Doctor Who The Power of the Daleks animation

The BBC has announced that The Power of the Daleks is to be released as an animated story.

The story was Patrick Troghton’s first as the Doctor and was broadcast as a six-part serial back in 1966. The BBC in their wisdom did away with their copies of the episodes in the 1970s and they are not known to survive. So for the last fifty years the story has only existed as an audio recording.

Well I’ve listened to the audio, read the script book and also read the novel version and it’s always been my most wanted Doctor Who story to be found.

Here’s the next best thing. All six episodes have been animated, something we have been told could never happen for budgetary reasons. The story will debut on the BBC Store service on 5 November 2016, exactly fifty years after the first broadcast. Then it will be out on DVD from 21 November.

Here’s the temporary DVD image from Amazon.

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This is a nice bit of news to brighten up what has been a pretty crappy few months for me.

Copenhagen on DVD in UK (at last)

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Copenhagen is a 2002 TV drama that to the best of my knowledge has not had a DVD release in the UK until now. I’ve just found out there was a recent release on 29 February 2016 so I’ll be tracking down a copy very shortly.

So what’s it about?

It’s probably most notable now For staring a pre-Bond Daniel Craig in one of the three central rolls. He plays German atomic scientist Werner Heisenberg and the play revolves around his wartime meeting with Niels Bohr – played by Stephen Rea – in Copenghagen. Francesca Annis rounds out the cast as Bohr’s wife.

So basically you have three actors talking to each other in one location for 90 minutes.

But it’s gripping stuff. It delves into the motivations of Heisenberg as to why he wanted to meet Bohr during the war. And it neatly uses the concepts of nuclear physics as a metaphor as to the uncertainty of what was actually discussed.

I’ve seen this a few times but never actually owned a copy to watch so I’m very glad to see this released.

Childhood’s End Episode 1 review

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When I found out recently that there had been a tv miniseries based on Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke my interest was aroused. I need to declare and interest at this point. It was reading 2010 Odyssey Two three decades ago which got me hooked on reading in general and a fan of Clarke’s fiction. In the decades since adaptations of his work seem to have been few and far between. Whatever happened the long promised movie of Rendezvous With Rama for example?

So a three-part version of Childhood’s End? I’m sold.

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Although to be honest it was never one of my favourites of Clarke’s, and my memories of the book are vague. But still…

So I watched episode on catchup the days after the Sky 1 broadcast. And so far I like what they’ve done.

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Yes, some of the detail has changed. The main character Stormgren was the UN Secetary General in the book. Now he’s a farmer picked by the alien Supprvisor Karellan as the point of contact between the Overlords and the people of Earth.

But other things have been kept. The meetings between Stormgren and Karellen take place in a room with one-way glass. And the Freedom League is still there voicing opposition to mankind no longer having control of their own destiny. And of course we don’t get to see what the aliens look like until the end of the first part and then we discover why they were wise to hide their appearance.

Stormgren is played by Mike Vogel who I know best from playing that nice Barbie in Under the Dome to show. He also played a not so nice corrupt cop in season one of Bates Motel.

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As an aside I like the hotel room that Stormgren meets Karellen in. I’m sure that’s a nod to the climax of 2001 A Space Odyssey and the room that Dave Bowman finds himself occupying.

Also mention must be made of Charles Dance who voices the unseen Karellen perfectly.

I’m sure there will be viewers complaining about the “big alien spaceships hovering over all the world’s capitals” as seen in V and Independence Day. But remember that Clarke’s novel predates both of those by many decades.

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One very effective addition to the story that was not in the book was the way that Karellen first talks to the people of earth. Images of the dead appear and talk to their family members, all reciting the same words. Very creepy.

I will certainly be watching the next two parts.

And in the meantime as an added bonus it’s got me to dig out my old paperback of the novel and I’ve started reading it again.

The 100 Season 3 episodes 1 to 5 review

Last year I somehow managed to write a review of each episode of The 100 Season 2 each week after the broadcast. Alas this year I’ve not managed to do the same for season 3. I believe we are up to episode 5 or thereabouts in the UK. So consider this a catchup review of the episodes so far.

Season 2 ended with Clarke being forced to kill everyone in Mount Weather after being betrayed by Lexa and the Grounders. She then left the rest of her people and walked off into the wilderness.

Meanwhile the former Chancellor Jaha was looking for the mythical City of Light and eventually found a preserved mansion and a holographic lady who had a nuclear bomb. At the time I remember expressing some disquiet that they were going for a more overtly sci-fi storyline rather than sticking with the “what if” aspect of the story.

Season 3 starts a few months on. The people from the Ark have consolidated their landing site and have now named the burgeoning town Arkadia. They have negotiated a truce with the Grounders; hostilities will be avoided if everyone keeps to their territory.

Early in the season our Ark people find another set of Ark survivors from the farm station that landed some distance away from the main crash site. They are led by a man called Pike who is fairly bitter that many of his people were killed by Grounders. He and his companions are pretty much of the mind that the only good Grounder is a dead one.

Part of the truce with the Grounders is that Mount Weather is off-limits, understandably so since many Grounders were taken there to have their blood extracted by the Mountain Men. But the temptation is there to use the resources and eventually Abby agrees to send a group there including Raven and Bellamy’s girlfriend.

Meanwhile Clarke is hunting and trading with the Grounders and pretty much keeping to herself. It transpires that various factions of Grounders are hunting for her as it is believed that she has great power that could be possessed by the Grounder leaders. She is eventually caught and taken to Lexa who explains that the Ice Nation, one of the twelve clans, is growing more aggressive.

Lexa proposes to make the Sky Crew one of the clans in her alliance. Kane and Abby agree and Kane takes the Grounder brand on his arm to seal the deal. In return Lexa sends a force of Grounders to Arkadia to help defend it from the Ice Nation

However the Ice Nation throw a spanner in the works. They seem to have a survivor from the Mountain Men who tells them about the self destruct mechanism. An infiltrator sets it off killing everyone inside the mountain including Bellamy’s girlfriend. Raven is one of the only two survivors.

Back at her city Lexa is challenged for the leadership of the Grounders. Rather than choose a champion she decides to fight. She faces the son of the Ice Queen in an arena and it’s pretty tense stuff. I was convinced she was toast actually. But she gets the upper hand and wins the fight. And rather than kill her opponent she throws a spear at the ice queen – who is watching the fight – and kills her. Thus her opponent, the prince, becomes the King of the Ice Nation and she gains an ally.

Back at Arkadia in the aftermath of the destruction of Mount Weather Pike has become more restless and militant. He convinces the other Ark people that the Grounder force nearby is a threat and becomes elected Chancellor. He immediately leads a force to kill the Grounders. Bellamy is happy to go along, no doubt influenced by the death of his girlfriend.

Pike also orders the Grounders inside the town walls to be interned. This includes Lincoln and some other Grounders that Abby was giving medical treatment to.

Lexa and Clarke come across the field of bodies when journeying to the Ark. Indra is the only survivor. Apparently Bellamy convinced Pike to let her live to bring a message to the Grounders. Kane sends Octavia outside Arkadia in secret to make contact with Lexa. She brings Clarke back with her to try to convince Bellamy that killing the Grounders is wrong. But he doesn’t listen and Clarke and Octavia have to escape the town.

It’s at this point that the former chancellor Jaha finally returns to the town with his message about the City of Light. He’s looking for followers that he can convince to join him. It appears that there is some sort of virtual reality afterlife available through the technology that the holographic lady has. I think we’re going to find out more about that soon.

One follower he appears to gain looks to be Raven who is dealing with the pain and the loss of mobility caused by her injured leg.

So after a quiet-ish start the season has quickly thrown up some complicated situations for our characters to deal with.

Agent Carter Season 2 UK airdate

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One of my viewing highlights of last summer was the eight episode run of Marvel’s Agent Carter on Fox. It involved Hayley Atwell being frightfully British and kicking arse in 1940s America in order to stop Howard Stark’s inventions falling into the wrong hands. What’s not to like about that?

The show originally appeared in the USA at the start of the year so I assumed that there about be a similar delay for the uk broadcast for season 2.

However it appears that we’re getting season 2 episodes just a few days after their American airdate. As far as I can tell the first episode of season 2 airs on Fox on 28 January 2016. (Source ww.digitalspy.co.uk)

Also it’s a ten episode season.

Nice.

Doctor Who Heaven Sent Review

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Ok, that was an interesting episode.

Spoilers follow

The previous episode ended with the Doctor being teleported away by Me (Arya from Game of Thrones). Now we discover his destination is a mysterious clockwork castle with shifting corridors. A menacing shrouded figure follows the Doctor through the castle and the only way to temporally stop the creature is for the Doctor to “confess” something. So it would appear that whoever built the structure wants information from the Doctor.

The Doctor also discovers a skull hooked up to the teleport machine and written in sand the word “bird”. Later we see the skull fall into the water around the castle and it joins countless other identical skulls.

The Doctor sees the stars in the night sky and realises he is 7000 years from the time period he was teleported from. But he’s convinced that he has not time travelled. How is this possible?

He finds a diamond wall in one room and he decides it’s the way out. He starts punching the wall while reciting part of a Brothers Grimm story about a bird that wore away a diamond mountain with its beak. The shrouded creature catches the Doctor and fatally injures him. The Doctor crawls back to the teleporter and uses his body as the energy to rematerialse his younger self as he first appeared in the castle.

And then we discover that this process has been repeating for 7000 years. Indeed we get a montage of the Doctor repeating the loop into the future for thousands, millions, even billions of years. Each time we see him he’s worn away a little more of the diamond wall until eventually he breaks through. On the other side is Gallifrey.

OK, so, wow.

I have to say I picked up on the loop nature of the story early on when the Doctor changed his wet clothes for dry copies of the exact same clothes in front of a fire. He then leaves his wet clothes to dry in the same position as the ones he found. But it still fun seeing the nature of the loop unfold.

Also the montage at the end reveals that the Doctor had become aware of the loop thanks to the “bird” clue he left himself and he will keep wearing away at that diamond wall for as long as it takes.

At one point the Doctor says “I will never ever stop”. I guess he meant it literally.

It’s worth pointing out that the episode features the Doctor totally alone in that castle. There is no one else to talk to or interact with. Well, there’s the shrouded creature but it never speaks. At some points we join the Doctor in an imagined Tardis console room and we do see Clara with her back turned writing on a blackboard. At one point the imagined Clara does speak to the Doctor. But otherwise it’s Peter Capaldi by himself being mesmerising and amazing.

But from a storytelling point of view what’s going on?

It looks like the Doctor has been trapped in his confession dial, an item that we have seen in previous episodes this series. By its design we can see it is obviously Gallifreyan in origin and now we observe it’s clearly bigger on the inside. It would appear that the dial ends up on Gallifrey when the Doctor escapes. But is it before or after the Time War?

There’s also been some guff this series about a “hybrid”. Apparently it’s supposed to be a Time Lord-Dalek hybrid. But at the end of this episode the Doctor dismisses that. Instead he says the hybrid is actually “me”. But does he mean himself?

Keep in mind the uncomfortable line in the 1996 TV move when the Eighth Doctor (played by Paul McGann) claimed he was half human (on his mother’s side).

Or perhaps the Doctor mean’s the character Me, i.e. Arya from Game of Thrones?

Either way we will find out next week in a Gallifrey-flavoured climax.

And I bet Clara is back.

Doctor Who Face the Raven Review

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Be warned, Big Spoilers follow.

Very quick plot summary. The graffiti artist Rigsy from last year’s Flatline phones up the Tardis to ask for help with this mysterious tattoo he found on his neck which is counting down to zero. The doctor helps him find a secret street in the middle of London where aliens live in disguise. And guess what, Arya from Game of Thrones is in charge of things.

Apparently Rigsy killed some alien woman and the countdown is to his death as a punishment. Along with some contrived memory loss.

It turns out that it’s a trap for the Doctor and Arya was somehow coerced into doing it for someone yet to be revealed. I guess we find out in the next episode and it may or may not be Missy. Yawn.

At one point Clara transfers the tattoo from Rigsy to herself as she’s convinced that Arya won’t let her die.

So basically this is the episode where Clara is toast.

Jenna and Peter were acting their little hearts out over Clara’s impending demise. She made the Doctor promise not to take revenge on the secret alien folk, etc. And then she goes out to die in slow motion. Death by Raven flying into her chest. In slow motion. It took about 23 minutes. Ok, so I exaggerate but it did take ages.

But the point is I didn’t feel any emotion. Because I just was not convinced that she is dead and gone. There are two more episodes left of the season and her departure just felt a bit forced. I’m convinced she will be back in a not-dead capacity.

Now maybe I’m totally wrong. But my point is that while I was watching the episode it’s what I thought. So I felt no emotion. At all.

Otherwise not a bad episode to be sure.

Doctor Who Sleep No More Review

I really don’t have too much to say about this episode.

The story (such as it is) involves the Doctor and Clara arriving on a space station in orbit around Neptune. They encounter some soldiers on a rescue mission who are investigating… something or other.

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The episode was made in that dreadful gimmicky “found footage” format. Which I pretty much despise. And unusually there were no opening credits.

It was initially quite moody. And it looked like it was going to get interesting when Clara somehow “fell” into a sleep pod thing. There was a nifty little hologram of some girls singing that “Mister Sandman” song that I’ve heard in Back to the Future if my memory is correct.

But that’s as interesting as things got.

So. Get this. Users of the sleep pod things will have the “sleepy dust” (that gathers in the eye) eventually turning into a monster.

Yeah. Right. Seriously.

As the episode went on it just became more boring. I was looking at my watch constantly.

Some people love the episode. Some people hate it. I’m very much in the middle as I really don’t feel strongly enough about it to either love it or hate it. I just don’t particularly care about it.

At least I know that last year’s In the Forest of the Night is an episode that I hate.

This one, I just don’t care. It’s a bit of a mess frankly.

Oh well. At least it was not a two-part episode and hopefully next week’s will be more…. Good.

Doctor Who The Zygon Invasion/Inversion (and That Scene)

I’m not going to go into too much detail about this two parter, The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion. But it is worth discussing if only for one scene in particular.

Spoilers below.

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As far as the plot goes this two parter was ok. Basically it worked as a follow-up to a sub plot from the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor where the Doctor(s) helped broker a peace treaty between Earth and some shape-shifting Zygons.

Now two years on there are 20 million Zygons living peacefully on Earth in human disguise. A faction of Zygons don’t want to live under the conditions dictated by the peace treaty and are trying to start a conflict that will drag in all Zygons with the objective of taking over the earth.

Episode 1 had a bit of shape-shifting paranoia. It wasn’t a bad episode at all but there was a lot of faffing around and I felt strangely detached from it. There was a nice reveal at the end where it transpired that Clara had been replaced by the Zygon rebel commander.

But episode 2 on the other hand…

Initially there’s lots of guff featuring the “Osgoods”. Apparently the Osgood character is a “fan favourite”. Whatever.

And then there was some guff about some mysterious “Osgood Box”.

And then we get to the pivotal scene of the episode which was basically Mr Peter Capaldi showing what he can do.

And it was stunning.

INVERSION OF THE ZYGONS (By Peter Harness and Steven Moffat)

In a long ten minute scene that is largely a monologue Capaldi’s Doctor pleads with the Clara Zygon (whom he calls Zygella) and Kate Stewart of UNIT not to start a war. It’s amazing stuff. He’s on fire.

On a table in UNIT’s Black Archive are the Osgood Boxes, two super weapons that Zygella and Kate Stewart are considering activating. At one point Capaldi indicates the weapons and says “this is a scale model of war.” So for me this is forever the “Scale Model of War Speech”.

And it all ties into The Day of the Doctor where during the a Time War the Doctor almost activated The Moment, a Time Lord super weapon that would have wiped out both Gallifrey and the Daleks.

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My words can’t do justice to Mr Capaldi doing The Acting. It has to be seen.

Simply stunning.

It’s probably the most exciting scene in Doctor Who since the show came back.

Additionally the scene is more powerful because the makers don’t bother playing any music over the top. It’s Capaldi’s performance and the words that make it work. Then they loose their courage and they stick a bit of music in towards the end. But it doesn’t need it.

Mention must also be made of Jenna Coleman who plays the Zygon rebel commander Zygella. The scene also depends on her reactions to Capladi’s performance as he pleads for her to think, “a fancy word for changing your mind.”

Doctor Who The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived review

I didn’t get around to reviewing last week’s episode The Girl Who Died so I’m going to do both parts of the story now.

Actually I found last week’s instalment, The Girl Who Died, a fairly slight but still agreeable story. Basically some aliens called the Mire are attacking a Viking village. The Doctor has to help save them in a Magnificent Seven kind of way. He gets help from a young girl called Ashildr who is played by Maisie Williams, who of course is well known for playing Arya on Game of Thrones.

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Long story short, she dies. The Doctor initially is going to let her die but then there’s An Important Flashback to the Pompeii episode from the Tenth Doctors time. In that episode Capaldi played the father of the Roman family that Donna convinces the Tenth Doctor to save. So apparently that is the reason for the Twelfth Doctor choosing the Capaldi face.

Remembering this he resolves to save Ashildr by using some alien medical technology from a Mire helmet. This saves the girl but later the Doctor confesses to Clara that Ashildr will be pretty much immortal now as the alien technology will keep repairing her.

So overall it was an entertaining episode with the added bonus of seeing why the Doctor chose the face. But it’s pretty much just a set up for the second part of the story, The Woman Who Lived.

Here the Doctor arrives in the seventeenth century and encounters Ashildr again, only now she is a highwayman and goes by the name “Me”. She says she can hardly remember being Ashildr as she has lived so long. Indeed she has a library full of diaries which are her “memories”. Some have pages ripped out and says they are too painful to “remember”. She tries to convince the Doctor to take her with him on his travels but he refuses.

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Much of the story deals with Ashildr and the Doctor trying to retrieve an amulet of alien origin but it’s really just a backdrop for them to discuss immortality. Ashildr seems dismissive of ordinary humans as their mayfly lifespans make them little more than smoke to her. The doctor has to try to convince her otherwise. So it’s an interesting dynamic to have with the Doctor talking to someone much like himself for once.

One of my favourite scenes had Rufus Hound as a rival highwayman Sam Swift who is about to be hanged. He’s practicing some (literally) gallows humour to keep the crowd entertained in order to delay the inevitable moment of his execution. The doctor is trying to save Sam’s life as well so there’s an impromptu double-act even down to some doctor-doctor jokes. Capaldi makes the unlikely premise work.

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At the climax of the episode there’s some guff about the alien amulet opening a portal to another world to allow some lion aliens to attack. This eventually makes Ashildr realise that she cares for mere mortals after all.

Later she and the Doctor talk some more and he says he can’t take her with him as they both need the company of ordinary people to makes them appreciate life. Ashildr promises to keep an eye on the Doctor throughout history. He’s not quite sure if it’s a threat or not.

Later the Doctor is back in the Tardis and Clara arrives. She shows him a photo of herself with a pupil. The Doctor notices a contemporary Ashildr in the background looking into the camera. Apparently she has been keeping her promise to keep her eye on the Doctor.

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So overall I quite enjoyed these two episodes. Some of the Doctor/Ashildr dialog was very good. And Capaldi is on top form.

Plus no Missy.

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