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BENDING THE WILLOW: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes
BENDING THE WILLOW: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes
Price: 6.60

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Memorial, 31 May 2014
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David Davies book is by turns balanced critique, impassioned plea, delicate tribute and fan letter all one.

Jeremy Brett's tour de force performance as Sherlock Holmes through the 1980's and early 1990's was considered by many to the definitive performance of the great detective. This very engaging and pacey book has biographical element, for certain, but focusses upon the programme, the performance, and the life of the man as he performed. Both Jeremy's own illness, coupled with some disastrous editorial decisions on the part of Granada TV have tended to overshadow what was a remarkable performance. Thankfully recent domestic reruns have brought the performance again back to the attention of the British public. This book helps in trying to keep the memory alive of what was an outstanding performance by a man who was an outstanding actor.

An engaging read for all fans of the Granada TV show, Jeremy Brett or Sherlockians in general!


Doctor Who - Remembrance of the Daleks (Target Books)
Doctor Who - Remembrance of the Daleks (Target Books)
by Ben Aaronovitch
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novelisation That Hits The Target, 4 Jan 2012
It has to be said that some of the Target novelisations of the Sylvester McCoy stories could be a bit hit an miss. Some were just basic retellings of the script with a little extra detail, and others which really fleshed out the stories and the characters wonderfully. This book falls into the latter category. Ben Aaronvitch was around the Doctor Who production office a lot during the two series he was there as a writer, and thus had insight into the character of Ace, and Andrew Cartmel's grander concepts of the Doctor. The story of Rassilon, Omega and The Other, the firebombing of Ace's friend Manisha's house, Davros' debates with himself about the racial purity fo the Kaled race, the exerpts from Kadiatu Lethbridge Stewart and Dalek name for the Doctor are all interwoven throughout Who continuity afterwards, in the books, audio and even in the new series.

That's before he gets to giving some of the characters real depth and backstory. The love affair between Group Captain Gilmour and Rachel Jensen is brought wonderflly to life here in a way that's barely hinted at on screen. The passage which describes the action from the internal point of view of the Daleks are very cleverly done, and Aaronvitch shows that he had a real understanding of the depth of characterisation of the Doctor that both Cartmell and McCoy were aiming for. Even the legendary Terence Dicks was never able to go this far.

In short one, of the finest novels in the Target range by the author that wrote the script for it in the first place.


Doctor Who - Paradise Towers [DVD] [1987]
Doctor Who - Paradise Towers [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: 7.78

18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite The Real McCoy...Yet, 2 May 2011
Sylvester McCoy was very much MY Doctor, it has to be said. For years I fond memories of this particular episode, as when I got older I found a lot of fans my age had. It was those giant cleaning robots, I tell you the captured the imaginations of a fair few seven year olds in the 80's! Nostalgia these days, is however, not what it used to be, this is a story that doesn't age well in so many respects.

Season 24 was beset with problems; no clear direction from the top as to what they wanted from the show apart from less violence (the fact that the very time cannibal element of the script caused uproar shows what they had to work against here), and a scrabble to get things into order after the chaos caused by Eric Sward's walk out as script editor after Trial Of A Time Lord. Several scripts had been comissioned and writen, but this, as with Time and the Rani, had to be hastily re-written as they had been planned for Colin Baker. This leaves Sylvester McCoy with something of a problem. His second story in, he is still finding his feet with what he wants to do with the character, and the script was ordered to be written loosely for the Doctor to help him. In fact it hinders, as there is nothing much for McCoy to hang his performance on. This is McCoy, but it's not quite his Doctor, even the umberalla hasn't been finalised yet!

That said about writing, this is essentially a good script with lots of great ideas. Steven Wyatt does write well, a fact he shows us with his follow up The Greatest Show In The Galaxy. The idea of a tower block society going wrong has a lot of echoes to 1980's issues, with some throwbacks to Hammer Horror. You have the groups of Kangs, The Caretakers (the ultimate jobsworths of the universe) and the very grim Ressies. Everything on paper works well. Unfortunately, things don't translate too well onto the screen.

