Tuesday, 13 April 2010


6x16 Black Hole
Well, that's certainly some... unusual science...

Mad Men
3x12 The Grown Ups
[Watch it again in HD on iPlayer.]


Survivors axe confirmed by BBC by Paul Millar
(from Digital Spy)
Cheerio Survivors! Though they clearly wanted a third run, they'd at least wrapped up most of the major plot threads. It's no surprise it's gone, really.
But bless Digital Spy for thinking the largely-criticised opinion of their often-criticised TV reviewer counts as "a roasting by critics".

Doctor Who's 10 best cliffhangers

For no reason other than I have, I've written a list of my favourite 10 cliffhangers from the 00s revival of Doctor Who -- yes, this makes the post's title slightly misleading... but also slightly catchier.

With Moffat's reign only just underway -- and no proper cliffhangers yet -- this is really "the best cliffhangers from the RTD years", but there you go. I was going to do the classic series too, but there are just too many to try to remember.

And so, in a loosely ranked order, here they are...

10) Bad Wolf
This is 10th because, really, technically, it's not a cliffhanger. Forget "Rose, I'm coming for you" or whatever -- very dramatic speech, yes; cliffhanger, not really -- the Next Time trailer does the real work here, getting us all excited in a way the 'cliffhanger' didn't. And the key is the closing dialogue: an extra-deep Dalek voice booms, "THEY SURVIVED THROUGH ME". Through who, through who? I can't even remember the details of the revelation, but the tease is immense and the speculation ran rampant.

9) Evolution of the Daleks
This one was thoroughly ruined in advance: it was all over the cover of that week's Radio Times. But if you play the game of pretending you don't know... holy crap, it's a Human Dalek! That's new!

8) Last of the Time Lords
"Something strange enters the TARDIS" became the staple for end-of-season Christmas-special teases -- though it just felt that way, because in fact they only did it twice (well, three if you count the first season's regeneration; and it was almost a fourth, but they (wisely) cut that scene from Journey's End). So Doomsday gets points for doing it first, and it certainly did it well... but Last of the Time Lords did it better. This wins out for how it does it: it's the Titanic! And it's broken through the side of the console room! Repetitious or not, that still earns maximum points for originality, thanks.

7) Silence in the Library
Donna's one of those help droid things! By nuWho standards this is gloriously understated -- no monsters surrounding our heroes, no twist-tastic reveal, no oh-no-it's-all-lost moment for the Doctor -- he's just running away, and mid-chase spots his friend's face glued to a computer, and we know what this means -- she's sucked inside and there's no hope for her. Well done Mr Moffat, much better than The Empty Child's "they've surrounded us" cookie-cutter closer.

6) The Sound of Drums
Whatever you think of the choice of music, or the ageing of the Doctor, this is a helluvan ending: the villain isn't about to win, as per usual in cliffhangers, he has won. Never-ending hordes of floating metallic spheres descend on the Earth, decimating it, and the Doctor can only stand by and watch, helpless, as the Master celebrates like a loon. How the hell are they gonna get out of this one?!

5) Army of Ghosts
Now, personally, on first viewing, I just thought "oh typical, it's the bloody Daleks again". But if you weren't expecting RTD to pull such a stunt, or if you think the Daleks are actually pretty cool and should be in every season, then I imagine this is pretty amazing. Indeed, if one switches off and believes the lies -- i.e. the Daleks were all wiped out at the end of Parting of the Ways and so we shall completely ignore the possibility they might ever return -- then this would be a shocking surprise.

4) Turn Left
It's less an actual cliffhanger more a hint that Something Big Is Coming, but the key to this is context. Bad Wolf was a huge part of nuWho's return -- fans spent the whole of the first season debating what it might mean and what it was all building to. Many were let down by the eventual revelation, but that doesn't detract from its significance. And then it kept cropping up, right until Bad Wolf Bay, appending a whole extra set of heightened emotion onto those words. So they mean a lot to fans, and they also mean Rose -- so factor in that we've seen her two or three times already this season, and that we know Donna's meant to convey a message, and that it says Bad Wolf EVERYWHERE... Christ it's exciting.

3) The End of Time, Part One
It's the Master again, and again he's won. This cliffhanger is both hilariously funny and gloriously tense: John Simm, on the face -- and in the body -- of every man, woman and child on the planet is at once amusing and, when you think about it, utterly terrifying; and there's no obvious way that the Doctor can just fix it and undo everything. Once again, the Master's won, and the Doctor's screwed. Oh noes.

2) The Stolen Earth
In the middle of an over-stuffed story full of Everything We Ever Did In New Who, Russell picks up on one more: regeneration. For one whole week, the nation genuinely believed the Who production team might've pulled off the greatest coup in modern TV history by filming a major twist that no paper or magazine had got its grubby little hands on. The fact that he ultimately didn't regenerate almost didn't matter: viewers genuinely believed he might have, and that's the important bit. Now, of course, when any viewer knows the 10th Doctor definitely survives for another six episodes, it might not have quite the same effect.

1) Utopia
He's the goddamn Master! Even if you'd suspected, the writing, editing and music make the end of this episode the most thrilling 10 minutes nuWho had produced to this point (arguably, it still is). Plus the actual cliffhanger bit -- that the Doctor & co are stranded in the Far Future, with enemies baring down and the TARDIS stolen -- is pretty neat too. But it's that reveal that's the real classic here.

And, to extract maximum value-for-money from this post, the worst cliffhanger in all 60 episodes of Russell T Davies-managed Who is...

The Poison Sky
"Oh my God, the TARDIS is suddenly and randomly pulling us off into the future to a different story! Why?!" Well, um, simply because someone decided Martha should be in another episode… Rubbish.