Shetland Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Shetland
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 6
  • Discs: 2
  • Network:  BBC (Produced by ITV Studios)
  • Cast: Douglas Henshall, Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson
  • DVD: R1, NTSC DVD
  • General Information: Based on the mystery novels by Ann Cleeves

The third season of Shetland is all one single mystery and at six hour-long parts you would think that it feels overly long, however, it doesn’t – it just feels almost like a real case, with the police pursuing multiple lines of inquiry, rather than simply running into red herrings. The season opens on a car ferry to the Shetland Islands, a 12-hour trip. A young woman witnesses an altercation between an older man and a younger man. When the older man pushes the younger one and falls, then leaves, she rushes over to the younger man. She finds out the young man is named Robbie, and the two get to talking and then share drinks in the onboard bar. But the next morning, Robbie is nowhere to be found. The girl, Leanne, reports him as missing to desk Sgt. Billy, but at first, he pooh-poohs her. Later, the police, under Perez, treats the case as a missing person case. Perez interviews the other man that Leanne described, who is known as Michael McGuire. When he returns to the station, his boss, Rhona, tells him that McGuire launched a complaint – accusing Perez of intimidation, harassment and using bad language. Perez is stunned. Rhona just tells him to stay away from McGuire.

A few days later, Robbie’s body is found at the recycling center. But before Perez, Sandy, and Tosh have even gotten the body down from a claw used to move old clothing and such – they receive a call. The local Shetland police are to have nothing to do with the case, it’s to be left to mainland police. Perez is confused. He and his team investigate quietly, and also head to Glasgow to get to the bottom of it. Perez is able to have Cora, his forensic pathologist unofficially look at the body. She isn’t able to do a full autopsy, but she tells Perez that the boy, Robbie, was locked in the shipping container and suffocated. Perez knows he must have been put into the container on the ferry by a person or persons unknown. He also eventually discovers that although the doors to the car storage area are normally locked, and all car ferry passengers are required to stay in the ferry’s passenger areas – one of the doors had a broken lock and the light by the security camera was broken.

Perez continues to do what he can do, investigating what he can, despite the stonewalling by higher levels of his own department. Then a sniper shoots Leanne and McGuire. Perez then finds out part of the story – McGuire is actually Michael Thompson. He was placed in witness protection because he was going to testify against Arthur McCall – a mobster and major player in the drugs scene in Glasgow. Perez and his team quickly realize that Michael and Leanne were shot by a professional hit man. Again, Perez and his team go to Glasgow. By this point, the police realize they made a mistake in not telling Perez who Thompson was. Perez also starts to become attracted to the witness protection officer who was Thompson’s handler, even though she had concocted the fake complaint against him and had set up a fake alibi as well.

Perez, Sandy, and Tosh become more and more involved in the investigation into McCall, who is now free since the case against him collapsed without Thompson’s testimony. McCall threatens Perez. Tosh is picked up at the airport by one of McCall’s men, kidnapped, threatened, and raped. Perez finds out that Michael left an answering machine message for his wife, but it’s badly garbled. Cleaning up the audio leads to the Level Nine club in Glasgow, and an old report of an attack on Burns Night. That investigation turns up some interesting history (especially considering what’s just happened to Tosh). Eventually, Perez and his team discover some police corruption and who ordered the hit on Thompson – but it seems to be completely unrelated to the death of Robbie.

Perez and his team return to Lerwick and start over investigating Robbie’s death. Perez does figure it out and catches the person who did it, and it is a tragic story, but I’m not going to spoil it.

Shetland is a great series. Even though Season 3 is all one long story, it doesn’t feel drawn-out, rather it’s like the real twists and turns and changes of focus one can imagine might actually happen in a real case. This season also expands the show – have Perez and his team flying back and forth to Glasgow and introducing some of the police officers there. We still get to see some of the wild beauty of the Shetland Islands, but we also see a lot of Glasgow. I enjoyed Shetland Season 3 and I recommend it.

Read my Review of Shetland Seasons 1 and 2.

Shetland Seasons 1 and 2 Review

  • Series Title: Shetland
  • Season: 1 and 2
  • Episodes: 4 (Stories, each are 2 parts)
  • Discs: 3
  • Network:  BBC (Produced by ITV Studios)
  • Cast: Douglas Henshall, Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson
  • DVD: R1, NTSC DVD
  • General Information: Based on the mystery novels by Ann Cleeves

Red Bones
Season 1 Episode 1 (of 1)

An older woman looks through photographs in an isolated croft in Scotland, specifically the Shetland Islands. She hears something outside, goes outside to investigate, and there’s a gunshot. The next morning, a young police officer, Sandy Wilson is calling for “Mima”. He finds the body on the property and calls it in, but his cell phone signal gives out.

DI Jimmy Perez arrives at the croft and calls his photographer and begins an investigation. He has Sandy call for an ambulance from the landline. Sandy has to plug in the phone to get it working. Later at the station, Perez puts Sandy on leave because he cannot investigate his own family. DI Perez interviews suspects and tries to find out what happened. There is also an archeological dig taking place on Mima’s land near her croft. The dig had recently uncovered a human skull, which isn’t totally unexpected in an archeological dig, but it seems to have precipitated the murder. The village’s annual festival is coming up, and at one point Perez tries to have it canceled, but he fails – the village needs both the tourist money and the change of routine.

The villages in Shetland are beautiful, and the countryside is wild but gorgeous. But all the houses are isolated, and so are the people. Near to Mima’s croft are a richer family, who were the first to have a good-sized fishing trawler on the island, and the rest of Mima’s relatives who are poorer. Everyone from Sandy to all the relatives insists this isn’t a problem.

As Perez investigates further he also looks into the Shetland Bus, a group of fishing boats that aided the resistance and helped people to escape the Nazis in World War II. They brought spies, saboteurs, and money into Norway and came back with refugees. Both Mima’s long-dead husband and Perez’s chief suspect were involved in the Shetland Bus, and the photo Mima was looking at was of the two, plus a third man.

One of the archeological students had also befriended Mima and said she was someone she “could tell anything”. Mima had given her a necklace with an image of Freya, the Norse god of love. Perez discovers that the third man in Mima’s photo was wearing the necklace. This girl, Hattie, calls Perez in distress, but the call drops. Perez treats Hattie as a missing person, and later her body is found at the dig. At first, it looks like suicide, but Perez is convinced it’s murder. He’s proven right by forensics.

The search for the murderer concludes during the festival, and Perez actually hears someone slip and mention the phone being unplugged at the croft, something only Sandy and Perez knew. Perez arrests the murderer and at the festival, the police stop a member of Sandy’s family from killing another relative who seemed suspicious but wasn’t actually guilty.

Shetland – Red Bones is an atmospheric mystery. The scenery is beautiful. The crofts and villages are isolated, which adds to the atmosphere. Everyone carries cell phones but they seldom work because this is very rural Scotland. I also really liked Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez. “Red Bones”, per Wikipedia, is the only story in season one, though the DVD set bundles Season 1 and Season 2 together, so there are three more two-part stories in the set. Recommended!

Raven Black
Season 2 Episode 1 (of 3)

“Raven Black” opens with a Midsummer beach party. Two teenaged girls are starting into a bonfire, as an older and slightly suspicious man stares back at them through the flames. The next morning, one of the girls, Catherine Ross is found dead on the beach. Jimmy Perez will investigate the murder with his team. A tabloid reporter also tries to connect the murder to the disappearance of a young girl nineteen years earlier. Perez sees very little connecting the two crimes – and is fighting public opinion throughout the story.

Catherine and her friend Sally not only attended the party together, but they had, on a dare, visited the “strange recluse” living in an isolated croft on the hill. For many in the nearby isolated Shetland village, the man’s “strangeness” is proof he’s involved. This also becomes an important thread to the story.

At the end of part one of the two-part story, a second body is found buried in the peat – it’s Catriona, the girl who disappeared nineteen years ago. But as Sandy says when Perez and his team are reviewing the case, he could see the recluse, Magnus, “for Catriona, maybe or for Catherine, maybe, but not both”. As it turns out, Catriona’s death was an accident, she fell in the peat cuttings and hit her head on a rock which cracked open her skull and killed her. Catherine’s death is murder, but despite a number of red herrings, it’s a major surprise who actually killed her.

Perez discovers that Catherine was only using her cell phone as a camera. She wasn’t on social media, and she made few calls or texts for a teenager. Magnus receives a gift, a beautiful portrait phot Catherine took on her photo, adjusted with an app, and then printed. The young girl Catherine babysat also receives a gift, an email with a film – Catherine asking questions, “What do you like about living on Shetland? What don’t you like? Tell me a secret.” Perez realizes that between Catherine taking pictures and her film, she may have stirred up something. That her phone was missing, her laptop wiped and even the hard copy notebook of her film project emptied makes the idea even more probable.

Perez starts to look at the older man from the Midsummer’s Party – especially after he finds a clip from Catherine’s film where she accuses him of assaulting young girls. When Sally goes missing, he calls for a search and “obvs” on the suspicious man. He and his sergeant, Sandy, go first to the man’s trucking company and then to his trawler. When Tosh (Alison McIntosh, Perez’s other detective) calls Perez and tells him that the man in question has an alibi, Perez is forced to consider a new suspect – and it’s pretty dark.

Shetland is an atmospheric British mystery series, set in the Shetland Islands, and filmed in Scotland. But against the rural and wild beauty, DI Perez’s territory is full of secrets, intolerance, and harsh conditions. Magnus nearly becomes a scapegoat, and it’s fortunate for him that Perez is more forward-thinking than many of the people in his village. As it is, Perez is forced to put Magnus in protective custody, Magnus’ pet bird is killed by the same people that trashed his place, and Perez discovers Magnus was arrested in 1969 and beaten by corrupt cops. Because of the bad experience, Magnus never told anyone he’d seen Catriona being chased on the moors, though her death did turn out to be an unfortunate accident. The contrast between the wild beauty and the horrors bubbling beneath the surface make Shetland an intriguing series to watch.

Blue Lightning
Season 2 Episode 2 (of 3)

The second episode of the second season of Shetland takes place on Fair Isle, DI Jimmy Perez’s home and a tiny island of just 70 people. The episode opens with some researchers studying birds on the island and a big party that Perez’s daughter is attending. We find out later than the party was for Angus’s 18th birthday. Angus is DI Perez’s godson. But when the lead researcher, Dr. Anna Blake is found dead in her lab the next morning, DI Jimmy Perez and his DS Alison “Tosh” McIntosh arrive to investigate. Soon there is a second murder, Peter Latimer, a graduate student also working with the research team studying the birdlife of the island. To make matters worse, a gale is brewing and Fair Isle’s tiny airport is shut down and there is no way to reach the mainland or the other Shetland Islands until the storm passes. Sandy remains at Lerwick but is involved in the case, doing the legwork for DI Perez that proves vital.

DI Perez and DS McIntosh rush by plane to Fair Isle ahead of the storm and begin their investigation. They discover one of the scientists, Peter Latimer is missing. He’s found and claims he was researching birds, but this is later disproven. Tosh and Jimmy don’t know what he was up to – but they know it wasn’t research. However, by the end of part 1 in this 2-part story, there is an explosion and fire in an abandoned hut or hide and Peter, who is found inside, dies from his injuries. Sandy reports to Perez it definitely wasn’t an accident, Peter was hit on the head from behind.

