Ok, I’m going to also use this site to review what I am currently watching on TV, as a go along. These may be longer reviews, they may be very short. But they will always end in a score out of 5 on the 5-fez scale, as below:






This seems the most scientific way I can think of rating the shows I watch. Fez rules. This may all become a bit skewed by the fact that the worst episodes of the shows I love are still better than the best episodes of some bad shows, but then I don’t watch many bad shows. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Hopefully I’ll be able to judge shows on their own merits.

Check back for updates, I plan to start these reviews very soon. Shows currently running on my watchlist are:

  • Doctor Who (classic series mainly, soon to be series 6. I will also do a review run-through of the modern show to date)
  • Fringe – currently up to S3 e5
  • House – S5 e14
  • American Office – S5 somewhere
  • How I Met You Mother – up to date
  • Modern Family -up to date
  • Big Bang Theory – up to date

I don’t know if I’ll be reviewing all of these, but it’s a starting point, and we’ll see how we get on!


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5 reasons why Doctor Who is in the best shape of its life

When I watched series 5 of Doctor who last year, it blasted away my preconceptions of a show I had never bothered with. With series 6/2/6a/32 nearly upon us, this convert looks at why Doctor Who fans have never had it so good.

1. Matt Smith

The actor who got me hooked on the show had an incredible debut year, and his portrayal of the Doctor was the perfect blend of ancient, wise, clumsy, awkward, nerdy, rambling, not-as-cool-as-he-thinks genius. A breath of fresh air after the rather heavy baggage being carried by David Tennant by the end of his tenth doctor tenure, the 11th doctor was fresh and excited, and exciting, and shook off doubters within minutes of season opener The Eleventh Hour by eating fishfingers with custard and telling a young Amelia Pond to “fry something”.

By the end of the series, Matt Smith and 11 had truly found his stride, culminating in what I would argue the finest doctor-acted episode in the show’s run, The Big Bang. An episode of undeniable silliness, it allowed Smith to steal the show in an acting tour-de-force, playing the doctor as both crazy old man and geeky buffoon, and inspiring the name of this blog. The future looks incredibly bright. Picture time:

Despite a few dodgy episodes in the series which still stands as my favourite, Smith lifted even the weakest weeks with some great lines, some of which of course have to be credited to:

2. Steven Moffat

It may sound gushing, but this man is probably a genius. OR he just perfectly appeals to what I want to see in a TV show. The fact that the man responsible for virtually all of my favourite episodes from Russell T Davies’ era of Doctor Who goes a long way to explain why series 5 appealed so much to me. A quick list of his pre-series 5 stuff:

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

The Girl in the Fireplace


Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead

All just utterly fantastic, scary, satisfying episodes. Moffat took the head chair in style last year, and the scripts from him (and other writers, to be fair) were funny, dramatic, and scary, and with the kind of quality seen in this season and also in Sherlock, this show is now in very, very safe hands. Another thing he brought with him from the previous seasons was of course:

3. River Song

A both a character and a plot device, Alex Kingston’s River Song has been a brilliant addition to the show. The woman who knows the doctor’s future is a fantastic device in frustrating the man who knows everything. And doesn’t she just revel in it?!

With the promise of her return and continuing story in the next series, fans should be very excited. Will we find out ANYTHING? Why does she know the Doctor’s name? Who did she kill who was a ‘hero to many’? What details are hidden in that little blue book of hers? I hope we soon see her first meeting with the Doctor (from her perspective).

What River Song is also indictive of is Steven Moffat’s move towards longer story-arcs:

4. Story Arcs

River Song being the best representation of this, the move towards multi-series mysteries is, from a personal perspective at least, fantastic news for Doctor Who. Series-arcs have been a mainstay since the show returned in 2005, but Moffat seems to be heading towards more continuous storylines for his tenure, with the mystery of The Silence, first mentioned in The Eleventh  Hour (or was it in Silence in the Library, eh Moffat??), still very much unresolved. The main season arc of season 5, the cracks, played out beautifully as a story, but the origins of the exploding TARDIS, and the mysterious voice repeating ‘Silence will Fall’ are still very much unexplained and I’m sure will still continue to crop up. I’m a sucker for long-running carrot-dangling, and I was a sucker for Lost because of this, so I am completely in favour of longer-running mysteries. It also would not surprise me in the least if we have already seen elements or clues building up to:

