Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sarah Jane Adventures - Series 4 synopses

The BBC have issued synopses for each episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures Series Four - see them below. Watch the preview HERE and a clip from Death of The Doctor HERE.

The Nightmare Man
by Joseph Lidster
Part 1: Luke faces life-changing events, and Bannerman Road will never be the same again. But when Sarah Jane's son has his first nightmare, he's haunted by a dark figure from his dreams. A strange entity is reaching out to our world, with terrible consequences for the whole human race.

Part 2: With Luke, Clyde and Rani trapped in a bizarre dreamscape, Sarah Jane must fight alone! As the Nightmare Man grows stronger, only K-9 might hold the key. But can Luke summon the courage to face his adult life before the whole world is trapped in an endless nightmare?

The Vault Of Secrets
by Phil Ford
Part 1: When an old enemy, Androvax the Veil, returns to Earth, the gang face a dilemma – should they trust him? Or does the legendary Vault hold an even greater terror? But a second threat arises, when android guardians threaten to destroy anyone who uncovers their secrets.

Part 2: As the battle between Sarah Jane, Androvax and the androids reaches its climax, Rani has to save her own mother from being caught in the crossfire. But as the Vault opens the destiny of the entire Veil species is at stake. Is it too late to save them?

Death Of The Doctor
by Russell T Davies
Part 1: When the Doctor is declared dead, old companions Sarah Jane and Jo Grant meet for the very first time, and join forces to discover the truth. As an interstellar conspiracy gathers around UNIT HQ, Clyde finds that he holds the fate of the Time Lord in his hand – quite literally!

Part 2: Old friends fight together to make one last stand against the sinister Shansheeth. But with Clyde and Rani trapped in terrible danger, Sarah Jane and Jo Grant realise their worst fears – their friendship with the Doctor might be the very thing that dooms them.

The Empty Planet
by Gareth Roberts
Part 1: Clyde and Rani wake up one day to discover that they are the only survivors of the human race! The whole of Earth is empty – even Sarah Jane has vanished. But a deserted London holds terrors of its own. Strange forces lurk in the shadows, as mysterious visitors approach!

Part 2: Clyde and Rani meet their enemy, as the Robots arrive on Earth – but what do they want, and where has the human race gone? It's a race against time, but without Sarah Jane's expertise, Clyde and Rani must trust each other like never before if they're to save the whole world.

Lost In Time
by Rupert Laight
Part 1: A harmless investigation turns into an epic quest across time and space. Sarah Jane and the gang are separated by the enigmatic Shopkeeper, and find themselves in three different time-zones throughout history – doing battle against ghost hunters, Nazis, Tudors and a mysterious parrot called Captain!

Part 2: While Sarah Jane tries to prevent a future tragedy, Clyde has to take on the Third Reich single-handed! But Rani discovers to her horror that the march of history cannot be stopped, as a greater danger from the Time Vortex threatens to consume them all.

Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith
by Clayton Hickman & Gareth Roberts
Part 1: Sarah Jane faces her saddest day, as she realises that no one can defend the Earth forever. She's saved the world so many times, but must now hand over the task to safer hands. Clyde and Rani are distraught, and the forces of darkness gather as the inevitable day approaches.

Part 2: Sarah Jane has gone – but a new regime begins at Bannerman Road! Clyde and Rani must face the fact that nothing lasts forever – but can they still unite as a team, to face a new and deadly threat from outer space? Or is the old gang finished for good?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BBC Drama Autumn/Winter lineup



Featured below is the BBC Drama Autumn/Winter show~reel, including the first glimpses of the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special; starring Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins. Visit the Christmas Special section HERE.


Also popping in the trail are Christopher Eccleston (Accused), David Tennant (Single Father), Matt Smith again (Christopher & His Kind) and Mark Gatiss (First Men in the Moon). Click on the pics below for bigger versions.

