Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Book

From Back To Frank Black!  The Book, Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium, is ON SALE Now.

THE TIME IS NOW. 512 pages. Fifteen exclusive interviews. Twelve in-depth essays. One incomparable hero and an enduring legacy. The culmination of four years of the Back to Frank Black campaign, over a year in the making by its editors and contributors, the unique and long-awaited tribute to Chris Carter’s Millennium is now available from Fourth Horseman Press

Back to Frank Black is currently available directly from Fourth Horseman Press’s distributor, Lulu. The hardcover retails at $44.99 and the paperback at $28.99, with all profits from sales to be donated to Lance Henriksen’s nominated charity, Children of the Night

If you would prefer to order via your in-country Amazon store or Barnes & Noble, these links will go live over the coming week or so as the volume is made available to booksellers across the globe. We will provide details just as soon as we have them, so stay tuned for this and much more in the coming days and weeks. For more news as we have it, keep watching Back to Frank Black on Facebook and Twitter. For more from the publishers, visit fourthhorsemanpress.com, read their blog, and sign up for their feeds on Facebook and Twitter.

Up nextThe Sci-Fi Fanatic's BIG 10: Millennium.  Stay tuned.



Friday, September 28, 2012

Resident Evil Promo

Resident Evil is the film that began the nightmare for both fans and critics alike.  Nightmare, of course, has a different connotation depending on who you're listening to.  Resident Evil was written, directed and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson and starred Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes and Colin Salmon.

Actress and genre crush Michelle Rodriguez has starred in Blue Crush [2002], S.W.A.T. [2003], Avatar [2009], Battle: Los Angeles [2011] and even made an appearance in Resident Evil: Retribution [2012].  She also appeared regularly in the TV series Lost.


Actor Eric Mabius has had an interesting run beginning with a spot on Chicago Hope [1997] and the terrific Millennium [1999], Season Three episode Borrowed Time, one of that season's real highlights.  He also appeared in two episodes of my guilty pleasure, Party Of Five.  But do I really have to be guilty?  Of course he took the lead in The Crow: Salvation [2000] amid a significant cast in hindsight.  His star shined as a lead in Ugly Betty [2006-2010] for four seasons.

Pretty boy English actor James Purefoy hasn't fared too badly.  He landed the role of Mark Antony for two season on Rome [2005-2007].  He also featured in sci-fi fantasy actioner John Carter [2012].  Before that he screen tested for James Bond 007 but lost to Pierce Brosnan.  He also had the role of V in V For Vendetta [2006] before exiting production.

Actor Colin Salmon, like Rodriguez, reprised his Resident Evil role for Resident Evil: Retribution [2012]. The distinguished good looks of Salmon have found their way into films like the live action version of anime's Blood: The Last Vampire [2009], the unbearable Punisher: War Zone [2008] and Alien Vs. Predator [2004].  He enjoyed a recurring role in 007's Die Another Day [2002], The World Is Not Enough [1999], Tomorrow Never Dies [1997] and He also landed a guest spot on Doctor Who [2008] and Lovejoy [1997] opposite Ian McShane just to name a few of his appearances in film and television.


Finally, Milla Jovovich needs no introduction. Apart from the Resident Evil franchise which she positively owns, highlights are many but include: The Fifth Element [1997], He Got Game [1998], The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc [1997], Ultraviolet [2006], A Perfect Getaway [2009], The Fourth Kind [2009] and many others.

So, yes, Resident Evil has some stripes on those genetically-altered arms.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Resident Evil

It’s hard to believe it’s been only a decade since the original release of director Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil [2002].  There have been five films: Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse [2004], Resident Evil: Extinction [2007], Resident Evil: Afterlife [2010] and Resident Evil: Retribution [2012].  It’s hard to believe for me personally because it seems like an eternity awaiting the release of each of these wonderfully exciting installments and guilty pleasures.


Each successive installment has made big time box office globally pulling in the millions, roughly 102, 129, 148, 296 and 71 [so far] respectively.  They have all earned well in excess of their budgets and continue and like a T-virus continues to win hordes of new Resident Evil fan-like zombies.
  
Anderson has directed three of the five films, but written them all.  The life of Anderson is like the tale of two Andersons.  Most rarely call into question his stylistic choices or visual aesthetic. He always delivers the thrills, sometimes the right tone or atmosphere, but his skills as a scribe have always left a lot to be desired.  It is here Anderson stumbles most.   It is here he is forever called into question.
Roger Ebert wasn’t wrong when he complained, his “characters have no small talk. Their dialogue consists of commands, explanations, [and] exclamations.”  But the Resident Evil franchise either remains your cup of hot tea or it doesn't.  Fortunately for Anderson, the Resident Evil franchise lends itself rather easily to the action genre, foreign business and most are more than willing to overlook his shortcomings as a writer and that aspect of the films.  We’re trying to survive here people!  We need someone in charge!  We don't need a Shakespearean monologue.  Hot babes kicking zombie ass simply never fails at least not with a budget this size.  A story is great mind you, and the details to Resident Evil have forever been murky [haven’t they?], but not entirely crucial.  Repeat, hot babes kicking zombie ass equals a good time for all willing to check their heads at the ticket entrance.
 
Still, is it not worth stepping back to take in the bigger picture?  With Resident Evil there's much more than meets the eye and as installments go this original is one of a kind.
 
Resident Evil’s Alice, particularly with the original film, has sometimes been considered a reflection of the Alice character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland.  Could it be that Resident Evil, apart from being pure, unadulterated fan boy entertainment, works on another level as a modern day fable?  Alice In a twisted and grotesque wonderland down the rabbit hole and into the Hive.  That allusion has always been perpetuated, but it's not wrong.  Anderson’s Resident Evil easily applies the rules of the literary genre to his tale.  The Licker, the Red Queen, zombies all fall under the umbrella [pun intended] of the idea of animals, mythical creatures and inanimate objects come to life that lend themselves nicely to a moral lesson.  Whether it be a cautionary tale of tinkering with genetic engineering, playing with biowarfare or trusting artificial intelligence, Resident Evil firmly plants feet within the world of sci-fi/ horror fable.  So it’s easy to see how the fantasy worlds of Alice In Wonderland apply here.  Anderson succeeds in presenting ideas and symbols almost allegorically as Resident Evil plays into the concepts of a classic like the Carroll story.  But this is science fiction horror and those ideas and concepts come across in an almost grisly, ham-fisted fashion in the hands of Anderson.  Nevertheless, Resident Evil is the best of the bunch in presenting such literary ideas.  This isn't an overstatement as Anderson visually represents on screen in his original.
 
So with each passing year many of us continue to hope and pray that Milla Jovovich will either find the fountain of youth or replace accordingly with cybernetic parts a la Steve Austin.  Personally, I think I could enjoy another five more films.
 
One of the things I have appreciated within the franchise is how each installment has designed a certain aesthetic with which to encase its adventure.  Each has a unique look [the underground hive, the city escape, the desert] and I fully appreciate them all including the much maligned Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which I hold in contention equally with the rest as far as quality goes.  Many critics cite these films as merely derivative of Escape From New York or Mad Max, but I prefer to believe it as homage.  I'm a glass is half full kind of guy.
 
