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

266

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.

The Ianto Shrine

This past week I went to Cardiff as I had never been there and wanted to go somewhere new. I also thought that as the Doctor Who experience was closing down soon, it was the perfect time to go and see what Cardiff had to offer. I’ll go onto the Doctor Who Experience another time but this time I will talk about the Ianto Jones Shrine. It was something that I had heard about before and thought that whilst I visiting Cardiff and the DUntitled-1octor Who Experience, I would visit the shrine which even appears on Google Earth.

Only in the Doctor Who Universe would fans set up and shrine to a deceased character. I had booked a room at the nearby Travelodge and walked down past that the Millennium Centre and the Welsh Assembly, round the corner and there it is. The Ianto Shrine which I imagine has seen better days but even faded pictures and rain soaked letters doesn’t detract from what an impressive sight it is. I say it again, only in the Universe of Doctor Who would a deceased character have a shrine dedicated to them. 20170321_090340There are a couple of things that I liked whilst browsing the different tributes on there. First is the amount there. I didn’t count them but there must be hundreds on there and that’s not including the ones hidden and the ones that have fallen off over the years. Secondly is a simple little plaque that was placed besides the shrine which explains what this shrine is and why its there.

20170321_123738

It must be quite strange to anyone who hasn’t seen Doctor Who or Torchwood why this is significant and again only in the Doctor Who Universe could this happen. It put a smile on my face when I read it and thought that it was a nice touch to what was a shrine that has seen better days.  I think if you are a fan of Torchwood or a fan of Doctor Who in general then you should definitely visit this. You could easily spend several minutes looking at all the little notes and gifts that have been placed there.

Some of them are quite nice things added to it and it doesn’t take long to see just how much people loved Ianto even if until fairly recently I didn’t understand. Ianto Shrine (15)Ianto Shrine (11)

And then there are some which seem a bit……odd.

Ianto Shrine (14)

I know it might seem a bit odd but the thought was there and I suppose there could have been worse things to find.

20170322_101327Where the plaque is placed is the door which is the exterior door to lead into the Hub. There was a small part of me that was curious exactly what was behind it. I obviously knew that it wasn’t going to lead to the Hub and the Ianto wasn’t going to behind a desk making coffee but it was a bit of a disappointment that this is what I saw. Below the picture was loads of rubbish that had been washed up but at least I know now instead of spending the rest of my life wondering.

I think if I ever visit Cardiff again then I will definitely visit the shrine to see if it is a) still there and b) if anything new has been added to it.

 

 

The Problem with Class

class-tv-series-on-bbc3-series-premiere-preview-season-one-cancelled-or-renewed-590x332
As I write this in March 2017, there is no official word as to the second series of Class. There have been rumblings that the show has been cancelled and to be honest I cant say that I would be surprised.

Back in October 2015, the BBC announced that there was big news on social media which many (including myself) assumed that must have meant a lost episode had been found but we were let down when it was announced a new spin off series would launch. I was miffed like most people but after a few weeks thought that I would it might be ok but then the first sign that it might not be a total success came when it was announced that it would debut on BBC Three. Back in 2006, Torchwood launched on the channel and eventually moved to BBC One. However in February 2016, the channel ceased as a traditional TV channel and became online only so basically you would only be able to view it via the BBC iPlayer. I think I remember someone saying that it was a bit of a test to see whether launching dramas on the iplayer would draw people to the service. Ratings were never going to be sky high but ratings were between 20,000 and 60,000.

Like most stuff on the new BBC Three, it made its way to the main channels and despite this being tagged as Young Adult, the episodes were stuffed in the late-night timeslot in double bill instalments. This was another sign that things were going badly wrong with the series. Ratings would be ok for the first episode but come the second, the ratings would slide. Take for example the first two. For Tonight We Might Die got just over 1 million viewers. The second episode The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo got around half a million. As each week progressed, the ratings for the first episode got lower.

So why hasn’t the show connected with fans like Torchwood or Sarah Jane Adventures? There isn’t one single reason but I’ll try and give my theories as to why this is the poorest spin-off.

The first reason might be because we were getting a show that nobody wanted. Imagine that you’re a Manchester United fan and your use to getting regular matches, and then they decide they are taking a break for a year so the manager can do something else and in its place your going to get some amateur players who are going to be playing at Old Trafford instead. It’s football but not the sort you want. Well that’s what Doctor Who fans experienced when it was announced that Class was coming. I think that there was a lot of bad feeling aimed at the show which wasn’t really the fault of the show, that anger/frustration should really have been aimed at the BBC. Maybe the next time that the BBC want to make a big song and dance about a new spin-off they might want to warn fans beforehand that its not a lost episode or don’t announce it when we know we aren’t getting any new Who for a long time.

Another theory isn’t that there was no real link between Doctor Who and Class. Yes the Doctor appeared in the first episode and it had Coal Hill but that was it. At least with Torchwood there was Captain Jack and you had his presence to keep you going until you got to know the other characters. In Class, the Doctor appears and then says bye and we are left with these new characters and that was a mistake. There was also the principal that appeared in a few episodes of Doctor Who but he gets killed off. Also it wasn’t Coal Hill School. If your gonna called it Coal Hill Academy then it needs be the same Coal Hill that appeared in Doctor Who. It might as well have been called something else for the good it did.

Another problem was for me with the characters. They just didn’t gel. Even after six episodes it seemed like they were just random people who had not connection with each other. Lets start with Greg Austin who played Charlie Smith. I actually thought his character was quite good and at least there was something to the character. I think that largely stemmed from Charlie’s story with Quill but out of all the student characters, his was the best by a clear mile. Fady Elsayed who played Ram Singh was on a hiding to nothing. His character was just annoying because he was someone who didn’t fit in with the rest of the group but not in a good way. If he hadn’t been in the show then I don’t think the show would have suffered. Lets be honest, had he not lost his leg then there would be very little of note to say about the character. Next was Sophie Hopkins who played April MacLean who started out quite well but then just became a rather unbelievable hero. Vivian Oparah deserved better as Tanya Adeola. I thought that there was potential and there were moments of potential dotted throughout the series but largely wasted by the structure of the show. Then there was Katherine Kelly who was the best thing in the show. As Miss Quill, she had a nice sense of disdain for those around her and her attitude was perhaps the only lively thing in the entire series.

As I said they just didn’t gel. I know that it takes time but when Torchwood launched it seemed like the team connected and whilst they were all different and were a bit frosty with each other, they at least seemed like they were a team whereas the gang at Class just seemed like they had been cajoled into a room and told to get into a situation together. If there is a series two then the first thing that needs to be resolved is how to get them to at least seem like to the viewer they were on the same page.

I’m not going to talk about the quality of the scripts because they were ok and I thought that the opening episode was good and The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo was a very good episode. Nightvisiting was also another well written episode and at this point when I was watching, I thought that the show might work out but then the rest of the series carried on and it lost some of its punch and come the end of the series it never had the epic finale that I thought it should have done.

Class has some serious problems but then the first series of Torchwood wasn’t perfect by any means. It had different problems but it was a mixed bag that improved in series two. If there is a series two of Class then they need to sort out the characters and the way they interact with one another. If they manage to solve that then there is hope for the show because any new writers (or the ones used in the first series) would know the characters and the show and when you know what your writing then the quality improves.

I know that there are many who would be happy for Class to never return. I’m not one of them. I cant say that I was a huge fan of the series but I would be prepared to give it a second go and I don’t think I am the only one who thinks like that. Class is possibly going to go down in the history of Doctor Who as the spin-off that only ran for one series. Torchwood managed four, Sarah Jane Adventures did five and even K9 and Company has a sort of naff charm to it. I don’t think in 30 years, Class will have the same guilty pleasure vibe to it. I could be wrong but  I don’t think so.

Blog #7 – Captain Scarlett, Doom Coalition & The Eternal Battle

BLOG07IMG.png

Well another week has gone and the news was released this past Monday where Big Finish announced that they would be releasing Captain Scarlett material to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Captain Scarlett. This comes out in September and there is a load of stuff. I think at this moment in time I am torn as to whether I want to buy it. I think that it there would be some good stuff but its not a Big Finish production from what I can tell but stuff produced back in the 60’s. If it turns out they are producing new stuff then I might be interested but there is six months to go so there is plenty of time for stuff to be announced.

This week has been a bit light on the listening front but the fourth and final volume of Doom Coalition which from what I can gather on Twitter is going down rather well. I think that this range has been much better than Dark Eyes. I think that’s because it was stated from the beginning (somewhere) that it would be four volumes whereas with Dark Eyes it felt like it was never clear how long it would go on for. Also I think that the story arc is not as complicated as the one in Dark Eyes. I almost don’t want to start listening to this final boxset because I don’t want it to end. The only question that remains is what is next for Paul McGann’s Doctor?

As well as Captain Scarlett, there was some big news this week. Concerning the Main Range, it has been spotted that Hex is making a comeback in June’s Shadow Planet/World Planet. What isn’t clear is whether this is a one off appearance or his return after the character was written out in September 2014’s Signs and Wonders. I thought that the character of Hex was a good one and I thought it was a shame that he got dropped from the range. Another piece of news announced this week is that the Daleks are returning to the Companion Chronicles. They will appear in Volume 2 which comes out in June, the story is called The Plague of Dreams and its only the second time that they have appeared in the range having previously appeared in the second ever story in the range 10 years ago.

The only BF new release I listened to this week was The Eternal Battle which is the second story of The Fourth Doctor Adventures’ sixth series. I thought it was another cracking story and I am really happy with how good this series has progressed considering that the start of the previous series wasn’t as good. It’s been announced that the third series of Torchwood will start on Tuesday and I am really happy with that news because I am off to Cardiff a week on Monday (20th) and will be staying just a stones throw away from Cardiff Bay and it will be fun to listen to Visiting Hours and Torchwood One whilst walking around where the show was filmed. Also I will be visiting the Doctor Who Experience so my next blog but one will be mainly about that. I am looking forward to that but there is a full week before I get on that train to Cardiff.

So that’s it for this blog. Thankyou for taking the time to read and all that is left is to hope that you all have a very good week and enjoy listening to Big Finish.

The Blog #06 – John Hurt, Cicero, Doom Coalition 4 & The Eighth Doctor Adventures

BLOG06IMG.png

It’s been a while since I posted my last blog, so I thought that I would make up for it by cramming four Doctor Who/Big Finish topics into one blog post.

I have got the final two volumes of the War Doctor on my Big Finish app and to be honest I am a little bit reluctant in listening to it. As silly as it sounds I don’t want to listen to them because when I finish the final story then I know that there are no more John Hurt/War Doctor stories and that is something that is quite sad. I know that we are lucky that we got 12 stories with him in and The Invisible Man to enjoy but knowing that there is no more isn’t the greatest feeling.

Moving onto happier topics, I recently bought Cicero after listening to the Big Finish podcast and they were talking about it being a pilot and I thought that I would give it a go. Well to be fair it was only £5 and I’ve wasted more money on things that weren’t any good and BF’s track record is pretty good so I was confident that I would get a good story and within 10 minutes I was so glad I did. It has the same sort of vibe as most detective/criminal dramas where they try and find out who did the murder. I loved it and hope that it will lead to more in the future.

As I write this there is about 48 hours until the final part of Doom Coalition is released. I have enjoyed Doom Coalition and thought that it has been more satisfying than Dark Eyes. I know a lot of people have complained that there wasn’t as much of Eleven as they would have liked but I thought that enough was going on to make it a fun range and I think its a shame that its coming to an end but by the looks of the promotional posters, its going to end on a high and that’s the best you can ask for.

I have been spending the last week working my way through the Eighth Doctor Adventures. I have been slowly working my way through the first series and got to Max Warp and stopped, on my day off from work, I got through the rest of the second series in one day and decided that I was going to try and get through the rest of the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller stories. Out of the three series that I have listened to I thought the first series was the best but the third series had the best finale. I thought that despite my loathing of spiders, the stories themselves worked rather well. I am approaching the fourth series (after Death in Blackpool) knowing that there are some epic stories coming and the end of Lucie Bleedin Miller.

Well that’s all for now. I will mostly be spending the week listening to the Eighth Doctor Adventures and reminding myself of what happened in Doom Coalition before listening to Volume 4.

Bye for now