TV Review – Dr Who (Cold War) series 7 part 2 episode 3, Aired BBC1 Saturday 13th April

New episode to the season and we see the classic space traveller landing the Tardis on a sinking Russian submarine. The episode is set sometime in the cold war and we see a sudden problem when a random soldier suddenly decides to defrost an Ice Warrior that’s stored in the sub’s hold. Wait… lets slow down. So, the marine, part of the team the captain says are ‘so trustworthy’, simply decides to defrost a ‘precious find’ because he ‘couldn’t wait’? I would hope these trained men would follow orders a little more strictly.

Ah well, so the doctor appears and he rushes around trying to save the day. It’s all very plain. Not many jokes, a little bit of fear, an old monster from the past. Not that it’s a bad episode, but it’s very ‘seen that’. The monster was… ok. The puppet used for the creature’s claws were awfully fake and looked stupid when it was clasping onto the marine’s heads. The rest of the creature looked good though, especially a shot where you see it part in shadow later on in the episode. It’s a bit of a mixed batch. The actions of the creature were pretty cool, I guess. He went on a bit of a rebel streak and the doctor was a little scared. There were just a few unanswered questions, such as: why was he so vengeful? Sure he might be a bit upset he’s been sitting down there for a few thousand years… but you’d get over it. You surely wouldn’t care about some random planet’s problems and decide to destroy the world.

I don’t know, it was an average episode: fairly entertaining but nothing spectacular.

Rating: 4/10

TV Review – Dr Who (The Rings Of Akhaten) Series 7 Part 2 Episode 2, Aired BBC1 Saturday 6th April

I approached this episode thinking it was going to be too flashy: One local episode with Clara followed by her seeing a whole-new-planet? I thought it’d be too big for its boots and fall, but yet again I was pleasantly surprised. Thee episode struggled for a whole new set of reasons. Not to say it was a bad episode, of course. In fact on face value it was quite brilliant. The bold colours, some slight humour, some touching scenes, kids singing and being sacrificed: a nice soup of episode gold. What brought it down was its… well content?

 
I should explain. Let’s start from the beginning. So, the Doctor and Clara decide to go on a trip to see a far, distant planet (Clara’s first other-worldly encounter). She steps out into a market street full of various aliens. She’s not all that shocked to see the swarms of creatures she’s never seen before… why? Even with the TV and movies I watch about aliens, I think I’d be a little more shocked to see one. In fact I’m amazed enough to see something I recognise from Earth, say a giraffe at the zoo. Anyhow, ignoring that small touch, a short while later and we’ve had a touching scene between Clara and a little girl, the little girl has gotten in trouble, and the Doctor and Clara try to save her.

 
Here’s the first problem. The doctor makes a speech. He says an awesome speech that’s full of emotion, images of Clara looking proudly on (despite being miles away and not hearing, huh…), powerful music behind powerful words, an insight into the Doctor’s thoughts and all the things that makes for a good Doctor speech. The problem here is that the writers seem to be coming to the conclusion that because the speeches are gladly welcomed, that they should include them in more episodes. These grand speeches are meant to make the end-of-series and the special, dramatic, episodes more powerful. They’re meant to be one-off things the Doctor does to warn off enemies and show that he is there to protect all that’s holy and good in the universe. Him making strong speeches everyday just makes them ‘normal’, like giving me an excuse to buy Easter eggs every day of the year because chocolate makes the day better.

 
Ah well, there’s been a speech… I guess it was really powerful and it settled the problem, I guess I could let it slide. But then… the Doctor’s wasn’t good enough! Clara has to get in on the action and add to the speech. She brings out her backstory in a neatly (leaf wrapped) package and adds her own piece. No Clara… while, again, it’s quite nice… we didn’t need more. We don’t need metaphors to say that the doctor isn’t strong enough alone. We don’t need that bit of loveliness added to add to the impact. It was just… tagged on the end so Clara could have her starring role.

 
I don’t know, while I can complain, I did like this episode. While the speeches are annoyingly frequent, this one was very emotional. We also learnt a lot about Clara, which is nice as her character needs some padding out. It wasn’t flashy or too big for itself, and we saw a new cultured planet. So, while I hope the writers stop trying to make each episode epic by just adding in a speech-formula, I also rate this episode quite highly.

 
Rating: 8/10

 

 

Extended(SPOILERS): . Oh, I forgot about the other annoying parts.. like how they just went ‘well this is fairly bad… oh wait.. it was just the alarm clock for THIS THING HERE RAWERRRRR…. and what did it do?.. destroy things? Kill the doctor?!?!… oh… it ate the doctors memories and then ate a leaf. The leaf that that idiot at the beginning pledged his soul to…. riiiight.

TV Review: Dr Who (The Bells of Saint John) Series 7, Part 2, Episode 1, Aired BBC1 Saturday 30th March

This was a lot better than I expected. This is the first episode of part two in the ‘let’s split the series evenly across the year into two very short bursts’ scheme, and we see the Doctor fighting something in the wi-fi. This is also a new chance to get to see Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman, seen in Captain America).

My expectations for the new companion Clara were at a low after the Christmas episode. Not that she was bad exactly, but I feel they didn’t set the character up too well. I was worried the bad set up would lead to a bad series ‘half’. My worries were amplified when I considered the first ‘half’ of series seven, most of which have been below par (seriously why did they split it into halves?!). However, I was pleased to see a good solid episode, with a likable Clara! It’s like they saw my worries and avoided them. Kind of like they’re watching me! I’m kidding. Though that was the general hidden message about the internet and wi-fi: ‘don’t use it, or they will find you and you’ll die’. While the message was a little annoying, at least it had a good story behind it. I guess kids need to learn about internet safety somehow, why not subtly on their favourite TV show?

It was nice they didn’t go too flashy on the first episode too. It had a good monster/person/thing (I’m hoping it’s explained later in the series as we got no information about it) that wasn’t over-the-top. The doctor seemed himself: not confused, or running over his old problems out of the blue (note: the Christmas episode). There were a few stretched scenes that the episode could have done without (the ‘getting changed from a monks habit scene’, for example), but these often led onto some sneaky-smile visual jokes that were infrequent enough to not be in bad taste (the bow tie).

All in all, a nice episode. Bring on more of these and the series might turn out quite well.

Rating: 7/10

TV Review: The Only Way is Essex

People like to watch the replication of life on television: hence shows such as Channel 4s Big Brother gained so much popularity back in the 2000s. This want for realism has lead the mass public to ‘The Only Way is Essex’. It seems people believe that they can watch shows like this and see how people should live. It seems right, doesn’t it? You could watch an ‘unscripted’ show about people ‘like you’ to see examples of real life? The show depicts people shopping, sitting around talking, partying, going to bars and every day expressing what they want to do with their lives. But, do the people do these things naturally? No. They’re glammed-up bad actors.  The show has fabricated a world and its watchers seem to believe its actually real. In fact, they’re watching designed behaviour showing what producers know they want to see. This makes ‘entertainment’ while also bringing a negative after-effect that is down-right worrying.

With twitter interaction, viewers are tricked into getting more involved in the ‘characters’ lives. They feel they ‘become part of the show’ without realising that they’re being duped. We’re being told who we should be with a supposed ‘unscripted’ show. However, it’s obvious from watching just five minutes that the show is in no shape of form unscripted. People simply don’t talk like that. These ‘characters’ speak too clearly and they have long pauses between speaking. Even if you consider the possibility of them being slow speakers, there are no overlaps (unless there’s a designed argument) and some lines are cold and unnatural. The settings may be the ‘everyday’, but like any TV show set these too are set-up with extras.

This brings up issues about reactions to the show. Some may just watch to laugh at the type of people they’re imitating. Others may make these people their role models and copy their behaviour. Either way, ‘The Only Way is Essex’ is as awful as the internet warns. It shows fake people living fake lives and encourages their viewers to partake in the lifestyle they see. That lifestyle involves a lack of education (as many of the characters have poor vocabulary and general knowledge) and a focus on sex and pregnancy (in one episode nearly every  scene spoke of a character either having a baby, wanting a baby or having unprotected sex with random people in clubs). We should laugh at these characters, not want to copy them. And that is why ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ is a bad show that needs to be destroyed.

Rating: 2/10

TV Review: Dr Who (The Snowmen) – Aired BBC1 Tuesday the 25th December

With an endless quest to wrap complex storylines into an hour, the new series of Dr Who presented us another of its’ Christmas episodes. This episode was no exception. While entertaining, the whole thing was rushed. It could have been a captivating two parter… or a series of episodes that showed more detail with a sense of mystery and better character depth. Instead we were served an oddly paced episode where the best part was a ‘revelation’ at the end. The doctor seemed to take one look at the new girl in town and fell head over heels in an instant. Is he too cool to say ‘hi’ anymore?

However quickly introduced, Oswald was a charming as ever. The end of the episode sets up her continuation in the series and it looks as if they’re going to play it quite well. However, it could go either way. It seems the plot is building up so much as the series progress that the writers are drowning in it. It’s what’s makes the doctor seem so bewildered and indecisive: one series he’s upset and not letting people travel with him, next series he’s letting people, now he’s not again but suddenly he is? Or is he? Who Knows?

The other elements of the episode were ok. The monster wasn’t scary, but the monsters snowy ‘henchmen’ looked pretty cool. The other characters were annoying and unnecessary, but I guess the Sontaran was alright for the humour. But… where was the message? Where was the Christmas spirit? It’s almost like the writers were so pressured with trying to make this a turning point for the series that they forgot that this was a Christmas episode. They should stop this new ‘let’s make less episodes’ strategy and just get back to writing good quality episodes.

4/10

TV Review: Dara O Briain’s Science Club (Episode 1) – Aired BBCTwo Tuesday 6th November

Available on BBC Iplayer until Friday the 16th November

How did the creation of bicycles enhance human genetic variety? Is sex the best way of moving the species along? Are we related to the Neanderthals? Just three of the selection of questions asked on the new BBC show: ‘Dara O Briain’s Science Club’. Though not extensive, the show gives a good amount of information that is presented in a user-friendly way. O Briain is joined by : Professor Steve Jones a well-known geneticist who self-proclaims to his students how he “makes sex boring”, Alok Jha who asks if the Human Genome Project was truly worthwhile, Tali Sharot who investigates the Epigenome as the future for genetics, Ed Byrne who investigates how Neanderthal he is, and Mark Miadownik who presents a DNA extraction experiment that people can do at home.

Although reading the content, it may look quite confusing or stuffy, Dara O Briain magically transforms and brings interest from what would normally be a generic science show. It’s like his face being on the front cover suddenly adds friendliness. It’s also quite refreshing to see him in a more serious setting, as while his witty nature does shine through; don’t expect the comedy chat show we usually see him in. However, Dara O Briain is a tool, here, to bring science welcomingly to the public eye: which can’t be a bad thing.

One quite confusing part of the show was the sudden reveal of the mechanics of a bicycle. Here I was expecting them to somehow link these inner workings either to sex or genetics, in some fascinating metaphor… but it proved to literally just be a tangent. Did the producers run out of things to include? I mean, sure it was interesting… if poorly linked-in to the rest of the show, but was it really worth a five minute slot? However, most of the content was interesting. It was displayed in a way for the general public to understand. While it deals with some less-known ‘biology’ terminology: such as genome, epigenome and chromosome, it made a point to explain them. You do get a sense of wondering who this show is aiming for, however. It seems a little too basic to be aiming for the scientific community, yet it also warrants a certain type of viewer. It’s not a show you’d watch after wandering home from the pub. It requires a slight interest in genetics, but it also works hard to capture interest by branching and linking genes to other areas (such as stating that the bicycle was the saviour of variety).  It was quite pleasing, for example, to see the inclusion of the do-it-yourself experiment where you could extract DNA. This helps make genetics interactive, which I think would do well: especially in younger audiences.

Overall, I think the show is a cleverly planned, interesting science show. The inclusion of Dara O Briain was genius, and shows like this are keys to attracting more people to the realms of science. I would have liked to see a little more interactivity, which might have been generated by a clearer target audience.  However, I’ll be sure to join in next week for the next captivating science lesson.

Rating: 6/10