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Wednesday, 30 of September of 2020

Tag » Doctor Who

Doctor Who – “Vincent and the Doctor” & “The Lodger”

This is the problem with the Impressionists: not accurate enough. This would never happen with Gainsborough or one of those proper painters.”

Combining two weeks of Doctor Who makes a bit of sense these days, given my busier schedule for the past two or three weeks and with BBC America’s infuriating scheduling of episodes. In any case, we have two fairly good episodes here, with “Vincent and the Doctor” being such a delightful treat and “The Lodger,” while fun, is a bit too breezy for its own good (though, as I’ll argue below, that’s kind of the point).

I will say that I like both episodes coming this late in the season, as I needed a bit of a pick-me-up. The show’s second half has been relatively so-so between pseudo-vampires and uninteresting Silurians (though I still like “Amy’s Choice,” but I think that’s largely in comparison to the others), and wrapping things up with two solid episodes before going into the finale does ramp up the excitement. Read more »

Doctor Who – “The Hungry Earth” & “Cold Blood”

If you forget him, you’ll lose him forever.

To be fair, this sort of thing happens in Rio, too.

This two parter is what I imagine a lot of the older (pre-relaunch) Doctor Who episodes played like. I say this though my knowledge of Who prior to the relaunch extends, essentially, to the very first episode (painful) and the 8th Doctor’s American movie (pretty bad in that mid-90s Fox sort of way).

But it still felt like an old episode. It could’ve been the heavy-handed message of xenophobia, seeing past differences, and then human beings screwing the entire thing up. I think that’s probably what it was. It was very classic sci-fi themes, with very little in variation on those themes.

Oh, and, you know, the ending of “Cold Blood.” That was different.

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Doctor Who – “Amy’s Choice”

Then what is the point of you?”

You will not be sleeping during the episode. (But don't they look cute?)

Dream episodes are always tricky. They can come off as overwrought or feel like a cheat. After the vapid “Vampires of Venice,” I was eager for a strong episode, and I was happily rewarded with “Amy’s Choice,” which does a number of things well on a number of levels. It’s a smartly constructed chamber-drama of sorts with some very nice character beats to be found through all the birds chirping and dangerous old people.

Due to the preview, I though the episode would be divisive, though I don’t think it ended up being that way. I think the challenge of the episodes come in how you want to interpret the reveal at the end, and what impact that has on your perception of the characters. It’s an inkblot of sorts, I think. Read more »

Doctor Who – “Vampires of Venice”

Why can we see your big teeth?”

“Vampires in Venice” is not a great episode. In fact, of the episodes aired, it’s probably the worst of the lot.

Worst. Stag. Party. Ever.

Spurred on by knowledge that something wicked is coming for the Earth on Amy’s wedding day, the Doctor decides to whisk Amy and Rory (the gawky guy from “The Eleventh Hour”) on a pre-wedding honeymoon to Venice in the 1800s. Truly, what could be more romantic? Well, vampires for one thing. Because we all know vampires scream romance.

While the premise isn’t a great thing, though they do some inventive things with the vampires, the episode itself is a bit of a mess. And this was a concern as the show transitioned to the writer of the week episodes (Moffat doesn’t have an episode on deck until the two-part finale). Could the momentum that Moffat established keep going? The answer, at least this week, is a pretty resounding “No.”

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Doctor Who – “Flesh and Stone”

The Doctor in the TARDIS hasn’t noticed yet.”

Barren wastelands really put Amy in the mood.

Clever boy.

A problem with the Davies period was that each series had an arc word/phrase that drove around each episode, until it finally, actually happened during the last two or three episodes of that series. It made for a rather infuriating serial element that never felt like it mattered until the very end, and then it meant everything. It was essentially an 11-episode tease.

The Moffat period has followed suit with the crack/smile in time. It’s been following the Doctor and Amy (though I’ve contended mostly Amy) around time and space, not doing a whole lot other than looking very menacing on the upholstery. Thankfully, “Flesh and Stone” resolves this issue.

Well, kind of resolves it anyway. Read more »

Doctor Who – “The Time of Angels”

There’s just something in my eye.”

After watching the premiere episode of this series, I told a colleague that I hoped the focus on ocularity (yes, I just made that word up) would continue as the episodes progressed. For instance, Prisoner Zero was only visible out of the corner of one’s eye, just out sight but still present. Indeed, selling this idea of presence just out of sight has been the show’s excellent use of deep focus photography (go back to “The Eleventh Hour” as they shoot the door in the hall or in “Victory of the Daleks” during the Doctor’s discussion with Churchill after finding out about the Daleks — some great deep focus work going on here), showing everything in pristine clarity, even if the characters can’t see that everything (the HD shooting is contributing to this as well).

Knowing that the Weeping Angels were coming back only enhanced my desire for the show to continue to play with lines of sight. Their entire threat rests not making eye contact, on not looking away, on not even blinking. But also playing into this is River Song. When you’re a Time Lord, history itself becomes a line of sight, and River Song is the Doctor’s blind spot, a woman who knows all about him but about whom the Doctor knows very little.

All of this makes for a very exciting and engaging episode, one that truly tests (and will no doubt test more next week in the conclusion) the mettle of the new Doctor and his companions. Read more »

Doctor Who – “Victory of the Daleks”

What does hate look like?”

As I’ve said, I’m not the biggest Dalek fan. I couldn’t totally explain why if prompted. Maybe it has something to do with their near-invulnerability. In any case, I was pleased that the Dalek episode was taken care of sooner rather than later.

“Victory of the Daleks” isn’t a great episode (which is fine since next week’s episode is superb). It essentially serves as the pilot episode for the new Daleks that will plague this Doctor during his tenure. The upside is that the episode affords us some more insight into the Doctor ever developing personality.

And, you know, Amy in a denim mini-skirt and cowboy boots. During the London Blitz.

Read more »

Doctor Who – “The Beast Below”

Because you knew if I stayed here, I’d be faced with an impossible choice.

“The Beast Below” is an episode that shows that the new series of Doctor Who is still not done cooking.

To be fair, I’ve always found the second episode of any new series in the relaunch to be a little “Meh.” Sure, “The End of the World” had the Doctor grooving to “Tainted Love”, but it was a weak episode overall. “Tooth and Claw” has a LOT of running around (even for a Davies episode), “The Shakespeare Code” is just plain bad (so bad), and “The Fires of Pompeii” retraces old ground about the companion wanting to alter time to save some bystanders. Indeed, the job of the second episode seems to be to provide any newcomers to the franchise a sense of how the show operates. And while this is an admirable thing, it’s still something that your first episode should really accomplish.

A part of this could just be the expectations that I have for Moffat’s brand of storytelling. He excels at creepiness (“Are you my mummy?”) and working in humor to those situations (“All that dancing!”) so that both feel exceptionally enhanced. Of course Moffat’s not writing all of these episodes, so I shouldn’t expect it all the time, but there’s very clearly a thematic bent to the series that I hope the rest of the staff is able to follow through on. As a result, “The Beast Below” has a great deal of potential for creepiness and twisted fairy tale stuff, but it’s not exactly fork tender yet.

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Doctor Who – “The Eleventh Hour”

I’m the Doctor. I’m worse than everybody’s aunt.”

At the end of The End of Time, I cried like a little boy whose favorite toy had been taken away from him. I didn’t want to live in a universe where David Tennant wasn’t the Doctor. He was manic, but brilliant, with a zest for (and a love of) life motivated by the all the carnage and death he had rained down on not only his own people but on those around him. (“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” will never be the same.) And while I am happy to have Tennant stretch himself elsewhere, the 10th Doctor’s departure was one I simply didn’t want to see.

So poor Matt Smith had a great deal to live up to. Indeed, there was no pressure on Steven Moffat, his writing and creative chops having already been proven in previous episodes (if you haven’t watched “Silence in the Library” / “Forest of the Dead” two-parter for some reason, you need to go and do that). Indeed, the trailer following The End of Time did have the feel, as one of my friends put it, of being The Young Doctor Who Chronicles. Eventual trailers created sparks of hope about Smith’s ability to fill the role, but they’re trailers: they’re supposed to get you excited.

But after watching “The Eleventh Hour” (Get it?), I’m pretty much head over heels for this custard loving, bow-tie wearing, chronically late Doctor. And while I enjoyed the episode, after sitting on it for a bit, I’m iffy on a number of factors.

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