Sunday, February 28, 2010

REVIEW - "The Space Museum" & "The Chase" DVD box set

Release Date: March 1

RRP: £29.99

Duration: 250 mins (approx)

Stories included:
The Space Museum
The Chase

Extras:
Click HERE



STORIES
First up is the oddity that is The Space Museum. When I first saw this one back in the 90s, I was quite taken with it so it was a slight surprise to find that its name wasn't as popular in fan circles (actually, it's not that surprising). For me, any Doctor Who story that features the line, "Hey, that's my good cardigan!" (I shan't spoil it for you by revealing who said it) has got to be worthy of some appraisal. The opening episode is tremendous and a stark reminder of just how experimental Who could be in the 60s. Crikey - it's almost avant garde in the way that it plays with time and the perceptions of those caught within it. The viewer is left with that all too rare feeling of "What the eff is going on?" and as the credits role one wondered if this was to be a hidden classic. Well, you can tell where this is going...


Sadly, the story does not live up to the grandeur of the first installment as the gang find themselves back in their 'proper' time. What then follows could best be described as 'fun' (nothing wrong with that). Rob Shearman's reading of this story (see the excellent Extras) is spot on - the cast are having a terrific amount of fun and The Space Museum could be seen as a parody of previous Who adventures. It also feels immensely rushed as the cast regularly fluff their way through their lines throughout but the final episode ends on such a terrific cliffhanger that you'll perhaps forgive the cast and crew's "professionalism"...


'Cos the Daleks make quite an unexpected return! Though, having said that, I am no fan of the intergalactic pepper~pots and The Chase does nothing for the cause. Like The Space Museum, it has a very light feel to it no more so than in those infamous Haunted House scenes, Peter Purves' American "accent", Ian delivering the line, "Try and get out of that hole Fred" (to a Dalek), the lamentable Mechanoids and a Dalek who appears to be a few roundels short of a TARDIS console room.


Again, The Chase starts off quite unusually; displaying the 'family' life inside the time machine as Ian, Barabara, Vicki and The Doctor crowd round the telly (sorry, Time-Space Visualizer). Then we get some bizarre clips featuring Shakespeare, The Queen and The Beatles. As a side~note, it's interesting to note that the makers of Doctor Who realised that The Fab Four would themselves become part of history. And we get another excellent cliffhanger with a Dalek reveal. (Two weeks in a row!)


But things do take a turn for the worse as what we are presented with over the next five episodes is a bit of a mess though its name, The Chase, is accurate - that's purty much what happens as the Daleks follow our intrepid heroes. Like The Space Museum it's also filled with much humour and the cast play on this greatly with Vicki coming across as constantly pissed for the entirety of the tale (not necessarily a bad thing). Sticking with actors, as always, Ian and Barbara are solidly played and their farewell at the end of this story is superbly done with The Doctor's "I shall miss them" displaying a peculiar amount of emotion.


The production itself, like the 'plot', is a mess; the direction is notably poor in scenes like the Mary Celeste and in the 'action' scenes. And why anybody thought that a Dalek proclaiming "Am exterminated!" and "Totally immobilised!" would be appropriate is beyond me. Ultimately, the notion of the Daleks getting time~travel technology is solid in premise but it was rendered negatively here in The Chase. Yes, it's fun and memorable in parts but it is also lightweight and laughable (derisively so). One to watch with a group whilst having a drink methinks.


EXTRAS

If the stories are lightweight and sometimes ineffectual, the extras certainly are not. Accompanying The Space Museum is a heartfelt 'defence' of the tale by writer Rob Shearman, who stoutly fights his corner addressing some very interesting issues. Hitting a more sensitive note is William Hartnell's granddaughter (who popped up in the excellent doc Thirty Years In The TARDIS back in the early 90s) in My Grandfather, the Doctor. Jessica Carney lovingly takes the viewer through his career and personal life with some exquisite insight and archival materials. An absolute joy.


Joy, however, is not the word I would use to describe the "humourous" extra, A Holiday for the Doctor. Now the idea is a welcome one - looking at episodes where cast members were absent for whatever reason - but the execution is woeful. Humour can be a real hit and miss affair when it comes to documentaries and this is a real missed opportunity for an excellent piece.


