Review – Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 2 – The Ghost Monument

Review – Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 2 –  The Ghost Monument

The Ghost Monument

 

It was like going back in time.

Doctor Who’s new opening titles came crashing in without a pre-titles teaser segment.

It felt like the good, old fashioned, days of the Doctor Who I grew up with in the 1970s and 1980s, were back.

Fourth Doctor Tom Baker and fifth Doctor Peter Davison never needed pre-titles teasers, even at the beginning of a story. As the story progressed the titles led straight into the last moments of the previous episode’s cliff hanger.

That’s exactly what we got with Series 11, Episode 2, The Ghost Monument.

The show’s new titles felt deeply grounded in Doctor Who’s 55-year past. Series 11’s theme music, presumably arranged by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumnus Segun Akinola, felt like an amalgamation of several previous eras. The visuals were definitely anchored in the eras of the first two Doctors, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.

When we last saw the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) and Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), they were floating in space about to die of asphyxiation.

The Ghost Moment picks up from that point, subtly suggesting that the whole of Series 1, Episode 1, The Woman Who Fell To Earth was, in fact, an hour long teaser.

Whittaker’s Doctor stood up against an alien menace to be counted last week, just as any newly generated Doctor should, but this week executive producer and writer Chris Chibnall allowed the 13th incarnation of the Time Lord (Lady?) to find her voice.

Whittaker’s Doctor is less alien than previous incarnations of the character, which makes her more grounded. Hyper intelligent, as always, but less showy, and confident to a tee.

Chibnall delivers another edge of your seater, making you wonder what’s going to happen next.

Angstrom (Susan Lynch) and Epzo (Shaun Dooley) feel like two side of the same space coin.

The Doctor’s reunion with her beloved TARDIS is heart-warming. While being new and fresh, the interior echoes many aspects of the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS.

Two episodes in to Series 11 and we’re one fifth of the way through the series.

SYNOPSIS

Still reeling from their first encounter, can the Doctor and her new friends stay alive long enough in a hostile alien environment to solve the mystery of Desolation? And just who are Angstrom and Epzo?

CREDITS

The Doctor: Jodie Whittaker

Graham O’Brien: Bradley Walsh

Ryan Sinclair: Tosin Cole

Yasmin Khan: Mandip Gill

Angstrom: Susan Lynch

Epzo: Shaun Dooley

Ilin: Art Malik

Voice of the Remnants: Ian Gelder

Writer: Chris Chibnall

Series Producer: Nikki Wilson

Executive Producer: Chris Chibnall

Executive Producer: Matt Strevens

 

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Review – Quantum Leap The Complete Series

Quantum Leap Complete CollectionQuantum Leap is billed as a science-fiction show. It began in 1989 and ran for five seasons. Its main stars were Scott Bakula, who went on to star in Star Trek Enterprise and CSI, and Dean Stockwell, who appeared in the re imagined Battlestar Galactica.

Bakula plays scientist Sam Beckett in charge of a time-travel project. When funding is threatened he enters the time stream and finds himself leaping from body to body where he has to put something right before he can leap out again. He is assisted by a rather lecherous hologram, Al, who only Sam can see and gives Sam needed information through Ziggy, a super-computer. Sam can end up in the body of someone at any point in his own time-line.

This all sounds very science-fiction but this aspect of the show is fairly light. Sam is a kind of Doctor Who travelling through time without a TARDIS. However, it is more a series of human interest stories than anything else. The quantum leap is a vehicle to get Sam from one story to the next. In that respect it is like The Fugitive for those who know about the 60s television series. Richard Kimble traveled from place to place helping people. Finding the one-armed killer of his wife to clear his name only happened at the end when the series was wrapped up.

Quantum Leap is like this and it does risk not having enough science-fiction in it for hard core sci-fi fans or too much for those only partial to human interest stories. But this format gives scope for a wide variety of stories and most possible angles are explored.

There is a natural comedy to being suddenly pitched into someone else, which is the show’s signature, giving it a cliff-hanger in every story. This concept allows genre crossover which Quantum Leap takes full advantage of. So it might be a detective story, thriller, horror, comedy, war story, weird Kafkaesque farce, or something else. Or a combination of genres, as at times it poses as one type of story before a twist makes it another.

Sam can be any age, colour or gender which is useful for social issue stories. Once he was a pregnant teenager about to give birth with arguments about whether he could actually do that and where the baby really was, dished up with a great hilarity.

Sam occasionally meets historical figures so it’s a bit like Young Indiana Jones and alters time-lines only on a personal level, not in major ways. In reality Sam would quickly have a complete breakdown, would go outside the US, and people would notice how different the person had suddenly become. But the show doesn’t take itself too seriously and fans should accept it for the mostly light-hearted fun it is.

So Quantum Leap is hugely entertaining for a wide audience and those who remember seeing it back in the day will be pleasantly surprised how good it still is.

All five seasons now come in a boxed set.

In the very short first season the series was finding its feet which shows, and the pilot episode lacks an ‘origin’ story. The graphics were noticeably upgraded in the second season and the writing improved with each season.

Some popular episodes were recycled so watching them in a boxed set means they are out of sequence or discontinuous which is slightly confusing and annoying. Nothing is missing though and, as you go on, it just gets better and better. For old fans or those who would like to become fans, it’s worth having and I rate it 8 out of 10.

– Reviewed by Dave Calderwood

Rocket man launches Rocket Lab

Rocket man launches Rocket Lab

It takes a rocket man to launch a rocket lab.

William Shatner, known to millions as Star Trek’s original Captain James T. Kirk, opened Rocket Lab’s new high-volume production facility in Mt Wellington, Auckland, today. (October 12, 2018) The legendary actor was watched by invited guests including myself and Company-X director David Hallett.

William, who performed Elton John’s pop hit Rocket Man at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards, was joined at the opening ceremony of the Levene Place, Mt Wellington, facility by Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck.

Rocket Lab’s new production facility and expands the company’s global footprint.

The new 7,500 sq/m (80,700 sq/ft) rocket development and production facility adds to Rocket Lab’s existing production facility and headquarters in Huntington Beach, California. The new facility rethinks the way orbital rockets are built and brings Rocket Lab’s manufacturing footprint to more than 4.5 acres and enables the company to build an Electron rocket every week.

“Every detail of the Rocket Lab launch system has been designed to provide small satellites with rapid and reliable access to space. This requires the ability to manufacture launch vehicles at an unprecedented rate, so we’ve expanded our global production capability to build and launch an Electron rocket to orbit every week,” Peter says.

“We have the team, the industry-leading launch vehicle, the global production facilities and the launch sites to liberate the small satellite market. Rocket Lab has opened access to orbit.”

Electron launch vehicles undergo final assembly at the new Auckland facility, where all parts go through a streamlined process for testing and integration into the rocket before launch from Rocket Lab’s private orbital launch pad, Launch Complex 1, on the Māhia Peninsula in Hawke’s Bay.

All Electron launches, including the upcoming It’s Business Time launch in November, will be commanded from the new Mission Control at the Auckland facility. This Mission Control will serve launches from Launch Complex 1 in Māhia, as well as Rocket Lab’s US launch site, which is currently undergoing final selection. The new production facility will house more than 200 of Rocket Lab’s growing team of 330 people. Rocket Lab is actively recruiting for an additional 180 roles across New Zealand and the United States to support monthly launches in 2019, scaling to weekly launches by the end of 2020.

The design of Rocket Lab’s new Auckland facility, including the custom-built Mission Control, was designed by Auckland architects Designgroup Stapleton Elliott, with building and installation carried out by Format.

 

Review – Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 1 The Woman Who Fell To Earth

Review – Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 1 The Woman Who Fell To Earth

Jodie Whittaker is the first woman to play the lead in Doctor Who.

It was revealed on July 16. 2017, in a trailer broadcast on BBC One at the end of the Wimbledon men’s singles final.

After 12 lifetimes as a man the 13th Doctor would be played by a woman.

The announcement had been expected since Michelle Gomez appeared as Missy, a female regeneration of the Doctor’s oldest nemesis the Master, in the Series 8 opener Deep Breath in 2014.

But the Master was full of tricks and we had not actually seen he became a she in front of our eyes.

But I felt uneasy about the prospect of the Doctor’s sex change.

A year later an old white male Gallifreyan General regenerated into a young black woman before our eyes in Hell Bent.

I was more shocked at the gun wielding Doctor causing the regeneration by pulling the trigger.  Whatever happened to him defeating his opponents with his superior intellect?

None of this was taken into consideration when the news of Whittaker’s casting reached our breakfast table on July 17 (New Zealand time).

“Oh, my goodness, they’ve revealed the next Doctor and it’s a woman.”

My youngest son, then seven years old, was first to voice an objection. But it was nothing to do with the character’s new sex.

“I wanted to be the next Doctor,” he said.

I might have reacted the same at seven.

My daughter, aged nine, was next to object.

“I wanted to be the next Doctor,” she said.

Then it hit me like an out of control TARDIS. Because of this brave casting decision by the show’s new show runner, Chris Chibnall, either of them could be the next Doctor or the Doctor after that.

I didn’t recognise Whittaker when I first saw her in the trailer, or her name, but when I discovered she had played Beth in Chibnall’s nail biting whodunnit Broadchurch I became excited. Doctor Who’s new show runner had decided the best person to play the next Doctor was one of Broadchurch’s leads. That was good enough for me.

The Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special Twice Upon A Time, which aired six months after the Whittaker’s casting announcement, Capaldi changed into Whittaker right in front of our eyes.

Ten months later my family and I finally arrived at the first episode of Whittaker’s tenure in the TARDIS or, more accurately, out of it. The Doctor’s iconic time ship, last seen exploding in Twice Upon A Time, doesn’t make an appearance in this story. One can’t help wondering whether the show runner chose to leave it out to give his new lead a chance to shine and shine she does.

Whittaker proves she is more than capable of filling Capaldi’s boots, and the many actors who have played the role before them, and that’s saying something.

Christopher Eccleston is a cheeky chappie of a Doctor from the North, David Tennant is a nerd do well of a Doctor, Matt Smith is (lovingly) a mad man with a box and Peter Capaldi is a white-haired Scotsman of a Doctor. Splendid chaps, all of them, and Whittaker is their equal.

From the moment Whittaker crashes through the roof of a stationery Sheffield railway carriage like a comet, interrupting an invading alien presence, she fills the screen in the same way that each and every one of her predecessors has before her.

But she doesn’t know who she is.

The amnesic 13th Doctor is clever and commanding at the same time, without showing off.  We know who she is if she doesn’t. But she immediately instills a strong sense of trust in her gang of new companions.

“You’re my friend now,” she quips to one of them as she takes off, after the escaping invader, allowing the script to briefly play lip service to the sex change before the Doctor and her new companions give chase.

Another alien nasty enters the story and the body count begins.

The highlight, like in every other Doctor’s first story, was that magical moment when the new Doctor from dizzying heights finds herself and stands up to be counted.

Not once was there doubt about Whittaker’s new Doctor.

My youngest son, now eight, loved Whittaker’s portrayal so much that he proclaimed her his favourite Doctor yet.

The future of Doctor Who, with Whittaker under Chibnall’s watch, is in very good hands.

 

 

Doctor doll

Doctor dllBBC Studios and Mattel have partnered to release the first ever Doctor Who Limited Edition Barbie doll, a media release I received today said.

Cool!

It has been created in celebration of the new series of Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker, which premiered on ABC and ABC iView yesterday.”

Not to mention TVNZ On Demand!

Pre-sale in Australia starts today, Tuesday 9 October, available via zingpopculture.com.au and  ebgames.com.au and in Zing Pop Culture stores in December.

Nicole Chungue, Licensing Manager for BBC Studios ANZ, says “This year, we’re introducing an all-new look for Doctor Who. New monsters, new stories, new characters and of course a new Doctor in Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to play the role.

Given Barbie’s celebration of women who have made history, as well as iconic characters from some of the best loved movies and shows, we felt it was a great opportunity to work with Mattel to create a doll based on the Thirteenth Doctor.

The Doctor Who Barbie doll offers fans and collectors a new way to celebrate the adventures of this iconic character and we’re delighted to be able to bring this to Australia through Zing Pop Culture.”

Melissa Davey, Senior Buyer & Licensing for EB Games & Zing Pop Culture, said: “‘EB and Zing couldn’t be more thrilled for the new Doctor and to be embarking on a new journey with the fans. What better way to celebrate than giving whovians the opportunity to get their hands on their very own Doctor Who Barbie”.

Exploring the universe, the Doctor Who Barbie wears a rainbow-striped t-shirt, paired with cropped trousers and a trench coat. Additional, true-to-character details include Doctor Who signature braces and lace-up boots. With sonic screwdriver in hand, this collectable Barbie doll is fully posable and sculpted to the likeness of her onscreen character.”

