Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Doctor Who - Time Zone (Season 1)

First Doctor (David Bradley) and Ace (Sophie Aldred)

Exploring a familiar Universe...

I have always been interested in possible spin-offs to the popular BBC television show Doctor Who and it got me thinking: what if, instead of one spin-off scenario, there was a series of multiple adventures to further explore the Who universe, all different and from various perspectives? It would certainly allow for free artistic development featuring an assortment of characters and monsters from the show. Imagine a single story featuring a lone Dalek encountering a colony of Humans, it needs their help to repair its spacecraft - but the creature inside the casing is injured and doesn't remember that it is supposed to hate.  So here goes my idea of Time Zone, Season 1...

Series 1.1. Doctor Who - Legion of Fire

(Features the First Doctor as played by David Bradley. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan land on a planet whose Humanoid inhabitants are sacrificed to fire beings. Mistaken for an escaped prisoner, Susan will be the next to be handed over for an offering)

I will admit, I wasn't a fan of Bradley in Twice Upon A Time, the 2017 Christmas special. However, that was more to do with the writing than anything else. I do believe the First Doctor as portrayed by Bradley does deserve a second bite at the apple on the small screen. The actor has already reprised the role for audio company Big Finish, whose catalogue of excellent full cast adventures continue to grow, so it wouldn't be an impossibility for Bradley to take the reigns of the TARDIS for a new televised story.

Maybe it could be filmed in black and white to give it that nostalgic feel?

Series 1.2. At Childhood's End - Ace of Hearts

(Starring Sophie Aldred. Ace last saw the 13th Doctor 5 months ago. Time to move on. That is, until a darkness engulfs a part of the city and residents begin seeing ghosts)

I've been a huge fan of the character of Ace ever since her first televised appearance in 7th Doctor story Dragonfire. She is most definitely a fan favourite. In a new fiction book published in 2020, Ace finally got to meet the 13th Doctor. But just imagine if Dorothy McShane (Ace) was given a television episode all to herself, no Doctor, just her charity and a chance to fight the monsters on her own terms... This could be the second episode in a possible spin-off series.

Maybe she'd get a chance to use a baseball bat.

Series 1.3. Jack Harkness - The Killing Tomb

(Archaeologists unearth something sinister in Scotland. As the dead rise, a mysterious man arrives to investigate. No Torchwood, just a Jack of all trades)

Okay, I'll admit now, I'm not a huge fan of Captain Jack or John Barrowman. But that doesn't mean I don't see the potential of involving both in an adventure. He's (Barrowman) very much loved in the Torchwood and Doctor Who community, and the prospect of someone directing a very dark story in keeping with Torchwood would be a missed opportunity. Like Ace, this episode would help to bring a balance to the overall feel of The Time Zone.

Davros (Julian Bleach)

Series 1.4. Davros - The Thal Conspiracy

(The creator of the Daleks must be smuggled out of Thal space by a bounty hunter whose own motives aren't at all clear. No Daleks, just a singular story focusing on the Kaled scientist)

With this one I have 'The Davros Mission' and 'I, Davros' in mind, both produced by Big Finish. Doctor Who is generally obsessed with the Daleks, and it wasn't until 1975's Genesis of the Daleks that their creator was introduced. Even though he returned in four more times during the classic era, he's been pretty much neglected in New Who. Yes, he's made appearances but they've not been anything equal to the success of Genesis. It would be nice to finally understand the man, a story that delves into his psyche in a way only heard in 'I, Davros'. 

Series 1.5. Time Lords - Diary of a Gallifreyan

(From the perspective of an ordinary Gallifreyan and his family during unrest on the planet)

Doctor Who has rarely touched on the people of Gallifrey beyond Time Lord society, though The Invasion of Time (1978) comes to mind. I've also been inspired by Big Finish's Gallifrey audio series. I believe it would be interesting to see that world from the viewpoint of a Gallifreyan family whose lives are limited compared to a Time Lord. How do they live, is poverty and hunger commonplace on Gallifrey if you're not one of the elite? What happens to this family if there is civil unrest or a Time War? They can't just get into a TARDIS and be whisked away from it all. And they only have one life, no regeneration.

Series 1.6. Doctor Who - Arabella

(Featuring the Eighth Doctor as played by Paul McGann. The Doctor has been travelling alone for quite some time. He doesn't plan on having a new companion any time soon. However, the TARDIS makes a force landing on a world of ice where Humans are at war with venomous giant snake-like creatures)

It doesn't look as if Paul McGann will ever be given his own television series so what better way to celebrate his past appointment as the Doctor than by involving him in a complete episode? Not a short like The Night of the Doctor (2013) but a full 45 minute adventure perhaps not even linked to the Time War but set way before. This can be a Doctor who is yet to be affected by the stresses of the Daleks and Time Lords, a traveler in a blue box who just wants to explore, alone.

