Archive for March, 2008

Monster Mash: Semi-Finals

Monday, March 31st, 2008


It’s Semi-Final time! And it appears Mr Pertwee was right when he modestly claimed that his monsters were best. Three out of four semi-finalists in this round are from his Golden Era. And it would have been a clean sweep too, if it wasn’t for those pesky Toclafane. We don’t get the Sontaran/Rutan clash some might have expected, but at least one of the teams made it through. Let’s see what we’re up with:

Location: The Clifftops
Teams: Toclafane v Ogrons
It’s on! The big match of the whole semi-final! Both teams undefeated, and let’s not forget – the Toclafane might be able to fly, might have crafty wee blades all over them, but the Ogrons have guns! That’s right.  And not only that, but they have another ace up their sleeve, because baby – it’s their Wild Card round, and they’ll never have another encounter more fitting to pull out their biggest weapon…

The Shapeless Beast of Raagh!!
A bulk the size of several bears, its lipless mouth quivers, its skin glistens like wet leather, it is the terror that knows no name, and today it’s at the Ape-men’s beck and call. But will it be enough…?

 Initiative goes to the Toclafane. Good luck kids!

Location: The Jetty
Teams: Sea Devils v Sontarans
The Warriors of the Deep face the Warriors from the Stars. Both packing their own kind of heat. Initative goes to the Sea Devils – who’s for an early bath?

Voting deadline for this round is midnight Wednesday.

Pray-sa Your Bets – Naowr!

Back With a Bang

Sunday, March 30th, 2008


Here it is, all secrets revealed, the mysterious pasts unveiled. At long last, we find out what Ianto did with Lisa, why Tosh was at the hospital when the space pig was taken there, how Owen forced his way into the team, and where was Jack when he didn’t know anything about what Torchwood did at a hospital during World War One…

Oh, hang on, scratch that. We don’t find out any of those things, and we do find out negates most of those things! Well done chaps, anyone want to try again? Or, on second thoughts, considering that one of the creators couldn’t even get it right, don’t try again, and pretend this never happened. People complain about continuity and canon, usually in regards to the books, etc., but what happens when episodes from earlier in the current series are blatantly contradicted?

Leaving that point alone, what do we find out? Tosh was brilliant, Ianto is nearly capable (this is new!), Owen is a doctor, and Jack lived a long time and beats up on aliens… Uh, really detailed character histories there. There is the “show don’t tell” principle, but there’s nothing shown here that couldn’t have been told (and dealt better than way) in five words or less. And thinking about it, if Jack was really around that long, working for Torchwood (which might have been “outside the government, beyond the police, denied by the Queen” with those two in charge), he really isn’t saying what he knows and is pretending ignorance, so comes out tops for being revealed as a total twat.

(As for the only interesting member of Torchwood, namely Suzie, what do we get? Jack issuing an order, but interrupted before she could reply. Fine, the actress probably wasn’t available, or it wasn’t worth getting her back in (or the production team didn’t care), but it would have been nice to fill that out with actual real details. Maybe even a CGI appearance a la the pterodactyl? However, probably find out she really cared about life and never had a mean bone in her body…)

Finding out about people’s histories can be interesting, and some people have been asking “how did these people end up in Torchwood?” On the other hand, pretending to blow up people and then spending the episode finding out nothing happened (on any level) is just annoying. (To be honest, just watch the Declassified. A lot shorter, clearer about events, and far more interesting.) Anyone really up for a third series of this?


Fast Return: March 2008

Saturday, March 29th, 2008


For the love of dog will someone explain why people re-post general series news on the NZDWFC Message Board? Seriously guys – do you think we don’t read any other pages on the Internet? Is the Doctor Who News Page a foreign country to us all? What do you think you’re adding – local insight? Stop! Now! Arrgh!

Eh? He’s going to sell his collection of Doctor Who memorabilia including the TARDIS, Cyberman and K9 he meticulously spent several years building from scratch? Tch – back in the old days any self-respecting born-again would have consigned the lot to the incinerator in the back yard. Go on, mate – burn those rare 1960s annuals! Burn them!
(thanks again to Alden for the link)

In development hell for three years, BBV has finally unleashed its long-awaited spin-off ripe for a new family market boosted by the original series’ return. Well, in this case ‘Family’ means dads and adolescent lads, but what’s a little full-frontal nudity good for if not advancing the plot, eh? What’s that you say – publicity? Not for us to say, guv…

Actually for a change it hasn’t! Which is good now that April’s nearly among us (at least someone doesn’t still think it’s Christmas). So now we’re onto another riveting full-page update on events so closely aligned to the series - Stacy and Bradley from Eastenders.
Er, excellent.

Are you sure about that mate? Fans of Torchwood who loved the carnival action of Out of the Rain but yearn still for some more past-life detail on Captain Jack could do worse than check out this feature including ‘evidence’ of one of John Barrowman’s own past lives, courtesy of the great Charlie Brooker. Scary. [May not be safe for work]

You might have missed this. If you didn’t don’t worry – there are still plenty of Toby and Grandma Noface dolls for anyone wishing to front up with the recently adjusted monies ($19 again if you’re interested).

Ever since someone stuck an alligator in a shell-suit and called it an Ice Warrior we’ve all been entranced by alternative designs for DW monsters. Niklas Jansson from Itch Studios had a go at this last year, concentrating on some of the more innovative original designs of the 60s monsters. You can find them here. Nice Cyberman!


Well, if we’re talking a brilliant mash-up between Benny Hill, Eminem and the whole damned series so far, then… yes.

Island of Lost Souls

Thursday, March 27th, 2008


I think it Declassified has taught us anything (and it tries not to) it’s that this episode is all about… of course… PC Andy! He just wants to be on the inside with Gwen, and who wouldn’t want to be with him. He’s just so cute and cuddly! He is… Ianto, done nicely! I have to say that I prefer him to Ianto, so could we swap one for the other please? He’s proven he’s capable and tries to stand up to Gwen, which immediately gives him two points over Ianto, with the third being he’s not involved with naked man sex with Jack (which we also get to see in this episodes, at least making the fangirls happy). He also has more comic potential, which the series needs (done properly, note!)… but is in complete contrast to the rest of the episode (what a segue!).

The rest of the episode is all gloom and hopelessness as Gwen finds out that the Rift can take people (which shouldn’t be all that surprising), spit them out again, and force Jack to cover it up. Because he’s never done that before. Just like he’s never done other stuff without letting the team know. (As Gwen points out, “he’s a law unto himself”.) The episodes do vary as to who is the star of any particular episode, but the series has always struggled with the overall focus being on either Gwen or Jack. In many ways, it opts for Gwen, as the way in for the audience, but this then forces Jack into the background, making him more shadowy as he knows more than everyone else (Seventh Doctor anyone?). This does give a struggle to Jack to be his charming likable self and this dark manipulator he has to portray due to the plot point of the week, and the writers are taking to dealing with this rather bluntly. Case in point: Jack has the island (a positive for him taking care of matters), but keeps the information to himself (a negative in that it gives the team another reason not to trust him). No half-way position allowed, such as telling the rest of the team. Since I’m sure the rest of the team would have agreed with Jack that these people can’t be brought back into society, he could easily have told them, and made for a nice character point, but then we can’t be having that in this forced story clash. If nothing else, this episode shows the rest of the team getting in Jack’s way, and his way is looking to be the right way, so the writers aren’t doing too well with sowing dissent.

If it wasn’t for the direct tie-in into Torchwood activities, this episode would be another filler in yet another series of them. As it is, a lot of the problems here could easily be solved by judicious use of retcon (which would nicely deal with Nikki’s lack of hope issue). Perhaps we could all just accept that Jack does know best and move on, eh?


Monster Mash: Quarter Final

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen – here are your final eight!

The following monsters have prove their mettle in numerous arenas with several bouts between them. Undefeated, they will face one another to see who gets through to the final four and the semi-finals this time next week. The first team announced for each bout is awarded initiative.Let’s play…

Location: The Desert
Teams: Cheetah People vs Ogrons
The Cheetah People are back on their horses! Apex predators who hunt in packs with great speed and skill against the aforementioned monkeys with guns. On foot. Thoughts?

Location: The Pinnacles
Teams: Axons vs Toclafane
A gestalt being which absorbs energy and organic matter and delivers fatal plasma strikes against insane flying cyborgs with their own built-in forcefield. What do you think?

