Doctor Who Experience

Outside DWE (4).JPGI visited the Doctor Who Experience (DWE) back in March because it had been announced it was closing and I wanted to visit it before it closed. I had been to the Exhibition in Blackpool back in 2004 but apart from that I had never been anywhere that had a collection of Doctor Who costumes and/or sets so I wanted to rectify that with a visit to Cardiff. It was a great few days there and the highlight was visiting the DWE. It’s in an ideal location as its not to far from where they film the show and also its within walking distance of the Ianto Shrine.

IMG_1073.JPGAs March turned into April and then May, there had been no word about when the DWE was going to close and that gave people (including myself) the impression and hope that the DWE would stay open and then the news came that it would close but that it was going to go out with a bang. I was due a week off from work in mid-July and I was originally going to go to Edinburgh but for boring reasons, I wasn’t able to go and so decided instead to go back to Cardiff and visit the DWE one last time. They had announced that there would be things from Series 10 in the experience and so this was enough for me to book the hotel and train tickets instantly.

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When I got there again I did so with a list of things that I wanted to achieve. See when I visited the DWE in March, I took all the pictures on my phone and this proved to be a mistake because the quality of the pictures was either ok or poor. Most of them were blurred which was my mistake but even the good ones weren’t the best. In between March and July, I had found my digital camera and knew I could take better pictures and that was the case. One of the things I wanted to get was a proper picture of Bessie. The March visit led to a blurred picture and I wanted to change that. Thankfully I was able to do that and I took some great pictures including a selfie with a Mondasian Cyberman, the Ice Warrior Empress, an Ice Warrior and the closest I will get to Peter Capaldi.

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The DWE is a fantastic place to visit and its a crime that it is closing. If you get the chance to visit it then I advise you do so. Each time that I have walked around there I have been impressed with what there is. Yes its mostly new series stuff but it still an awesome place to visit. When I was looking at the stuff from series 10, I spent a while looking at them thinking how cool it was that just several weeks ago I saw them on TV and now I am within touching distance of them. Obviously I didn’t touch them but being up close to them I was able to appreciate the attention to detail. Until you see them you can appreciate how big the vault doors were and the Fisher King was gigantic.

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I hope that the BBC decide that they will open a new exhibition somewhere. I know people would visit (I certainly would). It seems a shame that there will be new (and old) DW fans that don’t have anywhere to visit and see monsters from their favourite TV show up close. I have around 1,200 pictures of things at the DWE and I also recorded a video and I will always have these to remember the best place on earth.

Thankyou DWE, You will be missed.

 

Jodie Whittaker IS the Doctor!!!!

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It’s been just under a week since Jodie Whittaker was announced as the Doctor. The sky hasn’t fallen in an the idea of a woman being the lead in Doctor Who is just as good as it was a week ago. Sunday 16th July will go down in history where after 54 years, the show decided to cast a woman in the lead role and there seemed to be three different avenues of thought. First were the group of people who were really excited about Jodie’s casting and think that she will be brilliant, then there was the group that going to wait and see what she is like before making a decision and then there is the group of people who hate the idea and wont watch the show ever again.

I think the idea of changing the gender is a good one simply because it means that you can do something different with the character that has never been done in the previous 54 years. When Battlestar Galactica returned in 2003, they changed the gender of characters like Starbuck and one of the reasons I think for the change was it allowed the writers to have her have interactions she the character wouldn’t have had in the original run. If they go for a male companion it will be good to see how a woman lead and male sub-lead would work. It shouldn’t be what the series hangs its hat on but it is one of the things that will work in the shows favour.

I accept that people are prepared to wait and that is a reasonable decision. I think that unless there is a major problem with the scripts then Jodie Whittaker’s first series will work. I may be wrong but I have a good feeling about this. People who say they wont watch the show now its been cast as a woman is truly the stupidest thing in the world. If you wont watch a show because you don’t agree with the gender of casting then you are not a fan of the show and almost certainly have never been. No fan would act like this. Not liking her because you don’t think she’ll be a good Doctor is one thing but not watching her is just bizarre. I genuinely don’t get why people would have that response. Was Tom Baker a great Doctor because he was a man? No. Was Jon Pertwee a great Doctor because he was a man? No. Both were great Doctor’s because they were great actors.

