Monday, June 30, 2008

Doctor Who S04E12-The Stolen Earth

In a sudden instant, the Earth vanishes from right under The Doctor and Donna’s feet. As the planet float in a shrouded area of space with several other stolen worlds, the problems of humanity get worse when a vast army of Daleks begin attacking the planet. As The Doctor and Donna desperately search for a way to find the missing planets, the Earth’s last remaining defenders: (Martha Jones and U.N.I.T., Captain Jack Harkness and Torchwood, Sarah Jane and Luke Smith) and one defender from another Earth (Rose Tyler) band together to confront the Dalek threat. But Jack, Martha, Sarah Jane and Rose have faced the Daleks before and know of their destructive capabilities. Without The Doctor and even with Rose’s help, can they stop the Dalek invasion of Earth? And who is the mysterious voice giving orders to the Daleks?

Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve finally arrived at “The Stolen Earth” and like most two part episodes of the series so far, it does a spectacular job of getting the blood pumping for the inevitable conclusion. With this story we see the culmination of four years worth of Doctor Who and more come together for the end all be all clash of the ages. For those of you who have followed the series since it’s resurrection in 2005 and even before that, this is one big reward for your dedication with characters and lots of series trivia tidbits, so many you will be lucky enough to catch them all. This is the start of a finale that “The Parting of the Ways”, “Doomsday” and “Last of the Time Lords” (the third one especially) could only dream of being.

I’ll try to keep this as short as possible and try to be spoiler free for those of you who haven’t watched this yet. However, there is little negativity to be found with this episode. I’ll start with my amazement of Russell T. Davies bringing Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures under the umbrella of it’s parent series and making them all work together. It was fun seeing Gwen, Ianto and Luke, who have only been mentioned in passing in previous episodes, interacting with Jack, Martha and Sarah Jane, like, well, one big happy family.

Leave it to the Daleks to come back with a bang. It is hard to believe that at one point there was only one left, but as everyone knows, you can’t keep them dead forever. The Daleks will always come back in one way or another to take on The Doctor in a battle of epic proportions. It would be one big spoiler to reveal the reason behind their return and it may even be expanded more next week. I will say, however, that Dalek Caan, the last of the Cult of Skaro has a role to play as The Doctor predicted.

Rose is back as previously mentioned. Like I said in my review of “Turn Left”, last week we saw her at her most clever and this week we saw her at her most bad ass, blasting Daleks to dust left and right with her BFG. While she only meets Jack and Donna she does see everyone else but can communicate with them and feels left out. You can hear it in her voice, her helplessness and do I dare say jealousy of The Doctor’s faith in her successors.

Possibly the saddest moment of the episode is the reason The Doctor’s companions coming together. Harriet Jones, ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, returns to help out one last time. It is a fitting farewell to her character, sticking to the morals that got her ostracized by The Doctor and yet finding some redemption and providing a way for The Doctor to find his way to Earth. I’ll leave it at that if you can’t guess yet what happens. That’s me trying to be spoiler free for ya.

I’ll stop there so I don’t spoil anything else. If you haven’t seen “The Stolen Earth” yet, find a way to do so immediately and hold your breath for July 5, 2008 when “Journey’s End” brings us to the biggest epic we’ve ever seen.

Next Week…The Journey's hoping this isn't the end of the road for David Tennant's fantastic Doctor.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Doctor Who S04E11-Turn Left

When Donna goes to get her fortune read, she is transported to a parallel Earth. Here, anything that can go bad has, all because of one small decision. The Doctor, Torchwood, Sarah Jane Smith and her friends have all died saving the world from various threats. And now the biggest threat the universe has ever seen is about to descend and nothing can stop it. When all hope seems lost, a mysterious blonde girl appears who may hold the key to giving another Earth a fighting chance against the coming darkness.

Don’t you just love those parallel timeline stories? Personally, it makes me feel sad to know that every character you love can die at some point. But knocking off all of them at one time for sake of story of the alternate Earth can be a bit depressing. If anyone needs further examples take a look at some of Marvel Comics X-Men and Avengers storylines and you may see what I mean.

But yeah, sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. What an episode this week huh? The perfect setup has been laid for the mother of all finales. And while it was strange to see The Doctor out of the picture for a bit, “Turn Left” did a good job at analyzing just how insecure and a pain in the ass Donna can be sometimes. But, if all is as proclaimed by this episode alone, she is clearly more important to The Doctor than anyone would have guessed.

And how can you chat about this episode without feeling excited at Rose’s long awaited return? God, it was so good to see her on the show again for more than thirty seconds. Billie Piper picks up the character in a bit of a different place from when we last saw her. She’s no longer sad about losing The Doctor, perhaps knowing she was going to see him again put her in a good mood. But she acts more like The Doctor this time around, sort of filling in for our absent Time Lord this week. Just shows how much she’s learned from being with him. This week we saw her as the open minded and clever individual we all love and next week we get to see her at her most bad ass. Welcome back Rose!!!

And hopefully all of you die hard Doctor Who fans caught all of the references to episodes and characters throughout the show, from Sarah Jane to “The Runaway Bride” and “Voyage of the Damned” to the first mention of Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones from “Torchwood”.

Overall, the setup is ready, now it’s time to bring the noise with the finale we’ve been waiting to see since “Partners in Crime” back in April.

Next Week-Torchwood, Sarah Jane Smith, Rose Tyler, Bad Wolf, Daleks-lots of Daleks, and the end of the world…the episode we’ve been waiting for since April.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Doctor Who S04E10-Midnight

While Donna sunbathes in the pleasure palace on the planet Midnight, The Doctor boards a local flight to witness the beautiful crystal waterfalls of the planet. All is going well on board for most of the trip: the passengers are friendly and the mood is absolutely pleasant. That is, until a mysterious force attacks the ship and infects one of the passengers. Trapped in the middle of nowhere with help a long ways off, The Doctor soon finds himself just as helpless as everyone else as fear and paranoia quickly grip the passengers.

I’ll give Russell T. Davies one thing; if he wants to he can almost absolutely find new and unusual ways to blow an audience away with a Doctor Who serial. And here with “Midnight” he both succeeds and fails in this regard.

First, this is not your ordinary Doctor Who outing. It is more a psychological thriller/horror piece designed to terrify and genuinlly freak out to the best of its ability. Again, as with “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, the supporting characters are typecast in roles that fit such a genre story such as this. Even The Doctor finds himself out of character, a man not in control of the situation but rather the soon to be helpless victim of a paranoid crew determined to use the airlock on him. Props again to David Tennant for showing another side of The Doctor we have never seen before.

However, putting the story in one tiny setting is something that I feel should be reserved for only those seven minute “Children in Need” specials Doctor Who has done in the past. Doctor Who to me is supposed to be above and beyond epic proportions. Keeping the story confined to one tiny shuttle for 45 minutes can be as effective to the horror atmosphere as it was aggravating for me hoping that the story would move elsewhere for a minute or two.

So yeah, this is a mixed episode, both excellent and frustrating as well. Luckilly, Davies must again be given credit for trying something new with the series. I’m sure he will take what this episode did best and be sure to add it to future installments if he opts to stay on as a guest writer in the series future.

Next Week: As Donna’s world falls down around her…Rose Tyler returns to help her save The Doctor and the world. I think the important part is that after a year and a half of waiting…ROSE IS BACK!!!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Doctor Who S04E09-Forest of the Dead

With the Vashta Nerada hot on their trail and their small band of survivors dwindling fast, The Doctor and River Song are running out of time to save the day. As more and more of the mysterious library is revealed to them, so to is a bit more of their mysterious relationship. Meanwhile, Donna finds herself back home with the perfect husband, perfect children and an overall perfect life...too perfect to be real. Can she escape her virtual entrapment and return to The Doctor and when the chips are down and the times are desperate, what sacrifices will have to be made in order to rescue 4022 people?

The heart was defintley racing this week. After a stellar start off last week, Forest of the Dead proved it could continue the tour de force its predecessor started. Spectacular writing, genuine terror and mind boggling mystery all came together to make yet another perfect episode, probably the best one of the series thus far.

As per any real Doctor Who story, the mystery surrounding River Song and The Doctor, who have apparently met sometime in the future, never really gets a clear cut conclusion. Even more of a head scratcher was the fact that she knew something about The Doctor most people don't...his real name. But, as usual, the writers continue to keep The Doctor and elusive character in terms of his shourded past. Nothing is spoiled, and in the end it's probably better that way. It will be interesting to see if Song returns later on in the series and we can finally figure out what sort of adventures she and The Doctor had together.

Donna's story was pretty creepy taking an almost Matrix-esque approach to the real world vs. virtual world. It was sad to see her perfect life fall apart in the end, but it had to be done in order to get the big reveal of CAL in the spotlight. A little girl, centuries old trapped in the Library's control system as it's guardian. So sad. And Colin Salmon was back as Doctor Moon, again giving an errie yet awsome performance. Honestly, the Donna side of the story was kind of distracting from The Doctor's story and the chase going on in the library. But I won't hold that against this episode, not this time because I enjoyed it so much.

Overall, FANTASTIC!!! A true Doctor Who outing for the ages with a "everybody lives" finale that I haven't seen since Christopher Eccelston's days as The Doctor. Again, cudos to Steven Moffat and his spectacular writing. The series is in good hands.

Next Week-On route to the planet Midnight, something lurks in the plane. And one week from that...Rose Tyler returns


Friday, June 6, 2008

Doctor Who S04E08-Silence in the Library

The Doctor and Donna land on the Library, a planetoid that is one gigantic book collection. The Library has come under attack, leaving no apparent survivors. Teaming up with a small crew of archeologists, one of whom seems to know much about The Doctor, the duo hurries to answer several hundred questions at once while staying alive in the process. What are the deadly Vashta Nerada? Who is the mysterious River Song and what is her connection to The Doctor? And, maybe most important of all, how is their current predicament connected to the dreams and nightmares plaguing a small girl back on present day Earth?

After two back to back weeks of somewhat subpar episodes, Doctor Who kicks it back into high gear with a frightful adventure worthy of being part of the saga. This is thanks, in no small part, to returning writer Steven Moffat, who gave us last seasons chilling “Blink”. Moffat knows how to inject any Doctor Who episode he writes with that massive dose of heart pumping adrenaline that drives the show from one point to the next with little time to breathe. It’s no wonder he has been chosen to succeed Russell T. Davies once he exits as head writer at the end of this series.

The story itself works similar to that of “The Sontaran Stratagem” as pulling all of the pieces together slowly in order to set up the massive payoff in part two. As I mentioned in my episode summary above, there are plenty of questions left unanswered at the end of part one of this story. In a way, not knowing those answers is just as frightening as the dreaded Vashta Nerada themselves, something worse than the Daleks apparently, which is something to really worry about.

The new characters introduced in this episode seemed to work off the stereotypical science fiction horror genre such as the “Alien Quadrilogy”. From proper doctors to dimwitted sidekicks, the gangs all here and one just wants to wonder who is going to get killed next and how. I was happy to recognize at least one familiar face in this new crowd. That face is Colin Salmon from the “James Bond” series, who plays the little girls psychologist with some kind of knowledge as to what is going on in the library. I can’t wait to see what kind of role he plays next week.

I loved this episode. It was old fashioned Doctor Who magic and horror all rolled into one 45 minute package. It’s still nice to know that the right combination of writers and actors can still pull things together. This is how you do a Doctor Who episode. Let’s just hope that part two can deliver a proper slam bang finale.

Next Week-The Library is no longer safe…not if The Doctor has anything to say about it.