Monday, 22 September 2014

I’ll admit, I went into this week’s Doctor Who already pessimistic. It’s written by Steve Thompson, who has a track record of taking good concepts for stories and turning them into crap scripts. And, as it turns out, my fears were well founded, and Time Heist is no exception to this trend.

It’s an episode that fits within the Moffat series’ penchant for pastiching well-known movie genres, and this time, Doctor Who took on the heist movie. The high concept: the Doctor, Clara and a crack team of thieves break into the most high-security bank in the universe.

So, who made up The Doctor’s Four? Psi, an ‘augmented human’ who can hack into any computer systems and project holograms from a USB cable in his head, and Saibra, a ‘mutant human’ shapeshifter who must have failed her audition for the X-Men. No objections so far, these characters could be fun. The problem is, they never grow far from caricatures, with dialogue so poorly written that it’s difficult to care what happens to them. The villains, meanwhile – Keeley Hawes as Miss Delphox and Keeley Hawes as Miss Karabraxos – were also woefully underwritten to the point of pointlessness, with the cloning element another good idea wasted by lines such as “We’ll be fired – fired with pain.”

The other major presence in Time Heist is the Teller, a new alien. Enslaved as a search dog due to its telepathic ability to detect guilt, this big fella was a classic ‘man in a rubber suit’ job, and it did look the part. Give me rubber suits over CGI any day. But, while a guilt detector is a great concept for futuristic security, the method of escaping it – clearing your mind of any thoughts – is overly reminiscent of Deep Breath’s ‘hold your breath to avoid detection’ sequences, particularly when Clara ends up alone, pursued by the Teller through a corridor, remembering the Doctor’s advice – a far too familiar scene.

Aside from a strong set of characters, a good heist movie needs a watertight plot. Which Time Heist also didn’t have. Lots of things seemed to be leading up to the reveal that the Doctor himself was the ‘Architect’ who had set everything in motion. OK, that’s kind of cool. But how did he eventually work this out? Because he says that he ‘hates’ the architect and later remembers he also hates himself. Right. 

Firstly, even a Doctor as rude as Capaldi’s shouldn’t be off-handedly saying he hates someone he knows nothing about; it’s entirely out of character. Secondly, the idea of the Doctor’s repressed self-loathing has been explored before (2010’s magnificent Amy’s Choice comes to mind), but it’s a dark and complex character trait that frankly shouldn’t be abused in such an awkward, gimmicky manner. Plus, how did he simultaneously work out that Karabraxos hired him to plan the heist? I’m honestly not sure, and it isn’t the only part of the story that doesn’t add up.

For example…

Why was the heist plotted around the time a certain vault would be vulnerable when the thing they were after was in a different vault? Why does the bank director keep a prisoner in her office cupboard? Why was there no mention of the potential for solar storms before one deus ex machina’d the vault open? Why does the Doctor not suggest Saibra clear her mind of thoughts like Clara had done to save herself from the Teller? How bloody lucky were the gang that, when the guilt detector was unleashed upon the bank hall, they happened to be standing next to another criminal who could be caught instead of them? 

And so on…

To continue my relentless negativity, I felt the look of the episode was also poor. Despite the best efforts of director Douglas Mackinnon, who did a great job on last week’s Listen, the bank looked ironically cheap, with something distinctly fake about both the CGI buildings and the big empty corridors that made up the interiors. It’s like they wanted to make Ocean’s Eleven in space but ended up making Hustle in a power station.

Reading back over this review, I feel I’ve been rather negative so far. There were some things I liked. I liked the twist that they were not on a heist motivated by greed but a rescue mission, with the aim of re-uniting the Teller with its mate – sure, it was reminiscent of 2012’s Hide, another episode I really don’t like, but it felt more appropriate here. And, of course, Peter Capaldi continues to be a brilliant Doctor, his highlights here being his shocking ‘professional detachment’ after Saibra’s apparent death and his Malcolm Tucker-lite 'shut up' tirade.

That said, even Capaldi is not enough to save Steve Thompson’s third attempt at Who. With some great ideas for characters and a genre ripe for sci-fi pastiching, it’s one of those episodes that could have been so much better than it ended up. 

Time Heist did, however, live up to its name – it’s 45 minutes I won’t be getting back. 
On 22.9.14 by KieronMoore in , , , ,    23 comments

Released as an ABC TV Movie of the Week in 1971 before getting an international theatrical release, Duel shows off the talents of two great artists – it’s the first feature directed by Steven Spielberg, at the point where he moved from TV into cinema, and it’s written by Richard Matheson, better known for his sci-fi masterwork I Am Legend.

And yet it’s a very minimalist film, with an incredibly simple concept. Driving along the open desert road, a man, conveniently named David Mann, overtakes a slow-moving truck. As most drivers will at some point have done. But then the truck overtakes him back. The man overtakes the truck again. The truck driver attempts to kill the man. A ninety-minute chase sequence ensues.

And I was on the edge of my seat for all ninety. Spielberg directs tense action like no-one else and this early road rage movie screams of a director who’s going to make it big. Though shot entirely in broad daylight, it’s as terrifying as any horror film. The truck is evil, nightmarish, and relentless; we never see the driver but get a sense of his past through the truck's multiple licence plates, presumably trophies of previous conquests. Whatever Mann does to escape, the truck always comes back. When he thinks he’s got away, he stops in a diner, washes himself in the toilets, steps back into the diner… and the truck’s there, in the forecourt. Cue the tensest scene of a man ordering a sandwich you’ll ever see, rich in paranoia as everyone in the room becomes a suspect.

If I were to get philosophical, I’d say it’s a film about courage. Early in the film, Mann calls his wife from a gas station and apologises for failing to defend her when a partygoer made an unwanted advance the previous night. Here, he’s framed through the door of a launderette washing machine – even domesticity oppresses him. He spends the entirety of the film running away from the truck, and is only victorious when he builds up the courage to turn around and confront it. Freud would probably say it’s about masculinity in crisis and the truck represents a giant penis.

But Spielberg and Matheson would probably say it’s about a man being chased by a truck, and that’s thrilling enough for me.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

On 21.9.14 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

If the words ‘Belle and Sebastian’ mean anything to you, you probably already know about God Help the Girl. If not, they’re a folksy indie band from Scotland, and this is the directing debut of lead singer Stuart Murdoch; a musical featuring the songs of, you guessed it, Belle and Sebastian.

Depressed and restricted to the mental hospital in which she’s being treated for anorexia, Eve finds escape in songwriting. She checks herself out, and meets up with James and Cassie, a remarkably well-tailored pair of graduates with whom she starts up a band.

And then they spend a lot of time talking about music. Far too much time. As wistful as the songs it features, God Help the Girl is sorely lacking in drama, and any developments in the plot feel like afterthoughts thrown on to decorate the string of music videos. This is especially disappointing after the opening sequence sets the film up for an interesting exploration of mental illness; when this topic is dealt with, the film does so tastefully and interestingly, but these moments of interest are too sparse among the tedious chatter.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

On 20.9.14 by KieronMoore   No comments
I don't believe in superstitious bollocks, but if I did, I'd be saying that the universe gave me a sign today.

So the TV job search has been fruitless so far. And today I'm standing in the Arndale Centre, in front of a recruitment stall for seasonal workers. Obviously this isn't the kind of job I've been hoping for, but, if I still haven't struck gold by Christmas, this would bring in some money and give me something to do while I keep on chasing my dreams. What's the worst that can happen if I sign myself up?

I give the guy a CV and he gives me a form to fill in. Nothing complex. Name, address, availability. Why do you want to work at the Arndale Centre? As I think of some rubbish about giving customers a good experience, a man walking past draws my eye. I'm not sure why – maybe because we've both dressed in black today, maybe I'm hungry and crave the contents of his Yo Sushi bag. I look up, I think he sees me and looks back...

Holy shit, it's Russell T Davies.

And then he's gone, and I've missed my chance to talk to the one writer who's inspired me more than any other and who's at least partly responsible for my ridiculous aspirations, because I was too busy filling in details of when I'm available to gift wrap people's Christmas presents for them.

Don't give up on your dreams, kids.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

On 16.9.14 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

You pretty much know what you're going to get with a Syfy channel movie. It’ll be wise to the rules of its genre and have something ridiculously weird but somehow entertaining happen every ten minutes, but ultimately it will fall apart if the script or performances are at all scrutinised. It would be great to say Grave Halloween departs from that mould. But it doesn’t.

From I Spit on Your Grave director (and all-round fan of the word ‘grave’) Steven R. Monroe, Grave Halloween follows – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – a group of shockingly attractive young students who venture into the deep, dark woods to make a documentary about a dead person. The woods in question are Japan’s Aokigahara, a notorious suicide hotspot, and the corpse in question is the mother of Maiko (Kaitlyn Leeb). She wants to give her mother, who topped herself when Maiko was a child, the ritual burial she deserves, while allowing Amber (Cassi Thompson) to film it for a college project.

“Damn, if only I’d thought of exploiting my friend’s childhood trauma to get me through school”, you'll probably be thinking. That, or, “Ah shit, not another found footage movie” – but Grave Halloween isn't quite that. The film intercuts the group’s documentary footage with more traditionally shot scenes – a wise choice that allows Monroe the freedom to craft a spine-chilling atmosphere and to cut away to other people, mostly so we can see them die horrifically. Yes, this is a film which knows how to raise hairs, particularly in its dark and troublesome climax.

The problem is, when the film slows down between scary bits, you’re at risk of accidentally thinking about the plot, and that’s when it all goes downhill. There’s little consistency as to what’s actually going on – it’s a ghost story, but at one point a guy’s attacked by evil trees. Not sure why. And I’m no expert on the Japanese justice system, but I don’t think it’s common practice for arrested thieves to be handcuffed to a shelf in a morgue.

What’s worse is that, Maiko’s determination to bury her mother aside, the characters are sorely underwritten. In the opening sequences, Dejan Loyola’s Terry is introduced as the easy-going, ‘everything-will-be-fine’ member of the gang, and Graham Wardle’s Kyle is tipped as the new guy whom the others can’t yet trust, but neither of these characteristics are at all returned to once they get into the woods. Actually, considering the quality of acting on show, maybe it’s for the best that they don’t have to bother with depth…

Grave Halloween may not stand up to much analysis, but if shockingly attractive students and the horrifying murders of the aforesaid are the kind of thing you like – well, there are worse ways to spend a night.

Monday, 15 September 2014

At university, I went to a couple of the LGBT society’s film and pizza nights. The problem with them was, the majority of LGBT-themed films are either unrelentingly bleak, and so unsuitable for friendly gatherings that are meant to make people want to come back to the society, or just immensely crap. If I was still in that society, I’d now undoubtedly suggest Pride. And not just because it has Moriarty and Jimmy McNulty as a couple.

From director Matthew Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford, Pride tells a remarkable true story; in the middle of the miners’ strike of 1984, a group of gay pride campaigners decide to show solidarity with the strikers, seeing parallels with themselves in the way the miners are oppressed by the Thatcher government. They set up LGSM – Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners – and raise funds to pass on to the community of a small Welsh mining village. Of course, not everyone in this village is comfortable with their new benefactors, and there’s a lot of struggle to get themselves appreciated. But the success which grew out of this small group of activists is amazing, and by the end of the film, you’ll be astonished at just what an effect they had, nationwide, and curious as to how you hadn’t already heard their story. 

The film tells this story through a multitude of characters, and does an excellent job of balancing them all, their personal stories carefully woven around the political plot. The lead is George Mackay’s Joe, who, over the course of the narrative, finds his feet in the gay scene, learns to take pride in who he is, and stands up to his unaccepting family. While very touching, the coming out story is one we’ve seen before, and so it’s the depth of the other characters around Joe that make Pride something special. Andrew Scott plays Gethin, whose story is a nice counterpoint to Joe’s – though he initially wants to stay away from his Welsh roots, the group's journey provokes him to make up with the mother who spurned him sixteen years ago. Meanwhile, Ben Schnetzer's Mark deals simultaneously with the pressure put upon him by his responsibility as leader of the activists and the possibility he’s HIV-positive. The villagers are well-developed characters too, particularly Imelda Staunton as the bulldozer-like matriarch who stands up to anyone in the community's way, and Bill Nighy as the shy, reserved treasurer.