Out Now: Star Trek Magazine No: 68 Fall 2018

Out Now: Star Trek Magazine No: 68 Fall 2018
Star Trek Magazine #68 features the last part of Chris A Mad Man With A Blog’s Chris Gardner’s History of the Future.

Future History

The Klingon Empire: These Prime Universe Klingons can teach us Terrans nothing!

War and Peace

Star Trek Magazine’s epic, multi-part future history of the Klingon Empire, by A Mad Man With A Blog’s Chris Gardner concludes, as peace breaks out between the Empire and the United Federation of Planets, and the two galactic powers combine forces to take out the might of the Dominion. Meanwhile, in the Delta Quadrant, a half-Klingon/half-human rebel joins the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager. . .

William Shatner returns to New Zealand

William Shatner returns to New Zealand

New Zealand audiences will get another rare chance to see Star Trek actor William Shatner live on Stage in October.

1996-03 Star Trek Monthly Star Prints 1.1
William Shatner, right, as Captain James T. Kirk, alongside Yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) and Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

Here’s my interview with Shatner which appeared on Stuff on October 4, 2015, ahead of his 2015 show Shatner’s World: You Just Live In It:

The wonderful world of William Shatner

“Why is it Shatner’s World?” asks an ebullient William Shatner. “I would have called it your world, but I didn’t know your name then!”

The 84-year-old Star Trek captain arrives in Auckland this week to give a solo performance that he’s fizzing about. “This one man show is as good as it gets for me,” says Shatner as he prepares to perform Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It, at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on October 10. “I have written it, essentially I’ve directed it, and I am touring in it and it is a joy to perform. It’s the combination of my abilities as an actor.”

Shatner, best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek television and film series and lawyer Denny Crane in Boston Legal, loves being back on stage following Kirk, Crane and Beyond which he performed in Auckland in 2011.

“It’s a wonderful evening in the theatre,” he said of his new show. “It’s filled with laughter and tears and the connection between me and the audience is very . . .  unusual.

“I talk about love and death as well, I talk about children, I talk about music, I talk about gorillas, I talk about motorcycles, I talk about a variety of subjects, and all of it having to do with the awe of saying yes to the energy of life, the relish of saying yes to the energy of life, and that’s what I’m about.”

Footage of previous performances show a man with the energy of some half his age. What’s his secret?

“Well, I’d like to say it was the purity of my living, but it’s obviously genetic and one of these days I’ll just fall down and won’t get up . . . I’ll delay that for as long as possible.”

In the meantime Shatner is working on a couple of books, one being a tribute to Star Trek co-star Leonard Nimoy who died in February told through the context of Shatner’s 50 year friendship with the Spock actor.

“I’m in the middle of writing it now,” Shatner said.

“You know, when you have a friend, which is not unlike having a partner in life like a wife or husband, and they leave what leaves with them is the validation of those memories that you shared. So if something major happened between the two of you it begins to fade from your memory if you don’t say ‘remember that laugh we had?’ So the memories of the event fade and the event might as well not have happened. That’s how sad it is.”

Shatner confessed to not having seen the remastered versions of his television series, a kind of special edition released in 2009 with updated special effects.

“I haven’t seen that, no. I’ll have to take a look. Are the special effects good?”

Come September next year it’s 50 years since the broadcast of the first episode of Star Trek and the cast of J. J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek films are marking it with a new film called Star Trek Beyond.

“I would love for them to come up with a way of using me, I’ve told them that,” Shatner said.

“J. J. Abrams has solved the mystery of how to get more audience into a Star Trek movie . . . It’s a big hurrah, it’s a tour de force of the CGI effects, and J. J. Abrams is a master at that. So, yes I’m delighted that they are a success and that J. J. is a great director.

“It’s a little different, they do things that I don’t think (the late Star Trek creator) Gene Roddenberry would have okayed, but it’s a new reality. Knowing Gene, he’d have been paid quite well and I think he’d be very happy.”

Shatner described the show as modern mythology.

“The stories had a meaning to them, and those are the best of any story, and certainly the best of Star Trek.”

Boston Legal creator David E. Kelley famously wrote the part of Denny Crane with Shatner in mind. The actor said there was quite a bit of himself in Crane, and vice versa.

“Well there’s a great deal in that as you get older the big fears, the senility of one kind or another that you will lose your mind and won’t know who you are. We’ve all seen these terrible, terrible, examples of that, and so my identification of this character who verged on the edge of being a little silly, and sometimes wasn’t and sometimes was, I felt a great depth of sympathy for him.

