Saturday, March 30, 2013

Doctor Who review: The 2012 Christmas Special: The Snowmen

HUGE NEWS today coming out of Doctor Who Magazine that I HAVE to mention first. Both David Tennant AND Billie Piper are confirmed to be in the 50th anniversary. I haven't read the article but the post I read noted the special will be 90 minutes. It will remain to be seen if it is the actual Doctor or 10.5 who was left with Rose in the parallel universe. And if it is 10.5, will he be wearing different clothes? Okay, there's lots of review unless I can pare it down, sorry in advance, but here goes...

"The Snowmen" was shot beautifully, and the music throughout was incredible. I'll just get that out of the way. I have been so happy with the quality of the episodes this series. It starts with bitey snowflakes in space falling towards the Earth. In 1842 England a young boy builds a snowman, not joining in with the other kids. The snowman talks to him, says he doesn't need the others and that he can help the boy. Flash forward 50 years to a grown Dr. Simeon supervising men who are scraping snow into jars off the snowmen in the yard. The jars make their way to the G.I (Great Intelligence) where Simeon feeds them into a large snow globe with swirling snow and the voice of Ian McKellan, the same voice that spoke to Simeon as a boy. The workers are fed to the snowmen, who are now animated with icy shark teeth.

The last time we saw Jenna, she was Oswin Oswald, junior entertainment director for the starship Alaska, who was turned into a Dalek. Now we find Clara working as a bar maid in the Rose & Crown pub. Out back a snowman appears instantly and she asks The Doctor, who happens to be passing, about it. Here we have gloomy Doctor, wearing Amy's glasses. It sparks his interest, but he passes on the mystery, tells Clara she should keep her name, and leaves. Clara chases. In a carriage The Doctor is speaking with Madame Vastra via an interesting victorian looking microphone that has no doubt been sonickd up. She is mocking The Doctor about meeting new people, saying it always starts with the same two words. When The Doctor claims Clara doesn't even know the name, Doctor, Clara pops through the roof of the carriage and asks those two words, "Doctor who?"

The new credits are crazy. I don't even know where to start. There's just so much going on. I see elements of more than one classic credits. It was great seeing Matt's face. It felt bigger, grander. In a way like the tv movie. The theme had an eerie element to it, and I loved that. The tradition this series continued and the title letters had a frosted look to them. I actually hope they keep at least the music, but all in all I really like it better than the last opening.

Dr. Simeon visits a home with a pond where the year before a governess had drowned in and been frozen. Simeon wants what's in the ice. Vastra and Jenny confront Simeon and discuss this new snow that has memory and can learn. Vastra hopes it's listening to the right people, since it would make a great weapon. Simeon makes a cute comment about the rumor that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based Sherlock Holmes on Madame Vastra, who fails to elicit a reaction when he sees her skin. Here I'm going to say that I'm gay and even I'm getting a bit tired of Vastra and Jenny constantly announcing the fact that they are a couple. We get it. We got it way back on the first time. Anyway, madame Vastra threatens to enlist help, but Jenny reminds her that The Doctor never helps anymore, but they need him.

Strax and The Doctor are spying on the G.I. and what their interest is in the snow. Strax is so silly, and most of the time it works. The Doctor won't investigate and then we start hearing a commotion coming from the carriage, reminding us about Clara. The Doctor wants to use the memory worm on her. One touch and you lose the last hour of memory, a bit and you could lose decades. Clara's amused while Strax comically struggles to find the worm. Then the snowmen pop up instantly. The Doctor says they're feeding off her thoughts because she was thinking about them, so imagine them melting. It worked, they melted. Since she needs this knowledge to fight possible future encounters, The Doctor cannot use the memory worm on Clara. I love Clara. I loved her instantly in Asylum. She's so brilliant and strong and smart and clever and more than a verbal match for The Doctor. and she's just so adorable.

So Clara gives Strax the slip and follows The Doctor to the park and sees him reach up to pull down a ladder that appeared out of nowhere. My heart skipped a beat when she jumped up and was able to grab hold of the ladder. The music for Clara I also love. The invisible spiral staircase into the clouds was beautiful and felt like a fairy tale. I loved it when she reached the top and they panned around until the TARDIS was shown behind her. I'll say here that aside from some scuffs the TARDIS looks normal and come back to that later. She came so close, missing the opportunity to go inside when chased around the TARDIS. But she goes back down the stairs, leaving her shawl behind.

Back at the G.I. the snow globe says the snow will thaw and the drowned woman and screaming child will give them form. In the morning Clara wakes up, leaves the pub, noting the absence of snow. She won't share what her other job is, but in a carriage she changes into posh clothes and arrives at the house with the frozen pond as Miss Montague, the governess. She encourages the father, Capt. Latimer, to be more involved with his children, which seems to frighten him. The daughter, Francesca, is having dreams about the old governess. She had fallen into the pond, it froze, and she was trapped for many days. She tells her in dreams she is returning that night, Christmas eve. They keep showing ice crystals forming together in the pond, which despite the thaw is still frozen. Her brother, Digby, says casually that maybe Frannie needs a doctor.

Clara goes back to the park and calls out to the sky for The Doctor, attracting attention. Jenny sees her and takes her to Vastra, who gives her a one word test to tell The Doctor of the danger and why he should help. She tells Clara The Doctor used to be a hero, the savior of worlds, but after suffering losses prefers to be isolated. Clara thinks hard about the one right word, and decides on one that can do nothing but grab The Doctor's interest, "Pond."

