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Doctor Who Hell Bent Series 9 Episode 12 Review

E11-Hell Bent


The Doctor, brandishing his guitar enters a diner in Nevada, which seems to indicate that this scene takes place after tonight’s adventure.  The waitress behind the counter is Clara?  Well it’s at least Jenna Coleman.  The Doctor sits down, saying he has no money but taps his guitar and says that he can play in exchange for food and he begins to play Clara’s theme.  The waitress asks the name of the song, and if it’s sad.  He tells her it’s called “Clara”, and he says that nothing is sad until it’s over.  The waitress asks him to tell her about Clara…


At the end of the last episode (Heaven Sent) the Doctor escaped his confession dial after being trapped in it for several billion years and emerged on Gallifrey.  His home planet, saved from the Time War, has apparently not been put in another dimension but shoved to the end of time where the rest of the universe won’t be able to catch up to it.  As clumsy as that sounds, I kind of like the concept, even though many fans could probably pick a billion holes in that idea in the blink of an eye.  On Gallifrey the cloister bells are ringing all across the capital as the Doctor has returned.  In quiet contemplation the Doctor goes to the barn that we saw in the Day of the Doctor anniversary special (as well as Listen last season) where a woman enters and starts to angrily tell him to get out until she recognizes him.  Could it be his mother?  Or someone who raised him?  A nanny type figure perhaps?  After the Doctor changes his coat from that dashing red velvet jacket to a black coat more reminiscent of the first Doctor’s wardrobe, the woman brings him some soup, and he’s about to eat, when a group of outsiders (Shobogans perhaps?) surrounded his table, in a very “last supper”-ish feel as a battleship flies up to the table with its weapon targeting the Doctor.  The pilot is delivering a message that the President wants the Doctor to go to the capital.  Drawing a line in the sand with his boot heel, the Doctor returns to his soup.  More soldiers are sent to retrieve the Doctor, the General from Day of the Doctor is sent to retrieve the Doctor, but he will not go.  In the capital the leader of the Sisterhood of Karn tells the President that the Doctor doesn’t blame Gallifrey for the Time War, he just blames the president.  The President finally goes to the Doctor, with the General and with his soldiers and orders them to shoot him.  All the soldiers miss.  Insubordination, because the Doctor is an honoured war hero.  The Doctor proceeds to tell Rassilon to “get off my planet”, and we see the ex-Lord President banished into space, though he really has nowhere to go.


Now we (kind of) learn the whole reason the Time Lords put the Doctor in the confession dial, they’re afraid of the Hybrid and need to know what the Doctor knows about it.  The Doctor tells them what he knows, but uses an extraction chamber to pull Clara Oswald out of time at the instant of her death on Earth billions of years ago, because he says she knows what the Hybrid is.  Now the race is on as the Doctor hides from the Time Lords in an attempt to break through to the Matrix sub levels and find an old TARDIS (since his own is still on Earth) and rescue Clara.  His plan succeeds and somewhat makes sense, he will take them to the end of time to escape and restart Clara’s time stream, saving her life.  Only thing is that her heart does not restart, and she is not really “alive” again.  At the end of time he finds “Me” or Ashildr with whom he argues about who the Hybrid is.  She teases the Doctor that he himself is the Hybrid, he accuses her of being the Hybrid, but Ashildr tells him that the Hybrid is not one person, but two people, the Doctor and Clara being together and being so similar.  The Doctor fought through billions of years of torture to get her back, so it’s not really a stretch to think he would destroy everything, to abandon every code he ever lived by, to leave Gallifrey in ashes to save her.


Left with only one alternative to keep her safe, the Doctor is set to wipe Clara’s memory of him, but instead, ends up wiping his own memory of her.  To him now, she’s only visible by the holes she’s left in his life (and memory).  He kind of does the reverse to what he did to Donna in series 4, which is probably for the best.  If he had to deal with Clara’s death a second time it would be difficult to forge a relationship between him and whoever the incoming companion is, not only for the character but for the audience too.  A lot of people really didn’t like Martha just because she came in after Rose.  As I’ve said before Clara became a very divisive character to the fans.  Hopefully now everyone can move on, those who love Clara can go forward imagining that she’s still “alive” and probably having adventures, those who don’t love her can imagine that she’s returned to the trap street and her destiny.

Great acting, and a great story that had me until the very end, but I think the ending left me a little disappointed because it didn’t offer much resolution to Clara, Me, the Hybrid, or Gallifrey.  It felt like lazy writing to take the easy way out and give everyone the “happy” ending where no one died, and there was really no monster to defeat.


The Good:

  • As if it needs to be said, Capaldi.  His performance was great.  Again.  And Coleman herself was quite good too, 100% emotion when she says goodbye to him.
  • I absolutely loved the classic control room in that TARDIS.  Oh, do I love it.  I would decorate a room in my house that way.
  • Screwdrivers are cool.  The screwdriver is back.  Great another sonic to add to my collection.  If you were smart BBC you’d already have these toys in production for me to buy for Christmas…

The Bad:

  • The sound editing.  Really, I had a hard time picking up the dialogue from the background music and other sounds.  That frustration made the episode less enjoyable.
  • Too bad they couldn’t get Timothy Dalton back as Rassilon, plus everything on Gallifrey seemed rather rushed.  Rassilon was banished too easily and the Doctor seemed to become Lord President in a mater of moments?

