TV Review: Doctor Who – Legend of the Sea Devils

Legend of the Sea Devils leaves me a little underwhelmed, a Doctor Who special that wasn’t, well, special enough

“No ship, Sherlock!”

It’s impossible to quantify just how much Covid has derailed Doctor Who, particularly as we move ever closer to Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall’s departure from the series. Necessarily restricted by lockdown but able to film under strict conditions, the arrival of Legend of the Sea Devils is a testament to creative fortitude in and of itself.

With that in mind, this adventure – co-written by Chibnall with Ella Road and directed by Haolu Wang – it’s hard to know exactly how to pitch any criticism. A short running time and some way choppy editorial decisions suggest logistical struggles. But it’s hard not to feel that a story that both alights on a fascinating historical figure and reintroduces a classic monster, whilst also serving as a penultimate episode for a Doctor. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who – Legend of the Sea Devils”

TV Review: Doctor Who – Eve of the Daleks

As we hurtle towards 13’s incoming regeneration, the Doctor gets stuck in a time loop with Aisling Bea, Adjani Salmon and some Daleks in the entertainingly done Eve of the Daleks

“Is it a toxic, hazardous or radioactive board game?”

The first of three Doctor Who specials to take us up to Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall’s departure from the show, Eve of the Daleks proved to be one of my favourite festive specials of recent times. Mainly, it has to be said, because there wasn’t anything particularly festive shoehorned into the story, it was just a tightly scripted (mostly) standalone episode that didn’t let itself get too bogged down in series lore or seasonal schmaltz.

Ironically, at the end of Flux I was sure I wanted a proper investigation of the consequences of so much of the universe having been destroyed but apparently I could do just fine without it. Instead, this almost-bottle episode made a virtue of the Covid restrictions it was clearly filmed under by minimising cast and locations and digging into some fairly deep emotional stuff. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who – Eve of the Daleks”

TV Review: Doctor Who Flux (Series 13)

Opting for a miniseries for Series 13 of Doctor Who certainly changes up the pace well, as Flux comes to a breathless end with some great work by Jodie Whittaker

“Do you think running will help?”

And so the end begins for Jodie Whittaker, and for Chris Chibnall. The 13th Doctor and her showrunner had a three-series-and-out deal which they are honouring and so this final season – a miniseries called Flux and three specials – will take us up to the centenary of the BBC in late 2022 and the regeneration of the Time Lord into…well, whoever the returning Russell T Davies decides.

One might have thought opting for the ostensibly more focused notion of a miniseries, of one overarching story stripped over six episodes, would have made Flux a simpler affair than the last few series of Doctor Who but Chibnall clearly had other plans. But having reached the end, I’d say that it was a good deal more fun than anticipated, a full-on caper merely teasing traumatic revelations about the Doctor’s selves rather diving full on into the morass of series lore. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Flux (Series 13)”

TV Review: Doctor Who Flux Episode 1

The end begins… Jodie Whittaker’s final full season as Doctor Who starts with ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’, episode 1 of Flux

“Synchronize watches. Forget that: I’m not wearing a watch”

There’s perhaps something a little awry when news of a show’s new showrunner overtakes the show itself but such is the way of the Doctor Who discourse. Russell T Davies coming back to the show is undoubtedly a huge development but it does feel a bit of a shame that this was announced before Jodie Whittaker at least got to start her final series in the TARDIS. But whaddya gonna do?

For Series 13, Chris Chibnall has opted to shake up the model and so we’re being given Flux, a six-part single story ahead of a handful of specials next year which will lead to Whittaker’s departure. This era has been, not necessarily hit and miss for me but something less than essential, though I think that it is perhaps as much me growing apart from Doctor Who a touch, something that actually started in the Capaldi era. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Flux Episode 1”

Review: Doctor Who – Time Fracture

It’s the end of the universe – so of course Doctor Who – Time Fracture is utterly chaotic. It is also rather good fun.

“The gateway is active”

Time Fracture isn’t the first time Doctor Who has ventured into the world of immersive theatre. Punchdrunk’s The Crash of the Elysium was a triumph a decade ago so it’s about time (and relative dimension in space) that we got another and fresh from the success of their Gatsby experience, Immersive Everywhere have launched this huge new immersive endeavour. A time bomb has been dropped in 1940s London but its cataclysmic explosion is only due in the near future. Only us – a team of volunteers recruited by the Doctor – can save the day – sonic screwdrivers at the ready.

