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After the previous two excellent and, let’s be honest, frankly dark episodes, a sense of frivolity returns in Mark Gatiss’ Robot of Sherwood. Fulfilling a promise to Clara, the Doctor whisks off to Sherwood and straight in front of the tights of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Which for Clara, as a huge fan of the legend, is a dream come true and an excuse to dress up. For the Doctor though, it’s a troubling matter because as far as he’s concerned, the Earl of Loxley never existed. Then there’s the problem of the knight robots who work under the say so of the Sherriff of Nottingham. What is a time lord to do?

Series 8 of Doctor Who, and in particular Peter Capaldi’s interpretation of the Doctor, needed this episode before the glumness set in. We know he’s moody, we know he’s arrogant. But let’s step out of the shadows, shall we? Whilst Twelvy doesn’t look like he’s going to be cracking a smile too much, Gatiss manages to bring out enough awkwardness in him that suggests the twinkle in his predecessors’ eye is still there. Working out complicated sums whilst eating some kind of desert behind Clara’s back? Done. Using a spoon to attack to Robin Hood? Check. Failing to recognize a real sandal when he sees one? We’ve all been there.

Everybody was on fine form, with Jenna Coleman getting more to do than she ever did as a plot device last season (And I mean that with the greatest respect, I bloody love Clara) Standing up to the Sherriff of Nottingham, played with Alan Rickman familiarity by Ben Miller, she was just a bad ass. Okay, she went a bit squiffy when she met Robin Hood, but come on, who hasn’t gone a bit weak at the knees when they meet a hero?

Whilst there was no Missy to be seen, Gatiss’ episode carried on what I suspect is Season 8’s key theme of breaking down the Doctor into little bite sized chunks of psychology. After badmouthing the very existence of Robin Hood, the Doctor discovered that he shared a lot in common with the green tighted vigilante; inspiring future generations to do good and stand up for they believe in. The Doctor may have lost his oversized fringe and buried his head in calculus, but he knows his right from his left.

What I originally thought in Deep Breath and Into the Dalek, was a way of breaking the new Doctor to the kiddies seems to be more complex than that. The Doctor has gone through a belief shattering experience. After coming to terms with his life ending, he was rather surprisingly given a whole new regeneration cycle. That’s a whole new life! If any one of us were to die right now having accepted our fate, only to rise like Lazarus, how do we think it would affect us? Would we begin to cherish every new day and find the beauty in everything? If we looked back on our life, would we scrutinize the bad things we’d done and try to better ourselves? Maybe we would.

Now imagine having over 2000 years to look back on. Wouldn’t you feel pretty small and humble when stood next to your mistakes?

If the Doctor is asking if he’s a Good Man, I think he’s hoping whatever he achieved at the end of his first life cycle justified the means.

Obviously this is a bit deep for an episode that was a wonderful bit of history and nonsense, but I’m putting it out there nonetheless. I’ll be interested to see where they go with this.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

Warning: We’ve tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but please advised that if you’ve still yet to see the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who, you’re best looking elsewhere for now.

You’ll have to have been trapped in some distant nebula to not know that that Doctor Who is now into its 50th year. As part of the celebrations, the anniversary special has made it the cinemas in glorious 3D – and not 12D as the good Doctor (Matt Smith) suggests in the opening promo.

Steven Moffat was always going to have to a hard time of it with The Day of the Doctor. On the one hand, we have the hardcore, dyed in the wool fans who want to see a special that carts out William Hartnell’s corpse to appease them. To them the show goes beyond pin-up boy David Tennant and his lovey-dovey Doctor. They want a dark doctor! On the other hand, we have the youngsters, the ones who helped make the show’s resurgence. They embraced Russell T. Davies’ reboot and The Day of the Doctor should acknowledge them. And on the third hand – This is sci-fi! We’re allowed three hands – there will be people who know Doctor Who as nothing more than that show with the metal pepperpots, and will be tuning in to see what all the fuss is about.

So, how did it go?

Well, pretty well actually. In fact, very well. In actual fact, we’re still recovering from it all.

Moffat seems to have managed to address concerns on all fronts; embracing the show’s canon, whilst providing a narrative that embraces newcomers one and all. A series of events leads to three incarnations of the Doctor having to join forces to save the world from the Zygons. Well, that’s not really the A-Story, but it’s the one we’re going to tell you. The Day of the Doctor is a bit like opening presents on Christmas Day. You don’t really know what you’ve got until you open them, and then there’s that giddy joy of finding one or two extras tucked away behind the tree. From Gallifrey, to long scarves, to mockney accents, references appear like little chunky nuggets of fun that won’t confuse the casual viewer.

It’s not just Moffat’s script that’s worth mention, Nick Hurran’s direction is particularly dynamic. It’s very easy for a show-runner to say his script is dynamic, but it’s the director that has to realise it. From to barren deserts to war-torn cities, Hurran has added some real weight to the visuals. We are far, far, far from the days when two school teachers turned up at a junkyard to talk to an old man in a blue box.

Whilst we take a break from the gushing praise, we should address the elephant in the room. John Hurt. Yes, he’s a forgotten Doctor, but it’s quite obvious that the character was originally the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston. Whilst Moffat has provided a backstory to explain all this away, it does irk a little. But only a little. Hurt is superb as the earlier and grumpier incarnation of Smith and Tennant. He acts as a bridge not only from the classic series to the new, but he also plays mouthpiece to the numerous old school fans who have had quibbles with the new show’s tropes, such as the overuse of sonic screwdrivers as a weapon. ‘What are you going to do? Assemble a wardrobe at them?!’

The other major problem is a cameo from the show’s past that comes out of nowhere and doesn’t really add anything to the story. But then again, who are we to fault a desire to please everyone.

The Day of the Doctor is a funny, moving, fast paced adventure. It’s big and bold and it’s a standing testament to the endurance of the show. Not bad for something that was cobbled together 50 years ago to fill a gap between the football and Top of the Pops. Not bad at all.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

Warning: The following contains spoilers.

Once again, the BBC have graced us with the opportunity to see Doctor Who on the big screen. Last time, it was all chins, old faces and Zygons for the show’s 50th anniversary and now it’s regenerations, steampunk and dinosaurs in this, the series 8 opening.

Bursting onto our screens literally like a belch from a T-Rex, Deep Breath hit the ground running acting as a reboot, relaunch and continuation all in one feature length portion. The Doctor may look older, but the show appears to have undergone a bit of a renaissance.

After the baddy stuffed, exposition overload that was last year’s Christmas special, showrunner Steven Moffat has wiped the table clean of all his timey wimey, Silence Will FALL, ‘I can’t go back for Amy. No, really I can’t. I’m not listening, lalalala.’ bag of tricks, to focus on a lean plot that still manages to sow the seeds for future plot lines in a manner reminiscent of the Davies era. Ben Wheatley (A Field in England) took over directing duties in this season opener, which certainly gave the whole bit of oomph; a meaningless word and one which doesn’t do his work justice, but it’s done now. There were some glorious set pieces, from a T-Rex on fire, Peter Capaldi riding a horse through London in his jim-jams and, let us not forget, the spine-tingling and tense scene of Clara holding her breath. It’s great to see Doctor Who experimenting with people at the helm, and it’ll be fascinating to see what Rachel Talalay (Tank Girl) does with her pieces later this year.

Having been painted into a corner (in the nicest possible way) last season, Jenna Coleman has had her role beefed up. Not that the Impossible Girl wasn’t beefy last year. She was just more beef flavoured. Oxo cubes; the role was the equivalent Oxo cubes. Yes, let’s stick with that.

This time around, relating it back to the Davies era, here was a companion ready to think on her feet and fend for herself. Admittedly, the opportunity arose because she was left with her backside in the breeze by a still-percolating Doctor. ‘We can’t risk both getting caught.’ The Doctor said, skirting ever so close to his time during the Twin Dilemma.

Speaking of the Doctor, Peter Capaldi looks set to be one of the more iconic interpretations. He was rude, impertinent, insulting, confused, loving, unable to do hugs and prone to throwing people onto church steeples (or did he?). In short: brilliant. If his previous incarnation could be seen as a midlife crisis wrapped in a new face and tweed, then here was a teenager in middle age clothing. Sensing that an old Doctor might put off the kids – sorry folks, we need to remember, this show is always about the kids first and foremost – time was taken to ease the nippers into this new fierce face. All of which was topped off by a cameo by Matt Smith lovingly telling Clara (ie us) that he is he, and he is he and we are altogether.

Let’s not forget the return of the Paternoster Gang, clockwork baddies and new potential baddy, Missy played by the always brilliant Michelle Gomez. Deep Breath was bursting with fun. Here’s to keeping our fingers crossed that the momentum can be kept up. Here’s hoping.

Deep breath everyone.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

It was announced this week that Matt Smith, Doctor Who star and human Easter Island Statue, will be getting all twinkly-toed and falsetto as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho: The Musical, due to start in London in December 2013. Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the thought of Patrick doing the soft shoe shuffle whilst taking pot shots at the cheap seats with a nail gun and belting out Whitney Houston songs, certainly brings us cheer of an evening. But whilst the thought of basing a musical on a book which Germany deemed harmful to minors and seen as a bit rum in Queensland does raise eyebrows, you gotta give it to everybody on board for at least giving it… a stab (hyuck, hyuck).

We’re feeling pretty theatrical ourselves and as such, we present to you five more unusual choices for musicals. Without a Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark in sight.

And a 1, and a 2, and a 1-2-3…

5reanimator-themusicalt‘I’m the modern heir to Prometheus/bringing fire to maaan’ sings Dr Herbert West in this tribute to Stuart Gordon’s 1985 schlock-fest, which Gordon has also co-written. H.P. Lovecraft himself denounced his serialised story Herbert West- Re-Animator, calling it his poorest work. As such, he couldn’t possibly have dreamt that one day it would become part of an award winning comedy/rock musical whose highlights include: a dancing cat corpse; a splatter zone in the first 8 rows of the theatre; a tribute to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and yes, a musical number where a disembodied head gives, ahem, head.

The musical has received some pretty glowing reviews with Variety describing it as ‘not since ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ has a screamfest tuner so deftly balanced seriousness and camp’ and it even made its way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year.

Christ, imagine what they could do to The Call of Cthulu!?

The rest of this article can be read at: http://monsterpictures.com.au/features/monster-pictures-guide-to-the-arts-musicals/