Monday, May 22, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x06: "Extremis"


Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Daniel Neittheim

Missy (to the Doctor): "I am your friend."

One of the things I was hoping for with the tenth series was that Missy would resurface in a mid series episode to bolster the series a bit and it seems Steven Moffat was thinking a similar way. This is why this episode is the first of a three part story as Moffat seems determined to beat the mid series lull that sometimes happens to the show. Remember RTD pulled a similar tactic in Series 4 with both The Doctor's Daughter and The Unicorn And The Wasp.

In this episode we quickly learn that Missy is the one in the Vault, which is great because we all deduced that about three or four weeks, so at least it's out of the way and the episode itself can actually concentrate on why she's in the Vault. That answer was to prevent her execution on Carnathon where a group of people seemed determined to kill her off with the Doctor's help, once and for all.

Of course, the Doctor decided to actually save Missy's life and something tells me he intended to do that before Missy herself played the friendship card and considered being good (please, Missy, don't) and with Nardole's help sentenced her to the Vault. However in the present day this episode made it painfully clear that Missy's imprisonment is about to come to an end as the Doctor needs her help with a much bigger problem.

With the Missy stuff being relegated to flashbacks and being clumsily tied into the present day problem, that problem itself arose with the arrival of the Monks. The love children of the Pyrovilles and the Silence by the look and sound of them, this lot seem determined to take over the world by running some simulations to understand it first and this was where things got a bit confusing to be honest.

It seems for most of the episode that wasn't flashbacks, it didn't really happen. I mean the Doctor is still currently blind but between trips to the Vatican and it's secret library, the Haereticum, the White House and CERN all the while a dangerous book named the Veritas forced people into mass suicide upon reading it's deadly content while Bill and Nardole themselves took part in a rather volatile countdown before dying.

Then it turned out that none of this happened and the Doctor was testing the Monks, who going by the next episode will absolutely mean business for the TARDIS. This episode just gave us a taster for them and it was a decent enough one with them proving to be a rather genuinely exciting enough menace. 

I have to admit that while the simulation scenes had their moments and it was rather nice bouncing between different times and worlds for this one, I'm not sure if the flashbacks and the simulation tied as well as they could've done. I get that Missy will play a role in stopping the Monks and inevitably escape to set up the finale but it felt like it could've had a little more finesse. Other than that though, this was a great return episode for the current Master.

- Bill's 'date' with Penny was interrupted by the arrival of the Pope Benedict IX (played by the same actor who played Rocco in Turn Left) and Moira seems oblivious that Bill is gay.
- We got no continuity from Missy's last moment in The Witch's Familiar. Surely, her 'clever plan' is going to be seen later though.
- This episode might have killed the current US president but it didn't really though.
- Some nice references to Grand Theft Auto and Super Mario Bros in this one too. I also like that the Doctor's current predicament now means the show can actually justify those sonic sunglasses.
- River's diary showed up in this episode and she was the one who sent Nardole to look after the Doctor and to give him an ass kicking if needed.
- Chronology: 2017 Bristol for Bill's real scene at the end. Also the flashbacks with Missy were set in between The Husbands Of River Song and The Return Of Doctor Mysterio.

Extremis certainly seemed like a return to the Moffat we know and are sometimes divided upon/really love after the previous five episodes played it more straightforward like. The episode itself was purely set up and while both flashback and simulation scenes could've meshed a little better, this was still a great set up for the Monks, who really do have the potential to be a great bunch of monsters.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, May 19, 2017

2017-2018 TV Season: Shows To Watch

It's that time of year again. Amid the news of shows being cancelled and renewed, we also have a current selection of TV series waiting in the wings for the upcoming 2017-2018 television season.

1: 9-1-1 (FOX, mid-season)



Following the expected cancellation of Scream Queens, Ryan Murphy hasn't let go his association with FOX as both himself and Angela Bassett have teamed up for a mid-season show on the channel. The series will be a fast-paced exploration into the lives and careers of first responders – cops, paramedics, firefighters – the people who put their lives on the line to save others with Bassett herself taking on a leading role in the series. Whether or not this series will rule her out for the upcoming seventh season of American Horror Story, I'm not sure but here's hoping we'll see Angela in both shows.

Press Release: http://www.spoilertv.com/2017/05/fox-announces-2017-18-primetime-schedule.html

2: Black Lightning (CW, mid-season)



Adding to the CW's already packed DC TV roster, Black Lightning will also be making it's debut in early 2018. Starring Cress Williams in the title role, the series will focus on Jefferson Pierce, who retired from his superhero persona Black Lightning nine years ago, is forced to return when his daughter Jennifer (China Anne McClain), who is hellbent on justice and a star student, gets recruited by a local gang. Despite having the same producers and showrunners, the series will not be connected to the current Arrow universe, which is a pity as the trailer certainly impressed.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZpJeuXo2CY

3: Dynasty (CW, Wednesdays 9pm)



Another year, another reboot and following the likes of 90210 and Melrose Place, the CW are probably hoping their version of popular 80's soap Dynasty will be as successful as the former rather than the one and done of the latter (which I suspect is a fate that will befall this show). The trailer was a little better than expected, mainly due to wayward brother Steven Carrington (James Mackay) copping up with Sam Flores (Rafael De La Fuente) - a gay male version of the character Sammy Jo from the original series. The rest of the trailer sees a marriage between patriarch Blake Carrington (Grant Snow) and the scheming Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley) as well as a rivalry between the latter and daughter,  Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies). It looks okay but it feels like it should be on something like ABC rather than the CW if I'm being honest.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uxacuu_vg8Y

4: Inhumans (ABC, Fridays 9pm)



Oh dear. This one really could be a non starter, couldn't it? First of all, like Once Upon A Time and Quantico, it's being dumped in the Friday night death slot as a precursor to Agent Of Shield's fifth season and there are only eight episodes. The trailer so far has only been a cryptic voice over of doom but at least the cast look with Anson Mount as Bolt, Iwan Rheon as Maximus, Serinda Swan as Medusa and Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon: to name a few. The first two episodes will get an IMAX cinema airing before their television debut in September.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEVDBBaH6wM

5: Krypton (Syfy, mid-season)



Um, is this really a prequel anyone wanted? I know both Gotham and Smallville have shown that prequels can work for a good amount seasons and be pretty compelling in their own right but seeing as both shows had characters we generally knew and cared about, it made watching them a little easier at times. Krypton on the other will mainly focus on Superman's grandfather, Seg El (Cameron Cuffe) and Lyta Zod (Georgina Campbell) in the early days of the planet's life. Produced by David S. Goyer, there was rumours that the series was meant to have a link to the current DCEU but it seems that this will be a standalone series. It looks decent from the trailer but I kind of feel that Supergirl has us covered at the moment.

Trailer Description: http://tvline.com/2017/04/18/krypton-trailer-superman-prequel-series-syfy/

6: Roseanne (ABC, mid-season)


You didn't think Will & Grace was going to be the only sitcom to get revived this season, right? Well, there's also Arrested Development getting a fifth season on Netflix but it seems that ABC will also be bringing back 90's sitcom Roseanne in 2018 with nearly all of the original cast returning to the series. Sarah Chalke will play a different character and Johnny Galecki hasn't been confirmed yet.

Press Release: http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/roseanne-barr-reviving-roseanne-for-new-season-in-2018-w482626

7: Star Trek: Discovery (CBS/CBS All Access, tbc)



I know I highlighted this one last year when there were no cast members announced but with all the main players announced, Bryan Fuller stepping down and an increase from thirteen to fifteen episodes, it finally seems like we're on track here. Former The Walking Dead actress Sonequa Martin-Green takes on the role of USS Discovery officer Michael Burnham, the protagonist of the series along with Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs and Rainn Wilson to name a few. It seems now that the series will be set ten years prior to Star Trek: The Original Series. The trailer certainly impressed and here's hoping it fares a lot better than Enterprise did at times. UK viewers will be able to see the show courtesy of Netflix.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rj4inzcAKk

8: The Gifted (FOX, Mondays 9pm)



And now we've got another X-Men linked series here. Following Legion on FX, Fox will be airing The Gifted, starring Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker as a couple - Reed and Caitlin Strucker with two mutant children, Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lynd) and Andy (Percy Hynes White) whom they will do anything to protect from the government. The pilot episode is also directed by Bryan Singer, who serves as an executive producer to the series.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTzW9rMcbzk

9: The Orville (FOX, Thursdays 9pm)



When he's not lagging with both Family Guy and American Dad, Seth Mcfarlane is back on the live action front with this Star Trek (more like Galaxy Quest) inspired space series, this is a one-hour science fiction series set 400 years in the future that follows the adventures of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory vessel. Its crew, both human and alien, faces the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of regular people in a workplace…even though some of those people are from other planets, and the workplace is a faster-than-light spaceship. I have to admit it looks funny enough.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy9sKeCE8V0

10: The X Files (FOX, mid-season)



Let's be honest - this one wasn't a shocker. While the tenth season wasn't the best (albeit an improvement on previous seasons) and a little too short for it's own good, it was however a success and proof that audiences still hungered for the truth and in particular, Mulder and Scully. With the 25th anniversary of the show looming in 2018, the show will return for an eleventh season of ten episodes and hopefully a strong resolution for that dicey cliffhanger we were left with last season.

Press Release: http://www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/the-x-files/257640/x-files-season-11-set-for-midseason

11: Will & Grace (NBC, Thursdays 8pm)



Following it's successful Election special scene from last year, the show is back once again for twelve new episodes and even in it's own original-ish timeslot as well. To really get things into motion, NBC have released a musical themed trailer as Will, Jack and Karen all do their best to persuade Grace to embrace the return. While I felt the show had ended well enough back in 2006, I am actually looking forward to seeing the gang once again.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaZS9_69KF0

12: Young Sheldon (CBS, Mondays 8.30pm)



Did we really need a spin-off on a younger Sheldon Cooper of all characters? I mean, I like the character enough on The Big Bang Theory but I wasn't clamouring for a spin-off with him and I imagine others weren't either. The trailer for this prequel series sees the young genius, played by Iain Armitage as a nine year old in Texas dealing with his religious family and the pressures of school as well. The trailer was a little better than expected but again, it feels a little unnecessary as a series though. The show along with it's parent show will move to Thursdays during November though. Jim Parsons will also be involved with the series.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11zpOOYAXD4

There's a list of the potential big hitters for the next television season. Now we just have to wait for some UK transmissions and see how they fare.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sense8 - Fear Never Fixed Anything


Written by Lana Wachowski & J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by James McTeigue

Wolfgang (to everyone): "Fear never fixed anything."

A very true sentiment there and here we got an episode where courage a little to the forefront for several of the Clusters. For Will and Riley, it was about them reaching out to other Clusters in a lovely public event, while at the same time putting themselves further into Milton and the BPO's cross hairs.

It was a reckless thing for them to do, but it's not like they didn't have a choice. Reaching out to other Clusters isn't a guarantee that the BPO can be taken down but at least the gang are actually trying to do something and seeing them come together during that moment while the introduction of another sensate in the form of Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy was a sublime little moment.

Of course while this main plot is still advancing slowly enough we did have Bug introduce Nomi and Amanita to The Guy who was able to give them the tech to make them both "e-dead" while at the same time indicating that she will own the mystery person a favour at some point in the series. On the other hand, at least Nomi and Amanita can breathe a little easier for the time being.

Elsewhere Capheus found himself being singled out by a political party who wanted him for their group while learning a little more about Zakia from some of the most obnoxious interns going. Having read the spoilers for this season, I already know that what we learned about Zakia won't stand in the way of them getting together but it was hard to gauge how Capheus actually felt about the news itself though.

Meanwhile Sun had a lovely reunion with both her dog and former mentor while punching the television when her horrible brother appeared on it. I'm loving the more vengeance oriented Sun at the moment and the inclusion of Detective Mun, who might be more of an ally than a problem for Sun is also a nice twist. Also shallow note, he's bloody gorgeous too.

As for Lito - I did sympathise with him getting offered so many dud roles but at the same time, I also liked that a past encounter he had with a bar manager resulted in something positive and that he found the courage to accept an invitation to a pride event in Sao Paolo as grand master as well. Not to mention the fanboy moment between him and Bug made me howl with laughter as well.

- I'm sensing a lot of in family fighting between Kala and Rajan's respective clans at the moment. Wolfgang also tried to distance himself a little from Lila this week.
- The Guy was wearing a V For Vendetta mask when they met Nomi, Amanita and Bug in the cinema. I see what you did there, Lana.
- Standout music: Nice use of What's Going On once again.
- Chronology: From where Polyphony left off.

Not quite as strong as the previous episode but still rather impressive though. Fear Never Fixed Anything certainly saw our group conquering some fears but Milton is still pretty determined to take them out and he's getting creepier with each passing episode too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x16: "Absent Child"


Written by Attica Locke & Malcolm Spellman
Directed by Millicent Shelton

Diana (to Angelo, re Bella): "They ruined one of mine so I took one of theirs."

Well, I guess that rules out my theory about Andre being the one to snatch Bella. I guess that's a good thing, even though we had that really tense scene where he physically attacked Anika and revelled in her suffering over Bella being taken off her.

Much as I hate Anika as a character and want her to suffer over what she did to Rhonda, even I have to feel bad for her and Hakeem over the Bella situation. Oh well, at least this episode didn't waste too much time in revealing that Diana actually was responsible as she showed her hand to Angelo at the end of this one when Bella was in her possession.

As revenge schemes go, it's definitely taking things way too far but this war between the Lyons and the DuBois has definitely escalated. Cookie even got Shyne and his men to beat Angelo for information, even though he was unaware of his mother's misdeed during that particular scene. With the two part finale coming this week, I think Diana is going to regret going after the Lyons through Bella though.

Speaking of the Lyons though, the in fighting didn't really stop enough for them to get their shit together over getting Bella back. Andre kept backbiting when Cookie was trying to cook up a deal for the When Lucious Met Cookie album while Lucious and Jamal did clash a little over the mix for a song for the Inferno album.

However while Andre and Cookie still clashed and the latter delivered one hell of a smack down on Nessa (who then turned on Andre), at least Jamal and Lucious managed to sort out their differences and come together with a better version of the song they had been fighting about. I guess for that bit though we had Leah to thank for. She thinks there's an angel in Jamal, so I guess she's spot on there.

- Giuliana continues to be in the way of an inevitable of Cookie/Lucious reunion and it's like she's aware of it too.
- No Tiana and Becky this week.
- Standout music: Hakeem's Elevated and Jamal and Fetty Wap's The Father, The Sun.
- Chronology: Not long from where Civil Hands Unclean left off.

Absent Child is another strong episode and it certainly had it's moments. The feud with the Lyons and the DuBois has certainly gotten nasty and I can't wait to see how it unfolds in the last two episodes, especially with Bella caught in the mix.

Rating: 7 out of 10

My Review of Gotham's 3x18: "Light The Wick"


Written by Tze Chun
Directed by Mark Tonderai

Barnes (to Kathryn): "James Gordon is guilty and I will be his executioner."

