Otherwise known as the episode with the ending that split the Who fanbase clean down the middle. Spoilers follow, obviously.
Episode four of Capaldi Who (as it shall henceforth be known) managed to be a better horror movie than most modern horror movies. The premise; that we are never truly alone, and that there’s always something hiding in the corner of your eye, is actually taken from a short Doctor Who story written by Moffat a few years back. Unlike that story however, the beastie of the week is left much more to our imagination (to the point that there very well may never have been a monster for the entire episode).
It’s this last reveal that will inevitably disappoint some. Many of us will no doubt have been on the edge of our seats waiting for the jump scare reveal of some ugly space nasty from the end of time, so it’s understandable that some may feel shortchanged by the final reel rug pull – that there was probably never anything there. Of course, no one ever explicitly said there was nothing there (after all, who moved The Doctor’s chalk?).
And naturally, we should get the big divisive “thing” out of the way first. The “thing” in question of course being the scene with a young (like, small kid young) Doctor. Fans who aren’t steeped in 50 years of Who lore might not know that this was in fact one of very, very few glimpses of The Doctor as a kid (possibly the second ever, but I could be wrong).
For some, this spoils the mystery of The Doctor’s character somewhat. Personally, I thought it was done subtly enough, and was a nice tough. It also seems a few people were ruffled by the fact that once again, Clara turns out to have had a seismic impact on his life. It should however, be pointed out that she only told him not to be scared, whereas a lot of people are acting like she wrote “BE THE DOCTOR” in neon lights over his bed. Like I said, it’s a divisive moment. At the end of the day, we got to see a glimpse of a young William Hartnell Doctor, and that’s awesome.
The first thirty minutes or so are terrifying enough to make most parents seriously consider showing it to their kids. The scene in Pink’s bedroom is properly unsettling, and one can’t help but wonder if Moffat decided at the last minute to write in that there was never anything there, just because he realised he might have gone a little too far.
For the most part however, there was a lot to like about this episode. It was brilliantly directed, it was suitably creepy, and it all looked amazing. I probably don’t need to tell you that Peter Capaldi continues to find ways to impress as The Doctor, be he comforting a small child or stealing coffee, he exudes a kind of rude charm. Jenna Coleman also continues to enjoy the transformation of Clara from Plot Device to actual character, and she’s all the better for it.
The date scenes helped elevate the episodes more somber moments, and showed us a little more of Danny (or Rupert) Pink (who is still brilliant). Although, the number of companions the Doctor has accidentally met when they were children is now getting slightly ridiculous. Evidently, Steven Moffat reaaaaallly likes that idea.
This is perhaps, the first episode of Capaldi Who where the 12th Doctor has felt right at home. Dark, brooding, and very scary, with enough laughs to keep us happy. This is the kind of Doctor Who most of us have been expecting from the trailers, and this is the kind of Doctor Who that I for one, want much, much more of.
Don’t look in that mirror, it’s furious.
There’s one question that needs to be gotten out of the way first of all, and it’s a question no one should ever have actually asked. Is Peter Capaldi any good as the 12th Doctor? Of course he is. He’s Peter f***king Capaldi. Let’s move on.
Actually, let’s not. That wouldn’t make for a very detailed review. Let’s talk about how he handles the lighter, funny moments with a wide eyed charm that puts Tom Baker and David Tennant to shame. Let’s talk about how when you’re watching him ride through foggy London town on a horse in his nightgown, you forget that he’s a man in his mid 50s, and absolutely believe he was Matt Smith a few hours ago. Let’s talk about how Capaldi, with his attack eyebrows and frown lines has created a Doctor who has the potential to be the darkest and most unsettling yet, going by the unclear way things ended in this episode.
