Reaction – Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song

Tick tock goes the clock
And what now shall we play?
Tick tock goes the clock
Now summer’s gone away?

Tick tock goes the clock
And what then shall we see?
Tick tock until the day
That thou shalt marry me

Tick tock goes the clock
And all the years they fly
Tick tock and all too soon
You and I must die

Tick tock goes the clock
He cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock
Even for the Doctor..

Tick tock goes the clock
He cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock
Till River kills the Doctor..

Now that’s more like it! After a few episodes that honestly felt like filler episodes in the grand scheme of things, we have a really well done Moffat episode. I know the fanbase will be largely split with Moffat fans rejoicing to the hills and his detractors slamming it, as this was a VERY Moffat episode. Structured in a similar vein to The Impossible Astronaut and even The Pandorica Opens, we see more of the old “timey wimey” going on. We know how the Doctor escapes death, why River is in prison, and whether or not River is married to the Doctor (sort of…lol).

Not every question was answered, but we got through a good chunk of it. I guess we can chalk most of my previous ramblings about who broke into Amy’s house, and the destruction of the Tardis to be the master plan of the Silence to kill the Doctor at any means necessary. This largely points to these first two seasons being merely a stepping stone in a much larger ongoing storyline. This is both good and bad, as I hoped we would finally know everything that has happened at this point, but I’m glad all the answers weren’t rushed in one solitary episode. I was truly worried that we were going to have seen sixty minutes of random flashbacks and such.

The Wedding of River Song was a very important episode, not as much for the actual content, but as a casual reboot of the series. What many may not notice is that with the perceived “death” of the Doctor as seen by many, we have seen the end of the “super Jesus, Earth savior” Doctor, and the birth of a hopefully more reclusive Doctor that spends less time on Earth. What I hope we see is more “monster of the week” episodes where we might see a sense of the Silence “being onto him” or some such, but just in the background. We all know this will lead to the eventual reveal of the final battle between the Doctor and the Silence, most likely for the 50th Anniversary. I still cling to the possibility that we haven’t seen the person in charge of the Silence as of yet, and it would be amazing to find out who it is in a few years. All I know is that once he starts going to a place called “The Fields of Trensalore” we’re in for it.

Another fun tidbit is that the emphasis on the mystery behind the Doctor’s name adds new relevance to the title of the show. Many casual fans, or folks that may skim an episode here and there may wonder why the show is even called Doctor Who, some might even think that it’s his name. It’s a nice capstone for nearly 50 years of continuity and makes us wonder why he’s so secretive of his name. Does his name link him to something terrible?

My ongoing theory is that there is some big bad guy out there that needs to know the Doctor’s name for some reason. I’m wondering if the Doctor didn’t use it as the password for the “time lock” he used to trap the Time Lords and Daleks within Gallifrey, once it is uttered, this lock will be broken and cause havoc. Suddenly you’d have The Master set free, and all sorts of other pissed off Timelords. This would fit in with the alien coalition trying to stop the Doctor at all costs with the Pandorica, and even explain the Silence claiming that they have witnessed a dark future caused by the Doctor. Of course we won’t hear the name as viewers, as finding out that the Doctor’s name is “Barry” would probably ruin the show.

On a side note, I loved the little “fan-wanky” bits in this episode. For starters, when we find that all of time has been compressed to a solitary moment, we see anomalies such as Charles Dickens talking about his upcoming BBC Christmas special. Once he gets rolling you realize that he is talking about A Christmas Carol. Dickens was once again played by the returning Simon Callow, a man that many will remember from An Unquiet Dead way back in season 1. Other nice nods included the reappearance of Winston Churchill, who has apparently started riding a mammoth to work. With a less “in your face” cameo, we find that fan favorite companion “The Brigadier” has finally been laid to rest within the show. This follows the real life death of Nicholas Courtney. I would have liked a similar send-off to the one Elisabeth Sladen received, but the nod was nice to see.

So yeah, good episode, and a good savior for a somewhat mellow second half of a season. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Reaction: Doctor Who – Closing Time

Aside from Vincent and the Doctor, The Lodger was easily one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes of season five. Aside from being totally unorthodox in the way it was structured, it was almost like a buddy comedy. I felt that it was one of the better episodes solely based on the face that it showed The Doctor totally at odds with how to act in modern society; it truly brought out his alien nature. Simple mistakes like paying rent with a huge bag of cash may seem like a good idea to The Doctor, but would raise more than a few eyebrows. When it was officially announced that Craig (played by James Corden of Gavin & Stacy fame) would be returning as a “fill-in” companion this year, I was pretty stoked. Not only would a character I liked return, but it was revealed to be a Cybermen episode. And not a Russell T. Davies era “stomping around saying catchphrases Cybermen” episode, but a proper one, complete with Cybermats!

