Monday, May 30, 2011

Doctor Who : Double Episode Review

The Rebel Flesh (Part 1) & The Almost People (Part 2)

The Tardis lands outside an old convent. The Doctor and his crew discover that it's a factory pumping out lethal acid. To deal with the danger of this, the five workers have something called Gangers - exact duplicates made out of programmable organic material. When the Doctor investigates, he finds out that this flesh is actually alive and because of an electrical storm (what else?) the Gangers become self-aware, with all the memories and emotions that come with it. Fighting for the right to exist, they wage a war against their human originators.

This two part episode was very much based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the often recurring sci-fi subject of human cloning. Again, not a particularly original idea but I think it was executed well. Showing the different reactions of the various Gangers and humans was an effective way of weighing up the possibilities of the situation. Do the Gangers have the same rights as the 'originals' or are they just monsters?

Having Amy confuse the two Doctors showed that the duplicates are essentially the same person, just as Jennifer's Ganger explains to Rory. I like that Rory went out to do what he thought was right, finally standing up to Amy and the Doctor. It's just a shame that his efforts proved futile as he was tricked by Ganger Jennifer, making him seem like a bit of a loser once again. I hope that he gets to man-up at some point.

Most of the acting was a bit bland, and the only crew member I particularly liked was Cleaves. Her disdain towards her Ganger seemed realistic and understandable, while most of the crew wanted a peaceful solution, she felt threatened and saw the Gangers as a mistake. If you discovered a duplicate of yourself wouldn't you at least feel that the copy was a bit of an imposter? Only really alive for an hour, but acting like they've lived your life, felt all your emotions and shared all of your experiences? It felt a lot more like a normal reaction to me than the Doctor's instant acceptance of his doppelganger. I know he has a great sense of identity but the "great, there's two of me!" response was pompous and annoying.

Buzzer was alright, but underused. He was mostly just a bit of cannon fodder. Jimmy was obviously just there for the sob story, not that it wasn't sweet that all he amounted to was a Dad. I liked Jennifer at first, but her overacted cuteness got a bit much, although showed that she was the right choice for the one to go psychotic in the end. And then there's one crew member I keep forgetting. They obviously should have put more effort into developing the personalities of the crew, and then perhaps Whatsisname might have had a chance to shine.

But no matter how good the story was, it's all forgotten at the end of part 2. What a cliffhanger! How come Amy was flesh all along, and since when has she been in that chamber? Who or what got her pregnant, and just who is the Eye-Patch Lady. It all seems very intriguing. So far this series, it has definitely been the ongoing story-arc that has kept me interested. I can't wait to find out what happens next week!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

70's Fever! : Style & Fashion

This summer fashion is all about the 70's. Long flowy dresses, flared jeans and peasant tops. This look is cute, flirty and a bit flamboyant. But it is only one of the many fun styles that shaped the face of fashion in this decade. Unlike many fads these days, fashion seemed to go undeniably hand-in-hand with the music scene. Over the next few weeks I'll be covering my favourite looks such as Glamrock, Punk and Disco, starting now with maybe the most popular, Bohemian.
You've probably seen loads of celebrities (such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Zooey Deschanel and Kate Moss) donning "Boho-Chic" over the last few summers. When the temperature rises, Boho-Chic is the perfect alternative to skimpy sundresses and mini-skirts.

But this is very much a watered down version of the more exciting and hysteric Bohemian style of the 70's. Developed further from the 60's hippie look, Boho was also influenced by Pre-Raphaelite and 20's fashion. Janis Joplin was already wearing this kind of thing before the 70's came along, with colourful feather boa's as headdresses, velvet and lace clothes and a casual flamboyance which makes Boho such a playful style. Taking luxurious, draping fabrics, headbands and long middle-parted hair from the Pre-Raphaelites created a fairytale-like, feminine feel while the detailed decorations as seen on many a Flappers dress (and on Sally Bowles the 1972 musical Cabaret) made the look more extravagant and sexy.

Fashion icons such as Jerry Hall and Bianca Jagger who are still admired today are famous for wearing this style. They made it look very feminine, glamorous and a little bit disco. But it wasn't just for women. A great example for this Bohemian look is Mark Bolan from T-Rex. With his tophats, velvet suits and kohl-rimmed eyes his look borders on Glamrock, but to me it feels more bohemian. There's a nonchalance to his style that reminds of the artsy Greenwich Village in the 60's. That world of aspiring artists, poets and singer-songwriters is what I think of when the word Bohemian comes up. It's a little pretentious, a little folky and mostly exciting and fun.

Because of these different influences you can really put your own spin on this style. You could go for a very feminine, glamorous outfit, combining floor-length floral dresses with strappy, wedged sandals and a big floppy sunhat or headscarf, or if you fancy something a bit more casual flared jeans and a peasant top. But my favourite bohemian look is the more gothic approach. Velvets, lace, brocate, flower-adorned hats and lots of rich decoration, it's darker, sexier and not just for summer.

Here are some key items if you want to go for this look this summer:

-A floorlength, flowy dress or skirt for that easy, instantly retro look. They look great on anyone, just make sure you don't end up looking shapeless by getting a waisted dress and not a moomoo. Wear them belted, with a crocheted bolero or a sleeveless denim shirt tied at the waist and some chuncky jewellery and you're good to go.

-A peasant blouse and flared jeans for a cute, girl-next-door look. A great everyday outfit, wear them with mules, sneakers or platform sandals.

-A hat. Any kind of hat will do, you can decorate it as you like. Add flowers, pearls, lace veils, peacock feathers for an instand eye-catcher.

-Black kohl eyeliner and coral lipgloss. Go for a grungy look with smudged eyeliner, smokey eyes and nude (or black as seen on Daisy Lowe) lips, or a more healthy glowing look with soft pastel eyeshadows, a peachy blush and coral lipstick or lipgloss.

Coming up next: Punk! I'll be looking at Debbie Harry, the Sex Pistols and ofcourse the mother of punk fashion Vivien Westwood. Also stay tuned for make-up tutorials to go with these iconic fashion styles.

70's Fever!

Since fashion seems to all be about the 70's this summer, I thought I'd have a look back at this decade filled with awesome music, classic films, great clothes and bad hairdos.

Some of the best-loved entertainment came from this time: Star Wars, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Grease, the Rocky Horror Picture Show (to name just a few movies/musicals), Queen, Led Zeppelin, ABBA. The 70's saw the birth of two of the most contradicting music styles, disco and punk. And in turn this rich variety of music and the streetstyles that went with them influenced some of the coolest and most fun fashion that gets referenced again and again.

Over the next few weeks I'll be writing about my favourite music, movies and fashions from this time. Top 5's, movie reviews, comparisons between old and new versions of classic TV and movies and tips on how to dress like a true 70's chick. There's no escaping it, this summer everyone seems to have 70's fever!

Up next: Bohemian style tips and my top 5 ABBA songs!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DOCTOR WHO Episode Review - The Doctor's Wife

Doctor Who written by Neil Gaiman, a highly episode and many a geek's fantasy come true, but although on paper this matchup could only result in an excellent fan-favourite episode, unfortunately it left me disappointed and mostly, bored.

After the Doctor receives a Time Lord's S.O.S. in the mail, he and his companions fly off outside the universe. When they arrive, the Tardis' soul is transferred to a crazy woman's body by some sort of creature. The crazy woman, two other patchwork weirdos and an oud all live on this entity which keeps them alive by fixing them with Time Lord parts. Now the Tardis is an empty shell, the creature inhabits it and flys back to the universe with Amy and Rory captive inside. While the creature is messing with their minds and trying to destroy them the ever-heroic Doctor and the human Police Box build a new Tardis out of remnants and save Amy, Rory and the old Tardis.

This episode leaves so many questions unanswered. First of all, why do they suddenly feel that there's no need for backstory or explanations anymore? This time the creature didn't even have an identity beyond a name ('The House'). It was not explained how it came to be there, whether it has a physical body or not (I assume not considering it's inhabiting the Tardis as a means to return to the universe), but then what is the thing that the people are living on? An asteroid? A dense lifeless piece of rock? How could that be used as a body? Or if it's a planet, how did it end up outside of the universe? What kind of planet was it? It seems like a pretty big deal to me, if a whole planet suddenly disappears from the universe, but apparently Doctor Who doesn't care to find out.

The core idea could be interesting (although not particularly original. Futurama, and I'm sure other shows, have already humanised their spaceship in one episode) but when you dig a little deeper, there are just too many loose ends in this episode. I couldn't stand the Tardis as a woman either. She was like a particularly dumb and excitable puppy - ditzy, wide-eyed and of course like virtually every other female presence on the show, in love with the Doctor. But where as puppys are adorable, I expect a bit less cutesy-wutesy banter (was she supposed to be sexy?) from a centuries old time and dimension travelling console that's had to put up with the Doctor, and a bit more gravitas and wisdom.

A few sentimental scenes came off as merely trite and the rest just seemed to be acted out by a pantomime cast. Meanwhile, as Rory and Amy were trapped in the Tardis we get such lovely scenes as Rory having died (yet again - third time in four episodes) after so many thousands of years which he spent scrawling 'Die Amy' and 'Kill Amy' on the walls. First of all, this seems totally out of character. He loves her so much he's already waited 2000 years for her as a centurion, but now it's happened again he blames her for just leaving him there and hates her so much that he wants her dead. Secondly, since when is Doctor Who set in Silent Hill? People have complained before that the show has become too scary for kids. I thought they were over-reacting at first - there's nothing wrong with family entertainment being a bit dark and spooky - but scenes like this are just cold, nasty, unneccessary and have no place in a family show. Surely they could have thought of other, more subtle ways to show how the House was messing with their heads?

I think that this episode was probably the worst possible outcome of this collaboration. I tried to like it - I really love most of Neil's work and have been enjoying Matt Smith as the Doctor for the most part, but this just fell flat. It wasn't written by Neil Gaiman, the highly acclaimed fantasy writer behind American Gods, Coraline and Sandman, but instead by Neil Gaiman the Doctor Who fan, trying to figure out a way to justify his 'special feelings' towards a blue police box.
A massive disappointment. Fingers crossed for something better next week.

DOCTOR WHO Episode Review - Curse Of The Black Spot

This week the Tardis lands on a pirate ship. Soon the Doctor and co. find out that the ship is haunted by a siren. Cursing injured men with a black spot on the palm of their hands she calls out to them, and once they touch her, they vanish into thin air.

After this series' first two episodes, which were both very intense, propelling the series overriding story arc forward, a plain fun, stand-alone episode should come as a welcome relief. It all sounds great - a haunted pirate ship, a scary siren and a swashbuckling Amy, but the Curse Of The Black Spot fell a little flat for me.

The story seemed rushed and under-developed. The origin of the siren nurse and the spaceship she inhabits, and the logistics of how the pirates ship came to be caught in between two dimensions were never explained. The pirates were too tame and the sets were obviously just that. It ruined what could have been a creepy, unsettling atmosphere. Try as I might, it was hard to enjoy the story while being distracted by the black cloth surrounding the ship or noticing how much the sickbag scenes looked like the came from Flatliners.

I did however, like the siren effects and the wide ocean shots, both of which looked ethereal and spooky, and of course Amy made a cool pirate. The thing that annoyed me most was that one of the main characters nearly died - again. It just gets a bit old, and the shock effect wears off, seeing the same routine played out week after week.

Anyway, not a great episode, but at least we've got the much anticipated Neil Gaiman penned adventure coming up next week!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

DOCTOR WHO Episode Review: Day Of The Moon

Things go from bad to worse this week when Amy, Rory and River are chased down and killed by the FBI while Doctor Who is imprisoned in Area 51. But quickly it is revealed that it was all an elaborate ploy to get together with FBI Agent Canton Delaware to privately discuss The Silence.

Only the second episode and already this series is kicking ass. As a collective, The Silence are amongst the show's best villains and are properly scary and mysterious. The scenes in the abandoned orphanage are so chilling and reminded me of playing the notoriously frightening game 'Silent Hill'. I especially got the creeps when Amy found the nest on the ceiling and the insectlike sound emanating from it was truly horrible. The only thing I don't really get is why they wear those suits if they've been around since the discovery of the wheel. (Maybe they're trying to form a kind of alien Rat Pack?) I wonder how they looked back then, but now they mostly just remind me of The Gentlemen (who also had a strong association with silence) from the Buffy episode 'Hush'.

I loved that Rory was given more screen time in this episode as I mentioned last week that the character seemed under-utilized to me. I really felt for him when he overheard Amy talking about who she really loved and he was unsure as to whether she was referring to him or the Doctor. There always seems to be something going on between Amy and the Doctor, so I totally understand Rory's insecurities and its great to see them played out like that.

Another tearjerking moment was when River kissed Doctor Who and it's the 'first time' for him . The fateful day that she has foreseen seems to be drawing ever closer. I wonder what she will do when that day arrives. Maybe, as some are speculating, she'll become the next Doctor. After all, she can time travel and knows when he will die, so who knows, but when it is finally time for a female Doctor, I hope it is River Song. She's already quickly becoming a favourite with fans, and I'm no exception.

But the big question this episode (and possibly throughout this entire season) is the identity of the girl in the astronaut suit. Since she regenerates at the end of this episode, I assume she is at least part Time Lord, but is Amy her mother as the photo in the orphanage suggests, or perhaps someone else is (like River Song). The writers sure do a great job of leaving you wanting more.

This was yet another excellent episode. Roll on next Saturday, when the Doctor shall be fighting pirates. Yarr!