The Doctor goes to the G.I., posing as Sherlock Holmes. It was great using the music from "Sherlock" when he came in. They didn't have to go far to get that permission. He rattles off a series of Sherlock style deductions but all prove to be wrong. The Doctor doesn't remember the Great Intelligence yet. He battled them twice as the second Doctor in the 60's. But he does figure it all out with his Doctor style deducing. they need a new form, more human, something that won't melt, and they need a frozen example of human DNA, which leads The Doctor to the pond.  At the pond there was a sweet little hello moment between The Doctor and Clara. But the ice also cracks and the governess comes out.

I swear I'm trying to condense. Clara is telling her definitely true stories to the children. They mention the one where she was born behind the clock face of Big Ben, accounting for her accute sense of time, and how she created fish because she dislikes swimming alone. This time she was telling them about The Doctor. What if her other stories are true too? Oswin means something like friend of God. Then the governess comes in and they run. The Doctor sonics her and she melts. he noticed in the mirror that without realizing it he had put on his bow tie, something he hadn't felt like in a while, and mumbles something about old habits. Outside Simeon turns on a machine to freeze the house and create an army of snowmen. The governess refreezes and they run.

Suddenly everything seems to be happening, The Doctor and others running downstairs chased by the icy form of the previous governess, Vastra and Jenny at the front door sending a screaming maid right into Strax, and she faints. Capt. Latimer looks so confused. Jenny throws up a force field to keep the governess at the top of the stairs. Vastra sees how The Doctor has missed this.

Clara doesn't listen to The Doctor when he leaves the room, follows him and kisses him. I wonder what that's about. Clara doesn't seem the type to be bawdy, but is very aware of her effect on men, like Capt. Latimer. He hands Clara an umbrella, saying it will get them out or something. He sonics the force field to let him through and Clara follows. The Doctor pretends to be upset. To the roof. Clara follows. Actually she doesn't follow but grabs The Doctor's hand and drags him along. Clara works out the umbrella test, it's for her to pull down the ladder to the TARDIS staircase. One of my favorite 2 lines was as they went up the staircase and Clara asked how they got up so high so quick, to which The Doctor tells her it's a clever staircase, taller on the inside.

Okay, when they reach the top and you see the TARDIS, doesn't it look filthy? Not like it did earlier. What's that all about?  But forget that because I LOVE the new TARDIS interior. The console is sooooo classic. The spinning discs above the console are awesome. I'm looking forward to seeing more in a few weeks. Here we come to my favorite line in the episode. I love Steven Moffat for this line. When Clara sees the TARDIS, runs around it, comes back inside and says, "It's smaller on the outside." Brilliant. And then we get reminded. Clara asks if there's a kitchen because she likes to bake souffles. There's recognition, but not full awareness of the signifigance of those words. Clara asks him why her, he could've reached the ladder, so the umbrella was for her, to which he says he never knows why, only who, and gives her a key to the TARDIS. She cries, not knowing why, and The Doctor tells her to remember, remember this moment. There's that word again. The Doctor told Amy in Asylum, then Oswin used it. This isn't the last time, either. Suddenly from the open TARDIS door the governess grabs Clara, dragging her out as The Doctor chases, but not fast enough to stop them going over the edge of the cloud, falling to the ground below.

The Doctor materializes around Clara's body, and the broken pieces of the governess, and brings them inside. Some device Strax has is holding her alive, but it's only temporary. The Doctor offers to bring a piece of the ice lady to the G.I. He carries it in a tin that has a map of the 1967 London underground, essentially giving them the idea they used to attack in the 1968 story "The Web of Fear' with the second Doctor.

The Doctor strips away the snow globe's disguise, revealing the voice of the child Simeon. Instead of a piece of the ice lady, The Doctor brought the memory worm, which bites Simeon, erasing his memory of the G.I. But the snow globe survives and raises a larger army of snowmen. Suddenly the snow melts everywhere. The critical mass of snow was at the Latimer house and mirrored something so strong, a whole family crying on Christmas eve.

Clara has moments left when The Doctor returns  She closes her eyes and he begins to turn. She speaks. "Run, run you clever boy," opens her eyes and finishes, "and remember." The Doctor's confusion on his face is not something you see often. The Great Intelligence begins to ring a bell for The Doctor, but his attention is diverted when he sees Clara's name on her tombstone, Clara Oswin Oswald. He puts it together that it was souffle girl... again... and she died both times! Something impossible is going on. He goes to find Clara. Fast forward to present day in the same graveyard where Clara is taking a shortcut past her own grave, declaring she doesn't believe in ghosts.

I don't know if Clara is tied in with the 50th, other than just being in it, but consider this. The date of birth on Clara's grave was November 23, 1866. November 23rd is the anniversary of the show. More important right now is what was written on her tombstone. "Remember me, for we shall meet again" and that is going to happen today!

Up next: "The Bells of Saint John"
I'm going to need to watch it a few times, but it should be up tonight, possibly before airing on BBCAmerica.
54Minutes 10Seconds to "The Bells of Saint John"

Friday, March 29, 2013

Doctor Who review: The Angels Take Manhattan

I haven't seen any interesting news today, which is good so I can get right into the episode.

