Category: Sci-fi


Well I think we can all agree that this week’s episode of Doctor Who was terrifiying. Set on a troubled space station, Oxygen saw the Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive to answer a distress signal. As if dealing with the space-zombies (dead astronauts being carried around by their smart-suit) wasn’t enough, they also had to deal with the lack of oxygen. Stressful stuff.

It feels like the Doctor has been travelling to increasingly darker territories since the show’s return in 2005. We’ve had everything from face-consuming gas masks to shadows that will eat you alive but it seems the show is still finding new ways to make us shudder.

Whilst Russel T Davies injected fresh new life into Doctor Who, it’s been Steven Moffatt who is responsible for giving it that chilling streak. Since the beginning of his reign we’ve had the Weeping Angels (terrifying!), Dream Crabs (bloody terrifying!) and the Silence (Oh good God, I’d forgotten about those!) – all suitably creepy enough to give us nightmares. But is this what Doctor Who is about? There’s plenty of criticism online that recent series’ have been too dark and scary for children and there’s lots of people who would like to see it return to its warmer, family-friendly roots.

Take Oxygen. I have to admit, I was freaked. The imagery of the dead astronauts stomping around the space station was effectively eerie, an image I can’t imagine many children will be forgetting in a hurry. But, to me, that’s what it’s all about. Yes, I like watching the Doctor travelling to different planets and having banter with his companions but I also like it when it scares me. When I’m still thinking about it as I go to bed. The Doctor lives a dangerous life and it does the audience good to be reminded of that. It’s not all Oods and Robin Hood. One of the most powerful sequences in this episode was the moment Bill is exposed to the vacuum of space. The peril felt real, aided by a great performance from Pearl Mackie. Bill’s genuine fear throughout the episode came across really well, adding to that feeling of unease as you watch from behind your cushion. Then, ofcourse, the suckerpunch of episode came as the Doctor paid a price for his adventures and lost his sight. Grim stuff.

It’s not just the monsters. We’ve been hit with a different kind of scary several times in recent series as the show has proved it can do psychological terror pretty well too. For example, the words ‘Don’t cremate me’ are enough to give you goose bumps. Doctor Who is able to show us just how awful our own world can be, because anything is possible in the Whoniverse, even the most horrendous of situations.

But should Doctor Who tone down the fear factor? Of course not! Classic Who is remembered most for being terrifying (if a little shoddy on the special effects) so NuWho is simply bringing that thread into 2017. It’s a rare breed of show that has a license to do whatever it wants, so it should always be finding new ways to scare us. The best episodes are the ones we’re stilling thinking about and shuddering days later. Doctor Who should always have the ability to send us diving behind the sofa.

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So it’s back. I always forget just how much I’ve missed Doctor Who until those opening titles of a new series roll out.  Series 10 kicked off on Saturday with the introduction of a brand new companion – Bill Potts. After the initial intro clip last year I wasn’t too sure about Bill. She came across as a bit too cartoony and goofy and I could see her being very annoying very fast. However…(wait for it….rare moment coming up) I was wrong. Bill definitely made her mark in her premiere episode – showing that she was an intellectual match for the Doctor and adding a fresh new dynamic on board the TARDIS.

Bill is a new kind of companion. She sees things from a view point we’ve not had before. (She even asks the classic question in a different way – ‘Doctor what?’) She is refreshing for many reasons but mostly because of her humanity. I loved Clara, but by the end of her run if felt like she was saying the same things over and over again. The same quizzical expression. The same sarcastic comments. The same sort of cutesiness. Bill is different. Bill isn’t afraid to call the Doctor out on his faults – which of course Clara was happy to do too – but I can imagine Bill doing it with a bit less sass. She’s honest, grounded and flawed. She’s just a bit more human! The ways she’s written comes across so naturally. Perfect qualities for a classic companion. Bill also had one of the best introductions to the TARDIS, with the lights slowly booting up as the camera pans out…..only for her to liken it to a kitchen (its’ true) and a lift (also true). In her first episode she experiences heartbreak as she is forced to let Heather go. Her strength, complexity and emotional depth in these scenes are promising. It’ll be interesting to see how her story unfolds…

One thing that did stick out as odd was the re-appearance of Nardole. Nardole seems to have just…happened! Probably due to the large gap between his introduction in the 2015 Christmas special and his more recent appearance last Christmas.  Nardole just doesn’t quite seem to work yet. Still, I’m hopeful a satisfying explanation as to why the Doctor has him sticking around will be revealed as the series rumbles on. Though at the minute it does sort of feel like Moffatt is keeping him so he can kill him off in the finale (he’s promised it will be a ‘bloodbath’.)

