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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.

A TARDIS Sun

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.







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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.





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.

The Psychic Pollen Mystery Tour is Waiting to Take You Away June 7, 2010

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So, the Doctor’s Freudian Id is really a snarky little man who hates himself and has a penchant for redheads?

Dream stories can be an obscure and strange muddle (Jacob’s Ladder anyone) dealing as they do with the human psyche, and this one is no different. At first, I was thinking the Dream Lord (Toby Jones at his sarcastic best) was similar to, or an aspect of the Trickster as seen lately in the “Sarah Jane Adventures,” so I was actually a little surprised at the very low-key reveal of the psychic pollen at the end of the episode. In thinking about it though, it does make perfect sense. We’ve known for some time that the Doctor carries a lot of self-loathing for what happened during the Time War and the events that led to the destruction of Gallifrey. It’s a heavy burden to bear. It also forces us to ponder some interesting and uncomfortable questions about the Doctor and his relationship with Amy, the addition of her fiancé Rory (who dies in the “dream”) and the representation of Amy being pregnant. Oh my, what would Freud say!

The Doctor confronts his id.

When I first viewed this episode I was on the proverbial fence in thinking about whether I liked it or not. After a repeat viewing, I found the story much improved even though the element of mystery about the Dream Lord was removed. Doctor Who is at its best when it forces you to think just a little bit harder, and this dreamy episode hits the mark on many levels, delivering highs of insightful interpersonal relationships as well as the lows of a tawdry quirk shop.

What is scarier, geriatric aliens or this jumper?

Best Quotes:
Doctor: “No, No, No… Ice can burn—Sofas can read—It’s a big Universe.”
Amy: “If we’re gonna die, let’s die looking like a Peruvian folk band”

Best Parts:
Elderly people brandishing lawn equipment as weapons! Priceless Doctor Who!
Toby Jones as the acerbic, one-liner zinging Dream Lord.

Worst Parts:
I think what surprises me most, is that the Doctor’s brain and psyche would be so similar to a human’s or why he would be so affected by the psychic pollen which caused him to fall asleep and dream.

The fact that yes, the Doctor really hates himself that much.

My Rating: First pass garnered a 3 out of 5. Revised rating 4 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.





Aren’t We All Fairy Tales? May 16, 2010

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Aren’t We All Fairy Tales?

Who would have thought that the creepy Weeping Angels weren’t the most important thing in this weeks concluding two-part Doctor Who episode?

The Angels make a grab for the Doctor.

Instead, as we follow the Doctor and friends through the wreck of the spaceship Byzantium while trying to evade a horde of killer stone statutes we find that the real danger is something even the Angels fear: The Crack in the Wall.

The Cracks, as they are called, have been appearing all over the place this Series and the Doctor is as yet unaware of exactly what is causing them.  They are huge Time Fields, cracks in time and space and the big one on the Byzantium exudes “the fire from the end of the Universe.” If it envelops you, it will erase all of your timeline as though you never existed.  This has been a large part of the Series overall story arc and is also connected to the repeated warning that “The Pandorica will open and silence will fall.”  The Doctor deems this warning to be a fairy tale, to which astute archaeologist River Song replies: “Aren’t we all.”

The episode reveals more hints about the mystery of Amy Pond, her missing memory of the Daleks, the duck pond, and the Doctor’s growing realization that Amy is more involved and related to the Cracks than he may have previously thought.

This episode will surely be controversial in a few respects.  The Weeping Angels, while creepy, were not as all-powerful as we thought.  River Song drops many hints about her future, revealing that she did indeed kill a man.  Perhaps the most controversial of all is the final scene in which Amy asks the Doctor to take her home, only so she can (with hilarious results) seduce the Doctor.

What's scarier, Angels or Amy?

Oh, and there may just be more than one Doctor running about.  Time, it seems, can be rewritten and unwritten.  I do so like fairy tales.

Best Quotes: Doctor: “River Song, I could bloody kiss you!”

River Song: “Maybe when you’re older.”

Best Parts: What if time could run out?

Amy deciding to jump the Doctor’s bones, and even better, the fact that it took him so long to catch on to it.

Father Octavian (Ian Glen) we wish we could’ve known you better.

Worst Parts: The Weeping Angels weren’t quite as scary as they were in “Blink.”

Verdict: Really good. Perhaps a few minor glitches, but very solid.

The Return of Angels and River Song May 10, 2010

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Saturday’s Doctor Who episode “The Return of Angels” is the first of a two-part episode where Moffat returns two of the most intriguing and popular characters of recent NewWho, villains The Weeping Angels and futuristic archaeologist River Song (the delightfully sassy and sexy Alex Kingston).

The Weeping Angels, last seen in the 2007 episode “Blink” have proven to be one of the scariest villains ever on Doctor Who, and are no less scary here, imbibed as they are with additional powers and abilities due to the crash of the spaceship Byzantium on the planet Alfava Metraxis and its subsequent radiation leak. The Doctor confronts the Angels directly in this tale, unlike in “Blink,” and yes they do prove even scarier in multitudes.

Perhaps even better than the Angels is the wham-bam return of River Song, who just may or may not be the Doctor’s wife some when in his future. The hints come fast and furious about their continued timey-wimey-wibbly-wobbly relationship: she knows how to write high Gallifreyan, she can drive the TARDIS, and she can apparently summon the Doctor at will by leaving messages in a museum. Companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) catches on to their bickering banter and quickly surmises River Song is his wife. The interaction between The Doctor, Amy and River is superb with mutual respect and teasing played in equal measures. Alex Kingston seems to really revel in her role of possible future Mrs. Doctor yet there are hints that she may not be all that we first thought in this episode.

That’s not the only cliffhanger; and I can’t wait for more!

Best Parts: The famous TARDIS noise happens because the Doctor leaves the brakes on!
The Doctor (Matt Smith) doing a verbal imitation of that famous TARDIS noise!
River Song: Flying through space in five-inch stilettos!
Father Octavian (Ian Glen) in a nice supporting role.

Worst Parts: Nothing really, except that most of this episode is a setup to the cliffhanger and resolution for part two.

My Rating: Extremely Good, I give it a 4 out 5.





What Doctor Who Can Teach Us About Unemployment May 3, 2010

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1. It’s O.K. not to have a job
The Doctor roams all around the Universe yet he doesn’t seem to have a real job; unless of course you count saving that Universe.

2. Be your own boss
Embrace the joys of being self-employed. You have no one to answer to but yourself.

3. Our actions have consequences
Really think about your choices in life. Don’t take a job simply because someone else thinks you should: if it isn’t right, it isn’t right. The ripple effect could be disastrous and you don’t need a time machine to tell you that.

Donna Noble took the wrong job.

4. Money isn’t everything
The Doctor never carries cash, and seems to do just fine. It’s amazing what you can do without and still be happy.

5. You’re never too old to learn
New experiences, methods, and technologies are fantastic; embrace them.

6. Ordinary is Wonderful
One ordinary person can do extraordinary things and one person really can change the world.

7. Never give up
No matter how desperate things may seem, there is always a way out. Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something but always believe that you can. You will find a way.

Maybe a career in medicine would be better?

8. Take your time
Our clocks are always ticking; enjoy the best moments life has to offer.

9. Chase your dream
It’s who you were really meant to be.

10. Love
Humans have short lives. Have love and friends in your life; it’s what makes us so human.

And perhaps the most important lesson of all: