Archive for September, 2007

Power from the People!

Friday, September 28th, 2007


Off the bat, let me say: I enjoyed these episodes! Oh, I’ll bitch about things in just a moment, but I had fun watching them. This story is very much aimed at the children, but it isn’t childish. The story doesn’t talk down, just gets on with it.

This story could be considered as School Reunion with the Slitheen replacing the Krillitanes. The Slitheen are a great metaphor for teachers being monsters, although, like School Reunion, the story doesn’t make any real use of that. The best we get is along the lines of ‘that teacher isn’t a threat’, but then… Instead, the story is about how the Slitheen are planning to, well, get revenge (as it happens), and just happen to be at the school where Maria and Luke happen to be – and this brings up an amazing co-incidental accident of the script. Why should this school play the pivotal role it does? Co-incidence always plays a big part in most Doctor Who adventures, but there really is no excuse for one this big this soon. The fact that the story doesn’t make much use of the school aspect emphases this more.

But the story needs to be lightweight as the episodes have another role to play: re-introducing the world of Sarah Jane Adventures. This is helped by the introduction of the character of Clyde Langer (replacing Kelsey from Invasion of the Bane) who gets to ask ‘what’s that?’ Any resemblance to one Mickey Smith is, I’m sure, purely an accident of casting. Thus we are treated to slabs of exposition which could easily explain why this story was two episodes long!

That all said, the threat are the Slitheen, whom, I have to say, are less threatening here than in Aliens of London/World War Three. We get no fast moving CGI versions, so we are treated to Paul Kasey doing his best monster lumbering, providing plenty of excuses as to how everyone outruns them (the Slitheen are supposed to be great hunters??), and their claws aren’t really designed for the machines they wanted built. Still, at least they aren’t doing the whole George Bush parody, and we do get a kid-friendly version, and there’s tons of farting for children to chuckle at (I did wonder if the fans were in mind with the whole Clyde/Luke ‘is farting funny?’ runner).

Now, Doctor Who often requires a blind eye towards the accurate end of technology, but what happens here not only takes the cake, but also steals the entire kitchen! The Slitheen are stealing energy, from every source, be it electrical or heat or… and the machinery that makes this happen incidentally causes cellular decay… but humans are cellular and produce heat (and low level electricity), yet no humans are harmed by this process? The hey?? Hand-waving physics are all very well, but there are some basics that might occur to people.

I did say at the beginning that I did enjoy this adventure, and the reason for that can be easily summed up: the cast. It really is great to see Elizabeth Sladen back as Sarah Jane, but the lion’s share of this episode goes to Yasmin Paige (Maria), Tommy Knight (Luke), Daniel Anthony (Clyde) and Martyn Ellis and Ian Midlane as the teachers. The cast really invest themselves in their parts, bringing a smile to the face when the rest of the story doesn’t. The production team score highly here, and it’ll be this group of people that have the power to make Sarah Jane Adventures a success.

Revenge of the Slitheen was as much a second pilot to SJA as anything else, borrowing on the Slitheen threat to make an impact and introducing the new cast and themes that’ll no doubt play out over the year (one definite arc is that involving ‘family’). As long as the actors are buoyant, they’ll make up for any downfall in story, making SJA a very watchable series.


September still screaming

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007


[Since the editors can't stop me! - JE]

Since September isn’t over yet, this is Fast Return – Return Faster!

This just in: the Shalka is making its bid for freedom! Mount Ruapehu, famed in song and jerky internet video, has just erupted, and everyone is talking about it! (At least, I’m overhearing the occasional comment at work.)

Now, while we can’t be positive that this really is the birth pangs of an alien entity, I think we still all still move to a certain English village and see if any bar maids need help…

Fast Return – September 2007

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007


Aaand welcome to a new month’s worth of Fast Return – September-flavoured!

It’s been what they call a ‘slow news month’ out there in the Interior, but we’re doing our best to see that all the news that’s fit to burst for the past month gets… er, burst. On the other hand your regular Fast Returners won’t be around after mid-next week to post this, so this is what you get! No more news from here until October everyone…


So what the Hepesh was that all about? DW Online ‘report’ that they’ve [allegedly] heard “rumours” of a new missing episode find and that it [allegedly] might be something from The Web of Fear. Cue fanboy frothing and not a lot of ‘squee’-ing because we had more self-control back in 1968. Anyway, end of the month, no discoveries of the episodes (but check out that careful wording DWO used – it’s only their job to report rumour, not investigate it. How very modern media!), more than a few angry fans and in all likelihood a very healthy hit-rate for DWO! Not that we’re suggesting anything or anything.

Anyway, there’s got to be nothing more forlorn than a news site that doesn’t ‘do’ news, so in order to inject some purpose to the whole affair and give those plump net-potato fingers a bit of a workout, why not go here instead…

Has anyone informed OG yet?

All quiet in Hamilton you say?

But in case last month’s mention of Adam Rickit was just too too ‘niche’ for you genre-afficionados, here’s a list of some properly DW-connected actors who have also appearaed in New Zealand soap operas.

