The Doctor and Clara reunite for a final outing together aboard the Orient Express. In space. Just one small problem. There’s a killer mummy on the loose. And once someone has seen it they’ve only 66 seconds left to live…

There’s a body AND there’s a mummy. I mean, can you not just get on a train? Did a wizard put a curse on you about mini-breaks?

Taking its lead from Agatha Christie’s most famous whodunnit, Murder on the Orient Express, Jamie Mathieson’s impressive debut script for Doctor Who, is one of the most rounded and enjoyable adventures for the Time Lord in quite a while. “The Queen of Crime” meets Universal Horror’s 1932 The Mummy and Hammer Horror’s 1959 The Mummy.

A gloriously lavish, scary, entertaining base-under-siege romp, Mummy on the Orient Express also contains strong echoes of Horror Express, the criminally underrated 1972 Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee starring horror yarn set aboard the Trans-Siberian Express in 1906. This is a film worth hunting down simply for Cushing’s classic line of “Monster? We’re British, you know” in retort to the suggestion that he or Lee may have been infected by the mind transferring monster.

Doctor Who - S8 E8 Mummy on the Orient Express

Peter Capaldi’s lugubrious Twelfth Doctor and the fastidious little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who investigated the original Murder on the Orient Express, are polar opposites in terms of character and appearance. Looking reminiscent of a Victorian undertaker, the Doctor spends much of Mummy on the Orient Express predicting doom, death and destruction. Capaldi’s Doctor owes much to the obsessive anti-heroes that Cushing and Lee played during their years at Hammer Horror, Amicus Productions, and other cinematic horror outings. Ultimately on the side of the angels but unafraid to use dark methods to achieve their victories. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s once again time for that new Hallowe’en tradition of All Hallow’s Read. On 31 October, or the days preceding, give away a scary book or three rather than handing over tricks or treats.

More information on All Hallow’s Read can be found here. Use the hashtag #AllHallowsRead on social media.

And once again Introverted Wife has done splendid posters for All Hallow’s Read. Posters for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 can be found at the blog too.

All Hallow's Read 2014 1 How is a Raven like a Library?
All Hallow's Read 2014 2 The Pool of ReflectionsAll Hallow's Read 2014 3 Some BookAll Hallow's Read 2014 4 Light Grave Reading

 

As terror stalks the Moon and the Earth’s constant companion faces destruction, the Doctor’s alien nature finally becomes too much for Clara to cope with.

We have a terrible decision to make. It’s an uncertain decision, and we don’t have a lot of time. The man who normally helps – he’s gone. Maybe he’s not coming back. In fact, I really don’t think he is. We’re on our own…

If this series of NuWho had been split in two, as happened with Series 6 and 7, then Kill the Moon would have been the obvious point of separation. Although it’s nice to have a straight run of episodes once more (for the first time since 2010) this would’ve been a hell of a cliffhanger to leave viewers on at the end of Series 8, Part 1. Imagine the echoes of Clara’s storming out of the TARDIS in the wake of the Doctor’s actions on the Moon remaining unresolved for seven months instead of seven days.

Doctor Who - S8 E7 Kill the Moon

Peter Harness’ first script for Doctor Who was a curate’s egg of delights, horror and atrocious humour. Told to “Hinchcliffe the shit out of it” for the first part of Kill the Moon, i.e. deliver the kind of spine-chilling horror that infused Doctor Who when the legendary Philip Hinchcliffe was the producer. With cobwebbed-festooned corpses, goosebump-raising scuttlings and giant spider-like killer bacteria, this horror-tinged quota was fulfilled and exceeded. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a comedy of errors and confusion as a mysterious Doctor with a Scottish accent once again tries to save Coal Hill School from an alien incursion.

So, if anybody needs me just, you know, give me a shout. I’ll be in the storeroom just getting the lie of the land. Yes, nobody’s taking any notice at all. Absolutely good news because it means I must be coming across just as an absolutely boring human being like you. Deep cover, deep cover.

The Caretaker is a science fiction romantic comedy. At its heart lies a bizarre love triangle between Clara (Jenna Coleman), Danny (Samuel Anderson) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi). Clara loves Danny romantically and the Doctor platonically; Danny loves Clara romantically and dislikes the Doctor for his superior attitude; the Doctor needs Clara to reign in his recklessness and can’t understand why she’s chosen Danny over Eleventh Doctor lookalike Adrian (Edward Harrison).

Doctor Who - S8 E6 The Caretaker

Clara’s efforts to balance her dual identities of plain old English teacher and voyager through space and time have an air of almost Shakespearean farce and superhero concealment to them. Her desperate attempt to forge a loving relationship to balance out the madness experienced with a wandering mad man in a box. The Caretaker is where the wheels come off as Danny and the Doctor meet. And immediately hate each other…

A Skovox Blitzer. One of the deadliest killing machines ever created. Probably homed in here because of Artron emissions. You’ve had enough of them in this area over the years. There’s enough explosive in its armoury to take out the whole planet.

