Tag Archives: Doctor Who

“Doctor Who – The Bells of Saint John” review


“I’ve never seen a Jammie Dodger so scrumptiously perfect”

It usually takes me a couple of viewings to make my mind up about the episode which heralds the return of “Doctor Who” and I suspect that “The Bells of Saint John” is no exception.

For some reason – wanting to ease the wider audience back into the rhythms of the show, to introduce new characters, to just have fun with the premise – it always seems to me as if the opening salvo of each series is a little lighter and somehow less substantial than the episodes which come to follow.  Not that this is bad or ill-advised, per se, but I never quite feel that the Tardis is fully firing on all cylinders until episode two or three (Technically, of course, this is episode seven of series seven, so my misgivings shouldn’t apply).

The story dealt with a very contemporary fear – the extent to which technology enters our everyday lives and encroaches on our freedom via our inability to deal with it, which is a notion that I’m sure strikes a rueful note for any brave soul ever charged with the dire responsibility of providing technical support for computer-averse friends and family.  The villain of the piece this time utilised dear old endlessly useful wireless internet signals and used them to…do nefarious stuff.

I’ll not go deeply into spoilers, but the methodology of the Big Bad in this episode didn’t quite ring true for me on this first viewing – it smacked a bit of that notion ‘because…science?‘, which probably plays quite well with folks who view their modem and router as terrifying technology daemons which inhabit their living rooms and blink malevolently at them several times a second for no good reason.

The villain was, it may come as no surprise at all to you, hardly a match for The Doctor but the bad guy’s machinations did give Matt Smith‘s big kid in funky Edwardian clobber a chance to meet cute again with Clara – a charmingly sparky and energetic Jenna Louise Coleman – who we last saw in the Christmas special, having just died for the second time.

Clearly, her nature and repeated appearances in vastly different times and galactic locales will constitute an ongoing mystery and its to current “Who” show-runner and gigantic brainy overlord Steven Moffat‘s credit that you do want to know what her deal is and how she’ll come to affect the Doctor’s in the rest of the season.  I’ve read one theory to the effect that Clara constitutes a kind of Moorcockian ‘Eternal Companion’ and it would be interesting to know just what Moffat would do with that idea, were it to be an accurate assessment of just how the expiry-prone Clara fits into his master plan.

"Computers - how do they work?"

“Let me update my status…”

The story rattled along nicely, sure enough, but it didn’t seem to add up to much on first viewing – save for a last-minute appearance by a malevolent character we saw quite recently, albeit in somewhat different form than the last time that we encountered them (vague enough for you?), this was essentially stand-alone, monster-of-the-week stuff.   I suppose it’s daft to feel that the Doctor is ever really going to be truly challenged by the menaces he encounters, but this was somewhat a case of the Doctor waving his Sonic about, loudly asserting his intellectual dominion and then saving the day because he’s The Doctor and that’s his gig.  No real sense of the day not being saved – and so not much dramatic tension as a result.  First episode syndrome, and no mistake.

I don’t do ratings – meaningless things, be they numeric or arbitrary and letter-based – but if I did, I’d probably say this was a solid B-plus, perhaps an A-minus.    Extra marks for Clara rushing into the fray still carrying her cup of tea.  A nation salutes you, fine miss.

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Timey Wimey Bikey Likey?


Doctor Who” returns on Saturday March 30th on BBC 1 with new adventure, “The Bells of St John”.  And boasts totally legit, motorcycle-surfing-down-the-side-of-a-skyscraper shenanigans to hopefully distract us all, momentarily, from Clara, The Question and other matters which monopolise the thought processes of Whovians large and small alike.

Just a few weeks to go, fellow fans of awesome Tardis-based nerdery…


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“Who” 50th Anniversary Special – 3D timey-wimey frenzy!


“A 50″ LED TV costs HOW much?!”


The Doctor is celebrating his fiftieth anniversary this very year and the isn’t being shy and retiring about giving the Galloping Gallifreyan his due.

"It also plays 'Words With Friends'..."

