Theatre reviews

Review: Under the Blue Sky

Under the Blue Sky

Where: Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London

When: 7.45pm Mondays-Saturdays, 3pm matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays. Runs for 10 weeks from the 15th July 2008

How long: One and half hours without interval

How much: £15-£47.50 (includes £1 restoration levy)

Tickets from: 0870 060 6623 (+£3), Ticketmaster (+£3) or www.theambassadors.com (-£1.50/ticket on top three price bands)

Yes, I’m back. It’s me, “Easily swayed into going to the theatre by famous TV casts” man. How you doing?

This time, I went to see Catherine Tate (Doctor Who, The Catherine Tate Show), Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) and Francesca Annis (Between The Lines, Dune and Krull – she’s been in better stuff, too, but the last two amused me) in some sort of play or something about teachers behaving badly.

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UK TV

Third-series nu-Who re-evaluation

Last of the Time Lords

The block-viewing of Doctor Who continues again (interspersed with Top Gear and Australia’s Next Top Model) and we’ve now reached the end of series three.

Yet more notes on the episodes. Do you agree or disagree? And have you seen the episodes recently enough that your memory isn’t cheating? – because it does, you know…

  • The first half of the series is nearly unwatchable. Oh my. In my wife’s words, “This must have been why I stopped watching the Martha episodes”. Although…
  • The Shakespeare Code was quite good, even though it makes Gareth Roberts look like a one-trick pony in retrospect, thanks to The Unicorn and the Wasp – he’s clearly not, if you’ve seen/read his other stuff, particularly on The Sarah Jane Adventures, so that’s unfortunate
  • If you even try to watch Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks more than once, you need locking up. I’m closing the cell door on myself right now because I clearly can’t be trusted to learn from experience…
  • The Human Nature/Family of Blood two-parter is great in almost every respect, although the first part is too much set-up for part two to be truly perfect. I wish every story ended with the Doctor being mentally nasty to the bad guys like that
  • Blink makes even less sense watching it the second time round and has more holes in it than that house, after it’s had a brick lobbed through the front window. But, it’s still very good
  • Despite what everyone says, the Master trilogy is magnificent, and Last of the Time Lords‘s deus ex machina resurrection is still disappointing, even if you can buy Stu_N’s master plan explanation
  • Bless her, at least Sweet FA was trying to act in series three
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Wednesday’s murderous puffins news

Doctor Who

  • John Barrowman and Naoko Mori sing “The Last NIght of the World” at Comic-Con
  • Twist for Christmas special? (spoiler alert)

Film

  • Jack White and Alicia Keys writing the Quantum of Solace theme
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince trailer
  • Marvin the Martian being developed into a feature
  • Johnny Depp to play the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland?
  • Guillermo del Toro to produce remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Art

  • Damien Hirst auction to fetch more than £65m

Theatre

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Audio and radio play reviews

Review: Sapphire and Steel – Zero

Sapphire and Steel - ZeroIf you’ve spent enough time reviewing the Big Finish plays as I have, sooner or later you begin to ask yourself the question "What’s the point?" To put it bluntly, there’s more than a few that have been complete rubbish. There are entire ranges that are almost pure rubbish, such as the Eighth Doctor/Lucie Miller plays and the Sapphire and Steel range. So what’s the point in spending time listening to them and reviewing them if all you’re going to end up doing is variants on "Oh my God, why?" There are more constructive things to do with your life.

The answer is simple. As well as regularly turning up plays that can be described as not bad, sooner or later, you hit upon ones that can only be described as excellent. And then I get to tell you about them.

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here: it’s the first excellent Big Finish Sapphire and Steel play, Zero. Except it’s Gold and Silver who have been assigned this time.

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US TV

Review: Mad Men 2×1



 

In the US: Sundays, AMC, 10pm/9c
In the UK: Acquired by BBC4 to air in 2009

Mad Men was something of a surprise for everyone when its first season arrived. Not only was it made by AMC, a network not really known for much – certainly not original dramas – it was very good indeed.

A period piece about Madison Avenue advertising men of the early 60s, it was stylish, clever and eye-opening, and spent considerable time demonstrating how much attitudes to just about everything have changed.

Unsurprisingly, it won a whole raft of awards. Now, here comes the second season, with much to prove. Yet set two years on, it’s appropriately relaxed and cool – it has nothing to prove.

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