Monday, January 28, 2013

Sixth Doctor Part II - The Twin Dilemma

Just as "The Caves of Androzani" had a reputation, "The Twin Dilemma" did as well. Only, "The Twin Dilemma," the story which introduced viewers to the Sixth Doctor had the reputation as being the worst "Doctor Who" serial ever made! So, you could see why I might be a bit apprehensive going into story, but is my opinion the same as many of the other Whovains out there? Well, let's begin and you'll find out.

Following his regeneration, the Doctor (Colin Baker) begins to act strangely, worrying his companion Peri (Nicola Bryant). After the Doctor tries to strangle her, the Doctor decides to go off and live the life of a hermit on the planet Titan 3. By sheers happenstance, the TARDIS arrives only minutes before a space ship crash lands, killing all aboard except for one man, who is murmuring something about kidnapped twins. Soon the Doctor and Peri become embroiled in a diabolical plan involving kidnapped twins, a renegade Time Lord and giant gastropods.

The story for "The Twin Dilemma" is perhaps the story's biggest problem. The whole plot is rather ludicrous once the real nature of the villain's plan has been explained. What's worse is that the titular twins are merely a plot device, and do not add much to the story themselves. While we're looking at the negatives of the story, we should turn to the villain himself. While the giant gastropod (in this story a half-human, half-slug creature) is interesting, the design of the monster is dreadful. He looks more like an owl than a slug and I couldn't over the dreadful design throughout the serial.
The Doctor marvels at his new coat of many colours

However, what truly saved the serial is Colin Baker's performance. I am perhaps the minority, but I loved Colin Baker's performance. I have also felt that the Doctor (like Sherlock Holmes) should be a slightly cocky, pompous and over-bearing figure. Colin's over-the-top performance in "The Twin Dilemma" is great, and truly at odds with his previous incarnation. What's more, the Doctor shows off his logical deduction side in this episode (a la Sherlock Holmes). Interestingly, in the novelization of the serial, the Doctor even believes that he is the great detective during one of his mental lapses. I don't think anyone else could have pulled off the somewhat ludicrous story of "The Twin Dilemma" better than Colin Baker.

I am certainly the minority, but I found "The Twin Dilemma" to be an enjoyable story. Despite the outrageous  nature of the story, Colin Baker makes a decent debut as the Sixth Doctor.

Coming Next Time: The Doctor and Peri find themselves in the present day dealing not only with gangsters but Cybermen. Will the Doctor escape alive? Find out in: "Attack of the Cybermen"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sixth Doctor Part I - The Caves of Androzani

Here is the first in the review/analyses of the Sixth Doctor's tenure on T.V.

"The Caves of Androzani" has been considered the greatest "Doctor Who" serial of all time. Released over the course of two Thursday and Friday nights in 1984, Peter Davison made his last appearance as the Fifth Doctor. The episodes prove to weave a powerful story, and it obvious to a viewer why this particular adventure is a favourite of fans.

The TARDIS lands on the planet of Androzani Minor. The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his new companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) soon find themselves in a midst of a perplexing situation. The government of Androzani Minor are waging war on Sharaz Jek, a Phantom-of-the-Opera-like menace who has created an army of androids who gives in the titular caves. In addition there's a corrupt government dealing with dangerous gun-runners. Soon the Doctor and Peri discover that they're dying and they must race against the clock to survive against a harsh backdrop of the Androzani war.

"The Caves of Androzani" is a very moving, beautifully constructed story. The Fifth Doctor proves to a very humane characterization and you really weep for him as a series of terrible circumstances stand in his way. It is completely by happenstance that the Doctor and Peri arrive on Androzani and find themselves in the midst of a terrible war. At first, I was rather apprehensive to accept this adventure as one of the best serials (having always considered "The Talons of Weng-Chinag" to be the very best), but I found "Caves" to be a wonderful story.

The acting was grand. This was my first experience watching the Fifth Doctor and when he regenerates in the end, it was still a saddening event. This is certainly a testament to Peter Davison's performance. He made the Doctor seem like such a nice guy. His entire goal throughout the story is to overcome the hurdles which are being thrown up before him and save a young lady that he hardly knows. In my mind, Davison deserves more credit for his masterful turn as the Doctor and really deserves the recognition of the others.

The newly regenerated Doctor
"Caves of Androzani" is notable for being the first and only time that the name of the newly regenerated Doctor was listed above the previous actor. Colin Baker makes his first appearance at the very end of the last episode after the Doctor has regenerated. Sitting up, the viewer can tell at once that the newest Doctor is very different than his previous incarnation. The obviously confused Peri stutters and the Doctor puts her in her place. "That's three 'I's' in one sentence," he says, "That makes you sound a very egotistical young lady." "But what happened?" she asks. "Change my dear," the Doctor rebukes, "And it seems not a moment too soon."

In all, "The Caves of Androzani" is a wonderful serial. Peter Davison delivers a fantastic performance and it successfully ushers in Colin Baker who will have some rather large shows to fill as the next Doctor.

Coming Next Time: The Sixth Doctor, dressed in his outrageous mis-matched coat, makes his first real appearance in "The Twin Dilemma."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sherlock Holmes on BBC Radio

Michael Williams (left) and Clive Merrison (right)
as Holmes and Watson on BBC 4's Sherlock Holmes Series
Sherlock Holmes has always been tailored for radio. Since the days that Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred on screens as the detective duo, they also lent their voices to the roles on radio. Since then there have been countless radio broadcasts featuring the world's greatest detective. Perhaps some of the best emerged from BBC 4's series which emerged during the late 1980's, and holds the distinction of adapting every single one of Doyle's stories and novels.

While perhaps lacking the same atmosphere of the Big Finish audio dramas which followed some twenty years later, the BBC adaptations have a more authentic Doylean feeling. Adapter, Bert Coules transferred a great deal of Doyle's original dialogue into the audio adaptations.

Perhaps the BBC series' greatest assist is the performances provided by Clive Merrison and Michael Williams. Merrison is one of the greatest actors ever to take on the role of the detective. Merrison may be a bit cold in his performance, causing his overall performance to come across as rather prickly, but for the most part he delivers a very solid performance. The same applies for Michael Williams, the late husband of actress Judi Dench. Williams' performance is a perfect balance of intelligence and humaneness which really comes across as the perfect portrait of Doyle's original character. In addition to the two recurring cast members, a number of guest stars turn in wonderful performances. Judi Dench appeared as Mrs. Hudson during the dramatization of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and Desmond Llewellyn (famed for playing Q in the James Bond films) turns up in "The Adventure of the Three Students."

Following the brilliant run, the BBC returned with another series. Following the tragic passing of Michael Williams, Andrew Sachs (best known for his role on "Fawlty Towers") took over the role of Watson opposite Clive Merrison. In "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," Bert Coules adapted a number of the stories that Doyle eluded to during the short stories (i.e. "Colonel Warburton's Madness which acts as the series' first installment). Again, a number of wonderful guest stars shared the mic with Merrison and Sachs including "Doctor Who"'s, Tom Baker.

All in all, BBC 4's Sherlock Holmes adaptations are some of the very best offerings out there. These underrated adaptations and pastiches really deserve a wider audience and should be widely appreciated. The entire Arthur Conan Doyle canon has been transferred onto CD for posterity.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Sixth Doctor Challenge

Some fans love him - others despise him. Perhaps no more actor has ever caused as much controversy on a show than Colin Baker taking over the role of the Doctor on "Doctor Who."

Baker made his first appearance as the Doctor in the final minutes of the Fifth Doctor's story, "The Caves of Androzani." Almost at once this slightly conceited interpretation of the Doctor created some controversy. Things didn't become much better for fans when the Doctor showed up in his next episode dressed in a horrendously coloured mis-matched coat (worthy of Joseph's techincolour dreamcoat).

Whether it is actually Colin Baker's performance or if its is the dip in the quality of writing which occurred around this time in the show, the Sixth Doctor has come to divide fans of Classic "Doctor Who." So I have decided to plunge headlong into this controversial era of the show by watching each episode that the Sixth Doctor has made an appearnce (beginning with "The Caves of Androzani" and ending with "Time and the Rani"). It shall be an interesting experiment to see if I can get through the entire tenure.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review - "Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Vampire"

The combination of the world's super sleuth and the world's most notorious multiple murderer is not exactly a new one. By the same token, a combination between Sherlock Holmes and vampires isn't really a new one either. So, what might you think when the two are put together? I know to some at first glance, "Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Vampire" may seem like a bad combination. Don't disregard this novel all at once for it has a very interesting premise.

The Baron Antonio Barlucci is the novel's main character. A century's old vampire, Barlucci has moved from France to London where he meets and falls in love with the niece of Sir Charles Warren, the commissioner of Scotland Yard. Wanting to cure himself of his vampire disease, the Baron hires an American doctor to help cure him. And all the while, to satisfy his lust for blood, the Baron is committing the murders attributed to Jack the Ripper.

You may have noticed that the name Sherlock Holmes were not once used in the above paragraph. That is because Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are fairly minor characters in the novel. The detective's role does increase as the novel progresses, but a number of plot points have to be set out to establish the characters more thoroughly. Despite the fact that Holmes is not a large character in the book, the portrayal of Holmes is well-done. Holmes is very close to his original characterization from the canon. The same can apply for Dr. Watson - who is presented throughout as a cool, calm and level-headed character.

For those interested in Jack the Ripper, this novel also has a great deal in store. Author Dean P. Turnbloom marvelously depicts the horrible murders in an interesting way. And the fact that his argument that a vampire could have committed the murders in the Autumn of 1888 really made me think. I know that sounds inane, but for some reason it almost made sense, before I was brought back to reality. Overall, the writing of the book was very tight and enjoyable.

My only gripe with the book was how many genres the book tried to cover all at once. In one story we had a Jack the Ripper novel, Sherlock Holmes pastiche, vampire thriller, Gothic romance and suspense. Sadly you cannot have your cake and eat it too Mr. Turnbloom, but aside from that I cannot really find many flaws with the book. While at first glance, "Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Vampire" may seem like a campy, cheap thriller, it is actually a sophisticated and enjoyable read. It deserves a worthy 4 out of 5 stars from me. Hopefully in the future we can see more from Mr. Turnbloom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review - "Doctor Who: Sword of Orion"

Yet another instalment in Big Finish's "Doctor Who" series, "Sword of Orion," by Nicholas Briggs is an exciting and very enjoyable audio drama. Boasting fine performances from Paul Mcgann and India Fischer, the drama really unfolds quite nicely in another adventure of the Eighth Doctor.

The future is wild - at least the future that the Doctor and Charley Pollard have arrived in is. When the Doctor's TARDIS is accidentally loaded aboard the cargo bay of a junk shop, the Doctor and Charley give chase. Things go from bad to worse when that ship nearly has a disastrous run-in with another space craft. Once aboard the great star-ship, the Doctor and Charley discover a brutally beaten man on the verge of death. Accused of the man's murder, the Doctor and Charley are taken into custody. However one by one, the crew of the junk ship start dropping like flies, and that's when the Doctor runs into his old foe, the Cybermen.

Big Finish's second Eighth Doctor story (following on the heels of "Storm Warning" by Sherlockian author, Alan Barnes), "Sword of Orion" is a taught and imaginative thriller. Unlike Mark Gatiss' "Invaders from Mars," this audio recording is a more science-fiction driven plot than than historical drama. The setting is aboard an abandoned star-ship and features the semi-robotic alien species, the Cybermen.

Author Nicholas Briggs crafts a wonderful story which is ripe with suspense. The majority of the story is filled with unrelenting chills and thrills as the crew of the star-ship and the Doctor battle against a small army of Cybermen. In addition to writing, Briggs was also the director of the drama, and his directing foreshadows his wonderful work in charge of the Sherlock Holmes series. Briggs' directing makes the recording very successful in delivering excitement and chills. The writing also gives a chance for the relationship between the Doctor and Charley to blossom. Their interactions with each other are fun to listen to since both actors have a firm grasp of their characters. Again, Paul Mcgann delivers a powerful performance as the Doctor. He still delivers a calm, understated performance which makes more a humanized and believable version of the Doctor.

Once again, my only problems with the recording aren't really bad things. I have never really been a fan of science-fiction stories, so me taking a liking to "Doctor Who" is somewhat surprising. I decided to choose "Invaders from Mars" as my introduction to Big Finish's "Doctor Who" due to the historical setting. However, with "Sword of Orion," there was no historical setting and the story was purely science-fiction driven. This is my own personal view and it does not detract any from the overall quality which was put into this audio recording. Overall, a thoroughly recommended drama. I award "Doctor Who: Sword of Orion" 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Plea for Help (Don't get Worried)

I hope that my readers out in Cyberspace shall act as my Baker Street Irregulars today! As thoroughly shocking and horrifying as it may seem, I am at a loss to find any Sherlock Holmes pastiches nowadays. I know that there are plenty out there to choose from, but I really have not heard anything good about anything lately. I suppose I have a full backlist of reading material to review and analyze on this blog, but I was really hoping for something new.

If you know of any worthwhile Sherlock Holmes pastiches, please (PLEASE) feel free to comment below. I will respond to you if I have read any, but maybe some suggestions will get the ball rolling. Thanks in advance for all those who comment.

P.S. I just felt like throwing in a picture of Jeremy Brett today. He is long overdue to have his picture on this blog.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mr. Bond meet Mr. Holmes

The place - a casino. The time - early 1960's. Seated around the card table is an elegantly dressed man. His sly smile and mild demeanour mask his true face though. This man is a spy - a secret agent for Her Majesty's Government and his name is "Bond - James Bond."

Without a doubt, James Bond is one of the greatest British icons of all time. Debuting in Ian Fleming's 1953 novel, "Casino Royale," Bond became a sensation. The novel spawned 13 more novels, countless pastiches and a highly successful film series which now numbers 23. The famous 007 logo is famous throughout the world, easily making Bond one of the the most famous literary creations of all time. But, hold the phone for a second. Aren't we forgetting someone else? Another famous character known the world over? A detective named Sherlock Holmes?

At first glance, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes have very little in common. Bond is a hard-drinking, rough-around-the-edges spy, flirting with women (and danger) at every turn. Holmes is a misogynist, who lives comfortably in Victorian London solving mysteries which range from the commonplace to cases of far more importance. However, the great detective and the spy do have one some things in common. Perhaps more than you might suppose. While Sherlock Holmes could not really be considered a "secret agent" he did work on behalf of the government quite a lot - and some of the later short stories do feature espionage quite heavily. I draw your attention first and foremost to "His Last Bow."

The story depicted in "His Last Bow" finds Holmes working on behalf of the government, using the alias of an American agent, Altamont, as his disguise. Following the trail of a German agent named Von Bork, Holmes is able to gain access to Von Bork's house on the eve of the Great War in an effort to steal certain items of value from him. Holmes' exploits as the American Altamont are rather shrouded in mystery, leaving his adventures open to interpretation.

Bond's adventures are clearly described during the 12 novels and 2 short story collections penned by Ian Fleming, and though they are different, the types of missions which Bond finds himself on are not too far removed from the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But perhaps what bridges the gap between these two characters is the enduring fan appeal. Across the world, there are clubs devoted to the world's greatest detective which have included many prestigious members. The fact that James Bond has a large fan following is easy to see when one looks at the box-office records for the 23rd film "Skyfall" which was released in November of 2012. "Skyfall" is the first Bond film to have broken the one-billion dollar mark worldwide.

Whether it is the famous 007 logo, or a silhouette of a man dressed in a deerstalker hat, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes remain instantly recognizable icons. It is certain that these two creations shall stand the test of time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review - "The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner"

The latest in Big Finish's series of Sherlock Holmes audio dramas does not disappoint. Despite some changes made to the set formula of their audio dramas, "The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner" stands out as an enjoyable - though flawed Sherlockian audio recording.

1912 - Sherlock Holmes has retired to the Sussex Downs to carry out his life desire of keeping bees. His peace is disrupted by Dr. John Watson, who Holmes has not spoken with in some time. Watson is a broken man, his wife having perished during the fateful voyage of the RMS Titanic. Then almost by happenstance, H. Bruce Ismay, manager of the White Star fleet, the company who owned the Titanic. Ismay has come begging Holmes to help him. At first the detective is reluctant to sole another mystery but Ismay's problem is of great interest to the detective. Ever since the sinking of the Titanic, Ismay has been haunted by a ghost. Following two brutal murders, Ismay is at his wit's end and requests Holmes' help in bringing an end to the phantom.

Going into "The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner," I did not know quite what to expect. I was aware that the story was to take place during Holmes' twilight years, so things would be very different than they were during Big Finish's other Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Nevertheless, author Jonathon Barnes has managed to craft a story which feels very authentic, and despite the different setting, the recording still felt like a Big Finish Sherlock Holmes drama. The same goes for the acting. Nicholas Briggs is still in top form as Holmes, though perhaps a bit more reserved and quiet than he was before. The same applies to Richard Earl's Watson. Earl is totally convincing as the distraught Watson, bereaved by the loss of his wife. In my opinion, this is Earl's best performance as the doctor.

What's more is that Jonathon Barnes was successful in adding to the Sherlockian mythos. Barnes has decided to show Holmes as questioning his own abilities following a mistake he made during a case. This insight into the mind of Holmes is a wonderful character study, while not humanizing him too greatly. He also cleverly weaves in other references to the canon which were quite nice. Overall, Barnes makes for a fine pastiche writer - although not a perfect one.

My biggest nitpick with the story is that it felt too rushed. "The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner" is only about an hour in length, which is different from Big Finish's other Sherlockian turns. The first part of the drama is occupied by building up the background between the now estranged Holmes and Watson. As interesting as this was, it made the rest of the audio drama, which contained the mystery, feel far too rushed. "The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner" could have probably benefited from a second part, allowing for more character development and more time to develop the mystery.

Overall though, "The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner" was an enjoyable audio drama from Big Finish, but not as exciting as some of their others. The acting was spot on and the character development as fantastic. Overall, I would give this recording a 3.75 out of 5. With confirmation that Big Finish is preparing another Sherlock Holmes series, it seems as though the detective is in good hands.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review - "Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles"

The world of computer games is still inhabited by the great detective. In a series of games, Sherlock Holmes has matched wits against Jack the Ripper, Arsene Lupin and even the works of H.P. Lovecraft! One of the never games released from Big Fish is a reworking of "The Hound of the Baskervilles." Reader beware, the following review is filled with spoilers, so if you have nay intention of playing the game turn back now. Otherwise, let us press on.

Sir Henry Baskervilles arrives in London seeking the help of Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. he fears that his recently deceased uncle, Sir Charles Baskerville is the victim of the family curse brought about by Sir Hugo Baskerville sometime in the 1700's. Holmes agrees to take the case and he and Watson journey to Baskerville Hall in search of evidence to determine if the hound which is supposed to haunt the Baskerville family is material or not.

In essence, what is written above is the broad overview of Doyle's beloved novel. However, aside from the early stages of the game, very little is in common with the book. Once at Baskerville Hall, things change in the extreme as Holmes and Watson sort though the different members of the Baskerville family uncovering clues which will lead them to the whereabouts of the spectral hound. I understand that the game has to be fleshed out a bit more to make it different and more appealing as a game, but the story line presented herein is so different from Doyle's work, it is a wonder that the name was kept the same at all. I knew at once as soon as the words "time travel" were spoken in the game we were far out of Doyle's territory.

Yes ladies and gentlemen - Holmes, Watson and Sir Henry indulge in a bit of time travel throughout the game as they search for clues. This would without doubt be acceptable in a "Doctor Who" game, but in a game which claims to be a work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I don;t think so. What is perhaps strangest of all is Holmes' complete acceptance of the supernatural from the word "go." While he says that he wishes to find a rational explanation for it all, it would be very difficult considering alchemy, telekinesis and time travel are elements in the game.

An example of the graphics in the game
However, I am being too harsh on this game. Even though the story was so outlandish and really did not follow Doyle's story, it was rather fun to play. I had no idea in what direction the story was heading so I was excited to play more. Furthermore, the graphics in the game were very well-done. I really did get a feeling of mystery and horror from the rooms in Baskerville Hall, which proved to be a decidedly cold and cheerless house. What's more, it is obvious that someone involved in the making of the game was a fan of the 1959 version of "Hound of the Baskervilles" with Peter Cushing. A number of elements from that movie found their way into the game -especially an evil knife-wielding Hugo Baskerville and a ruined ritual site to summon the hound.

Perhaps most exciting of all was after the hound has been vanquished and normalcy is restored to Baskerville Hall, things take a dramatic turn as you unlock an extra game which continues the story featuring the return of Hugo Baskerville. This straight pastiche was a great deal of fun and it was interesting to see some building off of Doyle's original concepts.

In all, though not following Doyle's story, there is some fun to be had in this game. I give "Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles" 3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Taking the Bull by the Horns

I had wanted to post this at the beginning of the year, and than I got into a bit of trouble with Blogger. Anyway, here it is.

I suppose that now is as good a time as any to quickly go over my opinions on "Elementary." I have not mentioned the show in any of my previous posts, and honestly I hope to keep things that way. I was not impressed by the show - and I gave it more than a fair trial. So, without further ado, let's begin the one and only post about this show.

I suppose that I ought to begin with the positive. The best thing about this show (or at least what I saw) was Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes. He is by no means up there with the likes of Rathbone, Brett or Cumberbatch, but he delivers as best as he can. Miller's Holmes does at least have the same inhuman, cold calculating qualities of the original character. Attempts at humanizing the character were not too plentiful, which can be extremely tiresome. However, aside from this I could not identify this television detective as being Sherlock Holmes.

I am not all too familiar with American crime dramas, however I know of their reputation. "Elementary" felt like a regular crime drama. The types of cases which Holmes is called out to work on are the type of cases which are dime-a-dozen on shows like "CSI." The first two episodes are simple murder mysteries, while the third was a case of kidnapping and murder. It was after this that I stopped watching the show altogether. Should I have given "Elementary" more a chance? I honestly cannot say. The best I could do was try it, and it left me twith a sour taste in my mouth.

Aside from Jonny Lee Miller, the other leading character, Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) got on a my nerves to no end. She evoked none of the spirit that the original John Watson had. Throughout the three episodes, Holmes and Watson did nothing but bicker - it just seemed like childish bickering to me, and over things which perhaps did not warrant such arguing. She was sadly a wooden and one-dimensional character. The same applies to all of the police officers in the show. Captain Thomas Gregson (yes you read that right - Gregson, as in Tobias Gregson) acted like your simple run-of-the-mill police officer, featuring none of the character that Inspector Lestrade does in "Sherlock."

As Steven Moffatt so aptly remarked that once you have taken away so many elements of the stories that it no-longer appears to be Sherlock Holmes. The setting is changed, the names are changed - even the gender of Holmes' friend and associate is changed. What with all these changes, can you really say that the end result is Sherlock Holmes? That is perhaps my biggest gripe with this show. It's not that the stories lack originality or inspiration, it is that it boldly calls itself a Sherlock Holmes television show and it is not. To the casual observer, "Elementary" is not a series featuring the world's greatest detective, but just another crime drama.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review - "Doctor Who: Invaders from Mars"

The fact that I loved Big Finish's Sherlock Holmes audio dramas is evident to anyone who has frequented this blog often. Just recently did I finally get around to listening to one of their "Doctor Who" recordings featuring the Eighth Doctor. I decided to start with "Invaders from Mars" for the reason that it had a Sherlockian connection - it was written by Mark Gatiss who wrote "The Great Game" and "The Hounds of Baskerville," for "Sherlock."

New York City - 1938. The Doctor (Paul Mcgann) and his companion, Charley (India Fisher) arrive in the Big Apple only to find a man dead a short distance from their feet. The man is a private investigator named Halliday, which leads the Doctor and Charley to the man's office where they are approached by a young lady who believes that the Doctor is Halliday. She asks the Doctor for help in finding her long-lost uncle, a Russian research scientist who has vanished in the city. All the while there's a gang of mobsters with alien technology rubbing elbows with Nazis and Orson Welles who is preparing to deliver his infamous "War of the Worlds" dramatization.

"Invaders from Mars" was wonderfully produced. Just like the Sherlock Holmes recordings, the sound-effects and music really evoke a sense of mystery and excitement. In keeping with time and setting, much of the music resembled music used during 1930's radio dramas. Furthermore, all of the acting was very well done. Paul Mcgann is wonderful as the Doctor, who made his first appearance in the 1996 television movie. While the movie failed to capture the spirit of the show, Mcgann's performance is largely overlooked and he stands out as one of the best versions of the Doctor.

Paul Mcgann as the Doctor
My only complaint about "Invaders from Mars" is not really all that bad. The only problem is that Gatiss tossed too many story elements into his melting pot. The story features aliens, gangsters, Nazis, Russians and historical figures. However, the story was exciting enough that all of these elements seemed to fit together so well. In all, I'd give "Doctor Who: Invaders from Mars," 4 out of 5 stars. As usual, Big Finish produced a very exciting and well-done audio recording.

Notes: Big Finish produces a number of different "Doctor Who" recordings. "Invaders from Mars" features the Eighth Doctor, but Big Finish has created stories for the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors as well. Additional information can be found on their website.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ringing in the New Year

I had hoped that my first post in the year 2013 may have been a controversial one - my look at "Elementary." However, even though I typed up this review last night and did not publish it until this morning, it says that I published that review yesterday (go figure). Anyway, I suggest that you read it. It is the only time that I intend to discuss the show in depth.

Anyway, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope to keep up the quality and quantity of reviews and analyses as I had in 2012, and I want to give you a little window into what you can expect in the new year. So, now I will give you a little teaser.

First of all, you can expect some more reviews from Big Finish. I have one Sherlock Holmes audio recording left to review, that being "The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner." Set during the aftermath of the Titanic tragedy, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate a mysterious crime involving the disaster. In addition, I have taken to listening to the Doctor Who recordings from Big Finish and those shall appear on this blog as well.

After that, I hope to get around to writing out a rather lengthy post detailing three films from the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce series at Universal Studios. This will chronicle "The Spider Woman," "The Scarlet Claw" and "The Pearl of Death," three of the best of the series' 14 films.

What else the year 2013 shall have in store is still a mystery to me. So, I invite to visit again and again and discover the secrets of The Consulting Detective.