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Reviews By TCar96
# Reviews:
46
# Ratings:
207
Avg Rating:
7

Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
4
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 2/25/17 11:30 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

A real irritation... after complaining about the ethical quagmire at the end of Zygon Who Fell To Earth not being addressed with any dramatic depth, a few weeks later I found myself tearing up as the consequences are carried through to one of the most emotionally crippling companion departures in all of Doctor Who.

Without spoiling the story, the Doctor and Lucie following Worldwide Web get to Blackpool only to bump back into Auntie Pat. There's an interesting spin on a classic who monster, played with genuine menace - but to focus on the plot mechanics would not only spoil the story, but also get the focus completely wrong.

As has been written far more eloquently by other reviewers, the sci-fi plot is simply a framework to hang on the drama. After putting up with 'arcs' in New Who, it's a real gut punch to see a perfectly executed culmination to a companion relationship - make no mistakes, this isn't a case of following through on the odd line of foreshadowing, the entire thing organically follows Lucie and the Doctor's relationship from Blood of the Daleks.

There's excellent direction and superlative performances all round, but that's no different to any New Who departure. What sets Death in Blackpool apart is the self-restraint. There's the odd point where the serial pivots and twists, sure, but there's no stop-start as we've seen with Clara, the Ponds, Rose... Donna... come to think of it - all new who. Obviously, from CD covers I'm aware Lucie will pop up in future releases (assume this serial is being told with the same chronology of Six and Evelyn), but there's a sense of finality in Death in Blackpool which TV viewers rarely get.

Despite all the gushing praise, I'd hold off a perfect 10. To get to the drama there's some rapid exposition and taking place mostly in a hospital, there's little scope for interesting vistas. Granted - this is to maximise the dramatic weight and I certainly wouldn't want it any other way, but it just left me feeling a bit rushed in parts. Furthermore, the comic relief for me just didn't work. In an irritating trend, he seems indicative of Big Finish's direction and scripting of anybody from North of Birmingham: comically thick accents and Alan Bennettisms left right and centre.

On the whole, a brave and bold sendoff for a great companion. Whilst I've missed other companions more or found departures more tear-jerking - its often been down to personal preferences or melodramatic direction and music (Nyssa & Amy respectively). Death in Blackpool on the otherhand, whilst weak in the story department, handles the departure in particular with more weight, and fulfilling use of character arcs from across the last three seasons than any other I can care to remember. A tremendous accomplishment.

Do not listen in public - you will tear up.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 2/9/17 10:42 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

One gorgeous serial - and a real gem that I was delighted to find I'd missed.

It's as another reviewer noted, a straight-forward traditional historical. The Doctor, Susan, Ian & Barbara find themselves in the Reign of Terror and gradually become embroiled in an exponential web of revolutionary turmoil. As the serial progresses we transition from comic scenes in rural France to ever violent and grandiose plot points - perfect storytelling! There's a genuine sense of things becoming ever more anarchic and claustrophobic and without hyperbole, I was finding myself recalling The Lives of Others. Maybe one day, my dream series of new who would dare to tackle a similair serial with regards to the Soviet Union!

It's certainly a valid critique that this leads to a relatively plot-less serial where our characters wander through events without much agency. That said, I particularly enjoy this in my Doctor Who - less huge pivotal moments (absurd given the 60's limitations) and more subtle atmosphere. I was reminded also of Big Finish's Other Lives, another comparison of praise! We meet a wide range of characters and explore various locales. One of my two gripes would be that in the fourth and fifth serial the dynamism tends to slow down and we rinse and repeat a few sets - but for the most part there's a great variety. From Doctor Who's first location work; seedy taverns; Parisian boudoirs; dingy prison cells and a middle-class sartorium, there's enough interesting locales to keep the viewer visually hooked.

It's also a real testament to the crew how well these sets work in 1964. Highlights including a horse-drawn cart and plenty of superb lighting, often with naked candle light. Very impressive for the era and certainly a step above the tail end of the Sensorites.

Of course, I mentioned gripes. In addition to a sag in episodes 4 and 5, Susan is woefully mistreated after a cracking step forward in the Sensorites. That acknowledged, there's plenty of character development that would put 2017's Who to shame. We tackle the issue of historical agency as with the Aztecs; Barbara's sexuality is allowed breathing space, with Susan engaging; there's delightfully subtle political commentary for those looking for it and of course, the coda - one of the most heart-warming, tear-inducing, 'why-I-love-Doctor-Who' moments the show has ever produced.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
NR
Acting Rating:
NR
Replay Rating:
NR
Effects Rating:
NR
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 1/22/17 4:24 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Another reviewer, Newt, rightfully points out that going in - the Zygon who fell to earth oughtn't work on paper with its terrible premise - a Zygon (figuratively) falling to earth, before falling in love and 'going native'. Reminiscent of No More Lies, I was expecting the usual trite plot beats and a wholly unsatisfying attempt to pull at the heart strings.

What a delight that the story actually ended with my struggling to recall a more enjoyable EDA! Making the most of the shorter format, the significant other of our Zygon Trevor, is Auntie Pat from Season 1's Glam Rock. As a result we cruise straight into the story, with no messing. Its assumed we 'get' the Zygons and given the cover and title, there's no attempt to shock the audience with their introduction. Furthermore, they're played for laughs, bringing (as is discussed in the interviews) a fresh take that significantly subverts expectations, being a retelling of Terror of the Zygons.

