Transformers Vs Terminator #1 Review

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Transformers Vs Terminator #1

Review by Paul Bowle

Skynet Vs Cyberton in Transformers Vs Terminator #1, an epic new crossover from IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics, where a lone Terminator is sent to 1984 to save Earth from a terrifying future!

This new mini-comic book series sees the Terminator going head to head with the Decepticons, to escape annihilation in the future, and potentially team up with Sarah Conner and the Autobots in the first part of Enemy of my Enemy. The creative writing talents of David Mariotte, Tom Waltz and John Barber have ingeniously spliced established legacies with a time-twisting storyline that effectively turns both franchises on their heads.

From the ravaged future of Los Angeles 2029, its clear Skynet and the Autobots have fallen before the might of the Decepticons. Fortunately Skynet (now the final remnants of the resistance), has managed to locate the last vat grown epidermal T-800 and sent him back in time to 1984. It doesn’t take long for the T-800’s path to cross Sara Conner’s, where the young waitress quickly becomes embroiled in his mission to reach Mount ST. Hilary, and alter future events by terminating the Cybertronians that have crash landed there.

The narrative and pacing were sound enough to make this first issue of Transformers Vs Terminator engaging enough. Some might baulk at the characterisation and depiction of Sarah Conner in this issue though. Her role and purpose may have been deemed irrelevant by Skynet, but there are still glimmers of the powerful warrior she was originally destined to become, and I have a feeling we will still see Sarah Conner become a force to be reckoned with as this mini-series progresses. The T-800 here is a bit of an oddity, he’s coldly logical one moment, and grinning with glee the next. Lots of familiar Easter eggs from the Terminator franchise pepper the narrative too. However, I found the scenes in the future far more engrossing than the somewhat pedestrian plotting as events unfolded in the present, and the issue felt a little disjointed in that respect as a result.

Alex Milne’s artwork is very good, along with the colors by David Garcia Cruz, and there’s some impressively staged sequences that positively leap out at you. Lots of familiar Autobot characters now litter the war torn battlefield of the future, and Skynets last stand in their stronghold against the advancing Decepticons is also brilliantly realised. I would have loved to seen more of the giant T-8000 in action here against the Decepticons, so it was a shame we only got a fleeting glimpse of it lumbering into battle. The Terminators have a mix of the Genisys / Dark Fate design of the T-800 Endoskeleton about them, which also looks really good. Some of the scenes set in 1984 do look a little rough around the edges in places, although I think that’s more to the choices of panel layout here, the rendition of the waitress Sarah Conner is spot on though, and the contrast between the future versions of the Decepticons and the more classic Transformers seen in this issue are also especially striking.

IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics uniting to bring their unique takes on the Transformers and Terminator franchises together is a clear no-brainer, in fact it makes you wonder why its taken so long for them to get around to it. I’ve always been a big fan of Dark Horse’s Terminator comics and IDW’s Transformers, so it’s great to finally see them team-up like this. The creative team has a long association with Transformers comics, but they’ve also cleverly incorporated the Terminator saga to weave a story where the T-800 travels back in time to wipe out the Cybertornians before they can jeopardise the future, whilst skilfully splicing the mythos of both properties in the process. Although Transformers Vs Terminator #1 wasn’t quite the mind-blowing start that I’d hoped for with the mini-series, the intriguing premise has me hooked, and if – like me – you are a fan of either franchise you’ll still find plenty to enjoy here as this epic clash between Skynet and Cybertron gets underway!

Publisher: IDW

Story By: David Mariotte, Tom Waltz, John Barber

Written by: David Mariotte and John Barber

Art: Alex Milne, Colors: David Garcia Cruz

Letters & Design: Jake M. Wood, Cover A: Gavin Fullerton

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Batman #91 Review

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Batman #91

Review by Paul Bowler

The Dark Knight squares off against Deathstroke in Batman #91 as the mysterious Designer’s grand plan begins to overwhelm Gotham. In order to help Batman save the city Catwoman will have to undertake the greatest heist in Gotham’s history. However, with Joker, Penguin and Riddler involved, and with a team of assassins on the loose Catwoman must reluctantly team-up with Harley Quinn while Batman confronts Deathstroke alone…

Writer James Tynion IV gathers numerous plot threads together in Their Dark Designs Part 6, as the pieces of the Designer’s scheme woven from the betrayal of the major players of Gotham’s nefarious Rogues Gallery of villains begins to unfold. Batman #91 starts chillingly enough. Joker has a tale to tell, one where he’s naturally the star of the show of course. It’s a glorious retelling of the Joker’s, Riddler’s, Pernguin’s, and Catwoman’s past encounter with the Designer from last issues flashback to events at Tartarus House, and its frighteningly relayed to the Joker’s captive audience. Add an intriguing phone call, together with the fact that the Joker War storyline is rapidly approaching, and this interlude with Joker clearly lays the groundwork for even darker things to come.

After reigning in Harley Quinn following her brief stint on drone duty, the primary focus of the issue is Batman’s high-octane chase and showdown with Deathstroke, Once again Tynion’s brings some superb characterisation to the fore here as Batman confronts Deathstroke with the Nightclimber, highlighting some striking parallels between them as Batman strives to make his case for saving Gotham City. Likewise, Catwoman and Harley Quinn are thrown together again and have to fight their way out of trouble. There’s a great dynamic between them too which leads to some hilarious asides and observations from Harley Quinn on the whole Bat-Cat relationship!

Batman #91’s artwork is shared between Rafael Albuquerque, Jorge Jimenez, and Carlo Pagulayan. Each of their distinctive artistic styles is perfectly suited to the trio of plot lines they’ve been allotted to render. The varying styles overlap nicely and don’t jar as a result, action sequences flow seamlessly alongside the more character driven moments, and the colors by Tomeu Morey accentuates the dark, brooding atmosphere of the issue perfectly.

Following Batman’s unexpected alliance with a deadly foe, everything builds to an exciting cliff-hanger as another player steps into the fray to take their turn in the Designer’s game. Although the story is starting to feel a little conventional with yet another mysterious villain seemingly knowing the Dark Knight’s every move, Tynion’s excellent writing keeps things engaging enough, the art is also very good, and the action-adventure tone ensures this is another exciting issue.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer James Tynion IV /

Art: Rafael Albuquerque, Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, and Danny Miki

Colors: Tomeu Morey / Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Jimenez and Morey

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

X-Men #8 Review

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X-Men #8

Review by Paul Bowler

A deadly threat crashes to Earth in X-Men #8, brining peril to the Mutant nation of Krakoa from the farthest reaches of Shi’ar space. The New Mutants have returned from their intergalactic adventures, unwittingly brining trouble home with them, sparking conflict involving the Brood, the Shi’ar Empire, the Starjammers, and the Imperial Guard!

From the dawn of a new day on the island of Krakoa, to the chilling scenes on the fringe of Shi’ar space, and Cyclops and Havoc finding their brother Vulcan has been partying a little too hard at their lunar homestead writer Jonathan Hickman implements a slight gear shift in the overall narrative of this new X-Men series to propel the New Mutants and the X-Men into a cosmic spanning saga. With the defence of Krakoa at stake as the Brood attack, searching for the King Egg the New Mutants brought back to Earth, the Summers brothers hatch a plan to use the said egg to lead the oncoming Brood horde away into space via a Shi’ar stargate.

The action is frenetic and well rendered by Mahmud Asrar, especially the opening moments where the parasitic Brood are depicted swarming in space, initial scenes with Cyclops and Magik coordinating the defence of Krakoa are also excitingly dynamic, and colorist Leinil Francis employs a rich palette of tones and hues that nicely accentuates the action.

Considering how dramatically the Dawn of X relaunch of the X-Men range has evolved in recent issues, with the new Mutant nation of Krakoa developing its own rituals and customs, resurrection protocols, the brutality of the Crucible, and the X-Men’s plan to prevent the creation of the super Mutant killing robot, Nimrod, on the Orchis space station orbiting the sun, along with Professor X’s rather unsettling demeanour (especially the coercive manipulation of Mystique in their attempt to achieve this goal), X-Men #8 feels like a distraction – albeit an exciting one – from the core narrative Jonathan Hickman has built since the game changing events of House of X and Power of X.

For me Jonathan Hickman’s flagship X-Men book remains the pinnacle in terms of quality and good storytelling. Hickman may be acting as a kind of show runner for the entire range of X-Men comics now, but few of the other X-titles that Marvel has been churning out have really grabbed me, save for X-Force and Wolverine by Benjamin Percy. So, if you only have time for one X-Book, I’d make it Hickman’s X-Men, it was bit of a slow burn at first, but has proved well worth sticking with. The X-Men don’t necessarily feel like heroes anymore either, they are now one united Mutant nation on the living island of Krakoa, and the X-Men are certainly making the rest of the world sit up and take notice in a way that’s never happened before in the history of the X-Men. Sure, I miss the days where the X-Men felt more like a crazy mutant soap opera, but I really like how Hickman is doing something so fresh, different and innovative with X-Men right now.

In closing, X-Men #8 juggles a number of plot lines, with the Cyclops, Havok and Vulcan jetting off into space, the Starjamers runing into trouble with a Kree Accuser, and Gladiator and the Imperial Guard finding a new target to hunt. Jonathan Hickman continues to deliver engaging storylines and strong characterisation on every level, the Broods return and epic scale of the issue is impressively realised by Mahmud Asrar’s artwork, and the overall tone of the issue energetically paced. X-Men #8 might leave us chomping at the bit as wider issues are put to one side momentarily, but this unexpected jaunt into space makes for an action-packed diversion nevertheless, and the return of the Brood always provides a challenging threat for the X-Men to contend with.

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Jonathan Hickman / Artist Mahmud Asrar

Colorist: Leinil Francis Yu / Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

 

Superman #21 Review

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Superman #21

Review by Paul Bowler

Mongul Vs the Man of Steel in Superman #21 as the fate of the United Planets hangs in the balance! Supeman faces a devastating showdown with Mongul as the greatest powers of the galaxy look on, Mongul has already fractured their alliance, and if Superman fails to stop him now the United Planets will be over before its even begun…

Superman #21 features a battle royal of sorts as The Truth Part 4 gets underway. On the distant planet Gorfo, Superman confronts Mongul while the forces of the United Planets turn against each other – which has been Mongul’s plan all along! The conflict is truly epic in scope, writer Brian Michael Bendis diligently juggles the big action set-pieces as Superman and Mongul slug it out, while back on Earth the fallout from Superman revealing his secret identity as Clark Kent to the whole world and his presumption to speak for Earth in matters concerning the United Planets continues to sow some potentially far reaching repercussions for the Man of Steel. A fact which is brought sharply into focus where, back on Earth, Lois is confronted by Bethany Snow about her husband’s recent off-world announcement to the United Planets that has subsequently been spun by the media as Superman naming himself as the self proclaimed King of Earth.

Now, I’ve certainly had some issues with the changes Bendis made when he took over writing Superman, namely how he all but reconted virtually everything built up during Peter Tomasi’s excellent run (especially the move that aged Jon Kent up to a teenager during the early days of Bendis’ current tenure), so much so that I quickly stopped reading Superman and Action Comics a while back, however the crossover with Supergirl and the launch of the new Legion of Superheroes got me reading Superman again. I enjoyed this storyline, mainly because it brought the Legion back into the DCU again. But when Bendis went on to have Superman reveal his secret identity as Clark Kent I wasn’t overly impressed. Superman’s life as Clark Kent is an intrinsic, key aspect to the legacy of Superman, and to throw it away in such a banal manner felt almost derogatory to the character – although I suppose one could also argue that in this modern era of comic books the concept of superheroes realistically having and maintaining secret identities is perhaps almost a superfluous concept itself now as well?

In terms of its artwork, though, this issue cannot be faulted in any way. Superman #21 is a blockbusting visual spectacle, with pencils by Ivan Reis, inks by Joe Prado and Oclair Albert and colors by Alex Sinclair. The sheer scale of Superman’s battle with Mongul unfolds via a breathtaking montage of two-page spreads. Their combat is a brutal, no holds barred, earth shattering smack down, and the art team have certainly pulled out all the stops to make this a truly spectacular looking issue of Superman from DC Comics.

As the issue winds down at a surprisingly rapid pace the aftermath of the battle gives everyone concerned some much needed time to ponder over recent events. With the Justice League on hand to help with the clean up, Superman heads home to face the “hurricane” media storm he’s created back on Earth, but the dual cliff-hanger shows there’s something nasty waiting in orbit for Superman and Lois Lane’s day is about to go from bad to worse!

Superman #21 is about as action packed an issue as you could wish for. Seeing the Man of Steel squaring off against Mongul is always a great event. However, it all feels a bit overshadowed by how Bendis undermines the plot with niggling inconsistencies, and emotional beats that fall flat. The way the fledgling United Planets will apparently carry on regardless does seem a tad contrived, especially considering the discourse Mongul’s attack instigated, Clark’s self-righteous view of himself as Earth’s only representative for the United Planets also makes me a little uncomfortable, and the ambush journalism Lois endures in this issue seems little more than a curious afterthought by Bendis at this stage.

Whilst I came back to this title for the relaunch of the Legion of Superheroes, I was willing to give Bendis’ run on Superman another go despite previously finding it to be very hit and miss, but this and the previous few issues of The Truth storyline have seriously tried my patience. Superman #21 is an adequate issue at best. Art wise, Superman is still a great looking book, no question about it, but story wise, unless you are a die hard fan of Bendis’ work there’s sadly little I can find to recommend about reading Superman anymore these days.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Pencils: Ivan Reis

Inks: Joe Prado and Oclair Albert

Colors: Alex Sinclair / Letters: Dave Sharpe

Cover / Ivan Reis, Jo Prado, Alex Sinclair

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

 

Doctor Who The Timeless Children Review

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Doctor Who The Timeless Children

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Cyber-Army is on the march in the emotional and epic Doctor Who series finale, The Timeless Children. With the last few survivors of the human race being mercilessly hunted down by the Cybermen, Graham, Yaz and Ryan must fight to survive the horror and carnage unfolding around them. Some civilisations will fall, while other with rise, new and reborn! Secrets, lies and unexpected truths will be revealed as battles rage. Even the Master has returned to wreak chaos! The Doctor is trapped, alone, and in the aftermath of the trials still to come nothing will ever be quite the same again for the Time Lord and her companions…

The Timeless Children, written by Doctor Who show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by James Magnus Stone, provides a stellar conclusion to this two-part series finale as events in Series 12 are brought full circle.

Following an upbeat, if somewhat underwhelming first series in 2018, Jodie Whittaker’s era of Doctor Who has really come into its own during Series 12, brining a wealth of exciting adventures and unexpected plot twists – with the brilliant reveal of Sacha Dhawan as the Master, a surprise return for fan-favourite Captain Jack Harkness (John Barroman), the resurgence of the Cybermen, and even a new incarnation of the Doctor played by Jo Martin. Some episodes have still been a bit preachy on occasion, but overall Series 12 has seen a big improvement in the quality of the stories and characterisation – with emphasis on a more mysterious, darker tone.

Ascension of the Cybermen saw the Cybermen back in force and hell bent on wiping out the last remnants of humanity. Now in the Timeless Children the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) must confront the Master (Sacha Dhawan) in the ruins of Gallifrey, while Ryan (Tosin Coyle) and Ethan (Steve Toussaint) form a strategy with Ko Shamus (Ian McElhinney) to fight the Cyber-Death-Squads sent to hunt them down on the planet where the threshold of the boundary leading to Gallifrey resides, as Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ravio (Julie Graham) and the surviving human refugees face the Lone Cyberman’s, Ashad (Patrick OKane), newly awakened army of unstoppable Cyber Warriors back on board the Cyber-War Carrier.

The Timeless Children is an epic and emotional 65 minute finale that draws together several key narrative threads, most notably the mystery of the Timeless Child – first mentioned way back in The Ghost Monument (2018) – which is finally revealed, the significance of the flashbacks to 20th century Ireland involving the seemingly immortal Brendan (Evan McCabe) also gradually becomes clear, and even Jo Martin’s role as the hitherto previously unknown version of the Doctor provides yet more mystery waiting in the wings to be revealed over the course of this episode.

One of the biggest highlights in The Timeless Children through is the powerful confrontations between the Doctor and her arch nemesis, The Master. Jodie Whittaker and Sacha Dhawan are magnificent in these scenes, especially once the Master sets about challenging the Doctor while she’s simultaneously trapped inside a paralysing field in the Citadel of Gallifrey and the Matrix, where the shocking reality that everything the Doctor has ever believe in gets torn down before her eyes and exposed as a lie – and the shocking truth the Doctor is forced to acknowledge will shake the legacy of Time Lords to the core! It seems the Master is also set on forming an alliance – albeit an uneasy one – with the Lone Cyberman as well, inviting them to land on Gallifrey, leading to some fantastic moments featuring this seasons two most maniacal villains.

So, who, or what exactly is the Timeless Child? Well, as the Master gleefully reveals long ago, a scientist and explorer called Tecteun (Seylon Baxter) from Gallifrey’s indigenous race, the Shobrgans, found a child from beyond a gateway to another universe on a distant planet. She brought this child to Gallifrey, where in a fatal accident the child miraculously regenerated. Tecteun dedicated herself to studying the child to discover its secret of seemingly unlimited regeneration, until it could be bestowed in a limited capacity of twelve regenerations to the elite of the society that became the Time Lords who would also go on to discover the secret of time travel – the foundling child ultimately becoming the founder of Gallifreyian civilisation itself.

Yes, the Doctor is indeed the Timeless Child! Incarnations before the 1st Doctor (William Hartnell) or any of the Time Lords later incarnations, including the unknown Doctors briefly glimpsed in The Brain of Morbius (1976), are, it seems, most definitely a thing now! Needless to say, this is something of a continuity busting revelation. It recons virtually everything that has ever been established throughout the long history of Doctor Who and turns it on its head. There’s also insight into the origins of the Time Lords non intervention policy in The Timeless Children, but intriguingly some details are missing from the Matrix. Even the Master hasn’t been able to reconstruct them, only lost memories remain, some link to events in 20th century Ireland, while others seem to proffer a clue, possibly from a parent, and the burning question concerning how many lives the Doctor has actually lived has now become an insurmountable fact that’s potentially ad infinitum in scale to a degree that’s almost mind blowing to contemplate.

We have seen the Doctor’s companions struggling at times to balance their lives on Earth and their adventures with the Doctor over the course this series. Now in The Timeless Children the full impact of these events on their personal lives and their friendships with each other are brought into even sharper focus. Ryan must find his own path after he is separated from the Doctor on the planet, ever resourceful, he ends up fighting the Cybermen alongside Ethan and Ko Shamus, while Yaz and Graham have a moving heart to heart, and together with the human refugees they adopt an ingenuous disguise to escape the Cybermen on the Cyber War Carrier.

Tosin Coyle, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh all give emotionally charged performances in their roles as the Time Lords companions, events challenge the Doctor’s friends and reinforce their faith in the Doctor like never before, and Yaz leads the way as they cross the boundary with Ko Shamus and the refugees to reach Gallifrey and rescue the Doctor.

The Cybermen begin their reign of terror in earnest in this episode. With the Lone Cybermen unleashing his new look legions of Cyber-Warriors to wreak havoc, prospects certainly looks bleak for the Doctor, her friends and the human refugees. The Cyber-Warriors are a ruthless, unstoppable war machine, and are a worthy addition to the pantheon of the Cyber-Race. Their leader, the deranged Lone Cyberman, Ashad, is as malevolent as ever. Welder of the Cyberium, possessing the entire knowledge of the Cyber-Race, and the feared Death Particle capable of destroying all organic life on a world, Ashad’s character plays a pivotal role in the action. He is unwavering in his quest, and we also gain more insight into this ghoulish creature’s motivations. He’s especially menacing in the scenes where he searches for Graham and Yaz on the Cyber-War Carrier – leading to some genuinely nerve jangling moments – although his ultimate goal to purge the entire Cyber-Race of all organic components does seems like a rather narrow-minded quest for perfection to me…

However, the Lone Cyberman’s alliance with the Master is short lived as the renegade Time Lord uses his favourite weapon – the tissue compression eliminator – to turn the tables on Ashad and seize the power of the Cyberium for himself. The Master hasn’t just destroyed the Time Lords, he kept the bodies as well, and now with the power of the Cyberium and the technology of the Cyber-Race at his command the Master creates a new race of Cybermen, the Cyber-Masters, invincible new Cybermen that also have the ability to regenerate!

To say that Chris Chibnall’s ambitious script has a heavy amount of plot and exposition to convey during this episode is something of an understatement, however, Chibnall just about manages to keep everything on track, and the resolution is handled satisfyingly enough. It was intriguing to see the Doctor having another meeting with Jo Martin’s incarnation of the Doctor, this time inside the Matrix. The role of Joe Martin’s Doctor still remains somewhat vague, but she’s instrumental in helping the Doctor escape the Matrix and embrace the new status-quo established by the revelations about her origins. The scene where the 13th Doctor gathers her memories is a cinematic masterpiece in itself, featuring a glorious montage from every aspect of the series’ history, and with the inclusion of the ‘Morbius Doctors’ Chris Chibnall effectively blows the bloody doors off decades of hotly debated continuity as well!

The final showdown between the Doctor, the Master and the Cyber-Masters positively crackles with tension and suspense, before Ko Shamus (the man responsible for sending the Cyberium back through time where it became entangled in the events of The Haunting of Villa Diodati) intervenes when the Doctor cannot bring herself to sink to the Master‘s level, and unleashes the Death Particle to defeat the Master and the Cybermen. Its in the aftermath where the plot contrivances get a bit tangled and strain credibility to the limit, as Chibnal throws in a TARDIS here and there to get the Doctor’s companions and the human refugees safely returned to present day Earth, while the Doctor takes a similar journey to reunite with her own TARDIS, where she suddenly gets arrested by the Judoon and sentenced to life imprisonment somewhere in deep space!

The Timeless Children is a superb showcase for the regular cast, with Jodie Whittaker giving a magnificent performance as the Doctor, the action sequences with the Cybermen are superb, and everything is all impressively directed by James Magnus Stone. It was thrilling to see the Cybermen invade Gallifrey and become the Cyber-Masters in this episode, and Sacha Dhawan totally knocked it out the park with another scenery chewing turn as the Master. This episode certainly gives us lots to process. The Timeless Children was an exciting finale for sure, game changing even, and that cliffhanger ending is sure to keep us all guessing until Doctor Who returns for the upcoming festive season in the episode entitled: “Revolution of the Daleks”. But, are the major retcons of the Doctor’s origins and the legacy of the Time Lords a stroke of genius, or a step too far by show runner Chris Chibnall?

Well, I for one don’t think it really changes all that much to be honest. I’m sure many will disagree with me. I’m no big fan of Chibnall as show runner, Series 11 wasn’t that good at all, but I do feel he’s learned from that and gone some way to restructuring the show significantly for the better in Series 12. Jodie Whittaker and the regular cast have all been great this season too. As for the potentially limitless number of incarnations the Doctor now apparently has available given the revelations of The Timeless Children… well, so what eh? As far as I see it makes very little or no difference, whether we acknowledge it or not, everything we knew is still there, and these developments just bring a new perspective to what we already have. Doctor Who has always been about change, and it always will. If the changes made during this episode doesn’t bring some much needed mystery back into modern Doctor Who and a wealth of exciting possibilities to explore then I don’t know what will, do you? I like “new Who”, I have since it returned in 2005, but for me “Classic Doctor Who” will always be my favourite version of the show. The Timeless Children won’t change anything for me one way or the other in that respect, although I’m sure some will hail this tampering with the history of Doctor Who as the beginning of the end and that Chris Chibnall has killed Doctor Who.

Well, time will tell won’t it? Viewing figures for Series 12 haven‘t exactly been out of this world, so maybe somewhere the tea really is getting cold again? Who knows? Personally I’ve quite enjoyed Series 12, and thought Ascension of the Cybermen and the Timeless Children brought this season of Doctor Who to a really exciting close. I must admit I did have some trepidation towards Series 12, as after Series 11 it did feel like modern Who had runs its course to me, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well this new series actually turned out to be. Just think, for the first time in ages we don’t quite know who the Doctor is anymore, there’s scope for a wealth of new adventures on an unimaginable scale still waiting to be discovered. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty exciting place for Doctor Who to be in to me…

Images Belong BBC.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Doctor Who Ascension of the Cybermen Review

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Ascension of the Cybermen

Review by Paul Bowler

In the distant future the Doctor and her companions face a brutal conflict in Ascension of the Cybermen. A war between humanity and the Cybermen has raged across the farthest reaches of space, and now the Doctor must do whatever it takes to save the last remnants of the human race from the relentless onslaught of the Cybermen!

Written by Doctor Who show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by James Magnus Stone, Ascension of the Cybermen gets the first half of Series 12’s eagerly anticipated two-part finale off to a great start. Seeing how the 13th Doctor’s already defeated a Dalek in the 2019 New Year’s Day Special Resolution, it was inevitable the Cybermen would be next on the list of classic Doctor Who monsters for her to confront next.

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) has already faced the Lone Cyberman, Ashad (Patrick OKane), in The Haunting of Villa Diodati, where she made a fateful choice, and now together with her companions Ryan (Tosin Coyle), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) she must fight the Cybermen in force, who return with their previous Nightmare in Silver redesign now sleekly updated (including new handles!), and seemingly more ruthless than ever!

Having given the Lone Cyberman the Cyberium (The embodiment of the Cyber-Races knowledge and history) the Doctor and her friends have travelled far into the future in Ascension of the Cybermen, to a ravaged planet during the immediate aftermath of the Cyber-Wars. The Cybermen have wiped out the majority of the human race, but the Cyber-Race has also been decimated. Now the last refugees of humanity are on the run from the last of the deadly Cybermen, it has brought them all to this dark corner of the universe, and the final battle in which the Doctor must prevent the Lone Cyberman from rebuilding the Cyber-Army!

Opening with the ominous aftermath of the Cyber-War in space (featuring a stunning transition through the eye of destroyed Cyberman into the title sequence), the Doctor and her companions soon end up facing some pretty extreme situations in Ascension of the Cybermen. Fortunately they find some help in the form of Ravio, played by Shetland star Julie Graham, as one of the desperate human refugees still battling for survival against the Cybermen on this planet – one of the last settlements of humanity in the universe. Despite brining countermeasures specifically attuned to some of the Cybermen‘s previously known weakness, the Doctor’s initial plans to help the human refugees fails when two Cyber Shuttles arrive, brining the Lone Cyberman and his Cyber-Guards to the planet – along with some especially lethal Cyber-Drones as well! The TARDIS team get separated during the attack, with Graham and Yaz fleeing with the surviving humans in their Grav-Raft vessel while the Doctor, Ryan and Ethan (Steve Toussaint) escape in one of the Cyber-Shuttles.

Intriguingly it transpires that Ravio and her fellow refugees are in search of something called Ko Sharmus, the fabled boundary to the gateway which they believe will allow them to escape to the other side of the galaxy. Chris Chibnal’s scrip is packed with action and suspense as the Doctor and her companions work alongside the refugees as they split into two teams, with each encountering vastly different outcomes during their quest to reach Ko Sharmus.

Another major subplot of the episode revolves around the mysterious flashbacks to 20th century Ireland involving Brendan (Evan McCabe), the child abandoned at birth whose life unfolds over the course of Ascension of the Cybermen as he’s adopted by a young couple and grows up and becomes a Police Officer. He even gets killed in the line of duty at one point but miraculously seems unable to die – in a way that seems strikingly similar to Captain Jack Harkness! There is also an especially disturbing sequence involving Brendan near the end of the episode, where he is confronted by sinister versions of his father and mentor, although quite how this man’s life relates to humanities struggle against the Cybermen in the future remains a mystery for now. He presents a wealth of possibilities and no doubt Brendan’s story will be resolved in the second half of this series finale.

The Cybermen in Ascension of the Cybermen are relentless, unstoppable and brutal in the extreme in pursuit of their goal. Humanity is desperately clinging on, Cybermen lurk at every turn, and they never, ever seem to give up. The Cybermen have always been my favourite Doctor Who monster. I’ve sometimes felt they’ve been given a bit of a raw deal in the modern series, so it’s great to see them back to their menacing best in Ascension of the Cybermen.

Patrick OKane is also back as the Lone Cyberman, Ashad, he’s every bit as frightening as he was before, and perhaps even more so this time around now that the stakes have become so high. The Lone Cyberman makes for an imposing figure as he strides though a flaming battle scene, his chilling presence is almost palpable as he corners Ethan in an abandoned building, and he seems to delight in his power almost malevolently. In fact he seems quite emotional at times for a Cyberman. It is in his unsettling holographic communiqué with the Doctor on the Cyber-Shuttle where the Lone Cyberman seems almost frighteningly unhinged, believing himself to have been chosen to revive the Cyber-Race and instigate the death of everything!

