Thursday, 30 April 2009


Back in the realm of science-fiction here as I take a look at this wonderful and underated film. The book is also extrodinary, but its been too long since I read it for me to offer any decent review.

The story is one of humanities first contact with aliens. This is not the normal "invasion of earth" or X-Files paranoia type of story that is so common in popular SF. It is instead a much more cerbral tale more in line with Arthur C Clarke's 2001.

The film deviates from the book in a number of points, in particular the past history of Ellie as a child. Similarly there are parts of the story that are realised better in the book than the film (and indeed vice versa). Both are classy and they compliment each other very well, this may be due to the inolvement of Carl Sagan in the film making process. Ultimately, the film does an excellent job of preserving the ethos of the book.

As a film this is criminally underated. I can only think that this is because of the presence of Matthew McConaughey because other than that the film is a virtually flawless bit of SF. The discovery of the aliens signal is one of the most exciting bits of cinema I have ever seen. Even on repeated viewings I still get chills as Ellie picks up the signal on her headphones and starts the process of confirming what she is hearing. That whole sequence to me is far superior to the nearest Hollywood equivilent (contact in Close Encounters of the Third Kind). The irony of the signal being a recording of Hitler is an excellent touch working in the story as a moment of disqueit for the characters and working for the audience as a reason for why we may not yet have had first contact.

This sequence is complimented (although not bettered) later in the film in the sequence leading up to Ellie being "launched". The point of "Contact" itself was never going to be able to live up to the equivilent in the book. The book was able to make more of it because of the more complex backstory that Ellie had and because of other scientific and theological concerns dealt with in the novel. In the film it is boiled down to a bunch of 2001/stargate stylie effects and a more simplistic examination of the films themes. That being said the effects are genuinely beautiful and support the moment of Contact as far as any purely visual technique can.

A word too for Jodie Foster. Jodie tends to be excellent in just about everything she does, even when the parts/films are not worthy of her talent. Here she gives an outstanding performance, literally carrying the scenes with the aforementioned McConaughey. The casting of McConaughey is the films one weak spot. The Palmer Joss of the book has gravity, humility and a drive comparable to Ellie's. The Palmer Joss of the film gives the impression of being laid back to the point of being horizontal. More of a drop out surfer dude than a man of the cloth.

If you like your SF in the escapist/trashy Independence Day mould, then this won't be for you. But if you want an examination of the relationship between faith and reason or thoughtful speculation on what the effect of First Contact might be, or if you just want a little slice of wonder, then this is essential viewing.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Raging Bull

Here's another film that I have only recently got around to watching. Long story short - a film I liked, but not one that lived up to my expectations.


That it was shot in black and white. BUT also that the lighting was appropriate for black and white. I cannot even begin to get across how important this is. There are any number of films and TV shows that have done "the black and white one", but even when they get the directorial style right they nearly always fail to get the lighting correct/authentic (case in point the X-Files' Post Modern Prometheus).

The performances were excellent throughout. Although I am wondering if this was the start of Joe Pesci playing himself.

The fights all have a brutal feel to them. Partly this is the result of foley work, but its also the result of the unique camera work and makeup jobs. That being said, for true brutality in boxing, check out the film about the Ali-Frazier fights, the third of which was just hellacious.


It is a little churlish to critisise a biopic for having a meandering plot so I won't do that. The story is what it is because of real life. I didn't like the final scene though. I didn't find it open ended so much as perfunctory. I would have prefered for the film to end with scene in the prison which had more of a sense of closure (particularly thematically).

There were few characters with whom I was able to feel any real empathy. Vicki Lamotta is perhaps the main exception to this, but even that is more of a feeling of sympathy rather than empathy, certainly the character is not in of herself likeable.

Anyway, its stylistically brilliant and is a very good film, I just don't see it as an out an out classic.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Yes, I have been living under a rock all these years as I have only just watched this exceptional film. I do of course remember it coming out and the associated press that it had re-invented and/or marked the final chapter of the Western Genre. I am not sure either sentiment is wholly accurate (or wholly inaccurate) but it is certainly true that there is a sense of revelation about the film.

Cards on the table, of all the genre's of fiction I have found those of spy thrillers and westerns to be the hardest to get into. This is not the post to address the issues I have with the spy genre (although some of my feelings are in the James Bond and Prisoner posts bellow), but I feel its only fair to elaborate on my misgivings about Westerns, if only so that my feelings on Unforgiven are given a proper context.

I've never been short of exposure to Westerns. My Grandfather was a keen fan of the genre and I would spend many an hour with him whilst he was watching Westerns. And to be fair, there were a couple that I liked and would happily sit through again (The Shootist comes to mind). But I generally find that the genre too often falls into a cliche (as opposed to archetype) and worse still, corniness. Similarly I have problems with the depiction of the wild west in terms of the treatment of the genocide of the Native American people and a treatment of guns and death that ranges from the perfunctory to glorification. Too many of the old westerns were simply insturments of the Hollywood propaganda machine that operated throughout the cold war. On a more superficial level the bombastic scoring and often bland cinematography and direction also irked me.

It was partly because of these feelings that I consciously avoided watching Unforgiven for so long. A large part of me felt that it would not live up to the hype, another part of me felt that I would not be able to give it a fair viewing.

Anyhow, I felt that what with Gary Dobbs campaign and impending book, the time had come to give the film a go.

Needless to say I am really glad that I did so. Once again Wikipedia is the friend of anyone looking for a plot synopsis.


The opening. Compelling and shocking in its brutality. This would be a good opening for any film and would obviously work if transposed to virtually any other genre (crime, historical saga, action movie etc, probably not for a rom-com though!). Its immediately apparent that the violence in this film MEANS something. Its not a stylised and sanitised punch-up suitable for kiddies to watch at the pics on a Saturday morning.

Similarly the film wisely avoids any involvement or reference to Native Americans. This is a no-win situation for modern westerns in my opinion. Whilst the treatement of this issue in older westerns can be, if not excused, then at least understood in the context of the time in which the films were made; there is no way that a current western could (or indeed should) style the stories in the veign of the older westerns. Similarly it is unlikely that, in a post George W Bush world, a Hollywood film would be able to point out the fact that the America of today is the result of systematic ethnic cleansing.

The films treatment of violence and death is light years ahead of not only most westerns, but most films to come out of America. In particular it is clear that fights lead to pain and injury, bullets to serious injury and death. Similarly the morality of the frontier way of life is examined from a number of perspectives. Its clear that much of what happened in those days may not have been right, or even considered right at the time, but was probably necessary a great deal of the time. On the other hand the raw deal that the women get never feels anything other than unjust and arbitrary. Interestingly, the film doesn't really offer any resolution to these issues. I am not even sure that it poses clear questions. Thus at times the film feels like a morality play without a moral. This is not to say that the film is empty, nor do I consider this a critisism. More that the film has a unique and fascinating tension to it. It feels not so much open ended as unresolved and it has stayed with me nearly a week on from viewing it.

On a superficial level, the cast are uniformly excellent and the direction and cinematography is moody and involving. Far removed from the flat and bland wildernesses that I tend to associate with westerns. The music too is both effective and unobtrusive.

Best of all of is the climax of the film. Never before have I seen a Western with an ending as taught as this. From the moment that Morgan Freeman's character is captured there is a feeling of dread and of events spiralling out of control. Again the death of his character is treated as a big deal. I think that a lot of people would've realised that the shit was about to go down once Clint's character started to drink again. But a more subtle indication is there in the fear of the woman who breaks the news as she has realised the she and the others have made a deal with (a former) devil.

If I can digress for a slight moment. The 7th Doctor acquired the moniker of "The Oncoming Storm" following the destruction of Skaro in Rememberance of the Daleks. I immeidately though of this at the beging of the scene in which Clint walks into the bar. What I found terrific about this scene is that you get the sense that this is new territory for the character. Although previously a proficient killer and then a reformed, rightous man, this is a melding of both aspects. A man killing from rightous anger. Off the top of my head I think this is probably the most effective and powerful finale to a film since The Empire Strikes Back (or possible Resevoir Dogs).

To conclude, I loved it!

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Well, I've just finished reading this in the last couple of days. I've never seen the film, although having now read the book I suspect it is probably better than the book.

Most people will have a good idea of what the book is about either because they have seen the film, or more broadly, just by the notion of knowing what a catch 22 situation is.

I intend to watch the film, but I am also one of those people that will always read the book first if the opportunity to do so arises. The book itself is long, clocking in at nearly 600 pages and I am not convinced that it really needed to be that long or that the book is the modern classic it is held up to be. I don't propose to undertake a detailed synopsis here, those looking for such a guide can look to wikipedia or google ( What I will say is that the book is very funny at times and I liked its subversive satire. On the other hand the books is essentially one joke over and over again and in many ways reads like a collection of short stories or vignettes shoe-horned into the medium of the novel. The plot is difficult to describe, simply because I am not sure the book has a plot, so much as a sequence of events which illustrate and repeat the catch 22 theme in a fractal-like pattern. For all that the (open) ending is genuinely uplifting and the central character, Yossarian, is one of the more accentric lead characters to come out of Americal literature.

My overriding impression is then of a book which is, at times, interesting, funny, unique and ground-breaking; but which is also long-winded, repetitive and ultimately hard to warm too.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Doctor Who - 4th Doctor Strips Vol 1

The fourth Doctor's comic strip era is the first to which the notion of "too broad and too deep for the small screen" really applies. This era has been lovingly republished by the folks at DWM in two volumes, the first of which I shall be covering in this post. Some of these stories have also recently been (or are slated to be) reprinted again by IDW comics in a colourised format. The DWM editions remain faithful to the original black and white stips that were published in the 1970s.

There are several notable points about these strips. The first is that the characterisation of the Doctor is far better than was previously the case with the comics. Throughout the run of these comics, the Doctor remains true to the zany portrayal of Tom Baker and there are plenty of good gags. The next point to note is that these stories are far more imaginative than the earlier comics. They have a scale and ambition and originality that dwarfs the paltry efforts of the Hartnell and Troughton strips. Some even go beyond the ambition of the TV too. By and large there is a real sense that these stories happen in the same universe as the TV show and even where the strip departs from the show (introducing its own companion), there is no real conflict between the continuities of the TV show and the strips. The strips also retain the sense of fun that the TV show had at this time and do not suffer with the dryness of the Pertwee comics.

This then is the point where we can say the comics got it right for the first time and before I go further I will plug the first of the DWM reprints, volume 1 - The Iron Legion, avaialble from amazon at this link:

1) THE IRON LEGION is the name of first story in the Iron Legion collection and the first to be published by, what was then called, Doctor Who Weekly. Credited to Pat Mills & John Wagner (writers) and Dave Gibbons (art) this is a story that was rejected for TV by the beeb and it is easy to see why. Quiet simply they could never have made it in the 1970s, even today it would present real budgetary difficulties. The storyline deals with the Doctor discovering Robot Army of a Roman Empire from a parrallel universe that is trying to colonise the whole multiverse. The very first page is immediately striking as we see a hoarde or Robot romans and a tank invading and English village. This scene alone would've blown the budget of a 1970s TV episode in one hit, more remarkable is how immediate it feels. If this had been a TV episode at the time this scene would've been built up to, hell a few years earlier (ie Pertwee) it probably would've been the cliffhanger for an episode 1. The story doesn't let up from here as the Doctor almost immediately discovers the invasion, fools a robot with his alien phsyiology (Hooray they've realised he isn't a Human!) and then gets captured. Its then established that the Robots worship a God and it is this central mystery and its resolution that drives the rest of the story. All of this is dealt with in the first issue/episode in a matter of 5 pages. This represents an efficiency of storytelling that was unique in Doctor Who until the transmission of Rose in 2005.

The rest of the story is equal to the first episode and revels in a scope and scale that was simply revolutionary at the time. There are any number of things here that would become tropes of the 2005 revival. Issue two sees the story being told, in part, by TV news reports. We also have a style of storytelling in which secondary characters are fully fleshed out. On a shallower level we have proper crowd scenes, blimps being used as the primary means of transport (Hello Rise of the Cybermen!), the Malevilus as the baddies (Hello School Reunion) and the Doctor repeatedly calling one of the baddies "Parrot Face". This is a story which just gets bigger and bigger, starting in a small English Village and ending in a huge Roman City in a parrellel universe that is under the control of aliens! The only real critisism one can make is that the story is very A to B to C in terms of plotting. But given that it is essentially an action adventure required to be told in comic form, in very few pages, this is quibbling. The scale and wonder and ideas of the story more than make up for this minor shortcoming, especially when one takes into account the fact that 30 years have passed since its first publication. I would take this story over a Power of Kroll any day of the week.

2) CITY OF THE DAMNED. Another Mills/Wagner/Gibbons collaboration, this one isn't as revolutionary at The Iron Legion, but i think I like it more. Its certainly a great example of how much better the fourth Doctor strips reflected the TV show than the previous doctor's strips did. This is about more than merely maintaining continuity, its about maintaining and ethos whilst also being true to your own medium. This story, for the want of a better way of putting it, has the same flavour of the TV stories, but by virtue of being in a different media a different texture. Thus you can see it as the missing link between Doctor Who: The Sunmakers and Blake's 7: The Way Back/Spacefall. The storyline deals with the Doctor discovering a society in which emotions have been outlawed and erradicated, obviously he is not going to accept that and eventually the ruling baddies are overthrown by means of a Sunmakers Stylie revolution. Once again the story opens with a striking first page reminiscent of the sort of thing Blake's 7 would open with (only bigger budget!). There's a really good line in dark humour too eg the TARDIS materialises in the living room of two drones:

"There is a strange box appearing in the corner "b""
"Yes, "A", ignore it. Perhaps it will go away"

Or on being told that "A" has a genetic flaw and will be turned into fertiliser:

"Goodbye "B"... Perhaps one day you and your new "A" will eat foodstuffs grown on me"
"And then again, perhaps we won't. Goodbye "A"".

best of all are the Doctor being told that he has an "illegal" sense of humour and the Doctor tying up a prisoner with his scarf!

This is also a story that couldn't have been done on the TV. Not so much because of budgetary concerns (although they would have been a problem) but because some of it would be too dark on TV. The society's acceptance of death provides for some moments which are effective and darkly amusing in the strip (witness one of the drones commenting on his being eaten alive); but on TV these same scenes would've been way to gory, bleak and downright disturbing!

Again there are any number of TV stories that are nowhere near as good or ambitious as this one.

3) STAR BEAST. The Mills/Wagner/Gibbons partnership follows up two epics with a more down to earth story, a comedic one at that. This one is still groundbreaking in its own right though. Firstly, it introduces a new companion, Sharon. When Martha Jones was introduced much was made about her being the first black companion the Doctor had had. And so many of the New Adventures fanboys and fangirls pointed out that this was wrong because Roz Forrester was his first Black Companion. Then the big finish groupies pointed to Erimem. But the truth of the matter is that Sharon was the first Black companion, introduced back in February 1980.

More important that this though, is that it is this story which introduces:


BtM is just awesome. A fuzzy-wuzzy ball of hatred and frustration that plays on the sentimentality and Animal Hospital empathy of us humanoids, when in reality he is a psycopathic, homicidal leader of an army hellbent on genocide. The strip shows us how the Meeps come to be this way (complete with charming execution ditty "hoppity hop! Boppipty Bop! who's next for the chop?) and there are numerous brilliant OTT Beep rants as the story goes along, eg:

"Never has the "Most-High" been so insulted! Before the "Most-High" leaves this planet there will be atonement in blood!"

"Work drones! Work until you die!"

"Hapiness is a stagnant pond! True Joy can only be found through inflicting Pain, Earth girl"!

