Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Doctor Who Series 9: The Girl Who Died teasers

Below you can find 10 spoiler-free quotes from Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 5: The Girl Who Died. Read Blogtor's spoiler-free review of the instalment HERE and visit the Doctor Who Series 9 episode guide HERE.
I’m under attack from four and a bit battle fleets, in case you think I’m slacking.

I think there’s something in my space suit.

I love puppets!

He’s upgraded his phobia.

I had a dream you all died.

What’s the one thing Gods never do? Gods never show up.

The universe is full of testosterone, trust me - it’s unbearable.

Do babies die with honour?

I’ve always been different. All my life I’ve known that.

To the primitive mind advance technology can seem like magic.
Doctor Who, The Girl Who Died airs Saturday Oct 17 on BBC One at 8.20pm

PREVIEW: Doctor Who Series 9, The Girl Who Died [SPOILER-FREE]

Maisie Williams in The Girl Who Died

The Girl Who Died
by Jamie Mathieson & Steven Moffat 

Starring Peter Capaldi & Jenna Coleman

Airs Oct 17

Review by Cameron K McEwan

It's a romp ladies gentlemen - a palpable ROMP!

I don't know why, probably due to the oft-mentioned appearance of Maisie Williams (apparently she's in a show called Game of Thrones, factoid fans) or the fact the word "died" is in its title, but I was expecting a much more sombre and dramatic affair as The Doctor and Clara went back in time to meet this mysterious character.

Ashildir, as she's known, becomes a mystery as the Time Lord seems to recognise her almost immediately; making her a pivotal role throughout. Oddly, Williams starts off as quite an annoying character, almost brat-like, but as the plot unfolds, so does her own story. The young girl, who loves her village and her fellow Viking folk, has a very engaging tale intermingled with that of the Doctor's, whose talent for speaking "baby" leads him down a very emotional and, dare I say, un-Capaldi(ish) route.

David Schofield in The Girl Who Died

Capaldi also delights in the rompular (that's a word, right?) nature of the adventure. When faced with, what can only be referred to as, sh*t Vikings (pathetic at pillaging), The Doctor reduces them to names like "Chuckles", "Heidi" and "ZZ Top" (one for older readers there) with his usual intolerant glee. Truth be told though, the villain he's facing, The Mire, are just about as credible as the Viking dunces they face off against. In particular, the enemy's "boss", Odin (played by David Schofield who, without wanting to seem unkind, does not impress) comes off as a Teletubbies baddie. It's pantomimic in the extreme, adding to the fun and lightweight nature of the story.

It's quite refreshing to have aliens who aren't that good at being bad in Doctor Who (a bit like the Neimoidians in the Star Wars prequels).

In feel and in tone, The Girl Who Died revisits last year's jolly outing in Earth's past, Robot Of Sherwood. It's not really about the destination or "threat", which is minimal, but the journey. A gorgeous sunny day out in history when Vikings were Vikings and the Doctor trained them to fight aliens in metal suits. A slight downside to the ep, it should be said, are the very familiar looking corridors in the alien ship. Given that we witnessed almost exactly the same corridors in the previous story's underwater base (Under The Lake/Before The Flood), it's repetitive and comes off as cheap.

The big talking points, however, will concern a much-touted scene (which I shan't spoil but will get fans very excited) and the ending. During the episode, The Doctor talks much of the ripples in time he causes whilst avoiding "tidal waves"; it could be that he's gone too far this time and his own concern is one that leaves the denouement, such as it is, with a dramatic tone and ominous edge.

The Girl Who Died is a summer's day jaunt with goodies and baddies and a fun old battle to be savoured. Underneath it all, like ants hiding under that very same sunny day's picnic, is a fascinating yet worrying subplot which, we're sure, will come back to bite The Doctor on the metaphorical arse.

In fact, maybe even in the following week...

The Girl Who Died airs Oct 17 at 8.20pm on BBC One

Thanks to BBC

Doctor Who Series 9: The Girl Who Died cast list

Included below is the credited cast list for this week's Doctor Who episode, The Girl Who Died - check them out below. Read Blogtor's spoiler-free review of the instalment HERE.
The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
Clara - Jenna Coleman
Ashildir - Maisie Williams
Odin - David Schofield
Nollarr - Simon Lipkin
Chuckles - Ian Conningham
Lofty - Tom Stourton
Limpy - Alastair Parker
Hasten - Murray McArthur
Heidi - Barnaby Kay
The Girl Who Died, written by Jamie Mathieson (Mummy on the Orient, Flatline) and Steven Moffat, airs on Oct 17 at 8.20pm on BBC One.

Doctor Who Series 9: Maisie Williams interview

Jenna Coleman, Peter Capaldi & Maisie Williams (C) BBC

Actress Maisie Williams, best known for starring in Game of Thrones, has been chatting to the BBC about her upcoming, and slightly mysterious, role in this week's Doctor Who episode, The Girl Who Died - check out what she had to say below.

Are you a fan?

When Doctor Who came back on television a lot of my male friends were really excited. I didn’t know much about it, but I watched a couple of seasons with David Tennant as the Doctor. And since I’ve been here, I’ve been questioning Jenna - why are you in a space suit?, what’s going on here?, have we met this person before?, does this link back to a previous episode? - anything I can find out. It has been really exciting working on it and I’m so glad to be a part of it now.

How did you get the role?

I was approached with the role, I didn’t know much about it but knew they were introducing a new character to work closely with the Doctor. I’d got through the second episode and absolutely loved it! I was going to do a tape but ran out of time because I was in America shooting another film, so my agent worked really hard and sent over lots of clips and videos - they liked them and gave me the role.”

Who has the most beards, Doctor Who or Game of Thrones?
I feel like I’ve seen a lot of insane beards here on this shoot. I don’t know which would have more, but it’s very nice to have that familiar bearded, hairy men setting. It’s so refreshing to have this futuristic element linked in to it too, that’s what has kept me going really, not just beards and dragons. 

Maisie Williams (C) BBC

There’s a whole new element that’s fed in to the sides. It just looks so great with all of us in our Viking outfits, Jenna in her space suit and the Doctor in his cool coat with his crazy sunglasses. It makes for a really cool and interesting dynamic on screen.

What was it like to work with Peter Capaldi?
Peter has been such a joy to work with. My brother was so excited when he heard I got the part, as was I. He’s a wonderful, wonderful actor and I couldn’t wait to meet him. He totally lived up to my expectations and I Iove that! When you meet your idols - people say ‘don’t meet your idols as they never turn out to be who you want them to be’. That was completely not the case with Peter and he’s been wonderful and really helpful on set.

What do you think about the fact that Doctor Who has been running for 50 years?
When I got the role, my mum would tell me about when she watched it before it came back more recently. I’m not so aware of the previous Doctors but I know a lot of the lines Peter says now relate back to other Doctors’ lines. It is so nice how they’ve incorporated the previous seasons in to the more recent episodes. I like how it all links in some way or another.

Doctor Who, The Girl Who Died airs Saturday Oct 17 at 8.20pm on BBC One

Doctor Who Series 9: Jamie Mathieson talks The Girl Who Died

David Schofield with the Mire in The Girl Who Died

The co-writer of Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 5, The Girl Who Died has been chatting to the BBC about his episode, which stars Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams. Read what Jamie Mathieson (Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline) had to say below.
The Doctor meets The Vikings! Of course he does. The only question is, why did it take so long?

Odin has come to visit his loyal followers, the Vikings, and reward their bravest warriors with a place in Valhalla. There’s only one problem - The Doctor and Clara, who are having none of this and smell a rat. They are soon caught up in the middle of a war between an advanced race of mercenary aliens and a village full of angry Vikings, who don’t take kindly to having their Gods insulted.

But the Doctor has no TARDIS or sonic screwdriver, just his wits and raw material in the form of Viking villagers. But these aren’t the roaring warriors of legend, these are the ones who usually stay behind to feed the chickens. The farmers and shepherds who make sure that the roaring Vikings had a village to come home to. But the aliens are coming back and if the Doctor can’t convince the villagers to flee, he just might have to teach them to fight...

There is another big mystery to solve in the form of Maisie Williams, who plays a Viking that the Doctor seems to recognise. But from where? Or is it when?

