21 May 2017

Doctor Who: Extremis

Explaining just what the Doctor has in that vault, this is a very dark episode, literally and metaphorically. The pay-off when it arrives makes the journey worthwhile, but if we're being honest, it's a bit of a slog at times.

 

There's some good humour (although it's rather limited) and the performances are again stellar, but there have been much better Steven Moffat episodes over the years.

 

What this does do is set up the next episode and kick things up a gear... what happens next will be very interesting.

 

7/10

18 May 2017

Chris Connell 1964-2017

A tragic loss, especially as he killed himself. "You Know My Name", the theme to Casino Royale, is one of my favourite songs and a superb Bond theme.

Rest in Peace.

17 May 2017

All The President's Men 2: Electric Trumpaloo

With the latest reports from the New York Times, it seems we are getting ever closer to Donald Trump getting impeached. 

I don't know if it will happen but the idea of him doing the perp walk makes me rather happy inside.

14 May 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Land That Time Forgot

This 1974 fantasy movie based on the 1924 novel is not a bad film, but it is definitely cheesy and the imperialist overtones of the original work are pretty clear to see. The most memorable character for me is Dietz, played with relish by Anthony Ainley, who later played the Master in Doctor Who against Doctors Four through Seven.

 

I have to say that while this episode (which I watched in two parts separated by over a week) was enjoyable, it doesn't stick in the memory like some of the others have. Not bad at all, but certainly not a classic.

 

7/10

13 May 2017

Doctor Who: Oxygen

A strong episode throughout with a strong horror quotient and some very dark humour – especially Velma, the AI voice of the suits. What is basically a lot of corridor action is done very well, although it does get a bit preachy at times.

 

Great ending though... There's a spoilery joke that I won't make.

 

9/10

 

08 May 2017

A limited nuclear attack on the UK - how much damage could it do?

Some of the detonations
 Out of curiosity, I have decided to model using NUKEMAP a 'limited' nuclear strike on my home country, aiming at key military facilities (air and naval) and avoiding cities just for the sake of it, but I will hit Central London for command and control purposes.

For ease of calculation, I will be limiting this to Topol/SS-25 ICBMs at 800kt each, going off 1000 metres above their targets - this does more damage, but produces less fallout. This will just cover the initial attack - not fallout, which is very much weather dependent.

The targets are: 

Aldermaston (nuclear bomb construction)

RAF Boulmer (Air Defence control)
RAF Brize Norton
RAF Coningsby

Faslane (Naval base)
RAF Fylingdales (Early warning radar)
RAF Lakenheath (USAF)

London (10 Downing Street to be precise)
RAF Lossiemouth
RAF Marham
RAF Menwith Hill (US/UK intelligence and communications facility) 
Plymouth (Naval base)
Porton Down (Chemical Weapons)
Portsmouth (Naval base)
RAF Waddington


That is 15 ICBMs... Unfortunately, the system keeps resetting itself, but I end up with well over a million dead, mostly those in London, Plymouth and Portsmouth, but other areas will produce thousands of dead. I did not cover army bases, but it is entirely possible that the Russians could eliminate the UK militarily with 30 or so ICBMs.

However, the UK would still have a missile boat out in the North Atlantic with 8 Trident missiles and those could do a lot of damage in return... not to mention all the US boats.

06 May 2017

Doctor Who: Knock Knock

Now that was a nice 'base under siege', or rather 'house under siege' episode with a lot of creepiness throughout and an excellent villain in the form of David Suchet. Bill was again superb.

 

Not overly sure about the resolution, but you can't have everything.

 

9/10

 

 

 

03 May 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Starcrash

Who wrote this dog's breakfast of a movie? It's like someone decided to let a 7 year old plot a science fiction movie... no a 7 year old could do a better job. Plot elements turn up with no notice whatsoever, the acting is atrocious, the effects are ridiculously cheap. There are better movies with Caroline Munro wearing a bikini for no good reason, that's for sure; namely The Spy Who Loved Me, which was not actually scored by John Barry (Marvin Hamlisch did that one), whose music is pretty much the only good thing about this. Also, who calls a character Stella Star? It's almost as bad as Luke Skywalker...

 

Bad movies often make for the best riffing and this is no exception. Servo and Crow – it's very odd seeing the latter standing up on his own legs in the theatre – throw some real zingers, as of course does Joel. I laughed a lot at this, although they did miss a couple of obvious riffs... and I have to say that the riffs do sag a bit in the middle of the film.

 

Also, "Live from New York, it's the torpedo sketch!" is a superb line.

 

9/10

29 April 2017

Doctor Who: Thin Ice

Can't say that this one overly struck me; well it certainly held my attention for the whole episode, it didn't exactly thrill me. Bill Potts is proving to be a superb companion and Twelve has got his character down pat. However, the rest of the episode left me cold (pun intended) – there were no real standout guest performances and the street urchins... well, this show has done them a lot better.

Just how many people of colour were there in London in 1814? That's what I'd like to know.

6/10

27 April 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Beast of Hollow Mountain

Much of the movie here is actually a bit boring; the titular beast is not actually seen until the third act. When he does appear, things get massively cheesy. 

The riffing - in which Tom Servo and Crow are now easily distinguishable - starts slowly but is rolling along brilliantly by the end, even going meta.

Another great episode. 

9/10

24 April 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Avalanche

Got to say that this one is the best of the new run so far and may well become a fan favourite. 1970s disaster movies are a rare subject for the show (it did two in the KTMA season) and they're very ripe for riffing, especially this 1978 turkey starring Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow.

The film itself is pretty terrible - Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow have no chemistry, the film takes far too long to get to the actual avalanche and much of it is just over the top.

The riffing however is top notch. I actually got hiccups at the end, where the bots and Jonah start giving the destroyed resort TripAdvisor reviews... Also, the skits were great.

10/10

22 April 2017

Doctor Who: Smile

Not exactly the most original story in the show's history  - the overall plot is one that has been told before, including one more than one occasion by this show itself.

 

That said, it's a highly enjoyable episode, helped particularly by Pearl Mackie who manages to steal scenes from Peter Capaldi on a regular basis – she says the really obvious things that a regular person would say... rather than a science fiction writer would have them say. Bill is taken us on an excellent adventure, If you know what I mean...

 

I'll get me coat...

 

8/10

19 April 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000 11.3: "The Time Travellers"

The 200th episode of the show is an excellent one. The movie itself is suitably of its time (no people of colour at all!) to be a rich target for jokes and they're very good jokes indeed.

 

The skits in the breaks were just as good – in particular the bit involving Rocket Number Nine's welcome return...

 

Near perfect.

 

10/10

 

Mystery Science Theater 3000 11.2: Cry Wilderness

A very strange movie but (or rather and) the riffing is consistently solid throughout. A lot of laughs to be had.

Not as good as the previous episode (no memorable song) but still great fun.

8/10

18 April 2017

General Election called for Thursday 8 June

Well, that was a surprise. Although it is clear from the polls why Theresa May has decided to call one.

 

I'm probably going to end up voting for the Lib Dems – I live in a safe Tory seat anyway. I can't vote for Labour, not now. I hope that the likely mullering it faces saves the party in the long term as they'll have tried the same thing three times (running on a hard-left platform) and failed every time.

 

But Hope is a place in Arkansas...

 

Anyway, it's on like Donkey Kong. Prepare yourself for seven weeks of British election campaigning...

 

15 April 2017

Doctor Who: The Pilot

I am going to be doing mini-reviews of the current run of this show – as well as the new Star Trek series and Mystery Science Theater 3000 from the second episode on. I will try to do them shortly after I've watched them so impressions are fresh in my minds and I'm not too swayed by others.

 

Took a little while to get going this – 50 minutes was arguably too long for the episode. However, once it did get going, it was very good. Bill is a different sort of companion in that she asks the obvious questions that others haven't always asked in the past. Also, they're very upfront about her being a lesbian, aren't they?

 

A lot of good humour and the Doctor-Bill-Nardole team works well. Also, the trailers for next week and onwards look very interesting.

 

7/10

 

12 April 2017

Kumar Chameleon, a Star Citizen story, Episode 4: Rendezvous





Sunita woke up and after dressing, she made her way down to the hotel’s dining room to eat breakfast, where some of the breakfast options gave a whole new meaning to ‘hash brown’, due to the presence of cannabis in them...

After choosing something not laced with unusual mushrooms, Sunita made her way to a meeting with Mary and Daniel, who were getting their entertainment in early at one of the fighting pits. Daniel was dressed in a set of overalls with the name ‘Dharma Mining’ on them and Mary was dressed in a white suit.

“So, where’s this dealer?” Sunita asked. “Donald Hood?”

“Hook”, Mary corrected, “At this time of day, I’d imagine he’d be sleeping. Or playing with his model trains”.

Below them, two Xi’an chained together were trying to avoid becoming dinner for a very large brown bear. This wasn't exactly legal, but legality didn't get very near Spider station.

“Model trains?”

“The guy is well and truly an oddball. Model trains is the least weird thing about him. We’re going to need to figure out which of us will distract him and which of us is going to go through his stuff…”

“Well”, Daniel said, “This is going to sound clichéd and sexist, but as Sunita is the younger one, she’d probably serve as the better distraction”.

“To think Emily Davison threw herself…” Sunita muttered than turned back to Daniel speaking more clearly, “Er… How am I going to distract him? I’m not very good at being all sultry and that”.

“You could talk to him about trains…”

“Do you get many female rail nerds?”

“Well…” Mary said, “I’m sure there are some out there… and I’m sure he’ll be pleased to meet one”.

Donald Hood could be found in a key cutting and general repairs shop located on Deck 3. Quite why he wasn’t more obvious about his actual business on somewhere like Spider was a mystery. Especially as most firearms shops were far more open about it.

