Tag: 1990s

The Curse of Fatal Death at 20 – Setting up the Moffat era in 20 moves

Doctor Who The Curse of Fatal Death at 20

Doctor Who The Curse of Fatal Death at 20

Can it really be 10 Comic Reliefs since Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death? The sketch showpiece of the 1999 fundraiser that amused, reminded and affected 10 years after the classic series ended. A further 20 years on, it’s proved to be more than a novelty.

It told us pretty much all we needed to know about writer Steven Moffat’s time in charge of Doctor Who

“Die Doctor, Die!”

WHEN STEVEN MOFFAT TOOK ON SCRIBING A 20 MINUTE SKIT FOR CHARITY IN THE LATE ‘90S, HE NO DOUBT HAD ONE THOUGHT ON HIS MIND: THIS IS THE ONLY SHOT I’LL EVER GET AT WRITING DOCTOR WHO. Who cared if it was a short, standalone, or defiantly comedic… It was Doctor Who! A decade before he was asked it had limped to a ignobly-funded, underwatched end on BBC One. Three years before, it had failed to spark on an American network.

It wasn’t coming back anytime soon, right?

Of course, Who would return six years to the month after The Curse of Fatal Death’s broadcast. Triumphantly so, and with Moffat among its writers. Twenty years on from broadcast, Moffat stands as the most prolific writer of on-screen Doctor Who, contributing to 12 years of the rebooted show and steering seven of those, arguably providing the greatest single influence in its history – new villains, monsters, ideas, humour and… Head scratching. Perhaps then, it’s not surprising that a microcosm of those 12 years is found in the third of an hour broadcast on a  Friday night in March 1999.

“936 years in a sewer”

If you wrote a concise summary of the show under his guidance, you’d struggle to beat The Curse of Fatal Death, the last action Doctor Who realised in the twentieth century. In that unmissable chance, Moffat packs in not just great and knowing witticisms, but everything he loved about the show. He’d achieve a similar – although more serious feat – in 2010 with The Eleventh Hour – the regeneration story that had been running around his mind for decades. But with the astutely named Fatal Death, it was a punchy jab at respecting the past and predicting the future, telling us far more about what Moffat would do with the series proper than seems possible. Here we count an absurd 20 of them…

“Say hello to the spikes of doom”

1. A sense of humour

Fatal Death is a parody of Doctor Who, yes, but it’s a knowing one, written by someone who knew the show inside out. All those ‘knows’ mean someone who, er, knows the show is above parody. There was no continuing television franchise to scupper, no threat to be undermined or seriousness to break. There was just nostalgia for a show that had inherent comedy and was supported by huge goodwill. That’s what three or so decades will do for you.

Still, it runs a fine line, wringing comedy out of the thin plot at speed, rather than stapling plot onto comedy. The beats are all there, even the middle cliffhanger that stars a wonderfully obvious set of flashing toy Daleks.

The 50-odd episodes Moffat has penned for the show since its return retained that fine line of comedy and drama, as well as a willful mischievous with continuity. Moffat stories were happy to contradict each other and canon if it made for a better story (remind us, is regeneration more like death or a cold?), sometimes for a joke, sometimes in smart scripting that undermined a scene or character. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but overall Moffat balanced comedic and scary highs during his time. Perhaps we should count ourselves lucky that he had got lines like, “It will be the deadly vengeance… Of deadly revenge!” out of his system.

The name itself is a preposterous, hifalutin parody that played on people’s memory. But it’s also a tribute to the show’s high point and a bona fide franchise legend. 1976’s The Deadly Assassin got there earlier, from the pen of legendary Who writer Robert Holmes. Moffat’s script was always witty, something played on by his actors. Comedy an essential part of the show – Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith is among one of the greatest comedic actors to have taken the role and Capaldi wasn’t bad bad either!

But in Fatal Death, he had some comedy greats to delivery lines with exquisite timing. There’s barely a zinger that goes wasted in a skit with a higher joke scatter fire than many other Comic Relief sketches, astonishing considering how broad many are. Crucial to its success is the way Rowan Atkinson and Julia Swahala play everything wonderfully straight.

