Michael Smiley

Luther S4

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Contains spoilers

luther-coverCan one really call a two-part special a ‘season’ these days? Apparently you can, although to be honest on this evidence I’m still far from convinced. Nor am I at all sure that the quick-hit brevity works for a show like Luther.

Despite coming very late to the Luther party, I was a big fan of the first season which consisted of a fully-formed six episodes. To be honest I did feel that the show lost its way somewhat over the ensuing two shorter four-part seasons that followed, but it nonetheless remained eminently watchable not least thanks to the towering performance of Idris Elba in the title role which was nicely counterpointed by the deadpan level-headedness of his likeable loyal sidekick DC Ripley (Warren Brown). Read the rest of this entry »

Doctor Who S8 E2 “Into the Dalek” (BBC One)

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Contains some spoilers for the aired episode

Regeneration stories are always atypical Doctor Who outings, so it’s not really until the second or third episode of a run that the audience really starts to get a proper sense of how a new Doctor is going to play the role and what the shape of the series around him is going to be. Last week’s “Deep Breath” was a nice feature-length treat, but this week’s “Into the Dalek” is where series 8 really starts to take shape.

In which case, I’m more than delighted with the way things are going. This episode delivered pretty much everything that I had on my pre-season ‘wish list’ for the show, being a fast-paced action-orientated thriller with real characters, peril and jeopardy for everyone involved. Jenna Coleman continued to get some strong material as Clara, and Peter Capaldi’s journey into the darkness of the Doctor’s psyche continued with compelling and at times genuinely surprising results.

What really struck me was the first pre-titles scene, when young rebel soldier Journey Blue (an excellent performance from Zawe Ashton) is saved from her exploding spaceship and finds herself in the Tardis console room with the Doctor. This is no longer the regeneration-scrambled version of the character but the Time Lord completely in control of himself and the situation, and Capaldi is riveting as he shows how he intends to play the part going forward. He’s calm and still but utterly remorseless as he breaks down Journey’s defensive antagonism, and you can’t take your eyes off him. Second episode in to his tenure in the part and already Capaldi owns it; not since Tom Baker has an actor so quickly settled into the role (David Tennant came close, but it still took until “School Reunion” before he really nailed it; Matt Smith, brilliant through he was later on, look the better part of a season to settle in and arrange the furniture as he wanted it; and for me at least Christopher Eccleston never quite managed to iron out the rough edges before he moved on.) Read the rest of this entry »