The Pilot demonstrates one of the shows keys themes – regeneration. Doctor Who has the gift of being able to overhaul everything once things start to get a bit stale. It’s great to keep things fresh and allow a ‘stepping on’ point for new viewers….but what about old viewers? Doctor Who has gone through a lot of changes over time, particulary since it’s return in 2005, and next year will see the show have a new Executive Producer, a new Doctor, a new look and possibly a new companion. So did we really need this new revamp so soon? Sometimes the constant changing between series’ can be off putting to those who want to immerse themselves into a story they have already invested so much in. It can be a bit frustrating when the reset button keeps being pushed. Take Capaldi’s Doctor, for instance. This is only the beginning of his third series and he has transformed so much. He’s gone from grouchy and dangerous to a wise old grandfather figure. What happened to the snarling beast Moffatt promised after Matt Smith’s regeneration? I’d have liked that process to take a little longer, to have really been explored. It’s a shame this is to be Capaldi’s last series as his Doctor hasn’t really had much chance to shine.

So, overall a good opening episode but I’m hopeful for a bit less re-booting and a few more references to the show’s history in future episodes. Having pictures of River Song and Susan on the Doctor’s desk was a nice touch. The new TARDIS dynamic is going to give us some interesting moments in the lead up to Capaldi’s exit. I think it’s gonna be a good one.

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The new trailer for series 10 has landed and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s been a while since the Doctor was on our screens (except for the Christmas special) and I’d forgotten just how much I love this programme. With the latest hype over the new series and a new Doctor on the way, it’s all change, and my excitement has been regenerated. I’ve spent Sunday watching some of my favourite episodes (be warned – NuWho only.  I only started watching in 2005. Sorry!) and I couldn’t resist revisiting some of the most gasp-inducing moments! I cannot believe I’ve only ever blogged about Doctor Who once – ridiculous! Allow me to rectify that.

(Oh and I’ve split this blog into two parts. Partly because it’s massive but also just to be uber-annoying. Enjoy!)

Number 15 – Daleks! Bad Wolf, Series 1.

We’d already seen one Dalek in NuWho and, perhaps I was naïve to think we wouldn’t see them again for a while. Just as we were recovering from Rose being murdered on live television, we were even more shocked to discover she is alive, but being held in a Dalek fleet ship. The cries of ‘Exterminate’ were genuinely terrifying. This episode also revealed the story arc of Bad Wolf. I remember being totally blown away to discover the messages Rose had left the Doctor throughout the series and had to re-watch immediately to spot them all over again. I think this is when I really began to admire RTD’s work….

Number 14 – The Doctor is killed, The Impossible Astronaut, Series Image result for the impossible astronaut gif6.

There was something about this series that felt very different from the start. We knew one character was going to bite the dust but we didn’t realise it would be The Doctor, who was murdered at the side of Lake Silencio. Watching him get shot in the distance as Amy, River and Rory react in horror was very grim and a moment that haunted us for the rest of the series. (Note: The clever resolution in The Wedding of River Song should also be mentioned. Well done. Bravo. *claps*)

Number 13 – Skaro and Davros, The Magician’s Apprentice, Series 9.

Well we didn’t see this one coming. The opening story of series 9 was packed with twists and cliffhangers. Davros’ return was kept a secret until transmission, a decision which certainly paid off. The moral focus of the storyline, as the Doctor struggles with the decision to rescue or abandon the young Davros, kept us thinking throughout. The moment Skaro materialises around Missy and Clara was also a skin-tingling moment and refreshing to see other characters react in horror to a reveal, rather than the Doctor.

Number 12 – The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion, Series 9.Image result for the zygon invasion

Two of my favourite episodes to date. Subtly topical, this double bill acts as a sequel to the 50th anniversary episode and explores what happens when the 20 million Zygons hiding as humans on Earth begin to revolt. The parallels drawn between modern political issues make for a thrilling and thought provoking set of episodes and Peter Capaldi shines during a powerful speech on fairness and consequences of decisions. We also have the return of fan-favourite Osgood, who acts as a welcome source of morality in what can be a pretty grim set of episodes. Another underrated story that deserves much more praise.

Number 11 – Eleven Regenerates, The Time of the Doctor, Christmas special.

It’s a bit annoying that Eleven happens to revert back to his younger state before Image result for eleven regeneration gif amyregenerating, but that aside, another powerful moment. Murray Gold does it again with an excellent score. The riff of ‘The Long Song’ as Amy reappears to the Doctor still brings a great big lump to my throat. And then he takes off his bow tie! Who would have thought such an action would leave millions in total despair?! But, I think what really pushes your emotional buttons in this scene is the Eleventh Doctor’s last speech…

‘I will always remember when the Doctor was me.’

You can’t help think there’s a bit more Matt Smith in that speech than the character he’s playing.

Number 10 – Amy and Rory’s deaths, The Angels Take Manhattan, Series 7.

Just when you thought Amy and Rory have survived their final episode, Rory is touched by a Weeping Angel and sent back in time to live out the rest of his life. A devastated Amy sacrifices herself to be with Rory and the Doctor is left bereft. *sniff*

Number 9 – The Master Returns, Dark Water, Series 8

Trapped in the Time War way back during The End of Time, we thought we’d saw the last of The Master. So, it was quite a shock to discover Michelle Gomez’ bonkers Mary Poppins-esque Missy was in fact The Master in female form. Gomez injected new life into the character and plays Missy with devilishly mad style. Even though she’s ‘bananas’ we can’t help but love her….even if she did kill one of the Osgoods.

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 29TH November 7.30am.

My alarm goes off. Fuzzy from the wine the night before, I burrow deeper into my cocoon of blankets and try to think whether it’s a week day and if I have to get up for school. (FYI, I don’t drink on school nights. Thought I’d better clear that one up).Then I realise – it’s Comic Con day! Suddenly enthused, I’m up, showered and dressed within half an hour.

I have loved Wales Comic Con since my first visit in 2013. This event has something to offer for everyone and we always consider ourselves so lucky that we have something like this so close to home. The entry queue is always enormous – a testimony to just how popular it is – but, weather permitting, the queue is one of the best parts. The buzz as the people begin to arrive is amazing and it’s great to see so many people putting in so much effort to cosplay. This is an event that people really care about. Each year we comment on what a lovely atmosphere the whole event has. There’s never any trouble, everyone is friendly and there to have a good time. People chat to each other in the queue as if they go back years. It’s a refreshing change and a great opportunity to meet some amazing people as well as try to spot Doughnut Guy (selling…not ‘dressed as’) as he mixes with the crowd, selling refreshments and cracking jokes. (OK. This might not be for everyone but it has become a bit of a tradition for us. Doughnut Guy is becoming just as much of a legend as the folks signing autographs….)

Once you’re inside the Con, that’s when things get even more exciting. The main hall is geek-central (doesn’t that sound like the best place?) with stalls and stars galore. The stalls this year were fantastic, as wi12313851_10156337727425381_3106644287043449912_nth every year, offering everything from homemade geeky trinkets (check out my Fourth Doctor Dragon courtesy of Goblin Dreams) to the most fantastic (and under-priced) fudge I’ve had in a long time.  If you’re after something quirky and interesting then this is the place to find it. There are also tons of comics, books, prints and memorabilia to buy – it’s dangerous time to have it so close to Christmas!

Now, I’m a Torchwood fan and the past few WCC’s have given me the chance to talk to (A.K.A., stand awkwardly in front of person whilst staring at the floor and muttering ‘hello’ like some sort of lunatic) the cast. Eve Myles, Naoko Mori and Gareth David Lloyd have all had the pleasure of seeing my most star-struck facial expression. (There was also an embarrassing incident with Shane Richie which I can never repeat. Ever.) Each one of them has been absolutely lovely and completely down to earth. I’m so used to seeing Gareth (first name terms there) now that he was stood right next to me yesterday and I didn’t turn into a gawping, stuttering mess. The teenage-me would never have thought I’d be so calm about standing next to Ianto Jones. Further proof that Comic Con is amazing.

Finally there’s the Q&A sessions. In the past we’ve only visited the Torchwood Q&A which never fails to be totally hilarious as well as totally X-rated. Yesterday was no exception with Gareth, Naoko and Kai Owen answering questions on everything from the best kisser to Ianto’s shrine. We also got chance to see the first WCC Doctor Who panel featuring Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Terry Molloy. Watching them discuss google glass was like watching your grandads discuss technology and it was interesting to hear their thoughts on the new series (12 year old Doctors, CGI, Jennifer Lawrence and sonic sunglasses featuring heavily).

In recent years, WCC has become a bi-annual event, which is bloody brilliant as it means we don’t have to wait as long until the next one. I would recommend this event to anyone. It’s a fun-filled day run by people who genuinely care about your experience and, again, it’s incredible that we have something like this in Wrexham.

5.30pm

As the kettle boils, I look out of the window and spot a bunch of cosplayers heading from the direction of the Uni. They are huddled together against the rain but still have excited grins across their faces. The weather hasn’t ruined their fun. I admire my new dragon which is perched on the top of my bookcase. He’s looking pretty cool. As I settle down with a mug of tea, I look forward to April, when I can buy him some little friends.

 

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This weekend Clara Oswald faced the raven and bid a tearful farewell to the TARDIS. After months of speculation, Clara met a surprising end after risking her life in a fashion only the Doctor could survive.

In this house, a tear was shed when Clara realised the repercussions of her actions and bravely accepted her fate. Although, in my opinion, nothing will top the traumatic departure of Donna Noble (‘Binary binary binary’ *gasps*), Clara’s farewell did seem fitting for her character. Some might argue it was a demure, I would say it was chillingly humble, given the peril Clara has faced in the past. It just highlights how dangerous travelling with the Doctor can be and the vulnerability of his human companions.

Clara growing more Doctor-like has been a theme of this series and the foreshadowing of previous episodes certainly paid off. Over the last few weeks I have found myself cringing each time Clara has almost over stepped the mark and grown more and more reckless. That raven had her number from the start of this series and sooner or later it was going to catch her.

Clara has become the longest serving companion (since 2005) and she’s been part of many classic Who memories. Her first introduction in Asylum of the Daleks was brilliant! What an introduction. It was one of those surprise jump-out-of-your-seat moments that Doctor Who does so well. Clara (or rather…sort of…Oswin) was instantly likeable and the twist at the end was another memorable moment. Then we jumped to Clara running round the streets of Victorian London at Christmas, which was lots of fun, capped with another surprise twist…as Clara died. Again. Another great moment was the flash forward to modern day at the end of the episode, with the real (at last) Clara finally being revealed. Goosebumps.

There were some dodgy times in Clara’s pre-50th stint but one of her defining moments came in the cold open of The Name of the Doctor. Another amazing Who moment. That opening sequence was able to produce more squeaks of excitement than a whole episode and the idea of Clara being spliced through the Doctor’s time stream in order to save him was a remarkable move my Moffat. Clara was suddenly incredibly important.

Jenna Coleman had excellent chemistry with Matt Smith and I was worried about how Clara would work with Capaldi’s Doctor. Jenna and Peter have worked beautifully though and the way Clara has slowly moved from being the Doctor’s apprentice to carer to equal has been great to watch.

It’s also worth mentioning Clara’s tragic romance with Danny Pink. When Pink died, Clara was bereft and after initially severing herself from the Doctor’s life through her own grief, she was tempted back into the TARDIS this year. It was clear that Danny’s death had changed Clara. After initially being morose, she became intent on living her life to the full, even if it did mean throwing herself into dangerous situations.

It was this attitude that caused her downfall. The moment in Face the Raven when Clara recklessly dangled above London, laughing as she clasped to the TARDIS doors made me feel genuinely nauseous. Clara was heading for trouble. Confidently taking it upon herself to save poor Rigsy, without reading the small print, was an admirable but costly move for Clara. That finally conversation with the Doctor will be remembered for a very long time and it was a smart move for the writers to make the Doctor promise Clara he wouldn’t seek revenge. That was certainly a very Clara thing to do and reminded us just how much she knew the Doctor (‘You’re going to be alone now….and that’s not good for you…’ *sniff*).

