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