Review

Premier League Midway Review

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So we’re pass the midway point in the Premier League. We’re also past the halfway point in the January transfer window and business is not really picking up as yet, though that will change with the days remaining.

This review is a little later than scheduled, but it’s still looking at how things are at this stage.

Chelsea:

What I Expected: They were not obviously going to win it this season. They had a dreadful season last and so would be lagging a little behind the true contenders to be found in Manchester. Yet Conte is a savvy manager and the squad disappointed because they had been previously the champions, so it’s not as though they were complete failures. A few signings and they would be competing for a top four place.

What I Received: The start wasn’t too bad, but then there came defeats to Liverpool and especially Arsenal. That particular result has proven to be a turning point for the club who went on a 13 game winning streak and won 14 out of 15 league games to find themselves nestled comfortably seven points on top of the table. No doubt thanks to their 3-4-3 system that teams struggle against, the revelatory form of Victor Moses and the squad’s ability to cope with minor setbacks.

What I Expect: They should win the Premier League. Not necessarily as consummately as others have suggested, but their position is one in which they have to sabotage their own chances.

Progress Grade: A – You look at the names in that squad and there are quality Premier League winning players in there. Conte has got them playing to their potential and so the defence is strong, the attack is irresistible and there is solidity, strength and dynamism throughout the team.

Spurs:

What I Expected: They would certainly learn the lessons from last season. They have a good squad and a very good manager and things are ticking over well with them. Yet against the other big boys who would inevitably improve it would be a test of their mettle to see if they could keep up with the top four.

What I Received: They have beaten both Chelsea and City relatively comfortably. They have not been phased by Liverpool or Arsenal either. Even their loss against United wasn’t something to be ashamed about. They have lost just twice this season and yet the signs are that the best is yet to come from this squad as they look at the rest of the season as genuine title contenders.

What I Expect: Spurs only faltered in the final game last season which shows that to a degree they have some staying power. The test will be harder this time around, though, with the quality of opposition being stronger than last season. They are legitimate challengers though and so another top four finish is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Progress Grade: A – Really and truly this team should not be in the top two. That they have done this with some to spare is great credit to their squad management and to the manager himself who is doing a great job. Should they finish in the top four again, I would contend strongly that Pochettino is the best manager Spurs have had in the Premier League era.

Liverpool:

What I Expected: OK, so there’s my bias towards Liverpool which has a preference of looking for the best from the Reds. Yet the team finished way outside the top five last season. So a reasonable target for them was to lift themselves to be challenging for a top four place.

What I Received: They have done slightly better than I expected. Like Spurs they have only lost twice. When you consider that those defeats were against Bournemouth and Burnley, both away, it says a lot for the way Liverpool have done this season. To the degree that pundits are critiquing their performance on the basis of title contenders. That’s some feat that the squad have shown in improving to that degree. The attack most times has been a sensation to appreciate reflected in being the top goalscorers in the league and their pressing game has been good. Questions are still put about their defensive capabilities, but that has not deflected from the fact that they have done better than expected.

What I Expect: The squad depth gets tested at these times of the season. Even without European competition this Liverpool team are being asked questions about their ability to cope without players due to international commitments and injuries. With some tricky matches coming up, if they can negotiate through them as well as they have done so far, they should feel confident about a top four place.

Progress Grade: A – Many predicted that Liverpool would be competing for the top four. Not so many predicted that Liverpool would be listed as a title contender. Even less would see the Reds being ahead of City and United.

Arsenal:

What I Expected: This one is interesting. If you read this blog for any length of time you’ll know that Arsenal are a constant source of intrigue to me. Arsenal fans rightly expected their team to be proper and true title contenders this season. I didn’t expect them to be title contenders because of how reliable they are at flattering to deceive settling for their usual top four finish.

What I Received: To a large degree Arsenal have lived up to expectations. There’s talk about a change in their mentality, but that’s not reflected in their league position. They can steamroller teams, their attack is very good and on paper their defence should be a lot better that it has been with the cover they’ve bought in to make the midfield harder to pass through. For all that, though, their league position at the moment is a reflection of how they are doing and have been doing for years.

What I Expect: Maybe in the second half of the season they will rally to the cause, making the most of those around them dropping points and putting on the sort of run that will see them seriously competing to be the Premier League champions. Nope. Can’t see it. This is Arsenal. Their goal as ever will be to finish top four and above Spurs – and that goal is not that straightforward with how Spurs are doing and how those behind them will snap at their heels.

Progress Grade: B – I eventually gave them a B rather than a C not because they are doing well but because they are not disappointing that much out of character. They are not bang average. They are doing well … kinda. Though it just feels like typical Arsenal – but take the B grade and be done with it.

Man City:

What I Expected: City not finishing in the top three last season was baffling. An astonishing failing on a team that is built to challenge for the title. Never mind, though, because here comes Guardiola and some new signings purchased with a lot of money. With the stars they already have there is no wonder they are being tipped as winners of the league. Maybe I edged it to their Mancunian cousins, but there’s no doubt they should be right up there scrapping to the end.

What I Received: Errrrrr … Well this is odd. It’s January and Guardiola has already thrown in the towel saying they ain’t gonna win the league. I mean at the start of the season they were racing away with it, consecutive wins to the double digits and scoring goals for fun. They were doing that without Yaya Toure too. To say the momentum has stopped would be an understatement. Five defeats already in the league – five!! I am still shaking my head at just how poorly they have done. I want to put it down to Pep adjusting to the league and all the other transitional stuff you can throw out. Seriously, though, ten points off the top and a defence that looks as solid as soaked bread. It’s just incredible to observe.

What I Expect: For some reason, there’s something in me that says that the club itself just won’t stand for this kind of form. They won’t treat it like a settling in season. They will snap out of it and turn on some more form to the end of the season to pursue a place in the top four and a better taste to the end of the season. They have the players to do it and that’s what I am expecting.

Progress Grade: C – You could argue they should get a lower grade than this. You could make a very good argument indeed, but their placing in the league especially where the points are concerned still says the beginning of the season was enough to keep them in the hunt for a top four place – maybe even as high as second. In that reading it would be wrong to give them a low grade. They are certainly not deserving, however, of anything higher than this.

Man Utd:

What I Expected: Mourinho, Pogba, Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan. United were not messing around. They would put the disappointment of the previous season behind them and just blast off to the top of the table. While others were singing the praises of Guardiola and mocking Mourinho for the way his Chelsea stint ended, I retained faith in Mourinho. I thought his knowledge of the league and the big players joining the club would just get them off to a flying start.

What I Received: Writing this in January if I told you that United went on a 15 match unbeaten run and only saw a good winning streak stopped by a draw against Liverpool, you would have thought that sounded promising. If I told you they were in sixth place, you would rightly be scratching your head. If I went on to tell you that they had lost as many games as Chelsea in first place you would be mystified even further. Therein, however, is the story of what has been a slow start to the season. That slow start has been costly not even for the losses, but for the draws. For all that though, their performances have been better than under LvG and of recent times their signings have been living up to their billing as top footballers. Their current relentless style is saying volumes about the rising confidence back at Old Trafford. It’s taken time, though, as frustrating draws have now turned to clinical victories.

What I Expect: It’s odd to say looking at the five teams above them, but I expect United to finish in the top four. I expect it because they are actually still improving. Mourinho has crafted a style of play utilising the resources at his disposal and now United are a threat wherever they go. They go into matches believing they should win and can win and that makes the world of difference to this team. This is something that is not scheduled to end whatever the opposition. Their star quality as well can see them beat the others from the top five (other than Liverpool who they have already played twice) even Chelsea.

Progress Grade: C – They have not done as well as they should have done with what they have on offer. But they are definitely moving in the right direction and still improving, which should be a concern to the teams above them.

Everton:

What I Expected: To be honest it was an interesting thing considering what Everton could achieve in the season. They didn’t make that many outstanding signings and they have been underachieving for a while. I expected them to do better than last year, Koeman was a step up from Martinez and so it was reasonable to expect them to do better.

What I Received: If you go by the league placing then Everton can’t complain at all. If you go by the performances, though, then there might be the odd issue with how Koeman is settling in. Some performances have been questionable and yet from that there emerges the result against City that reinforces their position in the table.

