Tag Archives: The Queen

Killing Off Kylie

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So hands up, who thought that they’d find some way to bring Kylie back to life by the end of Voyage of the Damned? There has been an opinion I’ve seen expressed a lot in fan circles, that killing off a companion didn’t fit in with the spirit of the new show – the prime example of that being the ultimate survival of Rose back in season 2. Although obviously Astrid wasn’t going to leave with the Doctor at the end of the special, I’m sure most people were expecting some sort of plot device that meant that she couldn’t go rather than her ending up as she did.

Anyway, aside from that, what did we think of this years festive outing? As we did last year we watched this up at my parents, and it generally seemed to go down pretty well as a Christmas crowd pleaser.

The opening cliff-hanger with the Titanic crashed through the TARDIS wall was quickly resolved with the Doctor flicking a few switches to get the wall to rebuild itself and to bring the time machine into the ship. From there the scene is set as the Doctor finds himself on an alien theme cruise, visiting present day Earth. Once that is established the story quickly shifts into classic disaster movie mode as the Captain deliberately crashes meteors into the ship in an attempt to destroy it. From here we have all the classic disaster movie characters – the ones who don’t make it, either through accidents on the way, or by bravely sacrificing themselves so the others can escape. The really easy option – the TARDIS – conveniently gets blown into space in the initial explosion, and then automatically lands itself on the Earth below.

The show also references the previous Christmas specials, with a deserted London as a result of the two preceding Christmases – with it seems only the Queen opting to stay. This produces one of the big moments that really they could only have got away with at Christmas, with the plunging spaceship heading straight for Buckingham Palace.

All in all it was a pretty entertaining episode, just right for the family to sit down with. There are some thrills and spills, a few laughs, and I’m sure the hankies came out in parts too. I’m sure it’s not going to win masses of awards for being massively original, but it was entertaining none the less.

But what was there for the fans? First up was the new arrangement of the theme tune, which on first listen through seemed an improvement over the previous version. There was also the other traditional aspect of the Christmas special, the trailer for the new season. I think as with last year it will take until the end of the season in the summer to work everything out, but we got glimpses of the return of the Sontarans, glimpses of both Donna and Martha (who also popped up in the Torchwood trailer they showed afterwards). Based on previous trailers I think we probably were only looking at footage from the first few episodes – but it as always whetted the appetite for when the series comes around again later in 2008.

The Queen

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One of the recent movie releases I’d particularly wanted to see was the critically acclaimed Stephen Frears film The Queen, which won two awards at this years Venice Film Festival. The film follows Stephen Frears acclaimed and controversial TV drama The Deal looking at the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and features Michael Sheen repeating his role as Blair.

Although in most cinemas the movie has slipped off the current listings we were lucky to spot a screen in Reading that was still showing the movie – although as an aside we realised quite how spoilt we have become with DVD, and our trips to digital cinema screens in London, as after more than a month of daily showings the print was really quite poor in places which was a shame.

The movie primarily covers the events of the first week of September in 1997, following on from the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a car crash in Paris, although it also includes prologue and epilogue scenes set at the time of the election win by Blair in May 1997, and late October 1997. Unexpectedly though there wasn’t any explicit caption clarifying how factual or fictitious what is shown on the screen actually is. The official line is that it is a fiction, however the writer Peter Morgan apparently had access to a number of off-the-record sources on which to base the story. I have to say, whether fiction or not, in general the movie is very convincing.

There are points where perhaps the characters behave as parodies of the real people, but in general the characters seem like real people. Also, although there are moments of amusement in the film, the characters and events are dealt with well – important considering that the majority of the characters involved are still alive. Care had also been taken to ensure that main characters in the drama who are played by actors always appear as actors, so for example the newspapers and TV reports of the day are re-edited to include images of the actors, whilst those aspects where the real people are used, for example Diana herself and Earl Spencer, are cleverly interwoven.

Probably the best actor in the whole movie is Helen Mirren in the title role, who delivers a fantastic and utterly convincing performance. Whilst some of the other actors, although delivering good performances, never quite convince, by the end you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Helen Mirren isn’t actually the Queen herself. In reality, this is the whole reason the movie works, because Mirren is so compelling, and convincing in exploring what might have been going on behind closed doors during that week. Whilst we really know very little about our Queen as a person, we know enough to make what is shown during the movie utterly compelling and convincing.

Whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll find the movie on at the cinema for much longer, I can certainly recommend it when it invariably comes out on DVD and is shown on TV.