The end of Merlin

The final episodes of the successful series do not quite manage to do Merlin justice.
When you watch a series for years you begin to develop ideas as to how you expect it to develop. Your familiarity with the characters and concept means you are able to make informed guesses as to what could happen and often you are not that far out. Of course it is better if shows do not conform to those expectations and do something completely unexpected though sometimes you feel this is not the best that the series could achieve. Merlin does just that as it comes to a close after five seasons.
Beware- if you’ve not seen it there are spoilers past here.


Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 52: Blake

Season Four Episode 13- Blake
(1981) Writer: Chris Boucher / Director: Mary Ridge 
Avon has finally tracked down Blake who is hiding out on the lawless planet of Gauda Prime. Forced to abandon the Scorpio after a crash landing, the crew struggle to survive as theirs and Blake’s paths lead to an inevitable and dramatic confrontation.
The very last episode of Blake`s 7 is shrouded in portent, whether it is the fact that we open with the Xenon base exploding or the subsequent crash landing of the Scorpio or the re-appearance of Blake himself.  The pine forests of Gauda Prime are an atmospheric place to finish in and there is a sense of imminent danger wherever we are. Long hailed as a classic in telefantasy history, `Blake` works even better if you’ve been following the series from the beginning.

"Look what two seasons of Blake's 7 did to me"


Doctor Who's scariest Xmas special ever

`The Snowmen` has more chills than thrills but is still a winter wonder
You can imagine the inside of Steven Moffat’s head is like the rush hour; ideas whizzing about in no particular order struggling for attention. Each time he writes one of these big episodes- a Xmas special, season opener or finale- it is a frantic race from start to finish which you probably need to watch at least twice to work out what is actually happening. It’s not as if the plot is that complicated- indeed `The Snowmen` has one of the most straightforward plots he’s ever written for the series. It’s just that the frenzy unfolding on screen is so relentless that any subtlety is sometimes lost amidst the cacophony. This is not to say it’s bad, far from it. At times invigorating and always interesting, `The Snowmen` is definitely a step up from last year’s Xmas episode, it’s just that if it actually stopped to develop some of the ideas it chucks about the results might be even more rewarding. It is the scariest one yet though and includes some memorable villains, a strong new companion and a dusting of continuity.

Freezing great spoilers beyond this point


Blakewatch - 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 51: Warlord

Season Four Episode 12- Warlord
(1981) Writer: Simon Masters / Director: Viktors Ritelis  
Avon has negotiated a truce between the rulers of the unaligned worlds in order to fight the federation’s suppression drugs but will the fragile alliance hold when personal issues between Tarrant and the daughter of one of the rulers become involved?
Simon Masters writes `Warlord` like it’s a feature film full of bold speeches and big gestures and even if the budget appears wafer thin at times, this does give the episode something of an epic feel. Avon appears to have come up with a less reckless idea than usual (though you wonder why none of the others never think of anything) and the opening scenes of him addressing the assembled rulers are accompanied by a bizarre video. We see people in what looks like (and probably is) a 1970s shopping precinct with numbers on their foreheads wandering around in a daze. Every so often Federation guards shoot them. It is most odd.

There would be trouble ahead when their hair became tangled


Xmas Shopping

Twelve Xmas shopping things
People can buy anything! The range of goods the shops are selling proves that people will probably buy anything at this time of year. There are things that you never otherwise see and items whose function seems obscure or even unnecessary. Best of all if there is something you have always wanted to buy but are too embarrassed then at this time of year your chance has come because you can just say it’s a present for someone!