Is it me or is the Court of Owls just basically snatching all of the male cast at this point? With Gordon in their pockets of sorts and Nygma's hubris getting himself snatched by them along with Bruce in the middle of nowhere, this week two more men ended up in the Court's hands.

First of all, Barnes got snatched during a transfer from Arkham gone. Barnes is hardly the most interesting of characters for me and his Executioner act just hasn't been as interesting as it could've been. Here though we saw him getting captured by Talon while Jervis Tetch looked on in amusement and then we saw Kathryn giving Strange the go ahead to extract parts of the virus from Barnes for her own little experiment.

The experiment at first being some random test subject getting a little rabid before moving onto bigger things such as a bunch of socialites being endangered by the Court's whole scheme to cleanse Gotham and whatnot. Needless to say all the effort Gordon made to get into Kathryn's good books went out the window when he teamed up with Oswald (that reunion was particularly delightful) to cause more headache for the Court.

This lead to Kathryn realising that Gordon was a liability. She should've picked up on that bit a lot earlier but the end scene with Barnes breaking out of his restraints and vowing to kill Gordon didn't really inspire much. Can we just lose Barnes already? We need to lose some cast members and Barnes truly is expendable if I'm being honest.

As for Oswald, well he spent his time away from Ivy this week to hook up with Gordon in his mission to get back at Nygma. The only thing Oswald achieved was that he antagonised the Court by having Firefly roast Talon a bit but at least he got the reunion he wanted with Nygma. Except for the bit where they're both in cages but the reaction the two had to seeing each other was simply the best bit about the whole episode.

As for the rest of the episode, Leslie somewhat tested my patience in this one and I was kind of glad when Gordon snapped at her while Ivy briefly interacted with Tabitha and managed to break Selina out of her coma. Seeing Ivy having Selina's back was one of the highlights of this episode along with the latter in full on revenge mode too. Bruce on the other hand seemed to be in more training mode and while his scenes were good, they didn't really progress anything to be honest.

- Strange somehow managed to cure Fish before they got seperated from each other. She'll be back in two weeks time.
- No Barbara or Butch in this episode and I liked the parallels between Barbara/Tabitha and Ivy/Selina here.
- The show has been renewed for a fourth season but will be moving to Thursdays when it returns in the autumn.
- Chronology: Not long from where The Primal Riddle left off.

A solid episode but not entirely the best we've had. While I did like some of the returns we had in Light The Wick, it was really the last scene and the Ivy/Selina bits that made the episode for me. I am liking the Court stuff but I'm also eager for it to come to it's messy ending too.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Eurovision 2017

And it was that time of year again. Fresh after Doctor Who and dominating social media for at least three and a half hour to the confusion of Americans, the Eurovision was back.


And the winner turned out to be Portugal this time around. The song, Amar Pelos Dois (Loving For The Both of Us), performed by Salvador Sobral was something of a divisive win, going by social media. Clocking in 756 points, the song certainly had it's fans and represented the country's first ever win but at the same time, I found myself more drawn to songs from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Cyprus to name a few that might have been somewhat more deserving. Still though, while I found the song a bit overwrought for it's own good, I do think we've had worse winners in the past (and obviously better ones too). The male and female ratio of contestants seemed pretty on point with no real awful entries but there were some weaker ones in the mix too.


Of course with a male winner we also had a rather male dominated presenters with  Oleksandr Skichko, Volodymyr Ostapchuk and Timur Miroshnychenko taking the reins. I have to be honest, while I definitely can see why there was a commentary about having three white male hosts amidst the Celebrate Diversity banner this contest was trying to have, they were okay enough as hosts. I do think maybe two of them would've sufficed to an extent and to be honest, they only really came to life in one moment.


The spoof scene where the trio were being coached on being the best host by 2015 winner and 2016 presenter, Mans Zelmerlow, who managed to be his usual charming and fun self, if not quite as shirtless as he was when presenting with Petra Mode last year. That's three years in a row the guy has had a presence on the Eurovision and to be honest, I wouldn't object if they came up with a contrived reason to include him again next (and Petra too).


As for the rest of the night, we had a streaker who managed to get on stage during last year's winner Jamala perfoming again, which was annoying while the UK pulled in respectable numbers with Lucie Jones scoring 111 points this year. As for Ireland, once again our entry didn't make it into the final (we have got to stop using Louis Walsh, people), Russia bowed out of the contest itself and there was also the fact that our grown up hosts were somewhat upstaged by a little girl from Junior Eurovision. It was an interesting enough night but compared to last year, not quite as spectacular as it should've been though.

The Perfect Host Sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMFoRgqS5eE

See you again next year when Portugal host the ceremony.

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x05: "Oxygen"


Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Charles Palmer

The Doctor (to Nardole): "I still blind."

Okay, gonna be slightly controversial here but compared to some of the more hyped reception this episode received online, I found myself not really feeling it and to be honest, even I'm perplexed by this.

On paper, you've got a tense, claustrophobic base under siege thriller with some genuinely scary moments, a life or death peril for Bill, something happening to the Doctor that isn't magically fixed and plenty of scenes for Nardole that do wonders for his characters and yet, none of this stuff compelled me as much as it should've done if I'm being candid.

The episode started with a lecture about dying in space and then soon enough, our TARDIS trio were aboard a space station where most of the crew had been transformed into space zombies and the remaining ones - Tasker, Abby and Ivan were on borrowed time along with a blue skinned alien named Dahh Ren on the Chasm Forge.

This series and to be honest, every series since 2005 has had episodes with a political and a social tinge and most of the time they work perfectly. So far this series, this has been our third episode with something of a social commentary (both Smile and Thin Ice having their moments) and while the sentiments on capitalism are noteworthy, the delivery in which the episode goes about with them just fell very flat for me.

The idea of abusing a human work force by using the suits to cut off the oxygen at any given point (mainly when the works would outlive their usefulness) had potential and the tension certainly got ramped up when Bill herself fell victim to the dangerous suit, even though her dire predicament was also handy in actually solving the main problem itself.

The resolution to this particular plot point was probably the most unsatisfying we've had and the crew themselves were fairly underdeveloped to care about. It's a shame because Mathieson is an excellent writer and he's done with past characters like Perkins, Maisie, Gus, Rigsy and Ashildr but none of his guest cast here really stand out to be honest.

On the plus side though, Nardole came a little more into his own here. I spent a lot of last year not thrilled by the idea of him being a large presence this series but now I'm starting to warm more to the character and while his attempts of keeping the Doctor to commit to his promise to guard the Vault haven't been too successful, he's certainly engaged more now than he did at Christmas, which is good.

As for the Doctor, when we weren't getting lectures on the evils of capitalism and that fun lecture at the start in St Luke's University, we also had him going blind. Granted there was a moment where the episode looked like he had been cured but by the end of Nardole's castigating of him abandoning his Vault duties, we learned the Doctor was still actually blind. I know it's gonna sound terrible, pun wise, but damn, I did not see that one coming.

- Nardole has an interface ex-girlfriend named Velma. He does seem to go back and forth between being hostile and liking Bill as well I noticed.
- Charles Palmer who directed this episode previously helmed Smith & Jones, The Shakespeare Code and Human Nature/The Family Of Blood.
- Nice use of a Star Trek quote to open the Doctor's lecture with as well.
- The racism commentary between Bill and Dahh Ren didn't work as well as it could've done to be honest.
- I genuinely thought the episode would end with the Vault being opened but it looks like that will be in the next episode though.
- Chronology: Present Day Bristol and also whenever the Chasm Forge was meant to be based in.

I don't really want to go against the grain as such but Oxygen despite some great little moments here and there, was somewhat the weakest episode for me this series. I do however like that the Doctor's blindness wasn't magically cured and the consequences of that in the next few episodes should be interesting to see unfold.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Torchwood - Series 5 Is A Go (Courtesy of Big Finish)

Yeah, not quite the Series 5 I imagine most of us were hoping for but life post Miracle Day for Jack and Gwen is still happening, at least in audio form for now.


A twelve part series with the subtitle of Aliens Among Us, Torchwood's return will see both Jack and Gwen (with support from Rhys and Andy) rebuild Torchwood back in Cardiff and they won't be alone either. Joining them for the new series will be Mr Colchester (Paul Clayton), Ng (Alexandria Riley), Tyler (Jonny Green) and the enigmatic Orr (Sam BĂ©art).

It seems that things are getting much darker in Cardiff these days and the new recruits will play some role within Torchwood's future as the city has become much different since the last time we've seen it. Other potential surprises include the return of a character that should be dead and considering the amount that have died, it really could be anyone, right?

The first volume, comprising of the first four stories are titled Changes Everything, Aliens & Sex & Chips & Gravy, Orr (by Juno Dawson) and Superiority Complex (by AK Benedict) and will be released from August while the second and third volumes will be released from October and February 2018.

On one hand, I'm happy to see Torchwood getting a fifth series and I love the idea of it bringing it back to the Hub with new recruits alongside Jack and Gwen and given that the series will be overseen by Russell T. Davies, it's certainly canonical for now but I'm still hoping at some point, the show does make a television return.


Meanwhile an official picture has been released of the not so newly redesigned K9 (John Leeson) from the upcoming movie, K9: Timequake - or the one where our favourite metal dog faces off Omega supposedly. I had completely even forgotten about this movie to be honest and the redesign doesn't look that much different from the K9 series we had back in 2010. I think this movie is meant to be released sometime this year to mark the 40th anniversary of K9's debut but finding information on this has been scarce.

Torchwood - Series 5 News: https://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/new-series-5-of-torchwood-aliens-among-us

So, thoughts anyone on the Torchwood audio series or the K9 redesign?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sense8 - Polyphony


Written by Lana Wachowski & J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Jamie McTeigue

Raoul (to Lito): "There are people you meet in your life and for no logical reason, you feel connected to."

On this show, we know that's quite a literal thing. The previous episode saw Wolfgang meet another Cluster member in Lila as well as showing flashbacks to Lito's previous involvement with Angelica's fellow Cluster member, Raoul and this episode somewhat went into more depth with the latter and quite brilliantly too might I add.

From the last episode, Lito and Raoul met one another when the former was still closeted but there was definitely a nice connection with the two of them as we saw in flashbacks. In the present day though we met Raoul's father, who took to Lito and showed him a rather gruesome video of Todd being zombified by Milton while another flashback showed a heartbreaking moment where Raoul called his father in a near catatonic state with Angelica assisting him.

Right now, Raoul seems to be missing, so there's a chance he might actually show up in the present day and I certainly hope he does. Meanwhile Wolfgang told the rest of the gang about Lila and had a pretty interesting three way conversation between her and Kala in the bathroom. As for Lila, she did admit that she's somewhat working with Milton and told Wolfgang to find a way of getting the BPO onside. It's interesting that Lila isn't hiding her shadiness from Wolfgang.

Elsewhere we had Anamita in a pretty stunning sequence (in an episode that had plenty of them) where she had to avoid the overzealous Agent Bendix from getting to her while Nomi and the gang also experienced a protest in Mumbai (Kala's scenes with her mother) and Nairobi (Capheus being interview by Zakia again) as Riley went to a guy to learn more about the drugs that Milton uses to suppress being found by other Clusters. Lito and Kala's reactions during that particular scene were priceless.

As for Sun, she mostly had some great scenes with Ming-Jun but it didn't take long for the law to actually catch up with the pair of them. While Ming-Jun was prepared to go back to prison, Sun did try to escape and her rooftop hand to hand combat with Mun brought about some nice flashbacks as the two of them have a previous connection with each other that should make later encounters more interesting to watch.

However the real shocker of the episode came at the end with Jonas actually being killed and Milton making sure that Will and the gang saw it. It was brief but brutal enough and while I guess Jonas being killed was always inevitable, I'm surprised they did it here though. That being said, it really does go to show just how dangerous Milton has become now for everyone.

- No Hernando in this episode or Daniella. Bug's reaction to learning about the Sensates was as hysterical as the Lito/Riley hysterics used to help Will escape the museum.
- I'm surprised that Kala wasn't able to sense Lila during that scene but Lila could somewhat sense her though. I guess maybe Lila just wanted to make sure only Wolfgang could interact with her.
- Not really any sexy moments in the episode aside from Lito/Raoul briefly in flashback.
- Chronology: Exactly where Obligate Mutualism left off.

Easily the best episode so far. While I've enjoyed the first two episodes of this season, Polyphony was the one that really propelled things for me. The last scene was a shocker but the main plot is definitely ramping up a gear and as usual the character moments continue to be beautiful to watch as well.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 3x17: "The Primal Riddle"


Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
Directed by Maja Vrvilo

Nygma (to Gordon): "I'll admit I didn't see this coming."

It was only a fortnight ago that the Riddler had an episode with his name in it and now we've got another one after he skipped out on last week. This time around though there isn't a fun reprise of the Nygma/Lucius rivalry but a more muted and slightly predictable round of Nygma vs. Gordon as the pair clash over the Court of Owls this week.

Barbara's desperation to know more about the organisation who truly hold all the power in Gotham led her into acquiring Nygma's services to unravel this mystery sees the newly appointed Riddler going into full theatrical mode by killing a performance of Hamlet (literally, he does) and of course announcing his plans to kidnap Mayor Aubrey James.

On one hand, it's impossible to care or feel an iota of sympathy towards the grossly annoying and incompetent Aubrey but on the other hand, isn't endangering him just a tad boring for any aspiring villain, despite him being the mayor and garnering the right amount of attention? I did however find it rather hysterical that despite publicly announcing his intentions, Nygma was still successful in actually snatching the Mayor from under the GCPD with relative ease.

I also liked the scenes between Ed and Barbara in this episode as the two of them seemed to be mostly on the same page while Butch was doing his level best to drive a wedge between Babs and Tabs and when the latter sabotaged Nygma by helping Gordon, it seemed that a wedge between the two Sirens fell in place there.

As for the stand off with Gordon and Nygma, it was pretty decent. Both managed to outsmart the other while Aubrey remained background noise and then the Court of Owls came into play. The episode ended with Nygma being in their custody and Gordon cementing himself a membership for good measure.

Keeping with the Court, their plans to destroy Gotham led Other Bruce to show some conflict as well. Aware of the fact that he was dying and the city would soon perish, he went out of his way to persuade Selina to leave the city. Needless to say, that went down badly and resulted in Selina being chucked out of a window when she turned on Other Bruce. The moment totally went out of it's way to recreate that iconic scene from Batman Returns and it worked pretty damn well to be honest.

Meanwhile after taking up a fair chunk of screen time last week and being the best thing about it, both Oswald and Ivy have a reduced role this week but it was mainly for building up Oswald's army of freaks. By the end of this one, both Mr Freeze and Firefly joined the team and they all retreated back to Oswald's abandoned manor for good measure. Now we just need to add Fish into the mix again.

- Firefly has been recast with Camilla Perez now in the role. The animosity between Firefly and Freeze is still there though.
- Leslie is also going to stick her nose into the Court of Owls, which nearly all of the cast are now involved or seeking answers about this lot already.
- No real Bruce in this episode and Alfred seemed a little too slow on the uptake of Fake Bruce taking his master's place.
- Chronology: More or less from where These Delicate And Dark Obsessions left off.

The Primal Riddle certainly had it's moments. Nygma in full theatrical mode was amusing enough, though I am curious as to what the Court of Owls will do to him now they've got him. Barbara and Tabitha falling out has some interesting potential along with Selina's own transformation and the little army that Oswald and Ivy are currently building up.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, May 08, 2017

Sense8 - Obligate Mutualism


Written by Lana Wachowski & J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Lana Wachowski

Croome (to Will): "What I want from you is time and trust."

And we're back. Five months ago, we were a prelude to the second season with a two hour Christmas special that was high on the feels factor but somewhat low on actually advancing anything with the ongoing Whispers plot. After the opening episode, this episode still has some of the feels but it's mainly focused on giving us a far bit more with Whispers though.

First of all, the episode began with Will and the rest of the Sensates reading Milton the riot act and making a few demands so they could see Jonas once again. The episode also lead down the path of believing that Milton's days were numbered with the seemingly more cooperative Croome stepped in and Milton was taken away.

Then the episode ended on a far different note. With Will and Croome actually coming close to striking a mutual trust and assurance that the BPO could go back to being more benevolent towards Clusters, Milton had to show up at the last minute with an unknown female assassin to royally wreck things but thanks to this episode we did learn a little more though.

Thanks to Jonas, we now know there are possibly tens of thousand of Clusters actually out there and this episode alone, we also learned that Lito met one of Jonas's former Cluster mates while Wolfgang has now also gotten involved with one himself, named Lila along with an embezzling storyline involving Felix and some other guy that Lila is working for.

Going by the trailer for the new season, Wolfgang's involvement with Lila is not going to be good for him or the gang. If Wolfgang and company are the nice Clusters, then Lila and her lot are the baddies of the piece and that's going to lead to one hell of a smack down later into the season itself.

Outside of learning a little more about Whispers and Clusters, another focus of the episode was Sun getting out of prison. Namely because of another hit on her life and easily the episode's most intense four minutes going but seeing Sun finally get out of there was nice, even if she is a wanted woman and had to break her older prison mate out too, but considering how the latter saved her along with the rest of the gang, it's only far she gets to come along for the ride.

As for the rest of the gang, not too much happened with them. Both Kala and Capheus had little to do outside the Sun and Jonas bits and when Lito wasn't dealing with career rejection, he was also playing house with Hernando and Daniela while Nomi and Amanita were craving a date night of their own as Will and Riley met with Jonas.

- Aside from Wolfgang and Lila, the episode was a little lighter on the sex than expected. Lito did have a thing with Raoul in flashback as did Jonas/Angelica.
- Lovely moment in the episode with Jonas and his father too and I do like Bug's comparing Nomi and Amanita to Charlie's Angels.
- How many of Jonas's Cluster are actually alive? Could both Todd and Raoul still be out there perhaps?
- Chronology: Not too long since the Christmas special I imagine.

Obligate Mutualism was a good way of opening things up further. Not quite as amazing as the back half of the first season or the Christmas special, but it certainly piqued a lot of interest, serving as an excellent reminder that Milton is serious trouble, showing new Clusters and furthering the connection with the Cluster we know and love the best.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x04: "Knock Knock"


Written by Mike Bartlett
Directed by Bill Anderson

The Doctor: "Right you lot. Back to the estate agents. Better luck next time."

So far this series we've had space oil puddles, killer robots with emojis and a creature under the Thames but for something truly a little sinister, what about a hungry house that eats people? Oh, right, previously done about four series go with The Doctor's Wife but it's given another go with this spooky enough installment though.

When Bill isn't spending her days travelling with the Doctor in time and space, she's doing what every other student is doing and looking for somewhere to live. The opening scene sees Bill and her mate Shireen along with Harry, Pavel, Paul and Felicity all looking for the perfect place while the cute estate agent is showing them dump after dump.

Then steps in a rather odd looking Landlord, played by Poirot himself, David Suchet and all of a sudden, Bill and her new mates have all the answers to their prayers. They get to live in a lovely but creaky house and the rent is dirt cheap. Surely, they wouldn't be any kind of catch, right?

Of course there would be one and the episode didn't waste too much time in showing it as Pavel found himself being eaten by the wall and Bill's attempts of keeping the Doctor seperate from her housemates ended up with everyone trapped in the house and being picked off one by one by a group of woodlice like creatures named Dryads at the behest of Suchet's creepy Landlord.

Unlike last week where the death of a child stuck, while this episode did kill off Bill's housemates one by one  - Pavel, then Paul, then Felicity, then Shireen and finally Harry, by the end of the episode all of the above were brought back to life. That part is something we've seen a lot within Steven Moffat's era but it doesn't detract from the episode as such.

Another thing we've seen is the relationship between the Landlord and the rather wooden Eliza (Mariah Gale giving a more livelier performance though). At first we're meant to believe they're father and daughter but it's soon revealed that it's a mother/son dynamic the episode is working with and it's a pretty twisted one too.

The Landlord's determination to keep his mother alive at any cost ranged from being rather heartbreaking to utterly demented, given his willingness to murder innocent people in order to do it. I definitely think so far that Suchet has probably been the best utilised guest actor of the series and he certainly played a blinder in here with his scenes with Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie.

However while the episode might have reneged on the student deaths, both the Landlord, his mother and the house all came crumbling down, which means both Bill and her mates are back to square one looking for digs. Better luck next time, kids.

Outside of the main plot though, we got another brief Nardole moment where the Doctor gave him the night off so he could have takeaway with the prisoner in the Vault. At this rate, can we all just assume the prisoner is the Master/Missy and be happy that the next episode or two will have them break out of the Vault? Other than that, I'm still enjoying the mystery though.

- Harry (Colin Ryan) is actually the grandson of Harry Sullivan but the scene was cut from the episode itself, which seems odd considering the latter has been referenced in last series Zygon two parter.
- Did Bill lose all her belongings at the end? I loved the bit where she was talking to her mother's photo and letting Paul know she was gay when he tried to ask her out.
- There is a binaural version of this episode currently available on the BBC site.
- Were Little Mix sponsoring this episode because we got a lot of their music here? Don't worry, Bill, I kind of like them too.
- I'm thinking the mystery is less about who is in the Vault and more about why they're being kept in there to be honest.
- Chronology: Currently 2017 for this episode.

Knock Knock was creepy and atmospheric with some engaging guest characters and a lovely performance from David Suchet. While the resolution slightly lets things down a bit, it's still a strong one and I wouldn't be opposed to having Doctor Foster creator Mike Bartlett come back for another one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Sense8 - Who Am I?



Written by Lana Wachowski & J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Lana Wachowski 

Will (to Milton): "You think you're hunting us? We're coming for you!"

First of all, apologies, I got the episodes mixed up and accidentally reviewed the second episode of the new season before the first one. Realizing my error, I'm now making the right alterations and posting the correct review but again, apologies though.

It's been a while since the events of the Christmas special and things for Will certainly haven't been a barrel of laughs. His attempts of using drugs to blot out Milton's presence is starting to have an adverse affect on him and Milton certainly seemed to be having fun in taunting Will. 

I have to admit the back and forth with the two of them is certainly a highlight of the episode with Milton really proving his nastiness throughout their scenes together. As a villain, he's certainly getting more and more menacing as he made his intentions to recapture Riley pretty clear when he was gleefully taunting Will during their exchange.

