The Caretaker premieres in:

Saturday, 20 September 2014

WATCH: Doctor Who Extra: Time Heist Here

WATCH: Doctor Who The Caretaker Next Time Trailer Here

The Preview Review: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 5: Time Heist [Spoiler-Free]

(While this review does not contain major spoilers or specifics, some minor things may be given away. It also draws your attention to hints in the episode. Read at your own discretion.)

This standalone episode, written by Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat, is an incredibly refreshing change and is a territory rarely seen in Doctor Who. In this episode, The Doctor answers a phone call and the duo suddenly find themselves in a dark room with no memory of how they got there, other than that they were summoned by The Architect. Their mission? To rob The Bank of Karabraxos, the most impenetrable bank in the galaxy. It's so impenetrable, they have very few security staff, incredibly big ventilation shafts and rooms and when they do finally get into the vault, there's not a single member of staff there and every box can be opened at will. That feels like a bit of an oversight to me.

But the Doctor and Clara aren't alone. They have the perfect gang to do it. A forever lonely shape-changer, Saibra (played by Pippa Bennett-Warner) and a augmented hacker/bank robber who's lost his heart, Psi (played by Jonathan Bailey) join the cold-hearted Doctor in his adventure. They are up against the villain Ms Delphox, Keeley Hawes, and The Teller, a frightening being who can sense guilt and wipe out their minds. 

Thompson's previous episodes, The Curse of the Black Spot and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, were divisive and hit and miss among the fans of the show. This episode is easily the highlight of his three stories so far. Moffat has also co-written this episode, among several other this series. While RTD rewrote elements of stories written under him, this is quite a rare occurrence for Moffat. Instead, he appears to be keeping a tighter leash this series by co-writing a lot more stories with this being his second out of three stories. This shows clearly, especially in the fact that the pacing of the episode is fast but not rushed, which is a common thread for his standalone stories.

This episode has quite a strange and conflicting tone to it. It feels like a dark episode trying to be a light-hearted romp and while it sometimes pulls it off, this is not always the case, especially later on. Presumably this is down to the director, Douglas MacKinnon, having just directed Listen, which was a dark episode.
The episode has a slightly western feel to the episode with the mixture of 'robbing a bank', camera shots and music. It also feels a little like Smith's era, with constant references to "a thing", and there are connections to The God Complex in particular.

One of the major problems I have with this episode is that there are a couple of mysteries that the episode gives which are far too predictable, something which I can't say often, and while the reveals feel rather cool, I believe it would have worked far better if they were red herrings. This episode is another "don't think about it so you don't spoil it" episode and a theme featured in the ending feels far too similar to an episode from the previous series.

Keeley Hawes plays the villain with great effort but sadly, there isn't much to play on, which could be considered understandable since it is her job, rather than any great evil motive being present. Jonathan Bailey and Pippa Bennett-Warner provide an adequate job, although Bailey's character should have been fleshed out a lot more. We're only given the information needed for the story and not a single hint more. Capaldi is still struggling to keep the Tucker at bay while Coleman is still making excuses for them. Nothing new is added to the dynamic here, which is good since anything more would cause the story to seem very rushed.

While Millennium FX normally do a wonderful job with the prosthetics on Doctor Who, and for nearly the whole episode the Teller is no expection, the final scene unfortunately lets them down massivley by giving off the sense of being far too rubbery and fake in the last scene. Luckily this is at the end and it doesn't matter nearly as much. 

Murray Gold's musical cues feature far more prominently in this episode as opposed to the previous episodes, which works very well to keep the suspense alive since there are multiple extended silent sequences in the episode. 

Finally, a short sidenote. The episode is quite important to a number of fans due to it's evidence of extended universe material being canon, for those who don't believe that. Mid-way through the episode, characters from previous stories were shown on screen. Among these were villains from classic, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures, but most importantly, it contained Abslom Daak, a comic book villain featured in the DWM comics of the 80s. This is the first time that a comic book character has been seen in the show.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode massively, perhaps equalling with Listen. Sadly, unlike Listen, this episode severely lacks on the ability to rewatch it over and over. I would rate this episode 7/10.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Doctor Who 'Time Heist' 10 teasers

Over the course of this series we will be offering each week 10 teasers related to the upcoming episode.

