Who Is The New Doctor?

In the year 2017, Doctor Who enjoys  somewhat unique place in popular culture. Since being created in 1963 as an educational programme using time travel as a means to explore scientific ideas and famous moments in history. Since then, the show has become arguably one of the biggest in the world.

And at the centre of it all is The Doctor, a renegade time-lord from the plane Gallifrey who travels the universe righting wrongs and tackling some of the most terrifying villains that can be put on at tea-time.

And a nifty idea that has become central to show is that the central character can regenerate. Basically, every few years when the actor playing The Doctor desires to try to escape so they don’t get typecast as The Doctor (and good luck to them with that) the character gets ‘killed off’ and comes back as a new character with the same name and identity but with a slightly different personality.

And until the 16th of July 2017, that main role had always gone to a white man. And all of that changed when, after an inevitable win at Wimbledon for Roger Ferder for a record breaking 8th time we were shown our first glimpse of the new Doctor.

Jodie Whittaker.

Which was followed by several inevitable reactions. Twitter exploded with people claiming that it was ‘about time’ and that it was going to be amazing for the show and it’s dynamics. The second was how PC this move was and how it was going to kill the show and how they would never watch it again. Because it was unrealistic that a two hearted time travelling alien could become a woman.

I had a slightly different question.

Who the hell is Jodie Whittaker?

One quick dive to IMDB and Wikipedia told me that she’s worked fairly solidly for years, bubbling away just below the surface.

She was the main character in cult classic Attack the Block (which is pretty much an episode of Doctor Who anyway), as well as appearing in television shows  Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008), Wired (2008), Return to Cranford (2009), and of course, the absolutely fantastic Broadchurch, where she played Beth Latimer for 24 episodes.

And despite the fact that I’ve actually had to research who the new Doctor is, I don’t really have any concerns over Whittaker. People forget that Matt Smith was virtually unheard of and the IMDB message boards exploded with claims that he was too young and that he was going to ruin the show. Capaldi was primarily known for playing Malcolm Tucker in satire The Thick of It. And David Tennant wasn’t exactly a household name either.

I don’t care that the new Doctor is a woman either. The writing for that has been on the wall for a while. Although I was defiantly team Tilda Swinton I do think this well respected, talented actress should be given a fair shake at the role.

No, if i’m angry about anything at all it’s the way that the BBC told us about this new Doctor.

You see, Capaldi and Smith had hour long TV shows dedicated to who on Earth they were, what kind of Doctor they were going to be and how excited they were to step into the role, so on and so forth.

But for Whittaker? And unveiling arguably the biggest casting decision of this year? After all, the Whovians were pretty much the only fanbase not declaring with one voice that only Tom Hardy was acceptable in the lead role and eager for anyone that wasn’t Kris Marshall to take the role and how does the BBC tell the world?

A 60 second advert after the Wimbledon mens finals.

Not a teaser trailer, not an advert showing us the new Doctor and then telling us to watch at 6.15 whereupon we would be given more information, hell, there wasn’t even a single word of dialogue.

She simply walked through some woods in little blue riding hoods old cloak, had a key materialize in her hand, look at the camera and that was it. For such a huge casting decision that was all we got.

It was pathetic.

Mind you, it probably added a fair few million to the viewing figures for about ten minutes. And I seriously hope the BBC does better with the new series.

But what do you think about the new casting?

This Is No Laughing Matter

Maybe it’s time that we admitted that we aren’t terribly good at this democracy malarkey? I mean, as a nation we’ve never been entirely comfortable with it. We do have an elected house of commons but it’s ‘assisted’ by Sir Humphrey Appleby and then overseen by the un-elected House of Lords and then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. Thus making sure that the grubby working class can’t spoil a good thing.

We’ve had hints of this before, there was the inexplicable success of Simon Cowell, the never ending succession of low grade reality TV shows where you can ‘vote to save your favorite’ Z-lister from eviction. And, as seen above- this is the type of democracy that the British understand.

Because, well, when the British public is trusted to actually do something that matters- they tend to blow it rather amazingly. And we got more proof of this theory today.

