Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Warping Time

By popular demand...


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I've been covering the NBC time travel series Journeyman for the blog Premium Hollywood (a sister site to Bullz-Eye) since it started last month. Each Tuesday afternoon I basically write up a loose recap of the previous evening's episode. It's been a difficult and challenging endeavor because I'm not used to writing about a series with so little info at my disposal (unlike Doctor Who, in which I've had the luxury of seeing eps repeatedly and way ahead of time).

But I love Journeyman and wonder if others do as well. If so, come to the site every Tuesday and argue, agree or - even better - say the things I'm failing to address, which I'm sure are many.

To make it even simpler, you can just click here and bookmark the URL that directly leads to my Journeyman blogs...although there's plenty of other stuff on Premium Hollywood worth reading and this blog series is far from the cream of their crop.

By the way, anybody else dying to hear a Journey song during one of Dan's '80s excursions? Or did The Sopranos already ruin that gimmick for everyone else?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pleading the Fifth (Doctor)

The BBC has confirmed that Fifth Doctor Peter Davison will be joining Tenth Doc David Tennant for this year's Doctor Who Children in Need Special, which will be screened on Nov. 16th. (The last time they did this was the post-regeneration scene between Billie Piper & Tennant.)

Multiple Doctor stories are special events for Who, even though they're usually full of plot holes and cause big logistical problems for series continuity. This time around Steven Moffat has been given the task of writing the scene, entitled “Time Crash”. There’s no word on the plot, but with Moffat scripting, no matter how short this piece is, it'll no doubt rock the TARDIS.

The first such story, “The Three Doctors”, came around in 1973 to celebrate Who's 10th Anniversary. It's really more like the “The Two ½ Doctors”, as Doctor #1, William Hartnell, was so ill by that point that his appearance was reduced to the actor appearing on a video screen and reading his lines off cue cards. Nevertheless, the verbal sparring between Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee was a delight to behold as was the numerous companions’ reactions to having to deal with two Time Lords: Jo Grant (Katy Manning) was unaware of the Doctor’s regenerative abilities, while The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) and Sgt. Benton (John Levene) had both first met the Doctor in his second incarnation, so for them it was a reunion in addition to being a predicament. The story involves the Time Lord planet Gallifrey being plunged into peril by a renegade Time Lord named Omega, and Docs Two & Three must travel to a universe made of anti-matter to stop him. It’s a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes, but much of the production looks cheap compared to many of the stories of the era and the less said about Omega’s anti-matter blob monsters the better.

For the show’s 20th Anniversary, producer John Nathan-Turner unveiled “The Five Doctors”…which was really more like “The Three Doctors” (not the story mentioned above). William Hartnell had passed away ages before, so Nathan-Turner hired Richard Hurndall to play the First Doctor. Granted, Hurndall looked enough like Hartnell and played the part fairly well…but ultimately there was no substitute for the real deal. Next problem? Tom Baker (Doc #4) opted not to take part in the special, which led to script revisions and the Fouth Doctor’s presence reduced to a couple recycled scenes from his never-completed story “Shada”.

So this left Troughton, Pertwee and the then current Doctor, Davison, as the only “real” Doctors in the five Doc celebration. Luckily the story also brought back companions/actors from every era of the series as well as a number of villains. Again the story revolves around Gallifrey, only this time the bulk of the action takes place on the planet itself as the various Doctors and companions scramble around trying to figure out why they’ve all been brought there. It’s a goofy story with a threadbare plot meant as nothing more than a excuse to bring all these elements together for 90 minutes. If you’re looking for good storytelling you won’t find it here, but slickly produced nostalgia runneth amuck.

In 1985, Nathan-Turner again produced a multi-Doc tale entitled “The Two Doctors”, and this time, thankfully, there are two Docs on hand -- no more, no less. Patrick Troughton returned yet again for this lengthy story (3 episodes at 45 min. each) that reunited him with Frazer Hines’ Jamie McCrimmon and introduced him to Sixth Doc Colin Baker and his companion Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant). The story pokes a few holes in Who continuity, but is mostly an engaging yarn involving genetic manipulation, crossed time streams and humans as food (yes, you read that right) as well as a fair amount of location work in Seville. The Docs are kept apart for the bulk of the story and don’t actually meet until Episode Three, but when they do the pair get on like a TARDIS on fire and Troughton, aside from a grayer mop of hair, seems as if he never left the role. If you want to bask in a fun meeting of Doctors, this is the most engaging entry of the three.

The last time various Docs appeared in the same story was in 1993’s “Dimensions in Time”, which, like the upcoming special, was done for Children in Need. It’s quite frankly a dreadful two-part bit of nonsense that runs of all of 13 minutes and crams as many classic elements into that time frame. Moffat should have no problem topping the “Dimensions” script and the production team should find it just as easy to outdo the last multi-Doc entry. Davison looks great in the publicity shots, given that he last played the Doctor on-screen in 1984 when he was 33 – a younger man than Tennant is currently. Today Davison is 56 years young and while his hairline may have receded slightly and voice become somewhat more gravelly, he’ll no doubt do as wonderful a job at convincing viewers that he’s still the Doctor, as Troughton did back in ’85.

Discover Peter Davison as the Doctor for yourself by checking out either “Earthshock” or “The Caves of Androzani” (his final outing) on R1 DVD. Two new Davison-era DVDs will be hitting shelves on Nov. 6th – “Time-Flight” and “Arc of Infinity” (which saw the return of Omega from “The Three Doctors”). All three of the aforementioned multi-Doc stories are also available on R1 DVD.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Criminal Minds - The Second Season

CBS has, in recent years, been incredibly successful with its crime shows, so unless that’s your kind of thing, it’d be easy to write off Criminal Minds as just another one of the pack. Crime procedurals aren’t my bag by a mile, and yet there’s something about Criminal Minds that fascinates. It centers on the Behavioral Analysis Unit (the “BAU”) of the FBI, and each week it’s their job to get inside the heads of unsavory criminal types and stop them before they strike again…which often doesn’t happen, as many a death occurs on their watch before apprehending or taking out the “unsub.” The easiest way to describe it is as the TV series version of Silence of the Lambs, and it’s almost as grisly.

Read the rest of the gory details over at Bullz-Eye by clicking here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Biggest Finish Yet

There are a lot of things to admire about Doctor Who’s audacious third season finale, “Last of the Time Lords." There are also quite a few things that many seem to hate. I’d argue that the episode's greatest strength resides in its central villain, the Master (John Simm). For the first time in three seasons, the story ends not with the Doctor battling a race of robotic soldiers, but rather with him squaring off against one man with a face and a personality...and that one man is one twisted bastard.

Read the rest of this piece by clicking here to chain yourself up at The House Next Door.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sontaran Redux

The official Doctor Who website has confirmed the return of the Sontarans for Series Four. This is very cool news.

Forget the Daleks and the Cybermen - I've always been a slave to the Sontarans. It's a peculiar love because they only ever appeared in four stories and only one of those stories deserves the label of great: "The Time Warrior", which was also their introductory story, as well as being the tale that introduced a certain Sarah Jane Smith. (Although I do have a great deal of affection for the flawed yet entertaining "The Two Doctors", which marked the Sontarans final screen appearance.)

The thing I always liked about the Sontarans was that unlike the pepperpots and silver beasties, they had personality (mildly odd for a race of clone warriors). They were always pissed off and defending their honor. As with all of the returning baddies to the new series, I'm sure RTD & his cohorts have something revisionist in mind for these guys, but hopefully they retain their Grimace-like look alongside their inherent pissed-offness. They're off to an interesting start with the casting of Christopher Ryan as the Sontaran leader. Most cool people remember Ryan as Mike from The Young Ones.

Me? Not so much because I'm so uncool and was never a big Young Ones fan. He always amused me most as Marshall, Edina's first husband in Absolutely Fabulous, who was always hopelessly clueless and endlessly chasing some nebulous Hollywood deal. Ryan's an odd choice for this part since he's mostly thought of as a comic talent, but I look forward to seeing what he's gonna do with it. It says a lot that they've cast an "actor" rather than a guy to fit inside a costume.

Boston Legal - Season Three

James Spader, much to the ire of Sopranos fans (and to the surprise of Spader himself), just won his third Emmy for portraying defense attorney Alan Shore. I’ve been a Spader fan since Pretty in Pink, turning fanatic circa sex, lies and videotape, but due to a loathing for creator David E. Kelley’s Ally McBeal, I never gave Boston Legal much of a chance ‘til this DVD set. Whether James S. or James G. deserved the Emmy is worth debating (I could have the argument with myself), but based on the 24 episodes presented here, Spader definitely delivered an Emmy-worthy season of performances. Now I can stop bitching about his need to return to his movie roots and enjoy his work on Boston Legal’s upcoming season.

To read the rest of my review of the Boston Legal Season Three DVD set, click here and visit Bullz-Eye.