What I Expect: More of the same really. They have made a couple of signings and may make one or two more but their idea of trajectory upwards is stymied by the fact they are nowhere near good enough to challenge the top six yet. They can certainly look at being more consistent and strong in their playing identity and of those outside the top six they remain the most likely to finish in the highest golden mediocre spot.

Progress Grade: C – Have they done that much better than expected? Nope. Have they done that much worse than expected? Nope. Have they kinda hit where you would expect a team like them to end up? Yep. That is the devastation of bang average.

West Brom:

What I Expected: West Brom are the type of club that might flirt with relegation, but they’re not really going to get relegated. They are not going to do much else either but meander around the lower reaches of the table.

What I Received: The start of the season saw the type of West Brom I was expecting. Then, seemingly out of nowhere West Brom turned into a team that … scored goals. In a couple of those matches a Tony Pulis team was even entertaining. Yeah I can’t believe it either, but it’s true. They scored goals, won matches and got themselves in the top half of the table. You look at the table now and they’re still there.

What I Expect: They have done well enough to establish their credential as a Premier League club again. A combination of the quality of the squad they already have, the points they have accumulated and those below them means I don’t even expect West Brom to dally with relegation, really. They will dip, they will lose matches, but they will do enough to even contemplate the idea of even finishing in the top half of the table.

Progress Grade: B – They are doing far better than expected without going over the top and saying they are having an outstanding season. It’s good progress from the side to be able to do better than expected at this stage of the season. Who knows what might happen if they strengthen the squad as Pulis desires. For now fans shouldn’t have too much to gripe about with their football life at the Hawthorns.

Stoke City:

What I Expected: Mark Hughes is at that tricky stage as a manager. He is not settling down anymore. He’s not working anything out at the club anymore. He is well established at Stoke City and the overall signs are relatively positive as to his impact. He now has to take that another step by doing well in the league. They should be among those who would think it’s only tight that they finish in the top half of the table.

What I Received: The start to the season was horrific. At one stage it even looked like the pressure would get too much for them. Thankfully they have managed to turn that around and climbed well above the relegation zone. They are even in the top half of the table, which must make them wonder where they would be if they hadn’t started the season so badly.

What I Expect: They are currently in the top half and although they don’t look capable of troubling Everton in 7th place, they should have enough to make a competitive effort of gaining a top half finish.

Progress Grade: C – That start of the season cannot be brushed off and although the reaction has been positive, fans are right to still feel the jury is out as to whether or not they really are making progress.

Burnley:

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Bournemouth:

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West Ham:

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Southampton:

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Watford:

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Leicester City:

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Middlesbrough:

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Crystal Palace:

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Hull City:

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Sunderland:

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Swansea:

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It is a fascinating thing to see how things will end up at the end of the season. There’s much intrigue in terms of how the top four will turn out. Those who are battling against relegation will find it even tougher in the final months of the season and it will truly be that collection of players who can muster some degree of teamwork to make it work. So much to look forward to as the second half continues. As ever …

Let’s see how it goes.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Fences – Movie Review by Chris Stuckmann 

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I am posting this not because I have seen the film. I am posting this because over 2016 Stuckmann has been one of my favourite reviewers. I take his views seriously and enjoy how he shares his perspective. He is definitely someone I recommend for movie reviews. 

I might even give the film a check. Enjoy. 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Captain America: Civil War – Movie Review by Chris Stuckmann

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I watched the film yesterday and I was suitably impressed. I went into the film with high expectations and it exceeded them. I could go on and do my own review, but to be fair Chris Stuckmann has done a review that shares my own thoughts on the matter very well. He absolutely nails it.

Enjoy.

Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

About The Reading

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So what happened with all the book reviews on AF? there is a good reason. (Source: http://www.poshseven.com/)
So what happened with all the book reviews on AF? there is a good reason. (Source: http://www.poshseven.com/)

One thing that this site is known for is the book reviews.

There haven’t been as many book reviews posted of late, but that is not because I don’t like reading anymore. Indeed, part of the reason for blogging is exactly because I love words and one expression of that has been the written word.

I have not fallen out of love with reading at all. What I noticed of late, however, is my preference to shorter form reading such as blogs. I have been a big fan of first Google Reader and when that was put to pasture, I’ve enjoyed Feedly. I have tended to revert to these as my main outlet for my reading fix. It’s been rare for me to spend quality time making my way through an actual book.

