The Black Archive #29: The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon by John Toon (Obverse Books, 2019) A slim volume given the double episode. Toon touches on conspiracy theories (as a tonal setting) and the nomenclature of historical stories, while concentrating mainly on the moral ambiguity of the Doctor’s actions. Some easily digestible philosophical points are tabled for discussion.…
Zombieland: Double Tap dir. Ruben Fleischer (2019) Whereas the original Zombieland was a tightly plotted character story, Double Tap is an indulgent collection of comedy moments—as if it were filmed not from a screenplay but from a laundry list of funny bits that didn’t make the first cut.
Zombieland dir. Ruben Fleischer (2009) Zombieland strikes that hugely unusual balance between the serious and the comedic to produce—go figure—an enjoyable zombie apocalypse. The violence is graphic and over-the-top but Harrelson and Eisenberg play well off each other; plus there’s a cameo for the ages.
Doctor Who: The King’s Dragon by Una McCormack (BBC, 2010); audiobook read by Nicholas Briggs (AudioGO, 2011) Somewhat drawn-out, like an old four-parter told over six episodes. Nonetheless, McCormack tells a steady tale amidst the obligatory befriendings, betrayals and plot-twisting volte-faces. The support cast has some depth and the Doctor, Rory and Amy are spot-on. Nick Briggs reads well. …
Elemental: Shadows of Otherside by Whitney Hill (Benu Media, 2020) An elemental spirit posing as human and working as a private investigator must find her way in the devious, dangerous world of North-Carolinian elves, vampires and djinn. Nicely paced and characterised. Marries the best elements of urban fantasy and hardboiled detective fiction.
Reaper, Season 2 created by Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters (The CW, 2009) In its second season (and last before cancellation), Reaper sheds the underlying credibility necessary to carry its oddball humour. The storylines feature too little reaping and too much of Bert and Ben’s bromance and relationship issues. A dash more seriousness was required.
Doctor Who: The Creeping Death by Roy Gill (Big Finish, 2019) A fast-moving audio adventure very much in keeping (both in length and tone) with a television episode. Nothing extraordinary but it’s nice to have the Tenth Doctor and Donna together again. David Tennant and Catherine Tate slip effortlessly back into their roles.
Ice Age: Continental Drift dir. Steve Martino & Michael Thurmeier (2012) The Ice Age family continues to grow, affording each member no more than a rudimentary character arc. The latest storyline is equally superficial, yet packed with comedy moments. Continental Drift disappoints as a feature film; as a 90-minute cartoon, it succeeds brilliantly.
Doctor Who: The Emperor of Eternity by Nigel Robinson (Big Finish, 2010) Deborah Watling does her best to sell this paper-thin historical adventure but the character interactions are nonsensical, the writing is amateurish—more an expanded story outline than a fully realised drama—and the plot unravels like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Books 1-5 by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (Simon & Schuster, 2003-2004) audiobooks read by Mark Hamill (Random House Audio) A middle-grade series about magical creatures and sibling relationships. Each individual book is quite slight but when read together they build into something of a page-turner. The audiobook editions afford an appropriate outlet for Mark Hamill’s characteristic,…