Saturday, October 6, 2018

How to Bingewatch Doctor Who: Skip/Watch List

New Who - the Revived Show 

[Updated through series 12]

Doctor Who is a great show, but let's be honest, it can be a bit intimidating to know where to jump in with a 56-year-old series. Luckily, I'm here to help! 

Let's start out with some history. Doctor Who started in 1963, but was cancelled in the 80s and subsequently revived in 2005. It's been running ever since. I'm assuming you want to start with the post-2005 revived show, called "New Who" or "NuWho," so this list covers that. I've also posted a list for the classic show.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Endeavour Series 5 - Icarus - Episode review

My review of the previous episode: Quartet.

That's it for Cowley, then. Mr. Bright begins the episode announcing the station's closure, to a welcome return of an opera soundtrack. The news confirms Fred in his plans to retire. Fancy, in love with Trewlove, has bought a ring. Trewlove wants to transfer to the Yard.

At first, I thought Morse was taking Thursday's retirement so hard that he'd quit the police force, but it turns out he's going undercover as a teacher at a boy's school. He's not alone. Trewlove is along to play Mrs. Morse, a narrative stretch that does actually push the characters in interesting directions, but still feels implausible.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Endeavour Series 5 - Quartet - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: Colours.

There's no real reason for all of the Thames Valley crew to be at the Jeux Sans Frontières, a weird game show pitting European teams against each other. Are they there for security? I mean, that's for beat cops, not detectives. I can't imagine Morse or Max attend such events for fun, especially Max, who's fully decked out in his usual bow-tie and suit. In any case, it's lucky the team are there to immediately respond when the German "Giant" is assassinated by the Swiss. A little boy is caught in the cross-fire. The Swiss giant disappears. International incident, here we come.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Endeavour Series 5 - Passenger - Episode Review

 My review of the previous episode: Cartouche.

"It won't do, Morse. It won't bloody do." 

If I was a wrongdoer and heard Fred Thursday speak those words, I'd be quaking in my boots. It means things are serious. And indeed they are.

Passenger begins with the usual intercut scenes. A trainspotter watches an engine whoosh into the station while a giggling couple cavort in bed. Meanwhile, some thugs hijack a lorry, brutally striking down the driver.

Back at the office, the pressure is on for officers to prove their worth to division. Thursday is put in a managerial role as two obviously smarmy bastards from Robbery arrive to assist with the lorry investigation: D.I. Ronnie Box and D.S. Patrick Dawson.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Endeavour Series 5 - Cartouche - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: Muse

The characters have settled in for series 5 with a slower, less edgy second episode. The story begins in a classic theater showing old mummy thrillers featuring Emil Vandemar, the fictional third star in a trifecta of horror masters (together with Karloff and Lugosi). Vandemar is preparing to show his new film, The Pharoah's Curse, also starring Jason Curwin, Veronique Carlton, and directed by Zoltan Xarkoff.

The next day, theatergoer Ronald Beavis is found dead in his bed in Jericho. He died due to strychnine poisoning from an orange squash. Beavis was a former sergeant for the Oxford City Police, but he'd recently been working in a museum of antiquities. His Egyptian co-worker, Dr. Moharram Shoukry, spends most of the episode bitter about culture appropriated from his home country, be it artifacts or cheesy movies. (My impression is that he's a bit of a stereotype - the mystical foreigner who asks questions about "the after life" and says self-importantly that he "speaks for the dead.")

Monday, February 5, 2018

Endeavour Series 5 - Muse - Episode Review

My review of last season's finale: Harvest.

Things are changing for the Oxford Constabulary - for one thing, it's looking at a name change. Morse and Robbie Lewis's Thames Valley Police is on the way in and it's uncertain who will make the cut. Older coppers like Bright and Thursday fret about retirement; Morse worries he'll be reassigned elsewhere. Meanwhile, in come the young crowd. Sociable young constable George Fancy is Morse's new protege, a sort of proto-Lewis with an eye for the ladies. In fact, Fancy chats up the first lady he meets, Trewlove, which immediately made me guess where the episode's themes were going.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Vera Series 8 - Darkwater - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: Home.

A striking location is the star of the show as authorities recover the body of a teenager from a pristine reservoir. His name was Ethan Dewley, a bullied youth whose parents, Sean and Ellie, had just split up. His mother lived in the city. Marcus suspects that, due to head injuries, Ethan's death wasn't accidental.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Vera Series 8 - Home - Review

 My review of the previous episode: Black Ice

Elliot discovers his mum's body in the backyard. There'd been trouble the night before. A panning shot showed a series of domestic scenes glimpsed through windows, the final one of Elliot's mother and sister screaming at each other, before the sister, Molly, storms out.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Inspector George Gently - Series 8 - Gently and the New Age

My review of the previous episode: Gently Liberated.

[Spoilers ahead]

As a mystery, Inspector George Gently is hard to assign a genre. It's more violent than cozies like Foyle's War, but hasn't abandoned its whodunnit roots for the high-octane pulp of Luther. Its violence is anchored by the moral code of its protagonist. Noir? Gritty mystery? In any case, both its morality and its darkness come together for one last showdown in Gently and the New Age.  

It's a nice thing to see a show go out on top. Many drag it out, watering down the substance till they've become a self-parody. Inspector George Gently doesn't do that, giving us a final episode true to the integrity of the series and the character, though probably not the story we expected. It might not be the best episode the show has ever produced, but it's a strong ending and that's quite an achievement for a show that's been running for over a decade.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Vera Series 8 - Black Ice - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: Blood and Bone.

Faye Wakeland is driving along when another car slams into her back bumper, forcing her off the road. She's found the next day by some passing equestrians, clinging to life. Her unborn child died.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Vera Series 8 - Blood and Bone - Episode Review

My review of the previous season finale: The Blanket Mire.

Vera series 8 starts off with a rather lukewarm installment, at least compared to the shot across the bow that was the premiere to series 6. Oh wait, this is series 8? I remember nothing about the entire last season. This isn't starting well.

In an opening that had me sneak-googling the word abattoir, a body is discovered in the furnace of a slaughterhouse. A fortunate power outage meant that the body - a gruesome sight - was found before it had disintegrated completely. It's soon identified as D.C. Harry Fenton, a local copper on the verge of retirement.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Inspector George Gently - Series 8 - Gently Liberated

My review of the previous episode, Son of a Gun.

I haven't watched any George Gently in a long time. As reentry episodes go, this is a good one, if just because it has everything that has defined the show for the last ten years. There's George - stolid, reliable, a lion for justice. Bacchus - smarmy, unreliable, a jackal who wants to be a lion. There's corruption in high places and '60s fashion and mistreatment of minorities. We've seen all of this before, but the knowledge that this is the show's final season gives it an edge that lifts it above a somewhat basic plot.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Upcoming Detective Shows in 2018 - Vera, Endeavour, Luther...

Coming soon (Vera, Endeavour):

It's been a while, but I've finally found the time to write up another of these updates. I've managed to miss a few series (Brokenwood 4 has come and gone, and Father Brown 6 is airing now), so the list is a bit more spare than usual, but here goes.