14 October 2017
07 October 2017
04 October 2017
02 October 2017
58 people are still dead, their families are in mourning. They should be in our thoughts tonight... and we should work out how to prevent more things like this from happening.
22 September 2017
If not, there is always the delete button...
21 September 2017
In this post, I will be covering some of the other things that I saw when I was in Berlin last September.
Let's just say that on the Saturday that I visited Innotrans, my legs ended up very sore and I broke my personal step record by quite some margin.
Closed since 2008, the former main airport of West Berlin is now a large park area. The main terminal area itself is not open to the public, but is planned to be part of a large museum from 2018. It's pretty rare to find such a major aviation facility in a city centre that's for sure.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station)
The new central rail hub of Berlin, opened in 2006, this five-storey facility hosts services that go as far as away as Moscow and is one of the best stations in Europe architecturally. The layout is much better than St. Pancras and the 'spotting' is truly superb, with a brilliant array of rolling stock and locomotive power on display.
It is common place for non-multiple unit international trains to formed of coaches from more than one country; they are designed to work together pretty easily and this blue coach is a Hungarian one, for use on a Euro Night sleeper train going from Berlin to Vienna via Prague and Brno, with through coaches to Budapest. A through coach is a carriage that is uncoupled from one train and attached to another; the Orient Express of old comprised many of these.
From the same train, a Czech carriage.
With a German locomotive hauling a train of Russian sleeper cars and a Polish restaurant car, this service is an example of international rail cooperation; services like this ran during the height of the Cold War, although the East German border guards often caused considerable hold-ups...
The Palace of Tears
Speaking of considerable hold-ups, Berlin Friedrichstraße station was once a major stopping point on the international trains, although is now only served by regional trains and the U-Bahn.
When the Berlin Wall was up, this station served as the rail arrival point for East Berlin; people coming for visits (say West Berliners visiting relatives) would have to go through a fairly intense series of checks to enter the GDR and also when they were going out; the queues could be very long and there were over 100 cases of people dying there, mostly from heart attacks.
In addition, West Berlin U-Bahn and the S-Bahn trains from the West (operated by the East Germans until 1984) stopped at the station and one could shop for reduced price Western goods at the Intershop duty free establishment without going through GDR checks... although West Berlin police might be waiting on the other side.
The "exit hall", which is now a museum, became known as the Palace of Tears due to the large number of goodbyes that were said just outside it. It houses an array of exhibits linked to the GDR border regime, including the original wooden passport booths used.
You can step inside these and go out the other side; when I did so, I was immediately reminded of the game Papers, Please.
Well worth a visit.
Home to the German legislature, this rebuilt (after of course being gutted in the 1933 fire used by Hitler to assume total power) structure has been suitably updated to modern times, with a glass dome accessible by a long ramp, a general emphasis on environmentalism and the ability to look down into the Bundestag chamber from said dome, although not to drop Union Jack flags into it if you were so inclined. You need to apply in advance to visit this and go through the standard security checks; there are guided tours in English, but not at the time that I went, which was a Monday evening.
11 September 2017
29 August 2017
18 August 2017
03 August 2017
16 July 2017
11 July 2017
09 July 2017
Also, Wikimedia has over 300 photos here including many interior shots from the non-public days.
The bi-mode version of the Class 68 (which operates Chiltern's very nice loco-hauled service), the Class 88 aka the Vossloh Euro Dual is a mixed traffic locomotive designed to haul both freight and passenger stock. These are capable of 100mph operations and will probably be pretty popular for charter services. Class 47s and 86s may have character, but when you're paying several hundred a ticket, you want something with a couple of million less miles on the clock.
I believe this is a Newag Dragon locomotive built in Poland for the Freightliner Group - which is the privatised version of the old British Rail freight transport business. Powered by electricity, I think this also has a diesel engine for 'last mile' operations as overhead wires don't tend to mix very well with freight yards.
This old German steam locomotive called Emma, built in 1925 was travelling back and forth, being available for cab rides. The queue was rather long, so I choose to skip this.
Electric Multiple Units
This is an 36WE unit, built by Neweg of Poland for Przewozy Regionalne, the regional operator operator formed when PKP was broken up (as a result of EU regulations) and now owned by the regional governments. These are three car units, capable of operating at 100mph and are part of the Impuls family.
An interior shot can be found here.
In terms of food, there were various stalls selling that, but I seem to recall that they were all rather expensive and not exactly a full filling meal. I certainly didn't have lunch there, that's for sure.
I had planned to stay the entire day, but in the end, I was only there for just under two hours before I had pretty much exhausted everything that there was for me to do there - I am far too old for children's rides, that's for sure. Not being able to see the interior displays or that many train interiors was somewhat disappointing, but I did get to see a lot of railway stuff I don't normally get to see.
The admission fee, which was either three or six euros, was enough to cover the time that I was there. If this had been the sole reason that I came to Berlin, it would have been a big disappointment, but there were many other experiences for me to have...
This will be covered in Part Three.
03 July 2017
02 July 2017
01 July 2017
More of an emotional episode than an action one, this very much gives some good closure to many of the characters, while leaving the door open for returns. The Cybermen are again great here and there's some nice tying together of all the different origin stories, so to speak. Capaldi's Doctor is a bit moany through much of this, but as a way to 'die' – although he hasn't quite gone yet – it's a superb one. Two Masters were pretty good fun, but not as much as it could have been.
Another great ending though; Christmas will be very interesting indeed.
29 June 2017
This review is later than usual as I've been away in Vienna, Austria and was unable to watch the episode until today. I made sure that I avoided spoilers though.
As we heard towards the end of Steven Moffat's time as show runner, this episode frankly knocks it out of the park. As well as great acting all round – it took me a few minutes to spot one key twist – he's added a whole new level of horror to one of the show's most iconic 'monsters'; going to levels that were only hinted at when RTD handled them.
A brilliant episode from start to finish and next week's finale is something not to be missed.
19 June 2017
17 June 2017
Rona Munro, who wrote the final story of the original run back in 1989 has been away from this show for far too long – her return is a triumph with a great story, a brilliantly realised creature and lots of great gags.
This is also the first story of the 12th Doctor's era to be set in Peter Capaldi's native Scotland and it works really well.
16 June 2017
10 June 2017
A fuller post on this will follow, pending post-poll studies of the actual demographics that turned out. However, some quick thoughts:
- The Conservatives remain in power to all intents and purposes. May got the highest vote share for them since Margaret Thatcher, despite leading a highly inept campaign. It is clear, however, she is not suited to the role of PM and should probably step aside for someone more competent at the top job.
- Labour did much better than expected, but whether this was down to Corbyn or despite him remains to be studied. He has taken Labour a good deal of the way there, but he may not be the person to take them back into power.
- The Lib Dems are irrelevant now. Nick Clegg's decision to go for full coalition instead of confidence and supply has cost his party dear; he has now paid with his own seat.
- The SNP are badly battered but still there – the next Scottish Parliament elections will be very interesting.
- The DUP... well, we're all going to be paying a lot more attention to Northern Ireland now, that's for sure.
Got to say that I didn't enjoy that one at all. Looked great, but the guest characters were all very broad stereotypes, the plot twists were silly (dropping one big one without warning suggested something important got lost in the edit) and the new Ice Warriors weapon seems like an excuse for the effects people to show off..
Also, that was one of the most out of left field reappearances by a character I've ever seen. I didn't even know that voice actor was still alive...
09 June 2017
08 June 2017
04 June 2017
03 June 2017
A strong episode, with Capaldi at his cold best... also, a very different episode for Missy... There were certain elements I wasn't overly keen on though, with the resolution being a bit too 'Power of Love' for my taste.
Great central idea, could have been executed (no pun intended) a bit better.
01 June 2017
31 May 2017
- CBS did their usual bulk early renewal.
- Designated Survivor, a superb show, was a natural candidate (no pun intended) for renewal. Agents of SHIELD less so, but it must have its fans in the upper management.
- Timeless getting axed was sad, but no surprise as it had middling ratings. Getting reprieved three days later was a huge surprise. The show will almost certainly be a summer one and hopefully it will get two or three more runs - it's a fun show, even if a bit silly at times. Hey, so is Doctor Who.
- The CW's DC based shows continue to do well - Legends of Tomorrow is great and the episodes of the other shows that I've watched relating to crossovers are fun as well.
- Conviction failed and failed big time. Hayley Atwell will probably be moving back to the UK soon; you don't really get a third chance to crack the US. I think the 10pm slot on Mondays for ABC may become a "cursed one", but we shall see.
- Powerless didn't even get to conclude its run before being yanked, which is a huge failure for a DC based show.
- A major drop in the number of new shows this year; the pilots may have been really bad...
- Star Trek: Discovery looks visually epic and I definitely plan to watch it, but the proof of the pudding remains in the eating.
- The Orville, Seth MacFarlane's spoof space drama looks like it could be a lot of silly fun and I definitely plan to do that.
- Think I'll pass on The Gifted. Amy Acker is a brilliant actor, but she alone does not a series make and I prefer my comic book shows with some good jokes.
- Also Valor looks too 'angsty' for my taste.
- NBC have again geo-blocked their trailers... Sarah Shahi has got her own show with Dennis Haysbert, but it remains to be clear whether it will be a Shaw-fire hit or if it will be time to Palmer off in May... with that awful pun, I'm done.
27 May 2017
An episode with an epic scope and yet still relatively small-scale, this features one of the best plots we've seen in a good while with a great cliff-hanger. The special effects are also great and it's really good to see an actor with dwarfism playing a human instead of an alien.
Next week looks really interesting, even if a bit of a remake of "The Last of the Time Lords", which was nearly a decade ago now!
26 May 2017
23 May 2017
21 May 2017
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.
18 May 2017
17 May 2017
14 May 2017
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.
13 May 2017
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.
08 May 2017
|Some of the detonations|
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
Faslane (Naval base)
RAF Fylingdales (Early warning radar)
RAF Lakenheath (USAF)
London (10 Downing Street to be precise)
RAF Menwith Hill (US/UK intelligence and communications facility)
Plymouth (Naval base)
Porton Down (Chemical Weapons)
Portsmouth (Naval base)
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
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.
03 May 2017
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.
29 April 2017
27 April 2017
24 April 2017
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.
22 April 2017
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...
19 April 2017
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...
18 April 2017
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
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.