Once more around the galaxy-Doctor Who series 10

Yes here we are at Easter and it is time for the return of Doctor Who to our small screens. The seems to have been like years not months. The big difference now is that it sees the last episodes to feature Peter Capaldi in the lead role. It seems like he has hardly been the character for very long. Has he lasted long enough? Did he come at the right time?

There have been many mixed views of the quality of the show since Capaldi joined and it can be suggested that if it has been weak or lacking at times it may have been more due to the writing from Steven Moffat. So many people have an axe to grind for this man but I think he has in the past given us some very unique episodes and he really does so in the most recent series as well. It may not have been perfect, it may have still had way too much Clara for some, but around half of the episodes of the previous series were actually magnificent. So what can we expect in this last run for Capaldi?

Well we really have moved on past the whole Clara period and onto new times. We’ve passed the extended time of the Doctor contemplating who he is and what he does on his adventures which at times ventured much deeper into his past than the show ever had. This could be one grand defiant and joyful final run. It does though look as if the fun and light tone is being put back in place if the lack of that was a serious concern for the show producers and fans over the last couple of years. The Doctor does now have a new young female companion called Bill. He also has Matt Lucas as strange comedy sidekick Nardole…oh dear.

It could be that this new series is bringing back into the show a few elements that have been missing for a while and which has disappointed the fans. Do most fans of the show want a much more fast, funny and light-hearted show? With Peter Capaldi as the Doctor does that kind of thing just not work well?

We are due a new actor in the lead role next year. Can the show survive until then? Will this be another hit-and-miss series?

It could be that I am in my late 30’s and have perhaps been easily happy with an older Doctor exploring more deeper philosophical questions but it had seemed to go on like that for a good while. Given the chance can Capaldi be as wild and unpredictable as Tom Baker back in the 1970’s? This weekend will bring back the Doctor.

James E. Parsons is author of SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century available from amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith, and other good bookshops internationally as paperback, ebook and hardback.

 

Class-Doctor Who spin off series 2016-short review

Are you a huge Whovian? Been watching Doctor Who for decades, years or only just begun recently? What do you like most about the show? Have you seen any of the spin-off related show from over the years such as Sarah Jane Adventures or K-9?

At the end of 2016 we were taken to a familiar school in the world of Who over the years, Coal Hill academy. While there was a break from the Doctor and his own adventures last year, this location and a group of teenage characters came along to keep us entertained.

CLASS does come from the same place as Doctor Who (and even features him at the end of the first episode) but it is quite a surprisingly different show. This may have shocked or actually upset a great many people judging from the very mixed response in the last couple of months since it first aired in the UK on BBC3.

The eight episode series does have a loose story thread but starts with individual tales. This episodes are similar to quite a few Who episodes but edge closer to other sci-fi films and tv shows such as The Twilight Zone, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, X-Files and more. The series had been aired late night on Mondays on BBC1 due to the gore, blood, violence and occasional swearing at times.

A good few loyal Doctor Who fans may have been very surprised, and I know some have just not been impressed or happy with it at all. Why is this? It is really so bad?

Since Doctor Who successfully returned long-term in the mid-00’s and has been on the small screen ever since, the show creators have taken some inspiration and chances with that success at times, with casting, scripts and other projects. One successful early spin-off show which quickly gained a big fanbase was Torchwood. It was connected to Who and came from there but had its own set of characters and stories goin on separately. People loved that show and especially the lead character Captain Jack Harkness and his golden age Hollywood style adventure hero antics and fascinating sexuality. That show though did largely stay in the same area where the whole family could watch it together, all ages.

This probably does not really apply with CLASS. Your very small kids should not see most of this. I mean, its not as excessive as any actual 15 or 18 rated horror films but it does almost get to that level, almost. Some fans therefore may feel this betrayed where it comes from and what it should be coming from the world of Doctor Who.

This isn’t the main issue that most people have had with the show. Usually reactions I’ve read or heard take aim of the low or clichéd quality of the scriptwriting. Some thought the characters were terrible, just really predictable. Others may have commented on the acting.

For me personally, I actually did enjoy the series for most of the time and like a couple of people I know, I think it probably did get better toward the end. Some thought the opposite was true.

Well look, they couldn’t just go and make another Torchwood (though the fans have been waiting for that show to return for years now) and in a way it is like seeing a more naughty, offensive and slightly subversive part of the Doctor Who show where the lead character goes missing and the cameras turn to others around him, but for eight episodes.

