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Under The Lake

under lake

I’ve not exactly been on the Toby Whithouse hype-train. He seems to get a lot of support as a possible show runner out there, and whilst I know he can do great things (Being Human), his Who work has rarely fully grabbed me. He’s not written ‘bad’ episodes, but also, out of the four he penned prior to ‘Under The Lake’, only one, ‘God Complex’, got me all ‘ooh!’ with little reservation. I mean, OF COURSE I loved all the Sarah Jane stuff in ‘School Reunion’, but outside of that, the episode didn’t do a whole lot.

So how did I take to this, the fifth episode by Whithouse? I really rather enjoyed it. I don’t think it topples (so far) ‘God Complex’, but it certainly did more for me than his other stories. And who knows? This is only half a story, perhaps when I’ve seen it all it will clamber up to top spot…

Part one is basically a classic Who base-under-siege set-up, and was much sparser than the opening two episodes. To sell spooky, you need that atmosphere, those drawn out moments. You need to have the space to build atmosphere, and this episode pared things down to give that necessary atmosphere room to build.

At the moment, having only seen the thing once, I do feel a little outside of the party. I’ve read and listened to lots of raves for this episode, and although I enjoyed it, I felt this was a solid 7/10 sort of an episode. It wasn’t distinctive enough to really step up any further. I mean, after you watched the last couple of episodes, there were so many moments, scenes, lines and ideas that you could gabble about after; with this episode, there was much less.

Now again, the need to build that spooky atmosphere meant you couldn’t throw too much at us, but it does mean that what you do give us has to be distinctive and strong. A lot of this felt like a retread of the familiar. Done very, very well, mind you, but adding little new or surprising to the mix.

By the looks of things, part two may well take the story into that more distinctive area I think it needs to pull the story up a few notches.

My slight reservations about this episode aside, there’s no doubt season nine has gotten off to a great start, probably the most enjoyable opening trio of episodes to a Moffat season since 5. This was another very solid, enjoyable, if not quite top-tier episode. Let’s hope the finale of this story finishes hard and brings that extra, distinctive flavour to make this one something special. If nothing else, this episode made me super-intrigued to see where things go next.

YAY!

Clara’s cards teaching the Doc how to speak to normal people. FUNNY. And did you spot the poignant nod to a certain Sarah Jane Smith…?

A genuinely creepy feel at times. I do love a bit of creepy in Who.

Loved the big close-ups on eyes as the alien words were reflected across. Also, great idea that the only people the ghosts could kill were those that had looked upon the words.

The ghosts whispering words you couldn’t hear: really cool, creepy stuff.

The ‘ghosts’ looked awesome. And a great use of CGI. Not building creatures from scratch, but accentuating a real person. Ghost Doctor under the water was a particularly effective moment.

Capaldi is again just so natural in the role. No moment feels false or forced. His giddiness upon deciding the ghosts are, actually, ghosts is wonderful.

The Sonic Sunglasses are back! And useful.

Great to have a deaf character, and for her to be important and in charge. And also for the show not to make a big deal out of it.

Who is in the suspended animation pod? Must be the Doctor, right..? Schrödinger’s Doctor.

Nice to see the Doctor was back to being a little bit brusk with normal people once surrounded by them again. I had slightly worried that we’d lose too much of that spikey twelfth Doctor, good to see that spike and awkwardness is still present.

One fresh feeling element was the Doctor’s decision at the end to go back in time to see how this all started. And so we will get a part 2 set mostly before part 1. That’s a really interesting and new feeling way to approach a two parter and I’m all for it.

Not Penny’s boat.

Pritchard’s death was very effective. Trapped in the airlock, water rushing in, and then we cut to a different room and he slowly turns around, a ghost. Brrr…!

Hmm…

Some of the wider casts performances were a little… sub par..? Several lines just not sold at all. Dropped from mouths to flap around listlessly on the ground like dying fish.

Another Doctor fangirl? Really? Don’t we already have Osgood? (Who, in fact, returns in a few episodes!) This felt a little much. How much better, in the context of a spooky story, if her knowledge of who he is doesn’t lead to big grins and fanish bleatings, and instead to yet a further realisation of how much trouble they’re in? If you know of the Doctor, then you know he helps, and is brilliant, but you also know that lots of death is a-coming.