"The Angels Take Manhattan" had an ominous feel before it aired. The title alone is enough to strike fear even without the knowledge that this is the last episode with Amy and Rory. Then they give it a film noir feel with some haunting musical effects. The creepiness just permeated the episode.

In 1938, Private Investigator Sam Garner is sent to investigate moving statues by the rich, powerful, and mysterious Mr. Grayle. Garner goes to the apartment block, called Winter Quay, which is crawling with Weeping Angels. A girl in the window across from the apartments appears to be playing peek a boo with one of the angels out front. He is invisibly led to a room upstairs where he finds himself as an old man taking his last breaths, but not before warning him that they are coming for him to send him back in time. A heavy step grows closer. The angels chase him to the roof where he is met by the source of the heavy steps, the Statue of Liberty.

This was my 2nd favorite opening. The vortex was black and white, almost a negative effect, with lots of colored flashes in different colors and that strange electric web barrier to the vortex flashed again. At the titles the vortex was a beautiful black and kind of aqua colored and the titles held an image of the Statue of Liberty's crown.

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory in 2012 Central Park, New York. It's pretty, like all this series the episodes have looked magnificent. But I'm already feeling sad and worried. The Doctor reads aloud from a 1930's mystery novel written by Melody Malone. Couldn't have been too much clearer, could they? Amy is wearing glasses. The prequel to "Asylum of the Daleks", "Pond Life", showed her receiving the call about the glasses. Rory goes for coffee. The Doctor rips out the last page of the book, claiming to hate endings. He reads on, the story mirroring the actions of Rory. All bets are off as the Weeping Angels seem to have enlisted all the statues in the city. The Doctor is shocked to read that the character in the book is Rory, just after leaving them. In 1938 Rory faces River Song. They are taken to Mr. Grayle.

Amy is confused. the Doctor just says he found the book in his pocket. River says there are too many time distortions present for the TARDIS to land, she came by vortex manipulator. The Doctor tries and fails to reach them, being bounced back where they begin, or rather when. It's 2012 but they are in a cemetery. Amy asks why and The Doctor says they must be causally linked. The Doctor has worked it out they are dealing with the angels. As they leave we are shown a tombstone with Rory's name on it. Amy reads ahead, learning The Doctor must break something. He stops her, because now he must break something. Once you've read it it's fixed.

The Doctor travels to China, 221 BC to leave a message for River on a vase in the house that she mentions in the book. She texts the message to him so he can have "landing lights" to materialize. Grayle gives Rory to "the babies" cherubs that are in the cellar. They give him some matches for fun. Baby angels are scary as shit. I mean come on, that one blowing out the match as he turns? Needless to say Rory gets zapped away. Grayle has an angel in chains, and he tricks River close enough so when he turns the light out the angels grabs River's wrist.

The Doctor and Amy arrive and Grayle is knocked unconscious. River has been pardoned. It seems the person she killed no longer exists. And we get the question again when The Doctor asks wasn't she the woman who killed The Doctor, River answers, "Doctor who?" Oh, and she's Professor Song now. River song learns about the book she will write when she learns of Amy reading ahead, making it necessary for him to break River's wrist, which he doesn't. They need clues and come up with a plan where River leaves clues in the chapter titles, which I thought was clever. They see that Rory is in the cellar, but The Doctor also sees the title of the last chapter, "Amelia's Last Farewell." Oh the Doctor gets angry. He's read it. But River wrote it for him to read. He leaves her to get herself free.

They learn Rory is gone, but only zapped in space, not time. He is at Winter Quay. River broke her wrist to free herself but didn't tell The Doctor. She tells Amy to never let him see the damage or see her age. The Doctor repairs River's wrist with regenerative energy, angering River, who thought it a waste. Rory finds a room with his name outside. The Doctor, Amy and River aren't far behind. They are unnerved by a smiling angel. They find Rory. He is in a room and there is an old man in the bed, who calls out to Amy. It's Rory. He is so happy to see her. Then he dies. Everyone is shocked, Rory confused. They work out the building is a battery farm for the angels. They zap you back again and again into the room to live out your life and die in.

They are coming for Rory. Heavy steps begin. He will have to run forever, unless he creates a paradox and gets away, then the whole place unhappens. Rory and Amy avoid angels and end up on the roof, where we see the Statue of Liberty again. As Amy looks at it, Rory sees a way out and climbs onto the ledge. If he falls and dies, paradox. Amy pleads with him. he actually wants her to help by pushing and she can't. When she asks him if he could he said to save her he could do anything. Amy joins him on the ledge and tells him it's together or not at all. The Doctor and River find the roof just in time to see them jump together. The paradox is created, everything begins to break up.

They end up back in that cemetery again. Cute banter between River and The Doctor about painting the TARDIS and changing the bulb, which we saw him do in "Pond Life." It's decided to go down to the pub for a family outing. Rory sees the tombstone with his name and calls Amy over. She looks up at him just in time to see him vanish, revealing a Weeping Angel behind him with her finger pointed towards the spot he had just stood in. We finally got to see what actually happened when a Weeping Angel touched you, thank you Steven Moffat.  but they can't get to Rory. The tombstone now shows Rory's age at death. Another paradox would rip New York apart. Amy will take her chance that using the same angel will take her to Rory. A very sweet goodbye between Amy and Melody. Amy asks her to look after The Doctor. The Doctor is frantic, trying to reason with her, it will create a fixed point and he will never see her again. Staring at the angel Amy begins, "Raggedy man,,," and then turns her back to the angel, facing The Doctor in time to say one final word, "...goodbye" before disappearing forever. Her name and age join Rory's on the tombstone.