But Peter isn’t the only question. Perez and Tosh find out a researcher named Finley was taking a lot of secret photographs of Anna Blake. Sandy interviews a woman in Lerwick who Finley had previously stalked. She tells Sandy that Finley sent her creepy pictures of herself after they had one date and she declined to see him again. Finley was cautioned, and eventually, the emails stopped. However, the woman tells Sandy that Finley never attacked or assaulted her. Tosh, however, figures out that if Finley was stalking Anna he might know if she was having an affair. It turns out she was – with Peter. When Perez and Tosh confront Anna’s husband, another researcher on the bird project, he eventually admits he knew about Anna’s affairs, including the one with Peter. Neither Peter nor Tosh at first realize the importance of the word, “affairs”.

Anna and her husband have a son, Joe, who returns from school early at the party. He tries to talk to Angus but is thrown out by his parents (who are great friends of Jimmy’s). Joe keeps trying to contact Angus but fails. Finally, Joe contacts Jimmy and accuses Donnie (Angus’s father and Jimmy’s friend) of murdering Anna. He even accuses Perez of covering up for his friend. DI Jimmy Perez handles this turn of events well, finally discovering that Joe is upset because he and Angus are both gay and started a relationship before he was sent off to school and Donnie had a fit about Angus. Perez lets Joe know that it was wrong that he was mistreated for being gay. But this information leads Jimmy to a new line of inquiry.

Perez and Tosh, with help from Sandy discover that Professor Bill Warren, who claimed he met Anna, her husband, and her son Joe, when they all arrived to do research at the Fair Isle research station was lying. He met her some 18 years before on another research trip. Also, Bill and his wife had a son, David, who died from leukemia. Their David looks a lot like Joe. It becomes clear that Bill and Anna also had an affair, resulting in a son that Anna never told Bill about and that her husband raised as his own. The newest person on the island the night of the party is Bill Warren’s wife, who came to the island to surprise him on their wedding anniversary. She seems anxious to get off the island, especially once the storm is over and the planes start flying again.

I’m not going to spoil who the murderer is, though you might guess. I was a little confused that only one of the two crimes was solved, though. Still, with “Blue Lightning” being set on DI Perez’s home island it added even more to the intimacy of the crime and I liked this story a lot. Jimmy knows everyone involved and is even related to a lot of the major players in the story, so it’s even more personal but he’s extremely professional in his approach to interviews and investigations.

Dead Water
Season 2 Episode 3 (of 3)

The final episode of Season 2 of Shetland begins with DI Perez talking to an old friend of his in the pub. The friend of his is now a reporter in London who has returned to the Shetland Islands for some reason. The friend, Jerry Markham, is a reporter and says he needs to head out so the two end up not having much time to talk and plan to meet up ‘later’. The next morning, the desk sergeant gently tells Perez his friend died the previous night in a car accident. Perez goes out to investigate and seems to find evidence of a suspicious death. His boss sends in an accident investigator and is concerned that Perez may be too personally involved. Meanwhile, there’s to be a wedding in the village that weekend. It’s an open wedding and the entire island is invited. The bride’s friends even put a straw bride and groom on the village sign, to let everyone know about the wedding.

Meanwhile, Sandy is studying for the CID exam. When Sandy goes to investigate Markham’s suspicious accident, he interviews a local salmon farmer, who he finds pulling dead fish out of the water. The salmon farmer has lived on the island his entire life and inherited the farm and land from his father. He blames a new gas company for the death of his fish, saying that the water is bad. Sandy also recovers Markham’s phone, though his laptop is missing. The laptop has pictures of the farm and the Save the Sound protest against the gas pipeline.

Perez, DS “Tosh” McIntosh, Sandy, and the new accident investigator continue to investigate – looking in to the new gas company, which needs the farmer’s land to complete their pipeline, the Save the Sound protest , which was run by the bride to be, Evie, her father, Cameron, and her husband to be, John, and other possibilities. The heavily damaged laptop is recovered and shows an affair between John and the wife of a guy who is in favor of the gas pipeline. But they also discover that someone from the gas company was leaking information about the company to Markham. He also happened to be Evie’s flatmate at university.

Seeing that everything leads back to John, the groom to be, Perez is ready to interview him. The wedding does occur, but there are some high tensions at the village hall party afterward. Tosh and Perez go to John’s house and find it trashed and a lot of blood. They call in the rest of the police and stop the accident investigator from leaving for Aberdeen. It’s the cliffhanger between part 1 and part 2.

In part 2, Perez focuses on Evie and her family. He discovers Evie was embezzling money from the Save the Sound fund so she could buy a house in Edinburgh and escape her smothering father. John found out about it and put the money back. Earlier there had been an attack on the salmon farmer’s house, with graffiti and destruction – including “get out” written in blue marine paint. The paint is common on the islands so it doesn’t seem to be much help. However, Evie had used the same type of paint to paint one of her father’s hand-made boats, and there were flecks of the paint inside the car. Perez discovers Cameron, Evie’s father had had a discussion with Markham. John also talked to Markham, even though he told Perez he didn’t. Bit by bit, Perez puts things together, discovering a lot of goings on – old affairs, Evie’s embezzlement, etc. However, when he finds out who murdered Markham and John and that it goes back to another murder years ago that no one even knew about it turns out to be quite a surprise.

Again, the last mystery in season 2 is set in the wild Shetland Island, specifically in Lerwick and the surrounding areas. The mystery ends-up to involve the lives of the people, and the secrets they keep, rather than big issues like whether or not a gas pipeline will be built. It’s a complicated case. I also found that for this particular one, part 1 and part 2 seemed almost like two completely different mysteries, and the resolution of the case seemed to almost come from nowhere. Still, it’s an enjoyable series and it is recommended.

Cover image of Sonic Boom

Book Review – Doctor Who 12th Doctor Vol. 6: Sonic Boom

  • Title: Sonic Boom
  • Authors: Robbie Morrison
  • Artists: Mariano Laclaustra, Rachael Stott, Agus Calcagno, Fer Centurion, Carlos Cabrera (Colorist), Hernán Cabrera (Colorist), Rodrigo Fernandes (Colorist), Juan Manuel Tumburus (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
  • Line: 12th Doctor
  • Characters: Twelfth Doctor, Julie D’Aubigny, Val, Sonny
  • Collection Date: 2017
  • Collected Issues: Year 2, Issues # 11-15
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/23/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Titan Comics Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor Vol. 6 Sonic Boom is the last book in the second year of the Twelfth Doctor graphic Doctor series. The Twelfth Doctor was played by Peter Capaldi in the British television series, Doctor Who. The Doctor is now traveling alone, and this volume features two stories. In the first story, he lands in France in 1695, where he meets Julie D’Aubigny a swordswoman and opera singer. I also really liked the flashback sequence and art that explains Julie’s character. In France, The Doctor quickly discovers that Cardinal Richelieu is still alive. On his deathbed, the Cardinal began studying dark magic from his secret Dark Library. He was taken over by the alien Darkness. This extended his life but made him even more evil as he feeds anyone who challenges him to the Darkness. The Darkness also wants to use an upcoming eclipse to open Dark Matter portals to take over France. The Doctor with help from Julie and her fantastic singing voice, stop this plan and Richelieu finally dies.

The artwork for this story is fantastic – it really looks like paintings. There’s a darkness to the panels, but it has a sepia edge to it. I loved the art, it was so beautiful. I also really liked Julie, who becomes a one-time companion. First, she’s instrumental to the story as her voice, amplified by the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, is able to defeat the darkness. Second, the character in the story is based on a real person, and the graphic novel has a two-page article at the back that tells her real story. I think this is the first time we’ve seen a real historical person in a Titan Comics Doctor Who graphic novel in this way and I really liked it. I hope we see more.

The second story, which is much shorter, is about a comic book writing team. The Writer, Sonny, and the Artist, Val, publish a successful independent comic called “Time Surgeon”. Yes, it’s a reference to Doctor Who and Titan Comics. Sigh. But the Doctor arrives, picks up the two artists, and gives them a grand tour. He finally takes them to a planet that’s meant to be the home of all sorts of artists, writers, and great thinkers and philosophers. But when they arrive it’s been taken over and free and independent thought outlawed. The Doctor, Sonny, and Val have to find a way to stop the Mind Draining Brain Creatures – which they do. Along the way, Sonny and Val go from snipping at each other to admitting their true feelings. At the end of the story, it’s implied this was the Doctor’s entire purpose for meeting them in the first place, rather than being annoyed by the flatness and poor characterization of their Time Surgeon stories.

The second story was OK, and I actually ended up liking the romance, but it was also a bit short. I don’t like seeing comics parody themselves so the story started in an annoying place but it got better. By the end, it felt like a geeky version of Moonlighting which worked.

Overall, this is still a good volume and I like this series. Recommended.

Cover of Titan's 13th Doctor graphic novel

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – A New Beginning

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – A New Beginning
  • Authors: Jody Houser
  • Artists: Rachael Stott (Artist), Giorgia Sposito (Artist), Valeria Favoccia (Artist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist), Viviana Spinelli (Assistant Colorist), Sarah Jacobs (Letterer), John Roshell (Letterer)
  • Line:  13th Doctor
  • Characters: Thirteenth Doctor, Graham O’Brien, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin (“Yaz”) Khan
  • Collection Date: 2019
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/22/2019

**Spoiler Alert** This is the first volume of Titan Comics Thirteenth Doctor series based on Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal of the Doctor on the BBC television series Doctor Who. The graphic novel also includes her companions, Graham, Ryan, and Yaz (Yasmin). The portal with the hand appears again and the Doctor and her companions help pull the person through. It’s Dr. Perkins who, once he’s stabilized, tells the Doctor his brand-new Vortex Manipulator malfunctioned on his first trip out. The Doctor first realizes that the Manipulator was sabotaged. she volunteers to help Perkins get back to his partner, Dr. Schulz. But Perkins, out of desperation, points a stolen gun at the Doctor and her companions and tries to steal the TARDIS. The Doctor points out what a dumb idea this is, not to mention that the TARDIS has disabled the gun. However, the Doctor agrees to help if Perkins tells her the truth.

It turns out Dr. Schulz and her assistant, Dr. Perkins were experimenting with time travel devices and developed the Vortex Manipulators. But they were captured by an alien they call the Hoarder. He forces them to steal art and jewels and such for him. But when he demands they steal alien and human children, the two put their foot down and refuse. Then the Hoarder poisons one of them and forces the other to steal so the first can get regular doses of the antidote. But Dr. Schulz sabotages Perkin’s Vortex Manipulator and traps him in a time loop.

With this background, the Doctor gets an idea, she has the Army of the Just that she and her companions had encountered earlier go after the Hoarder, who among other things, had stolen a statue of their god, the Judge. This succeeds and the Doctor cures Dr. Schulz and returns her and Perkins to their proper time. The alien children are freed and the Army of the Just even arrests the Hoarder and returns its ill-gotten gains (other than that needed for evidence). The Doctor acquires a robot.

I liked this story. It’s light and fun, and the Doctor and her companions were well-written. I would have liked the story to be longer though. Still, it’s a complete story and a good read. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor
  • Authors: James Peaty, Jody Houser
  • Artists: Iolanda Zanfardino, Pasquale Qualano, Brian Williamson, Dijjo Lima (Colorist), Rachael Stott (Artist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
  • Line:  13th Doctor Prequel
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Gabby Gonzalez, Cindy Wu, Alice Abiefune, Bill Potts
  • Collection Date: 2019
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/20/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor consists of three short stories, one each with the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors and some interstitial pages which directly lead into the first Thirteenth Doctor graphic novel. The graphic novel is also published by Titan Comics who publish a number of tie-in graphic novels to the British Doctor Who television series produced by the BBC.

The first story features the Tenth Doctor, as played on the television series by David Tennant, and his companions Gabby Gonzales and Cindy Wu. The TARDIS lands on a spaceship and the crew step outside only to have a man run right into the TARDIS exterior walls. He yells, “You idiots, you’ve killed me,” only to have a ghostly figure zap the man and kill him. The other crew on the spaceship arrive and take the Doctor and his companions to the control center of the ship. The Doctor tells them he’s with Earthcorp Rescue and finds out the ship is a “ghost ship”, a retired ship put back in service after budget cuts. The Doctor finds this unlikely as their “mission” is to explore an already explored and mapped galaxy. The Doctor is quickly proven right as one of the crew attacks the remaining members and the ghostly figures return and attack. It turns out the ship is on a weapons test. The weapon takes a person’s “aura” and turns it against them to kill that person. Earthcorp plans on using it to kill the indigenous species on planets they want to colonize. The Doctor heads off to the ship’s engine room to stop the weapon, while Gabby and Cindy take the remaining living crew member, Capt. Kelly, to the TARDIS. The Doctor is able to shut down the weapon, and then he returns her to Earth in the TARDIS. Captain Kelly vows to change Earthcorp’s ways.

The Eleventh Doctor and Alice land the TARDIS in 19th Century San Francisco, but the town is filled with anachronistic robots. The Doctor and Alice investigate and find a robot butler at a home – which is startled and kills its owner. The police arrive and the Doctor, the police officer, and Alice take the TARDIS to the harbor. But then the police officer also turns out to be a robot. The Doctor investigates the man who introduced the robots to San Francisco, but the battle drone robots kill him before the Doctor can find out much. The Doctor and Alice are confronted with the robot leader, who is mildly more intelligent than the robots. The Doctor manages to disable the spaceship that controls the robots and they become harmless. He and Alice leave.

The Twelfth Doctor and Bill Potts are in the TARDIS when the Doctor receives a message from Kate Stewart. He arrives in London and sees the city is filled with strange creatures. Kate barely has time to talk to the Doctor before there’s another attack and she’s frozen in time. But the Doctor has an inkling of what’s going on. He soon confronts the Kar-yn, species that had the ability to turn dreams into reality, but when their planet arrived at the end of its lifecycle, they sought to extend their lifespan by creating a memetic archive. A young man on Earth found the archive and activated it. The Doctor confronts the Kar-yn, telling them that instead of preserving their culture they only preserved the death of their planet – a death they were now bringing to Earth. This reverses the Kar-yn’s strategy and saves Earth and London. The young man who found the archive is trapped in his own dream world, a diner where he meets a waitress named Karen.

The interstitial pages consist of a hand reaching out of some type of portal for help, but the Tenth and Twelfth Doctor both fail to grab the hand. The Eleventh Doctor doesn’t even notice the hand or the portal. This mystery will be solved in the next graphic novel, the first to feature the Thirteenth Doctor.

I enjoyed this short graphic novel. All three short stories were good. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who
  • Authors: Richard Dinnick
  • Artists: Mariano LaClaustra, Giorgia Sposito, Brian Williamson, Arianna Florean, Claudia Ianniciello, Iolanda Zanfardino, Neil Edwards, Pasquale Qualano, Rachael Stott, Sarah Jacobs (Letterer), John Roshell (Letterer), Fer Centurion (Inker), Color-Ice (Colorist), Carlos Cabera (Colorist), Adele Matera (Colorist), Dijjo Lima (Colorist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist)
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: First Doctor, Second Doctor, Third Doctor, Fourth Doctor, Fifth Doctor, Sixth Doctor, Seventh Doctor, Eighth Doctor, War Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, River Song, Twelfth Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Susan, Jamie, Polly, Ben, Sarah Jane Smith, Romana II, Tegan, Nyssa, Turlough, Peri, Ace, Josie Day, Jack, Rose, Alice, Bill Potts, Thirteenth Doctor
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/19/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Doctor Who The Many Lives of Doctor Who” is a series of vignettes and short stories, one per Doctor, plus a War Doctor Story, a story with River Song, and a few pages with the 13th Doctor. Each of the stories adds to the idea of the Doctor regenerating into who she will be, for example, the number 13 comes up several times, though in the Thirteenth Doctor’s pages she mentions she isn’t actually the 13th Doctor. The Fifth Doctor story as the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, and Turlough in the cloisters on Gallifrey where they are supposed to be chasing down a renegade Time Lord. But when they find him, he talks the Doctor into helping him use some Gallifreyan tech so he can regenerate. The Doctor agrees, and the other Time Lord regenerates into a woman. We also see both the fourth Doctor, with Romana and the Seventh Doctor, with Ace, solving a problem by meeting someone earlier, which they will do after they did it. The graphic novel itself is very short, and some of the vignettes are only a few pages, while others are full, albeit, short stories. I enjoyed this graphic novel though, and it whetted my appetite for the next two graphic novels in Titan Comics 13th Doctor series. The only flaw in the book is it’s almost too short. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Combat Magicks

  • Title: Combat Magicks
  • Series: BBC Books New Series Doctor Who Adventures
  • Author: Steve Cole
  • Characters:  Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, Graham
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/18/2019

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book in the BBC Books New Doctors line, but I found Combat Magicks better than I remembered the Ninth Doctor books being. This is one of three books featuring the Thirteenth Doctor (as played by Jodie Whittaker on the BBC Series) and her companions, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham. The book opens with everyone in the TARDIS discussing where they want to go next when the TARDIS crashes into something. The TARDIS crash lands, and the Doctor and her companions find themselves in Gaul during Roman times, just before a major battle between the Huns and the Romans.

Speaking of Huns, they meet Attila (the Hun) though at first, he’s incognito as Attila’s first aide de camp. Attila says that the Doctor is a witch, but that’s OK since both he and the Roman commander have been employing witches to help them in combat.

The group is attacked and split up. The Doctor and Yaz are taken to Attila’s camp, Graham is captured by the Romans and assumed to be a wizard after he used some of the Doctor’s healing gel to heal people, and Ryan is captured by the mysterious Legion of Smoke. The Legion of Smoke is fascinating – sort of a Roman Torchwood. They investigate the supernatural but also keep alien tech hidden.

Graham tries to help the Romans where he can and discovers the Doctor’s alien healing gel is poison to the alien Tenctrama, which present as witches to the locals. And the Tenctrama also seem to be carefully avoiding giving either side an advantage. When one side is given genetically-engineered fighting animals, so is the other side, and so it is with every weapon and battle technique that the aliens give to either the Romans or the Huns. As much as they seem to want a level playing field, they also seem to be promoting as much death as possible. And both sides are using their tech to raise the dead as fighting zombie soldiers.

As often is the case, there’s a lot of running around as Graham, Ryan, Yaz, and the Doctor all learn bits and pieces of information slowly to figure out what the Tenctrama are up to, and why the Doctor’s healing gel is poison to them (and any person healed by the gel also cannot be absorbed by the Tenctrama and explodes instead).

The Tenctrama are rather inefficient genetic farmers, taking a thousand years to genetically modify their stock (all humans and animals) and then gaining energy from the animals’ deaths. With help from Liss and Vitus of the Legion of Smoke, Atilla general of the Huns, Aetius general of the Romans, and a few others, the Doctor and her companions are able to defeat the Tenctrama, but not without cost.

I enjoyed this novel. It does follow the typical Doctor Who pattern of splitting up the Doctor and her companions so everyone can discover something and then bringing them back together to trade intelligence and put together a solution, but it’s a well-written story. I liked the historical detail, and it was neat that Attila was portrayed as an intelligent leader with actual goals rather than just being a hacking and raiding barbarian. I loved the Legion of Smoke – rather than being paranoid, they were intelligent and motivated, like Torchwood. Plus, they had prior knowledge of the Doctor, which was a nice bit of continuity.

I recommend Combat Magicks and look forward to getting the other two books in the series featuring the Thirteenth Doctor.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7 Review

  • Series Title: Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Season: 7
  • Episodes: 25
  • Discs: 7
  • Network:  First-Run Syndication (produced by Paramount)
  • Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn
  • DVD: R1, NTSC DVD

The final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as with the rest of the series, suffers from “hitting the reset button” in every episode, lack of an arc plot, and flat character arcs. Additionally, some of the episodes really felt like they had developed and filmed scripts that were rejected earlier in the show’s history – such as when Dr. Crusher is seduced by a ghost or when the main characters de-evolve back into animals. Guinan is gone by this point and she is sorely missed. Wesley Crusher returns for one episode ends up on a vision quest with some “Indians” and joins “The Traveller” in a higher form of existence. The entire episode was extremely uncomfortable because everyone from Picard to Wesley keeps referring to the Native Peoples as “Indians”, a pejorative term. Further, there is no groundwork laid other than in the episode itself for Wesley to suddenly abandon Star Fleet and join the Traveller. The planet Crusher stays on is also in Cardassian territory – leaving him vulnerable and unable to contact the Federation.

In Season 6, Captain Jellico admonished Troi for her unconventional dress sense. She starts to wear a standard blue Star Fleet uniform. In season 7, this lasts for a while, but we also see her in the god-awful lilac jumpsuit with the extremely deep V-neckline. The Star Fleet uniform is actually more flattering. And seriously, I never got why she was allowed to wear whatever she wanted. She’s not a civilian, she’s an officer and she should dress like one.

Ro returns, with a promotion to lieutenant. Picard and the admiral with a bad track record with Cardassians decide to send Ro into deep cover with the Marquis, a Bajoran resistance and freedom fighting group that is challenging the Cardassians. The Federation has signed a new treaty with the Cardassians, which, among other things, moves the border and creates a demilitarized zone. This does come up a couple of times in various episodes. The Cardassians, however, are harassing civilians in the neutral zone and those who have suddenly found themselves in Cardassian territory. It isn’t really surprising when Ro, pushed in a corner by the Federation and its politics decides to resign her commission and join the Marquis. Ro is one of the most fascinating characters in ST: TNG, but it was like the writers didn’t know what to do with her. She was strong-minded, had her own history, had her own culture, and had risen from a childhood of horrors to a Star Fleet lieutenant. Honestly, I would have watched a series about Ro and the Marquis – at least for a season or two.

The final episode is “All Good Things”, a two-hour finale. It brings back Q of course. I actually have always liked John DeLancie as Q, but his character is also a Deus Ex Machina, almost by definition. It’s a little disappointing to see him used to resolve the entire series. Picard seems to be moving back and forth in time, between a future 25 years from the current stardate and a past of the period of the first ST: TNG episode, “Encounter at Farpoint”. Slowly, Picard realizes that by investigating a new space anomaly, he causes it in the future – and if the anomaly of anti-time continues to expand it will threaten all life on Earth because it will never develop in the first place. It is a paradox and realizing it sets Picard on a journey to solve the conundrum. Picard, of course, realizes what he needs to do and not do, and he sacrifices three Enterprises in three time periods to stabilize the anomaly and control the anti-time in an artificial warp field containment shield. We get to see three Enterprises explode. But it works, the anomaly is contained and stops expanding, then collapses, and Picard returns to his current Enterprise.

Overall, I like the characters on Star Trek: TNG, especially Picard and Dr. Crusher (and the hint of their romantic feelings towards each other is wonderful), and I thought Guinan was great, even though she’s not in this season. I love Data and his cat, Spot! Geordie is an interesting take on an engineer, he’s a lot calmer than Scotty. And Worf is, well, he’s Worf. I never cared for Troi, but she does manage to deliver exposition when needed. I just feel ST: TNG could have been more than it was. Still, given its limitations, it’s worth watching at some point. I’m glad I was able to get the season sets on sale.

Read my Review of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3.
Read my Review of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4.
Read my Review of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5.
Read my Review of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6.

Book Cover Under the Moon

Book Review – Under the Moon A Catwoman Tale

  • Title: Under the Moon A Catwoman Tale
  • Author: Lauren Myracle
  • Artists: Isaac Goodhart (Artist), Jeremy Lawson (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
  • Line: DC Ink
  • Characters: Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/08/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale is the second book in DC Comics new DC Ink young adult graphic novel series. This story was even better than Mera Tidebreaker (which was still excellent) though it also has some very sad parts to the story. Selina Kyle is the daughter of a single mother who she describes as “a cocktail waitress”. Selina is less than happy that her mother is constantly bringing home a string of terrible men, each worse than the last. Selina also attends a school where she has a few friends, though she’s close with the few friends she has.

One night Selina’s mother brings home Darnell and he stays. Darnell is abusive, lazy, stupid, and a complete lout. He hits Selina and her mother, and her mother does nothing to stop it. Selina begins to think of running away. Early one morning, Darnell orders Selina to take out the trash, telling her he doesn’t want any “freeloaders” in the house. Selina does so and just keeps walking. She finds a little kitten, washes it in a public bathroom, and brings it home and hides the kitten in her room. She feeds it and tells the kitten, Cinders (after Cinderella) all her secrets and problems. We know this isn’t going to go well.

The next day, Selina is in a great mood – she’s happy to have someone to love and someone who, for once, gives her unconditional love. But when she gets home from school, Darnell spots Cinders. He grabs the poor kitten and puts her on top of a tall doorframe. Selina begs, saying the cat is too small to get down safely and she will fall. Then Darnell grabs Selina and locks her in the closet. Hours later her mother finally lets her out. But Cinders falls, knocks over a vase, and falls on the shards. The poor, vulnerable kitten dies.

Selina is, obviously, very upset. She blames herself. And she finally leaves her abusive home. When she walks out she cuts three scratches on her arm, to remind her of Cinders, and also puts three scratches on Darnell’s pick-up truck. Selina is now living on the streets. She tries to continue to attend school, but it doesn’t work out well. Formerly, she would steal things she wanted and give them away. Now, she steals to survive. She finds a house with a shed since the owner of the house never uses the shed, she moves in.

One day, Selina sees another teenager scale a building. She talks to the young man and finds out what he’s doing is called Parkour. The teen, Ojo begins to train her in Parkour. Selina takes to it like a duck to water. Ojo says he lives with two other teenagers, and invites Selina to join them. Selina declines. Selina also introduces herself to Ojo as “Catgirl” – a name she’s taken to honor Cinders.

Winter comes to Gotham, and Selina continues to exist on the streets, with her shed and getting trained by her friend, Ojo. But one day she returns to the shed and finds a pile of blankets and a note, offering help. Selina is spooked and goes to the address Ojo gave her. She meets the other two street kids – Yang a computer hacker and Briar Rose, a 9-year-old girl who doesn’t talk and who screams if touched. Ojo, Yang, and Briar Rose have a nice headquarters in an abandoned warehouse.

Soon Selina finds out how the group exists – they are thieves and Yang is currently plotting to steal an antique and rare book from “some rich dude”. He’s found a buyer online and the book is worth $17,000 dollars. The four begin planning their heist.

Also, in Gotham, a serial killer called the Growler is active and killing people. No one knows who or what he is. Large paw prints are also found at the scenes of the crimes. During what is supposed to be a dry run for the heist but at a different building, Selina, Ojo, and Yang end up seeing up close a man killed by the Growler. They run.

During the actual heist, with Briar Rose, Selina discovers to her display that the mansion she is in belongs to Bruce Wayne. She can’t steal from Bruce and decides to put the book back. But then everything goes south – the Growler arrives, both Selina and Bruce fight it – though in the confusion neither recognizes the other, and Briar Rose disappears with the book.

Ojo, Yang, and Selina meet up at their HQ and realize Briar Rose is gone. By this point, Selina has become quite fond of the young girl and feels responsible for her. She is now determined to find Rosie, as she calls her. Selina had, prior to the theft, told Rosie about Bruce and programmed the cell phone Yang got them with his phone number. Rosie, in turn, enters it in Selina’s phone. They get a call from Bruce, not that anyone realizes at first who it is. Bruce offers info on Rosie.

Selina (Catgirl) goes to meet Bruce. Bruce tells her he found Rosie on his property with the book. He took her in, and let her stay in a guest room, with the book. Rosie had drawn pictures that Bruce used in his message to “Catgirl”. But she had also run away.

Selina thanks Bruce for the information and heads out, determined again to find Rosie. As she walks around, acquiring a group of cats following her, she finds flyers for some sort of religious children’s shelter. The young boy in the picture looks like Rosie’s young brother. (Yang had put together some information about Rosie, but since the young girl doesn’t talk no one knows for sure where she comes from.) Selina finds Rosie. Selina also is found by Bruce. While Bruce and Selina talk, Rosie runs off again. But Selina decides that, like herself, Rosie can make her own choices – and she hopes that Rosie finds her brother and everything is OK at the shelter.

Under the Moon a Catwoman Tale is an awesome book. I enjoyed it very much, even though much of the book is sad, and it deals with some very heavy issues – child abuse, cruelty to animals, homelessness. The book is sensitively written though and presents these issues very well.

The artwork in the book is fantastic, and has a blue-black was to it, representing the night. Flashback panels have a light purple wash. And after she loses Cinders, significant moments in Selina’s life are marked with a giant cat spirit above her – the cat is beautiful and adds a dimension to the story. Even though there is some sadness in this story, and Darnell’s treatment of Selina, her mother, and Cinders angers me, this is a good book, and something teenaged girls would probably enjoy. DC Ink is aimed at teens and young adults, and this is the second book in the series I’ve read, the other being Mera Tidebreaker. I highly recommend the series and this book.

Red-headed Mera peeks out of the water in her crown, holding a trident

Book Review – Mera Tidebreaker

  • Title: Mera Tidebreaker
  • Author: Danielle Paige
  • Artists: Stephen Byrne, David Calderon (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer)
  • Line: DC Ink
  • Characters: Mera, Arthur Curry, Thomas Curry, Atlanna
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/04/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Mera is an excellent graphic novel and I have already read it three times. Mera is a princess of Xebel and a bit of a rebel. Her country is being controlled by the country of Atlantis and like many Xebellians Mera wants her country to be independent and under its own rule. Her father, the king, has arranged her marriage to Larken, of the Trench, another undersea country. Mera and Larken were childhood friends, so Mera’s father, the Xebellian king, thinks its no problem to match Mera and Larken and join their countries together. Mera disagrees – she doesn’t love Larken and has no desire to marry him.

The story opens with a friend, Pilan, of Mera attending a protest against Atlantis and telling Mera about it over his wrist communicator. But rather than being in the palace getting ready for a diplomatic ball, Mera is secretly planning an act of protest herself – she draws a “no” symbol over the Atlantis symbol on the embassy. Pilan arrives to talk Mera out of her actions, and then Atlantian guards show up. In an attempt to escape, Mera uses bursts of highly concentrated water – which brings down part of the embassy wall. As she and Pilan leave they are found by Hikara, the head of the palace guard and a friend of Mera’s, she helps the two escape the guards.

Mera returns to the palace and gets ready for the ball. At the party, she is bored by the insipid comments of the other girls. Returning to her room, she remarks, “I am not my dress!”

That night she hears her father and Larken planning. Larken will go to the surface and kill Arthur the Atlantean prince. If he’s successful and brings Arthur’s head to the king, Larken will be allowed to rule Xebel. Mera is incensed. She decides to go to the surface and kill Arthur instead, proving herself worthy to rule. She meets with Hikara who gives her some advice, and who remarks she is turning herself in for the embassy attack. Mera isn’t happy to lose her friend, trainer, and advisor.

Mera finds Arthur on the shore and fakes drowning so he will “rescue” her. Arthur does and brings her to his home, a lighthouse. Once Mera is out of the water, she finds Hikara was right – she is weak and her water powers don’t work.

While she gains her strength, Mera gets to know Arthur. She discovers he is kind, giving, and basically a very good guy. He isn’t the monster she’d be raised to believe that all Atlanteans are. Mera is soon stuck with a very important decision – does she kill Arthur anyway, even though he seems to be a good person, and take his head to her father and claim her birthright? Or does she protect him instead? Arthur also doesn’t know anything about his Atlantean heritage.

Mera has some contact with Pilan via her wrist communicator until it’s lost in a scuffle. Larken shows up and again tries to talk Mera into ruling with him. She becomes more determined to have nothing to do with him.

Mera knocks herself and Arthur off a cliff into the ocean – but Arthur is able to breathe and speak underwater, like Mera, and he can also contact and control undersea creatures. This is a power Mera has never seen or heard of. Mera again realizes she can’t kill Arthur. As she decides to warn the Currys, Thomas Curry, Arthur’s father, admits that Atlanna is alive and ruling Atlantis. Mera tells the Currys her father is coming with his army and they must leave – escape. The Currys refuse, choosing to stand their ground.

At the shore, the Currys’ friends from Amnesty Bay also join them to defend their friends and neighbors. But the first army to arrive is Atlanna’s, because Thomas Curry called her using her trident. She and Thomas have a warm reunion, and she’s happy to see her grown son. Atlanna is less happy with Mera. But Mera admits she graffitied the embassy and it got a little out of control. She says it was an accident. Atlanna decides she will not start a war with Xebel or the Trench, that Arthur will stay on land for now, and Mera will pay recompense. Mera agrees, and when Arthur shows trepidation at this, Mera assures him it will be a slap on the wrist. Mera and Arthur promise to see each other again when they can.

Mera Tidebreaker is a great graphic novel. It really gets into Mera’s character, tells everything from her point of view, and makes her more than Arthur’s girlfriend or wife. The novel follows her path and sees her becoming independent of her father, her people, and her chosen husband to be. Also, the art is beautiful. The color scheme is a minty green, especially in the underwater scenes, which gives the book a different look. Mera herself has beautiful long bright red hair and is drawn at times in poses like a model. This is a beautiful young woman and a princess. Arthur and Thomas are both brunets in this book. Mera Tidebreaker is also the first book in DC Comics new DC Ink line, a new series of graphic novels aimed at teens and pre-teens. This book includes a sneak peek of the next title, Under the Moon – A Catwoman Tale. I really enjoyed Mera Tidebreaker and I highly recommend it, especially for younger readers.