TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ 2019 Special – “Resolution”

New year, new dangers…

d who - resolution

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her friends welcome a new year as a deadly threat to humanity looms (image credit: BBC, used for illustrative purposes only).

Starring:  Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Daniel Adegboyega, Charlotte Ritchie, Nikesh Patel, Nicholas Briggs

Written by:  Chris Chibnall / episode directed by:  Jamie Childs & Wayne Yip

What’s it about?

The Doctor faces a new challenge from an old enemy as a new year on Earth dawns…

In review

In a break from tradition by foregoing a festive edition of Doctor Who on Christmas Day, the BBC instead brought viewers a special hour long episode for New Year’s Day (and the only new Doctor Who for 2019 with series 12 due to air in autumn 2020).  In “Resolution“ Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor once again faces her oldest and greatest enemy when a lone Dalek mutant, buried on Earth centuries prior is revived and blazes a path of terror as it sets about constructing a new armour casing and fulfil its plans in summoning a Dalek invasion fleet.

Jodie Whittaker’s debut series has been interesting if a little uneven (despite a strong premiere) and although “Resolution“ gets off to a sluggish start it shifts into higher gear as it moves into its second half.  It may not be the best Dalek story but it’s still a good one and like Steven Moffat before him, Chris Chibnall gives us something fresh and unusual from Doctor Who’s most iconic monster.  Although the Dalek creature itself is separated from its casing and weaponry it doesn’t diminish the threat of the Doctor’s enduring adversary and demonstrates the intelligence and ingenuity of a resourceful and dangerous foe (its MacGyver style method of constructing a new casing undoubtedly being a highlight of the episode) as it controls, or ‘pilots’ an unwitting human host (archaeologist Lin, played by Charlotte Ritchie) to accomplish its mission. Kudos should also go to voice artist Nicholas Briggs who continues to bring the Daleks unsettlingly to life, never failing to succeed in conveying the pure evil and ruthlessness of the alien menace.

Jodie Whittaker continues to make her mark in the role of the Doctor with an enthusiastic and quirky performance, she perhaps comes across a little too energetic at times but non-the-less continues to prove her worth as the titular lead character of one of SF TV’s most beloved series.  Facing Whittaker’s Doctor with the Daleks early on in her run is a wise move as it always provides the opportunity for any actor in the central Doctor Who role to bring their talents to the next level and a test of the resolve of any incarnation of the character.

There’s also a bit of social commentary thrown into the mix as we learn that the operations of UNIT, the security and defence organisation with a long association with the Doctor, have been suspended due to funding – a victim of the uncertainties of Brexit?  It’s also a bit of a shame (and a missed opportunity) as the prospect of teaming Jodie Whittaker up with Jemma Redgrave’s Kate Lethbridge-Stewart surely has a lot of merit.

Ryan reconnecting with his estranged father serves to further flesh out not just Ryan himself but also his ‘gramps’, Graham and their relationship.  Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh both turn in solid performances (and guest star Daniel Adegboyega is also effective as Ryan’s father, Aaron) and whilst those scenes threaten to drag out the pace and verge on being a little soap opera-y they still have narrative importance and facilitate emotional pay-off in the final act.  Consequently there’s less for Yaz (Mandip Gill) to do in this episode (supporting the argument that the TARDIS may have been overcrowded this season) but she still has a part to play and gets her own moments to shine.

The climax of “Resolution“ (capably directed by Jamie Childs & Wayne Yip) is a tense and exciting affair, with great special effects, well-staged action scenes and reasonably tight drama with a poignant and satisfying outcome.  With Whittaker and Chibnall’s first full season in the bag, capped off with this enjoyable New Year’s Day adventure here’s hoping that the series hits a more consistent stride next year.

The bottom line:  An entertaining special to round off a hit and miss debut season for Jodie Whittaker, “Resolution” renews the threat of an old menace that raises the stakes for the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends.

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ S11 EP01 “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”

A bold new era for the Doctor?

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) prepares for new adventures (image credit: BBC, used for illustrative purposes only).

Spoiler- free review

Starring:  Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Sharon D. Clarke, Samuel Oatley

Written by:  Chris Chibnall / episode directed by:  Jamie Childs

What’s it about?

