Monday, June 28, 2010

Doctor Who S05E13-The Big Bang

With The Doctor trapped in the Pandorica and everyone else not doing do well, there is very little keeping the universe together. The only way to prevent the erasure of Earth, the last world left in existence is to pull off the ultimate gamble: a gamble involving an age old android, a past and present Amy Pond, and a fez sporting genius. But even with all of this in place, who will be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to restore the entire universe? Is this the end of the road for The Doctor?

Hard to believe it’s been thirteen weeks already. But now we’ve come to the end of Series Five and Steven Moffat has been left with no choice but to pull out all the stops to make this the best finale ever. Does he succeed? Oh yes, even with a few things unanswered.

Not going to lie, you are going to have to be one sharp viewer and practitioner of Doctor Who speak, (did I really just say that?) to keep up with the massive amounts of back and forth time jumps and planning scenarios. Scratch that. If you’ve seen enough Doctor Who, or even watched a few episodes of Leverage, then you should be fine keeping up with all of the action.

“The Big Bang” threw a lot at us and left me wondering how everyone was going to factor into the story. This episode was mostly a character driven story, rather than the intergalactic showdowns that were the staple of Russell T. Davies finales. Sure, we get one Dalek causing havoc for our heroes. But in the end, this episode is about the ties that bind The Doctor, Amy, Rory and River together.

The story of Rory and the Pandorica was very sweet and very romantic. Despite The Doctor’s concerns that Rory would go insane from eons of silence, the plastic replica of Rory stuck with his girl til her reawakening. Anyone who has ever questioned the relationship between Amy and Rory, even gone so far as to call it Rose and Mickey 2.0, should slap themselves silly as this episode practically defined love conquers all in regards to this lovely couple.

Oh Matt Smith. You’ve come so far since your one minute cameo at the end of “The End of Time Part 2”. This episode was Mr. Smith’s tour de force and his best performance as The Doctor yet. Of course you can thank Steven Moffat for giving him such good words to say, but it’s Matt Smith and his ability to warp back and forth between fez wearing mad genius (I like Fez’s, Fez’s are cool-my best friend’s favorite line, mine too), to dying yet still clever hero, to the old man who tearfully reminisces about his life thus far during his Eleventh incarnation. Matt Smith has time and time again proved why he is such a fantastic actor to bear the title of The Doctor. But this episode was his…well I could go on but I think I would end up repeating myself constantly, so I think you get the point. The guy is awesome, nuff said. I also like how they stuck with The Doctor observing events from his Eleventh incarnation rather than going back further and further. “I hate reruns,” he says refusing to go back further than his first meeting with Amy. I like that though. It’s Moffat’s way of saying “not yet”, that they shouldn’t fall back on the old stories just yet since they’ve still got a little ways to go in establishing their own Doctor Who world.

The grand finale reminded me a lot of The Never Ending Story, the scene where Bastian and the Empress begin to reset the world based on Batsian’s imagination. Likewise, Amy’s memory is key in restoring The Doctor, Rory and River to existence. You can’t help but feel happy for Amy as she gets her husband, her parents, and her best friend back, a nice payoff and happy ending for the once loneliest girl in existence. Oh and I must say, Amy looked so lovely in her wedding dress.

But after the wedding, we got a couple of reminders of unanswered questions. River Song, who was at her most sexiest and most bad ass in this episode, hinted the time was coming when everything would change between her and The Doctor, presumably when they finally hook up. Then there’s the matter of “the silence” which I totally forgot about after it popped up in “Vampires in Venice”. Nevertheless, the finale left us with no clear answers to these hints, which is no doubt going to make the wait for Series Six all the more unbearable. And now The Doctor has a married couple with him on the TARDIS, heading off to new adventures with a smile on their face. Ladies and Gentlemen, a round of applause for Doctor Who Series Five, written by Steven Moffat and starring Matt Smith as The Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond. It’s been a somewhat uneven but wild ride this season and most definitely ended with a big bang. But there’s no doubt now, I cannot wait for Series Six, I…want…MORE!!!

Next Time-Doctor Who returns Christmas 2010


Doctor Who S05E12-The Pandorica Opens

The Doctor and Amy land in the year 102. A.D. where they encounter a Roman legion and River Song, who delivers a message to The Doctor, one that has taking thousands of years to reach him. The haunting image of an exploding TARDIS leads the trio to Stone Hedge, where they find the mysterious Pandorica. Whatever is housed inside is attracting every single enemy The Doctor has ever faced. But even with this vast army of villainy surrounding him, The Doctor doesn’t realize until it’s too late that the greatest threat to him may not be an enemy at all.

