Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

Well 2013 has been the Time of the Doctor hasn’t it? So what better moniker for the year’s- and Matt Smith’s- final act especially as it deals with the passage of time, how it changes us and how we should stay true to who we are. The production also wraps up the remaining questions of the era so that we now know who blew up the Tardis and what the Silence were up to. There is a fair amount of repetition of some of writer Steven Moffat’s favourite things, but in the end the story manages to deliver both an enjoyable Christmas Day adventure and a satisfactory conclusion to the latest Doctor’s story.
As a special tribute the Silence perform a song and dance number for the departing Doctor


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

If I wanted to buy some barrels I’d definitely purchase them from the elves because they make them indestructible. In one of several thrilling sequences that propel the second of this trilogy at a rate of knots, a dozen of these barrels tumbled down waterfalls, along rivers and over land complete with a dwarf passenger in each/ Afterwards they are still sturdy enough to take a pile of fish. That’s craftsmanship. Such durability is at the heart of The Desolation of Smaug, a far more focussed film than its sometimes stodgy predecessor. 


The Tripods Season 2 Episodes 11 & 12

Beanpole’s back! Turns out he’s spent his time playing chess and knitting an enormous patchwork coat. Will is back from the city with handwritten plans that have somehow remained totally dry despite his immersion in water. After another bread stealing plan goes awry (you do start to feel some sympathy for bakers in the future) the duo head for the Freemen’s headquarters but end up  in a circus. 
It’s run by despotic Abel Pasha who is portrayed with theatrical relish by Bruce Purchase and manages to keep a dozen ragamuffin orphans under his thumb with a whip and a snarl. Yet it provides a sanctuary for Will and Beanpole as they are able to apply some pan stick and loon about in a manner so haphazard I’d be asking for my money back if I went to this particular show.  It is a bit of a rubbish circus which the surprisingly large audience seem to enjoy nonetheless.
Despite being the only person who knows how to potentially defeat the Tripods, Will places himself in danger by volunteering to have knives thrown at him. If he’s expecting Beanpole to step up and offer to take his place he’s disappointed. They end up leading the kids out of the circus and into a thrillingly staged sequence where Tripods unleash a salvo in the night-time woods. This is so effective with explosions and lights galore that it provides a great climax and might be a better cliff-hanger Instead there is the downbeat resolution of discovering the Freemen’s camp has been destroyed.
And that is the end of The Tripods. A third series was planned but was unable to secure enough finance to be made so we never discover how things turn out, unless of course you read the books. It is within those novels that any major weaknesses in the story are apparent, as are its many derivations.
There is a clear divide between the two seasons with the first being rather repetitive and somewhat trivial. The second however is far more exciting and extremely well staged so that by the end a sense of what this future world is like comes across clearly. Given the confidence of the production team a third season could have been a classic.


The X Factor 2013

Someone should market an X Factor doorbell which when pressed lets loose a very loud burst of `O Fortuna` and bellows the name of the occupant so it booms all the way down the road! Celebrating its tenth anniversary the series is by some margin the loudest, most overblown programme on TV today yet it remains a draw. It’s allure is that we would all secretly love to be up there and theoretically we could be. After all why else was Britain’s Got Talent invented than to hoover up the rest of the population not covered by The X Factor’s categories? Nowadays with an increasing number of celebrity infested competitions, this show remains the place where the girl or guy next door can become a star, if only briefly. 
None of them are jealous of winner Sam Bailey, honest...


Wizards vs Aliens Season 2

The children’s drama series co-created by Russell T Davies returns for its sophomore season with renewed intent. The opening story `100 Wizards` feels sharper and more self-assured and if some of the same drawbacks remain, at least matter s are propelled at a speed that allows the viewer not to notice. Tom Clarke in particular seems to have had a burst of wizard energy and become a far better written and played character who now justifies Scott Haran’s position as lead of the show. Unlike much of the first season where he was outshone by others Haran is front and centre with a more nuanced character who has clearly learned from his experiences and feels emboldened. There is both light and shade; a budding romance with fellow wizard Chloe is perfectly played and contrasts with his new found defiance against the Nekross. Thus there is also a much sparkier relationship between Tom and Benny reflecting their developing friendship.


The Tripods Season 2 episodes 9 & 10

Episode 9: As we’ve seen lately in the news, rebellion can spring up in surprising places and from surprising sources and so it is in this pivotal episode. Will’s visit to the Cognosc has stirred the masters and now it seems as if Coggie is helping the Freemen by draining enough power to cause major problems within the city. You can tell things are bad because people are running around looking concerned and fiddling with dials. Worse than that for the slaves, the Pink Parrot disco breaks down. Unable to dance, they just collapse – it’s just like 4am on a Sunday morning!


