Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Doctor Who - The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

The big finale! And big it was indeed. This is the first time since Trial of a Time Lord that I felt the season arc in Doctor Who truly fit together entirely satisfactorily and was very important to the season as a whole. And surprisingly, it isn't even completely resolved and yet The Moff managed to tie enough of it together to satisfy us for now but left dangling threads to entice us to tune in next year as well. I felt the Doctor acknowledging that every thing wasn't resolved through dialog was key to leaving us wanting more and yet I for one was not disappointed by what we did get which was a fun, timey-wimey romp through time and space.

The first half was largely fanwank but in the best way possible. Not only do the Cybermen, Daleks and Autons play key roles in this story but the Sontarans also get a slightly bigger role than just a cameo. Nice cameos by the Judoon, Silurians, Hoix, Roboforms and Sycorax as well as name-checking Slitheen, Drahvins, Zygons, Draconians, Chelonians(in their first-ever TV reference), Atraxi and Terileptils. Plus we get to see a plethora of their spaceships arriving.

Both episodes are fast-paced, funny, dramatic and highly entertaining while also managing to piece the whole puzzle together and explain what exactly happened with the cracks in time.

I loved the fact that the Doctor's hubris in The Eleventh Hour came back to haunt him after the Atraxi ran through his history as the Doctor and his enemies and said, "I am the Doctor. Basically, run." Well, now most of the those enemies have joined together and it was the Doctor in serious trouble.

The second half doesn't really hold together logically since the Doctor basically frees himself by giving Rory the sonic and one has to wonder how he could do that if he was trapped. But I think we're going with Bill and Ted time-travel logic for this story so I just went with it and didn't allow it to bother me.

The Fez was awesome. Fezzes are cool. I wouldn't mind the Fez returning at some point next series.

The mystery of River Song continues to grow with a promise that the Doctor will meet her for the first time next year from her perspective and we'll find out who she really is. I must admit I'm stumped except to say I'm pretty certain she's not entirely a hero when he first meets her. I can't wait to find out more. I do wonder though since its strongly implied that "her Doctor" (the one she spends more time with or marries) is neither 10 nor 11 if we will get to see her when it comes time for the 12th Doctor to take over.

Rory's journey is absolutely awesome and I must say I like his character better than Amy so far. Although I think Amy's character works better with the three-crewmember dynamic that we have at the end. I also think Amy's journey was very fulfilling as she was so psychologically scarred by her childhood and disappearing relatives (and ducks) that even on the two occasions Rory dies she never tells him she loves him before or afterwards until time is rewritten and her parents and happy childhood replace her scarred memories. At that point she tells Rory she loves him before he does likewise thus showing how she is now a happier, more well-balanced person. (Although still a bit flirty and saucy obviously) I'm very glad that Amy and Rory are staying for a second series and I look forward to seeing the first married couple in the TARDIS in the show's long history.

Matt Smith is not my favorite Doctor by far, but as always I do really like him nonetheless. I think he has the quirky aspect of the character down pat but he lacks a bit of range in that he doesn't seem to be able to turn the quirky off when necessary making him seem a bit one note at times. But still, he's very good and I hope he has a good run as the 11th Doctor. (3-5 years would be great)

I anxiously look forward to next series as I'm going to try to remain relatively spoiler free next year. I'm still reading some of the press releases and Doctor Who Magazine but I'm hoping to avoid all the rumors on the message boards by steering clear of them this year.

That way maybe I'll be surprised by who or what the Silence is and who or what the real big bad is that could want the universe to end and destroy the Doctor in the process plus have the power and knowledge to destroy a TARDIS. Omega? The Black Guardian? The Toymaker? The Gods of Ragnarok? The Great Intelligence? or something else altogether? It shall be interesting to find out.

LISTS!!! Bwahahahahahaha!

Here's my list of 10th adventures for each Doctor.