Another argument for not casting a woman is that the show has been led by a man for 54 years. Ok lets have a look at this one, how many female led shows were there during the 1960’s to 1980’s? Not that many. I can think of Cagney and Lacey, Murder She Wrote and Juliet Bravo. Had there been more female led shows during this time then I guarantee that there wouldn’t be anywhere near the furore of this controversy. Also the groundwork had been laid in Doctor Who if some people had been watching. The Master had been male for nearly 45 years and yet the show didn’t collapse. The relationship between the Doctor and Missy was one of the best things that happened during Moffat’s tenure. If Missy turns back into a man then a female Doctor/male Master would be another thing to enjoy. Also in Hell Bent, the General changes gender and theres Romana and the Rani who are female Timelords so there really isn’t a valid reason why the Doctor couldn’t be a woman.

At the end of the day, it will most likely be a year before Whittaker’s first series airs and there is a chance that it may air on a Sunday or another day of the week which would help the show feel different. Just as long as its not against Coronation Street although their ratings aren’t quite what they use to be. Anyway I like the idea of a female Doctor and if you don’t then that doesn’t make you sexist or stupid but just different and when the episodes start to air,  if you say that you don’t like the Doctor then it should be ok to say so. But we are probably a year away from her first episode so we should take a bit of time to take a deep breathe and look forward to Peter Capaldi’s final episode.

The Ninth Doctor Chronicles

DWDC9D01_cover_1417SQI’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Ninth Doctor Chronicles. On the one hand, there was no Christopher Eccleston or Billie Piper so it was basically a Companion Chronicles but for the new series. Nicholas Briggs steps up to do the narration and voice both the Doctor and Rose. Briggs has previous form in this having voiced the Destiny of the Doctor story Night of the Whisper. Lets get this out of the way and it might be a controversial opinion but I didn’t mind Briggs’ impression. I thought on the whole it worked and when the Doctor was suppose to be nice and jokey it was good but when the story called for a more serious Doctor then that is when the impression didn’t work. I cant actually recall too much of Briggs’ Rose impression so it clearly didn’t bother me enough.

Bruno Langley reprises his role of Adam that appeared in two episodes back in 2005 and its fair to say that the Adam in 2005 was very annoying and didn’t really serve much of a purpose towards the show and the news that he was to feature in this boxset was met with a raised eyebrow but I thought that his appearance in The Other Side was entertaining. It’s amazing what 12 years does to a character and despite taking place between Dalek and The Long Game, there is a noticeable difference for the character. Camille Coduri is the other big name from the 2005 series that stars in this boxset and I found the character of Jackie Tyler to be borderline annoying but in this I found her to be really good. I thought that there was potential for the character of Jackie to be better than she was allowed to be on screen and Coduri is allowed to be that good and she more than keeps up with Nicholas Briggs. I liked the slight digs that the Doctor and Jackie had at each other and it did remind me a lot of the 2005 series.

As far as the stories are concerned. The first was Bleeding Heart by Cavan Scott was an ok adventure but I think I spent most of the story trying to get use to the style of this boxset. It worked as a story but I don’t think it was necersarily the best of the four. The next was The Window on the Moor by Una McCormack and I liked this story a lot. I think if this release had been just these two stories then I would be writing that this boxset was a good release but then the next two stories slightly overshadow the first two. The Other Side by Scott Handcock wasn’t just a very good story because of Bruno Langley but because the story makes good use of the character of Adam in the story. Adam is there and is used to be central to the story and Bruno Langley rises to the challenge. The fourth and final story is in my opinion the best. Retail Therapy written by James Goss, brings Jackie Tyler into the fold and in this story she has become quite a business success but its clear that there is something not quite right and it doesn’t take long for the Doctor to work out what it is.

I know hindsight is a wonderful thing but with hindsight, it might have been to the benefit of the opening two stories to have either Bruno Langley and/or Camille Coduri in these stories. The quality of the stories was very good and the directing was also very good by Helen Goldwyn. I think that if there is a volume two (and hopefully there will be), then all that would need to be changed is to having a familiar character working alongside Nicholas Briggs. Having said that I think that The Ninth Doctor Chronicles is one of the most surprising releases of the year.