When you have this ace plan and the ghosts are chasing your crew, maybe pay attention and close those doors a little bit quicker? A little hustle, people! In fact this whole trap should’ve been much more frantic and scary than it was. Instead, it was rather laboured and flat.

‘I want to kiss it to death..!’ Brilliant line in the trailer, kinda stood out as a bit weird and ‘huh?’ in the actual episode.

The answer to what they were whispering seemed a bit of a …. stretch?

****

So that’s a quarter of season nine whizzed by, then. I know! And it’s been a strong opening, for sure. Can the rest of the season carry on this run of form?

@doctorwhothing

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The Magician’s Apprentice

capclarared

HOLY CRAP.

What was that?! It was just SO MUCH. It was a bit like having The Pandorica Opens as the season opener. I’m not gonna lie, I really need to see it again to get any settled, strong opinions. Need to let it all simmer and settle. I NEED TO SEE PART TWO! Perhaps more so than most two-parters, I need the full picture.

Okay, so here are a few (slightly half-formed….) (okay, very half-formed) first thoughts after watching this crazy beast just the once.

My main takeaway is that it was like the dark, deep season 8, coupled with the wild colour of season 5. Yes, dark AND colourful. The double. Moffat is taking everything he’s done and squishing it into one. It’s a giant, bold way to open a season. It takes no prisoners and doesn’t gently hold the hand of any newcomers. (And is Who the ONLY show that reviewers obsessively worry about what new viewers will make of it?)( They’ll think ‘What the heck was that pile of crazy? I need to catch up.’ Give ’em SOME credit, guyz.) (Alright, alright, if it neglects new fans, it’ll die. I get it.)(But also, COME ON.)(Has this got annoying yet?)(Yes?)(Okay, I’ll stop.)

(Not yet)

(Now?)

(FINE.)

Was it all a bit TOO MUCH to open with? It certainly ran at you screaming and waving its arms, it was quite discombobulating in a way. It was also a new, fresh feeling way to open. Moffat does like to change things up. If RTD liked a series to have a familiar flow to it, Moffat is the opposite. Change is his familiar. It does make me wonder, if this is where we start, where the heck is this season going to take us next?! 

Moffat’s Who is a big tangled mess of time, of cause and effect. This story was another dive into that sort of story. This can annoy some, confuse others, but I love it. No good or bad deed goes unpunished. You can’t just hop around in time for centuries without kicking over a few stools that you’ll end up tripping over later.

In terms of Moffat season openers, I’d currently place this above Asylum of the Daleks, and then… hmm…. possibly above Deep Breath? Nothing will usurp the Eleventh Hour, and I think The Impossible Astronaut thrilled me more completely on first watch. Let’s see how I feel upon second viewing, and after part two completes the story.

Oh, and remember when the first episode of a season was ‘New Earth’? Different show, mate. Different show.

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YAY!

DAVROS DAVROS DAVROS DAVROS. I LOVE Davros, okay? It’s been WAY too long since his last visit, and Julian Bleach was, once again, awesome. Unfortunately, the return of Davros was spoiled for me. A few hours before broadcast, someone found a pic of Davros and Twelve from the episode and tweeted it. Yes, some people really are total dicks. So a lot of the WAAAA?! OOOOH! OH MA GAAAAAAAAAAAD! of it all was stolen from me. But still… DAVROS.

The ‘hand-mines’. I mean, what on Earth? But also ‘wow’! And creepy as all hell. The opening, with young Davros, was wonderfully atmospheric and fantastical. It was Who meets a Del Toro film.  Seems like Skaro had a taste for mixing weaponry and the organic even before Daleks were developed.

Speaking of which…. Skaro! That beautiful Dalek city. And we got some classic era Daleks, including that sexy swine, the Special Weapons Dalek.

“Unlimited rice pudding!” Oh, I did snigger when I heard that. Davros is obviously a fan of watching classic Who. Though only the stories featuring him, the big headed so-and-so.

CLIFFHANGERS! Are there many things more lovely than a Doctor Who cliffhanger? And how wonderful that this season is so two-part heavy, ‘cos it means we’re gunna get a butt-load of cliffs to hang from.

The look on the Doctor’s face when that wee boy tells him his name…. Did the Doctor play a part in making Davros who he is?

