Poltergeist (2015)

Clowns feature heavy in this version – get over it!!

I have a bad habit. I buy Films and never get around to watching them until some weird urge catches me, and I realise my bad habit isn’t so bad, it’s just forward planning. A few months back, I really wanted to watch the original Poltergeist film, I didn’t have it and I couldn’t find it on any of the streaming services I am subscribed to. Now, it’s all over the shop.

So, while I was shopping for the original, the two sequels and the 2015 remake accidentally fell in my shopping basket, stuff like that happens to me all the time.

Well, fast forward to this week and I decide that it’s time to start watching some of these Blu-Rays that are starting to take over my house; I swear rabbits don’t breed as fast as these bloody films. I chose the remake of Poltergeist as my Mum claims to never have seen it, yet I could have sworn we watched it together ages ago. Who am I to argue.

As an analogy the Poltergeist (1982) is like a delicious three-course Meal with a decent bottle of Wine to accompany it. It will fill you up and you will remember it for a long time after, whereas the remake is kind of like a Quarter Pounder Burger with Fries and a Milkshake from McDonald’s, it tastes ok, but it pretty much tastes the same as the last one you had and will probably taste the same as the next one. There really isn’t anything distinguishing about the remake. It’s a good film and it alters the story just enough that it has some originality to it, but it isn’t in any way memorable as the original.

You know that THAT line is going to be dropped somewhere in the film and it is, but it is thrown away in an offhand way

It just aint the same y’ know

Megan is stood in front of the TV and casually turns around and informs everyone…. “They’re Here.” There is no innocence like Carol Anne gave in the original, it wasn’t memorable.

I keep getting drawn back to the fact that this film is pretty much done by numbers and doesn’t really offer much to the Poltergeist legacy. This film deserved to be made, but maybe not as a remake of Poltergeist, they should have the balls to take the Poltergeist premise and run with it in a different direction. It should have stood on its own and been something…more.

 It is a shame as the cast are great. Sam Rockwell is great (mind you, I still can’t get his flip-top head from Hitchhikers Guide from my mind) he leads the film with an understated anger and disbelief of what is happening around him until his family really need him to step up and lead. Rebecca DeWitt is also great, I find her more approachable and believable than JoBethWilliams was for the most part in the original. DeWitt silently leads along with Rockwell, I wouldn’t call her a lead in the film, she feels more like serious support. The kids in the film range from Annoying to Blah. The son, up to the third act of the film is just like sandpaper in ya pants. He really is designed to annoy the audience to rile them up into some form of anxiety; you know that anxiety where you wish a bloody great tree would fall through the house and“shut him up” – redemption comes for him in the aforementioned third act when he goes all gung-ho and charges into the spectral netherworld to save his sister. It is only at this point you feel anything other than annoyance at the child. Even after the supposed sacrifice, it is all over so quickly with no real danger, that you quickly go back to not giving a damn.

As is my way, that is about as much of the plot as you will get from me here. I don’t like spoilers and I won’t divulge them just in case you read this before you see the film. If you haven’t seen and do watch it, please let me know in the comments; if you have seen it, let me know in the comments what you thought.

Class

Class could have been so much more. It could have been the start of a beautiful, new and fresh franchise that could have had legs that ran and ran for years. No, the show wasn’t perfect, and there was enough cheese to create enough Pizza for it’s first run audience. I believe that Class could have been something special, something more than just a Doctor Who spin-off aimed at Teens. To me, the answer to all Class’ problems stems from one glaring issue.

IT WAS LINKED TO DOCTOR WHO!

Yep, if they had found another entrance to the story of how these kids (who didn’t exactly look like kids at all) had met and formed this team of ragtag alien busters, then the show would have survived and would have opened another stream of Science Fiction for the BBC to grow its programme base.

It seems that the BBC wanted something, anything, to bring in that demographic of 15 to 21-year-olds who watch TV on the go. They wanted to try and create that buzz around a new show linked to the Doctor Who universe. Doctor Who had been criticised by the youth market in general for having an older actor play the Doctor after such young bucks as Tennant and Smith and the radical change of Peter Capaldi had made it slightly hard going at first. I believe that Class was first brainstormed when this hue and cry started. 

This pandering to one demographic was the first mistake. Doctor Who is popular because it is Doctor Who. In a way, Torchwood fell into the same trap by trying to sex up the Whoniverse. The audience were apoplectic when the Doctor kissed Rose – any addition of romance was derided by a segment of the audience who thought that this was so far removed from the ethos of Doctor Who that (and excuse the pun) it was alien. I can see why this was, there was no need for any romantic attachments in Doctor Who, it was just an element to get people talking and, in a way, dividing the audience.

Class tried to fill the gap that had been created between Doctor Who and Torchwood. Class had sex, and it had violence, but it was tame compared to Torchwood. There was no needless killing off beloved characters, the ones that did die had no emotion life to them for the audience, the characters who felt something for the person who died had to carry their own emotions and still try to project the emotional output of the person who died. To be quite honest, that didn’t work.

Class should have been anything else but a Doctor Who spin-off. It could, as I have said, been so much more. You have in the Who creative world, some of the most excellent writers in the world ANYWHERE! Why couldn’t the BBC have tapped into that hive mind of brilliance to create new intellectual properties in sci-fi? They could have used 101 different plot devices to get the group together. In fact, they could have used the exact same premise they did for the show except replace the Doctor with some other figurehead. Imagine the premise behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Watcher (Gyles) recruits the next in line to be a Slayer who is predestined to become the Slayer. How about a group of six young people see a phenomenon occur while out on a school field trip, and they try and keep the secret and get embroiled in a galactic battle over the two “visitors” survival. Each one of those scenarios is perfectly valid and with smart writing wouldn’t be a blatant rip off scripts from other shows.

It could have been so much more. The cast (overall) was brilliant. The only let down for me was the character of Ram Singh – the actor portraying him Fady Elsayed had about three different expressions, and he used them ad Infinitum. By the time I got to episode 4, I was considering a drinking game in which expression would appear next. If it wasn’t for the fact I was at my place of work that night, I could have become incredibly drunk, and Ram could have ended up as a tattoo on my leg (hopefully one that doesn’t eat people).

Overall, I enjoyed Class, I enjoyed it more once the first episode was out of the way, and the crowbar use of the Doctor was over and done with. I could forgive the odd reference to him, and the Cliff Hanger ending to the final show could be forgiven if you were taking part in said drinking game as you would be too blotto to realise that the major Big Bad behind the second half of the series was from Doctor Who (no spoilers here folks). I am looking forward to having a nice chunk of time to get stuck into the first two volumes of Class Audio Dramas from Big Finish, from the early reviews I have seen (granted, most of these come from people who hated the TV show) speak of the Audios being really good. I hope I am not the one in the crowd who has the opposite view.

Let me know what you thought of Class in the comments, could it have been a new franchise away from Doctor Who or do you think that it played out well/ poorly in the Whoniverse?

Thanks for reading.

Doctor Who

This is going to one of those posts you read on the internet and can’t believe that someone had the nerve to write it and post it on the internet. I am not here to cause controversy or to stir the pot, but I keep seeing the same question being asked over and over in one form or another, but basically, it boils down to this:

If I don’t watch the classic stories of Doctor Who does that make me any less of a fan?

Or

Is Old Who better than New Who?

I am going to lay out my thoughts on this and all I ask of you, the reader, is that you remember EVERYONE has an opinion just like everyone has a butthole. There is nothing you can do to change someone’s opinion just like you can’t change someone’s butthole. That’s probably not a very pretty analogy, but it’s all I have now.

So, the main thing I want to address is the fact that Old and New Who are two different entities. In one respect I can see the way people think that post-2005 Doctor Who is a different series to the classic series.

I want to state something obvious and quite in your face. The name of the programme is Doctor Who. It began in November 1963 and continues to this day. It is all one series with many interconnecting facets that link old and new. So, the labelling of old and new Who should end here and now (hell, it should NEVER have started in the first place). Doctor Who has been an entity for almost 55 years. It holds the record for being the longest-running science fiction TV show EVER… you see, it’s got a world record for being the longest series, it’s ONE SERIES.

So, the next time you think that watching the Post 2005 series is the be all and end all, then I am afraid, you are technically wrong. Quite apart from missing out on over 30 years of great Doctor Who stories, you are missing out on the history of what is only hinted at in the post-2005 series. You can read all the blurbs and quick fix guides to The Daleks or The Cybermen etc, but you will never understand what they are about if you don’t venture back to the 1963/64 serial The Daleks with William Hartnell in the lead role. It doesn’t make you any less of a fan if you chose not to do this, but just imagine if you read Lord of the Rings without reading the Hobbit to get the full story of how Bilbo got the ring. The film may give a ten-second catch up of what happened, but it’s more, so much more than that.

I do understand that early Doctor Who can be quite slow to get through if you aren’t really invested in wanting to watch it. I am a HUGE fan of the older stuff, but trust me, if I am not in the right mood for it, I too can find it quite hard to sit still through 6 episodes of The Mind of Evil with Jon Pertwee, but given a good chance, you’ll be rewarded with a great romp and an adventure that will give you one more story to talk with friends with or to write about.

I really want to emphasise the point that if you choose not to watch the older stories you are less of a fan than someone who has only seen the last Peter Capaldi series. If you dig the Madman in His Box in any of his guises, then you are a Whovian and you are more than welcome in my comments section.

Let me know who your Doctor is or your reasoning to counter my thoughts. Leave a comment or drop me an email using the comment form.