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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.





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.





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.





Doctor Who – The Eleventh Hour Cracked April 17, 2010

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Has there ever been a Doctor Who episode so filled with expectation? A new doctor, a new companion, a new producer and Showrunner – a writer who has written some of the most popular episodes over the last few years, Steven Moffat.

So, does the new series live up to its expectations?

In short, YES!

The Eleventh Doctor ends up in what could only be described as a glorious Eleventh Hour romp.

We had already seen Ten (the superb David Tennant) regenerate into Eleven (Matt Smith) at the end of the last series The End of Time, so the introduction of Smith as the new Doctor didn’t come as a surprise. But just about everything else did. The series has a new title sequence — the spacey wormhole now looks something like a cloudy thunderstorm wormhole — and the opening music has been slowed down in tempo dramatically while still retaining the classic Who effects. There is a crash landing of the TARDIS into a garden shed, a meeting with a young Scottish girl, a crack in a wall, and something named Prisoner Zero. Not to mention the most epic case of the munchies you’re ever likely to see — Fish Custard anyone? (I wonder how many kids have been asking for that dinner lately?)

Matt Smith aptly puts any lingering doubts about his ability to handle the role of our favorite time-traveling alien (he is the youngest actor to take on the role) to rest. He’s fast, he’s expressive, and he’s funny while still giving you a glimpse of a slightly darker side. New companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) whom the doctor meets as both a young girl and a young woman proves charming and — dare I say it? — suitably spunky. Some things never change, and the Doctor is always either late or early, and he tends to leave people waiting, including the young Amelia (so not nice to dine and dash, Doctor).

The villains in this episode, Prisoner Zero (a moray eel type creature that can take on the form of comatose people) and the Atraxi (a snowflake featuring a giant eyeball) who are hunting Prisoner Zero really don’t do much once out of the “crack” so to speak, but that’s o.k. really. The point of this episode is to introduce us to the new Doctor and companion and set the tone for their relationship. However, in true Doctor Who fashion the episode also serves up just as many new questions as it answers: What is causing the cracks in the Universe? What do you mean, silence will fall? Who is Amy’s aunt and why is she alone at night? What is the deal with Rory’s hospital badge dates? I don’t know the answers, but I sure look forward to finding out what’s in store for us, and for the Doctor.

Eleven gets dressed on the rooftop while confronting the Atraxi

Best Parts: The Doctor and young Amelia Pond. The new TARDIS (“you sexy thing luv!”) and new sonic screwdriver. Fish Custard. Amelia’s “Raggity Doctor”

Worst Parts: Prisoner Zero didn’t really do all that much once he was “out of the box.”
Eleven running around in Ten’s clothes for most of the episode: I was SO glad when he finally changed because it started to distract me after awhile and only made me miss Ten (David Tennant) and that’s not fair to Matt. Plus, the clothes really make the man, and all the more so in the Doctor’s case; it gives you a good hint of the what kind of man he will be and I was glad when he “put on” his own look.

My Rating: Only thing holding this back from a five was mediocre villains.