Unbalanced following her regeneration, the Doctor makes some new friends as she grapples with an alien threat…

Episode review

The Doctor is back and she is magnificent.  Ever since the reveal of Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the successor to Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, there have been passionate debates – both for and against – among Doctor Who fans and the wider geek community as to the merits of the series moving in such a potentially controversial direction.  Would Whittaker merely be in place to ‘modernise’ the show or would there actually be creative merit in having the Doctor flip genders?

The answer to the above really is that it doesn’t matter, nor should it ever have – Doctor Who is all about change and exploring the new, something that – particularly in its contemporary iteration – the series has always achieved without sacrificing the core tenets of the franchise.  With new showrunner Chris Chibnall (who has previously written for post-2005 Doctor Who, including the 2010 two-parter “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood”, which reintroduced the Silurians) onboard and a new leading star, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” injects Doctor Who with fresh energy in a fun, yet dark and surprisingly mature adventure that sets up a new era for the series without straying too far from the familiar path.

There’s something comforting and reassuring about Jodie Whittaker, from her first scene she takes charge of her role and delivers a performance that evokes all the qualities we’ve come to expect from the Doctor – quirky, heroic, ingenious and wise, yet fallible.  The Doctor may be an alien but there’s always been something very human about the character and Whittaker delivers that along with her own subtle twists (including that Yorkshire accent) that will no doubt continue to develop over the course of the season.

Aside from the Doctor herself, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” introduces us to a whole new TARDIS team, each with their own distinctive voices and set of traits.  The group comprises: Tosin Cole as Ryan, whose challenges with Dyspraxia frame the episode and is dealt with in a commendable manner, Bradley Walsh as his grandfather (by marriage, presented without any unnecessary fuss), Graham and Mandip Gill as Yasmin (“Yas”), a bored junior police officer who’s also Ryan’s former school mate.  There’s some concern that an enlarged roster of companions might prove troublesome but let’s wait and see.

Chris Chibnall’s script is straightforward, whilst there’s a central threat in the form of the Predator-esque Stenza – an alien warrior the Doctor hilariously misunderstands and calls “Tim Shaw” – the story is relatively unencumbered and narratively uncluttered allowing Chibnall to focus on character.  What’s most pleasing is that Chibnall never presses the point that the Doctor is now a woman, there are one or two necessary lines addressing the fact but otherwise the script allows Whittaker to get on with just being the Doctor…and that’s what it’s all about.

We do get the usual post-regenerative antics as the Doctor settles into a new body (and Chibnall produces some great dialogue that helps express what all this means to the Doctor that analogises the series itself – the same, yet new and somehow different) but it’s enjoyable and doesn’t significantly weigh down the plot.

Combined with Jamie Childs’ direction, Segun Akinola’s music (succeeding Murray Gold as Doctor Who’s chief composer) and a wider visual aspect, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” has a cinematic quality to it that along with decent writing and Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal demonstrates potential for this new era of Doctor Who.

The bottom line:  Jodie Whittaker impresses as Doctor Who hits the ground running with a promising new start to a beloved staple of SF TV.

Doctor Who airs in the U.K. Sunday nights on BBC One and can be seen in the U.S. and internationally via BBC Worldwide services.

 

What did you think of the Doctor Who season premiere?  Share your thoughts below!

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ 2017 Christmas Special – “Twice Upon a Time”

It’s two Who’s for the price of one as the Twelfth Doctor prepares for change…

Spoiler- free review

D Who - Twice Upon a Time

Once more unto the breach: The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is united with the First Doctor (David Bradley) for a fitting final adventure…

Starring:  Peter Capaldi, David Bradley, Mark Gatiss, Pearl Mackie

Written by:  Steven Moffat / Episode directed by:  Rachel Talalay / aired in the UK and U.S. :  25/12/2017

What’s it about?

Fighting to prevent his inevitable regeneration, the Twelfth Doctor goes on one final adventure as his path crosses with his original self…

Episode review

The Doctor Who Christmas special is all the more poignant this year in that it marks the end of an era and like “The End of Time” all those seven years ago we wave goodbye to not only the current serving iteration of the Doctor – played by Peter Capaldi – but also headwriter/showrunner Steven Moffat who took over the reins from Russel T. Davies in 2010.

“Twice Upon a Time” certainly is poignant, although it isn’t necessarily Moffat’s finest hour it’s still a fairly good one that’s bolstered by the reliably brilliant Peter Capaldi who delivers a strong, passionate and moving final performance.  It’s quite a sombre affair at times but Steven Moffat still finds the odd moment to inject a stroke of sly wit and warmth into proceedings.  The central plot is surprisingly quite light and what’s there is a bit overly complicated and slightly befuddling – something basically involving memory-stealing avatars made of glass and frozen time but woven in, true Moffat style, a bit of a twisty-turny manner.

There’s also a heavy dose of reverence and nostalgia to the franchise’s history that casual viewers will not fully appreciate, for hardcore fans it’s a sweet treat – particularly the transitions between archive footage of classic Who serial “The Tenth Planet” and modern recreations of scenes from that 1966 story.

These niggles aside, it’s the union of Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor and his original self that provides the special’s most enjoyable aspect.  Played by William Hartnell between 1963 and 1966, the role of the First Doctor in “Twice Upon a Time” is taken on by David Bradley, who portrayed Hartnell so wonderfully in 50th Anniversary docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time and is equally captivating here.  Bradley skilfully melds elements of his own performance with an unabashed homage of Hartnell and the argumentative but affectionate interplay between the two Doctors – of very different eras and attitudes (jokes surrounding the changing social landscape and political correctness adding a chuckle or two) – is a real highlight.  Mark Gatiss is also solid as the First Wold War army captain drawn unwittingly into the Doctors’ adventure as they attempt to repair the damaged time stream and Pearl Mackie has a touching final bow as the endearing and sprightly Bill Potts.

For an episode of modern Who, “Twice Upon a Time” unfolds at a more gentle pace than expected, there’s a perhaps unnecessary tie back to series 8’s “Into the Dalek” that serves to up the ante but ultimately draws things out, but it’s in the focus of the characters and themes of regret, acceptance, change and hope in the face of darkness that are the main narrative thrust, it’s most ‘Christmassy’ part a fitting tribute to the Christmas Eve truce at Ypres in 1914.

As a regeneration story “Twice Upon a Time” isn’t as impactful as previous outings, it doesn’t quite achieve the gut punch of David Tennant’s sorrowful and dramatic exit in “The End of Time” or the tearfully heartfelt swansong of Matt Smith in “The Time of the Doctor” but this is arguably down to the fact that much of Capaldi’s departure had already been dealt with in the series 10 finale.  It does make it all feel a little anti-climactic but it still pulls the emotional strings somewhat.

So, with a twinge of sadness, in a nicely executed (if a tad familiar) regeneration scene we see Peter Capaldi leave the TARDIS but it’s with a hint of excitement that we get a brief tease of Jodie Whittaker’s incoming Thirteenth Doctor and a promising glimmer as to all the fresh creative possibilities a female incarnation of the iconic Time Lord (Lady?) will bring to the franchise.

The bottom line:  An enjoyable final romp for the Twelfth Doctor, “Twice Upon a Time” isn’t the strongest Christmas special for Doctor Who but a fitting exit for its outgoing lead non-the-less.

Doctor Who returns in 2018.

What did you think of this year’s ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special?  Share your thoughts below!

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ S10 EP01 “The Pilot”

Guess Who’s back…

Starring:  Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas

Written by:  Steven Moffat / Episodes directed by: Lawrence Gough / aired in the UK and U.S. :  15/04/2017

What’s it about?

Posing as a university lecturer, the Doctor’s path crosses with a promising new student and a mysterious threat…

Episode review

After an extended break, Doctor Who returns with its first full new series since 2015 (only Christmas special “The Return of Doctor Mysterio“ aired during 2016) uniting Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor with new companion Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie.