1) The Pandorica Opens by Steven Moffat
2) Mawdryn Undead by Peter Grimwade
3) The Dalek Invasion of Earth by Terry Nation
4) Day of the Daleks by Louis Marks
5) The Parting of the Ways by Russell T. Davies
6) The Brain of Morbius by Robin Bland (Pseudonym of Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes)
7) The Ice Warriors by Brian Hayles
8) Terror of the Vervoids by Pip Baker and Jane Baker
9) Ghost Light by Marc Platt
10) Fear Her by Matthew Graham

My 32nd series list in order of favorites:

1) The Pandorica Opens
2) The Time of Angels
3) The Eleventh Hour
4) Amy's Choice
5) The Vampires of Venice
6) Victory of the Daleks
7) The Beast Below
8) Cold Blood
9) Vincent and the Doctor
10) The Lodger

My favorite Doctors list:

1) Patrick Troughton
2) Peter Davison
3) Paul McGann
4) David Tennant
5) Tom Baker
6) Jon Pertwee
7) William Hartnell
8) Colin Baker
9) Christopher Eccleston
10) Matt Smith
11) Sylvester McCoy

Wonderful chaps, all of him.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doctor Who - The Lodger

Written by Gareth Roberts (The Shakespeare Code, The Unicorn and the Wasp and Planet of the Dead) this was an interesting change of pace for an episode. Pretty much as close to a comedy as Doctor Who will ever get with genuinely funny lines and situations showing us that Doctor Who could have been a family sitcom with this premise.

The downside is that I found it a bit difficult at times to swallow that the Doctor was quite so unfamiliar with Earth customs as he was portrayed in this episode. I know sometimes he acts quite alien and odd and there are nuances of human behavior he doesn't get but by his Eleventh incarnation I think he's be familiar enough with humans in the 21st century to know they don't greet each other with air kisses and that Englishmen have an insane love of football. So while his disinterest with money and its value is very consistent with every previous Doctor, some of the other acts seemed at odds with his previous incarnations knowledge of humanity. It was nice to see his love of cats restored though after the Tenth Doctor said he hated them in Fear Her.

As a result of these two things, I find myself conflicted with the episode on one hand enjoying the comedy and situations and on the other hand the fanboy inside me is saying, "But he wouldn't really act like that would he?"

I really liked the headbutting telepathic contact scene. That was a really interesting way for the Doctor to pass on his life story and yet it also showed why he doesn't do it very often despite it being a potentially very useful ability. This was the fourth time we've seen a picture of the 1st Doctor and the third time for the 2nd Doctor this series which is a welcome surprise.

I'm not sure what to make of the psuedo-TARDIS. Especially since we are not told who or what built it. Its always implied that the TARDIS is immensely difficult to build as no other race outside of the Time Lords has ever mastered it so it must be a terribly advanced race to even attempt getting a partially working one. Even the War Chief was unable to replicate them completely as he was only able to construct sub-par SIDRATs for the War Lords. I'm not sure they will ever follow up on this mystery but I would sure like them to.

Overall a success I would say especially as a comedy but not one of my favorites of the series so far.

Here's my list of favorite ninth stories for every Doctor:

1) Mindwarp by Philip Martin
2) The Daemons by Guy Leopold (Pseudonym for Barry Letts and Robert Sloman)
3) The Abominable Snowmen by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln
4) Battlefield by Ben Aaronovitch
5) Planet of Giants by Louis Marks
6) Boom Town by Russell T. Davies
7) The Android Invasion by Terry Nation
8) Love & Monsters by Russell T. Davies
9) The Lodger by Gareth Roberts
10) Snakedance by Christopher Bailey

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Doctor Who - Vincent and the Doctor

Written by Richard Curtis the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love, Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Bean and of course episodes of Black Adder and Mr. Bean, I had pretty high expectations and hopes for this episode as I've loved all of these works. He's the writer of my absolutely favorite romantic comedies because unlike many films from that genre, he remembers the comedy bit is actually important.

This episode has gotten stellar reviews and has been raved about as the best episode of the series so far on message boards but I must admit I think its my least favorite of the season. That's not to say its bad or there's anything wrong with it, but it just didn't excite me like most of the other episodes have.

