Sunday, 21 April 2013

Doctor Who 'The Rings of Akhaten' Review

On their first proper trip together in the Tardis the Doctor takes Clara to see the Rings of Akhaten, where several planetoids circle an asteroid with a great golden pyramid and a giant star.  The duo visit a large alien market on the planet closest to the pyramid where dozens of species have gathered for a ceremony that only occurs once every thousand years.

Whilst exploring Clara meets a young girl named Merry Gejelh, the Queen of Years who has an important part to play in the ceremony.  Initially afraid of taking part because she might go wrong Clara convinces her to go ahead.

The Doctor and Clara attend the ceremony, where The Doctor explains that since the Rings were settled there has been a constant song sung to keep an angry god asleep. The people fear that the god, which they call Grandfather, will awaken and consume the entire universe if the song is ever interrupted.  Merry begins her song, but during the ceremony the mummy within the pyramid awakens and Merry is pulled into it.

The Doctor and Clara race after her to save her from the mummy and prevent the angry god from awakening. 
The Doctor and Clara see Akhaten for the first time.

‘The Rings of Akhaten’ is an interesting episode filled with marvels and massive scope, unfortunately it suffers from the modern series format.  Crammed into a scant 45 minutes the episode feels incredibly rushed and half told.  The plot would have felt more at home as a classic series serial, with several episodes in which to fully explore the plot and characters. 

As it is the Vigil and the Mummy appear briefly and play very little actual threat and the resolution comes so soon that it feels almost easy.  Yes, there are some great character moments and the episode is filled with visual spectacle but these cannot help to save the episode from its glaring faults. 

The Doctor confronts the 'Angry God'.
A very rushed episode that doesn’t have enough time to fully explore the story or characters.  Could very well have been a great episode, but as it is may be remembered as something of a misstep.  4/10.


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Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Letter of Concern to MP Results

Some of my regular readers might remember that a number of weeks ago I wrote to my local MP following the tragic events of Lucy Meadows death after the invasion of her privacy of the Daily Mail and Richard Littlejohn.  Unfortunately this was not a single isolated incident but just another of a long list of examples of the press feeling like they’re free to discriminate against transgender people with little to no consequences.

I thought that it was time that the trans community took matters into their own hands and take our concerns to the government as things clearly aren’t going to get better with the current systems in place.  I urged my readers to write to their MP’s and express their anger and sadness at theses events.  I’m not sure how many of you did this, but I did.  And I seem to have had something of a result.

After emailing my local MP I received a response from him, expressing his support for my concerns and reassured me that he would take the matter further.  At the time I thought ‘that’s nice, but it’s probably just a standard response to letters like this’.  Yesterday, however, it became clear that it wasn’t but that Mr Hollobone, my local MP, had in fact meant what he said.

I received a copy of the letter that Mr Hollobone had sent to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.  He includes my original letter within and asks that she carry my concerns further and hopefully reaches some kind of result.

I’m unsure as to how far this will go, and doubt that things will change just because I have sent my letter.  However, it has found itself into the hands of someone with some degree of power that can bring these concerns to others that may be able to make positive changes.

I think it is important that the trans community realise that we can make a difference, that our voices can be heard if we speak out.  If you haven’t done so already I urge you to follow my example.  One letter of concern can make someone take notice, hundreds possibly thousands can make a very real difference.  Don’t stay silent, things won’t get better for trans people unless we’re willing to stand up and do something about it.


Doctor Who 'The Bells of Saint John' Review


‘The Bells of Saint John’ is the first episode of the second half of series seven of Doctor Who.  Following on from the 2012 Christmas special ‘The Snowmen’ we continue with the mystery of Clara Oswald, who is she and why does she keep appearing throughout time?  

The episode begins with a man on a computer screen warning people about some strange threat inside the Wi-Fi, that will drain the minds from those who become exposed to it.

We then find ourselves in 1207, where the Doctor has retreated to a monastery to contemplate the mystery of Clara.  The Doctor is disturbed from his contemplation when one of the monks informs him that ‘the bells of saint john are ringing’.  Travelling to a cavern where he has hidden the Tardis we discover that the ‘bells of saint john’ refers to the telephone within the Tardis, which bears the Saint Johns Ambulance logo.

The Doctor answers the phone and enters into a conversation with Clara, whom he does not initially recognise, who is having problems with her internet connection.  The Doctor is about to hang up the phone when Clara says the phrase ‘run you clever boy and remember’ as a mnemonic for her password.  Realising who he is talking to the Doctor sets out to find her.

Beware the Wi-Fi.
The Doctor arrives at Clara’s home in time to find her being attacked ‘uploaded’ to the mysterious Wi-Fi signal by a robotic mobile server.  Preventing the upload the Doctor manages to save Clara this time, the pervious two versions of her he had previously came across having died. 

Clara learns the truth about the Doctor being a time travelling alien and agrees to help him to stop the threat from the Wi-Fi, though little do them know that there are much greater forces at work in the shadows.

Clara and the Doctor race to save the day.

‘The Bells of Saint John’ is by no means the most exciting episode on which to start the second half of series seven, but it’s still a competently engaging episode with a number of over the top set pieces and gorgeous visuals.

The reintroduction of Clara into the Doctors life feels a little more chance than anything else, though her comment about being given his number by ‘the woman in the shop’ who tells her it’s the ‘best helpline in the universe’ has me believing that their was a definite hand played in getting these two together again.  River song jump to mind for anyone else?

Clara and the Doctor play off each other wonderfully, the quickness of banter between the two of them feels fresh and exciting, and lets face it introducing new companions is all about making the show special again. 

Miss Kizlet and the Doctor come face to face.
The threat of the Wi-Fi and the ‘Spoonheads’ could have been something silly and dull, but the fact that the people behind it are able to use something that is almost everywhere in modern life to track the Doctor and toy with him gives the bad guys some added power.

A good episode that sets up a great new dynamic between the Doctor and Clara and even hints at some long term set up for baddie The Great Intelligence ‘The Bells of Saint John’ is a neat little reintroduction to the show and will hopefully draw in a number of new fans.  7/10


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