An ongoing series of images from one of the most unforgettable sequences in the Resident Evil franchise.  Looking back at Resident Evil, it remains a complete original within the franchise. It probably benefits the most from a plot-driven narrative structure thanks to a video game outline as its foundation and guide.  Still, The Walking Dead it’s not as far as character depth.  Even the The Crazies [2010] remake expends a bit more time on dialogue, but like that film Resident Evil delivers the fun and solid thrills.  In fact, when I consider the fantastic, science-fiction and horror tale that was Anderson’s Event Horizon [1997], it most assuredly benefited from a script, not by the clunky Anderson, but by Philip Eisner.  Not that Eisner is a thespian as scriptwriters go, but his input along with rewrites by Andrew Kevin Walker, certainly allowed for Anderson to focus on the visual staging of that film.  Anderson's skills there, his terrific use of quiet, atmosphere and mood combined with cinematography made Event Horizon shine.  I still consider Event Horizon one of Anderson’s finest moments.  I suppose the David Peoples-penned Soldier [1998] could also qualify, but Event Horizon remains my personal favorite.  But the fact is, a few years later and Resident Evil, too, follows as one of Anderson's best.
 
A decade on and Resident Evil remains a moody, vicious and sinister piece of horror and science fiction that offers more than mere zombies.   My recent umpteenth viewing of the original film proved I am still impressed.
 
It was time to reveal the almost hypnotic wonders of Resident Evil, a sci-fi experiment in horror that would spawn a franchise, to my son.   He was not only riveted by the sheer suspense built into the film, probably the best of the lot on that level, but needed to turn it off during a late night hour as the zombie Dobermans entered the fray.  Needless to say, that boy did not go into the good night of rest easily.
 
Resident Evil as a streamlined tale of survival benefits from being more than a zombie apocalypse by infusing it with corporate agendas, genetic experimentation, the popular trope of sentient/ artificial intelligence as enemy made popular to varying degrees in science fiction dating as far back as 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] and Space:1999.  The intensity never relents as a band of unsuspecting soldiers are essentially sent on a mission to unlock the T-Virus owned by the evil Umbrella Corporation located in a top secret, underground research facility called The Hive below Raccoon City.  Each step that takes them into the Hive builds on each passing step eventually leading to their efforts to escape a giant trap.  Antagonistic villainy ranges from the well-crafted intel of the facility dubbed the Red Queen to corporate and nefarious government operatives, zombies, killer Dobermans and a mutant called the Licker all very much on the loose.  Apart from the mildly dodgy CGI effects of the Licker, Resident Evil still looks impressive and works wonders weaving suspense and a build of dread throughout its story.
 
Notable moments include the grisly death of a number of soldiers at the hands of a laser grid weapons system controlled by the Red Queen.  It's truly gruesome.  Zombie battles never get old, but they've gotten even slicker than the ones found here, but they remain memorable.
 
I've always said breasts were overrated.  Milla Jovovich has none and she is incredible in a red dress. The film is also noteworthy for introducing Alice, a security operative for Umbrella, in a tentative role as heroine.  She gradually realizes her skills and strengths as her memory loss dissipates throughout the film.  Not only does the Red Queen’s nerve gas affect her own memory, but she also wakes from the very early moments in the series with a scar indicating Alice has been a key component of the Umbrella’s experiments.  She’s also not the automatic action hero of the remaining franchise films in this original.
 
Milla’s Alice in red dress and combat boots tackling a Doberman Pinscher horde remains a centerpiece in the film and an unforgettable, classic moment in film history.  Not only is the sequence staged perfectly when Alice literally leaps into action climbing the facility walls and coming to blows foot to mouth with the Doberman, but the scene is important in recognizing a change in the evolution of the character of Alice.
 
