Re-introduction

I updated my “about” page, and thought this would be a fitting re-introduction to the site :p

So why, you might be asking, have I decided to blog about British science fiction of all things?  Most people blog about pets, children, work and other mundane things; this is what I used to do way back when I had a Livejournal account.  I would jump on and let the rage fly about whatever thing made me angry that day.  After writing this way for so long, a person realizes that such a blog seems not only bitter, but rather much like an Andy Rooney tribute site.  I decided to change to something a bit more specialized as it would not only entice readers to come back and see what’s new, but help me find like-minded friends.  I ultimately chose to blog about British science fiction.

I was born in the eighties, and enjoyed spending my young years watching Doctor Who with my mother on our local PBS station.  Right away I noticed that it was different than what I was used to (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers) and that made it really special.  In fact, my love of the local PBS station at the time meant I was blessed with many UK television shows repackaged as educational programming including Erasmus Microman and many others.  From this early age I grew to love this kind of TV, and now it is one of my favorite hobbies.

I got back into UK sci-fi in 2004 in the time leading up to the re-launch of Doctor Who.  Since then I have tried to watch as much classic and modern UK sci-fi TV shows that I can, and would like to share my views on it.  Whether it be reviews, opinion, funny stuff…whatever, I’ll try to post it.  It may seems as if I concentrate on Doctor Who quite a bit on here, but that’s merely because it is both my favorite program and the sheer quantity of material out there for it.  When possible I will post about other stuff.

Enjoy the site, and don’t forget to send me some comments!

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This is Why I hate Automated Call Programs

I’m Posting every day in 2011!

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a day / once a week for all of 2011.  I’m actually posting this a few days into my goal, but aside from January 1st, I’ve hit the goal!

Rather than use the blog topics submitted by the fine folks over at Word Press, I will continue this blog as normal as posts about puppies and my favorite ice cream have absolutely nothing to do with British Science Fiction 😛

Here’s to hoping that I don’t stop in three months…LOL!

-Steve

Review: Timeslip – The Wrong End of Time

“What is a Time Bubble? You can’t see it, of course, but it might help you visualise it to think of a balloon… Supposing some little patch of information – some little patch of history – gets slowed down, and instead of flashing backwards and forwards it floats, gently, as if in a bubble… Supposing you could get into that bubble – that bubble of history – and travel with it. Then you could move forwards and backwards in time at will…”

–one of the many introductions before the episodes

I was randomly poking through Netflix not too long ago and stumbled across a DVD recommendation labeled under “British Television”.  This was before I was doing this blog so there wasn’t much motivation to rush it into my home, but I was intrigued.  When I was younger I used to watch a lot of PBS and they would play all sorts of British children’s science fiction, most of which was far superior to anything that was marketed to children over here.  I went ahead and rented the first disk of a show I had never heard of – Time Slip.  The show, from 1970-1, was about a group of children who travel to various points in time.  Rather than echoing Doctor Who’s overlying theme of adventure and exploration as many similar show do, Time Slip (at least from the first serial) seems to be more about how folks misuse technology.

The first serial, containing six episodes, revolves around our two main characters a boy named Simon Randall and a girl named Liz Skinner.  Simon is traveling with family friends to keep his mind of off his mother’s recent death.  While hanging out near the site of an old naval base Simon and his friend Liz discover a time portal that we just saw suck up a mute girl named Sarah.  When on the other side, the pair discovers that it is suddenly night time and that they seem to be in a Nazi over-run base.  They end up running into a man named Frank and Sarah both held captive by the Nazis.  Here is the shocker Frank is her father thirty years ago!

The first six episodes of Time Slip are fairly entertaining if not a bit on the slow side.  You can tell that the show was on a very low budget as there are a magnitude of scenes where long expanses of dialog are tossed out with little or no action to be seen.  I can imagine that this most likely is one of the reasons that the show is a cult classic; I honestly don’t think a ton of children would be able to handle a show that is paced this way.  Then again, I was born some ten years after this originally aired, so one never knows.  I do know that the show ran somewhat over-budget and was seen as a flop despite running to its full duration, something unheard of nowadays.  Doing some online research, I found that Time Slip still has a legion of devoted fans and even runs the occasional convention.

I really enjoyed Time Slip – The Wrong End of Time and plan on watching the remaining three serials.  It’s a shame that the color prints of these are mostly lost as I would have loved to see this as originally aired.

My rating 3 out of 5

The show itself is available to rent on Netflix or is available for purchase at such places as Amazon.com

Review – Doctor Who: Winter for the Adept

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Summary: “When a teleportation accident goes badly wrong, Nyssa finds herself stranded on the freezing slopes of the Swiss Alps in 1963. But is it mere coincidence that she finds shelter in a snowbound school haunted by a malevolent poltergeist?  When the Doctor arrives, Nyssa and the other inhabitants of the school soon discover that the ghost is merely part of a darker, deeper and more deadly game involving rogue psi talents and something else… Something not of this Earth.”

When we last left the Doctor (as played by Peter Davison) and Nyssa, they were leaving frigid Alaska bound for some place hopefully warmer.  Not only does that not happen, but they end up in a house with a religious zealot that believes that cold air is the path to salvation and warmth is a sin.  Nyssa gets stranded in this place long before the Doctor arrives, and is taken in by a group of Swiss School girls living on the mountainside.  This story contains a few weird motifs that are out of the ordinary for Doctor Who, but serve well in this story….for the most part.  The first of which is that the story itself is bookended by a narration from one of the Swiss school girls.  The cheesy overly flowery diary entry harkens back to such writers as Jane Austen, but only in a superficial way.  The girl basically says very little with as many adjectives as possible to make it sound classy.  This sloppy writing should have been the first red flag for what I was getting into.

From: Doctor Who Magazine

Winter for the Adept is one of those audio dramas that I really wanted to like, but sadly did not whatsoever.  The story begins as a ghost story intertwined in a Stanley Kubrick’s Shining-esque wrapper, but completely falls apart 3/4ths of the way in and becomes a Michael Bay film.  It’s like Andrew Cartmel (the writer) was so set on adding aliens into the mix that he forgot he was writing a ghost story.

The choppy writing doesn’t end there, as there is a lot of dialogue talking about “Spillagers” at the beginning, a term that is never explained until towards the end of the play.  When it is revealed what a “Spillager” is, I was rolling my eyes due to how convenient it was within the plot.  The Doctor constantly talks about “spillages” and his “spillage detector” in such a way that it leads you to believe that he is talking about some sort of energy release or some such.  Not the alien that magically happens to be there in the Alps at the very same time.  I also found myself having a lot of trouble imagining what was going on especially in episode four.  There are many instances where random yelling, noises, and explosions can be heard with little explanation as to what is actually going on.  Sadly this play is a frightful miss for me.

 

My rating 1 out of 5

Review – Doctor Who: The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis: In a desolate Cornish landscape littered with relics of prehistoric man, the doctor and Evelyn uncover a catalogue of mysteries.  What is the secret of the fogou? Can the moor be haunted by a demonic host of imps? And what is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart doing in Pengriffen?  Teaming up with his old friend, the Doctor realises that an ancient conflict is nearing its conclusion – and Lanyon Moor is set to be teh final battleground.

One thing that I always love in science fiction is when the writer takes a prominent supernatural occurrence (e.g. ghosts, elves etc…) and explains it away as either completely commonplace or something more.  For instance the way that Gods in Stargate are actually powerful aliens that prayed on human faith.  This particular Doctor Who audio play does this exact thing with the mythical creature – the imp.  The story consists of the Doctor and his newest companion Dr. Evelyn Smythe investigating old Celtic ruins alongside an archaeological team and even the Brigadier!  This play is in fact the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in any Big Finish Audio release.

An Image from Doctor Who magazine

It was always sad to me that the sixth incarnation of the Doctor as played by Colin Baker was never allowed a proper adventure in which he interacts with the Brigadier.  Almost all other Doctors ended up with such an episode, but the closest thing we ended up with was the dreadful charity “special” Dimensions in Time in which I need to dissect one of these days.

This episode has its ups and downs but was generally very entertaining to me, and sits as one of the better episodes of Big Finish Audio out there.  The duo of Colin Baker’s Doctor and Eveleyn Smythe as played by Maggie Stables is a great pairing, and I really hope they do a few more stories together.  Having the brigadier in this episode really helps iron home that this is, in fact, a Doctor Who story.  It really seems the most like an old episode of the TV show that I’ve listened to.

My rating: 4 out of 5

Tyrant at Home

Ever wonder what the home life of a crazed megalomaniac space dictator is like?  The guys from the skit show Big Train answered this very question in a very humorous manner.

Big Train is available on Netflix here in the U.S. so if you like this skit be sure to check it out.  The show helped kick-start the careers of such actors as Simon Pegg and Catherine Tate.

Review – Doctor Who: Red Dawn

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis:

Ares One: NASA’s first manned mission to the dead planet Mars. But is Mars as dead as it seems?
While the NASA team investigate an ‘anomaly’ on the planet’s surface, the Doctor and Peri find themselves inside a strange alien building. What is its purpose? And what is frozen inside the blocks of ice that guard the doorways? If the Doctor has a sense of deja-vu, it’s because he’s about to meet some old adversaries, as well as some new ones…

We open Red Dawn with a countdown timer and launch of man’s first foray to the red planet in a ship called the Argosy.  From the very get-go this seems a doomed mission as a ton of stuff begins to go wrong right out of the gate.  At the exact same moment, The Doctor and Peri travel to a large building that seems to have doors and other controls that are run empathically.  Once they run into the now landed Argosy crew, they find out that they are on Mars just as the Ice warriors show up.  The villain of the piece is a man named Paul, who is so stupidly one-dimensional that he might as well be a textbook example of bad ethical practices.  The man literally tries to incite a inter-galactic war for the sole reason to make money on weapons trading and other like things.

The play has a few missteps that made this drama hard to finish for me.  While I have complimented Nicola Bryant as Peri in the handful of audio adventures I have heard with her, this audio play is seemingly back to the “old school”.  I found Peri (of no fault to Bryant, but the script) to be about as annoying as she was in the earlier parts of her run on the classic show.  All she did was run around and hound one of the Ice Warriors about his promise not to kill the Doctor and yell at folks about ethics.  Peri was not the only blight on this drama as it seemed as if everyone involved was completely incompetent in all situations.  The Doctor kept talking about the Ice Warrior honor code, but never takes advantage of it, as he has with other races such as the Sontarans.

This is quite easily the most boring of these audio dramas so far, and it was slightly less entertaining than The Sirens of Time.  Not all stories can be top shelf I guess.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5

Here is a “trailer” of sorts:

Review – Doctor Who: The Genocide Machine

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

 

Synopsis: “The library on Kar-Charrat is one of the wonders of the Universe. It is also hidden from all but a few select species. The Doctor and Ace discover that the librarians have found a new way of storing data – a wetworks facility – but the machine has attracted unwanted attention, and the Doctor soon finds himself pitted against his oldest and deadliest enemies – the Daleks!”

 

Ah yes, the first Dalek-related audio drama Big Finish has produced.  Being a huge fan of the little squid-like hooligans, I was excited to see – errr – hear what the audio format had for these guys.  This begins a story-arc of sorts that Big Finish has labeled Dalek Empire; it will contain four separate stories with different Doctors held together by the common theme.  This segment follows The Doctor and Ace as they are humorously brought to a planet called Kar-Charrat in order to return a library book, lifted from a library where such things are frowned upon.  At the same time we cut to another group led by a person that is almost like a “semi-companion” in Bev Tarrant.  Bev is a female Han Solo of sorts, and plans to steal a large ziggurat in order to make it rich.  Too bad the Ziggurat is full of evil squid monsters surrounded by armor – the Daleks.

After the last McCoy and Aldred play, I was worried that the overly dark nature would spill into all of their plays.  Thankfully that isn’t the case, as this play seems more in-line with the show than one of the books.  That is the great thing about Big Finish, if you don’t like a certain play, the next one will be completely different, and may strike your fancy.  I enjoyed the plotline and dialog; yet felt that it was bit too preachy in some regards, especially when you find out the atrocity the librarians on Kar-Charrat have committed.  Without giving away the plot completely, let’s just say that the overtly hippie-like nature of Avatar is pretty close to the mood the audio sets.