That’s a lot of characters, and in fact there are a lot more that I haven’t mentioned, but Pride somehow succeeds in making them all rounded and believable, even the less sympathetic ones, and I had a great time in their company. It’s a story set against a very sad backdrop – the oppression of the miners, rampant homophobia, AIDs, hate crime – and, while it could show more of their consequences, it certainly doesn’t shy away from these issues. And it’s this sadness that makes the victories all the more happier. Aided by a great soundtrack featuring The Smiths and The Stone Roses, it’s an incredible story about an incredible group of people, presented in a tone which isn't overly sentimental, but invokes joy, wonder, and, of course, pride. One for LGBT societies across the land, and indeed for anyone who needs their spirits lifting. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’m one of those Doctor Who fans who believe that Steven Moffat’s running of the show has not been up to scratch as of late. Plot arcs have been over-convoluted and pointless, female characters have been poorly and inconsistently characterised, and episodes have often returned to the same, repetitive tropes. The thing is, he used to be one of Who’s most loved writers. A Moffat episode in the middle of a Russell T Davies-led series was the episode everyone looked forward to, with the low-key but spine-chilling Blink becoming one of the most loved episodes of all time. Perhaps feeling the pressure of keeping the whole series in control, Moffat signed himself up to write Listen, the fourth in the current series starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, aiming to write a “chamber piece” free of plot arcs and harking back to the success of Blink. In fact, in the latest Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat claims to have written Listen “out of an entirely selfish desire” because he’d “like to prove that [he] can actually write”.  As it happens, it turns out he can indeed still write, and Listen is an astonishing reminder of that fact.

Listen is not at all a conventional Doctor Who episode, as is clear right from the pre-titles sequence, in which the Doctor paces around the TARDIS, theorising as to whether we’re ever truly alone, or whether someone or something has perfected hiding. This isn’t an episode where a civilisation is invaded by aliens and the Doctor dives in to save the day. This is the Doctor left alone to think. Capaldi’s Doctor is less action hero and more eccentric professor; intellectual, esoteric, distant, willing to whisk Clara away from everyday life, in need of not a friend but a guinea pig for his grand experiment across time and space. Flashing a demented smile, this Doctor asks Clara what’s under her bed, in pursuit of a ubiquitous nightmare (I personally don’t recall ever having that nightmare, though I did have a similar one involving Darth Maul hiding in my cupboard).

Diving into Clara's timeline in search of Darth Maul this nightmare creature, the Doctor lets her guide the TARDIS, leading them to encounters with scared young Rupert Pink in a Gloucester children’s home, scared pioneer Orson Pink at the end of the universe, and a scared young Time Lord in a very familiar barn (to those of you saying “but how’d she get to Gallifrey?”, I say – ah, fuck it, science happened). This journey does take in a lot of Moffat’s oft-used tropes – fear borne of the everyday, the child version of the regular, the nursery rhyme – and it’s a shame that they are seen as Moffatisms, because, whereas they may have grated in previous episodes, here they are used to perfection, every one becoming atmospheric and meaningful. The Doctor’s theory about this perfect monster plays on all types of fears of being alone in the dark – there’s something under the bed, where are those footsteps coming from, there are noises in the pipes, and so on – while cleverly retaining the ambiguity by planting an alternate explanation for everything – it could just be another kid under the sheets, it’s the hull cooling. You’re kept wondering if you’ll see this perfect monster, but any actual reveal would be disappointing, and the true resolution is much richer. Fear itself is the enemy in Listen. The perfect monster that haunts us all, and the superpower that builds us. It’s a theme that Moffat writes beautifully, purified.

And it’s a theme that is linked carefully with the series regulars, through Clara’s repeated return to her disastrous date; a date that is the domestic counterpoint to the grand terror, and the catalyst that sends the TARDIS to the past and the future of Danny Pink. I’m enjoying the build-up to the inevitable Doctor/Danny conflict, and here we get to see some of the inherent similarities between the two. They’re both shaped by fears, by lying awake at night, by being the outsider. A fear that, albeit with a little push from Clara, turned them both into soldiers. Broken soldiers. The recurrent motif of the toy missing the gun is lovely, as is the moment where Clara describes it as “a soldier so brave, he can keep the whole world safe”, the Doctor looking on disapprovingly in the background. The difference between the two is that the Doctor makes clear his current hatred of soldiers, whereas Danny is much more defensive. It can only go wrong when they finally meet… 

Exploring Clara’s relationship with Danny, getting to the heart of the Doctor’s fears, and making children across the world shit themselves, Listen packs a hell of a lot in, but it’s perfectly paced. It travels to the ends of the universe, exploiting simple fears in both domestic and sci-fi settings, while taking the time to build tension and terror in its long and suspenseful scenes, all linked in neatly with the framing story of Clara’s date; at once fluid and languorous, never convoluted. It’s Moffat’s best script in a long, long time, and it’s an episode full of lovely, dark touches. Director Douglas Mackinnon does a great job at building atmosphere, making even the TARDIS itself haunted, steam rising from its vents as the Doctor questions if he’s alone. There’s a beautifully creepy soundscape, which, appropriately given the title, creates all the best scares – banging on the hull, creaking of the bed. It’s an episode to be watched in the dark. And, while Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson are great, Peter Capaldi shines, masterfully leading us through his investigation, increasingly vulnerable as we realise the truth. He’s haunted. Angry. Alien. Broken. 

“The deep and lovely dark, you’d never see the stars without it”, says the Doctor, urging Rupert to look away towards the vast starscape, cleverly mirrored in the Doctor’s jumper. Listen is Doctor Who at its deepest, loveliest, and darkest.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

After its first two episodes took us “into darkness”, series eight of Doctor Who was in need of a bit of light relief. And who better to bring such a break than writer Mark Gatiss, who gave us last year’s hilarious Victorian romp The Crimson Horror?

Gatiss’ latest episode, Robot of Sherwood, saw the Doctor come face to face with another legendary hero, one he didn’t believe could possibly exist – Robin Hood. But there’s no Robin Hood story without his iconic adversary, and so the Doctor, Clara and Tom Riley's Robin soon found themselves up against the machinations of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, and his legion of knights – who also happened to be time-travelling space robots.

As anyone who’s seen the Errol Flynn classic knows, Robin Hood films are best when you can embrace the campness of it all and have a bit of fun. This episode certainly shared that sensibility, providing some of the funniest scenes in recent Doctor Who, the spoon vs. sword fight on the river and the Doctor’s sabotaging of the archery competition being particular highlights.

But this is a darker Doctor, as we’ve constantly been told. How can Peter Capaldi’s grumpy, murderous old man fit into all this frivolity? Bloody well, actually. It’s exactly because of the lightness of everything else that this is an episode perfect for a darker Doctor, and a lot of the best laughs came from countering Robin’s dashing heroics with the Doctor not having any of it, constantly bickering and moaning, even declaring himself “totally against bantering.” I mean, imagine the Eleventh Doctor in this situation; he’d just swan around wanking over how cool it all is and the whole thing would be intolerably cheery. Isn’t it great that we have a Doctor who’ll threaten to punch Robin Hood in the face and then whack him over the head with a spoon? And I bet whoever demanded the beheading scene be cut didn’t see this:

But the Doctor’s role in this wasn’t just bickering. We got some deeper exploration of what it means to be a legend, too, and the Doctor and Robin’s final conversation is a finely written scene…

“I’m not a hero”
“Well neither am I, but if we both keep pretending to be – ha ha – perhaps others will be heroes in our name. Perhaps we will both be stories, and may those stories never end.”

Meanwhile, Clara, who I’m much more fond of this series than I was last year, continued to be very watchable in this episode. Her one-upping of the Sheriff is an impressive feat, as is her taking control of the two bickering heroes in the dungeon, becoming the real ringleader of the pack. It’s just a shame that the episode’s only other female character, Marion, was very poorly served, being written as little more than a “present” for the Doctor to leave for Robin. The episode clearly needed to flesh out Robin and Marion’s relationship better – or maybe have, as I at one point suspected, the twist that Clara herself becomes the Marion of legend. 

My other big criticism of Robot of Sherwood is – and this is a sadly common criticism when it comes to recent Doctor Who – the plotting of the villains’ plans. The Sheriff’s idea of crashing into London and then taking over the world is a little bit bollocks, and there are some things that clearly don’t make any sense at all – what spaceship would ever get a massive boost of power if you shot an arrow built of a relatively tiny amount of its fuel into the side of the hull? 

And worse: some robots crash a spaceship in England, disguise it as a period building, and beat up the locals in an attempt to gather resources so they can bugger off to Michelle Gomez’s big tea party in the sky. Am I describing Deep Breath or Robot of Sherwood? You can’t answer that, right? Two episodes having such similar plots is bad in itself, but considering they’re only two episodes apart, that’s an inexplicable crime. 

It’s a shame, but at least this take on that plot is a lot better handled than Steven Moffat’s series opener; the Doctor, Clara and Robin propel the story along nicely and there’s much gallant derring-do to enjoy along the way. Embrace the campness, and Robot of Sherwood is great fun.

And it’s a much-needed dose of fun, as next week’s episode looks pants-shittingly spooky...

Monday, 8 September 2014

A slightly late review this time. It's not my fault, I got distracted. You can always find something.

​After his overly long and patchy debut Deep Breath, the Twelfth Doctor's second outing, Into the Dalek, saw him travelling... well, the clue's in the title. But this was a journey that allowed us an insight into the Doctor himself, who, as the Dalek points out, would make a good Dalek. So is the title referring to him? Ooh. Possibly. Probably not.

​Anyway. It's a cracking central concept, brought to life well by director Ben Wheatley and writer Phil Ford (our first non-Moffat script in a while - a refreshing change, even if he did somehow blag himself a co-writer credit). Sure, some elements have been seen before - the miniaturisation and antibodies are reminiscent of Let's Kill Hitler, plus there are similarities to 2005's Dalek - but it's a dynamic and thrilling enough adventure for this not to be too much of a problem. Equally commendable is that, contrary to the previous week's string of set pieces, this is a narrative driven by the Doctor and Clara, his clever ideas and her problem solving linking scenes efficiently - even if his ideas aren't always approved of by the rest of the gang...

​What really makes this episode interesting is its central question. "Am I a good man?" the Doctor asks Clara, still suffering from post-regeneration uncertainty and confused by the possibility of a Dalek turned good. Throughout the episode, we're repeatedly faced with the brutal side of this Doctor, the side only rarely seen in Matt Smith or David Tennant's incarnations - letting a soldier die and joking about it, reprimanding Journey Blue for bad manners immediately after her brother's death - all leading up to the final confrontation with Rusty, who finds true 'beauty' in the Doctor - his hatred of the Daleks. He thinks it was his initial trip to Skaro that shaped him into the noble hateless adventurer, but this actually planted the seeds of hatred inside him. He's fought so strongly on the side of what he sees as good, fair, liberal values that he's become anything but fair and liberal. "Prejudiced", Clara calls him. A hatred of hatred. Deep. It's a fascinating interrogation of the character, and Capaldi inhabits these dark tones magnificently, plus there's a nice link back to Asylum of the Daleks in Rusty's conflation of beauty and hatred. 

​But this Doctor isn't all darkness - he has some very funny lines. Well, darkly funny...

​"Keep breathing normally during the miniaturisation process."
​"Ever microwaved a lasagne without breaking the film on top?"
"It explodes."
"Don't be lasagne."

​"We're not babysitters, we're here to shoot you if you turn out to be a Dalek spy."
​"Oh, that's a relief, I hate babysitters."

​Ooh, that's another link to hatred there. Hadn't noticed it until I finished typing it out. But if there's one group the Doctor takes against more than babysitters, it's soldiers. Despite her coming around to his point of view throughout their adventure, the Doctor refuses to let Zawe Ashton's Journey travel with him. Because she's a soldier. (I do think the fact she wants to travel with him needed to be seeded more - a scene of Clara describing life with the Doctor to her, maybe.) The man who fought in the Time War and has wiped out countless Daleks hates soldiers - another manifestation of the great, dark contradiction at the heart of this character, between the warrior he is and the Doctor he promised to be.

And so it's appropriate that this episode saw the first appearance of another soldier - Danny Pink, aka new Rory, now working alongside Clara in Coal Hill School and fast becoming a love interest for her. There are some great ideas here and I'm looking forward to the inevitable confrontation when our grumpy Doctor doesn't approve. It's nice that Clara finally has a character-focused arc - two episodes in and she's already getting much more interesting material than she ever did last series. However, I did think Danny's scenes could have done with some tightening, as they take too much of a time out from the plot. Yes, we can see he's attractive, we don't need the secretary to joke about that three times...

​Nevertheless, Into the Dalek is a rollercoaster of an episode and one of the more interesting recent appearances from the Doctor's arch-nemesis, not because of the pepperpot itself (as Mark Kermode fans will tell you, Jaws isn't about a shark) but because of what it says about the Doctor. The dark, hilarious Capaldi and the increasingly engaging Coleman are becoming a very watchable TARDIS team, and I can't wait to travel with them some more. Even if that does take me to Nottingham...