2. The timey-wimey

It’s a show about time travel  – that’s a phrase Moffat batted back to interviewers a lot during his early days as showrunner. Sure, the classic series had hardly let up on that, but seldom over-played the concept within serials (City of Death, The Time Monster, Day of the Daleks were key serials that did). Moffat’s era would play fast and loose between stories, in stories, and use it as a central plot propellent that created headaches the size of Professor River Song’s temporal footprint along the way. Fatal Death is probably only matched in its time-trickery-per-minute ratio by Moffat’s stunning contribution to Series 2, Blink.

3. Temporal paradox

It’s a big point, so we’ll take it a step further. It’s what some may call the meat and bones of the Moffat era. With the line, “You forgot I too have a TARDIS” we have the schematic for cheating all manner of mysteries around death and imprisonment during the Moffat years.

4. The Master Distortion

Series 3, Russell T Davies had freshened up the Master, returning Doctor and his foe to the Sherlock and Moriarty dynamic last seen at his arrival in the early-1970s. Moffat developed that further, finally bringing a redemptive female version to see off the Twelfth Doctor.

The friend and foe dynamic emerged as familiarity breeding contempt in 1999. The Master is a humiliated figure, always outfoxed, destined to fail, often insecure. Fatal Death’s version, is ramped up in wonderfully desperate fashion by Jonathan Pryce. While Fatal Death brought back the eternal loser, it also reminded us of how closely the character’s tied to his Time Lord foe. See how upset he is with the idea of the Doctor retiring – surely on many levels. The villain was ready to take a more prominent role than the 1980s or 1990s had allowed him, even if Moffat’s era could never agree on who the Doctor’s greatest foe is, or achieve quite the happy ending Fatal Death did.

That ending is a tiny bit The Doctor Falls though, isn’t it? Only with less death and deception.

5. Dalek cameo

Those were the days: When Daleks were a given in any Doctor Who. This time, brought in by the Master in a rather neat flip of the fingers to the events of 1996’s TV movie. They tick boxes (an overpowering cliffhanger and dramatic entrance) but struggle to ratchet up the threat level. They would continue to be similarly untroubling during Moffat’s tenure – a bit of a failing after Russell T Davies brought them back to planet-stomping glory.

The Moff would develop Dalek Technology with a fervour of the 1960s creators. “Augmented by superior Dalek technology” in Fatal Death emerges as a wonderful hand plunger and comedy bumps.

The Pepperpots do provide the cliffhanger as a lovely fleet of toy Daleks. While Moffat’s been known to question the repeat of the last few minutes of the previous episode during the classic era, the two-part version of Fatal Death is Doctor Who’s first summary – such a ‘90s conceit, and brilliantly reduced to the Master continually falling into the sewer system

6. A female Doctor

It was in Fatal Death – notably pre-social media – that we saw the first female Doctor. Up until that point, the idea had been restricted to sensational tabloid rumours (and possibly the odd mischievous office leak). As such, it was more a glorious in-joke than anything else. The Doctor’s rapid regenerations cycled through a tabloid’s dream list before the Lumley-Lord gave us the punch-line.

The Davies’ era may have played around with gender, but it was under Moffat that the true seeds of a female Doctor were set. That’s when we saw Time Lords change gender during regeneration, although he missed his shot to make the show’s definitive change himself.

7. The female companion

Oh, you’d be hard pushed to forget female companions in the TARDIS console room during the Classic Series’ 26 years. But memories of the Doctor and single female companion always exceed the reality of a busier Type 40  – thanks to icons like Leela, Sarah-Jane and the final companion of the era, Ace.

Moffat always professed to be a fan of the fuller TARDIS and certain stories depended on it during his era (River Song would have struggled to come into existence), but both his Doctors were defined by singular female companions  – Amy for the Eleventh and Clara for the Twelfth. They were so important, each appeared at their respective Doctor’s death.

On top of the succession of brilliant solo companions who’d travelled with Davies’ Ninth and Tenth Doctors, Moffat’s decision to go that extra mile and put them in a relationship in Fatal Death was a bit of a tawdry joke has only gained credence over the last two decades. Still, Julia Sawalha, inheriting the mantle in less enlightened times, shines in her naive ‘60s stylings.