David Tennant's "Single Father" broadcast date


The BBC have announced that Single Father, a new four~part drama starring David Tennant, will start on BBC One, Sunday 10th October at 9pm. You can read Blogtor's review of the first episode HERE.

Sarah Jane Adventures - Sky mag preview


The latest edition of Sky Magazine (for subscribers of the satellite channel), October 2010, has a two page spread on The Sarah Jane Adventures. Featured are Matt Smith and Katy Manning who star in Death of The Doctor. Click on the pics for bigger versions.




Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sarah Jane Adventures - "The Nightmare Man" synopses

The BBC have released the synopses for both parts of the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures series four. Here is the synopsis for The Nightmare Man, part 1:

In the first two-part adventure, The Nightmare Man, Sarah Jane's adopted son, Luke, faces life-changing events and Bannerman Road will never be the same again when he has his first nightmare and is haunted by a dark figure from his dreams. A strange entity is reaching out to our world, with terrible consequences for the whole human race.

The Nightmare Man Part 1 will air:
5.15pm, Oct 11 on CBBC
4.30pm, Oct 13 on BBC Two

And the synopsis for part 2:

With Luke, Clyde and Rani trapped in a bizarre dreamscape, Sarah Jane must fight alone in the concluding part of the first story in the fourth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

As the Nightmare Man grows stronger, only K9 might hold the key, but can Luke summon the courage to face his adult life before the whole world becomes trapped in an endless nightmare?

The Nightmare Man Part 2 will air:
5.15pm, Oct 12 on CBBC
4.30pm, Oct 14 on BBC Two


The Nightmare Man promo pics

REVIEW: Revisitations DVD box set

Revisitations 1 DVD box set
Release Date: Oct 4

RRP: £39.99

Duration: 640 mins (approx.)

Stories included:
Talons of Weng~Chiang
Caves of Androzani
Doctor Who: The Movie

I split the three stories into different reviews, as one review would have included an enormous amount of info. You can read the reviews for the individual stories, and their extras, below:



It's difficult to know how to pitch this review, some people will buying the stories for the first time and, at under £30, that is unbeatable value. Seven discs of sheer Who~goodness! Even if you've got one of the stories then it's still an unquestionable purchase. But for those who have all the stories already? Do the extras amount to worth buying again? Perhaps, though I'm not totally convinced that the extra disc space has been put to its best use.

BLOGTOR RATING 8/10

Thanks to 2|entertain

Monday, September 27, 2010

REVIEW: Revisitations DVD box set [Part 3]

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the sheer wealth of material included on the Revisitations box set, the reviews will split into three; one for each story. The review of Doctor Who: The Movie can be read HERE whilst The Caves of Androzani can be found HERE. Lastly, it's...

THE TALONS OF WENG~CHIANG


Not only does Talons share a place in the Revisitations box set with The Caves of Androzani it also shares a number of traits AND writer. Robert Holmes packs memorable duos, poison, sympathetic villains, a facially disfigured lead and the word "jackanapes" into both 'classic' stories. Even back in the Eighties, recycling was an important issue...

And, like Androzani, this story often finds itself at the top of "all time" polls.


Similarly, as with my review for the discs from this collection featuring the 1984 Davison epic, I won't add to the numerous reviews, opinions and thoughts that already exist on this terrific 1977 six~parter. But I will state that, like Androzani, there is a nasty, almost unpleasant tone throughout but, unlike the 80s facsimile, there is levity to lift the licentious mood.


Step up the always alliterating jocular Jago, raising a smile every time he utters, "Oh, corks!" Sublime. Line of the story, however, must go to Tommy B. Upon the suggestion that the gun he is holding may explode, he responds, "Explode? Unthinkable. It was made in Birmingham." There's also a nice allusion to Oscar Wilde - a part Baker would later play on stage - in the use of "A hat box?"


Another part Baker would play, admitting it was a "failure", was Sherlock Holmes - a character at the heart of this tale. Teaming up with the remarkably refined Professor Litefoot, the Time Lord's Dr Watson, they form but one of many pleasing pairs (something that The Caves of Androzani would also ape). Surprising, though, that it is only until the fifth episode when Jago and Litefoot (arguably the most tributed twosome) actually get together.

The Talons of Weng~Chiang demonstrates a show at the height of its powers with everyone involved producing almost unequaled quality. And, despite the objectionably duff giant rat, these six episodes don't outstay their welcome and you'll revel in the Holmesian world The Doctor and Leela find themselves in.


EXTRAS
I have to say that I thought the extras on the original 2~disc release of Talons were perfectly acceptable so I arched a curious eyebrow to note its make~over, as it were. There's a whole new disc of extras, kicked~off with the main feature, The Last Hurrah - a fantastic look at the production of the story from all the main players involved. Phillip Hinchcliffe starts proceedings by visiting Tom Baker in the actor's countryside retreat and it only took Tommy B thirty seconds before he used the word "knickerbockers." Shocking.


Even more shocking was the sight of portraits of both Patrick Troughton and David Tennant in his home. Post~production trickery? A cheeky member of the film crew planting them there without the former Time Lord noticing? Or does Tom Baker actually have pictures of other Doctors in his kitchen? It's a comprehensive feature with thoroughly enjoyable input from all, and produced beautifully too.


A contemporaneous news feature, from Look East, is worth watching alone for Tommy B's remark, "To be honest, there's not much opposition to Doctor Who is there?" Still true to this day. Hinchcliffe entertains again on the featurette Moving On (looking back at the unrealised ideas he had for the next season) and Victoriana and Chinoiserie - a discussion of the literary references that can be found within the story.


Perhaps, like me, you're thinking "Hhmm, that's getting a bit close to not being about Doctor Who at all." Well, set your brains to quizzical for the two docs, Limehouse - A Victorian Chinatown (Dr. Matthew Sweet investigates the area and its history) and Music Hall (a study of the music hall's history). I have the feeling that some fans may be asking why forty minutes is given over to, what can only be called, "off topic" discussion.


Don't get me wrong, the two pieces are highly informative, thoughtfully produced, exquisite in appearance and, as someone who is involved in documentary film~making, I appreciate greatly what they've done. But should these features be on a Doctor Who DVD? Not so sure. And, as there is no new commentary, one wonders if the money spent on forty minutes of filming could have been better used on updating the commentary (which was satisfactory at best).

Anyway, Victor Spinetti makes a most surprising, but most welcome, appearance and Dr Sweet (isn't he a character in Candy Wars?) is, again, an engaging presenter.


There's an extra disc worth of materials for The Talons of Weng~Chiang, but does it dramatically improve on the original release? A 2~disc production that boasted the wonderful Whose Doctor Who? documentary (also included here, along with all the original extras). That, my friend, is up for debate.

The Revisitations DVD box set is released on Oct 4, read more about the seven~disc set HERE

Thanks to 2|entertain

Sunday, September 26, 2010

REVIEW: "Single Father", Episode 1


You can read a review of Single Father Episode One, written by Blogtor, over at Last Broadcast HERE. The drama stars David Tennant and you can visit the section for more pics and info HERE.

REVIEW: Revisitations DVD box set [Part 2]

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the sheer wealth of material included on the Revisitations box set, the reviews will split into three; one for each story. The first review - of Doctor Who: The Movie - can be read HERE and third review - for The Talons of Weng~Chiang - can be read HERE. Next up...

THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI



I'll make no qualms about it, Peter Davison holds a very special place in my heart as The Doctor. I wouldn't quite say he is "my" Doctor, as that excludes my connection to the other actors to play the Time Lord, but he was there during those crucial formative years watching Doctor Who.

And whilst his time in the TARDIS was slightly marred by bizarre casting, poor stories and equally poor production values (lights don't always need to be turned up to eleven you know), Davison managed to go out on a high that was never before seen in the show's history.


