Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Review: Lost 5.6: 316

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They're back.
The first six episodes of Season Five contain a plot that should have been able to stretch over the entire season. The Time-Travel plot was good enough to show us a hell of a lot of mythos while the Temporal Misplacement still provides drama. The modern day story could have been an epic quest, as the Oceanic Six resolved their demons in the outer world and returned to the Island willingly. But, instead, we rush the story and thus, after only six episodes of being off the island, the Oceanic Six finally return.
     In true Lost fashion, the return of the Oceanic Six doesn't necessarily prevent us from seeing all of their story. 316 is Jack-centric, and follows him meeting Eloise Hawking. She tells him that he must replicate the circumstances of 815 as closely as possible, and therefore must make sure that Locke's corpse is carrying something of Jack's father's. Jack at first is driven to drink, but soon he finds a pair of his father's old shoes and puts them on Locke.
      All of the Oceanic Six, bar Aaron and Desmond, are on the plane. Hurley is on the plane for an unknown reason and carries a guitar case that he never had before. Ben has been severely beaten up and has broken his arm. Sayid is under the guidance of a law-enforcer. Jack also discovers that the pilot is Frank Lapidus, the pilot that took them off of the island those years ago. (Or, for us, six episodes ago.) When Ajira flight 316 crashes, a strange thing happens; Jack, Hurley and Kate flash back to the same time as Jin and the rest of the survivors. The rest stay where they are.
     Jack stories are generally uninteresting because Jack is not, and has never been, a compelling character. He represented the Science half of Lost's supposed Science Versus Faith divide, and unlike the Faith side he never really lives up to his side of the bargain. He spends the vast majority of his dramatic moments getting stoned off of his head and none of his other storylines (like the Quadrangle) are of any interest. 316 spent more time looking at the circumstances of the 316 crash around Jack rather than giving the character any depth himself. So he's upset at the death of his father, so what. That's been the same since day one. This leads into a real problem for me, which is that this story has a huge Faith undercurrent that would continue until the unashamedly Christian finale of Season Six. There's even a point where Ben tries to teach Jack a lesson using a parabe from the Bible, one that makes little sense and only adds to my disdain on Lost's general thematic direction.
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"We ain't going to Guam, are we."
     And there we have it. In terms of, "The Present," whatever that means any more, the Oceanic Six are back after only six episodes off. 316 wasn't perfect, and it had a few undertones which uneased me, but it was soldily constructed and portrayed the Oceanic Six's return with some much-needed grace.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: What exactly did Locke do when he left the Island? Find out in The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: Snakedance


Lon (Martin Clunes) is possessed by The Mara.

Doctor Who - Season 20, Story Two - Snakedance

While Kinda was brave and experimental, its plot wasn't necessarily that action-packed. It was certainly very deep and touched upon a lot of themes that Who doesn't look at usually. But, like the Kinda of Deva Loka, Kinda feels a little primitive when compared to its sequel, Snakedance, which formed the second story of the anniversary season. Arranged much more like a regular Who story, Snakedance takes the main themes of Kinda and beefs them up into an exciting, tense piece of science fiction.