Played perfectly by Jenna Coleman, Clara Oswald has made Who history for many reasons, and has given us some incredible moments that will never be forgotten.

Goodbye to The Impossible Girl.

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‘Torchwood. Outside the government, beyond the police…’

Just when I thought nothing would top my Doctor Who obsession, everything changed in 2006.

I’d returned from a trip to London to see Wicked (I know….when obsessions collide!) when BBC3 introduced me to Torchwood. I loved it from episode one. As a 16 year old, I was able to look past the clichés and faux-adultness of the first series (something which is easier to pick up on when I re-watch as a 25 year old). For me it was fresh and brooding and totally exhilarating. Not only was it brand new, but it had the familiarity of my favourite TV programme. I loved them all – Jack, Owen, Gwen, Ianto, Susie and Tosh. Each in their own way.

Toshiko Sato was my favourite. Sensible and understated, she was a complete contrast to the rest of the team. Unlike Gwen, Jack and Owen, she wasn’t brash and bold. Toshiko was modest and quietly calculating. Toshiko was often the one to come up with a conclusion without getting the recognition within the team that she deserved. She was wonderfully flawed, with her insecurities and moral deviations explored in Greeks Bearing Gifts. Naoko Mori had created a classic character for me. I thought she was brilliant and quietly (and sometimes noisily) cheered every time Toshiko delivered a stinging one liner.

The second series saw a spikier Toshiko. She’d clearly had enough of Jack’s swaggering charm as Toshiko got ballsy – airing her disagreement with Jack many times. It also brought some of my favourite Toshiko moments. From subtle comedy (‘All. Telephone lines. Are. Down!’) to high emotion (Walking through the bay at the end of To the Last Man. *wipes tear*). Naoko certainly flexes her acting muscles in this series. I will never…NEVER…get over Exit Wounds. The fact Naoko did that scene in one take just proves her ability and what an asset she was to the series, and of course, Toshiko left doing what she does best; saving the world. Toshiko doesn’t do this with dazzling flare or swaggering arrogance. She does it quietly without any expectation of credit. She’s just doing her job. I need to go away and weep about this for a moment…. 

So anyway, having been such a Tosh-fan for so long, you can imagine my excitement when Naoko was announced as a guest at Wales Comic Con. I never miss WCC but this year I had no excuse – I had to be there. I’d already met Gareth David Lloyd and embarrassed myself in front of Eve Myles (and Shane Richie….but that’s another story) and this year I was given a fresh Torchwood member to meet. And by ‘meet’ I obviously mean ‘stare at with a terrified expression on my face as my best friend tries to force me to make cringey small talk’. It was Naoko Mori’s turn to get the full starstruck-me experience. What a lucky lady. The excitement I had harboured for weeks dissipated as I entered the main hall and turned to an anxious, stomach twisting panic. I could see her through the crowd, no queue at her desk. A normal person would have seized the opportunity and rushed straight over. Not me. I circled the room several times, building up the courage to go and speak to Naoko. Eventually my friend encouraged/bullied me to bite the bullet. Naoko was, of course, lovely and I had no reason to be such a mumbling idiot. She shook my hand (she touched my hand! That means we’re engaged, right?) and even rubbed my hand through her hair to prove she was ‘just normal’ (and obviously the photos look like I’m awkwardly trying to slam her head into the table. Classic.) The Q&A with Naoko and Eve Myles was hilarious. Like, actually cheek-hurting hilarious. I bet they had lots of fun making Torchwood.

So anyway, now that I’ve confessed my love for a fictional character (again) and her non-fictional actor, I suppose what I’m really trying to say is:

Torchwood writers, stop messing about.  Just bring it back.  You know it makes sense. You’d make a lot of people happy. Oh…and, even though it had its perks, we’re all willing to forget Miracle Day if you just bring back Tosh, Owen and Ianto. Just bring them back, no questions asked. It’s fine. We will forgive the lack of plausible explanation just for the chance to have another series with the full team. We miss them.

Oh and Naoko, call me.