The Caves of Androzani is that rarity in the Whoeuvre where The Doctor isn't trying to save the Earth (or the Universe), battle an old enemy or solve a crime. He's just trying to get out of a situation, pure and simple. There's no hyperbole but there are plenty of heroics. Notably in the manner in which he spends the last episode endeavouring to save Peri.


Peter Davison's swan song has been written about and voted on too many times to make any further comment (and I suspect if you're reading this then you've actually seen it and are aware of its awesomeosity), but I will say that this four~parter is my favourite of the 'classic' era.


With the exception of a few scenes featuring what can only be referred to as 'Bowser', this Fifth Doctor finale is compulsive viewing, demanding your attention from the get~go. It's a production where, somehow, everybody involved got everything spot on; from the sensational cast (everyone in Caves is memorable) to the two of the most groin~grabbingly effective cliffhangers (episodes one and three, and indeed four if you 'count' that) to the exquisite direction from Graeme Harper, which is both gritty and stylish (grylish?).


But, most of all, this is Peter Davison's moment. We get everything from him here: his trademark curiosity at the start; his disdain for violence; humour in the face of adversity; ingenuity; and, of course, his bravery and heroism. The Fifth Doctor's finale episode, after he staves off regeneration, has those two characteristics in abundance. Dying, he does his all to save his companion - a true hero.

Newer viewers may be thinking: hold on isn't that similar to The Ninth's Doctor? In fact, even The Tenth? Yes, in a way. Russell T Davies was smart enough to know that a regeneration should be based upon heroism and bravery; The Doctor giving his 'life' for a relatively 'unimportant' person should be his defining trait.


Tragedy is woven into almost every character in Caves but the Fifth's final words belie an even more heart~wrenching secret - his guilt at the death of companion Adric. In the midst of fearlessness and valor comes the dark honesty of the Time Lord's vulnerability and endearingly fallible nature.

I can think of no better actor to so admirably display all these magnificent characteristics of The Fifth Doctor than "Sir" Peter of Davison.

My Doctor.


EXTRAS

Kicking off the "extra" extras (the new ones, additional to the features on the original DVD release) is the center~piece, Chain Reaction. Mathew Sweet presents with some aplomb asking, "Is The Caves of Androzani the best story ever?" and, despite the reverential tone of this question, the documentary is light and positively un~reverential.


Director Graeme Harper understates his talent, choosing to cite the "happy accidents" that make the story the classic that it is (the fact that Morgus talking to the camera was a mistake is quite the revelation). The rest of the main players are involved with Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant on top form (they always are, it should be said) with Robert Glenister and Maurice Roƫves (looking and sounding uncannily like Duncan Bannatyne) more than adding to the warm anecdotal feeling of the piece.

Bryant describes Androzani as a "little piece of history," and the team behind Chain Reaction have produced an astutely toned tribute, featuring wonderfully interesting locations for interviews, not to mention superb interviewees and engaging presenter.


"Astutely toned" are not words one would use, however, to describe Colin Baker, who pops up in an extract from the Russell Harty show (also featuring Petey D). Davison's charm and humour is never so obvious than when sitting beside the more gregarious, and amusingly obnoxious, Baker. Also of note in this extra are the fans in the audience who are left speechless when invited to ask the two Doctors a question (I believe the expression is #fanfail).


The Now & Then series is tinkered with in the form of Directing Who: Then & Now; a pleasant, if matter~of~factly, look at the differences in directing 'New' and 'Classic' Who from the perennial VFM, Graeme Harper.

Sadly, and unlike the TVM, there's no new commentary (come on guys, you could have asked me!) but the original one is well worth another listen as it features Davison, Bryant and Harper all on top form (with much laughter from all). We do get a new photo gallery, excellent production notes and a listings PDF though.