A lot of 1980's Doctor Who suffers from the problem of being over lit, and this is a problem here. The whole thing is bright and garish and has the look of a Colin Baker 'budget' episode such as Timelash. Keff McCulloch's score, although last minute, is not great, in fact it detracts from the action, rather than serves it. Other last minute re-writes of a score have shown that this doesn't have to be a problem (Mark of the Rani for one!).

As for the performances, it's very much a mixed bag. The atmosphere on set seems to give the atmosphere more of a stage production than TV, especially from the Kangs. Bonnie Langford's Mel is refreshingly go getting, but again her performance here is more playing to the gods than the camera. The same can be said of Howard Cooke as Pex, who to be honest, could also use a little more build.

Other performances are better; the ever reliable Clive Merrison as the Deputy Chief Caretaker puts in a very well rounded performance, and in fact shares the best scene with Sylvester McCoy where the Doctor outwits the Caretakers using the rule book. Elizabeth Spriggs and Brenda Bruce play their Rezzie parts well, but the laurels got to Judy Cornwell as Maddy, who again creates a believable character, while at the same time clearly having a lot of fun.

Sad to say, I have to agree, Richard Briers as the metaphorical 'little Hitler' the Chief Caretaker, who can act so well, really misjudges it here. This is a performance designed for 'children's hour', particularly in the 'posessed' phase which is not what a Doctor Who performance should have.

This is not a classic, but the fact that the ideas were getting so much more current and adult points the way to where the show woudl finally be allowed to grow up properly in seasons 25 and 26. A very 80's curio!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 13, 2011 12:14 AM BST


The Best Of The Badge: 13 Years Of The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll You've Never Heard [Digital Version]
The Best Of The Badge: 13 Years Of The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll You've Never Heard [Digital Version]
Price: 5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, Aptly Monikered, 2 Sep 2010
New York's The Badge are a floating line up based around singer/songwriter Jeff Slate. In original press releases he said this was like Noel Gallagher in Oasis, or Jeff Lynne in ELO, but Ian Broudie in the Lightning Seeds, might be just as apt.
Online this runs at a mighty 21 tracks, and these are an accurate selection of what made The Badge work at their best. Also, wisely, inlcluded are a number of songs from Marc Teamaker, Jeff's collaborator for five years, whcih show the depth that the band were capable of stretching.

The Badge show a lot of sixties influence; particualrly in the British sound, and much of the Beatles, particularly in Jeff's case George Harrison, evident on the slide of celebrity swipe It Girl, the simlar guitar and general structure of song of regret King Without A Country and To Whom It May Concern. Jeff also shows us his understanding of giving a song a hip sixties hook on the joyous My Dolly and Watching Rainbows, plays with stonesey Summer Pop of Love Is Gone, goes for summer pop the wonderfully west coast All For Love, as well as the upbeat groove of Mixing Signals, and then there's the ballsy rock of Super Fine! There's a stronger hint of a Sergeant Pepper influenced tinge on his Digital Retro work, check out the downbeat grooves of Unfnished Business and Mr. Destiny; admire how good a four track (Yes four track) recording can still sound! Perhaps Jeff's finest all round moment has to be the glorious Dawning Of A New Day from Calling Generation Mojo, a superb three and half minute anthem about love and positivity.

If Jeff was the blood and guts of the band for the 13 years covered, then it's possible that Marc was the soul during his time with the band, sharing many of Slate's influences, but infusing elements of Steve Marriot and Marvin Gaye into the mix. Marc gives us the airy groove of Join The World and Spacey (a song which, although Marc as a writer never felt quite happy with, his wiser audience and colleague knew better about-how can you object to that organ solo?), as well as the unflinchingly upbeat Make Me Happy, a highlight in the band's live set. Also in the co-writing stakes, the two combine on Calling Generation Mojo and Random Road to provide equally big up numbers; but it's in the slower number numbers that Marc really excells. Mara Mara is an epic number of spirituality as well as mourning at the passing of love, I'm Not Your Man is a heartbreaking ballad done so very simply in the studio, but the highlight has to be the John Lennon tinged Where You Are, a beautiful song of loneliness played with such feeling all round, it's hard not to feel a frisson.

Add to this the oddity that is accoustic ballad Scarlett Johansenn and you have a lot of quality music for your money here. Invest wisely!


The Townshend Tapes
The Townshend Tapes
Price: 1.49

4.0 out of 5 stars The Pin That Anchored The Badge, 2 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Townshend Tapes (MP3 Download)
Before he bacme a lynch pin of the New York Examiner's popular culture section; before he created the free floating line up of New York's The Badge, Jeff Slate was a hard working solo artist who toured the US supporting many aritsts including Cheryl Crowe. Such was his energy and drive that, through his younger brother, Jeff attracted the attention of none other than Pete Townsend of The Who, who provided the funding for these very classy demos.

Fans of The Badge will find this a rewarding release, showing how Jeff came to that first Digital Retro album; indeed two of the songs were released on that very first album. The production has echoes of both the later work that Slate would produce later with The Badge, particluarly in the hammond laden mid noughties sessions, but you can also hear the sound of Townsend in here as well, who was acting as executive producer, it also has echoes of the sound used by Ray Davies on his second solo album Working Man's Cafe over ten years later.

Babylon is the definite leader on this collection; a heavy grooving tune which at first listen might sound like a piece of carpe diem hedonism, but in reality is a cynical swipe at the LA celebrity lifestyle. My Dolly is not quite in it's jangly sixties pop form that it would later find, but has a good solid groove of a well polished band performing well and still has that catchy hook at its heart. Perhaps most interesting here is Unfinished Business, which again would return on Digital Retro in a more Sergeant Pepper sounding form, here it sounds like nothing Slate has done since; an epic workout with a sound to fill an arena, indeed it comes close to the early nineties stadium sound of the time.

A polished early set from a man with a lot of knowledge and a lot of drive.


The New Avengers (8 Disc Collector's Edition Box Set) [DVD]
The New Avengers (8 Disc Collector's Edition Box Set) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Patrick Macnee
Price: 20.25

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avenging A New Decade!, 20 Jun 2010
The trouble that The New Avengers has is that it is sometimes compared rather poorly to its' predecessor. I'm a huge fan of both series, and what you have to get your mind around is that this is different. This is the seventies, there's a whole new style and edge to the world, and the show reflects this while still trying to keep some of the whimsy that made the Avengers such a success. Bottom line, this has Patrick Macnee as John Steed, so this must be the Avengers.

The remastered quality of both DVDs are excellent, and we get to see just what a major series this must have been at the time, it cetainly holds up a lot better than a lot of the old ITC shows. It takes Patrick a little time to find his feet in this as, due to the advent of Gareth Hunt as Mike Gambit, he has a little less leg work to do in the first series, but the charm and grace of an older Steed is there to see, and particularly in the second series, we get to see him just a little world weary at times. One he's there, Patrick still makes him the cunning old fox that he always was.

It's nice to hear the voice of the late Gareth Hunt speaking about his role and time on the show in the extras (of which I wish there were more) as he has often been downplayed. Mike Gambit was the typical seventies man of action, and the in the earlier episodes was often dressed to come over as a sort of rougher edged working class Steed. The main action of the first series was really his, although it has to be said that with Steed's increased role, his character suffers a lot in later episodes.

Joanna Lumley looks and performs beautifully. She actually manages to give the character more than is written for (really the script is more Tara Kind, whereas she is definitely Emma Peel in attitude). At times she is clearly loving what she is doing, and the chemistry between her and the two male leads means that show has a definite twinkle.

As for the episodes, frankly the series has two or three total duffers; Gnaws, Emily and The Gladiators, but a lot of the scripts are corkers; Eagle's Nest, Tale of The Big Why, Obsession, Angels of Death, Three Handed Game, To Cath A Rat, Cat Amongst The Pigeons and Forward Base all spring to mind. The rest are all visiaully striking at the very least (Target! and Sleeper being prime examples) and in one we have a definite contender for a top ten episode in the whole Avengers pantheon in Dead Men Are Dangerous.

Definitely worth a trip!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2014 9:25 PM BST


The Hollows of Time (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
The Hollows of Time (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
by Christopher H. Bidmead
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 12.97

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Hollow Ring, 17 May 2010
Christopher H Bidmead's time as script editor of Doctor Who saw a welcome darker and down to Earth tone creeping back into the Tom Baker era. They also so saw the show based much more on real scientific contexts, you only have to look at the 4/5th Doctor segue of Logopolis/Castrovalva to see this. Also those scripts really did work, they were the right balance of mood, talk, exposition and visuals, if a little light on action in places. However, this script seems to have suffered a lot in it's transition.

