REVIEW: Dr Who 8×01 “Deep Breath”

doctor_who_deep_breath

In the first of an ongoing series Mark Berryman will be bringing his thoughts on the newest series of Dr Who and more importantly on the new Doctor himself.


Despite losing my favourite Doctor on Christmas day, I’ve been very excited for the start of series 8 of Doctor Who.

Having got used to the thought of Peter Capaldi in the role, I’ve been wondering exactly what he would bring to it. It’s no secret that he’s a huge fan, so I had the feeling he would be bringing his “A” game. That it turns out, is exactly what he did.

“Deep Breath” hits the ground running, starting shortly after “The Time of the Doctor“. The early addition of the Paternoster Gang, to help unsure fans ease into the episode, I think was an inspired choice for the episode. Helping to give people something familiar as we try to get used to this very unfamiliar face.

The Doctor finds much of the episode, as with any first new episode for a Doctor, finding out who he is. Capaldi (except for the tree moment, which was one of the bits I didn’t like) has done away with the more slapstick elements we’ve had over recent years. There is still a long way to go before he defines who his Doctor is but he showed us glimpses of what is in store; a darker side to the Doctor, much darker than we’ve seen since the show started again in 2005. Did he push the villain at the end or did he jump? My money is definitely on push! Capaldi for me has shown an instant chemistry with Jenna Coleman. This was one of the things I wondered about. Smith and Coleman were fantastic on screen together, it seems these two will be as well.

I’ve read a lot of posts complaining about how Clara handled the regeneration. I don’t think that it was that she didn’t understand what had happened, I think there was a lot of grief there for her. She’d just lost her best friend and was finding it hard to come to terms with this new face. I thought Coleman’s acting was fantastic, especially in the scene with Madame Vastra who purposefully pushed her to the snapping point to get her point across. The addition of Matt Smith at the end, I felt was a nice touch, although I thought it was for the fans more than Clara, the ones like me, who at one point had found it hard to come to terms with anyone new taking over. He’s still the Doctor, he’s still OUR Doctor, no matter what he looks like now. I doubt this is the last we’ll see of Matt Smith, he has already said he’s not finished with the role. I look forward to seeing the Raggedy Man again. But for now I’m excited to see what is to come from Peter Capaldi.

Asking more questions, as it should, “Deep Breath” was a fantastic opening episode. I hope the rest of the series can continue in this way.

One question, who was the woman at the end? My thoughts are that it is Rani and the “heaven” we saw was her TARDIS. Thoughts?

One final thing, the new opening credits? What were they thinking??!! hahaha

Advertisements

Alfred Bester – Psi-Cop, freedom fighter, hero & villain

tumblr_ma5qkkGn3c1rwzrbco1_1280

I mean, being a freedom fighter, a – a force for good, it’s – it’s a wonderful thing. You get to make your own hours, looks good on a resume, but the pay – sucks.

– Alfred Bester (Walter Koenig)
Babylon 5
4×04 Moments in Transition

 

Alfred Bester was brilliantly portrayed by Walter Koenig in Babylon 5. He was the recurring guest character you always hoped would be in the next episode because you knew it would be a good one. He was fascinating in his mystery, entertaining in his comedy and downright frightening in his fascist-style sense of supremacy. I have chosen this quote because while it was said in relation to something else it actually had a lot of relevance to Bester himself. 

Despite the fact that the Psi-Corp, the blanket organization for the telepaths, is entirely self sufficient and is an entity within the Earth Alliance already, Bester wants to have more power. It’s difficult to pinpoint just what Bester’s motivation is for wanting to have an Earth Alliance controlled by telepaths. The most obvious answer is that Bester is a supremacist in his views as he sees himself and his telepaths as the future of humanity and therefore have a right to lead humanity with mundanes (non-telepaths) as second class citizens. In many ways this view he has of humanity’s future resembles apartheid in South Africa between the whites and blacks. 

Taking this further however it can be argued that Bester is in fact a freedom fighter because of his ambition hence my selection of the quote. The truth is despite the power of the Psi-Corps it is still an organization to control telepaths including Bester. The Psi-Corps still has to answer to the President’s office as is seen several times throughout the series and it is hinted that this is a source of frustration to them. The very existence of the Psi-Corps serves to segregate mundanes from ‘teeps’ and therefore probably fostered Bester’s superiority complex. It is really a case of chicken and the egg. Either way it is an interesting view on civil rights and agencies/charities that support one group which while may begin with a positive goal still serves to breed segregation. 

Whatever it was intended to be, Bester was a thrilling character to see on screen and was wonderfully portrayed by Walter Koenig. Despite his Star Trek background Koenig’s performance ensured that people were not seeing Chekov on screen but a new character altogether. This was a real testament to his acting.

Thanks for reading…  

 

Gizmo’s Ice Bucket Challenge

10616573_10154436404580214_3234632118021531696_n

NO GIZMO!!! DON’T DO IT!!!

There are some people who should never do these challenges and I am not talking about little metamorphic creatures who reproduce through water and make terrible midnight eaters. These nominate things are both fun and for a good cause but please be careful who you nominate. Remember not everybody is the same and pouring freezing cold water over them can be harmful. It’s not really a good idea to nominate your 99 year old gran even if she has told you she has left a generous amount in her will. 

REVIEW: Garfield – “Lab Animal”

GARF3

Every so often an established TV show will have an episode or story that goes right off the rails of what we would expect. The most common case is when an otherwise serious format goes downright silly for one episode. The X-Files for example was well known for it with at least one episode a series dispensing with its own otherwise serious and brooding mould for something a light hearted. Another of Glen Morgan and James Wong’s shows, Millennium, had a very famous episode called “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me” in which four demons meet in a doughnut shop. These episodes offer a break from an otherwise deep series but when the situation is reversed (i.e. an otherwise light hearted comedy turns dark) people are often mixed in their responses.

300px-Garfieldhis9livestitle

Anyone who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s like myself knows of Garfield and Friends. The lazy cat who loves lasagne and lives with his owner John and the happy-go-lucky puppy Odie entertained children for years. It began as a comic strip written by Jim Davis and was animated in to a hugely successful television series which ran from 1982 to 1991. When Garfield: His 9 Lives was released initially as a graphic novel in 1984 and then animated in to a TV special in 1988 it offered an explanation for much of Garfield’s quirks through his past lives. Most of these lives were funny or cute in some way to reflect the light hearted nature of the show.

But then we get to Life No. 7. 

GARF1

Life No.7, known as “Lab Animal”, put a shockingly dark twist on the world of Garfield. In this ‘life’ Garfield is a tabby looking cat who is captured by a laboratory for use in animal experimentation. It is not clear exactly what the experiments are for but after receiving an injection Garfield falls asleep and wakes up a short while later. When the scientists open his cage to continue with the experiment he escapes and leaps through a window. He is pursued by a pack of dogs and escapes by holding on to the undercarriage of a helicopter before falling in to the woods apparently having escaped. He drinks water from a nearby stream but as he does he starts to change. Garfield transforms in to a dog and becomes the same breed as the ones chasing him thus allowing him to blend in. The last we see of this life is the Garfield-Dog looking at the camera with ominous green eyes.

GARF2

Everything about this short story is a departure from traditional Garfield ranging from the topic to the animation and style. It is surprisingly dark and as such seems so out of place with the rest of Garfield. It is in fact a mini-horror story, albeit watered down for children, and I have to say it is a fascinating and entertaining one. It is fast paced and genuinely unsettling in places exposing children to the world of animal testing. This should have caused much more of a fuss amongst parents than it did but because it was Garfield it somehow fell by the wayside after all Garfield was good natured fun. Not this time. If you haven’t seen the episode then it might seem bizarre that I am complementing the excellent directing and the score all of which build an ominous atmosphere throughout. The final scene with the Garfield-Dog’s eyes glowing hints that there is so much more to this story but of course we will never know.

This is one of those wonderful one-offs that appear every now and again and was definitely the highlight of Garfield; His 9 Lives for me.

GARF4 

Never Assume the Worst

back_to_the_future_part_2_1989_685x385

Doc: I foresee two possibilities. One, coming face to face with herself 30 years older would put her into shock and she’d simply pass out. Or two, the encounter could create a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum, and destroy the entire universe! Granted, that’s a worse case scenario. The destruction might in fact be very localized, limited to merely our own galaxy.

Marty McFly: Well, that’s a relief.

 

– Back to the Future Part II
1989

This is one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie. I just love the sheer scale of what could happen and in many ways there is a life lesson to be learned here; whenever there is a scale at which things can go wrong we assume the very worst. It’s human nature. It’s a defence mechanism so that we are as best prepared as we can be for it but look what that worrying does to us – makes us ill, irritable etc.

Why?

We could, like Jennifer, just simply pass out and the universe will still be here. As Marty said, “That’s a relief”.

GAME REVIEW: Teddy Boy

Teddy Boy (Front)

Teddy Boy was one of the very first games to make it on to the Sega Master System and just like Hang On came initially on one of the very short lived Sega cards. The game title came from a popular Japanese song released by a Japanese pop star called Yohko Ishino who was hitting the Japanese charts hard in 1985. The original Japanese version had the full title of Teddy Boy Blues and actually featured an 8-bit instrumental version of Ishino’s song. However because Ishino was not known outside of her home country when the game was exported all references to her were dropped including the music and the name shortened to Teddy Boy.

01

The game is simple enough in its premise; you are Teddy Boy (I presume that’s his name) and you have to go around a series of some 50 mazes with a small gun shooting bugs, guppies, snails and the dice in which they hide. Shoot any of these things with your gun and the creatures turn in to small immobile versions which you have to then collect. Failure to do so will eventually see it zip down to your time bar and take a chunk out of it thus reducing your point scoring ability. If you plan on hiding and waiting for the bad guys to come to you be warned – stand still for too long and the ground starts to break away before you fall through.

01a

This is a simple enough game but boy is it tough. The enemies are relentless as they swarm all over you and it becomes a real button bashing affair as you try to take out all of them. It is a challenge therefore but to be honest it is not a very entertaining one. It is very repetitive and the most important factor of any challenging game, the feeling of progression, is missing. Although I personally am not good enough to see it myself I have learned off the internet that the levels go on forever. After the 50 mazes are completed the game goes back to the first and continues through it again for another 49 since the counter only goes up to 99 and stays there. This game never ends!

01b

It is very early Master System in it’s appearance in that while it is an improvement over Atari 2600/5200 and Sega SG-1000 games it is still quite primitive looking. The colours are very bright looking like an early Simpsons episode at time. Teddy Boy looks like the happiest little monster hunter in town even when death is near as he runs around with his machine gun and a green cap that looks like a Jewish yamaka. When he gets killed he totally emulates Alex Kidd as he becomes an angel and flies up the screen to heaven.

01c

I am sure in 1985 this looked good and if you were Japanese and a fan of Ishino then it would appeal to you. As a retro gamer this lacks any of the charm earlier games had like Space Invaders which lets be honest has many similar traits to Teddy Boy when we break it down except your gun platform has more freedom of movement. Unlike Hang On this was not a good launch title for the Master System because it was too simple in premise and to produce but just so tough and unexciting in any way.

Not recommended by me I am afraid.

I’m sorry Stanley…I can’t let you do that.

sk

Stanley Kubrick is without a doubt one of the best directors of all time. His unique style pours out of his movies and without a doubt this is most evident in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. This sci-fi masterpiece has been described as being less of a movie and more of an experience. That’s pretty damn impressive by anyone’s standards.