Panic Moon December 2013 Issue

The December 2013 issue is of Panic Moon is out now and is the biggest and best issue yet.
We welcome Peter Capaldi’s casting, review The Day of the Doctor, An Adventure in Space and Time, all series seven’s episodes,prequels and ‘minisodes’, plus missing-no-more stories The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World. We also consider race in Doctor Who, look at the latest redesigns of the Cybermen, Ice Warriors and the TARDIS console, pay a heartfelt tribute to Dalek designer Ray Cusick and revisit An Unearthly Child from three different perspectives.
This issue’s writers include Toby Hadoke and other insightful scribes. The issue is lavishly illustrated with beautiful original artwork. The issue comprises 44 monochrome pages in Panic Moon’s distinctive A6 ‘pocket sized’ format. Just right for reading on the bus (or in the
It costs just £1.50 in the UK including postage. For those outside the UK, it’s £3.00.
More information at the website: http://www.tinyurl.com/pmzine
To order, please make payment using paypal to panicmoonfanzine@googlemail.com. Please use the ‘gift’ or ‘personal payment owed’ option as this minimises the fees – Panic Moon is an amateur non-profit making concern so this helps us keep our losses to
a minimum. Don’t forget to add your postal address (including country if not UK) in the notes section. If you don’t want to use the use the ‘gift’ or ‘personal payment owed’ option, please add 26p (for UK orders) or 32p for orders outside the UK to help offset the fees.
Cheque payment also acceptable for UK orders: enquire by email for address.


Atlantis episodes 5 to 9

Finally, Atlantis springs to life in `Pandora’s Box` the best episode of the series so far. After 8 fair to middling episodes each of which nonetheless contained tantalising glimpses of potential the series explodes into life with this Howard Overman penned story of how Medusa became the legend we know. It’s surprising that the writers played this card relatively soon as we have barely got to know her but it is an ace that unlocks the show’s own Pandora’s Box. The tag line for the episode is that things will never be the same again and this turns out to be refreshingly true. 

"Gosh, is the episode really that good?"  "Yes, I think it is!"


The Tripods Season 2 Episodes 5 to 8

Episode 5: Finally we’re inside the City of Gold which turns out to be more of a city of metal. Given budgetary limitations the scope of the episode is mostly impressive for its time. You certainly feel the scale of the place with several very well composed shots of people moving about the walkways and a good attempt is made to match the various elements- locations, studio and models- so they blend together. For the first time, the story begins to feel more imaginative with some innovative transport for its inhabitants in the form of floating cubes of green light. There is suitable incidental music to score the splendour. Best of all and in a couple of well- directed scenes we also meet the creatures who now rule the world. They’re odd looking and shot carefully enough to draw the eye away from any shortcomings. They look powerful yet talk in reasonable voices suggesting intelligence. If the city’s environs are impressive, the costumes are less so with the slaves forced to don cut off spacesuits which make them resemble spacemen at the beach. 

"Nice weather for a paddle, Will?"    "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, la"


The Hunger Games Catching Fire

If The Hunger Games tried to divert us from the darker undercurrents of Suzanne Collins’s story then Catching Fire wants to draw our attention to them. This is the big difference between the two films, perhaps in part due to a change in director and also because the story is becoming larger after the unexpected results of the Games. While clearly still a big budget tent pole movie, Catching Fire plays with some of the toys of mature film making while Jennifer Laurence brings her Oscar winning gravity to bear on key occasions. It’s not often that the second film in a series is better than the first but Catching Fire manages to surpass the first Hunger Games film in every area.


Doctor Who The Day of the Doctor

So, after all the build-up, anniversary hoopla and general Doctor Who-ness of this month, `The Day of the Doctor` arrives. It has been the subject of endless speculation as to its contents- some turned out to be true, some delightfully wide of the mark. For Steven Moffatt it must have been a daunting task to construct a tale that would pay satisfying homage to the past and also lay out something of a path for the future. The good news is that he’s done it with some aplomb in a production that takes some risks; both visually and conceptually, but emerges as one of those unique stories that will always stand out from its surroundings. It is the best thing he’s done since he took over the series.
Warning- Spoilers lie ahead.


