement for Clara.

  • Bring back more old monsters and have better new ones

zygon

Series 10 needs to be braver when it comes to reviving older monsters. This year, the Zygons returned with a bang after only two appearances (one of which wasn’t focused on them) and Davros returned after seven years. This was much more refreshing than just the Daleks, Cybermen or the Master, although two out of three of them have already appeared. I love the Daleks and the Cybermen, but they need a break to make their appearances have more impact. The show needs to revive older monsters, preferably ones who haven’t appeared for a while.

The Zygons have already been successfully revived, so I think it is time for the Rutans, the Mara, the Ice Warriors or the Autons to have a revival. The Rutans and Mara haven’t appeared in the New Series yet, and they have plenty of potential, while the Ice Warriors and Autons are monsters who have appeared but can be used better than how they were. Cold War was a very rushed re-introduction to the Ice Warriors who deserve a two parter (as I write I’m listening to a Sixth Doctor audio featuring them), and the Autons haven’t been used since 2010, when they are a fascinating threat. On that note, why didn’t Closing Time use them? It’s set in a shop! Even the Sontarans haven’t had a story focused on them since 2008.

More monsters I would like to see include the Terileptils, Sil, the Mandragora Helix, the Fendahl and Omega. If the Macra can re- appear, then I see no reason why he can’t.

omega

Omega versus the Third and Second Doctor. I still have a long way to wait for this story in my viewing marathon but I can’t wait to watch it.

However, Series 10 needs cool new threats as well. In the whole Capaldi era, only the Teller, the Foretold and the Boneless have had a huge impact from Series 8, while Series 9 has lacked an awesome new alien. The ghosts were great, but the Fisher King should have been better than he was, and the other new monsters have barely made an impact. Christopher Eccleston had the Slitheen and the Empty Child, David Tennant had the Ood, Weeping Angels, Judoon and Vashta Nerada, while Matt Smith had the Silence. Capaldi’s era needs a truly iconic and terrifying threat. Series 9 could potentially have the weakest rogues gallery of the revival after Series 7, which barely had villains at all.

  • More focus on story

I have loved the new focus on character and emotion recently, and the idea to make nearly every story a two parter is great. However, often the story gets lost in the muddle. The plot, villains and action of a story is just as important as the character and emotion in my eyes. Stories like Kill the Moon have suffered because it forgot the plot and became a talky episode about killing a moon baby (facepalm) and while the Woman Who Lived was significantly better, the plot still got sidelined to the point where the villain literally exploded for no reason.

Episodes like The Waters of Mars, Mummy on the Orient Express, Vincent and the Doctor and The Satan Pit are all great examples of a story has an equal balance of character drama and emotion and also having a great story and threat. Yes, the Krafygis wasn’t needed in Vincent and the Doctor, but it still functioned in the plot and didn’t feel sidelined, to me at least.

Other examples include The Waters of Mars, which is both a great base under siege story and a powerful character drama while Human Nature is a basic plot made into a story full of strong themes and ideas, with the threat still intact and the story in place.

 

underthelake

Under the Lake is another great example from recent memory with an equal balance of story and character.

In short, the story telling needs to be written alongside the character work, not written separatly and bunched together.

  • The Doctor needs to have a consistent costume
doctor-who-12-doctor-who-series-8-6-reasons-why-it-ll-rule

This awesome promo picture is on my wall and is how I want the Twelfth Doctor to look.

A bit minor, but still an issue I want to address. When Capaldi was introduced, he had that awesome buttoned jacket and plain white shirt. Simple, but effective. So why does it keep changing? I don’t mind costume changes, as Pertwee changed costume all the time, but all his costumes were regal and posh. Capaldi has worn hoodies, boring jumpers and loose white shirts. It doesn’t really scream “Lord of Time” when the main character has a polka dot shirt, hoodie or baggy trousers. Yes, I know Troughton wore baggy trousers but that was in character with his Doctor. Capaldi is a harsh and uncompromising Doctor, so it really doesn’t suit him.

Imagine being a Dalek and confronting the Doctor when he is dressed like this. Not very intimidating, is it?