It has been a while since Doctor Who has had several consecutive good episodes in a row leading up to its finale. Both “Vincent and The Doctor” and “The Lodger” reminded us why Series Five has been such an astounding success up until this point. And now we get the one episode we hoped would never come, the beginning of the end. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it just feels like last week that we saw the TARDIS crash into little Amy Pond’s back yard. Eh, enough of that, onto the review.

What a fantastic opening. It was great to see all of these fantastic characters from throughout the season realize the importance of Van Gogh’s painting and work to somehow get it to The Doctor. Even if they were only in it for a couple of minutes, it was good to see Churchill, Bracewell, Van Gogh and Liz 10 once again. I don’t think the show has done something like this yet and I hope they do it again in future series. Oh and we get a reference to a “handsome Time Agent” whose vortex manipulator is passed on to River Song. Sigh, I hope we get to see a Captain Jack Harkness/Eleventh Doctor team up one day.

The mystery of the Pandorica kept me guessing right up until the end. When the entire rouges gallery of Doctor Who showed up, I was beginning to guess that the person trapped inside was the only guy missing from the party…but then again I think it would have been too much to have John Simm return as The Master this soon. And sadly, outside of Daleks and Cybermen (great to see them again btw), my knowledge of the old villains is very limited, so I couldn’t fathom a guess as to who would be inside the Pandorica. But I’ll cover that in a moment.

RORY’S BACK!!!! I always had a feeling that he would return in some shape or form during the season finale and even though he did end up being an Auton and ended up shooting Amy at the end, it was great to see him back in the story again. I would have never thought I would care about Rory when he was originally introduced as a sort of Mickey 2.0, but his character has literally gone through so much this season and has earned the respect of The Doctor and his fiancĂ©e that he has truly shinned as a great companion. Arthur Darvill did a great job dealing with all of Rory’s conflicts and sadness. Watching him break down when he realized Amy couldn’t remember him was heartbreaking and you really felt bad for the guy.

The end of the episode had me so freaking baffled. The Pandorica was meant for The Doctor? The Rouge’s Galley (or the Alliance, I guess) deciding to save the universe? Amy’s mind being used to create the trap? My head was spinning. And then there’s The Doctor, powerless to do anything as he is sealed away. Matt Smith worked his magic once again, forcing The Doctor to realize that there was no way in hell his enemies would ever listen to his pleas, no matter how true they were in regards to the universe’s impending collapse. Then…Rory was found out to be an Auton, Amy gets shot, River is trapped on an exploding TARDIS and the universe gets erased. Now THAT is how you do a cliffhanger. What a fiend/genius Steven Moffat would have been if he had just left it at that for the seven month hiatus? So many questions to be answered, the most prominent being HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GONNA GET OUT OF THIS ONE???? Here’s hoping Moffat delivers on one heck of a finale, cause I don’t think the bar has ever been raised this high to deliver one.

Next Time-No preview for next week…so who knows.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Doctor Who S05E11-The Lodger

In a tiny two story flat in Colchester, strange things are going on in the upstairs flat: flashing lights, loud crashes and the occasional small scream as well as the black mildew building up in downstairs flat of Craig Owens. Poor Craig has other problems to worry about, such as telling the girl of his dreams how much he loves her and finding a new roommate. While one of those problems needs careful planning, the other finds a solution when a mysterious and odd man called The Doctor turns up at Craig’s doorstep with the offer to room with him.

After last weeks surprisingly good Van Gogh episode, I was a little worried that “The Lodger” would be a big letdown. Thankfully, this clever little piece of unusual Doctor Who, penned by Gareth Roberts, was a very fun episode to watch. This is thanks in no small part to the companions du jour (sort of) with The Doctor this week. Craig Owens is a very likable human character with very human problems and even though The Doctor tries to help out he ends up outshining poor Craig every time. In a just as bad state is Craig’s friend Sophie, who clearly wants to hear Craig profess his love for her but is too shy to admit it herself. Both characters make for great one off characters in the Doctor Who universe and I kind of hope we see them again in the future. BTW, was it just me or did Sophie look a lot like Yvonne Hartman, the former commander and chief of Torchwood One we saw back in Series Two?

