Doctor Who 7.04 “The Power of Three”

The penultimate episode before the series takes a break until Christmas, this story is set on Earth – the first to be set there for a while, and focuses on the Pond’s real life, and how the Doctor manages to fit in with it. The mystery of the small, black cubes that fell from the sky one day is a lighter episode from the previous one, and has a feel for the Russell T Davies era again.

I must confess I wasn’t particularly interested in the cube storyline, although I did find them creepy enough – they way they had adapted slowly and silently into everyday, modern life seems like it could be a potential reality for the future. But this episode primarily focused on the Ponds. As it was based entirely on Earth, we start to see that they have in fact grown up from when we first met them in The Eleventh Hour –they now have each other, but jobs, commitments and lives to lead. I picked up on it other episodes but in the sequence when the Doctor lived in Amy and Rory’s home you definitely start to realise that the Doctor is like a big kid – he needs to be constantly occupied, shouting for Amy to witness him doing kick-me-up’s and playing on the Wii.

But he genuinely cares for the Ponds’ we see this when he whisks them off to the past for his version of an anniversary present, and in the emotional and poignant scene between him and Amy at Tower of London. It was a beautifully written speech by Chris Chibnall and acted exquisitely by Karen Gillan and Matt Smith. It’s made all the more poignant because the line “You were the first face this face saw” can also relate to Matt and Karen themselves, as they both started their Doctor Who adventure together. It’s tender and one of the best moments in the episode.


Brian is also back – hurrah! He was my favourite part of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and he does have some comic moments in this (his cube video diaries are a treat) but the conversation he shares with the Doctor when he realises they’ve been gone for longer than a few hours is heavy, haunting and foreboding.  “Not them, never them Brian” carries the level of importance these characters hold with the Doctor, and also perhaps gives a glimpse to the level of baggage that the Doctor carries-after all, this incarnation has yet to really lose anyone, whereas during David Tennant’s time his Doctor experience many a heartache.

Could this change in the next and final episode of Amy Pond and Rory Williams. We march ever closer to the Ponds exit from the series and I’m looking forward to seeing the tear-jerker of an episode that Moffat has no doubt written.

 

Rory: There are soldiers all over my house and I am in my pants. (The Power of Three)

Doctor Who 7.03 “A Town Called Mercy”

Doctor Who goes all Wild West this week in this Toby Whithouse written and Saul Metzstein directed episode. The promo looked intriguing and promised a glimpse of the unforgiving side of the Doctor. The trio visit the town of Mercy where they find the town being harassed by an alien gunslinger who only wants one man, the town’s doctor Kahler Jex. It then is revealed that this man created the gunlinger, who had spent its life slaughtering people – after it had realised what it was doing it set out to find the individuals responsible for creating him, leaving him with one last man – Jex.

The episode looks visually stunning, as sunny Spain, doubles up for the American West and the director’s wide panned shots make the choice definitely worthwhile.  The guest actors this week also put in strong performances: Ben Browder is charming and a sci-fi fan favourite (although I’ve never watched Farscape or Stargate) and Adrian Scarborough as Jex puts in a solid performance as what we find to be the true bad guy of the week. The character format has been seen before, although this character seems to have the ability to bring out the Doctor’s emotions much more – Matt Smith puts in a fantastic performance this week and shows the characters angry and unforgiving side beautifully. He’s intimidating and scary during the reveal of Jex’s past and his subsequent chasing him towards the gunslinger. The Doctor is perhaps the most unforgiving we have seen in the Matt Smith era, and it seems like his past has caught up with him as his talk with Amy reveals his hidden guilt’s over so many people’s deaths (and this will come up again in a different way in the next episode).

The end of episode brings about Jex’s death as he faces up to his past and self destructs his ship. It’s a nice ending to the character’s arc. It was also great to see the gunslinger redeemed at the end, as the town’s protector rather than something the town was frightened of.

Next episode, it focuses on the Pond’s ‘real life’ on Earth, and sees the return of Brian!