“There’s a great deal of me in Denny Crane, but that’s the same me that 50 years younger was another character, so it’s all me.”

Shatner is also known for the way he turns popular songs into soliloquies. The one he is most proud of is his interpretation of Pulp’s Common People which appears on Shatner’s 2004 album Has Been.

“I sang it with a rock and roll guy and I had to match his energy, but I was doing the lyric and he was screaming the song but we met somewhere in the middle and it works,” he said.

So is there anything he wished he’d done?

“Well, that list is endless, I’m thinking of ladies in the past,” and I imagine him winking down the phone before he gets serious.

“My life is so, so loved, by me and the people around me. I love what I’m doing. I’ve got my health, I’m gainfully employed. I’m talking to you about a one man show . . . I’m going to have the joy of performing it in front of the audiences that are there to enjoy it . . . How can I want for anything else?”

1996-04 Star Trek Monthly Star Prints 1.5
William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek.

SHATNER’S WORLD – THE RETURN DOWN UNDER PRESS RELEASE

Without doubt, one of the most popular and recognisable cultural icons in the world today.

“He has gone where no man has gone before, chased down criminals in an unnamed city strangely resembling Los Angeles and fought off demons while speaking Esperanto. And a half-century into his Hollywood career, he still has the. Most. Recognizable. Cadence. In Showbiz. At 87, William Shatner has no plans to slow down.” Washington Post

William Shatner, pop culture icon, television superstar and raconteur extraordinaire, is returning to NZ with SHATNER’S WORLD – THE RETURN DOWN UNDER this October in Auckland, and for the very first time, Christchurch and Wellington.

Sharing more stories, songs, jokes and musings Shatner’s World, THE RETURN DOWN UNDER takes audiences on a 100 minute theatrical voyage through his life and career, from Shakespearean stage actor to internationally acclaimed icon and raconteur, known as much for his unique persona as his expansive body of work including Star Trek, Boston Legal, the publication of 30 books and the release of several spoken word albums, his latest, a soon to be released country music album and Christmas album!

“I’ve done this one-man show on Broadway and in many cities across the United States,” said William Shatner. “At the curtain call, the audiences’ reaction, their love and appreciation, moved me to tears. This show has been one of the highlights of my life.”

Bringing it back to where it all started is very special. With “The Return Down Under” I’ll be bringing more stories and songs. When you have been around and have worked in this business for as long as I have, there’s a heck of a lot to share. New Zealand audiences will also be able to hear some of my latest musical endeavours performed live for the very first time. It’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

Shatner’s World has been described as a, “chatty, digressive, and often amusing tour of his [Shatner’s] unusual acting career,” by the New York Times, “a fun evening of personal reminiscence, gossip, video clips and old-fashioned humor,” by AM New York and “equal parts endearing and funny – a mixture of two worlds, really: every day and rarefied,” by The Philadelphia Enquirer. Shatner himself has been praised as, “the most confident of performers,” by The Record and “a personality of galactic proportions,” by the New York Post. Shatner’s humour and ability to poke fun at himself, make this show a must-see memoir of a Hollywood veteran’s life.

Shatner is an award-winning actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist, philanthropist and horseman. In 1966, he introduced the character of Captain James T. Kirk in the television series “Star Trek.” The series became a film franchise with Shatner as Kirk in seven movies, one of which he directed. He also played the title role in the hit series “T. J. Hooker” before hosting TV’s first reality-based series “Rescue 911.” Shatner won two Emmys and his first Golden Globe for his portrayal of Denny Crane on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” and received four additional Emmy nominations as well as Golden Globes and SAG Awards.

Off screen, Shatner has authored over 30 bestsellers in both the fiction and non-fiction genres. His autobiography “Up Till Now” was a New York Times bestseller and in 2011 he released “Shatner Rules,” a collection of rules illustrated with stories from his personal life and career. In 2016 Shatner released “Leonard: My Fifty Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man” about his enduring friendship with the late Leonard Nimoy.

He has also been successful in another area—horse breeding. A dedicated breeder of American Quarter horses, he has had enormous success with the American Saddlebred, developing and riding world champions and has won numerous world championships in several events.

Read more.

1997-05 Star Trek Monthly Star Prints 2.5
Captain Kirk was the beating heart at the centre of science fiction’s most famous triumvirate.