The old ‘You would make a good Dalek’ thread continues to develop, with the Doctor holding the pepperpots own weapon and preparing to ‘Exterminate’… or is he..? I have theories, people! (Basically, no, I don’t believe he’s about to frazzle Davros Jr.)

Capaldi, man. CAPALDI! Have we ever seen a Doctor take such a journey? Develop and change so much over the course of his run? This isn’t just the actor getting used to the role, this is purposeful development. We have moved into peak Twelve, he’s a Doctor fully bloomed. The difference between the short-haired, severe Doc in, say, Into the Dalek, and the one we have now. Talk about a journey. We get everything in here, the funny, the wildness, the dramatic chops, the sense of loss, terror, shame. Capaldi can do everything.

Playing Pretty Woman when he saw Clara. The charming devil.

The Master/Doctor relationship. He sent her his final confession! His best and oldest friend. (Missy. Master. Missy. Master. Can we just call her by her proper title, now? She’s THE MASTER)

Gomez was superb again. So bonkers, then cruel, then funny, then everything at once. “Davros is your arch-enemy now? I’ll scratch his eye out.”  “How’s your boyfriend? Still tremendously dead?” She really gets some terrific lines, and Gomez delivers them all with aplomb. And, being the Master, of course she can’t resist attempting a bit of the old double-cross when Daleks and the TARDIS turn up.

The return of the hug agenda.

Colony Sarff was suitably creepy, gross looking, and the effect when his face twisted and he turned into a big ‘ol pile of snakes… coooooooool. And yuck. I bet that had a few wee ones shivering when they went to bed that night. (And was I the only one who couldn’t help but think ‘MARA!’ as the main snake reared up. Yeah, I knew it wasn’t. Didn’t stop me squeeing.)

Loved the Universe-wide jaunt, searching for the Doctor. Seeing the wider universe of Who.

The Doctor was afforded two different and equally ace entrance scenes. One dark, one pure, unbridled joy. Again, can you imagine early Capaldi rocking that axe? How far he’s come. And can you imagine any other recent Doctor getting away with that entrance? It just feels like it would be toe curling with Tennant or Smith attempting it…! At first I thought they’d thrown the switch too far the other way, but then Clara only went and addressed it and it was made clear just why he was behaving so. Good stuff.

cap road

HMM…

There were a few edit and sound issues for me. Weird late cuts. Strange shot choices. Hard to hear lines. Stuff like that.

It was kinda a bit much to take in comfortably on first watch. I really feel like I need a second watch. I felt ATTACKED.

Didn’t it, you know, destroy more or less everything last time someone had the bright idea of blowing up the TARDIS?

Looked a bit parky in UNIT HQ. Health and safety in the workplace nightmare, that. Maybe consider an office relocation, before someone catches their death.

Kate Stewart. I mean. *shrugs*. Underplayed to a fault. I get it, she’s supposed to be normal, unimpressed, straight ahead, but come on, inject a little personality. A little *something*.

As I said, it reeeaaaalllly feels like an episode that I can’t fully contend with until I’ve seen the whole picture. So come at me, The Witches Familiar.

(I reckon I know haw Clara & Missy survive (Missy basically tells us earlier..!), and just what the Doc is about to do with that gun. I wonder if I’ll be right? I’ll let you know next time….)

***

Doctor Who is back, guys. DOCTOR WHO.

@doctorwhothing

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Bye Clara. Miss Ya.

jennaSo Clara, the formally ‘Impossible Girl’, is soon to be no more. Whether she will walk of her own free will, or meet a dastardly end, Jenna Coleman’s companion is to leave during season 9.

So here’s a few heat of the moment thoughts on that.

Yeah.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I LOVED Clara. Okay, I’m easy. I may be alone in fandom in that I don’t hate any main cast member with the fury of a white-hot Sun. Oh, I have my faves, but I don’t really dislike anyone. Adric may find it difficult to remember how to walk across a room believably at times, but I still don’t mind him.

I’m such an easy trollop.