     Unusually for the Anniversary season, JNT decided that Kinda needed a sequel and so asked writer Christopher Bailey to return to the series. Now that editor Eric Saward had a much bigger grasp on the series, Bailey's abstract style was channeled into something more fitting the programme's usual setup. Snakedance follows The Doctor and Tegan as they find that The Mara still inhabits Tegan's mind, and has guided them to its home planet of Manussa, where the Federation (very Trek) believe that the Mara was destroyed 500 years prior, and celebrate its destruction decennially. While The Doctor tries to convince the head of the local Museum that the Mara has returned, it manifests fully in Tegan and plots its full return.
     A much frowned upon rumour on Manussa is The Legend of the Return, in which The Mara will re-manifest at one of the anniversary festivals. This intrigues spoiled Prince Lon (a pre-Men Behaving Badly Martin Clunes), until he too is posessed by The Mara's charms. Their efforts revolve around The Great Crystal, which The Doctor realises will focus the mind energy of all those looking at it, allowing a strong mind to conjure energy and matter from pure thought. The Doctor consults with Dojjen, an elder who escaped the city to try and prevent The Mara's return, and upon its manifestation The Doctor is able to break The Mara's hold and kill him once and for all.
The Mara shows off its powers.
     Like Kinda, this is primarily Tegan's story, and Janet Fielding gets a lot more to do as The Mara. The performance is much more toned down than it was in her erotically charged Kinda scenes, but it's still genuinely creepy and The Mara's backstory makes it much more interesting than the seemingly random apperance on Deva Loka made it out to be. Importantly, The Mara feels like it has more of a presence - like the villain's promise of false fears and mental torture, the entire culture that we address in Snakedance has this creature on his mind.
     One thing to really love in Snakedance is the humanity expressed in the characters. There are some camp archetypes, but they stem from very real personalities. Lon, played by Martin Clunes, is despite his camp demeanor, incredibly subtle in his teenage lust for excitement, to the extent that he would not mind being possessed by an evil demon. All of the characters, from the Researcher to a five-minute-wonder of the Fortune Teller.
     Plus, this story is visually awesome. It's remarkable. The lighting is perfect, moody and atmospheric instead of the bright washout of some other Eighties stories. The set design is great, as is the subtle maniulation of film and video to provide us with some great atmospheres. At times I completely forget that the marketplace, reminiscent of Morocco, was in fact a set.
The Mara is finally defeated.
     Snakedance, while maybe not as outwardly ambitious as its predecessor, is still incredibly enjoyable due to great performances and a stellar script. In my little marathon, this is my favourite Five story so far, and this is true for many others. Snakedance takes Kinda and makes it work like a regular story, and does so in a spectacular fashion befitting the anniversary season.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: We begin the Black Guardian Trilogy as we remeet The Brig in Mawdryn Undead. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Review: Being Human 4.4: A Spectre Calls

Kirby arrives from the other side.
Much better. A Spectre Calls didn't, like the previous two weeks, commit the cardinal sin of being boring. In fact, I could see a lot more promise from this week despite my niggling feelings about the series' future. The truth is that Being Human doesn't have a lot of potential left. What it did have left, A Spectre Calls pushed to the max and delivered an episode that, while flawed, was a vast improvement.
      Following on from last week's teaser, ghost Kirby (James Lance) arrived at the house claiming to be a friend of Nina's, as help for the baby Eve. However, our fascade was soon destroyed as we saw Kirby slowly manipulate each member of the household individually, turning them against each other. When Eve gets a temperature, they have to ring a GP and for the sakes of normality Hal and Tom have to pretend to be gay couple. And it's treated with all the sensitivity you'd expect from a BBC3 comedy. Bad form, Being Human, bad form. Soon Kirby's efforts escalate; he drives Tom off in a fit of adolescent anger, sets-up Hal as an uncontrollable monster and then manages to vanquish Annie by reducing her self-esteem to the point where she simply fizzles out.
     In the vampire storyline, Hal investigated newspaper claims that the decoy killer in the Box Tunnel 20 case, Jason Healy, had human blood in his system, tracking them down to a coroner being harassed by vampires. After Tom had been arrested for beating up a vampire, Cutler used CCTV footage to break him out, before killing the coroner to stop her from talking. Tom and Hal returned to the house, where Kirby gave his (lampshaded) expository speech: he was a 70s serial killer who would befriend children and then murder their mothers. He came to kill Eve on the orders of The Woman, who makes another TV appearance. Through the power of Deus Ex Machina, Annie's power was strong enough to return from being ghost-dead and destroy Kirby once and for all.
Kirby manipulates Tom.
     James Lance's Kirby was incredibly skilled in his intense and unrelenting creepiness, often appearing like one of David Walliams' deranged Little Britain caricatures. He was so creepy, in fact, that I didn't see why his character worked. I knew there was something wrong with him from the moment I saw him; the voice, the demeanor - the serial-killer glasses. This is a man whose entire career relies on seducing women, and he's so unsettling that you can't see him being invited into someone's home let alone being there long enough to murder them. Also, as Annie notes, this is not her first relationship, and, as she was the ability to read people's intentions via their auras, she should have seen this coming. What's more, his manipulation feels a little limp because these people don't need a lot to turn against one another. This plot type usually relies on the manipulation of people's idiosyncracies to see them wrenched from each other; at the moment they aren't truely together.
     I was glad that we finally got another wink to the main storyline, but that was balanced very nicely with the development of the main characters. I suppose the reason why there were so many one-off characters in Being Human's past is because the premise requires them to be there. So while I saw that A Spectre Calls did fall back on an old formula, it was only to strentgthen the characters to a point where they can fly on their own merits. At this half-way mark, things are slowly beginning to pick up for Being Human Round Two. And I'm enjoying it.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Oh dear god, it's Craig Roberts. Bugger off.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Review: Pramface 1.1 and White Van Man 2.1