It's not just writing blogs that fascinate me, but reading them as well has taken up considerable time. Source: http://www.madrasgeek.com/)
It’s not just writing blogs that fascinate me, but reading them as well has taken up considerable time. Source: http://www.madrasgeek.com/)

Part of that has been a convenience thing. I tend to either use a laptop or smart device and I had not really got into reading books online. I preferred the blogs or other online reading material like the articles on Wikipedia.

Late last years, though, things began to change. No, physical books didn’t become a big deal for me again. E-books did though. The format of putting books on pdf was a good transition because I was used to dealing with those formats. Recognising the was of dealing with them as short form reading material made it easier when they got a bit longer. The massive breakthrough came when someone pointed me to being able to read books online and seeing how much more convenient they were on the laptop or mobile device than ever before. I had already been impressed with what I could carry on my device wherever I went, to realise that an entire library could be at my fingertips with the ease of accessibility of Amazon Kindle books and Google Play books was a big eye opener.

This is something I wholeheartedly endorse. Reading and walking. You won't bump into the lampost anymore than you would just walking. (Source: http://gatherednettles.files.wordpress.com/)
This is something I wholeheartedly endorse. Reading and walking. You won’t bump into the lampost anymore than you would just walking. (Source: http://gatherednettles.files.wordpress.com/)

I am one of those who was reading when walking long before the text-walk thing became a thing. I remember reading whilst walking as long back as when I did paper rounds and helped myself to perusing the material I was delivering before I delivered it. Heh! I can recall many a Sunday morning strolling along reading the sports pages of one newspaper going into one letterbox and then contrasting those stories with a different paper that would be going to a different location. Good times.

When I discovered the ease with which I could make my way through a book whilst walking, it was an opportunity too good to be missed. So as of late it’s been a delight trundling through an autobiography or two on my way to a from work. That has perked up my interest in reading books again and with that should see the welcome back of more book reviews on this blog.

Good thing too, because it’s great to have a reading experience and then share that with others whether they are influenced by the review or not. So expect to see some sprinkled on the blog in the coming weeks and months.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Liverpool Reflections – The Rodgers Reign Thus Far

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(Source: danlynch.org)
(Source: danlynch.org)

This time last year my thoughts on Dalglish’s time at the club as he celebrated a year in the job, were somewhat reserved.  Looking back and reading that article now, it might appear to some to be a rather optimistic perspective, after all, this is the same piece that suggested we could still finish in the top 6.  Indeed it went as far as to say anything less would not be progress.

When the 2011-12 season finished I gave a three part look at the Liverpool Problem, the third part of which suggested that Liverpool could realistically look to improve on the abject 8th place finish and possibly look to break into the top 6.  I even stuck my neck out to put Liverpool as 6th in my PL predictions.

He has been at the club for over 6 months now but his start at the club has not been overwhelmingly positive. (Source: mirror.co.uk)
He has been at the club for over 6 months now but his start at the club has not been overwhelmingly positive. (Source: mirror.co.uk)

Now as we start 2013 Liverpool currently are 5 points away from 6th place.

It is strange being a Liverpool fan at the moment.  It certainly does not make sense to clamour for Rodgers head as yet.  The guy has only just begun and the managerial merry-go-round at Anfield in the last 3 years would make another sacking all the more unsettling,  I would imagine most Liverpool fans would be still looking to give Rodgers time.

Sterling has made a promising start to his first team stint at the club. But he still needs to be used carefully. (Source: telegraph.co.uk)
Sterling has made a promising start to his first team stint at the club. But he still needs to be used carefully. (Source: telegraph.co.uk)

Unlike the Hodgson stint, there has been seeds of promise in the Rodgers reign so far.  Raheem Sterling’s emergence as a first team regular and potential game changer has certainly been encouraging.  The number of young players who have been on the fringes in the Hodgson/Dalglish days but are now more prominent in the scheme of things have as a whole not let Liverpool down with their effort.  There has even been some noticeably decent contributions from maligned Dalglish signings like Downing and Henderson.