In the TARDIS, River warns The Doctor not to travel alone. He asks her to join him. River says whenever and wherever you want, but not all the time, one psychopath per TARDIS. HA. Good answer. River will have Amy write an afterword in the book. The Doctor returns to Central Park, where the last page and Amy's glasses are. Although I think he got them from her because she had them at Grayle's. Amy and Rory lived a happy life and they will always love The Doctor. She worries about him traveling alone.

In the end we had a question answered and bittersweet closure. Amy asked to go to the young Amelia, who was sitting and waiting for The Doctor. In "The Eleventh Hour" we saw her sitting there at the end of the episode and heard the TARDIS. It was The Doctor doing what Amy asked him to in the book. Telling young Amelia to be patient, and of the adventures she would have and the stories of Amy's days to come. She finished by saying that "This is the story of Amelia Pond, and this is how it ends."

Next in "The Snowmen" we meet The Doctor when he is on his own, sort of. And it's two in one. It's a Christmas episode AND a companion's first episode. Sort of.

19Hours 10Minutes 14Seconds until "The Bells of Saint John"

Doctor Who Review: The Power of Three

I heard some exciting news today. In a Radio Times interview, Matt Smith confirmed he will be with the show in 2014, so we will have The Doctor and Clara for another series. They released a video explaining how Strax was "brought back to life." It's called "The Battle of Demon's Run: Two Days Later." There is a teaser video of The Doctor choosing some clothes, and in another there is a warning video that was probably uploaded warning people about something in the wifi.  All these videos are at the site I mentioned, you can get there from here.

They also released the titles to all episodes but the finale, when River Song returns.

  • The Bells of Saint John
  • The Rings of Akhaten
  • Cold War
  • Hide
  • Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
  • The Crimson Horror
  • Nightmare in Silver
  • ? Finale
"The Power of Three" opens in July, with Amy and Rory checking voicemails and throwing out expired food, obviously just back from travelling with The Doctor. They discuss the possibility of stopping their travels, but at the sound of the TARDIS they put that decision off. There are some good flashes of them with The Doctor over the past couple of years. The intro was one of the best, kind of bluish with pinkish lights in the clouds. There also seemed to be some type of electric webbing type of flash that showed up when the TARDIS gets close to the clouds of the vortex. For the titles the vortex is a bright salmony/coral kind of color and the titles themselves are cube textured to fit the episode.

Yay, Brian is back. And cubes everywhere, and oh look, its The Doctor hanging about. The cubes are everywhere,appearing at dawn. They seem inert, but where did they come from. Funny clip of Brian Cox being interviewed calling for a better man than him to find an answer. Brian (Rory's dad) offers up some theories you know he'd been formulating all along. The Doctor assigns him to watch the cubes.

The Doctor gets set up, being grounded with the Ponds for once. Rory starts the normal process of getting ready for work. Amy and The Doctor discuss that to them, not their friends or family, but to Amy and Rory they have been travelling with The Doctor off and on for 10 years. The Doctor comments on Amy being all grown up now.

UNIT detected the TARDIS and arrives in military fashion. Kate Stewart, head of scientific research (basically The Doctor's job with UNIT in the 70's) comes in and calms everyone. She is happy it's The Doctor. this is the Brigadiers daughter, a great tribute to the character who died the same year Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane) did. The Doctor discovered it by telephone in "The Wedding of River Song." Nobody can figure the cubes out, but they are being collected and seem to sit idly in ever nook and surface. True to real life, it was only a day before the cubes had 1,000 Twitter accounts. They decide all they can do is observe.

The Doctor gets very bored after 4 days of waiting. They find Brian in the TARDIS still watching the cubes. Bless. Amy and Rory have conflicts with their lives and can't go with The Doctor so he leaves them to it and goes off on his own. In October Amy finds herself to committing to being a bridesmaid and Rory to going from part time to full time at the hospital. Real life has started, and they like it. Will that be it? Will they simply stop travelling?

Fast forward to December. The cubes are everywhere and even started piling up in trash bins. We see creepy grill faced men in scrubs taking patients. I'm still not clear what that was, they must have needed them for testing. In June 9 months have passed since The Doctor left, but it's the Pond's anniversary and The Doctor shows up and whisks them away in the middle of their party. There had been a rumor a Zygon was coming back, apparently it was just to be mentioned once here. Amy accidentally gets engaged to Henry VIII on her anniversary. When they return, Brian notices they have on different clothes and finds out they were gone 7 weeks. He and The Doctor discuss what happens to those who travel with him. The Doctor swears Amy and Rory will not be among the few who died.

The Doctor decides to stay to have time with Amy. He tells her he misses her. He knows a separation is happening. In July the cubes come to life. They all do different things, of a very wide variety, but ultimately they gather intel. Some nice cube effects. The cubes stop after 47 minutes. They start a countdown from the number 7. I loved the logic that a cube has 7 sides, 6 outer and then the inside. The cubes open and people around them all over the world experience cardiac events.

During this The Doctor and Amy talk. He just finally asks if they are thinking of quitting, and she doesn't know yet. When he says he knows it's happening she asks why he keeps coming back. He can't quit Amy because she was the first face his present face saw, and he keeps running towards them before they fade.

