An Adventure in Space and Time (2013) – Terry McDonough

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Even as I write this, the airing of the 50th Anniversary Special for Doctor Who ticks closer, and I cannot wait, knowing I get to see David Tennant, Matt Smith and John Hurt on the screen as various incarnations of the Doctor, as well as the return of Billie Piper as Rose (in some form or another) and Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), the Daleks and who knows what other wonders we’ll see as we move towards the approaching regeneration as Smith leaves the series to be replaced by Doctor No. 12 Peter Capaldi.

I’m very excited!

To help in the celebrations of the Doctor’s 50 year run, the first episode aired November 22, 1963, and has been around since, the BBC has commissioned a feature length telefilm about the creation of the series, how it grew, and also the very first Doctor, William Hartnell, played by David Bradley.

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Written by Mark Gatiss, the series takes us back to take a look at the show’s inception, from the first blush of an idea in the BBC’s Head of Drama’s mind, Canadian Sydney Newman (Brian Cox), to its growth under the Beeb’s first female producer, a tough gig at any time sadly, but seemingly more so in the male-dominated BBC, Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine).

Helming the first block of stories was the first Indian director for the BBC Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan), he and Verity, under Sydney’s watchful eye, and with input from Hartnell set about creating a science fiction icon – the Mad Man in the Blue Box.

50 years on, we as fans, take a lot of the story for granted, and as much as a behind-the-scenes buff as I am, I didn’t know about the first female producer and first Indian director. But, knowing the philosophy that is behind Doctor Who, that everyone is important, and anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it, it just made sense to me.

Gatiss’ script carefully weaves through Hartnell’s run as the Doctor, as he begins to grow older, and less able, as well as working in classic lines that Whovians would recognize, most poignantly of which is Bradley’s delivery of “I don’t want to go…” a painful moment for both him and Tennant’s Doctor.

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The story itself is completely enrapturing, and no doubt would appeal to a non-fan as well as a wonderful tale, and a look at the creation of this endearing show.

Bradley is amazing as Hartnell, perfectly playing both the man and the character he created, a man who knew what each knob and switch did on the TARDIS’ console because the kids would notice everything he did. He understood the need for continuity, and despite the fact that he had to leave the series, Hartnell was the first, and we wouldn’t have all the travels we’ve had since without him.

My favorite moments included Verity on the bus seeing the birth of the show’s popularity, and Hartnell’s encounter with some starstruck school children.

It was a very well-crafted film, and despite the fact that I knew he had to leave the series and was replaced by Patrick Troughton, it was still a heartache to watch it happen.

At the film’s end, Gatiss creates a wishful moment at the TARDIS console allowing Hartnell to look forward to see what he’s created as Doctor 11 (Smith) smiles back at him.

What was originally positioned as a slightly scary kiddie show has become an internationally beloved series, with fans claiming their favorite Doctors, companions, villains, and what a tapestry to choose from…

50 years, and still going…

So… all of time and space, everything that ever happened or ever will – where do you want to start?

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TV You Should Be Watching – Seed

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I tend to be very picky about my comedy, so for me sitcoms that I can actually watch are few and far between, and the ones I do watch always get compared to Arrested Development or Brit-coms like The IT Crowd. So I wasn’t necessarily worried about watching the new television series Seed, but I was fairly sure I wouldn’t care for it.

I’m very happy to report that I was mistaken on that.

It’s bright, smart and funny, dancing a tarantella furiously all over the line of political correctness. It allows us not only to laugh at the events and lines that litter the series like gold (from the blatant to the hidden; the Peanuts gag in episode 2 is still one of my favorite throwaway gags in recent television), but to see dialogue that reflects our own interactions with our friends.

adamIt is a fresh breed of comedy for Canadian television and I contend that it could hold up against any other sitcom currently on the air.

As I write this only four episodes of the 13 episode first series (please pick it up for a second or more!) have aired, and each episode, the characters get stronger and stronger, all of them are far from perfect, and you can relate to every single one of them.

Created by Joseph Raso, the series follows Harry Dacosta (Adam Korson) a likeable, but adolescent-minded bartender who made a few deposits to the sperm bank. Through smarts and the necessity of plot, one of his sperm donor kids, Billy (William Ainscough) tracks him down at his place of employment The Pour House, run by Irene (Vanessa Matsui).

Billy is being raised by an interracial lesbian couple, Michelle (the lovely Amanda Brugel) and Zoey (Stephanie Mills). The dynamic of this family is brilliantly balanced, and comes across as completely real, these are two wonderful woman, raising an amazing kid.

Billy then helps Anastasia (Abby Ross) track down her donor dad (also Harry). Ana`s family is a little more conservative and uptight, with cold, analytical child psychologist Janet (Laura de Cateret) and jelly-spined lovable doofus Jonathan (Matt Baram) doing their best to raise a teen-aged daughter in today`s world.

Harry, inadvertently, gets dragged into both of these families’ lives, and becomes the glue that binds both groups together. Whether he likes it or not.

roseThrow into this bunch Rose (Carrie-Lynne Neales (as both Amanda Brugel and I heave a heady sigh ;) ), a slightly odd, endearing and charming young woman who decides she wants to be a mother, and so ends up at the clinic, realizing a moment to late that the donor she’s using looks kind of familiar. Yup, Harry.

Getting all of that out-of-the-way in the first episode, allows the series to go ahead and develop these characters now that they are all together.

The interplay between all of the characters feels authentic and real, at least to me and my friends. We say similar things all the time.

It’s going to be interesting over the remaining 9 episodes of the first series to see how they all grow and develop, and if they haven’t all been signed for a season 2 and beyond, someone needs to get on that like now.

The entire cast is insanely likeable and watchable, both of the younger cast members, William and Abby inhabit their characters and bring them to life amazingly. One hears terrible tales about working with kids, animals and on water, yet both of them seem professional, and just as important completely at home in their screen alter-egos.

amandaWe’ve made no secret of our love for Amanda Brugel, she’s a genuine, and lovely soul, and watching her bring Michelle to life each week is a delight, and her by-play (biplay?) with Stephanie’s Zoey is so great. The two of them together make great mothers!

It’s a fine line that Laura and Matt walk in their roles as Ana’s parents. It could descend into parody, but they ground both of their characters in the reality of the series and that way make them real people. You can’t help but feel bad for Jonathan, who just wants to be the man of the house, and a cool dad, but it just can’t happen. Janet is smart, but can’t seem to relate to her daughter in any emotional way. These could be interesting subjects to explore as we get deeper into a multi-season series.

There’s also they will-they/won’t-they of Rose and Harry. Both characters are so endearing. quirky and engaging, and you can see a real spark between them, but do we really want to see them together? Adam imbues Harry with such a laid-back sense of ease that I would hang out in The Pour House and have a pint with him anytime.

And Rose, well… She’s just so… alright I’m crushing on her character. Carrie-Lynn makes Rose her own, and brings her to life with a quirky fire that makes you shake your head at some of Rose’s decisions but you still want everything to work out for her in the end, because you know her heart is in the right place.

Vanessa’s Irene is the wild card, she’s got a wicked edge, is dead sexy, and calls it like she sees it. She must be a real joy to play.

If you haven’t seen the episodes that have aired so far, please track them down and watch them! This is television that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has fun, and it wants you to join in on it.

And if you have watched it already, go back and watch and listen for all the throw aways you may have missed the first time around!

Seed airs on CityTV Monday nights! Check your local listings!!

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Happy Birthday Doctor!

I first came across Doctor Who in the early 80s, as most of my generation did, on PBS. There was this tall goofy looking guy (Tom Baker) with big hair, and an even bigger scarf talking about Daleks and jelly babies with a robot dog in tow called K-9, who travelled around in a rectangular blue box (what the hell is a police box, I remember thinking) and got up to some exciting adventures and he always seemed to use his wits to resolve a situation as opposed to violence.

