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Tag Archive: Jodie Whittaker


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.

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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:

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BBC and BBC America just released a photo of new stars of the next Doctor Who series featuring the previously announced 13th Doctor, to be played by Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Broadchurch).  Peter Capaldi’s last outing as the 12th Doctor will be during this year’s annual Doctor Who Christmas Special.  This weekend new showrunner Chris Chibnall provided actor and character names and discussed his excitement taking on the role as caretaker of the UK’s oldest genre franchise along with three new cast members.  The next season will offer ten episodes, but won’t be broadcast until late next year.

Television actor Bradley Walsh (Law & Order: UK) will join Whitaker’s Doctor as a character named Graham, along with Tosin Cole (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Ryan, and Mandip Gill (Hollyoaks) as Yasmin.  According to the BBC these are the “three new companions,” and Sharon D. Clarke (Waking the Dead) will also appear as an unnamed character.

“The new Doctor is going to need new friends,” said Chibnall. “We’re thrilled to welcome Mandip, Tosin, and Bradley to the Doctor Who family.  They’re three of Britain’s brightest talents and we can’t wait to see them dive into brand new adventures with Jodie’s Doctor.  Alongside them, we’re delighted that Sharon D. Clarke is also joining the show.”

Prolific stage actress Sharon D. Clarke will appear on the new Doctor Who series.

Bradley Walsh added his recollections of watching the original series. “I remember watching William Hartnell as the first Doctor.  Black and white made it very scary for a youngster like myself.   I was petrified, but even though I’d watch most of it from behind the sofa through my fingers, I became a fan.  I then queued up for ages to get into the Carlton picture house in Watford to watch the great Peter Cushing appear as the Doctor in a full-length feature film made in glorious color (Doctor Who and the Daleks, 1965).  Am I thrilled to be part of this whole ground breaking new dawn for the Doctor??  Oh yes!”

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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

It’s been nearly five years since we first reviewed the award-winning, low-budget sci-fi alien invasion flick Attack the Block.  Now that Jodie Whittaker is in the spotlight for her selection as the next Doctor in the BBC’s Doctor Who, and John Boyega will be returning this December for his second stint as Imperial turned Resistance fighter Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, let’s look back to them working together as co-leads in writer/director Joe Cornish’s modern cult classic.  Attack the Block should be in every sci-fi fan’s arsenal.  When we first reviewed Attack the Block here at borg.com, we compared it to another low-budget British sci-fi/horror mash-up, 1985’s Lifeforce (which co-starred a then less-known Patrick Stewart).  After repeat viewings since then, it’s clear Attack the Block is a much better film, full of action, suspense, humor, and good acting by young actors who all feel very real on-screen.  In 2011 only fans of the actors from the Cornetto films would have noticed it, because of the slightly larger than cameo performance by Nick Frost, one-half of the Simon Pegg/Frost comic duo (Shaun of the Dead, The Fuzz, Spaced, Paul).  Attack the Block was an unknown commodity that didn’t get much reaction at the U.S. box office in 2011 because it was not marketed well and it was not a typical, Hollywood-made sci-fi epic.  It was before its time–it’s Stranger Things, UK style.  It’s Judgment Night and John Carpenter’s original Attack on Precinct 13 meets E.T., if E.T. didn’t have good intentions and Elliot wasn’t a nice little kid.

It takes a bit to warm up to the main cast of Attack the Block.  We follow a teen gang of British kids in masks led by John Boyega’s character Moses as they unabashedly and violently mug a nurse named Sam, played by Jodie Whittaker.  From the beginning Whittaker’s Sam really is the only person in the film we are completely sympathetic toward, despite efforts of the writer to get viewers to understand this gang of kids.  We almost get to the point of sympathy for the others once Sam decides she may very well be killed by aliens if she does not join up with the gang, and this film takes a swing at answering the question: “Under what situation would a victim, however reluctantly, join up with her attacker?”  Violent alien beast invasion, of course!  Despite playing the thug, Boyega had charisma even early on and it’s understandable why he has his own band of followers.  He gets in over his head dealing with a slightly older drug kingpin who “owns the block” and takes the kid under his wing for a drug sale.  His followers are a motley sort. Along with a pair of much younger kids that add some comic relief, and an additional wandering, stoned teenager, they must come together to fight the gang leader and worse—the onslaught of big hairy aliens.

The scarf of a future Doctor!  Jodie Whittaker in Attack the Block.

Six years later, Attack the Block easily holds its own.  For alien invasion film fans, it offers one of the best aliens of any 21st century production–big or low budget—giant dark, furry beasts built like hybrid gorilla/buffalos, with phosphorescent blue fangs, able to leap and spring and climb buildings.  We don’t ever see clear views of these creatures, and that mystery and an overall lack of gore throughout the movie helps form the mystique of these creatures–think the uncertainty of when the shark appears next in Jaws–and it makes them just plain scary as they chase their targets down hallways and up buildings.  They aren’t hive-minded aliens from Alien or conniving predators as in Predator, but they don’t need to be.

