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:

 

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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://i2.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

 

TV Review: Hyperdrive Season 1 Episode 1

One episode in, and I enjoy Hyperdrive, but hope that the story takes off in future episodes, stay tuned for my opinion on the rest of the show!

I actually downloaded Hyperdrive around the time it originally aired due to a piqued interest in movies and television shows by Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright.  For some reason that I honestly can’t recall, I never watched it, and it sat on my hard drive collecting digital dust.  Going through my files this week, I stumbled upon it, and decided to finally check it out.

The HMS Camden Lock is basically a ship shaped like London’s BT Tower

Hyperdrive is a science fiction based sitcom, a genre hybrid that I can only think of a handful of instances of.  The story follows a crew of inept space voyagers trying to expand the British Empire in the year 2151.  I was drawn to the show due to Nick Frost’s starring role to be quite honest, but was pleasantly surprised to see a few actors I really like such as Patterson Joseph (Survivors, Mitchell and Webb Look) and Kevin Eldon (Big Train, Hot Fuzz) and even guest appearances by notable actors and acresses including Montserrat Lombard of Ashes to Ashes fame.

Frost plays pace Commander Michael Henderson, a misguided man who admires the idealism of space travel ala cheesy science fiction shows, but has no real credentials to back it up.  Imagine every bad thing that Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk ever did and add a bit of sincere stupidity, and you basically have Henderson in a nutshell.  His first officer (Eldon) Eduardo York, is a nice contrast to Henderson in that he seems to secretly want to be an evil galactic overlord like Ming the Merciless, but is held down by federation guidelines and other forms of “red tape”.  Add in a slacker technical officer named Jeffers, a quiet navigations officer named Vine, and the straight man, or lady for that matter, in the whole ordeal Diplomatic Officer Chloe Teal, and you have the principal cast in a nutshell.


(L to R) Teal, Henderson, York

Hyperdrive has its pros and cons that I can even see based solely on this first episode.  The show is a total farce in the style of Star Trek, but that almost leads it to try too hard to be like its “big brother” rather than stand on its own.  While this works most of the time, some of the goofy gags fall flat, and this isn’t helped by a lack of a laugh track.  The jokes are generally pretty funny when they are original, and rely more on gross out humor and dry wit than anything else.  One running gag that I really liked is when Henderson tries to relay his “knowledge” of historical facts to his crewmates, which always come out as a mishandled jumble of nonsense.

One episode in, and I enjoy Hyperdrive, but hope that the story takes off in future episodes, stay tuned for my opinion on the rest of the show!

May rating: 3 out of 5

 

TV Review: Doctor Who – Victory of the Daleks

I’ll admit that being a huge fan of the Daleks, I was pretty hyped up for this episode, especially after seeing the bits and bobs in the trailer. With a fairly good writer on board, and a novel idea in the can, I was pretty hyped up for “Victory of the Daleks”, sadly due to this over-anticipation I may have caused myself to be a bit underwhelmed by the end of the whole thing.

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

At the end of The Beast Below we were treated to a plot device that has not been seen for a while in Doctor Who: a scene that leads directly into the next episode.  The scene in question showed a certain Winston Churchill calling the Doctor begging for help, as we see the evil shadow of an old foe about to exterminate Churchill.  As we begin Victory of the Daleks something has changed, Churchill is smug, and seems to think he has the war “in the bag”, all due to a “secret weapon”.

Victory of the Daleks has some bright spots and some rough edges sadly.  First things first, the acting is superb especially with Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill.  Rather than try to emulate Churchill 100%, McNeice grabbed the raw essence of what Churchill was about and ran with it.  In the accompanying episode of Doctor Who Confidential, he basically said he wanted to emulate the tone and demeanor of his speeches, which I think worked well.  Matt Smith and Karen Gillan were also very good, but Smith really shined in this episode.  His wild “these are the Daleks, and they are evil” rants were spot on, and made the Doctor look about as crazy and hateful, as those he was condemning.

Great acting as usual from the cast

The rough edges I spoke of seem to be either due to the editing process or unfinished thoughts in the writing itself.  There are more than a few extraneous subplots going on like a girl that works for Churchill who is worried about her boyfriend, a pilot for the Royal Air Force.  We occasionally see her lamenting on his possible death, and other things that add absolutely nothing to the plot whatsoever.  It almost seems as if this was originally going to be a “two-parter”, and all the padding got removed.  Sometimes Doctor Who adds back stories for side characters and such, but as this character doesn’t really actually speak to the main cast, or reveal her name as far as I can rmemeber, she was pretty much wasted space.

The re-design of the leadership Daleks was cool, and brings a bit of scariness back to the characters.  The old Daleks were modeled after actress Billie Piper’s eyeline, and these are in line with Matt Smith, who is about 70 feet tall.  Because of this added height and deeper voice, these Daleks look to be quite menacing in the future.  Sadly they don’t do too much in this episode aside from taunt the Doctor, which is a shame.  The Daleks do end up with a VERY bright new paint scheme that reminds me of the colors for Star Trek rankings.  Then again I was also wondering if the Daleks were going to form Voltron at some point, so I can see why folks might not like the new direction.

Let’s form Voltron!

I’ll admit that being a huge fan of the Daleks, I was pretty hyped up for this episode, especially after seeing the bits and bobs in the trailer.  With a fairly good writer on board, and a novel idea in the can, I was pretty hyped up for “Victory of the Daleks”, sadly due to this over-anticipation I may have caused myself to be a bit underwhelmed by the end of the whole thing.   Not to say that this was a bad episode, but it was just average in my book, although it served a great purpose in rectifying all the shenanigans from the last few seasons, and will hopefully keep the Daleks alive for a while still.

My rating 3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who Theme by Some Dude With Tesla Coils

TV Review – Day of the Triffids (1981) Episode 1

I was perusing Netflix’s streaming tab one day, and noticed a few new shows added to my “you might like this” tab.  One show in question was one that I had heard of, but had never seen called “The Day of the Triffids”.  Since then I have researched it a bit more, and discovered that a 2009 remake was made, and a few theatrical movies exist of the story, all of which was originally a book by John Wyndham.  I hope Netflix keeps this up, as I’d love to see some more stuff that I can review for this site.

The opening credits are creepy

As the episode opens, we see a man named Bill Mason, who is laying in a hospital bed with bandages covering the majority of his face.  We learn, through various flashbacks, that Triffids were some sort of plant, whose oil could be used as a new source of energy.  It appears that some sort of energy crisis is afoot, and the new Triffid oil is the best around.  The problem is that apparently Triffids seem to be either sentient, or at least move around to feed, as Bill knows the best of all.  He was the first to officially be “attacked” by a Triffid as a child, as one was able to sting him pretty badly.  He gained expertise in the subject, and later went to work on a Triffid farm of all places.  His injury, that as of yet was a mystery, seems to come from another Triffid sting, that left him temporarily blind.  As Bill lay in bed, the world bears witness to a beautiful meteor shower, one that will change mankind forever.

A Triffid on the attack

The story in itself is a breath of fresh air for a person like me, who has seen just about any science fiction plotline used umpteen times.  To be honest, I really can’t say that I’ve seen a show about walking killer plants.  The budget for The Day of the Triffids is obviously pretty small, but doesn’t seem to suffer from the budget shortcomings of shows like Doctor Who and Blakes 7, probably having to do with the short duration of the miniseries.  The special effects are pretty good, but sparse, and the only real heavy amount of them you see are the Triffids themselves, which look like a huge Amazonian carnivorous pitcher plant, mixed with some kind of houseplant.

I will definitely keep watching this show, and now plan to check out the other versions of this story, as I love post-apocalyptic stories, which I assume is where this goes, and weird stuff in general.

The intro

My rating: 4 out of 5

 

Review – Doctor Who: Whispers of Terror

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

With the medium of audio plays, it was a matter of time before Big Finish explored some kind of sound based monster for their Doctor Who audio dramas; I’m just surprised that they did it so soon.  Whispers of Terror marks the third monthly Big Finish Audio, and the first to star Colin Baker (by himself) as the Doctor and Peri as his companion.

The story follows the Doctor and Peri as they end up snooping around a museum called the Museum of Aural Antiquities, where every sound is tucked away in large storage devices.  Almost immediately we find out that a murderer is afoot, and someone is changing old political speeches for someone’s gain.  If all that sounded bad, there also seems to be some kind of monster made of pure sound running around.

Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant almost immediately recapture their on-screen chemistry, and work well to make this seem like a “missing” Doctor Who episode.  Peri has always been a double edged sword for me, as Nicola Bryant was always nice to look at, but lacked a convincing American accent.  I know this may not be a real problem for those in the UK, that don’t have the ear for American speech patterns, but Peri was usually very far off.  In Whispers of Terror, Peri is in top form, as Nicola has obviously matured as an actress, and the role is acted shockingly well for me.  I feel that this revelation has really helped me gain a new found appreciation for this Doctor/companion pairing, that I really didn’t have before.

All in all, Whispers of Terror is a solid Doctor Who audio, if not a little on the average side.  So far I have noticed these dramas getting progressively better, and this is not exception.

My Rating 3.5 out of 5

 

DVD Review – Red Dwarf: Back to Earth

“Red Dwarf is one of those shows that you are either going to love or hate. If you like your sci-fi bleak and dark like the fad seems to be these days, you may not like Red Dwarf as it pokes fun at itself at every turn. “

The Boys are back…

Red Dwarf is one of those shows that you are either going to love or hate.  If you like your sci-fi bleak and dark like the fad seems to be these days, you may not like Red Dwarf as it pokes fun at itself at every turn.  Much Like the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, Red Dwarf likes to be as self-referential as possible and generally mock other sci-fi tropes.  Things like unnecessarily complex time travel situations, parallel universes, and genetically engineered monsters are all par for the course.  When I had heard that we would see more Red Dwarf after such a long hiatus, I was ecstatic as I have been a huge fan of the show for quite a while.  But was ten years too long to wait?

When we last left the crew of the mighty mining vessel Red Dwarf, things weren’t going so well.  Rimmer was about to die, and the rest of the crew was stuck in a parallel universe as the titular ship smoldered to a crisp.  With an unresolved cliffhanger like that, pretty much anything would be hard to follow up, especially after such a large break.  The producers and Writers of Red Dwarf came up with something ingenious and in tone with the show, by having a “missing season” thus, not actually resolving anything at all.  Many questions persist at the beginning of Back to Earth like: Why did Ace Rimmer go back to the Dwarf, and re-join the crew as Arnold Rimmer?  What Happened to Kochanski?  I guess we’ll never know, and that makes me chuckle.  With a show that had a main character turn out to be his own father and other such shenanigans, what more would I expect.

New Tension emerges between Sophie Winkleman‘s new science officer character and Rimmer

The story of Back to Earth takes place some nine years after we last left the crew.  Everyone is back aside from two notable exceptions.  Holly, the deranged ship computer (played by Norman Lovett or Hattie Hayridge respectively) has gone out of commission after Dave Lister, the show’s main character, left a bath running for nine years which fried Holly’s electronics.   Kristine Kochanski, the shows on-again and off-again love interest for Dave is dead, and Dave has matured from the experience.

After a run-in with a sea monster that had stowed away in the ship’s water supply, a hologram other than Rimmer appears claiming that Rimmer has put the crew’s lives in danger for the last time, and his holographic life is to be decommissioned.  She also decides that Lister needs to find a mate, and orchestrates a dimensional jump to take Lister Back to Earth.  Earth is not all it is bargained for, as the crew finds out that they are from a parallel dimension and are in fact, characters in a TV show called Red Dwarf.

On a storyline basis, Back to earth is a really good aside from a large stylistic change.  Rather than the joke a minute tone of older seasons, there are a few somber moments where Lister is on the brink of sadness due to his diminished status as a fictional character.  Aside from the drama, we also see home old-school sci-fi action, in the guise of homage to the film Blade Runner.  A few scenes were either directly or indirectly based on scenes from the popular Harrison Ford film, all the way down to costuming.  While these stylistic changes seem a bit in contrast to the show’s normal format, but work in the context of this special.

Carbug is definitely a silly addition, here’s hoping it stays on, if more episodes are made.

On the technical side, Red dwarf has never looked so good.  While shot on a shoe-string budget, the show has never had such well utilized computer generated effects, and other touches, and a lot of that has to do with the new HD camera that the crew used during the filming.  During the making of segment at the end of the disk, we were shown how a few shots were done using this new camera system, and it was truly awesome.

All In all, Back to earth was a good episode, but I would recommend it as a feature length viewing session.  Split up into three parts, the story structure seems to front loaded with jokes and padded in the middle with drama.  As a movie, which is what I believe the original intention to be, this series really shines, and may usher in a complete re-birth of the show if rumors hold any water.

Here is a trailer, that shows a bit of the Blade Runner parody:

My Score: 4.5/5

 

BBC Commissions New Scifi Drama

This sounds like it may be good.  Great to see the hole left by the end of Ashes to Ashes being filled.  From a Press release:

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Following on from the innovative and era-defining hits Spooks, Hustle and Life On Mars, Kudos Film & TV is moving into another new world. BBC One has commissioned a new eight-part drama series, Outcasts.

Created by Ben Richards (Spooks, The Fixer, Party Animals), Outcasts is set on a recently-discovered planet and tells of the dilemmas, loves and lives of a group of people setting up a new world.

This life-sustaining planet is now home to the surviving population from Earth. Here there is a chance to start again, to bring the lessons learnt from Earth and to put them into action on a new planet.

Set in 2040, Outcasts begins on the day the last known transporter from Earth arrives, prompting great excitement on the new planet: Who is on board? Friends and loved ones? Important supplies and news from Earth? But also many questions: Will the new people bring the problems of Earth with them? Will the mistakes that destroyed Earth be repeated? Will the arrival of a new, would-be leader, rock the fragile and precarious equilibrium of our fresh, unified and courageous new world?

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Sounds a bit like Survivors, but I’ll definitely try to check it out.

 

Jo grant to Team up With Sarah Jane Smith

Jo grant to Team up With Sarah Jane Smith

From a press Release:

Sarah Jane Smith is reunited with another of The Doctors former companions, Jo Grant (Katy Manning), plus the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), in the new series of The Sarah Jane Adventures this autumn.

Katy Manning, who recently returned to live in the UK, says Playing Jo Grant again is something I never really considered. I was gob-smacked when they told me and I am over the moon. What an incredible little treat. I come home and this is one of the first things that happens.

The team will be taken inside a secret base beneath Snowdon and meet a brand-new vulture aliens, the mysterious Shansheeths, plus a trip to an alien planet – a first for The Sarah Jane Adventures!