Class Series 1 Episode 8 Review – The Lost

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As an episode of television in its own right, it’s simply far too crowded – in attempting to tie off the various plot arcs of this season, while introducing a new arc for a potential second season (more on which shortly), it does rather seem that Patrick Ness over reaches himself. The Lost moves far too quickly between different beats, creating a real tonal mishmash that can only be described as a disaster; one almost gets whiplash in moving from the unnecessary gratuity of the murder of Ram and Tanya’s parents to the teen romance aspects of the show.

Sadly, the finale of Class was a pretty disappointing conclusion – a rather resounding let down after the promise of the prior episodes. You can find my full series retrospective here.

(Coming back to this in May 2018, and noticing I only wrote 885 words for this review! Definitely need to go back over Class again.)

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With Peter Capaldi leaving Doctor Who, it’s finally time for a female Doctor

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Bringing in a female Doctor would change the dynamic and open up a whole new field of storytelling potential. Every aspect of the show that has, up until now, felt so familiar will change entirely – giving the show a whole new unpredictable energy once again.

The fact is, one of the many reasons why there’s a call for a female Doctor is essentially for the same reason why people eventually begin to call for a new Doctor, or a new showrunner: Change offers potential.

It just so happens that this particular change is one that offers a huge amount of potential that Doctor Who has never tapped before – and that’s a really exciting prospect.

Once again, I’m writing about this topic, and continuing to bang the drum in support of a female Doctor. I am really, really hoping we get one this time around – in many ways, it really does feel like the best possible move for the show.

If anyone happens to have a way of putting Phoebe Waller-Bridge in contact with Chris Chibnall, that’d be great…

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These 10 actors would be perfect as the next Doctor Who

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Peter Capaldi revealed last night that the upcoming 10th series of Doctor Who is set to be his last as the Time Lord. The Christmas 2017 special will see him hand over the TARDIS keys to a new actor, just in time for Chris Chibnall’s first series as showrunner. The 12th Doctor was a fantastic character that Capaldi really made his own. If he’d decided to stay on just a little bit longer, no one would have complained.

And yet, the time has come for a new actor to take on the role. People are already trying to guess who the next Doctor might be and making all sorts of suggestions as to who it should be. 

Here then, are 10 actors who could play the next incarnation of the famous Time Lord.

Here’s a list of ten people who could, perhaps, play the next Doctor. I was suitably aghast when I realised I’d chosen someone who should never play the Doctor, because the Doctor simply isn’t that type of person – but then, maybe it wouldn’t be so awful for an American to play the role? Hahaha. Anyway. My personal preference would be Phoebe Waller-Bridge, I think; previously I’ve said Natalie Dormer, but since watching Fleabag, Phoebe was my main choice.

In fact, I’m pretty much convinced that I was the first person to suggest her for the role on a big platform like this? While I doubt the subsequent storm was down to me, I do take a little hipster pride in it all.

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Class Series 1 Episode 7 Review – The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did

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There’s a real depth of textuality to The Metaphysical Engine, which demonstrates a lot of Patrick Ness’ greatest strengths as a writer – indeed, strengths that he perhaps hasn’t always been able to demonstrate on Class, given the nature of the programme as a Doctor Who spin-off. Here, however, you can really see his imagination being let loose; Ness deftly establishes the three different belief systems with relative ease, and quite quickly too, while still allowing each time to breathe. It helps that, typically speaking, they’re relatively simple and well-defined ideas – the best being Ness’ conception of hell for a shapeshifter – but The Metaphysical Engine does touch on some interesting concepts regarding belief and one’s perception of it. True, more could have been made of it; in some regards, one is almost inclined to wish that The Metaphysical Engine had been the two-part story for this season, rather than the previous Shadowkin episodes. However, there’s plenty going on here for the episode to be both entertaining and thought provoking, which is more than enough for now.

A decent, albeit imperfect episode, which is still a lot of fun. It probably would have been better served, admittedly, by a simpler plot – allowing some of the more interesting ideas to breathe a little more. Or, alternatively, if it had been positioned slightly earlier in the run, giving some room for the ideas within to be explored more in subsequent episodes.

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The Crown was an unfailingly positive yet fundamentally toothless drama

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By the same token, The Crown is unwilling to ever criticise the monarchy; there is no meaningful commentary offered on its flaws and failings. It is, fundamentally, a programme quite firmly on the side of ‘the crown’, as you’d expect from the title; while it’s not quite fetishistic, it undoubtedly glorifies the institution, painting it in an unfailingly positive light.

It ultimately hobbles any of the thematic resonance that the drama is supposed to hold; questions of duty and the cost of being Queen are all well and good, but if the greatest criticism you’re willing to make is “having to smile a lot is hard”, then the supposed cost of this duty isn’t conveyed particularly effectively – or at all, frankly. It’s often difficult to see our characters as anything other than beneficiaries of the privilege they enjoy, rather than flawed people suffocating under the weight of it.

So, this was an attempt to put together something of a definitive take on The Crown, after having reviewed it for CultBox, and generally struggling with it – certainly, I was always pretty out of step with the general consensus when it came to The Crown.

Were I to try and distill it to a sentence, I think my problem was that a lot of The Crown was about how difficult it was to be the Queen, while never actually engaging with much critique of the monarchy – not in terms of, like, “oh, we need to abolish it”, but in terms of how it impacted their lives. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched it, but an example that stood out particularly was Elizabeth spending a while upset that she’d never received a general education – but never mind, it was alright in the end anyway, because the special royal education she got was useful too.

Part of why I think I responded so much better to season 2 was that it shifted away from that angle, and put more focus on the actual relationships between different characters. It was, I think, a better approach, and I hope The Crown maintains that in future.

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The sun sets on Broadchurch in new series 3 trailer

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Certainly, I hope that’s the case across this season; while there’s nothing wrong with further developing the story and introducing new characters, the strengths of Broadchurch always came from the characters and community it depicted. In some ways this was one of the problems with the second season – it lost sight of the best aspect of the first season in an attempt to replicate its plot, without realising that the plot had only ever been a vehicle to develop the characters in the first place.

Similarly, I hope that this third season can tackle the sensitive topic of sexual assault with the same grace that the first season did the death of a child; it’s a particularly complex topic, and one that needs to be handled with care. Thankfully, there’s reason to expect it will be, as Chris Chibnall has reportedly been consulting with both police and response organisations who deal with the matter to this end.

A quick post about the new Broadchurch trailer. I’ve never written about Broadchurch before! Expect that to change.

(Well, it just has. I mean, “expect me to write a lot about Broadchurch over the coming months”, obviously.)

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Taylor Sheridan on his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Hell or High Water, his directorial debut Wind River, and more

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Sicario was a very complicated screenplay; you have these characters you know nothing about, and you don’t really know anything more about them personally at the end of the film than you did at the beginning. The one person you do learn about a bit of his past, Alejandro, does things in a way you would never expect. 

The structure of the screenplay itself, I wrote it like a Shakespearean tragedy – it’s on a five-act structure. So there was a lot of… it was a very intellectual venture for me, as opposed to Hell or High Water, which was more stream of consciousness writing. It took me a number of months to write Sicario; I wrote Hell or High Water in a couple weeks. 

This is one of my favourite interviews that I’ve ever done, actually (don’t tell the others!) – it’s also one of the best generally, though, in terms of the questions I asked and the responses I got. So I’m very proud of this one!

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The Crown Episode 10 review: An underwhelming conclusion in Gloriana

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Consider the ending of the show. Elizabeth’s final scene, now named Elizabeth Regina rather than Elizabeth Windsor, feels like it’s supposed to be this great milestone; akin, perhaps, to the first time a superhero puts on their costume and takes on their secret identity. It’s presented as the culmination of all that’s gone before it, with Gloriana having marked a significant change from what’s gone before it.

And yet it hasn’t, really.

Again, Elizabeth returns to the same fundamental tension we’ve seen returned to over and over again this series – this time quite literally, given it’s a conflict that has already played out. Again, the same conclusion is reached – the Crown must win out. And, again, nothing new is added to the drama.

It was a weak ending, to be honest. And a weak series.

But I rather suspect that I’m going to end up going back to it, and I’ll probably watch the future episodes as well, because there’s something about the construction of it that fascinates me.

(An interjection from Alex of May 2018: I haven’t read back any of these reviews, nor rewatched the first series of The Crown, but my suspicion is that I was more than a little unfair on it. If nothing else, I did really like the bits of series 2 that I’ve watched, so.)

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Class Series 1 Episode 6 Review – Detained

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On the strength of Ness’ writing, the central conceit of the episode is able to transcend its apparent artifice, instead providing the impetus for some powerful character drama. It’s often moving, consistently nuanced, and regularly insightful; Ness has a real ability to get to the heart of his characters, and Detained is the best example of this. There’s a real energy to this episode – it’s a tense, moody piece of drama, quite unlike anything the show has given us so far. And yet, in many ways, one can’t help but feel that Class would have been significantly diminished, to the point of being incomplete, without this episode.

Frankly, this is undoubtedly the best episode of Class’ run. If we get a second season, more of this, please.

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Class Series 1 Episode 5 Review – Brave-ish Heart

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The episode is far more effective when it’s grounded in the personal – in Charlie’s fear of letting down the last of his people, or in Quill’s rage and need for revenge. It’s some of Greg Austin and Katherine Kelly’s best work in the series so far, in fact, and it does a long way to elevate the material in the few places where it drags; certainly, Quill’s raw emotion when Charlie refuses to kill the Shadowkin is a standout moment for the character, who has thus far been somewhat neglected in terms of development. It’s a particularly insightful look into the psyche of this character, and goes a long way towards helping us gain a far deeper understanding of just what motivates her.

Another review of Class. I did this one at something of a remove from the preceding episodes, so there’s definitely something of a perspective shift for these last four instalments.

For anyone wondering about the lengthy gap between the final four reviews and the initial set, basically… well, the weekly workload got the better of me, basically, and I lost track of the Class reviews along the way. So what I decided to do was review the back four in keeping with their (ridiculously scheduled) BBC One repeats. If you like, you can pretend it was about keeping the series in public consciousness when it was on again. Really it was just my mistake. Ah well.

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