Sunday, April 25, 2010

Doctor Who S05E04-The Time of Angels

River Song lands onboard the TARDIS and orders The Doctor to pursue a strange ship, which crashes on the planet Alfava Metraxis. Turns out, River was tracking the last of the Weeping Angels along with a team of Church Soldiers. However, once in the catacombs of the planet, things take a turn for the worst. The “Maze of the Dead” holds an army of dormant Weeping Angels waiting for the right snack to return them to power. On top of that, a disasterous encounter with a Weeping Angel leaves Amy in a bad psychological state. Trapped in the dark and surrounded by the deadliest creatures in the universe, if there were ever a time for The Doctor to have a brilliant idea, that time is now.

This weeks episode had a lot of material to cover and in a way it did so effectively. But then again was it just me or did this episode go by lightning fast? It felt like the episode had reached the halfway point by the end and I don’t mean the obvious end of part one but the end of the first half of part one. Maybe it was just me, but I will digress and get into the actual episode.

Alex Kingston is back as River Song this week. Obviously this is an earlier version of the woman we saw in the brilliant Series Four Steven Moffat two-parter “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”. Even so Ms. Kingston still brings that very flirtatious and adventurous flair to the character. Her introduction to the story is both sexy and brilliant as she walks around the Byzantium in red high heels (a lot of shots of her shows for some reason) in order to get a message out to The Doctor. And when she meets up with him, it’s like no time has passed. Ms. Kingston and Matt Smith play their scenes together brilliantly, bickering like an old married couple (it’s so obvious by this point) then working together with almost linked minds the next.

The Weeping Angels were a truly fierce foe when they were originally introduced in Series Three’s “Blink”, also written by Steven Moffat. Giving them a planet of their own and a darker scarier environment all together was the perfect way to up how dangerous these creatures can be. Moffat gives the Angels more upgrades by revealing their ability to become alive even in a looped video recording. Scarier is the fact that the Angels are getting more violent this time around. They are not time displacing their victims anymore. No now they’re just snapping necks…time to be really afraid. And as for what they are doing to Amy, screwing with her head and all, one has to wonder just how bad it is going to get for her next week.

Aside from the sheer quickness of the story, this was a pretty good episode and a good bounce back from last weeks sort of Dalek downer. River Song is always a good character to have on screen and the Weeping Angels are deadlier than ever. Plus it was a nice bonus to have Iain Glen (Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction) playing the bishop commander of the Church squadron. Here’s hoping he makes to the end of Part Two. But then again, with the Weeping Angels as your enemy, when it comes to survival all bets are off.

Next Time-The battle goes up to the Byzantium…and the Angels are awakening everywhere.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Doctor Who S05E03-Victory of the Daleks

The Doctor and Amy land in the middle of London during WWII to answer a call from PM Winston Churchill. Churchill reveals his newest hope to win the war, a new breed of iron men who look exactly like The Doctor’s old enemies, The Daleks. The Doctor knows something is wrong and that the whole world is playing right into the hands of the Daleks. And if The Doctor can’t stop them, he faces the horrific rebirth of one of the deadliest empires in the universe.

Victory of the Daleks had some very exciting action set pieces, cudos to the visual effects team for going all out on this one. But somehow I just felt it was more of a step back from the outstanding last two weeks of stories. This could be because it’s the first episode of the season not written by Steven Moffat. But the episode moved fast and even felt like it was leaving several loose plot threads along the way.

I always knew the Daleks were never gone for good, even when they were all seemingly destroyed in Series 4’s Journey’s End. It is a nice test for Matt Smith as The Doctor as I’m sure fans have been waiting for his oppourtunity to face off against classic Doctor Who villains. And while I felt that some of Mr. Smith’s acting was a bit over the top, particularly in the scenes where he is banging a Dalek with a wrench to expose its wickidness, The Doctor’s feelings are understandable. His worst enemy working along side a desperate human race during one of the darkest periods in human history, it does sound too good to be true. I felt that the plan was exposed too quickly and the appearance of “old school” color coded Daleks was both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because the new old look harkens back to how the Daleks first appeared way back when on Doctor Who. It’s a curse cause I just feel they could have done more to show how ruthless they are. Although I must admit their killing of their three non pure upgrades was pretty shocking and a nice close out to the Dalek model we’ve seen since 2005.

While the Dalek story moved at a rapid pace, some of the characters were still given plenty of attention. Ian McNiece was finely cast as Winston Churchill, the man who sheltered England from the Nazi’s during WWII. As aforementioned in my Dalek story analysis, his wanting the Daleks to be a true blessing is understandable considering what is going on around him. But even after he learns of the Daleks true intentions, Churchill is still a man of action rallying his troops to combat the new threat. It is a fine performance by Mr. McNiece I think. Also there is the Dalek built Dr. Bracewell, a man trying to deal with the revelation that he has been a tool for destruction all along, that he wasn’t even real. His scene with The Doctor and Amy as they try to disarm the bomb on his chest is a great scene with Bracewell finding his peace and humanity and Amy revealing some not so subtle hints towards a potential more than just friends liking to The Doctor.

Of course, we got some Top Gun esque action with WWII fighter jets going head to head with a Dalek battleship. It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s a ridiculous concept but nonetheless a fun Doctor Who ridiculous concept. I’m just curious how they got those fighter up and running so fast. Eh, oh well.

Overall, this episode had some great moments and great hints of stuff to come regarding Amy not remembering the Dalek invasion of Earth during Series 4’s The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. Plus those pesky cracks in time are popping up at the end of every episode now and one can’t help but wonder how Amy is connected. Series 5 is doing a lot of this right, the most important being producing the need in our minds to see more and try to piece together whats coming. This wasn’t a truly fantastic episode like the last two weeks, but is was still fun and interesting nonetheless.

Next Week-Professor River Song returns to the TARDIS with a heart stopping warning…The Weeping Angels are back…don’t blink.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Doctor Who S05E02-The Beast Below

Far off in the galaxy, long after the sun roasted the Earth, the United Kingdom floats across the stars as a humongous colony ship. Here, the choice to support or forget is the same as choosing between life and death, especially when something lurks in the deep below the streets of London. It is on this island on a ship that Amy Pond will have her first off world adventure with The Doctor. And it is here that she will learn just how much he needs someone to occasionally stop him from making the worst decision imaginable.

Well Series 5 is now in full swing and going at a mile a minute with its momentum. Most, if not all of this momentum, is thanks to the powerhouse team that is Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. In the span of two episodes, Matt Smith has managed to dispel all fears of his tenure as The Doctor. The manic energy he burst onto the screen with in The Eleventh Hour is still here and it looks like he is having a blast delivering the lingo and going from one thought to the next in seconds. He kind of reminded me of Christopher Eccelston’s Ninth Doctor with some of his scenes, especially the more dark ones. As for Ms. Gillan, well she continues to amaze me. In several scenes I could see her channeling The Doctor’s persona as she ventured almost fearlessly into the unknown. But it was her tender scenes with The Doctor that made this episodes latter half work. The scene where Amy works out what needs to be done and defies The Doctor is exactly what an older, more experienced version of The Doctor would have done and by reminding him of this, Amy Pond earns more of The Doctor’s respect as well as my own. They really are as great a team as Steven Moffat hyped them up to be and it will be heartbreaking if they have to split up so soon at the end of the series.

Our hero’s aside, the rest of the episode was a lot of fun to watch. The mystery of the titular beast was fascinating and the revelation of it being a selfless space age whale with a past similar of that to The Doctor’s was a fun twist. I also like the “Empire Strikes Back” omage when The Doctor and Amy were trapped in its mouth and had one of those, “this is no cave” realizations. The Smilies I thought were kind of annoying with the turning of the faces from happy to sad to grrr. Sorry I didn’t feel freaked out by them as I probably should have been. Of course we also had another companion in the form of Liz 10, the sexy gun totting Queen of England. It was also kind of fun to hear her talk about The Doctor’s long…er…history with the royalty of England, including a reference to Series 2’s “Tooth and Claw” where The Tenth Doctor and Rose were knighted and then banished from England. Liz’s story was as sad as the rest of the people onboard the ship who had to forget to stay alive. It’s just more of the great drama the Steven Moffat is good at writing.