At one point in development the episode was called The Allfather’s Army referencing both Dad’s army and Norse mythology. There are also nods to films like The Magnificent Seven and The Dirty Dozen.
Doctor Who, The Girl Who Died airs Saturday Oct 17 at 8.20pm on BBC One

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Doctor Who Series 9: A SPOILERY look at Before The Flood

In a new feature on Blogtor Who, each week regular contributor Richard Unwin will be taking a more personal, in-depth and spoilery look at each episode. So, obvs, SPOILERS ahead if you haven't seen Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 4.


That was fine. A good solid ‘monster of the week’ story, topped with a neat bow of timey-wimey twine to hold everything in place.

The eventual plot reveals are satisfying, if a little mechanical in execution. (We can't have been the only ones who guessed what was in the box…) This second episode’s trip back in time, and its revelation that the Fisher King was defeated in the past - long before the TARDIS first arrived at the Drum, allows the story to breathe and gifts it a mythic quality that might have been denied had we remained in the sardine tin… But the whole thing ultimately seems a little low-key. Which is fine – there’s absolutely time and space to tell smaller stories, and if the less assuming instalments are as well executed as this, then the show is shipshape and Bristol fashion.

Where Under The Lake/Before The Flood really succeeds is with its cast of colourful and interesting characters. The crew of The Drum, who were perhaps a little difficult to get a handle on last week, are much better defined here – definitely benefitting from the two groups splitting into different time zones.

There’s a standout performance from Sophie Stone as Cass - it's wonderful to see Doctor Who once again leading the way with diverse casting, and doubly good that Cass’ deafness is integrated into the plot in an interesting and believable manner – as one deaf fan, Daniel Milco, wrote on Facebook after Under the Lake:
“You know what else was so bloody awesome about Doctor Who? No superhuman instantaneous lip reading DEFSUPAPOWASKILLZ. It took several guesses and goes for the deaf character to crack what the big bad were saying and only because they kept saying it over and over again. Now that’s realistic.”
Paul Kaye undertakes the part of Prentis with suitably slimy servitude, and it’s a welcome return for the Tivolian race – first introduced in author Toby Whithouse’s series 6 episode The God Complex. The conceit of a species who gratefully welcome invaders is one that we reckon still has some mileage yet to be explored – we’d not be adverse to visiting the Tivolian homeworld for a fuller study of their idiosyncratic desires one of these days. (We can only imagine what the ‘equipment for subjugation’ that Prentis carries around with him actually is…)

The Fisher King himself is an interesting creation. (According to Wikipedia the Fisher King of legend is the last in a long line charged with protecting the Holy Grail, and is usually depicted with an injury to the groin. Can't say we noticed that here – perhaps that's where the tsunami hits…?) The unique vocals of Peter Serafinowicz, and the scream of Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor, combine with an effectively realised costume and beautiful direction to create a macabre monstrosity that will haunt our nightmares. Until it walks outside, that is. Some unforgiving daylight and an alarming wobble of the creature’s ‘crown’ briefly give the impression that it's something that Bonnie Langford might be found screaming at in a quarry, in 1987. Although it's really just a few seconds, they do rather undermine a lot of the tension that’s built up. But let’s be kind - perhaps it's just part of a really concerted effort to make this feel like properly traditional Who.

In summary: this fishy tale totally succeeds as a self-contained saga, serving quite adequately as a breathing space between the flash bang fireworks of the opening two-parter and whatever’s happening next week with Maisie Williams as Romana/Rani/River Song… (Odd to think that with just two stories under our belts, we’re already a third of the way through the series…) It wasn't our absolute favourite, but judging by the online reaction to Under The Lake – which is being hailed by many as a modern classic and a ‘return to form’ – we may well be out of step with popular opinion. It'll be interesting to see if these rave reviews are upheld now that the second part has aired. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.

Right - sonic sunglasses on and back to dry land - forward, to The Girl Who Died…! (Sounds cheery - anyone else notice a theme of death permeating the series so far…? Careful Clara… we reckon that you should be VERY careful…)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Blogtor at New York Comic Con

Quarto stall at NYCC, courtesy of Joy Abella

This weekend New York Comic Con takes place in, you guessed it, New York. And Blogtor will be there on Saturday and Sunday signing copies of the books, Doctor Who: The Big Book of Lists and The Who's Who of Doctor Who.

