Advertisements

Tag Archive: BBC


Review by C.J. Bunce

For fans of BBC’s four seasons of Shetland, while a fifth is in the works, a 2010 series available via Amazon and BritBox may fill in as a bit of a prequel to the Scottish crime drama.  Doctor Who fans may quirk a brow at the words The Silence, but the series villains are no relation to the tense crime drama co-starring Shetland’s Douglas Henshall and deaf actress Genevieve Barr.  The Silence is a four-episode series following Barr as 18-year-old Amelia.  Recently fitted with a cochlear implant, she is adjusting to the device during her “gap year,” the year between high school and college.  It’s a series notable for Shetland and Henshall fans because swap out the character’s DCI Jim Edwards for DI Jimmy Perez and you have basically the same British cop before he went off to Scotland.

DCI Edwards is Amelia’s uncle, and Amelia is staying with him, his wife Maggie (Doctor Who and Law & Order: UK’s Dervla Kirwan), and cousins Tom (Young Dracula’s Harry Ferrier), Joel (Doctors’ Tom Kane), and Sophie (Doctor Who’s Rebecca Oldfield), all while Amelia is attending appointments to practice use of her new hearing device.  Amelia hates it, a concept nobody quite grasps.  She sees being deaf as somewhat defining, a thing everyone else should accept, but her badgering parents, played by Gina McKee (MirrorMask, Emerald City) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who), are the ones who don’t hear.  While staying with her cousins Amelia witnesses a murder, and soon DCI Edwards realizes the likely murderers are within his own police department.

Amelia becomes more than a tangent player to the plot when she tells her uncle she can read the lips of two cops on CCTV footage, implicating several people, and putting Amelia’s life and her uncle’s family and danger, and worse for her uncle, subjecting him to imprisonment per police regulations for not disclosing his niece as an eyewitness.  All of this happens in the series’ four hours, in a story probably better suited edited down into a movie-length production.  And yet it’s all fresh and new–a police procedural unlike any you’ve seen before.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Our borg Best of 2018 list continues today with the best in television.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2018 here and the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2018 here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:

Best Borg TV Series, Best TV BorgHumans (AMC).  No other series touches on the ramifications of technology, specifically the perils of an onslaught of real-world cyborg technology, like AMC’s Humans.  This year three characters stood out, including Gemma Chan’s Mia, the cyborg Synth from past seasons, who sacrificed everything for the liberty of cyborgs in the UK.  Then there was Ruth Bradley’s Karen Voss, a Synth who refused to live segregated from the humans, opting instead for a normal life for the cyborg son she assumed care for.  And Katherine Parkinson’s Laura Hawkins, a human lawyer who fought so hard for the cause of the Synths all year, only to throw away all the good she had done, failing the first real challenge that was presented to her.  This year’s best TV borg is shared by Synths Mia and Karen, as each showed the uphill battle any future outsider must overcome when faced with humans.

Best Sci-fi TV SeriesThe Man in the High Castle (Amazon).  What had been a two-season build-up all came together in the series’ third season with the audacity of killing off key characters, wisely adhering to the framework of the source Philip K. Dick novel.  The use of science fiction to tell an often gut-wrenching array of subplots and unique characters has set up a fourth season with plenty to address.  Exciting, smart, scary, and even fun, it is an unusual science fiction show that isn’t merely trigger-happy sci-fi.  Honorable mention: Humans (AMC), Counterpart (Starz).

Best New TV Series, Best Reboot, Best Ensemble CastMagnum PI (CBS).  If you would have told us a year ago our favorite show this year would be a reboot of Magnum, p.i. starring Suicide Squad’s Jay Hernandez and an actress in the iconic role of John Hillerman’s Higgins, we wouldn’t have believed it.  And yet, even as diehard fans of the original, we had to acknowledge that many elements of the reboot series were even better in the new series.  With the dangerous risk of taking on a beloved property, the production maintained loyalty to the original while making it fresh, scoring Magnum PI high marks on all counts.  Every character was smartly written–suave and confident Magnum, energetic Rick and TC, and a savvy Higgins–every actor was perfectly cast, and each show was another round of nostalgic fun for fans of the original.  Best New TV Series Honorable mention for Best New TV Series: Counterpart (Starz), Lodge 49 (AMC).