Of course with Will getting more intel on Milton, we also saw both Nomi and Amanita doing their bit to learn more about the baddies of the piece. Seeing the two of them in investigative mode with the college professor was excellent along with Wolfgang telling Riley not to give up on Will (not that anyone doubted she would) while Kala herself came up with a secret weapon of sorts to give Will an advantage over Whispers.

As for moments that weren't too plot related but important to the overall characters, we had Lito facing a grilling from an obnoxious journalist about his sexuality. That scene really set my teeth on edge as the contempt the journalist showed towards both Lito and Hernando seemed palpable. I did however like Lito's response as well as the seguing into Capheus's own storyline.

Capheus too was interviewed by a journalist named Zakia who seemed to question his Van Damme nickname before later apologising for her hasty comments. Unlike Lito's journalist, the episode went out of it's way to portray the character in a sympathetic light and it seemed that there was also a rather nice spark between the pair as well.

- The mystery of Sarah intensified in this episode with Nomi/Amanita talking to her mother and learning about Sarah's interactions with Jonas, Angelica and Milton.
- Nice flashbacks with Wolfgang and I liked his scene with Sun as well (who didn't have much to do here). Both Wolfgang and Felix are now dealing with Sebastian Fuchs as they now have a nightclub.
- Kala's father in law is running for Prime Minister, we also saw Riley with her father again while the episode ended with us meeting Milton's boss, Richard Croome as Milton freaked out about being exposed.

Who Am I? might have had that rather anvil hitting speech about identity and loss with each of the sensates during the interview scenes but it was a nice reminder of what has been at stake for the characters as the episode managed to give them an advantage over Whispers. As an opening episode, it was a great start for bigger things to come I think.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, May 05, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x15: "Civil Hands Unclean"


Written by Ilene Chaiken & Carlito Rodriguez
Directed by Howard Deutch

Jamal (to Lucious/Cookie): "I want for the Lyon family to work together."

And with this episode, that was exactly what was beginning to happen to be honest. We had Cookie working with Andre and Shyne to make Lucious's Las Vegas gig beneficial to them, Jamal and Lucious actually agreeing to work together for both their respective albums and even Jamal managed to get the DuBois clan off their backs.

Then everything went to hell as a lovely Lyon family and it was to my utter shock, actually a nice meal turned into a carnage fest when child services came in and took poor Bella off everyone. It was certainly a way to end the episode and the blame looking like it's going to be on Angelo, I have a feeling the reason why Bella was taken will be a lot closer to home though.

Of course the timing of this storyline is perfect from a dramatic standpoint. Hakeem's overly saccharine but well meaning live stream was enough to prompt Lucious into having his son's name on Bella's birth certificate while Lucious also granted Anika a divorce and 25 million dollars to boot. Much as I do loathe Anika, even I felt bad for her towards the end of this episode.

Needless to say, the Lyons will get Bella back but as Cookie pointed out in the preview for the next episode, it's going to require them working together. This episode showed that the Lyons are actually capable of doing that, especially when it came to Angelo and his mother trying to make things hard for the gang prior to Jamal stepping in.

As for the rest of the episode, well they did seem to be setting up future stuff with Cookie and Lucious. Cookie wasn't pleased when she realised that Lucious was seeing Giuliana and she did come close to telling him that she broke up with Angelo because of her feelings for him. I did like that Cookie tried to make things right with Angelo, even if he was being a total prat within the episode itself.

- Tiana and Tory are having a casual sex thing going on, which Hakeem doesn't seem too bothered by. I did call it from last week though.
- I did laugh at Leah's reaction to Anika being served divorce papers and now Thirsty gets to attend family dinners, which is oddly sweet.
- Standout music: Hakeem's Elevate was the standout this week.
- Chronology: Not long from the previous episode.

Civil Hands Unclean was a brilliant episode, especially in the last quarter. I loved the family meal and the last scene was an appropriate shocker. Definitely looking forward to the final three even more now.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 3x16: "These Delicate And Dark Obsessions"


Written by Robert Hull
Directed by Ben McKenzie

Ivy: "Words always hurt me way more than sticks and stones."
Oswald: "Yeah, me too."

Well, this is certainly an inspired pairing now isn't it? Not in the romantic sense for obvious issues of course but more in the sense that having Oswald and Ivy suddenly becoming besties was the very thing to add a little spring into the show's step.

Playing off each other extremely well, both Maggie Geha and Robin Lord Taylor were a delight to watch as Oswald found himself bemused by Ivy's fascination in looking after him before unwisely trying to abandon her in favour of Gabe coming back into the mix.

Unfortunately for Oswald, Gabe's true colours emerged in this one as he made it clear that he had no respect for the former Mayor and was willing to sell Oswald off at an auction for anyone who wanted to kill. Because Oswald treated Ivy so shoddily to begin with, she could've easily left him to his own devices but instead used her perfume to get rid off  the extra baddies while Oswald lost his shit and killed Gabe with a gardening tool.

A bit like with Oswald's previous connection to Nygma, a part of his new found connection to Ivy seems to be born out of the two of them not having anyone else in their lives at the moment but unlike with Nygma, it's clear they're going for a sibling type dynamic between Ivy and Oswald and it's certainly going to be fun as Ivy also plans to help Oswald with an army of freaks.

Because of this, it won't be just Nygma who should be worried about Oswald coming back but Barbara too. She might have skipped out on last week's episode but this week we learned she's become the Underworld Queen and was even willing to do Jim an old favour before an unpleasant visitor showed up at the warehouse where herself and Tabitha were torturing a guy for information. Seeing Babs as the queen of the underworld is nice but I have a feeling she shouldn't get too comfy in her new role just yet.

As for the main meat of the episode - it's mostly Court of Owls stuff. On one hand, you've got Bruce in the middle of nowhere getting jabbed with trippy acupuncture needles and reliving his parents death as part of his training from an old guy who isn't Ras al Ghul while Gordon himself was getting more information about his own family's connection to the Court just before uncle Frank blew his brains out and Gordon decided to meet with Kathryn. No guess for how that meeting is going to pan out next week, huh?

- Leslie was visiting Mario's grave and had a tirade with Gordon again as did Falcone, when the latter wasn't discussing his own relationship with the Court of Owls.
- Aubrey has gone back to being Mayor in light of Oswald's death/disappearance.
- Selina, Nygma, Butch, Barnes, Lucius and Alfred all sat out this episode.
- Chronology: Not long from where How The Riddler Got His Name left off.

These Delicate And Dark Obsessions didn't really do too much to intensify the Court of Owls and Frank turned out to be an extremely wasted character but between Barbara clearly having the time of her life as the Queen of the Underworld and every scene with Oswald and Ivy, there was a lot of fun to be had with this one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x03: "Thin Ice"


Written by Sarah Dollard
Directed by Bill Anderson

The Doctor (to Lord Sutcliffe): "Human progress isn't measured by industry. It's measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege."

Two things - first of all, this is so far the lowest rated episode of Series 10 (not by much, so no panicking people) and secondly, it's also the one with the highest AI so far this series as well. Talk about a bit of a duality there.

It's also an episode where white privilege, whitewashing, racism and outrage culture are all blended in together and if you've ever followed writer Sarah Dollard on Twitter, a lot of what is conveyed in this episode won't shock but saying that, it also feels rather consistent to both the Doctor and Bill as characters and we're only just getting to know the latter.

I have to admit, I found it rather amusing to see that there were some fans who were actually shocked with the scene of the Doctor punching the rather racist, child killing villain of the piece, Lord Sutcliffe (Nicholas Burns) in the face. I found it amusing because we're talking about a man who nearly clubbed a neanderthal in his first ever story back in 1963 and has at certain times resorted to violence, even if it isn't his usual go to place when it comes to solving problems.

