What Have I Enjoyed Watching in 2015?

This year has been a really busy one — hence the paucity of posts from TVClaw Towers. Apologies to anyone who’s missed me.

last kingdom
The Last Kingdom | Episode Two © Carnival Film & Television Ltd Photographer: Joss Barratt Alexander Dreymon (as Uhtred)

What have I enjoyed watching in the rare moments when I haven’t been working? Here’s what. And if you haven’t seen the good stuff yet, then pull up a comfy chair and get ready to watch some really, really excellent TV shows.

In no particular order, here’s what’s grabbed my attention in 2015:

Ripper Street: the perfect ending to the whole H Division saga. The very end even had a cheery little nod to Spooks. *Sob*

Game of Thrones: gory, sad, frightening. Utterly compelling.

Fortitude: clever plot twists and a knock-out cast. Some completely bonkers moments. Can’t wait for Season 2.

Penny Dreadful: utterly bananas, but Timothy Dalton + stunning production design = a must-watch in the first half of the year.

No Offence: Joanna Scanlon is terrific as potty-mouthed DI Vivienne Deering. Rocking the heels-and-leather combo she turned in one of the most memorable performances of the year. Brilliant scripts from the “Shameless” team.

Pointless: best host banter. Ever.

The Last Kingdom:  in the mood for some Anglo-Saxon Chronicles action but fed up with Vikings‘ insanely violent torture porn? Watch this instead. Clever and well-written, with a winning lead in Alexander Dreymon. A breakout role for superb Ripper Street alum David Dawson.

Man Down: still funny, but I found myself pining for Rik throughout.

Les Revenants: t’inquiete pas — it’s still brilliant.

Yonderland: talc my downstairs! The hilarious Season 2 paid homage to Star Wars and Sherlock among other things and was chock full o’ family-friendly nudges, winks and smutty asides.

30 Degrees in January: have to admit, I loved the first half but found the second half heavy-going. Too many annoying, poor decisions.

University Challenge: obviously I have no idea what Paxo’s asking most of the time, but it’s an oldie that remains a goodie. (Cough, looking at you Doctor Who, cough…)

Last Man on Earth: if I was the last man on earth I would so steal all the great art from every museum and poo in the neighbour’s pool. This makes me laugh out loud every episode. Boris Kodjoe steals every scene he’s in.

River: unbeatable combo of Nicola Walker and Stellan Skarsgard aided and abetted by most of the ex-cast from last season’s Game of Thrones and a Sixth Sense-y vibe. Is River totally batshit crazy, or is he the ghost whisperer?

Great British Bake Off: ’nuff said.

 

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Jenna Coleman is Leaving Doctor Who

claraIt’s official — Clara Oswald has left the building

The BBC has confirmed that Jenna Coleman is leaving Doctor Who during Series 9, which kicks off tomorrow, Saturday 19 September. And Jenna told Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw, “I’ve filmed my last scene.”

Her exit details haven’t officially been released so the rumour mill’s gone into overdrive. The Mirror reports that Jenna will be gone before the Christmas Special.

ITV has confirmed that Jenna has jumped ship to play the Queen Vic in their major new drama series, Victoria. The ambitious eight-parter comes from the production team behind Poldark and Endeavour, and it marks novelist Daisy Goodwin’s screenwriting debut.

Jenna Coleman made her Doctor Who debut back in 2012 as Oswin “Eggs, Stir” Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks. She’s since been in all of Peter Capaldi’s episodes to date and after filming for the last series finished he said, “Jenna has been absolutely brilliant. I think she’s wonderful in the show, and she’s my favourite companion.”

Doctor Who 8: The Cybermen Are Back!

Peter Capaldi takes on the Cybermen in Doctor Who Series/Season 8

BBC Pictures
BBC Pictures

Panic not, shoppers of Cardiff: you’re not being invaded by cyborgs from another planet. Just a lot of Scots people and a camera crew. As this excellent photo gallery from Wales Online shows, Series/Season 8 of Doctor Who will see the new Doctor  surrounded by his ancient foes, the Cybermen.

Although the Doctor’s companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) is reportedly absent, the Doctor does have the assistance of plucky U.N.I.T. boffin Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) and the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere (Green Wing and Bad Education star Michelle Gomez, pictured).

The Cybermen first had children leaping behind the sofa in 1966 and have been through several changes of image and voice since then. Modern Cybermen are considerably bigger, buffer and more intimidating than their somewhat squishy progenitors. Sadly, due to the untimely demise of Head Cyborg Roger Lloyd-Pack these Cybermen will doubtless be in search of a new voice, but there’s been no word yet on who will provide it.

Check out the BBC’s new oh-so-short teaser trailer for Doctor Who Series/Season 8 below. Excited much?

@TVClaw

 

 

Professor Brian Cox Explores The Science of Doctor Who: Trailer

“I’ve just seen it. It’s great.” — “But I haven’t given it yet.”

The Doctor Who 50th anniversary festivities continue apace ahead of “The Day of the Doctor” and Peter Capaldi’s debut as The Doctor.

Physicist Professor Brian Cox is the latest famous face to enter the TARDIS. Check out this trailer for his one-off BBC2 lecture exploring the science of Doctor Who.

Enjoy!

The Science of Doctor Who airs on BBC2 on 14 November at 9pm

Doctor Who: 50 Years Trailer

The clock is counting down to the Peter Capaldi era so here’s a look back at 50 years of Doctor Who courtesy of the BBC. Enjoy!

And who do you think is worthy of being named Ultimate Doctor Who Villain?

Nominees:

Cybermen

Daleks

The Silence

The Master

Silurians

Ood

Judoon

Ice Warriors

Weeping Angels

Clockwork Droids

Cast your vote here.

Doctor Who? BBC Reveals New Time Lord On Sunday

Catherine Lawson
Catherine Lawson

“The decision is made and the time has come to reveal who’s taking over the TARDIS. For the last of the Time Lords, the clock is striking twelve.”

Thus did Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat announce that the new Doctor will be unveiled to the world live on-air, Sunday 4 August.

It will be simulcast on BBC One in the UK, BBC America in the US and ABC in Australia.

According to a BBC press release, “The half-hour show will include live special guests, Doctors old and new, as well as companions and celebrity fans.”

By the end of the half hour white smoke will be billowing from the chimney of New Broadcasting House and Moffat will step out onto the balcony to declare, “HABEMUS MEDICUS!”

So, the all-important question is, who will play the Twelfth Doctor? Peter Capaldi may be the bookies’ favourite, but I’m not buying it.

Right now, in the absence of any hard evidence whatsoever, I’m going to speculate wildly and say: Tom Ellis.

No, the Miranda star didn’t make it onto the TVClaw Casting Wishlist, but his spooky drama pilot Gothica was passed over by ABC at the May upfronts and he seems to have cleared his other television commitments lately (something ex-EastEnders moppet Sean Maguire is rather grateful for).

Why Tom Ellis? He’s known (but not too well-known) to US audiences from his guest spots on Once Upon A Time, and his stint in short-lived BBC supernatural drama The Fades showed that he’s adept at playing roles other than eye candy. Diving into US pilot territory showed that he’s ambitious and keen to move out of Miranda‘s shadow. Plus, he’s Welsh so will obviously love filming back in Cardiff!

If not Ellis, then I’ll hedge my bets, go with the bookies’ picks and predict it will be one of: Daniel Rigby, Ben Daniels or Andrew Scott.

Am I right? Add your picks in Comments.

Stay tuned for updates!

Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor will air on BBC One, BBC America, ABC (Australia) on Sunday 4 August, 7pm BST

Check out the teaser trailer here.

@TVClaw

The Best Television Soundtracks

wallpaperswide.com
wallpaperswide.com

What makes a television series great? Script, performances, directing, production values, of course. But don’t forget music. No series is great unless it’s also got great music.

From Tony Soprano crossing from Jersey to Manhattan with the Alabama 3, through the Grange Hill fork spearing a banger, to the Wooo WOOOOOO! Woo Woo Woo Woo Woooooo… (I paraphrase) of Star Trek, the theme song and opening credits can make or break a series.

But it’s not all just about the opening credits. The shows need great music throughout.

Here is the TVClaw Top 5 of television soundtracks. And I’m talking original scores, not soundtracks artfully (and expensively) cobbled together from the producers’ and writers’ favourite albums. It’s an entirely subjective list, and there may be some glaring omissions, so add your picks in Comments.

The TVClaw Top 5 Best Original Television Soundtracks

1) Battlestar Galactica (2003): Bear McCreary. BSG remains one of the best television dramas ever, and much of the credit lies with McCreary’s fantastic score (a.k.a. “the sound of poundy drums”) . The original Battlestar Galactica also had its own memorable score, which was nominated for a Grammy in 1979. It lost out to John Williams and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and hey, there’s no shame in that.

2) Star Trek (1966): It’s all about that theme song by Alexander Courage plus incidental music from Courage, George Duning, Gerald Fried, Sol Kaplan and Fred Steiner. Instantly memorable.

3) Doctor Who (1963, 2005): Ron Grainer, Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop provided the original theme song, which still survives in the opening credits despite several recent attempts to mess with it. Now that the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is but a distant memory, composers Murray Gold and Ben Foster continue to create music for time travelling.

4) The Returned/Les Revenants (2012): Mogwai. It’s new and recent and it’s just great. Who knew xylophones could be the stuff of nightmares? Mogwai’s understated score makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

5) Band of Brothers (2001): Michael Kamen. This landmark HBO miniseries was Kamen’s untimely swansong and he scored a vast amount of classical movements for it. A stunning body of work.

@TVClaw