27 October 2014

TV Catch Up // Doctor Who, Series 8, Episode 10: In The Forest Of The Night

Warning: contains spoilers!

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson, Abigail Eames

Written by: Frank Cottrell Boyce

Directed by: Sheree Folkson

The Story: The Earth has been invaded in the strangest way. Waking up one morning to find the planet covered in forest, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) must work out why this has happened and how to save the future of humanity.

After last week’s sublime episode Flatline and with acclaimed writer Frank Cottrell Boyce in the driving seat for In The Forest Of The Night, we sat down expecting big things. What we got instead was arguably the weakest episode in a strong series of Doctor Who.

The concept of being lost in a forest is not new in world of Doctor Who and the teasers for In The Forest Of The Night had a magical, fairytale feel that failed to materialise fully in the 45 minutes of the episode itself. The sight of London landmarks amid a world-spanning forest is beautifully done and new-to-Who director Sheree Folkson (good to see a woman at the helm) does a sterling job of bringing the story to life.  But the story itself is the poor cousin of the direction here.

So what was it all about? Well, Coal Hill school’s Mr Danny Pink and Miss Clara Oswald (Samuel Anderson and Jenna Coleman) are having a sleepover in the London Zoological Museum with a group of “gifted and talented” pupils when the Earth becomes covered in forest. Meanwhile, a lost little girl called Maebh (a very charming Abigail Eames) comes calling for the Doctor.  Mr Pink and Miss Oswald must lead their charges home and the Doctor must find a way to save the planet from the invading trees.

There are some positives about this episode. The Coal Hill kids are universally great value for money and provide some brilliantly quotable dialogue. Maebh is a delightful, yet sad mystery to uncover as she winds her way through the forest wafting away the questions that assail her.

There are some interesting insights into the relationship between Mr Pink and Miss Oswald, with Clara’s view of the situation as she longs to find out why the trees have invaded while Danny just wants to get his kids home. Clara also has to deal with some uncomfortable questions about the lies she’s been telling to cover up her double life; this time from Danny after last week’s challenge from the Doctor. There’s enough to have built up to the final two episodes of the series. What can be the final outcome for Clara of her dual existence? We can only wait and see.

Possibly the most interesting part of the story is the Doctor’s helplessness in the face of an invasion he can’t defeat. His desperation to save those around him is sad and troubling. He seems defeated as Clara chooses to go with Danny to try and get the children home. Clara not wanting to be the last of her kind and her letting go of the Doctor left a rather large lump in this reviewer’s throat.

However none of this can entirely make up for the frustration of a story that makes you wonder if you’ve nodded off and missed chunks. Maybe some key moments were left on the cutting room floor (or in the recycle bin). The reason for the trees is pretty obvious early on as the Doctor talks of a solar flare heading the Earth’s way, and the environmental message is a little over-egged.  The sub-plot involving Maebh’s missing sister feels unnecessary to such a degree that the final denouement with Maebh, her mum and said sister feels less emotional that it was probably meant to.

There are some prettily-done zoo animals - wolves and a tiger - on the loose that add some mild peril, but these, as well as the Coal Hill kids, feel as though they have less story than they probably deserve. Perhaps with less eco-story and less missing sister, (and possibly with an extra 15 minutes running time) these good parts could have been more fully realised. Sadly what we have is 45 minutes that are underwhelming in what has been, up to now, a high quality series. Which is a shame, because you feel that In The Forest Of The Night could have been so much more.

The mysterious Missy gets another look-in at the end of the episode, which leaves us all set for the final two-parter to finish Peter Capaldi’s very strong first series. Writing duties fall back to showrunner Steven Moffat and we’re promised the return of the Cybermen and Missy’s world of the Nethersphere, where some things could be worse than death. Gulp!

Did you know? Famous London landmark Nelson’s column has featured in several Doctor Who adventures including The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Chase and Rose and the Doctor has mentioned that Nelson himself was a ‘close personal friend’.

Most impressive shot: An aerial view of London covered in forest

The “Gifted & Talented” indeed award: “What’s an avigator?”

Best line: “I could save you

(Andrea McGuire)

26 October 2014

Short Stories // 1 - Casket by Luke Moore

No meteorological pathetic fallacies here I’m afraid. I won’t lie. It was a sunny day. We might have been dressed in black - no, it wasn’t what he wanted, I’m sure of that - all tired, broken, unsure. But the sun was shining. Unscripted, unhindered, wasted sunshine.

There were a small gathering of people outside the door to the crematorium, having a last few puffs of their cigarettes before the proceedings got underway. A brick building, all right angles and no soul. Concrete pillars, a pebbledash office just around the corner, and smudged security glass doors. Maybe in 1965, this was palatial. Today, a relic, borne of practicality and a faded image of, you know, the right kind of thing for these sorts of occasions.

