REVIEW: Doctor Who S11E06 – “Demons of the Punjab”

1We’re past the halfway mark of series 11 of Doctor Who. We’ve had adventures in the present, the future, the past, the present (again), the future (again), and now it’s time for another historical episode. This time, we go back in time to 1947 India where Yaz (Mandip Gill) is seeking some information about some of her grandmother’s secrets.

Epiode 1106: Demons of the Punjab (written by Vinay Patel and directed by Jamie Childs)
India, 1947. The Doctor and her friends arrive in the Punjab, as India is being torn apart. While Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history, the Doctor discovers demons haunting the land. Who are they, and what do they want?

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Review: “Doctor Who: The Good Doctor” by Juno Dawson

912z0swceqlWith every new season of Doctor Who comes a new set of tie-in novels featuring the current Doctor. As season 11, the first season to feature Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, just recently premiered, it’s time for the tie-in books to be released. The first of these, The Good Doctor, was released October 26 and was written by the New-to-Who author, Juno Dawson. It’s a novel that explores the impact the Doctor’s visits can have on a world and how religions might spring forth from them. It’s a pretty darn good book.

For a Good Doctor there’s only one rule: first do no harm.

On the planet of Lobos, the Doctor halts a violent war between the native Loba and human colonists. Job done, the TARDIS crew departs – only for Ryan to discover he’s left his phone behind. Again.

Upon returning, the Doctor finds that the TARDIS has slipped hundreds of years into the future – and that something has gone badly wrong. The Loba are now slaves, serving human zealots who worship a godlike figure known as The Good Doctor.

It’s time for the Doctor to face up to the consequences of her last visit. With Lobos on the brink of catastrophe, will she be able to make things right?

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Review: Doctor Who S11E05 – “The Tsuranga Conundrum”

1Doctor Who is a big fan of the base-under-siege story and it’s a format that generally works for the show. Trap all of your characters in one location and have them being hunted by a monster. It’s a pretty easy way at building tension and it often leads to a lot of interesting character moments as the main cast and the guest cast try to deal with whatever the threat is. The Tsuranga Conundrum is one such story. The major problem is that the monster terrorizing said base-under-siege isn’t particularly threatening. (Spoilers for The Tsuranga Conundrum)

Episode 1105: The Tsuranga Conundrum (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jennifer Perrott)
Injured and stranded in the wilds of a far-flung galaxy, the Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan must band together with a group of strangers to survive against one of the universe’s most deadly – and unusual – creatures.

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REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody

mv5bndg2njixmduynf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzeznte1ntm-_v1_sy1000_cr006291000_al_I adore Queen. I’ve loved them since I first discovered them in middle school and I adore them to this day. They were a band that, in many ways, was ahead of its time. While all of them brought different strengths to the table, I think it’s fair to say that the band is most remembered for the vocal talents of its late lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Freddie had a voice that has yet to be topped and had a personality that was as large as his vocal range. But he was also a very private man and kept much from the limelight. It was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about him and about his time in Queen and that’s exactly what Bohemian Rhapsody is. While it’s more about Queen than about Freddie, Bohemian Rhapsody, written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Bryan Singer (with Dexter Fletcher completing the film after the firing of Singer), tells the story of Freddie and Queen, from their beginnings in the early 1970s through their monumental performance at Live Aid in 1985. It’s an enjoyable film, though one that never really explores its subject as deeply as you’d like it to.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound. They reach unparalleled success, but in an unexpected turn Freddie, surrounded by darker influences, shuns Queen in pursuit of his solo career. Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie manages to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid. While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. Queen cements a legacy that continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day.

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The Good Place Desperately Needs to Return to the Afterlife or it Risks Losing a Big Part of What Made it Special

The Good Place - Season 3When The Good Place first premiered on our TV screens, we were introduced to a whole cast of characters who were dead and had awoken in the titular Good Place, an afterlife loosely based on the concept of heaven. As the series progressed, we found out that only four of them had ever been humans and they were actually in the Bad Place, being tortured for all eternity by demons, led by Michael (Ted Danson). From there, things only got stranger until the show decided to resurrect our main cast and give them a new chance at life. And this is where things started to go wrong. While giving your main characters a second shot at life as a way for them to actually earn their place in the Good Place isn’t a bad idea, it’s not one that can really be sustained for a long period of time when a huge part of your show has built itself on the whimsical weirdness of the afterlife. Take out a lot of that whimsical weirdness and you just have… any other comedic show with a cast of likable characters trying to do good things. That’s the problem The Good Place has found itself in these last few episodes and it’s one the show and its writers are gonna have to fix asap before the show stops feeling as special as it is. (This review/editorial covers episodes 4-6 of season 3: Jeremey Bearimy, The Ballad of Donkey Doug, and A Fractured Inheritance) 

Episode 304: Jeremy Bearimy (written by Megan Amram and directed by Trent O’Donnell)
The group explores the three main branches of ethical thought.

Episode 305: The Ballad of Donkey Doug (written by Matt Murray and directed by Rebecca Asher)
Jason (Manny Jacinto) visits with some people from his past while Chidi (William Jackson Harper) gets help in resolving a problem.

Episode 306: A Fractured Inheritance (written by Kassia Miller and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) makes a startling discovery that tests her resolve, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) looks to make amends and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) does some bonding.

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REVIEW: “Alice Isn’t Dead: A Novel” by Joseph Fink

coverI’ve been a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, the podcast cocreated by Joseph Fink – author of this novel, Alice Isn’t Dead – and Jeffrey Cranor since around about 2013. It’s a lovely little podcast that perfectly mixes together a whole bunch of genres into its own little piece of brilliance. When it was announced that Fink and Cranor would launch an entire podcasting network, named “Night Vale Presents”, with a brand new podcast written by Joseph Fink, I was immediately interested. And then… I never got around to listening to it. It had a cool premise and seemed really intriguing and spooky, but I just never quite found the time. Then, it was announced earlier this year that Joseph Fink was going to turn that podcast, Alice Isn’t Dead, into a book that, essentially, told the same story as the podcast and I figured I’d just wait for the book to come out and experience the story in that medium. Months passed and I’ve now read the book and, I gotta tell ya, it’s really, really good.

From the New York Times bestselling co-author of It Devours! and Welcome to Night Vale comes a fast-paced thriller about a truck driver searching across America for the wife she had long assumed to be dead.

“This isn’t a story. It’s a road trip.”

Keisha Taylor lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country.

Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job with a trucking company, Bay and Creek Transportation, and begins searching for Alice. She eventually stumbles on an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system—uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.

Why did Alice disappear? What does she have to do with this secret war between inhuman killers? Why did the chicken cross the road? These questions, and many more will be answered in Alice Isn’t Dead.

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Review: Doctor Who S11E04 – ‘Arachnids in the UK”

5“Spiders! Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be ‘follow the butterflies’?” – Ron Weasley (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling)
Doctor Who has featured stories about spiders before, but none quite as disturbing as the ones in this episode. Perhaps it’s because the last story that properly featured giant spiders had a hilariously tiny budget and so the giant spiders were clearly made of rubber, but good sweet Lord, the spiders in this episode are actually terrifying to behold and I hate them. It’s a relatively good episode, though. (Spoilers follow)

Episode 1104: Arachnids in the UK (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Sallie Aprahamian)
‘Something’s happening with the spiders in this city.’ The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) find their way back to Yorkshire – and Yaz’s family – only to find something is stirring amidst the eight-legged arachnid population of Sheffield.

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REVIEW: Doctor Who S11E03 – “Rosa”

rosa and kraskoEvery new Doctor has to have a story set in the present day, a story set in the future/on an alien planet, and a story set in the past to start off their first season. We’ve had the present day story and we’ve had the futuristic/alien planet story, so it was time for our first trip into the past with this new TARDIS team. And where does the TARDIS end up taking our plucky heroes? None other than Montgomery Alabama, 1955. The day before Rosa Parks’ famous bus protest. Obviously, this is a rather touchy story for Doctor Who to try and tackle, so the biggest question is whether or not the show handled it well. In short: it absolutely did. (NOTE: There will be full spoilers ahead, so read with caution.)

Episode 1103: Rosa (written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall and directed by Mark Tonderai)
Montgomery, Alabama. 1955. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her friends find themselves in the Deep South of America. As they encounter a seamstress by the name of Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson), they begin to wonder whether someone is attempting to change history.

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REVIEW: Doctor Who S11E02 – “The Ghost Monument”

Doctor Who Series 11How do you follow up from an excellent season premiere of Doctor Who? With a dangerous romp across an alien planet and an excellent mystery, of course! Picking up pretty much where the previous episode ended, The Ghost Monument takes the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her new friends, Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gill) to their first alien world together. Stranded without the TARDIS, will the team be able to survive their first foray on an alien planet? (THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW)

1102: The Ghost Monument (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Mark Tonderai)
Still reeling from their first encounter, can the Doctor and her new friends stay alive long enough in a hostile alien environment to solve the mystery of Desolation? And just who are Angstrom (Susan Lynch) and Epzo (Shaun Dooley)?

The Doctor and her new friends have barely had a chance to recover from their first adventure together before they are plunged into another – which will take Graham, Ryan and Yasmin on their first journey to an alien planet. The unlikely travelling companions are faced with a struggle for survival as they try to solve the mystery at the heart of this strange, dangerous new world.

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REVIEW: “The Good Place” S03E03 – The Snowplow

The Good Place - Season 3I really love how the writers of The Good Place don’t dawdle with this series. They never drag their feet when it comes to moving the story along. Last season featured Michael rebooting the neighborhood over 800 times in a single episode. Tonight’s episode featured a similar thing as more than a year passes within a single 22-minute episode, rapidly advancing the plotline of the season while also showing the continuing evolution of our favorite awful humans.

Episode 304: The Snowplow (Written by Joe Mande and Directed by Beth McCarthy Miller)
After the shocking events of last week’s episode, Michael and Janet are, essentially, trapped on Earth as they continue to supervise Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) as the four of them continue to try and improve upon themselves. As a year goes by, Chidi’s thesis project comes to a close and Tahani gets engaged to Larry Hemsworth, Michael and Janet start to fear that all their work has come to naught and frantically try to keep the group from going their separate ways.

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