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ANTHONY A. ZEHETNER (Sydney, Australia)

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Return To The Stones
Return To The Stones
Price: £7.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forty Years in the Making!, 6 April 2015
I can't understand the poor ratings (below 3-stars) and dislike for this 2013 sequel novel to 'Children of the Stones'. It was always going to be a hard task to follow-up the original 5-star 1970's novel -- independent of its cult status as a TV program -- though 'Return to the Stones' does succeed admirably as a sequel. Some have commented that the plot and characters have thrown the 'baby out with the bathwater' regarding Milbury and its stone circle, however this novel is quite continuity-leaden and most definitely a sequel. There are at least three discrete "Happy Days" references throughout and the offspring from their original parents (who were teenagers in the Children of the Stones) continue their older counterpart's adventures. Dai and Mrs C are characters in the story -- more than just cameos -- and even the coda echoes the original book.

Jeremy Burnham updates Stones for 2013 and beyond. There are mentions of computer avatars, the internet, cannabis (soup!), divorce and young love. This isn't an unpublished Seventies sequel trotted out. The trickiest characterisation is of Adam who is now a grandfather, quoting English literature and losing some of the heart-warming banter he shared with Matthew in the original -- now they just share single malt whiskeys! Matthew and his son Tom have a more contemporary father-son relationship and it is nice to have an insight into Tom's early (and not wholly successful) forays into love. There are some frightening moments of anger, possession and monsters taken directly from Lovecraft's Cthulhu series (plus a scene from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Eager Dr Who fans will spot the Dalek reference. Some of the medical references mixing up X-rays, CT scans and MRIs (not to mention psychologists and psychiatrists) go a little awry, though not as much as Burnham's understanding of the world wide web alongside the use of floppy discs, monochromatic printing and manually verifying calculations; though these rarely take one out of the moment and harken back to Burnham's other novels, such as Raven (including hidden symbols and motifs just waiting to be discovered). Again the style of writing is one of the real stars and Trevor Ray's contribution is noted and missed, as he may have curtailed some of the lengthier sequences and added a greater element of jeopardy. Unlike in the first novel, the reader here never quite obtains a sense of scale regarding the children of the village being affected, which is generally creepier than adults, and Burnham does drive a heavy-handed line home several times about teenagers spending too much time on the computer.

A filmic version of the book would be most welcome, though failing that, serious consideration should be given to mounting Return to the Stones as an audio play (maybe with surviving members of the cast). As a standalone novel, Return to the Stones would be slightly confusing (and could do with a map and dramatis personae pedigree) to the newcomer, though it still remains a rewarding read building upon and acting as a logical progression (and not merely an exercise in nostalgia) of its predecessor.

Well worth hunting down (a paperback is due late 2015)!

Modern Family - Season 1-4 [Blu-ray]
Modern Family - Season 1-4 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Ed O'Neill
Price: £22.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic, 4 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great sitcom with fast-paced gags and witty writing. This Bluray set of Seasons 1-4 represents great value, particularly as Season 5 is about to be released and probably alongside a new box set collection.

The plastic case housing the discs (taken directly from the individual Season's slipcases) is flimsy and may break in transit. It would have been better to have the individual seasons packed into the box. Some of the DVD Season 1-4 sets contain the bonus Modern Family book so it would also have been nice to have that included here.

Some nice extras (gag reels, deleted scenes, short making of documentaries -- sadly no cast commentaries -- round out the set and don't outstay their welcome). There is also a Season Play mode enabling watching each 21-minute episode in order which loads the discs faster than via the main menu.

Ultimately it is the fast characterisation, stories and one-liners you'll come back to for a dose of hilarity!

Doctor Who: The Snowmen / The Doctor The Widow And The Wardrobe
Doctor Who: The Snowmen / The Doctor The Widow And The Wardrobe
Price: £13.15

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Double-helping of Christmas pudding, 14 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Murray Gold's Christmas specials are released as reversible covers. Some may say there's enough material for an individual CD release for each. Many classical themes (eg the Doctor's) are updated and tweaked. Pity the new theme version is not included here.

Doctor Who: Ghost Light (O.S.T.)
Doctor Who: Ghost Light (O.S.T.)
Price: £13.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Updated release from Silva Screen, 14 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Time to update the original Mark Ayres CD Release from the Nineties with this new CD release from Silva Screen. Contains new scores previously unreleased as the demos JN-T vetoed before the final soundtrack (also included) was as transmitted.

The Fades Series 1 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
The Fades Series 1 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Daniel Kaluuya
Price: £7.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Pity it faded away, 14 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great BBC sci-fi drama series, the entire series on Bluray at a great price on Amazon. Frightening at times but gripping also, with great comic relief moments. Not only for teens. Pity no further series were made.