So Capaldi is the tits. We knew that though. The episode itself is pretty great too, with echoes of Robot, Tom Bakers first outing as the Doctor. To help ease us in to perhaps the most radical change in time lords yet, we’re given the ever reliable Jenny, Vastra and Strax to fall back on for comfort. They seem to show up at the times when we’re wondering if this is really The Doctor, to remind us that yes, it is. They’re also immensely entertaining and likeable, as always, with Strax knocking Clara out with a copy of the Times being a highlight (I really want a spinoff).
The story begins as it means to go on, with a T Rex spitting out the TARDIS. These deranged, yet beautiful visuals continue, as the same dinosaur lights up London as she spontaneously combusts, half faced men lurk in the lamplight, and restaurants take flight over the city as balloons pop out of the roof. It’s like a steampunk UP, with more human skin and organ harvesting, and less rubber balloons and talking dogs.
The monster of the week in fact, is probably this episodes only weak link. It’s basically cut and paste from a previous Tennant story, and vague allusions from The Doctor to the fact that he swears he’s seen all this somewhere before doesn’t excuse the fact Moffat’s basically just self plagiarised.
Probably the highlight of the entire episode, maybe more so than The Doctor himself, is Jenna Coleman’s Clara. Here, she gets more character development in one hour than she had in a year. The fact Clara was a companion for half a season and two specials, and we’ve only just now seen her angry, is a testament to the woeful character development she suffered in season 7. The scene in the restaurant with her and The Doctor (their first proper scene alone together where no one’s fainting or crashing) is a joy to watch. This could be the best Doctor/companion pairing since Ten and Rose, and we can only hope the rumours of Coleman’s departure are untrue, because she could be one of the greats.
So that’s that… Deep Breath has begun easing us in to what looks to be a much slower, considered, and meatier Doctor Who than what we’ve had for the past few years. With a brilliant, angry, (Scottish!) new Doctor and a fantastic companion rife with unexplored potential at the helm, it’s safe to assume it’s gonna be a whopper.
Dig those new titles too. Very timey. Such wimey.
It’s been said a thousand times before and it’ll be said a thousand times again; Spider-Man’s most enduring quality stems from his alter ego, Peter Parker. For most of us, it’s hard to imagine ourselves as millionaire playboys with suits of hi tech armor or batmobiles and we can’t really see ourselves as Kryptonian gods or super soldiers from World War II
Peter Parker is the everyman. Long before most other comic books, Spider Man gave equal attention to the troubles of the man behind the mask. We’d see spidey fight the Vulture and then deal with the fallout in his personal life as he missed a date or his aunt fell sick (for the hundredth time). In short, we love Spidey because we know that feel.
This is important, because no matter what your opinion, you can’t deny that The Amazing Spider Man 2 is the most spidery Spider Man film yet. What I mean to say is, this film absolutely nails the essence of Spider Man. While it may (ever so slightly) suffer from one villain too many, for better or worse it shows us Peter’s hectic world as he tries to balance his two lives, a job, an on/off girlfriend, college, the mystery of his parents, and a whole three supervillains. It’s still better than Spider Man 3.
While the overstuffed plot can occasionally feel like it’s simply setting up future sequels and spin offs (almost every supporting character we see eventually turns out to be a villain in the comics, such as Alistair Smythe and Felicia Hardy) it absolutely manages to be an entertaining flick in its own right. It’s no Dark Knight, but it doesn’t need to be. Like Spider Man himself, it’s larger than life, colorful, and fun.
Perhaps most importantly, they made Spider Man funny. Finally. From the pitch perfect (and massively entertaining) opening chase sequence right into some of the darker moments our webbed amigo still cracks wise, because that’s what he does and that’s how he deals. While the first Amazing showed us a glimpse of this, number 2 goes even further with it and given some of the events later in the film, his sense of humour goes a long way in telling viewers about Peter Parker’s strength of spirit and adversity in the face of mechanical rhinos and weird Goblin dudes.
In the hands of a lesser actor, this confident, smartarse Spidey may have come across as an annoying dick, but Andrew Garfield, having grown up a fan himself delivers the definitive Spider Man with a pitch perfect sense of drama, humor, and physical comedy that never feels over the top. Together with Emma Stone (still an awesome Gwen Stacy) they make every scene they share so adorable you either want to hug the screen or throw up, depending on how cynical you are.
Sadly, it’s the villains that bring the film down ever so slightly. Dane Dehaan’s Harry Osborn is just the right amount of spoilt playboy and simmering crazy person, but when he does finally snap it somehow becomes a bit too much, a little cartoony. It doesn’t help that compared to Spider Man’s all new, so beautifully faithful to the source material I want to cry suit, The Green Goblin still doesn’t really resemble the Green Goblin. Besides being green I mean.
Conversely, Jamie Foxx’s pre Electro performance is so over the top, Jim Carrey, haha this is what boffins are like, that I found myself glad when he fell into a pool of eels and decided to not talk as much. Visually however, Electro is stunning and his fight scenes with Spider Man are easily some of the films highlights, including an awesome Times Square showdown that almost outdoes the final setpiece (actually I think it probably does.
What’s most annoying about the villains though, is that they both feel crammed in to the point that neither gets a satisfying arc. Again, it’s clear things are being set in motion for the future but as a standalone film in this respect it left me cold.
Those niggles aside, I truly believe that this is the best Spider Man film yet. Funny, heartwarming, and with enough set pieces to satisfy the kids who just wanna see Spidey punch the shiny blue guy. Without the need to retell the origin story, we’ve been offered our first pure glimpse at the start of a new Spidey universe. If this film is anything to go by, it could go absolutely anywhere.
Superheroes are cool. See, it’s a common misconception that comic books and adults in capes and spandex is in some way strange or unusual and should therefore be shunned or avoided at all costs. All you need to do these days is take a trip to the cinema to see how many of the upcoming blockbusters happen to star a super solider or a wall crawler to get conclusive proof that: Superheroes are cool.
So, with that in mind (and considering the fact that I haven’t written a post since before Christmas) here is a list of what I consider to be the tip of the top of superhero video games. It won’t be too hard, because a lot of them are absolute piles of crap *cough* Superman 64 *cough*.
(Oh, just to be clear, you won’t be seeing Arkham City or Asylum on this list because frankly, they’ve been praised enough and it seems an obvious choice)
LEGO Marvel Superheroes (Wii U, Xbox One, PS4)
I’ve always loved LEGO games. Seriously, it appeals to the obsessive compulsive desires in me to collect and 100% every game I play. LEGO games feels so much rewarding because they tend to have a hefty stack of secrets and collectibles.
LEGO Marvel is no exception. The biggest LEGO game yet does not skimp on the fan service, letting you fly or drive or web swing through a fully realized New York as one of around 200 Marvel characters ranging from Spider Man and Iron Man to the more obscure, like Howard the Duck.
Essentially, what any fan wants from a superhero game is to feel connected to that world that they love so much. LEGO Marvel comes remarkably close, from taking down Sentinels in Central Park to just jumping of the top of the Empire State Building for laughs, it’s sense of immersion and fun is unparalleled for any other Marvel game so far.
Batman Vengeance (PS2, Gamecube)
I have a feeling most people who’ve played this will disagree with me. I’ll admit that Vengeance has some glaring flaws; combat is absolutely atrocious, cycling through gadgets can become fiddly and confusing and simple jumps can become needlessly difficult.
However, this game was based on the world of Batman: The Animated Series. You know the one. The best cartoon ever to have existed in this or any other universe. It had a genuinely engaging and exciting story and made an effort to change up game play by having sequences in the Bat mobile and the Batplane.
It also featured the voice work of the inimitable Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and The Joker, long before Arkham reared its head. That’s worth the ticket price alone.
Spider Man 2 (Gamecube, Xbox, PS2)
I doubt there are many people who can say a bad word about this one. Pretty much the first open world superhero game and it nailed it on the first time out.
Spider Man fan or not, swinging through a fully working New York (gobby pedestrians and all) at top speeds and taking out bad guys or jumping into car chases was all kinds of awesome.
Sure, it had some shitty indoor levels, but the combat was cool, dodging bullets with your Spider sense made you feel like a PRINCE among men and most importantly, you could tie thugs to lamp posts upside down and beat on ’em for as long as you wanted. God bless you, Spider Man 2.
Spider Man (PS1, N64)
The first video game I remember absolutely loving. I have nothing but awesome memories of this video game. It was funny, it was challenging, it was packed full of secrets, cameos (Daredevil, bitches) power ups (FLAME WEBBING) collectibles, alternate costumes (Scarlet Spider was awesome) and cool references (On one level, you could find the Baxter Building and prompt a cutscene with the Human Torch) and it was stuffed to the brim with everyone’s favorite villains.
The boss fights were always interesting and always had a twist. The level designs always provided an ample mix of platform, puzzle combat and stealth. Above all though, the game was funny. It just felt like a Spider Man adventure, just absolutely over the top and batshit crazy, but it knew it was stupid and reveled in that stupidity.
It’s also important to remember that the last boss was the Carnage symbiote merged with Doc Ock, and when you’re seven years old that is literally the coolest shit ever (even if it did used to scare the bejeebus out of me).
Also; FLAME WEBBING.
Spoiler alert, but at the end of the Time of the Doctor Matt Smith actually regenerates into Peter Capaldi. I know, they kept that one quiet.
It was a well acted, heart destroying scene that managed to draw on elements from The 11th Doctor’s entire run but never felt drawn out or overplayed in a way that David Tennant’s final moments were (controversial).
It got me thinking about The Doctor’s other regeneration scenes, since thanks to Day of the Doctor, we’ve now got ’em all. There have been some dodgy ones, and some pretty disappointing ones. As you may have guessed from the title though, these are what I reckon are his best ones.
Peter Davison to Colin Baker (Caves of Androzani)
Okay, so it may have heralded in the beginning of Doctor Who’s decline into not very goodness (through no fault of Colin Baker) but this is a strong, emotional scene that tops off one of classic Who’s best stories.
While it has it’s problems, such as Davison’s great death bed acting being somewhat overshadowed by Nicola Byrant’s cleavage (or is that a problem? Depends who you ask) or the kind of cheesy spectral return of his past companions (God, who does that these days?), Davison and Byrant still deliver an incredibly strong, quite unsettling scene.
It gets even better when you realise that The Doctor was actually holding off his regeneration for pretty much the entire story, just so he could get shit done. Say what you will about The 5th Doctor, but he was a stone cold badass.
William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton (The Tenth Planet)
Granted, The Doctor doesn’t bow out for the most heroic of reasons (old age) but the first regeneration of the series deserves a spot on this list because the ingenious idea of The Doctor being able to change his face has ensured that Doctor Who can still be going strong fifty years on.
It’s done remarkably well for the time too, with Hartnell glowing a milky white and seamlessly becoming Troughton. You seriously barely notice it happen. You’ve got to wonder what the hell viewers thought was going on at the time.
Christopher Eccleston to David Tennant (The Parting of the Ways)
The first regeneration of New Who must have been as much of a shock to younger viewers as The Tenth Planet was for everyone else.
Eccleston delivers a brilliant speech while Rose looks on, absolutely terrified. Here, regeneration is clearly quite sad, but still cause for optimism, as it should be since no one is actually dying.
And no longer does The Doctor konk out on the floor in a slightly feeble manner. For the first time, he throws his arms up and explodes with energy, which is much, much cooler (and also allows for Matt Smith to destroy an entire fleet of Daleks).
Paul McGann to John Hurt (Night of The Doctor)
YES. Just because we thought we’d never see the day, this regeneration gets a place on the list. What does this regeneration scene get done?
Well, it lets McGann showcase his fantastic range as The Doctor (rage, acceptance, flippancy), it gives us more time with PAUL MCGAN AS THE DOCTOR and perhaps most importantly of all, it makes his Big Finish audio adventures unarguably canon.
Paul McGann though guys, amiright?
Jon Pertwee to Tom Baker (Planet of the Spiders)
So even though the regeneration effect itself is a little rubbish, and the hovering monk man of exposition land always terrified me on a personal level, this scene has Lis Sladen and Jon Pertwee absolutely acting their hearts out (while The Brigadier watches on vaguely bored by the proceedings).
Fun fact; this is the first time the process is actually called Regeneration. There, we’ve all learnt something and I can’t think of anything else to say.
Well, a big shout out to Steven Moffat for turning me into a crippled emotional husk on Christmas day. As a longtime fan, I’ve always loved regeneration stories. I know the show is all about change (how else would it have made it to 50 years?) and I’m pretty much always ready to see a new Doctor take over and move things forward.
Matt Smith was The Doctor. Without a doubt, from the moment his head popped out of the TARDIS asking a young girl for an apple he has continued to absolutely own the role without faltering. Kind, funny, great dress sense, a pro at physical comedy (he could make walking through a door fascinating viewing) and above all, he had a great rapport with kids.
He was definitely the kids’ Doctor, and please don’t read into that as a dig or a downgrade, because kids are the hardest buggers to please. Capaldi is going to have a serious job winning the nippers over after Matt’s big brother act.
The episode itself tied up issues that have been plaguing me since the end of series 5. Seriously, I thought we’d never find out who blew up the TARDIS. And it turns out Gallifrey is knocking around behind the crack in the wall, back in 2010 I’d never had guessed that. Sadly, a lot of the exposition felt a little rushed and The Christmas element really did feel shoehorned in. Just be bold and ignore the fact it’s Christmas day. No one will care, because Doctor Who is on an that’s enough.
Still, the scenes with Clara’s family were sweet (and no sign of those bloody kids) and watching The Doctor pretend to be her boyfriend really made me realise how much unused potential the pair have.
There were, fittingly for 11’s last stand, a horde of aliens and nasties from all over. Some of them didn’t get much to do (like The Weeping Angels) and anytime The Daleks are involved it’s pretty much a given that they’re coming out on top. But it wasn’t about them, it was about Smith and all they needed to do was provide a fitting backdrop to his swansong.
The idea of The Doctor sticking around for centuries to protect a small town is nice. I’m glad the TARDIS was out of the equation for the first few centuries though, or I’d never believe in a million years that he would’ve stayed. 11 essentially got to enjoy some kind of retirement, even if he did have to fight off the odd wooden cyberman every now and then.
And then the end. Bloody hell. A rule that has been hampering Doctor Who is finally bloody gone. The Doctor can now regenerate another 13 times, so every Tabloid writer or smug so and so that comes up to me gleefully informing me that “Doctor Who has to end soon” can go into hibernation for at least another half century.
Matt Smith doesn’t go lying down, or in a self referential drawn out mess of goodbyes (cough, Tennant, cough). He explodes with energy, taking out as many Daleks with him as he can (and it’s a lot).
While it would have been nice for Clara to come running into the TARDIS, only to find a new man, it’s only fitting that Matt gets a proper goodybe. Young, as we remember him. What a doozy it is too, anyone that wasn’t a blubbering husk by the time the bow tie is on the floor, or by the time that cameo came about is a cold hearted fiend.
Then, without warning, or a glow of light, 11 is gone. It’s as if Matt sneezed himself into Capaldi. In thirty seconds I was already convinced by him, although conflicted. Because, to paraphrase the eleventh Doctor’s final words; I will always remember when The Doctor was Matt Smith.
50 years ago, William Hartnell, Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman and others perhaps unknowingly unleashed so much more than just a television program. They let loose a cultural icon, a legend, a modern fairy tale that has spanned decades and captured the hearts and minds of many generations of fans.
Day of the Doctor is a piece of television that has been fifty years in the making, make no mistake. Possibly the most anticipated and hyped piece of television ever, the all important question is, did it deliver?
Thankfully, God yes. Day of the Doctor was thrilling, funny, heartbreaking, scary and exciting. It was nostalgic without dwelling on the past and forward thinking without alienating the long time fans. If anyone else could come up with a better story for the 50th, I’d genuinely like to see it.
The story was a fairly typical Steven Moffat timey wimey affair. The three Doctors all had their own separate adventures which tied in together beautifully.
Matt Smith’s started with a fantastic reference to Totters Lane and Coal Hill, two key locations in Who lore and quickly delved into an adventure with mysterious paintings and UNIT. It was only right to reference such an important group in the 50th and The Brigadiers daughter afforded the next best thing to the great Nick Courtney himself. She’s also a fantastic character in her own right, which helps.
David Tennant’s return was a thing of absolute joy as we finally saw what happened with Queen Liz and got a mini adventure with The Zygons (who looked fantastic). Seeing Ten interact with Eleven was hilarious, as The Tenth Doctor, with all his swagger looks disdainfully at the flappy awkward clumsiness of The Eleventh.
And then there’s John Hurt, who finishes off the trinity of Doctors for this episode. His war Doctor was played artfully, a vague menace lurking underneath those tired eyes and a weariness, yet still with that mad Doctor spark. Finally seeing The Time War playing out was a dream. Daleks killing and exploding all over the shop in such excess and on such scale was brilliant.
Throwing Hurt into the mix with Tennant and Smith made for some fantastic scenes. Hurt obviously representing the old guard as he questioned much of what the two young Doctors did. Hurt disgustedly asking, “Timey Wimey?” to Tennant’s sly “I don’t know where he got that from” was a particular highlight.
Then we had the game changing ending, a fanboy baiting sequence in which twelve (or was it thirteen?) TARDISes blitzed through a Dalek fleet to save Gallifrey. See? The classic Doctors were in there after all (kind of). And Gallifrey falls no more? A brilliant move. Seeing the Doctor finally find a way to move on with the whole Last of the Time lords schtick is refreshing and should make for an interesting ark in the next series.
Finally, it would be remiss of me to end this review without mentioning (but not in detail) two masterfully subtle cameo appearances. One of which looks firmly and excitingly to the future while the other was a beautifully done nod to the past.
After 50 years, The Doctor has finally stopped running and is genuinely out there to find something. Day of the Doctor was nothing short of a perfectly balanced, thrilling adventure that seamlessly sets up the future of the show while paying tribute to the past. Here’s to another 50.
Paul McGann though guys. Am I right? AMIRIGHT? I am. Sadly this ill fated feature length pilot was the 8th Doctors only proper TV outing and it was unfortunately, not very good.
McGann is fantastic in this, make no mistake. He was flirty and funny and mad and had all the makings of a great Doctor. He was also forced to work with what someone who never watched Doctor Who thought a Doctor should look like. The result was a step up from the question marks and bright colors of the 80s costumes, but still a little silly for 1996.
A lot of the problems people had with it at the time are admittedly, not real an issue with the hindsight of the modern series. Kissing a companion? He does that every other episode these days. Riding a motorbike? The Doctor rode one up a building just last series.
This doesn’t make up for the fact that it’s riddled with problems though. In an odd attempt to make it gritty we have The Doctor being gunned down by a street gang and The Master breaking a woman’s neck. Needlessly violent, quite frankly. The way The Master is handled is another issue.
Why is he able to turn into a living pile of goo? We may never know. Why do The Daleks of all things, accept requests all of a sudden? No idea. Why, why, for the love of God why is The Doctor half human? We’re probably better off not knowing.
Thankfully, Paul McGann has been afforded a chance to prove himself with a superb range of audio stories and more recently with his surprise appearance in The Night of the Doctor. Still, it just makes one wonder… what might have been if the 8th Doctor got his own series and Doctor Who stormed the 90s?