Essentially, there's about an hour's worth of the new material for Androzani over the two discs, and it's an excellent hour. But this is one of the very rare times in the DVD series where the main feature outshines its extras. If you don't own The Caves of Androzani, or haven't seen it (for shame!), then there is no better time to invest.


The Revisitations DVD box set is released on Oct 4, read more about the seven~disc set HERE

Thanks to 2|entertain

Saturday, September 25, 2010

REVIEW: Revisitations DVD box set [Part 1]

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the sheer wealth of material included on the Revisitations box set, the reviews will split into three; one for each story. The second review - for The Caves of Androzani - can be read HERE and third review - for The Talons of Weng~Chiang - can be read HERE. First up...

DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE



Yup, that's its official name. Of course, most of us just call it the TV Movie (TVM for the lazier). Or McGann's Moment. (Nah, nobody calls it that.) It was interesting to note that on the Doctor Who Confidential, announcing Matt Smith as The Eleventh Doctor, more time was given to McGann's portrayal of the Time Lord than both Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy combined. A testament to the actor's performance of Gallifrey's finest.


I can still remember my sheer joy on a lurvely day in 1996, popping down to my local HMV (other retailers were/are available), waiting for it to open so I could snaffle up the first Doctor Who story in seven years. (If you aren't aware, the TVM was released on home video before it screened on telly - I know, insane!) Imagine, then, my dismay to find out its release had been set back a few days. Bah! I should have had the internet, they would've known.


So, a few days later and armed with my shiny new logo pewter pin~badge (free with the VHS no less!), I returned from the aforementioned high street retailer to watch a brand new episode of Doctor Who. At 9.30 on a blisteringly hot and sunny May morning - just the way one should watch it! I ended up watching it four or five times that day. I was so happy that, not only, was my beloved show back (and you have to remember that being a fan in the 90s was not something that one would admit to in polite society) but it was good. Damn good. And, to my early~twenties mind, I was sure it would return for a full series.


Of course, it did return but not quite as soon as I'd hoped.

My opinion of the TVM has changed somewhat over the fourteen years since its original transmission (that sends shudders down my spine thinking just how old it is now). The story, such that it is, falls apart in the final third (a problem cited by many, including those involved) and the "fan~pleasing" start is almost laughable. So many continuity references in the first thirty seconds - Skaro, bang! The Master, bang! Daleks, bang! Time Lord, bang! Gallifrey, bang! It's like a parody of a fan~fic (I imagine, I've never actually read any).


There's more horrendous errors to come but I'll concentrate on the two positives about the TV Movie - Paul McGann and the TARDIS. I'd been a fan of McGann for some time (Withnail & I being one of my favourite films) so his casting was perfect. He played it expertly and I sincerely hope that he gets at least one more onscreen chance to shine. The TARDIS was beautifully realised and shot dynamically (though what the eff the flippin' Eye of Harmony was doing the Cloister Room is anyone's guess). But, sadly, these two positives pale in comparison to the denouement that was an affront to all that is Doctor Who.

The TV Movie holds a very strong place in my memory. Not for the production itself but for the build~up (I was more excited back then than I was for the show's eventual real return in the Noughties - the irony!) and the joy I felt at my show coming back.


EXTRAS
The TV Movie and its VAMs cover a mighty two discs and the gang, as usual, pack loads of trouser~tighteningly fab stuff on here. The main feature, The Seven Year Hitch, covers Philip Segal's protracted labour of love trying to get his version of Doctor Who onscreen. He comes off very personably and it's clear he loved the show and dearly wanted to make it, despite the initial reticence from the BBC. The corporation certainly do not come off well in this report and I was amazed that, considering how much the BEEB "hated" Doctor Who, they managed to choose the right actor for the part.


It's a fascinating record of a very turbulent time in Who~story, told admirably by the main players. My only criticism of the piece is the rather mundane style of the specially~recorded interviews. Compare the settings of the interviewees here with those in the accompanying DVDs in this set, The Talons of Weng~Chiang and The Caves of Androzani - much more imaginative and interesting on the eye. Still, a small point and a rare lapse of judgement on behalf of the normally top~notch production team.


Of course, one could argue that the main extra here is actually Who Peter: 1989-2009, the 'sequel' to the award winning first installment covering Blue Peter's involvement with Doctor Who. This time it's more of a look at how producer Richard Marson kept the flame so fervently alive by doing features related to the show. I was never really a fan of Blue Peter so I feel liked I've missed out on a whole bunch of Who goodness. Highlights include Christopher Eccleston's appearance (pity they didn't go ahead with the planned giant whooppee cushion routine) and the revelation of Mark "The Guv'nor" Curry as The Doctor.


The love and attention to detail onscreen is matched by those behind the doc and I feel it's a pity that both parts are assigned to only DVD. One would hope that these two wonderful pieces could receive an airing on 'proper' telly at some point - just too good, too informative and just too damn fun for the limited audience it will receive from these releases.


Another one of the main documentaries, The Wilderness Years, takes a look at the time when Doctor Who was not on our screens (not live anyway) and how the show migrated to home video, books and audios. Very interesting to see some clips from fan films but one wondered why 30 Years In The TARDIS (a wonderful BBC 2 doc looking at, well, thirty years of the show) couldn't have been included. Likewise McCoy's home video (all the rage on the new DVD releases) Bidding Adieu would have made an appropriate accompaniment (it even gets mentioned) but I can only assume that 'rights issues' interfered.


The Eighth Doctor also gets his time in 'comic' form covered in the ongoing series, Stripped for Action. As someone who doesn't delve into that sort of thing, it makes for a fascinating study of, what appears to be, a very intricate and thoughtful series of stories. A marvelous advert for the strips.

A new feature to the DVDs is The Doctor’s Strange Love, where we find writers, Joseph Lidster and Simon Guerrier, having a chat with comedienne, Josie Long (below), about the slightly less than "good" bits about the TVM.


It's something I'm sure we've all done, sitting about having a go at something we love. And the gang clearly do lurve it and find great joy in mocking some of the dialogue. Personally, I was surprised they didn't pick up on The Doctor's question, "Are you any good at setting alarm clocks?" to which Grace (a flippin' Doctor!) replied "No". Then, "I'll try". Incidentally, just how does one become "good" at alarm~clock setting? Great extra and I hope there's more like this on future releases.


Of course, some of the big "talking" points, if I may use such a disgustingly redundant phrase, accompanying the TV Movie are: the Paul McGann audition (see pics of it HERE); the visual effects tests; and the commentary. The audition is compelling. Despite a script that sounded like it was built by computers who searched for the most contentious threads on various online forums (Scrolls of Rassilon? The Doc's dad, grandfather and, dun~dun~duuuunn, his brother), McGann has brill~skills written all over him. A shame there were no other auditions available but this sole contribution is terrific.


The effects test includes a brief snatch of those two words that should never appear side~by~side, the infamous 'Spider Dalek'. Absolutely horrifying but I'm grateful that the archives have thrown up such an intriguing oddity. Finally, the commentary - it's got two flippin' Doctors on it! It makes for a pleasant enough listen though it does feel a tad stilted at times, mainly because Paul McGann falls into the trap of watching rather than commenting.

The actor admits that he hadn't seen in many years which begs the question, why didn't someone make him watch it beforehand? Annoyingly, he doesn't really add any insight into the TVM leading to numerous occasions where he asks what's going on. Having said that, his remarks about Eric Roberts did make me chuckle; with regards to costumes McGann states, "Eric would elbow anything he thought was effeminate."


Even if you have the original DVD release of Doctor Who: The Movie, this has enough extras on it to really make it feel like a Special Edition as the cover proclaims and a commentary with two Dr. Whos is just to juicy to ignore.

The Revisitations DVD box set is released on Oct 4, read more about the seven~disc set HERE

Thanks to 2|entertain