The audio only really fails on the insanely contrived plan that the Daleks have hatched.  While they are known to have ridiculous over-thought plans in the past, this one is pretty over the top.  They basically plan to use the libraries knowledge to create a super Dalek with the power of the Universe, so they plant cryogenic sleeper cells on every planet of this one particular system that also contains the aforementioned “secret” library.  I say “secret” because everyone seems to know of it.  Plot aside, this was a fun audio adventure, and a blessing of what to come for Sylvester McCoy stories.

 

My rating: 3 out of 5

 

Here is a trailer I found on Youtube:

 

An Open Letter to Joss Whedon fans:

It may be no mystery that I am not a fan of the science fiction show Firefly, in fact I can’t stand the show to be quite honest.  When I am talking with my sci-fi buddies, there is usually someone that doesn’t understand the idea that people have different tastes and tries to sway me to their side.  Not only is this annoying as hell, but it makes me not like the show even more.  Some of these guys even go so far to call themselves “brown shirts” or “brown coats” which unbeknownst to them is the same name that Nazi storm troopers were referred to as.  The name fits, as some of these folks are “Nazis” in the sense of the modern vernacular which attributes anyone being over-zealous and generally “douche-baggy” as a “Nazi” e.g, Grammar Nazi.

So why don’t I like this show, and why do I get angry whenever people get pissy because I don’t like it?  I think a lot of it stems from Joss Whedon’s messiah-like status in some fan circles, as if he can do no wrong, and everything he touches turns to gold.  This is of course despite the fact that he wrote large portions of dialog for the first movie X-men including this gem:

Storm as played by Halle Berry: “Do you know what happens to a toad when it gets struck by lightning? … The same thing that happens to everything else.”

UGH!

He also wrote the script for Alien Resurrection and blamed everyone else for the movie sucking, saying that it was miscast and such.  Don’t let me seem like a total ass for ripping on Whedon as I liked the original Buffy movie and the first 3-4 seasons of the show.  He may come across as an arrogant self-centered type of guy, but he is a pretty decent writer for dialog.

So the problem must lie in his fans, not just the “brown coats”, but all Whedon-media fans.  To me Whedon-ites are to science fiction fans what The Hitler Youth are to youth organizations.  Instead of watching and talking about their favorite show with other like minded fans, they see the need to try and indoctrinate everyone else into it.  If anyone resists The Lord Whedon, they immediately have to turn in their nerd license.

This very thing happened to me at work when I was helping a customer find a Battlestar Galactica DVD.  We started talking Sci-fi and he mentioned Firefly, to which I responded that I wasn’t really into the show.  The man then, obviously annoyed, asked “well….why NOT!?”  This was as if I somehow offended his religion or something.  I explained that I had not seen the whole show, but I was not a fan of the four episodes I did see, and did not plan on watching anymore.  The man then went into full-on siege-mode and started throwing out reason after reason as to why the show was underrated and why I should like it…etc.  I basically had to say “have a good one” and walk away.  It’s like rather than enjoying his show, he let the fact that it was cancelled become a bitter fist-shaped aura in his mind, waiting to punch anyone who says the show isn’t a masterpiece of human achievement.

Let this be a lesson to you guys, badgering folks and trying to essentially force people to think the way you think about a show is stupid and puts folks off of it.  If anything you guys have made me not want to read / see / hear about anything else that Joss Whedon ever produces.  Surely I can’t be the only one out there with this mindset.  It’s fun to like your own stuff, but calm down just a tad.

Review – Doctor Who: The Marian Conspiracy

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis: Tracking a nexus point in time, the Doctor meets Dr Evelyn Smythe, a history lecturer whose own history seems to be rapidly vanishing.  The Doctor must travel back to Tudor times to stabilize the nexus and save Evelyn’s life. But there he meets the Queen of England and must use all his skills of diplomacy to avoid ending up on the headman’s block…

It’s no secret that the exploits of the sixth Doctor in the form of the original TV series were met with mixed reviews.  Many felt that the show was on its last legs at the time, and a few higher ups over at the BBC seemed keen on axing the show forever.  When I got into watching a lot of the classic stories, I really liked how Colin Baker played the Doctor despite his costume and the somewhat rough scripts he was sometimes handed.  As I’ve stated before these Big Finish audio dramas are where Colin seems to be at his best as the Doctor.  I would even say that his episodes are usually among my favorite.