While there are some emotionless metal guys running around, the majority of the episode is centered on The Doctor and his one last attempt at saving the world. It seems that despite knowing that he will die in mere hours, he stops by Craig’s old haunt on some sort of a “farewell tour”. There is an ulterior motive of course, in that he has found some kind of power fluctuations in the area, so the Doctor uses this as an excuse to investigate a bit. What we see is a man on his last legs presumably 200 years after he dropped off Amy and Rory (in his time), trying to cope with his imminent death, and stop the death of one of his friends. Knowing that he basically endangers all that come near him, the Doctor wants Craig to stay away, but seems to only draw him in more.

This episode was very good for what it was: the fluffy episode towards the series finale that keeps one optimistic before their soul is crushed by the bleak ending we all know we will have. This has been seen in Boom Town, Love & Monsters, and finally The Lodger. I know that all of these episodes are somewhat “love it or hate it” affairs, but I think that Closing Time is one of the better ones. My personal favorite thing about the episode was the Doctor’s revelation that Craig’s son calls himself “Stormageddon” in baby language; I give it weeks before someone actually names their kid that. In the grand scheme of things Closing Time does nothing for the larger picture save a scene with River Song at the very end, but that wasn’t what it was there to do. It was the “palette cleanser” right before the main course, the episode that will hopefully blow us away and finish up some stuff we’ve been getting worked up about for 2 full seasons.

spoiler for next week:

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Reaction: Doctor Who – The God Complex

That's my fear door

“Praise Him!” “Praise Him!” “Praise Him!” “Praise Him!” “Praise Him!” errr *cough*

“The God Complex” is an odd episode, not in a bad way, but it definitely is different than anything else we’ve seen this season. First and foremost the direction was spot on for an episode that was supposed to make us feel uncomfortable and anxious. With a heavy use of surreal cinematography techniques including dutch angles, quick cuts, overlays of text and more, this almost felt a bit more like something Edgar Wright would have directed than a Doctor Who episode. Not that the story resembled anything like that. The actual plot was strange as well; it seemed to take the best elements from the “Hell scene” in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and crossed them with a bit of The Curse of Fenric, a seventh Doctor Story, chiefly with its use of fear and faith as a motif.

I was really worried that this would devolve into nothing more than a Scooby Doo corridor chase scene in the first act of the episode; but as we got further in, everything got a bit more mature than I was expecting. By “mature” I don’t mean gore and nudity, but complex themes not usually reserved for a family show.

While a lot of sci-fi has a tendency to take digs at religion and faith systems, this episode does it in a far more classy way than shows such as Stargate. Instead of coming across in a patronizing atheistic manner that some sci-fi embodies, we get an episode where the villain literally feeds on faith. Whether that faith be in a person, an idea, or a deity, we learn that most people fall back on faith when faced with our greatest fears in order to get us through. What if this faith is tampered with and everyone is brainwashed to have faith in the very thing that is about to kill them? The creature, a large minotaur-like monster, then finds this rapturous wave of faith for itself and feeds. Body after body falls until the Doctor can figure it out. Confusingly, Rory was shown to be a fatalist in some manner, and was said to have no faith. Since he only lives for himself, we are led to believe that the monster would leave him alone. Wouldn’t he have faith in Amy?

This idea is best played out when we find out that Amy hold all of her faith in the Doctor. He greatest fear is the Doctor abandoning her in some way, and she clings to him for help. Realizing that Amy regards him as some sort of God-like figure he has to make her lose faith in him or she’ll die. This was seen at one other point in Doctor Who history, an eighties episode called the Curse of Fenric. Then it was Ace that the Doctor was forced to mess with, although that instance was far more cruel than what we got tonight. The Doctor could have said something like “I could have saved your baby, but I chose not to”, instead we get the Doctor humbling himself.

All in all this was a good episode, but I will have to watch it again to fully take it in. the unorthodox direction, the weird plot and a few things to ponder make this hard to fully register. I do have some things to ponder for next week:

What exactly did the Doctor see behind his fear door? I assumed it was himself, but could it be someone truly evil?

What does the doctor worship? Amy asks this and the Doctor basically brushes it aside. Was this a random bit of dialogue, or is there importance to it? I feel this may tie in to point one, possibly showing the “big bad” of this season. It may be false hope, but I really want there to be a crazy evil time lord to be the ringleader at the end, and I wonder if this was the seed planted in our heads.

If the Minotaur is related to the Nimons and was seen as a God to some group, did that imply that he was the God of them? It wasn’t really made clear.