I’m over twice the age of the young characters but I could mostly still believe them and understand their lives, even if sometimes maybe too tragic.

Like Doctor Who over the last decade and more it is brave at times to include people and issues relating to our modern times- gay characters, people of ethnic minority background, other countries and not have them simply be ‘joke’ characters but the ones we connect with and invest our interest in. But really the best character is Ms. Quill, who comes from Doctor Who and she acts like he ever rarely does. She is regularly aloof, obnoxious, sarcastic, funny, bored, self-interested even nasty. So then of course this all makes her very watchable and entertaining all the way through. And like the present Doctor at least, she is not young-well, she is probably middle aged at a push. While most of the series looks at each individual young character and their issues while some random wild alien invasion takes place, toward the end Miss Quill is revealed as a very interesting character.

The series comes to a highly dramatic and possibly OTT ending but this does probably leave things open for the show to return. If that will happen is yet to be confirmed. I would like to see the series return and maybe some of the flaws in the scripts and writing could be smoothed out with it next time.

 

James E. Parsons is a SF/Horror author. His SF books Orbital Kin & Minerva Century are available now from Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, WHSmith, and other good bookshops. His first horror book is published later in 2017.

 

DOCTOR WHO: HYBRID GAMES…

So have you seen the final episode in the second series of Capaldi Doctor Who?

We had Clara leave the show a couple of weeks ago, but of course, things would not be so straight forward as all that would they?

After the real slow-burning challenge of the previous episode-Doctor going very mad all alone, existential episode of tragic adventure. We get the return to Galifrey with a vast space-opera set-up to start with. Some great dialogue again, which had been a regular blessing. So this final episode was taking the Doctor to find out the real truth and danger connected to the Hybrid. Where was this creature? What was it capable of doing and when?

But then there was much more going on around and between this main plot. Besides what many Whovians and casual fans think, has Clara really died? How did this really affect the Doctor and this final story?

I was personally really delighted to see a great space-opera landscape of Galifrey. A good few visual nods to films like Dune and Starship Troopers, chronicles of Riddick. Some fine actors were involved as the Doctor put these threatening characters on Galifrey to rights, before the big reveals and really mind-boggling next stages of the story. Did this all end the series in a good way? Will it be far too radical and baffling for some? Has Moffat pushed his luck way too much this time?

I think it did pull together a few great points, some great lines and brilliant visuals to end the series. Does it all seem right? Maybe not. Is it what we expected or hope to see? Possibly.

From right now, we can look forward to the rather wild and funny Christmas special in a few weeks time.

 

DOCTOR WHO: THE WAR ON ZYGONS

So did you see the latest episode of the new Peter Capaldi series of Doctor Who at the weekend? It was the second in a two part tale named ‘The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion’. The classic tall, tentacled blotched and angry alien race returned but this time after a small radical group decided to step up and challenge the human race once again.

The first episode had a few nods toward Invasion of the body snatchers and John Carpenter’s The Thing besides other paranoid sci-fi thrillers, as it became less clear who were human and who were Zygon. Quickly the agressive Zygon groups made clear their intentions, took hostages and began killing humans without hesitation.

By the second part of the story, things had progressed, with more definitive divisions appearing among Zygons, factions revealed and a situations which was not what all Zygons wanted. Between this Osgood returned to the show, but with a number of surprises as she was central to the tale.

Now, at times genre shows can have episodes which sometimes don’t feel right or comfortable, sometimes offering a very serious or with a tone which is not the usual kind for that show. With shows like Doctor Who, science fiction and fantasy series, they deal in escapism, unreal tales of adventure, things we just don’t see in the real world. Sometimes though, they draw parallels with real world events and issues. At times this works, other times it can just feel very forced.

With this two part Zygon tale, there were some very clear thoughts about war, how we engage in wars and why, why we fear other groups, people, nations. This was a tale about Zygons attacking humans, but we are in a real world with constant, regular bombardments and warnings of ‘terror’, reasons to be afraid, reasons why we should be ready as people and as a nation to defend or attack.

Like certain terror groups we may know from recent years internationally, the Zygons who lead this new attack are gradually revealed to be just a smaller, radical group. So many other Zygons already living among humans in a kind of peace, do not wish to attack or rise in such a way. This can make us think of tensions between East and West internationally.

Many of us may have seen this tale and these parallels as fairly obvious, basic or even crass, but there is also a younger audience watching this great and loved cult sci-fi show.