5. 2013 50th anniversary

in 2 years, Doctor Who turns 50, and there is no way that the BBC will be ignoring this fact. I am convinced that Steven Moffat already has plans in mind, and also that we have already seen the beginning seeds planted on screen. I’m not saying I know where or what, but I would hazard a guess that the excitement around potential multi-doctor stories (somewhat an anniversary tradition) will not be completely dissapointed or unfounded. Despite the inherent problems with such stories (the Doctor experiencing the same thing 11 times / old fat actors) if anyone can pull this kind of thing off, it’s timey-wimey king Stephen Moffat. I would put good money on David Tennant appearing in that year at some point, and why not get others back as well? Paul McGann tops my wishlist. He is still playing The 8th Doctor for Big Finish audios, and he is also the only doctor we have yet to see regenerate. Surely an opportunity beckons? I would say River Song will still be very much in the picture at this stage, and she kills a ‘great man’. McGann’s pretty great, that’s all I’m saying.

Whatever happens after 2013, the ride there is going to be incredible, so buckle up and enjoy.

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Whereas with Star Trek (see the last post), a reboot meant a parallel reset (despite the continuity sticky-tape that was Leonard Nimoy), when Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005, Russell T Davies did so as a continuation of the classic series. Yes, his pitch was one of ‘keeping the best bits’, disbanding with a lot of inconvenient plot points like Time Lords with the big reset of ‘The Time War’, AKA the wardrobe in which all things RTD can’t be bothered to explain get hidden, but the story is nonetheless a continuous, albeit, plot-hole ridden one.

Although many fans of the classic series would love to dispute it, the last 6 years of Doctor Who have been cononically linked to the classic series now on several occassions, with enemies mentioning previous meetings with the Doctor, the return of Sarah Jane Smith, images of past doctors flashing on screen, Matt Smith calling himself ’11’ (or ’11th’, I forget), and perhaps most notably, Steven Moffat’s Time Crash special featuring Peter Davison’s 5th doctor. Argue the canonicity of that all you like, it counts.

Now does all this really matter? No. The new series stands up alone and references to the past are fine as just that.The first time I watched season 2 episode School Reunion, I didn’t know who Sarah Jane was, but it still made sense, I understood she was a past companion. Watching 1975’s Genesis of the Daleks was then a bonus, a reverse benefit of knowing the character’s future, rather than the character’s past. Which was kind of the nature of that episode in terms of the Daleks, so why not for SJS as well?

What these references do allow though is for viewers like myself, who only began watching the show last year, to be able to delve even further into the show’s mythology, into an seemingly infinite world of stories once I had caught up with the post-2005 offerings. And it all counts. It feels connected to the current show and that is credit to the writers of the show that it still works as a continuation of the classic series despite being a very different beast indeed.

This rambling mess of a post is the start of a continuous theme of discussing what is currently my favourite show. It’s history and mythology are part of why I like it so much. To get such historic depth from what is essentially a children’s show, to me, is impressive as hell.

Next: Why Dr Who is in the strongest position it’s ever been

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Watching Star Trek

Last week I rewatched the 2009 Star Trek reboot from JJ Abrams, because I am a huge fan of the film. Does that make me a huge fan of Star Trek? And if not, why do I like the film?

It struck me that all Hollywood reboots, and TV show reboots (I’ll get to Dr Who shortly) appeal to audiences’ yearning nostalgia, and they feed off  that nostalgia and the rabid fandom that eminated from the originals, attempting to invite in a new generation of fans to the universe. They take the core ingredients – characters, locations, catchphrases – and remould them onto a modern audience, many of whom would not have been born when the original aired.

Of course, it is easy to pass these endeavours off as cold money-making exercises, cannabilising past glories for a whole new raiding mission on the wallets of the young and ill-informed. On the whole, these reimagined franchises prove hugely succesful, and the studios will keep them coming as long as they do so. Star Trek, in the hands of hitmaker JJ Abrams, auteur of the hugely popular Alias, the historic Lost, and more recently the underrated Fringe, not to mention silver screen goliaths Cloverfield and MI:3, feels well looked after. I realise that argument appears to be completely contradictory, but all those prodcutions, despite their massive success, also hold a strong sense of care and authorship. JJ Abrams is a man that knows his geek.

So is this what is important? Being fair to the ‘proper’ fans? Perhaps, although I doubt the studios the studios truly believe that (ok, time to shut off the evil corporate conspiracy switch in my head). Star Trek was already a huge phenomenon, I know that, you know that. The core of the text, ignoring it’s various spin-offs and movies, would be the original 60’s series then, that of Shatner and Nimoy and those great doors that go ‘shhhhdkum’. It was great wasn’t it, that’s real Star Trek, yeah? This is why I loved the movie, the loving references, the accuracy of the recastings, Spock?

Except I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an episode.

I’ve seen a couple of the later movies, maybe a bit of Patrick Stewart here and there, but there is no way I could regard myself as a Star Trek fan. Why would I want to be? Trekkies were those weird kids at school who combed their hair really straight and who didn’t see sunlight and who asked you to come round for a sandwich at lunch because they didn’t want to play football, weren’t they?

So suddenly we’re all pretending to love Star Trek because it’s fresh and cool and we can say we get the references? Or is it something else? I think it’s seperate from the need to be a Trekkie, it’s just a knowledge thing. I haven’t seen Star Trek, but I could tell you almost all of the basics, even before I went excitedly to see this movie. I knew of Spock and Kirk and the doors and Vulcans and hand symbols and ‘live long and prosper’ and ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’ and ‘captain’s log’ and a hundred other things. These are ingrained in our culture, through references (Family Guy’s Sulu and Mike Myers’ Scotty impression off the top of my head, but thousands more) and subconcious BBC2 dinnertime background viewing I imagine.

Yes, I think the power of the geek is outing a lot more would be closet-geeks, and that once we leave school and mix with a more diverse range of people we realise that it is much more normal and acceptable than playground bullying would suggest, but in this post-modern environment where nearly everything seems to reference, pay tribute to, or pastiche an existing text, we all want to be in on the joke. Maybe we don’t want to be social outcasts, but we want the newly found status that goes with it. We appreciate the reference because we get the reference, and not because we feel that it keeps our beloved original series sacred and secure.

We could therefore congratulate JJ Abrams and the like for standing up for geeks and nerds, for elevating their social status and making their knowledge a goal for us simpletons on the outside the Star Trek communities who mocked them so. Who’s laughing now?

I also see it another way though, and it’s a point of view that stems from my growing up with my own defensiveness about seeing the things I was passionate about be dissapated and spoon-fed for the masses. It’s that little twinge of annoyance that comes from, say, your favourite band suddenly becoming huge, that feeling that you put in the groundwork and built this ‘relationship’ with a text (I call it text for semantic purposes, but substitute in band/book/person/show as appropriate) only for masses to be given it so easily, often at a perceived detriment to the quality of the output. A big personal example for me here would be Harry Potter, a brilliant series of novels lauded for encouraging a new generation of young readers, now easily accessible to slob infront of on the big screen in all it’s watered down heroic glory.

I realise this argument is becoming slightly unfocused and rambling, so to wrap it up until next time, it seems basically that falling in love with a reboot via a claim of prior love and knowledge of its parent text, although highly self-satisfying and enjoyable, also seems a little unfair on those who truly understand the cultural signifance of the remake; those who would doubtless have been dreading this remake coming to the big screen, despite, I imagine, being a key part of the target market**.

Next time, Doctor Who, and where fandom divides are drawn.

**incidently, I have no idea how defensive or negative long-term Star Trek fans were towards this film. In fact I have read in the past that the various levels of in-jokes in the film, lovingly woven in by the writers, allowed the film to appeal to all sides of the spectrum, but then they would say that, wouldn’t they? Anyway, why would I care what those pointy-eared weirdos thought? 😉

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Aaaand after one day I have failed in my quest to write on here every day. This is part of the exercise, and my routine has crumbled.

I have always had a bit of a problem with routine. I force myself into the daily work routine but have never truly adjusted. I think my problem with mornings heavily informs my taste in morning listening and viewing.

My radio of choice on the way to work is Chris Moyles. There’s not too much rubbish music, as he and his team seem to purposely avoid playing too much of the station’s dire playlist as possible, and the atmosphere is chilled, unstructured, and lazy, just like me before midday.

Yes, it’s cliquey, full of in-jokes, often mildly offensive, but aren’t we all? I’ve often caught people staring at me as I walk along trying to hold in laughter on the street, and it takes a lot to make me smile in the morning.

The show gets me out of my zombie trance, and I am an unashamed fan of the team that get their fair share of criticism, even if all Moyles’ TV shows are rubbish.

If I am not working, then I will invariably sit down in front of The Wright Stuff with my Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (rock and roll I know). It is the only thing worth watching on Channel 5 since I stopped watching Neighbours a few years ago. (I loved Neighbours, but it felt a bit like a habit that was bad for me, so I resisted ever going back).

Anyway, The Wright Stuff. I somehow convince myself that it is above the normal morning magazine fare. BBC Breakfast is my pre-work viewing but again, I’ll get on to them another time.  The Wright Stuff basically consists of Matthew Wright and a panel of 3 guests, one there to promote a book of some sort, looking at the morning papers and debating briefly (very briefly) on a handful of important topics. These vary between anything from surrogacy to school dinners, or in this morning’s instance, “why do women want big boobs?”.

There is a lot I shouldn’t like about the show; Matthew Wright’s on-the-fence devil’s advocate approach to debating is at times grating, and the whole thing is a little old-fashioned with the ‘pretty girl on the phones’, but Kirsty Duffy is a TV presenter in her own right and a lovely part of the team, so there.

Despite its shortcomings though, compared to Jeremy Kyle/GMTV it is almost educational television, and it’s certainly an easily digestable way to see the main news stories of the day. Much like this post, there’s not the time to get too in-depth with the debates, but the brush the surface just enough for my morning brain to think it’s learning.

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As a first post, I would like to quickly big up that cultural oddity, The One Show.

Call me cyncial, but I really enjoy watching the awkwardness of the setup of a ‘star-name’ having to sit through half an hour of pure tedium in order to earn their minute of plugging. It’s actually rather refreshing.

Some stars revel in it, some are pro enough to grin and bear it, and some are incredibly bored-looking.

This evening, I watched Jeremy Irons (yes, the Jeremy Irons, star of Dungeons & Dragons) sit there staring in to space as those around him discussed squirrels and yarn.

Then Alex Jones asked her obligatory stupid, badly researched questions, and got his wife’s name wrong, which despite being very shoddy (surprise, surprise BBC journo’s, I’ll get to you later) was still for some reason good to see in a very British way. We don’t like being too slick, do we?

With ‘celebrities’ so used to being planted in these interviews to talk about themselves and the latest product they have onthe shelves, I think it’s great that they have to force a comment on life’s banalities and snap out of the little bubble of self-indulgence that they are usually shown and pictured inside.

I should say, I do not hate people for being famous. Far from it, the nature of celebrity can encourage and inspire imitation of talent and the pursuit of greatness.  Unfortunately, as we all know, it is too often that hero-worship is offered to ‘personalities’, rather than those talented few at the top of their respective fields. It is the difference, say, between being inspired by Simon Cowell, and being inspired by Cheryl Cole. I will resist the urge to rant.

I sound like I hate Jeremy Irons. I don’t. He is in Die Hard with a Vengeance, how could I? He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time tonight, and got in my cross-hairs. Legend.

And talented.

Just a bit bored by squirrels.

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Good Evening!

Hello and welcome,

This blog’s existence owes in equal parts to a personal need to expel and express my current interests and general musings,  and the nagging of my girlfriend to channel my creativity in some way.

The purpose of this blog will probably evolve as we go on, but for now I plan to use it to explore and discuss everything from my favourite TV shows to my gloriously sheltered and ill-informed views on the world.

This is already feeling quite diary-like, so I should probably introduce myself.

My name is Alex, I was born in 1986, I am white, British, an inescapably middle-class, so I hope this blog will also let me explore how this somewhat priveleged existence affects my views of the world and also myself (yes, the narcissism is becoming clear to me as well. Please don’t go quite yet, I promise it will be fun).

The public nature of this (even if noone else reads it) is already feeling quite liberating, so, in true spirit of this, it’s time for 3 Random Confessions:

  • I am the world’s greatest procastinator, and am especially succesful at convincing myself and justifying the behaviour
  • I currently have a bit of a Dr Who obsession, hence the name of the blog, which grew from the show being a rebound of my Lost obsession. I like TV shows, good ones.
  • Once, at primary school, I spat at a girl, then hid in a bush for half an hour so the teachers wouldn’t find me. It did not work.

There, that was good, I feel like we know eachother better already, Internet. (Do I address the Internet as a singular? Do I address you, mr/mrs/ms/miss/dr/sir reader? I’m new to this)

If I only end up discussing with myself, that’s fine, the expressive exercise will still be fine and fun. If you have stumbled upon my ramblings, then welcome, come in, I’ll put the kettle on. But please do take your shoes off, or my girlfriend will make me vacuum again.

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