Star Trek: The Omega Glory

Star Trek Opening TitlesSo the USS Exeter was lost on patrol around Omega IV years ago and now Kirk finds it.  He decides to go investigate; not a bad option normally.   The Omega Glory has one hell of an opener.  The whole idea of beaming to a ship where everyone has turned to crystal… that was impressive.  Then Jim stumbles upon a captain’s log that says if they stay on the Exeter, they’ll be dead in minutes so they have to beam to the planet if they want to survive.   They beam down to… Mexico?  Mongolia?  The minute they landed, I thought: what’s going on? Continue reading

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The Council of Nicaea

the council of niceaI know I must sound like a bit of a broken record, but when I’m impressed by something, I’m often quite vocal about it.  Actually that happens when I’m annoyed too… I guess I’m just someone who talks a lot!  But I think that’s ok, because when I’m complaining, I’m trying to come up with ways to improve the thing I’m complaining about.  When I’m praising, it’s to talk about how good a given thing is.  In this case, I have to again praise Big Finish.  Typically it’s the creativity that wins me over but this time I’d say it’s the bravery that gets me.  To take on a subject such as The Council of Nicaea, where it is said the Emperor Constantine voted on the divinity of Christ, takes some confidence, especially for a show like Doctor Who.  Get it wrong and you could potentially alienate people by attacking their religion.  Luckily, I think it’s safe to say that the writers at Big Finish pulled off a successful adventure without hurting anyone’s feelings.  Whether that was skillful storytelling or forgetting to give us the whole story is open to debate.  Perhaps we’ll form The Council for the Council of Nicaea!  No?…
Continue reading

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Dream Eater Merry (Review)

Dream Eater MerryRegular readers will know that I’m not a huge fan of fantasy anime. All those big battles don’t really impress me, however many people are flying around and however many bangs and flashes there are. One thing that will attract me to a fantasy series is an interesting concept, and Dream Eater Merry certainly has one of those. It posits the idea that our dreams are a glimpse into another world, which we share with other beings known as dream demons. Something in that balance of nature is going wrong here, with demons possessing sleepers in order to cross over into the real world. Conquering a possessing demon comes at a price: the loss of the sleeper’s dreams, and that means the metaphorical kind of dreams, as in their hopes and ambitions. It leaves a person feeling hollow, and an epidemic of that problem is happening in the town where Yumeji lives. He’s our main male character, and he has a special talent: the ability to see an aura around people that indicates what kind of a dream they will be having that night. As the series progresses, he keeps seeing more and more nightmare auras. Continue reading

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The Box of Delights Episode 5

The Box of Delights Opening TitlesBeware of Yesterday”

Beware of yesterday, especially when yesterday is achieved with Colour Separation Overlay. Kay goes back into the past in search of Arnold of Todi, the original owner of the Box of Delights. He seems to think that giving Arnold back his box will solve everyone’s problems, although the logic escapes me. Abner clearly doesn’t know where the box is, and Joe’s suggestion that Cole might have given it to Kay is met with derision. I’m not sure why he would think Abner will stop looking for it and let everyone go because it has been passed on to somebody else, even if that somebody else is the box’s original owner. The whole sequence is rather pointless, adding jeopardy but failing to move the story onwards, with Arnold reacting angrily and refusing to take back the box. I suppose his refusal to accept it is interesting, suggesting that the power it brings could be a curse as much as a blessing. Somewhere hidden away here is a theme of being careful what you wish for, but it is buried deep beneath some fairly disposable and momentary danger. Continue reading

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The Avengers: Dead on Course

The Avengers DVD releaseThis is Dr King’s third and final appearance in The Avengers and he leaves without fanfare and without having made much of an impression. That’s a shame because his first appearance was excellent, and Jon Rollason is capable of far better than the flat performance he puts in here, but he is not helped much by a script that does little with him other than use him as a fairly bland sidekick to Steed, who gets to have all the fun. It is Steed who gets to infuriate the airport staff, winding up a very tedious investigator who deserves all the baiting Steed gives him. It is also Steed who gets most of the interaction with the memorable characters in the pub. Poor Dr King, in contrast, makes his greatest contribution to the story by trying to get a silent nun to talk: Continue reading

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The Outer Limits: The Probe

Outer Limits 1963 titles logo originalWell, I called it.  I am very disappointed that the last episode of The Outer Limits was The Probe.  Conceptually it’s a good story, but in execution, it’s painfully tedious.  The main characters spend the episode questioning everything, ultimately to ask the very question we’ve asked time and again in this series: will visitors from the stars be compassionate and humane.  I’m not saying this episode doesn’t have a place in the 48 stories, but it’s a damned shame that the last two episodes hadn’t been reversed.  If they were, we would have had with a marvelous message about humanity to wrap up the series.  Instead, we get an hour of “what would happen if” as the plot and people going back and forth over a largely empty and uninspiring set. Continue reading

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Doctor Who Flux: The Vanquishers

Flux has been a fairly complex story with lots of strands to the plot playing out over the six episodes. All those strands have been necessary, and feed nicely into the conclusion. Up until this final episode, I felt like there was a lot going on that seemed tangential and perhaps unnecessary, such as Vinder’s journey to find Bel and Diane doing a lot of apparently aimless wandering around, but those aspects of the story proved vital in the end, and the moment when Vinder and Bel were reunited was exactly the kind of soppy romance I enjoy. Continue reading

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Star Trek: By Any Other Name

Star Trek Opening TitlesReplying to a distress call, Kirk and crew find themselves on a stunningly colorful planet. They encounter humanoids that can immobilize them for some classic 60’s “stand still” action. Kudos to the cast for really sticking with it and not moving a muscle. I don’t think I could have done that. (What I want to know is: what was McCoy saying to Spock? Kirk has just been told that the Rojan is going to take over the Enterprise and Kirk says he has a strange sense of humor. McCoy turns to Spock with his finger pointing. What was it to be? See the value of a sense of humor, Spock?) Continue reading

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Unregenerate!

unregenerateI was just starting to wonder if I’d fallen out of love with the Doctor Who audios when I’d started this.  I mean, I loved when McCoy became the Doctor.  Everything about him was wonderful.  He was comical, but dark and mysterious too.  He rolled his r’s and had a Scottish accent – who doesn’t love a Scottish accent?  But when I started Unregenerate, his confused ramblings just annoyed me.  He rolls those r’s where there’s simply no need.  And Mel… goodness, I was not a fan of her originally and was glad when she left.  But as this story went on, I was becoming increasingly intrigued and Mel carries the bulk of the story.  I’d go so far as to say she makes the story!  That’s a tough thing for me to admit, but there it is. Continue reading

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Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul (Review)

Made in Abyss Dawn of the Deep Soul Nanachi Riko PrushkaYou might have reached this point by watching the first series of the anime, or you might have watched the two compilation films that proceed it. Either way, this feature film is the continuation of the Made in Abyss story, and picks up right where the first season left off. There is no attempt to make this accessible for new viewers, so if you haven’t yet watched either the series or the compilation films you will be completely lost. The action takes place in the fifth layer of the Abyss, and this is an ideal leg of the journey for the big budget treatment, because it marks a significant moment: the sixth level is extraordinarily difficult to get into, and nobody ever comes back from there. This is the point of no return. Continue reading

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The Box of Delights Episode 4

The Box of Delights Opening TitlesThe Spider in the Web”

The “spider” of the title presumably refers to Abner, but what flies has he caught, and what will he do with them? There is a theme of capture and escape this week. We get confirmation that Caroline Louisa is officially missing, Abner admits to imprisoning Cole Hawlings, and by the end of the episode Peter has been “scrobbled” too. But the really interesting one is Maria, whose loyalties were in doubt. She certainly comes up trumps here. Continue reading

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The Avengers: Death Dispatch

The Avengers DVD releaseSome poor quality stock footage signals that this episode takes place in Jamaica, at least to start with, and from there becomes a bit of a globe-trotter for Steed and Cathy, with Steed posing as a courier delivering important dispatches from Britain, after the original courier has been murdered. They face some fairly incompetent enemies this week, who are out to kill them right from the start. At the airport, they bizarrely wait patiently while Steed finishes his phone call to Cathy, although he’s clearly playing for time, allowing her to rescue him. Continue reading

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The Outer Limits: The Premonition

Outer Limits 1963 titles logo originalI had a premonition that The Premonition was going to be a lame duck episode and was pleasantly surprised to find it was actually very good.  While it’s again about an experiment that goes wrong, a common theme in the series, it doesn’t play like a negative look at science.  Instead, it creates a situation where a husband and wife seem to fall out of sync with time for one purpose: to save their daughter.  That’s refreshing.  I was just recently talking about Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone and what a bleak place that seems to be.  The Outer Limits, at least this once, offers us a really pleasant experience for a family, even if it was a bit scary for them.  In the end, they take the entire ordeal as nothing more than a premonition, and I can live with the poetic nature of that outlook. Continue reading

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Doctor Who Flux: Survivors of the Flux

We should have had more faith. When Chris Chibnall wrote UNIT out of Doctor Who in Resolution it seemed like sacrilege, but the man had plans. Survivors of the Flux shows us the Grand Serpent’s interference in UNIT’s history, right from the start, with a lovely little nod to the Brig (or the Colonel as he was at the time), the voice of the late Nicholas Courtney audible from behind a door. Importantly, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart is the only member of UNIT who is any kind of a match for the Serpent, a formidable villain. As soon as an enemy is aware of that he isn’t a human, that person is already in his death throes. It’s perhaps slightly gruesome for a family audience, but Chibnall has succeeded in creating another superb monster. He suddenly seems to have found a knack for that. Continue reading

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Star Trek: Patterns of Force

Star Trek Opening TitlesSome Star Trek episodes are hard to watch.  I’m looking at you, Space Hitler.  Patterns of Force had the decency to explain that the Nazi regime was wrong but hey, they were controlled by bad men and they didn’t intend to be bad.  It’s an enlightened view but it just doesn’t come off well on screen and Kirk is almost too forgiving of his former teacher when everyone knows you DON’T FOLLOW THE WAYS OF THE NAZI.  Like, that’s a universal truth, right there!  The regime was bad and that’s all I need to know.  Continue reading

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Three’s a Crowd

threes a crowdDoctor Who is a wonderful show and Big Finish does a great job keeping it alive.  It even adds some lore in the form of new companions that can smoothly fit in between stories and last for many episodes between the televised adventures.  But sometimes, where it might do a great job in the audio format, it actually can take away something from the televised version.  I’ll qualify that statement.  First off, we know the televised character is never in any real jeopardy because that character has to live to see the television episodes that a given story fits between.  But more than that, taking this episode as an example, there’s a moment when the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) is talking to Peri about the benefits of having three companions.  He mentions Nyssa, Adric and Tegan.  I love the fact that show remembers its history; it’s a complaint I have frequently when it gets ignored.  But the thing is, Erimem is never mentioned in the televised episodes and while we fully understand why that is, I almost feel its a shame. Continue reading

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Love Live! The School Idol Movie (Review)

Love Live MovieWhat better way to conclude a successful anime series than with a movie, and this feels very much like the last word on the story of the original line-up. Unlike a series where the storylines can be divided evenly between the main characters, a movie has to have a tighter focus, and this is very much Honoka’s story, although the other girls all get their moments to shine, particularly in the song performances. Continue reading

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The Box of Delights Episode 3

The Box of Delights Opening TitlesIn Darkest Cellars Underneath”

If you thought there was a weak cliffhanger to the end of the previous episode, it does at least lead to a very important scene at the beginning of the third. There are a couple of revelations here, one of which makes more sense if you have read The Midnight Folk. Most children watching this at the time, myself included, wouldn’t have realised they were actually watching a sequel, in terms of the original novels. Like many children who saw this, I was inspired to buy John Masefield’s original books. So when Kay sees Sylvia Daisy Pouncer and says, “she used to be my governess and she’s a witch”, it might seem like an odd info dump, but it’s a consequence of The Box of Delights being a sequel to The Midnight Folk, in which Sylvia was the antagonist. Abner featured too, but was of lesser importance. It seems a little odd that this information was even included here, as Sylvia is re-established as Abner’s lover, so why do we need to know about any past history beyond that? It’s possible that Alan Seymour was keen to keep his script as close to the original as possible (and it is a very faithful adaptation), although he didn’t bother explaining the backstory with Rat, who used to be Kay’s ally in The Midnight Folk and has now turned traitor. Continue reading

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The Avengers: The Big Thinker

The Avengers DVD releaseWe start with a slow pan around an impressive studio set, and I don’t blame the director for that. He was probably very pleased with the designer’s work for this one and wanted to show off what he had to work with, a two-layer set with a super computer. Looking back at representations of computers on television in the 60s, you’ve got to laugh really, haven’t you. I’ve seen a few of them now, in shows such as Doctor Who and A for Andromeda, and they are always huge affairs, normally with spinning tapes and flashing lights, but Plato is even more bizarre and amusing, with massive tangles of wires, and a giant pipe with… well, I think it was supposed to be some kind of coolant. That was actually the one area where the designer failed to do a convincing job, because that pipe looks like a gentle breeze would bring it crashing down, or at least break the link. Continue reading

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The Outer Limits: The Brain of Colonel Barham

Outer Limits 1963 titles logo originalHere’s all you need to know about The Brain of Colonel Barham.  Col Barham is a really smart dude, but he’s dying of an incurable disease.  As part of an experiment to colonize Mars, the powers-that-be decide they could remove his brain and put it in a jar, pairing it with a computer, and all could be right in the world, but the brain has other ideas and starts showing just how powerful a mind it is. Continue reading

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