 

Isaac: You’re both good men, you just forget it sometimes. (A Town Called Mercy)

Doctor Who 7.02 “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

The second episode of the series promised a much more light-hearted story, filled with fun, frolic and oh a few Dinosaurs. The Doctor is in charge of saving Earth once more when an unmanned ship (filled with Dinosaurs) careers towards Earth: he must get aboard the ship and find a way to steer it away from Earth before it is blown to pieces by Earth missiles. What the Doctor doesn’t count on is Solomon an old, crippled collector of objects that is determined to keep hold of his precious cargo.

My excitement factor was kicked into high-gear for this week’s episode thanks to the appearance of two Harry Potter alumni appearing in one episode – David Bradley (aka Mr Filch) as the villainous Solomon and Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) as Rory Williams’ Dad – Brian!

Now before I move on, can I just gush about my personal highlight of this episode (and to be honest I don’t know whether it will be topped by anything else this series): Brian Williams. Now I love Mark Williams as an actor, the man has such a comic talent and he puts it to brilliant use here. I fell in love with Brian’s character instantly thank to Williams’ acting and the writing talents of Chris Chibnall. I also loved the double act he created with Arthur Darvill and it certainly reminded me of a Father/Son relationship.  The only word I feel that describes Brian fully is…Legend.

Doctor Who also goes for a new format in terms of the amount of friends the Doctor brings along. As well as the Ponds and Brian, we also see Queen Nefertiti and a hunter named Riddell join creating the Doctor’s self-proclaimed ‘gang’. It certainly works during this episode, although once or twice you are left cringing at Riddell’s macho comments.

 

Other great moments for this week include the Dinosaurs – there’s a nice mixture and I couldn’t help but fall in love with Tricey-it was simply adorable! The two robots were also comedy gold, cleverly voiced by one of the best comedy duos around today Robert Webb and David Mitchell. There is also a great lead performance by Matt Smith in this episode –the Doctor is being seen more and more as like a big kid, believing his life is far more entertaining than ‘normal’ boring life.  We’re seeing that Amy and Rory go back to their normal lives after each episode, perhaps showing that they are getting too old for their adventures with the Doctor. However Matt Smith also gives us a glimpse of the Doctor’s more unforgiving side, something that we will see more of in next week’s episode.

This episode is just a great big ball of fun – entertaining, silly and humorous, reminding me of the days when Russel T Davies was at the head of the Doctor Who ship. Next week’s episode promises to be more serious than this one as we march on. I’d definitely say this episode was close, if not on par with last week’s episode in terms of entertainment factor.

 

Rory: Dig with what?

Brian: Ah! (produces a trowel)

Rory: Did you just have that on you?

Brian: Of course! What sort of a man doesn’t carry a trowel? Put it on our Christmas list.

Rory: Dad, I’m 31. I don’t have a Christmas list any more.

Doctor: (from afar) I do!

(Dinosaurs on a Spaceship)

Glee 4.02 ‘Britney 2.0’

 

The second episode of the new series saw the Glee Club take on Britney Spears again in order to help cheer their Brittany up – she’s been kicked off the Cheerio’s because of her grades and she’s missing Santana. The episode focuses on the real Britney’s downward spiral, and gives us hilarious spoofs such as Glee’s Brittany trying to shave off her hair and attacking a student with an umbrella (something the real Britney did rather famously during her own breakdown in 2007). Their performance of “Gimme More” at the pep rally very much resembled Britney’s performance at the 2007 VMA’s-a performance that was supposed to be her ‘comeback’ but ended up being embarrassingly awful.