I hated it. Would I have chosen this? No way. Along came the hearse. Slowly, though that goes without saying I suppose, we’re at a funeral after all. Over the speed bumps, gently does it. A flash of knowing black humour from those gathered around about that little manoeuvre. So, so slow. Agonisingly slow. It’s funny what people say at funerals, inane things, bloody platitudes, little things they think will help ease everyone’s collective suffering. “It’s what he would have wanted”, from folks that never knew the guy (and trust me I know him the best of anyone here). Clearly what he wanted, at least for a moment, probably for longer, was to get away from all of this nonsense.

About thirty of us in attendance shuffled around the uncomfortable seating, jostling for position to be nearest the aisles. Disrespectful perhaps, but one of Mark’s friends had been an amazing chef at the French place in town and word was that the catering at the wake was going to be something even more special than his usual offerings. I wouldn’t be having any food though. No, all this meant I was off the food.

Ah, the choices of music at these things. Always gets me. Some real clichés. I mean, Satie’s Gymnopedie number one, those major seventh chords hanging in the air like unanswered questions. What would Mark have wanted to know? What was the last thing he asked himself? Nobody got any messages from him that night, nobody saw him after he left the Fox and Duck, well, not alive anyway. So perhaps a little remiss of us not to have asked what he would have liked here, now, on this day of all days. In fact the whole piece is unanswered. Left hanging. Sorry, bad choice of words, I didn’t mean to- - you understand what I meant though, you know, that piece, pops up on every “classical chillout” album there is. Haunting, gorgeous, introspective. Oh wait I feel like I’m in a bloody GCSE music exam all over again. Right now I just feel weird. “It’s like Mark’s in the room with us”, comments one particular ignoramus. Maybe he is, madam, rolling his ghoulish eyes at that hyperbolic bullshit from beyond the grave. The service wasn’t much of an improvement on the unconvincing choice of tunes. A nondescript set of readings from the good book, one Mark had never wanted to read, but had damned with vitriol for years. Something about Paul. Always Paul. I got the impression that Paul had a lot to say.

Which one was Paul again? I still wasn’t sure. Something about eternal life too. My, my. How out of place did that feel. We were all surely thinking the same at that point, surely. But nobody dared break their dignified gazes into middle distance. None of us dared to pipe up and say how pissed off our departed brother would have been if his existence was to be prolonged indefinitely by an almighty being that he’d always hated the notion of. No, not us. We sat, good as gold, thoughts slowly shifting to the awkward conversations that were likely to fill the room at the wake. Relatives catching up, long lost family members re-acquainting each other with the reasons they chose not to stay in touch.

Acquaintances of the deceased, not close enough to be friends, mates, buddies, but determined to turn whatever morsels of time with Mark they had - a pint here, a barely acknowledged joke there - into something worthy of an Olivier Award Winning anecdote. Yet none of them had been there when he needed them, and I viewed them now with a rather hazy, futile sense of contempt. Now, by the way, happens to be at that very wake. Suit jackets have gradually begun to become separated from their varyingly inebriated owners. The generous array of haute cuisine had been replaced by a mish-mash of party food, pygmy sandwiches and just two varieties of crisps, due to the chef friend of Mark’s having food poisoning. I wouldn’t be eating any of it, as appetising as the halved pork pies might have looked. I can’t even remember the last time I ate. An argument begins to brew at the bar, something about football transfer fee record spending, between two guys that even I didn’t recognise. The smokers slowly began to assemble, with no consideration for the fact that I, on the other side of the window, could see them giggling amongst themselves. Theyclearly can’t see me. I didn’t expect floods of tears, no ceremonial mourning, just a general sense of the kind of respect that should come naturally at these occasions. But I wasn’t in the mood to try and enforce it. And if I was, I wouldn’t have been able to anyway.

Slowly but surely, the room began to empty. Old friends, uncomfortable ex-lovers, former girlfriends, people Mark had worked with, even a few he had now been denied, through death, of fully burning bridges with- their final insult was showing up here, or perhaps their final stab at consoling the rifts - but they were allowed to be here. It’s part of the human condition, right? All of them, stood clutching their drinks, milling around, coats draped over their arms as a gesture that they had lives to get back to. I wish I could say I had the same, but instead I was the awkward, unseen onlooker, listening to this drivel, as one by one, they left.

It was just me and the girl behind the bar. And a blue woollen scarf, a mislaid suit jacket and few forgotten printed copies of the order of service, in unimaginative Arial size 12. She looked in my direction, as if straight through me. I looked back. She hastily cashed up the till behind the bar and locked it, then, after rubbing her arms to warm herself up, put on her cherry red leather jacket and walked across to switch off the lights. One by one, the neon strips flickered out and a grey twilight descended across the empty room. Again, she looked; A little to my left, this time. “Hello?” I didn’t reply. It hadn’t taken long to realise I was wasting my time with her, and all of the others. Again she rubbed her arms, pulled out a set of keys, and left through the side door. The key clicked in the lock and she walked off into the night.

