We’re dragging humanity to a higher plane.

Person of Interest (2011-16)   Jonathan Nolan seems habitual in taking a fertile, resonant SF premise and failing to capitalise on it. Which might explain why all 3 of his series so far have been prematurely cancelled (in the case of the most recent casualty, The Peripheral, that might be explained away by the strikes, but if Amazon had really wanted more of it, they’d have persevered until it as over). Person of Interest, like his subsequent Westworld, takes as its theme the threat and potential (in that order) that comes with AI; Nolan filters it through a case-of-the-week procedural

I am a citizen of the ocean.

Man from Atlantis Pilot (1977)   As far as I’m aware, the notion of aquatic Atlanteans is a strictly fictional – providing, of course, you credit the legend with any legitimacy to begin with – conceit. Can it be found prior to Marvel’s Submariner (created in 1939)? There are accounts of fish/humanoids, sure, such as the Amazonian creature that inspired Creature from the Black Lagoon. And then there are mythical mainstays of various traditions and cultures – mermaids and mermen, Adaro, Atargatis (transformed into a fish, but her head remained human), the Blue men of the Minch (they swim like

Alas, poor skull.

Doctor Who Image of the Fendahl   As part of the Hinchcliffe era, Image of the Fendahl might have been the apotheosis of all things “gothic horror” in Doctor Who, a Lovecraftian melange of Nigel Kneale-esque folkloric scientism and Hammer-style occult trappings with a splodge of von Däniken. In the nascent Williams run, it’s something different and unrulier, upping the larkiness that would soon become a key motif and settling for production values that are on the ramshackle side (which is to say, the lighting and design work are often very good, but the direction is consistently inconsistent). That isn’t

It doesn’t live anywhere. It just is.

Doctor Who Planet of Evil   One of the few Hinchcliffe-era stories where the reputation preceding it gave way to a “Hmmm, yeah, not quite there”, Planet of Evil has all the requisite ingredients for the ultimate gothic tale. Unfortunately, it stumbles through failing to offer a distinctive enough twist on the plots it’s plundering. Philip Hinchcliffe admitted it was “too much of a rip-off”. It’s a story bolstered by considerable atmosphere (during the first half) and distinctive ideas, moments and visuals (again, during the first half) but falls into overfamiliar telling just when it needed to pile on the

You mean like aggressive rhubarb?

Doctor Who The Seeds of Doom   The Seeds of Doom is even more no-frills in its meat-and-potatoes (as opposed to veg-and-no-meat) approach to telling a Doctor Who story than Terror of the Zygons. The Hinchcliffe era generally favoured viscera over rumination, but the nature of the threat often lent itself to some degree of thematic resonance (Planet of Evil, Pyramids of Mars, The Brain of Morbius). The Seeds of Doom has little more than its lift from Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World – vegetables that see us as vegetables – along with an eccentric (a very eccentric)

Who in tarnation put me in that coffin?

The Twilight Zone 3.23: The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank   Finding “straight” representations of the walk-in phenomenon in TV and movies isn’t an easy task. They’re referenced in The X-Files’ Red Museum – but only referenced – and garbled in its Sein und Zeit/Closure. There’s more garbling in K-PAX, where it appears to be closer to an exchange programme for prot. And then there’s the assumption of replacing a recently deceased soul/body, which seems to have the highest profile examples. It’s this that can be found in 1962’s The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank, writer-director Montgomery Pittman presenting a

Well, it takes all sorts to make a galaxy, your Grace.

Doctor Who Terror of the Zygons   A story that’s generally praised, with one notable exception, but what giant monster in any Doctor Who story looks any good? Or in any movie of the era, come to that? Time’s a leveller in that regard; the Skarasen may be far from perfectly executed, but at least it has an interesting/distinctive look to it, thanks to that refurbished dog’s skull. I see it less as a problem than a minor, giant-rat-sized defect. The larger issue here, one that knocks Terror of the Zygons down from being an unqualified all-time classic, is that

Beauty I must have, but you are dispensable.

Doctor Who The Caves of Androzani   Most were saying there was nothing left to say about The Caves of Androzani by the end of the ’80s, which means there’s scarcely any chance of doing so now. So I won’t claim to offer any more than reheated sauce and critiqued quotes, just as forewarning that this revisit of still one of the best stories ever may read as faintly familiar. Much of the conversation about The Caves of Androzani – aside from its certified greatness, per the DWM Mighty 200 Poll in 2009 (it came first) – has rested on

You give off vibrations, Lovecraft. Like a cheap radio.

Cast a Deadly Spell (1991)   Hollywood in the 1940s and everyone is practising magic… and this is supposed to be an alternate universe? Neither director Martin Campbell nor star Fred Ward were exactly riding high when they made this detour into the less than bewitching world of TV (HBO) movies. Cast a Deadly Spell is a curiosity, too lightweight to make the most of its Lovecraftian trappings and not raucous enough to revel in its more irreverent inclinations. Lovecraft: My name’s Lovecraft, and I’m the guy who knows. Ward was coming off a trio of cinematic failures that effectively

For the first time in history, we find ourselves subject to a puppet government.

The Goodies 5.14: The Goodies Rule – O.K.?   The one with the giant Dougal. Which, if nothing else, made for possibly the most iconic title sequence clip. The Goodies Rule – O.K.? was the trio’s 1975 Christmas Special (broadcast 21 December) and doesn’t quite muster the same reverence as the more overtly festive – in a panto sense – and definitely more coherent The Goodies and the Beanstalk from the previous year.  The Goodies Rule – O.K.? is little more than a string of sketches bulked to fifty minutes, loosely offering a plot of the trio becoming hugely popular