Broadchurch – Who attacked Trish? Here are all the clues from episode one

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Broadchurch is back for one final mystery before the show draws to a close. DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) have returned to investigate a serious sexual assault in the Dorset community.

As with every series of Broadchurch, there are plenty of twists and turns ahead. Here are some of the clues and details from tonight’s episode that might hold the key to solving the mystery.

I wrote a piece about Broadchurch, and made some attempts to solve the mystery!

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Doctor Who season 10: Everything you need to know about Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat’s final series

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No doubt you, like everyone else, have been eagerly waiting for the next series of Doctor Who ever since superhero themed Christmas special The Return of Doctor Mysterio ended – a year after the last time we’d seen new Doctor Who on our television screens, it was a reminder of everything great about the show.

You’re in luck, of course – because Doctor Who is going to return with a full series later this year. Here’s everything you need to know…

I wrote a short piece for the Metro explaining everything we can expect from Doctor Who series 10 – check it out!

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Breaking down the Doctor Who #TimeForHeroes Trailer

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Earlier today, the BBC released a short trailer for the new series of Doctor Who – set to return on April 15th, Doctor Who series 10 will star Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, alongside Pearl Mackie as Bill and Matt Lucas as Nardole.

The new trailer teased the return of many classic villains, and the introduction of plenty of new ones – here’s what we saw.

I wrote an article breaking down the various elements of the new Doctor Who trailer – I spotted Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, and possibly Paul McGann!

(Paul McGann probably won’t be in the new series.)

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TV Review: Primeval (1×03)

primeval logo hd itv science fiction dinosaurs nick cutter douglas henshall tim haines adrian hodges impossible pictures

The anomalies are conclusive proof that the past exists in a fourth dimension as real and solid as those we already know.

The most obvious thing to do, at this point, is compare Primeval to Doctor Who – after all, it’s pretty obvious that was the intention behind the show. Primeval only existed because of the success of Doctor Who; it is, on a very fundamental level, a response to the hit BBC show, and an attempt by ITV to find their own equivalent.

So, where did they go with it? The most obvious comparison is also the most basic – the time travel element, and the monsters. In that sense, the two programmes share a broad similarity that’s going to bind them together to most of the television audience, particularly if they’re not so inclined to sit around thinking about the deeper differences. It’s clear, though, that there are some; otherwise Primeval would be entering its tenth season in a few months’ time, just as Doctor Who is.

Arguably, what Primeval shares more with is the programme that inspired Russell T Davies in his vision for Doctor Who in 2005 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although, admittedly, only in the most basic sense; we’ve got the Scooby gang, we’ve got the monsters each week, they have a bit of a runaround to fix things. Sorted.

And yet Primeval isn’t quite a patch on either show. It doesn’t work in the same way. There are, I suspect, two main reasons for this – limitations on the show that prevented it from ever moving forward than it really did.

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First, let’s consider why Primeval can’t quite measure up to Doctor Who.

On a fairly simple level, Primeval can be considered a reasonably straightforward adoption of a stalwart Doctor Who story – the ‘aliens in London’ plot. (Or, if you’re so inclined, ‘Yeti on the loo at Tooting Bec’.) It’s meant to be a collision of the mundane and the fantastic, crashing those two worlds together, and setting the story within that central moment of tension.

And that’s fine, really. That juxtaposition has made for some excellent Doctor Who stories, and it’s been the central hook of various different programmes over the years – something like The X-Files, for example, makes a lot with this idea – so there’s no reason why Primeval couldn’t do it either. Certainly, thus far, they’ve done a decent enough job of trying to advance their premise each week, and adding in some interesting little details with each new episode.

But it isn’t enough. Part of why this juxtaposition works on Doctor Who, and indeed why Doctor Who maintained a certain longevity that Primeval could never attain, was that it always aimed to be something different – those moments when we saw the intersection between the ordinary and the extraordinary work because they’re rarer, and because we’ve already seen the extraordinary independently of this.

