Wednesday 29 February 2012

Doctor Who at Television Heaven

Following my reviews of the classic Quatermass serials, Television Heaven is now host to three of my Doctor Who reviews. I've chosen a fairly random smattering of stories:

The Keys of Marinus because, although it's hardly the greatest story ever and there's a fair deal wrong with it, I think it's underrated and I still have a soft spot for it;

The Time Meddler because, although it looks quaint and slow now, it's a turning point for the entire series that still influences the way the show plays out today;

The Mind Robber because it's stranger than the majority of stories in the Troughton era, and the first episode is ace.

The full list of articles can be found here, and includes my three Quatermass articles, plus a review of An Unearthly Child by site runner Laurence Marcus, a review of the finale to Ashes to Ashes by Frank Collins, and a selection of articles on television as varied as Green Hornet and The Dick Emery Show. I'll be reviewing more classic Who, plus, hopefully, some other shows, for this site in the future.

Wednesday 22 February 2012


Time for another CAPTAIN'S BLOG! This time, we've stepped back in time a hundred years to the original Star Trek, and watched original pilot episode, The Cage, the second pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, and the first regular episode recorded, The Corbomite Maneuver. Pure command gold.

Friday 17 February 2012

What's what, and what's not, and whatnot

Ah... Rioja...

Who here watched Attention Scum! back in the early days of this century? Oh, just me then. Nonetheless, I feel moved to speak of my enjoyable evening in Hove, on perhaps the very point, nebulously defined, whereapon Brighton and Hove meet and intermingle, and the one becomes the other. Sorry, I went to see Simon Munnery last night, and his mode of speech does rub off on one after a while. It was a very enjoyable hour or so of peculiar stand-uppery at The Old Market Theatre, made all the more special by our meeting him briefly in the pub beforehand, and watching the second half of the Ajax-Man Utd match (although he did miss the last ten minutes or so, what with having a show to prepare). It was a fairly short gig, but I'd prefer something brief and hilarious to something that drags on for hours on end to diminishing returns. And, though there was a fair amount of old material, it was his finest old material, old favourites such as the legendary Sherlock Holmes monologue, along with such new treats as a punk rock musical depicting the fate of the airship R-101.

What else has occurred in my life of late? Very little blogworthy, I'm afraid, being for the most part too uninteresting to speak of, and happily, just occasionally, far too unseemly for polite conversation. I'm lagging behind appallingly in my writing, owing all sorts of pieces to a number of people, to whom I apologise. I ask you not to fret, I've a week off coming, and plan to cram in as much typing as I can, although my birthday celebrations will no doubt take up a good deal of my time.

Who geeks and Trek geeks alike pop in to see this blog's bloggings, and will no doubt be aware that IDW have announced a new crossover title. Well, it had to happen eventually. As far as I know, there has never been an official, licensed crossover between Doctor Who and Star Trek before, although fanfic and cheeky meta-references abound. Now that IDW hold the comic rights to both, it's hardly surprising that they've gone for it at last. They've gone a bit crossover happy altogether recently. I'm not entirely sure that the current TARDIS team and the crew of the USS Enterprise-D are best suited to each other. I'd have thought the Doctor would fit in better in the more colourful bridge of the original Enterprise, but the classic crew have already crossed over this year with the Legion of Super Heroes. What's more, both Doctor Who and Star Trek have referred to each other as fictional creations. Still, with holodecks and Lands of Fiction around, this needn't matter at all, assuming they don't simply ignore the problem completely. Has there ever been a Trek-Wars crossover done officially? Surely that's the next step, and what with Star Wars happening a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a short trip in a wormhole could easily bring the franchises together; and I'm sorry, but it has to be Kirk in that one. I love Jean-Luc, but I can't see him swinging a light sabre.

And what of my other favourite show, my latey-neglected Red Dwarf ? Series Ten is in the works, set to air on DAVE later this year. I'm trying to remain optimistic, but the last outing, Back to Earth, was very hit-and-miss, with too much miss and far too little hit. Hopefully getting the show back to an ongoing series and back in front of a live audience will revitalise it, but I'm not sure. It has, however, made me realise it's high time I got the original run on DVD (my dusty old videos have pretty much had it now). I still feel that the best future for Red Dwarf is on audio. Big Finish should get the rights, get a couple of new writers on board to shake things up. It doesn't matter how old the cast gets, and there'll be no wasting time and money on visual effects. Half hour episodes for the radio and download purchase, released in twos or threes on CD. Get it back to being a proper sitcom in space; focus on the Lister-Rimmer relationship. It could really work.

Wednesday 8 February 2012


Here at House Tessier we've decided to set up a semi-regular telly treat. My sister Becca and my good friend Louise, and anyone else who happens to be sucked in, are going to sit through Star Trek: The Next Generation. All of it. Eventually, anyway; Louise has Season One on DVD and we'll get hold of the rest as we go through the series. To go with this latest view-a-thon, I've decided to little mini-reviews of each episode (I should have done this for Buffy and Angel. Too late now). I know Trek can get bloody po-faced at times, but don't worry, I'm going to keep this light-hearted. Trek is best approached like that anyway; the three of us hardly stopped laughing at - sorry, with - these first few episodes.

