The Blue Box Blog

Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

Archive for August, 2011

Doctor Who: “Lets Kill Hitler” Review

Posted by emmahyam on August 27, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR ALL OF DOCTOR WHO POST 2005

The Doctor is back, and its about bloody time! Yes ladies and gents the second half of Doctor Who series six is up and running and what an absolutely cracking opening show this was.

Its hard to know what to discuss first with this episode, my immediate reaction on twitter was “absolutely batshit, absolutely marvellous”, and really thats Doctor Who in a nutshell theses days, after all the artificial media ho-ha in this country about Hitler being the focus of this episode he was actually a massive McGuffin, only getting a couple of lines before being lamped by Rory and stuck in cupboard! Lets just review some of the madness of this episode, Rory punches out two people, River holds up the Doctor with a banana and Rory and Amy end up being miniaturised and beamed into the robot body of a time traveling  war-criminal punishment unit. You would think that all this bonkers stuff would make the episode confusing and disjointed whereas it felt to me exactly the opposite, it was a marvellous demented roller coater ride of fun and really satisfying revelations.

It also confirms my suspicion that Steven Moffat truly only lives to mess with heads on an industrial scale, poor old Rory and Amy find out their tearaway childhood friend is not only their daughter but they named their daughter… after their daughter. Let that sink in for a second. We also see the true origin of River Song, she receives the blue “spoilers” book , she begins to study archeology and most importantly shes used up all her remaining regenerations. I wonder if this will be used as a handy get out clause come the Doctors 13th regeneration? The true purpose and nature of The Silence is revealed and it isn’t what we thought at all with an ultimate plan ripped right out of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy playbook.

Despite my enjoyment I do have a couple of criticisms, I do hope Amy and Rory aren’t now suddenly over the abduction of their child, yes they effectively “raised” her while children themselves but surely they’ll still want to rescue her from a lifetime of brainwashing? Also this episode suffered a little from being after this long break, I think it might have had more impact by being shown immediately after “A Good Man Goes To War” as this episode helps to smooths out a story that seemed like it was starting to get away from even the mighty Moffat.

Overall though, astonishingly brilliantly acted by all involved, beautifully produced, bonkers plotting and wicked fun. A great return for the Doctor, I’ve found this review as hard to write as any for Torchwood for the exact opposite reasons, where Torchwood is so bad and dull it defies description, this was so so breathlessly excellent that my description doesn’t really do it justice. So to sum up my Doctor Who mates have a saying; “In Moff We Trust” and dear reader hes rewarded our trust with this one, but remember what he had the Doctor remind us right at the end, that The Doctor Always Lies… I think we’ve got a hell of ride in store…

 

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Torchwood: Miracle Day “Immortal Sins” Review

Posted by emmahyam on August 25, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ALL OF TORCHWOOD

Welcome gentle readers to Torchwood episode seven “Immortal Sins”, we are now three quarters of the way through the “Miracle Day” saga, so what have we discovered?

Well, I’ll tell you what I discovered friends, its that Torchwood may be one of the most profoundly annoying television shows ever produced. This was by far the best episode of “Miracle Day” to date, it was beautifully acted, very nicely shot, the social proclivities of the 1920’s were explored in a decent manner, but on the other hand…

My worst fears for this show  are being slowly realised. The whole “miracle” is nothing more than elaborate farce constructed to get to Jack, Gwen is one of the most unpleasant “heroes” ever put on television as she screeches and whinges through another episode, we’re presented with yet another episode that rehashes stuff we know from previous series. The amount of punishment Jack can take? Yep, saw that beautifully showcased in “Fragments”, Jack seducing a young man who is “different” and he really actually loves honest guv? I refer the reader to the case of the late Ianto Jones and the episode “Captain Jack Harkness”. Gwen rebelling against Jack and all that “I love you but I’ll kill and eat you”, go check out “End Of Days”. Oswald Danes only emphasizes his pointlessness with his second week of absence, Rex and Esther arrive to save the day via an oh so convenient laptop bloop, the video of the death of Vera is making about as much impact as a fart in a hurricane, The Ghost Of Nana Visitor turned up of 3 minutes and I bet thats the last we see of her.  The Doctor Who references felt shoe horned in to please long time viewers,

When those gang boss guys made a triangle with their arms my other half said too me “ooo look, its like that triangle symbol from before” my response, “I don’t care”, and at this point I just don’t anymore, despite all the good things this episode did and how much it felt more like the Torchwood of old, everything that has gone before has destroyed the significance of this show. The story of Miracle Day just does not work, not even a tiny bit, and trying to stick it together with the duct tape of this episode just highlights the cracks, where “Children of Earth” was a breathless race to the finish, “Miracle Day” is limping zombie, shambling in circles.

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Torchwood: Miracle Day “The Middle Men” Review

Posted by emmahyam on August 18, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR ALL OF TORCHWOOD

Dear reader you find me heading into this episode with a deep sense of trepidation, after the debacle of last week and some pretty negative buzz from some of my twitter chums my hopes for this one were truly at rock bottom.

Sadly they were justified, once again I greet the end of “The Middle Men” with a long sigh. Nothing happened in that episode, not a damn thing. Oh yes there was a big ‘spolsion  andVera’s incinerator met his own transition to “Category One” but aside from that what progress has been made? In episode six out of a ten part series what have we learnt? Nothing. PhiCorp are reveled as nothing more than middle men. Amazing, seeing as that was pretty clear at least two episodes ago, Oswald Danes? Totally absent, I still have no idea why hes got anything to do with this, or indeed why I should care. Torchwood’s exposure of the true purpose of the Overflow Camps achieves, you guessed it, nothing. More nondescript characters turned up to hurl information at us only to disappear, more than likely never to be seen on screen again. Its all so boring and uninspired, the show drags along at a snails pace dropping clunky dialogue in your lap like  they’re revelations from the Lord himself rather than the nuggets of tedium they really are. After episode three I reckoned they were trying to fill out a ten episode series with a plot more suited to five shows, now it feels more like a two parter stretched out to six (thus far). Theres so little to write about rather than trying to continue a review in the usual manner, I’ll transcribe the notes I made as the episode went on, I think they say it all.

  • 9.02 – How exactly have we “discovered the truth behind Miracle Day” continuity lady? We know sod all.
  • 9.04 – the “45 Club” oh great another entirely pointless group like “The Soulless”  just there for yet more padding.
  • 9.05 – PhiCorp know nothing either, this is not news.
  • 9.07 – Oh so the “45 Club” just mentioned to set up that blokes ‘suicide’.
  • 9.10 – padding, padding, padding. Vera’s murder feels like it was thrown in to fill out this show so they’d get to 10 episodes.
  • 9.16 – How are Gwen and Rhys still walking around the Cowbridge camp with impunity? Surely after blatantly trying to get her Dad out of the camp they’d have been thrown out?
  • 9.24 – Blah, blah, blah. Welcome to Talkwood.
  • 9.28 – So this is Torch-Ception then, we’re back at bleeding square 1.
  • 9.34 – Rex is exceptionally dumb.
  • 9.40 – Esther is dumb too, why not say the Senator was on the phone, you suspect him strongly of having done something pretty bad to Vera.
  • 9.45 – If Gwen can seemingly move around with impunity in the Cowbridge Camp wouldn’t it be far easier to sneak her Dad into Cat 2?
  • 9.48 – Watch out shes changed into Stealth! Gwen
  • 9.50 – There goes the budget.
  • 9.51 – Well, the show is done, the Camps are exposed…. oh FFS
  • 9.55 – Finally some consequences for them parading around using their own names.

At the end of the show I got a tweet saying that I don’t have to watch the show if its that bad. It is that bad but yet I persist, out of a sense of loyalty to the Who-niverse and in the vain hope that somehow things will turn around in the final four episodes. The teaser for show seven doesn’t really inspire, Doctor Who can’t come back soon enough.

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Torchwood: Miracle Day “Categories Of Life” Review

Posted by emmahyam on August 11, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS DETAILED SPOILERS FOR ALL OF TORCHWOOD

Hello all and welcome one to the halfway point of Torchwood: Miracle Day! The pre-match hype for this episode had it this was the big one, the episode that would ROCK OUR WORLDS and CHANGE EVERYTHING and HAVE HUGE FX and FINALLY REVEAL THE TRUTH BEHIND MIRACLE DAY OMG!!!!

As you may guess from my previous posts Miracle Day has yet to impress me even a tiny bit and the fuss surrounding this episode was met by this humble blogger with a rather large pinch of salt. This being said the previous episode provided some tiny glimpses of hope, if show five could just take the momentum gained by episode four by the scruff of the neck there might be some way back to Torchwood’s former glories…

And suprise suprise it was not to be, it seems incredible to me that a show can fill an hour yet actually accomplish so little, more baffling, jarring shifts in tone, more introducing people  just to info dump and sod off again, more incredibly stupid leaps in logic (why bother with the conceit of Rhys going in disguise as a limo driver to pick up an “incognito” Gwen at the airport, only for them to snog in front of everyone?).  Miracle Day means that no one dies, except if you incinerate them apparently, because we need to try an inject some goddamn drama in to this pile of turgid arse. The episode treats this piss poor Final Solution “revelation” as if its some sort of stunning plot twist when in fact anyone with any sort of higher brain function surely thought “Overflow Camps? Oh that means Auschwitz then”. I mean how dense are Gwen and Rhys not to clock it as soon as they saw the enormous bleeding chimneys next to the modules?

This episodes biggest crime was the pointless “death” (I suppose) of  Vera Juarez, the poor woman spends 4 episodes delivering exposition, finally gets to do something only to be incinerated. Not only does it do the character a colossal disservice to discard her like a nothing character such as the info-dumping assassin of last week but what contempt to show to your audience. The whole point of Miracle Day is that NO ONE DIES, except if we need to deliver some kind of cheap, rubbishy plot twist to desperately try and shock the audience, then KILL IT WITH FIRE works just fine.

What are PhiCorp trying to accomplish with this whole performance, where is the profit in death camps? How does this benefit them in any conceivable way? This makes not a jot of sense, not because “I haven’t seen the whole picture” or  “theres something deeper going on here” it because there was meeting that went something like this:

TV Dude 1: We need to pitch something for this new Torchwood show any ideas?

TV Dude 2: Yeah how about if no one could die?

TV Dude 1: Yeah not bad, is it an alien thing cos we’ve only got a few bucks for make up

TV Dude 2: Nah, I figure its a huge corporation, they could make money selling drugs to people

TV Dude 1: How is that going to fill 10 episodes? Surely Torchwood would find that out and shut them down in like… half an hour

TV Dude 2: No problem, I figure I could throw like a weird messianic movement in there and maybe some shitty overtones of Nazism, and if it looks like things are slowing down I could always kill off a character for no reason at all.

TV Dude 1: Kill someone off? I thought the point was no one died?

TV Dude 2: Whatever, also I could pad shows out with lots of panning shots of where our characters are, lots of weird and off putting news reports and not at all funny jokes

I find myself  nearly too angry with what I’ve seen to type this post in any coherent manner, its not often I feel insulted by what I’ve seen but here I am. The acting was awful, the drama limp and uninspired, the promised revelations no where to be seen, the reek of cheapness pervades the whole affair like prawns sewn into the curtains, the endless ripping off of Torchwood’s old episodes continues and the padding continues.

If this crap wasn’t under the banner Torchwood I would have turned off in disgust, the trailer for episode six promises little except more endless talking, in corridors, death camps and deserts. I will not give up on this purely because of its lineage but shame on you RTD, you took the money from Starz and ran and left loyal, forgiving fans of Torchwood this bag of insipid, poorly thought out, badly executed rubbish.

 

 

 

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Torchwood: Miracle Day “Escape To L.A.” Review

Posted by emmahyam on August 4, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS DETAILED SPOILERS FOR ALL OF TORCHWOOD

Roll up, roll up one and all for Torchwood: Miracle Day episode four, its time to see whats in store. I went into this weeks show with a renewed sense of hope, the episode was co-written by one of my favorite “X-Files” writers  John Shiban, scribe on such slices of fried gold as “The Walk”, “Leonard Betts” and one of my guiltiest X-Files pleasures “Teso Dos Bichos”. Also this is episode four for Gods sake, surely now they’ve done all the introducing everyone and moving people into position and having great big laughs at those crazy British words for things and talking and talking and talking and talking about HOW MASSIVE MIRACLE DAY IS OMG it must surely be time for something to actually happen!

Well, something did happen, kind of. The show has finally settled into its storytelling, we have four distinct storylines at play (the ramshackle new Torchwood Vs PhiCorp, Oswald Danes’ rise from “Very Naughty Boy” to “Messiah” in a flurry of jaw-droppingly clunky Jesus metaphors, Gwen’s Dad and Doctor Basil Exposition dealing with Miracle Day’s fallout) which we assume will eventually blend into one big finale. Now that all four have become their own separate entities with in the narrative oddly the show as a whole doesn’t seem so disjointed. Gwen and Jack finally step out of the shadows of their own show, their storyline actually feels like they’re at the centre at the mystery of Miracle Day. The humour that grated so badly last week was actually amusing (Gwen’s “I’m mortified!” at having to do a US accent was great) and the chemistry thats so apparent between Eve Myles and John Barrowman in real life was front and centre. Alexa Havins’ Esther Drummond was absolutely fantastic and even Mekhi Phifer was tolerable seeing as he was only required to be angry and shoot someone this week.

Even Oswald Dane’s story which was severely getting on my whick last week is starting to make some sort of sense, his outrage at being cock-blocked from the news by someone else horrendous in the shape of very thinly veiled Sarah Palin clone Ellis Hartley Monroe was actually a good piece of story telling, starting as darkly humorous then transitioning to terrifying. Was anyone else as horrified as I was that everyone was cool about a convicted sex offender picking up a baby? (A quick side note; that little girl got the biggest laugh of the show from me when she obviously saw her Mum or Dad off camera and give them a big grin and wave as Bill Pullman picked her up). Also great was the incredibly grim fate of the misguided Tea Partyer Ellis Hartley Monroe, a little bit of wishful thinking on the part of the writers I think.

While I enjoyed these elements of the show there are gripes that continue to niggle with me somewhat, even though there was some movement in the plot, the episode seemed full of bits of filler, the lingering establishing shots of LA, Rex’s confrontation with his Dad and Gwen’s lengthy phone call to Worlds Most Useless Husband Rhys. The impression is that the writers are desperately padding out the story to fill 10 episodes, an overwhelming opinion amongst some of my fellow viewers . Some of the characters still haven’t quite settled, poor old Doctor Basil Exposition still stuck with impressing  THE  MASSIVE IMPACT OF MIRACLE DAY OMG on us all and Jilly Kitzinger suddenly developing some morals out of nowhere and expressing more than a little distaste for Oswald. General dumbness on the part of people allegedly only one step down from “ninja” in the secret agent stakes making phone calls in the open AND in broad daylight and having their arses handed to them in fights rankled. How has Gwen managed to stay under the radar this long exactly? The seemingly constant recycling of former Torchwood moments continue, especially in the preview for episode five where Gwen seemingly recycles her direct to camera monologue from Children Of Earth.

Most of all though the thing that remains the biggest sticking point with me is how ordinary the story seems, essentially Torchwood 4.0 is The X-Files re-imagined. Where The X-Files was concerned with the actions of a shadowy consortium trying to save their miserable hides from alien colonisation Torchwood now reflects the current concerns of your average conspiracy theorist. Massive shadow governments, information control and big pharma. PhiCorp are now more or less The Illuminati, with their triangle symbol only needing an all-seeing eye  on top of it to complete the image, the “Overflow Camps” are essentially the “FEMA Death Camp” theory brought into reality. Where is the little spark of aliens-and-tech weirdness that made Torchwood unique in the first place? They even had one of the old X-Files standards in the form of “Shadowy Assassin/Exposition Guy”. I can’t help but feel at this point that “Miracle Day” can’t avoid a massive “reset button” finale, where everyone just drops dead or the natural cycle of death is restored and Jack goes back to being Captain Scarlet and buggers off into the sunset, not unlike The X-Files then.

Despite this litany of grumbles overall I actually enjoyed this episode, moving from through the previous ranks of “awful”, past “acceptable” and on to “OK”. I just wish it had been episode two instead of episode four. I look forward to episode five (the halfway point!) with some renewed hope, if it can continue some of the momentum its managed to gather in this outing then episode five might just be something to cheer about. Heres hoping…

 

 

 

 

 

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