Sunday, 30 September 2012

TV Review: Doctor Who 7.03 - A Town called Mercy

Is Series 7's third installment good, bad or ugly?

In simple terms, the third episode of Doctor Who's seventh series left me in a mental jumble. It made me wonder how Toby Whithouse, writer of such fantastic episodes as last year's The God Complex and the Russell T. Davies-era nostalgia fest School Reunion, could screw up something so badly to the point that even a casual viewer could rectify the flaws he creates in series 7 episode 3, A Town called Mercy. Yes, it pains me to say it, but this episode - one that had so much going for it judging from the trailers and such that preceded it - was pretty mediocre to say the least. It's kind of ironic to state that, however, because so much about this Western-themed 'epic' was executed to near-perfection, namely the direction, music, acting and the overall tone that these three things create. It's evidently clear that too much of the focus with this episode was on shoehorning in typical Western flick cliches as opposed to actually writing a sensical, brilliant tale, something that I know for a fact Whithouse is perfectly capable of doing both in Doctor Who and his own series Being Human (which, going off-topic slightly, you should all check out). It's when he overcoats a botched tale with historical or cult themes that he creates his own monstrosities - You only have to watch 2010's Vampires in Venice to see this theory in motion. At least that story made a lick of sense, though, 'cause this one's chock full of plot-holes and continuity errors the size of several Grand Canyons.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory enter a certain town called Mercy, unbeknownst to the badly-composed and ultimately pointless tale they're getting themselves into.
I'm actually in some way glad that this episode was terrible, because it makes it all the more easier to synopsise it. On each subsequent occasion I watched A Town called Mercy (for review purposes, that is) I found more and more errors as well as rectifications for said errors, to point out in this review. I'll save all of that for the following paragraphs, though, because believe it or not there are good things to be said about A Town called Mercy despite all the justified hate I've brought upon it in the last paragraph. If you haven't guessed already, Whithouse's latest is a Western, which fits the 'blockbuster' theme of series 7 nicely. It's also dealt with perfectly, mainly thanks to the staging and the absolutely phenomenal musical score from Murray Gold (seriously, this episode and this episode only contains some of the best music the guy has ever produced for Doctor Who, adding a Western twang to his usual epic antics). Mercy was filmed at Almeria province in Spain, the exact same site in which the likes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and many other classic westerns were also once in motion. The site looks all the more iconic in this episode thanks to Saul Metzstein's phenomenal direction - Yes, the director of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship returns to direct his second episode in a row, and I must say he's rising up in the pantheon of great Doctor Who and indeed TV directors judging from his work on the show thus far. Some of the shots in this episode, ones involving the apparent antagonist The Gunslinger in particular, look absolutely gorgeous.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

TV Review: Doctor Who 7.02 - Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, why do you Love Brian's Balls?

Yes, as you may have guessed from the quite frankly farcical title, the second installment in Doctor Who's seventh revived series is a light-hearted one. A romp, one could refer to it as. Don't go speeding down assumption junction just yet, though, because it may surprise you to hear that Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, the fourth Doctor Who story penned by Chris Chibnall (His previous works being 42, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood) is actually a very solid episode. One of the best of its kind, in fact. It might also surprise you to hear that the 45-minutes this episode presents also packs some pretty serious drama, fantastic direction from newcomer Saul Metzstein and a perfectly handled mix of CGI and animatronics for the titular dinosaurs. On top of this, brilliant casting choices for the vast range of characters, as well as an at times snigger-inducing script, can also be added to episode 2's list of merits. Oh, and there's a balls joke in there, too.

One thing you definitely have to keep in mind while watching Chris Chibnall's latest (at the time of writing, at least; He's also penned episode 4 of this series) is that it isn't trying to do anything groundbreaking in its 45-minute time-frame, despite the fact that a particularly controversial, fan-splitting decision from the Doctor takes place towards the end. More on that later, though. As aforementioned, Dinosaurs certainly fits under the category of 'light-hearted romp', as it combines a fair few elements; a considerably larger set of companions as opposed to previous adventures, a stellar variety of locales (at least in the episode's pre-credits sequence; One that zooms by even swifter than that of Asylum of the Daleks) and most importantly, a multi-layered plotline that takes place almost alongside the kind of narrative one expects from the title of the episode. Yes, Chibnall has pulled the same trick showrunner Steven Moffat did with last year's divisive story 'Let's Kill Hitler' by misguiding the viewer's expectations through means of an intentionally specified title. Thankfully, though, Chibnall manages to combine the unexpected elements of this story with the dinosaur action that was to be expected judging from the title, even going so far as to give a superb, fan-pleasing explanation as to why the dinosaurs reside in such unfamiliar terrain.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

TV Review: Doctor Who 7.01 - Asylum of the Daleks


Doctor Who is a programme about change. It's always been critically acclaimed in some form or another, and it's also been a key part of British heritage and culture for many years. But, like the main protagonist himself; the characterised glue that has constantly kept the show stuck together; the time traveler whose personality and appearance has taken eleven different official forms and even more unofficial ones over the past near-50 years, the show constantly changes. It changes with new lead writers, it changes with the times and it most definitely changes with The Doctor himself, not to mention his countless companions. In the midst of all this change a number of problems have popped up over the years: plot-holes, continuity errors and such, which can let the self-proclaimed 'hardcore' viewer down if taken to heart. Fans of classic Doctor Who and even the Russell T. Davies era will find a fair few problems with the recently broadcasted series 7 (or 32, if you will) opener, titled Asylum of the Daleks - Errors which are most evident in the form of issues to do with the Doctor's greatest adversary themselves.

Now let's get one thing perfectly clear: I absolutely adore Doctor Who and I adore it now more than I ever did before current lead writer Steven Moffat took over, but I don't take it too seriously. A lead writer can't write a story of his own based around an adversary that has been present in a show since its second serial without creating continuity issues, and that's a fact, but so-called die-hards feel the need to point out unobvious errors and see them as episode ruiners. Fans who expected SteeMo to watch every Dalek story ever broadcast before writing his Dalek debut are quite foolish, to say the least, because when you look past the slightly botched continuity there is an absolutely fantastic story in Asylum of the Daleks, paired with fantastic production values (especially for a BBC budget) and a personal adoration of mine which comes in the form of some truly phenomenal direction from Nick Hurran, who also worked on two stellar hits from last year, The Girl who Waited and The God Complex. Speaking of last year, Doctor Who's sixth revived series saw a lot more head-scratching than most with its complex plot lines and timey-wimey madness, but thankfully with series 7 Moffat has wiped the slate clean and gone back to the basics with a very sophisticated, easy to understand script that worked wonders on our TV screens. The Doctor is back and he's made his return with a particularly explodey-wodey bang.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Update 15/09/12: Explanation for my Hiatus / Progress Updates

It's been exactly a month since I last updated, and not much less since I actually posted any artcles, so I thought now would be a good time to initiate writing a little progress update. Naturally, this post will give a little more insightfulness on my current writing projects (of which there are many quite literally ready to be published) as well as the redesign me and ONM forum member TJ HipHop have been working on. Well, he's doing most of the work but regardless, the redesign is still coming and will hopefully be in public view by the month of September's end. The graphics I've seen thus far, as well as the template I've created with Blogger's admittedly rather fiddly template designer tool are looking a lot more professional than the site does at this moment in time, and I'm just as excited to see the finished product as you might well be. Again, apologies for the delays (I was hoping to get it done and dusted a little earlier, but never mind) but, while I can't promise anything, I am hoping to start publishing posts on the brand-new Noodle's Blog before the month ends.

Speaking of the publishing of posts, I do actually have a few things ready to be unleashed as aforementioned. The thing is, I originally wanted to post all my articles in regards to previously unexplored mediums - TV, film and music - after the redesign was to be launched in order to compliment the freshness of the new-look site. While I'll be sticking by this with my film and music reviews, namely The Dictator and Blur's 13 respectively (apologies in advance for the poor quality of the latter article, it is my first music review after all), I do plan on posting my TV reviews ASAP, along with a new ratings graphic. Speaking of which, I haven't actually mentioned said TV reviews until given the chance right now. So, yeah, the seventh revived series of Doctor Who started a few weeks back and I've already reviewed the first episode. Not to mentioned the fact that my review of episode 2 is in the writing process and will hopefully be completed this weekend. Episode 3 is airing today and I'll also be reviewing that sometime the following week. In other words, I'll be reviewing all five episodes each in a 1000-word shell and publishing them both on here and in Stream, the graphics, arts and writing magazine I've already mentioned numerous times in these updates post (the new design will feature an Affiliates page linking to Stream and a few other things, as if I don't advertise it enough). If you want to read my aforementioned film and music reviews, don't hesitate to check out the free online magazine right here.

Back to the medium I typically cover on this blog and will continue to mainly focus on following my expansion of media coverage, you may remember that I promised my review of the absolutely phenomenal Kid Icarus: Uprising on 3DS would be posted last month. Unfortunately, I also noted that the new design would be up last month, and I was all set to tie in my latest game review with the launch of the new design. Sorry about that, but it's all in the past. I plan on posting this review (which, if you don't mind one blowing his own trumpet, might well be my best yet) before the month ends, hopefully to tie-in with the redesign's launch. On the topic of gaming, I've had a fair few posts in the pipeline over the past few weeks but haven't finished any of them, although I'm close to doing so. Firstly, a synopsis of the gorgeous Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and secondly my thoughts on that fiasco surrounding The World Ends with You that spanned a fortnight a few weeks back. Both will be up this month, redesign or no. Back to reviews, the next one I plan on writing up after all of the above is over and done with is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater on both PS2 and 3DS (yes, I'll be analysing each seperately) which should be exciting. Finally, my Top Ten Favourite Games Feature is gradually being worked on and has been for the past few months, but I can promise it is coming and will hopefully be up before the end of next month.

And so, this concludes another update. Apologies for a lack of posts lately but I hope my explanation has sufficed. I haven't even mentioned the fact that I'm in my most important (and stressful) year of school now and revision naturally takes priority over my personal projects, but I will continue to fit these things in. You can expect a few new posts before the end of the month, and maybe even the redesign I'm so pumped to launch. Thank you, and goodnight/afternoon/morning (I think I've covered everything, there).