Doctor Who: into the Capaldi years

Watched it. Loved it. Bring me more!

Oh, you want a bit more detail than that? Oh, all right then.

The BBC have been marketing this one for years, ever since Peter Capaldi was announced on a live broadcast as the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor in 2013. The whole world has been reaching fever pitch, as with each new regeneration, the world finds more to love in this stalwart of British science fiction television. You only have to look at the recent launch tours and Auntie’s clever little teaser spots flocking on between other shows, to feel the excitement is tangible. Everyone wants to know: will Capaldi be as good a Doctor as his predecessors?

The answer is a resounding “yes.”

The theme music takes us right back to the original theme in the 60s, sounding decidedly alien and otherworldly, unlike anything you’ve heard before. The accompanying visuals of various clockwork elements (cogs and gears, clock face numerals) all ground this as a time travel show, and get us away from the turbulent time vortex of previous series. This an all new Who from the outset. Again. It also helps to keep Doctor Who as a decidedly steampunk show. This has been seen before, from alien clockwork dolls, to a clockwork weather destroying bomb, the show is probably the most significantly steampunk production around, without ever really being marketed as such.

That is why it works so well as steampunk, as most steampunk a will tell you: steampunk works well when it isn’t at first obvious. It’s not all goggles and gears, it’s the Victorian explorer ethic of adventure and weird machinery that pushes the boundaries. How more steampunk can you get than the TARDIS?

The episode trundles along nicely, with good pacing, but not as frenetic as the Matt Smith or David Tennant years. This Doctor has a more grounded coolness to him, he’s a thinker as well as a doer. And it serves him well.

We also see a little more of that moral ambiguity from the likes of the Sixth and (my personal favourite) Seventh Doctors: did the Half-face Man fall to his death, or did the Doctor push him? As the Doctor himself says, one of them is lying about their moral programming. We know Seven thought nothing of using his young companion Ace in order to control an entire situation, he was always aware of the bigger picture. Is Twelve of that same ilk, willing to make bigger sacrifices for the greater good? Only time will tell.

I can happily say this looks set to be a fantastic series. While some people felt that the last series lost something after a while, this new refresh looks to have made a strong leap forward. Yes, there are still many Moffat-isms we have to overlook, but I’m not going to get into them here. Doctor Who isn’t the only show with problems, other shows have many more. It’s entertainment: don’t like it? Swap channels. There’s plenty of them these days, it’s not like the 60s when you only had three to choose from.

Can’t wait for next week!

Review: The Borderlands


I’d heard good things about this film, but nearly didn’t buy it (iTunes not having it up for rent, only buy). But, I decided go for it (payday treat) and parted with hard earned cash. I’m happy to say it was well spent.

The film is set in a rural Devon town, complete with silent yokels, teenage yobs on the street corner, a dimly lit pub, and a church with a dwindling, almost non-existent congregation. This is the epicentre of the story, where a grainy video of unexplained noises, rumblings, and moving crucifixes and candlesticks sets in motion a Vatican-led investigation into “miraculous” occurrences.

Our team is layabout techie Gray, hard drinking priest Deacon and straight laced, by-the-book priest Mark. The dynamic between them is fresh and off-beat, investing you in far more realistic, believable characters than are usually foisted upon us in similar fare. There is little Scooby-gang style exposition to fill in gaps, we witness and work out most of the plot lines at the same time they do, through their eyes. It just works.

With the shaky camera footage a lot less shaky than in most other found-footage films, the viewer is not left feeling violently ill halfway through. The comic starting point for the three characters soon makes way to a creeping sense of dread, until the climactic descent into the catacombs that will have you reeling from a truly horrifying end. This is how horror should be, and it is brilliant.

Five stars from me, I highly recommend. Can’t wait to see more from writer/director Elliot Goldner.

My Top 10 Albums of 2011; 2011 Year in Review Part 1

Time to look back at the highs and lows of 2011. First up: my soundtrack. I spend a lot of time on the bus to and from the DDJ, great opportunity to listen to good music. There were some fantastic albums released last year, these are my Top 10:

10 (Joint) Still Got Legs – Chameleon Circuit and Stark (EP) – Cherri Bomb

I couldn’t decide which of these two to include, so they both snuck in. A bit of Trock (TARDIS rock for the uninitiated) from the CC guys, including Alex Day and Charlie McConnell. The songs are all based on Doctor Who, and are an exercise in cheesy brilliance. Stark is the debut EP from Cherri Bomb, a four-piece of girls from the US with ages of only 13 (Rena), 14 (Nia and Julia) and 15 (Miranda). These girls have a fantastically polished sound for their ages, and have already supported Foo Fighters. Expect great things from this band with their first full album, out next year.

9 Relentless, Reckless Forever – Children of Bodom

You don’t get much heavier than this, and with tongue firmly in cheek, CoB tear it up.

8 Maniacal Miscreation – Cerebral Bore

Some girls you fancy because they look fit/cute/attractive/sexy/sassy/beautiful/any-combination-of-the-previous. Som Pluijmers I fancy because she can make the most unearthly sounds with her throat, and because I’m fairly certain she could kill you with one metal scream. Seriously. Add the Scottish brogues of the rest of the band, and you have a formidable stage presence that commands as easily on a large stage to hundreds as it does in the tiny back room of the Parish in Huddersfield. If you like your death metal heavy, crunching and ear-splitting, these guys are for you.

7 Pressure & Time – Rival Sons

They rock. They roll. They’re all over the road, as one songs says. You could easily stick this album on in the car for a long road trip, and not notice until the police are flashing you down for swerving round Ainley Top at 100 plus. And if you keep playing this as they talk to you, they might easily get distracted and leave you alone. (Probably not.)

6 Affective Arousal – Trendkill Method

I first heard song Questions Unanswered on a freebie CD with Terrorizer mag. I love it. The Latvian rockers formerly known as Gust of Anger are a screaming powerhouse of prog-tinged thrash. Goes down well on a rainy afternoon.

5 Replaced – Kate McGill

“I like Kate McGill. Awkward.” So pronounces the tee-shirt I picked up at her live show early last year. Kate began her recent musical career push on YouTube. I’m lucky enough to say I was an early subscriber, and gladly contributed to the financial backing of her album. She is lovely, with a vocal talent that can bring shivers to the spine and remind you of the heart breaking, and heart warming, moments of love, life, and everything.

4 Unto The Locust – Machine Head

On September 26, three amazing bands released three stonking albums. They are all on this list. The first: Machine Head. With The Blackening such a hard act to follow, Unto The Locust was going to be in for some flack, even before it rocketed up the iTunes charts. It swatted away the flack like locusts, and proved Rob Flynn’s mob are still pushing the boundaries of the heavy metal album.

3 The Hunter – Mastodon

The second album released September 26, Mastodon’s new work had a slightly new direction for them, with a range of vocal styles and sounds throughout. A belter of an album, well worth a listen for new fans as well as old.

2 Edge of the Earth – Sylosis

For most of the year, this was my number one favourite. The rockers from Reading were in a strange state at the end of 2010. Having lost their lead singer, they were still a tight, professional musical act. But when I saw them live in October 2010, they seemed to have lost their sense of direction. What they were missing was this: the right material. This album is incredible, filled with catchy riffs, screaming vocals, harmonics you can’t shake. This was my soundtrack for the summer, brilliantly done record.

1 Five Serpent’s Teeth – Evile

Which brings me to my number one album of the year. On September 26, it knocked Sylosis off the top spot of my list ( and I’m so glad it did.) When Mike died, and Joel joined the band, there was a wonder among the fans as to how the band would bounce back, what direction they would take. Thankfully, Benni and the boys new exactly what to do. Keep the definitive Evile thrash sound, but calm the technical side down a little. Play professionally, but don’t get bogged down in the hard-and-fast feel of Infected Nations. Add in a couple of tracks friendly to newer, more mainstream fans, and voila. An album to really sink your teeth into.

So that’s been my best albums of the year. Of course, there were many other albums out, all of which got a a good playing on my iPhone. But these are the ones that were played the most, and provided my escape from the world.