Doctor Who The Caretaker

27/09/14: Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson, Ellis George, Jimmy Vee /Written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat / Directed by Paul Murphy
Reviewed by Sean Alexander

Alfred Hitchcock, as well as making walk-on appearances in most of his notable films, was extremely fond of plot devices that had little or no bearing on the development of his narratives.  Film historians coined a term for this phenomenon: the McGuffin. Gareth Roberts’ previous forays into televised Who have all had their own version of this particular magician’s trick: 2007’s ‘The Shakespeare Code’ saw witch-like creatures trying to enter our universe by, literally, rewriting the great Bard’s text.  2010’s ‘The Lodger’ used disappearing tenants as an excuse for Matt Smith’s Doctor to spend a week as an ‘ordinary person’, playing both football and inadvertent matchmaker to James Corden’s likeable Craig; the following year’s ‘Closing Time’ likewise had an invasion of Cybermen help Craig bond with his new-born son.  Tonight’s Coal-Hill school set ‘invasion’ by a one-robot force of destruction does little more than frame Clara’s increasingly frantic double life of school-teaching and blossoming romance with the TARDIS travelling that is by now dominating her life.


The perils of self publishing

Aka more yawnsome stuff about John’s book. Some of you might remember earlier this year I self published a children’s novel on Amazon which at the time seemed like a great answer to the problem of finding an agent and publisher. The process itself was time consuming but ultimately quite well designed to help the author end up with something that was presentable enough to be saleable. The only issue is that once the book is up there for sale, what do you do next?


Doctor Who Time Heist

20/09/14 written  by Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat/ directed by Douglas McKinnon/ starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Keeley Hawes, Jonathan Bailey, Pippa Bennett- Warner
The bank heist is such a familiar story that it’s a wonder Doctor Who hasn’t tried it before. Presumably there has always been a feeling that it was not a suitable subject for the show given its intended audience? However this series is showing increasingly later (next week- 8.30!) in the schedules suggesting that it is not especially intended for younger viewers at all. Indeed it seems to be cutting away from even Steven Moffat’s previously established dimensions something that is paying dividends. Suddenly the environs of time and space feel a little less congested than of late with new sights and references popping up to the extent that for the first time in several years it feels like the Universe is a very, very big place indeed. As it should.



The Best of This Way Up Book

Just a reminder that the Best of This Way Up book Tomorrow Is Now` is still available from Amazon in either digital or print edition. It's got this in it -

Articles, features and episode guides from the archives of the acclaimed fanzine/ blog This Way Up are collected together in a unique volume.
Classic children’s TV: The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Watch with Mother, The Feathered Serpent, Sky, Tom Grattan’s War, Richard Carpenter, Children’s and post Watch with Mother serials
Telefantasy: Strange, Firefly, Invasion Earth, Out of this World, Virtual Murder, 1990s telefantasy
Films: Alien, Handmade Films, Jaws, Duck Soup
TV: Nigel Kneale,  Second Coming, Phillip Saville, The Comic Strip Presents, Lives & Loves of  a She Devil, Adverts
Theatre: War Horse, The Pillowman, RUR

Miscellany: Pluto, La Machine, the end of record shops and many more
Written by Tim Worthington, Sean Alexander, OJ Wake, David Rolinson,
Matt Salusbury, John Connors

This is the rather brilliant cover -

This is the link to buy it -
Tomorrow Is Now- The Best of This Way Up
Click for more to take a look at a couple of covers that didn't get used.


Doctor Who Listen

BBC One, 13/09/14 starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson, Robert Goodman / Written by Steven Moffat / Directed by Douglas MacKinnon
Reviewed by Sean Alexander
Are we ever truly alone..?  Travelling solo in the TARDIS – whilst Clara is out on her inaugural (not to mention, disastrous) date with colleague Danny Pink - the Doctor speculates on the nature of solitude.  What is left when everything else is gone, and do nursery rhymes that allow children to whistle in the dark when alone and scared hide a greater monster than the one under the bed?


Scottish Independence

If I had a vote in the referendum I think it would be a narrow No.
I don’t live in Scotland so won’t be getting a vote in next week’s referendum but have seen (more than) enough to know how the debate is going. With no real opinion either way at the start of it, I’ve tried to absorb the arguments of both sides to see if I can reach a conclusion. The No campaign has been focussed on what a disaster Scottish independence would be for the economy, commerce, jobs and so on. They have been less clear cut about what the benefits to retaining the Union might be. The Yes campaign have worked vigorously to give the impression that Scotland would be able to cope as a separate nation, however when it comes to details as to how they seem to retreat into `don’t worry, it’ll be ok` mode. 


A Very Peculiar Practice Series 2

First broadcast 1988/ written by Andrew Davies/ starring Peter Davison, Graham Crowden, David Troughton, Barbara Flynn, Joanna Kanska, Michael J Shannon
After the first season ended on the slightly bizarre merger between the University and a police college it was hard to see what direction Andrew Davies was planning to go in. Thankfully he strips this unlikely arrangement out of the way immediately instead having the campus fall into the hands of ambitions Americans whose vice chancellor is named Jack Daniels. It’s as apposite a moniker as last season’s quintessential Englishman Ernest Hemingway. This time round the series is given an increased level of surreal happenings, often straying deeper into the dreams of either Jock or Stephen as they fathom the changes this new hierarchy brings. The Nuns prove to be as symbolic as the Tower of London’s ravens, while the students, so often absent during season one, have a greater presence and the series is the richer for it. There is also an increased level of farce as times which helps underpin the grimness elsewhere while relationships take on an altogether more intriguing dimension.


Doctor Who - Robot of Sherwood

BBC One 06/09/14 written by Mark Gatiss / directed by Paul Murphy / starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Tom Riley, Ben Miller
After two episodes that emphasised a darker approach, `Robot of Sherwood` from it’s not quite a pun title to its frenetic pace and use of running gags does bear much more resemblance to the Matt Smith years though somehow it’s better. In fact it is one of the funniest the series has done, with far more out and out jokes than usual, all of which work. I can’t remember laughing out loud at a Doctor Who episode for ages! I suspect the wider public will prefer it, fans probably won’t but there is enough in Mark Gatiss’ lively script for everyone. It is unquestionably enjoyable unless you’re the sort of person irritated by swashbuckling, robots or people talking very, very quickly!




In cinemas now. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min Sik-choi, Waked Amr. written & directed by Luc Besson

Apparently we only use 10% of our cerebral capacity and we all know people who use even less than that! Luc Besson’s brisk, at times brutal, sci-fi thriller poses the question of what would happen if we could access the other 90%. We’re initially in Taiwan where Scarlett Johansson’s character is tricked by a man she’s only known for a week into delivering a locked case to a Mr Jang in a plush hotel. No surprise that it contains drugs which she and four other hapless victims are subsequently forced by the ruthless Jang (Min Sik-choi, causally vicious) to ferry home in their stomachs.  Where the surprises start is when Lucy is assaulted causing her package to rupture thus filling her body with chemicals that start to expand her brain. Once she wakes she searches for the other victims and the perpetrators of the crime.