You get the picture! Beep the Meep is a classic example of why I am not a fan of the whole canon debate. If you say the comics aren't cannon, then you are left with the absurdity of the Vogans, the mykra or the Taran Woodbeast being "proper" Doctor Who, whilst something as infintely cool as Beep the Meep, "doesn't count". Any philosophy that takes us to such a point is clearly nonsensical.

Anway, aside from that there a cool gag as the Doctor twiddles an alien's eyeball in the mistaken belief its a light swich. There's also the awesomeness of SOMBRERO-DOCTOR!!!!

4) DOGS OF DOOM. This is the first real let down of the Mills/Wagner/Gibbons team with a story that is unengaging and less than the sum of its parts. It relies heavily on the old base under seige storyline with a twist taken from Invasion of Time as the apparent baddies are shown to be controlled by someone else. The apparent baddies are basically werewolves the real baddies are revealed to be:

wait for it.



So its pretty cool to see the Daleks against the 4th Doctor in the comic. But their plan is pretty rubbish and the way they are beaten feels cheap. Two things I do like though, the first is the Doctor resolving the cliffhanger of having become a wearwolf himself and enduring 3 months of hell in the TARDIS to do so. Secondly if you've ever wondered who would win in a fight between a Dalek and K9, the answer is K9 3 - Daleks 0.

5) THE TIME WITCH. Yikes! A huge drop in quality here and a rare blunder for this era. This may be attributable to the fact of it being writer Steve Moore's first bash. Basically this is a retelling of the Omega sections of the Third Doctor with a bit of Superman thrown in too. A throwback to the type of storytelling that was used for the comics of the first two Doctors. It also sees Sharon aged up by 4 years for no apparent reason (permantly so too).

Overall though this is an excellent collection with 3 brilliant stories, 1 decent one and the final crap one at least being short.

Doctor Who - Stories too Broad and too Deep for the Small Screen.

As fantastic as it is that Doctor Who is back on TV and as successful as it has ever been; the show has a rich history in other media. This is the first in what I hope will be a long series of posts looking at the Doctor's non-televisual adventures, which I believe to be just as valid, important and brilliant as the best that the TV stories have to offer.

For my own convenience I shall be starting out with the comics. In the future I hope to look at the BF audios and the books too. In this post I will be providing some context as I look at the comics of the first, second and third Doctors. In the next I will turn to an in depth look at the Fourth Doctor's comic adventures.

The comics were the first complementary media for the TV series, beating even the Cushing movies. Published in episodic format along side other strips in "TV comic" the stories of the first Doctor were an example of the worst in cynical cashing in. The best that can be said for them is that the likenesses of Hartnell were sometimes quiet good and, more importantly, they were the first Doctor Who stories to be in colour on a regular basis (the Cushing movies being by definition specials). Certainly at the time they were published they would not have even been particularly necessary as a means of filling the gaps when the show was not being broadcast, because the show was on the air for most of the year. Additionally the standalone Dalek Strips were far superior in every respect.

As with the Cushing Movies, the writers seem to have decided what made the show so great and unique, took it out of any of the strips and replaced it with the most generic story tropes and styles of the 1960s. The "Doctor Who" of these strips (seriously, thats how the character was refereed to) was a human being with children and grandchildren - John and Gillian, who were his companions. The TARDIS was dealt with as little more than a conventional spacecraft, rather than the spooky and wonderous alien ship/being that it is. The storylines were generally simplistic and uninvolving and often depenent on and/or resolved by The Doctor pulling a gadget out of his ever present Gladstone Bag. For the first few years the makers of TV comic couldn't get/wouldn't pay for the Daleks, so the strip made repeated use of The Zarbi and the Trods (their own invention) as the Doctor's main recurring foes.

By and large then these comics are rightfully viewed as a footnote in the history of Doctor Who. Some selected reprints in the Classic Comics collection (a DWM stablemate of the 90s) did little to revise anyones opinion. Thus the DWM "missing adventure" strips of the mid 90s are the only decent representation of Hartnell's Doctor in the form of comic strip adventures.

The second Doctors comics represent a marginal improvement on the first Doctors. Again they offered the reader to novelty of colour and they at least made some attempts to link in with the TV show in as much as Jamie was a companion in many of the strips. By this time the Dalek issue had been sorted so the second Doctor did get to pit his wits against Skaro's finest. But once again there are clear signs that the writers had only the barest idea of the show itself. Once again the Doctor is generally treated as being a human being. Worse, this Doctor regularly carries a laser pistol to kill his enemies with (Die Hideous creature Die!) and relies heavily on his Batman Stylie utility belt and inventions to get his way through his adventures. Now I appreciate that the Troughton Era of the show had a tendency to veer into a morality that the likes of Nixon or "W" would be happy with, but the character as portrayed in the comics is little short of homicidal! The main legacy for this era is that it showed that other media need not be subservient to the TV stories and can fill in the gaps. The comics were the first to explore the notion of a "season 6b" with the Doctor doing the Time Lords bidding for some time after the events of The War Games and prior to his regeneration into the third Doctor. These post War Games strips may still have been pretty poor, but it is arguable that this idea took a hold of people as it seems to have been assumed that the second Doctor had a life beyond the War Games in both The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors (which in turn gave rise to the books running with the idea).

By this point it will be apparent that the first and second Doctors' run in the comics presents something of a problem for those of us who have an inclusive approach to canon in that they are both poor stories and also in a continuity that is irreconcilable with the main canon. The latter point is not so much of a problem as my own view is that whilst there is an obvious and substantial overlap between canon and contininuity, they are not actually the same thing. The former point also presents a problem though, there are plenty of poor tv stories from that era! Fortunately there are two excellent retcon's available to remedy this problem. Steve Lyons' had the first go in his New Adventure Head Games, in which it is positied that the Doctor Who of the strips is a creation of the Land of Fiction. More recently the DWM comics have put forward the notion that they are dreams of the Doctor himself.

The third Doctor's strips are a strange era. I must admit that my knowledge her is more limited as I have not had as much exposure to them as to the strips of the first and second Doctors. However, it does seem that they are relatively faithful to the TV series and that the writers had some real understanding of what they were writing. The lack of UNIT was down to rights issues and is aruably an advantage as the comics feature much more space/time travel than was the case for the TV show. On the other hand the few strips I have been able to read are somewhat stilted and lifeless at times. There have been some rumblings on the DWF that DWM may eventually reprint these if they can get the rights, if they do I will post a proper look at this era then. One thing that I do remember is that they gave the Doctor his own cottage, this would become a home away from home for the 7th Doctor in his comics and indeed in some of the New Adventure stories too.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Ordinary Decent Criminal

Readers of this blog will know of my fondness for Hustle. This film is a different take on the caper genre, but matches Hustle for wit, cleverness, casting and style. Our friends at Wikipedia provide a decent synopsis of the story here:

This is one great little film. Obviously the casting helps; Kevin Spacey, Lionda Fiorentino and Helen Baxendale (I Would) is nothing to sneeze at and having a soundtrack by Damon Albarn is no small beer either. But its the heart and the humour of the film that keep me coming back to it over and over again.

Kevin Spacey excels as the cocky ordinary decent criminal thumbing his nose at the gaurde, the courts, the IRA and the media. The heists are all pretty generic (stealing some gold bars and a painting), but they are carried off in a hilarious fashion. The cat and mouse between the cops and the robbers is entertaining and I particularly like the shift at the middle of the film as the guarde start to pile the pressure on Spacey's band of robbers in an entertaining way, rather than simply being the subject of his pranks.

This is an overlooked gem often available online for a couple of quid and well worth anyones time.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Red Dwarf - Back to Earth

Well I've seen them all and a rather mixed back they were. The first episode was clearly the best being a throwback to the earliest days of the show. The second was pants, the third was a reasonable recovery from the whole that the second episode had dug. It does have to be said that the writer has clearly run out of ideas as the show has become totally dependent on the "alternate reality" storyline and since series 6 the show has also been busily recycling its own continuity on an endless basis in place of coming up with anything new. It was however cool that they kept the return of Chloe Annette out of the publicity and I kinda wish they had ended the show altogether with Lister choosing to stay in his fantasy world with Kochanski. Aside from this my other concern is the same one as applied to seasons 7 and 8, the show just isn't funny enough anymore. I'm kinda reminded of the latter era Carry On films where you have to watch them in the right frame of mind to enjoy them. Its been the same with Red Dwarf since season 7, you have to meet the jokes halfway to enjoy the show. The ten year (or so) gap since the last series makes it easier to do this because there is the goodwill of nostalgia and the free pass of seeing the cast together again (and really Chris Barrie being a comedy god), but I think it might be time for one final show to get the crew back to Earth, Lister with Kochanski and Rimmer in charge of something trivial!

Phil Spector

Well its nice to see that Side Show Bob impersonator and all round crazy misogynist Phil Spector has finally been convicted. The man has been nuts for years as Lennon's story about "the watergate tapes" attests.

John Lennon on Phil Spector, Rock N Roll and "The John Dean Tapes" (Sound Only):

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Planet of the Dead

Well that was a huge step up from the mediocrity of The Next Doctor. A really fun romp and not afflicted with the over-ambitiousness of some recent "event" episodes.

What I Liked:

Good solid storyline, reminiscent of a lot of DWM strips without actually nicking anything as such. It wasn't to busy, nor did it struggle to fill out its running time.

The fly-guys got killed at the end. Good.

The "baddies" simply following their natural life cycle. Actually a really good SF type problem.

10 Malcolms = a Bernard Quatermass!

The Doctor being a UNIT celeb/legend type never gets old. The New UNIT theme was pretty good.

A flying bus. Beat that Harry Potter!

Knowing right from the start the cop was gonna get screwed in the end, because thats what happened in Hustle twice this year!

The whole running gag with the alien power source getting the bus to work.

The Doctor whacking the grail thingy with the mallet.

Lee Evans not getting on my tits.

The Doctor refusing to take Lady whatshername on board the TARDIS. The way the scene was shot in particular was cool, being reminscent of the publicity shots for the Paul McGann TV movie and with David somehow giving the impression of the Doctors centuries weighing heavily on him (which in turn conjured up images of Hartnell in mine).

The Doctor using the Sonic screwdriver to release Lady whatsshername and indeed to give himself sunglasses.

The foreshadowing (see below).

What I wasn't so keen on:

Lady whatshername. Decent enough character, but I've never been sold on Michelle Ryan as an actress and I wasn't sold on her here either. Also something of a cobling together of Romana and Cat (the 7th Doctor Companion who was planned to replace Ace in the season 27 that never was).

The new face of Unit. Didn't buy her in Turn Left, don't buy her here either. They really need to decide what they are going to do with UNIT because they keep swining from Brigs Army to regular army/intelligence and its not working with the leads they are using. I know nick courtneys too old now, so maybe go with Bambera if you want to retain an element of the Brig's army days.

The Doctor doing another mundane = brilliant speech. Fucking Hell big upping chops for tea is not what I watch Doctor Who for!


The Doctor wanting to keep his teeth in good condition. One of the lightest and silliest bits of foreshadowing on anything ever!

The trailer was mondo cool. But I will be severely pissed if the episode does not feature the Ice Warriors (unless it is exceptionally good despite their absence).

Four knocks = HERE COME THE DRUMS! Da-Da-Da-DAH!


Red Dwarf was just so far up its own arse as to be a self parody. I can only hope its a case of being a weak middle episode as last nights epsiode had real promise. But given the stupid meta-textual storyline and the prospect of tomorrows episode being Corrie-based; I fear it will all end in another tedious cliffhanger that will not be resolved for years. I can remember a time (specifically back in season 6) when Red Dwarf ruled BBC2 and had some serious credibility. All pissed away of Doug Naylors fantasy of a movie version.