So it happens that there are two series of comedies, aimed at my age range, premiering on BBC Three tonight. Might as well review them.

As lame as its advertising? No, but it comes close.
Pramface -1.1: "Like Narnia But Sexy"

I hate the Inbetweeners. I detest it. It's juvenile to the extreme, and paints an extremly negative perception of British youth that, as a member of said demographic, I find as distorted as Kevin and Perry. I had hoped that Pramface, with its excellent cast, would avoid the trap that writers for the teenage demographic do and not fall into this juvenile stupidity. And, like usual when I describe my hopes and dreams, they failed spectacularly. It has the potential to be something good, but Pramface fell into so many stereotypes and clich├ęs that it felt, at times, unbearable.
     After completing his final exam of Year 11, naive Jamie Prince (Sean Michael Verey) was led by his friend Mike (Dylan Edwards) to crash a party, with the intent to lose their virginity - against their friend Beth's (the wonderful Yasmin Paige, who is the only sympathetic character) advice. Meanwhile, posh girl Laura Derbyshire (Scarlett Alice Johnson) escaped from her grounding to attend the party, where she got spectacularly drunk. Beth arrived at the party in time to conveniently get trapped in a room while drunk Laura seduced and bonked Jamie. The next morning Jamie leaves his number and we fastforward six weeks, where Laura finds out that she is pregnant. Upon meeting him, she is shocked is to find out that he is only 16.
      All the characters were pretty much blank caricatures. Jamie showed that he was.. pleasant, but as a protagonist he wasn't very strong. His friend Mike was almost an exact copy of Misfits' Nathan, except with less wit and charm. There were good turns by Laura's parents, played by Angus Deayton and Anna Chancellor, but their segments were painfully short. The only character that I felt actually worked was Yasmin Paige's Beth, who through some awful writing was turned into this incredibly powerful sympathetic figure even when she was being a stereotype of morally-concerned youth.
     There were a few giggles now and then from Pramface, but for me it is fundamentally problematic because of its attitude towards its audience. BBC Three usually avoids ripping off other shows, and this felt like its inspiration was ripped straight from Channel Four - and not in any of the good ways. The potential is clearly there, but I need a lot more before I'll love Pramface as I do BBC Three's other output.

Emma Keeley and Liz Brown
The Girls have a more prominent role in this series.
White Van Man - 2.1: "Charity"

White Van Man is a comedy series written by stand-up comedian Adrian Poynton, following the comedic adventures of straight-man handyman Will Mellor and his friends Joel Fry, Georgia Moffet and Naomi Bentley. Despite my low expectations, the first series proved to be incredibly good and funny in a way that British TV hasn't seen in a long time. The series excells from its quaint character comedy blended against the absurdity of modern life, and parodying some of the stereotypes associated with handymen.
     After an organisational fuck-up, Ollie (Will Mellor) is left with the task of fixing up a house due to be occupied by the Mayor and a group of orphans. While Ollie tries to find a way to afford the renovations, facing bureaucracy along the way, he discovers that assistant Darren (Joel Fry) has maxed out his credit card. Ollie's love interest, ambitious small-time businesswoman Emma (Georgia Moffat) accidentally hires envious friend Liz (Naomi Bentley). The two end up in compeition over tips, as Ollie is forced to sell his father's old possessions. Stretched, they find their father's old canalboat and decide to sell that. Ollie's dad Tony (Clive Mantle) returns off of Holiday and is furious, going out of his way to try and get the boat back. Emma and Liz go to the Home and start fighting. Ollie, discovering that they've wrecked the home, is incredibly angry to the point of despair. He returns on the day of the opening to find that his embarrassed friends have done the work for him overnight.
     The dynamic between the central handymen is fundamentally unchanged between the series, with Will Mellor as the good-natured but often mis-led straightman Ollie and Trollied's Joel Fry as nigh-insane assistant Darren. The new dynamic between Emma and Liz was the most interesting addition to the format, with them fighting over Ollie, but it provided the episode's final reveal that much more bang. Charity ended up being a brilliant start to the second series, as hilarious and heartwarming as it ever was.