The Ugly:

  • Having the General regenerate from a bald white male into a bald(ish) black female seemed a little preachy to me.  Also, I liked the first actor (Ken Bones).  Also also, the Doctor just murdered him.  After fighting until the end of time to save someone, he cavalierly kills him, because he knows he’ll regenerate?  I didn’t really like that idea.  And he used a gun, this character, this legend who is famed for never carrying a weapon grabs the first gun he can find and shoots down the General in cold blood.
  • Steven Moffat really doesn’t seem to be able to let go of Clara, or is it Jenna?  Last Christmas she could have had what I’d consider a classy and touching send off if she woke up from the dream crabs an elderly woman.  Instead that was a dream too and she was young and ready for more adventures.  This year she had a touching and moving death that was incredibly well done, but now she’s been pulled out of time and that dignified send off has effectively been denied to the audience.  I know the show is supposed to be a family show, and possibly the fault lies with me that I’ve grown up and grown impatient that the show hasn’t aged with my own viewing tastes.  I think this “resurrection”, no matter how temporary it is supposed to be (since Clara did say that she will return to Gallifrey to accept her fate and return to her proper time stream and die) kind of lessens the impact of Face the Raven and my enjoyment and appreciation of that episode.
  • Are the only TARDISes left on Gallifrey antiques hidden beneath the Matrix? Seriously?  None of their temporal engineers could construct or grow more for some of them to return to the universe?  That thought never crossed anyone’s mind?
  • I wanted more resolution to Gallifrey.  Bring it back once and for all, have the good Time Lords running it and just move forward, or have it sealed away still and continue to have the Doctor trying to rescue it as he kind of lost track of that goal pretty quickly in this regeneration.  And again, the Gallifreyan segments of the story all seemed quite rushed.
  • For all the importance they were putting on the Doctor not being able to recognize Clara and having to forget her to keep her safe, uhm, the Doctor now knows what Clara looks like again because she was painted on the side of the TARDIS.  At least the paint disappeared when the ship dematerialized.
  • Great now there’s a diner travelling around in space, and , I feel that having Clara and Ashildr’s TARDIS look like a diner forever is just an excuse to make “restaurant at the end of the universe” jokes.
  • Does anyone else feel like Clara’s “death” is rather meaningless now, which is actually more sad than her actual death?


I rarely look forward to Christmas, it’s a humbug of a day to me, but I do usually look forward to the Doctor Who Christmas special.  I’m not too sure how this one’s going to work out….at least a week later we have Sherlock and the Abominable Bride

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Doctor Who Face The Raven Series 9 Episode 10 Review

E10-Face The Raven

I hate spoilers, but I like Twitter.  I really do.  I’ve met lots of great people from all over the world on Twitter, but I’ve also had lots of things spoiled because of time zone differences, posts, reviews, or whatever.  This morning as I was waking up, I checked in to Twitter on my phone, as I do everyday, and yup, something about tonight’s Doctor Who episode was spoiled.  It was announced — possibly by the BBC, I can’t actually remember who posted it — that tonight was Jenna Coleman’s last episode.  That sucks.  That means that Clara is leaving somehow tonight.  It has been widely speculated and foreshadowed all season long that she will die, but you never know.  It was also announced before the season began that this would be the actress’ last.  Probably everyone expected that her swan song would be in the season finale, but WOW, what an incredible shocker to end her character two episodes early!  Well, it would have been an incredible shocker if the Internet hadn’t been blabbing about it all day long. (It may have actually been announced earlier than today, but by some stroke of luck, if it was, I missed that!  Too bad my luck didn’t hold….)

I’ve stayed off the social networking sites all day now (I have no idea what sort of food my friends have eaten or what their cats have done, I did however finish raking my leaves….), but I don’t think that’s really fair.  I have no problems with fans posting reviews after the episodes have aired.  It’s fair game then.  I have problems with the spoilers coming from “official” sources like the BBC or their publications.  For my part, I know that if people are going to “live tweet” a show that I should stay away, but if something is spoiled for me, that’s my own fault. Even though the show airs five or six hours earlier in it’s native England, most of the fans (or at least the ones that I know/follow) are respectful enough and cognizant of time zones and air times.  My new Twitter/Blog friends The Whovian Complex are in California, which is an extra three hours behind even me, and they post their episode reviews sometimes a week later.  I can just imagine how frustrated they are trying to avoid spoilers, but applaud them for not inadvertently revealing any themselves.  Alright, enough preamble, what did I think of tonight’s episode, as the Doctor and Clara reunite with Rigsy (from last season’s excellent Flatline episode) and visit Diagon Alley….well, or somewhere that appears to be the Doctor Who equivalent of the Harry Potter locale.

Before this episode, I watched The Whovian Complex’s recap/review of Sleep No More…maybe I should switch to video reviews instead of all this typing…. Anywho, Nate brought up an incredibly interesting point: we don’t know when the last episode took place in the grand timeline of things.  It was found footage after all, so it could have happened in between the Doctor’s trips to Skaro (I did notice that he changed pants mid story in either Magician’s Apprentice or Witch’s Familiar) or it could have happened right after the Zygon stories.  Anyway, his hypothesis was that Clara’s already dead and the Doctor has been making waves in time by visiting her in the past to “keep” her around.  Interesting.

We’re off to a great start as the Doctor and Clara rush into the TARDIS fresh from some off screen adventure, and with my mind racing on these new theories it’s even more obvious that Clara’s acting more reckless than usual, and enjoying the danger of their adventures more than she should.  Rigsy calls Clara in the TARDIS to tell her that he’s got a tattoo….but not just any tattoo, it’s a tattoo on the back of his neck that he doesn’t remember getting (in fact he has no memory of the last day) and the tattoo is changing, in fact it’s counting down.  Time to call the Doctor.

The Doctor, Clara and “Local Knowledge” (Rigsy) discover a mysterious hidden street in London that has been masked from view.  It turns out that the street is a refuge camp for aliens, there they can hide from whatever they’re fleeing, and from the indigenous human population, unlike the Zygons and others throughout the years.  Sometimes humans do stumble upon the hidden street, and they’re given the retcon drug (remember that from Torchwood?) to erase their memories of what they saw there.  Rigsy was one of those people, but he apparently murdered an inhabitant of the street, which has earned him his “countdown to death” tattoo.  The tattoo is a quantum manifestation, and it was handed down to him by the “mayor” of the street, Ashildr (I’m not going to call the character “Me”).  The Doctor is wary of Ashildr, and has been for a while especially after he saw her in the background of a photo from one of Clara’s students, apparently stalking his companion.