I'm calling it CAPTAIN'S BLOG, and each piece will be broken up into little chunks addressing different aspects of the episode. I'll try to keep the entries reasonably consistent, but I'll fiddle with the structure throughout, probably. Enjoy this first entry, and I'll have the next one up whenever our next Trek session comes along.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Marvel Movie Trailers

Just wanted to put across how VERY EXCITED I am to see these trailers!

The Amazing Spider-Man:

                   The Avengers:

Monday 6 February 2012

REVIEW: Being Human - 'Eve of the War'

It's hard to write about this one. I'm still reeling from the sheer trauma. This was pretty unique as a first episode of a series, packed with more than enough incident and emotion than most series finales. Even last year's final episode didn't pack as much emotional wallop as this one.

From the outset, this episode was rather different to what has gone before. Whereas in previous episodes tended to start with a flashback, this started with a flash-forward, showing us a world twenty-five years hence ruled by vampires. It's an unexpected, sci-fi flavoured start to the series, and satisfyingly, the future scenes are returned to several times over the course of the episode. While Being Human has run with the threat of vampire domination since its beginnings, these sequences finally make it seem a real possibility. There's a sense that the series is building towards something huge in the future.

The main narrative is full of devastating shocks. To begin with, we learn, almost off-handedly, that Nina was murdered in the period between episodes. It's a shame not to have Sinead Keenan back for a farewell, but perhaps it's for the best, considering how upsetting the rest of the episode was. For this is George's goodbye, and he goes out with the maximum of heartache and pain. Russell Tovey is, as always, perfect, bringing tangible grief and anger to the role. He excels at portraying a harder, more damaged version of George, left a broken man who can't even bring himself to name his daughter for fear that he'll soon see her dead. It's heartbreaking to see such a well-loved character reduced to this state.

Lenora Crichlow is wonderful as Annie, as usual, her relentlessly chipper persona having fallen away completely. She desperately tries to save the one remaining friend in her 'life,' never giving up on him, which is all the more atonishing considering that this man killed her lover in the last episode. Of all the characters, Annie, the dead girl, is the one with the most life, and it is she who is clearly fated to be baby Eve's surrogate mother, a bizarre situation as this series ever presented. Michael Socha, meanwhile, makes a great impression as a new regular, developing Tom from a very intense guest character to a more rounded individual. Particularly surprising is just how funny he is, with Socha displaying a talent for subtle humour. He's also very different to George, so the replacement werewolf in the show will be far from a copy of the original.

If there's one thing that disappoints, it's the lack of Lee Ingleby's Old One character, the 1000-year-old vampire Wyndham. Despite making an impression in the closing moments of last series, and seemingly set up as a new big bad, he's another character to have been quietly dispatched during the between-series break. His replacement, Griffin, comes across as little more than a Herrick knock-off, and it's no shame to see him killed off. More fun are Dewi, the young Welsh vampire recruit, unable to shut up and an unlikely hero in the end, and Andrew Gower's sardonic bloodsucker Cutler. Gower has a dry witted charm, and a touch of a young David Thewlis about him. I'm looking forward to seeing Cutler again. As well as these monsters we have Mark Williams as perhaps the most unlikely vampire of all, the nerdy 'Vampire Recorder,' keeper of all vampiric lore, and easily the funniest thing in the episode. He's also a fascinating character, dedicated to Eve's survival, in spite, of indeed because of, her destiny to wipe out the vampire people.

While the war between vampire and werewolf hots up, babies are kidnapped and social workers' throats are ripped out in Barry, down in Brighton a different haunted household is coming to terms with death. It's an unexpected take on the show's premise; a seperate trio of vampire, werewolf and ghost cohabiting, unknown to our heroes. While so many of the main characters have been killed, this group shows the flipside, with elderly werewolf Leo soon to die, while vampire Hal and ghost Pearl remain ageless. It's hard to make a judgment of Damien Maloney, replacing Mitchell as resident vampire Hal. While we'll see a lot more of him next week, it seems, so far the posh, reserved vampire seems different enough to Mitchell to contrast well. What's interesting is this idea of the triumvirate, three different supernatural beings living together, prophecised by the same scroll that speaks of the War Child. It's as if the programme is driving at there being some kind of natural order to these things, as if there must always be this triumvirate somewhere. It'll be very interesting to see where this goes.

In the end, though, what this episode will be remembered for is the harrowing death of George. Utterly heartbreaking, while at the same time truly horrific, George's final moments will stay with me forever. Half-transformed by an act of sheer will, staggering into a room full of vampires, tearign them aaprt to save his child, the deformed wolfman managed to be the most emotionally affecting thing I've seen on television in some time. I wept. Hell, by the end of it, I was an absolute wreck. The first episode of the fourth series of Being Human was triumphantly an end to an era, a riveting horror tale and an emotional ordeal. I can't imagine how the rest of the series will live up to it, but I'm looking forward to finding out.