It’s unfair, admittedly, to level this criticism against Primeval only after its third episode. But at the same time – this is the third episode in a series of six. While they might well be trying to set a status quo of sorts, they don’t have the room for these sorts of establishing episodes; we need to have had a little more variety in terms of what happens. Just switching up the settings a little bit – forest, underground, and water – isn’t quite enough.

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Which in turn brings us to Buffy, and the other issue to level at Primeval. Because, like I’ve said, other shows have made that ‘freak of the week’ type storytelling work before – plenty still do now. Even Buffy, oft-hailed as a masterpiece, engaged in quite a lot of this other its duration, and like Primeval, it was typically fairly similar stuff – each week, Buffy slays a new vampire. I’m being terribly reductive, but I think the basic point is clear.

These shows were able to sustain themselves, though, on the basis of their character work. Each week, further developing a character, keeping them turning, keeping them moving – it’s what lets the ‘freak of the week’ format work, because at the end of the day the monster doesn’t actually matter. It’s just set dressing.

At the moment, though, it feels like Primeval doesn’t quite get that as a principle; it’s just a little too concerned with the dinosaurs than the characters. Arguably, the dinosaurs are the main characters. You can sort of understand the temptation there – these CGI creations would have been one of the main draws for the show, and were groundbreaking in their own right at the time the show first aired. But ten years later, that doesn’t quite mean the show is going to have much longevity.

Now, in all fairness – Primeval is doing some character work. The episode was full of lots of nice little moments shared between Connor and Abby (you can see why they became fan favourites), Douglas Henshall continues to do great work with Nick, and Juliet Aubrey is fantastic as Helen, who’s surely one of the most fascinating characters we’ve been introduced to so far.

Perhaps this episode is just filler, in some regards; after all, I’m well aware that the next episode, which I’ve been looking forward to ever since the start of this rewatch, is going to address both of my above concerns. And, to be fair, it’s not like this episode is bad – I could have written quite a lot about Helen, actually – but it was an easy place to posit this argument.

For now, though, we’ll just have to see where Primeval goes – and whether it can evolve beyond these limitations.



Primeval reviews

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The Flash will need to break with formula to survive

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In a way, the shows that operate alongside The Flash are becoming its greatest threat; Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow – and likely eventually Black Lightning – all work from fairly similar formulas to The Flash. (This was particularly evident in Supergirl season one, which mimicked the structure of The Flash season one fairly closely.) While it’s undeniable that each show executes the formula well, when four programmes are executing the same formula in the same way each week, it does start to get a little tired.

And so The Flash needs to evolve – it has to grow beyond the formula it adheres to so closely, and stop sticking to the same structure with every episode. After all, there’s surely only so many times that Barry running faster to beat someone who is also fast can be considered a satisfying payoff to a year of television, no?

A few thoughts on The Flash, and the changes it’ll need to make to continue to grow and develop and stay of a high level of quality. I am fond of the show, of course, but there’s a frustrating feeling that I’ve simply seen it all before – sometimes even four nights a week – and that needs to change. (I didn’t even begin to get into the whole “mentor is secretly evil” thing they’ve done each year!)

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Johnathon Schaech on Southern Fury, working with Nic Cage, and finding the truth in his performances

The biggest part of me, for anything that’s any sort of military or police work, is I always just try not to forget that every time I look. You know, we’re making a movie, and unlike real life you just have to be more entertaining, and think then “you guys do really good jobs”. So, I was trying to tell the truth – I always try to find the truth. 

I studied with the marines, with friends of mine that were former military, I went to the veterans down in the Redwood area by Los Angeles, trying to get as much information as I possibly could, so that I would know my job. What he was going through, and why he was going through what he was going through, as much as I possibly could – because it is a great deal of responsibility.

My most recent interview, with Johnathon Schaech on his movie Southern Fury – which is also called Arsenal, for some reason I’m not quite sure of. I think it’s an America/International audiences thing.

Anyway, Johnathon was very talkative, and said lots of interesting things about the film, and his approach to the role. Which is always nice! This was quite an early interview for me, I think maybe the fifth or so, so it was nice that it went well.

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American Gods: Everything you need to know about the new TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel

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No doubt you’re aware of Game of Thrones, the hit fantasy epic based on George R. R. Martin’s acclaimed book series – but with that coming to an end, you’re probably looking for something to replace it.

Might we suggest American Gods, in that case?

It’s an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s magnum opus for television, which brings together a pantheon of talented actors and creative figures – and much like Game of Thrones, it’s shaping up to be a huge hit. You’d be a fool to miss out.

A new article on the TV adaptation of one of my favourite books. I’m very excited!

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Screenwriter Allison Schroeder on Hidden Figures, #OscarsSoWhite, and more

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I felt this huge responsibility to these women, to get it right and to make something that they would be proud of. Katherine Johnson, who’s the only one still with us, her request was that it not be just about her – that we had some of these other women as well, because it was a team effort. That was something I took to heart, and it’s why you’ve got Mary Jackson  and Dorothy Vaughn as well, and we get to see all the other women they worked with in the computing pool. 

Did a great interview with Allison Schroeder around the time of Oscar season; this was a real blast, Allison was great to talk to. We spoke a lot about representation, and the sort of films that Allison wanted her daughter to be able to see while growing up.

Which, in hindsight, I did wonder about. Allison was the first woman I interviewed individually; since then I’ve tried, albeit not necessarily succeeded, to maintain a rough sort of parity between male and female interviewees – as well as interviewing people of colour, though that’s been less successful. Was asking about the sort of films her daughter would watch something I’d ask a male director or screenwriter? I think yes, and it made sense in context – Hidden Figures had been especially impactful with young girls, and Allison had only recently-ish given birth. But it’s something I try to bear in mind, anyway.

That said, the other thought I have after this interview is that I probably should have pushed a little more on the matter of historical accuracy and such; this was the fourth interview I did, and I was a little less confident about things like that, but I definitely think that nowadays I’d be more direct rather than talking around the issue as above.

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TV Review: Primeval (1×02)

primeval logo hd itv science fiction dinosaurs nick cutter douglas henshall tim haines adrian hodges impossible pictures

You know what? All my life I’ve wanted to be in a crime-busting gang. And now I am. Sort of.

What interested me about this episode was how heavily it focused on character development. It was a very talk-y episode, in fact; long swathes of the runtime dedicated solely to the characters talking and discussing things, with comparatively little action going on. It was an interesting choice for a show like Primeval – you’d expect, simply by virtue of the programme’s nature as a ‘genre show’, as it were, that it’d be packed full of cheap thrills and jump scares, following a fairly generic and formulaic structure.

And yet Primeval, in this case, largely eschewed that – and I’d argue that was to the episode’s credit. In spending so much time focused on our human characters, rather than a runaround with the monsters (which, make no mistake, did feature; just not to the extent one might expect) the show positions itself as a slightly different beast from anything comparable. In many ways it feels like it’s settled a lot since last week; most of the tonal variances have balanced out, giving us an episode that feels a lot more coherent than last week’s. There’s a clear improvement here, and a sense that Primeval has found its footing somewhat – there’s a greater understanding of what it wants to be as a drama.

All this means, then, that after a fairly short space of time we’re beginning to get to grips with our characters to a far better extent. Certainly, there are limits; Stephen remains something of a blank slate, for example, and the same is true of Tom Ryan. But in other places, it really does work; Nick Cutter and Claudia Brown are beginning to develop nicely, in no small part because of the chemistry of Douglas Henshall and Lucy Brown. Their early interactions in Cutter’s office really anchor the first half of the episode – it’s part of why the story works so well, despite (or because of) its nature as a talk-y episode. The real star, though, is Andrew Lee Potts as Connor; while a lot of his dialogue could leave Connor as little more than a simple stock character, Potts plays the role with a degree of self-awareness (particularly the Buffy speech at the end) that makes the character come across as far more endearing, and far more real, than he would have in the hands of a lesser actor.

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The monster aspect of the story is, if nothing else, functional; there’s a wise choice here to conserve the budget by largely keeping the creatures in the shadows, and limiting their appearances where possible. It’s a sensible economic choice, though I suspect that from a storytelling angle they could have pushed this a little harder – certainly, the direction of the episode is a little perfunctory, and I can’t help but feel that a lot more could have been done with the creatures to make them a little more frightening. A lot of it comes down to mood and the creation of atmosphere; while there were plenty of entirely serviceable sections, there are others where it’s all just a little bit flat.

On the other hand, though, this was a good choice of ‘monster’ – stretching the premise somewhat, and demonstrating that Primeval is about more than just dinosaurs. (Even if it will, admittedly, forever be known as “that one with the dinosaurs”.) I’d have liked to see more done with the comment regarding the oxygen moving back and forth, though; the idea that there’s more than just creatures that could come through and pose a concern is one of the more interesting extensions of the premise that’s been put forward so far. It’s about exploring it as fully as possible, really, and that’s a pretty good way to go about that – hopefully it’ll be returned to in future.

I also appreciated how, broadly speaking, they tied the creature-plot back into the storyline featuring our main characters, demonstrating how Connor is actually useful to the team; it’s a smart way of building the episode, and ensuring that the two threads mesh together, rather than simply running parallel to one another.

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The further development of Nick and Helen’s story is also quite engaging. A huge part of that, obviously, is Douglas Henshall’s performance; he carries the material extremely well, particularly considering we haven’t even been introduced to Juliet Aubrey as Helen yet. More than that, though, he’s able to make the limits to the material actually work. Consider the end, when Nick doesn’t go through the anomaly; really, the only reason why he doesn’t is because we’ve got four more episodes to fill. Here, though, Henshall is able to take that and show us the normally headstrong character in a place of almost trepidant awe – it attaches a far greater level of significance to the moment, and again gives the character a certain interiority beyond what’s in the script.

To be honest, though, that’s pretty much it. I’m starting to run out of things to say, and I suspect in future I’m not going to be able to sustain the same wordcount for these reviews as I typically try to do. It’s not a slight against Primeval as such, but it’s just that as a programme, it’s difficult to write about it; it’s usually just about decent, rarely stellar or abysmal. With no particular praises to sing or flaws to condemn, I’m going to end up running out of steam.

Hopefully, I suppose, that’ll prompt me to start tackling these reviews in a different way, and write them in a different style; I’ve become slightly frustrated with the fact that I’ve settled into a formula, because – if nothing else – it means I’m not really pushing myself as a writer anymore. So, next week, we might see something different. Or perhaps we might not.

Still. This episode was still an improvement on the last, which was good.



Primeval reviews

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Legion is exactly what the superhero genre needs right now

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Legion’s first episode is, to put it lightly, a masterpiece. Noah Hawley provides an intricately written yet deeply poignant script; it begins with an unreliable narrator, but peels back the layers of perception to reveal a touching love story between the two leads, David (Dan Stevens) and Syd (Rachel Keller). Both actors give nuanced, powerful performances, elevating the already fantastic script ever higher as a result; it’s an engaging realisation of a complex script, making the spine of the character drama universal, despite how surreal everything surrounding it is.

Visually speaking, too, the show is a real departure from the norm. It’s beautifully directed, with very high production values and some stunning design work; in many ways, Legion feels like a work of art. There’s a gorgeous aesthetic carried throughout, from the cinematography to the colour palette, which makes just the sheer look of the show quite memorable in and of itself. Further, though, it feels like Legion’s aesthetic grows from its themes; the programme is grounded in uncertainty, and every visual detail contributes to this, creating a sense of holistic unity that sets Legion apart from the homogeneity of other superhero shows.

You guys, wow. Legion is phenomenal, and you should all be watching it.

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