Glee is also showing more sides of Jacob, particularly in regards to his love interests; he’s viewed as a bit of player among the Glee girls (with the help of the song ‘Womanizer) but Marley still holds a candle to him. The two have great chemistry and it’s endearingly sweet when he jumps to the defence of Marley and her Mom in the cafeteria. I’m starting to really like his character, although the new twist at the end with having him date Kitty does feel slightly déjà vu (can anyone say Rachel/Finn/Quinn triangle)

Meanwhile in New York, Rachel’s moved in with Kurt and he helps shed some light on Cassie July’s past-turns out she had an on stage outburst at an audience member  (hilariously acted by Hudson might I add) and since then no one will employ her. Rachel continues to have problems with her, but it seems like she is making light progress. However, the heat gets turned up considerably between Rachel and Brody this week when Rachel asks him to help with a dance she is working on to prove she can be sexy. After her argument with Cassie, he comes to see her in her new apartment with flowers and confesses that he finds her sexy. He goes in to kiss her but she rebukes him, claiming she isn’t ready because of Finn. He respects that but tells her he’ll still think about kissing her. The end of the episode brought a hint that Brody/Rachel could become a reality when the wall bearing Finn’s name and a heart around it was painted over in white. And yes I did shout at the computer screen –“yes paint over him”.

Now, I’m not saying I’m not a fan of Rachel and Finn but….WHY DID SHE TURN HIM DOWN!!! I must confess I did have a rant at my housemate (who looked slightly bewildered at my outburst). I really hope the Glee writers give these two a shot-I would love to see Rachel with someone who is as confident and self-assured as Brody clearly is. And I’m sorry Darren Criss but you are now my 2nd favourite –Brody is just yum!

This episode we get our first glimpses of 2 original Glee members– Santana (Naya Rivera) talking to Brittany over Skype and Puck (Mark Salling), who comes to meet his half-brother having been drafted in by Mr Schue to help place Jacob on the straight and narrow. Even though their appearances were brief it showed that they could fit the old members that have graduated into the show when the timings were right, something which I’m looking forward to seeing as well in the future episodes.

Next week, we definitely do see the first episode that Sarah Jessica Parker is in – last week’s promo clearly lied. We also see the battle for Class President again. I’ll leave you with my favourite performance of this week – Glee’s guitar, acoustic version of Britney Spears’ ‘3

Brittany: Kiki why is everyone in the Glee club staring at me

Kiki: Because those fools are jealous (Brittany 2.0)

The Witches – By Roald Dahl

As we go through life, we sometimes realise that there are key elements which we have missed form certain time periods of our lives, for example never joining the Brownies. For me, (it came as a not so pleasant surprise) it was the fact that as a child I was never big on reading, so I never read all of the classic children’s literature. But now that I am an avid reader (thanks to J.K. Rowling), I was browsing the shelves of a second hand book store and came across what I believed to be my favourite Roald Dahl book (one of the only ones I had read), The Witches, only to find when I started the first few pages that I had in fact got my books mixed up and I had never read the story; it had always been on my ‘to do by the age of 10’ list. So a decade later I thought it must be fate that this book has landed in my lap on a Sunday afternoon and so I took to reading it.

The story is truly delightful, but I had to remember when I was reading it, to read in the mindset of a child; that way it made it much more fun! The story is written from the perspective of a little boy and Roald Dahl has captured the character’s essence perfectly, with the target audience the clear thinking theme throughout. As I read I was picturing a small class of children listening intently and squirming as their teacher said words like ‘dog droppings’ and ‘poo’. The beauty of it though, which made for such lovely reading, was the fact that in no way could it be real. The story-line hadn’t been over-thought about; it was as if a child had come up with the idea and Roald Dahl had just written it down using grown-up words.

If you want something to read your kids at night, to a class full of small children, or to take you back to your younger years, then I would definitely recommend The Witches. My recommendation may be slightly biased as it is the only one I have read for a very long time, but it was a little drop of pleasantness in my adult life.

My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night. But ah my foes and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light” Roald Dahl

 

The Declaration of Independence and a Secret Treasure – National Treasure (2004) Review

This Jerry Bruckheimer produced and Disney distributed film starring Nicholas Cage, Diane Kruger and Sean Bean is a treasure hunting, mystery-adventure filled with interesting historical information, and a fake conspiracy against the founding fathers of America.

Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) comes from a family who has long been searching for a mythical treasure that has been lost for centuries. After years of his family searching he’s getting closer but doesn’t count on his colleague now turned competitor Ian Howe (Sean Bean) also wanting the treasure and fortune for himself. Ben accompanied by his friend Riley (Justin Bartha) and historian Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) he attempts to thwart Ian and also find the treasure.

The movie is an old favourite of mine, and is a great family film to watch on an afternoon, with some comedic moments, great action set pieces and a movie that allows you to learn a thing or two about American history. And it also features Sean Bean as the villain, something the man has had a bit of practice at (that and dying).

 

‘Okay Ben, pay attention. I’ve brought you to the Library of Congress. Why? Because it is the biggest library in the world. Over 20 million books. And they’re all saying the same exact thing – “Listen to Riley”.’ Riley, National Treasure

Glee 4.01 ‘The New Rachel’

Season 4 of Glee returned last Thursday over in America with a solid first episode filled with plenty of catchy musical renditions, some great new additions to the cast and a good balance of New York and Ohio.

Rachel’s started classes at NYADA and she has the dance teacher from Hell – the school’s version of Sue Sylvester Cassandra July (Kate Hudson), and she’s finding it tough in New York by herself. She soon finds an ally in Brody, a junior at the school who takes a shine to her. Meanwhile, at McKinley the New Directions are still popular following their Nationals win, Wade (aka Unique and Glee Project runner up Alex Newell) joins New Directions and himself, Blaine, Tina and Brittany fight it out to become the ‘New Rachel’. Also, Kurt is still in Ohio, trying to find a stable job but by the end of the episode he’s joined Rachel in New York.

I always thought that with other seasons (with the exception of the pilot episode) the opening episodes were always slightly weak, in terms of song choices and storylines. However, this season’s opener was quite strong, filled with 5 good music numbers and a sense of a new direction for the show now that some of the originals have graduated. Even though they are all still signed up, we won’t be seeing them every week gracing the halls of McKinley. However it doesn’t mean to say the newbies aren’t up to scratch. I LOVE Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist), she has a gorgeous voice and her character could definitely be an interesting one, with already a couple of love interests. Puck’s younger brother Jake (Jacob Artist) also seems intriguing, particularly with his anger issues. Also, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the incredibly good looking Brody (Dean Geyer) – wow he’s charming, has a great voice, is hot and has an Australian accent is real life(he may overtake Darren Criss as my favourite cast member). Lastly, can I just point out how hot Kate Hudson is; wow-can she sing and dance! She sizzled sexiness and those catty put downs definitely gave Sue Sylvester a run for her money.

Although one thing I will say is that it I didn’t like the Glee club’s attitude this week – cutting off Jake half way through his song, and also their cockiness because of their popularity just seemed very un-Glee. Although this was pretty much rectified at the end of the episode when the club apologised to Marley for their bullying of her mum (who I also love) and the two newcomers were slushied by the popular kids. I just hope the show continues to have a strong season, as it could be crucial to the show’s longevity.

The next episode is the 2nd Britney Spears tribute episode that the show has done and also brings the first episode for the show’s other big guest star Sarah Jessica Parker.

Also I will leave you with my favourite musical number of the episode, coming at the end of the episode, showcasing the talents of newcomer Marley. (I would also be lying if I said I didn’t shed a couple of tears at the end when Rachel saw Kurt)

Sue: Kitty is my new head bitch. She’s like a young Quinn Fabray, except she’s not pregnant, manic-depressive, or in and out of a wheelchair.(The New Rachel)

Anna Karenina

In the want of high culture my Monday night film club took me and the ladies of the family to the world of Russian hypocrisy and the film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina. Set in the nineteen hundreds, we find Anna trying to save her brothers marriage when her own is on the rocks. As she goes against the rules of society and embarks on a risky love affair, falls pregnant and chooses her lover over her husband, she finds herself being pushed from the high society she was once a part of and unable to find peace of mind in her new life.

Keira Knightley takes on the dramatic role of Anna Karenina and as no stranger to the world of periodic drama she plays the character beautifully. She captures the weakness of what was once a strong Russian socialite, giving a chilling performance of a now shunned outcast of society. Both Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson give spectacular performances as the heartbroken and embarrassed Aleksei Karenin and the charming, sly dog of a man Count Vronsky. For me, Jude Law made my skin crawl, his usual handsome good looks are hidden by a hideous (but very time appropriate) beard, but his acting is as always, exceptional; my mother on the other hand found him very appealing!

The film itself has a very Black Swan feel to it, dark, mysterious and haunted by the characters actions. The characters lives, living in the spotlight of high-society Russia, are reflected through a clever piece of filmography; the set being made up of a theatre stage where the film is played out for all to see. It ties in well adding to the pressures of life at the top of the social hierarchy.

An epic tale of love and betrayal; showing that no matter how much time goes by, we can still be tormented by the same heart-rending problems. Hats off to Joe Wright and his take on the classic novel.

I think … if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.’Anna Karenina, Book 2, Chapter 7.

Doctor Who 7.01 “Asylum of the Daleks”

So, these are gonna be an extremely LATE set of reviews in preparation for the final episode this Saturday, and the emotional exit of the Ponds. Asylum of the Daleks was an impressive opening episode written by showrunner Steven Moffat and also saw the return of the Daleks.

Now for those eager beavers (me included), the small 5-part drama Pond Life that aired online the week leading up to the first episode was delightful for those die-hard fans, craving any clues to the series ahead. However it did leave us with a slight 24-hour cliff-hanger when it showed Rory leaving and Amy crying, leaving the impression that they had broke up.

Queue Saturday night where my house was silent (my housemates having been pre-warned about my tendencies to shout if people spoke during my TV time).  Despite the fact that there had been a few screenings of the first episode both in the UK and America, Steven Moffat had asked for no spoilers to be revealed which was a good thing because….

 

Wait! What? Is that…NO…OH MY GEEKY GOODNESS YES! It’s Jenna Louise Coleman aka the new companion after the Ponds leave (although she’s a couple months early!) Sneaky Moffat fibbed to us all and there was Jenna appearing as Oswin Oswald; charming, sexy, full of tenacity and extremely witty (enough to Give Matt Smith’s Doctor a run for his money) her actual fate revealed at the end of the episode leaves us feeling genuinely sorry for her character. Speculation has now been rife as to how she is going to appear in the Christmas episode when she officially takes on the role of companion.  I am now extremely excited to see what Coleman can do as I simply loved her character throughout this episode –those one liners!

But back to the other nitty gritty moments of the story. The Daleks are back, and they’re crazy, which makes for an even more scary version of them. I got to say the thing that creeped me out the most was the Daleks appearing as humans. It just made it even more terrifying and freaky.

However, my stand out moments this week can courtesy of the Ponds. It had been teased at during the mini online drama but the opening 5 minutes showed that Rory and Amy’s relationship had deteriorated to the point that they were going to get divorced. The idea that something major had happened to their relationship is definitely unsettling seeing as the couple have been so stalwart previously.

The scene with the admission that Amy now has problems conceiving children after Demon’s Run is heartbreaking and is acted beautifully by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. It has always been a long-running suggestion that Rory loved Amy more because he waited for her for 2,000 years. However, Amy reveals that she is just as invested in their relationship as he is, proclaiming that she gave him up. We see her vulnerable side and through this the couple mend, bringing them back to perhaps the most happiest they’ve been together. I genuinely love this couple and these two actors have such a great chemistry together – you can tell that they are friends in real life and I feel they’ve built up a great on-screen relationship together.

 

So, the countdown to the end of the Ponds has begun! If the other episodes this series are anything like this, it’s gonna be a fantastic end for Amy and Rory!

 

Rory: So, how much trouble are we in?

The Doctor: How much trouble, Mr Pond? Out of ten? Eleven. (Asylum of the Daleks)

Music Madness-It’s Time

Okay, because I’m greedy there’s two musical delights today!
This is from the American band Imagine Dragons and its their first single from their brand new album-they’ve just started to become known in America and they’re about to get an even bigger boost as Glee’s Darren Criss (Blaine) is doing a cover of this song in the opening episode of Glee. As much as I love Glee (and Darren) the original is better and is incredibly catchy!
New favourite band alert!!!