The creepy grill mouth men take Brian and Rory follows. nice special effect of the ship in orbit, but off one dimension to the left. The Doctor and Amy find the portal to the ship and as the Ponds rescue Brian, The Doctor faces the Shakri. I hope I'm spelling that right. Brian's face is hilarious as he stares at the Shakri while being wheeled out of the room. The Doctor knows who they are, but thought they were a myth told to Gallifreyan children. The Doctor called them outer space pest control. They exist in all of space and time and mysteriously travel alone and together at the same time serving the word of the Tali. Again, forgive the spelling. The Tali seems to be a type of judgement day and the Shakri are trying to erase humanity before it colonizes space.

After the Shakri, a hologram, disappears The Doctor uses the cubes to send a signal to restart the hearts of the people effected. The ship will explode so The Doctor calls on his friends to run, to which Rory confides to Amy, "I'm going to miss this." Everything saved, The Doctor is off, knowing that he can't expect the Ponds will just come with him, but Brian speaks up that he doesn't think that they should give him up. The Doctor invites Brian along, but someone needs to water the plants. He simply asks The Doctor one thing, to bring them back safe. Will they come back safe or will Brian regret encouraging them?

Up next... "The Angels Take Manhattan", The Pond's final episode.

1Day 12Hours 20Minutes 10Seconds until "The Bells of Saint John"

Monday, March 25, 2013

Doctor Who Review: A Town Called Mercy

Well, now Steven Moffat is saying he is nearer the end of his run as boss than the beginning. Could Christmas be it for he and Matt Smith? It seems a bit late to be undecided as to whether or not you return. Naturally the BBC say, rightly so, that the Christmas episode hasn't even been written yet. I say one more year for Moffat, being that Jenna Louise is returning in 2014. As to Matt, it, like most everything else, remains to be seen.

This brings up another rumor connected with the rumor that Steven Moffat is leaving. I thought this would be the perfect place to mention it because the rumor is that Toby Whithouse, writer of this episode I'm reviewing, will be the new boss in charge. I'm conflicted because on the one hand I am lukewarm at best with most of the episodes he has written for Doctor Who. On the other hand I am a HUGE Being Human fan. Toby denies this rumor, but they'll all lie to your face if it isn't the time to release the information.

I was very surprised by John Barrowman's tweet that he wouldn't be in the 50th. Why else would they have contacted him? Unless it's about Christmas. He admitted he would do it and the Arrow people, big fans of Who, said they would work around any schedule. Especially with the filming starting in about a week, I expect there will be more things revealed soon. If we do have a regeneration coming I hope they reveal it soon so we can brace ourselves.

Each series has episodes that fall into 4 categories. 1. I love it. 2. I like it. 3. It's okay/I forget how much I like it. 4. Hard to get through.  "A Town Called Mercy" is a bit of #2 and a bit of  #4. This tends to be the case with me and a Toby Whithouse story. "School Reunion" I am split on because I love the way Sarah-Jane returned. Some I like, but some are low on my rewatch list. The new one is a western, a bit sleepy in the journey. It's a beautiful episode, shot in Spain on set of many spaghetti westerns. Vast, beautiful surroundings, reminiscent of when they filmed in America, but with a simple 19th century western town, a location worthy of the ongoing cinematic feel to each episode.

The intro retains the darker vortex look, with additional colored flashes of lights in the clouds, with a reddish-orange vortex for the titles, which are in wood tone. Amy and Rory are already with The Doctor. Later we find out they were on the way to the Day of the Dead celebration until someone got toast crumbs on the TARDIS console (Doctor looks at Rory). Ignoring the keep out sign and 2 foot tall border of planks and rocks, they enter the town to find electricity has been rigged up about ten years earlier than possible.

The town seems familiar with the concept of aliens, even though it's merely 5 years after the civil war. When they discover The Doctor is one they drag him back across the town's border. In the distance the gunslinger begins to, I think, teleport, but at short intervals, coming closer. The marshal puts an end to it, calling The Doctor back inside the border, at which time the gunslinger disappears. We learn there is another alien doctor, Kahler Jex, who the gunslinger wants. They did an awesome job on his branding./tattoo work. He brought the town electricity by using his ship as a generator and also cured the town of cholera, so the town let him stay.

Thinking he can save Jex, The Doctor borrows a horse to get the TARDIS. Of course The Doctor speaks horse. I think more than aliens the preacher is shocked to hear that, instead of the given name Joshua, his horse calls himself Susan and would like his life choices respected. Anyway, on the way The Doctor investigates the oddly not damaged ship of Jex and learns who Jex really is, a military science adviser in an experimental cyborg program where they created military fighting machines from unsuspecting "volunteers."

And now angry Doctor is back. He wants to hand Jex over to his justice in order to save the town. He goes so far as to point a gun at him to force him to stay outside the towns' border. Here again we have the question of Doctor who? Amy asks it, wondering who he has become from travelling alone for so long. She reminds him that killing someone is not an option, that they have to be better.

Then the gunslinger appears and marshal Isaac (great performance by Ben Browder) is killed saving Jex. As he dies he gives his badge to The Doctor and instructs him to protect both his town and Jex. So naturally a noon showdown is set with the gunslinger. Overnight The Doctor diffuses a lynch mob with his words, back to his old self. The two doctors discuss the difficulty of the situation for The Doctor, about Jex's self imposed punishment, and Kahler beliefs about their souls after death. When he claims that we all carry our prisons with us The Doctor gets the idea to send Jex away safely, saving the town when the gunslinger takes chase.

