Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Doctor Who - The Big Bang (Series Five, Episode Thirteen). As anticipated, the second half of series five's finale didn't live up to the expectations sparked by The Pandorica Opens. An episode mostly enjoyable though, thanks to an amazing Matt Smith one man show and some other elements.

American illusionist David Blaine will surely order a Time Vortex Manipulator and a sonic screwdriver. They'll be useful the next time he'll try to get out of something. And we can bet Pandoricas will replace street defibrilators once the problems of size and volume will be resolved. Even science fiction cannot justify all this surprising self-indulgence from Steven Moffat, who gave us some of the finest hours of the show as a writer. Particularly after the dramatic intensity of The Pandorica Opens's last 20 minutes.

The Big Bang is another low-key episode and another example of a budget arbitration which definitely weighed on all series five's content. It didn't show as much as in Amy's Choice and The Lodger but the last time some characters from a BBC Worldwide franchise chased anomalies in a museum things ended up very badly. « Budget cuts are tough: I don't like them, but they force you to be creative, » explained Moffat to BBC News.

At least the script is a festival of fun one-liners (« Come along, Ponds!», « Hi honey I'm home », etc.) Matt Smith steals the episode with a fez (« Fezes are cool »), a mop and a bedtime story. There are nice ideas: Rory as the devoted centurion who keeps the Pandorica through time, River Song's reputation which apparently terrorizes the Stone Dalek to the point the poor thing screams "Mercy!" Steven Moffat must have an issue with Daleks (remember The Curse of Fatal Death).

The story arc's resolution is unconvincing and deliberately partial as it seems that it will continue with series six. Moffat reinvented Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with absolute genius but is Doctor Who the right vehicle for a "dark fairy tale" approach and an ambitious multi-series high concept story arc? And, finally, will Steven Moffat have a budget decent enough to fulfill his narrative ambitions past the mandatorily lavish Orient Express Christmas special? To start the Moffat/Smith era with a story arc around "cracks" could be retrospectively ironic.

The Big Bang is an enjoyable but uneven conclusion to an overall entertaining fifth series which reinstalled the franchise, in a spirit of invention and tradition, after an almost two-year hiatus between series four and five. And revealed to a global audience the talents of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and even the young Caitlin Blackwood.

See also:

Saturday, 26 June 2010


[15.51 - French Time] Yesterday evening The Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab had its grand opening.

« When you die, the voice you hear in Heaven is not Don's. It's God trying to sound like Don. » (Ashton Smith)

The lab, located at the nonprofit Screen Actors Guild Foundation's Actors Center on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, honors late voice-over artist Don LaFontaine. LaFontaine, who died in September 2008, provided voice-overs for an estimated 5,000 movie trailers. He was the inventor of the modern trailer and the influence of his work goes beyond the movie industry, as contemporary advertising borrows a lot to the standards he established in more than 40 years.

The Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab is a fully-equipped sound studio which will allow actors to work on voice-over craft, demos and auditions while classroom space will host workshops, seminars and demonstrations led by experts in the field.

Some years ago your humble servant had the luck and the privilege to interview Don LaFontaine. He was a gentleman and a class act.

See also:

Friday, 25 June 2010


[17.08 - French Time] Patrick McGoohan will be back this summer as Number 6 on French and German TV screens simultaneously.

From July 24 to August 28, Franco-German channel Arte will run ITC Entertainment's cult classic The Prisoner (1967) in its Summer of the Sixties season.

For Germany this is an event as four episodes of Nummer 6, neither dubbed nor shown by ZDF in 1969, will be aired for the first time with a German dubbing made for the occasion: Free For All, The Schizoid Man, A Change Of Mind and Living In Harmony.

In The Prisoner, McGoohan (co-creator and producer of the show) was a secret agent taken against his will to The Village, a mysterious place whose its inhabitants are called only by a number.