Best Series, Best Drama, Best ComedyLodge 49 (AMC).  Lodge 49 told two stories: a darkly serious drama of real people dealing with real-life 2018 adversity, and the other a comedy farce like no other.  Hanging over our heads was the idea that this was going to be a fantasy show, complete with secret codes, hidden rooms, and psychic visions.  If you’re looking for all the elements of great fantasy the hint of it all could be found throughout this series.  And yet it wasn’t fantasy at all.  An oddball Cheers?  A southern Twin Peaks without the Lynchian weirdness?  Star Wyatt Russell’s hero Dud could be dismissed as a typical young man with no vision, or maybe he’s that idealist that everyone needs to strive to be.  Maybe we’ll learn more about that next season.  Honorable mention for Best Drama: Counterpart (Starz).  Honorable mention for Best Comedy: Baskets (FX).
Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Netflix has been carrying BBC’s British police procedural series Shetland on Netflix for a few years, but now is a good time to get caught up on the series’ first three seasons as Season 4 aired in February in the UK and is expected to arrive on Netflix soon for U.S. viewers.  Set in the remote Scottish Shetland islands, Shetland stars Douglas Henshall (Sea of Souls, Outlander, The Secret of Crickley Hall, Kull the Conqueror, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, who solves crimes against the dramatic backdrop of the Shetland Islands.  Based on a bestselling detective series by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, the series spotlights the stark landscape of remote Scotland and its small population, which must manage the big crime trouble of the far off Scotland metropolis of Glasgow, with far fewer resources.

The backbone of the series is the personable nature of Henshall’s cop as he wrestles with growing daughter Cassie (Erin Armstrong) who has a mind of her own, and the sparring he has over her in an almost spousal love-hate-bickering relationship with his deceased ex-wife’s second husband Duncan (Mark Bonnar).  Helping him dig into crimes is his right arm, DS Tosh McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell), who is part smart investigator and Glasgow street savvy and also very familiar with local norms, and next level down cop Steven Robertson as DC Sandy Wilson, who is trying to build his career path while routinely held back by his strange family and personal relationships.  Technology, a remote geography, and a culture removed from the rest of the country combines to create plenty of opportunities for resourceful police work by Perez and his team.

In the series’ third season Shetland hits its stride, combining the show’s regular cast of five recurring characters with a guest appearance by genre film star Ciarán Hinds, who drives the mystery for the bulk of the season.  Hinds boasts an impressive career in some of our favorite films, including Excalibur, Mary Reilly, The Sum of All Fears, Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Woman in Black, John Carter, Frozen, Game of Thrones, Justice League, First Man).

Although it’s not yet known when or if Season 4 will make it to Netflix, Season 4 is now available here via Amazon on Britbox.

Here is a brief trailer for Season 4–a Season 5 was in production this summer:

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

It may have the strangest of any television series’ opening credits, but Hinterland is one of the best mystery/crime dramas around.  All three seasons of the British series can be found on Netflix.  Similar to another solid British crime series, Shetland, the series Hinterland is more introspective, focusing on troubled Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Tom Mathias, a man trying to escape his past.  He does this through a form of distraction, immersing himself in each new murder or missing persons case.  His fatal flaw may very well be his inability to remove himself from each situation, and as each new case is presented, we learn more about DCI Mathias and his investigative staff.  Richard Harrington (Requiem, Bleak House), plays Mathias in a role that would have earned him major accolades on American television (it was nominated and/or won more than 70 awards, including dozens of BAFTA awards).  Harrington’s Mathias has a unique persona with reserved understated mannerisms impeccably performed in the style of a real police officer like you might find in Wales or here in the States–he created a character that is conscientious, intelligent, sympathetic, and yet also flawed.