Reaction: Doctor Who – The Girl Who Waited

I’ve tried to keep this largely spoiler free, any story points are purposely left vague.

Every year a Doctor Who episode comes around that makes me think to myself “this is the one that will get the Hugo awards nod.” Last year I felt exactly the same way about Vincent and the Doctor, and it was at least nominated. I’m not going to go out and say that it was a perfect episode, but in my honest opinion The Girl Who Waited is the best episode of this season so far. It has been a while since we’ve had an episode so emotionally gutting that it seemingly left many fans sobbing at the end. I did not thankfully cry, but was struck with the immense sense of emotional uneasiness usually left for when I finish watching something like Children of Men or District 9, not a show deemed a “kid’s show” by many. Keep in mind that I by no means want the entire series to play out like the last episode, but these emotional “adult” episodes keep fans buzzing and keep the show pretty exciting.

What a comeback for Tom McCrae as well. When he last let his pen touch paper in the Doctor Who realm we ended up with Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel; neither was a really bad episode, but neither pushed the show the same way they could have. I remember hearing that that two-parter was somehow related, even adapted, from the Big Finish audio drama Spare Parts, I don’t see how as that particular audio episode was AMAZING, and the TV variant was average. Perhaps the only bad thing I can say about the whole thing is that McCrae himself was obviously very pleased with himself after the episode aired, and managed to make himself look like a total arrogant jackass on the Confidential episode this week. For my money, one has to write a series of great episodes before one can act that smug (LOL). A lot can be credited for both the acting and the direction from all involved, as with the faltering of either would have resulted in a very different animal.

So anyway, back to the episode…We finally saw the return of the Doctor’s moral ambiguity and alien POV to the show this week. Many times lately, we have been witnessing a Doctor that somehow sees himself as a superhero or “space Jesus”-like character, flying around saving kittens in trees and helping old ladies cross the road. While this Doctor isn’t as edgy as say, Captain Jack Harkness, he has no qualms manipulating folks for the better good, a quality not really seen in large part since Sylvester McCoy’s run on the show many years ago. The scenario in question involved the Doctor lying to his most trusted companions only to place them with a horrendous decision to overcome at the end. Without spoiling the actual plotline, a memorable moment had Rory yelling “you’re turning me into you!” and Amy screaming “I trusted you!” both pretty intense for said “children’s show”. This should come as no surprise for long time and even recent fans, as we have learned many times that rule number one is “the Doctor lies”.

Here’s hoping the next few episodes are up to the quality of this one, and with a Cyberman episode, the return of Craig, and the answers we need sooo badly I don’t see how it won’t.

Doctor Who Random Thoughts (catch-up edition)

Yeah …. it has been literally months since I last posted on here. Truth is I have been trying my best to get a new job, a driver’s license, and keep up with the shenanigans at my current workplace, all this amongst other things. The last episode I looked at was “the Curse of the Black Spot” many ages ago, so instead of going back and forcing myself to write a bunch of blog posts about things that aired months ago, I figured I’d get myself all caught up in one fell-swoop.

First and foremost, I want to commend BBCA for finally pushing Doctor Who into (as close as one could imagine) the mainstream. Their advertising, toy sales, store tie-ins, and other promotions have taken my favorite show from some obscure basement dweller-esque obsession a more recognized nerdy past-time. It makes me crack up how popular the show has become today, and how easily the younger folks out there have latched onto it.

I remember ordering a nearly 20 foot long Tom Baker era scarf for the costume on my “about page” for a Halloween party a number of years ago. When I got to the party, literally one person, my wife (then girlfriend) knew what I was dressed as. There was a random dude we saw at Target that seemed pretty stoked I had the scarf and hat on but others dismissed the costume entirely as if I had made it up. Now one can see a multitude of Doctor Who costumes at conventions, even ones that have nothing to do with science fiction. We recently attended an Anime Convention in Kansas City where there was something like 3-4 Tenth Doctors running around, this fact made me very happy.

I think my own personal smugness with the fandom truly came into effect when my former boss gave me crap about my love for the show. This was not in a malicious way, but the product of a two party fun-poking competition where I pointed out how big Doctor Who was getting and made fun of Lost (his favorite show) and vice versa. My crowning achievement was setting up a display at the store with a generic sign that said “local favorites” comprised of Doctor Who books and DVDs we had been getting. This display was met with snickers from him until season 5 was released on DVD. Pretty soon I did take down my display, only to replace it with a huge professionally done display sent by corporate full of Matt Smith toys, daleks, books and more. Needless to say I didn’t hear any snide comments for a bit. I know, small victories and all….(LOL) You see I’m not one that wants “my show” to stay “underground” aka nobody has seen it. I’d like to share my fandom, and now I can.