"Torchwood": Everyone Says Hello
"Torchwood": Everyone Says Hello
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burn Gorman's Performance is Outstanding!, 2 April 2008
Burn Gorman is outstanding in this exclusive audio book from Torchwood series two. He doesn't narrate the story but actually PEFORMS it with all of the mannersisms, inflectures and vocal energy he would use if he were performing this for TV or the stage. It's obvious that he has read the book himself before the recording (not all Torchwood audio plays can make that claim!) and his enthusiasm makes the story more engaging and maintains interest.

Dan Abnett's script is entirely suited to the realm of audio. It's more accessible than the other Torchwood stories available and begins on a lazy summer's day. Gone is the need for knowledge of the show's underlying plotlines and continuity. It's all in with fun interplay between characters and strange takes on life's ordinariness. How many people will listen to this on the bus or whilst standing in a queue and feel for the protagonist's emotions? If "Everyone Says Hello" unfolded on the printed page it would lose its impact and enjoyment.

Its sister volume, "Hidden", the other exclusive Torchwood audiobook released at the same time, fares less well. Despite a polished reading by Naoko Mori (although she enunciates her "g"'s softly, such that the "g" in "aged" is pronounced like the second "g" in "garage" instead of the first!), Hidden seems to have been a Torchwood novel simply translated to CD.

"Everyone Says Hello" doesn't have the plot to sustain three CDs like the first run of Torchwood audios, though fills the two discs admirably. Gorman does a first rate job in breathing life into the most incidental of characters and after a million different ways of saying the word "hello" he still finds ways of making it refreshing and never staid (though he must be sick of the word by the end of the CDs!)

Burn Gorman expresses talents here that are at times overshadowed by the moody, self-absorbed, and at times unlikable, Owen he portrays on TV (and occasionally obnoxious, dour stereotypes on other shows like Marple). These CDs showcase potential that is hopefully capitalised on the show in the future, makes for more interesting viewing and would be more enjoyable to play.

Ianto is in series one form in "Everyone Says Hello" with his role reduced to a cameo. All we need now is an Ianto-centred Torchwood narration by Gareth David-Lloyd to complete the set. Currently Burn Gorman, followed by Eve Myles, leads the way in strong audio presentation.

Watch out for the "Have you seen the light?" beer pun on disk two!

"Doctor Who" and the Brain of Morbius (Classic Novels)
"Doctor Who" and the Brain of Morbius (Classic Novels)
by Terrance Dicks
Edition: Audio CD

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Change This Face of Doctor Who, 28 Mar. 2008
This audiobook exceeded my expectations! Sure I have heard Tom Baker narrate and read Terrance Dicks before, but it's this powerful combination here that is a delightful surprise.

Tom Baker, like the character he portrays, initially takes a while to warm up but enunciates each syllable with feeling -- his sentences ending with the words "death" or "blackness" are chilling. His wry humour is reflected in the joy of the character of Maren, the high priestess of the Sisterhood of the Flame, who takes the Elixir of Youth when she is aged and so remains forever old! Baker plays his ageless younger self with carefree ease and his version of Sarah is altogether delicate, moderate and proactive. His characterisation of Solon is unique from the televised portrayal and conjures up an unpredictable, doddering experimental mad scientist instead of Madoc's slick and cool killer.

Unlike other talking books, Baker does not sound rushed or concerned that he won't fit the chapter onto the end of the CD. He takes his time to let the chapters unfold and let descriptions and pauses between scenes (and indeed within sentences) to sink in. He modulates and paces his voice in relation to the tension and suspense in the narrative so that he is performing rather than reading the play. There is a sense that he treats the work seriously and with respect as he would Shakespeare which can't be said for all Doctor Who actors. He seems to want to share an adventure of his to new listeners (and old) rather than pocket the money and run!

Terrance Dicks's writing is particularly strong with a new backstory introducing the spacefaring mutant insect. Production-wise the incidental music selected is striking and little effects like a two-second delay before a peal of thunder begins after Baker narrates the word "lightning" create a special soundscape.

Baker's opener of the "Changing Face of Doctor Who" in which he describes the cover picture showing the Fourth Doctor -- "Me" he adds -- is a pure gem!

I'm happy that Tom has agreed to participate in reading the unabridged novelisations of his TV adventures. While his faithful reading of the Giant Robot (also by Dicks) was superb, he has a lot of fun with this one and it shows through his narration. Now if only they would have a mini interview with him and his thoughts of the story at the end, like they do with the BBC Radio Collection Missing Story soundtracks.

More please!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2011 8:48 AM BST

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