For me personally, I was rather happy to see Lord Sutcliffe getting smacked across the chops, especially after that vile tirade of abuse he subjected Bill towards before getting punched. My only disappointment is that Bill didn't get to do the honours herself but the episode did however manage to slightly undermine the Doctor's "move on" and "calm and collected" mantras he was trying to pass along to Bill.

The episode certainly a lot to be outraged by. With Sutcliffe, we finally had a genuinely nasty if somewhat two dimensional villain and we haven't had one of those in a while to be honest. His antics put children's lives at risk as he was keeping a creature captive under the frozen Thames and was using it's poo for fuel.

Speaking of kids, this episode had a group of street urchins that were played by reasonably good child actors, didn't come across as annoying precocious and all had names to make their presence felt throughout the episode - Spider, Kitty, Perry, Harriet and Dot. In a scene I did find shocking though was that Spider actually died and in a first for a Moffat era script, the death of a child actually stuck.

Another reason why Spider's death provoked such a reaction was seeing Bill visibly freak out over the child's death. Aside from the fact that her reaction was completely believable, it was a nice moment to really show Bill why the Doctor does the things he does and while she didn't completely get it at first, she certainly did as the episode progressed.

As for the creature itself, we never really got too big a look at it and while it was eating people, it was mainly portrayed in a similar sympathetic light to the Star Whale was from The Beast Below and even freed by the end of it. I'm not sure if it was the wisest thing for both the Doctor and Bill to do but between Sutcliffe getting a much deserved death and the remaining street kids becoming massively rich, this episode did feel like it was flipping the finger to white privilege types and it handled a lot better than expected.

Back to the present day though, Nardole popped up for a scene or two. Mainly to be vexed by the Doctor being distracted by Bill but at the same time, he also showed a glimmer of a dark side when talking to who/whatever is trapped in the Vault. I have to admit this Vault mystery thingy is miles better than the Hybrid arc from the previous and Nardole is starting to become a lot more interesting as a character. Perhaps I misjudged him after all.

- The Doctor previously took River to the Frost Fair in A Good Man Goes To War. Other media has also used the place in time for adventures.
- Big Finish released a story back in 2011 with the Seventh Doctor and Ace with the same title. Twelve/Bill are vastly becoming the 2017 equivalent of that popular pairing.
- Who the hell mixes tea and coffee together? Seriously, Nardole, that's blasphemy man!
- How beautifully shot was this episode? The Frost Fair was so gorgeously brought to life throughout the whole episode and I loved the Regency clothing on both the Doctor and Bill here.
- I wonder if the Daily Mail readers lost their minds with the "Jesus was black" and "history's a whitewash" comments from the Doctor here.
- Chronology: February 4th, 1814 of course.

Thin Ice had a bit of an act to follow considering the event that was Dollard's previous contribution to the series. Like the episode, I don't think this will go down as a classic but it's certainly an episode that's visually gorgeous, has beautiful character moments, a genuinely hissable villain and some nice commentary on certain topics along with maintain the intrigue for the current arc as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x14: "Love Is A Smoke"


Written by Diane Ademu-John & Cherien Dabis
Directed by Tricia Brock

Cookie: "You two know each other?"
Lucious (re Giuliana): "We met a long time ago."

Ah yes, of course they did. Somewhere between Cookie languishing in prison for Lucious and before Anika was ever on the scene, it seems that Lucious and Giuliana were briefly a pairing that resulted in the latter's husband scamming Lucious for a great deal of money just around the same time that Lucious was beginning to fall for Giuliana as well.

I'll admit the whole Lucious/Giuliana thing comes across as massively contrived and rather convenient considering this episode also came about ending Cookie and Angelo but there's enough chemistry between Lucious and Giuliana to at least make it work well enough and I didn't mind Lucious actually outsmarting Andre, Giuliana and Shyne by giving Tori the spot promised to Nessa and of course, bringing Charlotte Frost into the mix.

Keeping with the guest roster this season, Eva Longoria stepped into the role of Charlotte reasonably well, even if she didn't really actually do anything. All we know is that her character is some kind of power player that Lucious managed to charm before Andre could but going by the trailers, it seems that Andre will find another way of getting Charlotte to his way of thinking.

Speaking of Lucious, when he wasn't outsmarting Andre and Tariq (with some help from Anika), he was also being surprisingly diplomatic about Cookie getting potentially engaged to Angelo. Of course, the episode then came to a very public break up with Cookie and Angelo as the former refused his hand in marriage and the latter unwitting confessed to some of his shadier antics during to a microphone being left on.

While I'm not surprised that Cookie and Angelo's relationship came to an end, I really didn't imagine it would get so nasty so quickly. He well and truly showed his colours by labelling her family as garbage and with his secrets exposed and that meddling mother of his, I think Cookie might have bitten off more than she could chew there.

- Giuliana admitted to Lucious that she killed her husband for him. We saw Lucious and Giuliana's first romance in flashbacks.
- Did anyone else think both Tori and Tiana were going to get it on with each other during that studio performance? Also, the show had Tori channel Amy Winehouse in a big way during this episode.
- Standout music: Tori's Play The World and Crazy 4 U, the latter song that Lucious originally wrote for Giuliana.
- Chronology: A couple of days from where the previous episode left off.

Love Is A Smoke certainly had it's moments. Seeing Cookie and Angelo as Lucious and Giuliana reconnect was convenient enough but with some excellent music and nice one liners (loved Cookie telling Bella that her granddad is a savage beast), it did make for an enjoyable episode though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?"


Written by Gina Welch
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Joan: "I hope I made a new friend."
Bette: "Me too."

And here it is, the very end. Eight episodes into the Feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and aside from a brief interaction via a dream sequence with the former, the last few years of both women's respective lives were them dealing with their own disappointments and so on.

Joan herself had moved into an apartment, adopted a cute little Shih Tzu and was basically becoming a recluse, although Mamacita had managed to come back into her life on a part time basis. The first half of this episode dealt with Joan's final movie - the critically panned Trog and a disastrous book signing that resulted in her retirement from acting for good and becoming a recluse until her death.

Cynically, this episode felt like the 'Jessica Lange for an Emmy' hour, a familiar experience given that Murphy sometimes favoured her during her time on American Horror Story too but credit given where it's due, the episode is easily Lange's strongest one to date as Joan became more and more tragic throughout the whole thing.

Of course before Joan did succumb to death, the episode gave us a rather illuminating dream sequence between herself, Bette, Hedda and Jack L. Warner as the four of them all voice what went right and wrong with Joan's career. While it's a scene that arguably wasn't needed for the episode, it is however the best scene from the episode itself.

As for Joan's death itself, it's depicted off screen and we see that the crew who have been interviewing everyone throughout the series (including Pauline, Mamacita and Victor Buono this week) were doing so during the 1978 Oscars. The moment where everyone reacted to the In Memorium bit was rather telling. Joan might have been a polarising personality but there was no denying that she did garner some respect within Hollywood itself, despite the treatment stars like her endured at the time and still do to an extent.

As for Bette, things weren't going so swimmingly for her either. Not only had her relationship with BD completely tanked at this point but she also was failing in her own health and had suffered through a string of failed television pilots as well. Like Crawford herself, Bette's days were also coming to a close, even if she had lived over a decade longer and had a few more hits before her death in 1989.

The series itself has explored the feud between Davis and Crawford at a reasonable length and the final episode did make an attempt to see Bette try to connect to Joan but ultimately she couldn't. I did like the flashback to their first day on Whatever Happened To Baby Jane where both women mused the idea of striking up a friendship. Maybe in another life, that's what would've happened between the stars.