The Doctor sonics the gunslinger at noon, creating confusion. Face-painted Jex decoys run around, allowing the real Jex to escape the town. But instead of carrying his prison away with him, Jex decides to end the battle, destroying his ship with him in it. A mighty explosion that didn't quite match the explosion seen from town, especially given the distance of the ship from town. Small matter, hardly anyone noticed. The gunslinger thinks his purpose was war, with no role in peace time. The Doctor suggests protecting the peace, and he becomes the towns permanent marshal.

As they were entering the TARDIS The Doctor teased us with the idea to show Amy and Rory what really happened to all those dogs and monkeys they sent into space in the 50's and 60's. Amy says they need to go home. They fear their friends noticing them aging at a faster rate.

Upon reflection, I guess I do like this episode. It is probably my favorite Toby Whithouse. Part of that though is the memories I have of growing up with my father watching western movies, possibly some that were filmed in the same location.

Next up: The Power of Three
4Days 15Hours 04Minutes 31Seconds until "The Bells of Saint John"

Friday, March 22, 2013

Doctor Who Review: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

There is so much information coming out right now. 8 days (7 and many hours) until "The Bells of Saint John". Real quick.... the 50th is not going to be just 60 minutes, although the time has not been set they suggested up to 90 minutes. I was also excited to see that it will be aired in theaters in Britain and AROUND THE WORLD at the same time it airs on the 23rd of November. Hopefully it'll be around this part of the world. Jenna-Louise has confirmed she will be in series 8, still leaving open the rumors that The Doctor will regenerate at or around Christmas. I wasn't optimistic when both Matt Smith and Steven Moffat said right now Matt is just signed on through 2013, and the Christmas episode hasn't been written yet. Steven Moffat says we WILL learn The Doctor's secret, and I've still got my fingers crossed it's not his name. Really we just have to wait and see right now. Rumors happen every year.

We also have new trailers for the second half of the series as well as "The Bells of Saint John" and tomorrow a prequel for that episode will be released at 7am eastern time.(12pm GMT). To see all these trailers, synopses for the next 4 episodes as well as trailer breakdowns, some I agree with some I don't, I'll just send you to which is good for new pictures, trailers, videos, links to watching the episodes, etc. It's worth checking out. And we also have a one word clue about the 50th: Paintings. Paintings of past Doctors? I have no idea, that's just where my mind went first.

I loved "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship." I've seen a lot of negativity about it and I really don't understand why. Maybe because I smoke pot and the whole thing felt kind of like some dream Amy was having. Whatever it was I find it fun and exciting, and beautiful to watch. The spaceship was amazing, both in design and execution. The dinosaurs were very well done, but spread out a few here and there. Some of the sets were massive. Again lending to that feature film feel.

So The Doctor just felt like trying out having a gang. Egyptian queen Nefertiti makes that choice for The Doctor as she barges her way into the TARDIS in 1334BC after a helpful visit from The Doctor. After learning of Earth's plans to shoot down a ship approaching the planet, The Doctor leaves to collect the rest of the gang. He picks up John Riddell, big game hunter, in 1902. When he picked him up in the African plains it was clear The Doctor had been with him recently, in his mind at least. Lastly it's off to get the Ponds. By simply materializing the TARDIS around them, The Doctor got more than he bargained for with Rory's father. Maybe I'm partial, but I loved Brian Williams even more than I loved Arthur Weasley. Watching him struggle to come to terms with the madness he finds himself enveloped in is adorable.  We also learn that it's been 10 months for Amy since "Asylum of the Daleks."

The credits were good, a bit noticeable of a difference from the previous episode. A bit darker, more light flashes in the clouds of the vortex, a red vortex at the end. Keeping with the theme of the episode the logo contained dinosaur scales.

The use of the beach as an engine room was pretty cool. Brian has a bit of a travel and technology breakdown when they transport there, but springs back to scout form and produces a trowel to dig in the sand where they find a floor. Now they know the ship uses hydro generators and they are still on the ship. When they're chased off the beach by pterodactyls, I giggled as Brian fought one off with his trowel.

Now I love Mitchell and Webb, so I was excited by their brief appearances as a campy pair of robots. I wish there had been more, but that was probably for the best. Amy learns it's a Silurian ark. Most likely the explosive impact they were escaping was the same one that drove the other Silurians underground, simply the moon coming into orbit. We get to see a Triceratops up close, even closer for poor Brian. They also show us a sexual tension rising between Nefertiti and Riddell, which doesn't sit well with Amy who sounds like The Doctor when she says that she "will not have flirting companions".

As if one Harry Potter star wasn't enough, we get two. Filch is on board as pirate trader, Solomon. I don't know if I could have picked a better person to play him. Filch was gruff but loveable. Solomon had no redeeming qualities. he played them both so well. He scans The Doctor for worth and we are again faced with the question, Doctor who ?, when the scan comes back as "No Identification". We get to see The Doctor, well, being an actual doctor. Brian is shot and injured to force The Doctor to help Solomon. There's a sweet scene as nurse Rory tends to his father's wounds, sharing how they are similar in that Brian carries a trowel to be prepared and Rory carries a nurses' med pack.

The Doctor learns of the origin of the ship, and then how Solomon murdered the Silurians by waking them from cryogenics and shooting them out of the airlocks. He also learns why the ship is headed to Earth. Without a pilot it reverts home and Solomon doesn't know how to pilot the ship. Okay, the escape could have been quicker if they didn't stop and spend time trying to get the dinosaur to move, but we had to get it to the other corridor with them When Solomon learns the missiles from Earth are real, he abandons plans to take the dinosaurs, saying he will settle for the very valuable queen Nefertiti. To make a point that he will go to any length to get his way, he kills that poor dinosaur that just helped them.

Nefertiti insists on giving herself to Solomon, and he takes her back to his ship, but The Doctor has magnetized it and Solomon can't leave. Shooty bang with dinosaurs (just to stun) and Brian and Rory pilot the ship together since it needs two pilots from the same gene pool. And oh, Brian, you are indeed a Pond. The Doctor has a moment with Amy, where he insists he is not weaning them off of him. Amy has left her job as a model. The Doctor insist Amy will be there until the end of him, and she replies vice verse  causing an awkward moment.

The Doctor boards Solomon's ship, short circuits the robots, and Nefertiti frees herself. Basically next The Doctor kills Solomon. This is not something we see much. Solomon was relentless and couldn't be stopped, with no moral compass. By saving the Silurian ship, The Doctor transfers the signals the missiles are after to Solomon's ship, then releases him to his fate. When Solomon begs for his life, without hesitation The Doctor asks if the Silurians did the same.

The ship is safe, the dinosaurs are safe, but i do wonder where they went. Oh wait, I just remembered what happened to the dinosaurs. I just try not to because that "Siluria" post card looked like it was done with crayons. Nefertiti and Riddell have shacked up together in 1902, now doing their big game hunting with a stun rifle. Could we have seen here a way The Doctor changed Riddell for the better? Amy and Rory ask to go home, for a couple of months. As a last request, Brian enjoys a view of the Earth from the TARDIS in space as he eats his lunch. Amy and Rory appear behind him and also look to Earth. The Doctor appears behind them and looks to them, then to the Earth, confirmation and sadness coming over his face. But we see how The Doctor even accidentally touches someone. Having hated to travel, Brian has now littered Rory and Amy's refrigerator with post cards from around the world.

Up next is "A Town Called Mercy".

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks, Review pt.2: The Review

If you haven't already read pt.1 of this review click here.

Thanks to the unsurprising build of success since the show returned in 2005, the BBC has really stepped up the budget and production value of the show. In the beginning there were times when you had literally no budget for an episode and had to make do with old sets and costumes. Steven Moffatt was right when he promised we would be seeing 5 short movies, and not just in the resemblence of episode titles to the names of movies. The shot through the porthole in the floor of the parliament ship to reveal the Asylum planet alone was worth watching. The locations lend themselves very well to the grandeur the scenes of the show now hold. How else without camera tricks and attempts at special effects could they hope to reproduce an icy planet, or in a later episode, a full on town from the old west. (Both were actually found in Spain).

Besides "Pond Life", they also released a prequel for Asylum. I love the prequels because, tho short, they usually contain something meaningful. In this one, a mysterious hooded figure calling himself The Messenger, comes to The Doctor in his dreams telling him a woman needs his help. The Doctor doesn't want to go until The Messenger writes the coordinates of the planet in Gallifreyan, alone worth watching the 2 1/2 minute video.

The episode opens on Skaro, home planet of the Daleks, but let me skip that for a second. The new Dalek hybrid people are cool and well done. Part Dalek but unknowing of this until activated makes them the perfect traps. It was chilling when The Doctor tried to remind Darla she had a child and she leaned in and coolly replied "I know, I've read my file." In fact the Daleks in general are good and proper creepy in this episode. From unknowing pawns having an eye stalk emerge from their forehead to thousands of Daleks surrounding you speaking in unison, lighting up the room as they beg The Doctor to help them destroy the Asylum. And the asylum itself is an even creepier idea, a place where all the damaged and mad Daleks are kept. But theres someone else in the asylum.

Tricksy you are, Steven Moffatt. It was revealed before the airing that we would get to see Skaro. I understand why it needs to be in desolation, thanks for the continuity Moff, but barring the monument The Doctor was in they showed the actual planet for about a collective 10 seconds. Why wasn't the asylum there? Maybe because it was more exciting on the entire planet that filmed beautifully, unlike filthy Skaro. The second trick was amazing. Most amazing in that it wasn't, widely anyway, leaked that Jenna-Louise Coleman, to be The Doctor's next companion, would be in this episode. Trapped in the wreck of a cruise liner inside the asylum. Jenna is brilliant. Shes charming, witty, intelligent, brilliant in fact and actually Im describing her character. Now Steven Moffatt revealed the name of the new companion as Clara* Oswin, so I knew something was up when she introduced herself to The Doctor as Oswin Oswald.

*As a side note, Clara got her name from the middle name of Elisabeth Sladen, the amazing actress who played the beloved companion Sarah-Jane Smith, who met the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 11th Doctors.

Of course, Amy and Rory are also collected, separately, to assist The Doctor. Amy is still doing the modeling thing we saw introduced in "Closing Time" and it is so apparent that she and Rory still care for each other. One of my first big questions comes early on when they arrive in the parliament and Amy asks what do they do. The Doctor replies, "make them remember you". I cannot make a connection with this, so if anyone got it please let me know. As far as I saw it never got explained, and perhaps it just hasnt yet. (Tricksy, remember)

Rory gets separated as the beam burrows through the planet into the heart of the asylum itself. The tension as you stare at the dozen or so absolutely still Daleks. Old and cob-webbed, there seems to be no reaction when Rory inspects one. But then the one corrects its eye-stalk from where Rory moved it and I knew it was on. I didn't care for the conveniently placed pipe behind Rory, but seeing the Daleks gradually come alive and react helped me forgive it. It was such an interesting idea to have all the types of Daleks represented, and I especially loved seeing the special weapons Dalek during this scene. I am a huge fan of Resurrection of the Daleks, but I can say that this is my favorite Dalek story of the new series.

Okay, here's my other beef with this episode. When they are in the Alaska landing shuttle and the dead crew are waking up as Dalek hybrids, why didn't they go up the ladder they were standing at and go out? They didn't know about the hatch so why would they risk kicking through the advancing zombie Dalek army to lock themselves inside a room? At any rate it gives us the setup for The Doctor learning of Amy and Rory's split, and with Amy's bracelet gone, a way to reconnect her and Rory later.

They beautifully shot the scene where Amy is hallucinating, seeing a small group of people, including a young ginger ballerina in white turning. Then when she is shown they are Daleks and you see the white Dalek spinning around in a circle, well it was madness and I loved it. I think Moffatt did a good job of making the Daleks creepy and scary in brand new ways.

Okay, let's wrap this up. Putting the Dalek in reverse to destroy them all was genius. I just don't know if I buy the baby thing and Amy giving Rory up. It feels as out of place as her being a model. But there it is. We saw the connection was there so I was fine and even happy that it was resolved by the end of the episode.

I had no idea that Oswin would end up being a Dalek. I figured something would happen, since she wasn't coming back until Christmas. But that was good. It broke my heart a little. The way they went back and forth as she spoke between human and Dalek was great. And if I hadn't thought before something was up with her, I knew it when she looked at the camera and said "remember." Oh yeah, and she hacked the Dalek's pathweb and made them forget The Doctor. Every last one of them. Which leaves us with the reminder of where this series is going. The answer of the question that should never be asked. Doctor who? After dropping Amy and Rory off at home, The Doctor seems pleased, at least that the Daleks are asking that question. Frankly, I'm worried. I don't think we need to know his name. I like the mystery of it we've had in this series, just please be leading to something else more clever than just revealing his name. Even if it is the 50th.

Next up is "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship". only 14 days to the new episode!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks, Review pt.1: The Pre-Review

Since they chose to continue on from Doctor who episodes in the past and not completely starting fresh, this is either the 34th or 35th season we are in the middle of. This depends on whether or not you count the 2009 specials as a season and considers the 1996 movie as a "season" for the 8th Doctor. I still call it series 7, but find it fun to think about.

As the BBC have been focusing on each Doctor monthly starting at the beginning, I decided to use each month to watch episodes from those Doctors. There's something exciting about seeing a 50 year story slowly unfold before you over the course of 11 months. I'm not watching every episode, but hand picking stories that represent favorites, or each companion, or are of significance, like regeneration episodes.

But that's a different story. I'm wanting to talk about "Asylum of the Daleks", first episode of series 7. The reason I even bring up the classic episodes is because in this first half of the series, particularly in Asylum, it felt very "classic Who" to me, and other "classic fans" like myself. It's hard to put tangents into words sometimes. Forget the fact that shots and effects are so much better now, and story lines and dialog fit the here and now. At its base structure, this was Doctor Who, almost as if they were paying homage to the early years. I know I saw lights thrown up on a corridor wall in a circular fashion that reminded me of the very first encounters with the Daleks. The episode is 6 months old, so I feel no need to post a spoiler alert. We are currently at 15 days until "The Bells of Saint John" and I want to get through the first half of the season before then so here's series 7, episode one, The "Asylum of the Daleks" review.

First of all I loved the way they changed the titles each episode to fit the episode, even through the Christmas special  I wouldn't mind that continuing. In this episode the letters of Doctor Who were filled in with the spheres of a Dalek. The titles appearing and disappearing in a 'wispy' way were well described by a friend as being less offensive to the eye. To me the clouds of the vortex changing each week was fun and for me got better as they went on. Other then that, I'll talk about the titles when I review "The Snowmen."

Now, while it isn't essential to see the 5 part "Pond Life" that ran the week leading up to this episode, it does give you a good sense of the relationships between the Ponds and The Doctor and between Amy and Rory since the end of "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe." Only about a minute each, but you do see that they haven't been regularly travelling together and that Rory and Amy have split up. Oh, and of course how can you miss seeing The Doctor actually changing the light bulb atop the TARDIS? Now, I see how long this post is already, so I'm just going to give thoughts and not full story descriptions. If by some chance you haven't seen it already, do so before reading this. Well, the rest of this now.

I'm making this the pre-review. Otherwise it'll be waaaay too long. I had so much intro to do. My actual thoughts on the episode are almost all typed out and will be done today. See if your thoughts on it match up with mine, and if you could answer one or two questions I still have.

And I swear I'm still working on non Doctor Who related things to blog.