Monday, 11 June 2012


Horrible Histories
4x10 Episode 10

Once Upon a Time
1x08 Desperate Souls
By focussing on far and away the show's best element, Robert Carlyle, they managed to produce a pretty good episode. Surprising.
That said, apparently jumping forward a fortnight from last episode's major death absents every character from really having to deal with it. What a cop out (pun not intended).
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Romanzo Criminale
1x06 Episode 6
For a serialised drama this feels like a pretty standalone episode -- it's The One Where They're In Prison -- until the final few minutes whip out a bunch of elements that better tie it to everything else, with plot turning points as well as thematic elements. Nicely done.

2x03 Episode 3
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Comics: Star Trek / Doctor Who

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation² #1 by Scott & David Tipton (with Tony Lee) & J.K. Woodward

Here's something fans have debated/dreamed about for decades, finally made reality thanks to the coincidence of the comics licence for both properties residing with IDW: a Doctor Who/Star Trek crossover, with a nice unwieldy title thanks to them choosing Next Gen for the Trek bit plus licenced comics' constant need to give things a subtitle. Apparently it's selling by the bucketload, as you'd expect for something joining two such huge franchises, even if people hadn't been discussing it as a pipe dream for so long.

As a Doctor Who fan, it's not the greatest dream realisation ever. It's telling that it's penned by regular Trek scribes Scott & David Tipton, with IDW's regular Who writer Tony Lee "helping"; and it's no coincidence that Trek comes first in the title. That's partly to do with sales (IDW aren't allowed to directly sell Who comics in the UK, due to DWM's licence, but arranging the title thusly means it falls under their Trek licence, which can be sold over here), but as an American company I imagine they see the Trek element as a far bigger point. Hey-ho.

But all that said, this is actually mostly Who. Indeed, it's the Trek fans who are liable to be disappointed. It starts all Trek-y, with the invasion of A Generic Federation Planet, but most of the issue is taken up with an adventure in ancient Egypt for the Doctor, Amy and Rory. Then a final-page shot features a couple of TNG cast members. And that's your lot. This is going to be an eight-issue series so I'm sure they're playing the long game, and that'll be fine in the inevitable collected edition, but as a monthly series of instalments that structure leaves it lacking in the crossover element the title promises. Judging how well this long-anticipated meeting of franchises actually works in practice will have to wait for later issues, then.

One observation, however. Though it's resulted in that daftly long title, choosing Next Gen has a practical advantage: that's where the Borg originated, and as the Borg are more-or-less the same concept as the Cybermen (albeit invented a couple of decades later -- in your face, Trek), they're the obvious choice for a villain team-up in this franchise team-up.

The Tiptons pretty well nail the Who characters. The Trek section is full of awkward po-faced dialogue, so I guess they've nailed that too. The main way their writing lets the reader down is in decompression. It's taken to daft heights here, with whole pages given over to exciting action like Rory knocking over a vase. Seriously. The amount of wasted space is astonishing. And Woodward's painted-style art does little to make up for it. It's relentlessly photo-referenced when it comes to recognisable faces, and Generic Extra Cast Members are scruffily rendered.

A bit of a let down for a first issue, then. We'll see how it goes, but unless the pace of the story can pick up a bit, I fear it's going to be relentlessly disappointing.

(For a slightly different but fundamentally similar version of my thoughts, see the review I bothered to post on Comixology.)