As you would expect, there are some tasty VAMs celebrating Skaro's finest to compliment The Chase and I feel even the most Dalek~hungry will be satiated. Refreshingly, those who remember working on the story do so with honesty and thankful frankness, citing money and time as Doctor Who's greatest enemy and not imagination. There are a number of fascinating docs here exploring the little guys and their appeal and Daleks Beyond the Screen is a terrific look at the merchandising over the years. Also worthy of a mention is the rather sweet collection from the Give-a-Show Projector slides (some pictured here) - accompanied by a top soundtrack.


If the stories aren't quite as good as they could be (and certainly of their time) they do display a great sense of fun and intense experimentation - two facets I heartily applaud. PLUS they've got William "The Guv'nor" Hartnell in them, another definite positive. The "extras" (though I feel it's slightly damning to call them such as they are usually the first thing I go to) are, barring one unfortunate foray into laughter~town, are never less than engrossing - a delightful box set.

BLOGTOR RATING 8/10

Thanks to 2|entertain

REVIEW - "Logopolis" audiobook

BBC Audio Out Now
Available on 4xCD [RRP £12.99]
When the author of a Doctor Who novelisation decides to use "chuffing" instead of the more classic, not to mention accurate and pleasing, "wheezing and groaning" to describe the noise of the TARDIS materialising, then you know the writer has his own particular take on the tropes of the show. The chap in question, Christopher H. Bidmead also ends his pleasant tones to the audiobook of Tom Baker's final story as The Fourth Doctor.
Bidmead's voice is excellent and very well suited to audiobooks, perfectly toned and paced. However, when it comes to the character's voices, this is where Chrissy B falls short by some distance. There's no real differentiation between the text and the dialogue; his "impression" of Tom Baker either sounds like a bored Roger Moore or Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. And the less said about his 'Tegan' the better. (Though his 'Adric' ain't too shabby.)


But Bidmead is not an actor so it's easy to forgive his sometimes unemotional response to his own text, which itself is slightly uneven. Much of the action is given over to the opening of the story where The Fourth Doctor finds himself measuring up a real~life Police Box only to find The Master's TARDIS. There's much attention to the minutiae of the characters during this segment and, on reflection, it's over long.


The resulting effect is that the real drama of the story, the planet Logopolis itself and the return of The Master go by relatively quickly and are less detailed (The Watcher could have been expanded upon, for example). In fact, The Fourth Doctor's regeneration is remarkable shorter than the televised version (though we do get a cracking opening line for The Fifth). With all these faults, Logopolis is still definitely worth a listen though it's doubtful it'll be one you'll come back to.


BLOGTOR RATING 6/10

Thanks to BBC Audio

THE END OF TIME - Action Figures

Dr Who 'Action' Figure - The 11th Doctor

Out now from Character Options are a range of figures of characters all from The End Of Time - see a gallery of pictures of them HERE. Blogtor Who also have some for sale on a popular auction website, follow the links below to their sales (all started at 99p):

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Time of Angels/Flesh & Stone - Radio Times synopses

The latest issue of the Radio Times - see pics from it HERE - has an episode guide written by Steven Moffat. See what he has to say about the fourth and fifth episodes of the new series, The Time of Angels and Flesh & Stone, below [SPOILERS!]

Radio Times episode guide

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Series US Air~date

My Trousers Are Impaired!
Variety are reporting that the new series of Doctor Who, starring MATT SMITH & KAREN GILLAN will start April 17 on BBC America. The next series will start April 3 in the UK on BBC One with a one hour episode, The Eleventh Hour. See the most recent trailer for the series HERE.

Vampires In Venice - Radio Times synopsis

Radio Times episode guide

The latest issue of the Radio Times - see pics from it HERE - has an episode guide written by Steven Moffat. See what he has to say about episode six of the new series, Vampires In Venice, below [SPOILERS!]

Radio Times episode guide

Coming Soon on DVD - "The Creature From The Pit"



Coming soon to DVD is the Tom Baker story The Creature From The Pit; click on the pictures to see screengrabs from the "Coming Soon" trailer on the Myths & Legends DVD box set (due March 26). The Creature From The Pit is due for release on May 3.





Thanks to 2|entertain

New Series Trailer [Shorter version]



The BBC have released a new, shorter version of the recent trailer for the next series of Doctor Who starring MATT SMITH and KAREN GILLAN. See it in the player above and see the original, longer trailer HERE.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

REVIEW - "Dead Air" audio CD

BBC Audio out March 4
Available on 1xCD [RRP £8.99]

One wonders if this particular release from BBC Audio should come with one of those warnings you get for some films. You know, "Contains one sex word" or "Watch out! Mild peril!" and stuff like that. Why? Well, Dead Air contains the words "fanny" and "drizzle" (in the same sentence, no less). Yes, you should be shocked - won't someone please think of the children?


Aside from the gratuitous language, writer James Goss (wasn't he the bass player from Bros?) has taken the classic "base under siege" routine and given it a spin as The Doctor finds himself trapped on "Pirate Radio" ship back in the 60s. He's not alone and Davey T manages some top accents with a Liverpudlian gal and a Bill Nighy~esque DJ as his ship~mates but something else lurks there - the Hush.

It's a weapon leftover from the Time War that devours anything that make a noise. So, not so much as don't blink as don't whisper and Goss manages to create an immensely creepy tale - though it is spoiled from time to time with needless continuity references and in~jokes.


The production is wonderful, using a unique premise to frame the tale (which I won't spoil for you). I also won't spoil the ending for you (keep listening after the credits) but it's certainly the best audio denouement I've heard, with the tension ramped up as much as it flippin' well gets. And utterly memorable.

Dead Air would have made such a good episode (could still do!) and I can't recommend this one highly enough - almost perfect. An ideal way to celebrate the "passing" of The Tenth Doctor.

Blogtor Rating 8/10


Thanks to BBC Audio

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BBC "Out Of This World" event


MATT SMITH and KAREN GILLAN (pictured above) turned up at a special event in Brighton yesterday celebrating the success of British sci fi around the world. BBC Worldwide hosted a special evening on Sunday entitled Out of this World for over 500 international TV buyers. Doctor Who has now sold to over 50 broadcasters and Torchwood to over 35, both distributed by BBC Worldwide. From the Middle East to the Far East, from Latin America to Australasia, British sci fi has landed in most corners of the globe.
  • Doctor Who achieved the enviable number one and two spots on iTunes USA last year.
  • Doctor Who was one of the top two UK imported programmes in South Korea (July 08/June09) - it was also in the top 5 selling programmes for BBC Worldwide in 08/09.
  • Torchwood can be seen in countries as far flung as Turkey and Taiwan, Albania and Australia, Iceland and India.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Twitter Poll #1 - Results!

Over the last day or so we've been running a poll over on Twitter. The question was...

What was the FIRST baddie/monster in DOCTOR WHO that scared you?

...and there were some fascinating entries.
Some of you were scared by BONNIE LANGFORD, some feared COLIN BAKER'S JACKET whilst others hid behind the sofa when CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON got naked in Dalek... Just missing out on a place in the Top Eleven were ELDRAD, THE SEA DEVILS and the YETI. Here are the final results:

=10. Vashta Nerada and The Midnight Monster
Joint at the bottom of the Top Ten are two very similar Who "villains". Seemingly, one of the benefits of a 'credit crunch' are invisible enemies that put the willies up you lot more than Davros! The Vashta Nerada are the first of three creations from the mind of Steven Moffat to feature at the top.

9. Sutekh
This cove popped up in 1975's Pyramids of Mars, starring Tom Baker (who gathered a few votes himself in the poll), with some purty scary mummies too.

8. Giant Maggots
Blimey the 70s were a rough time - not only was The Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, stuck on Earth for a while but we had to put up with Giant flippin' Maggots! They called it The Green Death but judging by the state of my trousers, I'd call it the brown death...

7. Scaroth
Lesson No.1 in Doctor Who - you can't eff around with time. You do, you die and only The Doctor gets away with it. City of Death shows the last of the Jaggaroth split throughout the ages getting multiple copies of the Mona Lisa produced though he may have been better off getting his head not to wobble so much. Still, scared the Buck Rogers outta me as a child!

6. Wirrn
Indomitable! That's what Tommy B calls the human race in The Ark In Space but that was before he had to put up with the bubble wrap from hell and some pesky giant insects. A truly classic "monster" that would be welcome back any day.

5. Autons
Just like these little bastids! Though the Autons helped the return of the show in 2005, they were ensuring no toys were left in the bedroom at night back in 1970. But, going on even further back...

4. Cybermen
Their first appearance saw the end of William Hartnell as The First Doctor and the start of nightmares for some of you. The Tenth Planet and Tomb of the Cybermen proved to be their most popular starting point but no one name~checked Earthshock - perhaps because an even bigger horror lurked in that story, ADRIC! (He only got three votes.)

3. The Empty Child
Or "Gas Mask Zombies" as most of you called it. (What a great name for a band!) The Moff's first serious outing in Who had the under tens shaking with fear and the over forties shaking their fists and needlessly derailing every thread on the internet complaining about a certain agenda. Gayness? In Doctor Who?? How very dare they...?

2. Daleks
Visit yawn.com for more info on these tiresome little guys. Actually, they're still incredibly popular and scaring new generations every time they appear. Wouldn't mind a pair of those Dalek~bumps myself...



1. Weeping Angels
And winning by a HUGE margin are the non~killing bad guys from the The Moff's finest moment, Blink (actually I prefer The Girl In The Fireplace but, hey, that's just me). In fact, their votes are greater than the Daleks and The Empty Child put together! sassypackrat said, "I couldn't sleep and had nightmares afterwards" whilst _badwolf commented "I screamed the house down the first time I saw them. Creepy spooky monsters, they are." Included above is the "sequel" to their first outing, posted by the BBC during the run~up to Christmas.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Series, Episodes 8 & 9 - Radio Times synopses



The latest issue of the Radio Times has an episode guide written by Steven Moffat. See what he has to say about episodes eight and nine of the new series below [SPOILERS!]

Radio Times episode guide

New Series Trailer




The BBC have released a new trailer for the next series of Doctor Who (starring MATT SMITH and KAREN GILLAN) scheduled to start April 3 - see it in the player above. See the first trailer for the series HERE.

Follow Blogtor Who on Twitter HERE

"Vampires of Venice" - Script Excerpt ++SPOILERS!++


WARNING!
This post contains SPOILERS for Vampires of Venice, episode 6 in the next series of Doctor Who. You have been warned! (Though they are not plot spoilers it should be said)


Here is an excerpt from the script of Vampires of Venice, written by Toby Whithouse, featuring: The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill).

THE DOCTOR (CONT'D)
I want Rory to see it too. So I'm sending you somewhere. Together.

AMY
What, like a date?

THE DOCTOR
Anywhere you want, any time you want. One condition: it has to be amazing. The Moulin Rouge in 1890! The first Olympic games! Think of it as a wedding present. Because frankly it's either this or tokens.

AMY
What do you think Rory?


Rory says nothing. Still hunched against his pillar. The Doctor smiles understandingly. He knows what this is about.


THE DOCTOR
It's a lot to take in, isn't it. Tiny box, huge room inside: what's that about? Let me explain...


You can see a picture of the script HERE.

Thanks to colonelcrow of the Gallifrey Base forum.

New Series, Episode 10 - Radio Times synopsis


The latest issue of the Radio Times has an episode guide written by Steven Moffat. Episode 10, which could be titled Vincent and The Doctor, stars Tony Curran (as Van Gogh) and Bill Nighy (pictured below).



See what he has to say about episode ten of the new series below [SPOILERS!]

Radio Times episode guide

Friday, February 19, 2010

DAVID TENNANT in "Of Mice & Men"


Coming up next month is a BBC radio production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men starring DAVID TENNANT, Jude Akuwudike, Richard Madden, Liam Brennan, Neil McKinven and Christopher Fairbank. Of Mice and Men which will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 7th March at 3pm. Click on the pic below for a bigger, juicer version.