Wir sehen uns! (In German) (An excellent website about The Prisoner - In German)

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston proves once again that he's one of the greatest British living actors with Lennon Naked, a beautiful one-off 90-minute drama.

« Are you happy, John? »

Lennon Naked is about John Lennon's transition from Beatle to enduring icon, between 1967 to 1971, under the specific angle of his relationship with his father and its consequences on the artist's life. The film is part of the Fatherhood season on BBC Four, celebrating fatherhood in an historical and contemporary context through documentary, science, drama, and entertainment programmes.

Shot on a shoestring budget in an impressive 18 days, Lennon Naked is not a biopic but a period drama on a son separated from his father at the age of 6 and reunited with him 17 years later. The film is carried by a solid script of Party Animals's creator Robert Jones, a clever direction by Edmund Coulthard (who produces with his company Blast! Films) and a performance of Christopher Eccleston which deserves a BAFTA, no less.

Eccleston manages to evoke vocally and physically John Lennon without trying to impersonate him (the actor is older than Lennon when he died). He incarnates with absolute perfection a man eaten by melancholy, whose search for happiness leads him to burn bridges with his family, his band and his country. An arrogant and selfish genius (« An artist has to destroy as well as create ») who didn't learn from his broken childhood.

Only Japanese artist Yoko Ono brings a beginning of serenity to easily snarky Lennon. Ex-Torchwood regular Naoko Mori's Yoko is delicate and moving, far from the "Dragon Lady" stereotype. Christopher Fairbank plays Alfred "Freddie" Lennon, John's estranged father. The other Beatles are reduced to almost silhouettes but the biggest frustration comes from the formidable but short performance of Rory Kinnear as Brian Epstein, fragile manager of the band.

Lennon Naked stops in September 1971 when Yoko Ono and John Lennon leave Britain for New York, "the Rome of Today". Their plane takes off in the terrible echo of a jounalist's question: « What about your son? »

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


[10.02 - French Time] More about Rise of The Apes, the incoming prequel of Planet of the Apes, on THR.

James Franco plays a scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer’s that is being tested on apes. The test subject named Caesar evolves rapidly, and the hero takes him home to live with him and protects him from other scientists. Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) will play a primatologist and John Lithgow will be the hero's father, who has Alzheimer's.

As if Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (2001) was not enough... Your humble servant will pass on this one. Filming of this movie, directed by Rupert Wyatt, will start this summer and before that James Franco will return to ABC's venerable soap opera General Hospital.

See also:

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


[11.45 - French Time] The first trailer of The Green Hornet has just been released. The movie is directed by Michel Gondry and stars Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz.

Created in 1936 by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker for a radio serial, The Green Hornet is Britt Reid, newspaper editor by day and masked vigilante by night. He fights crime alongside his manservant Kato, who drives The Black Beauty (a car filled with gadgetry). A television series was produced in 1966 for ABC by William Dozier, in the wake of the success of his camp version of Batman (1966-1968). The TV Green Hornet starred Van Williams as Britt Reid and a young Bruce Lee as Kato.

In the 2010 movie from Columbia, Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is the playboy son of newspaper mogul James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). When his father is found dead, circumstances lead Britt to become The Green Hornet and team up with the astonishing Kato. Oscar winner Christoph Waltz plays Chudnofsky, the villain.

With all the cautiousness commanded by what is only a trailer, this first look is interesting and fun to watch. It seems that Rogen's Britt Reid could be Tony Stark's little brother, Jay Chou is an excellent choice for Kato and The Black Beauty is gorgeous and very bondian. Christoph Waltz should be careful to not become the 2000s equivalent of pre-Y&R Eric Braeden (with all my respect to both actors and their respective talents).

The Green Hornet premieres in January 2011.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


[21.48 - French Time] Doctor Who - The Pandorica Opens (Series Five, Episode Twelve).

[Spoiler-free review]

Some friends have concern for the Doctor (Matt Smith) and a very strange message must be delivered to him. As you can't use FedEx for that sort of things, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and our Time Lord get it through a very complicated process and what it reads means troubles - nasty type. This leads them to Stonehenge where hides the sum of all fears.

It's very sad for Stephen Fry that he called Doctor Who "children's TV" ( the week Steven Moffat, one of the most talented contemporary TV writers, delivers the first half of series five's big finale. Timing ist alles...

« Everything that ever hated you is coming here tonight. »

The Pandorica Opens is definitely not "chicken nuggets" but Omelette aux fines herbes television right from the pre-credits sequence with those friends mentioned above, distant in space and time, and a funny lipstick escape. Past credits, director Toby Haynes brings us to big adventure with a splendid horse ride to the settings of Doctor Jones and the Stonehenge Box of Doom.

This is not CBBC or CBeebies either for us or for poor Amy, who has to cope with a ugly "beach head" from a familiar army of ghosts from the Doctor's past. The rest of the episode is as brilliant provided you accept that the Band Aid of villains can form an unholy alliance against what they consider a greater menace than each of them - unless they are manipulated by some shadowy mastermind?

The Pandorica Opens is all adventure, comedy (Matt Smith in an hilarious speech) and tragedy on an epic scale, with a lot of pleasant surprises like the return of handymen you wouldn't like to meet in your local department store. There are some "cracks" in the script but dots from series five story arc are put together in a more natural way than previous episodes were linked to the arc itself.

Will part two match this? As the excellent Simon Brew writes on Den of Geek: « We're used, with Doctor Who, to having great set-ups for finale two-parters now, only for the back end of the story to struggle to measure up. Can Mr Moffat break that curse? » (1). Or like your humble servant wrote it less nicely on Twitter and Facebook: the show has a record in screwing up second parts. But for now, it's top-notch television for gourmets.

Next Time: Silence will fall.

(1) [Spoiler-filled review]

Friday, 18 June 2010


[19.17 - French Time] IFTN (Irish Film & Television Network) has an interesting interview of Robert Quinn, the only Irish director involved with the new series of Primeval, filmed currently in Ireland .

Shooting of series four began on March 22nd and will continue until November 2010. Axed by ITV after series three for financial motives, Primeval was resurrected by an unexpected funding deal last september, for thirteen new episodes split into series four and series five. The new series are produced by Jim Bradley of Impossible Pictures and Rob Walpole for the Irish based Treasure Entertainment, with BBC America, ProSieben and UKTV as co-production partners.

Irish actor Ciarán McMenamin, Irish actress Ruth Kearney and Alexander Siddig (Star Trek Deep Space Nine, 24) join cast members from the previous series Hannah Spearritt, Andrew Lee-Potts, Ben Mansfield and Ben Miller. Laila Rouass will not return as she joined the cast of Spooks.


Doctor Who - The Lodger (Series Five, Episode Eleven). Stranded in Colchester with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) left alone in the TARDIS, the Doctor (Matt Smith) goes undercover and rent a room to Craig Owens (James Corden). Craig is a shy call centre worker who's in love with his colleague Sophie (Daisy Haggard) and have no idea of the strange things which happen in his house.

Filmed in the same episode block as Amy's choice, The Lodger shares with episode seven its director Catherine Morshead. It is written by Gareth Roberts, who based the story on his own 2007 namesake Doctor Who Magazine comic strip. And like Amy's choice it's an excuse to deal with what remained of the budget after the two-parter Silurian adventure or the big finale.

It guest stars the ubiquitous and cringy comedian, actor, writer and TV personality James Corden (Gavin and Stacey) - who started his World Cup chat show on ITV1 the same night! But to the credit of Corden he's a better actor than funnyman or everything else, and the role of the nice bloke didn't require Patrick Stewart's acting skills.

The episode itself looked like a flashforward of series six if the Beeb does more production budget cuts. The next step would be to stick Eleven on Earth with a day job at UNIT like Jon Pertwee. And it's up to poor Matt Smith to carry virtually everything on his shoulders as it seems that the script adapts to Karen Gillan's availability or to production schedule, or to God knows what.