This sent a tremendous message to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love a big loud action movie, but the idea that one can think one’s way out of trouble simply by using one’s intelligence, being smart and clever… that’s a powerful message. The idea, one I saw paralleled in my love of Star Trek, that appearances can be deceiving, that everyone has a right the right to live, even if you’re a right bastard, stuff like that shapes minds.

I was quite intrigued.

Until the week I tuned in, and was stunned to see some other person in the role of the Doctor. This didn’t make any sense to me. And why the hell was he wearing celery on his lapel?

I didn’t know anything about regenerations at the time, and now I’ve seen too many go by!

I turned it off.

That wasn’t Doctor Who, what the hell had happened to this odd little show I had discovered?

At a library book sale, I came across a Doctor Who annual (I think that’s what it was), long since gone, perhaps in the same place all those lost socks from dryers go… And inside, there were all these different stories, and they had 4 other Doctors in it besides the one I knew. Reading the stories, I started to realize they were all the same person, that he somehow changed from time to time.

Ohhhh! It was starting to click in my young brain.

At that point though, my own travels in time and space continued, and I found myself in a tropical paradise that when I arrived didn’t even have a television channel, though that was quickly amended when the 1984 Summer Olympics came along. They broadcast those, and then disappeared for a while. Eventually ZBM, Bermuda’s premiere television station took to the air. Some families had satellite dishes to get channels from State-side, and the rest of the world, of you could buy a little tiny, unobtrusive dish and get TBS out of Atlanta.

But no PBS.

No BBC.

No Doctor Who.

Occasionally I would come across a book in one of the shops, or the CFS Bermuda library, and I would try to read it. But it would be talking about characters that I didn’t know, companions I’d never heard of.

I was intrigued by the world, but couldn’t find a way into it.

Then it just seemed to vanish from existence, until I started to see adverts on the Fox channel in 1996 for a new Doctor Who tv movie in an effort to possibly re-launch the series. I knew enough now to be excited by the idea of new Doctor Who!

I quite liked Paul McGann as the Doctor, though even I knew there was no way he could be half-human on his mother’s side. Perhaps it was just an honorary thing…

And Eric Roberts as the Master… didn’t work for me, but hey, for a less than shining moment, Doctor Who was back, and it rekindled my interest again…

Until that fateful day, on March 26, 2005 when Russell T. Davies brought the Doctor back! And BOOM! Within moments of the opening sequence I was enraptured with the fun of the show, the new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston and his companion Rose (Billie Piper).

Then along came THE Doctor… David Tennant.

He was perfect, and he had some amazing companions and great stories, one of the best was Steven Moffat’s Blink, featuring the awesome Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow.

Rose left us, Martha (Freema Agyeman) left, Donna Noble (Catherine Tate)… the Doctor’s best friend… had to be left behind to save her life, while her grandad Wilf (Bernard Cribbins) got to see him a couple of more times, and was there at the heartbreaking moment, when Number 10 regenerates into Number 11 (Matt Smith), all I have to hear is someone knock four times and my throat tightens right up.

I was dubious about Matt’s Doctor at first, and while I waited for his first full episode, The Eleventh Hour, which also featured Moffat taking over as showrunner from Davies, I started working my way backwards through the Doctors, through Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison, and Tom Baker. I’m currently working on the Jon Pertwee adventures, and then it will be Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell.

Created by Sydney Newman, Donald Wilson and C.E. Webber, Doctor Who sprang to life on November 23, 1963, 50 years ago today. The first episode, An Unearthly Child, featuring an eccentric old man (William Hartnell) and his grand-daughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford). While America was reeling from the assassination of Kennedy, while The Beatles invasion was on the horizon of 1964, this show popped up. Initially, and arguably still positioned as, a children’s show, or at least a family show, the Doctor has traveled between dimensions, to countless worlds, and countless aliens (all of whom sound shockingly English – thank goodness for the TARDIS translating them for us!).

He has shown that every one is important… he’s never met anyone who wasn’t, that within each and every one of us lay the seeds to be Fantastic!

Has shown us how to take down a government with just six words, and sometimes with heartbreaking sadness and loneliness says things like…

“Because every time you see them happy you remember how sad they’re going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”

It’s also taught me to some times just jump in and go for it (not as often as I’d like, I’m still learning) with a hearty yell of “Geronimo!” or “Allons-y!”

Happy Birthday Doctor.

And what have you got for us next?

Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (2011)

Yup, back to Paradise Massachusetts (still lovely Nova Scotia) again. Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is back for more in the 7th telefilm based on the book series.

This installment picks up three weeks after No Remorse.

The town council has granted Stone early retirement, and because of the way they handled the convenience store robberies Suitcase (Kohl Sudduth) and Rose (Kathy Baker) are allowed to stay on as the town’s police force. Suit is forced to step down as temporary chief however when the council puts in someone they can control a little better, William Butler (Jeff Geddis) a son-in-law of one of the council members.

Neither Rose nor Suit care for him though.

Jesse is stunned to learn that one of the young women, Cindy (Eileen Boylan) he looked out for during her parents divorce, is found dead, with the town council eager to rule it a drug-induced suicide.

Jesse, despite no longer being a cop, doesn’t accept that, and begins his own investigation, chatting, once again, with crime boss Gino Fish (William Sadler) and Sister Mary John (Kerri Smith).

He’s also asked by Captain Healy (Cepthen McHattie) to help out on a murder case that seems a little too neat.

Jesse, in true manipulative fashion gets a badge from Healy, and uses it to run down his own investigation into Cindy’s death.

Through it all, Jesse seeks the advice of Doctor Dix (William Devane), briefly chats with Jenn (voiced by Gillian Anderson), romances Hasty Hathaway’s (Saul Rubinek) lovely receptionist Thelma (Gloria Reuben) and tries to connect with Reggie while watching old movies.

It was the old movie bit that I really liked, and I know the film’s writers, Michael Brandman and Tom Selleck, knew what they were doing with one of the films…

Jesse and Reggie are watching Bridge On The River Kwai. As soon as I saw it, I had a huge grin on my face… In Magnum, P.I., Higgins (John Hillerman) built a matchstick model of the bridge, which was consequently destroyed and rebuilt). I thought it was a wonderful call back for fans.

I love the continuity created by the series, though this one is a little darker for Stone’s character…

He still can’t connect with Reggie, he’s unemployed, having been forced to retire, and he’s holding himself responsible for Cindy’s death. All those things add up to heavy drinking for poor Jesse.

I love the fact that the character is incredibly flawed, and though he is aware of his flaws, he also can’t or won’t fix them.

Selleck continues to excel in this role, and after Magnum, this may be my favorite character he’s played, though I’ve yet to watch Blue Bloods.

What do you think?

Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (2009)

It is time to head back to Paradise, Massachusetts.

This time around, Robert B. Parker’s creation of Police Chief Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is involved in an investigation that is not based on the series of Jesse Stone novels.

That is something that sounds like it’s putting the series on Thin Ice as they stray away from the source material.

In the end, however, it seems that the writers, Michael Brandman, Ronni Kern and Tom Selleck himself have a handle on the television universe of Stone as well as the character itself, seeing as they’ve all been involved in the series in one form or another since it’s debut.

This time around, the show starts with a bang, well several of them, as Stone and State Trooper Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie) are shot several times while on an unofficial stakeout.

Jesse is only wounded, but Healy is severely injured and hospitalized. However, Stone is raked over the coals by a town council who is already upset with Stone’s performance not meeting their expectations, nor submitting to their control.

Jesse, to his peril, ignores the council, yet again, and starts running down leads and suspects in Healy’s shooting, consulting local crime boss Gino Fish (Willilam Sadler), who points him in the right direction.

The B-story follows a woman, Elizabeth Blue (Camryn Manheim), who has come from New Mexico, clutching a letter, indicating that her son, stolen from her at birth, may be living in Paradise.

Rose (Kathy Baker) takes the case to heart and with Jesse’s aid starts running down leads of her own.

Meanwhile, Suitcase (Kohl Sudduth) aids Jesse in his for the shooter, though obviously still recovering from the head wound he sustained a couple of films ago (he occasionally calls Jesse, Lou, the name of the previous chief).

Jenn (voiced by Gillian Anderson) continues to haunt his phone, leaving messages and keeping him company as he drinks, that demon still haunts him, all while Reggie the dog looks on.

Stone again enlists the help of his psychiatrist Doctor Dix (William Devane) and becomes romantically involved with an internal affairs Sidney Greenstreet (Leslie Hope) and the dialogue between the two recall Jesse’s relationship with the late Abby Taylor (Polly Shannon). She also warns him that the council is going after him.

Jesse tracks down the shooter Teddy Leaf (Fulvio Cecere) and in true Stone manner, sets him up, manipulating events to make sure the man takes the fall he deserves… a third strike.

The series continues to be well-written, engaging, and Nova Scotia continues to stand in wonderfully for Massachusetts, and it’s nice to see places I recognize.

The story-telling, building on the previous films, interweaves new material with characters we’ve come to know and care for and I quite enjoy this universe.

In the interim I have read the first Jesse Stone book, Night Passage, and while I enjoyed it immensely, I can also see why the changes that were made for television were done. What works in the book I don’t think would’ve worked as well on the screen, and the film series seems to build on the spirit of the characters and the books, while making the television universe its own.

I will say this, it’s tough to see anyone else but Selleck as Stone, so my brain automatically paints him into the novel when I read it.

In the end, the ice, I fear proves too thin for Jesse, and the council, for the time being, gets there way… setting things up for the next film, No Remorse.

I quite enjoy these films, and I’m a little saddened that there only 3 for me to get through right now. Course, I still have the rest of the books to get through as well…

Jesse Stone: Sea Change (2007)

Back to Paradise I go, to visit with Tom Selleck as Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone in another mystery.

This time, Jesse, under the advice of Dr. Dix (William Devane), Jesse tries to find something that will keep him busy, to be important to him, to stave off his alcoholism.

He has Rose (Kathy Baker), the dispatcher from before Molly (Viola Davis), who is off-duty for her pregnancy, dig up a cold-case homicide for him to focus on.

Paradise has three, and Stone decides to take on the most recent one, 1992, fifteen years previous.

In the interim, Suit (Kohl Sudduth) wakes from his coma, caused by the bullet wound in the previous installment, and though shaky, returns to duty, mistakenly calling Jesse Lou a number of times.

Office politics are starting to raise their ugly heads as Anthony DeAngelo (Vito Rezza) is starting to try Jesse’s patience. DeAngelo is under the impression that he should have been offered the position of chief instead of importing someone he sees as a drunk. He spends most of his time now, reporting on him to the town council.

Stone brings Rose into play on the other case that shows up in this film, a young woman Cathleen (Mika Boorem), and her father, accusing a tourist Harrison Pendelton (Nigel Bennett), who’s in Paradise for the regatta, of rape.

As Jesse digs into the case, he finds that old ghosts from previous cases are coming up. It seems a few people knew Hasty Hathaway (Saul Rubinek) was laundering money through his bank for Gino Fish (William Sadler) and robbed it of $2 million dollars, but a bank teller, taken hostage, was killed, and this is the homicide Jesse is trying to solve.

Fish sends in one of his guys, Terry (I prefer Terrence) Genest (James Rogers), the brother of Joe Genest (Stephen Baldwin) who was killed in Night Passage. He and Stone have a series of altercations, that you know can only end in one of them dead. Wonder who?

Tracking down the family of the murdered teller, Stone comes across her sister Leeann (Rebecca Pidgeon), and her ill mother.

The further Jesse gets into the case, the less he likes what he finds, and in the end, when all is resolved, he has to turn to the drink again.

These films continue to engage, and entertain, and I love how they are put together, written, filmed and edited. This one, like the previous, Death In Paradise, didn’t reveal who the baddie is until the last few minutes of the show, but looking back over everything that is said and done, the clues are all there.

And as a side note, I started the first book the other day, Night Passage, and so far I’m liking it, some of the names are different and I like the way Parker writes, but despite the fact that he’s only 30-something in the books, I still see him as Selleck.

Watching Nova Scotia on the screen reminds me that I miss it, and the ocean, though not so much the winters.

I think for now, I will live vicariously through these movies and Haven. (And let me say, I love the location they use for his house, with the little bridge and red house!)

Titanic 3D

 So Paramount and associated companies laid out quite the event the other night for Valentine’s Day by giving a select few audiences a sneak peek at the re-release of Titanic in April, newly upgraded to 3D.

Now before you heave that sigh, and say 3D, really?? Titanic??

The one thing one needs to remember about the film, besides how incredibly hot Kate Winslet is, is that it was written and directed by James Cameron. Now no matter what one thinks of Avatar (wasn’t a fan) technically it was a great achievement, showing that 3D didn’t have to be gimmicky with things lunging out of the screen at you. It can be used to enhance the actual film-going experience, to add visual depths to the film.

But I’m starting to get ahead of myself.

On arriving we were directed to the upper floor of the AMC24 at Yonge and Dundas, where we were greeted by a plethora of folk milling about and enjoying everything that had been arranged for us.

First off there was a photo-op against a Titanic backdrop with a couple in fancy dress referring to themselves as Jack and Rose. But the picture turned out great, and we’ll post it when we find it!

We also realized we were in first class, not only because we got free popcorn and drinks, but there was a quartet playing away in the corner, making sure we had music to down to.

While we wandered about, we noticed that there were also sketch artists on hand to do portraits while you wait, happily no one decided to strip down and re-enact Kate’s performance in that scene, but both artists did wonderful work.

Finally when we wandered into the theater, we were issued first class boarding passes, special Titanic 3D glasses (I do love cool swag) and then settled into our seats.

I knew going in that the conversion of the film would have to be amazing, otherwise Cameron would never have okayed the re-issue.

But I was simply stunned by how amazing it looks!

You wouldn’t believe looking at it that this film was 15 years old, and hadn’t been shot in 3D the first time around. As the underwater submersibles emerge and descend into the darkness surrounding the ship, the layers worked into the film become readily apparent, there is detritus floating all about, but all at different depths in the picture.

It’s a gorgeous transfer, and it makes the experience truly unique. There’s an added emotional impact when she sinks. The masses of people in the water seem absolutely incredible, and then in turn dwarfed by the sinking hulk towering over them. Another sequence where you could truly see the layers of a 3D film establishing depth, is Rose’s arrival in America while it’s raining, the rain has layer upon layer, not a single sheet… I can only imagine the work that went into converting this film to 3D… was it necessary? No. Does it actually enhance the theater going experience… Yes.

Of course it’s a simple story, much in the same vein of Avatar, a simple tale set against an intricate technical achievement. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet still shine in the roles that helped launch them to super-stardom, and despite it’s simplicity, it’s still engaging as you wait to watch the disaster that you know is inevitable (unless you’re completely unaware of historic events – which apparently some of the people in our audience were, they remarked a number of times, “It’s sinking! The boat is sinking!”).

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the music, James Horner’s score is as always fantastic, he uses a lot of percussion and horns, and of course a stirring use of piano motifs as he incorporates an instrumental version of THAT song.

It’s sad that My Heart Will Go On has descended into the realm of cliché because it really is a gorgeous song,course, it would also have been better if they hadn’t used Celine either. But that’s neither here nor there.

I enjoyed going back to Titanic, but that song at the end now just jars you right out of the experience. It’s too bad that it hasn’t weathered the years as well as the film.

Titanic returns to theaters this April, and if you aren’t opposed to the three hour run time, though it certainly didn’t feel like three hours, course, that is three hours in Kate’s company… Indulge your inner romantic, take a friend, your sweetie, or your gal pals…It makes for a nice evening out.

It was for us, and we also got to walk away with some cool swag, as we were all presented with gift bags on our way out.