Location: The Crater Lake
Teams: Sea Devils vs Rutans
Both have an affinity for water and neither like heat very much. The Sea Devils have a range weapon while the Rutan deliver their shock largely by touch. Neither are great shakes in a cross country event. So…?

Location: The Standing Stones
Teams: Ice Warriors vs Sontarans
It’s another battle between heavily-armoured warrior races! Will the Ice Warriors be out-manouevered by the Trolls from Sontar, or will the taller team win? Over to you!

 Voting as usual is via the feedback form below. Let’s get this party started!

The Cinema of Unease

Friday, March 21st, 2008


This was a great episode where Sapphire and Steel investigated children coming out of photographs… hang on… I mean, this is a terrible episode where Ianto and Jack investigate circus folk coming out of film (although I won’t say who was Sapphire and who was Steel). Yeah, what the hey? Is there anyone in control over at Torchwood productions? Were they so dazzled by the fact that “this is PJ Hammond!” that none of them went “hang on, didn’t we see this already?” [Certainly, PJH baldly states in the Declassified that he wanted to rewrite the S&S episode.]

Last time PJH wrote for Torchwood, it was a Jack-centric episode that revealed a past acquaintance. Now we have this new episode, centred largely around Jack, and reveals a past life as a circus freak (Something Borrowed already revealed a past acquaintance). Although I will admit that Ianto fills a significant role in this story too, so we do have a pair of leads (as for the rest of the team… what did they do again?). The split is the more emotive Ianto versus the more stoic and forceful Jack (no, I won’t say who is Sapphire and who is Steel), but it’s a good dynamic that’s developed that doesn’t revolve around either sex or tea (we can but hope they haven’t combined the two). In many ways, it’s like PJH is writing Jack not Torchwood. Perhaps someone should pass him a copy of the series bible.

Anyway… circuses! What is it about circuses that people think they are such a source of horror? I never did, don’t have clown fear, but will admit that Circus on Ice is pretty scary. That said, these carnies aren’t the usual sort. Not many people will let you stick their fingers down your throat, or give out tickets to your kid, so they are abnormal plus (water girl should have just sent everyone running!). But that isn’t what’s really scary about this episode. Consider that this is episode ten. Episode ten! And this is what we’ve got? Torchwood series two showed such promise, and yet we have crazy weddings, frightening carnie stereotypes and it looks like next week the padding continues! Perhaps we can defeat this if we expose the film to bright lights? Although I’m not sure it works for avi files or DVDs (that said, I’ve no idea why it should work for circus performers who escaped from film either).

If you’ve got nothing better to do that watch this, fine, but otherwise I recommend the original.


Monster Mash: Round Three

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008


Greetings, ladies and gentlemen to this, Round Three of our inaugural Monster Mash, and the first encounter between the winners of our first two rounds!

We’re seated here in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, a mosaic landscape of wildly varying terrain and climates to determine the answer to that most enduring of questions: Which Doctor Who Monster could beat all the others up before breakfast?

Winners are decided by YOU through the etheric medium of the feedback form below, with ties to be adjudicated by our glamorous assistant, the utterly lovely Jonovoratrelundar. Sixteen teams will be slugging it out today, to become eight a week from today, and then four, and then two, and then. Well, the Spice Girls put it best.

But to a different set of monsters – let’s meet our teams!

Here are the Winners of Rounds One and Two: (more…)

Altared States

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008


A constant question this series has been “is the comedy of episode one a one-off or a new series direction?” i.e. “Where is the comedy?” After watching this episode, the question is now “can we not have comedy again, please?” Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang shows that Torchwood can do comedy, but lightly. Something Borrowed is not light comedy, it’s a run-around laugh fest (according to RTD that is. And this is the same Declassified that had to pad out its own episode with two minutes of next week’s episode. Says it all, really.). Don’t believe me? Allow to say “Banana Boat” and dismiss your objections (not to mention Gwen’s baby nearly being born in a stable, not that Torchwood is into religious connotations or anything). But this isn’t to say that there aren’t worthy moments. Such as… nothing’s coming to mind, to be honest. No, this episode isn’t bad, per se, just that the moments that aren’t cringingly-comedic are merely… Meh.