The need for #spoilers means that I can’t give too much away but the show takes full advantage of the cracks in time caused by the bomb falling to offer up vignettes that involve major historical figures, explore far-future technological innovation and nod to the rich and varied legacy of Doctor Who and its iconic characters. I can safely say I had two properly wish-I-could-hide-behind-the-sofa moments – one of which is ingeniously staged late on – and two hairs-on-end moments, one of which reconfirming just how brilliant Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who – Time Fracture”

TV Review: Broadchurch Series 3

The final chapter of Broadchurch proves to be a little bit underwhelming, despite excellently harrowing work from Julie Hesmondhalgh

“I think you should say sorry to Brian”

Folklore declares that Chris Chibnall always intended Broadchurch to be a trilogy but it kinda feels hard to believe that while watching Series 3. Series 2 had already lost a little of the magic that made Series 1 so essential, diluting the focus on the murder of Danny Latimer and as we move three years on for this new series, that case naturally recedes even further into the backdrop.

Which is all fine and good for a continuing drama but for something billed as the final chapter, it’s an odd choice as it means that the focus is now on a completely separate sexual assault case. And as so many of the supporting characters that helped to build the sterling community feel that marked Broadchurch out are now MIA – we’re in a ‘different’ part of town now – it just feels so separate. Continue reading “TV Review: Broadchurch Series 3”

TV Review: Broadchurch, Series 2

A return to Broadchurch isn’t quite as effective, as Series 2 broadens the canvas to another mystery rather than just focusing on the ramifications of Danny Latimer’s case

“Look what these men have done to us” “None of us have got anything left to hife”

As a continuation of the traumatic unfoldings of the first season, Series 2 of Chris Chibnall’s runaway hit series Broadchurch continues its excellent work. We rejoin the picturesque coastal Dorset town a few months down the line with the court case against Joe Miller about to start and rather brilliantly, it soon pulls the rug from us as he pleads not guilty to the murder of Danny Latimer. 

And so the revelations of the case are rehashed, old suspicions reignited and new ones stoked, and a gripping legal thriller emerges. Excellent casting choices make this fly as we’re treated to Charlotte Rampling and Marianne Jean-Baptiste duelling in court under Meera Syal’s jurisdiction. And Matthew Gravelle’s near-wordless performance as the accused is so very well done, as he comes under the glare of the community as they come to either take the stand or watch the trial. Continue reading “TV Review: Broadchurch, Series 2”

TV Review: Broadchurch, Series 1

Rewatching Series 1 of Broadchurch for the first time reminds just how good a TV show it was 

“I’ve got a Google alert on ‘Broadchurch’ and ‘death'”

I’m not sure what drew me back to rewatching Broadchurch but I’m sure glad I did, as I’d forgotten just how very good it is. Chris Chibnall’s murder mystery reveals itself as so much more, a depiction of the way a community is shattered by the death of a child and the waves of suspicion that emanates from it.

Series 1 centres on the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer in the small coastal town of Broadchurch, perched on the Dorset cliffs, where Alec Hardy has just been appointed DI. His rival for the post was DS Ellie Miller but as the Millers and the Latimers are good friends and neighbours, her connection to the case is painfully personal. Continue reading “TV Review: Broadchurch, Series 1”

News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced three new filmed productions have been added to its streaming service National Theatre at Homeincluding Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika, Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse)’s multi-award-winning production of Tony Kushner’s two-part masterpiece, with a cast including Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Denise Gough (Paula), Nathan Lane (American Crime Story), James McArdle (Ammonite), Susan Brown (It’s A Sin) and Russell Tovey (Years and Years). Continue reading “News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home”

TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks

Teed up as the big farewell for two companions, Revolution of the Daleks was still a treat as Doctor Who returned to the festive schedule

“Sometimes we get a bit scared cos new can be a bit scary, right?”

Just a quickie for this perennial favourite. Doctor Who was quite lucky in that they got their Christmas episode in the can in good time pre-pandemic, it was actually filmed back in 2019 when Covid was but a Chinese whisper. And the way of these things as they are these days, we already knew that Revolution of the Daleks would mark the end of the TARDIS journeys for two of her current companions – would we get an Adric-style death to take us into 2021?

Spoiler alert, of course not. Ryan and Graham got to go back to Sheffield no problem, complete with psychic paper mementos, and even Sharon D Clarke’s Grace came back to welcome them home, well her ghost did at least. Dramatically it might not have been the punchiest way to go but in the end, it felt like the right thing to do , reflecting the relative normality of the ‘fam’ and their inter-relationships. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks”