Friday, May 27, 2011

Doctor Who S06E05-The Rebel Flesh

The TARDIS gets caught in a solar tsunami which sends the ship crashing to an island on 22nd century Earth. The Doctor, Amy and Rory discover a ruined monastery on the island manned by a small crew of humans who possess a special kind of “flesh” that allows them to create worker clones called Gangers. When the solar tsunami hits and knocks everyone unconscious, things get a little weird. When the group reawakens, hours have passed. The Gangers are loose and now self aware. As the line between what it means to be human blurs, animosities build to a boiling point and war seems inevitable.

What started out as an ok episode of Doctor Who, with Muse’s Supermassive Black Hole playing in the TARDIS which was awesome, got itself together to become a very intriguing episode and a strong follow up to last weeks TARDIS personified episode.

The Gangers are an interesting creation in the Doctor Who universe. While watching them piece together what they believed to be their lives and their memories, I couldn’t help but think that their little quest was very similar to that of the Replicants in Blade Runner (how many times did I bring up “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” in my head during this one hour alone, I will never know). That being said, it wasn’t a bad story. In fact, I like stories with creatures learning what it is to be human even when they are not so. Watching the Gangers eventually interact with their…controllers? Pilots? Let’s just call them Originals, was nicely staged and it was cool to see them start to warm up to each other. And then Cleaves came along and started a war, honestly I can’t wait to see her get hers next week. Cleaves character is such a nuisance that it is hard to feel any sympathy for her. Heck even her Ganger was a better make than the Original, which was pretty funny I thought.

But of all the Gangers and characters in general in this episode, poor Jennifer is the one who stands out most. She is the first one who we get a lot of insight to and watching her become scared and sad as the truth is doled out to her by Rory was very touching and sad. And yes, another Blade Runner reference, it is very reminiscent of when Deckard tells Rachel that her memories are not her own, but implants from a little girl. Getting back to Doctor Who, Jen’s sad story arc gave Rory another week to shine in the spotlight. Seeing as how Amy pretty much relies on The Doctor all the time, Rory decided to stick his neck out for Jen (though she stuck hers out a lot farther when she tried to bite his head off, pretty cool.) It was a nice change to see Amy and Rory on different sides of the struggle and see Rory play the protector. Amy was clearly jealous, but it should be noted that even though Jen clearly fancies Rory, he is still Amy’s man, “Amy is a lucky woman”, Jen says to him, to which Rory can only reply dumbfounded, “yea…”

When the civil war, I guess you could call it that (The Gangers are fighting themselves after all), broke out, the climax was set for something big. And it only got bigger when we found out that the Flesh had created a Ganger of The Doctor after he touched it. A Ganger with the memories of a 900 plus year old Time Lord; now that is a truly stunning cliffhanger right there and I can’t wait to see how they resolve it. Oh and creepy eye patch lady showed up again, what the hell or who the hell is she? Only two weeks to go till the big game changing mid season break, maybe we will find out then.

Next Week-Gangers vs. Originals and Doctor vs. Doctor (and I’m sure more Blade Runner comparisons to come.)


Doctor Who S06E04-The Doctor’s Wife

After receiving signs of a Time Lord distress signal, The Doctor, Amy and Rory travel to a mysterious asteroid at the edge of the universe. Upon their arrival, the TARDIS shuts down and the trio is stranded on the asteroid controlled by a living entity called The House. When the House takes over the TARDIS and steals it along with Amy and Rory, The Doctor must find a way to catch up to them. His only hope lies in a mysterious woman who knows him better than anyone…a woman with a failing body who just so happens to possess the spirit of his own ship.

I had been looking forward to this episode for a while, ever since I had first heard that Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline) was going to be penning it. My expectations became a little grander after last weeks less than stellar Pirate themed episode. Good news to report: The Doctor’s Wife put the show back on track and may very well be one of the best Doctor Who’s ever conceived.

The big draw of the episode was the title itself: who is (or was) The Doctor’s Wife? The answer is kind of obvious and not much of a let down. It’s almost like saying Captain Kirk’s only real love of his life is his ship. The same is true for The Doctor and the TARDIS. The years may pass and the companions may change but this show has always been about the two of them roaming around the galaxy getting into trouble. And now, for the first time, The Doctor gets to actually talk with his ship. I’ll be honest, watching Idris (the woman who took in the TARDIS’s spirit) get herself together was kind of annoying, but once she and The Doctor got to talking together, the episode really took off. Suranne Jones, who played Idris, worked perfectly with Matt Smith and a lot of their dialogue was some of the best I have ever heard in Doctor Who, the scene where Idris says he calls her “sexy”, “but only when we’re alone” The Doctor replies was hilariously good. Sure this was a bit unusual for these two characters to interact, but soon if felt as if this was always going on and never felt new, just different if that makes sense, like things had always been this crazy and, well, normal between The Doctor and the TARDIS. It is sad, very sad that the two had to part so soon after virtually meeting for the first time. Idris’s line at the end where she realized the perfect yet saddest thing she wanted to say to The Doctor was a tear jerker. That such a simple word as “Hello” could create that deep of an emotional response is the true sign of a well written episode. But as sad as it was to see the two characters part ways, sort of, what I stated earlier remains the same. The Doctor and the TARDIS will always have each other and they can communicate in their own little wacky, almost wordless way, a bit of a bright happy ending.

Amy and Rory also got to do some running around and bonding while trapped in the TARDIS. Gaiman’s knack for haunted locales was put to good use here as the darkened repetitive hallways of the TARDIS instilled a true sense of fear both in Amy and Rory as well as this viewer here. As icing on the cake, an Ood made a return appearance, using its possessed form with green eyes to chase down the two lovers. It was scary to see the House (one scary and threatening fraker) use images of aging, dying and then dead Rory to shake Amy up so badly (but come on is Rory really going to die every episode, seriously). But one thing I was really happy about this episode was Rory taking up the stronger lead this time around. With Amy bogged down and scared by illusions, it was up to Rory to keep her safe and even though he wasn’t the intended target of Idris’s mind messages, Rory was still the one getting the knowledge to save the day, not Amy. It is good to see Rory finally getting the credit he deserves. And wow, wow, wow, the return of the TARDIS bridge from the Christopher Eccleston/David Tennant years. I miss that set so much and it helped save the day. Good times.

The Doctor’s Wife was a fantastically written and well acted episode and a worthy addition to the universe of Doctor Who. Great interactions, great suspense, engaging and fascinating new characters, and a showdown to end all showdowns: “Fear me, I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords”, the House taunts. “Fear me…I’ve killed ALL of them.” The Doctor replies followed by House death by TARDIS, hell yes. It was all about the character relationships this time around and one that got fleshed out more than anyone could have hoped. It makes me kind of wish the TARDIS always had a voice. But then again, it does have a voice and it has and always will only respond to one person…THE DOCTOR AND THE TARDIS FOREVER!!!!

Next Week-Do Flesh produced Clones dream for Flesh produced sheep? (Blade Runner references will be heavy in the next review, trust me.)


Monday, May 9, 2011

Doctor Who S06E03-The Curse of the Black Spot

The Doctor, Amy and Rory land on board a 17th Century Pirate Ship in distress. The small crew is being hunted down one by one: first injured and given a mysterious black spot, then claimed by a beautiful glowing Siren. As the crews numbers dwindle and Rory himself becomes a potential victim, The Doctor and Captain Henry Avery will have to put aside their equal desires to be in charge before the Siren kills them all.

Pirates + Doctor Who + Green glowing beautiful women + Amy with a cutlass=a pretty exciting episode…until you actually watch it. It kind of sucks I write that and realize my true disappointment with The Curse of the Black Spot. It could be because it just wasn’t as strong an episode to follow the season opening 2-parter. Maybe it could be that I was kind of lost on a few things regarding The Siren’s true purpose or how everything turned out alright in the end. Whatever it was, this episode had so much potential in it and it just never reached it.

Firstly, let’s get the positive stuff out of the way cause this episode did in fact have some. The Siren looked fantastic, a supposed menace masked by a beautiful face and an equally beautiful singing voice to match. It was kind of funny watching a marked Rory and the other marked Pirates attempt to reach her because of the trance they were under. In all honesty, she was pretty enough, extra push wasn’t required, but the story demanded it so I’ll let that go. Also fairing well were the first few interactions between The Doctor and Captain Avery. The two bickered over who was in charge before The Doctor relented, but it was once they got to the TARDIS that they found their best scenes and dialogue together. Avery finding similarities between devices on a Pirate Ship and the TARDIS was great and watching The Doctor realize he was right was equally priceless. A ship is a ship, good stuff. And, while it was brief, Amy got to dawn a Pirate jacket and brandish a cutlass to rescue The Doctor and Rory. Oh Amy Pond, so effortlessly hot you even make a Pirate outfit look sexy.

However, those three bits were all that really stood out as positive from the rest of the episode. The relationship between Avery and his son wasn’t as strong as the writers had hoped and, come on, we no longer need to be beaten over the head with how much Rory and Amy love each other. These little tests of their relationship are starting to get old and annoying. I love Amy and Rory, I really do, but they need to do a little more story wise other than this. The big reveal over what The Siren actually was and the overall resolution to the story was a bit lacking as well, I don’t know it just wasn’t as amazing as it could have been. Plus, The Siren, for all I like about her look and voice, didn’t have much of a voice even after her true nature was revealed. I would have liked some more vocal interactions between her and the other characters.

The Curse of the Black Spot suffers from some story drawbacks for sure, but, again, it does suffer from being the follow up to the slam bang story concluded last week. Every episode of Doctor Who cannot be perfect; I know I’ve seen some pretty boring ones. It just seems that the wind left the sails of this episode long before The Doctor, Amy and Rory popped up from the ships underbelly. It had its moments, but this wasn’t a truly memorable one I am sad to say.

Next Week-An episode penned by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline)…I’m already excited and I don’t even know what it’s about.


Doctor Who S06E02-Day of the Moon

Three months after the events of “The Impossible Astronaut”, Amy, Rory and River are all hunted down in turn by Agent Canton Delaware and the FBI and killed at the end of their encounters. Meanwhile, a bearded Doctor awaits his fate in a cell surrounded by guilt for what he has brought upon his friends. This, however, is all a ruse. If The Doctor and his companions are to fight back against the merciless Silence, they need the ultimate game plan; one that involves meddling with Apollo 11’s moon landing and a little death faking. But how can this time traveling crew deal with an enemy that makes you forget it exists just seconds after you look away from it.

Day of the Moon did a lot of things right this week, the least of which is amp up the WTF factor that had me reeling from last weeks astounding episode. I know that a lot plot elements introduced in this two part arc will be resolved further down the season, but I was still curious how they were going to resolve things with The Silence and still keep us interested for the rest of the season to come.

The opening teaser featuring The Doctor’s elaborate plan to have Canton “eliminate” his companions to throw The Silence off their big plan was clever and even a bit alarming. I mean I knew that no one was in real danger at this early point in the episode but it was still unnerving to see Amy, Rory and River seemingly reaching the end of the line, gave me a lot of Goosebumps. And am I a fool to say that The Doctor looked a little cool with a full grown beard? Kind of stylish, goes up there with the Fez and the Cowboy Hat.

The one negative gripe I have with this episode comes right after this, however. Canton and Amy’s mission to explore the haunted orphanage was a little boring to be honest. Even when Amy got the shock of discovering that the girl in the astronaut suit may very well be her unborn daughter and was captured by The Silence; these moments took a long time to get to and I was starting to tire of the dark hallway and the lack of Canton, my favorite new character du jour.

But once we got past this and Canton took out that one Silence in a manor befitting a true badass, the episode got back to running again. Which led us to the slam bang finale of an episode. The Doctor’s solution to not noticing The Silence was brilliant, using their own powers against them and getting the human race to spot them using the moon landing was a great ploy. And wow, wow, wow, River Song ladies and gentlemen. As Rory and The Doctor hurry Amy to safety, Doctor Song single handedly takes down a room full of tux wearing UFO’s in such beautiful yet deadly fashion. Lara Croft should be very jealous of this fiery vixen who may or may not win The Doctor’s heart. Cudos to Alex Kingston for such an amazing display of talent.

Which brings us to the close. Yes it sucks that Canton and River will not be traveling on the TARDIS and yes we kind of already knew that Amy will always love Rory, but that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Not when some little girl creepily says she is dying but it is ok then bursts out Time Lord Regeneration energy. Like I said, WTF!!!???

Series Six is off to a great start at the close of this amazing two part episode. And there are certainly plenty of water cooler moments to keep fans gossiping for the next month and a half before anything here is truly resolved (possibly). And so the TARDIS flies off to new stand alone adventures. And I’m glad to be back onboard for the ride.

Next Week-Pirates of the high seas face a beautiful Siren…and Amy with a cutlass