Doctor Who has a long history of Christmas specials, but surprisingly few have managed to capture the whimsy of the form while also having enough substance to leave an impression.
Showrunner Steven Moffat has stayed away from two-parters for a while, but as is traditional for Doctor Who, a new Doctor means a fresh start for the show and it’s only fitting that the Twelfth Doctor get the same two-parter blowout end-of-first-series as his predecessors. After a season of teases, Missy is revealed as the latest regeneration of the Master (Missy being a shortening of the Mistress) and she’s come to Earth to turn the entire population of the planet, current and former, into a massive army for the Doctor, so they can be buddies in universal domination. As far as plans go, it makes sense for the Master, even if it is a bit disappointing. Michelle Gomez is fun in the role, particularly in “Death in Heaven*,” but seeing the Master reduced to an agent of chaos, rather than someone with a particular agenda or motivation all their own, feels more appropriate for a mid-season romp than a season-ending two-parter.
Before Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright wowed international audiences with their horror comedy Shaun of the Dead, they were part of the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced. This show was one of the first sitcoms to use a single camera setup without a laugh track. Spaced also featured quick hitting pop culture homages almost a decade before Community and blend of dry and surreal humor. However, the show’s greatest strength was its interesting characters who could be simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. These endearing characters are what made Spaced an enduring cult phenomenon in both the UK and United States.
Without much fanfare, Edgar Wright has molded himself into one of the best action directors in the world. Shaun of the Dead had many effective moments of zombie slaughter, and, with Hot Fuzz, Wright matured into someone who could simultaneously parody Michael Bay and deliver Bay-type material more effectively than the man himself. The third film in Wright’s so-called Cornetto trilogy of films made with actors Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, The World’s End, goes even further. It becomes a sharp and riveting action-comedy that has few peers in the last decade.
To exit a film directed by Edgar Wright is to be reinvigorated by the state of modern cinema. He’s now made his fourth feature-length film, The World’s End, and it’s tempting to rate it as his best work yet. But when you consider his others—Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World—the challenge becomes differentiating these by how many slight nitpicks may crop up from story to story. Like most directors of his generation, Wright’s work is heavily influenced by the pop culture of his childhood. Unlike many of his peers, though, Wright is able to translate that affection and hyper-literate awareness into something fresh, exciting, and intelligent. As such, The World’s End is as peerless as a mainstream film gets.
Snow White and the Huntsman Written by Evan Daugherty, John …