Racing against time to clear Rigsy of murdering an alien to save him from his death sentence, the trio begin to investigate, but first, suspecting a trap, the Doctor makes Ashildr promise that no harm will come to Clara while they are there, and that she’s under her personal protection.  Ashildr agrees, and Clara runs recklessly off.  She learns from one of the inhabitants that Rigsy could pass on the death mark to someone else, so Clara convinces him to pass it on to her.  She figures that since she’s been guaranteed safety by Ashildr that this will just allow them to buy time to solve the mystery and save Rigsy.  Clara claims that she’s just doing what she and the Doctor always do and convinces herself that everything will just be okay, because it always is.  Unfortunately there are more traps than you would think here in this “trap street” and in clearing Rigsy of murder (because the “victim” is actually still alive and in stasis), a trap is sprung on the Doctor by an unknown adversary.  To release the seemingly dead alien from stasis the Doctor must use the TARDIS key to unlock the device which triggers another device that clamps a teleport ring onto his arm, as well as takes the TARDIS key.  Was it all a plan of Ashildr to gain access to the TARDIS?  No, someone else wants the Doctor separated from his ship and to be delivered to them on their own terms.  With the trap sprung, Clara reveals her deception to both Ashildr and the Doctor, but she’s miscalculated and now that she’s inserted herself into the equation, Ashildr can no longer revoke the death sentence, and so the Raven (the quantum shade that kills the lawbreakers of the street) now comes for Clara.

Of course Clara and the Doctor have their chance to say their goodbyes, and Clara dies bravely, but she does die.  The Doctor delivers another series of great monologues tonight which reminded me of the “fury of the Time Lord” that we were shown at the end of Human Nature/Family of Blood.  He’s angry, and rightfully so, but Clara had made him promise not to get revenge, because she knows how her death and how is vengeance and anger will affect him.  It was quite touching watching these two say goodbye to each other and the “countdown” plot device really made it work.  The Doctor teleports off.  Alone.  And we cut to the credits……but wait, there was a “next time”, it was after the credits, and we see the Doctor in a stone castle like structure, digging graves, but we never see who he’s talking to.  Now, my memory is fuzzy at best these days, but does this castle, and the Doctor’s outfit, not seem to match with those we saw in The Witch’s Familiar when Missy was telling Clara the story about why the Doctor never loses?


The Good:

  • Clara died.  It was time for her to go.  Too many of the stories focussed on her instead of the Doctor and she was just horrible and stupid.

The Bad:

  • Clara died.  She was my favourite character on the show, and the best companion to the Doctor EVER! I can’t imagine the show without her!

The Ugly:

  • Clara really did become a divisive character, and some people will agree 100% with one of the above statements.  I personally don’t agree with either, though I do agree with some parts of each them.  I did write them after all…

Was it time for her to go?  Probably.  Did she need to die?  I don’t think so.  I would have been very happy if they had just let her wake up from the dream crabs as an old woman in last year’s Christmas special.  I think that would have been the perfect sendoff to a very strong character.  I like Clara; I like Jenna Coleman, she was fresh and a great actress for the role.  The first thing I liked about Clara was that she wasn’t Amy Pond.  Amy was a character I did not like at all, so I would have welcomed anyone who came in after her, even Adric.  Did the Clara character overshadow the Doctor a lot lately?  Yes, in Series 8, I think she did, and I didn’t like those stories, but I thought she was great in the second half of Series 7.  Right up until the finale of that season (Name of the Doctor) where the insertion of herself into the Doctor’s timeline didn’t make any sense at all, and seemed to mark the beginning of the “overpowered” Clara that a lot of fans didn’t like.  Did she die bravely?  Yes.  Did she need to?  No.  She didn’t die in a moment of self-sacrifice to save the Doctor or humanity or to stop the villain like Adric (Earthshock) or even Astrid (Voyage of the Damned), she died….I’m not really sure why she died.  I can think of several ways it could have been avoided right now.  Ashildr, the immortal, could have taken the quantum curse herself and not been killed.  The Doctor probably could have taken it too, but that would mean regeneration.  She could have entered the stasis device (that was right in front of them) and avoided the Raven of death too.  Also, how did Ashildr (or whoever is pulling her strings) get a copy of the TARDIS lock to put on her stasis machine to trap the Doctor?  Certainly trying to unlock it with the sonic specs would have been a better first move?  But what is done is done and we can’t change it, we can only wait to see what happens next week.

Other quick things from tonight: I loved the aliens in the street, seeing Judoon, Cybermen, Ood, Sontarans and others again was great.  But, who among them were the Doctor’s “deadliest enemies” that he should watch out for?  I’m glad the Doctor’s dressing up for the part again.  I don’t like the hoodie and t-shirt look, maybe because I never wear them myself; I’m a shirt and tie guy….every day.  I liked the tribute Rigsy painted on the (now abandoned) TARDIS after the credits, nice to recall that he was originally a graffiti artist.  Jenna Coleman was great in what looks to be her swansong as Clara Oswald, and gave probably her finest performance just before she died.  Peter was great again, and you could see the pain on his face during those scenes.  At a recent Doctor Who festival Capaldi had this to say about his co-star:

We wanted to say thank you for being the most wonderful companion. For giving us the gift of your talent, your time, your friendship and for being Clara.  But more important than anything else, for being Jenna.”

It will be interesting to see who replaces her as the Doctor’s travelling companion.  I’m surprised that people keep thinking that Maisie Williams’ Ashildr could be the next companion.  I think after tonight’s actions that’s completely ruled out, plus, sorry, but I personally didn’t find her performances that good.  Ah well, we have two weeks and a Christmas special to go, before we find out anything more for Series 10.  Until next week….

Doctor Who Under the Lake Series 9 Episode 3 Review

E03-UnderTheLake


The Doctor and Clara have returned to their normal life of adventures.  The TARDIS lands on Earth inside an underwater base in the year 2119 where several months earlier, the small crew had discovered a spaceship in the water and brought it on board to examine.  During the examination something caused the ship’s engine to fire which killed the base’s commanding officer Moran (Colin McFarlane), turning him into…..a ghost.  When the TARDIS lands, it knows that something is wrong, and so does the Doctor.  First they find the ghosts.  An old looking man and Moran lead them to the abandoned spaceship with odd writing on one of it’s walls.  Was it a trap?  The ghosts appeared almost indifferent to the presence of Clara and the Doctor at first, but now they’re trying to kill them.  As Clara and the Doctor run through the base, they find the surviving crew members hiding in a room that is actually a giant Faraday cage, which the ghosts cannot enter.  Why is there a base on the bottom of a lake?  If ghosts aren’t real, what are these creatures?  Are ghosts real?  What are they after?


