Review-The year of Martha Jones

The Master has won. He has stolen humanity’s future and imprisoned his nemesis, ruling the Earth with an army of deadly Toclafane.
But Martha Jones escaped, and now walks the Earth, telling stories of the Doctor. Above all else, humanity needs hope. And Martha will carry that hope across the world.

Something we never saw on Doctor Who is a big component of Martha Jones’ companion narrative.
During a time of death, destruction, and turmoil, she spent a full year on her own.
In the shows third series (Nu-Who), the Master and his army of Toclafane took over Earth and rendered our favourite Gallifreyan hero unconscious and looking like a cross between Yoda and Dobby.

Martha was entrusted with a monumental responsibility by the Doctor.
We know she succeeded because she is the best companion the modern series has had, but we didn’t see how she did it.

The Year of Martha Jones is a unique blend of great storytelling, humour and action. Much like The Doctor, Martha has become a mythological and contentious figure. People across the world murmur her name.
Some see her as a ray of hope. Others think she’s overrated, and her stories are nothing more than fairytales in the middle of constant conflict. They are perplexed by Martha’s genuine objectives and wonder if she has a plan to assassinate the Master.

At her core, Martha is just a human being trying her best to maintain emotional and mental stability in the face of an overwhelming challenge. She’s witnessed horrific tragedies and struggles with loneliness and paranoia all the time, unsure of whom she can trust in the world.

Her hope is still in the Doctor, and she always emphasises his great characteristics in her stories, but reality weighs heavily on her heart.
She is the only one in this unexpected and tough scenario.

The audio quickly finds its footing, thanks to a combination of great writing and performances from all involved.
Freema Agyeman and Adjoa Andoh, who plays Francine Jones, have great and natural chemistry together, it’s revealed in the extras that even Freema’s real-life mum, thinks of Adjoa as her second-mother. Freema calls her “Mamma Adj”.

We also meet a number of new interesting characters, such as Ewart James Walters as Tucker and Serin Ibrahim as Holly, an old college friend, who has a shaky relationship with Martha.

The Year of Martha Jones is a fascinating insight into human resilience, there are no bombastic over the top moments like you’d expect from the David Tennant era. Instead, this is a quiet and reflective story, that focuses on the little victories Martha is able to win on her journey. Scott Handcock’s direction is flawless and is beautifully accompanied by Howard Carter’s music and sound design.

It’s also easily Freema Ageyman’s best performance as the character. Over the years she has grown and evolved as an actress. I really hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Miss Jones.

The Year of Martha Jones is available to buy from Big finish.




Review-Venom: Let there be Carnage

The Venom franchise is a very strange beast and probably the oddest franchise in Sony’s Marvel Cinematic Universe-or whatever they’re calling it this week. The character was first seen in live-action, way back in 2007’s terrible Spider-man 3. Talks of a Venom spin-off followed the film, but nothing came of it until 2018.

The original Venom film was a letdown, a jumbled mess with an identity crisis. It wasn’t sure if it was a buddy-comedy or a body horror. It didn’t help matters that it was released in the same year as one of Hollywood’s most popular superhero movies, Avengers: Infinity War. Compared to that, Venom felt like a throwback to a superhero movie from 2003.

Venom: Let there be Carnage, however is heads and shoulders above the first film. The tone is set immediately and they stick with it. The crude humour is still present, but it somehow works this time around. At just 90 minutes, it’s a lean film that breezes by. Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Eddie Brock and the CGI Venom, gets the movie through some really tough spots.

Woody Harrelson, like Hardy, wholeheartedly embraces the film’s unique, frequently ridiculous tone and thoroughly enjoys his role as the antagonist. He’s practically chewing the scenery.
The duo makes it easier to overlook some of the obvious storey gaps and jumpy editing because they work so well together.

Whilst I enjoyed the pace of the film, the shorter runtime does do a huge disservice to Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), Francis Barrison (Naomie Harris), Stephen Graham and Patrick Mulligan, the films secondary characters. Fans of the comics may feel a bit letdown, by how little they feature. They all have intriguing potential roles, but they don’t get much in the way of development beyond a few rushed plot beats and end up being the story’s weakest link.

When the two alien symbiotes ultimately battle it out in the third act, it’s a satisfying conclusion.
The CGI is noticeably better than in the first film, probably due to director Andy Serkis’ previous experience.
The action is simple to follow and looks fantastic. There’s even a great cameo by Reece Shearsmith, which leads to the funniest line in the film.