“It also plays ‘Words With Friends’…”

Cue an monster-stuffed, action-packed anniversary special blow-out of an episode which is now to be broadcast – to those with suitable televisions from the space year 3000 – in 3D.  So, yay?

Word reaches us via The Guardian – as yet unconfirmed officially by those cards-close-to-the-chest BBC folks – that this special will also be shown in cinemas, though there’s no word yet as to the extent of the release, or whether this is a 2D-to-3D conversion or your actual, native 3D experience.  The prospect of cinematic “Who” goodness is quite enticing, though, isn’t it?

Your obligatory, contractually-stipulated Jenna-Louise pic.

Your obligatory, contractually stipulated Jenna-Louise pic.

Matt Smith‘s be-quiffed visage looming large and in three dimensions?  Souffle Girl winking at you from the stalls?  Classic “Who” Monsters running amok?

I have a love-hate relationship with 3D – on one end, the Cameron/Paul W.S. Anderson/”How To Train Your Dragon” end of the scale, on the other, goofy conversions which bring nothing to the party.  But – this?  This is something that I want to be good, and that I would love to see on the biggest screen possible.  Make it happen, cash-strapped, politically on the ropes, brilliant BBC!


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“Doctor Who” – Snowy Spoilers?

If you want to witness the new Tardis interior for yourself, without resorting to vaguely spoilerific images released by the BBC, you definitely shouldn’t click on this link to the SFX story on said topic.

There’s only five days to go, after all, and we’re largely patient adults more than capable of not spoiling our seasonal surprises, are we not?

Oh, Jingle Bells to it!

“The Doctor and Clara/Sitting in a tree…”

Have a look at the Doctor (Matt Smith) and new companion/Dalek hybrid/pan-dimensional woman of mystery Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman) giving it major lip-lockage in the name of audience-baiting, out-of-continuity shenanigans for a turkey-stuffed festive audience.

See you on Christmas Day, Doctor, terrifying snowmen and all…


12/19/2012 · 5:34 pm

Snowmen? Snow worries!

A raggedy man and his avowedly not-a-Dalek companion take to the skies…

There’s no need to worry – Doctor Who will be back to save your Christmas Day schedule from sub-standard seasonal TV:  would it even be the festive season without another jaunt with Gallifrey‘s last son?

As you can see, the BBC have been busy with pitching this year’s episode as a movie-style romp, replete with artwork which positively screams Drew Struzan at you, which is no bad thing.

The official site has more lovely images like the one above, and a high-quality look at those absolutely unpleasant snowmen from the “Children in Need” teaser trailer, which brilliantly represent the kind of jump behind the sofa, nightmare fuel fodder that distinguishes “Doctor Who” from all the family pitched fantasy dramas that have come and gone over the years.

Go on and click the teaser trailer again– ’tis the season to be reduced to a quivering pool of jelly merely by homicidal meteorological phenomena…


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A Cyberman walks into a bar…

The Black-Coated Lord of Dreams vs Clanking No Marks. Score!

Whilst we wait with breath that’s positively baited for the Festivus episode of “Doctor Who“, which will feature new companion Jenna Louise Coleman and perhaps answer some unresolved questions, news reaches this blog of Neil Gaiman-based wonderment in the soon-come season 7B – as in, the Hugo-scoffing Brit Goth Lord has enlisted Cybermen in the weaving of his latest ep.

The cast for the ep – announced by the BBC here on the official “Who” site – also includes SF stalwart Warwick Davis, soap escapee Tamzin Outhwaite and Jason Watkins (previously seen in “Being Human”, apparently) and is set in space again, as Gaiman’s previous, genius episode “The Doctor’s Wife” was to quite fine effect.

Behold the wonder in Spring 2013, I’m guessing.



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“Asylum of the Daleks” – Spoiler-laced review of explodey-wodey awesome

Definitely scary, huge in scale, a surprise around every corner – “Asylum of the Daleks” is a brilliant “Who” adventure.

