Tagged: Torchwood

Mike Gold: My Timey-Wimey Toddlin’ Town

Well, last Sunday my pal John Ostrander did a lovely and quite informative column around his inability to come up with a topic. And tomorrow, my pal Denny O’Neil has an equally interesting column addressing the same basic issue. So, damn, I’d look pretty lame if I pulled the same stunt today, wouldn’t I?

Yeah, I know. I should be used to that.

So, instead of impressing you with my astonishing ability to wax on for 591 words about how there’s an echo chamber between my ears – it’s August; there’s supposed to be an echo chamber between my ears… or, at least, the Attica! chant – I’m going to write up a couple of paragraphs about a comic book show I’ll be doing in 15 days. Stream of consciousness, to paraphrase Kris Kristofferson, means you have nothing left to lose.

Danny Fingeroth, who’s name will magically reappear in Denny’s column tomorrow, finally found the one way to get me out to Chicago’s Wizard World show August 24 – 27. No, it’s not the availability of that wondrous delight, the Italian beef sammich. I get back to Chicago three or four times a year, so that’s not quite a deal maker.

No, Danny suggested we do a panel about America’s first mammoth Doctor Who convention, held as part of the Chicago Comicon (since sold to Wizard World) way back in 1982. Larry Charet, who, along with Bob Weinberg and me, were sponsors of the Comicon back then and Doctor Who had pretty much just taken a serious hold among American geekdom. We massively underestimated the number of folks who would be interested in attending… by… well… a lot. We made the Chicago Fire Department nervous, which, historically, is a dick move. We made the American Nazi Party nervous as well, but you’ll have to attend our panel in order to find out why.

I believe this was one of the first, if not the first, Doctor Who show that attracted the attention of a 15-year old named John Barrowman, who had been living in nearby Joliet Illinois at the time. John also will be a guest at Wizard World, so hopefully, I’ll be able to find out. Not that we’re taking credit for inspiring the man who became Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and on Torchwood… but, with him no longer part of Arrow (at least for the time being), maybe the good folks at BBC-Wales can get him back to the timey-wimey stuff.

Of course, going home for Wizard World puts me back in the neighborhood of a hell of a lot of friends, as well as a gaggle of good folks that I haven’t pissed off for a while. Writers, artists, retailers, media folks, actors, broadcasters – it’s a fun place to be. And I’ve always had a great time at Wizard World Chicago, even though it’s actually in Rosemont Illinois, a town sandwiched in between the City of Chicago and the Airport of O’Hare. If you go there, check out Rosemont’s water tower and, if there are children around, try not to laugh out loud.

A month later, I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con, one of my favorites. A damn good show run by damn good people.

That’s the reason we started these big comic book shows. Friendship, seeing people from all over the planet and making rude and obnoxious comments about the high price of stabbed comic books.

At least, we think those are comic books in there. Outside of the cover… who knows?

The Point Radio: Burn Gorman Is THAT Guy

The Point Radio: Burn Gorman Is THAT Guy

Here’s a voice to go with a face we’re sure you are familiar with. You’ve seen actor Burn Gorman in DARK KNIGHT RISES, GAME OF THRONES and now in AMC’s TURN:WASHINGTON’S SPIES. He talks about his varied acting jobs and even how much fun it was on the set of TORCHWOOD plus what his dream acting job would be.

Christian Kane (THE LIBRARIANS, ANGEL) joins us in a few days to talk about his new movie and why we thunk he should be the next Wolverine.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Russell Davies Breaking New TV Ground Again

After breaking new television ground with projects like TORCHWOOD, QUEER AS FOLK and of course DOCTOR WHO. Russell T. Davies is back with a pair of new shows for Logo TV. It’s a unique concept he details in our exclusive talk, plus is there a future for TORCHWOOD and what got him to DOCTOR WHO in the first place? Plus TBS revives the domestic sitcom with YOUR FAMILY OR MINE boasting an amazing cast of TV veterans. Kat Foster and JoeBeth Williams talk about how the show is a new twist on the familiar concept.

We are back in just a few days with an exclusive look at the new season of SYFY’s werewolf drama, BITTEN (this time we mean it!). Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Divergent Blu-ray Release Scores August 5 Release Date

0612176BTr1SANTA MONICA, CA (May 20, 2014) – Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), the premier next generation global content leader, will release the electrifying first installment of t
he blockbuster action adventure franchise Divergent on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital), Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View on August 5, the Company announced today. The film will be available on Digital HD two weeks early on July 22.

A new trailer for the home video release was also announced.

Based on Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times best-selling book series which has sold nearly 22 million copies worldwide, the film features an all-star cast including Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet and Ashley Judd. To date,

Divergent has grossed nearly $150 million at the domestic box office and more than $250 million worldwide in its theatrical release on Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label, getting the new franchise off to a fast start.  The next three installments — Insurgent and Allegiant Parts 1 & 2 — will be released theatrically on March 20, 2015, March 18, 2016 and March 24, 2017, respectively.

There is a new clip, “Bringing Divergent to Life”, that’s worth a look.

Packed with bonus material, the Blu-ray Combo Pack includes the documentary “Bringing Divergent to Life,” an in-depth look at the making of the film plus the exclusive featurette “Faction Before Blood,” detailing the film’s future world. The Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD both feature deleted scenes and two audio commentaries – one with director Neil Burger and one with producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher. The Divergent Blu-ray Combo Pack will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.99 and the DVD for $29.95. 

Divergent stars Shailene Woodley (upcoming The Fault in Our Stars), Theo James (Underworld: Awakening), Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy), Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), Ray Stevenson (Thor), Zoё Kravitz (X-Men: First Class), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now), Tony Goldwyn (TV’s Scandal), Ansel Elgort (upcoming The Fault in Our Stars), Maggie Q (TV’s Nikita), Mekhi Phifer (Torchwood) and Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet (Best Actress, The Reader,2008). The film is directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless) from a screenplay by Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Vanessa Taylor (HBO’s Game of Thrones).

Divergent is a thrilling action adventure set in a future world where society has been divided into five distinct factions. But Tris will never fit into any one group-she is Divergent, and what makes her different makes her dangerous. Targeted by a faction leader determined to eliminate all Divergents, Tris turns to the one person she believes she can trust: Four, an instructor for the militant Dauntless faction, and a man full of dark secrets. Together, Tris and Four uncover a mind-bending conspiracy that will put their courage to the ultimate test…and forever link their destinies.

BLU-RAY COMBO PACK SPECIAL FEATURES*

  • “Bringing Divergent to Life” Documentary
  • “Faction Before Blood” Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher

*Subject to change

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES*

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher

*Subject to change

PROGRAM INFORMATION

Street Date: August 5, 2014
Price: $39.99 Blu-ray / $29.95 DVD
Title Copyright: Divergent © 2014, Artwork & Supplementary Materials ™ & © 2014 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Rating: PG-13 for Intense Violence and Action, Thematic Elements and Some Sensuality
Feature Run Time: 139 Minutes
Type: Theatrical Release
Genre: Action/Adventure
Closed Captioned: NA
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Blu-ray Format: 1080P High Definition 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
DVD Format: 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
Blu-ray Audio Status: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Optimized for Late-Night Listening and English Descriptive Audio
DVD Audio Status: English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio

John Ostrander: Broadchurch Secrets

Ostrander Art 130825Ordinarily, I wouldn’t “review” a TV miniseries or movie until it was completed. You should know the story before you comment on it. I know this is heresy these days but I feel you should know something about a topic before you drop an opinion bomb on it. I have no use for those who have decided they don’t like something without having bothered to experience it. That’s lazy and presumptive. I fully admit some things I have not sampled based on what I know of it, but I don’t render an verdict on it. If I hate something it’s because I tried it – like broccoli. Yuck. Broccoli.

