Thursday, June 30, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day more promotional pictures


The BBC have issued some promotional pictures from Torchwood: Miracle Day - click on the images below for bigger versions. Featured in the pics are: Rex Matheson (played by MEKHI PHIFER), Gwen Cooper (EVE MYLES), Captain Jack Harkness (JOHN BARROWMAN), Oswald Danes (BILL PULLMAN), Esther Drummond (ALEXA HAVINS), Rhys (KAI OWEN), Jilly Kitzinger (LAUREN AMBROSE), Sgt Andy (TOM PRICE), Geraint Cooper (WILLIAM THOMAS), Mary Cooper (SHARON MORGAN and Dr Vera Juarex (ARLENE TUR).




TORCHWOOD MIRACLE DAY EP 1 AIRS
JULY 8 IN THE US, JULY 9 IN CANADA & AUS
JULY 14 IN THE UK






Thanks to BBC Pictures

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

REVIEW: Paradise Towers DVD

Release Date: July 18

RRP: £20.42

Extras: Visit HERE


STORY
I have to be honest (well, I always am), this was a release I was not looking forward to reviewing (much like last year's Time and the Rani). Paradise Towers was not an enjoyable experience on first~viewing back in '87, even less so on the VHS release (though it did come with a "collectible" postcard - gotta get 'em all!) and now it rears its great big stinky head in the world of digital versatile discs.


Can you tell I'm not a fan?

McCoy's first year, to quote the Daleks, is an abomination. I can find nothing, nothing redeeming about it and Paradise Towers is about as apt an example I can think of when it comes to this awful series. (I should point out that I am aware that Series 24 has its fans, good on you. You should probably just skip this part and go to the Extras section below.)


For me, Paradise Towers is an absolute stinker, a sign of the times that spewed it - but that's also what makes it such an intriguing watch. It's the decline of the Eighties in front of your very eyes. Despite the excellent premise, its production is so laughably amateur that one is left wondering just how on earth it made it to the small screen. The idea of a dystopian hi~rise was not new at the time and had already been done well (I'm thinking of the Max Headroom TV movie, for example), so it's surprising that those involved managed to fudge it so spectacularly.

Again, and I'm going for the cliche (but it's fact), lighting seems to be the biggest enemy. Any menace of the tower block is made redundant by over~lit corridors at every turn. But there's more to blame. The cast are uniformly appalling. Girl "gang" (more like troupe), the Kangs, come off as an immensely irritating bunch of gals who wouldn't make it into an Am~Dram production of Annie. The rest fare no better with some truly abysmal performances throughout.


But this is where one may want to skew how Paradise Towers is viewed. If you take these heightened performances - the Rambo~esque Pex and Richard Briers' Hitler~lite Chief Caretaker are just two examples - and the pantomime production, the four~parter can be looked upon as an expressionist, almost Brechtian~style show. The reality of the situation cannot be taken seriously, in an emotional level (or even believable), but the concoction of whimsical and overpowering characters with childlike production values can result in a more interesting view.


I'm not saying, for one moment, that this was the original intention, but the story does indicate how out of touch with the time Doctor Who was. It's also a prime illustration that the BBC would broadcast anything as long as it filled a slot (despite the writer's own admission that he was making it up as he went along). Again, Paradise Towers has its fans, I know this, but I sincerely hope this is the very last time I have to subject my eyes and brain to it.


EXTRAS
Phew, well thankfully the special features make up for the story. The commentary, sadly, is a rather tame affair with none of the main cast involved and we're treated to worthy, if dull, discussions from actress Judy Cornwell, writer Stephen Wyatt, special sounds supervisor Dick Mills and composer Mark Ayres. They do discuss how the sound overpowers the dialogue which is an argument still raging in telly today. A pity that McCoy or Briers wasn't available to breathe much~needed life into proceedings.

The main documentary, Horror on the High Rise, is a marvelous feature looking at the story's genesis and the ongoing production issues. As evidence to the story's failure, those involved clearly demonstrate there was no clear voice guiding this mis~step - everyone (from cast to crew) having a different idea as to how to portray the tale. Particularly amusing are some comments from Andrew Cartmel, who uses phrases like "urban realism" (describing an attack on Mel) and "nuanced" (when chatting about Brier's performance). I don't wish to sound harsh, but I think he's slightly delusional about this story.


I think it's a pity that the makers of the docco didn't think to film in an actual high~rise to add to the claustrophobia (though I'm sure they probably did and it was a financial consideration). And despite some the absence of McCoy and Langford, the contributors do a fine job of keeping the history of Paradise Towers alive. My only beef, if you pardon the expression, is that presenter Mark Ayres is a little too meek and slightly pedestrian; never really revealing any personality - the complete opposite of such a brash and arrogant story.

Girls! Girls! Girls! The Eighties is a smashing discussion between Sophie Aldred, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton as they talk about their time on the show. It's heartening to see the ladies together being candid though sadly there's no Bryant to bridge the gap. Stick around to the end of the credits on this one for some superb Fielding face~work. Priceless.