Popping comic dialogue; solid character arcs; subverted expectations and some lovely character moments thrown in - the story taking place in the Lakes, with some borderline hokey, but utterly lovely, Wordsworthian flourishes.

There are definitely a few gripes. As I've complained often, whereas the main range often subtlety engages in political commentary or satire, the EDA's and FDA's come to think of it, engage in political moralising. It's not only irritating to see writers make the Doctor pick sides in contemporary issues the character ought to be above - but it also leads to some cringe inducing exposition, often to the detriment of plot beats or internal logic and credibility of the story. Toning down the politics of the writers really ought to be a priority of the script editors, fortunately this seems to have kicked in and isn't an issue in the more recent shorter releases (Dark Eyes, War Doctor etc.).

The ending too left me cold. After a cracking resolution - with both plot and emotional beats working together, we're given a morally and ethically uncomfortable finish. Following the 'wait - he's not dead, really!' snag, akin to the worst excesses of New Who, it's uncomfortable to ponder the ramifications of Trevor's macabre body-swapping. The extras point out the potential insofar as it places the Doctor in a real quandary, This would've been spectacular drama, but unfortunately the story runs out of time, leaving far too little time to mull over the ethics of what's just taken place.

Gripes aside, its a genuinely funny and heart warming (and breaking) little story. Well, well worth your time and a real gem of the EDA's thus far.

Just to conclude with a snipe at New Who - THIS, Zygon Invasion / Inversion, is how to tell a subversive piece of your villains having the potential to be more than simply monsters!
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 12/19/16 9:49 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

It's hard to think that Ian Briggs wrote both this and Dragonfire - it's the antipode of that serial in almost every respect: dynamic, exciting, mature and engaging.

A well textured period piece, the Doctor and Ace finding themselves amidst WWII fall into (problematic, given 'fall' implying a degree of chance - not the cunning foresight of 7!) a trap several millennia in the making...

There's a Norse mystery; military spying; multiple fulfilling character arcs and a spectacular monster invasion with the awesomely executed Haemovores. To cap it all off there's the culmination of a range of thematic and plot elements surrounding Ace. It's hard to place all of this at the pen of Briggs: Ace's maturity in particular and the weight of thematic elements all suggest a great deal of influence from Cartmel. His other trademarks: mystery, machinations and memorable moments all come to the forefront.

Unfortunately so do Cartmel's negative traits. One of by major issues (and font of praise!) of Cartmel's tenure is the political dimension of the show. Whilst a welcome addition bringing depth and some meatier sci-fi to the programme, occasionally pushing the envelope too far introduces an irritating preachy-ness that is counter-productive at best, jarring and quarrelsome at worst. Fenric really illustrates both. Reverend Wainwright is a George Bell archetype and successfully weaves in the philosophical and ethically quandary of allied carpet bombing during the war. Done with aplomb its there for us internet dwellers to sink our teeth into - but light enough to sail over the heads of those simply wanted a pacy mystery and alien invasion. The quandary is posited by one character, opposed by another. No caricature is used (ala the infamous 'no coloureds' of Remembrance). Such tact is wholly ignored however when the Red Army are introduced on screen. Thankfully, the audience is reminded that Hitler was a "dreadful man" as if we're all drooling canvasses - meanwhile we're treated to a wholly benign view of the Red Army!

This, for me, is the issue when Doctor Who gets explicitly political rather than illustrating ethical dilemmas with tact. It is the difference between political commentary and instruction. The latter, in a time-travelling drama for family audiences leads to big issues. The Red Army breaks into a British military installation - with the script and direction telling us the latter are the antagonists. British soldiers graphically murder Red Army soldiers whilst we cheer along as Ace is handed the Hammer and Sickle. For a programme that revolves around a principled hero tearing down autocracies - this is problematic, big time. The grass is only just growing over Katyn; the toll of Holodomor only just being taken into account - broadcast in October 1989 only half a year had passed since the brutal Tbilisi massacre. Having our British reverend killed in his lack of faith in Christianity - before having our Red Army soldier heroically survive through his faith in the revolution - is again, really problematic. The Doctor wouldn't, in my view at least, be 'in character' if happily allowing an einsatzgruppen to pin a swastika onto Ace. He oughtn't be accepting to happily allow a Hammer and Sickle to be pinned onto a companion either.

Besides the politics there's another Cartmel gripe to boot, namely that there's a fine line between complexity and mystery.. and just simply poor explanation. There's a repeat of my Ghost Light problem - namely to what extent do I just 'not get it'; to what extent am I expected to do the donkey work (not necessarily a bad thing!) and to what extent is the script just not cutting it. Other areas of pedantry would include the one poor effect: the chemical shells clearly some partially vacuum formed wall and that heartwretching ending - which is brushed off far too easily. After shattering Ace's faith in him, there ought to have been a monster of a credit cut with ramifications well into the next serial. A real missed opportunity.

It can't be emphasised enough however that these gripes, despite my excessively long elucidation, detract very little from what is a superb little serial. Great location work; snappy editing; a great score and some fantastic action too - with the Church fight in particular up there with the Dalek assault on Coal Hill school as one of my favourite action set-pieces. It certainly misfires on the odd occasion, but is doing so because it's really raising the bar of what Doctor Who is expected to do. A fine illustration of why the old mantra of Season 26 is wholly true. Following Remembrance, Ghost Light and Greatest Show within a matter of months - Doctor Who wasn't just finding its feet, but was embarking on a golden age tragically cut short.

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