Subtitled “y gwyll”–Welsh for The Dusk, Hinterland was the BBC’s first production broadcast in both English and Welsh.  That’s right, each scene is filmed twice, once in each language.  Filmed on location in rural Aberystwyth, Wales, the cinematography is striking, cold, and strangely beautiful.  Often rainy, windy, and desolate, the series is not as creepy as it could be.  Sure, you’ll see the crime scenes of any modern television police procedural, but the slow pacing and thoughtful artistry of every camera angle never seems used for ill effect.  The quaint, insular community provides all kinds of personalities, rarely anyone all that likeable, but viewers will get the feeling that what seems like an obscure, faraway locale is a town with all the modern problems of any metropolitan city.  And even urban Englanders will likely learn new and local rules and procedures of law along the way.

DCI Mathias works closely with Detective Inspector (DI) Mared Rhys, played by Mali Harries (Doctor Who, Being Human, Midsomer Murders), a 33-year-old mother who can never seem to connect with her daughter, but she’s masterful at her job.  Mathias and Rhys form what is probably the most realistic working pair on television.  Never getting that close to each other, and often uncomfortable sharing any of their personal lives with each other, they follow the rules of their profession to the letter, only straying where a higher morality is warranted.  Their trust with each other is implicit, and their detective work second to none.  The crimes are often complex, and DCI Mathias’s sleuthing techniques are always on-the-ground, personal, detailed, and his pursuit of truth and justice is always a passionate one.

Continue reading

That’s the trouble with regeneration… you never quite know what you’re going to get!

Some things are worth stopping the presses for.  This time it’s a review copy of the forthcoming first issue out of the gates for Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor–Issue #0.  If you’re already a fan of the 55-year-old sci-fi television series and especially if you haven’t yet jumped on the Whovian bandwagon, there’s no better way to start than with this unprecedented voyage across time.  It stars all twelve regular series Time Lords plus the War Doctor, Captain Jack Harkness, River Song, and plenty of companions, all intertwined as the new Thirteenth Doctor readies to emerge from her latest regeneration.  With so many reboots and remakes these days with new actors that arrive with a bit of a resounding jolt, it’s Doctor Who that best found a way to overcome the need to replace actors over time.  And that mechanism was regenerating from one human form to another.

Few events are as significant in pop culture as the introduction of Jodie Whittaker as the first woman Doctor this year.  In this first issue of a new monthly series, the Doctor relives previously unseen adventures from each of her past lives.  The result is a book full of great Easter Eggs and special references for passing fans and diehards alike.  And every incarnation of the Doctor is featured in the story by Richard Dinnick with a different well-known comic book artist re-creating the changing TARDIS, sonic screwdrivers, a companion or two, and even more fan-favorite supporting characters.  Along with Dinnick’s great voice for each incarnation of the Doctor, each artist puts a special twist on their part of the story.  This may be one of the biggest comic book issues of the year, to prep you for what will be without a doubt pop culture’s biggest television event of the year.

Here’s a new image promoting the new series just released by the BBC, featuring stars Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole:

So get ready for some exciting imagery in the new Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor, Issue #0, from artists Rachael Stott, Mariano Laclaustra, Georgia Sposito, Arriana Florean, Claudia Ianniciello, Iolanda Zanfardino, Brian Williamson, Carlos Cabrera, and more.  And borg.com readers get a first look right now with preview pages from this landmark story, courtesy of Titan Comics.  Check it out:

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Many books have called themselves the definitive guide to Doctor Who, but only one really can back it up.  Five years ago the BBC tapped comic book writer Cavan Scott and Mark Wright to create the ultimate data source for the series’ 50th anniversary and the result was Doctor Who Who-ology: The Official Miscellany.  It’s hard to believe five years have breezed by so quickly, but Scott and Wright are back again with an update in Doctor Who Who-ology: The Official Miscellany Regenerated Edition Scott, writer of comic books and audio novels and one of the few people to have penned stories for Doctor Who and Star Wars and Star Trek, and Mark Wright, Doctor Who tie-in writer and audio actor, have filled in all the blanks leading up to the 11th Season (11th “Series” for British fans), coming this Fall.

So fans will find 55 years of encyclopedic information about everything Doctor Who in this 355-page hardcover brick of a book, nicely designed to represent the appearance of the TARDIS.  For only a five-year span the updates to the 2013 edition are many, with updates representing David Bradley’s new stint as the 1st Doctor, the end of Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, John Hurt’s appearance as the War Doctor, the entire run of Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor, and the beginning this past Christmas of Jodie Whittaker’s new 13th Doctor. Except for the 13th Doctor’s premiere appearance in this month’s Free Comic Book Day edition of the Doctor Who comic book, Who-ology looks to be the first book to feature Whittaker’s Doctor in an official Doctor Who publication.

Subject to the updates, the same design and organization that made Who-ology a British bestseller five years ago are back.  A trivia guide representing both in-world information and real-world information, cross-references to actors, creators, and episodes of the series, plus references to the radio dramas, audio books, comic books and other tie-in stories will allow anyone to access answers to Whovian questions quickly.  The scope and breadth of reference material demonstrates the reason why the series has so many fans.  Do you want to see a complete list of all the famous celebrities and historical figures the Doctor has encountered?  It’s broken down between people he only name-drops and personalities he encountered in his time travels throughout the series (from Alexander the Great to Shirley Bassey, and Nefertiti to Louis Pasteur).  How about the Doctor’s explanations for all of Earth’s mysteries of the unknown, like the end of the dinosaurs, the fate of Atlantis, the abominable snowman, and the Loch Ness monster?  And Who-ology isn’t just a big cold book of lists–Scott and Wright dig into the details of what makes all the incarnations of the Doctor and all their companions tick.  It’s interesting stuff, tying in the four corners of pop culture fandom, including actors that appeared in both Doctor Who and the James Bond movies, Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Harry Potter movies.

Continue reading

Probably no other visionary from the 19th century except Mary Shelley and Jules Verne is as synonymous with the genre of science fiction as H.G. Wells.  How many science fiction works did Wells inspire with his stories, with elements infused into books, television series, and movies–120 years later and never going out of print?  Only hours ago the BBC announced a new three-part series adapting The War of the Worlds will be arriving later this year, starring Rafe Spall (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Shaun of the Dead), Eleanor Tomlinson (Jack the Giant Slayer, Alice in Wonderland), Robert Carlyle (28 Weeks Later, Once Upon a Time), and Krypton and Sherlock’s Rupert Graves.  The War of the Worlds.  The Time Machine.  The Invisible Man.  The Island of Dr. Moreau.  A new series of graphic novels from Insight Comics is adapting all four of Wells’ classics.  These go beyond the old Illustrated Classics editions, taking on several science fiction paradigms: warnings of the dangers of new technologies, the cost of hubris, and the adventures and trials that come from the unknown worlds of the future.

First in the new series is an action-packed adaptation of The War of the Worlds.   Tailored from the original 1897 tale of freakish alien tripod alien invaders annihilating parts of England, the writer known as Dobbs provides a faithful take on Wells’s work.  It’s always interesting to see new interpretations of the look of Wells’ invaders, and artist Vicente Cifuentes (best known for his DC Comics art) provides a visually striking view of the varying appearances of the invaders as well as an authentic and engaging feel for the 19th century setting of the original novel.

Scientist Dr. Robert H. Goddard referenced The War of the Worlds as an influence for creating the real-world liquid-fueled rocket that would later take humans to the Moon.

Take a look at these sample pages from the first book in the new H.G. Wells series from Insight Comics, courtesy of the publisher:

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Rarely does a book’s title so aptly describe its content.  Doctor Who: The Book of Whoniversal Records (Official Timey-Wimey Edition) is exactly right–a play on The Guinness Book of World Records–it is an ambitious achievement that could only be done for Doctor Who, a series whose time traveler hero has charted records across the universe like no other character in any franchise.  In this 55th year of the Doctor, Simon Guerrier (probably the person who knows Doctor Who front to back the best) combines a TV series encyclopedia and world almanac with the ultimate trivia source to create a worthy TARDIS ride with all the Doctors through their greatest feats, strangest encounters, their firsts, bests, biggests, and mosts.  It answers almost any question you could have about the last of the Time Lords and his (soon to be her) interesting adventures.

Guerrier, co-author of Whographica: An Infographic Guide to Space and Time and The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who for BBC Books, and one of our favorite writers of Doctor Who books, comics, audio plays (his new tales of the Doctors have been performed by Doctor Who actors including Sylvester McCoy and Freema Agyeman), and even documentaries, simply soars through the history of the 12 Doctors and the War Doctor, providing significant coverage of each Doctor, their companions, their greatest stories, and strangest encounters.  For the Doctor Who fan it makes for a great resource, too, complete with nicely indexed and detailed chapters and subjects to allow readers to easily jump back to topics of interest later.

Today is the last day to pre-order Doctor Who: The Book of Whoniversal Records (Official Timey-Wimey Edition) at a discount off the cover price–it arrives in bookstores and ships from online retailers tomorrow.

Check out this excerpt, courtesy of Harper Design:

Continue reading

Not to be outdone by the dozens of movie and television trailers released in San Diego at this weekend’s annual Comic-Con, BBC’s Doctor Who panel Sunday previewed “Twice Upon a Time,” the annual Doctor Who Christmas special–what will likely be Peter Capaldi’s last full episode of the series, plus a few surprises.  It was major international news last week that Jodie Whitaker will be taking over the reins from Capaldi to become the 13th Doctor at the end of this year’s Christmas special.  That is, unless her first episode is part of the next season premiere, expected to air either in the March-April 2018 timeframe or August-September 2018 depending on production schedules.  A new trailer has no mention of the Doctor’s regeneration into the 13th Doctor, but does show another Doctor will be appearing in the Christmas special, so plan to see at least two, and maybe three, Doctors on Christmas Day.

The panel was held at Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center on the last day of Comic-Con yesterday.  Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat appeared with Capaldi, Mark Gatiss, 2017 season regulars Matt Lucas and Michelle Gomez, and 2017 season companion actress Pearl Mackie.  This may be the last Comic-Con appearance for Doctor Who for all of these creators as a new team takes over for 2018.

Best known as Filch in the Harry Potter movies, David Bradley will return for his third stint playing the First Doctor, originally played in 1963 by actor William Hartnell.  A ringer for Hartnell, Bradley previously played Hartnell and the First Doctor in An Adventure in Space and Time, a BBC drama about the First Doctor, and again in this season’s finale.  Also, Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat’s long-time production and writing partner in projects including the BBC’s Sherlock (and Mycroft on the series) will play a World War I captain in the special.

But that’s not all.  Doctor Who fans will be surprised to see Pearl Mackie’s Bill Potts one more time on the series, as she has an appearance in the Christmas special.  By all counts fans didn’t expect to see Bill return after this season’s finale.  It doesn’t look like Mackie will be back in 2018, so get ready for much speculation over the next year on the choice for the next Doctor Who companion.

Check out the Comic-Con preview of “Twice Upon a Time,” the Doctor Who Christmas special: Continue reading

You really can’t beat waking up to the biggest entertainment news of the year.  Yesterday the BBC teased that we’d see a reveal of the next Doctor on Doctor Who, the 13th Doctor, to take over for the lead role of the iconic 54-year science fiction franchise currently played by Peter Capaldi.  After the men’s Wimbledon final today, the BBC released the big news:  Finally, the BBC is breaking new ground, for the first time casting an actress as the next Doctor–a woman in the role played previously by 13 men on television (counting unnumbered War Doctor John Hurt), and not only a woman, but a great genre actress at that–35-year-old Jodie Whittaker, who hails from West Yorkshire.

Whittaker is best known for her starring role along with Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ John Boyega in the science fiction cult classic Attack the Block.  She also was featured in the great British ghost story series Marchlands and most recently in the drama Broadchurch.  Replacing Doctor Who’s showrunner Steven Moffat is the previously announced Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall.  Whittaker said in an announcement today, “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet….  It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor.  It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope.  I can’t wait.”

When David Tenant regenerated into Matt Smith for Smith to become the eleventh Doctor on the series, Smith’s Doctor initially thought he was female because of his hair, teasing fans a bit and planting the seed for a gender change to be coming in the near future.  “I’m a girl!” he shouted.  Also, the addition of a female Master (Michelle Gomez) in recent seasons helped prepare viewers for the change.

Check out yesterday’s teaser, followed by the big reveal:

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: