Zawe Ashton

Oasis E1 “Pilot” (Amazon Prime), and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

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Last week I wrote about Sneaky Pete, an Amazon Prime original show that had gone through the ‘pilot season’ of being selected for a full ten-part series commission based on viewers’ comments and ratings. Another previously reviewed series, Bosch, also made it to series based on positive fan response compared with tepid critical reaction, and thank goodness it did.

This year, science fiction drama Oasis is one of five new pilots up for consideration. Set in a dystopian 2032, the story centres on Christian chaplain Peter Leigh who receives a request to travel to Oasis, Earth’s first off-world colony. Said to be located on the far side of the galaxy, the method of travel is not explained. When Peter arrives he finds that the person who asked for him to come – the colony’s founder, billionaire David Morgan – is missing, and no one knows why he wanted Peter there in the first place. Meanwhile the workforce is starting to experience hallucinations and an escalating number of serious and even fatal accidents that suggest the new world is rejecting their presence. Eventually Peter discovers a clue as to Morgan’s whereabouts and travels deep into the wilderness, where he makes a bewildering discovery in a cave… 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 »