Already much praise has been put out toward Capaldi and the final scenes around the ‘Osgood Box’, his dialogue about war and terror, fear and peace.

Did this two-part story go too far in making suggestions about terror, modern international war and peace or was it some very well balanced Who scripts, resulting in some honestly very challenging and relevant issues toward the end? Should Doctor Who draw these kinds of links with the modern world or should it keep to wobbly large monsters and Robin Hood adventures?

That Tardis time of year…

Finally the months have passed around once more, and here we are now with a new series of Doctor Who. This is the second with older Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, and with that first series gone and done, we hope he can relax into his own focused version of what the character might be.

Many people did think that in that first series with Capaldi, he came across as a strange and uncomfortable mix of confused, depressed and anxious, which just did not seem like the Doctor that most people knew and loved. But then, this is an older actor, older Doctor (visually at least) and after Tennant and Matt Smith.

We are now at the third episode of this series and well, there is obvious change. The first dramatic and fun two-part tale was really great, uniting the Doctor and Clara with Missy, and confronting Davros and the Daleks. This was a fantastic way to start things, many great lines of dialogue and great performances generally I think.

There have been a few slight but noticable changes with Capaldi-Who I observe. Hair style a little more ruffled, character possibly more fun, assured, care-free so far.

One big continued issue with many Whovians has been how prominent Clara has been over the last couple of series, almost taking over the show, some believed. That is possibly an over reaction, but it has been good to see such a confident young female character alongside the lead male, with many regular monents of triumph, courage and opinion. Is it really so bad that we have such a confident, modern companion currently?

So there has been change to the Doctor so far this year, we should wait to see what comes next. When will the sonic sunglasses come out again?

2014-Books due soon-Scifi, Fantasy, Horror…

So now the year has begun, and let us consider some of the great or interesting new novels and more which we should be expecting in the next few months…

Well, still we are seeing many popular vampire romatic or erotic series, and YA fantasy/urban series similar to Hunger Games etc. Not ultimately the kind of thing that I am waiting for…we have a new book from Jim Butcher, the Dresden Files series author, usually good reliable gritty magical urban fantasy tales. The amazingly successful self-published star Hugh Howey continues his run with Dust, the third in the Wool series.

Science fiction superauthor of our times, Alastair Reynolds moves on with On the Steel Breeze, paperback edition of the next part of the Poseidon’s Children tale in interstellar space.

Metro 2034 could be a really fantastic read hopefully-a sequel of the cult Russian modern classic which inspired videogames in the last decade or so. Post-apocalyptic danger and dark satire of our world.

A new novel based in the ALIEN franchise, Out of the Shadows (Book1) comes in January.

Modern paranoid multi-subgenre SF great Charles Stross brings us new book The Rhesus Chart:A Laundry Files Novel. Hope he can come back around to some impressive mind-bending work once more after some very strange work recently.

A new Doctor Who novel ‘Into The Nowhere’ in January from another guest author, Jenny T Colgan this time. Could be very interesting for fans.

The highly respected literary author Joanne Harris brings us The Gospel of Loki, being very out of character could be a curious and strange fantasy read well written.

A new novel based on the Halo videogame series- Halo:Mortal Dictata due in January.

Top fantasy author Trudy Canavan returns with Thief’s Magic Book 1: Millenium’s Rule.

As for new Horror fiction due soon we can expect…

A new anthology collection edited by True Blood author Charlaine Harris & Toni .L.P. Kelner called Games Creatures Play, March 6th.

The Unquiet House, from Alison Littlewood-April.

Bird Box, Josh Malerman, March.

The paperback of the very well recieved latest from Joe Hill-NOS4R2 around October time.

A new creepy collection of many top authors, called Fearful Symmetries, April.

Born to Fear-Interviews with Tomas Ligotti, and novel The Spectral Link-Tomas Ligotti.

The paperback of great new Shining fiction sequel from Stephen King, Doctor Sleep, due June.

The amazing Anne Rice continues on with werewolves in The Wolves of Midwinter:The Wolf Gift Chronicles next book in June.

Another new short novella from the HAMMER book imprint by Melvin Burgess, Hunger.

A Love Like Blood (Named like a classic Killing Joke tune) Marcus Sedgewick in March.

 

Also this year personally I am writing up my new next science fiction novel, potentially preparing my first horror novel for publishing, and currently my first recently released sci-fi novel Orbital Kin is available from Amazon, WHSmith, Waterstones, Play.com as paperback and ebook now.