Category Archives: Strange Tales

Films, TV, comics, books, games… and the geek shall inherit the Earth…

BBC Reveals Details about Class

That the opening pair of episodes of the new Doctor Who spin-off, Class, will be released onto BBC Three on 22nd October.

Peter Capaldi will join the cast of exciting new talent in the opening episode of the series, For Tonight We Might Die.  Coal Hill School holds some very dark and deadly secrets in its shadows….but who will survive?  Commenting on his involvement with the new Doctor Who spin-off series, Peter Capaldi, said:

“The Doctor Who family is growing, and it’s fantastic to be able to welcome the young new cast of Class in to the Whoniverse.”

It’s a new term at Coal Hill Academy, and students are preparing for their Autumn Prom.  But when the school comes under attack, four alienated students must form an unlikely alliance to defeat them.

This incursion is only the beginning…

Charlie (played by Greg Austin), April (Sophie Hopkins), Ram (Fady Elsayed) and Tanya (Vivian Oparah), assisted by their Physics teacher Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly), are charged with a great responsibility by the Doctor (Peter Capaldi): guard against the creatures of nightmare that want nothing more than to find a way through to Earth and take it for their own.

Patrick Ness has created intriguing and complex characters that have to navigate their way through more than just teenage hormones, exams and detention. Joining them as series regulars are: Jordan Renzo (Chosen, Troubled), Pooky Quesnel (Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol) Nigel Betts (Doctor Who: The Caretaker). The first two episodes also feature Ben Peel (The Fall), Anna Shaffer (Harry Potter), Paul Marc Davies (Doctor Who: Utopia), and Shannon Murray (The Totally Senseless Gameshow).

YA writer and Class creator Patrick Ness, says:

“At last, we can tell you a little more about Class! Though there are still many, many secrets to come. Many. Like, a lot. But of COURSE, the Doctor is in episode one! That’s how these things are done. Truly, though, I can’t wait for everyone to see the show; we’ve worked so hard and I’m so proud of it. Soon, soon…”

Holy Animation, DC! Shut up and take my money!

Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar.  If you were born in the 70s or before, you’ll remember those names from Saturday mornings.  Sadly, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton and the majority of the rest of the original Batman cast are no longer with us, but take a look at this (and don’t forget to wait for the stinger after the title card):

As you can see, the Bat-puns and the classic music are back.  The DVD will be released for digital download on 11th October, the day after a limited run in selected cinemas in the States.

Power Of The Daleks to be animated

According to a report in the Mirror on the 29th August, BBC Worldwide have commissioned an animation company to produce new visuals for the lost serial, Power Of The Daleks.

Power Of The Daleks was Patrick Troughton‘s debut story as The Doctor, following on from the first ever regeneration sequence at the end of The Tenth Planet.  This makes this particular story an important part of British TV history.

As for Doctor Who fans, the importance of Power Of The Daleks can’t really be understated.  It is lauded as one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever.  Considering the only way that assertion could be tested was by reading the novelisation or listening to the CD version, the story’s position was thought to be unassailable, barring the lost episodes all turning up.

The story in The Mirror suggests that Power Of The Daleks will soon be following two other Troughton-era stories, The Ice Warriors and The Invasion and Hartnell-era stories like The Tenth Planet into animation.  Of course this one will be somewhat different, as all six of the episodes of this serial are missing, compared to one or two parts of the other stories.  That means the animation studio will have to work from production stills and cine film at best to reconstruct them, making their job more challenging than the ones that came before.

This news is obviously not just important as far as Doctor Who is concerned.  It could be seen as an important step in bringing back all of the programmes the BBC wiped from their library in the 1970s, before home video made it more financially attractive to keep the archived footage.

Fingers crossed it turns out better than Reign Of Terror.

More news on this one as we get it.

Disney Channel star cast as MJ?

TheWrap speculates that Mary Jane Watson may have been cast

According to a rumour reported by TheWrap, Zendaya Coleman (Rocky Blue in Disney Channel sitcom, Shake It Up) will be playing Mary Jane Watson in next summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Back in March it was announced that Zendaya has been cast in a “key role” as a character named “Michelle“.  I’ve been reading the Spider-Man comics solidly since the Clone Saga, back in the 1990’s, right the way through One More Day, Brand New Day, Big Time and Superior Spider-Man, and thanks to various annuals and so on during my childhood, I’ve got a pretty solid knowledge of the vast majority of Spidey‘s supporting cast over the years.  I don’t remember a character by the name of Michelle ever cropping up in a major role.

Adding in the information that, in at least one recent draft of the script, Zendaya’s character supposedly drops several clues that point to her being MJ, the plot thickens.  I must point out that this is all purely speculation.  In their article, TheWrap never even hints as to what those clues were.

Apparently Sony have declined to comment.  Representatives for neither Marvel Studios or Zendaya herself have responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Here come the knuckle-dragging racists

Now we wait for the usual knuckle-dragging racists to start accusing Marvel of being “SJWs“.  Why?  Purely because the actress Marvel Studios have chosen to play the part (even though it’s not confirmed) isn’t white.  She’s also not a redhead (well, not naturally, anyway).  They will probably also mention that since the recent Fantastic Four movie, starring Michael B Jordan as the traditionally white Johnny Storm, bombed, that’s a reason never to modify fifty year old characters to reflect the modern audience.

None of this bothers the creator of the character, the almighty Stan Lee.  When approached by the Toronto Sun, he stated:

“If she is as good an actress as I hear she is, I think she’ll be absolutely wonderful.  The colour of their skin doesn’t matter, their religion doesn’t matter, all that matters is that this is the right person for the role.  In the Daredevil movie, the Kingpin – who had been white in the comics – he was a black man playing the role, and he played it beautifully”.

To quote The Man, himself: “Nuff said!”

The cast also includes Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Michael Keaton (hopefully as Norman Osbourne), Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds), Laura Harrier (Liz Allen), Tony Revolori (Flash Thompson), Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine (The Shocker), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May) and Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark).  Fingers crossed they’ll bring JK Simmons back as J Jonah Jameson, with Garcelle Beauvais as Robbie Robertson.

Some idle speculation for the geekier ones amongst us…

One interesting name I’ve spotted on the cast list is Tiffany Espensen, who is down to play a character named “Cindy“.  Now correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m not, so don’t bother!), but isn’t Silk‘s real name Cindy Moon?  For those of you who don’t know, after the spider bit Peter, it then ran away and bit Cindy Moon, who was also on the school trip, before it died.  Cindy was hidden from Morlun by an old man with spider-powers of his own by the name of Ezekiel Sims.  This is all explained in and around the Spider-Verse storyline.

Then again, with Tyne Daly on the cast… Jane Joanna Jameson, anyone?  Personally, I think she could pull it off.  She’s certainly got the acting skills for it.  As an added bonus, it would seriously annoy the knuckle-draggers.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, produced by Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige, will be released on July 7, 2017.

More Star Trek: Discovery details released

Bryan Fuller, the showrunner behind the new Star Trek TV series revealed a huge chunk of fresh information about it at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills.  Included in that information was that the upcoming series will focus on a female lead character.  Whoever she turns out to be, she won’t be the captain but rather be a lieutenant commander, “with caveats,” said Fuller. “We’ve seen six series from the captain’s point of view; to see a character from a different perspective on the starship — one who has a different dynamic relationships with a captain, with subordinates, it gave us richer context.”

In keeping with Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for Star Trek, the crew will be highly diverse.  On the casting process, Fuller said: “Star Trek started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast … our lead of the show is going to be subject of that same level of who’s the best actor and also what can we say about diversity on the show.  We haven’t cast her yet, so we don’t know what level of diversity she will be, but that’s forefront in our minds.  We’ll probably have a few more aliens than you typically have on the show.  We wanted to paint a picture of Starfleet where we’re going to have new exciting aliens and also new imagining of existing aliens.”

Fuller noted some of the changes might upset the “Trekker” element, used to seeing things a certain way.  “We’re producing the show in 2016. We have to update the style of the effects, the style of the sets, the style of the makeup.

On the premise, Fuller stated, “There’s an incident and an event in Star Trek history that’s been talked about but never been explored. To do this series, we’re telling a much more serialized story, to dig deep into a very tantalizing storyline. And we have a character who’s on a journey, and in order to understand something that is alien, she first has to understand herself.

The event is something that was referenced in The Original Series, but Fuller wouldn’t be drawn on what it was.  He ruled out the Romulan War (although he did say, “close”, in response to that one), Section 31 (but that could play a role) and Kirk wrestling with the Kobayashi Maru test. He did offer that this event was something that had only been referenced, never seen.

News that has raised equal measures of ire (about the timeline) and elation (about the setting) Star Trek: Discovery will be set in the “Prime Universe” (so in the timeline of the original shows, not the J.J. Abrams reboot films’ Kelvin timeline), about a decade before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission. “We can redefine the visual style,” he said. “We get to play with all of the iconography of those ships and that universe. Since we are doing this series in 2016, and all of the other series have been produced [at a time that] isn’t as sophisticated as we are now with what we can do production-wise, we’re going to be reestablishing an entire look for the series — not only for the series, but for what we wanted to accomplish with Star Trek beyond this series.”

Although the series will (quite rightly, in order to fully establish the crew of the USS Discovery) steer clear of introducing Original Series characters until at least season 2, Fuller did say he was interested in the possibility of using Amanda Grayson (who, of course, went on to marry a certain Ambassador Sarek and become the mother of Spock) and fleshing her out somewhat.

Since the new series will be broadcast first on CBS’s new on-demand service, followed a day later on Netflix outside the US, the production team are getting much more leeway in terms of content.  “Well there’s a reason we call it S.T.D.,” Fuller joked. “We’re going to have a broader spectrum to explore those issues, but it’s still Star Trek. It will probably be slightly more graphic in content.  We discuss language every day.  Is it appropriate for somebody to see a bridge blow up and say ‘Oh shit’?  I imagine we’re going to shoot scenes a couple of ways and see what feels more authentic in the editing room.”

The Discovery herself will follow the basic Federation Starship design, in that she will have a saucer section and warp nacelles, but the design they leaked early on has “changed considerably. But it’s still very much inspired by those [Ralph McQuarrie] illustrations.

Obviously we’ll find out what this all means in January when the show starts it’s run.

First teaser trailer for Star Trek: Discovery revealed

You’ve just watched the teaser trailer for the new Star Trek series, which will be shown by Netflix here in the UK, a day after it is released in the US on a CBS on demand channel, as revealed at Comic-Con in San Diego.

The series, being run by Brian Fuller, who also revealed the show will be set in the “Prime” universe, rather than the films, which are set in the “Kelvin” universe.  What hasn’t been revealed is when in the Star Trek timeline it is set.

The design of the ship is based on an unused sketch for Star Trek: Phase II by Ralph McQuarrie (most famous for his Star Wars ship designs), which possibly suggests it is set after TOS, but before Star Trek: The (Slow) Motion Picture and its sequels.  But that’s just me guessing.  What I find most interesting are the obvious Klingon design echoes and the very Klingon-esque music.

Doctor Who Early Adventures – The Isos Network

Big Finish Productions

Starring Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury

Written by Nicholas Briggs

This story is part of the Early Adventures series, a more recent range of Doctor Who stories that cover the Hartnell and Troughton eras.  As both William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton have gone to join with the Matrix, their parts are recast, with William Russell (who played Ian Chesterton, one of the first companions) and Frazer Hines (who played Jamie McCrimmon) stepping in to play their deceased co-star.

For anyone who has ever listened to the BBC’s audio recordings of the lost stories, you’ll be on familiar ground with this range.  What you get is full-cast dialogue with members of the cast (in this story, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury) providing linking narration.  This style means it’s very easy to slip into the idea that this is another lost story, which is precisely the effect Big Finish are aiming for.

The Isos Network is set in the immediate aftermath of the 1968 story, The Invasion.  While leaving Earth, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe spot a scout ship escaping the destruction of the cyber invasion fleet, and give chase.  They land on Isos II, a mysteriously empty colony world, just as a heavily armed military unit from Isos I arrive to investigate the disappearance of the colony.  The only inhabitants seem to be friendly giant slugs that were apparently used as work animals by the colonists.

Of course, the cybermen went to Isos II for a reason – to reactivate a cybercontroller in stasis, left there following the cyberization of the planet’s population.

The story itself is pretty standard, echoing the likes of Tomb Of The Cybermen and most “human military unit hopelessly outclassed by evil aliens having to rely on a civilian with specialist knowledge”-type stories.  The military are originally suspicious, but then come to realize how useful the Doctor and his companions are.

The other big part of this is, quite obviously, the performances of the cast.  Nick Briggs manages (with a bit of help from sound effects) to successfully invoke the cybermen of the era, with their buzzing, mechanical, emotionless voices.  Wendy Padbury’s voice is a little deeper than it was in 1968, but has no problem slipping back into her old role, as does Frazer Hines, when it comes to playing Jamie.

So how does Hines deal with his dual role?  Pretty well, as it goes.  The late Patrick Troughton, who originally played the Second Doctor in the TV series, had a deeper voice than Hines, but Hines’s almost uncanny impersonation of the mannerisms of the Second Doctor is surprisingly effective.  Since this isn’t a full audioplay, like the other Big Finish ranges, Hines not quite fully differentiating his voice from his original character doesn’t harm the flow too much.  It still works well, since there’s enough difference between the two characters to stop confusion, even when writing whilst listening!

If you’re after a faithful recreation of the Doctor Who stories of the late 60’s, you won’t be disappointed.  OK, some of the plot points are a little hackneyed, but that’s fine, since the era these stories came from could easily have been accused of the same thing.  So in that way, it’s very successful.  The performances are of the high standard we’ve come to expect from Big Finish, with the original cast sliding back into their roles with ease (and Frazer Hines making a very solid job of playing the Second Doctor), ably aided and abetted by the guest cast.  If, as a fan of Doctor Who, you’re after something decent to listen to, you can’t really go far wrong with The Isos Network, especially if you’ve seen The Invasion.  Fair enough, it’s not up there with the likes of The Chimes Of Midnight or Dominion, but I doubt you’ll be disappointed.