Sherlock Holmes: The Priory School

When Christopher Benjamin bursts into Sherlock’s apartment, I had completely derailed my hope for a normal episode, wishing instead that Henry Gordon Jago would make an appearance.  Alas, I was not to be so lucky and while Benjamin may be an actor of great talent, there is no finer character for him to play than Doctor Who’s Henry Gordon Jago.  So I was a little let down having him play a headmaster of the titular Priory School.  Still, he does the role justice and I can’t knock his acting.  I just wish he had more alliteration in his script.  You know how it is… old times sake and all that! Continue reading

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Star Trek: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Star Trek Blue LogoIn 2019, I took the penultimate class needed to finish a long-overdue degree.   That class was simply called Pop Culture.  We had to look at a series, movie, book, music… something that could be examined under “four lenses.”  Within the first hour of the class, I knew I wanted to look at Star Trek and there was one episode of classic Trek more deserving of that analysis than Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.  It’s not that it’s a good episode; in fact it’s a bit like being beaten over the head to make a point.  But considering when this was made and what the message is, it’s possibly one of the most significant episodes of Star Trek ever made. Continue reading

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Space: 1999 – Earthbound

breakawayWhen Roy Doltrice appeared on screen, I remembered that he was the commissioner from the pilot episode Breakaway.  I could not help but wonder where he had been hiding all this time.  Wherever it was, he should have stayed there.  But his presence was a reminder of his role in Babylon 5, which made me realize that this series shares some commonalities with B5.  Things like the self-contained world, hanger bays and the train-car tubes used to get around the city.  They also both seem to have floating cameras to give the members of the base a chance to see what’s going on in random places (as we saw in the last episode too.)  At least B5 has the courtesy of showing us those floating cameras.  If this series were a bit more continuity-conscious, it might have been the first really detailed science fiction world to hit our TVs.  But many scifi shows could make these claims so it’s probably a mediocre observation.  However, this episode is far from mediocre.  It’s a pretty straightforward affair but it pulls off a Twilight Zone-like ending that left me numb for several minutes! Continue reading

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Little Busters! EX

Little Busters! EX Saya Tokido bath sceneLittle Busters! reaches a conclusion with this eight episode OVA season. With the main story resolved in the previous season, this is not essential viewing, but does provide a very watchable coda to the series, and introduces a new character who swiftly became my favourite.

The first four episodes focus on Saya Tokido, a mysterious blonde who crashes into Riki’s life with a hail of bullets. I ended my review of the second season by saying I wanted Little Busters! to bring back the fun, and Saya definitely does that. She is a really cool, exciting character, who soon has Riki involved in a dangerous situation. Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: The Rivals (Review)

The Edgar Wallace MysteriesOnce again this is a thriller rather than a mystery, but these are the kinds of stories the Edgar Wallace series of B movies did the best, exploring moral grey areas with no obvious hero character. The closest we come to audience identification figures are a group of three small time criminals, who specialise in car theft. They buy log books and keys from scrap dealers, and then find cars that are a match for the scrapped vehicle and then steal them. This time they get more than they bargained for when they find a package in the glove box containing a beret and a ransom note. Continue reading

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Pack

I was not looking forward to rewatching this episode, as I remembered it as embarrassingly silly. On repeat viewing, and paying a bit more attention to what the writers are doing here, I was wondering how I could have been so wrong about The Pack. I can see how I got a bad impression originally, and that basically comes down to an element of silliness on display here. Scenes of teenagers pretending to be hyenas are not helped by the overdubbed calls and growls, which are clearly not emerging from the mouths of the actors, and are about as convincing as the squeals that are not coming from the very docile pig, which Sarah Michelle Gellar shakes around a bit to make it look like it’s reacting to a threat. It would have been better if the actors just behaved like animals (perhaps with a little more subtlety), without being made to sound like them as well. It didn’t need to be that literal, because the metaphor is a very strong one: a pack of bullies becomes a pack of wild animals, and engage in their usual behaviour of preying on the weak, which is gradually amplified until they become killers. Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: The Purple Testament

