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January 2, 2008

Review: Doctor Who - The Girl Who Never Was

Posted on January 2, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Girl Who Never Was (Doctor Who)

Ah Charley. How we'll miss you. Well, assuming we've not been listening to any of your stories since the Divergent Universe disaster.

When Big Finish was starting up and figured it could invent a few new companions of its own, Charley was the only one of the new companions who could be described as good or popular (sorry Evelyn and Erimem fans). Enthusiastic, actually wanting to travel with the Doctor for a change and with a good chemistry with the eighth Doctor, she made even the cruddier stories tolerable. We also were treated to a precursor to the Rose/Doctor romance that was tastefully done and with a near-adult depth that the onscreen equivalent would be sorely lacking.

Then C'rizz turned up, the writers forgot how to write for Charley, the romance wasn't so much nipped in the bud as snapped off at the root without any real explanation and the best companion of the Big Finish range quickly became a next generation Tegan or Adric.

As people have been surmising since Sheridan Smith landed the BBC7 companion gig, Charley's days have been numbered for quite some time. Following the departure of C'rubbish in Absolution, we now have Charley's swansong in The Girl Who Never Was. Written by her creator, Alan Barnes, it gives us more than a few reminders of why she was once so good as well as few bemusing moments that I will now coin a new adjective to describe: Bigfinishian.

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December 21, 2007

Preview: Swingtown

Posted on December 21, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Swingtown

In the US: CBS mid-season replacement. No fixed airdate yet
In the UK: Acquired by ITV1/ITV3. No fixed airdate yet

There's an odd trend of late on US TV. No, not the hiring of British actors for just about every TV series (are we cheaper than Americans, I wonder?), although you'll see that on display here, too (Jack Davenport!!!). I mean the recreating of modern times past to examine the change in social attitudes. Whether it's just that everyone's been watching Life on Mars or there's something deeper at work, I don't know. But what with Journeyman diving off into the 70s and 80s at a moment's notice, Mad Men recreating the early 60s in minute detail, and now Swingtown trying to capture the magic (?) of the 1970s' wife-swapping parties, it's clear a certain amount of historical navel gazing is part of the US networks' current plans for the world of entertainment.

There are a few problems with Swingtown, however, that separate it from the glorious Mad Men and the thoughtful Journeyman. Not the least of these is the fact it is all about wild, promiscuous sex and yet it's very, very boring.

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December 20, 2007

Season finale: Dexter

Posted on December 20, 2007 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Dexter finale

Of all the books and of all the networks to adapt them, Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Showtime seemed the combination least likely to produce decent television. Darkly Dreaming Dexter is pretty rubbish, a piece of poorly written slasher fiction about a serial killer who improbably only kills other bad people. Showtime, in turn, was synonymous with nothing at all apart from not being HBO, the cable home of quality shows like The Wire.

Yet Dexter turned out to be one of the best shows of last year. Clever, well written, well directed, tense, unpredictable and with an incredible performance by Michael C Hall, it and other shows have now made HBO look like the also-rans and Showtime the home of quality, edgy TV.

So hopes were high for season two. Could the producers who had made this break-out hit strike again and maintain the quality after such a strong opening?

Initially, I was a little worried. The first two episodes of the second season were good, but not outstanding and the changes in format suggested that the second season could be something of a let-down.

Fortunately, it turned out to be even better.

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