Thankfully, tonight’s episode has got the Doctor wearing a gorgeous purple velvet coat, similar to his original one.

purple coat

This evokes class and is reminiscent of Pertwee. I love it.

This screams “Lord of Time” and I think he should coordinate between this one and his original coat. It’s a minor point, but I fail to see why the Twelfth Doctor has so many stories where he looks so un-Doctorly. Why is he wearing a baggy white shirt with a pink one underneath when confronting Davros, his archenemy? Into the Dalek, Flatline, Death in Heaven and now Face the Raven have had Twelve at his most regal and impressive, like he should be. Although the First Doctor esque costume in Mummy on the Orient Express was great.

  • Alien worlds

I can’t stress this enough, but I am really tired of Earth in Doctor Who. I understand the budget may not be able to accommodate an alien world every week, but if the Classic Series can have unique worlds and planets every series, then I fail to see why the New Series can’t.

krop tor

Krop Tor from the Impossible Planet is one of my favourite alien worlds in the show.

Capaldi has had two stories fully set on alien planets (Time Heist and The Witch’s Familiar) while Tennant and Smith has had plenty of interesting ones. The Doctor Who universe is so huge and vast, so quite why Earth is always visited baffles me. I won’t even mind a space station or a space ship, but Earth is really getting dull as a story location, especially London. If Earth stories are going to be the norm, then they should be set somewhere like Japan, Australia (the only story ever set there is the Enemy of the World) or Chandler’s Ford to shake things up a bit (OK, maybe not that last place). I understand location filming is expensive, but locations can be mocked up, and for the benefit of an interesting story I want a more diverse set of locations next year away from Earth.

Sydney opera house

I think I speak for all Australian Whovians when I say that a story set there would be awesome, and I’m not even Australian.

So those are my five wishes for Series 10. There are still three weeks to go of Series 9 so some of this may become outdated but I think now is a good time to say what I would like from the show next series.

Oh, and a theme tune change. I want awesome time travelling, not strangled cats. The variation from Before the Flood is what Capaldi’s Doctor needs every week-

Until then, it’s time to Face the Raven…

Comedy: The sequel

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?

Top 5 favourite Doctors

I know normally this is the time for the Doctor Who episode review, but I still need time to think the latest episode over. Still, I thought it was really, really, really, really good, but the reason why the review is not here is because I need time to analyse it. Yes, that’s right, analysis! It’s THAT good.

So, it gives me an opportunity to do a post I’ve always wanted to do. So, with 13 Doctors, which ones are my favourites? If you know me you should know my favourite, but there are other Doctors who are equally as awesome. Let’s start off with the adventurer…

The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant

“Allons-y!”

 

Yes, it’s everyone’s favourite Doctor kicking off the list. One of the many reasons I like the Tenth is that he can go through so much without saying a word. The image above is from The Family of Blood, and without words you can see that he is angry. But he’s also fun loving (especially in Series 2) and caring, willing to give even people like Davros and the Master a chance to redeem themselves.

Despite losing so many people, with Rose permanently trapped in a parallel dimension, Martha leaving to look after her family and Donna having her memory wiped, the Doctor still remained optimistic and adventurous, throwing himself into adventures always with a cheeky grin on his face and mumbling science mumbo-jumbo in rapid succession. My favourite stories from his era include Silence in The Library/Forest of the Dead, Human Nature/The Family of Blood, The Waters of Mars, School Reunion and The Fires of Pompeii.

And now, it’s time for the time travelling eccentric…

The Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker

“Would you like a jelly baby?”

would you like a jelly baby

 

Before Tennant, Baker was arguably the most iconic Doctor (Well, why else would he be the only Classic Doctor Who actor to appear in the 50th?). His obvious alien nature, his quirky dress sense and his ability to change emotions in the space of a sentence truly makes the Fourth Doctor one of my favourites. He’s just impossible to dislike, as he would bounce up and down like a child and save the day before the villains even knew what had happened. This Doctor was always an outsider, as even when he was on Gallifrey he would stand out.