As icing on the cake, we got some more hints at what is to come later on in the series. A crack similar to the one in Amy’s old room popped up again on the ship as the whale headed off on its course. I should also take a quick second to say the Space Whale looked amazing, my hats off to the special effects team for a job well done. Oh and the appearance of Ian McNiece as Winston Churchill being watched over by an old enemy, my blood is boiling with excitement for next week. Again to those who might be reading this and not watching cause David Tennant’s not there, Get off your butts, dry your tears and turn your TV’s back on cause the best is yet to come. I’m sure even Mr. Tennant is proud.

Next Time-You can never keep them down for good. THE DALEKS ARE BACK!!! Let’s see how Number Eleven fares against an upgraded version of his oldest foes.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Doctor Who S05E01-The Eleventh Hour

Amy Pond once met a man who fell into her backyard in a tiny blue box. He promised to take her with him five minutes after they met. Years later, this mysterious stranger storms back into her life…but not to make good on him promise, at least not yet. Barely holding on after his latest regeneration, The Doctor must convince Amy to trust him if he is to save the world in twenty minutes from a vicious escaped convict. The price of failure is the roasting of Planet Earth. The new adventure has begun.

Four months ago, many of us shed a tear when David Tennant uttered his final words as The Doctor, “I don’t’ want to go.” Then we watched him regenerate and we got an all too brief yet interesting first look at Matt Smith, a.k.a The Eleventh Doctor. As we watched him falling to Earth in his burning TARDIS screaming, “Geronimo,” we were left to wondering if this young hotshot could continue the role whose bar had been raised considerably. I am here to announce that one full length episode later, I think we have a winner folks.

While I am sure there are still many people out there, myself included, who will always miss David Tennant and remember him as “our Doctor,” Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor is everything his predecessor was with a bit of a twist. After crashing into the backyard of young Amy Pond, he bursts forth running around with manic energy (granted this could still be attributed to his still regenerating state). It’s the same guy with a new face and a somewhat more…sure of himself personality. I like Matt Smith and think he will carry on The Doctor’s legacy well. It was also a nice proper introduction at the end when we see his previous ten incarnations flash on screen before he steps forward in his new threads. Most Badass Entrance Ever!!!

Of course we must touch on Amy Pond. Ever since I first saw the first images of her in Doctor Who Magazine I’ve fallen head over heels for her character. And now having seen her in action I have more reason to like her. Amy, played by Karen Gillan, is a breath of fresh air for The Doctor. She’s a feisty Scottish red head who’s got a lot of spirit and has a great take charge attitude. Her questioning The Doctor at every turn will definitely be a nice spin on the usual Doctor/Companion relationship. Like everyone else she’s a bit unsure of traveling with The Doctor but after a couple of episodes I think we are going to see a nice bond form between the two. I did think it was a nice story twist to start their friendship off when she was a child, a nice nod to Steven Moffat’s Series 2 story “The Girl in the Fireplace”.

Speaking of Steven Moffat, I should touch on his first story as head writer for the show. Mr. Moffat gives Matt Smith’s first story a proper injection of energy with all the running around. I did think that some of the spots where we simply stopped for introductions to the other characters kind of killed the pacing a bit. But once it picked back up with the running again it worked fine. The introduction of (Amy relative?) Jeff and Amy’s Boyfriend Rory establish that we will visit present day Earth again every now and then as with previous companions. Rory I felt was kind of a Mickey knock off, but it’s still to early to tell with him. Oh and Prisoner Zero…a python that can take the form of others. Not as formidable or memorable a villain as some of Moffat’s other creatures but still you’ve got to love its interactions with the new Doctor.

So now we have a new Doctor, a new TARDIS, a new Sonic Screwdriver, a new companion (whose going to get married?) and a new set of adventures to look forward too. I have been hesitant to say this for months. But now that I’ve seen the first episode of SERIES 5, I can’t wait for the fun to continue. The Doctor is back and so is the adventure we all love. Let the new era begin.

Next Time-It’s Amy’s first trip in the TARDIS with The Doctor. What happens next is anyone’s guess.