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!

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Review: The Borderlands

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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.

2010: The Year in Review

January
Evile @ Leeds Rios

March
The sad death of fellow LitDenner Johnny Havron in York
Meeting Claire “Rocket Rabbit” Hack, at:
HIM at Manchester Academy 2, with Dommin supporting
World Horror Convention 2010, Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton, which included meeting several amazing people, especially Stephen Jones and Neil Gaiman.

May
Big fire at Grosvenor Chemical works in Linthwaite
Trigger The Bloodshed @ The Parish, Huddersfield

July
It’s A Knockout competition for Kirkwood Hospice
Rebranding myself as AW Marsden

August
Getting an iPad
Bloodstock Open Air, Catton Park, including meeting all the current members of Evile (I see Ben on occasion, but had not met Matt, Ol or Joel before). Also seeing Stone Circle play live for the first time, and meeting Rambo and Joe from the band later that afternoon.

September
Holiday in Scarborough.
MammothFest in Brighton, including Stone Circle, Orange Goblin, Sylosis, and loads more bands.

October
My 30th Birthday

November
Paramore, Sheffield Arena

December
Taste of Chaos Tour, Manchester Central (Disturbed, Papa Roach, BuckCherry and Halestorm)

I’ve really enjoyed this 2010, despite the slow start for the first few months. Packed a lot of good stuff in, made several new friends, got some decent writing done, and started making progress in general. It has definitely been a better year than most recent ones, so I’m hoping 2011 follows the trend.

Happy New Year all!