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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:

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Black Sea movie poster

No it’s not about Sub Search–the 3-dimensional Milton Bradley board game precursor to Battleship–although it sure looks like it could be.  In an era where Hasbro is partnering with movie studios to create tie-in films, why not?  What we do have is Jude Law, star of the movie Sherlock Holmes series as well as genre classic Gattaca, leading the next submarine flick coming soon to theaters, Black Sea.

We’re always waiting for the next “best submarine thriller.”  Back in February 2013 we previewed the David Duchovny and Ed Harris submarine film Phantom here at borg.com.  The one to beat is, of course,  the best submarine thriller ever made–The Hunt for Red October, based on the novel by Tom Clancy featuring Sean Connery as a Russian sub captain and Alec Baldwin as the original Jack Ryan.  Red October was inspired by actual events–a failed mutiny aboard the Russian anti-submarine ship Storozhevoy by Valery Sablin in 1975.

Sub Search in Black Sea

Black Sea features genre actress Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Marchlands).  It’s about a sub search–a quest for a Nazi U-Boat on the ocean’s floor, supposedly full of gold, and a rough crew at odds with each other as they try to secure it.  After the break, check out the first trailer for Black Sea:

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Broadchurch Tennant and Whittaker

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Two episodes down and we at borg.com seem to be the only viewers utterly underwhelmed by BBC America’s hotly-anticipated new import, Broadchurch.  Lured in by trailers featuring some of our genre favorites, including Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block), David Tennant, and Arthur Darvill (both, Doctor Who), we eagerly cleared our schedule and tuned in, expecting the sort of dazzling drama that series like The Hour and Life on Mars have led us to expect from BBC.  We won’t tell you what happened next (it makes borg.com TV reviewer Elizabeth C. Bunce seem soulless), and we won’t waste the bandwidth trying to shout over the accolades.  Instead, we’re putting our energy into giving other disappointed viewers what they really wanted from the eight-part series.  Unfortunately for many American viewers, several of these shows have not yet made it to Region 1 (U.S.) DVD, but they are well worth tracking down.

If you tuned in to see…

Whittaker in Marchlands

Jodie Whittaker as a grieving mum, try Marchlands  (reviewed earlier this year here at borg.com)

The luminous Jodie Whittaker gives a haunting, nuanced performance as a young mother trying to come to terms with the disappearance of her daughter, while stifled by life at her in-laws’ home and the judgement of local villagers.  Also starring Denis Lawson (Bleak House, Star Wars) and Doctor Who’s own River Song, Alex Kingston (Arrow), Marchlands is a complex look at the lingering resonance of one family’s tragedy.  Plus there are ghosts, which in borg.com’s opinion is always a bonus.  (And if you love Marchlands then you’ll want to see the follow-on series Lightfields we also reviewed here).

Morrissey and Tennant in Viva Blackpool

David Tennant investigating a murder in an idyllic seaside village, check out Viva Blackpool (just Blackpool in the UK)

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Matt Smith as 11th Doctor

BBC announced yesterday that Matt Smith’s last episode as the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who, the oldest series on television, will be this year’s Christmas episode to air on Christmas Eve.  He’ll also appear in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who episode this fall.  For those of us who never would have given Doctor Who a try but for Matt Smith, he will be sorely missed.  Without Matt Smith’s energetic and brilliant performances, we wouldn’t have seen how awesome David Tennant was as the 10th Doctor, met Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor and his long-running companion Rose, or checked out the numerous audio books, or even peeked at those earlier “other” Doctors.

But just as we quickly have embraced his new companion with Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara (Amy Pond who?) after we thought we’d met the best companion ever, life goes on and so will the Doctor’s next incarnation as he takes the form of another actor… or actress?

So who should be the next Doctor?  Matt Smith has given us some brilliant performances.  If you aren’t a Doctor Who fan and wanted to sample some of the best of Matt Smith’s Doctor, try these:

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour.  We meet Matt Smith’s Doctor for the first time as he must save the world in 20 minutes with a wrecked TARDIS and broken sonic screwdriver and with the help of Amy Pond–the girl who waited.

The Beast Below

The Beast Below.  The Doctor and Amy travel to a future where residents live on a spaceship called Starship UK.  We meet a future Queen and learn the terrible truth about what keeps the ship–and all its inhabitants–alive.

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Marchlands cast - can you find Alice

With a television series featuring Doctor Who and Arrow’s Alex Kingston, Life on Mars’s Dean Andrews, Luke Skywalker’s pal Wedge Antilles, and the lead actress from Attack the Block, you just can’t go wrong.  And it’s really hard to beat an old British cottage near the woods as the setting when you’re creating a ghost story.  Add to it one of borg.com’s most discussed subjects: a movie about a creepy little girl, and you’re in for a good show.  That could not be more true than with the UK mini-series Marchlands.  UK production company ITV and 20th Century Fox created an expertly constructed five-part, supernatural drama mini-series that traverses three families living in different eras in the same British house.

Marchlands title card

Marchlands first aired in the UK in 2010, but it hasn’t been released in the States yet. In fact the only way to view it is to buy it from a British online retailer along with a DVD player that will play DVDs from Europe.   Along with watching all the other series from the UK long before they cross the lake to America, going the extra mile to get access to these series is well worth the effort.

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