Category Archives: tv reviews

The X-Files: Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

weremonsterMulder, the Internet is not good for you.

When it was announced that Darin Morgan was part of the X-Files revival, my interest in the project was peaked.  All four of Morgan’s previous offerings for the show were among my favorites of the series with “Clyde Bruckeman’s Final Repose” ranking not only as my favorite hour of the show, but one of my favorite episodes of television ever.

But even as I was enthusiastic to see Morgan back on the show and had “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” circled in my mind as the “must see” installment of the new season, I have to admit I felt a bit of apprehension.  I wondered if Morgan could return to the fold after a break of nearly twenty years and capture the magic again.

Thankfully, it only took the teaser on this week’s new installment to affirm that Morgan was back and that this episode could be something special. Continue reading

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The X-Files: My Struggle

mystruggle

When The X-Files finally closed thirteen years ago, I’ve got to admit part of me was a little relieved.  In the eighth and ninth season, the series had become a pale imitation of the series I loved and made appointment television for its first six to seven years.  The mythology had become so convoluted that I no longer looked forward to it and the stand-alones had become a bit weaker than we saw in the early days.

When news broke that Fox was going to revive the series, my first thought was — please, don’t let me it be as unmemorable as seasons eight and nine.   And the more I heard about who was being brought back for this six episode run, the more intrigued and, dare I say it, excited I became.  Maybe, just maybe this six-episode mini-series could channel the series at its best and find a way to send Mulder and Scully off with dignity and grace.

After watching the first installment of the mini-series, I have to admit the results are a bit mixed. Continue reading

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Review: Doctor Who: City of Death by Douglas Adams, James Goss and David Fisher

Doctor Who: City of DeathIn his afternote to City of Death James Goss notes “There are about three people in the world who don’t like City of Death and they’re being hunted down.”

I guess I’m one of those three people. And it’s not that I hate City of Death per se. It’s just that I don’t necessarily love it as much as many of my fellow Doctor Who fans do.

Famously re-written by Douglas Adams over the course of a weekend, few scripts from the classic run are as eminently quotable nor do they deal with the implications of time travel in quite the same way that this one does. But does that make it a top ten classic? Not to this fan.

Arriving in Paris, the Doctor and Romana decide to take a holiday. But a series of cracks in time quickly put them into the orbit of the Count Scarlioni, who has set his sights on stealing the Mona Lisa. His motivation for stealing the painting is so he can sell it on the black market, making millions and financing his dangerous experiments in time and time travel.

Goss takes a page from Adams in not telling the same story precisely the same way for each adaptation. Combining the televised version with the shooting scripts and a few flourishes of his own (in the style of Adams, of course), Goss gives readers an opportunity to find new nuggets in City of Death. Goss even creates an interesting spin on the reveal the monster cliffhanger ending of episode one with the Count not realizing he’s a splintered part of the Jaggeroth and being just as shocked as viewers are intended to be at the reveal that he’s a green faced, bug-eyed monster. (Though this does create some questions when it comes to the motivation of stealing the Mona Lisa and other aspects of the story)

And while Goss certainly isn’t quite in the same sphere as Adams, he does a serviceable job of channeling Adams for this adaptation. Short of Douglas writing the novel himself, this is probably as close as we’re going to get. Goss takes time to add some depth to Karinksi, Duggan and even the art critic couple from the story over the course of the story. But he also take a page from the Terrance Dicks school of Doctor Who novel writing and rarely abridges or joins scenes together from the televised version to the printed page.

His adaptation of City of Death is more along the later entries in the Target novel line as opposed to most of the fourth Doctor ones that feel like a straight adaptation of the shooting script with minimal descriptions thrown in for good measure. It makes this one of the better fourth Doctor novelizations in the long line of books. But as I said before, it’s simply not one of my favorite stories and the adaptation doesn’t enhance the reputation of the story any more (at least in my book). It also doesn’t detract from it either.

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Comic Book Friday: Star Trek, Volume 11

Star Trek Volume 11Star Trek Volume 11 by Mike Johnson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

IDW’s re-imagining of certain episodes of the original (and still the best) Star Trek has been hit or miss. This latest installment, collecting issues 46 – 49 of the on-going series is no exception.

The collection starts off with a re-telling of one of my favorite installments from classic Trek, “The Tholian Web.” As with other re-imaginings of episodes from the original series, I find myself torn between wanting the story to be as faithful as possible to the original story and somehow offer me something new to make it feel like it’s worth my time to spend reading this version of the story. Unfortunately, this telling of the Tholian storyline doesn’t really succeed on either level. The new twist is that in the re-imagined universe, the NCC-1701 has the ability to separate the saucer section. So the Enterprise is in two pieces, trapped in the titular web, which I suppose should double the drama. Instead it merely isolates the characters who need to be working together to get out of this region of space. Continue reading

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Review: Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation by Gary Russell

Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation

When a pyramid from another world appears in Sydney Harbor, the Doctor begins to investigate how it got there and what can and should be done about. Also hot on the trail is a familiar time-travelling archaeologist, though as the cover warns you, it’s not necessarily the one you were expecting.

In his afterward, Gary Russell says that the reason he decided to use Benny Summerfield instead of River was because series runner Steven Moffat nixed the idea. Russsell goes on to say that Moffat suggested bringing Benny back because he’d always liked the character and that then novel turned out to be better because of it.

I’m glad Gary thinks the novel turned out better than he originally imagined. Because this reader found the novel a pretty big disappointment. Continue reading

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In Defense of Doctor Who

It’s been a decade since the Doctor came back to our television screens and in that time, I’ve seen Doctor Who soar to heights of popularity I never imagined.

If I could take a TARDIS back in time and tell my younger self that not only would episodes air on the same day in America as they did in the UK but that there would be (sold out) screenings of the fiftieth anniversary special in movie theaters, I’m not sure my younger self would necessarily believe it.

But even as the show rose to new heights of popularity, I knew it was only a matter of time before a certain segment of the fan population began to jump off the band wagon for the next new and shiny thing.  I predicted it would happen when David Tennant left and was pleasantly surprised when that fans who jumped on board for Tennant stayed around for the Matt Smith era.

But now in the second year of the Peter Capaldi era, I’m finding more fans who jumped on board with the modern Who are beginning to look around for the next new shiny thing to come along.  As part of SciFi Month 2015 Rinn Reads published a piece about Falling Out of Love With Doctor Who, which I read and disagreed with on just about every point.  Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Ark in Space by Ian Marter

Doctor Who and the Ark in Space: A 4th Doctor novelisation

Whenever I’m asked by new Who fans for a good starting point to watch classic Doctor Who, I don’t point to “An Unearthly Child” but instead to Robert Holmes’ classic fourth Doctor serial, “The Ark In Space.”

Not only does the story kick off a great run of stories, but it comes from an era this is (arguably) the most consistent and best in the entire fifty plus year run of the show — classic or otherwise.

The story includes a minor call back or two to the previous installment, but for the most part it’s a self-contained horror story set in the near future. Promising Harry a quick trip to the moon to prove the TARDIS is what the Doctor says it is, our trio instead ends up in the far future thanks to Harry’s twisting the helmic regulator a bit too much. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive on a future space station that is home to the final remnants of humanity in suspended animation waiting their chance to awaken and begin the conquering the Earth again. But something has gone wrong and humanity has overslept.

What’s gone wrong is the Wirrin, an insect race that can survive in deep space and has journeyed to the ark seeking our humanity. The Wirrin are also driven to survive and are looking for a new home — and the ark and the Earth look like just the right place to get started. Continue reading

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