Where it isn’t comedy, it’s going for “relation-ship dynamics”, which is this episode is mainly the Jack-Gwen-Rhys love triangle. Everyone watching knows that Rhys should even bother turning up (and next week’s episode puts paid to any ideas of an extended romantic honeymoon away), but this does give everyone a pairing, and we’re just one tasteless moment away from necrophilia for the entire team to be getting it on. This could be considered as a resolution to many of the character arcs, aside from the Jack/Gwen one (which will never be) and the Jack/Grey character arc (which I am presuming will be resolved by the end of this series – or provide a cliff-hanger). Some might see this as tying up loose ends, perhaps even a tying up of the series, but this is a very loose knot. If this is indeed the case, we could live with it, but I’m sure the producers could easily break the knot should further character development ever come to mind.

In a desperate attempt to find something deeper, we could parse “Nostrovite” as “Our life”. This is a couple who are bringing a new child into the world, and going to extreme length to complete their responsibilities. To this end, they interrupt the rather crazy world of Torchwood, presenting Gwen and Rhys a taste of life to come as they mature and raise a family. Unfortunately, this is then undercut by the need to have a monster-du-semaine, and so we are suddenly flashing back to the Buffy episode Hell’s Bells and recalling a far better attempt at this concept than Torchwood will ever be capable of.

As the “wacky zany wedding episode”, I wish they hadn’t. As a thought-provoking character piece, I wish they’d tried. Let’s just acknowledge that it could have been so much worse and leave it at that.


Monster Mash: Round Two

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008


We’re back in the Death Zone of Gallifrey, where the grimmest and greatest of televisual Doctor Who monsters are slugging it out for the coveted tiara of infamy – first prize in our inaugural Monster Mash! True to the original Death Zone the Daleks and Cybermen will not be making an appearance because a) they’re ‘too good’ at the game and b) that rivalry has already been played out and not everyone was happy. We couldn’t allow a rematch – there’s simply too much at stake!

But first: Round One Results:

The battles were hard fought – one was a weird struggle between crustaceans and creepers, another looked like a squad of Vogans beating themselves up. They fought on the causeway, in the air, and in the ice caves; but in the end only one team of each location could be the winner.

Ultimately two bouts were so close they ended in a tie, so we had to go to our impartial touch judge, the glamorous Jonovoratrelundar to give us the casting vote. And the winners are:

Ice Warriors, Sycorax, Refusians, Tractators, Menoptra, Rutans, Krynoids and Draconians.

Each team will return in Round Three, to face a new enemy apiece. And so the game continues after the fold… (more…)

Post Mortem Ante Meridian

Friday, March 7th, 2008


Officer 565 is down, but not out. Like the famous bunny, he just keeps going and going and… sigh. Everything character based with Owen has now been neutered so why are we still suffering him? Does Burn have an unbreakable contract or something? His dramatic death has been completely undercut, so now his death status is just going to be a “fixture” of Torchwood that will be referenced occasionally… yep, he’s become the pterodactyl.

This raises the question of why? What’s the point? Why is he still around? The arc only has real impact if there is lasting influence, and his death and Martha being around now has no impact. If Owen had died and stayed dead, that would have been something, but no. If Martha had been killed, that would have meant something (extreme outrage from the fans for one…), but she was sidelined.

Has this whole three parter been as relevant as Random Shoes? Plotwise, no, as this arc was actually about the Torchwood team. But character-wise, it appears so. Stuff happened, but let’s move on and never talk about it again. Torchwood series two has built up some great character development, and I was really liking it, but now it’s just gone to crud. Hopefully the back five will pick up again.

But, hey, Richard Briers! Yay! Let us speak no more about Paradise Towers, as seeing him in this made for the one bright point in the otherwise doom-laded script (Joseph Lidster does seem incapable of writing anything else), and he gives a lovely performance that actually makes you like the character despite the sparse three minutes he’s on screen. I’d ask for more of him, but that might be a bit tricky (although we have now proved that death doesn’t stop anyone from staying the series…). But he is so wonderful he made it into the Declassified and we hear him talk about the part… go Richard Briers! (And the Declassified also features the Owen vs Cardiff Bay scene cut to a new soundtrack that’s just begging to be fleshed out into a YouTube video.)

Ugh. The arc is over, for all it doesn’t matter. Let us move on and try to forget about this period in our lives…