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.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.