Sunita Kumar opened the door to the shop, which rang a bell at the back of the office. She was dressed to distract with a low-cut tight top over a pair of jeans as her apparel and wearing enough make-up for three beauty product ads.  She hadn’t felt this awkward since senior prom and that was before she’d vomited all over her date’s dinner jacket after too much punch. There’s nothing like a spot of reverse peristalsis to kill your chances of romance.

Looking around ‘Hood’s Ironmongery’, she saw an array of trophies, household items and garden gnomes for sale. She’d known this system was depraved, but garden gnomes was a whole new low. 

Running around the business area, at about 3 metres off the ground was a model railway track, on which a blue locomotive was pulling four blue and white carriages, making occasional horn noises.

The screen door to the rear of the shop opened and Donald Hood emerged, with a tall grey-scaled Tevarin standing just behind him, the latter looking inquisitively at her. Or her cleavage. She wasn’t sure which.

Sunita saw Hood and got the measure of him. He was a man of moderate with fairly short dark blonde hair, pale skin with some red patches by the sides of his nose (apparently some recurrent skin complaint) and small silver glasses on his nose. That was probably his MobiGlas; very few people did not have laser vision correction these days, but there were always exceptions.

“Hello”, he said, “Can I help you at all?”

“Yes”, Sunita said, effecting a low stern voice that she remembered from a villain from a kids’ show when she was younger, “I am looking for a trophy to be engraved for a competition that I am running”.

“Ah, right”, Hood said moving over to the checkout and tapping some items on a screen, “Have you picked the trophy yet?”

“No I was looking for some suggestions”.

“Well, that would depend on what sort of competition that you are running. Some designs are more suitable than others for this sort of thing”.

Sunita paused and managed to suppress her laughter – just – as she told him.

“It’s a tiddlywinks competition”.

Hood didn’t say anything here.

“Is that unusual at all?”

“No, not at all”, Hood said, “I’ve done considerably stranger in my time. Let me go and look at my catalogue… I’ll be right back”.

Sunita considered this… and figured that having him go in the back was not a good idea. Especially if Mary was in there.

“There’s no rush…” she said flirtingly and looked up at the ceiling, “What’s that model train going around the track? It looks very nice”.

Hood was beaming at this. He didn’t often get the chance to talk about it; especially to a pretty lady…

“That is a train all the way back from pre-space Earth… it’s called a British Rail Class 31…”

Mary had considered wiring Sunita for sound and speaking to her directly, but the risk of the equipment getting detected coupled, with the possible consequences of that, had led to a decision not to.

She had made her way to the service corridor at the rear of Hood’s Ironmongery and three minutes after Sunita had entered the shop, she began to pick the lock at the rear door.

“So, while it wasn’t exactly the most glamorous locomotive about, it was very much a workhorse for its railway at the time. I think it’s like me. Not exactly glamorous, but a hard working horse”, Hood said, “I can order a copy of your own if you want…”

She looked at him.

“I’ll think about that… now about that tiddlywinks trophy…”

She heard a faint rattling and out of the corner of her eye she could see Mary starting to work the door handle… she needed a major distraction.

Sorry to all the feminists…

She leaned in and suddenly kissed Hood full on the lips. No tongues of course. After five seconds they separated, Hood’s eyes bulging in shock.

“Wow…” he said as Mary passed through the door and snuck into his office. It would take a minute or so for her to copy the information from his computer… so she needed to distract him for that long, at least…

“Has anyone told you that you’re really sexy”, Sunita said, laying it on with a trowel, “I’d really like to take you on a date and then have wild, wild sex with you…”

She then began to slowly and sensually describe what she intended to do with the shop keeper. Safe to say that it wasn’t the sort of thing that she’d ever say anywhere near her mother and she felt dirty just saying it.

It seemed to have the desired effect; Hood didn’t know whether to be confused or excited.

Mary moved towards the rear door having retrieved the information with a data stick inserted into an access port. She had also had to listen to Sunita’s potty mouthed description. 

That woman is either seriously experienced or possesses a seriously filthy imagination.

She opened the door and stepped out into the alleyway… then saw the Tevarin bodyguard standing barely two metres from her.

“Two words”, he said in English, “Silent alarm”.

Mary gulped slightly. The Tevarin had pulled out a large nasty looking sword and was holding it in one hand.

“Now, you have two options”, he hissed, “You can give me whatever you took from in there or you can discover what it’s like to be decapitated”.

Mary smiled at him.

“Is there a third option?” she said.

“No…”

Well, here goes nothing…

“Look behind you. It’s a three-headed sata-ball player!”

The Tevarin turned and had a look towards his rear… which gave Mary time to turn and run. About five paces. Then the scaled beaky creature tackled her to the ground, turned her over and punched her in the face with his free hand. He pressed the tip of his sword to her throat, drawing a small bit of blood…

“Any last requests, human?” he snarled.

“Er… fish and chips?” Mary said.

“Sorry, not available…”, the Tevarin said and raised his sword ready to strike…

TO BE CONTINUED