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Doctor Who Ends the Season With a Bang! July 25, 2010

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Following from the cliffhanger of the previous episode The Pandorica Opens we encounter The Big Bang part Duex, to me more correct.

As with any Doctor Who episode you have to pay close attention to the details. In The Big Bang this is ever so much more the case. The story unfolds a complete reboot of our entire reality because the exploding TARDIS effectively collapsed all history, and all existence, at all points in time and space. This unlikely premise seems crazy, but is explained, provided you pay attention and think. But don’t think too hard, because the story, like the entire season preceding it, is writer Moffat’s version of a fairy tale and plays on the innate importance of imagination, memory and myth.


There is a lot of time jumping, and alternate timelines, which makes one, question the many paradoxes of time travel. Can you really meet your future or past self? Perhaps only in the mythology of the Whoverse is that possible.

And so our characters are now living in the reality of the Universe created by Big Bang Two, which is very like the Universe of Big Bang One. What this means exactly is anyone’s guess. It’s hard to say what the ramifications of the second Big Bang will be. It could be used as a way to undo some things from the RTD era or to bring back characters we thought were dead.

Too much paradox?

I don’t want to give away the biggest spoiler, but to say that as far as Doctor Who season finales go, this one was highly unusual in that it left many unanswered questions for next season. The only question it didn’t ask was a question of cast, as it looks like all the principles will be returning, and (yeah!) we now have our first married companion couple onboard the TARDIS and traveling with the Doctor. Until now, the TARDIS has been a sex-free zone. How will Amy and Rory deal with that aspect of married life? Moreover how will the BBC deal with it?

My biggest rave has to be Matt Smith this season. There have been some wobbles, but by ‘Pandorica’ and ‘Big Bang’ he has proven to inhabit the Doctor and meet all challenges and naysayers in taking over the role from fan favorite David Tennant.

Best Quote:
“I’ve got questions, but number one is this: What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?” —River Song, just prior to yanking off the Doctor’s fez and shooting it.
A fez dies a glorious death

Best Parts:
The moments when the Doctor is tucking in little Amelia and telling his ‘story’ was supurb. “A daft old man who stole (well borrowed) a magic box.” I was riveted to Smith there. He really was great at showing all of the Doctor’s long years, and his obvious love of the TARDIS. “Big and little at the same time. Brand new and ancient. And the bluest blue ever.”

A daft old man who stole a magic box

How can you not love little Amelia Pond? [Caitlin Blackwood and also an actual relation to Karen Gillan]

Worst Parts: Some things really did make no sense. It was Big on the whimsy and sentiment, but shoddy on the science. Then again, we are talking about what is essentially a fairy tale.

My Rating: A very good end to a good (if unusual) season. I just had hoped for a little bit more. Sonic-Four.


A Pandora’s Box of a Season Finale July 20, 2010

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This week’s Doctor Who episode initiates part one of the season finale, and ‘The Pandorica Opens,’ was definitely a jam-packed box!

We are flung through this episode at a breakneck pace. In the first few minutes we follow a frantic River Song through a series of quick vignettes featuring past and perhaps future characters as she tries to contact the Doctor and get a Vortex Manipulator so she can time travel and meet up with him and Amy at a Roman-era Stonehenge.

River, you are the Doctor's Han Solo?

I love River’s unique way of leaving the Doctor messages, and this time she does so by defacing a cliff on the ‘oldest planet in the Universe,’ which contains the oldest known untranslatable message (nice little nod to So Long and Thanks for All the Fish). The setting at Stonehenge, which I believe was partially filmed on location, was simply breathtaking!

Salisbury Plain and Romans

So much happens in such a short time. The Pandoria (which holds the most dangerous thing in the Universe) begins to open, Rory returns as a Roman, River Song flies the hijacked TARDIS and gets trapped inside, the Doctor’s enemies gather at Stonehenge, and oh, Rory is actually a Auton and he shoots Amy!

In the end, we have the Doctor in a box—literally.

Saving the Universe from the Doctor?

As with all good cliffhangers, we should be left with more questions than answers, and Moffat delivered on all accounts. This is what ‘Doctor Who’ is all about.

Best Quote: The Doctor to a resurrected Rory–
“The Universe is big, it’s vast, and complicated, and ridiculous, and sometimes—very rarely—impossible things just happen and we call them miracles…and, that’s the theory. In 900 years I’ve never seen one yet, but this would do me.”

Best Parts: Wow, Autons, Daleks, Sontarians, River Song is Cleopatra, Rory, and a really Big Box. What’s not to love?

Worst Parts: It all went by so fast that I was forced to watch it twice for the quotes—damn!

My Rating: A great beginning to the end! Sonic-Four.

The Doctor as Roommate July 13, 2010

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This week’s episode of ‘Doctor Who’ placed the Doctor (Matt Smith) into the life of ordinary man Craig (James Corden) where he must assimilate into the roommate routine of football, and pizza-beer-tele nights.

I hate it when people drink from the milk!

The Doctor mostly goes it alone in this episode, while companion Amy is left behind in a time-looping TARDIS, unable to land. Following a note left by Amy in the future he tracks the time disturbance to Craig’s flat. Over the coming days, the Doctor must try to determine what is happening upstairs that makes a gross mold-spot on the ceiling of Craig’s flat.

This episode, placed, as it was after the emotional “Vincent” and prior to the season finale, was a fun filler episode. Primarily, we get to see the Doctor in a fish-out-of-water tale, and Smith gets to hone his comedy chops when paired with well-known comedian Corden. The two play nicely off one another and makes for some of the story’s funniest gags.

What is UP with this creepy picture?

As far as ‘Doctor Who’ episodes go, this was not one of the best sci-fi stories. The ending was completely preposterous, even for ‘Doctor Who,’ that’s saying quite a lot! Still, there were many fun moments and lines, and we got to see a wholly different aspect of Smith as Doctor number Eleven.

Best Parts:
The Doctor: weirder than the weirdest human.
We got to see a lot of Matt Smith.

The Doc still has sticky-uppy hair.

Enlisting a cat as a spy. Brilliant!

The Doctor can cook?

Worst Parts: Light on the sci-fi.

My Rating: Amusing situation, but the ending was weak and unsatisfying so I’m give it a 2 out of 5.

A Starry, Starry Night for the Doctor June 27, 2010

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Well. I really liked Vincent and the Doctor, despite the rather silly monster of the week. The blind monster-chicken-thing didn’t matter really, because the heart of the story was Vincent (a wonderful Tony Curran) and a very restrained Doctor.

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer’s day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.

I’m not familiar with Curran’s work, but I will be looking into his other roles based on what he’s done here.

Vincent and the Doctor

Perhaps it’s because I’m an artist. Perhaps it was the sad and tortured Vincent van Gogh. Perhaps it was the release of emotion after last week when Rory died. I don’t know, but this episode had me in tears at the end, just as Vincent was, in a museum of the future seeing and hearing how the world loved his art. There was something very poignant about the fact that the Doctor couldn’t save Rory, knows he can’t save Vincent either, but at least he could give him that one moment of adulation and respect all artists seek.

But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

When Doctor Who can make me cry, I know it’s been a good episode.

Best Parts: Vincent

Worst Parts: A blind chicken? Really? Who cares?

Playing Identify that Alien!

My Rating: Lovely. I think this could possibly be my favorite episode of the season. A rare Sonic-Five.

The Science of Doctor Who, By Paul Parsons June 25, 2010

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I love the plethora of science shows available today that cover everything from going Through the Wormhole with actor Morgan Freeman to learning about The Science of Science Fiction with theoretical physicist with Michio Kaku. Heck, we can even go Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking.

It’s no surprise then, that I gravitated toward a book about the real science [yes, there actually is some!] behind the TV show Doctor Who. Beware however; this book is not for the faint of heart or science haters. It is a book about real science, not a history of Doctor Who.

I love science, especially astrophysics and theoretical physics, but unfortunately my brain didn’t like the math. Parsons goes easy on the math, but still gets you up-to-date on some of the ideas behind the science of the show and our favorite alien, the Doctor.

Parsons covers such things as how the TARDIS may work, how it may travel in space and time, and why the Doctor and his people may have evolved with two hearts on Gallifrey, while us humans on Earth have only one. Parsons even attempts to explain why the Doctor remains so steadfastly asexual despite have so many nubile young companions.

Best Parts:
Full coverage of how all the Doctor’s sonic toys might work
How humans are learning to regenerate like Time Lords
Owning a roadworthy wormhole
Taking a journey through E-Space

“He got it wrong on the first line! Why didn’t he ask someone who saw it happen?”
—The Forth Doctor reading Origins of the Universe by Oolon Caluphid.

Worst Parts:
My only quibble (such as it is) would be that so much of this stuff has already been covered elsewhere AND in a more visually pleasing format on some of the shows listed above, most notably that of Michio Kaku. However, those shows never reference Doctor Who directly, as Parsons does, so for Who fans who want that direct connection, this book is a winner.

Sonic Rating:

Cold Blood Left Me Rather Cold June 21, 2010

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I was hoping the second half of this week’s Doctor Who episode would exceed the first part entitled “The Hungry Earth,” as the back half of two-part stories usually do. However, with the exception of the last ten minutes I was left almost as cold blooded as the Silurians and felt that much of the episode dragged on.

The shape of things to come?

Despite this, the episode did have some good points. I give kudos to the fine supporting cast in this story. The performances of Nasreen (Meera Syal), Tony Mac (Robert Pugh), Ambrose (Nia Roberts), and their reptilian counterparts Alaya/Restac (Neve McIntosh), Malohikeh (Richard Hope), and Eldane (Stephen Moore) were all top notch and managed to transcend the oftentimes-general silliness of the plot.

The idea of us humans having to share the planet with the original Silurian inhabitants should have provided a little more drama that what it eventually did and I was a little disappointed at the outcome. This idea should have provided more tension, and the whole negotiation table scene could have been truncated. We all knew they wouldn’t come to an agreement on how to share Earth now didn’t we? Humans can’t even manage to share a country or silly strip of land without wars, let alone a whole planet! It is an interesting idea that the Silurians will wake up in 3010 along with Nasreen and Tony Mac… but that’s a tale for another time.

Nasreen and Tony Mac prepare for life underground.

Oh my God, they killed Rory. You bastards!

The best part of the story came in the last few minutes with the death of Rory (Arthur Darvill) and the reappearance of the Crack. I’ve liked the addition of Rory as companion and hate that he bought it here at the hands of the Silurian She-Devil Restac. I’m hoping that it won’t be the end of Rory since Time can be unwritten/rewritten. It wouldn’t be the first time a companion “died” only to be brought back somehow. Remember that Rose supposedly died, as did Donna, but really other things happened. Whatever the outcome proves to be with Rory and the broken-up TARDIS, it was some nice work there with Matt, Karen, and Arthur at the end of this episode. Poor Rory.

Elegy for Rory.

Best Parts: The Death of Rory
Worst Parts: The Death of Rory

My Rating: First 35 minutes = 2. Last 10 minutes = 5. I guess that averages a 3.

I know I’m not supposed to break it up this way, but that how I roll.

Drilling Only Leads to Trouble June 14, 2010

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I liked this week’s Doctor Who episode, “The Hungry Earth,” but was not overly wowed by it. It’s hard to say with this one until you see the second part and how it will all play out. This episode was mostly the set-up of the story for the Doctor to encounter one of his old foes, the Silurians. I did really like the secondary characters in this episode, especially Meera Syal as Dr. Nasreen Chaudhry. How cool was it that the Doctor took her with him in the TARDIS to go under the Earth! They didn’t get specific, but I’m taking it that she was a geologist, and she instantly had that sense of adventure and discovery shared with the Doctor. Saucy too—snapping his braces! It’s those little touches that can make a character believable. I really hope she doesn’t get killed, as is often the case with “Doctor Who” secondary characters.

A saucy doctor. Relax, it's not what you think.

There was a very interesting bit about the future Amy and Rory standing up on the hillside waving. This seems to play into the ongoing series theme with the Crack.

Matt Smith showed a touching bit of vulnerability when the Doctor tells Rory, “C’mon—Please. I need you along side me.” It was nice, and not something the Doctor does often, admitting that he really does need that dose of humanity in his life. I have to say that I still love the addition of Rory (Arthur Darvill) as traveling companion. In some ways I almost see that friendship being more important than the Doctor/Amy one.

Best Parts: Some great supporting characters, especially the drill operators Nasreen and Tony but also some nice work from Neve McIntosh as the stinging reptilian-humanoid Alaya.

Worst Parts: The setup of the cameras around the church was a pointless exercise, both to the story and our time.

More suspense could have been made over the point that “While you were drilling down, someone was drilling up.” I kept expecting to see something coming, well UP, and was disappointed at the rather lackluster appearance of the female Silurian in the woods.

My Rating: Interesting, but not awe-inspiring. I give it an average 2-1/2 out of 5.

A Gothic Vampire Honeymoon May 22, 2010

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Vampires of Venice. I really enjoyed this episode!

First of all, this episode looked absolutely gorgeous! The 16th Century Venice (actually Croatia) settings, locations, and costumes were all just stunning and looked more big budget than they probably were. In fact, I think this was one of the best-looking NuWho’s I can remember over the past several seasons.

It was a good story and if not exactly a pure historical episode, it felt historical. As overdone as they are, Vampires continually make good scary/creepy story material and the twist of them being alien was cool, but not entirely unexpected. I was not expecting fish-aliens though (I wonder if they are related to the Hath?). Helen McCrory was excellent as Rosanna, Queen Mother of the Saturnynian, and I actually found myself feeling just a little bit sorry for her in the end. Really, she was just trying to help her species survive (WHY won’t these people ever listen to the Doctor when he is willing to give them a chance!). Rosanna’s face-off with the Doctor was extremely interesting to watch and showed that Matt Smith is proving more than capable in the role of the Doctor. Smith’s Doctor is proving to be a man who is a little more easily unnerved than previous Doctors. Then again, it could just be because he knows of the impending Cracks as he remembers Rosanna’s words, “We saw silence, and the end of all things…”

I’m loving the addition of Amy’s fiancé Rory (Arthur Darvill) to the TARDIS and I hope he proves to be a valued companion and not just another half-companion the way Mickey sometimes was. The Doctor seems pretty clear on not having any romantic entanglements with Amy, which is a good thing, and I’d like to see Amy and Rory become more like the Barbra/Ian dynamic of old.

Best Parts: Lots of funny moments!

The Doctor popping out of a cake at the stag party—more than once!
Dig the old library card with the first Doctor’s (Hartnell) photo on it!
Love the Steampunk-inspired goggles and the new TARDIS set.

A good twist on the Vampires, which is saying something considering how oversaturated that subject matter currently is.

Worst Parts: Yet another ending that involves the Doctor climbing a tower or spire to dismantle some alien piece of gadgetry that will advert disaster and save the day. We tend to see this ending quite a lot in Doctor Who and it should really be more original.

My Rating: Quite nice, I give it a 3-1/2 out 5.

Find The Crack. A Message to the Doctor? May 7, 2010

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Are the writers of FRINGE sending a message to Moffat over the pond at Doctor Who?

Last night brought us yet another excellent episode of FRINGE. The episode, entitled Northwest Passage, was noticeable in that Peter (Joshua Jackson) flies solo this time in an adventure of his own. Peter is running away from his own self perhaps after realizing he was actually taken from the alternate universe as a boy [S216 “Peter” and S219 “The Man from the Other Side”]. While traveling and getting some alone time, Peter becomes embroiled in a murder case in Noyo County; and he’s seen these murders before at the hands of the people from the Other Parallel Earth. During the investigation, Peter goes from chief suspect to chief investigator, helping the local law enforcement catch a killer. Small-town Sheriff Mathis has a fancy pen with an engraved motto that reads “Find The Crack” a gift from her partner who believed in her. After the investigation wraps up, she passes the pen (and some wisdom) along to Peter with the hope he will find his place in the world as well.

Maybe I’m just a bit too much of a geek, or maybe I’ve just been watching too much sci-fi television lately, but the pointed message FIND THE CRACK seems just a little too coincidental given what has been going on over in the Whoverse. Is there a little wink wink, nod nod going on to Doctor Who? Either way, I’m loving it! FRINGE is much improved over its first season, and the last several episodes since the mid-season break have been excellent examples of science fiction writing and terrific acting from the cast, most especially from John Noble (Walter). Heck, they even got through a period-themed fairy tale story singalong last week. Whatever is happening over there in the Fringe offices (Brown Betty perhaps?) keep up the good work!

A Candy-Colored Daleks To Victory Tour April 30, 2010

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I don’t like robots.  Call them what you will: Cyborgs, Androids, Replicants, or Stepford Wives, they just don’t scare me very much.

That is why I was prepared for this week’s Doctor Who episode, “Victory of the Daleks” to NOT be one of my favorites.  Ever popular, the Daleks made their debut in 1963 and are perhaps the Doctor’s oldest and most deadly foe; the race responsible for wiping out the Doctor’s home planet and people in a long and agonizing war.  Not bad for a bunch of cyborg trashcans equipped with plungers and eggbeaters for appendages.

The episode starts as a curious World War II setup.  Winston Churchill (a pithy Ian McNeice) is set to employ the Daleks as a secret weapon during the Blitz.  On the surface, the military-green Union Flag wearing Dalek is prepared to help the Allied cause claiming, “I am your soldier!” but when you mash-up the Doctor and the Daleks you know you’re just asking for trouble.

If you like Dalek episodes, you won’t be disappointed.  The Daleks have been destroyed by the Doctor many times over by now.  Yet you can ALWAYS be certain that a few of them will manage to survive and somehow flung across the Universe to come back to pester the Doctor.  This time around, we find that they actually need the Doctor to re-activate the “pure” Dalek strain.  Their greatest enemy is also their savior.

Not my favorite episode, but as I said before I don’t really care for Dalek and Cybermen themed Doctor Who episodes.  Otherwise, some fun moments, including the reveal of the candy-colored Daleks, which reminded me of the famous “flavored” iMac ads.

Best Parts: Professor Edwin Bracewell is a robot!  The Doctor holds off the Daleks with a raspberry cookie!  The War Room, Churchill, London during the Blitz and Spitfires in Space!

Worst Parts: The Daleks — Again!

My Rating: Robots are just o.k.   I wish Moffat had waited awhile longer for the Daleks to reappear.   I give it a 2 out 5.