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A Tale of Three ‘Shada’s (Doctor Who – “Shada” review)

A Tale of Three ShadasShada. The long lost adventure from famed sci-fi writer Douglas Adams. Over the years since its aborted filming, the adventure has undergone no less than three separate adaptations. The question is: which Shada is the ultimate Shada? With the release of another version of the story, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure that out, so let’s break it down in a Tale of Three ‘Shada’s. Originally written by famed author – and one-time Doctor Who script editor – Douglas Adams, Shada follows the Doctor and Romana, his Time Lady companion, as they investigate a mysterious summons from an old friend of the Doctor, Cambridge Professor Chronotis, and work to thwart the plans of the evil Skagra – a man seeking the Professor, and a book he possesses, for his own evil ends. Their adventure will take them from 1970s Earth to a mysterious Time Lord prison planet that nobody can remember: Shada. Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada. For this review, we’re gonna be looking at three particular adaptations of Shada: the 2003 BBC-i/Big Finish Productions webcast/audio adaptation, the 2012 novelization (by Gareth Roberts), and the 2017 BBC animated reconstruction.  (more…)

Goodbye, Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who – “Twice Upon a Time” REVIEW)

6As must always happen, another Doctor’s time has come to a close. This time we must say goodbye to Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor. Not only is this Capaldi’s swan song, but it’s also showrunner Steven Moffat’s final episode. For Doctor Who fans, the regeneration episode is always a bag of mixed emotions. It’s sad to see a beloved Doctor leave, but it’s exciting to get a glimpse of the new one and all the surprises that await us in the episodes ahead. In Twice Upon a Time (written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay), the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) teams up with his former self, the First Doctor (David Bradley) and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), for one last adventure. Two Doctors stranded in an Arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. Enchanted glass people, stealing their victims from frozen time. And a World War One captain destined to die on the battlefield, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor s story. An uplifting new tale about the power of hope in humanity s darkest hours, Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era. But as the Doctor must face his past to decide his future, his journey is only just beginning… The 60-minute special guest stars Mark Gatiss as The Captain and Nikki Amuka-Bird as the voice of the glass woman, and will see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor regenerate into the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker). (Mild spoilers ahead)  (more…)

History is More Magical Than You Think (“Harry Potter: A History of Magic book/BBC Documentary REVIEW) 

Harry-Potter-A-History-of-Magic-CoverI’m only a month late in talking about this, but what’s a month or two between friends? Two books, a BBC Two documentary, and an entire museum exhibit. These are the latest developments in the Harry Potter universe (as of October 2017) as the British Library launches its look into the real-life history of magic and how it intercepts J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a fan of both the Wizarding World and really great museum exhibits, I have to say that this excited me. I haven’t been able to go to the actual museum exhibit (as it’s in London and I am not), but I have read the official book of the exhibit: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and see the accompanying BBC Two Documentary. And it’s fab. Harry Potter: A History of Magic explores the intersection of history and fantasy. It’s common knowledge that much of J.K. Rowling’s world-building in the Wizarding World series originates from real history and myth, but just how much of it was real? Harry Potter: A History of Magic seeks to answer that question, and answer it, it does – with lots of panache. (more…)

REVIEW: Strike – The Silkworm (BBC Adaptation)

The SilkwormThe Silkworm is stronger than The Cuckoo’s Calling in nearly every way. This is the case for the book and it’s the case for BBC’s TV adaptation, as well. Based on the novel by Robert Galbraith (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling), The Silkworm continues the story of Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and his assistant, Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) a number of months after the end of The Cuckoo’s Calling. Adapted by Tom Edge and directed by Kieron Hawkes, The Silkworm follows Cormoran and Robin as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of Owen Quine (Jeremy Swift) at the behest of his wife, Leonora (Monica Dolan). Owen is a provocative and somewhat famous author known for writing odd and often vulgar novels. At the time of his disappearance, Owen has just sent off the manuscript for his latest novel, Bombyx Mori, which features a “thinly veiled” slandering of many people he knows. When his body turns up dead and mutilated in exactly the same way the protagonist of Bombyx Mori’s protagonist’s death scene, the race is on to find out who, out of all those who have read Bombyx Mori, could have killed Owen Quine. (Mild Spoilers ahead)  (more…)

REVIEW: Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling (2017 BBC Adaptation) 

Strike (1226724)Like the novel it’s based on, BBC’s adaptation of The Cuckoo’s Calling isn’t anything revolutionary, but it sure is a lot of fun. Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling is the first installment of BBC’s series of adaptations of Robert Galbraith’s (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike novels. Written by Ben Richards and directed by Michael Keillor, The Cuckoo’s Calling tells the story of Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and Robin Ellacott’s (Holliday Grainger) investigation into the death of Lula Landry (Elarica Johnson). After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Comormoran Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow (Leo Bill) walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. (As always, spoilers follow)  (more…)

REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures, Volume 1

dw10dvol01_cover_1417sq_cover_largeIt was only a matter of time before Big Finish was able to start making audios with David Tennant, and it’s exciting that they’ve finally started! Thankfully, the audios are also good! A bit uneven, but still good. It’s also worth noting that all of the stories in this box set are stand alone. There is no plotline that spans the entire set, which disappoints me a bit as I prefer my box sets to be part of one large story, but I appreciate that it allows the set to be accessible to any and everyone. But I digress. In this set, written by Matt Fitton, Jenny T Colgan, James Goss and directed by Nicholas Briggs, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) continue their journey through time and space together in three stand alone stories. From technology fearing people to illegal weapons to Death itself, the Doctor and Donna must unravel the mysteries that always seem to plague them whenever and wherever they go.  (Spoilers ahead)  (more…)

REVIEW: Doctor Who – Doom Coalition 4

dw8ddc04_slipcase_1417sq_cover_largeI feel like I liked the premise of this box set more than I liked the box set itself. But, that’s not to say Doom Coalition 4 wasn’t good – because it was – it just wasn’t quite as good as I’d have liked. Written by Matt Fitton and John Dorney and directed by Ken Bentley, Doom Coalition 4 picks up exactly where Doom Coalition 3 ended: Padrac (Robert Bathurst) has trapped the Doctor (Paul McGann), Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker), and Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan) inside a time escape pod and launched them into the future of the destroyed universe. Meanwhile, Padrac still has River Song (Alex Kingston) in his sights, yet she seems to be on his side. Just what game is she playing and how will it play out? Will the Doctor be able to escape and thwart Padrac’s ultimate plan to destroy the universe in order to save Gallifrey? And what about the Eleven (Mark Bonnar) and Caleera (Emma Cunniffe)? Whose side are they really on and how far will they go to achieve their goals. (Spoilers ahead)  (more…)

REVIEW: Doctor Who – Doom Coalition 3

dw8ddc03_slipcase_1417sq_cover_largeFinally! This is the kind of box set I’ve been wanting from this series the whole time! The stories are all interconnected, especially the latter three. and on top of that, they’re all superb stories, too! Written by Matt Fitton and John Dorney and directed by Ken Bentley, Doom Coalition 3 picks up shortly after the events of the previous box set with the Doctor (Paul McGann), Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker), and Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan) continuing to travel throughout space and time. Naturally, wherever the Doctor goes, trouble always follows, and this is no exception as the Doctor uncovers mysterious pieces of a clock rumored to be the Doomsday Chronometer, a clock built by a Time Lord known only as The Clocksmith (Nicholas Woodeson). Can the Doctor stop the Clocksmith from bringing about the end of the universe? And how does that mysterious nun (Alex Kingston as River Song) factor into things? (Spoilers ahead.)

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REVIEW: Doctor Who – Doom Coalition 1

20160302145717dw8ddc01_slipcase_1417sq_cover_largeNot to be rude to Dark Eyes, but man I am in love with the premise Doom Coalition. Partially because I just really love anything to do with the Time Lords and Gallifrey, and since the Eleven (Mark Bonar) is a really messed up Time Lord, he’s far more up my alley than the array of Daleks that Dark Eyes featured. Unfortunately, however, the box set really fails to live up to the high expectations its premise (and first episode) set for it. Written by Matt Fitton, John Dorney, Marc Platt, and Edward Collier and directed by Ken Bentley, Doom Coalition 1 follows the Doctor (Paul McGann) and Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) as they track down an escaped Time Lord criminal known as the Eleven, a Time Lord with some kind of genetic defect that causes him to retain the personalities of all eleven of his bodies. Their journey takes them through time and space as they must stop the Eleven from succeeding in his evil plan. (Spoilers follow.)  (more…)

REVIEW: Doctor Who – Classic Doctors, New Monsters (Volume 2)

bfpdwnewmon02_classic_doctors_new_monsters_slipcase_sq_cover_largeBig Finish has returned with another installment in their Classic Doctors, New Monsters range. This time featuring the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Doctors, Classic Doctors, New Monsters (Volume 2) features four stand-alone stories with the Doctors facing the Vashta Nerada, the Racnoss, and the Carrionites. What’s unique about this box set is that the Fourth Doctor story and the Eighth Doctor story are loosely linked, both featuring the Vashta Nerada as villains. This is a clever idea, especially bookending the set with these two stories, and they prove to be my favorite stories of the bunch, not to suggest that any of the stories are bad. On the contrary, I really enjoyed all of them and it saddens me that Big Finish sees this as being the last of these box sets for the imminent future. (Spoilers ahead)  (more…)