However, I’m currently watching the BBC miniseries Broadchurch on BBC America. I’ve just seen the third episode of the eight part series and I think it’s incredible. I want to tell people about it. The series is set in a small coastal English town and follows the investigation into the murder of a ten-year old boy and the effects the murder and the investigation has on everyone – including the ones investigating.

The series was created, written, and executive produced by Chris Chibnall. ComicMix readers might know of his work on Doctor Who and Torchwood, among other things. Other Who influences include David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) as the lead inspector and Arthur Darvill (Rory) as the local pastor. I’ll be honest, it was Tennant that first drew me to Broadchurch; I’ve been interested in seeing what else he could do as an actor although, being honest again, I was not crazy about his performance in another BBC miniseries, Spies of Warsaw. His performance there, to my mind, was very one note.

Not so here. This time, he plays Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, a haunted depressed man with secrets of his own; there are levels in his performance that show his talent and skill.

He is matched by Olivia Colman as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller. (That’s another Who connection; in Matt Smith’s first outing as the Doctor, Ms. Colman plays “Mother” – one of the identities that the villain of the piece assumes.) DS Miller comes back from vacation expecting to be promoted to DI, only to find DI Hardy – an outsider – has gotten the job. And the best friend of her own son has been murdered.

For me, the biggest star is the writing. Everyone has secrets in this small town and they are gradually peeled back, revealing deeper and deeper levels of characterization. Grief is real and palpable. The mystery so far deepens with each episode and, at this writing, I have no idea who killed the boy or why.

There is a slight Twin Peaks vibe to the show – it’s deliberately paced and it has a slight undertone of supernatural in the person of a very odd man who claims he is getting messages from the dead boy. He seems sincere but – is he? Unlike Twin Peaks, however, I have the sense that the creator, Chris Chibnail, knows exactly where he’s going and how to wind it up. I trust him; OTOH, I also trusted the creators of The X-Files at the beginning. I thought they knew what they were doing; they fooled me.

The show isn’t simply about the murder, although that’s the engine that drives everything. It’s about secrets and that’s one of the most powerful narrative tools I know. Everyone has secrets and what gets revealed to whom, when, and how and is that a good idea really drives narrative and character. The revelation of secrets may answer some questions but may raise more.

It’s not only the secrets the characters reveal to one another, but the secrets that we learn as viewers, when do we learn them, what does that tell us. There’s more going on here than we initially know and it is only gradually unfolded to us.

The production values and the direction are all first rate. The acting is wonderful throughout. The show may not be to everyone’s taste – some might find it slow – and it demands that you pay attention but I’m riveted.

If you’re interested in the first three episodes (and I would not recommend you watch the show without seeing them), you can find them on BBC America On Demand, Amazon Instant Video and probably elsewhere. I’m certain it’ll also eventually be available on DVD and Blu-ray and such. I plan to own it when it does. It’s gotten excellent reviews both in the UK and the States. A second series of the show is reportedly in development and I’ve heard there are plans for an American adaptation.

For me, this is first class television and I can’t wait for the next episode. It’s not broccoli.

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

 

Emily S. Whitten: Hi-Yo, Dragon Con! Away!

Whitten Art 130820It seems like just yesterday I was getting back from San Diego Comic-Con…and now in less than two weeks, heeeeere comes Dragon Con! Another adventure!

Believe it or not, I still have some things to report from SDCC (yeah, I got a little behind, oops), but even though I’m still catching up from the last con, I’m super looking forward to Dragon Con! Why?

Well, for one thing, Dragon Con is my favorite con for costuming, outside of the Discworld cons. Not only do I get a kick out of costuming myself (as I’ve mentioned here before), but I also love looking at all of the amaaaaaazing costumes other people put together. From a Cylon with a real glowing spine, to an Archchancellor Ridcully with an actual flask in the tip of his pointy hat, to a pair of female “Spy vs. Spy” spies chasing each other around, any and every costume you can think of might make an appearance at the con, and the detail and creativity of many of the costumes just blows my mind.