8. Being reverential

Parody can’t work without reference, and as much as Moffat stove to create new monsters, mythology and time loops, his was the most reverential of all. Davies had eased into the show’s rich mythology, taking the subtle but satisfying route of the odd Macra or introducing the Doctor’s main foes in their original chronological order. But the Moffat era was happy to head back to the very beginning, and change our perception of the Doctor on Gallifrey.

9. The casting

Yes, that succession of dream Doctors is both a joke and curse.

Casting would be never more scrutinised than during the Moffat era, as names like Hugh Grant became strangely more possible as the gap between small and big screen lessened. Richard E.Grant, two decades on an Oscar nominee, would play the alternative Ninth Doctor in the anniversary webcast Scream of the Shalka (2003). The television revival would sadly wipe that from canon, although many elements (the TARDIS-bound Master particularly) would be echoed – quite rightly, as they were great ideas. Incidentally Shalka was written by Paul Cornell, who brought Moffat closest to Virgin’s New Adventures range, including him as a character in his original Human Nature.

10. The Planet Terserus

It’s an ominous planet, signalling destiny for the Doctor. It may be condensed parody, but it sure has a feel of Trenzalore, the planet that promised the end of the Doctor’s Eleventh incarnation in Series Seven, and delivered it in Time of the Doctor.

The inverted pyramid left by the doomed Tersurons population couldn’t help but remind us of the  pyramids that would help morph the Twelfth Doctor into an odd and unnecessary hybrid of Dracula and Sherlock during his final series (The Lie of the Land), but that’s more personal disgust.

In fact, Tersurus has a long and distinguished history in the wider Doctor Who universe of books, comics and audio, tying back to the plight of the worse for wear Master in none other than The Deadly Assassin. Even that incarnation, bug-eyed but menacing in 1976, didn’t fall in the sewer.

Moffat Davies New Doctor Who

11. TARDIS tampering

The Master’s TARDIS, cosy, and a lovely shade of green, is strobed by lightning when its owner cackles. He needs to get those lights fixed – much like the Eleventh Doctor who really should have looked into the “Silence will Fall” presence that cracked his TARDIS console screen at the conclusion of Series Five. Perhaps he never knew…

12. An alien twist

The Terserons unusual communication is pivotal to Fatal Death’s plot, but it would be Davies who brought bodily functions into canon for some light relief six years later (Aliens of London). The way Moffat took the effort to tie this into the resolution (Chekov’s – oh, never mind), and his predilection to search out imaginative hooks for his alien species does stick out.

13. Ageing fast

Again, this is nothing new in Doctor Who. Alister Pearson’s spectacular rendition of an aged Fourth Doctor on the paperback of The Leisure Hive sticks in the mind. But seldom has the lengthened time span and enduring patience of a Time Lord been been clearer than in Fatal Death. This would be taken to the extreme near the close of both the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor eras.

14. Legend of the Doctor

“I recently calculated that I have saved every planet in the known universe a minimum of 27 times” says the Doctor in Fatal Death, a prologue to announcing his retirement.

During his Eleventh Doctor run, Moffat would blow up this legend, before removing it entirely as that incarnation wiped himself from universal history. In Nightmare in Silver (2013), Neil Gaiman would gleefully rip that concept for pieces (You’d just have to look for the gaps). Coincidentally, he never wrote for the show again.

15. Cliffhanger

With three cliffhangers, Fatal Death almost rivals the whole of the Moffat run. We’re being facetious, but that may be true in terms of satisfyingly resolved ‘hangers. All-too-often, the Moffat era jumped them – even during the excellent opener of Series Six. That said, there was gold enough to wilt a Cyberman. The breaks that that met the end of The Empty Child and The Time of Angels are about as good as Doctor Who ever served up.  In Fatal Death, the first is a narrative follow-through, the second a leap to capture, the third the first ever regeneration cliffhanger. Not groundbreaking – but as the central one sets up a change of scene and tone for the special’s second half, there’s the hint that he saw differently to many other writers.

16. Starting the Mill

Founded in 1990, Post prod and visual effects company The Mill followed up work on 2000’s Gladiator with a huge contribution to the BBC’s fantasy output in the early 21st century. From the RTD-era title sequence to Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Merlin. They parted ways with Who in 2013 – mid-Moffat. Quite the shame when their first involvement with the show was providing special effects for Fatal Death.

17. Richard Curtis

Steven Moffat’s wife Sue Vertue produced Fatal Death, but he was invited to script it by Red Nose Day honcho Richard Curtis. 11 years later, Moffat would return the favour, with Curtis contributing the rather brilliant Vincent and the Doctor to 2010’s Series 5.

18. “I’ll explain later”

Less a judgement on exposition than explaining away some of the stranger parts of Who lore. It’s a joke that almost creates itself, Bad Wolf-style. That said, explanation would never be so relevant, or lacking, depending on your perspective, than during his time running the show.

19. “He was never cruel and never cowardly”

Well, goes without saying. Astonishingly it took until the 50th anniversary for this to become the shortened CV of the Doctor. Sod canon, you heard it here first people of the universe!

20. Retirement of the Doctor

Fed up with his tremendous success rate, this Doctor plans to “settle down and get married”.

Moffat’s Doctor slunk off more than once, in spite of companions’ best efforts to keep him in the game (most irritatingly in the middle of Series 7 when he didn’t pay any attention to what Amelia Pond told him). The impossible idea of the Doctor’s retirement was there at the start.

“Your mother’s going to get a surprise at the wedding”-  almost as though 2019’s Red Nose Day Four Weddings and a Funeral update was a 20th anniversary tribute to Fatal Death.

“Say Hello to the sofa of reasonable comfort”

Read more about Moffat’s time driving the TARDIS – starting with Five ways he set about remaking the Fifth Doctor era.

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Star Trek: The Needs of the Two

Khan Borg Star Trek Jokertoon

Khan Borg Star Trek Jokertoon

As sequel Star Trek into Darkness rides high in the charts – and eventually zooms into America – a look at the other ‘second’ Star Trek films

IT’S ALMOST CRUEL THAT THE NEW STAR TREK FILM, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS IS OPENING IN AMERICA ONE WEEK AFTER THE UK AND A FEW OTHER LUCKY COUNTRIES.  Possibly the most hyped Star Trek film in the franchise’s 12 film career – the film has created anticipation as much as it seems to have been shaped by it.  You can read into that as you will if you’ve seen it – but no spoilers here.

A few months ago I took a look at the possible identity of the new film’s villain, John Harrison, not at all seriously.  But I also highlighted the importance and legacy the on Star Trek of the ‘Number Two’.  That’s not just in Trek lore but also apparently in the boardrooms of phaser twitching execs as well.  Two hangs heavy over Star Trek history and with good reason.

The anticipation for the new film owes a lot to the series’ history – and uniquely that ‘history’ includes two previous ‘second films’.  Not only is Into Darkness the third ‘second’ film in the franchise, but both of its predecessors are rightly regarded as Star Trek classics.  The pressure was very much engaged as soion as 2009’s Star Trek was a success.

1982’s The Wrath of Khan (TWOK), remains the pick of the 12 film bunch.  It’s a tightly wound film, propelled by relationships and tension which improves with every viewing. As the second big screen voyage of the Original Series crew, upon its release it set box office records and makes assembling Star Trek films look effortless.  Kirk’s struggle with Khan, the genetically enhanced and time-displaced despot quickly spread its influence far and wide, sinking into popular culture like few other pieces of science fiction – from Kill Bill to Family Guy.

Beaming forward 14 years, Star Trek: First Contact (FC) entered a whole new world.  Entering a vastly different film environment, riddled with the CGI that TWOK had pioneered, it was time for a new ship and a new crew.  The Next Generation had arguably delivered the success that The Original Series had failed to.  Generating vast quantities of money over seven series, spawning another three spin-offs and contributing some of the best television moments of all time (the superb Best of Both Worlds), its crew had inevitably moved on to the big screen in 1994.  That first film, Generations, is a bit of an anomaly, including as it does a starring role and rather unfortunate farewell for Captain James T Kirk.  However, it must stand as the first Next Generation film, with 1996’s FC hurling them full throttle into a fight with their most definitive nemesis, the Borg for the sequel.  Having already set a high benchmark on the small screen with those villains, the challenge was again a difficult inevitability.  However, with phasers blazing, FC was the most action packed Star Trek film since TWOK, and really hasn’t been challenged until Into Darkness.

In 47 years, with Star Trek’s version of ‘regeneration’, it’s no surprise to find the reboots making their way to the big screen. What’s interesting is not so much the long ruminated, but ultimately false, theory of even Star Trek films being better than their odd brothers – but that the second instalments of each sub-franchise are always so damned good.

As Star Trek Into Darkness proves however, this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The shadow of TWOK hangs so heavily over the franchise that references bordering on riffs and remakes can seem essential to guarantee success.  TWOK will always be the benchmark, no matter the crew or century involved.  FC certainly held TWOK in high regard, with many common links filtering through the two films.

The Code of Two

Both films share a theme of retribution as their heart and in both cases, this links back to events in their earlier television incarnations.  Both feature ships as plot devices and highlight the military implications of space exploration and Starfleet itself.  Both, in their own way, are bloody well made films as well – from relatively young and inexperienced directors.  TWOK was Nick Meyer’s second film as a director and FC was Jonathan Frakes’ first – although both had been involved behind the camera in various capacities before.  Both films also carry a supreme confidence… But despite the many similarities, most interest lies in their differences.

Star Trek: Second Contact

Following the bloated Star Trek: The Motion Picture – a superbly realised film, but one that missed the inherent comedy of Star Trek – TWOK got a lot of decisions right.  By moving the action forward 15 years, TWOK not only matched the comparative age of its actors but built the acknowledgement – or ignorance of – aging in as a crucial part of the narrative.  TWOK works along the heavy lines of consequence, age and foreshadowing.  Of many significant contributions to the Star trek universe, the Kobayashi Maru test is one of TWOK’s masterstrokes.  It allows for a brilliant opening where most of familiar Enterprise crew are annihilated and then proceeds to link and weaves through the film as an exploration of Kirk and counterpoint to the main plot.  Commander Saavik becomes one of the franchise’s most effective guest characters, perhaps all the better because she is Vulcan.  Her main role is to constantly pester Kirk about how he beat the test until, when it appears all is lost, he finally reveals his secret.  He doesn’t believe in a no-win scenario.  Cue Act III.

By its end TWOK had revealed itself as a full-blown submarine film.  The increased military feel of Starfleet had been well realised throughout, with sharp and effective new uniforms and strict procedures about the only think that’s allowed to linger on screen.  The final act is pure war film, where the cat and mouse game between the USS Reliant and USS Enterprise that may just as well be acted out in the North Sea in 1941.  Part of the finale’s effectiveness is the brilliant special effect work provided by ILM, the George Lucas owned company wisely brought on after its Star Wars revolution.  Perhaps the main reason for the film’s effectiveness is its most astonishing one:  For all the wrath, history, hatred and battling, Khan and Kirk never meet.  Not many films have proved to be as powerful, effective or influential under those circumstances.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Picard

In contrast, FC chose to abandon subtlety for all out action chuck-in-the-replicator action.  Not attempting to ape TWOK’s submarine claustrophobia for long, FC quickly descends into an all out assault film.  Within the first 15 minutes, the crew of the Enterprise has reformed, a new ship introduced, a Borg Cube engaged and defeated and time travel to the Earth’s past undertaken.  It rarely comes up for breath, propelled both by a fantastically villainous race done justice and also an unapologetic ethos of chucking everything at the screen that Star Trek fans have ever wanted.  I recall seeing it in on release in 1996 and having to constantly higher the bar under an onslaught of brilliant set pieces.  Just when I was marvelling at the time-travel, danger-uninhibited Holodeck and phaser rifle assault missions, they went and raised the ante yet further with an upside down space walk.  Then again with a ship-wide evacuation.  Subsequent viewings (many) have put a strain on the coherence of the breakneck pace, but it still endures as a very well realised film.

Perhaps most interesting is the way the Borg are expanded.  A continuing topic in this blog seems to be the necessity of expanding antagonists, but also the inherent dangers in doing so.  Assimilating the big screen, the Borg had an effective upgrade in the make-up department.  It was also the first time we could see wholesale assimilation and Frakes and co had many inspirations to draw on.  Body-horror is a necessary part of the Borg impact and in FC it is very much put to the fore.  Not only that, the expansion to include a Queen figure is a bold concession to horror in design and dialogue.

While the two pronged neck injecting of Borg virus makes it clear that assimilation is akin to vampirism, the Queen’s dialogue moves quickly from biblical to Hellraiser Cenobite.  The dark body horror stylings of the race can’t help break that association.  In many ways, this is teenage Clive Barker but a precedent for trek horror combined with action was set by TWOK, itself a violent and occasionally sadistic film.

“From Hell’s Heart…”

The broad difference between TWOK and FC however, comes from motivation.  While FC draws on rage that comes from a frankly understandable human feeling of frustration and helplessness, it is siphoned into Picard.  His is a single-minded and cold vendetta for most part, albeit one that we had already seen the roots of in The Next Generation two-parter The Best of Both Worlds.  That vengeance triggers most of the character points in the film – whether driving a wedge between Picard and Worf’s relationship or providing an injustice for random guest star Lily to fight against.  Along with the rather flat Pinocchio and friendship messages Data carries, this rather crude characterisation is perhaps the film’s only downfall.

In contrast, TWOK carries many intricate lines of development, with emotion hanging on every beat.  The Father-son sub-plot may be its weakest, but lines of friendship and consequence run through every scene until the tragic finale.  A fairly simple plot allows room for themes to layer on each other.  There’s also space for what may be the definitive Kirk, Spock and McCoy clash.  TWOK allows its themes to breathe, while FC never does.

Another contrast comes in the root of the films’ plots.  TWOK is effectively a sequel to the Original Series episode Space Seed, with vengeance mainly springing from events in the interim that we have not directly seen.  In fact, it was retconned into Star Trek history, and very well done it was too.  The vengeance in FC however, is based on events and fear that we have experience of.  While in 1982 we truly watched the wrath of Khan, in 1996 we witnessed the wrath of Picard.

“We Fall Back…”

Interestingly, both films choose to hang their main themes on literature, and perhaps because of TWOK’s success, they share one source of inspiration.

TWOK works two main strands into its story.  While Kirk is presented with Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities on his birthday, Chekov stumbles on Khan’s ship the SS Botany Bay where the rogue has for years been feasting on not only Moby Dick, but Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost among others.  The themes of A Tale of Two Cities become crucial not only at the film’s climax but also as a central tenet of Trek from that point forward: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  Also, what better reflection on the continuing voyages of the Enterprise than that book’s opening line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.

Of course, Moby Dick has the most significant impact on the film.  In his rage, focussed through super-intelligence, Khan appears simultaneously obliviousness,  and almost perfect in the self-analysis of his own obsession.  The result is a chilling  disconnect.  Montalban must have chewed through hundreds of copies of the novel.  He quotes and paraphrases Moby Dick  constantly, while filling the gaps with barbed nonsense lines like “Let them eat static” and moments of scripting  genius such as a certain influential Klingon proverb…  Despite its rather full on approach – Khan may as well hijack the USS Analogy – those literary roots are neatly woven into the story.  It’s a trait common to many Meyer scripts, and he would  successfully repeat the trick, although with less impact, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

That literary super-allusion was the main carry-through to FC, where Lily’s correct, albeit lucky, comparison of Picard to Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab is the moment that  The Next Generation Captain’s growing obsession is broken.  Quote-wise, its effect is not as pronounced; plot-wise its impact it is far more significant.  Star Trek is about many things.  From western, to frontier exploration, to comedy, to adventure…  But those atavistic ideas of the mythical and powerful beast that creates and feeds obsession and those associated dark places of humanity that man must go are also fair game.  In fact, it’s essential.  Where No Man has Gone Before is also where man has always ended up going.

In some ways it was impossible for the current third ‘second’ Star Trek film to go anywhere but to  Into Darkness.  At least commercially, that’s the place that works for Star Trek films – especially when they’re even-numbered.  If anyone has any problem with the direction the latest film has taken it well be worth remembering  TWOK and FC and asking whether there was really any other choice.  Parallel universe or not, there are beats and themes that, quotes notwithstanding, certain Star Trek films just have to follow.

To paraphrase what might be the first novel of the Twentieth Century, in respect of one of that century’s most enduring fiction properties: these too have been some of the dark places of the universe.

Find the Tweetnotes of both films Storified here – concessions should be made for a far too conscientious autocorrect… Messrs Khan, Borg and Mellville have been informed.

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