Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Shetland - Season Four (Episode One)

Malone: 'You know, your daughter didna deserve this. But you did.'

If there was ever a perfect time to watch Shetland, it must surely be a cold February night, with the wind howling around the eaves, rain thrashing the latticed windows, and a gigantic bowl of porridge on your lap. I unashamedly love Shetland. Whether that's because it's so different from other UK detective dramas, or because I think the sun shines out of Ann Cleeves' bottom, who can say? What I do know is that Tuesday nights just got a whole lot murderier.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time

Doctor: 'You're right, you know. The universe generally fails to be a fairy-tale. But that's where we come in.'

I'm in two minds about this year's Christmas episode. On the one hand, it tugged at my heartstrings, making me laugh, cheer, and cry. On the other, it made me wince, frown, and basically wonder who'd nicked the plot. It was a bit sparse, wasn't it? I'm not against villain-less episodes, but there really didn't feel like much of a story, and although the emotional stuff got me in the feels, even that felt somewhat unsatisfying.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls (2)

Doctor: 'Bill. I will fix this. I will get you back again, I swear.'

Despite not being Moffat's finest season, this was a powerful finale. The Master and Missy, although perhaps slightly underused, traded tremendously entertaining, sometimes moving, dialogue; Bill's story came to a surprisingly uplifting conclusion; even Nardole's journey, despite my earlier reservations, felt completely worthwhile. And I loved that final scene. If it means we get a two Doctors Christmas episode, then I'm as happy as a Doctor with two hearts.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Doctor Who: World Enough and Time (1)

Bill: 'I... waited... for... you.'

Well, it may have taken us eleven weeks to get here, but we finally got our first stand-out episode of the season. Its only weakness was that its main reveals were already known to us, but since that was by design rather than by accident, then I'm not sure we can really complain. (Of course, I do below.) At last, a story that was genuinely engaging, mostly free from the story glitches that have thus far plagued the season, and that featured not one but two captivating Masters.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Doctor Who: The Eaters of LIght

Doctor: 'That's the trouble with hope... it's hard to resist.'

I almost never read spoiler-free reviews prior to an episode airing, but with tonight's story heralding the return of Rona Munro, after a wait of almost 28 years, I couldn't seem to help myself. I'm not going to lie: the reviews were less than dazzling. One described 'The Eaters of Light' as 'underdeveloped', another called some of its plot elements 'forced', and a third complained about the now customary mention of Bill's lesbianism. Personally, I found it rather enjoyable. Which confirms what I've suspected for some time now: I am hopelessly at odds with what virtually everyone else is thinking.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Doctor Who: Empress of Mars

Doctor: 'There's no setting for wood. Why is there still no setting for wood?'

This was by no stretch of the imagination Mark Gatiss' best episode, but it was far from being his worst. The dialogue was at times bland, the contrived way in which he split up his three main protagonists clumsy, and Catchlove was a walking cliche. Thankfully, the return of the Ice Warriors and an unexpected voice cameo from Ysanne Churchman injected some interest into the proceedings—I just wish there'd been more Nardy. There, I said it and the world didn't end.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Doctor Who: The Lie of the Land (3)

Doctor: 'I thought I was just being kind, but I was saving the world.'

As a one-parter, I think this would have been a half-decent episode. As the culmination of a three-part story, however, it felt sadly lacking. It was at times funny, the acting was occasionally excellent, and the premise had oodles of potential. What a pity the conclusion was so weak. It wasn't quite a love-saves-the-day style cop-out, but it came perilously close.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Doctor Who: The Pyramid at the End of the World (2)

Bill: 'How would I know the president? I mean, I wouldn't have even voted for him. He's orange.'

After the return to form that was 'Oxygen' and 'Extremis', we're currently three for three after yet another tale reluctant to give up its secrets. I confess, I'm loving the three-part format. Since Chibnall's no stranger to serialised storytelling, here's hoping that he milks the crap out of it next season; the show's clearly so much better when the stories are allowed to breathe. Unless Daleks and Manhattan are involved.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Doctor Who: Extremis (1)

Doctor: 'In darkness, we are revealed'.

This was the first really interesting episode of the season. After the more linear opening stories, this felt like classic Moffat: with its fractured narrative, ugly-AF bad guys, returning classic adversary, and half-answered questions. Which means the internet's already whining about not getting enough answers. At the end of the first part of a three-part story. Which actually gave us plenty of answers. Yeah, the internet's great.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Doctor Who: Oxygen

Doctor: 'Bill, I've got no TARDIS, no sonic, about ten minutes of oxygen left, and now I'm blind. Can you imagine how unbearable I'm gonna be when I pull this off.'

This felt like the first solid episode of the season—just as I was beginning to fear one would never materialise. The story filled its running time comfortably, its main characters were effectively used, and the CGI was the best we've had all season. Even Matt Lucas earned his wages this week. I quite enjoyed Nardole, actually. Not that he added anything essential to the story, but at least I didn't feel like slapping him.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Doctor Who: Knock Knock

Bill: 'Basically, this is the bit of my life you're not in.'

If I'm honest, this season is turning into what I imagined next season would be, with its vanilla stories, super-friendly Doctor, and simpler season arc. Not a bad thing if done correctly, but I can't help but feel the show's lost some of its pzazz. I know the convoluted storytelling of seasons five and six was confusing to many (myself included), but I'd sooner be utterly baffled by an episode than have little to say about it.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Doctor Who: Thin Ice

Doctor: 'There are situations when the options available are limited.'

Well, this felt more like a Christmas episode than the Christmas episode. It had a festive fair (not to mention festive flair and arrestive hair), falling snow, not too stinky street urchins, and a whopping big Christmas pud with holly on top. This was also Sarah Dollard's second attempt at a Doctor Who story, and after the unmitigated success of 'Face the Raven', was it another 'Nightmare in Silver' (Neil Gaiman's rather pungent second abomination), or did it reach the lofty heights of Paul Cornell's 'Human Nature'?

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Doctor Who: Smile

Doctor: 'I met an emperor made of algae once. He fancied me.'

With shades of 'The Happiness Patrol' and 'Ark in Space', this felt like an episode from the classic era. Internet consensus seems to be that it was a better episode for Frank Cottrell-Boyce than his earlier effort, 'In the Forest of the Night'. Well, yes it was... but that's hardly a ringing endorsement. It's like saying that nappy rash is better than piles. It's likely true, but you still wouldn't want either infesting your nether regions.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Doctor Who: The Pilot

Bill: 'I can't just call you the Doctor. Doctor what?'

I'm not going to lie, I've been decidedly lukewarm about season ten. The teasers failed to tease me, the promise of things to come felt decidedly unpromising, and there was a real paucity of genuinely interesting news to whet my appetite. Even the John Simm news leak last week failed to ignite my enthusiasm. And Nardole being upgraded to full-time companion felt like the final kick in the goolies. This is your final season, Steven. Your last chance to go out with a bang. Where are the big names, cool surprises, and the promise of gratuitous ex-companion cameos?

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Sherlock: The Final Problem

Sherlock: 'Five minutes! It took five minutes to do all of this to us.'

If I had to pick one highlight from tonight's episode, it'd either be Moriarty's rock star posturing to Queen's 'I Want to Break Free' or Mrs Hudson vacuuming to Iron Maiden's 'The Number of the Beast'. It's good to know that during this suspense-laden, at times hopelessly improbable finale, they could still offer up some levity. It was sorely needed at times, especially with Eurus being such a rotter.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Sherlock: The Lying Detective

Sherlock: 'Cup of tea!'

Episodes which take place inside a character's mind are usually a pain in the arse to watch, as you never know what's real and what's not. So to have an episode which mostly took place inside the minds of two characters, should have been a complete mindfuck. Let's face it, we barely know what's going on in this show when people aren't off their tits on drugs or hallucinating with grief, so what chance do we stand when such colossal weirdness abounds?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Sherlock: The Six Thatchers

Sherlock: 'Death waits for us all in Samarra, but can Samarra be avoided?'

Well, it appears that Sherlock's suicidal assignment overseas was disappointingly short-lived. One imaginary adventure later and Sherlock's back on British soil, his murderous activities brushed under the carpet, only to be replaced by ginger nuts, a horrific Tory bust, and a baby crapping itself onscreen.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Doctor: 'I've been away for a while, but I'm back.'

After the emotionally replete ‘Last Christmas’ which saw Clara flip the middle finger at her haters and stay on for another year, and ‘The Husbands of River Song’ which brought a satisfying end to a storyline eight years in the making, tonight’s episode was always going to be up against it. How do you inject the same level of pathos into a story with no main returning characters (save the Doctor), minimal follow through narrative, and a premise as worn as Russell T. Davies’ plot devices? Simple, you bring back Nardole. You remember Nardole, the completely unremarkable character from last year’s Christmas special? Yeah, that guy.