He too was subject to moments of darkness, but his bursts of rage contrasts his bubbly outer persona so well it never seems out of place. He was equally delighted in being held at gunpoint as he was sitting in the Tardis playing chess with K9. I’m currently having a marathon through his era with my Dad, so I’ve seen nearly all of his stories, with my favourites being Genesis of the Daleks, The Seeds of Doom, The Deadly Assasin, Image of the Fendhal and City of Death.

And now, it’s time to move onto the James Bond of Doctors…

The Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee

“Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”

you sir are a nitwit

 

Stuck on Earth for the majority of his era, the Third Doctor was unlike any other incarnation, driving around in his car Bessie with a cloak billowing behind his back, ready to use Venusian Aikido on anyone standing in his way. Arguably the most violent incarnation (though the War Doctor might have topped that position), this Doctor was also armed with UNIT, a lab and a mouthful of sarcastic quips.

More like an Earth scientist than a Time Lord, his attitude is one of annoyance at being stuck on Earth, though as he gains re-control of the Tardis he loosens up and begins to accept Earth as a home. In fact, I like to believe the Doctor’s current love of Earth steams from his time working for UNIT. Oh, and the Third Doctor can’t be mentioned without mentioning the Master, whose rivalry with each other remains unmatched in Who history. My favourite Third Doctor stories include the Curse of Peladon, Planet of the Spiders, The Sea Devils, Terror of the Autons and The Green Death.

And now, make way for the mysterious manipulator of Time…

The Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy

“Unlimited rice pudding, etc, etc?”

 

 

I’ll admit, the Seventh Doctor is probably the first Doctor I remember seeing (Remembrance of the Daleks I think I saw). Even though my love for this Doctor stems from his final season, I understand that many people dislike the Seventh due to his first season. However, he is one of my favourites simply because he seems so Doctorly. He treats every mistake as a lesson, and rather than using violence uses words and cunning manipulation to trick people. When he walks into a room, he already has everything planned out, and uses his vulnerability to fool his opponents.

People describe this Doctor as the chess master Doctor, which is a perfect description. He plans all his moves and will convert any uncontrollable situation into one which he has total control over. He hated violence (a stark contrast to the Third) and will use any means to achieve his own gain, even manipulating his companion Ace to figure out the mystery behind her, in what was one of the biggest story arcs in the Classic Series. Because the series was cancelled during the Seventh’s era, he didn’t have as many stories as the others on this list, but my favourites are Remembrance of the Daleks, Battlefield, The Curse of Fenric, Ghost Light and Survival, the latter four all consisted of his final season.

And now, my favourite. It’s time for the madman in a box…

The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith

“Geronimo!”

hello i'm the doctor

 

My favourite Doctor is also the era which made me a mad Who fan. Sure, I had seen David Tennant, but it wasn’t until Matt Smith where I truly became MAD about Doctor Who. Without him, I would never had been interested in Classic Who as much as I am now. Everything about the Eleventh Doctor seems made to suit me; his off beat manner, his optimism, his humorous comments, his manner of moving and speaking all come together into a Doctor which is just perfect to me. His personality truly changed during his run.

He started off as a madman who would hide his brilliance underneath a playful image, but during Series 6 and with the loss of Amy and Rory, he became a man tired of playing around and aimed to become a defender of the universe however bad it was. He stopped being a child inside a man’s body and turned into an old man inside a young body, who had seen so much evil yet hid it. His era was truly brilliant, and many of my all time favourite stories are from his era, including Vincent and the Doctor, The Doctor’s Wife, The Impossible Astronaught/Day of the Moon, The Doctor trilogy and of course, The God Complex.

So, those are my five favourites. What are yours? Coming soon: KILL THE MOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

My Doctor Who Series 8 anticipation

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

Doctor-Who-Capaldi-feature-220x220

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

  • Episode 1

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

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

  • Episode 2

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

  • Episode 3

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

  • Episode 4

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

  • Episode 5

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

  • Episode 6

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

  • Episode 7

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

  • Episode 8

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

Embed from Getty Images
  • Episode 9

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

  • Episode 10

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

  • Episode 11/12

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

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

History: The TV Show

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

Series 1- Box set title- Lots of murder

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

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

Episode 3 – Matilda 3: Matildas United

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

Episode 4 – Thomas Becket

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

Episode 5 – Poor Old John

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

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