Thanks.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Review: Lost 5.5: This Place is Death

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Jin doesn't want Sun to return.
Jin and Sun are dull. So dull, in fact, that the writers had to rip them apart to provide any interesting story for them, and even that didn't work - they died the moment they met up again. This has irritated me since they did so near the end of Season Six, and so seeing this earlier episode doesn't really help me. This Place Is Death's only draw, really, is the exploration of Danielle Rousseau's history on the Island, something that's been boiling away since the sixth ever episode.
     In 1988, Jin found himself with Danielle Rousseau and her expedition, having crashed on the island in a storm. Jin is unable to help as he witnesses the expedition slowly picked off by The Smoke Monster. After a time-flash, we see that all of the stories Rousseau told was true; she believed that her expedition had caught A Sickness, and so executed the rest of her team. Melissa Farman is great as Young Rousseau, her character believably moving from cautious optimism to deap-seated paranoia. The events in this story would come to be much more important in Season Six. Jin goes through another time-flash as he runs from Rousseau, and ends up with the rest of the crew left on the Island. This is also a strong episode for Rebecca Mader, whose character Charlotte only seems to be useful at translating Korean. Her character's illness causes her to die, and her time-confused ramblings do provide her with her best performance in the series.
    After Charlotte's death, the team finally make it to The Orchid, and John travels down a Well to get to the Donkey Wheel that will set the Island back on a straight passage of time. Here he meets Christian Shepard (John Terry, Of Mice and Men) who often appears at these times. I've seen Season Six, and so I know that Sheperd is in fact The Smoke Monster, the embodiment of all evil. I think that his speech is so much more interesting in context; on the surface, it appears that Sheperd is encouraging Locke to bring back the Oceanic Six because that's what needs to happen, but from a Season Six perspective we can tell that Sheperd wants to bring back The Candidates (of which every member of the Oceanic Six is) so he can kill them.
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THIS PLACE, IS DEATH!
      The present timeline is excruciatingly boring here, and it only feels worse because of the fact that it's all happening too soon. Here Ben gathered together the survivors that he could; only Jack and Sun eventually going with him, and took them to Eloise Hawking, who has discovered a way to return to The Island. This is a plotline that by rights should envelop an entire season's worth of storyline, and yet it's so painfully condensed into six or so episodes.
     This Place Is Death was a Jin and Sun episode that, for a lot of its time, forgot Jin and Sun. It interested on a variety of levels, and saw some great turns by Charlotte and Daniel, but the two characters in question didn't really make any impression. However, out of all things, I can say that Lost is the only show that can make me care about the death of a character as whiny and irritating as Charlotte Lewis.

Thanks.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: Arc of Infinity

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Commander Maxil investigates Omega's return.
Doctor Who - Season 20, Story One - Arc of Infinity