This episode at hand, The Marion Conspiracy, is one of the better ones of this line up to this point, as it contains a few things that really set it apart: the introduction of a NEW companion, a historical timeframe, and time travel consequences.  The plot follows The Doctor and a history teacher named Evelyn Smythe as they try to figure out why Evelyn is seemingly being written out of time.  This dynamic is usually one of my favorites as I love when The Doctor takes in a companion that is a bit older and has wide-eyed enthusiasm AND wisdom; I think that’s why I liked Wilf so much in the last few David Tennant seasons.

The story follows The Doctor and Evelyn as they travel back to Tudor times to figure out exactly what Evelyn is disappearing from existence.  There are a few misunderstandings where they both assume that they are in Elizabethan England when in fact they are at the court of Queen Mary.  They both get embroiled in a plot to kill Mary and ultimately try to stop it.  All in all, this was a very good audio drama, and is one of the better ones that I’ve listened to so far.  The acting, plot, and pure historical awesomeness, all click in such a way to make me the most happy.

click here to listen to a trailer

My rating 4 out of 5

 

Review – Doctor Who: Fearmonger

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis: One would-be assassin is in a mental ward. Another’s on the run. Their intended victim is stirring up the mobs. Terrorists are planning a strike of their own. A talk-radio host is loving every minute of it. A Whitehall insider whispers about a mysterious UN operative, with a hidden agenda. Everyone’s got someone they want to be afraid of. It’ll only take a little push for the situation to erupt – and something is doing the pushing. But you can trust the Doctor to put things right. Can’t you?

One of the things that I have yet to actually get around to doing is reading any of the Doctor Who: Virgin New Adventure books produced in the early-mid nineties.  I do know that conceptually I do not agree with the general tone of the books based on what I’ve seen, and some of the fandom that came from them.  As a first “true” introduction to the format, these plays based on the Virgin New Adventure books, are equally as problematic to me.

The actual audio drama that I am looking at reviewing here is called the Fearmonger and stars Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred reprising their roles from the latter era of the original series.  Immediately we find The Doctor and Ace hot on the heels of some kind of monster that may or may not inhabit the body of a crazed right wing political group leader.  At least this is what a man who regularly calls into a Fox News styled pundit show seems to think, and says that he plans another assassination attempt on her, as a previous one (that the play opened on) went south.  We find the Doctor commandeer the radio show and egg on the “crazy” man, basically saying “yeah! There is a monster” which riles everyone up.  This leaves Ace and the Doctor to investigate the situation themselves in order to get some answers.

The right wing political party in question, The New Britannia party, is a pretty rough group of characters who base their entire political stance on racism.  They basically want to throw out anyone who isn’t white and sherilyn Harper, their leader, doesn’t help with her rhetoric.  Against them is a terrorist group trying to end the hate ironically with assassinations and bombings.  Immediately you may notice that the back-bone of this story is very dark, and that is honestly a big problem with it for me.  While things like nationalism, jingoism, racism, immigration and politics have always featured in Doctor Who media, the show was at least clever enough to try to keep it toned down.

With this new tone, the storytelling loses its fun and clownish charm, instead going for preachy social commentary.  This was a trend in the 1980’s McCoy episodes as they ham-fisted things like racism into episodes that did not need it in the plot.  Remembrance of the Daleks comes to mind with a few scenes of black segregation in the 1960’s that served no purpose other than to make the watcher feel bad, and cluttered up the over-all narrative.  This bleak and preachy take on the Doctor is not my favorite to be honest.

I guess it may be my problem as a listener, that I need to differentiate the show and these audios more in order to really enjoy them, but as a fan of the classic show rather than a series of books, the themes in here clash with my preconceived notions of what the characters should be doing.  Aside from my gripes, the acting and production on this play are VERY well done, and to be honest it is the best produced play from Big Finish so far.  I know my opinions on the McCoy era may not be the most popular, but I will try to look at the other Virgin New Adventure stories with a more open mind.  We’ll see how that goes.