Doctor-Who-stars-Jenna-Louise-Coleman-and-Matt-Smith

There have been some complaints here or there about Clara, especially about the consistency of her character. I see the same character start to end, but it’s certainly true that she was developed massively when Capaldi appeared. For example, that ‘control freak’ aspect was always there, just not directly pointed out until Capaldi did so. I mean, Clara dictated the terms of her travels with Eleven. She would not be travelling full-time, he would come and collect her on the day of her choosing each week. Nothing control freaky about that, right…?

You could even make a case for it in her first appearance, in Asylum of The Daleks. Even trapped and alone, she ‘s leading Eleven a merry dance. She’s IN CONTROL. He’s the one running after her.

cap 9

Was she hamstrung a little by being a mystery when she first appeared? Not for me. Some said they found it difficult to get to grips with someone who is THE BIG MYSTERY THAT MUST BE SOLVED. But it was only ever there for half a season, and then tidied away. Solved. Done. Plus, it was only really a mild focus in, what, a couple of the episodes? I don’t buy that the character was only defined by the mystery. I think the real problem is that the mystery was SO at the forefront of many peoples minds, that they focussed on that and overlooked the character. When it was all done with, they suddenly just had Clara and perhaps hadn’t taken her in fully as a person. For me, there was more to her than the mystery right from the start.

Jenna-Louise-Coleman-oswin-oswald-33847351-487-609

But enough of all that, let’s remember all the ACE STUFF. That attack on Twelve at the end of Kill The Moon. The restaurant convo with tramp Twelve in Deep Breath. How she talked the Doctor’s into doing the right thing in Day of The Doctor. ALL THE OUTFITS. The speech to Young Doctor Who in Listen. The phone call with an almost-gone Eleven at the end of Deep Breath. The surprise of her appearance in Asylum, falling for her, then realising she’s a blooming Dalek! Old Clara in Last Christmas. Hugging Twelve against his will. Jumping from Doctor to Doctor at the start of Name Of. And on, and on, and on. So many brilliant moments, stories and performances.

c tardis

Jenna is one of the finest actors to ever grace the main cast. TRUTH. And, the lucky so-and-so, she got to appear in two of the finest, all time top ten stories in the shows long history: Day of the Doctor and Listen. I for one am thankful for her time on the show, and can’t wait for another series of her and Capaldi, running through all of time and space.

And then… and then… as Who must always do… things will change…

@doctorwhothing

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Season 9

cap9

Hey Doctor Who nerds, guess what?

IT’S ALMOST HERE.

Oh my God…

Oh my God….

And so on.

Cap red hanSeason 9 of Doctor Who (yes, season nine, not 35, nerd!) is almost ready to sit on our chests and tweak our noses until we scream and cry for mummy. Which episode will be this years ‘Listen’? Or this years ‘Time Heist’….? I have a strange feeling that this run, with its multitude of two parters (and even a few lady types brought in from the cold to pen an episode or two) is going to be something quite special. That this will be the Capaldi era unleashed fully.

Just look at him there. How much does that picture scream I AM THE DOCTOR?

What are we going to get? Hm? By all accounts, the first episode is a mad, whirling beast.

Of course, one thing we know for sure (for probably sure) is that this will be Clara’s last run (oh ya-boo-shucks to you Clara haters)(I mean, up to you, obvs)(personal taste and all that)(and so on). She’s been AMAZING, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Moffat handles her exit. So to speak.

So yes. Yes, yes. It’s a-coming. BRAND NEW DOCTOR WHO. Ah, the sweetest four words known to man. Well, ‘free money and chocolate’ is also a pretty good. 

What are YOU looking forward to most, hm? Apart from Capaldi’s MASSIVE HAIR, obviously.

GO AWAY.

@doctorwhothing

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cap 9


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Listen: or ‘HOLY CRAP-ON-A-CRACKER, IT’S AMAZING-!’

Listen

Listen…

LISTEN

Good Lordy Lord. As I believe the kids would say, ‘I can’t even?!?!’

Ladies and gents, we have a new classic on our hands. For me, this is one of the finest episodes of modern Who. In fact, of all Who. After the credits rolled I actually had to stand and pace the room, my insides were juddering; this was something special. With this episode, Moffat once again confirms why, when he’s firing on all cylinders, he’s one of the very best writers Who has ever had. Perhaps even the best. Yeah, you heard me Holmes fans..! (Yes, yes, Holmes is bloody brilliantly amazing too, alright?! They’re both champs! Holding hands (perhaps kissing) atop Mount Who)  He can just make any surrounding episodes look resolutely ordinary.