Pop by and say, "Hello!" (and maybe buy a book too!) at the Quarto Publishing stall, Booth 2006 from 1pm on Oct 10 and 11.

Also take a visit to the Titan Comics Booth where you can find various Doctor Who artists and writers from Friday to Sunday - Nick Abadzis (Tenth Doctor), Elena Casagrande (Tenth Doctor), Alice X. Zhang (Ninth – Twelfth Doctors Covers), Simon Fraser (Eleventh Doctor), Mariano Laclaustra (Twelfth Doctor), Si Spurrier (Eleventh Doctor) and Rachael Stott (Ninth, Tenth, Twelfth Doctor). 

PREVIEW: Doctor Who Series 9, Before The Flood [SPOILER-FREE]

Before The Flood
by Toby Whithouse

Starring Peter Capaldi & Jenna Coleman

Airs Sat, Oct 10

Some people will love the historic opening pre-credits to this episode. And I mean love. Twitter and Tumblr will be alight with all sorts of guffawing gifs and quintessential quotes from Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor as he breaks out the guitar once more and tells us all about the quirks of time travel.

And some people will hate it. And I mean hate. No one is getting to think, “Meh,” or say, “It’s OK...” This is LOVE or LOATHE territory. This is about as divisive as Doctor Who gets.

Right in the middle of a two-parter, full of death, mystery and intrigue, we stop to have a laugh with the Time Lord as he babbles on about Beethoven and rocks out. It's really quite jarring considering the events which have just taken place (The Doctor's dead, again) and the shift in tone results in much of the drama, that was so brilliantly built up in the preceding episode, is deflated and almost mocked. The levity of the situation in The Drum couldn't be made more irrelevant and frivolous.

It's the sort of thing Tom Baker would have loved to have gotten away with in Season 17. Anyway, that’s just grumpy old me, I’m sure, nay positive, millions of viewers will find it hilarious and t(w)ittersome.

Thankfully, writer Toby Whithouse gets his game back on immediately post-credits with the Doctor arriving before the events of the previous episode accompanied by O'Donnell and Bennett. And instantly this adorable couple make for a fantastic set of companions for Peter Capaldi.

Morven Christie is just stellar as the bolshy and excitable O'Donnell. As auditions for future companions go, she's nailed this like Robin Hood with a golden arrow. In this episode, she's given space and time to show off her character and I imagine she'll be a unanimous hit based on her cheeky, and knowing, persona. I do hope there's more to see from her.

Likewise, Arsher Ali (Bennett) plays off Christie beautifully. Whilst not quite the same Amy/Rory dynamic, it's similar. Bennett is obviously in awe of his colleague and, as a duo, one can picture them settling into TARDIS life quite easily with her full of unbridled enthusiasm and he cautious and sickly. Whithouse has created, along with the terrific actors, two memorable and hugely likeable characters.

Sticking with the cast, briefly, it's another tremendous performance from Sophie Stone as Cass; like Bennett and O'Donnell, she would make an amazing future companion for the Doctor. Also worth noting here is the excellent use of sound when Cass finds herself in The Drum's corridors; engaging and matches the tone of the threat extremely well.

The trio of the Doctor, Bennet and O'Donnell make for one of the finest Team TARDIS units since the 80s. What they face back in time gets the story back on track as the mystery returns, but it's not good news for them as The Fisher King is awoken. At something like 9 or 10 feet, this is an impressive creation from the production team. And it's shot beautifully and tensely from a director new to Who, Daniel O’Hara, a cracking debut.

There are a number of terrifically nail-baiting and breath-stopping moments as the monstrous beast (which would give the alien from Alien a run for its money in disgust and panic) stalks through the abandoned base in Scotland, looking for its next victim. The showdown, in particular, with Capaldi's Time Lord is immense, a visual and dramatic treat. Top marks and a gold star also go to the voice of The Fisher King, the brilliant Peter Serafinowicz, who readers may already know as the voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

However, like that nasty Sith Lord from 1999, The Fisher King doesn't get enough screen time for my liking and his threat, which is mightily impressive, doesn't come soon enough; it appears and disappears too quickly. Regardless, a fine realisation and one I hope to see again in the future.

Curiously, and rather fascinatingly, both Clara and her Time Lord buddy come off as a tad selfish in Before The Flood. The teacher begs of him, "Die with someone else, not with me!" - whilst everyone's favourite Gallifreyan does appear to be mucking about with time for his own end. As I say, fascinating that this behaviour should occur.

Intercut with the scenes in the past, we find the gang back at base where, unfortunately, the pace is halted. This is exacerbated too by The Doctor popping back to the TARDIS to speak to Clara and go on about how he must die. Again, this gets in the way of the drama's natural momentum; we know he's not going to die, just get on with telling the story! And the whole Doctor dying schtick is really quite tiresome, especially two stories in a row.

Because of this, the second instalment has a much more fragmented feel and the answers to the questions posed are a little fumbled and unfocused. Add to that the Doctor's nonchalance to the situation (which bookend the ep), and the story comes unravelled and you're left with a number of great moments, super visuals, and three very strong guest performances (which include a number of very moving and touching scenes) but ultimately a sense of, "What actually happened?"

Doctor Who, Before The Flood airs Oct 10 at 8.25pm on BBC One


The Yes Men
by Simon Guerrier

Starring: Anneke Wills & Frazer Hines

Review by Andrea McGuire

The Yes Men is Big Finish’s first full-cast outing for the Second Doctor and his companions Polly, Jamie and Ben. Frazer Hines is on double acting duty as Jamie and The Doctor, with Anneke Willis playing Polly and the narrator. But the biggie here is the casting of Elliot Chapman as Ben (originally played on TV by the late Michael Craze).

The story starts with The Doctor and chums landing on the Earth colony of New Houston to visit The Doctor’s old friend, Meg Carvossa, who he once helped to defeat an alien invasion before she became President.

The problem is that the colony, which has 22 million registered voters, appears to be largely inhabited only by worn out robot servants (the eponymous Yes Men, voiced by Stephen Critchlow), with hardly a human in sight. There’s certainly no sign of Meg Carvossa (Jane Slavin) who appears to have died of cancer, a heart attack, a stroke and a blow to the head. Among other things.

In a world viewed from the 1960s, but appearing far more familiar to those of us from the 21st century (flat computers that you operate with your fingers and shops selling an assortment of strange coffees, anyone?), The Doctor and Polly set off to the Central Intelligence Bank to find out what happened to Meg with the help of obsequious civil servant – the brilliantly named Nesca Bandgate (Timothy Speyer).

While The Doctor and Polly are at the CIB, Jamie and Ben encounter the only other human around, Acting President, Harriet Quilp (Lizzie McInnerny) whose casual and callous disregard for Meg’s former robot servant shocks Ben and Jamie into action that leads them to a secret underworld city of broken, rejected robots playing at being human.

So, how does Elliot Chapman do in his first turn as Ben? Well, he’s cheeky and very engaging and we’d like to have heard more from him in this adventure. Everyone at Big Finish can safely let out a rather large puff of relief at a job well done. Frazer Hines is great as both The Doctor and Jamie, but the standout performances are delivered by Anneke Wills as Polly and the Narrator. Effortlessly switching between characters, Wills excels in both roles. After the first five minutes, though, who plays who scarcely matters and Simon Guerrier’s well-constructed tale takes over.

There are some important moral questions raised about the robot servants as they heartbreakingly recreate the human world in the sewers below it. Are they merely copying what they see above ground or have they really become sentient? And if they really are sentient, what does this mean for the human population they’ve so loyally served?

There are also questions about Meg’s morality as we see that her good intentions to save her colony became corrupted along the way until she becomes a woman The Doctor no longer recognises as his old friend.

The moral ambiguity comes to a head rather delightfully as the robots, having learned from Jamie and Ben, fight to be heard in a purposefully destructive manner, complete with a Jamie-esque Scottish war cry! In an art-imitating-life scenario, The Yes Men also shows the fate that can await a politician who has become completely out-of-touch with the feelings of their constituents.

The Yes Men is a fantastically solid bit of Doctor Who storytelling, where mysteries are solved with good old-fashioned observation and brain power, and problems are overcome with bravery, intelligence and heart. And not a single mention of a sonic you-know-what.

Thanks to Big Finish