Tag Archives: Neil Cross

Doctor Who (7.9): “The paradoxes resolve themselves, by and large”

It’s difficult to believe that Hide was written by the same hand as The Rings of Akhaten. I have to say I loved almost everything about it. The spookiness, the misunderstandings, Dougray Scott, the TARDIS being ‘a cow’, how everything (except the psychic crown thing) looked stunning. Shall I stop gushing and go back to the beginning?
(Spoilers, obviously, from here on in)
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Doctor Who (7.7): New socks for Mr Smith please

ImageOne of my favourite things about the return of Doctor Who to our screens is that, no matter whether the story satisfies or disappoints, I get to spend time watching Matt Smith act his socks off.

I may even start giving episodes sock-ratings, in which case The Rings of Akhaten would be a three-pair show. The pre-show titles alone were heart-breaking, even before we reached that gravestone. (And while I now understand Clara’s line about the leaf, and it’s Meaning, I stand by my opinion that it was a ‘darling’ that should have been killed.)

Anyway, this is Clara’s first official outing I guess, and having asked to go somewhere ‘awesome’, the Doctor takes her to see the Rings of Akhaten and a festival in which choristers sing a perpetual lullaby to keep their Old God asleep.

The prop, costume and prosthetic cupboards have been well and truly raided to give a real Cantina feel to the alien streets that the Doctor and Clara find themselves on. Having watched it twice, I still can’t decide how I feel about Doreen – though it’s not the first time the Tardis has been unable to translate an alien language for the companion (the Hath, in The Doctor’s Daughter, spring to mind).

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Luther: Baltimore’s finest drug dealer crosses the pond

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this, but not without reservation. A few things were disconcerting. I know that the beautiful Idris Elba, who plays DCI John Luther, is British born, but I haven’t heard him speak in anything but The Wire, so however unfairly, an Estuary accent seemed to fit awkwardly, like someone in the wrong shoes. But this is the accent equivalent of jet lag – you get over it. I remember being similarly unnerved when I first heard David Tennant’s real Scottish accent.

I loved the cool opening credits, and the way, like Spooks [also written by Neil Cross], it uses the backdrop of London really well. Although, like Spooks, the settings are perhaps a little too elegant and beautiful. What made The Wire so compelling was the reverse approach- police officers trying to manage in grotty surroundings with barely a functioning manual type-writer between them.

Luther has a skilled and impressive cast, including Saskia Reeves as Luther’s boss, Steven Mackintosh as his friend and colleague, and Paul McGann as Luther’s wife’s new squeeze. I think that’s my other reservation actually. Possibly too many big-hitters that you know from other productions, which is distracting, but may settle down when everyone has bedded in a bit.

I know Elba, for example, has been in other things since The Wire, but his embodiment of the role of the complex, oh-so-bad but effortlessly cool and charismatic, Stringer Bell is so seared on my brain, it is tough to see past it.

So how about the show? It was pretty darn good. I particularly enjoyed Ruth Wilson’s portrayal of Alice, the child prodigy turned psycho murderer, who goes head-to-head in a tense and enjoyable sexual/psychological tussle with Luther.

The idea of a smart but troubled, maverick, morally ambiguous, psychologically-minded detective is not new of course. After Luther had solved the case by realising that the missing murder weapon had been stuffed inside the dead (cremated) family dog, Mr Inkface, watching with me, said “It’s Cracker”, and he’s right, but I’m not sure I mind that too much.

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