10 Teasers for 'Time Heist':

  1. Washing Machine
  2. "It's just a phone"
  3. There's quite a big time just between 'Listen' and 'Time Heist'
  4. "Are you taller?"
  5. TECH 251
  6. Will you remember?
  7. Everyone wants something in life, right?
  8. "Are you hungry boy?"
  9. Brighton
  10. "A good day to be a bank robber"

Saturday, 13 September 2014

WATCH: Doctor Who - Time Heist Next Time Trailer

WATCH: Steven Moffat & Jenna Coleman: Looking Back On Listen

WATCH: Doctor Who Extra: Listen

The Preview Review: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 4: Listen [Spoiler-Free]

(While this review does not contain major spoilers or specifics, some minor things may be given away. It also draws your attention to hints in the episode. Read at your own discretion.)

We've had two dark episodes and a light-hearted episode. Now we have the thrilling top billing bone-chilling heart-drilling underwear-filling episode. Hold onto that sofa because this new Moffat episode could possibly be described as the new Blink. Almost. 

The episode investigates the possibility of evolution evolving a creature that has the perfect hiding ability and cannot be seen, or even detected, unless it wanted to be. What would such a creature do? Are we ever alone? The questions it poses are immensely frightening to think about, however once the episode was over, I felt quite disappointed on this note by the episode, for reasons I will leave alone for the sake of spoilers. 
While a lot of people could compare this episode to Blink, I feel that it draws a lot more parallels with Midnight. For example, there are almost no jump scares, almost the entire opposite of doctor-light and it has scarier thoughts over physical monsters. The episode's director, Douglas Mackinnon, takes the idea that "less is more" to heart in this episode, where it relies greatly on the viewer's imagination.

The cast of this episode is amazingly small. Just Capaldi, Coleman and Anderson. Even the chalkboards hang around longer than some previous guest stars. While we see 'a bit' further development on the Clara/Danny dynamic this episode, this episode is mostly about The Doctor. Capaldi takes his central role with great pleasure (and that's not from the light bulb), especially focusing on his character and his past, which will be greatly debated, while Coleman is focusing on the present, with The Doctor, and her future, with her dates with Danny. This is an important episode for The Doctor and in the process, we see him like we've never him before, including showing Clara that he is the one in control, in a big fit of anger, which is nice and fitting to see with this new Doctor. The Doctor/Clara dynamic is simply improving exponentially this series!
The Clara/Danny development fits the episode very well and contains even more 'cringe' than before (did you know he dug 23 wells?), along with its problems. Danny's head is having better luck connecting with tables than with Clara. Jenna gets to display a much fuller set of emotions, as does Anderson especially in his multiple roles.

We also see another section of the TARDIS console in greater detail that we've never properly seen before (pictured), where the TARDIS is slaved to the thoughts of whoever is linked with it via this section. It's amazing, and a little weird, just how well the TARDIS is behaving itself this series.

On the other hand, I found the new flashing lights of the TARDIS very distracting when the attention is not supposed to be in it, primarily in the opening scene. It doesn't help to set the mood at all.

It's fair to say that Moffat has most certainly put his stamp on the history of Doctor Who (both personal and overall) over his years and this episode follows through on that in no short order, especially through Clara, which some people are already sick of. And the incredibly controversial scene does help to answer one fairly big question that has been around since at least the fourth series, and cause people to ask a lot more. This is especially because it makes the viewers completely forget everything else that has happened.
This episode has an amazing amount of repeated Moffat elements to it as well. Nursery rhymes, monsters hiding under the bed, childhood loneliness, timelines. Amazingly, however, these are put together in a way that makes them all seem new and interesting. Even the one incredibly simple and a bit silly scene, that practically any fan could make, comes off rather well.

As usual, Murray Gold provides some wonderful scores for the episode to accompany Mackinnon's excellently directed shots.

Overall, the episode is a very divisive episode which most will enjoy it and some will hate, especially that one scene everyone is talking about. I would rate this episode 9/10.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Doctor Who 'Listen' 10 teasers

Over the course of this series we will be offering each week 10 teasers related to the upcoming episode.

10 Teasers for 'Listen':

  1. "Don't ask, just go"
  2. "Why does he always come to this place?"
  3. "the famous drink at last"
  4. Courtney?
  5. "I asked first"
  6. Is there really things under your bed?
  7. Where's Wally?
  8. "Dad skills"
  9. "...the end of the universe?"
  10. "It runs in the family"

NEW Listen Promotional Images Released

Saturday, 6 September 2014

What Was Cut From Robot of Sherwood

The BBC earlier announced that a beheading sequence was cut from the episode in order to show respect to the American journalists beheaded by ISIS. The following is what was cut:
During the sword fight between Robin and the Sheriff, Robin is disarmed.
The Sheriff proudly boasts "The end draws near for you."
Robin replies, "No. I rather think it's you that's facing the final curtain!"
Before the Sheriff can kill him, a cloth tapestry is thrown over the Sheriff, restricting his sight and movement. Robin takes the opportunity and swings his sword, decapitating him.
 The Sheriff's head, wrapped in the tapestry, rolls across the floor. Clara exclaims "Brilliant, Robin! Brilliant!"
The Sheriff's head then continues to breath as it comes out from under the tapestry. He explains: "I forgot to mention, my Lady, that the skyship fell on me. And my rude Mechanicals took good care of me. Very. Good. Care."
Clara asks, "You're a robot, too??"
The head of the Sheriff replies, "Half of me, my Lady. The rest is talent and pure flair!". The headless body, from behind the group, grabs Clara and points its sword at her throat. "Surrender! Or the wench dies!"
Robin scoops up the severed head and tosses it to the headless body - which promptly lets go of Clara and clicks its head back on!
"Thank you!"
Robin replies, "Call it a sporting gesture!"
"And one which will cost you your neck!"
And thus, the fight scene continued. 

WATCH: Doctor Who: Listen Next Time Trailer

WATCH: Doctor Who Extra: Robot of Sherwood

The Preview Review: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 3: Robot of Sherwood [Spoiler-Free]

(While this review does not contain major spoilers or specifics, some minor things may be given away. It also draws your attention to big hints in the episode. Read at your own discretion.)

Please note: I saw the episode without the scene edit. The final product will be different and I don't know precisely by how much.

Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Robin Hood (Tom Riley)
After the two introductory episodes, Deep Breath and Into the Dalek, we have now returned to the standard filler episode, which is a very fitting description of the episode. This episode could easily have been missed out without anyone noticing.

Mark Gatiss's Doctor Who episodes have always divided fan opinion, especially here at Team Combom, and Robot of Sherwood will be no different. After the first two dark episodes,a light-hearted fairly standalone episode was much needed. It is very much aimed at being comedic, which it pulls off the majority of the time, until it gets repetitive. Gatiss still hasn't seemed to have mastered the idea of subtly, with an penis size joke serving as this episode's "Hammer to the Face". Similarly, I could not have possibly imagined a more generic and clich├ęd villain's plan.

It doesn't work on wood.
The episode starts out with The Doctor asking Clara to pick the destination, which is quite refreshing and something seldom seen, although when Clara starts, for want of a better word, fangasming over Robin Hood, it is very quickly revealed why this barely happens.

The episode does not fit the current Doctor very well. It severely lacks the dark tone in the show, and it feels far too much like a Matt Smith story which has been recycled, with only the tone of the Doctor changing to fit Capaldi.

Gatiss also shows his love of Pertwee in this episode (as if portraying him in An Adventure wasn't enough!), between the action sequences and the references. Capaldi even goes "Hai!"

The Sheriff (Ben Miller)
If the writer wished for the events of the episode to remain suspenseful, the title is incredibly poor. It manages to give away both twists, way before the episode gets to it.

Throughout much of the episode, The Doctor scoffs about Robin Hood, and his Merry Men, even existing, which I don't feel fits into the show's theme at all. This is a show that often goes to great lengths to show to the viewer that legends and myths are either real, or based on fact, yet The Doctor continuously kept his viewpoint. This makes me feel very disconnected to him, far beyond his views in Into the Dalek.

The director in this episode has made some excellent shots in this episode, for example his expanded usage of the TARDIS's full 360° set and the spoon fight. Although, the quite glaring continuity error after landing, where Clara clearly closes the door, is a little weird.

The costume department have got to be given massive props for this episode. Clara's and Robin's costume are simply exquisite, while Capaldi's really seems to shine.

While normally I do not have an issue with the editing of an episode, the title of the episode is displayed for far too short, a mere 12 frames (that's less than half a second!), 8x shorter than it should have been. Good luck to any average viewer who doesn't already know the episodes' title!

Capaldi, Coleman and the special guest star Tom Riley prove to be incredibly entertaining, with Riley being incredible. Of note is how Capaldi and the director manages to immensely change the meaning of an incredibly disturbing line to one that I can feel something coming from The Doctor, but still dark. Anthony Ainley Ben Miller portrays a fantastic villain and it's very strange to see a comedian be the most serious and dark character in the episode.

It may be slightly weird to go from a few very deep episodes to a light-hearted one, however be assured that The Doctor remains fairly dark, and in some cases very dark (for example the not-so-subtle gloved middle finger), but his darkness doesn't prevent the episode from being fun. The pacing of the episode feels like a yo-yo with it being all over the place, however this isn't too bad in the final result.

Overall, this episode is very entertaining and very rewatchable, as long as no thought is put into analysing it. It is a good fun romp, but nothing more. I would rate this episode 7/10.