Ilona Rogers
Bruce Purchase
Alan Dale
[that's enough pushing old non-news items -Ed.]

Kudos to Gareth Roberts for putting the Slitheen in a programme where they’re a hundred per cent guaranteed to find their target audience – the Sarah Jane Adventures. Kids love ‘em, adults… not so much. Seriously – good move. Could you imagine the Torchwood team coming up against them? Say, in a follow up to Combat?

Cool! Just when the cost of living increases yet again and crude oil prices send the plastics industry into conniptions, here’s a new range of DW miniatures ready for the fan market. Although it was nice and unexpected to hear that the ‘half’ new figure actually was a scaled-down figure after all. And it’s Mister Sin! Bless.

With their purported love of ‘shopping list production’ it’s somehow inevtiable that Rusty Davies and Gaz Russell should find a mutual playground in Torchwood. How intriguing for fan speculators to read in the pages of SFX an actual list of Series 4 ‘ingredients’ for a forthcoming publication – a sort of Tenth Doctor’s Dictionary, if you will – only actually completed this time and done by a publisher. Ahem. Said ingredients make for an interesting cake: Enid Blyton (we suspect Gary’s hand in that inclusion unless he’s planning a return to acting), bannakaffalatta (banana coffee perhaps?), Sensorites (ignore it, it’s probably a Gloss reference). The acronym for Gareth Roberts’ story is apparently TUAWT, although it might be one of RTD’s naughty anagrams for all we know. Truth be told, we love this guessing game stuff – so much better than ‘Stay Tuned’!

AND FINALLY… some music
Dean Gray’s Doctor Who on Holiday (courtesy of YouTube).

Jono English 3

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Here’s Jono. In front of a TARDIS. Outside at night (Earl’s Court?) 


Torchwood season 2 – the home stretch!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007


And here we are again, we brave, happy few, for this the final part of our TorchBall extravaganza. This time, we’re peering into the glass to see what we can expect on our screens once the new season begins. Vanessa Williams once sang ‘sometimes you save the best for last’. Well, dear, that’s as may be. On this blog however, the best you’ll get is a mixed bag!

Oh, but we’re a cynical lot, for if there’s one over-riding ‘vibe’ to our prognoses it’s that we’re likely to get… more of the same?

“One episode per person again” muttered Jamas darkly. “Lots of focus on Torchwood dealing with small things, making us wonder how they are so powerful… Getting an alien device and screwing up how to use it to create the problem.”Oh dear. “The return of the pterodactyl.” Yes. “More about Jack’s past, making strange references to being in the past that everyone blitherly ignores.” I see, and what’s this?“Far too much about the characters having sex with each other.”

Well it is what the folks in modern telly call ‘drama’, I think. Or is it ‘characterisation’? Or were they the Weevils again? Hang on, here’s Jon:

“More of what we got last year!” Er, and…?“The final episode will fail to live up to what the previous 12 had built up to (as per series one). Yet more bickering between the characters. They are supposed to be a professional organisation, but instead they sometimes act like spoilt kids on a school outing! If they kill someone off, then the follow-on effects of this must be dealt with across the whole season.” Oh Jon – sit down!

So for the moment we’ve ventured back into what we’d LIKE to see or SHOULD see (our previous installments). Jon continues:

“We know Jack can’t die, so they really need to stop putting him in close-death situations. Stick someone else (Ianto or Tosh) in that position instead.”

Dear me. Jon really has it in for Ianto and Tosh, doesn’t he? Maybe it doesn’t have to be this way? Maybe Jack will get to say “tonight – nobody dies!” in one epsode? Or will he just slink off with Ianto and a stopwatch again, being all enigmatic? We can’t know. Well, we’re told that Jack will be more ‘fun’ next year, but will this mean that last year’s dark stuff will be papered over? And will the fans like THAT? We’re a fickle bunch.


Torchwood Season 2 – what needs to happen…

Saturday, September 15th, 2007


Welcome back to our look into Torchwood‘s 2008! This time we ask our panel “What would you LIKE to see?”, in other words: what they think SHOULD be a feature of next season in terms of story, continuity, character development, tone, et cetera. We’ve a slightly shorter installment today, with Dave sitting this one out (but look out for his expanded comments in RTP 25)

In our first part you’ll recall that the character of Owen took some hits as something the panel would like to see attended to, improved, or just mutilated in some horrible way. Sadly, as a ‘need-to-have’ Owen doesn’t get off lightly today either. JE:”Owen has been infected by the Weevil, and starts turning into one. In fact, that’s how they are created!” and “Rhys will find out about Owen”. So, either way, a world of pain for Torchwood‘s resident wide-mouth frog. That said, the show’s signature alien race has clearly made an impression, with Al wishing to see “The origin of the Weevils dealt with (are they the slave race of another species?)” Perhaps Al will get his wish – who knows?

Origins were a key feature of our last panel of course, and this time our experts continue to express the urge to poke and pry into the wider world of Torchwood beyond The Hub. Jon suggested “The first episode needs to acknowledge and deal with the (world-wide shattering) ramifications following the violent deaths of both the US President and PM (as seen in Sound of the Last Time Lord Drums), rather than shrug if off with a ’X Months Later’ caption and no mention of it by the Torchwood team”. He’d also like to see “more revealed about the Rift and how it works. We don’t fully understand how it functions, or what it actually is – is it natural or ‘man-made’? (From the Time War?)”, which was also briefly (and more directly) covered by Jamas last time. Foo thought “Some history / background to Torchwood Cardiff itself, how it was built, when, and by whom?” would be a good place to go as well.


Jono English 2

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Fresh off the interwebs today…

Pure evil distilled, the enemy of all that is right and good. Pictured here with John Simm.


Torchwood Season 2

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007


 Greetings, and welcome to another instalment of Crystal Ball. This time looking at the curiously-anticipated forthcoming second series of Torchwood. I say curiously-anticipated because since last year’s run the show has had, to put it kindly, mixed reviews. Far beyond the ‘Marmite’ label, the series has issues – with common complaints of poor writing, a juvenile sense of what ‘adult’ drama actually entails, unsympathetic characters and uninspiring storylines. A lot was riding on this series, and one idea that came out of what eventuated was that too little preparation was given to the programme, resulting in a mish-mash of styles and treatments. The series is premiering in the USA, and Ain’t It Cool News caught wind of it. The talkback speaks for itself… Series two arrives early next year, so it’s time to ask our panel what they’d like to see.

In fact, we’ll be asking the panel three things – what they’d LIKE to see (their wish list where anything goes and indulgence of the fan is the order of the day); what they WANT to see (the things they think ought to return or be introduced to improve the series); and what they think we WILL see. Because the panel’s answers make for a lenghty article we’ve chooped this one up into three sections, with each section arriving on a different day. Today it’s LIKE’s turn. Our panel consists of: DR (David Ronayne), JP (Jon Preddle), AB (Alden Bates), AH (Alistair Hughes), JE (Jamas Enright) and SB (Stuart ‘Foo’ Brown). 

Q: ‘What Would You LIKE To See?’

Straight off the block on this one, our panel held very little back, some using this category to suggest improvements. Which, strictly speaking, can be a wish list in itself, so here goes. “Competence!” cried JE, while DR wanted Torchwood the series “To grow up”. Some of the storytelling got a fair whack as well, including: “No more deux ex machina solutions” (JP) and to expand from SB: “Well written stories which don’t have cop out or Deus Ex Machina endings”. Honestly, it’s like we’re on the same page here, people! “An episode free of annoying characters. (hmm… not sure who would still be around.)” – that was JE again, and “Plots that work – rather than the weekly alien thingee falls through the rift, stuffs some people up, the team shag, and Jack pulls a solution out of a hat.” from DR. JP was even more specific with “More care taken with internal continuity : date-wise, series 1 seemed to cover mid-2007 to mid-2008, which is nearly a whole year, and yet from a character development point of view, it seems to be only a few months.” Okay, enough negativity guys; what would you like to SEE?


Jono English

Friday, September 7th, 2007



Well apart from the worst tube strikes in a decade, all is well in Ing-Ge-Land.

jonoben1.jpgOnly been here four days and have done much! Seeing John Simm in a Westend (well… Whitehall) comedy tomorrow which should be good – been getting rave reviews.
A few pics attached, including one from Hamleys – super Who section.


All Change…

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007


So then. Season Five is on – but not until 2010, and it’s unconfirmed whether David Tennant will be returning. In the mean-time we’ve a full year of the Tenth Doctor plus three one-off TV movies (well, two and the now traditional Christmas Special). What form those movies will take is yet to be revealed, and we may well expect it to be some time before anything concrete emerges. Perhaps they’ll be self-contained, perhaps they’ll be linked, perhaps these movies will way-lay any concerns over flagging audience figures by featuring ‘big gun’ monsters and villains? Perhaps it’s too early for predictions. But the reactions are coming in thick and fast, as you’d expect.

Kasterborous don’t like it.

BehindtheSofa are a little more balanced

And the NZDWFC Message Board is buzzing. As it should be.

It all comes down to how you interpret the news and the BBC spin. There’s cause for concern – a possible loss of momentum, fewer stories, the Doctor a little less outside of centre stage (although in a fifth year the show would be doing well to be still occupying that spot, surely?) On the other hand, it’s very encouraging to see the BBC display such faith in the show’s lead character that they will seemingly give him leave to pursue some work with the RSC. Maybe that’s a sign of a healthy franchise. And who knows – we may still have Torchwood and Sarah Jane to bide us over in the mean-time (that’s a BIG may!)

The series has changed before, and the new series was a change in itself. Telly ain’t what it was when the Doctor last took a hiatus. Here’s hoping the signs will be right for a happy return for season five.