If there was one theme to best subtitle this episode with it’s “being human”. This week we saw a lot of normal human problems and woes with Craig and Sophie but we also saw The Doctor tasked with the duty of blending in as a normal human. Surprisingly enough, even though he may not realize it, from making a killer omelet to “bending it like beckham” to succeeding as a customer service caller, The Doctor shines in every human activity he attempts. Granted there is still that awkward yet lovably fun Matt Smith touch added to each scene which proves even more why Mr. Smith is continuing to be one of the best Doctor’s out there.

The mystery of upstairs was actually a little less interesting and I found myself wanting to see more of The Doctor’s interactions with Craig and Sophie, the normal humans. I almost thought that Craig and Sophie would have ended up traveling in the time machine upstairs. However, the fact that they did hook up and decide to do more of their lives on Earth was a nice ending for them. Like The Doctor once said, “That’s the one adventure I could never have.” It was an even better moment when Craig let The Doctor keep his keys to the flat, good times.

All in all, it sucks to realize that this is the last episode before the big two part finale. Despite some rocky episodes in the middle, Series Five has surpassed all expectations and then some. And while this episode may have had a rather disappointing underdeveloped “monster of the week story”, we still got a great story out of great one off characters. Forwards and onwards to the finale.

(On a quick note. The review for “The Pandorica Opens” will be one week late since I will be on vacation in a place with poor internet. So I’ll probably end up reviewing the final two episodes of the series, “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang” at the same time in two weeks.)

Next Week-The return of River Song and the appearance of The Pandorica. The final arc has begin.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Doctor Who S05E10-Vincent and The Doctor

Upon spotting a strange image within a famous painting, The Doctor and Amy travel to Arles, France 1889 to meet with the man who created the painting, Vincent Van Gogh. Vincent is a man hated by the public, whose paintings go unnoticed and his eccentric attitude scoffed at. However, he is also the only man who can see a dangerous creature invisible to others that is on the loose. It’s up to The Doctor and Amy, the only people who believe him, to give Vincent a reason to fight and prevent more tragedy, in both the lives of the villagers as well as himself.

“Vincent and The Doctor” was a very rare and totally amazing episode, probably my most favorite of the series thus far. It’s nice to see that things have not exactly gotten back to business as usual in the aftermath of last weeks events. The Doctor is clearly feeling guilty for the death of Rory and subsequent erasure from Amy’s memory and is trying to cope with it without letting Amy in on why he is being so nice. It was odd, almost frightening, to see Amy so chipper. Makes the absence of Rory all the more painful and I can’t wait to see how that little plot element is tied up in the next couple of weeks. But we should focus more on the meat of this week first, shouldn’t we?

At last, The Doctor has met a man who is willing to believe things only he himself could possibly believe in. Tony Curran plays Van Gogh brilliantly, switching back and forth between visionary and troubled soul at the drop of a pin. His interactions with The Doctor and Amy were fun to watch, waxing philosophies and wackiness with one and flirting with the other. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan gelled very will with him. Curran also has most of the episodes best lines and just listening to him belt out Van Gogh’s thoughts and visions of the world around him were simply inspiring. It’s only now that I think of Rutger Hauer’s infamous line from “Blade Runner”. “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe” is an excellent subtitled description for Vincent Van Gogh.

But luckily, Van Gogh wasn’t 100% visionary but more like 90%. The other 10% was the man of action. Seeing him spar with the “invisible” enemy was well done. Actually, every character’s interaction with the Krafayis was well choreographed. The Krafayis was nicely designed, the parrot and polar bear images The Doctor first gets a scan of fit the creature perfectly. I liked the end revelation/parallel of Van Gogh and the Krafayis. The fact that the creature was blind yet could be seen by a man who could see everything was both touching and sad especially when the creature was killed in the end.

After the death of the Krafayis, I was curious as to how they were going to spend the last ten minutes of the episode. The last ten minutes of this weeks adventure were the most spectacular moments of the series since it’s resurrection in 2005. The Doctor and Amy taking Vincent Van Gogh to France 2010 to see his works was a real tear jerker, not just for Vincent but for myself as well. Not only did Vincent get to see that everyone didn’t hate his work was made even more emotional when The Doctor got the museum curator, played by big time British actor Bill Nighy (who, if your up on your scifi cinema, also stared with Tony Curran in Underworld: Evolution (good movie)). It’s moments like this Doctor Who has rarely done and probably won’t for some time since it worked this well. The series has had so many dark moments in the last few weeks that it needed a scene like this. And yes, Amy was sad when she returned to the present, expecting to see several new paintings by a clearly inspired Van Gogh, only to learn that he still committed suicide. But The Doctor’s speech to her about the good times and the bad times was very heartwarming. The final image of the painting made for Amy by Van Gogh was icing on the cake and a sign of a well done episode.

I know I’ve bragged about how good certain Doctor Who episodes are, either because of their production design, visual effects, or their acting (Series 3’s “The Shakespeare Code” comes to mind). But “Vincent and The Doctor”, earns a spot in my list of Top Ten Doctor Who episodes EVER!!! With big named guest stars, a spectacular creature and all the usual Doctor zaniness and zen, this was a bright and vibrant episode the series needed to have. This is an episode that needs immediate re watching and praise. You’ll come away from your TV or computer with a smile on your face and a possible tear in your eye. If you ever have a really bad day (kind of like I have the last couple of days) find this episode and you’ll have a reason to look on the bright side.

Next Week-Issues with the room upstairs…and guess who’s just waiting to become the new flat mate?


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Doctor Who S05E09-Cold Blood

The Doctor heads down to the center of the Earth to meet with this new tribe of hibernating Silurians and negotiate the return of Amy and the other human hostages. Hostility is high on both sides. The female guardians of the city are thirsty for a war and Rory’s small band of humans is desperate for the return of their loved ones. It all comes down to one epic battle that will decide the future of both species for years to come. And while it looks like smooth sailing for humans and Silurians alike, The Doctor’s future yields some unexpected new developments.

After last weeks fairly slow plodded episode, “Cold Blood” continues to run with the same pace but amps things up towards the end for a fairly spectacular ending. Now I know I gave good reasons for each of the members in Rory’s group to kill Alaya. But come on, was there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Ambrose was going to be the one who killed her? Plus, to top it all off, she convinces her father to enact a failsafe should things go wrong AND she continues to threaten hostilities. If there was any character to not feel sorry for in this whole 2-part affair, the award goes to Ambrose. Even her son resented her action. That’s when you know you’ve really dug your own grave there.

We got to see plenty of Silurians this week, or rather only two or three of them and multiples of one (Restac and Alaya came from the same genetic code). Malohkeh the scientist was my favorite and was a proper foil to the more militaristic Restac. Eldane the politician was another favorite of mine. But his scenes with Amy and Nasreen negotiating Silurian settlement of the surface were kind of boring, hell even Amy looked bored as the proceedings went on. Luckily though they got all of that stuff done before the halfway mark so we could get to the meat of the episode, which was the result of Restac’s coup d’etat and Ambrose’s murder of Alaya.

The last twenty minutes of the episode were very exciting, filled with lots of running and quick solutions to the laser carrying lizards and the gigantic drill. Tony’s decision to stay behind was nice and I liked how he forgave Ambrose for her actions before he went into stasis. Nasreen also got a great send off, deciding to stay with her man and the discovery she made. She and The Doctor made a good team and it kind of sucks we won’t see her after this since she’s going into that uber long thousand year hibernation with Tony.

I had a feeling that Rory was probably going to die sometime soon. However, I didn’t expect his death to be so sad and well done. Sacrificing himself to save The Doctor from Restac’s final laser blast showed his devotion to both the man and Amy. But then he got touched by energy from another one of those pesky cracks, erasing him from Amy’s mind. Karen Gillan played the scene beautifully, showing her helplessness and general sadness over the loss of her fiancĂ© and the fact that The Doctor could do nothing to do about it. The fact that Rory is now erased from Amy’s mind makes Rory’s death even harder to bare. Although I can imagine that he might return in some form or another in the season finale, which is only four weeks away (wow how time flies).

Oh and then there’s that shattered piece of the TARDIS The Doctor pulled from the crack. So that explosion either originates from the TARDIS or the TARDIS get caught in the blast. Either way, it was a heart stopping moment seeing that fried chunk of TARDIS in The Doctor’s hand. The next few weeks can’t come soon enough.

Next Week-Teaming up with Vincent Van Gogh to fight off a deadly foe.