Backstory

The Radio Times is a magazine that does TV listings and as such is mostly read by my Nan. And for reasons known best to itself decided to do a poll of the British best sitcom of the 21st century. 14’000 people voted and the one that they picked as a winner? Oh boy.

To say that Mrs. Browns Boys is disliked by critics is to under-estimate the loathing that it generates. With one critic describing it as “the worst comedy ever made.” And that’s one of the few quotes that I can put here. I was made to endure about 5 minutes of it once and I laughed more the last time my girlfriend told me that “We need to talk.”

But on the other hand, there wasn’t a whole lot of other comedies on the list that have me splitting my sides. What Miranda (Number 8) is doing being described as a comedy has always alluded me.

But as my jaded eye scanned the list, I became aware of how poor most of the offerings were. Last millennium we offered the world Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Only Fools And Horses and the greatest political satire ever- Yes Minister/ Yes Prime Minister. 

And in this new Millenium, the best we have to offer is a man in drag, pretending that his wife is his daughter and without enough professionalism to do another take when things go wrong. It inevitable got a movie which was slaughtered by critics but did well enough to generate sequel hype. Happily though, Brexit has put a stop to this nonsense.

Still, at least it kept the inexplicably popular Ricky Gervais ‘comedy’ The Office off of the top spot.

But what do you guys think?

 

The top 20 comedies

1 – Mrs Brown’s Boys, BBC One (started 2011)

2 – The Office, BBC Two (2001)

3 – Peter Kay’s Car Share, BBC One (2015)

4 – Count Arthur Strong, BBC Two (2013)

5 – The IT Crowd, C4 (2006)

6 – The Thick Of It, BBC Four (2005)

7 – Gavin & Stacey, BBC Three (2007)

8 – Miranda, BBC Two (2009)

9 – Raised By Wolves, C4 (2015)

10 – Outnumbered, BBC One (2007)

11 – Peep Show, C4 (2003)

12 – Black Books, C4 (2000)

13 – Green Wing, C4 (2003)

14 – The Inbetweeners, C4 (2008)

15 – Bad Education, BBC Three (2012)

16 – Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, C4 (2001)

17 – Yonderland, Sky1 (2013)

18 – Twenty Twelve/W1A, BBC Two (2011)

19 – Benidorm, ITV (2007)

20 – Detectorists, BBC Four (2014)

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Review

I was never really into the TV show when it was on during the early 90’s. As far as I could work out it was about two drunk women and a child that desperately needed to be taken into care as quickly as possible.

But it did run for six seasons and several ‘adults’ I know claim to find it funny so what do I know?

And then finally in 2016, after almost 20 years of trying, Absolutely Fabulous   was brought to the big screen ‘for the proper send off it deserves’ and …

It’s Absolutely Awful darling.

Let me clear from the off that this isn’t really my type of film. Myself, much life the other 3 men (out of an audience numbering nearly 30) came out looking dazed, confused and wondering what exactly we had just witnessed.

Even the target audience didn’t seem to like it. Deathly silence with the occasional chuckle was all that occurred in my screening. The ‘plot’ of the two main characters seemingly killing Kate Moss and then fleeing to the south of France seemed to vanish about two thirds of the way in. Most of this ‘film’ seemed to be about stuffing as many names from the world of fashion and British bottom feeders who had an afternoon free into its bulging, pulsating mass as possible- irrespective of whether they helped the plot at all. And yes, i’m including the frankly inexplicably popular Rebel Wilson as well.

The film seemed to be being made up as it went along, with several characters (read, all of them) who I would have happily thrown in the Thames myself.

Was it meant to be a satire on the world of fashion? Then it had no teeth.

Two old women who don’t care about social norms aging disgracefully? Then why did it feel so tame?

Putting two BBC films in my bottom ten this year is going to make some Daily Mail reader very happy but I don’t care.

This.. thing is a waste of time, effort money and resources. It was a comedy that didn’t make me laugh. A send of that felt out of time somehow. A TV episode that had gotten lost and found its way onto the silver screen. In short?

My Score-Fire

Is House of Cards Out Of Date?

I’m nearing the end of this season of House of Cards (review pending) and whilst i’m still enjoying it, it just seems a bit… tired.

I loved the first series, the way it felt like a Shakespearean tragedy with a heavy handing of black humor, it’s constant fourth-wall breaks and all round amazing acting.

And it still has all of those things, except it lost a lot of its humor and the the fourth-wall isn’t broken nearly enough for my tastes. Also, it’s beginning to feel increasingly staged and theatrical, with immaculately dressed people in bland, anonymous rooms making speeches, backstabbing, wheeling and dealing is nothing we haven’t seen them do before.

And also, in the age of Donald Trump politics, it seems, well, old fashioned. People making deals, treating each other with some degree of respect, no penis measuring contests! It feels like Downton Abbey trying it’s hand at politics.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an amazing show, with more ingenuity and style than over 99% of other offerings, but it feels like a one trick pony that keeps being asked to do it again but slightly different.

Allegedly, there are plans to make over another 10 series of this show, which I do hope is someone letting their ideas run away with them. Especially as each series allegedly costs 100 million dollars to make. (How? I have no idea. Maybe they need to keep replacing all the sets that Kevin Spacey keeps chewing through)

What do you guy think?

Dad’s Army Review

Cast

Credited cast:
Catherine Zeta-Jones Catherine Zeta-Jones
Rose Winters
Bill Nighy Bill Nighy
Toby Jones Toby Jones
Michael Gambon Michael Gambon
Tom Courtenay Tom Courtenay
Mark Gatiss Mark Gatiss
Colonel Theakes
Blake Harrison Blake Harrison
Sarah Lancashire Sarah Lancashire
Daniel Mays Daniel Mays

Plot- The Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon deal with a visiting female journalist and a German spy as World War II draws to its conclusion.

Review- Who do you think you are kidding Universal, if think this is what people want?

Critics are the boys who will stop your little game, 

We are the boys who will make you think again!

‘Cause who do you think you are kidding Universal

If think this is good enough!

Sorry.

I just really, really, really, didn’t like this one.

This film is based upon legendary sitcom Dad’s Army (13th best British TV show and 4th best British Sitcom of all time) which, despite finishing in 1977 is still shown and beloved around them world.

But, i’m not going to compare a 100 minute film to a 30 minute sitcom.

Because that would be stupid.

Because the sitcom was actually funny.

And it had a cast with chemistry-who actually wanted to be there, and it was funny, and plots that actually started before 2 thirds of the way through the episodes, and distinct characters, and was funny.

And did I mention that the sitcom was actually !”~@!”!! funny?

Ok, ok, no film is without positives and in this case….. It’s nice to see Catherine Zeta Jones getting work? And it had the decency not to sequel bait.

Most of the cast appear to be operating on the idea that they don’t have to bother with that whole ‘acting’ thing in order to make this thing work except Bill Nighy, who seems to be under the impression that his character was supposed to be played by Colin Firth.

The plot doesn’t get started until two thirds of the way through the movie and the gunfight at the end merely seemed to exist to wake the audience up.

Skip this mess and go watch a few episodes of the TV show instead.

(Note- Did you know that one of the stars of the original TV show is the Great Uncle of Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley?)

MY Score= Fire 

 

What On Earth Is… Dad’s Army?

In 1940, fearing a Nazi invasion, the British Government created the “Local Defense Volunteers” (later re-named The Home Guard) to assist the Army by slowing down the advance of the enemy, even if only for a few hours, thus allowing the regular forces time to regroup.

It consisted of some 1.5 million volunteers who either to young, old, or unable to serve as they were in ‘reserved occupations’. This quickly earned the home guard the nickname ‘Dads Army.’ Although poorly trained and equipped the Home Guard shot down numerous Luftwafe flying aircraft and Rocket bombs and were also trained in guerrilla warfare should an invasion occur.

The Home Guard lost 1206 members on duty to air and rocket attacks.

Although formally stood down on 3 December 1944  the Home Guard was revived between 1951-57 to help combat the threat from the Soviet Union and again from 1982-1993.

However, in 1968, the Home Guard was transformed into a situation comedy by writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

Utilizing the wartime nickname of ‘Dads Army’ the show ran for 9 series (consisting of 80 episodes, 3 of which are now considered ‘lost.’), it was also turned into a state show, radio series and has been turned into two feature films. One released in 1971 and another to be released in February 2016. The show is still aired around the world and was voted the 4th best sitcom in history in 2004 (losing out to Only Fools and Horses) and the 13th ‘Greatest British Television Program’ in 2000 (losing out to Fawlty Towers.) It’s theme song and catchphrases are still popular today and the show is nostalgically popular although historically dubious in its portrayal of the lives of the Home Guard.

Set in the fictional town of Walmington-on-sea, Dad’s Army revolved around the exploits of Captain George Mainwaring a pompous, brave and incredibly patriotic bank manager who is aided and abetted by his platoon of mostly elderly volunteers who are determined to do their bit. They know that as a seaside town, they will be on the front line of any future Nazi invasion.

However, the Nazis appeared only sporadically and most of the episodes revolved around the platoon being in conflict with Air Raid Precautions Warden Hodges, the Verger of the local church and Captain Square of the neighboring Eastgate Home Guard Platoon.

The humor ranges from slapstick (mostly provided by elderly Butcher Jack Jones) to subtle (especially in the class reversed relationship between Mainwaring and Wilson who is his deputy at both work and the Home Guard.)

The show is still reliably funny, with a certain timelessness to it and I highly recommend watching a few episodes (especially Season 6 Episode 1 ‘The Deadly Attachment’ where the platoon have to guard a real captured U-Boat crew.) Although there is a certain darkness due to the fact that that the platoon know that in the event of an invasion they will be expected to lay down their lives purely as a delaying tactic.

“It’ll probably be the end of us, but we’re ready for that, aren’t we, men?”, says Mainwaring. “Of course”, replies Frazer.

Will the upcoming film be true to this much loved institutions or will it just be a cheap cash in on a familiar name?

Only time will tell.

The Lobster Review

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Cast

Plot- In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

Review- I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since I found out about it in the middle of August simply because it has the most unique premise I think I’ve ever heard. And in the hands of someone like Kafka or even the Monty Python this could have been an inspiring, hysterical satire on modern dating culture. Instead its Equilibrium as a rom-com.

There’s an amazing short film in this idea, because as a full length film, its a bizarre, wonderful, slow-moving, failure.

And I do mean slow, I’ve seen glaciers that move faster than this film. It feels desperately padded and towards the end I was defiantly checking my watch more than I should have been.

The film never explains how this world came into being, why everybody has suppressed their emotions and whilst there is about five seconds as to how single people are transformed into animals, it never explains if the person retains their memories and identity afterwards, something that would have added to the film.

Another problem, if a film is meant to have bland dialogue and characters intentionally reduced to being defined by one characteristic (a limp, a stutter, being short sighted etc.) Can I then criticism it for having woeful dialogue and poorly defined characters with the charisma and energy of a magnolia painted wall? Yes, yes I can.

One thing I can absolutely dislike is Rachel Weisz’s attempt at narration, it’s intrusive, sounds like she needs to take a step back from the microphone, delivers information that we have already either worked out or seen for ourselves and even ruins some scenes.

Another thing I can comment on, is the music, mostly because I think the conductor got confused and thought he was doing the soundtrack for a horror film. In scenes that should be quiet and subtle, we can hear an orchestra working itself into a complete lather over nothing at all.

And, on researching for this review, I found out that despite being filmed pretty much entirely in and around one hotel in Ireland, it managed to get money from the Greek Film fund?

And yet…

Despite the numerous flaws with this film, it’s stuck with me. Unlike many other films, i’m going to keep thinking about it after I post this, what would I be? How did this world happen? How dId the Loners happen? Why is there an award for the best dog, (called appropriately enough the Palm dog when Yoda was denied an Oscar Nomination?

Slow, pondering, slow, poorly explained, slow and with appalling narration, The Lobster might be the most interesting date movie ever.

My Rating- If Nothing Else