I don’t know how to begin to review “Asylum of the Daleks”, the first episode of season seven of Doctor Who”.  The ‘Too Long/Didn’t Read’ version is ‘awesome ep/big reveals/cool story bro’.

If you divulge too many of the events which transpired in the story, you run the risk of really spoiling some fairly major surprises for the very fans who will most affected by learning them ahead of time.  If you don’t say enough about the episode, you may as well just skim the BBC press release and talk in generalities, which satisfies nobody.  A quandary, then, and one which I intend to tackle by stating for the record – herein be BIG HONKING SPOILERS.  Approach at your peril.

Spoiler-averse U.S. Whovians look away…now!

So, remember how we were going to meet the Doctor’s new companion, apparently named Clara, in the Christmas special?  There was this whole intricate plan about how she was going to be introduced?

Aren’t you showing up a bit early, Jenna? I mean, it’s only September…

Yeah, so that didn’t happen – Moffat pulled one of the bigger surprises of recent years by introducing actress Jenna Louise Coleman in this opening episode and somehow, in the era of constant internet spoilers and social media leak campaigns, managed to keep that humdinger of a storytelling gambit completely under wraps.

Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I were genuinely surprised by the reveal, but it was but one surprise in an episode full of “Wait now – what?!” moments.  We had been told ahead of time by Moffat to expect a seventh series which was the stuff of blockbuster cinema, with a larger canvas and more self-contained storytelling which didn’t rely as heavily on the ongoing continuity which has been a staple of the Moffat era of “Who”.  

I think what we got was a mix of old and new – continuity was there, but not to such an extent that it would have put off a viewer who was only casually familiar with the show.  Spectacle was there but didn’t swamp the story and characters and the scale of the episode was compellingly different – this really isn’t the studio-bound “Who” of yore, where budgetary and technical constraints conspired to hobble what could be achieved by the show and gave it an unfair reputation of being a kiddie, kitschy kids’s show and certainly not one to be taken seriously by adults.

I’m not sure how much I should spoil of the story – Skaro! – but I found it really compelling and oddly reminiscent of some of the John Carpenter directed 1980’s genre movies which I grew up watching, with the likes of “Escape from New York“, “The Thing”, and even the tense horror of “Halloween” woven into the fabric of the episode.

Mysterious Dalek asylum, crashed spacecraft, weird signals, strange survivors – fun for all the family…

This was a ‘men on a mission’-type tale, with the Doctor, Amy and Rory tasked with teleporting onto a Dalek asylum/prison planet and switching off a force-field guarding the world, so that the Galaxy’s most genocidal pepper-pot warrior race could destroy the facility which housed the most deranged of their kind.   And woven into that framework, we saw that Amy & Rory’s relationship had suffered  a little fall-out in the wake of the events on Demon’s Run last season.  As in, the Doctor’s favourite young marrieds being separated and signing divorce papers.

It was this latter aspect of plot which was the most gripping element of “Asylum of the Daleks” – more so than the sci-fi adventure A-plot or the introduction of Jenna Louise Coleman.  Seeing Rory and Amy sniping at one another in the manner of all torn-asunder couples was really distressing and high point of the episode  – more so than the locations, big effects sequences and high concept sequences, the scene where Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill confronted each other over the fall-out from their relationship was utterly riveting TV and a nice riposte to those who might dismiss “Who” as that nerdy thing that kiddies and families watch on a Saturday night.

Obviously, that family friendly promise is something which “Doctor Who” should have – there’s no sense at all in turning this much-beloved fantasy drama into “Boardwalk Empire” just to please chin-stroking TV critics and self-appointed taste makers, but the way that Moffat can sprinkle moments of simple, real world drama amidst the explosions, Dalek attacks and grotesque thriller tropes elsewhere in the story is quite something.  Focussing on the married companion’s relationship for a few minutes doesn’t draw attention away from the main plot – it, in fact, integrates beautifully into the whole and makes the experience that bit richer than it might otherwise be.