Casting Sylvester is another neat little interview with Clive Doig (Jigsaw producer), wonderfully put together with a most amusing title sequence. Much has already been said about McCoy's casting but another view (and overwhelming positive) is a welcome addition. Also included are some deleted and extended scenes which are purty much in tone with the rest of the story but it's great to have these excellent reference materials included. Special mention must also go to the Production Notes - incredibly funny (and informative, of course). Keep an eye on them each time Pex appears, great stuff.


As usual, the extras make even the "worst" Doctor Who story worth purchasing. And whilst the commentary lets the side down, in that respect, Paradise Towers is a fascinating release. It documents the show in a troublesome time, trying to change but, ultimately, remaining the same. Alternatively, you can have a few drinks and "enjoy" the actual story itself, or even lots of....

BLOGTOR RATING 7/10

Thanks to 2|entertain

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Torchwood: Miracle Day episode 1 synopsis


The BBC have issued the official synopsis for Torchwood: Miracle Episode One The New World, it airs July 14th in the UK (8th in the US and 9th in Canada and Australia). Read the details below:
One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next, people keep ageing – they get hurt and sick, but they never die. The result: a population boom, overnight.

With all the extra people, resources are finite. It’s said that in four month's time, the human race will cease to be viable. But this can’t be a natural event – someone’s got to be behind it. It’s a race against time as CIA agent Rex Matheson investigates a global conspiracy. The answers lie within an old, secret British institute. As Rex keeps asking: "What is Torchwood?", he’s drawn into a world of adventure, and a threat to change what it means to be human ... for ever.

In the launch episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, Agent Rex Matheson is impaled in a car crash and miraculously survives, while his analyst, Esther Drummond, sets out to discover what Torchwood is. Far away, in Wales, Gwen Cooper lives in hiding with her husband Rhys and daughter Anwen – she’s the last surviving Torchwood member and is determined to stay hidden. In Kentucky, convicted murderer Oswald Danes survives his own execution. And when Esther meets the mysterious Captain Jack Harkness, assassins are activated to kill them all...

THE NEW WORLD airs
9PM, July 14 on BBC One/HD

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REVIEW: Earth Story DVD boxset

Release Date: June 20

RRP: £30.63

Stories included:
The Gunfighters
The Awakening

Extras: Visit HERE


Earth? Story?? Wha?????

STORIES
Yes, both these stories are set on Earth - and that is worthy of a special box set. Moving on... The Gunfighters is, indeed, as one of its episodes suggests A Holiday For The Doctor. Unremarkable purty much sums up this "classic" (not my words) four~parter (as it does to the accompanying Peter Davison two~parter) and it's quite the collection of "cliff~hangers" - each one as uneventful as the last.

To further infuriate there's that bloody song (The Last Chance Saloon) that pops every second (well, not quite, but it certainly feels like it) and a cast that seem to have OD'd on YAS (Yank Accent Syndrome) resulting in a production is already challenging before we even get to the story itself. Thankfully William "The Guv'nor" Hartnell is on hand to entertain no end with his excellent comedic turn.


There's plenty to bemoan and, whilst not awful, it is one of those stories that doesn't beg a repeated viewing. Likewise 1984's The Awakening may have some interesting location shooting and a neat~looking alien, the Malus, but it fails to spark any engagement with the audience; despite its interesting premise. The cast also fall well short of provoking any reaction from the viewer.

Both stories are well~matched, neither terrible or excellent; neither memorable or disposable. The Gunfighters and The Awakening are definitely worth checking out though, as I said, it may only be once.


EXTRAS
First up are the accompaniments to the Hartnell story; and there's an intriguing, if slightly austere, commentary track moderated by Toby Hadoke and featuring some of those involved. Peter Purves, in particular, is an interesting fellow with some backtracking from the actor/presenter on previous comments. He has some warmth from the show despite the repeated negativity (something I welcome, to be honest).


The doc, The End of the Line, is also quite serious in tone as we look at the end of The First Doctor's time on telly. Thankfully we have some of the players from the time but there's also excellent use of archival materials from a very turbulent time in the show's history. Fascinating to see how uneven Doctor Who was towards the end of Hartnell's time in the TARDIS - Maureen O' Brien's ignoble exit from the show, for example. It's an engrossing documentation, which could have gone on for much longer and my only criticism would be that the continuous soundtrack of piano sounds becomes a tad irritating.

The always excellent Tomorrow's Times (a series looking at the contemporaneous media reaction to the show) returns with the beautiful host Mary Tamm purring her way through the Billy H era. To be honest I had to watch it a second time as I didn't pay much attention to what she was saying; too distracted by her, was I. Anyway, another stonking installment, with enough reference material to satiate even the most salacious of reference~philes.


Given that The Awakening was only a two~parter, its extras would suggest otherwise due to the wealth of them. The commentary, sadly, does not feature Petey D but does include some interesting comments from Eric Saward on Matt Smith. Infuriatingly, we get the fact that actors had rehearsal time in the past as opposed to the modern style of television production (something, I think, that has cropped up on almost every DVD release). The Awakening is an apposite example that more time does not equate to better acting.

The main doc, Return to Little Hodcombe, is a welcome departure from the usual fare, being shot on location and using locals and their memories of the shoot (cue guffaws when one villager refers to fans as, wait for it, "geeks"!). Amusingly, most people involved didn't seem to understand what was going on in the story (maybe somebody should've piped up at the time). It's an upbeat piece that could easily pass for a BBC One on a Sunday afternoon show - hopefully more docs in the future will take a step off the beaten track.


Other extras include: a neat little feature, Making the Malus, where we see the prop in all its glory; Now & Then, revisiting the superb locales in the story; some deleted/extended scenes (including the smirksome line, "Does the doctor know you're tapping that computer?"); an amusing Peter Davison face~off with Noel Edmunds in The Golden Egg Awards (I would explain, but I shan't); and a cracking Photo Gallery featuring some brilliant behind the scenes images (many of which I'd never seen).


Whilst not completely engaging in the story department (though, as I state, they are perfectly acceptable yarns), the extras, as always, lift these pedestrian tales into a more essential sphere. Looking forward to its sequel box set, Moon Story...

BLOGTOR RATING 8/10

Thanks to 2|entertain

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Neil Gaiman on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson


Last night writer Neil Gaiman was a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and the conversation, unsurprisingly, turned to Doctor Who. See their discussion in the player above. The full interview can be seen HERE.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Hyde Fundraisers in Leicester


Join Hyde Fundraisers this weekend at the National Space Centre, Leicester. The group will be raising funds for BBC Children In Need, Comic Relief and other charities with a display of their characters, presentations about the group and how they create their replica characters, virtual photoscreen, character photo opportunities and a special UNIT Lab presentation. There will also be a special guest appearance each day - On Saturday 2nd its Katy Manning, The Third Doctor's companion who returned last year for The Sarah Jane Adventures and on Sunday 3rd face Davros, alias actor Terry Molloy. Guests are courtesy of Fantom Films & Falaxy 4.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day more promotional pictures

STARZ have issued some more promotional pictures from Torchwood: Miracle Day - click on them for bigger versions. Featured in the images are John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer and Alexa Havins. The show premieres on STARZ July 8 at 10pm ET/PT whilst a UK airdate is still to be confirmed (RTD has stated July 14th earlier this week). There will also be a Torchwood: Miracle Day panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2011 on Friday, July 22.

ETA: The UK airdate has now been confirmed as July 14 - BBC One/HD at 9pm



Thanks to STARZ

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Torchwood - Press roundtable highlights


Earlier this week, Blogtor attended a press round~table event featuring some of the cast and crew from Torchwood: Miracle Day - read my report from the event over at CultBox HERE. Features interviews with Russell T Davies (did I mention he hugged me?), Julie Gardener, Eve Myles, Bill Pullman and John Barrowman.


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Torchwood: Miracle Day promotional pictures


The BBC have issued promotional pictures for Torchwood: Miracle Day - click on the images here for bigger versions. At the moment there is no airdate for the UK (though July 14 was mentioned at the press launch) - it airs in the US on July 8. Included is a synopsis for the 10~part series.
Imagine a day when nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next, people keep aging. They get hurt and sick but they never die. This is the premise of the highly-anticipated STARZ original drama series, Torchwood: Miracle Day, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions for STARZ, BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Worldwide. The new series, premiering on STARZ on July 8 at 10pm ET/PT, features John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Kai Owen, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havins and Bill Pullman.
Special guest starring actors in the cult sensation include: Arlene Tur (Eat Pray Love) and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under). The 10-episode, hour-long series will also feature an impressive list of guest stars: Wayne Knight (Seinfeld) C. Thomas Howell (Southland), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), John DeLancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Mare Winningham (Mildred Pierce) and Frances Fisher (Titanic).
Torchwood: Miracle Day begins with a day when nobody dies. The result: a population boom, overnight. With all the extra people, resources are finite. It's said that in four month's time, the human race will cease to be viable. But this can't be a natural occurrence - someone's got to be behind it. It's a race against time as C.I.A. agent Rex Matheson investigates a global conspiracy. The answers lie within an old, secret British institute. As Rex keeps asking "What is Torchwood?," he's drawn into a world of adventure, and a threat to change what it means to be human, forever.

Thanks to BBC Pictures & STARZ

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Paul McGann in "Luther"


The BBC have released promotional pictures of drama series Luther starring Paul McGann - click on the images for bigger versions. McGann plays Mark North in the show:
Despite their numerous differences Mark and Luther share a bond that cannot be broken through their grief for Zoe. For months now, they have found solace and comfort in one another's company and random late night games of chess. When Luther finds himself with a problem that he can't bring into his professional world, he turns to the man he utterly and completely trusts, Mark.


Thanks to BBC Pictures

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