The humor of a lot of them makes me happy, as well – from a group of gender-bent Disney princesses (complete with beards), to a couple of Spaceballs “combing” the bar-area floor with an actual giant comb, there are a lot of funny costumes to see. And then, of course, there’s one of the coolest costumes I ever saw at the con, which was done by my own roommate and friend Erica – a working Portal shirt with “portals” on the front and back, through which you could “see” to the other side. You never know what costume you’ll see next, and I love that.

I’m also super-excited, as always, about the awesome guests. Dragon Con is a great cross-section of the comics and genre TV and movie worlds, with guests from all over the spectrum. Also, of the cons I’ve been to, it’s the most comparable in its mix of guests to SDCC; but despite the huge crowds (57,000 people are expected to travel to Atlanta for Dragon Con this year), has a much more laid-back and less chaotic feel. Not to mention that with the Walk of Fame, you can often walk right up to your favorite celebrity to say hello (and buy a photo or an autograph, if that’s your thing). This year, I’m looking forward to seeing guests from Smallville, Once Upon a Time, Arrow, and Battlestar Galactica, among others. I’m also looking forward to seeing one of my favorite parts of any con, the animation and voice actor panels. Dragon Con has a lot of great voice actors coming this year, and those panels are always a blast. W00t!

Although this will be my third Dragon Con, there may be some folks out there for whom this is their first – and even for those who have been before, there are some new things to take note of this year. For that reason, I checked in with Dan Carroll of Dragon Con to see what he could tell me about this year’s con and how to enjoy it. Here’s what he said.

What are your top three tips to help new Dragon Con attendees get the most out of their experience?

1) Use the App! (Which you can get for Android or iPhone.)

2) Dad advice: Drink plenty of fluids! Eat your Meals! Sleep and Shower!

3) Have a plan for Dragon Con and find your way around as quickly as possible. Be flexible in your plan because you can’t see everything.

How does Dragon Con differ from other cons?

Dragon Cong brings together gaming, film, TV, comics, live music, a film festival, an art show, and the largest parade in Atlanta for a 24-hour-a-day event over four days in five four-star hotels and a great exhibition space.

What’s new and different this year, that veteran (and new) attendees should know about?

We have upgraded our vendor facilities by moving them to the AmericasMart showroom and convention space. This move allowed us to add nearly sixty new dealers or exhibitors. The space in the Marriott where vending was, is now home to the Walk of Fame where we have space for twenty additional signing tables.

Our big celebrations this year are about anniversaries. The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who has brought a great range of Doctor Who and Torchwood guests, the 30th Anniversary of Fraggle Rock is being celebrated with two Fraggle actors and puppets performing in our Puppetry Track. The 20th Anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is showcased with many of the original cast members and a lot of Star Trek luminaries including William Shatner and George Takei.

(Emily adds: It is also the 20th Anniversary of Animaniacs, as I’ve mentioned before, and Pinky and the Brain (Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche) will be on hand for that!)

What tools are available specifically for Dragon Con fun?

As I mentioned before, the App is a great place to start. Each hotel has an information desk that provides excellent advice and guidance to the Dragon Con member. Other great tools are the Daily Dragon for updated information and Dragon Con TV for some serious belly laughs.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s con? What do you recommend as a must-see activity?

I am looking forward to the new guests at Dragon Con such as Lee Majors and Lindsey Wagner. I am also looking forward to seeing my friends and reporters from around the country whom I only get to see at Dragon Con.

What’s the best costume you’ve ever seen at Dragon Con?

I think the most striking I have ever seen is a 12 foot tall Galactus. My favorite is probably when I see my favorite comic book character, Marvel Girl Jean Grey in her 1960s mini dress and white go-go boots.

Anything else you’d like to share about the con?

