Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Doctor Who: Resolution

Doctor: 'They've got the best balloons.'

After a season devoid of returning monsters, this was Chibnall's first delve into the show's back catalogue, and was a mostly valiant attempt. Two of the main complaints I had about last season were the boring villains and the character development being either too simplistic or non-existent. So bringing back the Daleks, and spending time focused on Ryan's relationship with his father, should've been an instant win, right?

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Doctor Who: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

Doctor: 'Come on, fam.'

As with last week's episode, this felt like a story plump with ideas, few of which managed to gain traction. The return of Tzim-Sha wasn't entirely unwelcome, but let's be honest: seeing him again was as surprising as seeing Graham and Ryan's fist-bump. Traditionally, the season finale is a time for spectacle, grandiose storytelling, and the return of epic foes. Instead, we got a bloke with a face made of teeth getting shot in the foot.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Doctor Who: It Takes You Away

Hanne: 'My Dad would never just leave me! Okay!'

Errr... sure, Hanne. Anyway, following on from last week's slight upturn in quality, tonight's episode provided a complex tale set against the backdrop of rural Norway. The setup was provocative, the unfolding narrative alluring, and again, the Doctor felt both familiar and authoritative. Shame they had to ruin it by having the Solitract manifest as a fucking frog.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Doctor Who: The Witchfinders

Doctor: 'Even me! Very handy under cover... set a woman to catch a woman.'

This was an episode which made me feel wistful for what could've been. If they'd aired 'The Witchfinders' after 'The Woman Who Fell to Earth,' instead of eight episodes into a lacklustre season, then I daresay I'd have felt mildly optimistic. The Doctor felt stronger, the setting was genuinely eerie, they drip-fed us a tasty dribble of Yaz's backstory, and the monster of the week was both freaky and fun. So why does it feel like a case of too little, too late?

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Doctor Who: Kerblam!

The Doctor: 'I'm The Doctor. I'm new. And you are?'

This episode was thoroughly absorbing, not necessarily because it was good, but because it had a lot going on, was deceptively layered, and had such an elusive central message. This season's been blighted by a general lack of complexity; well, tonight that all changed, and I'm not altogether sure it was deliberate. Let's dig in and become unconfused together. Maybe.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab

Doctor: 'Shouldn't have come. I'm too nice. This is what happens when you try to be nice.'

This week was an odd one for me. I watched the episode twice: the first time I came away disappointed, the second time I quite enjoyed it. Sure, it was riddled with the same issues that have thus far plagued Chibnall's tenure, but as with 'Rosa' the emotional content satisfied, the location was evocative, and an important moment in history was dealt with respectfully. We even got an unexpected villain. Us. Yeah... humans suck.

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.