A little known fact about the movie and something that perhaps sheds a little light on Kubrick’s psyche is that during its filming he was sufficiently worried that contact with extra terrestrial life would occur before the end of filming that he actually tried to take out an insurance policy against it. He approached the respected Lloyd’s of London with the unusual request to recover any financial losses he would incur should that happen but either they didn’t take him seriously or they too believed contact was close at hand because they refused him. 

It’s difficult to know if Kubrick was serious or whether it was part of some marketing scheme that Lloyd’s refused to participate in. Either way the movie was finished and released without the visitor’s arrival becoming a cult sci-fi movie the likes of which has never been seen before or since.

GAME REVIEW: Home Alone

sega-master-system-home-alone

The early 90s were an innocent time with the end of the Cold War, a new era of prosperity and (if you believe the world of the Home Alone franchise) being able to leave your child unattended for several days while you are in France without getting prosecuted for neglect. Regardless of just how far you had to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy it the movie Home Alone is a classic comedy. It remains as funny today as it was back in 1990 when Macaulay Culkin was still the loveable scamp with a penchant for creating comical traps for unsuspecting bad guys and not drugged up to the eyeballs as he has been recently.

Games based on the franchise however have not been as memorable. This is nothing new since Ghostbusters (one of my favorite movies of all time) had to wait over 25 years before it got a decent game. Now apparently the Master System game of Home Alone is one of the rarest titles on the console and is highly sought after by collectors despite the mixed reviews that have accompanied it.

As in the movie the game follows Kevin McCallister who has been left home alone while his parents took the rest of the family to France for Christmas. Meanwhile the wicked ‘Wet Bandits’, Harry and Marv, are intent on stealing all the family’s possessions. Each level involves Kevin trying to get to the valuables first and hiding them in a safe before the timer runs out or he is caught by the ‘Wet Bandits’. To help him Kevin has Buzz’s BB gun from the film which he can find ammunition for to slow down Harry and Marv or get back any valuables they have taken. Bizarrely there is a dog in the house (don’t remember that from the movie) that trips up both Kevin and the ‘Wet Bandits’.

Sadly, that’s all there is to it. There are no traps with which to beat Harry and Marv senseless with which was the whole fun of the film. Instead it plays more like an action/shooter adventure but set to the light hearted  backdrop of the Home Alone movie. Controlling Kevin isn’t particularly difficult with him being able to leap over the bandits with ease but problems arise when trying to go upstairs. You maybe aiming up with the D-pad but a lot of the time he will go right passed the stairs which can be a real headache with that insanely quick timer. The timer is your biggest problem in this game with Harry and Marv a close second. You can try to hide from them in crawl spaces but everytime I did they found me. Also it wastes valuable time that you don’t have. You do get three tries for each level and you will use them up quickly. The biggest pain in the rear however is that there are no continues so when those tries are up its back to the beginning.

I will not say this is the worst game based on a movie or TV franchise but certainly isn’t that memorable. I will not lie; at first I was enjoying this game but it quickly became repetitive and frustrating with there being little to hold your interest. Shame really. Feels like yet another missed opportunity for a game based on a movie.

Behind the Lines: A Hole in the Head

10537164_10153096038626164_2981670995523778734_n

Peter: Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole in your head, remember that?

Egon: That would have worked if you didn’t stop me.

– Ghostbusters (1984)

Sound like just another goofy line in one of the best movies of the 1980s? Well two things are interesting to know about this little moment in the movie; firstly Harold Ramis’ response was not scripted but ad-libbed on the spot. In fact much of the film was ad-libbed especially Bill Murray’s scenes.

Secondly and perhaps most incredibly the idea behind the line was inspired by a real event. John C. Lilly was a neuroscientist who in the 1970s while working with dolphins proposed drilling holes in his head to unlock some of the brain’s higher functions which he believed were being blocked physically. Fortunately (for him) he never went through the experiment but he remained a controversial and some would say eccentric scientist for many years. Harold Ramis was partly inspired by him when conceiving Egon’s character hence the reference in the movie.