Knock Knock, Oxygen & Extremis

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a review and since then we have had three more episodes. Firstly there was Knock Knock which I quite liked. David Suchet was really creepy as was the house that the story was set it. The actual plot of the episode was helped by the creepy house and the twist which came at the end was quite good and some may have rolled their eyes at this but it was perhaps the best way to wrap things up. The next episode Oxygen is one that most people rate quite highly but for some reason it never connected with me in the way that other episodes did. I may have to watch it again to see if I missed something but it wasn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination.

By this stage, I was thinking that the light hearted tone that the show had adapted seems to have gone a bit darker. That was confirmed with last nights episode Extremis. The Doctor is now blind and the Pope is in the TARDIS. That is something that I wouldn’t have expected to write or see. I thought that it was one of the best episodes that Steven Moffat has written for some time. I thought that Missy was well used in this episode and perhaps the most creative way since Michelle Gomez first appeared. This was another good episode and I think that its been one of the strongest series since Matt Smith’s debut series. It’s the series that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor deserves and the second half of the series looks like it is going to be just as good as the first.

Thin Ice

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WARNING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I thought that it was a refreshing change that this episode started pretty much from the previous episode. It harks back to the days of the early years with William Hartnell and the Peter Davison days.

I thought that this was another sound episode. It didn’t quite have the same effect on me that the previous two episodes had but that doesn’t mean the episode wasn’t fun to watch. What did stand out for me was the racial undertone that the story had. Taking someone with different skin colour back in time when the attitude to anyone non-white was poorly judged at best was something that had been dealt with when Martha was taken back to meet William Shakespeare in The Shakespeare’s Code back in 2007. For me the best moment of the episode was when the Doctor punched Lord Sutcliffe. Normally the idea of the Doctor punching someone would have been met with outcry but in this context it was perfectly satisfying.

There was a good amount of development between the relationship of the Doctor and Bill. Bill sees her first death and its a perfectly normal reaction. Her reaction to the Doctor’s reaction is also interesting and this is the first time that these two have had anything come close to a disagreement and the Doctor’s response is what you would expect. I thought that this was another solid performance from Peter Capaldi and the speech he gives about humanity is coming close to being one of my favourites.

Thin Ice was another good episode and the end of the episode gave a bit more about the vault. It reminded of the good old days when there was just enough to get everyone excited but not too much. I’m not convinced that its John Simm’s Master even though there was some knocking, I don’t think that its Susan or any timelord. What is behind those doors is either something that is going to be the best thing ever or extremely disappointing. I hope its the former cause it will just give the Moffat haters even more ammunition.

Smile

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WARNING! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!

Ok so we all took a moment to compose ourselves when it turned out The Pilot was better than we thought. We have all managed (I think!) to compose ourselves with the revelation that John Simm is returning as the Master, so now its time to plow on with the next episode. The last time Frank Cotterall-Boyce wrote for Doctor Who was 2014’s In the Forest of the Night which I quite liked and now he’s back with Emojibots. Yes, Emojibots. In 2063 when the show is celebrating its 100th anniversary, I wonder how many people watching TV in their eyes and flying around in their hoverjets will know or remember what Emoji’s are?

Anyway, like when a new companion joins the show we are treated to a trilogy of stories. There is the first story which is typically set in the modern era, the two episodes are a futuristic one and the other is a historical one. This time we have a futuristic and its one that features quite a lot in the trailers. The story sees the Doctor and Bill (minus Nardole who is sadly under-used in this episode) arrive on a world that is about to colonised by humans but the people who set things up are being killed by the Emojibots. That is the plot and its a lot more memorable than Pilot.

There are many things that I like about this episode and I think it should come as no surprise that I like this episode. Its a solid and more importantly, fun episode. First thing I like is that its another episode where Peter Capaldi is free to play the episode with a  bit more humour than he has in the past. The more I think about his performance in this episode and the previous one, the more annoyed I get that he couldn’t play this version of the Doctor in the previous two series. The relationship between the Doctor and Bill continues to be strong and continues to be a source of good in the show. Pearl Mackie continues to impress as Bill and her continuous questions aren’t bugging me which would have happened had it been Clara doing the asking.

Another thing I like are the Emojibots. I know I’m not sure whether Emoji’s will be fashionable in 2063 but here and now they work. The idea of robots getting the wrong end of the stick isn’t anything knew but the way that they are used and use Emoji’s is quite clever and as a villain (of sorts), they were far more effective than whatever it was in Pilot.

There are things that I don’t think worked quite as well as they could of done. Firstly the location for the colony was beautiful. It was filmed in Valencia and where they filmed looked stunning in every single shot. There’s no way that they could have filmed that in the UK cause it would just feature lots and lots of cement and look very glum. Whilst I loved looking at it, I did find myself slightly distracted by what I was seeing and found myself snapping back into what was going on. Also I thought the colonists that appear towards the end were a bit pointless really. I understood why they needed to be there in terms of plot, but they didn’t add anything to it and Ralf Little’s role could have been played by anyone.

Apart from those minor niggles, I thought Smile was another solid episode and actually better than Pilot. I liked how at the end of the episode, it moved straight into the next episode which is in keeping with the Hartnell era and also the Davison era. I hope this becomes a regular thing because its not something that tends to happen in new Who but two episodes in and I am still impressed with this series. Smile was well written, well directed and well performed but come back in April 2063 and we’ll see if we are talking normally or using Emoji’s.

Pilot

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MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!

Well, every Saturday (almost) I go to my friends house to watch movies and Doctor Who and I got asked on more than one occasion “What time is Doctor Who on?”. I have missed being asked that question. I had to watch the last 10 minutes of Pointless with ‘celebrities’ that I didn’t recognise. I couldn’t even bothered to Google who they were. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Doctor Who is back!

I have been looking forward to this for weeks. I haven’t been this excited for a new series for a long time. I don’t think that its because we didn’t get a series in 2016 but more because this is the first series not to feature Clara and I am warming to the dislike for here character. I also think that the buzz around who the new Doctor will be is added to the excitement.

I thought that the episode was ok. I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong but I would be lying if I could say it was the best opening story but to be it was more what it represented than the actual plot. The introduction of Bill was the most important aspect of this story in my mind because it needed to introduce Bill in the right way. Clara never really got that sort of time and so if you think about it, its been seven years since Amy got to drive the story. I thought that Bill was a good character who asked a lot of questions and normally that would annoy me but actually worked and it was the questions she asked that made it work. Her sexuality also got used in this story but I wondered how this was going to be dealt with at 7:20 on a Saturday evening. I thought it was dealt with in a good way and used quite creatively to get Bill into the story without making it seem contrived.

I thought that Peter Capaldi was really good in this episode. There seemed to be a freshness to his performance that we haven’t seen before. I don’t know if its the fact there was a gap between series or he knows he wont be doing this for much longer but there was a different vibe from him in this episode. Matt Lucas is a very good addition to the TARDIS crew and I suspect in years to come he wont get much of a mention because he is essentially the comedy relief but he isn’t wasted and works well with Capaldi. As a trio, I think that they work well together and there is a different more refreshing dynamic to the TARDIS crew.

The whole thing about the puddle and the water was perhaps the one aspect of this story that didn’t quite work. I kind of lost interest with all that as I was paying more attention to how the Doctor and Bill were working together. I think the idea of making a menace out of a puddle will make young kids scared of puddles. There scorch marks around the puddle did remind me of the scorch marks in Remembrance of the Daleks and the Daleks did make an appearance which was sort of suggested but this story saw the return of the Movellans who previously appeared in Destiny of the Daleks back in 1979. I liked the idea of them coming back and would have liked to have them feature a bit more in a story in the future.

The Pilot hits the refresh button for the show and does so in a good way. I thought it was well written by Moffat and well directed by Lawrence Gough making his debut in the series. The big reveal in the run up to the series was that John Simm would be returning as the Master as well as Michelle Gomez’s Missy. He appears in a blink and you’ll miss it shot at the end of the coming up bit. There is a nice sense of mystery about what is in the vault, I don’t know if this is the series arc but it was nice wondering just what could be behind the doors.

So Capaldi’s final series starts off very well. Not a classic but still something to enjoy just for what it manages to get right as opposed to what it got wrong. I don’t think those that hate Moffat will want to admit for a second that he wrote a good episode (i’m imagining a shrug of shoulders) but he did and next week’s episode is one that makes emoji’s seem evil.