So anyway, this week marks the middle of the second half of season six, and we are FINALLY getting some answers. Being a Moffat fan, the structure of this season does not bother me, but I can see a few folks chomping at the bit for resolutions for things a few seasons in the making. I do hope that this series arc concept isn’t repeated to such a degree in the future, as I actually enjoy episodes that stand on their own a bit more than ones that are a mere puzzle piece in the grand scheme of things. It’s hard to really rate such an episode because it could be utterly brilliant once you see what comes later. A return to a more “anthology” style suits the show better (in my opinion, of course). This season hasn’t been bad at all, in fact it has been great….it’s just been different as well. I will say that I preferred last season a bit compared to this one as a whole, but that could change if the next few episodes blow me away.

Now that we basically know who River Song is, and how she is related to The Doctor, Amy, and Rory, these last few episodes really need to flesh out the craziness in the Doctor’s apparent death. I still feel that the “death” we saw was staged for some reason, but knowing the way Moffat likes to mess with us it may not be that simple at all. I just hope that the whole thing gets wrapped up with a bow at the end, maybe introducing a huge foe for a while at the same time.

Doctor Who Random Thoughts – Curse of the Black Spot (S6 E3)

With a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie on the horizon it was just a matter of time before we got a new take on the old pirate motif in Doctor Who.  The episode begins with the Doctor and his crew landing on board a pirate ship full of terrified seamen.  It seems that whenever one of these gentlemen gets even the slightest bruise, cut, or sickness a green skinned mermaid / siren type creature pops up and presumably kills them.  This death is of course predicted by a ominous black spot appearing on the victim’s hand just before the attack.

The Curse of the Black Spot reminds me of some of the season openers we used to have during the Russell T. Davies era and more specifically those in which David Tennant was the Doctor.  Not to say that’s a bad thing, but this episode seemed more “fluff” than the previous two which is both good and bad. On one hand I was relieved to see a bit of a reprieve of all of the Lost-esque stuff from the first two episodes and the disjointedness was gone.  On the other we basically got the same kind of feel good romp that we always get with the whole “base under siege” episode archetype.  This time the base being a pirate ship and the monster that of a siren / mermaid.

I think the main reason that this episode was only “average” to me was that one scene was inexplicably cut from the show, and messed up my train of thought while watching it.  When all the pirates started to resort to infighting, the first mate was cut by the captain’s son as he tried to screw them all over.  We see a scene of him barricading the door, only to have the character not appear in the rest of the episode until the very end.  All of the sudden the Doctor runs into the room and he’s just gone with no explanation. I hope that there was a deleted scene that saw his removal from the ship because if not…..yeesh.

The episode did redeem itself a bit when we get the ending and the creation of a troupe of space pirates.  I’ve always been a fan of space pirates due to my love of Leiji Matsumoto space operas, and am glad to see some pop up in modern Doctor Who.  All in all, good episode could have been better.

Doctor Who Random Thoughts – Day of the Moon (S6 E2)

We had some friends over tonight for a bit of a movie marathon containing The King’s Speech, which was amazing, and tonight’s episode of Doctor Who, which was once again a mind-screw.  I’ve kept away from giving too much of my opinion on the episode as I wanted to watch both halves to make a better decision on the matter, so here we go.

First thing of note in the episode was that BBC America decided to ditch the introductory preamble from last week and brought back the “time tunnel” commercial breaks.  I think this looks better especially in the commercial department as last week’s episode would seemingly cut out in the middle of scenes.  This was especially jarring considering it was sponsored with “limited commercial breaks” from BMW, a fact made more confusing by the butt-load of commercials.  In fact, this week had less commercials as far as I could tell.  I actually liked the little preamble thing, reminded me of Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes a bit, but oh well, I guess folks complained too much :P

My only real quibble with this episode came from the resolution of the cliffhanger and the seemingly rushed opening moments at this point.  It was weird seeing the apparent “heel turn” of Canton Delaware only to find out that he has basically been tasked with a secret mission by Richard Nixon.  This was cool, but I really don’t think that it was handled as well as it could have been.  I generally like the whole “time jump” trope if it is used well in some shows, but it was almost tiresome in this episode.  It almost seemed as if the production staff wanted to use all of the great location footage from the desert that they had taken instead of keeping us in the loop with what was going on.

One thing I forgot to really mention last week was my opinion of this shows portrayal of Richard Nixon.  As historical figures go, this new series has definitely hit the nail on the head multiple times with the likes of Churchill, Dickens, Van Gough and now Nixon.  You can tell the actor had prosthetics and makeup on, but his version of everyone’s favorite fallen president was at least believable unlike versions I’ve seen such as the one in Watchmen.  It is funny that Nixon appears to be a companion of sorts as he traveled in the Tardis on two occasions (that we know of).  Maybe my dream of seeing the Doctor and a fist fighting Abe Lincoln will come to fruition at some point.

This episode did have two incredibly huge WTF moments found within.  The first of which occurred when Amy was traveling around the abandoned orphanage looking for evidence of the little girl, or the silence.  We are treated to an eerie scene where a “window” suddenly opens on the surface of a metal door and we see a VERY futuristic metallic eye patch lady say something similar to “I think she’s dreaming” and slide the window shut.  This scene was at complete odds with what was going on in the rest of the scene and was made that much more disturbing in this way.  Obviously this is some sort of foreshadowing for a future episode, but what could it mean?  Was Amy asleep at the time, and maybe this person was helping the silence, or is there some sort of Ashes to Ashes shenanigans afoot?  Time will tell?

WTF!

The ending…..yeah…..HOLY CRAP!

Thoughts on Doctor Who “The Impossible Astronaut”

Rather than doing what I used to do – vague and somewhat crappy spoiler free reviews, I think I will instead focus on my reactions to the episodes as I watch them.

Spoilers ahoy!

Well, let’s face it…Steven Moffat is messing with us now. Last night was the premier episode of season 6 of Doctor Who with “The Impossible Astronaut.” As one can imagine Moffat has continued to shake the shackles of the overdone and frankly tired “repeated meme as theme for season” motif as seen in the previous seasons (e.g. “Bad Wolf”, “Torchwood” etc), and Instead we have been treated to a new idea in which we see something horrendously shocking (i.e. the apparent death of The Doctor) and it’s hopeful resolution. Last season a few folks complained that the show wasn’t wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end, there were still questions left to be answered.  It seems that this season we may get some answers, but we are already getting plenty of more questions along the way.

The first quarter of the episode is a real “WTF moment” as we are treated to the aforementioned “Death of the Doctor”. Amy, Rory, River and a man named Canton all end up with blue envelopes detailing exact coordinates to meet in the American Southwest.  We meet a slightly older, and somewhat “shaken” Doctor, who keeps talking about how he has “run for far too long”.  It can be assumed that The Doctor sent the notes himself as he wanted these people to witness what was to unfold.  Amidst all of the “catching up” and cheerful laughter, an Apollo astronaut or a reasonable facsimile (we still don’t know what it is) rises out of the water and shoots The Doctor with some sort of energy weapon triggering a regeneration, right as we can assume that Moffat is going to tease the twelfth Doctor, another shot rings out dropping him stone dead.

This brings up all sorts of questions like:

Who shot The Doctor?

Who sent the letters, are we sure it was The Doctor?

Why did he only send four letters, wouldn’t The Doctor want more folks to see what happens?

How will this inevitably be resolved?

As you can tell this isn’t the typical beginning of the series “fun romp” that many are accustomed to, instead we have a VERY dark and mature episode full of character development.  In the past year a lot of “trollish” people complained incessantly that Amy and Rory didn’t add to the show and were “just sort of there”, this seems to be exactly what these folks wanted as we are treated to a TON more characterization than what we are used to.  This is especially relevant with River Song, as we are really starting to get clues as to her true relation to The Doctor.  Here’s hoping that we find that out either this or next season!

I believe we are already witnessing this season’s “big bad” a.k.a. the one responsible for the cracks last season and the reason we heard the voice echoing “THE SILENCE WILL FALL” during the climax of last season.  The episode’s principle villains (which we find out are called “the silence” according to the website) have the creepy ability to make one forgot their very existence once they are not being directly observed.  We see this in action many times as Amy, and later River, see the large Tuxedo clad “leader” of the silence and forgot about it each time they turn their head.  This makes for a creature nearly as unsettling as the weeping angels, and would make a great one-off villain, but one thing sticks out that paints these guys as far more important as one initially notices.

When River and Rory stumble into what I can only assume is their lair, they end up walking into a very familiar Tardis-esque ship.  This contraption was revealed in last season’s “The Lodger” an episode where we never actually found out who was behind the whole ordeal.  It was basically assumed that a rogue Tardis-like machine showed up, lost its pilot and was killing people whilst trying to find a new master of the ship.  What we never found out was the person or thing behind the fake Tardis, and what it’s purpose was.  I have a feeling that we are about to find out.

I’ll hold off on any theories and such until we see part two of this opening two-parter, but if this episode was any indication of what is to come, I’m all on board for season six!