- The episode's title comes from the last line of the movie that inspired this whole series.
- The show delved into Christina releasing her Mommie Dearest novel and made the comment of Faye Dunaway wanting to play Crawford in a picture. Oh, the irony there.
- I'm surprised the episode also didn't delve into BD's scathing memoir as well.#, especially given that the episode was longer than usual.
- Chronology: From 1969 to 1978. I'm surprised we didn't get to see Bette's death, though the end credits talked about what happened with all the significant players in the show.

You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends? provided a satisfying and emotional conclusion to the series. While creative liberties were taken with both Crawford and Davis's real lives, I do think that Ryan Murphy and company gave a fairly balanced look into both actresses with both Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon doing their best to bring them to life as well. I have to admit that I'm not especially looking forward to the next installment though the casting might change my mind on that one.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 3x15: "How The Riddler Got His Name"


Written by Megan Mostyn-Brown
Directed by TJ Scott

Nygma (to Lucius): "Oh come on, Foxy. I'm the Riddler"

It's been three months since the last episode and apparently now we're in the official second half of Season 3, which almost makes me wonder where those other three episodes (let's call them the other Jerome arc) fit into things but we're back and if this is what we can expect in the final eight episodes of the season, then we're off to a good start.

Ever since putting a bullet into Oswald and leaving him for dead, poor Edward has been at a bit of a loss for himself. It seems that terrorising intellectual types and murdering them when they fail to solve his riddles isn't quite as fun as Nygma thought they would be, so needless to say, he decides to up his game this week.

Being challenged by the dripping hallucinations of Oswald, whom Nygma seems to deliberately bring about every time he chewed on a pill in this episode, Edward gets the bright idea of bagging himself an enemy to go along with his newfound villain status. The candidate for this accolade of course was going to be Gordon but this episode decided to take a clever turn by having Lucius unsuspectingly take on the role instead after intercepting one of Eddie's deadly riddles.

It's moments like this that I truly find myself loving this show. Having Lucius be the thorn into Nygma's side is a far better proposition than Gordon. Aside from the fact that Lucius has been savagely underused ever since Chris Chalk was made a regular back in Season 2, this episode served as a great opportunity to highlight how great Lucius actually can be as a character when the writers actually give him something to do.

Lucius's scenes with both Bullock and Leslie during Nygma's terror campaign were great but his one on one moments with Nygma were truly the best part of the episode. For a moment it looked like Lucius was almost reaching out to Edward before the latter embraced his new criminal identity and life on the run after failing to kill Bullock as well for good measure.

Of course another great thing about this episode was when we weren't getting Nygma haunted by Oswald and mulling over their friendship, the latter also turned up to be alive and was being looked after by Ivy of all people. Now I wasn't surprised that Oswald would be alive (then again, who would've been?) but this was the second surprise pairing of the week and it was only a brief scene. Still, there's more to come with Oswald being on the warpath though.

As for the rest of the episode, the other two plots were merely okay. Bruce failed to patch things up with Selina but he did manage to get replaced by his clone and seemed to be in a snowy prison of sorts, which had some Batman Begins callbacks to be honest. Of course, the Court of Owls stuff worked alright in the background.

As for Gordon, he reconnected with his uncle and seemed to have a reasonable amount of scepticism about Frank's motives for seeking him out right now. I liked that Gordon was taken away from the main Nygma plot this week but he's going to be an even bigger pain in the backside for the Court of Owls for Bruce, so I'm not sure why Kathryn is even indulging Frank's attempts to manipulate Jim into joining up.

- Barbara, Butch and Tabitha sat this episode out and aside from one scene alloted to Selina, Ivy and Leslie each, this definitely felt like a very male centred episode. Also Nygma kept called Lucius 'Foxy'. I'm just saying.
- The tagline for the remaining episodes this season is called Heroes Rise.
- I absolutely loved Oswald's risque little musical number - a version of Amy Winehouse's Wake Up Alone. Can we please have a musical episode next season, writers? Go on, you know you want to.
- Chronology: A couple of weeks since the events of The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies.

How The Riddler Got His Name might have seemed relatively simple in terms of how Nygma finally embraced his identity but it certainly made for a compelling little episode and along with giving Lucius some much needed screen time and that musical number, how could you not love this one?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x02: "Smile"


Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Directed by Lawrence Gough

Bill (to the Doctor): "Stop trying to keep me out of trouble!"

Going back to the tradition of Series 1 to 5 of this revived series, we've had the present day opening story and now we've gone into the future as the Doctor bestowed Bill with the choice for her first TARDIS trip while Nardole mostly sat this one out.

Enter a trip to the planet Gliese 581d and both the Doctor and Bill have ended up on a world where the only inhabitants seem to be some rather harmless robots that communicate in the not so extinct language of emoji, which amuses Bill but not so much the Doctor. Aside from the opening sequence that ruins the surprise, alarms also pop up when the Doctor and Bill get to wear mood badges that they can't see.

The planet itself is largely empty for the most part so there's a lot of screen time for solely the Doctor and Bill, which in some ways almost made this episode into a two hander of sorts between the new friends. It mostly works as both the Doctor and Bill are given a little more insight into how the other ticks during a crisis.

I know it's only been two episodes but the rapport between Capaldi and Mackie has certainly rejuvenated the show and while the student/mentor dynamic has been explored before with Seven and Ace, this version with Twelve and Bill is already turning out to be equally dynamic.

For all the questions that Bill asks the Doctor (and they're still reasonable ones), she also figures out certain things by herself. She certainly was able to deduce what had happened to a lot of the colonists that came to the planet and did her best to try and calm down a distressed child in the midst of a near battle between the remaining colonists and the bots themselves.

Speaking of the bots, the idea of them using the emoji language (hence them being labelled as Emojibots to a point) seemed really daft when I first read about this episode but it was effectively done and they managed to have a decent level of menace to them as well. I mean, they turned people into fertilizer and their inability to understand grief had disastrous consequences all around.

However while the episode a lot that worked in it's favour (beautiful character bits for our TARDIS duo, gorgeous location work and mostly satisfying baddies), the last few minutes slightly undo all the good work beforehand. The Doctor's resolution between the Vardy/Emojibots is a bit too pat and the few guest actors they have in the episode, such as Ralf Little's Steadfast are criminally wasted that it does make the episode a little frustrating.

Of course two episodes in though and the current series does seem to have a nice spring in it's step. The characterisation for the Twelfth Doctor is easily the best we've had, Bill is working out wonderfully and the mystery of the vault isn't soaking up too much screen time although the Doctor did mention that he had a promise to keep in relation to guarding it. Plus any episode that ends on the note of an elephant standing on the frozen Thames in the snow deserves an extra point or two.

- Apparently the Algae King fancies the Doctor. Bill also ate some blue algae jelly during the episode as well.
- "I'm happy, hope you're happy too" - gotta love a David Bowie reference, don't you? There was also a Erewhon reference too.
- Did I mention the gorgeous location work this week? Valencia translated beautifully on the screen as a different world.
- Anyone spot the allusions and similarities to the likes of The Ark In Space, The Happiness Patrol and The Beast Below in this one?
- I'm still convinced what's in the Vault has been spoiled online now. Not mentioning it for those who still want to be surprised though.
- Mina Anwar, who played Goodthing in this episode also played Rani Chandra's mother, Gita in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

After the much maligned In The Forest Of The Night, I wasn't particularly enthused with the idea of Frank Cottrell-Boyce returning for another episode. Smile however, while it won't go down as a classic, certainly was a step up from Boyce's previous effort. While the resolution was extremely poor and guest characters savagely underused, the episode itself was more watchable than expected, so that's a good thing.

Rating: 7 out of 10