CBBC's Leonardo in second season finale triumph

The last three episodes of season 2 of Leonardo
This CBBC series is a sort of hidden secret that a relatively small number watch but which rewards them with strong drama, great performances and striking direction. It is a children’s drama but sometimes shows inventiveness that makes it accessible to viewers of all ages. This second season concluded recently with three episodes that bring the ongoing plots together with some surprises.
The cast and crew of Leonardo are quick to hide thier sandwiches


Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 50: Orbit

Season Four Episode 11- Orbit
(1981) Writer: Robert Holmes / Director: Brian Lighthill  
The Scorpio crew respond to a message from renegade scientist Egrorian, who disappeared a decade earlier but can they trust him when he asks for Orac in exchange for the super powerful Tachyon Funnel?
Robert Holmes usually manages to fuse characters and situations more successfully than many tv sc-fi writers who often favour one above the other. `Orbit` is another delicious slice of his dialogue led drama that will not be to everyone’s taste in 2012 but which, if you look at it as you would a play, works very well. Admittedly, the plot is another variation on several others this season but that should not detract from the enjoyable delivery, a memorable guest performance from John Savident plus a final ten minutes that take the show around a surprisingly sharp corner.

Avon realises if he throws Vila into space he'll never unlock the drinks cabinet


Wizards vs Aliens: Mixed Results

Following the promising first two episodes, the debut season of Wizards vs Aliens proved to be a very mixed bag.
The second story is intended to allow us to better know both Tom and especially Benny. While their appearances conform to stereotype, it is refreshing to see that cool Tom soon becomes panicky Tom once danger is about and he has- once again- wasted his triple spell supply on trivial things. It takes a reviewer more generous than me to let the story’s menace through without at least mentioning the word `Muppet`. I know budgets are tight but there are times when we can almost see how these furry blue ankle biters are being controlled. It might be CBBC but there have been more menacing things in Tracey Beaker than these and if you want to see how to create something dangerous on a less than stellar budget have a look at Attack the Block.


Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 49: Gold

Season Four Episode 10- Gold
(1981) Writer: Colin Davis / Director: Brian Lighthill
Avon’s idea to steal millions worth of gold proves to be a cat and mouse game as his contact Keiller has plans of his own- and someone else is waiting in the wings. (Did you guess? Yes, it’s Servalan!)
You’d think by now the others would be wary of Avon when he suggests a sure thing. Once again though, they follow him into a situation which is full of potential pitfalls and then act surprised when things go wrong. This is the signature plot for season 4 but as it yields generally good results you can see why they run with it again and again. Here, the scenario is spiced up by the clever casting of Roy Kinnear as the slippery Keiller, Avon’s supposed old friend which enlivens what would otherwise be an over familiar sort of plot.

Roy was impressed when Paul produced a leather chair out of thin air


Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 48 - Sand

Season Four Episode 9- Sand
(1981) Writer: Tanith Lee / Director: Vivienne Cozens
When the Scorpio crew and the Federation converge on the planet Vern, Servalan and Tarrant find themselves trapped together. But what is the planet’s mysterious secret?
Tanith Lee’s previous B7 script `Sarcophagus`possessed a mystical angle that she utilises here and which subtle music and sound effects underscore. You sense the writer is striving for more than she ultimately delivers and the fact that we guess what is going on long before the characters robs the story of its more enigmatic side. Nonetheless it is a fulfilling episode that revels in more mature conversation and a dash of mystery.

"Give me your wig or else..."


Masterchef is the best reality show on tv!

Masterchef: The Professionals is the best reality show currently on TV
There are lots of cookery programmes in which there is a mood of bonhomie, of food being a pleasure. There is only one with the dramatic flair that can rival drama. Masterchef has three incarnations; one for the public to compete in, one for celebrities and the currently running version for professionals. What all three share is an atmosphere of highly charged, brightly lit and barely controlled panic amongst the contestants. In Masterchef:The Professionals, about to hit its semi final stage this week the atmosphere is heightened to a properly sharpened kitchen knife edge.
Neither of them would admit to eating the pie


Technical Issues

Due to ongoing technical issues with my laptop, there may be problems posting as regularly as usual and sometimes what the posts look like.

If it gets too difficult the posts will move to the Live From Mars website. Due to the general palaver, some posts may end up appearing on both.

So if the blog is quiet for more than 3 or 4 days it's worth checking  www.livefrommars.co.uk 

Hopefully normal service will be resumed sometime in January.