Since 1963 Shoreditch’s Coal Hill School has experienced its fair share of surreptitious alien visitations. An Unearthly Child revealed the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford) studying at the school. Then, mere days after Susan’s sudden departure (along with two teachers), the school was evacuated in Remembrance of the Daleks as it became a battleground for a conflict between Imperial Daleks, Renegade Daleks and the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). Now there’s an extraterrestrial war machine called the Skovox Blitzer roaming around – attracted to the school due to all the artron energy gathered there from time traveller visitations… Read the rest of this entry »

Currently dubbed Project One, the new James Bond novel by Anthony Horowitz, creator of Foyle’s War and Alex Rider, will be published on 8 September 2015. The novel will be unique amongst the continuation novels in that it will be based on previously unseen material written by Ian Fleming. 

Set in the 1950s Project One will contain a section based upon a story treatment entitled Murder on Wheels that, along with material contained within the For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy and The Living Daylights story collections, was originally developed by Fleming for a potential James Bond TV series before the film series was created.

Set at the Nurburgring in Germany, Murder on Wheels would have seen 007 thwart a Russian plot to cause racing legend Stirling Moss to crash. Series regulars M and Miss Moneypenny are also included in the treatment.

Anthony Horowitz

Previously responsible for brilliantly resurrecting Sherlock Holmes in 2011’s The House of Silk (with a followup of Moriarty due this month) Horowitz will be following in the steps of recent continuation authors Sebastian Faulks, Jeffrey Deaver and Wiliam Boyd. Of the novels penned by this trio only Faulks’ Devil May Care has come close to evoking the spirit of Fleming’s 007. Deaver’s modern day reboot Carte Blanche failed to impress and Boyd’s Solo felt like a novel about African civil wars with Bond shoehorned in.

With a truly impressive author on board and the spirit of Bond’s creator as a jumping off point the signs for Project One are extremely positive.

The full press release from Ian Fleming Publications Ltd and the Ian Fleming Estate can be read here.

Five episodes in and here’s the first truly naff adventure for Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor as Ocean’s Eleven meets Doctor Who with a generous dollop of timey-timey garnishing a turkey of a tale.

What, do you have to reach a high shelf?

Time’s a curse for the Doctor. Not so much travelling back and forth through the time vortex (though of course that always contains inherent dangers for the Time Lord) but rather the placement of “time” within a story title. Such an act generally results in unmemorable Doctor Who outings. Now that dubious tradition continues with Time Heist.

Following this “musing” on Time Heist there’s a list of the fourteen Doctor Who television stories to date containing “time” in the title. Of those only four can claim any kudos beyond being a woeful combination of poor scripting, poor acting, poor production. Those four being The Time Meddler, Time Crash, The End of Time and The Time of Angels. The other ten just don’t make the grade. Even the presence of Sontarans, the Master and Colin Baker’s “robust” acting can’t save them from ignominy.

Doctor Who - S8 E5 Time Heist

Ok, there’s fifteen if Dimensions in Time, the excrement that’s 1993’s Children in Need special is counted. But no true Doctor Who even acknowledges the existence of those 13 minutes of direness Ever. To think that this rubbish exists in the archives whilst episode three of The Web of Fear remains lost…

The genesis of Time Heist clearly lies with the Ocean’s Trilogy of heist films. A group of brilliantly cool characters undertaking complicated heists to gain access to seemingly impregnable facilities with non-linear storytelling thrown into the mix. With this Doctor’s Four the silver-haired fox leading proceedings is Peter Capaldi as opposed to George Clooney. Read the rest of this entry »

Steven Moffat’s attempt to return to the creepy atmosphere of his earliest work on Doctor Who fails to live up to expectations as he undermines proceedings with an unnecessary glimpse into the Doctor’s childhood.

Do you have your own mood lighting now, because frankly, the accent is enough.

Listen was founded upon an intriguing premise. A hidden species coexisting alongside all others from time’s very beginning to its very end. So perfectly hidden in plain sight it can only be glimpsed in dreams and nightmares when the conscious mind is inactive. An unseen presence in the ilk of a His Dark Materials daemon – a constant and necessary companion on life’s journey. The potential existed for the introduction of a monster as memorable as the Weeping Angels. A modern day A Ghost Story for Christmas complete with creaks, shadows and chills.

Doctor Who - S8 E4 Listen

Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is the perfect incarnation to head up a tale of something wicked this way comes. His Scottish accent could easily render the recitation of a telephone book scary. His angular frown-lined face is perfect for throwing in moody relief. An ideal fellow to lead a ghost tour of the Edinburgh Vaults in fact. Yet, despite his unsettling persona, he’s as much a champion against the darkness as any of the other more “user-friendly” Doctors. He’s also overwhelmed with the kind of insatiable curiosity that ultimately doomed the Fifth Doctor in The Caves of Androzani. The Doctor must know the answer to any mystery – no matter what the cost to himself. Read the rest of this entry »

Gadzooks! It’s thigh-slapping farce and clashing egos all round as two legends cross sword and spoon. But how can Robin Hood possibly be real?

No castles, no damsels in distress, no such thing as Robin Hood!

It appears that Mark Gatiss didn’t receive the special memo from Steven Moffat. The one detailing how Peter Capaldi’s incarnation was to be a darker, more brooding, and intense presence than any previous Nu-Who Doctor. Robot of Sherwood (a not-so subtle pun on Robin of Sherwood) proved to be a decidedly mediocre romp from the pen of the normally reliable Mr Gatiss (surely the next showrunner when Moffat calls it a day?).

Whereas Deep Breath and Into the Dalek were stories only tellable with the Twelfth Doctor in place, Robot of Sherwood is easily adaptable as an adventure for any of the Doctors. It’d be perfect for Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor duelling with Roger Delgado’s Master, or Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor trading barbs with Anthony Ainley’s Master. Think The Time Monster or The King’s Demons, and then imagine the Master parading around a studio at the BBC as the Sheriff of Nottingham with his tongue firmly in cheek.

Doctor Who - S8 E3 Robot of Sherwood

For much of the time Peter Capaldi looks like a guest star in his own programme, mainly bitching about how happy Robin and his band are, whilst Jenna Coleman’s Clara goes all fangirl over meeting the legendary outlaw. For once the companion throws herself into an improbable tale more than the Time Lord. The frivolous scenes where the Doctor attempts to prove that Robin and his Merry Men are androids, robots, or replicants of some nature, through the taking of various samples, is another of those moments (as with the colour of kidneys line from The Time of the Doctor) that simply don’t work for the Twelfth Doctor. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s time for Doctor Who to go “Into Dalekness” in an exploration of the alien hearts of darkness beating within the Doctor and the Daleks.

Clara, be my pal. Tell me… am I a good man?

When Doctor Who previously lifted inspiration from Fantastic Voyage the life form that the Fourth Doctor found himself inside of in The Invisible Enemy was himself. Now, in the second adventure for the Twelfth Doctor, the Time Lord and Clara found themselves miniaturised and sent Into the Dalek. A Dalek so badly damaged by internal radiation leakage that it’s core programming had been overridden to place it on the side of the angels. As their original “birth” as instruments of ethic cleansing was due to radiation there’s a certain irony in radiation taking “Rusty”, as the Doctor dubbed the damaged Dalek, to a new level of evolution.

Doctor Who S8 E2 Into the Dalek

It’s an intriguing concept and one explored to the full by co-writers Phil Ford and Steven Moffat. It’s the first time that Moffat has taken a co-writing credit on Doctor Who. Given the amount of uncredited rewriting he must do to other scripts as showrunner his work with Ford must have been significant. Ford’s previous contribution to Nu-Who was another collaboration, The Waters of Mars with then-showrunner Russell T Davies.

The examination of the Doctor’s morality vs. the hatred of a species bent on racial purity has been a key theme of Dalek stories in Nu-Who. But is the Doctor’s loathing of the Daleks tainting his soul? Is his view of the Daleks no better than their genocidal view of all other races in existence? Is it possible that his crusade to rid all of history of the influence of the Daleks has made the Doctor no better than his archenemies?

Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Capaldi’s arrival as the more alien Twelfth Doctor heralds a darker, more violent, and potentially controversial, new direction for Doctor Who.

Well, here we go again.

As the eighth series of 21st century Doctor Who (hereafter known as “Nu-Who”, rhyming with “yoohoo”) drew closer and closer Steven Moffat harkened on to anyone and everyone who’d listen about the more alien and adult nature of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Combined with the promise of a more horror-orientated tone to proceedings, this evoked in longterm fans memories of the early Tom Baker “gothic horror” years – widely regarded as the series’ Golden Age.

Doctor Who - S8 E1 Deep Breath

Once upon a time the template for 21st century Doctor Who was the fast-paced, lavishly produced, Douglas Adams-penned romp City of Death. Now it seemed that the Doctor’s adventures would owe their heritage to the darkly humoured, violent and dramatic tales orchestrated by the popular and acclaimed Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes. Delivering classics such as Pyramids of Mars, The Robots of Death and The Talons of Weng-Chiang, this period of Doctor Who was also its most controversial, as the production team frequently crossed swords with moral watchdogs.

In recent years Moffat’s hype had been built upon rocky foundations. Little substance delivered from a multitude of promises. As his stewardship of Doctor Who continued Moffat’s deservedly award-wining early successes, such as Blink, faded away to be replaced by painful tripe like The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor. Despite the questionable quality of recent stories, the series’ popularity was at an all-time high in its 50th anniversary year and the more youthful and romantic Tenth and Eleventh Doctors were fan favourites. Would Moffat really go down a potentially dangerous path and alter so much of the format virtually overnight?

Incredibly the answer has been yes. A resounding fantastic yes. For once Moffat delivered on a promise. And how! The difference between The Time of the Doctor and Deep Breath is astounding. Whereas Matt Smith’s finale was a bloated incoherent leviathan, Capaldi’s debut delivered a gritty character-based drama. Read the rest of this entry »