My Rating 3.25 out of 5

 

Review – Doctor Who: The Land of the Dead

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

For me, the first three of these Big Finish Audio dramas were sort of like a warm-up for what the range could really bring; and The Land of the Dead is the first of these that really stands up along-side the TV series.  As I’ve stated before, not being a big fan of the Peter Davison era worried me about these plays, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that his audio plays are usually my favorites.  Sarah Sutton returns to reprise her role as Nyssa, a companion I actually really liked during this time.

The story follows The Doctor and Nyssa as they pop up in frigid Alaska in the dead of winter.  They stumble upon an encampment where a crazed billionaire named Shaun Brett is trying to build a shrine for his dead father from parts of the surrounding landscape.  This themed museum of sorts includes a rather ghoulish room consisting of old bones that freak out the hired Inuit laborers.  They believe that such a room will bring the vengeance of nature upon them; and this superstition isn’t helped when monsters begin to attack.

The acting in this play is very strong in almost every way from the principle cast to the background characters.  I was really worries that the voices for the various Inuit people would be off, as many UK based actors would not have a lot of knowledge on their language and culture.  Aside from a few minor UK-isms, I think they did a fairly good job, and kept the whole thing believable.

The play does a great job of helping the listener imagine exactly what the villains look like, which is a step up from the last few were it was sort of hard to imagine what the Big finish crew were really going for.  All in all a very enjoyable tale!

My Rating 4 out of 5

 

The Lost Craig Ferguson Doctor Who Tribute Surfaces!

A few weeks ago Matt Smith appeared on a small, and yet fairly popular late night talk show hosted by Craig Ferguson.  Being a huge fan of the show, Craig choreographed a Doctor Who dance Number that was filmed, but sadly un-aired due to rights issues from the song.  The video has been finally “leaked”!

 

Oops!

I’ve neglected this blog for far too long due to work and other reasons.  I think I will start trying to do a post on here once a week starting now.  During the summer I attempted to update this like 5 times a week for whatever reason and burnt myself out on it, as I also have a paid gig on Vgchartz.com.  Since I have maybe 1 person that ever reads this, it doesn’t matter much….lol

Game Review: Doctor Who – Blood of the Cybermen

https://i0.wp.com/www.vgchartz.com/games/pics/doctor-who-the-adventure-games-episode-2_60536.jpg

Here is another review I wrote:

HERE

Game Review: Doctor Who – City of the Daleks

Here is a review I did for VGchartz on the game!

Click Here

TV Review: Doctor Who – Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone

Note: I try to keep these as spoiler free as possible to avoid ruining the episodes for folks.

River Song returns for all the fun.

Many people rank Steven Moffat’s Blink as one of the best standalone episodes of Doctor Who.  This is quite a bold statement considering the episode actually contains very little interaction with the Doctor and his companion at the time Martha Jones.  The main draw for many fans was the chilling introduction of a new race of villains called the Weeping Angels, so called because of their resemblance to the creepy cemetery statues of the same name.  Of all of the villains introduced in new Doctor Who, the Weeping Angels are pretty close to the only ones I would consider classic in a strict sense, as most of the others are definitely better for one-time appearances.  This two-parter also features the Weeping Angels, and as such has large shoes to fill.

These episodes also mark the second appearance of a character that many assume is the Doctor’s future wife – River Song.  In fact this episode is foreshadowed in Moffat’s last televised episodes Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead as River Song asks if they have “survived the crash of the Byzantium yet?”  In typical Moffat Style, The Doctor and River have once again met “out of order” of each other, and River is as sassy as ever if not a bit more.  A bit of light is shone on their relationship that almost leads me to believe that simply understanding the character as “the Doctor’s future wife” is far too easy, and is probably a red herring to their true relationship.

A group of military clerics is there to assist including the awesome Father Octavian pictured here.

The story follows the Doctor and Amy as they take a bit of a break from all the adventuring by visiting a museum.  Pretty soon the Doctor discovers an odd artifact amongst all of the other typical museum findings – a flight recorder box with ancient Galiifreyan text written on it.  This prompts the Doctor to do what anyone would do, steal the item from the museum.  The black box, as it turns out, is a set of directions for the Doctor to Find River Song as she is pursued on a large ship called the Byzantium.  The ship crashes and a very sensitive bit of “cargo” is let loose in a cave full of catacombs.

What follows is a two-parter, that I would say is one of the best, scariest episodes since the shows return in 2005.  As with many Moffat episodes, it was very well done.  The Angels are scarier than they were, as they have new abilities due to the unlimited power of the ship that crashed.  This helps take a creepy villain, which would probably only appear in a few episodes, and makes it a villain that will last.

Now you can’t blink, look the angels in the eye, act like you can’t see them, and a laundry list of other things that make them creepy.

There are a lot of things I love about this episode, but talking about them would give far more spoilers than I like to do on this blog, maybe I’ll touch on it in an editorial later on.  Even if the rest of the season sucks, and we look back at this episode, the season would be a classic.

My Rating 5 out of 5

 

TV Review – Hyperdrive Season 1 Episode 3

I guess my annoyances were heard, as we finally get to find out a little bit about the “window dressing” members of the HMS Camden Lock crew.  On one hand we see that this episode essentially revolves around Navigation Officer Vine who spends all of his life savings on a bit of real estate, and by real estate I mean a huge uninhabitable planet made of ice and poisonous gas.  He decides to take Jeffers with him, against Jeffers actual desires.  The rest of the episode is based around Diplomatic Officer Teal using all sorts of methods to “get rid of” the rest of the cast in various ways so that a candlelit supper with the officers turns into a dinner for two with Henderson.

Sandstrom finally gets some character time

“Vineworld” Vine’s ever so catchy name for his new home world is realized pretty well in the great 19470’s Doctor Who tradition of filming in a rock quarry with weird film filters over the lenses.  Much of the comedy comes from Jeffers and his annoyance with vine due to a lack of preparation for the trip.  He decided not to bring food or water, as it would have been too heavy, and forces them to look around for crashed ships to scavenge on.  On the ship we almost get to see the unrequited love of Henderson and Teal pay off….almost.

We also get to see the ship’s navigational “enhanced” a.k.a. android get a little bit of character, something that the character has been lacking from the beginning.  Apparently she was once a human, until she ran into serious money trouble.  She agreed to have her body and mind modified in exchange for the Space Force paying off her student loan, assuming the offer would not be made if the procedure was not safe. Her personality was then overwritten, but we see shards of her true mind begin to appear as she is given a piece of chocolate by Teal.  I still think that this character is a waste of space, and adds nothing to the show, but we’ll see if that changes.

Vine and Jeffers on “Vineworld”

All in all episode three was good, and shows that the sub-par first episode was hopefully a fluke as the writers and actors come into their own here.

My Rating 3.3 out of 5

 

TV Review – Hyperdrive: Season 1 Episode 2

I’ll rate this episode better than the last, but only so much.

The second episode of Hyperdrive shows great improvement over the first, as we see a better presented storyline, some better jokes, and better use of special effects.  The show as a whole seems to be a typical BBC low budget sitcom affair, but as we see our first alien world in this episode it all seems to come together.  The story follows a trip to the planet Queppu for an attempt at diplomatic relations, but as Mike Henderson always seems to guarantee, the trip goes awry.  Against the better judgment of Mike, Jeffers is placed in charge of the ship while the top brass is gone, which spells disaster.

The costumes are very creative, but not as good as some I’ve seen in shows like Farscape or Doctor Who.

I was impressed by the costume designs of the Queppu, as they did not suffer from the typical Star Trek “different foreheads” syndrome.  This race  actually looked like a bizarre pre-industrialized race that happens to wear gaudy latex hats, and pretentious jewelry.  Most of the other costumes in this show are pretty bland, so anything like this stands out a lot.  Mike falls in love with the daughter of the crazed ruler of the planet, much to the chagrin of Teal, who harbors feelings for Mike.  We get to see York at his sleazy finest in this episode, as he attempts to nuke the planet before they even visit, and nearly ends up killing the crew in a knife fight.

Jeffers uses his new found power to get the ship into a drag race, almost destroying the ship in the process.

With all the good of the episode, there is still some bad things going on here that leave it average at best.  The jokes are usually good, but not always consistent, making certain scenes seem dragged out.  There are also a few characters like Vine and the ship’s android computer that really seem to serve no purpose to the story other than exist to be an analogue of a Star trek character.  I’ll rate this episode better than the last, but only so much.

May Rating 3.1 out of 5