The final reveal – of who Jenna Louise Coleman’s character is and what that means for the series as it continues – was brilliantly done, wrong-footing me entirely and leaving with it a raft of as-yet unanswered questions which hopefully the keen Moffat mind will resolve in a timely and satisfying fashion.  What we’re left with now is the knowledge that Coleman is a sparky, delightful counterpoint to Smith, carrying herself in a manner which is so confident, quick-witted and full of minor-key eccentricity that she somehow manages t0 make the Eleventh Doctor look like a buttoned-down, low-key wallflower.

Whether she continues to play that kind of character, or a derivation thereof, is a question which will be answered when we know a little more about who Clara is – because Clara isn’t the protagonist of the episode we saw yesterday, if I read things correctly (and after a good few hours interrogating forums, Twitter and blogs on Saturday evening, I’d like to think that I’ve derived the appropriate conclusion).  Of course, as Mrs Rolling Eyeballs has pointed out to me, perspective and residual self-image are devious things at the best of times and how Jenna Louise Coleman’s character saw herself is quite different to how she was eventually revealed to us when the Doctor eventually met her/it.

Confusing?  Count on it – it’s a Moffat story.

Watching this first episode – and the trailer for next week’s gloriously titled “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” – I was reminded of how confidently and expertly the current architect of “Who” has steered the series after Russell T. Davies‘ undervalued tenure on the show.  Not everybody loves what he’s doing – and the Internet community frequently isn’t happy unless it can find something to whine about in over-entitled fashion – but I find his stories never less than exciting, his use of incidental detail and throwaway asides a delight and his wit without peer.

“Asylum of the Daleks” was fantastic telly, brilliantly performed, expertly staged and great entertainment from beginning to end.


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“Doctor Who” goes to the movies…

In a bid to remind us that there’s a new series of “Doctor Who” imminent – oh really, I hadn’t noticed – dear old Beeb’s publicity ninja monkeys have posted a series of movie-style posters for this first run of episodes.

This one, for episode five – “The Angels Take Manhattan – is my favourite…


Nifty, huh?  No impending dread or sense that Everything Will Be Going Wrong Quite Soon there, then…

Den of Geek has the full collection here.

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“Doctor Who” season 7 premiere pics mess with your head.


"Roads, Pond?  Where we're going, we don't need...roads"

Photo of Matt Smith & Karen Gillan via The Mary Sue, taken by Jill Pantozzi

Yes, your nerd senses are tingling – with joy and/or delicious, delicious confusion.

BBC America stoked the nervous anticipation of global Whovians for the imminent first part of Season Seven Doctor Who by holding a splashy premiere of episode one in New York at the weekend and had Mr Smith, Ms Gillan and related peeps emerge from…DeLoreans, in tribute to both “Back to the Future” and awesome nerdery alike.

If you reside in the UK or US, you can see “Asylum of the Daleks this weekend or via the (whisper it quietly) torrent of your choice if you’re elsewhere on this blue and green marble that I call home and can’t be bothered to wait for it to show up in your neck of the multiverse.

More pictures are available at the always fantastic and thought-provoking The Mary Sue.



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“Asylum of the Daleks” airdate – sooner than you think…


I know what I’ll be doing on September 1st 2012 at 7:20pm…

Now that I’ve been Freshly Pressed – Thanks, nice WordPress editors – I get a hint of what it’s like to write for a blog like Kotaku or The Mary Sue.   People are reading me!   Quick – look busy!

In that spirit, I’m delighted by news from dear old Auntie Beeb today, which has confirmed that “Doctor Who” will be back on September 1st for viewers in the UK and US, with the first tranche of episodes finishing on September 29th.   The season picks up again in Spring 2013 – after the Christmas special, which introduces new companion Clara, played by Jenna Louise Coleman.


So, new “Who” quite soon, then not so much for a while, with seasonal “Who” filling the void until we’ve seen off the Winter and it’s time to start geeking out again in the spring.  I can get with that schedule and eagerly await what else will be shown next year to mark the good Gallifreyan’s special anniversary…



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