Impeccably directed by James Magnus Stone, Ascension of the Cybermen gradually draws the numerous strands of the plot together in the most exciting and ingenious way imaginable. Graham, Yaz, and the human refugees find a huge Cyber War Carrier drifting in deep space. This eerie scene is littered with countless bodies of dead Cybermen floating in the void. The human refugees believe they’ve found a ship to help them reach Ko Sharmus, instead they discover this vast carrier holds a sleeping army of Cybermen, and when the Lone Cyberman arrives he quickly sets about reviving them.

These new look Cybermen Warriors have been subtly redesigned enough to make them seem fresh and revitalised for their return. Featuring sleeker armour, a chrome-like finish, spikes, and a head reminiscent of the Invasion style Cybermen from 1968 to complete their new image. The new Cybermen look amazing, an unrelentingly powerful force to be reckoned with, and I got a distinct Earthshock vibe watching the Cyber-Army marching though the cavernous interior of the War Carrier. I was quite shocked how the Lone Cyberman seemed to terrify the new Cybermen as they were revived – scary to think there’s a being frightening enough to actually make a Cyberman scream!

Meanwhile, the Doctor, Ryan and Ethan are astounded when their journey reveals that Ko Sharmus isn’t a location, it’s actually a person! On this strange world they’ve discovered the man called Ko Shamus (Ian McElhinney) explains that he remained behind to help other surviving humans escape the Cybermen. He also leads the Doctor to the boundary, where the gateway-like portal opens to reveal the ruins of Gallifrey beyond, and the Master (Sacha Dhawan) suddenly steps though the portal to confront her! With Graham and Yaz facing an army of Cybermen in space and the Master gloating to the Doctor that everything is about to change forever, Ascension of the Cybermen delivers one of the best cliff-hangers of this entire series.

It seems this time the Doctor may well have put her companions in terrible danger – more than perhaps even she can handle! The Lone Cyberman has achieved his goal with the revival of the Cyber-Army, the revelations about Ko Sharmus were certainly unexpected, and the surprise return of the Master rounded the episode off perfectly.

Featuring terrific performance all round, Ascension of the Cybermen is a superb return to form for the series. It had the Doctor and her friends on the run from numerous threats, the danger from the Cybermen has never been greater, and the episode builds to a game-changing cliff-hanger that has the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz in a situation that looks seemingly impossible for the TARDIS team to ever reunite or escape from.

As you probably all know I’m a big fan of the Cybermen, so I’ve been really looking forward to their return in these episodes, and I’ve been very impressed with the results. I thoroughly enjoyed Ascension of the Cybermen, it was a thrilling, action packed episode, and I can’t wait to see how everything’s resolved in the final episode of Series 12: The Timeless Children.

Images Belong BBC.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Doctor Who The Haunting of Villa Diodati Review

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Doctor Who The Haunting of Villa Diodati

Review by Paul Bowler.

Spine-chilling danger and a moment in literary history entwine in The Haunting of Villa Diodati as the Doctor and her companions travel to Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816, where a group of renowned luminaries have gathered in the Villa Diodati to tell ghost stories. The Doctor soon discovers that some monsters are real. For this is the night that will inspire Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein, just as a horrific threat is about to arrive, and the Doctor will face the most difficult decision of all – but will it be the right one?

Written by Maxine Alderton and directed by Emma Sullivan, The Haunting of Villa Diodati continues Doctor Who’s twelfth series’ predilection for darker themed stories and encounters with key historical figures on auspicious dates in history.

Based around that fateful evening where Frankenstein was inspired – when Lord Byron challenged Mary Shelly to write a ghost story – and her subsequent desire to create a fable that would curdle the blood, the setting and events of The Haunting of Villa Diodati provides a superb backdrop for this Doctor Who episode.

Jodie Whittakers 13th incarnation of the Time Lord and her companions Ryan (Tosin Coyle), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) take the TARDIS to Lake Geneva because the Doctor wants to go somewhere fun, so after instructing her companions not to mention Frankenstein, and with the intention of soaking up the literary atmosphere they are shocked to find there’s actually sinister elements at work on this dark, stormy night.

The ensemble guest cast for The Haunting of Villa Diodati includes Lewis Rainer as Percy Bysshe Shelly, Maxim Braldry is Polidori (who wrote the first Vampire story), Lilly Miller plays Frankenstein author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Shelly), along with Nadia Parkers as Mary’s step-sister Claire Clairmont, and Jacob Collins-Levy as Lord Byron.

The Doctor soon senses the house is unrelentingly evil. Percy Bysshe Shelly is also conspicuous by his absence, while ghostly, creeping things lurk in the shadows, and there is also a distinct lack of writing going on as well considering the zenith of creative minds currently assembled within the gloomy walls of Villa Diodati.

Maxine Alderton’s story wonderfully encapsulates this iconic moment in history with the Sci-Fi themes of Doctor Who, and the result is a thrillingly atmospheric tale. Fear not, the Doctor doesn’t just travel back in time and give Mary Shelly the idea for writing Frankenstein. Maxine Alderton has crafted something far more ingenious, melding subtle nuances, exquisite details, all stitched together with intricate characterisation and chilling moment of horror. The Haunting of Villa Diodati is stylishly directed by Emma Sullivan, dynamic camera angles, swarthy shadows and flickering candlelight all complement the gorgeous period setting – with the lavish costumes designed by Ray Holman completing the look of this episode perfectly. It’s also nice to see the Doctor and her companions turned out in period attire for this adventure as well.

With the skeletal remains of a 15th century soldier getting animated and Mary’s warning of Percy Bysshe Shelly’s ominous vision of a burning figure at the lake, it soon becomes apparent there is something very wrong with the house. The Haunting of Villa Diodati is like a very old-school, creepy kind of Doctor Who episode. Following the moody scene setting opening quarter things go a bit Scooby-Doo for a while as the Doctor and her friends begin to investigate their way around Villa Diodati’s inexplicable shifting rooms and corridors. Fortunately the initial spell of goofy high jinks quickly pass, giving way to nightmarish perils, as the perception filter trapping everyone in the house lifts and the real menace is unveiled – the Lone Cyberman!

Yes, Captain Jack’s dire warning about the Lone Cyberman finally cones to pass in The Haunting of Villa Diodati! The Lone Cyberman is a terrifying sight. A lumbering, grotesque parody of a Cyberman, it has travelled through time in search of the Cyberium – the entire history and knowledge of the Cyber-Race – which has found a human host on Earth – Percy Bysshe Shelly! The Lone Cyberman looks amazing on screen, it’s like a macabre junkyard demon, and its voice is genuinely chilling. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is faced with her most challenging dilemma yet, will she heed Captain Jack’s warning about not giving the Lone Cyberman what it want’s, or will she be willing to sacrifice Percy Bysshe Shelly instead to stop the Cybermen once and for all?

The 13th Doctor gets some fantastic confrontational scenes with the Lone Cyberman. Initially she faces him alone in an electrifying face-off, but it is once the action shifts to the cellar that Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation of the Time Lord really steps up to the plate. Faced with an impossible choice she must challenge not only the Cyberman but also the convictions of her TARDIS team as well.

Lilly Miller is also fabulous as Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Shelly) in the final showdown with her modern Prometheus the Lone Cyberman, or Ashad (Patrick O’Kane), as she he begins to remember the man he was, giving the Doctor the chance to unexpectedly turn the tables by allowing the Lone Cyberman to have the Cyberium and save Percy Bysshe Shelly as well – but at what cost?

The Haunting of Villa Diodati was a brilliant episode, full of thrills, scares, and Cyber-chills! I loved the dark gothic look of the episode and how the mystery of the Lone Cyberman was revealed. The Cyberium was another interesting concept, this quicksilver-like liquid embodiment of the Cyber-Race offers a wealth of new possibilities, and it will be fascinating to see how the Cybermen will continue to evolve now the Doctor has surrendered it to the Lone Cyberman. It was also fun how, in a story full of things that went bump in the night, that Graham was the only one who apparently saw a ghost!

Now the Doctor and her companions must fix the calamity the Time Lord has potentially instigated. They must travel to the future, find the Lone Cyberman, and stop him rebuilding the Cyber-Army! The Haunting of Villa Diodati is easily the best episode in Series 12 so far. The stage is now set for the thrilling two-part series finale, I can’t wait for the Cybermen to return in force, and to see how everything will be resolved in Ascension of the Cybermen and The Timeless Children.

Images Belong BBC

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Doctor Who Can You Hear Me? Review

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Doctor Who Can You Hear Me?

Review by Paul Bowler

There are no bogie men, but that’s not exactly true in Can You Hear Me? Returning to Earth for a break from their adventures in time and space, the Doctor and her friends are soon forced to confront their darkest fears. With a call for help from space, horrific monsters in 1380 Aleppo, and something terrifying infecting peoples nightmares in Sheffield, the Doctor must investigate the cause of this haunting mystery from beyond the stars…

From the creepy opening scenes at a hospital in 1380’s Aleppo, it is clear we are in for a nerve jangling episode. Can You Hear Me?, written by Charlene James and Chris Chibnall, and directed by Emma Sullivan, is the seventh episode of Doctor Who series 12, and it sees the TARDIS team touching base with their lives back on Earth. Yaz (Mandip Gill) visits her family; Ryan (Tosin Coyle) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) catch up with their friends. However, events soon take a darker turn when all three of them are struck by frightening visions, and a strange voice calls out for help from the depths of space. As well as heralding an ominous new threat for the Doctor and her friends, these disturbing signs also highlight some deeply personal issues for Ryan, Graham and Yaz to contend with as they endure unsettlingly scary nightmares.

The chilling premise of Can You Hear Me? provides a chance to really showcase the Doctor’s companions when they return to Sheffield and the Time Lord sets off to investigate events unfolding in 14th century Syria. Mandip Gill, Tosin Coyle and Bradley Walsh all deliver terrific performances. Charlene James and Chris Chibnall’s finely crafted script skilfully utilises the regular cast, which enables us to gain a far greater insight into where these characters are in their lives right now, and how it all relates to the journeys with the Doctor.

Events conspire to take them on some very individual journeys as well during this episode. Graham and Yaz each have their own distinct, and extremely personal nightmares to contend with, Yaz in particular gets some great character development, while Ryan’s issues about not always being their for his friends raises some really challenging quandaries for him to deal with as well. Can You Hear Me? also sees the return of Ryan’s best friend, Theo, played by Buom Tihngang (who we were introduced to briefly in Spyfall Part 1), and Ryan soon discovers that travelling with the Doctor often take a toll on the friendships you leave behind.

This episode guest stars Aruhan Galieva as Tahira, Clare-Hope Ashitey (the lead in the Netflix drama Seven Seconds) who also appears as Rakaya, and Nasreen Hussain as Anita Patel. Each of these characters have pivotal roles to play in Can You Hear Me? and drive the episodes narrative in many surprising and unexpected ways. Once the Doctor has saved Tahira from a monster in Aleppo that not even the Sonic Screwdriver and the TARDIS can identify, its time for the Time Lord to catch up with her friends, and of all their disturbing experiences its Graham’s psychic incursion that enables the TARDIS telepathic circuits to bring them to the cause of the nightmares – a monitoring platform in deep space overseeing a Geo Orb where the woman from Graham’s vision is imprisoned and suspended between two colliding planets in the distant future.

Can You Hear Me? features a sinister new villain called Zellin, played by Game of Thrones, His Dark Materials’ and Torchwood: Children of Earth actor Ian Gelder. He also proved the voice of the Remnants in 2018’s The Ghost Monument, where we first heard about the “Timeless Child”, a phrase that has become even more significant now in Series 12. Zellin is the creepy immortal entity that has set his sights on stalking the Doctor and her friends through time and space on their return to Sheffield. Zellin is one of the most nightmarish beings the Doctor and her friends have ever faced, with deadly fingers that detach and lock into peoples ears to feed off their nightmares, and his brooding presence permeates every aspect of this eerily atmospheric episode.

Jodie Whittaker is also on fine form. She seems totally settled and far more assured in the role of the Doctor now. Series 12 has seen Whittaker markedly refining the characterisation of her incarnation of the Time Lord. Being simultaneously fun, quirky, and resolute in the face of danger, Jodie Whittaker performance is endearingly Doctorish throughout. The Doctor’s scenes in particular with Tahira and her confrontations with Zellin are just some of the many highlights in this episode that enable Jodie Whittaker to really shine as the Doctor.

There are a number of callbacks to previous episodes as the TARDIS team experience their nightmares, especially for Graham when Grace (Sharon D Clarke) shows up with grim news, and Ryan sees the monstrous Dregs from Orphan 55. Zellin seems to have been watching the Doctor for quite some time as well, he mentions the Guardians, the Eternals, and the Toymaker, other god-like beings the Doctor has encountered in the past, and there’s also another mention of the Timeless Child thrown in for good measure to keep us intrigued as well.

Having tricked the Doctor into solving the quantum fluctuation lock Zellin is now able to free the woman from the Geo Orb, who is actually Zellin’s companion, and together they return to Earth to feast on the nightmares of the human race. I really like how Zellin’s and Rakaya’s story is also explained with a neat animated sequence, it signifies just how ancient these beings are, and was an interesting visual way to relay this back-story. Fortunately the Doctor is able to use Zellin’s own abilities against him to trap Zellin and his female companion – along with some especially monstrous company – and effectively puts the god-like beings back in their box for all eternity.

Can You Hear Me? is a cracking good episode, and much like Tahira’s Chagaska it quickly wraps its claws around your imagination. Emma Sullivan’s assured direction skilfully builds the tension as Zellin menaces everyone across both time zones, leading to some really creepy and scary moments. The Doctor and her companions are really put through something of an emotional wringer over the course of this episode, and there are some especially moving closing scenes as Graham confides in the Doctor about concerns over his health while Ryan and Yaz reflect on how their time on board the TARDIS has changed them – perhaps forever.

Although the threat posed by Zellin was resolved a little conveniently and quickly this was still an exciting episode. Can You Hear Me? was great, imaginative, and full of strong character moments. There’s always a risk when you pass the midway point in a series that the initial momentum can falter, resulting in filler stories to keep things going until the finale, so I love it when a really good episode of Doctor Who creeps up on you unexpectedly like this. The episode dealt with some powerful issues and also made the bond between the TADIS team feel stronger than ever, especially now they’ve faced their greatest fears together. The episode closes with the Doctor thanking about Frankenstein, which certainly sounds good to me, and their next destination looks set to continue the darker tone that Series 12 seems to be taking as we progress towards the epic season finale!

Images Belong BBC.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Doctor Who Praxeus Review

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Doctor Who Praxeus

Review by Paul Bowler.

The momentum of Doctor Who Series 12 continues to build in Praxeus, where the Doctor and her companions have split up to investigate a series of mysteries across multiple continents on planet Earth. The Doctor must find the cause behind these strange occurrences and their connection to a new alien menace. What they uncover will place all of humanity in danger. And even the Doctor might not be able to save everyone this time!

Given how Series 12 has already shown the devastation of Gallifrey, along with intriguing mysteries like the Timeless Child and the Lone Cyberman simmering ominously in the background, coupled with the return of the Master (Sacha Dhawan), Captain Jack Harkness (John Barroman), and even the debut of a new female incarnation of the Doctor (J Martin), you’d be forgiven for thinking what Praxeus, co-written by Pete McTighe (Kerblam!) and show runner Chris Chibnall, and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone could possibly throw at the Doctor and her companions next? Praxeus certainly veers off on a significantly different tangent than might have been expected, and the result is an energetic episode bursting with intriguing ideas and scientific concepts.

As we rejoin the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Ryan (Tosin Coyle), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) in Praxeus the gang have already split up and are conducting their own investigations around the globe in response to the alerts the TARDIS received at then end of Fugitive of the Judoon. But what is it that connects a missing astronaut, birds that are behaving strangely in Peru, and a US naval officer washed-up on a beach in Madagascar? Jodie Whittaker’s performance as the Doctor continues to impress in Praxeus as she tackles what could prove to be this series’ most challenging mystery so far. Whittaker’s Doctor runs a gauntlet of emotions as she contends with several seemingly unrelated incidents, including a missing submarine in the Indian Ocean, alien technology giving off strange energy readings in Hong Kong, and identical deaths on two separate continents.

The Doctor’s companions are also put through their paces in this episode as their investigations take them around the world. Tosin Coyle and Mandip Gill have some great scenes as Ryan and Yaz embark on their missions, Bradley Walsh also continues to excel as Graham, and overall everyone gets a good share of the action.

Praxeus also guest stars Joana Borja and Gabriella Tolo as young bloggers Gabriela and Jamila, along with Warren Brown as Ex Police Officer Jake Willis, Matthew McNutly as Jake’s husband and the missing astronaut Adam, Molly Harris as Suki Cheng and Thapelo Maropefela as Amaru. They all inadvertently get caught up in the Time Lord’s chaotic adventure and it’s not long before the Doctor and her companions find themselves in a frantic race against time to save the human race from a deadly alien infection spread by rampaging flocks of birds around the world.

For an episode so jam-packed with characters and a world-wide menace to solve, co-writers Pete McTighe and show Chris Chibnall skilfully make use of the ensemble cast, and skilfully keep the plot on track as the mystery concerning the pathogen unfolds. I really liked the scenes where Ryan and Gabriella team-up to investigate a rather creepy looking hospital as well; Yaz’s character also gets a more significant role in Praxeus, and proves increasingly resourceful as she works with Gabriella in Hong Kong to find the true location of the alien threat.

Ex Police Officer Jake Willis and his Astronaut husband Adam also have key roles in the story, their relationship drives a good portion of the narrative, and Warren Brown and Matthew McNutly’s performances help give added emotional depth to an episode that could have otherwise risked been just a manic run-around. The scene between Jake and Graham was another highlight of the episode, with Graham proving as insightful as ever as he offers Jake some sound advice to gain a fresh perspective on life and get his failing marriage back on track.

There is something very wrong with the birds in Praxeus. It turns out the plastic they have eaten have been contaminated by a deadly alien pathogen that seems to feed on micro plastics – one that has now mutated the birds from the inside and driven them to attack. Praxeus feels a bit like a Sci-Fi version of The Birds at times, with its swirling flocks of marauding birds circling ominously overhead, or chasing the Doctor and her friends across a beach to the TARDIS, and the effects for these scenes are chillingly realised on screen.

Praxeus is Peter McTighe’s second episode for Doctor Who, his first being Series 11’s Kerblam! Together with co-writer Chris Chibnall, McTighe manages to balance the numerous plot strands of Praxeus, and the result is a fast paced and exciting globe-trotting adventure. Much of Praxeus was filmed along with the first episode, Spyfall, in South Africa, and it really gives the episode a great sense of scale. Director Jamie Magnus Stone delivers a roller coaster ride of an episode here, complete with stunning scenery, great special effects, and some especially disturbing moments as well.

With Yaz’s and Gabriella’s discovery of an alien construct and the missing submarine deep beneath a Gyre of plastic refuse in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Doctor and the others travel in the TARDIS to the underwater construct having just found a solution for the infection – thanks to Adam volunteering to be a test subject for the cure. With the scientist Suki Cheng now revealed as a humanoid alien who deliberately plotted to infect Earth with the Praxeus infection to find a cure for her own species, the Doctor must act quickly to save the world, cure the infection, get everyone to safety and carry out a last ditch rescue attempt!

Although there is a stark ecological message at the core of Praxeus, quite literally in fact, at least this time it wasn’t tagged on like it was in Orphan 55, and it was actually integral to the overall plot of Praxeus. I really liked the strong concepts and ideas that formed the basis of the story and how well all the characters worked together. At one point the Doctor name-checks the Autons as having a possible connection to the plastic pathogen, only to dismiss them out of hand as this strategy doesn’t fit with their usual M.O – obviously recalling the classic Doctor Who monsters shaped like shop window dummies faced by Christopher Eccelston’s Doctor in Rose (2005) and perhaps even more significantly during the 3rd Doctor’s (Jon Pertwee) era where they demonstrated the ability to manipulate other forms of plastic, such as dolls, suffocating plastic daffodils, and a lethal inflatable chair.

There were a few interesting questions posed during Praxeus that remain unanswered. Take the strangely garbed aliens that attacked Graham, Yaz and Jake in Hong Kong. Later the Doctor says she scanned the building and didn’t detect any life signals, so how come the TARDIS registered active alien tech in Hong Kong but not the life forms, and why could the aliens hide their life signs but not the unusual energy patterns from their technology? At one point in Praxeus the Doctor frantically contemplates the mystery of the pathogen in the lab, only to refer to her thoughts in the plural, which concerns her companions. So is this just the Doctor rambling as she thinks, or does the Doctor have two brains? Now that would certainly be another new take on Doctor Who cannon! During the attack on the lab, Amaru was seemingly killed by the birds, yet it is unclear if he was an alien like Suki Cheng, and his apparent death doesn’t seem to register at all with anyone.

With only two episodes to go now until the two-part season finale, Praxeus had a tough act to follow after the dramatic revelations in Fugitive of the Judoon, but Praxeus managed to surpass and exceed all expectations. With its great cast and excitingly paced script providing so many excellent character driven moments, the credible environmental threat presented during this episode seemed all the more potent as a result, and the outcome saw Praxeus evolve into one of Series 12’s most intriguing and exciting adventure to date.

Images Belong BBC

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Doctor Who Fugitive of the Judoon Review

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Doctor Who Fugitive of the Judoon

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Judoon are back! Stomping their way into Series 12 of Doctor and present-day Gloucester, in Fugitive of the Judoon. This time the Judoon are hunting someone on the run. So the Doctor and her friends arrive amidst the chaos caused by the intergalactic police forces presence on Earth, and must act quickly to bring the situation under control. But who is the mysterious fugitive and why are the Judoon so intent on finding them?

Fugitive of the Judoon marks the welcome return of the Judoon, first introduced to Doctor Who back in 2007’s Smith and Jones, and seen most recently in 2015’s Face The Raven. Written by Vinay Patel (Demons of the Punjab, 2018), her second story for Doctor Who makes excellent use of the Judoon‘s return to the series, its filled with fun moments, whilst also brining some new aspects to the creatures and their motives. With location filming in Gloucester, Fugitive of the Judoon is probably the most contemporary story so far in Series 12, and director Nida Manzoor strikes just the right balances between the episodes lighter tone, humour and action.

Indeed, the Judoon make a surprisingly effective challenge for Jodie Whittakers 13th incarnation of the Time Lord, Whittaker’s Doctor shines with strength and warmth throughout this episode as she tackles the aliens rampage, and there’s also some great confrontations with Judoon Captain Pol-Kon-Don (Paul Kasey) – voiced by Nick Briggs.

The Doctor and companions Ryan (Tosin Coyle), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) continue to show what a great and resourceful TARDIS team they make in Fugitive of the Judoon. Prior to the TARDIS intercepting the Judoon’s warning signal, the Doctor’s “fam” notice how preoccupied she’s become, and when they confront her the Time Lord confesses that she’s been trying to locate the Master. The Doctor believes he may have escaped the Kasaavin’s dimension because of the personal nature of the message he left – although she still doesn’t tell her companions that her homeworld of Gallifrey has been destroyed. Fugitive of the Judoon also leads to a surprising blast from the past for the Doctor’s new companions when first Graham, followed later by Ryan and Yaz, are unexpectedly teleported to a spaceship piloted none other than Captain Jack Harkness!

Yes that’s right Captain Jack, played by the brilliant John Barrowman, returns to Doctor Who after nearly a decade in Fugitive of the Judoon having commandeered a space vessel complete with a Quantum Scoop, and an important message for the Doctor. Seeing John Barrowman return as Captain Jack was a great surprise and made for some of the episodes standout moments, especially when Jack thinks that Graham is the Doctor! But with naoprobes set to bring Captain Jack’s mission to an impromptu end, he quickly informs the Doctor’s companions they must warn the Time Lord to beware of the lone Cyberman. It seems an Alliance of some kind has virtually annihilated the Cybermen, using something they sent back through time and space to destroy them, all save for one!

The guest cast features Jo Martin as Ruth Clayton, a Gloucester tour guide, and Neil Stuke as Lee, Ruth’s husband, an interesting everyday couple living seemingly ordinary lives in the cathedral city of Gloucester. The Juddon are not here for a tour of the local attractions though. At first everything points towards Lee being the alien fugitive the Judoon are after, and it seems they will stop at nothing to apprehend him. However, when the mysterious alien woman who hired the Judoon, Gat (Ritu Arya), intervenes and Lee is killed it becomes clear that Ruth is the one the trigger the happy rhino-faced space police are actually looking for.

Although the Judoon have featured a few times in Doctor Who, Fugitive of the Judoon is the first time they’ve really played a major role in a story for a while, and Vinay Patel‘s wittily crafted script brilliantly showcases these gruff alien space police as their mission causes them to lock horns with the Doctor. The scene when the Judoon corner the Doctor and Ruth in the cathedral is another highlight. Their scans see through the tour guides biological cloaking field, fortunately Ruth is beginning to remember her true identity at this point, and spectacularly turns the tables on the Judoon.

From here Fugitive of the Judoon plunges down the rabbet hole and the pace hardly lets up for a moment. A journey to a lighthouse and a blank grave, where a buried TARDIS with a rather classic looking interior is discovered, which all leads to a tense showdown on the Judoon spaceship, and the shocking revelation that not only is Gat a Gallifreyan, but that Ruth was actually a Time Lord in hiding is and really another incarnation of the Doctor! To say that Doctor Who continuity just got turned inside out during this moment is something of an understatement here, there were countless time twistingly referential nuances woven into the story, and I’m still not sure how I feel about all these jaw-dropping surprises. It was fun, if a little bewildering, to have so many unexpected surprises in Fugitive of the Judoon. No doubt Chris Chibnall will probably deliver some Moffat style temporal twist that will ensure that everything in Fugitive of the Judoon eventually makes sense, but until then there are lots of questions that will remain unanswered – for now at least.

I thought Jo Martin was great casting as Ruth /The Doctor though. Her dual roles in this story were cleverly scripted, and her performance as another incarnation of the Doctor alongside Jodie Whittaker’s startled 13th Doctor was riveting! Quite how Jo Martin’s incarnation of the Doctor fits into the series’ extensive web of continuity remains to be seen. Fugitive of the Judoon seems to hint that she’s an earlier version of the Doctor, possibly earlier than any we’ve seen before! I still think this is unlikely. Could this second female Doctor in fact really be the first female Doctor, and how could the 13th Doctor have forgotten about her? Could it be that Ruth is a secretly unacknowledged version of the Doctor like John Hurt’s War Doctor from the 50th Anniversary story The Day of the Doctor (2013), or is she bizarrely linked somehow to the unknown Doctor’s we briefly glimpsed in The Brain of Morbius (1976)? We never actually saw the 2nd Doctor, Patrick Troughton, regenerate on screen in The War Games (1969) either, so maybe Ruth existed before we saw Jon Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor begin his exile on Earth in Spearhead From Space (1970)? My money is on Ruth being from some other dimension, especially with the return of the Master, Jack and now Ruth’s debut as a hitherto unknown version of the Doctor, it really does seems that time is indeed swirling and closing in around the 13th Doctor and her friends. Blimey, I could speculate about this all day, and don’t even get me started about the unexpected return of Captain Jack Harkness – heaven only knows where he fits into all this!?

With the Judoon menace eventually sent packing, the Doctor is reunited with her companions and I really liked how everyone compared notes back on board the TARDIS. The Doctor is still reeling just as much as Ryan, Yaz, and Graham are about Ruth’s real identity, but the bond between this TARDIS team feels stronger than ever now as they set off to investigate multiple alerts detected across three continents on Earth.

I was expecting Fugitive of the Judoon to be a fun and frivolous story, nothing more. Instead this marvellous adventure by Vinay Patel and director Nida Manzoor turned out to be a riotous mid-season roller coaster ride that had me hanging on every word. Fugitive of the Judoon has given Series 12 of Doctor Who a thrilling boost with its game changing shocks, surprises and Judoon near the Moon.

It was wonderful to see John Barrowman as Captain Jack again as well. My only gripe was that he didn’t actually meet the 13th Doctor, so fingers crossed he will be back at some point in Series 12 to team-up with Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation of the Time Lord.

As you all probably know, I’m a big fan of the Cybermen, they are my favourite Doctor Who monster. So you can imagine the references in Fugitive of the Judoon to the fate of the Cybermen and Jack’s dire warning about the universe being in peril, insisting that that the Doctor mustn’t give the lone Cyberman what it wants, has me considerably intrigued – even more so than all the shenanigans involving Ruth’s incarnation of the Doctor and her place in the grand scheme of things. Fugitive of the Judoon was a fun, mind-bending episode for sure, Series 12 really seems to be hitting its stride now, and I can’t wait to see what dangers await the Doctor and her companions when they eventually face the lone Cyberman!

Images Belong BBC

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook