05 October 2015

Not Quite The Ace of Base [Under Siege] (Review: 'Doctor Who' 35.3, "Under The Lake")

This is an episode where I have varying and mixed impressions; so I'll go through them in some form of order and hope that this all makes sense to you... at least more than this episode made to me at times.
  • Starting on 21st November 2119 and then jumping forward three days; it should have been two days of course.
  • Well, they certainly lit the underwater facility much better than the one from "Warriors of the Deep".
  • The Twelfth Doctor is on decent enough form; definitely acting true to his character of someone who is too busy saving the world to care about social niceties - or reading the cue cards. I'm also liking the sonic sunglasses which add levels of functionality that the screwdriver didn't have.
  • Clara was good, but not overly so. I think I preferred her in the previous two episodes. I'm probably going to argue that this may down to the writer, Toby Whithouse, having not written for Clara before - or for that matter for the Twelfth Doctor (his last story was "A Town Called Mercy" before he worked on the single season 1970s spy show The Game).
  • The black man dies first; it's been a good few years since we had that happen in the show, I would say.
  • The 'ghosts' - well, we've had stuff like this before, but it was well done and certainly atmospheric.
  • Very interesting idea to have a deaf member of the base crew; although from my own personal experience, not all deaf people are completely mute.
  • The rest of the base crew were certainly well-played, but it wasn't explained why they seemed somewhat under-dressed. Scottish lakes are not known for being that warm.
  • Apparently flooding a nuclear reactor is a "common" crash procedure to absorb all the neutrons; it was done at Fukushima. But don't you have control rods to try first?
  • The ending was certainly an interesting one and it's nice to see some amount of time travel form the key part of the episode.

Entertaining enough, but nothing overly impressive. Hopefully part two will be better.


03 October 2015

Realtime Trains

Thought I'd mention this site, which I also own the app for:


It provides real time information on rail services, including freight services, so you can see what is likely to come past any particular station. Also, for many services, it tells you what type of train is booked to run it; so I today learned that I'm likely to get my first Pacer ride by the end of the month.

Not sure what to say about that.

28 September 2015


The Labour Conference will not be debating Trident after a motion on the matter failed to get enough support from trade unions.

I'm of two minds on Trident; I'd like to see a world without nuclear weapons, but am worried without them we'd have had another world war by now. The £80bn we're going to spend on replacement is a lot; but guaranteeing us against an invasion? That might be worth the price.

27 September 2015

In which Missy beats Root (Review: 'Doctor Who' 35.2, "The Witch's Familiar")

As I suspected, all the stuff that seemed to have happened in the cliffhanger turned out to be at rather misleading... well, I kind of didn't expect [spoiler] to go that early anyway.

This was a much more talky episode - not to say that there wasn't some action. We got many scenes between the Doctor and an arch enemy, the actor playing the latter having to rely on voice acting as he was under heavy prosthetics. It did seem a bit odd that he was suddenly being all introspective and remorseful... but the fact that it was unconvincing was probably meant to be the point.

One does wonder if the Doctor having to use that isn't going to cause problems for him later; that did seem a lot of stuff to use. Capaldi had another strong episode; a bit less manic in this one, but still very much nailing his version of the Doctor. I also rather liked the flashback scene near the beginning. It seems that 'vampire monkeys' are a real mythological thing.

Clara spent much of her episode encased in a Dalek - there is a reason for this and it kind of helps that Jenna Coleman is only 5'2"; it makes it easier for her to fit insider the casing of the 'current' Daleks, which were designed around Billie Piper's eye-line. Anyway, she has another good episode, especially her many scenes with another character.

Namely, Michelle Gomez's Missy. I described the character of Root from Person of Interest, played by Amy Acker, in an earlier post as the "most deliciously crazy and unpredictable one I've seen in my life". With apologies to Mrs. Acker, I'd have to say that Missy is arguably much more crazier in this episode - using a rather unconventional method of measuring the depth of a hole for one thing. That said, Missy definitely reveals that she is on the side of the baddies towards the end of this. As such, if I had to pick between her and the computer hacker from Texas to go in my adventuring party, the latter wins hands down every time as she probably wouldn't try to kill me.

The Daleks get some very interesting additions to their back-story - it's worth noting that Moffat has officially denied a long-standing rumour about them being contractually obliged to appear in every season - and in particular, some further levels of horror added to their story.

The conclusion sees a spot of classic timey-wimey on the part of Moffat and a considerable amount of classic era invoked; one does wonder if this was perhaps over doing it.

Finally, sonic sunglasses? Well, it gives another lot of merchandise to sell, that's for sure.


Not quite as good as the previous part of the story, but still a well told story that reaffirms the central creed of the Doctor.


21 September 2015

50 minutes of pure joy (Review: 'Doctor Who' 35.1, "The Magician's Apprentice")

I didn't really know what to expect from this. What I did not expect was for Steven Moffat to hit it not just out of the park but out of the city.
Firstly, the opening was superb. The hand mines were brilliantly realised and that reveal of the boy's name was something I did not see coming.
Having never watched The Thick of It, I had no idea just how funny Peter Capaldi could be. That scene with the guitar had me laughing out loud. However, this is not all a funny episode - Capaldi gets to show a wide range and has firmly nailed the Twelfth Doctor in a tale with links going back to the Fourth Doctor.
Clara Oswald is on fine sassy form in this episode; demonstrating the firm confidence of an experienced time traveller and also some very funny lines.
Missy returns here - no spoiler - and after the show doesn't even bother to explain how she survived last time  (indeed makes a point of not doing so) manages to be even crazier than before. Michelle Gomez is adept at combining comic material with real menace; this version of the Master will kill just on a whim.
UNIT turn up again and there's some good material for them including a great gag about the mythical lost city of Atlantis for the fans - there are a lot of these in the episode.
The Daleks are also back - we get a smorgasbord of models going back to the very start. To say more would be spoilery, but I was impressed and I find the Daleks over used myself.
Lastly that cliffhanger is one of the best in the show's history. The solution may seem obvious but this is not a show that always goes for that. We shall see.


I don't tend to give top marks to professional works unless they are pretty much perfect.
This was.


15 September 2015

75 years since the Battle of Britain

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the arguably climatic air engagement of the Battle of Britain.

If you think your job is stressful, just imagine what it must have been like for the pilots. At any moment, a bell could ring and you would have to scramble to your aircraft. Then engage a group of German fighters and bombers, knowing that any moment you could end up seriously injured or even dead. Getting shot down meant a difficult exit from a burning aircraft - no ejector seats back then.

Once that's done, land, then possibly do it again in a few hours.

Considering what they had to go through, I sincerely hope The Few will never be forgotten.

12 September 2015

So Jeremy Corbyn has won

Labour has just elected its most left-wing leader since the war in the form of Jeremy Corbyn. He now faces the much more difficult task of persuading a country that has decisively rejected Labour twice (we polled worse than the 1997 Tory result in the last two elections) to back his vision for the United Kingdom.

I hope this election doesn't end up resulting in very bad things for Labour... only time will tell.