The football scene was exasperating, The Lodger lost your humble servant right in the middle of the match. I don't care that Smith started as a professional footballer. Tom Baker was working on a construction site before Who, imagine the fourth Doctor as Bob the Builder. And the crack gimmick is more contrived than ever.

Next time: The Pandorica Band Aid 2010 concert.

See also:

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


[15.49 - French Time] The Los Angeles Times reports that Russell Crowe is attached to star in a movie remake of The Equalizer.

Aired by CBS from 1985 to 1989, The Equalizer starred British actor Edward Woodward as New York City vigilante Robert McCall. Former spy turned private eye/freelance operative, McCall helped people in dangerous situations. He found his clients through a newspaper ad: "Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer."

Robert Lansing played Control, his former intelligence boss and sometimes employer, and the series was created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. The Equalizer gave Woodward international recognition years after his character of tormented intelligence hitman David Callan made him a star in the UK with Callan (1967-1972).

Should this news be confirmed, Russell Crowe would add to his filmography another character played originally by a stellar British talent, after the lousy US remake of State of Play - where he was the journo played by John Simm in the BBC miniseries.

After The A-Team movie it's so obvious that we don't have enough unneccessary and miscast remakes of 80s cult TV series.

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Doctor Who - Vincent and the Doctor (Series Five, Episode Ten).

What's in a name? Sometimes you combine such talents like, let's say, scriptwriter and novelist Neil Cross (Spooks) and actor Idris Elba (The Wire) and you obtain... nothing. Vincent and The Doctor is penned by Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Four weddings and a Funeral, The boat that rocked, etc) and in spite of all the love we have for his work we were a little suspicious after the fiasco of Amy's choice by Simon Nye (Men behaving badly, Reggie Perrin).

But Curtis's guest stint on Doctor Who is a welcome pause in the story arc formula after the epic but unequal Silurian two-parter. He fits his comedy and sentimental trademarks into an affectionate tribute to one of the greatest painters in the history of art, superbly executed by director Jonny Campbell.

1890, something is disturbing the tranquility of a wheat field and frightening crows while Vincent van Gogh (Tony Curran) is painting the scene. He knows what it is because his sensibility and his fragile state of mind make him the only one to see it. 2010, The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) visit Musée d'Orsay in Paris when the Doctor spots something in The church at Auvers painting which shouldn't be in it and decides that they must have an urgent conversation with the painter.

Vincent and The Doctor is neither a 46-minute biopic nor a documentary about Vincent van Gogh. Filmed mostly in Croatia, like the "Venetian" episode, it condensates key settings and moments of van Gogh's life in magnificent recreations of his works for story locations (Café Terrace at Night, The Bedroom In Arles...) or the sublime Starry Night sequence.

Tony Curran incredibly looks like Vincent van Gogh but incarnates how Richard Curtis feels the man and his art, expressing van Gogh's torments within the limits of a family show. A great character actor like Curran can do wonders with a good TV script, unlike his performance in that dumb Primeval series three episode where he was a medieval knight. And his scenes with Karen Gillan/Amy are fabulous.

Matt Smith has great comedic moments in an unusual understated mode, carefully avoiding to follow the steps of Hugh Grant and Rowan Atkinson. It's all about sense and sensibility here from the start of the episode to the beautiful final scenes in "Musée d'Orsay" (the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff) with Curtis alumnus Bill Nighy uncredited.

Maybe the creature should have remained fully invisible. Curran's van Gogh has a scene where the man fights the monster like Don Quixote fighting windmills. And too bad Richard Curtis had to indulge himself with the idea of the dedication. But Vincent and The Doctor is a masterpiece in its own right, one of the best episodes of series five.

Next time: James Corden. What's in a name?

See also:

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Slow posting this weekend due to minor health troubles.

Thanks for your patience, your fidelity, your trust and your interest.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


From Berg, publishers of the indispensable Visions of England by Paul Dave, comes this definitive and accessible critical history of late twentieth century American science fiction in movies and television.

In American Science Fiction Film and Television, film and media studies specialist Lincoln Geraghty explores one of the most popular genres on the big and small screens through the specificity of American production. And how its themes and trends reflect important historical, sociological and political events or phenomenons in American life, from the Cold War to after 9/11.

The interest of Geraghty's book is double: his work is a relevant analysis of how key moments of modern American history are echoed in essential sci-fi films or television series, and it is also an excellent introduction to on screen science fiction itself. A genre naturally dominated by American production as Hollywood is the leader of the Entertainment industry.

Lincoln Geraghty's developments are punctuated by boxed text critical presentations of aptly chosen movies or series which illustrate his themes: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), Star Trek (1966-1969), Soylent Green (1973), The Matrix (1999), Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009), etc. The author's exploration includes science fiction in 60s spy series or British TV production.

Particularly interesting are the chapter on dystopian Science Fiction, a clever look at Batteries not included (1987), or the emergence of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) with the evolution of the American television industry at the end of the 80s. American Science Fiction Film and Television is built on a huge research work and can be enjoyed by fans, specialists, academics or simply by readers with a curiosity for the genre.

Visions of England:


[6.55 - French Time] Great story by the amazing She Who Must Be Read, aka Nikki Finke of, about the fascinating development nightmare behind The A-Team. The movie adaptation of the classic TV series opens this week in the US and on June 16 in France (right into the FIFA World Cup frenzy).

It's not the laughable but unsurprising number of writers used on this movie (11, including James Bond scribe Bruce Feirstein) which interests Nikki but how a Fox exec handled the project with Jason Bourne, 24 or Tarantino in mind.

And from the last trailer I've seen it still looks like a SNL skit. Too bad there is no Plan B.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


[20.18 - French Time] Scottish actress Ashley Jensen is back on the Beeb years after Extras. The Ugly Betty and Accidentally on purpose actress will star in a new BBC comedy called Accidental Farmer.

Jensen will play a successful London-based ad exec who is cheated by her boyfriend. To get revenge she abuses his credit card and buy, among other things, a run-down farm in Yorkshire. She decides to run it but must deal with some picturesque characters... and a piglet.

Accidental Farmer is exec produced by Jo Sargent and John Yorke for BBC Productions and produced by Ellen Taylor. It's written by Daisy Coulam, directed by Mandie Fletcher and a 60-minute pilot is currently in production for BBC One.


[9.45 - French Time] For now David Tennant will not be you lawyer but he's your vampire expert... Sort of.

THR reports that the former Doctor Who star is joining the cast of Fright Night, the remake of the cult 1985 movie. Tennant will play Peter Vincent, a Las Vegas magician whose show revolves around horror movie imagery and who pretends to be a vampire expert.

In the original the character was the host of a late-night horror TV show and was played brilliantly by Roddy McDowall. In Fright Night, a teen called Charlie (Anton Yelchin) is convinced that his new neighbour (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. He seeks the help of Vincent but the so-called "expert" is an hapless incompetent.

If David Tennant can do more than a goofy version of the Doctor this choice could be interesting.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


[22.40 - French Time] Tonight on BBC News, live from Los Angeles (at 13.30 local time), Torchwood creator and former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies talked about the announced series four of Torchwood. Those 10 new episodes are co-produced by US premium channel Starz Entertainment.

Davies told a (very) little more about the "international flavour" of series four's storylines by explaining that though Torchwood team will be taken to America and some other countries, the show will still be filmed in Wales. He added jokingly that sometimes when he describes this international aspect it sounds like a 60s TV series but the new series will still focus on strong human stories (« It's still about people, really. »)

He confirmed the returns of John Barrowman and Eve Myles, and announced some new UK signings plus American cast members as well. According to him the idea is to have a "culture clash" between Welsh and US characters.

Davies said that Torchwood Series four will be the first drama from BBC Worldwide Productions and that the deal with Starz is "a new way of funding drama".

See also:

Monday, 7 June 2010


[21.46 - French Time] Torchwood will finally get its fourth series, thanks to a partnership between BBC Cymru Wales, BBC Worldwide and US premium entertainment network Starz Entertainment (Spartacus: Blood and Sand).

The 10-episode series will be written by a team led by Torchwood creator Russell T. Davies, produced by BBC Worldwide productions and distributed globally by BBC Worldwide. Russell T. Davies and BBC Worldwide Productions's Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter will exec produce.

John Barrowman (Captain Jack) and Eve Myles (Gwen) will return, along with new cast members and we can suppose some of them could be Americans. According to today's BBC Press release, "while previous series were based on location in Cardiff, Wales, this new instalment will see storylines widen to include locations in the US and around the world." Does that mean that only a minority of episodes will be shot in Wales? What does "around the world" exactly mean?

After American network Fox decided not to pursue a US version of Torchwood, BBC Worldwide said they were in discussion with several interested networks. And Primeval, one of Worldwide's major brands, was resurrected last fall for 13 new episodes with the help of an international partnership. Could Doctor Who follow with a similar deal for its sixth series?

For Torchwood it will be interesting to appreciate the exact financial implication of Starz and see if it does impact the content of the new series like what happened when US cable channel AMC co-produced Hustle, another BBC hit.


[6.35 - French Time] If you're still asking yourself about the shrapnel found by the Doctor at the end of Doctor Who's Silurian two-parter, well we now have the answer: it was a piece of Graham Norton's TARDIS, as the BAFTA Television Awards 2010 host arrived in a blue box last night on BBC One.

Graham Norton knows a great deal about time travel - he also hosts the Eurovision song contest - but the presenter looked a little nervous. Perhaps the London Palladium was the Purgatory and the elite of British TV industry was eager to have a drink at Nelson's pub after the show. Or maybe Norton feared an animated Matt Smith would pop up and ruin one of his jokes.

On the opposite, Simon Cowell had all the reasons to enjoy the ceremony. Not only he received a Special Award but his format Britain's Got Talent (ITV1) won Best Entertainment Programme - amusingly versus The Graham Norton Show (BBC One), and his pals Ant & Dec got Best Entertainment Performance for I'm a Celebrity... (ITV1). The duo delivered the best quips of the evening, with Dec referring to Cowell as "The man who made ITV what it is today: still in business." Too bad they couldn't host those TV BAFTAs.

The other big winner was Armando Iannucci's political comedy The Thick of It (BBC Two) with Best Situation Comedy, Best Female Performance in a Comedy programme for Rebecca Front, Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme for Peter Capaldi. This category was presented by Glee's Sue Sylvester, the talented Jane Lynch, but Glee lost the YouTube Award to The Inbetweeners (E4).

Misfits (E4) won Best Drama Series against Jimmy McGovern's The Street, a tired Spooks and, most surprisingly, Being Human (BBC Three). Best comedy programme and Best factual series went deservedly and respectively to the hilarious Armstrong and Miller Show (BBC One) and the wonderful One Born Every Minute (Channel 4) - whose theme is not Simon Cowell's shows. Another rightfully deserved award was Matthew Macfadyen's Best Supporting Actor for Criminal Justice (BBC One).

Occupation (BBC One) won Best Drama Serial. Julie Walters won Best Leading Actress for Mo (Channel 4) against her clone, who played in A Short Stay In Switzerland (BBC One). Kenneth Branagh got Best Leading Actor for Wallander (BBC One) against John Hurt for An Englishman in New York (ITV1, 2009), the superb sequel of the classic The Naked Civil Servant (1975). Hurt won a TV BAFTA for his portrayal of Quentin Crisp in 1976, it's sad they didn't give him one this year for the same role.