I liked the thinly veiled references to Rory with Amy crying but not knowing why and the Doctor mistakenly calling Van Gogh "Rory".

An interesting side note is that the painting Van Gogh signs "For Amy, Vincent" was actually painted in 1888 and the episode takes place in June, 1890. I would say he just signed the painting to Amy but his reaction to her suggesting he paint sunflowers seemed to indicate he never had done so before. So its either a mistake, artistic license by Curtis or Van Gogh was so ashamed of that painting that he did not mention it to Amy at the time.

The exploration of depression and its effects on the psyche of people was interesting but perhaps people with more melancholy dispositions or those with bi-polar disorders might have gotten more out of it than I did. I get very depressed at times but I'm not subject to sudden mood swings like Van Gogh was. (Outside of occasional "that's it" moments but they aren't even truly sudden, I just hide the rage and frustration building up inside me very well. lol)

Great performances all around but I think I would just call it a good solid episode rather than the "classic" its being touted as.

Here's my comparison of each Doctor's eighth stories:

1) The Empty Child by Steven Moffat
2) The Satan Pit by Matthew Jones
3) The Tomb of the Cybermen by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
4) Pyramids of Mars by Stephen Harris (Pseudonym of Robert Holmes and Lewis Greifer)
5) The Reign of Terror by Dennis Spooner
6) The Mysterious Planet by Robert Holmes
7) Arc of Infinity by Johnny Byrne
8) Vincent and the Doctor by Richard Curtis
9) Colony in Space by Malcolm Hulke
10) The Greatest Show in the Galaxy by Stephen Wyatt

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Doctor Who - The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

This was an interesting two-parter if for no other reason than I've never felt such an imbalance between two halves of a Doctor Who story. I felt The Hungry Earth was a bit filler for the most part and there were several story problems that made the episode feel particularly weak. Whereas Cold Blood was a really exciting fast-paced episode with a great payoff. Its actually hard to believe it was all written by the same writer.

My problems with The Hungry Earth were:

1) Are we really supposed to believe that the entire village is made up of only 5 people? Where is everybody else while their village is under siege by the Silurians? There were some workers in the very beginning of the episode but apparently they all commute to the operation. Its very odd without a bit of dialog to reveal why there is a lack of a population.

2) It really took me out of the moment to see our protagonists accomplish so much in the space of only 9 minutes before the Silurians arrive. They managed to set the entire village up with cameras around the perimeter, gather a bunch of weapons and also have a plethora of casual conversations in only 9 minutes. I guess they used the restriction of 9 minutes to create tension but it was all very unbelievable. Chibnall should have made it 90 minutes which would have been much more believable and its not like they could go anywhere with the barrier up. And after all of that prep work it was all for naught anyway as the Silurians drain the power.

3) Not enough really happens in the episode. Its like an extended prologue.

By contrast, I found Cold Blood to be gripping edge of your seat entertainment. This was what I was waiting for! Fantastic performances all around and huge plot developments in the ongoing arc! The new Silurians were very good and very expressive which was a plus even though I do lament the sacrifice of the old design. Although to be fair although a bit vague, its implied that these Silurians are a third species of Homo Reptilia meaning that these Silurians, the originals and the Sea-Devils are actually all designated Silurians or Eocenes or Earth Reptiles or Homo Reptilia, take your pick. And the implication is backed up by the lack of a third eye and the new ability to inject venom through their tongues. So these foes are actually both recurring and brand new at the same time which is very cool as we receive our dose of nostalgia whilst also getting a fresh exciting new monster.

The crack makes another even more important appearance and I must say I'm really intrigued by what the Doctor pulls through it. This series finale is starting to feel very ominous especially knowing River Song is back and that she killed the best man she ever knew.

And unfortunately the three-story curse for a male companion continues in what is perhaps the most tragic ending I've ever seen for a character.

So in the end I really liked it overall I just wish the first half had been stronger although in its defense apparently the original edit ran over by 15 minutes. So perhaps my complaints would have been resolved in an uncut version. Chibnall's script may actually have suffered from over-editing and time constraints. Hopefully we'll get those deleted scenes on the DVD release.

Again with a two-part story I like to choose a title to refer to it as a whole and I must say Cold Blood fits best as a title for both parts over The Hungry Earth.

Comparison of each Doctor's seventh story:

1) The Evil of the Daleks by David Whitaker
2) Revelation of the Daleks by Eric Saward
3) Father's Day by Paul Cornell
4) Cold Blood by Chris Chibnall
5) The Claws of Axos by Bob Baker and Dave Martin
6) Time-Flight by Peter Grimwade
7) Silver Nemesis by Kevin Clarke
8) Planet of Evil by Louis Marks
9) The Idiot's Lantern by Mark Gatiss
10) The Sensorites by Peter R. Newman

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Doctor Who - Amy's Choice

This was a very different episode for Doctor Who than the norm and for the most part it worked very well indeed. I loved the idea of giving the Doctor and the companions the choice to choose between two different realities. And even though I felt it was a bit obvious what the conclusion of the story was going to be I thought they handled the drama of the characters extremely well. This episode was essentially a character piece to resolve Amy's dilemma of the Doctor vs. Rory. One world is clearly the Doctor's and one is clearly Rory's.

One thing that was interesting was that it seems a possibility after this episode that perhaps Amy isn't running from her wedding day or Rory as much as she's running from Rory's desire to lead a normal "boring" life in a quiet village whereas Amy would much prefer traveling with the Doctor. I think as much as Rory enjoys the quiet life though he'll be happy wherever Amy is.

I also really liked using old people as the "monsters" of the episode as it was both creepy and a bit amusing.

All of the main cast are very good in this episode and it was cool seeing Karen Gillan portray multiple sides to her character. Also Toby Jones is absolutely brilliant as The Dream Lord and I hope this is not the last we see of this potentially recurring villain.

**********BIG SPOILERS BELOW**************

On the downside the choice that Amy ends up making doesn't entirely seem consistent with how she's been written and portrayed in previous episodes. Her loving Rory this deeply seems to come from more of the shock of his death than an actual real "love of her life" scenario. That's not to say she doesn't care about him or even love him in a way but I find it inconsistent with how she showed only discomfort at Rory being around after she threw herself at the Doctor rather than any real guilt. She never apologized to Rory or anything and still hasn't. I also notice at the end of the episode she shows Rory genuine affection but she never tells him she loves him even though she tells the Doctor she's never said it. I would have thought that would have been the first thing she did when she saw him still alive which makes me think her reaction was out of grief and not out of true love. That makes me doubt she would have actually risked killing herself no matter how sad she felt especially with her unborn baby in her belly. And that act also makes Amy again come across as a very selfish character. If she had shown a bit more love and concern for Rory prior to this episode even in a very subtle way I think her act of suicide would have come across as more believable. But in every episode prior to this it appears that she thinks of Rory as more of a friend or brother than the man of her dreams. So I'm still not convinced they belong together but I do look forward to where they go from here and I hope Rory makes it passed the three adventure limit for male companions traveling in the TARDIS that Adam, Captain Jack and Mickey did not. I know it sounds like I'm bitching here but I'm actually finding analyzing Amy's and Rory's relationship to be highly entertaining and very enjoyable. I just wish they had incorporated a few more tell-tale signs that perhaps Amy did feel more for Rory than they indicated in the previous episodes to make it a more consistent narrative.

As for the character of the Dream Lord, it seems obvious to me he's meant to be a precursor or variation of the Valeyard. Some fans really hate the Valeyard and really hate that whole era so I could see the writers not making the connection on screen as well as the advantage of avoiding explaining the rather complex Trial of a Time Lord epic. But the intent seems clear to me as the portrayal seems very consistent with how he was portrayed in Trial. Perhaps a bit more humorous and fun-loving but still menacing and filled with hate for his "good" side. In fact this could be the origin of the Valeyard as it were. A lot of fans disagree and think its too "fanwankish" but honestly there's a lot of fanwank in Doctor Who and that's almost always been a part of its history to one extent or another. And while perhaps Simon Nye was unaware of the Valeyard's existence, The Moff is a big fan so its unlikely the show runner who brought us continuity between the solar flares in The Ark in Space and The Beast Below as well as references to the planet Terserus in The Curse of Fatal Death which was only mentioned briefly in The Deadly Assassin and brought us Time Agents from The Empty Child who were again only mentioned briefly in The Talons of Weng-Chiang would be unaware of the Valeyard character. And it although of course in a sense the Doctor has met himself before it seems obvious from the script that the Doctor quickly deduces who the Dream Lord is and implies he's encountered him before. I'm not sure how obvious that would have been if not for the Doctor's previous knowledge of the Valeyard because it certainly wasn't obvious to me until he said it at the end.

A good thing is that there was room left between The Vampires of Venice and Amy's Choice to allow for other adventures with Rory which is both cool and is probably where the second set of 11th Doctor novels fit in since Rory is in all of them. I think the first set take place in between Victory of the Daleks and The Time of Angels because that's really the only opportunity for them to fit so far.

And now for the comparison of the sixth stories for every Doctor:

1) Earthshock by Eric Saward
2) The Aztecs by John Lucarotti
3) Terror of the Zygons by Robert Banks Stewart
4) Rise of the Cybermen by Tom MacRae
5) Amy's Choice by Simon Nye
6) The Mind of Evil by Don Houghton
7) The Faceless Ones by David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke
8) The Long Game by Russell T. Davies
9) Timelash by Glen McCoy
10) The Happiness Patrol by Graeme Curry

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Doctor Who - The Vampires of Venice

This episode really felt a lot like something from the Hinchcliffe era of Tom Baker's Doctor. A horror story with aliens and other sci-fi elements.

I really liked the Saturnynes and I wouldn't mind seeing a return for them down the road sometime.

Toby Whithouse (School Reunion) delivered an excellent script with great character moments for the Doctor, Rory and Amy. It picked up after least week's episode dealing with the consequences of Amy's attempting to throw herself at the Doctor. I would have expected Rory to be a bit angrier with Amy and I would have liked if he had stood up for himself more but then that's probably part of the reason Amy is drawn to the Doctor because Rory is allowing himself to be walked all over by her. But I liked the balance of humor applied to the situation (with some truly laugh out loud scenes) and emotional resonance showing how much it did affect Rory. And the Doctor really comes across as a hero trying to awkwardly unite the two lovers whilst at the same time not knowing when not to say something. That's one aspect of the current Doctor I really like is the fact that he often seems to say things that sound better inside his head than when uttered aloud.

I loved Rory's confrontation with Francesco which was both awkwardly heroic and also very funny as well. Its also interesting to note that in the confidential Karen Gillan gets carried away with kissing Arthur Darvill and forgets she's supposed to pull away and the kissing keeps going and going. A similar thing happened in Flesh and Stone when she was making a pass at the Doctor and put her hand on the inside of Matt Smith's thigh. Apparently Miss Gillan is a method actor when it comes to love scenes. ;)

I really like the dynamic between the three members of the TARDIS crew and Rory is back again for the next episode. I hope he stays around as a permanent member of the team to freshen things up from the one companion dynamic.

Again the crack plays an integral part of the plot and builds the mystery of the ongoing story arc. Or should I say arcs as Amy's and Rory's impending wedding appears to also be a major part of the series arc as well.

The only real problem I had with the story was that sunlight only seemed to bother the Saturnynes at the writer's convenience. However, upon a second viewing, I noticed that they do try to cover up when outdoors. Apparently its only direct sunlight or ultraviolet light that can hurt them so they are just uncomfortable otherwise. I think I was applying traditional vampire rules to them whilst first watching it and they are far from traditional vampires. Amy's good fortune at being able to reflect a beam of sunlight from her compact seems a bit too convenient but she does comment on her luck with it.

Time for my Doctor Who fifth story comparison list:

1) Dalek by Robert Shearman
2) The Two Doctors by Robert Holmes
3) Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch
4) Terror of the Autons by Robert Holmes
5) The Girl in the Fireplace by Steven Moffat
6) The Vampires of Venice by Toby Whithouse
7) Revenge of the Cybermen by Gerry Davis
8) Black Orchid by Terence Dudley
9) The Keys of Marinus by Terry Nation
10) The Macra Terror by Ian Stuart Black

And I would say fifth stories tend to be very strong as I really actually like all of these a lot and it made it very difficult to place them in order. The Macra Terror probably suffers from my having only seen it as a reconstruction.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Doctor Who - The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

I think I'd call this story The Time of Angels as a whole. That's one change I'd have liked The Moff to have made is having a story title instead of two separate episode titles. I think its less confusing that way and call me "old school" but I just like it better.

This was the strongest story of the season so far in my opinion and I think having two episodes to give the story time to breathe really worked. Both The Beast Below and Victory of the Daleks where very enjoyable but probably would have been even stronger if they had more time to build the mysteries behind the events and to allow for more character development between the supporting characters.

The Weeping Angels are very cool monsters but I thought going into the episode "What more can you really do with them without repeating yourself after Blink?" The Moff managed to take these one-note monsters and turn them into much more and make them even scarier.

The mystery of River Song also deepened with some rather surprising tidbits revealed. Although we still don't know much specifics about who or what she is to the Doctor, she is quickly becoming one of the most fascinating characters in all of Doctor Who history. I consider myself to now be a River Song "shipper".

Unlike previous series this year the running story arcs are much more prevalent and also much more interesting than any since "Bad Wolf". This story added a lot to the ongoing plot lines of the crack and Amy's impending wedding.

Speaking of the wedding; I was quite shocked and a bit put off when I heard what was to happen between the Doctor and Amy in this story. This was quite a change from the Doctor Who I grew up with. My main issue not so much being the idea that the companion tries to seduce the Doctor but rather that she was doing so on the night before her wedding. If she had just been trying to seduce the Doctor, it would have just been a very funny scene but the infidelity part of it made it a bit less funny to me. Seeing as how the companions are the heroes of the story along with the Doctor this was quite a surprising turn of events to have a character doing something that I felt was not moralistic at all and seeming to not have any qualms or thoughts about her husband-to-be's feelings at all. Even worse I discovered on my message board haunts that most (about 3/4 I'd say) had absolutely no issue with someone cheating on their fiance on the day before their wedding. It seems as if infidelity has become such an everyday practice in our society that its no longer even a big deal. I find that both disturbing and disappointing. I realize people make mistakes and certainly Amy's character can be forgiven for her actions but it did make me a little less sympathetic to her character. Part of it is I think I identify a bit more to Rory's position in the "triangle" as it were as opposed to Amy's. And also my personality type is predisposed to being a bit judgmental and a stickler when it comes to our morals.

However, it was a very funny scene and the Doctor behaved perfectly in it. And kudos to The Moff for handling a potentially controversial scene so very well. The fact that he was able to drum up such strong emotions in someone (me) who rarely has any real emotional reaction to characters or events in a story (other than enjoyment and excitement) is a real testament to his abilities as a writer. I really look forward to seeing how all of this plays out.

Here is my now traditional list of comparing stories for every Doctor. These are from best to worst the fourth stories for every Doctor.

1) Genesis of the Daleks by Terry Nation
2) Inferno by Don Houghton
3) The Time of Angels by Steven Moffat
4) Marco Polo by John Lucarotti
5) School Reunion by Toby Whithouse
6) The Visitation by Eric Saward
7) The Mark of the Rani by Pip Baker and Jane Baker
8) The Moonbase by Kit Pedler
9) Aliens of London by Russell T. Davies
10) Dragonfire by Ian Briggs

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Doctor Who - Victory of the Daleks

That was quite a fast-paced romp. A bit too fast actually. I think this was a story that unquestionably would have been better as a two-parter giving it time to breathe.

Having said that, I did enjoy it quite a bit. I liked the relationship between the Doctor and Churchill and I also liked the character of Bracewell although his revelation came too quickly and early in the story to give it time to truly be a mystery.

Amy was a bit underused in this episode but with so much going on its understandable why and its also understandable why the Doctor leaves her behind before confronting the Daleks. Although you would have thought she would have put up more of a protest. After all, didn't the Doctor take off in the TARDIS twice before leaving her behind fpr 12 years and 2 years respectively? Wouldn't she be worried how long it would take for him to get back to her?

As for the new Daleks I must say they're certainly not a "radical redesign" or nearly as bad as been posted elsewhere. They are perfectly fine and I think the only reason people are so bent out of shape is that the previous design actually looks better. If these where the Daleks introduced during Doctor Who's 2005 rebirth I think people would be fine with them. And although there's a lot of hating on the colors, I like that the different colors actually mean something now and I hope they stick to those job designations consistently over their next few appearances at least.

One side note is that there's a cameo by writer/actor Mark Gatiss (The Unquiet Dead, The Idiot's Lantern) who formerly played Dr. Lazarus in The Lazarus Experiment as the pilot Danny-Boy although his face is covered, most likely to avoid confusion with Lazarus.

There's a lot of rumors that Gatiss is the next "chosen one" whenever Moffat relinquishes the reigns as showrunner. Although his writing tends to not be as strong as Moffat, he is on par with RTD in my opinion so far. I think if this does indeed happen years from now, Doctor Who will be in most capable hands as Gatiss is another hard-core lifelong Doctor Who fan. Although I suspect we would again see the thing Doctor Who fans fear more than the Daleks: CHANGE! Obama sure would have been screwed if it had been solely Doctor Who fans voting.

Here is my now traditional list comparing the Doctor's respective third stories.

1. The Sontaran Experiment by Bob Baker and Dave Martin
2. The Unquiet Dead by Mark Gatiss
3. Vengeance On Varos by Philip Martin
4. Kinda by Christopher Bailey
5. Victory of the Daleks by Mark Gatiss
6. The Edge of Destruction by David Whitaker
7. Tooth and Claw by Russell T. Davies
8. The Ambassadors of Death by David Whitaker, Trevor Ray, Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks
9. The Underwater Menace by Geoffrey Orme
10. Delta and the Bannermen by Malcolm Kohll

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Doctor Who - The Beast Below

Another strong episode from The Moff with a rather interesting perspective on how democracy works and how people tend to vote to forget rather than stand up for what is right.

This episode had a lot of trademarked Moff humor and was again really dark and creepy. We also had a really interesting character in Liz Ten although with the shorter story length of post 2005 Who, perhaps a bit underdeveloped.

The story also developed the character of Amy further and continued some mysteries from The Eleventh Hour.

One nice touch of continuity to the Tom Baker era was a reference to the Earth being left uninhabitable in the 29th Century by solar flares which was referring to events first related in "The Ark in Space" and "The Sontaran Experiment".

My only real complaint is that I feel the Smilers and Winders were underused and lacked impact other than just being creepy. They looked like they had the potential to be really memorable villains but instead they were not really very effective other than being scary. If the story had been longer they probably would have had the opportunity to actually do something in the episode.

Oh, and I'm not sure how the Star Whale threw them up without ejecting them into space. But other than those two things, really very solid.

MATT SMITH IS THE DOCTOR! He is very natural in this role and I can see why The Moff chose him despite his reservations about his age. He is brilliant! I think he's similar in some ways to Tennant and has a few similarities to other Doctors as well. He doesn't have as many distinctly obvious characteristics as Tennant or Eccleston did so far but its still early days. I'm sure there will be things other than "Geronimo" which will feel distinctly Smith.

Speaking of which, I heard the "Geronimo" lines have been ad-libbed by Smith since "The End of Time" with him sneaking them in even though Moffat hasn't written them in as his catchphrase.

KAREN GILLAN IS AMY POND! Okay, she doesn't have anyone else to share that honor with except her cousin (and honestly Caitlin Blackwood probably could give her a run for her money given how good she is in The Eleventh Hour) but I really like Amy. I like the air of mystery about her and I like her spunk. Right now as far as post 2005 companions go, I think I like her better than Rose, Mickey, Adam, Martha and Wilf. Captain Jack and Donna still beat her for now but she's got the edge on both of them with the cuteness factor.

Here is the second of my series of lists comparing each Doctor's stories to each other. This one is a list of favorite second adventures for each Doctor from best to last. (The 8th Doctor is done already having only had one televised adventure.)

1. The End of the World by Russell T. Davies
2. Paradise Towers by Stephen Wyatt
3. The Silurians by Malcolm Hulke
4. The Daleks by Terry Nation
5. The Ark in Space by Robert Holmes
6. The Beast Below by Steven Moffat
7. Attack of the Cybermen by Paula Moore (Paula Woolsey and Eric Saward)
8. Four to Doomsday by Terence Dudley
9. New Earth by Russell T. Davies
10. The Highlanders by Elwyn Jones and Gerry Davis

Another interesting note is how The Moff seems to be continuing a pattern set up by RTD of where and when the stories take place. "Rose", "The Christmas Invasion" and "The Eleventh Hour" are all set on present day Earth. "The End of the World", "New Earth" and "The Beast Below" all set far in the future dealing with the relocation of humanity following an apocalyptic event. Its a trend that seems to be continuing this week as well with the Doctor taking his companion to Earth's past to meet an historical figure; "The Unquiet Dead" with Charles Dickens, "Tooth and Claw" with Queen Victoria and "Victory of the Daleks" with Winston Churchill. We'll see how long this pattern continues...(Cue end theme with swirly time vortex visuals)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Doctor Who - The Eleventh Hour

This was a great beginning for The Moff's reign as new showrunner for Series Fnarg. Fast-paced but not so much so that there weren't nice character moments or that they forgot to resolve anything that wasn't intended to be part of the series story-arc. The dialog and characterization were great as always from The Moff.

Matt Smith is going to be a great Doctor. He captured the essence of the character immediately. I love all of the Doctors honestly but it nice to know we're 11 for 11.

Karen Gillan is going to be great. Its always nice to have an attractive companion but its even better to have one who is fun, spunky and an interesting character. I think she's going to be the big mystery as the series continues and we find out more about her character and the mysterious crack. Since I like her she's probably going to go all Dark Phoenix/Lyta Alexander at the end. Its what spunky redheads do.

Loved the TARDIS interior. A bit RTD era mixed with the grandeur and retro Earth tech of the McGann TARDIS. I love that it looks even bigger inside than the last one.

The crack and Prisoner Zero were really creepy which a signature of the Moff, knowing what creeps people out.

Loved the Atraxi ships. I thought they were a brilliant alien design.

I honestly can't think of a bad thing to say about it. I don't think I liked it quite as much as the other 4 Moff stories but they were some of the best Doctor Who stories of all time and its darn difficult to keep topping yourself.

Speaking of which, time for one of my favorite things, a list;

Debut stories of each Doctor in order of how much I enjoyed them:

1. Doctor Who (TV Movie) by Matthew Jacobs
2. Spearhead From Space by Robert Holmes
3. The Power of the Daleks by David Whitaker
4. The Eleventh Hour by Steven Moffat
5. Castrovalva by Christopher H. Bidmead
6. The Christmas Invasion by Russell T. Davies
7. Rose by Russell T. Davies
8. Time and the Rani by Pip Baker and Jane Baker
9. Robot by Terrance Dicks
10. An Unearthly Child by Anthony Coburn
11. The Twin Dilemma by Anthony Steven