Deep Breath

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Before we start this joint-review, we just want to remind everyone that we don’t want to hate Dr Who, and we really don’t enjoy ripping it apart… much. We’re just disappointed by it, because something that was so incredible to begin with has turned into something that could really be a lot better.

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Lewis: When that averagely-animated dinosaur first appeared on the screen I immediately thought ‘Here we go, more of this crap.’, and to be honest, I don’t think I was wrong, at least not for the majority of Saturday night’s episode.

Ben: I think it was hard to judge. My full opinion of series 8 won’t be formed ‘til after a couple of weeks. But these are my initial impressions. Firstly, I want tosay that the first 15-20, for me, were pretty uncomfortable to watch. Starting with the woeful new opening credits (the music made it sound like Christmas and the clock thing was just stupid, what happened to if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The previous opening credits were good) It was like Capaldi was trying to emulate Matt Smith and for me it didn’t work. However, as the episode continued, a doctor developed that I quite liked.

Lewis: I definitely agree with you on the first 15 minutes being a bit painful. To be honest, it just felt like the writing was a bit stodgy. Also, I’m not a massive fan of Steven Moffat’s 19th Century crime fighters; they get on my nerves a fair bit. As for the opening credits, I actually didn’t mind the song; it felt new but also sounded a bit like the older theme songs. The one nit-pick I have is about the graphics for the opening sequence. They were awful. The old one definitely had better CGI, and so why downgrade it to this cartoon-like image?

Ben: The delivery of dialogue was much improved, especially from the Doctor’s end, but I still don’t know what to think about the Clara character. I think now that the endless flirting (which did happen all the time) is over I may grow to like the character.

Lewis: Same here in terms of Clara, she seemed a bit more likeable in this episode (Which I thanked God for). So, for me, the episode had two characters that were far more likeable than they used to be, since while Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor, the character is the same. However, in my opinion, this doesn’t save the episode.

Ben: Yeah, the story was pretty standard for the below par ideas that have seeped into episodes ever since the loss of T. Davies. The script itself was good while the story pretty poor. I think Moffat managed to write a script which was; funny at the right times, showed the audience that this doctor will be darker in character, and also assured us that there will no longer be any of this hugging crap (hallelujah). I also appreciated the mentions of previous Doctors (the long scarf bit amongst others), they were done in a tasteful way that poked fun without humiliating them (thinking back to Skyfall, which failed to do this, and how the older Bond films took a real battering at the hands of the pouty blonde man).

Lewis: I quite like Skyfall… and Daniel Craig…

Ben:  I am not saying I don’t like Skyfall, I am saying that after the first few funny comments, the remarks about previous got pretty vicious. I don’t like Daniel Craig, but I think that could be an argument for another day. The story on the other hand was a rip off of the Madame Du Pompadore episode, which I for one was able to suss out pretty quickly. It again shows the uninspiring and dull stories have to be improved.Also, the series already seems to be developing one of the long-running storylines that Moffat is such a big fan of, an Americanism that I really cannot stand, especially when they are so frequently shit (And this one looks to be one of those crap ones).

Lewis: I for one quite like a long-running story, but only if it pays off at the end. And Moffat just doesn’t seem to be able to give us the pay off that the show deserves. He’s pretty good at writing a one-off script (Blink comes to mind), but as for a season-arcing plot-point, it’s just not worth it.

Ben: I said that about his writing in my earlier Doctor Who piece. Going back to what you said earlier, I really hoped that the lizard and her team would be left behind with Matt Smith, unfortunately not. I can see them coming back at least once a series which is really irritating because none of them are really that likable.

Lewis: I can’t agree with you more there, and Mr Moffat, the next time you want to find an excuse for a cross-species lesbian kiss, either make it a good one or just do it without it.

Ben: I liked Peter Capaldi;but I didn’t really like much else. On the plus side the old non-Teletubbies Daleks are coming back in the next episode, and I think that it is from this point a proper opinion will be formed.

Lewis: Indeed, It wasn’t the worst episode I’ve seen, but it could’ve been a whole lot better. Anyway, thumbs up to Peter Capaldi, and bring on the Daleks.

Thanks for reading! If you want to call us idiots or other more explicit names, please leave a comment.

-Ben and Lewis

University Survival

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Benportrait1Lewis and I are now about to start our third year at uni, and I think it is fair to say when it come to freshers we have been there, done that and in my case got numerous T-Shirts from Jesters (anybody going to either University in Southampton will grow to love ‘The Palace of Dreams’). So I thought I’d take 10 minutes out of my busy schedule to write a few things I have picked up throughout my first year at University.

  1. Learn to cook. Start off by learning to cook something simple like spaghetti Bolognaise. It is really easy to do, and once you know how the technique can easily be transferred to almost anything else.
  2. Buy a door stop. Having an open door makes making friends with the people you’re living with much easier.
  3. Try not to be a recluse. I know the temptation is to work all the time (Pffft, no it’s not- Lewis), but it is first year, so it really doesn’t matter. By the end of the year (at least in my case), you will be cruising despite the pressure of exams.
  4. Find the nearest Aldi/Lidl. They reduced my weekly shop by almost half and, despite what people say, the quality is no different to what you get in Sainsbury’s or Tesco.
  5. As I have said in a previous post, take a box set of DVDs with you for freshers, because the days really are dull.
  6. Push yourself to try new stuff throughout the year, it’ll keep you busy and give you a whole range of new experiences.
  7. More of a long term one, try not to go home for the first few weeks. I wanted to. But didn’t because I felt that if I went home, I wouldn’t come back to uni. I am not trying to scare you, it is just my advice, try and stick it out because it does get easier and better.
  8. Put that down you won’t need it. I was an over packer. And I can guarantee that half the stuff you take with you will not ever get used.
  9. Go out every night of freshers. I didn’t last time and regretted it. I intend to make amends this time around.
  10. Be sensible with money. It isn’t hard to live off savings and your maintenance loan, but you can make your life very difficult. I am not saying that you should become a scrooge and not go out to save money, but I am suggesting that you think twice before going on a spending spree. Unless you are loaded, then do whatever you want.
  11. Familiarise yourself with drinking game rules. You will play them… A lot.
  12. Talk to as many people as you can during the first few weeks. By the end of the first year everyone has formed their friendship groups, and if your friends aren’t around it is a bit late in the day to make new friends.
  13. Finally, take a big arse bottle of vodka with you. As a fresher you are almost expected to drink the stuff like water, but avoid the really cheap vodkas, that stuff is like paint stripper.

So that is a few things I have picked up for you to consider. Enjoy yourselves you crazy kids.

-Ben

(Special mention to Will)

The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think. Oh by the way, which one’s ‘Pink’?

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self portraitRight, here we go, my no.1 album of all time, and the final game of Guess the Band.

The title itself is a pretty good clue. What band has an association with ‘Pink’?

And I can tell you that they’re one of the most respected rock bands of all time.

Come on guys, I’m talking about one of the best bands to ever play on this Earth, and they also created the second best-selling album of all time.

Fine, I’ll tell you now.

The lyrics are from the song ‘Have a Cigar’, from the album ‘Wish You Were Here’, by the band Pink Floyd. My favourite band, my favourite album, and while ‘Have a Cigar’ isn’t my favourite song, my favourite song is indeed on this album. In this series of favourite albums, I tried to create some variety by making sure the albums were from a different artist each time. If I hadn’t, then I think about three of them would be by Pink Floyd. However, I had to choose one, and so I chose the one that I enjoy listening to the most these days. If I’d made this list a year or two ago, I probably would’ve chosen ‘The Wall’, and before that, probably ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. But nowadays, I definitely prefer ‘Wish You Were Here’.

I first discovered Pink Floyd when I was 16, and while I might’ve wished that I’d found them earlier, I don’t think I would love them as much as I do today if I had. Now, I’m gonna sound like a douchebag again, but I think I found them at the perfect age, because at that point I was mature enough to understand what they were talking about. A lot of the issues and opinions they brought up in their music majorly influenced my outlook on life (For the better), and they are some of the best lyricists and musicians I’ve ever heard. Their philosophies and opinions have helped me immensely through some tough periods in my life, and almost all their songs cause you to think about one issue or another, whether it be mental illness, death, loss, relationships, the music industry, war, beauty, or even a dog called Seamus.

This album is known as one of the big three Pink Floyd albums, along with ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘The Wall’, and it was released between the two in 1975. The main theme of this album is loss (Hence the title), however two of the songs deal with the pressures and corruption of the music industry. I personally think that this is Pink Floyd’s most introspective album, as it deals with the loss of their former band member, Syd Barrett, who suffered from severe mental illness and fell into a just as severe drug addiction. In fact, while they were recording this album, he visited their studio. They had no idea who this man was for a moment, he’d put on a lot of weight and had shaved his head. However, eventually they realised that it was Barrett, and in interviews they claim that this event affected them all deeply.

There’s a general consensus that the two pieces of a song, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)‘, are a tribute to Syd Barrett, and the two parts sandwich the other three songs on the album, acting as an intro and an outro. Put together, this song is 25 minutes long, and it’s an epic, atmospheric ride along David Gilmour’s out-of-this-world guitar pieces and Richard Wright’s peaceful, yet powerful, piano and synthesisers. Roger Waters doesn’t let up on the great bass lines either for ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)’. These lyrics are the best example for how the band members felt about Barrett’s state of mind.

“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond”

Sandwiched between the two parts of that epic song are another three. ‘Welcome to the Machine’ (Just to warn you, the music video is both amazing and disturbing) is an angry, despairing piece about the music industry and being taken advantage by your employers in general. Waters compares the industry to a machine, with no humanity and no compassion. It’s a song we can all relate to, even if we haven’t worked in the music industry, because everyone’s been taken advantage of before. It’s also one of the strangest, brutal and most interesting (musically) songs I’ve ever heard, which is definitely achieved by the constantly pounding, machine-like, synthesisers in the background.

“Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream? It’s alright, we told you what to dream”

Next we come to another song about the corporate, inhuman nature of some characters in the music business, ‘Have a Cigar’. While it’s similar in premise to ‘Welcome to the Machine’, this song is written in a much more tongue-in-cheek style, and from the point of view of a band who’ve just sat down in a record label’s head office. This one is definitely driven by David Gilmour’s funk-rock guitar style, and punctuated by Richard Wright’s synthesisers that link to the previous track. A little trivia for you, this song doesn’t actually have vocals from the band in it. Neither David Gilmour nor Roger Waters could reach the notes required, and they didn’t want to try and end up damaging their voices. So they recruited the folk singer Roy Harper to perform on the album. The highlights of the song for me would be Gilmour’s guitar solo at the end, and the witty, biting lyrics of Roger Waters. Also, the lyric “Which one’s ‘Pink’?” is something a record label actually asked them.

“Well, I’ve always had a deep respect, and I mean that most sincerely.
The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think.
Oh by the way, which one’s ‘Pink’?”

And now we come to my favourite, which I may or may not have left ‘til last on purpose. ‘Wish You Were Here’ is one of the most beautiful, sorrowful songs I’ve ever heard. After the epic, sweeping ‘Shine on…’, the bitter, angry ‘Welcome…’ and the electric, sarcastic ‘Have a Cigar’, this simple, acoustic tribute is a perfect fit. Like ‘Shine on…’, it’s a tribute to their fallen band member, however it’s written in a style that’s more universal and general. This means that anyone will be able to relate to it, whether they’re grieving for someone, fallen out of touch with a friend, or far away from the one’s they love. With just three verses and no chorus it sometimes feels like it’s not long enough, but you begin to realise that it’s the perfect length for a song like that. It’s short and it’s sweet. For me, it’s perfect in every way, from the unconventional intro that simulates someone listening to a radio and playing along, to the whistling wind in the outro.

“How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here”

There you go, the last album in my series. I know I’ve given you the usual links to the songs on YouTube, but I I advise you to listen to the whole album at once, it’s whole different experience. I’m sorry there were a couple of delays in the uploads (including this one), but there were many factors causing this (my procrastination being the prime suspect). And I’m also sorry that this piece was a fair bit longer than the others, but it’s my favourite album, so I couldn’t help but waffle on about it. Expect some more content this week, and please comment if you have something to say.

Thanks for reading!

-Lewis

The Clash vs The Mescaleros

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Benportrait1Before I start, I want to make a quick comment about Lewis’ piece about The Fratellis. I like Brit pop; I think each band does have a different style within the genre. It might just be because I am a fan, but when I listen to Blur, Oasis etc. I can tell which band is which. I suppose yeah they are similar but then they are all the result of the same music movement so you would expect that. Much in the same way that modern pop bands are very much the same.

Anyway to what this is about. While walking up into town to get my hair cut today, (which, incidentally, I failed to do because the queue was too long), I was listening to my music, as you do. While on shuffle, by sheer coincidence a series of songs by The Clash and The Mescaleros were played one after another. If anybody is wondering how these two bands, separated by 23 years, are linked, it is because they share the same front man, Joe Strummer. And that is really the basis for this piece; it is a comparison between the two bands. This is all my opinion.

The Clash was very much a band of the 70’s, providing the decade with one of its many anarchic anthems, London Calling, (if you haven’t heard this song you may as well stop reading now). Their Punk roots resulted in many politically based songs which you really do have to be in the mood to listen to. I am not saying that The Clash aren’t brilliant, they are, but my point is that really I have to be in the mood to listen to them.

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros on the other hand formed in 1999. During the gap between the break-up of the clash and the formation of The Mescaleros, Strummer appeared to mellow which can been seen in ‘Streetcore’ the final album released by the band in 2003 (following the death of Strummer in 2002).  Streetcore is one of my favourite albums ever and I honestly mean it. It is one of those albums that I can listen to all day. It is an alternative rock album, which means there is more singing/talking to a tune, rather than some shouting with a few instruments playing in the background (Which is the epitome of punk). Again, that isn’t a bad thing; I just have to be in the mood to listen to it. ‘Streetcore’ takes no effort to listen to at all. The album contains some absolute belters including ‘Coma Girl’ and a brilliant cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’, which I think is better than the original reggae version. However controversial that may seem, I really do think that it’s better.

One of the ways I can describe the transformation in Strummer’s style from the Punk Rock ‘London Calling’ to ‘Streetcore’ and ‘Global A Go-Go’, which are for me easy listening albums, is that Strummer had made his point with The Clash, and with The Mescaleros he was just kicking back and enjoying himself while producing some really enjoyable music. I am not saying that The Mescaleros are better than The Clash. They were both very much of their time and brilliant in their own ways.

So I suppose the conclusion I am drawing from this is essentially to tell you to go and listen to one of my favourite albums. And if you don’t want to listen to the album, at least go and find the ‘Redemption Song’ cover. 

-Ben

It’s four in the morning and I’m walking along, beside the ghost of every drinker here who’s ever done wrong

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self portraitIt’s not quite four in the morning as I’m writing this, and I haven’t seen any ghosts as of yet, but I still love both the lyrics and the album.

Can you guess where they’re from?

I’m hoping you can, but just in case, I’ll tell you.

This set of lyrics is from ‘Whistle for the Choir’ by the Fratellis, and that particular song is from their debut album ‘Costello Music’. This is one of the more modern albums that I have in my list of favourites, and it’s one of the best debut albums I’ve ever heard. In fact, the band won a BRIT award for “Best British Breakthrough Act” in 2007. Even I acknowledge that it’s an odd one for me to have on my list, considering all the classic rock I’ve been talking about. But there’s just this relentless energy to it, and every song is as catchy as they can be. It’s a really fun album to listen to. Saying this, the album has its sweet spots; it’s not all super-charged Brit-rock. ’Whistle for the Choir’ is one of thse sweet spots, and its one of the best written songs I’ve heard in the past decade. Also, they’re the only band I can think of that are more than willing to use the word c*nt in both their lyrics and their song titles. Which is impressive to me for some reason.

The Fratellis are a Scottish band, and critics have claimed that their influences include the Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines and pretty much every other Brit-Rock band to ever exist. And I can see that. However, most Brit-Rock sounds an awful lot like another when I listen to it, which isn’t the case for The Fratellis. When I listen to The Fratellis I can tell that it’s them. They have an amazingly distinct sound, despite the fact that most of their fellow Brit-Rock bands could write each other’s songs and you wouldn’t notice a difference. It does help that I love Blues rock, and that they have a very bluesy sound.

I said that they sounded unique amongst other bands, but what really amazes me is that they still manage to produce crowd-pleasing anthems that everyone can get on board with, without losing any of their originality. The song that comes to mind is ‘Chelsea Dagger’, a tune that is constantly played in clubs, pubs, karaoke nights and even school proms. It’s simply one of the best songs to get everyone riled up and energised. Everyone knows the words, everyone loves the tune, it’s a perfect song.

With the exception of a couple of slower, more reflective songs, the rest of the album is fully charged. The meaty, unique sound of Jon Fratelli’s lead guitar really does lead the songs, and provides the album with the musical substance needed to stand out, ‘Flathead’ is a perfect example of this. The drums of Mince Fratelli are also a highlight of a great album, they’re not overpowering but they maintain a constant presence. Some of the fills are superb (See ‘Cuntry Boys and City Girls’, and yes that is how they spell it).

However, despite all the furious guitar and carefree howls, my favourite song from the album is the last listed. ‘Ole Black ‘n’ Blue Eyes’ is folksy, blues rock song, at a slower pace than the others and written in a slightly more serious tone, while still retaining the Fratelli sound. It’s a bittersweet song about an unwanted romance, although the guy is taking pity on her “ole black ‘n’ blue eyes”. Even though it’s not the happiest song in the world, it’s got a sweet quality to it… Maybe it’s the style of the music.

Anyway, you’ve probably heard the singles, now hear the album! As I’ve said before, you won’t be disappointed. Because while The Fratellis probably aren’t going to be listened to for generations and generations to come, and while they might not be among the most respected rock ‘n’ roll artists around, they’re definitely one of the most stand out Brit-Rock artists of the past decade.

I think I’ll end it here guys. That was my second-to-last album, and tomorrow I’m gonna be writing about my all-time favourite! I know I said that this wasn’t in any particular order, but I had to leave my favourite ‘til last, didn’t I?

I’ll see you next time…

-Lewis

 

 

 

And You Go Dancing Through Doorways, Just to See What You Will Find…

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self portraitThis is my second favourite album ever. Of all time.

But before I delve into it, I just want to apologise for this late upload. My Wi-Fi was refusing to load the site last night and today, so I couldn’t post anything until now. However, after a few goes at the old IT Crowd catchphrase it magically started working again… I really don’t know how the internet works…

Anyway, the album today is ‘Love Over Gold’, by the British rock band Dire Straits, and the lyrics above are from the title track; one of the most beautifully written songs I’ve ever heard. I don’t think words can really describe how much I love this impeccable album, but I’ll do my best for you guys, because you five readers mean so much to me.

Mark Knopfler, the band’s lead guitarist, singer and quite possibly my favourite musician, is both a musical and lyrical genius. He can write songs that are both poetic, witty, political, romantic, and they can be about almost any subject you can think of. One of the best experiences of my life (so far) was going to see him at the Royal Albert Hall last year, and despite being over 60 years old, he’s still got the instantly recognisable finger-picking guitar style he’s always been known for.

This album is probably the most obscure of Dire Straits’ big hit albums, and is often forgotten by causal fans, despite reaching no.1 in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries; it’s also been certified double-platinum in the UK and Canada. I think the reason why it’s often forgotten is that it wasn’t a very commercial album (God I sound like such a hipster in these pieces). It has a grand total of five songs, but still manages to reach a 40 minute run time (Mostly thanks to its epic, 15 minute opening song). There’s absolutely no filler on this album, every song is an individual with its own musical style and voice, and the subjects this album deals with range from the worn-down life of an alcoholic Private Investigator, to the harsh, impersonal nature of industrial life in the 1980s.

The previously mentioned 15 minute opening song is, in my humble opinion, the best song Dire Straits ever recorded. It’s called ‘Telegraph Road’, and, according to Mark Knopfler, it’s about the growth and development of the real Telegraph Road in Detroit. It tells the story of a working man’s struggle to live on the road that, through a recession, becomes just as barren and empty as it was when it was first founded. It really is an atmospheric epic, clocking in at just under 15 minutes, roughly five of which are dedicated to a fast paced, bluesy, ending instrumental. From the gentle acoustic guitar and piano opening to the despairing and angry electric guitar solo at the end, it really does have some incredible musical pieces in it.

