Time Heist

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After the success of the last review I amalgamated, Lewis asked me to do this one. (It definitely has nothing to do with him succumbing to Fresher’s Flu. I’m not even a bloody fresher for God’s sake!). So here it is, our slightly belated review of last week’s Doctor Who episode. Enjoy.

 Ben: Doctor Who…What did you think??

 Lewis: I thought it was surprisingly pretty good, I enjoyed it a lot to be honest. How about you?

 Ben: Yeah I liked it, but I’m not sure whether it was because I had lower expectations, or because it was, in my opinion, the best episode of the series. I hope it was the latter.

Lewis: I don’t really think there were any real disappointments in it, and the concept was pretty original and cool which helped a lot. Although I did guess that those vial things were transporters rather than suicide shots

Ben: Yeah the transporter thing was pretty obvious, but I agree. I felt the script was strong as was the story and the delivery of the lines. It was a pretty solid episode overall. I think the only thing that sort of ruined it was seeing the brain eaters skip away together in the buff… I just think that seeing alien arse lowers the tone a bit.

Lewis: That brain eater alien was genuinely tension-building, which is rare in Dr Who these days. The script was definitely one of the strongest so far, and there were plenty of dark-humoured jokes in there to keep me satisfied. I kinda agree about the nude alien frolicking, but I don’t think it spoilt it, It wasn’t really a big deal for me. And I suppose seeing them together humanised the previously ruthless alien.

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Ben: Couldn’t agree more with the first part, but I think that the alien was already humanised when he found his alien wife. I wouldn’t say the alien arse ruined it but I just thought it was a bit pointless.

Lewis: Yeah I meant the bit about his wife, not the arse. I should be clearer about that. I also thought the secondary characters were actually pretty good this time, no terrible actors or stupid characters. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the bank lady, but then again, I don’t think we were really meant to like her in the first place.

Ben: Glad we are that the alien arse bit was stupid.  Yeah, it had some solid one off characters which I wouldn’t mind popping up again, not that they should. I didn’t mind her, and I liked that clone thing, it was pretty clever.

Lewis: If they did decide to bring them back for a cameo I wouldn’t mind. And that clone thing was indeed quite clever, and not too ridiculous for the plot which was a relief. What’s the next one about? I’ve forgotten already.

Ben: Glad we agree. The next one looks like a rip off of the back to school one that aired a few years ago, only this time The Doctor in a caretaker not a teacher

Lewis: Oh yeah, I remember now. It could be interesting I guess.

Ben: Well my expectations have risen again, so the episode will probably be a massive flop.

Lewis: Probably… but there’s still hope yet. How many are left in this season though?

Ben: 12 or 13, it won’t be anywhere near as long as an American series.

Lewis: That’s a good number though. Not too long, not too short.

Ben: At this mid-ish-point in the series I am pretty happy. There have been some ups and downs, but that usually comes standard with most new doctors. On the whole it isn’t as bad as Matt Smiths first series.

Lewis: Definitely, Peter Capaldi hasn’t let us down. In fact I think the only thing that’s been a disappointment in this season is the writing at points. But honestly, it’s been almost consistently good.

Ben: Yeah, some of the writing has pretty dreadful *cough* Robot of Sherwood*cough*. But hopefully Saturday’s episode was a turning point.

Lewis: Well we have differing opinions on that one, but let’s agree to disagree.

See you all next week!

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F. A. B.

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self portraitAbout a week ago I decided to clear out my room and organise my books and other belongings. Now, since you probably haven’t seen my room (and if you have, what exactly were you doing there?), I’ll just tell you this, it was not an easy task. But that’s not what I’m writing about today, what I’m writing about is that while I was doing this I came across a shoebox, and inside that shoebox were pieces of my childhood. I found a lot in there; Dr Who toys, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, a couple of random action figures, Captain Scarlet figures and vehicles and even some toys from the less popular Stingray. But the things I found that meant the most to me, and made my head spin with nostalgia, were the 1992 Matchbox diecast models of Thunderbirds 1, 2, 3 and 4.

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These fairly heavy, beautifully designed lumps of metal and plastic were my absolute favourite toys, and many a time have I heard the story of my parents’ epic struggle through shopping centres to find them when the Thunderbirds re-run hype was at its peak in the nineties. I’m forever grateful to them for that, because with these toys and my over active imagination I created entire episodes of Thunderbirds in my head. Admittedly, most of them were to do with the multi-storey car park playset I had collapsing in one way or another, but despite the constant re-runs of this disaster (you would think that they would close that car park down or something), it was the most fun thing to do in the entire world.

I’m realising that I’m gushing a bit here, and some of you (hopefully none of you) might be asking yourselves and me, ‘What the hell is Thunderbirds?’

I sincerely hope you’re not, because Thunderbirds was my favourite TV show, it took everything a kid, or even an adult, wants to see and put it on-screen in the form of hour-long episodes. There was action, drama, aircraft that defied the laws of physics, tons of cool sci-fi ideas and the most important one of all, everything explodes. Even a truck filled with water.

I know what you’re thinking, it all sounds a bit silly, right? Wrong. It’s brilliant!

The story focused on the adventures of the wealthy and respected Tracy family, the creators and operators of International Rescue. The father, Jeff, a respected astronaut and creator of the organisation, runs it and monitors all the missions. Meanwhile, his sons; Scott, Virgil, Gordon, Alan and John all pilot the various Thunderbird Machines. This was one of the first shows that brought in the idea of having more than one main hero.  Although Scott and Virgil were definitely the more popular characters, as they were the pilots of Thunderbirds 1 and 2 respectively, and they were the two most used machines on the rescues.

The rescues themselves were absolutely genius ideas. They were science fiction but never strayed into the realms of the unbelievable or surreal. And a lot of them still have relevance today, in fact the first episode is about a bomb being planted in the undercarriage of a new supersonic aircraft, ‘Fireflash’.

The show was made using realistic models, pyrotechnics and sets, with puppets portraying the main and background characters. It was as if your toys were coming to life on the screen, and that was probably why it was so easy and enjoyable to pretend those little metal toys were the real machines of ‘International Rescue’.

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ITV announced last year that they will be bringing out a new revamped series of Thunderbirds next year, mixing live action sets with CGI characters. I for one am pretty excited about this. I’m not really sure how it’ll turn out, as the live action 2004 version was pretty fucking terrible, but I’m really hopeful for this new attempt. It could renew the show’s popularity for the new generation, like the re-runs did for mine. And to be honest, Thunderbirds definitely deserves a decent revamp. So yeah, I’m not really sure what my point in this article was, it was mainly a way to vent the excitement of rediscovering those old toys and the show. But to make it so that this wasn’t a complete waste of your time, I’m going to recommend that you watch episode 1 of Thunderbirds, ‘Trapped in the Sky’, because it’s still one of the best debut episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. Just don’t take it too seriously, enjoy it for its humour, great dialogue and majestic models and sets.

-Lewis

Listen

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Lewis: Well that was easily one of the best episode of Doctor Who in years. Right up until the point where the Doctor was knocked out. It started strong and creepy, but the ending just didn’t do it for me

Ben: My thoughts exactly, when I saw Moffat was writing it and how cool the advert looked I was expecting it to be a return to the glory days of the first weeping angels and the Vasta Narada (the one with the carnivorous shadows), but the ending didn’t live up to my expectations

Lewis: The first half of it was extremely creepy, and I was really excited about the fact that we finally got another scary episode, but the ‘none of it was real’ thing really pissed me off. I would’ve much preferred there to be creatures like the Doctor explained, but I also didn’t want to see them, that’s what made them so creepy. And even if you can’t remember a dream where something grasped your ankle, everyone has nightmares from time to time, and I couldn’t help but connect with the creepiness of this episode and the sheer terror the characters felt.

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Ben: I think the idea behind it was to leave the viewer wondering and having to make their own mind up about the creatures, as it is never really explained. You see something but at the same time you see nothing, meaning the viewer has to imagine what could be under the bed. I think leaving a sort of cliff hanger ending as to whether something could be there would have been a suitable ending to the brilliant start.

Lewis: Yeah I got that, and I’m all about a bit of ambiguity, but the ending kinda spoiled the mystery and creepiness that was built up, which is a shame because it had so much potential. It was still a good episode though!

Ben: I completely agree, but I wouldn’t call it a good episode with an ending like that. I feel that the writers are trying to over humanise The Doctor and in doing so we end up with the endings we get which look like they have come from one of Aesop’s fables.

Lewis: Alright then, I’ll compromise, it was a good episode until the Doctor got knocked out

Ben: Yeah, can’t say I disagree with you there. And as you said it is a shame because the first 35 minutes took me back to the Moffat stories of old. One other thing, I’m not a big fan of Doctor Who romance, they aren’t written cleverly and they just tend to get shoved in my face. The budding relationship between Clara and Danny is unfortunately following that same trend.

Lewis: It was indeed a shame that it had to end that way. As for the romance, it’s definitely being dealt with a lot better than previous attempts, and to be honest I really like the character of Danny, so it doesn’t bother me as much as the previous ones. I can definitely understand your prejudice against them though. On the subject of next week’s episode, it doesn’t look that promising to be honest…

Ben: We had high expectations for this week. Maybe if we set the bar a little lower we will be pleasantly surprised.

Robot of Sherwood

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This is the first episode that we have really disagreed about. This is also the first time that I (Ben) have amalgamated our conversation into a readable post. So I wish you luck.

Ben: Someone needs to take all of Mark Gatiss’ pens away and

burn all the paper in his house. The dire attempts at constant comedy became so incredibly irritating the episode became almost unwatchable. The endless one up man ship between the Doctor and Robin, although refreshing at the start became irksome.

Lewis: You know, despite some extreme cheesiness at points and that ridiculous golden-arrow-engine thing, I actually quite liked that episode. I’m not even going to dignify that Golden Arrow ending thing with any further comment… Which I guess is a comment in itself.The pacing was definitely better than other episodes, although it did drag on a little at times. And while the constant banter between Robin and The Doctor did wear thin at points, most of the time it was genuinely funny. The way Robin Hood is written in this episode is reminiscent of the Robin Hood in Mel Brook’s 1993 comedy, ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’, and maybe that’s why I found him so entertaining?

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Ben: I really wasn’t a big fan of the cheese. Fair enough I will follow your lead and gloss over the golden arrow as well.  I disagree with you about the pacing. I thought the episode dragged all the way through until the last 5 or 10 minutes, when there was an explosion of crazy all over my T.V. screen.  But not thinking of the golden arrow there were still loads of holes in the story.  I am going to list them now and everything. Firstly the Robot knights. I thought they were pretty solid bad guys but they were given the worst death ever. They had vaporising laser beam things which the doctor and his merry band of peasants bounced back at the robots with…. Gold plates…. Firstly the gold plates would have been put in the furnace to make the rocket fly, secondly the laser beams disintegrated people, and surely the laser would have destroyed the plates….. No? Also how did the doctor and robin get their leg chains off to enable them to walk to the black smith??????

Lewis: The plot was full of holes, and to be honest if they had concentrated a bit more on these issues the episode would’ve been a lot better than it was. Also, Ben Miller was decent but not great as the villain of the show, he had some fairly funny lines but he just wasn’t really suited to the role.

Ben: I agree with you there about Ben Miller. He put in a solid performance but yeah, I don’t think he made the best bad guy. I also think that the story may have been better if the sheriff and Robin were the creations of the robot people. I think had Gatiss used his Dalek in World War II story here I would have felt more attached to the characters. For anyone thinking I would have ripped Gatiss apart for not being original are wrong, I wouldn’t have done it because the delivery of the story would have been a million times better than Karen Gillan’s attempts.

Lewis: Jenna Coleman had some good moments in this episode, and to be honest her character is grating on my nerves less and less, which I definitely think has something to do with the change from Smith to Capaldi.Speaking of Matt Smith, it just dawned on me that this episode was obviously an attempt at a break from the darker personality of Capaldi, probably to appease the fans of the lighter character that Smith portrayed. Which now makes me question why I liked it so much? … I feel dirty saying that.

Ben: I agree with you about Jenna Coleman. I am now beginning to like the character as Clara develops. I think you could be onto something there about the break from the Dark Doctor, but I still don’t like it.

Lewis: I’m gonna try and save myself some embarrassment and say that the reason why I didn’t mind it was probably due to the fact that it was a one off cheesy episode, rather than a cheesy episode within a long-string of cheesy episodes, creating a cheese-fest that I just can’t handle.

Ben: After last week’s improvement upon episode 1 this week was most definitely a 4 steps backwards. I think with my changes this story could have easily been stretched into a solid two part-er which would enable proper character development and a decent ending. I hope that next week’s episode brings back the darker Doctor that made ‘Into the Dalek’ so enjoyable and judging by the trailer it could be very good.

Thanks for making it to the end, if you agree or disagree feel free to comment below and we will reply to you.

‘The Neighbours Screaming When the Noise Annoys’

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Benportrait1For those of you that don’t know (and to be honest I don’t really expect you to), the title of this piece are lyrics from the Queen song ‘Coming Soon’ from the album ‘The Game’. The lyrics sum up my current feelings towards the British band. Don’t get me wrong, if you look at my iPod 35% of the music on it will be from Queen’s many albums (Lewis and looked it up and the band has 15 studio albums and at least 20 compilation and live albums). I have always loved the band; one of my earliest memories is of sitting in my dad’s car rocking out to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. However over the last few years I am the screaming neighbour and the noise is most defiantly annoying.

If I was to ask you to name some Queen songs I can almost guarantee that you are thinking of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ (A song I have never liked and never will like it), ‘We Are The Champions’ and ‘We Will Rock You’. But there is so much more to the band than these songs. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ are two of the most over played songs in the world. And that is why I really dislike them. It gives you this false idea of the band by only playing the most commercially successful songs. By falling into this radio induced trap you are missing out on some of the best songs the band ever wrote. One of my favourite songs is ’39’ from the album ‘A Night At The Opera’, the same album as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, and people who only have a basic knowledge of the band will know the album only for that song.

 As for ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ my dislike for this song steamed from that ruddy McFly cover, the Busted rip off band commercialised it even more, resulting in … Even more radio plays.

 With the back catalogue Queen has, I am utterly bemused as to why every radio disc jockey limits themselves to three or four songs which are so over played I am regularly tempted to switch to radio 1 for the duration of the song to listen to some mind numbing pop, just to avoid the 5th time ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ is being played today.

So essentially, the point of this is that I am asking you to do two things; firstly, don’t listen to the popular ones. Start off with ‘The Greatest Hits II’, which has some absolute belters, ‘Hammer To Fall’ and ‘Headlong’ are two of my favourite songs, so go listen to that album. If you like that one, start listening to full albums, you won’t regret it. Listen to ‘A Night at the Opera’ and appreciate the other fantastic songs on there. The second thing I want you to do, is if you do ever feel like requesting a Queen song to be played on the radio, don’t ask for the four I have mentioned above. Branch out and pick something new.

 If you have reached the end of this rant I commend you on your remarkably high tolerance levels. Thanks for reading and if you want to add anything whether you agree or not post a comment below.

-Ben

Into the Dalek

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Ben:  If doctor who is shit tonight, (I hope it isn’t but if it is) we should post something along the lines of “Urgh… See ‘Deep Breath'”.

Lewis: Haha, good idea. I really hope it’s better.

Later that evening…

Lewis: I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ll be watching it later. What was it like?

Ben: Fair enough, it wasn’t brilliant but I thought it was pretty good. Kind of original, but I won’t say too much.

Lewis: Sounds good, I’m looking forward to it.

The next day…

Lewis: Last night was a definite improvement on the Dr Who front. Not a very original idea though, a lot of things have used it before.

Ben: Yeah I didn’t mind it. The Dalek morality thing harks back to the first appearance of the new Daleks with Christopher Eccleston. Also, the shrinking down of the people was fairly original, and I quite liked how he let that guy die really early on.

Lewis: That “top layer” joke was the first piece of good comedy that’s been in Dr Who for a long time. As for the shrinking down thing, it was the plot for a big 80s movie called Inner Space, where a doctor had to go into a human and remove a blood clot. They did acknowledge that it wasn’t original though, “that’d make a good movie”.

Ben: Fair enough, I haven’t seen that film. On the whole I thought it was a big improvement on last week’s episode.

Lewis: I’m really glad that Vod from Fresh Meat didn’t join them; I’ve never really been a fan of her. I really like Pink though. Some of the writing with him was a bit heavy handed but he’s a good character and Samuel Anderson’s acting is one of the better examples in the show.

Ben: I think that he will be a second recurring story line, and he will doubtless be the soldier that changes the Doctor’s perception.

Lewis: Yeah, for sure. That episode has left my hopes up for this season; I think it’ll be a big improvement on their past efforts. And I really like the Take-no-shit-Doctor that Peter Capaldi is becoming.

Ben: I concur.

Lewis: Indeed *pulls out pipe*.

Ben: Quite *nod of the head and opens a broad sheet newpaper*.

Lewis: *pauses while filling pipe, frowns, ponders, nods head and continues with pipe*.

Ben: *peers over glasses which are placed on the end of the nose, sees the return nod pauses briefly to acknowledge before returning to today’s news*.

Lewis: I think I’ll end it there, haha.

Ben: Fair enough. I couldn’t think of anything else anyway.

 

Sorry this one was a little late and a little short, there were a lot of reasons why it wasn’t finished ’til today, and procrastination wasn’t actually one of them! Let us know what you think of this new format, and what you thought of our comments.