McGann has reprised the role for many Big Finish tales so it wouldn't be an impossibility to get the actor back on board. A one-off if need be, or a number of episodes over a few series, mixed in with other stories and various characters.

All the above is just an example of what could be achieved if the BBC decided to go down this route. It would be various, thought-provoking, and a glorious celebration of life beyond the current Doctor, whoever that may be. I also don't believe it would be confusing for fans, new or old, as many audiences these days are quite used to a multi Universe themed ride via both the small and big screen. Because each series is varied it'd give a chance for writers to explore different incarnations of the Who world without the need to blow budgets on lots of spin-offs - Time Zone would be the ultimate spin-off.

Disney: Not What It Used To Be?

"The soul’s not there. The soul is what makes things grow..."
Frank Oz

Originally published on The Dreamcage.

I love Disney! This must be clearly understood. I grew up watching the Mouse House. Today, however, I fail to see the same company that I respected. Once upon a time there were great and fun movies like Tron, The Black Hole, The Journey of Natty Gann, Flight of the Navigator, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, One Magic Christmas, Return to Oz, and of course the wonderful Herbie films. My childhood was protected in Disney bubble wrap. But I do wonder what has changed? Today, Disney seems to have lost its creative soul.

I'm certainly not going to step on the 'Disney ruined Star Wars' crap, as I don't really see it; Star Wars might not be as good as it used to be, but that's purely 'cause I'm seeing it through different eyes these days, not the innocent eyes of a naïve child. I certainly don't dislike what's being produced in the SW universe, though a little bit of new ground would be nice.

What I do see, sadly, is an obsession with remakes and unnecessary sequels. I still can't agree that Tron Legacy was needed, and it's a movie I've watched three times now - not because it's good but more for the hope that it'll improve with each viewing. Nope. Thankfully I still have the original.

Maybe I'm firmly stuck in a time capsule? But even legend Frank Oz has reportedly said that Disney lacks 'soul' these days. I have to agree with him. Today you just wouldn't see something like The Watcher In The Woods. Though not politically correct, I still have a fondness for One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing; I don't agree with book burning and I certainly have a dislike for 'cancelling' history, it's important to see yesterday in a certain way while facing today with a far more inclusive attitude - we are appalled by slavery and Roman Arena savagery but why ignore their footprints just because they leave a sour taste?

I digress. Looking at the movie catalogue of Disney over the past 20 years I don't see "classics" like there used to be in the 70-80s. Again, maybe it's my age. Maybe I've just overlooked some amazing original titles and need to dig deeper. But Mouse House does seem to advertise its bland franchises first, because... money.

I do feel like Pirates of the Caribbean might just be the only classic of the past twenty years.

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Friday, January 1, 2021

Ayn Walsh - Movie Club 2021

"The only survivor in a post-apocalyptic world...." OK, maybe not, but with 2020 now truly a vision of the past, Ayn Walsh looks forward to some of the films due for release in 2021...

Originally published on The Dreamcage.

Due to a remake of The Omega Man, the year 2020 mostly closed for business. In truth its been a tough year for many and my heart goes out to those affected by the events of the pandemic. It's also been a year in which many movies have been put on hold while the world tries to put itself back together. Except for titles such as Wonder Woman 1984, other big budget features have rightfully waited for a better time to reach a majority of film fans. We're all hoping 2021 will be that time.

I've taken a look at some of those movies due out over the next 12 months and have decided to share my favourites with you, the reader. They are in no particular release order so, let's get started...

First up is a sequel many have spent the last 20 years waiting for: GHOSTBUSTERS AFTERLIFE. After a not so popular attempt at GHOSTBUSTERS: ANSWER THE CALL (I'm a fan of the 2016 film), this new project is in the hands of Jason Reitman, son of original GHOSTBUSTERS director Ivan Reitman. Though it stars a new cast, GB:A will include familiar faces such as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts in their much loved roles from the first two GHOSTBUSTERS films.

Second in my list of movies for 2021 is THE CONJURING 3 (also known as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It - however I prefer the shorter title, easier to say when drunk). Reprising their rules as supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren are Patrick Wilson and my favourite Vera Farmiga. The story is based on a demonic possession and has been described as 'One of the most sensational cases from their (Ed and Lorraine) files'.