Private Investigations’, the second song on the album, was released as a single and reached no.2 in the UK, making it one of their most successful songs despite its length and minimalist style. It’s a haunting track, with a finger-picked acoustic guitar featuring as the main instrument, and a lyrical style similar to a Shakespearean soliloquy. It’s a combination of a calm but brooding mood, interrupted by bursts of electric guitar, sounding like gunfire in the night.

The other single from this album was ‘Industrial Disease’, a song about a metaphorical epidemic breaking out in factories across Britain, representing the stress and depression caused by the dysfunctional life factory workers were living. This is definitely one of the most political songs featured on a Dire Straits album, but this was a  period of strikes and factory closures in ’80s Britain, and so the song doesn’t feel out of place at all.  Sitting within these serious, fairly heavy songs, the title track, ‘Love Over Gold’, is a beautiful, heartfelt song about how you should take a leap every now and then, even if it doesn’t always pay off.

One thing I want to mention briefly is the artwork. It’s a fantastic, striking image, and it really connects to the underlying feelings of frustration and anger piercing the often serene music of the album.

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So that’s it, my third-to-last album in this series, and my second favourite album of all time, ‘Love Over Gold’ by Dire Straits. It’s a classic rock album, with influences from the blues, progressive rock, root rock and many, many more. Get it, and I promise you that from the eerie entrance of ‘Telegraph Road’ to the folksy outro of ‘It Never Rains‘, you won’t be disappointed.

-Lewis

Doctor, Doctor, give me the news

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Benportrait1I am sorry for my lack of writing, but I have a job now. Yes my friends I have a job, I get paid for it and everything. Granted I am sticking labels on boxes, which isn’t the most arduous task in the world, but at least I am earning money.  In case you were wondering about the title of this piece, isn’t about Robert Palmer’s 1979 hit ‘Bad Case of Loving You’ (this gives you an insight into my musical taste), rather, it’s about Doctor Who.

I don’t think there is any doubt in my mind, or in fact in the mind of anybody who knows me, that I am a Doctor Who fan, I do have DVDs. I am an unashamed fan of Doctor Who and always have been. In fact there have been entire days at University dedicated to watching the Sci-Fi hit. As a result I think I have earned the right to comment on the show. And as we build up to the new series I can’t think of a better time to get things off my chest.  Are you ready? Are you sure? Here we go.

First things first, I want to start with the previous 3 seasons which saw Matt Smith taking the lead role as the Time Lord from Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. The team behind the 11thincarnation of the Time Lord had an almost impossible task following the departure of many people’s favourite Doctor (I want to add here that he isn’t my favourite) David Tennant. And also the loss of Russell T. Davis. The previous head writer and master mind in bringing Doctor Who back to life.

In my opinion, the team behind seasons 5 to 7 of (read in a sarcastic voice, I will be coming back to this) ‘New Who’ almost failed. Starting with the first episode ‘the 11th hour’, which was a nice idea but was, in my opinion, poorly executed, which was an all too common occurrence in seasons 5 and 6. To my shame, I blamed Smith for the poor quality of the new series.

I think this was because Matt Smith played the Doctor in a very similar way to his very popular predecessor, and as a result comparisons were made and Tennant’s doctor was better in every way. Smith accentuated the crazy and eccentric surface layer provided by the 10th Doctor. David Tennant built on his predecessor Christopher Eccleston’s performance by teaming the bitter (the guy just lost his planet, he had every right to be pissed) 9th Doctor with his own eccentricity, providing a very Funny Doctor on the Surface while maintaining deep emotions, providing audiences with a very likeable and relatable character. Smith failed to carry out any real character development. Instead he focused on accentuating the barmy surface. To me the 11th doctor didn’t have any depth of emotion and as a result didn’t become at all likeable until the loss of Amy and Rory. Only at this point did Smith develop his incarnation of the Doctor’s emotions. It was only then did I begin to enjoy watching Doctor Who again. It wasn’t until the end of series 5 that I saw the real issue with the new Doctor’s tenure.

Following the departure of Davis, the quality of the writing seemed to take a real nose dive. The group of writers providing the story lines hadn’t changed much, so who was to blame? Steven Moffat, that’s who. It almost seemed that Moffat was too lazy to properly edit the scripts, allowing dull and stodgy lines to seep into every episode.

In the rare case there was a decent story, my mind immediately jumps to the one with the Daleks in World War II London, it was ruined by some pretty woeful casting epitomised by Karen Gillan. I can’t even say or type her name without scowling. The Scot was dreadful and I really do mean dreadful, failing in almost every case to say a line of dialogue without sounding like she should really be presenting the lottery. In all honesty, the obnoxious Colin Baker (the 6th doctor) and his screaming companion Peri, portrayed by Nicola Bryant, are more likable than Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond.

Moffat had an unhealthy obsession with River Song, a character of his own creation, and I was desperate for him to let her death in the Silent Library stick. However the new head writer decided he would drag the character into every possible story. Giving her a really dreadful link to the companions of the time and her own catch phrase. Kingston’s delivery of dialogue was almost as bad as her on screen mother’s (Gillan again). The character became more of an irritant than anything else. Also, the whole conceived on the TARDIS meaning she gained Time Lord traits is, for want of a better word, absolute Bollocks.

However by the end of Smith’s time as The Doctor, the irritating characters had finally departed, either through death or by the touch of a Weeping Angel. The writing team seemed to have settled into their new roles, producing some good story lines. Which were portrayed well by the competent pairing of Smith and his new on screen assistant, Clara (Jenna Coleman). I do still have one remaining bugbear with the ‘New Who’ (I hope you can still read the sarcasm). It’s that the companions, assistants or whatever you want to call them, are always given a back story that is followed throughout their time on the show. I can list them if you want;

Rose – Bad Wolf

Donna – Doctor Donna

Amy – The Girl Who Waited

Rory – the Last Centurion

River Song – The Doctors Wife/ Killing the Doctor etc.

Clara – That Whole recurring cycle of death thing

When these back stories work, like ‘Bad wolf’ and ‘Doctor Donna’, they are brilliant and worth having in the show to add something extra that links the episodes together. This is also down to the T. Davis factor and his undoubted ability to create a story. However the recurring stories under Moffat have been odd and confusing in most cases. In Rory’s case it seems to be put in just to actually get him involved, as throughout the previous episodes of season 5 he may as well not be there. I think this underlines Moffat’s skills and short comings. He can write a brilliant one off story, ‘Blink’ being a prime example, but as a head writer I don’t think he is up to scratch. The back story isn’t needed to make a good series. Looking back to the original Doctors Whos there is only one recurring story, which is during the 6th Doctors tenure ‘The Trail of a Time Lord’, and the less said about Colin Baker’s irritating incarnation the better.

My Favourite Doctors are Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy. I do like a dark Doctor. One of the reasons I like the original episodes… Wait, before I continue, here is a bit of a tangent rant for you:

Not ‘Classic Who’… This is another thing I really dislike about modern TV. These irritating groups of people who call themselves ‘fan girls/guys’. Get a life you sad people. I am talking about the kind of people who spend hours poring over Tumblr laughing at gif files from Doctor Who episodes and will go out and ‘cosplay’. Why can’t they just watch it because they want to? Why do they have to shout out to the world that they are a fan? These are the people that have coined the terms ‘Classic’ and ‘New Who’, and that is why I dislike them and their ‘Fandom ways’.

Anyway back to the original point. I like the original Doctor Who episodes because the Doctor is a more Distant Darker Character. None of this Kissing malarkey which Paul McGann did in the Doctor Who film. I didn’t think the steampunk Doctor Who effort was half bad. It was a bit stupid, but I would have liked to have seen it continued in a series as was planned. I am very excited about the upcoming series, no matter what you may think. In a recent BBC interview Peter Capaldi described his 12th Doctor as not being ‘User Friendly’. Music to my cynical ears. I hope that Capaldi takes elements of the darker, more distant older Doctors while still making the character his own and up to date to ensure that the program grows in popularity.

-Ben