Thanks, John


Merlin to bow out at its peak

The news that season 5 of Merlin will be the last means the show has succesfully reached its creative destination.
Since it was announced yesterday that season 5 will be the last series of Merlin there has been speculation as to why such a successful show is being, as the news items put it “axed.”  With ratings up on the early seasons and a general critical upswing it seems on the surface to be an odd decision. Perhaps the BBC can no longer afford to make a series that has a higher budget than Doctor Who and an extensive overseas location base? Maybe some of the lead actors have refused to sign contracts for further seasons unless they get a pay increase, something that can happen on successful US shows? The truth would seem to be that the series was always planned as a five year run so instead of being cancelled before it’s time, we should instead be applauding a rare example of a show reaching the fulfilment if its creative target, a show that will bow out at an absolute peak.

The real reason for the cancellation is that Colin was not impressed by the even larger red bib he was expected to wear.


Doctor Who Special: The UNIT Picnic

To celebrate the 49th anniversary of Doctor Who, we have unearthed a previously unscreened scene buried deep in a vault somewhere. Transcribed here, you can see that the original version of the 1971 classic `The Daemons` might have been somewhat different..
A strange storm of wind and rain has descended over the picturesque English village of Devil’s End. The wind is so powerful that the local unconvincing policeman is only able to walk horizontally and the local white witch Miss Hawthorne is declaiming “Avast ye elementals!” in a very loud voice.
Sgt Benton approaches her, “Excuse me, Miss, are you a pirate?”
She looks at him as if he is mad and yells, “No, I am not a pirate young man, I am Miss Hawthorne, the local white witch.”
“Well you don’t have to shout.”
“I am trying to disperse these elemental storms, young man.”
Benton grinned; “Sorry, Miss, they aren’t storms. It’s Sergeant Osgood’s turn to make the soup. He’s used rather too much minestrone I think.”


Blakewatch: 52 weeks of Blake's 7. Week 47: Games

Season Four Episode 8- Games
(1981) Writer: Bill Lyons / Director: Vivienne Cozens
In pursuit of valuable energy generating Feldon crystals, the Scorpio crew have to deal with the wily head of the mining operation Berkov, whom nobody can trust.
 Bill Lyons seems to have a strong handle of what works and what doesn’t in this series. Keeping matters moving along, he frames the entire scenario as an elaborate game with trickery and deceit all over the place. We may smile now at the primitive – though still deadly- electronic games people have to play during the episode but remember this was made at the dawn of the computer age. Lyons does complicate things by having too many locales but this is a strident and enjoyable piece of 1980s TV.

Stratford Johns posters featured on many walls in the 70s


ITV drama Monroe is victim of poor scheduling

Put up against BBC’s most successful drama, the excellent second series of ITV’s Monroe stood no chance.
When it was announced last week that ITV has cancelled Monroe, few people were surprised but anyone who watched it would be disappointed. The fact is that the second series was never given a chance to shine. Pitted against the BBC’s New Tricks which is the corporation’s highest rated ongoing drama series, Monroe was doomed. It is a shame because the series was showing all the vital signs of growth and development and had it been screened on a different night the story could be different.

Monroe spots an ITV scheduler


CBBC's Leonardo Takes A Darker Turn

Leonardo Season 2 Episodes 7 -10
The ramifications of Piero de Medici’s acts in `Dragon Hunt` are played out in the equally strong (and  cleverly titled) `The Mask of Death`. The seventh episode plays completely differently though eschewing the adventure elements for a thriller that ends with two dead characters and our hero being tricked into agreeing to design a war machine for Piero’s planned attack on Milan. Just half a season in James Clyde has made this role his own and this proves to be the character’s finest moment yet. The comparatively trivial schemes of last season have been replaced by a real ambition to rule across Europe. What really impresses is the way the overall storyline is coming together and how Leonardo is more gullible than we imagined.
Mack and Angelica's first date does not go too well


Blakewatch- 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 46: Assassin

Season Four Episode 7- Assassin
(1981) Writer: Rod Beacham / Director: David Sullivan Proudfoot
The Scorpio crew intercept a message from Servalan revealing she has hired a notorious assassin to despatch them. Seeing this as an opportunity Avon leads them on a dangerous mission that goes badly wrong.
`Assassin` continues the general upwards trajectory of the season with Rod Beacham’s script inspiring a story of deception and trust. It could be better; almost as soon as we meet Piri, the rather too traumatised girl supposedly prisoner of Cancer the unfortunately named assassin, seasoned TV watchers will know who she is. 

"Are you William Hartnell?" "No I am not. Chesterton, mmm."


Merlin Season 5 - Growing Pains

Merlin Season 5 Episodes 3-5
When it was revealed that Uther would be making a return appearance numerous eyes rolled at the prospect because somehow fantasy does not seem capable of keeping dead characters dead. Surprisingly though, `The Death Song of Uther Pendragon` works rather well as a mood piece that also places Arthur’s kingship under the microscope while also demonstrating how Merlin has become a stronger and sometimes far more serious character.

People were slightly concerned by the backing singers


Blakewatch - 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 45: Headhunter

Season Four Episode 6- Headhunter
(1981) Writer: Roger Parkes / Director: Mary Ridge
A rendezvous with eminent scientist Muller goes awry leading to a situation that could threaten the existence of humanity.
There’s nothing like exploring the big questions and `Headhunter` does not shirk from suggesting the demise of humanity and our replacement by machines. How such a well worn but always interesting theme plays out on the show’s relatively tiny budget we’re initially unsure of. It looks as if it will be a silly looking caper yet as developments pile up it proves to be this season’s most balanced and exciting episode to date.

"I'd like to buy that head there, mate"


Plaything of Sutekh- the Doctor Who fanzine: Issue 2

Issue 2 of the acclaimed fanzine `Plaything of Sutekh` is available now featuring
Season Eighteen- When Doctor Who grew up?
Warrior’s Gate – One of the series’ most unusual stories is examined by David Rolinson.
Goodbye to Amy + Rory - The first five episodes of the latest season reviewed includes Q + A with  director Saul
TARDIS Radio – Oliver Wake on the un-transmitted 1960’s radio pilot starring Peter Cushing.
Strip for the Doctor – Richard Farrell looks at the `TV Action` and `Countdown` Doctor Who comic strips.
Plus: `Death to the Daleks` , `The Happiness Patrol`, `The Ambassadors of Death`, `The Greatest Show in the Galaxy`, `Dragonfire`
Illustrated throughout with stunning new art by Richard Farrell and Euan Mactavish
For details on how to get your copy go to www.playthingofsutekh.blogspot.co.uk
We think you’ll find it good!


James Bond Comes Home

The new James Bond film Skyfall is a tribute to both the franchise and England.
When franchises acknowledge or echo anniversaries within their fictional world it can be a sign of creative inertia but in the case of Skyfall the opposite is true. Rather than seem like a re-tread of Bond iconography Sam Mendes’ take on the venerable spy is both fresh yet faithful. Everything you might expect is there but there is more. It is becoming a bit of a cliché to declare each modern Bond atypical but Skyfall really does venture beyond in a way that few have dared. Best of all it bucks the general 2012 trend of just making things bigger; instead this is a personal mission for all concerned.
“Beware, the spoilers if you click below, 007”


Blakewatch: 52 weeks of Blake's 7. Week 44: Animals

Season Four Episode 5- Animals
(1981) Writer: Alan Prior / Director: Mary Ridge
Trapped while visiting a former teacher Dayna discovers the true nature of his genetics work and is unsure whether or not to help him.
Dayna has always seemed one of the more credible regular characters with the writers generally serving her well but it is Josette Simon that has really brought her to life. With most of the key scenes in her hands this week, she manages to make what would otherwise be a middling episode into something much more interesting. Its 18 minutes before we even see any of the others apart from Tarrant and it makes you wonder whether Dayna might have been a better choice as series lead. Enjoyable though Paul Darrow is, he does not seem very human much of the time whereas it is the element of vulnerability that Josette Simon gives Dayna that makes her a more three dimensional character.

"`Blake's 7` is on BBC1"  "Oh no, I hate that show."


Wizards vs Aliens: Is It Magic?

Russell T Davies and Phil Ford’s new children’s series Wizards vs Aliens has potential despite an uneven first adventure.
 Russell T Davies returns to the place where he started his television writing career with this new CBBC show. Born out of difficult personal and professional problems, Wizards vs Aliens gainfully employs many of the behind the scenes personnel who worked on The Sarah Jane Adventures, with which it is inevitably going to be compared. Unlike that series however, Wizards vs Aliens does not have the protection or heritage of a much loved classic parent show and must stand (or fall) solely on the basis of its own merits. This could be advantageous allowing the writers a clean sheet or it could mean lack of publicity – or even anticipation- will be problematic. Davies has stated how he had to pitch the idea far harder than SJA and it is hoped this will give the new series a rigour it might otherwise lack. As if to buffer themselves from any early doubts, two seasons worth of episodes have already been planned. On the basis of  Dawn of the Nekross`- and bearing in mind debut stories rarely personify a subsequent season- the jury is still out but erring on the positive.

Gran's scarf was a problem in high winds


Royal Blood: Games of Thrones season one

Games of Thrones season one puts the realism back into fantasy.
For those without either Sky Plus or a lot of spare time, TV series flow by without us ever knowing much about them unless people start recommending them.  The more who shout, the more chance that the rest of us will check out what the fuss is about. There is an inevitable buzz about some shows and few currently burn brighter than Game of Thrones. Many who have seen it wax at length about its brilliance while some don’t like it at all. This polarising of opinion usually means there is something worth watching so I recently took in the first season over the space of a week or so. There are only ten episodes, so it is not the sort of investment you need to make when approaching a 22 part series. The question is did the series live up to its reputation?


Cockneys vs Zombies: A Good Match?

Cockneys vs Zombies. Wonder what that film is about then?
We’re going head to head
With the undead,
You can fill ‘em full of lead,
But they won’t stay dead.
Sometimes simple ideas are the best. With a title like Cockneys vs Zombies you know exactly what you’re going to get. It was a working title as it goes but everyone liked it so much and it seemed to sum up the film better than any other one they could think of. From an original idea by London based director Matthias Hoene the script is penned by James Moran and Lucas Roche who turn a simple idea into something that is vibrant, funny and entertaining. A zomedy if you will. Gawd bless ‘em as a Cockney might put it.


Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 43- Stardrive

Season Four Episode 4- Stardrive
(1981) Writer: James Follett / Director: David Sullivan Proudfoot
The search for a better way of powering the Scorpio brings the crew to where renowned scientist Dr Plxton the inventor of the powerful stardrive is based only to find she is working for the notorious Space Rats.
You’ve got to hand it to Paul Darrow. Whatever nonsense is going on, however absurd the scenery, he just carries on yelling at people, shooting people and generally acting as if he is having the time of his life. Nothing can detract him from taking this all very earnestly. Not even face painted, hedgehog haired bikers it seems. Retrospectively it is claimed his tongue was firmly in his cheek throughout but I don’t believe a word of it. It is perhaps only his commitment to an episode that is either being dreary or ramshackle that sells it to the uninvolved viewer.



CBBC's Leonardo gets serious in season 2

Leonardo season 2 Episodes 3 -6
After the opening 2 parter suggested that Leonardo was going to continue at the same level as the first series, a drop in form across the next three raises some doubts before episode 6 sees a dramatic return to form with one of the series' best episodes yet. `Dragon Hunt` gets down to business with some intent. Conned into helping a stranger track down a golden dragon, Leonardo is led outside the city and into trouble while the injured Duke of Florence is brought to the Medici house.


On The Bake

The Great British Bake Off is a most unexpected success story
You wouldn’t imagine a television baking contest getting noticed especially after a decade of a relentless slew of cookery related programmes. I remember watching the first episode in 2010 and imagining the show would vanish after the one series. And yet I watched the next week too.  And the one after that. Two and a quarter years on, TGBBO is BBC2’s top show with 7.2 million viewers (yes you read that right) watching the final. Next year it is rumoured to be moving across to a prime time slot on BBC1. Why you’re asking? What is so special about some people baking?
"Keep smiling, Mary, I've got a large loaf under the table"


Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 42: Traitor

Season Four Episode 3- Traitor
(1981) Writer: Robert Holmes / Director: David Sullivan Proudfoot
Trying to discover why so many colonies are suddenly falling under Federation control, the Scorpio crew investigate Helotrix where they find a new mind altering drug is causing mass compliance and they also encounter an old enemy.
The old enemy is Servalan by the way but that probably wasn’t a surprise even in 1981 and she turns up sporting a disco outfit which threatens to engulf her. This may be because with Servalan presumed dead she is masquerading as Commander Sleer though you’d have thought that with the high recognition factor and outrageous dress sense she would be instantly recognisable to everyone. As it is she has to kill anyone who does spot her true identity and disguise her voice so it sounds like Servalan with a sore throat. We learn she has despatched 26 people who have so far recognised her; the mystery is why it is not more. You can imagine the chaos if she were to enter Waitrose!
The General was unimpressed by the latest iPhone



The film of the cult book The Perks of Being a Wallflower is witty, involving and surprisingly life affirming.
It seems an odd way to open a review but some of you won’t like this film one bit. Indeed you might already have concluded as much if you’ve seen it. Its the sort of film that appeals either to people who are going through the things the characters are going through, in other words as Emma Watson gave as one of her reasons for taking a role: “I think the movie can prevent someone from killing themselves.” Or it appeals to those of us who still treasure those special moments that define our younger lives. Oh and anyone who likes action will be rather disappointed to discover the film’s big fight is blacked out and we never see it because the main character doesn’t remember it. OK, now all those people have gone we should be left with those for whom this film means a lot, whether because they identify with it or simply because it is a brilliant film.


Merlin season five- Arthur's Bane

After a triumphant season four, Merlin opens its fifth season with the two part `Arthur’s Bane`
The phrase `darker than ever` that is often used to advertise new series seems appropriate for an opening 2 part story that is a long way from the earlier seasons. Merlin is definitely pitching at an older demographic now which is not to say it has lost its charm, simply that is developing. At times during the first three seasons it seemed as if such growth was going to be very slow and steady. Given the way TV shows come and go we might never even get to see the Round Table. Yet season 4 was a revelation as the show broke free and began to utilise a potential only previously hinted at. The reward was its best ratings even if it had to tussle with The X Factor and now a fifth season that we hoped but in truth never imagined it would reach.

"Look at me- I am evil even on my way to Sainsburys"


The return of Red Dwarf


Red Dwarf is back for its first new episode in over three years.
Words: Will Barber

Red Dwarf was last on British television back in 2009. `Back to Earth` had rather mixed reviews to say the least. It was seen to be too serious, too complicated and nothing like “The old Red Dwarf”. Opinions seem to have changed since then. Red Dwarf triumphantly returned to our screens and it was very much like the old Red Dwarf. Indeed, it was the same old funny Red Dwarf from around series one to three. However, I have to admit to being a tad disappointed that it is almost like Red Dwarf has returned to factory setting.


Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 41 - Power

Season Four Episode 2- Power
(1981) Writer: Ben Steed / Director: Mary Ridge
Trapped in Dorian’s base unable to reach the Scorpio, Avon and co become involved in the conflict between the planet’s two races, the male Hommiks and the female Seskas..
 Never the series’ deepest writer Ben Steed appears to be attempting to chronicle the battle of the sexes with `Power`. However his somewhat bland conclusion that men are strong and women weak offers nothing to add to the debate and stereotypes that even in 1981 would seem out of date. The men are all long haired, big bearded warriors, the women are servants with telekenisis and perfect hair. You wonder how it happened and what Steed is trying to say, if anything. The women are clearly really quite powerful yet they have been captured by means of sacks and metal clamps. Perhaps this is how Ben Steed views marriage!

"Guys, shall we not bother with one and try the pub?"


Is Looper as clever a film as it thinks it is?

Rian Johnson’s new film Looper is a fresh take on time travel stories.
Looper is more than just the name of the film and job title of the main character, it also reflects the nature of the story. Any time travel based plot provokes post cinema discussions on exactly what happened if that happened if he was… etc. Looper is not as complex as the notoriously knotty Twelve Monkeys though and takes at least some of its cues from the Terminator franchise. Its circuitous storyline is well organised by writer / director Rian Johnson and presented in a relatively linear style. There are clues but they are well signposted and the film never becomes so clever that it stops being exciting. Somehow Johnson has managed to mix the adrenalin and the cerebral in an absorbing mix.
Warning- Spoilers in the rest of the review


Blakewatch - 52 weeks of Blake's 7 - 40: Rescue

Season Four Episode 1- Rescue
(1981) Writer: Chris Boucher / Director: Mary Ridge
Avon, Vila, Dayna and Tarrant are able to escape from Terminal courtesy of a supposed scrap merchant Dorian and his stolen ship the Scorpio. However Dorian turns out to be much more than he claims.
This is a hit and miss episode with honours even by the end. On the plus side, Chris Boucher works in a story that riffs on A Picture of Dorian Gray replacing that tale’s painting with a monster that lurks deep below the surface feeding on unsuspecting victims brought to the planet and somehow keeping Dorian the same age. Yes, it sounds good in writing but you suspect Boucher would be slightly disappointed by the realisation. For the monster is no less than a Sea Devil from Doctor Who (nine years later) and is reached by the same BBC spiral staircase that the latter and several other programmes of the day used. As for Dorian’s behaviour when the rejuvenation is occurring; this consists of the actor writhing around in dry ice. Turn the sound down (and please do) and it could be Top of the Pops!

During the early 1980s, budgets were cut at the BBC and actors forced to eat lunch outside


Why Monroe is great TV drama

Monroe Season 2 Premiere episode
You wouldn’t imagine a series about surgeons would be any good or you might think it would be too dark or that it might topple over into soap opera. Chances are in most cases it would. Yet with a similar dexterity with which the title character of ITV’S Monroe operates, so writer Peter Bowker and company have managed to construct a series that avoids all of the above mentioned traps. Returning for a second season the series is a refreshing take on well worn subjects and what’s more it is surprisingly involving and life affirming.

Before starting work, the hospital staff always took time to play statues


The Power of Two

Will Barber reviews the final Amy and Rory episode `The Angels Take Manhattan`
The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in New York only to find that the whole city has been taken over by the Weeping Angels. Rory soon gets zapped back in time to 1938, where he meets his daughter, River Song who is also investigating the Angels. The Doctor and Amy must race across time and space to find Rory before `The Angels Take Manhattan`.



Blakewatch: Week 39 Terminal

Season Three Episode 13- Terminal
(1980) Writer: Terry Nation / Director: Mary Ridge
Avon takes the Liberator on a private mission refusing to tell the others either its purpose or destination. Their journey causes a potentially catastrophic effect on the Liberator and brings them to the supposedly long destroyed man made planet Terminal.
Originally supposed to be the last ever episode `Terminal` is packed with incident (perhaps a little too much) and reaches a suitable ending that could easily have left viewers speculating indefinitely. As it happened there was another season after all but it still works as a `how will they get out of that one` cliffhanger. Terry Nation’s ideasometer is working overtime to introduce us to a strange space phenomena, a man made planet and, almost casually, the future of man’s evolution.

On Terminal the only programme they could watch was `Friends`