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959Here’s what you have to consider: Rod Serling has less than 25 minutes to tell a story, get you invested and hit you with a punchline, something to zing the audience. Almost anyone can tell a short story: “A horse walks into a bar.  The bartender looks up and says ‘why the long face?'”  At best you giggle and move on.  You don’t care about the characters.  I didn’t have to put it to screen nor did I have a time limit and certainly no special effects were needed.  But Serling pulls off a compelling story in The Purple Testament, with very little action, creates characters for us to care about and hits us with a “gotcha” moment all in under half an hour.  That’s incredibly skillful. Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: The Empty House

After Holmes fell to his death at Reichenbach, Watson has aged!  He almost looks like a different man.  I might write this off to the grieving process if not for the fact that it is a different actor.  While I was very fond of David Burke, this Watson is probably more akin to what Doyle had in mind: a skilled former army surgeon.  Gone is the more humorous version of Watson, but what we get is an admirable member to the many names who have played Sherlock’s best friend, Edward Hardwicke.             Continue reading

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Star Trek: Whom Gods Destroy

Star Trek Blue LogoNana-nana-nana-nana-nana-nana-nana-nana-MAR-TA!

Watching some 60’s TV that would air during my youth, I remember having a crush on two women from Batman.  Or should I say a woman and a girl?  Namely, Catwoman played by Julie Newmar (last seen in Star Trek in the hilarious Friday’s Child), and Batgirl, played by Yvonne Craig, as this week’s Orion Slave girl, Marta.  Continue reading

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Space: 1999 – Matter of Life and Death

breakawayWell this story opens with a real humdinger of an idea… or perhaps I should say a Schrodinger of an idea?  It’s like this: the Alphans find a new planet and “computer” (because no one likes using the definite article when talking about the computer in this series) identifies it as Terra Nova.  It’s a peaceful world perfectly suited to life for the Alphans… a new home!  So an Eagle is sent over with 2 crewmen but something happens causing the Eagle to return… with a third person on board!  When Koenig and Russell arrive to check on this new passenger, we find out it’s Helena’s husband, Lee Russell.  Or is he?  He was lost near Jupiter 5 years ago, so how could it be?  He’s also alive… or is he dead?  Scans are undecided!  Yes, this he could be one or the other, giving us a really interesting mystery.  But what does he have to do with the planet they are hoping to make their new home? Continue reading

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Legend of the Sea Devils

The Sea Devils are among the second flight of Doctor Who villains, but it feels like a refreshing change to have them back after so many years. The constant return of the big hitters, particularly the Daleks, has been starting to feel repetitive. By and large, Chris Chibnall has been a show-runner who looks to past successes and does something similar again, and this is really no exception because it’s the same old story about Silurians / Sea Devils reawakening to reclaim the land / sea they walked / swam before humans. Delete as appropriate. It’s all the same basic idea, and we’ve seen it at least four times now. But at least it’s not the Daleks. This old story feels quite fresh now. Continue reading

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Chobits

Chobits Chi FanservicePredictions of the near future date badly, very quickly. I’m still waiting for my hoverboard from Back to the Future, for a start, and I should have had that by now. That weather control station on the moon from Doctor Who’s The Moonbase isn’t looking too likely either. Chobits is set in a future where everyone owns lifelike robot helpers called persocoms, which doesn’t seem like a bad guess (albeit one that’s probably not going to happen any time soon), but the series was made in 2002, so credibility is stretched to breaking point already by details such as connecting the robots to televisions with RGB cables, the internet depicted in its infancy and how a lot of people don’t seem to know what email is. This is an awkward fit with robots who are so close to human that some men are starting to fall in love with them. Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: The Double (Review)

The Edgar Wallace MysteriesThe sub-one-hour format of these Edgar Wallace Mysteries often necessitates a compressed form of storytelling in order to fit everything in. Some writers handled that better than others. For The Double, screenplay writers Lindsay Galloway and John Roddick start their story at a sprint and never really pause for breath. The problem with this is that they seem to forget that just because they understand what their story is about, that doesn’t mean that the viewers do. Continue reading