Originally penned for the 'lost' Colin Baker season, it sees the return of the Tractators from Frontios, and what would have been the seasonal return of the Master. Even though he works more in an Enigma role here has Professor Stream he has all the right Master attributes, hypnotism, ability to pilot the TARDIS, casual disregard for human life and an unfailing belief in the eventual success of his own mad scheme. There's a semi religious cult, an eccentric vicar, a creepy henchman and an enthusiastic young helper. All the right ingredients you might think. Sadly something is lost in translation.

For a start I should point out that Colin Baker is superb as ever on audio and his enthusiasm for the part almost keeps the thing ticking along. David Garfield also provides the right level of malevolence as Stream. The opening twenty minutes are very atmospheric and the flashback idea to cover the fact that they couldn't use the Master (Anthony Ainley not being alive, as well as rights issues proving a huge stumbling block) works well, and serves to break up the story efficiently. It can't however, solove a lot of the problems.

Peri goes back to being very underdeveloped as a character, particularly dissappointing coming after Leviathan. Also this was obviously a very visual script, and it just hasn't been translated well; there's a lot of the old pit fall of people going 'oh look this is happening', or 'I can see this and this and this,' rather than hinting and leaving to the mind, which Big Finish do so well. The fact that the second part involves a lot of running down (time) corridors and relies on this exposition doesn't help to make it less confusing. Adding to the confusion was the fact that they had to edit a lot of content out. And yes, I have to agree, Susan Sheridan pretending to be a boy just really doesn't work when exposed for that length of time.

What The Hollows of Time represents is a very good concept and idea, just not being realised as well as it could posibly have been. Christopher H Bidmead can write well, but this does not stand, sadly, as his finest hour.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2014 3:23 PM GMT


Leviathan (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
Leviathan (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
by Brian Finch
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 12.68

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lost Treasure Unearthed, 17 May 2010
Re-written by Paul Finch from his father's original script, Brian Finch's Leviathan's loss from the series can only be explained from one point of view. Lack of budget. The location work that would have been required extensively for the forest and castle scenes, let alone making the village exteriors, combined with the extensive model work which would have been required for certain sequences, and you would have blown the budget for an entire series.

Thankfully, Big Finish have no such problems, and are able to paint a vivid painting in the listener's mind. First of all the plot works as the best of the Baker era stories should have done. In two distinct acts. The whole of the first fourty five minutes has you guessing whether someone is tampering with medieval England, or whether the future of this country lies in a kind of Dark Ages revival before the plot twists on the neat cliffhanger at the end of the first episode, leading to some very well written characters on the salvage ship.

The performances from all the actors are convincing, and for the first time in this Lost Stories series, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are able to play the role more comfortably, as the parts have been more suitably fleshed out for audio, enjoying a semi comfortable bickering relationship with each other that is entirely in keeping with the television series. Baker in particular is having a whale of a time in the role and enjoys exploring further the very alien moral compass which his Doctor in particular had, and Nichola Bryant as Peri gets to be much more active than in precivious stories in this series. The suporting characters, are also well fleshed out, and there is none of the hallmark of Eric Saward script editing years; any character that dies in this story serves the furtherance of the plot.

I won;t say too much about the plot, don't want to spoil it for the rest of you who haven't heard it yet.

Rest assured an enjoyable romp!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2014 3:18 PM GMT


Doctor Who - Complete Specials (The Next Doctor/ Planet of the Dead/ Waters of Mars & Winter Specials) [DVD]
Doctor Who - Complete Specials (The Next Doctor/ Planet of the Dead/ Waters of Mars & Winter Specials) [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Price: 12.00

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine End To A Fine Era, 18 Jan 2010
Christopher Ecclestone left the audience wanting more having relaunched the show, David Tennant gave a defining performance and a fine era.

These last specials were a mini series in themselves, and link nicely, with the Doctor left alone to face his demons, and face them he does.

The Next Doctor is a fun Christmas romp, with some impressive looking scenes, and the teasing idea of a peek into the future, which is ultimately revealed to be folse. David Morissey puts in a sterling, warm performance and Dervla Kirwan is icy cool in the villainess role. The only trouble is that the Cybermen suffer from what they often suffered from in the original; they were badly used, and the attempt to update the Cybermats just doesn't quite work.

Planet Of The Dead, again, thanks to its' location work looks spectacular, and works well as a sort of mid season adventure. Lots of nods here to past ideas and references in the Who mkythology; the replacement for Ace was originally intended to be an aristocratic cat burglar, which Michelle Ryan does well. Her leaving in the flying bus has more than shade of Iris Wildthyme to it. Lee Evans is obviously enjoying himself too.

Waters Of Mars is, for me a classic. A base under seige story with a twist, the Doctor knows what is supposed to happen. Lynsay Duncan and the rest ratchet up the tension in this wonderfully. The idea of the Doctor, knowing his own mortality is nearly up (a Time Lord only has 13 lives) and getting drunk on the power that he can have is a wonderful sinister ending, especially when time shows him who is really in control.

The End Of Time works on a gloriously silly grand stage; The Master having a cult, and the Master race themselves being very grand and positively daft ideas, althought it does really give John Simm a wonderful second bite of the cherry at the character and he takes it with relish. Bernard Cribbins, as ever, is superb, and Timothy Dalton as Rassilon (how did they get him back from the long dead?!) plays the part with relish. It only loses a star for what has to tbe the most drawn out regeneration of the show's history. In the usual scheme of things, he would have saved Wilf, fallen out of the booth, collapsed, regenerated. Here he does a very over done curtain call, but with two nice touches; the farewell in the mind to Rose, as well as the line, 'I don't want to go', makes a stark change as he nears the end of his lives when compared to the resignation of his predecessors. This is hardly Ecclestone's last grin!

A fine end to a fine tenure.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2010 6:20 PM GMT


Doctor Who - Time and the Rani [DVD] [1987]
Doctor Who - Time and the Rani [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: 8.18

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Start, 18 Jan 2010
Colin Baker's end to his time of the Doctor was far from dignified. Publicly dumped by the BBC after what was the shortest run of episodes as the Doctor at the time, he wasn't even allowed the grace of a final season. As the scripts had already been comissioned with him in mind, this also makes Sylvester McCoy's debut the worst. No big story finish, a faked regeneration scene (with Sylv in a wig) and no real strong opening for the character, you really have to persevere through this one.

To be fair to the show, this is one of the better looking shows interms of location and effects; the pre-title sequence of the TARDIS being attacked is impressive for the day, one of the better video effects that started to appear in the show at this time, and the paintboxed quarry along with the very well realised bubble traps make, along with the exterior of the Rani's base, impressive viewing. The only effects letting the side down being the killer insects. The interiors are suffering from a hangover from the Baker era, very garsish and 80's looking.

Sylvester's first performance is confused, and absolutely nothing like the performance that was to come. In fact, the whole story seems to see him going through post regeneration trauma due to the fact that there is nothing for Sylvester to really hang his particular performance on. Pip and Jane Baker try to inject something new to the character for him at what really was the last minute by having him misquoting all the time (as opposed to Colin's frequent literary asides) but this very quickly becomes annoying and was wisely dropped afterwards. The other trouble with his Doctor, is that it becomes very clear from the outset, that Mel was much more suitable to Baker's loud, garish 6th Doctor. From here on in the character really doesn't work, and it shows straight away. Kate O'Mara's performance as The Rani is markedly different to the first time out, more sulky and stroppy than detatched, but her Bonnie Langford impression merits a star alone. She seems less the pure scientist she was and more a kind of tyrant here, right down to using Nazi terminology.

Also deserving a star for solid work in the supporting roles are Mark Greenstreet, Donald Pickering and Wanda Ventham as the Lakertyans, each giving their character the weight and sympathy that they truly deserved.

The plot involving the Rani stealing geniuses to destroy an asteroid of strange matter for her to be able to re-write time accross the universe sounds grand, but is less than impressive on screen. Really, this would have ben better edited down to a three parter mid season. This would have been a middling story on it's own, but the fact that this is 'debut' story makes this just tat bit more of a disappointment. However, the show would come back from this and show signs of true promise, before the axe fell.


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