My third choice is slasher flick CANDYMAN. Yes, our favourite "hook for a hand" supernatural killer is back, played once more by Tony Todd. From what I can make out this fourth film in the franchise is a direct sequel to its 1992 original and ignores the other titles altogether - those being CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH (1995) and CANDYMAN: DAY OF THE DEAD (1999). Personally I'm not a fan of movie sequels being cast to the trash can in favour of a 'better sequel' timeline but we'll see where it takes us. Candyman was created by author Clive Barker, also known as the creator of Hellraiser and the Cenobites.

HALLOWEEN KILLS is my next choice for 2021. We all know the name Michael Myers and how he murdered his sister and many residents of an American town through the years. 1978 gave us one of the best serial killers of all time. Sadly a 2018 sequel ignored a number of other sequels to create a new official timeline. A shame as I am a huge fan of HALLOWEEN 4 and HALLOWEEN 5 (Danielle Harris' casting as Jamie Lloyd had great potential until HALLOWEEN 6). That all said, I can't help but love me some Michael Myers on 31st October, so a new instalment is welcome.

Next up is video game RESIDENT EVIL getting a remake for the Big Screen. Actress Milla Jovovich starred in six film instalments loosely based on the famous horror video game of the same name from 2002 to 2016. Love or dislike them, they've certainly been very popular. Though the original movies drifted quite far from the games, it'll be interesting to see what RESIDENT EVIL in 2021 achieves. It's been said that the new movie will be "Super, super scary" and far more loyal to its source material. Interestingly it will feature characters from the games including Claire Redfield and her brother Chris, Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, and Albert Wesker.

A QUIET PLACE PART 2 is my final choice. Its 2018 instalment almost went unnoticed to me, but thankfully I experienced it last year and enjoyed it very much. Emily Blunt reprises her role as Evelyn, as do Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as her children. The premise is that the family must continue to survive in a world where monsters hunt by sound. I'm very excited for this one and most definitely recommend A QUIET PLACE if you haven't already watched it.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Walsh Journals - Exploring Star Wars: The Clone Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Ayn Walsh starts an epic journey through the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, currently streaming on Disney+

Originally published on The Dreamcage.

'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' has really expanded the galaxy and explored characters I had completely taken for granted in the Prequel Trilogy. Looking back, it's a missed opportunity that Jedi Masters such as Plo Koon and Aayla Secura weren't given proper screen time. Thankfully the animated series takes us back to that period in Star Wars history and gives us a glimpse of life beyond the Skywalkers.

I collect both Star Wars Attax trading cards and figures in the Black Series line but I've not often bought anything associated with Sith or Jedi who I don't recognise or have much knowledge of. Except, I'm really missing out because there are some fabulous characters in the franchise who aren't very well known unless you read Legends or watch either The Clone Wars or Rebels. For example, Thrawn was someone who totally went under my radar for far too long! If you don't know him, Thrawn is an Imperial tactician whose talents have helped him rise through the ranks. He's a threat to the rebel alliance and a cunning warrior.

This week I've started The Clone Wars: Season 1. It's been around for 12 years (TCW debuted in 2008) and I'm only just now 'discovering' it. Still, the computer animation is cute and the storytelling nothing short of spectacular. Though only about 25 minutes in length, each episode is tightly written with nice character development and plenty of space battles or lightsaber duels. One of my favourite characters is young Ahsoka Tano, Padawan to Anakin Skywalker - she's confident, wise and brave, and I know her story will evolve as she grows.

It's important not to get The Clone Wars mixed up with an animated series called 'Star Wars: Clone Wars' that was broadcast from 2003-2005, as they're not the same show! In fact, after Disney acquired the rights to Lucasfilm in 2012, the latter was made non-canonical. So, it's the 2008-2020 CGI fest that I'm accepting as Canon.

In 'A New Hope' it was once a mystery as to who the Jedi were. When referring to the lightsaber, Obi-wan said to Luke, "An elegant weapon for a more civilized age". The Jedi hermit also gave a mention to Darth Vader and how the Jedi were hunted down. George Lucas visualised these events in The Prequel Trilogy; we got to see the Jedi as observers and negotiators, peacekeepers and warriors. Because the films were focused on telling Anakin's fall to the Dark Side of the Force, we didn't get to see anything more. The Clone Wars rectifies this, being set between Episodes 2 (Attack of the Clones) and 3 (Revenge of the Sith).

Of course we do know how things will turn out: Palpatine will execute Order 66 and the Jedi will face the wrath of the Sith. Some are destined to survive - Ahsoka, Obi-wan, and Yoda are three of them! But life in the galaxy far, far away will never be the same again…

As my journey through this series continues I'll write up some more thoughts and discoveries. I'll try not to give away important spoilers but I'll flag such content if they shall rise. I'm already looking forward to the conclusion of Season 1.

MTFBWY — "The winding path to peace is always a worthy one, regardless of how many turns it takes."