Time-Lash was a flawed end to a brilliant season, but there was some hope. The 20th Anniversary season promised to be the best yet, and it would start with that great pedigree - a Gallifrey story. The story would also see the return of ancient Time Lord Omega, who was part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations in the Petwee Era. Arc Of Infinity does not live up to expectations, but it has a few perks here or there that make it somewhat fun.
     The Doctor and Nyssa are getting along quite nicely, having completely abandoned Tegan on Earth in the previous serial. However, an anti-matter being is seen to interupt two guards on Gallifrey, and then it enters the TARDIS and binds with The Doctor. The Time Lords bring The Doctor back to his home planet, where he is to be killed to prevent the antimatter being from entering our Universe. This is overseen by the members of the high council, including Borusa (Leonard Sachs), Hedin (Batman's Alfred, Michael Gough), the Castellan (Paul Jerricho) and Commander Maxil (later Doctor, Colin Baker). Meanwhile, Tegan's cousin Colin has been kidnapped in Amsterdam, and so she comes across to investigate his disappearance. Tegan and her friend are abducted by the antimatter creature, who is revealed to be Omega. Omega takes control of Gallifrey's organisation (damn, these guys are pushovers), but The Doctor manages to escape and tracks Omega down in Amsterdam. Omega is expelled back to this Anti-matter dimension and Tegan rejoins the TARDIS crew.
    The story, while very pretty, really didn't require its Amsterdam setting and it does nothing to distract from the rest of the scenario. The Omega costume is ok, but the costume of his servant, the Ergon, is absolutely ridiculous; Colin Baker on the commentary describes him as an "anorexic chicken". The worst special effect in the serial, by far, is this story's interpretation of The Matrix, which is a shimmery picture of The Master's trap from Castrovalva with green-screened images of the actors balancing on barstools. If the effect was brief it could have been ignored, but The Doctor spends almost the entirety of the third episode in this scenario.
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This is all The Doctor does for an entire episode.
     Leonard Sachs' Borusa has neither the wit and charm of the previous two incarnations nor the bitter ruthlessness of his successor. Sachs is a great actor, but he doesn't do anything here. Michael Gough, having been in Doctor Who, does bring an impassioned performance. Of interest in particular to me is Colin Baker, who played my second-favourite Doctor. This isn't really his best performance, mainly because he was forced into a Gallifreyan guard's costume and made to work with Paul Jerricho, who he felt always bossed him around. One of the more interesting performances in the story is from Peter Davison, who gets to also play Omega in the last episode.
     Something I do love about Arc of Infinity though is that because writer Johnny Birne was the one who created her, this story is perfect for companion Nyssa, who finally gets time alone with Five. Their scenes together show a natural chemistry absent from Tegan or Adric, and her actions later in the story show naturalistic character development unlike anything this era really had to offer. Plus, Tegan at least wants to travel with The Doctor this time, instead of being constantly wanting to leave. 
     The Arc of Infinity is let down by a lazy script and really, really bad effects. The idea of bringing back an old foe for the 20th Anniversary was a noble one, but it wasn't executed well and it wasn't the best start to what had promised to be a good season. It's not as mercilessly shoddy as Time-Flight, but it didn't live up to any of its expectations. There are, however, a few quirks in characterisation that prevent Arc of Infinity from being a total waste of time, and that's why I have a little bit of fondness for it.

Thanks.

NEXT TIME: Martin Clunes, Martin Clunes.... it's Snakedance.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Review: Being Human 4.3: The Graveyard Shift

Hal and Tom fight alongside one another.
(And Michaela.)
It feels like Being Human has reverted to some form of embryonic stage in its development. The chemistry between the three main leads is getting there, but it still fails to acheive the same manner of comic timing and charm that the original trio got back in the third episode. There's also a sense that the series has stalled rather dramatically. Time will tell whether it's the fault of the driver or whether it's just out of gas. The episode started to get interesting by the end, but it was too little too late.
     Despite his fear that he would be unable to control himself, Annie and Tom forced Hal to get a job in the local greasy spoon where Tom works. They banter, and form a trusting friendship. Vampire honcho Fergus in in awe of Hal's return, and inadvertantly tells him about a raid on the greasy spoon the next day. He tells Hal to step aside and let them kill Tom. Hal, becoming friends with Tom over a strange emo girl called Micheala, instead protects him and they escape with Michaela back to the House.
     Meanwhile, Annie's lack of ability to trust her boys (who she sees as lodgers) saw her visit vampire-recorder Regus (Mark Williams, being a bit more sad and desperate), who had previously arrived at their door concerned to discover that the War Child was still in Barry. He makes Annie share her sexual experiences from memory in exchange for vital information, which didn't really sit right. He informs her of someone coming to take the Child, and says they have to escape. She ignores his request at first, and then invites him back to the House to start packing. When the boys return home, Hal is offered the leadership of the Barry Vampire coven by Fergus, but Hal just stakes him. After a battle, Michaela is resurrected as a vampire and goes off to be Regus' girlfriend, while Annie finally accepts her boys as part of a familial unit.
Oh wow, I hate you. So much.
     Usually I love character work, but this was just boring for the first 45 minutes. The character of Michaela could have been a fun subversion of several stereotypes associated with the genre. Instead, she's an irritating caricature who only serves to make the episode's more boring sequences nigh-unbearable. I think that her jokingly-managed transformation into a vampire took away from the series greatly; in Series One these issues were incredibly severe and treated as the height of drama. Here we get to see an incredibly annoying woman get to live forever.
     This ties into something that's distressing me about Series Four of being human. You can forgive it for not having the same chemistry as before, or the same temperment, but it doesn't know what it's doing. There's no point to anything, it's all just loose scraps picked up off the cutting room floor. The end of the episode saw the arrival of a campy ghost from the Afterlife. The one thing this series does not need right now is more characters. 
     The Graveyeard shift had a few moments of promise, and it seemed wary of its characters issues. But it didn't exercise their gradual reconciliation in an interesting way, and in the end it fell into farce. Being Human better book up its ideas if it hopes to reach the potential promised by the premiere, and it needs to do that before the series collapses under the weight of its own expectations.

Thanks.

Monday, 13 February 2012

News: February Break 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Or, at least, tomorrow. I'm probably going on a break for the week. When I come back, expect more Doctor Who Classic Season 20 and Lost.

Thanks.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Review: Being Human 4.2: Being Human 1955

Annie holds a "ceremony".
So we need a Vampire/Werewolf/Ghost dynamic, but we're currently stuck with one incomplete group and a full group half-way across the country. Being Human 1955 was, in short, an exercise in character manoeuvering - moving our characters into the right configuration so that the series can adopt some form of "standard". Unfortunately this meant that unlike last week, the episode was a lot more sedate, and tried to focus its lense on the characters - with various degrees of success.
      In the South, the trio of vampire Hal, aged werewolf Leo and 50s ghost Pearl heard an after-life radio message from The Woman (whom I refered to as "Future Eve" last week) telling them to head up to Bristol and find the Messiah. Despite their concerns, Pearl and Hal bow to Leo's wish to follow the message and they pop up to Annie and Tom. Tom and Hal share immediate animosity, even when they meet a shopkeeper who tries to kill them. Despite Annie's best attempts to "harness" Eve's messiahhood, Leo is still dying. It becomes apparent that Pearl loves Leo and the feeling is mutual, and both are able to pass on when they admit this to one another. Losing Leo and Pearl drives the usually controlled Hal into trying to kill Eve and later the shopkeeper. Tom stops him in time, and the three settle into an uneasy friendship. Meanwhile, Fergus asserts his authority over Cutter and discovers Hal's presence.
     Despite how well these characters are played, these characters and relationships are a little worn for my liking. Legendary Vampire who's fighting personal demons? Check. Animosity between Vampire and Werewolf? Check. The relationship between Leo and Pearl felt excruciatingly contrived - there was no real depth to it, just an attempt to get them out of the way as soon as possible. The fact that very little actually happened didn't make it any easier, and I really expected these characters to be phenomenal. They weren't.
Leo and Pearl love one another.
     I'm getting worried about Eve and this series' overall arc already. The episode didn't touch upon it all, aside from the Woman (who I deeply suspect is not Future Eve, but who knows?) appearing on a TV and on the radio. That was a far more fascinating part of the story, and I would love to have the Woman's character developed properly, and not just have her dip in now and then. But this is Being Human, and that's exactly what she's going to do. I just hope, really deep hope, that this will get better.
     Being Human 1955 tried to be a focussed character piece, but instead of developing the characters from the 1955 trio, it felt like a lazy way of reasserting the usual formula. It felt stagnant at times, and aside from a few decent monologues it didn't cover any ground that Being Human had ever fallen shy of. It wasn't messy or even boring, but it felt like one long retread of everything the show's already done. And that's not good form.

Thanks.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Overview: Doctor Who Classic: Season 19

As part of my Five marathon, at the end of each season in Five's era I'll examine the characterisations of the main TARDIS crew. You could also see these as similar to my Character sheets. Season 19 was a brave new time for Who, as Davison's Doctor had to follow on from the immensely popular Tom Baker, as well as fighting with a Tardis that had far too many companions. Why only the characters? Well, that's all I care about.

The major parts of Davison's cricket-loving
persona are found in this season.
Five (Peter Davison) - Tristan but brave
(All Season)


He was fresh. Energetic. After the bitterness of Tom's final years, Davison was a breath of fresh air for a production team used to working with a lead actor more experienced than themselves. The character itself was a bold change for Doctor Who; a precursor of sorts to the 10th and 11th Doctors. Five was by the far the youngest Doctor that we'd ever seen.
      In Season 19, Davison's portrayl does draw a lot from his previous work on All Creatures Great And Small. In a now-famous interview before the season aired, one young fan asked that Five's personality be "Tristan, but brave." Such is inevitable after Davison's long time on All Creatures, and one of the major changes between Five and Four is that while Baker could command authority instantly, Five is very much the wanderer who has to work diplomatically to gain people's trust.
     Fundamentally speaking, this first season is the one in which Five plays less of an active role in the story's resolution. Instead, his character is given a lot of emotional beef to deal with - Adric's death especially played for tears. If anything can be said, it's that Davison certainly suits it better than any that had come before.

Adric whined incessantly and then died quietly.
Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) - Whine whine
(From Castrovalva to Earthshock)

Adric. Where to begin? The character was introduced in the previous season as part of JNT's preparation for the regeneration. Let's just say that it wasn't the best choice. Adric is characterised by his whiny, arrogant slip of a personality. He assumes authority and superiority in every given situation regardless of tact or convenience.  
     Despite his many list of characterisation crimes, he really hits his irritance peak in Four to Doomsday, in which he is sexist and idiotic enough to believe that the megalomaniac Monarch has benevolent intentions for humanity. Despite the fact that he only has four more stories left, he doesn't really annoy me in any of them, shy of Earthshock itself.
      Earthshock is not one of my favourite stories. It's tacky, and its only real decent writing is on the first episode. However, to its credit, it really is Doctor Who's last surprise. The Cybermen, despite their reintroduction, aren't the most important part of the story - Adric, and his belated demise, is the story's only redeeming feature.

Nyssa never changed out of her regal
gear until the next season.
Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) - "The only one who wants to be there."
(All Season)

Nyssa of Traken was never intended to be here. Created by Johnny Bryne for The Keeper of Traken in the previous season, Nyssa was a bio-mechanist from the planet Traken -  a planet that was destroyed by the Master in Logopolis. She was only written into Logopolis and then the series when JNT was impressed by her performance. Despite this, Peter Davison fought with JNT to prevent him killing her in Earthshock, leading to Adric's demise instead. His reasons are immediately clear.
       Wheras the other two companions can be irritatingly in-your-face, Nyssa is the exact opposite. She's an intellectual, like The Doctor, and the only one of the three actually capable of understanding his technobabble. Because of the fact that she was a brave, intelligent woman, she of course got very little to do. The production team needed companions that could easily get into trouble, and for Nyssa that just wasn't logical. Because of this, she spends a criminally long amount of time in the Tardis, especially so in brilliant stories like Kinda in which she was randomly comatose.
    Unfortunately Nyssa doesn't get a hell of a lot of character development in Season 19, which is reserved for the next season. However, she does get some lovely character work in my favourite story of the season, Black Orchid, where her character is starkly opposed to her doppelganger Ann Talbot. Nyssa wouldn't get this sort of character work again until she leaves.

Tegan (Janet Fielding) - Mouth on Legs
(All Season, supposedly leaves at the end.)

Tegan's character was a twofold creation. She was mainly there to make the show popular with Australian viewers, but a popular tale told by Davison reveals that she was an airline hostess soley to get free flights on Quantus Airlines. Fundamentally speaking, Tegan never wanted to be there, and this entire season is spent trying to get back to Heathrow 1981. In fact, they finally make it in the season's final serial, Time-Flight. The results, if you remember from Monday, weren't all that pleasant.
     Luckily, despite all of her moaning and groaning and being generally all-round useless, Tegan does get a decent story in the form of Kinda. Her best stuff is in the first two episodes, which are a complex philosophical exploration of the self. The Mara stories are the only time that Tegan won't be irritating for the average viewer, and Kinda is certainly the more powerful of the two.
      The one thing you have to notice about Tegan is that she is the Jamie to Davison's Doctor. She is one of the longest running companions in the series' history, and her presence oft defines Five's era. If I'm perfectly honest, I don't know why. Tegan didn't want to be there, and we shared her thoughts exactly.

Thanks.