Milla doesn't actually kick into action until the doberman sequence literally at the midway point of the 100 minute film.  She only first takes a weapon and begins to realize her lethal capabilities at the 50 minute marker.  Not unlike Alice in Wonderland, this Alice is far from helpless.  She is anything but a helpless damsel in distress in her red dress.  It is in this moment Milla begins to find her footing.  As far as arcs go, Alice is anything but self assured and confident as action heroines go. She is the amnesiac version of La Femme Nikita [1990] [by Luc Besson, the French answer to Anderson whom Jovovich was once married], Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight [1996], a government killer (property of Umbrella), a true assassin but completely unaware of her potential and skill.  This isn't the well-honed, unbreakable expert Alice we know and love by the time we reach Resident Evil: Afterlife or Resident Evil: Retribution.  There’s an innate vulnerability and softness to her for the first half.  Not unlike the zombie transformations, Alice turns into the sweaty, gritty heroine digging in and clawing her way to survival out of primal instinct and sheer will rather than super heroine.  The character arc in Resident Evil is not insignificant despite those who write it off.  There is a real awakening in Alice during the Doberman attack sequence. And quite frankly, visually, it's exceptionally sharp and still looks amazing today.  From that point forward she becomes a beast awakened much like this film.
 
Cujo anyone? The approach to a St. Bernard in Cujo the book and film was always an inspired choice.  The application of an intelligent, aggressive, energetic breed like the Doberman Pinscher, long-studied and with a rich history is the perfect selection for Resident Evil.  Here is that remarkably potent scene.  It is the moment I fell in love with Milla Jovovich and Resident Evil.
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It’s easy to see why Resident Evil might succeed based on this original.  The ingredients are fairly straight forward and character is generally sacrificed for good, maybe not old-fashioned, escapist fun.  But the original Resident Evil, while not at the level of a film like Event Horizon, does share more in common with that film as mood and atmosphere goes when Anderson suppresses the techno-heavy rhythms in favor of silence.  There’s a sense of build to the film and fear of the unknown is well-punctuated accented by the action.  The other films are certainly slicker, benefit from the evolution of CGI and bigger budgets, but they also feel a little less intelligent than this original.  I’m going against conventional wisdom here calling Resident Evil a solid piece of science fiction horror beyond fan boy dreams.
 
Critics are generally very hard on Anderson and he may be his own worst enemy, but he makes no apologies for what he is shooting and he is indeed a product of his generation.   His scripts are like a delivery system for his visual ideas like a tortilla for great salsa.  One of the points he makes in an alternate ending on the Resident Evil original is that he was looking to achieve a vibe reminiscent of those “bleak” 1970s conclusions seen in films he cites like The Omega Man [1971], Planet Of The Apes [though a 1968 film] and others that tapped into that popular approach in Hollywood that seems long gone today.  And perhaps that’s part of Resident Evil’s appeal.  Fans of the genre appreciate the grim depiction of civilization collapsed and humanity left in ruin as nothing more than flesh-eating zombies.  Of course, that backdrop is always a big part of it.  There is a great appeal to the concept of the apocalypse as a sub-genre.  It's clear Resident Evil works on different levels.  Of course, Milla Jovovich standing naked cocking a shotgun on a lifeless city street strewn with garbage and set ablaze has a lot to do with that other important component of the series.  Anderson isn’t working a literary classic here like Carroll, but Resident Evil is an exceptionally well-executed, effective, contemporary fable.  Resident Evil: B+.
 
Homage to the 1970s.  Coming soon:  Alice, Nemesis, Raccoon City and all things Resident Evil: Apocalypse.  For more on Milla Jovovich check out Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic's look at The Fourth Kind.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Blogger Interface (Sigh)

I've requested the help of one red hot Hayden Panettiere to highlight this brief update.  She readily accepted the invitation and told me, "No problem Sci-Fi Fanatic." 

Honestly, I tried to be optimistic.  I tried to keep an open mind.  I like the layout of the new Blogger interface, but friends I am composing posts like I am running through a vat of molasses.  Typing and navigating is much slower.  Composing the posts as I like to do with images and video is taking some time to figure out.  There are significant delays in typing.

Now, mind you, I don't have the newest computer, but at just a year old I expect performance to be there at least better than this.

Unfortunately I am finding that the new interface is much more time-intensive to navigate.  It's a work in progress.  I'm making efforts to figure it out and be back on line soon.  I've even tried upgrading to a Dynamic View for the front page, but alas it did not work well with the iPad.

It's a process, but the verdict is still out.  I can't be the only one experiencing these issues.  Sigh.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Doctor Who Series 1 Ep2: The End Of The World

"Everything has its time and everything dies." -The Doctor-

"I'm a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords." -The Doctor-

While Rose was an undeniably solid opener, Russell T. Davies elevated his game another notch for his sophomore effort, The End Of The World, picking up precisely with the moment he left off. Davies jump started the season first with the memorable season premiere and followed suit with the even more challenging sequel. Actually, he intended for them to be seen together. I promise you, repeat viewings were in order for both of these Davies' entries. Whether or not this story is an entirely original idea I'm unsure, but for television, for me, it was an eye-popping and fresh event, like the aliens within the story itself. It was at once a seemingly risk-taking approach to serial science fiction approach and yet bursting with wit and energy in all of its unconventional ideas, which, in essence, are steeped in pure, unadulterated drama.

The End Of The World also looks amazing as if sparing no expense in production. The End Of The World looks as if the team blew its entire load on this one affair. You might well imagine the series could be headed for an episode that takes place in a single room because The End Of The World looks expensive, epic, bold and beautiful. Could the proverbial filler episode be far behind? Thankfully that never happens, yet The End Of The World is indeed a breathtaking entry that literally transports us as viewers squarely into science fiction territory. Deep space. Colorful alien races. Future ideas. Russell T. Davies makes no bones about his hopes for Doctor Who in the span of just two short, sharp episodes colliding horror and science fiction elements into a magnificent amalgamation of entertainment, while taking the story and character dialogue to new heights. Both the youthful energy of new companion and sex kitten [I never really did mention that, but by God Billie Piper is fabulous] Rose Tyler and the geeky cool of the Doctor are given that much more with which to expand their characters. The End Of The World is truly, as brilliant as it looks, an actor's dream.

Doctor Who, Series 1, Episode 2, The End Of The World spends a good bit of time detailing the geek fun of the time travelling process and the machinations involved in finding a time and location to transport the TARDIS.

And so, with the Doctor's handy psychic paper as an invitation, the duo steps five billion years into the future where the sun is expanding and the Earth is set to end [Earth-Death], the Doctor provides Rose a front row seat for the fireworks display on Platform One, the Manchester Suite. Solar flares and issues with the Sun caused much grief to the Earth for Season Twelve, Episode 76, The Ark In Space [1975]. As a result, viewers too are positioned to feel very much apart of the proceedings through the eyes of Rose. Like her we are bombarded with information, new places, new faces and an overwhelming sense of otherness. It is indeed a learning curve and an adjustment for the intrigued but fearless passenger. The episode explodes immediately with originality through the introduction of a wild selection of new alien arrivals to be introduced by the blue-skinned Steward of Platform One.

The End Of The World captures its host of characters and places them into a confined space specifically designed as a social gathering, and it is the snappy dialogue and quick, natural exchanges between all the characters, specifically actors Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, that shine. This tandem of Eccleston and Piper is very sharp out of the gate and the chemistry is electric delivering magic for a brand new Doctor Who series previously shelved for nearly a decade and longer if you discount the Eighth Doctor.

In fact, once again, the series has expertly selected a splendid supporting cast to play its wide array of alien visitors. The Moxx Of Balhoon would also make first mention of the "Bad Wolf scenario" to The Face Of Boe [of the Silver Devastation]. The introductions are always important and on Doctor Who they are original.

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The cast of bizarre characters leaves Rose in awe through much of the entry as she delivers an extraordinarily good fish-out-of-water performance. You can imagine a similar response to the environment in her shoes. It's entirely credible within the incredible.

Davies and company brilliantly build some wonderful creatures reminding us of the kind of excitement that infused Farscape's odd cast of characters.

The Face Of Boe is a brilliant creation. I was reminded slightly of that guild navigator creature in Dune housed within the liquid tank. So much imagination is put up on the screen giving The End Of The World a very cinematic quality. Even an evolved human in the form of Lady Cassandra O'Brien Dot Delta Seventeen is positively disturbing. The character of Cassandra presents a clever possibility of one such evolutionary path for humanity. How could the end of the world not be upon us? It is a most bizarre but fantastic interpretation of the evolved human five billion years in the making. What do we have to look forward to? A brain in a jar below a stretched frame of human skin and veins pulled paper thin into a cloth canvas and moisturized by inhuman aids so as to preserve a pathetic excuse for human existence. Her face is the viewing screen with her brain attached like an external harddrive. Zoe Wanamaker is outstanding as the voice of Cassandra, the "last pure human," and she would return for The Stolen Earth [2006]. She is the result of 708 operations including a sex change if I'm not mistaken. She is nothing more than a "bitchy trampoline" as Rose barbs. The two have a terrific character exchange.

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Davies even adds clever touches like the jukebox that actually gets the party started for the end of the world festivities to the tune of 1980s classic Tainted Love [1981] by Soft Cell with that timeless vocal of one Marc Almond. It's like the Tatooine Cantina scene, but rather an alien gathering for the cocktail crowd elite partying like it's 1999. The festivities are followed later with a Toxic [2004] tune from none other than Britney Spears. How do they do it? Why is it when Davies spins crazy it sounds and looks so perfect?

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Beccy Armory is terrific as the blue-skinned Raffalo too. She's a delight and offers a wonderful exchange with Rose before Davies decides to deposit her into the guest heap along with Clive from Rose. It's amazing how much attention to detail even is given to what could easily have been a throwaway character. Instead, Armory is allowed to breathe life into a performance as vivid as her blue face paint. Davies and company are all over the details and the episode is marvelous for it.

Doctor Who effortlessly switches between cerebral science fiction ideas to the physically thrilling packed with humor ("Talk to the face [of Boe]" rather than the hand as the saying goes) to moments of genuinely tender emotion. How is not jarring to the viewer? It's a testament to Davies' writing skills.

And how exactly does Rose understand these creatures? That would be the telepathic field supplied to Rose by the TARDIS. It's a "Time Lord gift" of the TARDIS as first introduced during the Fourth Doctor reign, Season Fourteen, Episode 86, The Masque Of Mandragora [1976]. Farscape has the Translator Microbes as noted in Premiere, Doctor Who has the even more impressive explanation of the telepathic field. To illustrate one of the many extraordinary character exchanges, this scene is wonderful between Piper and Eccleston. It speaks directly to a passage from a terrific essay by Laura Geuy Akers called Empathy, Ethics And Wonder from Doctor Who And Philosophy: Bigger On The Inside.  Akers reflects quite articulately on this moment.  She writes, "The Doctor, ...lives his life at such a pace that introspective reflection isn't practical.  He also doesn't seem interested in contemplating the coherence of his long-term identity, preferring to live in the moment."  Such energy seems almost pointless to the doctor as he is moved to anger. "I'm just the Doctor... This is who I am, right here, right now, all right?!  All that counts is here and now, and this is me!"  This directly connects with the character that is the Doctor.

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This is quickly succeeded by an emotional long distance (through time), cell phone call between Rose and her mother (currently residing in present day Earth) thanks to a little "jiggery pokery." The idea of a transmission across space and time is certainly not new as evidence in Season Thirteen, Episode 80, Terror Of The Zygons [1975] as well as The Three Doctors [1972-1973]. The entry is loaded with quotable moments. The writing and wit is that good here.

Speaking of Doctor Who's emotional strengths, this is a wonderfully affecting moment, among affecting moments, whereby Jabe, a tree alien of Cheem, connects with the Doctor and empathizes with him. The Doctor shows an extraordinary side with this truly touching tug on the heartstrings. The Doctor is clearly managing great pain often masked with a smile and his typically good humor.

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The End Of The World underscores the Doctor too as a being alone in the universe, healing and trying to find his own way following the end of his own world.

Special effects are on the money throughout the episode, notable for the most effects shot ever in a Doctor Who episode through 2011, but as expected the make-up and prosthetic work trump the always date-worthy CGI effects. Still, Cassandra, a CGI creation, is phenomenal. Even some thrilling moments dealing with the radioactive sunshine/ sun filter predate but remind of us of British filmmaker Danny Boyle's wonderful film, Sunshine [2007].

Additionally, this follow up to Rose succeeds much better with its choice of compositions by Murray Gold. The score is much more delicate and serves as a beautiful accompaniment or backdrop to the direction by Euros Lyn. The mixing is far better here, but the mood is entirely different from the urgent electronic numbers of Rose.

Some revealing moments are explored from the revelations of the Doctor's homeworld and his people, the Time Lords, lost to war, to the tender reflections of humankind's potential end and to cherish the day and the gift of existence. Nothing last forever. Even the Doctor, a Time Lord, not taken with the idea of ending life, even gives pause to the belief that life has an end and intervening to stop that life from terminating can be just as wrong-headed as ending one not ready to go. It's a beautifully poetic tale and the Doctor and Rose join hands as an understanding connects them and as the kindness between two different races opens further to friendship. Piper and Eccleston are incredibly good as the slow, streaming reveals throughout the entry build to a powerful finale.

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Doctor Who strikes again with the extraordinarily well-crafted and well-paced science fiction and character canvas that is The End Of The World. This is a perfect illustration of character, story and ideas culminating in a classic. The special effects are extremely good, but as they date and age with time, The End Of The World will remain proof positive that a cracking good tale rich in character will always stand the test of time. The End Of The World never looked so beautiful.

The End Of The World: A. Writer: Russell T. Davies. Director: Euros Lyn.

Monsters/Aliens: Moxx Of Balhoon/ The Face of Boe/ Mr. and Mrs. Pakoo/ The Sisterhood of the Wicker Place Mat/ Lady Cassandra O'Brien Dot Delta Seventeen [a human that easily qualifies as monster]/ The Forest Of Cheem [including Jabe]/ Adherents Of The Repeated Meme/ Robot Spiders/ The Steward.

Additional Commentary: This episode was not only boldly original and refreshing as science fiction goes, but highly charged emotionally. I'm not entirely sure I was prepared for that. I just had no idea what to expect. Who would have thought in a second attempt Russell T. Davies could make a perfect episode? Honestly, there are so many moments of genuine emotion it is a stunning piece of work. It's pretty clear this creative team was making a big statement and were here to stay.

In fact, Rose's final moments when the Doctor requests she join him on this new journey while Mickey clings to her leg not to leave him, there is a clear electricity between these two beings - human and Time Lord. Short of saying there is a clear love connection between them there is indeed something of a spark there. You can feel it and I'm not overstating it. There is a connection and Eccleston and Piper sell it with their winning combination. Who knew the chemistry would be even more potent between Piper and David Tennant?

With The End Of The World there is a flood of mutual affections abound through space and time between them. Davies genuinely builds the relationship in rousing fashion while they flit about Platform 1. They butt heads because there are aspects to their personalities which are similar, but there is something sincerely building between Rose and the Doctor. It's most significant in The End Of The World and it's beautiful. I wasn't the only one to notice.

In Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition 200 Golden Moments two writers eloquently captured and articulated their own feelings regarding the standout entry.

First, Matt Michael celebrates Doctor Who's approach to being big, bold and different to the budget-conscious, sometimes-Earth driven period tales of eras past on British television. He notes The End Of The World makes a very major statement. It "specifically repudiates that narrow, budget-conscious thinking by cramming every inch of the screen with bizarre-looking creatures who have gathered ... to network while the Earth burns below." Michael truly reiterates my own experience viewing the episode and obviously gets Davies' intention as I did. This was a huge episode. "This wildly ambitious scene occurs in the second episode. In most shows it's one that's meant to show us how this is all going to work on a weekly basis. So, as a statement of intent - that this series was going to be bigger, brighter, bolder than Doctor Who had been since the mid-1960s, and utterly unlike anything else on television - this is unbeatable, and I love Russell T. Davies for having the nerve to write it. It's the moment I fell in love with Doctor Who all over again." Amen. Well said.

Rose was an exceptional first outing and a terrific introduction, but The End Of The World has got guts galore and science fiction fans will no doubt appreciate the courageous nature of its approach to telling a story and to laying the ground rules for the new Doctor Who. Michael is right, Davies showed real audacity here and succeeded marvelously. I think The End Of The World is tremendously risky in its approach to a new series and I think Davies grounds it in character which is why it is so extraordinary and works.

The extraordinarily sexy Billie Piper. Joseph Lidster also had an appreciation for the episode and he comes at it as a non-science fiction fan and as someone not overly keen on monsters and aliens.

"After years of Star Trek, I knew that alien races tended to be dull, often defined by one characteristic such as an obsession with money or honour or whatever." He beamed, "But not in The End Of The World. Here they're brilliant. They look amazing. They flirt and argue and joke and bitch at each other. They're genuinely funny and they feel like real individuals."

As Lidster notes, The End Of The World is permeated with genuinely emotional moments of reality with Davies making it clear it will be an "integral part of the programme." Rose calling her mom. The Doctor notifying Jabe's friends of her death. Dancing to Tainted Love. Rose telling off Cassandra. Rose having an intimate exchange with Raffalo. The Doctor and Rose learning more about one another. The entry is littered with special moments. As Lidster notes, when the Doctor and Rose land on a city street in the final minute they talk, "properly." Each special moment seems to build on the former until you get to the final act when the Doctor and Rose take one another's hand in friendship. How perfect they should share the simple joy of chips to hammer home the point of treasuring the moment.

"It's difficult to say what makes the scene so perfect, because it's every single thing about it. It's the astonishing performances by Chris and Billie. The beautiful music by Murray Gold and direction by Euros Lyn. The sheer brilliance of Russell T. Davies' script. It's a scene that shows two people becoming friends." The emotional pay off in the episode, like the Earth-Death itself is spectacular and heart-rending. I don't use that cliched word lightly. It's genuine, heartfelt stuff. Lidster concludes, "It's epic, not because Gallifrey has been destroyed, but because it's real human drama that delves so deeply into our two main characters. It shows a broken man starting to heal. It shows a young girl realizing just how huge the universe is. It shows two people becoming real friends. And it's possibly the most powerful scene there's ever been in Doctor Who." Amen. I've seen the entirety of Doctor Who Series 1 and Lidster is not wrong. This is one of the most powerful entries in the science fiction genre period. It is handled quite poetically.

I was reminded of classic Doctor Who and it's been a long time since I've seen it, but The End Of The World reminisces of the kind of power found in the goodbye in Season 14, Episode 87, The Hand Of Fear between the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith. I was profoundly moved as a young man at the goodbye between Tom Baker's Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane. Well, The End Of The World offers that kind of power with two people saying hello to one another rather than goodbye. How unusual. Yes, one man is healing. One woman is discovering and opening her eyes. Together, it's clear they need one another. At the very least a friendship and mutual respect is forming. There is indeed a cosmic connection between them and in two episodes Russell T. Davies bloody well nails it. It's a gem.

Images from one of Doctor Who, Series 1's most memorable moments. For those keeping track, The End Of The World placed #93 in Doctor Who Magazine's The Mighty 200 below Rose [#63]. The End Of The World does deserve a higher placement, but these things are entirely subjective as one might imagine. Shouldn't we expect better for the end of the world and this magnificent beginning for the Doctor and Rose?