Full list of winners here:,1095,BA.html#jump0

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


[20.51 - French Time] Thank God NBC spared us another pathetic remake of a television classic when they passed the 2010 Rockford Files, starring Dermot Mulroney in the role popularized by James Garner. But for the 2010-2011 season, CBS and the CW stick to their new takes on Hawaii Five-O and Nikita.

We can have an acceptable notion of what these two shows will look like thanks to extended promos widely available. In Hawaii Five-O Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight, Three Rivers) plays Steve McGarrett, a decorated Naval officer who returns to Oahu to investigate his father’s murder. He stays in Hawaii as a cop with his own task force.

The preview shows us basically an action-packed buddy movie, or Hawaiian Heat (a forgotten 1984 cop drama) with explosions and VFX. In January your humble servant wrote that a character like Wo Fat, the recurring archvillain of the original show, seemed unconceivable today in our politically correct world. And when James Marsters was announced as McGarrett's nemesis we supposed that he would rather be a "24 type terrorist mastermind".

Not only it resembles Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980) as much as, let's say, NCIS: Los Angeles looks like NCIS but the questions is: can they afford that every week?

For the new Nikita, its owes more to Alias than to the Luc Besson movie or La Femme Nikita, the TV series. Ironically, Alias was more or less a mainstream LFN and there are now rumours that the J.J. Abrams show could also be remade! For the rest, just watch the trailer and please read what I wrote last month (


Doctor Who - Cold Blood (Series Five, Episode Nine). The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Nasreen (Meera Syal) are in the Silurian city to exchange Alaya (Neve McIntosh) for the human captives, while Amy (Karen Gillan) is the subject of an unsolicited interest in a Silurian lab.


« Perhaps today IS a good day to die. » (Lt. Commander Worf)

The second half of the two-parter written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Ashley Way has an epic feel which compensates some inconsistencies in this subterranean tragedy. The epic is inspired by the Silurian city, with a little help of the creative use of Swansea's Plantasia Botanic Gardens, Cardiff's Temple of Peace and of a few smart light tricks. Should the production pull an Upper Ledworth for the James Corden pre-Grand finale it would not be a surprise after such splendors.

The stunningly beautiful place is a glorious stage taken by the performance of Neve McIntosh who also plays now Alaya's sister, military commander Restac, a true Shakespearean Star Trek villain. McIntosh is given the opportunity to shine twice, when Alaya loses deliberately a Weakest Link round against Ambrose (Nia Roberts), and when Restac appears to Rory (Arthur Darvill), Ambrose and Tony (Robert Pugh) on the computer screen.

The siblings get the best script material compared to scientist Malohkeh (Richard Hope) and Silurian leader Eldane (Stephen Moore). Malohkeh's switch from vivisectionist threat to ally of the Doctor is not fully convincing. Nor is Eldane, who hardly goes past his plot device status after he stops the execution of the Doctor and his Human friends. And the leader's useless voiceover brings nothing more than a nerve racking relapse from The End of Time.

At his best Matt Smith reminds of Peter Davison but the Doctor often acts like a Nobel Peace Price candidate with an annoying pro-Silurian bia. We know from the start that the Loose Women (or The View) sequence passing as a conference will not bring an era of peace and cooperation between the two races: the Silurians have a whole bunch of terracotta warriors hibernating.

We also know from the beginning of The Hungry Earth that Rory wears a D.O.A. tag on his head, which is too bad as he's one of the most interesting companions in years and deserved better than a panto South Park demise. But Darvill nails it with his « I don't understand. We were on the hill », and the idea that there are fates worse than death (see The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone) makes Amy's grief twice more touching.

Overall an enjoyable episode despite the script flaws and the fact that 45 minutes are not enough to fulfill all the ambitions of the story. Perhaps Doctor Who should consider a return to the serial formula and drop the contrived high concept story arcs. Anyway we should be grateful that the Eurovision song contest didn't interrupt the course of the series. Is the shrapnel found by the Doctor in the crack the result of another Graham Norton attempt?

See also: