Tuesday 29 June 2010

Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang ( review with spoilers )

The end of the series. The end of the universe. The end of my increasingly late reviews. ( For now. )

Steven Moffat draws all the strands of his complex arc plot together ( well, most of them ) and delivers a dazzling, exciting and emotional finale. Two episodes that give the loyal viewers what they deserve: a terrifying threat to the universe, some truly epic visuals, moments of high drama for the regular cast, a satisfyingly complex story, and River Song in very tight leggings.

Via an amusingly absurd, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey message from the dawn of the universe, the Doctor and Amy are drawn to Roman-conquest era Britain, and to the Pandorica itself, buried under Stonehenge. After some wonderful moments which reference Indiana Jones ( the Pandorica's chamber ) and The Thing ( ancient Cyber-technology on the attack! ) we discover that the Doc's been tricked by a Secret Society Of Who Villains into a trap from which he can never escape, fashioned from Amy's memories. Poor old Rory, who has "died" a few times already, is brought back for a touching reunion, only to be revealed as a deep-cover Auton who kills Amy just as she remembers him. The Doctor is dragged into the Pandorica, as the assembled hordes of Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon, etc. etc. look smugly on, ignoring his cries that only he can save the universe from non-existence. The only person who could possibly save the day is River, but she's trapped in the Doc's Tardis, just as it explodes. So, basically.....
end of the universe.....

..... not quite. The second part of the story is less of a sugar-rush of huge moments, but smaller and more personal in scale. As far as any story about the death of the universe and a second Big Bang could be called "smaller scale".

The universe has gone. All that remains is the Earth, a small dot in the infinite darkness. Young Amelia Pond spends a Night At The Museum, where she discovers fossilised Daleks and the legendary Pandorica. Which opens to reveal..... Amy Pond?

"OK kid, this is where it gets complicated."

The Doctor has escaped from the Pandorica with the help of Plastic Rory, young Amelia and a total disregard for the laws of cause and effect, which can obviously only be bypassed when the timelines are crashing, the universe is shrinking, and the writer has a deadline to meet. There's also a mop, a soft drink and a fez involved ( a fez? ) but thinking about all that just gives me a headache.

The Doctor plans to reboot the universe by using the Pandorica's "Restoration Field", powered by that exploding Tardis. But first he has to get the time-loop-trapped River out of said blue box, which is exploding. In space. Oh yeah, and the Restoration Field has a habit of rebooting fossilised Daleks too, which doesn't help. Of course the Doctor manages to save the universe and set it back on track, but at the cost of deleting himself from history. He must stay behind that bloody crack in time for it all to work. ( Sorry about that "bloody crack" phrase. Ouch! )

Matt Smith has some truly wonderful scenes as the Doctor sees his life rewinding when the timelines are reconfigured. He tells young Amelia a bedtime story about the Raggedy Doctor, "the daft old man who stole a magic box".

"When you wake up you'll have a mum and dad, and you won't even remember me. Well, you'll remember me a little. I'll be a story in your head. That's OK - we're all stories in the end."

We finally get to see Amy and Rory's wedding. All her family and friends are there, yet someone's missing. With a little help from River's Diary ( Spoilers! ) Amy remembers who ( or Who ) and calls him back to reality, for a spot of post-wedding dad-dancing. And the fairytale that is Season Five / Thirty-One / Fnarg comes to an end with a fairytale happy ending: the prince and princess say "Goodbye" to their old lives and run away with the strangely young-looking old wizard, for more adventures in ( and out of ) his magic box.

Five Bow Ties Out Of Five.
Five Fezes out of Five. ( "Fezes?" What is the plural of "fez"? )

Sunday 27 June 2010

Chinese Burn ( Wheatsheaf gig 26/06/10 )

Last night Sarah and I went to see the mighty Chinese Burn in action at the Wheatsheaf pub in Cheltenham. Hardly the rock 'n' roll centre of the universe, but a decent little venue with a good sound system and a nice beer garden outside.

After all the stress and worry of recent weeks it was good to go out for a few drinks with mates and watch some of yer actual Punk Rock. Chinese Burn were on top form, banging out old favourites like Defending Stalingrad, Shut Your Mouth and You Can Never Be Sure, along with the controversially-titled I Wonder Who's F***ing Her Now? ( One for the mums and dads in the audience! )

So, all good fun, but quite a short set - a couple more songs would have been good. Maybe next time, lads?

The headliners were Noise Agents, a street punk/ Oi! outfit, formed from the ashes of legendary Gloucester band Demob. They play a very basic, shouty, Cockney Rejects-type racket, which I would probably have loved when I was about 14, but which sounds a bit old and sad nowadays. My mate Glenn tells me they're very nice guys, so good luck to them anyway.

We made a sharp exit after a couple of NA songs and went for a Chinese ( takeaway not Burn ) before heading home. A top night out and something we definitely needed.

Friday 25 June 2010

Antoni Gaudi

To celebrate the birthday ( in 1852 ) of the great Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi, here are some of our photos of Gaudi's Parc Guell, taken in 2008. This beautiful space with its fairytale architecture and fantastic views over the city is a definite must for any trip to Barcelona. Sophie's going back there on a school trip in October, and we're all going to try and squeeze into her suitcase. Shouldn't be a problem :-)

For more Barcelona pictures see here, here and here.

Wednesday 23 June 2010


Pete ( 2nd Feb 1931 to 6th Dec 1995 ) and Marlene ( 4th May 1934 to 10th June 2010 )

Saturday 19 June 2010

Tonight the Pandorica opens.....

"There was a goblin.

"Or a trickster,

"Or a warrior.

"A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies.

"The most feared being in all the cosmos."

"Nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it - one day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world!"

So, my best guess for the occupant of the Pandorica ( "A box, a cage, a prison" ) is.....
drumroll please.....

The Doctor himself. ( And probably not Bonnie Langford. )
To all the Doctor's foes, who seem to be massing in their thousands around the Earth, according to the Next Time trailer, the Doctor himself is all the things mentioned above. Steven Moffat has said that this story will show us the only way the Doctor could fall, and all his world will crash down on his head. We'll discover his fate tonight. The Pandorica is waiting for him.....

( Of course if I'm wrong and the Pandorica turns out to contain the Taran Wood Beast or a Mandrell I'll deny I ever wrote this post. )

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Doctor Who: The Lodger ( review with spoilers )

This week's incredibly late Doctor Who review asks the question "Would you want this oddball as your room-mate?"

He thinks football is played with sticks, has an inappropriate penchant for air-kissing, carries wads of £20 notes in a carrier-bag and builds strange "art installations" in his bedroom. He doesn't even have a real name - just "the Doctor" - and introduces himself as
"Less of a young professional, more of an ancient amateur. But frankly I'm an absolute dream."

Just don't call him the rot-meister.....

Gareth Roberts' newest Who confection is a fun, if lightweight, episode which revolves around a sweet love story between Craig ( a surprisingly likeable James Corden ) and Sophie ( the quirkily lovely Daisy Haggard ) , two unfulfilled twenty-somethings who find that their lack of direction isn't as scary as "some bloke" in the flat above. He turns out to be the latest "automatic alien computer-programme which routinely kills humans" and is a relatively lame menace, assisted only by some Psycho-esque music and a spooky silhouette.

This story is the most "domestic" Who episode we've seen since Season Two's Fear Her, but is much better than that dreary non-event. Roberts' dialogue is reliably funny, the 3 lead characters are warm and believable, and we get to see the Blue Peter competition winner's alternative Tardis. Not sure about all the head-butting though.....

Matt Smith's Doctor is as fantastic as usual: cooking Craig the best omelette ever, rewiring the flat while Craig and Sophie try to "destroy their friendship", showing off his football skills, talking to cats, and looking childishly overjoyed at the prospect of living a normal life. Unfortunately, Amy's sidelined in this episode - reduced to stumbling around the time-loop-locked Tardis and shouting for the Doctor. This will obviously be rectified next Saturday when the season-long arc plot ( hopefully ) pays off, and the Pandorica opens.....

Three Out of Five Bow Ties.

Sunday 13 June 2010

All you good, good people

I'd just like to thank all you lovely people out there in the blogosphere who have sent me so many kind messages lately. I really do appreciate your support in these tough times.



A belated welcome to new Follower, the Cryptic Critic, from Spider-Man Reviewed, a comprehensive overview of Spidey's career from Amazing Fantasy #15 up to Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #1. This really is a great blog, with tons of insightful comments into our wall-crawling hero's life, loves and battles. Typically for me I've discovered this blog as it's coming to and end ( I did the same with the wonderful Dial B For Blog ) but I recommend it to any Spider-fans out there. Get caught in its web!

Thursday 10 June 2010

A very sad day.....

We've lost my wonderful Mum today, the kindest, loveliest mother anyone could ever have.

RIP Marlene.
We all love you so much. You've earned your rest from that terrible disease, sleep well.....

Monday 7 June 2010

Doctor Who: Vincent And The Doctor ( review with spoilers )

Yet another unfashionably late mini-review.....

"It seems to me that there's so much more to the world than the average eye is allowed to see. I believe, if you look hard, there are more wonders in this universe than you could ever have dreamed of."

The Doctor and Amy take a trip back in time to 19th century Provence, where they meet yokels with improbable West Country accents, an invisible monster with an improbable haircut, and the world's greatest painter with an improbable Scottish accent. So is the episode any good? Probably.....

I'm just messing with you :-)
Vincent And The Doctor is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and emotionally draining episode. The chemistry between the three leading actors is a joy to behold, with Tony Curran's performance as vibrant but vulnerable Vincent a definite series highlight. The Croatian backdrops are exquisite, all cornfields and orange groves and swirling Van Gogh skies. While not being a fan of Richard Curtis' work over the last decade or so, I have to admit the script is fantastic - witty and scary and not afraid to confront the very adult theme of manic depression: brave indeed for a "kids' show".

Just time for two more things: the mention of poor old Rory was subtle and sad, and Bill Nighy gave us a masterclass in how to turn a cameo appearance into a showstopper.

Five Out Of Five Bow Ties. ( "Bow ties are cool." )


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