Doctor Who has always thrived on reinventing and refreshing itself and although this most successfully occurs with a change in lead actor – the Doctor regenerating into a new ‘version’ of himself – “The Pilot” feels, from the outset somewhat like a series with a renewed perspective.  Granted, series 9 of modern Who was generally strong but with the darkness surrounding the loss of Clara and the Doctor’s grappling with his own demons it’s welcome to see the show return to a lighter and purely adventurous tone.

Outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat (who departs along with Peter Capaldi this year) delivers a fairly simple script that’s in measures, fun, exciting, scary and peppers in just the right amount of detail to establish the lore and universe of Doctor Who for new viewers without bogging the episode down in its expansive and – in places – messy history (Moffat doesn’t forget the fans though by including some delightful Easter eggs).  Moffat’s basic ‘water monster’ plot is easy enough to follow – no ‘timey-wimey’ convolutions here – throwing in a number of behind-the-sofa scares amongst smatterings of cheeky humour and intrigue (what could be behind that mysterious vault beneath the university campus?).

Capaldi makes an assured return as the Doctor and once again excels in the role but it’s Pearl Mackie’s introduction that proves the most significant highlight in a wide-eyed and affable performance that keeps proceedings as grounded and believable as possible against the otherworldly alien-ness of the Doctor’s world.  Capaldi and Mackie hit it off right from the start, their dynamic solidified as Bill’s curiosity is rewarded with an invitation into the TARDIS (made all the more memorable by Bill’s longer than usual realisation of its true nature)…and a run-in with the Daleks for good measure!

Less fortunate is returning (from the 2015 and 2016 Christmas specials) companion Nardole, with Matt Lucas given little to do other than…well, just hang around really.  Yet, this episode is more about Bill and no doubt there will be more opportunities to explore Nardole as the series progresses and the relationship of the new TARDIS team develops.

If “The Pilot” is representative of the rest of the series then outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat should exit on a creative high, the closing ‘coming soon’ tease (classic Cybermen! Missy! John Simm! Regeneration!) certain to whet viewers’ appetites for the adventures that lie ahead.

The bottom line:  Doctor Who makes a welcome return with a promising new companion in a highly entertaining reintroduction to the series.

Doctor Who airs in the UK Saturday evenings on BBC One.  US viewers can catch it on BBC America.

Doctor Who S10 prem

Read for new worlds and new adventures: the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) with the newest member of the TARDIS crew, Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie).

What did you think of the ‘Doctor Who’ season premiere?  Share your thoughts below!

DVD Review: ‘Doctor Who’ – “The Power of the Daleks”

Starring:  Patrick Troughton, Michael Craze, Anneke Wills, Bernard Archard, Robert James

Written by: David Whitaker and Dennis Spooner / directed by: Christopher Barry

What’s it about?

Whilst Ben and Polly try to come to terms with the sudden change in the Doctor’s form, their arrival at a human colony on the planet Vulcan leads to a terrifying discovery that brings the Doctor face to face with an old enemy…

In review

As fans are all too aware, the BBC – with a painful lack of foresight – wiped their original master tapes of almost 100 episodes of classic Doctor Who.  Over the years fan recordings of video and audio have allowed these lost stories to be restored and live on either as audio books (with linking narrations) or remastered home video releases of various serials, some of which have been completed using animated versions of missing episodes.

Arriving in time for the 50th anniversary of its original (and only) television broadcast, The Power of the Daleks is brought to life thanks to a combination of the remastered audio track with animation and for die-hard fans of classic Who it’s quite a treat.  The story is iconic for various reasons, most significantly that it introduces the Second Doctor and that it pits him against his greatest foe – the Daleks.  Troughton’s performance as the ‘renewed’ (the term regeneration would not be established until Jon Pertwee’s tenure as the Third Doctor) version of the Doctor is sublime as he effortlessly switches between mumbling eccentricity, sparks of intellectualism and sporadic instances of the downright barmy – all to the befuddlement and even frustration of companions Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills).  There’s a real sense of growth in characterisation across the serial’s six episodes, with Troughton establishing a satisfying rhythm as the Doctor settles into his new form and likewise, Ben and Polly start to become familiar with and trusting of their new – yet old – friend.

Beyond characterisation, writers David Whitaker and Dennis Spooner craft an atmospheric and, in later instalments, reasonably tense tale as the Daleks utilise deceit, masquerading as ‘servants’ to exploit the scientists and bureaucrats of Vulcan to their own devious ends.  This is certainly one of the great Dalek stories and a strong Doctor Who adventure overall.

In terms of the animation itself, it’s fairly limited (and if you own DVDs of The Tenth Planet, The Moonbase or The Invasion then you’ll know what to expect) yet this often works in the favour of The Power of the Daleks providing it with a level of old school charm that evokes the period from which it originates and the blending of CGI with traditional hand drawn cell animation gives the Daleks themselves a slick range of motion that actually eliminates some of the clunkiness that the manually operated live action studio models would tend to produce.

Fans of modern Doctor Who will find The Power of the Daleks to be a strange and markedly different experience and it’s drawn out pace and moments of inaction will likely be testing.  Admittedly, like a lot of classic Who serials the story could have been tightened to four episodes but it’s an ultimately gripping and enjoyable journey thanks to some great acting from Troughton and the building of tension and excitement as the Daleks’ latest plan for conquest gradually unfolds.

On the DVD:  Various special features are included, comprising episode commentaries, a making of documentary, animation and photo gallery, PDF extras, surviving footage reel, telesnap reconstruction and more.

The bottom line:  One of the most iconic classic Doctor Who stories is lovingly restored thanks to a wonderfully kitsch presentation combining audio with animation.  Although modern viewers will struggle with its slow pace, every fan should check out The Power of the Daleks.

The Power of the Daleks is available on DVD in the UK now.  The serial is also being broadcast by BBC Worldwide.

"The Power of the Daleks" : a lost classic 'Doctor Who' story now restored by the BBC via a combiation of animation and original audio.

“The Power of the Daleks” : a lost classic ‘Doctor Who’ story now restored by the BBC via a combiation of animation and original audio.

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ S9 EP1&2 “The Magician’s Apprentice” / “The Witch’s Familiar” – SEASON PREMIERE

Hey Missy…

This review contains SPOILERS

Starring:  Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Michelle Gomez as Missy, Julian Bleach as Davros, Nicholas Briggs as the Daleks (voice)

Written by:  Steven Moffat (the Daleks and Davros created by Terry Nation) / Episodes directed by:  Hettie MacDonald / aired in the UK and U.S. :  19/09/2015 & 26/09/2015

What are these episodes about?

As Missy returns, the Doctor is summoned by the Daleks’ dying creator, Davros…

Episodes review

Doctor Who has burst back onto television screens with an epic two-parter that delivers on the promise of head writer Steven Moffat that it would be as big and ambitious as a season finale.  Despite some great ideas (and a superb two-part finale), season eight had ultimately felt a little uneven – any fears that this new season would get off to a middling start are quickly allayed as “The Magician’s Apprentice” / “The Witch’s Familiar” proves a thrilling showcase of exceptional creative talent and strong storytelling.

At this point Peter Capaldi has fully settled into the role of the Doctor and continues to prove beyond worthy and more than capable.  Capaldi’s nuanced and captivating performance, combined with well-written dialogue, delivers a complex character who can be as funny as he is brooding and cantankerous with dashes of the maverick heroism that has formed part of each of the Time Lord’s previous incarnations.

Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor aside, Michelle Gomez was arguably season eight’s biggest revelation and once again delights as the Master’s regenerated female form, Missy.  Gomez is the perfect sparring partner for Capaldi and successfully melds elements of wacky humour and unhinged villainy (whether it be suspending aircraft in the sky or cold bloodedly vaporizing UNIT security men, she’s certainly a credible threat), peppered with subtle hints of the calculating charm and pure madcap evil of classic era Masters Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley.

Jenna Coleman has some great moments as (the soon to be departing) Clara, particularly with Missy – from their tense meeting in “The Magician’s Apprentice” to venturing through the Dalek sewer/graveyard in “The Witch’s Familiar”.  Although separated from the Doctor for much of the story, there’s still a rapport evident between Coleman and Capaldi and their respective characters which we’ll no doubt get to see more of in upcoming episodes (Steven Moffat has after all cited this season as being the ‘glory days’ of the Doctor and Clara).  Coleman’s biggest moment though comes in “The Witch’s Familiar” as she gets to ‘be’ a Dalek, it’s not only fun and gives us an insight into how a Dalek ‘works’ but provides Clara with some decent dramatic beats.

Of course it’s always exciting to see the Daleks return (once again brought to terrifying life by the voice of Nicholas Briggs) and although they’ve made regular appearances throughout ‘new’ Who there’s always something new to add to the tapestry of Terry Nation’s iconic creations (those aforementioned scenes of Clara operating a Dalek casing for example). From a pure fan pleasing perspective, the design of the Dalek city on Skaro pays homage to the Doctor’s first encounter with the robotic Nazis in the original 1963 William Hartnell Dalek serial and we’re also treated to a mixture of classic and new Who Dalek designs.

The main crux of the story is what provides this season premiere with its riveting drama with the pleas of a dying Davros (and his younger self) placing the Doctor in a morally complex position that harkens back to “Genesis of the Daleks” (the all-time classic 1975 serial starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor).  Capaldi shares a series of standout scenes with Julian Bleach (returning as Davros, having previously appeared in 2008’s “The Stolen Earth” / “Journey’s End”) with some beautifully written dialogue and surprising twists coupled with great performances that deliver moments that are both moving and shocking.  Moffat’s final solution to the Doctor’s dilemma is simple, yet nothing short of genius.  But will the Doctor’s rescue of the young Davros and provoking within him sentiments of compassion change the evolution of the Daleks?  We all know that their creation is inevitable and it will be interesting to see how the Doctor’s next encounter with his eternal nemeses will play out.

The bottom line:  Doctor Who returns with a well-written, strongly performed and epically realised two-part premiere that sets the bar high for the rest of season nine.

Doctor Who airs in the UK Saturday evenings on BBC One.  US viewers can catch it on BBC America.

What did you think of the ‘Doctor Who’ season premiere?  Share your thoughts below!

Back in action: the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) return in the epic season premiere of the BBC's 'Doctor Who'.

Back in action: the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) return in the epic season premiere of the BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’.

Comic Review: ‘Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War’ #1

Written by:  Mike Johnson / pencilled by:  Angel Hernandez

What’s it about?

While investigating a rogue planet, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise discover the corpse of a mysterious alien being and several strange, colourful rings…

In review

Star Trek/Green Lantern is the latest of IDW Publishing’s Star Trek crossover events (with DC Comics), having previously delivered successful ‘team-ups’ with iconic comic book/science fiction properties Legion of Super Heroes, Doctor Who and Planet of the Apes.  Whereas those previous mini-series have featured the original and next generation Star Trek crews, Star Trek/Green Lantern opts to focus on the more contemporary cast of the rebooted Trek universe depicted in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Written by Mike Johnson, the opening chapter of The Spectrum War gives readers a tantalising glimpse into a potentially exciting and epic comic book crossover as events are precipitated by Kirk and Spock’s discovery of the corpse of – unbeknownst to them – Ganthet, one of Oa’s Guradians.  Granted, this premiere issue provides a lot of setup and focuses heavily on the Trek universe but Johnson’s script incorporates enough intrigue, excitement and links to DC Comics’ Green Lantern that, although ultimately there are few surprises, fans of both franchises will find pleasing.

Johnson is no stranger to Star Trek having written many of IDW’s Trek comics and as always is true to the mythos of the franchise and faithfully captures the voices of its main characters.  Whilst it remains to be seen how well he handles those elements of the Green Lantern universe (and in turn, how seamlessly the crossover plays out) the fact that this premiere issue manages to successfully integrate power rings, Klingons and a finale appearance from heroic lantern Hal Jordan (I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how he and Kirk ‘get on’ and certainly how the Enterprise crew handle the ramifications of being selected by a power ring) so joyously gives no cause for concern at this stage.

Just as Johnson provides a solid script, Angel Hernandez delivers stunningly detailed art with decent character likenesses (and some striking images of the Enterprise) that, together with Alejandro Sanchez’s vibrant and sharp colours give the visuals a feature film quality that can often be lacking from such an ambitious project.