The easiest thing about talking about Dragon Con is that there is so much to talk about, which leaves me knowing that I am always leaving so much out. With 38 “tracks” of programming, each dedicated to an aspect of fandom, there is too much going to on to convey in a few sentences, so I invite everyone to come to Dragon Con and experience this amazing event for yourselves!

•     •     •     •     •

Well there you have it, folks! Some tips and info for new and veteran attendees, which will hopefully help everyone have as great a time at Dragon Con as I plan to have! And if you see me at the con, be sure to say hi!

Until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis on March

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold on Rock’n’Blues

 

John Ostrander: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

OStrander Art 130728There are certain films I’ve discovered just by channel surfing; likewise, there are films that I know and when I come across them (again, channel surfing), I may stay to watch a given scene and then find myself watching the film through to the end. Most of the OT Star Wars movies are like that; so is Casablanca. This morning my Mary and I came across another, Miss Pettgrew Lives For A Day.  I found it first on TV, bought a copy, and today watched the movie through to the end anyway.

The 2008 film stars Amy Adams, Frances McDormand, Ciaran Hinds, Lee Pace, Mark Strong and Shirley Henderson, among others, and it was directed by Bharat Nalluri with a screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy adapting the 1937 novel by Winifred Watson.

I suspect you’ll already know Amy Adams’ and Frances McDormand’s work. Bharat Nalluri may be more known to ComicMix readers as the man who directed episodes of MI-5 and Torchwood: Miracle Day. Writer David Magee wrote Finding Neverland (another film I love) and Life of Pi. Simon Beaufoy won an Academy Award for Slumdog Millionaire and has also scripted the upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as well as The Full Monty.

Ciaran Hinds has a mixture of films to his credit. He played Dumbledore’s brother in the final Harry Potter film, was also in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as well as John Carter and Game of Thrones. I thought he was very hammy in Political Animals, the Sigourney Weaver TV miniseries but he’s wonderful and understated in Miss Pettigrew.

Mark Strong was in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and John Carter as well and also played Sinestro in the Green Lantern film as well as Lord Blackwood in the Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey Jr. Lee Pace is in all three Hobbit movies and will be playing Ronan the Accuser in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film.

Why do I tell you all this? To drive home that Miss Pettigrew has a really good pedigree and it lives up to it.

The story is gossamer light for all that it’s set in London in 1938 on the eve of World War II. That gives the film an underlying shadow; we know what’s waiting in the wings. So do some of the characters and it adds a poignancy to the story.

The story? Imdb does a nice job of summarizing the story so I’ll quote it: “War threatens London as Miss Pettigrew, a destitute governess, filches a client’s card from her agency and presents herself at the door. A singer named Delysia Lafosse wants a social secretary as she seeks a West End role by sleeping with a feckless producer in the bed of Nick, a smarmy nightclub owner with whom she also dallies. She ignores Michael, her piano player, who loves her and has tickets for New York on the Queen Mary. Miss Pettigrew’s job is to make sure Delysia gets the part. Over 24 hours, Miss Pettigrew is also called upon to help an ambitious and unfaithful fashion editor patch things up with her older fiancé, a lingerie designer. Has Miss Pettigrew found her calling?”

Amy Adams is Delysia and she’s perfection. She has superb comedic timing and shows real heart in a character that could otherwise be described as flighty and manipulative. The character is a fake but there are reasons why and a past that comes up at key moments. There’s an innocence to her. And it’s a brave performance. At the emotional climax, when she sings “If I Didn’t Care”, there are notes where Amy Adams shows us that Delysia is a good singer but not a great one. She’s not as good a singer as Amy Adams proved in Enchanted. You can hear that song on YouTube.

Listen to how the real character breaks through as she sings the song and discovers where her heart truly lies.

Frances McDomand’s performance as Miss Pettigrew is a lesson in underacting. The character starts very cold and distant, with a very set idea of what is right, and it all gets turned upside down as she encounters Delysia. Her heart, her warmth, opens up as she deals and helps the chaos that is the younger woman.

All the actors are wonderful and the movie itself could have been made in the 30s – all the period details seem so right. It’s a beautiful film to look at and the costumes and the cars and the sets all establish a reality – one that you know is soon to vanish. I never escape the underlying threat of war that runs through the film.

Just wanted to share a film that has become one of my favorites. Will you like it? Beats me. But if you’re a tad tired of superheroes right now and explosions and all that, you might want to give it a try.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING (and so on): Emily S. Whitten

 

A Doctor A Day – “Army of Ghosts / Doomsday”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode, The Snowmen.

The mysterious spectral shapes that have been appearing across London are not what they appear.  What becomes a Doctor Who fan’s greatest wish come true starts as an…

ARMY OF GHOSTS / DOOMSDAY
by Russell T Davies
Directed by Graeme Harper

“Daleks have no concept of elegance.” “This is obvious.”

Returning to Earth, The Doctor and Rose are surprised to learn that ghosts have been appearing all over the world.  Rather than being met with fear, they’ve become a national phenomenon.  People await their by-the-clock appearances and disappearances daily, and happily discuss the visitations with each other and on the TV.  What they don’t realize is they’re actually being caused by experiments at the Torchwood Institute, attempting to perfect a machine that would cross dimensional barriers to obtain new energy sources.  But even that is only means to an end, to open a mysterious sphere that resists all testing and analysis.  As The Doctor attempts to analyze the ghosts, Torchwood detects the shift in the field and realizes he’s in the area.  So when he identifies the source and heads there, they’re ready for him.

Following from Queen Victoria’s dictate, Torchwood exists to study alien technology as a defense for the nation, and they view The Doctor as an enemy, regardless of the number of times he’s saved the world.  He’s immediately taken into custody and the TARDIS impounded.  Showing him the sphere, he identifies it as a void ship, designed to travel, and hide, in the space between dimensions. He convinces them to stop the testing, but the people (well, I say people…)  behind the breach have been slowly taking over the staff, and they initiate a final breach, and stand revealed as…Cybermen.  The ghosts across the world fully materialize as Cybermen, and almost immediately seize control.

Ah, so they’re hiding in that void ship sphere, right?  Wellll, no.  The Void Ship was what pushed through to our world first, a weakness the Cybermen took advantage of.  It’s a life raft for a race that thought they would not survive its final battle.  It’s the Daleks.  Carrying a Genesis Ark, they plan to repopulate the world with new Daleks, and with no Time Lords to stop them, nothing should stop them from conquering the universe.

Well…ONE Time Lord.  And luckily, a small army from Pete’s world, who cobbled together technology to follow the Cybermen through the Void.  But is that going to be enough to fight the two most powerful enemies The Doctor has ever faced at once?

The Doctor Who team did a great job keeping the return of the Daleks secret, basically by making it blatant that the Cybermen were returning.  There’s not a Whofan on Earth who hasn’t considered how cool a Cybermen/Dalek team-up would be, and to finally see it was a surprise indeed. The first discussion between the two foes is absolutely hilarious.

A great close of the season, and a happy ending for Rose and Jackie.  Following up on the idea of alternate universe replacements, Pete has almost no hesitation in accepting “our” Jackie and Rose as his new family, and since it meets the happy ending parameters we want, we do as well.

The Cybermen got a small upgrade in this adventure, the retractable wrist-cannon.  They had no offensive weapon in the earlier adventure, and had to “delete” their enemies hand-to-hand.  We also saw a rather big change to the Daleks as well, with the Cult of Skaro, three Daleks bred to have independent thought, to come up with ideas that a normal brute-force Dalek never could.  It’s an idea that had been addressed before, with the need to find Davros in Destiny of the Daleks.

The original “Ghostwatch” was a very controversial one-shot special presented on the BBC in 1992, and never repeated in the UK.  Presented as a reality/documentary show about ghosts, it was in fact a staged drama.  British chat show legend Michael Parkinson  hosted what was to be a live investigation of spectral activity in a house in North London eventually resulted in the ghosts taking control of the broadcast and remotely possessing Parkinson as the show ended.  Even though it was touted as a drama, complete with “written by” and cast credits in the opening, the show was met with a reaction similar to the classic War of the Worlds broadcast.  There’s copies of it floating about the Internet, and is well worth a look.

Musical motifs from what would become the Torchwood theme appear in this episode’s score, which rather makes sense since Murray Gold provides the music for both.

Yes, that is Freema Aygeman as a worker at Torchwood.  Doctor Who has become almost legendary at choosing from its own for larger parts— Eve Myles will be back shortly for Torchwood, and Karen Gillan made her first appearance as a prophetess in The Fires of Pompeii.  It didn’t start in the new series, either.  Colin Baker, Doctor number six, first appeared as Commander Maxil in Arc of Infinity.

A Doctor A Day – “The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode,The Snowmen.

Humanity’s natural response to the order “no” is “why?”  Put up a sign marked “wet paint”, and count all the people who touch what it’s hanging on.  And if you bury the devil, it’s a poor idea to put him on…

THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET / THE SATAN PIT
by Matt Jones
Directed by James Strong

The Doctor and Rose land on a space base orbiting around a black hole (this is of course impossible), filled with writing so old the TARDIS can’t translate it (this is of course impossible).  The crew of the base explain that there’s an ancient power source at the core of the planet so strong it’s not only holding the planet in place, but generating a safe path to and from the planet (this is of course impossible).  After a bit of investigation, it’s discovered that a being who claims to be The Devil (The definite article, you might say) is imprisoned at the core, and this mad geostationary contraption is its eternal prison (this is of course, even if the other stuff was possible, which it isn’t, impossible).

The beast cannot escape his prison, but his mind can, and successfully takes over one of the crew, as well as its stock of alien slaves, the Ood.  While The Doctor spelunks down to the cavern in the planet’s core, Rose and the crew fight the now quite violent Ood in the station.  The Doctor is left with a terrible choice – destroy the beast’s prison and doom Rose, or let her and the crew escape, along with the beast’s mind.

A very moody episode, with a well-designed set that allowed for lots of corridor runs and corner turns.  The Doctor even comments at the beginning that a lot of these bases look the same, and are made from kits. It’s got a very haunted house feel, which is basically what the classic sci-fi film Alien is, as are all tributes to it. The Doctor gets a number of very nice speeches about how amazing humans are, boldly rushing in where angels fear to tread, and wanting to do things solely because they’ve not been done yet.  It’s a recurring idea for the Doctor, interspersed occasionally with his comments about how blind and small-minded they are.  We’re clearly his favorite race, and not simply because humans are cheaper to portray in a TV show.

It’s the premiere of another new recurring alien, the Ood.  They return a few time over the course of the new series, including a much more Ood-centric story in the Donna Noble season. The Ood are played as an unintelligent hive-minded race here, a “perfect slave race” as they’re described, and there’s simply no time for the story to address that.  Rose makes a passing comment about it, but it’s quickly waved off, especially after they went all red-eyed and scary, and could be classified as a threat.  It’s not until the next Ood story do we get a real idea of their situation, and a more proper addressing of their status as slaves.

An Ood appeared in Neil Gaiman’s story The Doctor’s Wife, mainly because they didn’t have money in the budget to make a new alien.

While The Doctor had never met the devil himself before, he’s come close.  The Demoniacs, Sutekh, and other races were believed to have interacted with humanity  in the past and give it the idea of devils.  Tom Baker was supposed to have fought the devil, in the guise of Scratchman, in a film written by Baker and Ian Marter titled Doctor Who meets Scratchman.  It had a mad throw-everything-at-it plot, but never got past the talking stage.