An Adventure in Space and Time

Wow, there’s enough material here for a series! Mark Gatiss’ lovingly nourished rendering of the origins of DW presents several characters whom we would willingly spend weeks with. The only down side of An adventure in space and time is that it is 85 minutes long so there are shortcuts galore however Gatiss has honed the dialogue to give every line import. By focussing on four personalities who you would never expect could collaborate especially in the 1960s he gives the whole thing a sharp focus. The result is something very special. 


Doctor Who The Web of Fear

Though Doctor Who had started to modernise as early as `The War Machines`, the series often struggled to match contemporary 1960s style with the thrills and scares that had by now defined its best moments. `The Web of Fear` manages to line up these aspects in equal measure with a `real` setting in the form of the London Underground, some great monsters and enough excitement to sustain its six episodes.  It is something of a mood piece building claustrophobic suspense around a minimal plot that in lesser hands would be little more than a run-around. Under the guidance of director Douglas Camfield however it becomes something much more thrilling.


Daleks - Invasion Radio: 1966 A.D.

by Tim Worthington
With all of the excitement about the recent recovery of `The Enemy Of The World` and `The Web Of Fear`, and the subsequent deserved focusing of attention on those intrepid individuals who actually hunt down long-forgotten film cans (and not just Doctor Who ones either - there are lots of people out there trying to find other equally deserving lost programmes, who never seem to get the credit, publicity or assistance they really should), it's worth indulging in a spot of cheerleading for the much smaller band of enthusiasts who devote their time to hunting down stray recordings of lost radio shows.
Daleks lost in the Broadcasting House corridors


Doctor Who The Night of the Doctor

A big online surprise prequel to the Anniversary Special

Without warning- though there had been rumours- a 7 minute prequel called `The Night of the Doctor` appeared on 14 November. It’s a double surprise because not only was it unexpected but it also seems to give away one of the major puzzles surrounding the anniversary special, now just a week away. You might not have seen it or want to see it yet so be aware the review that follows is totally spoilerific!

Warning- Spoilers after the break


Doctor Who - Enemy of the World

Back after being missing for decades, can `Enemy of the World` live up to the hype surrounding it’s return?

None of the plot twists in `Enemy of the World` can match the subterfuge with which the previously lost story found its way into public view. Months of claim and counter claim, rumour and denials from all key players ended with the announcement that 9 more episodes were no longer missing. While `Web of Fear` has always been cited as a classic, nobody quite knew what to make of David Whitaker’s six parter. The one episode we had seen was, as it turns out, dull because it was out of context. Now it plays as probably the second best of the story, full of important developments and making the best of its interesting cast. However it is now the time to separate the circumstances under which the story has re-emerged – however much cause for excitement they may be- with the production as it is.

"Give-a me ze missing episodes or I will-a turn you into pasta."


50 Doctor Who Things!

John Woodnutt used to describe his Zygon costume as being like “a suit of fairy lights”. Quite apart from the fact that this does not really describe it at all, nobody in the world has ever seen a suit made of fairy lights. 

Oh by the way Woody (as nobody ever called him) used to tap dance while wearing this costume. 
"Well I'm not going to sing so you can take this microphone right out."


Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet

Recently released on DVD, William Hartnell’s final story is also the debut of a striking new enemy. Both have rarely been better.

Its weird hearing William Hartnell speak. This DVD of his final story includes snippets from a back stage interview he gave in late 1966 after leaving the programme which provides an insight into something we may not have always realised. His portrayal of the Doctor was a total immersion; not only did he affect the mannerisms of a man considerably older than he was but even the voice was put on. In real life his tone is remarkably similar in intonation to Tom Baker at his most pernickety. He shoots the rather pushy interviewer’s assumptions down with a quick dismissive “No” as if the question was rubbish. It is the most fascinating Doctor Who extra there’s been since they coloured `Day of the Daleks`. 



Doctor Who An Unearthly Child

How it all began (sort of)….

It is a foggy haunting night- an owl is hooting in the distance as a small dog collides with the camera. Slowly, a car draws up extraordinarily slowly as if it’s indoors and it cannot be driven properly.  Ian Chesterton is looking very bored because instead of inviting him round for sex and a coffee, fellow teacher Barbara Wright has insisted they follow spooky Susan Foreman, their weird pupil with the trainers, high IQ and an iPad. Whatever that is.

The Doctor cannot remember what he did with that chocolate cake but luckly Susan has spotted it.


The Tripods Season 2 Eps 3 & 4

Episode 3: It starts with Black Guards stealing fruit to chuck at Will and his non speaking fellow prisoner in the pit. At this rate the town’s green grocers will soon be broke. Of course, Beanpole just rescues Will from the pit in his usual useful way and they are chased through the town but the boat has already left. You’d expect Beanpole to build a boat but in something of a remarkable shift, the boys end up was waiters as the wedding of the mayor’s daughter serving chips to some of the people who were probably trying to stone them hours earlier. Disappointingly the headgear in this town is nowhere near as radical as previous ones though both Will and Beanpole end up sporting slightly ridiculous looking bibs. It makes you wonder what happened to the actual waiters who had presumably been booked for this function; are they locked up in a cupboard somewhere? 


Top of the Pops 78: 19/10/78

First broadcast: 19/10/78 / Words: Chris Arnsby

Peter Powell. “Wait no longer! Right before your very eyes another edition of Top of the Pops!”
Chart music: The Boomtown Rats, Rat Trap [9].

Showaddywaddy: Pretty Little Angel Eyes [NEW]. Showaddywaddy are old hands at Top of the Pops now. This is something like their fifth appearance this year. They've worked out a routine which involves the one dressed in purple and the one dressed in orange doing a little circuit of the stage before returning to point at the crowd on the “wop-wop-wop-wop.” 
Donna Summer in casual wear


Captain Phillips

Based on the 2009 incident in which a US tanker was captured by a handful of Somali pirates, Captain Phillips is a story tailor made for film and fulfils that potential thanks to sharp direction from Paul Greengrass and two very strong performances at its core. There have been suggestions that the Captain is made out to be more heroic than he really was and that is was his ignoring of the pirate threat that led the ship into a dangerous area. Phillips himself has said the ordeal was even worse than depicted in the film. However the acts displayed here are far removed from the triumphant heroics you see in many moves nowadays as the ending makes clear and the resulting film, even if it is not totally accurate, is a very well assembled nail biting thriller that will take you beyond the edge of your seat!


Atlantis Episodes 2 - 4

Unusually for a modern series the second episode `A Girl by any Other Name` is better than the first and contains a lot more menace and atmosphere. The creatures in the woods are particularly well realised and rather menacing even for those of us who’ve seen more creatures lurking in woods than we’ve had hot dinners. The episode is punctuated by scares and plot turns that seem fresh enough to keep the viewer involved. The one big issue with the series at this point is the ease with which Jason has settled in to his historical life. He may well complain that he doesn’t know his place in this world but in fact he seems all too acquainted with it. Whereas everything should be strange, new and a bit off putting he is strolling about like he’s lived here for years. Where are the gags about smartphones, the Internet, The Beatles and washing machines? Where is the dialogue to illustrate his life as a cultural castaway? Starting off in the present day seemed a bold gambit but it already appears pointless. One throwaway line from the Oracle is supposed to cover the anomaly but really that’s not enough especially when there’s a whole line of humour to be mined from it; think how Life on Mars did it for example. At least Jack Donnelly is more sure footed in his acting this week though he still struggles to impose his status as the lead in the series with the likes of Juliet Stevenson, Mark Addy, Robert Emms and Jemima Rooper about. 


Junk Culture

Can advertising make using litter bins attractive?

Advertising has somehow inveigled its way into every aspect of our lives so it was inevitable that it would also creep into some of the less glamorous areas. Disposing of litter is about as far down the pecking order as you can get when it comes to something that can potentially be sexed up or made to look cool but you have to acknowledge that municipal authorities are doing their best. It’s just that the results of the latest two campaigns are either awful or impossible!


The Tripods Season 2 Episodes 1 & 2

Episode 1: There’s a sense that the series may be starting to move into the potentially more interesting area of mixed technologies. While the lessons that the potential infiltrators attend are delivered via tried and trusted chalk and talk methods, there are theories about computers and even bio engineering discussed. The idea that the creatures inside the Tripods were engineered by man but turned against us seems far too bold to be thrown away in an academic conversation though; surely this should be what Will and co discover when they enter the City of Gold?

After fixing the engine and curing the captain's wife Beanpole decided to build a cottage.


Top of the Pops 78: 05/10/78

First shown on 5/10/78
Words: Chris Arnsby

Kid Jensen. “For all that's best in the chart welcome to Top of the Pops and this week's chart countdown is to the tune of Abba!”
Chart music: Abba, Summer Night City [5].

Mick Jackson: Blame It On The Boogie [32]. Mick Jackson? Retreating to Wikipedia I find Mick Jackson is one of the original authors of this song, which was subsequently played to and recorded again very quickly by other more famous Jacksons. Both versions were released within a few days of each other and the press covered this battle of the Jacksons with interest. How about that! In 1978 my mind was on higher things. Namely whether Keith Chegwin would ever bring Swaporama to Ripon*. There's a shot of the audience dancing at one point, a straight cutaway to a gaggle of self-conscious teenage girls dancing to the camera. It's not the type of shot Top of the Pops normally does. I wonder if it's being used to cover an edit, or a problem with the recording of Mick Jackson's performance?


Sunshine on Leith

A musical about two soldiers returning home directed by Dexter Fletcher and based around songs by The Proclaimers sounds an unlikely fit but it works. Granted the story is often determined solely by navigating from one song to the next yet Sunshine on Leith has a heartfelt charm that keeps you interested and a good cast who make it believable enough. They don’t tell us what havering is though!!


Breaking Bad

The best series ever? John Connors goes back to the start to watch the seasons 1 and 2 of the astonishing Breaking Bad.

When enough people describe a programme as the best ever it’s bound to make you want to give it a try though this can pall when every new US drama is heralded thus (and by implication every UK drama is the opposite).  Nowadays you can’t move for people extolling the brilliance of Breaking Bad which is strange as the series has recently concluded. Has there ever been a series ending just as everyone decided it was amazing? The general rule is that great programmes are in decline when they stop or else they are prematurely cancelled. Breaking Bad appears to have concluded at exactly the right moment judging from the reaction to this month’s finale. Meanwhile, enticed by its glowing tributes I am starting back at the beginning. The down side is trying to avoid spoilers, the upside is that I won’t have to wait a year to move from one season to the next.  I could watch it all over the next few days if I wanted in a Walter White type frenzy! Will it be the best series ever? 

NB There will be spoilers aplenty in this article though they won’t necessarily make sense unless you’ve seen it.


Top of the Pops 78: 21.09.78

First broadcast on 21/09/78
Watched by Chris Arnsby in 2013

Paul Burnett. “Hello, I'm Paul Burnett. Glad you could make it because it's a great show lined up for you 'cause it's Top of the Pops!”
Chart music: The Motors, Forget About You [15].

Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) [49] “All the energy exploding on Top of the Pops!” was how Peter Powell back announced The Jam singing David Watts last week (on BBC4 at least, in Top of the Pops order we've skipped an edition presented by J**** S***** on 14/9/78). Perhaps Peter Powell was accidentally thinking ahead to this week. Buzzcocks go down really well with the audience. They get a well deserved round of applause at the end of the song.


The Tripods Season One Episodes 12 & 13

Episode 12: It’s time for Will, Henry and Beanpole to stand trial which means an array of more silly hats amongst the village dignitaries. White fezzes are one thing but one woman tops even the Mayor’s imitation cake with her amazing headpiece that includes two large leather flaps underneath her chin. What possible use- even in a dystopian future- could such a fashion have? One feels it is the village tailor who should be on trial for crimes against millinery. Anyway after the costume department have exceeded the boundaries of taste, the trial itself is shorter than all the walking in and parading about. Daniel, the guard who’s been following them for the last two episodes whisks them away in a cage.


Atlantis: The Earth Bull

The first episode of the new series from the makers of Merlin.

In the new show from the team that produced Merlin, we find a smorgasboard of mythic heroes and villains all within the same walls of the legendary city. While the previous series confined itself largely to variations on a particular story, Atlantis seems set on raiding any number of different sources hence we find Jason, Hercules, Pythagoras and the Minotour all residing here in the opening episode `The Earth Bull`. Broadcast at the comparatively late 8.25pm there are scant pickings in Howard Overman’s script to whet the appetite of adult viewers, yet amidst the roaring monsters and hectic chases not quite enough to engage the attention of the younger ones. It’s going to be a hard sell.
Mark was jealous of his co-star's wigs


Top of the Pops 78: 07/09/78

Originally broadcast on 07/09/78
Watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Peter Powell. “Hello! As ever you're very welcome to Top of the Pops and here's the chart run down with just a slap of grease!”
Chart music: Frankie Valli: Grease [24]
This week there's chart fun when back-to-back pictures of Renaissance [20], and Exile [19] look like they could be photos of the same group.

The Jam: David Watts [26]. “All the energy exploding on Top of the Pops!” gushes Peter Powell after The Jam finish. The Jam put in a good performance, and the audience bop along enthusiastically, but for me this song just doesn't do anything. Somehow this feels inappropriate. It's The Jam, an iconic band of the time, but I can't muster anything other than a shrug.
The Jam: It's a little known fact that David Watts recorded a single called `I Wish I Could Be In The Jam`