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

What happens when your heart’s desire conflicts with your responsibilities? Buffy is obviously going to be a series that explores teenage issues, but it can do more than that, because Buffy is the Slayer, and that’s a job and a responsibility, so there is also clearly a springboard for exploring adult issues as well, right from the start. That’s what happens here. Buffy initiates a relationship that conflicts with her job, and in ignoring Giles’ advice she places people she cares for in danger. There is a tough lesson for Buffy to learn this week. Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: The Last Flight

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959Well here’s an episode of The Twilight Zone that does not get a lot of repeats to the best of my memory and I can’t understand why.  I think it’s a damned good episode.  And clearly I’m not alone since Torchwood pulled off nearly the same story with Catherine Tregenna’s Out of Time.  (For a refresher on that, please pop back to our Torchwood page here.)  In this story, Flight Lt. William Terrance Decker, a pilot from 1917, finds himself displaced in 1959.  Can he provide the evidence needed to convince the airforce personnel that he’s telling the truth? Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One

sherlock holmes chapter oneI confess that I was totally disappointed when Frogwares announced that their next foray into the world of Sherlock Holmes would be a prequel, examining when Sherlock was a young man, pre-Watson.  Part of the joy of the Sherlock Holmes stories is that friendship he has with John.  Then, seemingly missing the boat a second time in one game, I learned that Holmes would have a companion for the story, whose name would be Jon.  So what’s the value of getting rid of Watson?  The function served by Watson might be easy to replace but could they possibly capture the same feeling?  Had Frogwares finally fallen off the lilypad?   

On top of that, we were not going to be able to wander the streets of London.  What’s the point?!   I loved Frogware’s interpretation of Sherlock’s famous apartment.  Why were they taking me away from that?  And where is this strange place they did decide to go?
Continue reading

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Star Trek: Elaan of Troyius

Star Trek Blue LogoFrench actress France Nuyen… yes, her first name identifies her nationality… very convenient… plays the titular Elaan of Troyius in another one of Trek’s forays into sexism.  Yeah, yeah, I’m being unfair, I know, but for a show I remembered as being “before it’s time” and forward thinking, I’m amazed by some of the things that happen in these episodes.  When Kirk and company are sent on a top secret mission, it immediately sounds good, but this is no Enterprise Incident.  In this story, Kirk has to bring a “spoiled brat” to get married.   The problem with spoiled brats is that I expect kids, like in Miri or And The Children Shall Lead.  Instead, Elaan arrives wearing the second sexiest outfit in Trek history, acts like a savage (who travels with lots of expensive clothes), and needs to be smacked around by Jim; he actually offers her a spanking at one point.  I have a hard time reconciling that with a show that’s supposed to be forward thinking. Continue reading

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Space: 1999 – End of Eternity

breakawayThis was more like it!  Last week we had a terribly dull episode that felt like a repeat of a Star Trek story.  This has hints of a classic Twilight Zone episode in the form of The Lonely, where an asteroid is used as a prison, but they ramp up the story and give us a frightening episode that is a distinct departure from its Twilight Zone counterpart.

End of Eternity opens with the Alphans exploring an asteroid that seems to have an internal atmosphere.  They find what Victor calls “…a one-room world”.  When they use explosives to get into that room, they find a man who was injured by the explosive.  They rush him back to Alpha where he dies.  But not for long…
Continue reading

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Shakugan no Shana S OVA Series

Shakugan no Shana S OVA JunkoAt the end of the second season of Shakugan no Shana, we were left with a cliffhanger of sorts, with the love triangle between Yuji, Shana and Kazumi about to be resolved. It was pretty obvious which way Yuji was going to jump (well, walk), but even so it is frustrating to see that the cliffhanger ending is not resolved at the start of this, the OVA series that followed. Instead, we head off on three different tangents.                     Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Ricochet (Review)

The Edgar Wallace MysteriesWhen a husband finds out that his wife is having an affair, he could be expected to be somewhat aggrieved about that. Not so for Alan Phipps (Richard Leech), who instead decides to team up with his wife’s boyfriend John Brodie (Alex Scott) and blackmail his wife Yvonne (Maxine Audley), using some love letters. Anyone who has watched a few crime dramas will know that the life expectancy of a blackmailer is very short, and this is no exception. Predictably, Yvonne ends up shooting John. Has Alan just killed two birds with one stone? Continue reading

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