The base is underwater because years ago it was a military base/town situated by a dam that burst, covering the area with water.  The crew of the underwater base are military but the base is owned by a petroleum exploration company, represented by Pritchard (Steven Robertson), who want to dig up the oil that was found on the site.  The Doctor introduces himself with his psychic paper which reveals his UNIT credentials to the crew.  Remember the crew are military, so they are connected with UNIT, and all fall in line under the Doctor’s leadership.  One crew member, O’Donnell (Morven Christie) seems especially starstruck meeting the man that she has heard so much about in the UNIT archives.  I really liked O’Donnell, and wondered what it would be like if she were to become the Doctor’s next companion.  Following the Doctor’s lead, the crew run from and fight the ghosts (they really don’t seem to be able to handle electromagnetism), and eventually decrypt the message they keep repeating, and we start to understand that they are after a stasis chamber from the spaceship that was removed at some point.  The ghosts up their attacks on the Doctor, Clara and the crew, as they begin to use the base’s technology to their advantage.  As the episode closes, the ghosts have caused a malfunction and the base is being flooded with water.  Racing to safe quarters, and to the TARDIS, the Doctor, O’Donnell and Bennett (Arsher Ali) are cut off from Clara, Cass (Sophie Leigh Stone) the deaf senior officer who is now in charge, and Lunn (Zaqi Ismail) her sign language translator.  The Doctor can still get to his TARDIS, so he takes O’Donnell and Bennett with him, on a trip some three hundred years into the past, to a time before the village was covered by the lake so they can solve whatever is going on in their present; but that leaves Clara trapped with the ghosts…


This was a pretty good episode, and it was in fact the first of a two-parter.  I was unsure if the entire season would be made up of two part episodes, and didn’t think that this one would be, but it turns out I was wrong.  I don’t mind that really though, because this episode really packed a lot of energy.  Horror, excitement, a good mystery and the clever and interesting crew characters had me drawn in. I’m hoping that the mystery isn’t as easy to solve as I immediately thought.  My quick interpretation based on the clues from the episode is that the missing power cell would be either in the village or in the stasis unit itself and that once it is returned to the spaceship, it would bring the “ghosts” back into phase with our reality.  I also really liked how they left the cliffhanger for this episode, as the Doctor is separated from Clara so next week we’ll get to see her do a few things on her own.  Plus we’ll get to see the Doctor on his own a bit too.  Some of my favourite episodes from the “New Who” era have been the “Doctor-less” episodes (like Love & Monsters, Blink and Turn Left) or the “Companion-less” episodes (like Voyage of the Damned, Midnight, The Lodger, Christmas Carol, and The Doctor’s Wife), and we may get a small taste of both styles next week.  

As I said, this was another pretty darn good episode and I’m quite happy with this very young ninth season.  That is not something I expected to be saying at all this year!  I’ve been a fairly vocal “Moffat hater” the last few years, I really didn’t like the direction he took the show, the characters, the plots, virtually everything.  This year things seem to have turned around.  I’m not saying the show is out of the woods, I’m not saying that everything is perfect or just as it should be, but it seems, for now at least, to be headed in the right direction.  Gone is what I called “Moffat music”, the orchestral crescendo that got louder and louder to remind the audience that something exciting was happening.  Back is the “smart” storytelling, and gone are the “clever” stories, which upon inspection were anything but clever, but also couldn’t help but come across as though they were screaming at the audience to ensure us that we were watching something very clever.  Gone is the sonic screwdriver and in are the sonic sunglasses….well, that may need to be corrected at some point (remember, I didn’t say it was all roses).  And it seems, back is the caring and protective, heroic, scientific, curious and intelligent Doctor that I grew up loving.  I keep wanting to tune in next week, and that’s the best thing about this season.

The Good:

  • A suspenseful story that was well laid out, leading us where it wanted, and keeping us hooked all the way.  It didn’t need to smash us over the head with how it was doing it, it just did it.
  • Pretty intense “monsters”, especially because we don’t know what they are, who they are, or what they want.
  • This season really does seem to be all about relationships.  The Doctor mentioned them in the TARDIS scene with Clara, and we got a further insight into their relationship, and I must say it far, far better than the junk we were given between them last year.
  • I guess I’ll get my wish and enjoy a small taste of how O’Donnell would fare as a companion next week as she travels back with the Doctor to Before the Flood.
  • No snakes

The Bad:

  • We have to wait a week to see what happens!  Two-parters could be the suspenseful death of me.

The Ugly:

  • Practical use of the “sonic sunglasses”, which probably means they’re sticking around for a while.  Of course we’ve yet to see him open a door with them…or run down a dark hallway wearing them…

Next week: Before the Flood!

Doctor Who Magician’s Apprentice Series 9 Episode 1 Review

S9e1


Series 9 Episode 1 has finally aired.  After months of anticipation, with many eager fans chomping and drooling at every bit of released information, every behind the scenes picture, every extra interview, every guest star announcement, September 19th, 2015, 9:00 pm (EDT) we finally got what we’ve been waiting for.  But did we like it?


I think I did.  While there were still a few things that I had to groan at, for the most part, it seemed The Magician’s Apprentice delivered.


A foggy battlefield shows us a war on a distant planet, with a clash of anachronistic weapons.  Bows and arrows against laser firing bi-planes.  As the conflict seems to die down, a young boy is found trapped in a minefield, surrounded by “hand mines” — so named because they are hands with eyes in the palms, reaching up from the ground, detecting moving things and pulling them under the planet’s surface.  As we see a hand mine pull the man who was trying to help the boy under, another figure offers his assistance.  The Doctor tosses him his sonic screwdriver, and tells him that though he only has a one in a thousand chance to survive, he only needs that one.  He then asks the boy his name, to which he replies “Davros.”


An alien is seen visiting different planets looking for the Doctor.  He visits the Shadow Proclamation, and even Karn, unable to locate him.  He leaves a message for the Doctor with the Sisterhood from the dying Davros: “Davros knows, and Davros remembers”.  I’m a big fan of the show, and have been for more than twenty years so I’ve been more than a little worried since I heard that the series would be revisiting a young Davros.  My biggest worry is that it would erase or in someway ruin all that was Genesis of the Daleks. Genesis is a key story from the original series with Tom Baker as the Doctor, who was sent back by the Time Lords to a point before the creation of the Daleks with instructions to find a way to halt their future tendencies.  If he couldn’t destroy them, he was to find a weakness in them.  If you haven’t seen it, you should track it down.


Planes all over current day Earth are freezing in the sky, and Clara Oswald is called to UNIT to help locate the Doctor to help them solve this current crisis.  They don’t get the Doctor, but the other renegade Time Lord, the Master…..Missy.  Missy who contacts them through a psychic network somehow and has her face 3D pop out of a monitor in UNIT HQ.  Okay, now I can really tell that Moffat wrote this one.  Those sort of jokes, that sort of humour is just not needed in the show.  It’s the same as the “Boing” sound effect when the Doctor was put to sleep by Madam Vastra in last year’s premiere.  I think it really speaks down to the audience and insults their intelligence.  It seems now that Missy is the one freezing the planes so that she could get Clara’s attention, because she can’t find the Doctor either.  Now, hold on.  How is Missy back?  She is clearly the same Missy that we saw in Dark Water and Death in Heaven, because she references the late Danny Pink, so her being an instance from earlier in her own timeline doesn’t work.  I don’t think they really will have an explanation, and if they do, I think it will be pretty lame and forced together.  Whatever it is, it may be the same explanation that they use to bring Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) back, as she’s already been announced for the two Zygon episodes this season.


Missy tells Clara that she’s got the Doctor’s “will”, which is intended to be delivered to his closest friend.  Of course Clara assumes that means her, and it turns out that it was meant for Missy.  We actually get a somewhat decent explanation as to the nature of the relationship between the Doctor and the Master, and some minor character development too.  Eventually the duo come to trust each other a little bit, and manage to find the Doctor, who has been living out his expected last days by basically having a party for three weeks.  Here the Doctor rides into a medieval axe fight with an electric guitar and a military tank, as jokes are thrown about and it seems like the show will run right off the rails.  Fortunately it doesn’t, as the alien tracking the Doctor arrives to confront him and deliver him Davros’ message, as well as throwing back the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.  Did the Doctor help Davros escape the minefield?  Did Davros do it on his own, and curse the Doctor forever for not helping?  Is that why he created the Daleks in the first place?  (No, it isn’t, see Genesis of the Daleks again)  All of these questions are now on our mind as the Doctor, Clara and Missy are taken to Davros on a space station where he is clearly dying.  Separated from the Doctor, Missy and Clara discover that the space station is really a building on a planet that has been hidden and turned invisible.  That planet of course is Skaro, and we see the Dalek city, pretty much as it appeared in the original series back in 1963 (even the doors in Davros’ chamber were the same as the doors in the Dalek city in that first Dalek episode, which I thought was a very nice touch).  Cut off from his friends by Davros, the Doctor watches as Missy, Clara and his TARDIS are exterminated, killed and destroyed  by the Daleks.  We close on the young Davros again, still trapped in the minefield, but the Doctor has returned, proclaiming he’s not there to save the boy, but there to save his friends.  Raising a Dalek weapon, the Doctor shouts “Exterminate!”

The Good:

  • The “rock star” Doctor from the trailer made sense, and the humour worked well to offset the rest of the episode, and as I said didn’t turn things silly.
  • Nice throwbacks to the classic series with the designs of the Dalek city and even some classic Dalek colours too.  I’m partial to the blue sphere/silver casing models myself.
  • Also did you notice the Doctor seemed to be wearing the second Doctor’s pants (Troughton), and mentioned wearing a bow tie (11th) and a long scarf (4th)?
  • Good suspense all episode long.

The Bad:

  • Potential for lots of plot holes, such as how Davros survived Journey’s End (S4) and how we got to Skaro again, though they opened that plot hole in Asylum of the Daleks in S7.
  • Part of the cliffhanger was pretty good, the Doctor at the end was super effective, but Clara, Missy and the TARDIS being killed/destroyed were not.  We all know they’re not dead.  Clara’s been seen in publicity shots and trailers for future episodes, and obviously the Doctor will have the TARDIS.  Maybe they did decide to kill Missy, but I seriously doubt it.

The Ugly:

  • That stupid effect of Missy’s head coming out of the computer screen
  • The super creepy “messenger of Davros” (whose name I didn’t quite catch) was revealed to be a big snake covered in smaller snakes…really cool actually, and it explained the look of his face perfectly, and the gliding motion when he walked, but it still was ugly…because snakes creep me out!


I think I liked 95% of this episode, which is significant, because I’ve been turned off a lot the last few years by the direction Steven Moffat has take the show.  Still there was some “dumb” humour in this one that I didn’t like, but there was also some intelligent humour, and it thankfully stopped before it was taken too far.  I like the idea of having cliffhanger endings again, but I’m not sure I liked having the premiere episode be a two-parter.  A lot of this season it seems has been set up as two part episodes, though Moffat has gone on record saying that they’re not going to announce which ones will actually be two parts, and that some that we think will be won’t; and some that we wouldn’t expect to be, will.  That seems a little fishy to me, but we’ll have to wait and see.  I’m really looking forward to next week’s episode, and that is something I haven’t been able to say for quite a while.  Next week: The Witch’s Familiar

Doctor Who – Last Christmas episode review

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So, I was extremely busy in December, and beaten up by a case of the holiday blues, so doing a post on the the Doctor Who Christmas special was really one of the last things on my mind.  Now that the calendar has flipped to 2015, and the episode is now out on DVD,  I feel should put out my thoughts on Last Christmas, this year’s  special.  Was it special?  I didn’t really think so.  It wasn’t that it was terrible, but it certainly wasn’t a classic.

As unoriginality continues in the writing department, we were given Steven Moffat’s Whovian version of Inception for Christmas.  I went into this one with the expectation of not liking it.  I don’t like that, but unfortunately these last few years have soured me a lot on the show I love.  It seems to have become a merchandise machine that only pumps out material related to the Moffat years, and ignores the (in my opinion) superior earlier works.  Perhaps it’s all Christopher Eccleston’s fault.  If his Doctor had only appeared in the 50th Anniversary Special it have forced more attention onto the first years of “New Who”.  Ah well, we can’t change the past (unless it is written out of continuity).


Clara had said goodbye to the Doctor at the end of Series 8, and has moved on with her life, happy with Danny Pink, or at least that’s what she told the Doctor.  The Doctor has moved on and back to Gallifrey, using the information that the Master (or Missy if you must) gave him.  Of course both of these were just lies they told each other.  Through a series of events the Doctor rushes to Clara’s rooftop to save her from an interaction with Santa Claus (Nick Frost) and two of his elves, one played by Dan Starkey who is better known as Strax.  They end up going to the North Pole where they find an Arctic expedition who have had half the members of their team infected by face grabbing aliens who only react when you think about them (This time out, Moffat is telling us “don’t think”, kind of sums up his run as showrunner perfectly doesn’t it?)  The Doctor, Clara and the remaining members of the team; including Shona (Faye Marsay) and Professor Albert (Michael Troughton who is one of second Doctor Patrick ‘s sons); are attacked and enter a dream state.  The aliens/parasites send their victims into a dream state where they are then free to eat the brains of their prey.  Eventually everyone discovers this and wakes up to find out that they still inside a dream, from an earlier attack of the creatures.  Of course everything turns out well when the Doctor realizes what has been going on and how many nested dreams they’re all trapped inside.  He finally wakes up and goes to find an aged Clara who he hasn’t seen in some sixty years.  In a touching piece of writing, the Doctor shows how much he really does care for all his companions.  It had pretty much been announced that Jenna Coleman was leaving the show and I thought this aged Clara scene was a tasteful, classy way to write her off.  But then obviously something changed and Jenna has signed back up for at least a part of season nine, and it turns out that this was just another dream state.

I like Clara and I like Jenna Coleman, but I really didn’t like the about face, mainly because I doubt they’ll be able to write her exit any better than it was done here.  I also didn’t like that her first question when she was rescued was if she was young.  Congratulations on showing the audience how vain female characters are supposed to be.  I think that Clara is a character that they’ve forgotten how to write.  She was a nanny, she became a super computer genius, she became a teacher, and at some point I think they lost her.  It’s like they wanted a Zoe (Wendy Padbury) character, but didn’t know how to do it.  Now that I’ve said that it kind of makes sense.  Zoe was a “girl-genius” that travelled with the second Doctor, and we all know how much Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor was influenced by Troughton’s take.

Alien, The Thing, Inception, Nightmare on Elm Street.  Everything seemed to be borrowed in this one.  Some people said it was like Alien meets The Thing meets Miracle on 34th Street.  I didn’t get the 34th Street thing, other than Santa Claus was involved.  By the way, did anyone else think the tangerine shot at the end of the show was supposed to be like the top spinning at the end of Inception?  Overall the episode was okay.  A few neat thrills; the obligatory over complication of the story to show us that the writer is clever; and a few new characters that had potential.  I really liked the Shona character, and it looked as though they may have been teasing her to be the new companion, but alas, we’ll never know.  She seemed fun, and just interested in adventure, which is something I think all companions should be.


Bottom Line: Saturday night is still Doctor Who night.  Felt right to put this post up today.

#WhoDay Doctor Who Series 8 “Just the Good Stuff” wrap-up

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This season has been a tremendous disappointment to me.  Another top quality actor signs on for the lead, this time though, he’s let down by the writing; writing that was mostly done by the showrunner, Steven Moffat.  For weeks now, I’ve ranted and raved about what I did and didn’t like about the series, but sadly the “didn’t likes” got most of my attention.  So, before the finale tonight (which I’ve read has a tremendous, ridiculous moment that essentially thumbs it’s nose at fans) I’m going to go episode by episode and focus on the good.  There may not be a lot of points for some episodes as I’ve not rewatched anything from this season yet.  Why am I writing this?  Because I’m tired of being angry and negative towards my favourite show.  Hopefully by focusing on the positive, I’ll be able to appreciate the finale in a better mood.

Deep Breath

  • typical feeling out of the new Doctor character.
  • interesting tie back to Girl in the Fireplace.
  • good “monsters”.
  • nice bit of mystery as we assume “Missy” posted the ad in the paper.

Into the Dalek

  • I love Dalek stories.
  • I seem to remember an old ’80s comic series with the Doctor taking a “good” Dalek as his companion.  I remember hearing an interview with Gene Roddenberry explaining the inclusion of Worf in the TNG crew, he said basically that he couldn’t believe in a race/species that were all “bad”, there had to be some moderates, some good people.  This “good” Dalek idea would be neat to see revisited.
  • Nice bit of darkness with the Doctor throwing the sweets to the soldier who was about to die.
  • Nice glimpse into the Doctor’s character as we do see his darker memories, and it comes back to bite him while trying to “fix” the Dalek.

Robot of Sherwood

  • Good costumes?
  • A nice light hearted episode
  • Decent action scenes, perhaps because Peter Capaldi is an ancient 56 years old, they’re using characters like Robin (and Danny Pink) to do the “heavy lifting” in the action scene department.  And for the record, 56 isn’t that old, but later on in the series, it looks like Capaldi can’t run without looking like an awkward child.
  • Probably the closest we’ll get to a purely historical episode.

Listen

  • Great premise, and great scare potential.

Time Heist

  • You know I love heist movies, so I actually enjoyed this one somewhat.
  • The plot was decently laid out, even if a lot of it was predictable.
  • Interesting new characters.
  • Nice use of time travel.

The Caretaker

  • Well, this one will be as hard as Listen to list the positives…
  • I was glad that the robot was only sent a day or so into the future, because if it was resolved the first time around, the episode had a lot of time left to fill.  So I guess, decent suspense that the robot was going to come back.
  • The Doctor seemed more clever and gadgety this time out.  Nice to show that he is an alien genius again.
  • The Danny and Clara storyline is advancing?

Kill the Moon

  • Clever way of writing the moon’s lesser gravity out of the story so we didn’t need to use effects for it.
  • The alien bugs/spiders/bacteria looked pretty good.

Mummy on the Orient Express

  • Now we’re talking, a good old adventure with a mystery the Doctor can’t help but try to solve.
  • The Mummy was a pretty decent effect, fairly scary.
  • The murders just kept piling up as time was running out, and you could feel the pressure.
  • The Doctor was actually the focus of the story, not Clara.
  • Still left some mystery as we didn’t find out who “Gus” was.

Flatline

  • Really interesting aliens.  Really a great, and scary, concept.
  • Effects were pretty good.
  • Really liked the “trick” they pulled at the end to distract the monsters.
  • The Doctor was still very clever, and still very much a centerpiece of the episode, even though he was trapped for 90% of it.
  • Clara was a very good surrogate for the Doctor in this episode and it really felt like they were working as a team again; which is something I think should always be there in the Doctor/Companion relationship.
  • The ending was a bit rushed, but I didn’t need to know the technical details of how the Doctor vanquished the aliens.  I’ll assume he had solved it fairly early, like when he created the 2-Dis, and had been programming the sonic screwdriver through the episode.
  • Great, heroic speech from the Doctor, where it felt like he was putting his foot down, and Capaldi was claiming and embracing the role.

In The Forest of the Night

  • Another decent idea.
  • Kept me guessing, because of all the tropes that I thought they were going to fall back on and reuse, they didn’t.

Dark Water

  • Another good speech from the Doctor to Clara.  Capaldi’s acting has been good all season, just the scenarios and most of the dialogue they’ve given him have been pretty bad.  From reviews and criticisms I’ve read online, Peter is the only reason a lot of people have stuck it out this season.
  • We finally got the Cybermen that we saw in the preview for the series….though they didn’t do anything except stand up by the end of the episode.
  • We finally found out who Missy was, though it wasn’t hard to figure out.  Remember in Series 1 when Badwolf was explained?  Remember in Series 2 when Torchwood was introduced?  Remember in Series 3 when Mr. Saxon was revealed?  Remember in Series 4 when the bees were disappearing?  Alright, that one didn’t really lead to the finale, but each of the other seasons, something to do with the finale was hinted at throughout the season, but it wasn’t obvious.  How many people noticed the “Vote Saxon” sign in the alleyway in Smith and Jones the first time out?  42 was the only one I remember that had obvious scenes inserted that related to the Mr. Saxon sub-plot.  This season we had Missy plots/scenes in what seemed like the majority of the episodes, and they felt forced and I think took time away from properly finishing several stories.  Two minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but some stories could have benefited without the intrusion.


Wow, there wasn’t a whole lot that I liked was there?  In the “Moffat years”, that being Series 5 and up, I’ve only rewatched a few episodes (Lodger, Doctor’s Wife, and probably a couple more that I can’t think of right now).  I’ve only thought that a few were enjoyable enough to be worth rewatching, the rest have been largely forgettable.  This season, I will probably rewatch Deep Breath, just to see if there was something I missed that could make everything better and make sense.  I will likely rewatch Mummy and Flatline, but that’s it, and that is too bad.  I’m in the middle of rewatching the series from the beginning with my sons.  We’re up to Daleks In Manhattan, and they’re really enjoying it so far.  I’m worried, yet still interested, what they’ll think when we get to Series 5, and even more worried when we catch up completely.


Tonight is the finale, Death in Heaven.  I’m not looking forward to it.  It will have to do an enormous amount of things right to fix the wrongs of this season.

Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express Series 8 Episode 8 Review

The number of evil twice over, they that bear the Foretold’s stare, have sixty-six seconds to live.


I love a good mystery….


Mummy on the Orient Express was actually pretty good I thought.  It was probably the second episode this season I actually quite enjoyed.  I was tense though the whole episode long.  Especially at the end, where I was expecting things to go off the rails…sorry, train pun… I was expecting things to go off the rails in that typical Moffat style.  Where someone thinks there need to be twists added and egos to be stroked, and we’re not just allowed to enjoy what we have seen.


The Doctor takes Clara for a “last hurrah”, one more trip in time and space as she’s said that she hates him and wants to be done with their adventures.  They go to the Orient Express, a space train that reminded me of Galaxy Express 999.  As soon as they arrive they discover the death of a 100 year old woman who claimed to have seen a mummy coming towards her at the time of her death.  The mummy is The Foretold, an ancient myth.  A monster that is only visible to it’s victim and cannot be escaped, and once the mummy appears, the victim has sixty-six seconds to live.  As more passengers die, the Doctor takes charge of the investigation as he realizes that he and the other passengers are all experts in alien sciences and legends; just the sort of people he’d have around if he were trying to solve the mystery of the Foretold.  It turns out the train is a trap of sorts, and the passengers were all brought there by “Gus”, who it turns out is not just the name of the train’s computerized conductor system.  Gus has lured several expeditions to several ships to solve the mystery of the Foretold so he can reverse engineer the mummy’s abilities and use it, presumably as a weapon.  Now the Doctor and Clara have to not only fend off and solve the mystery of an invisible, teleporting mummy, but also deal with their murderous host who thinks nothing of expelling the cooking crew into space if the work his experts are doing on his problem are not to his liking.

  • The logic behind the mummy and it’s victims (and it’s abilities) I thought was actually well written and well thought out.
  • The Doctor talking to himself in the bed was a bit odd, but I suppose it worked, and built up a need for him to travel with Clara.  We’re shown what he might be like if he did actually travel alone.
  • It seemed there were too many people talking over each other.  This episode will need repeat watching because I’m sure I missed lots of important dialogue.
  • The episode seemed rushed, but I also thought it was the first of a two parter.
  • The train effect in space looked a bit cheap to me, but everything else looked pretty good.
  • I was half expecting Gus to be revealed as Max Capricorn
  • I was a little confused at the beginning as to why Clara was actually there after last week’s “break-up”.  It eventually made sense and worked, but I was kind of looking forward to an episode with only the Doctor.  It’s funny.  In the RTD era, I really enjoyed the “Doctor-less” episodes, but in the Moffat era, I yearn for “companion-less” episodes, like The Lodger or The Doctor’s Wife.

Okay, I’m on board for another week.  Time for some nachos.

Doctor Who: Kill the Moon Series 8 Episode 7 Review


I had high hopes.  Peter Harness hadn’t written a Doctor Who yet, and the trailer looked pretty spooky… but then I went on Twitter.


Okay, I’m watching now, and it starts off okay until we get the dialogue.  Things we’ve held true for the Doctor are being unravelled with each new line of the Moffat era.  The Doctor once said he hadn’t met anyone who wasn’t special.  Now apparently he’s telling a young girl that she’s nothing.  These reviews are getting too hard to write now, and it really really upsets me.  I’ve been sitting at my keyboard for twenty minutes trying to figure out what to say.  I liked the idea behind the story, I liked the moral, I liked the “fear factor”, but I don’t know.  Okay, I’ve gone out, had a bite to eat, digested my thoughts as well as my favourite steak sandwich.  (Go to Bugsy’s in St. Catharines, order the Robinson.  Tell them I sent you.  Trust me.  They make it on garlic toast!)  Here we go.  This synopsis will be full of spoilers so don’t read it if you haven’t watched it, because I’m not blanking this one out this time.


The Doctor takes Clara and her problem student Courtney on a trip to the moon, seemingly as a way to apologize for telling Courtney she was not special.  Instead of landing on the moon in 2049, they land on a space shuttle that is crashing into the moon with a payload of nuclear bombs to blow up Earth’s largest natural satellite.  The moon has gained several billion tons, now has it’s own gravity and is playing havoc with the tides on Earth.  Unable to solve the problem, Captain Lundvik leads the last remnants of an abandoned space program have been sent on a suicide mission to save the planet.  In an abandoned Mexican research outpost (on the moon, not Mexico), they discover massive amounts of cobwebs as well as the bodies of the Mexican crew who went missing a decade earlier.  The moon is infested with spider-like bacteria that are growing in numbers.  Eventually the Doctor discovers what the problem with the moon really is.  It turns out the moon is an egg, and for hundreds of millions of years it has been incubating a creature inside it that is now ready to hatch.  (The creature looks like some sort of space dragon which could be really really cool but it turns out isn’t that important to the story) The Doctor then leaves.  In what seems like an important storyline they find a way to write out the main character.  The Doctor tells Clara, Courtney and Captain Lundvik that he can’t see what is going to happen here, or knows what will become of the future based on their decisions, but that it is their decision and not his.  And with that he jumps into the TARDIS and leaves while the three women of Earth debate the morality of killing the baby creature that will soon hatch, not knowing what will happen to their planet when the rocky shell erupts.  Able to communicate with the planet via a television satellite, they ask the population if they should kill the creature to save the planet or let it live and take their chances.  They can signal the moon mission by turning off their lights if they vote for the bomb or leave them on if they vote for letting it live.   The people have spoken as all the lights on Earth are turned off.  Resigned to their fate, Clara stops the countdown at the last second and the Doctor returns to take them back to Earth and watch the fallout from their decision.  The moon hatches and the creature leaves with the egg disintegrating and posing no threat to the planet.  Now, the earth and humanity are set on their proper path back to exploring the stars because for once they looked up, and let something live when they could have destroyed it, and this rekindles their adventurous spirit.  In the wake of all this, a new egg is laid and we have a “new moon”.

  • Okay, so the space dragon, thing is born, and instantly lays a new moon egg ,the same size as the old moon.  Do none of these writers understand science?  physics?  math?  geometry?  How does something that big come from inside something that was inside something that size?  If a=size of the moon and b=size of the dragon and c=the size of the new moon,  a>b and a=c, which means c>b so how does b give birth to something the size of c?
  • They turned the decision whether to let the moon baby live or die into a phone in vote show.  Wow.
  • Could the Doctor stop doing silly walks and jumping around like a fool at the beginning of what seems like every episode?  Please?
  • Well, at least they didn’t make it seem the Mexican expedition to the moon brought the spiders/aliens/germs/bacteria with them in a bag of oranges, which I sadly feared they were going to do.  It’s bad enough that I’m pretty sure I saw a poncho, and thankfully what I thought on  first glance was possibly a sombrero in the base was probably just a chair.
  • What sort of astronaut captain is allowed to wear diamond earrings into space?
  • I did like the notion of the abandoned space program being set back on it’s feet by the incident and mankind looking to the stars again because of it.  Well done, even if it was possibly done as a commentary on the state of the space programs today.


There were good things about this episode: it was spooky-ish, had a decent enough moral message and the supporting cast was very good.  I personally would like to have seen Hermione Norris’ Lundvik join the TARDIS crew for a while, but to quote the prophet Jagger, “you can’t always get what you want” (my favourite line from an old episode of House).  Danny Pink was actually well written this time out, and of course both Jenna and Peter delivered excellent performances though the writing of the Doctor’s character was not exactly to my liking.


I can relate the final argument between Clara and the Doctor to my feelings for this entire eighth season.  I don’t feel respected as an audience member, or as a fan.  I think Moffat is treating us as though we are little humans who are tiny, silly and predictable.  Moffat was our friend before.  He took the reigns of our show, and we thought we were safe in his hands.  He was one of us, a fan who loved the show, he walked on our earth and breathed our air, and he made us his friend by writing all those wonderful episodes he wrote in the first four seasons.  Now, as Clara told the Doctor, we want him to clear off and not to come back.  She’s done, and a lot of us are done too.  A lot of fans are very close to being finished with the show, but it’s true what Danny Pink said, you’re never finshed with someone while you’re stil angry with them.  I suppose that’s why we still watch, and why I will keep watching this season out, but I’m very very close to breaking like Clara, because I’m definitely angry with Steven Moffat.  Was this scene a veiled rant from another writer to express his frustrations with the showrunner?  Or was it a somewhat clever trolling attempt by the showrunner?  Speculate as you wish.


With Clara seemingly taking a timeout from her adventures in space and time next week (or two, as Mummy on the Orient Express is the first episode of a two-parter) perhaps we’ll finally see the Doctor shine on his own and not be shoved to the background of his own show.  Jamie Mathieson hasn’t written any Doctor Who before, but he did write several episodes of Being Human, and the film Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, which I found very enjoyable.  Who knows.

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