Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum

Back in 2010, being a Doctor Who fan was like being in a beautiful relationship. It was exciting, invigorating, and despite sometimes having no idea what was going on, you were never less than engaged. Even as the years rolled by and the rough patches came and went, you still knew why you were together. The good times still materialised with unerring frequency, and when they did you felt that familiar flutter in your stomach which could only mean one thing: you were still madly in love.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Doctor Who: Arachnids in the UK

Doctor: 'I call people dude now.'

Four episodes in, I think it safe to say that the show's found its style and rhythm. Despite a few glitches, the Doctor's personality is pretty much established; Yaz, Ryan and Graham have been given rudimentary backstories; and we now know what sort of stories Chibnall wants to tell. The question is: are they stories we want to see and hear?

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Doctor Who: Rosa

Doctor: 'I did not warm to him.'

It was with some trepidation that I approached tonight's episode. With a few notable exceptions, historical episodes rarely portray their famous subjects favourably, and with Rosa Parks the focus, the likelihood of getting it wrong seemed all too probable. Putting the Doctor at the centre of a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement could've been disastrous. But was it?

Monday, 15 October 2018

Doctor Who: The Ghost Monument

Doctor: 'No. Guns... never use 'em.'

Despite praising the unChibbliness of last week's script, tonight's yarn had me reassessing my own enthusiasm. Yes, when you compare Chibnall's new Who stuff to his old, it doesn't seem to rely as heavily on countdowns or the pressing of random buttons, but it's still arguably over-simplistic. Why, I'm not altogether sure. Broadchurch was reasonably complex, with its multiple story layers, and mostly satisfying payoffs. So why do his new scripts seem so linear and lightweight?

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Doctor Who: The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Karl: 'I'm with him. We don't get aliens in Sheffield.'

First things first: whoever decided it'd be a spiffing idea to lead us virtually blind into the new series—with just a shitty teaser and two trailers entirely devoid of substance to guide us—deserves to be dragged naked through the streets of Sheffield. This episode was nothing like I was expecting—and it really wasn't my fault. They gave us nothing but generic blandness going in, so I expected generic blandness. Thankfully, it was pretty solid. Sure, it might not feel like Doctor Who yet, but it felt Doctor Who-ish.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Shetland: Season Four - Episode Six

Perez: 'Christ, Rhona. Do you think I want this to be happening?'

When the closing credits started to roll, I thought to myself: well, at least I guessed one of the killers. After some honest contemplation, I was forced to admit that the only reason I guessed who killed Lizzie was because at some point I've suspected everyone: Duncan, Drew, Kate... even Curly Haired Jigging Woman and Beardy Extra. So kudos to David Kane for writing a script that kept us guessing till the end, and then kicked us up the arse for daring to believe in justice.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Shetland: Season Four - Episode Five

Sandy: 'Jo, can you remember who did this to you? Was it Thomas Malone? Was it your ex-husband?'

Sandy finally managed to ask some sensible questions this week, only to be scuppered by Jo's knackered throat and the old witness-out-of-commission ploy. At least we know who gave Jo a mullering, although we're still in the dark as to whether she has any deeper involvement in the story. After the appearance of her shady can't-tell-the-truth-for-shit husband, I'm guessing so, but it was nice to see a cliffhanger with consequences.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Shetland: Season Four - Episode Four

Perez: 'Nobody's better off dead.'

If last week's sinister music, sombre faces, and speeding vans were anything to go by, Tosh and Jimmy should've been in the shit tonight. Spoiler alert: nothing dramatic happened. I may have been wrong about the vans' occupants being disreputable halibut salesmen, but the truth was only marginally less fishy: it was simply the local constabulary wanting a chat. Stay tuned to see this week's cliffhanger explained away as Jo slipping on a banana skin and knocking herself out on an inconveniently placed easel.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Shetland: Season Four - Episode Three

Perez: 'This isn't your case any more. You had your chance over twenty-three years ago, and you blew it.'

I was ready to dislike this week's episode. For me, Shetland is at its best when it's telling parochial stories about island folk, so I wasn't sure the temporary shift to urban far-right politics would work. Turns out my concerns were unfounded: as well as providing some lovely scenery, the coldness and remoteness of the Nordic countryside were a great tonal match for the subarctic archipelago.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Shetland: Season Four - Episode Two

Tosh: 'Twenty-four seven I'm keeping it together. And it's exhausting.'

One thing that's concerning me this season is the return of Cassie and Tosh. Don't get me wrong, I love having them back, but you have to wonder why they're back. If last season taught us anything, it's that the show doesn't shy away from hurting Tosh, and in a story centred around the murder of young women, you have to worry for Cassie. It's uncertain yet whether Alan Killick is guilty of anything more than loving someone who didn't love him back, but on an island as small as Shetland, the murderer can't ever be more than a stone's throw away.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Shetland: Season Four - Episode One

Malone: 'You know, your daughter didna deserve this. But you did.'

If there was ever a perfect time to watch Shetland, it must surely be a cold February night, with the wind howling around the eaves, rain thrashing the latticed windows, and a gigantic bowl of porridge on your lap. I unashamedly love Shetland. Whether that's because it's so different from other UK detective dramas, or because I think the sun shines out of Ann Cleeves' bottom, who can say? What I do know is that Tuesday nights just got a whole lot murderier.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time

Doctor: 'You're right, you know. The universe generally fails to be a fairy-tale. But that's where we come in.'

I'm in two minds about this year's Christmas episode. On the one hand, it tugged at my heartstrings, making me laugh, cheer, and cry. On the other, it made me wince, frown, and basically wonder who'd nicked the plot. It was a bit sparse, wasn't it? I'm not against villain-less episodes, but there really didn't feel like much of a story, and although the emotional stuff got me in the feels, even that felt somewhat unsatisfying.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls (2)

Doctor: 'Bill. I will fix this. I will get you back again, I swear.'

Despite not being Moffat's finest season, this was a powerful finale. The Master and Missy, although perhaps slightly underused, traded tremendously entertaining, sometimes moving, dialogue; Bill's story came to a surprisingly uplifting conclusion; even Nardole's journey, despite my earlier reservations, felt completely worthwhile. And I loved that final scene. If it means we get a two Doctors Christmas episode, then I'm as happy as a Doctor with two hearts.