Agger and Skrtel are the right centre back pairing at Liverpool, but our defensive record this season has not reflected their quality. (Source: sabotagetimes.com)
Agger and Skrtel are the right centre back pairing at Liverpool, but our defensive record this season has not reflected their quality. (Source: sabotagetimes.com)

These are not enough, however, to hide the fact that Liverpool’s position in the league is not good enough, even accounting for the changes in style and philosophy.  Some performances and expectations from the senior players like Gerrard and the central defensive duo has been lacking.  Some of the elementary mistakes that have been made to let the opposition score has been maddening.  The home form has not improved since last season, which is a concern seeing as though a number of those matches were winnable, and the performances we gave against some of the bigger side, gave reason to believe we could and should have won the other matches.  Not to have done so is disappointing.

Liverpool have missed Lucas during his injury, and hopefully his return can lead to more solidity and consistency in the side. (Source: bbc.co.uk)
Liverpool have missed Lucas during his injury, and hopefully his return can lead to more solidity and consistency in the side. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

As I mentioned, it is odd to be a Liverpool fan at the moment.  The reality is, Liverpool has some quality Premier League players – Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Lucas and Suarez as well as the burgeoning likes of Allen and Sterling.  You look at those players and compare them to those at West Brom and Stoke, and it is still baffling that those clubs are above us in the table.

It is also true, however, that the state of the PL is such that with more consistency in performance and result that 5 point gap could be reduced and overtaken.  For all the frustration of the Rodgers reign, there is enough to believe there is hope for Liverpool to still finish well this season – by which I refer to that top 6 finish.

After the dismal transfer activity of the Summer,there has been clamour for new signings and especially the need of a striker.  Is Sturridge the answer? (Source: sport360.com)
After the dismal transfer activity of the Summer,there has been clamour for new signings and especially the need of a striker. Is Sturridge the answer? (Source: sport360.com)

Some have pointed to the lack of strikers at the club, which is an issue, but is odd considering Liverpool have scored the 3rd most goals away from home this season so far.  There are critics who have suggested our Summer transfer activity wasn’t good enough and the fact that we’re relying on so may young players is proof of that.  The answer however is not about splurging cash out to try and bring in players.

It’s all well and good thinking that because they have PL experience they can do a job at Liverpool, but it is not always the case. It highlights how careful you have to be in the transfer window, the Dalglish signings are evidence of that.    Identifying the right fit to make an immediate impact at a club that is not in the running for a top 4 finish becomes that much harder a challenge.  And January in any case has never been the best time to truly bring in the crucial key players that can make all the difference.

He may not be getting everything right, but there is still enough to believe that Rodgers deserves his chance to shape Liverpool his way. (Source: tomkinstimes.com)
He may not be getting everything right, but there is still enough to believe that Rodgers deserves his chance to shape Liverpool his way. (Source: tomkinstimes.com)

If the club can bring in two or three players who can assist in squad development and offer variety for first team and squad places, then that has got to be a positive thing. The issue, however, is more about making the most of who we already have.  I appreciate Rodgers is installing his philosophy into the club, yet it is still about being pragmatic enough at the right times, to allow the changes that can win games or salvage points.  More than that, as ever in games of football, it is about all 11 players on the pitch making the most of their undoubted ability to gel together and be defensively resolute as well as clinical in scoring goals and not relying on Suarez to carry the load.

I reckon it’s my stance in life to be optimistic, even if it has been misplaced in recent years.  Yet I have to remain hopeful that Liverpool can indeed bring in the few players who can make that crucial contribution and the players can settle down to putting in consistently good performances from now to the end of the season.  I’m not bothered about domestic trophies this season.  Still being in the Europa League is good experience, but is not a priority to me as a Liverpool fan at all.

This season I want Liverpool to finish higher than 8th.  Despite at times appearing brittle and inflexible at times, I believe there is enough quality at the club to make that a reality.

Shalom

dmcd

The End Of The World – Dr. Who Review

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What Happened:

Rose (Billie Piper) has accepted the Doctor’s (Christopher Eccleston) invitation to go for a spin and see the sights. In a bid to impress his friend, he takes her 5 billion years in the future where the sun expands and it is to all intents and purposes literally the end of the world.