While the film passes the fundamental prerequisites for a comic-book movie, enjoyment. It is the post-credit scene that elevates the film and the character of Venom to new heights. It not only broadens the realm of where he and Eddie Brock may appear next, but it also elevates the potential sequel to new heights.

Venom: Let there be carnage, is available to rent from all VOD services in the UK.

Review-Torchwood: The Red List

The pandemic may have stalled plans for the official seventh series of Torchwood, but producers James Goss and Scott Handcock haven’t just rested on their laurels this year, like the rest of us. In the past 12 months, they’ve given us Torchwood tales about mould, coffee shops and Sontarans. We’ve also seen the return of Yvonne Hartman, Zachary Cross, Billis Manger and, Adam Smith. I’ve barely managed to take the bins out and these guys have continued giving us the best version of Torchwood on any medium.

This month’s release teams up Mr Colchester with a modern-day version of Ace AKA Dorothy McShane, for an adventure set in South America. The duo is both independently there to investigate a revolution but are stuck in a hotel under quarantine.

Mr Colchester, who is played as brilliantly as ever by Paul Clayton, begins the storey with a monologue.
This works as a great way to convey information to the audience, without feeling unrealistic or forced. I think we’ve all probably spoken to ourselves this year. Clayton is clearly having a great time, reprising his role as fan-favourite Colchester and it’s great to hear Sophie Aldred play an older version of Ace, it just goes to show how much work she puts into her performance as a younger version of the character on the main range. As the two versions are so clearly different.

The two leads have great chemistry and play on the mundanity that comes with a lockdown.
They’re supported in this adventure, by Xavier, a hotel technician played by Manuel Pacific. Xavier is there to receive the brunt of Colchester’s complaints and Pacific does a tremendous job, with such a small role.

Scott Handcock, as always, is a fantastic director who is able to get real genuine and believable performances from the three cast members. Steve Foxon’s sound design is flawless and perfectly encapsulates the Latin ambience and compliments Blair Mowat’s music incredibly well.

It’s difficult to review this audio fully, as it’s impossible to do so without spoiling. So I will say, it’s a lot of fun and features the best-written characters from both Torchwood and Doctor Who. It ends on a cliffhanger and I for one, hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Colchester and Ace.

Torchwood: The Red List is available to purchase from the Big Finish site and goes on general release on the 31st January 2022.


Episode 273: Last night in Soho/ Ghostbusters: Afterlife

It’s an original recipe special this week, as Martyn and Gerrod sit down to give spoiler-free reviews on Last night in Soho and, Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to Spotify, Amazon Music, PodchaserPlayer FM, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

We also have a Smartlink.

Artwork by Penny Smallshire.

We sound familiar can be found here.

More than just an impression can be found here.

Comedians talking about football can be found here.

Sam’s YouTube channel can be found here.

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Review-It takes blood and guts

I’m a child of the Britpop era, I remember the summer of Oasis V Blur and all the bands that defined that generation. I was also a huge fan of Skunkanase, in this memoir. The pioneering frontwoman offers a very different take on generation X.

The melodic, passionate rock of Skunk Anansie’s first three albums sold 5 million copies worldwide. Even Rod Stewart covered Weak, on his 1998 album ‘when we were the new boys’.
When Stormzy tweeted that he was the first black British artist to headline Glastonbury, Skin rightfully corrected him. Skunk Anansie had done so in 1999, she also praised Maxim and Leeroy from the Prodigy, who were the headliners in 1997.

It’s safe to say that Deborah Anne Dyer AKA Skin has lived a life, and she accomplishes so much more with her book than simply providing a self-indulgent biography.
She’s analytical, critical, and mindful of her surroundings, as well as being acutely aware of the doors she’s opened for other young black British kids.

The harsh realities of being an openly bi-sexual black woman fronting a hard rock/alt-metal band were not avoided by Skin. She doesn’t shy away from the racism and sexism she’s faced in this capacity. Especially from some US record execs, that just couldn’t wrap their tiny little minds around a black alt-metal band. She also talks about how, with the support of her bandmates, allies, an amazing manager, and high-powered mates, she was able to shatter any misconceptions.

The real joy of this book is the peek behind the curtain we get to this era. Skin praises her friendship with Robbie Williams, who once angrily confronted Russian bouncers who wouldn’t let her in a club. As well as how a visit to her school, by Dame Judi Dench helped Skin find her inner voice.

The book isn’t a perfect read, it’s co-written by Lucy O’Brien, the constant switch between voices is notable. I would have rather had one voice, or maybe a transcript of a conversation between O’Brien and Skin, something akin to watch Benjamin Cook and Russell T Davies did with a writers tale, would have really suited this book.

All-in-all, this is an interesting tell-all about a generation and those who defined it.

It takes blood and guts is released in paperback on, 16th of September, 2021.


Review-Freaky

It’s weird that as I type this, I realise there has never been a terrible body swap film. There have been some that are better than others, sure. But even the ones that fall a little flat are entertaining. This is in the latter camp.
Directed by Christopher Landon (“Happy Death Day”) ‘Freaky’ is a low-budget high-concept supernatural slasher, that tells the tale of Seventeen-year-old Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) who spends her days trying to survive high school and the cruel actions of the popular crowd. She’s “Hollywood ugly”. But when she becomes the latest target of the Butcher, the town’s infamous serial killer, her senior year becomes the least of her worries. When the Butcher’s mystical dagger causes him and Millie to magically switch bodies, the frightened teen learns she has just 24 hours to get her identity back before she looks like a middle-aged maniac forever.

Written by Michael Kennedy, the script is incredibly formulaic. Kennedy pays so much homage to the predecessors, that it often falls into the trappings that bogged those down.

There is some laugh out loud moments of comedy, watching Vaughn swivel his hips like a cheerleader, whilst flirting with Millie’s crush (Uriah Shelton), is funny. For about 15 minutes. Whilst the entire cast bring energy to these roles, they can’t stop the premise from running out of steam.

The main problem is that Millie is so ill-defined as a character. She’s the school mascot, so she’s a loser. But she still looks like Kathryn Newton. At one point, a sneering football player calls her a “but-her-face” implying she’s ugly. Her friends are also written to be just as paper-thin, there’s the black one and the gay one. “You’re black and I’m gay! We are so dead!” Josh (Misha Osherovich) shouts at one point. That’s about all the character they’re given.

I guess it could be argued that Kennedy was in fact writing a pastiche of tired old Hollywood cliche’s, that by making the characters so paper-thin, they would come full circle and actually be the most well-defined characters in cinematic history. But, I doubt it.

Freaky is released in UK cinemas July 2nd.

Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell: Doctor Who-Big Finish review

Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell is the second in a trilogy of specials, that sees David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor on a farewell tour before he regenerates. In the first audio, he bumped into Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. This time around, he’s paired up Peter Davison’s Fifth.

The story kicks off with The Fifth Doctor in Paris in 1809, he’s travelling sans-companion and decides to take a tour of the catacombs. It’s here that he bumps into a Time Agent Tina Drake (Shelley Conn), who for a very brief moment. I thought was Peri. Was that just me? Anyway, Tina is on the trail of a temporal paradox. Whilst in the catacombs, the duo trigger a trap, that sees the Doctor frozen in time.
In 1944, the Tenth Doctor is evading Nazis, in occupied Paris. Looking for a hiding spot, he finds himself in the catacombs, where he encounters his former self. When they return to the surface, they find Paris is overrun with Cybermen.

I was a huge fan of Out of Time and I think it’s safe to say, that this was my most anticipated release of the year. Not only are we getting a multi-Doctor story, but we’re also getting a Time Crash reunion and we’re getting an outstanding script from David Llewellyn.

The story is structured brilliantly and moves along at a swift pace. Whilst Llewellyn’s love for the Fifth Doctor shines through, this feels very much like a David Tennant era adventure. Ken Bently’s direction is smooth and matches the pacing beat for beat. Whist Howard Carter’s music and sound design help elevate the adventure even more.

The two leads have natural chemistry and bounce off each other well, there’s a lot of fun interplay between them.
I had a smile on my face the whole way through this, Lewellyn’s script is peppered with humour, call-backs and historical facts. This is quintessential Doctor Who.

Doctor Who: Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell is available on CD and download from Big Finish.

Review-Doctor Who – The Ninth Doctor Adventures Vol 1: Ravagers

Let’s be honest. None of us saw this coming. This time last year, we’d have thought the announcement was a cruel joke. It seemed so unlikely. But Sixteen years after his thirteen episode run reignited the Doctor Who franchise and brought it into the consciousness of a new generation. Christopher Eccleston is back and it’s about time.

The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Ravagers, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, is the first in a four-volume set of audio adventures.

I’ll admit, that I’ve struggled with this review. On one hand, Ravagers is an impressively ambitious set. Eccleston’s return is arguably the biggest coup Big Finish has achieved since Tom Baker returned in 2012. Billie Piper once said that when she was last in Doctor Who, she spent 3 hours looking in a mirror unable to find Rose. Eccleston doesn’t have that problem, he slips right back into character. It’s an utter joy to hear him back in the role that made me a Doctor Who fan. It’s like he’s never been away. The supporting cast is all outstanding, especially Camilla Beeput and Jayne McKenna as Nova and Audrey. Dan Starky puts in a fun performance as Marcus Aurelius Gallius. The music and sound design are flawless and match the pace of Briggs’ excellent direction. His love, passion and enthusiasm for this era of Doctor Who absolutely shines through. However, the biggest flaw is the plot. It’s a really decent 45-minute episode, stretched to 2hrs 30mins. On the bonus disc, Briggs talks about how he entered “several blind alleys” whilst trying to write this. What we end up with, is an amalgamation of various stories he couldn’t get off the ground and I think it shows.

We join the Ninth Doctor in the middle of an adventure and we work backwards, which I think is a risky move. Big Finish excels at non-linear storytelling, they do it a lot. But for many people, this would have been their gateway to the world of Doctor Who on audio. I consume a lot of Big Finish, (at least two full box sets a day) and even I, at times, struggled to keep up with the convoluted non-linear narrative. I found myself constantly rewinding a minute or two, just to see if I had missed something. At one point, I even thought I had started the wrong episode.

Overall, Ravagers is a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoyed the set, but I’d have prefered if they had gone with three individual stories. I’m excited for the future of this range.


Episode 254: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Martyn and Gerrod discuss all the latest in geekdom news, then they’re joined by friend of the podcast, Antoni Pearce to discuss the recent release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

00:00: Start of show

00:08: Intro and catch up

01:35: RIP Jessica Walter

02:09: New Transformers movie on the way

02:57: Steven Moffat’s new Netflix show

05:07: Big Finish released Ninth Doctor trailer

07:45: The Suicide Squad trailer

08:40: Warner Bros cinema first deal

09:37: Zack Snyder’s plans for Justice League 2+3

10:30: Ron Livingstone cast in The Flash film

11:00: Helen Mirren cast in Shazam 2. Pierce Brosnan cast as Dr Fate for Black Adam

13:02: Black Widow and Cruella going to Disney+ premium

14:03: Scott Pilgrim getting a re-release

14:45 John Wick 4+5 will no longer shoot back-to-back

15:17: Brzkr comic being turned into film and Netflix anime

16:08: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

41:20: End of show

The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to Spotify, Amazon Music, PodchaserPlayer FM, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

We also have a Smartlink.

Equipment used in the creation of this feature was purchased through a grant from Graeae and The Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

If you’d like to support the show, then please shop via our Amazon link. A small percentage goes our way, at no extra cost to you. We also have a Ko-Fi.

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Review-Greenland

If you’re in the mood for a distraction from COVID-19, or 2021. Then perhaps a world-ending disaster movie is just what you need.
I’ll admit, I laughed when I first saw the trailer. I remember the day well. I’d gone to see Tenet with my fiancée, and my best friend. This trailer came on and the three of us erupted with laughter. It looked awful. It looked like a paint-by-numbers, generic Gerard Butler disaster movie. This is a disaster movie, but one that may surprise you. It certainly surprised me, now. It’s not a great film. But it is far better than the trailers made it look.

John Garrity (Gerard Butler) is a Scottish structural engineer living in Atlanta, Georgia with his estranged wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their diabetic son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). He returns home from work to reconcile with his family and prepare to host a party with their neighbours to watch the passing of a recently-discovered interstellar comet, named Clarke.
Whilst on a trip to the supermarket, he receives a Presidential alert inviting him and his family to be evacuated to Greenland. He returns home, gets his family and they head to the airbase. However, on arrival, they discover Nathan’s diabetes excludes him from being allowed on the plane. After some confusion, the family get separated and we follow them each, as they head to Allison’s father’s house. Then try to make their own way to Greenland.

The story ditches the normal end of the world cliches and instead, plays around with themes of human survival. This slightly different take can make for some immersive and uncomfortable viewing. The family encounter people who are terrible, people who are opportunistic and, people who will go above and beyond to help. This leads to a very realistic feel to proceedings, which oddly reflect the very early stages of the Covid outbreak. You know, when you couldn’t buy toilet paper?

Morena Baccarin and Gerard Butler have some wonderful chemistry, they feel authentic as a troubled couple, doing what they need to save their son.

As I said earlier, the trailer is slightly misleading. Some might find this a slow burn. Perhaps the fact we’ve all just experienced a global crisis, which has shown the best and worst of humanity, made me project more onto this film than I would have otherwise. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found it to be a more nuanced take on the genre.

Greenland is available on Prime Video from 5th of February.