With the muffled sound of her heels clicking into the distance, I realised that for all of those years that I had tried to picture what this day would be like, even up to the point when I was running my fingers over the cold leather belt, and varnished wooden banister, I was still so wide of the mark. Mark wasn’t happy then, and I’m still not now. But at least today, I know what it would be like, and what a disappointment all of this has been, as once in a lifetime events go. Perhaps that’s the reason I was uninvited at my own funeral.

Written by Luke Moore. Illustration by Mick Flaherty. 

23 October 2014

#SRCZ Listen // Hannah Schneider – Dreaming Kind

Hannah Schneider says that “Being a musician is a lifelong project. It’s with you from the minute you’re born to the day you die.” In this video for Dreaming Kind, extracted from her upcoming third solo album Red Lines, we see the singer doing just that. That is, making ear catchingly beautiful music.

The video tells a story perhaps less joyful than the surface shine of the song, and it makes a perfect contrast. Music can truly be a beautiful experience no matter what else is happening. Listen out for Red Lines soon, it’s sure to be a winner!

22 October 2014

#SRCZ Listen // The Kut – I Want You Maniac

You may have noticed a surfeit of witches, ghosts, ghouls and other gothic effigies on display in recent weeks. Unless you have an active cosplay community in your locality, it’s probably because that day of days, or perhaps night of nights more properly, Halloween is coming along. In the spirit of said tradition The Kut have released a new single in the form of I Want You Maniac.

The video, (above), features the band in best Halloween tradition, instruments in hand and blood (or is it?) strategically placed. The song itself is another string cut from the band, with a chorus that that works its way into your mind with an appropriately frightening ease.

#SRCZ Listen // Museum Of Love – The Who’s Who Of Who Cares

Taken from their recent eponymous album, Museum Of Love have kindly released a rather excellent video for single, the rather brilliantly titled The Who’s Who of Who Cares.

The video shows a fast frame process of sculpting with modelling clay and the ultimate destruction of its result.  Of the single the band said “the combination sounds like a collaboration between Roxy Music, Arthur Russell and the Salsoul Orchestra that was handed off to a Chicago House producer for remixing”

21 October 2014

Preview // Björk – Biophilia Live

It seems like a while since the ever active Björk released Biophilia, her last, innovative app based, album. In fact, it is. Following an excellent remix collection in the form of Bastards, comes the dvd (or blu-ray or vinyl or digital download)  of the well attended tour that followed the release of the album.

The concert film captures the visual element of Biophilia and was filmed in London at a 2013 date during the tour. The touring entourage of a 24 piece choir and instrumentalists playing such illuminating instruments as a Tesla coil, a gravity harp and, our favourite, a hang, are all seen in the film.

All will be revealed on November 24th, when the disc is released, or not. 

TV Review // Doctor Who, Series 8, Episode 9: 'Flatline'

Warning: contains spoilers!

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson, Jovian Wade, Christopher Fairbank

Written by: Jamie Mathieson

Directed by: Douglas Mackinnon

The Story: With the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) trapped in a miniaturised TARDIS, Clara (Jenna Coleman) must save mankind from a two-dimensional menace from, erm, another dimension.

The standard of writing and direction in Peter Capaldi’s first series playing Doctor Who have been uniformly high, but even so, we’ve been waiting for that one episode that elevates it to a new level. And Flatline is that episode.

Sold by the BBC as a Doctor-lite episode, Flatline is no such thing, really, however it does put Clara firmly in the Doctor role, which completes the arc her character has been on throughout the series. And fantastic stuff it is, too.

Returning writer, Jamie Mathieson (Mummy On The Orient Express) proves himself to be a brilliant addition to the Doctor Who team with a script that is inventive and scary and has some of the best visual gags we’ve seen in Doctor Who. And Listen and Time Heist director Douglas Mackinnon brings Mathieson’s script to magnificent life with some of the best CGI the programme has seen.

Let’s start off with some story, then. In a pretty nifty pre-credits sequence, we see a terrified beardy bloke on the phone to the police vanish into thin air only for his face to appear along his own picture rail. This sets the scene very nicely for a two-dimensional monster with the ability to suck the 3D from humans.

The Doctor and Clara land in Bristol only for the 2D creatures’ work to cause the TARDIS to shrink to handbag size with the Doctor trapped inside. Which leaves Clara to become the Doctor and solve the riddle of what is causing people to disappear. With Clara in Doctor-mode, Jovian Wade as grafitti artist Gigsy - here on a Community Payback duty straight out of Misfits - takes on the more traditional companion role, bringing cleverness and a very human touch.

As Clara and Gigsy investigate, we see just how people are taken by the 2D monsters. In one particularly impressive scene a police officer is sucked into the carpet in a fabulously 1970s flat only for her nervous system to appear as a mural on the wall. It seems that the 2D creatures are studying humans and soon they take on the third dimension of their victims and the murals of the missing come to shambling, horrifying life as the Doctor darkly intones, “They’re wearing the dead like camouflage.”

As the action moves to a tunnel, the story, the effects and indeed the humour ramp up a gear. WIth the TARDIS stuck on a railway line and a train fast approaching, the Doctor is forced to do a Thing from the Addams Family and walk the TARDIS off the track with his hand jutting from the door.  His little dance as the cloister bell (the TARDIS’s warning alarm) goes off is one to make you stand up and give a little round of applause.

Clara, in a very Doctor-y way, manoeuvres the 2D creatures into re-charging the TARDIS in time for the Doctor to come out in full-on fury mode and banish them to their own dimension.

The transformation of Clara over this series has been magnificently handled and her taking on the role of the Doctor is complete here as she wilfully deceives the people around her in order to save the world. What this has also achieved is the space for Capaldi to inhabit the role of the Doctor incredibly well and his ambiguous nature comes full circle in Flatline as he goes from trying to understand the 2D creatures to angrily dispatching them. Flatline also gives Capaldi room to show off his brilliant comedic acting as his giant face appears in the TARDIS doorway and again as he hands Clara a giant mallet through her handbag.

As Clara transforms into the Doctor, the lies around her mount up. Her living a double life - the one on Earth with boyfriend Danny and her travels with the Doctor - must catch up with her soon. In this episode, the Doctor calls her out for the lies she is telling Danny in order to continue with their adventures in the TARDIS. This is a very different girl from the one who stormed off in a rage a mere two episodes ago. Whatever happens next, she must surely have to explain her actions to Danny.

There are plenty of guest actors in Flatline, many of whom who are rather swiftly divested of their 3D selves, but a couple deserve a special mention. Christopher Fairbank plays Fenton, the misanthropic leader of the Community Payback scheme (and ironically, the most two-dimensional character of them all) who demonstrates by his miserable actions that sometimes saving the world involves saving some seriously unpleasant types while the good ones die. Jovian Wade as graffiti artist Gigsy, on the other hand, brings a lot of heart and bravery as he helps Clara and the Doctor to fight off and defeat the 2D monsters.

Flatline ends with the mysterious Missy (Michelle Gomez) saying “Clara, my Clara. I have chosen well” before laughing in a most unpleasant manner. What can this mean as we continue into the second half of this series? Well, you know us, we don’t like speculation. Or spoilers. We shall have to wait and see how this unfolds.

Did you know? #1:  This is not the first time the TARDIS has appeared smaller on the outside. 1964 episode Planet of the Giants had it shrink to less than an inch and in Tom Baker’s final episode Logopolis, the Master caused the TARDIS to shrink.

Did you know? #2: This is not the first time that art has come to life in Doctor Who. In widely-panned David Tennant episode Fear Her, young Chloe Webber’s drawings are brought to life by an Isolus and in the more widely-loved Vincent and the Doctor, Van Gough’s painting The Church at Auvers contains an image of a Krafayis.

Did you know? #3: The scenes in Bristol were actually shot on Barry Island, which is coincidentally, the setting for the later series of Being Human, a number of episodes of which were penned by Flatline writer Jamie Mathieson.

Did you notice?: When the TARDIS goes into siege mode, it resembles the Pandorica from the Matt Smith era.

Best dialogue:

Clara “Admit I did good.”
Doctor “You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara…..goodness had nothing to do with it.”

(Andrea McGuire)

16 October 2014

Call Out // November MixTape Submissions Open on #SRCZ

You might be relieved to know that the #SRCZ MixTape is once again open  and, even better, we’re accepting submissions for the November 2014 MixTape as of, well, right now! 

Following a brief break from the feature, we’re feeling ready to have the best music thrown at us once more, (digitally, of course), and although we normally get all thematic on you, we’re leaving this at Open Submission for a second time. In fact, that’s what we’re gonna call it!

So, if you’re a band/solo artist/musical performance artist/ not a mime please send in your submissions by the deadline below with the following information:

1 – Band/artist name
2 – Song name
3 – Tell a little about yourself and your song.
4 – Your home city/country
5 – Your contact details!
6 - How you found out about the Call Out. 

Please send your submission via a link on SoundCloud only. Attachments will not be accepted!

Remember there will be other chances to submit in the future so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get through this time. That said, we’re all nice here at #SRCZ so don’t worry too much!

If you want to get your music heard by our readers please make sure to submit soon!
Deadline for submissions is Saturday November 8th at Midnight

And remember, we're open to all genres, countries, languages and BPMs! 

Many Thanks,

Team #SRCZ