The Doctor and Rose are on an observation deck viewing the end of the earth. The Doctor uses ‘psychic paper’ to get permission to witness such an illustrious event for the rich. Among the guests are a delegation of tree-people lead by Jabe (Yasmin Bannerman) and the last human being a flat piece of skin called Cassandra (Zoe Wannamaker). The threat is caused by what appears to be an invasion of the deck by electronic beings controlled by Cassandra who is looking for one last big pay day, until the Doctor interferes.

The spectre of death and the Doctor that was indirectly introduced in the first episode is comes more to the fore in this episode. Its impact on the Doctor gives a good indication of what he has to deal with.

Some of the parts that worked in this episode featured the Doctor and Jabe giving us insight into the main character

DMCD Comment

This episode is good as a way to further introduce us to the world of life with the Doctor from the companion’s perspective. In this case the viewer like the companion has never travelled with the doctor and doesn’t know what it’s like to be with him in what is an alien experience.

In the earlier parts of the episode we see the Doctor’s more whimsical and friendly side, but aspects of the performance come across as rather contrived. When it comes to the identity of the Doctor and he becomes defensive because of his past, Eccleston is more on form and more comfortable.

The story is at its most touching when it explores aspects of the Doctor’s character and where he’s coming from. That gives us ground to feel more for the character and have more interest in the story. In that aspect the episode acts more as a set up to know more about what the Doctor does and who he is, than actually the threat of the plot itself. It serves the purpose, without making it that memorable an episode.

Cassandra wasn’t all that for a villain in the piece.

The budding chemistry between him and Piper is at a good place here – lots of sympathy for her, and lots of intrigue into wanting to learn more about him.

Rose’s display of getting used to the culture shock of time travel and engaging with aliens is very good. Especially earlier on as she works out that she’s just gone off with a complete stranger to the middle of nowhere.

What is important about episodes of Doctor Who is that the threat is real, and that was accomplished the good old fashioned way with a countdown. That still worked a treat.

Of the other characters, Bannerman as Jabe did a sterling job giving us more of who the Doctor is and what he gets people to do when they come alongside him. Cassandra was rather unconvincing as a villain of the piece, despite Zoe Wannamaker’s best efforts.

The Doctor’s performance in the piece typified the episode – some of his bits worked, like when he was serious. Some of his bits didn’t work, like when he wasn’t serious.

Once again I’m not that big a fan of the incidental music used in this episode. It’s rather like the music hasn’t moved on that much from the Casio keyboard bland muzak that afflicted the Colin Baker/Sylvester McCoy dying years of the initial series. Also some of the humorous efforts come off well, and others don’t work as well.

That sums up this episode rather well. Some aspects work, some not so well. At least we get to know a bit more about the Doctor and we are invested in discovering more about him through the adventures with his companion. (DMCD Rating – 61% = 6/10)

Shalom

dmcd

Rose – Dr. Who Review

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Following last week’s introduction to the review series, here is the first one!

In April 2005 the BBC broadcast the first episode of a new series of an old classic.  The decision to bring back the programme that had claimed a huge following since its inception in 1963 was viewed with a great deal excitement and anticipation.  Now it was a case of whether the show would live up to expectations.  Here’s me review.

What Happened:

It is London, England, Earth in the modern era. The day starts and we see what appears to be a typical day in the life of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) who works at a department store. She has a boyfriend called Mickey (Noel Clarke). She lives with her Mum, Jackie (Camille Coduri). There is nothing special about her.

On this particular day, however, she has a peculiar encounter after work when on investigating some off goings-on in the department store. The dummies are moving towards her and they don’t look friendly. It is then that she comes across a strange figure who grabs her by the hand simply tells her to run. They make good their escape and it is then that she’s introduced to the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) who informs her that it’s no student prank, but something a bit more serious. When they reach outside, he tells her to scarper as things could get explosive, sure enough when she looks back at the department store the top of it explodes.

Billie Piper as Rose on her introduction to the role does a very good job.

As he traces aspects of the links back to Rose’s place, we’re introduced to the quirks of the Doctor in terms of his ability to read books quickly, know an alien and a gay when he sees one and also get accustomed to what appears to be a new face for him. After a brief kerfuffle with a living plastic arm, Rose looks to find out from the Doctor exactly what is going on. He explains the nature of the living plastic and its plans.

He also gives a little insight into who he is in the hope that she’ll forget him. It’s clear however, that she will not easily forget the mysterious Doctor, especially when she hears a wheezing noise coming not too far from where she leaves him and notices the strange blue box that was around has gone and so has the Doctor.

As Rose investigates she comes across a guy called Clive (Mark Benton) who is obsessed with this Doctor. It is clear that this Doctor has been around quite a bit in Earth’s history. Meanwhile Mickey, who takes Rose to Clive, has an transforming encounter with the living plastic. Rose at first doesn’t notice what’s wrong with her boyfriend until the Doctor pops along and removes his head.

Christopher Eccleston as the first Doctor of the new series hits the ground literally running.

As they run from the plastic Mickey, Rose is introduced to the TARDIS and gets that whole ‘it’s bigger on the inside than the outside’ experience as well as getting to know other aspects of the alien that is The Doctor.. He heads for the source telling Rose of the Nestene Consciousness and likewise Rose helps the Doctor discover where the source could be. With the fate of her boyfriend in question, a world conquest and sensing something exciting about being with The Doctor she goes with him to get to the bottom of things.

The Doctor approaches the Consciousness in the hope of giving it a chance to leave on its own. Noting however the advanced technology of the TARDIS the Consciousness take that as a threat and initiate the invasion stage, which obviously starts in London with plastic dummies becoming living attacking forces.

It is a new series that maintains the old favourites like the ever popular figure of the old Police Box.

With mayhem and disaster all around and Rose’s Mum at the centre of it all, Rose plucks up the courage to save the day, distracting the holding dummies and dumping the anti-plastic into the heart of consciousness stopping the link and rendering the living plastic back to dummies.

The crisis averted, The Doctor invites Rose to go on board and join him on his journeys. Initially she declines, but he returns to inform her that as well as space travel, the TARDIS travels through time. With no job and little prospects where she is, even with a boyfriend, Rose finds the possible excitement of further adventure too enticing and leaving Mickey behind, she runs into the TARDIS.

DMCD Comment

Huge kudos to one of Britain’s best television creators for applying his brilliant writing mind to getting Dr. Who off and running so well. (Source: collider.com)

Russell T. Davies, the Executive Producer and Head Writer, takes on an unenviable task. Take an iconic programme that has been off regular broadcasting for the best part of 16 years and introduce new viewers to it, whilst also appealing to those who watched that classic series. Do that in 45 minutes with aspects of the new and old in a way that is entertaining and engaging. The fact that seven years later the programme remains one of the BBC’s big money-spinners is testament to the success of this first series and most importantly this first story.

I remember the excitement I had watching this in April 2005. What was the new Doctor going to be like? What would the production values be like? What was the story going to be like? I am glad that they answered those questions overall in a positive manner.

The story is centred around Rose – which is good seeing as though that’s the name of the episode – and we see things from her perspective very well, from the intrigue in coming across the Doctor and the curious interest in who he is to the danger associated with him, the shock of the new and the fascinating insight into what he opens up. Credit goes to Billie Piper in her performance as Rose. Above all else you believe she is who she is.

Eccleston as the Doctor is already the Doctor. There is no nervous first performance. From the moment he tells Rose to run he is comfortable in the skin of the alien. His characterisation already belies different elements of the Doctor from the tendency to be whimsical and funny, to the weariness of a Time Lord who has experienced some of the grim aspects the universe offers. It’s an assured performance and leans neither to the boring or being over the top.

Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler is an instrumental figure in understanding the ‘normal’ life that Rose Tyler leads.

In some places the music is rather cheesy. So for example in the scene in which we’re introduced to the Doctor as he rescues Rose, the music just comes across … naff. It’s not off-putting a lot, but it does detract from the significance of the scene it plays in.

Although the Doctor and Rose character works, some like Mickey just come across a little bit underdeveloped.

The writing of the episode, however, is very good. It introduces the key characters and the aspect of danger and death always following the Doctor. The use of the Clive character is very good in giving insight into who the Doctor is and encapsulating those key elements.

Overall this first episode is a success in launching the highly valued programme again. It has action, laughs and character development and it engaging. It also establishes a good point of reference for future episodes. (DMCD Rating – 68% = 7/10)

Shalom

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