Steve Thompson

Vienna Blood S1 (2019) [BBC Two]

Posted on Updated on

Vienna Blood is a three-part period crime drama that slipped into the BBC Two schedules last autumn while Taking The Short View was treating itself to an impromptu six-month nap. Not having heard of the original series of novels by Frank Tallis I didn’t have particularly high expectations, and the first 15 or 20 minutes led me to the snap conclusion that this was just another Sherlock wannabee – perhaps not surprising as the showrunner and lead writer is Steve Thompson, who worked on that show along with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and who also contributed a number of Doctor Who scripts during Moffat’s tenure on that show.

Something kept me watching through that first 90 minute episode, however, and I found myself being slowly won over. So much so that I made a point of watching the next two stories as well, and ultimately my only regret was that I hadn’t given the series my full attention from the start. I ended up buying the original novel, and resolved to give the series a proper second full chance on BBC’s iPlayer at some point in the future. And as luck would have it, the BBC has now handed me the perfect opportunity by selecting Vienna Blood for a rapid rerun to the screen, presumably as a stopgap to bolster its lockdown-hit schedules.

The series principally revolves around the character of Dr Max Liebermann (a stand out performance from Matthew Beard), a brilliant young medical student in 1900s Vienna who is a particular devotee of the controversial work of Sigmund Freud in the fields of psychoanalysis and neurology. While his views are frowned upon by the stuffy and staid hospital establishment, they make him an ideal pioneer in the field of forensic psychology and criminal profiling – and consequently an asset to the work of senior police detective Oskar Reinhardt (played by Jürgen Maurer, a familiar face on Austrian television) who is immersed in some particularly complex and baffling murder cases. Read the rest of this entry »

Doctor Who S8 E5 “Time Heist” (BBC One)

Posted on Updated on

Contains spoilers for the aired episode.

At last, an episode of Doctor Who series 8 that isn’t going to take a long, detailed treatise to review but can instead be covered succinctly and concisely in just a few paragraphs. That’s because “Time Heist”, the fifth outing for Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, foregoes the usual series arc connections and deep psychological insights and instead delivers purely and simply what it promises in the title: a rollicking bank heist adventure story, delivered with the appropriate timey-wimey layer of shenanigans to make the whole thing authentically Who.

duoFor reasons unknown even to himself, the Doctor and Clara (Jenna Coleman) have agreed to participate in a raid on the most secure bank in the universe along with two other individuals with unique talents, shapeshifter Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and tech-augmented hacker Psi (Broadchurch’s Jonathan Bailey). They’re pitted against the bank’s merciless director of security Miss Delphox (Line of Duty’s Keeley Hawes in deliciously icy villainess mode) who has at her disposal the services of The Teller, an alien telepath who can hunt down any guilty thoughts and then administer a quite shockingly gruesome punishment when called for. But the Doctor and his team themselves have help from someone who seems able to know exactly what tools to give them at any given moment in order to succeed… Read the rest of this entry »

Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (BBC1)

Posted on Updated on

Contains vague spoiler-y type things. Maybe.

Every year, I tell myself I’m not going to be dragged in to write a review of every single new episode of Doctor Who. Or at the very least, to keep them super-short. How much can there be to say week-in, week-out about a single show without looking like a complete geek, after all?

It turns out there’s invariably a lot to say (and as for looking like a complete geek – well, guilty as charged. I’ll live.) That’s because the show is so completely flexible that rarely are two episodes alike in style, tone and content, which is almost unique in an ongoing, non-anthology series. Two weeks ago we had a classic “alien monster loose in a ship,” last week it was as close to a “haunted house” story as it could get, and this week it was … Well. This week was certainly very different.

“Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” was more of a visceral roller-coaster experience than it was a coherent story. You held on for dear life at the start and then concentrated on not letting go and getting thrown off by what followed. And at the end if left you dazed, confused, excited and breathless like few other Doctor Who stories in the show’s entire 50-year history. Read the rest of this entry »