‘Listen’ is all about fear; more specifically it’s about childhood fear, fear of the nothing, fear of the illogical, fear of the dark and what might be quietly waiting in there, looking back at us. Childhood fears can be irrational, imaginary, and grip like a vice. They can bubble up and affect us as adults, you never fully leave them behind, and in the Doctor’s case it seems it can actually shape who you are and how you choose to live. The Doctor became a man who rather than give in to fear, rather than spend his life crying in the dark, will make a point of leaping into shadowed corners waving a stick around, just to see what might come slithering out. He’s learned to refuse to let his fear debilitate him, for the Doctor fear is a superpower. In this episode he can’t quite accept that his fear is potentially irrational, that he may only be afraid of the imagined, and so tries to put a face (or tentacle) to his terror.

listen clara

Now this won’t be for everyone, because there’s no monster at the end to clearly identify, only the monsters of the mind (OR ARE THEY?! *WOOOOOOOO…!*). No CGI or rubber creature to pull into the light and dispatch, the monster exists in the Doctor’s imagination (OR DOES IT?! *WOOOOOO….you get the idea). ‘Listen’ is basically an exploration of the Doctor’s psyche, into just what makes him tick. What makes the Time Lord scared? What makes him jump into the dark to see what’s there? This is absorbing, brave stuff for Saturday night family entertainment. Despite the fact Who fans like to trumpet the elasticity of the shows format, when it actually does attempt to step outside of it’s usual boundries, a section of fans don’t like it (Hello ‘Love & Monsters’..!). Well TOUGH.

Many complain that there’s no clear resolution to the episode, was there a monster or wasn’t there? Perhaps there was. Perhaps there wasn’t. Perhaps there was one under that blanket, but not outside the door, or vice versa. But you’re missing the point. As I said, this is about childhood fears, the fear of the irrational, for that to keep its potency it must remain forever under the bed, forever in the closet, forever just out of view and shrouded from the absolute. Maybe it was all in the Doctor’s head. Maybe it wasn’t. But the FEAR was real, and will remain so.

OH! And the Doctor himself? He’s amazing, and brave, and wonderful…. and he was also a small boy, alone in his bed, crying because he was afraid of the dark. What a wonderful thing to show children watching this show, that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, even a man as marvelous as the Doctor once wept whilst curled up alone and frightened in bed.

‘Listen’; it’s creepy, thought provoking, moving, clever, funny: in short,  it’s the very best of Who, and I love it. 

listen dan

So what did you think of Listen? And did you fall for it as hard as I did?

@DoctorWhoThing

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WARNING: Season 9 Starts Filming!

cap filming

Well yippee and yay and woo-hoo and shizz of that over-enthusiastic nature, season 9 has started its no doubt lengthy filming period! This means that the journey towards actually watching the thing becomes ever shorter! Oh, and that in the next few days, pictures of a spoilery nature may well begin to hop around the internet.

Now how you react to spoilers, pictures or written, varies from person to person. Some love devouring every leaked fact (and assumed-fact) squirted onto the net, whilst others like to stay as un-spoiled as possible, hating even knowing the episode titles ahead of time (episode titles aren’t spoilers, come on, guys!). The problem with us all being on the internet is it’s almost impossible not to stumble across something about an upcoming season that you didn’t want to know. Click the wrong link, or even follow the wrong person on Twitter who loves to attach filming pics to their missives, and before you know it the whole season is COMPLETELY RUINED. Well. Possibly not, but it can still annoy!

So guyz, be careful out there, and be kind to your fellow fan. Pics like the one at the top of this article? Cool. But give people the option not to click on real spoilers.

Oh, and one more thing… DOCTOR WHO SEASON 9 HAS STARTED FILMING!!!! *flails-around-madly*

Matt Happy

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The Animated Adventures of Doctor Who

This rather awesome vid shows the opening credits to an animated version of Doctor Who! That, um, yeah… doesn’t actually exist. Knocked up by Stephen Byrne , it’s well worth a minute of your time. I mean what else are you going to do? Look at more pictures of cats?!

Watch it. Look. With your eyes. Revel in its cutesy glory!

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