The Crown Episode 1 review: Wolferton Splash is a strong start for Netflix’s royal drama

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In many ways, this episode is dedicated to setting up the chessboard. It’s not quite about Elizabeth (Claire Foy) in the way one might have expected; rather, it’s dedicated to contextualising her story and introducing the characters. We spend most of our time focused on King George (Jared Harris), Elizabeth’s father – as he copes with a terminal illness, we begin to get an impression of quite how difficult the life of a monarch is, and what exactly Elizabeth will face over the rest of the series. 

The first of several reviews of The Crown I did for CultBox; it’s a series that I have something of a complicated opinion on, in that it’s probably quite good, but I don’t actually like it very much.

(That’s going to become increasingly apparent across the rest of these reviews, but the seeds of it are here even now; it’s interesting to read this initial review back, after having watched the rest of the show and grown increasingly disillusioned with it.)

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Kevin James and Zulay Henao on True Memoirs of an International Assassin, working with Netflix, and more

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I’ve got to say. I’ve enjoyed working with them so much, it was such a great experience. They gave notes on stuff, but they were really great notes, and they were really collaborative; it just felt like you had really chill partners for the whole movie making process of it all, and they just let you do your thing, you know?

That’s really what was great about this for me, and it was a bit of a departure from what I normally do, and there’s moments in here where a lot is different. And that was exciting for me, and they really embraced that – like I said, they were great partners, and they really made you feel better.

This was the first interview I did. Must admit, I was pretty nervous, but I think it went pretty well in the end. I think if you compare this to all the others I did, while there’s been an obvious evolution in style since, a lot of my approach remains fairly similar. (Though I’ve since got a bit more stringent with my research – I nearly said Kevin James was in Mike and Molly at one point, which I can’t imagine would’ve been good.)

But, no, yeah, it was fun. I was actually in a discord call with a lot of my friends at the time – they were all listening in, doing some backup recording, and helped with questions at one point when I thought I was running out. So that was nice. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for this interview.

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The Flash: Why Zoom should have been Eddie Thawne

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What I find so surprising, though, is that the writers had a much better option open to them that they decided not to take. I’m quite firmly of the believe that had Zoom been revealed to be Eddie, he would have been a far superior villain, and indeed given us a far superior season to boot. I’ve written a little bit about this before, highlighting why I thought Eddie-as-Zoom not only made sense in terms of the plot, but also thematically and dramatically. Consider – Barry has been dealing with the choice he made at the end of the S1 finale. What better villain to confront him with than the one who most directly suffered from this?

This has been bothering me for ages. Basically whenever I watch The Flash, I bring this up, because of how irritated I was by the whole Jay Garrick thing. It was just a mistake. Such a mistake. Ugh.

I will probably write about this again in future, because I’m not convinced this article really does justice to my extensive thoughts on the subject. But it is a start.

Oh, and the image credit is there at Yahoo, but the picture above is by the very talented BossLogic.

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5 people who should write an episode of Doctor Who

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For Steven Moffat’s first series, he focused on assembling a team of ‘celebrity writers’, from Richard Curtis to Neil Gaiman; it gave us a series of episodes that were as fantastic as they were diverse, and it was clearly a choice that paid off. With Chris Chibnall’s first series set to land in 2018, he’s no doubt starting to look at hiring writers to develop episodes – here, then, are a few people who might be worth a look.

A collection of five writers who’d all make interesting additions to the Doctor Who team.

Of course, if you’re reading this, Chris Chibnall, then you should ignore all the above suggestions and just contact me directly. I will literally write the episode for free.

(And if you’re reading this, humble fan, in the year of 2018 or beyond, I feel the need to caveat the majority of the above pretty heavily.)

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Class Series 1 Episode 4 Review – Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart

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There’s an interesting running thread regarding parents running through this episode, with Ram’s dad forming a direct contrast to April’s, and the parents’ evening that forms a backdrop to the episode. It’s nice to see a YA property that does depict one of the main characters trusting their parents, confiding in them about the aliens and so on, and actually maintaining a positive relationship with them. Equally, though, the depiction of April’s family is quite effective, with Sophie Hopkins giving another stellar performance. It’s clear that she’s a very talented actress, effortlessly switching between the vulnerabilities of April to the rage of the Shadowkin. 

Perhaps one of the weaker episodes of Class, but it had a lot of good stuff nonetheless.

The picture for this review is the Shadowkin, who irritated me no end. Fun fact, though: Paul Marc Davis, who played Corakinus, is the only actor to be in Doctor WhoClassTorchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. That’s pretty neat, right?

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Star Trek Review: TOS – Dagger of the Mind (1×09)

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Where there is no emotion, there is no motive for violence.

By my reckoning, this may well be the first episode we’ve got that actually is something approaching utopian. Or, sort of, anyway.

The idea of how prisons would work in a utopia like the federation is actually quite an interesting one, when you think about it; presumably the focus would very much be on rehabilitation, rather than punishment. (The three main potential aims of a prison being rehabilitation, retribution, and restraint.) Equally, of course, one might argue that you wouldn’t really commit crimes in a utopia, surely, so why do they even have prisons? It’s such an interesting question because prisons are, I suppose, actually sort of an important facet of society, so when you’re talking about a new society, that throws up lots of intriguing points and questions. Moreso, really, when it’s a perfect society – what is the perfect prison like?

Admittedly, the way we handle this isn’t quite dedicated to answering those questions. It’s becoming a bit of a theme with Star Trek, I realise, where interesting questions are being thrown up essentially as a backdrop to normal television stories. This episode here is basically a thriller; the questions of how prisons should and do work are more or less left largely unanswered. Thinking about it, then, I suppose I may well have stumbled upon another of the reasons why Star Trek ended up so popular – it posed all of these questions which would capture one’s imagination, but largely left the answers up to the viewer. To be presented with a world that is, essentially, very much your own is quite powerful, and that’s going to lead it to resonate with a fairly large number of individuals; in many ways that’s perhaps going to help people skip over the less desirable parts, because they can more easily focus on the aspects that are their own.

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Helen Noel I think is worth commenting on. I actually counted this, interestingly, and the moment she’s introduced with the “da-dah” music and the camera zoom is about 20 minutes in; this is the same time Miri yesterday, and while I’m not certain, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true of Andrea and Mudd’s eponymous Women. So it seems that the sex appeal aspect is quite cynically positioned in these episodes (or I’m drawing more of a connection than actually exists).

Still, what I have realised is that I can’t make a point of it every time I see something I consider somewhat sexist or male gaze-y in these episodes, because otherwise I would be writing about it every single time. And there’s a value in that, don’t get me wrong; a deconstruction of the male gaze in Star Trek would probably be a really fascinating thing to read, if you’ve got suitably niche interests as myself. But it’s also not something that I would feel comfortable writing, or indeed competent enough to write; for now, these vaguely meandering and infrequently insightful little commentaries are probably the best I can manage. For now, though, I think I’m going to have to gradually begin to ignore that sort of thing; sadly, it’s just part of the fabric of the episodes. Short of outright rape apologia (again), I’ll likely just let it go. Unless it particularly aggravates me, I suppose.

So, even though she’s introduced in a very male gaze-y way, is Helen Noel a sexist caricature? As written, you could perhaps make the case that she is; there’s all the science Christmas party stuff (which I admittedly found hilarious) and the fact that she uses the neuralyzer to brainwash Kirk into loving her. However, I think they just about get away with it because Marianne Hill plays the role with a sort of… knowing sarcasm, I suppose. It comes across as quite self-aware, and often her comments to Kirk read as more playful and teasing than wistful and desperate; I think you can reasonably justify reading her as a character, rather than a caricature. It’s also quite important to note that, in the end, she plays quite an important part in saving the day – complete with ventilation shaft crawl! I must admit, I love ventilation shaft sequences. They’re classics. So, you know. That’ll do.

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Something I appreciated about this episode was the dual focus on Spock and Bones, as well as Kirk and Dr Noel. I’ve spoken in the past about how I think these episodes need a B plot of sorts to try and fill the runtime, and I reckon this episode is a very good example of that; while Kirk and Dr Noel are working to solve the mystery on the surface, you’ve got Spock and Bones working to solve the same mystery from the Enterprise.

It was nice to see the pair of the working together, actually, because thus far I think that’s been a little rare; with this episode you can begin to see the development of that aspect of the Kirk/Spock/Bones trio which is so well known. It doesn’t really work unless it is a trio, to my mind; you need to be able to see that Spock and Bones are friends, just as much as Kirk and Spock or Kirk and Bones. (You can sort of see how they struggled with that in Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness, only getting it right with Star Trek Beyond.)

Notably, we’ve also got the first appearance of the Vulcan mind meld, which will obviously go on to be a staple of Star Trek for years to come; it’s interesting, I think, to see that we’re already getting that sort of “Spock is special” vibe, which obviously develops further as he increasingly becomes a fan favourite character, ahead of all others.

In the end, then, Dagger of the Mind is a decent episode. Another one which is quite entertaining, and though nothing special, it still stands up reasonably well even now.

7/10

Related:

Star Trek: The Original Series reviews

Star Trek: Discovery reviews

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