Saturday, January 3, 2009

Who is this 11 year old Doctor? Oh he's the 11th Doctor?

It was just announced that Matt Smith was the 11th Doctor when Doctor Who returns in 2010. Well, I guess the kid will be a year older by then.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Episodes 2 through 10

Well, I have finally had the chance to catch up on this season of Doctor Who and I thought I would reflect on the episodes I have seen so far before I watch the last three episodes.

"The Fires of Pompeii"

The second episode I thought was very good, better than partners in crime. I liked seeing the Doctor interact with actual historical events (well sort of); from what I understand there is actually very little known about the real city of Pompeii, other than it was destroyed by a volcano, so there was room to take a lot of liberties in the story.

The story itself was good, I enjoyed the mystery and the revelation that many of Pompeii’s citizens were turning to stone before the volcano erupted. I also enjoyed the foreshadowing in the prophesies about the Doctor and Donna. “Doctor, she has returned” was obviously about Rose, and we will just have to see what the prophesy “There is something on your back” is referring to with Donna.

The rock monsters were great, not to mention all the sets, costumes and effects. I also enjoyed. The story’s conclusion also took an insightful turn as Donna was clearly needed to act as the Doctor’s conscience and keep him from giving into the calluses that often come with living through pain, despair and disappointment.

"The Fires of Pompeii" is a very solid episode and a good sign of things to come for the rest of season four.

"Planet of the Ood"

I was looking forward to seeing the Ood again after their appearance in season two, hoping we might learn more about them. In this regard the episode did not disappoint. There was something poetic about the revelation that instead of the translation sphere that we see the Ood with, the Ood instead naturally hold a "hind brain" that gives them individuality. Donna points out that it should be obvious that having to do this would make the Ood very peaceful.

Of course what it also did was make the Ood easy targets for big industry which once their “hind brains” were removed and replaced with the translation spheres, the Ood become subservient; the Doctor of course rebukes the CEO of Ood Operations for lobotomizing them. The Ood themselves execute their ultimate lesson for the CEO as they transform into an Ood. This was of course a bit of poetic justice, but it also flirted with being a bit cheesy.

"Planet of the Ood" was another good episode overall. I also don’t want to forget to mention the incredible alien landscapes in this episode; you really got a sense that they were visiting an alien world.

"The Sontaran Stratagem" and "The Poison Sky"

The first two-parter of the year bring back some classic villains that look like the Mr. Potato head army. As only a casual fan of the classic series I was not very familiar with the Sontarans, but like always, the story was written in a way that new fans could be introduced and still give the older fans a nod that references classic Who. Likewise, UNIT was also part of the story, a classic organization that I believe goes back to the 3rd Doctor during his exile on earth.

But for me and other new Who fans it was the return of Martha that we were excited about. Martha really grew on me last season and I was glad I did not have to wait very long for her return this season. Out of all the modern companions she has had the most growth as a character, at least the most in the shortest amount of time. I also appreciated the fact that the reunion with Martha did not involve her predictably having contention with Donna. This would have been way to obvious and it was better to have the Doctor being surprised right along with the audience.

As for the story itself, it was an OK enough story complete with lots of action and the redemption of boy genius villian Luke Rattigan giving his life to save the day in the end. It was also good that Martha’s return did not in anyway take away from Donna’s character to continue to develop. We get to see Donna’s mother and grandfather again and Martha warns Donna that as wonderful as the Doctor is when you get to close to the Doctor, like fire, you or the ones you love can get burned.

This was a decent two-parter, I was sad to see Martha wanting to part ways again, but I was glad that the Tardis seemed to have other plans and whisked her away for at least one more episode with the Doctor and Donna. I have always like it when the Doctor had two companions with him anyway; it just seems like there is better chemistry all the way around when this happens.

"The Doctor's Daughter"

For me, this episode was more fun anticipating after seeing the “next time” teaser than the episode actually was. I am not saying that it was terrible or anything, it was enjoyable, but I don’t think it lived up to its potential. Jenny, played by Peter Davison’s (real name Peter Moffett) daughter Georgia Moffett, did a great job. She was definitely played it in a way that I wanted to see more of her character; and as much as this is the case the obvious set up for a possible spin off series did not sit well with me.

I did think the character development was great between the Doctor and his “daughter” in the short amount of time they had. The idea that his genetic “offspring” was created as a war machine did make for some great tension. The development of course came as Jenny learned a different way of life counter to her “programming” and the Doctor learned to accept her and give her a chance.

The problem I had was the lack of commitment to Jenny’s death in the story, which was too contrived, and ended up not being a death at all. Despite the creative twist about the war only being a week long, the episode has too many obvious and conflicting agendas; Create a sad moment for the Doctor to remind us again how “alone he is” and keep the character alive for another appearance on the show or start a spin-off. In the end, I kind of felt like I was just being manipulated despite some great performances.

"The Unicorn and the Wasp"

I am not a big Agatha Christie fan, and so most of the inside jokes and nods given to her work went over my head. In the end it was a nice “who done it” episode, but the giant bee transformation was a bit corny.

"Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead"

This was the second two parter of series 4 and the best episodes of the year. The episodes written by Steven Moffat are always among my favorite and while not Moffat’s best work the episodes do not disappoint.

The mysterious River Song, who is revealed to be the Doctor’s future trusted companion, lets us know that there will finally be real life after Rose at some point. We learn that Doctor can have a close relationship with another companion, close enough to share his real name, and this person not be Rose- or to our knowledge have any romantic implications. Both Martha and Donna have lived in the shadow of Rose, and so a future for companions without that shadow is refreshing.

In the end you have to admit that the story is part rip off of the matrix, but you can easily forgive that because of how well the story was told. The “virtual life” ended up being the salvation for all those lost in the library, that were “saved” by the computer when the shadows of Vashta Nerada appeared so that the Doctor might retrieve them later. And of course the virtual world was used to save River Song in the end from complete death. And the virtual world allowed Catherine Tate to earn her acting merit mage as Donna Noble, as she gave a convincing performance as a “virtual” mother trying to reconcile what is real and what isn’t.

Again, I think these were the best episodes of season 4 and a hopeful sign as Steven Moffat is positioned to take the reigns as producer when Russell T. Davies steps down.


I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. As the season approached the final three episodes I half expected this one to be “mailed in”. With some of my recent disappointments with RTD’s writing I found this to be one of his best stand alone stories. In addition to this, it was also one of the best acting performances by Tennant and the other characters I have seen.
The special effects department did spend some money on some beautiful alien landscapes, but in the end it wasn’t the special effects that made the performance so convincing. Essentially the whole story took place in one small room aboard a train, and all the drama came only from brilliant acting performances. It was nice to see the exploration of the human condition so wonderfully conveyed by the all actors involved.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rest of Season 4 Trailer

Yikes!! I am so behind on watching season 4 and it looks like it will just keep getting better. The last episode I watched was "Planet of the Ood", but I have not had time to watch an others or blog about about the little I have seen so far. If only I had a time machine where time was no object I might be able to keep up with the Doctor and still keep up with a busy life.

I don't have a time machine, but I know some of you more serious Doctor Who fans just might. And because of that I will have to ask you to step back in time to weeks past as I share my thoughts on episodes from earlier this season. I'll write more soon about these episodes as I gradually get a chance to watch them. In the meantime, this trailer for the second half of the season makes me even more excited about things to come.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Partners in Crime Review

Well episode 1 of season 4 finally aired in the U.S. and I must say that I enjoyed watching our eccentric Doctor running around and tracking down clues with what suspiciously looked like a “flux capacitor” from Back to the Future; though the Doctor's device itself had nothing to do with time travel.
Anyway, I thought the episode was a great start, and much like the very first episode “Rose” of season 1 and the first episode of season 3 “Smith and Jones”, it focused a lot on introducing the Doctor’s new companion; even though we already know Dona Nobel from her Christmas special appearance. Perhaps, this was a way to re-introduce her as they tried hard to give her a slightly softer side this time; with what I think was only a mixed degree of success.

We of course got to see more of her family, her grandfather, a likeable stargazer we met before in "Voyage of the Damned", and more of her mother from “the Runaway Bride”, where we see Donna gets the vocal side of her personality. The scenes Donna had with her “gramps” seemed only good for telling us that Donna regretted letting her opportunity with the Doctor slip through her fingers. What we didn’t get though is what changed Donna’s mind about the Doctor and why she was no longer to some degree frightened of him or the thought of sharing his adventures. The only idea we get at all is that she somehow began to see the Doctor as a hero as the earth witnessed the intergalactic events that seemed to have come so close since she had last seen the Doctor.

I did very much enjoy the ongoing bit of the Doctor and Donna just missing one another. This theme extended also to other aspects of the show as well as Donna’s stargazer grandfather had his telescope facing the wrong way when an alien spacecraft passed behind him in the sky. It also was used at the end as we find out that Rose was just around the corner from the Doctor and the Tardis, just missing them. More on this in a moment.

I also thought the “conversation” between the Doctor and Donna through the windows, when the discovered one another was very witty and well performed. This is where Catherine Tate’s comedic skills really paid off. The “your not matting with me sunshine” line was also funny, but her over reaction to her misunderstanding of what the Doctor said was not quite as believable. I mean, I can see how someone could mishear the Doctor’s statement that he “wants a mate”, but something along the lines of “excuse me” or “did you just say…” makes more sense. I think most people would at least entertain the idea that hearing something as forward as they thought may have been do to hearing it wrong. Then again perhaps Donna is still a bit leery of “Alien boy”; yet she gave no other signs of it in this particular episode; in fact we are given the opposite impression.

As for the Doctor “wanting a mate”, we definitely get this message in the short scene where the Doctor finds himself talking to himself all alone in the Tardis. We are reminded that the RTD’s Doctor is “lonely” as the Face of Boe and Madame de Pompadour pointed out way back in seasons two. (Forget Rose Doctor, go get Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson played by Sophia Myles; now that would be a companion.) Anyway, the Doctor’s loneliness is clearly articulated in this episode, as well as his expressed desire for just a platonic relationship and companionship. We will just have to see what this means for the upcoming return of Rose and the romantic tension that existed between her and the Doctor.

Rose’s “return” as a deliberate foreshadowing of what will come by the end of the season was very appreciated; mostly because my wife doesn’t like spoilers and I was glad I did not have to work to keep the news of Rose’s return a secret anymore. Good thing my wife doesn’t visit this blog, I would have let the cat person right of the bag long ago. We don’t learn much except that Rose is still sad and perhaps still looking for the Doctor as she apparently found a way to move between worlds. Apparently, like Donna trying to find the Doctor by tracking down alien events, Rose was checking out this galactic encounter with the Adipose where we can assume she was hoping that where galactic trouble strikes the Doctor usually isn’t far away.

Ok, this was over all an enjoyable episode for one that was attempting to set the table for the season. By the way the “Bad wolf” type season arc reference may be “The bees are disappearing”; whatever that means. It seems like we have a lot of good stuff to look forward too.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Season Four is Here

Season/Series four of Doctor Who began this weekend in the UK, but here in the US we will have to wait two more weeks till April 18th! Without giving too much away, I would love to hear about how well it was received in the UK.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Can Who Make Time for War?

I doubt they will ever do it, but I would love to see one of the TV specials planned for after series 4 to be dedicated to telling us about the time war; at least as part of a flash back that would be related to a current storyline involving Tennant. It just would be great to see Paul McGann back as the Doctor, giving him a chance to be the older wiser version of his character that he only had one opportunity to play on television. And of course seeing the regeneration from 8 to 9 would be great too ending with a nice cameo of Eccleston to fill in all the gaps .

Here is one of the best fan made video's I have seen that at least can give us a pretty good taste of what that might be like.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Waiting for Who

No I haven't fallen into the vortex of nothingness, I am just quietly waiting for the Doctor to return to television for season 4. All has been quiet and I am not aware of any new rumors of significance since the beans were spilled about the return of Rose. So without any real good rumors (unless I simply haven't heard them) what is a doctor Who fan to do during these quiet in between times?

I had thought I would pick up some of the Big Finish audio productions; I have not heard any of these and it might be fun to explore more of Paul McGann's incarnation of the Doctor in particular. I would be open to hear recommendations as to which productions may be the best or the best to begin with.

I am sure for old time Doctor Who fans this wait between seasons is nothing. The Doctor what off TV for almost 16 years with only one TV movie in the middle to break things up. So, I ask you experienced Doctor Who fans, what do we do in these in between times?