Overall, a crossover between Star Trek and Green Lantern is a suitable match with both properties having similar narrative and visual components with their eclectic mix of strange new worlds, weird and wonderful life forms and a positive outlook for a better tomorrow, even in the face of whatever dark and dangerous threats the universe has in store.

The bottom line:  IDW has delivered a strong start to their Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover, which thanks to a quality script and luscious artwork shows a lot of potential.

Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War #1 is published by IDW and is available in print and digital formats now.

Angel Hernandez provides the wonderful art in IDW Publishing's promising 'Star Trek/Green Lantern' crossover.

Angel Hernandez provides the wonderful art in IDW Publishing’s promising ‘Star Trek/Green Lantern’ crossover.

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ 2014 Christmas Special “Last Christmas”

Has the Doctor been a good boy?

This review contains SPOILERS

Starring:  Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Nick Frost as Santa

Written by:  Steven Moffat / Episode directed by:   Paul Wilmshurst / aired in the UK and U.S. :  25/12/2014

What’s this episode about?

It’s Christmas and Clara and the Doctor enlist the help of Santa Claus himself to thwart a deadly alien threat…

Episode review

Ah…Christmas, a time to eat, drink, be Merry and sit down to watch the BBC’s Doctor Who Christmas Special which over the last decade (yes, it really has been that long) has firmly entrenched itself in the festive traditions.

The 2014 special, “Last Christmas” is the tenth Who Christmas episode and although not quite as fun as 2005’s “The Christmas Invasion” (which saw the debut of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor) or as epic as Matt Smith’s departure in last year’s “The Time of the Doctor” it is non-the-less another entertaining festive treat that contains equal measures of atmospheric shocks and sugar-coated delights.

As we’ve come to expect over the course of Peter Capaldi’s first season as master of the TARDIS, “Last Christmas” has a dark streak with a number of ‘behind the sofa’ scares (all the more daring given the 6:15pm timeslot) presented by the malevolent alien creatures that threaten to destroy Christmas.

Largely taking place at an isolated North Pole research station, the premise of “Last Christmas” harkens back to the iconic ‘base under siege’ template of classic Who adventures and owes much to the likes of Alien and The Thing From Another World, both of which are rightfully acknowledged by writer Steven Moffat.  It infuses the otherwise festive proceedings with a tense and unsettling atmosphere as the Doctor uncovers the truth behind the appearance of Santa and the plight of the crew of that afore-mentioned research station (one of whom is played by Michael Troughton, son of the late Patrick Troughton who portrayed the Doctor’s second incarnation from 1966 to 1969).

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are plenty of heartfelt moments between the Doctor and Clara and levity facilitated via jovial guest star Nick Frost (complete with Elf sidekicks).  The highlight of the piece however is the Doctor’s piloting of Santa’s sled, a fantastically magical sequence where Christmas truly takes over and sure to kindle the yuletide spirit in even the most cynical of the viewership.

The biggest surprise of course is the fate of Clara, just as we suspect the Doctor’s encounter with an elderly version of his beloved companion is leading toward Jenna Coleman’s rumoured exit, a twist in the mind-bending Inception-esque concept provides us with (at least partially) an answer as Clara decides to accept the Doctor’s invitation to return to the TARDIS.

“Last Christmas” sees Peter Capaldi provide another assured turn as the now not-so-new Doctor and hopefully Coleman will stick around for a while longer, with the highs and lows of their comradery being one of the main draws of this last season.  It will be exciting to see where the TARDIS lands next…

The bottom line:  The Doctor saves Christmas once again as the BBC delivers another quality festive edition of Doctor Who that’s scary, tense and magical in a way that only this iconic series could achieve.

“Last Christmas” is released on Blu-ray and DVD by 2entertain on 26th January.  Doctor Who season 9 will air in 2015.

What did you think of Peter Capaldi’s first Christmas as the Doctor?  Share your thoughts below!

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) enlist the help of Santa (Nick Frost) in another magical festive edition of the BBC's 'Doctor Who'.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) enlist the help of Santa (Nick Frost) in another magical festive edition of the BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’.