18 May 2024

Sunday, Munday, Zappy Days! (Review: 'Doctor Who', "Boom")

  • The last bit of Steven Moffat on Doctor Who was the Twelfth Doctor warning his future incarnations about consuming pears. That rather undersells the final speech he did.
  • An AI killing someone because they won't recover quickly enough and will consume more resources than the bottom line is happy with is pretty chilling. While something already done in Doctor Who.
  • We've definitely heard the name Villengard before - a past Doctor blew up their weapons factories and had them replaced with banana groves.
  • Using your own body as the bomb and turning you into a carriable memorial... that's dark.
  • Ncuti Gatwa spends most of this episode standing still on a landmine, unable to do much moving and yet delivers his finest performance as the Doctor in the five episodes we've seen in him so far.
  • A very good episode for Millie Gibson too as well. I wasn't expecting Ruby to get nearly killed in this one!
  • There were definitely things I was thinking about Munday Flynn. Like "she's wearing a lot of eye make-up" but not "that's Varada Sethu!", which didn't occur to me until I watched Unleashed straight after.
  • Not 100% sure about the writing for Splice though.
  • Susan Twist is going to be in every episode of this, isn't she?
  • Definitely an episode where the "power of love" saves the day. Here it just about works.
  • Moffat and RTD are both atheists and so take a couple of shots at organised religion. In fairness, they're not 100% wrong in some of their comments. As an Anglican myself, but not a marine of any form, I know my denomination has been pretty dodgy at times. The gag about "thoughts and prayers" also works well - it's become seen as a cheap refrain by politicians unwilling to do anything about gun control in the states to the point it can no longer be done straight.
  • The snowflake thing is pretty meaningful, it seems. I thought Clara, but that was actually a leaf.

Conclusion

Steven Moffat has on the whole been a superlative Doctor Who writer - it's rare he's ever written anything bad.

This definitely is an example of one of his best.

9/10

12 May 2024

My Millie screams better than your Millie! (Review: 'Doctor Who' 1.2, "The Devil's Chord")

  • I watched this the day after the first episode - I'd been out for much of the day on Saturday and generally limit myself to one DW episode a day.
  • Jinkx Monsoon eats the scenery like there's no tomorrow in this episode. It's like her volume switch is stuck or something. Also, making Maestro non-binary was a nice touch.
  • Going into the title sequence via the use of the piano version of the theme is a good one. However, the tune doesn't really work on one instrument, so cutting was wise.
  • The impression that I'm getting from the trailers is that Fifteen will be a lot more varied than past Doctors and to be honest, I'm pretty fine with that. He looks good in all of them.
  • Ruby Sunday does rather a lot of screaming in this episode and getting dragged across a floor by her feet. It's like Disney are deliberately trying to ape Stranger Things.
  • The Beatles singing rubbish songs was probably one of the best ways to get around the fact that they couldn't afford the rights to any of their songs - indeed, the use of "Ticket to Ride" back in 1965 has caused DVD issues.
  • The overall concept of someone stealing music from the universe works well.
  • Doing a modern-day take on that 1980 scene in "Pyramids of Mars" is probably needed for the modern audience. I was just too busy knowing it was a homage to appreciate it and wondering when the world got destroyed, as the London Eye is present there.
  • Would an American audience have heard of Cilla Black?
  • Nice call back to the Toymaker.
  • Of course, this is the episode that aired on Eurovision night...
  • Frankly by the end of this, I was finding it rather silly. The show has a far-out premise, but good writing generally keeps you from seeing the flaws until a while later. Not this one.
  • The musical number at the end was really, really quiet unnecessary and I found myself comparing it to "Idiot Control Now" from Mystery Science Theater 3000 and not in a good way.
  • Well, Steven Moffat has done next week's. He has done some good stuff over the years - his RTD1 era work was superb.
Conclusion

An interesting opening concept ended up falling apart by the end of the episode, which just got far too silly.

Frankly, I'd have taken five minutes off this one and given it to the first episode.

I hope this is the only RTD clunker of the season.

4/10

11 May 2024

Children and animals (Review: 'Doctor Who' 1.1, "Space Babies")

  • They've added a new bit to the title sequence, making it slightly longer and arguably much more enjoyable.
  • The opening was rather frenetic. A bit too frenetic frankly. Not sure that info-dumping all the key bits of the lore in the first ten minutes was really necessary.
  • Not overly used to Fifteen yet; he's got a rather different tone. Or rather different way of delivering the same sort of lines that other doctors would.
  • Ruby seems decent enough, but I would need more time to get used to her.
  • The music was rather too loud and distracting in places.
  • The butterfly effect bit was a decent short gag, but ultimately unnecessary.
  • The CGI animation of the babies was frankly a bit creepy.
  • Abandoning the station, but not being able to turn the baby machine off because it's illegal. I think that's a rather pointed comment about American abortion laws.
  • Some rather clever science fiction tropes here.
  • Ah, the Nannie filter... it's the sort of humour this show loves to do.
  • Also, you're not a companion these days until you've been been gunged or soaked it seems.
  • And RTD still hasn't outgrown toilet humour gags.
Conclusion

An enjoyable story, but still somewhat flawed. Could have done with being a bit longer to let some bits breathe.

8/10

02 April 2024

I feel sorry for the scenery (Review: 'Star Trek' 3.14, "Whom Gods Destroy")

As a general rule, if someone is bursting into laughter at Star Trek because of how ridiculous it is, then it's clearly not a good episode. This one would frankly be really suited to be accompanied by Emily Connor, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot.
  • Of course the asylum planet is called Elba.
  • Considering that mental illness at the time included homosexuality and some people still think it's one, I'm not sure I'd want an instant cure to all mental illness. It also appears to not have worked that well as I am sure there are plenty of crazy people in Lower Decks
  • Most insane people don't cackle to the best of my knowledge.
  • The chess problem was a good bit of thinking by the Enterprise crew.
  • There is a massive amount of hamming it up in this episode, by no means limited to Bill Shatner, although he does have his moments. Steve Ihnat (who died tragically young aged just 37) as Garth of Izar, eats a load of scenery in particular, along with Yvonne Craig.
  • Speaking of Yvonne Craig, best known for playing Batgirl in the 1960s Batman series, her character is the sort of "Green Skinned Space Babe" that most people think of when imagining TOS, complete with another skimpy costume from the dirty mind of William Ware Theiss. D'Vana Tendi would not be impressed.
  • Instant cellular metamorphosis? Really, that's just too silly even for Star Trek.
  • Garth of Izar pretending to be Spock is clever though.
  • Real power derives from the masses, not some farcical dining room ceremony!
  • An explosive that can be set off by dropping it isn't really a very practical explosive. "Hoist by his own petard" comes to mind.
  • The BBC skipped this episode in re-runs until the early 1990s because of the "torture" - I've seen much worse in 1970s Doctor Who.
Conclusion

Leonard Nimoy complained at length about the script for this and I can see why. This like many a work featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a few script passes away from actually being good.

But it really isn't. 

3/10

31 March 2024

Easter 2024

When someone has been a Christian for a while, it's not always easy to find something new to cover in the Easter story.

But there is still stuff to find. The Palm Sunday service last week mentioned how Jesus was putting his own twist on the traditional triumphant processions of leaders then and now; coming in on a much more humble animal to symbolise the true way of doing kingship.

Also, I recently learned how the fact the son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son having to feed the pigs was the lowest job he could get - remember pigs are unclean in Judaism.

Jesus came to free us from the heavenly consequences of our sin, although that doesn't necessarily mean getting off scot-free on earth. Not by a long chalk in some cases. We are still expected to act in a just and right way, which can mean owning up to our mistakes sometimes. Regardless of how many mistakes we make though, he still loves us. 

Happy Easter everyone.

26 March 2024

So, this 15-year-old girl puts on a proton pack... (Review: 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire')

I saw the new film yesterday at a rather different venue to my usual one - the Vue in Leicester Square, which has handprints of some famous actors at the entrance and a time capsule not to be opened until 2093.

The screen was much smaller than the ones in Romford, but all the chairs reclined.

Anyway, my comments on the film:

  • Mckenna Grace is again the MVP, as she was in Afterlife. She ends up on her own arc for much of the movie as Phoebe's forcibly benched on the grounds that she is, well, 15. However, she gets to demonstrate the fact that she's a real genius several times, including in the third act. Ghost Corps see Phoebe as the main character going forward and they're not mistaken in that choice.
  • Emily Alyn Lind's character is entirely absent from the trailers, but plays a vital role in the overall story.
  • Finn Wolfhard isn't frankly one of my favourite actors and I'm not really keen on Trevor Spengler in general. His most notable moment is an encounter with Slimer and that's saying something.
  • Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon have a good double act going, with his funny man to her straight woman. The "Busting makes me feel good" bit in the trailers is part of a longer and actually pretty good gag.
  • The old gang get some good material to work with, although Venkman doesn't really do all that much in the picture. Winston Zeddemore's overall leadership role works very well and I'd be happy to see him in other movies.
  • Kumail Nanjiani as Nadeem is arguably the comedy heart of the movie, with some great gags involving him, especially one bit in the climax.
  • Walter Peck is back and is a rather cartoonish foil for the Ghostbusters. The main villain of the piece is far more chilling, pun intended.
  • The visual effects look great throughout, although they might have driven the movie's budget up beyond the point it can be profitable.
  • The movie doesn't outstay its welcome, although there are some pacing issues in the first half with the climax somewhat rushed. The fact they had to do principal photography with the writers on strike - before the actors walked out themselves - meant that the opportunity The trailers are pretty misleading, but when are they not?
  • The 1984 score makes several welcome appearances in this movie.
  • The ending is a nice call back to the original movie too.

Conclusion

A highly enjoyable popcorn movie, or whatever your choice of foodstuff is, because I don't eat popcorn. It's not got the greatest plot in the history of movies, but does everything have to?

8/10