Saturday, 30 April 2011

Doctor Who - Day of the Moon

As River Song would say: SPOILERS!!!

Oh what a difference a week makes. After what felt like a messy, even rather….mistimed… first episode, this time it was just infinitely better right out of the gate.

From the thrilling chase between Canton Everett Delaware the Evil (or you know….not….) and the Doctor’s most faithful companions, we are sent on an all-out thrill ride through the good ‘ole US of A.

There is so much to talk about in this episode, and despite a whole host of answers, we are met once again with 100 new questions – Is Amy really about to give birth to a timelord? When will Silence fall? Who is the newest regenerating addition to the show?

But before I can talk about any of that, there is one thing that really needs saying: The Silence are literally the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Bar none. Truly terrifying conceptually, and the idea that it could actually be happening is just literally beyond scary. After last weeks introduction to them, this week it was genuinely taken to the next level, and the scenes inside the children’s home were completely and utterly horrifying.

Ok. That’s out of my system. Moving swiftly on.

Umm: Amy is pregnant….but not pregnant….but pregnant…. Umm….what? My guess: the timelord baby inside her only has one heart working right now, which is why the TARDIS is confused. It can sense two and one isn’t beating so the pregnancy scanner is completely confuzzled. That still doesn’t answer how Amy is going to become impregnated with a Time Lord baby, but sorry: I honestly have no answers on that one…. We’ll just have to wait and see what Mr Moffat has in store.

One of the best things about this episode – as indeed with last weeks although I failed to mention them in my frustration with everything else – were the performances of Mark Sheppard and Stuart Milligan as Canton and Nixon respectively. Every time either of them spoke, or even appeared on screen, it was a delight, and Nixon genuinely got many of the biggest laughs in this episode (“He broke into Apollo 11 Mr President.” “Oh…well….I’m sure he had a good reason…..”)

A lot of people across the Interwebs have become very bored with River Song as a character, but must say I’ve stood by her up until this point, and: but for last weeks minor discretion, it was a true return to form this week, kicking butt and taking names. I can’t wait to finally find out who she is, and exactly who she killed – my money is still on her being in the Space Suit on the beach rather than the little girl, but we’ll see.

And now, just incase you thought I’d forgotten it, it’s time for the elephant in the room: The little girl regenerated. She fucking regenerated. Excuse my French, but that is actually the extremity of the confusion and befuddlement which befell me at the moment that girl’s hands began to glow.

Again, I have no answers, and honestly at this stage no theories even as to who she is, and how there can possibly be another Time Lord, but I’m certain that she will continue to appear throughout Season 6 until we finally get answers. . At least now we know why the Silence needed to keep her alive. River told us that whole species would rip planets apart for one cell of a dead Time Lords’ body. What would they do for a live one?

Having completely assuaged any doubts that episode one left that this season might not live up to expectations, one can only hope the rest of the season will meet these standards.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Doctor Who - The Impossible Astronaut

Its Easter weekend, and finally we’re back on the TARDIS. And the series got going with an almighty bang – literally.

Someone will die in Episode One. That is the message Doctor Who magazine, and various press outlets, have been running with over the last few weeks, with confirmation that either: The Doctor, Rory, Amy or River Song would meet their maker before the first 45minutes was up.

So when, within the first few minutes, an Astronaut rises from a lake to shoot a future incarnation of the Doctor dead, I have to say I was hardly surprised or shocked – indeed it seemed the only logical explanation (Rory and Amy weren’t going anywhere, and we know how River dies)

As this was undoubtedly the best scene in the episode, the fact it wasn’t nearly as shocking as it should have been perhaps detracted from the overall feel of this season opener, which I can’t deny I found to be lacking a certain something.

“The Silence”, the long awaited villain who Stephen Moffat trailed towards the end of Season 5, was genuinely scary – the idea of instantly forgetting them as you turn away is terrifying because it means you can never run away from them. They’re like The Weeping Angels, except creepy looking too.

This notwithstanding though, otherwise this episode seemed simply overlong, and over complicated in and of itself.

Amy’s anguish over the Doctor’s death would not lead her to become a killer, and even the idea that she reached for the gun seems like a complete character assassination. It also felt weird that after not telling him up to this point she suddenly felt the need to reveal her pregnancy. It just felt like Moffat needed a place to throw this line in, and this was the only place it fit. In the build up to the final cliffhanger this just seemed like an odd, and completely jarring revelation, and could just have done without it.

We also saw a weak, vulnerable side to River Song that we’ve never seen before – worried about how they are slowly growing in the wrong direction. As interested as I have always been in her character, I don’t want to see her develop into this whiny, touchy feely person. I want to find out who she is, and who she killed (My money is actually on her being the astronaut in the lake and not the girl – “I know it’s you, and it’s ok” – but I hope Stephen proves me wrong with that, as it’s just too damn obvious)

Honestly, I hope that come next week, as we see the end of this 2 parter, I am able to look back on the story in it’s entirety and find myself happier overall, because currently this just felt like a very flimsy first act, and not really the way I wanted to get underway.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Album Review: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

A lot of bands struggle to sound fresh and original by even their second album – the Foo Fighters have managed it here on their seventh.

From the face-bending guitar and drum crescendo which begins opener Bridge Burning, Dave Grohl and co. take you on an eleven track musical journey, through everything from heavy rock and roll sounds to more melodic almost vocal led songs, and it’s just superb.

Bridge Burning itself is great in as much as it really sets the tone for the album - this is no holds barred, and this is a record where the band are just going to play in the way they want to play - recording the entire album on tape in Grohl's garage. Building on everything the band have learnt over the past six albums they have found the perfect mix to bring their sound to the masses.

Of particular note are These Days, and Dear Rosemary. The former feels very different from the rest of the album, and more reminiscent of something like Long Road to Ruin from the last album, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace , with a soulful tuneful opening before rest of the band really crash in towards the chorus.

Dear Rosemary meanwhile feels like a love letter to a forgotten age. “Rosemary, Please pardon me” begs the vocal, and it’s clear that as the song swing’s into its chorus, this is surely going to be a huge sing a long number as the band heads out to tour the album - the call and response from the legendary vocallist Bob Mould surely to be replaced by 1000's of screaming stadium fans.

The real stand out though is penultimate tune I Should Have Known. A song about every time Grohl has ever looked back in regret, it is almost impossible not to draw comparisons to his ex-Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain - although Dave himself insists he only realised the connection after the song was done, and it was by no means his actual inspiration for the song. “No I cannot forgive you yet….but I should have known.” Grohl pines. It’s almost heart breaking listening. and it’s one of the best songs the band has produced in years.

Interestingly the only song I’ve really not gotten into entirely is Rope, the song chosen by the band as the first single. It feels much more rough and ready than the rest of the album, and while I’m sure it’s a grower, I can’t help but feel that something like Bridge Burning would have been the more obvious single.

That being said it’s only a very minor issue, on what is otherwise a real triumph of an album, and, with the help of Nevermind producer Butch Vig, what we have is very probably the Foos best effort since 1997’s The Colour and the Shape.